Friday, June 30, 2006

[Apologies for any repetition, but Blogger cannot find this post]

IMG_1027blog (noun): an object creating guilt through lack of use. A bit like those borderline CDs and DVDs that you probably wouldn't have bought in hindsight, but sometimes a bit more fun.

blog (verb): to procrastinate over procrastination.

Sorry. A mix of not much to tell and far too much to tell.

Firstly comes something I saved as a one-line draft about the same time I saw something about Sven arrested in terror raid, which I think was a slightly heavy-handed reaction to uninspiring football.

Good name (and I don't mean Hannah).

The other random link is to a Boots ad [scroll down to downloads]. I've no idea who Duncan is, other than the first Google result, as the link I was sent helpfully provides the email addresses of about 30 people I know, so that's probably not a blogsafe link.

Which vaguely gets me to emails (one reason for the lack of blogging is a tendency to email half the readership, plus those non-"artificial" [yep, mocking someone else's words, I'll explain later] people who I knew before I emailed them).

It's odd how two words can mean so much. Two words which are rarely used. Two words which perhaps ought not be used. But two words which bizarrely denote an immediate kinship. Only certain people use them, especially to me, and I like all of them. Sorry, not doing well on explaining, but it's odd how something which is bad can be grin-inducingly good.

I'm now debating whether to reveal them, and thus encourage people to email me using, and so perhaps break the correlation. But I think I'll leave it to guesswork. Email me for long enough and you probably will use them. But if you don't email you may never know.

Of course, as a ploy to get people to interact (which I'm not even sure I want, as I remember my annoyance when I first started considering tempering my blog to the known readers; how dare they read it and thus make me think of their reaction), this only works if those reading are as curious as I am, which is both unlikely and unhealthy.

So moving on. After working my way into various events over the past few weeks, I went to a launch at CABE on the cost of bad design. I was expecting either an illustration of current poor designs and modes of correcting them, or perhaps something on assessing faults and costs. Admittedly I hoped it would be more on the side of How Buildings Learn, simply because it would be more fun.

Instead it turned into a slight bitchfest complete with snubs and snide remarks about the aesthetics of architecture (OMG av u like sin tha well hummin marble cladding?), with a few layers of politics sprawled across the surface like a particulary unconvincing marble veneer (Is like well Thatcherite. An dem towblo is propa socialist).

There were a few salient points, but the pettiness swamped most of those. And apparently one of the better speakers (ok, questioner/writer) is not actually Dr Jake Bacillus, as he was recorded in my notes, but something more continental, which oddly has lost the formatting between generations (someone made the mistake of asking me a slightly patronising question, so I was demonstrating, rather vehemently, that I'm not a complete ignoramus on the subject, while the father wandered up. Turns out Little Miss Dismissive is future daughter-in-law of Mr Fairly Well Known* Two Words Both Capitalised by Dr Alloneword), but which I'll elide for the sake of Google (who can find him without surname, but that's hopefully a rare search).

*If one knows these circles, as my brother does, so happened to mention the name later. Cue slight awkward pause while I think better of mentioning my encounter.

Anyway, the report/booklet/essays/whatever-it-was-they-launched is here. Some of it is better than others, but I'll leave you to try and work out which.

Or just read How Buildings Learn, by Stewart Brand (and probably City Comforts, either the book* or the blog) and you'll be most of the way there.

* Still haven't. But not even the [epitome of bad design] British Library has heard of it (I did consider buying a batch and distributing copies around various libraries, but I'm not sure where they stand on donations, plus there's the whole fees thing. And anyway, he's withdrawn the prices for batch or international buys, and the A of POA always makes me nervous. Plus I have no money).

What else have I done?

Summer Exhibition again. Not seen any of the films on at the Scoop (the hole by the GLA), as they're only on during June, something I noticed on Wednesday, and it's now Friday, which is the last day they run. It's The Constant Gardener tonight, so instead I'm going to see real, actual, knowable people, some of whom I happened to live with at uni (and one of whom wrote the email beginning two-wordedly that made me smile), and we might be going for "some drinkings".

Hmm, just noticed what I have open in different windows (other than the ubiquitous "open in tabs" mail window and Blogger): British Library, City Comforts, Royal Opera House, Royal Academy of Arts, Tate, CABE, GLA and Glitter for Brains, who has been going for a month more than I have, and does an excellent line in describing singing voices (no, there really is one excellent line on the subject - the last one of one of the paragraphs of the last post on the current page).

Sorry, just got very distracted by the archives (he launched on my birthday). A certain person who wishes to remain nameless but who may just happen to be someone who will turn up later in this post, and you could have probably figured that out, recommended GFB (oh, someone else with those initials), while saying he can't link to GFB because half of it isn't suitable for those who read his blog and aren't big enough or ugly enough to cope with the concept of volition, but we've already bickered about this (well, he apologised for something, then explained slightly too emphatically, and then decided I was argumentative; a conclusion I most ardently disagree with).

And in a completely, totally, utterly unrelated matter, I recently met a certain someone, who takes great pains to protect his anonymity in certain spheres, a stance probably not helped by having his real name (assuming it is his real name) in his URL. All I can say is, Sin and Dan, you've got some catching up to do (and AF, do let me know if you ever intend to join the game), as I've met him a whole two times (ok, so maybe one and half, as I was bit late the second time, but that's because LU shut, oh, every east-west line but neglected to mention this, so I ran up from Problem, to change onto a different line at Problem Square, which was where I discovered that they actually did have a problem, and then along to Hutch Street [formerly Problem Road], where the boards proclaimed universal "Good Service", except for the usual The Rollercoaster and City Line is closed until September 2006). So down, then up, then thrice turned widdershins, and so to the magical realm of Paddington Underground, which is where the tunnel from platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross actually goes, or at least appears to do so, given the number of people wandering round wondering where exactly they are and what mystical powers control these strange realm.

And yes, I know it should be twice, but that breaks down the two discrete units thing.

For those that don't know, there are about 3 Paddington stations on the Underground (depending one which map on consults), and the slightly bizarre situation above ground which means one can walk past something labelled as Paddington Underground Station, walk past a different unconnected Paddington Underground Station and still have trouble finding the main entrance to Paddington the railway station (which includes at the far end of a platform another underground station). No wonder owners of Peruvian bears ditch them upon arrival; they probably put him down and them couldn't find him again. The main entrance to the station is down a side road by The Lawn, in case that helps. Just keep an eye for the grass.

Anyway, so other complete, nearly as fun as trying to find the male toilets at the Globe*... I'm sorry, I was so busy writing the asterisk, I forgot where this was going. I do hope you enjoy the asterisked item.

* You have followed the signs, opened the door to the building, walked in to see the female loos on the left, and a barrier tape stretched across the descending stairs ahead. To the right is an empty information desk. There are several men standing idly in the room. Do you wish to go left, right, forward or back?
You have moved forward. You can see nothing more. Two men come in behind you. Do you wish to go left, right, forward or back?
You have moved forward. You can see nothing more. One man behind heads right, the other towards the female doors. Do you wish to go left, right, forward or back?
You have moved right. The man who went towards the female loos has found the male door. Do you wish to go left, right, forward or back?
You are following the man who found the door tucked in the corner, parallel to the front door. So is everybody else. One says "it's not obvious". You agree. There will not be space for all in the loos. Do you wish to follow, abort or move left, right, forward or back?
You cannot abort. It is too crowded. Stand and wait your turn...
... the crowd forces you towards a cubicle. It is in use. Do you enter, resist or move away?
You cannot resist. The force is too strong. Turn to the power of the Dark Side Luke (any relation of Cool Hand?). But fortunately one empties and so you plough straight in. Vaguely connect with that thing at CABE about poor design (who by the way have dreadful loos, complete with connecting doors; in that the doors connect when opened simultaneously, usually with someone in the middle).

