Friday, March 31, 2006

If only I had a brain

Over at Larvatus Prodeo a few days ago, Haiku Hogan thoughtfully posted a link to the Australian organ donor scheme signup site thingy.

I tried to sign up some years ago before they really had their act together, and the upshot is that now I can't find out whether I'm actually on their books or not. I tried to ask at a Medicare office once and was told 'the computer won't let me'. (That sad, hopeless and all-too-familiar remark deserves a post all to itself; the last person who said it to me was a very doddery senior staff member at the optometrists', who was trying to explain why I couldn't have the frames I'd just spent fifteen minutes picking out for my prescription sunnies. Don't get me wrong; I too am ruled by what the computer will and will not let me do.)

Anyhoo, after all this time I'm still trying to find out whether, if I got blasted into the life to come by some diamond-decked eastern-suburbs matron in a gas-guzzling pedestrian-smashing environment-destroying SUV the minute I walked out into the street, my heart would be good to go for some other punter without a lot of paperwork and mucking about.

But when I tried to check this out a year or two ago, the organ donor scheme was apparenty still in its adolescence and there was not a single person who seemed able to tell me whether the form I'd filled in and posted off had ever arrived at its destination, much less been properly processed. It says 'Organ Donor' on my driver's licence but I have no idea what legal clout, if any, that might carry when they're debating about turning off the life support. My family know what I want but I don't completely trust them, if push comes to shove, not to get squeamish at the last minute.

There is something Kafkaesque about this situation. There must by now be some simple way I could check, but I'm a bit scared I might end up in The Castle. If not The Trial. If I get turned into a bug, of course, the question of donating my organs becomes academic anyway.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Who listens to the radio?

I don't listen to the radio much, and never to music radio any more. When I think of the hours I spent as a teenager with the transistor glued to my ear, or up full blast while doing maths homework, and once, memorably, waking me out of a sound sleep with the uncanny and at that point wholly unfamiliar opening bars of 'Parsely, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme', it amazes me that these days I can't tolerate listening to any music I didn't choose myself. For a bad pianist, worse guitarist and erstwhile second soprano, this is a bad and inexplicable thing.

On the rare occasions when I do listen to the radio, it's while doing one of three things: ironing, sewing or driving. I need to be doing something with my hands but not doing anything involving language. This means I don't hear much good radio at all, but I hit the jackpot today when in two 20-minute drives, one out and one home, I heard not one but three wonderful things in the car:

-- An interview about (yet more) new researches into the identity of Jack the Ripper, involving a new kind of DNA test which it's intended will be carried out on the letters police believed at the time were sent by the real murderer -- particularly the back of the stamps.

-- Ray Charles and Cleo Laine singing 'Bess, You Is My Woman Now' from Porgy and Bess, which had to be heard to be believed.

-- A story about the worldly and heroic Egon Kisch, the man the Lyons government tried to get rid of in 1934 when he came to Australia to spread the bad news about the rise of fascism in Europe -- anti-fascism at that point being equated with communism, and both regarded as deeply suspicious or worse. Kisch was stopped (momentarily) in Melbourne when the government refused to let him disembark from the ship on which he'd arrived. Undeterred, he jumped onto the wharf and broke his leg in several places, thus very effectively publicising his cause:

"Nonetheless, in Australia, Kisch managed to publicise the danger of fascism to an extent beyond anyone's wildest dreams. To 20,000 people on the Sydney Domain, he announced: "My English is broken, my leg is broken but my heart is not broken when I speak to you, the anti-fascist people of Australia." His tour concluded with a candle-lit procession through Melbourne, led by an Aboriginal band playing The Red Flag on gum leaves."

Read more of this piece here.

What book are you?

I was afraid of this.

You're Ulysses!

by James Joyce

Most people are convinced that you don't make any sense, but compared
to what else you could say, what you're saying now makes tons of sense. What people do
understand about you is your vulgarity, which has convinced people that you are at once
brilliant and repugnant. Meanwhile you are content to wander around aimlessly, taking in
the sights and sounds of the city. What you see is vast, almost limitless, and brings you
additional fame. When no one is looking, you dream of being a Greek folk hero.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Thanks to Georg at Stack for the tip, though.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

From today's Age:

The National Union of Workers said the sacked workers were among those who signed a petition in 2004 asking the company for a union-negotiated enterprise bargaining agreement, which was rejected.

