2003 Christmas Imported From Epistula love

Lonecat's Christmas present has arrived

The Saga Of The Christmas Gifts will be told at the weekend, when it ends.

Lonecat's Present

2003 Imported From Epistula


Today, I did nothing.

Well, that isn’t true. Today I watched about 12 episodes of the first season of Scrubs, wished I didn’t have a sprained wrist, and pottered around fixing lights, shelves and code. I’ve still yet to unpack from New Years, but generally life goes on.

So, a review of the year then:

Jobless, Homeless, Housed, Squatters, Lack of money. Hiatus, Return, Job.

So, a balance is returned. I begin this year as I began the previous one, employed and looking forward to remaining so. May this actually happen this time.

Plans for the year:

Move. Write. Get Published.

2003 Christmas Imported From Epistula music

The stockings were hung on the mantle with care

So here it is, Merry Christmas. I’ve returned to the Fictional Town of Paddock Wood to do the Christmas Thing, so arguing with parents, brothers and pets about where all the glasses are, who drank the last of the pineapple juice (Nobody, yet. I saw it and hid it before they had a chance) and such stuff. Presents have been bought and wrapped and placed in their traditional place under the tree.

And the stockings are on the bedroom doors.

I’m trying to work out how long I’ve had my Christmas stocking. At least as long as we’ve been in this house, I think, which means since I was about six. It’s unfashionably small – as I noted as I walked around the shops this year, newer christmas stockings are about four times mine – it has Snoopy on it, it’s red (My older-younger brother’s was blue, but it’s been lost. Actually, since only me and Ben have them and Matt – my younger-younger brother – doesn’t , that probably puts them since before he was born, which means I’ve had it at least 18 of my 22 years), and it’s probably the thing that tells me most of all that it’s actually Christmas.

Mostly because of the age, and because of the place. If, when we move to Letchworth at the end of January, we stop moving house every nine months – as I have done for the past four years – I would be 40 before I’d lived there as long as I’ve lived here, which is frankly pretty scary.

I’d take a photo of the stocking, BTW, but I lost my camera a couple of weeks ago at an AFP Green Man meet. Ah well.

I’ve no intention of being near a computer for very long tomorrow, so I’m putting the last Christmas MP3 up now:

  • I’ve lost track of who this is sung by, but it’s really good. Acapella – Carol of the Bells

    And finally, non-christmassy, but I’ve been pimping it at people for years and this way I get a great swathe of people at once. This is the Michigan Amazin’ Blue acapella group doing a wonderful version of Englishman in New York. Imagine it as the theme tune to Aquarionics, if you like.

    Merry Christmas one and all, That’s me out until the new year, which – incidentally – will be Aquarionics’ fourth birthday. Be here then for tea and cakes.

2003 Christmas Imported From Epistula MotW music


Louis Armstrong reads ‘The Night Before Christmas’

2003 Christmas Imported From Epistula MotW music

Sounds Delightful

Upon the new bronze statue of Mick Jagger there is a plaque that reads: ‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone’.

And, in more seasonal entertainment this Christmas Eve’s Eve:

2003 Christmas Imported From Epistula love Personal

Burnt Offerings

I’ve done it.

I have succeeded in the impossible. I have beaten my previous culinary record.

Last night, I managed to burn boiled potatoes.

Okay, I’m being unfair. I’m normally quite a good cook, when I’m paying attention. In this case, however, I bunged the (tinned) pie into the oven, waited a little bit, put the water on to boil, waited a bit, put the potatoes on, and went to my computer to wait a bit.

At this point, I was hit by an epiphany that solved one of the biggest problems I’ve had this week.

What the hell do I buy LoneCat for christmas?

The important thing is to not have a repeat of our first christmas, where we both got each other the same thing, so I’ve made a resolution not to buy the present from Amazon. Actually, I accidently made LC make this resolution, but since I know what I’m getting now, she’s released from it, since mine isn’t.

