Friday, November 28, 2003

Ack ack ack. I feel unutterably shit. Someone stick a fork in my ass I'm done! last night involved pub, club, salsa, another club, Lucy's (fm1's sister).

So woke up this morning about 10am in a totally alien part of London in a bed other than my own. How did I get there? WTF knows. Was a brilliant night though - wouldn't change a moment. Except prehaps drinking all those cocktails that Dr Heartbreak kept buying. I can still taste Gran Marnier now. YAK.

I actually feel so bad I would go home if I could summon up the energy. Might have to have a doze . . .

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Just when you though the poster boy for numpty could sink no lower : David Blunkett as reported in The Guardian today :

"I have no desire to take children from their parents and put them in care unless it is an absolute last resort. I did not come into politics to be the King Herod of the Labour party."

My response to which is that if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck – it’s a duck. If DB doesn’t want to be known as a creepy alienating crypto-fascist (I can’t believe I just used the word crypto-fascist for real) then he should stop attempting to lock people up, take away their civil liberties and/or invade their countries. The sheer cheek of the man. When it was pointed out to him that taking children into care can only be done in the child’s best interests, and that doing so for any other reason is in fact illegal his response was :-

"Our obligations to the welfare of the child are paramount which means they would have to be taken into care if they were likely to suffer as a result."

When he says suffer here what he means is that the child’s parents have no benefits because they have been denied benefit on the orders of Blunkett, D and Blair, T. Sorry David, it just doesn’t work like that. The correct logic goes something like this: I wish to deny this person benefit, however, were I to do so their children would be likely to suffer to such an extent that a local government care order would have to be made, therefore I cannot deprive them of benefit. What DB is saying loud and clear to immigrants is “Fuck off home or I’ll take away your kids.” It’s beyond sick. Even Michael Howard won’t countenance it. This is a pandering on a massive level. Don’t believe me? It goes on :

Mr Blunkett says that the fact that more failed asylum seekers have been removed from the country than ever before is "good news for the left".

But he warns that unless the "necessary medicine" is swallowed and the backlogs and delays in asylum appeals and deportations are sorted out by the next general election then the BNP and the anti-immigration groups will "rub their hands with glee".

First, threatening the public in this way is despicable, ie saying “Come along with us for a little bit of light fascism or look what you might get instead. Whoooooh. Scary Nazis. Whoooh.” Second it is clear from the context that the “necessary medicine” is designed to appease those who might otherwise vote for the BNP! How desperate is new Labour to hold onto power? Is there any price they won’t pay? David, you are a Labour Home Secretary. It is not your place to be appeasing BNP wannabes. It is your place to tell them to stuff their hateful rubbish up their arses and fuck off while they’re doing it. And it’s all so unnecessary because Labour will win the next election easily anyway. Outside of the right wing scandal rags (cf Sun Mail Express), their more demented readers who would never vote labour anyway, Julie Burchill and a few coastal and northern towns no-one gives a stuff about asylum seekers. It’s so not the potential Chappaquiddick they seem to think it is. If you’d told me in 1997 that 6 years later I’d be writing this I wouldn’t have believed it. But that’s New Labour all over - 6 years on and none of us can believe it.

Alright - laying Gulf2 on DB’s shoulders seems a tad excessive, but he’s been perfectly happy to go along with it – in fact him and Tone are practically joined at the hip. It seems impossible to imagine these days that pre 1997 Robin Cook was the third most important person in New Labour and where is he now? Cast out and ridiculed because he couldn’t stomach the appalling river of shite issuing forth from No 10 and had the balls to say so.

In fact TB seems to be showing dangerous signs of Stalinisation, not including his desire to rule forever. Tony’s Loyalty Test seems to consist of coming up with ever more extreme, right wing and ideological nonsense, announcing it as essential policy and waiting to see what happens. Anyone who then dares to criticise whatever bobbins he’s come out with is hauled off to the Lubyanka and the most toadying slavish arse lickers are rewarded post haste. Let’s face it – there is simply no other explanation for the excressence known as ‘Dr’ John Reid is there?

I don’t want to get too carried away because lets face it, they’re not all bad, and there are quite a few members who still seem to have their wits about them, although obviously they have to disguise this as much as possible. However TB has to go. He just has to go. He’s lost the plot completely and I really do think it’s time for an early tea and up the wooden hill to The House of Lords. Actually I don’t think the House of Lords will be with us much longer. Tone has managed to get rid of all the crusty old Tory buffers (aka the Hereditary Peers) and filled the place up with his grim faced cast-offs. Given that the place is possibly now even less democratic than it ever was (working on the principle that some peers presumably owned estates & factories and tried to represent these interests both personally and in terms of their employees) which is quite a triumph for authoritarianism. As a result I don’t think he’ll have much trouble arguing that all it is now is an un-elected and unnecessary quango and can be disbanded once and for all.

Ick! Feeling a bit poy. Broke my not drinking during the week rule. Again. Actually got home at a reasonable-ish hour (12.45) but it would have been a lot earlier if I hadn’t got on the wrong bus. It did in fact take me to where I was going but by such a circuitous route that it would definitely have been quicker to walk.

Problem is that if I’ve been out I normally can’t sleep, so even though I didn’t drink any more after having got home I still didn’t get to sleep till after 3, hence late for work, feel a bit shit etc etc.

