tealin: (introspect)
Another year, another Québecois song leaps out from the bush and flattens me. This one is ... basically my family history but written by complete strangers??

Video behind cut as the sample image is obnoxiously spoilery... )

Paroles en français )

English lyrics )

So I guess I'm not the only one, then.

(Definitely more on the lopin de terre side than entourée d'enfants, though – happy to leave that much behind.)
tealin: (Default)
As happens every once in a while, I've had the strange feeling all day of missing someone who died seventy years before I was born.

As a longtime devotee of fiction and fictional characters – I take fictional characters inordinately seriously; that's a topic for another post, or possibly therapy – having a cloud of imaginary friends in my head is nothing new, and enjoying their company on and off the page is a fun imaginative exercise as well as dubious coping strategy in rough times. Having this proclivity well established, getting into a massive epic story full of interesting people who happen to have really existed has been, in many ways, much the same thing, prompting many thinks about what the actual, material, quantifiable difference is between someone who is no longer on the planet and someone who never has been.

Here's the thing, though. However attached I might have been to whichever fictional character(s), no matter what I was going through, I never missed them. However much I enjoyed spending time with Remus Lupin or Moist Von Lipwig while reading or drawing them, I never felt their absence when I wasn't doing so. In fact, having "met" them was only ever additive: they weren't in my head, then they were, and always would be. Both Sherlock Holmes and Birdie Bowers exist, now, only in text and images and people's heads, but one has left a hole in the world and the other filled a hole we didn't previously know existed. Is there some intangible something about the impression made in reality by a living breathing human being, vs that of an imagined one, no matter how thoroughly drawn? Is it something you can pick up on subconsciously just by reading about them, or ... something else?

Today's overanalysed lapse in sanity has been brought to you by fatigue straining the fabric of reality and preventing me from doing the work that ought to be taking up my attention.

Pub Lyfe

Aug. 30th, 2017 11:23 pm
tealin: (Default)
I didn't get to the pub last night – spent it all getting a Patreon reward put together – but I did tonight, which was a good thing as I got to eavesdrop on a running club who arrived there shortly after I did.  The first great thing about them was that they all had nicknames: Duracell, Fondue, Irish, Walkie-Talkie, Coppertone, and Bag Lady were the ones I jotted down.  Also these exchanges:

"There are lots of good things about the Mormon church, though, for example they encourage exercise."
"So did the Nazis."

"Billy Graham must be pretty old now ..."
"Well ... he's younger than God."

Much later there was a small group picking sides in the football league tables.  For a while the conversation was the usual numbing sports babble, but winnings came up, and someone asked "what would you do with £100m?" which started a lengthy discussion of debt ("I can't imagine what you'd do with that kind of money if mortgages weren't in the equation"), taxes (if you give money to someone they have to pay taxes on it, but if you buy something for them they don't, apparently), pensions, past experiences with gambling and not gambling, and simply the imaginative exercise of parceling out your hypothetical £100m.  It was the sort of conversational flow I thought was normal, from living in Canada, but which I missed terribly in the States, and I keep trying to figure out why it should be so different – we all speak the same language and have many of the same cultural influences, but Americans tend to talk in straight lines using concrete ideas, whereas others wander all over the place and pull in material from any direction, and use imagination, abstraction, and analysis, just as much as recall or opinion.  What's behind that?  I can't help thinking it has something to do with roadmaps; American highways and grid systems vs older countries' web of organic lines.  But that's probably unquantifiable, so a hunch it will have to stay.

Mr Keohane is proving to be very stubborn, by the way, even after a pint of cider.

tealin: (think)
Ah, the good old Work Thinks ... in which a fairly tedious and low-concentration task gives a lot of spare RAM to the old soggy computer and it spends the spare cycles processing stuff in the queue. It's a positive indication of my mental health the last few years (and my work situation) that its usual preoccupation with the brokenness of the studio/industry, or of various aspects of myself, is off the table, freeing it up to poop out these musings on other matters:

