The good stuff from the weekend

On Friday night, lytteltonwitch, rarsberry and I went over to Lyttelton for the Festival of Lights (which I kept calling the Firelight Festival – I’ve obviously been watching too much Gilmore Girls).

After getting there too early last year, so that they hadn’t even set up the stalls, we decided to go over a bit later this year, which of course meant all the decent parks were taken, so we ended up parking miles away at the top of a very steep hill (ok, so it’s Lyttelton – everything is at the top of a very steep hill!), beside an even steeper bank. That provided a moment of drama (and later hilarity), when I slipped on some wet grass as I stepped out of the car, and in my efforts to stop myself falling over the bank, ended up dropping my bag so all the books I’d brought to release went flying over it instead. Lytteltonwitch and Rarsberry commended me on my new technique of mass releasing 🙂 Finding all the books again by torchlight was a bit of a challenge, but eventually we got them all gathered up (they weren’t in plastic bags so they would have got too damp overnight if I had left them as genuine wild releases), and we headed down to the street party.

It turned out the schedule had changed from last year, so we’d missed the parade, but we wandered around the stalls dropping books, and sampling the wares of the chocolate stall, and only managed to lose each other once, which was pretty good going in that crowd. The fireworks were earlier than last year too, so caught us by surprise, but we fought our way out of the crowd and down to a good viewing spot on the waterfront just in time.

The fireworks would have been great, except that it was a very foggy night. And because the air was still, the smoke from the fireworks stayed in one place, thickening the fog even further. So after the first few, all you could see was a glowing cloud of different colours 🙂 Actually, it was kind of pretty (I wished I had a decent camera with me – a time exposure would have produced an amazing photo), but not quite as spectacular as fireworks should be. I’m not sure whether they cut the display short because of that, or if their budget was just smaller than last year, but it was much shorter this year too, which was a bit disappointing.

But although the festival wasn’t as much fun as last year’s, we still enjoyed ourselves, and we did manage to release a LOT of books over the course of the evening – I think 46 altogether. Mine were:

Other releases last week were:

Monday 16 June

Tuesday 17 June

Wednesday 18 June

Thursday 19 June

Friday 20 June

I wasn’t in the mood for releasing over the weekend or yesterday, but I released a couple this morning, The Recognition of Edgar Allan Poe edited by Eric W Carlson and Freud’s Discovery of Psychoanalysis by William J McGrath, and was rewarded by the psychology book being caught almost immediately! Catches may not be everything, but they’re a great inspiration to keep releasing 🙂

Currently reading: Mercy by Jodi Picoult
Currently listening to: Erewhon by Samuel Butler


Thank you everyone for your comments and hugs. I’m actually feeling a lot better about it all, now that it’s all over. When the vet gave Ming the injection, and I heard him take his last gasping breath and then was still, I felt such a feeling of relief – the stillness was such a contrast to the last couple of days that I realised how much he’d been suffering, and knew we’d done the right thing in ending it.

The vet agreed too, and in fact thanked us for deciding to put Ming down and not wanting to prolong his life just for our own sakes. He said given his age and the symptoms, it probably was cancer, and that there was a 95% chance that any treatment he could have given wouldn’t have achieved anything other than more distress to Ming, so we definitely were doing the right thing. That’s what we’d been thinking anyway, but it was nice to have a professional confirm it.

We stayed with Ming, stroking him and talking to him, while the vet gave him the injection. I’d never seen a lethal injection given before (it’s the first time I’ve had to have a pet put down – usually they’ve been killed by cars, or have just crawled off and died on their own before we knew they were sick), and was amazed by how quickly it worked – the vet had barely started to push down the plunger on the syringe when Ming stopped breathing. I still can’t work out how the poison can make its way round the body that quickly – biology can be a fascinating thing sometimes! I’d like to say I saw the light go out in his eyes, but that light had already been out for a couple of days, really. All there was left was fear and pain.

Afterwards, we brought his body home and buried it in the garden under a standard rose he used to like to sharpen his claws on. In summer, when the roses bloom in a shock of pink, we’ll look at them and remember our good friend Ming.

