About this blog

This is a window into the weird world of Anglicanism, as experienced on a Cathedral Close. Has anything much happened since Trollope's Barchester Chronicles? You will still see the 'canon in residence' hurrying across to choral Evensong, robes flapping, as the late bell chimes. But look carefully and you will notice he is checking the football score on his iPhone as he runs. This is also a writer's blog. It charts the agony and ecstasy of the novelist's life. And it's a fighter's blog. It charts the agony and ecstasy of the judo mat. Well, the agony, anyway.

Monday 9 January 2012


A bit of a break-through today.  I've managed to break free from the stranglehold of colour coordination.  Those of us who know a bit about strangling realise how important this is.  Strangles, unlike chokes, come on gradually.  When you strangle someone you are putting pressure on their carotid arteries in order to cut off the flow of blood to the brain.  This renders them unconscious in a matter of 5-10 seconds.  The temptation on the judo mat is to leave it a little bit too late before you do something about this.  Men in particular are inclined to think that a strangle applied by a woman is unlikely to be effective.  It is very satisfying for the woman to watch the slow realisation cross his face that he'd wrong about that.  He will either have to tap out or pass out.

So yes--breaking strangleholds.  Very important to do this.  (In case you're wondering, a choke is applied to the windpipe and is effective immediately.)  Today, therefore, I am wearing a pair of skinny jeans in a quite dark denim, a black vest (Gap) and a light/dark grey broad striped V-neck pullover (Karen Millen, charity shop somewhere) with a dark olive green chunky knit cardigan.  I know.  How unmatchy-matchy am I?  Black boots.  I suppose I could mix it up a bit more and wear one black and one brown boot, but that might look as though I'm taking the piss.  Or more likely, it might look like I'm a mad old bat who hasn't noticed she's wearing odd boots.

The cardigan was from a charity shop, probably one of the Lichfield ones.  The label says Atmosphere.  That's Primark, isn't it?  My good friend Pat the Midwife (can she fix it? yes she can!  Does all my dress alterations) has banned me from shopping in Primark on the grounds of slave labour.  She has to be right, doesn't she?  If the clothes are that cheap, someone's face somewhere is being ground.  But it's OK to buy Primark stuff from a charity shop, as it has then been ethically laundered as it were; and where, interestingly, it is usually more expensive than it was new.

I'm also wearing a blanket because it's colder in than out.  This is often true of canonical houses.  You wrap up warm, then emerge from the permafrost of your study to find spring has happened and all is balmy in the real world.


  1. I'm struggling to get my head round the idea of a midwife doing dress alterations...an entirely different category of stitching, I would have thought!
    Mind you, as I've never had a baby, what would I know?

    And if you can wear skinny jeans the Dukan diet as obviously very successful.

  2. 'Skinny jeans' is a technical term. They come in many sizes. My friend cuts raw meat up with a pair of special curved scissors. You don't want to know.

  3. Love the resolution. Good luck with it, I look forward to following how it goes.

    Do you know about The Uniform Project where she wore the same dress for a year? (Two copies so washing could happen.) May give you some inspiration. http://www.theuniformproject.com/

    Also, do free clothes count as buying new clothes. If not then Clothes Swaps with friends are a fabulous way of clearing out the wardrobe of the too large/small/mistakes and gaining new clothes sans cost.

  4. I'm definitely up for clothes swaps. Or gifts of expensive designer wear from pitying rich people.

  5. Should any designer togs come my way that I don't want I shall pass them on. Any flying pigs likewise.

    Weirdly I just followed a link off another blog and discovered a Guardian journalist who's made the same resolution

  6. Yes, I saw that piece in Guardian Money. It must be in the ether. I would quite like a flying pig, please, a small one.

  7. Dear Catherine, In reading your paper on judo chokes, I remember that I practiced judo when I was a teenager and young adult (it's been many years!). At that time, judo was mainly practiced by men, but there were some ladies in the club. They trained always together, and almost never worked with men (we were in the early 60s). To put an end to the ostracism, the professor had the habit of organizing mixed randoris about once a month. In fact, it was us, the teenagers, who were called upon. The teacher explained that the morphology of a teenager made ​​him an ideal opponent for a lady. Thus, the ladies of the club had the opportunity to work with a coperative male partner. I do not keep a very good memory of these mixed randoris. In fact, most women judo club owned a respectable level (green, blue, brown belt). I remember they were four or five, and old enough to be my mother or my grandmother. They practiced a clean and fast judo, and I often found myself on the mat before understanding what was happening. I confess I felt a little ashamed (today, it would give me nothing, of course!). The most humiliating thing was to be immobilized by a woman and unable to escape. Once, one of them, the oldest (the "grandmother) gave me a blood choke. Within seconds, I thought my head would explode like a champagne cork: i gave up soon. No risk of not surrending: judo chokes are so painfull. Now, I understood that, in the 50s and 60s, these women saw in judo a means of liberation, empowerment, affirmation, expression. in fact, judo tends to make men and women more equal.

  8. There's a lot of truth in this. Unfortunately, some 16 year old lads are so terrified of being beaten by a woman old enough to be their grandma, they resort to brute force and I pick up injuries. They haven't understood the difference between randori and shiai.

  9. In reading your response, I remember forgotten details ... The teacher forbade us to do shiai with the ladies, simply randori. He was watching us closely. This was very frustrating. We were orange or green belt, aged 12-14 years, and the ladies did us a mouthful. I hardly exaggerating. Foot sweepings, hip throws, sutemis, everything was going on. It was very frustrating because their technique was superior to ours. We were a little lighter and smaller than themselves. In ground combat, we had no luck. According to Professor, the experiment was conclusive, because the ladies were satisfied, and improved their technique. They were very motivated. I quit judo shortly thereafter. In fact, I believe that judo was not for me. There was forty-five years ago ...

  10. At that time, judo was very different from what it became later. There was no competition. We just tried to make beautiful and harmonious moves. The randori was favorated. I think that form of Judo was more suited to women as judo as practiced today.