Sunday, July 31, 2005

Shuffle My Arse

Yesterday I was happily and innocently working my way through a collection of illegally downloaded MP3 files of Gina G's debut album "Fresh" (don't worry - a proper legit copy is winging it's way to me even now). For those of you who aren't familiar it's a quite chirpy little record really, all sort of Motiv8 sounding tracks like "I Belong To You", "Fresh" (of course), "Ti Amo" and "Gimme Some Love" - and one or two other tracks which weren't actually singles.

But for some reason Media Player seemed determined to play just one track at every possibly opportunity. It was obsessed. I'd force it to "Follow the Light" and it would play it, then go straight to this other track. I'd then mutter "oh not again" and move it to something else, which it would then play, and then go and attempt to play this other track again.

The track of course was "Ooh Aah...Just a Little Bit" which is, obviously, an unsurpassable classic. But I must confess, hearing that opening riff every two and a half minutes for about half an hour started to grate on me pretty quickly. I had to check that Media Player was actually in "shuffle" mode and I hadn't actually reset it to "obsessively play the only hit" mode by mistake.

However, I moved on. But on my way to Daniel's last night I ended up finding myself similarly frustrated by the shuffle mode on The Device. As part of general attempts to loosen up a bit and have a few surprises every now and then I opted to switch this on for my journeys a few weeks back and, given that I have 2 Gb's worth of shite on it, when selecting "All Artists" to run through I get quite a nice varied assortment whenever I hit play.

Yesterday though I selected a couple of artists who I'd only got three tracks for. This seemed to cause the device some confusion and it could only cycle hopelessly through the first and third items in that artist's catalogue until I finally nudged it manually to track two. Following this it would then play track one, then track three, then track one... and so on until I started to cry.

Now I know that randomness is something computers can only emulate, but it does seem to me that both The Device and Media Player are particularly - not to mention frustratingly - bad at this emulation. I find myself a little vexed, to be honest. But there we go.

I suppose it's not as disturbing, though, as my recently developed ability to guess which track is coming next purely from the silence alone. Don't worry, I'm not psychic: I can't do it when I have "All Artists" running, for example, only when I'm playing one particular artist. But... given the sheer quantity of Bananarama and Garbage that I've loaded up onto the damn thing that's actually a lot of tracks to miraculously identify the next one from.

Clearly I've just subconsciously figured out the formula it uses to work out the next track - but even so, that's a little bit scary in its own right.

Not to mention rather sad.

Somebody help me.

That's Worrying

I had something like twenty to thirty cups of Daniel's random punch last night. It was one of those concoctions which kept being refilled with whatever ingredients came to hand, no cup ever tasted the same, and I'm fairly certain that brandy, rum, vodka, peach schnapps and cava were amongst some of the ingredients at various points.

And yet, as I left yesterday despite feeling somewhat tired, I realised I was in fact horribly sober.

And this morning I have woken up feeling perky and lacking any form of hangover.

Something is very clearly about to fall off. It's the only possible explanation.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Amazing.

After a year of hoardings and perilous spiral staircases, Archway's escalator works are finally complete.

Almost.

Of course, despite the boards coming down, the shiny gleaming metal unveiled and the alternate down access having been retired again, there still isn't a working escalator to take us down to platform level.

No, we just get to walk down an immobile brand-spanking-new escalator instead.

British workmanship. Best in the world.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Ghost Train

I've just been reminded by Daniel's blog of the details of my journey down to Canterbury the other week.

This is because there were certain elements of it which I found a trifle unnerving and I thought I would share them with you, just to illustrate how inexplicable my life is a lot of the time.

The first oddness was that the National Rail Enquiries website - normally a mine of timetable information - insisted that it wasn't possible to get from London to Canterbury by any means, not even with unlimited changes. Since I've taken this route several times I was fairly convinced that it was actually possible to do it direct without any changes at all, so I persevered and spoke to the call center. (Who are, naturally, in India.)

The nice man there assured me it was actually possible and so I made a note of various times and headed off to Charing Cross.

Charing Cross is now my departure point of preference since they have brand spanking new card-friendly ticket machines, meaning I don't have to queue at all unlike at London Victoria. Only on that day the said ticket-machines seemed to be under the same misapprehension as the National Rail website - the journey wasn't possible, it didn't exist and would I like to go to somewhere like Penge instead?

Well, naturally I didn't - I mean, who would? - so I went to the ticket office and managed to obtain a ticket there, missing the train I wanted in the process. In the half an hour I had left before the next one, I got some papers, some sweets, some drinks and a printed timetable for the South Eastern network.

Train arrived, I got on it, sat down, we pulled out and I picked up the timetable to find out when I'd arrive in Canterbury so I could ring my dad and let him know when I'd be in.

Only, the train I was on didn't appear anywhere on the timetable.

So somehow, I had found myself on a train that didn't exist, taking a route it wasn't possible to take, on a ticket I couldn't buy, to a destination it wasn't possible to get to.

I was dead impressed, really. Yay me!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

One Stunned Telesaleser

So I've just had a call from 3 wanting to sell me an extremely interesting package that involves half-price line rental, free phone and all my line-rental back again at the end of the eighteen month contract.

Tempting. But the problem is it's 3. I hear nothing but bad things about them, I loathe the adverts, and I don't use my phone for anything but the occasional phonecall and text messaging so 3G services are really no use to me.

- "But wouldn't you like to video-chat with your friends and family?"
- "Good God no!"
- "Really? Not even with your family?"
- "Absolutely not! Especially not with my family."

Similarly although I do have a webcam I really do hate the sort of conversations where people can see you've dashed off to switch the rinse-cycle on and so forth. The idea of having someone I'm (reluctantly) phoning able to see what I'm doing as well is just anathema to me.

I've got used to phones, of course, but purely for information exchange, never social discourse - and even then I'd rather email so I'm in control of what I'm saying and can redraft and get it right.

It's strange. Here I am technologically updated to the hilt, but when it comes to communications like webcams and video conferencing and so on, I'm a real luddite. I regard them as the spawn of the devil and will never ever be dragged down that dark path.

(This firm denial of course is subject to be changed without notice.)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Mudblood Scum

Just finished Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

And thank God. After the rather flabby book five, I'm glad to report Rowling's back on form. It's still not as good as Azkaban (for me the pinnacle of the series - I honestly shed a few tears) but aside from a little unnecessary padding in the beginning it's definitely an above average offering. I couldn't put it down. (And I didn't, from this morning to this evening.)

Frankly JRR Tolkien could learn a thing or two about clean, uncluttered and unpretentious prose from this woman.

If he wasn't dead of course.

So I'm actually fired up about them again. I thought I'd lost that after the last one, but no... now it's back.

There's not much in the most basic tenets of the series which is orginal, I'll grant you. But the way she puts it all together and builds upon it - with various twists and a depth of characterisation - puts her streets ahead of anyone she might be accused of plagiarising. (And of course any comparisons are, as anyone who's actually read them will be able to tell you, purely skin deep anyway.)

