Friday, July 28, 2006

2005-07-08 034Recent of interest:
Bank of NK.

New words:
Cumbrous - similar to cumbersome. Difficult to use or control due to excessive weight, size or complexity. Found in The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, which so far has taught me how to make war, but not yet how to find peace.
Sharawadgi - Either beauty born of deliberate asymmetry, intended mimicry of nature or the result of a laissez-faire attitude. Can't remember where I found it [1,2]
Juche - From the counterfeiting thing above.

Of Constable's artistic licence: He's not just taking liberties, he's got most of Regent Street under siege. Only works when spoken, unfortunately, and you do have to know that Liberty['s] is a [very nice] shop just off Regent Street.

Random dictionary reading introduced: frowsy and frowsty. Definitions vary with the definer. The former is more the state, the latter the smell of the state.


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

2005-07-31 mgb 011It's my birthday. I can't wait to open my presents. All two of them and one hasn't got wrapping paper (and I know what the one with wrapping paper is, as it's not that well wrapped).

So on to the emailed present. I open the first email. A picture of some Smarties (except, oh, no, they do have blue ones now. He must have pushed the saturation though) and then 3 files ending mp3. Oooh, this is good. But then comes completely failing to recognise the titles, and he hasn't included the artist in the filename. I'm sure it'll be good, it's just a shame I can't think of who it is (and being honest, am a bit worried it'll be some rentarapper thing, only being a one man band rather than having a bit part).

Scrolly scrolly dot wheel (with hints of ICQ)

Oops... the system was unable to perform your operation (error code 766).

Please try again in a few seconds.

This recurred not quite endlessly, but enough to heighten the tension unbearably, making me very, very annoyed. In the meantime, Google told me who it was, and thus I cringed for not getting it (think rubber, think H, but do try not to go down the wrong path and think of the thickest one from Steps in PVC).

Eventually got it downloaded, listened to it, wrote a thank you note which included four consecutive thank-yous. And then listened to the other present, which I wrote up earlier (although I missed asking just how many key changes occur in the first track).

Just listening the other present, Black Holes and Revelations by Muse. Only on the first track so far, and I think it's safe to describe it as gloriously batty. Wonderfully, superbly, utterly unhinged.

Has the second track already been a single? It feels very familiar. A quick check of the website says no. And it's not so quick as it's now onto the only single so far, which unsurprisingly sounds better in the album that it does on the radio lumped next to Rhianna, Paris or Lily.

Map of the Problematic is daft yet I'm still trying to dance to it, which actually slightly more successful than my usual dancing due to sitting down, thus avoiding most stability issues, and having the not knowing what to do with my hands problem solved by typing. So dancing is easy if you can only move parts of your body.

I probably ought to be listening to the lyrics more, but that'll happen next time round. Invincible reminds me very strongly of something else, but I can't remember what. No surprises? Maybe not. I'll have to check later.

[One bit is definitely Travis's "Turn", but I guess there's only so many good chord combinations]

Argh! Muse plus ice cream van (the teddy bear's picnic) is really not a good sound.

Assassin seems to have just started with something suspiciously Night Ridery. I'm not doing well on the running commentary or the analysis, as it's now the track after Assassin. Can I just stop and conclude, prematurely, that's over the top, but that's a good thing.

Oooh, some sweeping strings then some Turkish-ish drums and now a jazzy trumpet. This is fun. Undignified, but I've never been able to carry that off, yet immense fun.

It's on the last track now. Brazen, audacious... and I've just dissolved into giggles at "No one's going to take me alive". But there's more to this album than stupid grins. It's daft, yet fascinating, divinely sumptuous and far, far too enjoyable.

Admittedly this renders me totally devoid of taste, and yet if liking it means I lack credibility, then that's worth it.

I ought to go out yet I want to turn into a Tellytubby'd child and cry "Again! Again!"

Maybe SG might have to wait to copy it.

Oh and in other news, I was also given Thom Yorke's album, which is good, interesting, yet any review I do in the same mindset as just produced that shiny happy gushing above is going to struggle. But I was delighted to get it (as the, ooh, only six "thank you"s probably attest).

Can you tell I like lush music? Whenever a newspaper reviews an album using the word "overblown" then that's a near certain me-like.

BH&R reviews: BBC, Telegraph, Guardian and Independent.


Monday, July 24, 2006

Tanzania geographic 026aPest.

I can't even shake it to see if it's Lego.

Yep, someone who needn't remain nameless has sent me an email (well 3, with attachments) with the subject "Don't touch till the 25th!", and I'm not good with surprises, and the whole patience thing isn't quite what it should be, and did I mention the unread emails are sitting in my inbox with really, really big, bold lettering, and it's just so tempting to click, and no one would ever know, except for them looking read but I'm sure I can mark them as unread again, and, oh, hurry up and be tomorrow, but I don't want to get older, and ooh, ooh, ooh, I can see the first lines of each as Gmail previews them, so it's like peering down the Sellotaped slit on a present, or cursing and praising cheap garishly patterned wrapping paper, because you can read through it (and what does it say when presents all tend to come with words on the outside?) except for that crucial bit under whatever that jagged squiggle is meant to be.

Of course, if it's what I think it is, then I probably don't have space on my computer (well, I sort of do, provided I don't want to run any programmes. Yes, this is a dreadful state for a computer and one which has existed for years. Thank God for Gmail and the wonderful, stupidly large storage).

And oh look, another reference to my birthday, which can only further exasperate he who shall remain nameless, who wrote to complain the last time I mentioned it, because he was hoping to earn brownie points for already knowing and was planning to surprise me. I'm not sure if he's not going to do it know because he's sulking, or if he still is. I think the latter concerns me more, because, well, it's that surprise thing, but I can't defuse it my just so happening to accidentally find out beforehand (though the SG CD thing was an actual accident).

I've just noticed that the last email this, er, drat, my cunningly thought up blog name for HWSRN (which itself looks too tidal) has the slight flaw in that the initials are the same as his real name. Anyway, the last email from Mr Umbrage (random mental link for the day: Tamsin Grieg) contains one line, which Google proudly displays: It's OK, I'll stop sending you porn now.

Which I think is one of those one hit wonder lines, in that it's going to be extremely for that to make a comeback. How often is it likely to arise in normal conversation? And can I have two pounds of Cox's please? It's OK... The next train to arrive at platform one is the southbound Northern Line service to Morden via Bank. It's OK... Have you seen the car keys? It's OK...

And it wasn't actual porn.

For me at least.

And so to Saturday, by the single use lines. I managed to end an argument in the Constable exhibition at the Tate (yes, again, better this time, more talking, more fault finding [he's not one for realism], more actually looking. Universal conclusion: the prep work is more interesting. And it's nice going round with other people who understand the impact the Royal Academy had on him) with the line "Like Bosham."

I think there are only so many arguments that can be won with that line (ours was about the banks of Thames at that period. The Embankment is later, but the Strand is only the road fronting propeties which stretched down the hill to the river, rather than being the strandline), unless one uses it as a complete non-sequitur, thus convincing one's rival that one is quite, quite mad (and hoping that the adversary isn't) and so the foe abandons the contest as unwinnable lest both people be thought equal. But that's not winning, that's just not losing first.

So Saturday was, in chronological order, get up late, having turned off the power in the room, after having been blasted out of bed by thunder at quarter to five (I awoke in mid air, feeling the bed fall away beneath me, realised this was not a sustainable option, tried to flail slightly, found gravity and met the bed recoiling from the shockwave passing through the building, got bounced of it into the middle of the room, and woke up properly sort of standing, while the thunder rumbled on, the rain shrieked down like an orange beltsander, and things in the room creaked recovery, or made shuka-shuka-sher-ka noises as they Weebled about.

So in this standing, moving, not yet thinking state I turned things off or unplugged them at the wall. I'm not sure why, as I've never seen the effects of lightning on computers and radios, although I've smelt the results, and heard how well modems and network cards work as circuit breakers (they don't; they form a nice, unfused connection into the middle of the computer). While trying to explain the rationale to SG, I started wondering if there's something about me, as I tend to be in buildings as they get hit (ok, so it's hardly unexpected here, what with having a dozen or so storeys clear of all neighbours for half a mile). I can't have lived a taller or hillier life than most, yet for most of the buildings I know best (schools, houses, the sailing club), I've been there when they've been hit, and the resulting thuds, hisses, groans, and, of course, the high kerning noise alarm system make when everything fails, that whimper begging for someone to insert a key and press reset. Ok, so the place I still call home, however unintentionally... actually, I think it's been hit as well, as remember someone coming the fix the shattered cement under the ridge tiles, which were bowed up into an arch. But usually it's the wood over the road which takes the brunt, occasionally flinging out steamed and flayed oak branches which leave dents in the lawn (and fortunately just miss the car, so far).

Which gets me back to Saturday, and discovering at some point the last wood based entertainment inflicted on my parents. First, the Ents made another move towards the house, this time with a willow tree moving with a crash to stick half the braches into the road. I can't remember the term for it, but there is a term for the ability of trees to walk round sandstone or other loose soiled hills. Once again tales of neighbourly togetherness (read people driving down the hill hooted, but didn't get out of their cars).

And then the lesson in marriage. Apparently, when my father is lying about being incompetent, sometimes he might actually be telling the truth. My mother only took half and hour to accept that he hadn't overzealously deadheaded the geraniums and taken out the budding flowerheads when she saw the deer coming back for the rest. And to think I've eaten a cousin (ok, maybe great aunt) of that deer, when a friend's pub did roadkill with redcurrant sauce.

Anyway, so turning the power off for the radio I use as an alarm clock is not the best way to ensure I wake up on time. Cue panic, hurried shower, hurried shave with a razor as the battery died, hurried drying, hurried halfway through dressing trying to remember if i dired myself because it doesn't feel like it, hurried remembering the hurrying and the hurry, hurried answering phones as I spill Weetabixed milk over half the room, hurried "oh I've got plenty of time if they've only just got on the train", hurried "oh no I haven't, blast this more than 10 minutes city", hurried writing of birthday card, hurried getting Tube with elbows out, hurried remembering the things I meant to pick up, hurried hurrying to the Tate, hurried check for relatives, hurried go and sit in the shade somewhere cool (the for once not slimy balcony by the Rescue of Andromeda, aka the big dragon), hurried wait, hurried check again for people, hurried answer phone when they ring, hurried discovering they're miles away, hurried lying on the bench looking at the cornices (they have many different types), hurried getting back up again, hurried being rung to ask where am I (ok, which of "dragon, north, shade, top of steps, Thames entrance, Millbank Tower" did you not hear?), then hurried discovering my brother is still 40 minutes away by his reckoning, assuming they leave when they were rung. Less hurry now.

