Sunday, August 21, 2005

2005-08-16 057 Sunlit SailSo I'm gone for a week, and what happens?

Er, Mr I've-forgotten-what-I'm-currently-calling-him over at InAcFa tells me to have patience, but still hasn't answered the question. At this juncture I would just like to remind everyone of the NIAM part of PIAVPIIYCSIAWNIAM*. I also wish to draw your attention to the presence of a post about the Whingealot Club** which was written after I was told to have patience (I am aware it's not actually called that, but I misread it at first).

And finally, being horrifically ill is no excuse.

* Patience is a virtue,
Possess it if you can,
Seldom in a woman,
Never in a man.

My mother used to say if I was impatient. It usually made things worse.

** Although it has inspired me to add the tag "England" where relevant to most of my photographs on Flickr. Admittedly it's not so much about anti-Prescott-regionalism, more due to my annoyance that nobody is looking at stuff on Flickr, and so becoming a complete link-whoring-tag-spammer (although it's not spam per se, merely excessive use of tags). This paragraph makes no sense if you do not use Flickr. You should (despite the creeping Yahoo-isation), and it will.

I think my record is this little picture, but the tags contain the transcription of the contents, so it's not surprising. And that picture was taken purely from a documentative stand point (with a smidge of "ooh, nice light" thrown in), because I'd never noticed the plaque before.

What else?

London Dan has been staying in suprising kinder. Two words: Bill Bailey.

Ok, so those two words lead into quite a few more, as BB explains the English predeliction for Kinder Surprise. It's because we like disappointment. The chocolate tastes awful, the toy either has a bit missing or is profoundly pointless.

Hang on, someone out there quotes the relevant bit:
"I'm English, and as such I crave disappointment. That's why I buy Kinder Surprise. Horrible chocolate; nasty little toy. A double whammy of disillusionment! Sometimes I eat the toy out of sheer despair."

Somebody else's BB quote:
"Crap chocolate, crap toy. In fact, I prefer to call them the eggs of numbing inevitability. Tell you what WOULD be good... open it up, there's a creme egg in there. Oooh! The wonder!"

Where was I?

And the first person to say "here/there" gets a slap.

As does anyone who tries arguing that I've probably been in quite a few places, and so answering the question honestly my take some time.

In fact, anyone attempting to answer rhetorical questions deserves to be force fed Kinder Surprises - toys, capsules and all - until such time as they open one and can truthfully say "That's just what I've always wanted".

Of course the same punishment applies to anyone not answering any question which is not rhetorical.

Anyway, so I go away for a week and what happens? I manage to keep missing the news, so I end up relying on Ceefax. In turn I see each day yet another Madonna related headline:
Woman falls off horse. Not Queen Shock!
Madonna to give up yoga for months. We must brace ourselves.
Madonna faring well. But how's the horse doing?
Madonna leaves hospital. chapel; cleaner suspected of statue theft. Or She dead then? I didn't know she owned a hospital.
Madonna to ride again. Just as well; Pestilence wouldn't go without her.

Ok, easy target, so I'll move on.

Talking of, erm, well, I was talking about other people and their blogs earlier, so returning to that theme, I've updated the sidebar. A slight bit of rejigging, and several new blogs. Some are reciprocating, some simply things I've stuck into the bookmarks at this end for one reason or another.

American Robin works in Bamako and generally travels around Mali.
Bomba News is a blatant recip. I have no idea why he linked to me, and have only just discovered that he had. Hence posting a link to an apparently very recently extinct blog. He's a trainee maths teacher who was in Tanzania for a few months. I'm working my way through his writing from that time.
City of Sound. Yet another Dan in London. This one works for the BBC, writes about lots of things, all of which are interesting, and is generally annoyingly good. He also posts writing from his friend in Shanghai.
I didn't mean to but... tells the story of the restoration and conversion of a trawler currently moored on Fareham Creek. Worth it if only for this quote (which he attributes to a book): If it's supposed to move and doesn't, use WD40. If it's not supposed to move and does, use duct tape.
Rachel's Blog. Recip of a resurrected blog. And why's she know what TWOC means? I had to look it up.
Random musings and life. Ignore the spelling mistake in the description, and the Edit-Me links (although if you're struggling to think of what to put in them... ay en why dash); the posts are good.
The Kyle West. Revamped blog, which I originally bookmarked under the original name (and location) of Ethnoblog. I kept the link because I wanted to find out what happened in the security guard saga, and then promptly forgot to go back.

Anyway, so I was elsewhere briefly. I managed to do some sailing, which largely consisted of discovering I sound exactly like my brother when the crew or the helm is not doing something properly, or is being pathetic, deliberately obtuse, or keeps forgetting that when sailing in light wind, the boom tends to sit above the heaviest person the boat (and at several pounds underweight I've got no hope of balancing out 15st of wronging positioned person), so would they kindly stop tacking us by perpetually trying to be on the windward side of the boat.

