Coronavirus – Day #36

So, birthday under Lockdown turns out to be much the same as any other birthday, but with a lot more (virtual) company.

I began the day by doing a trans history talk for a local LGBT+ group (adults this time), which was fun.

I have a fair amount of work of various sorts to do, but I decided to goof off for the day and do some baking. I don’t have a usable oven, so for Christmas I bought myself one of these (cheap in a Clark’s Village outlet store). I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had a chance to use it before today.

I decided to make scones (for cream tea) as they are fairly easy. They turned out suprisingly well for a first attempt. They were a little over-done, but machines like this are very precise and now I know to reduce the heat setting next time.

I had sport! Formula E has launched a sim series with most of the actual drivers taking part, plus a side race for other folks. It was actually the side race that interested me most as it had a combination of amateurs, profesional esports players, and young drivers hoping to break in to the big time. Charlie Martin has a seat in the Techeetah team. Sadly she didn’t do very well, but everyone is learning right now so I hope she’ll perform better in later races.

And of course there was WiFi SciFi 2. Only one panel this time, and it devolved into discussion of the writing business which is less of interest to me, but probably more what the punters want.

Next up: dinner, wine, cheese, TV or movie.

World, what world?

Coronavirus – Day #34

I needed to cook again today. I made a batch of curry that will do me for a few days, though some of it will go on hold over the weekend due to there being venison steaks in the fridge.

I’ve also put out a new free short story (see below), started on the next radio show, and done some Women’s Equality Party work. I’m mostly keeping up with the email, but I’m sure there’s stuff I need to answer.

This evening I attended Mike Carey’s virtual book launch for The Book of Koli, which is an absolutely wonderful read. I’m afraid I can’t review it, for reasons that Mike explained in the interview, but all of the reviews I have seen thus far have been very positive.

If there is an outside world, I’ve been too busy to notice.

Today on Ujima – Small Businesses in Lockdown, the Hugos

Today’s show mainly features small businesses talking about how they are coping with Lockdown.

I started with Tara from Talk to the Rainbow, a new psychotherapy service catering to members of marginalised communities. Understandably, they are in a lot of demand right now, but are having to learn to do therapy remotely.

Next up were Graham and Esmerelda from My Burrito, who seem to be doing OK on remote ordering, but are having a lot of trouble with Deliveroo. If you can order your food via a different delivery service then they, and many other restaurants, will be very grateful.

Finally I talked to Dan from Storysmith Books, who are finding that people’s interest in reading has not waned, and may even be increasing.

For the final segment of the show I had a chat with Kevin about this year’s Hugo finalists. We didn’t manage to cover all of the categories, but hopefully we will have generated some interest in the Awards. Plus it was a chance for me to point out how female-dominated they Hugos are these days.

You can find the show on the Ujima Listen Again service.

The playlist for today’s show was:

  • Andy Allo – Superconductor
  • Chaka Khan – Ain’t Nobody
  • Liane La Havas – Unstoppable
  • Janelle Monáe – Tightrope (Mouche & Big Remix)
  • Chic – Good Times
  • Prince – Alphabet Street
  • Jackie Shane – Money
  • Parliament – Mothership Connection

Coronavirus – Day #32

It being two weeks since I last shopped, and with a birthday coming up, I knew I needed to brave Tesco again this week. I had originally planned to go tomorrow because I figured that the first day back after a long weekend might be a bit mad. However, I have two deliveries scheduled to arrive tomorrow, and two phone calls booked on Thursday, so today it had to be.

The car started, which was a relief. She likes the sunshine. It is only in winter that I have to run her every week or the battery goes flat.

As I expected, the store was quite a bit busier than last time I went, but the line moved very quickly. I think I was only queuing for around 15 minutes.

Most food is back in stock. There was pasta and rice. I even found a packet of disposable gloves. But there’s still no flour. Home baking FTW, I guess.

Most people were not wearing masks. I think I only saw 4 all the time I was there. Of course they are difficult to buy here, but it is in stark contrast to what I’m hearing from other countries. However, everyone was very well behaved.

There was a mountain of chocolate. Top end Easter eggs that were selling for £10 or more were on fire sale for £1 or £2 each. I may have bought several. I also have venison steak. Tomorrow I shall order more cheese from Fine Cheese Company.

