Dear fans

Those who enjoyed my Librivox recording of Agatha Christie’s Mysterious Affair at Styles may be interested to know that I have completed a recording of H G Wells’s Invisible Man.

Many thanks to all at LV who helped get the files out into the public domain, by proof-listening and co-ordinating the project, particularly Betsie who got the cataloguing done whilst moving house!

For my next solo project, I have chosen Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days. At some point, I shall set myself the target of recording it in 80 days. But I will have my holiday first, I feel.

Chapters I have recorded for other projects are listed on my podcasting page. I am also currently book-coordinator for a recording of A Vindication of the Rights of Women, which has proven to be challenging. I might also be about to do a vegetarian cookery book from the early 1900s. New volunteers are always welcome.

One final thing to note. When I recorded Styles, it was amongst the first to be ready. One of very few — it might even have been the first solo project, or maybe I was pipped to that post. But take a look at the catalogue today, less than a year later. There are hundreds of texts in there now – testament to thousands of hours put in by volunteers around the world to recording the texts and doing all the vital work that results in having a fantastic website built around the recordings.

Yay us! *clicks*


By-election special

I’m one of those people who thought, the minute they heard about the Bromley by-election, that it was worth firing up a browser, logging into Betfair and punting a wodge of Dunfermline profits on the result. It was long odds at the time, what with the Lib Dems being in third place and the Tories looking way ahead.

Just recently, newly blogging Lib Dem peer Eric Lubbock, now Lord Avebury, weighed in to show up how similar the situation is now in Bromley and Chislehurst to the very nearby seat of Orpington, which was won by the Liberals in a by-election in 1962. Wikipedia says this was the start of a great Liberal Revival, that Eric Lubbock went on to hold the seat for eight years, and within months, the Liberals became the most popular party in the country.

Winning is no longer looking completely impossible now. People on the doorstop are responding positively, I hear from impartial sources (and of course from HQ who send me daily slips as a previous by-election attendee to remind me that it’s a two-horse race, every effort needed, send cash if you can’t come yourself). Apparently no-one mentions Cameron when you knock on doors, but they do seem to agree with the outrage in our leaflets about “Three Jobs Bob” the Conservative candidate. Poor Dave also got villified in the local press when he visited.

And now, in an amusing twist, it seems that one of those jobs might actually be a bar to the Conservative taking office, and moreover mean his declaration form was fraudulent. RecessMonkey is reporting that, as a member of a Strategic Health Authority, the Tory candidate is barred from standing for election under a 1975 act. Even attempting to stand means he’s filled in a fraudulent declaration.

Time will tell. So far, it’s only Recess, and people reading Recess running with this. The truth will out.

I haven’t been able to go this time, and come polling day, I will be away, abroad. I’ll just have to hope some kind soul texts me the result.


Well, I have my car back now.  Apparently “all four” ignition coils needed replacing.  The car is much nippier and smoother now and far less prone to stalling.  Several of the problems I’d put down to teething troubles, getting used to the car, and less than expert driving can actually now be attributed to the nearly-dead ignition coils.  And they fixed everything under the warranty, after I got a little stroppy with them about cars that fell apart barely five weeks after being purchased from a dealer hitherto considered reputable.  I didn’t even have to threaten them with trading standards.  Or stand in the middle of the dealership and say in my best public speaking voice, “Excuse me everyone, I have something important to tell you about the level of post-sales service you can expect.”

Smudge — he hasn’t been back to have his ultrasound yet.  I’m hoping we can get him an appointment in July after I come back off me hol.  He doesn’t seem to distressed, and both cats are increasingly happy at home, even if both of them are very quiet purrers.  Keep an eye on my Flickr tag “cat”  for the latest photos as I don’t want to bore everyone by updating you on the latest cute thing the cats have done, like reading council papers, or queuing up to lick meat juice off my thumb, or peering through windows or pure and simple box-sitting.

Back on the train

Back on the train

Originally uploaded by nilexuk.

On Tuesday some weird shaped orange thing started flashing on my dashboard and the whole car started shuddering when idle. The light turned out to be the toxic fume filter warning light, so I phoned the dealer who cheerfully told me that the car would try and regenerate the filter by itself if I drove over 50 mph for a while. I was dubious of this but promised to spend some time on the motorway caning it. Which I duly did. The car got worse and worse while I did so and really struggled to get to *coff* 70. This morning, it would barely start. Now it has a warning light saying “check injection” so back to the dealer it goes and back on the train go I. At least that gave me a chance to get them to replace the handbrake and repair some paint chips. Thank goodness for lifetime warranty.