Workers who signed letters resigning from the union on January 10 were not sacked.

Monday, March 27, 2006

A minute's silence ...

... for all Australians on salaries. As an excessively modest one-woman small business, I often envy you-all.

But not today.

The fab things you find on other people's blogs

I have Quirkie to thank for this new Weatherpixie in the sidebar.

Time, temperature, humidity, barometer, wind speed and direction, rain-or-shine and night-or-day graphics as given here are all indicative of conditions at the spiffy new Adelaide Airport, 20 minutes more or less south of my house. What you see is pretty much what I'm getting, including the underfoot cat. (The tortoiseshells, considerately, tend to get underfoot in shifts rather than together.) Even the hair is more or less right.

So she's 25 years younger than me. Pffft.

UPDATE: When the image updates itself, the cat comes and goes. As in life.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

It's All My Fault (Part 4,937)

The redoubtable Adelaide Writer has compiled a list of things in her life that have not lived up to their promise.

As a connoisseur of lists I thought this was a ripper idea until I sat down to think about it. But when things in my life do not live up to their promise, I automatically assume it's my own fault. Examples:

* If I had worked out how to avoid mysteriously irritating another member of the house party every time I opened my mouth, that week in the villa in Tuscany in 1993 would have been what it should have been.

* If I'd chosen more wisely I would have a much less negative attitude to marriage. (The Family Law Act, on the other hand, not only lived up to but surpassed its promise.)

* If I understood my iPod better I could do lots more things with it, more often. (RTFM, RTFM, RTFM.)

* I'm sure the CSIRO diet would work if only I could stay on it.

* Nobody has yet invented a self-weeding herb garden.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Overheard in New York

From a 30-year-old female New York cab driver and her blog:

'As the night wore on, the club business increased. I picked up a guy on 7th Ave and W. 4th St going to the gay leather bar The Eagle on 28th between 10th and 11th (which is, incidentally, just down the block from Scores West). When we started talking, I found out he works for Virgin Airlines and is the guy who listens to your phone calls when you hear the message that says, "This call will be recorded for quality purposes." I am thrilled to know that someone really does listen to our phone calls when we talk to these companies. I did not reveal to him that our conversation was being recorded for blog purposes.'

She's here.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


I've been reading Possession again.

This is the only novel I've ever got to the end of only to turn straight back to the beginning without a break and read the whole thing again. Since then I've read it at least once a year since it was published, which means I must have read it at least seventeen times.

Why did I take it down again at this particular point? It's been a rough old few weeks chez Pavlov, though nowhere near as rough as it has been on my younger sister and my oldest friend, both of whom are still in the deeply painful post-operative stages of a hand reconstruction and a knee replacement respectively. It's early in life, in both cases, for osteoarthritis to have done so much damage -- and I'm next; I can feel it in my, um, well, you know.

So for me it's been a few weeks of trying to provide practical and moral support for people I love who are incapacitated, in acute pain, and in some anxiety about their futures -- while at the same time frantically catching up on work I should have done in either January, February, or the first two weeks of March, weeks that were actually spent doing big-picture work stuff while I got further and further behind with the smaller tasks, and, shamefully, losing track of what I said I would do for whom when, which of course has created brand-new problems.

So in order to be able to ignore all this stuff for at least half an hour a day, the last half-hour before the light goes out, I took down my paperback Possession once more. I don't dare read the hardback copy again, for fear it should fall to bits. The paperback one has old creases where I've folded down corners now on every single one of its yellowing pages, where I've marked my place or a passage I wanted to keep or quote, some time over the last sixteen years.

How do I love this book? Let me count the ways.

I love the way it wears its academic depth and breadth lightly and yet without apology, and incorporates it so effortlessly into character and narrative.

I love the way it treats ideas as real, almost physical entities that exist along a contiunuum with bodies and objects in the physical world.

I love the way it plays with 19th century conventions and character, as well as with 19th century poetic modes, and the way it incorporates understanding of something the wonderful Greg Dening once said (and that link, though it doesn't contain the quotation, is a must-read for anyone working on writing a thesis, essay, article or anything else, really) about history and the writing of historical fiction about eras when the whole cast of mind and structure of belief of human beings was more unimaginably different than we are able to grasp: 'The past is not just us dressed up in funny clothes and speaking funny speak.'

