The Cloven Hoof

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    Craig @craig

    @arbutus I have a confession to make. I studied law at Edinburgh University (although I never became a lawyer), and one of my Honours courses was Medical Jurisprudence, half-taught by Alexander McCall Smith. He inspired me in many ways. I had lectures from him throughout my four years there. He is exactly as he appears, a wonderful, insightful, engaging man.

    At the time he mentioned that he’d written some books, some for children, some for adults. I didn’t go looking for them. It was only after I graduated and moved to London that I started to see people reading his books on the Tube. I was so happy as he’d finally gathered a bit of momentum. And then it snowballed and he was everywhere. Honestly, everywhere. I was so happy for him.

    I have had in-depth discussions about the rights and wrongs of abortion, euthanasia, the death penalty etc. with him. At a Christmas Party he taught me how to do a Masons’ handshake (he’s not in the Masons – he just knows stuff). It was great that he was always willing to share.

    And yet I still haven’t read one of his books (except his textbooks). It’s really something I should rectify.



    Ta for the kind words. My house is no longer mine (see here if interested), and I am still itinerant

    It’s still trundling along 9and a tiresomely slow pace, since the place I’m buying has a tenant who is entitled to proper notice). Am relying on the tolerance of friends a bit more than I am entirely comfortable with. On the other hand, this might prompt me to take my first holiday for six years, so swings and roundabout.

    Mudlark @mudlark

    @craig  From an alumna of Edinburgh University to a fellow alumnus, greetings – although it was a different Faculty and at a different time.  Your mention of that venerable seat of learning has induced a nostalgic mood in me, because I so much enjoyed my years there and have so many joyful memories.

    In my first year I was in digs in Marchmont St, when that area and the Meadows adjoining were still lit by gas lamps, and before half of George Square, where the Department of Archaeology was situated, had been demolished to make way for the Davy Hume Tower and the new Library (the former library, in the Old Quad, was an amazing, almost Dickensian warren in which it was possible to get lost and wander for hours making serendipitous discoveries).  In the years following I moved on to an attic flat in Frederick St and then a basement flat in Stockbridge  – both very cheap to rent in those days.  I haven’t been back there since 1985 and would hesitate to do so now, for fear of disillusion.

    @arbutus  I have often noticed Alexander McCall Smith’s books when browsing in my local bookshops, and your recommendation, reinforced by @craig ‘s description of the man, are sufficient to make me wish to investigate further.  But first I propose to embark on a rereading of all Terry Pratchett’s books in order of publication, as a form of In Memoriam.  The sharp wit, the wisdom, the insight, the anger and the humanity, and sometimes the sheer daftness of his imagination, have given me so much delight over the years since I first stumbled on ‘Equal Rites’ in the 1980s

    ichabod @ichabod

    @craig  I’d recommend looking for one of McCall-Smith’s series about the philosophy prof who edits a journal on ethics; those have more of a grip on reality, IMO, and I prefer that to the more spun-sugary ones that I’ve read, though YMMV of course.  It’s good to hear that with M-S, what you see (charming author photos) is what you get in this case.

    Pratchett’s death was no surprise — it’s 7-8 years now, isn’t it, since the announcement of his illness? — but boy it does hurt.  I think I really went under his spell with the book about the Golems — Ankh-Morpork’s slaves of all work — committing suicide . . . this man had a seriously wild and brilliant mind, powerfully tempered by compassion and goofiness.  He’s being missed, and will be for some time.  We’re just lucky that he wrote fast — lots of books to re-read.

    Craig @craig

    @arbutus @mudlark @ichabod

    This is a lovely insight into a lovely man. Mudlark, I will share some of my Edinburgh memories tomorrow. Great to hear yours.

    Anonymous @

    @bluesqueakpip I echo your thoughts. It is lovely corner -with wit, compassion, shared love of words and characters and the notion to not dismiss things or people because others on the internet can and do.

    I’m reminded of the other less decent places where there’s quite a Moffat bashing going on. Never have I seen so many people bash the one producer so much and so consistently. It’s an unusual phenomenon. It appears I’ve been branded a “Moffat lover.” What will I do? 🙂

    @arbutus yes, AMcS. Mma Ramotswe and  her bush tea -a soothing concoction. I  was only introduced to the writer via the telly series which we watched when it aired on the ABC some years ago – we all adored the characters.

    I had no knowledge of the author -a long time ago I thought ‘she’ was a NY’er in her mid twenties. Don’t  ask me why.

    Thanks to @craig ‘s link I learned a lot more in the delightful interview this author gave. A beautiful way of writing -simple, light and airy like a perfect soufflé. Or as the Boy says: a ‘soufel’.

