Tags: book, cycling, faster, michael hutchinson, review
Well, I was nervous about reading this. I love Hutchinson’s first two books to distraction*: they’re warm, funny and fascinating, and they seamlessly integrate factual explanations with autobiographical detail in a way that is deft and unobtrusive. It’s only when you read other books** that jump awkwardly between personal anecdote and technical or historical exposition that you realise how skilled he is at this.
Faster, though, threatened something different from the familiar ‘year in the life’ of The Hour and Missing The Boat. A treatise on physiology, technology and aerodynamics, in the service of finding out what makes some people ride faster than others? This was going to make me feel stupid, wasn’t it.
Happily, it didn’t (well, no more than life in general does). The book is detailed, and packed with revelations – I was murmuring ‘Gosh!’ at something every other page – but it wears its scholarship lightly; I can see I’ll be going back to it when I forget what lactate threshold is, or the relationship between turbulent and laminar flow, or the exact definition of ‘raw grunt’. No, really. It’s all there, but even dim arts graduates like me can understand it.
The book focuses on the elite end of the spectrum; this isn’t a training manual, or a cookbook of tips for the average Jo(e). Instead, it’s an absorbing dissection of what, exactly, makes a pro a pro, and a curious insight into a combination of physiology and mindset that is foreign to most of us. Before I started reading, my conceptualisation of what differentiated Hutchinson and his ilk from the likes of me was along the lines of this exchange from Star Trek: Into Darkness:
Faster explains how this is both true and not true; how you can be naturally endowed with some crucial characteristics and not others, and how modern training, nutrition, psychology and equipment tackle the challenge of making up the deficits and exploiting the advantages.
To my relief, Hutchinson hasn’t abandoned his trademark style – self-deprecating, sometimes acerbic, but human and warm. He’s also very funny. The personal tales I loved in the previous two books are still included:
Here, they offer an glimpse into the mind of a man who’s found, almost by chance, something he’s really, really good at, and has committed the full force of his obsessive nature and natural geekiness to making the most of it. At times it’s almost spiritual: I’m reminded of Liddell’s lines in Chariots of Fire, ‘I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.’ Hutchinson’s not ascribing his talents to divine intention, but some of what he says has a similar ring: ‘it’s what you’re for.’
As a fairly rubbish bike rider, my approach to training is to try not to get distracted by sheep, and remember I’m supposed to be trying a bit harder than usual. I turn up to races with the fervent hope that I might eventually beat that bloke with the mesh insert in his shorts. Hutchinson’s attitude is so alien to me that he and I might as well be from different planets***. Nevertheless, his book manages to make the monomaniacal pursuit of faster at this level seem both entirely understandable and completely bonkers. So, somehow, I think it’s fulfilled its purpose.
- Faster, by Michael Hutchinson. Bloomsbury, published 27/03/ 2014.
* I stealth-market these books by snorting involuntarily at them on trains. More than once, someone’s leant over to ask me what’s so funny, so it works.
** List available on request: to paraphrase Reg in Life of Brian, I should know, I’ve wallowed in a few.
***I also found myself wondering about living with this kind of obsession. Sean Yates’ autobiography famously includes a chapter by his ex-wife; with any luck, Hutchinson’s partner is negotiating a book deal of her own.
Tags: 2013, bdipc, crushes, cycling, humour, martyn irvine, race, racing, snogging, track world championships
The first thing that made me laugh till I cried when I joined twitter was bangable dudes in procycling. Minx and her collaborators indelicately scrutinised the male peloton, staying just this side of NSFW and making fangirls choke on their cornflakes in the process. If you’ve never heard of BDIPC, I suggest you go and acquaint yourself with it before reading on; you could start with this fairly typical example.
Ready? OK. BDIPC’s very American in style (at least, to my English ears); I found myself wondering how an English version would sound. Then Martyn Irvine did his astonishing double-medal-winning feat at the Worlds in 2013, and I suddenly had a subject. I wrote this quickly, in a sweat, a year ago, and it made me laugh*. And after Martyn’s heroic efforts in the scratch and points races over the last couple of days, it seems relevant all over again.