The reason for being out was Dr Heartbreak’s birthday which took place at The Fish Shop, Angel. I can heartily recommend it as it was a really very pleasant place to consume. Me : Oysters (shared with Jules), mackerel fillets w/ aubergine puree, treacle tart w/ clotted cream. Plus naturally own bodyweight in wine. And we were treated to a rare and gracious visit from his nobleness Mr Jones. Obvs he couldn’t stay more than an hour or so, but long enough to suck down a few tumblers of pop and generally dispense largesse amongst the peasants. Jones news : he is currently deeply into The Darkness and the Lowestoft sound (paid £65 each for tickets) and, unrelatedly, appears to be doing his level best to pass himself off as David Dickinson. He was also, unless I am much mistaken, wearing a Selwyn tie. Ack. Stev and Jones of course were unable to pass the evening without a little ritual antler clashing and scent marking, except that the battleground is no longer the simple testosterony place of yesteryear. Stev’s look of appalled horror when Jones admitted feeding his kids KFC Chicken Popcorn was a delight and a masterstroke.


Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Actually following on from the tirade of questions below, I have another one. If the government, via whatever means, pays £è per annum towards washing machines for doleys, å% of which then purchased are manufactured within the EU, does this count as an £(è x å)/100 subsidy to the washing machine indusrty under GATT / WTO rules??

I was just looking at entitledto again and it has a whole bunch more stuff in it than I originally saw. What is particularly noticeable is that when you are within the site everything works, it's clean, it's fast, but as soon as you follow an outside link to some government or council site the whole thing grinds to a halt – both technically and informationally. I guess we could assume two things from this. 1) The government is quite bad at explaining and administering it’s own benefits system, and 2) The government is pretty crap at doing technology things.

Which leads me on to thinking about why some things work and others don't. Entitledto seem to be good at getting their message across because a) they actually understand the system and b) they have no hidden agenda – they are free to tell it like it is. Let's face it there's always a conflict within government about benefits. While politically there are pressures to trumpet their benefits largesse (unless you’re a Tory) there are also fiscal pressures to reduce benefit claims. It really isn’t a hard step to imagine a national government campaign encouraging people to apply for benefits they are entitled to while at the same time dole office managers are being told they have too many scroungers so they need to weed out the chaff.

It’s fair to say that the days of just turning up and expecting some cash from the government are well and truly over, but does the benefits system really need to be so bizarrely complex. One can somehow believe that it’s made that way deliberately. The underlying principles are not in and of themselves necessarily that complex. After all, entitledto’s benefit calculator manages to work stuff out from just a few simple questions, but it is inconceivable that any government department would ever adopt such a simple approach to judging, calculating and adjusting benefit.

I guess to some extent that is because the government is partly concerned with detecting fraudulent claimants hence all the additional hoops to jump through, but surely there must come a point whereby additional bureaucracy and security is actually more expensive than less. Ie the cash saved by detecting fraudulent claimants is less than the cost of the system it took to detect them. Of course there are other factors such as ‘pour encourager les autres’ but this must surely have been looked at in some detail. I would hope that there are rubrics and methodologies within place in government to be able to scientifically judge when it is a good idea to stop with the questions and just pony up. What am I talking about? This kind of stuff is hard to do within sane and relatively prosperous organizations. Chances of it happening in government? Errrmmm . . .

Which kinda leads onto the question of how are benefits decided in the first place. If we assume that the extent to which claimants are investigated is based more upon political whim and available resource than any scientific approach to maximising payment while minimising fraud, how on earth are the rules for those entitlements and the level of entitlement arrived at in the first place.

Again you have conflicting pressures from within government. On one level (ie that of getting elected) you want to champion ‘the people’ and promise them all kinds of benefit increases, and increased means of access, while on another level (that of having been elected) you want to keep as much money as possible to yourself. Part of this has to be with shifting perspective – when you are in opposition it’s ‘The governments money which they have cruelly extorted from The People and they should give back.’ When you’re in power its suddenly ‘My money that those feckless bastards the great unwashed wish to steal from me to fritter away on scratch cards and Embassy No1.’ (© ‘What Tony Really Thinks TM ’). So between the demands of the electorate, departmental spending demands and The Treasury’s not so secret desire to outlaw all spending that cannot be proved to be benefiting growth how on earth do you work out what payment a long term doley in Port Sunshine should get towards his new washing machine?

So how is this worked out? Are the laundering and tumble drying requirements of our Welsh denizens carefully tabulated and cross referenced against average white goods lifespan and second hand cost and re-sale value? Or is this sort of thing more influenced by some toad getting on his hind legs in The House and asking the government if it was aware that last year HM Government spent £62 M on washing machines for feckless wasters? You decide.

And what about NI payments? I’m really fairly in the dark on this one but here’s the question. For the last 50 years (12 years in my case) the Great British Public has been paying 9.8% of everything it earns into this bottomless pit from which supposedly come government pensions, sickness cover, unemployment benefit etc etc. And yet for the last 15 years, reading between the lines, ministers have been telling us that this pit is, in fact, completely empty. Where did the money go? Show me the money!

So I guess my supposition is this:- Politicians like to dangle the carrot of benefit in front of us during election time. However as they well know the money to pay for all this simply doesn’t exist, so in an attempt to stop them having to reach into their own (ie current taxes) pocket to pay for what they’ve promised they make the benefit system as complex, inflexible and non user friendly as possible. There can really be no other explanation for why people such as entitledto are able to simply calculate your benefits when such answers would be completely impossible to extract from any government department or agency.

Does any of this make sense?

Coming to work this morning there were the usual crowds of idiot kids bunging up the trains gabbling away. It makes me wonder if they actually believe the crap they're telling eachother. This, btw, is really about the blokes. I mean the mounds of obvious lies they're telling eachother about what drugs they took and how much they drank, and how they fronted down some other kid, and of course about how much action they're getting and all these chicks that just can't resist them.

They don't seem to show any sign that they think it's anything less than the sacred truth - are they genuinely that gullible - I mean they can't be can they?? Hasn't it occurred to them that if they themselves are making it up then so, mostly, is everyone else? And they are making it up. It's sheer unadulterated teenage fantasy - endless going out getting pissed and fighting plus non stop ladeez action. Sometimes they fight with the Police but get away cos the police is stupid, right, and believe what they is told. Sheesh.

