anef: (anef2)
We spent yesterday at the law faculty listening to classicists being enthusiastic.  It was a huge amount of fun, as everybody had 20 minutes to talk about their latest book, or an aspect of their work, and definitely pitched at the general reader, rather than the academic.

Standouts included Jerry Toner, on How to Manage Your Slaves (notionally by Marcus Sidonius Falx, a Roman).  "I tried to get the author to come along to talk about his book but he was a bit dismissive.  He refused to come half way across the known world to talk to a bunch of Britunculi, without an eques or a senator amongst them."

Edith Hall, Harry Sidebottom and Natalie Haynes did a triple act which approached the status of stand up - Michael was giggling all the way through.

Michael Scott and Tom Holland were enthusiastic and engaging on Delphi and Herodotus respectively.  By then we had met up with S WINOLJ whom we know a little from fandom, and who is doing an OU classics degree.  S (who is female) and I engaged in a discussion of how ridiculously good-looking Michael Scott is, and how distracting it is when you're trying to listen to what he's saying. "Is the the one in the middle?" asked Michael.  "I can't see that he's good-looking".  Later we caught sight of him standing by the signing table.  "He's not even that tall," said Michael, in the way of someone making a point.  "I'm taller than him."

David Stuttard was dramatic and fascinating on famous Greeks, despite having quite a serious speech impediment.  He's written a lot on drama and I have made a mental note to look for his books on plays in the UL.

I bought a book (Twelve Voices from Greece and Rome), resisted many more that all looked fascinating and added another couple to my wish list, which is already full of Too Many Classics Books to Read.
anef: (anef2)
Pottered down to the embankment at 3.00 pm today to watch the Tour go by.  Would have had a good view (sitting on a wall, up some steps) had it not been for the 10,000 other office workers who decided to do the same thing and stand in front of me.  And then it began to rain, after the BBC had promised, promised! that there would be no rain today.  After about an hour we saw some helmets go past very quickly.  Then back to the office.  Hey, ho.
anef: (anef2)
...which probably everyone else knew already, but I didn't.  I particularly didn't realise how strong UKIP are in the East of England, which they have used as an example (scroll down to the table).

http://www.democraticaudit.com/?p=4636
anef: (anef2)

I had plans for this morning. They involved doing my physio exercises, making a stew for this week’s dinners, having a leisurely breakfast and setting off in good time to meet friends at Cambridge station to go up to London to see King Lear at the National Theatre. They did not involve a trip to the emergency vet.

However, when I got up Freddy did not rush to greet me demanding fuss as is his wont. I looked around, couldn’t find him and assumed that he had not come home last night. A little worrying, but something he does occasionally in the Summer.

Then as I glanced into the back bedroom I noticed him sitting quietly on a floor cushion. I went to say hello, and he got up to be stroked, which was when I discovered that he was limping badly on one hind leg and couldn’t in fact put his foot on the floor. Cue a visit to the vet, who discovered a deep cut on the top of the foot, though no broken bones, and a slight fever. Then cleaning, bandaging, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory juice, and a great deal of protestations from monsieur. So now he’s confined to the back bedroom until the foot heals up. Antibiotics twice a day, anti-inflammatory once a day, and absolutely no going outside. But he seems better already, in that he can now put the foot down and limp around on it. I am hoping that the bandaging will last until Wednesday, when I have to take him to my normal vet for a check up. I’m not betting on it, though.

anef: (anef2)
For some years now I've been having a problem with one of my molars.  It's been sensitive to pressure,and increasingly to hot and cold. I changed dentists because my old one filled it twice and still couldn't fix it.  Jenny, my new dentist, took X-rays which were unrevealing and said, "Well, I can try to fill it again, or you can wait till it gets worse."  On the grounds that filling it again still might not work I decided to take the waiting option.

It got worse, then a bit fell off just before we went to Jordan last year.  I rang the dentist from the airport.  "Are you in pain?" asked the receptionist.  "No."  Then keep it clean and we'll see you when you get back."  I went round Jordan with a bottle of the most disgusting mouthwash I had ever tasted, which I used twice a day after brushing.

