strange_complex: (Tonino reading)
One of the things that happened when I moved into my lovely proper new house here in Leeds is that I finally took possession of all the accumulated gubbins which I had left behind with my parents when I first moved out at the age of 18. Mainly, this meant the books of my childhood and my teens - with which I am now at leisure to get nostalgically re-acquainted.

The Oz books were, in no uncertain terms, the central axis of my childhood. In fact, see this picture of me reading to my little friends on my sixth birthday? )
Well, that's an Oz book I'm reading to them - The Land of Oz, I think, judging from the colour of the spine. I had all fourteen of the original L. Frank Baum series, in lovely bright paperback covers as published by Del Rey, and read them religiously and repeatedly from the ages of approximately four to seven years old. (I had a random hardback copy of Lucky Bucky in Oz, too, but even as a child, I sneered at it and looked down upon it for not being a 'proper' Oz book). Dorothy, the Wizard, Ozma and all their little friends were fiercely real to me, and I was quite, quite convinced that the magical Land of Oz existed, if only one knew how to get there.

This all got a bit longer than is really polite to leave uncut )

May morning

Monday, 1 May 2006 07:58
strange_complex: (Wicker Man sunset)
We totally made it through the night: me and Spiky Neil playing Worms and Puzzle Bobble, and then [livejournal.com profile] oxfordgirl joining us for the ritual viewing of The Wicker Man, and by then it was 4am and time to start phoning people like [livejournal.com profile] redkitty23 and [livejournal.com profile] stompyboots to chivvy them up and out for meeting at the tower.

It rained, but the freshness was perfect, and we walked in clutching sprigs of cherry blossom, me feeling more alive and alert than I think I've ever felt on May morning before, despite having been in such a state of extreme tiredness on Saturday that I was seriously afraid I was about to suffer internal organ failure or something.

And we had the best spot ever, right at the base, and when the Hymnus Eucharisticus rang out, I gazed up through the rain at the impossibly looming tower, held my blossom aloft and felt the hush and the still and the awakening summer all around me, and remembered all the previous times and the powerful magic of the morning and cried softly to think I might never be there again.

And then it was a damp picnic and dancers in the Radcliffe Camera Square, and some guy taking pictures of me and [livejournal.com profile] oxfordgirl laughing and waving our blossoms, and a physical manifestation of Apollo, and champagne and free hot chocolate and giggling at the extreme spaced-outness of [livejournal.com profile] stompyboots, [livejournal.com profile] edling and Cat WINOLJ.

And then it was home, and crash and burn, and my fingers feel like putty now on the keyboard. I think I may possibly need to sleep for a very long time, very, very soon.

But I'm so glad I did it, because I LOVE OXFORD. And it tears my heart to think I must leave it all behind. :(

This post brought to you by sleep deprivation and Piper Heidseick champagne.
strange_complex: (Sleeping Hermaphrodite)
I've been watching You Rang M'Lord while I ate my tea: it's being repeated at the moment on UKTV Drama. A bit of Googling has informed me that it first aired in December 1988, when I was all of twelve, and I remember enjoying it very much at the time. I'm now having the pleasure of rediscovering it, and finding out that my taste as a twelve-year-old was not as poor as I'd assumed. It may not be high art, but it does some interesting things with the inevitable main theme of class tensions, and some quite surprising things with its characters and the relationships between them.

In particular, now that I'm older and more 'media aware', I'm really quite impressed that it featured an explicitly lesbian cross-dresser as a regular character: Cissy, one of the two daughters of the house. OK, so the impact is watered down by the fact that the series as a whole is set in what is effectively a fantasy otherworld, and that the primary function of her lesbianism really seems to be to help portray the family as decadent toffs. But still, some credit is surely due for challenging boundaries there.

I certainly remember myself being fascinated and amazed by the character at the time. Just one of many things which now cause me to look back and wonder why it took me so damned long to fully recognise my own sexuality. Ah, well - better late than never.

In other news, I feel utterly crummy tonight, and though I'm supposed to be going to the pub with the [livejournal.com profile] oxgoths, I suspect the evening will in fact end in an early retirement with a hot water bottle. I'll see how I feel in half an hour, but that bed is definitely calling...

60 hours

Wednesday, 31 August 2005 09:44
strange_complex: (Default)
Pretty much all the companies who really need to know I'm moving now do, although I still haven't managed to get through to an actual human being at Nationwide. My office is packed up; the house is starting to happen today. Got up bright and early this morning to go to Tesco's and pick up some extra boxes, and since then it's been coffee and getting down to it.

Last night I went out for dinner with [livejournal.com profile] davesangel at the Apartment, a funky little bar-restaurant in town where they do a damn fine two-course meal for two plus a bottle of wine for £28 all told. They have large plate-glass windows overlooking the splendid neo-classical City Hall, and we were lucky enough to get placed at a table which must have had one of the best views in the venue. It's almost like the waiter knew I was going. We gossiped, giggled and discussed HP fanfic, while the sun faded from the sky and the lights came up in the square below. Afterwards, I walked home rather than get the bus, for the sake of some final quality time alone in the dark with Belfast.

It seems that almost everything I do at the moment is unpleasantly overshadowed by the word 'Last'. There was my Last Lecture back in June, my Last Cornucopia almost a month ago, my Last Supervision on Friday, giving back my Last Library Book and having a Last Hot Chocolate in Café Conor yesterday, my Last Time in the city centre last night, several people I know I've already said my Last Goodbyes to, and a whole slough more to add to that by the end of the evening - for tonight is the Last Sci-Fi Meeting.

