We’re determined to make the most of Summer this year. We didn’t get many days out last Summer, and this year we’ve been extremely lucky with the weather. So it was off to Bateman’s yesterday — Kipling’s last home.
There’s something sad about the house. And positively non-Euclidean — it’s somehow much smaller on the inside than the outside. But still, a good day out, and Uncle B found a much quicker route to get there, so we’ll probably go more often. Have to squeeze every entertainment penny out of the effing expensive National Trust membership.
They cleverly left copies of his books about, with “available to purchase in the gift shop” written inside the covers. So I tucked into Puck of Pook’s Hill while Uncle B wandered about on his own. I think that’s my favorite Kipling, but the man was hella prolific, and I got to wondering how many of his I haven’t read.
That’s when I discovered Delphi Classics. They’re an eBook publisher that specializes in “Complete Works of…” editions of out-of-copyright classic authors. Nicely formatted for a couple of bucks. Buy them through Amazon or right from the publisher.
I don’t know about you, but I’m crazy about owning an author’s complete works. Even in the days when that meant that nice mister Dickens took up five feet of shelf space. There’s something deeply satisfactory about having them all together in one clean set, not a hodge-podge of mongrel editions with half a dozen books left out. I have a feeling I’ll be visiting Delphi again.
They all come as one big Kindle file, but they have a table of contents, so that’s okay. I’m going chronologically by publication date, starting with the novels. I read The Light that Failed all afternoon, and I’m still at 1% of the collected works. See you in the Fall.
Oh, yeah — Dead Pool tomorrow! 6pm WBT! I’m going to set it up right now, so I *can’t* forget this time.
July 31, 2014 — 10:20 pm
And there goes Eastbourne Pier (photo nicked from the Mail).
It was one of three East Sussex Victorian pleasure piers designed by Eugenius Birch (1818-1884). The first was Brighton’s West Pier, completed in 1866. Burned down in two separate arson attacks in March and May, 2003.
The third was Hastings Pier, finished in 1872. Burned in 2010. Two were arrested for arson, but they never brought them up on charges.
Eastbourne Pier was finished the same year as West Pier. Bits of it have burned before, but this looks really, really devastating. There’s a big airshow in Eastbourne every August, and the pier is a favorite place to stand and watch the aereoplanes.
Nobody’s mentioned arson this time, but you can’t help but wonder. At any rate, it’s been awful seeing these three grand Victorian dames go up in flames.
July 30, 2014 — 9:29 pm
The Summer fête season is in full swing now. I met this beautiful girl (probably. I was told it takes a DNA test to know gender for sure and they haven’t bothered) advertising a little father/son parrot rescue. He’s got a hand gesture to make her stand up and extend her wings, so I was able to take lots of good pictures. (Here this one is big and in color).
They said the main reason they have to rescue birds is that they outlive their owners. One of their parrots died last month at the age of eighty. Not sure how I’d feel about a pet that was likely to outlive me. I suppose it would be a good thing, provided they didn’t have to power to have me put down when I got feeble.
Took this before I dropped and broke my good old Nikon D40, obviously. Still pondering what to do about that.
July 29, 2014 — 9:28 pm
This one missed us, somehow. It was a beautiful sunny day here. Uncle B called to tell me cars were floating sideways along Brighton Marine Parade.
I called up the Met Office Satellite page and here was a big, fat band of severe storms from the Brighton seafront all the way to the outskirts of London. That isn’t at all far West of us.
Funny thing — the time lapse satellite animation showed that thing just sitting there for hours, moving neither to the East nor West. It ultimately just melted away (though we’re having a bit of gentle rain now).
I think they said three weeks rain in a few hours. At one point, the water in the Underground was chest deep. Places in Brighton, hail fell like snow.
Also, not entirely unrelated, I thought this was an interesting article from the BBC: what happens when lightning hits the sea.
July 28, 2014 — 8:51 pm
I am so sorry to have blown the Dead Pool this week. We played hooky and snuck off to the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch, which is a little line of 1/3 scale steam and diesel trains that runs along the coast.
It is a fine thing to do on a hot day, sitting in the open carriage watching the pretty English landscape roll by. We saw ducks and swans and several fine, fat pheasants. Some of the crops — the rapeseed — have been harvested already. Some — the hay — just coming in now. And the wheat and corn are yet to come. They were looking good.
