Angelic Paranoia

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Sleep
Saturday 10th April 2021 5:19 pm

I've sort of mentioned it before, but last autumn I did a Sleep CBT course.

My sleep has been a mess for years, really. I'd wake up really early, regardless of what time I'd been to bed, so I'd end up not getting enough sleep. All the advice about things you should do before bed never made any difference - but then I also had no trouble getting to sleep as soon as I went to bed because I was so tired. I realised I had a warped view of what a good night's sleep was when thinking back to a night when I'd been awake so long I was too hungry to go back to sleep. So as it was getting light (about 5am) I got up and had a bowl of cereal. And then went back to sleep when I went back to bed. The going back to sleep thing is good, but to have got hungry for breakfast I must have been awake for at least an hour before then.

The course involved some interesting maths to say it was six weeks (the week 1 session was at the beginning of week 1, the week 6 session where I was said to have graduated, was at the beginning of week 6). It involved mental techniques and ways to thinking to help you to get (back) to sleep. And set an evening routine that meant I actually watched some telly.

There's a couple of weeks in the middle that are hard because one of the ways to fix your sleep is to not get enough sleep, so you're tired enough to sleep. Once you're used to the idea of sleeping you can increase the amount of sleep you get.

The first night of that was the worst: the night before I'd finally been tired enough to get a good night's sleep. Then I had to stay up later than usual, so I'd gone through tired enough to sleep and back out, so I couldn't get to sleep. I was fine the next day until 2:30pm every part of me was so tired I couldn't move. They do warn you that people find that part of the course tough and they weren't wrong!

But, it worked. I say this having been awake for more than an hour before I'd usually get up and now I am tired. But that's not my usual sleep pattern any more. As the course points out, everyone has a bad night's sleep sometimes. And these days I can often see a reason why I've slept badly


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What I am reading Wednesday
Wednesday 31st March 2021 5:56 pm

What I Just Finished Reading The Century Girls by Tessa Dunlop. I bought this in Kobo's Black Friday Random Week in November sale for £1. And it was a good buy. It's the story of six women all born between 1914 and 1918. They all had different lives growing up and it went through the decades. It was really interesting to read about their experiences and their perspectives on events.

What I'm Currently Reading Olive, Mabel and Me by Andrew Cotter. I saw this on the library ebook site and and borrowed it, but I have no idea what it's about. There's been some stuff about his first videos and what happened after that. And now we're on to a history of his dogs. It's very easy to read, but I don't know how I'd summarise it yet.

What I'm Reading Next
I really should read a book I already own but have not yet read. I'll see what I feel like reading when I've finished this one.


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I have a niece now
Saturday 27th March 2021 4:52 pm

I now have a niece. I can't meet her for a while, but that's not a problem because I don't find small babies that interesting. They don't do anything. (Human) just aren't cute.

Not being able to hold her is a bonus - I met my nephew when he was two weeks old and there is photographic proof of me holding him and neither of us looking comfortable. They're much more interesting when they can do something.

I'm more looking forward to being able to go over there to play with my nephew's Lego. He particularly likes directing other people to build things, and I'm all for that.


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Census
Sunday 21st March 2021 8:39 am

Today is census day. Newscast talked about it a while ago saying why it was important and what it was used for, without mentioning what I would consider to be the most important thing: genealogy.

This year's will be interesting in 101 years time because so many things are different due to the coronavirus. This time is always compared to the war, but there wasn't a census in 1941, as we were a bit busy.

Ten years ago it wasn't obvious which questions you could give multiple answers for. I tried putting in two religions and it accepted it. This time, though, you could only select one. So future genealogists will be looking at me in the census, noting that in ten years a lot of things are still the same, but they'll think my religion has changed until they looked at what I've typed in.

I'm particularly looking forward to future genealogists looking up my sister and my parents in the census. My parents are currently at my sister's to look after my nephew when she has my niece. I wonder if they'll connect their location today with my niece's birth certificate and correctly guess what was going on?


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My routine
Saturday 13th March 2021 11:52 am

It's hard to know what to write when nothing much changes. Even on Zoom chats the answer to what I've been doing is the same as I was doing last week. But I realised I never talked about it on here.