The big news story here is that the government’s figures for virus deaths may be massively understated. It turns out that other European countries are including deaths in care homes in their fatality figures. The UK figures are for hospital deaths only. In France deaths in care homes make up around a third of the total deaths. So while the official government figures say that we have had around 12,000 deaths, the actual figure may be around 18,000.

Of course this is all speculation, and while the government refuses to embrace testing it is impossible to prove, but deaths in care homes are certainly happening. Also data from the Office of National Statistics is starting to become available, and we are seeing a sharp rise in deaths not attributed to the virus.

The other big story to break today is that Westminister is ordering suppliers of much needed personal protection equipment (PPE) to supply it to customers in England only, and not to accept orders from Scotland or Wales.

So much for the “United Kingdom”, eh?

We won’t forget.

Coronavirus – Day #24

Slowly but surely I am running out of urgent things to do. I might actually be able to enjoy some of that free time at home that everyone else is talking about soon. Of course there are plenty of non-urgent things, or at least slightly less-urgent things, to be doing. I’m not expecting to be bored any time soon.

Today marked the last of my near-future convention cancellations. Finncon 2020 is no more. However, the Finns have taken the decision to roll everything forward to next year. The 2020 convention has become the 2021 convention with the same location, guests and so on. There’s talk of some virtual events this summer, but I don’t suppose it would be very easy to have a virtual sauna.

This does mean that I won’t be visiting Finland at all this year, unless I make a special trip once the panic is all over. Maybe I should go in the winter. There are, after all, things to do.

The next physical trip that I have planned is to an academic convention in Germany in September. I’m keeping my paws crossed for that one.

I made a pot of chili in the slow cooker today. That will keep me fed for several days.

Coronavirus – Day #22

Today was all about Zoom again. I now have three interviews in the can for next week’s radio show, and there was the convention that I have just posted about.

The convention featured some breakout rooms in which we attendees got to chat. It was interesting to hear from people around the world who are being affected by the pandemic in different ways. The two most extreme experieneces were both from the USA. One person had been in strict quarantine for 30 days, the other said hardly anyone locally was taking self-isolation seriously.

Several people bemoaned the lack of physical contact with others, which I am not finding a problem but I totally understand. Some were happy being able to spend more time with their families, but one person reported folks on a parent chat group who just can’t cope with having the kids at home all the time.

Most people seemed to think that communities were coming together during the crisis, which is great to hear. Of course it also bepeaks a certain amount of privilege in that they must be comfortable being part of their local community. People from minority groups are often scared of their neighbours.

We spent quite a lot of time talking about the sort of fiction that might come out of this shared global experience. That too will be very varied, I suspect. Some people will find benefit in writing through the trauma. Some won’t be able to talk about it for a long time. And some will use the techniques of speculative fiction to talk about it obliquely.

Finally one piece of good news that I have noticed thanks to having it pointed out by my Finnish friend, Otto. Telephone spam has pretty much dried up. It used to be that when I worked from home I could expect 2 or 3 spam calls every day. I can’t rememeber when I last had one.

Oh, and I was sent a cake in the post. You know who you are. That was very kind of you. Thanks!

Coronavirus – Day #20

Today has been a bit crazy. Not quite as crazy as the first time The Green Man’s Heir got to be a daily deal on Amazon. You can’t really expect the same results the second time around. Not when over 10,000 of you lovely people already own the book. But very pleasing all the same. That will mean a nice chunk of cash for Juliet.

And frankly I have been so busy that I haven’t worried much about the virus today. I gather that the infection and death rates are still increasing, and that the government is making more worthless promisies to do things that we all know it has no intention of doing. Quite why Bozo wants to go down in history as the man who killed thousands of his own people is a mystery to me, but I guess someone must be paying him well.

Anyway, I cooked today. Actual spag bol. Well, technically linguine bol, but we can’t be fussy these days. It was good, even though I forgot to put any chili in.

Tomorrow I start doing interviews for next week’s radio show.

Coronavirus – Day #18

Today was a day for me to be visible, so I went out.

Well actually that wasn’t the reason. I was starting to run out of fresh food, and today was forecast to be fine weather. If I was going to have to queue to get into a grocery store I didn’t want to have to do so in the rain. So today had to be the day for the expedition.

I decided to try the big Tesco mid-afternoon. I figured it would not be too busy at that time on the Tuesday. Even so there must have been around 100 people in the store. However, it was all very smoothly marshalled. The staff were great, and everyone behaved themselves. This was a great relief after some of the stories I have been seeing on Twitter. And I only had to queue for about 10 minutes to get in.

