Thought for the day

“My therapist told me the way to achieve true inner peace is to finish what I start. So far today, I have finished two bags of M&Ms and a chocolate cake. I feel better already.” — Dave Barry

I like this mental health maintenance approach. Going with that myself. Except I will also include ‘finishing chapter four’ as I am not leaving the library today until that bugger is surfing its way across the Internet into the Inbox of my supervisor to sort the hell out!

Friends

I got to work this morning. Something happened. I needed assistance. I sent an SOS email to my friend. Thirty minutes later, she arrived at uni with the urgently required item.

That is one of the reasons a good friend is the best thing in the world.

Thank you Ariel! I couldn’t decide which ‘thank you’ image to illustrate my thanks, so you get both.

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Is it just me?

I am 40 years old and I find colouring-in a very relaxing activity. Is it just me? It is almost midnight on Thursday 23 May 2013 and I have vowed I will not leave the library until blasted chapter four has been drafted and emailed to my poor long-suffering supervisor.

My shift finished at 9pm. Since then I have eaten my dinner, watched some Stephen Fry in Planet Word, and it is currently playing in the background for my listening pleasure.

While I was ‘watching’ Planet Word, I was colouring-in.

I went in search of a colouring-in book on the weekend. It wasn’t until tonight that I have been able to christen it. I have been using colouring-in as a relaxation technique since 2001 during the long and emotionally-draining job hunt on my arrival in post-9/11 London.

Tonight, I think it has been more about avoiding the inevitable. (It’s always something with me.)

However, maybe, after the relaxation of bringing some colour into the apple-picker’s life and listening to the wonderful Stephen Fry, I might feel able to get on with this blasted chapter and send it through the virtual world to my supervisor before I pass out from tiredness, or boredom, or frustration.

As someone who can’t draw to save her life, well, not anything beyond the basic geometrically unrealistic house and an amateurish cartoon smiley face, I get great pleasure from selecting the colours to bring a little colour-in to technicolor glory. I feel ill-equipped at present as I only have a selection of 12 pencils.

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Pencils are my preferred colouring-in tool. When I am doing it right, I will have a pencil box full of colours and variations on the theme. The sight of a large packet of colour pencils gets my colouring juices going. The choice between the 5 variations of red or blue is part of fun.

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I am pretty fussy when it comes to the colouring-in book. I am not really a fan of these ones tied to kids’ telly shows and films. They don’t feel right for colouring. I am a girl of the 1970s and we had certain styles of colouring-in books that just enhance the whole experience of colouring-in. I have been on what was fast becoming a fruitless search for the right colouring-in book until the weekend when I popped into a newsagency to see what they had to offer and amongst the undesirable telly/film tie-in colouring books, I found it. Thick black lines forming large and happy figures that cry out for a colouring-in by the enthusiastic colourist.

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It sounds like the screening episode of Planet Word is drawing to its inevitable conclusion and I vowed that I would get underway with some writing of my own when that happened. And I mean thesis-writing, not bollocks-ing away on my blog.

I leave you tonight with my current colouring creation. I promise that it will be the only relax-ating colouring I do tonight and this morning, (which begins in 5 minutes). I will, now, finally, return to blasted chapter 4. (That is not its official title by the way. No, it’s ‘Inside the Paris Hôtel-Dieu: The effect of the May 1505 Reform’ actually.)

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Happy Colouring-In!

Tips for my Fellow Drivers that descends into a ramble about Australia

Actually, it’s not so much tips for my fellow drivers. I only have one really. I was reminded of this particular ‘tip’ this morning, when, once again, I’m travelling along Great Eastern Highway doing the allowable speed of 80km/hr and just ahead of me I see a Ford driver, (the make of the car is irrelevant, but as a Holden/Commodore girl, one notices when an evil Ford is in one’s path). The Ford driver is waiting to pull onto the highway. The Ford driver pulls out onto the highway just in front of me!

Fortunately, as I’m driving a Little White Holden Nova, aka a brilliant car with excellent brakes, I was able to slam on them and reduce my speed from 80km/hr to around 20km/hr in the 5 seconds time frame that could have resulted in me and my Little White Holden Nova occupying the same space as the Ford and the idiot behind its wheel.

This is not the first time a driver has done this to me. And I am sure some of my Fellow Drivers on the Great Eastern Highway have had it done to them.

If someone has to slam on their brakes to prevent slamming into you, YOU HAVE PULLED OUT TOO SOON!!!

I think the police might have to introduce a system whereby people have to retake the test for their drivers licence every 5 years, because the dangerous way some people manoeuvre about the roads suggests to me that some of them received no instruction at all, or need a little reminder about how to be a safe and courteous driver.