But you're all 17. You attend Hertford Community College and you all live with your Mums. What up?

The girls are, to be honest, better. When it's just them they seem to talk about what their friends said/did, what they siblings said/did, what they plan to do that evening, why such and such a teacher said that to so and so, who tried to chat them up etc etc etc. It's all a bit more factually based.

Of course when they are together all bets are off and it's a non stop screech fest of strutting and hair flicking and 'oy'-ing and shrieking and stealing someone's folder and throwing someone's cap around.

It's actually quite sweet except when I have a hangover. When do you become too old to think that poking someone in the ribs and stealing their coat is a reasonable expression of amorous intent?

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

If I actually did everything I was supposed to do along the lines of getting enuf sleep, abloutions, proper breakfast and lunch etc I would have exactly 2½ hours / day to achieve all other aspects of my life : laundry, cleaning (oh ho ho fucking ho), reading, shopping, goggling slack jawed at the teev, gender research studies, eating, gaming, going to the pub, gazing hopefully in the fridge/cupboards 16 times a night and last but not least bitching behind my flatmates back.

How do I fit it all in? Yes you're right - my flat's filthy and so am I. I'm knackered, ignorant and I wag off work early, but apart from that I'm just a master of efficiency :)

BTW everyone is getting presents from spamgift this Xmas.

Another day another dollar. I went to bed at 10.30 last night, no alcohol, and I still couldn’t get up till 7.45. Suppose waking up at 2.30 and eating a bunch of stirfry out of the fridge didn’t help.

Also I am so completely broke at the moment. This is mostly, in fact entirely, because I haven’t been paid for weeks, because I forgot to submit an invoice one week, there was a problem the next week, you know, and suddenly there’s no more money :(

Either way I won’t get paid till next Monday so a week of sobriety and self control beckons. Plus I’m supposed to be going to Dr Heartbreak’s birthday tomorrow, which always ends up being quite expensive & going Salsa dancing (of all things) with Claire Chappie on Thurs. Will have to do that, I guess, as is all for charidee. I have never ‘salsa-ed’ in my life and don’t intend to start now. Maybe my sister would like to come . . . she can salsa.

Here’s a depressing thought. Xmas is only 1 month away. I suppose that to people under 11 the thought of Christmas is not an immediately depressing one, but I’m sure it is for most other people. Let’s face it if you’re an adult and the prospect of Christmas fills you with a happy glow of expectant excitement you are either freakishly lucky or just a freak. Either way you’re part of the problem not the solution. The Captain is, I believe, actually hiding this year to avoid having to go to his in-laws, and who can blame him. I’m dreading it more than anything – I don’t know why, it just fills me with horror.

I think part of the problem is that if you spend it with your family you are willy-nilly forced back into some former role that has been redundant for years, and so is everyone else, so this bizarre uncomfortable ritual is acted out that becomes increasingly surreal and frankly creepy as the years go by – a bit like the state opening of parliament. About every 30 years there is some major sea change upheaval and everything starts round again.

And as for those fecking Xmas adverts on the telly.. Horrible happy 30/40 something families with 2.4 grinning brats with shiny bowl cuts and a couple of be-slippered grey haired septagenarians simpering in the background. I really resent this portrayal of the 70+ generation as some sort of tag-along universally grinning pocket money machines whose major functions in life is to produce slightly amusing but heart warming pieces of homespun wisdom and consume jumpers. In my experience typical grandparently conversation gambits are just as likely to be along the lines of :- ‘died after taking ecstasy – good!’ or ‘Send ‘em all back – that’s what I say’ or ‘and then I had to have all my teeth pulled out in one go. My gums were just rotting away, see. Rotting away they were. Look!’ as they are to be ‘So tell me about being Captain of the football team, Timmy’. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. After all I think we’d probably all rather have a bad-tempered shouting match about government immigration policy or The Metropolitan Police’ drug tolerance program than listen to little Timmy bang on about the under-8s goal difference.

Am I Scrooge (if you are American insert ‘The Grinch’ (whatever that is) here)? I just don’t like Christmas because I think the way it is promoted and force-fed to us by our media institutions is such a distorted travesty of what it should or could be that it would be better to just do away with the whole thing and return to a simpler and more equitable age :- A half day off for the under-7s and enforced church for everyone.

In fact I think Americans have a better idea. They seem to get most of their family trauma out of the way at Thanksgiving so that Christmas can be spent as it was intended – shopping. Actually I spent Thanksgiving 2000 in New York. I hardly spoke to a single person all day, just read in my hotel room, wandered the streets for hours and went to the cinema off Times Square. It was brilliant – I felt like Travis Bickel.

I feel so much better for having had a nice sour rant about something. Actually my Christmas plans are well advanced this year in that I have found the perfect gift for my father. This isn’t a joke by the way. I wonder if it helps that my family are, by and large, pretty much teetotal anti-smokers. I must suffer the day sober and without more than the very occasional cigarette but it does help to keep the overall emotional temperature down to something more manageable.

Speaking of ads I hate the ones of blokes who can’t work washing machines / cook while glowing knowing blonde ‘wife’ exchanges ‘aren’t men stupid / loveable’ looks with her best friend. Arrggggghh. Those really make my teeth ache. Equally bad are the ‘Offer women shopping / chocolate / shoes and they lose their senses completely’ Grrrrrrr. Who writes this crap. In fact I have never met anyone who behaved like anyone in an advert ever. Just think – you could be the ad exec who managed to create realistic non-stereotypical people in their ads. You would be feted beyond the dreams of man. Fat chance.

In fact I have to get off this topic before my head explodes.

Monday, November 24, 2003

I couldn’t make it up. Received mail this afternoon:-

Hi all,

We're working to improve our processes. In so doing, we'd like to know what you perceive as bureaucracy in IT Finance.

