Ichabod is itchy

October 31, 2006

Happy halloween

Filed under: life — by ichabodisitchy @ 7:02 pm

No time for blogging– mum and dad still in residence til end of this week, so all very hectic. And trick or treaters turning up every 2 mins…

But we have found time to make a pumpkin, and I just wanted to wish you all a happy halloween. And to wish Minx very good luck with her fabulous book launch ce soir…



October 25, 2006

The creator of Mma Ramotswe

Filed under: literature,writing — by ichabodisitchy @ 7:57 am

My mum and dad are in town this week. They live in Mexico, so we don’t get to see them as often as I’d like and I must say that I absolutely love it when they come to stay. We don’t generally take advantage of all the wonderful things London has to offer in our usual life, so when the parentals come for a visit we always get a good dose of ‘culture’– theatres, exhibitions etc.

Last night my  mum and I went to a talk, sponsored by the hay festival, by Alexander McCall Smith– the creator of Mma Ramotswe and the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency, among many other characters.

It was a true delight. McCall Smith was hilarious– an archetypal English gentleman (although born and bred in Africa). He was exceptionally ‘jolly’, with slightly mad professorial hair and a definite twinkle in his eye. He is a definite story-teller and delighted the whole audience with endless tales that often had little to do with his books or his writing, but that were, never-the-less very entertaining.

I love the Mma Ramotswe books– so simply written, yet so evocative– and full of wonderful characters. Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni is a favourite. He’s already published 7 Ramotswe adventures, but I was pleased to hear he’s signed up to definitely produce another 4…

October 20, 2006

Paint galore

Filed under: art — by ichabodisitchy @ 6:09 pm

Anyone who enjoyed the Sony colour bouncing balls advert will love this next creation using paint explosions in what I assume is a soon-to-be demolished building…


A hero of our time

Filed under: literature — by ichabodisitchy @ 6:04 pm

I recently finished A hero of our time by Mikhail Lermontov. Am still trying to digest it and can’t make up my mind whether I liked it or not (does that seem strange?)

The ‘hero’ of the novel is certainly not a likeable character– jaded, arrogant, rude and generally insensitive to the emotional hurt and anxiety he inflicts on everyone around him.

The book is a collection of four stories, some longer than others, about the hero’s (Pechorin) travels around the Caucasus. The two principal stories are pretty good, even though you’re left with a bad taste in your mouth by the end. The middle story is somewhat superfluous (at least, it didn’t do much for me– I understood the ‘mystery’ almost immediately and was rather disappointed that there was nothing more to it).

Lermontov died very young– in a duel at the age of twenty-six. A shame really as he didn’t leave a big collection of work– a hundred or so lyrics, two narrative poems and A hero of our time. I’d have been interested in seeing what a second or third novel would have looked like.

October 17, 2006

Cryptic crossword

Filed under: crosswords — by ichabodisitchy @ 6:12 pm

I’ve been working on a cryptic crossword for a project that my lovely friend Maxine (a.k.a. Petrona) is doing at work, and she has kindly let me put it up here as well. So here you go– have fun!


* Starred clues are of a kind and lack definition.

   1 Funds for flu victims? (7)

*  5 Day passage. (7)

   9 Dangerous ruin — good to take down. (5)

10 Dine on bean… seconds? (7-2)

11 Insect wing. (3)

12 Hardwood from east Bolivia is taken to New York. (5)

*13 — R (5)

14 Conducted about Dover. (5)

*16 Boxer takes some rest. (9)

19 Pool tribe out to make a quick buck. (9)

20 Drink with heavy load in charge. (5)

*22 Endless ache in interminable Youth Training Scheme. (5)

24 Softwood taken by graduate who left South America. (5)

26 Dry broadcast. (3)

27 Superior upper shore damaged. (4,5)

29 Some haemophiliacs have a hip bone. (5)

30 Lycra worn by the French and Scottish essayist. (7)

*31 Tire me out without right. (7)

   1 Pleased about having blown the house down? (7)

*  2 Carry snake to tree-top. (9)

   3 Gold coin for scout. (5)

   4 Sad to see rancid flour rows. (9)

   5 Peculiar joke. (5)

   6 Frozen jewels? (3)

   7 Churchman beheaded for crime. (5)

   8 Penguin for entering Rome backwards. (7)

13 Public awareness has little importance. (5)

*15 Hidden in the gazebo at Kew. (1-4)

17 Sign up for sour lemon rent. (9)

18 Marquee Evita put up with care. (9)

19 Note unknown fashionable fortune-teller. (7)

*21 Caught at Delphi perhaps? (7)

23 Cuban soldier reversing into car. (5)

*24 Empty force within. (5)

25 Bail out one with witness. (5)

*28 Even theory. (3)

October 14, 2006

LIFE through time

Filed under: art,life,web sites — by ichabodisitchy @ 4:23 pm

This week’s Science magazine points to a beautiful website called LIFE: A journey through time. It is a collection of stunning photographs, that tell the story of life on earth since its first beginnings.  You can view them as a slide-show, or look at them in an annotated timeline. You can also click on each photo to find out more about both the photo and the time/process it’s illustrating. Some pictures come with video or audio add-ons too.

