Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Just a quick post to divert our attention from living dead heads and other morbid things.

1) I went to yoga today! I haven't been in weeks, since all the receptions and recitals and dinners descended on my social calendar.

2) My landlord paid me today :) and has more projects in the pipeline.

3) It is sunny in London. Sunny and cold, but it is nice to see the daylight increasing daily.

4) I have been nurturing some crocus bulbs since December. They reached 4 cm last month, so I have put them on the table by the window and the green shoots have been out for a week now.

5) With that inspiration I have taken out my bonsai kit but might wait till landlord puts my window boxes back in so that I can steal some potting soil.

6) It is becoming more frequent that people - acquaintances and strangers - have been telling me that a) I have a pretty, expressive, singsong voice; b) I have a pleasant accent and I sound polite; c) they could listen to me all day.
What should I do to take advantage of it?
[I have never liked my voice, as I find it too small and childish. My accent used to be quite posh when I was growing up; when I moved to the US, I softened it out of sheer embarrassment but could not lose it. Since my return to London, it has found a new balance.]

7) Have been reading On Friendship by Michel de Montaigne, the great 17th century essayist, but was tempted to give up when I found myself wondering out loud this morning, "What on earth is he going on about now?"
It's the middle of the book and he seems to have lost the plot.


I forgot to mention the office manager at the finance recruitment company where I've been temping.

I don't think she likes me. I'm efficient so she wants me back, but nary a breath of thanks escapes her lips, nor a trace of a smile, and not one more word than is necessary. Oh, I did catch her out in the lift when I pointed out it was snowing, so she exclaimed and looked through the glass wall onto the courtyard and exclaimed again. So...she IS human. Slightly.

Four of the five people who have acknowledged my presence have stopped at my desk to ask if I was alright, and to find out what I studied, what I am looking for, and what else I do with myself, as well as to thank me for my help.


Another Mutts for you to smile at:

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Sunday Scientist

Train journeys make for a million and one captivating observations. But...I didn't have a notebook with me. So they are more or less lost to the world now...

*racks brain to shake out a story*

Anyway, went to the Reading blinks this Saturday to say farewell and bon boyage to a 20Sixer who is moving to Australia, and it was lovely to be with everyone. Photos will be up when I can get around to reducing their great number of megapixels and getting them online!
I think I got slightly drunk :) either that, or very tipsy.

[And guess what? I didn't know blinks meant "blog drinks". :P]

My hotel was an old building, a many-gabled red brick Victorian mansion. Overnight I had a dream that I could not leave my room because there were all sorts of scary people milling about in the hallway, knocking on my door, saying awful things and trying to make me come out. I could see them through the peephole.



Silly me, forgot to bring a book along so I picked up a couple at Reading station in the WHSmith buy 1 get 1 half price deal :

Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking -- all about trusting your instincts and going with those moments when you just know something without knowing why

Does Anything Eat Wasps? and 101 other questions -- full of things you always wanted to know and things you never knew you wanted to know - from the "Last Word" column in the New Scientist magazine, in which readers answer other readers' questions.

Now, please do not read any further if you are squeamish but I got to a section that was so amazing I dropped my jaw and the book after reading it.
It's about decapitation, so don't say I didn't warn you...

A reader in Oxford asked the column: Does beheading hurt? And if so, for how long is the severed head aware of its plight?

I refer you to this page if you want to read it:

A Guillotine Experiment

Forgive me, but some things are just too much for the mind to conceive of sometimes.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

What ho!

Have just discovered Jeeves & Wooster on ITV3. It has been so long since I saw them, I started giggling the minute their faces appeared onscreen! Rox, you will love this...

Episode set in New York City.

Scene: Classic Diner
Jeeves, Bertie and Bickie place their lunch orders.
Waitress: Do you wanna shake with that?
Jeeves: No I would prefer to sit here quietly, thank you.