Most of my time is taken up by work (sadly). Usually I'd leave the house at 8:30, work from 9-5:30 with an hour for lunch and get home at 6pm. Now I work from 8am to 4pm with half an hour for lunch. It's so good to finish at 4pm because it feels so early. Still - even though I've bee doing it since summer. I've got my morning routine down to 45 minutes, so I have 15 minutes for a sit down before I start work.

After I finish I eat and go for a walk. Then I do an hour of coding before dinner. After dinner is for catching up on social media/forums/RSS feeds etc.

Most evenings I have something else I need to do eg wash my hair, clean out Merry's wee, go food shopping. Two nights a week I have choir and dancing. This is all the same as before lockdown, except this time I don't go anywhere (except for food shopping).

Weekends used to be busy, although I can't remember what I was doing with them any more! But now I clean the house every other weekend, clean Merry out when it's looking like he needs it, go for longer walks if I have the energy/the weather's nice. I do end up leaving a lot of jobs for the weekends (like blogging, since I was struggling to find time on Wednesdays). And then I spend a whole load of time coding. I will need to spend some time gardening when it's not raining or blowing a gale (my garden gained a lot of weeds over the winter).

And that's what I do with my time. It always seems to go so quickly...


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Watching telly
Saturday 6th March 2021 11:51 am

I am terrible at watching telly. I tape a lot, think I'll get round to it, but somehow the evening's gone and I haven't got to the telly-watching bit. And then a few months ago I started a sleep CBT and one of the things I had to do was to relax for an hour and a half before I go to bed. And I wasn't allowed to read. So I made an effort to get through all the TV I had taped.

Technically speaking I'm not quite there. I have an episode of Cats Countdown, three-quarters of an episode of Hypothetical and a half an episode of The Last Leg on there. But now most of the telly has stopped for Easter (and, really, until September) it won't take me long to get through those (and two of them are from last week).

I want to say I don't know what to watch, but I have some stuff on catch up I'm working through, I want to re-watch Yes, (Prime) Minister because I'm not 100% certain I've seen it all. And a lot of The Bill on DVD. I won't run out.

Although at some point I need to get Disney+ because I haven't seen the last two Star Wars films yet. But that's only free for a week so I have to time that carefully for when I'm sure I have enough time in that week to watch both films. (Although if I wait long enough they'll be on TV eventually)


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Stargazing
Wednesday 24th February 2021 8:02 pm

I had done some stargazing years ago, inspired by Stargazing Live. Last year I finally managed to catch the ISS going over, but generally standing outside in the freezing cold in January learning constellations wasn't as appealing. But then I was inspired by the recent Jupiter an Saturn lining up. I went out to look and could only see one bright dot (Jupiter), but through the binoculars I could see another, less bright dot (Saturn), right beside it.

I got an Amazon gift voucher from work for Christmas and decided to spend it on some decent binoculars for stargazing. The ones I have are cheap and light and good for looking details/people in the player/royal box at tennis matches, but that's about it. That's what I bought them for, so it's not unreasonable.

After loads of research I bought a pair... and then it was cloudy. Every night. Well, I got to the point where I stopped checking and was surprised a couple of times on my way out shopping - and of course it was cloudy when I got back. But late last week we finally got a clear night, and the temperature was above freezing. So I went out and looked at the moon through the binoculars and it was pretty exciting. Handily, the moon was up in the day a couple of times, so I got to see it looking less bright (relative to the rest of the sky).

I assumed at the time that the planets and ISS were the only other things you could see through binculars. The only planet that was up was Mars and it was behind the moon. The other night it had moved away and I discovered that through binoculars that little red dot became... a brighter red dot.

I then wondered if I could see any nebulae, discovered some were in Orion and pointed my binoculars at it... and discovered there were suddenly so many stars in the sky. I have no idea if I saw a nebula or not, I was too distracted! I can't go somewhere away from lights on my own (especially holding a pair of binoculars, that's just asking for them to be stolen) so I've always been happy with whatever stars I can see.

Afterwards I looked up what you can see through binoculars and it's not any details of Mars, it's just too small. But I bookmarked a website that I can check through next time it's a clear night (it's looking good for later this week!). I am really keen to see the ISS through binoculars, but it's hard finding a night when it goes over at a reasonable time, high enough above the horizon and it's a clear night. But it also moves pretty fast, so going to be hard to follow with binoculars.

