I finally finished Bleak House

That was a bit of a marathon as it is a giant rollercoaster of a novel, in 400 sizzling chapters, but I enjoyed it. I am a fast reader, but I seem to have been toting that doorstop around for some weeks. I was getting a bit sick of it by the last 200 pages, so I went to the coffee shop and vowed that until I had finished the book I would not leave, or stop eating chicken and bacon sandwidges.

It is good as I used to have a real blind spot about Dickens, until a brief yet intensely passionate dalliance with a pretty English teacher introduced me to Great Expecktations, which is fantastic. The book actually lasted longer than the relationship though. Then I read Nicholas Nickleby which unfortunately I left on the bus by mistake, so will never now find out what happens. Unless I buy another copy. Then Hard Times which was a bit too moralising for my taste, plus Dickens’ wonky attempts at dialect, like Dick van Dyke in Mary Poppins: “Cor bloimey! Oi’m a Cockney, thit’s wot Oi em!”

Bleak House is another book with a point to make, this time about the immense slowness and venality of the legal system, where people waste their whole lives and lose all their money pursuing complicated Chancery cases. I must say I would not want to piss Dickens off in case he wrote a great sledgehammer of a moral novel criticising me: Keith Lard, a massive tale of the downtrodden urban poor oppressed by a cruel and wicked system administrator, who promises to fix their laptops and then never seems to get round to it.

The only thing is how did he find time to write 107 gigantic novels, when most of us struggle to dash off a note to the milkman. I can only conclude he did not have a lot of friends who kept coming up to him at about 7 o’clock in the evening making swigging pint gestures and saying ‘Oi Oi Charley boy! It’s your round son!’ And that he did not have a girlfriend as they soak up a lot of time too.

In a good way obviously.

The night has a thousand pints

I think I might be turning into an alcoholick as I have spent the last X nights out drinking a massive amount of drinks! Where X is a number that I cannot remember.

It is awkward as I do not like to drink too much, and I am trying to lose weight, but I really like being out with my friends! And having in depth conversations, about such as comedy, bikling, fishing, Enemy Territory tactics, or how to get hold of women. Also chomping pizzas.

I always make good resolutions not to go out at all, or if I do go out not to drink anything, or to only have one drink, and it always ends up being ‘only one more drink after this one’. I think I might need to make some friends in the Mormon community or something like that where I will not be tempted to quaff beers in the name of good fellowship and general merrimint.

It is fun though.

Crash! Bang! Wallop! What a race

I forgot how excellent touring car racing is. Formula One is a lot more popular because it is shiny and noisy and full of champagne and glamour, but the cars are tiny scraps of computer-designed carbon fibre that bear as much resemblance to an ordinary car as a spaceship. Touring cars, although tuned and fitted with high-performance parts, are basically close cousins of the ordinary saloon cars that you and I might drive (not me specifically, I’ve got an Audi. But you know what I mean.)

Also, in Formula One it is quite boring as there is hardly any passing. The speeds are so high and the cars so fragile that the slightest contact usually results in one or both cars disintegrating and some angry gesticulations in the pit lane. Touring cars are more robust so twenty of them tend to pile into a corner at once and devil take the hindmost, if you come back at the end with all your body panels and paintwork intact, you really haven’t been trying hard enough. Races tend to be short and furious so there is less chance for the cars to spread out, and it is thrilling door-to-door racing especially in the wet.

Too beautiful not to share

I do not mean me of course, although I am very beautiful, I’m not for sharing. So girls form an orderly queue please. This is a picture from Astronomy Picture of the Day, of moonlight and Venuslight reflected in a Missouri lake. Lovely!

Where your Tesco spring onions come from

Very intresting article in the Guardian:

The miracle of cheap fresh food depends on illegality

You have probably not heard of Bomfords. But you will almost certainly have eaten its produce. Bomfords supplies more than 50% of the big supermarkets’ spring onions, and more than a quarter of their green beans and fresh peas… The company was recruiting its temporary staff through seven agencies. Each of those agencies was found to be breaking the law and had its licence revoked. Some of the Poles employed by one of the agencies were in such fear that the GLA revoked its gangmaster’s licence on the spot.

It had been common knowledge for years in the industry that Bomfords offered gangmasters hourly rates for workers that made it all but certain that those gangmasters would be breaking the law… In other words, the business model of cheap fresh food which the big supermarkets have used to establish their dominance has depended on illegality.”