Saturday, February 25, 2006

Decadent Behaviour

Last night I came home to a cleaned house.

The novelty of this still hasn't quite worn off. I went into the bathroom and it was all clean and tidy. The kitchen was likewise. The house was hoovered through, the living room dusted and tidied. The rubbish had been put out.

How she managed to do it all in two hours I have no idea, but I just don't care. It was done!

So this morning I spent my time figuring out how to connect the laptop to the wireless network. This time it went a lot better since I finally read the error message and realised that my wireless card wasn't actually on.

So I surfed and chatted from the comfort of my own bed.

Cleaners and the luxury of internet surfing without ever getting up? How wonderfully decadent and indolent this behaviour is.

Whatever next? Orgies and vomitariums?

Reckless Extravagance

Do you know, there's something wonderfully therapeutic about just popping out during your lunch-break from work and spending just short of £300.

It's just so sexy!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Strike it Out!

According - as ever - to the Forgotten English calendar, today is the anniversary of the death one Thomas Bowdler; a man whose ceaseless dedication to removing rudeness, smut and swearing from classic works of literature, gave us the term "bowdlerized" to describe such expurgated versions and presumably caused a few generations of ill-informed school-children

And there ended up being a great flood of them as the Victorians' prudery led them to believe they were actually improving the works in question by updating them. They thought it showed how morals had progressed from that of our coarser ancestors.

Robinson Crusoe (which is one of the most boring things I've ever read) also got cut, as did Tom Jones, but amusingly I am informed that Jane Austen managed to avoid censorship herself when she reworded a reference to "bastards" in a 1813 edition of Sense and Sensibility.

Amazing how even the most innocent sense of the word has the power to shock. It was instinctively edited from an article I wrote for TV Zone once despite the fact it was used quite accurately and not at all gratuitously. I think it's fair to say I was livid - I'd agonised over whether I could use something else and the change completely altered the meaning of what I'd said.

He's apologised for it since though - apparently he was just oversensitive coz all the other members of staff used to try and let swearing through to annoy him.

The scamps.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

A most unexpected experience it was indeed, this morning: leaving the house and walking into a crisp morning of chill and snow.

I'm always amazed by snow. It seems to stir something deep within me and causes my spirits soar. Walking along with all those white flakes wisping and whirling around me brings back a child-like sense of magic and wonder that fair puts a spring in my step.

I mean, you could just look and see if wasn't settling and never would, but even so there was just something so special about the sight I just didn't care.

Now of course it's all gone but I am still in what could be described as a relatively bouyant mood.

Albeit not as bouyant a mood as I could be in if I'd had an enormous snowball fight. (Hmm. Perhaps I should go back to Berlin next January.)

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Out of Time and Out of Touch

Got home today to find a letter on the mat from the people we - nominally - rent from. Or rather it was from their head office: we rent from one of their sub-agencies but - due to them generally knowing squat about anything let alone plumbers, landlords, electricians or even our address - we deal direct with our landlord because stuff happens quicker.

I opened the letter with a weary sigh and perused the first paragraph. The first line read as follows:

"Your fixed term tenancy expired on 12 August 2003."
I glanced up the letter to check the date, just in case the Royal Mail had excelled themselves.

Nope, it was sent yesterday. I read on:

"As no agreements have been executed the tenancy has rolled over to become a statutory periodic tenancy and will remain this way until either party gives notice to end the tenancy or new agreements are executed."
This was a shock.

Thing is, way back in August 2003 - six months after I'd moved in - the company concerned sent us a new shorthold tenancy agreement saying the old contract was now due for renewal and could we please sign the attached new contracts and send them back with a cheque for sixty quid to cover administrative costs.

Looking at the new contract it was quickly apparent that said administrative costs were covering:

  1. Photocopying existing contract.
  2. Tip-exing out existing signatures and dates.
  3. Photocopying the blanked-out version again.
  4. And again.
  5. Popping these copies in an envelope with a covering letter.
We naturally rang them up and went "nuh-uh!" since - although it was a nice try - it is quite common (certainly here in Britain) for such contracts to have a fixed term, followed by a rolling agreement so you don't have to sign a new one.

Now, we weren't caught by this, but it is worrying. I can't help but wonder how many people actually fall for the "you need to renew your contract" thing and cough up an unnecessary administrative fee.

