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Archive for September, 2006

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Sunday, September 17th, 2006

It’s cranefly season, and this summer, there is an unusual number of them.

Every night, John opens his bedroom window with the lights on (and the doors closed). He feeds the craneflies he catches to the spider that has set up home on the window frame.
Little Henrietta.jpg
He’s called her Henrietta,

Every morning I plead with John to set Henrietta free. I may have a point, because now is the time that the spiders in our garden mate.

“Look at this,” John says. “These two spiders are trying to mate. They are strumming to each other.”

I step up to the bush he kneels in front of.

“Isn’t that sweet?”

“No.” The insignificantly tiny male carefully strumms the thread the female has spun. She in turn rises up, fangs poised, presenting her genitals at the same time. “It’s a game of life and death.”

The dance continues. He strumms; she responds briefly. He advances; she does not move. He bounces back. He strumms…

“If I was her, I’d parceled him up by now,” I say sourly. But then my heart leaps. He’s advanced again. This time, he’s not backing off. He’s almost there…

It’s the last move the male ever makes. The female pounces faster than the eye can see. Even as we watch with bated breath, she’s already encasing the hapless suitor in a silver cocoon of silk. She darts across to her web with the parcel dangling from her abdomen, then returns to the thread, turns it around and starts to feed. The suddeness with which this all happened shocks me. Nature and her ways.

“It’s time to put Henrietta out,” I say. “Do it today while the sun still shines, so she too can feast on men.”

Er…that’s it.

Tuesday, September 12th, 2006

For now at least. Until the end of November, I will focus mainly on fiction writing. I have one story to polish and submit to a professional market, another ditto for an unpaying (but prestigious) website, a third for the writers’ group and finally, a novel to write—based on the first story.

This should keep me busy for a while.

If you feel like it, you can check my occasional progress posts in my lifejournal (I signed up for this as part of the 2005 Worldcon community, and it has become my writer’s blog, off-and-on.)

I’ll be back here with the occasional Tadley tidbit, or news about preparations for our Australia trip in January. But basically, hanging out here will be an excuse not to write.

Magic Sunday at the Reading Festival

Saturday, September 2nd, 2006

It’s nearly a week ago now, but it feels much longer. Perhaps this is because of the dreamlike quality of he day.

Odd to think that in my 41 years, I’ve never been to a major rock festival before.
[read on]

Citizenship pipedreams: again

Saturday, September 2nd, 2006

I got a cold at the Reading festival. This has set me back a few days and I haven’t been able to blog much, even when Tony Blair came up with probably the first of his senile-politician-waiting-to-be-kicked-out-of-office proposals the other day. It signifies that he wants to be pushed, rather than do the honourable thing and resign from his leadership. Alternatively, the guy is serious. It doesn’t bear thinking about.

What the PM wants to do is to target children of supposedly dysfunctional families to prevent them growing up to become troublemakers. Babies and Toddlers with ASBOs, I hear you ask?

“No, I mean before they are born.”

That was a quote from a Newsnight interview. I didn’t hear wrong.

At long last, the application form to become a British citizen is on my desk. Suddenly I begin to doubt that this is such a good move. But I read through the Naturalisation guide anyway. I have to chew on the fact that swearing allegiance to the Queen is a legal requirement—I mean, why not put the Pope in charge? Anyway, I think I may be able to do that with crossed fingers as it is publicly known that I’m not a monarchist. But then, there’s the test.

The website offers people help with using a mouse and keyboard and then asks questions such as ‘What are the public holidays in Britain. What are the four national holidays?’ (Do you even know the four national saints?)

Worse: ‘Do women have equal rights to men? Do they receive equal pay?’ —What do they want to hear from a graduate of St. Hilda’s?

After twenty years of living in this country, I cannot answer these questions. Neither can John. The solution: order the handbook from the home office and learn by rote. There isn’t an online version.