Stephen Fry on PG Wodehouse:

Particular to Wodehouse are the transferred epithets: "I lit a rather pleased cigarette", or, "I pronged a moody forkful of eggs and b". Characteristic, too, are the sublimely hyperbolic similes: "Roderick Spode. Big chap with a small moustache and the sort of eye that can open an oyster at sixty paces", or, "The stationmaster's whiskers are of a Victorian bushiness and give the impression of having been grown under glass".
If you are immune to such writing, you are fit, to use one of Wodehouse's favourite Shakespearean quotations, only for treasons, stratagems and spoils. You don't analyse such sunlit perfection, you just bask in its warmth and splendour. Like Jeeves, Wodehouse stands alone, and analysis is useless.
Want to read more? Here is the article: Fry on Wodehouse

Hm. It's time I dusted off my Jeeves Omnibus...

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Mutts Club

Mutts was one of my favourite Sunday comics in the US.

And now about Monday night:

I don't know if it's the hours I go out, but the last few evenings I've arrived at Green Park station there has been an old dude in a tattered golden cape exiting ahead of me. I am sure he is also wearing a blue spandex outfit among other odd layers of clothing, and has a mass of curly white hair under his unravelled straw hat. Where is he going?

Anyway, I met my bestest friend Lydia and took her to the Arts Club. She was so excited! And she never fails to make me laugh.
As we hung up our coats, she said it was like being back in the school cloakroom. I said I probably hadn't been in one since then!

We went into the loo and she said the wallpaper looked like if we tried to sniff it, it would smell of blackberries, and we had a giggle over that.
Then she said she liked the new sinks, but I thought the taps were too close to the rim, which for some reason sent her off into peals of laughter.
I laughed at her for laughing and asked, "What's so funny about that?"
When she caught her breath she replied, "Trust you to say the funniest things!"


We went up to the bar and got ourselves some refreshing drinks, then went into the drawing room. Being the good host, I asked her where she wanted to sit, and she promptly replied, "At the front!"
So we plopped into two seats right at the front corner, where we could see the piano keyboard.

Mr Philip Gammon, former principal pianist at the Royal Ballet, was our guest for the evening.
He had the longest fingers and they were magic, they just flowed effortlessly over the keyboard!

The pieces were interspersed with many amusing anecdotes from over the years, like when playing in Los Angeles, the D-flat key came out in his hand, etc.
Or how George Balanchine, although a choreographer, could also play the piano and even conducted a bit (rare talents for choreographers).

He played lots of pieces performed by the ballet over the years, including themes and variations by Chopin, um someone else I forget, and some awesome Elite Syncopations by Scott Joplin.

There were many little cute "diddly-bits" in the Chopin pieces which just tickled me, so I sat there with my shoulders shaking and later on Lydia said she noticed and that's why she didn't look at me. We would have set each other off very badly....
I love jazz-age syncopations and really enjoyed hearing them live for the first time.

After the recital we made our way to the dining room where we ordered all 3 courses. Lydia had a winter root salad with truffles, which she thought couldn't possibly be chocolates.
So I said no they were rotten acorns dug up by trained French pigs. She said, "Oh, sounds appetising" which then sent us off into giggles again.
And I added, but seriously, it's one of the most expensive things after caviar! It is silly, though. Thin slivers of (mostly tasteless, slightly nutty) blackened squirrel food carefully scattered over a salad. Tut...
I had a salad with cepes (strong flavoured toadstools) and Caesar dressing.

For mains we both ordered the sea-bass on a bed of onions and artichoke hearts

Lydia had cheese and crackers for dessert, but I wanted the same passion fruit delice I'd had last time. She gave me her blue cheese, though, and we had a laugh over the conscious choice to eat lumps of bacteria that I've probably looked at under a microscope.

*sigh* so it was a great evening overall and I can't wait to take her back again, she was a wonderful guest!


Yay! I knew I was making the right decision to go to the hairdresser today. I have been commissioned to go back to the office on Haymarket tomorrow and Friday!

Monday, February 20, 2006

I do a Tag

A new word I've coined to describe what happens every day:

Milkwee - when more milk runs along the carton and off the bottom than reaches the cup

A 4 x 11 Meme

I have been tagged by Merserene and Alohalani on Motime, Jia Li on 20Six. So here goes, before anyone else catches me out and I fall even further behind on these things!

