Wednesday, January 30, 2008

NOT a wedding post

This one's titled "Why I have the most awesomest academic supervisor in the UNIVERSE"

or "The Ostrich Effect"

I had a meeting with The Putt today. I haven't done fuck all work for months. I am behind.

I am so far behind that I'd even begun ignoring his emails. I kept telling myself "as soon as I have this awesome piece of work to show, I'll go pop in to his office." I didn't want to go in without work to show, because then he would know i'd been slacking off, but if I went in with another 20k words, all would be well.

But of course one can't write 20k words in a weekend. And so i didn't go. And kept falling further and further behind. Like a pile of dirty dishes in the sink that spills over on to the counter, you eventually think "I don't even know where to begin," and close the kitchen door. That's what I'd done on my PhD work for the past several months. Not. Good.

Finally The Putt phoned and ordered my ass into his office. Tail between legs, I went. I am sooooo glad I did. The man is wonderful.

He was grinning, and I could tell by his grin that a) he wasn't as disappointed in me as i'd feared (anger i could deal with, but letting down someone you respect the absolute worst), and b) he knew exactly what had been going through my head.

Through tearful sniffles I explained how embarassed and ashamed I was. He ordered me to stop feeling embarassed and said, "You're going to sit there and I'm going to fix you a cup of tea." Being a very gentle sort, it was incredibly comical how forcefully he said that. I couldn't help but crack a weak smile.

And then we talked business. My punishment is going to be to do some of the dirty work on his latest research. Fair enough. He's been exploring an idea in relation to alliterative verse, and he wants to see if it holds true in the more continental style of Chaucerian verse. Chaucer's Bitch to the rescue!

Oh, and I told him about the wedding and explained that wedding plans had been partly to blame for my absenteeism. His response? "That's wonderful! Getting married is far more important than a PhD, but as your supervisor I'm not allowed to tell you that. But I'm glad you've got your priorities in order. Also solves the visa problem if you need an extension. Good on ya!"

What a guy, what a guy, what a guy.

Cultural differences

The cultural differences between the US and the UK never cease to surprise me. I really didn't think there would be significant differences between wedding customs. (To be fair, this is a result of my own cultural egotism, whereby I just assume everyone does things the same way I do, because obviously that is the best way to do them. I mean, duh!)

The things I have heard about weddings here in the UK, for the most part, shock and horrify me. Luckily for me, they also shock and horrify the Pirate. He loathes, as I do, the whole commercial industry that has sprung up around weddings, so we're both keen to keep things as simple as possible.

We did want to have a nice reception in a pub somewhere, where people could gather, share a tasty meal, tell us how great we look, and call it a night. But we have a rather large guest list (over a hundred and growing) and we couldn't find a pub that could accommodate more than 80. Deciding that the people were more important than that decor, we've opted to keep the huge guest list and have the reception in the banquet room of a big, corporate hotel. What it lacks in ambiance it makes up for in convenience.

So here's how it's going to be:

Ceremony at 3 pm on a Friday afternoon in September. We will have a choir, and organ, and brass quartet, and the volume and joy of the music will blow the roof right off the medieval church.

Upon leaving the church we will depart through an archway of swords (Pirate's friends all carry swords, naturally) and oars. It might be a little goofy, but it's us. And hey, they're all blades, right?

The guests will wander across the street to the hotel where they will have drinks and canapes in the bar while my husband and I (!!!) have loads of pictures taken with family and blade-bearers.

About 5 pm or thereabouts we will wander in to the banquet room. Dinner will be served in three courses. (NO buffit.) The cake will be the desert, because that's what the fucking thing is FOR. It will taste good, because I will bake it.any of the English guests are annoyed at not getting a second dessert, that's their fucking problem. It will be decorated with fresh, edible flowers.

Somewhere in there there will be some toasts raised. Pirate's father will drone on at length. Mine will be bashful, tear up, and sit down as quickly as possible.

There will be a dance floor. There will be a DJ (one of Pirate's friends). He will play the music that we specify, and if the Macarena or Chicken Dance come on at any point in the evening, I will break both his legs. (And don't think for a minute that I can't or won't.) People will dance or sit and talk as they deem most fun. The DJ will close up shop at midnight, and that will be the end of it. Period.

