... feminist, atheist, autistic academic and historic narrowboater ...
Likes snooker, beer, tea, rivets and solitude, and is strangely fascinated by the cinema organ.
And there might be something about railways.

Sunday 28 February 2021

Tea total

Cups of tea in February: 263 (average of 9.4 per day)

Online meetings in February: 58
(average of 2.07 per day, or 2.9 per weekday - there were none at weekends. It felt like more.)


The moon as I left for a brief stroll this morning

The sun as I returned
And some things I saw along the way
Crocuses on the frosty grass


A frozen puddle in a football pitch. The grass was frosty but the ground beneath soggy.
And a luridly-lichened fallen branch.

Saturday 27 February 2021


Aeons ago (ok, in 1993), when I sat on the Environmental Health Committee of Lewes District Council (when councils still had committees), every meeting would end with an agenda item about reports of notifiable diseases and zoonoses.

There never were any. Happy days.

Cups of tea so far this February: 253
Online meetings so far this February: 58

Friday 26 February 2021

Yorkshire Tea

 One thing I really don't want to run out of. 

Cups of Yorkshire Tea so far this February: 244
(Cups of any other kind of tea: 0)
Online meetings so far this February: 55

Thursday 25 February 2021


The office houseplants are still doing very well.
Be honest, how much thought have you ever given to how plants transport water around within themselves?

Cups of tea so far this February: 235
Online meetings so far this February: 53

Wednesday 24 February 2021


To remind me that I am a boater. Belt on the shelf above it. Brought them home when I thought I'd be going out with the Chesterfield Trust trip boats. 

Cups of tea so far this February: 226
Online meetings so far this February: 51

Bonus W - the funniest thing I've seen for months (just don't ask me why)

Tuesday 23 February 2021


How many University of Sheffield buildings can I see from my attic?

Cups of tea so far this February: 215
Online meetings so far this February: 52

Monday 22 February 2021


... is taking up rather a lot of time at the moment. I may come back and write a bit more about it later. But I probably won't. Got the all-important count in though.

Cups of tea so far this February: 206
Online meetings so far this February: 47

Sunday 21 February 2021

Tea towels

Souvenir tea towels sometimes seem to be viewed as a bit naff, but to me, they're the perfect souvenir: inexpensive, useful, and because you actually use them (but aren't looking at the same one every day) a real reminder of the place and time you got them.

Having said that, I don't have many; only two in fact that are genuine souvenirs that I have bought myself. But never let it be said that I am shy about exposing my life to the view of the internet: tonight I am going to talk about all my tea towels. And even the drawer where I keep them.

The one at the top, 'Working Canal Boats of the Past' was a present from our former next door neighbour in Newhaven. I don't know where they got it from, although I believe they could be purchased from the Stoke Bruerne Museum, at least. It shows a variety of different kinds of boat, fairly faithfully rendered, although not necessarily with due regard to the accuracy of their naming and/or numbering. Unless Chiswick has at some point been Henry, which I'm pretty sure it hasn't.

In the drawer you see my two Wilko sub-Kath Kidson floral tea towels. There was a third in the set, with a pink gingham design, but I took that to Newhaven at Christmas and donated it to Jim. Other people always seem to be short of tea towels; I'm not quite sure why. Nor why other people's tea towels so often mysteriously smell of sour milk. But I digress.

This is the tea towel I am currently using. It was in my mother's house, although it was pretty much unused and I have no idea where she got it from. It's from the shop at the National Gallery, and appears to feature rather crude drawings of fish, some of which are oddly phallic (and may not, in fact, be fish).
And so we come to the genuine souvenirs. Had I known I was going to blu-tack them to the wall and photograph them for the blog, I would have ironed them. But I am nothing if not spontaneous (and I'm not actually that spontaneous, more desperate, with a blog to fill and the snooker starting in ten minutes). This one is Newark, purchased the day we went up the tower of the featured church, and looked down upon the marketplace. Sadly, I posted about it using Blogpress, eater of photos. Nonetheless, the blog tells me that this tea towel will be ten years old in August. What excellent value that represents!
Next we have the delightfully illustrated souvenir of my day trip to Hebden Bridge in 2014.