    And yes our pedantic one with his wit and knowledge appears to have returned from the bleak E-verse of packing and moving.

    I swear I shall never move again. Frequently, as a child, once the moving crab/bug attacked us, we’d be in a different house every year. I’d just get used to my room and ‘bam’! off we’d go. And it was never a dream. It really happened. I’ve now been in this particular house coming up to 14 years and whoa; a record.

    Arbutus @arbutus

    @craig    What a wonderful experience that must have been! I have not meet McCall Smith, but I have heard him speak at a Writers’ Festival event here, and he was marvelous. Very funny, self-deprecating, and clearly absolutely at peace and content with his life, which is a wonderful thing to see in another person.

    I enjoy all of his book series. I find that each has a very different feel, and I appreciate them all in a slightly different way. What they have in common, and what I so admire about his writing, is the something he does that many people claim can’t be done: he combines an absolutely correct and elegant approach to language with an easy readability and flow that never shows grammatical correctness in the reader’s face. I am something of a grammar geek, so it always makes me happy to read such impeccable prose. He is also a story-teller in a way that too many writers aren’t these days. I realized a couple of years back that I prefer to read something with a story that interests me about characters that interest me, and all too often, one or the other or both doesn’t happen. Last year I read the English translation of a Swedish book called The 100-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared. It was the goofiest story imaginable, but it held my interest from start to finish, because I was interested in the characters and wanted to know what would happen to them. This has become a big motivator for me in choosing books to read, and McCall Smith, along with his beautiful writing, never lets me down in this regard!

    Anonymous @


    I liked Flatline also -a lot actually (I don’t recall it being disliked) but Listen was my personal favourite. I liked all of them, really. It’s the stories, not the box that travels that does it for me!

    Crisis Country?

    @arbutus you’re absolutely right -it’s the natural flow, the rhythm of the sentence -in a sensibly way-without the ‘overpowering flower’ of grammar ‘pretence’


    TenthDoctorFtw @tenthdoctorftw

    @purofilion I’m from Greece. Where are you from?
    The production of the series has become aaamaaaazing!

    Barbara Lefty @barbaralefty

    Evening again, preparing for another week by finishing the dregs of that bottle. My tablet died so I’ve been restricted to my phone, which feels like eating soup through a straw, or possibly seeing and encountering the world through @ichabod‘s metaphorical memory straw. I’ve stolen some time on Mr Lefty’s laptop so I can see the breadth and rise of the landscape, high and wide as ever.

    @pedant, what a beautiful video, an eloquent diary of a place clearly loved and filled with happiness. I wish I had done something like that when we moved my parents out of their house of 45 years, in which we found buried pictures my Dad had painted when at Art School and designs for my Mum’s engagement ring (it was bought instead – always better at designs than execution, my Dad.) It all happened with undue haste, but we moved them healthy and well. Things:

    *Friends never mind anything like as much as you think they will

    *You will be looking back on this from comfort before too much time has passed, and it will seem like it was hard but not too hard

    Love McCall Smith, in particular Mma Ramotswe, which I was addicted to a few years back. Looking forward to remembrances from @craig.

    @tenthdoctorftw, (and also @schmitty918) always good to see new people who are interested in what this site, specifically, and I think uniquely, offers. We’re a bit different, people who don’t mind defending our opinions but are mutually respectful, so welcome.

    Also, note for teacher, dog ate homework (very badly need to catch up with BG Daemons and Capaldi retro). Currently watching Key to Time arc off the Horror channel , as far as Pirate Planet, written of course by yet another great departed favourite. They go too soon.



    TenthDoctorFtw @tenthdoctorftw

    @Barbara Lefty Thank you very much 😛
    I started of quit bad here, a few misunderstandings but now alls good and I’m digging into the forum’s posts and see interesting things. Hope you have a great day.

    Anonymous @


    Ah Greece, I see what you mean by crisis country. I have studied a lot about Greece but only Ancient -I even tried to learn the ancient Greek language. whilst I studied it for close to 5 years, I was never able to speak a word!

    My parents are Czech and they immigrated to Adelaide, Australia in 1949. I now live in Brisbane which is pretty hot all year around.  They had my brother in a place called Bagnoli (Italy) where they lived in a detention centre for a year before shipping out to Melbourne by boat first, but it was in Adelaide where they had me -my mother was 41 by then & it was unusual to have a girl-child at that age in the 1960s.

    Yes, I’ve found that since 2005 when Dr Who came back, the money was poured back into it and it looks terrific on screen. I guess with 13 episodes they can afford to make each episode look so great. The effects in your favourite episode  (and possibly my second fav), Flatline were amazing -how the flat people ended up as part of the furniture? Still creeps me out; my skin goes all tingly. Also I like a ‘good scare’ so when they were wandering through those tunnels and listening to the Flat People counting thru the loud speakers it was proper terrifying! My own son was hiding under the bed and was very nervous going to sleep that evening.

