Monthly Archives: June 2009

Seeing stars

Every evening Daughter stares at the sky and mutters angrily. It’s apparently not clear enough. She wants a perfectly clear night sky, so that she can go out and take photos in the middle of the night.

She had a stroke of luck with insomnia last week. With sleep simply not coming, she got up and went out and communed with the stars in the sky and the new camera and things.

So basically, all she wants to do is go back out and take more pictures of the same stars. If there weren’t clouds in the way. We got half a moon yesterday evening, while trying to cool down as it got dark, but that was no good to her.

Teenagers. Never satisfied.

The school prom

Prom 2

‘Send the proms back to where they came from,’ said one father at the school prom on Friday evening. He could think of five things he’d rather do than stand there waiting to take a picture of his daughter as she arrived at school in a limo. We were, luckily, just there to admire the dresses and take pictures.

Many 16-year-olds I no longer recognise, and especially not once the prom-dress and the hair and the make-up have transformed the person I once knew. Luckily you can identify some by their grannies, who look the same as they did six years ago. I stared at one mother until I worked out that we used to sit and wait in the swimming pool changing rooms during lessons, close to ten years ago.

Prom 1

The head teacher was out in white jacket and brandishing a camera, catching his students one last time, as they emerged from pink limos, horse drawn carriages, off the backs of lorries and some from a builders’ white van. The best were the bikers who came roaring along the quiet roads. Half a dozen grizzled motor bike owners, each with a teenager behind them. Cool. But not for girls with expensively done hair.

We went home and celebrated, if that is the word, with take-out pizza and Indian, and a double episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.. I chose the very last two episodes, before the whole series collapsed in 1968. Really strange, even for U.N.C.L.E., and I’m not sure I got to watch it back then. Plenty of Illya Kuryakin, and we had Leslie Nielsen in weird mode, too. Thought the woman looked familiar, and she turned out to be the baroness from the Sound of Music.

Apparently this was filmed as a single episode, so some doctoring was necessary to make it twice as long. You could tell they had had to stretch things. You know, repeat the same footage over and over, long intro to part two saying what happened last week, and probably no cuts to even the worst acting. Those were the days.

Which Michael Jackson was yours?

Let me upset all mourners now by saying I’m not one of you. The Michael Jackson I may have mourned once was the sweet looking young boy, who was another Donny Osmond type. But then many of his fans are younger, whereas I’m older than Michael, and was only ever a fan for a short while, when the Jackson Five started out.

When I woke up again, in my late twenties or thereabouts, I was somewhat shocked to see what had happened to Michael, and I never quite regained normality after that. He seemed to go from bad to worse, and I was never able to see further than his face and the reports in the papers about his weird behaviour.

So maybe he was a very important and talented performer. I missed all that. But I’d still like to have an explanation to what really happened to him, because I have long missed the ‘real’ Michael Jackson. And perhaps someone shouldn’t have arranged quite so many concerts for him later this summer.

But he was big. Even the Resident IT Consultant noticed the news this morning, and that’s a man who once said ‘Who’s Michael Jackson?’, when Offspring were going on about him. But said it as a joke, rather than as proof of being really and hopelessly hopeless.

Break the boredom

‘CultureWitch has been a bit boring recently’, said the beloved Daughter today. Thank you, dear. I had noticed. And I’ve felt paralysed and incapable of doing anything about it. The travels must have taken more out of the cranky old witch than you’d have thought. Couldn’t really come up with anything from the Lancashire Book Awards that belonged over here, so that’s all with big sister Book.

Witch portrait

The clearing out of Offspring’s rooms not long ago provided a few treasures brought to light yet again. Here we have a charming portrait of the witch. Done by Daughter at the tender age of six. It’s not bad, is it? Not that she had very good raw material to work with, but considering the quality of the model, it’s very satisfactory. Almost as good as the much earlier picture of a cat, which had Mother-of-witch in raptures, due to the child’s skills of observation at a very young age.


Well, how appropriate was that? I actually feel so sleepy I didn’t make the connection at first, but Daughter and I just relaxed with another old NCIS episode, and for the first time ever, we both almost nodded off. It will be all the fresh air from this afternoon’s garden party, I suppose.

Light Sleeper - Gibbs and baby

It’s one of my more favourite episodes, and it’s called ‘Light Sleeper’. Though that’s sleeper as in foreign spy, but since it features true love and babies, it’s almost guaranteed to go down well at witch headquarters. I’m sure this is where we get the first inkling of Gibbs’ experience of small children, and that he knows how to feed them.