Anyway, back to he who wishes to be anonymous (I did say remain, but he's not). First meeting we adjourned to the pub, but it was closed (well, er, yes, it was before 11), so we settled for the nearest cafe with a loo. Order two hot chocolates, which for once was not me opting to have whatever the other person is having (it's one way round indecisiveness, but allows me to try things I wouldn't normally consider, especially if someone else is paying, and at least I know now veal is gastronomically dubious as well as purportedly morally dubious [I can't remember why: I think it's probably people saying "you can't kill the big-eyed ickle bull", or some such stuff, although as you can't milk them, there's not much other use for them, and anyway, maybe the bit I had was badly cooked, but it felt like eating fat, and tasted like water. Anyway, back to the point, or at least story]), but simply mutual tastes. One turns up. After a fairly long conversation, during which I wonder if mine was ever going to come, consider reminding the staff, decide against it, wonder why it is I'm here, and whether or not hot chocolate is important in the grand scheme of things (or even in the venti scheme of things [is venti big or little?]), just how long it can take to dump a spoonful of Cadbury's into hot liquid, even if they have to wait for the kettle to boil first, and whether I did actually order one, and perhaps if "two" means "please" or "drink" in Italian, it turned up.

So frothy beverages aside, or at least left on the rocky table, what was this man like? Well, he was wearing shorts (apparently Liespig is a bit warmer than England after a day of rain), with a top he described as "custard and blueberries", which not only makes me hungry, think of something vicious and purple, struggle to remember more of Rhubarb and Custard than the name and think that it's not really blueberries, more bluebarely, so maybe it was a mixed dyslexia and predictive text and it's just as well I didn't wear the yellow.

Physically, he looks fairly typical. Brown hair, eyes mostly blue, slightly tendency towards chinless wonder. But fairly normal. At that concerns me. His emails have suggested otherwise. Not explicitly, but well, people that curious can't look normal can they? I mean, don't they have to be physically nosey? Don't they actually have to look, well, like me? He does have freakily long eyelashes, although he insists that having them extend past one's eyebrows is utterly normal. And I've never noticed someone with a solitary white eyelash before.

But moving on before you think I spent the entire time staring at his eyes. I also had a good look at his naked legs, although that's mostly from a tendency to look down while I think of what to say. And considering he complained that England is cold compared to tropical east Germany, they were very white legs (in comparison to my yet-to-wear-shorts-but-still-haven't-lost-all-of-last-year's-tan legs. He didn't seem convinced that I when I said the only foreign blood in me was Viking, despite having patriotically coloured wrists, albeit only on one side).

Anyway, so we had hot chocolate. Both made sure to use the loos rather than pay an extortionate 20p at the station (do you get a free jar of marmalade?). We chatted, slightly awkwardly, but less stilting than some other scarcely-knowns. I think it's because the lead-in was brief, and it was only mild curiosity and the procrastinating potential that drew me in, rather than letting it build as I normally do, filling the gaps with the best parts of me. And also because initially it didn't matter.

Initially. Right up to the point were the world became claustrophobically small (that was nearly "catastrophically small" but my internal "that's not quite right" alarm went off, unlike the famous instances in which I referred to an "amplitheatre" [well, if it's built well, it will amplify] or perhaps the cosmo/metro/neapolitan debacle). If by ill fortune one happens to grow up in one pesky town, the whole world knows who you are and where you come from (and it always sounds silly next to "Mighty, Mighty..."). Still hasn't topped the Montserrat Ferry Incident, but it's up there with the Kilimanjaro Crisis. And I'm not saying who, or how, but it's one of those Wolverhampton "oh, so you know them then?" things that shouldn't actually be answered with a "yes".

Oh hell, I haven't really started this post but I've got to go and miss the Gardener, and see the uni friends instead. And of course I haven't put the links in yet, so lets see how long it takes you to guess who this mysterious man is.

I know this is rambling and confusing, but it will become clear (given a decade or so).


Saturday, June 17, 2006

GF5 600 - London Eye - 25It's a week since the preview of the RA's Summer Exhibition, and I still haven't written about it. That's probably partly because I didn't go round all of it, and I didn't do it in as much depth as I would have liked to. But it's also possibly because I'm not sure of the words one should use to describe it. Those I want to use sound so preposterous that I may as well just stick a glace cherry on top. Compared to the art they are leaden and clumsy. And yet despite these failings, they are right. But instead of binding them into an unwieldy whole, here's a few scavengings from various emails:
...astoundingly good...
...I could have quite easy spent a lot there...
...astoundingly good, but was far too much to take in, so I'll have to go back repeatedly. I now need a proper job so I can go to next year's and buy something there (my brother very nearly did till he saw the bit about 30% commission)...
...Oh, and you definitely should go to the RA Summer Exhibition. It's superb (and one could spend a fortune there), but it was too much for all of our group, so my brother and I will be heading back, probably frequently...
...astoundingly good...
...too much - both [brother] and I want to go back, probably many times. [Brother] didn't buy anything (I think it was the nearest he's ever come to buying art), but a lot is very buyable (assuming money, although not everything is £53,000)...

Apparently I have a rather small vocanulary. And a tendency to repeat myself. And draw from a slightly minimal lexicon.

So, in conclusion: too much astoundingly good and much too astoundingly good.

After that came the barbeques, with the first [brother's work plus neighbours in Hendon, which is so far up the Northern Line it runs out of tunnel and has to make for the surface] better than the second [brother's girlfriend's university friend and housemates' in Islington. Small courtyard, many people, cigar smokers in chairs for most of it, leaking overflow causes permanent rain over a third of it. Budget ten times the previous one, but about half the fun. Told to bring nothing, got one warm lager and half a spare rib. Even the sheen went off the chocolate fountain when we discovered the sheen comes from the added vegetable oil needed to make the chocolate liquid. I think the four in our group would have had more fun going home and playing Trivial Pursuit - a game I hate, especially when cajoled into playing it with my brother's ex-flatmate and American girlfriend, neither of whom trouble Mensa. I got accused of cheating for knowing what Yoshida Kōgyō Kabushiki-gaisha made (it's in the initials)].

Since then not much has happened. I've sat through talks as part of London Sustainability Weeks, and managed to mention I only recognised someone from Grand Designs (the sand bags one), and then have the same person come and kiss the woman I was talking to. Oh, so you know her then?

The talks were a bit diverse, ranging from interesting, slightly misjudged and mind-numbingly dull (if parts of the audience are going to the back to top up drinks and get food, do not start skipping things as unimportant and then change your mind and talk about something you find interesting on that particular Powerpoint slide, but which the nodding heads, despite initial appearances, do not seem to find interesting. And do try not to just read what it says on the slides. Basically, he never really had the audience, which only seemed to worry him into more detail [and he did include a comprehensive tour of his website; a highly specialist website where normally you'd only look at about 3 pages in one visit]).