Also the car started, which was a relief. That meant I was able to buy a lot more that I could carry.

There was plenty of food in the store. Certain things were close to unobtainable: flour, pasta and rice were all in short supply. And there are certain brands that Tesco are not stocking during the emergency. But I came away with almost everything I wanted. I even got some eggs, so there may be some baking experiments in the coming days. There was plenty of toilet paper. Not that I needed any. I don’t go through it that quickly and I have one pack of 9 in store.

Aside from that it has been a very busy day. There was all of the social media fuss over Trans Day of Visibility. There was the Unjust Cause cover reveal. And I’ve just put a new issue of Salon Futura online. I’ll talk more about this tomorrow, but if you are keen to read it you can find it here.

Oh, and I watched the first episode of Batwoman, which was very promising.

Coronavirus – Day #16

Today was a cooking day. I made a batch of prawn and lobster risotto. That sounds pretty posh, but actually it is a mostly storecupboard meal. It needs an onion, but they keep well. Other than that it is rice, a tin of lobster soup, some frozen prawns, and seasoning. I flung in some sherry as well. Dead easy really, unless you start cooking the risotto before defrosting the prawns, which is a bit silly. You can tell I hadn’t cooked it for a while.

I have spent most of the day recording and editing interviews for Wednesday’s radio show. I have 8 interviews altogether, from different places around the world. While most people have similar experiences of government-mandated shutdowns, attitudes towards the effectiveness of government responses vary wildly. Hopefully it will be an interesting show.

Coronavirus – Day #12

One of the interesting things about the current crisis is how quickly things have changed. Only a couple of weeks ago we were wondering whether travel would be affected. Now conventions as far out as August are being cancelled. And you can get caught out. I’ve been watching a documentary series about British Rivers on Channel 5. It is basically an excuse to do some local history of the back of the region that a major river flows through. The latest episode I watched was on the Warwickshire Avon. (There are lots of rivers called Avon in England because afon is Welsh for river, and the English are stupid.) This is the one that flows through Stratford, but it is also known for Rugby and its sport, Warwick for its castle, Leamington for its spa and several other things. The river is also prone to flooding. At the start of the show the narrator said that 2020 would be remembered as the year of terrible floods on the Avon. Ha, no mate. Nice try.

Keeping up with the pace of change has been hard for some organisations. Today I got email from Tesco to say that they have finally implemented a queuing system (with enforced separation) for getting into stores, and at checkouts, plus a rigorous cleaning regime. They’ve also cut down on the range of products they stock to make sure they have enough basic necessities. I’m not going to risk heading out there for a while though. Goodness only knows how people will be behaving.

What does seem to be working is the Internet. Today I had a long video chat with my friend Otto in Helsinki. That sort of thing is easy. Also Disney+ seems to have got through its UK launch with no capacity issues. But utility systems are complicated. We still have power, water, and connectivity, but what happens if things go wrong? I’ve just had email from my internet provider, Zen, who have been great, but they don’t own vans. If something were to go wrong on the network out in the country somewhere, it is a company called Openreach that would send an engineer to fix it. They have just announced that they can no longer keep to their advertised service level. If your internet goes down, and you are not a priority industry, then you are screwed. In theory I still have the mobile phone, but hopefully I won’t need it.

Without the Internet, of course, I would be completely cut off. I think I would probably still be OK for a while. I’m slightly boggled at the people who are getting cabin fever after a day or two of working from home. Obviously I don’t have kids, which helps a lot, but I’m used to this. I’ve been working for myself, mostly from home, since 2003. What’s more, as a trans person, I’m used to going 2 to 3 weeks over Christmas with no in-person social contact every year. In effect I have been training for this for a long time.

Coronavirus – Day #11

My cheese order arrived safely today, so I shall be eating well for the next few days.

I also had a bit of a cooking experiment. I have no mince, but I’d seen various people talking about using chickpeas instead. It wasn’t entirely a vegetarian meal because I had some pancetta I’d bought specifically for making bolognese, but it was mostly veg, and mostly storecupboard. Fresh onion and garlic, obviously. Anyway, I was pleased with the results.

Also I found a bottle of this stuff in the cupboard. It needed using up, and it worked fine with vanilla ice cream.