I love its geographical scope, and the passion for landscape and in-placeness with which Byatt infuses every city and landscape about which she writes -- here including Brittany, New Mexico, Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, the London that she seems to love as much and know as well as Virginia Woolf herself -- even a mythological place, the drowned city of Is.

I love the wit and humour of it, which nobody ever seems to have mentioned, but which often resides -- as with someone like, say, Henry James -- within the sentence structure itself. Byatt can laugh at academe while at the same time being passionately tied to its practices and ideals; Maud wrestling with her paper on metaphor is a very funny but also excruciating scene to everyone who's ever tried to do the same. It's also funny in its character drawing, of Leonora Stern (at her worst a parody, at her best a massively impressive character), or of Beatrice Nest, of whom much the same thing could be said, or of Fergus Wolf, who is in a way the opposite to these ladies -- superficially glittery and impressive but without much real substance, either moral or otherwise. Which leads me on to the fact that ...

I love the way the hero is a hero mainly because he is a really nice man, a character with great sweetness of, erm, character. Roland's impulses are persistently and instinctively, unthinkingly kind-hearted. I also love the way he is rewarded for this by his epiphanic discovery that he's a poet. 'He had time to feel the strangeness of before and after; an hour ago there had been no poems, and now they came like rain and were real.'

I love the plot. Mystery, quest, chase, race and romance, brilliantly braided together.

I love Byatt's world view, which is that ideas, people and passions -- pretty much in that order -- are all important and real and infinitely detailed and complex. I love her passion for microscopic detail and the way detail matters, whether it's in the feeling between people in a moment in time, the working-out of an idea for a conference paper, or the way a jet brooch is constructed and what that says about the times in which it was made:

'Roland had never closely approached Maud's brooch, which depicted indeed a little mermaid sitting on a rock, her glossy black shoulders twisted towards the surface, modestly obviating any need to carve her little breasts. Her hair snaked down her back, and her tail snaked down the rock. The whole was enclosed in what he had taken to be twigs and now saw, through the old woman's eyes, to be branching coral.'

And most of all, I love the way she loves reading:

'Now and then there are readings which make the hairs on the neck, the non-existent pelt, stand on end and tremble, when every word burns and shines hard and clear and infinite and exact, like stones of fire, like points of stars in the dark ... Roland read as though the words were living creatures or stones of fire. He saw the tree, the fruit, the fountain, the woman, the grass, the serpent, single and multifarious in form ... and he heard the language moving around, weaving its own patterns, beyond the reach of any single human.'

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Just a thought

In an idle moment just then I switched the telly to channel 7 and caught a swimming final -- men's individual medley. Scotland gold, Scotland silver, Australia bronze.

Now then:

1) Scotland is a cold, rainy country of five and a half million people who live on a national diet of sugar, salt, alcohol and saturated fat -- as you would too, if you were surrounded by a lot of freezing water pounding and crashing over treacherous rocks.

2) Australia, on the other hand ... well, you know.

3) Novelist Kate Grenville has just won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize from a field that included Salman Rushdie, Caryl Phillips, Nick Hornby, Kazuo Ishiguro, Julian Barnes, Hilary Mantel, Zadie Smith, Andre Brink and J.M. Coetzee.

4) Now compare the amount of money the Australian government spends on training, development, promotion and support of sport with the amount of money it spends on training, development, promotion and support of the arts.

Just sayin'.

Yet another irresistible personality test

I found this very detailed and interesting test at Pat the Chooks. Very nice to be told I'm an Attentive Creator, even if I can think of a number of people who would snort at the very thought.

This from a man with two little daughters


It seems Rupert Murdoch is getting all X-rated in his dotage, with reports surfacing that the chair of media giant News Corporation has been “secretly building a stable of wholly-owned pornographic channels for his BSkyB subsidiary”. After years of hosting third-party blue content only, BSkyB now owns and operates its own pornographic channels, says London paper The Business.

Apparently, BSkyB has been covertly expanding its activities in the growing business of pornographic television.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

A little bit country

Aboard a rattly old train of thought set going by a discussion at Larvatus Prodeo of Van Morrison's new album, my thoughts of Emmylou Harris turned to the live concert I saw here in Adelaide a few years ago, where she came onstage in a green shirt and old blue jeans and stood quietly in the corner with her guitar playing a whole set of backup (yep, that's right) for Buddy Miller. She is -- like him -- a musician's musician.