Ok, so I'm not being completely fair, as I had been awake since 3 am, and had been running round rush hour London with a foolish amount of baggage.

But I did get to be in the same room as the superbly named Dusty Gedge, who, although he should possibly change it to Smoky Gedge, or possibly Coughy Gedge, is the second Dusty I've ever met; the first being the wonderfully named Dusty Miller. Yes, he is a mechanic (and I think he was born before Trumpton existed {ok, so that's apparently Windy, but still, as names go...)).

Later in the week I managed to find myself going to some event on Friday evening (yep, Friday night in the summer, I head to the GLA). Get there. Go through detection barrier, walk to main desk, follow other people to the table at the end where they are collecting name badges. Loiter slightly. And then say:
"Hi, we're from X, and we got sent an email about the event in the Living Room tonight, but I didn't know we needed to book". Cue a discussion on the RSVP which neither of us saw, and then we get given passes and told to write our names, and where we're from, and then sent up via the public lift, aping instructions in slightly "one cross each" way.

And then we emerge into an empty room, and I disappear to the loo, and then realise I've just dumped my rucksack (the one that got me reported to and stopped by the police) half hidden behind a wall on the top floor of City Hall. Structurally it's a bit of poor spot, although there would be a fair few lacerated tourists milling below. And I wonder if anyone ever has gone to the loo and found their briefcase at the centre of a rapidly emptying building?

Anyway, so we stand, head out to admire the view (yes, neither of us brought a camera, I thought of it, but have a cracked lens and no film). Watch Tower Bridge open. Watch Tower Bridge Close. Hang round for a hour, being talked to occasionally. Get to the speeches, which are short, propagandary and uninformative, and in the process discover we've come to a networking event on behalf of the environmental wing of the Labour party. And that's all it's going to be: networking.

So after downing my own body weight in cranberry juice, eventually getting through to the platter offerers that we are poor young people who haven't eaten yet and so after being ignored as the most poorly dressed people in the room, suddenly when they hover near us when they want to offload the remaining food. Which was very, very meat heavy, and thus ideal fair while being buttonholed by a vegan leaflet wielder, who was taking a break from being a lab technician [MS Word does not know the word "vegan". Huzzah!].

And when you say "taking a break" from a very dull and antisocial job, is that supposed to trigger alarm bells? Because if it is, please tell me next time so I don't have to spend half an hour wondering how soon I'll die if I dived through the plate glass and managed to get over the balcony, while desperately trying to divert the conversation from his failings in Learndirect's computer skills course [which bizarrely has a name like "European Driving License"] with such novel questions as "which of those masts is Crystal Palace?"; a technique which went rather awry when he asked if the other was Alexandra Palace, and why it's still up there, as it was built in the thirties for radio broadcast. I foolishly made the mistake of trying to explain electro-magnetic transmission, which I hastily abandoned once I realised he'd caught the word radiation; he was delving for what I feared might be his Bacofoil so'wester.

I have a hunch my early gambit on the viability of Google's server based spreadsheet system, in the light of Oracle and alike, might have been somewhat misjudged, as were the accidental references to Googling and forwarding, the former of which apparently did not compute in this man's head, and the latter elicited a confusing questions about if the Post Office charges for that.

And then an unfortunate slip by SG on mitigation methods for stormwater runoff (she was using the Greek model of conversation: two unrelated concurrent monologues) then led onto precipitation and water usage, which brought more rummaging in the bag. SG not being honed in social niceties foolishly extended her hand to take a copy of the paperwork he was pulling out (I'm not sure if he still thought we were members of the Green Party, as their free magazine topped our respective piles of free blurb, which was a little heavy on corporate sponsorship [apparently Morrisson's Petrol Stations are green, for some "I haven't read the press release yet because I was taking notes on the reverse with my free Defra biro, which is a normal plastic biro wrapped in ostentatiously brown recycled card" reason]. Maybe we should have said yes we were granola eating socked soya sandallers (I don't know what granola is, other than perhaps some Victorian musical invention, but I think ethical Americans eat it). Maybe we should have been going all out to convince him that we were mad.

Anyway, the leaflets, with strong back up by our new best friend, propounding the water intensity of meat compared to other crops, which was wonderfully illustrated by pictures showing much blood pouring out of a cow, and thus the water content of the animal. Choosing to take the Hari Krishna Free Food approach (smile beatifically, say "thank you", rather than tear into a savage critique of the psuedo-scientific nonsense their leaflet indulges in), I let SG be bewildered while I realised this man must have already tried to convert the waiters, as they're all now giving me a wide birth. So while not doubt animals require water, and probably more water than some crops, I couldn't really bring myself to be concerned about his cause. Besides which, I thought it indelicate to mention the word "rain".

The best bit was waiting for SG, who doesn't have the greatest level of English fluency, to figure out that the reason that what she thinks he said is so odd is not because of mistranslation of his unusual idioms, but because he is one of those men who can get into any building, simply because every member of staff realises the best course of action is to refer him to someone else, preferably in Accounting, or their Norwich office, and thus he passes with the greatest of ease through the space.

I wish I had a camera for her facial expressions once the fen finally dropped.

Fortunately, SG was literally recoiling from her earlier eagerness, and the funny little man was so earnestly entranced with his task of converting her, that the conversation literally drifted away, leaving me marooned with only a few of Bermondsey to console me. So I deftly drained the glass, wishing they had some vodka at the bar, and went to get another drink, taking the precaution of hiding in the loo first. And then I came back out, and made good use of the passing trays of succulent and bloody beef, skewered chicken, salmon lollipops, and oh, these pancakes are duck? Good-o. All while standing in dangerous proximity to the odd man's back, wondering how I mime to SG that she ought to decide she needs to go to the loo, and thus, alack and indeed alas, must abandon him. Hardly gallant, but it's like getting mud off shoes; you don't do it while standing in the mud.

If I'd met Nicky Gavron beforehand, I think I would have been keen ensure that the GLA's favourite former lab tech made her acquaintance, if only to get a display in how the masters deal with such people (possibly by giving him a security pass and directions to a side street off Whitehall).

So fortunately we extricated ourselves, with SG blaming me for abandoning her (hardly fair; she walked away, I merely chose not to follow). And then a short amount of promenading; one thing about glassy buildings is that reflections abound, and so forewarned one can walk swiftly with studiously averted eyes as he steers an intercepting course. And we only had to hide behind the grossly oversized plasma screen televisions once.

And then we might the hosts, who seem nice, if mad, in a fortunately self-declared "I'm mad, I am" way, which usually only indicates lack of humour rather than lack of a hemisphere. And SG, in an effort to appear keen, nearly got us inducted then and there by SERA (Turning the Reds Green, without making them go a funny brown colour along the way, and I'm not sure how they cope with the range of Labourites which reaches nearly to indigo), which could have been interesting had they discovered I've never voted Labour and have no intention to (it's almost like crashing the Masons), and that SG isn't a member of the only political party she has at home (and it's a little bit to the left of Labour).

Somehow we ended up not knowing if we should leave the conversation, now joined by a rather good looking Assembly Member, who talked freely about the decisions behind choosing London over Westminster (more impact), the relative memorability of Gordon Brown versus a magician (the latter by far), the fact GB had granted a long personal audience, and had stayed for an hour, the comparative value of magicians (at which point I started to wonder if a friend's cousin who did her birthday party [not officially, he just started and then there was no stopping him], and had just won some important award was the same guy as one of those being discussed, who had the same name and had also won some similar sounding award), a few other amongst-friends things, strategies for re-election, including finding news gathering causes, and who spoke with an ease which suggested it never occurred to him that someone might not vote for him (either that or he was ignoring his Lib-Demdar and not-yet-Torydar).

