Bookmarks: stuck

This is becoming ridiculous. Every day I stop ‘following’ another website or two, every night I tell myself the next day would be primarily dedicated to cutting down the number of ‘to-read’ article bookmarks, yet the following night I find out there were so many new ones the number is only slightly lower than the night before, if it’s not in fact even higher. If this was my first year on the internet I could put it down to beginner’s infatuation with it, but I have recently begun my tenth …



Indyref2 en attente

La semaine dernière, Nicola Sturgeon a décidé qu’un nouveau référendum ne va pas être organisé entre la fin de 2018 et le début de 2019. (Cependant, selon elle il va « probablement » être organisé avant la fin de 2021.) Elle a raison. Dans les paroles de Theresa May, « maitenant n’est pas le temps ». Maitenant, un tel référendum serait sans aucun doute un échec. Il y avait déjà trop de référendums et d’éléctions dans cette décennie.



Occasionally I treat myself to some moderate profligacy. Having read an article about rosemary smell possibly enhancing memory, I bought a bottle of essential oil, and an aromatherapy candle holder or diffuser or whatever it’s properly called. Despite the fact that normally I would snort over a research carried on only 40 participants.

(I did snort when I later learnt I was one of a crowd. The mitigating factor is that one of the reasons I succumbed to the whim was the fact that rosemary is mentioned in the title of one of my favourite Simon & Garfunkel albums.)

I burn a candle under the oil bath daily, usually when working on my languages’ vocabularies and/or when meditating. Sure, I’ve no idea whether it actually has any effect, there are too many other variables. But the smell is pleasant, and I’ve always had a soft spot for candles anyway; somehow this makes burning one even more gratifying.



Some English schoolboys protested against having to wear long trousers during the latest heatwave by wearing skirts instead, and apparently won their fight.

Good on them, but interestingly the photos show them in buttoned-up shirts and ties, which reminds me of all those guys wearing shorts, even sandals – and zipped-up fleece tops. I could never understand this. Maybe it’s down to my blood circulation, but as far as I’m concerned, the chest and neck get unpleasantly hot long before the legs. I’m more likely to feel comfortable naked to the waist, while below it wearing heavy-duty denims, thick socks and boots.

So I find it much more understandable when John Bercow accepts tie-less MPs in the House of Commons.


Còrdadh eadar Tòraidhean is DUP

Dar a thig an naidheachd gun do rinn na Tòraidhean agus an DUP co-aonta eatorra mu dheireadh thall, smaointich mi mu dheidhinn na prìse agus mu dheidhinn riaghaltas Èireann a Tuath: Cia às a thèid am billean? Cò gheibheas maoineachadh nas ìsle gus ‘Maybot’ a chumail mar phrìomhaire? Agus ciamar as urrainn dha na Tòraidhean leigeil orra gu bheil iad neo-phàirteach, gu bheil iad nan ‘honest broker’?

Ach dar a leugh mi, beagan làithean na b’ fhaide, aiste le Martin Kettle, anns a tha e ag ràdh gun do rinn May bùrach dheth agus nach soirbhich na còmhraidhean ann an Stormont a-nis, thig e a-steach orm gur dòcha gur e seo ’s a bha i ag iarraidh bho thùs: cumaidh i sa chathair, agus bi eadhon tuilleadh cumhachd aice dar a thòisicheas riaghladh dìreach Westminsteir as dèidh dhan DUP agus SF fàilligeadh air ruigsinn còrdadh eatorrasan.

Agus ge be dè a bhios Rùnaire Stàite Èireann a Tuath ag agairt, tha an suidheachadh a’ dol an taobh sin. “James Brokenshire has indicated Westminster will step in soon and impose a budget.” ’S mathaid gun cùm May grèim air a’ bhillean aig a cheann thall?



Il y a huit ans, quand la population du monde était en dessous de sept milliards, j’ai cité Christopher Isherwood, ou plutôt Mr Lancaster.

