Fritter and waste the hours in an off-hand way...

So the heat wave came and went and the rain returned. Life as normal , then.

Shell keeps harassing me with phone calls, emails, paper mail. Even though the matter is supposed to be in the hands of the Citizens' Advice Bureau. It is so draining, so very stressful.

Lessons have diminished with the school holiday but still almost reasonably busy, a couple of new pupils that are going to make me work hard in preparing material as they are interested in aspects of the guitar playing thing that I've not delved into that much -and they are relatively advanced. This is a good thing.

Had two pupils sitting for grade exams, one was an 11 year old boy doing a classical guitar ABRSM Grade 3, he did very well with a 127 Merit. The other one, a young man in Plymouth who did a Grade 5 classical achieving a Merit with the highest marks I've seen in a very long time. This was satisfying. I do have more problematic pupils that need a different level of attention, though. I also have a little 10 year old pupil, she is about to do a Trinity Rock & Pop electric guitar grade 3 exam, I expect she should do well.

ION, problems with blood pressure, prostate and other things that remind me that time is passing and the second law of thermodynamics spares no-one. But overall well. Have sent the form for a state pension but I already have seen that for some reason that I can't think of there are many years in which NI contributions don't appear as paid so I'm not counting on that. Not that I would want to retire. I'm on Dreamwidth at -do follow me there if you can.
Book of G-Quan, Soldier of Darkness, B5

[ Books ] The Books of Raksura: The Cloud Roads et al by Martha Wells

It's taken me most of the month to read the first hundred pages of the book set for next month's Bibliogoth. The book in question is 'The Way of All Flesh' by 'Ambrose Perry'. It is failing to get me into that world -I don't think it is badly written but I'm not there with it, alas.

OTOH, I've read the whole Raksura series by [personal profile] marthawells   in a week. And there I did fall headlong inside that world, even though I don't think I'm that much of a fantasy fan these days. These slightly monster-like shape-shifters I found more believably human than.... the characters in many other books, shall we say. In truth, at first I was thinking of getting the Murderbot series, of which I read and liked a lot the first one, but I felt that the precarious state of my pocket might resent spending seven or eight quid each for half a dozen novellas of less than two hundred pages each. I probably will buy them at some point but that imight not be today. In the mean time, I enjoyed my stay in the Three Worlds, the only thing that I would have liked to see more of is the story and the backstory of Consolation, the half-Fell Queen. Hope that comes to happen at some point, although Wells might just have moved on from that world.

In the unlikely case anyone wonders, the icon pic is the Book of G'Quan from Babylon 5, one other world I still like to dive in from time to time. I'm on Dreamwidth at -do follow me there if you can.


First 'real' mail became trash. I only get envelopes in windows either demanding payment or trying to sell me stuff ('To The Homeowner'), this has been the case for many years now. I do get a couple of Christmas and Birthday cards (a couple, literally) and a letter over Christmas of a friend and former pupil who updates me on her life and times but leaves no address, real or email, to which to answer. The rest of the paper mail I receive is either boring or stressful.

Now e-mail is going the same way. Communication with friends and family seems to have moved to Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger and a couple of other ad-hoc apps. Most of the email I receive these days seems to be people trying to sell me stuff or people trying to scam me. And receipts of things I've bought, ok. It is a pity, in a way, given that on those messaging applications you tend to stick to one paragraph or two, email lends itself better to long form and when looking for something you said or was said to you it is much easier to do that on an email archive than trying to slowly scroll backwards on, say, WhatsApp.

I suppose every step we take and every door we open and get through involve the giving up of the possible alternatives. With email you lose the thrill (a small thrill but one nonetheless) of getting an envelope with an exotic postmark from a friend you've long not seen. With the messaging apps you lose the ease of writing or reading long form. What's next? Purely emoji communication, like the Kinographs in Neal Stephenson's Anathem? I don't think I would like that. I'm on Dreamwidth at -do follow me there if you can.
Book of G-Quan, Soldier of Darkness, B5

[ Books ] 'The Bear and the Nightingale' by Elizabeth Arden

The Bear and The NightingaleThe Bear and The Nightingale by Katherine Arden

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Loved this story. Don't know much (or anything at all, really) about the folk lore and myths of Russia but this sparked a curiosity. There was an interesting thread about this in Bibliogoth when we were discussing the book (yesterday, as I write this). The consensus was that the characters were a little bit stereotypical, the plot did derive to an extent from old Russian folklore stories. None of this mattered to me, I really liked this book.

