Idling

Aug. 4th, 2006 11:57 am
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"Working at home" today. Actually, I do have some work to do, which is currently somewhat remarkable (Charon QC has a superb musing on the start of the Law Vacation here: that doesn't actually have much of a direct impact on my practice but it's true business is pretty slack in August), and the main reason I am at home was to take delivery of my BT Broadband dooberries, which means I really can work at home. Nevertheless, what I'm actually doing is trying to sort out some fifteen years of accumulated crap. I am a Thing-Collector by nature, and every phase of my life is littered with the detritus of film tickets, letters, postcards, termcards, fliers, this that and the other. Most of this stuff then sits untouched for years in a box in the corner of the room, and quite a lot of it has gravitated to my mother's house over the years. Last weekend I picked up a stack of it and brought it back: I'm now trying to make some sense of it all.

Thing is, I meant to throw much of it out. But when it comes down to it, I can't bear to part with scribbled scores of epic games of Hearts at Walton St (H, there's a scoresheet here with you on a couple of thousand and someone initialled "MH" playing, I wonder who that could possibly have been...), torn tickets for Greek ferries (including the ill-fated Express Samina, the godawful Naias II, and my favourite ferry, the Milos Express (built in the 60s on the Tyne as the Vortigern for Sealink google tells me, good grief: looks as though quite a lot of the old Greek ferry fleet was ex-Sealink/Townsend Thoresen/etc, sent to Indian breakers 2004)), the menu for an MCR Guest Night Dinner when I, um, nevermind. I shall have to have a rethink...

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A comments exchange with Frankie the other day had me thinking about the odd tricks my memory plays. The thing is, I have, in several regards, an exceptionally good memory, which is an incredibly useful gift in my line of work, and was also fairly handy when I purported to be a historian: the ability to remember in the middle of XExam where in twenty files a particular document is to be found -or even that it exists- or to keep in your head the details of an exceedingly complicated trust and corporation structure is not to be underestimated.

Like most such gifts, it has some appalling bugs. It works best with words and sounds: I can remember whole screeds of text, place obscure quotations from things I haven't read in years (which is why I become enormously irritated when I can't) and remember exactly how people sound. One odd failing is that I have serious difficulty remembering people's names until I'm familiar with the person involved - I learnt the embarrassing way to write down names on a piece of paper when in court and eventually ended up consciously working on memory tricks to cover it. Even with people I know well, names can occasionally go astray or, (as was the point in the original comments thread) become attached to the wrong people, particularly if there's some connexion in my head between the "wrong" and "right" people concerned.

Even worse is that my visual memory is completely buggered. It's a real struggle for me to call up mental pictures, even those of things and scenes I see every day (how this works with the fact I also have a very good sense of direction, which I would assume is something to do with subconscious assimilation and interpretation of what I see, is not entirely clear to me). And at the extreme end of this, I am almost completely unable to visualise faces. To give some idea of the extent of this, I cannot visualise my mother's face. I can visualise that of my father and one of my sisters, the sister who largely looked after me when I was an infant, but not my brother or my other sister. Most other people, with a very few notable exceptions - almost hopeless. (I have no problem with recognising anything or anyone when I see them, it's imagining them when I don't that's the problem.)

Except, except, for a trick that puts the lie to this: I can call to mind photographs with which I'm familiar, eg the photos of my close friends usually to be found on my wall. So I can't recall what people looked like the last time I saw them - but I can call up a memory of a photo of them. (Which means that memories of most of my friends involve backdrops of various Oxford and London pubs)

Is this bizarre? (Is dr_d in the house?).

I also discovered on Friday that I can't actually remember what I did for my 21st birthday. I have my suspicions about the reasons for this, but it's nonetheless rather sad, not to mention bloody irritating, as a consequence of generally having a decent memory is absolute fury when it fails, so James, Stephen, Matt, Ruth, Lyd, Marie: you were all there and occasionally pass by here, do enlighten me if you can remember.