But after that disarming, frank and lucid conversation (well, really speech), of the finer points of politics (yes, it's regrettable that skin colour and surname can earn radio time and the option of a safe parliamentary seat [cue joke about the good little Muslim, who before 9/11 never thought he was a Muslim, drinking wine]. Yes it's even more regrettable that the only subject which gives access to Radio 4 is Home Office based), it's quite odd that someone who I really don't know could seem so likeable (if not vote-worthy. If I wasn't so anal in actually reading manifestos, then maybe).

We also a nice girl from Scope, who had absolutely nothing to do with the event, except was angling after a job that might have been related to someone who might have come, but hadn't. But she told us about another networking event, which I might have to go to, because even though I hate networking and can't do it, I probably need to.

So we went expecting a lecture or three, plus questions, plus informal discussion, and instead found ourselves wondering if it's even worth approaching the guy from the Fabian Society with the permanent sneer (I would have done, if only to see if he was as rude as his face made out, had I been able to remember what the Fabian Society do, other than all agree on what an underrated name Fabian is).

And then down, and out of the door, still wearing the badge which proclaims me "Mayor of London", and passed the gathered crowd, which we'd spied on above, deciding that we didn't feel like standing for the duration of Walk the Line to see the top third of Joaquin Phoenix and presumably nothing at all of Reese Witherspoon, even if it was free.

So then along the Thames, with a brief detour on to the pier by London Bridge (because it's there, and there's no gate), to spot the fish weathervanes on that French looking thing with blue lights (the one my A-Z marks as "Old Billingsgate Market", which would be, hmm, the fish market?). Then back by tube. And that was as exciting as my Friday night got (and my Saturday night, after the very merry fire alarm [the fire engine used its siren and everything] was spent typing this, being thankful it's now cool enough to sit).

So how was yours?


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Img_0797Oh something quite possibly worse than bugger.

Yeah, suddenly finding oneself talking to potential employers while swaying slightly is not really great. Especially not as I hadn't even been drinking, as I was somewhat aware that the small cluster of Japanese Rice Crackers I'd had when I arrived were technically breakfast. And I'd just humped a few tonnes of completely unnecessary articles across London during evening rushhour; a feat only bearable by heading in vaguely the wrong direction, plus the delightful knowledge that any arrogant sods who insist on causing a very heavily laden me to take avoiding action will soon encounter the curious feature of a man bearing racksacks both fore and aft, which is that while the frontal width may not be much, flow exposed area is vastly increased during any manouerving. I know a traditional broadside involves projectiling the foe, but in this case I found that the truly selfish will cause me to undertake such dramatic collision avoidance procedures that they are exposed to a full broadside, as they plow trollface first into the side of the rear rucksack, and thus recoil under the full weight of the law (well, some the lesser regs) in a daze, stumbling back to ask the nearest person in crosseyed bewilderment, "Where am I? Who am I?", the latter question can then be readily answered with the name now embedded in their face: Douglas Gill.

Although they really should be glad I naturally veer right, otherwise they would end up permenantly branded "Yachts and Yachting" (we're a PBO family, but my brother's occasionally in the results only found in Y&Y, hence the free bag which is better than most boat-show freebies [although, traditionally we repeatedly raid that strip of Southampton repeatedly every year, as the free bags are the perfect size of lever-arch files, and we can remain calmly oblivious to the extortions to buy Yachting Monthly [for those with hair bleached by generations of G&Ting] or Motor Boat [it doesn't have a mast! Not even rowlocks!]. Raymarine fairly recently upped the stakes by producing a fabric bag, so now one sees teachers across southern England carrying the marking in bags extolling the virtues of the world's most expensive bits of grey plastic, which of course not even the year six pupils, adept with every piece of technology, can use. Which reminds me, GPS is very useful though (except when it screws up mid-Channel telling us we are sailing a few hundred miles east of Moscow), as I've just heard news that she who currently is somewhere Atlanticish has been having fun with the sextant and was only sixty nautical miles out on the last reading]).

All of which probably suggests I'm a bit tired. Blame... Canada. Blame things not quite going to plan, blame me not doing stuff I ought, blame my general ineptiness, blame my ability to imaginatively interpret the concept of time (I had to leave by 3, I got the 16.51), basically blame me. Oh, and "Sorry, What Trains?" (other variants include sloth, waste, slow, wait, sluggish, whale, so what, stupid, wanker, sodding, whore, slight, while, some, wimpy and timetable, ticket, transport. SWT is a division of Slowcoach).

You know I've ranted before about the Young Person's Travelcard being unusable on SWT? Because of the minimum ten pound charge, and their curious inability to sell returns (why? becuase "you can't buy a return"). Well, it turns out I'd been unfair to them. Apparently the single fair I'd been paying was the reduced price, because someone tried charging me the full nine-pounds something for a 45-minute journey.

Actually it's not 45 minutes anymore, so I guess if I travel for longer it's only fair I pay more. Except it only takes longer, it's still 37.8 miles as the AA drives, and that's station to station (including dodgy starting directions which will probably take you into a pub car park, and worryingly, the AA claim it's only about ten minutes longer than the train, including driving into Central London. Admittedly, the timings may well represent a normal Christmas Day, or use a secret tunnel under Clapham High Street).

Actually, if I use values for the actual journey, rather than to the nearest zone two station (what, why pay for something twice. I know technically this means I'm supposed to get off at Clapham Junction, walk out down and out of the barriers, come back in on my Oystercard, but I had two heavy bags, it was rush hour and I was liable to beat any reprimanding member of staff to death with some turgid tract on efficiency. Which has a certain aptness, given the inefficiency of a system which requires me to walk half the length of a train, get off, walk half the length of the platform, walk half the length of the tunnel, walk through some beeping bits of metal and plastic, and then turn round and do it in reverse.

And that's assuming I could even get off the train. "Customers for Britain's Busiest Railway Station, please make your way towards the front of the train. Due to short platforms, only customers in the first five coaches of this ten coach train may alight at this station". No, not due to short platforms. Short platforms are those which can only take Annie or Clarabel. Short platforms are not those which reach nearly all the way down a ten coach train. It is not due to short platforms. It is due to poor wiring. It is due to poor design. It is most likely due to cost cutting. Which is why I can sit near the end of the train, wondering who chose the font used on the lettering of the platform painted "mind the gap", while unable to mind that particular gap as I'm about three or four carriages back from the nearest functioning door.

I've ranted before, that's because it's bloody daft. It was mistake, but one which hasn't been fixed. It hasn't even been mitigated, as they still don't bother to mark internally or externally which coach is which. So only if you reached the driver, or have passed through five coaches, can you be fairly certain that you are now far enough forward. Which given the number of obstacles one encounters, including the ubiquitous multipushchaired hoard in first class (who are sitting in first class, and therefore see no reason why the plebs should have right to roam access across their territory, and anyway, the nanny moves the pushchairs, but she's been sent to find the third class carriage), and the many, many futuristic car-crusher doors, whose movement sensors are fooled by lack of movement and so close perpetually on any traffic jam (fortunately the systems seem to have bedded in now, and so enough sensors have failed that the doors are losing their ability to close automatically)). Yes, I did just carry over that closing brackets from three paragraph's ago.