Anyway, when I got back Jenny was away on holiday, so her colleague Harold filled it.  Hurrah, I thought.  Now surely it will be fixed.  But it wasn't.  Although it was less sensitive, I could still feel it when I bit down on small hard things, like seeds and black pepper.

Then a few weeks ago another bit fell off.  "If this doesn't work we'll have to put a crown on it," said Jenny, as she filled it again.  It held until the Eastercon, when I noticed a large crack had formed on the inside face.  As it happened I had a hygienist appointment on Wednesday, so I asked her about it.  She took a look, consulted Harold, who said that it needed to be fixed as soon as possible.  So I made an appointment for two weeks' time, which is the earliest anyone could see me.

And now today, the bit where the crack was has fallen out.  It would be comic if it wasn't so annoying (and potentially painful).  So it's back to the mouthwash and keeping it clean.  How fortunate that I have half a bottle left after the Jordan episode.

I feel I should mention that over the years Jenny has done a lot of good work on my teeth and all the others have been fine.  It's just this one.  I think I'm going to take to drink.  Alcohol - that has an antiseptic effect, doesn't it?
anef: (anef2)
So yesterday C (winolj) and I went to the vet to collect Freddy and bring him home.  C was there for moral support (M was at work) and also to make sure that I asked all the right questions (not always easy if you're by yourself).   Freddy has a feeding tube taped to his oesophagus and I need to give him antibiotics twice a day.  I also need to make up and feed him a packet of liquid food, 200 ml per day, and there's also some metacam, which is an anti-inflammatory (and pain relief).  His jaws are sutured together, and he is wearing a plastic cone round his head.

"We haven't seen any faeces since he's been in," said the vet.  "And if he doesn't have a bowel movement in the next three days you'll have to feed him liquid paraffin."  I wasn't looking forward to this.  However, we were trained in the use of the feeding tube.  And there would be staff there over Christmas in case I needed help.

We have borrowed a crate from Ashley and put it in the kitchen so that Freddy can at least look out of the window while he's getting better.  It has room for Freddy, a cat bed, and a litter tray.  As soon as we decanted him into the crate he started throwing himself around it in a worrying way.  It took us a minute to realise that he was trying desperately to get into the litter tray, but couldnt because of his collar.  I hastily shunted the tray into the middle of the crate so he could get in, and he leaped onto it, but too late.  A couple of very small faecal deposits were sitting on the cat bed, and there was blood on them.

I rang the vet in a Good News, Bad News sort of way.  I explained that he had had bowel problems some years ago, but not recently. She said not to give him the metacam, but otherwise carry on as planned.  So that evening C held him while I put stuff down his tube.  He's a very wriggly cat, and I can't see how I'm going to be able to do this by myself.  M has kindly volunteered to get up early to help me in the mornings.  This is a heroic act of self-sacrifice, and should not be undervalued.
anef: (anef2)
Phone call on Thursday at work from the vet - somebody had brought Freddy in after having run him over.  Apparently Freddy just ran under his car wheels, which I can't say surprises me.  Freddy and Raffles both trot backwards and forwards across the road, and while mostly they look, sometimes I think they don't look hard enough.

"Is there hope?" I asked.

"I think so," said Ashley.  She's the office manager for the vet practice and also a foster parent for Cats Protection - in fact she's Freddy's foster mother.  She passed me over to the vet who explained that she thought Freddy had fractured his pelvis, and his head was bleeding, and he'd broken a tooth.  They needed to do X-rays and they thought he would need surgery.  Also they wanted to refer him to a more specialist team, and if they could get him a place there that day he would need transport.

I was stuck at work in London, and wasn't sure I could get back in time to ferry Freddy over, but fortunately La Marquise was at home and came to my rescue, or rather Freddy's rescue for which I am eternally grateful.  She also later came round with some consolatory red wine and the latest Janet Evanovich which was pretty much what I needed.

