Thursday, September 04, 2008


Wannabeageek time

This two year old Evesham desktop starting to show its age. Having successfully moved onto Windows XP service pack 3 a few weeks ago, we are still getting the occasional crash, usually on starting up. And today the ugly yellow Norton tab on the bottom right of the task bar goes missing until I poke Norton using it's self diagnosis tool - which then appeared to go to sleep after about 10 minutes, despite the progress bar continuing to flicker in an encouraging way, and had to be closed. And the screen - an antique cathode ray tube affair - occasionally and temporarily takes on a rather pink tinge. Not too clever really. A PC from what was a decent company (now gone bust) should last for more than 2 years.

On the culinary front, sampled a free range, barn fed shoulder of lamb from Cheam last weekend. One day hot, one day cold - but neither in the pot nor nine days old. Settled for a second day cold - but geeed (?) up with some fancy potatoes, a sort of cut-price version of dauphinoise. Or a cut down version of potato pie - a firm favourite here at Epsom. On the basis of all of which, I have decided that shoulder of lamb is a better bet, for us anyway, than leg. I never seem to be able to manage to cook leg very well, whereas shoulder, the fresh English variety that is, seems to turn out OK pretty much every time. The odd failure usually being down to undercooking, something I do not care for in lamb. Frozen not so clever. To my mind, freezing does neither leg nor shoulder of lamb any favours. Goes a bit tough and stringy and loses its sweetness.

Having polished off 'Jesting Pilate', now nearing the finishing post on Ellmann on Joyce. Excellent biog of a very queer fish. I learn, amongst other things, that someone organised a fancy edition of Ulysses, and the someone, Joyce being quite the avant-garde thing at the time, persuaded Matisse to do the illustrations. Joyce, helpfully bustled around trying to put some material together for Matisse to work on. But, in the event, the illustrations turned out to be entirely Homeric in flavour, rather Dublineric. When challenged on this point, Matisse explained that he didn't bother to actually look at the book. I wonder if he took the same tack with all his illustrating commissions? Perhaps he thought he was more important than Joyce and could get away with it. Bit insulting all the same. Bad mannered big egoed arty type.

Given that Joyce was only ten years or so older than Aldous H and lived in some of the same countries, I checked the index of my Bedford on Huxley and find just three entries, two for the man and one for a book. It seems that Joyce came to lunch with the Huxleys a few times at Suresnes (then in the northwestern outskirts of Paris and home to the large Fort du Mont Valerien (which one learns by looking at the site de web de ville)) in the late twenties or early thirties and that their Parisian literary circles overlapped. (Joyce it seems, despite being a literary gent, sometimes claimed (according to Ellmann) to hate literary conversation. He would rather talk about turnips). Huxley found him a very strange man. Two snippets, first: ' a great deal of Ulysses seems to be taken up with showing a large number of methods in which novels cannot be written'. Despite which, he read the thing at least twice. Second: 'Joyce seemed to think that words were omnipotent. They are not omnnipotent'. I don't understand what Huxley meant by either snippet - but I was moved to see whether Freud figured in the index, which he did not. This I do find odd. Must ponder further on that point.

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