Tuesday, 31 December 2013

The Book of Future Creaivity

On the final day the residents continue with their seasonal celebrations. As the streets quieten, Rabbi Oud Ramonides approaches the roundabout with his shovel, and digs around until he finds the object of his quest. He removes the casket containing the Urim and Thummin, and takes it to his laboratorium where he cleanses the surface grime. Opening the scroll of the Book of Future Creaivity, he places the two golden cylinders on the diagram of 2014. This effectively repowers the Internet as a force for good.  Outside the gentle snow starts to scatter new year greetings, and the ciblog story ends.

Monday, 30 December 2013

Embroidery, Epigenetics, Crocheting and Taxidermy

On the day after the conflagration the residents of Seven Dials gather to view the results. The Convent of Theodora, and the premises of Madam Cosima’s Personal Services Agency are both completely destroyed. Remarkably Moudi’s, located between the two ashen sites, is relatively unharmed suffering only minor smoke damage. Hedre and Tabitha’s studio is also intact. Sister Veracitude and Madam Cosima meet to reconcile their differences, but the remaining nuns agree to move out to Little Porrit where they will join the Cruxicogentian Retreat. Meanwhile Cosima’s young ladies all decide to take up morally improved careers (embroidery, epigenetics, crocheting and taxidermy).

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Conflict - back to normality

The seasonal festivities are interrupted by increased conflict between convent and brothel.  No-one witnesses the start of the arson attack, and no-one claims responsibility, so it is never determined who has perpetrated this invidious crime. Some claim it was an accident resulting from the abbreviated five minute performance of Gotterdammerung by the Old Chapel Musical Ensemble at the start of the abortive second opening ceremony of the Seven Dials Roundabout. All the fire-fighting efforts are focused on extinguishing the flames that are threatening the Great Elm tree, so no-one notices as both the Convent and the Brothel are consumed in flames.

Friday, 27 December 2013

A week's holiday in Menorca

McGonagall’s Writer’s Café is full of scribblers attempting to beat the ‘Write a Novel in One and a half hours’ challenge sponsored by Plover’s Stationers. Competitors must use only paper and pencils purchased from the sponsor. The prize is a packet of blue index cards, but it is the sense of achievement that counts. Ahmed is fed up with his rival, and issues a ‘Write a Ph.D. thesis in two hours’ challenge. For a prize he offers a week’s holiday in Menorca. However as fares are not included, and accommodation is in an army surplus frame tent, few people are tempted.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Under the weather

Yevgeny Huxtable is playing the piano transcription of Liszt's symphonic poem Prometheus at the Old Chapel Boxing Day musical lunch, when he suddenly falls ill with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. He is overwhelmed with a stabbing headache, muscle aches, and paresthesia. The doctor who attends him takes one look at the plates of trigger fish on the tables, and the nervous faces of the audience, and declares a local epidemic of ciguatera poisoning. He is fortunately mistaken as Huxtable is a notorious hyperchondriac, and is merely suffering a regular hangover. Ciguatera is caused by a toxin which affects the nervous system.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Winterval dinners

Sister Porigamy breaks her vow of silence, and stands at the roundabout waving the flag of the Moral Crusaders of Chastity. ‘I’m calling a spade a spade,’ she declares to the empty streets, as the residents of Seven Dials sit down to their warming Winterval Dinners of braised tofu and sprouts. ‘The Personal Services Agency is nothing more than a sordid brothel!’ Concerned, the pragmatic Sister O’Higgins brings her a chalice of mulled brandy and tempts her back indoors, before cycling across the hills to visit her brother, Spartacus, for a traditional turkey and stuffing platter while they watch the Queen.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

The Rabbi’s quest on Christmas Eve

On Christmas eve, Rabbi Oud Ramonides visits the local Great Elm Preservation Society, and discovers a pile of dusty texts. With the help of Rev. Lanzarotte he ascertains that the Seven Dials roundabout was built on the intersection of two lay lines. This has to be the location of the camphorwood casket containing the Urim and Thummin which would have been buried here in the fourth century (after the mediterranean earthquake) on the Tuesday after the Romans left. He scuttles along to the roundabout where he hears strange emanations from the Christmas Tree – eerie sounds of meditating wildebeest singing Christmas carols.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

The Central Devir of the Web

Whilst the daily altercations between Madam Cosima’s ladies and Sister Veracitude’s nuns continue, Rabbi Oud Ramonides presses on with his mediation. Their intransigence however finally defeats him and in frustration he flings his sonic monkey wrench into the air. It hits his iPad and activates the Arucharian program he has been working on. This generates a password that worms its way into the central devir of the Web. Suddenly the inner workings of the Internet are revealed, and show beyond doubt that it is not a distributed system, but centrally controlled by the very Urim and Thummim that Ramonides is seeking. 