For anyone interested in Stargazing I recommend the SkyView Lite app. You can hold it up and it'll identify what's in front of it. And you can ask it to find specific objects and it'll direct you to them.


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Merry photos
Wednesday 17th February 2021 7:36 pm

Merry being up in the morning is quite handy for photograph taking with a bit of light. These are from a couple of weeks ago when he ran around the lounge while I worked and didn't go to bed until nearly 10am!

Merry by the skirting board

Merry by the shelf

Merry by the door


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What I am reading Wednesday
Wednesday 10th February 2021 6:06 pm

What I Just Finished Reading
The Secret Political Adviser by Michael Spicer. I get why he's branched out and this was funny, but not as funny as his videos. It just has a different feel to it: in the book he's horrible to the politicians, and is really just as bas as they are, but in his videos it's more like he's put upon and you feel sorry for him.

The Year of Less by Cait Flanders. This was cheap and sounded interesting - and I read the preview and couldn't stop so I had to buy it to read it. It was really interesting. Cait was basically a shopaholic, so decided to stop and go cold turkey - and also do a lot of de-cluttering. And during that year she learnt a lot about herself and why she shopped. It inspired me to do some more decluttering - I thought I'd finished, but it turns out there's always more you can get rid of!

What I'm Currently Reading
My Word is My Bond by Roger Moore. This is his autobiography. I do like reading about other people's lives and this is particularly interesting because he was born in 1927 and the world was a lot different to how it is now.

What I'm Reading Next
After reading The Year of Less I am thinking that I should really not buy any more books until I've read the unread/partially read ones on my ebook reader and taking up space on a bookshelf. Not least because the latter will then free up some room, assuming I don't end up keeping them all. So next I'll read one of those - I don't know which, it depends on what I feel like reading.


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What I am reading Wednesday
Wednesday 3rd February 2021 5:16 pm

I went on an ebook buying spree, because it is just too easy to do. Even though I already have some physical and ebooks to read.

What I Just Finished Reading
The Autobiography of Kathryn Janeway by Una McCormack. I got this because I'd enjoyed the Kirk and Picard autobiographies and Una McCormack's writing. And it was alright, but the basic problem was that I just don't care about Janeway. And at no point during this book did I care. I had been thinking about giving Voyager another chance, but after reading the bits of the book set during that time, and having been reminded of how terrible it was, I am definitely not.

What I'm Currently Reading
The Secret Political Adviser by Michael Spicer. You'll have heard of Michael Spicer - he's the bloke who does videos with political figures like he's talking into an earpiece they're wearing. This book is along the same lines, but with a shadowy organisation that's advising politicians. It's quite amusing, but a different feel from his videos.

What I'm Reading Next
I will probably look at what else on my Kobo I've bought and not read and pick one of those.


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The Persuaders!
Wednesday 27th January 2021 6:05 pm

This is all [info]liadtbunny's fault. A small mention in a post sort of comparing it to The Avengers and the next thing I know I've watched all the episodes (at one a day - there's only 24) and have bought the DVD.

It did seem like The Avengers at the beginning with the Judge in a wheelchair giving them a mission. But he gets up out of the wheelchair and isn't in that many episodes (which is a shame, I'd have loved to have seen more of him being all manipulative). But it's more ridiculous than The Avengers (this is not a complaint). Wikipedia describes it as action comedy, which explains why one of the fight scenes is basically slapstick. In the same way The Avengers aren't avenging anyone, The Persuaders aren't really doing any persuading.

It's all about two rich men, played by Roger Moore (pre-Bond) and Tony Curtis. After being brought together by the Judge they investigate criminals and megalomaniacs, sometimes by assignment, often by accident. Also they become best friends who always have a go at each other. And there are fist fights and car chases. The plotters generally make everything far too complicated, so it's not a surprise they get caught. It's good to watch when you don't have too much of a brain and a good idea not to try and think it all through logically.

And this is the early 1970s, so all the car scenes have a background that is clearly not there. And sometimes clearly not right. And on one occasion managed to make the car almost disappear. It's endearingly old-school.

