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The Satanic Verses November 7, 2011

Posted by Fiona in Big things, Bwargh, Edinburgh, Law, Sheer bloody-mindedness, University.
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I’ve just gone onto Wikipedia, and found out the plot of Salman Rusdie’s The Satanic Verses.  It was interesting.

Of course, I’ve heard of the book before – who hasn’t?  It’s practically synonymous with Rushdie’s name, with controversy, with all kinds of things – for the last few months, there’s been an exhibition about banned books at the National Library of Scotland, and I’ve gone round at least three times since August.  The Satanic Verses was all over it, that and Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

The last time I went round the exhibition, I went with my mother.

“Do you know what it’s about?”  She didn’t.  She remembered the controversy, the protests, the fatwah, but she had no idea what the book was about, and neither did I.  The exhibition wasn’t particularly enlightening on that front, although if I hadn’t known the plot of Lady Chatterley before I went in, I certainly did when I came out.

On Saturday, I went to Leeds, to see DV8’s new performance, ‘Can We Talk About This?’  I had no idea what I was going in to see – I didn’t look it up in advance – but it was one of the most thought-provoking pieces of theatre I’ve ever seen.  It’s based around interviews with all kinds of people, and has the basic premise of comment on how British attachment to multiculturalism means that it is failing to protect people who need to be protected.  It focuses on radical Islam.  There’s discussion of forced marriage, vigilantes, the murder or intimidation of writers and artists and film-makers accused of committing blasphemy, allegations of racism against people suggesting integration, or one law for everyone to abide by, or that Sharia might not be the right legal system for Britain.

I don’t know where I sit about this: it was more partisan than I was expecting.  I think I need to read more about it.

And yes, there was a bit about Salman Rushdie, and The Satanic Verses, and how dreadfully controversial it was and how some people took it as a religious insult.  And yet, until today, I had no idea what the plot of it was.

Other things I have found out in the last month: the workings of an international arrest warrant, what Idi Amin did, the geographic whereabouts of the Central African Republic and Nicaragua, who was in charge in South Africa when they implemented Apartheid, and that there is no actual treaty giving explicit state immunity to national Foreign Ministers.

What do you know?  The more about the world I find out, the more ignorant I am of it.  The more I feel like I’m swayed by anyone I meet telling me what the facts are and saying hey, well, you could look at it like this.  The greater the divide I feel there is between what I think about something, and what I happen to be arguing for this week.  (On the question of “Are human rights universal?”, in the last few weeks I have successfully argued both ways, in two different seminars, and in both I’ve succeeded in swaying several other members of the class.  It’s difficult not to feel manipulative, sometimes, even if it is in the safe confines of a seminar room.)

Having said which, I still don’t think I’ll bother reading any Rushdie any time soon.

Going round again May 5, 2011

Posted by Fiona in Bwargh, Craftiness, Knitting, University.
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It’s that time of year.

I seem to be alternating between being unable to sleep for more than three hours at a stretch, and being out like a light for twelve hours straight.  I’m also alternating between subsisting on cous cous and vegetables, and pigging out on bowlfuls of angel delight and bars of Dairy Milk.  My mood is swinging about the place too: one minute, I’m feeling like I have to be alone, and the next, I feel very lonely indeed.  That last is probably kind of related to the first two.  I keep telling myself: this too shall pass.

I don’t really want it to pass, either.

I cast on a sock this afternoon:

The yarn is Juno Fibre Arts Buffy Sock, and the colour is called ‘Seaspray’.  This is pretty accurate, but you can’t see the hints of green particularly well.  It’s such a subtle colour, I had such fun just winding it.

Unlike my usual plain exam sock – I have a pair of toe-up stocking stitch socks for every exam period for about the last three years – this one’s going to be patterned.  I felt like it.  It’s going to be Wendy Johnson’s Catnip socks which are everything I like: toe-up, easily customisable, lacy, with a simple repeat so I don’t have to carry the pattern round with me all the time.  I’m looking forward to them.

I’ve finished a pair of socks, too, in the last day or so – I’ll try and get pictures of them soon, they’re rather lovely.  Again, simple lace.  It’s amazing how comforting it can be sometimes.

It’s all hot and cold hereabouts.  I hardly know what to do with myself.

