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He loves the violence, keeps ticking over…

I mentioned in a previous post how I don’t read the bottom half of the internet, with one exception: “I always, but always, read the many comments on the Guardian’s Doctor Who series blog after each episode.”

Obviously the quality of the comments – and the tone of the community – is excellent but it helps that I think Doctor Who is a pretty clever programme, as well as being entertaining. Which is a long way of saying I’m a fan.

Not only am I a Doctor Who fan, I’m also a Londoner, so was pleased to see Londonist’s excellent map showing Doctor Who in London.

So often has contemporary London been the target of invasion, in fact, that we decided to map the attempts. Below you can see all the bits of London that have been pivotal in half a century of Doctor Who stories. Some of these places were the target of some specific plot or another; others were the location of the secret government base that repelled them.

Post title lyric taken from Blur – London Loves

Walk through the valley, the written word is a lie…

I’ve been having a bit of trouble with my sourdough recently. The starter – Bessie – is still going strong at 11 months old, but I’m finding it’s taking rather too long for the loaf to rise these past few weeks. I’m blaming the ridiculously cold weather for this time of year – and the fact that it would be ridiculous to keep the central heating on when I’m not in the house, just to encourage the dough to rise. The other thing is that I quite like the slow rise of a sourdough – partly because obviously it creates a far superior flavour – but mainly because I did have the whole routine nailed down. In the morning I’d do the initial mix and knead, then let the dough proof throughout the working day. When I got home after work, I’d knock back the dough and shape it and put it in the proving basket for the final rise, ready for baking after dinner.

The past few loaves I’ve made having really followed this pattern though, as the final rise in the proving basket was taking so long something clearly wasn’t right. Cut a long story short, I concluded that it’s just too bloody cold right now (snow at the end of March? Really?!). I got the temperature probe out yesterday after another stupidly long final rise and my suspicions were confirmed with a 16ºC reading. The yeast was basically as unhappy as me about the cold snap.

Anyway, not that I need any more kitchen gadgets, but I found myself in Lakeland earlier and saw they were selling a folding proofer. I have dreams of having a proper proofing oven one day but, to be honest, that’s a bit ridiculous for a home baker, so the folding proofer proved (no pun intended) to be irresistible, especially as it can be folded for storage, so taking up less space in the kitchen.

I’d read a review about it on some sourdough baking website last year but didn’t realise until today that it had made its way over to the UK. It’s basically a big temperature controlled box that gives bread a nice warm environment to prove in. Ideal for a cold domestic kitchen. I’ll do a full report on it when I’ve put it through its pace.

Post title lyric taken from Public Image Limited – Rise

“You’re a nasty piece of work, aren’t you?”

In my Radio 4 listening days (back when I was doing a long commute), I always enjoyed listening to Eddie Mair presenting PM. It felt to me that he had a good interviewing style that was robust without being hysterically confrontational, as I often felt was the case on the Today programme.

Here’s Eddie Mair, skewering Boris Johnson, while filling in on the Andrew Marr show.

Boris Johnson: a nasty piece of work with designs on leading the nasty party. Seems like a good fit.

Maybe I’ve forgotten the name and the address of everyone I’ve ever known, it’s nothing I regret…

The Guardian has an article consisting of readers’ greatest regret as parents: Our parenting regrets | Life and style | The Guardian.

Here is a selection of readers’ tales of sorrow, embarrassment, time wasted and love left unexpressed.

It’s masterfully compiled, certainly with the ordering of the first two stories. This kind of article can easily be a cheaply cobbled-together compilation of other people’s stories but I get the sense that some proper craftsmanship went into the editing here. I don’t want to spoil it too much so suffice to say I cried a bit.

Predictable post title lyric taken from New Order – Regret

Praise the grammar police…

It’s a linky-type post today. Given the horrific English demonstrated in that opening sentence, it’s only appropriate that I’m linking to a trio of posts on language.

The first article is actually from an American site, The Atlantic: For Whom the Bell Tolls – The inexorable decline of America’s least favorite pronoun.

Coincidentally, this turned up in my Twitter stream not long after Amélie had asked me what ‘whom’ meant, having read it in her new book. Given that she’s only 6, albeit with a ridiculously high reading age, I found it difficult to explain without getting into sentence construction and subjects and objects (not that I’m any real expert in these matters). The Atlantic article seems to think – and rejoice in – the idea that fewer and fewer parents will find themselves getting into the difficulties I did in explaining the difference between who and whom to their children.

The second article is from one my favourite new Twitter friends (the connection being made via my funny sort of fame on the Radcliffe & Maconie show), Laura Bailey, aka @linguist_laura. She’s a linguist (duh) and intimidatingly clever, though fun with it. ((I’m usually terrified whenever I communicate with Laura, lest I make a linguistic mistake that causes her to disown me.)) When a word becomes unacceptable talks about the cycle of derogatory terms, particularly ‘abelist language’.

The third and final article is from The Guardian’s language blog. If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well it were done correctly isn’t a new post but it’s new to me. It’s the opposite of the Atlantic’s article linked to earlier, in that it defends a part of language that is often used incorrectly, this time the subjunctive, arguing that it still has a valuable part to play in English.

Post title lyric taken from Pavement – Transport is Arranged