Now, I am not saying I am a perfect driver. No, indeedy not. In fact, I got ‘done by the fuzz’ for talking on my mobile the other weekend. I wasn’t driving at the time. I was sitting at the red traffic light. There was a police car in front of me. The phone rang, I was trying to meet up with someone, so I answered it. Then I saw the police car’s lights flash.

“I’ve got to hang up! It’s the Fuzz!”

It turns out that if you are in your vehicle and the engine is on, NO PHONE! I thought it would be okay because I was stationary at the traffic lights. No, the police man informed me, giving me a caution and telling me to put my phone away. (I learned something very important and I provided some amusement for the ANZAC Day Parade attendees who were standing about waiting to cross the road.)

So, you see, I am not a perfect driver. However, I do wait for there to be a sufficient break in traffic before I pull out in front of fast-moving vehicles. Maybe I can be accused of waiting too long, going by the chap who was sitting behind me the other morning, during peak hour, I hasten to point out. Suddenly, he’s sounding his horn, furiously reversing back before, illegally, coming down beside me, waiting for 2 seconds and then shooting out onto the highway, right in front of two lanes of peak hour traffic causing the lead cars to, go on, guess! There was a reason I was sitting there for a long time, dickhead! (The DH in question wasn’t driving a Ford. It was a Nissan.)

The thing is, and this probably harks back to the ‘Thought for the day‘ I posted earlier, every time this happens to me I get plunged into a melancholy. If you have wandered onto my blog before, you know that I am, as my nephew J…… and I refer to ourselves, an Aussie-Pom. He actually is, whereas I am one at heart. These near misses on the road are a brief moment when the possibility of dying in bloody Perth becomes an actuality!

I am a Perth-girl born and bred, but my soul belongs in the Mother Country, (aka England), and I am desperate to get back there. (Though not desperate enough to get my skates on and finish the Blasted Thesis it would seem.)

Perth is a great place, don’t get me wrong. If you like the beach, we have the best in Australia. Yes, it is sunny and hot, bloody hot, for most of the year, unless you live in Melbourne, and is probably why I love that city so much. However, these two things, which are the reasons why my English friends think I’m mad for wanting to live in England, do not appeal to me at all. I absolutely deplore the heat. It is awfully relentless here in summer time. It’s soooo draining. To me! This Aussie does not thrive on, or in, the heat. I can’t even tolerate it. (I am very much a Whinging Aussie-Pom in summer time; if the heat hasn’t zapped me free of even enough energy to utter a whinge.) Every summer I spend in Australia, I pray daily to the gods who inspired the people behind the invention of air conditioning. Bloody marvellous invention! I’m more polar bear in my tendencies. Give me a good thunderstorm with a chill in the air and… BLISS!

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As for the beach babe thing. Well, I used to love going to the beach. It was something the Elliott Clan did almost every weekend and our camping holidays were generally to beachside destinations like Kalbarri (fabulous), Denmark (lovely) and Dunsborough (best bakery!).

Then I saw Jaws.

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I must have been under 12 because it was at our Cook Ave house. It was the viewing choice of our guest, Rosalie C-F, who wasn’t afraid of anything! After that it was a case of, “The beach? Swimming? No thanks!” I don’t need to remind you that for us Aussies, Jaws is a reality. That was enough to put me off going into the water for a long time and the fear was exacerbated by a documentary we watched in Science class around the same time about the perils of the ocean, particularly the deadly blue-ringed octopus, who is rather fond of the West Australian waters. (Or so I got into my head and have thought ever since until I looked him up now for the linking and discovered he prefers South Australia and New South Wales waters.)

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Oh! Another one. We were holidaying in Denmark one year. I was floating about in the tidal waters atop my boogie board when Dad suddenly appeared beside me and says calmly, but, I remember sensing, with a little urgency, “Lisa, come over here to me now please”. I dutifully floated over and Dad pulled me off my boogie board. I turned around to see I had been followed through the shallows by a rather enormous sting-ray. Yes, the creature that Steve Irwin was in the act of taunting just before he was tragically killed, by the sting-ray.Image

My fear of the beach wasn’t helped when my sport teacher forced me into the water for a swimming lesson. I wasn’t happy about it, but like Dory in Finding Nemo, I ‘just kept swimming, just kept swimming’. Until. Suddenly I have stopped swimming, am standing up, screaming and pulling at my bathers. A jellyfish had floated into my decolletage area and attached itself under my left lady-part to do its stinging thing. My friend, Dulcie reached in and ripped it out, but the damage was done. And I’m not talking about just to the underside of my left bosom. The incident was further confirmation that the beach was no place for me. (And just a tip. Yellow, red and orange bathers are a bad idea as they are attractive colours for sea creatures. I was wearing red bathers when I encountered the stingray and bright orange ones when I had my close encounter with the jellyfish. Proof.)

