Saturday, August 26, 2006

GF4 600 - Brighton - 26Hmm, let's play a little guessing game. Which blogger is most likely to send me the following message at 11.58 on a Saturday night?

I'm in Brighton. Not only have I seen more lesbians in the last 8 hours than in my entire life, this may be the only place in the world too gay for me!

Answers on the back of a postcard to Anyhoo at:
The Any Comments Section,
Hoo Blog Ltd.,
Spotcom Lane,
HT40 4TP

But I can't think of any suitably witty reply, so I'm going to go to bed so I can wake early tomorrow to torment the wandering blogger by painfully early text, as they try work out where exactly they are, and immediately after that wonder where exactly this place called Hove actually is (shortly followed by the first pun; it's almost as easy to do it with as Havant).

Utterly unrelated, but it was what I was looking at the out-gayed text came, here's an old clip from Neighbours with Desnie and Stewane.


Update - the following morning.

Can you tell who it is yet?

I suppose having the message repeated verbatim bar the fleshing out beyond the 140 text limit does rather give it away.

But then he isn't the only one to reuse good memes, as I awkwardly discovered talking to Noname earlier this week. I can't remember what the specifics were, but one problem with bunging near enough everything in here is that one can't bring blogged anecdotes into a conversation with a blogee without fear of being told that one has already told them that. An early speil "I know" can do dreadful things to one's facade of wit. And trying have a wide ranging conversation free of repetition, means the talk becomes like an icephobic* voyage of the Northwest Passage: full of hesitation and deviation. Instead of being the entertaining blogger, one becomes a dulled machine, all backfires and stripped teeth.

* Apparently pagophobia or cryophobia, said he filling the new words quota, although cryo+phobia isn't really new, and probably means fear of freezing or that which is frozen. I can find nothing which suggests the meaning of the prefix 'pago-', only the word as is. Another recent word is bantustan, which seemingly manages to mix continents in its creation, coming from bantu (the South and East Africa language group or native speakers in that group) and stan (Urdu or thereabouts word for land) and is used to mean a gerrymandered land, so one defined by an external authority without much heedance of existing conditions (think dead straight lines drawn across valleys and through towns regardless of affiliation), although it was used to mean purportedly self-governing homelands in apartheid South Africa.

But this wasn't supposed to be a whole new blog post, yet as I'm already typing, I suspect it might be. Friday evening saw a hurried visit to the Kandinsky exhibition at the Tate (hurrah I managed to remember to put both n's in, even if I still call it Kadinsky), which was a bit variable. It needed more time than we gave it, as abstract pictures can slowly evolve into things remarkably unabstract if gazed upon enough. Still no idea what the one with all the birds is about (think it was Black Spot [unfortunately not apparently the death-ticket meaning], and the blurb didn't seemed to have noticed the birds, but I've long since abandoned the idea that art gallery guides discuss what is in front of them).

After that we skimmy-dipping in the Thames. Yes, I did just make up that word, but what should one use to mean 'skimming, without much success'? I didn't help I was trying to teach someone who at best still carries an air of newborn quadruped, and thus had some difficulty with keeping the stone horizontal. And skimming stones into a dark Thames, lit but lights over the river is both quite infuriating and useful, as it means there are frequently stones that vanish into the flickering glare, and thus I can avoid having to stifle annoyance at yet another wasted stone flung by SG (although it's somewhat harder to ignore the obvious "plop!") while not knowing the fate of mine unless they're very good. Give me the sailing club beach with the muffled sounds of an escaped dance behind me, a high moon over the Isle of Wight, itself miraging ahead, or a bed of cloud to carry the glow from the other side of the hill, and it's much, much easier to see (until a fishing boat wrecks my night vision). And the Thames is dire for skimming stones. The entire thing is filled with ugly, misshapen stones, ill worn by the lack of storms. In the end I was hunting out tiles, glowing in the flood of orange light, although I did manage to find a broken chunk of marble counter, which bounced twice before the weight scuppered it.

And are you a discus thrower or a wrist flicker? As I think I managed to take a wrist flicker and leave her halfway in between, which wasn't entirely successful.

So then back, alarming jammed traffic on Waterloo Bridge, through Covent Garden, up into Soho and out again, down some dark alley (not that I was trying to show the timid SG that there's really nothing to be scared of even at quarter past eleven on a Friday night, although I heard definitive whimper at the sight of the crowds as we crossed Old Compton Street. She's an odd girl), and then the bus back. Followed by a realisation of yet another reason why England's nice. Because the weather is unpredictable, because it does rain on Bank Holiday weekends, because you can walk ignoring the spitting remains of the last shower, only to scurry onwards as the next comes, because you can break into a flat out run, outpacing local traffic, and can arrive home bouncing with energy and radiantly moist, enshrined in a hugging dampness that will soon evaporate away, just as the torrent outside will soon pass.

Of this if you're happy and you know it stance could be because it's finally remembered that it is August, and so it's sunny with artistic little white clouds added to alleviate the boredom of an unceasing blue dome (and because from this position I can see very little which isn't tree or sky). It only took a month of leaden skies, followed by last night's shopping, timed for 8, delayed by rain, and then out into the dark, wet and crabby world of a joyless Saturday night, where I managed to have 3 cars studiously overlook zebra crossings, as they obviously though I was a one man Beatles tribute band. The Merc who choose to slalom between people on the crossing did earn a thump as he passed, because I'd had enough and didn't have a large set of keys, spray can or hammer in my hand at the time. And of course he did it just to sit at the queue for the lights 10 yards down the road, where he sat until I overtook him and turned off. I did consider dancing the can-can on his roof, but I wasn't wearing the right trousers. I need to go back to the days with I carried chemistry tomes in a bag with cut sheet steel buckles on it. That was excellent for the badly driven and inconsiderately parked.

Oh, and does anyone know where sells Fructis shampoo or Ecover washing powder? Because one my flatmates has helpfully decided to use the last of my shampoo, so I've run out, although he did kindly fill it back up to the same level with water*, which is somewhat reminiscent to what my uncle did when young[ish] to my grandfather's scotch. My uncle did it because once my grandfather noticed the dropping level, he started making easily overlooked marks on the bottle to show the level. My mother on the other hand used to rub out the mark, drink some, and then redraw it at the new level. It's one way to teach one's children to problem solve.

* I did consider replacing it with either bleach or Immac (but the shampoo is clear in a clear bottle), but I'd not sure it would stay in his hair long enough to have an effect, and anyway, he's not going to use it now he knows it's water.

But the lack of Ecover surprises me, given the area. So instead I opted for Persil's confusing new gel tablet things, because they were on offer, and I couldn't find the old just-tablets tablets, nor anything as archaic as powder, and because Persil is one of the few washing powders not to take my skin off (he said hopefully). So no more will I have an air of eco-er-than-thou* and lingering suggestion of damp clay.

* Snowclone City. Google turns up the following before the search sting gets too long (I've added a few alternative spellings and synonyms, Ghits follow):
Holier than thou 1,280,000
Holyer than thou [sic] 6,910
Hollier than thou [sic as there's no 'ivyer'] 11,200
Niftier than thou 20,100
Geekier than thou 13,800
Geeker than thou 145
Hipper than thou 66,200
Hippier than thou 710
Indier than thou 18,700
Gother than thou 898
Gothier than thou 838
Trendier than thou 15,900
Furrier than thou 212
Heavier than thou 959
Foxholier than thou 747
Nerdier than thou 893
Unholier than thou 562
Mightier than thou 15,200 [Along with 'greater' this benefits from the smitey texts of the Bible, so probably isn't all snowclones]
Cooler than thou 45,900
Coolier than thou 10,800
Countrier than thou 2,810
Thinner than thou 9,570
Skinnier than thou 416
Greener than thou 910
Smarter than thou 14,600
Smartier than thou 387
Lefter than thou 1,460
Leftier than thou 750
Assholier than thou 2,360 [Arseholier ~30]
Blacker than thou 742
Prolier than thou 2,260 [Proler ~37]
Punker than thou 528
Punkier than thou 279
1337er than thou 282
Gayer than thou 1,120
Surlier than thou 21,400
Smarmier than thou 213
Better than thou 47,400 [again some cod-Biblical unsnowcloned results]
Crisper than thou 2,440 [Crispier ~15]
Sweeter than thou 1,960
Crazier than thou 1,170

Plus the high-browier than thou: Shellier than thou and Moliere than thou. There are many more which have less than 100 results, such as sweatier, spunkier, quirkier but this list obviously isn't exhaustive. There's even people using zanier than thou

I'm waiting for some headline writer to come up something on the cult of suicide bombers along the lines of "Matyr than thou", or possibly some pun on the Latin -ia, so "Anglia than thou" for overt anglophiles, or an American to write something on rampant nationalism or statism using something like "India than thou" or "California than thou" (although this wouldn't outside the US, as the rest of the world would want to that to be "Californian than thou", which breaks the pun. "California than thou" has already been coined, but only in spamsite nonsense and the nearby words are 'swaddlingclothes', 'wert' and 'unto').

But this has sprawled into much more than I intended, so better stop.


Friday, August 25, 2006

2005-11-05 Greenwich 052I'm left wondering which of us is Celia Johnson.

Yet another fleeting meeting with Noname (or rather he who wishes to remain nameless, rather than the haunting thing from Spirited Away), once more unto the Wellington*. So a cold then gloriously sunny loiter round the Wellington Sink accompanied by chat and the delight of a rollercase over the cobbles (I even managed severe fishtailing at one point. Woo me), a bit more chat (apparently I shouldn't have apologised for wearing a geekboy shirt [even though it is]), a Flickr preview and that was about it.

*Googlevexed station. Similar word and it does have a wellies link.