[P.S. For those who might be confused about the Mim/Ming thing, Fuzzle (his original owner) named him Mim as a kitten, and that’s what I first knew him as, but when she moved into a new flat a year or so later, one of her new flatmates couldn’t get her tongue around “Mim”, and kept mispronouncing it “Ming”. And as his adult personality developed, Ming seemed a better fit to his volatile and aggressive nature (everyone always assumed he was named for Ming the Merciless from Flash Gordon), so the name stuck. By the time I came back from Britain five years later, even Fuzzle was calling him Ming.]

My only regret now is that we haven’t been able to get hold of Fuzzle to let her know. She’s been travelling overseas for the last eight years (so much for the 6 months she originally told us when she asked us to cat-sit Ming and Saffy!!!), so changes address and phone number frequently, and (through a tendency to lose phones and forget passwords) often doesn’t even keep the same mobile phone number or email address. We’ve tried phoning the last mobile number we had for her, but it didn’t work, and we’ve tried emailing what we think is her most recent address, but had no response, so don’t know whether she’s received it or not. We can’t even contact her family, as they’re similarly nomadic.

Ming and Saffy have been living with us for longer than they were with her anyway, so I suppose they’re technically more our cats than hers, but I know she’d still like to know. Hopefully we’ll find a way of getting in touch.

I think it’s time to say goodbye

Ming’s health has been getting steadily worse.

About a year ago he had a seizure. Since then, he’s had four or five more that we’ve seen. They haven’t seemed to be distressing him, though, so we decided to spare him the stress of a visit to the vet, and just monitor the situation.

The next bad sign was when I got home from London and noticed how much weight he’d lost. It’s been a gradual thing, so we hadn’t noticed it happening, but being away for a month I really noticed the change. But there can be a million reasons for weight loss, and he still seemed to be eating ok, so we wormed him (and the other two, just to make sure) and hoped for the best.

Then a few weeks ago I noticed his breathing was getting a bit laboured. Instead of the usual gentle fall and rise, his whole body would move as he breathed. This was all starting to add up to a pretty obvious conclusion, but he still didn’t seem to be in any distress, and he was still pretty active (for an elderly cat), so we decided again not to inflict a vet on him.

I’ve mentioned my philosophy on vets before, but least anyone think we were being particularly callous, let me explain it again. When a human is sick, they’ll go to the doctor and suffer the indignities and pain of treatment because they know why it’s being done to them, and have the choice to turn it down if the treatment becomes worse than the disease. That’s why concepts like informed consent exist – giving someone something like chemo or surgery without telling them why would be akin to torture. An animal can’t give informed consent. You can’t even explain why it has to take the pills, or have the injection, or be taken to a strange place to be poked and prodded by a stranger. No wonder they are terrified of going to the vet – only bad stuff happens to them there, and they have no way of connecting that bad stuff to the fact that a few days later their infected cut has healed, or their fleas are gone, or their cold is cured. They just know that they have been taken to a horrible place where bad stuff happens, for no apparent reason.

That doesn’t mean I’m against vets in general. It would be cruel to let an animal suffer when a simple cure is available. And the distress of a vet’s visit is soon over. So for example when Ming had an infected paw, or when Saffy’s flea allergy meant she licked herself raw on her back, they went straight to the vet. And although they were terrified, and there was pain and indignity, it was soon over, and they were successfully treated, so we judged their distress worth it.

But when it comes to more serious illnesses, things change. One quick vet’s visit isn’t going to fix anything. There’ll be tests, and long difficult treatments, and multiple visits to the vet, and no guarantee at the end that anything will have been achieved other than prolonging the animal’s life, and assuaging the guilt of its owners. And all the animal knows is that its owners have inexplicably started torturing it on a regular basis. (And of course, although we don’t like to acknowledge it as a factor, there’s the cost. There’s no public health system for cats, so any sort of prolonged treatment gets expensive very fast. Like any cat lover, there’s a lot I’ll sacrifice for my pets (my own health, for a start – I’m allergic to cats, so just having them in the house increases the chance I’ll have an asthma attack), but when it comes to a choice between being able to pay the mortgage and a vet’s bill, the realities of life mean the house is going to win.)