But then I also sailed a Laser for the first time. I haven't singlehanded in ages, and I'm used to aft-sheeting. When I got back to shore I was congratulated for performing a series of excellent roll tacks. It's a bit late now, but when should I have mentioned that I'd got in such a muddle trying to tack with an unfamiliar tiller extension and the sheet coming from the wrong end that I'd dropped the extension and lost control of the rudder, so the tacks were involuntary, and the rolling was mostly my attempts to avoid the boom.

It was like being a 6 year old at Rockley again. I got taught that when in trouble drop everything. While sailing an Oppy, I thought I was, so I did. The Oppy promptly sailed in very small, rapid circles until I stopped cowering in the bottom of the boat and grabbed the centred the tiller (and which point it started sailing backwards). Obviously whoever thought of the drop everything advice didn't intend it to be applied in the top end of a six, and they probably didn't think anyone would be foolish enough to let the tiller go hard over.

Back to now-ish, and the Laser is ridiculously tippy. My habitual response to any "I don't like this" situation still mirrors the "let everything go". Except now I don't, but instead ease off the sheet and maybe head up a bit. Which in a Laser only changes the side of the boat you're about to fall off.

Eventually I get some confidence, enough to start hiking out and hoping it doesn't capsize, rather than deliberately stalling it. But in doing so I realise I have to strain to see anything past the sail, which is giving me a crick in my neck, and that the constant stomach crunches needed to keep the boat at the same angle are gradually increasing the size of my dinghy sailor's crescent (like builder's bum, except it starts and ends higher up, and is usually scorched red against the rest of a pale white body). No wonder sailors always have bad backs (although I hurt mine trying to get the Highfield lever on in the Wayfarer, when I wasn't in it).

So I go back in, having not yet capsized (well, I am me). The wind round the sailing club is weak, and I'm scarcely making headway. Coming through the moored boats I see two swimmers, and so give them a fairly wide berth. Unfortunately because I was going so slowly I forgot to keep an eye on everything. I'd positioned myself well, knew where everything was and would be. So I carried on along the same course. Something shifted slightly. I didn't notice. I'm just passing the swimmers, thinking of my course round the next boat, when suddenly echoing out across the becalmed beach is a single dong.

Very end of boom versus stern quarter of large bright orange safety boat. Equals no noticeable damage, except the lingering sound of a tubular bell. Equals the entire population hearing it. Equals my pride sinking quicker than a Dory without the bungs in.

And I thought having to play Roger with a helm who turned the wrong way coming into shore was bad enough.

Explanations: Roger, in Swallows and Amazons, leaps over the bow to stop Swallow grounding. When coming into shore, it is preferable to end up head to wind, to reduce way and eventually stop the boat. This is because fibreglass versus hard abrasive materials like sand or stones is not a good thing (even if I have seen someone sail a Dart several metres beyond the end of the sea). So the helm turns the boat into the wind, as the crew jumps off the bow into shallow water to hold her off the shore. So when the helm bears away, when the wind is blowing along the shore, the sails gain power and boat gains speed, and yet the boat still heading towards the beach. So the Roger has to take a running jump over the bow, land ahead of the boat, get a secure footing, and then stop and hold the boat which is still trying to sail forward.

Thankfully there was hardly any wind, so it wasn't very hard (and of course I waited till I knew I wasn't going to disappear into the sea and then under the boat. It's always fun watching visitors who don't realise the shore shelves).

So that was fun. As was the conversation with the man who is the man who interupted his set to start singing Jerusalem, only didn't know the words (and who soundly slightly stoned. I'm not sure if it was voluntary or residual). Then came the great act of business inducing raising of the Wayfarer. Heavy boat which needs to be pulled uphill, and oh look, all the sunbathers are suddenly leaving or feigning intense interest in the bottom of some bag. Most of said sunbathers take umbrage if no-one comes to help them move their boats. Heaven forfend if a boat should be [part] made of wood.

What else? I rediscovered the joy of swimming with fins (I did get a mask and snorkel, but they had to go back as the strap didn't work. Helpful design feature), so tested my new fins by kicking on my back. It's quite fun riding your own bow wave.

I swam round the old pier umpteen times, including manhandling an ensnared windsurfer with boy on it through the piles.

I took just a few photographs, some of which maybe be better than the Hampshire lot.

I got summoned back. Which wasn't as nice.

I drove back, with slightly too much accelerating when already going quite fast. Personally I blame the other drivers (especially Bloody Mindless Wankers who realise they're being overtaken by a C-reg and so accelerate). I'll just have to claim that I thought I was in Germany.

