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couchspudprotem Below are the 10 most recent journal entries recorded in the "couchspudprotem" journal:

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June 9th, 2014
08:13 pm


An end?
I think I am coming to an end of this journal.  Livejournal has been a good friend over the years, but I keep finding I'm locked out and - after several failed attempts to keep a continuing blog - I would rather signpost you to a new site than find I'm suddenly permanently locked out and have lost track of where you all are.

So I am now blogging over at a wordpress site with my name in it.  I used to own the wendybradley.com domain name and then it was briefly bagged by a claim jumper and I now own it again and am in the process of setting up a website with links to the blog and to the tax blog I run at tiintax.com.  (Runs around the room with hands clasped to the side of her face, in the manner of Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone.  Help me!)

You could, if you like, wander over there now and read my review of the RA Summer exhibition.  Or not.  But, you know where I am.

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April 17th, 2014
07:41 pm


I am going, tomorrow, to Glasgow for Eastercon, thanks to a late decision and the kindness of carl_allery in arranging so efficiently for me to buy his membership and hotel room.  If you know me, please come and say hello, but be warned I am often overwhelmed by conventions so I may be hiding in my hotel room.  This doesn't mean I want to hide in my hotel room, necessarily, but perhaps just means I can't cope with the en masse and would like a quiet chat with one or two people.  I'm not aloof, I'm that kind of shyness that projects as protective arrogance, honest!

I can't give you a programme schedule because I don't have one - having decided to go much too late in the piece to be scheduled, although I've put my name down for emergency stand in.  And the one time they DID call on me to fill a gap, would you believe, was when I've arranged to meet some non-fan friends from Edinburgh while I happen to be in the neighbourhood...

But if anyone knows a source of the mythical deep fried Mars Bar... I've given up chocolate for Lent, but Sunday - I'm in!

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April 12th, 2014
10:41 am


Doctor Who, now?
Over on Making Light, I saw a link to this, a twitter discussion of a Doctor Who website listing of the writers and directors for the next series, noting they're all male.

Now, in my youth I was a TV critic (and was once personally called a Stalinist by David Mellor when the Fawcett Society were lobbying him to include equal representation for women in the 1990 Broadcasting Act) and one of the things I have always advocated is complaining to the BBC.  They have well-oiled procedures for logging and handling complaints, and - while you won't always (or even often) get what you want - your views will reach the people who actually make the programmes, via a daily digest of complaints and calls.

So I followed my own advice and filled in the BBC's online complaint form, asking (1) whether the story was true and (2) saying that, if so, I wasn't happy with the lack of gender parity.

Apparently the BBC - who produce the BBC programme Doctor Who - aren't privy to the details of who they are going to employ to make their programmes...

Because this is the response I had.  Blood pressure alert: it made me angry.  If you have an exploding head, be prepared to lose it.

Dear Ms Bradley

Reference CAS-2650517-BR2VKY

Thanks for contacting us regarding BBC One’s ‘Doctor Who’ as broadcast on 23 September.

I understand you believe the writing and directing line up for the upcoming series will be entirely male and you feel we should do more to address such an gender imbalance in our choice of writers.

At present the eighth series of the programme is in production and the details around the programme are closely guarded so we have access to limited information and are unable to address your complaint at present. Once the programme is due to be broadcast, the information about the individual episodes will be published on the programme’s episode web pages.

Nevertheless your views are important to us and we welcome feedback from our audience to help us create enjoyable programming for all. I’d like to assure you that I’ve registered your comments on our audience log. This is the internal report of audience feedback that’s compiled daily and made available for all BBC staff including the team responsible for ‘Doctor Who’.

Our audience logs are very important documents that are used on a daily basis throughout the BBC and can help shape decisions about future programming and content.

Thanks again for taking the time to contact us.

Kind Regards

[name redacted]

BBC Complaints


NB This is sent from an outgoing account only which is not monitored. You cannot reply to this email address but if necessary please contact us via our webform quoting any case number we provided.

So there we have it.  I encourage you to fill in the complaints form yourself and make it clear that it's not just me.  Diversity is about noticing if your search for "the best man for the job" produces a one note response.  And then doing something about it.