    Still, the production in the early Dr Who shows were quite funny -alfoil monsters and red eyes from a torch behind the figure: still it somehow had the effect of creeping me out when I was 6 or 7 years old. There’s a forum on this site where we’re catching up with an episode of the Pertwee era called The Daemons. Each episode was about 25 minutes long. Each episode then went into another one with a ‘cliff hanger’ so that after 5 episodes the arc was over and the problem solved. Daemons shows the Master, as played by Roger Delgado -possibly the best ‘master’ we’ve ever had. Really evil and sinister and one who could also use a sword and hypnotise his captives too.

    Kindest, puro (actually my tag name comes from ‘puro’ meaning a type of ‘fire’ in ancient Athens and Ilion being a place referred to in Homeric Greece where they laid out all the dead in funeral pyres (pyres/puro) so that for weeks the sky was red and even the moon showed red for many months apparently. All mythical no doubt but fascinating to me)

    Anonymous @

    @barbaralefty we are doing a Capaldi retrospective? Has that started? I’m on Daemons at the moment. Hang on, we did watch Local Hero (my memory is fading rather a lot)! -that was terrific in so many ways and showed me a part of the country which I only knew from brief travels.

    Your Dad designed an engagement ring? What a lovely story. Never mind that he bought it in the end -it’s good to know one’s limitations and to strive to do something new and rather romantic!

    My father was an avid photographer of all the houses we lived in -he used to do ‘before and after’ shots as all the houses required some sort of serious renovation. I have no idea how they would do that -coming home from work and in their late 50s starting to peel away layers of wall paper before putting up more, polishing wood floors and repainting.

    Now, most people ‘out source’ every job available -there was pride in doing it yourself even though Dad’s gates would invariably fall apart and the replaced toilet cistern would blow up and wreck the new carpet.

    Once he was trailing about on the roof in an effort to fix the antenna (he would have been 70) and then promptly slid down the roof and got stuck in the gutter he’s just fixed up. It was good enough that it held him up until the fire and rescue services appeared to haul him down. The neighbourhood was out in force, yelling “hold on Billy Boy”. They started singing 10 Green Bottles claiming that once they got to ‘one’, he’d have to sing the last line solo. I’m sure someone filmed this, though I never saw it.

    After the Rescue fellas arrived,  they all sat and had a beer together from a fridge that was 50 years old which Dad had ‘blue tacked’ together until the only thing holding the door was a mash-up of ‘goo’. That was Dad. Epoxy Resin Man -he even used it on the old Holden.

    TenthDoctorFtw @tenthdoctorftw

    @purofilion, Yeah exactly puro is fire puro = πυρά, but as a word its not use that much anymore, we use φωτιά = fotia. Wow, you have a very interesting backround. If I may ask, how old are you? I hear people learn Ancient Greek in schools and I couldn’t believe it. I mean, modern greek can be difficult, let alone ancient. It gave me a hard time in school, I can’t imagine what it must have been for you.
    As for the production, I noticed good changes with Matt Smith’s arrival at the show. Before that, it had a british atmosphere, if you know what I mean. From season 5 and on, the production became more international.

    btw ( I just realized you are a girl as well 😛 )

    ichabod @ichabod

    @purofilion   Thanks for the explanation of your screen name — wow, what you describe sounds like a scene set for a Doctor Who story!  Red moon, smoke, bodies burning — !  Maybe not mythical, but just a wee bit exaggerated, you know, the way things go from kind of utilitarian and workaday (everybody has to dispose of their dead somehow) to epicly lurid over centuries of retelling.

    Yes, production values are hugely better, and that whole half-hour + cliffhanger format of the early days was so much a part of the old film series format — the Perils of Pauline etc., little chapters and a million climactic moments to lure you on to next time!  We’ve come a long, long way from all that — thank gods.  It suited me fine as a kiddie, but I haven’t been that for ages now.  The combo of the creepy transformations of people into furniture etc. + the silliness (and then the scary part, being trapped) of the teeny tiny Tardis was what really made that ep for me — those galloping wrenches in tone from comedy to terror to total creep-out are one of the stand-out strengths of the show, IMO — handled with enormous aplomb, no fancy transitions or explanations necessary, just in your face, and thank you very much!

    ichabod @ichabod

    @purofilion  and love the stories of your dad!  Those were the *real* do it yourself days; most people had a lot more time than money, since you mostly didn’t have to work three crappy-pay jobs to raise your family so you could at least *try* to mend your own fridge/roof/toilet/gutters etc. for yourself in your spare time, which you had a bit of.

