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It's very rare I post. I'm not much of a diary person. I think I had the instinct removed as a teen when my mother regularly screamed at me because of something she'd read when my diary "accidentally fell open when she was cleaning my room"

But some things you want to remember. Yesterday my husband turned 40. His damned employers exercised their usual unerring instinct for these things and sent him to Edinburgh for training. Apparently, even though he had prebooked leave, it was far too important for him to miss. Yeah, right.

But now he's back and tonight we went to see Monkey: Journey to the West at the Palace theatre in Manchester. Fantastic show. Lovely story, written in the 1500's, which is very familiar to those of us old enough to remember the catchphrase "Irrepressible!" Acrobats, circus performers and through it all struts the Monkey King, cocky & fearless.

Jem loved it and that is what matters. Dinner tomorrow night with those few of our friends who (a) live near enough to come and (b) aren't at moots/weddings/on holiday.

But what I wanted to remember is: my husband turned 40. When he turned 30 I broke my leg at a Moot and he took me to hospital. I had broken up with my first husband Fraser only two weeks before and it would be another 5 months before we got together, and another year after that before we truly started to shake down. He's the best thing, the very best thing that ever happened to me.

Happy Birthday Jeremy.
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Had phonecall from house buyer last night. She's having unexpected difficulty scraping together the 10% deposit (and the evil stamp duty), and has advised that we accept other viewers as she can't guarantee being able to buy.

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Help please.

I need photo's of my house to assist with the sale of it. We are selling privately because frankly nothing an estate agent can do is worth 3 grand of our money.

Any attempts to take pictures of the rooms with a normal camera results in a picture of a fireplace and half an alcove.

So, does anyone who lives or visits Manchester (and would be willing to help) have either
(a) a camera with a wide angle lens, or
(b) an SLR camera for which the wide angle lens wouldn't be too expensive for us to buy it for them.

Or can anyone offer an alternative solution.

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I've been avoiding posting for a bit because I didn't want to cover and recover the same ground. And now I realise that as a result, I haven't covered any of it. Bum. So here goes:

Since back surgery mid August, I spent the first few weeks alternately lying down and standing up. It's astonishing how few activities there are available that are vertical and non-strenuous. The geese in the Park are consequently so full of bread they can barely stagger up to me for the next instalment. Sitting is a no-no, which has kept me off the PC almost completely. I have a laptop for t'internet and games, but not email. I am now much recovered, and can do most things except sit. Sitting is still bad, and as a result I'm still off work and will be until probably the end of Oct.   The neuro-surgeon reckons that he has fixed the left side by removing some bone and ligament to make space for the nerve.  Apparently the right side requires spinal injections, which he will be prepared to do in December when I've healed a bit more.  So it's not over yet, but hopefully I can see the winning post.

For some time now Jem & I have been considering moving house.  We love our house, but it's not big enough (if you've seen it; don't laugh, it's true!).   Also, having watched our next door neighbours sell theirs, we've realised that it is worth about 70K more than we thought it was.   As a result I spent the best part of a fortnight following surgery trawling estate agent sites on the laptop from a prone position and arranging viewings.  We find that buying a house is incredibly complicated.  Last time we viewed three houses on the same street and picked the best - easy-peasy.  This time they are all big beautiful period houses that tick most, not all, of the wish list.  (Apparently if you want to tick all boxes, you have to spend more than 350K, even in t'North).  They are all totally different from each other, all gorgeous, would all cause us varying degrees of headache and we have no idea how to pick one over the other.  Heartbreakingly, the very best one of all, the one that is the template of housy perfection for us had to be discarded - it was on a main road and having insisted that our second viewing be at rush-hour we just couldn't convince ourselves that we could put up with it.

At the same time we have to get this house ready for sale.  Jem has cleared both the cellars and the backyard and will be gravelling the yard at the weekend, and I'm painting the lower and upper hall in very small stages, about 1 - 2 hours being all I can manage in a day.  It's a big hall  -I 've been at it for nearly 2 weeks and am less than half way through it I think.  The other big job will be stripping and papering the kitchen.

