Billy McNeill

The word legend is bandied about very frequently in football circles usually about players who have not really done much to deserve it.

Today, though, came news that someone who truly warrants that accolade has died.

Billy McNeill will live in history as the first British man to lift the European Cup. The whole 1967 Celtic team can be described as legends – that was an incredible achievement, to win that trophy previously only acquired by teams from southern Europe, with players all born within a tewnty mile radius from the stadium of the club for whom they were playing. It was almost inconceivable at the time. It is utterly impossible now.

McNeill himself always came across as a gentleman – though doubtless the centre forwards he played against may have a different perspective. He presented as articulate and thoughtful in interviews.

Such a pity that his later years were blighted by dementia. I don’t suppose all those years heading a heavy rain-soaked leather football can have helped in that regard.

Not that I wish to end on a sad note as his life and achievements ought to be celebrated.

But words are inadequate.

William (Billy) McNeill: 2/3/1940 – 22/4/2019. So it goes.

BSFA Awards for 2018

This year’s awards (for works published last year have been announced.)

Best Novel: Gareth L Powell for Embers of War

Best Shorter Fiction: Ian McDonald for Time Was

Best Non-Fiction: Aliette de Bodard for “On motherhood and erasure: people-shaped holes, hollow characters and the illusion of impossible adventures.”

Best Artwork: Likhain for “In the Vanishers’ Palace: Dragon I and II.”

The novel winner wasn’t my choice.

Ironbridge, Bridge and War Memorial

I realised that we would be very near Ironbridge on our trip across England after the game at Oswestry and so couldn’t miss visiting the site of the first iconic construction of the Industrial Revolution.

The eponymous bridge is a beautiful shape. Imagine our disappointment when we found it swathed in plastic. It was undergoing repairs/refurbishment.

Iron Bridge at Ironbridge

So, I have walked over the iron bridge – pedestrian traffic was allowed – but have not actually seen it.

We’ll just need to go back another time.

Still, it wasn’t a completely wasted stop; there was an extensively stocked second-hand bookshop in the village itself near to the bridge and a pleasing War Memorial.

Ironbridge War Memorial

Wolrd War 2 Dedication. “The Church clock was illuminated as a memorial to the followimg men of Ironbridge who lost their lives during the 1939-1945 war”:-

World War 2 Dedication, Ironbridge War Memorial

From south. Great War Names:-

Irondridge War Memorial from South.

From North. Great War dedication. “In grateful and undying memory of the valiant men of Ironbridge who laid down their lives in the Great War 1914 – 1919. We thank God upon every remembrance of you.”

Ironbridge War Memorial from North

BSFA Awards Booklet 2018

BSFA, 2019, 104 p.

BSFA Award Booklet for 2018

It would appear from the nominations for shorter fiction appearing in this year’s booklet that the SF short story is dead. Barring the last in the booklet none of the shortlisted stories is printed in its entirety. The others are all extracts from longer pieces of fiction.
Nina Allan’s The Gift of Angels: an introduction1 is narrated by a Science Fiction writer, whose mother was the first person on Mars but whose fate remains unknown, and tells what appears to be his life story. The tale riffs on and critiques the films La Jetée and Twelve Monkeys. Allan has a beautiful writing touch. I did want to find the longer version to finish it. The story, though, refers to Harry Potter and Game of Thrones as famous. I doubt these will be quite such cultural touchstones in the fifty years or so time when this is set as they are now.
I read The Purpose of the Dodo is to be Extinct by Malcolm Devlin in Interzone 275, where it was first published. I reviewed the issue it appeared in here.
The Land of Somewhere Safe3 by Hal Duncan is one of the author’s Scruffians stories. Here we have a wonderfully linguistically inventive tale (Dunstravaigin Castle is a brilliant coinage) involving wartime evacuees to Skye and a Nazi spy.
The magnificent Time Was by Ian McDonald I reviewed here.
Exit Strategy (The Murderbot Diaries Vol 4)5 by Martha Wells is narrated by a murder bot apparently lured to a planet by an organisation that has sequestered its boss. The story suffers from being told to us rather than shown and did not grab me in the slightest.
Phosphorus6 by Liz Williams is set on Mars and the planet Winterstrike. One of its viewpoint characters is dead. However, the extract is not really long enough to judge whether its balance is askew or not nor to evaluate the story properly.
Kingfisher7 by Marian Womack is set in a future where wildlife is all but vanished and human births a rarity yet libraries seem to abound. Our protagonist is saddled with a useless tool of a husband, an abiding sense of failure and a fascination with birds. There is a hint of a writerly sensibility lurking underneath the prose but the story is riddled with a ridiculous number of errata.