Because I needed to crack a bottle of red wine for the bolognese, I tried having a glass of it with the meal. As I rather expected, wine and a thick head do not go well together. On the other hand, the wine also triggered an intense coughing fit which was scary at the time, but brought up some of the muck in my wind pipe. I can breath a bit easier now. Who would have thought?

Today’s other excitement was the launch of Disney+. There is so much good stuff on there. And so much good stuff for kids as well, which I suspect will be a boon to many households. I am holding off watching the Mandolin Man thing because I figure there will be a lot of demand. Besides, there’s plenty of other things I want to watch. Is The Inhumans really as bad as everyone says?

Also, when are we getting Frozen II? It is on Sky.

Coronavirus – Day #10

One of the things I have been trying to do while I am self-isolated is find ways to support local small businesses. There’s not much in town. The shops are either chains, or too small to have websites. But there are places that I can support.

We’ll start with books. I get most of my books from Mr. B’s Emporium of Reading Delights, and have been ordering from them. You might also consider Books on Hill in Clevedon, and The Portal Bookshop in York, both of which are owned by lovely people.

Also, order while you can. California has banned bookstores from doing mail order, as well as ordering them to shut their doors.

And then there’s food. The supermarkets are completely overwhelmed, but some small food shops are selling online. I was delighted to be able to place an order with The Fine Cheese Company in Bath. Not only does that help the store, it also helps the small, artisan cheese-makers whose goods they stock. And it is really good cheese, which is all you need, right?

Well maybe booze and chocolate. The lovely folks at Independent Spirit do not have mail order, which is just as well for me. One of the ways in which I can tell that I am actually still sick is that I have no appetite for alcohol. But you can buy chocolate online from Hotel Chocolat, and delivery is free on orders over £20.

Coronavirus – Day #9

It was a beautiful spring day here today again so I decided to venture outside. I’m getting worried that all of the dry air from central heating isn’t doing me any good. And I need some exercise.

There were a lot of people out. Mostly they were walking dogs or small children, but there were also the inevitable joggers. The majority seemed to have no great interest in social distancing.

There were shops open. That included the convenience store just around the corner, and the small Co-Op about 5-10 minutes walk away. The latter had food and was very quiet so I popped in and got a few things. There wasn’t much fresh, but I did get milk, bread, tomatoes and mushrooms. That should help me through another couple of weeks at home.

I’d spent the morning going through the food cupboards. Inevitably I found a few things well past their sell-by date. That included a lot of half-used bottles of various chili sauces. I suspect they will kill most things, except viruses.

For dinner tonight I tried a new toy. I found this top-end mini-blender going half-price on Amazon and ordered one. I got to try it out this evening. I put in some banana yoghurt, some frozen blackberries and raspberries, and some fruits of the forest juice. The end result was delicious. At some point I plan to try it with mango yoghurt, tinned peaches and orange juice, which I suspect will also work well.

Finally a bunch of British writers have been providing ebook stories, podcasts and so on for free to give folks stuck at home something to read or listen to. The BSFA has a page linking free SF&F stories. I’ll try to get something out from Wizard’s Tower this week. Alternatively, if you are into long reads, Galley Beggar now has an ebook store and you can get Ducks, Newburyport for only £2.50, which of course I have done.

Coronavirus – Day #8

Today I got a message through the door from some people down the street. They are looking to put together a little community support group. I gather this sort of thing is happening all over the country, which is heartwarming. Unfortunately I’m not much use in such things. Firstly, as I may have the virus, I should not be socialising. And second, my first thought on seeing it was that if I got to know the rest of the people in the street then pretty soon they’d all know that I was trans and I’d have to find somewhere new to live.

I’m continuing to get “helpful” messages from all sorts of corporations. I use scare quotes because today I got messages from two different delivery companies. Both said they were introducing new procedures to avoid contact and that I should go to their website to enter my preferences. In both cases the website is not set up to enable you to do that.

As the day job hasn’t been chasing me today, I’ve been able to spend another day on Wizard’s Tower work. I’ve done most of the work on layouts for the new Tate Hallaway book, Unjust Cause, so that will be coming your way some time in April.

I have also been doing some testing with Zoom. Going into Bristol for a radio show is not a good idea, so I’m hoping to do some interviews remotely and put together a pre-record show. The plan for the April 1st show is to talk to a bunch of people from different countries around the world about how people are dealing with the pandemic where they live. So if you have always wanted to be on the show, this is your chance. Let me know.