There will be wine on the tables at dinner, and we will provide something bubbly for toasts (and non-alchy for the fair number of tea-totalers in the crowd, probably Appletizer). But the bar afterward will be a cash bar. Booze is just too expensive, and my parents are already effectively paying for this twice what with the exchange rate and all, AND they're throwing a second reception back in the states for the Yanks who can't come over, so.... no free bar after dinner, and that's just how it's going to have to be.

It will be fun, it will be simple, it will not get out of hand, and it will keep the focus where it belongs -- on the wedding.

Bloggers are welcome to come to the ceremony (I'll give more details later), but for obvious reasons I can't invite y'all along to the reception as well.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

We Have Lift-off!

Finally some decisions have been made. Yay! I had an amazingly productive day. I...

  • confirmed the date, booked the church, and sent the deposit
  • confirmed the date and booked the hotel for the reception
  • further refined the menu with the chef
  • canceled the other venues that were doing things for me
  • spoke with the reverend at the parish where i am resident about having the banns read (we're getting married in a parish where neither of us is resident, which makes things tricky)
  • got a final guest list from the in-laws
  • got addresses to send out Save the Date cards
  • purchased the Save the Date cards
  • and the address labels to go with them
  • and post cards with pretty photos of Bristol to put inside them
  • and ribbon to wrap the gift of the reception we're going to on Saturday
  • went to a lecture
  • talked on the phone with my mom for an hour
  • met with one of my bridesmaids about dress fittings
  • picked up the first bits of my dress from the dressmaker, which will be sent home to mom who will do the embroidery
  • sorted out all the flower arrangements for the church
  • contacted the organist about music
  • went to a boat club meeting
  • ate a lemon drizzle cake
  • and a pan of stir-fried veggies with coconut, ginger, and basil sauce

whew. i feel better. (about everything except my degree.*)

don't worry, this will be the last post about wedding shenannigans for a while. maybe.

*yes I know it's ultimately more important, but there are other things that need to be done more immediately. christ, you sound like my mother.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Does this look normal to you?

I have discovered, in my on-going wedding planning frenzy, that it appears to be normal over here to get married at about 10 am, have giant, 3-course wedding breakfast at lunch time (so why they call it 'breakfast' i surely do not know), and then have a full-on buffet dinner in the evening with dancing, etc., thus making the wedding an all-day affair that lasts from 9:30 a.m. (realistically, when people start showing up) to midnight or later. That's a 14+ hour party, people. Fucking 14 hours!!!

This seems to be the norm because whenever I ask for prices for food the venues all hand me a figure in the range of 45-70 pounds per person, and they automatically include the 3-course wedding breakfast and the "disco buffet" for the evening. Who does this??? I have never in my life heard of such a thing.

In the states if you have a morning wedding you have an afternoon reception and everyone goes home at 6 pm. This is much more sensible. They don't hang around until midnight getting drunk and expecting to be fed again like some kind of spoiled zoo animal.

I have been having a very hard time getting any place to quote me a per-head price for
  • a starter
  • a main course

period. no buffet. no dessert. why would anyone have dessert at their wedding? That's what the bleeding CAKE is for!

argh. you people are weird.

oh, and is it normal to not offer your guests a choice of main course for the dinner? every formal party i've been to in the UK (and i've been to a few, what with office xmas dos and all Pirate's formal stuff), and every time the invitation has included a dinner card to send back with my menu selections. But they tell me that at weddings everyone is normally served the same thing! Really? Or am I being scammed?

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Here's a question for you:

When you have single friends on your wedding guest list, do you invite them to bring along a guest?

In America you absolutely would, and to invite an unmarried person and not give them the option to bring a date would be considered extremely rude, though it does happen.

Here, though, Pirate tells me that that is not normal, and single people usually do not bring dates to weddings. Case in point: when his cousin got married late last summer I was not invited, not did Pirate's invitation read "To Pirate and Guest," even though I'd met the family and everything.

Obviously not letting singles bring dates really helps keep the guest list down, but it seems rude to me. What do you guys think? What's the normal etiquette and protocol over here?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Wedding Streeeeessssssssssssss!!!

