Friday, 31 October 2008

Dream Come True

I am now a shop owner! Thanks to hours and hours of hard work mainly done by Topher (who kindly photographed every item in my shop), and a pile of unfinished course stuff, my etsy shop is now up and running.

Please come and buy something at Show & Tell Vintage!

Tuesday, 28 October 2008


Here's a photo of my cousin Lulu, who's all dolled up for cosplay. Isn't she a cupcake?

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Super Dapper Dan

Trinity = Instant Coffee

Trinity= Instant Coffee = 3 in 1
Father, Son, Holy Ghost = Coffee, Milk, Sugar

Monday, 20 October 2008

Singing, Dancing, & Scandal in the diocese

By the end of the twelfth century singing and dancing in churchyards had become a common practice. In his Gemma Ecclesiastica Giraldus Cambrensis tells the story of a parish priest in Worcestershire who had been kept awake all night by such singing and dancing, with the result that next day, when he began the early morning service, instead of singing the usual 'Dominus vobiscum', he startled his congregation by substituting the refrain which had been ringing in his ears, 'Swete lamman dhin are'. So great was the scandal caused by this incident that Bishop Northall pronounced an anathema upon any persno who should ever again sing that song within the limits of his diocese...

From Introduction. The Harley Lyrics: The middle English Lyrics of MS. Harley 2253. ed. G. L. Brook. Manchester: Manchester UP, 1964.

Check out The Luminarium to listen to some Middle English hits.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Week 0

Week 0 - otherwise known as Naughth Week. When you get to find out that your college/faculty has failed to communicate something to you, or that when they do, it has been communicated in the most confusing way possible.

There's a lot to get to grips with. Oxford is an mysterious and somewhat exotic place. During Week 0, or Fresher's Week, there's the usual kind of thing you'd expect from any University, I suppose. But it must be quite different for undergrads as opposed to graduates. For one, I wasn't invited to any pub crawls.

I did, however, receive more 'guidance' in week 0 than I had in the last 10 years of my life. I was assigned a college advisor/moral tutor - not for my morals, thank God, but for welfare issues. I had talks with the college nurse who assured me that should I have any troubles of any sort I really ought to go see her at any point. I had introduction sessions from the college where we were welcomed, warned not to walk on the grass (!), and told that should anything go wrong we should approach an array of various people, senior tutor for graduates, junior deans, chaplain, etc. I have a mentor from the department, a supervisor from the department, and two people from the Middle Common Room (MCR) who are my 'parents.' I have also received numerous emails telling me over and over that should I be in financial difficulty I can apply for the Keble College hardship fund.

With so many people offering to help out I almost feel bad for not coming up with some kind of difficulty. Alas - no one has offered to do my work for me yet, which is really all the help I'll need. Where were all these helpful bodies when I was a teenager. I needed alot more help then.

Interesting items from Week 0 include:

Drinks before college welcome dinner. We gathered in a new building at the college and guzzled free wine (or juice). We all had to turn out in our academic gowns. They're just black drapes of polyester, really. There's alot of different types - no doubt each with different signifiances. I only know that students wear 2 types: commoners' gown (not on scholarship) or scholars' gowns (scholarship). There's several shops in Oxford that cater to our gown requirements. I dropped by one of these (on Broad st.) and picked up my scholars' gown.

It was fun, cycling a break neck speed from Cowley to Keble in my academic gown, over one of my vintage dresses, to attend the pre-dinner drinks. That thing really billows when you're going at speed.

At dinner we were seated according to our faculty/research interest. So I found myself surrounded by other medieval folk - my 'moral tutor' on my left and the graduate administrator on my right. Luckily they both turned out to be fun people to talk to - that one thing that stuck in my mind was talking about food wastage, and my daggy habit of finishing food for strangers in public places (I ask, 'are you gonna eat that?' and if the answer is negative, then I eat it for them). This did end up with me finishing both the main course and desert for my 'moral tutor' - just as the Warden of the college got up for her speech and said that she hopes we've all met our 'moral tutors' and are getting along.

So, no problems in the getting along aspect, I think.

I also hung out a bit at the MCR. There's the Junior Common Room (JCR) for undergards, the Middle (MCR) for us, and Senior, for, well, people more important tha us graduates. The MCR is two big rooms - well provided for, really. Kitchen area with a dishwasher (officially making it better kitted out than my house). Fridges with drinks we can buy at a discounted rate, chocolates and crisps as well, Wii and other games, computers, a pool table, television. In short, everything you could want in a room for hanging out. Events include: Ladies Tea, Saturday Brunch, Sunday Tea, Games Night, Take-out Night - all free of charge (MCR is subsidized by the college).

I took my apple mousse to take-out night, and it was indeed well received. In return I carried away the extra rice that the MCR got from Hall. That's, er, rice enough to serve about 40 people. I had to carry it away in 2 lots - Toph came round on his bike so we could load as much as we can into his rucksack, in convenient plastic containers which originally held Chinese take-away. I now am so stocked with rice I won't have to cook any for months.

Food wastage is pretty incredible. If I didn't take it, it would eventually have be chucked.

