The Newer Zion

September 29, 2015

When I achieve the chestnut joke of dying,
When I slip through that Gate at Kensal Green,
Shall I go spoil the fantasy by prying
Behind the staging of this darling scene?

Shall I—a cast-off puppet—seek to study
The Showman who manipulates the strings,
The Hand that paints the western drop-scene ruddy,
The prosy truths of all these faery things?

Shall I—self-conscious by a glassy ocean—
Stammer strange songs amid an alien host?
Or shall I not, refusing such promotion,
Bequeath to London my contented ghost?

I will come back to my Eternal City;
Her fogs once more my countenance shall dim;
I will enliven your austere committee
With gossip gleaned among the cherubim.

By day I’ll tread again the sounding mazes,
By night I’ll track the moths about the Park;
My feet shall fall among the dusky daisies,
Nor break nor bruise a petal in the dark.

I will repeat old inexpensive orgies;
Drink nectar at the bun-shop in Shoreditch,
Or call for Nut-Ambrosia at St. George’s,
And with a ghost-tip make the waitress rich.

My soundless feet shall fly among the runners
Through the red thunders of a Zeppelin raid,
My still voice cheer the Anti-Aircraft gunners,
The fires shall glare—but I shall cast no shade.

And if a Shadow, wading in the torrent
Of high excitement, snatch me from the riot—
(Fool that he is)—and fumble with his warrant,
And hail a hearse, and beg me to “Go quiet,”

Mocking I’ll go, and he shall be postillion,
Until we reach the Keeper of the Door:
“H’m … Benson … Stella … militant civilian …
There’s some mistake, we’ve had this soul before….”

* * * * * * *

Ah, none shall keep my soul from this its Zion;
Lost in the spaces I shall hear and bless
The splendid voice of London, like a lion
Calling its lover in the wilderness.

(Stella Benson, from Twenty, 1918)

Urban Wildlife

February 15, 2013

I saw a seal in Docklands today!  Just at the south end of the footbridge, huffing to itself. Utterly unexpected and delightful.

Apparently she (or he) has been around for a few years, scrounging fish from Billingsgate and for all I know occasionally leaving his skin and strolling around in the form of a stockbroker.

I am a man upon the land
A selkie in the sea
And when I’m far frae every land
My hame is in Canary

Um. Maybe not.

Googling around shows a nice contrast to all the panic about baby-eating urban foxes we’re getting in the media at the moment, anyway. Everyone’s happy to see a seal. Which is rather foolish really. Seals are cute, until you encourage them too much and they start coming in through your cat-flap and dragging off your babies.

IT COULD HAPPEN. And I want credit from the Daily Mail when it does.

Even though you slipped away from the party early….

Relatedly, I enjoyed The Hobbit, very pretty to look at and fun to watch, though the plot restructuring to shoehorn Elrond/Galadriel/etc in ranged from amusing to annoying and the gain-respect-of-warriors Character Arc slapped onto poor Bilbo made nonsense of why he called Sting Sting in the first place – should have named it Fang if he stuck it into a wolf first. Pedant pedant.

I suppose he’ll get another arc in the next movie and earn respect as a Mighty Diplomat or something. I’m beginning to suspect Hollywood’s obsession with Character Arcs is an updated version of the Victorian belief that Every Story Should Have A Moral; you have to show someone learning something to make it a worthy story.

Still, I rather wish they’d just gone for the Hollywood superhero sequel version instead.

LotR IV: Revenge of the Ring

Bitten by a Giant Evil Spider, he is… He-Lob!
The Invisible Hobbit!
Thane Fantastic!
Meriadoc the Magnificent!


Deagol Doom! (Yes I know, but the alliteration’s better. Just say his multiple personalities are acting up.)

Aerial Phenomenon

September 4, 2012

And yesterday I saw a sun dog. Just a little one; Edward IV wouldn’t have had much luck winning a battle with that as his omen, but I was delighted anyway. I noticed what looked like a scrap of rainbow in the clouds, told myself not to be silly as it was too close to the sun to be a rainbow, then realised what it was and started trotting to and fro over the road trying to spot its twin on the other side. I think I did, though it was paler to the point of wondering if I was kidding myself about seeing it.

I’m not sure what the other people at the bus stop thought about the gaping loony staring at the sky. I rather hoped they would ask, since I’m just well-brought-up enough to know you shouldn’t go around grabbing people’s arms and yelling, “Look! Up there! Do you see it?”, but it’s a shame not to be able to share cool things like that when they happen.

Molesworth lives!

August 28, 2012

Saw a bouncy castle in the park this Sunday. Not worthy of note, except that the decorations were jolly cartoon vultures (ripped off from Disney’s Robin Hood, by the style). Reminded me irresistably of Nigel Molesworth: “You can always tell where the gym is becos all the vultures hover over it and each time the springboard go PLUNK they strane their ears and their mouths water.”

Let’s dance!

January 12, 2012

As of yesterday evening, I have a cat again!

Well, I have a purring noise under the sofa, disappearing cat food in the kitchen and wet spots appearing in the litter tray, anyway. Occam’s Razor suggests the presence of a cat.

His name’s Spike, he’s black and white and fluffy and his previous owner left him behind when she had a stroke and moved to live with her daughter. So he’s been living rough and has horrible solid blocks of matting on both hips. He’s got an appointment with the vet tomorrow, so shaved cat pics are in the offing if they decide he’s healthy enough to be sedated and go under the clippers….

Celebratory Catgroove:

Well, not mine. But someone in the Crayford area has an emu in theirs; I saw it from the train.

This makes me very happy.

Guess what.

Go on, you’ll never guess.

Orson Scott Card has rewritten Hamlet. ([SPOILERS] after this point!)

To make the king a big gay paedophile who’s murdered for turning most of the cast gay with gay kiddy sex and comes back as an Evil Gay Ghost to trick his (Totally Not Gay) son into murdering innocent non-gay people so he’ll spend eternity being gayed up in Hell (where all gay people go of course). There may well be more gay I forgot to mention.

Now, I’ve seen some bloody awful “re-visionings” in my time, but that has to win some sort of prize for utter WTFery. Shakespeare’s corpse is, with any luck, rotating fast enough to drill his way to Salt Lake City and take appalling zombie vengeance on the twit, the twit who published his twittery and anyone who ever thought it was a good idea.

Though I admit I’m morbidly curious about what he might come up with if you fed Titus Andronicus through him. But considering he thinks Taming of the Shrew holds “a legitimate moral lesson about the relationship between man and woman in marriage” my puny mind probably couldn’t take it.

It’s been an… interesting few days, especially since I live in Woolwich and work in Clapham Junction. I left work late on Monday, so it must all have been kicking off a hundred yards away as I bleared homewards through the nice new station entrance. I didn’t notice a thing. So much for my observational skills. I didn’t find out anything was wrong until I eventually got home and hit up the internet to find out why Woolwich Arsenal station was closed.


From the SF nut PoV it’s been fascinating to watch this – riots purely for the purpose of looting, co-ordinated by social networking. Larry Niven wrote a short story called The Last Days of the Permanent Floating Riot Club in the 70s, set in a world with teleporters on every street corner, where the news of any sufficiently large disturbance would bring “flash crowds” teleporting in. Which reminds me of what we’re seeing in London and other UK cities; the technology is different but the effect is very similar. We’re seeing the dark side of flash mobs. Are flash riots going to become the next big thing?


July 17, 2011