Listening to: New Teller – Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers

I have a knitting question, to which I should really just look up the answer myself, but anyway: if I want to block a hat to make it a little bit bigger, do I just do it flat? Will that create weird side creases? I don’t know what else I’m expecting – some sort of papier maché hat-blocking solution? Should I just find someone with a bigger head who wouldn’t mind wearing it for a bit? The first Saartje’s Noro Hat I knit is completely lovely and fits nicely, but I don’t like it quite as much as the second one, which had five extra stitches and is that little bit roomier.

Today: Shepherd’s Bush (I’ve missed it! I got a bit nostalgic for that first London house), a haircut (I look so weird with my hair blow-dried straight – there will be no pictures) and sunshine (I had to take my coat off on the walk home!).


Listening to: Night of the Wolverine – Dave Graney & the Coral Snakes (ah, definitely one of the twenty sexiest songs of the ’90s)

This book intrigues/excites me – Flow : the cultural story of menstruation. Not only the subject matter, but I’ve heard/read universally good things about it so far (unlike, say, Cunt, which could also have been cool but which no one in the world – including me – actually liked).

Today it was too rainy to go walking…but I went, anyway. My poor sneakers are never going to dry. The lure of the closed bridge was too great:

<img src="Closed to traffic but not feet.” alt=”” />

I think I’ve given up on being London’s foremost super-explorer, though, and am settling into using my week for crafty/reacreational-academic endeavours. I’ve been studying today – I decided the best way to teach myself Dutch (that again – I know) was to throw myself in at the deep end, so I’ve started translating (from Dutch to English) a Henning Mankell book I got when we were in Bali a million years ago. It’s quite fun and I expect the funness to increase as my vocabulary improves (I had to look up 27 out of 77 words in the first paragraph, although some of that was just to get confirmation). I have no real use for the ability to speak Dutch, but there is something satisfying about softening all your consonants (or whatever the linguistic term is) and I don’t think it gets enough credit for how pretty a language it is.

I have been trading off Battlestar Galactica episodes with Freaks & Geeks (rewatching), which is a nice balance.

Remind me, remind me that I need to go to the Women’s Library at some point – their Women’s Liberation exhibition has been on since October and I still haven’t seen it.

Listening to: Forget It, Sister – You Am I

When I left my last job, I was given a book voucher but I couldn’t decide how to spend it. Luckily, Patti Smith has been everywhere lately (there was even an interview with her in the Vogue I picked up off the floor of the library today) and I happened to have time to kill in Kensington this afternoon and there was a Waterstone’s… So after traipsing up and down the stairs for a bit, trying to get a straight answer from the salespeople (“I think we’ve sold out, but try upstairs in Music” – “Well, there might be a copy left in the Biography section, if you can find it”. Libraries are so much more sensible – imagine if I spoke to students like that!), I emerged with my very own copy of Just Kids, her book about life with Robert Mapplethorpe in New York from the late ’60s onwards. So far – and I’ve only read the first chapter, which is Patti’s childhood in Chicago and Pennsylvania, her discovery of the power of her own imagination and her introduction to books – it’s beautiful.

Less beautifully, Tony Abbott is a fuckwit, but at least people are writing about it. I particularly like this piece by Karen Brooks:

I wanted to give myself a context for understanding all the brouhaha that erupted last week when our budgy-smuggler-wearing Opposition Leader was quoted as having said ‘women should treat virginity as a gift.’ My knee-jerk response was, ‘You’re a gift, Abbott, with a silent ‘f’.

(Tony Abbott is married! Was this well-known? Gross.) I think I kind of miss Australian politicians. I’ve enrolled to vote here, but to be honest I don’t know what I’m doing. They don’t have Green MPs! I’m not sure how to work with that.

My lovely boss had a nasty accident on her bike last night (thanks to a taxi, which is completely horrifying) and although she’s going to be fine (superficial but frightening-to-behold injuries, apparently), I’m in charge for the next couple of weeks. The day-to-day librarian stuff I can handle, but there’s a massive gap in qualifications between us and the library assistants (who are lovely and competent but are also mostly gap year students and refer pretty much all enquiries to us) and finding a way to maintain a useful service to students from 8.30am until 7.00pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays is going to be a bit of a nightmare. We just closed early today, but it wouldn’t be fair to do that again and we had a heap of reference queries as I was trying to get out the door this afternoon (I’d normally finish at 3.45 and do the late on Thursday). And I can let the others open on Thursday morning, but then my whole day will be spent on the Help Desk and I’ll miss out on any admin time. Argh!

Listening to: Synchronised Sinking – The Lucksmiths

Can you freeze raw apple? By which I mean, what would one be able to do with it once thawed, do you think? I have a lot of apples (the only reliably interesting thing at our farmers’ market – I don’t seem to eat a lot of them, though) but not a lot of interest in stewing apples. Hints? Tips?

You can’t really tell from the photo, but I’m knitting a sparkly jumper:

I am also (finally, finally) reading Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-up Bird Chronicle. It scared me at first because I remember it staying on my dad’s bedside table for more than a year, but I think this just reveals him to be an incredibly slow reader – it’s actually a really fun, easy read (it’s the first Japanese book I’ve read since Banana Yoshimoto’s Kitchen! How can this be?). I picked it up because we’re discussing his What I Talk About When I Talk About Running at my bookclub next month (oh, dear reader! I assume you know me personally. I have bookclubs now), which didn’t really do anything for me literarily. So I wanted to figure out what the fuss was about and I get it now! The voice is the same but context and character are making all the difference. I will report back properly once I’ve finished it.