People simply won't give me the information I need!

I haven't been able to finalize the date because
I can't book a reception hall because
They won't give me the price quotes I asked for AND
I don't know how many people are coming because
Neither my fiance' NOR his family will type up a fucking GUEST LIST!!!

So I've done nothing but make wedding plans for over a month and still not a SINGLE THING IS PLANNED BECAUSE PEOPLE WON'T ANSWER MY QUESTIONS OR GIVE ME ANY FUCKING INFORMATION!!!!

I want to elope.

Monday, January 21, 2008


Pirate has just discovered that he is a direct descendant of William the Conquerer through his mother's side. Which means he isn't really English; he's French! Hahahahaha!

LC doesn't love me anymore

Apparently I'm too honest and sane to hang out with the Liars and Lunatics.


*blows nose into soppy, used tissue*

*wipes face on sleeve*

Sunday, January 20, 2008


John McCain will be the Republican nominee for president.

(This is not a good thing. He might actually get elected president. I'd be happier if it looked like Fuckabee or Ram-me was going to be the nominee, because they'd be easier to defeat in the general.)

As soon as I've figured out who the Democratic nominee will be, I'll let you know.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Cutlasses crossed

Pirate is out defending his Championship Piratey Title this weekend against a bunch of young upstarts who think they can buckle their swashes better than he. Pfft. Whatever. (But keep your cutlasses crossed, just in case.)

*Wrock!* Polly wants a trophy!

UPDATE: Damn. Pirate came in second. He had some moments that were nothing short of brilliant, but they were punctuated by brief spells of muppetry which were enough to cost him the Title. Bah. We'll get it back next year. (Having to fork over the trophy is going to be painful.)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Nice things

Last night I went to a meeting in a pub, where I got to snorgle the pub cat. Named Moose. Big fat marmalade thing.*

I was petting him over by the bar when he got up and left abruptly. "Oh well," thought I. Imagine my delight when I collected my drink and went back to my seat and found Moose making biscuits on my coat. Yay! He settled in and stayed with me the whole evening. Yay for pub cats.

Here's a photo me making a scale model of Stonehenge for Pirate's model railroad:

*Why are marmalade cat always fat???

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Why Philip Pullman should be SHOT,

or at the very least have all his fingers lopped off with bolt cutters so he can never write another godawful fucking horrible awful book again.

I don't have enough bad things to say about His Dark Materials, and very few good things to say about it.

(Warning: Spoilers Ahead)

After everyone told me how great they are, and given my general taste in reading, I fully expected to enjoy them. Expected it so much that I even splashed out and bought nice editions of all three books at one go, with sturdy acid-free paper and everything so they would last and be wonderful treasures on my book shelf that one day my kids could read. Really, I did.

My kids will never read these books. Not until they're at least 30.

Are you getting the sense that I didn't like them?

Minor, run-of-the-mill criticisms include trivialities such as:
  • the main character wasn't terribly likeable or sympathetic
  • in fact, most of the human characters were complete cunts (except for Lee Scoresby, who gets killed for the very reason that he's the only decent dude therein, and in Pullman's world we kill off all the nice characters just make sure you cry that little bit extra)
  • The plot wasn't tied together very well at the end. You read and read and read looking to see how it all connects, and there's this never-ending section of crap to slog through that isn't really relevant, and then one character shows up on the last page and explains everything in 4 sentences. Not the best story-telling in the world.
  • Several key things never get explained (like how the knife came into being), and are just left dangling
  • they weren't nearly as anti-religion as I had been led to believe
But my biggest, single, number one criticism is this:


When it comes to frightening children, Pullman makes Walt Disney look like Mother fucking Theresa.

Now I don't have a problem with a bit of scary stuff and suspense. You need conflict to create drama, and you need drama to make it worth reading, otherwise it's all a bunch of Dick and Jane crap. But there's a line.

Harry Potter is not the be-all and end-all of kids' adventure fiction, far from it, but for the purposes of comparing His Dark Materials with magical adventure fantasy fiction aimed at a similar age group it will suit well enough.