Hello there, from across the pond! We English girls like a toothsome, athletic chap as much as anyone, so we’re enormous BDIPC fans. But all this upfront talk of bangability still has us a bit, er, gosh. Well. You know. We may be right up there in the top five Nations Who Like Falling Out Of Taxis At 3am Without Any Knickers On, but actually talking about, er, the, ah, you know, the ACT? Well. It has us groping for words.
And of course, well before we get to the, um, act, we have to make the unsuspecting boy aware of us. We’re not too good at striding up to people, locking eyes with them and suggesting, well, golly. How can we do that, when we’re too shy even to tell our best friends?
Picture me, long ago, skirt waistband rolled over as soon as I was out of sight of the house, school-illegal plastic sandals on my feet, gripped by a new, crippling crush on a sixth former. Best Mate is DESPERATE to know. ‘Who? WHO?’ ‘I can’t. He’ll see me looking at him.’ We cook up a subtle plan: as he saunters by, I’ll turn to her and utter a prearranged sentence. We roam the school corridors at breaktime, giggling. Finally he slouches into view, tall and wan, hair falling studiedly over his face. As we draw level, I ask her, casually, ‘How did your mother’s barbecue go last night?’ Best Mate whips round, looks the poor lad in the eye and exclaims, ‘HIM?!’
So, of course English girls swoon over pretty Euro cyclists, and we’re jolly keen on those Americans who look so delightful all covered in mud. But sometimes, we hanker for a fellow who knows where we’re coming from. Someone who’ll laugh at our jokes, get on with our brothers, and who might even be nervous and cack-handed, like us, when it comes to chatting to people they, er, oh, you know. People they LIKE. You’re making us blush, now.
Martyn Irvine’s storming performance at the Track World Championships, bringing him two medals in the space of an hour, dragged our attention right away from the crossword. Golly! There was a chap with GRIT. And an Irishman, too! Every English girl likes to imagine she’s got a bit of Celt in her. Transfixed, we watched him digging ever deeper, holding on longer than we dared hope, finding the reserves for that last, game-changing push, and finally bringing off the impossible. Our teacups wobbled in their saucers. There he stood, bathed in the post-race glow, pushing his flop of ginger hair back from his glistening brow, his diffident, delightful attitude matched perfectly by his gentle Northern Irish brogue. And as a nation, we leapt from the sofa, strewing pussycats and Hobnobs left and right, and declared, ‘HOW DID YOUR MOTHER’S BARBECUE GO LAST NIGHT?!’
* I offered it to Minx as a guest post but she declined**. I’m still utterly devastated by this.
** She did say it was ‘hilarious’, though. [wipes eyes] [blows nose]
Tags: adverbs, british national corpus, corpus analysis, cycling, language, linguistics, merrily, oxford english dictionary
In this newspaper article, a motorist describes a cyclist as ‘merrily cycling along’ on the M25.
This led @Doctor_Hutch to wonder
I'm confused. What's difference between 'cycling' and 'merrily cycling'? Which one have I been doing all these years? independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-n…—
Michael Hutchinson (@Doctor_Hutch) February 25, 2014
Right. The motorist could mean the cyclist was riding along going ‘Hallo, birds! Hallo, trees!’ I’ve done this myself in the past, though it seems a bit unlikely on the M25. Was the motorist (dare we say it) taking the mick? We might suspect this, but could we be sure?
I put my linguist hat on (it looks a bit like this ô) and got to work.
First stop, the OED. I love the OED. If you have a library card from pretty much anywhere, its riches are yours for the absorbing.
Anyway. According to the OED, ‘merrily’ has more than one sense. There are some fairly literal ones:
- With exuberant gaiety, joyously; cheerfully, happily. Also, in early use (esp. of song or speech): †pleasantly, agreeably; brightly (obs.).
- With alacrity; in a brisk and energetic manner.
There’s an obsolete one:
- † Jokingly, facetiously; wittily, cleverly. Obs.