Four Jobs You've Had In Your Life

1. Laboratory technician
2. Sales team member
3. Psychology support
4. Picture research assistant

Four Movies You Could Watch Over And Over
1. The Matrix trilogy
2. Pride & Prejudice (the long original one)
3. Jean de Florette/Manon des Sources
4. The Incredibles

Four Places You've Lived
1. Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey
2. NW London
3. Dallas (Plano), Texas
4. Houston (The Woodlands), Texas

Four TV Shows You Love To Watch
1. all sorts of documentaries and cooking programs
2. Friends
3. Lost
4. CSI

Four Places You've Been On Vacation
1. Italy
2. France
3. Canada
4. Scotland

Four Blogs You Visit Daily
1. Friends' blogs
2. Guardian Jobs
3. Slate
4. Cute Overload

Four Of Your Favourite Foods
1. Chinese Dim Sum
2. Japanese Sushi
3. Thai food
4. Guyanese food

Four Places You'd Rather Be
1. A cottage in the countryside
2. Verona
3. A Greek island
4. My family home

Four Albums You Can't Live Without
1. Beethoven's Missa Solemnis
2. Mozart's Requiem
3. Best of Queen
4. Best of Simon & Garfunkel

Four Vehicles You've Owned
1) 1997 Saturn SL2, silver plum with tinted windows, alloy wheels, rear spoiler, 1.6L V4. I desperately miss driving!!!

Four People To Be Tagged
Anyone who hasn't done it yet and feels the challenge coming on!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

What, Two Dos?

It is a yucky, cold, rainy, dark day. As it is Sunday I don't feel that I have to go out, even though all week I've had on my list these necessaries: sugar, olive oil, loo rolls, laundry detergent...

Here's the deal: I'll do it tomorrow.


Sooo...went to Gil Darby's retirement reception at Christie's King Street on Thursday with Mr B. The only other alumnus we recognised was Tom. (He's a porter there now, bless him. Rebecca and Rox he says he saw you at the Harrow School exhibition there last month.)

Mr B and I mostly enjoyed hanging out with former tutors Richard, Peter, Andrew, and a bit of pazzi Patsy*. She was excited that Peter (also quite pazzi) was wearing a jacket and made me take an awful photo of him with my phonecam. Only he wouldn't keep still, he is so animated when he talks!

Mind you, Andrew was wearing a rare jacket too. He made much of my Russian bolero jacket, and seriously thought the fur was real *rolling my eyes*.
Rebecca said he tried out for the part taken by Adrien Brody in The Pianist. I am sure he plays well, but can't figure the acting bit at all.

There was nice champagne and canapes - and this is not a lazy use of the word "nice" because over the past few years the quality of finger foods offered at these events has slipped a little. My favourite was grilled beef with a spot of blue cream cheese on a pastry cracker.


Last night after 9pm (the latest I've ever gone out) I set out for The Boisdale of Belgravia, a twee jazz and cigar club founded in the late 80s by Ranald MacDonald (banish all thoughts) the laird-in-waiting of the Clan McDonald. I got there before the 10pm 10 pound cover charge after getting lost for a while at Victoria station, using all the wrong exits before finding the one that would get me onto Eccleston Street.

When I got to The Boisdale and attempted to open the door, the older gentleman who had entered before me refused to help out as he stood in the reception and watched my little hands repeatedly slipping every which way around the stupid doorknob.

The place was smaller than I'd expected, but I still got lost in the crowds and the only dense spot I skipped was the one where Rebecca and her entourage, including Rox, were sitting. So the usual: a few familiar faces and a few new ones.

Rebecca was tickled that 3 of the Italian guys in her party talked to me at the bar while I ordered my mint julep, not yet knowing I was with her.

I know jazz clubs are smoky, but long absence from them makes one forget how smoky "smoky" really is! (id est, more smoky than the pubs I've visited lately.)
Plus I was a bit put out that there were more cigarettes than cigars...