I am going to get tearful by the end of this week: I can feel it coming.

Friends here in Belfast are plotting to sabotage the ferry which will take me away on Friday night so I can't go, or offering to murder my choice of the QUB Ancient History staff so I can take their jobs and stay on. Then again, on the other side of the equation I'm starting to get texts, LJ comments and emails from people in England checking when I'm coming back, and telling me how excited they are about it and what we'll do when I've returned. I already have the St. Giles' fair to look forward to next Tuesday, and B-Movie the following weekend.

Keep it up, English people - it means more to me than I can say right now.

La Sorella

Sunday, 21 August 2005 20:45
strange_complex: (Default)
Well, my sister, Charlotte and her partner, Nicolas, should be in the air on their way home to England now. We had a really enjoyable weekend together: for them, mainly exploratory; for me, nostalgic.

On the Saturday, we took a coach tour up along the east coast of NI to the Giant's Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge and other attractions. The weather really came up trumps, presenting us with possibly the hottest, brightest day I've experienced since I moved to NI, and meaning that we were more worried about slapping sun-cream on every five minutes than whether our umbrellas were going to blow away (a more normal problem round here). The sun brought out the best in the scenery: Nicolas enjoyed taking fabulous pictures of it with his posh digital camera; I enjoyed taking snap-happy ones with my £7.97 Tesco's number.

The only down-side to the day was the moment our coach juddered to a halt in the middle of the road... having apparently run out of diesel! We could have gotten pretty cheesed off with the driver at this point for being dim enough to let that happen, but he was such a good-humoured chap, who'd been cracking jokes with us all along the way, that we just took it in our stride. He did save the day, anyway, by managing to coax it back to life no less than three times - just enough finally to roll, engineless, into a petrol station in Portrush. He arranged for some people on the coach who were doing an optional extra tour of a whisky distillery (not including us) to be picked up by another driver in the area and taken onwards, while a bunch of those of us who remained pushed the coach the final four feet needed to get it within reach of the diesel pump, and pretty soon we were on our way again to enjoy our time at the Giant's Causeway.

In the end, we got home a couple of hours later than intended, but we didn't feel we'd missed out on anything we'd expected to see, so the diesel episode just became all part of the fun. I have a photo of the driver grinning sheepishly as he filled up the tank, and can now say I've helped to push a broken-down coach! Oh, and I also managed to pick up excellent birthday presents for both [livejournal.com profile] damien_mocata and [livejournal.com profile] finthecat for their birthdays next weekend, which I'm pretty sure they'll love.

Today was much more lazy, after the long day yesterday. We got up around 11ish, gathered ourselves together, and headed down for lunch in the Crown Liquor Saloon. The skies were grey, and by the time we'd finished our lunch it was raining. But we decided to do the tourist bus anyway, especially when we saw that the company who do it had got their covered buses on the route in response to the weather. It wasn't much of a photo opportunity due to the rain-streaked windows, but interesting nonetheless. Finally, we had a nose around the University, and the Botanic Gardens given that the rain had eased off again, and then it was time to drop them at the Europa bus station for their bus to the airport.

That's the last time I'll act as host in NI, and funnily enough it was for the exact same two people that I hosted in Oxford for the last time before I left there last year. The next person who arrives to see me here will be my Dad, with a big van ready to take me home. Home? Yes - it still is, is the honest truth.
strange_complex: (Fred shall we dance)
I'd intended not to do too much dancing last night at Cornucopia, after boogieing round half of Belfast in the hot sun yesterday at the Pride Parade. But who am I to resist a dance floor and a beat? In the end I danced copiously, whilst also enjoying watching a certain young lady get friendlier and friendlier with a handsome gentleman nearby. Her night ended up with snogging outside the venue door and a big grin in the taxi home. Bless! :)

It was a great night, and a great follow-on from the Pride Parade. The absence of people like [livejournal.com profile] captainlucy, [livejournal.com profile] davesangel and [livejournal.com profile] finthecat, who are all abroad, was felt, but the music was excellent, the dancing superb, and of course we did have the addition of the lovely [livejournal.com profile] kuro_ryoushi for her first Cornie as a Belfast resident. I must have looked pretty fine, too, because about ten people told me so over the course of the evening - some of them complete strangers who'd come over for the express purpose of doing so.

Yet it was sad night also, because for me it was my last Cornie as a Belfast resident. I may only have made about four out of the twelve Cornucopias (or Cornucopiae, strictly speaking) which have been on while I've been here, but it isn't just the night itself, is it? It's what it represents - a focal hub for a group of people I've come to know and love, in a city I've come to know and love, where I can do things I love to do (viz. dressing up and dancing). I spent quite a lot of time towards the end of the evening sitting watching Underworld which was being projected, silently, on a big screen, and feeling all pre-emptively achy with the wrench of having to leave.

Anyone who chose to consult my livejournal archive for around this time last year would find a series of increasingly maudlin and nostalgic posts, prompted by the imminent prospect of having to leave Oxford. Posts like this one, for instance. I remember feeling the same thing when I left Bristol after doing my degree there, too. And now it's starting here, and the fact that I'll be leaving Belfast to return to last year's object of pining and regret doesn't seem to be doing anything to ease the pain. It doesn't matter - I've invested emotionally in Belfast now, so wherever I was going on to, it would hurt to leave.

Heu, I really hope this coming academic year turns out to be the last one for which I'm working on a short-term contract with an uncertain future. There are only so many times I can go through this. :(

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