Chesterfield hardly the ends of the earth, still, since we're on journeying:-
"A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The was deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter."
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires gong out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty, and charging high prices.:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.
Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.
All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we lead all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I have seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.
And from Daniel Ladinsky, after St John of the Cross:-
the Virgin will come walking down the road
pregnant with the holy,
“I need shelter for the night, please take me inside your heart,
my time is so close.”
Four years ago, and again three years ago on our honeymoon, we were there. It was full of life and people and optimism. Pashazaded bought some beautiful shawls from two teenage kids with a tiny shop. They were brilliant salesmen, with a tiny shop. They told us, in near perfect English, about their hopes to go to university.
If I spin round in my chair I can see, in a tall pile in the corner, the fantasy and sf books of my childhood I can't bear to part with, ancient corgi editions for the most part. Most of them will probably never be re-read. Life is, I think, possibly too short for another run through Eddings (well, maybe).
But one I have re-read occasionally over the years, most recently only last year, is probably one of the first F/SF novels I read (outside Tolkien and things of which my mother approved, DWJ, Aiken, Cooper and the like): Dragonflight, together with its sequels (up to and including the White Dragon, and there should be a copy of the first prequel somewhere), along with a copy of The Ship Who Sang that I had forgotten
A few commenters on posts have made claims that she was a fantastic writer, she wasn't, at least not in the sense I would use that term. But I loved and love those books and characters, and I'm fairly confident that some day when I'm feeling glum I'll pull them out again. I don't think I'd say the same about, for instance The Colour of Magic which I must have read (including brilliant affectionate parody of the Pern novels) not long after.
And from reading her, so much else followed (more than from reading Tolkien, DWJ & co I think, though I don't think McCaffrey is, objectively, as good as any of those).
One of the first women, alongside Andre Norton and a few others (May?) to make much headway in SF&F too, and given how mysogynistic the genre can still be now (eg Harlan Ellison) I wonder how much worse it was then.
Farewell Anne McCaffrey, and thanks for 30 years of reading habits.
On my way out the door to St Pancras and thence Chesterfield (first time in my life I haven't been to my mother's for Christmas). Just the ritual dance of "have I left the oven on, is the house Campion & Gertrude proof" to do. (So glad we have very kind neighbours who love them and stay at home for Christmas).
A wonderful Christmas to you all, whoever and wherever you are.
As the splendid Cecily Stonor put it, when questioned about her recusancy by the justices. I think she was in her 80s at the time: later she went to prison for harbouring Edmund Campion.
I'm just back from the Papal vigil in Hyde Park.
I don't refer to my Catholicism here much (on the rare occasions I write here at all), or indeed anywhere else, save in passing, and I doubt I will change that practice generally. I'm certainly not going to embark on theological discussion, or apologetics. But right now I have the urge to be counted. I don't claim to be a particularly good Catholic, or indeed a good Christian, - and regular bouts of agnosticism are an integral part of the deal - but it is a fundamental part of who I am, and ever has been. And yes, I go to mass every Sunday at Westminster Cathedral, and indeed am an altar server there.
Yes, I struggle with parts of the church's teaching, most notably for me those on contraception and homosexuality. And of course the abuse scandals, and the cover up scandal, have been devastating. But my faith remains.
Rather to my own surprise I've also found myself something of a -qualified- fan of this pope. But I'm not sure it would make much of a difference were I not.
I wish I had been serving at the Cathedral today, which would probably have chimed with my personal aesthetic tastes more, but there wasn't room for the entire team. But even with Shine Jesus Shine* the vigil was profoundly moving. I cannot at present express that properly.
I have no problem with there being protests, nor do I entirely disagree with all of the points made. But I could never imagine going, and the last few weeks and days have only strengthened that view.
*just about balanced out by the Tantum Ergo
In one and the same day I have been irritated beyond measure by (a) twitter, which increasingly seems to be a forum existing mainly so that smug celebs, -and wannabees- can start bandwagons for people to fall over themselves to jump on without bothering to stop and think in the process - the fact my own knee-jerk sentiments may sometimes be with the resulting mob doesn't make it better - and (b) epic length tedious essays on email lists - which would still be tedious even if they weren't tendentious. Which in this particular case they are.
The internet was a bad idea and must be stopped.