Please provide your feedback to me asap but no later than Monday, 11/30/03.


xxxxxx x xxxxxxx
Sr. Financial Analyst
IT Finance

I’m not even in IT Finance.

Having said all that they are shockingly bureaucratic. Theoretically I should fill in 3 forms every day & 1 weekly just to get paid. However trial and error has taught me that 2 forms filled in on a weekly basis has exactly the same effect if you’re happy to click through a blizzard of calendar reminders asking why you haven’t done such and such a form every time you log on.

I just don’t think an anti bureaucracy drive commencing with a global email asking for feedback is really the right tool to for this particular job. Maybe I could get on the Anti Bureaucracy Selection Panel (ABSP) and from there the Steering Committee (ABSC) and from there . . .

Vanessa relates how she saw her neighbour in his pants and he saw her; also in her undies. This would be kind of like a nightmare for me - although of course it's unlikely to ever happen. Of my 3 neighbours Mrs A is widowed, at least 65 and I have never seen her wearing anything other than a black dress and a shawl. Mrs C also lives alone but has a daughter who visits her sometimes. They are both lovely to chat to though sometimes you get the idea that Mrs A is a bit nervous and frankly living where I do this seems pretty reasonable. Actually Mrs C is a bit odd too. My ex flatmate was once talking to Mrs A about the fire alarm and happened to see through her flat to the bedroom. Around the bed were at least a dozen straight backed chairs - all facing the bed, and on each chair was a doll or teddy bear looking at the bed.

Right next door is K. Actually as we share a light-well the chances of accidental viewage would be quite high if she wasn't so mysterious that I don't know anything more about her than that - her name begins with K and she might be French. Given that we share a landing door and most of the time can be no further apart than 5 metres this might seem odd, but she is a real mystery. We hardly ever see her arrive or leave. In fact I've had 3 convs with her in 18 months :

1) When she arrived we went round and invited her for a drink (her : "Yes a 'coffee' sometime would be fine". As if)
2) When she locked us all out using the Chubb security button and refused to answer her intercom
3) Confusion over her electricity meter.

It's actually quite sad as she was recently burgled but didn't even say anything to us then - we only found out as we have the same landlord. I always say hi to her on the very rare occassions I see her on the stairs, but communication is not encouraged. Perhaps I'm a nosy neighbour - after all living in London does give you carte blanche to ignore your neighbours utterly. It's one of the benefits, and sometimes prerequistes of living here. Oh yeah - and she makes the most delicious dinner smells. And that's it.

Although thankfully I have never seen any of my current neighbours in a state of undress this has not always been the case. Many moons ago I lived in a shared house in Finsbury Park and one day we got a large envelope in the post with just our house number on. So we opened it up and there were lots of pictures inside of this group of friends, their house, their cat, them in the forest somewhere, them in the forest with no clothes, them in a pool in the forest with no clothes (not swimming, just standing), them in a pool in the forest with no clothes posing as Robin & Marion (+ assorted merry men).

Nothing naughty - just a bunch of friends playing (as one does) Naked Robin Hood. This was fine, merely some random postage; until we recognised the cat and realised it had to be one of the neighbours. Eventually after much "is that the corner of a shed" style conversation and peering out of our windows we worked out where they lived and late at night pushed the photos through their letterbox - but it was completely obvious that the envelope had already been opened and all the photos well looked through.

What else could we have done - introduced ourselves in the pub? "Oh sorry –these came to us by accident and it’s taken us 2 weeks of detailed forensic analysis to work out who you are with your clothes on. By the way when are you next going away for the weekend?" It's a nice thought tho . . .

Gosh - it only takes a few days not blogging and suddenly you feel like a stranger ;-) Actually that's the way with all technology - a few days off work, you don't check your email, the thought of birthday is so depressing you have to stay in bed; then your family turn up and it all really goes to hell.

Anyway if you're not careful; what with being away from work, and avoiding consciousness at all times you're not in active family engagement mode its incredibly easy to spend nearly a whole week without any kind of on-line interaction at all. Weird I know but hey . . . it's not all bad.

Actually my family were pretty good despite making me go to Fortnum's. Why this is bad is hard to explain exactly. Anyone who doesn't live in London will be saying - "Well, a shop that sells tea and marmalade and Christmas pudding - I can understand the torture there!" It's just something no self respecting urbanite would do. Seriously there must be some (even many) Londoners who do go to Fortnum's, it's just something I myself wouldn't do.

Why not? I don't think that saying it's just a fashion thing is enough - it's a tribal thing. Fortnum's feel like . . . enemy territory. Which is crazy cuz I like cinnamon tea and black sugar and little earthenware pots of stilton as much as the next man. I'm still shuddering at the sign : "This way to the Christmas Hamper Department" Ack ack ack! Do not run! We are your friends!

But apart from that it was all pretty cool - I even enjoyed the "Pre-Raphaelite & Other Masters" at the RA (If I added that this is Andrew Lloyd Webbers personal collection you start to get the jist . . . anyway there were a couple of interesting piceces

I hadn't come across before (John Brett) as well as all the usual junk by Rosetti.

Boy did he ever have a one track mind . . . and of course quite a bit of one of the more intersting of the lot : Edward Byrne-Jones.

I think I like his personal style the most and additionally he worked in multi-media (for the day) ie mosaics, furniture and particularly tapestry. As the latter was all done with William Morris I can only assume he must have been some sort of big lefty as well.

So family pretty good all things considered. I think after last weekend's Liverpool Incident it's all a bit kid gloves in case I've got a pump-action secreted about my person ;-) Oh yeah - I should add that every single trip out was accompanied by a non stop deluge of rain. If ever there was a weekend for staying glued to the sofa at home with a Buffy box-set and an urn of hot chocolate this was it. Cold. Wet. Grey. Miserable. Bag of Shite.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Ha ha - I've come up with one potential plan : lie in the bath smoking and drinking beer all night.