So when it comes to serious illness, the only time I want a vet involved is when the animal is in pain or obvious distress and it’s time to put the suffering to an end.

Let me make it clear though that in saying this, I’m not criticising anyone who chooses to have their pets treated for serious illnesses. Like any moral choice, everyone has their own way of weighing the conflicting factors. For some, being able to give their pet those few more months or years is worth the distress. And maybe it is, maybe I’m being mean not wanting to go through with it. But everyone has a point where they look at their pet and say the suffering isn’t worth it, and mine comes before the vet visits start.

Anyway, all that philosophising (which MrPloppy agrees with – believe me, we’ve talked this over at great length) adds up to our decision not to take Ming to the vet until it is time to say goodbye.

And I think that time has come. In the last week, his breathing has got worse, and he’s been audibly wheezing. And on Friday night he started coughing – it started off as just the normal furball sort of cough, but then each cough got him gasping for breath, which made the cough worse, in that vicious cycle that any asthmatic will recognise, until he eventually vomited (not a furball, but some of his dinner). He was so exhausted by the attack that he just slumped down, not even able to clean the vomit off himself. As I was cleaning him up, he gave me a look of pure fear, the first time I’ve seen him look distressed by his illness.

In the morning, he looked a bit better, so we decided to give him the weekend and then decide. But his perking up yesterday morning was the high point. The rest of the day he spent lying in front of the fire, not even getting up when I called him for dinner (and Ming is usually the first to come running if he even hears you open the fridge). When I took some food through to him, he did eat a mouthful, but the effort obviously tired him out and he started wheezing heavily again. MrPloppy was so worried about him last night that he made up a bed on the floor next to Ming and slept there where he could keep an eye on him. This morning he’s no better. He’s lying in front of the fire, and occasionally moves into a more comfortable position, but it’s obvious even that small movement exhausts him. And the look in his eyes is so tired. Remember Frodo climbing Mt Doom? It’s that look. I know I’m anthropomorphising, but every time he looks at me, he seems to be telling me he’s had enough now, that it’s all too difficult.

So tomorrow morning I’ll be ringing the vet, and we’ll make an appointment to say goodbye to our friend. And though right now my heart is screaming out to forget the expense, find a way to cure him, I know this is the kindest way.

^ ^

Busy bookcrossing

The last week or so has been filled with bookcrossing. First there was gwilk‘s birthday party, which strictly had nothing to do with bookcrossing, but lytteltonwitch and I managed to turn it into a bookcrossing event by releasing a pile of books at the party suited to its space theme:

Time and Stars by Poul Anderson
Beyond the Beyond by Poul Anderson
Under Alien Stars by Pamela F Service
Future History by Jerry Pournelle
Citizen in Space by Robert Sheckley
How to be an Alien by George Mikes
The Next Ten Thousand Years by Adrian Berry
Space Adventure by Patrick Moore and Angus MacVicar

We dressed appropriately for the theme too. I made a long black cloak (with some assistance from Ming)

and dressed as a jedi, and lytteltonwitch stuck stars on her knees

and dressed as… um, we weren’t sure what she was, actually, but something spacey 🙂

(Aren’t I brave, posting a photo of me without hiding it behind a friends-only filter?)

Then on Monday night lytteltonwitch and I went to the grand premiere of the bookcrossing documentary at CPIT. The documentary looked great, and I didn’t make too much of a fool of myself in my interview (saying my whole social life revolves around bookcrossing made me sound a bit sad, but it’s not that far off the mark…). Fingers crossed now that it will be shown on TV sometime, because it would be a great promotion for bookcrossing – they did a wonderful job of showing how much fun it all is.