In other news I have had a day fuelled by such righteous ire and indignation at all concerned, on all sides, in certain pieces of litigation that I'm not sure I should be allowed to go and poke an epee at people in anger now. I'm going to do it anyway though: I think it's precisely what I need.

Bah Humbug

Feb. 14th, 2006 10:13 am
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Total number of bicycles I intended to purchase on Jersey:   1

Total number of bicycles stolen while on Jersey:   1

Total number of bicycles now actually purchased while on Jersey:   2

Total number of valentines cards:   0

Mood rating:   Bah humbug.

Still, had a good weekend showing Gez round the island, drinking a lot, and watching Sunday's utterly bizarre Marple and I'm in London for a long weekend courtesy of a red-eye Friday morning, so not all is lost. Plus having a guest finally forced me to get around to visiting Jersey Zoo which is indeed well worth it. Pictures of assorted apes may appear when I have non-work interweb access.

Also, why is my layout borked? I suspect the answer is to do with current work on CSS but there's nothing particularly customised about the journal style I use. Irritating.

liadnan: (Default)

Lack of internet availability at home (which continues but may be sorted fairly soon) was the main cause of my hiatus, but I'm also going through a phase of feeling I don't have anything to write about. These six months stuck out in the Channel are something of a hiatus in my life generally, and that seems to be carrying over to here.

I don't mind it here most of the time, and there are some real benefits (I think I may hop over to St Malo this weekend), though most of them involve being outside and the weather stinks at the moment. I know now that I did choose the right side of the English legal profession for me though: being a solicitor is really not my forte.

And I've run out of books again, having finished A Feast for Crows in one sitting and also run out of Frankie's care package. Well, almost: I've returned to a re-read of The Once and Future King that I put to one side in August.

I seem to be watching almost no television at all: for the last three weeks it's only been Midsomer Murders and now Jericho (which I find tolerable but not that gripping) on a Sunday evening.

Spent Saturday wandering around Elizabeth Castle in light drizzle (accessible only by boat or, more usually, ex-army Duck at high tide: Jersey has one of the most ridiculously huge tidal flows in the world and imbeciles who don't know what they are doing often find themselves caught, on one notorious relatively recent occasion with horses, which they managed to persuade up a Martello tower). The castle is huge, mostly commissioned when Raleigh was governor (though it incorporates St Helier's alleged early medieval hermitage) but pretty much continuing in use and development up to and during the occupation. The Germans built it into their own ring of massive island fortifications, so you have the vaguely incongruous sight of a seventeenth century gateway next to a searchlight bunker, with sheep grazing on top. Actually this happened all over the island: the Napoleonic-era Martello towers and the medieval castle at Gorey were all re-fortified I think.

Ho hum. Not dead yet, just resting.

ETA: Anne Rice finds God. We will all now pause for boggling. (Link via Katy.)

And while I'm doing links: new Robin Hood. One hopes the last line is a joke. I'm not entirely clear whether "The series will follow ITV's hit 1980s series Robin of Sherwood" (all pause to hum "The Hooded Man") means it will specifically refer back to that (I have a feeling the rights are tied up in an insolvency somehow) or something more general.

Life..

Aug. 17th, 2005 10:38 pm
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...continues fine. And every evening I go and sit on the beach with an ice cream and watch the sun go down: I find this a remarkably civilised way to round off a day in the office. I have various half-finished posts in my head, including a particularly rambling one about class, but am currently too drunk (first time on Jersey, hurrah) to set them down. And tomorrow evening I fly to Gatwick, go into town to pick up my luggage for Greece, return to Gatwick, and catch the 6AM flight out to Athens, so it'll be a while.

When I'm back, the usual diet of half-thought through pontificating on politics, philosophy, history, religion and books, drunken ramblings, and general life-stuff will return with me. In the meantime, if you think of me with a cigarette in one hand, a book in the other, and frappé, retsina or metaxa depending on time of day in, err, the other, either lying on a beach or clambering over some ruin or other, you're most likely pretty accurate. See you on the other side (or on the verandah of Villa Onyro the day after tomorrow if you're Steph or Rob).

