Jun. 8th, 2006 11:34 am
liadnan: (Default)

Nephew is apparently improving, platelet count, which I understand should be 100+ is now at 70 something, as opposed to 31...

Not out of the woods yet but definitely more positive.

Went to see Brief Encounter at The Scoop (the odd open air auditorium next to the GLA Building) last night, fabulous as ever. And still somewhat surprising to me that it could be made and be successful when it was. Completely failed to find Ksta, found Cybik instead by complete coincidence. Then realised that I had no bike lights on me...

Yes, I have given the weather and the fact my Oystercard monthly ran out last Friday, taken my life in my hands every day since and cycled in. Getting the hang of central London cycling now, the only bits I really don't like on my route are the Aldgate junction and the Bank, and I'm gradually finding rat runs round both of those. Not sure how long this will last, and suspect the health benefits are more than offset by the pollution, but still, I missed it more than I expected when I came back from the Channel Islands.

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An entry on Martin's journal about public holidays with special reference to the Civil Service was about to give rise to my usual muttering of "for this I pay my taxes" when I learned that I am actually one of only three in our office today. This doesn't improve my mood significantly, already suffering as I was with a monstrous headache and several sets of yet more monstrous instructions.

I have been attempting to cheer myself up with crappy music, including Rolf Harris' version of Stairway to Heaven (a genius re-interpretation of that hackneyed and trite piece of pomposity) but it hasn't taken me very far.

Spent the first half of the bank holiday weekend being a Catholic at Westminster Cathedral and the latter half being an uncle in the wilds (and I do mean wilds: two miles to the nearest other building of any kind) of County Durham, where my sister and her brood have settled. Gorgeous countryside and they have an enormous decaying farmhouse, three acres, a bunch of chickens, a few sheep, and no television, which seems to suit my nephews and nieces (the latter just became plural, it was the christening that actually dragged me the length of the country for the first time... enduring a closed Kings Cross, a GNER train that had to be caught at Finsbury Park an hour or so before kick-off of an Arsenal game at home, and three and a half hours on the bloody thing for nearly a hundred quid). I think I'm too old or too young to live that much in the middle of nowhere for the present though. And lovely though they all are, how my sister manages to deal with one child, let alone five, a dog, two cats, the sheep and the chickens, in the wilds of nowhere, when she's actually fairly unwell, is beyond me.

Ho hum. Back to disentangling CPR Part 64...

liadnan: (Default)

A year ago today my brother rang very early in the morning to tell me my father was dying.

It wasn't unexpected. Since his first stroke, in late 1999, he'd been declining visibly, and I had, frankly, been expecting it for six months. But still... )

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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)

Actually, it's my legs that sting. My face is fine.

When I say sting, what I actually mean is "I can barely walk." No, I'm not exaggerating. I just struggled across the room to turn off the television after Today at Wimbledon and the real reason I sat down by the computer was that I couldn't face going anywhere else just yet.

All this the result of a weekend spent with my mother. Very pleasant, but she's obviously feeling the lack of someone to whom she can natter, sad in itself, and also making weekends spent with her slightly more of an effort than I should feel them to be.

Anyway, I spent much of the weekend sitting on the terrace by the pond reading. (This week's trawl through the attics for something old to read brought up a crop of Mary Stewarts, which were rather better than I remembered: I knew the Merlin trilogy was exceptional but I'd forgotten the other things.)

That, however, brought its own problems. What whim of fate was it that I was born with (a) very sensitive skin; (b) a love of lying in the sun; (c) a bone-idleness that extends to not bothering to put any suncream on? I've known people -well, two people- who are notable for on occasion having used olive oil where ordinary mortals would use sunscreen. Hah. Ah well, if I live through the next day or so that should be the worst of it for the whole summer, on past experience. And yes, I know, skin cancer.

Incidentally, if the weather next weekend in Somerset isn't at least almost as good as this weekend in Hampshire, I shall be very cross. Please take note.

Apropos of which, last Thursday evening I received an email from Wayahead, telling me they had that day despatched my ticket. Which I find fascinating, because it actually arrived two weeks before that. Evidently someone's been buggering about with temporal continuity again.

liadnan: (Default)

My little brother is

Hurrah for him. And his wife.

And his baby.

I feel a Rowley Birkin moment coming on.

liadnan: (Default)

It was my mother's birthday this weekend*, so I, and my brother, his wife, and their child, went down to see her, and my sister, her husband and their two came over for lunch.

Absent, as they live at the other end of the country, were my other sister and her family. So she wasn't there when my mother let slip that she (my sister, not my mother, obvs) was pregnant again and I spat wine across the table.

