Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Lying on a beach - no raw material

Chez Bonden has twelve CH radiators. To save moola three are turned off, including the one in my study. I resist hypothermia by putting on my fleece, blowing on my fingers and thinking about stuff I have read.

Orwell dying of TB and writing 1984 in an abandoned house on Jura. A Jack London short story about a man outdoors in Alaska in winter, trying to light a fire with a limited number of matches – and failing. Peter Fleming (Ian’s brother) en route from Peking to Kashmir, a 3500-mile overland journey which began in February 1935 and formed the basis of News from Tartary. Gulley Jimson in freezing London, ignoring the cold and thinking only about painting in The Horse’s Mouth.

I tend to ignore explorers like Scott and Shackleton since enduring the cold was part of their reason for going where they did. I do reflect on climbers who embark on severe Alpine climbs in winter since I’ve never understood how they keep their fingers operative (Some don’t, of course, and DIY amputations are necessary.)

PAUSE FOR REFLECTION None of the above enjoyed the benison of having Mrs BB appear at the study door with a cup of Bovril. As now.

But Puccini has the final word. La Boheme opens with students shivering in a Parisian attic in winter. They have no fuel and one offers the manuscript of his novel so that they will be cheered, briefly, by the flames. An ironic passage in the libretto.

No one visits Works Well for its DIY photos; they merely help save words. However Younger Daughter asked me to capture her with Zach; b&w (courtesy Photoshop) turned out somewhat better than colour.


Plutarch said...

Watch it, your good sized hand, equipped for DIY and typing, will be frozen,in you are not careful, in which case I might resist the tempation to press it into mine.

christopher said...

I like the photo. My house is never that warm, me thinking that 65F is more than sufficient when I am mostly home, 55F when I am not.

marja-leena said...

I like the photo, too! It must be your hardy old English blood that has pride in enduring the cold. During our recent cold spell, our usual nighttime setback was most uncomfortable. To think that we were so tough living in on the prairie and the north, now we have grown soft in living so long in the southwest. Take care of those fingers now!

20th Century Woman said...

I love your list of cold lit. We watched a cold movie the other night. It's hard to get, but Jerry, who is fixated on Alaska, managed to find it after years of searching. Cold is one of the themes of the movie -- the other is dark. It is called "Chronic Town."

My first visit to your blog, but won't be my last.

herhimnbryn said...

Bovril, winter and hyperthermia. Ah, England I remember you well!

How about some woollen fingerless mitts, while typing?

That is a wonderful image of daughter and grandson.

Barrett Bonden said...

Putarch: I know, I know. For years I resisted La Boheme, not caring for the yodelly Italian tenors it tended to attract. Then I saw a more or less perfect production, live, by Welsh National Opera, and the tears started to flow and have flowed ever since.

Christopher: In fact our master thermostat is set at 18 deg C which, given our extreme age, is not exactly indulgent and only 3 deg F above yours. Also almost all the radiators have individual stats and some (eg, the bedroom) are set below 18C. Given our circumscribed social life we are at home most of the time.

M-L: It is foolish pride that's at work. And Mrs BB wants me to say it was not her idea to switch off the rad in my room. As to your case you were tough on the prairie (a fact you should make more of in your blog - it's terribly romantic); softening is a byproduct of the passage of time.

20THW: Welcome. You have just read a typical post in which I am either showing off or engaging in false modesty. Works Well offers only these binary states, I'm afraid. I have never heard of Chronic Town and will IMDB it the second I'm finished. My personal film obscurity is called Duel at Silver Creek, listed in my profile, and from which hangs a tale. The significance of your blogonym has just occurred to me: I could be 20th Century Man. Talking of dark times, you should have known the thirties.

HHB: This was the second time Mrs BB has brought me a cup of Bovril. I thanked her for establishing "a tradition" and she was careful to say it hasn't yet been established. I was pleased with the pic, but it was Hell's own job to take. Zach was in a roiling mood.

The Crow said...

Great picture of a very happy boy!

My internal thermostat is guided by my nose - if it gets too cold, I know it's time to turn the heat up.

Rouchswalwe said...

Oh for Pete's sake, I have to ask, what the heck is DIY??? Acronyms are the bane of my existence! Such a dunce am I. Porter keeps me warm.

Hattie said...

Your daughter and grandson look cozy, and that is a good thing.
How about this one: Man nearly freezes to death in a stalled, unheated railway carriage near the Welsh border.
That was my husband during a cold snap in England years ago.
When got to his destination, the station was deserted. He was able to phone a cab and get to his hotel, where the pipes were frozen! It was a dreadful, life-threatening experience.
This adventure could have been a factor in his enthusiasm about moving to Hawaii. Even reading about cold weather makes me shudder these days.