As the offy down the road from me sells Stella/Grolsch/1664 at £5 for 6 (bargain!) all this can be achieved for under a tenner . . .

Nothing doing today. No creative feeling at all - nothing. Actually I feel strangely tired which is odd seeing as I must have got 7 hours sleep minimum last night and only woke up once about 3 . . . weird. But I can hardly keep my eyes open. Put it this way I've been reduced to listening to Mozart (K299) in an attempt to stay awake.

Actually I think it is more the fact that I'm actually trying to concentrate on what I'm doing; which is re-testing legacy knowledge nodes for current compliance both at an application and server level. Fuck - I think I just bored myself to death.

I always feel like this whenever an evening of staying in and watching the telly looms. Is it just me or does that seem like no way to soend your life - wathcing the teev?

There of course are things I should be doing :-

a) Writing my novel.
b) Writing my screenplay.
c) Cleaning the flat with special reference to my bedroom.
d) Disposing of the scary soup (yes it's still there!!)
e) Laundry
f) Learning Japanese
g) Learning how to draw
h) Learning Perl.
i) That's it. Everything else comes into the category of 'no real intention of ever doing it' (reading Mikhail Bulgakov's diaries), 'can't do it due to lack of equipment' (going to the gym) or 'don't know how to do it' (find some meaning in the last 3 years).


This is nasty. My colleagues were goggle eyed :) Courtesy of TowerofHubris

BTW I was right about no-one wanting to come to Kentish Town on a Thursday. Looks like it's going to be North Londoners Only.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Today’s food intake (so far)

1 x Salad (Broad beans, Chick Peas, Sweet Corn, Butter Beans, Kidney Beans, Flagelot Beans, Cabbage, Balsamic)
2 x Apple
4 x Cup of tea.
1 x Hot Chocolate

This is so insanely good for me I want to eat something bad just to get myself off this ridiculous ‘health podium’. I didn’t eat a lot over the weekend either, tho I think the amount of alcohol I managed to consume on Thurs & Fri more than made up for that.

Speaking of which it is (yet again) my birthday on Thursday. How old? Too fucking old. Anyway I think I will have some sort of outing, but haven’t quite decided where to go yet. As I enjoyed my recent trip to The Pineapple I might go there again – can’t get too many people in there, but frankly, who’s going to come out on a Thursday night in Kentish Town anyway?

GODDAM DIDO and her stupid mofo record company. Her new CD launches this dumbass anti-theft player on your machine which while it plays her stuff OK then totally buggers up everything else when you try to close it leaving me clicking literally dozens and dozens of repeat warnings about what kind of disk is in drive D. FUCK OFF. FUCK OFF. FUCK OFF!

According to those whacky dudes at quizilla, apparantly I'm 'shit'. I feel uninclined to remonstrate with them.

your shit.

What swear word are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Forgot to say - Phil was on Money Box on Saturday. Yay! He was talking about his new site entitledto and came across sounding very cool indeed. If I'd been doing it I'd have been gabbling like a lunatic and tripping over myself. Check it out.

Oh yeah - 3 things I've now remembered from The Weekend :-

1) The thing about Phil
2) Apparently dog's mouths are just teaming with germs
3) The dream I had on Saturday night.

Pan's Dream

I was living on this beautiful, mountaineous tropical island running a small theatre / household provisions shop with my oldest school friend, Joe. I don't remember much about the theatre except that it was very small and very velvety but the shop had lots of wooden shelves and compartments and sold food stuff in beautiful antique packages and glass bottles.

All my friends and family (what a surprise) kept coming in and the only down side seemed to be that due to flooding the store room had been redesigned as an oriental water garden. This meant that you had to go about on stilts to get anything and Joe kept dropping bottles of whisky and olive oil in the water. In the afternoon we went to a nearby hilltop to watch these very tall, very futuresistic red and white appartments blocks growing out of the seashore and then launching their top halfs into space.

Later on we went back to my appartment, which had a lot of plain polished wood and beige furninshings in a Pierce Brosnany sort of way, and Katrina was there. Over the course of the evening people started drifiting away and going home until it was 8 or 9pm and I knew that as Katrina didn't live on the island she must be planning to stay the night with me. So after everyone else had gone I asked her if she was going to stay with me and she told me that if she did she'd want to stay with me for the rest of her life, so she had to leave, which is exactly what she then did.

I so needed that dream.

I know it’s contrary to the spirit of blogging but I simply cannot bring myself to explain the horror of the weekend. Put it this way – I am deeply, deeply ashamed of myself and the thought of Christmas where all my family will be fills me with the terror of the Pit of Despair.

Aaarggggggxxxhhhhh Aaraggggxghhhg Agagagggrrrgg !!!!!!!!!!!!

Well actually it could be worse – nobody died after all – and all that’s really been confirmed is that I’m a terrific waster with no more common sense than the average participant in “Ibiza Uncovered”.

OK – enuf of that. Congrats to England XV on sticking it to the French 24-7. This is particularly pleasing after enduring a week of the world’s press saying England were completely washed up and didn’t have a cat in hell’s chance. I guess it shows again what everyone really knows but still seems to forget in the heat of the jingoism : at this level winning at rugby isn’t about flamboyance and style – it’s about rigid discipline and grinding down the opposition without ever giving in to the temptation to go ‘off piste’. It’s not pretty but if you want to win that’s what you have to do.

Well I think that’s a first – me talking about sport in my blog. I feel ever so macho. Am somewhat reminded of RuPaul’s line from But I’m A Cheerleader : “That’s it you guys! If I catch any of you doing anything like that again – you’ll be watching sports all weekend long!”


