Saturday, January 21, 2006

2006-01-14 003This would have been a breaking news post, except it's being posted a bit late because I was talking to people instead, and anyway it had already broken which is why I knew about it (ok, so being currently uninterneted and televisionless, I didn't know until my mother rang me (ok, so maybe occasionally, by which I mean very occasionally, her incessant phone calls do serve some purpose). The unI'd state also explains why posting has gone a bit infrequent and why the stuff that's been written hasn't been posted yet [and won't be for a while, as I forgot to transfer it]).

Anyway, I saw a whale. I've never seen one before, only porpoises and dolphins. And this time I didn't need binoculars, as it was about a third of the way across the Thames.

It sounds less exciting now. Admittedly having a 20 ft mammal wandering round Central London is a bit of a rarity, but some how it seemed more important yesterday. It was a whale. It looked fairly whale-ish (although a bit dolphin-y as well).

So anyway, yesterday I managed to be completely irresponsible and discover why Battersea park is called Battersea Park. Or it might just be that usually there's a fish and chip van in it, instead of yesterday's ice cream van. It had people actually buying ice cream! In January, with a fairly northerly wind blasting off the Thames. Admittedly it was also doing a roaring trade in tea and coffee to the assembled media [what is the plural for people in the media? Mediums? Or more likely Grandes? Paperazzi?], although the roaring could have been due to the five helicopters all holding station over the scene. Which did make me wonder just how much the pictures of a whale were worth to keep the helicopters running continuously (except for refuelling breaks).

With droning, clapping and roaring of the helicopters, coupled with every enterprising boat in the vicinity milling about, it's not really surprising the thing didn't seem to know where it was going; it had just walked into the cetacean equivalent of an cheap electronics store where every television and radio is on to prove it works (and they're never all the same channel). Picking up on the boats idea, I can understand why port authorities, like the Harbour Master (harbour? London's got one of those?) might show an interest. One can also vaguely understand a Police boat turning up. But a big red thing labelled "Fire Rescue"? And which appears to be carrying more Hasselblads than hoses or lenses than ladders? Well, they can probably claim it was a best value option under the PFI bit of some hastily concocted PPP scheme (actually, how long will it be before emergency services are privatised? And they discover that fire engines can make more money operating as taxis (just think how quickly they can get through traffic). Of course it might also mean that dialling 999 gets one put through to an automated call system, where pressing 1 allows one to change user account details; option 2 provides details of the customer loyalty scheme - Had 3 or more fires in the past year? Then you could save money with the LFB Toasty-Plus scheme; option 3 gives details on current fires - 19 Cardigan Rd is well ablaze. The fire at 37 Llewellyn St is currently delayed by approximately 8 minutes. The Brewer St inferno has been downgraded to a conflagration. All other combustions are operating as normal; option 4 for insurance services - Strawhouse Direct for all your flammable needs. New Oxidation-Exempt Policies cover you for fire but not the effects of oxidation, which other less scrupulous insurers insist on selling you. We believe you deserve the choice. Why pay more for something you may not need? Buy online and save more! 5% Discount for igloo-dwellers; option 5 for gas and electricity providers - Did your kitchen exploding push you over quota? Are you being charged a higher tarriff for fuel you didn't mean to use? Um, you get the idea (yes, I did start looking at Flickr and forget where this is going).

So do whales really need fire ships standing by? I know whale blubber is flammable, but it is surrounded by quite a lot of water, and it does rather lack any source of ignition (spontaneous combustion exempted, because it doesn't really exist and is usually someone being unconcious long enough to turn into a candle, hence the low fat content lower limbs left intact).

Anyway, whale + media circus. But as the reporter from the Mirror (which he emphasised was the Daily Mirror. God knows why) said, it was a slow news day. I overheard CNNers debating which dull stories they could now happily ditch. Sometimes the media worries me. Especially when they decide to start interviewing people and pick out the two small boys in mid-calf length blue cords, who hadn't actually seen the whale yet (you might have wanted to check that before your started recording. And of course while being interviewed they were missing some of the best views) and had names like Fabian and Lysander, as if the 16th century school uniform hadn't given it away yet. But then you have be impressed with people who run a broadcast from the back of an Astra. Especially when they try interviewing someone who's been dispatched by another media company.

But while in the afternoon I joined a mass hoo-ha, I'd also managed to see hawk in the morning, while taking a short cut that turned out not to be a shortcut (I think the lack of contours in my A-Z did it, as did forgetting that page 49 is not going to be at central London scale). But I found a very nice place, which is very like where I grew up (big houses, narrow roads, steep hills and lots of trees. Unfortunately it's also like a certain place southwest of here in that it has lot of very expensive, very big and very badly driven cars, complement with women who think that pulling an "Oh, silly me!" face will cancel out the fact they've just backed into a crowded pavement).

You will of course notice that lack of placenames. That's because it's close to where I live, and I don't really want someone I might know Googling for "late night shopping in Barnstaple" and finding me talking about that subject, and joining the dots. Whereas it probably doesn't matter if those who habitually read this figure things out, as the majority are in a different country (well, up north is mentally a different country) which limits stalking ability, and anyway, I appear to managing to stalk one of them.

So if I start talking about Haywards Heath or Tunbridge then you can probably figure out where I mean (although some of the other names need work: Oxlair or Oxburrow sounds vaguely possible, although Pastel Fields isn't short enough and Early-New-Testament-Book Ash isn't enough of a place to start with), and if you can't, please don't use the comments to guess.

Of course, I'll probably forget all this and mention some road, bus route (I discovered then end of one post-whale), what I can see from the kitchen or even that the places have aliases, much like I did with Tweeton, Notacity, Notavillage and whatever I called the other places.

Anyway, I'd better go and do some of the things I mean to do yesterday, and didn't manage to do this morning through a mix of market-induced confusion (how much is 1.69 per kilogram in lb [spot who was raised pre-EU-isation]? How does that compare with a pound a dozen? How many come in the one pound per bowl option, and how much do they weigh? Are only those on top decent quality? Will I get all the dross? Will the server lean on the scales? And why haven't the people who haven't priced anything realised that the reason no-one buys stuff from them is because no-one knows how much any of it costs, although berating passers-by for not buying things is not really a good sales technique, especially if the berater can't even be bothered to leave their chair?).


PS. New shoes may also cause blisters. Drat.
PPS. Radio 4 is very addictive, isn't it? My flatmate left it on, and suddenly I found myself standing by the radio for the entire duration of The Now Show.

I can't believe it died. :(

Media circus sounded hilarious though!
Actually, "media" is the plural of "medium" so "assembled media" is already a plural.
Az: It was getting increasingly inevitable - if you consider the fact it didn't seem to be making headway against the incoming tide, plus it was effectively blind (due to muddy water), trapped in a small area, and stuck in some brackish zone where the salt becomes more dilute the further upstream one gets [I found some odd sign about it outside MI6 a while ago, but obviously didn't get round to blogging it]. Which when combined do not make for a happy bunny (or whale). It's probably the last bit which was the most damaging, as the electrolytic and osmotic bits of homeostatis start being overwhelmed.

HK: I know, but the word "media" tends to get singularised, plus there's the whole plural of a plural thing.

But ignoring the nuances of grammar for now (and probably for ever), hello, welcome, and the everpresent how'd you find me?
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