The sun has got his hat on

I am sunburnt and listening to this record…

…It must be summer!!

P.S. Stuck for what to buy me for Christmas? Try this.




I can’t believe I still haven’t blogged about Bookbarn!!

To celebrate handing in our final coursework, Rob and I drove down to deepest, darkest Somerset (well…just south of Bristol) to visit “the UK’s largest used book warehouse”. It was all a little too exciting, frankly, and I was paralysed on entering the barn rather than tearing about the bookshelves as Rob had predicted. The website claims that they have over five million books. I didn’t count, to be honest, but I can confirm that they have a lot. And they are all catalogued and sorted into an impressive array of subjects, including two separate sections on “Magic – Conjuring” and “Magik – Occult”. So specific…

Rob spent some time in the Transport section (he can’t help it… *giggle*) and then, bravely, endured even longer in the Feminism/Gender Studies section where I got overexcited by a 1970s pamphlet on black lesbian literature – which would have been amazingly useful when I was in my final year at Cardiff – but didn’t buy it. I regret not buying something completely random – and there was a great deal to choose from – but I suppose I was being sensible for once.

My only reservation about the place is that the fiction section (I say section…) was only sorted by the first letter of the author’s surname so Douglas Coupland was next to Angela Carter was next to Albert Camus was next to J.M. Coetzee. Annoying.

Still, I bought the following books – all fiction:

Jane Campion, “The Piano” – Which has been on my “To Read” list for many years.

Shena Mackay, “The Orchard on Fire” – Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be my kind of thing but “Heligoland” – also by Mackay – is a stunning novel so I’m hoping for more of the same from this. She’s also written a book called “Dunedin” which, of course, is a place close to my heart, so I’m going to seek that out next…

Deborah Moggach, “These Foolish Things” – I saw her read from this novel at the Cheltenham Literature Festival a few years ago. I don’t remember a lot about it but I remember it sounding funny and I am trying to develop a collection of novels from the Indian Subcontinent (as evidenced here).

Julie Myerson, “Me and the Fat Man” – Julie Myerson is one of my favourite authors. I wish I’d known about her when I was doing my undergrad degree because she writes so much like a woman, it is striking. I could have said a lot about that at the time. I like the way she writes about sex, particularly… “like an angel brought up in a brothel” according to Ruth Padel. And the fact that her writing is so deceptively simple. I hope this book will be as good as “The Story of You”.

I’ll go back and do the other 24 letters of the alphabet another time…

And Rob and I ate lovely cake and drank tea/coffee and discussed how long I could survive in there should I get locked in. Highly recommended.


Tomorrow I have the first exam I’ve taken in eight years. I never thought I’d do another one in my life. I’m hoping that, after tomorrow, I never do again.

Anyway, it’s a seen exam (actually, that makes it harder, I think) and I will be answering the following questions:
1. Is there any significant difference between what is now being termed “spatial” planning and what used to be termed “land-use” or “town and country” planning?

2. Is the state justified in playing a leading role in planning and controlling spatial development?

To which I will be responding:
1. No, not really. I mean, it’s all the same as what’s gone before, just by a different name. Except that maybe we’re doing it a little differently these days and pulling it all together. It’s an evolution… or something.
2. Yes, pretty much. What’s the alternative, huh? Letting uncontrolled market forces do it? I think not. Look what happened in the 19th century, for God’s sake. And don’t get me started on Thatcher…

Except over the space of about 16 sides of A4 if my practice run is anything to go by. Yikes.

Still, just three hours of my day tomorrow and then it’ll all be over, bar the dissertation…

On another note entirely, whilst I like this song, if I ever hear it used in that advert for Gossip Girl again – the one with the text messages – I WILL SCREAM. Maybe I should watch less ITV…

Off the wagon

Well, my five week no-social-life rule crashed to its knees this weekend. And what a weekend it was…

On Friday, we said goodbye to Julie. She’s one of those people who make a really dull day in the office a little bit brighter and I’m really sorry to see her go. I’m not sure what I’ll do without her random, oddball comments, her invaluable advice on anything from matching my accessories to planning my future career and her endless cups of tea. And I’m not sure who is going to tell me how many Weight Watchers points I’ve managed to tot up each day (Kettle Chips for breakfast aren’t good, apparently).

Her send off at the much lauded (by Julie, mainly) Mint Lounge in Bromsgrove was appropriately raucous and Little Miss Designated Driver here got to witness the event sober. I’m a little damaged by the experience, frankly…

Sample quotation:
Other colleague: Right. Everyone agreed? Monday will be NO KECKS DAY!
Julie: No, I left some cakes in the kitchen. You can all just help yourself.

You see my point…

Then, on Saturday, RG30 – Rob’s epic celebration of his 30th birthday – lived up to expectations. Indeed, they exceeded them. The film was great (can’t believe I’ve never got round to seeing it before) and prompted me to dig out my old Violent Femmes cassettes. Also, John Cusack as a hitman…mmmmmm… The cinema was far, far too cool for its own good. Dinner and mojitos went down very, very well and the club was awesome…and later a little sweaty too (props to Rob and Corin for some damn good compilations).

In retrospect, I think starting to drink before we’d even left Rob’s flat at lunchtime could have led to his downfall. That and the cocktails, gin and beer… But taking the shambolic birthday boy home in a taxi was pretty entertaining and has provided me with enough embarrassing stories about him for the next 30 years, so I’ll forgive him for vomiting on my shoes (it’s ok, Rob, I’ll stop telling people soon). I’m still so impressed that he not only got up in the morning to devour Amy’s fry up but he made it round to parents’ house for their fantastic survivors’ lunch too.

Photographic evidence of the great event can be found here. I deny any recollection of a number of the photos.

Now…some exam preparation perhaps?

Mr & Mrs

Chris and I gave our notice of marriage today. So you all now have 15 days to lodge an objection but please don’t because it cost us £60 and I don’t want to have to fork out again.

It was a strange experience. Nice but strange. We had to answer questions about each other whilst the other one was out of the room – like a little Mr & Mrs test. But with harder questions. I got all mine right but Chris didn’t know my Dad’s middle names. I think I can forgive him that because he knew what my Dad did before he retired and he could also say what my job is (which few people can).

Less than a year to go now…

The light at the end of the tunnel

For a migraine sufferer, one of the nicest things in the world is the realisation that you feel better. It’s this wonderful sense of relief that comes all of a sudden. After two days of excruciating pain and a constant and exhausting nausea, I’m not quite there yet. But, when I took my last batch of painkillers (which, frankly, haven’t really touched the headache at all), I didn’t make a mental note of what time I could take my next batch. That’s a very good sign.

How long is too long?

Here’s a question for you: when it comes to song intros, how long is too long?

Until I listened to the Death Cab for Cutie song, “I Will Possess Your Heart”, I’d have said four and a half minutes was too long. Those of you who know me will know that I am not famous for my patience. And DCfC are certainly testing what little patience I do have.

But, once the intro is over, the song is deliciously creepy: “You’ve got to spend some time, love / You’ve got to spend some time with me / And I know that you’ll find, love / I will possess your heart.”

Also, today I have managed to work the following words into my literature review: polemic, rhetoric, paradigmatic, panacea. I am on fire!

And, my God…it’s so sunny today!! If only my throat hurt a little less…