So despite being the one who massively overslept, I got there first and was waiting for the rest of the group.

So lunch, Constable, tea (which oddly cost the same as lunch), get kicked out after they empty the gallery and then discover they forgot the Members' Room, so leaving was bit like some country house film, with the entire staff of the building lined up to guide the way, before plunging out into the bright sun down magnificent steps towards the ornamental lake (with optional tide).

Then a short walk to look at something my brother's done, then onwards to the other Tate. By which time the BGF was waning as were the rest of us, but we tend to forget to stop. So indecision about food sees us going up to the restaurant at the top, discovering the options are tapas and paying for the view as standard (and tapas is probably more expensive for a meal), more indecision, going back down, and the heading west until we near Wagamamas, but veer into Giraffe instead. Yes, it's a chain, but it's not a horrible, horrible chain (and I've never been there before, but I think brother dearest and the BGF have, probably on a similar zonking at the Tate outing).

So go in, order, down gallons of iced water. I had Peruvian chicken in something-something marmalade followed by a thoroughly ethnic burger, but by that stage I was too tired to care. It was food. I ended up being offered, and eating the fussy eater BGF's chips. She's not fussy about chips, merely tomato, cucumber, probably lettuce too and I think she doesn't look kindly on fruit. It's not quite "and she didn't like Tate Modern, not even the building" material but it is irritating.

Even more irritating was the discovery that my brother, who had previously alluded that his girlfriend was about my age, neglected to mention that she's two years younger than me (fortunately I was too tired to attempt maths which I inevitably would have got wrong. Getting the start point right might help). Even worse, it's not a temporary two years, as you get if they're born in February or something, it's damn near irrefutable. My brother's birthday is three days before mine. His girlfriend's is two days after his. This is the only day of the year when she's not two years younger than me. How dare she persistently remind me of just how old I am? Although she's got more grey than I have (and those I can blame of having an older brother; if he's capable of throwing a Lego fire engine, who knows what else he's thrown at my head?), but then she is a fair whack Celt.

I'm now worried that I have to complete the set; does anyone know someone who was born on 23rd July? I'm not that fussy.

So we ate, we talked, or rather I played with my mother's camera, macro-ing wine glasses when I wasn't using one as a tripod, while the others talked (party of five equals a row of three tables each for a pair, I was on the single one, next to my father and diagonally opposite the quiet Scots BGF. Quiet and Scots against background noise and omnipresent "world music" equals no chance, at least in my ears. The noise could also account for the general another-bottle-of-wine consensus failing to attract the attention of any staff until we'd all finished and so had changed our minds. When we wanted the bill the waitress asked if we'd like more wine. I wonder how many satellites one would have to use to recreate that delay).

And then we went home, so I got sent ahead to pathfind to the correct platform for my parents' train, only for them to walk towards me then turn away, which they only stopped doing after I rang them (and my phone is a nuisance, as the cancel button changes depending on what happens during the call, and then sometimes when pressed brings up the menu it would normally bring up, if I weren't on the phone, thereby not hanging up and not providing an end-call button anymore. Anyone would think it was designed to stop people hanging up). Hastily hand back camera (was going to borrow, but got throught most of spare battery and memory card), point parents to right train, watch walk up platform, run at full pelt through the crowds at Waterloo because I can, find brother and BGF, go down to the Underground with them, chat a bit, realise running fast in summer is a bad idea, wish happy birthday, get wished future happy birthday, wish future happy birthday, watch them get on train, go to my platform, and sit waiting, then home and being too hot to sleep milling round and eventually falling asleep.

Then Sunday was fun, due to having a neck which not so much ached, more had it's own atomic MAD thing going on. I think it's the first time I've ever worn a woollen scarf two days before my birthday. The inability to move my head without loosing Thor in the muscle and the spasm of involuntary reflex (complete with jazz hands) did limit potential activities to the extent that I couldn't be bothered to argue when SG came down wanting to watch a film, despite the warm, sunny, but just cloudy enough to cool, weather still outside. She chose Sleepless in Seattle and didn't really get it (but then she didn't know that drinking wrong side of the glass thing was hiccups). She then borrowed There's Something About Mary for later viewing, which she brought back in disgust. I've no idea if she watched the whole film or just gave up on it (she tends to give up on things, which is something I don't get. She asked if I had something easier to read than Fielding's Tom Jones [which she borrowed from someone else sometime last year]. I leant her some utter trash, saying it was rubbish. She brought that back soon unfinished complaining it was violent and awful. I'm not sure which offended her more, but she has a tendency to shut down if anything unfamiliar or uncomfortable comes along).

And trying to go to sleep was even more fun, having attempted enough massages (it's quite tricking trying to work on muscles distantly connected to those one is working with) to ease the muscle pain a little, but transfer the problem to a trapped nerve, which makes any ill considered movement thunderbolt city. Even lying still isn't quite still, and so searing pain would puncture me at the slightest correction. In the end I tried to lock myself rigid against the bed, gripping the frame on either side, just to minimise movement. I don't know if you've ever tried going to sleep while every muscle is locked solid. It doesn't really work as it was light before my body learnt to ignore the pain.

Which leads to today, and tiredness and pain, and problems crossing the road without looking like my grandfather (and he had the excuse that for the most part he had just the one vertebra). Highlight of my day was renewing my Young Persons Railcard slightly early, for probably the last time ever, due to some line about "up to and including the day before your twenty-sixth birthday". They've changed the format from all the previous ones.

Second highlight of my day; discovering that Foyles may not have quite enough books on sail trimming, but they do have just about right air conditioning, idly scattered out of section books (Alain de Botton on architecture above a shelf of cruising guides), are empty enough that one can have undisturbed and undisturbing conversations on a mobile, while being thoroughly distracted by the good looking people in the street below.

Third highlight: blogging so long that I won't have time to reply to the many emails I ought to reply to, nor have time to go shopping for food I need for tomorrow, wondering if nicking a flatmate's milk is the best way to start a birthday, and then remembering I have bagels in the freezer. Ok, is doesn't solve the emails things, but hey things can't be perfect.

Anyway, I need to go and let them defrost.


PS. Don't you just love people who send emails at 9.46 pm GMT asking how my birthday was and what I did the day before my birthday. I suppose they are further ahead in Australia (where the email originates), but I didn't realise they were 48 hours ahead.

PPS. If I type a bit longer, it'll be tomorrow, so I can then legitimately open the emails. Hurrah, except I'm too tired to wait.

Friday, July 21, 2006

IMG_1193Hurrah, my grand plan is complete.

Well nearly. Blasted triple sec.

Guess who has been slowly accreting the ingredients for Long Island Iced Tea every time Sainsbury's has one of the spirits on offer. Which meant last weeks' very cheap shop, wasn't quite so cheap due to the litre of vodka that went through among the nine pence loaves and packs of bagels.

But after a week of living on increasingly stale bread and cheap tomatoes I decided it was time for some calories. And alcohol's nearly the same as protein. Ish.

So first things first, I look up a recipe for the drink. Actually, I've probably got it in a book somewhere. And I've just remembered the cocktail shaker I was once given, which I must still have somewhere. Probably in a different county though.

So one first Google result later, and I'm realising I'm only halfway there. Who on earth actually has tequila? Or rather who has enough left in a bottle to make drinks with, rather than a sticky empty bottle with a stupid hat on top and a certain 18 hours the owner will not talk about? There's probably a reason people only drink it very quickly.

So that's one ingredient which will just have to stay missing. Next is rum, which I have, even though it's dark rum (well, it's supposed to look like tea, so who cares). Gin is easy, and probably less expensive per drink than tonic.

Triple sec I do not have, but I think it's vaguely orangey, so might substitute a small glug of orange juice (it'll just have to be milky tea).

Sweet and sour mix sounds fearsome, and I have a hunch they don't mean that viscous orange stuff which comes in polystyrene cups. I also vaguely remember being told once that it was mostly sugar and lemon juice, which I can do.

1 Splash Coca-Cola. Or rip-off own-brand stuff because it's half the price and I'll only have it for mixing drinks (and having tasted it unmixed, possibly cleaning the loo).

So first scavenge ice from the freezer, then anoint with currently owned spirits and finally coke. Taste. Shudder. Decide that the thing which is 1.5 to everything else's one might be important. Add a teaspoonful of sugar and a few glugs of lemon juice. Taste again. No shudder, but bizarrely tasteless. Decide to add orange juice to improve taste. Add a glug. Retaste. Still lacking. Consider adding Angostura bitters and so pretending it's Earl Grey, but decide against it. Retaste. Not bad, just not stunning either. Maybe it just needs to brew for a bit. Absentmindedly* retaste, and discover it's not water. But the alcohol sensation seems to have completely disappeared, as has the ice. Decide commenting and blogging would be good, although I do wish my arms would stop alternating between sticking to the desk and skidding along it. Discover that the drink's nearly gone and most of the sugar is sitting in the bottom of the mug. And the alcohol's back. And it's gone warm. Better finish it before the Drosophila move in.

Oh. Apparently I neglect to stir it. It's gone a bit rumtopf, so the clamminess has been resurrected and my ears are suddenly navigation beacons (and'll probably turn my stereo on in a minute). Hmm, sucre med alkohol ist gezehren gud.

