brightlywoven: Pickwick the dodo, one of a kind, hand made by my stepmum (dodo)
A terrible thing has happened to me.

My favourite grown up book store in Melbourne is called Readings. On my last visit there I bought a beautiful illustrated ABC for a child, a Leonard Cohen DVD for exactlyhalf (DVD of the concert we went to!), CD of the same for my dad, and the final installment of an Australian fantasy for myself (excellent series by Alison Croggan, a Melbourne poet. Plot is a trifle derivative, but the prose and characters are lovely, she has the opposite of race fail (and it's taken me this long to appreciate how great that is) and features some quite beautiful poetry/song) 
While I was there on a Tuesday evening it was full of all these urban looking people were drinking red wine from tumblers to celebrate the launch of a picture storybook. One such lovely person was one of exactlyhalf's oldest family friends, and being there was like a glimpse of heaven - books, music, red wine and lovely company.

Anyway, I've loved this store for a decade. And given the context of its being a bookstore, it's pretty obvious how the name should be pronounced, only...



The truly embarrassing bit? I teased exactlyhalf mercilessly the first time he did that on a visit home. I've done it EVERY SINGLE TIME I've referred to it. Oh the shame *exaggerated woeface*
brightlywoven: Pickwick the dodo, one of a kind, hand made by my stepmum (grrr)
 OK, so most of the BBC Ross/Brand commentary is exceedingly boring. Stupid idea, and not funny. But how many of the people complaining would actually ever have been listening to the show? Essentially the whole storm seems to have been brewed up in order
a) for boring people to have something to whine about (see for the long history of this)
b) for the conservatives to undermine public broadcasting on the flimsiest of pretexts.
c) both

I was unimpressed to hear the chairman of the BBC trust complaining about programs on the beeb sailing close to the wind (in general) around 'young and impressionable' listeners, and declaring this must stop. Thinking about the level of (albeit clever) smut on radio 4 programs like ISIHAC, it's clear that the debate about censorship hasn't advanced much since the obscenity trial of Lady Chatterley's Lover, where the prosecuting QC asked the jury 'would you allow your wife or even your servants to read this book'. That is to say, no of course such material doesn't corrupt *me* but won't you *please* think of the children???
brightlywoven: Pickwick the dodo, one of a kind, hand made by my stepmum (Default)
If anyone is not watching Stephen Fry in America, I heartily endorse. Enjoy such delights as Stephen tastes bourbon:

"Chris, don't think me pretentious, this smell (sniff) is an autumnal walk in the countryside, probably about seven miles from Aldershott, (sniffs glass) on the fringe of an old wood, a spinney or a (sniff) a copse possibly if not a spinney, it's a copse definitely (sniffs), yes it's a copse. And there's a labrador, a slightly wet labrador panting, and a little bit of that labrador's breath is in here. That sounds bad but it isn't. I think Stevie should have a little lie down."

So after my recent call for British Comedy (to which I already have a leaning of love), we have been thoroughly enjoying Mock the week (Frankie Boyle is awesome) and Never mind the Buzzcocks. Also Mitchell and Webb. I have been getting the news quiz on my ipod to listen to in the car, and am eagerly awaiting the return of The Now Show (and ISIHAC in June 2009!). Tonight I found out who Fern Brittan is.

So these news comedies are a gentle segue into the next gaping hole in my knowledge. Politics. So assume I'm basically competent at keeping up to date with current events, but have very little knowledge of the big figures prior to 2006. (Where prime ministers are big enough to make it onto the australian news radar, but cabinet ministers probably aren't.) Enough so that my reaction to the recent reshuffle was "Mandy who?"

I'd welcome nominations of figures it would be worth googling short bios of, as well as your favourite political anecdotes. (After all, I get to vote over here!)
brightlywoven: Pickwick the dodo, one of a kind, hand made by my stepmum (lalala)
exactlyhalf 'Is Stephen Fry gay?'
dr_b 'come on, what was his most famous role?'
exactlyhalf 'Colonel Melchett?'

Judge, regarding a man who has murdered both his children by stabbing them

" For any man to kill his child is a ghastly, horrific crime. To kill two of your children, each in different ways vulnerable and under your trust, is almost unimaginable."

Now, maybe I am deeply twisted, but halfway through this, I was convinced he was going to say 'looks like carelessness'.

Also! Today we had bundles of crap flying around the ward, when the nurse co-ordinating told me that 'what I had said restored his sense of balance'. Huh? Turns out he overheard me taking a patient's history and saying 'So, apart from the cancer, the back pain, the high blood pressure, high cholesterol and constipation - do you have any other medical problems? No?' Apparently this sounded much like 'So, apart from wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us? Nothing!'

Just how I like my days: pythonesque.

ETA: OK, clearly I overestimated the well-knownness of Wilde
brightlywoven: (booze)
(inspired by foreverdirt's latest link)

One thing I have found to stand between me and the feeling that England is home, has been my lack of familiarity with the people of pop and political culture. I have for indtance, rarely any idea who humph is snarking about in ISIHAC. Partly this is because I have no tv. However, rather than get one, then try to trawl through for the good bits, I am asking you, dear friends list to point me the right way.

Week one: comedy

Can you suggest British comedy or comedians that would probably not be known internationally which I might enjoy? (eg a passing comment from shanith led me to mitch benn. Awsome)
brightlywoven: Pickwick the dodo, one of a kind, hand made by my stepmum (grrr)
So in the last week I've lost count of the number of times someone has asked me to express chagrin that 'Team GB' (seriously?) has won more gold medals than Australia at the Olympics. Seriously. As though I ought to start gnashing my teeth in despair at this fact.