And I would have finished there, but I remembered that I have one last souvenir tea towel, which actually does duty as the hand towel in the downstairs loo, where it complements the (genuine) BR mirror, one of my few, and probably my best, Ebay purchases. The towel also serves as a reminder of the trips I made to York whilst externalling there (I still do, but I fear my term will be up before they spring for any more trips to the Railway Museum).

Cups of tea so far this February: 198
Online meetings so far this February: 45

Saturday 20 February 2021


This is one of my favourite things. I got it in a charity shop in Huddersfield shortly before I left there. It seemed like a very apposite memento of  my time in West Yorkshire.

But not only is it a lovely object, beautifully crafted and historically significant, it also serves as a book stand on my dining table, holding my book for me to read while I eat.


Cups of tea so far this February: 190
Online meetings so far this February: 45

Friday 19 February 2021


There were times in my life when I had very little money. Obviously not destitute or starving, but having to be very careful, and living on debt to a greater or lesser degree. Over the years I acquired many amazing and treasured things at jumble sales, and later, in charity shops (as well as many quickly discarded and forgotten things).  But. Occasionally Jim and I went to antiques shops, and occasionally we would persuade ourselves to buy something we didn't really need and couldn't really afford (although no children starved as a result). Some of these also have probably been forgotten, and even perhaps regretted. 

But not these rabbits, bearing their leafy fruit bowl.  I love them as much now as when I first saw them. I love the whole object - it makes me smile - but most of all I love the depth of the colour of the green majolica glaze.

They now sit on my dining room sideboard, and occasionally look after some bananas for me.

Thursday 18 February 2021

Quince jelly

Yes, I know this is a very lazy post, quickly dashed off between Mark Williams and Ronnie O'Sullivan (I have invested in Eurosport), but it's a last minute inspired replacement for academic quality control, which was the only other Q that I could lay my hands on, so be grateful for small mercies.

This brings with it memories, of course, of buying it from Captain Ahab at Alvecote in 2019 (it was a while before I opened it), and, thinking of the Richmond maids of honour I might yet make with it, takes me back to 2016 as well.

Cups of tea so far this February: 172
Online meetings so far this February: 43

Wednesday 17 February 2021

Practical Householder

One of my most treasured jumble sale purchases is a set of six volumes of Practical Householder magazine, 1955-1962. It probably cost about 50p and has provided endless interest and amusement. 

The adverts are fascinating (and a surprising number of them feature women, unrolling the new miracle fibre glass loft insulation (yes, it's expensive at £6 to do the whole house, but so worth it to be warm!) or laying Marley flooring. This is just a random selection. (I've kept the photos relatively high-res so that you can zoom in.)

The 1950s man about the house undertakes bricklaying whilst wearing a tie and casually smoking a cigarette:
But do not let it be said that he's not ambitious. From just the one random issue that fell out of the binder, we have part 4 of how to build a bungalow:
And, very excitingly:

Cups of tea so far this February: 162
Online meetings so far this February: 40

Tuesday 16 February 2021


Surprisingly few things start with 'O', at least that I have lying about the house. But here is an owl, which Sebastian bought me at a jumble sale, when I was a student, and jumble sales were an affordable leisure activity. He is, of course, a graduate owl. Like Little Red Monkey, he featured in the online student handbook. I was rather short of photos and was doing it in a hurry.

Anyway, I'm frankly delighted to have found anything starting with 'O' - I thought I might just have to post about an orange pen or something.