Anyway, I still have that asterisk to deal with so I'd better stop typing here. Oh, and why am I drinking? Because I went shopping. Or rather took SG shopping (because being male, I'll know where all the female clothes shops are). And having been shopping, and berated her for being adventurous in picking grey marl over her standard navy blue (God knows what she thinks it makes her look like), and discovered she doesn't like showing, ooh, any flesh whatsoever, complains people think she's childish (she asked if I knew where to get dungarees for God's sake. I was good, and didn't say 1978), and then decided to overcompensate [on one scale] by picking a horizontal striped jumper in orange and mauve. My own fault really. I only took her into BHS to make a point. Fortunately she was dissuaded from buying it (oh, it'll still be here next time; it's not like anyone's going to buy it). It reached the point where I made her try on some hugely over-budget, flowing, flowering dress in John Lewis's just to get her used to the fact she's female. Of course she refused to come out of the changing room in it, a situation I could not rectify due to standing outside the wrong set of changing rooms. And my God, how the hell can women shop? Everywhere worked on different sizing systems, and I haven't a clue where a 12 comes next to a 34 or US 8 or a Euro 46 or a medium. And that's before we get into the traditional Debenhams small is a Next medium or whatever. The only size we actually know she is happens to be an H&M mens' medium and that's because the only thing she bought (actually I bought, due to some BOGOF on sale items and owed money for a theatre programme) was a long sleeve blue and white t-shirt. Spot who had run out of resistance and was distracted by the polo shirts.

And then I went off to get a card for my brother's birthday, by which time John Lewis's had closed, so I ended up at the Royal Academy (stone courtyards filled with jazz and the sounds of people on a summer evening aren't the best places for a phone call, especially not when on such unexpected subjects as Minoan Drosophila) hurriedly scanning their shop.

During this time SG apparently bought my birthday present, which she gave to me, along with a card, neither of which I opened as it's not Tuesday. So she then managed to send me an email asking how to revive a pigeon (er, throw it out of the window; if it flies it'll be fine, if not then it was probably going to die anyway, so now you've put it out of it's misery) and asking if I liked the album. I hadn't even done the Lego test yet, and already she's told me what it was. Ok, so I knew as it fell out of the wrapping paper when I moved it, but I did put it back very quickly. Anyway, should anyone be feeling generous, please do not get me the new Muse album (or any of the others come to that) as I appear to already have it. I firmly expect to listen to it fairly soon, although I strongly suspect it may get borrowed at dawn the 26th.

And I should be more trusting. My reaction as the CD fell to the floor (still in the cellophane - obviously SG is not used to giving CDs) was "wow, something I actually like. That was unexpected**". Oh hell, I've just remembered I've got GA's present to get, and she's have a party and everything (with Womblehunt) and has very inconsiderately given me a list of options (I hope it's not the same as everyone else, because I suspect a dozen books on sail trimming might be too many) so I can't do the usual panicked candle/candlestick/vase/mug/random lump of glass/plant/have-I-done-candles/but-it's-a-different-shape-chunk-of-glass? Sod it, if it gets to this time next week and I'm still stuck, she can have cheap DVD of Ghostbusters (but only because I couldn't find Look Who's Talking 2 on DVD).

* Or should that be 'absinthe-mindedly'? I know I'm not drinking absinthe, but it's a pun, and thus too great an opportunity to neglect through a distaste for arbitrary shoehornerying. Ok. Sorry. Absolut-mindedly? Even though in my case it's Smirnoff-mindedly. But I better stop this train of thought before I read the Cyrillic which isn't BO[delta]KA. And the Gordon's dragon is a bit odd. And why do only the Germans need to know that Captain Morgan's is flavoured with caramel? Actually it might be Dutch, because it's med Karamel.

** In my family it's a rare occurrence. Christmas included "Oh wow, it's a, er [reads] trivet. And it's made of wood. I'm sure that'll come in useful, just as soon as I have a wooden table I need to protect from hot dishes I don't currently own. It's the thought that counts. I can't work out what that was, but I'm sure it counts. By the way, how did you like your teapot? I wasn't sure whether to go with the milk or the plain, and I didn't think the white was you." and "A wind up torch-radio? You know this is exactly the type of thing I'd never think of buying for myself, and I don't already have one. So thank you".

Discover random typed yet forgotten paragraph in text box. Decide to leave because the deleting seems damned fiddly.

Oh, who am I kidding? I'm making it in a free Natwest mug (never banked with them, but they do make good mugs) and using a film container as a measure (I've no idea how many millilitres a Kodak is, although it's actually a Fuji). I need to switch to a larger format.

Anyway, it's suddenly after midnight, and I'm parent, brother and his girlfriend fending tomorrow (ok, so in previous references I might used the word "stoke") so I'd better go to bed.



PS. Remembering this is a blog and not email might be useful when typing the end of the post.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

IMG_0644While supposedly being taught to dance (don't ask and don't laugh), I become somewhat distracted (and just a little dispirited due to not quite having enough cossack genes). Firstly comes a little compare and contrast, starring Alizée, who some of you may already know (don't think I don't notice those song-playing-as-posted things)

English versus Français.

In one it's Europop, in the other it's absolute rubbish. What is it about foreign tongues which instantly neuters the offensiveness?

But while peruse more works of the world's favourite Corsican, I discovered her Japanese works. First an advertisement for something which wasn't what I thought it was (and can you guess what that was) which has a distinctly Japanese style, and then I found something with a hint of Banzai, only I can't figure out where the joke is. But more importantly, neither can Mademoiselle Jacotey. The only thing I can make sense of is that the programme is sponsored by Proctor and Gamble, which gets us back to what I thought she was advertising earlier. Well, if Elise wasn't already the name of a car, it would be something fairly absorbent (and I don't mean a jelly baby).

And then I see something like this little thing and I wonder why I even try. It's the same sort of feeling as when you discover that no one can know everything. Although I think he missed Saturday Night.

Disturbingly, I probably have attempted most of those (ignoring the only-in-America ones), even if I remain more familiar with the first minute of dancing styles than any others (spot the Scout/sailing club/village hall/wedding disco influence. It's odd how time renders the once shocking safe).

I might just stick with this. At least I know how to dance to that.

Hmm, if only I had a DVD of Saturday Night Fever I'd be saved all this awkwardness. Anyway, I'm off to enhance my moves, as apparently "ghetto is good", so I'm going to go and pimp my crib[bage board].

No, I don't actually know how to play, but I think I once swallowed one of the pegs from my grandparents' set. Look, it was chewy, in an unjoked lolly stick way, ok? I don't know how to play bridge either, which gets me to last night's avoid-talking-to-SG film: Gosford Park. It gets better with each viewing. There's a heck of a lot of details, so the first viewing is like being there; one comes away with a vague knowledge of some things, but not entirely sure what went on.

I am a little concerned that people recommended it to me on that grounds that I would like it. Was it the arch comments, the brazen rudeness, the slights or the subtle digs that were supposed to appeal to me? Or was it the potential in jokes (A bungling Inspector Thom[p]son? Oh come on, that's as obvious as Dogberry. So why Dexter for the competent constable? From the right or from the Morse?), or perhaps the country houseyness?

I think it probably is the cruel that was supposed to appeal. And of course, it does. You know that little bitchfest I mentioned last time? It only confirms that you can take the Anyhoo out of the Tweeton, but you can't the take the Tweeton out of the Anyhoo. But to counteract that the film also reminded of one definition of charming (through incessantly failing to be so): to not cause or allow the embarrassment of any person. So now I'm going to have to endeavour with that. At least until I get bored with it.

And is life meant to imitate art? The joys of fiendishly hot weather (which wasn't actually all that hot. It was hot, but not painfully so, but I always pick "too warm" in those meaningless surveys) mean that last night I wide awake at one a.m. and bored to sobs.

Ok, maybe not sobs, but pretty bored.

Oh excellent! Casting my gaze down to the lesser mortals playing football on a Croydon of paving slabs beneath my window, one man has sought to combine two so far separate fashion trends. One for hockey girl socks, another for three-quarter length trousers (in tasteful, slightly too shiny, navy sportswear fabric complete with yellow side stripes). Imagine he was going for the Outkast look, but given a JDSports twist. So not only does he have horizontal and vertical stripes at war, but they're firing volleys over the no-mans-land of his upper calves, although strangely the half-inch of flesh on one side is twinned with about 3 on the other. Them gonna be some mighty fine tan lines (and I thought sailing gear could be cruel when it comes to the gaps).

I told you ribbed white socks would be making a comeback. Let's hope that was its last hurrah.

And I'm aware that was unnecessary mean, but I'm wearing shorts which have been earning me frowns, so I've just about had it with being judged and not judging. The frowns come probably because of the dual insults I inflict on the world by exposing my scarcely tanned legs, and including my knees in the exposure. And the shorts are that faded teal that only people with big hair, sunburnt faces and Crew clothing can quite get away with. And yes, I have compounded the sin by combining the shorts with deck shoes, but that's only because I'd run out of clean socks. I am aware that in London terms that's as rational as wearing wellies, but I'm not the only one thus bedecked.

So not only do I wear unfashionable shorts with unfashionable legs but I walk in unfashionable shoes too. But I don't like flip flops (just look at the colour of people's feet at the end of a day in flip flops in London. Oh, and that whole wellies-in-London thing... I think flip flops count too. They're not exactly designed for running on escalators are they? Nice plaster where they rub inside your big toe too. I'm sure that's a good look. It's very, er, Usher). And I'm self conscious in cut-off plus-fours (there's no point in only the showing the extremely thin part of my legs, rather than including the merely unsettlingly thin. One advantage of legs being where they are is that I only see them foreshortened, thus saving me from certain suicide), and anything which ends actually on the knee bugs the hell out of me.

And since when has surfwear been citywear? There's stupid amount of men wandering round in boardshorts. I know they spent sixty quid on them and thus want their money's worth, but surely wearing swimming trunks on the Northern Line is not the way. What are they going to do, water-ski behind a PLA barge? I only know the price as I saw a pair I liked and then wondered whether that was really worth it to have three foot of nylon dangling shimmeringly from my arse. But then I also managed to find some much shorter and for only around £300. Think fifties Bond as done by Dolce and Gabanna. I didn't buy them as I suspect not even they could protect against the hazards of swimming in the English sea (and I'm not referring to stray jet skis). Actually, I wonder if anyone would dare try to swim in them as they did look as if designed to survive the rigours of a fashion shoot, rather than those of half-hearted dive. Anyway, you could probably get the same look by buying a pair of cycling shorts, hoiking them up a bit more and trimming off the excess.

Argh, I've just visualised a Liz Hurley dress swimming trunks crossover. Not nice. And probably somewhat chaffing.