Perhaps the preoccupation with 'dark' things in generations of the last 40 years – e.g. heavy metal, Gothic fantasy, the Millennial fascination with 'the feels' (usually a species of sadness) – have something to do with the attitude that certain ideas and feelings, namely the 'dark' ones, are 'unacceptable.' Perhaps there is something deeper in the human psyche that says: This is the spectrum of life, and you have to be equipped to deal with the whole of it – this is certainly reflected in most traditional cultures' folklore, which doesn't shy away from misfortune or man's capacity for evil. When it's not part of everyday life, or even permitted room in the going social culture, it comes out in personal internal (and shared-on-the-Internet) reverie, as a way of rehearsing the feelings and learning to deal with them, in a way that has been lost – or suppressed? – in society. See also the appeal of 'dark' television shows – Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Hannibal – leading people through a range of emotions they're not allowed to explore in the public sphere anymore, and which hypersanitized children's entertainment would not have run past them when young. The role of fiction generally can be to rehearse and prepare for real-life situations in a safe and contained environment, but as real life situations, and even the possibility of considering hypothetical situations aside from the optimum, have been curtailed to the 'acceptable', subconsciously motivated fascination for the spectrum that falls outside those confines is enhanced.
[Post-Work Thinks: Actually, it seems like people in all cultures, regardless of the gatekeepers' attitudes towards darkness, appreciate dark things in their imaginative worlds; people are drawn to this anyway, it's only in cultures where darkness is feared that such an attraction is considered perverse.]

'Ghost cultures' in the American Midwest – Is there a difference in the collective values and mindset of, say, a Scandinavian-majority community and a German-majority one? Perhaps between Minnesota and Wisconsin? Is the dominant (culturally, if not numerically) immigrant population reflected even now in statistics that measure other things entirely, e.g. openness, neuroticism, etc.?

Brexiteers argue that the problem with immigration is that immigrants don't assimilate. However, the attitude of the nativist Britons who argue this (including, to some extent, the Government) towards those who have assimilated as much as humanly possible – language, family, lifestyle, embedded in the fabric of British society and institutions, etc) proves that assimilation to the desired standard is something impossible to achieve. The only sufficiently British people are people who are already British, and therefore the topic of assimilation is moot.

Well, that's enough thinking for one day, Pat Keohane and I are going to the pub.
tealin: (Default)

Twenty years ago today, the first Harry Potter book hit the shelves. I didn’t pick it up for another two years, but I could never have guessed when I did so what a life-changing reading choice it was. I already knew I wanted to be an animator, but Harry Potter gave a focus to my energies, and the compulsion to draw anything I could from the books gave my drawing skills a necessary boost before college. Putting those drawings online (starting with the one above) made me, weirdly, one of the first Internet fan artists, and the friends I made and the following I gathered from that have been blessings for which I can never be too grateful. For someone who was such a pariah in middle/high school, it still blows my mind that I’m ‘popular’ in another sphere – what might have happened to me otherwise? So hard to imagine … And yet, so many people out there have similar ‘there but for the grace of Harry Potter’ stories they could tell. What an amazing thing to have brought such a catalyst into the world. Thank you, J.K. Rowling, from the bottom of my heart, for being such a positive force!

And no, it hasn't escaped my notice that I am once again compulsively drawing a dark-haired pointy-nosed bespectacled young Englishman ... one might almost be tempted to have Thoughts on this.
tealin: (terranova)
[looks up from piles of black-and-white photos, archival documents, notes scribbled in the margins of books, logic puzzles attempting to place fragments of evidence in a timeline, recollections of academics, collections of academics, disconnected letters, maps, newspaper clippings, webs of causality all leading to tragic consequences, inventories, mysteriously missing accelerants, problematic personalities, suppressed suggestions of betrayal, suspicious deaths, and the conflict between idealistic pursuit of knowledge and self-interested ambition]

You know, sometimes I think about all the mental gymnastics I did over Lemony Snicket in the early 2000s, and wonder when I'll ever find a practical application for those skills.
tealin: (Default)
If you look for proof of something, you're likely to find it.

Pay close attention to what you're looking to prove. Why do you want it to be true? Will proof of it affect you for better or for worse?


Mar. 13th, 2017 07:30 pm
tealin: (Default)
I am back teaching in Viborg, and while my supposed-to-be-ten-day class is once again cut down to eight, this time it's not a national holiday or a school function but because we have a fabulous guest speaker for two days, and as I'm here I get to benefit from it too.

This afternoon he showed the classic short film Father and Daughter (warning: tears) which gave me a surprise of the kind I've come to find familiar when revisiting European things I haven't seen since moving to Europe. At about 6 minutes in, you hear a skylark, and you know that what was once water has been drained and is a field, even before you see it, because you only get skylarks singing above open fields – and this is not a happy accident, because at 6:15 you see the skylark doing its thing, so it's a decision made by someone who knows the associations of the bird.