Brighton hotels

I still haven’t booked my hotel for Lib Dem conference in Brighton this year.

Every time I fire up Google to try and find a suitable location, I get overwhelmed with a vast sense of desparation and put it off until some other time.

They all seem much more expensive than the first time I went to conference down there, when I stayed in a lovely little place with homemade jam for breakfast, and room with four beds in and just little old me.  I have no recollection at all how far from the conference centre it was.
What I can remember is staggering home drunk every night and making a flavoursome concoction by mixing coffee and hot chocolate sachets from the stand with the kettle.

I also spotted, that time, that there were lots and lots of hotels in the vicinity with signs saying “Rooms available – rates starting at £50” — so I resolved the following time not to book accommodation in advance but trundle along the seafront with my wheelie suitcase and find something suitable on arrival.

Big mistake, as when I tried to do that, even the places with signs in the window saying £50 were telling me that in conference week, their basic rate was more like £150.

In the end, I did find a seafront hotel with budget rates, but it was a complete fleapit with a desperately uncomfortable beds, and paper thin walls.  Two nights in a row a man and a woman had a very loud, very unpleasant argument, and I didn’t get a wink of sleep.

That particular stay ended very well, though, because my then boss had paid for a room in the Hilton conference hotel but was unable to use it for the whole week.  I was able to move into the vacated room for the last few days.  It was rather superb.  A vast suite with a sea front and a balcony and more floor space than my house. I suspect all my neighbours would have been MPs and MEPs.

This time, there’s no way I can afford to stay at the conference hotel since it’s charging significantly over £100 a night.  So I’m looking for a nice little hotel that preferably has free wifi and a kettle in the room (I don’t mind — in fact I probably prefer — taking my own tea and coffee) and a bed I can actually sleep on, not a million miles from the conference centre and not megabucks during conference week.  And not fully booked already!



Originally uploaded by nilexuk.

Whilst the drains were being done earlier in the year, we noticed this pencilled note on the wall under the car port – “As the grate was locked, I had to leave it (the coal) here”

When did anything in this house last burn coal? I seem to recall from the house searches that Nottingham has been a smokeless zone since 1966, but the note could refer to smokeless coal, or it could have been burnt since. There are definitely people around who burn smoking fuel in ignorance or defiance of the ban. Of course, the city — and the country — goes a different sort of smokeless next year.

The grate referred to isn’t there any more — it’s been bricked up and now the boiler vent comes out of it.

When we bought the house, much was made of the ‘electric woodburner’ that had recently been installed. The thing is terribly kitchy and makes an unbelievable racket when you turn it on. It is connected to real flue that snakes over the lounge ceiling and is boxed out through the hallway to the front door. The presence of the real flue — and almost complete absence of radiators on the ground floor — suggest there was something that burned real fuel even after the central heating was put in.

Come on Paraguay!

Apparently some sort of football tourney will begin today, and a meeting I’m at has been scheduled particularly early so that it will be over before the sport begins.

I am not amused.

Smudge is ill


Originally uploaded by nilexuk.

Back from vet.

Fudge fine.

Smudge however has heart murmur, likely the cause of his breathing difficulty, rather than the collar-caused throat injury.

Vet is recommending ultrasound scan to see the extent of the murmur, then possibilities of operation (although cats with heart murmurs present high risk for anaesthesis) or medical intervention, ie tablets.

Will leave it a week or two before going to ultrasound, I think, to let
Smudge get used to us not being evil people who want to stuff him into the cat carrier at the drop of a hat.

Our cat feeder for the weekend is convinced she needs to walk around on tippy toe so as not to startle him into heart failure, but since he jumps whether you make a noise or not, it’s clear that sudden adrenaline rushes don’t do him much harm.

Cix:cats have suggested we tell the CPL and see if they’ll help us with the costs, but to be honest, the charity needs the money for feeding their current charges, and we should be be able to afford the treatment.

They also have cunning ruses for getting cats to take pills, involving inuring them to treats by coating cat biscuits in cream cheese or fish paste then substituting the biscuit for the tablet once you’ve won their trust. Smudge doesn’t like cheese, Fudge can’t get enough of it. Both of them turned their noses up at Wilco’s finest cat treats.