Of course, we had to release a few books around the studio, just in case anyone was inspired after watching the documentary 🙂

Movie by Wolf Rilla
The McGuffin by John Bowen
School for Love by Olivia Manning
Cannes by Iain Johnstone

Tuesday was meetup night, the third meetup in as many weeks. That meant the turnout wasn’t great, just me, MrPloppy, lytteltonwitch and rarsberry, but we had a pleasant evening anyway planning an expedition for the weekend, and shared a few books (Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier and Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult).

The rest of the week’s bookcrossing activities were mostly spending my evenings registering and labelling books. I’ve been trying to finally clear the backlog of books that have been sitting in boxes in the study waiting for me to get round to registering them, or, having been registered, waiting for me to properly label them so I can release them. As well as reducing the number of boxes lying around the study, having all the books all ready to go has made keeping up my steady stream of releases a lot easier:

Monday 9 June:
Twilight in Italy by DH Lawrence
Kate and Olivia by Annie Murray
The Rich Mrs Robinson by Winifred Beechey
The Bold Thing by Mark Daniel
Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler
Island by Aldous Huxley
Lost Girls by Andrew Pyper

Tuesday 10 June:
Pins by Andrew Neiderman
Fantastic Voyage by Isaac Asimov
Stalking Point by Duncan Kyle
Hearts, Hands and Voices by Ian McDonald

Wednesday 11 June:
The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
A Dry Spell by Susie Moloney
I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
Shorter Poems by William Wordsworth
Starvecrow Farm by Stanley Weyman
The Last Legends of Earth by AA Attanasio

Thursday 12 June:
Old Mortality by Sir Walter Scott
The Ambassadors by Henry James
The New Noah by Gerald Durrell
All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren
Life of Johnson by James Boswell
Female Playwrights of the Restoration edited by Paddy Lyons and Fidelis Morgan

Friday 13 June:
Danse Macabre by Frederic Mullally
Hancock by Freddie Hancock and David Nathan
Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
Of Human Bondage by W Somerset Maugham
Firebird by Mercedes Lackey
Catch Me a Colobus by Gerald Durrell
Beasts in my Bed by Jacquie Durrell (in a display of dog beds in the supermarket – one of those wonderful unplanned themed releases when I saw a release opportunity and realised I had the perfect book with me)
And a couple of spooky books released in the cemetery in honour of Friday the thirteenth: The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.

On Saturday I was running low on labelling supplies, so I decided to walk over to Northlands, and took a few books to release along the way:

The Doll and the Kitten by Dare Wright
What Do People Do All Day by Richard Scarry
Taboo by Elizabeth Gage
The Walpole Orange by Frank Muir (in the fruit section of the supermarket, of course)
Day of Infamy by Walter Lord
The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham (among the potted plants in the Warehouse)
The Body Lovers by Mickey Spillane (in Lush)
The 1973 Annual World’s Best SF edited by Donald A Wollheim
Dreams Die First by Harold Robbins
Guerilla in the Kitchen by Linda Grimsley
The Real Story by Mary Holm
Joby by Stan Barstow
The Strange, Familiar and Forgotten by Israel Rosenfield
What’s It All About by Michael Caine
The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
Love’s Cross Currents by Algernon Charles Swinburne
Bridge on the River Kwai by Pierre Boulle
The Small Assassin by Ray Bradbury
Roughing It by Mark Twain

Ok, more than a few 🙂 It was a lovely day, so I had a very enjoyable walk, detouring to several parks and other good release locations along the way. And the best thing about releasing books as you walk is that your bag gets lighter as you go along!

Then Sunday was our big expedition. Rarsberry and lytteltonwitch turned up at my place at 10 am, and we loaded my very heavy box of books into the car (there weren’t all that many books, really, it was just that I decided to take the opportunity to release all the big hardcovers that are too heavy to lug around when I’m walking) and headed north… well, northish. Our original plan was to head up into North Canterbury, because lytteltonwitch and I have gone south so often we’re starting to get a bit bored with it, but then lytteltonwitch lit on the idea of Lake Coleridge. Which is very slightly north of Christchurch, if you look at the map closely and squint a bit…

It was a wonderful day for expeditioning, and we had lots of laughs along the way, and of course stopped in every small town along the way to release books:

In West Melton, Compelled to Kill by Leonard Gribble and Are You Lonesome Tonight by Lucy de Barbin and Dary Matera.