Sensitivity training is always good for poking fun at, and we love it when Gibbs addresses McGee as Elflord.

Light Sleeper, bomb

Di Nozzo’s line that ‘stealing tools isn’t really a prerequisite for murder’, is pretty good. And I think this might have been the first time Abby spoke Gibbs’ lines as well as her own, which just goes to show how well she knows him.

That is quite a big bomb on the right.

(Photos © CBS)

Students by the truckload

Last week Sweden was in its annual grip of the Studentexamen. This is what people do when they ‘graduate’ school at the age of 18 or 19. They put on white clothes, wear a white Student hat and shout and scream as they are driven round town on the backs of lorries or in any other unusual vehicle. Lots of flowers and balloons, both on the vehicles and around people’s necks.

Studenten Borås 2006

It used to be that it was only those who graduated the ‘proper’ Gymnasium, with last minute exams that had to be passed. Then this was all abolished. And then it all came back, minus the expectation that anyone has done anything particularly clever.

1930s Student

This watercolour painted by a very young Mother-of-witch some time in the 1930s used to hang on a wall in her older sister’s summer cottage, so it has holiday connotations for me. I used to sleep below it as a child, which is why I simply had to have it when they were both gone.


Twelve years ago I changed bus stops. This might seem a little irrational, but after 24 years of using the stop to the left of the house in Sweden, I went right instead. They’re almost equidistant; four minutes to the left and three to the right.

The left hand stop is nice enough, with houses on both sides of the road, but nothing special. If you look at these photos from the stop on the right, you’ll see that the view is not bad at all. It’s further from the sea, but you can see the sea.


In another direction you have a meadow with flowers. This time of year it’s lupins. When I first changed it was wild violets, and I picked them for Mother’s Day, for when Mother-of-witch was in hospital.


And behind the stop there is a farm. Also very idyllic. It makes waiting for the bus almost nice.


I also saw a hare the other day, but it hared off down the gravel path by the lupins before the camera had time to do its business.

On the beach

After all the rain last week, the sun has re-appeared. Not that it has warmed the place up much, but it’s always a little more cheerful with sunshine. Less wet.

I’m less wet, too, as the water temperature is such that I won’t go further than this

On the edge

Ladies' entrance


The GP Cousin may swim several times a day in the summer and once a day all year round, but he’s a bit hardier than the wimpy witch. 13℃ is simply too cold. Even the car park was empty yesterday, which is why I felt able to photograph the view from the ladies’ toilets.

Wild strawberries

And no, I’m not thinking Ingmar Bergman films, here.

Wild Strawberries

Seeing my Swedish ‘garden’ during a different June week from most years is enlightening. I’m pretty sure that Mother-of-witch never planted wild strawberries, and especially not in the gap between the deck and the ill-kempt grass. But there it was, nestling among the dry leaves from last year, and almost smothered by the overgrown grassy slope.

The slope is covered in flowers. Two or three kinds of yellow, one kind of blue and something purple. And tall white daisies. This would have been before I took the mower for a walk.

I’m not the only one to take walks around here. As I went further up into the woods, the path cutting through the tall grass was very distinct, so I can only assume that a lot of deer traffic has taken place while I’ve not been looking.

Hairy Gibbs

I’ve had a bit of a ‘hairy Gibbs’ session while watching old episodes of NCIS. The first four in the fourth series have our squeaky clean ex-marine covered in facial hair. I’ve always had a liking for the stuff, so while other fans squealed with shock over the beard (two episodes) and the moustache (the next two episodes), I sat back and enjoyed the view.

I’m less sure about the rather abominable shirts he wore while still officially ‘retired’, and don’t get me started on the shorts in episode one. Nice to see him carpentering away, though. As an ex-roofer Mark Harmon must have felt right at home on the roof of Mike Franks’s cottage.

Daughter always enjoys the sight of Gibbs and Fornell drinking from a child’s drinks carton with straws. It’s cute, but doesn’t make sense.

Personally I have a special liking for episode four. Might be because McGee gets to search through a lot of vomit all over town. It’s got Mike Franks in it, which is usually nice, but I could do without Gibbs speaking Russian. Or maybe it’s my past experience of counting money for a living, that has me fascinated by all those tumbling coins?

Gibbs 4/4

It’s time to ask for some more facial hair, I think.

(Photo © CBS)