In Harry Potter there is a thing called a Dementor. It's a scary being that sucks people's souls out through their mouths. That's creepy. It's a fate worse than death. In His Dark Materials there's a thing called a Specter. It attacks adults and eats their consciousness effectively making them zombies. Same concept, really. The difference is that JK Rowling doesn't graphically describe scenes where a father is attacked by a dementor, but while fleeing has carried his 3-year-old son into a river, who is then dropped into said river as father becomes a zombie, and flops about, drowning, screaming, crying, begging his father to pick him up. Dad ingores the kid. Mentally, he's gone. Baby is drowning in river at his feet.

It's sick.

It's incredibly sick.

Pullman's brand of terror happens to be the one that pushes my buttons the most. It's not blood and guts and brains being spattered about. Most kids don't find that stuff scary, and neither do I. What terrifies me is separation. I had wicked separation anxiety as a kid, and still struggle with it from time to time. This was triggered by a traumatic event that happened when I was 2 or 3, where I thought my mom was being taken from me forever. What Pullman does is to think of every kind of painful separation -- physical, emotional, spiritual, whatever -- and then throw it at you, over and over again in waves, in every conceivable permutation: children being separated from parents, friends from friends, people from daemons (souls), you name it, he takes it away.

I'm still angry at Pullman because I can't get these images out of my head. I wanted some light reading for the holidays. I chose some "children's" literature that had been recommended to me by several people whose judgement I generally trust. Damn near ruined my Christmas. I spent every day in tears, shaking with terror.

The only reason I read all three was that by the end of the first book, if I had stopped, it would have been like turning off a horror movie at the scariest part, which I know is the worst thing you can. You have to watch to the end so you can see everything comes out OK eventually. That was the one and only reason I kept reading.

I still have every book I've ever owned. When I read a book, I keep it (unless it's a library book, obv). These are the first ever books I've deliberately gotten rid of. When I got back from Pirate's I woke up, grabbed the books, and took them straight up to Oxfam. I don't even want them on my shelves. I don't want to look at them. Fucking awful books.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Coast Guard Rescue

Shit, where do I begin???

Sorry for the loooooooong hiatus. I didn't have much time for blogging while oop north at the (future) in-laws, and then I got back and was busy and then,

well, you know how sometimes the more daunting a task is the longer you put it off, but it only gets more and more daunting? it's kind of like that. i wanted to tell you every wonderful little marvelous details of everything that happened, and I couldn't face the enormity of it, and so I wrote nothing at all. Not too clever, I know.

So here's the synopsis:

(and thanks for bugging me. knowing that people were checking in on me and wondering what the fuck was going on was the motivation i needed, so thanks very much to everyone who left me nagging comments about falling overboard!)

Had a fabulous time over Christmas with Pirate and his folks. Ate till it was impossible to distinguish me from the Great White Whale, and then washed it all down with another mince pie. And champers. Fucking 'ell, I drank more Champaigne in the week from Christmas to New Years than I have in my entire night cumulative. Actually, I think I drank more Champagne the first night we arrived than I had in my entire life cumulative, and just kept building up the record from there. There were dinner parties and toasts and more toasts and a few more toasts and a few more parties. Pirate and I got loads of engagement pressies, which was lovely. Pirate's parents bought us a bunch of really nice (400 thread count) King size bed linens! Ooh, those are going to be so nice to sleep in! There was also lots of Boggle, Scrabble, and reading taking place, as well as walks in the drippy countryside and strolling through villages. A lovely way to pass the holidays.

On the wedding front, things are finally getting hammered down. I can now confirm that we will be getting Married in Bristol at St. Mary Redcliffe Church on (probably) Sept. 5, 2008. (Warning: that link plays music.) We have the venue for the reception narrowed down to 3 possibilities, and will hopefully have a decision on that by the end of the week. The problem is that Pirate has just been sent to Germany for the week, so I'm rather left hanging at the moment.

boy, writing that it doesn't seem like much happened, but honestly, i've been up to my ass in aligators. well, back to it i suppose.

Ooh, I almost forgot to mention (but a certain commenter remembered), my birthday was this weekend. I am 29 for the first time. It was a good day. We met with the vicar and made arrangements for the wedding, so that was fun.