Be warned gentle reader, you can't trust these people one inch.

As it turns out the landlord hadn't heard from them in ages either until an statement arrived the other week pointing out that we'd changed a toilet seat. He was, as he sat on our sofa relating this, amazed by this news since he knew full well it had been changed for over two years (I broke the last one) and that they failed to notice the redecoration done in the bathroom bedrooms and halls, the replacement of a grotty curtain in my room with a blind, and the removal of a sodding great chandelier in my bedroom and its replacement with a flush-to-the-ceiling roundel (well... I kept banging my head on the old one).

All of these changes he knew about and didn't have any problem with at all. But these two letters do tell you something about such organisations which I think is worth bearing in mind: they're useless.

Landlords of the world, I beg you. Don't use such agencies. They just take 10% of the rent away from you for doing nothing. They're inefficient, ill-informed and money-grabbing bastards to a man. (Or, in this case, woman.) Please, just stop.

When I finally reached the last paragraph of the letter I couldn't contain myself any more. "We will take no further action" it began, and I had to put it down there and then.

After all, for two and a half years that's rather what we've come to expect.

Action by Havoc

Those who know me best as a slightly louche, reserved and non-physical sort may be surprised to learn that I have, on occasion, been spurred into being quite the man of action.

Indeed on one occasion I shoulder-charged a door open.

It was in my last year at university. I'd moved into a house with two girl, both called Lisa. One was a business studies student, the other was in several of my English modules. This Lisa and I had a very similar sense of humour and take on life and got on like a house on fire - almost to the exclusion of Other Lisa who sometimes looked rather like a rabbit caught in headlights when dealing with us, but it was one of my happiest times at Uni.

One particular Tuesday I'd decided to throw a sickie from my job at the Hospital so I could get an essay finished. "Getting an Essay Finished" of course was one of those catch-all terms which also covered such activities as "Watching the Lunchtime Episode of Crossroads" and "Having a Substantial Lie-in".

So there I was at ten-o-clock thinking about the possibility of getting up when there came a tentative knock at my door. "Rob?" came the cry. "Ugh?" I responded.

"Can you come and help? Lisa's trapped in the shower!"

Our shower at this place was fantastic. There wasn't room for a bath in the extension (it was essentially a converted cottage) but it did have a fully enclosed stand-up power-shower. I am, it must be said, well known for my love of baths but a decently powered proper shower is something I am more than happy with and this one was great.

There was a small problem, though. The shower door opened inwards and was surprisingly heavy. And on this particular occasion having finished her morning shower prior to attending a Tuesday morning lecture, Other Lisa had managed to take the handle off the door from the inside. It had, as we have all had reason to announce at some point in our lives, just come off in her hand.

Sadly the bolt also fell out into the shower and she was left with nothing to grab hold of to open the door. She was, effectively, sealed in, left soaking wet in a glass box in a cold room, occasionally having to switch the shower on to warm up again.

This situation lasted all of two hours until Lisa had emerged from her room to have a shower and realised Other Lisa was still here. (And I honestly can't imagine how miserable those two hours in the shower must have been.)

Of course Lisa and I faced a problem: the bathroom door was between us and the shower door. Whilst the idea of willfully damaging college property wasn't desperately appealing, we didn't see there was any other option.

And so I ran at it. It took a couple of attempts but eventually the cheap workmanship yielded to my not inconsiderable weight and it sprang open. I grabbed Lisa's dressing gown from behind the door, pushed the shower door ajar from the outside and handed it to a grateful, shivering and - understandably - sobbing housemate.

Thus it was that I became, for a few days, the hero, the man of the house.

I felt terribly butch. I didn't even damage my shoulder.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


We have a cleaner!

I'm so happy.

Lovely lady in a fabulous coat dropped round last night to have a look at the place and see what we wanted. And by a handy coincidence one of her girls does a couple of hours in the street next to ours of a Friday afternoon and can fit us in at three.

I'm rather looking forward to having my Saturday mornings back.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Let's Keep it Friendly

There can be fewer more odd things to happen on a Sunday morning than logging into a website - in this case Thingbox - and finding that someone's started a thread in your honour.

I stared at the title "Lemonfresh knows just how to satisfy my needs" for a few seconds before I had formulated an idea as to its contents and entered it to check them out.