Dumping noname back at the station we walked towards a lividly made up, boldly feminine woman. One glance up and I noticed her, recognised familiarity, looked away because if it's someone famous, they'll be used to people who stare, and I don't want to be thought of as a starer (even if I did hound Chris Martin, David Grey and families off Haywards Heath). Ah, got it. Flash eyes back up with a half smile, and she's meeting my eye and smiling back. We walk on by. Once past the staring station staff, I comment to Noname. Cue the by now typical "that was X" conversation said of the receding back of anyone remotely famous I've clocked but the person I'm with hasn't (London tends to have a lot of these; although my brother has the uncanny ability to recognise people from Radio 4), complete with pointing arm, which I imagine, when repeated on a wide scale, must look like iron fillings swinging towards the great magnet of a famous arse.

Realising I've just hemmed myself in by that phrase, and any future reference to the famous is going to echo that comment, and I can't say I noticed what hers was like anyway, because she was wearing a black dress, and it was quite far away by the time we turned, and she's quite small anyway, and I'm still driving round rhetorical cul-de-sacs.

So the famous, unarseally assessed woman, who I passed by coach G of the 11.30 to Bristol Temple Meads on platform 1, who smiled at me, and who has quite nice eyes, was Jenny Eclair. And once again, I fell for the "they seem bigger on television" meme, although that's probably an extension of extrapolating from myself to fill any blank in information, so I tend to assume that everyone else is identical to me, until proven otherwise.

But getting back to the amused eyes, I suspect even if she wasn't famous she'd probably be the type of person to make eye contact with strangers; to flirt everso slightly simply because she can.

In other news I've deftly scuppered SG's life for the foreseeable future. I lent her Brideshead Revisited. I think infatuation is the best word for it. Yet she retaliated by sending me a link to a site containing every single episode of the OC ever, but I haven't dared use it yet, as it's all in Chinese (why did we used to refer to the incomprehensible as Double-Dutch or Greek? Any language where water is shown by three radiating lines, like rays from the sun, and the addition of which completely changes to sound of the word surely deserves that accolade) and I'm not sure I actually want to choose to watch them all. Watch it while it's on, and there's nothing better to watch or to do, and that's fine. Methodically download each, knowing that there's gallons more still to come, and suddenly it seems like an awfully big commitment, especially for what SG called 'fastfood television'.

Instead I just end up watching clips of Whose Line Is It Anyway? on Youtube, while trying to avoid getting any of the US version. I don't know why, but I much prefer Clive Anderson to whoever the American is. Anderson is the host, Anderson is separate by occasionally drawn in; The American sees himself as the star of the show, and must jump in or upstage the whole time. Plus the American audience seems to have been put on a drip of concentrated orange squash and thus is a-whooping and a-hollering at everything, even the dud jokes, the lines that don't work, and the continuity announcements (they did it with UK mix too when it was filmed in America). It's continuous uncritical praise and I find that worrying; there are always exemptions, exceptions, conditions. But this could all be tainted by bias over my response to one clip, where the American version does the truly American thing of bringing on celebrity guest [presumably at the same time as said guest has new book, video, or lean mean killing machine to plug]. Which after the initial 'Huh?' brought forth one thought uppermost in my mind: who the hell is Richard Simmons? A question also asked in the comments for that video. So I ask you, dear loyal readership, who are mostly staunchly not-actually-American, who is he? Does anyone know? I'd guess either a former child actor or a 70s pop star, neither of which really gets me to understanding why he gets to appear in WLIIA.

Speaking of former child stars who I've never heard of, I've got tickets to a show. I actually planned to go to, then went out a bought tickets for something on in a theatre. How bizarre is that?

Admittedly it has got puppets. And songs about porn. So it's not really as grown up as it might be, but it's theatre tickets nonetheless. And we're going on a Saturday, so it's not even the student-laden Tuesday cheapseats. Although I did ask for the cheapest they had, which just so happen to be front row, somewhere near the middle; there might be a case for earplugs and an umbrella. And it's only the matinee (we who have such busy lives could do no other time), so it's not a proper theatre evening, and booking did provide plenty of entertainment at my attempts to say "Saturday matinee".

The worrying thing about it is that even though I've yet to see it, I've youtubed probably most the songs, and have found myself dropping the titles into conversation (eerily they fit rather well).

But as I've finished munching through too many grapes stuffed between slices of oat bread (reduced natch), I'd better stop pretending this is still lunch, and get on with some work. But as Noname commented earlier, there's something delightful in the ever wrongheaded Metro (free morning recycling of the news in the Evening Standard of the night before; like fish and chips, only without anything nice in it) proclaimed the end of summer. So as I came back from my... struggling not use the name of the film... Blithe Spirit, I stood in the hot sun sniffing greengages, but passing them up (they didn't smell) in preference to small, yellowed grapes, and ate them walking back, their chilled sweetness made more tantalising yet by their cheapness.

Ever the miser.


Monday, August 21, 2006

[This post got half written and never finished, and I don't have time to do it now, but if I leave it, it will never get published. The Sin linked blog was the amusing Life in London Town, by someone who also calls the artist Kadinsky, and while I'm doing this I may as well plug the excellent one-liners of Glitter for Brains, who shares the virtue of being beyond the pale of Noname's sidebar]

Continuing the Sin-pillaging, while actually finding it on a sidebar of a sidebar, yet another blog which held my attention slightly longer than usual.

Update: 22nd August 20.08. I've just been told off by my flatmate for slamming the door, because he's trying to sleep. Firstly, I did no such thing (he even demonstrated what slamming the door was, in case I was unsure. I suppressed the "You call that a...?" response). B. (I know, but I'm annoyed) he knows my name so why does he address me "Hey... hey-hey... oi"? And it's not a friendly hey, it's a "[full name over-enunciated] come here now" hey 3. It's eight o'clock in the evening. It's still light, there's children making noise outside, planes cavorting overhead, and surreally a conversation between two balconies going on outside. No doubt he'll soon be round to complain about the sound of my typing. If only I hadn't outgrown my vengeful Skunk Anasie at minor structural damage levels phase.

This happens to be Roster-boy, whose first comments where about the cleaning schedule, complete with those little checksheets hung on the door like a loo in a Little Chef. Considering he described his job as something to do with public health (hence the OCD tendencies, and dumping Harpic down the loo at 7 in the evening, because no one ever needs to use the loo when they get home; guess who bought the Harpic and thus is not keen on those who use it anything less than frugally), I'd be a great deal happier if he could learn that fridges work a damn sight better if one actually shuts the door. If even the Peruvian Lurch is complaining, it must be happening quite a lot.

So I apparently slam doors too much, whereas he hasn't yet learnt to shut them. Oh to be immature.

Yes, I am annoyed he had the gall to complain about me, especially when I've had to resort to leaving notes again. By the time I leave this place, I'm never going to need to write another note as I can just recycle them. Well, I've got polite suggestions covering errant urine [complete with a reply], bunged and leaking drains, and now ajar fridges.

Ok, so it's the fact I've had to resort to writing notes, which just seems hideously Snellish, which annoys me. It says my ability to communicate with the people I live with is so poor that only folded bits of A4 are effective. I hate the fact I can't just chat*, I can't just drop it in, and that they're not self aware enough to not need the comment anyway.

* I tried it with Lurch. One conversation didn't go anywhere. The other lead to a sit in on Peruvian Politics, said at Ent pace. Usually I like being informed, however there are some subjects which go too far, and

Saturday, August 19, 2006

GF9 600 - 19I fear I may be too well known. I've just received a text from a friend inviting me out tonight. It appears below, with only minor Googlevexing measures.

Hey. Would you like to come out for dinner in old maiden for korean tonight? centre of korean cuisined [sic] in uk apparently. Also cheap.

Why do I get the impression that the last sentence was added especially for me?

Pity I can't go.

Little other news, mostly dictionary related. It started off in discussion with SG about the English and English (apparently I'm patriotic, which is a word I normally blench* at, on the grounds that I'm English and we're above that sort of thing), somehow got on 'bunking off' and 'cadging', which then got into the difference between G and J, followed by desperately trying to find what words have 'dj' in them. The only dj- I found which isn't a proper noun is 'djinni', meaning a spirit that can take on animal form and hold power over humans.

* Dictionary Corner fun: I'd always thought that the word meaning 'to shy away from' was 'blanch'. I discovered that's not. With an e it means that, but with an a it means the other meanings of blanch, so to whiten, bleach, pale or the process of removing skin from tomatoes (and fingers) by using boiling water. So one can both blanch and blench in the face of something.

Most pointless new word has to be 'birl/burl', which is Scots for 'a try', and used in 'give it a burl', and thus is identical to one meaning of 'whirl'. Although 'birl' is also defined as 'to cause a floating log to spin by using the feet'. Hurrah, there's actually a word for that favourite of cartoons. Does that mean that people also regularly get 'Acmed', and so have large weights and anvils descending upon them from a great height?

Close second for most pointless recently-learnt word has to be 'bergschrund', which is a crack or crevasse near the top of a glacier, formed as the glacier splits while sliding downhill (as distinct from a randkluft or rimaye, where the ice is rent from rock).

All of which I think I'll deftily slip into my new favourite snowclone "X is all bosh, isn't it?", from Brideshead, where it is asked of Modern Art, the reply being an eminently quotable "Great bosh".

But I think that is quite enough b's for the time being, especially as I'm annoyed after reading that betwixt is "Arch."


Thursday, August 17, 2006

IMG_1470Hmm, the Blogger/Google thing appears to have fixed itself, although now I'm permanently logged in to Blogger.

Anyway, in an event to bump the rant down the page, I ought to find other things to discuss. Firstly comes something I've only just found, and which is so, so true* (found by a wander from Sin to My Sol to Bitch Ph.D).

* I meant the last line, and perhaps not all the time, but, well, some people have, er, lacked finesse. And I just realised I was about to add more information, before remembering I don't have that type of blog.

