Friday Plant Blogging! Holiday greetings

I know you’ve all been missing seeing plants at VCTB on Fridays, so here’s a bit of seasonal foliage for you:


I was hoping to be able to display one or both of my christmas cacti in resplendent full bloom, but as neither of them have deigned to flower you’ll have to make do with the sprig of poinsettia there. One of the cacti has flower buds, but they only appeared a few weeks back and are nowhere near ready – which could have a lot to do with the very mild autumn we’ve had this year. Yes, that’s it. Nothing to do with my amateur plant husbandry skills, that’s for certain. Hmmph.


Well, another patchy week. My back decided on Monday that it wasn’t better after all, so I was off work until Wednesday again. Saw a doctor about it; he advised that continuing to work light duties will actually promote faster healing, and furnished me with a prescription for some fairly pokey painkillers. They’re effective, though not in the way you might expect – rather than removing the pain, they just make you care less about it. They also make you rather spaced out and forgetful, which is quite amusing (at least for the first four hours or so).

But hey, the weekend’s here! And it’s the holiday weekend too, which means I get four days off in a row – bliss! I’m not seeing family, as my mother lives “oop North” and the travel logistics are a bitch for just a few days downtime. Which means that I get to spend the time in the best way possible – relaxing in peace and solitude with my personal library, some decent tunes on the stereo and some sort of alcoholic beverage. You may have guessed that I don’t do the C-word (for various reasons) but I can still appreciate some time off to hang out with friends and get some hardcore reading binges nailed down.

Speaking of reading binges (see my effortless segue!), lots of incoming material again, thanks to the beneficence of a friend who sent me an Amazon gift voucher last week, which I predictably splurged immediately on more books. So, new to the library this week, we have:

  • Cory Doctorow’s Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom – I’ve read (and/or listened to) a lot of Doctorow shorts, and stayed up late a few months back to hammer through Eastern Standard Tribe in ebook format; I’ve also heard good things about this novel, so I thought it was time I bought some product from the guy. It’s a skinny little thing – a kind of literary snack or appetiser before I tuck into the heavy stuff, perhaps.
  • Alastair Reynolds’ Galactic North – I demolished the Revelation Space sequence after I stumbled across it three years back, but have never read any of his shorter works (having missed out of the 90s ‘zine scene where he made his mark), so this anthology should make for a good day’s entertainment. It’s odd; I always find a collection of shorts reads much faster than a novel of the same page length. Anyone else get that? (Oh, and by the way, Amazon are doing the hardback version of this for £4.50, less than half the trade paperback price. Go figure, then go buy!)
  • Peter Watt’s much-lauded and widely-blogged Blindsight – the sheer roster of recommendations this got from readers and writers whose opinion I respect made this a must have, especially when it came to light that sales were doing badly due to availability problems. I’ve done my bit, and I’m pretty confident that it’s not going to disappoint if Niall’s review was anything to go by. (And Niall’s reviews usually are, by the way. Things to go by, I mean.)

That’s the Amazon stuff sorted, but there’s still more. Yesterday was my half-day, so after I got the food shopping in for the long weekend I went to check for comics – latest Testament, check; latest Y the Last Man, check. Also splashed out on the latest album by The Datsuns, Smoke and Mirrors – which is OK, not as balls-out high-octane rock-and-roll as the earlier stuff, but they had to grow up at some point and I think it’ll grow on me.

And I couldn’t walk back down Albert Road without looking in on the second hand book store … which repaid me by supplying what appears to be an unread paperback of Marianne de Pierres’ Code Noir. I’ve seen her stuff on shelves for a few years now, and liked the look and the blurb, but she never made it into a basket or bag (real or virtual). 50 pence is a price that can’t be passed up though, so the lady came home with me.

Still no sign of the December F&SF – which is made all the more frustrating by the fact the US subscribers are already cheerfully talking about the January issue (which has a Sterling story in it! w00t!). However the first issue of Hub, new-UK-mag-on-the-block, turned up yesterday. Not finished it yet; design looks OK, but the fiction is a little lacklustre so far, and they should have got it proofread much more carefully. Full report when I’m done with it, of course.


So as you can tell, my brain and eyeballs are all set up for a nice long weekend. To enjoy it properly, I’m going to suspend normal operations here at VCTB until at least the 26th; some links may crop up in between now and then (because I am, let’s face it, a complete net-aholic), and I’ll check my email, but that will be about it. The blogosphere has been winding down over the last few days anyhow, so I don’t think I (or you lot) are going to miss much by spending a few days disconnected from it all.

Now I’m off to celebrate the ritual that is The Friday Curry. So all that remains is to wish you all a pleasant weekend, flavoured by whatever religious or philosophical beliefs (or lack of) you may espouse, and punctuated with good food and good company to whatever degree you prefer such things. I’ll see you all in a few days – have fun, and happy holidays!

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