Today’s cooking was proper store-cupboard stuff. Tuna, tomatoes, and some spices makes a great pasta sauce. Serve with conchiglie, obiously.

Coronavirus – Day #7

Today I went out. In the car. My car has dodgy electrics and, if left to her own devices, will develop a flat battery in a week or two. So I have to run her regularly. As long as I stay in the car I am still self-isolating. It was good to get out.

Interestingly the roads around here did not look deserted. There were cars on the road, and people walking around town. My local Tesco looked quite busy, which suggests that they may have food.

I think I am finally beginning to understand this virus thing. This article by a GP was a big help.

As was a Twitter thread by a professor from Yale that, annoyingly, I can no longer find.

Here’s where I think we are:

1. The virus is massively contagious, at least in part because no one has any immunity, but also because most countries have been way too slow to respond.

2. The vast majority of people who contract it will survive. I now suspect over 99% because I think we are massively undercounting the number of people who have it.

3. Typical symptoms are an infection of the upper respiratory tract which leads to a dry cough.

4. It only gets bad if the infection migrates to the lungs and you get pneumonia and need to be on a ventilator.

5. The biggest danger is that large numbers of people need hospitalisation at the same time, because of the rapid rate of infection, and that health services are overwhelmed. This is why slowing the rate of infection is so important.

6. People with a mild case of the virus will take days, maybe even weeks, to recover. That’s partly because this is a new thing that our bodies are struggling to find antibodies for, and partly because we don’t have medication to help (or the capacity to provide it to so many people in such a short time).

7. But people are recovering. We don’t as yet know whether those people are immune, and if so how long that lasts, but as the stock of recovered people grows we should be able to start getting the global economy back on its feet.

8. Our ability to understand and cope with all this is critically dependent on testing so that we know who has the virus and who has recovered from it. The UK government is still reluctant to spend money on testing.

I certainly have the respiratory infection and cough, but nothing else. A lot of the problem with the cough is that a badly inflamed respiratory system is easily irritated, and that leads to coughing, which is a further irritant. Hydrating more seems to help. I have also found that sucking a Fisherman’s Friend is a good way to calm things down so that I can get back to sleep.

On the food front I am now out of most fresh fruit and veg, but I have canned and frozen so I’m not worried. I also have the ability to make yoghurt so I am going to experiment with smoothies. I ate the last of the curry tonight, so will be going onto fish and pasta for a while before the haggis. It is nice to have time to cook.

But I am also very bored of being sick. I should be exercising more, but any sort of physical exertion is a bad idea right now.

Holiday Cheese Blogging

As is my wont, I bought a large quantity of top quality cheese to see me through the holiday season. Some of it you will be familiar with from my past posts: Stichelton and Gorwydd Caerphilly. The Gorwydd, by the way, finished 11th in this year’s World Cheese Awards, which pleases me greatly. But there are others that deserve a mention.

This year’s goat’s cheese is Ragstone, made by the folks at Neal’s Yard Creamery. It comes as a fairly firm log, but will soften up with time. Mine is still firm in the centre, but quite gooey around it. It has quite a strong taste for a goat’s cheese. I’m very pleased with it.

As you’ll see from the above picture, Renegade Monk now has a splendid new steampunk-like packaging. Its taste is every bit as robust and uncompromising as usual. It gets eaten last, despite being a soft cheese.

This year’s discovery is Gallus. How could I possibly resist a cheese with that name? It is Swiss, and made by Affineur Walo who are also responsible for Red Wine Farmer. Gallus is not named after the devotees of Cybele, but rather after the Swiss town of St. Gallen. The original saint was Irish and a close companion of St. Columba. Given that he was called Gallus, I think it entirely likely that he was a eunuch. The abbey in St. Gallen is famous for having been home to St. Wiborada, the first woman to be formally canonized by the Vatican (thank you, Pope Clement II).

Sorry, I digress. The cheese is a Gruyére, and looks like it might be one of those tasteless continental cheeses we are used to. It isn’t. It has a strong, nutty taste. What’s more, it finished 7th in this year’s World Cheese Awards.

The usual warnings apply. These cheeses are made from unpasteurised milk and are not recommended for pregnant people and anyone else particularly at risk from bacteria.