And there’s a disparaging one:
4. Blithely, heedlessly; with disregard of possible consequences or future implications.
Senses 1-3 have been in use since the 1370s. Sense 4 is a more recent addition: the first citation is from 1906.*
So does the motorist mean the cyclist is riding along joyously? Or is he implying blithe and heedless disregard of possible consequences? Now I was wearing my linguist hat, I wondered whether we could tell from the construction whether sense 4 was intended. Or do we need to be there – to hear intonation, maybe? Do we have to rely on clues from the context (a particularly joy-inducing section of the M25 – South Mimms to Potters Bar?)?
I went off to search the British National Corpus.**
My search gave me 160 sentences using the word ‘merrily’ which had been spoken or written by English speakers in natural contexts (i.e. no-one sat them down and told them what to say/write).
I mucked around for a LONG time looking at the meanings of verbs that co-occur with ‘merrily’, finding out all sorts of interesting-but-fairly-tangential things (e.g. that it’s frequently used to describe how people talk – people are always answering merrily, calling out merrily, chatting merrily, etc – and also that fires blaze, burn and crackle merrily quite a lot, and things tinkle, ring, whistle and chirp merrily (and no doubt quite irritatingly) too.) Verbs describing movement are often used with ‘merrily’ – people swing, skip about, dance and sail along merrily.
I also looked at which of the OED’s senses ‘merrily’ was being used in. (I ignored sense 3, as it’s obsolete, and rolled senses 1 & 2 into one, so I was just looking at whether ‘merrily’ was being used literally or not.) There was some overlap between these groupings and verb meanings – ‘merrily’ is generally used in a literal sense with verbs describing people’s speech and the sounds things make, and generally in sense 4 (non-literally or mick-takingly) with non-action, more abstract verbs like ‘accumulate’, ‘divvy up’, ‘go about your business’). But usage with verbs of movement (where ‘cycling’ should show up) followed no clear pattern.
So far, so frustrating. Then suddenly, in the shower, I thought: What about the placement of the adverb? Many adverbs are pretty flexible about where they go in a sentence. You can cycle merrily, or merrily cycle.
I ran downstairs, dripping, did the analysis, and you won’t believe this, but it’s the answer. Simply put:
- If you put ‘merrily’ after the verb, you’re being literal.
- If you put ‘merrily’ before the verb, you’re taking the mick.
So if someone says you were ‘cycling merrily along the M25’, you’re all right (if a little misguided). If they describe you as ‘merrily cycling along the M25’, you’re not.
This works for 80 out of the 93 examples I ended up analysing. (Many of the others are phrasal verbs***, whose syntactic behaviour is less predictable. I may go back and look at them, as I like phrasal verbs: in fact I’m a bit obsessed with them, to the extent I wrote an academic paper on them).****
I was almost too scared to go back and look at the original article. But there it is: ‘merrily cycling’. (I did actually leap from my chair with both arms in the air shouting YES! when I saw this.) So the motorist *was* taking the mick. Yeah, yeah, I know. Like we’re surprised.
So, on your way. Merrily. The lot of you.
* This makes sense, of course, as it leans heavily on everyone already knowing the more literal uses of ‘merrily’, and understanding that it is now being used to create a different effect.
** If you want to search the BNC, I suggest using the Lancaster University interface ; you can sign up for free, and search the database in all sorts of exciting ways. As I only got 160 hits, I did my analysis by hand, but there are plenty of ways of doing clever searches with query syntax. Let me know if you want to do this – I’ve got LOTS of handouts.
*** Phrasal verbs (also called multi-word verbs, particle verbs, and a couple of other things I can’t remember) are combinations of a verb plus something that looks like a preposition, but isn’t. They’re distinguished from true verb + prepositional phrase constructions by having a non-literal meaning (i.e. the meaning is more than the sum of its parts). So ‘run up the stairs’ is verb + prepositional phrase; ‘run up a dress’ is a phrasal verb, ‘run up’, plus a noun phrase. Other examples: ‘look up (in a dictionary)’, ‘look after’, ‘think over’, etc.
**** There are also a lot of repetitions of ‘Ding dong merrily on high’ and ‘Row, row, row your boat, merrily…’ which I ignored.