Saturday, November 15, 2003

So waht do I know. From yesterday. New pieces of information to meet me :

1) I have *no* self control. this we know already technicaly
2) I'm drunk
3) I have to getvup in 3.5 hours
4) Kim snores
5) Something about Phil but I really can't remember waht

Next : Liverpool

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Why does Coke say on the side “Best Served Ice Cold”. What is the Coca Cola Company trying to tell us – apart from the obvious – what is the subtext? That we’re too stupid to know how to drink Coke, that Coke taste shit when it’s warm, what?

I personally think it’s something to do with their brand image and all those $bn spent on images of beautiful young people glugging back the brown stuff on hot days with plenty of ice and/or condensation beads. The subtext is ‘Feeling hot & thirsty? – Coke will help because it’s cold’. The connection you are supposed to make is that in warm conditions when we drink most soda, Coke is a better product to choose because it is in some way ‘colder’ than its rivals. Obviously it isn’t - it’s exactly the same temperature as any other drink in the cooler, but you perceive it as such because of all those ice filled commercials with sweaty teens getting ‘refreshed’. And that’s why they tell you on the bottles to drink it ice cold – because then it reinforces their marketing better.

So basically every time someone drinks a Coke without ice / straight from the cooler – what they are actually saying is ‘Fuck you Coca-Cola Company! You’re drink is the same as everyone else’ – sweet, fizzy, fine in it’s way, but basically just a drink’

It’s interesting that I can’t think of single soda advertising campaign that concentrates on the product itself rather than it’s lifestyle implications with the possible exception of Dr Pepper. Coke, Pepsi, Sprite, Tango whoever – mostly they just show you lifestyle images of varying degrees of naffness and then say ‘drink this because it will in some undefined way make you cooler / more attractive.’ OK some exceptions but I did only say concentrates didn’t I? Tango is probably the nearest with the ‘Hit of the Whole fruit’ and pictures of oranges but it’s so tangled up with enforced ‘wackiness’ the orange bit is entirely obscured – possibly not on purpose . . . Sprite has it’s ‘There is no image – obey your thirst’ schtick but I’m just not buying it. The images used to promote the ‘no image’ line are themselves media hip and again the tag line has no reference to the product’s performance as compared to a competitor : saying that a liquid is thirst quenching hardly differentiates it from it’s competitors. No – it’s just a more cynical ‘lifestyle’ ad campaign. Coke – enuff said, and Pepsi is little different these days, though for many years they did have the ‘Pepsi Challenge’ which was definitely product driven, although it would probably have been just as effective for them to run adverts with David ‘Kid’ Jensen spitting mouthfuls of Coke onto the floor and then shouting ‘that tastes like shit!’ I always hated the stupid mock surprise on those idiots faces – ffs you’ve gone shopping and some low grade celeb and a tv crew start offering you different glasses of cola to try. That the fuck d’you think is inside the tube? Where’ve you been for the last 5 years? Azerbaijan? Where incidentally they now have plenty of both Coke and Pepsi. But anyway that was all long ago.

IMHO the only people still pluggin away with the qualities and benefits of their drink are Dr Pepper. I know it’s odd given that their ads are pretty much a non stop peon to the American Dream – stoops, proms, cheerleaders, prison, but it’s meant ironically (or sort of ironically – I think you’re meant to buy in as well) and the main point is that you have to taste the stuff and then all sorts of good / bad things happen. Either way the focus is on swilling it round your mouth and experiencing Dr P’s unique attributes, hence despite the fact that there is possibly less of the product actually on display than in nearly all other beverage ads it is still the only one that is purely product driven.

You might disagree with me about the Tango ads but I stand by my guns. They’re basically saying ‘Whacky crazy fun people, people LIKE YOU, drink our product.’ The ‘Whole Fruit’ tagline is just to hang your product recall on, whereas Dr P is saying ‘Just try it you big losers. It’s different we know but you may just like it’. Of course Dr Pepper advertising also implies that if you do like it you are then part of some sort of initiated beatnik counterculture society, but hey – you can’t have everything.

True to form The Sun's take on the id card business was a joy as ever. Although not making the front cover the headline was still a treat : "WHAT A GOOD IDEA". Wankers.

I’m beginning to think I ought to have a separate section in this blog just to document what I eat. Actually I was really good last night, didn’t eat too much of the mystery soup I made on Monday. I’ve begun to go off it and think it’s probably past its sell by anyway. But there is still tons of it left. If you ever need to feed 10 hungry people for no money this is how you do it:

8 x Oily fish (mackerel / sardines)
1 x 500g Packet pearl barley
1 x Stem Celery
2 x Onion
1 x Hot chile
5 x Garlic clove
2 x Pint vegetable / fish stock
Sesame Oil

Gut fish and reserve heads, tails and roe. Place these in a saucepan of water and simmer. Lightly fry fish to allow easy removal of bones and reserve flesh and any crispy pieces of skin. Finely chop celery, onion & soften in a frying pan with the sesame oil. Remove fish heads and tails and place the remaining broth & roe in a large cooking pot. Add the remaining ingredients except the barley, and 4 pints of water. Simmer for ~1 hour. Add the barley and simmer for ½ an hour – 45 minutes topping up as needed. Season.

I concocted this on Monday (although the proportions were a bit different). I think with bread it really would feed 10 people, provided of course they weren’t complete lard arses / Antarctic explorers and will definitely cost less than £10 to make.

Anyway, I’m sick of it now. When there’s only one of you eating it because your flatmates are shying away from it like you offered them a bowl of Nero’s whiz (what’s wrong with them??) it does go on a bit. And on and on and on. In fact just thinking about it sitting in it’s cauldron on top of the cooker is giving me the wig a bit.

So actually I wasn’t being ‘good’ when not eating all that soup, I simply couldn’t face more than 2 bowls of it. So I has a few slices of soda bread with extra runny camembert and a couple of cans of Grolsch to make up for it.

