Saturday, November 11, 2006

Today's picture is by the immensely talented Serena, over at

Some fabulous comments over the last few days - I'm intrigued by the anonymous Commenter(s?). Virginia Woolf has often been credited with the quote: "For most of history, anonymous was a woman." Whether this is true or not remains a mystery, but don't worry - Enola Holmes and Nancy Drew have teamed up and are on the case. Stay tuned/answers on a postcard (or comments form) for the identity (identities?) of our own anonymous Anonymous.

It's been an undramatic but hugely enjoyable day at Cheverton Heights. Although nothing particularly exciting has happened (yet - my sister is visiting this evening), I've had a great official Saturday off, which has not happened in months.

The Heights are not immaculate, but do now resemble a place where someone lives, rather than lives out of, and it feels more homely here once more as a result, some of the magic has come back.

G and I stopped for coffee and a slice of pizza at a cafe in Palmerston Road this afternoon and shared a table with an already tea-sipping customer as the place was overflowing. Our brief chat with the lovely lady reminded me how common table-sharing is in the States and how infrequently by comparison it happens here. There is a definite difference in interpersonal boundaries that I found highly noticeable and initially disarming in the States.

I liked our brief chat with the anonymous tea-sipper: she was learning Italian, her mother is an Italian and she seemed to chide herself for not having learnt her language before now. She commented on how she much preferred sharing a table, that it allowed the same level of privacy as sitting alone (for most of the time we had shared the table, she had been studying her Italian text) yet allowed the comfort of company. I liked that, and I liked her the more for saying it. I think a lot of people wouldn't have.

Anyhoo, my sister is due any second, so I'll end this entry with a poem by Jane Yolen:

Fat is Not a Fairy Tale

I am thinking of a fairy tale,

Cinder Elephant,
Sleeping Tubby,
Snow Weight,
where the princess is not
anorexic, wasp-waisted,
flinging herself down the stairs.

I am thinking of a fairy tale,
Hansel and Great,
Bounty and the Beast,
where the beauty
has a pillowed breast,
and fingers plump as sausage.

I am thinking of a fairy tale
that is not yet written,
for a teller not yet born,
for a listener not yet conceived,
for a world not yet won,
where everything round is good:
the sun, wheels, cookies, and the princess.

And I urge you again, whether you consider yourself to be a lover of poetry or no, to go and have a look at the 180 poems from the Library of Congress at:

Today's Beautiful Things

1. The evaporation of a bad mood, the transformation into someone marginally nicer

2. Asking why I'm so much harder on the people I love

3. Searching for the right questions

Quote of the Day
To be able to fill leisure intelligently is the last product of civilization, and at present very few people have reached this level.
Bertrand Russell

Song of the Day
Imogen Heap - Speeding Cars

Friday, November 10, 2006


Found this picture at the Saatchi Gallery, called Sneeze, by Dana Schutz - check it out - she even looks like me! Thanks for the lone commentor who wished me well, I'm sure it's why I feel better today. Virtual magic.

I decided to battle through my lurgy and valiantly fight on yesterday, because that's what the Princess Warrior of Culture does. She battles on. However, my boss gave me a brief bemused stare when I arrived.

"You look like crap," she announced firmly.

"Yeah, morning, not feeling too great still actually," I mumbled.

"You shouldn't have come in. Go home, get some rest."

So the Princess Warrior of Culture put away her sword and trampled home again. Where I passed the day lying dramatically on the couch, blowing my nose and coughing and letting out the odd weary wail and sigh every so on. That always makes me feel better.

This morning I feel a bit brighter for it, so my boss at the Museum must have been right. Even about me looking like crap. But hey, that happens to all of us once in a while.

It may be the effects of the lurgy, but my dreams have been really strange lately. You may remember me mentioning yesterday about the delicious man in the hotel lobby.

A lot of my dreams are set in the same place, this big hotel lobby; though funnily enough, not the one of last night's dream. I'm fascinated with recurring dreams that people have. Most people that I've spoken to about it can identify a central motif that has long been a feature of their dreams. Mine is buildings, lots of my dreams are set in ever-changing labyrinthine buildings, and there's always a part of them that turns into a cave. Go figure. I'm pretty sure what Freud made of caves and I don't really want to go there, in any sense. This is a family show.

This morning I checked out the comments on yesterday's blog and as predicted the great hairlessness debate has brought all of the Commentors online. A less enlightened ego than mine might get insecure about the amount of attention the Chief gets, but as I work with him, I know how much curiosity he can inspire. He's just that kind of guy.

For information, the Chief is not married, he's single, and you can reach him on the following cell phone number: Just kidding!

Really, what do you think this: some kind of dating agency for managers? It's the Daily, not, you know.

Unless there was any money in and then I'd drop the Daily like it was hot.

Today's Beautiful Things

1. Getting enough sleep for the first time in ages

2. The enigma of curious dreams

3. Learning to customise Google

Quote of the Day

There is nothing worse than aggressive stupidity.
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

No one really listens to anyone else, and if you try it for a while you'll see why.
Mignon McLaughlin

Thursday, November 9, 2006

The Daily Furore

First for something completely uncontroversial. Here's a picture of a penguin.