View all my reviews I'm on Dreamwidth at -do follow me there if you can.
Book of G-Quan, Soldier of Darkness, B5

[ Books ] Frankisstein - Jeanette Winterson

Frankissstein: A Love StoryFrankissstein: A Love Story by Jeanette Winterson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I hated the title. And the day-glow pink cover. And it took me a while to get into the book -contrary to what I was expecting, I took better to the Mary Shelley part of the story at first. It did grow on me, however and I ended up liking it. There's been a few of this kind of riffing on a previous literary work, like the Hag Seed by Margaret Atwood -which, again I didn't think I would take to and ended up liking a lot.

The book is an easy read and there's a bit more than meets the eye at first. I liked it.

View all my reviews I'm on Dreamwidth at -do follow me there if you can.

A small reassurance

Yesterday apart from lots of sunshine and meeting another friend I hadn't seen for a year and a half (I think), brought two morning calls that were reassuring and must have my blood pressure come down a few points.

The first one was from the Citizens' Advice Bureau. The lady who spoke to me seemed to think the problem with Shell wasn't as coruscated and insurmountable as I have been thinking. I still think it may turn out otherwise and I still woke up in the middle of the night fretting over it (ok, so I am a guitarist so perhaps I shouldn't use 'fretting...' oh, ok, sori about that).

The second one was from 'my' doctor, or a doctor at the local surgery. Will have to go for blood tests and a more thorough examination later on but he seemed to agree that my b/p spike may have been stress related; blood pressure has come down a lot since although it still is rather high.

It's half term week so I can go to bed late and get up late. So a couple of good days. I'm on Dreamwidth at -do follow me there if you can.


Feeling better although blood pressure still high and they haven't found out what triggered it, although I think it is mostly stress arising from the Shell situation.

I see social life beginning to reappear, have seen posts about some folk going to the Slimelight... to dine? Would like to do that with friends at some point. Strange changes in the world where a dancing alternative night-club becomes a sort of DJ'd restaurant. Will have to go and see.

Having had to cancel those two teaching days is going to hurt my pocket but it seems to have been worth it. As I mentioned, I slept most of Tuesday and Wednesday and took it very easy on Thursday and I was feeling much better by Friday.

Still haven't seen almost any of my friends but I'm beginning to receive pupils for face-to-face lessons again. Maybe we will return to normality, after all, or what passes for normality in these strange times. I'm on Dreamwidth at -do follow me there if you can.
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A small scare

On Tuesday I woke up very dizzy, room spinning, a tiny bit of nausea. Given other symptoms, I took a blood pressure reading (I already am on blood pressure tablets). It was 180/something ridiculous. Ran to the pharmacy to confirm the reading (since my blood pressure monitor is a cheap thing I bought from Amazon years and years ago) and it was that. So I spent the rest of the morning and a bit more at the local health centre. been seen by a nurse first, who took another b/p reading, then by a doctor who did several things to check that I wasn't having a stroke (I wasn't). They elaborated on several possibilities including, perhaps bizarrely, an inner ear infection (because of the dizziness). I had to go back on Friday and probably later next week. Bit of a scare, 180 is already on the point of being rather dangerous, you could get a stroke. So I cancelled my two days' school teaching and ... mostly slept Wednesday and Thursday. By the end of Thursday I was feeling much better and by the time of my appointment yesterday (Friday) my blood pressure was still quite high but not on those dangerous levels.

I blame it partly on the ongoing situation with Shell, who insist I am their customer, have never paid for gas, owe them £8K which I have to pay right now, have to produce every gas meter reading of the last ten years and ask my current supplier to reimburse me of every penny I've paid them (presumably so I pay them, but it would not be even a third, perhaps not even a quarter of what Shell believe I owe them). I clearly do not want to do any of those things, have gone to the Citizens' Advice Bureau but haven't heard from them, who don't seem to have an email address I can just write to and ask how it all is going.

Trying to avoid salt and caffeine in those three days meant the most boring meals of my life. I'm on Dreamwidth at -do follow me there if you can.