I was right, The Ever Mercurial Reese Porter had started it to thank me for providing him with an MP3 of "Let's Keep it Friendly" by Patrick Macnee and Honor Blackman, the b-side to the wonderous "Kinky Boots" - a Windypops! favourite and a song which hopefully requires no introduction.

"Friendly" it must be said isn't really up to that standard. It's a nice enough little ditty, though, about not getting involved because you're too different - finally sliding into a decision that you'll do it anyway and just pretend you aren't.

Essentially a song, as Reese so wisely put it, about becoming fuck-buddies.

Downsides? Well it requires a little more vocal skill than its more famous stablemate and Macnee doesn't have any, plus it's lower on the smut until the end, but otherwise it's pleasant enough and is completely saved by the dialogue over the fadeout, delivered in a knowingly flirtatious manner by the leads:

Macnee: Aww.... my friend!
Blackman: Long-standing I'd say, wouldn't you?
Macnee: It'll see us through the darkest night.
You know, I sometimes forget how much more you could get away with in days gone by. To think... these days vacuous pseudo-journalist Victoria Newton complains about the relatively tame lyrics Girls Aloud are given.

That's price we pay for progress, I guess. (Newton that is, not the loss of smut.)

Advice for Insomniacs

In today's Sunday Times' "A Life in the Day" column, Dame Diana Rigg (worship her, worship her for she is fabulous) offers some advice for those having trouble sleeping:

I have a saying: "Red before bed." A £3,99 bottle of Chilean Merlot gives you the best night's sleep in the world. It's like being hit over the head. I wake up ten hours later feeling like a spring lamb.
Isn't she just fabulous?

(Although the article doesn't relate if she ever gets her spring lamb.)


Can't believe I haven't blogged about this.

Betty Boo is due to release some new material in the coming weeks as she has teamed up with Alex James (the bassist from Blur) to form a band called "Wigwam".

Naturally Popjustice was all a-quiver at the news of a return. It's just the sort of thing we've been praying about for years. There was some worry that the lady herself would be using her real name - Alison Clarkson - but no... it seems she will be Betty Boo.

The first song, released on 6th March, will be called "Wigwam" and it's got to be said it's not at all what I expected. It's not a structured pop song, it doesn't have a typical Boo rap, and it doesn't make much sense at all. I mean "Checking out my wigwam, wigwam, wigwam. Checking out my boo, boo, boo" doesn't seem like a promising lyric does it?

Trouble is, though, it's still absolutely fucking brilliant. A powerhouse of a track with great guitar riffs, basses, organs and synths laying down a fantastically infectious and upstoppable groove. By the end of the first listen I was hooked. Each time I play it I love it that little bit more.

Their mySpace Page describes the sound as "Ridiculous Modern Pop Music" which I think just about sums them up.

It is quite simply utter genius.

Welcome back, Betty!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Please Leave a Message Because Rob is a Pratt

I've left my phone at home two days running this week. And then left it at work on another.

Now, aside from the admission of obvious klutziness on my part - I'm blaming tiredness, what with various commitments, dates, gigs and so on I've barely stopped for two weeks - I have to say I've found it to be something of a release.

It's not that I'm so popular it's a major drain on my time - far from it in fact, I barely get any traffic on it at all - but I have a peculiar relationship with phones generally and will often try to avoid answering or making a phone call at any costs.

I can only assume that my general reluctance to use a phone is related to my job in support where you naturally live in mortal fear of anyone contacting you because you're already as busy as all hell and don't need any more.

But there we go. I probably should make more of an effort to remember it in future. And I've actually managed it today so I suppose things are improving again.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Utterly Stunned

Thanks to Simon over at Hamilton's Brain for bringing this to my attention.

The Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill is quite simply the most terrifying proposal put forward by this government. Which considering some of the things its done is quite a feat in itself.

Thankfully it hasn't gone unnoticed - as this comment in The Times proves, but I am sufficiently angered and terrified by it to be giving over some spare brain capacity to writing a letter to my MP.

I urge you to do the same. They simply mustn't be allowed to get away with this.

No! No No No!

Despite what those cretins at the Brits say, James Blunt is not a pop act.

I mean... given my gag reflex any time I hear him I would raise an eyebrow about him being classed best new anything, but "pop act" is just laughable.

