Courtesy of Hg.

(I’m working on the arms, ok? give a knitter a chance, why don’t you. Damn cat.)

Wet cement

wet cement

What an unusual piece of graffiti. Wet cement, water still pooled in surface irregularities, the foundation of what will be a wall between the street and a generously-proportioned front garden of a large house in a genteel suburb of north London.

Who, I wonder, and why. Wikipedia tells me the second phase of the offensive began on 5 May 1968 so it’s nearly exactly 40 years ago. As well as being long ago it was also far away. There is no Vietnamese community in the area that I am aware of.

Perhaps there is some modern British signification attached to the phrase of which I am ignorant. Maybe it is a reference to recent political events in the USA.

wet cement too

Or perhaps I should just stop worrying about the words and take it at face value.

Watching me watching you


The Homo sapiens all looked away first.

eyes in the crowd

The minicab driver who eventually delivered me home had a small but hyper-realistic glass eye on a silver chain at his throat.

Looking without seeing. Seeing without looking.

Time for some shut-eye.

A Lancashire lass?

I sort of knew my mother’s family was from Lancashire. I sort of know, I think, that her father’s family came from Kirkby Lonsdale which sits on the border between Lancashire and Cumbria. Since my mother’s grasp on reality wasn’t the strongest it’s difficult to know of the few things she said about her family what was true and what wasn’t.

Now thanks to the amazing National Trust Names (via languagehat) it’s possible to see exactly how Lancastrian the family was. This map shows the distribution of people with that surname in the UK in 1881:

mother's maiden name 1881

The purple county isn’t Lancashire, it’s what is now part of Cumbria. But the top area in 1881 where people of that name lived was Lancaster, county town of Lancashire.

mmn geographical spread

And the change in distribution by 1998?

mmn 1998

These are apples that don’t fall too far from the tree by the looks of things.

I’ve spent a long time assuming that because there are no other relatives (that I know of) I would never really know much about my mother’s side of my family. By virtue of the fact that her father’s family name was relatively uncommon I now have this unexpected insight into my roots.

Although the picture is slightly complicated by the fact that my grandfather’s parents were not, in fact, the couple who brought him up. They were his grandparents. His mother was the woman he knew until her death only as his much older spinster sister. His father was, apparently, a local vicar whose family name I don’t know. But the fact that his family name came from his mother rather than father doesn’t invalidate it. He was delighted to discover he was a total bastard, something many people had called him throughout his life without knowing quite how accurate they were. (I know this is true because I was told by my late maternal uncle whose grasp on reality was much more reliable than my mother’s.)

How exceedingly romantic (in several senses of the word) to “come from” Cumbria. Could the profound yearning I have to live by the sea, ideally in or near that neck of the woods, actually be genetic? Is this why I have a border terrier? maybe I should have a lakeland too.

But seriously, it’s all rather interesting. I might try to find out what my mother’s mother’s maiden name was.

Yin and yang?

yin and yang

Or Jekyll and Hyde? Dopple and Gänger? (yup, I don’t speak German).

It was an accident while attempting to photograph a piece of knitwear in the bathroom mirror. How many other camera models have a “document” setting I wonder. Anyway, this is me, documented and inverted. Back to front if not inside out.

Iconography, aka poor old Moana Sleaza

Is this mooning Mona a Banksy? I know not. It’s low down and small (seven bricks tall and near ground level) but none the less effective for that:

mona mooner

Merely yards away we have another variant on the let’s-manipulate-Mona theme, larger and more elevated. Plastic-coated ascii Mona looking down askance from a window on a disused building.

mona ascii

It’s enough to make La Gioconda weep.

mona moaner

Shit, where are my fingers?

shit, where are my fingers?

Well, sweety, you got frostbite taking pictures in Highgate cemetery on a very cold day and they fell off. Something similar nearly happened to Neha.

neha's nikon

Luckily her new DSLR is centrally heated so her extremities were saved. Amazing what technology can do nowadays isn’t it. The things they think of.*

I was fine because I was wearing my wrist-warmers. (More about the trip tomorrow later today, I hope.)

* See Stephen Fry’s review of compact cameras to find out some genuine ridiculous innovations in the optical field.