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Tony Grist

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In Demand [Nov. 4th, 2005|10:52 am]
Tony Grist
I live a retired life. No-one invites me anywhere (thank goodness.) And then I get two big-deal invitations for the same evening.

Invitation #1 is for a book launch at the Bosnian embassy. I wrote the preface to said book. I'm not going because it's too far, Ailz has a hospital appointment that day and the thought of being on display like that and having to pretend to be some sort of expert on Bosnian poetry (which I'm not) gives me the heebie-jeebies.

Invitation #2 is for the preview of an exhibition of paintings and drawings by an ex-girlfriend. I probably will go to this one because it's not too far, I'm interested to see what Wendy is up to these days and, even though the prospect of having to make light, tinking conversation over the chardonnay is pretty repulsive, I won't have to pretend to be anything other than a punter.
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[User Picture]From: sorenr
2005-11-04 03:25 am (UTC)
Gosh, aren't you just the flavour of the week! :-)

Nobody is inviting me anywhere, so I suppose I'll just have to invite my flatmate to go out with me. though I fear we will be less cultured and just celebrate that tonight is the release-night for this years Christmas brew from the Danish breweries. It's basically a nation-wide party that kicks off at 20.59 tonight when the first beers are delivered to bars throughout the country. Oh, well: book launch, beer launch; potaeto, potahto! :-)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-11-04 03:50 am (UTC)
A beer launch sounds good. Now that Halloween is out of the way we can all start winding ourselves up for Christmas.

I went through a phase of hating Christmas, but I think this year I'll just relax and settle back and enjoy the shinyness.
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[User Picture]From: sorenr
2005-11-04 03:58 am (UTC)
I love Christmas. It's just a matter of doing it on your own terms, really.

I do a lot of Christmas stuff, like make my own decorations for the tree in the traditional Danish style (mainly ornaments made out of folded or woven paper...), have real candles on the tree, bake traditional christmas cookies and the whole lot. I enjoy all that. I don't enjoy shopping for presents, spending Christmas at my parents's or wearing a Santa-hat, so I don't do that. (I cancelled present-giving with my family last year, and even though my brothers found it sacriligeous, it's one of the best Christmas-decisions I ever made! I'm definitely sticking to that one, as it avoids so much hassle and stress, not to mention saves money because this way I can afford buying myself something nice that I need, rather than waste time on presents that aren't appreciated anyway.)

The most important things are, surely, to have plenty of time to relax, plenty of good books at the ready, maybe a few board-games if that's your style, and loads and loads of nice things to eat and drink, though not necessarily the traditional Northern European lardy-lardy-lard Christmas-stuff.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-11-04 04:04 am (UTC)
I'll go with most of that- except for the board games- I hate board games.

My hating Christmas was tied up with being a pagan and all that. For several years we celebrated the midwinter solstice and pretended Christmas day wasn't happening. Silly of us- but it worked out quite well with the kids- who got two midwinter festivals for the price of one.
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[User Picture]From: sorenr
2005-11-04 04:11 am (UTC)
In my home-made set of traditions, EVERYTHING is optional... And when I've been to the Lake District for Christmas with my English friends, we've normally done a bit of board-games (Cluedo and various word-centred games) and a LOT of parlour games around the fireplace. And treasure hunts! (As it's an old, 5-storey water-mill, that house is ideal for treasure hunts...)

And I do like to celebrate the solstice as well. Again, my English friends and I used to celebrate the solstices in our own way, basically just making sure a nice time was had. Whether a summer-solstice celebration was a camping-trip to the New Forest or a drink in Soho didn't really matter, but it's nice to somehow mark the passing of the seasons. In Denmark we traditionally celebrate mid-summer on Saint John's Eve, but in spite of having been moved to a Christian saint's day, it's still very much a pagan mid-summer celebration at heart, with bonfires and the banishment of dark spirits at it's heart.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-11-04 04:34 am (UTC)
I used to play a lot of Cluedo. I even had a system- which made me the Poirot of all Poirots.

The watermill sounds idyllic. Five floors- that is a hell of a lot of space to hide things in.

My years as a pagan made me a whole lot more sensitive to the passing of the seasons. I'm talking like I stopped being a pagan- and I don't suppose I ever did- I'm still one deep down- I just don't fiddle about with rituals any longer....
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[User Picture]From: sorenr
2005-11-04 05:46 am (UTC)
Oh, the mill is massive, especially since, of course, the outbuildings are also included in treasure hunts, so they involve a lot of running on stairs, both inside and outside, where they can be almost lethal since the gorge is so damp that they invariably ice over... A wonder none of us have ever ended up in the waterfall, really!

My ex, English M, is also very good at Cluedo; he always wins! But I always win at the Victorian Railway Carriage Game (TM) that we got from a small book of victorian parlourgames, and all in all I find that infinitely more prestigeous, of course!
*cough* I hate loosing... *cough*
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-11-04 06:31 am (UTC)
The railway carriage Game sounds intriguing.