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But, seriously though, many many Australians go through their life with very little disagreeable or fatal contact with our rather ferocious wildlife. The Australian landscape is bloody amazing, as I was reminded earlier this year when I accompanied Dad and the Penthouse Caravan on the drive back from Canberra across the Nullarbor Plain to Perth.

Potential Visitors, do not be put off with our joshing you about the wildlife. The life guards won’t let you in the water if there are sharks and we are pretty good at keeping the deadly spiders at bay. Don’t venture off into the bush without a functioning GPS and lots of water. (Actually, just don’t do that unless you are on a guided tour with The Bush Tucker Man.) The crocodiles of the Northern Territory won’t snack on you if you actually pay attention to the signs. They are everywhere and they aren’t there purely as subjects for your holiday snaps.

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I can’t remember the last time I encountered a deadly spider. I remember very clearly the last time I saw a snake (about 3 years ago) and, fortunately, it was in our pool and I think it was dead, but I didn’t stay around long enough to check. (Apparently they are more terrified of us, so, as the posters tell us, Keep Calm and Stay Still. Oh, and always wear long hiking trousers or socks when walking in the Aussie bush, so if they go for you, they can’t get your ankles.) I saw crocs when I toured Kakadu National Park, with Australian of the Year John Farnham, and survived because, unlike John’s young son, who wanted to jump in to swim with them, I didn’t. I stayed in the boat. I paid attention to the croc signs whenever I came across an inviting looking watering hole. Actually, if you come to a watering hole, check for signs before going anywhere near the water. In regard to the prehistoric reptiles, I recommend you don’t have a crocodile pie when visiting the Darwin Croc Farm. It really isn’t sensible to be walking about a farm full of human-lovin’ creatures with their relatives lingering on your breath. Tomato sauce enhances the taste, but it doesn’t cover the smell.

I know my Fellow Aussies will back me up that, yes, we have deadly creatures here, but you very rarely encounter them. Well, they will if they aren’t having too much fun taking the piss out of you.

Anyway… Where the dickens did we start? What was the point of this bloggy post? Oh yeah!

DON’T PULL OUT IN FRONT OF ONCOMING TRAFFIC IN A MANNER THAT COULD RESULT IN COLLISION, YOU IDIOTS!

Thought for the day…

Having said announced this as a ‘thought for the day’, well, I think it would be a good thought to be mindful of everyday! Me in particular. I am extremely good at the ‘retrospective bitterness/anger/regret/shame’. “By-gones!”, as one of the characters in some telly show I can’t think of the name… Ally McBeal… Richard in that show used to say, “By-gones!” and he seemed pretty healthy, although he had a thing for money and the crinkly necks of older women. To each their own!

Anyway, the thought!

“It is a simple but sometimes forgotten truth that the greatest enemy to present joy and high hopes is the cultivation of retrospective bitterness.” — Sir Robert Menzies, 12th Australian PM, 1949-1966.

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See? Told you it was a good one for everyday.

Smithfield Markets and Prince Henry’s Room under threat

I have just received the latest e-newsletter from the Society of Antiquaries of London and am dismayed to read of the losses to our cultural heritage that are being threatened by so-called progress. I am doing a cut and paste job directly from the e-newsletter here and I do hope those of you in the UK can spread the word and get active in your defence of the Smithfield Markets and Prince Henry’s Room.

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Smithfield Markets under threat

“As many Salon readers are surely aware, SAVE Britain’s Heritage thought it had achieved an important victory when consent to demolish the General Market, Fish Market and Red House at London’s Smithfield Market was turned down after a planning inquiry in 2008. Communities Secretary Hazel Blears stated at the time that these buildings made a significant contribution to the character and appearance of Farringdon and the surrounding area. Our Fellow Adam Wilkinson, who led the four-year ‘don’t butcher Smithfield’ campaign for SAVE, looked forward to these characterful buildings playing a central role in a Covent Garden-style revival of Smithfield. Imagine SAVE’s distress then when the new plans that emerged for the site in October 2012 proved to be just as potentially destructive of the existing structures as the rejected plans.

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The new plans involve what Clem Cecil of SAVE calls a ‘scoop-out job’; that is to say, retaining the three facades that line the edges of the site, but demolishing all the buildings behind (shown in red above) to create what the architects describe as ‘low-rise pavilions’ to accommodate new office space.

Architecture critic Oliver Wainwright says the new scheme (see above) ‘will leave only a flimsy skin of heritage, a picturesque skirt of Victoriana around the base of yet another slab of generic commercial development’.