I mean, he's just not. Sugababes, Girls Aloud, Madonna, hell... McFly are pop acts. It's what pop is - fun frothy throwaway material that lasts three and a half minutes and lets you get on with your life.

Blunt is Middle of the Road. (And for me, Middle of the Road with Annoying Pronunciation and a Paralysingly Awful Falsetto at that.)

There are, doubtless, people who would argue that "pop" is a contraction of "popular" and that therefore given that he's shifted an upsettingly large number of records, he is therefore popular.

Yes. But then on that same logic Kylie's "I Should Be So Lucky" is an indie record. PWL was, after all, a small independent record company (and indeed was only formed because none of the majors wanted to licence what was clearly a hit).

But clearly to argue such is laughable. We know what we mean by the terms, but what we mean isn't what the words mean. Just as Kylie's early work isn't indie, Blunt's caterwaulings aren't pop.

Frankly the people at the Brits can just fuck off.

The dickwads.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Bloody Hell! 2

Okay, so I'm for the smoking ban.

This one on the other hand seriously worries me.

The devil of course will be in the detail. What exactly will be "glorifying terrorism"?

I don't trust any legislation that doesn't explicitly define what it means. It smacks of being left deliberately so it can be twisted by the authorities to shut embarassing people up.

"You oppose our tackling of a known terrorist nation! Therefore you support them and are are glorfying their actions! Quick! Lock him up!"

You'd have to be an idiot to follow that path of course. But fear tends to breed idiots anyway, and given you can't trust this government as far as you can vomit, I'm deeply concerned about their motives.

Bloody Hell!

I never thought they'd have the guts:

Personally, of course, I'm delighted. Although I now face a future in which nights in Retro bar don't end with me going home with my clothes stinking and my eyes stinging.

The outcry from smokers of course is that it's infringing their civil liberties.

I think they're probably right too.

Still... never mind, eh?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Downside of Fitness

This weekend I suddenly realised - and don't ask how, it was all perfectly innocent - that it was possible to get a fist down my waistband if I didn't do up my belt stupidly tight.

Now, for a moment I was pleased as punch with this development - it's all dropping off, after all - but it very quickly dawned on me that this means very soon I'll have to replace all my jeans and trousers.

Which, frankly, is gonna cost me a bloody fortune.

Bollocks. I knew there had to be a catch in all this fitness malarky.

Morning Face

I seem to be sleeping rather heavily at the moment and I'm not entirely sure why.

The evidence for this is the sudden waking up from deep and heavy slumber, stumbling around for a bit and then - when I finally manage to summon up the courage to look in the mirror - discovering crumpled lines down my face from the pillow.

Deep ones, though. Like someone's been etching my face.

They take about half an hour to finally bugger off - during which time I look like I've been got at in the past by an axe-wielding maniac.

I can only assume that suddenly I have lost all the elasticity in my skin. In about two weeks' time I'll probably look like Clive Dunn.

Monday, February 13, 2006

It's Nice to be Needed

"You must never," the message from the flatmate read, "leave the flat again".

Basically I spent the weekend at my aunt's because I hadn't seen her for a few weeks and her flat is actually nearer the two events I was partaking of over the weekend. One of those was the gig on Sunday and the other was a party in the St. Paul's area on the Saturday night.

The party incidentally was great fun. But it was a bit odd to realise that Murray Gold, Nicholas Courtney - better known as Doctor Who's Brigadier Alastair Gordon Lethbridge Stewart - and Stephen Moffat were amongst the other guests. (Naturally I adopted my usual star-struck approach and panicked, avoiding them like the plague the whole time they were there.)

So yes, by the time his text message was recieved on Sunday afternoon I had been in absentia from Highgate Towers for a good couple of nights.

But why should I never leave again? I felt the urge to read on...

"Last time:" it went on, "my passport goes missing and the boiler breaks".

This was all true. As well you know.

"This time: Telewest blows up and the cutlery drawer collapses."

Oh God, I thought, he's just not safe to be left on his own is he?

Apparently he put the washing machine on before he left home this morning so I'm fully expecting the place to be flooded by the time I get in.

Wonderful Electric

The conversation basically went like this:

Christina: "I've just randomly bought a couple of tickets for Goldfrapp on the 12th. You want to come?"
Me: "Oooh. Yes please."

(This officially counts as the quickest decision I have ever made. Many of you will not be surprised by this.)