But thinking back to Tweeton reminded me that Friday evening wasn't the nothingness I'd previously described, as somehow I'd forgotten being languid on t'Heath (well, it's north of here), having spent the evening before lying erect in Regent's Park (warm sun, cold wind, nipples taking aim at any threatening cloud). Actually sunbathing in the evening does have something curiously attractive about it. Perhaps it's the inefficient futility. Perhaps it's the low guilt tanning (just enough to not look like one needs to go in for 25 minutes on gas mark 7, yet enough to considerably nuke any spots into submission, and not enough to cause hmm-that's-saggy and since-when-did-that-crease* inducing sunburn [ok, so probably any UV does damage, but I look on it as either I age or I stay with the adolescent body, including the spots. Case solved. Anyway, the only never-tanned skin I have has stretch marks and so isn't the best basal case. Besides, if I try to do pale and interesting I end up colourful, textured and interesting for the wrong reasons]).

* There's one line in the top of my knees. It's like a little sadistic half smile every time I straighten them. I've never noticed it before. But then I still get surprised to discover my legs have hair. Perhaps having a residual self image stuck at 6 isn't a good thing. Although, and this is to the frowners, at least my shorts now aren't as short as they were then. Obviously more innocent times, before the ozone holes, paedophile hysteria, and the criminalisation of public indecency (and the rights of children to sue their parents for emotional damage).

But lying in the long grass interrupted only by the gentle sounds of Frisbee and far off bongs* is quite nice. The gentle sounds of Frisbee are, by the way, for the nearby English couple "Sorry... Sorry darling... Sorry... Mind out. Sorry..." and for the nearer Australian couple "Shit... Oh shit... Jeez... Shit... Strewth... Shit... Shit... Ow. Shit. Oh shit. I broke a nail... Shit... Shit... [thwadunk]. Shit...". Thwadunk is the sound a Frisbee makes as it enters the grass closing rapidly towards my head, before veering into the ground.

* Typo. That should read bongos, but as both were involved I'll leave it to add a hint of babbling.

And I can see how adders do it. A surprising number of people literally stumbled upon me sprawled in the long grass. Eventually I mongoosed up and realised I was apparently in the middle of an avenue of scarcely visible heads, knees and feet, and so unless I raised a marker, my little space would appear empty. So I rolled over and toyed with my toes along the opposing instep, and pondered why a-framed lower legs are so common, until I realised kneecaps are bloody cumbersome things which don't fold away neatly, and end up taking the weight of the leg and trying to move under it. Anyone would think we weren't designed to lie on lawns reading.

So I lingered, failing to read any of the stuff I carried with me, listening to a neighbouring conversation, trying to ignore the utter familiarity of it (affluent students discussing cats, cars and companions) while trying not to laugh when they do (oh, they'll think it was grasshopper anyway), watching the life in the grass, including a huge harvestman, a baby grasshopper and belatedly a lot of red ants (which hadn't noticed me yet so I lay on pretending they weren't there), while wondering if next door have finished off the Pimms and premade Pimms mix (they'd very quickly run out of lemonade; poor show) and how soon they were going to attempt Pimms diluted with wine, as suggested earlier. Unfortunately they were called to dinner so I never got to hear how successful that would have been. Shortly afterwards the sun set beyond the verdure, so I packed and stood up, back into the sun, and rutched through the grass home, over the hill, where I discovered that the warehouse in Bow was still going, judging by the wreaths layering the sky (er, so that's where that not-quite-a-barbecue smell came from earlier). But Pimms on the Heath does sound very tempting. Now all I need to do is entice some other people (and check whether alcohol's banned so then I can pretend I didn't and ignore the ban).

Oh, and somewhere along the line I introduced SG to One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, which I'd managed to partially forget, which made it all the better. The analogy of living within an area controlled by people who purportedly know what's best has only just occurred to me. I wonder if she's twigged yet. But then she's been livid with the BBC's China series for showing her what she's never been told; that all China is not like Shanghai, and not like the clean, affluent parts at that. Maybe getting the mental health lesson isn't that important right now.

But what became of most of the actors in it? Devito and Nicholson we know, but who is and where is Billy now? Or could casters not see beyond the character?

[Woah. Apparently he was Grima Wormtongue in Lord of the Rings].

Anyway, once again the sun has set, so it's got hotter (feels hotter, as now everything is the same temperature the wind has died) and so I'd better turn off the computer, which has been making frantic noises while pumping out heat, and joining the building's electrics on their go-slow (resistance may be futile, but when it impedes my internet connection, it's damn annoying).


PS. Does anyone know what might be causing my stereo to come on at random times with no alarm set. I assume it's picking up some interference which trips it into action, but have no idea what. Fortunately I'm too absent minded to become paranoid by electrics which have life of their own (ooh, do you think I should go up to the roof to check for cute Batteries Not Included style life? I've always wanted one. And I do have a lamp which looks like a plastic statue of one, but that wasn't intentional).

Oh, and it's not being caused by me sitting on the remote, as I'm not sitting on it, and it needs new batteries. And that wasn't at all pre-emptive.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Greece 3 600 - 14Firstly some telegraph link so old I've forgotten what it links to. Ah yes. The delights of selfishness. Live in cul-de-sac. Complain that the dustmen block cars getting out. So live on a road which doesn't provide access to other drivers while expecting to have access to everywhere else. The woman's obviously never got beyond thinking that traffic is bad without connecting that she is part of it.

And I speak as someone who grew up on a cul-de-sac. Football in the road wasn't quite on due to the hill, but go-karts, bikes and sledging were. Except it was the wrong end of the cul-de-sac, so had the traffic from further up coming through (the place is fractal like in its cul-de-sacs). As house prices went up and people extended and subdivided, so did the number of cars (and the expectation of use. And of course modern cars are safer, so people drive faster). As I grew up, people retreated from the road. Of course we could always play further up the hill, so somewhere less busy, except then we'd get told to sod off by the people who thought nothing of accelerating down a steep hill through a crowd of children.

It's hardly surprising I remember with glee the days snow and ice made the hill difficult, although not impassable, but the idiots in the bigger houses and bigger cars either used the slingshot technique (not ideal if one can't steer and it's just as well there was a kerb there to stop you) or tried the hill in first and would accelerate harder the moment they started slipping back down. Of course they were always too rude to those who lived down the hill to ever receive help. It was really funny watching the 4x4s fail to make the hill [well, it was till they started sliding towards one of our cars]. The best bit was having to go and explain to the people parking in front of the drive that perhaps they might like to reconsider their position.

Even more fun was the year a tree came down over the end of the road, thus trapping everyone. The number of people who came and banged on our door demanding we remove what they saw as our tree was impressive, in a stupendously disheartening way. Apparently not a lot of them had grasped that we don't own the woods over the road, or perhaps it was simply the significance of the twigs, trunk, roots order had eluded them.

But it was entertaining helping various neighbours cut up the tree and try to move it (recently deceased trees are heavy) while be perpetually interrupted by cars coming down the hill, hooting, shouting, waving us out of the way, before figuring out why there was a cluster of people clutching axes and saws standing waist deep in foliage. The brighter ones didn't try to drive through it. But what really impressed me was the number who got angry and demanded we do something as he had a meeting at 11. Because we of course weren't doing anything until we knew that. Apparently sarcasm is more effective when delivered by a man wielding an axe.

Ok, so maybe it's not cul-de-sacs that annoy me (although anything which makes life less equal tends to). It could just be the terminally [unfortunately not literally] stupid. The petty-minded, antisocial, insular and often downright thick people who inhabit cul-de-sacs. And life was kinder and more cohesive back in the land of bump-starts, jump-starts and back-fires. When machines failed, people worked, together.

But I could just be saying that as cars either broke down going up the hill and rolled to a stop near us, or the owners couldn't get them bump-started and had run out of hill, so we usually had to offer tea and WD40 (and jump leads'd cars and roughly analogous Haynes manuals). It gave people an excuse to talk, to meet each other, to realise that if that car is always in that drive, then if the same car turning into the road ahead of them, then it probably is going to want to stop to reverse into that drive, and so not driving into the back of it would be good (I once had someone come round so fast he mounted the pavement to avoid shunting me and have often had to abort because people got too close. I don't know what they think reversing lights mean).

Not that people in that road aren't cohesive. They recently organised a street party. They didn't invite people from either of the lower bits, despite closing the road.

It's all a far cry from my mother managing to devalue the baby sitting circle safety pins.

And this isn't all at what I intended to to write about. It was meant to comment on the disparity between my mood and feelings of late compared to those of other bloggers, but somehow the feeling has passed. I think it's basically the sheer delight of doing things I like with people I like. It's scarcely happened for years and I'd almost forgotten it. It's the bizarre situation of actually managing to relax. First came Thursday's bitchfest, which was much better than it sounds. We all (ok, 3 of 4, 4 being a friend's uni-friend flatmate) come from the petty, spiteful town mentioned above and so all do a good line in destroying those around us with causal aplomb. But it's not meant, and I don't think we actually get round to the truly sensitive stuff (ok, most of us didn't, and the one who did probably didn't earn quite the laughs those comments could have done). It probably says something about us that the multiple faults, flaws and failings of our lives can reduce us to convulsive laughter.

And one advantage of being inept with language is that most of the cheap shots in my direction focussed on what I'd said, not me, so I didn't have to do the truth-in-jest check. Which I suppose is one advantage of speaking tumbleweed lines and I only meant she was an elephant in terms of gestation period, unfortunately only the elephant would understand the link (there was a bra size, lactation, a reviled ex-he-is-still-ex-right-boyfriend not seen in a year lead in. You had to be there, or recording from the live microphone overlooked on the table. Oh apparently leakage is no joking matter, which didn't stop us having a damn good, and suspiciously successful, try).

And I've just realised that by emailing half my readership it makes it just a tad harder to copy and paste from emails.

So Thursday was fun. Friday was... I can't remember, and that's not a comic build up to half remembered drunken antics but simply that it was so undifferentiated from normal that it doesn't stand out. Saturday was more of the same, so emailing, fixing cress and computers. Oh and watching the Fifth Element when SG descended complete with free from rubbish newspaper DVD of Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast (not any of the decent or Disney versions). She insisted on watching them (she isn't region 2, I'm not sure it was encrypted). We watched BatB, or rather we put it on, persevered, tried to look on it as amusingly ghastly (American dubbed Japanese animation. Imagine Spirited Away made twee and without imagination) and decided that for future reference, only the decent papers do decent free films, and thus decided that Cinderella could wait until the world runs out of free AOL CDs to use as coasters, bird scarers, impromptu mirrors and poor Frisbees before we get it back out. Hence the random selection from my slightly too extensive range of DVDs (it does rather say I get bored and have no friends).

