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The air patterns in this bedsit are very odd. If I turn the gas fire on, the room gets colder, though if the gas fire is full on then the room does eventually warm up. And this morning I've discovered that if the gas fire is on and I open both the windows wide, the room gets warmer, though the area immediately by the window is cold.

I do half an hour of reading Latin every day, and the Latin I am learning is starting to get more complicated. I still refuse to learn grammar, because then when translating in my head, I get so stuck on the grammar, I forget what it is I am trying to translate. I'm hoping to learn it as I did English and Spanish grammar: through sheer usage. I really like this method of learning: starting off with very simple Latin phrases, which gradually add in new vocabulary which you eventually figure out from context and illustration.

The new daily self-improvement habit is press-ups, which I've never yet been able to do even when fit and strong and well. Oxfordgirl showed me a method of getting there gradually, so I'm doing, at the moment, a few reps of wall-pressups before breakfast. Nothing challenging, but even so my arms already do not love me. This means progress, right?

The other thing I am doing is reading old magazines. At the moment, it's Britannia and Eve from October 1936. There's enough dense reading matter in this one magazine to keep me reading for a couple of weeks. They literally don't make them like that any more. Articles are all novella length in very tiny print. The later magazines, which were published during rationing, are much slimmer. It's amusing to be reading the exact sort of adverts detailed in Dorothy L Sayer's 'Murder Must Advertise'. Also, the stories are surprising: single women could be alone in their bedroom with a man, even several men, of an evening and nobody batting an eyelid. One always gets the impression that pre-War society was incredibly strait-laced. Also, there was a nice article on travels around Leninist Russia, before Stalin took over and led to the privations and hardship we associate with the USSR. I want more old magazines now.

The magazine from 1945, which I've glanced through but not properly read, is really saddening. The articles are about making do and mending, but the adverts are particularly heartbreaking. 'There is no Ovaltine, but there will be soon!' 'Our lamps are helping our boys abroad, but one day you can enjoy their superior light!' sort of thing. And the one from the Ministry saying please don't steal rations from your children, in the nicest possible way.
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Palaeography again, this time Medieval. Before spellynge, backe in the time of 'ye'. Random handwriting wasn't any easier to skim back then than it is now.

I have a bike! It is purple and I have no photograph of it. I'll do something about that the next time I go out on it. Random also has a bike, which is a brown Landrover bike with a wicker basket and three gears. It looks rugged and simple and ready for pootling around in the 1930s. Mine is more cyberpunk. I'm looking forward to when we go out together.

Hatter brought a rat back last night, which was exciting. As far as I can tell, he jumped it and managed to grab it by the neck in such a way as to trigger it's 'being carried by mum' reflex, as it was perfectly docile until he let it go in the upstairs hall. Thanks be to the gods, it ran into the bathroom and not any of the other directions that would have made last night so much more complicated. It was a good, big healthy rat.

Rats are vermin. If you catch one, you can't let it go. It's not only illegal, it's monstrously unfair to anyone living close by. They carry diseases which can disable and kill human beings. So, in the next part of the story, the rat dies. If you can't deal with that, please move on. )
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Today Kira went with me, but I could as easily have gone on my own. It's been bright and not too cold all day so far. We've somehow missed the patches of rain, seeing only damp pavements where rain has been.

This was the second lesson on Secretary Hand, which is ane bastarde to reade. 'e' is backwards. There's a sort of t which is actually 'c'. There's a 3-shaped capital E, except it's not an E, it's a lower case 'h'. There's a w which is actually an 'r'. There's a flourished O which is a 'G' and some weird scrolled thing which is a 'J', except when it is 'I'. There's a b which is a 'v'. And there are |||| marks, loosely joined together, which can be 'm', 'i', 'u', 'v', 'n' or any combination thereof.

And then, to save time writing, they have contractions. So #tE with a line above is actually 'Wch' with a line above, which is actually 'Which', the line indicating the missing 'hi'.

Oh, and this was before dictionaries, so spelling is more or less arbitrary. That said, the words read surprisingly modern. There's 'wee' for 'we', and 'soe' for 'so', and 'discrecon' for 'discretion', but most words are as you'd expect.