Cheese Tasting in Bath

Yesterday evening I was at Toppings bookstore in Bath for an event that was both a book signing and a cheese tasting. The excuse for that was Ned Palmer’s A Cheesemonger’s History of The British Isles which is, as the title suggests, a history of Britain told through its cheeses. As you might guess, the combination of cheese and history was irresitable to me.

Palmer’s basic idea is to tell the history of British cheese as it was influenced by events in history. Cheese has a long and honourable place in the human story. The earliest evidence for cheese in the UK is at Durrington Walls, the Neolithic settlement used by the people building Stonehenge. The Romans brought their Italian cheeses to Britain because an ounce of cheese a day was part of the standard rations for a legionary. An entire legion needed a lot of cheese. From then on cheese-making in Britain was affected by a variety of historical events from the Black Death through to the Industrial Revolution and WWII.

Palmer has the gift of making history interesting for a general audience through the use of great little stories. As someone who gives a lot of history talks, I appreciate his skill in doing this. My favorite story of the night concerns the great 10th Century Welsh king, Hywel Dda (Hywel the Good), who is noted as a law giver. In ancient Welsh law divorce was legal and on the occasion of a divorce Hywel’s law code states that the wife should receive all of the cheese owned by the family. The assumption is that she was responsible for making it, and the text of the law gives some insight into the methods used.

Some of the stories are cutting edge archaeology too. When Palmer was talking about feeding the Roman Army I was reminded of this recent episode of Alice Roberts’ Digging for Britain where archaeologists from the University of Newcastle are excavating what they believe to be an Iron Age village that got rich from proving food to the Roman soldiers. That segment begins about 41 minutes in. There’s no specific mention of cheese, but they had cows and sheep so I’m pretty sure cheese was being made.

Of course there was cheese to eat too, and it helped that Palmer featured two of my favorite cheeses: Gorwydd Caerphilly and Stichelton. The cheeses were all provided by the Fine Cheese Company, which is where I buy cheese for special occasions. The Stichelton was Palmer’s choice for the 18th Century because Stilton was very much a thing back then. I had no idea that Daniel Defoe was responsible for starting the Stilton craze. Nor did I know that Stichelton is basically Olde English for Stilton. (They can’t call it Stilton because the official definition of Stilton requires it to be made from pasteurised milk.)

Palmer was unable to source the goat’s cheese he had written about in the book because the woman who made it has died. Artisan cheese-making can be like that. I still miss Llanboidy. I didn’t get the name of the substitute he had in, but it was very good. And I learned that you can always tell goat’s cheese because it is white, as compared to the ivory of sheep’s cheese and the darker colours of cow’s cheese.

You can’t do a cheese tasting in Somerset without a cheddar. Palmer chose Westcombe because it is made on the same farm that was once home to the legendary Edith Cannon who, by the age of 21, had already established a reputation as one of the best cheese-makers in Victorian England.

There’s an issue with cheddar in that the hard, crumbly, and very strong cheese that I grew up on is not the same thing that Cannon used to make. Westcombe is quite mild and softer. Much of this is a result of rationing in WWII. The Milk Marketing Board needed to ensure that cheese rations could be fairly distributed, and they encouraged the creation of hard cheeses to make this easier. Many great artisan cheeses were probably lost in the process.

Thankfully these days cheese-making is blooming in the UK. Palmer’s final example was Renegade Monk, a cheese that was recommended to me by Rosie at The Bristol Cheesemonger. It too is a Somerset cheese, but it is totally unlike cheddar. It is a lightly blue washed rind cheese that is soft and pungent with rambunctious taste. I got definite hints of aniseed towards the end. It is an aquired taste, but I’m delighted that such innovative cheese-making is happening in Somerset.

Today on Ujima – PapayaFest, Discrimination at Work, Fungi & Ellen Datlow

I did a radio show today. Here’s what went down.

I started out with a visit from my good friend Tamsin Clarke. We kept our clothes on this time. As you may recall, Tamsin is from Venezuela. She has been putting together a festival of Latinx culture called PapayaFest. It will feature Tamsin’s theatre productions and a great line-up of bands and DJs. Because Tamsin has such great topics for her plays we ended up talking about Simón Bolívar, matriarchal families and the current state of feminism in Latin America.