So yay for her. Roll on book seven. I look forward to it.

A Lack of Stamina

It's official. The chances of me ever staying at Windypops! to the very end are pretty minimal really. I just don't have the stamina these days.

A good night though. It is slowly gathering attendance in the new part of the pub which is nice. I must make sure Smess and Jon capitalise on this. I'm formulating a plan in the darkest corners of my brain even now...

Once again, my set was split. I like this very much. And the iPaq's proving a very handy way of making notes of changes to the set without lots of scrawl I have to type up later. So, with all the joy of technology, here goes:

  • ABBA - The Visitors
  • Garbage - Bleed Like Me
  • All Seeing I - First Man In Space
  • Shakespeare's Sister - You Made Me Come To This
  • Fischerspooner - Cloud
  • Ultra - Say You Do
  • Betty Boo - I'm On My Way
  • Candy Flip - Strawberry Fields Forever (DMC Mix)
  • The Flying Lizards - Money (That's What I Want)
  • YY28s - Julie
  • Kelly Osborne - One Word
  • The Human League - Shameless
  • Client - Price of Love
  • Goldfrapp - Twist
  • Belvedere Kane - The Goodbye Song
  • Universal Poplab - We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful
  • Chumbawamba - Amnesia
And then a nice hour-long booze break, during which Jon showed me how to pair my iPaq to my mobile phone via Bluetooth so I could use it to surf the internet (naturally I ended up on the official Doctor Who website to test this. I'm such a geek). Then...

  • Kaiser Chiefs - Oh My God
  • The Bravery - The Ring Song
  • Voice of the Beehive - Don't Call Me Baby
  • Duran Duran - Electric Barbarella
  • Pet Shop Boys - Miracles (Extended Mix)
  • Alcazar - Crying At The Discotheque
  • Patrick Macnee and Honor Blackman - Kinky Boots
  • Barbara Windsor - Grin and Bare It
  • Lonnie Gordon - Happenin' All Over Again (Harding Curnow Mix)
  • Mel & Kim - Respectable (Extra Beats - Lemonfresh Edit)
  • Kylie - I Believe In You (Wayne G vs. Club Junkies Mix)
  • Rachel Stevens - So Good (Extended Mix)
  • Steps - Better Best Best Forgotten (Single Version)
  • Pay TV - Trendy Discotheque
  • Bodies Without Organs - Conquering America
  • Girls Aloud - Wake Me Up (Tony Lemezma's Love Affair Mix)
I was vaguely amused to see a few people dancing enthusiastically towards the end - even to stuff that they couldn't possibly have ever known (Pay TV and BWO for example). I guess that just goes to show what good mixes they are, though. Even if yo don't know it there's something that just kicks in.

Naturally there were a few bits in there purely for my amusement. The Mel and Kim track was an edit I'd worked on during the day. There are two Extra Beats mixes of Respectable, both called the "Extra Beats Version" just to confuse people. One, which always ends up on the reissues of their albumen, is shit. Just drums and a bassline - essentially a dubmix which is all very very tedious.

The other, longer, version is a proper remix. A heavy, mechanical bassline relaces the allegedly soulful original, there's a host of new arrangement gimmicks, plus a liberal sprinkling of studio chatter and laughter (including the baffling opening line "Hahahahahaha. Mel and Mel - I love it!" which is presumably a response Mel had to having her vocals double-tracked, but I can't be sure). Anyway, it's brilliant and needs to be put on CD immediately.

Big problem is it's also about eight minutes long which I think is rather too much. So I opened up my wave editor, hacked it down to four and played that instead. Much punchier, and less likely to bore the punters with endless drumloops.

So that was that. Additionally I bunged a couple of tracks together purely for my own self-indulgence (I have a streak which is about a mile wide). The main version of Betty's "I'm On My Way" features the final synth and piano bit from the Beatles' Lady Madonna (rerecorded by the original artists as it happens, including the legendary Ronnie Scott). It seemed natural therefore to create a bit of a theme after, so I enjoyed bunging the DMC mix of Candy Flip's "Strawberry Fields Forever" to follow. Aside from being a Beatles song originally, that mix ends by building into an instrumental rendition of "Hey Jude" so you got one full song and two references thrown together which I rather like.

Similarly the Flying Lizards and YY28s were put together for the reason that there are identical elements in the drums. It's ingredients like that which no-one else ever notices that I personally rather enjoy. As a joke for one person, of course, it's rather a lot of effort, but I enjoy the smug feeling I get afterwards.

Hey, I'm up there for ages, I may as well enjoy it.

Anyway, I finally staggered home at one thirty having had a lift from a very chatty and pleasant taxi driver who didn't charge me the earth.

Sleep rarely feels so good as when I've done a particularly self-indulgent set you know. And as a result last night's sleep felt exceptionally good.

Today, once again, coffee is my friend.

Monday, July 25, 2005

A Lady of Leisure

It's been an oddly full weekend really. I still hadn't recovered from Friday by the time I arrived at my aunt's for one of her soirees. Thankfully I was reassured by Orlando declaring that I was looking well, which wasn't so bad.

Within five minutes he'd amended this to "looking well rough" which was less welcome really.

A pleasant afternoon and evening was had though. Wine, food, and not too much song, the occasional cabaret, and excellent conversation. (Well, apart from the one where the baby photos almost came out. Lucky escape that.)

And I haven't seen Terry's friend Angie in ages so it was nice to have a little chat with her later on.

Stayed over at Terry's which finally meant I got a chance to sleep a bit. She suggested a trip to Ikea which since I needed new and decent hangers for my new workshirts I agreed to. She wanted a new chair which meant I could help lug that around too.

She'd also decided she wanted me to have a laptop and Pocket PC to make me seem a little more professional. A quick trip to PC World happened and I've now discovered that to Terry "appearing professional" basically means being able to make all the metal detectors in an airport go off just by arriving at the taxi rank.

I'm glad she drove me home. I'd never have dragged this lot back on the tube.

So now, in my week off I have little to do aside from a spot of DJing this evening, set up all the new equipment, sorting out all the other junk in my room to accomodate it and some ironing.

Naturally the ironing appears to be the most onerous of these tasks. I think it's the thing I'm going to dislike most about wearing proper shirts.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

And So It Ends

Yesterday I bade farewell to the job I've had for almost four years.

It was a strange feeling at the end. When I handed my notice in five weeks ago it seemed like I had months left. Yesterday I was surprised to find those weeks had vanished and this was it. And although there have been times when the job sucked beyond belief - which I think is inevitable in any job really - the people I actually worked with made it rather a blast so it is rather a shame to leave.

The thing I most dreaded of course was the presentation. Everyone crowded round, I got talked about - in embarrassingly glowing terms, I dont handle compliments well - handed a card and presents (some great stuff too, they'd put a lot of thought in - and amazingly the Ted Baker T-shirt fits perfectly) and then of course I had to say a few words.

