strange_complex: (Wicker Man sunset)
Following on from the entry I made this morning about reconfiguring my LJ to suit who I am and how I use it in 2010, I'm now about to perform a very minor friendslist cull.

This shouldn't really affect anyone who actually reads my LJ, because I am only removing journals which as far as I can tell are no longer active. I don't actually think the likelihood of those accounts falling into malevolent hands is very high, but I do want to keep my friendslist neat and tidy, and especially to have a clearer sense of how many journals I am actually reading.

If I'm wrong about how abandoned any of the journals I'm removing actually are, and in fact you do still use your journal to read even if you aren't posting much, do please let me know and I will happily re-add you. I will leave this post public so that anyone who has been removed can see why and ask to be re-added if relevant.

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strange_complex: (Wicker Man sunset)
So, as mentioned in my last post, I spent the earlier part of the evening at the opening instalment of the Bradford Fantastic Films Weekend. I bumped into matgb in the station, and then caught up with miss_s_b in the Media Museum bar, looking all Tank Girl-ish with a blond slanty fringe and bicycle-induced bruises, and accompanied by [livejournal.com profile] innerbrat! From the internet! Who scored exactly the same as me on today's Daily Mail poshness test, but nonetheless turned out to have a much posher accent than I have been reading her journal with for the past however-many-years-it-even-is now.

Anyway, we also saw a film! Which was excellent. It wasn't my first time for this one - not even on the big screen, actually, thanks to the Phoenix's late showings back when I used to live in Oxford. But it's probably something like eight to ten years since I saw it now, so it was lovely to have the chance to rediscover it.

The festival director introduced the screening, talking about what a horror classic this film is, and what a loss that Michael Reeves died the following year from a(n accidental?) drug overdose. And he was right - it was definitely a cut above what most horror directors were doing in the late '60s; especially the camera-work. This is obvious from the opening sequence, which appears to present a rural idyll, but gradually homes in on a regular banging sound which turns out to be the noise of someone putting the finishing touches to a hangman's gibbet - a disturbing contrast which really sets the mood for what follows. Throughout the film we get lots of interesting angles and imaginatively-composed shots, although it was a pity they'd felt the need to rely quite so heavily on day-for-night filming. When you've got a character delivering the line, "It must be important, for you to wait for him after dark", the effect is rather compromised if he's doing it in silhouette against a bright blue summer sky, dappled with altocumulus...

Some parts of the script are a bit clunky, especially when people are delivering historical exposition or characters are being established. But that's by no means out of the ordinary for horror scripts of this time. The brutality, though, definitely was out of the ordinary. It wasn't quite as unrelenting as I'd remembered, and was occasionally rather undermined by the use of bad fake waxy blood. But the bleakness of the ending in particular marks it out as quite different from what e.g. Hammer were doing in this period. On the face of it, the good guys have won. But rather than getting your standard-issue uplifting music and romantic embrace, we instead see both the hero and the heroine reduced to a state of near-insanity by the experiences they have been through, and the hero's friends looking on in horror and disgust. That must have been quite a shock to the original audience, and it certainly does suggest that Michael Reeves was gearing up to be a challenging director with some new ideas about how horror should be done.

Meanwhile, of course, we also get the WONDER that is Vincent Price. According to the pre-show talk, Michael Reeves actually wanted Donald Pleasence in the title role - and fair dos to him, because Pleasence would have been awesome too. Stuck with Vincent Price at the insistence of the studio, he basically made it perfectly clear to him that he wasn't the star he wanted, and insisted on Price toning down the greater excesses of his campness - despite the fact that Reeves was less than half Price's age, and this was only his fourth film. Price was so shocked at being spoken to like this that he actually did what Reeves said, and the result is that he oozes with menace and presence throughout, without ever turning into a cartoon villain. Wikipedia tells me that he later considered it one of the best performances of his career, and he may well be right.