There's an episode with fencing in it, albeit sabre. But they were (more or less) properly fencing (followed later on by a combination of fencing and fist fighting). I felt a bit sorry for Tony Curtis after it because he was so sweaty afterwards - he had been properly kitted up and wearing a thick jumper. He must have been roasting.

Also guest stars all sorts of people who were around in that era. I was excited to spot Inspector Wexford. Richard Vernon made me reach for IMDB because I couldn't place him. I was thinking Yes, Minister, but when I scrolled through his filmography I managed to completely miss his entry for Yes, Prime Minister and Yes, Minister, and spot right below the Yes, Minister entry, that he was Slartibartfast in Hitchhiker's. It was days later when I realised he was Sir Desmond.

So, I enjoyed it. It was fun.


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Steps to clean out hamster wee
Saturday 16th January 2021 9:02 pm
  1. Change water
  2. Shake sand bath/hamster bathroom and pick out lumps
  3. Open food box
  4. When hamster appears at door of his house, offer him some food. When he sniffs it, but turns his nose up at it offer him the piece of veg you've been saving for him from dinner and is right by his cage so he can smell it
  5. Open lid of house and watch as hamster takes veg to his ensuite and sits there to eat it
  6. Wait for hamster to move
  7. Pick up handfuls of substrate, put it to your nose and sniff it to see if it smells of wee
  8. Regret it
  9. Remember that you made a mental note last time not to sniff so hard or put it so close to nose
  10. Make mental note not to do that next time
  11. Fill nappy sack with smelly/wet substrate
  12. Wash hands
  13. Return to find hamster sitting in space where en suite was
  14. Throw fresh substrate on hamster
  15. Watch hamster go to bed
  16. Go to put lid on
  17. Find hamster has got out of bed and is sitting on edge of house walls
  18. Offer hamster food
  19. Hamster takes food
  20. Hamster wants more food
  21. Give hamster an entire day's worth of food
  22. Watch hamster add food to pantry/en suite
  23. Put house lid back on
  24. Put everything away and wash hands again
  25. Return to find hamster has investigated the food that magically appeared in his bowl and is now disappearing down the top entrance of his house, giving you a good view of his balls

Merry in his house


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What I am reading Wednesday
Wednesday 30th December 2020 4:46 pm

What I Just Finished Reading
The Chalet School and Guernsey by Katherine Bruce. When I started this book I had been assuming it would involve them leaving Guernsey, established that maybe it wasn't and was a bit disappointed. Then we had a few chapters of just ordinary school stuff and I decided that actually that was what I wanted in the book. So then it immediately turned into them deciding to leave Guernsey now, actually, which I was reading at the same time as the government were bringing in stricter measures in some parts of the country, and it then I really wanted to be reading just a school story. I finished it anyway, since there were only a couple of chapters to go, but it was a bit of an odd book, feeling like neither one thing nor the other.

What I'm Currently Reading
How Was It For You? by Virginia Nicholson. This is about women in the 1960s. It goes by year and themes and I'm currently on 1964. There are just so many things starting that we recognise as modern - it's such a different decade from the 1950s. It's been particularly interesting having read Shopgirls, so I can relate it to the changes in shopping and consumerism that happen around that time. I thought I was mostly interested in the 20s-50s, but there's loads here that I'd like to know more about. Handily there are some footnotes suggesting books that go into more detail about some of these things - one of which I already own!

What I'm Reading Next
Funny You Should Ask by QI Elves. This is explanations of ordinary things you don't (necessarily) think to ask, inspired by the questions asked at the Why Workshop on Zoe Ball's breakfast program. I've enjoyed the Why Workshop and the elves have been publicising this a lot with extracts, so I know I'll like it and find it interesting.


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Live comedy in 2020
Wednesday 23rd December 2020 8:02 pm

I like to go and see live comedy. I had quite a bit in the diary for this year, which quickly got cancelled from March. Although then I saw more than I thought, as they included live screenings. Here's all the ones I 'went to' that required a ticket:

Ardal O'Hanlan
Infinite Monkey Cage
Jack Dee
Mark Watson
Mock the Week
The News Quiz
No Such Thing as a Fish
Sandi Toksvig

Technically I went to No Such Thing as a Fish twice, but one of them clashed with something else, so I watched it later. But I still paid for it.