I think I got away with it. Couple of laughs anyway.

So, after that there was an exit interview where I handed over my passes and badges, I finished my timesheet for the week, handed over the few calls I had left, and went down the pub.

And that's it. An era dissolved away to nothing. Almost rather while I wasn't looking.

Today I feel like there's a series of woodpeckers constantly banging away inside my brain. I'd forgotten how much these people can drink - and increasingly I'm finding I can't do it any more.

How I'm going to survive the weekend with my aunt I have no idea.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Awww...

One of my clients has just popped in for a meeting with my boss and the sales team over buying an additional module.

And they knew it was my last day here today and left me a lovely handmade card to say goodbye.

I'm rather touched. How sweet is that?

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Well, Really...

I'm sure you've heard about those zany bombers trying another one of their silly little pranks by now: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4703777.stm

This time, however, it was a bit of a damp squib (at the moment it seems that the perpetrators forgot to bring explosives with them) and we Londoners were raised merely to a state of frenzied apathy.

My aunt, of course, was in a "burn the bastards" mood (she's a reformed Daily Mail reader but occasionally lapses). "I think they should bring back hanging for them" she said.

My suggestion that perhaps capital punishment wasn't much of a deterrent where suicide bombers are concerned met with the expected silence. (I could almost hear her lips purse down the phone.)

The High Barnet branch of the Northern Line, of course, seized wholeheartedly the excuse not to work for a valid reason for a change. Thankfully I didn't have to walk all the way home this time. The busses were more or less unaffected and so I merely had to deal with a woman with body odour and a mobile phone.

Ho hum.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Another Illusion Shattered

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/film/4698793.stm

Only fifteen minutes?

Blimey. Wasn't even worth getting your cock out frankly, Col.

Candle-Bomb

Today my Forgotten English calendar has served up this random sort of term for me. Apparently a candle-bomb is a small glass bubble filled with water, which:

"When placed in the flame of a candle, it explodes from the force of the steam generated.
- John Craig's A New Etymological and Technological Dictionary, 1849"
Now, I am somewhat surprised such a thing exists. Surely the only point of these would be to provide diverting moments at dinner parties?

The marketing must have been a hoot:

Candle-bombs! Surprise Your Friends! Blind Close Relatives! Maim Small Children! (Only a shilling for a hundred.)

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Don't Ask Me Why

But for some reason I put a reference to Crackerjack in my leaving drinks invitation to my colleagues.

I mean... I'm too young to remember it in its heyday, merely old enough to remember when Stu Francis was running around yelping about assault and battery on pieces of fruit and repeatedly bum-raping the dying corpse of a formerly fondly regarded programme.

"Oooh. I could crush a grape!" indeed. The fucker.

Still, I think I got away with it.

Forts

There was quite a chill breeze this morning. So instead of taking the sensible line of thought and closing the window I decided to make my bed into a fort and hide myself inside.

God it was fun.

Oddly I'm not hungover this morning. I feel I should be because I drank copiously but somehow I seem to have escaped the worst of it.

Managed to put together a set in a brief half-hour yesterday. It was one of those last minute kind of affairs - I'd been asked by Darren on Saturday night but only got a chance to think about it or find out how long I was needed for yesterday afternoon. So I put together an hour and a half as requested, which on the spur of the moment got split into two 45 minute ones so that Gareth could do half an hour as well.

This as it turns out was a masterly decision. It meant I didn't spend a big block at the decks and get horribly bored, plus I got to be a bit sociable before I had to go and hunt down a train home. Result!

As is now (sadly) traditional, here are the criminal records in all their miserable glory:

  • Lonnie Gordon - How Could He Do This To Me
  • Tanita Tikaram - If I Ever
  • Client - Radio
  • Heaven 17 - Let's All Make a Bomb
  • Voice of the Beehive - So Hard
  • Garbage - Boys Wanna Fight
  • Fuzzbox - Pink Sunshine
  • Shakespeare's Sister - Dirty Mind
  • Marilyn's Boys - Hot Stuff
  • ABBA - When I Kissed The Teacher
  • Human League - Love Me Madly
Then a short and welcome break, followed by
  • Siobhan Fahey - Bitter Pill
  • Pet Shop Boys - In the Night (Extended Mix)
  • Sabrina - All of Me
  • Sophie Lawrence - Love's Unkind (Extended Mix)
  • Bananarama - Ecstasy (Chicago House Stylee)
  • Bjorn Again - Stop (More)
  • The Bravery - An Honest Mistake
  • Erasure - Breathe (When Andy Bell Met Manhattan Clique Edit)
  • Dubstar - Not So Manic Now
  • Alcazar - I Go Shopping
  • Annie - Me Plus One
  • Schmoof - Kinky Spaceman
  • Girls Aloud - The Show (Tony Lemezma Club Mix)
All of which I think was slightly more balanced and preferable to last time.

Personal favourite was "Ecstasy", by the Nanas. Way back when Stock Aitken Waterman weren't so much the production line, the Nanas collaborated on various clubby tracks rather than songs, which often appeared as b-sides to their singles. "Mr Sleaze" is another, as is "Amnesia" which became the theme to ITVs failed chart show "The Roxy".

"Ecstasy", however, remains my favourite of them all. It's a great "getting ready to go out" type track since it's just a few repetitive riffs with the words "How fabulous do I look?" sprinkled liberally across it.

I invariably end up putting it on just during a panelbeating session with a mirror nearby.

And vogueing.

Monday, July 18, 2005

I Feel Naked

In my haste to get the train on Sunday afternoon I vacated the toilet at my parent's house in rather a hurry, leaving my silver rings next to the soapdish on the sink.

I realised the error as I went to fiddle with them on the train and instantly came to the conclusion that I shouldn't be allowed to try and take responsibility for my own life.

Trouble is, I'm feeling increasingly lost without them. I feel sort of vulnerable and naked without at least one ring on my finger and I can see myself rushing out to get a temporary replacement any minute now.

Honey Honey

Honey Honey
How You Thrill Me
Uh-huh. Honey Honey.

Unbearable smugness doesn't come easily to us Morrises (no really it doesn't, we're far too insecure) but some occasions it turns out do merit it.

On Friday whilst at the folks' in Canterbury, the phone rang whilst we were sitting down to dinner (the only time it is guaranteed to do so) and my father took a call from a beekeeping friend of his who had been stewarding at the Kent County Show.

Despite not feeling he'd presented his best jars for judging, Dad it seems had managed to win awards in four different categories. These included a Highly Commended, a Third Prize, a First Prize and the Novice Trophy - an achievement which now of course means he ain't a novice any more.

He spent most of the weekend beaming.

Honey Honey
Nearly Kill Me
Uh-huh. Honey Honey.

I was quite proud of his achivement too, I must say. Unfortunately I then got more honey to bring back home on my return.

It's really quite amazing how much four 1lb jars of honey weigh. Well, actually it's not, clearly - it's 4lb - but when added to the rest of my luggage this was quite an unwelcome load. It's a wonder I managed to drag the damn case up the hill.

