Self-inflicted, of course; I started easy with wall-mounting a half-Billy on Saturday, but on Sunday morning, our friend Samantha rang to tell us that the ex-pub-redevelopment fenceposts she'd mentioned to us were ready to deliver, and when could John bring them round? Over a dozen 4x4 posts, then, wheelbarrowed from John's van to the yard and, so the yard didn't end up littered with unchopped wood once again, cut into woodburner-sized chunks. 

I started with the table saw, which doesn't quite cut deep enough to go through the posts cut from all four sides, so finally broken apart using our woodsplitter. After a few posts, I thought bugger this, and switched to using the power saw, with the posts in the log clamp. Split into five, and (two blades later) all done, without having to squat on the ground, but with added vibration. Those posts aren't exactly tropical hardwood, but they're hard enough. In retrospect, the chainsaw might have been easier. Oh, and I emptied half the logstore, so I could put this stuff at the bottom. And chopped a good few of the overlong real logs while I had the tools out. Thankfully, all done before the weather got really hot later in the afternoon.

Then, in the evening, I went to the Hull Record Label Day gig at the Adelphi. And danced. Danced to Streaming Lights, then to HotMIM, and to Mammal Hum at the end of the evening. Between times, I may even have jiggled about a bit to the single Holy Order who did an emergency stand in for absent Tennents with a borrowed guitar, and to the Glass Delusion. It was a good night.

Today, I can feel it all in my bones and muscles.
This entry was originally posted at


 There's a word I'm looking for; the best I can describe its meaning is as the cake that underlies the icing of sex. Icing on its own is lovely, but it's transformed by a good grounding (especially if chocolate is involved), and cake without icing is just fine too. That, cake-not-necessarily-with-icing, is what I'm trying to name.

Intimacy is a word, but it's harsh, hard; for all its literal meaning, it feels like it separates, not joins. Roget offers me nothing, and descriptives like "cuddling" or "snuggling" are both too specific and too superficial, and implicitly hijacked as mealy-mouthed euphemisms for shagging. Love is, I think, a necessary prerequisite, but as a word covers a vastly wider area. "Physical love?" We're back to shagging again :)

"Sharing touch" is maybe the best I've come up with, but a mite awkward; a
m I missing something obvious here, or is this a genuine lexical gap?
This entry was originally posted at

Sheffield Steel

I've got this bloody DW; might as well use it, I guess.

Back home after what should have been a fine weekend in Sheffield, a city I've always had a fondness for - like Hull, it's always somehow felt welcoming, like home, to me. Not visited for years; decades in fact, but it's still there :)

Should have been fine? It was, would have been, if some smegma-encrusted prime shit hadn't lifted [personal profile] ramtops's phone in Henry's at lunchtime on Saturday. Still, we had what were very fine slabs of dead cow in 23 Bar on Friday night. On Saturday morning, a pleasant wander in beautiful early spring sun witnessing Sheffield's Morris infestation, and in a somewhat subdued way in the afternoon too, before heading down to the Old House to meet up with Tim (who we hadn't seem for years) and Ali (who we'd never met at all) Biller before the night's Richard Thompson gig at City Hall. The man confirmed, as if it were needed, that he's one of the greatest guitarists this country has ever spawned, along with a splendidly tight rhythm section featuring Michael Jerome Moore, one of the finest drummers I've ever seen. A truly excellent night.

Today, we wandered down to [personal profile] frandowdsofa' gaff to meet the Pillowcase Gang in all their needle-sharp horror, along with [personal profile] dougs and Julia, and Carrie and Jim. A good few hours eating food and talking high class bollocks, before strolling back the station, train, and Hull.

[ edited to restore the whole middle paragraph that DW in their wisdom vaped on posting ]


This entry was originally posted at

On equal marriage

There are radical arguments against marriage equality, chiefly that legitimising some gay relationships allows some (nice, presentable) gay folks their place in a leafy suburban semi, removing what solidarity they might otherwise have offered to their less cis, more stridently, terrifyingly genderqueer, more polyamorous fellow humans. It's an argument I have sympathy with. Reactionary arguments are another matter. These seem to fall into two main (and overlapping categories):

1. It's *wrong*, because God says it's wrong. End of. It's extraordinary how flexible and pragmatic God would have to be if He existed, to decree Laws that match the prejudices of His followers so well. Declaring a New Covenant was a master stroke, allowing pick'n'mix from the Old while, of course, the actual provisions of the New can be quietly ignored as the naïve, leftist claptrap they are. Marriage-is-for-reproduction comes up too, of course, but hardly worthy of serious attention given child-free het marriages on one side, and surrogacy, adoption and (coming soon to a future near here) actual, if technologically aided, conception for Lesbian couples.