    I’m sitting here thinking dark thoughts about finding a reliable roofing outfit to re-do the leaky roof of my tiny garage, where tons of papers are stored, so water damage is a concern — and no way can I (let alone my guy) get up there and do it!  Though come to think of it, when we got out here in 1969 or so, we did rig a pulley and a bucket thing and haul up loads of small white quartz rocks to put on the (flat) roof in hopes of reflecting a bit of the hot summer sun back off the house.

    What were we, crazy?!

    lisa @lisa
    Anonymous @


    Work sums it up. I liked the idea of doing things ourselves -such as painting the fence a hundred thousand times, starting at 4 years of age and painting it and everything else the same colour -mission brown!

    Whoo-ee and the Doctor -I like  the work of watching it -things might be in your face but there are no “now, see, here this is” and “now that you’ve seen it we’re going to explain it” and “now we’re going to explain it ALL over again should you have missed it”. The 40 mins of programming doesn’t allow for that -it makes you do the work and ask the questions. Boy Ilion’s favourite series was the part with Dorium: “but doctor, the oldest question, the one that must never be answered….” it had a mystery quality to it; a certain epic loveliness which I miss though I know there’s going to be something equivalent over the next season -the Doctor may know who he is but who is Clara now? Which clock tower was she born under and why was that mentioned (she said at one point “I was born under a clock tower” and I cannot get that out of my mind!)? How will her arc develop? Will they find Gallifrey together? Will Missy re-appear?

    As for that roof, yes, you’re not going to haul anything up there now, Ichi! Rooves = money. We’ve a tin roof (often the preferred option in QLD)  which means rain sounds like thunder and hail sounds like bombs. Still, it stays leak -free (cross fingers, pat wood of nearby furniture). Quartz would look very nice. On shows like Grand Designs I notice that modern flat rooves often contain an array of wild flowers and herbs. Not a bad idea but requiring maintenance

    @tenthdoctorftw between 40 and 50!  I have done a ‘bit ‘ in my life and it sounds like it’s all ahead for you which is great! I think there are many opportunities for younger people now -but then I could be wrong about that.

    If what you want to do is the same as the job you do,  and you happen to earn a little money from it, then it’s great. Work as play!

    Yes, I learnt that there were approximately 40 different words for ‘fire’ in ancient Greek. But having studied French I also learnt that the ‘incendium’ used for fire -lighting a cigarette – is different from the word for fire in the open air, I could see the complications. In English, it’s just ‘fire’ -plain and simple  – though some of the most beautiful books in English are those which use the English phrasing in such a way that the paragraphs sing like music -music is my ‘other’ life.

    I have qualifications in music conducting. Many years ago there was funding for all our state orchestras. Now, sadly many of those orchestras have folded up and if you want to pursue such a career one needs to be male (although we have Simone Young) or do so overseas as a guest conductor. Still, I did that because I loved it -even though other than teaching it at uni (on a very part-time basis) I didn’t make a lick of cash from it. It was still something I loved and that I don’t regret.

    @craig I can do a Mason’s handshake too!  A. McCall Smith sounds like a wonderfully intelligent and clever man.  Dinner conversations would be extremely engaging.

    So, it’s:   ‘the tube’ in London; ‘the underground’ in the U.S. (or is that the ‘subway’?) and Paris and just ‘the train’ in Australia -unless it’s also the tram (Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne).

    Regardez-vous, puro


    Schmitty918 @schmitty918

    @lisa Thank you for that! It was pretty awesome.

    TenthDoctorFtw @tenthdoctorftw

    I can’t seem to get enough of your stories. Wow a music conductor. Your age explains your backround too. You life seems very intersting, you should be proud of what you have achieved so far. I sense a bitterness in your posts when it comes to women achieving things. People must have given you a hard time right?

    As for me, I might be young but I have encountered a few things the last few years that have made my life very different. I said it in another thread, I’m going to be very quick about it in this one. I suffer from constant 24/7 vertigo/dizziness, so my choices in doing things lately have become very limited. I got fired because of it 2 months ago and I don’t even have insurance anymore to do further check ups. I manage in general but its been very difficult.

    Anonymous @


    ooh, no, no bitterness whatsoever , I think I had advantages in fact. But yes, back then being male was the requirement -but it was the same everywhere and in every profession. Women struggled. Far be it for me to complain.

    As to your own illness that is quite awful and to lose a job because of it, worse, I hope you have family and friends you can turn to.

    Whilst this may sound hard to hear -keep going, you don’t know what is around the corner….The sun may yet shine.

    Anonymous @

    @tenthdoctorftw my fav dr, funnily enough was Smith. From the 1st moment I felt he was the Doctor -but then Series 5 was the best ever IMHO.