She worked her way through most of the album she was touring to promote, Red Dirt Girl (oh and I so relate to that), interweaving the new songs with old classics. She also gave her support act Kasey Chambers -- then a rapidly rising star, at the post-The Captain but still pre- Not Pretty Enough stage -- lots of space, and came over at one point to sing a very hot duet.

During her set Chambers offered us her version of the definitive country song. It must, she said, have the following four elements, the Rules of Mainstream Country:

1. Country songs have to be about love
2. Someone has to die
3. Country songs have to be sad
4. You have to mention Texas.

She then sang the song she came up with when following these rules -- chorus only, so far.

Don’t look up my dress unless you mean it
Don’t you put your hand upon my thigh,
Before you stick that in you’d better clean it,
I hope I go to Texas when I die.

Monday, March 13, 2006


I just went outside, not even 8 pm yet, to do end-of-the-day back-yard chores and saw how amazingly dark it was already. Full moon rising in a clear sky at about 20 degrees, hanging above the big palm tree across the street. Honey-eaters settling down for the night in a nest deep inside the rampant, feral bougainvillea, making the 'chip chip chip' noise they make when a cat or some other alarming thing is closer than they'd like. Pet orb-weavers with alarming orange-striped legs just emerging slowly from their daytime lairs, feeling their way out along the silver threads left over from last night. You know it's nearly dark when the spiders are out.

It seems only last week that this level of dusk didn't come down till quarter to nine. And I realise my life's music has caught up with me: I can no longer contemplate the shortening of the days without thinking of Bob Seger. Strange how the night moves / with autumn closing in.

Rhetoric 101: Mind your connotations

I can no longer remember why I bought Friday's Advertiser, since it contains neither real estate pages nor TV ditto, but I was having a belated read of it just then and found a story (can't find a link to it) about Senator Jeannie Ferris that unnerved me enough to want to share her message -- see excerpt of article below -- with everyone who's ever thought that their doctor wasn't taking them seriously enough.

And while you're taking this quotation in, see if there's anything in the way it's written that you don't like. Personally I have a biggish bone to pick. The article, headed 'Insidious killer striking women', is by Nadine Williams and appeared on p 59 of the Advertiser, 10/3/06. Now read on ...

'South Australian Senator Jeannie Ferris ... has just finished her chemotherapy after being diagnosed with stage-two ovarian cancer in October last year. .. Senator Ferris, a strong advocate of health issues for older women, said her own alertness and persistence possibly saved her life. ... "This killer cancer has no real symptoms and is absolutely deadly,' Senator Ferris, who admits being bald and wearing a wig, said. Three weeks ago Senator Ferris finished five months of chemotherapy.

.. Her Adelaide doctor put her fatigue down to either glandular fever or chronic fatigue syndrome. "But when I got to Canberra, I reported to casualty at hospital because I felt so terrible ," she said. "When they said there was nothing wrong, I asked for a CAT scan. The doctor said 'They are expensive' and I said 'I am valuable, and I am not leaving here until I have had one.'"

The following day she was in Sydney where surgeons removed a 4 kg tumour -- about the size of a grapefruit.'

Two things. The obvious one: if you are sure there is something wrong, persist, get a second opinion, and remember that the money -- ruinous as health care now is -- is not worth as much as your own life.

And the other one: the word I object to in this report is 'admits'. It's a word with very strong connotations of guilt and shame. The idea of its being applied to anything at all about Senator Ferris's situation is completely bizarre. Hence the lovely moment in the Sex and the City finale when Sam rips her wig off while she's making her speech and half the women in the audience stand up and do likewise. The idea of being bald (in either sex, for any reason) being something you have to be ashamed of is one of the things that contributes utterly unnecessarily to the sum of human misery.

I'm sure Nadine Williams didn't consciously mean to suggest any of this, but her word choice is extremely revealing, as word choice so very often is. It reminds me of the way people used to talk about the 'innocent victims' of AIDS who had contracted it through transfusion or needlestick injury -- implying that all other AIDS victims were by contrast 'guilty', even though they may not have consciously formulated such a belief.