So, yes. Last night it was that we piled into the slightly diapidated Brixton Academy to see what sort of show Goldfrapp would put on.

And what was it like? Well, I've got to say: that woman has no stage presence whatsoever. And there definitely seems to have been a charisma bypass somewhere along the line, which made her interactions with the audience somewhat lacklustre. In fact pretty much all of what she managed involved a few "thank you"s, a "how are you all doing" and at the end a "thank you, you've been the best".

That said, whenever I've heard her mouthing off in the past I've wished someone would tell her to belt up, so in some respects it's probably best that it was left to the music to speak for itself.

Although I didn't think that at the start. I get the distinct feeling that the first few numbers were taken from "Felt Mountain" (which I've heard once and thought was boring) and the lower-key filler tracks from "Black Cherry". After about twenty minutes of this I was beginning to regret being parted from twenty quid so easily.

And then all of a sudden it kicked in with some more meaty material, much to my relief. Stonker after stonker followed: Train, Beautiful - criminally relegated to B-side status rather than being on "Supernature" where it belongs - Slide In, Satin Chic, a gorgeously extended version of Ride a White Horse, Strict Machine, Black Cherry and, naturally, Ooh La La, for which the crowd unsurprisngly went wild.

Throughout all of it the beats, the floor vibrated under us and our spines juddered to some great squelchy rasping basslines. La Goldfrapp - general indifference to her audience aside - was by turns sultry and operatic (she does have an amazing vocal range). And around it all, the dancers vogued around in mirrored horse-heads, alsation masks and near full-frontal nudity. The lighting rig and screens went mad, dazzling us with colours, pulses, strobes and - as if that wasn't enough - finally millions of tiny pieces of gold paper showered down from the ceiling during the encore.

So, despite a rather dull start I finally left the gig with my appetite for brilliance sated, my ears ringing and the tunes running on loop round my head. And you can't say fairer than that, can you?

Mind you, I did wryly chuckle - as the lights came back up and we filtered out onto the streets - at the venue's choice of post-show music. Despite the undeniable campery of the spectacle we'd just seen, it was still topped by the playing of Dolly Parton's Nine to Five.

The sheer number of us singing along as we wandered out was a joy to behold.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Well, Who'd Have Thought?

Due to general physical pain emanating from my shoulder yesterday I decided that my appointment with the sadist was probably a bad idea. So I sent him a message and suggested that possibly we should wait until some vague approximation of movement was possible without me whimpering.

"Oh no," he replied. "You should still come in. I'll have a look at it and see what I can do."

I raised an eyebrow and thought, "well, I'll give it a go".

So I went in, he asked a couple of questions, made me stand and lie in a few odd positions while he pushed and pulled me, paid attention to what caused specific yelps, diagnosed the muscle group which was at fault and made me do a couple of odd exercises to get me moving again.

All of which resulted in it being pretty much instantly better.

Whatever else I may say about him (and believe me, I curse his very soul when he's working me over) there are times when I think the man's a genius.

I'm so pleased to be moving again that if I actually had any balance I'd try and cartwheel.

But since I don't and I can't, I won't.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

A Good Start

So first on awaking this morning I found myself pondering how the hell I can have managed to end up with sand in my belly-button overnight.

Then I actually try to get up and start yelping because of stabbing pains in my right shoulder any time I try and move.

From the odd to the agonising. What a great start to a Tuesday.

Monday, February 06, 2006

The March of Technology

I have increasingly been having a problem of a morning with starting up my computer and finding my internet connection is down. The only way to fix this is a reboot of both router and modem, and to be brutally frank, the last thing I want to do is burst into Chris' room of a morning for fear of finding him inflagrante and having one off the wrist.

Or worse.

But since work now require me to occasionally cover support from home from 7:00 it became increasingly apparent that the thing needed to be moved. So since Chris was away ski-ing I braved the bedroom, unhooked cables, pulled them round the sides of wardrobes, cable-tied them to take up less space, and braved myself to reconnect the modem.

Now, the last time this was done the builders damaged it somehow and when it was switched on there was an enormous bang and smoke started pouring from it. I was somewhat nervous of it this time therefore, but it powered up fine and I was most pleased.

