Very October

A heron flies over head- not a rarity round here but not common either. A crow accompanies it- at a safe distance- as if escorting it away from crow airspace.

I've been watching the horses and donkeys eat. They don't stay long in one place but browse the available buffet. The big donkey strips a branch from a sapling then moves on to the next. My hope is that over the winter they'll halt the advancing scrub and tread and eat the field back into pastureland.

It's a damp, mild day. Grey skies. Very October.

Honest Wear And Tear

The tip of the knife was bent right over.

Give it to Julia to give to Bean to melt down in his forge?

But the only bit of it that's metal is the blade. The bulk of it is plastic....

Throw it away?

But it'll only go into landfill- where the plastic will persist for thousands of years.

So I fetch out the pliers.

The tip is straight again. Straight in a slightly wavy way.

But I'll bet even Excalibur was a bit wavy after it had been through a few jousts and battles.

Questions Of The Day

Will our bloody-minded northern cities- which have no love for London and even less for tories- be willing to accept the restrictions being imposed on them by a London-centric tory government?

And if they don't what will that government do- send in the army?

Twenty- And Still Counting...

As it turns out, there was an underdog: he was Novak Djokovic. A grand slam final between the two greatest players in the world shouldn't have been so one-sided- but Nadal was majestic. It's not even as though Djokovic was playing badly.

Nadal now has 20 grand slam titles to his credit- the same as Federer. 13 of those were won in Paris. This extraordinary era in men's tennis continues. Where are the younger players who will bring it to an end? I've been asking that question for years- and they still haven't shown up.

It's been a joy- this autumnal French Open.

Written on my NEW computer

The guy who delivered my computer said he couldn't deliver it before 10.00- and he was a little early- so we stood on the drive chatting while the minutes scrolled by. It was a pleasant chat. He said he'd be going home to watch F1, I said I'd be settling down with the tennis. Then, because conversation had lapsed I told him how my son-in-law was doing electrics on an outdoor site in Middlesborough. Well, I found it interesting.

Ailz set the machine up. I could probably have managed myself- because I'm fairly dogged- but it would have taken much longer. Now Ailz is having problems expunging me from her computer and I'm being asked for passwords and having to reset them because I'm told they're incorrect (even though they're not.)

No underdogs in the men's final, so I'll be cheering for Rafa. It's sad that Djokovic is so unlikeable. I was on the phone to my sister when D was playing Tsitsipas. She said Tsitsipas looks like Jesus on the cross and I said Novak looks like the guy who nailed him there.

Cough, Cough, Cough

Everyone in the house is coughing. Peak cough was yesterday. It's not a cheerful sound.

As I seem to be less congested than anyone else this morning I made a proposal that anyone heard hacking should have to stand on one leg, sing a comic song and give everyone else five pounds.

You don't have five pounds, said Ailz.

I'm wading through the final pages of Nicholas Nickleby. Things become much lighter and breezier whenever Squeers appears. How odd that a child-abusing, money-grabbing sociopath should be the most entertaining character in the book. But, then again, we all love Mr Punch. Vis a vis Mrs Nickleby: someone might have pointed out to Dickens that it may not be such a great strategy to give a character who is designed to be annoying quite so much space to annoy us in. A dash of Mrs N is invigorating; pages of her rabbiting on tempt the reader to skip.

I don't usually back the winner in big sporting events; This is because I favour underdogs- and there's usually a good reason why they have that status; but yesterday I was cheering for Swiatek and she not only won but never really looked in danger of losing. People- commentators- have been pronouncing her name as if there is an "N" in the middle. Shwee-an-teck. Can that really be right?

2005 Was Another World

Two incidents in the episode of Midsommer Murders which I watched this evening that wouldn't be allowable in a contemporary TV show:

1. A man is attacked while trying to make a call from the village phone box.

2. A murderer leaves a message in the name of his victim at an airport reception desk. The victim's lover, who is the recipient, draws the conclusion that he is still alive. This is a plot point of middling importance.

In both cases the thing that has rendered the events implausible- going on vanishingly unlikely- is the fact that everybody now has a mobile phone.

The episode is only 15 years old.

One Annoying Thing, One Satisfactory Thing

My computer woke up this morning and told me it didn't want to go on the internet. I did everything I could to persuade it otherwise but it was adamant.

So I'm writing on Ailz's computer. I've had to reset all my passwords because they were saved on my computer and I'd forgotten what they were.

I hope to live to see a day when the computers of 2020 will seem as quaintly clunky as the manual typewriters and boxy black and white TVs of my youth.

Odi has sent us pictures and a video of Pickles. (In spite of everything they've kept her old name.) She looks sleek and fat and is clearly a general favourite. Even Odi, who has never had a pet before and was resistant to having one now- has fallen in love with her. So that's a satisfactory outcome for all concerned.

More Dreams

Since I'm remembering dreams in some detail I might as well record them.

Dream 1: I'm staying at a country house in Scotland. A man with no legs (he may lack arms as well) manages to wheedle and threaten his way in. I'm not particularly frightened of him, but recognise him as the kind of folkloric character who is best not annoyed. While he settles down for a kip in my father's armchair, his female companion, who looks like a child's drawing of a malevolent fairy, suggests we all go out for dinner in town.

Dream 2: We have acquired a large old tape recorder complete with recordings of a seance. We play these back at what turns out to be a get together of the spirit medium's family, complete with children and grandparents. They are not best pleased. The medium's husband is the same person as the Rumplestiltskin character in dream 1. (I have borrowed his face from a the presenter of a current TV advert for guide dogs.)

Dream 3: I've gathered together a group of my fellow hotel guests to make a short movie. I own all the equipment and seem to know how to use it. I will direct and work the camera, a girl I knew at University will record the sound. A couple of old men who look like Mr Magoo will play estranged brothers. Their shirt fronts go brown and crispy- burning up from the effort of trying to invent a story line.

Now That's Better

As compensation for a couple of really rather horrible nights, a night of vivid dreams.

Things I dreamed about include: a revolutionary plastic material that miniaturised anything it was wrapped around, flying discs, a secondhand bookshop (there had to be one of those), an elaborate role-playing game from the 1930s, a collection of photographs of dead popes, a rocky beach with fossil ammonites, Rupert Murdoch's Christmas cards, a churchyard near Canterbury.

My favourite bit was where I was in a fantasy movie, playing a grizzled but amiable character in the rebel army (with a sentient loaf of bread as a sidekick) and we were flying through the digitally augmented landscapes of Kent and Sussex.