Archive for September, 2011

September 18, 2011


I’ve just returned from a few days in Vienna. My husband was busy at a data conference most of the time, so I was left to amuse myself. Where can a lone lady find both amusement and lovely chilly marble to keep one cool in 30C heat? Museums!

Along with beautiful baroque buildings, horses and carts, and cake, Vienna has an excess of museums – museums of undertaking, Esperanto, The Third Man… I didn’t make it to any of those, because I was too busy filling my brain-pan at the Museum of Globes, the Natural History Museum, the Leopold Museum of modern art. In the Kunsthistorisches Museum of fine arts, I spotted this cheeky bitch ripping off the Breughel:

Call Security!

At the Neue Berg, we saw some very impressive armour, including suits for kids:

And this chatty pair of warriors:

And this show-off:

To counterbalance its surfeit of art and culture, Vienna has the grossest museums I’ve ever been to.

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September 16, 2011

(what’re you playing at, Sontag?)

I’m presently reading the 1967 novel Death Kit by Susan Sontag. The protagonist is named Diddy, which is problematic because where I’m supposed to picture a [spoiler!] suicidal and delusional microscope advertiser, I am instead assailed by a man with jewellery for teeth and an inferiority complex that no number of yachts, voluptuous girlfriends and monochromatic birthday parties can disguise.

But that is not my only problem with the book. Perhaps you can solve my problem with the book, which is this*:

I know nothing of Sontag and her oeuvre, so can one of you please offer a decent explanation as to why the word ‘now’ always appears in brackets?

I’m not enjoying the book sufficiently to expend any critical thought whatsoever upon the matter, so unless you can persuade me otherwise, I will have to assume it’s merely some 60s experimental pretentious guff that, like most 60s experimental pretentious guff, has not dated well.

*Although I do have another problem with the book, for it is riddled with dream sequences, which always seem a lazy narrative device. If you want to let me in on the subconscious of a character, write better! IT’S THAT EASY**.

**Of course I know it’s not easy to be a good writer. But it’s clearly too bloody easy to write dream sequences. And as we all know, listening to even our most beloved friends recounting their dreams is boring as hell. Stop taking dreams so seriously, everybody! They’re pretty much the equivalent of your brain flushing itself.

September 6, 2011


I am a fan of old cookbooks. Not for the recipes – I don’t like boiled meat, thanks! – but because they’re such an interesting reflection of the time when they were produced. This was an interesting read on the subject.

Sometimes, though, these dated volumes go TOO FAR.

Take this 1952 edition of Good Housekeeping, for instance.

It opens innocently enough: with some sexism!

This is clearly a book from before the time when St Jamie of Oliver made it OK for men to cook the supper, back in the days when bachelors either ate at their club or died of starvation. Here’s how the Foreword sets the agenda:

“She can’t even boil an egg!” This sweeping condemnation is perhaps true of few women today; but because cookery books sometimes assume that their readers are already familiar with the very simple processes, it can still happen that a young housewife – or a daughter-at-home called upon to produce a meal in time of domestic crisis – finds embarrassing and unexpected gaps in her cookery knowledge.

You know what, though – I’m not embarrassed by some of the gaps in my cookery knowledge, if what I’m supposed to fill them with is THIS:

I can’t even type the name of the recipe, because I think there are laws against it now.

The book says they ‘make excellent individual place cakes at a party’, so do bear it in mind if you find yourself throwing a Pre-Civil Rights Movement themed party for your kids.