But moving on... there's a few more pics on Flickr, but not many, and none truly great (although they are more edited than the last batch).

I've finally watched the last episode of Brideshead Revisited. Very, very good, and I think I see why little CU recommended it, although I'll studiously ignore her inference. I'm not sure I've ever been aware of someone acting with their hands before. Jeremy Irons somehow manages to make the young Charles look gawky and gangly by his hands alone. They betray his age yet act well.

But there are so many details in it; for example, the shoes in the final episode. Flat, bootish and brown for the frump of a failed nun, painfully high purple suede monstrosities for the foreign mistress, and simple, neat and elegant tweed-matching heels for the leading lady.

Sorry, saying it has good shoes doesn't really do it all justice. But it's not bad for an unseen impulse buy.

And I really have very little more to add, as the other points of interest in my life have been my mother ringing me many more times today (her voice is strangely soporific; it doesn't lull one to sleep, merely make one yearn to stop being) and going and getting a haircut, which was rather more soporific, to an embarrassing extent.


PS. According to IMDB there's a film version of Brideshead looming. I dread to think. Apparently it's to star Jude Law in version devoid of Catholicism (er, was that not the central theme then?).
PPS. The Granada version makes more sense when one discovers that the actors for Sebastian and Charles swapped roles, hence the odd casting.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

2005-08-24 020OH FUCK OFF!

Sorry, but that's my response to typing, typing my blogger username and password only to be refused access on the grounds that I'm already logged in under my Google account, and to use Blogger I must first shut down anything related to Google. Which is really fucking annoying. I'm sure I can't be the only person to have a Blogger account in a pseudonym, but a Gmail (and Google Calendar) account in my real name. And now after - what? - years of dual use, suddenly I'm told I can't have both open at once.

And because the password's saved in Firefox, it took me a bloody age to remember it, all the while fervently hoping Mountain View is struck by an earthquake, wildfire, plague of plastic surgeons or whatever other disasters typically befall bits of California no-one can quite place. It is in California, right?

It's as bad as Amazon wishlists promising to only put your town and country on public display, yet also managing to display the delivery name. So to those who suggested I might like to do that for my birthday this is why no list has been forthcoming. And of course I'm grossly indecisive, so could never decide what I want, and having been raised on decades (bugger, that's a plural) of disappointing presents*, the idea of actually asking for something you want and getting it seems rampantly materialistic, and not a little unlikely.

*Oh my, a wind up torch with built in radio (and which unfailingly lasts for less than 3 minutes); how resourceful. My mother just threatened to buy me a 3/4 length auto-inflating camping mattress (I imagine you have to throw it overboard to inflate it), while then listing how she could never bear to sleep with her legs lower than her body and various other reasons why she would never want one herself. As futilely pointless goes, that has to be up there with those pass-the-parcelled New Zealand luridly-Eighties-patterned scarf-hat things (my brother at least put effort into losing his, although like the cat, it always came back the very next day. I simply let mine languish in the parental home ever since, never quite disliking anyone I'm obliged to give presents to enough to pass it on, and never quite daring to ship it off to a jumble sale, where it'd probably be classed as a tea cosy or an assault course for hamsters). However I think the slightly acidic comment about 3/4 length sons probably suggested it wouldn't be entirely welcome.

This one-account-to-rule-them-all is precisely the sort of utter shit that alienated me from the great MSN behemoth (and thus I use it purely for a spam-laden registration account, which predates MSN, and as a low-traffic blogging account). It's this idea that one can have the same identity for home, work and porn, and that one should only ever have one identity, thus account. How thick are they, or how thick do they think we are?

Sorry, getting a wee bit wrathful, as I was happily enjoying watching a DVD of Brideshead Revisited (recommended by a very CU friend, and I know wonder what she was trying to suggest), and was quarter of an hour into the final episode, at 11 o'clock, when my mother rang, for the second time this evening. My mother has never been one for checking if it is alright to talk. She'd also rung me the evening before, when I explained I was in the middle of a group and couldn't really talk, upon which news she ranted for at least quarter of an hour, luckily most of which was completely unintelligible against the background noise. But still I didn't like it, as I could feel my face contracting into hateful expressions, which remind me so much of my mother and my aunt (betwixt whom is a merry war of words, only with out the merry or the happy ending. I can never decide if they wear glasses of jade or brimstone. Decades of mistrust warping life into evil deeds) and which are all thoroughly unflattering faces to pull in public.

Not content with boiling up feelings of depression and rage while encircled by friends, she rung twice this morning as well, although coward that I am I remembered I had more pressing commitments, and thus ignored the ringing phone. She always bloody rings and it's never positive. She is one the most destructive people I know. My brother commented in passing today, after apologising to me for not making contact since a meal weeks ago, which he described by my mother's comment to his girlfriend during it (my mother still has not forgiven my brother for letting our aunt meet his girlfriend before our mother), in which she said [but I was stuck at the other end of the table, so could not hear] "I gather you met my sister on a good day", which fortunately potential in-law didn't have a chance to reply to.

So my mother is a little bundle of happiness and well being. And thus I was delighted to interrupt my sojourn in an erudite if ill-fated world to hear her bemoan the failings of her computer. It didn't help that within five minutes of the start of the call, the gin and tonic I'd been nursing (it had been a long day, and besides, it's quite unfair to watch people drinking continuously with nothing for oneself. One could probably make a jolly good drinking game out of Brideshead; Withnail rules, but with better pacing) was all quite gone, and I was readily become aware that should this call continue, I may well need another, which I poured somewhat sloppily single-handed. Well, it is gin and tonic, which sort of suggests the former is greater than the latter.

And that took about as long to drink as it did to pour. I'm not sure it made me cope with her problems any they better, but it did lower the compunction I felt at cutting her off mid-rant simply to see if she'd notice or care, and rather hoping she might take it that fate gave her a hint.

No such luck. 3 minutes and 47 seconds it took for her to call back, and for me to make reference to earlier [invented] 'network busy' messages. So it took her nearly four minutes to notice I wasn't there.

Of highlights included going to brush my teeth while leaving the phone on the table, dropping it on the floor about three times as I dozed off, trying the age old trick of moving stuff round in the kitchen and managing to put it down atop the radiator with slightly to much of a clang. Oh, to live in flat with poor mobile reception. If ever my brother wants to avoid speaking to someone, he just has to start cooking, or even just get some water. I know people who only have a cocked hat a few inches long providing the only reception their flat gets. But here, with its views of the city, the signal is far too dependable, so I have to feign absent mindedness for not turning my phone on or not answering it (Oh, the battery must have gone flat without me hearing it again/oh, I put on silent for something earlier, and must have forgotten to take it off again).

It's so pointless though. She doesn't actually want to talk to me, only to have someone confirm whatever it is she's saying, which when it's computers isn't a given. Actually when it's anything it isn't a given, but it's a brave man who dares correct my mother.

But todays latest call wasn't helped by her tendency to use words like "overwrite" when she means 'refresh'. When she refused to stop being so silly and started whining that Windows Help doesn't, I gave up. It's like dealing with a toddler. Either ignore them, tell them to stop it (and mean it) or turn round and slap them. None of which one really can do with a fifty something woman who won't actually listen and who won't go away. If only I could send her into the hall (our house's equivalent of the naughty step, only with about three glass dominated walls; my mother obviously relied on my innate I'm-not-that-naughty sense to stop me shattering them. I did once blow out the bathroom window by slamming the door, but it was already cracked. Seeing the night get a lot blacker with a crash is a good way of ending a row between siblings. And why is it that there are certain sounds and smells, like crockery or glass breaking, metak grinding or the smoke of a burnt building, which invariably make one wince. There's a raw pain to them, almost as if one can sense the expense).

So after I gave up on less direct hints, I suggested doing a couple of things and going to bed, she agreed and then berated me for over ten minutes not having a land line, when that isn't a choice in this building (there are, but the building owners did some dodgy deal with some company, so they cost a bomb to ring in or out on, and no one here knows their phone number, as the ones written by the phone ring somewhere completely random) before reverting back to the computer, at which point I just decided to treat it as if it were the end of the conversation, running half the winding down talk and the goodbyes, and then hanging up.

Now all I need to do is find out which muppet of a housemate has decided that nicking lightbulbs from the kitchen is a good idea (I suppose it stops us cooking too late). The building manager doles them out with gay abandon if you ask nicely, so I really don't see why they did. And I am a bit annoyed as it was one of the energy saving ones I bought (after the standard incandescent things kept burning out within a week; I'm sure there's some underlying electrical fault, but I simply cannot be bothered to worry). Oh yes, forgot to mention, yet another new flatmate, which shocked me rather, as they previous guy had left his stuff all round the flat so I thought he was on holiday (I took long enough to notice even that, as he was worryingly quiet and rodently shy).

I had prayed for someone not quite so inept as the previous guys. My prayers were answered, rather more than I might have wished. Newbie #893's first words to me were asking about the cleaning rota for the flat, the budgeting system for acquiring shared products (er, in which column do I enter liberated loo paper?) and so on. Henceforth I am breeding a select strain of Salmonella to smear on his door handle and wipe the smug idiot out.

It's not like I haven't been trying, but there's only so much drudgery I'll take before I leave it for the others to do and therefore end up waiting to see how long it takes them to notice. Apparently forever, but then I have only just got one toilet trained (I think he must squat on the loo seat, as that's the only way that set of trajectories is physically possible, even accounting for it being malicious). This is the same flatmate who will soon die of heart disease, judging by his fry-heavy meals, although he does usually chuck most of the fat down the drain (after about a week of mouldering), even if the drain is blocked and backing up into the bath.

You'd never think an engineer could be quite that thick. If there's one thing that living in London has taught me, it's that there's so much one cannot hope to expect. I can expect the Spanish inquisition, and probably cope with that too; I did not however expect, and cannot apparently overcome, the result of Spanish colonialism (read 'bloody people who expect to have maids to do everything and have yet to notice I am not their personal servant').