I so need to find him something he can post jars of honey in.

Friday, July 15, 2005

The Little Bastards

For months now the bin-bags waiting for collection outside our house have on occasion been ritualistically dismembered, their guts strewn across the paths and the grim patch of concrete which constitutes a front yard.

Personally I assumed it was cats or foxes. But it turns out that the most antisocial members of the animal kingdom down our street are in fact squirrels.

No, honestly. I saw them at it this morning. The little fuckers.

I should have guessed. You should hear the ones in our area. One of them once stood in a tree outside our front window one morning and let loose the most appalling torrent of abuse I've ever heard - and all because we put plastic forks in the window-boxes to put them off getting in. The noise was, I kid ye not, absolutely terrifying.

Now... that one small creature should be capable of such a cacophony beggared belief at the time, but once you've accepted that, petty vandalism doesn't seem like such a leap for the little sods.

I really should invest in a BB-gun. One swift pellet to the testicles'll give them something to scream about.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Silence

Well, not quite... the roar of traffic was subdued, but still present as the two minute silence for last Thursday's victims was observed.

Now, I must confess I normally don't like silences like this. Fundamentally I just don't see the point; everyone just sits looking awkward for a minute or two and then carries on. And all this in the name of remembering either someone you didn't know - which always makes me feel a bit hypocrital - or some event which, for me, should be remembered regularly or woven into the tapestry of people's consciousnesses. I know if you're not remembering someone specific it's supposed to be a symbol of solidarity, but for me a gesture isn't much of a gesture if it's just not doing something for a change.

Today though was different. Our esteemed Mayor, dear Red Ken, suggested that for the silence Londoners should leave their homes and offices and stand outside while they did it, lining the streets with people standing up against the people who attack us in a show of defiance.

And so many of us did. And it felt right. We weren't just sitting and not doing something, we all had to do something extra to go out and be counted. The gesture was being made through action, not inaction, and to see so many people had made the effort to come and stand, silent and dignified, in plain view of each other and the world was quite stirring. As a city it seemed we were once again united.

And that, I feel, made it significant.

It Is With No Small Annoyance...

...that I have finally accepted I am simply a morning person.

It's a real pain in the arse. Especially since everybody else I know seems to be a night owl.

It must be said I've never been the most energetic of people. Even in my teens and early twenties I had finite energy reserves and would usually run out quite early into any clubbing experience. (It's not so much that I turn into a pumpkin at around midnight as my body shuts down, it's more a sort of ungainly paperweight.)

Trouble is I also recharge quite quickly and this means I'm ready to get going again quite early. It's a horrible cycle and I just can't seem to break it. Even at weekends I'm usually up and have the house cleaned long before the flatmate stumbles blinking into the midday sun.

At the moment I'm waking even earlier due to the sunlight beaming into my room incredibly early on with fiery intensity. This morning I just cast aside the duvet and scuttled to the end of the bed and lay there (practically purring) while the rays soaked into my back. It was a nice feeling but at this rate if I keep waking up before six I can see myself doing the unthinkable and going to the gym first thing in the morning.

I've resisted the temptation so far but I'm beginning to feel I'm wasting too many precious hours of the day when I could be doing something.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Backlash

It had to happen eventually I suppose.

After days in which the people who assisted the bombing and its aftermath in London have been deified, we've now got the media backlash. Suddenly it's all "where did they get it wrong?" "why did it take London Underground twenty minutes to figure out this was large scale emergency" "why didn't our intelligence services stop it" and so on.

Now I'm not going to say that mistakes weren't made, I'm sure they were, but I can't help but feel that anyone expecting perfection 100% of the time must live their life in a state of pretty much constant annoyance and indignation (although I suspect this is true of most writers for the Daily Mail group).

People probably could have acted sooner, but considering how long it took to get accurate information to those of us not involved those directly involved with all the information rushing in must have had a bloody hard job. Twenty minutes for example isn't actually a long time, all told - sadly it's enough for lives to be lost, true, but that can happen in a second.

Lessons I'm sure will be learned, but I'm not sure that demonising anyone but the bombers is really helpful. And sanctioning "it must be terrorists - quick!" as a first reaction to any disaster seems to be inviting knee-jerk reactions which are likely to cause even more chaos.

Rather more worrying though is the other backlash. On my way to the bus this morning I saw "Muslim Scum Go Home" and other such slogans against minorities graffitied on the floor of the underpass I use to cross the Archway Road. The very sight of it sickened me, but at the moment I was walking through, a young black girl skipped merrily into the underpass only to find the hateful slogans surrounding her and I dread to think how she must have felt.

It's a sad fact that whilst many Londoners actions over the last few days have rightly inspired pride, there are still some pig-ignorant backward dickwads of whom it is equally proper that we should be utterly ashamed.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Thought Occurred...

...that if anyone really wanted to paralyse a city in the United Kingdom they wouldn't need carefully orchestrated terror attacks at all. As the events of the last few days have shown, that just results in dogged determination and a purposeful approach to life that keeps the city going however crippled its infrastructure may be.

No, instead they just need some means of manipulating the weather.

Walking around at lunchtime I was struck by how mentally challenged everyone seemed to be and it can only be the shock of yet another hot sunny day. I was striding merrily along and one woman walked a long way out of M&S just, it seemed, to stop right in front of me when she suddenly realised that it was actually quite bright and she'd need to get her sunglasses out of her handbag.

Okay, it's no big deal, I merely had to step round the brain-dead hussy, but what got me was that as she was leaving the shop she was looking carefully left and right and must surely have noticed the torrent of people whose way she would be in as she walked let alone stopped. Then after battling halfway she looked directly at me as I walked towards her and stopped to do it anyway!

And that's just one incident. My whole lunchtime walk today seemed riddled with them. It was as if a whole truckload of slack-jawed post-operative brain-donors had been set loose on the city streets, each of them gazing blankly at the world through eyes that suggested years of cannabis abuse (and I used to live with Sports Science Students so I know that of which I speak).

I found myself wanting to shout at them to get a grip. The contrast to Thursday really couldn't have been more striking.

The rain isn't much better of course. The rain typically turns your average city-dweller into a panic-stricken, indecisive umbrella-wielding loon intent on maiming the tall by poking their eyes out with the exposed bits of frame.

Pedestrian life, it seems, is fraught with danger.

Bless Her

One of my colleagues looked over at me this morning and announced that in her opinion I've been losing weight from my face over the last couple of weeks.

I would have hugged her. Only her elaboration on this suggested she considered it a bad thing.

Evil, I say. Truly evil.

Sex, Lies and Videotape...

... are three things which didn't (to the best of my knowledge) occur last night at Windypops. However, it was a night of some interest on other levels.

Firstly during the day I'd somewhat foolhardily agreed to do a set. I don't know whether this was emergency DJing or what (making me the "break glass to activate" DJ) but due to the fact that by then I was off my tits on Sudafed I agreed.