But it was good pre-1960s jazz, with even a few Cole Porter numbers in the mix.

And I got home at nearly 1am, the latest yet.

I don't know what I was thinking. When I set out, I planned on calling a car as I usually do at such hours, but as I left and realised I could catch one of the last trains, I decided to do it. Je suis une folle.

I saw the stupidest things, things that really make me wrinkle my nose at the human race:

1) Got hooted at by some fellas.
2) Saw a girl re-applying makeup on the platform (at half past midnight, come on!)
3) Passed a girl sitting in a corner being sick. London Transport staff must *hate* weekends.
4) Got off at SJW with one couple, the guy had the most bowed legs I've ever seen. Nearly 45 degrees, seriously. He'd fit right on a horse.


*The use of pazzi to describe Patsy originated when she lectured on Brunelleschi's Pazzi Chapel in Florence. Richard piped up to quip that pazzo meant "crazy" in Italian.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Ponder this...

I'm just about to get ready to go out, but whilst checking my email, I spotted an article on MSN which begins:

Do you sometimes feel a little like Hamlet, wondering aloud, "To date or not to date...?" Do you get depressed when a new guy is either a dud or just not that into you? Do you spend a lot of time wondering when your one and only is finally going to appear? If you answered yes to these questions, then maybe you should embrace the concept of dating around, especially if recent experiences have left you feeling as tormented as Shakespeare's Danish prince. [my italics]

Want to read more?

Why Women Should Date Around (It will open in a new window)

And discuss...

(When I come back I'll blog about the Christie's reception and the jazz at Boisdale.)

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Elastic Band

My life is like an elastic band. Long stretches with nothing, and then suddenly, snap! Everything piles up at once.

Or like London buses. Nothing, nothing, nothing, and then about 5 of them heave into view.

I'm very good at keeping in touch with friends and we talk often. But they are so busy working and studying, it has been weeks since I saw some of them. It feels like a conspiracy, as if they get together and decide that they will all call me to go out at the same time.

Within the next two weeks it goes like this:
Feb. 14 - opera night and dinner at the Arts Club
15th - Waterloo King's Arms with some 20sixers
16th - Christie's do (Gil Darby retirement) - with Mr B
18th - Rebecca's birthday at a jazz club in Belgravia, hoo ha
20th - Royal Ballet evening and dinner at the Arts Club with Lydia

Who knows what will pop up between the 21st and:

the 25th - Royal Berkshire blinks in Reading with Diva and some other 20sixers
March 3rd - dogwalking in Richmond Park
4th - Olympia Antiques fair and costume preview at Christie's SK with Miss S

Still, somewhere in my busy social diary I have to see my grandmother. I have threatened not to see her unless we can convince my cousin James to turn up so I can lend him the family history.

After which, there may just be another drought.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

What I Did Yesterday...

M's letters are going so slowly. 100 different letters for 100 different people. Those reports sit still unsent.

Today, I smell of hospital because my arm hurts and I have had to anoint it and bandage it up.


Anyway, in the evening I got all dressed up - yes I DID go out!!!

I put on my little black cocktail dress, black diamond tights, black knee-length high-heeled boots, and a sage-green Russian-style bolero with faux-fur trim.

I went to the Arts Club for an evening of Opera in Love. When I got there and handed in my coat, the staff sent me upstairs with a glow because a couple of waiters were standing outside the dining room and said, "You look very pretty this evening." I smiled and thanked them shyly, continued up the staircase and the evaluation continued something like: "Yes isn't she looking lovely?" "Oh indeed she is."

I was tickled pink and it showed. As I waited beside someone not much older than I to enter the drawing room, she said, "You look sweeter than I do, maybe you can flutter your eyelashes and get us a free drink!"

Three students from Trinity College - a tenor, a mezzo soprano, and a pianist - performed some pretty love arias from popular operas. I didn't see a programme so this will be a struggle. You'd know them if you heard them...

