July 24th, 2013


Bleary in Bristol

I fell asleep reading a book about Japanese grammar, and dreamed that I was at school and late for German class - a class that my own daughter was also attending (though a little embarrassed to be seen associating with me). Also present was someone known only as Trolley - who I realised even in my dream must actually be Sir Walter Ralegh, since Wat Ralegh (pron. Rawley) --> 'Trawley --> Trolley. Why pay psychoanalysts to unpick the kind of verbal legerdemain that you can decode in your sleep?

The thrills of conjugating Japanese adjectives aside - though they truly are awesome, that's no jest - I put this dream down to my being about to go to York for a couple of days to visit my old doctoral supervisor and his wife. He's the man who commissioned me to write an article on "Colin Clouts Come Home Againe" recently - Spenser's poem about travelling to England with Ralegh. Not only that, soon after I left his care he and his family went to Japan for a year, whence they returned much impressed with the culture. All roads lead to Whipmawhopmagate (by way of Kyoto).

Moral: I must buy an omiyage.


This lunchtime I went to buy my piece of Bristol Blue Glass from the company's new factory and shop. This turns out to be just over the road from Arnos Vale Cemetery - so, naturally, I went in.

Arnos Vale is Bristol's most famous cemetery, full of outlandish obelisks and chapels. For much of my time in Bristol it was falling into picturesque ruin, but in the last few years it has been restored by volunteers and is now as thrusting and dynamic a cemetery as you could hope to see, with sinuous walks and vistas, a cafe and a shop. Why, they're even doing an open-air production of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead there later this month - genius!

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I like the cemetery the way it is now. The trouble is, I liked it more when it was overgrown and falling to pieces. Witness, in particular, the transformation that has overtaken my twisty angel.

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Is this really a change for the better? I'm far from certain. Of course, its previous quaint decrepitude would eventually have degraded further, into vandalism, faceless stone, sans everything. But that fragility too was part of its appeal.

Meanwhile, I'm a sucker for cobalt...
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Hogging the Cash

Naturally I'm delighted that they're at last going to put another Hampshire novelist on the £10 note. Austen is a worthy successor to Dickens, and although I don't begrudge Darwin his interregnum it's about time they brought it home to God's own county.

One useful feature of the Dickens note was that, if folded correctly so as to combine the top of his head with the bottom of the queen's, it produced a very passable imitation of the young John McEnroe.

10 pounds


I look forward to Jane Austen and Elizabeth Windsor making a lifelike Martina Navratilova.