Fin juin, j’étais hospitalisé de nouveau, pour contrôler que le crabe n’est pas revenu. Mercredi n’était pas très bon, puisque l’homme dans l’autre lit regardait la télévision tout au long de la soirée (j’ai redécouvert que pour ma part, le football est environ aussi intéressant que des concours de chiens de bergers; mais au moins la Suède a battu le Mexique). Jeudi était meilleur: quand je me suis reveillé de l’anesthésie après l’opération, j’ai été (contre mes attentes) dans l’USI (pas de putain de télé !), et j’y restais avec ma liseuse jusque’à vendredi, quand j’ai quitté l’hôpital.

Et ce lundi, ils m’a dit que le résultat histologique a été aussi négatif. Pour l’instant, ça va.



Andrew Marr: A History of Modern Britain

The first three parts, from Attlee to Callaghan, are very good indeed. I wouldn’t hesitate to compare this first half of the book to works I’d read by T.C. Smout and T. M. Devine. I enjoyed in particular the brilliant analysis (p 262 ff) of ‘the Sixties culture’, with both the realistic reminder that most of what we reminisce about the era (“and that goes for those who were only born later”) was at the time actually experienced by only a relatively small number of people, and the admission that nevertheless, from that time all we do is trying to recycle it in this way or another. (“No new ideas have come since.”)

But the other three parts, from Thatcher to May, are disappointing. Most importantly, the author now, for whatever reason, mentions just now and then, shortly and perfunctorily, things like culture and everyday life of ordinary citizens, and concerns himself almost exclusively with high politics and macroeconomics. I don’t say it isn’t still a good read. For instance, his summary (p 597) of the book as telling “the story of the defeat of politics by shopping”; or the trenchant passage (p 611 ff) explaining that when a 2008 House of Lords Committee report talks about “a small negative impact [of immigration] on the lowest-paid workers”, it means “real hardships for struggling manual workers”, and that such workers, if white, can’t even complain without being accused by the better-off of racism. But generally the high standard of the first half is no longer there.

Added to which, he seems to be unduly kind to Thatcher and unduly harsh on Blair. I considered the idea that it might be my own (opposite) prejudices that made me feel so; but the fact that he deals (without bias) at length with homosexuality in post-war theatre, with the trial followed by the Wolfenden Report, with the arrival of AIDS and so on, but never mentions Section 28, looks to gay me, whether consciously or unconsciously, disingenuous on his part.


Soraidh dhan taigh chlò-bhualadair

Ged na thuirt mi an-dè, ged nach do ghabh mi ach ceithir glainneachan leanna an latha roimhe sin, agus ged a ghabh mi aon ghlainne vodka sa mhadainn, bha an tadhal mu dheireadh agam dhan fhactaraidh (ann am meadhan an Iuchair) glè dhoirbh. Ghuidh an ceannard agus a’ bhana-chunntasair orm tilleadh dhan obair airson ùine fhada.* Ach bha mise cho rùn-suidhichte riuthasan, bhuanaich mi, is aig a’ cheann thall dh’fhàg mi leis am P45 nam phoca (agus Two Fingers le Jake Bugg nam bheul).

Ge-tà, dh’fheum mi deich glainneachan leanna òl tron a’ chòrr dhen DhiLuain sin gus mo nearbhan a shèimheachadh, ’s cha robh e gus DiHaoine gun robh mi air ais aig ceithir leanntan san latha.

* Faireachdain inntinneach, eadar dà sgeul; roimhe seo, ’s mise a bhiodh a’ guidhe air na fastaichean ’s gun cum mi ann am fastadh.


A seasoned relapser

Over the years, I seem to have become an old hand at this. Gone are the days when I kept on boozing till all the money was spent. The trick, of course, is to make sure you have some booze in your place, so as to overcome the most acute withdrawal symptoms, when they arrive, without going to a pub or a bar. That lets you begin to gradually lower your daily doses by spreading them over longer periods of time.

These days, I usually don’t take more than a few weeks since the first drunken night until I can carry on more or less normally again. And after each relapse I seem to have more money left, to tide me over the inevitable unemployment phase, than after the previous one. Why, this last time not even my friends had enough time to notice at all that I was going temporarily seedy once again.


Overly promising

This is too good to be true.