Cups of tea so far this February: 153
Online meetings so far this February: 36

Monday 15 February 2021


This is a splendid green baize-covered noticeboard that I salvaged from work. On it, from top left, is:

  • A diagram depicting the foundation year 'programme on a page' (slightly out of date)
  • A visual guide to uploading a video to the Kaltura platform 
  • A photograph of me at my MA graduation (1998)
  • A photograph of sons 1 & 2 (c. 1997)
  • The invitation to No. 2 son's graduation
  • An inspiring email from a student
  • A cartoon about sheep
  • A cartoon about fairness
  • Two conference badges
  • A birthday card print of Eric Ravilious' painting of Newhaven pier (from my mother)
  • A print of a watercolour of Monsal Viaduct which I found in a library book
  • A ticket for The Divine Comedy at the Brighton Dome (December 2017)
  • An AIDS ribbon (purchased at Brighton station that evening)
  • A postcard of a painting of Sheffield's Botanical Gardens
  • Business card of an academic from Bristol
  • Another conference badge
  • A 'We're With the Woolwich' badge
  • A decision tree for getting started with something when you're stuck
  • My father's 1950s business card from the Board of Trade
  • My Cinema Organ Society membership card
  • My Chesterfield Canal Trust membership card
  • Two appreciative emails from t'Boss (very rare)
  • Print of a watercolour of some flowers by a Seaford artist
  • Flier for the 2020 Learning and Teaching Virtual Scholarship Showcase (I maintain the word 'virtual' is in the wrong place there)
  • Experimental 3D printed Idle Women badges (large and small)
  • A short article about the Teaching Excellence Framework
  • Year on year comparison of marks for different assessments on a module
  • A book review and a post-it for three books I might like to read one day (I've just ordered one of them) 
  • A list of railway stations that sound like they could be people's names
  • A Christmas card picture of a blackbird
  • A birthday card picture of some foxes (from No. 2 son)
  • A note demonstrating the difference between 'as such' and 'therefore' because one of my pet peeves is people using the former when they mean the latter
  • My leave planning
  • A very complex diagram of the University's Unfair Means process (obscured)
  • A Private Eye article about Sheffield Coroner's Court (which may have been demolished by now for all I know)

    Cups of tea so far this February: 144
    Online meetings so far thsi February: 31

Sunday 14 February 2021


This is Little Red Monkey. Yes, if you looked at his Beanie Baby label, it would have said he was Schweetheart the orangutan, but he's been Little Red Monkey since I first picked him up in the Chemist's shop in Newhaven twenty-odd years ago, around the time I got my first full time academic job. He's been my work mascot ever since, sometimes staying at the office, but more often watching me work at home. At the moment he sits behind me and photobombs all my video meetings (except for a couple of really important serious ones, when I quietly moved him down a shelf). He featured in the online student handbook I created last summer, and one of the questions in the quiz I devised to get students to actually read the handbook was to find which page he was on. When Sebastian and I play Cards Against Humanity, we deal in Little Red Monkey, and even though his selections are random, he always wins. There's something very cheering about Little Red Monkey. I'm very fond of him.

Cups of tea so far this February: 132
Online meetings so far this February: 30

Saturday 13 February 2021

Leonard Cohen

Yes, I know what you're going to say: I'm meant to be cheering you up, and yesterday we had dead kittens, today the maestro of misery. But part of the reason for this is to dispel that caricature, or at least to challenge it, as it was immediately blown apart for me when I first properly took an interest in his work.

Coincidentally - or who knows, maybe not - having never knowingly listened to a single Leonard Cohen track, I decided to investigate at just the point in my life, around fifteen years ago, when I was exactly ready to appreciate it. I bought a CD of the 1975 Best of... compilation, in an HMV shop, and put it on in the car. The opening track is Suzanne, which I had previously only known from the Neil Diamond cover (and I liked it well enough then). I was immediately, inescapably, hooked. That expression is so over-used now as not to do justice to the way it grabbed hold of me, heart and guts, and wouldn't, still hasn't, let go.