Sunday was lunch, cooked by me, shared with Pancake Girl. Thoroughly unseasonal. Not quite as horrendous as choosing the middle line between conflicting recipes should demand, but then I hadn't a clue what to do with lamb shanks (they were reduced in March, and have sat puzzling me in the freezer ever since). Turned out reasonably well considering I forget to nick any rosemary (well, there's one bush nearby that's about a storey tall, so it could do with a prune), put them in so late that I didn't have enough time to insert garlic into the freezer-burnt chunks, and then forgot to make any mint sauce (and I've been watering my ex-flatmate's abandoned mint for months specifically for this purpose). And the roast potatoes weren't quite there, so it's just as well I over-par-boiled them. By the way, please don't let me talk while cooking vegetables. It simply cannot end well and very nearly didn't end at all. I could have pretended I intended them as a starter, but I don't know how to make proper pea soup and mashed carrots doesn't sound that nice. I told you it was unseasonal (the peas were frozen), so you can spot who missed the market on Saturday. Just as well that summer and the wine combined to allow us to think we were full and so not miss the fruit intended, but not bought, for dessert.

As for the people and the conversation, it went well, but that could just be the wine and the fact that for once I could hear her (I'm dreadful at following voices against background noise. That's probably why I liked both Thursday and Sunday. I could hear. I could talk. And I like talking [as friends will attest, possibly vehemently]). I still managed to come away from it thinking that India were playing Pakistan at Lords, which seemed very odd until I realised it was an accent and expectation thing. But I like this thing, this sobre-mesa idea (god knows why it has a Spanish name, it's hardly unique to Latin America). Memo to self: do more, even if that means I have to cook. Actually I quite like cooking as well. It's just the uncertainty of things missing that has been putting me off.

But my computer is busy trying to convince me to go to Moskau (ha ha-ha ha-ha hey indeed), which reminds me that I also intended to Az this blog up with my current me-like song. Although it's not quite as new as his stuff (and I don't know when it's from). But it just seems to work for summer evenings. It's by Israel Kamamkawiwo'ole, which either suggests that there can be something good called Israel after all, that his surname would make an excellent triple word score, or that somewhere there's an online bank account opened by that sequence of characters. And it's a little something you might recognise [scroll down to "Descargar... (mp3, 4.7 mb)" for the filelink].

Russland ist ein schoennes land! But only if one believes the startlingly dressed.

Anyway, haven't eaten yet and need to buy food (due to damn fool idea of feeding it to someone else).


Monday, July 17, 2006

I ought be writing about recent fun, but instead Lebanon is proving insidious. Blogger ate one post which commented on the differences between CNN sites. The US got red banners to the ROW's yellow, and 5 subheadings, the first of which was that "Israel declares state of emergency". The international edition (different sites call it different things) had the same five, all in the same order, except the state of emergency came last. So why the difference?

And they're still at it. The US version has "Sixth Day of Destruction" with all the subheadings talking about the effects on Israel (and Americans in Israel). The American story is replaced in the International version by "Israel denies Lebanese TV report of plane shot down".

The front page picture caption in the International edition reads "Rescuers work on building hit by rocket in Haifa." The US has "Rescue workers rush to a building in Haifa, Israel, apparently hit by a rocket fired from Lebanon."

So once again, why the difference? Is it simply that the wording was adapted to the now differing formats (the 6th day title is across the page) or that difference audiences should be served different information? The US version includes the name of Israel, which is either to aid reader geography or to help clarify that it is Israel under attack, with the ending blaming Lebanon.

It is notable that none of the headlines mention the impact on Lebanon or that Lebanon is being exposed to attacks.

By way of contrast, at the same time Al Jazeera has:
Israel spurns UN call for monitors
- Syria watches and waits
- Iran urges prisoner swap
- Israel bombs Lebanese factories
- Lebanon battles refugee problem

'Ten die' as Israel hits vehicles
- Nations start evacuations
- Israel's Hezbollah headache
- Crisis in pictures
- See the region and places affected in detail
- UK evacuees could top 22,000 [UK]
- Q&A: Middle East crisis
- Who are Hezbollah? [Int]

Sky [UK]:
Air Strikes Kill Civilians
- Your Experiences
- Violence Rages On
- Attacks Stepped Up
Sky [AU]:
- Aussies flee conflict
- Beirut air strikes

Crisis in Middle East [US]
- US sending ships for Lebanon evacuation [US]
- Oil slips from record highs in volatile trade [US]
- Special report: World reaction, blog post [US]
- Israel bombards Lebanon [UK]
- Israel bombardiert erneut Ziele im Libanon und in Gaza [DE]
- Israele bombarda Libano, bocciata forza internazionale [IT]
- Bolsa argentina profundiza baja por temores en Oriente Medio [AR, ME]
- Israeli strikes on Lebanon kill 41 people [CA]
- 6e jour de frappes au Liban et de roquettes sur Israël [FR]
- Encuentran otros nueve cadáveres tras ataques aéreos en Líbano [Latam]
- Israel cierra el puerto de Haifa tras ataques de misiles [ES]
- [The Arabic version uses the same picture of a smoke plume over Beirut as Canada]
- [Chinese version shows people running]
- [Russia has a story filed from Beirut]
- [Japan and Brasil have something about the G8]
- [India and South Africa have the tsunami]

Israeli Demand: Let Our People Go
- Mideast Conflict
- Over 200 Dead In Mideast Fight
- Crisis In Lebanon

[Banner] Israel PM Says Fighting Will Stop When Soldiers Free, Attacks End
Attacks, Diplomatic Efforts Intensify
Israel reportedly lays out ceasefire terms, answers Hezbollah strikes
- Hezbollah rockets rain on Haifa
- Israeli troops to target Hezbollah border bases
- Missiles hit Beirut shortly after sunrise
- More than 200 dead on both sides
- Mideast Ignites
- Haifa Under Attack
- Conflict Rages On
- Patrol Attacked

And the AP's website seems to be dead.

And I'm rapidly running out of patience. Research is hard, let's go shopping.

I know I should be far too cynical to be astounded in the disparity of reporting, but the bias and the manipulation is ridiculous. Hands up if you can figure out why CBS chose to use a language suggestive of Jewish slavery, or how misleading Fox's "More than 200 dead on both sides" is (really, 200 Israelis have been killed as well?)

But while swilling round this story, I saw repeated mention of Bush's gaffe/expletive/'S' Word. This stems from comments made in the vicinity of a live microphone. The BBC guide people towards a Sky presenter's blog, which features a transcript of the recordings (the BBC is the only site I've found, exempting Sky, which does this. Why is so much of the media source, content or context free?). Al Jazeera also reports this story, quoting at length from the recording. Except they manage to hear things either marked as inaudible or simply not recorded (as well as editing some of the quotes to strengthen the message).

[AB] Bush: You see, the ... thing is what they need to do is to get Syria, to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it's over
[AJ] "See, the irony is what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it's over."

Irony versus thing. The BBC have the truncated clip on their website and Bush apparently does use "irony". So that's one for AJ. As for the comma, AB's version suggests that Syria is a synonym for Hezbollah, whereas AJ's suggests Syria controls Hezbollah. So once again AJ seems the more reliable of the two.

The next part used on AJ comes from an earlier part of the conversation according to AB.
[AB]Bush: What about Kofi [inaudible] his attitude to ceasefire and everything else ... happens
Blair: Yeah, no I think the [inaudible] is really difficult. We can't stop this unless you get this international business agreed.
[AJ]What about Kofi Annan? I don't like the sequence of it. His attitude is basically ceasefire and everything else happens," said Bush.
"What does he think? He thinks if Lebanon turns out fine, if he gets a solution in Israel and Palestine, Iraq goes in the right way, he's done it. That's what this whole things about. It's the same with Iran," added Blair.
But Blair also cautioned that "the thing that is really difficult is you can't stop this unless you get this international presence agreed."

I haven't yet found a copy of the video covering this bit. I don't know how accurate the "sequence" line is. How can "to" equal "is basically"? Admittedly the latter makes more sense, but is it a case of hearing what you can understand, and so sounds are made to fit the words. The ellipsis adds another layer of uncertainty.

The Blair apparently launches into something which is unrecorded by AB. I'm not even sure which bits line up. Does "Yeah, no I think the" come from the same sounds as "What does he think? He". Or is it a later "think" or perhaps "thing"? The difference between "business" and "presence" is disturbing as they convey very different meaning; how much of this is hearing what one wants to hear?

Ok, so this is a bit pointless, especially as the BBC has belatedly produced their own hasty transcript, which only adds more confusion.

Sod it. I've had enough. It's all too depressing. Can't someone go and bang their heads together? Beirut's on my "if I ever have enough time and money" list. It's back to the insanity of someone using a Volvo estate for car bombing (see the write up of the BM's Arabic exhibition). It's just wrong.

Er, I was talking about the Lebanon thing (not that Lebanon needs head banging, only some of those in and around. BTW, what's north of Lebanon as all the escape routes mentioned are east or west? I'd guess Turkey, so why is that not an option?)

Microsoft Word spell check substitutions:
- Al Jazeera, Al Jazzier
- Hezbollah, Ebola
And we won't get into Kofi Annan.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

[200607121950UTC: I'm sure this made sense at some point even if that seems elusive now. But it stays because I can't be bothered to edit it, nor replace it, as the other highlights of my recent life have been the effectiveness or not of Harpic and the first Christmas of the year. Oh and having a computer become obsolete]

IMG_1192This'll be quick as I haven't been up to much (other than emailing certain people a lot, so if it wasn't you I apologise but you didn't miss much. It was only about driving tests, Bros and gravy or stuff like that).

It's always a bit odd to hear people discussing oneself. It's even odder when one happens upon several year's worth of comments made by one's father. The power of the Internet, Usenet and distinctive, if lapsed, usernames, which apparently haven't lapsed in his world.

Of course in saying this I'll have to admit to being a former user, and even feature in some groups, of Usenet, a time I prefer to think of as training for blogging. And not the awful Septembery geekdom that it was, compounded by being present in the same newsgroup as my father (such a bad, bad idea). Worryingly, not only is my father still there many years later, but I recognise most of the other posters, and in some cases the tagline quotes they use in their signatures (could they not at least change them annually? I think it's time we left the [disturbingly easy Google term and following logical spinoff removed], or thinking back to one flat, a mildly interested lemon).