When I finally began looking for a job again, my very first reply to an advert was followed by a call from and an interview with the HR guy as early as the following morning. I naturally knew (it was one of the reasons I applied) the workplace was scarcely a ten-minute walk from my digs, cutting my daily commute by an hour and allowing me to spend the season ticket money otherwise. But I didn’t expect I’d be offered a higher starting pay than what I’d been earning in my former job, and being mostly on night shifts (great on account of my DSPS). Plus some other, minor bonuses, like six weeks of annual leave.

This is too good to be true. I’m afraid some unforeseen snag will prevent me getting this job.


Michael Frayn: The Tin Men

Fairly funny, but not outstandingly so. Same league as, say, P.G. Wodehouse, in my opinion. Except the final chapter, which is brilliant.



He was pretty certain his brain was of the genus Cerebrum Dialectici—a logician’s or child prodigy’s brain, an early-flowering plant already past its best by the age of thirty.
(about Dr. Goldwasser, p 10)


Goldwasser put it to one side. One had to wait for decisions as big as that to ambush one unexpectedly.
(p 32)



Chaidh mi dhan Tesco an-diugh air chois (seach air trama) a-rithist as dèidh nam mìosan. Bha e snog a bhith a’ coiseachd slighe far an robh glè bheag dhe dhaoine, agus ’s e an duais a fhuair mi airson nach robh mi leisg ’s gum faca mi grunn chluaranan grinne fo bhlàth air taobh an loidhne-rèile.


23K+ lemmas

So I’ve read this BBC article telling me a typical native speakers knows 15,000 to 20,000 lemmas in his first language and linking to this test where I could find out how many I knew – not in my first language, but in English. So I took the test. And lo and behold, I ended up with “at least 23,100”, which is allegedly more “than 71% of all native English speakers who have taken this test without regard to age”.

Yes, this is only passive knowledge of the words, in their written form (it’s not so long ago that I’ve discovered, for instance, that that the i’s in finite and infinite are pronounced differently), and there’s the caveat of “without regard to age”, which might theoretically mean I ‘competed against’ a bunch of eight-year-olds, but still, I’m rather chuffed with myself.


Quotes: P.G. Wodehouse: Something New

(see also here)

There are men in this world who cannot rest; who are so constituted that they can only take their leisure in the shape of a change of work.


It isn’t a question of whether I should be happier if I forgot you. I can’t do it. [….] Whatever I may be to you, you are part of me, and you always will be part of me.
(Ashe Marson to Joan Valentine)


James Robertson: To Be Continued

Fittingly I read this novel about a fresh quinquagenarian shortly before becoming one myself, and I did enjoy it, although not as much as a few years ago And the Land Lay Still. Then again, this one is primarily humorous literature, so it’s a bit like comparing apples and oranges. Anyway, if I find myself bored and/or in need of something funny (but not too funny) one day, it’s possible I’ll read it once more.



I have all that a man newly turned fifty can reasonably desire, other than a job, a settled relationship and confidence in the future. And a general feeling of contentment. Apart from these trivial absenses, I am what you might call living the dream.
(Douglas Findhorn Elder)


Georges Simenon: Les nouvelles enquêtes de Maigret

Adolescent, j’aimais beaucoup les histoires avec le commissaire Maigret, surtout l’ambiance, l’atmosphère. Quadragénaire, je les encore aime, mais la fascination n’est plus près d’être qu’elle était autrefois. Par contre, je m’ai très beaucoup étonné de moi-même, parce que je pouvais lire les romans sans avoir à utiliser un dictionnaire trop souvent.


Norman Maclean: The Leper’s Bell: The Autobiography of a Changeling

Like the first time round, even though expecting it now, I was fascinated how different and the same time how similar the author and me (and our life stories) were. Were, because sadly and disturbingly Tormod MacGill-Eain died shortly after I began this rereading.


I also noted down some new quotations:

With the help of alcohol I had found myself. Or, more accurately, I had discovered within me many selves, all of them infinitely more interesting and exciting than the douce little swot with the culturally mixed background who existed before this dramatic introduction to C2H5OH.

So grateful have I been for the assistance afforded to what essentially was a timid, insecure, confused boy by drug alcohol that never, during the succeeding fifty years, did I make a serious attempt to terminate for good a relationship which systematically and inexorably destroyed every single facet of human endeavor in which I engaged.

I could not deny that there was a hole in my life where drinking used to be.

What was wrong was that my life had become increasingle marginalized. I’d move from one place to another prompted by the most nebulous promise of work or money. I lacked continuity.