Hmm, I haven't had a proper incoherent rant in ages. Blame Brideshead. Ok don't, but I have to shoehorn in the warning that watching Brideshead Revisited may seriously damage your social life. Not only are the endless debates over whether to catch up with real people or fictional characters, and the time taken to do the latter, but also it the damage it cane do due to being roundly mocked by one's friend. You know that clip of Line of Beauty they used in which Catherine complains she simply cannot stand that "aw" sound... I might slightly have fallen pray in similar sentiments in others.

Merely because I happened to manage to make 'forgot' rhyme with 'ought' is no reason to mock me. Perhaps it wasn't helped by saying one sentence before "I thought you abhorred things of that sort", with all three o's slightly aw'd.

It's quite odd how voices can pick up traces of accents so easily, although in my case it's probably that most speech heard in recent weeks has come from Jeremy Irons and co. At least I'm not currently suffering an OC habit, unlike one friend who has been getting more West Coast over the past month.

Anyway, very late, and I want to check email, so I'll have to log out of this.


PS. Good Luck Az.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

This post is purely to break my YouTube-inity, as I appear to the only blogger in existence without embedded videos, although I also seem to be one of the few in London who hasn't been to a Madonna concert and thus gets to reply to texts with "Yours jealously".

Long tailing it as usual, and blatantly liberated from a random on Sin's sidebar.

And that better be it, as I'll only start ranting about yet another new flatmate, whose third sentence to me asked if the word was rota or roster, and who thought that cleaning the whole flat every three days should be sufficient, but if necessary we could do it more often. Good luck with that, and with getting the message across to Mr Piss-Poor [-Aim].

Ought I be worried that I didn't know the previous flatmate had moved out (well, it's August, and he's left his stuff in the kitchen, so I thought he was on holiday)? Alarmingly, that's yet another flatmate who has moved out and left a pair of shoes sitting in the hall.

Anyway, bed beckons, so I shall bid you good night, while trying to get Dan's Avenue Q song out of my head (and having bizarre Discworld based thoughts; guess the connection).


Saturday, August 12, 2006

2005-12-30 009I think Radio 4 must do it on purpose.

While making lunch, I stuck on the radio more out of loneliness than out of a compelling desire to listen to anything. I happened to get the end of Any Questions. I wasn't really listening and thus have no idea how they ended discussing immigration in terms of its impact on cricket.

So as BBC News attempts to link in with Murdoched popular feeling while working to the mantra "do let's not be beastly", the Daily [Insert Name Here]s scream of rape and pillage, and the other side are piously doing their Hail Browns as they welcome their brethren, Radio 4 considers cricket.

I suspect I wouldn't object so much if only I understood what they were talking about (in either sphere). Or perhaps it is just the uncharitable exposure of my general lack of rigorously defined and defended views on the subject which irks. Can one be immigrationally agnostic?

And what's with the weather? It's like being on holiday in the Lake District.

Which my family did once. And only once. My memories of that trip are the jumper I wore constantly, kite-flying, playing snap and bloody minded sheep. I think it came as a shock to my parents to discover that there are parts of England which are always cold, wet, windy and endlessly grey.

We stayed in the University of Lancaster's accommodation, let out over summer. I don't remember much of the place except the spartan light and the perpetual drone from the windows leaking wind. And being able to take a kite for a walk on the sports fields. I've never been anywhere where launching a kite, and keeping it up, was so easy. It even flew when the dowels fell out.

It's not a complete coincidence that I ended up at one of the most southerly universities in the country. Birmingham was about the far extent of the range I was willing to consider, especially after my brother's comment after visiting Durham a few years earlier had been "I didn't know the country was so long". But then I realised when discussing with other people where I'd like to live (if I stay in the country, but not in London) that I'm happiest where the roads begin with a 3.

Of course all this is simply because I resent not being able to wear shorts continually. The kitchen window was only shut after the mint was found tumbleweeding across the floor. It had been open since June, as testified by the rain spattered dirt on the lower half (if glass is any indicator, London is a city built of dust). But then it was a little bit cool in there most of time, even when cooking. But I'm obviously English, and so expectation is a greater creed than actuality. Hence t-shirt, shorts, deck shoes and a belated hooded top because the air, while not what one normally heroically terms 'bracing', is not quite sufficiently warm.

Bracing, incidentally, is what we used to describe conditions in an unheated stone barn somewhere in the Brecon Beacons, during a [winter/spring/Hilary/Lent] half-term Scout camp. To wash, one first walked to the external block, then broke the seal that had formed on the taps and after that shrieked a lot. One of our group managed to end up with a curious dashed red crescent beneath his lower lip, as he bit to try and lessen the pain elsewhere.

And I've just remembered the frozen former station half buried in a hill somewhere in the Peak District, where the water from our breath glazed the walls after a week. Fortunately I missed the year they stayed in tents and continual sleet flooded them out. Apparently building defensive earthworks is fun when one is uncomfortably numb.

Now if you will excuse me, I'm off to bolster Cadbury's savaged share price.


Thursday, August 10, 2006

CF10 600 - Infrared 24 Scrouge of the Inland Waterways"... it was a part of pride with Englishmen to hug solitude; ourselves finding ourselves to be remarkable, when there was no competition present."

Perhaps I won't abandon Lawrence halfway across Arabia after all.

Admittedly, giving up halfway isn't exactly my style, but just as the going becomes as tiresome as deep sand, he discards casually a line like that.

You can read the whole thing on The quote's from Chapter 45, and you'll probably beat me to the end.

In other news, remarkably little has happened. I think I forgot to rant the other day about DVDs, especially boxsets where each disc comes not only with a non-skippable "Not for oil rigs" copyright warning (which usually, oddly, warns me that the FBI will come after me; you'll have to find the country first. Hint: it's not the one between Maine and Vermont), but they increasingly seem to be plagued by some "You wouldn't steal a..." trailer, which is all punchy sound, jolting imagery and a jumping typeface; the latter clearly cribbed from the X Files. And the bloody thing is there, with its message designed for even the American hard-of-thinking, every time one tries to play the DVD. And it can't be skipped.

All of which only encourages me to actually bother to learn how to break encoding and copy the many DVDs I own, if only to get rid of the sodding "Piracy is stealing. Stealing is against the law. Home taping is killing music" message. Either that or go and have a quiet word with someone I know who has a thoroughly illegal collection of every OC ever, and ask for a copy of those, simply to spite the stupid, mindless, arrogant studios (yes, I know it might not damage the profits of the right company, but they ought to self police better; if one media company does something that alienates consumers, then the others ought at least have a quiet word).

Although if I did that then I might have to watch the thing, and I'm not sure whether the Chinese subtitles (hey, it's one way to learn Hanzi) or the High Schooler who has more of a beard than I'm ever likely to (and why do Americans have thick necks?) would be the more annoying.

Which brings me to ad synchronicity. Seen the other day in some forgotten tube station where two neighbouring adverts. One for Greene King IPA, another for O2. One features a vivid green sports pitch bounded by trees, beneath a near cloudless sky. The other features the same, but this time with goalposts. Having commented on it (which reminds me, I was assailed by a group of girls advertising property the other day, simply because I wore yellow*. Very odd), I was walking with a friend when we passed a bus shelter. An advertisement on one side for Foster's or XXXX or - Carling's not Australian, is it? - some Australian beer, featuring winter-clothed desert animal (snake in scarf, tarantula in glove - are tarantulas desert animals? - and there's another one, but I can't remember it now) against a red dust and rocks desert landscape beneath a cloudless sky (it might have had a white sun for good measure, but I wasn't paying that much attention). On the other side was a poster for a Ford Focus, with air conditioning, and so sitting in the middle of a red dust and rocks landscape to emphasise the external heat.

* It was on tube platform, hence the connection.

I just thought it was odd, and somewhat depressing, that the imagery of the adverts is so formulaic, regardless of what it is they are selling.

The connection between DVD piracy and adverts being that I inadvertently came up with "You wouldn't steal a XXXX". Now all I need to do is to find a client for the slogan "the future's got to be a better way" and I'll be able to retire. Or something. Look, you can't expect coherency at this time of night.

Anyway, running on from Americans with silly names (Tate Donovan? So was he born in front of a Turner? Or conceived there?), and desperately trying not to get into the conspiracy which must underlie Jim-from-Neighbours's career (Neighbours, ER, The X Files, 24, Lost and The OC. He's one bit part in Alias away from world domination. What's the betting he turns up in Bond film soon?), someone earlier came by here through searching for 'Xiphisternum' (Google, being Google, now denies this is possible, although it does shove you towards my Flickr account). They came on a computer branded "Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak", which one hopes is a firm of lawyers, or else I've just been told by mistake that a consignment of heroin/nukes/Ukrainians has made it though customs.

But 'Smoak'? I've heard of keeping up with the Joneses, but that seems to be trying to out-do the Smythes.


PS. Oh, I've just remembered, the main post of this post was (slight copy and paste from email):
Oooh, oooh, oooh! My sensitive plant [Mimosa something or other] seeds which I sowed months ago have finally sprouted. They're growing quite quickly, as couple of days ago the cotyledons came up, and now the two surviving (of three) seedlings both have one leaf cluster of 3 pairs each, and signs of another budding. And one of them just reacted to being touched by folding the leafs together (I only tested one as they're young and I don't know how much energy they need to react). But how cool is that? A plant which reacts to touch? And it's been slowly reopening as I write. I'm so going to have to be good to resist constantly touching it every time it reopens.

[Apparently they also close down for the night - even later, and the seedleaves have too - to quote an Azism, tres funky].


PPS. Following up the infuriating "You wouldn't steal a movie" advert, someone else points out the effect it would have on the internet if every site made you sit through a anti-copyright-theft promo before you could look at anything. I imagine one might tire of Wikipedia after the twelfth "You wouldn't steal a car/television/handbag for your homework" ad.