So, I started the scouring of the internet, which is seperate from both the scouring of the shire and the scouring of the pan I burnt the potatoes in. I discovered that the thing I actually wanted can cost anywhere between 50 pence and 19,000, depending on where you buy it.

The one I’m getting is neither, obviously.

So, I spent a half hour wandering though places looking for this item, instead of – say – draining, assembling and eating dinner. Then I smelt something. ‘Aha’, said my senses, not quick on the uptake, ‘Roast potatoes’, followed somewhat rapidly from a Four-Weddingsesque litany of curses as I dunked the saucepan into cold water, dumped the burnt offerings on the plate, cut off the burnt bits, dumped the burnt pie on the plate – burning my fingers in the process – and sat down to eat.

I only hope I can get hold of the thing in time.

See, darling, the sacrifices I make?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a frowny lightbulb to deal with.

2003 Imported From Epistula


I’m not religious.

This isn’t that I didn’t go to church regularly. I went. As a Scout, with church parade, to every Remembrance Day service, sat though the silence, wore the poppy.

A few years ago I was one of the people who did the Remembrance service. My friend Barry had been the one who plays the last post, and I was one of the people who did readings in assembly. I read two things, the first was Rupert Brooke’s classic piece of poetry, The Soldier (When I am gone, think only this of me // That there’s some corner of a foreign field // That is forever England.) and some statistics.

In World War one, over 8.5 million people died. 65 Million were mobilized for war. Britain alone lost 900,000 people, almost 36% of all those sent to the front. I was reciting a list of statistics like this to a hall of 250 people a time, twice a day for two days. I thought about this, and started actually doing the remembrance thing. It’s important.

A little while ago (1980) some tin-pot organisation decided to hijack remembrance day. They chose to do so by creating white poppies and selling them. The then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, commented that she felt it in “Deep Distaste” which I agree with. Their proposition was that Remembrance day glorified war, and that we should stop remembering the dead and begin to save the living.

I find this attitude scary. One of the most dangerous things you can do is forget what you have learnt before. The tens of millions who have died in wars up until now did not deserve to die, and that they did should be noted and watched and learnt from, not drawn a line under and told “Right, seen that, now we try this”. You must face what has happened to resolve not to let it happen again. If at first you don’t succeed, understand why, and try something else.

This is generic, and I’m trying not to pull the current conflagration into this, but there is a very good example of it in the current conflict. In the US Military high command, there is a phrase called “The Dover Test” which refers to the public perception of coffins arriving at Dover, Delaware, the US Air Base which receives such things. For the past 40 odd years these ceremonies have been public, but recently (As in, shortly before the conflict began) the traditional televisation of these events were banned. The US public no longer sees every coffin come home, there is no Dover test. Mr Bush has yet to go to a single funeral resulting from this conflict, and I’m terrified that they’re just numbers.

When we forget the dead, we condemn the living. We should not forget those who died that we might live.

We will remember them.

2003 Imported From Epistula

11th Hour

2003 Imported From Epistula


It’s hot. I know it’s hot because an amazing percentage of the weblogs I read have mentioned it
So it’s hot, and so I have this urge to lie in bed and do nothing.

Tried that. Bed’s too hot to.

We have a country-wide fan shortage, apparently. Or at least Reading-wide. Can’t get one for love nor money (I assume. I haven’t tried Love in exchange for air-con), but then in a wonderful brainwave, LoneCat remembered that the portable heater also blows cold air! Yay! Coolness. Though limited to keeping my ankles warm, which isn’t quite so wonderful. I’m not built for hot weather, I melt. Ah well, I have home-made Banoffee Pie, and home-made Banananana Loaf (We had excess of bananas).

It really is hot, though. The BBC announced a new record yesterday (First in Heathrow, which is not that far from here) and the Guardian managed to fry an egg on the pavement. Ick. Much much too hot.

2003 AFP Imported From Epistula

There is no such thing as too colourful

(Photos by Hamster and AdrianO, both taken at CCDE 2003 (Friday night and Sunday morning respectivly))