Send in the Clowns

“It is useless to describe the astonishing performances of the acrobats and gymnasts. The turning on ladders, poles, balls, barrels, &c., was executed with wonderful precision. But the principal attraction was the exhibition of the Long Noses, a show to which Europe is as yet a stranger. These noses were made of bamboo, and were five, six, and even ten feet long, some straight, others curved, some ribboned, and some having imitation warts upon them. It was upon these appendages, fixed tightly on their real noses, that they performed their gymnastic exercises.”

Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne

Coated and scarfed, we trooped across the common, crunching leaves under foot. The almost-full moon brightened the autumn sky. Circusy-music drifted towards us on the breeze, promising high-wire tension and hilarity.

Some 35 years ago I’m sure I must have run,  towing one of my parents behind me, across the entire dusty field to the circus entrance, a similar pink ticket stub in my small hand. White horses with plumes, the smell of damp straw, animal cages, waistcoated monkeys and hotdogs – the Boswell Wilkie Circus! Continue reading Send in the Clowns

Russia part 3: Karelia: Petrozavodsk, Taiga, Kizhi, Valaam

Petrozavodsk
Onego Lake Embankment, Petrozavodsk

“For this I weep all my days
and throughout my lifetime grieve
that I swam from my own lands
and came from familiar lands
towards these strange doors
to these foreign gates.”

The Kalevala by Elias Lönnrot

The train stopped. The announcer spoke first in Russian then in English. Five minutes, she said. 10:37. I looked out the window. Travellers poured out onto the platform and lit up. Venders met them with trays of smoked fish and wild berries. I watched smokers cough into their berry breakfasts and then rush back onto the train. It jerked back into action, leaving the sleepy hollow of Svir. 10:42. Five minutes exactly. Continue reading Russia part 3: Karelia: Petrozavodsk, Taiga, Kizhi, Valaam

Plodding along

“Tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow, creeps on this petty pace from day to day, to the last syllable of recorded time, and all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death.”

Macbeth by William Shakespeare

London winter sunsets

Oh, Shakespeare! You had me at tomorrow.

You’ve heard me say your first draft has permission to suck.  That’s still true even though our first draft of 2017 has been unexpectedly fractious and gruelling. Call it seasonal affective disorder, call it one problem after another, call it what you like. So far, 2017 is not the post-2016-solve-all that it promised to be (promised as in the promise communicated to me over a glass of Champagne on New Years Eve). Continue reading Plodding along

Lessons from Sport: How to cheer for Fulham

“Few of us have chosen our clubs, they have simply been presented to us; and so as they slip from Second Division to the Third, or sell their best players, or buy players who you know can’t play, or bash the ball the seven hundreth time towards a nine foot centre-forward, we simply curse, go home, worry for a fortnight and then come back to suffer all over again.”

Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby

Craven CottageStill 30 degrees. 7:30pm on 13th September. We squeezed along row F looking for our wooden seats, careful not to knock over a pint. The air was pungent with the smell of sweat and tensions were rising.

Fulham vs Burton Albion.

This is the second football game I have been to in all my 15 years living in the UK. Continue reading Lessons from Sport: How to cheer for Fulham

Life: my week in pictures and film clips

“The whole of life is just like watching a film. Only it’s as though you always get in ten minutes after the big picture has started, and no-one will tell you the plot, so you have to work it out all yourself from the clues.” 

Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett

Pile of manure brought in especially from Buckingham Palace horses for Fulham Palace allotment.

I’m sitting on our terrace doing a bit of work and writing this blog on a sunny Sunday in London.

According to Hubby, this sort of weather is normal for London – that locals dub it “sunny London” (direct quote).

Whether or not you agree with Hubby, I can testify that we have in fact had a lovely warm summer so far and Londoners are well and truly out of hibernation. Continue reading Life: my week in pictures and film clips

New York City, you had me at “Hello”

Statue of Liberty“… Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome...

… “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!””

Emma Lazarus (written in 1883 & later affixed in bronze to the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty) Continue reading New York City, you had me at “Hello”

The Clink: thank you BBC for this hilarious news report

“The Clink, probably the first prison in England, built in the 12th century by the Bishop of Winchester. The prison was notorious for the brutal treatment of its prisoners and received its distinctive name from the clinking sound of the prisoners’ manacles and chains. Standard torture practices included stretching prisoners on the rack, crushing with heavy weights, boiling in oil and forcing prisoners to stand in water until their feet rotted.”

London by Tube: A History of Underground Station Names by David Revill

Pigeon detainedWhat is wrong with the world when corrupt FIFA officials continue in their roles, earning heaps of money quietly laundering money, while in other world news, a pigeon is detained on suspicion of being a spy?

You think I’m joking? I’m not.

I also double checked my diary to make sure it was not in fact the 1st April. This is a true story and you can read it on the BBC.

Continue reading The Clink: thank you BBC for this hilarious news report