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Author GillO


Recent entries from Gill's Place - the blog of GillO

NOTE: This blog has been rated FR15 by the author. Blog content is not moderated by TtH

For all my friends who are interested in British obsessions. This is a wartime public information film about the correct way to make tea. Giles and Wesley grew up with such rules.

Note that a man gives the detailed instructions, because it has to be credible! The accents are something else - you never hear anything like them these days.

I do wonder if the man is Alastair Sim...

And linked to that, one of a set (apparently) of EFL videos from the BBC, this one about idioms connected to tea. Though I would usually say "as much use as a chocolate teapot", not "as good as".

I have an essay to submit on Monday. 8,000 words, +/- 10%. So far, 2,500 and counting. Which explains why I'm all work-avoidy here.
Posted: 27 Aug 14 06:26 • Comments
I'm feeling my age a bit, not to mention my weight - my hotel is cheap, clean and comfortable, but at the "wrong" end of the ExCel conference centre, which is so big it has two DLR stations. This means about a half-mile walk at the start of the day - no problem - and at the end, by which time my knees and feet are killing me and every step feels like six.

OK, whine over, this is a very, very good con. I've been to all sorts of panels on YA, TV, mediaevalism and London, enjoyed really good conversations with total strangers and met lots of folk I know, most of whom are way busier than me. Not only did I meet Illustrationowlfish, I've now met the wonderful Grouting, who is particularly keen on assaulting her father with hula hoops and Illustrationowlfish's mother, who I accused of being her sister. Ooops.

Particularly noteworthy was a fascinating conversation in the Exhibition hall with a lady from Glasgow University's Historical Thesaurus project - like a standard thesaurus, but linking all the words and slang terms ever used in the language since Beowulf spoke it - to call it "awesome" would be to undervalue it. I also spent time with some OTW people, including a delightful lady who is in charge of translations into non-English languages, which is also awesome - a word I'm in danger of overusing this weekend.

Lots of cosplayers around, of course - enough to make a photo spread in The Guardian, and some amazing exhibits. I fell in love with a steampunk Dalek, a Tiki Dalek and a representation of the railway system of "Angst Less-pork".

Posted: 17 Aug 14 03:12 • Comments
My entry for Illustrationmonthlydiaryday.

The Twelfth started badly as I was up late doing some work on an essay, and so I caught the news about Robin Williams, which was distressing.

When I woke up the day started properly. I wished my husband "Happy Anniversary". He didn't quite swear, but he jumped a little. Minutes later a text arrived for him from our daughter F, reminding him it was our wedding anniversary. He did bring me a mug of coffee..

After getting up, showering etc I had breakfast, as usual, at the desktop computer. My FB feed was pretty much all Robin Williams - his death caused instinctive feelings of loss, while the probability of suicide elicited a lot of comments about the deadly nature of severe depression.

I spent most of the rest of the day doing background reading for the paper I'm giving next week, on Lois McMaster Bujold. I wish I was more confident about the pronunciation of "Vorkosigan". I was slightly distracted by a volume of Thackeray's letters, but managed a reasonable level of focus.

When Dave got home we decided to celebrate our anniversary appropriately and went to Leamington to the cinema. I hadn't really eaten much since breakfast, so there was ice cream and a fizzy drink, and we saw Guardians of the Galaxy. It is the most delicious, bonkers fun - if you haven't seen it you really should. Then we detoured via the 24-hour Tesco to buy some easy food - a chicken, chorizo and potato dish which was rather tasty. Some wine may also have been drunk.

And so to bed. 36 years married now - where did the time go?
Posted: 14 Aug 14 15:09 • Comments
Robin Williams has been found dead. It appears to have been suicide.

We all have memories, I'm sure, of laughing at something he was in until we were helpless. How sad that he couldn't find his own inner happiness or peace.
Posted: 11 Aug 14 15:20 • Comments
I think I came out as this once before.

GillO's Personality Type Results

ENFP — The "Advocate"
ENFP Advocates are enthusiastic, expressive and charismatic leaders. They are spontaneous, wild and posses a great zest for life. ENFPs are dreamers. They are driven by their values and strive to champion the causes they believe in. They are resourceful, visionary and creative.
- See more at:

Hmmm. Not wholly convinced by the description.
Posted: 31 Jul 14 15:37 • Comments
Not really beaten up, just feeling that way. I went to the dentist's yesterday for the next segment of restorative work, which is costing me not so much an arm and a leg as all the limbs of every relative I still have extant. I now have two prototype crowns and a prototype tooth on my implant. Six hours in the chair.