Take it further. Imagine a world in which every product of design would not start until suitable messages had been communicated for a minute. You wouldn't steal a quilt. You wouldn't steal an alarm clock. You wouldn't steal a floor. You wouldn't steal a carpet. You wouldn't steal a door handle. You wouldn't steal a hinge. You wouldn't steal a plumbing system. You wouldn't steal a wardrobe. You wouldn't steal a kitchen. You wouldn't steal a car key. You wouldn't steal a car door. You wouldn't steal a car seat. You wouldn't steal a seatbelt. You wouldn't steal an ignition switch. You wouldn't steal a clutch. You wouldn't steal an internal combustion engine. You wouldn't steal a gearbox. You wouldn't steal a mirror. You wouldn't steal an indicator. You wouldn't steal an accelerator. You wouldn't steal two and half thousand revolutions per minute. You wouldn't steal 2nd gear. You wouldn't steal third. You wouldn't steal a brake pedal. You wouldn't steal a brake cable. You wouldn't steal brake callipers. You... You wouldn't steal a morgue.

Unsurprisingly I can find many people discussing these enforced sections, yet all of them seem to be expressing annoyance, frustration or dismay. Well done, whoever you may be.

You wouldn't steal a minute: we would.

I think I might move to China. At least there it's only dodgy subtitles permanently affixed to everything. And the DVDs'll be cheaper.

PPPS. Anyone else read Blogger's "Scheduled Outage at 4PDT" as "Scheduled Outrage at 4PDT"?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

IMG_1270What's it say about my life that coming home and installing a DVD rewriter, using that to clear disk space and then upgrading both Windows and Office seems like, if not fun, then at least more pleasurable than the alternatives?

And what's it say about me that the front and side of my very dusty computer are still missing?

I still can't believe how disconcertingly easy it was to stick the drive in. Someone could have told me; I've been putting it off for years.

Of course, having put a second DVD drive in now makes the old one sulk (ok, it could be the endless Not-98 problems which afflict half the programmes), which made me just a little worried when one of the new DVDs which came with it (er, by which I mean that while I was spending money with Amazon I might as well...*) became horribly pixellated, and the soundtrack was riven with glottalstops and pops, which made the language only decipherable by subtitles, although a script littered with words like 'jejune' and 'pullulating' scarcely helped.

So how did I fix this? By giving up on the assorted specific DVD frontends and using Real Player instead. It feels like cheating somehow. And it has a dreadful interface. Yet it plays without edit.

So what else has irked, other than beatbopping players? Clicking "Install XP" and then remembering all the features of XP which I don't like about it. This whole dynamic taskbar thing for example. Nothing is ever where you left it, as the windows cluster and rearrange to suit some inner Windows logic. It's like living with a toddler, who thinks it's fun to move things.

The inability of Alt Ctrl Del to actually do anything. To me (and my previous version of Windows) it means stop pretty much everything. To Windows XP it means bring up a menu while letting everything carry on, thus allowing the menu to be overwhelmed by the same problems as are already slaying the system.

The immense wonder that is Windows informing that the entirely of drive C: is system files and thus should not be touched. So where am I supposed to save things? Oh, in My Documents (guess who never trusted that in 98, sticking to conventions I'd used in 3.1, hence folders like the underused C:\_Work. And where do I keep my music? In C:\_Misc\Music of course, although now it's mostly on E:\). And where is My Documents? On the Desktop. Which is where? On the Desktop. What you mean; there's a weird cloud of ether just next to my hard disk which I can save stuff on? So why can't I just save everything in the ether? That way I don't need to buy a hard disk. Gosh, those people at Microsoft are really clever.

And I know all this is just a few years late, but I thought I should probably join that late nineties while I could still do it [relatively] cheaply and legally (more fool me for doing it legally, but I wanted to have someone other than me I could blame when it goes wrong). Even if I did end up buying a version that tried to turn my computer into an SQL server. Which as there's problems in something PHP-based that I'm responsible for, yet have been ignoring for near enough six months...

I must say, it does inspire confidence that the first, and thus most important, feature Windows advertises as it installs itself is something ending "and appealing colors [sic]".

The magnificent ability of Windows to self-replicate is nearly as inspiring. Not only do most menus now feature items Name and Name (1), but some even include Name (2). Plus Windows has driven itself mad by repeating loading autohide bars, and thus flings out sulking insults for every repetition.

Sorry this probably sounds a bit narky, but having Windows play music at me in the middle of night until I woke isn't fun. Neither is the way that irritating startup resource conflict has come back with a vengeance (usually it disappears after a proper crash). And leaving the side off when installing overnight onto a very noisy harddisk probably wasn't a good idea. Should I be concerned that my video card apparently is not compatible? Except the graphics card still works, and the display still seems to work, so I don't actually know what's not working, other than this thing with the yellow warning icon. It's quite bad that Windows can make me this ill-informed and - nonchalant is the wrong word - beyond caring.

Maybe I should actually remember to eat at some point.

* I swear there's a DVD cartel. The day Amazon prices go up, prices do, as do those every other cheap online retailer, and the High Street ones (HMV and Virgin both removed the DVD I was dallying about from the Sale section, with the HMV price doubling, and Virgin matching Amazon's £5 increase. Fortunately I managed to find one still Sale stickered copy wrongly filed in an overlooked HMV off Covent Garden [with stairs and everything: how novel], along with a full priced version so I could check it was only the sticker which made the difference). But as I just realised I paid about the same for 663 minutes of DVD as I did for my earliest DVDs, it probably is a better deal than I think it is. Still shouldn't have spent the money though.

Anyway, have you guessed what the dejejune DVD is yet? I bought a couple more as well; one is as civil as an orange and the other... hasn't arrived yet because it's via Amazon Jersey (ignoring that Jersey's nearer here than the Inverclyde return address on the other package), and the only quote I can think of gives it away instantly. Actually I think one four letter word could. But it's the most recent of any of my DVDs and was in cinemas not that long ago, and thus at £7, it's more expensive than it'll be in the future (how frustrating is it to wander round seeing once expensive films I already own for £3.99?), but then I very nearly bought it the moment it hit DVD.

But enough of films and spending money. In case you hadn't noticed yet, there's some more stuff on Flickr (as there has been for over a week), and some of it I quite like. It includes pictures of Deptford Lifting Bridge, whose name I learnt from another visit to the RA's Summer Exhibition (if you still haven't gone, go. It finishes on the 20th. If you're in London and would like to go for free, email to negotiate), where I noticed yet more. And going after dark definitely changes the mood and effectiveness of the some of the works.

Looking up DLB, and it turns out the art's not so recent. Number 197 in the Large Weston Room, although at £180 plus 30% RA commission it'll be cheaper to buy online. And while in that room, keep an eye out for the high-mounted version of New York, which isn't quite New York. Other thumbnail dents in the margin include my brother's birthday card Colour Sudoku and a tree as envisaged by Marks Barfield and XCO2 [The Beacon].

And I still haven't managed to go round it all (although taking someone knew each time does mean the first rooms get seen a lot, and the Weston Rooms are an exhibition on their own).

While I'm and-another-thing-ing, there's a few blogs I've been meaning to sidebar (and few I ought weed out of the sidebar, but I'm not good with ditching people).
- The superb, if highly infrequent (damn these people who have better things to do with their lives), Do Buddhists Watch Telly?, which usually takes an enlighteningly aesthetic approach.
- Another somewhere in the realm of the erudite blog, this time with comprehensible derivatives (although I must actually read and learn them all), by Matt Walky Talky. The observant might note that both these linger on the sidebars of several others, so there is an air of tautology to it, but most of the decent blogs are found through following the recommendations of other decent bloggers, said he in best non-decent my-sentence-doth-runneth-over style (with one too many -ths?).
- The decidedly curious blog of the Flickring not-our-man-in-Hanover, because he's not in Hanover, and we've already got one and a half German correspondents. Anyway, MQ's Views, illustrate (albeit a bit erratically) yet another variant of manner of life. He also deserves praise for one the most distracting titles of late: Safely arrived in Ouagadougou. He hadn't.

And those were nowhere near effusive enough, yet I'm tired and waning, and trying to remember if I installed various things.

Love or what you will.


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

2006-04-15 121[This post may not be suitable for all audiences, as it contains themes of an adult nature, strong language and mild peril. Ok, maybe not the mild peril, though that would be a great name for a band, but then I know someone who thought starting a band's name with 'Meanwhile' was a good idea. Anyway, if you are easily huffed look away now, as I wrote half of it while drunk on sleep deprivation].

If timeliness is next to Godliness, then I'm about as Godly as I am, er, religious. Yeah, ok, I didn't think that one out, the first words are always the hardest.

So que passe?

My birthday was about par for the course. Not exactly thrilling, but at least I didn't get detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act this year.

And why is below-par in golf good, but in life sub-par bad? According to the first Google result it's because life came first.

So what did I do? Normal stuff, followed by listening to music (which I've covered in a previous post, even if I've yet to post that post), and then wandering up through Hyde Park to inspect the Serpentine Pavilion.

I was thinking hazy late sun, ideal for enhancing the translucent structure. I wasn't thinking weekday evening in summer equals corporate hospitality, so I only saw it from the outside, with a cloud blocking the sun. It's hut made from Corriflute (think back to primary school CDT) and a balloon, and the walls show exactly where the cartons of orange juice are stacked. I think I need to go back on a different day, as I just wasn't impressed.

So then up, across the Serpentine, feeling distinctly unfashionable being one of three people there without a headscarf (and I thought the point of top to toe coverings for women were to stop them encouraging sinful thoughts in men? Because some of them seem to have a way to conceal the body which only accentuates it. Not that this is bad, it's simply the pretence of complying while subverting seems silly. But the whole women sin automatically if men do seems equally silly; it's too much "the sins of the father" [one hopes not literally]). Then onwards through Mayfair and Soho before wilting onto the Northern Line.

