Jan 28, 2020

Kate A. Hardy -- Londonia

Our friend Kate Hardy has a serious novel out with a serious publisher printed as a serious hardcover:

The book

The author
We are intensely jealous, of course.

(From the press release:)

Londonia is a magnificently immersive page-turner. Set in 2072, it seems at first to be a dystopia in which the internet and other modern technologies have collapsed. An elite have sealed themselves up in Central London, while everyone else has to get on as best they can, making-do, bartering, and cooperating with their neighbours. Moving between the two societies is Hoxton, a "Finder" of desirable objects, her own past a mystery to be solved, with the help of new friends. Can hope and friendship survive in this strange new world? . . .

(This is how it starts:)

‘Oi! Second floor. Is Tom Ov-Brixton in there?’ Tom takes a drag on the clay pipe and squints at me through the  smoke.  ‘Scrote. That’s  my  hitch—gotta  get  to  the  Forrist  before  darking.’  He  abandons  the  pipe,  rolls  on  top  of  me  and  kisses my forehead. ‘Beauteous, you are.’ I trace a finger over his lips. ‘You too.’ As  we  gaze  at  each  other  a  brassy  note  sounds  in  the  street,  followed by the same voice, now more insistent. Tom leaves the bed and starts stuffing things into his kitbag.  ‘Merda! Can’t find my wrist-clock.’ I  hold  the  weathered  disc  out  to  him  as  he  hops  about,  one  leg  trousered,  the  other  a  naked  white  streak  in  this  dim  room.  ‘Here—it was under your felty.’ He pulls on the rest of his jeans, yanks the belt’s teeth into a well-used notch and takes the timepiece from me. ‘Wouldn’t want to go without that.’ ‘What’s the point of wearing it?’ ‘Hands  still  move,  don’t  they?  Useful  for  calculating  how  much work time’s been done—aclockface,two,three. . . any lane, it was Dad’s. Not worth nothing but it’s a . . .’ ‘Mascot? Talisman?’ ‘Where d’you come from, wordsmith dame?’ He grins at me, face still rosy after the activity that has made this bed so warm. I risk the icy chill, slip out from the covers and scoot to the win-dow,  a  blanket  about  me.  A  makeshift  carriage  waits  outside fronted by two horses, their breath pluming white. A man sitting behind  them  looks  up  at  this  window,  waves  his  arms  in  a  gesture of frustration and yells. ‘I foitling said, is Tom Ov-Brixton in there?’ Heaving up the sash I call down. ‘Just coming.’ Tom  snorts  a  laugh,  shoves  the  last  item  into  his  bag  and  envelops me, blanket and all into a hug. ‘Sorry, I gotta go, and so sorry you can’t stay here.’ I  kiss  his  now-anxious  face.  ‘It’s  fine.  I’m  ready  to  explore  this . . . Londonia—find my way.’ ‘D’accord. They’ll be here soon-time. Tell ’em thanks for the loan of the room.’ ‘I will.’ ‘Can’t xacly take your address, can I?’ ‘Not until I get one.’ He  smiles  sadly.  ‘Write  me,  p’raps.  Ov-Brixton,  Hepping-forrist—might  find  me.  There’s  a  horse-letter-mec  what  goes  in  that direction—from Bethy-green.’ The  brassy  note  shrills  again  and  I  look  out  to  see  the  now  furious-looking man, trumpet in hand. ‘Pizzin’ come  on—got  three  more  to  pick  up  and  Clasher  territory t’get through.’ Tom  shouts  out  a  response,  hugs  me  tight  once  more  then  he’s gone, footsteps clattering on the stairs. I consider the vast everything and nothing before me. I should perhaps  layer-up  and  get  out  there  to  pace  the  streets  and  find          .  .  .  the  next  piece  of  this  life,  but  the  bed  beckons  again  even  with its biting population. The people that own these two rooms will  return  when  the  sun  is  directly  overhead  but  as  the  sky  is  once   again   a   sullen   mass   of   cloud,   it’ll   be   impossible   to   anticipate  their  arrival.  Tom  said  the  merde-mec  always  passes  late morning with his cart of shit-filled buckets, so I’ll wait until then. The bed is still warm. I burrow down into the crackling straw and sweet-stale wool covers; curl, foetus-like, try to remember—anything  from  before  these  last  few  days  of  his  kindness.  A  limpid  blankness  stares  back  at  my  mind’s  eye  before  somnolence fills my conscience. A rattling sound from the street disturbs my slumber. Merde-mec? His call affirms. ‘Bring out yer merde, an’ scraps. Egg for a pail.’ Least I can do for the owners of this place. Hopping out from the covers I cram on shoes and coat and go into the tiny kitchen. The bucket of peelings is full, the other vessel, about half, judging  by  its  weight—no  desire  to  lift  the  lid  .  .  .  I  take  them  and  join  the  other  residents  walking  down  the  stairs  with  their  own  various wastes. The conversation is of never-ending cold, a possible arrival of some charitable and benevolent outfit and scoop-trucks. As we reach the downstairs hall, I ask a man in front of me what these are. He looks at me beneath impressive eyebrows as if I am from a different planet—which I could be. ‘Just don’t be out on the street if you hear a sound like this.’ He  emits  a  wailing  cry  to  which  another  resident  prods  him—‘Nah—more  like  this.’  The  hallway  is  filled  with  eerie  moans  until an old woman clangs her pail with a walking stick. ‘Foitlin’ shut it! Don’t we fear it enough wivout you lot doin’ a re-run.’ 