    I liked the 10th but I felt he was too much over the top -also in his telly presentations he was not my sort of guy -not modest or gentle. I never liked Eccleston either as the Dr really or in person and I haven’t liked any roles he’s ever had either. Again, a personal thing where in some of his roles -with Barrowman and ‘dancing’ -I feel he really was out of his depth. I just didn’t gel with him even though the episodes were beautifully written and very memorable. Certainly Piper worked well with both.

    But to the positive always -Capaldi is superb as we knew he’d be. An older Dr was needed and they really nailed it there.

    Anonymous @

    @ichabod eerm  cough cough…? Talking about illness on the wrong thread?  No, that’s OK it was on Van Gogh’s thread, whose illness was awful. Simply awful.

    Yes, Crohns and me: my invisible friend for 34 years now. Condemned to live, they say.

    CFS is in my brother’s family I believe -and one of those “oh no there’s nothing wrong with you, it’s in your mind”. Nothing worse when no-one believes you. There is so much more research about that now fortunately and apparently some successful clinical trials.

    Anonymous @

    @ichabod @barbaralefty some of you have popped off to bed but some are awake and whilst it’s early here, I’m having myself a virtual drink!! I bl*ody golly need one. Or six. What will the bartender pass me?

    A green graphite confection/concoction made of coffee and tea served in a moon egg miniature, with spider swizzle stick (I remember being old enough to collect them) and some medieval olives on the side and with a memory worm so I can forget it all in the morning?

    ichabod @ichabod

    @purofilion   Oh crap, sorry to hear about Crohns — miserable stuff, worse than CFS from what I hear.  What if you put the memory work in your drink — does that make it a Tequila Moon-egg Olive with a side of Northern Lights (the green part)?  Or is it Mescal that has the worm, memory or otherwise?  Maybe you can tell — my drink is red table wine.  Skoal!



    Anonymous @

    @ichabod oh yes, your drink sounds like it would sell for  10 000 credits and quite well named compared with mine. Too much on the side I had! -I’m reminded of that ep with Eccleston where he took along a young man who, with the sonic, had managed to obtain a huge amount of credit and had his brain ‘thwacked’ with a machine  to process all the news at once -hoping to get the actual patent 50 000 years early back on earth?

    what a great episode. Must have been ep. 7 or 8 in the reboot with Rose?

    I definitely don’t drink beer -unless it’s literally a sip on a hot day and I stick to anything cold although a good Oz red wine can be marvellous in winter -and I’m told filled with iron?

    The green part could be something from Gallifrey – a part of the sky or, I know, crab grass! It has that delicious scent that Rose first noticed in New New New York. I’m surprised they haven’t created a cocktail book for the Tardis although the Doctor’s established drinking patterns are that he doesn’t drink? As far as I know! Tea and now coffee, of course!  Now  we’ve established that he does eat in the tardis with his companions -even those along for the one ride, only.

    ichabod @ichabod

    @purofilion  Well, that glass of Scotch for Half-face sure looked at home in CapDoc’s hand; but he said he’d poured it for Half Face, and he didn’t so much as have a sniff at it for himself, did he?  Coffee, yes!  Well, he’s a smart guy; of course, coffee!

    The only beer I have ever enjoyed I had at a beer garden alongside the Danube somewhere in Germany (a “river cruise” five years ago or so), right outside the monastery that’s been brewing the stuff for centuries. My GOD that was good!  Fortunately, I live far, far away and have forgotten the name of the monastery, so I’m safe.  My psychic friend tells me that I spent some medieval lifetime or other brewing beer in a monastery in N. France, I think, along with some of my current friends, among others.  Well, okay; must have been more fun that surging around Europe with this army or that one, sleeping rough and stealing food from farmers.  I hope our beer was as good as that wonderful stuff I had in Germany . . . a true gift to humankind, if not to humankind’s waistline!  So that makes it a useful life, at least.

    janetteB @janetteb

    Hi. quick wave to @all. I have mostly lurking of late, too busy to post but really enjoying all the wonderful discussions as always. Last night I sent off the first order for festival brochures so hopefully I can have a bit of a breather now.

    @prurofilion I believe the Doctor’s alcoholic bevvy of choice, like @ichabod is red wine. PertweeDoc certainly enjoyed a good red. He waxes lyrical about the wine and Gorgonzola in Day of the Daleks I think EcclesDoc did sip the wine the night he had dinner with the Slytheen woman though SmithDoc did not seem so impressed with the red on offer at the picnic by Lake Silencio.

    Surely CapDoc’s bevvy of choice would have to be whiskey??