So yes, by the end of that, we were all quite thoroughly brainstretched and I was backsore too. I managed lunch, which had home-grown things in - baby pak choi (thinnings basically), baby spinach, rocket salad, baby celery stalks (thinnings again) and swiss chard, chives and nasturtiums. Some plants were salad, some went in with the beef meatballs and the carrots and the (dried, soaked) wild mushrooms in beef gravy. There were cubed boiled potatoes and butter with, and a little pancake (leftover batter from breakfast) to soak up the gravy afterwards. People are Fed.

Having shown willing as a host, I've now retired and left Kira and Small to entertain themselves while I sit hugging coffee Kira made and probably playing Minecraft all afternoon. It is 1.4.2, the Very Scary Update with carrots, potatoes, witches (and their huts), corner stairs, cobblestone walls, picture frames (you can put items in), flower pots and goodness knows what else in. Lots to do.
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I'm tired. I'm tired because I've been out all day. First to a doctor's appointment, then shopping, then home again. Then out again, to the Museum of Wigan Life for a history chat-and-coffee. Then a while reading a history of Wigan in the archives. Then home again, having been out pretty much from 9am to 4:20pm. I did all my travelling alone by bus, and have taken six different buses today.

This is actually pretty major. I've been more or less housebound, other than for short walks, since the migraines set in hard several years ago. After I came back from Spain, I tried to go without painkillers at all for four months, to kill forever the idea that they were 'rebound headaches', and made everything very much worse. Bolton Pain Management team worked wonders with me, and I've been following their advice ever since. Now I can think straight enough, and see well enough to travel around Wigan, even if I have a great deal of trouble remembering which bus number goes near my house. I had to keep pulling my day ticket out and checking the number. I was still able to cross roads, and to remember where I was *and* where I was going *at the same time*, abilities that migraines had previously taken away from me.

It's possible that I'll have repercussions and end up quite ill again as a result of all this excitement, but frankly I don't care. Worth it.

I still haven't done my double-entry bookkeeping homework. Also, it's British Black History Month and already the 18th, and I haven't so much as read an article about, well, anything. The history I've been reading has been Wigan history (Saxons and Danes and Britons) and Chinese history. I'm probably not going to start tonight either: I've asked Pol (who has just come home) if he wants to go out to eat. He said yes. My phone's been dead all day and he woke up to find me gone and the back door unlocked, so he wasn't *entirely* sure I wasn't dead too. Oops.
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I bet Random that I couldn't breed pink (or yellow, but pink would be ideal) snails from her unwanted collection of pest snails, so I snagged a dozen, set them up in a bucket and then a tank, and now I have a hundred or so. Another couple of months and I can have another cull to end up with the ones closest to my desired colour. It's slow going, but as three-year-projects go, it's fun and easy.

I'm playing Caesary on Kongregate. It's a 'free' game which wants *way* too much money to get ahead (having three builders instead of one would cost me about £3 *per week*), but it does manage to at least be perfectly fun to play even with only the free stuff. If options cost less, I'd probably already have thrown money at it. Instead, everything costs about twice what I consider reasonable. Good game, though.

I finally got around to watching Francesco's Venice and it's astonishing. I didn't realise that Enrico Dandalo, Doge of Venice basically hijacked the entire Fourth Crusade to go and sack Constantinople (then a Christian city) as revenge for their soldiers blinding him a few decades before when he was merely Venice's foremost merchant. Now that's a grudge. It also, finally, makes sense for me of why Byzantium got sacked at all. 'For the money' didn't quite cut it for me, although Venice did take many, many treasures back (and used them to encrust St Mark's Basilica, which holds the remains of St Mark, which were also stolen, this time from Alexandria).

Oh, and look up the Venetian voting system some time. I am trying to imagine it being made into a board game - randomly get nine cards and use them to trade for forty tokens, then roll dice to get 25 of those, and so on and so on. At the end, you have a single Doge, but nobody's quite sure how.

I just want to know when and how Venetians set up the British Civil Service.


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May 2014

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