I got home with enough time to throw some CDs in a bag, swap a few over in my box to stuff I'd never used, swallow more pills and run back out again.

Our first surprise was discovering that the Rotting Vulture had decided to open up the other bar instead of the club area. This wasn't too bad - it's a smaller venue with proper seating, more of a pub than a club, which we'd been angling to shift to for ages (despite the fact you can't charge door entry or cloakroom fees for a pub which may later prove to be a problem). The next few surprises included having decks that worked properly, a better sound system, and having one of the barguys there (the one I've christened "NotTony") admit that the main club decks have been falling apart for ages now and need to be replaced. ("Yes," I muttered, "we had noticed.")

The less pleasant surprise was the fact that the headphones had vanished and so queuing stuff up was not an option. This was fun since it also meant that at least two of the tracks I played were not the ones I'd intended since I'd no way of checking before I hit play (frankly whichever designer it was that decided CD covers could do without track numbering should be shot. As indeed should the person who taught me to count).

The playlist was as follows:

  • Client - One Day at a Time
  • ABBA - Should I Laugh or Cry
  • Fischerspooner - Never Win
  • All Seeing I - 1st Man in Space
  • Pet Shop Boys - How I Learned to Hate Rock and Roll
  • Kings Have Long Arms - Rock and Roll Is Dead
  • Bananarama - Nathan Jones (Album Version)
  • Human League - Houseful of Nothing
  • Belvedere Kane - The Goodbye Song
  • Rachel Stevens - So Good (Extended)
  • Heaven 17 - Another Big Idea
  • Lonnie Gordon - If I Have to Stand Alone (Club Version)
  • Boy Krazy - That's What Love Can Do
  • Donna Summer - I Don't Wanna Get Hurt (Single Remix)
  • Dolly Dots - What a Night
  • Cathy Dennis - West End Pad
  • Mandy Smith - I Just Can't Wait
  • Betty Boo - Where Are You Baby
  • Spice Girls - Who Do You Think You Are
  • Tracy Shaw - Happenin' All Over Again
  • Bodies Without Organs - Son of a Gun
  • St. Etienne - You're In a Bad Way
  • Shakespeare's Sister - You're History
All of which had quite a few gems in it. "You're In a Bad Way" for example has never been one of my favourite StE songs until last night when it sounded great. I can't think why I haven't picked up on that before. On the other hand as a set it veered rather more towards pop than the audience was prepared for I think, but sadly all my more serious stuff was on the burned CDs that I'd specifically left at home to avoid hiccups on deck 2 - oh the irony!

My favourite moment of the night was the B-side of Belvedere Kane's "Never Felt as Good". The CD had arrived in the post yesterday (it's taken ages to hunt down a copy) and when I head it I was instantly captivated by the previously unheard track "The Goodbye Song". It's one of those incredibly bitter break-up songs which are always rather satisfying, and in its own right it goes to show that the lack of any follow-up singles or an album by this group is one of the greatest injustices of the 1990s. I went with it because it had a slightly less camp sound than the A-side and managed to form part of the electro/pop crossover I'd bunged in the middle of the set quite nicely. (Plus I wanted to see if Darren would suddenly twig who it was - thankfully he did).

Trouble is I'm increasingly finding DJing a bit of a trial. For three minutes at a time I'm sat (or rather stood) there with nothing to do but drink which is kind of detrimental to my physical state (especially this morning - ugh). I'm also increasingly feeling that I've done everything I can and that I'm getting horribly stale. I'm scheduled to do a two-hour set on the 25th July, but after that I think I'll give it a rest for a bit - after all a break every now and then is good to rekindle some interest.

I must see if I can tweak the next set so I can go out in a blaze of glory.

Monday, July 11, 2005

I Swear...

...next time I go to the bloody Quack's I'm asking him if I can have my tonsils out. I've spent since Saturday morning with swollen glands, my throat burning and now, just as that's abated, I'm suffering with a nose that by turns either won't allow me to breathe or won't stop running. And of course since I only have nine days at this job left I can't really take any sick leave. It wouldn't looks very good really would it?

From lunchtime onwards I suspect I'm going to be drugged up to the eyeballs.

Other than that, the weekend was busy. Random nosebleeds, clothes-shopping, vast quantities of food and wine, building bookcases (not the best choice of activity for a hot Sunday afternoon - I was sweating like Simon Cowell in a storeful of low-rise jeans) and regular perusal of the papers to see what the latest on the attacks was.

Once again, all the papers picked up on a new angle on the attacks all at once. This time it was the cost to the Muslim community, which - some seem surprised to note - had also been hit. The main angle was that these people seemed especially evil now it was clear that they were not only happy enough hurting people in the name of their faith, but also happy hurting people who shared their faith too.

Well, the obvious thing they were missing there is that, like my post on Friday, to the fanatic a westernised Muslim is as corrupt and as much an abomination to them as any other westerner. It's sad but true that anyone in western society is a potential victim - all it takes is an excuse to act.

I'm glad to say that London seems as busy as ever now. According to the police we are officially back open for business. Various tubes are still down (and true to form not all of those were hit by the attacks) but on the whole if you didn't know what had happened you wouldn't really be any the wiser.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Right, That's Enough For one Week

I am now heading out. I am spending the weekend at my aunt's and thus have a long walk to Blackfriars ahead of me.

So, please allow me to wish you all an excellent, enjoyable and above all safe weekend.

A Little Light Relief

Just had to pop to Barclays to act as bodyguard one of my colleagues who was picking up a huge great wodge of cash for the company.

I was a little surprised to see they've got a visitors book.

Now that's strange enough, of course, but what's stranger is that someone had actually signed it.

Aftermath

It was a very odd journey home last night. I don't think I've ever seen quite so many people on the streets. Traffic was hard to come by, but the pavements were packed with pedestrians.

I must confess I was slightly irritated by this. With my elongated frame I tend to stalk quite quickly so having so many people ambling along in front of me in some sort of daze did kind of put me off my stride.

I headed north from Moorgate and after noting the sheer number of people and lack of cars it was then all the little things that made it all seem a little surreal. The Old Street subway being closed (meaning we had to go seriously out of our way to cross the road), the upturned bins (presumably so no devices could be hidden in them), and the complete lack of buses going past every few minutes. People were walking and talking, but the few smiles I did see were nervous ones, almost as if they felt a smile or a laugh would be inappropriate under the circumstances.

I don't consider it inappropriate though. As Scoobs said in comments way down the page, you have to take pleasure where you can. And I'm all for laughing in the face of adversity. Sometimes it's a bitter, ironic humour, but anything to crack a smile.

Once I was up past Old Street and heading up towards Canonbury the traffic increased, people were fewer as they'd split off and the sun came out. I slipped out of my leather jacket and began quite enjoying the walk. If someone had showed you a photo of the scene you'd have sworn it was a leafy suburb of London on a quiet summer's day, such an idyllic scene it was. Only of course knowing why it was quiet and knowing it was still Zone 1 made it all seem a little less comforting.