Captain Shakespeare and I went to see Bellowhead play last week.  They were phenomenal.  Quite possibly the best live act I’ve ever seen – the collective energy was amazing, they can work a crowd like nobody’s business but you just got the impression that they were enjoying themselves and just messing about.  There was spontaneous bursting into jigs, dramatic lunging with a banjo, and trying to make one of the violinists laugh from across the stage while he was doing a solo – as well as at several points the stealing of Jon Boden’s tambourine, whistle, tiny-drum-slash-wind-noise-thing and misc other small percussion instruments.

I’m sure I’ve said before that some musicians have a song that just resonates with me, that I adore above and beyond anything else they’ve done.  Interestingly, that song of Bellowhead’s is one that is very traditional and arranged by a lot of different people.  It’s also the first thing I ever heard them play, and it’s fantastic.  Therefore I’m foisting it on you.  Imagine a theatre full of people bawling their heads off at the words and clapping and stomping along.  What an atmosphere.

It’s never all bad.

Breaking things March 16, 2011

Posted by Fiona in Big things, Bwargh, Durham, Look what I did, Sheer bloody-mindedness, University.
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Notably, internal barriers, my sleep cycle, my ability to function as an adult human being and look after myself and everything and – most excitingly – my record for greatest number of hours spent in the library over a 24 hour period outside of exam term.  Record currently stands at thirteen.  It can’t get any higher than that because that included opening time (9am) in the law library, two hours’ break for food and a tutorial, and closing time (midnight) in the main library.

It’s been that sort of week.

In a way, I’ve kind of enjoyed it.  It’s been good to just be single-minded about work, and just concentrate on one thing for hours at a stretch.  In a way, I kind of feel broken.  It doesn’t show any signs of stopping, yet, though: the end of term is on Friday.  Between now and then I have 300 pages of reading for two tutorials and a 1500 word mini-essay to write.  And then on Monday morning I’ll find out how inevitably dreadful my dissertation draft was, and start on another 6000 word essay due the beginning of next term, and try and get my head round starting to revise.

And do some washing.  I haven’t done any washing in the last two weeks, and I’m running out of things.

And tidy my room.  This is turning into a list now, which is not at all what I meant to say.

I meant to talk about finished things, and how I think I might have started to figure out what I want to do next year, which is great.  And a start.  I also meant to talk about Captain Shakespeare’s new play, which I saw on Saturday and which was a bloody good evening out though I say so myself.

Also, this is a placeholder.  I’m still here!  I’m still going!  I’ve not fallen off the face of the earth!

And look! It’s my dissertation:

Wordle: Public Law Dissertation 2011

(Clicky clicky to make it bigger, although you can probably tell it’s about Parliamentary Sovereignty, its interaction with the courts, and the Human Rights Act.  Soooo unbelievably interesting, and I could wax lyrical about it for ages but I fear I’d bore you.)

I feel quite proud that I’m here and things are still happening.  After my essay’s in on Friday, I promise to show you knitwear.  I know I’ve been promising for the last two weeks.

On diaries February 19, 2011

Posted by Fiona in Breaking the fourth wall, Bwargh, Small things.
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Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he’s dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
They said.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.

‘Not Waving but Drowning’, by Stevie Smith.  Copied from my diary while I was doing my A-levels, Tuesday 13th November 2007.

I wrote a diary from shortly after my thirteenth birthday all the way through to just before I went to university.  At that point, I was thinking too much and didn’t have time to go and write it all down and think about it.  I tried again last year, and lasted about a month – the style that I used to use didn’t really suit any more.  I used to write the date at the top, and set it out like a letter, and write down the time I started writing whenever I did, and sign off with my full name.  I’d like to go back to writing again, because it helped, and it helped me keep things to myself, and I think it made me a bit of a better person or at least a more self-aware one.

Other things have happened, and they’re great and I’ve really enjoyed them – and I’ll try and post about them soon, but I just needed to get this one out.

So what do you do, when you feel a bit like you’re not waving right now?

Inspiration February 8, 2011

Posted by Fiona in Bwargh, Craftiness, Durham, Knitting, University.
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Sometimes it hits you without warning.  Last Thursday, I wound a ball of Malabrigo Lace, thinking it’d be really nice to just play with it for a bit.  I was picturing a long, kind of skinny scarf, with a repeating lace pattern down it.  Something that says yes, it’s still a bit chilly, but it’s spring dammit and I’m going to act like it.  I browsed a bit, and swatched a few things and found nothing I like.