In Kirwee, One Life by Christiaan Barnard, Marooned by Martin Caidin, Malafrena by Ursula K Le Guin, and Burr by Gore Vidal.

In Darfield, The Distant Lands by Julian Green, A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson, No Place for Men by Peter Mulgrew (in the women’s toilets, of course), Peter the Whaler by WHG Kingston, and The War Diaries by Jean-Paul Satre (on the war memorial).

In Hororata, lytteltonwitch showed us another of Canterbury’s hidden wonders, the Hororata Domain. It’s much like every other domain in Canterbury, except for the strange ornamental pond hidden among the trees:

Apparently it used to be a skating rink, but the winters don’t get cold enough any more for it to freeze over properly (who says global warming is a myth?), so they turned it into an ornamental pond instead. A strange thing to find in the domain of a small country town, anyway.

After releasing a few more books (The Bafut Beagles by Gerald Durrell, Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain, and The Complete Short Stories by Guy de Maupassant), we looked at the time and realised that we’d planned the logistics of the day badly, not having thought about where we’d have lunch. We were in a tiny town unlikely to have more than a dairy, and ahead of us on the map were only even smaller towns. The only thing for it seemed to be to head back to Darfield and buy some supplies in the supermarket so we could have a picnic at Lake Coleridge. But as we were about to turn back, we suddenly spotted a sign for the Hororata Cafe.

Anything was better than having to turn back, so we went in, and to our surprise it turned out to be a really lovely place, with great food. Who knew Hororata even had a cafe, let alone a good one??? And what was even better, the manager was totally bookcrossing-friendly (we discovered later that she knows MarcieNZ, and they’re even talking about setting up an OBCZ there) and not at all fazed by us dropping books all over her cafe 🙂 (Clues that Spelled Guilty by Leonard Gribble and The Big Shot by James Lee).

We spent a very pleasant hour or so lingering over our meals, teasing lytteltonwitch about her family business, and doing a bit of convention planning, then hit the road again. We ended up on a back road that bypassed the remaining small towns, but stopped at an information board in the middle of nowhere to release another few books (The Urmal in Space by Max Kruse).

Finally we reached Lake Coleridge, but to rarsberry and my shock there was no lake. There was a very nice river valley,

plenty of mountains,

and even some deer (which can be distinguished from lakes by the fact that they have more legs. Lakes only have arms.), but no lake.

It turns out that to get to the lake from the town misleadingly called Lake Coleridge, you have to drive 5 km over a mountain, on a very narrow, very winding, very steep dirt road. The views were worth it, though:

We released a few books on the lakefront (Agatha Christie’s Crime Collection), then headed back over the mountain to the township, to release more books (Tough Guys Don’t Dance by Norman Mailer, Fifth Planet by Fred and Geoffrey Hoyle, Washington DC by Gore Vidal, The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, ’80s Letters by Bob Jones (in the post office), and We by Yevgeny Zamyatin (in the toilets)), and fruitlessly search for a geocache, then it was time to head back to Christchurch.

This time we went via Glentunnel (The White Company by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, In the Name of Humanity by Alexander Thomsen and The Centaur by John Updike) and Coalgate (The Pit by Frank Norris). When we got to Darfield (His Last Bow by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle), we detoured off to try and find Mothercat‘s letterbox to leave a book in it, but although we think we found the right house, her name wasn’t on the letterbox any more, so we didn’t leave a book after all.

One more stop, in Hornby, to pick up our traditional end-of-expedition KFC dinner (Circus by Alistair Maclean), which we ate back at my place. A long day, but lots of fun – and lots of books scattered around Canterbury!