The other non-sameness event (other than discovering my assumed meeting up with a friend from uni rather relied on him flying out of the country on the 30th, not the 20th, as he did) was a friend's, birthday party on Saturday. Meet at GA's at 12, go to Common, have picnic, get drunk, repeat as desired. She rang me at half past ten to ask if I could come via Argos and pick up some suitable toys. I say I'll have to check how much cash I've got, but yep, sure, oh and I'm going to be late as I haven't left yet (she lives in Zone 3 on the other side of London; the quickest I've ever done it is by nightbus).

So I finish making her present (I'm out-stubborning her, and it'll take too long to explain, but there was a Weetabix box involved), wrap it in recycled paper (well, it was CD size, and it was the paper Muse came in). Pack, leave, intending to buy stuff half way down.

Emerge in London proper, find nearest cashpoint, discover one's out of order, and the other won't let anyone put their card in the slot. Panic. Remember there's one by Foyles, so hurry, heavily laden towards that. Card in, PIN in, cash with onscreen balance, huh?

Unable to fulfil my request. I try getting £10 out instead of £20. The same. Er, I know I'm sailing close to the edge in terms of remaining money in that account, but I'm not into the overdraft yet (and it is pre-arranged). Have small degree of paranoia, before wondering if the machine has only got fifties, hence not shutting down, but not paying out either. Unfortunately, I'm not in a position to check. So in panic I head off to buy what I can with the remaining money, only to realise that spending my last £2.47 on more food for the party would be silly, as I've already got a couple of tonnes of potatoes and sausages (GA said bring sausages, and the potatoes were intended to be potato salad until I realised I had no time to make it and GA might not think of plates or cutlery. And anyway, I don't need to mention that the sausages were Morrissons' fat-free things reduced).

By this time, not only am I searching for working cash machines (which won't charge me), but for working loo (which won't charge me). It's amazing what isn't on Oxford Street. Ok, so I could have gone to John Lewis's, but I was by Dickens and Jones (closed for refurbishment) and didn't have the time, or the patience, to hurry up Oxford Street on a Saturday bearing food, drink, clothes and sleeping bag.

So instead tube to Vauxhall, then bus, not taking the front seat for once, having learnt that buses are greenhouses, and heading southwest on a summer afternoon is not fun, by which time I realised I should have taken the train as I'm already late (bus is free under my travelcard, train charges completely random fares, but bus is slower). I text GA on the way to say I'm running very late (ok, so it's an hour after I should have been there) and I have no hope of getting various sports equipment from Argos.

Relax, thinking just how tired I am, while watching the world go by, and occasionally watching certain individuals go by a bit too closely (look, it's Clapham Junction, so there's nothing else to do while the crowds and lights conspire to stop traffic for at least ten minutes, and there are some very good looking people round there).

Then off at the other end, cheating for once and taking the bus up the hill (well, now I've figured out that it costs me no more). Walk to flat, read sign with map on door, ring doorbell anyway, realise no-one's still in and that there's nowhere to secrete the key [I know where it is for GA's old home], ring GA, who doesn't answer, walk to nearby field, to the X marked on the map, passing groups picnicking along the way, and checking clothes and body shapes for anything familiar. Get to pond in the middle, ring one of the numbers scribbled on the door.

"Hi, it's [name], [name surname]."
"[something unintelligible, but he is Northern]."
"Yeah, hi, where are you?"
"Under the tree."
The field is ringed in trees.
"Er... which tree?"
"The one by the road."
The field is ringed by roads as well.
"Which road? Look, I'm by the pond, I can see a grey war memorial ahead."
"Yeah, we thought it was you. We can see you"
"Where are you?"
"Opposite the memorial."
"But there's no...oh, ok" said he realising that the group I'd briefly considered as options, but then discarded as the green doesn't look like a GA colour, nor is that really her shape, the other female has grey hair, and neither of the guys look very familiar, but it could be the one I don't recognise is someone I vaguely know, but it can't be because where's GA, where's [I'm going to have to look up blognames; the other part of the Tweeton troika]... oh, yep, that's them, because guy number one is GA's flatmate, but I can't work out who the rest are.
"I think I can see you, you've got a big red bag by you?"
"Er... we might do"
"Ok, bye", I said, aware I was using Orange Pay Through The Nose, which if the bank has blocked my account, I can't top-up.

I walk closer. Flatmate becomes obvious. Grey haired woman turns into flatmate's girlfriend (I thought they'd split up) with blonde highlights in mousy hair. Green t-shirt vest thing is a colleague of GA's who I've met before (I can never remember her name), and the second guy turns out to be a friend of GA's from uni, who I've never met, but I've slept in his bed (he doesn't know). So blognames: the flatmate shall henceforth be known as Herbie (for reasons which will become apparent), his girlfriend shall be MC (Monte Carlo, of course, and yes, I am stumped for inspiration), green t-shirt woman shall be Spid (based on what I sometimes think her name is, when it isn't, although she could equally be called Saturn V), and the shared bed guy shall be WSM (there's a Somerset connection).

So chat for a bit, wondering where anyone I know is, when the others get back from the loo, so I try to work out how I missed them, then discover they went to a pub, not the flat.

Spellchek turns up (so called because at New Year's he was handing out promotional stuff from his business, with spelling mistakes on it) and berates me for not recognising him and walking past him earlier (I think he must have been on his way to the flat as I left it). He's a bit of a odd person and reminds me of a friend at the friend's worst.

So sit, eat, chat, do presents. I get handed a heavy box, which looks about the right size to hold a bottle. From the weight, it's definitely a bottle. But in a box. So what is it then, expensive wine, scotch, what? Open the wrapping, and it's a black white cardboard box with a handwritten scrawl on top.

"Does that say 'cheap'?", I ask GA as she looks embarrassed and smiles sheepishly. I see.

I start to open it when I notice the small sticker on the side.

"Does that say 'candles'?" I ask once more, as she looks exactly the same. I'm not sure I do see.

Opening it (is the Narnia branded Christmas wrapping paper I see before me? And it's upside for the present), it's a bottle of champagne, with a vintage label that's too perfect. It's a candle made to look like a bottle of alcohol. I suppress [I still can't remember the blogname, and I give up trying to find it as Blogger won't search for "GA", although I have discovered I never blogged Dan, anyway, her]'s finely honed "Oh, you shouldn't have" which leaves no doubt that it should be taken literally. In the end I think I settled for "Er, thank you, oh, so 'cheap' is 'champ'. It's only 12%. Anyway, open yours."

And I did say if she couldn't think what to get me then a decent book would do. Decent book, or bottle which doesn't even have any alcohol in it, which would you prefer?

So then it was her present, with me apologising for the recycled wrapping, and then not for what was inside. I'd mocked up something CD shaped with an outer sleeve proclaiming it to be The [My Name]'s latest album, I'm withholding all presents [until you answer the bloody question]. It was so titled because I'd earlier asked what she wanted, she'd replied with 3 options (one so dull as to be insulting [which her parents gave her, although she didn't tell me, so she could have ended up with two]), the other alcoholic and the third a book on something specific. So I was going for the book, but wanted to check specifics with her before buying (it was quite expensive for what it was). I tried to check and she said she was withholding all answers until I said what I wanted, when I'd already said...

As for me, I've no idea. Either something I can [No Name Third Person's name used as a verb meaning to dispose of rapidly, possibly by exchange] easily or a decent book on something I probably ought to know. But as I said, I've no idea.
Which as I was getting her a decent book on something we both probably ought to know... I mean it's not that hard. I know I diluted it with no-ideas but that's just the result of being brought up under the rule that "I want doesn't get" (which I very nearly said to some unknown brattish child in a shop. I must be getting old if I think the presence of other people in a shop allows me to talk to them).

Anyway, I did give her two non-presents as described in the track listings on the back to tide her over until we sort out this witholding (which I guess is a problem with having birthdays so close together).

It didn't help the card was her Christmas card which never got to her, something GA didn't notice until she read the note inside, written in December, and was puzzled about why I'd be wearing gloves that I had to take off to put the hood on my brother's car up. She didn't notice the different coloured ink correcting and amending, nor that fact the card said "Winter" on the front, complete with a woman wearing furs walking through the snow.

So then food and drink, and realising the party was overcatered before I arrived with my 15 sausages (I had to test) and 5 lbs of potatoes, and that I'm not really hungry. But oooh, Pimms; finally we have a proper use for Thermos flasks. It looks fine until one tries to get the fruit out (and there was a lot of fruit, not that I mind picking at alcoholic chunks of nectarine).

Over the course of the meal, or scavenging, we had a couple more turn up, 3rd and Liquor - because it's what he does to bottles of alcohol in subtle, yet suggestive, way. And given the tight pink t-shirt, the shorts held up solely by penile friction despite a belt wide enough to be a skirt, the tight black underwear low enough to illustrate that his joytrail ends in spaghetti junction and hair which had least half an hour to get it looking nonchalant, I'm guessing (ok, so I know damn well) that he might be gay, hence the suggestiveness of the bottles as he tends to be looking at me as he runs his tongue round the rim. I think he's watched one too many Madonna videos - which reminds me, I recently saw a headline in the Evening Standard screaming "Pope's wrath over Madonna". Which given I'm fairly sure they used that headline when I was eight leads me to wonder how much else they recycle.

One advantage to 3rd is that she's remarkably materialistic, with a hint of social aspirant, and thus brings good wine from this darling little shop she knows, all while feigning ignorance of the qualities of the wine (thereby suggesting she gets round this lack of knowledge by being able to pay someone else to do it for her). Oh, I appear to have finished my fruit salad with Pimms. Rosé? It'll do, I suppose. Bit more than that dear.