On Friday, I had my eureka! moment.  Here is my eureka! moment, posing ultra-picturesquely with my notes for an essay on European citizenship and the free movement of workers in the European Union:

Mmm, Regulation 1612/68.  So much better for the application of Malabrigo.  It’s glorious, by the way, although it’s also basically felting as I knit it.  Sometimes inspiration hits you square between the eyes, and I have to say I’m really loving this project right now.  I’ve provisionally christened it ‘Winwhistle’, after a place I was thinking about a lot at the time.

The next few weeks are going to be full of people, and places, and events.  After a sluggish few weeks, I’m really looking forward to them.  I’ve been pretty consistently down in the dumps since the beginning of term, and I’m hoping the application of friends and getting out a bit more will help things turn up a bit.  You may or may not be aware (well, you are now) that Linguistic Housemate was in Egypt for the last few months – fear not, she’s now on our living room floor as we speak and it’s been the greatest relief, and the greatest breath of fresh air, to see her again.  Also his nibs is going to be coming to see me next week so there shall be a selection of my favourite people congregating at Techie Towers.

Oh, and I ran two miles this afternoon.  It definitely feels like the spring is coming.  This is my favourite time of year.

It’s official November 19, 2010

Posted by Fiona in Bwargh, Craftiness, Durham, Knitting, Sheer bloody-mindedness.
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I went into a shop on Wednesday and they were playing standard Christmas music.  I can’t pretend it’s not happening any more, and that can only mean one thing: Christmas knitting.  Oh yes.  There’s a lot of it: I have mittens planned, and a hat, and more socks than you can shake a stick at.  And possibly a scarf but it’s looking more and more like that one might be finished by Easter.  Either way, I will almost certainly still be knitting at 11pm on Christmas Eve.  (Like last year, in fact.)  There will definitely be some Morstan mittens, because they’re new and shiny and snuggly and I loff them and they’re so darned quick to knit.

It’s got to the stage of term where I really want to go home, now.  It’s been a bit of a week of it, all things considered: I’ve been up til half past two twice, both times unrelated to actual work, I’ve had my ritual mid-term meltdown where everything gets so overwhelming and I spend about thirty-six hours basically hiding.  Now I just miss my mum.  There’s a possibility of going home for a few hours next week on the way back from a brief trip to France (!) and I’m really looking forward to the idea.

In the meantime, though, it feels like it’s all uphill a bit at the moment.

Just a quick note, in the end, to let you know I’m still alive.  There will be more, and FO pictures (for yes, I have them!) as soon as I can coerce someone else into giving me a hand with a camera.

If you’re interested about how NaNoWriMo is going for me – I hit 30,000 words yesterday, so right on target.  Some of it’s a bit like pulling teeth, though.  I’ve never written 30,000 words before, it’s quite exciting.  Doesn’t feel that long, for sure.

Thoughts two days in November 2, 2010

Posted by Fiona in Breaking the fourth wall, Bwargh, Literature, NaNoWriMo, Sheer bloody-mindedness.
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1,667 words a day is difficult.

At first, everyone is telling you how the only way to do it is to ignore all the distractions, sit down and just write.  There is no secret, or rather, there is, and that’s it.  Then you all talk for a bit about how you’re all so KER-RAZY and insane to be trying to write 50,000 words in a month.  Then you tell each other how excited you are about your plot, and you identify in advance as a planner or a pantser.

I am a planner, incidentally.  A 34-point, 2000 word planner.  I have discovered that I use neither the Snowflake nor the Phase Method, and it seems to work for me.

And then it starts, and you start writing, and you look at what you’ve written in horror and then you look at all the people who’ve written ten thousand words in a day, and you envy them, and you tell everyone about how you really want to just delete everything you wrote and start again.

I don’t want to delete everything I wrote.  It’s the worst pile of crap I’ve written in a very long time, but I don’t want to get rid of it, because it’s not really that bad.  It’s in no way fit for public consumption, and I’d like to think it will be one day but that’s a long way into the future.

The worst thing about it so far is that I’ve known for a very long time that, objectively speaking, I’m not a particularly good writer.  I’m not going to get the Booker Prize, shall we say.  But I’ve never been bad by my own standards: I don’t care if nobody else wants to read what I write, there are hundreds of thousands of words of stories that I’ve written that nobody is ever going to read, but I look back at them every so often and they make me happy.  By my own standards and for my own benefit, I’m a pretty good writer.  So the worst thing about NaNoWriMo so far, two days in, is that I’ve never been scared of scrolling up before.  I’ve never been embarassed to reread anything I’ve written before.