When I got out of the shower in November 2016 and heard Suzanne being played on Radio 4 at six thirty in the morning, I knew he'd died.

After that Best of... I went on to buy every other studio album that was released in the UK - I think (I haven't become an obsessive completist collector in this case; this time it really is just about the songs) - catching up over the course of a few months, and then getting the last three (but one, I notice - there, I said I wasn't obsessive), I think, as they came out. I have mislaid that original compilation, which is a shame, and have consigned Death of a Ladies' Man to the oubliette along with Scott Walker's later oeuvre (as an aside, I have never taken any illegal drugs, let alone really bad quality ones, but I have listened to twenty minutes of Tilt by way of recompense). Occasionally a track will return to haunt me because I can't quite bring myself to delete it from Amazon Music, but it isn't going to feature in any top ten.

And that is kind of the purpose of today's post. I have often wondered whether this or that track, or this or that album, is my absolute favourite, and today I am going to work my way through the lot, picking my favourite track from each album, then ranking them. There are of course, caveats: my favourite track today might not have been my favourite track five, or ten, or fifteen years ago, although in fact my preferences have remained remarkably stable. The most fitting track for any moment depends of course upon one's mood, and one's life at the time but again, I'm not sure that affects which ones I love the most. Finally, of course, it's like an election in a first past the post system - some albums contain three tracks that could be in any top ten, others none. So I'll note this as I go along. The aim, by tonight, is to have three lists: best track on each album, ranked; ten best tracks overall, and albums ranked. I'll keep coming back and updating throughout today (and maybe tomorrow). Let the Lenfest begin.

Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967)
Straight away I'm seeing that it might not be that simple. I knew this album is loaded with great tracks; I thought it was going to be a difficult choice between Suzanne, Sisters of Mercy and So Long Marianne. The latter two are great tracks, and So Long Marianne was the first one that got me  singing along this morning, but I was ambushed by Master Song, which I had almost overlooked. Master Song goes on what I would call my 'bitter list' (of which more later); it has a certain nastiness to it, whereas Suzanne is just beautiful and poignant. Both, however, are packed full of imagery, Master Song much more densely. You never forget that Cohen was a poet long before he was a singer. Two songs, describing, maybe, two relationships, remembered in two very different ways. Both use their verbal-visual images to conjure fragments of feelings in impressions rather than descriptions. Master Song encapsulates everything I think is great about how Cohen does this for the ambiguous and negative side of things, but I think Suzanne (which also has its elements of ambiguity) edges it because of the tune and the accompaniment, which complements the words so well in creating the sense of ... I hesitated a long time there trying out different words, and the best I have so far is ... impossibility.

Songs from a Room (1969)
If your first or only experience of Cohen was this quintessential difficult second album, you could see how he acqired a reputation for being depressing. It's not the content of the songs, but the tunes, arrangements and delivery that make this one of my least favourite albums. Bird on the Wire is one of those songs everyone has heard of, and it sounds like a dirge, and the imagery feels laboured. Story of Isaac is probably my favourite of Cohen's songs on this album, but it is very much a story (even if an allegorical one) rather than a poem. The first album was all metaphor and impression; this from the title track onwards is more simile, allegory, and (relatively) straight narrative. One song actually stands out for me, and it's the one Cohen didn't write: The Partisan.

Songs of Love and Hate (1971)
And then it's my god, what's hit me?  If the last album was one of despair and hopelessness, this one reels with and revels in anger, disappointment and frustration. This is an album for playing loud and howling at the moon. Dress Rehearsal Rag and Diamonds in the Mine make it onto the bitter list, easily.  We're back to songs full of images that don't make sense, but they create such pictures. I don't understand what they mean, but I know how they make me feel, and they know how I feel. Probably the best known song on here is Famous Blue Raincoat, a beautiful evocation of loss and regret and it being too late. I love it. But there's one song on this album that is one of the few on any album that makes me stop what I'm doing, turn up the volume, and stand and listen: Sing Another Song Boys. What's it about? I have no idea. But it is so powerful, so menacing, so very bitter - and also rousing and exhiliarating. I can't imagine an album like this being made today.