2. More worrying is the slippery slope argument: if chaps can marry chaps, what's to prevent them marrying their horses, eh? The obvious and essentially irrefutable argument that horses, like children or chameleons, can't give informed consent doesn't seem to have any impact. The only conclusion I can come to is that people making this argument don't believe in equal partnership and consent in cis/het marriages either: if a man can take a woman as his chattel with no right of appeal from her, I guess there's nothing but a non-existent God between a man and the sheep he would wed. May they be very happy together.

This entry was originally posted at

Films watched, 2011

We actually managed to drag ourselves out to the cinema three times!

  1. Fargo - DVD
  2. Con Air - DVD
  3. The Rock - DVD
  4. Grosse Pointe Blank - DVD
  5. The Snowman - DVD
  6. Postcards From The Edge - DVD
  7. Tomorrow Never Dies - TV
  8. The Road - Rental
  9. Iron Man - TV
  10. The Taking of Pelham 123 - Rental
  11. The Hurt Locker - Rental
  12. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo - Rental
  13. The Wrestler - Rental
  14. Up In The Air - Rental
  15. Raising Arizona - TV
  16. The Men Who Stare At Goats - Rental
  17. It's Complicated - Rental
  18. Crazy Heart - Rental
  19. The King's Speech - DVD
  20. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - Cinema
  21. X-Men: First Class - Cinema
  22. The Blind Side - Rental
  23. Page Eight - TV
  24. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - Cinema
  25. State of Play - Rental
  26. Duplicity - Rental
  27. Catch Me If You Can - Rental
  28. Toy Story - Rental
  29. Ratatouille - Rental
  30. Morris: A Life With Bells On - Rental
  31. Iron Man 2 - Rental
  32. Toy Story 2 - Rental
  33. True Grit - Rental
  34. Apocalypse Now Redux - DVD
  35. Bedknobs and Broomsticks - TV
This entry was originally posted at
books, censorship

Books read, 2011

Fewer than usual last year, possibly as a side effect of having developed something not totally dissimilar to a life.

  1. Watch - Robert J. Sawyer
  2. When Will There Be Good News? - Kate Atkinson
  3. City at the End of Time - Greg Bear
  4. The Restoration Game - Ken MacLeod
  5. The Dervish House - Ian McDonald
  6. The Windup Girl - Paolo Bacigalupi
  7. The Four-dimensional Nightmare - J. G. Ballard
  8. The Atrocity Archives - Charles Stross
  9. The Falling Woman - Pat Murphy
  10. The Jennifer Morgue - Charles Stross
  11. The Fuller Memorandum - Charles Stross
  12. House of Suns - Alastair Reynolds
  13. The Adventures of Alyx - Joanna Russ
  14. Extra(Ordinary) People - Joanna Russ
  15. The Course of the Heart - M. John Harrison
  16. Dancing at the Edge of the World - Ursula K. Le Guin
  17. The Luck in the Head - M.John Harrison
  18. Transition - Iain Banks
  19. Patternmaster - Octavia E. Butler
  20. A Canticle for Leibowitz - Walter M. Miller
  21. Tales of Neveryon - Samuel R. Delany
  22. Neveryona - Samuel R. Delany
  23. Flight from Neveryon - Samuel R. Delany
  24. Return to Neveryon - Samuel R. Delany
  25. The Reproductive System - John Thomas Sladek
  26. The Difference Engine - William Gibson
  27. Zoo City - Lauren Beukes
  28. Saturn's Children - Charles Stross
  29. Terminal World - Alastair Reynolds
  30. Freak Out! My Life with Frank Zappa - Pauline Butcher
  31. Luka and the Fire of Life - Salman Rushdie
  32. Embassytown - China Mieville
This entry was originally posted at

Rhythmicity and stuff

Well, that was a fine night at the Adelphi, if crowned by regret.

Dan Mawer opened with a solo acoustic spot that was entirely unreasonably good for that point in an evening, a damned fine musician and performer I'll be looking out for again, tying his songs and others into a patchwork far greater than the sum of its parts. Second up were The Deep State Collective who I'll attempt not to damn too much with faint praise - they were workmanlike and competent, enjoyable even, but failed to inspire, Sorry guys.

Then there was Where's Hollywood? Extraordinary. Brilliant. MX80 Sound meets Faust at the grass roots of Canterbury might start to hint a vector at three guitars, one drummer, no vocals, no lights. Throbbing cross-rhythm magical noise somehow in perfect balance with quiet, pastoral melody lines, all played with a tight, electrifying energy. This was their first gig outside York; it was also their penultimate gig before an indefinite hiatus. Bastards. Final performance will be at Stereo in York on 17th October: I don't know if I'll be able to drag myself out there on a Monday night, but it's going to be bloody tempting. Bit of a trek for hirez and the Brissle nasty racket contingent who might otherwise be interested, but burkesworks might want to drag himself along.

Headliners were Hull band BIRI, who whilst more mainstream in approach than the previous, made a very fine, loose-limbed, lolloping noise indeed. Dead tight while treating anything that could resemble C&W 4/4 with the contempt it so richly deserves, and stretching the envelope of harmony right to the teetering edge of tune, but not, quite, beyond. Fine stuff, and I'll certainly be going to hear them again soon. Also big respect due for introducing Hull and me to Where's Hollywood? even if very nearly too late. Yes.