I feel as if I've been beaten up. Not only did I fail to do the SU Herald yesterday, I spent most of today asleep too. I know there was anaesthetic involved, and it was a long time, but it really does feel silly that I feel like this.

Still, Guest!Cat is actually being quite friendly, and has fallen in love with a box Dave found for him.


Now I'm going back to bed. I still have 150 pages to read of Pendennis before I can even start my essay.
Posted: 29 Jul 14 14:26 • Comments
A phone call from Sweden this evening. K finally asked F to marry him - down on one knee too, apparently. In a motorway layby, but beside a stunningly beautiful lake.

So, there's a wedding to organise. They are talking about January, which is scarily soon, even though they don't want a really big "do". And I have to get a mother-of-the-bride outfit I won't hate myself in.

Beware, there will probably be a lot of wedding talk over the next few months. Illustrationshapinglight, I may well be picking your brains!

Posted: 25 Jul 14 14:41 • Comments
Time just seems to creep up on me. I'm busy re-reading Pendennis, the Thackeray blockbuster which inspired Virginia Woolf's attack on Victorian mega-novels, as I have to concoct eight thousand words on it by the end of next month. For light relaxation I am also doing some reading for the paper on Bujold, also next month. (What? Georgette Heyer is SRS reading. Honest.) and various academic articles.

Last week was busy. On Wednesday I went down to Bicester to visit Illustrationoxfordia and then onward to London with her to meet her cousin, L, who had major surgery not long ago, so needed a little extra help. All went smoothly apart from my attempt to pay for the car-park via my mobile. I am now appealing the hundred quid fine. :-( (Only £60 if I pay up at once without arguing. So not going to happen.)

Then on Thursday F's boyfriend, K arrived with Guest!Cat. He and she are now in Norway on a Scandi roadtrip without, I hope, too much in the way of Scandinoir murders and knitwear. They thought they had catsitting organised, till the landlord's agents announced that decorators would be in this week and next, with windows left open, painters underfoot and noisy and gloss paint smells everywhere. As Dax is an indoor cat, this was felt to be not a good idea, so he's with us for the fortnight.

He spent the first night and day hiding under F's bed, but he's gradually tolerating us a bit more. He likes windowsills and comes to check on me if I'm reading in/on the bed.

Dax in bedroom

He is also very fond of a big bag which once held clothes.
Posted: 22 Jul 14 11:36 • Comments
This is my post for this month's Illustrationmonthlydiaryday.

Once more I join the chorus of "where did the month go?" This time last month we were in the glorious Midi, and now we're back in slightly soggy England. To be fair, it has been warm and with some lovely days, but this weekend has had its soggy moments.

On Friday I had both dental and hospital appointments, so Saturday morning was definitely for taking it easy, with coffee and the papers in bed, a leisurely shower and The New Quiz repeat on the radio. Once up, I did a bit of pottering round, though I was playing "chicken" with my darling husband over the dishwasher - I was away most of the week, and it remained as I'd left it, with almost every dish in the house waiting to be put in the magic cupboard. (He finally buckled this morning!)

I did a check of my usual internet sites, played a few mindless games, then settled down to some serious work. I have an essay on Thackeray to submit by the end of next month, and his books, like so many of his contemporaries', are the size and weight of bricks. My focus is on Pendennis, a mere 800 pages, and I'm re-reading and putting little sticky post-it style labels whenever relevant material appears, colour-coding as I go. My copy is already looking like a rainbow!

Just for variety I did some intensive searching of academic databases and downloaded a dozen or so articles which may prove useful. Thackeray in his own day was considered to be the equal of Dickens; now only Vanity Fair gets much attention, which means I'm effectively breaking new ground.

A daughter phoned from London and we discussed some of the logistics of looking after her cat while she and her boyfriend go to Scandinavia for two w...
Posted: 13 Jul 14 15:00 • More • Comments
Beautiful Aardman film for the Imperial War Museum's reopening. Well worth watching.
Posted: 7 Jul 14 14:21 • Comments
A so-called dialect coach tries Geordie**. Dick Van Dyke, Mollie the Mockney Potential, even Oirish Angel, all is forgiven. This is the worst yet.

Just for contrast, three non-Geordie actors do the accent. Julian Rhind-Tutt and Tamsin Greig do it well, Stephen Mangan (not wearing a mask) messes up, but is still better than the so-called dialect coach!