I know the point is that you just write, just start at the beginning and plough on until the end, and don’t look at what’s gone before until the end, but honestly, the thing that’s making me recoil is not the actual writing – that’s really good fun, actually, and so therapeutic, just getting my internal story out and haphazardly written down – it’s that I don’t think I want to edit this.  I don’t think I ever want to see it again.

I’ve never felt like this about my writing before, and that’s really scary.  I don’t have a target audience at all, any more, because not even I would read what I’m writing this month.  It feels like I’ve lost my anchor, somehow.  Does that make sense?

Anyway, if I’d written this last 500 words of novel rather than of blog, I’d be past my target for today.  So that’s a bit depressing.

All encouragement gratefully received, but don’t be surprised if I go into ‘You weren’t there, man!’ mode for the next few days.

Unrelatedly, Woolly Wormhead mystery KAL this month!  The cast-on is so fiddly I haven’t got very far, but I’m looking forward to it because it looks like it’s going to be beautiful.  And it has lace and cables and twisted stitches and yay.  So something at least is going well this month.

The time of year May 30, 2010

Posted by Fiona in Bwargh, Craftiness, Knitting.
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It is a sure fact, I have discovered, that if I don’t bring every knitting supply I own halfway round the country at the beginning and end of every term, then whatever I want is almost certainly at the other end at any given moment.

Right now, I’m talking 4mm circular needles.  They were a silly thing to leave behind, as other than my trusty sock needles they’re without a doubt the ones I use most.  I have a pair of Addi Lace ones that I bought at IKnit last year, and they’re wonderful for everything – I like my needles pointy to cut-throatedness and sometimes Addi Turbos, super-fast and gloriously clicky though they may be, simply won’t do.

Anyway, I went out yesterday on the prowl for a coffee shop with seats to spare (not easy to find in Durham of a Saturday afternoon), plonked myself down with my warm caffeinated beverage of choice, all the necessaries and a calculator, and swatched my little heart out for a new Thing that’s been occupying my doodle space for the last few weeks:

..but it turns out, no, neither 3.5mm nor 4.5mm needles will do.  I am a 4mm needle girl, the maths insists that it is so, and that, it appears, is that.

It is pretty, though.

There is something about knitting cables in aran weight yarn that is so comforting.  Cables were the first ‘trick’ I learned with knitting: knit, purl, k2tog, then bam, cables.  I don’t even think anyone taught me, particularly, or else I learned just from watching my mum, but they just seemed to make sense at once.  So I’ve been itching to get this project going for the last few days, and not having the right needles was a bit on the galling side.  They’re even on another project.  How awful.

Yesterday evening, plonked down in front of Eurovision with two housemates, a packet of Kettle Chips and a gin and tonic (we know how to live, you guys), I went online and bought a new pair.  And, erm, the yarn for an entire cardigan.  Personally I think I’ve been very restrained with the yarn buying this term – one skein, and that’s mostly used now, too – so I don’t feel that guilty about breaking my yarn diet on this occasion.  Even if I still can’t afford to.

The summer has gone somewhere – nowhere to be found is the glorious sunshine of a few days ago, we’re back to cloud, and wind, and the occasional bit of rain.  I suppose it was all a bit too good to be true, and at least we took advantage of the warm weather while it was here, but it’s making me a bit sad, more so than I usually would be in this kind of weather.  I suppose it’s the exams.  I feel cooped up now.  I’m desperate to be outside, even if the weather’s not great.  I want to go for a walk – I think I’ve just been inactive for too long.

Less than a week left.  As usual, I suppose I ought to take my own advice, and put my head down and run.  All cheerfulness – especially if it has nothing to do with current affairs, ethics or gainful employment – gladly welcomed.

Halfway May 24, 2010

Posted by Fiona in Bwargh, Knitting, Law, Sheer bloody-mindedness, University.
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Three down.  Criminal, Commercial, Land.

(I need a better camera, seriously.)

Three to go.  Trusts and Equity, Employment, Advanced Issues in Public Law.

I am cacking myself about two of these particularly; one because it’s two days away and I feel hopelessly underprepared, the other because it’ got ‘Advanced’ in the title, there are no past papers and all the sample questions we got given look impossible.  On the other hand, it’s my favourite subject out of the lot of them, and it’s five days after the last of the other two.  Also, its emphasis is not so much on remembering lots of cases, but remembering a few really well.  So I’m really looking forward to spending those five days in coffee shops rather than the library, reading cases and commentary because I enjoy them, probably with a danish pastry and knitting something uncomplicated out of this:

(Photo from Laughing Yaffle)

I have one skein of it, and I think it might end up being some socks with a pattern that I don’t have to look at, once the Zauberball ones are finished.  I’m quite taken with Anne Hanson’s Port Ludlow socks, but wouldn’t dare knitting anything pale yellow.  I’ve taken a week’s break from socks recently, because I really don’t think I can face turning any more heels at the moment, but it’s taken an entire evening of pattern-searching and I can’t find anything other than socks that this skein might want to be.