As I write the score in the final set is 52-51, quite quite staggering. Four hours ago the Guardian Live Blog recorded:
4.05pm: The Isner-Mahut battle is a bizarre mix of the gripping and the deadly dull. It's tennis's equivalent of Waiting For Godot, in which two lowly journeymen comedians are forced to remain on an outside court until hell freezes over and the sun falls from the sky. Isner and Mahut are dying a thousand deaths out there on Court 18 and yet nobody cares, because they're watching the football. So the players stand out on their baseline and belt aces past each-other in a fifth set that has already crawled past two hours. They are now tied at 18-games apiece.
The writer, Xan Brooks, is now approaching poetry:
(An hour ago)The umpire climbs down from his chair and starts mildly slapping the net cord with his right hand. No one knows why. John Isner winds up for a backhand and misses the ball entirely. No one knows why.
What's going on here? Once, long ago, I think that this was a tennis match. I believe it was part of a wider tennis tournament, somewhere in south-west London, and the winner of this match would then go on to face the winner of another match and, if he won that, the winner of another match. And so on until he reached the final and, fingers crossed, he won the title.
That, at least, is what this spectacle on Court 18 used to be; what it started out as. It's not that anymore and hasn't been for a few hours now. I'm not quite sure what it is, but it is long and it's horrifying and it's very long to boot. Is it death? I think it might be death.
42 games all.
And at 7.45: What happens if we steal their rackets? If we steal their rackets, the zombies can no longer hit their aces and thump their backhands and keep us all prisoner on Court 18. I'm shocked that this is only occurring to me now. Will nobody run onto the court and steal their rackets? Are they all too scared of the zombies' clutching claws and gore-stained teeth? Steal their rackets and we can all go home. Who's with me? Steal their rackets and then run for the tube.
It's 48-48. What further incentive do you need?
I realise now that when I voted LibDem, in my Labour/Respect marginal constituency, what I was really voting for was the "progressive coalition" and that I should now feel angered enough to be turning to the Labour party.
To discover the views of the "progressive coalition" I look to the voting record of Ben Bradshaw, one of those who has explained it all to me by banging on about this again and again: it turns out that it includes strong progressive policies like being strongly for ID Cards; against laws to stop climate change; for the anti-terrorism laws of the last decade, ministerial intervention in inquests and a stricter asylum system; and opposing an inquiry into the Iraq war.
Yes, that's it. And what I really wanted was for the Ministry of Justice to remain in the hands of Jack Straw, someone I believe to have colluded in torture, and for others who I believe lied to take us into a disastrous war to remain in government as well.
It certainly couldn't possibly have been true that not only did I object to all of that, I put a very high priority on those specific issues.
First Christmas spent with Pashazade (and my mother, my siblings, in-laws, and their offspring, a grand total of 19 for Christmas dinner), which seemed to go well but you'd better ask her. Back just in time for lots of splendid people to come round for New Year.
One thing aside a bit of a meh year with its ups and downs. But the one thing, marrying Pashazade pretty much trumps all of that.
Hoping you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year and that 2010 does it for you.
Not my field at all but has something happened to article 9 of the Bill of Rights while I wasn't looking? This doesn't quite fit with my understanding of how that works these days, particularly in the light of subsections 13(4) and 13(5) of the Defamation Act 1996, (nb that the privilege is not limited to defamation actions). And John Wilkes is spinning in his grave.
Good to see the Speccie coming to the Grauniad's defence though.
"Does Magna Carta mean nothing to you? Did she die in vain?"
ETA: Trafigura have now caved, shortly before the return date of 2PM today. Thought there were a surprising number of journalists round the back door when I went over this morning.
ETFA: the main story is to be found here, and see also Wikipedia. Do we think Trafigura, and Carter-Ruck, are maybe learning a bit about unintentional viral anti-marketing and the Streisand Effect? Though I can see some merit in Daniel Davies' suggestion that the Guardian may have been rather clever. The original injunction was granted on 11th September and Rusbridger twittered to that effect that day. On 12th October what he said was "Now Guardian prevented from reporting parliament for unreportable reasons. Did John Wilkes live in vain?" with a link to the Guardian story but no mention of a further injunction. What is not entirely clear to me is whether there was actually a further injunction on the 11th or 12th October covering reporting of the Parliamentary question listed for today, or whether it was merely that the 11th September injunction was so widely drawn as to cover reporting a parliamentary question, and/or Carter-Ruck insisted on the point (perhaps arguing it would be contempt) until withdrawing the whole application a couple of hours ago, shortly before the return. In which case it may be material to observe, as Davies does, that Farrelly has connections to Guardian/Observer people. Of course the point would not have arisen until someone actually did ask a question in the House.