So there you are:  a six week update in one gulp which saves you from reading variations on a theme every few days, and protects me from everyone realising just how much I vacillate over major purchases.  Honestly, I've come back from half a dozen viewings firmly believing that this is The One, and then cooled off overnight.  It's getting embarrassing.  But, in case anyone's interested, these are the two main contenders currently:  (lovely house, big rooms, but it needs a full rewire and has a 70 year old coal-fired Aga which is giving me the heebies) (gorgeous, gorgeous house, been fully renovated to conservation standards, but has no dining room and absolutely nowhere for guests to park other than the dentist carpark two doors up)


Aug. 14th, 2006 11:40 pm
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I'm going into hospital for back surgery tomorrow.

Fingers crossed, guys. I'm not scared of surgery, but I really want it to work this time, so I can do normal stuff without it breaking me.

My other great challenge is to survive the next few weeks without being completely smothered by [profile] ellistar's anxious pampering. Bless his little heart.
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I'll start with a disclaimer: I am not very good at SQL. I don't use it much.

So, can anyone tell me why the following query isn't working?



SQL accepts and runs the query but brings back zero results even though I know there are records that should fall into the range. I note that the display of the datetime field in Enterprise Manager is dd/mm/yyyy and that in a Query Result Pane it is yyyy-mm-dd. I have tried both of these, but no success. The exact same query runs fine on a numeric field, so my syntax is OK. What am I doing wrong?
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Two more days before I can tell [profile] ellistar about the holiday I've bought for his birfday.

I may explode.

Unfortunately, due to the fact that his work was in too much turmoil for me to just ring his boss and arrange his hols from work behind his back, I had to tell him "book these days, and ask me nothing". As he therefore knew there was a secret, he's been far too aware of what's going on around him over the last 6 weeks or so and there's been some info leakage.

I'm bloody awful at keeping secrets from him. I shall never try to do this again.
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For those who know them, I received an email today from Chris & Katie Hill via the House of Tallard yahoo group.

"William Christopher Hill
Arrived at 06:45am 18th June 2006
Weighing in at 10lbs exactly (Ouch!)
Katie's fine but very tired and sore"


May. 18th, 2006 11:23 pm
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On Sunday, Jeremy and I will take medal tests in Ballroom (Waltz & Quickstep) and Latin (ChaCha, Rumba & Samba) As of today I think the only one we have nailed is the Samba. Worse, we have just worked out that we have been consistently making the same mistake in our spin turn for 2 years.  The chances of correcting it before Sunday are remote.
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My only real regret about NWO is that, having never played Ars Magica prior to attending, I feel it took me 3 of the 5 games to understand the colour and richness of the different Houses, and to see all the levers and buttons that drive the Hermetic World.

I wish I could go back and play it again with what I now know - not about the plot - but about the Order.

Playing a Harco redcap for Rome and Grand was a revelation. Most Houses take from the Order, a few give and take, and one or two give of themselves wholeheartedly, and Mercere is one of the latter. But they are repaid many times over with the strength of their Family, and Harco have the closest family of all. Despite the hardships of her world I envy Lyssa.

There one major thing about her that I found it hard to play: she is meant to be the Fury of Harco and by god she had good reason to be furious. At Grand Tribunal, where battles are fought with words rather than spells or swords there were 2 or 3 times when she wanted to haul off and punch someone, or haul them up a wall by their throat or in one memorable moment (Cadamon) throw them downstairs, and this is where I came unstuck.

[ profile] ellistarinforms me that most boys instinctively know who they can roughhouse with, who wears (as Morgan put it) the extreme combat armband. 
I had not the faintest idea who was fair game, or indeed how to initiate such a thing. What I know is what (I think) most girls know; who they can hug, kiss or cry with in the interests of great roleplay. 
How to grapple without having to break the mood by stopping to check? No clues on that one.

So I apologise to the writers if they were hoping to see the Fury of Harco let rip. Because I couldn't find a larp-safe way to let the fury out so I channeled it into positive action instead.