Anyway, 90's not that fast (in case any policemen are reading, I am of course referring to Joe 90, and his running, which is quite fast for a puppet. Yes, it does appear to be an abrupt change of topic, but then that is in keeping with the erratic style of this blog).

Having said that, I'm fairly sure every member of this family who was able to drive (and we're going back a least a couple of generations) has done a ton, some of them legally. (Once again Mr Policeperson [Mr Policeperson? I'll never get this PC thing], I am not referring to that which it may appear I am referring to, but instead I mean that each of my relatives has done a ton of something else, such as cocaine, although I am aware that it is very remiss of me not to provide metric equivalents).

So are speed limits (well, the very upper speed limits, or "Derestricted" as my mother calls it; you can see where I get it, can't you?) merely for the lesser mortals?

(Hello Mr Policeyman-sir, "speed limits" in this case denoting the total amount of speed which can be safely consumed by one individual in a 24 hour period).

Spot who has just finished Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and wasn't quite sure what to make of it (and didn't know what half the drugs were).

Other recent books include:
"The Heart of the Matter" by Graham Greene. About a Catholic in a West African colony. Odd, but I don't understand Catholicism.
"Bush Falls" by someone or other. Ronseal-ish (does exactly what it says on the back cover).
"The Laments". Weird. A bit crap. Not even entertaining.

I've just started an Iain M Banks (The Algebraist), and am up to Baroque in the Pevesner thing I must have mentioned before.

Anyway, so did London stuff at the end of last week, as I had to be there while wondering whether it really was a good idea (the specific thing, not London generally, unlike a certain daft friend. Anyway reason for being in London gets complicated, so forgive me if I just gloss right over the whole thing).

So what is a boy stuck in the hinterland of Bloomsbury to do when he finishes whatever it was at 5 pm. Get the tube and the train home? No! Especially not in rush hour (which while it sounds misnamed actually isn't. Time passes slower the faster an object moves [or something vaguely like that]. The hour of rush hour is measured from the perspective of the people rushing everywhere. Therefore because they are moving fast time is slower for them, and so a single hour of their time lasts 3 and half hours of the sedentary external observer's time. Hence while it appears to last longer than an hour, to those at the epicentre of the rush it is only an hour).

Wander round despising the rain (Good afternoon, could I speak to God please? Is he? Oh. Do you know when he'll be back? Right. I was ringing up because I ordered a summer back in April, and then got it quite a lot later, which I wasn't too happy about. Since I received, it's hardly gone a week without some problem or other. It keeps breaking down and leaking rain everywhere. Yesterday it just churned this grey stuff that covered everything, and I couldn't get any of it off all day. Basically it's simply not what I expected. You advertise yourselves as a quality brand, and then deliver such... Oh? Well, either a new one or a refund. I'd prefer a new one, because I wanted a summer, and I can't go the entirety of August having rain every other day. Ah, so, how bad is this backlog? Oh, I see. So no hope of one this side of Christmas? Oh dear. So do you want me to send this one back to get the refund? You only do store credit? But I don't want anything else. I don't care if November's on multibuy. I don't want a free February. I want my money back. Look, is there some way I can leave a message for God; does he have a direct line? Voicemail? You started giving contracts to the competition then? What? No, the Devil. Er, never mind. You'll put me through? Right, thanks, bye. Your call is important to us. Please hold. #Greensleves#. Welcome to the Heaven answerphone. Your call cannot be taken right now. To leave a message please speak after the tone. To re-record your message at any time, please press 1. Click... do-Do-DO The number you have dialled has not been recognised. Please replace the handset and try again. do-Do-DO. The number...). Find out exactly where the British Museum is. Go in. Discover it's open till fairly late (different bits of it shut at different times). Go back out to try and take photographs. End up hokey-cokeying on the portico.

Then back in, round the courtyard - I like museums where they've taken the "ah, sod it" approach to photography. However I don't like it when I get a very arch look (from a woman whose eyebrows already arch a suspicious amount) for kneeing
before Polixenes (or whoever) while photographing him. Look it was Friday afternoon I wasn't going to be at my most "The early Magimix period you say? I thought it was post-Kenwood".

Admittedly, I was aware that I walked into a museum with the sole intentions (ignore the single-plural dichotomy there) of taking photographs, seeing the scary horse (my grandfather had a model of the knackered horse from the Elgin Marbles. I always hated it. I thought I ought to see it before they get shipped off to Greece), and maybe buying a postcard.