I've always been a bit into birds – more than a bit, at some times – but I have to say European birds are a different ball game when it comes to what they tell you about the world, when you're familiar with them. I can think of a few North American birds with which I have seasonal associations: mockingbirds in the spring and summer in California, prominently, and the sing-song spring song of the chickadee; when I hear a particular regional variant of the white-crowned sparrow in a film, I know it's shot in BC. But it hardly compares to the richness of communication in European birdlife, which can put you in a place and season and even time of day more effectively than any title card. The song of a blackbird carries all the promise and fulfillment of burgeoning summer, even when they start singing in February. The wing slaps of fighting woodpigeons puts you in tall trees with fresh young leaves, the trilling of long-tailed tits in a winter hedgerow, a cuckoo into bright flowery woodland, the chucks of jackdaws down an old city street with eclectic chimney pots, and the screams of swifts belong in the bright blue summer sky with puffy clouds turning to thunderheads. (Britain's relationship with the robin warrants an entire post of its own ... )

And the thing is, European filmmakers (and radio producers) know this, and use it, because it means something to their audience, even if the audience doesn't realise it. I find it hard to imagine an LA filmmaker using a mockingbird's song to elicit the atmosphere of a warm jasmine-scented night, though it's as much a part of that as anything else. The white-crowned sparrow mentioned above is usually accidental, as the thing shot in BC is almost never supposed to be set there. But then, why should they use communicative bird sounds when their audience isn't going to get the cue either? The long-term urbanisation and population density of Europe means its people rub shoulders more comfortably with their wildlife than Americans/Canadians do with theirs, and are more perceptive of its habits; it helps, too, that European birds have such distinctive characteristics that they're more identifiable than, say, the umpteen variations on "brown thing that goes 'chirp'" which are resident in LA. But it'd still be nice to see more of that sort of attention paid to what makes up one's surroundings, and less in the vein of the quacking Canada goose in Source Code. It's not something you notice being absent from your entertainment until it becomes commonplace ...

FURTHER FEATHERED FILM FACT: I'm almost entirely certain that whatever bird sound was used for the flightless cormorant in Master and Commander was also used for an orc or orc-like creature in Return of the King, something which threw me when I saw the latter. It sounds a bit like the shag, if you want to try spotting it yourself.


Feb. 7th, 2017 10:09 am
tealin: (Default)
I have loads of packing and pre-travel stuff to do, but my brain won't leave me alone about these things I've been wanting to blog about for years, so I'm giving it one hour to say what it wants to say and stop bothering me. These were going to be big long thinky-posts, but I'm forcing myself to keep them to one paragraph.

Media piracy is a big deal, both for content producers (such as myself) and the consuming public, but I don't feel the current conversation is the one we need to be having. There are many grey areas in which limited theft ends up being for the greater good – essentially free marketing – but money has to be part of the equation at some point. The counter-piracy argument is always presented as 'if you don't pay for this film, you're stealing from the people who made it.' That is, essentially, untrue, as very few people who work on the film get any residuals from its profits. What you are doing is preventing things from getting made in the future. The rise of the box set has seen some fantastic television being produced, but it is being produced on the prospect that people will buy the box set, or digital equivalent thereof. Studios budget future projects based on what past ones have made, so if profits from Film B are down from Film A, they have less to give Film C, or decide that they can only make Film E, instead of Films D, E, and F as planned. I have been in meetings where the effects of this cycle are presented very matter-of-factly. When you pirate films, you are stealing from yourself, because your lack of monetary input means YOU will get fewer and lower-quality things to watch in future.

People argue endlessly about which approach to government is correct. There is no correct. There is only what best reflects your priorities. Everyone has a reason for believing what they believe. You can find statistics and studies to back up any argument you want to make, on any side. What it comes down to is a matter of choice. What kind of country do you want to live in? What kind of society? What do you want to put up on a pedestal as being the #1 Important Thing? A nation's government, in a way, projects back to the nation what it values. What values do you want those to be? What sort of people do you want to be allied with, or opposed to? What consequences are you willing to take? What sort of person does that make you? Are you OK with that?


Feb. 5th, 2017 08:58 am
tealin: (4addict)
Barely 24 hours after I post those thoughts about how A Series of Unfortunate Events challenges us to stand up for the Baudelaires around us, Radio 4 has broadcast programmes asking us "Which character in the story are you?" and referring to Yeats' "The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity."