** Geordie is the very distinctive accent of the North-East of England, particularly Newcastle on Tyne. I love it, but most southern English people find it hard work.
Posted: 2 Jul 14 14:15 • Comments
I've just booked a hotel room and membership for the World SF convention in London next month. Several people I know are involved in running/planning/speaking, but I'm feeling somewhat nervous - it's a long time since I've been to a really big con.

In other news, my nephew not only got a First in Maths but also came top of his university. The very old one half an hour south of Banbury. Hard to beat that - yes, he's going straight on to PhD study.

On Sunday Dave and I went down to London to visit F, who has moved in to a rather charming little flat in Fulham. Just her and her boyfriend this time. She's definitely cocooning. R came along to join us, bring her new boyfriend, also an actor and an extremely likeable young man, clearly besotted with her.





I was saddened by the news of Rolf Harris's conviction. I always found Savile and Hall creepy, but when I was a child I thought Rolf was wonderful. I just hope no more of my childhood heroes are tainted.
Posted: 1 Jul 14 15:02 • Comments
My entry for the Illustrationmonthlydiaryday comm, which is flocked.

We are nearing the end of our holiday in the Gard département of France, well to the south, so this was a fairly non-standard 12th of the month.

We're staying in the lovely little town of Uzés (the accent goes the other way, but I don't know how to do that on my laptop.) We have a flat which is accessed directly from the Place aux Herbes, the centre of the twice-weekly market and many other activities.

Uzes rainy day004

It was Dave's turn to go out and get the fresh baguette and croissants for breakfast, while I showered and organised coffee. I was feeling a bit rough - I have some health issues I hope a procedure next week will help sort out - so we did a lot of lounging around and reading all morning, and didn't set out anywhere till late afternoon.

Firstly we had a drive in the countryside to the south of town, finding, by no accident, a vineyard where "Degustation-Vente" was on offer - tasting and buying. So we did. This has become quite an important part of our holiday, which is why we drive eight hundred miles or so rather than flying. The Passat has a lot of room for boxes of bottles.

Pont du Gard day001

There were heavy clouds threatening, even lightning in the distance - not surprising, as the temperatures were well into the mid-30s C. The trees were being thrown around and dust was everywhere.
Posted: 13 Jun 14 14:49 • Comments
British people have deeply, deeply ingrained training about the correct preparation of tea. The pot must be warm, the water must be actually boiling (and never reheated after it has gone off the boil), the milk, if you take it (and most of us do) must be in the cup first. (Unless you're a Scot, I'm told.) Tea-bags in a mug are accepted, but leaves in a pot are better.

So, last week, Illustrationdragonyphoenix wrote a delightful little ficlet about Giles making tea. And a whole bunch of Brits piled on to whinge about inaccuracy. She reacted very graciously, even adjusting a few details. And challenged me to write about an English character forced to watch Americans make tea in their own way.

The following ensued.

Title: Tea Parties Suck
Season 4, after Something Blue. 1,316 words.
Characters: Giles, Buffy, Willow, Spike.
Rated: PG13, mostly for language.
Summary: Spike is all tied up, but it's still fun watching two Yankee bints messing up a precious ritual for Giles.

Tea Parties Suck

Sitting bound hand and foot to an unevenly-padded chair is not the most stylish way to spend your days. The only thing that can be said for it is that it beats being chained up in a bathtub with a dripping tap. And no sodding TV show unless you throw a full-scale drama queen tantrum, get threatened with a stake, drink blood from a novelty mug and if you’re extra-lucky get slayer-taste in your mouth.

There were days unlife sucked beyond the telling. Then there were worse days, like today.

Giles had a hangover. Spike’s heart would bleed for him, if it could beat. Or bleed. No, scrap that. Giving a shit was not on the agenda. Wh...
Posted: 27 May 14 14:48 • More • Comments
So of course there has been heavy rain. Mostly yesterday.

We drove up to Bodelwyddan to visit Mum in hospital. We carefully avoided most of the M6, going up the A5 via Shrewsbury, Oswestry, Wrexham etc. Three and a half hours, which is distinctly better than when we went that way at Easter. It would have been pretty, too, if it hadn't been for the torrential rain much of the way. We stopped at a garden centre near Chirk. Dave was only a little bit wistful about the castle there.