This entry was originally posted at
books, censorship

Books, and displacement in time

I don't often bounce off books, but over my life there have been a few that have defeated me, or that I have just discarded with contempt or incomprehension.

Over the last few years, I've made a conscious effort to retry and, thus far, have been rewarded by loving the damned things second time round. Whether this is down to greater maturity or age-related reduced higher brain function I leave as an exercise for the reader.

This post is prompted by having just … read, not re-read! … The Difference Engine. When it was first published, I think I got about a half dozen pages into it and no further; couldn't see the point, or engage with it at all. This time, I've romped through it with pleasure: a fine read with some surprising resonances to contemporary society and politics, only let down a little for me by the final lines of the coda.

Other books?

I couldn't finish Shame when I first tried; just got bogged down and ground to a halt. Now, it's (perhaps) my favourite of all of Rushdie's books that I've read, right up there with Midnight's Children.

Doris Piserchia's Star Rider, that I tried whilst working through the first few chunks of Women's Press SF releases back in the early 80s? Unreadable. I was astonished that something written that badly could ever have been published at all, let alone re-published as an exemplar of women's SF. It's been sitting on my shelves ever since, until 2007 when I finally gathered the courage to try it again before disposal: either somebody slipped in and did a substitution without me seeing, or my perceptions have changed fundamentally; I loved it. In fact, it's about time I read it again.

The Glass Bead Game is probably next to retry, another early failure that I reckon I could at least evaluate now.

There are exceptions of course, books I feel no need to pollute my mind with. I tried Dianetics once in my youth, picking it off the library shelf in the mistaken impression it was science fiction. I suppose it is, by some definitions, but the clam-worshippers are welcome to that one. I don't think I'll bother with the Narnia books I hurled away in disgust as child either; my suspicion there is that my spleen wouldnae take it Capt'n. Not a problem with Lewis or his faith (I can read and enjoy the interplantary trilogy and Screwtape, with all their goddishness), just the vomit-inducing patronising Anne Atkinsness of his attempts at chidrens' writing will never again pollute my optic nerves.

This entry was originally posted at


Having spent all of yesterday working, as the rain rained like rainy rain outside (or inside, in the case of the kitchen: we have a flat not-entirely-still-a roof situation there), we decided to go Out today. To the sea, and to the aquarium shop just outside Skirlaugh to buy more turbo snails¹, whatever inclemency the sky might hurl us.

As chance would have it, friends Piers and Gill in Donnie got in touch in the morning; they were going to Brid, and would we like to meet? So that's what we did, at The Best Fish and Chip Shop in England, which just happens to be at 149 Marton Road in Brid. Very, very good it is too, as we all found scoffing the food in the German Barge - it was a rare moment of sunshine, but dry seats were hard to come by outside where it had precipitated while we waited for our fish, and we didn't fancy eating standing up. Mac and I had had half an hour walking on the beach before: north in the sun with the wind behind us, then back south battling the gale into the gathering storm, so appetite was a given.

After a good while deconstructing the state of the world, we drove down in tandem to the aquarium shop, where turbo snails there were none. Woe. We compensated in slight excess by buying two red shrimp, a Royal Gramma (that'll be a fish, m'lud), and three diverse little frags of coral instead.

After that, back in tandem to Hull, where, sitting on the frosted glass walls of a well-furnished room, we drank mint tea and grew in static mindpower. Sorry. What I meant was that we sat at the dining table drinking Earl Gray or Assam, and had a good natter, while the new aquatic arrivals compensated with their new environment before final entry.

Royal Gramma George (all our tanklife are called George) wasn't having any aclimatisation nonsense though, and slipped out of the plastic bag into the tank without so much as a by your leave, and vanished to our eyes, causing consternation and worry. Se² emerged for a visible swim some quarter of an hour later unworried, before vanishing once more. Turns out that hir species likes to grub around to find a safe rock retreat to defend, so that's what se's been doing.

Piers and Gill have returned home to Donnie now, and we're about to consume the bubble'n'squeak with a fried egg Mac's constructing for us tea. Which will be nice, and a good start to the tail end of a good day.

ETA And now we're about to drive to Selby to collect an unexpected 4" Yellow Tang. This is not sensible. We're doing it anyhow.

ETA2 Home again, with Yellow Tang George getting used to a new home thanks to judicious use of a turkey baster. As are a starfish and another coral. Oops.

¹ We had a spate of turbo snail losses (they're there to help clean the tank); they chose in succession to dive down the water return pipe into the sump below, before I tied a washing tablet bag over the pipe mouth to stop such adventure. Some survived to be rescued (as did Clown Fish George when they did the same), some didn't.

² Apologies if gender neutral pronouns upset; how do you sex a Royal Gramma?

This entry was originally posted at