Lots of releases have meant lots of catches again. Some from recent releases:

* The McGuffin by John Bowen was caught after the documentary screening.
* Pin by Andrew Neiderman, caught at the university by an enthusiastic new member.
* Twilight in Italy by DH Lawrence, caught by an anonymous finder.
* Clues and Suspects by Angela Wilkes – another new member
* Old Mortality by Walter Scott, which amazingly was caught by a descendant of the subject of the book!
* The Season by Bob Ellis – a catch from the books I released in Jellie Park with the film crew.
* Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad, caught by someone who’s been unsuccessfully hunting bookcrossing books for a while.
* What’s It All About? by Michael Caine – another catch from someone who’d already heard about bookcrossing.
* The Body Lovers by Mickey Spillane – caught by an enthusiastic new member who immediately PMed me to ask about meetups.

One from earlier in the year: The Eighth Commandment by Lawrence Sanders

And one from five years ago! Men at Arms by Evelyn Waugh, now on its way to Germany.

Currently reading: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Currently listening to: Erewhon by Samuel Butler


Tap tap… is this thing on? So while LJ has dramas like Strikethrough 07, and Let’sAllVoteForTheGuyWithTheSillyBanners 08, DD just has the Great ArggghTheNewServer’sBroken Disaster of 2008. And just when I actually had stuff to write about, and time to write it – isn’t it always the way? (Ok, so I could have just posted it in LJ and linked it here once DD was back up, but the momentum to write was lost in the panic that all my entries and photos were gone (really really must get round to backing stuff up one day…))

Anyway, normal service seems to have resumed, so on with the entry:

The most important thing I have to report is: I’ve still got a job!!!!

And I didn’t have to go through a stupid and demeaning interview process either. Basically, what happened was that the organisation managed to %@$& off enough people that a couple of them decided to just take the redundancy money and run, which left enough jobs for those of us who were left, so (after the union stepped in and talked some sense into HR) we had our positions confirmed. Big Phew!!!

The other big news is that it’s snowing! When I got up this morning, I decided to go up to Northlands to pick up a few bits and pieces I need for my costume for tomorrow (Gwilk‘s having a themed birthday party). At that point, the sun was shining and the sky was blue, but by the time I mucked around registering and labelling some books to release in the mall, it had clouded over and started to drizzle.

I spent a couple of hours in the mall trying to find what I needed, and finding good locations to release books (The Dream Maker by Alison McLeay in a cafe, Dr Beale’s Wednesday by Liz Falkner in Body Shop, Glamourous Powers by Susan Howatch on a seat, and Low Fat by Jenny Pausacker in a health food shop), and when I came out, the promised southerly had picked up, and the rain, while still only drizzle, had become icy, and on the bus home I noticed it splattering against the windows in a particularly sleety sort of way.

I must have been home about half an hour when I looked out the window and saw that the drizzle had turned to big white flakes. We didn’t think it would settle, because everything was wet from the rain, but obviously the ground temperature was low enough to overcome that, because this is what it looks like out there now, about an hour later:

And it’s still snowing!

I know this doesn’t look like a big deal to those from countries where you get proper winters, but for Christchurch this is our equivalent to snow up to the eaves. We only get one or two snowfalls a year (if that), and hardly ever enough to properly settle except up in the hills. And it’s usually much later in the winter. To get real snow in the first week of winter is a bit of a shock to the system.

So, other news. Where to start? The filming went fantastically well, and I’m now well-versed in things like blondes vs redheads (they’re types of lights), how to avoid looking at the camera (easy when the lights are in your eyes and the only direction you can look without being blinded is at the interviewer), and what a B-reel is (that’s all the random shots of cats, books, more cats, bookcrossing labels, the cats again, and other stuff that they can cut to so they don’t just have a talking head on screen for 8 minutes).

We went over to Jellie Park, and I was filmed with a night vision camera as I released books in various spots and tried to act naturally and as if I wasn’t very aware of being filmed (did you know how difficult it is to walk like a normal person when you’ve got someone walking backwards a couple of feet in front of you with a camera giving you instructions like “walk a bit faster, but not too fast or I won’t be able to keep up… oh, and tell me if I’m about to walk into the duck pond”?). I’m sure I ruined half the shots by bursting into fits of giggles.