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Cleromantic objects rediscovered

Rabbi Oud Ramonides has always known about the Urim and Thummim - האורים והתומים - the cleromantic objects used in the First Temple, and long thought to be used for divination. The Talmudic view (despite Josephus) is that they were lost when the Babylonians sacked the Temple. However from his dusty scrolls Ramonides has discovered that they were safely carried into exile, and thereafter moved around the area of the Caspian Sea in a camphorwood casket, until they reached Daşoguz in Turkmenistan. During the 365 AD earthquake they floated across the Mediterranean, and round Gibraltar to the South Coast of England.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Trailing the end

As part of the seasonal festivities, Moudi's and McGonagall’s join forces to serve mulled Guinness to the queues outside the literary event  at the Yifitsin Print Bookshop where Samuel Quinine has arranged a  massive book-signing for the publication of Ophelia Hedre’s new novel ‘Barely Kedgeree’. Meanwhile Rabbi Oud Ramonides has realised that he only need the Convoluted Space-Time equation in order to find the exact location of the holy object of his lifetime quest. He consults his Theoretical Arucharian mentor, Demon Baal, who has just flown in (from New Caledonia) for another delayed celebratory re-opening of the new Seven Dials Roundabout.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

The iPad of Oud Ramonides

In the cold rain Rabbi Oud Ramonides is again wandering around the newly completed Seven Dials Roundabout. And not without reason. His study of the Kabbalah has pointed to one thing. The object of his life's quest is hereabouts. He is not sure where, or how it reached here, but he is certain beyond belief (yes, even Ramonides himself would say 'beyond belief'). Curiously he has with him, his iPad, for he has discovered something about the Internet that will throw all belief into doubt, and all doubt into belief. He must now fit together the final pieces of the puzzle.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Björk's first full-length remix album

Malviolio Claxendell, in his annual history lecture, praises the humble telegram. Without it Germany would have won the First World War (no Zimmermann telegram), Gershwin's first jazz opera, Blue Monday, would have had no plot (so no Rhapsody in Blue), and Dr. Crippen would probably have lived into his eighties. More curiously, no-one would have found amongst the belongings of Emperor Norton the First of the United States the telegram from Emperor Alexander II of Russia, congratulating him on his secret wedding to Queen Victoria. After declaring himself Emperor, Joshua Abraham Norton, a frustrated businessman, abolished the US Congress in 1859. 

Friday, 13 December 2013

The Kocibey File

When Khan Hacı I Giray of Crimea (1441–1466) was threatened by the Golden Horde, he agreed to cede the town of Kocibey to Lithuania. Many years later, after it was conquered by Russian forces in 1789, Catherine the Great rebuilt it as a port-city, and renamed it Odessa. Maksim Chmerkovskiy, professional ballroom & Latin dancer on ‘American Dancing With the Stars’ and Ze'ev Jabotinsky ( זאב ז'בוטינסקי‎ ) the leading right-wing Revisionist Zionist leader were both born there. Today Yevgen Huxtable, on his winter cruise, is in Odessa visiting the Stolyarsky Music School where he studied as a child prodigy.  

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

The Construction Industry

Parmenides knew what was what. Or at least he thought he did. If, in reality, he knew (and commas might be important here) was another question, (and whether Donald Rumsfeld was a follower of Parmenides is a matter of opinion). These were the issues that were swirling through the mind of Rabbi Oud Ramonides as he tried to mediate between the increasingly violent sisters of the Cruxicogentes Convent of Theodora, and the Personal Services’ Workers employed by Madam Cosima next door. Now however the whole community has taken sides, dividing Frab and Felix, Hedre and Tabitha, and even Marx and Spender.