Mum seemed cheerful and generally better than I'd feared, though walking to the loo and back tired her a little. I think she likes the rest and being looked after. She seemed very appreciative of our visit, at least.

The way back was ... interesting. Around Birmingham, more or less at Spaghetti Junction, the sky went a murky purple, flashes of forked lighting traced across the sky and rain and hail pelted down. The motorway traffic slowed to 20mph. On the M6 on a Saturday evening. Really.

Eventually it let up and we moved on. Then, as we joined the M42, we spotted a huge plume of smoke. That is sorta Dave's thing, professionally, so he was trying to work out which industrial site it was coming from. It wasn't. It was (probably) a VW campervan, totally engulfed in flames, which flared up above the roof to half as high again as the vehicle. There's nothing I can find on the news media today about it, and we did see a person with a large golf umbrella nearby (see above re: rain), so we hope nobody was hurt. Spectacular, though - almost filmic.

Today there was enough not-rain for gardening to happen. This is good.
Posted: 25 May 14 14:25 • Comments
I haven't posted for a while, for which I apologise. I've been a swot, basically - yesterday was the deadline for my penultimate essay for the MA course.

This was the Early Modern Drama piece - that is, contemporaries of Shakespeare. There were a lot. Even if you rule out the Big Names you've heard of, like Will himself, Marlowe and Webster, you are left with hordes of them. Seriously - you could visualise them galloping across the steppes and laying waste with a will. Or without him. Anyway, in significant, destructive numbers. They did love the blood and gore. A lot.

My chosen topic was gender in magic and the Dark Arts. That is, wizards and witches and how they were presented differently in a habitually misogynist society. Attitudes which still prevail, if you think about it.

Google Image search "witch" gives you this on the first page:


Click to see the original site, which, totally serendipitously, is about gendering witches, amongst other things.

OTOH, search for "wizard", and you get, not exactly surprisingly, a lot of art, then photos of Gandalf, Dumbledore, Merlin, Harry Potter...:

Yes, the Daily Fail reporting a "real-life Dumbledore" opening his own wizards' school. In California, you will be astonished to learn.

As it is now, so was it back then. Fascinatingly, though, ...
Posted: 20 May 14 11:12 • More • Comments
Somewhere between French Noir and 'Spaced', 'L'ennui Pour La Buffy' is a film in the convention of 'Arthouse Geek'. Half Jean Luc Godard, half Jean Luc Picard ...

"You're talking to three fictional characters in a post-apocalyptic landscape because that's what you do on Friday."

Just a thought, though - shouldn't the translation be "A Weariness for the Buffy"?
Posted: 6 May 14 04:46 • Comments
An article on the BBC website reminded me that at the very start of his career Bob Hoskins starred in a major public campaign to encourage adults with reading problems to seek help. (Because even in what Gove would like us to think of as the halcyon days of '50s education, huge numbers - far more than now - left school functionally illiterate. Who'd have thought it?)

He looks so young and sweet there, nearly forty years ago.

Those were kinder times. These days people would be told it was their fault, and that of their leftie teachers. :-(
Posted: 3 May 14 06:26 • Comments
Milligan, of blessed memory. And Daleks, when they were merely British cultural icons.

Not 100% crazy about the curry jokes, though. But Dalek, home from a hard day at work, is epic.
Posted: 30 Apr 14 16:15 • Comments
A very sad loss to the world of film, theatre and TV.

Lots of people today are mentioning his film work, but I recall the wonderful Pennies from Heaven, Dennis Potter in his prime. The end of that show stays with me still. Unsurprisingly, the musical interludes are the easiest to find.

And, after he is taken to his execution, the utterly implausible but much-wanted happy ending.
Posted: 30 Apr 14 15:35 • Comments
Easter weekend was busy, as both girls were home, plus one boyfriend. On Saturday we went to North Wales to visit Mum.

The actual visit was pleasant. We met my brother, sister-in-law and nephew at a pub with Mum, and had lunch, then returned to her house for the afternoon. My nephew is a maths wiz and has a fully-funded doctoral scholarship at Oxford starting next year. It was nice to see them all, though Mum is getting noticeably frail and more than a little forgetful these days. (She will be 89 in August.)

The bad, though, was that it took a good five hours to get there, and three hours back, so we spent more time on the road than we actually did in Mum's company. There was an accident on the M6 (when isn't there?) so we had to go cross-country, and it took us an hour just to get round the teeming metropolis of Nantwich. Yes, ours is a small but crowded island.