Well, who knew that hairlessness (I don't even want to use the other word) could be so controversial. Debate has been raging here at Cheverton Heights (a bit like Trump Towers but not so tall, or opulent) about the exact definition of, erm, well, bald. Some of my best people stepped up and joined the debate, but none of us could agree.

I ended up leaning over my balcony spotting those of limited follicle action and calling to them, "Excuse me, do you self-define as bald? Or receding?" I didn't get many honest responses but I did get a restraining order and an ASBO. The Hudson hair debate will doubtless rage on for many generations to come. My children's children will whisper to one another in their beds, as the adults argue downstairs, shouting loudly over how much - or how little - hair constitutes a receding hairline:

"Why couldn't GG Sarah keep her mouth shut?"

There's a simple answer to that. You know the tale about the scorpion and the fox? If not, here it is:

A scorpion was wandering along the bank of the river, wondering how to get to the other side. Suddenly he saw a fox. He asked the fox to take him across the river.
The fox said, "No. If I do that, you'll sting me and I'll drown."
The scorpion assured him, "If I did that, we'd both drown."
The fox thought about it and finally agreed. So the scorpion climbed up on his back and the fox began to swim. But halfway across the river, the scorpion stung him.
As the poison filled his veins, the fox turned to the scorpion and said, "Why did you do that? Now you'll drown too."
"I couldn't help it," said the scorpion. "It's my nature."

To accidentally begin riotous debates is clearly in mine. Argument follows me like a faithful, if foolish puppy.

As at the moment does a cough and a sniffing nose that's driving me crazy. I thought when I finished work on Tuesday that it had just been a hard day, but when I woke up yesterday, I felt like a huge bunged up sinus with arms and legs. I spent the day at home, rather than down at the Naval Museum, and was not half as productive as I would have liked, but this is one of the perks of working from home, I get to balance my time in a different way. So, although I spent more time sleeping than I normally would during working hours, I can work later to make up for it.

This morning feels little better, although it's now mostly just my head that feels like a sore nerve. I hate being ill, I'm melodramatic and needy throughout the whole process. Today, all I want to do is climb back into the loving arms of my duvet (where I dreamt last night about meeting the loveliest man in an unfamiliar hotel lobby - he bought me a glass of wine and sent shivers through my soul when he said my name - the power of dreams indeed) and sleep until I can wake up and feel normal. I'm sure a day at the RN Museum will make the day pass more pleasantly, swiftly and productively however, so now is the time to battle on. I am Sarah, Princess Warrior of Urban Culture, after all.

So, inspirational quotes for the day:

In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

Whatever you may be sure of, be sure of this, that you are dreadfully like other people.
James Russell Lowell

I love the second one, which really made me laugh. Sometimes we spend a lot of effort trying to be different, but this quote brings that ambition back down to earth with a shocking bump.

Today's Beautiful Things

1. You

2. The man in my dream

3. Chocolate digestives and big mugs of hot tea

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

What Ho Jeeves

I've been considering the nature of the perfect butler. The butler that exists in my mind is a highly intelligent and fundamentally pre-emptive creature, who anticipates my every crisis and whim. An ex of mine used to say that I expected him to act like my butler, as a kind of insult, I think, but I can only say that if he had, the relationship would probably have lasted - is that shallow and selfish?

In a discussion with the Chief by text on the subject of butlers, he comments that Hudson, pictured, from Upstairs, Downstairs was bald. I disagree and have to call my Mum at midnight to confirm it.

"Hi Mum, was Hudson, from Upstairs Downstairs, bald?"

"No, I don't think so. He wasn't when he became Cowley in the Professionals. Why don't you Google it? How much have you had to drink?"

He doesn't look bald to me, but I shall leave it to you, dear Reader.

Now Jeeves, that was the perfect Butler, always sorting out Wooster's messes, highly intelligent and with a central air of mystery. You could never quite imagine what Jeeves did in his spare time. I like that in a butler.

I spent the afternoon slogging over a hot pc to finish a kind of briefing paper for the Council. Louise, or 'frou frou' as she often likes to be known, cheered me up all afternoon by exchanging bits of eighties trivia and acknowledging the masterpiece of the eighties theme tune (yesterday, the A-Team was the choice du jour), which I kept on singing and humming. How the office put up with the amount of noise I make in a working day is beyond me. If I had to work with me, I'd request a transfer.

Whilst looking for a site to entertain Louise with, I stumbled across this:

I was more than impressed with the website, but turns out they are a funky acoustic cover band that only cover eighties hits. This month they're allowing you to download their version of Uptown Girl, which you may or may not be able to resist. Lou sent me back a crazy image in the style of BBC news.

Made me laugh.

Today's Beautiful Things

1. The crisp, crisp cold

2. Laughing with my brother

3. A late night glass of wine

Monday, November 6, 2006

Aurora Borealis

Before you do anything else, remind yourself of the truth of the beauty of this world, entirely in nature at:

At 7am this morning, the world outside my window consisted of white cloud. On the way to work, the Chief and I pondered the difference between mist and fog.