At some point the fun and games begin, starting with an egg and spoon race, using tennis balls, although we did have scotch eggs (homemade one's from GA's parents' pub, which where somewhere in the realm of ostrich. They were very nice; we just had to cut them in half to eat). Team picking commenced and it's significant that I was picked fifth out of ten (by people who don't know me).

So we lined up either end of the course, and then realised one team had assumed we were starting from end and the other from the other end. A small correction later and we're off. Egg and spoon races aren't the most thrilling things, being mostly composed of telling the other team to stop cheating. I received the baton, and started towards the other end. I got a third of the way before losing it. Grab ball, run back, start again. Get halfway there before dropping it (I've never been very good, and only used to win sack races because I was only child to put my feet in the corners), run back, start again, this time using the force of acceleration to lift my arm up until the tennis ball is pressing into my chest. What? I'm not using my thumb. Anyway, there's a reason it's "third time lucky" and I'm just conforming to that reason. If you're bad and then you cheat it's like doing the penalty first.

But because I'd taken so long, Liquor, my receiver was watching the other team, not me, so I very nearly did cut his heart out with a spoon.

And somehow despite rampant cheating on the other team, and gross ineptitude on mine, we won.

Then before any more games began I availed myself of the facilities at a nearby pub (who very handily have the loos in an extension one passes before entering the bar) and came back to find everyone playing top trumps using receipts as cards. Grabbing the remaining two in the middle, I tried to join in, but it was limited to only those with the challenged feature on their uppermost receipt, which as I got two of 3rd's meant I couldn't play, as hers were all card payments at restaurants. So after endless rounds of "cheapest item" and "most change" eventually gave way to "most interesting items", the latter of which became a head to head, with the rest of use judging. So it was things like "Green and Black's versus tomato puree" and "orange juice versus Smirnoff", at which point Herbie said "I know what's coming next, she's going to win, you can't beat it" to the odd guy who started the challenge. Odd guy read out "500g dry pasta", which was answered with a snort and "Durex Featherlight". The game sort of lost any point after that as whoever had that receipt would inevitably win and I concluded that Herbie and MC were probably back together.

Oh, and during top trumps there was also supposed to be obligatory drinking, but as I think the rules stipulated the winner drank, it wasn't really a good drinking game. So next came abandonment and a mini game of rounders using a champagne bottle as bat. As there were only two people playing until I joined as wicketkeeper (or whatever it's called) and there were no bases, it was a slightly nonsensical game. Which we abandoned after the bowler and batsman swapped [MC and Odd], and the new batsman refused to run (on the grounds that he didn't know where), and then managed to hit the ball and fling the bat down the ground, as one is taught in school (when not feeding the horses over the fence, or holding the do-not-feed-the-horses electric fence), although in school there aren't normally people picnicking beside the batsman, and the bat isn't normally a heavy glass bottle. So while the batsman ran until he found somewhere to run to, the bowler and I returned to the blanket with the crater in the middle.

Then came a bit of moaning that we had no Frisbee (and no viable alternatives), followed by "I have never". Oh yeah, we're grown ups. And it's quite surprising it worked as usually there's a gross imbalance in experience, so one person has done everything and everyone else has done very little (and those who have done nothing can never think of any questions). Admittedly this time one of my I-have-never's was aimed solely at GA (as they normally are when I play with her).

But it's quite fun watching who drinks to what (even if 3rd orchestrated half the questions, and the other half where all the infighting of GA's uni friends). Memorable responses:

- Something like two thirds of the people there drank to "I have never kissed a member of the same sex with tongues", including GA (really? I later quizzed her, and she looked sheepish and muttered something about experiments [on the NYE I wasn't invited to], as probably did I. Yes, a sip of mostly orange juice can precipitate that talk), but not including 3rd, who is the one who hams up her Sapphic tendencies.

- There was dissension in the gay ranks over why anyone would let their lips near someone else's anus (it was quite funny to watch, especially as the quiet, discrete WSM explained felching to the overtly sexual Liquor, who blanched at the idea, as probably did most others carefully adjusting how they were sitting. As I recently overhead someone else say, Liquor appears to be "All cock, no cum"*, although it's hard to imagine the idea appealing to anyone).

* Which might be what you're after.

- Just about anything sexual near the timid, demur and about to marry girl I've yet to blogname. She also was about the sole abstainer from the grooming question (the merits of which 3rd explained for both sexes, authoritatively stating that for males it makes their penises look bigger, which nearly prompted a few "I know"s).

- It would also appear that all a certain couple do is buy condoms and use them as per the instructions.

- 3rd managed to kill the conversation by mentioning frottaging (ooh, just think of the extra search hits), which while it isn't cottaging in winter - and is it using fingers? No, that's frigging, which caused a riot at middle school as only one teacher knew it wasn't simply a substitution for fucking, unlike all the children using it and their parents who had to have the difference explained to them, which made for some fun PTA meetings (and there should probably be a "word" after substitution to clarify) - also took some explaining, thus breaking the tumbleweed rule of sexual behaviour, which is that like jokes if it has to be explained then it's not worth bothering with. It is, for those unaware, the original zipless fuck, so clothed people rubbing against one until orgasm (or one starts smouldering).

- And she managed to kill it further by asking about something to do with bacon on string which just confused me (cooked? does it have to be bacon? Can you just eat the bacon instead?), but reminded me of someone's suicide/death by misadventure at college. I'm sure there was a name for it, but as it's one of those things which is going to be very limited in use I'm guessing I can survive without knowing.

- Even the recovery bid of sex in public places demonstrated how unadventurous we were. No charges of gross indecency for most of us (thought that's probably from a lack of opportunity and imagination).

- Sex in parents' beds is universally frowned upon, although the couple had. I didn't enquire about sex in other people's parents' beds (which is even more frowned upon, especially if they're back in the morning and it's only discovered too late to wash and dry the bedding).

- Masturbating using a friend proved controversial, if widespread (when is a friend more than that?), and then amusing when it mutated into using someone in the group (WSM fancied Liquor for years apparently, to which Liquor retaliated that he'd like to fuck two people here, which leant an interesting air to the evening [Liquor is a gay male, so that's half the group gone. Number 1 must be the very good-looking WSM. So number 2... there's Herbie, but I can't see it. Or there's Odd who seems even more unlikely. So who then? It must be one of the girls... oh, hang on, er, there's me, but people don't generally want to have sex with me. Hmm, I wish I hadn't got to this conclusion, but my ego won't let me be beaten by either of the other contenders. I suppose it's a compliment, but a dashed queer one at that]).

Moving on and with cloud darkening overhead, we packed up and set off to the flat with the first queries of "was that rain?"

Back at the flat, people sprawled, wine was opened or cooled and opened, and then GA opened the Cava, despite protestation from me that she'd just opened a bottle each of red and white, but GA when somewhat inebriated is not to be trifled with, so instead of arguing on I should have admitted defeat, fetched reinforcements or helped her open it in a way which wouldn't get a third of the bottle on the kitchen floor. She was also a little too drunk to realise that the reason she couldn't pick up a chocolate was because her finger had passed through the fatally softened form.

So after putting them in the fridge, then back in the fridge when little miss toddler/Alzheimer's got them out again, I went out to the main group and sat chatting, listening to friends act like friends do (jokes, unrelenting savagery, trying to involve the one who never used to be so boring; there were assorted barbed comments about old married couples, and how marriage ages people. But the engaged girl was the one who originally booked the event that weekend; back in April, as it was the only free she had this year).

We also got treated to 3rd and Odd getting along like a house on fire, complete with flare ups, crackling, hissing consumed in a contradictory, spiteful roar. Which only lead to sotto-voces about Beatrice and Benedict. It wasn't helped when Odd said what he thought 3rd was going to say and then countered it, prompting a row as he wouldn't let her finish a sentence; cue comments about them finishing each other's sentences. It's amazing, everytime they meet, there are fireworks. Admittedly there's usually vodka involved (3rd was serving herself, and making vodka and orange like tea, with the orange the milk).

Comically she progressed to trying to flirt with WSM. Stage one, sit on arm of his end of the settee. Stage two, laugh profusely at his every utterance, to such an extent that one has to put an arm to steady oneself. Stage 3 is working that arm so it goes from the back of the sofa behind him to his shoulder. Stage 4 requires the mutation of 2 and 3 into brushing the side and back of his neck, thumb cupping the ear, as the hand goes down. Stage 5 involves swinging one's legs into the gap on the seat recently vacated by him as he slides away. Stage 6 sees the feet worked forward. Stage 7 allows the lower foot to delve beneath him, while the upper foot gently happens to caress his thigh with the toes. Stage 8 pushes the foot further forward, so her instep follows the curve of his thigh, with the ball of the foot working the inner thigh. Stage 9 sees the gay man abruptly walk to the toilet, the rather drunk flirt slump off the arm, tangle her legs in considering following him, and realising that wasn't an invitation, sulkily reach for her drink, before coming over to me, scattering observers (we might have had a slight running commentary going), biting my arm until I join her on the beanbag, where she cuddles my arm, reverting to near foetal position and baby talk (given she's about as tall as I am and about as gangly...). And because I'm still in shorts, she comments that I've got very hairy legs (they're not that hairy), but they are strokeable (er, thanks), and that I've always had nice legs (er... [hairs on legs stand on end]). Oh dear, stroking the parentally approved man of last resort, that's not good. Yep, you'll be needing worship to St Armitage of the Shanks soon.

Oh, and I forgot to mention various people came and went (like Liquor, off to the birthday party of a school friend I've had dinner with - in uni halls, and only because he was sitting alone and I was on my own. It was not an experience I repeated).