Next up I was joined by Karen and Erin from Bristol Law Centre. They have come up with an interesting new way of funding employment discrimination cases and they wanted to get the word out there. I was pleased to be able to point out what good work they do, and how necessary they have become because of the current government’s actions designed to make recourse to the law something that is only available to the very rich.

Guest three was my friend Esme who has got involved with mushrooms. They really are fascinating life forms, and most people have no idea how many types of fungi there are, or how crucial they are both to the ecosystem and to many modern industries. There will be a Fungus Day at Arnos Vale Cemetery on Saturday, which I’d be very tempeted to go along to if I wasn’t booked elsewhere.

And finally I ran part of the interview I did with Ellen Datlow at TitanCon. This extract includes how she got her job at Omni, what “best of the year” means, who is the only writer ever to have scared her, and why she once turned down a story by Margaret Atwood. The full interview will run in Salon Futura at the end of the month.

You can hear the whole show via Ujima’s Listen Again service here.

The playlist for this month’s show is as follows:

  • Simón Díaz – Caballo Viejo
  • WARA – Leave to Remain
  • Rodrigo y Gabriela – Hanuman
  • Elsa J – 9 to 5
  • Carlos Santana – Flor d’Luna
  • Janelle Monáe – Mushrooms & Roses
  • Sade – Nothing can come between us
  • Michael Jackson – Thriller

Worldcon #77 – Day 3

This morning, after a bit of fruitless chasing of phone companies, I took myself off to The Point to meet Scott Edelman who was on a panel there. This is how I discovered that Dublin has a rule that the Green Room is only open to programme participants during the hour before their panels. I guess they are very short of space. Being me, I blagged my way in.

Once Scott’s panel was done we headed off to his restaurant of choice, Mr. Fox, and recorded a podcast for Eating the Fantastic. Scott will post details of what we ate along with the podcast, but he has released the above photo with me and the restaurant’s signature walnut whip confectionary. Scott’s ability to find superb restaurants is legendary in the SF&F community, and rightly so.

It was a very long lunch, but not alcoholic as I had to get back to The Point to give my talk on the Prehistory of Robotics. It seemed to go down well. I was also pleased to meet a long time friend, Paul Mason, whom I haven’t seen in decades as he’s been living in Japan.

The rest of the day was spent chatting to people back at the convention centre. I was very pleased to meet two talented young women who are starting to make a name for themselves in the business. The first was Molly Powell, who is the new editor at Jo Fletcher Books. She’s the person responsible for bringing This is How You Lose the Time War and Gods of Jade and Shadow to the UK. The other was Tamsyn Muir, author of Gideon the Ninth, which is by far the most talked about debut novel that I can remember. They are both lovely, and I look forward to watching their careers blossom.

I didn’t have enough energy left to go to the masquerade, so I came back to the apartment and crashed.

Tomorrow, I have nothing to do except the Hugos. Quite a lot of panels have had to turn people away, and I have taken a policy decision to give up my seat to newbies. I may go whiskey shopping.

Today on Ujima – Mexican Food, Poetry, Fiction & Renewables

Today I was in the studio at Ujima with lots of studio guests.

First up I welcomed Graham from My Burrito, a fabulous Mexican eatery in Bristol. We had a great chat about the glories of Mexican food. I was hungry by the end of it, as were Ben, my engineer, and Keziah, the studio manager. You probably will be too.

Next in the hot seat was Tom Denbigh, Bristol’s first LGBT+ Poet Laureate. I met Tom at an event that was part of Bristol Pride and loved the poem he read so I knew I had to get him on the radio. Sadly Ofcom rules about swearing on air rather limited what he could read. It’s about time the regulations caught up with everyday speech.

Guest three was Heather Child, who was no problem to interview as I had already done it last week at her book launch. We talked again about The Undoing of Arlo Knott and the various places where you can find out more about the book.

Finally I was joined by Jon Turney from Zero West to talk about local renewable energy projects.

Much of the music I played was inspired by my time doing the live coverage of Bristol Pride. The full playlist was:

  • Boney M – By the Rivers of Babylon
  • Pointer Sisters – Fire
  • Shea Freedom – Woman’s World
  • Nina – Calm Before the Storm
  • Jackson 5 – I Want You Back
  • Eddy Grant – Baby Come Back
  • Chi-Lites – Give More Power to the People
  • Boney M – Brown Girl in the Ring

You can listen to the whole show for the next few weeks via the Ujima Listen Again service.