16 February 2017

Stuck Opens

I very much enjoy the fact that someone in the not-too-distant-but-distant-enough-for-mould-to-grow-in-the-interim past has printed out special stickers for the windows in the Observatory to indicate their status.

12th Feb

12 February 2017

From behind a gorse bush


There has been an increase in bird species turning up at my pop-up bird café: notably a pair of great tits, some starlings and a wren. The wren is almost spherical and sits on the fence near my house doing small bobbing movements and being tiny, which is possibly the greatest thing to ever have happened in my garden. The tits were here only briefly, and the starlings are here often and for prolonged periods, gorging themselves.

At times when lots of birds are present at once, they seem to have developed a queueing system not unlike people standing around a bar waiting to get served. Sometimes if one bird has been taking a bit too long, another one will drop a subtle hint that maybe it's someone else's turn, by passive-aggressively sitting on the tree from which the food hangs. There is no pecking or outright aggression; merely hints. If birds can make a throat-clearing noise, I imagine they are doing that too.

31st Jan

31 January 2017

Bird cakes

We went to the emergency anti-Trump/anti-appeasement-thereof-by-spineless-uk-prime-minister demo in Newcastle on Monday evening. I didn't take a camera, which is why you only get a picture of some bird food, rather than everyone's placards. There were about 2000 of us there - I couldn't see the end of the crowd of people down the street from where I was standing.

The bird food is because I realised a couple of weeks ago that a) it is pretty cold, late in the winter, and bird foodstuffs are a bit thin on the ground; and b) the sum of the stale foods that had been sitting around in my house might just equal a bird-cake if I mushed it all up in a pot and then cooled it in the fridge. So along with making some flapjack and soda bread because I was having a Necessary Baking Afternoon (that makes me sound domesticated; horror) I put some stale cereals and raisins and out-of-date feta and a few other things in a pot and then, when thoroughly mixed, put it in cupcake holders with strings threaded through them.

When they were cooled I hung two in the garden (the rest went in the freezer). A week went by and absolutely no birds ate them. Tom was all sceptical about my skills as a bird chef (or, rather, the staleness of the ingredients, perhaps) but then a blackbird and a robin simultaneously turned up and have been gorging themselves on them ever since. The robin is all round and adorable and tiny and it does a little hummingbirdesque flutter when it pecks a bit out of a bird cake (even though I've positioned them with twig-perches around them, this is apparently still necessary). The blackbird is very territorial and makes loud announcements before eating, which I suspect is how the robin knows where the food is located. It has maybe devised a system of sneaking around behind the blackbird in all the food-places by following the loud noises. So, a small nice insignificant but comforting thing in all the mainly-bleak-and-horrifying.

I've also had two lettuces that I grew accidentally - and which were too wind-wracked and leggy to give me much enthusiasm for eating them myself - conveniently removed by rabbits, which have pooed all over the garden path so I know it was them and not someone else. So, you know, all totally at one with nature and stuff out here.


The Data That Turned the World Upside Down, which is about the data analytics and marketing company used by both the Brexit and Trump campaigns and ran a lot of very finely targeted brain-hacking Facebook ads.

...And relatedly, Democracy 3.0: A science-fiction story about what comes next in America


31 May 2016

The River Ouse now has chord symbols for guitar accompaniment

I saw Michael for the first time in two years on Sunday night. Michael and I used to play in a band together.

He criticised my life-choices; I stomped on his foot.

("It's just like the old days," our mutual friend reminisced.)

Eventually he ran out of ways to insult me, and went to get another drink.

(dis)continued foraging

18 April 2016

Still hadn't done the weeding. Was making a salad. Decided to try the Jack by the Hedge raw, just to check whether it was sufficiently delicicous to merit eating a small amount of cyanide (the internet says broccoli has it in too, so I figured it couldn't be too bad).

It tasted a bit like you'd expect something to taste if you just pulled a leaf off any old tree and bit into it. Leafy and meh. It is supposed to taste of garlic and mustard, and tasted of neither. So that was settled, and I dug out all the Jack by the Hedge after lunch and put lots of seeds where it had been, in the hope that they don't mind the cyanide secretions or whatever it is too much.

Meanwhile, in other Weed News, there is lots of creeping buttercup all over the herb patch and I have no idea how to get rid of it all. Am considering releasing my mint plants from their underground cages, because if there's going to be a rampant plant that tries to strangle all the other plants it may as well be one I know I definitely like consuming in large quantities.