Mozart: le Nozze di Figaro & la Clemenza di Tito
Beethoven: Fidelio
Puccini: Nessun Dorma (Turandot), O mio babbino caro (La Boheme), something from Tosca...
Verdi: la Traviata, the bit where Don Alfredo tells Violetta he loves her and she says forget it
plus a gorgous Chopin barcarolle in the middle
The encore was the drinking song from la Traviata

When I arrived, the room was full; my flatterer and I snagged the last chairs in the room. The head of the Opera Circle, V, had invited me at the Xmas ball, and the chair next to her was empty so she waved me over. It was at the front and I could almost touch the singers. (They had sung at V and P's wedding last month.)

For the first time ever, I understood the words. Nothing got lost because we were in such an intimate setting, so even the people at the back got it all. But when they hit the loud notes I literally got plastered into my seat and felt myself unpeeling afterwards.

Hearing the Chopin I was reminded of how much I love to hear his music performed live.

Beaming with appreciation, some of us made our way downstairs to the dining room where the Opera Circle attempted to sit together.

There was a set menu and I chose:

1) split pea soup
2) roast guinea fowl in a creamy watercress sauce
3) passion fruit mousse surrounded by diced mango, papaya, and pomegranate seeds

Someone shared a bottle of sweetish dry white wine with me. I skipped the espresso, as it was late and nearly 11pm when I got home.

Rather shockingly, I discovered P and another lady, who we were all meeting for the first time, were cognitive and organisational development pyschologists, respectively. I thought I had escaped all that! After an initial conversation about architecture, art deco, and which museums to join, we descended into a discussion about my pet subject, birth order, with a bit of neuropsychology. Get out...!

Finally, I wrote a poem called First Desire, which you can read if you visit my quiet blog, Your Eyes Only.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


!Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

What to say, what to say?
This one was supposed to be different, but...it is yet another, passing unobserved.

(I am going out tonight, though. Not to yoga, I'll have to skip it again so I can go to the opera evening and dinner at the club.)

Just so you know, I am happy for those of you in cuddly couplehood. You have all been where I am so you know how it feels. Cross your fingers it will happen for me before I'm 40!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

I miss...

Chicken fried steak, mashed potato and a biscuit, all under white gravy, with a dash of Tabasco sauce at Saltgrass Steakhouse

Caesar salad, and a chicken feuillete under wild mushroom sauce at La Madeleine - homemade croutons...and a dash of something special in the sauce ;)

Softshell crab at the Flying Dutchman - he sweeps the table with a little brass dustpan and brush

French toast with maple syrup and whipped cream at Biba's - specially at midnight with your buddies

All you can eat at Joe's Crabshack - roll up yer sleeves, put on a bib and away ya go

Fried green tomatoes (yep) coming round and if you hold up your hand, fresh rolls lobbed at you at the Potatoe Patch - before you even order from the menu

Hot jalapeno cornbread and butter at Luby's Cafeteria - an entire 3 course meal for under $10

The fresh steaming melt in your mouth cheese biscuits at Red Lobster - full before you order anything

The fresh hot rolls with honey butter at Golden Corral - they ring a bell when it's ready

Italian sausage and jalapeno pizza at Cici's - order the $6.99 buffet and if you don't see it you can order it

Chicken tortilla soup sprinkled with cheese and crumbled tortilla chips from Boston Market - until the carrot compote last week, the only other soup I liked

The DIY lettuce wraps at PF Chan's - a total mess but delicious

The creme brulee at Paris Cafe - better than any I've had in France

Beef flautas with sour cream, guacamole and pico de gallo at Las Cucas - and the best warm corn tortillas, red and green salsas in town - full up before you finish reading the menu

Hm....looks like I might have to make a foodie trip to Texas before the year is out...!

Friday, February 10, 2006

How Boring!

When was the last time I didn't blog for this many days???

I have performed two major tasks as M's temporary assistant: labelled and stamped envelopes, and collated and bound reports.


Update: I feel normal today but still coughing a bit.

Hungry as a horse? a cow? ... and that's good because I have lost weight.