Anyway, it's nearly as fun as discovering something my brother wrote about me (on a band website, I was trying to trace a different band). One problem with reading what my father has written is that not only does he not sound quite the like the person I think of (it's very disconcerting to think he might be normal[ish]), but he repeats my anecdotes, only gets the details wrong, which annoyingly seems to improve them. And no, I'm not telling you, because Google exists and because still functioning, if, real name email addresses exist.

As does the family website I made when young (although it's the second generation one, after I got told to remove the first one, when my parents finally noticed). I think it's because none of us can remember the FTP password.

Anyway, all this is a bit pointless, and other than making me rediscover reading in ROT13 (which isn't very hfrshy), it's slightly aimless exploring of the past. As indeed is this. As I told someone earlier, it was awful at the time. Although the fact I had to provide context probably tells you which regular that was. AF, you're not the only who can be made to feel old (I don't know why you're complaining. I mean, you have just retired to the country after all. Had much trouble with the Aga? And 4 was old Doctor Who, which I don't think is on CBeebies, despite the questioning umbrella that always made me think of school maths programmes [I have no idea why, it just seemed to fit]).

Actually, I've just realised how liberating ROT13 is. It's Googleproof. I can say anything I like without fear of having hordes of mislead fools stampeding through (although a small horde would be nice; it's summer, and everyone seems to have decided that it's too hot for computers, hence my stats are looking a little wilted). I also can live beyond the MSN-banning range (they seem to consider even minor orfgvnyvgl non-family-friendly).

Woohoo! Serr tnl cbea* for all, with hot** tvey ba tvey npgvba at the end.

* Well, the knight seems happy, and you should be used to dire puns by now.
** Probably about room temperature, which is hot, relative to something which is less hot.


Saturday, July 08, 2006

2005-09-21 Boat Show 021Firstly, do not watch very cheap copies of Flight of the Navigator (look, if he can watch London Eye Bueller, then I'm allowed to regress just as much [apparently they came out in the same year]. I just happened to be quite lot younger at the time, hence the different choice) when tired, as you might just find yourself getting just a bit emotional. Fortunately someone who does not understand the power of this film came and interrupted, dragging me away before I heard one syllable of "compliance".

And I think I've figured out why last week's clothes shopping ended in a sole stripey polo shirt. It's only because I can't wear navy that it's something in worryingly like old [nursery] school colours. Even though I've only seen the beginning recently, it's quite odd noticing the current fashions (well those recently current) which appear in the film (long sleeve t-shirts, white body, coloured arms, diagonal shoulder seams, used retrospectively to denote 1978ness. Very similar things have been hanging round since 2000). Disturbingly, continuing this process means thick, ribbed, white socks will be making a comeback. And that's before we get onto the then present day fashions, which could proof interesting, as the fashions worn by Sarah Jessica Parker (another link to the other film) could end up providing inspiration to the designers worn by SJP, in an apt weird time-travelly way.

Anyway, it's about the right time of year to watch it, as it's set on two Independence Days, and I've just had a really bizarre thought. Imagine Flight of the Navigator, but made in France, set around Bastille Day. Somehow I think it would a little impossible to keep Jean Paul Gautier out of it. And "conformité" just doesn't sound right.

Ok, now I'm scaring myself with the thoughts of the skittering mechanoids replacing the cute finger puppets, and the spaceship made of exposed rusty Mechano, which hisses steam sporadically. Bung in basement spider guy from Spirited Away and a theatrical villain like Cruella de Vil as the head of NASA and you'd be about there.

Perhaps rampantly American isn't always bad.

Huzzah for wanting to be David for £2.99. Less huzzah for seeing various other films I already own for the same price (to quote a strange mother-ism "Spit", which avoids both swearing and spitting). And an indifferent huzzah for Ghostbusters and the second one for the same price each, as I never saw either as a child, and was old enough to know that ghost was doing when I saw it, which lent a unsettling feeling of "what else do they smuggle into children's films?" to the whole thing.

Now all I need is a very cheap Bugsy Malone (and all the Indys and Back-tos and Star Wars's) and I can pretend I'm young forevermore.

And before you ask, nothing ever happened to Joey Cramer (he who plays David).
Blast. Firefox fled, and took the rest of this post with it. So instead of rewriting it all, I'll ask you questions about it and see if you can fill in the gaps.

1. Where is the zone 3 hiccup?
2. Where can one find "Bowes-Scott & Western"?
3. Who or what are EWS and what did I think it stood for (based upon what they do)?
4. The DLR tunnel into Bank reminds me of which television programme?
5. Why is there a Quantas battle flag outside my window?
6. Which opera did I skip, and what didn't I know came from it?
7. What is not perpendicular and runs on a bearing of about 010?
8. Where does the viaduct by Island Gardens go?
9. What are Watermen and Lightermen and who claims to be one along with a Journeyman and Freeman?
10. What really obvious photograph did I miss?
Bonus question: how do you turn the flash off?

Ok, so some of the answers might be the same and some of them might not have had answers in the original.


Thursday, July 06, 2006

2005-07-14 003Has anyone else tried watching Wimbledon via the BBC's website? It's great fun, as when ever the ball goes fast, it becomes invisible, so you end up predicting where you think it ought to have gone (and only very occasionally losing it). I've only tried following a bit of dirt on the screen once. But fortunately the Hawkeye recaps can fill in the gaps. And the onscreen graphics can be a bit hard to decipher, such as that which flashed up "FASTEST SERVE: 1GB".

And apologies to those who can't get it, but it's a UK only thing, due to broadcast rights (as the blurb explains, shortly after dropping in a line about needing a Television Licence, which I'll pretend I didn't see as I've been watching stuff on the BBC's website for ages and nothing else has mentioned, and surely they must know that there are people with internet connections but no television, hence no licence, and surely if they were serious they'd ask for the license number plus a few other confirmatory details before letting people watch? A Guardian piece today also brings up the licence fee thing [look, if they don't say it before I use it, then it's their own silly fault], while mentioning that Channel 4 stream their broadcasts as they go out. A. Why did I not know about this? B. Woohoo! C. Oh, it's not all the programmes on the channel, as I've picked a black screen time to watch. D. It's a trial service, which sounds like once it works properly, they'll charge for it).

Of course, blogging with the tennis on in the background means I get occasional deuces, ripples of applause and not the foggiest idea what's going on. I ought to be doing work anyway.

While checking which spelling of "licence" applies, even though I think it's just me being odd and applying different meanings to UK and US spellings, I found this page which says how much of the fee goes on each aspect. Typically, the one I watch least (when I have a television), is the one that takes about a third of the total. So for what I currently use, I should be paying £2.93 a month, and that includes £1.50 for BBC Two, when I can't get most of the output.

Oh, and I think Clusters* is about to lose. Maybe not: tie break.

* IJ in sans serif thin line capitals.


PS. JHH won. And it's bit late for pretending it's still lunchtime.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Antigua - St John's iron roofsWhile Ryan writes about the problems of making Blogger forget stuff, I seem to be excelling. Last time I looked this post went something along the lines of:

"I love the colourful clothes you wear", the suitability of the Beach Boys for summer, doing style Az style, and something else.

Anyway, I went shopping fairly recently, and other than buying a stupid amount of DVDs (and one CD, which I'm currently listening to, Muse: Origin of Symmetry), oh and not getting a birthday/housewarming present for a friend after walking round half of John Lewis's with a nosebleed. Oh, and a tip for the successful shopper, who doesn't wish to induce another nosebleed; do check for local events before using shortcuts. Perhaps trying to walk through a gridlocked [bodylocked?] Soho during Pride (apparently London Pride is not just beer) wasn't really the greatest idea, especially not when I noticed the fellow loiters from the night before (I'll explain later, if I'm allowed to*). So if you saw someone clothed struggling through the near naked throng, snagging the occasional thong**, all while holding the bridge of his nose and every so often pausing to admire another man's equipment (there were some seriously nice cameras there), then that was probably me.

And there I was thinking it would be empty because of the football.

*This isn't actually connected to the guy who wouldn't let me write about things, but it'll be fun to wind him up. And I've just noticed he's dropped the link which was prompting incipient reciprocation.

** Ok, not true, but I like the throng/thong thing.

Anyway, diverting briefly to the football, which I obviously didn't watch, having watched the first England game and therefore fulfilled my quota (I realised watching it that the last (and first) match I saw was probably Euro 96, and so me next scheduled whole match viewing will be in 2016). It's odd seeing people forming beams radiating out from televisions; in several case watching through doors and windows, and so streaming out into the street, rigidly aligned like iron filings over a hidden magnet. And judging from the comparative silence, things weren't going well; the day before I'd been deafened by constant rounds of e-tal-ya.

So by the time I hit a deserted Morrissons (which could have been because of the match, or simply because it's always like that), semaphore between the kiosks was breaking down (apparently they hadn't agreed the signal for "miss") and there was a definite tension in the air, along with a suggestion of rotten potatoes, the latter perhaps a synaesthetic result of Morrissons' instore radio: Songs you'd forgotten and those you don't even remember. I'd like to make some disparaging remark about whichever arse-end of Radio 2 singer was playing, but I can't actually remember, which is probably just as well. It is noticeable that the songs they play all seem to come from the big wire basket of jumbled CDs, all for £1.99, all by people I'd never heard of, so a bit like Virgin then, except for the jumble, wire, basket, price, and the all.

So after waiting an age to buy 75-pence-worth of oranges (I came for reduced stuff, but it mostly wasn't, and even if it were, it wasn't decently reduced), because that's how they make their money, by not employing enough staff to man the tills, although there is that big gaggle over there arguing, and now they're waiting, and watching the queues; ah, I see, it's such an egalitarian company that any staff asked to man the tills can refuse providing they can present a compelling argument, so presumably those three were positing that it's not busy enough to warrant more people on the tills, so now they're going to start noting how many people are queueing at each till every five minutes or so in a rolling assessment, and then once they have enough data they can ascertain the underlying trends and so see if it would have be necessary to put more staff on the tills during the initial examined period. Such efficiency!