To the terminus it's £10.50, which works out as 27.7 recurring, or 28 pence per mile, or 19.8 pence per scheduled minute (although even when they run on time, this journey still includes admiring the view from somewhere where the sleepers are made by Tarmac, and where the couple behind me got to ponder the "forest of pipes" coming out of the roof of a housing estate). Or 0.71 miles per scheduled minute, which is 42.8 mph. Which doesn't seem to take into account the slow trundles near Woking or the ambivalent coasting from Epsom onwards (or parking a couple of train lengths out of Waterloo).

But then I did the classic thing when the train arrived in The Sticks Station (which apparently will appear in a Cameron Diaz film. Somehow I'm guessing it's not going to be a remake of Brief Encounter), after first sending Slinky signals along the track (I'd forgotten that noise; it's not the same on the Northern Line) of standing like a Londoner waiting for the doors to open. Oh, you push a button. How quaint! (er, I'm not sure how this tallies with my like of proper trains with openable windows and lean-out, twisty-handle, slammable doors).

I think the correct name is ruched. It's that process whereby one makes permanent corrugations in material. Apparently being late, panicking, running, Tubing in rushhour and carrying a bag as a rucksack when it's not designed as such are all excellent ways of engineering telescopic sleeves on a shirt. Between wrist and bicep my right arm has twenty three ridges running across the inside of it. I shall have to wear this shirt more often, so then I can smile freely without having to worry about people noticing the creases round my eyes.

Anyway, I probably ought to apologise for the lack of bloggery (or do I mean bloggage, or just simply blogging?). I found myself over the weekend in a lonely place, far removed from the land of functioning telecommunications. Ok, so one computer refused to consider the internet, and I couldn't find where my parents had hidden the laptop (yes, it was suggested I make use of the comforts [please note the sarcasm] of my parents' house while they were away, oh, and while I was there, would I mind watering the garden [apparently they no longer trust the neighbour to do it]).

So after discovering my back pain was computer related (cunning hiding place, although that might explain the subsequent unhappiness of the drive D, and no, it wasn't under a rock, not even an Innovations Special Key and Fake Russian Spying Scandal rock. I can't tell you where. It'd be like saying where one's PIN numbers are written down, and what the code is, if one were to do such a thing. Bet my mother forgets where she'd put it [and blames me]).

I'd forgotten how swampingly green that place can be (yet the overgrown and overshadowed rear lawn has already taken on the look of the savannah. It could just be overzealous use of weedkiller though [although in my book, all use is overzealous and the rest of the garden suggests my parents aren't really that concerned]. But I think it's just summer, as it's sand, and it normally goes like that; I have a memory of some neighbour complaining to my father one year about the state of the front lawn, as it wasn't the regulation golf course green. I remember wondering why, although photographs of the period suggest that unwatered lawns played upon all summer tend not to have much grass left, much less anything remotely green. But what did he expect with children playing tennis over the flowerbed between two houses, artfully volleying over and round the lupins? I don't know what my father said in response, but he who came to chastise slinked back up the hill to hide behind his pampas grass and net curtains [why move into a house with walls half made of glass if you don't like the concept of transparency?]). And how insect ladenly humid. There must just be a stream of midges falling from the sky, as they suddenly discover their wings make excellent nucleation sites for the saturated air.

Eek, it's somewhat later than I wanted it to be, and I ought to be in bed (having managed to wake at 3 this morning, to notice the distinctly non-black sky, and then not really slept again).

Saturday will have to wait (last Saturday - RA plus parties. I'm not sure what's on this Sat, but it may involve trying to ask someone what the sea is like for hours on end [I think The Altanticess is due back this weekend]).

I'm tired and trying not to type "gtfrdrftgtf" with my temple.


A PS type thing. Man on the train down, on phone, having answered the phone with a traditional "I'm on the train", is in discussion with someone who knows what's he's doing and where he's going, and is in obvious haste to get rid of the person on the other end. The end of the conversation:
"Yeah, but, nu-yeah, you see, oh tunnel, it's going to br... The one by Notacity. The long one. That's it. It's bray k' bye. Goooorsh. [Hangs up]".

Which would have worked fine (ok, I think the onomatopoeia was unnecessary, and most phones don't descend into static anymore, they go for pixelation in the style of late-nineties pop, and I'm not convinced by the timing as the tunnel receded while he confirmed which tunnel it was) if only the automatic announcements hadn't just announced "The next station will be Notacity. Change here for Writing, services via Soot, Geeking, canal link to Ulan Bator and Gatwick Airport. Notacity is the next station".

Which would mean the train from London is north of Notacity. Big tunnel south of Notacity. He big lie. As the person on other end apparently know the route, he heap big trouble.

Anyway, any fool knows that on a train you either have to feign being in the quiet carriage and therefore are culturally obliged to whisper against a background of tuts and have a legitimate excuse for hanging up quickly, or you just suddenly pretend you can't hear the other person (preferably before they get to the awkward question you know they want to ask) and so stop mid sentence, say hello a couple of times, and then say either "how odd" or "rude sod" before hanging up.

That latter technique also works when you're not on a train, and can be combined with quirks of electromagnetic radiation, which means that there's no signal in the kitchen (this was actually the case in my brother's old flat), and so one can say "I'd love to talk" but mention you've just got to go and stir the spaghetti or get the washing out, and so hang up the moment they hear you go through the door.

If they ring back, accept the call, wait for a couple of seconds, say one non-wordish syllable (I find "ni" works well, as it sounds like the middle of some word, suggesting loss of information) and hang up again. They can then imagine your annoyance at not being able to talk, they'll decide to leave it until you've finished cooking before ringing back, by which time they'll have forgotten and so contact has been made without either party having to attempt proper communication.

And of course the kitchen is that heart of the home, and so one can always be going in and out.

The other great part of living in London is the Tube. Simple rules for London living; turn your phone off. If anyone complains, ask when they rang, and explain you were on the Tube. The other advantage of London is that mobile telephony was retrofitted, and so it's patchy and hopelessly inadequate on occasion. Move away from a window and the signal goes. Try to use the phone in the evening anywhere central and the network is busy (regardless of network).

Take full advantage of these features often enough and you can end up with the world emailing you instead. Which just means you can then forget about them all as each day shunts them lower down the page.

This also means that if you find yourself somewhere without functioning internet (or functioning computer), suddenly one becomes incommunicado. And then suddenly you do want people to ring.

[Please forgive the Google foiling name changes. Or in the style of SWT "Do try to forgive…" Instead of requiring people keep possessions with them at all times, we are politely entreated to try to do so].

Friday, June 09, 2006

CF4 600 - Slide - 08 Bosham Wreck [scanner fault]As the video says "Oh dear".

Think it's from last weekend's Round the Island Race. The rocks are the Needles, and are fairly well known and avoided, unless one happens to be using a risky shortcut in a race (it can be done; it just isn't always done).

But it's obviously that time of year.


Sunday, June 04, 2006

2006-04-15 016Sunday: Er, has anyone else woken up to a plague of bees? Did anyone else see that huge plume of smoke off to the east? And did anyone else give up trying to explain the references made by The Life of Brian to a certain Chinese girl?

