Quite a lot has been happening to me since I last posted. I would say that I have come to tell you all about it, but I have actually come because right now, I will do almost anything to avoid actually looking at my BA dissertation. Oh, a year ago, how fresh and exciting an idea it seemed! Now, as the deadline approaches, I can only conclude that I have been the subject of months of gentle coddling over my scholarly failures, and it is terrible and boring. My mind goes off on wild tangents. (Comparisons of Helena as a mother but not a wife and Theodora as a wife but not a mother! The records of Late Antique Imperial pregnancies and what it says, or does not say, about the state of an imperial marriage!)

Today was supposed to be a day in which I got down to hard graft. So far I have watered my window boxes, (I am a bad plant mother), called a man to ask him to come over and give us a quote for house painting (I am so organised!) had a lot of tea, and answered the door to the postman with a delivery of what the packaging promises are LIVE PLANTS. And done a small amount of editing, and phoned my mother to flail. My poor mother. She doesn’t deserve this.

Oh, and I have spammed my nearest and dearest with emails about everything under the sun, from the Smart Bitches Trashy Books series of posts on Making your life wonderful with Google Calendar, to an Exciting New Project which you probably won’t hear about again for another year. And I sent a few personal emails which, having been on the ‘…I should look at that’ list have now become vitally urgent. Maybe while I reheat my lunch, I will make another Vitally Important Telephone call.

Oh well. I appear to be three quarters of the way through the damn thing all the same.


(British) Pancake Recipe

Yesterday, I called my mother up for her pancake recipe, today being Fat Tuesday, and therefore Pancake Day. (For my friend in New Orleans, it is Mardi Gras, and I imagine her reclining on a throne of beads and silks, eating King Cake. I hope she will not tell me if this is wrong.)

So, I called my mother up for the family pancake recipe, and she reeled it off, and then noted that two of the recipe books we used for it have disappeared, including the Usborne Children’s Book of Cookery. This house does, actually, have a different Usborne Children’s Book of Cookery, but we’d amended the, extremely smeared and begrimed, pancake page of ours. Nonetheless, here is a recipe for pancakes, proportions provided by my mother off the top of her head (but from Delia Smith originally. I know this, because I called again to check, and my mother walked in halfway through and was indignant): Continue reading

A Trip to Dennis Severs’ House

“Dennis Severs’ House,” said Edinburgh Friend.

“You what?” I said, so she sent me a link to the website, and we agreed to go on her trip down to London.

To put this in context, when I came to visit her in what is not, in fact, Edinburgh, but a town between Edinburgh and Glasgow, we visited: Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh in general, Glasgow City Council Chambers, a tea shop that became a gin palace while we were there, and the Glasgow Necropolis. Dennis Severs’ House seemed like the least I could do, given that our other main excitement was a trip to Borough Market, and a trip to an Albanian restaurant, cancelled because I felt terrible.

We left, not as bright and early as we had wished, and arrived at Dennis Severs’ House to find a queue, which we duly joined.

“I hope they take cards,” Edinburgh Friend mused, and hastily checked the website. “It doesn’t say cash only, we should be fine.”

Reader, we queued for forty-five minutes, and discovered that they did not take cards. Because neither of us knows when to give up, we went, got cash, and came back, and by the time we got in it was two hours since we’d started queueing, and I’d read most of The Death of the Necromancer and started downloading The Mysterious Death of Miss Jane Austen to be on the safe side.

The conceit of Dennis Severs’ House is that you are travelling forwards in time, though the 18th and 19th centuries, in the lives of the Gervais/Jervis family, Huguenot silk weavers and merchants. You start in the cellars, with a small part of masonry from St Mary Spital, and the kitchens, and then ascend up the house, through the years, until you reach the rooms of silk weavers at the beginning of the reign of Queen Victoria, and then down again to what I am informed is supposed to be 1914. The house is set up as if the inhabitants have just risen and left, leaving dinner half-eaten, a teacup shattered on the floor, a chair still tipped over after a raucous party. (I notice that, to keep this impression going, the only completely unburnt candles are the unlit ones. The lit candles start off half-burnt. I saw them being changed.) Occasionally you hear voices,  a cat yowling, a baby whimpering, a coal scuttle being clanged.

The motto of the house is ‘you either see it or you don’t’ and, in all honesty, I don’t think I did. Oh, I enjoyed it. I liked the setup, I liked seeing all the items as if in use, I liked making small deductions about the people who lived there, but the chiding notes which effectively scolded you for reading them really got up my nose, and there’s only so many times you can see something compared to the world’s great opera experiences before you start going “Really?” In addition, while the lack of context for what you’re seeing is part of the show, I would have liked a little more. It was a very insular story.

If you read the website and like the sound of it, I recomment that you go. And take cash.

“This Is Not a Novel To Be Tossed Aside Lightly. It Should Be Thrown with Great Force”

We’ve all got them. Things which you read in books that make you want to fling them across the room, preferably while howling “WTF? WTAF?” as your friends and neighbours wonder if you’re actually being murdered this time.

I was reading this particular book on my phone, so instead I’m screaming “WTAF?” at the internet. It’s cheaper.

I’m not really talking about things that throw you out of the flow of the story, though we’ve all got those too. (Mine include improper use of noble titles, especially British ones– Barons and Baronets are different things, their children adopt different styles, and Debrett’s is here for you, which is a thing multiple friends of mine get thrown off by, and an improper understanding of the Quaker attitude to war and killing other people, which as far as I know is just me.)

I’m talking about plotlines where you put the book down going. “You’ve lost me, and my sympathy, and WTAF were you thinking? Were you thinking? WHY DID YOU DO THIS?”

(Content note: the remainder of this post discusses rape, specifically myths about false rape accusations, and sexual harassment.)

Continue reading

I Guess My Corpse Is A Swan Now: A Weird Folk Education

While noodling around on tumblr, I came across I Guess My Corpse Is A Swan Now: A Weird Folk Education, by elodieunderglass. The perfect thing to listen to as you go about your day! Including, such exciting songs as “I Dated A Serial Killer and Then Killed Him” and “An Elfin Knight Kidnapped My Wife, So I Staged This Elaborate Revenge Musical To Get Her Back”.

If anyone wants me, I will be wandering around my house, triumphantly singing that I drowned a guy.