But during the wait the Bangladeshi girl on the till starts conversing with the couple behind me, in what I presume is Bangladeshi, although it could have been Zulu. I'm not really listening, because that would be rude (far ruder than ignoring the customer one is serving and craning round the next one in the queue to talk to the people behind him) and because I didn't understand. But then it lapses into the traditional -lish language common to some many tongues. Sometimes it only occurs in certain circumstances, so listening to crackly French radio kecko-ing and eek!-ing its way through a report on Thatcher, Reagan, la Defense Strategique and something to do with a university for Basque separatists, or Welsh locals trying to mention something that isn't a singing leek chewed by rained upon sheep halfway up a mountain, or any German broadcast strewn with sehr kool English (or English-ish) words.

There was some babble containing the words "Gerrard", "Rooney" (like chutney, only thicker), which then was followed by "Penalty-hai", more speech, something said in lowered tones, which elicited a long, incredulous "hai?" which I took to be roughly analogous to the teeth-sucking which occurs before being told the big end's gone.

And no, I'm not sure she was Bangladeshi, but someone who claims to be her brother said he was when confronted by that odd Sino-Italian woman who is a habitué of that branch (long complicated story; this is what happens when there aren't even staff on the tills).

So I left in a state of mild confusion, although that might have the been the utter lack of sleep, food or water, the heat, the blood loss, or the realisation I've got go out again soon. And as I did so I passed a group trying to do the Monkees walk while singing "Always look on the bright side of life". Hai indeed.

I suppose I probably should mention the reason for the tiredness thing. On Friday I was supposed to meet some friends from uni, one of whom was on holiday from NZ. They were going Womble Hunting (well, spending the day tracking furry things in SW19), and then coming back into town for "some drinkings". I arranged to meet. Turned up late. Sent text message. Got delayed response: Ok. Going to Wimbledon Underground Station [yep, that must be the same guy as flooded 3 flats at uni. Wimbledon Station does both types of railway]. Can meet you there.

Which I read meaning he wanted me to meet him in... oh hang on, that can't be right, because he was going to the tennis, then coming up to Soho, hence standing on a street corner getting dodgy looks (it turns out that by choosing to stand in front of the half renovated shop (I'm sure it was a Thai restaurant last time I looked) next to the Stockpot (I've never found the proper one my father used to take us to on in-service days; my mother teaches, so her children had the day off when she didn't, hence spending the day colouring in and hole-punching to death scrap computer printout paper [nice green lines] while staring out over St James's Square), I'd placed myself in front of the only darkened plate glass window in town, and so was standing in front of Soho's biggest mirror. So all those guys with a squint who were checking me out, er, weren't.

I wrote a reply saying I'd wait in Soho if he was coming, or if he meant meet in Wimbledon, then it's too far, and I wouldn't come, oh and when's he next in London? Reply: OK. Back around 18th. Give you a text to meet.

I waited for while trying to figure it out. Ok to which option? Tried to ring him, but his phone didn't ring, so he was probably on the Tube by then.

I hang round, attracting amused glances from people leaving the Stockpot who passed me on the way in. I wait long enough that the guy who went into on the flats over the Moorish place had time to shower, change, probably eat, and come back out again. I see various people pass me several times, noticing that some u-turn immediately the crowd thins out, others walk further and put on a pretence of having forgotten something and so turning back (as they'll do again in 18 minutes).

I direct umpteen people towards Chinatown, the nearest Tube station, and "The Soho area". I have to admit to only giving facetiously misleading answers in the latter case (all other cases being unintentionally misleading, but fortunately forgetting which road I was on should have been covered by general vagueness. "Down there, turn right" said he pointing to the lane that meets five others at the far end).

But as for asking where Soho is while standing it; that's as bad as asking "are we nearly there yet" when standing in the hall taking off your coat. Naturally enough I made sure these fine specimens of Americus tourista (y'all from Artexah? Say, which state is that? The Sunshine State, the Potato State, the Empire State, the Beehive State [oh, all the good ones taken?], the Hawkeye State [what?], the Beaver Steak, the Garden Stake, the Golden State? Uh-huh, the Inbred State? Well, woonchanoit?) saw much of the delights of Soho. So I sent the them down Old Compton Street, right at the end, straight up until they hit Oxford Street, cross straight over, and on until they get to end of that road, and then... oh, it's complicated, you'll forget. Just ask for Greek Street once you're there. So down here, turn right, straight on till the end, then ask for "Greek Street". Look, if they can walk through Old Compton Street and Wardour Street on a Friday night and not twig, well, they don't really deserve to know where Soho is, do they? And I did give them a sporting chance, as the first road sign they'd see would be Greek Street.

Of course I should have directed them to that alleyway at the end of Berwick Street, if only to watch the misunderstandings that might arise.

So I stood waiting while the tide flowing out towards Covent Garden ebbed and flooded back into Soho, while Italy won and BMWs streaming Italian flags roared round the block, while Tesco's managed to direct two lorries through Friday night crowds, while an idiot on a motorbike nearly killed himself and several others, many times, while tourist families spilt out of Mary Poppins into the post-football confusion, while staid young couples walked back from dinner and drew cold at the sight of such otherness, while it got dark. Eventually a text, which began "really daft question" later, I discovered I'd been stood up. I considered going back to the department, but the building would close soon, and surely there must be something I can do on a Friday night in Soho which does not involve PDFs.

So a brief wander, someone I vaguely knew, and a flyer which said free (always appeals) later, I'm in some darkened room, being deafened by awful music while people stare at me. Oh, I'm standing against the wall, and the walls are mirrored. Although he's definitely staring at me. Oh sod off; leaving aside all other issues, I have some taste. Go and work on your drunk-enough-dar. Will you quit staring. The psycho-killer eyes aren't really doing it for me. Oh, you thought that was looking seductive? No, I'll, no I won't. Er... I've just got to go to the loo, and that is not a bloody invitation. And you can sod off too with your "shall I pump you?" handheld liquid soap. Oh it's this song again, don't they have enough trash that they can last beyond an hour? I didn't know it the first time round, so why repeat? Anyway, I'd better go and dance, if only to lose the stalkers. Thank God awful music has enough of a beat that any fool can dance to it, and I quite like dancing, even though I can't. I haven't done this in ages. And then the lights came on, and we went outside, and pretended it wasn't dawn while waiting for the bus.

It's quite odd to discover I'm irresistible, even if it is only amongst the purest dregs of insanity (that was meant to me humanity, but my tired brain has obviously gone Freudian).

The next day involved a nice fun bus ride across north London, using a bus whose route I couldn't make sense of when I read the names on the timetable. It turns out that all those places are were I thought they were, and the bus route is like that simple computer game (and so one of those found on mobiles) were you have to stop the line hitting the sides or itself. Just as well it wasn't a bendy bus.

So get back, undress, curse the flatmate who showers five times a day for being in the bathroom, discover it's Lurch (of the poor aim), and he was mopping the floor. He hasn't cleaned it, just evened the grime over the floor and mop. I'm feeling less guilty for cremating his frying pan now, but if he hadn't left it sitting on the stove for a week, full of fat and meat juices... Actually I don't think he's noticed the blackened bits.

Anyway, shower, forget to shave, decide not to bother (it'll only make my skin worse), send text to say I'll be about half an hour late, grab lunch, leave sometime after I was supposed to arrive, just miss tube, so have to hang round till next on engineering works weekend timetable (the screens had reverted to their standard telling you which platform you're on, which means they don't know when the next train is), change at Problem (oh, so apt), which consists of getting off, meeting the queue to get onto the platform in the tunnel, and, er, joining. One train later and I've elbowed my way to the platform edge. Train comes in full, few people get off, train leaves full, after about eight goes at shutting the doors. Repeat this time with a murderous mob about to lynch to the two arrogant bints who don't move down inside the carriage to make room for two more people. Fortunately it's so completely packed with bodies that we can't get close enough to flay, eviscerate or grind. The driver tries to close the doors, unsuccessfully. There follows a very sarcastic announcement on the train about the gentleman with the throbbing headache, which is not, despite what he may think, being caused by the heat. A startled man mongooses up for further down the train, as I realise I've just been leaning against the outside of a Tube, and so could mine coal in my love line. He pops back down as the doors buck outwards as they hit his shoulder blades.

The train groans off, accelerating apparently proportionally to the density inside the passing carriages. There's seats in that one! I abandon my artfully gained "the doors open here" position, and charge off down the platform and stop somewhere near the other end, hoping the next train is like the last, and that not everybody from the crowded end follows me. Remarkably few do.

During all this, I finally get round to noticing that southbound trains on one line come into a pair of parallel platforms in a different direction to southbound trains on a different line. I hope the same is true of northbound otherwise my brain might melt.

The next train arrives, I grab a carriage-end ledge (by the wonderful window, which some fool had closed), in preference to a pre-moistened seat, the train takes a few attempts to get the doors shut, and pulls off, hissing past the crowd remaining on most of the platform.

Off at Pimlico (oh, am I supposed to deGoogle that too? Dunlop then), to the Tate, hunt round for the friend, who I miss for a while over some slight left/right issues (she meant Westminsterwards), who is disturbing relaxed about the whole "sorry I'm a bit late" thing (er, are we working from original time or revised arrival time?). And then round the Constable exhibition, which she went round faster than I did, and she was the one who said she liked Constable (whereas, er, I preferred some of his small sketches and prep work. Oh, and in that famous one of Salisbury Cathedral, just look were the light is coming from. And now look at the rainbow. And now... you do know how rainbows work, don't you?). But she managed not to mention God too much, or Christianity, preferring to complain about the ghastly parents of the vile children she teaches (well, if you will work in a private school). Although she lost points for commenting about the one which hangs on the landing at [her parents'] home, which features a miscellaneous oddly shaped lump in the middle. Which, the sail?

And then into the interactivity room (didn't have enough, huh?), where you can use your legs to guide an x-ray scouring a painting (Constable was not above a bit of improvement, as one would expect from a man who painted big paintings simply to get noticed at the RA's Summer Exhibition), or have fun painting in squares to demonstrate how to expand images (we've done this; at first school I think). Although because you press part of a screen and a corresponding square on the projection fills, you can draw little pixelated images in it, or words. Although I didn't have time to experiment nor count the size of the grid (it doesn't match the one on the lower screen, which sort of ruins the point of the display). I'm thinking Space Invaders, bedecked in Suffolk greenery.