All told the journey home took an hour and a half which wasn't bad. My feet were aching a bit but I was glad to be home and sink onto the sofa with a glass of wine. And the phone network chose that moment to start delivering the day's text messages, which meant half an hour's worth of replies before I sank into the bath.

Special mention must go to Simon whose message started "It's taken me this long to realise I should check up on you. I'm like so over you" which made me laugh. Cheers dear!

Later on the news the information was clearer and more consistent than it had been. 37 people have died (at least so far) which given the nature of the attacks I suppose means we got off lightly. It seems terrible saying that, but I hope you know what I mean. Whilst any loss of life is unacceptable, it could have been much worse and I'm basically thankful it wasn't.

This morning brings with it its own share of novelty, of course. I woke up and I'd completely forgotten all about it. It took ten minutes or so (and an ambulance siren) for it to start flooding back. The shock of the explosions, the bad taste jokes that it was the French retaliating for us winning the Olympic bid, the later realisation that this wasn't a surge at all but a series of bombs, the confusion, and then that stoic spirit kicking in as people busied themselves with the practicalities of life in such a situation. After a few moments I just croaked "oh yeah" which seemed desperately inadequate but I was still somewhat uncertain I wasn't dreaming.

Buses are apparently back to normal. Tubes are heading that way. Surprisingly the Piccadilly line is running, albeit at a reduced service. Train stations, apart from King's Cross, are back and everything infrastructure-wise is returning to normal. The TFL website is reporting travel information with typical understatement: "Services are suspended due to a network emergency yesterday."

My first thoughts on reading of reduced and disrupted tube services were naturally "oh good, we're all back to normal then".

So what of the future? Well, it's going to take a while to settle I suspect, but if there's one thing you can rely on it's the sheer bloody-mindedness of Londoners. Every bag will be viewed with suspicion, every stranger scrutinised, but we'll determinedly push on.

I'm worried about what will come of course. I mean, not in the more bombs sense - not much I can do about them after all, if my number's up, it's up - but in the sense of what other changes will be brought to bear on our way of life. Blair talked about making sure our way of life was not changed, but I'm concerned that the government will now press on with measures that will mean it's not our way of life any more anyway - in which case the terrorists will have won.

And through all of this there's the worry that there's someone I've forgotten. Someone who I should be checking up on now that the networks are back. Through friends and friends of friends and other contacts I'm pretty sure everyone's accounted for one way or another, but I'm still slightly worried that at some point today I'm going to hear that someone I know, however vaguely, was killed - and I wonder how long it'll be before that happens.

UPDATE, 09:00.

Reassuring to see that so many of my fellow Londoners were ignoring the police advice to stay out of central London. The streets were packed with traffic again and the number of people walking about in the city is only slightly down on the usual I'd expect for the time of day.

Buses and trains however are oddly empty. Everyone seems to have taken to their cars instead - in part I suspect due to hearing that the congestion charge is suspended for the day.

The Great British Public. They never miss a trick do they? (And that's extremely encouraging I must say.)

UPDATE, 11:10.

Just seen this Letter to the Terrorists. And I think I can only say "hear hear".

The question a lot of people are asking now is "how can they possibly justify killing and maiming innocent people?" I've come to the conclusion that the answer is that to a fanatic (of any religion for that matter) anyone who has a different point of view to you can never ever be "innocent". They must genuinely really believe we are an abhorrence and a threat to their existence. Surely that's the only way they could allow themselves to do what they do?

Even then it's a terrifying stretch of thought.

UPDATE, 12:50.

Just been to get some lunch and a DVD and this necessitated a walk past Liverpool Street station. This has proven to be a diverting experience.

Roads by Broadgate Circus are taped off and blocked with police, officers on horseback, motorbikes and pedalbikes. So I took the long way round the front. As I headed towards my destination I noticed that there was hardly anyone around. A few people walking but in contrast to the busyness of the Moorgate area it was fairly quiet. As I rounded the corner past UBS I then started to feel odd but by the time the entrance to Liverpool Street Underground station was in view I felt what I can only describe as fear. Not pant-wettingly major fear, just a hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach and a prickling at the back of my neck.

The Underground Station, unsurprisingly, is closed. Shutters closed, grilles pulled to. (It's the entrance that featured in Mission Impossible incidentally. The rooms Cruise and his buddies allegedly stayed in are actually offices for the station.) A few taxis were still pulling up by the Police Public Call Post and a handful of people were dragging cases from the overground station; all in all it was the usual activity, just much less of it and with a few closed shops. So the knot tightened further in my stomach.

Got to the shops - those roads busy and bustling again - and decided I needed a paper. This meant going into the station to get to WHSmiths. And again, it was all much the same just with reduced activity, but my knowledge of yesterday still haunted me and I started to feel faintly sick as I walked through.

And that upsets me. It's my place. I've been here for years, walked there daily, I know it like the back of my hand. But now it's been changed. It feels different and uncomfortable, ghoulish and alien. I've never had something forcibly changed like that before and it makes me bloody angry.

On my return the area around the cordoned off road was buzzing even more. And as I rounded the corner I saw hordes of people on Finsbury Square, evacuated from the buildings closest to it. At the moment I have no idea what's going on, but you just get the feeling things won't be the same again and that the scares will keep coming.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Creeping Fear

LONDON, 10:30.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4659093.stm

Initial reports were that it was due to a power surge, but what with the National Grid saying there haven't been any, and reports coming in of blasts on buses, it does seem rather more like a malicious attack.

Information is obviously a little hard to come by and the phone network's flooded with people trying to get hold of information. This needless to say makes getting in touch with anyone rather tricky so there's a very heightened sense of fear going around at present. I'm trying to avoid leaping to conclusions but it's surprisingly hard not to - although I'm doing a better job of it than most of the people in my office.

Being based five minutes from Liverpool Street and Old Street doesn't half add an extra frisson, though. It's becoming increasingly difficult to keep calm while I try and contact people to check they're okay.

Can't say I'm enjoying today any more.

UPDATE, 11:45.

Tony Blair is to make a statement at noon. Brighton and Swindon have been closed due to security incidents.

Finally managed to get hold of my Aunt. First words uttered by her were "oh, thank God, I've been trying all morning!" Bless her - naturally she'd been ringing my mobile so every time I rang her her phone was engaged. Similarly her Godson had spent most of the morning in the bath and hadn't heard his phone so his mum was panicking wildly and contacting Terry to see what was up. Finally Terry roused him and got him to ring his mum. So that's two minds at rest anyway.

I've just heard rumour that it's something to do with al-Qaeda but I'm reserving judgement until I see it on BBC News since they're the ones who actually check everything before they put it online.

I'm now also worried that this is going to give added impetus to the government drive to take away more civil liberties in the name of the war on terror.

