Sunday, 29 March 2009

Who's Pat then?

“Now might I do it pat, now he is a-praying."
(Hamlet, III, iii)


Note to the people observing Earth Hour with the lovely candles in the lovely paper lanterns: setting a length of fat alight, whether it's whale blubber, canola oil, pig's innards or bee's wax does not reduce carbon emissions. If it did we could solve all our problems with a lump of burning lard.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Who's this Felicity character then?

If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart,
Absent thee from felicity a while.
(Hamlet, V, ii)

Friday, 27 March 2009


I am still in my pyjamas. "Still", as in, ever since I put 'em on twenty-two hours ago (before that I was in my karate get-up, and before that I was in my try-to-look-like-an-adult-for-work ensemble). I am still in my pyjamas because I have been working from home today, and given how much precious time I have had to spend watching Harriet lick Beatrice's ears, I really haven't had time to flex the old sartorial muscle.

I sent an email off to A Publisher a couple of weeks ago, wherein was the fancy title of a book I haven't yet written. He sounded interested, and invited me to smoosh together a short outline, and a bibliography, and a CV, and a sample chapter or two - by April. Which is - eep - only four more sleeps away, and believe you me, though I've been smooshing as well as I can, there's a lot to do. Also another lecture to write for Monday. How long is a "short outline" these days anyway? I wrote a sort of messy 5000 word version, and now I've turned it into a 1000 word version, and it's looking awful condensed.

Meanwhile, the young scholars have their first essay due on Monday, and I have been receiving emails, to wit:

Hi Dr Harlot,

i have just got a question regarding my sonnet essay, which is the margin. i read it was to be 4cm. is this on all sides, one side, ect... the reason i ask is that it seems a little excessive.

thanking you in advance

S. Student

Excellent point, S. Student. In these straitened times, there is no place for margin wastage.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Mobile drone

The cellular telephone really is the cherry on the top of the Coogee Bay Hotel gelato of capitalism. First of all they invent a little box that humanians have prospered without for several thousand years. Then they sell it to plumbers. Then they sell it to men in double-breasted Zegnas. Then they sell it to twelve-year-olds, and next thing you know it's a non-negotiable accoutrement of modern life. As if all this weren't bad enough, after two years the battery wears out. You take your box to the Telstra Shop at Northlandia and "Oh dear me," says the salesdude, "that's a really old model. We don't make batteries for that anymore." It's TWO BLINKING YEARS OLD, you say. THAT'S THE GESTATION PERIOD FOR AN ELEPHANT. You pop over to the electronics shop on the other side of Myer-den-of-iniquity to check whether Telstradude is just trying to make you buy a new phone, and DickSmithdude confirms, oh my word no, ha ha, oh no, you're not going to find a new battery for that old thing.

Grr, I say. Grr. I have a brand new mobile telephone, and the old one was JUST FINE. As phones go. Give or take the odd functioning battery.

The good news is:


And just in case you missed the fact that Harriet is cuddling Beatrice's rear leg:
Double aw.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Kitten news du jour

They have taken to sleeping UNDER THE WASHING MACHINE, the base of which is a full four centimetres from the tiled floor. They are the most singular pair of kittens, ever, I tell you.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

The wrath of Ceiling Cat must be appeaséd

I've been wanting to flood the world with photographs of my magnificent kittens, but thought it might get a bit tedious for the troops. As with exercisey people who go on and on and on and on about how many laps, in what time, with their how-steely triceps, and diety people with their how few inches, or buniony people with their tales of podiatric woe: everyone is interested, to a point, but beyond that point hearing me wax adoring about my kittens is as thrilling as an evening at home with a recording of the Telstra Yellow Pages Recited Live to a Studio Audience by Sol Trujillo.

But trusty ol' Ceiling Cat has given me permission, so here goes. I am kitten-fancier, hear me roar. Roar!

This is lovely Beatrice nesting in the drawer beneath my bookshelf. Could such an angelic animal possibly plunge her hindleg into a freshly deposited mound of kittenpoo and then gallop through the entire house leaving unspeakable gobbets in unreachable places? No. Surely not.

And this is the much beloved Harriet, who somehow managed to winkle her way inside my harp. That is how angelic she is. You can't see her halo, but only because I had to use the flash.

And here Beatrice has shown Harriet the special hidey place in the drawer. What astonishing kittens they are.

In other news, they had their first visit to the vet last week, a reasonably violating series of subcutaneous injections and thermometers up the rectum, sandwiched between two half hour walks in a basket (if someone could undangle my modifiers there, I'd be very grateful). The vet atoned by posting them each a rattly mouse, in separate envelopes addressed to Harriet Harlot and Beatrice Harlot. They now own four mouses between them. Please do not send mice.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Monday, 16 March 2009

Grapefruit, so called because it has all the energy content of a single grape

I had a grapefruit for breakfast today. A grapefruit. Apparently this is the kind of thing people have for breakfast. You know, healthy people in women's magazines, with cleansed livers. Also, my father, every day for a week, several years ago. Grapefruit had the advantage over toast, in that you didn't have to share it with the dog.