Monday, 9 December 2013

After the Winterval, it will be the Estival Festival

The question is, what can be done to avoid the strife at Seven Dials? Ton Purdue stands at the gate and sighs. He is trying to think creatively, and wonders if a Joint Symposium of Friendship at the Old Chapel Arts Centre would work. He contacts junior representatives of the brothel and the convent. Rosetta agrees to speak, and Sister Porigamy (who has taken a vow of silence) will sign. However a dispute arises as the hall is booked for a planning meeting of the Aestival Festival Committee, and anyway no-one can interpret Porigamy’s idiosyncratic Lapslan (a Northern Sign Language Dialect).

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Things happen.

According to Sister Veracitude, Richard the Second was a much maligned monarch, as libelled by Shakespeare as Richard the Third. His marriage to Anne of Bohemia (daughter of the most cultured of Holy Roman Emperors) was considered an ill-omen when, on her arrival in England, her ship was smashed in a storm. The marriage was intimately bound up with the struggle between the two Popes, a conflict as uncomfortable as that now erupting between the convent and the brothel in Seven Dials. However the marriage became a love match;  it was only after Anne’s death that Richard went off the rails.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Seven minutes too long.

Sadly, it can not be ignored. A full scale civil war has broken out in Seven Dials.  Ahmed is in despair, sandwiched as he is between the convent and the brothel. The nuns picket Madam Cosima's, and a pitched battle ensues, spreading over into the McGonagall's Writers Cafe, which is wrecked. The police cordon off a huge swathe of Brighton-Hove with billowing ribbons and flashing blue lights. The festive reopening of the roundabout has to be postponed, whilst the five hour outdoor performance of Wagner's Parsifal (in St. Scruple's graveyard) is shortened to seven minutes for logistical reasons.  Tant pis!

Friday, 6 December 2013

The mystical experience (ichthyological)

Dubysa ichthyological reserve was established in 1974 to protect valuable fish spawning areas. The River Dubysa, at 131 km, is the 15th longest river in Lithuania, originating near Šiauliai city, which is the fourth largest city in Lithuania. In 1929, Tom Purdue’s grandmother, who was born in Šiauliai, claimed to have walked on foot from her family home to Vilnius (then in Poland) in order to find her errant husband. It was a journey of 250 kilometres. When Hedre was young she often told him stories of that journey (though in fact she took the train - a four hour journey).

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Gossip from Zangwill's Bazaar

Cortally Bakewell is an Ungrowth enthusiast. His ancestor, Isaac Singer, was famous for inventing sewing machines (rather than writing Yiddish books) and one of Singer's many sons was the lover of Isadora Duncan, and father of one her two tragic children. The father of the other was Gordon Craig, son of actress Ellen Terry, who married the artist, George Frederick Watts. That marriage didn’t work out (30 years age difference), but he later married Mary Tytler (33 years age gap) and they eagerly embraced the Arts and Crafts Movement. They would undoubtedly have approved of the current Decroissance movement in Europe. 

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Appalachian Snoring (edited by Augustus Albi)

Sister Perfectry grows medicinal herbs in the convent garden, and consults the 1721 edition of the London Pharmacopoeia (the one which omitted many of the earlier remedies, though it did include important ones such as dogs’ excrement, earthworms, and moss from the human skull. This was the edition that introduced botanical names). Perfectry is also guided by the works of early edaphologists such as Xenophon and Cato, and is constantly urging her cousins in the Appalachian mountains to send her (in plain wrapping of course) packets of Ultramafic soils. These are perfect for the herbs from which she brews her tinctures.

Monday, 2 December 2013

I've got other things on my mind.

When the gods looked down from Mount Olympus and saw the goings on at Seven Dials they shook their theocratic heads. ‘So it’s come to this,’ they tutted. ‘Convent and brothel at war with each other! What has the world come to?’
True, Jove himself was more sceptical, but then he had seen more of life than many. Anyway, his concern for Nigella was preoccupying him at that moment, and all that bother in Rechov Hayarkon didn’t help.
The muddy waters that flowed through the blocked sewers around the Great Elm reflected the mood of many ‘Why take it to heart?’