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Saturday, 25 December 2004
Merry Christmas everyone!


I have just got back from my sister’s house where we had Christmas lunch and spent the afternoon and evening eating, drinking and being merry. Two days ago they moved into this large and comfortable house (above).

My Christmas started out quite eventfully with me and Bluemeanie locked outside the house, at midnight last night, and frantically phoning around for locksmiths.  I was accompanying Bluemeanie to midnight mass and we went out without a house-key between us, pulling the door locked behind us.  Fortunately I had Spenker’s house-key in my car (they are in Cape Town on holiday) so while Bluemeanie was at church I made my way to Spenker’s house and worked my way through all the “emergency locksmith” entries that indicated they were “24 hour” or “24/7”.  After an hour and a half, I found one that deigned to answer and they sent someone around to pick the Yale lock. Phew!  I feel like complaining to the Advertising Standards Authority about the other 20 plus emergency 24 hour locksmiths that didn’t even answer their phone!

Of course, we could have slept at Spenker’s house but Bluemeanie was concerned about the prezzies we would miss opening and I was concerned about the half-prepared Christmas dinner in the kitchen.  I was also concerned that we would need to access our passports and stuff if we are to leave early on Boxing Day (for France and Switzerland).

Well, that’s enough of our “Joseph-and-Mary” moment, although the kindly innkeeper (or rather knight in shining armour, with fold-out burgling kit) who rode to our rescue was from Dyno Locks.

Posted by bigblue on 25/12/2004 at 10:03 PM
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Friday, 24 December 2004
Am I becoming obsessed?


The above car had its front and rear windscreen wipers bent back yesterday in Wheeler Avenue near the corner with Church Lane. I can’t believe that someone would do that . My immediate thought was about Hell having no fury like ... etc.  I took the photo. Then a man drove up and asked me why I was photographing the car. I mentioned that I had stopped to post a letter, and pointed out that the car was damaged and I was merely concerned about that. He told me that his car had been parked in the same spot recently and had the wipers bent, and the body on the side scratched.  My immediate thought was that it might be one of the occupants of a nearby house who felt the car was obstructing his/her access.  But the road is wide, and there is only one house opposite.  Anyway this photo has nothing to do with the title of this posting, nor with the rest of what I am going to say. It just gave me food for thought. (And it wasn’t a nice thought!)

Last night, while considering how it would be possible to further research up my direct maternal ancestral line, I asked myself the question Am I becoming obsessed?  My aunt has done this amazing research of our family tree, but looking up our direct maternal line she can’t get further than 6 jumps up (from me) and beyond an ancestor who lived in Trinidad in the early 1800’s.

Then, this morning, in the car on my way to buy a last minute Christmas present I turned on the radio. It was tuned to BBC Radio 4, and the program that was on was You and Yours (although I didn’t know it then).  The item being discussed was (as the listing says) about Ruth Cook who:

has taken up the challenge of finding out about her great great great grandfather who was born in Jamaica but died in Britain having fought in the Battle of Trafalgar. Philippa Budgen joined Ruth and Sue Gibbons, the librarian at the Society of Genealogist to find out more.

The item is very interesting. Listen to it over the internet for at least the next 7 days here.  (RealPlayer required, program item is under 7 minutes long).  Unfortunately the program didn’t have a “happy ending” for Ruth, but it is very informative.  I had a bit of a strange feeling when Sue Gibbons said that this activity becomes “obsessive”! (That same word again).

Posted by bigblue on 24/12/2004 at 11:53 PM
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Thursday, 23 December 2004
St Mary’s by night, second attempt


Here’s my second attempt at the night show. It’s still not perfect but I won’t bore you with any more in this series!  At least the ghosts have disappeared. (Note to self: When photographing in the cold outdoors take a deep breath, hold it, then press the shutter.)

This morning I got up relatively early and drove to see Lynette in Norwood, where she was visiting a friend.  (Note to self: for the rest of your holidays try to get up earlier.)

On the way back I listened to an interesting discussion about Faust, tracing his history from a malicious magician playing tricks on innkeepers in the 15th Century, through Marlow and Goethe through to Coleridge and Mary Shelley�s Frankenstein.  If you are interested in historical development of literature, and this particular thread of German and English literature, I recommend that you listen to it and note the elasticity of the myth of Faust over time, here. (It will be available there for about a week). 

The program, on BBC Radio 4 is called In Our Time and it�s home page is here.

Here is the program blurb (which may also disappear in the near future):


“Was this the face that launch’d a thousand ships,
And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?
Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss!
Her lips suck forth my soul: see, where it flies!”

So spoke Dr Faustus with unnerving prescience shortly before being dragged off to hell in Christopher Marlowe’s historical tragedy. His Faustian pact with the devil Mephistopheles had granted him 24 years of limitless knowledge and power, but at the cost of his soul. His terrible story was told as a dire warning to anyone who would seek to reach beyond the limits of their human lot.

But who was the real Faust? Why has his story maintained a 400 year grip on the German and British imaginations, and how has his image changed as each generation embraced the myth?