I’m not terribly good at taking photos, so always marvel at really good ones. And the pictures on this website are wonderful. In addition to the amazing wildlife shots like this one of a tarsier, there are some gorgeous landscape photos.

And you can learn about the history of the earth as you go along. The website also includes a list of links for those interested in natural history– educational resources, museum listings, conservation groups and relevant books.

October 12, 2006


Filed under: life — by ichabodisitchy @ 9:20 pm

My 14-year old stepson came home from school last Friday, complaining of a ‘slight tummy-ache’. He didn’t seem all that ill and we insisted on his at least trying a little of the chili-con-carne Lewis had slaved over the stove to make. Admittedly, we did feel somewhat guilty two hours later as the poor lad was puking his guts up all over the landing floor…

Needless to say, as soon as we had relocated the vomiting wonder-boy to the bathroom, positioned his head over the loo, patted his head and said ‘there there’, we got out the bucket, put on some gloves and cleaned up the mess (well, I say we but Lewis did it all really). But even though all visible signs of the sick have gone, its spirit lives on. Despite all our scrubbing and ‘shake ‘n’ vac’-ing, the smell has lingered. It assaults your nostrils every time you wander up the stairs and hangs about the house like a guest that has frankly outstayed its welcome.

Help! What can we do to get rid of it?

October 11, 2006

The Spy Who Came in From the Cold

Filed under: literature — by ichabodisitchy @ 7:44 pm

Have just finished this classic John le Carre spy story and must confess that my preconceptions of it being an ‘airport action book’ (you know what I mean) were wrong and, to my surprise, I really rather enjoyed it.

Set in the Cold War, this is the story of British agent Alec Leamas, and his struggle against the head of the German Abteilung, ‘Mundt’. The book opens with Mundt’s heartless murder of one of Leamas’ spies as he’s crossing the border from East to West Berlin. This death, we are told, is the last in a series of killings by Mundt and now all of Leamas’ men are dead. With no-one left to run information for him across the border, Leamas’ packs up the Berlin operation and returns to London a wash out.

But ‘Control’ offer him a job. One he can’t refuse– one that will take out Mundt. He is promised a comfortable retirement when the job is done (coming in from the cold so to speak). The ‘operation’ is to feign going to pieces–drink, money troubles, rumours of embezzlement, assault of a greengrocer, a spell in prison–and bait the Germans into picking Leamas’ up as an informant. The information fed them will suggest a mole highly placed in the Abteilung and point the finger (oh so subtly) at Mundt. It is aimed at Mundt’s second in command– Fiedler–who is hungry for power and despises Mundt.

But something goes wrong. Somewhere along the way, Leamas meets a girl, Liz and falls in love. She’s in the English faction of the Communist Party– attracted, like so many in those days, by the ideals of communism without knowing how it was being put in practice. Leamas slips up and lets her know that his fall from grace is intentional. Mundt gets hold of the information and uses it against Leamas, incriminating Fiedler of treason in the process.

It’s a brutal story, and it’s brutally told. Terse language and harsh words add to the atmosphere. Leamas’ is horrific, yet likeable. His girlfriend insipid, but believable. And Mundt is pure evil genius.

There is a good twist, and it ends with a bang.

October 10, 2006

Stop procrastinating!

Filed under: writing — by ichabodisitchy @ 8:21 pm

I’ve come across this document– 50 strategies for making yourself work. It’s aimed at writers and has a list of suggestions to motivate yourself to get down to some writing.

The suggestions vary from the absurd–paper your wall with Playboy foldouts– to the impractical– read a book a day for inspiration (if you read a book a day, what time would you have left for writing?!). But the author also includes some interesting techniques. For example, I quite like the idea of setting up a support group and tracking your output on a public site– I can imagine getting quite competitive if I saw that the rest of the group were getting way ahead of me!

October 8, 2006

What has feminism done for me?

Filed under: women — by ichabodisitchy @ 6:23 pm

Maxine, over at Petrona, has tagged me for a meme, asking what five things has feminism done for me… I’ve been mulling it over for the past couple of days– it’s hard to think of just five things, as I think that every aspect of my life has been affected by feminism in one way or another. But here are some of the things I feel I should thank the feminist movement for:

1. my right to vote. Although this is a very obvious one, I feel it is nevertheless important. People are still dying today– fighting for this basic freedom– and it annoys me no end when people (male & female) tell me that they’re not going to vote, quoting such excuses as ‘it won’t make a difference’, ‘they’re all the same anyway’ or, the worst in my opinion, ‘I can’t be bothered’. humph!

2. my right to as much education as I could wish for. Hideous to think that without the feminist movement I wouldn’t even have made it to University, let alone managed to get through a masters and then a PhD. My mind would be infinitely narrower than it is.

3. my right to talk to men, without aspersions cast upon my character. What would good dsociety have thought of me living with 4 blokes I dread to think.

4. my right to choose when, or even if, to have children.  Definitely want some (eventually), but haven’t felt ready yet and am immensely grateful that I have been able to actively decide not to embark on that path yet.

5. my voice– the ability to express my opinion and have it valued and taken seriously.

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