And in the immediate aftermath, I'm torn over that. Yesterday I'd have stood against it, but with this much panic around it's an understandable reaction to want to fall behind ideas like that, if a tad knee-jerk.

UPDATE, 12:40.

Blair's statement was painfully slow. And I would quibble over his assertion that these are "clearly" attacks caused by terrorists. I agree it's most likely (and I feel sure it is), but to be totally accurate not much is at all clear at present and he has yet to meet with the people actually dealing with the situation.

You have to be careful at times like this I think. One of my colleagues just announced that 90 people had died from the blasts which resulted in an understandable reaction of horror from us all. Of course when he read the report out the actual information was "there are 90 casualties" which is a big difference.

It just goes to show how one poor choice of words and someone's personal spin can create panic on even a small scale. Given that the purpose of terrorism is to spread terror it's even more important to stay calm and not feed the flames unnecessarily. Otherwise they're winning.

UPDATE, 15:25.

An Islamic group has made claims that they are behind the attacks. Of course that happens after any attack so the veracity of that claim is under some doubt. It could, after all, be someone else who's keeping quiet because there's more to come. Charles Clarke the Home Secretary has said that four of the blasts were undoubtedly terrorist attacks, so it's now a certainty really.

Many of the staff have gone home, collected by car shares or having found taxis. The initial shock seems to have worn off now, disbelief giving way to anger and uncertainty. Those of us unaffected thus far are now trying to figure out how to get our routines back considering London is under lockdown.

Just heard that Euston station is open so some train services are running. Tubes will be off for the rest of the day and no buses are running in Zone 1. I face a long walk, but hey - I'll be buggered if this is going to stop me doing what I always do.

As human beings we like routines of course; they make us feel safe. So we cling to them ever more at times like this. Even if it's difficult and tortuous to get home, get home we will to assure the continance of the norm - and also stick two fingers up at those who try to disrupt us.

There's a strange quiet over the city. A stunned, subdued silence that's desperately unnerving. The only sound I can hear at the moment is the squeaking of the air conditioning, the clattering of my keys and the occasional ambulance screaming past.

I frequently hear ambulances go past of course. But now each siren seems rather more chilling, a sombre audibe motif of suffering in a world gone mad.

UPDATE, 15:50.

Officially the death toll has sprung from 2 to 33 dead in the underground blasts. No-one yet knows how many died in the double-decker bus that got ripped apart. Obviously the figure could yet rise - emergency surgery is presumably still going on and at least three are still in intensive care - and the sad fact is that there's a high probability that some of those poor souls may not recover.

Liverpool Street Station has reopened which is something of a surprise. Presumably the Metropolitain line will still be closed but hopefully that means some people will be able to get home as usual.

Life goes on. Slowly, uncertainly and uncomfortably, but still it goes on.

I Don't Want to Start Any Blasphemous Rumours

This morning my journey to work was not held up by the general gridlock that results from Thames Water's activities in the Islington area.

Instead we spent a happy five minutes stuck behind the wreckage of a white van that had ploughed recklessly into the side of a lorry halfway down Highgate Hill. Police vans were blocking the road and policemen (in a rather attractive LA style uniform I might add - yum!) were directing the traffic round the obstruction.

So what musical delights did The Device randomly serve up for me during this wait?

"Roadblock".

It's official. Whoever it is that runs the universe is somehow finding time in their busy schedule to contrive such synchronicities purely to unbalance me that little bit further.

When I die I expect to find them laughing.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Ooops.

A black hole has just opened up in my financial affairs.

www.gemm.com

This is why I shouldn't be allowed near the internet.

[Looks at rest of blog.]

Okay... another reason why I shouldn't be allowed near the internet.

Oh Bollocks

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/front_page/4655555.stm

And I was having such a lovely day.

It's Hard Not To Take It Personally

Islington's quite a forward-thinking, socially aware council really. We don't have the highest council tax in London, and yet somehow we have daily street cleaners, regular public consultations, three-times a week rubbish and recycling collections (or at least we will when the kitchen waste collection bins get delivered), strategically placed bottle banks and councillors who really really think that local government is something to benefit everyone.

So all in all it's quite a pleasant place to live. Although I will admit it becomes a bit scary when the local council elections come round and said councillors descend on every house in the area determined to get us involved. The Lib-Dem one's particularly persistent in fact; she insists on speaking to everyone, and if you're not in she'll come back tomorrow. And the next day. And the day after that. She doesn't care if you vote for her as long as you vote at all because she passionately believes it's important for us to have a voice.

You end up voting so's you don't disappoint her really.

But it has to be said, the last few weeks have seen a slight amount of inconvenience meted out on the citizens of the borough. Indeed this week my particular street looks like something out of a large-scale disaster movie: paving slabs uprooted, barriers erected, flashing lights, trucks at dismaying angles, rubble strewn everywhere and so on.

It seems the disaster in question is Thames Water. It's been the same down almost every street for a couple of months now, and it appears that Islington just decided to take the bull by the horns and get TW to replace every single water main in the area in one go, rather than string it out and let more water get wasted as it sluices its way from the old decaying pipes. All very laudable and pro-active and very typical of Islington really.

But my God it's getting tedious now. Especially since for the last two weeks they've managed to conspire to get all the works synchronized to be taking place all along my bus route. Given that even a spot of light rain can result in panic and gridlock along the London roads, you can imagine how much longer my journey to work has become.

So the upshot is I keep arriving late rather than early now, and I'm sure my boss thinks I've stopped being a girly swot just coz I've handed in my notice.

If I didn't know better I'd swear they'd done it to make me look bad.

What's really concerning is that despite all this upheaval and disruption, it's still taken less time to overhaul this enormous system than it's taken to replace the two escalators at Archway station. Oh yes... a year down the line and we still have no down access.

Another victory for the Public Private Partnership scheme then.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Rude Awakenings

There are, I'm sure, worse ways of waking up of a morning than my chosen method today. Such ways would probably include having a tree or a plane land on your house, bailiffs raiding your property, or having a freshly sharpened kitchen knife plunged into your gizzard by the friendly neighbourhood psychopath.

But it's gotta be said, realising you've got an unpleasantly full bladder and then suffering an enormous bout of cramp in your right calf is a combination I never wish to suffer from again - and especially so at five o'clock in the morning.

I think it was the most desperately uncomfortable experience I've had in quite a while. Honestly, I haven't bitten the pillow and yelped like that in ages.

Monday, July 04, 2005

We Have a Tea-Leaf

In fact we have a tea-leaf* who nicks tea-nags which is even more circular. A tea-leaf tea-leaf if you will (and I know full well that you will).

Basically the new administration of our company have been somewhat lax in signing off orders for the important things in company life: i.e. biscuits, industrial quantities of tea-bags and sachets for the coffee-machine of doom. As a result of them spending more time on integrating the accounts, moving staff to the new offices, handling redundancies, dealing with legal people and so on, a teabag crisis has arisen.