Monday: Brief rehung Tateage (why is Dali's Narcissus echoed on the far mountain top?), followed by impromptu bread and butter pudding*. Bizarrely, it worked, even with Morrissons "cheap before it was reduced to five pence" white bread. It could have been then half tonne of borrowed nutmeg I put in. No photographs as it wasn't around long enough to dispatch (ok, just so happen to suggest to) SG to get her camera.

Tuesday: how odd, that horn sounded like part of Radio Gaga. Not much else excepting noting a snowclone based on Tennyson's Charge of the Light Brigade.

I happened to use "Half a tree, half a tree, half a tree onwards" when referring to some printouts of government PDFs (only the government think four consecutive blanks pages mid-document is a good idea). It seems no one else has thought of it (in the known world; i.e. that in Google's cache). But they have found some other variations.
Google brings up:
- half a book (writing)
- half a gneeve (folk music)
- half a metre (rising sea levels)
- half a farm (chicken poetry)
- half a hill (hiking)
- half a list (governmental answers)
- half a meal (free pub food)

A gneeve is apparently an Irish unit of land.

* Ingredients:
- Half a loaf of sliced bread (maybe a bit more).
- Some butter (Slightly Salted Lurpack Spreadable seems to work fine).
- Dried fruit of some sort (enough for liberal scattering and snacking). Assorted recipes called for currants, sultanas, candied peel. I had raisins so I used those.
- 300 ml of milk (the recipe said 275, plus cream, and not having scales there didn't seem to be much point in being too accurate).
- 4 eggs because they were small.
- 2 oz sugar (supposed to be caster, gets dissolved anyway, and four and a bit heaped tablespoons seems to be about right).
- Zest of a lemon, if yours are fresh enough not to just bend out of the way of the grater. Hacked up and stuck in gin and tonic instead.
- About an Indonesia of nutmeg.

Recipe (largely cribbed from Delia):
- Preheat oven to Gas Mark 4 (180 degrees Celsius).
- Get accomplice to butter the bread.
- In a large bowl, add the sugar to the milk
- In a different bowl (or smaller casserole in the same Pyrex set), beat the eggs together (break open shells, pour contents into bowl, discard shells, mix; rather than try conkers style contests).
- Add eggs to milk, and mix well (or at least adequately).
- Add nutmeg to milky fluid. Keep adding. Decide that's enough. Change mind. Add a bit more. Unintentionally add a big lump that falls in (spot who's using pre-ground nutmeg). Decide that really is enough. Stir well.
- Cut bread into triangles (usually diagonally from corner to corner, but scalene away if you want).
- Layer, butter side down on the bottom of a baking dish (greased if non-non-stick).
- Scatter with raisins.
- Add another layer of bread.
- Scatter more raisins.
- Repeat, with occasional eating of raisins until pan is full (or you run out of bread). Raisins on top are optional, but they tend to burn.
- Pour over nutmegged egg-milk liquid, realising why jugs have lips, and making sure all parts of the upper layer of bread get wet.
- Stick in upper middle of oven.
- Cook for 30-40 minutes (or maybe 50, with quarter of an hour of having the upper element on as well, but I probably should have taken out the grillpan from the bottom of the oven at some point), until golden brown, or part of it starts smoking.
- Serve immediately, thereby destroying the soufflé effect.
- Realise it's a bit hot to heat, but it's too nice not to eat right now.
- Have seconds.
- And maybe thirds (but I hadn't had anything else to eat, except some toast).
- Put last remaining bit in the fridge, where it's still sitting very temptingly.
- Decide that next time I might pay attention to the add cream/egg yolks bits of various recipes, as if it was a bit richer, then I couldn't eat so much in one go.

I think it's just the nutmeg that makes it so nice.

[9th June: And remembering to click "Publish Post" at the end is probably a good idea. Sorry]


PS. Just found another snowclone:
X's blue, dilly, dilly; X's green.

Ok, so there's only one other version (if one blocks all variants of lavender), and it's based on dark matter, but still that's two people who've thought of it (although this could be seen as suggesting that I am unoriginal, an argument I refute, especially as theirs is better than mine, which I have to admit I only thought of because I was stuck and so trying work out how to link a yellow flower with Piccadilly).

Friday, June 02, 2006


I've just met Mr Sin. Interesting, fun, kind, and insanely confident (I was about ask what it was about gay Americans, then realised he's not quite American). Slight contrast with an infuriatingly timid and indecisive me (hence the bugger comment). Oh, Sin, should have mentioned earlier - it's fairly symptomatic of dyslexia - I'm not great on distinguishing speech against background noise, so those occasional incidences where I just smiled and nodded, and apparently didn't get the joke; that was me simply not physically getting what was said.

Sorry for not recognising you as well, but caps are cheating, and somehow I was thinking shorter. But you should have realised the bedraggled thing was me; I did say "I'll be the panicked looking one who turns up at ten past six, runs round looking for you and missing you, stands waiting for a while, does another circuit of the shop, and only then remembers the modern marvel that is mobile telephony". If only I'd realised I was being prophetic at the time, I might have remembered to put on extra deodorant.

So even though it was fairly brief, and did include me attempting to demonstrate just why communism is not an evolutionary stable strategy (even if I said environmentally sustainable strategy; look it's not like anyone actually listens to all those big words, and it's probably "ecologically steady" anyway), and general this-is-awkward-ness (mostly due to me). I think I'd do it again, if offered the chance. It's not everyday one gets to meet a trade unionist, someone who owns a village and, er, I can't really go into the stuff which doesn't make the blog, because there's probably a reason for that. But I was surprised to discover my random fluky guess was right (read his blog and comments elsewhere). And I thought I was being daft.

So that was different (I've just realised how depressing so; oh well). Oh and completely unrelated, other than in a Northern-Line-is-screwed-again way; anyone else noticed those adverts for activities around London? They're done in bulgy multicolour letters on black, with the blocks of words manipulated to make shapes (think 70s). So the one for Camden Lock features a narrowboat made of words. The first three are "canal barge cruises".

In capitals and with the first letter of the first two words squashed to fit the shape of the boat it reads cANAL bARGE CRUISES. It took me a while to get how "cruises" fits in with the bored ad exe's in joke. It isn't me, is it? That does look like ANAL ARSE, doesn't it? Anyone else suspect they put it in to see how much attention the clients were really paying? And then couldn't quite take it out without making the client aware of their own oversight.

Are the joys of subverting advertising (unless of course they knew people would notice and comment on their foolishness, and so discuss the adverts and promote London by proxy. In which case, well done, and please do come to London; it's a wonderful city. But please, don't get in my way if I'm late).

Anyway, so thank you Sin; I hope there's a next time, preferably a longer next time. But only after your exams, because otherwise I'd just feel guilty (even if you wouldn't). And what are you doing on the 29th (er, just remembered this isn't email)?

Better go and grab food.


CF5 600 - Flashless - 20 National Gallery ShutterJe suis fatigué.

I was sort of supposed to blog up the new exhibition on invention and innovation at the Building Centre, which I saw on Saturday, but somehow never quite got round to it. Some of it is fairly good, some fairly pointless, some laughably misguided, some tediously optimistic and some downright worrying.

[While you're in there, look at Yerbury's architectural photographs dotted round the cafe. Superb].