Aujourd’hui, l’ONU dit qu’il va y avoir dans six ans plus de huit milliards.

Voici la citation pleine: “They breed like vermin. That’s the real menace of the future, Christopher. Not war. Not disease. Starvation. They’ll spawn themselves to death.”

Et même si la planète pourrait continuer à nourrir les nombres en hausse, il reste le problème mentionné par Kurt Vonnegut en Abattoir 5 ou la Croisade des enfants:

O’Hare had a little notebook with him, and […] he came across this, which he gave me to read:

On an average, 324,000 new babies are born into the world every day. During that same day, 10,000 persons, in an average, will have starved to death or died from malnutrition. So it goes. In addition, 123,000 persons will die for other reasons. So it goes. This leaves a net gain of about 191,000 each day in the world. The Population Reference Bureau predicts that the world’s total population will double to 7,000,000,000 before the year 2000.

“I suppose they will all want dignity,” I said.

“I suppose,” said O’Hare.

Je ne suppose pas qu’ils vont l’obtenir.



Uill, chan eil an àrd-dhotair buileach cinnteach fhathast, ach cho-dhùin e mu dheireadh thall gu bheil coltachd mhòr ann gun deach at na h-aillse à sealladh. Dh’aontaich e cuideachd gun urrainn dhaibh a’ chuisle PhEG a tharraing às mo stamag.

Drochaid-choise thar Allt a’ Choire Odhair Mhòir

Chan e seo toiseach ùr. Gidheadh, ’s e a’ chiad cheum air slighe ùr, as dèidh nam mìosan dar a bha e coltach nach biodh tèile ann tuilleadh; ’s dòcha gu bheil beagan ama ri teachd romham fhathast.

Feumaidh mi a-nis faighinn air ais dhan rehab agus an uairsin, nas fhaisge air mo sheana-charaidean. Bha mi a’ grodadh san bhugair bhaile seo ro fhada.


BBC One: Growing Up with Cancer

All right, so I’d got cancer. Maybe I’ll be told tomorrow the chemoradiotherapy worked just fine and the tumour has gone. Maybe not. But I’m in my late forties, and had lost just about everything a couple of years previously anyway.

But reportedly seven UK teenagers a day are diagnosed with cancer too. This programme looks at a few of these, some of whom went (or are about to go) through a more drastic treatment than me. Spending what should be the best days of their lives fighting a disease.

Presumably, scarcely any of them will ever receive an OBE, but they’re heroes all the same, if only for not breaking down. I simply admire them and wish them all good luck.



The most astonishing aspect of the latest Queen’s Speech was the reported reaction of the Association of Residential Letting Agents:

“A ban on letting agent fees will cost the sector jobs […]” – so far, so good, nobody wants to see jobs in his line of work go;

“[…] make buy-to-let investment even less attractive […]” – which actually promises pushing down the costs for common people needing a roof, rather than increasing the income of those already filthy rich;

” […] and ultimately result in the costs being passed on to tenants.” – and this is simply disingenuous: the middleman as a guardian of lower prices? Come off it …


Cola-deug beagan trang

An t-seachdain sa chaidh, b’ e Diluain le sgana PET/CT (nach robh cho dona ris a’ chiad fhear an-uiridh), Diciadain le tadhal air a’ bhan-lighiche, agus Diardaoain ann an roinn na h-eòlais-aillse. Mar a bha dùil agam, bha toraidhean a’ PhET/CT gealltanach gun a bhith deimhinnte, coltach ri toraidhean a’ bhiopsy is CT ‘àbhaisteach’ romhpa.

An t-seachdain seo, b’ e a’ bhan-dotair-teaghlaich air sgàth nòta pàighidh thinneis fhaighinn an-diugh, tadhal air mo mhàthair a-màireach (thàinig i a bhaile faisg airson greis dar a tha m’ athair ann am baile-spatha eile), agus fibroscopy Dihaoine. Mura bhios sin deimhinnte, bidh biopsy eile romham. Gidheadh, bu chòir dha seachdain no dhà gun choinneamh sam bith a bhith agam an uairsin.