I walked up the outside of the Rotunda, found I was on the third floor, checked the map, tried to walk into the Greece and Rome gallery, discovered it was look, was a bit disappointed, walked down to the ground floor, found the blockbuster galleries where still open, sought out the Marbles (complete with some very fine arses), was far too amused the combination of classical and neoclassical stonework, found the horse, wandered a bit more, went out, struggled not to laugh at the following exchange.
Fat, probably Canadian, woman (with husband): Excuse me, where is the such-and-such?
Attendant: On the third floor, [something] the north.
Fat woman: And how do we get there?
Attendant: Through the double doors here. Take the stairs round...
Fat couple in unison: Stairs?
Attendant: Round the outside of the Rotunda. It's just at the top. There is a...
Fat woman, to her husband, ignoring the attendant as they just walk off: My goodness, I don't know, this country, can you believe they have stairs? It's...
Attendant, in the same even, calm, patient voice as before: Well goodbye then. I hope you enjoy the rest of your visit. It was really great to meet you. Have a nice day. Enjoy the rest of your life.

I shouldn't have been laughing, because the surliness at the end was incredibly rude, but then he had just had two people ignore the fact he was a human (and walk off just as he was telling them where the lifts were).

So I went on to poke my head into a few darkened galleries, before entering a Syrian hall, which was empty except for the pigeons. I have to admit to wondering about the type of mind which demands his own tag in cuneiform bands on every stone. But I was soon distracted by seeing a carved figure and thinking "Walk like an Assyrian", because he didn't have his spout hand in the right place.

Anyway, so then left, wander vaguely east, but without A-Z, so not quite sure of the route, through the bottom of one of the Inns, then eastwards a bit more, seeking out photographs (oh, did I mention the fun of changing film in the forecourt of the British Museum when it's raining and the film shreds?), eventually catching site of the reflection of a golden statue, and thinking that A. there's sun up there, and B. I recognise that.

I eventually followed the angles and came out at the Old Bailey. So I now know where that is. Ok, so I don't know how to get there again, but I've seen it. Then wandered more, and suddenly came out on a gorgeous sunlit stone tower, glowing gloriously. A couple of shots later, and I realise that it's the west end of St Paul's, seen across Paternoster Square. Probably should have twigged sooner.

Lots of St Paul's in low sun shots, then southeast, wishing I had faster film, tripod or a nice digital camera with adjustable ISO (BTW, does that effect the quality of the shots, like film does, or it just change how much light blinds it?).

Then nearly home, but on the spur of the moment decided I'd try to get urban night shots, so I thought "where's got neon? Soho!"

I then realised I was being rather fantastical, as without a tripod all I'll get is the red blur district. Anyway, I discovered that wearing a suit makes all the difference in terms of the flyers. Normally I get past ignored. I wear I suit and I get solicitations from all directions. And why I'm on it, does anyone else think it's odd that one street can be very, very gay, and the next is full of near-brothels (random thought: do gay brothels exist? Never occurred to me).

On that thought...


PS. Just realised. That BT invalid number message is a bit landline-ist: replace the handset. What's wrong with "please try to hit the red telephone button, or whatever the equivalent is on your phone, only to discover that you've in fact hit something else and have just taken a fantastic, if rather dark, photograph of the inside of your index finger; unless you have opened that text message from an unrecognised number you got sent at 3 am, which you suspect was sent while the texter was a bit drunk; or maybe you've started that game which was one of the two pre-programmed into the phone, and which consists of making the small coloured blobs change colour, and which also has not point whatsoever, other that earn someone somewhere a small programming fee, and which also has a strange mind numbing prole-feed quality to it. If you are unsure which of these options you have chosen, then you've probably just put your phone menus into Cantonese. Yes, they do do that now. And there you were wondering where the Suomi Islands where. Congratulations. You will be pleased to know that in racking up your mobile bill by listening to all this, that your network provider has just overtaken Papua New Guinea in revenues. And if you listen very carefully, you will soon hear no change as the network you are using switches to being Orange France, or O2 Eire, and so you are now being charged for making an international call from a foreign country. Please hang up now, so you friend can call you back and we can charge both them and you minute rates which match the entire CAP budget. If you would like to receive hourly status updates via text message [cost £3 per message, minimum duration 12 months. To stop, text 'STOP' to 888recurring, then chuck your phone down a black hole] then text "ME THICK" to eight-oh-one-oh-one. Please press one. To delete the message, press three. Ha-ha! You like a fool, with your listening-to-voicemail dance, as your arm bounces randomly between your ear and in front of your eyes. To listen to next message press four, to... Oh, you didn't get that? You were pressing four were you? So you missed the bit where we said just after 'press four' that by pressing four you are authorising the transfer of the deeds to your house to Pirate Telecom? Ah, well, now you see, you pressed four, so you actually did give us your house. You have been evicted; please leave the Tel Co house. Please hold, there now follows an important announcement. We are sorry. This call will be terminated. The galaxy is currently being destroyed. Some idiot brought the black hole to his phone. Please hang up and try again. Please hang up and try again. Please hang yourself and try again."

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