Go and have a play with the electric window, and then try to work out if the energy to run the thing (and have it sitting on standby) is saved by the insulative properties of the glass, or why, if you've got your hand on the handle, it is better for you to press a button and wait for the mechanism to kick in than it is to pull. I can understand that electrical actuators are useful if the window is 30 ft above the floor, or that disabled people might need help opening the window, but neither of which demands the controls to be on the handle of the system.

It's also entertaining to watch others trying to use it, and see how unintuitive the controls are (standard comments "It's flashing, what does that mean?" - it means the user has turned the handle to the wrong position for the current opening mode). Then have fun trying to read the grey-on-glass blurb, when it's backed by an off-white wall (all it needs is a sheet of A4 and some masking tape).

And hands up if you want to be surrounded by something which burrs, buzzes, clatters, grinds and clunks with every adjustment made. It takes longer than a normal window too, plus I can't help wondering how quickly it would break, and how long and costly the repair would be.

I also had to resist the temptation to turn the power off and see how it handles, and how quickly it reboots (there's a nice tempting socket on the wall), but I suspect it might not take too kindly too that, nor the staff to me.

Other whys include scented concrete (how long does it last, do we really need to embed VOCs in our buildings?), concrete made from oil (courtesy of Shell, because as we know, we have so much we can't think what to do with it all), and some dreadfully badly designed powerpoint presentations, which suggest they were compiled on computers with different screen sizes, by someone who didn't think white-on-white would be a bad idea, and that red on multi-coloured collage is even better. It doesn't help some of the presentations are obviously corporate promotion slideshows which are dependent on the accompanying speech, and are aimed at a variety of audiences. Plus whoever installed them set each slide to last the same amount of time, so six words of truism are given equal time as the cluttered slide which explores all the complex maths behind one of the proposed towers in the city (bye-bye Gherkin). Basically look at the pretty pictures and try not to think. Incidentally the pictures round the outside are the best bit.

If you do go, and someone hasn't filched all the samples yet, beware of two things; the big black booklets fall out of the display stack with amazing regularity (usually about every 8 minutes, as someone tries to pick one up; take one from the pile dumped on top of the case), and the edges of the orange Perspex used to back all the objects are sharp. I cut my thumb by just brushing past the edge of a table, and saw someone do the same a few minutes later, so the mass of people sucking their hands aren't reverting to insecure childhood, it's just that world is out to get them.

[Continued later]

Does anyone know why the latest version of Firefox starts searching the text of the current page every time I try to enter an apostrophe? In the settings control section there is a toggle for automatic searching, and turning that off seems to kill the problems. But each time it restarts the error comes back, even though that option remains deselected (but clicking OK seems to remind Firefox).

It is just a niggle, but like all niggles it is getting really irritating, especially as I keep having to say "it is".

I think I may have to start inventing some code for the apostrophe, as the lack continues to annoy. How about [ni], because it does look like it ought to sound like "ni", although that is four keystrokes rather than one. Of course, I could just look up the HTML code for the character, but that wouldn[ni]t be as much fun, would it?

While I am at it, does anyone know of anything, like the Gmaps pedometer, which can produce a track between points? I literally need something which can do dot-to-dot. The pedometer can do it for named places, and for hand selected points, but it cannot apparently cope with coordinates. So while the search term "Hamilton" in the category "Bermuda", brings up a big blue screen (although the satellite shows a cruise ship docked, so it's probably right), sticking "32° 20'N, 64° 45'W" in the search box doesn't. Oh, apparently the apostrophe is fixed. So ni-ing obviously works (as long as I remain insensitive to it).

The lat-long doesn't apparently work regardless of which area one selects, such as "Oceans" or "No Mans Land". It'd be nice to be able to input longitude and latitude, and to link up sequential points, as at the moment I have a friend somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic, and am getting daily position reports, yet they all only bring up much blueness, so a comparative system that didn't rely on having several windows open all with Nova Scotia lined up in the top corner would be great.

At moment I've tried most of the likely suspects which appear in Google or GMDir, but they either don't have text input boxes, want airport codes or meekly return "Location not found".

Blast. I just tried getting a link to the starting point, but Bermuda is too close to the edge of the map, so system automatically scoots it all over to fit the label bubble in. Time to zoom out.

200605251200, 200605261200, 200605271200, 200605281200, 200605291200, 200605301200, 200605311200, and that's all I have. It looks like she's midway to the Azores. But now I'm getting worried about the lack of posts in June (although she's had less of it so far). And having just checked the weather, they should be getting the tag end of an anticyclone blowing from the NW.

And how inconsiderate is it of the Americans to name a strip of their coastline (sorry, seaboard) "Mid-Atlantic"? Not unless there's severe global warming will Virginia ever be mid-Atlantic, however much one might wish it.

What else?

Oh yes, from Firefox to Opera. Bartok and somebody else. A parental thing, but none of us could identify the language of the first one (wasn't the composer Hungarian; that explains why it sounds like nothing else).

A tip: never leave a bit late, then catch a bus because the bus turned up as I was on the way to the Tube (it's a rule of thumb that if I ignore a waiting bus, the Tube will go down the tubes with me on it). Because the bus will trundle slowly under the control of the world's happiest bus driver, who I think was called Marvin Eeyore, round unexpected diversions, and then, as you near your destination, Marvin will become both deaf and blind, and so, after stopping at every stop for the last couple of miles, will skip three stops in a row, while managing to miss the lights for every set of traffic lights encountered in between. So the bus stops just beyond a bus stop, but no one can get off.

So I ended up running to Convent Garden. One advantage of London traffic is that one can run down an empty Charing Cross Road without fear of harm as there's a void between two lumps of gridlock. For once I took the right road at Seven Dials, deftly skimming past taxis on ankles just loose enough to survive the cobbles. Swinging in past Covent Garden station, I flit through the loose crowd. Ahead there's three guys with a large gap between the one on the left and the other two leading through to a hollow down to the busker at the junction. I level out and head for the wide gap. Just as I'm nearly there, the guy on the left jumps in towards me arms braced across his chest as his shoulder aims for my sternum. I try to stop, arms out to cushion the blow.

I didn't manage it. So I ran at nearly full pelt into him, forcing beery breath to thud from his body. I sail backwards and sideways through the air, my right foot nearly collecting the head of one of his friends as I pass. I land fingers, palm, wrist, elbow, shoulder, tumbling towards some startled Americans, as I get up onto my neck before losing momentum and rolling back down.

Guy one the right looks stunned and asks "are you alright mate?"
Guy in the middle is only just beginning to regist how narrowly escaped having his cheek branded M for Merrell.
Guy on the left, who is somewhere behind me now, still twisting from the impact, says "You shouldn't run".

I get up, too late and bewildered to think of getting cross and entertaining the crowds with vivisection (although I'm armed only with a mobile phone, wallet, keys, entry cards of myriad forms, Oystercard and deodorant (I have Sure and I'm not afraid to use it, although mine was the cream form, unlike his), the latter in response to my mother's call for reinforcements. I suppose I could use his rib cage as a postbox for AA or similar cards, but I might need some of them later). As I start off again, leaving the crowds to murmur "he jumped" and "it was deliberate", the one the right is still looking confused, the one in the middle is now looking daggers at the one the left, who is smirking. Yep, your friend nearly caused you to be badly injured (I can't imagine a fast moving ten or eleven stone applied diagonally upwards to the neck would be a terribly good thing). Yep, your friend thinks that's funny. Yep, you're fully justified in badly injuring him.