Westminster Confession of Faith

Interesting. Basically it says, “Whether you end up in heaven or in hell is entirely up to God’s whim, but you should try and be a good Christian for His greater glory notwithstanding”. Some passages are in fact more of a horror than James Hogg’s The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner; other ones reminded me of George Orwell’s doublethink.


La psy

Ça a été très court : probablement, elle a été contente que je veuille aller au centre de désitoxication moi-même, et donc je ne vais pas la faire perdre son temps. Elle a même déjà écrit la lettre pour m’y adresser dès que je serai guéri (certes, si je serai guéri).



Agus gnìomh eile ‘tasglannach’ air a choileanadh: tar-sgrìobhadh an leabhair leam le truaill-chainnt agus gnàthasan-cainnte èibhinn (a’ mhòr-chuid dhiubh èibhinn gu do-rùnaichte) dhan fhaidhle theacsa. Bha fiù agus an tìde agam airson am faidhle a chur chun nan càirdean bhon cholaiste ris a chumas mi suas fhathast, agus gu Rob.

Bha fhios agam gun robh mòran fhealla-dhà bhon cholaiste is bho Sheirbheis Nàiseanta ann, ach chur e iongnadh orm dè cho mòran ’s a bha ann bho na bliadhnaichean as dèidh sin. Gus deach mi dhan rehab. Tha fhios nach robh mòran ann as dèidh sin, agus mi a’ cur seachad an àm saor agam air an eadar-lìon, seach a’ coinneachadh ri daoine ann an taighean-seinnse.


Robert Louis Stevenson: Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes

Allegedly one of the very first hiking travelogues, Stevenson’s book is a pleasant account of a twelve-day trip in his late twenties over a mountain range in southern France, accompanied only by a jenny to help with carrying his gear.



But we are all travellers in what John Bunyan calls the wilderness of this world—all, too, travellers with a donkey: and the best that we find in our travels is an honest friend. He is a fortunate voyager who finds many. We travel, indeed, to find them. They are the end and the reward of life.

To make good resolutions, indeed! You might talk as fruitfully of making the hair grow on your head.

And yet even while I was exulting in my solitude I became aware of a strange lack. I wished a companion to lie near me in the starlight, silent and not moving, but ever within touch. For there is a fellowship more quiet even than solitude, and which, rightly understood, is solitude made perfect.

I have never thought it easy to be just, and find it daily even harder than I thought. I own I met these Protestants with a delight and a sense of coming home. I was accustomed to speak their language, in another and deeper sense of the word than that which distinguishes between French and English; for the true Babel is a divergence upon morals.


Book shopping spree

What do you do when you find out the debit card for your bank account abroad will expire soon, and you have no way of preventing the bank from sending a new one to the address where you used to stay there except by phoning them – but you suffer from phone phobia?

You spend a fifth of the remaining balance on buying all the (thirteen) Kindle books you’d noted down for buying gradually in the future, send another fifth to your best friend still in that country, and transfer the rest to your account where you stay now, only leaving a token amount in the old one.

The ‘Unread’ (meaning ‘not even begun’) collection on my Kindle now contains 27 items. Enough to read not only for the rest of this year, but also for the next I guess, especially given I like rereading one of my favourites every now and than. (But I do feel like I’ve lost another link to the country of my heart …)


BBC II!: Queer Britain

Apparently people like me weren’t exactly amongst the target audience. I didn’t grow up in a religious environment; never cared about my ‘body image’ enough to seriously try and improve it; never actually ended up on the streets (so far anyway); I’m white, and never was knowingly a victim of racism; I found the fact the ‘porn’ episode was about 10 minutes longer than the rest … droll; and I’m perfectly cisgender.

That being said, I knew people got kicked out by their orthodoxly religious parents; I knew people ended up on the streets because there was no helping hand for them; and I knew there was more racism in our minds (yes, yours and mine as well) than an average middle-class Guardian reader is able to admit. In other words there was some boredom and no ‘revelations’.