Tags: bizarre side projects, favourites, reading, voices
We were chatting idly, yesterday, about how we don’t know what anyone sounds like on twitter. Despite my protestations that everyone sounds like Benedict Cumberbatch in my head, and I’m quite happy with this, people started describing their accents to me. A couple of people (including @_BLIXA_) said they would audioboo themselves reading something.
And I thought, what a lovely idea. You record yourself reading a short text you love – a poem, a bit from a play, a chunk of a novel, a tech article from Cycling Weekly, whatever floats your boat – and I’ll put it on my new blog, and we all get to hear it. So not only do we know what you sound like, we get a little insight into something that’s special for you.
So here’s the newest of my bizarre side projects: text to speech. I’ve uploaded something, and so has @spandelles; I hope you’ll feel inspired to dig your favourite book out, and submit* something too.
* instructions on how to submit your recording are on the new blog
Tags: complaining about free stuff, hell, idiocy, internet, tech support, technology
How not to spend your morning:
1. Idly think ‘Oh, so much STUFF. I’m drowning in STUFF. How can I organise it all?’
2. Someone tweets about wonderful new online stuff-organisey thing (WNOSOT) that has changed their actual LIFE.
3. Google it. Wow! Looks cool.
4. Watch cheeky, peppy, ‘How it works! Look! So easy!’ video with jolly whistling on soundtrack.
5. Realise that, despite featuring woman on a bike and several dogs, cheeky, peppy, ‘How it works! Look! So easy!’ video doesn’t actually tell you how WNOSOT works at all.
6. Oh well! Sign up anyway.
7. Sign-up attempts send you straight back to ‘Sign up for WNOSOT right now! So easy!’ page.
8. Try different browser. Same problem.
9. Try different password. Aha!
10. Think crossly that they could TELL you they don’t like passwords with alphanumeric characters, even though the WHOLE of the rest of the internet requires these, even tweetadailypictureofanotter.com .
11. Rejoice! You have WNOSOT account. Wonder what to do now.
12. Download browser extension. Looks like it worked, but you have to restart to see.
13. Restart computer. Make cup of tea while it considers shutting down.
14. Computer boots up. It worked! Add some random stuff to your WNOSOT account. Hehee!
15. Think ‘Ah! But most of the time I need to add things from my phone.’ Peruse list of apps.
16. Find third-party app that looks like it might work with Windows phone.
17. Search for it on Marketplace. Doesn’t exist.
18. Try another three. Find one that exists.
19. Click ‘install’. Windows Live! login fail.
20. Log in from computer. Get five captchas wrong while Windows Live! makes ‘DUH!’ faces at you.
21. Finally get captcha right. Windows Live! promises confirmation code.
22. Another cup of tea while you wait.
23. Carrier pigeon delivers confirmation code! Reset password.
24. Log in on phone. App installs! Do happy dance!
25. Open app. Cryptic set of functions. No instructions. Hmm.
26. Open random webpage, hoping list of options has miraculously changed to include ‘Add this page to WNOSOT!’ Nope.
27. Check top of page. Little icon or something? Nope.
28. Try desktop version. Nope.
29. Search online for app instructions. Nope.
30. Email from WNOSOT. ‘We’re so excited you’ve signed up for WNOSOT! It’s so easy!’ Realise with sinking heart that the only way you can use WNOSOT is to cut and paste URLs and email them to your account.
31. Find yourself whistling jolly tune from cheeky, peppy, ‘How it works! Look! So easy!’ video.
32. Locate large pair of wire cutters and sever internet connection. Go and read book.
Tags: biking, crushes, cycling, fantasies, humour, procycling, racing, valentine's day
Warning: This post contains scarily bad fan art*. Readers of a nervous disposition may wish to look away now.
I know, I know. You watch cycling because it’s the toughest sport on earth. You admire procyclists’ athletic prowess, their immense tactical nous, their superhuman ability to suffer. Skinsuits are the sensible aerodynamic choice, and leg shaving is merely practical. It never crosses your mind that the peloton is made up of hot young men and women at the pinnacle of physical fitness, honed muscles straining beneath the merest wisp of lycra, sweat illuminating the maps of bronzed forearms, mouths open and brows furrowed in the intense peak of the sprint. You buy Cycling Weekly for the articles.