So anyway, the good news is that they sedated Freddy on Friday and took a closer look at him.  They decided they didn’t need to operate for his pelvis – they think it will get better by itself.  He has a broken jaw, however, and they’ve had to wire his mouth almost shut – there’s just enough room for his tongue to come out.  They’re feeding him by tube at the moment but hoping that if he can learn to lap they can take the feeding tube out.  He’ll also need 3-4 weeks of crate rest with no jumping.  They’re also a bit worried about one of his eyes so are putting eye drops in and keeping an eye on it.

I'm hoping we can go and visit later today.
anef: (anef2)
Here we are at Novacon.  Did I really stay up till 2 am last night drinking red wine in the bar with Doubting Michael, Bohemian Coast, and other friends that we don't see nearly often enough, namely dmw, Claire Fishlifter and Ms Catabolism?  Clearly I did, and I have the headache to prove it (only  a small one).  I blame those  darn time travelling toilets  (you had to be there).  I thought I was going back to an earlier version of Novacon, but instead I went back to an earlier version of me.
anef: (anef2)
It's difficult to work in my room at the moment as it overlooks one of my neighbour's buddleias.  Every time my gaze drifts away from the screen I spot another butterfly that I don't recognise, and I either have to try to identify it or rush outside to get a better view.

I should explain that I'm actually very ignorant about butterflies, and the ones that I can identlfy without looking them up are Cabbage Whites and Red Admirals.  And we've had plently of the former.  But we've also had Peacocks (what seems like hundreds of them), and I have also spotted a Comma, some small Tortoiseshells, and the other day a Gatekeeper.  That wasn't even on the ten most common list! (See  here for pictures:  http://www.britishbutterflies.co.uk/identification.asp)

It has been the most astonishing summer for butterflies.  Our garden is (quite unintentionally) bee and butterfly friendly - both we and our neighbour have a number of buddleias, and we've got quite a few herbs that insects love - lavender, sage, pot marjoram, oh, and a thistle.  So normally we get lots of bees.  But I've never seen so many butterflies.  Let's hope that they breed successfully.

Nice day

Jun. 16th, 2013 07:25 am
anef: (anef2)
Took a picnic down to the river yesterday to watch the college bumps.  My friend H WINOLJ lives in Fen Ditton, so we went down to the Plough with our picnic baskets and took the punt ferry across to the other bank.

Sat in the sunshine and ate olives and bread and pate, and drank prosecco and pink wine and Pimms. Watched a couple of divisions and then it came on to rain.  Of course we all had waterproofs and umbrellas, and A and C had even brought their waterproof trousers (hello English summer!) but we were getting very soggy, so returned to H's to dry off and watch tennis on her TV.

Of course then the sun came out, so A and H and I went back to the Plough and watched the last three divisions.  We didn't bother to cross the river again but went and stood at the left hand end of the garden under a willow tree to watch the crews practise their starts as they went up the river.  Fit young men in lycra, what's not to like?  A explained that he actually preferred fit young women in lycra, but there were some of those as well.

A mother duck and one duckling were trying to cross the river in between boats, a very dangerous undertaking.  Every time they set off a boat would nearly crash into them, and they had to scramble back to shore.  We speculated unkindly on how many ducklings she had started the day with.

A couple of bumps happened right in front of us, which was very exciting, except that one was the Newnham first boat being bumped again for the third time that week (my old college, boo!).  Then back to H's to watch more tennis, and H cooked us a barbeque in her back garden, which was lovely except for the chilly wind.

Summer in Cambridge.
anef: (anef2)
I want to talk about Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan because it's really winding me up.  I've just finished reading it, and I find it hard to understand why she wrote it like this.  It's a YA novel set in a small town in the Cotswolds.  The author is Irish, and she's writing about England.  Why then is the book written in American?  The characters slap their asses and talk about "buns of steel", they eat cookies and keep their mobile phones in their purses.  Why?  If Brennan wants to appeal to the American market, why not set it in a small town in America and have done with it?

All the girls have lived in this small English town for their whole lives, so it's a bit disconcerting to find that they and their families speak wholly American.  The boys, Jared and his cousin Ash, have at least the excuse of having recently come here from the States.