I joke that I'm married to Radio 4 (and Cambridge, the physical embodiment thereof), but I'm starting to wonder if the fraying of reality is making that more true than I thought possible...
tealin: (writing)
Some fandoms are pretty universally popular, and some are so niche they barely qualify as fandoms at all. Snicket fandom falls somewhere in between. Some people are passionate fans, but quite a few dislike the books or 'don't get' them; it's interesting to figure out what it is in a person that clicks with A Series of Unfortunate Events; who ends up liking them and who not.

After much mental chewing on my own small sample group, the best conclusion I've reached on the subject is this: You are more likely to enjoy Lemony Snicket if you are aware of the darker side of life – not necessarily accepting of the darkness, but accepting the awareness of it. If you haven't suffered loss, or been uprooted, or been disappointed in someone you were counting on, or simply prefer not to think about depressing things like these, you are more likely not to 'get' these books and wonder why anyone does. But if you know that, at any moment, your life might be turned upside down and everything you take for granted – even abstract things like kindness, truth, and justice – cast into doubt, you are more likely to look at these maudlin tales of misfortune and have something in you say 'yes, that's how it is.' Overblown and dressed up in a silly costume, yes, but with a kernel of truth, around which the absurdity and poignancy and tongue-in-cheek narration are built up like layers on a gobstopper.

What We 'Get' About Them )

Now we find ourselves in a world where, on an abstract level, these ridiculous tales are suddenly not so far off the mark. This series was written mainly during the G.W. Bush administration, when the culture wars were already well underway, and the idea of educated, cultured urban sophisticates being locked in life-or-death conflict with ignorant and crude but more ruthless people was an entertaining hyperbole of the contemporary climate. Now we've had a US election where those wishing to stick it to 'the elites' have won, and similar forces are in the ascendency across the Eurocentric world. Last week I flicked between the Netflix series and Twitter, with its steady stream of outrage at the smash-and-grab first week of the Trump administration, contingency plans to save libraries, and this classic: “America is a tire fire. The resistance is led by Teen Vogue, Badlands National Park, and the Merriam-Webster dictionary.” ... and I thought, good grief, the ridiculous is now.

We Are All The Baudelaires )

It's not too hard to find a modern parallel for Count Olaf, the egotistical entertainer who will get what he wants by any means necessary, or for those who hitch a ride on his ambition. But is that where we should be looking? )


This popped up from my favourite singer/songwriter today, which seemed relevant:

There is a kind of elegant, uncomfortable wisdom to these times too, no? We are shocked and horrified by the uncovering of hidden hatred, but dormant love and generosity and courage are also coming out of hiding. I think we are all in some version of “hiding", more or less, and in this world it’s becoming harder and harder to hide. Maybe that’s a good thing?
tealin: (writing)
Well, why not make it a thing this series.

I'm going to try to be short, because I have to get back to work. (Hah! Short.)

Immediate Impressions of the Just-Aired Episode of Sherlock, Series 4 )

Back to francophone radio for me now; have fun out there, fandom.
tealin: (Default)
Just watched 'The Six Thatchers' – first reactions –
Super Spoilery Sherlock Somethings )

And that's the point at which my recollection expires ...

Lest you think I am being too critical, I did really enjoy watching it, which to be perfectly honest I was not expecting to do. It's a nice feeling, that buzzing of the fannish nerve; I thought it might be a thing of the past. There have been so many media disappointments, and it seems prohibitively difficult to carry a franchise on this long without dropping the ball somehow, especially when it's got an enormous and very vocal fandom which is tempting and/or rewarding to pander to (or mess with). They've walked a very narrow line with this show and so far done it remarkably successfully ... we'll see if it lasts the whole series!
tealin: (Default)
Well here we are, at the end of another year, and what a year! As well as all other commonly held notions that it set out to shatter, it also disproved the idea that perception of time slows down to fit in more stimuli (e.g. why a long weekend of travel feels equivalent to weeks of sticking to your normal routine). This year was a non-stop news barrage, and my own life was filled with all sorts of things, yet it feels like just a few months ago that I was watching the last light of 2015 fade from the sky.

I have formerly been in the habit of writing a year-end blog post, but I didn't really know where to start with this one – it's pointless going over what made it a remarkable year because you were all there, too, and everyone is doing that anyway, no use adding to the pile.