I believe you. I really do. This blogpost is not for you. No, this is for the rest of us, the mere mortals, who take part in serious discussions about team transfer rumours and technical innovations while secretly googling ‘Matti Breschel beach’.
Happily, you need hide your immoral thoughts no longer. As I revealed exclusively last week, proper, full-on crushes have deep psychological significance and may serve up to three (3) important purposes. But even transient, fickle, mildly diverting fantasies can tell us interesting things about ourselves. Read on to find out what your cycling fantasy says about YOU.
Perfect, designer-stubbled, red-carpet-ready Fabs is the ladies’ choice. While he never puts a foot wrong professionally, Cancellara’s tweets in his own personal English-Swiss German hybrid, Fabianese, hint at a kooky inner life. You like a man with hidden depths: you’ll insist it’s movie-star looks that attract you, but really you long for a soulmate who’ll admire your Hama Bead creations and help you write Star Trek-Sherlock crossover fanfic.
You probably also lust after: Kristian House. Dr Who.
Dominant but magnanimous, quietly confident, inscrutable, Marianne is the stateswoman of the peloton. You yearn for firm but fair leadership: a woman who’ll impose her way on you absolutely, but without causing conflict. Maybe while wearing leather.
You probably also lust after: Lizzie Armitstead. Birgitte from Borgen.
That diminutive, boyish exterior barely veils his wildly ambitious, supremely confident core. Perfectly polite until extremely provoked, Mark is boy, gent, and trained assassin all rolled into one. You’re drawn to men who know what they want, and are utterly persuaded they can get it. And who can assemble an AK-47 in fifteen seconds, blindfold.
You probably also lust after: Daniel Craig. Moriarty.
Gorgeous, giggly Laura, the girl next door who’ll walk your dog and tear your legs off and sprint until she pukes. Your desire for Laura expresses your inner turmoil: the contrast between how you seem, and how you know you really are. You long for a woman who’ll push you to extraordinary heights, who doesn’t know when to stop, who’ll demand the ultimate from you. And then make you a cup of tea and laugh at how you’ve gone all red in the face.
You probably also lust after: Laure from Spiral. Molly from Sherlock.
Lovely, diffident, self-deprecating Martyn, with his gingery hair and his pitiless killer instinct and his habit of making mincemeat of his rivals. He’s the poster boy for your desire to overcome your self-doubt, stay focused through the ups and downs of fortune, and discover your own inner grit. Or perhaps it’s just the Northern Irish accent. Say ‘now’, again, Martyn. Mmmm.
You probably also lust after: Colin Morgan. Dr McCartney from Green Wing.
Steeped in nostalgic longing, you’d really rather go back to the days when men were men and shorts were short and TVs had dials and Eddy bossed the race, hair bouncing like a matinee idol, while his competitors did struggleface under damp curls. Modern life is a challenge for you, but your romantic nature allows you to see the best in people and imagine them as heroes of less complicated times.
You probably also lust after: Philippe Petit. James Dean. Audrey Hepburn. A young Harrison Ford.
You’re an individual, ploughing your lonely furrow through life. One (wo)man, swimming upstream against the tide of popular opinion. You pride yourself on seeing beyond the surface to the unique charm buried deep within. You’ll start a fight in an empty room, and like nothing better than baiting innocent bloggers until they pop. Oh, hold on. OK, you had me there. Very funny. Ha ha.
You probably also ‘lust after’: Michael Gove. Rod Liddle. Nurse Ratched.
* My excuse for the scarily bad fan art is that I wanted pictures, but I didn’t want to get into trouble for nicking them. And once I’d drawn the sketches, they made me laugh so much I couldn’t see, so I had to include them. I’m sorry, Laura. I really am.
