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).


I have no idea about whom you write, but for my part, if I ever get out of work at a decent hour, I'd be happy to re-meet :)
I am really confused.

And Venti is the largest one. Grande is medium, and small is just small.
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