Juliette Wood, Associate Lecturer in the Department of Welsh at the University College of Wales in Cardiff and Secretary of the Folklore Society

Osman Durrani, Professor of German at the University of Kent at Canterbury

Rosemary Ashton, Quain Professor of English Language and Literature at University College London

This afternoon I gave Mob a hand with their house-move. They are moving to a stunning house in Reigate, cough, Reigate, near to Gatton Park which is where bluemeanie and pinkie are going for an Easter music residential next year.


Posted by bigblue on 23/12/2004 at 11:39 PM
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St Mary’s by night, first attempt


This is a night shot from essentially the same view as yesterday’s.  My first attempt to take this shot produced this photo with ghostly spirit forms hovering in the air between me and the church.  It was a creepy feeling looking at the digital camera’s playback screen and seeing these shapes which had not been visible to the naked eye.  It took me, oh, about 5 spine-tingling seconds to realise that this was my breath-vapour, as the air was very cold.  Such is the stuff of legends, eh? In a way it’s a pity I worked it out, although if I hadn’t then I doubt I would have stuck around in the graveyard very much longer to take the shot again ...

Today two things have made my life infinitely sweeter:

Bluemeanie says she finds Lama Gyurme’s track 4, Sacred Words of Liberation a bit creepy.  The enclosure of the CD says about this song that

Lama Gyurme here recites two incantations (the Vajrasattva mantra and the Liberation Sutra mantra) ... dedicated to the purpose (of purifying the spirit of negative imprints brought forward from past suffering).

Both these incidents, with the photo and the Sacred Words of Liberation, demonstrated to me the power of the human mind to see negativity where there is voidness, or blessings.  A bit like how certain people have regarded athiest Phillip Pullman (author of the His Dark Materials books) as a figure of suspicion and controversy.

Posted by bigblue on 23/12/2004 at 12:08 AM
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Wednesday, 22 December 2004
St Mary’s by day


This is another photo of St Mary’s church in Oxted, founded in the year 1086. It is taken from the rear of the church (from the Oxted Burial site).  (The previous one, taken from a different angle, is here).  The church tower (of Norman origin) is not leaning - that is the wide angle of the camera lens used.

Today bluemeanie spent the whole day in bed with her

new laptop

solitaire game/DVD player combo, getting up this evening for supper and to join me in watching Ripley’s Game

Today comes the amazing news that I have Native American ancestry (down the direct maternal line).  My mother’s sister had a DNA test, expecting that my great-great-great-great-grandmother might be of African origin (she lived in Trinidad). Well, instead it turns out she’s

an exact match with two Native American tribes, the Chumas (pronounced Shoemash) and the Miwok. They live on the South West coast of California.

So I have started doing a bit of research into these people.  Here are some links:

This is going to be very interesting .... now where did I put my Sacred Spirit 1 and Sacred Spirit 2 and Sacred Spirit Drums CDs again?

And time to get hold of the book Island of the Blue Dolphins.

Posted by bigblue on 22/12/2004 at 12:48 AM
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Monday, 20 December 2004
London Eye


Last night bluemeanie and I went into London. This is the view from where I parked my car at the BA London Eye. From here we were going to eat at Yo! Sushi at the County Hall, but we found out that they had closed at 8pm so we went to Loco Mensa next door instead.  It was good to have bluemeanie’s company on the hour-long drive up the A23 into London (and back again).

Today she has spent the whole day on her

new laptop

solitaire toy, which also plays DVD videos. Meanwhile my compact flash card arrived today, so I have started playing around with my new camera ...

Posted by bigblue on 20/12/2004 at 05:45 PM
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Sunday, 19 December 2004
Earthsea Travesty

Earthsea Map

Hot on the heels of the news that Phillip Pullman’s Dark Materials are being


slaughtered in the film version, comes the complaint from Ursula le Guin that her books have been whitewashed in the new TV mini-series.

I found this information thanks to articles at Pootergeek, and Barista.

Regarding Pullman’s critique of the institution of the church (in his parallel universes), shouldn’t the church be a bit more humble considering its history?
Regarding the adaptation of Le Guin’s books, isn’t there enough formulaic mind-scrubbing stuff on TV?

Posted by bigblue on 19/12/2004 at 11:44 PM
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Saturday, 18 December 2004

Master Park Oxted

Here’s a zoomed shot of the footballers who had taken the afternoon off school.

The last couple of days have been very quiet. Last night bluemeanie and I had some dinner


family over. It started a bit delayed and/or rushed because bluemeanie decided to go to choir practice, then I was late to fetch her, but she was even later coming out. Today she had to get up early for her Saturday job, so I fetched and carried her and also brought her home for lunch. I spent half the day wandering around the high street for ‘Christmas inspiration’ and the other half the day I devoted to installing bluemeanie’s new Dell Lattitude laptop.  There wasn’t much to do: ensure it connected to the wireless home network and printer, install some anti-virus software, check the firewall was ok, install Firefox and Microsoft Office (student edition).

The Christmas inspiration didn’t come. This has a good component and a bad component. The good side is that I didn’t spend a cent. The bad side is that I still need to buy a bunch of presents.  Now, who was it who wanted the goat?

Posted by bigblue on 18/12/2004 at 11:07 PM
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