Apart from Luce.  It might want to be a Luce.  I think a Luce in sporadically variegated yarn might be amazing, if outlandish.  Gloriously so, however, rather than obnoxiously so.

Anyway.  If you can think of anything not too complicated that a 460yd skein of fingering weight yarn in green-and-exciting might want to be, I’m all ears.

Urgh.  Trusts is sapping my soul.  If I read about many more wills, or divorces, I’m just going to have to eat my own body weight in Dairy Milk.  I promise to write something more interesting as soon as it’s over.

TGFS May 15, 2010

Posted by Fiona in Bwargh, Craftiness, Knitting, Look what I did, University.
4 comments

I hoped I’d have a pattern to share with you by now; unfortunately the fates have conspired against me so you’ll probably have to wait another week or two.  My first exam is on Monday, I was hoping to have it all sorted already…

My parents had an acronym that they routinely used for most of my childhood, mostly to describe alcohol or really good chocolate, and it was TGFC: Too Good For Children.  I have found, over the last year or so, my own personal equivalent of this, and it refers to a certain sort of yarn, usually fingering weight, that provokes the response, “You’re not seriously thinking of putting that on your feet?”

Yarn costing over £14 for a 100g skein automatically falls under this category (what can I say? I’m a student), as does yarn that is particularly squishable, or particuarly beautifully dyed.  After all, if it’s that good, you put it round your neck, or you put it where people are going to see it, surely?  I tend to be far more willing to use good yarn for socks for other people than for socks for myself, so that has an impact as well.  Also automatically in my Too Good For Socks category goes any yarn I’ve had to hunt for, wait for, or refresh a web page for.

Malabrigo is a prime example of “What, are you mad?  Are you actually planning on standing on that, never mind wearing shoes with it?” yarn.  As is, I have discovered, Posh Yarn.  There’s something exciting about going after something coveted, and page-refreshing for pretty things.  I’ll get you yet, Wollmeise.  But in the meantime, I have one lovely bluey-green skein of fingering weight Posh Yarn Elinor, and it’s  a bouncy 100% merino 2-ply and it’s lovely.  I’m making a shawl for Linguistic Housemate for when she goes on her year abroad next year.  Covert knitting!  How exciting.  It’s a stunning colour, even if my photo-taking skills are somewhat depleted:

You can’t see the colours very well, but I assure you it’s looooovely.  Mmm.  I could almost keep it for myself.  And importantly I could never, ever make socks from it!

In other news, GREEN SHAWL!

It’s so exciting, and GREEN!  And I love it.  Yes, I am hiding behind it again, but that is only because for some reason it smells really good.  I’ve no idea what soak was used after it was dyed, but it’s lovely, and you can just smell it a little bit behind the few drops of lavender I stuck in the hot water I soaked it in before I blocked it.  It’s utterly inhalable, and I love it.  The only modification to the pattern I made was to replace the lacy border with just a couple of lines of garter stitch.  I like the lace border technique-wise, but it’s not really the kind of thing I’d wear.  I should have done another few rows of garter stitch; the stocking stitch triangles still roll a bit, even after blocking.  Meh.  Still going to wear it lots, so I think it’s an overall success.

Slightly depressingly, it was finished very quickly, as it was procrastination from all those socks which were procrastination from actually working.  You can probably tell how well it’s going.

I got a parcel the other day from my mum, with an Exam Survival Kit in it: a shoebox containing water biscuits, a packet of good coffee, some Lapsang Souchong, quite a lot of Thorntons chocolate and a small stuffed bear.  It made my day, although my housemates contend that it’s not a good thing that I’ve now found a tea more scary and odd-smelling than Lemon and Ginger.  I beg to disagree.

Last night, I was at the library til 2.30am.  Tonight similarly, I expect.  If you’re about, come talk to me!  I’ll probably be sat on Floor 4 despressing myself with either reckless HIV transmission or the Sale of Goods Act, I haven’t decided.  Anyway, I could always do with the company.

It’s my hundredth post.  How, ah, exciting.