"What is the difference?" I asked.

"This is mist," announced the Chief.

When we arrived at the Culture office, Miss Sally told us, "This is fog."

Fortunately, I was only a Google search away from discovering the difference between the two. Turns out the difference is about 200 metres, because as the BBC report, "visibility has to be less than 200 metres before it can be classed as fog."

So, it turns out Miss Sally was right, as always. One should always pay attention to the Miss Sally's of this world.

My friend Kate has returned home today from Africa. She has been delighting me all evening with tales of South Africa. I was enchanted with her description of Robben Island, which you can discover far more about here:

Kate was shown around Robben Island by a fantastic guide who had also been a former inmate of the Island. The message of 'reconciliation' that runs though the philosophy of Nelson Mandela and those like him struck a powerful chord in me and reminded me, as it did Kate of how small our concerns are when weighed against the realities of our world.

Tonight, Bean has supplied us with a quote from the ever inspiring Bertrand Russell, philosopher, logician and mathematician, who once declared:

The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd. Indeed, in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible."

Today's Beautiful Things

1. The spirit of the office, the singing, the laughing, and the tea and sympathy

2. Kit Kat Kate coming home!

3. Sacred Harp singers, again - I can't get enough of the sound these people make

Sunday, November 5, 2006

The Elfin Blogger's Hard Day

How can you tell a blogger who's had a heavy weekend? The virtual silence.

This feels like a relationship conversation, but I think we need to get it all out in the open. I'm tired of apologising to you and you're tired of hearing it, so we need to agree: I know it's called The Daily, I know that people check it on that basis, but sometimes - and they will be few - I will not be able to post. It doesn't mean I don't care anymore, and it certainly doesn't mean I have nothing to say (as if), but sometimes I just can't make it to a pc. You just have to trust me, I will always come back.

For anyone who didn't know, I spent Friday night in Norwich visiting my friend Howard, and most of yesterday in rehab. Howard has an amazing power for bringing people together at very short notice; for this reason we call our swiftly convened meetings 'The Presidential Summits.' This power to unify folk is strongly related to how much we all adore him, but don't tell him that, it might go to his head.

It was magical as always to see Howard, and I love the atmosphere of these rapidly organised gatherings, this time at his parents' house in Wymondham (pronounced, in typical English fashion, Win-dum). About a dozen of us, including Howard's family and children came together to meet up on Friday, with a hard core of (the heavy drinkers among) us staying up for most of the night at the gorgeous Tim and Vanessa's house. It was great to see everyone, awful to say goodbye the next morning and terrible to get home with a hangover the size of Drunksville, Arizona. The only cushion to the painful blow of saying goodbye to Howard was the knowledge that I'm going to fly out to Canada for a holiday in January.

Worse still, this morning I woke to another working day finishing the first draft of a survey I've been working on for a not-for-profit organisation in London. This I duly finished about half an hour ago at 22.30 (military time) and I am knackered, with a capital Knack.

Still, I see why Shakespeare described the act of saying goodbye as 'such sweet sorrow,' because it is only as we let someone go that we appreciate how much they mean to us. In a way, I was glad to be working today as it gave me no time to get down and teary with my bad self.

At first I felt sorry for myself and reluctant to return to what I at first perceived as the daily drudge and grind that my brief sojourn had succeeded in removing me from. However, inspired by last week's viewing of Elizabethtown, I keep comforting myself with the thought that "If it wasn't this, it would be something else." Anyone who wishes to make me a t-shirt with this on it is more than welcome, especially if it comes with one that reads 'Destined for Greatness.'

So, what's the deal with the Chief then? I've got some of you announcing to me in person: "Enough already with the Chief!" and now a comment from Friday demanding to hear news of him! I'm seriously considering setting up a blog, 'Adventures of the Chief' but the sneaking suspicion that it would get more hits than mine is stopping me right now.

My Alan Lomax cd's had arrived when I returned home and, having just packed up my work for the day these are playing on the stereo. I'm going to crack myself a Bud and listen to these before bed, sore but satisfied (as the actress said to the bishop). The worst thing about working on a computer all the time is the knitting contest taking place in my shoulders and neck, but at least it will keep my huge Swedish male masseuse busy (I wish).

The Big Three

1. Howard telling a long story involving a fire alarm, a lot of alcohol and some clever subterfuge: "Yes, I saved the day that night."

2. Owen and Lauren

3. Living like I'm 19 again

This poem is taken from the American Library of Congress' Poem of the Day site. Check out this amazing resource at:

Bad Day by Karen Ryan

Not every day

is a good day
for the elfin tailor.
Some days
the stolen cloth
reveals what it
was made for:
a handsome weskit
or the jerkin
of an elfin sailor.
Other days
the tailor
sees a jacket
in his mind
and sets about
to find the fabric.
But some days
neither the idea
nor the material
presents itself;
and these are
the hard days
for the tailor elf.

From Say Uncle, 2000
Grove/Atlantic, Inc