Then a few moments of indecision over a late lunch, during which I mention the member's room, and suddenly we're into the realm of the privileged. Ok, so anyone could have walked in as there was no one to check, but still it's a special room, with a stunning view of a lightwell. Oh, and the vibrating fridge which makes the entire floor thrum. It's been doing it for years, and I've come to the conclusion that it's to discourage anyone tempted to linger on the leather settees. Giving everyone the sensation of imminent diarrhoea is one way of shifting the coffee nursers.

God, I'm writing this later, and the sky was brown, and now has turned dark yellow as the rain passes over. It's not as heavy as yesterday, when the air streaming out from under the rain was hot, but it still feels malevolent. The world is the colour of butterscotch Angel Delight for as far as the eye can see (which isn't very far).

Ooh, that was fun; it's calmed down a bit, although as I type it's just strengthened, and in the cooler air I can feel heat radiating from the walls. It's quite interesting watching rain wash the road away. Round here the original Victorian roads have been tarmacked over, so mostly are buried excepted for the cobbled gutters. Except the local council being the local council, in some places they've tarmacked the gutters too. So streaming water comes along, hits an ill placed lump of tarmac, skips up, over and round it, and tears off bits of the road surface as it does. As it skirmishes down the edge, it shreds the tarmac more, creating entire bays and peninsulas. Eventually it gets back down to exposed cobbles, and serrates the tarmac overhanging those too.

Which sort of makes you wonder why they tarmacked it in the first place. No doubt someone will complain (actually round here no one seems to complain as no one seems to connect outside to themselves) and the council will come along to smooth out the rough edges, probably by dumping another load of tarmac in the gutters. I suppose this indirect method of dumping grit down the sewers is one way of keeping them clean.

But the weather's been odd recently; last night (ok, so on the fourth or "Happy Buggering Off Day"), I was sitting by the window in a constantly strong, warm, damp breeze, and suddenly could smell seaweed, salty wood and tropical soil (and desperately wanted a cheap but very drinkable cocktail). I find it really odd that London can suddenly convince me I'm in Antigua. But then Exeter could transport me back to Tanzania, but that was mostly the viscous smell of hot rubbish, especially fermenting orange peel.

Back to the Tate, and after being bought lunch (wow, you can have my enduring loyalty for £2.95), and the friend comically filching a copy of the Telegraph (instead of grabbing a copy quickly on exit, or even doing it slowly and ostentatiously, she picked it up and perused, pretending to read article after article, then when ready to depart, she started to put it down, looked all around her to check who was looking, and then folded it and walked out. Such is Christian theft. I hadn't the heart to tell her I thought people normally walked out with them and I've never seen anyone stopped. Why spoil her elation from being so illicit? Admittedly the big display downstairs declaring "Please take one - Free" possibly might have done that but she had at least forty five seconds of rebellious delight).

Then back out into the heat, and down the tube, with both heading north, but she branched off at Vix. Oh, and to the guy who shall not be named, those odd tidal barriers outside the station aren't tidal. It should have occurred to me earlier, but they're less ugly than the things strung round Westminster and Grosvenor Square. They're to stop people charging the concourse in a Volvo full of Semtex, and as I discovered at the Word into Art thing at the British Museum, it wouldn't be a first for Volvo. Someone did a series of works based on the cars used as bombs in Lebanon. Somehow the idea of blowing up a Volvo estate seems so wrong. It's like bombing a sundial. And I've just remembered that Polo ad.

Then onto shopping, which started off as looking for a birthday present, but while I'm by H&M I may as well see what they've got. I went in intending to buy two shirts; one a checked thing that they've been plugging heavily (page 13 of the catalogue [buried in downloads on the UK site]) and the other a half-buttoned, thin cotton, red, pink and white stripey. I go to discover that they've moved the pride of place display, and the first shirt isn't in the shop. And suddenly the second seems too louche for this gawky, nervous and hesitant guy. I had one of those "but it's pink" moments, which is daft as I look good in pink (well, if tanned and not trying to hide). Anyway, every medium was appalling made (it's H&M so one expects this, and therefore sifts until one finds the only one where the pattern matches and the stitching isn't crooked). So I browse, scanning the reduced stuff. Oooh, they have linen trousers for £9.99! Ok, so they're red, but I quite like red, although the nearest I've had to them were a pair of red shorts when I was 14, which I only liked because they weren't the even brighter turquoise ones. But I quite like the idea, if only because of one of the guys in Jump London, which I suspect is more to do with wanting a body like that, which can do that, than because he wore red trousers.

I lift what purports to be a 32 off the rack. The labelled declares them to be loose cut. The trousers crumple on the ground. Right so too long, very red, and cut like cullottes. Can't think why these haven't sold then. Plus the loose fit worries me as normal fit in a flowing material can add an extra swish to my walk, exposing un-rugbied thighs and un-hilled calves (my lower legs need me to move back to Exeter). So put my legs in loose fit trousers and it'll be a bit like a running main snagging on a shroud. Perhaps not.

So what else? They've got stripey polo shirts reduced, but two of the three have navy collars (what's the point in having colours that suit me if I then put the colour of instant death warmed up next to my skin?) and I'm not convinced by the remainder. They've got some not reduced though, and they appeal, in a mid-eighties Clothkits way. Brown, brick red or yellow? I don't like the green on the red (which became a vile colour the moment I moved it into a different light), the brown is too uninspired, too dull, too, well, me. It's the one I'd pick if I weren't thinking about it.

So I hunt the yellows for one which isn't lopsided (you'd think if there are horizontal stripes that would make it easy have the shoulders the same height). So after trading off various flaws (shoulders, collar, buttons, hem) against each other, I buy one in yellow, with red and brown stripes. Of course by the time I get it home it's darkened to a chromium orange (yep, I was tired, yes, I forgotten to walk to the small pool of daylight on the stairs). And that was about it for shopping, as I got a nosebleed while cutting through BHS (empty on a Saturday), so rushed for John Lewis's loos, where I had some odd guy noticing me staring intently at my reflection in the mirror make some comment about "you're good looking, but you're not that good looking", which confused the hell out of me until I saw his face change when he saw the bloodied tissue. London is odd.

Anyway, as I really went out to buy jeans and shorts, the trip wasn't quite the success it might have been. And I still haven't worn the polo shirt, which I've just realised is remarkably like the colours of my first school (not my first-school, the nursery attached to a different school).

Then after shopping came coming back, emailing, blog-commenting and reading news, then realising I've left it too late to go to sleep before going out, grabbing food and heading off, somewhat late for a friend's party. I was working on it taking half an hour. said nearer one and a quarter. I didn't leave till after I was meant to be there. I was only an hour and a half late and that includes being diverted to a bar not her flat, having problems getting in (it had a guestlist for each table. I stupidly said short-name-surname rather than longer-name-only. As I got turned away the friend rang, having seen me trying to get in. Despite being on the guestlist, I still had to pay [grumble number one, but this numbering system may break down as there are too many]).

I go in, am surprised to be met various people from school, who I haven't seen since, well, the first Christmas of uni at least. Of course, I'm too whacked to be enthusiastic and coherent, which was nice, especially as the music's so loud I can't hear a single word. Yeah... Cool... Ok...

It didn't help the normal one had a girlfriend in tow, who made no attempt at communication, which made that corner a little bundle of joy. The birthday girl spent most of time pretending it was great fun and utterly fabulous, including the floor apparently made entirely of limpets, which enforced a rule of hips-up dancing, while impatiently twiddling her phone waiting for her boyfriend to explain being three hours late (obviously he'd been tipped off that we were staggering our arrivals every 45 minutes). And then we left, to head on to somewhere even more expensive, as I discovered the delights of H&M trousers (the drawstring broke for about the eighth time), as we discuss the magic of an Archimedes screw, due to not being able to remember what an artesian well is (I've looked it up now).

And then another hour of expensive boredom, complete with noting why bathing people in UV light is a bad idea. Yes, anything white glows (including that unfortunate white bra under a dark top, which gave her a touch of Pompidou), but off white things go offer white, which when it's teeth... green is not a good colour for enamel. And skin really doesn't need examination in UV. You know that skin cancer advert they had with the tanned models? Well, now imagine a roomful of people all looking at best 30 years older, but often looking outright like recovering burns victims. Just what I want to see.

It was so dire that a friend and I ended up sitting against the perimeter wall (yet more mirrors behind me), trying to talk and occasionally mongoosing to try and keep track of birthday girl, who had ditched us the moment her current boyfriend turned up.

It's somewhat telling that the most interesting part of the night, and most enjoyable part, was standing around talking while debating who's staying where and suitable bus routes to respective homes (and I'd never noticed before that the night timetable is simply based on halved daytime travel times). The least enjoyable was having someone point out it's ten years since we left, before telling us how many children each of the school bullies has had so far.

And that's about for interesting stuff. I'll save the spending too much on little silvered discs for some other time.

And I've just noticed while looking up stuff. In my copy of the A-Z, one road in NW6 is labelled "CLEVE R.", yet nearby roads are labelled "XXX RD.". Sorry, just noticed it, and thought it was odd. The other Cleve Road, near Sidcup, is shown as a Rd as well, and in the index both are Rd. None of the common mapping sites repeat this quirk.

Sorry, just one of those little random distractions.

Anyway, I'd better go and do some washing, to get rid of the smell which contradicts one of Saturday's assertions by the birthday girl, which was that since smoking is now going to be banned, now no one smokes in a bar despite the legislation not yet being in force. But at the time she said it, it was true; a bar packed with people, and no one smoking. Ok, so it could have been the type of place, time of day and area, but it was odd, in a pleasant, if eerie, way.


PS. Stripey or stripy? Both are about the same in terms of frequency according to Google, and I can read "stripey" as having stripes, whereas "stripy" means it has strips. But what about queueing? Queuing, as MS Word corrects it looks wrong, I suppose because what's the point of strimming one excess vowel then most of the word is them? And it doesn't avoid the awkward two vowels thing which is the usual reason for dropping the final e (ok, so normally the final e elongates the preceding vowel, a function the i can take, but does the final e in queue do that? Or is it simply there because words ending in u aren't naturally occurring in English*). And one third of Google's found sites use the e form, so it's hardly a minor fraction.

* Menu, parvenu and deja-vu. Any others?

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