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March 3rd, 2014
08:22 am


Six thoughts to have before posting on social media. For absolutely no reason.
1. Just because something doesn't affect me, that doesn't mean it doesn't happen.
2. Just because I like a thing, that doesn't mean anyone who loathes the same thing is wrong, stupid or evil
3. Just because I have Strong Opinions about a thing, that doesn't mean the thing is all about me.
4. Just because Someone Is Wrong On The Internet doesn't mean it's my responsibility to put them right.
5. Just because I know everything, that doesn't necessarily mean you know nothing.
6. Just because I am always right, that doesn't mean you are necessarily wrong. On this occasion. I suppose.

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January 16th, 2014
08:26 pm


Theinterminablehobbit Part two
So.  I went to see the Hobbit movie.  Yes, I know I'm the last person in the universe to see it.  I could tell when I went into the cinema and they told me I was the ONLY person going to see it.  So I sat in solitary splendour in the auditorium, thinking, get on with it then!  And then an usher came in and turned the lights on and told me I was sitting in cinema 5 and the Hobbit was in cinema 9 and it had "just started".

Turned out I was STILL the only person with a ticket for that performance.  There was a certain amount of unpleasantness (Six members of staff?  SIX?  Sitting around misdirecting people to the wrong auditorium???  Although fair play to them for noticing their Hobbit audience was down from 1 to, ahem, zero, and then actually going and looking for me)  The duty manager was found.  I explained what had happened and that there seemed to me to be two alternatives: give me my money back or start the film again.

Fortunately she had a brain, and anyway with digital film you can just press the button.  So I sat in solitary splendour in my rented 3D specs and watched the whole thing from the beginning.

Dear heaven but it was tedious!  I mean, the first episode was tedious enough on its own, right, but this... this... even Benedict Cumberbatch couldn't save this.  It lasted twenty seven years!  My hair was thirteen inches longer when I emerged, blinking, into the light.  I had lost four whole pounds!

The smurfette problem.

See, Tolkein didn't write any women into The Hobbit.  He was old-school Oxbridge, the kind of person who would argue with you that "who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven" actually includes everyone because "men" includes "women", it's a neutral term.  And it works, sort of, when you're a kid.  When you're a kid you read The Hobbit and you don't notice there aren't any guuuurls in it, because you're busy being Bilbo and he's a hobbit, not a boy anyway, and it slides past you in the kind of "the world is sexist but it's not actually grinding my nose into the sexism just now so I'm not thinking about it" default position.  If you're a, you know, (woman).

So then you write in Tauriel, who's a newly-minted kick-ass she-elf (and oh how everyone keeps reminding us she's a she-elf.  And not, say, a kick-ass elf.  Or just, elf)  And she sticks out like a sore thumb, or like smurfette in the smurfs.  And makes you come out of the default position and go WHERE THE FUCK ARE ALL THE WOMEN?????  Sigh.

The dragon problem

It's a dragon.  It's a fire-breathing dragon.  Its chest glows like molten lava as it superheats its breath before it launches a fiery stream of, um, fire at your ass.

You're going to kill it by setting it on fire???

Oh you little rascals, you!

The Dumbledore Gandalf problem

OK, you're Gandalf.  We know you're not going to get dead, because, sequels.  We like the Globe of Light that fights off the Special Effect of Darkness.  But... did you have to take so LONG about it?  I mean, it's not enough that we're questing through spiders, and questing through elven dungeons, and questing through the barrel ride of themepark heaven, and questing through the town of people (oh, and TWO LITTLE GIRLS, because, PERIL!!!), and questing over mountains, and questing under mountains full of gold and dragons... we ALSO have to wait around while you side-quest into backstory and foreshadowing story and sideways wizardsplaining and will you JUST HURRY UP AND SHOOT THE DAMNED DRAGON ALREADY.


The ending problem

You're going to leave it there? Not since The Empire Strikes Back has there been a movie with a more irrit-


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November 27th, 2013
08:26 pm


Darrell and the Archers
Those of you who follow The Archers will know that there's a storyline at the moment about a character called Darrell who has lost his job and his home and is now spiralling downwards into crisis with mental health issues.

Those of you who follow me on twitter will know that on Sunday mornings I tend to tweet extensively with the hashtag #thearchers, along with a number of other people who listen to the programme on weekly catch-up and tweet sarcastically and amusingly about the characters and plotlines.