It can't be said too loudly or too often that the only thing Senator Ferris should be feeling at this point is proud -- of her guts and of her persistence. And if the photo accompanying the article is a bewigged and post-chemo one, then the wig really suits her as well.

... and Monday Dogblogging. Sort of. Maybe, erm, not really.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Friday Mogblogging

Why drink your water from a daggy old plastic cat bowl ...

... when you can drink it from a simian's bedside glass?

A pearl of wisdom from the Women's Weekly

'Author Alex Comfort once said the things that stop you from enjoying sex in old age are the same things that stop you from riding a bicycle -- bad health, thinking it's silly, and having no bicycle.'

At Writers' Week

I've spent most of this week at Adelaide Writers' Week, hence no blogging as I am too knackered to do anything of the kind. Because it's quite exhausting, sitting around day after day under the palm trees in perfect weather, sipping a good double-shot macchiato (latte? I speet on eet) or a free glass of Fox Creek Vixen sparkling red (chardonnay? Pah) and catching up with like-minded friends from all over the country while you listen to Minette Walters, Val McDermid, Robert Fisk, Vikram Seth, Robert Drewe, Helen Garner, Delia Falconer and so on and so forth talk about their work and their lives.

Such a bore.

I think my very favourite was crime writer Val McDermid, of Wire in the Blood fame, who has a wonderful caramello sort of alto-chorister's voice in which she pours forth grammatically perfect impromptu sentences in the beautiful accents of Scotland. She's also very funny. At question time one audience member asked her how she had managed to create and keep track of the several different 'detective' type series characters -- Lindsay Gordon, Kate Brannigan, Carol Jordan and Tony Hill -- who run through her fiction. 'I'm schizophrenic,' she replied with a straight face. 'I'm a Gemini with Gemini rising -- there are four of us in here.'

Saturday, March 04, 2006

The Dancing Sky

This top shot gracing the unusually nice front page of this morning's Adelaide Advertiser shows two of the biggest and most breathtaking balloons from last night's opening of the 2006 Adelaide Festival of Arts, when the Italian company Studio Festi put on their spectacular Il Cielo che Danza: the Dancing Sky.

My mates and I were five of the 30,000 people who streamed in from all points of the compass from about five o'clock onwards -- the show didn't begin till nine -- to Adelaide's Elder Park, on the south bank of the Torrens.

The show had been designed for the setting, and combined spectacle (on the scale indicated in this photo) with acrobats, ballerinas, a medley of immediately recognisable classical music, and some amazing lighting effects all along the river and its banks: trees lit with red and purple and a ghostly blue-green; flying ballerinas whose shadows loomed hugely on the flat planes of the Festival Centre roofs; multiple reflections and lights on the water.

A more than slightly surreal narrative, related by a mellifluous female Italian voice with undertones of bemusement at the strange script she was reading out, tied the various different bits of the spectacle together with a sort of bush-ballad-inspired magic realism, while the thousands and thousands of people who had come out on a hot Adelaide night with their folding chairs, Eskies and picnic rugs listened to the bells of nearby St Peters Cathedral ring out over the river.

People settled down thick as locusts all along the southern bank of the river all the way from the Victoria Bridge to the back of the Conference Centre as the sun set downstream, dusk fell and the white paper lanterns were lit. There were people hanging off the various balconies and lining all the steps leading down from the Festival Centre and the 19th-century rotunda that dominates Elder Park would have had people swinging from the rafters if it had rafters, which I'm fairly sure it doesn't.

The show itself was beautiful if a bit unfocused, with the giant balloons literally breathtaking and some of the flying acrobats and dancers whizzing through the air like giant luminous creatures of the night sky. Acrobats rode bikes through thin air and a ballerina pirouetted fetchingly on a white piano suspended over the river -- complete with airborne pianist on stool -- before leaping up from it and flying away.

And while all this was going on, the business of the city went on as usual, lit by its own usual lights. Planes flew in, one by one, descending into the west towards the airport. Trains pulled out and arrived at the station. Cars crossed bridges and drove up hills in the distance, and street lights and park lamps were reflected in the water of the river as they always are. In the tall Hyatt on nearby North Terrace, lights came on and went off in rooms as people arrived or departed or settled down in their high rooms to sleep. Across the river and through the trees, a gigantic golden fingernail moon was blending in with the glowing spheres that floated above the water.