The non-fiction nominees section contains two of Nina Allan’s “Time Pieces”a columns from Interzone, ditto for Ruth E J Booth’s Shoreline of Infinity essays published as “Noise and Sparks”, Liz Bourke has five of her “Sleeps with Monsters”b columns for Tor.com, Aliette de Bodard writes “On Motherhood and Erasure”c from the blog “Intellectus Speculativus” and there is an extract from Adam Roberts’s “Publishing and the Science Fiction Canon: The Case of Scientific Romance”d.

Pedant’s corner:- 1“A sinister band of scientists prey off” (a band preys off,) “sprung up” (sprang up,) “the museum has replacedtheir stash” (its stash,) “a cetain child .. finds themselves” (a child finds itself.) 3puntied in (punted?) argylle socks (argyle,) liptick (lipstick seems intended but liptick may be one of Duncan’s neologisms.) 5GrayCris’ (GrayCris’s.) 6governess’ (governess’s,) mistress’ (mistress’s,) “The scatter of hovels erected at the tip of the Tail were the last to fall behind..” (The scatter … was the last.) 7 “each bar offered their personal take” (each bar offered its personal take,) statues becomes statue several lines later, “a prevalent Sun descended” (a prominent Sun?) “it was frightening how comforting was to fall back into” (how comforting it was to.) “The library would pay for my librarianship degree on the sole condition that I came back to work for them for three or four years” (to work for it, or, to work there,) “climbing up thopusands of miles up in the air” (one ‘up’ too many,) a ‘seem’ where ‘seemed’ fits the other tenses in the sentence, “and they would let themselves been touched” (be touched,) “Jonas was better at cooking at me” (than me,) “scribbled in old pieces of reclaimed paper” (scribbled on,) “in a strangely elaborated [dream]” (elaborate.) “I looked a Jonas” (at Jonas.) “I fell a moment of void” (I felt.) “I had never knew whsat to do with it” (I had never known, or, I never knew,) although there were not fluff” (although they were not fluff,) “but they seem to accumulate” (seemed,) “when I notice a stain” (noticed,) “too look inside” (to look,) “the dinning room” (dining room,) “what they where for” (were for.) “Whener I don’t remember what it means to be sad I took it out and look at those pages” (either ‘remembered’, and ‘looked’, or, ‘take’,) “minus zero” (that would be zero, then,) “magazines cut-outs” (magazine cut-outs,) “I had tided them up” (tidied,) “plastics bags” (plastic bags.) “They were not native to the local fauna” (‘They were not native’, or, ‘they were not local fauna’,) “so effectively they had contaminated the environment” (so effectively had they contaminated the environment.)
a“are startling out of step” (startlingly.) b“I’m going to look at take two books together” (either ‘look at’ or ‘take’ not both, automatons (automata,) “Neither of them resolve anything” (neither of them resolves anything,) “[X]’s .. pregnancy …. and her feelings … is central to the narrative” (there’s an ‘and’ in there; that makes for a plural verb subject, so, ‘are central’.) “The poets are most affect by” (affected by.) c“are littered with the death of mothers” (deaths.) d“is comic-satiric impossible voyage” (is a comic-satiric impossible voyage,) “triple-decker length SF form this era” (from, I think,) “the content of which were published” (was published.)

Relief

Well. It’s been a season.

Not the one we’d hoped for, but also not the one that for a long time I feared.

Today’s 3-0 win at home to East Fife, combined with Brechin’s loss at Stranraer and Stenhousemuir’s at home to Forfar means we can not be relegated. There is even an outside possibility we could finish as high as fifth if we win our last two games, but I’d suggest that’s an unlikely scenario.