    I prefer red to white wine though in summer I tend to drink either sparkling Shiraz, or a Rose, preferably a Rockford’s Alicante. S.A really does good Rose and Sparkling reds, probably because of our long, dry summers.

    The other day the Guardian had a guide to making the perfect Irish coffee. I was very pleased because it proved that the technique I was taught in the U.K. was correct. I now really want to make an Irish coffee though oddly enough not to drink. I never actually liked drinking them because I don’t like sweet coffee or cream. However Puro’s talk of Tardis themed cocktails might inspire me to try a Tardis themed liqueur coffee. Would blue curacao work in Coffee? I will have to ponder that. Still a few months to go until the next series, which we will celebrate with a Dr Who party, having now established that as one of our household traditions.




    ichabod @ichabod

    @janetteb  Red wine — well, I’ve had two spectacular reds, one a merlot out of a winery in California, cheap little bottle, in the mid-eighties, which was so unbelievable that I went rushing back for more — but it was all gone.  Some 8 yrs later, with family that lives out there I stopped at that very winery (Carneros Creek, it was) and mentioned this wine, and they said, “Oh yes, that one, we’ve never been able to do that again, but we’re opening the last bottle today in the back room; would you like a swallow?”  The point being that this stuff was so wonderful that even I, a total wine ignoramus, was bowled over by it, and then had my reaction confirmed by the makers themselves.  The other great wine was perfectly obviously that from the get-go, having been selected by a visiting Frenchman at a very fine local restaurant, at $125 a bottle.  Yep, liquid velvet.  Been, done.

    But my tastes are irredeemably low, and becoming an oenophile (?) will have to wait for next life; til then, I drink Menage a Trois table red with dinner at $5.00 a bottle, and a very nice, calmly confident little wine it is, too, quite fine enough for simple pleasure.  Not their other stuff: that one.

    I will drink some, with friends I hope, when the Doctor is once again IN.

    Anonymous @

    @janetteb  @ichabod

    ah, yes, the SA rose and merlot? Very nice indeed. As a child, we’d often go on long, hot drives in the summer and sit in the shade under the edible grape vines whilst parents would indulge in some wine tasting.

    The kids would run around the kiddie vineyard and learn to pick the grapes and then stamp on them -delightful. Such things go against health and safety now. I recall also picking stone fruit which we then were able to take home too. Most of it was eaten up before we even arrived at the driveway!

    A blue cocktail for Doctor Who. That would cheer up Dorium and @fatmaninabox for sure! Blue cacao? There’s always a Black Russian or a White Russian. Couldn’t call a Doctor’s cocktail black or white but there would have to be a mixmaster type of drink. Two drinks: completely the opposite: one sweet, one tart, each different in colour and then swallowed one after the other. So it would come as a pair: the Gallifrey Jewel or, as we said elsewhere, the Untempered Schism. A Mixed -Schism? The eye of Harmony? One glass could sing or drum as you turned the swizzle stick (I love that word) or even get bigger! Like those Tardis mugs that as you heat the liquid the Tardis disappears (or reappears).

    I’ve never made an Irish Coffee -I used to drink them but they have quite a bit of cream in them, yeah?

    janetteB @janetteb

    @ichabod I live a hop and step from one of Australia’s premier wine growing regions so we are rather blessed with good, affordable wines. I was not a wine drinker until I moved to SA but here one has no choice. We have a favourite winery just up the road, expensive but not out of the range of the average quaffer. Their Alicante is about $18.00 a bottle. We buy three bottles of sparkling shiraz most years, one for Christmas and one for birthdays. We have not been there for a while but have friends coming to stay Easter week and a visit to the winery followed by a picnic in the vines is a definite. (We know it is the winery they are really driving all this way for..)



    janetteB @janetteb

    @purofilion A proper Irish coffee has about two centimetres of pouring cream floating on top. The coffee has to be quite hot and very sweet to support the cream which is poured in over the back of a spoon. I threw away a lot of coffees before I got it right. Luckily I had a tolerant boss at the time especially when it was something like Tia Maria in the coffee as opposed to the cheapest whiskey or brandy possible. (The theory was that once mixed with coffee, sugar and cream the quality of the base spirit didn’t really matter.)

    Your childhood memories of picnics at wineries sound just like our sons’ memories. Only now they are older they usually opt to stay home and play computer games while we “quaff”.



    ichabod @ichabod

    My family was of the cocktail generation; cocktails and whisky.  My stepdad was a functioning alcoholic, which maybe helps account for my aversion to hard liquor and my unrefined appreciation of wine, once I got past the specific and disgustingly sweet “wine”, if that’s what it is, that some of my mother’s family had at religious meals, like at Passover.

    My drug of choice is chocolate.