"Don't talk about it. Talk about it, and you'll warn your enemies and let your allies steal your thunder. Talk is cheap and wastes time and lives. Do it. Talk about it afterwards. 'You should not have…' is music to my ears compared to 'should I…'      I have no time for ditherers." Livy Catullus Mercurius

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Bridesmaid dress fittings for Em&Andy's wedding last night, and by god the shop woman faffed.

Two and a half hours to pin a couple of alterations and hems for three of us. I was itching to take the goddamned pins off her and do it myself.
When it came to her wafting around a metre of chiffon and utterly failing to work out how to turn it into 3 sets of bodice straps while leaving over enough for [profile] velvet_the_cat to make handbag straps I actually did snatch it away from her, measure the whole thing myself and tell her exactly how many inches to cut for each piece. I suspect that saved us half an hour. Fortunately she's an easygoing lady and took my interference in good part, rather than treating me like the Managing Baggage I am.

[profile] ellistar and I were meant to be going to a dance lesson afterwards (we take medal tests in a couple of weeks!), but I had tripped and cracked my knee against a stone step on Monday, and dresslady's faffing meant that I was stood in one place so long my knee seized up.

AND she stuck a pin in me so I bled on the dress. Now I do this all the time, and in fact I can think of a couple of ladies who will agree with me when I say that all the best costumes require a little bloodletting. But it's a bit much when someone has BOUGHT the dress.

The next few weeks are a nightmare of hair tests and makeup tests and stuff. It's last year all over again.

Roll on NWO. I'm looking forward to being a tomboy for a few days before Going All Girl.
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Like several other friends on here, I wrote to my MP, Michael Meacher, regarding this Bill.

The letter I received back is singularly brief:

"Thank you for your letter.

The aim of this Bill is to usher in a number of the wide-scale reforms announced in the Better Regulation Action Plan of May 2005.

Yes, I have been looking into this Bill, and I agree its implications are unprecedented and very worrying."

And that's it, that's all I got. I can't decide whether I've just been agreed with or just been blanked.

So I looked up the Better Regulation Action Plan. Apparently this Plan is designed to move away from "the assumption since the first legislation of Victorian times - that business, unregulated, will invariably act irresponsibly." and towards "the better view .. that businesses want to act responsibly."

Yeah right, sure they do.
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[profile] ellistar and I have heard very loud scratching noises in the house these last couple of nights.

I do hope this doesn't mean that a mouse has moved in again. You know what happened last time, and I value my frying pans.
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I've fallen in the habit of only posting either to communicate something specific, or to capture something that I want to remember.

This is one of the latter.

The weekend just gone was spent in Venice for the wedding of [personal profile] westernind & [profile] forbinproject

I gloss over the hideousness of the 8 hour journey of interconnecting flights via Frankfurt, and the surpassing horrendously of the 10 hour re-tracing of these footsteps on Sunday. I merely note that no-one should go via Frankfurt airport, to anywhere, ever. It is a horrible, confusing spread of gates and passport control areas and virtually no shops, and what makes it utterly, totally, ghastly is that every single restaurant and coffee shop, even Starbucks, is a total Smoking Zone.

[profile] ellistar & I have been avoiding going to Carnevale for several years now. Naturally I find the idea of having an incentive to make new and beautiful clothes extremely appealing (and have come home with my head full of ideas), but we had baulked because being a tourist magnet didn't appeal very much at all. We all have different ways of getting our ego fed, and this one didn't feel like the one for us. In this I think we were correct. Some people seem to feel that the tourists taking pictures are feeding them. We felt more that the ravening hordes with cameras were feeding upon us, and we didn't like it much. However, I did enjoy it when virtually the entire wedding party were lounging on the steps of Santa Maria della Salute waiting for the bride and groom to arrive for the official photos, and a huge horde of tourists gathered to take pictures. This was pleasurable because of the cameraderie, rather than the cameras.

The wedding itself was lovely. The bride and groom were waiting together outside to greet their guests as they arrived, which was sweetly informal and very nice. I've never seen either of them look happier. Their costumes were ....perfect. This is the only occasion in my adult life when I have admired a piece of dressmaking and had to admit to myself that I genuinely could not have achieved the same result. The civil ceremony was prettier than its English equivalent with many references to a life fully shared in all its aspects, and,although I can't remember the exact words, at the end the registrar said "I hope your lives are as bright(?) and vibrant(?) as they are right now", with a smile that encompassed a room full of people in peacock colours.

