Monthly Archives: November 2006

Stir-up Sunday


stirup.jpg It’s stir-up Sunday, and so for the first time ever, I did what you’re supposed to do and made my Christmas cake. Ironic, really, considering that I have no intention of eating any of it, and a bit pointless since no-one really wants Christmas cake at Christmas. However, it was worth it for the smell that pervaded the house for the whole day while it cooked and cooled, and for the satisfaction of taking part in a quaint English ritual.
The recipe came from what has become my favourite of all books for Christmas food, Martha Day’s The Complete Christmas Cookbook, which I got as an impulse buy in a National Trust shop at Morden Hall Park last year for £4.99.

Jonathan’s Swimathon


I’ve been considering doing the Swimathon again for years (I last did it in 1992), and since the 2007 event has just been launched, I thought I’d sign myself up quick before thinking about it too deeply. I’m going to swim 5km on March 24th next year, and I aim to raise at least £500 for Marie Curie Cancer Care. You can get your good deed for the day done very simply by (and here, I’m beginning to sound embarrasingly like the geordie fundraiser from hell on the Catherine Tate show) going to my personal page on the Swimathon website. (You can also search for other swimmers by name or pool location – a very nice touch). Just click on the ‘sponsor me’ button and it’s over and done with in seconds.

Yes! Please let me Sponsor Jonathan’s Swimathon now!

Hello & Goodbye to Berlin


The Staatsoper Berlin - click to see a mini Berlin galleryTo Berlin for the day with Chris to go and see my dear friend and colleague Marita Mirsalimova play the pianist in Jerome Robbins’ The Concert with Staatsballett Berlin at the Staatsoper, along with Fancy Free and Afternoon of a Faun. Marita played beautifully as always, and it was a great evening’s entertainment. Fortunately, the wonderful Wolfram Fleischhauer (see an older entry, too) was in town, and so after lunch at the Oranium we went to have coffee and strudel and meet his family for the first time – it’s about 8 years since we last saw each other when he was researching Benesh notation for Drei Minuten mit der Wirklichkeit, though his books have been a fairly constant companion ever since. Dinner with Chris, Marita & Wolfram at the incredible Schinkel-Klause a stone’s throw away from the opera house, and then back in Tooting by 10am. No real time for piccies, but I took a few before it got dark just so I could have a Berlin gallery.

How to create dummy text in Word


There’s a nifty little trick in Microsoft Word which enables you to generate paragraphs of dummy text using the sentence ‘The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog’. In a blank document you type


(where the first # is the number of paragraphs you want, and the second number is the number of sentences you want in each paragraph)

and then hit the ‘Return’ (Enter) key.

=rand(5,8) returns five paragraphs with eight sentences in. As the sentence Word produces has 9 words in, this will return a total of 5*8*9=360 words.

I use this every time I have a writing deadline to meet with a stipulated word count, because it helps me to block out paragraphs. If you’ve got 400 words on a particular subject, you can see just how much that looks like on paper, and type rough headings for each of the paragraphs before you start, if you’re feeling really organised and inspired. Also very useful for essays, because it gives you a graphic display of how much work you’ve got left to do before you can safely go to the pub.