In looking back over my own personal 2016 I realised that a common thread was starting things and not finishing them. This has always been something of a theme for me, but 2016 brought it to the fore, as I opened more and bigger boxes this year than in years past and none of them have been fully unpacked; some hardly started. Current ongoing business includes:
  • Ireland travel journal
  • Scotland travel journal
  • Academic article (going on two years now)
  • Something like a semi-official relationship with SPRI, only just begun
  • Lots and lots of information gathering with no synthesis or organisation
  • The Mini Big Project which took up most of the summer, which needs revisions before I can share it
  • So many thinky blog posts I've started in my head
... and that's just what I can think of right this minute. I will try to finish these before I open anything new in 2017, but who can say how successful that will be ...

On identifying that aspect of my 2016, though, I found that it could be applied to 2016 globally. It's been an awful year in lots of ways, but – hate to break it to you – lots of those ways are in fact just opening boxes of more awfulness, that will have to be unpacked and sorted in the years to come. A hurricane can sweep through in a day, but it takes years to recover, and the recovery can be harder than weathering the storm in the first place. We've had a lot of shocks this year, but the hard work is yet to come, and will require a lot from all of us.

If this notorious pessimist has any hope for the course of things to come, it's that finally the passionate, fierce, intelligent, interconnected rising generation has something to fight for and against – when things were going their way, they turned their energy on each other, but there's nothing like the unifying power of a common enemy to rally and motivate the troops. There's a lot of potential out there. Every so often humanity is tested on its progress: this appears to be one of those times. I'm no great fan of humanity, but I hope we pass.
tealin: (think)
I think I've figured it out:

Bill Wilson is basically Professor Lupin, if Professor Lupin
  • was real
  • wasn't a werewolf
  • didn't have jerkwad friends
  • didn't die a pointless offscreen death but rather one that was the ultimate consummation of his amazing and inspiring character arc
Bet Cherry wishes he'd thought of that one.
tealin: (introspect)
I've been meaning to write this post for months, but never quite known where to start, so of course now here I am right up against it, with no choice but to blunder in. Please forgive the lack of any sort of coherence ... a stew may not be so palatable as a plated meal, but I hope at least it's as nutritious.

As every commentator under the sun has been saying for months now, this election has been full of surprises. The main surprise generally seems to be that Donald Trump, with his divisive, unapologetic, dare I say flamboyant rhetoric can have sustained the popularity he has done, when common wisdom has it that such talk should alienate the vast majority of calm, sensible people in the centre, who one has to win over to get a majority of the vote.

Frankly, what has surprised me is that this has come as a surprise to so many people.

I spent my teenage years in suburban Utah, surrounded by a conservative Republican society, in a house where right-wing talk radio and pundit TV were a constant presence. It was not the most benign place to come of age, but this year I have come to see beyond the damage of that experience and recognise that it was, in a way, a privilege to get a glimpse over the hedge. Thanks to that environment I understand (or at least feel like I understand) what is going on in the news, when people who didn't grow up with it are shocked and confused. For what it's worth, I'd like to share my perspective with you. It is by no means comprehensive or well-informed, but I hope that maybe by seeing it through my eyes, some of the pieces will fall into place.

This has been a long time coming. )

The lesser of two weevils )

And the painted ponies go up and down... ) You might not have known they were there, or what they thought, or why they thought it, but that doesn't mean they didn't exist. Now you know. The US is going to have to take a long, hard look in the mirror after this election, and it may not like what it sees there, but at least it will finally be forced to see both sides of its face. What it does with that knowledge is anyone's guess, but if there's any silver lining to the smoke cloud billowing from this Hindenburg, it's that breaking out of denial is the only way to move forward. Maybe. If that's what you want to do. I don't know, I'm going to bed.

Important Notes on the Bible verses )
tealin: (introspect)
Inspired by Lucy Bellwood's erstwhile Inktober theme of drawing the negative thoughts and insecurities that plague her, I thought I'd get a few of mine down on paper and out of my head, for the time being at least. It's remarkable how flimsy they look when you give them concrete words and limit them to an ink silhouette on a piece of paper.