Victorian parlour games in an old mill in a the Lake district- it's almost unbearably picturesque.
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[User Picture]From: sorenr
2005-11-04 07:01 am (UTC)
It's a simple little game, really. Basically everybody writes a phrase, puts it in the hat (or a bowl if there's no hat), and then two players draw a phrase each and sit in front of everybody else in two opposing chairs that are meant to signify the railway carriage. The aim of the game is to lead a normal conversation, constantly keeping it going and you win if you can find a plausible place in the conversation to use your phrase. It HAS to come natural, of course, and you're not allowed to declare your victory before the other party has replied. If you think the other party just said their phrase, then you can call them on it, but if you're wrong, you loose.

-Of course what makes the game hilarious is that we always play it after dinner when we're in a suitably merry state, because while you're sitting there, trying to steer the conversation in your direction, you also have to pretend sitting in a Victorian carriage that bumbs up and down, so you're basically bobbing up and down in your chair all the time, and of course speaking in the most Victorian accent you can dig up. Highly amusing game to watch, especially after a few bottles of wine... (We only once had a participant actually bob out of his chair, but that had been a very wet dinner beforehand...)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-11-04 07:24 am (UTC)
Now that really does sound like fun.

I can imagine Lewis Carroll playing it. Whenever he went on a railway journey he used to fill his pockets with books and toys and games in case he should happen to share a carriage with a little girl who needed amusing.

Are there rules about the phrases that go into the hat? Do they have to make some sort of sense or are wild flights of surreality allowed?
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[User Picture]From: sorenr
2005-11-04 08:13 am (UTC)
They obviosuly have to be slightly bizarre in order to make it a challenge for the participant to steer the conversation towards, say, Lucrecia di Borgia or something similarly non-usual during polite carriage conversation... And as always, double-entendres is a great hit with the audience! But they also have to be fair, just like the two players actually have to make sure that they don't just steam-roll the other person, but have a normal (sort of) conversation that just takes a lot of strange twists and turns...
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-11-04 09:47 am (UTC)
I guess it would be cunning to introduce outlandish phrases into the conversation in the hope that your opponent would challenge wrongly.

Hey, it sounds like fun. Maybe I'll try and get the family to play it sometime over Xmas.
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[User Picture]From: sorenr
2005-11-04 12:08 pm (UTC)
Hehe... You're getting into the strategy of it!

I'll try to see if I can get English M to mail write me the instructions word by word from his book of Victorian parlourgames; I seem to recall that even the description was amusing in its own right!

(Also my flatmate just asked what I was doing... My reply? "I'm explaining the rules of a Victorian parlourgame to a former Wicca priest...")
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-11-04 01:56 pm (UTC)
All in a day's work....

Yes, I'd love to have the original instructions.

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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-11-04 05:27 am (UTC)
This will be the strangest Christmas for me. For one thing, I'm out of money and can only offer my Lulu book to my family--and gingersnaps. For another--much more significant--my son and his family won't be home anymore for the holidays, since Tara is a deacon and needs to be in the middle of church activities, so I won't see my grandchildren.

They are coming down briefly for Thanksgiving, but it won't be the same.

For the first time in my life, I don't look forward to Christmas. Just thinking about it makes me feel weary.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-11-04 06:38 am (UTC)
I went through a run of really grim Christmases.
It's horrid to be bombarded by all festive cheer when you don't feel in the mood.

We don't have any grandchildren- and none of the kids seem minded to provide us with any- but having Joe around over the season (he'll probably be at Sarah's on Christmas day) should make a difference.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-11-04 05:23 am (UTC)
I think you chose wisely, but what an honor to be asked to write a preface for a book of Bosnian poetry!

When is the exhibition? How long since you've seen Wendy?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-11-04 06:49 am (UTC)
It was an honour and it came out of the blue. The poet's daughter saw a review of mine in which I'd praised one of her father's poems and asked me to write the intro for his posthumous collection.

The exhibition preview is on Nov 17. I last saw Wendy in 1991- at the preview of an earlier exhibition.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-11-04 06:53 am (UTC)
It should be interesting to see her after fourteen years, and to see her work.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-11-04 07:25 am (UTC)
She used to paint ballet dancers- almost nothing but ballet dancers. Now she appears to have moved on to landscape.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-11-04 07:30 am (UTC)
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From: (Anonymous)
2005-11-04 08:46 am (UTC)
!
Wonderful, brooding faces.

Reminds me a little of Picasso.

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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-11-04 08:47 am (UTC)
Oh, me.
Phooey on LJ.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-11-04 08:46 am (UTC)
!
Wonderful, brooding faces.

Reminds me a little of Picasso.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-11-04 09:40 am (UTC)
They're interesting, aren't they?

I'm curious to see what her landscapes will be like.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-11-04 09:43 am (UTC)
Well, it's a long time- 20 years- since I was with Wendy- and Ailz has met her and is happy to go along to the exhibition- so, I don't suppose there's any real problem.

And I do want to see what her new paintings are like.
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