I’m a school librarian now and, sadly, there are no Mills & Boons to be seen. I have, however, been cataloguing a whole heap of surprisingly racy Christian romance paperbacks (they’re all about out-of-control young men living lives of insane [and badly-written] debauchery before being saved by the Lord and the love of a good woman) – the titles are boring but the content is outstanding. Expect excerpts.

Listening to: lots of You Am I

I made a firm promise to Heather some weeks ago that My Finest Hour would be back up and running any minute, so – ta-da! I am not all talk and no action.

Being a librarian is exhausting! I think because I’ve gone for months without being creative or interested at work – I got lazy, people. So this is not a complaint – it’s the best kind of exhaustion – but it’s going to take some getting used to, fitness regimes, et cetera.

My new favourite toy is Intute, this database of free, authoritative (as reviewed by university-type people) websites on many subjects – almost as good as the WSRC Wiki!

Other good things: I am off to a training session in Oxford on Tuesday (!!!) and every Wednesday I am leading (I hesitate to say “teaching”) a tiny class of students who’ve chosen Information Skills as their mandatory extracurricular activity for the term (kind of like our Line 8, but more directly geared towards making their university applications look good [rather than, uh – what did we do? Lawn bowls?]). First class yesterday, with an hour’s notice (!), was not a complete disaster (but it probably was a bit boring). Any tips? Next week we’re looking at online research (hence the Intute link).

Today I have been listening to a lot of You Am I. I’m trying to focus my listening habits more and stick to one artist a day (to stave off a nasty case of short-attention-span). I love this song and video (and many others):


Listening to: Love Her Madly – The Doors

Firstly, when did this happen? Suddenly it’s autumn! Awesome.

Autumn in Ealing!

Secondly, this is our oven:

It's the crumbs stuck to the grease on the door that get me.

It’s hard to photograph grease.

Thirdly, I found a new way to walk home today. Google was directing me kind of the long way round (and I’ve been lazy since the move and usually catch the bus from Acton to Hammersmith, halving my walk), but I knew there had to be a way through Chiswick so I printed a couple of zoomed out Google Maps to keep me in the right general direction and set off to explore. It was fun not knowing quite where I was going to end up next! And eventually I made it to the Thames Path (my old nemesis), which was probably not the wisest move because it got quite dark by that point (winter is really coming! Yea!) but it worked out okay. I took quite a main roady route to be on the safe side, so there’s still more to explore in the back streets tomorrow!

Does anyone read these rollover comments?

Ah, Thames Path, we meet again...

Finally, Heather has been emailing me some completely awesome Mills & Boon titles. I am ashamed to say how long it’s been since I even set foot inside a library (not only ashamed but completely distraught, really – what am I doing?) – I’ve missed these and I need to start looking for some of my own again, too! Here’s a selection (seriously, these are some of the best ever):

  • Captive of the desert king
    The Spaniard’s defiant virgin
    The Sheikh’s defiant bride
    One night with the rebel billionaire
    The ruthless Italian’s inexperienced wife
    The Greek tycoon’s unwilling wife
    The Greek tycoon’s convenient wife
    The desert king’s pregnant bride
    The Sheikh’s rebellious mistress
    Up close and dangerously sexy
    The secretary and the millionaire
  • Listening to: When I Get to the Border – Richard & Linda Thompson

    I think the keyboard issue might actually have something to do with the internet – I’ve switched to writing this in Word and it’s fine. We’ll see how WordPress copes when I paste it in, though. It doesn’t generally play well with others.

    Primark on Sunday was kind of a bust (I briefly considered a red wool-blend skirt for work and was going to do it up with new buttons and rick-rack, but it was so cheaply-made that the lining felt like an actual plastic bag so I gave up on the dream), but I did finally find a full-length mirror in a cheap shop on King Street in Hammersmith for 12 quid, so I came home happy. It’s currently propped up on my singles box, but I need to think of something taller because it cuts my head off.

    Singles box contains gems such as Perfect Day/Walk on the Wild Side by Lou Reed and Piece of My Heart by Janis Joplin

    I am in love with the fibre arts lately! I’ve had my crochet hooks out to work on the neverending afghan and have recently begun to turn them to smaller, more creative projects – crochet is so full of possibilities! I made a little tiara out of scraps on Sunday night (I had season 4 of Weeds to get through) – it’s hard to make out in the photo because there are a million ends to weave in, but I like it:

    In progress - 3mm hook, DK weight yarn

    All those ends to weave in!

    With clip, for attaching to head.

    And I’ve been trawling the Craftzine crochet archives – there’s nothing there I specifically want to make (I think amigurumi are cute and everything, but what do you do with them once you’ve made them, really?), but they’re really inspiring! If I can find a cheap enough cotton/blend yarn, I’m going to try my hand at a freeform laundry basket (I’m thinking of something like my Year 12 Ceramics assignment [a massive great coil pot that kind of collapsed in an aesthetically pleasing way shortly before I finished it – my mum now stores her umbrellas in it], minus the clay). And my Elizabeth Zimmermann pi shawl continues to grow. Its awesomeness isn’t really down to anything I’m doing because it’s all about the self-striping yarn and genius circular formula (I haven’t made it remotely lacy – maybe when I get to the border), but I’m so looking forward to the finished product. It’s just starting to get cool enough to wear woollens here and yesterday I tried out the simple Gaia shawl I made a couple of months ago – it was like wearing a hug! So cosy.


    Help! It's swallowed my backpack.

    Finally, this is insane but I would have loved this when I was a kid.

    Actually, no, really finally I have a question – is anyone else having trouble with iTunes 9? I upgraded to it without thinking and now it comes up with a fatal intallation error every time I try to use it. Don’t they know I have podcasts to download?

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