All 31 are stuffed in this box )

I can't say this has freed me from all of them – I am, at the moment, in a happy place where they don't bother me too much, but that could change again – but it has been valuable and therapeutic to encapsulate what's usually a formless toxic miasma. And hearing from others who have to deal with the same things has removed the power inherent in the belief that these are problems only I have to deal with because they grow uniquely out of my unique failings. Strength in numbers! Only you don't know your numbers if you never mention what might unite you ...
tealin: (Default)
Next in the series of articles I don't have time to write, and so am planting in your imagination:

"A Comparison Between Irish Independence From the UK, and the UK's Independence From the EU"

Points would be:
- A sudden schism upending a pre-existing series of negotiations for greater autonomy (Easter Rising/Referendum)
- Pro-schism factions calling upon romantic notions of nationhood to trump the economic and logistical sense of remaining in what was at the time the most profitable, secure, stable economic/social/political union in the world
- The further dissolution of internal nations (Ulster/Scotland)
- Post-schism mismanagement of key sectors in the economy (Fianna Fail and agriculture/trade war with Britain; The Death of British Business about how the financial services sector has been undermined)

If someone wants to take that and write it, I would really love to read it.
tealin: (actually)
I have had a grand total of two conversations today. They have covered:
  • The American reluctance to tell sad stories to children (or indeed, anyone) and how this might engender a detached attitude to 'terrible things'
  • Who would be damaged first by a Trump presidency, the US or the rest of the world
  • Using cocaine as a topical anaesthetic for corneal sunburn during the Heroic Age of polar exploration
  • Correlation (or not) of crankiness with miniaturism
  • The atomic weights of carbon and oxygen and whether it's more humane to kill lab mice with CO or CO2
I think I'll stay.
tealin: (CBC)
My mind always turns back to Canada around the beginning of October, so none of this should be surprising. Nearly every year I lived in LA, I made sure to go back to BC for Canadian Thanksgiving (the second Monday in October), so as soon as there's a chill in the wind and the leaves go whispery, I get that migratory tingle. Like a goose.

Canada has been on my mind a lot lately; whether this is brought on by that raft of CBC-listening I did a couple weeks ago, or if that was sparked by some subconscious rumbling, I don't know. I am feeling its pull, though, in a way I never expected to do here. Is it a case of finally getting comfortable and so opening up to uncertainty? Or simply 'the grass is always greener'...? Given that coastal BC is a temperate rainforest, the grass is greener there than in lots of places – but that's beside the point.

I absolutely adore Cambridge. I have never felt so at home anywhere. I tell anyone I talk to for more than ten minutes that I would marry Cambridge if I could. We've got a good thing going on, and I feel a little bit dirty even to consider the possibility of leaving, but ... I do. It would help if I had any confidence in the likelihood of my being allowed to stay – when the political atmosphere grows daily darker as far as immigration is concerned, one is not tempted to trust in the mercy of those who hold one's visa renewal in their hands, or be tempted to put down roots of any serious kind. It might also help if I had much experience with staying put – I don't think I've lived at one address for more than three years since college, and life has conditioned me to start wondering 'what next?' as soon as I start to settle in somewhere.

But I can't help wondering if there's more to it than that. I am acutely aware that I am a willing part of Canada's brain drain, and I don't like that. While it's perversely in-character for Canada to play The Giving Tree, it's a brilliant country and deserves to shine, and I'd like to contribute to that shine, if I could. I've been away as long as I lived there, now, but I still identify with its values and still operate under its cultural conditioning, for better or worse. Having been through rather a dark period in the last ten years, Canada has exploded back into being itself, harder than before, and this is exciting. The ramp-up to the sesquicentennial next year is only adding to that. It's a good time to be Canadian, and I'm all the way over here.

Now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children are off on a Canadian visit, and visiting BC at that. It'll be all over the British news for the next bit, and I'll be seeing the early-October face of BC which was the only face I saw for so many years. Cue those comfortingly familiar homesickness pangs.

Then I start wondering where I'd want to live if I moved back, do Google Street View virtual tours of places I hold in some haze of fantasy, and see that the streets are too wide and the houses too far apart and how does anyone live like this? There are no trains. Too many straight lines. It gets hot in the summer and it's a long long way from anywhere to anywhere.

I came here for a reason, and for the next couple years at least I need to focus on that, so that if I am sent back at the end of it, I will at least have made the most of my time. It is good, in some small way, to know there is a part of me that is ready to go home, so that if it does happen and I spend the rest of my days pining for Cambridge, I'll know where to pin the blame.

In the meantime, I really must find a copy of I Heard The Owl Call My Name ...


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