It is now two hours since "breakfast", and my stomach is imploding. If the students don't bring biscuits to our Rousseau seminar, I'm going to have to start drawing on my fat reserves, which could have untold effects on my gallant posterior. Anyone with carbohydrates to spare, I'm in room 507.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Would you take your incipient psychosis to this man?

Early last century, Henry Maudsley campaigned to make psychiatric treatment available to patients on a voluntary basis. So good for him. Well done, H. Nice work. Way to go. But frankly I'm more impressed by information just in: Henry Maudsley was born in the Parish of Giggleswick, grew up in Wigglesworth and Long Preston, the latter opposite Wigglesworth on the other side of the river Ribble. Giggleswick!

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

My prodigious kittens, variations on a theme

I just sat down to start work on a lecture for my first year scholarettes, on Hamlet and its discontents, and I'd gotten so far as "I have a book in my office", which is obviously not a line that will feature prominently in the lecture, but I was getting my typing head into gear, when who should leap aboard the keyboard but Harriet, kitten and Shakespearologist extraordinaire. And thus typed Harriet:

fffffffffffffffffffggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhh1``````q 3333

(transcribed verbatim from Microsoft Word document)

Having now solved literary studies, Harriet is practising her archaeology in the poo-tray.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

A good thing the world isn't run by kittens

It's International Women's Day today, and the feminist mind naturally turns to anarchosyndicalism, Olympic pole-dancing, and kittens. Because OH MY they're lovely, and if anyone's going to smash (whiskerise/ lick into shape/ scratching-postify) the state, what with its defence-budgeteering, globe-warming, sardine-commodifying ways, they are.

I emailed my friend Helen this week on matters film-going, and she emailed back on matters kitten-redistributing, and I emailed back ("I'd better think about it before I say yes") and then I emailed back again ("Yesyesyesyesyesyesyesyes") and yesterday I swung by Helenvillea, and came home with two new housemates:


and Beatrice

and Harriet

and Beatrice

whom you might happen to notice from the photos are pretty outrageously goshdarn gorgeous. Today they have had their first intestinal worming, learnt how to scale the armchair, spent 216 minutes attacking each other's ears, and 356 minutes asleep on top of each other's heads, and have excavated the litterbox and produced three triumphant poos each.

The only sadness has been Leonard, who came to the window twice today looking like Oliver Twist at his lowest ebb, and isn't allowed in until Bea and Harry have their vaccinations. I have a fantasy of Leonard appointing herself aunt in chief to these youngkers, teaching them how to scrounge free food from the hairdresser down the road, all the best stalking spots.

Naturally, I have been working on tomorrow's classes with undiminished concentration.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Live earthquake reportage!

There was an earthquake. Just then.

I used to think Melbourne was such a nice old town. It's gone and turned into the natural disaster capital of Australia. Cyclones? Bring 'em on.


How does a word like "multiplicitous" justify its existence?

Three cheers for second opinions

One day last September, a day considerably frostier than most of the days since, I ran myself a nice warm bath, in my nice pink bathtub, in anticipation of a nice old soak. I fetched my towel, I dispyjamed, I brushed my teeth, and when I'd accumulated myself a good-sized puddle, I dipped my testing toe into the water, just to make sure it wasn't going to scald my nethers. My testing toe is a sturdy digit, but nothing had prepared it for this: my bath wasn't going to be scalding anything; my bath was stark raving cold.

The hot water system at Chez Harlot was well and truly bung. It was kettle and bucket time. It was summons the hot water system servicepersons time. The hot water system serviceperson came three days later, during which period I had perfected my bucket-based bathing program. He told me that my system couldn't be fixed, that he couldn't install a similar beast because keeping a gas appliance in a cupboard (with a flue out the wall, I might add) was illegal, he'd have to do some fancy wiring and replumb and pin the new chap to the outside wall. Ten days later a quote arrived in the mail mentioning a figure very close to $3000.

Meanwhile, I had chucked all my pennies into my mortgage and found a source of hot showers at work. I had learnt that when it's very cold you generally don't have to wash as often, definitely not every day, and when it's warmer a cold shower isn't so bad. "Three thousand dollar hot water system," I said, "who needs you?" And over the next six months I grew more and more skilled in the taking of cold showers. There were a few weeks there in February when the Weather heated the pipes up so much the hot tap was redundant anyway.

This week's mizzle has reminded me that hot water has its place, so I summoned a different hot water person, who rode in on his shiny unicorn this morning, AND FIXED MY HOT WATER SYSTEM. For $130. He admitted that it's aging, and may become, at some point not too many years away, so temperamental that I want to replace it. $1660, he said, if I wanted to do it now. Illegal? No. It has a flue.

And the moral is: don't do today what you can put off for six months.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Contemporary French novelists

Michel Houellebecq
Marie Darrieussecq

And what do English letters (as opposed to French letters) have by way of winsome anterior consonants? Byatt. Winterson. Ishiguro doesn't even end in a consonant. Pah.