New Skin for the Old Ceremony (1974)
The pattern repeats itself; after the tour de force of Love and Hate this feels like a makeweight. Chelsea Hotel #2 is probably the best known track; for me it's one of the few that - I was going to say 'leave a nasty taste' - well, I will say it. If you twisted my arm for my favourite tracks on here I think I'd go for Who By Fire, for its oddness, or Lover Lover Lover for its plaintive refrain, but nothing from here is going to make the top ten of tracks. The best thing about this album is its cover, which is - and this isn't saying much - the least worst of all the Leonard Cohen albums I have, despite being surprisingly rude. It was apparently censored in various ways in some countries, including the UK when it was first released, but not on my CD. I say it's the least worst because it does at least look as if a bit of effort has gone into it; it is actually an illustration, and it looks as if a tiny bit of thought has gone into the design and layout. But, if the songs are as good as most of them are, who needs a fancy cover.

Recent Songs (1979)
So passing swifly over the aforementioned Death of a Ladies' Man we come next to Recent Songs. This feels like a more grown up record (and Cohen was forty five by now), with its strings and eastern influences. It's smoother, but there's still drama, particularly in The Gypsy Wife and Ballad of the Absent Mare, and the lusher arrangement actually seems to bring out the bleakness more in my favourite track on here, The Guests. Although this is an album I enjoy listening to, I find I don't have much more to say about it.

Various Positions (1984)
Strange to say, this is another album that's quite undemanding to listen to (despite the inspiration for at least some of the tracks) and one without anything that really leaps out at you - except for the fact that it includes Hallelujah, which must be his most covered song, so others have clearly seen a lot in it. And yes, it is my favourite on this album, and yes, this is the best version I have heard, but good as the whole thing is, relatively speaking, this still constitutes a bit of a doldrums.

I'm Your Man (1988)
I this was his most popular album to date, but I wouldn't put it among my favourites. I've always liked the swooping madness of First We Take Manhattan but it's pipped by the lush valediction of Take This Waltz

The Future (1992)
To be honest, we might as well stop here. I won't keep you in suspense. Against some stiff competition this is my favourite album, and in an even tighter race, most days Closing Time just beats Sing Another Song Boys as my overall favourite track. It's the other one I will drop everything and stop to listen to, then skip back and listen to it again. It's a serious contender for Music To Be Played At My Funeral. It's raucous, and upbeat and chockfull of regret and thwartedness (there really should be a better noun for that). Other tracks I love on this album are Waiting for the Miracle, Democracy, and the closing instrumental Tacoma Trailer which is an inspired way to finish an album which was by far his most overtly political.

And that's as many as I managed to listen to today. What this exercise has made me realise is that it is all rather miserable (and angry, disappointed, frustrated &c. ...) but none the worse for that. We need soemone to express that for us sometimes and it is still my considered opinion that no one does it better.

Cups of tea so far this February: 123
Online meetings so far this February: 30

Friday 12 February 2021


I've raided just a couple of photo albums from our most cat-intensive period (my mother indulged in a kind of pet shop retail therapy, and this was a tough time for her. Maybe buying kittens wasn't the most terrible response. (This is another 'remember when you could' ... just walk into a pet shop and buy a kitten?). I worked out a while back that I've had over thirty cats over my lifetime, so this really is a very small sample of terrible Instamatic (and in one exciting example, Polaroid) photos.

Leo, 1977. Actually our second cat, ever. Leo was lovely, sinuous, extremely lazy and slightly smelly. He liked water and would sit in the sink under the dripping tap. Like every white cat I have known, he had very thick fur and moulted copiously. After I had put on my navy school skirt in the morning, I couldn't sit down.

