Posted on April 13, 2008 in Life, the Universe and Everything by Jay6 Comments »

DogAndBooksNo, nothing to do with transport, though it could perhaps be the title of a horror story, huh?

I found this writing challenge through a link on Midlife Musing‘s blog. The suggestion is ‘pick up the nearest book and turn to page 123′. At the time I was sitting in my lounge, and I looked around. Not having a book on the coffee table next to me, the nearest book was any one of about a thousand in the bookcase pictured here, so I walked over and picked up the nearest one at random. Next, I’m asked to take the first and last sentences on that page and connect them together. OK, here goes:

‘Quilan wondered about their ship names.’ The one that really caught his eye in the enormous space dinghy supermarket was a little black number called ‘The colour of Space’ which he thought was quietly amusing. ‘So many of their ship names were like that, even if more were just jokey.’

Sadly the page is rather short, being a chapter beginning with an arty-farty spacing-and-line design taking it towards the bottom but it did at least give me an opportunity to name a ship and give me a small private chuckle in memory of a certain ‘Red Dwarf‘ episode.

But wait! Maybe I was supposed to write something longer? Responses on the original website offering the challenge varied between synopses of the page in the book to one-liners like mine, but included some interesting creative efforts several paragraphs long. So let’s try that.

‘Quilan wondered about their ship names.’

She was always a little apprehensive about her first visit to a new culture, and this assignment had been making the hairs stand up on the back of her neck since she’d left Outpost 435 with the instructions ‘See what you can do for them, and try not to get killed’.

It was always hard to understand the motivation of a people who’d suddenly taken off from their homeworld for no good reason that anyone could see and refused to communicate for the best part of three decades, but she found it particularly disturbing that they’d broken silence only to request the presence of a single white female under thirty years old, demanded that the ambassador must be a virgin and must travel alone, and then refused to explain or elaborate.

And so here she was, coming into dock and doing her best to delay the moment when she’d have to leave the safety of her ship and discover exactly what it was they wanted, with the knowledge that the whole future of interplanetary relations rested on her shoulders. No-one had any idea what these lunatics might want, but they’d been odd people to start with, and now they’d had nearly thirty years to continue developing their idiosyncratic weaponry, no-one wanted to upset them. She’d have to be insane not to be nervous.

She cruised past the lines of tethered vessels trying to get a clue to their thinking. You could learn a lot about a culture from the way they named things, and she thought perhaps she was beginning to get a handle on them.

Craning her neck to read the Unisperanto markings on the battered grey hulk nearest to her she could make out the words ‘Benchmark of Fidelity’. She couldn’t read the next one, but the newer transport below it read ‘The End Justifies’. At the end of the first rod of the dock she’d read perhaps fifty names with various themes from the didactic to the incomprehensible. Many of them were amusing – she remembered ‘I May Be Gone Some Time’ and a small dark vessel simply called ‘The White Giant’. But some of the names which seemed merely a little odd nagged at her mind until she solved the riddle and unearthed the sinister message hidden in the words. She shivered. ‘So many of their ship names were like that, even if more were just jokey.’

Wow, that was fun! It’s been a while since I did any kind of writing exercise just for the sake of it! If you’re into creative writing, go try it – and don’t forget to post your results on Booking Through Thursday!

I’ve had a quick browse through the site and it seems to be an interesting place to go if you enjoy books, and though I was disappointed not to find more pieces about writing, I think I’ll probably pop in again.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the book I happened to pick up was ‘Look to Windward’ by Iain M Banks.

Posted on April 10, 2008 in Food and Drink, The Home Front by Jay1 Comment »

Other Half had to drive me and The Princess to her therapy work today because our second son has taken my dogmobile off on a jaunt somewhere, it being the cheapest one to insure for him on a temporary basis. And so it was that while she and I were graciously allowing the clientèle of the local Sense educational daycare centre to pet her, he popped over to the shops to pass the time and pick up a few things he needed.

Imagine my surprise when he wouldn’t let me touch his precious shopping bags until we got home. Imagine my further surprise when he presented me with an impromptu gift, which he’d found and decided that I should have. Here it is -


Isn’t that something? Now it will be no surprise to those who know my OH that it is a mug, because he has a little bit of a mug fetish, but the sentiment is rather touching, don’t you think?

And this only a day after I so nearly lost one of the diamond studs he gave me when it popped out of my ear while I was washing my hair in the shower. If you can manage any more mental gymnastics today, imagine me, blind as a bat without my specs, grovelling about in a shower tray full of soapy water, while trying to keep one foot over the plughole and the conditioner out of my eyes.

It’s a pumped unit, too, so my terror was not purely on account of the diamond taking off on a trip to the sewers, but it probably wouldn’t have done the pump much good either.

But you know, if the worst had happened and I had not only lost the diamond but wrecked the shower into the bargain, he’d probably only have shaken his head sadly and said ‘Oh, sweetheart!

He’s good like that. He brought me a jar of chocolate caramel coffee to go with the mug, too!

Now do you see why I’ve kept him for thirty odd years?

Posted on April 9, 2008 in Life, the Universe and Everything by Jay8 Comments »

StGeorgeSunset300CJSSo, it seems we’ve been sneakily abolished. I’ve been noticing for some time that I don’t get the option to list England as my country of origin on many official forms both online and off, but it seems that our government and Europe between them have contrived to make England a Non Country. We are now to be known as ‘The Regions’.

I don’t know about you, but I most strongly object to this. I’m going to start flying the flag – no NOT the Union Jack, that is the UK flag. I’m going to fly the English flag, the Cross of St George. Bit difficult actually, because it’s Not Politically Correct to do so. People think you’re a racist, a bigot, extremely right wing, a football supporter, or possibly all of the above. I happen to be none of them, but would just like to be allowed to be English in peace.

I may join the Witanagemot blog roll. Why? Because Scotland has a parliament. Wales has a parliament. Northern Ireland has one. England? Nope, we do not – and there are no plans for one. And the cabinet of our government is largely composed of Scots!! Of course they aren’t interested in giving us one. We might object to the billions of quid we give to Scotland each year so that they can have free prescriptions, free university tuition, free care for the elderley, access to many NHS drugs that doctors are not allowed to prescribe in England, and .. oh, various other stuff unavailable here in the motherland. Free eye tests coming soon, I’m told. That’s the Scots, not us.

Anyway. I’m not really political, nor do I feel any great tendency to become politically active any time soon. But if you feel as aggrieved about all this as I do, pop along to the Campaign for an English Parliament site and take a look-see. Oh, and while you’re there, don’t forget to take the England Quiz.

Posted on April 9, 2008 in Life, the Universe and Everything by Jay2 Comments »

I found a link to this quiz on Rosie’s Wuddled Murds blog. I thought I’d give it a go and did quite well, but I feel cheated because some of the colours we English use, like claret, wine, burgundy, champagne and (abandoning the alcoholic for a moment) ochre, don’t seem to be accepted while some rather bizarre colour names like Navajo white and Mountbatten pink – and zinnwaldite and cosmic latte, whatever the hell they are – were quite outside my personal experience. Oh, and while my list of ‘wine’ names didn’t work, sangria is in there. *Pout*

Anyway it was fun and whiled away another five minutes of my life. Click on the box to try it for yourself!