seven weeks ago it was too hot to think. now it’s just about time to crank the heating back on. not yet though. i’m still holding out and jumpering up.

dinner parties

amusing me no end at the moment is the rsvp seating game. though i’ve just finished it, on the nth attempt, where n is rather high, so it probably won’t amuse me much longer.

[found via meish]

Extra Virgin by Annie Hawes

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Perhaps this book is a little generic but since it’s in a genre I’ve never read I enjoyed it. It’s an account of the author’s first year in the Italian province of Liguria. She goes out there from England with her sister in order to work for a while and ends up buying a tumbledown cottage in a hillside olive grove and staying where no decent Italian would dream of living at the time. The book’s honest about the fact that it’s not all happening in one year; mostly it’s the first year they are there but events and visits from different years are brought in to liven up the story and trips back to England to stock up on cash are elided too, but that’s not a problem. The extra dimension of the passage of time means that you get to see how rural Italy has changed over the past twenty years or so as well as getting a good story.

I thought it was charming and fun, but not the kind of thing I’d want to read all the time though.

More information about this book can be found on goodreads.

memo to self

i’ll turn a gigasecond old on monday, december 15, 2003 at 1208. that’s 10^9 seconds old.

just reposting to remind myself about it so i do something pre-christmassy about it and don’t just forget about it and remember afterwards (that’s still the most likely scenario i expect).

also i discovered that jill is six months older than me and now i’m looking forward to being 2^5 years old too.

Dead Man’s Music by Gillian Linscott

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Perhaps because I’m running out of books in this setries to read or perhaps just because, I really enjoyed this episode in the Nell Bray series.

Things contributing to enjoyment: characters I’ve met before – Rose in an earlier book in the series and Bill Musgrave (I’m pretty certain) in a later book in the series; characters I’ve not met before but heard about before – Nell’s brother Stuart and his family and a place Nell spent her childhood; good mystery plot featuring someone about to be hanged for murder who Nell is trying to prove innocent but isn’t entirely convinced of his innocence herself so it never seems like a crusade; interesting setting in both country house type sense and Lancashire mill town type sense. Nothing that I can put my finger on that I disliked. Generally just a good read with a good resolution and a lot of interesting things going on.

More information about this book can be found on goodreads.

Grasshopper by Barbara Vine

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This seemed a much lengthier read than the actual 400 and something page count would have me believe. It might be that picking it up and putting it down for about three months isn’t the best way to read it but it did seem to drag. Altogether too much foreshadowing of the ‘if only I’d known then what I know now’ type which rather than heightening the suspense leads you to not be surprised by many of the events in the book.

I’m making it sound like I hated it which I didn’t. It was a much more interesting, more unputdownable, book in the last hundred pages than it was in the lead up and I enjoyed seeing all the various threads intertwine and play out. Just too much set up for not enough pay off in the end though.

The main spinal theme of the books is scaling heights but the recurring theme of relationships, especially those between parents and children, is more absorbing on the whole. The thing about heights gets your attention but I felt it diverted me from the real matter of the story. Clodagh Brown is the narrator telling the story about eleven years after the events happen when she was 19, mainly when her and her friends lived in Maida Vale and took to gallavanting around the local rooftops. I think it’s the looking back narration style that really annoyed me; since she’s looking back she can hide things from the reader but it didn’t feel artfully enough done. I don’t mind being able to guess the ending but there seemed to be too little that I couldn’t guess at here.

I love many of Barbara Vine’s books but other are just ‘eh?’ for me. This was one of the second type.

More information about this book can be found on goodreads.
Purchased on 15th April 2003.

The Lover of the Grave by Andrew Taylor

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By far my favourite of the Lydmouth series so far and I thought the first two were quite good. Taylor’s definitely turning into one of my favourite writers and I’m really looking forward to exploring both his earlier and later works.

I wasn’t too convinced by the developments on the very last page of this book but I’m interested to see what happens next in the ongoing storyline. An excellent plot all round really: a teacher is found hanged near his brother’s farm. Everything making sense at the end without being predictable. I like the fact that Taylor is writing stories that only make sense in the 1950s setting, he’s not just transplanting any old plot to his chosen timeframe but making people act in ways that they wouldn’t consider in a more modern setting.

More information about this book can be found on goodreads.
Purchased on 7th August 2003.


Masculine Keywords Feminine Keywords
[the] 61 x +17 = 1037 [with] 9 x -14 = -126
[a] or [an] 28 x +6 = 168 [‘s] or [s’] 7 x -5 = -35
[some] 3 x +6 = 18 [possessive pronoun] 19 x -3 = -57
[number] 99 x +5 = 495 [for] 11 x -4 = -44
[it] 31 x +2 = 62 [not] or [n’t] 24 x -4 = -96

based on the content of this page, before i posted this entry, gender genie thinks i’m male. (i’m not.) the ton of numbers in the cataloging books post skew things, but i say ‘the’ and ‘a’ a lot more than ‘with’ or ‘for’ all the same.

i’m trying random other samples of things i’ve written but i haven’t found anything it recognises as female at all yet.

update: ok, i tried a couple of rambling email messages i’d written and it identified them as female. i also tried two messages written by my mum, two messages written by my dad and two messages written by my boyfriend. we’re all female apparently. which makes for an interesting family life.

the original article in nature says:

These differing styles have previously been called ‘informational’ and ‘involved’, respectively.

it seems to me that they were better left labelled so. it’s not really surprising that personal emails are ‘involved’ and website content is ‘informational’.

[found via the keyboard biologist]


about four years ago i had my wisdom teeth removed as they were generally buggering up my mouth and being rather hurty indeed. they’d done something to bugger up another of my back teeth and my dentist gave that tooth a temporary filling with a view to removing it at the same time as my wisdom teeth. when i went to see the dental surgeon who removed my wisdom teeth he didn’t think that other tooth needed removing so it got left in.

everything was fine for quite a while.

ages ago the ‘temporary filling’ came out, fair enough considering it’s name. and with being rather transient until the last few months i’ve never got around to going back to the dentist to get it fixed.

two days ago i found myself in the vicinity of a local dental practice and went in to register and make an appointment.

today i find fragments of my tooth swilling about my mouth with my tea.

did the dental receptionist put a curse on me or what?