By the way, I grew up with that carpet, so it is hardly surprising if I am slightly disturbed. As if it wasn't bad enough in itself, it was cheap foam backed carpet that stretched after being put down ('laid' would imply too great a degree of professionalism) and thus had a ridge running down the middle of the room for fifteen years. And - the greatest crime of all - we had just moved into a brand new house with teak parquet floors and they put this on the top of it.

This quartet date from what was clearly a very stressful period, and were the third to sixth feline additions: front left to right, Sebastian, Tabitha and Jessica, with Carlos on the back of the sofa. Yes, I think there really was a hamster in that cage.
Then came Nicholas, along with his brother Oliver, who like (cat) Sebastian was extremely cuddly, docile and, to be honest, dim, and got run over (as did most of them, sooner or later). Nicholas was sleeker and more savvy, and lasted rather longer. Oliver did have the charming habit of, when I came home from school, running up and leaping onto my chest.
Of all those cats, only one was ever allowed to have kittens. Unfortunately it was Jessica, who was neurotic (she used to lick her armpits bald) and clearly very poor breeding stock. She produced one kitten - Monica - who lived for twenty eight days before dying of a congenital heart defect. Sorry about this, this was supposed to be cheering you up.
As if breeding our own defective felines wasn't enough, we went through a phase of rescuing feral cats from behind the hospital laundry at the massive old psychiatric hospital where my mother worked. This (above, in case you didn't believe the carpet the first time) was Mouse and below is Dylan

Finally we have another two from the pet shop who lived rather longer and healthier lives: Belinda
and Hywel:

Spare a thought also for the children living in that house in the days before effective flea control.

Cups of tea so far this February: 113
Online meetings so far this February: 30

Thursday 11 February 2021


Remember when you could walk into a pub 

No, I mean, remember when you could walk into a pub and there'd be a jug of water on the bar, to pour into your whisky? 

I'm not sure when the practice stopped. What do you do now, if you want water in your whisky? Buy a bottle? Ot let the barperson add it with their gun? I realise I have no idea. Firstly because I very, very rarely drink whisky in pubs, and secondly, because I don't have water in it when I do.
In this I differ from my father, who always had water in his Bells (or Teachers, if Bells wasn't available). That's probably why I became aware of the water jugs. I'm not much of a spirits drinker, but when I do, whisky is now my spirit of choice. I have arrived at it by a long and circuitous route, that began with Malibu (and in my defence, it was 1983 when I turned eighteen) which quickly led to white rum, which in turn led to dark rum, which was my favoured spirit for many years. One year Jim bought me a bottle of Woods (57%) for Christmas. It took me years to finish it, and I fear much of it evaporated while it was waiting for me. Then maybe a dozen years ago, I started to try the odd whisky, and I realised that they weren't all like Bells and water (childhood sips of which had never done much for me). Some got much the same response forty years later; but then there was Ardbeg.
My mother's drink, gin and tonic, has a very particular place in my life. It is my interval drink when I go to the theatre or a concert. This started because beer and wine are so unreliable at theatres, but quickly became a tradition, adding to the sense of occasion. As previously noted, I have always been a massive fan of tonic. In later years of course there has also been the annual Alvecote gin bar, but there I always feel as if I must, somehow, be at the theatre.

I have never drunk vodka. Somehow in my mind it's only one small step up from meths. Or the stuff we put in the Origo.

Anyway, I have a few water jugs. 

Cups of tea so far this February: 105
Online meetings so far this February: 30

Wednesday 10 February 2021

Tuesday 9 February 2021


Well, I was meant to be writing a post about my house, but I've just spent half an hour reading old posts about it instead.

I am very lucky to have a house, and I love my house very much. The interesting thins (well, an interesting thing) is that this is, in at least one way, the house I always dreamed of, in that it has the staircase going crossways through the middle. There were a couple of houses in Haywards Heath when I was growing up that were like that - they had their 'front' doors in the side as well, and that was the sort of house that my adult self occupied in my childhood imagination.