Last year I went to 12 things, so two-thirds of that isn't bad. I liked being able to go over Zoom because then it doesn't matter where they are in relation to where I am.

I currently have three in the diary for next year, all of which have moved date at least once. And one for 2022.


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What I am reading Wednesday
Wednesday 16th December 2020 7:31 pm

What I Just Finished Reading
The Secret by Lorna Hill. I was very excited when GGBP re-published this. It's 14th in the Sadlers Wells series, of which I own the first twelve. The last two are pretty much impossible to find and when you do find them they're about £100. So I was excited to read this one. It's pretty much the same as the others, which is not a surprise, but I enjoyed it. There's an afterword where Lorna Hill's daughter Vicki talks about what they discussed would be in the next book, to resolve this one. Which sounds like it would have been a good book.

The Kingdom by Jess Rothenburg. I thought from the blurb on the back that this was a sci-fi murder mystery and I was sort of right. It starts off in the present with Anna being tried for murder and then goes back to the past, from Anna's point of view, leading up to the trial - with some of it interspersed with the past narrative. What's really interesting is that she's a hybrid - looks human but is robot, ish - and lives as a Disney Princess in Disneyland (just without the word Disney). I really enjoyed it and went looking for more by the same author, but she's a new author and has only written one other book and that's a YA romance. I will be keeping a look out for more by her in the future.

What I'm Currently Reading
The Chalet School in Guernsey by Katherine Bruce. This arrived and work's been crazy busy, so it's just the right amount of don't need a brain to read now. I have only just started it, but it's standard Chalet School stuff. I'm just waiting for the Chalet School to need to move off Guernsey. Which I assume will happen in this book - right near the start they're talking about whether France will fall.

What I'm Reading Next
How Was it For You? by Virginia Nicholson. My Chanukah present about women in the 1960s. I am looking forward to it, despite it being a big, thick book.


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Merry in my lounge
Thursday 26th November 2020 7:08 pm

This is Merry telling me he wants to come out and play

Merry on the bars

Theoretically it would allow me to get better photos of him because he's not always in a dark corner, but that does require him to stay still, which doesn't happen a lot. He likes running around very fast and trying to climb things, even if they're unclimbable (like the wall).

Merry with a crocheted cat

He has not yet learnt that if he gets up earlier he can run around for longer. I've tried convincing him, but he really likes his bed in the evenings. He does a very good puppy dog expression when I put him back in his cage so I can go to bed.

Merry sad


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What I am reading Wednesday
Wednesday 18th November 2020 8:14 pm

What I Just Finished Reading
Shopgirls by Pamela Cox and Annabel Hobley. I really enjoyed it. It was interesting to see how things changed over the decades. You can gradually see how we got to where we are today. I was particularly interested in the bit where it talked about people working in the shops dealing with ration cards during the war, because I've only had heard it from the consumer's perspective before.

What I'm Currently Reading
The Bettany Twins and the Chalet School by Helen Barber. Which is mainly about Maeve and Maurice, but also about the Bettany family. It's pretty standard Chalet School stuff, but there's also something nefarious that Dick's involved with and I'm looking forward to finding out what that's all about.

What I'm Reading Next
The Kingdom by Jess Rothenburg. My library did a thing where you can tell them what sort of things you like and they pick out some books for you. I interpreted that as they'll find me things in the genres I like, similar to the authors I like, that is new to me. They interpreted it as they'll give me books by the authors I like. But I ticked the box to get a surprise, so that's this book. From the blurb on the back it looks like a sci-fi murder mystery, which sounds like my sort of thing. So I'm looking forward to reading it (and not looking at any other information about it in case I put myself off the idea of reading something new).


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Cutting my hair
Wednesday 11th November 2020 8:54 pm

I hate going to hairdressers. This is why I have long hair - I only have to get it cut every six months (plus the hairdresser said that in order to get my hair looking good and suiting me while short I'd have to put stuff in it, thus negating the time-saver of having short hair). I hate that I have to sit still for ten minutes and then it costs me the best part of £20 (and I go to the cheap hairdressers where you queue rather than make appointments). And it annoys me that it's cheaper for men, regardless of the length of their hair.