I disappear in towards the Opera House, as my mother starts to ring. Answering I enter, loathing the revolving door that shuts down any time anyone gets too close, which always means everyone then gets too close prompting another shutdown. Before I can get my head into making-sense mode, I can see her.

19.26 isn't late. It just means we avoid most of the crowds, and still beat my brother and father to the seats. It's only on the way up that the post-mortem can happen, and I think of checking my coat for damage. I think I'm quite glad early in the week was miserably cold, thanks to the northerly spilling high over Ireland. It meant I'd given up on summer, and so was wearing my thick and a bit-big leather jacket over a woollen jumper. So the impact was padded and I skidded inside the coat, rather than over the cobbles.

And then it begins, and the only word I can decipher is Judit, who is a bit demanding. So I watch, liking some of the music but not really appreciating the singing, trying to be grown up enough not snigger as the surtitles come up with double entendres, although some of them might be single, but with the whole Hungarian thing it's hard to check. One particularly good line was "silken pasture, velvet forest", which either brought a sob of overwrought emotion from the woman next to me (who preferred intimate contact with a stranger to any contact with the man she was with. I wouldn't mind, but the seats are narrow enough as it is) or a childish reaction unbecoming to a lady of such age. It didn't help it help the entire thing was doused in blood, and who made this big salty lake, and there was a lot of singing about the laying on of hands.

It didn't help I guessed the end on about the third door (of seven). So that was Captain Bluebeard's Castle, which isn't quite as much fun as the Pirates of Penzance.

Then came the interval, with ginger ice cream all round (bar my brother, due to the lactovomit thing), in which my father very successfully sneaked the ice creams into the theatre, due to not knowing it was banned. An usher belatedly stopped him, and made sure he went back outside, so I dutifully followed, having already started and the usher not even noticing I, or my ice cream, existed.

My brother scrounged some cough sweets off a different usher, although we both kept them for later in case we ever need to bore our way out of a bank vault using breath alone.

Then off to scrounge some water from the bar, then to the loo, the passage to which appeared to have had recent rain, as the Royal Opera House doesn't run to anything to dry one's hands. And so back to the show, which went all paranoid German, Ewartung apparently being a form of die Schizophrenie.

And then that was it, as people walk out while the cast are still bowing onstage. Maybe the tendency to run off quickly at the end of a show to catch the last train home is so ingrained that it works even when they can probably still get a train to Glasgow. It was a very short show.

And then out into the scarcely night, not saying much, and having a silly waving fest as the earlier northbound train draws me away from the waiting southbounders.

The next day involved chaos, a hurry, milling, more chaos, distraction, trying not fall asleep in a fascinating lecture on creating legislation (which featured stuff I'm sure would have been interesting and useful, had I been awake, just like I'm sure I could have networked frantically with the woman representing the GLA and the man from the ODPMOWIICN, had I not end up sitting on to the table next to the coffee and biscuits, which I finished off. I needed the sugar), then being slightly too awake to not doing anything, so sitting the department emailing, then went back home, then set about transferring music from my computer to SG's with the intention of putting it on CD so I can clear some space on my hard drive (lesser men might just buy another hard drive, rather than USB stick it over in half gigs), while introducing her to "Call Me Please" [her words] by Radiohead, and then milling round aimless on the internet for a while (until nearly 3; can you tell I don't drink coffee?), followed by reading without much headway the Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Then waking up, then not getting much done for the entirety of Thursday, then not meeting someone when I might have done, then coming back, doing dull houseworky stuff, having SG turn up with a copy of Pride and Prejudice she'd just bought (she has no region 2 DVD player, I do; I'm not sure how she copes when she goes back to China with it), tactfully saying "oh, you bought that version", and thereby having to explain that different versions exist, and the one other people had been talking about was the wet-shirted Darcy BBC one. Then leaving her to it, while I got on with other stuff, occasionally coming in to mock the Ameriscope bucolic rural idyllness, the completely incongruous objects, manners, behaviour, make up and hair (there's one scene where hair changes colour between shots, and another actress has an interesting divergence between her hair and eyebrows). My mother rings up to discuss various things, ranging from cameras to keyhole surgery of large structures. It's probably indicative of our family that my mother's impending hysterectomy can prompt me to say "well, that's one way of losing weight", completely without repercussions.

Oh, and she saw the Keira Knightley version and agrees it's rubbish - absolutely awful, which is the one bit of the phone call which gets passed on when SG asks. Although it is just shockingly bad, while somehow managing to be a good old romp through the centuries (it's just a pity none of the characters said "Fy sir, thou art nought but a time travel'd knave" or Mrs Bennett isn't seen drinking Dr Pepper's Patented Remedy from the can). It doesn't help I can't see half the faces without thinking of the people in other roles (is Penelope Wilton ever not worried?). But I think the worst of it has to be the timing and delivery. You can see KK walk into a room, and count to three before picking up a book, clutch it for another 3, sigh and replace it, walk to the window and wait there for 4 seconds.

When she speaks some of the words get through, but when in ardent duel with Darcy neither of them seem to notice the words, or that the lines are meant to fit together. The actors seem to be chewing the words simply because they taste better than the scenery. It must take some special power to slay some of the most popular lines in the language.

But better yet are the add-ons, the bits where the script veers from Austen, Jane to Austin, Texas. Not only do the shifts come in with such an obvious jerk that one wonders if they've only ever driven an automatic before, but they seem designed to convey the meaning of the preceding lines for the more hard of thinking audience. Which leads a bit inevitably to wondering why someone is adapting a great work of literature when they don't trust the words. Because they get to have a jolly around this green and pleasant and strangely perpetual dawn-or-is-that-sunset land. Except for the lonely woe-is-me bit where of course it's lashing down with rain.

And this from someone who's never read the book, so doesn't have that extra layer of infuriation, and finds the story slightly pompous and annoying anyway. I'm not a fan and still I wince. But hey, it's a great ad for the England that never was, and if that brings more Americans tourists here, then great, as they'll soften any future landings.

This is long, I'm still tired.

And I've just discovered Australia.

On Google maps. It wasn't there last time I looked.

I think I'm going to declare Darwin to the be world's oddest city (some of the suburbs are bigger than the city).

But then up there does seem a bit odd, as the next peninsula (the one that almost touches Papua New Guinea) has such delights as "Peninsula Development Road" "Old Telegraph Track" and "Northern Bypass Road", the latter of which does make me wonder that there is that needs bypassing. I'm intrigued the three different sets of data Google provides. There's the roads, rivers and parks, mapped out as usual. There's satellite images which roughly fit. And then, if you zoom in a bit, there's a load of grey lines, which illustrated coasts, roads and rivers which don't match. The sort of do, as you can see the same rough features, but it's as if they drew the map and then found the satellite data didn't fit.

I'd better stop now, as I've just managed to miss Ayer's Rock. I thought I found it, but then noticed this lump of red had a river running through it.

I just Googled; it's green and nowhere near Alice Springs. Admittedly Alice is the nearest town, it's just that...oooh, I've noticed the scoured looking bits, and I know why it does that.

Hmm, it can't find a friend's house in Canberra, and it's helpfully returning not-found despite the search term being one of the labels on screen. But I've found it anyway. Does the UK map show individual lots?

Maps are addictive, and I haven't done the stuff I saw in the Telegraph yesterday. 13 Amp, especially the travel-time things.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?