Either way, the Grauniad deserves applause, as do BBC Newsnight, who are also in the frame on this one.
I have been known to criticise programmes such as Judge John Deed (shurely Deed J, and why is he always on circuit, and what is a QB judge doing hearing family applications, and and) for slight inaccuracies in their depiction of life at the Bar and on the Bench. This morning I have finally realised that in truth, it's only my* professional life that is sadly lacking in drama:Exhibit 1 Exhibit 2
Incidentally, am slightly perturbed by this "secretive world of millionaire lawyers". I must have missed all the memos.
I do recommend the latter article by the way, it includes a rare display of humour by the Mail in the caption to the last photo.
Heigh ho, back to the Scott Schedule. "Item 44, reinstatement of pigeon-netting..."
*Prompted by Frankie in comments, the emphasis in that sentence should lie on "my", there's little drama in the rest of my life atm either. Can't be arsed to redraft the sentence, I now have three applications tomorrow and the skeleton for one of them is going to be seriously late.
Until only a few years ago a barrister could not be sued by a client for negligence in their conduct of a trial. Ultimately the policy reason behind it was that doing so would lead to satellite litigation challenging concluded decisions.
The principal authority for the proposition was Rondel v Worsley  1 AC 191 (link is to the Lords, though the Court of Appeal judgment is arguably better and the transcript certainly funnier). Mr Rondel died last month and his obit in the Guardian is fascinating.
Rondel always maintained he had not been properly defended, claiming that he had not cut his victim's ear, as charged, but merely bitten off part of it, and in 1965 attempted to sue Worsley* for negligence. Had the case been tried on its merits, Rondel would have quickly lost...
...With the help of a solicitor, the London School of Economics academic Michael Zander*, he appeared on his own behalf in the court of appeal. Zander prepared an American-style pleading of the case running to more than 100 pages, but was not allowed to read it to the court. Nor was he allowed to answer submissions made on Worsley's behalf, and so Zander prepared another statement for Rondel to read out. The court did, however, allow Rondel, a yoga devotee, time out to stand on his head in the corridor to clear his thoughts. Unsurprisingly, he lost
I think I knew he was acquitted of masterminding the Spaghetti House siege but I had no idea he was the notorious Peter Rachman's muscle and hence mixed up in the Profumo affair.
*Worsley is still in practice. Zander is known to many practitioners as the author of an academic and somewhat ponderous guide to civil procedure.
Bleergh. Have flu. Don't really care if it's porcine or not (but Tower Hamlets apparently has the highest incidence in the country ho hum). Actually had to cancel a con today, for the first time in my career, my instructing solicitors are desparately trying to adjourn the trial I'm supposed to be starting Monday... Probably not going to inflict on either Aged Parent or Proms Arena audience this weekend after all.
"I will participate in the demonstrations tomorrow. Maybe they will turn violent. Maybe I will be one of the people who is going to get killed. I'm listening to all my favorite music. I even want to dance to a few songs. I always wanted to have very narrow eyebrows. Yes, maybe I will go to the salon before I go tomorrow! There are a few great movie scenes that I also have to see. I should drop by the library, too. It's worth to read the poems of Forough and Shamloo again. All family pictures have to be reviewed, too. I have to call my friends as well to say goodbye. All I have are two bookshelves which I told my family who should receive them. I'm two units away from getting my bachelors degree but who cares about that. My mind is very chaotic. I wrote these random sentences for the next generation so they know we were not just emotional and under peer pressure. So they know that we did everything we could to create a better future for them. So they know that our ancestors surrendered to Arabs and Mongols but did not surrender to despotism. This note is dedicated to tomorrow’s children…"
ETA: she survived and writes
"I'm here to let you know I'm alive but my sister was killed... I'm here to tell you my sister died while in her father's hands... I'm here to tell you my sister had big dreams......"
(I think it's clear that "my sister" is to be taken in a broad, not biological, sense.) Warning: the video linked to is extremely harrowing but I'm inclined to think that it deserves watching.