And getting it cut in the summer would have been tricky with a mask on (they can't usually cut my hair with my glasses on). Fortunately, I had mine cut in February, so it didn't get to the point where it was getting too long to deal with until August. At which point I watched a load of videos on YouTube. And then didn't cut it until October.

At first I thought hairdressers were the people to watch, but they're focussed on doing it perfectly, which I'm never going to be able to do (they can always tell I cut my own fringe). And they're less about how to cut your own hair.

But there are people who already cut their own hair and they were the best people to go to for that. And I now understand why you have to have your hair really well combed and why hairdressers do some cutting vertically.

The mistake I made was trying it after I'd washed my hair and showered. By the time I was dressed my hair was too curly to tell if it was straight before I cut it. But on the plus side, I couldn't tell if it wasn't straight after I cut it. The idea is that you cut it, then finesse it. I did the cutting part, it looked just as good as before I cut it, just shorter, so I left it at that.

At least it was easy and free. And definitely something I'm going to do more (I'll need to cut it again before spring, for a start). Maybe I'll have to go to the hairdresser sometime, but I like this cutting it myself lark.


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The OC
Thursday 5th November 2020 9:29 pm

Back when I finished watching all of Whose Line Is it Anyway? and considering what to watch, I came across the OC, thought, "I can't remember how it started", watched the first episode and then all the rest. All 92 (42 minutes) episodes.

I would describe it as being about a teenager from the poor part of California who ends up living with his lawyer in the rich part of California, and becomes part of the lawyer's family. Except it's really about a lot of other things and not enough of that.

I saw it when it was originally on, in the early 2000s. I definitely have a different perspective on it now. I'm now closer to the age of the adults in it, and am much more interested in what's going on with them and a lot less interested in what's going on with the kids.

It also really doesn't require a brain. In fact, removal of brain improves it no end. I ended up watching a lot of it during the heatwave - at that point I had exactly the right amount of brain required.

However, I still had enough brain to catch the glaring continuity errors. Like the main child characters are definitely 16 in season 1 and they're in their junior year at high school. In season 3, two years later, they're in their senior year and one character turns 18. Season 2 has prom. I've watched enough American TV to know how the years are numbered and there isn't a junior and a half.

Another character is stated to be 11 years old, two years previously. And then she turns 15. And drives a car. Also played by a different actor, but not the first character to have more than one actor.

It does have more gay characters than I remember US TV having in that time period (three, one of whom is in more than two episodes). But it does have terrible mental health. Which is probably also how things were in those days.

But season 4 has a rabbit.


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What I am reading Wednesday… on a Thursday
Thursday 29th October 2020 6:14 pm

I was going to post this last night, but my RSS feeds had gone off the idea of updating. As a result I spent the evening installing a new version and then working through every feed's ~25 new feeds to work out which ones I'd actually read. And deleting some feeds I'd forgotten I had because they hadn't been updated in years.

What I Just Finished Reading
Doctor Who: The Day She Saved the Doctor. I read the first three stories in this so long ago that I can't remember anything about it. I'd got to the last one, struggled with the first page and read something else. My Kobo told me I only had about 15 minutes left to read on it, so I thought I might as well read it and then it's read.

And I don't know why I struggled with the first page before because I read the whole story in one go. It was an interesting one about Bill buying a jacket and then crazy things happen.

What I'm Currently Reading
Shopgirls by Pamela Cox and Annabel Hobley. I'm currently still pretty much at the start of women working in shops. They're still doing 10 hours a day, all standing up, for very little pay, and society is scandalized by the idea of people enjoying shopping. I already knew about their terrible working conditions at the start, in the Victorian era, but I don't know about it changing, other than it obviously does. So I'm looking forward to discovering more about that as I go through the book.

What I'm Reading Next
The Bettany Twins and the Chalet School by Helen Barber, which arrived through my letterbox recently. Although every time I see the title I think it's about Madge and Dick and am disappointed to remember it's actually about Peggy & Rix and Meave & Maurice. Which didn't stop me buying it and won't stop me enjoying it either, I expect.


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