Tags: aspiration, Benedict Cumberbatch, bonding, crush, crushes, distraction, fear, friendship, guilt, humour, infatuation, John Simm, shame
Who’s your crush? Go on. You can tell me.
If you won’t, it’s probably because you’re suffering from a) guilt b) fear or c) shame*. Lie on the couch. I’ll address these in turn.
Guilt. There’s plenty of guilt associated with crushes, not least because you should be working instead of scrolling through whatareyouwearingBenedict.tumblr.com and cooking up elaborate fantasies about meeting John Simm ENTIRELY by chance in the station pub in Huddersfield. Your partner’s getting grumpy at the little involuntary moans you emit while watching House, and at being dragged off to yet another book signing, even with the promise of Pizza Express afterwards. So you feel guilty.
Fear. This chap thinks you’re a stalker if you have a crush, and you’re a sad sack who should get a life. What if everyone else thinks that, too? What if the crushee finds out, and gets a restraining order? Most importantly, what if everyone starts pointing and laughing when you talk to her/ him? You fear being found out.
Shame. Aren’t you a bit old for signed photos and giggling? We think of crushes as a teenage thing, and yes, some of us ARE eternally stuck at that point in development where we were convinced no-one was going to fancy us back EVER, and spent our days scribbling feverishly in diaries and trying to get the phone extension to stretch into our bedroom so we could shut the door and discuss what he meant when he said ‘OK, see you’, what did ‘see’ really mean, did it mean he liked us or was he just being polite, or was he playing with us because he KNEW, or what? And however much we kidded ourselves we wanted something to happen, we were relieved when it didn’t, because we could stay safe from the scary mess of a real relationship. Now we’re grown-ups, we’re supposed to put all this behind us. We read edifying literature and watch Newsnight and listen to classical music and do Proper Relationships. So we’re ashamed of our crushes.
These are thinking errors.
Guilt: As long as you’re not driving obsessively round your crush’s training routes in the hope (s)he’ll have a mechanical in a hailstorm and need a lift, you’re not hurting anyone. And everyone needs a screen break.
Fear: Not only are most of us far too lazy to be effective stalkers, we HAVE lives and families and jobs and stuff. We know the difference between fantasy and reality, thanks very much, and frankly fantasy is often MUCH better, so why would we want to conflate the two?
Shame: Relax. It’s not really about him/ her, is it. George Clooney said to Benedict Cumberbatch on the subject of how to deal with half the internet wanting to sleep with him, ‘It’s so much about projection.’ (I’ll just give you a moment to ponder George and Benedict having a little heart-to-heart. Let me know when you’ve finished.) We don’t know George, or Benedict, or John Simm. They probably cut their toenails into the sink, and whine about taking the rubbish out, and talk over the questions in University Challenge. (Actually, I happen to know Benedict is utterly perfect, but anyway.) A little fantasy about how we’d like them to be, and how we’d like to be, passes the time on a rainy afternoon, and exercises the brain more than watching Bargain Hunt. Moreover, crushes can serve important purposes.
The important purposes of crushes
1. Bonding. This might be the most important purpose of all. Ever since I prowled the school with my best friend at lunchtime looking for that mod in the sixth form, I’ve built friendships around shared secrets. In a minute, I’m going to DM someone in mock agony about a crush who’s mysteriously stopped talking to me. Does he suspect something? Is it weird that his girlfriend started following me on twitter? Is there any way I could reasonably entice him to the station pub in Huddersfield? And she’ll DM me back about how she’s gone off her crush, no, really, she has, since he said that thing about you-know-who, it’s OVAH, oh, but did you see that picture of him on the turbo, with his arms and everything?
2. Distraction. Being an adult can be pretty terrifying. It’s not just about avoiding doing your expenses; some of my most vivid and absorbing crushes have coincided with tough times. Trying to get pregnant. Feeling isolated and incompetent with a tiny baby. Hating my job. Off work with stress, I disappeared into a crush for a couple of months; I couldn’t bring myself to talk to anyone face-to-face, but I had real and imaginary conversations with him. (OK, the imaginary stuff wasn’t just conversations. You know. Come on. It’s pre-watershed.) Not having to deal with life for a bit while you have what @VecchioJo calls ‘a proper think’ about your crush gives your brain room to decompress a little. And when the crisis passes, often the crush does, too.