My aunty is looking forward to feeding me on Sunday.

On Wednesday night I ate a dinner so spicy, my body was shocked into feeling normal for a couple of hours.
When the guy at the local Thai delivery heard me he said, "Extra spicy?" (He remembers the time it took my headache away.) I said "Yes please!"
I started into it with gusto and nearly keeled over. It ended up being a good thing.

Last night I fell in love with a soup. I am a renowned soup-hater. This is from the Yorkshire Soup Company: a carrot, celeriac, coriander, cumin, and caraway compote.

What's more, I don't like carrots. But what I need right now is good nourishing stuff that's easy to eat. Incidentally, I found out today that they supply the Conran Restaurants and Fortnum and Mason. No wonder....

Yea so tonight I will order a Papa John's pizza topped with Italian sausage and jalapeno peppers. Muahahahahaaaa!


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Hm Ha...

Landlord M has just offered me a job as his assistant. I can balance it with my temping. Apparently, Landlady S, who is out of town for the week, suggested it on the phone.

His real assistant just walked out one day a few weeks ago and he's been running around like a chicken with its head cut off.

When he first started the project last year, he offered me the position, but S said it would be a bad idea: living at work, on call, and she never wants him to shout at me if he's in a bad mood. (Personally, I've been more scared of her before.)

A job, yes. But it might be tricky, don't you think?

Monday, February 06, 2006


The first minute and a half is priceless. (IF it works.)

Lacrimosa - Preisner

Sunday, February 05, 2006


The last couple of nights I've had a fever and sweated buckets like never before. I feel exhausted, and now I'm coughing, complete with aches and pains. If I owned chickens, I would be so worried.

I'm trying to gather the strength to go down the road for milk and lots of fruits.... :-o

I could ask one of my housemates, I mean, I did give them chocolate cake. But then, maybe it would be good to catch some healing sunshine. And it is only at the end of the street. *sigh*

Aha. Landlady's son J has arrived. She's just got him back from Iraq, and now they're sending him off to Afghanistan. On the theme of Sports Cars, he drives a stonking TVR, sets the sash windows rattling.

He's the one who used to play Highwayman when he was little and shout, "Stand on your liver!"


Check out this little Flash presentation on Style Icons. Louise Brooks is in it!


OK now I am more tirederer than I was when I started this post...

Friday, February 03, 2006

Martian Threat

I watched The Astronaut's Wife last night - a bit of an extreme premise: alien bodysnatching via a sound transmission - but it got me thinking.

1) Are you for or against the return to earth of soil samples from Mars?

2) Do you perceive a risk of contaminating Earth with new viruses/bacteria/prions/unknown types of microorganisms?
(cf. the interspecies leap of bird flu to humans...)

3) How do fresh samples compare to what might have been introduced over millennia by the thousands of meteors that shower the earth each year?

Microfossils found in Martian meteorites

What's more, how are satellites not completely fried when they are bombarded by the radiation from solar storms, some of which are the size of our planet and larger? This is often what causes failures in the power grid, knocking out communications and the like. The event can hit earth up to an hour after the solar weather forecasters detect it on the sun. However, I have no idea how long it takes to travel 93 million miles.


In the 90s, I bought a copy of Time (or Life?) magazine* which predicted that by now, there would be a research base on Mars** and we would be well on the way to seeding a new Martian atmosphere complete with weather systems, preparing the planet for possible future colonisation as Earth becomes more overcrowded and environmentally infirm. Instead, our focus is on sending big-headed millionaires on space joyrides. And granted, who knows what long term effects such interference will have on our solar system? Man once more playing God to the largest scale yet?

* I still own it, a good collector's piece perhaps?

**By establishing these bases, I think Earth would be spared a major risk of contamination.

P.S. I am a Porsche 911: on my Arty Blog

Thursday, February 02, 2006


Last night I lost Wanadoo again, and I watched a documentary on the Oxyrhynchus Papyri. (Pronounced oxie-rink-us).