I got to grips with the Bodleian library (Bod, or Bodley). There's only ONE ladies' loo, near the ground floor. It's a LONG walk from the Upper Reading Room where I do my work. 15 percent of Bodley's books are on site. The rest about 8 miles out of town, and others under salt-flats in Cheshire. Depending on the location of the books, calling them out from stacks can take anywhere from 3 hours to 8 days. Hm - that's really quite shocking. There's no lockers - so bags can be chained, so they cannot be removed. That's, however, no guarantee that someone won't go into your bag. In practice you should carry all valuables in a transparent plastic bag at all times. But really the only place where you can't take your bags is the Duke Humphrey Library, for rare books and manuscripts. It's a pretty amazing place - I doubt I'm allowed to get photos of it... Makes you feel like a real scholar though, going in there to consult. Oh, no cafe, or even just a room where you can have a cup of tea or eat your lunch - so packing a lunch is a bad idea in the winter unless you want to sit outside in the cold (and poss. rain) or eat it surreptiously at Cafe Nero in Blackwell's across the road.

The search systems of the catalogues are absolutely abominable. They still use telnet for certain functions.

Each college also has its own considerable library. Not good for all things, but benefit is 24 hour openings, and loans for an entire term. I have a stcak from the Keble College library already.

There is very little wireless internet access. Partially because walls are thick - but I suspect also because they just haven't got their shit together. Hm.

Dinner at the Keble Dining Hall is formal on every day of the week save Saturdays. This means eating dinner requires the wearing of your gown. Lunch and Breakfast are informal, and doesn't require advance booking. Meals are subsidized if you are a student, but not if you're a guest. Dinner is from about 3.50 to 4.50 for 2 or 3 courses.

Food is pretty dire. Veg & Meat over cooked, potatoes undercooked. Everything either soggy or dry.

Lastly there was Friday of Week 0, when Topher and I met at Keble. I had noticed wine grapes growing (ornamentally) on the outside of several buildings. I asked a gardener (I assume he was a gardener since he was raking leaves), if I could have some. He happily said I could have as much as I like. Toph stood his ground and held the plastic bag as I stood on his shoulders with one arm against the wall and the other arm plucking bunches of grapes from the vine. We did one side of a building as people walked by, trying to look disinterested at the sight. Meanwhile the other building, with the most amount of grapes, was surrounded by workmen putting up scaffolding. We asked if we were allowed to climb the scaffolding, and one of them said that the answer is "strictly no" - but added that since it was Friday afternoon, he's leaving, and what happens after he leaves is really not his problem.

The scaffolding turned out to be at just the right height for the grapes. We cycled away with about 2-3 kgs.

I am harbouring a secret wish: that the immaculate lawns at Keble will one day turn into an organic farm, to supply the dining hall. That the college will adopt a piglet, which will be fed scraps from hall - and we can celebrate end of year with an almighty hog roast. Except if we were allowed to feed the piglet, we'd probably not have the heart to eat it.

College aside, there's my own life. The Saturday morning farmers' market in Cowley, picking apples from our garden (East Oxford used to be an apple orchard - the trees are older than the houses!) Cycling along, trying to avoid being hit by buses/white vans. Finding the Dodgy Deli where alcohol from around the world can be purchased at drastically reduced rates, if you don't mind the fact that they are out of date.

Oh - and trying to get my shop on the road. Photographing things and generally not doing as much for that as I hope I would.

But let's be honest - I don't have time to even have a quality wank these days, and it's only week 1. I suspect it's only going to get worse.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

These are photos of the grandmother and grandfather of ellenmc, on their way to Cuba in 1932.

I've been meaning to put these photographs on the blog for ages. They're possibly the most charming vintage photos I've ever come across. In a slightly voyeuristic way I feel like I have some kind of connection to this couple, having browsed through so many photos from their happy days. Do you feel like a voyeur when you look at old photos which were obviously not meant for general public consumption?

In any case, these are absolutely the sweetest thing ever. Don't they look like they were having the time of their lives, all the time? And such a handsome couple too!

This photo of Ellen's grandmother and her friend says all that needs to be said about style. I love the dress of the lady on the left, and have a terrible weakness for fur collars... Though I must add that the way the skirt of the lady on the left is caught by the wind totally makes the picture for me.

Also, I must share this photo of Ellen's grandfather and his friend. It makes me smile every time.

So if you get a chance, check out Ellen's Old Family Photos - there's many more beautiful shots of lovely ladies and manly malarky.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Clotted Cream & Rummage Sales

Yesterday Toph and I went to the Queen's Lane Cafe. I remember the place from my visit to Oxford back in high school - but I don't remember it being quite so posh. In any case, they still do big scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream... and Toph had a soy latte.

The real reason why I'm blogging about this photo is because I'm wearing my new floral print dress. It came a bit late in the season, to be honest. The weather in Oxford is now a bit chilly and windy (occasionally wet, though not nearly as much as Edinburgh). Still, I managed to wear it for 3 days in a row after getting it. I know that the same outfit for 3 days in a row is a bit of a fashion faux pas - and guess what, I don't give a flying fuck. That's how pleased I was with my dress.

One of the best things about it is that it came from the Scouts rummage sale. We saw it advertised at the local church, and went along on the off chance that there'd be some good buys - and lo, we asked and received. I got the dress for 20 pence, and a leather satchel for 50 pence. Topher got some linen trousers 15 pence, and a grill for our outdoor bbq (which we built from stolen bricks, but it's a bit cold now to use).

Thank goodness for rummage sales and clotted cream... If you look at the photo you can tell just how happy I am.