You see, my sister:

  • is 42 (though, as my other sister pointed out, so was my mother when she had my brother);
  • has had two miscarriages;
  • has just sent her fourth child off to school and, presumably, given a sigh of relief;
  • is chronically ill. As in, will probably die unless she has treatment (and the treatment is to be rather alarming and potentially dangerous surgery) fairly soon and is on fairly hefty pills in the meantime.

Though I disagree with her about all sorts of things (in particular, and with some relevance, she's extremely devout in her Catholicism), she is actually a fabulous mother, and I personally don't have any issue with her having loads of children. But, frankly, I think I can be forgiven for not seeing this as unmitigatedly good news.

*She was terribly impressed that the entire country seemed to want to celebrate her seventh birthday, she once told me.

liadnan: (Default)

I was reading Mansfield Park today, and was struck by a line I don't remember before. Miss Crawford turns away from discussion of Fanny's brother, a mere midshipman, with a comment that she only knows Admirals, but of those she knows many "Rears and Vices". And then, disingenuosly, she disclaims having made any kind of vulgar pun.

The thing is, I can only conceive of one pun that might be involved here, and it isn't something one expects to find in the mouth of even an inimical Austen character. Not that blatantly, and certainly not from a woman. And while Edmund and Fanny mutter about her afterwards, their indignation seems directed more at the fact Miss Crawford has been rude in public about her uncle, Admiral Crawford. Am I missing something here? Is it I who need my brain scrubbed out?


Spent the weekend being quite the observant Catholic at the cathedral (yes, despite being a heretic on several counts, a semi-agnostic at least half the time, and the rest, I still do go to mass on and off-and a Happy Easter to those who observe it in some way) and then seeing my mother (and sister and family for Easter Sunday lunch). Somewhat trying, this seeing family most weekends. Love them dearly as I do. And the bloody paperwork seems never-ending: mum can't really cope with it all, and while my siblings have done an awful lot, probably more than me, two of them have babies under six months and the other lives at the other end of the country.

liadnan: (Default)

Funeral was yesterday. I may write some more about my father and the funeral at some point, but right at the moment I'm trying to regain my grip on what passes for my normal existence.

Which I have begun by getting drunk courtesy of Simon (not to be confused with Simon, who got me drunk last week). Hurrah.

I will say, though, that the last week and a half has made me proud to be a member of the same family as my siblings. In my profession, and particularly in my field, I see the stresses in so many families being exposed by the death of a parent, it's something of a shock to be reminded I'm part of a very close family. Another thing we owe to our parents I guess.

Anyway, the point is, this journal is open for business once more. Just as soon as I have something to say.


Feb. 22nd, 2005 11:53 am
liadnan: (Default)

Well, I'm back in London for the week and pottering around aimlessly trying to do some work. I'm not really achieving much, and am frankly feeling more depressed now than I was for the last few days, when I was at home with the rest of my family and concentrating on practicalities.

Many thanks to all who've emailed etc. I haven't replied to most of them, for which I apologise, but I am grateful.

(Edited to add: that shouldn't be taken as any form of criticism of people who haven't said anything of course. I never know whether to say anything and if so what in such circumstances either.)

liadnan: (Default)

My brother rang an hour ago. My father suffered a heart attack this morning and is on his way into hospital. It seems unlikely he will survive today.

I feel I should be on my way down. But I have a complicated winder this morning which I don't think I can properly push off to someone else, given I'm more wearily sad than in bits.

I don't really know why I'm posting this, save for something to do.

ETA: shortly afterwards my sister rang to tell me he had died.

liadnan: (Default)

Except for the planes. And the automobiles. I seem to have organised my life so that I will be travelling to and back from Winchester several times over the next week. Fule. Still, I promised me mum I'd go and help her sort things out this weekend before the hordes of infants descend, can't really back out now.

And Monday I really do have to do some Christmas shopping. Oops.

liadnan: (Default)

That makes six, with one more on the way. In a few years time Christmas is going to be quite unfeasibly expensive. Still, at least my brother and his wife have produced a son, thus removing from me any patriarchal responsibility to ensure the family name carries on. Hurray for them.

Entirely unrelated, but hurray for the journalists of the Ukrainian state broadcaster too.

liadnan: (Default)

Small* prize for anyone who can identify the quote. Utterly irrelevant to all that follows.

I return from a weekend in Hampshire** to discover that...

my books have fallen down.