3. Aspiration. Think about mancrushes: avowedly heterosexual men suddenly going a bit silly at the sight of Thor Hushovd. There are many possible explanations, but a simple one is that admiration takes different forms, and it can be hard to work out which form someone evokes in us. Do we want to bang them, befriend them, or be them? (Channel 5 can have that one, for free.) I have mild crushes on an array of brilliant writers. (They mostly make me weep with laughter, too; this has long been an effective way to get me into bed.) I type obscure jokes, and sweat, waiting to see if they’re reciprocated. I live in hope that they’ll read my writing and laugh. One insomniac night, it struck me that they were, simply, what I wanted to be**; if I could imagine their approval, maybe this meant my dream of doing something similar wasn’t completely unattainable after all.
So I’m not ready to give my crushes up, just yet. When my life is sorted out and I’ve achieved my dreams and I have perfect confidence and an unshakeable sense of myself, then I’ll give up. Probably. At least, until they bring back Green Wing.
* or d) you genuinely don’t have one, which is too weird to contemplate
** I know this is crashingly obvious, but it came as a blinding insight to me. Call me slow.
Tags: beginner, biking, cycling, poll, race, racing, road
So, after going road race training and having a ball, I’ve entered my first ever road race. It’s in March. 2/3/4 cat women only. Fifty-seven of us so far. (I KNOW. 57!) Traffic-free circuit, mostly flat.
I tweeted about this last night; responses fell into two broadly opposing groups. Please improve the objectivitical scientificness of my research by answering the poll below, which summarises these two viewpoints. If you’d like to add any further points of view/ advice/ tips/ warnings/ jokes, please do, in the comments section. Merci!
Tags: advice, beauty, easy targets, humour, magazines, sitting ducks, skincare, women
According to a free health ‘n’ beauty mag I picked up in a well-known chemist’s, my winter skincare routine depends on what kind of a chick I am. The choices on offer are:
- Office Girl
- Night Owl
- Fresh Air Fanatic
- Busy Mum*
I spent some time wondering whether my post-midnight twitter addiction qualifies me as a Night Owl, or whether running down the hill to school at the last minute having lingered over Just One More Chapter makes me a Busy Mum. I’m in the study right now, writing this: am I an Office Girl? I quite like riding my bike, but it’s a bit cold at the moment, so maybe not Fresh Air Fanatic. Modern life! So complicated!
Eventually I decided to write my own advice, instead.
Tags: bilingual, bilingualism, child, language, linguistics, multilingual, multilingualism, podcast
The second in my vanishingly-rare series of language/ linguistics podcasts. Prompted by a conversation with @festinagirl and @broomwagonblog on twitter this morning, I ramble on fairly non-technically for a bit about bilingualism (my first love and erstwhile research obsession), and general factors that support or hinder child bilingualism. I do try to keep it brief.
Here’s a bit of information about the linguist who spoke Klingon to his son for three years.
Baker, C. 2000. A parents’ and teachers’ guide to bilingualism. Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters.
(Readable, non-technical introduction in a Q&A format. Mostly focuses on elite bilingualism but some other contexts are covered too.)
Pearson, B. Z. 2008. Raising a bilingual child. New York: Living Language.
(A kind of how-to manual, also non-technical in nature. Again, the main focus is on an elite bilingual context but Pearson brings in a good deal of the wider research into bilingual communities.)
Hoffmann, C. 1991. An introduction to bilingualism. London: Longman.
(Oldie but goodie. More academic in tone but still readable, a good general introduction to bilingualism with a useful chapter on bilingual families of all sorts.)
Romaine, S. 1995. Bilingualism. Oxford, UK: Blackwell.
(Again, a bit old now, but I keep coming back to it. An academic textbook; I used this with second year undergraduates. Comprehensive discussion of many aspects of bilingualism, thoroughly referenced.)
The now-defunct Bilingual Family Newsletter archive is good for a browse, too.