Julia said...

I was just thinking the other day, as I added a scarf to my fleece ensemble, then blew on my fingers to warm them while typing, that the romantics who wrote in attics were totally unpractical and quite unsparing to themselves (and their sinuses).

But now I must reconsider and not blame a genre. Could it be a guy thing?

Nice picture by the way, how many words does it substitute for in your count?

Barrett Bonden said...

The Crow: The trouble is we are two noses, both of differing sensitivity. Hence the technology.

RW (sZ): You are a victim of your own articulacy and - normally - your extended vocabulary. As a result I don't find it necessary to make any concessions for you, here or on your own blog. DIY (do-it-yourself) has been around for fifty years, it started out as shorthand for repair, maintenance and building jobs around the house but has now got joky, adjectival applications: eg, The book I'd hate to have to read is DIY Brain Surgery. No sweat. After all you now know the meaning of etiolated.

Hattie: No doubt about, GB is a life-threatening society. Were I to live in Hawaii I'd be worried about keeping up with the surfing Joneses.

Julia: It's this guy's sort of thing. But then compare us in icthyological terms. You're a fast-swimming mackerel with green and gold glitter down your sides, I'm a ponderous Minke making my way to the Southern Ocean. I'm here only for my intellect, you've got that and other advantages. In order to compensate for my lack of green-and-gold I have to come up with more and more absurd ways of showing off. Two differences: (1) blubber vs. no blubber, (2) you're working and I'm playing at work.

Barrett Bonden said...

Julia: By adding a humdrum. straightforwardly explanatory pic, I avoid having to use up words from my frugal ration of 300 and can instead apply them to the blog's raison d'etre - showing off (see above).

What you see here is very rare case (at Works Well) of a picture that exists in its own right. Anyway, that's what the commissioner thought.

Avus said...

Black and white often does.

The government returns to Mrs Avus and me, between us, £250 of my taxes as a "winter fuel allowance". We are making use of it at this bitter present by actually turning on all the radiators to the 3/5 position. Mrs Avus suffers from arthritis and I have poor circulation in my hands. We have determined that we shall never be cold.

Barrett Bonden said...

Avus: I'm not suggesting anyone (and especially Mrs Avus) exposes themself to the sort of foolishness I'm engaging in. I was rather interested to find out whether enduring 58F was a painful, uncomfortable or merely a received wisdom sort of experience. In fact it hovers between the latter two and I find myself forgetting about the temperature if what I write is sufficiently absorbing. However, within the last 15 minutes Mrs BB has lowered the boom and has said this practice will now cease. I haven't yet turned the rad on again but I suspect I will. As Julia suggests, this is probably " a guy's sort of thing".

The Crow said...

Last year, due to the impoverished state of my finances, I "experimented" with the 58F setting on my thermostat. Subsequently, I contracted pneumonia, and came close to not having to worry about being too cold.

This year, thanks to all that is holy (and to the home-equity loan I was extended), I was able to pay for my fuel oil up front. To paraphrase Scarlett O'Hara, "As God is my witness, I shall never be cold again!"

Now, while the outside temps are not severe, I keep the thermostat set at 64F, wear sweaters and extra socks (if necessary), and keep my hands wrapped around hot mugs of coffee or tea. Life is so much better this year - heat-wise - than last year at this time, that I'm almost giddy with the heat.

Life is good.

Barrett Bonden said...

The Crow: As you can see, if you read my reply to Avus, I'm doing male macho stuff, while you're doing it for real. I suspect your view of 54F is shaped by the need to survive whereas I'm playing the fool. Besides which it's only sub-60F in my study and I need only step out on to the landing to enjoy a 10F increase in warmth. Persistent low temperatures sap the will to do things, even think, and I'm delighted you're thermally in balance. Please stay that way for all our sakes. Chuz.

The Crow said...

I didn't intend my response to sound so down in the mouth. Instead, I'm celebrating the happy change in circumstances that means warm toes...and I was offering support to Avus' remark.

You know, I think some of us are born with the polar bear's constitution regarding cold temps, and others of us are like house cats, preferring/seeking a warm hearth.

Happy for you that you have that warm landing, when the fingers get too cold to type - and that you have Mrs. BB to put her foot down when necessary, 'guy thing' or no.

Lucy said...

Ah but we gals aren't supposed to feel the cold as much owing to our more evenly distributed layer of subcutaneous fat. Some of us have more of that than others, of course.

I recommend a warm spaniel. They smell a bit but you get used to that...

Barrett Bonden said...

Lucy; I have the wherewithal to heat myself, I was experimenting doing without it. This led to a rift within the lute which my latest post explains. As to spaniels, it's not their inherent smell that worries me but what they may have trod in or snuffled in.