I say crisis. Basically what it means is that people have to rush out at various moments during the day to the local newsagents and get as many boxes of PG Tips as they can with the petty cash. But since it means the tea-run is delayed, panic does tend to hit fever-pitch quite quickly in certain departments (especially in Sales for some reason).

This morning I discovered that the full box which had been innocently sitting there on Friday had mysteriously vanished, causing much consternation and suspicions of stimulant-related burglary to be cast around. Unfortunately, though, it was also the last box we had - meaning that in addition to the normal hysteria the threat of mob violence hung menacingly in the air.

So, as a result of being the discoverer of said thievery - and because I'm a dead man walking (i.e. working my notice) - I was nominated to mitigate this terrible disaster. This meant I was empowered with the task of leaving the office during the day without the usual excuses of it being a client visit, lunchbreak or hometime.

God I felt naughty.

But God it felt good. It's amazing how the little things like that can raise the tone of the day, isn't it? The other thing that's lubricating the wheels of my working life right now is that I discovered a box under my desk containing two sheets of bubblewrap.

Who'd have thought packing material could make a guy so happy?

Pop. Pop-pop. Pop.

Hooray!

* For those reading this blog from across one of the various ponds separating the UK from where you are, "tea-leaf" is rhyming slang for thief. And why do we have rhyming slang? To confuse strangers of course...

You Great Steaming Twat

Dubya's done it again. Since any climate change treaty would also mean American citizens have to think and not just consume he doesn't want to get involved.

I mean, I'm an arrogant fuckwit a lot of the time, but that's on opinion-level stuff (as this post will doubtless prove). This, however, is a level of arrogance that affects every living thing on the planet, but he's going to cling to it because a bit of profitability might be lost by some of his major bankrollers. What a selfish little prick.

The thing I find most breathtakingly stupid about his pronouncement on the subject though is the bit where he says that human activity is "to some extent" to blame.

He's obviously had some speechgiving lessons. A few choice phrases to throw in to downplay unpleasant edicts - unfortunately he lacks the requisite number of synapses required to use them appropriately.

Thing is, I can't see any other industrialised species on this planet, George, so who else is it likely to fucking be, eh? Take some bloody responsibility for a change and think about the interests of people other than the misguided dickwads foolish enough to vote for you.

Gah.

Deep breaths, Rob, deep breaths...

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Whatever I Do (Wherever I Go)

It transpires that not only did Stock Aitken Waterman write and produce the sublime "Shattered Glass" for the stunning lungs of the late Laura Branigan (she of "Gloria" and "Self Control"), they also produced a cover version of the Hazell Dean hit "Whatever I Do (Wherever I Go)" for the same album.

This was a bit of a shock. But I had to hear it. And now I have.

Much as it pains me to say it, Hazell's is better. Laura's got a better voice by no short stretch, but despite a great opening (that makes you wonder what track's starting up) and a fantastic delivery of the first couple of verses, it all falls apart for the chorus and never really recovers.

It's the production that's at fault really I think. Laura could even make a Coldplay track interesting, but somehow this fails to get off the ground.

Shame really.

Shame Shame Shame

Yesterday I eschewed the prospect of Pride and Live8 due to lack of interest in the former and complete disdain for the latter, and only ventured out in the evening.

My destination was Gay Shame, an anti-pride that's been run by club Duckie for about ten years now and at which I had yet to have the pleasure.

I must confess I wasn't really looking forward to it. Last year's had been a big funfair and cabaret evening with allsorts of wild stalls and so on, all of which sounded to me to be a rather desperate attempt to be outrageous and edgy (which is rather the typical Duckie style) and is most definitely not my scene.

But I was persuaded to give it a try and thus I dressed up in as much black as I could find (I was informed it was the dress code) and looking rather sharp - even if I do say so myself - headed off to le Palais de Elephant and Castle.

I had been expecting the wild and rampant hedonistic displays of last year (apparently one cabaret artist pissed over herself on the stage whilst doing a handstand), but instead I was presented with a cinema screen doing a live feed on a man being forcefed cream cakes through a wicker suit, a woman setting up stall as a counsellor with one of those folded paper divination things (which was actually quite fun) and a desperately understocked bar.

All of which I found rather a letdown, to be honest.

Still I ran into a lot of people I knew and haven't seen in ages, had a few jolly chats and got given biscuits so it wasn't a complete waste. In the end though I was faced with a choice: stay for another three hours in an increasingly packed and humid environment and have to get a taxi home, or leave now and get the tube.

I took the latter option. Which meant that I had quite a good night's sleep but the enforced mixing of drinks has somewhat killed me.

The venue was nice, though. The Coronet in E&C is much more pleasant than Duckie's normal environs (which are, with the best will in the world, a fucking awful dive) and would have been a rather lovely theatre when Chaplin was performing there. It's now been quite sympathetically turned into a club and cinema which is always good to see - unlike the Brixton Academy and Shepherds Bush Empire which have been badly gutted and ruined really.

The difference just goes to show what people can do with a little thought.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Inevitability

You know how sometimes you embark on something despite the fact that you can see exactly how it's going to end?

Yesterday I was requested to do some code-hackery to help with a problem being experienced by one of our clients. There is an application that had been built for said client to parse text files into a format that could be loaded into one of our official applications.

Only for no apparent reason it broke yesterday morning.

A half-arsed solution had presented itself, it just needed one vital bit to add to it - which is where I came in.

So I've spent a day coding it, fiddling around, getting the required file formats, accounting for inconsistencies in the provided data (and lack of it in one case), testing it, checking with the team who needed it that they can use what it produces and then - after delivery to the client - recoding bits of it to work with their version of MS Office (I love detailed requirements for a project, don't you?) and finally delivering a fully working plug-in for Excel that did everything required and even looked pretty too.

Naturally half an hour later the original application got fixed.

You have to laugh really, don't you?

Opening Gambits

I know I said I was going to leave Gaydar. But I left OUT, and I was doing quite well in the Gaydar Sex Factor thing (8.6 out of a possible 10, which just goes to show what good lighting can do) so I stuck with it.

Yesterday I got home to find a message from someone saying somthing along the lines of "So, your flatmate tells me he's got a bigger cock than you. Is that right? LOL!"

Now the use of "LOL" alone normally makes me ill-inclined to respond to a message, (unless of course the rest of the message does at least smack of some kind of intelligence or outrageous flattery). But this particular opener left my flabber the most ghasted it's ever been.

I was actually so stunned I responded, too. More fool me. I said it probably was but I've generally managed to avoid seeing it. (And I sure as hell wasn't getting a tape measure out and forcing Chris into an inch by inch comparison - if only because he'd probably love it).

But what sort of opening line was that? It just amazes me that somebody out there thinks that "I'm chatting to your flatmate too. How does your dick compare?" is a good introduction anyway.

I feel vaguely insulted to be honest. As far as phrases to make you feel good about yourself go, it makes "hey you're cute, fancy a shag" sound positively charming.

Ho hum.

Pinch Punch...

... First of the Month.

And no returns.

So there.