PLUS we get Ian Ogilvy, dear to me in particular as Drusus in I Clavdivs, but also from many a happy Sunday morning watching Upstairs, Downstairs over my breakfast. And there are lots of thundering horses and frightened sheep and billowing cloaks and heaving bosoms and suggestively-placed pistols - not to mention the fascinatingly-precise and symmetrical curls of Matthew Hopkins' wig, which I can never quite tear my eyes away from. All in all, a damned fine start to the weekend.

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Holiday!

Tuesday, 4 May 2010 01:34
strange_complex: (Silver Jubilee knees-up)
There will be no research leave updates this week, because the master plan advises that May is 'probably a good point at which to take a clear, structured week off'. And this week I am taking that advice.

Holiday Tiems actually started late on Friday afternoon, when I set off for the station to catch a train to Tunbridge Wells for the wedding of [livejournal.com profile] swisstone and [livejournal.com profile] ladymoonray. I'd never been there before (and of course its reactionary reputation precedes it), but it is all very idyllic and leafy and Edwardian-looking. I stayed at The Royal Wells hotel, where allegedly Queen Victoria liked to go in her youth, but I expect her room was a little bit bigger than mine.

The setting and the ceremony )

The people )

As for the rest of the week, I have spent today busy doing nothing at all. Well, no - I have caught up on LJ, Facebook, emails and the weekend's TV, in between watching the snooker. That is still going on now, and looks like it could go on until about 2 in the morning. Both players are clearly very tense, and playing quite scrappily as a result. At the time of writing I think all of about 6 points have been scored in the last half-hour - or that's how it feels, anyway. But I do not care! I am on holiday, and can stay up as late as I like!

Snooker spoiler under here )

My main goal for the rest of the week is to de-blue my kitchen. Currently, it has duck-egg blue units, bright blue tiles, a pale sparkly blue floor, pale blue doors and blue walls. Even if I liked blue, that would be a bit much. Meanwhile, for some reason, someone has at some point chosen to paint the door-frames and skirting-boards a shade which the half-empty tin left behind in the shed reveals is called 'urban grey'. It's about as attractive as it sounds. So the blue walls and the grey woodwork are going, in favour of pale creams of the type which will complement the remaining blues without overwhelming the room.

I'm also having some local chums round for an election 2010 all-nighter on Thursday, in honour of which I shall be popping into town tomorrow to buy an assortment of red, blue and yellow sweets for consumption when the relevant parties win seats. It should be a good night - clearly it's going to be a very close-run election, and probably also one which has a major long-lasting effect on the political landscape in this country. It's not like the snooker, of course - it's our collective future at stake, not a shiny trophy. But all the more reason to go through it in the company of friends, I think.

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London weekend

Monday, 22 March 2010 13:08
strange_complex: (Twiggy)
My main reason for going to London was to attend a JACT Council meeting on the Saturday morning. I do this every six months, but normally only attend the Ancient History sub-committee (of which I am a member) in the afternoon. This time, though, I was asked to represent our committee on the main Council in the morning, which was quite good fun, actually - I certainly learnt a lot more about how the organisation as a whole works than I knew before.

Sneakily, since my travel to London is being paid for anyway, I usually take the opportunity to catch up while I am there with [livejournal.com profile] rosamicula, so I did just that this time too. I stayed over with her and the lovely [livejournal.com profile] itsjustaname (whose new blonde, 20s-style bob looks fantastic on her), and we were also joined by [livejournal.com profile] qatsi and Mrs. Q. on the Saturday evening for dinner. Much wine was quaffed and conversation enjoyed, while we gorged ourselves on a menu well up to [livejournal.com profile] rosamicula's usual culinary standards: chicken, chorizo and pumpkin pie with absolutely perfect pastry and accompanied by cheesy, creamy mash and veg, followed by an Imperial Purple Penny cake which she has invented in my honour. This mainly featured blackberries, blackcurrants and chocolate, but there was also a secret ingredient which we have all vowed solemnly never to divulge.


