A Socialist Utopia?

The keener eyed among you will have seen from my side bar that I have just finished reading Chinese SF author Cixin Liu’s collection entitled Hold up the Sky.

In it there were two separate references to characters requiring medical procedures that were too expensive for them to afford.

I also heard on the TV news recently that those receiving a test dose of a vaccine newly produced in China against the Covid-19 causing coronavirus also needed to pay the equivalent of £45 pounds for the privilege.

China is reviled in certain quarters as being a Communist country.

I must say that on the evidence above China must be far from being even a socialist utopia, the minimum requirement for which I would have considered to be medical treatment free at the point of use.

Aiding and Abetting by Muriel Spark

Penguin, 2001, 216 p

Aiding and Abetting cover

Hildegard Wolf is a psychiatrist in Paris. She has not one, but two clients who claim to be the fugitive Lord Lucan. One gives his name as Robert Walker, the other is known as Lucky. Between them though they have plotted to blackmail Wolf as in a former life she was the fake stigmatic Beate Pappenheim, still wanted for fraud. To avoid this she disappears herself, not even telling her lover Jean-Pierre Roget, where she has gone.

Spark leavens this pretty slim stuff with relatings of the details of Lucan’s murder of his child’s nanny and assault on his wife, his penchant for salmon and lamb chops (which the police could use to apprehend him if they ever got near,) mentions of his aiding and abetting by his friends, his frequent resorts to them for money. There is also a frankly unbelievable liaison between Lacey Twickenham, daughter of one of Lucan’s acquaintances and widower Joseph Murray, yet another who had known the earl, and accounts of their serial near-misses in confronting Lucky.

Spareness can be a virtue but here Spark is taking it to extremes. As in her later The Finishing School, she has given us a sketch for a novel rather than a rounded whole. I am really struggling to see why people hold her writing in high regard.

Pedant’s corner:- imposters (I prefer the spelling impostor,) “a nail-wound on each hand and foot, and a sword wound in the side” (this is a commonly held perception, but crucifixions were carried out by nailing the wrists and ankles, not the hands and feet. And wasn’t it a spear wound in the side?) a missing comma before a piece of direct speech. “One way and another” (One way or another is the usual – and more sensible – expression.) “Could that young woman in the department store in Oxford Street be really Ursula?” (What kind of syntax is this? ‘Could that young woman in the department store in Oxford Street really be Ursula?’ is the more natural way to say this.)

Boer War Memorial, Chester Cathedral

There are several memorials to past conflicts inside Chester Cathedral.

The most ornate is the one for the South African War of 1899-1902, known as the Boer War, though it was the second such.

Boer War Memorial, Chester Cathedral

Bookshelf Travelling for Insane times – A Plethora of Banks

This week’s entry for Judith, Reader in the Wilderness‘s meme now being run by Katrina at Pining for the West.

These are all on the top shelf of my “Scottish” bookcase and comprise all of Iain Banks’s non-SF fiction works plus his non-fiction wander round the world of Scotch whisky, Raw Spirit.

Books by Iain Banks

Lying around in a file somewhere I’ve got reviews of these that (except for the last four) haven’t been put on here. They were in preparation for a piece giving an overview of Banks’s work in a book that never saw fruition.

Maybe I’ll post them sometime.

Forfar Athletic 0-0 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 3, Station Park, 17/10/20.

Not a bad start (not a loss,) not a really good start (not a win either.)

It’ll do to be going on with, though, even if a goal would have been nice.

Clyde’s win against Partick Thistle makes our defeat there last Saturday look not too bad a result.

We’ve got them at home next week though.

Chester Cathedral Interior

Model of Chester Cathedral in Lego. The idea is you buy a lego brick for £1 and add it to the model. Note the War Memorial on the green patch:-

Model of Chester Cathedral in Lego

Chancel:-

Chancel, Chester Cathedral

The very ornate choirstalls:-

Choirstalls, Chester Cathedral

Vaulted ceiling:-

Ceiling, Chester Cathedral

Rood Screen & stained glass windows:-

Rood Screen & Stained Glass Windows, Chester Cathedral

More atained glass windows:-

Stained Glass Windows, Chester Cathedral

Modern stained glass windows:-

Chester Cathedral, Modern Stained Glass Windows

Stained glass windows and lightshades:-

Stained Glass Windows and Lightshades, Chester Cathedral

Asteroid Bennu

This is from You Tube via Astronomy Picture of the Day for 12/12/20.

A video of Asteroid Bennu, first of all with speeded up spin, then zooming in to a prominent rock on the surface (given the name Simurgh apparently,) as shot from spacecraft OSIRIS-REx shortly to try to land and get a sample of Bennu to bring back to Earth.

It’s still thrilling to me that we as a species can do and see things like this.

Friday on my Mind 195: You Got Soul – RIP Johnny Nash

I noted the passing of Johnny Nash last week. Apparently he was instrumental in ensuring Bob Marley’s first recording contract. He certainly recorded Stir it Up and got a UK hit with it.

Nash’s most famous song is of course I Can See Clearly Now (1972) but his only No 1 was Tears on My Pillow in 1975. His first UK hit was Hold Me Tight in 1968. This song was its follow-up and shows off his rock-steady/reggae background.

Johnny Nash: You Got Soul

John Lester (Johnny) Nash: 19/8/1940 – 6/10/20. So it goes.

22nd Cheshire Regiment Memorial

This is also in the grounds of Chester Cathedral.

Cheshire Regimental Memorial

It is inscribed, “In grateful remembrance of the officers and men of the 22nd [Cheshire] Regiment who laid down their lives in the service of their country 1939-1945.”

22nd [Cheshire] Regimental Memorial 3

Regimental Memorial, 22nd Cheshire Regiment

22nd Cheshire Regimental Memorial

War Memorial, Chester

The Memorial is in red sandstone to match the Cathedral behind. It has a hexagonal base of four steps supporting a plinth bearing a cross.

It is inscribed, “Erected by a grateful city in honour of her sons who gave their lives for their country in the Great War 1914–1918. Their names are engraved on tablets of bronze in the Town Hall and their imperishable memory in the hearts of their fellow citizens.”

War Memorial, Chester

Inscribed on third tier here, “1939-1945”:-

War Memorial, Chester

Third view:-

War Memorial by Chester Cathedral

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