I assume it’s the colder weather that has brought back to the loft what I assume are mice. This week I heard the night-time pitter-patter of feet above us. Ugh. After a quiet night I went up to check the traps and… there were no dead creatures but two traps were missing. Hmm. It’s currently hard for us to explore far but the traps weren’t within sight. I don’t know if that’s good or bad for us or the mice.
§ In happier wildlife news, this week we saw a border collie dog wander into the garden. We took the old, slow and well-behaved fellow indoors and before long managed to reunite him, Sparky, with his owners. He was a very good boy and it was lovely to host him briefly.
Getting a dog of our own is obviously the next step in the Child Free Couple Moves To The Countryside manual but, if we’ll ever be ready for that, we don’t think it’s now.
§ I should have thought to look sooner but I only realised the other day that the recently-opened UK Bookshop.org allows you to create a wishlist. Given my Amazon wishlist was 95% books and I’m doing my best to avoid using Amazon I rebuilt my wishlist on Bookshop.org in time for Christmas and deleted everything from the Amazon one. I’ve yet to buy anything on Bookshop.org so I hope, you know, it works. Still, that’s one in the eye for Jeff Amazon!
§ I recently finished reading Michel Faber’s The Book of Strange New Things, which Matt Webb recommended a few years back. It was good. I wasn’t blown away by it but did enjoy it and it’ll stick with me, which is always a good thing and never a given. I think my only disappointment was that I kept feeling some foreshadowing, as if there would be a massive twist or reveal at some point but, although the plot develops, there wasn’t a huge A-HA moment. Maybe that was the twist! Ahhhhh.
§ I’m currently reading Stewart Lee’s March of the Lemmings which collects three years of his columns for the Guardian. It’s fine, although re-living Brexit and the rise of Boris Piccaninny Watermelon Bumboys etc Johnson is a bit un-fun. As with How I Escaped My Certain Fate the footnotes are very entertaining and illuminating however.
At the end of each re-printed column Lee has included a selection of comments posted about it on the Guardian‘s website. All of them terrible. I can, in theory, see how this is fun and interesting but in practice it is as depressing as reading loads of dumb comments always is.
Some comments are from Brexiteers/right-wingers banging on about trendy lefties (I’m unsure why they’re reading the Guardian). Some are insistent on telling the world that Stewart Lee isn’t funny. And some take everything Lee writes at face value, rather than as a routine, a made-up silly extrapolation of reality, and so harrumph about inaccuracies or ridiculousness.
It’s the same kind of mis-reading that happens a lot online when people come across something they read in a way that isn’t quite intended. I’ve seen friends receive a lot of flack from strangers for things they’ve written online which make sense if you know the person, if you read it with a nudge and a wink. But taking it at face value someone will quickly put disgruntled fingers to keyboard.
Just as Stewart Lee writes and performs as “Stewart Lee”, an exaggerated version of himself, I often feel I’m “Phil Gyford” on something like Twitter. I mean, we all have slightly different versions of ourselves online, but Twitter seems especially performative.
It’s not for me to say that I’m as funny as “Stewart Lee” but sometimes it’s exhausting when something said flippantly and only semi-seriously gets taken as A Very Serious Statement by others. I forget that many people attempt to use Twitter for serious discussion rather than as a place for stupid jokes and idle chat.
Obviously though, the blog post stuff was deathly serious.
§ We watched The Good Lord Bird this week which was pretty good and I enjoyed Ethan Hawke’s crazy portrayal of John Brown. But neither of us found it particularly gripping which was perhaps because it didn’t seem entirely serious. It seemed pitched somewhere between a really serious docudrama and a Coen Brothers-style romp. The latter resulted in several over-the-top characters – besides John Brown, Frederick Douglass was a preening buffoon, for example – and I didn’t feel the full weight of importance of the fight for slaves’ freedom. It was fine but had it been, say, a dozen episodes rather than seven we probably would have given up rather than see it through.
§ We’re nearly there! 2020’s nearly over! Hang on in there.