I released seven books all together, though probably only one or two releases will actually end up in the finished documentary (the main thing I learnt about film-making is that it takes several hours to set up for half an hour of filming, which will then be cut down to about 30 seconds of useful footage): The Season by Bob Ellis and Roy Masters (by the soccer goals – it’s actually a book about rugby, but I got there to discover that they don’t play rugby at Jellie Park, so the themed release wasn’t quite as good as I’d hoped), The Deep End by Joy Fielding (by the duck pond – I’d actually hoped to release it at the swimming pool, but forgot they’re still doing construction work, so it’s all fenced off), and White Poppy by Margaret Gaan, Half the Day is Night by Maureen F McHugh, The Invisible Country by Paul J McAuley, Looking for the Mahdi by N Lee Wood, and Lords of the Golden Horn by Noel Barber on random park benches and in trees.

Afterwards, we came back to my place and the crew proceeded to demolish the lounge (why did I tidy up again?) so they could get the camera and lights into the right positions for my interview. It was a bit of a tight squeeze (and poor Scarlett-CH ended up sitting on the hearth while interviewing me, in extreme danger of falling into the fire, just so I’d be looking in the right direction for the shot to look good), but we managed to get through the interview ok (apart from one startling moment when the fuse blew on the lights and I was plunged into darkness mid-sentence). I didn’t find it as difficult talking on camera as I thought I might, and managed to mostly ignore its presence (and that of the sound woman lying at my feet with the big fluffy microphone), so I don’t think I embarrassed myself too badly 🙂

They’re having a screening for the “stars” (actually, I think the cats probably got more camera time than I did – the film crew fell in love with them, especially George) on Monday night so we can see how the documentary came out, and then it’ll possibly maybe one day be shown on one of the more obscure digital channels. Scarlett has promised me a copy on DVD, so I’ll be able to “bookring” it around the NZBC community (and maybe a bit further afield if there’s a demand).

The next night we had a meetup so the film crew could get some more B-reel shots of us talking and swapping books. My worries that nobody would turn up and the film crew would have to pretend to be bookcrossers (actually, I think all three of them have joined now :-)) were unfounded, and we had a good turnout: me, rarsberry, keenreda, and huge surprise of the evening, Cathytay and daveytay.

After a bit of initial awkwardness while we all tried not to get caught on camera mid-mouthful, we eventually relaxed into animated conversation (we even ended up talking about books occasionally!), so the film crew should have got some great meetup footage. The most difficult thing about the evening was that instead of our usual practice of immediately pouncing on any book we took a fancy to and whisking it off the table, we had to leave them there for the sake of the camera (but as soon as it was switched off, the table was quickly cleared! :-))

I released The Best a Man Can Get by John O’Farrell, The Bethlehem Murders by Matt Rees, and The Touch by Julie Myerson, and picked up Nineteen Minutes by Jodie Picoult.

At Queen’s Birthday weekend, Sherlockfan was in Christchurch, so I invited her and rarsberry and VivaRichie round for dinner on the Saturday night. Sherlockfan was very excited to get the chance to raid my “to be released” box, and nabbed Death By Chocolate by G.A. McKevett, The Narrow Corner by W Somerset Maugham, A Fatal Legacy by Hazel Holt, The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy, as well as Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea by Charles Seife a bookring I’d set aside for her. In return, she gave me All Things Bright and Beautiful by Susan Mitchell, a book she’d picked up in Australia.

Then the next morning, another meetup: our usual last-weekend-of-the-month meetup postponed by a day to accommodate lytteltonwitch, who’d just arrived back from the UK, full of exciting stories of her travels, and bearing plenty of books (I grabbed The Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini). Another good turnout – Cathytay and daveytay turned up again (hopefully this means they’re going to be regulars at meetups again), Sherlockfan was there of course, and rarsberry, angela7715, and MarcieNZ. I gave lytteltonwitch her birthday present, Bonk by Mary Roach (otakuu, buffra and bookczuk can vouch for the fact that when I bought it in Charleston, I really did say I was buying it for lytteltonwitch, even if I did then succumb to temptation and read it myself!), and passed on two books from the convention that I’d promised her, Soft Voices Whispering by Adrienne Dines and A Lifetime Burning by Linda Gillard. Also onto the table went The Old Age of El Magnifico by Doris Lessing, Survivor and Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk, and Bare Bones by Kathy Reichs.