In other good news, I had a paper accepted for a conference in August, on Lois McMaster Bujold. (The Vorkosigan novels in the light of Bujold's dedication of A Civil Campaign) It's at the "other university" in Cambridge, and I'm feeling rather excited about it.

The bleagh news?

I'm 58. I should not need to be buying sanitary supplies. I should not be having period pain cramps. They should not have been going on for eighteen months and they should not be incapacitating me to the extent that I didn't even do my Herald post on Sunday. I am very thoroughly pissed off about this.

And to finish, today is Shakespeare's 450th birthday. As far as they know, as only his baptism was ever recorded at the time. He has been my passion, my companion and my mainstay all my life. Here's wishing the birthday boy another 450 years of eternal fame. *g*

This Figure, that thou here seest put,
It was for gentle Shakespeare cut;
Wherein the Graver had a strife
With Nature...
Posted: 23 Apr 14 14:39 • More • Comments
Thanks to Illustrationx_los I've been wandering around the British Library website. They have a wonderful timeline of the development of English language and literature there, full of information and images from their stock. The Library is an amazing place, full of stuff a readaholic like me would kill for, and the timeline gives just a taste - you can click through to find out more about any of their items. Beware, though - there is a lot to distract one!
Posted: 17 Apr 14 04:56 • Comments
I'm very late with my Illustrationmonthlydiaryday post, for which my apologies.

Saturday usually means a slow start, coffee in bed with the papers. These days I also check my gmail, LJ and FB on my Nexus in bed too. So hedonistic.

Eventually up and showered. Daughter #2 was with us, so we chatted about her plans for a while over more coffee. Then we went to Leamington Spa with her, taking her out for a meal at Strada (a chain, but reasonable quality). Then we split up for a short while, in which I managed to buy some clothes in a sale and get a copy of a sewing magazine. Sewing World can be very annoying - the proof-reading is shoddy, to be kind, and some of the makes are ghastly - but I quite enjoy reading it, and it does assume a slightly higher level of competence than most of the UK mags of that sort.

We met outside Waterstones and returned to the car to take Daughter to the station, to return to London. We'll be seeing her next weekend too, though, which will be nice.

We couldn't be faffed to do any more shopping, so returned home. I did a bit of reading about Early Modern witchcraft for an essay due next month, then we settled down to plan our route for our holiday in France at the end of next month. We like to go relatively slowly, with only four or five hours of driving a day, so we booked hotels in Troyes and Vienne on the way to Uzes, and Clermont-Ferrand and Rouen for the return - we quite fancy a different route through the Auvergne, where we haven't been for decades.

Then we watched Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (stupidly long title) recorded from the previous night. I know quite a lot of my flist aren't overly impressed by it, bu...
Posted: 15 Apr 14 16:00 • More • Comments
I was working on the Herald and came across a writer, new to me, on AO3. This person linked to a site where the heading was:

DreamSmith is creating
Epic, Novel-length Fanfiction
Stories full of wonder and discovery, violence and passion, love and... hot girls with superpowers. Everything is better if you add hot girls with superpowers.

You are encouraged, nay, begged, to become a "Patron" of this bloke, who is dedicated, he says, to producing only very high quality fic. But:

Basically, and not to put too fine a point on it--I'm poor. Not 'Living on the streets and powering my laptop via teams of captive hamsters on treadmills' poor, but still, pretty darn poor. Enough so that it's hard to justify spending twenty or thirty hours to write and edit a chapter of fanfiction, when I really should be trying to scrape together money to pay the bills. I'm trying to accomplish that via two part-time jobs--one 'real' one, and one where I write stories and post them on Amazon's Kindle store.

So this person is already making some money from writing, albeit not a lot, but wants people to Support and engage with the creators you love by paying upwards of a dollar per chapter.

I'm really not impressed by this. Especially as it is my fandom he's pissing in.


ETA: I left him a comment on AO3:

You write quite well, but I really don't feel you should be asking for money from readers on this site. This fandom has been plagued with rows about making money from fanworks in the past. Have a look at this page, for example, or Google FanLib.

Please, for your own good, rethink this.

This is his reply:

I'm sorry you feel that way, but I am far from the first person to post their Patreon informati...
Posted: 14 Apr 14 11:51 • More • Comments
There is a Wikipedia in Old English. Not on it, written in genuine Anglo-Saxon.
Posted: 5 Apr 14 06:02 • Comments