It is bad enough to be an actor in the wrong play, but it is immeasurably worse when you find this out and you no longer have the strength to fight that you may get back what you have lost.


Especially the “I lacked continuity.” My own life in three words. Sometimes I think that while most people’s lives could be turned into a novel, mine could more easily be turned into a collection od short stories which have little in common except for the main character.


Robert Aitken: Taking the Path of Zen

A sort of ‘Teach Yourself Zazen” book, quite readable. It didn’t turn me into a Buddhist, and I don’t think I’ll ever be rich enough to be able to try and do zazen ‘properly’, going to a monastery for a sesshin and so on, but I promised myself, oce I’ve got the immense backlog of tasks, accumulated during my rehab and protected housing stays, down to a sensible level, to try short daily zazen sessions and see if it will really improve my concentration, because the older I get, the more rambling my mind seems to be.


Content on Twitter

One of the companies who felt it necessary to ask me to look over how they comply with the recently-come-into-force GDPR was Twitter. I did look it over; what amazed me wasn’t the section on privacy, but the one on content. Under the heading Your Rights and Grant of Rights in the Content they begin with

“You retain your rights to any Content you submit, post or display on or through the Services. What’s yours is yours — you own your Content (and your incorporated audio, photos and videos are considered part of the Content).”

and immediately follow this with

“By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed). This license authorizes us to make your Content available to the rest of the world and to let others do the same. You agree that this license includes the right for Twitter to provide, promote, and improve the Services and to make Content submitted to or through the Services available to other companies, organizations or individuals for the syndication, broadcast, distribution, promotion or publication of such Content on other media and services, subject to our terms and conditions for such Content use. Such additional uses by Twitter, or other companies, organizations or individuals, may be made with no compensation paid to you with respect to the Content that you submit, post, transmit or otherwise make available through the Services.”

Astonishing. Basically they say that if I post there, say, support for Brexit, they can change the post to say I am against it – and the post still remains “mine”. A useful reminder that the website should be used solely for reading and watching amusing posts, and coming across links to serious content on other websites.

I have to admit, though, that I’m too scared of finding a similar clause in WordPress’ Terms of Service to actually check it up.


Poids inconnu

Je sais bien que je suis décharné. Mais je ne sais pas combien je pèse exactement.

Ouais, j’ai acheté un pèse-personne électronique à JYSK. Néanmoins . . . ça ne me dérange pas qu’il y a une différence de quelques hectogrammes lorsque je marche sur lui pour la deuxième fois après une minute. Mais quand l’indication du soir est 56.3 kg, et, après un souper et un sommeil, l’indication du matin est 51.7 kg, comment puis-je compter sur un tel pèse-personne ? Certes je n’ai pas perdu plus de quatre kilos durant sept heures du sommeil ?

Je vais essayer de me peser juste après me reveiller pour quelques jours, et si ça ne marche pas, peut-être acheter une nouvelle pile, mais je suis pas sûr qu’il changera rien. De toute façon, pour l’instant je sais seulement que je pèse quelque chose entre cinquante et soixante kilogrammes . . .



My attitude towards my current employment is often somewhat ambiguous.

For instance, it’s one in a printing house, my favourite working environment, but I’ve ended up operating a “folding carton gluing machine”, the worst finishing operation for me, as one can only check the quality of the product by destroying it. (And since two of the other operators have recently given their notices, it seems I’m, err, glued to it.)

Or the commute: there are stretches without a pavement, preventing me from walking the whole way; on the other hand, I’ve discovered that the length of the bus journeys enables me to take out my Kindle and read a few pages of some book. Or the occasional additional shifts, good on account of the extra money, but in combination with shift work (preferable in itself) sometimes meaning I get no ‘weekend’ worth the name at all.

All in all, I blow hot and cold: congratulating myself on having this work when the job currently at hand goes fine, considering leaving when it doesn’t.


Terry Pratchett: The Carpet People

The author’s first published work, come out in the year the author turned 23, rewritten and republished in the year he turned 44, the year he also published his 13th Discworld novel, Small Gods, it is on par with an average Discworld novel.



It’s all superstition, of course, but that’s not to say it isn’t real.
(Pismire, p 13)


It’s hard to explain. Or easy to explain and hard to understand.
(Noral, p 43)


Pismire didn’t know why, but he felt sure that everything was going to be all right.
Or, at least, more all right than it was now.
(Pismire, p 102)