Liberation

Aug. 11th, 2005 03:33 pm
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There's a curious sense of freedom I had almost forgotten, which comes from the realisation that all your stuff is safe, over there (my office in this case) and from now on you're living from a suitcase and a rucksack (both weighed down with books, obvs). Almost like going backpacking again. Except this time I'm not trying to make my way round Europe on a small overdraft facility.

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Just back from a long weekend that was rather less traumatic than expected. Today would have been my parents' 50th wedding anniversary and six months ago we were thinking about a major party. When my father died we decided we'd do something anyway, so all of us (four of us, three spouses, seven children from 6 months to 11 (12?), one bump) descended on my mother for the weekend.

Which allowed me to tell them all that (as of last Friday) I am (subject to it not all falling apart as it did last time something of the sort came up) going to A.N.Other, not too distant, jurisdiction, for six months. As soon as possible and at the latest by, err, the Monday after next (I then come back and fly to Greece the following Friday, but that's another matter). Can anyone suggest precisely what I should do with the 4000 or so books I have so painfully lugged from parents' to my London flat over the last several years? I spent a couple of hours on Sunday trying to clear a space in the lumber-room I used to call my bedroom... Anyone wishing to borrow books from me, this would be the moment to ask, so long as you appreciate you will be expected to give them houseroom for six months.

They were all pleased I was moving out of London, given recent events, which mildly and somewhat perversely irritated me. I will undoubtedly be back when the six months are up, though I've given notice on my current flat of course.

I expect to be back in London reasonably often, for those who may be desolated by my absence... I may or may not have time to arrange an evening when I shall Be In The Pub before I go.

liadnan: (Default)

Just as Cairo Martyr did. (Many points to anyone who recognises the reference without googling.)

I've been vaguely toying with a post about free will, determinism, and seizing the day for a while now, on and off, but it always came out incoherent and, frankly, pretentious bollocks. I meant to write about how I become genuinely angry when people (such as my mother) take horoscopes or the prophecies of Nostradamus or the general idea of a knowable pre-determined fate even semi-seriously, and then vaguely wander via theology and my really very superficial grasp of quantum physics (if one allows for the sake of argument the existence of an omnipresent and omniscient god, who is both within the universe and time and yet not constrained by it, and who is therefore there at all times observing within Schrodinger's box, what does that do to the whole sort of general mishmash, and can we stop Dan Simmmons writing another science fiction novel about it before I do?) to the way I gamble with my life.

I really wouldn't )
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As I was waiting on the platform at Chalk Farm this morning the alarm went off, a typical old-fashioned fire-alarm/alarm clock type din. This happens about once a week when the lift cocks up, and normally no one bats an eyelid.

There was a definite moment when almost everyone on the fairly crowded platform (yes, those few days of guaranteed free seats on the Northern line seem lost) turned towards the end, where the way out is, a moment of collective dissonance as everyone thought "is that calling Time for me?"

.. and a collective shrug, as we turned back to look at the board, which had been swearing blind there was a Charing X train in a minute for some five minutes. That caused no one any surprise or concern at all, of course.

The bell was still ringing as the train pulled out of the platform.

***

Once again, that pre-holiday realisation of approaching litigation and completion deadlines is making a glorious July my busiest month of the year. What I really want to be doing is sprawling on a bench outside a Primrose Hill pub with a gin and tonic in my hand, or, still better, sitting in a beach bar on Syros drinking a frappé with nothing more onerous to decide than which book to take to the beach today. Instead I have to write three opinions in two days. Heigh ho.

liadnan: (Default)

The Onion Horoscope always seems far more accurate and applicable to my life and the way I feel than any "real" one. Seriously

Libra: You will be unable to shake a deep feeling of unutterable sadness as you roam the world with a scruffy band of misfits at the end of history, performing the occasional execution in your search for your lost mother/lover and a way to rekindle the dying sun

Just call me Severian.

liadnan: (Default)

Actually, that isn't remotely true. I own one Now album*, 12 or 13 I think (it isn't in London, all I remember about it is that it has Hey Hey Matthew on it and is a cassette). Coffee spoons, or at least coffee measures, have actually been a far more important marker.