The characters all go to the local school, and they appear to be mostly in the Lower Sixth (if people still call it that) apart from Jared, who is being forced to take GCSEs because his schooling is so behind.  Clearly one reason why is that he regularly takes off from school to sulk and ride his motorbike.  He never seems to have any discussion with his teachers about this habit, or indeed what subjects he can reasonably expect to take having been in the American system. 

The rest of them are presumably doing A levels, except that they are terminally vague about what subjects they are actually studying.  Oh, the girls go to English class, and some of them go to Political Science (is there actually a Political Science A-level or is this some form of general studies?)  I wouldn't carp so much, except that at one point we are told that Kami wants to study hard and go to Cambridge to study journalism. She will be out of luck if she tries to apply to Cambridge University, as that isn't a subject that they offer, but perhaps she means to go to Anglia Ruskin.  It's in any case academic as the amount of homework that she and her friends do (exactly none) will not get her through  A-levels or into any university in the UK.  And there's no discussion of how Kami or her family are going to pay for her university years.

Oh, well.  I'm clearly not the target audience.  But there were things that I enjoyed about it.  The dialogue is snappy, the plot interesting, and the descriptions of the countryside have a concreteness and a charm that the school scenes lack.  Am I wrong in asking for a degree of gritty realism comparable to say, Harry Potter or Buffy?

anef: (anef2)
After snow, rain brings
the thaw.  Eyes inured to white
Find green surprising.
anef: (anef2)
"He's starting to be a frequent flyer, isn't he?" remarked the vet as I took Freddy in to see her for the severalth time in the last few months. 

I was worried because he has been drinking more than usual, and jumping up onto the sink to drink out of the pans soaking in there.  I looked on the internets and they said doom, doom, kidney failure, diabetes, ect, take your cat to the vet immediately, so I thought it would be sensible to do so.

Anyway she prodded him and took his temperature and took a urine sample, and he seems to be fine and is especially not suffering from kidney failure.  She said the next step was blood tests, but given that it is unnaturally cold at the moment he may just be missing outside sources of water (for instance if my neighbour's water feature happens to have frozen over) so to keep an eye on him and come back in a few weeks if things do not improve.

So, panic over for the time being.
anef: (anef2)
In case anyone in Cambridge is interested, my club is running an induction course for beginners as per the link below:

http://championrowing.org.uk/2013/01/inductions-for-new-rowers-and-coxes-deadline-5-jan-2013/

I have no idea if there are any places left, but I am assuming that there are as they have sent me a reminder about it.

Please feel free to ask me any questions if interested.
anef: (anef2)
Total books read in 2012 - 118

Best f and sf (in order of reading)

The Magicians - Lev Grossman
The Interior Life - Katherine Blake
The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
Runemarks - Joanne Harris
The Dazzle of Day - Molly Gloss
The Book of a Thousand Days - Shannon Hale
Blindsight - Peter Watts
General Winston's Daughter - Sharon Shinn
Flora's Fury - Ysabeau Wilce

Best other (N/F = non-fiction)

The Hare with Amber Eyes - Edmund de Waal N/F
Magnetic North - Sara Wheeler N/F
Trustee from the Toolroom - Neville Shute
The Best of Everything - Rona Jaffe
Nansen - Roland Huntsford N/F
The Language of Flowers - Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Gates of Fire - Steven Pressfield
The Hippopotamus Marsh - Pauline Gedge
Seabiscuit - Laura Hillenbrand N/F
First Ladies of Rome - Anneliese Freisenbruch N/F
Started Early, Took My dog - Kate Atkinson
Berlin Noir - Philip Kerr

Update

Dec. 4th, 2012 01:58 pm
anef: (anef2)
So, um, yes, the hip operation.

I apologise for keeping quiet about this beforehand.  To be honest, I found the whole thing quite stressful and was trying not to think about it too much, which is my usual response to Very Worrying Things.