Where we would have ended up without our four wins against East Fife I dread to think. It’s a seriously odd statistic that we beat them four times this season when we lost to Brechin twice at their place and three times in all to Stenhousemuir. Still, that’s what a league is all about.

A stress-free last two games of the season await but memories of Dom Thomas apart, this has been one to forget, really.

I don’t suppose it’ll be long before I get to worrying again, though. July is only three months away.

Wenlock Priory

Wandering about Much Wenlock we saw signs to Wenlock Priory which is also known as St Milburga’s Priory.

It’s a ruin now, in the hands of English Heritage, but still quite impressive.

Wenlock  Priory Board

As you go in you walk past this ruined building. Photo taken looking back:-

Ruined Part of Wenlock Priory

This is the other main ruined building with a more modern structure also in the picture:-

Wenlock Priory

Through the archways seen above:-

Part of Wenlock Priory, Much Wenlock, Shropshire

One of the walls is highly decorative:-

Wenlock Priory

A reverse view:-

Ruined Buildings, Wenlock Priory

To left of above:-

enlock Priory Building

Priory with topiary in front:-

Wenlock Priory

Topiary animals:-

Topiary Animals, Wenlock Priory

Topiary animal:-

MoreTopiary, Wenlock Priory

Live It Up 53: Don’t Dream It’s Over

I must have heard this when it first came out but don’t consciously remember doing so. Well, it was released in 1986 and I was in the first throes of fatherhood that year. Still I suppose the song may only be familiar from repeated plays on the radio since.

(The first song I remember associating with Crowded House by name is actually Chocolate Cake from 1990.)

The talent in the band and Neil Finn’s songwriting ability is clear here though.

Crowded House: Don’t Dream It’s Over

Gene Wolfe

And they keep coming. (I suppose, really, that should be going.)

Yesterday, via George R R Martin’s Not a Blog, I learned of the death of Gene Wolfe.

I have been an admirer of his work ever since his novel The Shadow of the Torturer, the first of his sequence set in Urth, with the overall title The Book of the New Sun.

This was followed by Soldier of the Mist set in ancient times, whose hero, Latro, can not remember things from one day to the next, and two more books with the same protagonist.

Two other series, The Book of the Long Sun and The Book of the Short Sun, appeared in the 1990s and early 2000s along with two books related to each other The Wizard and The Knight.

Many stand alone novels were published before, during and after these series books.

I have 24 of Wolfe’s books, 20 novels and 4 collections of his shorter work, but have not yet read them all. (So many books to read, so little time.)

Ursula Le Guin was a great admirer of Wolfe’s writing, calling him “our Melville”, (our in the context of the SF and Fantasy field.)

The last of his novels to be published, A Borrowed Man, 2015, I had the privilege of reviewing for Interzone. I had the impression that was to be the first in another series of books, which sadly are now probably lost for ever.

I’ve got those unread ones to look forward to though.

Gene Rodman Wolfe: 7/5/1931 – April 14/4/2019. So it goes.

Much Wenlock

From New Meadow Stadium we motored on to Much Wenlock. Here it was where the first modern Olympian Games were held, starting in 1850, leading to the naming of one of the 2012 Olympics mascots as Wenlock.

We had hoped to visit the bookshop but it was a Sunday and it was closed. (Photo from Wikipedia.)

Much Wenlock bookshop

The village is full of olde worlde timbered buildings:-

Much Wenlock buildings

Much Wenlock Buildings

Much Wenlock

To the right below is the Guildhall:-

Much Wenlock Buildings

To the left above is the Memorial Hall. The window above the door is inscribed, “Wen Memorial Hall 1914 1919.” The building also houses a museum.

Much Wenlock Memorial Hall

There is also a 1914-1918 memorial plaque inside Holy Trinity Church.

Transit of Phobos

This is a (speeded up) sequence showing the partial eclipse of the Sun by a moon of another planet. From You Tube via Astronomy Picture of the Day for 10/4/19.

The moon is Phobos; the planet, Mars. The sun is the Sun.

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