Nevertheless, the regular phenomenon of noticing a new Now album in the supermarket and thinking "Now 569! What the fuck happened to my life?" is depressingly familiar. It doesn't help that right at the moment I have had it up to the putative top of the London Bridge Shard of Glass (to be the tallest building in Europe if and when completed, and a more appropriate metaphor than might at first appear) with my life and want to be here instead.

No, not right now, obvs. Even Mediterranean beaches aren't particularly pleasant in late November, particularly not at 9PM. Still, I'm sure you take the point.

Perhaps Duke Humphrey's Library would be a more appropriate home from home for the time of year. Or not, as the case may be. A friend of mine was once nearly killed by a lump of wood falling from the roof in there, incidentally. There he was, looking at Anglo-Saxon charters when a bloody great chunk of beam crashed into the desk beside him. On closer examination it transpired that the efforts several years before, at great expense, to preserve the roof from death watch beetle (or whatever) had been, err, rubbish and the place had to close down for a year.

I'm not sure why I'm telling you this, unless it's a work-avoidance measure. That would seem plausible, yes.

*ETA: I'm not sure if this requires explanation for non-UK readers. Now That's What I Call Music is a semi-annual# compilation of the "best" of the British charts.

#Semi-annual? Well, biannual isn't right, that means every two years, no? Half yearly, anyway.

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Haven't accomplished anything I meant to today. Decided to go to the cenotaph when I finally summoned up the courage to emerge from the covers.

I just looked at myself in the mirror and realised my forehead is accumulating lines at a terrifying rate. I'm going to end up looking like W.H.Auden, you mark my words.

Des Lynam a surprisingly good HIGNFY host.

Brizzle on a sodding 8.15 train tomorrow. Arse. Suppose I'd better find and iron a clean shirt and go to bed. When did I become so responsible?

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I've just discovered that Patrick Wormald died recently. I feel rather sad: I knew him well enough to say hello and chat for a bit at drinks after seminars and similar when I was in my third year and then at Oxford. One of the best Anglo-Saxon historians of his day, and a genuinely interesting and friendly guy, at least when sober.

I remember him chain smoking throughout a seminar once, much to the chair's despair. I also remember seeing him drink... which was sad -as most who knew him were well aware, he was a heavy-duty alcoholic. His work was, even with that burden, an impressive body, despite the fact he was only 57 when he died.

liadnan: (Default)

.. the last word should go to the Medium Lobster on Fafblog, for once playing it utterly straight. Well, mostly:

"When we keep our leaders larger than life, they become larger than our ability to rationally discuss them. We apply wondrous sobriquets, classifying the giants of the Oval Office with Catholic precision, making saints and Mysteries of men. Who can question the fighting spirit of the Happy Warrior, or the resilience of the Comeback Kid? The very invocation of their names becomes a sacrament or blasphemy, and as long as we keep their memories blown wildly out of proportion, we'll never have to confront them.

And how much more comfortable that is for us. The danger of Reagan the man, after all, is that we might learn from him. The man was real - a flesh and blood president whose triumphs and failings might lead us to question our own preconceptions. Reagan the Icon exists only in our mind, a creature of our prejudices and ideologies - a figure from unhistory who threatens to teach us nothing."

D-Day

Jun. 6th, 2004 09:05 pm
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(In which I pontificate pretentiously)

I went home for the weekend, as I hadn't seen my parents for a while and won't be free for a longer while of weekends.

Since my father had a minor stroke some years ago now, his health has progressively degenerated. He takes a vast cocktail of prescribed medicines, one side effect of which has been to make him extremely emotional. We've got used, over the last couple of years, to him bursting into tears when something said in dinnertime conversation, or on the radio makes him feel this way.