To go back to the beginning, I've had a problem with a pain at the top of my right hip for some time now.  It seems quite likely that it was a running injury.  Sometimes it was worse and sometimes it was better, but I haven't been able to run and when it has been bad walking upstairs has been quite painful, and it has occasionally kept me awake at nights.  I have been able to walk on the flat, ski and row, so although it has put a serious crimp in my general fitness I have more or less been able to manage. 

After months of physiotherapy, and osteopathy, and sports massage, my osteopath said:  "Anne, it isn't getting any better.  I think you should go for some scans."  I had an X-ray which showed that there wasn't a problem with the bone, and an MRI scan, which showed that there were actually a couple of problems very close together, which were a small tear in the cartilage at the front of the hip, and a small tear in one of the muscles where it attaches onto the femur.

The consultant had been vaguely muttering about keyhole surgery, which I had understood to be minimally invasive, and quick to recover from, so when he said I would need four weeks off work and at least three months of physio I was a bit gobsmacked and forgot to ask him any of the really important questions, such as "How many of these have you done, and what was the success rate?"  I actually had to arrange another appointment with him so I could ask the right questions.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I had the operation on Thursday, and it seems to have gone well.  He says that he has fixed both the problems (although I could have sworn that when he explained it to me he was only going to do the cartilage, and hope that physio would sort out the other, but whatever.)  I am getting about quite well on crutches, have about four pages of physio exercises to do three or four times a day (which I am doing) and a bag full of painkillers.

Michael says people have been asking about visiting, to which the answer is yes, please do if you would like, it would be lovely to see people, and I am not really getting out much at the moment.
anef: (Default)

A truncated day.  M and I spend most of the morning going to the nearest post office and parcelling up the books to be posted home.   Eventually we are finished and we have lunch at a small French café on Broughton Street – baguettes and tarts and coffee.  Then we try to get a bus to the Pleasance, but the automated timetable for the number 8 bus says there are none for half an hour and the two at once.  We decide to walk.

Helen Keen, Robot Woman of Tomorrow, is entertaining enough, but the venue is very hot and I nod off a couple of times.  Then K wants to go to Waverley to buy a ticket for tomorrow.  We stagger down the hill to the flat.

Dinner with L at L’Escargot Bleu.  They have run out of truffle liqueur for the aperitifs, oh noes!  But things get better.  I have oysters, with traditional accompaniments, and seaweed butter for the bread.  Then rabbit leg with prunes, the meat sweet and tender, the sauce sweet and rich.  We drink a very nice red wine called Le Chataignier.  Karen and I share cheese for pudding.  Nice cheese, the quantities a bit scanty. 

Then back up the hill to the Book Festival to see Christopher Brookmyre and Mark Billington.  We are determined to get there in time, and in the end spend about fifteen minutes in a very long queue.  I am not sure what we were expecting – we booked it because both M and I like Christopher Brookmyre, and neither of us had heard of the other bloke.  Traditionally the book festival is rather genteel.  This is a riot. 

The authors stand on the stage side by side, exchanging anecdotes that are increasingly obscene and hilarious, reading out readers’ emails and discussing the BBC’s policy on swear words.  Brookmyre once submitted a radio play with forty instances of the F word.  Forty was deemed to be too many.  He was allowed fifteen.  They wondered whether writers could organise to share quotas, and whether they might be allowed to swap five F words for a C word.  It was funnier than any of the stand-up shows we had been to, and the audience was screaming with laughter.  A fitting end to the holiday.

anef: (Default)

Visit to M’s parents’ flat to go through stuff.  M finds books and a picture he would like to keep.  I also find some books.  We lug back to flat on the bus.

Lunch at an Italian restaurant on Broughton St – Locanda de Gusti.  We order a mixed platter, and are astonished by a huge number of small dishes, some hot (pepper stuffed with couscous and pesto, grilled vegetables with tapenade, fried sausages and potatoes), some cold (spicy sausage, anchovies, seafood salad, rocket salad).  While we are eating some other people come in and order the day’s special, which seems to be an enormous assortment of crab, crayfish and prawns.  It looks amazing.  Maybe I will have to come back another time.  Having cleaned all our plates, we go on to Italian desserts (I have a cannolo, M has sfogliatella and K has plum and almond cake) and coffee.