I've always been rather ashamed at the fact that, per head of population, Australia features quite highly in these tables, because, frankly, it suggests we spend far too much money to enable people to take part in elite competitions. It doesn't reflect the sporting prowess (or participation) of the average Australian, but does highlight a rather nasty aspect of our culture - that we care deeply about being the winner in zero sum games. To see the Brits now aspiring to that is depressing.

To have radio 4 natter on about how they have more medals than Australia for more than 10 minutes every morning is a bore, and undermines the high ground Britain had previously held (in being able to claim to have more important things to care about).

Next time the Daily Mail rails at NICE for 'trying to put a price on human life',
maybe they could ask how many cancer drugs could be funded with the £12 billion budget for 2012. And instead of bemoaning the use of public money to treat 'obesity and IVF',
maybe Terry Pratchett could hassle the cycling team to fund his Aricept.
brightlywoven: Pickwick the dodo, one of a kind, hand made by my stepmum (hand gesture)
There are things I freely admit This Country does far better than My Country. These include but are not limited to: spring, beer, architecture, meadows, summer evenings, rivers and river sports, pudding, water recycling and comedy.

There are however some things in which I think My Country could give This Country some lessons. I have previously listed coffee and brunch. To this I add beaches, voter enrollment, election night broadcasting and hospital communications systems. It would spark endless controversy if I added cricket[1] and tea[2], but they do rightly belong on this list.

Now I add exams. Honestly, this finals system is an effing travesty, which seems to in no useful way assess the intellectual achievements of very bright and hard working people. Those of you who are/have just/have previously suffered through it have much admiration from me. Can those of you now climbing the pole of academia not, like, fix it?

[1] Perhaps our teams could be more gracious, but we are still better at actually playing the game successfully, you know it's true ;)

[2] In My Country, this beverage does not come with a floaty layer of scum on top. I've been told this is at least partly due to Oxford water. I intend to investigate this further with the help of an antipodean friend currently holidaying up north.

OK, I make two qualifying concessions

1. Apparently English tea is only scummy if you live in a hard water area, and these do exist in Australia as well. (I knew mentioning tea would start a war!)

2. The abysmal exam system may be largely limited to Oxbridge. So that means it's only inflicted on a large number of the most academically inclined undergrads. Goody.
brightlywoven: Pickwick the dodo, one of a kind, hand made by my stepmum (Default)
Exam over - hooray! It went OK, I think, but I won't know for about a month, so that's at least a month off study.

Had a lovely post-exam drink, then went to see I'm Not There at the phoenix with exactlyhalf, emily_shore and parrot_knight. I do plan to write a review of sorts of what was probably the best 'biography' film I've seen (as well as being a good film in it's own right), but right now I've just read that one of the six Dylans - and one of the 2 Australian Dylans in the film - Heath Ledger, has died of what sounds like an accidental or deliberate overdose. He was 28.

It rather gives poignancy to the entire idea of life lived in the spotlight, observed and commented upon.
brightlywoven: Pickwick the dodo, one of a kind, hand made by my stepmum (fire)
Well, actually, it was below freezing, and it became one of those times it is made apparent to me I am living in a different country (not in a transported bubble of normality as I sometimes think). It looked frosty outside, so I cleverly remembered to take a big bottle of warmish water on the 5 minute trek to where my car is parked. Poured said water over frosted windshield and windows. Said water turned into a (thicker) layer of ice.

I ended up resorting to running the engine and heater while defrosting the glass with my hands, which were (ever so slightly) above freezing, until I could actually see.

I can envisage I'm going to have to invest in some sort of squidgee-scraper thingummy.
brightlywoven: Pickwick the dodo, one of a kind, hand made by my stepmum (daffodils)
You know you're in England when (number 452)
- You're at a party in early September, and suddenly everybody stands up and sings during Pomp and Circumstance (though they don't know the words)
- This is followed shortly after by everybody standing up and singing Jerusalem (and they do know the words - and some actions)
- Late comers arriving at this point ask 'why we're singing Jerusalem so early?' (not knowing that it's last night of the proms, but thinking that singing Jerusalem is perfectly normal behaviour later on in any party).

To be fair, the whole thing was more rousing than the Australian equivalent (singing Cold Chisel's 'Khe Shan' "Well the last plane out of Sydney's almost gone/ In under seven flying hours and I'll be landing in Hong Kong/ And there ain't nothing like the kisses/ Of a jaded chinese princess...")
brightlywoven: Pickwick the dodo, one of a kind, hand made by my stepmum (Default)
OK, here I am, stuck on night shift and there are NO PATIENTS!

I bought some study (which I don't yet feel like doing), but no novel, so I'm thinking, now is a good time for fanfic recommendations.

(That I can safely read on a work computer ;)


Apr. 27th, 2007 11:02 pm
brightlywoven: Pickwick the dodo, one of a kind, hand made by my stepmum (Default)
My english bank account has got english pounds in it!

Today was my first pay day. My first real pounds, that didn't have to get changed from dollars.

Do I feel like a real person, or what?
brightlywoven: Pickwick the dodo, one of a kind, hand made by my stepmum (Default)
...Is it really OK to use the word 'poorly' as an adjective?

I might, with the soundest of grammar say
That house is poorly constructed.
Considered on an hourly basis I may be poorly paid, but in some of those hours, I get to sleep!

But can I really and truly say:

His stomach has been poorly.

Poorly what? Poorly ventilated? Poorly exposed? It's an adverb, dammit! Yet for the past few nights, I have heard seemingly well educated people say sentences very similar to the above.

So how is it that this little adverb has come to be so sorely misued?


brightlywoven: Pickwick the dodo, one of a kind, hand made by my stepmum (Default)

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