However... The Archers the programme and the Archer Project, the homelessness charity, have an obvious connection for me through this storyline, and I started getting annoyed at the impatient tweets.  So I said:

And it got re-tweeted a few times, sometimes with an endorsement and a request that people join in, and then I thought, oops, I'm asking other people to donate and I haven't done myself, so I went over to the Archer Project's just giving page and bunged them a fiver.  And then the writer Michael Moran, who has fifteen thousand plus twitter followers, also retweeted it.

Not exactly viral on the Justin Bieber scale but not a bad old result for a quick tweet on a Sunday morning.

So then I went back to the Archer Project page to see how much money the archer tweet along had raised since my fiver...

…Zero.  Zip.  Nada.

Sigh.  So much for the awesome power of social media!

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September 30th, 2013
07:35 pm


I was getting all excited at the thought of building myself a bitcoin mining rig and then sitting back and enjoying all my free money.

And then I realised I didn't know what a bitcoin was, how you mine them, how you turn them into spendable money, or indeed the meanings of more than half the words in the article that started me off on the train of thought.

Ah well.  Back to writing the next Harry Potter.

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August 31st, 2013
10:14 am


It shouldn't be hard.  I mean, I'm retired and all, remember?  The tasks I have set myself are to write some words of fiction (however few) each day, answer tax consultations on my tiintax blog, and read a chapter or an article from my academic reading list every other day.  It's maybe three hours of work I'm not completing.  Where DOES the day go?

Not on my tai chi class (I haven't taken any proper exercise all summer, but I'm determined to start back next week, honest).

I suppose I have been working on My First Academic Paper (which I'm going to deliver at a proper academic conference in a fortnight - eep!).

I have written an unfinished, 11-episode-and-counting, dark!gregor, Vorkosigan fanfic of nine and a half thousand words and counting, I suppose.

Oh, and today I'm going on a glass jewellery making workshop.

I think I'm going to start keeping some kind of scorecard - words written, submissions made, blog entries published, articles/chapters read and exercise taken.

Sigh.  If only I knew how to insert tables in blog entries I'd actually publish it, so you could do some collective arse-kicking.

Maybe I need to add "learning how to work my tech" to the list?

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August 23rd, 2013
05:29 pm


Cherries Tremontaine
Ellen Kushner is running a competition here tied to the launch of the audiobook of The Fall of the Kings.  She asks for recipes set in the Riverside world of the books and, as they're my favourites, I thought I'd have a go.  Here, then, is the recipe for Cherries Tremontaine:

Take some stale leftover cake (or a packet of trifle sponges) and a cup of stolen cherries (or a can of cherry pie filling if you prefer) and mix them together in a big stoneware dish.  Include some cherry brandy or brandy if you have any lying around that Alex hasn't finished.  That's your base.

Then break three eggs and separate out the yolks and the whites.  Keep the whites in a clean bowl while you do the next bit.

Break the yolks and mix them with a little sugar (about two ounces) and a little vanilla essence or the scrapings of a vanilla pod, if you have them.  Then warm about a pint of milk in a pan and slowly mix it into the eggs, (adding a little cornflour if the mixture curdles)  When the warm milk and eggs are mixed together, heat them gently in the pan till you have a smooth custard.  Pour it over the base.

Finally you'll need a pair of strong wrists and a big fork (or an electric mixer) to beat the egg whites - remember them? - till they stand up in stiff peaks.  When they're stiff and twice the volume they were, gently spoon in a final ounce of sugar if you still have some, and then spread the meringue mixture on top of the custard.

Bake in the oven on a low heat till the meringue is crisp.  It isn't going to be dry and white and boring but brown and chewy; the custard will be hot and sweet and the brandied cherries will warm your bones.


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July 31st, 2013
08:10 pm


Write-a-thon final week
Just a quick note to say that I'm still writing - the productivity isn't enormous, and there was that Weekend of Which We Do Not Speak when I, er, forgot, but otherwise there have been words every day.  A couple of thousand words a week doesn't sound like much, but it's a couple of thousand words a week more fiction than I've been writing for the past few months.  Yay me!
One last pimpage, in case you felt moved to contribute: http://www.clarionwest.org/writeathon/wendybradley
And now back to your regularly scheduled programming!

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