The cake in all its purple glory


Since the Ancient History sub-committee itself was not meeting this time, we also had some time free on Saturday afternoon to do a bit of sight-seeing. Friday evening was too full of wine and end-of-week decompression to make decisions about this, so I told [livejournal.com profile] rosamicula that I would just phone her when I came out of the morning's meeting, and she could surprise me with whatever idea she fancied. She came up with the Sir John Soane Museum, which preserves the house of the man who designed the original Bank of England building, and was also a fervent collector of antiquarian curiosities. He treated the house as much as a museum as a residence during his life-time, and it is still more or less as he left it on his death in 1833, in accordance with the terms of his will. It's really amazing - every nook and cranny absolutely crammed full of a bizarre mix of real and reproduction antiquities, including a huge Egyptian alabaster sarcophagus, hundreds of pieces of Roman architectural and funerary sculpture, drawers full of insects (which reminded me, inevitably, of Ghost Light) and models of Classical temples. In fact, it reminded me a very great deal of [livejournal.com profile] big_daz's house, which is much in the same vein only with fewer cremation urns and more commemorative plates.

The journey back wasn't so great, since it involved spending about 40 minutes stuck in Stevenage station while we waited for a broken-down train to be towed out of the way. But I made it back in the end, to curl up with Friday's episode of True Blood and some 'bear crunch' which [livejournal.com profile] rosamicula had sent me away with - nuts, fruit and chocolate, and extremely delicious.

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Via T-Mobile

Wednesday, 27 June 2007 13:36
strange_complex: (Urbs Roma)
Had lunch with [livejournal.com profile] white_hart. Much Who geeking and lovely to catch up with her.

Then went Roman coin shopping. Meant to replace ones that got stolen - but ended up buying rather better ones! Actium issue made by Mark Antony to pay his troops, lovely Claudian bronze and beautiful Republican silver denarius of Roma. Better not carry these ones round in my purse!

Nodnol

Tuesday, 27 June 2006 11:37
strange_complex: (Default)
I'm back from London now, where I had a fabulous time. My various hosts (Friday = Charlotte and Nicolas, Saturday = [livejournal.com profile] mr_tom and [livejournal.com profile] sneerpout and Sunday = [livejournal.com profile] rosamicula) made me feel extremely welcome, cooking me fabulous meals, taking me out to interesting places, providing comfortable beds and generally being a delight to spend time with. Many thanks to all of you, and I hope you will make return visits up to Leeds before long!

I also decided I like London itself more than I'd thought, probably mainly as a function of the rather nice bits of it I got taken to over the weekend. I tend to think of it as grey, grating and tedious to get around, but while there is a strong case to be made for all of that, it does also have places like St. James' Park, the general Whitehall area, Banqueting House, the South Bank area, Borough Market, The Crown pub in Islington, Tate Modern and its very own Mithraeum, all of which combined to make up my weekend there.

My thinking when setting off for the weekend was that I was going primarily to see people, with the location they all happened to live in being of very little importance. But while people remained the primary focus, I'm prepared to concede now that the place turned out to have something to offer, too.

I'm still glad I'm moving to Leeds instead, though.

Party report

Tuesday, 12 July 2005 15:19
strange_complex: (Silver Jubilee knees-up)
So, what about this party we had on Sunday, then?

Well, one thing it certainly was was BIG. Since it was jointly in honour of myself and my mother, we had first agreed on a bunch of actual family and close family friends who knew us both and could be considered 'joint' guests, and then added a further 20 people each whom we invited individually. That meant we had a total of about 60 guests, which was more than manageable space-wise, given the size of my parents' house and garden, but certainly meant a lot of chopping, cooking, setting up tables and pouring people drinks. Luckily, my sister, her partner Nicolas, my auntie Theresa and my Mum's very dear friend Daphne had all arrived one or two days in advance, so we had hordes of eager helpers to get everything set up and running smoothly.

The guests )

The day )

The setting )

The evening )

Before I finish up, I'd like to say how infinitely touched I am by the many people who travelled from far and wide to come on Sunday - especially given the security scare in Birmingham the night before, and the actual bombings in London only two days before that. I LOVED seeing you all, I've missed you lots, and I'm looking forward to the next time I get to see each and every one of you again. Seriously, parties like this would be nothing without the guests - so thank you all for making my day.

Other accounts )

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