(You can order the book here, or here; enjoy!)

Jan 23, 2020

Portugal (23) -- Returning to France

Chang shot this picture this morning in the Heineken Bar of Terminal II of Lisbon airport:

(The lower right quadrant is not photo-shopped, it's just a  TV screen)

The house-hunt failed, at least in the sense that we didn't find the ideal place; we'll try again in March.

(Chang asks me to add that we didn't actually drink Heineken at this bar at 7 AM; we had pretty, yet overpriced Cappucini instead)

Jan 21, 2020

Portugal (22) -- this afternoon

The walk to the Praia do Norte  (the northern beach -- that's where the big waves happen) takes us past a deer sanctuary:

Jan 17, 2020

Portugal (20)

A rainy day on the beach of Nazaré (still house-hunting):

Picture, as always, by Chang 

Jan 12, 2020

Nazaré again -- Portugal (19)

We've just arrived in Nazaré, Portugal, for a glass of Sangria and a house-hunt. Wish us good luck. Picture taken on the patio of our favourite beach haunt, the Inn Bar




Jan 5, 2020

Star Wars Episode IX -- Review

We're still living in Le Trayas, 19 kilometers from Cannes, or 19 quilometros, as they say in Portugal, whereto we are planning to relocate. We kept a Netflix subscription for three or four months last year, during which we watched ONE movie. So we canceled Netflix and decided to resume our occasional excursions to Cannes, where the theaters may show movies in English. And yesterday we went to see the latest Star Wars movie...uh, what was the title..."The Rise of Skywalker" (yes).

This is the Esterel, seen from Cannes, the "mountain" range where we live

I don't quite remember, but this may have been my first time to walk out of a movie before it ended. I had read the reviews, which were so-so, but not devastating.
You watch this movie like you're reading a recipe...
-- "Make sure to satisfy all demographics that count, and don't forget the Marsians and all the other good people of the galaxy;"
-- "Make sure to ignore the established laws of physics, because hard-working American Families, including Donald Trump's, don't care" (so we have this obnoxious space travel going on all the time, and it's particularly grating that we are informed that they travel at the speed of light (meaning, if they are crisscrossing a serious galaxy, that they would still need hundreds or thousands of years to get anywhere));

We could serve as a Star Wars location, save for the beach umbrella

-- "Make sure to separate GOOD from EVIL."
-- "Don't offend anybody," meaning that SELF-HELP is the only permissible ideology/religion left to support the GOOD GUYS. And so we are constantly treated to blatant falsehoods such as 'You can do anything, if you want,' or 'Good people will fight, if we need them,' or 'The force will be with you, always,' or 'Was this review helpful?'
-- (as a lemma to the last ingredient:) "Don't use swear words, or any such thing. And...sex is out of the question, unless it happened light years ago between Harrison Ford and Princess Leia."

So, we walked out. It was Chang, partner and photographer, who noted that I was constantly looking at my watch, and suggested that we'd leave.
The special effects are trying to be more special than any previous special effects, and this race is going on now for a hundred years. As this movie shows, there are special limits. We liked the special waves, though (link), because the place we are moving to in Portugal has the highest surfable waves on the planet:

Nazaré, on November 22, 2018

Have a look at the link. Nazaré's waves are better.

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