When you're in your own city, experiences and memories of any particular place are pasted on in transparent layers. My memories of Elder Park include rolling sideways down its grassy slopes as a small child; snogging with my first-ever boyfriend in the shade one Saturday afternoon; sitting on a balcony with a gin and tonic and listening to Boz Scaggs rehearse over at Memorial Drive one hot dusk in 1978; and walking along the river's edge a few years ago with a visiting Melbourne friend as we watched her daughter and her nephew -- both fourteen, blonde and gorgeous -- clowning in a blue paddle-boat in the middle of the river, watched by a couple of rather disapproving and stitched-up-looking swans.

And now today there's a new layer of bright images, settling into place.

Beneath that buffed exterior beats a heart of pure ear-wax

Highlights from a 'Behind the scenes at the Academy Awards' type feature in the SMH today, leading with the lovely Madonna:

'We saw Madonna perform at the ceremony in 1997. But we didn't see the Material Girl arriving at a rehearsal to find a female camera operator seriously injured after falling into the orchestra pit. Told her stage time was delayed, Madonna looked puzzled. "But she's just lying there," she said. "Can't we do this?"'

Other vignettes:

'Every year, we admire the stars on the red carpet, glamorously attired and bantering cheerfully with interviewers. What we did not see in 2001 was crew members flipping a coin to see who was stuck with escorting three of the most demanding stars: Barbra Streisand, Jennifer Lopez and Kevin Spacey.'

... and ...

'In 2000, there was a medley of past Oscar-nominated songs performed by Ray Charles, Isaac Hayes, Dionne Warwick and other notables. At the rehearsal two days earlier, a disoriented Whitney Houston stumbled, fumbled and even started to sing the wrong song, causing a frustrated Burt Bacharach to slump over his piano, head on the keys.'

And what's more,

'... in case you're wondering, The Big Show also reveals the one question that women regularly ask Oscars staff on the way to the stage. It's not "Is Brad Pitt here?" or even "Do I deserve all this acclaim and wealth for acting in a movie?" It is "Are my nipples even?"'

Full story, with book details, here.

Madonna checks to see if her nipples are straight

Thursday, March 02, 2006

'Fat Tuesday' -- not.

Here's a lovely if sobering piece from today's Age by Michael Gawenda, its former editor, on this year's Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

You never know what's going to restore your faith in human nature

[Image from here.]

Groaning at my own idiocy in putting my hand up to review two different productions of the same play within four days for the Adelaide Fringe, I trudged off tonight to the seemingly bizarre venue, the SA Railway Museum, having been newly informed that no cast member of this production was over 17. What's more, the play was Goldoni's The Servant of Two Masters, a 19thC Italian tidying-up and formalisation of the commedia dell'arte characters and conventions into a more or less stable script.

Picture my surprise at what turned out to be a completely charming evening in a gigantic, airy, barn-like and amazingly atmospheric museum space full of elderly and superannuated engines and carriages from the bygone railway era, with lots of information and relics and signs and displays and interpretive stuff, and in a small clear space in the middle of all this, a homely and basic stage setup in which, for a couple of hours, a small bunch of teenagers leapt around in stylised Renaissance Italian buffoonery mode, delivering a script enlived a la (or do I mean 'aux'?) Gilbert and Sullivan with local, topical and contemporary references and phrases.

They were all funny and charming, even the ones with no talent, and they were having the time of their lives. The best of them was a brilliant young natural comic with a flailing chicken-legged adolescent body, nondescript flat brown hair and an endearing rubber face. Unlike the rather slow and laboured production of this play that I saw on Saturday, this one had a director with the good sense to cast the best natural comic as the central clown character.

I'm not sure why this weird evening has cheered me up so much. It was partly the sight of a bunch of the very young having the talent and focus to put on something this demanding and do it with so much life and energy; partly the totally unexpected interestingness of the trains, which are big spooky haunting creatures; partly the huge gap between the excruciating evening I was expecting and the barrel of laughs I ended up having; and partly that channel 10 was running late as usual, which meant I got home in time to see the always-crucial opening five minutes of House.

And now I've got a cat smooching up to me and a glass of local pinot grigio with condensation running down the sides. Life's good.