So I switched on the router with a satisfied grin. Which quickly faded at the dazzling array of red lights the router then presented me with. I ran to my computer to start up the control panel for it and got no response. Somehow the move of ten feet into a cold hallway had caused the damn thing to break. So, swearing somewhat, I dashed off to PC World in Warren Street.

I shall draw a veil over that episode. Let's just say I don't like PC World and always aim to spend as little time in it as possible. This time I failed in this ambition due to the non-availability of staff who weren't glued to their mobile phones, but eventually got out without having grown significant amounts of stubble.

And as it turned out it took me longer to dispose of the packaging than it took me to set the new one up. I followed the instructions on the setup wizard and it did it all for me. This was in stark contrast to the last time which took an hour of crying and swearing and wading through manuals. And when the flatmate came back yesterday he didn't even notice anything had changed. This I regard as significant progress.

One novelty is that the router also has wireless capability. Naturally I have secured this to the highest level possible. I've seen too many unsecured networks in our area and there really is no excuse.

There are however, two rather tragic outcomes of this saga.

One is that I couldn't resist the urge to call the new network BADWOLF.

The other is that the silver box with the flickering lights is now just outside the bathroom of doom. Every time I emerge my mental activity sort of flatlines and it's all I can do not to go "oooh, shiny, sparkly light!"

You see, you don't need drugs if you're a geek. Trips can come from the simplest of things.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

By Order of the Manager

Visitors to the Lemon and Panda Public House in Highgate (as our bijou flat-ette has become known) will have encountered the random and unfortunate hellhole that is our bathroom.

This is it.

Horrid isn't it?

However, in eight - ten weeks' time our landlord has promised us a brand new one. White and chrome! Tiles! No overhangs! No shower curtain! An electric shower! No cracks! No peeling! No Green!

I'm positively tumescent at the very thought.

Sadly this now makes certain the fact that we have to get a cleaner in every week because I'm certainly not letting a spanking lovely bathroom slide into the flatmate's favoured state of grotty student shabbiness. And since I'm getting old and have little energy for these things, I'll be buggered if I'm doing it.

Getting a cleaner's been on the cards for a while. I was okay doing the bulk of the cleaning when I worked fewer hours, got in earlier, didn't wear myself out at the gym and so on. Now I need my weekends back to recover from the rigours of the week, so a cleaner it is.

If anyone has any reccomendations for a reputable (yet not too expensive) cleaning company, or personal recommendations for a cleaner in the Highgate area please let me know. Obviously they shouldn't be shocked by gay porn, Doctor Who magazine, or how many hair products my flatmate has.

They won't be required to hoover or clean the flatmate's room because it would take a team of ten men three weeks to locate any actual surfaces.

Fit young men prepared to work in nothing but a pinny are * not * necessarily required - we will be at work so there would be little point - but they can however apply to fill in at weekends if they so desire.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Guilty by Association

Oh God... it would have to be my bank wouldn't it?

The use of colloquialisms is exceedingly cheesy in my opinion. I like a certain amount of professional language in my institutions. It makes me feel they're more trustworthy for something as fundamental as cold hard cash. Trying to jazz it up a bit just makes me worry it's in unsafe and faintly flakey hands.

It's the decision not to chain the pens down though which makes me worry the most. They're going to regret that. And the cost of all the extra pens is going to be filtered down to me, I can tell.

Maybe I just have a jaded view of human nature, but I never exactly blamed them for having pens on string anyway. Is doing so untrusting? Maybe. But it's also extremely pragmatic.

I mean, you wouldn't expect to leave twenty pence on a counter and have it still be there when you came back now, would you?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

A Belated Birthday

Due to a somewhat hectic existence at the moment I completely forgot to publish this post last Friday. There it was, sitting in draft and I didn't go back and get it out there. But hey... better late than never.

What I was going to note was that Friday 27th January would have been (had he not died in 1898) the 174th birthday of one Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, perhaps better known as Lewis Carroll who of course write "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There".

As it happens he was also a keen photographer. I took a look at an exhibition of his work once as it happens and was a little stunned by it. Frankly there were some slightly disturbing pictures of the real Alice (Alice Liddell) that would have had him shopped to the police in seconds nowadays, but there we go. Different times I guess.

However, on a lighter note, he is regarded as the person who coined the word "chortle". It's a portmanteu word formed from "chuckle" and "snort" and is probably one of my favourite words ever.

And this, I feel, makes him rather note-worthy.