    Anonymous @

    @purofilion – Thanks for the welcome back.

    It’s only a fleeting visit for now but the Easter break is looming in the near distance which means no college.

    College work has kept me quite busy in RL as I seem to have unwittingly become the team leader for an exciting project ( can’t reveal details at this stage ).

    I’ll hopefully be able to do more than just lurk in the background over the holidays.

    Arbutus @arbutus

    Warning: Political views ahead, please ignore as desired!

    @janetteb’s and @purofilion’s comments about government mismanagement of education hit home for me. In British Columbia, we have a highly-admired system that has avoided many of the problems that various American states are going through, and we have a government whose ideological stance seems designed to take us down that path as quickly as they can get us there. They have systematically cut back funding to public education while making policy decisions that have increased expenses for the system. They have introduced legislation that will force democratically-elected school boards to follow their cost-cutting instructions and allow them to fire any boards that refuse. (The phrase “the public good” is predominant in the government’s defense of this legislation.) They are now increasing the amount of funding that goes to private schools (which in British Columbia include both religious schools and high cost, elite, “prep-school” style institutions). Our Education Minister is an evangelical Christian and a former school trustee who once advocated book-banning and corporal punishment in the school system. His own education consists of a high school diploma and broadcasting school. Our Premier’s bio proudly declares attendance at various universities including the Sorbonne, but she holds no degree from anywhere. And yet there is a shocking lack of public awareness that the road we are travelling will lead to the privatization and segregation of education, with the well-to-do paying for the best, the poor being weighed down by the worst, and the middle class struggling to secure a future for their children, and paying through the nose for it.

    Arbutus @arbutus

    @purofilion      Mr. Arbutus, having been born in the US, was a victim of exactly that post-secondary system that you are talking about. He graduated from high school in Alaska, so the less-expensive home state option wasn’t helpful to someone gifted in science and music, and he spent five years doing a double degree at Oberlin College. He then came to Canada for his doctorate, and spent the next ten years paying for his Oberlin education. As a result, we don’t own a house in this increasingly expensive city– we have come to terms with this and are quite happy with our lifestyle and choices, but it is a fact that our non-homeownership can be traced back in part to the high price of an American education. Fortunately, there will be other options for our son. We pay in Canada, but it is highly subsidized and an undergrad degree is still relatively affordable. There is also no penalty for choosing an out-of-province institution, so our son could choose to go locally or elsewhere, and tuition would be comparable if not identical.

    Arbutus @arbutus

    @jimthefish   The war on humanities, another painful subject. And it’s becoming even worse as our government is encouraging universities and colleges to become job-filling machines, providing incentives for engineering, business, and trades, and discouraging both humanities and science. As stated above, our Premier has little respect for higher education, not having much herself. And our federal government routinely stifles anyone who disagrees with its policies, whether humanities-based intellectuals or scientists. We are seeing a growth of the notion that “educated elites” are the enemy of “real people”, and governments that encourage anti-intellectualism on the grounds that their constituency is grounded in ignorance.

    I really was an “artsy” student who wasn’t much good at the nuts and bolts of high school science. But my husband and son are very science-minded, so there’s plenty of science talk and science telly around our place. There are such fabulously accessible programs available now that there is no excuse to lack understanding of basic scientific principles. We’re currently going through Brian Cox’s The Human Universe, such fun to watch and really interesting. Yet so many people know nothing, and don’t want to know. High school should be doing more than it does to get across why science is important, and teach it in a way that it doesn’t have to be a struggle to stay engaged. (I think the same thing is true about History, by the way; they seem to be teaching that in the same stupid, boring way they taught it forty years ago!)

    Wow. This has been depressing. Thank goodness for thoughtful people and places like this. I shall head for my happy place and post some music.

    Anonymous @


    Jesus Chris is all I can say. The cost the cost! -and intelligent person whose credentials help everybody ends up paying for this for 10 years with no home ownership.

    I’ve always been a bit ‘left’ and I’m now turning obstinately socialist.

    What a bloody world.

    Anonymous @

    OK, the lefties don’t have all the answers either. But I can still be morose.

    ScaryB @scaryb

    Working thro the recent discussions backwards, so will start with a cocktail. Since we are in the pub 🙂

    @Purofilion – joining me? (It’s quite a large glass, I’m sure we can share 😉 )

    Anonymous @

    @scaryb yes, please. It looks gorgeous! And of course, blue, your fav colour and mine. But we must look for the Canadian in the corner: she might be napping from an overload by now, we may have to locate an intergalactic, Cloven Hoof Taxi-cab.

    ScaryB @scaryb

    @Purofilion @arbutus

    Problem solved (and there’s a  whole box in the corner if anyone else wants to join in; it’s a seriously large glass!)


    intergalactic, Cloven Hoof Taxi-cab.

    that sounds a bit ominous but definitely useful . Cheers!


