Thursday, May 04, 2006


Sorry about the silence, everyone. Busy busy pluvialis. And also very, very headachey pluvialis, speaking to you now through paracetamol DC 96% 520 mg equivalent to paracetamol 500 mg and codeine phosphate 8 mg. I have to see a tutorial student in a moment, and I am slightly worried she'll think I'm on drugs. Which of course, I am.

What have I been up to?
  • Today, being embarrassed by Heidi Hick's review of the book on her blog. Thank you for writing it, HH! And I am so very glad you enjoyed it.
  • Discovering two nests on the way into work; one collared dove nest in the crook of a lime branch, and one blue-tit nest in a hole in an ornamental ash.
  • The swifts are back: they arrived yesterday. And I suspect that the birdlife round here thinks those attenuated sillhouettes up there must be falcons, and spend the day in mild shock. I watched a blackbird this morning sitting in a trance-state on a wall for ten minutes, uttering his thin 'seeeeep!' hawk alarm call every few seconds, head cocked to one side, watching the swifts wheeling overhead, frozen with panic. Duh.
  • I was late for work this morning.
  • Laughing out loud at the silliest academic paper I've ever seen.
  • Sunday, nearly dying after my windscreen wipers broke, mid-sweep, in a rainstorm at 70mph on the A1. Ack!
  • Wandering around on a gloomy, grey Bank Holiday weekend at the Falconers' Fair in Shropshire, seeing lots of old falconer friends, and, as I explained in an email to Rebecca O'Connor, author, falconer, psittacine-keeper, blogger, and Very Good Thing, the Fair is MAD! Hundreds of falconry equipment stalls selling equipment ranging from "My god, that's the most beautiful hood I've ever seen" to "I can't believe they're trying to sell this crap!", stalls selling antlers and walking sticks, old gin traps, agricultural junk, stuffed birds, roast pork sandwiches, poultry (I nearly cracked, here, and came back with a big box of Old English Game bantams, a snip at £10 each!) And lots of 'falconry club' stands. They range from the super-duper tent of the BFC to those of local falconry clubs—often a man sitting in a plastic chair holding a mug of tea in one hand and a harris hawk in the other.... oh, and some of the worst falconry displays I've ever seen.....
  • Giving in to the temptation to check my Amazon Sales Rank. It is a terrible mistake to do this. No-one, not even mathematicians working on higher dimensional algebra, has a clue how the figures are generated, what they mean, or whether they mean anything at all. But this makes the Sales Rank something preternaturally important to new authors. It is inexplicable, therefore it must be true.
  • But being happy that the book ranked one less in the hierarchy than Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy: Fear and Trembling in Sunnydale (Popular Culture and Philosophy Series), and one more than The Book of Honor : Covert Lives and Classified Deaths at the CIA, by Ted Gup. Strangely apt bedfellows, somehow...
  • Discovering, in the time it's taken me to write this, with my office window open onto a glorious May morning, that there's a pair of sparrowhawks somewhere close by. I can hear all sorts of chipping and mewing accipitrine calls through the sounds of lawns being mown. I think they've a nest somewhere on the College grounds!
  • The students will really think I'm on drugs, when I start rushing to the window with a pair of binoculars in the middle of meetings....

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