And yet I don’t consider watching the whole series a waste of time. It probably gave me some idea what today’s young LGBTQIAPCDEFHJKMNORSUVWXYZ+++* are concerned with; and if the truth be told, there was one revelation after all: that these days, a masculine male cisgender gay probably shouldn’t call himself ‘queer’, as I’d used to do, because the meaning of the word has shifted again.

* You say the initialism doesn’t use all the letters of the alphabet? Just you wait …


Fiaclaire mu dheireadh thall

B’ e àm fada on a thadhail mi air, agus bha m’ fhiaclan-cùil clì goirt gu tric, ach cha bu dàna leam a dhol ann leis mar a chruthachadh m’ amhaich seile is lionn-cuirp. Dar a dh’fhàs seo rudeigin na b’ fheàrr, chaidh mi ann, on a dh’iarr mi deit fhaighinn roimhe biopsy eile nam biodh fear ann. Ach ’s ann cha mhòr sa bhad a bha mi nam shuidhe sa chathair, agus as dèidh dham fiaclaire dà fhiacaill a chàradh, thuirt e nach robh a dhìth orm tighinn a-rithist ach sa gheamhradh. Bha sin cho luath nach robh àm agam fàs mì-chofhurtail. Ceum beag eile air adhart …


General election 2017

Ten nights after the one following the polling day I should be able to write this without being too verbose. Even though my attitude towards the results remains rather ambivalent …

At first sight it’s great that Tories lost the overall majority. But one wonders whether a situation where Theresa May can only continue as the PM (which is by now obviously her primary, if not only, concern) by making a deal with the DUP isn’t actually even worse. Both on account of Northern Ireland, because there’s no way anybody could stay neutral in the current negotiations while being held in power by one of the two main opposing parties – even a Tory can see this; and on account of the rest of the UK, despite whatever Ruth Davidson may think (it seems this picture needs some retouching).

Likewise, while the UKIP failure looks fine, one mustn’t forget they only failed because Tories began emulating them.

Also, while I don’t mind the SNP’s loss of seats per se (in fact, I wouldn’t condemn them if, given what they stand for, they followed Sinn Féin’s example and never went to Westminster at all), I’d like them to either keep their seats or lose them to Lib Dems, as they did in the ‘Gaelic’ areas. The fact that not only Scotland’s south, but most of the area between Stirling and Banff & Buchan was gained by the Tories (thus helping to keep May in power) I can only call by the old phrase ‘a fucking disgrace’.

Much less importantly, it was fine to see Cable retake his seat and Carmichael retain his, but sad to see Salmond, Robertson and Clegg go (the first moreover with the biggest swing of the election).

And so on. With all that it was no wonder the sterling fell. With all that I was quite glad when the stream of menacing updates on the after-election day was interrupted by this pleasant tweet, reminding me that after all we were still only talking a peacetime UK general election, and while there were casualties, there were no fatalities.

PS The BBC usually makes a page with several interesting maps: this election’s one is here. And incidentally, there was also a Holyrood by-election taking place.


Leo Varadkar

Feumaidh mi aideachadh nach urrainn dhomh tuigsinn ciamar a thionndaidh Èirinn bho dhùthaich anns an robh feisen gèidhe toirmisgte gus 1993 gu tè far an do thachair ann an 2015 reifreann soirbheachail às leth phòsaidhean ghèidh, agus a-nis eadhon tè le prìomh mhinisteir gèidh. Ach chan eil sin gu diofar. ’S e an rud cudromach gun do dh’atharraich i ann. Agus an rud nas fheàrr gu bheil coltach nach robh ùidh mhòr aig daoine gun robh e gèidh no gun robh athair air tighinn bho na h-Innseachan, ach dè a dhèanas e le eaconomaidh na dùthcha. Sin mar am bu chòir cùisean a bhith.