Then up to the Spiegeltent in George Square, for A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  The company start off as a group of teenagers in detention, forced to read the play by their dynamic teacher, Mr Goodfellow.  But then the scene opens up and we get to Athens.  It’s an excellent production, probably one of the best that I’ve seen (and that includes my visit to The Globe in London).  The text has been expertly cut, including the fairies who are only present as a murmur of sound in the background.  The cast deliver their lines with clarity and understanding.  There’s a lot of physical comedy.  The rustics are funny, Oberon and Titania are sexy.  Thoroughly enjoyable.

Then we have a couple of hours before the Les Clochards in a different tent about 50 yards away.  We sit on a bench in the sunshine and eat spicy bahn mi baguettes.  The Les Clochards are a band dressed as tramps, who perform high energy versions of songs that they complain bitterly were stolen from them.  Standout ones were Like a Virgin, Girls just Wanna have Fun, and Sledgehammer (“Do you know where that Peter Gabriel lives?” they ask plaintively).  For an encore two of them came out wearing only their tattoos and very holey underpants, and sang The Number of the Beast, which was just gob-smacking.

Then off to two less successful performances, the Trojan Women (but not unfortunately the Euripides version), and Tania Edwards, a stand-up comedian. The flyers for her show, Killer Instinct, picture her holding a tabby cat, and the blurb refers to an unhappy ending with a cement mixer.  “I bet the cat gets it” I mutter as we and the other six audience members head into the venue.  And indeed it does.

anef: (Default)

K and I rush M out of the flat this morning at 11 am so that we can go to a jewellery exhibition before lunch.  Poor M opts for more sleep rather than breakfast, but manages to squeeze in a pudding at lunchtime (lemon posset, if anybody is interested).

Our next show, Coalition is political satire, set in 2014 as the next General Election looms on the horizon, and the Lib Dems tear themselves apart under the strain of broken electoral promises.  The Tories see less and less need to placate their coalition partners, and for every small concession exact a large step backwards from their 2010 election manifesto.   The hapless leader of the Lib Dems, Matt Cooper, has just agreed to support a programme of building nuclear power stations.  The energy secretary resigns and the Lib Dems are left trying to find a candidate to fight the ensuing by-election.  Clegg is savvier than the hapless Cooper, and the Tories less Machiavellian than they are portrayed here (no, really!), but there are enough uncomfortable truths in the production to make us feel…uncomfortable.  Indeed, a couple of people stalk out of the performance, declaring that they are Lib Dems and won’t stand for this rubbish.  What did they expect, we wonder?  Phill Jupitus is a wonderfully oleaginous Tory fixer, and Jo Caulfield convincing as the cynical, world-weary Lib Dem chief whip. Amidst the wreckage Cooper is left muttering his mantra:  “Gladstone, Lloyd George, Attlee, Grimond, Cooper”.  “Never mind,” says Macintosh, the Tory pm who finally finds a space in his diary to see Cooper.  “You’ll end up with a seat in the Lords.”

Then it’s back to the Museum to see an exhibition on Catherine the Great.  The desk downstairs is labelled “information and tickets”.  Despite this, when we finally manage to speak to one of the underemployed staff manning the desk, they refuse to sell us tickets.  “Oh, no, you want the third floor”.  

After several minutes of waiting one of the new shiny lifts arrives.  There is indeed a ticket desk on the third floor, manned by two staff.  One of them is explaining something in great detail to a pair of tourists.  The other one is standing around aimlessly.  We try to buy tickets from him.  “Oh no, you need to speak to Nicole.” (She is the occupied one).  Several minutes later, Nicole is finally free.  By now we have exactly an hour to see the exhibition.  “Sorry you had to wait,” says Nicole cheerfully.  She gives us a discount on the grounds of shortness of time.  This is a somewhat bizarre business model, but what the hell.