We had an amusing conversation about National Trust properties with a drunken gay couple in the carriage behind us. A station master came by at St Mary’s Bay and quickly searched the carriages to “see if we had any owls.” Nope, no idea.
The English are prone to embarrassment and carefully avoid it in most social situations, but in certain narrow contexts, they give themselves a sort of permission to be foolish. I think this is why they like pantomime and dressing in costume so much.
They also give themselves leave to wave to, and from, trains. Especially heritage trains. The RH&DR runs past scores of back yards and in many of them, children stood and solemnly waved to us like visiting dignitaries. Cars at the RR crossings, too. You wave back. You haveta.
Afterwards, we stopped and bought some of the best fish and chips in the neighborhood. And long about then it dawned on me, Holy shit — I’m in England!
July 25, 2014 — 11:47 pm
Since I didn’t tease it yesterday or anything, probably the best thing to do is push it off until next Friday. I’ll queue it up over the weekend so I can’t forget again.
To make it up to you, I’ll post pictures of the choo-choo later,
if any of them came out okay.
— 7:51 pm
So I got asked to do a flyer for the church fête in a real hurry today, and I thought, “I know — singing ewes!”
The hell was I thinking, right? Because I guess we’re going to sing songs or something. Still, I got this far before realizing that…just. No.
I went with a picture of the church. But please enjoy these two ‘tardalated ewes so my time won’t have been completely in vain.
July 24, 2014 — 10:23 pm
Here’s an interesting article from the BBC: local groups searching churches to catalogue Medieval graffiti. (I would also direct you to the Suffolk group and the Norfolk group for many more pictures).
Basically, it’s a bunch of amateurs (with professional guidance) fanning out across England to document and record ancient church graffiti. The project started in Norfolk in 2010.
2010. Seriously. That fascinating stuff has been hanging around for, like, a thousand years and nobody has formally cataloged and examined it. It blows my mind.
I can’t tell you how strange and common that is here — this weird lack of curiosity about local history — but I can kind of tell you why.
For hundreds of years, serious historians concentrated on Roman Britain. Those generations of academics who believed Greek and Roman culture were the high point of civilization — and that was, let’s face it, most of the modern era — were inclined to be embarrassed by what they saw as the primitive customs of the locals before the edifying arrival of Caesar’s boys.
To these people, the Medieval era was just a sinking back into provincial ignorance — do they still call it the Dark Ages? — the long snooze of Western Civ, waiting to be rescued by Italian culture again (i.e. the Renaissance).
Modern academics are much more inclined to revere primitive cultures. But the peoples who love pagan-y things tend to be Lefties. And Lefties believe showing the slightest interest in English things is raaaaacisssssst.
So there you have it. There are all these amazing places and objects and boxes of bones squirrelled away all over the country, unexamined. Every once in a while an academic turns something over with his toe and goes, “huh.”
Makes me crazy.
July 23, 2014 — 10:40 pm
I try to keep my secret identity as lovable, wisecracking internet weasel and my j.o.b. as far apart as possible, for obvious reasons. But I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to reveal that my new employer is a historical/archeological society — because there are so many in this area that hardly narrows it down at all.
In many ways, it’s my dream job — a little light clerical work, some audio-visual stuff, photographing and cataloguing the collection when I have time. I mean, holy shit. Perfect.
On the other hand, like all organizations of this kind, most of the work is done by volunteers. So I’m working next to people who are doing it for free, which makes me feel a bit of a ratbag. Except, I end up volunteering, too. I reckon I do at least two free hours for every paid hour.
Still and all, it’s going really well. I love it. And the important thing is, I have a bunch of keys, a desk, an alarm to wake up to and a boss to push me around again. Heaven!
July 22, 2014 — 9:27 pm
Everybody has a story about Friday’s storm, but I still haven’t seen any official suggestion it was anything but a typical Summer thunderboomer. You can see the leading edge of it again in the photo above (credit to this guy). Tenterden (where that picture was taken) had anecdotal reports of a funnel cloud, but that’s not official either.
It’s amazing the stuff that can happen without much official notice — before, during or after. Occasionally, the sea sneaks in and steals a village here. They are placid people.
Anyway, this is now officially my favorite weather event EVAR. And I just love weather.
And, yes — with the death of James Garner, the Dead Pool is officially won (step forward, Platypuss!). That means…Dead Pool 67! Friday! 6WBT!
July 21, 2014 — 11:01 pm