Then people decided to head out again, so I went to change to less strokable legs, and nearly got left behind. How should one react when walking three abreast, enjoying merry debate, the guy in the middle, WSM, complains of being surrounded by smartarses, and then drops back to inspect the two flanking smartarses? I didn't ask if mine was smart, and carried blithely on, pretending that didn't just happen. In fairness he had earlier spawned a long running conversation about his arse, after commenting it was fat, which led to an amusing round of Crocodile Dundee-ing (which I didn't join due to rampant insecurity about that region). We carried on walking, back to the green by one of the pubs whose loos we were using earlier, and a few people pop in to buys drinks while the rest of us try to work out how to sit without getting our shoes on the blanket while still facing each other, or just give up and descend into the dust, which we pretend doesn't have more cigarette butts than blades of grass. At which point I discover the name isn't The Cricket [Name], but The Crooked [Name], which is of no importance whatsoever, except as an example of my enduring foolishness. Although it is apparently quite a fresh-faced foolishness.

It's quite strange that sitting in a group of people all with recent birthdays, all fearing the dreaded lurgy of the past-tense, and yet each of us discussing the apparent age of others, and all coming to the conclusion that those around us don't look as old as they are (well, for the most part). So that either means that somehow we all live by the [grossly misquoted] mantra of "age shall not weary us, nor the years condemn" or perhaps that we have skewed visions of what people of a certain age should look like. And I know other people our age who do look it, but then it's so hard to remember just how old I actually am, which probably comes of wanting to edit out wasted chunks of life and so mentally discounting the gap as I splice. If it wasn't a full year in terms of life, it can't be a full year in terms of age.

This corporal, mental and physical disparity does have the gratifying advantage of being able to meet people a great deal younger while being everso grateful that one has to rapidly struggle to suppress surprise with a weak "Really? But you... seem so mature". Not that I'm at all competitive.

Getting ID'd is still an irritant, rather than a compliment, but I think it's mostly confidence, not age; be blazé and there's no problem, be distracted and it's fumbling for my driving licence (and what I'd have done over the years if I didn't have a photographic licence, I'm not sure).

[Ooh mothers are so wonderful (ignoring the Michael Palin vicar overtones of that line); she just rang me to tell me that I can see fireworks on a webcam in [which Googlesafe blogname to use? The Hardyfied version is traditional at too well known to be safe. Anyway, Seaknoll or something like that]. Ok, so normally we'd be there, or on a hill overlooking the bay (which helpfully doubles [or more] the sound and light), but still, watching fleeting specs of colour if they happen to appear at the same time as the camera captures... well, it's not the best way of watching them].

So after sitting round chatting for a while, and slowly succumbing to the shivering as I came without anything long sleeved, and naively thought that linen trousers and a regression polo shirt would be enough for a sweltering late July evening (ok, in hindsight, given more recent weather, it was warm, just not quite warm enough) a group of us head back. So GA is retiring with "a bit of headache", 3rd is disappearing, probably to go another party, and Odd just comes with us, although I think he was heading off too.

So heading down some alley by an expensive school, GA's headache manifests itself by somewhat unusual means (well, her head was involved, but only transit). I wait round, ignoring her clogging drains, and we move off again, parting ways with the departers on the main road. The back to her flat, where earnest conversation (I have never is such a pesky game) is broken by bathroom breaks. Being a good friend, I leave her to get on with it. Just as I'm ready to resume talking, and she's ready to curl up with a washing bowl, we're interrupted by a phone call from 3rd. She's incensed; Odd asked her out. GA handles the placation, while I wait for her to hang up before laughing. He's a nice guy, sort of, just a bit... misguided. He was talking to me earlier, asking very earnest, intense questions, but really didn't want to know any of the answers; he seemed to be asking questions to make conversation, without realising he could just stick to the weather or that he was interrogating people. As I said, odd.

So then I realise my tactical error. It's Saturday night and I've marooned myself in warmth, alone with someone about to lose consciousness. I debate leaving, but then GA's phone rings. GA is locked in the bathroom. I hunt it down, but it stops ringing. It then starts again. I ask GA who the name on the display is (it's the misspelt name of a herb). She answers but is too drunk to be coherent over the ringing of the phone. Eventually it stops, which is when I hear "It's [Herbie]. Are you going to answer it then?"

Guess who's never been comfortable answering other people's phones (or mine come to that). But the landline then starts ringing. I answer; apparently he's just checking someone will be up when a group get back to the flat to collect stuff before leaving. I hang round, they arrive, chat a bit, leave (and I haven't named them as I can never remember her name, and I'd only just met her very young boyfriend [wow, a real live Emo; can we play with it, please? Please? It's so sweet, and look at those big eyes beneath that fringe. Where did you find it? Do you think I can get one? Are they easy to keep? How long do they live?]).

And I don't leave; it would be nearly two hours to get home, and wouldn't be fun at that time of night. Instead I check on GA, who is looking distinctly sprawled, and then browse the shelves for something to read... Intermediate Mandarin, umpteen books on computing, a few galaxies of sci-fi and fantasy, and something on the supposed theory of everything. Chaos it is then.

So I read until the others get back, stand round chatting while the party tries to resurrect itself, and then discover it's ebbed away again by one o'clock. And so to bed, as Herbie and MC help us prep the sofabed before retiring. WSM has decided to cede the bed to me and sleep on a line of cushions on the floor (in hindsight, he got the better deal) despite protestations from me. And then after turning the lights out realise it's ten past one in the morning, which is depressing early for a party to end. So we chat in the dark about our lives and where they meet, so largely about the characters of those around us (apparently I'm good with pithy descriptions, which is odd as I was trying not to badmouth people too much).

At one stage I talk him to sleep, but after years of training with my sleep-talking brother, I carry on regardless. He wakes up apologetic and then does it again. Just as I'm ready to let him yield to inner desires he perks up and the conversation slips into the more personal and problematic. He's quite a good listener (perhaps because he was half asleep) and yet quite instructive as well.

Eventually he decides to upgrade to the bed (it doesn't seem fair to leave someone sleeping at my feet), but as the conversation weakens and 3 becomes 4 and we discover we're incapable of sleeping while sharing a creaky and restless sofabed (the guy's a contortionist), so he stealthily creeps back down, expertly avoiding the slightest twang lest he wake any of the others. At which stage I head to loo, only to realise just how loud a flush can be and then promptly slam the picnic hamper dumped in the hall shut as I fall over it in the dark.

And so to fitful sleep waking at about half past eight. Yep, I'm me, and when I'm most in need of sleep I wake early. Eventually I get round to drawing the curtains properly which are cruelly screaming last night's cavalier attitude, before getting both water and orange juice and retiring to bed, where I lie wondering how long it'll be before I can get up, occasionally glancing over to see if WSM's awake yet. Eventually by the time he wakes and mistakes my orange juice for considerate generosity, I want to got back to sleep, a feeling which hits all the harder when he decides to start clearing up the flat, and one I must ignore because earning brownie points is good.

So we shower as rummaging for clean pants wrecks all pretence of dignity and modesty, and pack things away, at which point GA emerges with an "oh wow guys". Then hang round for bit, before deciding to go for brunch somewhere, at which point I comment on the amount of food in the fridge (which had absolutely nothing to do with my severe lack of cash), and soa second picnic is planned, although this time there's only 3 of us as Herbie and MC have no intention of emerging just yet.

So then back to the same place as Saturday, sitting in the shade, debriefing and PMing yesterday, all the while carefully differentiating between that to be discussed and that not to be mentioned again. It's slightly awkward as we're all a little fatigued, a little lacklustre, which is literally true in the case of WSM who seems to mislaid his moisturer since yesterday; I've only just realised looking "healthy" can come in a jar. Admittedly I've yet to be convinced (it just makes me feel grimer at the end of the day, my skin more irritated by London. And it makes spots watery, thus far less discretely squeezable. I don't like spots, but if I had to pick a favourite type it would be those which comes out as pellets leaving little mark or swelling. There's something gratifying about getting it all in one go), but perhaps catching myself sidelight again will do it; there are definite grooves away from my eyes, my dimples leave a crease, and most shockingly of all the crow squatting on my face must have a very long toe, as one line scythes down to the jaw. So much for "chubby cheeks" (my brother used to call me that, usually while squeezing them inwards; he did it recently when drunk and complained they were still the same). Perhaps those insisting I look young simply didn't look close enough. Anyway, there's only one thing for it; I'll have to stop smiling and anyone who causes me to grin will have to be shot.

[Winamp on random; has Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps always has a triffid at the beginning?]

After the picnic came walking through a hotel (er, there's a big path beside it, but GA isn't one for following other people), called something which isn't Casanova or Caravaggio but something like that, into a park in search of a festival, from which we'd heard music earlier. We found it. Eight quid each. Maybe not then if we're just here to browse. So then a slow wander, made mentally slower by the accoutrements of the picnic, discovering various dead-ends, each with suitable ornament, and then back to the flat, a bit of nothingness and then I made to head off and WSM joined me.

I will never understand the top-up charged if I get the train back from GA's, as it seems to be different each time. So after escorting him to Victoria (having lost him at the first station due to following the wrong guy in light shirt with bag slung over the shoulder; it was only realising the bag was wrong which made me realise), artfully correcting his completely spurious route, and had a visibly sweating him complain that he thought it was supposed to have cooled down this weekend (my unpopular answer: it has), then lingering near the bus station failing to have a conversation till he left (and my A-Z has Victoria Coach Station the wrong place) that was about it.

Utterly unrelatedly I've been getting coherent spam; the titles read as follows:
- DiscountedInsurer
- ScrewMe Please

I'll be using them then.

And it's the same in both Hotmail accounts (neither of which detect it as spam). But moments later it's been ruined by the appearance in-between of something like HoodieHug (guess who's been listening to The Now Show and doesn't know what a Hoodia is, but suspects it's either model of car or some part of the female anatomy [presumably named after a Dr Hood, who was the first person to discover it*]).

*Yes, I'm fully aware; that's why I said it.


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