My house, whilst being a largish example, is in layout a classic Sheffield byelaw terrace. This is in many respects different from a Sussex byelaw terrace. If you've not come across that term, well, neither had I until I moved to Sheffield, but as you might imagine, it was a delightful discovery.

The Public Health Act of 1875 required local authorities to bring in byelaws to regulate housebuilding. It stipulated what they were to achieve, but not the detail of how they were to achieve it. So, all new houses had to be built with an outside toilet. At first this would be an earth or 'pail' closet (which will need no explaining for boaters), and there had to be access for the night soil men to empty it. 

Back in Sussex, the closet would be at the bottom of the garden; the terraces would be continuous and solid, and an alleyway would run all the way along the back of them. This sort of set up is pretty common in the north as well, I think, and you can place a person by what they call the alley (gennel, jinnel, etc.) In Sussex I don't recall it having a particular name; there is such a thing as a twitten, but that is a passageway between two (high) walls.

In Sheffield, however, the closet would be adjacent to the house, and accessed from the front, via a passageway every four houses - at a minimum. This meant that gardens or yards could back directly onto one another, with shared walls. My house is essentially part of a court, a square with terraces on all four sides facing outwards, and the gardens in the middle. On my street there's a passageway every two houses, which might be because it's on such a steep slope. A great benefit of that is that the gardens can be individually fenced off, whereas it's still very common here for byelaw terraces to have shared gardens, and for access to two of every four back doors to be across the neighbour's garden.The first floor flies over the passageway (I have a couple of lovely vaulted arches holding mine up) and each house gets half the space - so I have a massive front bedroom, while my next door neighbour's bigger room was at the back, which means they now have a more spacious bathroom than me.

When it was built, this house was a classic two up, two down, with a cellar (for coal), and attic, and an outside toilet. The front door opens directly into the front room - which is another difference from down south, where a separate hallway seems the norm, even though it results in a much smaller front room. Because the front door opens direct into your best room (and often, although not in my case, straight off the street) you don't use it. These days front doors are rarely used because the space is needed for furniture (or in my case, a giant rubber plant).

At some point, I assume in the 1960s, the council bought up a lot of the houses in my street. Most of them got sold again under Right to Buy in the 80s, although one remains as a council house. It was during that period though that the council put in indoor bathrooms, subdividing the upstairs back room, and built the kitchen extensions which are known as an 'offshot' (and which everywhere else seems to be called a tunnelback, although that might by definition be two storey). They also put Veluxes in the attic and possibly rerouted the attic stairs - I haven't quite got my head around that yet.

Cups of tea so far this February: 86
Online meetings so far this February: 21

Monday 8 February 2021


Another childhood object, this time something on mine which has survived more or less intact - a cheap tin globe that I am inordinately fond of. I do recall my father trying to teach me a bit of geography on it, and being amazed by the tinyness of England. It seems so big when you're actually living in it, especially as a four year old.

Photographing it for, probably, the first time in its fifty-year existence, I notice that when looked at in close-up, there's something a bit odd about Scotcland:

Not to mention that the whole of the Midlands - nay, of England, and, indeed, Wales - is called London. And I never noticed that before.

The globe is held in its plastic frame (I bet that thing must have a name) by little plastic lugs. Or it was. Very early on, the lower lug broke off. This was repaired by my father using a technique he deployed in a variety of situations:

By holding a nail, using pliers, in the flame of the gas cooker until it was red hot, then sticking it into the plastic that melted around it. This must actually have required a pretty steady hand. The same technique was used to make holes in yogurt pots to turn them into plant pots. It got quite fumey when he was on a roll. The gas flame would also be used to sterilise a needle (never a pin) for the removal of splinters from fingers. I still have a number of needles turned blue by this (because I do the same thing, not because I have very old needles).

Cups of tea so far this February: 76
Online meetings so far this February: 17