Does anyone want any soup?

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

I love this from The NC Experiment As she points out 'Geeks are cool', and I think, in this particular case at least she is correct:-

I know that nicking stuff off other people's blogs is not very creative, but I don't care really.

What isn't cool is hanging around Camden at 11.15 at night. Sure - it's pub chucking out time, and sure it's Camden but is that really any justification for the sheer concentration of street people there. And I'm not talking about yer standard homeless, but more your aggressive, alcoholic, glue sniffing type. Stopping walking for 10 seconds means almost being certainly accosted for drug money by some scary walking cirhossis. It's really quite horrible, but because it's Camden people just seem to blank it out - all just part of the scenery. Brrrr.

Frustrated Writer has pointed me in the direction of this little gem - now you too can go cruising with celebrities. No, no, this is absolutely for real. The only dilemma would be in choosing which celebrity to go cruising with. I think I would pick Erik Estrada from Chips. I like the way he spells his name with a K - very manly. Failing that Dirk Benedict is a shoo-in. Tickets still available for 2004.

Went to see In The Cut yesterday. Have to say it was a very mixed/shit bag. Was alarmed about existential crapness levels right at the beginning by this exchange:


There was a petal storm this morning.


I saw it – I was dreaming. I thought it was a snowstorm.


Are you happy when you wake up?



It got better towards the end but most things simply appeared ridiculous. I practically lived in New York for a year, and tough in parts it may be, but nobody has the amount of bristling street-cred sexual game playing aggression which is apparently the mode du jour for any 30 something urban dweller in this universe. Murder detective Ruffalo asks English teacher Ryan some questions about a murder. Then asks her to go to a bar with him. Despite having shown no sympathy for him, or indeed interest in him at all she agrees, and even changes into a slinky little strappy number. The conversation goes something like this:


I’ll be your boyfriend, I’ll do whatever you want, lick your pussy. Only thing I won’t do is beat you up.


Why does your partner carry a water pistol?

I can only assume that the audience weren’t laughing because they were asleep. In all fairness it did get better once the film began to show signs of growing a plot, albeit a sub sub (yawn) serial killer one, but really – don’t bother. Plus of course, even in a film like this which has pretences of social realism we are still inhabiting that bizarrest of Hollywood worlds; the one where neither Jennifer Jason Leigh nor Kevin Bacon can get a date because they’re so gosh darned unattractive.

As for all that crap about poems on the subway – wtf was that all about. And let’s not even get started on the ‘To The Lighthouse’ references.

In summary : It Stinketh.

Well I guess I'll be writing to my MP about the id card business. Not that it'll do any good, but at least it shows you actually give a rat's ass.

Actually, as it turns out, my MP is Jeremy Corbyn, one of the so called 'awkward squad' so at least I can be reasonably sure that I won't be dismissed out of hand for daring to question The Dear Leader. It is safe to say that Mr Corbyn is definitely not afraid to stick his head above the parapet - little chance of a PPS for him in the near future. Or ever in fact.

I suppose that when you are sitting on a 13,000 majority, get on with your constituency party and have no hope of ever achieving ministerial rank it allows you to act according to your conscience rather more than the average aparachik.

Of course for all I know Mr Corbyn might be a rabid supporter of id cards but this article from the current issue of Socialist Campaign Group News would tend to indicate he wouldn't be a natural supporter :-

" The new session of parliament will see yet another attack on asylum seekers and their rights. This time the Home Office is planning to restrict asylum seekers to one single appeal in the legal process, further removal of benefit rights for those whose initial application has been rejected and a sinister ‘right’ of the Asylum Regulator to enter solicitor’s offices to search for documents. "

Or at the very least it'll take more than The Poster Boy for Twat, David Blunkett getting on his hind legs in the HP to say 'Trust me - only those with something to hide need be afraid' to convince him.

Speaking of DB there is a lovely quote from the Guardian cover story today :-

" The home secretary [... DB ...] could not resist chuckling over how the cabinet ID card revolt led by the chancellor, Gordon Brown, and the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, had been faced down. "That's the beauty of collective decisions. When you make a collective decision, they apply collectively," he said. "

Sticking it to Gordon is one thing. Crowing about it in the national press is surely an indication of over-confidence. Or perhaps insanity. Blunkett with Blair's hand up his back may be able to outflank Gordon but frankly mate, I don't fancy your chances much if The Dear Leader's benevolent gaze whould wander for whatever reason. Simon Hoggart, again writing in the Guardian picked up on the same theme :-

" Gordon was not present at his own humiliation. But he is not one for laughing such things aside and getting back to Scotland for nappy duty. Mr Blunkett may wake up one morning and find the Home Office budget halved. Or a dead haggis in his bed. "

Now playing : Dido - Life for Rent. Need to keep my blood pressure down ;-)

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

So it looks like Blunkett is getting his way for now with regard to id cards, although the atmosphere of this debate is a truly accurate reflection of British parliamentary politics today.

Forget any genuine discourse about the benefits and drawbacks of the actual legislation, instead lets just turn it into a proxy war for Blair vs Brown. In this way whether this piece of momentous legislation becomes enacted or not has more to do with where a few MPs stand on the minutae of internal Labour Party dogma (because lets face it: the only issue on which you can slip a fag paper between Brown and Blair is 'Who's the Boss') rather than any of the arguments surrounding the bloody things. Grrr.

Anyway, I've made my blood boil over this one many times in the past, so this is all I have to say, which is what I submitted to the BBC 'Have Your Say' comment section.

The problems with an id card clearly outweigh its benefits. Criminals, illegal immigrants and benefit cheats already easily evade the not inconsiderable identity and security checks put in their way. I have yet to see any evidence that an id card will reverse this situation.