A weekend of D-Day reminiscences )
liadnan: (Default)

.. why I'm a lawyer rather than a London black cab driver?

And on that note I'm going to bed.

liadnan: (Default)

I've just returned from the wilds of Hampshire, where it was Really Cold incidentally, and seeing my parents plus Sister2 and sprog. Good weekend, but parents.. really. Why does it take my mother, having already asked whether I'm coming to mass and received the answer from the depths of my duvet of a firm "no", ten minutes to tell me that they now usually leave at 9.30, that is, in ten minutes, and then to ask me to turn on the oven, light the fire, and buy the usual papers before they return? I'm not exaggerating, I had one eye on the clock. K. claims that I am long-winded, but I maintain that this is utterly different, I merely have a lawyer's attention to detail and a historian's concern for context. Anyway, when we were together it was always a cause of concern to me that she and my mother agreed in all details on the manifold ways I was running my life badly.

Dad's no better. I have a specific and pessimistic reason for trying to go down every six weeks or so. It depresses me more than I can express to see the way the man who taught me to read, criticise, think, and appreciate art in all forms has been reduced. For which reason I shall say nothing more about it.

Another Sunday evening in a cold Primrose Hill flat, still awaiting the mythical day of Spring Cleaning (2003)... another Best N Whatevers programme, or A Touch of Frost if you prefer. Which I don't, as Frost can never match up to the insane gibbering that is Midsomer Murders.

Oh, I suppose I could watch a documentary about drunk driving, a documentary about Rwanda, or Demolition Man but I think I'll pass on all of those right now, thanks. Since I can't find anythiing I particularly want to read lying around, (and yes, I know I'm behind with my mini-reviews, but "Ive got it writted down on a piece of paper") I'll stick with the Best Ofs... pop stars by singles sales, presented by Smashy and Nicey. And this rather good bottle of whisky.

Mind you, they're banging on about the Everley Brothers, at 42. )
liadnan: (Default)

I've been so pressed with urgent work today I have only had three cigarettes and one cup of coffee since I got here. Those of you who know me well will surely appreciate just how bad a mood I'm in as a result. I didn't help that I was researching a highly silly, not to mention technical point, a real lawyers', last refuge of the scoundrel point about being out of time by a day or two (the scoundrels would be our opponents, rather than us).

Went to the Cork and Bottle last night (one of London's secret rather good Real Wine Bars -not to be confused with wine bars, Real Wine Bars like the C&B or Gordon's sell decent wine, end of story-) last night and drank with K. and A., Steph, H, and Ian. K having just finished her transfer paper she was actually more in a mood to drink heavily than the rest of us for once, and twisted all our arms. I blame it entirely on her that I woke up this morning with a mild hangover. So I wasn't in a good mood when I started the day. Now my mood is best described as steamingly bad, and I'm going out to dinner with a very old friend in about an hour. Obviously I should chain cigarettes and coffee till then. Weekend, not sure, might be going to see another old friend (both of them come from my first, UCL, university career, more than 10 years ago now, God I get depressed when I think that). Oh, and I have to have a case summary in one of the big cases I'm on done by Wednesday, so I'm going to have to do a fair amount of work too. Bah.

My new, Prudent, Gordon-inspired, tight fiscal policy comes into force on Tuesday... Except for going to see To Kill the King, or whatever it's called, Tim Roth as Cromwell and Rupert Everett as Charles I sounds inspired to me, and the new Helena Bonham Carter thing.. who cares what it's about.

Incidentally, why is it that women, in my experience, can never make the distinction between lust for a celebrity (which is fine, obviously) and lust for someone real (which isn't, when you're in a monogamous relationship?...In any case,you'd think since I'm single I'd now be free to lust after who I please, but apparently not, ho hum.) Answers on a postcard to...

I couldn't find my keys this morning, and wondered desparately, full of confusion, around my flat, screaming out loud, "where are they, I put them somewhere safe, I know it." Much like my dreams.

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