My renewed enthusiasm for wild releasing has continued, and I’ve managed to keep up a steady stream of a few releases a day, usually while walking to or from work, or wherever I happen to be during the day. As well as the releases mentioned above, I’ve released:

Wednesday 28 May: The Silicon Mage by Barbara Hambly, Norstrilia by Cordwainer Smith, Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray, God: The Ultimate Autobiography by Jeremy Pascall, Fiddler Fair by Mercedes Lackey, The Wild Hunt of Hagworthy by Penelope Lively, The Struggles of Albert Woods by William Cooper, In-Laws and Outlaws by C Northcote Parkinson, The New SF edited by Langdon Jones, Hell Has Harbour Views by Richard Beasley, and Manhattan Nocturne by Colin Harrison.

Thursday 29 May: Never Too Rich by Judith Gould, Limehouse Lady by Irene Roberts, The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov, and Spectrum 1 edited by Kingsley Amis and Robert Conquest.

Friday 30 May: Goodbye Mr Chips by James Hilton, Who Fears the Devil? by Manly Wade Wellman, Tono-Bungay by HG Wells, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers, The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles, The Rescue by Joseph Conrad, Spencer’s Mountain by Earl Hammer Jr, The Trouble Twisters by Poul Anderson, and The Best Short Stories of the Modern Age edited by Douglas Angus.

Saturday 31 May: Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker by Tobias Smollett, Planet of Fear by Patrick Moore, Beyond Tomorrow edited by Damon Knight, Machines and Men by Keith Roberts, Earthwind by Robert Holdstock, Nightwings by Robert Silverberg, The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, The Naive and Sentimental Lover by John Le Carre, The Lost Girl by DH Lawrence, New Writing 7 edited by Carmen Callil and Craig Raine, and Peace by Gene Wolfe.

Sunday 1 June: The Best from Galaxy Vol IV edited by James Baen, Contact Twoedited by FES Finn, The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice, and The Wrong Set and Other Stories by Angus Wilson.

Monday 2 June: Macroscope by Piers Anthony.

Tuesday 3 June: The Last Refuge by John Petty, After the Fall by Arthur Miller, and All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque.

Wednesday 4 June: The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson, The Song of Roland translated by Dorothy L Sayers, After Doomsday by Poul Anderson, Nebula Award Stories 10 edited by James Gunn, Foetal Attraction by Kathy Lette, and The Toynbee Convector by Ray Bradbury.

Thursday 5 June: Bad Debts by Peter Temple, The Pride of Chanur by CJ Cherryh, The Space Machine by Christopher Priest, Andromeda Breakthrough by Fred Hoyle and John Elliot, St Mawr and The Virgin and the Gipsy by DH Lawrence, New Writings in SF 4 edited by John Carnell, and Toxin by Paul Adam.

Friday 6 June: Brontomek! by Michael Coney, Polar City Nightmare by Katharine Kerr and Kate Daniel, and A Bit Off the Map and Other Stories by Angus Wilson.

Today: Afternoon by Anthony Powell and Till We Meet Again by Judith Krantz.

And of course, all these releases are rewarded by lots of catches: The Pride of Chanur, The Last Refuge, Machines and Men, The Vampire Lestat, and The Naive and Sentimental Lover have all been caught. Plus a few older releases: Parkinson’s Lore by Michael Parkinson, released a couple of weeks ago, The Modern World: Ten Great Writers by Malcolm Bradbury, released in Fairlie on an expedition with lytteltonwitch, and The Keep of Fire by Mark Anthony, which is a bit of a mystery, because it was caught in Stewart Island, but I never made release notes for it. I don’t remember releasing it, or anything about it at all, really, so I presume it’s been out in the wild for a long time.

Ok, I reckon that’s me pretty much caught up (yeah, I know, apart from all the trip stuff, but I’ll get to that eventually…)