A word of explanation for those who haven't been to my palatial residence. Due to a concatenation of circumstances, viz and to wit: (primo) my landlord not providing a civilised quantity of bookcases, and (secundo) my being terminally incapable of actually getting off my arse and doing something about it; that part of my library I keep in London (not including books loaned out some time ago not that I'm looking at anyone in particular but I digress) usually looks something like this. Triple parked, which is very inconvenient but at least keeps them out of the way. (Plus another load round the corner. When I'm pretending there's some structure to all this, I pretend that's history, plus a small bunch of travel books.)

Now it looks like this. (Actually, as you can see, I have re-stacked them a bit, but then I got bored.)


Plus my tax return, and more immediately important because those lovely chaps and chapesses at HMCE want it by the end of the week, my VAT return, is buried underneath. Still, I suppose I could just send them the pictures with an explanation: after all, I've spent the money on the books anyway.

How much does Staff cost again?

Yes, this post has been a thinly veiled tryout of livejournal's picture-hosting.

*Very small.

**My father seems noticeably worse. It's been a slow slide, for several years now, but I feel it's accelerating. And when I'm in the mood to pray (with all the usual caveats and conditions) I don't know what to pray for. But I'm not going to write about that.

liadnan: (Default)

Well, I've spent the last two days sunning myself in rural Hampshire (and am pleasantly burnt as a result) with almost all of my family (sister 1 + husband + 3 of their 4 children weren't there but I can still say "most" quite accurately: that's what coming from Irish farming stock means). Spent today becoming mildly sozzled while reading something undemanding (Anne McCaffrey, for my sins) and vaguely listening to the sounds of a gymkhana floating over the village ("numbers 3 and 10, we are waiting for you in the ring..."). Coming back to London rather depressing as a result, lacrimae rerum an' all that. I shall have to become rich simply so I can afford a large house in the country and a flat in London.

On the train on the way back, the woman opposite me was reading a copy of The Rough Guide to Greece, so I ended up feeling homesick for my favourite island as well. Comewhat conflicted here... unless I become very rich I suppose.

When I finally arrived home I decided, for no apparent reason, that I had to find my copy of C.P.Cavafy's poetry. This has involved dismantling half my bookstack, which now lies on the floor. And I have two people coming to stay at different times this week. Anyone know of (a) a carpenter who can build me as many shelves as my walls will take; and (b) a qualified cataloguer?


According to two articles I read over the weekend, Michael Howard has now jetted off to his holiday with Anne Robinson and Tony Blair is off to stay with Cliff Richard. Look, if the heads of the two main parties are going to make stupid bets about who can dream up the worse holiday host then I think the least they could do would be to invite Charlie to play too. Anyway, isn't Howard Welsh?


I am in a holiday mood, hence my inane ramblings above. Unfortunately I do have to work this week, which I somewhat resent.


Jun. 6th, 2004 09:05 pm
liadnan: (Default)

(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)

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)

Give or take Gregorian calendar reforms and suchlike irritations, the Roman Empire finally finally ended 550 years ago today, around lunchtime. I was rather impressed that the Today programme actually noticed. (Well, it's one of the dates. Various bits in Greece actually held out for a few years longer).

I can't decide whether or not to go and see my parents this week. I know I really really should, but I am feeling severe London Inertia. This despite the fact that if the weather does hold out for the weekend then rural Hampshire is going to be a far better place to be than central London.

I'm also still debating whether or not to buy a proms season ticket this year. It costs a lot, and you don't break even (against just buying arena tickets on the door each time) unless you go to something like 45 concerts, which just isn't going to happen, but at least it guarantees that you get in. Ho hum. It does look like a good season.

As a respectable law abiding citizen the idea of getting my Last Night free ticket and selling it at the end of the season for about twice the price of the season ticket itself to those poor fools who actually want to go to the Last Night has not, of course, even crossed my mind. (To be honest, I'm not sure that is even possible any more, and I wouldn't anyway.)


Mar. 24th, 2003 10:48 am
liadnan: (Default)

Feeling tired and depressed, and that I have too much work to do.

Went home for the weekend and saw parents and my sister Kate and her daughter. Dad seems slightly better, happier at least, though I'm not sure there is much long term comfort to be taken. Anna, my niece (3 months) has grown enormously since I last say her a month ago and has become disconcertingly alert.

My other sister was 40 at the weekend too, I was supposed to be going up to Durham to see her and her family but I couldn't afford it. Really quite scary when your sister gets to 40. Surely that's the kind of age parents belong at?

Feeling far too introspective, doubting my perception of myself, blah blah, get on and do some sodding work and stop whining...


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