(If this is too frightening for you to face, feel free to pop over to my Arty Blog for something a bit more light-hearted.)

Nerd that I am, I typed out everything I could remember before I forgot it. As it has been ages since I wrote an educational post, I thought you'd like to learn about this amazing historical find.
No changes or corrections as I can't be bothered but it's all here:

The Greek Egyptian city of Oxyrhynchus was discovered in 1888 by Flinders Petrie, after having been preserved under hot dry sand for 1500 years. Through the Archaeological Society, an excavation expedition was led by Grenfell and Hunt.

The city Quarters were named after Egyptian gods, and divided up by a grid of streets. Home to one of the largest theatres in the ancient world which held more than 8,000 spectators. All the amenities of a prosperous ancient city.

They decided to excavate the rubbish mounds outside the city walls, at one time 30 feet high. Found piles of papyri in good condition, detailing life in the city. The first fragment was an early Christian document of the early sayings of Jesus, 2nd C AD, the Gospel of Thomas, in existence till then only as a Coptic gospel in Ethiopia. It had not been read for 2000 years.

First dig - 1000 fragments from 1st-6th Century. Mostly in Greek. Some of the giants of the ancient world.

After 10 years they brought 500,000 fragments back to Oxford, and a century later, nearly 80% are still undeciphered. They are stored in flat boxes, in "folders" (i.e. between the pages) of the Oxford University Gazette. The researchers never know what they're going to get when they turn a page.

Only 1% have been published. Papyrologists are abstract thinkers, puzzle solvers, detectives. Before deciphering they may have to painstakingly piece together hundreds of fragments to make one document.

Medieval scholars limited collections to Classical Greek writings of the 5th century - not for literary value but to improve their Greek language skills. So until the discovery of Oxyrhynchus, only about 2% of the Greek writers survived.

Many writers whose names and reputations were known, but texts lost, were rediscovered. Hadn't been read since the age of the Roman Empire!

Apparently, Greeks invented the sitcom. Menander established the ordinary people in extraordinary situations that became the basis for classical western comedy.
His scripts are even written just as people spoke (koinonia), unlike most Greek plays which were in high language (kathaverusa).

For the first time, it was discovered that Sophocles wrote satyr plays.

The writings of Sappho were lost until this discovery also, and all that scholars had of her 9 volumes were the few lines quoted in the texts of other writers. She was the first ancient writer to describe the moon as "silvery", feelings as "bittersweet", and to analyse the symptoms of love: the delicate fire under the skin, the whistling in the ears, the dry throat, the trembling limbs, the inability to speak, a feeling of being close to death.

Ancient Greeks became more humanised and less deified thanks to the discovery of legal documents and personal letters. Their sensitive side was revealed to historians, where before they had been very much put on a pedestal.

There were legal cases - like one in which a weaver's wife left him, so he remarried. His ex-wife and her mother attacked the poor woman in the street, heavily pregnant, and she lost the child.

Or a man locked his family in the cellar for a week, then stripped his stepdaughters bare and whipped them before setting them on fire.

Scholars have taken more than a century to reconstruct, decipher, and publish only a fraction of the vast collection. But today that process may speed up, thanks to a NASA technology adopted by Brigham Young University in Utah: multi-spectral imaging, usually used to peer into space and "look past" light obstacles such as gas clouds. It is near-infrared on the spectrum.

MSI can even see text on papyrii that has been scrubbed out and written over (known as a palimpsest). The near-IR light can see past the newer ink to the more ancient ink that is carbon-based, and in which most of the Oxyrhynchus texts are written.

It may help scientists process the papyrii up to 10 times faster, and the images are being published on the internet for a greater number of papyrologists to decipher.

There is also a plan to scan through the layers of paint and gesso to read layer upon layer of papyrus recycled as papier mache mummy masks. Thanks to this new technology, there is more literature to emerge in the years to come.

Links I've just discovered, if you want to know more:

Oxy at Oxford

Wikipedia rarely disappoints

P.S. The Oxyrhynchus is a "sharp-nosed" fish, also a deity after which the city was named.