MaW's Musings

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As you are no doubt already aware, dear readers, this edition of the Post marks the second anniversary of this seminal publication. Isn't it fantastic that a group of volunteers can create and produce such an amazing collection of material each and every week1 for two whole years? I still remember the first edition, when h2g2 was young and I was new, and Jim Lynn had been blown off his bicycle and injured his wrist - the subject of the first h2g2 Life, if I recall correctly.

Thus this week, I attempt to celebrate amidst the dark greys and shades of unpleasant pink of a world of urgent coursework deadlines and group projects. But first...

Last Week

Last week there was no MaW's Musings, something I am sure none of you were the slightest bit concerned about. This was because of a multitude of factors, but the most overriding one was a cold that suddenly exploded into a fully-fledged unpleasant illness last Monday evening, and laid me out completely on Tuesday. By that point, of course, I had work to catch up on and so was unable to spare the time to write my Musings.

And drat, one of my posters just fell off the wall behind me. Please excuse me for a moment...

...okay, it is now back on the wall with extra Star Tack2 to hold it in place. It's a rather nice print of a drawing by M. C. Escher, who is famous for using perspective tricks to draw unusual and impossible scenes. This particular one is of two heads, a man's and a woman's, each made of a single spiral strip which is the same strip that forms the other head. It's really very effective.

So back to last week, my lingering cough is only just going away - at least I feel better writing this than I did last night, when I was almost on the point of coughing every time I inhaled through my mouth - but my nose was too blocked up to breathe through it for very long. It wasn't very nice, but thankfully it's stopped now or I would have made an appointment with the doctor today.

This Week

Unfortunately, although illness is no longer much of a problem, this week I have been burdened with the dreaded interim reports for the software engineering group project.

But I shall speak no more of it, for it is done and is not to be thought of again.

Christmas is coming...

Unfortunately, according to the shops, Christmas is here already and has been for many months. Anybody in the UK is probably already to the point of screaming when Argos adverts with the snowboarding Santa dressed in yellow appears on the screen, and they've been going for positively ages. Last time I went into Nottingham to shop, I was chased out of many shops by terrible Christmas music (see below), and I am continually perplexed by the inability of the modern music scene to produce something different that people will actually play in shops so I don't have to listen to the songs that have been driving me mad for years now. My sister probably doesn't understand why I hate them so much - she likes them - but I still hate them despite that, and nothing's going to change it.

Music for Christmas

So, I've already said I hate the Christmas 'classics' - those songs by Slade, Wizzard and the like which are on every Christmas album and are played by every shop continuously throughout the festive period, which now seems to last from July to June, interrupted only by Easter and Mother's Day. I also abhor the lame attempts I see for mainstream music to produce new classics - most of them seem to be reworks of old ones, especially this year's version of "Last Christmas" by some group who's name I cannot remember, as I have certainly never heard of them before.

So what do I listen to at Christmas? Well, I'm not a Christian, but I do rather like the music which has grown up around the Christian celebration of midwinter and the birth of Christ. At home we have two CDs of the King's College, Cambridge carol service which is broadcast each year on BBC2 on Christmas Eve. As a native of Cambridge, I had the chance one year to go to the schools' service, and it was fantastic. Well worth listening to and watching.

In other music, the first Mediaeval Baebes album, Salva Nos, has several Christmas-themed tracks on it, as does Maddy Prior's album Ballads and Candles, which is a live recording of a concert done as part of a tour around Christmas 1999, and contains some truly wonderful Christmas music like A Virgin Most Pure and Sing, Sing All The Earth, along with some classic tracks from Maddy's career both solo and with Steeleye Span, including The Blacksmith and Blackleg Miner. Then there's the fairly bawdy My Husband's Got No Courage In Him, which I will not go in to here...

Books for Christmas

Is there anything other than Raymond Briggs' classic The Snowman that one should read at this time of year, barring your religion's texts on the subject? Of course not, unless you like browsing through Christmas cookery books filled with luscious and fattening recipes for the festive season - nearly as good as eating it, and without the washing up!

That's all for this second birthday of the Post edition, next week, I shall no doubt have more to say on the subject of midwinter festivals and overcommercialisation, which will continue to irritate me until January. It always does...


06.12.01. Front Page

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1Well, almost2Like Blu-Tack, but lurid green instead of a vaguely tasteful blue.

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