SAVE has put out an appeal to everyone who cares about these buildings and wants to see them preserved to write ‘a strong note of objection to the Corporation of London, addressed to planning officer Gemma Delves, quoting planning application numbers 13/00150/FULEIA, 13/00155/LBC and 13/00156/CAC’.

The main grounds for objection are that the proposal entails the loss of a major landmark building, including its splendid market halls and roofs; will cause substantial harm to the Smithfield conservation area and surrounding conservation areas, as well as to the adjacent Grade II* listed Meat Market and Grade II listed Poultry Market; that important views will be lost, including those from the Holborn Viaduct; that the buildings have never been market tested (as recommended by the Planning Inspector’s Report following the Public Inquiry in 2008) to estbalish that they are needed; that there is an alternative conservation-led scheme for the site backed up by a viable business plan; that there is no convincing justification for demolition (the National Planning Framework paragraph 132 says that ‘Heritage assets are irreplaceable, any harm or loss should require convincing justification); and that the condition of the buildings, which have been deliberately neglected, is not a justification for demolition (‘Where there is evidence of deliberate neglect of or damage to a heritage asset the deteriorated state of the heritage asset should not be taken into account in any decision’: National Planning Framework paragraph 132).

Our Fellow Marcus Binney, President of SAVE, says that in his view ‘this will be the worst mutilation of Victorian buildings in thirty years’. For further information and images, see SAVE’s website and its Facebook page.

Prince Henry’s Room

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Our Fellows Paula Henderson and Claire Gapper write to say that: ‘The small half-timber gateway to Inner Temple at 17 Fleet Street is a remarkable survival of the Great Fire of 1666. The room on the first floor is known as Prince Henry’s Room because of the Prince of Wales feathers and the initials “P H” featured in its exceptionally fine plasterwork ceiling. The building certainly dates to the early years of the seventeenth century. In 1969 the care of Prince Henry’s Room was transferred from the Greater London Council to the Corporation of London, which opened it to the public. An exhibition on Samuel Pepys was installed; Pepys was born not far away and spent many happy hours “drinking and singing” in the room, when it was known as the Fountain Tavern.

‘In December 2012, the Corporation’s Culture Heritage and Libraries Committee declared the room “surplus” and transferred its care to its Property Investment Group, which is actively seeking a tenant. In recent correspondence to us they wrote that the room is no longer available for cultural purposes and that they do not have the financial resources to facilitate visits. Surely whatever rent they could get for this small room could not possibly be as important as the good will that is engendered by making it accessible to those who wish to see an all-too-rare relic of early Stuart life amidst a sea of commercial development.

‘Along with other interested parties (including the Samuel Pepys Club, who paid for the restoration of the room and who have used it for recitals, readings and other events related to seventeenth-century London), we are hoping to convince the Corporation that this room should be made available to interested, scholarly groups at least on an occasional basis. If any Fellows have suggestions or would like to join our campaign, please let us know.’”

The copy in this post is taken directly from the e-newsletter of the Society of Antiquaries of London, Salon (issue 298, 13 May 2013) and has been shared by the author of this blog in the interest of saving the cultural heritage of the UK for the enjoyment and pleasure of future generations of Anglophiles like herself.

Meet Timmy the Dog

I am house sitting and at the house is a pooch named Timmy.

Although I am not a fan of dogs, I have been around enough of them to know that they like to sniff around a lot when they are on their walkies.

However, I think Timmy the Dog is rather extraordinary in this area. He spends a great time leading me around the streets of ……. as he sniffs and licks blades of grass, shrubbery, trees, lamp posts, letter boxes, automobiles, brick walls etc., in the manner one sees in the telly adaptation of the Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes stories in which the brilliant Jeremy Brett as the eponymous detective, gets down on all fours in order to examine in every way some vital clue that only he could detect. Timmy the Dog also likes to have a good chew on suspicious items, including the effluence that has emerged from the hind quarters of his fellow four-legged creatures. He leaves no pile of excrement unexamined in his effort to track down the villain! (I have to say that this particular part of his ‘method’ does challenge my efforts to hold back my breakfast/lunch/dinner.)

I feel very much like Dr Watson to Timmy’s Sherlock Holmes as he roams the streets sniffing out Perth’s most nefarious villains. I stand over him as he conducts his investigation and offer unhelpful suggestions that lead only to pitying looks from the great detective. So I just trot along in Sherlock Timmy’s wake and, as with my fictional counterpart, I carry on in my “humble, but single-minded service”, supporting the great detective as he puts all his deductive powers to solving the case.

Timmy Sherlock

Timmy Sherlock