The atmosphere in the room lifted more and more as the ceremony progressed, and by the end I had a smile on my face that could not be contained, and could physically and spiritually feel the joy of the occasion as a tangible thing.

Thank you Roz & Simon for inviting me to share this day, and big thanks also to [profile] velvet_the_cat & Dan for putting us up for 2 days.

Next I have the scary job of transporting bits of the CovenWork to Brum on Friday ready for the party Saturday night.
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I suspect I'm probably very, very late with this, and that anyone who's interested read it years ago.

But just in case I'm wrong, here's a link to Neil Gaiman's "I, Cthulhu":
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Watch until the end of this advert; it's the best bit.


Nov. 25th, 2005 10:51 am
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I'm not sure how many LJ'ers know them but:

Matt & Karen Jakeman have had a baby girl, Amy Eileen Janet, 23rd November, 7.10pm, 7lb 10oz.

If you do know them, then you may know how many problems Karen has previously had getting successfully to term, and therefore how important this is to them.
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I had a horrendously busy weekend.

In a weak moment I volunteered to assist at the Women's Institute tabletop sale on Saturday morning. This involved me getting out of bed at 7.30am ON A SATURDAY. Not good.

I was astonished by the tat people will buy. Bargain hunters hoovered up bric a brac that I had experienced extreme difficulty in even putting a price to. During the pricing process I kept having to bag some other WI lady and display a cottage shaped lamp, whimsical eggtimer, or truly nasty ornament in order to get her opinion on a price for it. My personal opinion was that you couldn't give it away, but I was proved totally wrong.

I donated a large quantity of books. They had all been read once, were all bestsellers of the last 5 years or so. They were almost universally ignored by the buying public in favour of dogeared old copies of books that appeared from the covers to have been written by authors of the Catherine Cookson school.

There were some bright lemon hand knitted bedsocks. I only know this because someone told me, as they were not in any way sock shaped, but in fact bags that tied at the top. One customer expressed a disturbing amount of delight that they were available, as her current pair had worn out. Weird.

I arrived home in time to shoehorn [profile] ellistar from in front of his pc and get ready for the other thing we had rashly volunteered for. Those of you who came to our wedding may remember Deborah & Jeremy, our photographers. Jeremy is involved in a charity called The Back-Up Trust which provides outdoorsy type activities for spinally injured and able-bodied to enjoy together. He was one of the organisers for the BackUp Ball which is their annual fundraiser, and when he found out that we run a casino in lrp (Maelstrom), he wheedled us into running one for the Ball. So we begged and pleaded with our House of Tallard group, and in the end Jem & I + Chris, Mike, June and DA toddled off to the Birmingham Metropole to run a casino for 600 black-tied and evening-frocked people.

This is both easier and harder than running for 600 lrpers.

Easier because there is no currency to worry about. The gambling laws are hideously strict, so in order to avoid it completely each person there was entitled to 20 chips to have fun with, and when they brought chips back after playing I made a list. Those 3 people who won most chips got a prize of booze. Easy. No multiple currencies, no chip accounts, and no IC paranoia about whether an armed gang would try to roll the casino.

Also easier and more fun for the croupiers because the poeple there were not taking it anywhere near as seriously as lrper's do. So virtually no spreadbetting which meant easier maths.

Harder because whereas lrp has unwritten rules about how you can/cannot behave; this was the real world, and these really were paying customers. The Ball was £65 per head, and the room reeked of money. Most people were lovely, but some got way too pissed, and one arsehole visibly skimmed chips and walked off with them, and then refused to give them back. We brought all our own gear and were not being re-imbursed for anything, not even petrol, but we got no support from the organisers - they were not prepared to make any trouble with their paying customers and regular supporters. I have to wonder what would have happened if anyone had got really ugly with us; the lesson learned is not to do this kind of thing without clear agreements with the organisers.
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Can any kind friend in the Brum area offer [profile] ellistar and I a bed for the night of Anita's birthday party on the 19th November?

Pretty please?
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