The exhibition is odd but informative.  We learn all sorts of interesting things about Catherine the Great.  The first is that she was not Russian, but German.  The second is that her name was in fact Sophie.  The third is that she seized power after her husband’s aunt, the Empress Elizabeth, died and she probably did away with her husband, the emperor Peter III.  We spend some time wondering why her monogram was the letter E rather than C.  “Is it Cyrillic?” wonders Michael.  He is very nearly right, as a little later it is revealed that the Russian form of Catherine is of course Ekaterina.  The objects in the exhibition are rather less interesting than the history, being comprised mostly of various sets of china, clothes and furniture from the royal palaces.  Catherine was a serious collector of art, (as opposed to the china, which I think she mostly accumulated) but this is only really demonstrated by a film about her palaces, oh, and some actual Roman stuff, displayed in the last room.

After this we meet up with A and J to go for a curry, before our final show of the day, Quantum Battlestar Deep-Space Voyager Tardis Wars.  With a title like that you would be justified in expecting an Ian Sorenson-style production, and you would be more or less right, although it is more professionally done (probably due to additional rehearsal time).  I was going to say it had better special effects, but I don’t think that was in fact true.  I think everyone enjoyed it, but I was mostly asleep by then.

anef: (Default)

The first show this morning is Female Gothic.  The tickets say Assembly Three, George Square.  We turn up at the Assembly Rooms, in George Street with 20 minutes to spare, only to find that this was not the Assembly we were looking for.  We leap into a taxi which delivers us, fifteen minutes later, to George Square in the Old Town.  Then we have an anxious few minutes searching though the various Assembly venues here before we finally discover Three, tucked away along a walkway, round a corner and down a flight of steps.  The queue is just going in. 

Female Gothic is three gothic tales, originally written by women writers, and narrated by a lady in black Victorian dress.  Her props are a leather armchair and a candelabrum with three candles.  The tales are not quite chilling enough to counteract the overheated nature of the venue, and I nod off for a few seconds in the second one.  The third is quite scary, though, and afterwards we spend some time discussing the subtext of infidelity and betrayal.

We had a plan to go to La Garrigue (favourite French restaurant) for lunch, but nobody is very hungry, and it is starting to rain.  Instead we find ourselves at the Brasserie in the new undercroft of the Chambers Street Museum.  I remembered the museum café as having reasonable food of the soup and sandwich variety but very lackadaisical service.  Things however, have changed.  We are briskly ushered to a table and offered a short but interesting menu.  The place clearly caters to mothers with small children, as the place is packed with them, but service is efficient, the food fresh and beautifully cooked, and the wine list short and well chosen.  There are also two person carafes of wine, so it is plainly a place where ladies who lunch go to meet each other, with or without their offspring.

There is just time for a short visit to Transreal Fiction before heading off to our second show, at the same venue as the imprisoned concubines.  Eurydice is a retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice story, with puppetry, dance and physical theatre.  It’s a student production, but has some interesting and entertaining moments, and a genuinely touching ending.  The world of the dead and of the living exist side by side, invisible to each other, and Eurydice’s dead father dances next to her, unseen, at her wedding.  Messages pass between them pegged to a clothesline or pushed through the earth, but the dead and the living speak different languages and can’t understand each other.  In the end Orpheus and Eurydice are united in death but they have forgotten each other (sorry if that’s a spoiler).

Shopping at books and games shops, and then we have different plans for the evening.  In order to be Cultured, M and I have booked a concert at the real Festival, and Karen has arranged to meet up with C, an old friend from Cambridge.  M and I go and have tapas at Café Andaluz on George St (standout dish for me was the pig’s cheeks in red wine, honey and chilli sauce – the pork just falling apart, and coated in the thick, sweet and hot barbeque sauce). 

The concert is the Cleveland Orchestra performing Lutoslawki’s Concerto for Orchestra and the first four parts of Smetana’s Má Vlast, at the Usher Hall.  I had never heard of the former, and have to admit that I chose the latter because we had done it at school, but both were dynamic and exciting.  You could tell that we were in the posh seats by the amount of scent that was wafting over us from the surrounding audience. 

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