Tuesday, June 28, 2005

I wanted to write something about Andy, whose funeral is this afternoon, but everything I have to say sounds weird and silly. Rachel said it well at Pamzine (see the link in the sidebar). I will say that his death – and the accident that caused it – was a horrible shock. He was a popular person, and I saw him at lots of events we both attended: gigs, clubs, book group, fundraisers. He was a passionate, curious, questioning, funny, principled man. The Pamzine ladies summed up exactly how I felt: that the world needs a lot more people like him. He will be very much missed.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


That’s the weather forecast for Bilbao on Monday. Luckily the tormentas! (illustrated by a large grey cloud, fat raindrops and daggers of yellow lightning) should pass by Tuesday, when all should be scorchio! again.

On Friday night I went to see Salt of the Earth, a 1950s film made by blacklisted actors, writers and crew, at UCL. It’s about a miners’ strike in New Mexico, which the women take over and hold the picket line despite being repeatedly gassed and threatened. It’s based on real events, too. And for anyone who thinks (as I did) that feminism died in the 1920s and wasn’t resuscitated until the late 60s, this film comes as a pleasant surprise. The story behind it is fascinating, too: ultra conservatives such as Howard Hughes did everything they could to stop it being made, including banning labs from processing the film. Hence the final cut jumps around a bit, and the colour and sound varies from scene to scene, because the film was processed and edited in bits before being pieced together.

After the screening we wandered the halls of UCL, and took a peek at Jeremy Bentham. I did not know that Mr Bentham still attends all university meetings, despite the fact that he died in 1832. His cadaver, per his instructions, was dissected, embalmed, dressed, and placed in a chair, and to this day resides in a cabinet in a corridor of the main building of University College (from http://www.iep.utm.edu/b/bentham.htm). Sadly Mr Bentham’s chamber does not have glass doors, so we didn’t get a look at him. But just knowing he’s there is scary enough.

We rounded the evening off with fat chips from Rock & Sole Plaice, and teacups of wine at Irene’s flat.

Dr Rachel L, where are you? Have you moved to New Haven yet?

Thursday, June 02, 2005

There’s a guy I work with who has a Dr Hibbert laugh. I mean, really a Dr Hibbert laugh. And he’s an old, big, bearded, upper-class white guy. He looks like Father Christmas, too.

Went to the Imperial War Museum photo archive today, and looked at over 6,000 pictures from WW1. The library assistant wasn’t exactly unhelpful, but she didn’t go out of her way to make my search easier, either. I was looking for something quite specific: a photo of two or three British soldiers, standing, and the pic had to have emotion, dirt, mud. The librarian suggested I start with the ‘civilians’ file, and after flicking through dozens of sepia images of soldiers picking grapes, flirting with local women, and milking cows, I realized I’d be better off looking for blood ‘n’ guts elsewhere – like in the files marked ‘battles’! Still, I came away with about twenty good shots. Hopefully Intense Author (who declared our original – and our revised – cover ‘awful; absolute shit’) will like one of them.