    Anonymous @

    @fatmaninabox is doing some exciting project involving the ground! And it can’t be revealed. You’re like Moffat! And I’m sure whatever the landscaping project, it will be beautiful. The UK country-side always amazes. The sheer quality of the trees, shrubbery and the blossoms. It’s hard in QLD to have anything other than natives -I must get into my garden but I lack the green thumb and fingers of you, my friend. So soon you’ll be a fully qualified Landscaper?

    Here, there are awful people who put ads in letter boxes claiming they are in fact landscapers. I ring them up and have a chat and throw in some words to discover they don’t know anything about landscaping and haven’t been to college to study it  🙁 miserable liars! They could just say “I’m a gardener if you need some help”

    @arbutus points:

    They have introduced legislation that will force democratically-elected school boards to follow their cost-cutting instructions and allow them to fire any boards that refuse. (The phrase “the public good” is predominant in the government’s defense of this legislation.) They are now increasing the amount of funding that goes to private schools (which in British Columbia include both religious schools and high cost, elite, “prep-school” style institutions). Our Education Minister is an evangelical Christian and a former school trustee who once advocated book-banning and corporal punishment in the school system. His own education consists of a high school diploma and broadcasting school. Our Premier’s bio proudly declares attendance at various universities including the Sorbonne, but she holds no degree from anywhere. And yet there is a shocking lack of public awareness that the road we are travelling will lead to the privatization and segregation of education…”

    Goodness, I’m shocked, you know. When things went wrong, people in Oz would always say “we have Canada, we can always go there”. So the funding thing is happening over yonder and here too with our own Educ minister who received his free credentials when I did mine, is happy for the poor (or ‘the average’ -his words) to receive almost no assistance whilst those of excellent ‘social’ backgrounds can push on and pay in advance. Lawyers, doctors and even teachers may come from higher class, or upper middle class backgrounds. Although I suspect the term “upper middle class’ will disappear.

    Me,  I should have been an electrician: a week ago, a 19 year old apprentice leece, popped in a smoke alarm (it had fallen out) and without checking that it had a battery, charged me $45 for this 6 mins job. And it was wrong anyway. That would be about 18 pounds?

    Arbutus @arbutus

    @scaryb  @purofilion

    I’m in. I feel better already!   🙂   Salut!

    Anonymous @

    @scaryb did you just make that picture up?

    Where do you find such hilarious things in such a short space of time?

    You have a Tardis! You are the Doctor!

    Anonymous @


    But you have the financial ability to take travels, occasionally? Not the typical Oz thing which is “so, where you are going for Easter…Christmas….July break?” but just maybe a couple of days away?

    My response is “to hell to get away from you”, generally. It seems everyone has to holiday and then tell everyone about it!! Drives me bonkers. Me, I loved the simple days in the 70s: camping, white sheets flappin on the line, beach, 2 bedroom houses, 1 phone, a library in city centre, BBQs, a dog.

    Yeah, I’m on a bender…

    ScaryB @scaryb


    Nah, not the Doctor… but I do have an intergalactic, Cloven Hoof Taxi-cab!


    (and slainthe back to @arbutus 😉 )

    lisa @lisa

    @arbutus I empathize with your take on the state of education. Fortunately in
    California Governor Brown is starting to pour back the funds to school districts and
    also the decision making to the local districts too. Then there is the ‘common core’
    situation to deal with. Most districts are moving away from textbooks and using
    the internet for curriculum and tablets which is far more cost effective but comes
    with some new issues.
    I came across an interesting article in the ‘Atlantic’ recently. I couldn’t agree
    with it more!
    A philosophy teachers take on the value of teaching humanities

    @scaryb @Purofilion You both need to definitely know about the Doctor Who Hub Channel on FB!
    I’m pretty sure that neither of you will be disappointed- really! If you don’t know about this
    channel yet then we need to fix that

    ScaryB @scaryb

    @arbutus @Purofilion

    And we in the UK always had “oh well, there’s always the colonies if things get too bad here. They do things better in Oz and Canada”   Get it sorted guys!!


    Meanwhile we have possibly the most hard to call ever general election coming up. The Queen dissolved parliament this week (which actually sounds about best thing she could have done with it – about 5 years overdue 😈 ). And British summertime officially arrived. With subzero temperatures, hailstones, gales and cancelled ferries all along the west coast of Scotland. (Swap you some of our cold, for a wee bit of your heat Puro?)



    ScaryB @scaryb

    Hi fives to @lisa

    Grab a straw 🙂 (watch out for the dalek tho 😀 )


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