For law-abiding citizens the card could rapidly become a heavy cross to bear - without a card nothing, however innocent and trivial, will be achievable but with it even clearly ridiculous transactions will be possible as those charged with checking identity will rapidly come to rely wholly on the card rather than assessing the validity of the individual.

Regarding terrorism, I simply have no idea how introducing a card will help to combat this, though clearly, the sensible way to avoid people killing you is to act in such a way that they don't want to in the first place, rather than erecting barriers to them doing so after they have already settled on a course of action.

Overall the card will be a highly expensive blunder that almost certainly will not be adopted by a significant enough portion of society to make it a universal form of id. It will curb neither day to day crime, terrorism, benefit fraud or illegal immigration, though it will give the police increased powers to detain and question individuals on their possession or non possession of a card, as well as allowing government departments access to increased demographic and individual data.

Whether the individual thinks that this is a good idea depends surely on their assessment of the recent performance of our famously truthful government and our equally non-discriminatory police forces.

I can feel all those beans working on me already. Have had a Twirl in an attempt to stop the rot, but who knows what the future holds.

And I’ve thought of a cheese ‘n’ rice combo. Risotto. Weird isn’t it - if you think of cheese ‘n’ rice in the abstract it’s revolting but everyone likes risotto. Are there any others though . . . ?

Today is vegetarian day in the canteen which for one lucky diner meant a big plate of chips and coleslaw. Eeesh – what a weird combination. I think it’s more the concept of the hot chips next to the (hopefully) refrigerated coleslaw. I am having a delicious bean salad as per : butter beans, broad beans, kidney beans, flagelot beans, green beans, bean sprouts and sweetcorn.

Whenever I see the phrase ‘bean sprouts’ I always think “yes but sprouts of which bean?” If you’ve never sprouted your own let me tell you that the sprout of, say, the aduki bean is as different from the mung bean as the mung bean is from the black bean. I guess that when they are commercially produced they grow them until they’re all sprout and no bean so all you get is a rather watery white tube, whereas I tend to eat mine soon after they’ve germinated so you get all the flavour and texture of the bean itself.

Bean technology today.

Still on the wierd combinations front fm1 swears by 'chips and cheese' - a plate of oven chips with cheese melted on them. I've had em and they're really not bad, even though I'm not a big fan of the whole potato/cheese nexus. Carbs and cheese seem to be paired together pretty universally if you think about it :

Bread and cheese - the classic cheese sandwich or a pizza
Pasta and cheese - mac and cheese. Need I say more.
Potato and cheese - Baked potato with grated cheddar
Rice - errr - hold on a second.

You never get rice and cheese together do you? Why not?

Woo - I fell better today. I think, therefore, we can probably put down dragging myself under a barrel to sulk yesterday as most likely brought on by chemical comedown of some sort or other. I'm getting too old for this sort of thing, but, hey!, I'm not quite in the grave just yet, so why think about it.

So, yes, Shazzer, aka Lady Clapham has got engaged. She's currently in Oz with Nick on part of their world odyssey, so by the time they get back they'll practically be ready to tie the knot, so congratulations to them :)

It looks like the suit I shall shortly be having made, hem hem, will be getting a bit of a work out. Do people think that pinstripes with a peach/amber lining is too much?

Monday, November 10, 2003

I feel depressed. Not big news I know, but I feel more depressed than normal – and I’m not sure why. Obviously all the usual reasons are still there, but they haven’t changed so it must be something new.

Possibilities :-

1) Chemical residue from the weekend.
2) I have to go away soon.
3) Shazza got engaged.
4) Uemployment looms again.
5) Impending birthday.
6) Impending Christmas. NO!

The ones that I give credence to are 1, 2, and 6. Maybe a touch of 4, although that doesn’t really count – it’s merely an adjunct to long term depression about shit job prospects and ultimate retiree poverty. Should I ever get that far.

It’s a good question actually. How can I be both

a) depressed about the prospect of a poverty riddled old age. At my current rate I won’t even be able to afford the 'Hove Home for Retired Gentlefolk and the Terminally Short of Cash' let alone spend my Autumn Years doing anything more than what amounts to competitive 'Who can sit in their chair contemplating the grave the longest' ; whilst

b) being simultaneously convinced that if my Body is a Temple it must be a temple used by some extremely disrespectful Satãn Wörshippers, and it can’t possibly go on much longer.

Logical impossibilities eh? No problemo for the dedicated miserable bastard. BTW in case you couldn’t work it out, impending death due to some sort of terminal horror disease counts as a long term depressant, and therefore not eligible for inclusion in the above list. Oh I just though of a new one:

7) No-one ever answers my fucking e-mails.

But maybe that’s more of a long term/lifestyle thing. What d’you say?

Talk about a lost weekend. Achieved absolutely nothing except getting myself into such a fucked up state on Friday that Saturday was pretty much missed out altogether. Well that's what comes of drinking your own body weight in lager, an uncertain but by no means negligible amount of whisky and indulging in some other recreational pastimes, the exact nature and quantities of which remain misted in the shades of time. Thanks Kids - whoever you were!

So let's ignore Saturday except to say that whilst gazing at the Teev (the memory of what I saw is utterly non-existant) I consumed:

1 x Big Mac
20 x nuggets (w/curry sauce)
3 x KFC chicken pieces
1 x Dr Pepper 2L
1 x Fanta 2L
1 x Pepperami
1 x Angel Delight (Chocolate)
1 x Packet 'Tums'

All of which left me to rise on Sunday at about 2pm feeling as right as ninepence. What kind of a phrase is 'right as ninepence'. Is there anything 'right' about ninepence. Is there a nine pence coin? I think not. But anyway In the spirit of attempting to gain something from the weekend I went and bought a new game for the X-Box and then spent 10 hours slumped in front of the TV (again) not including a brief interruption to watch a program about Grand Unification Theory.

Must say - once you work out the battle system Knights of the Old Republic is gripping.

And I'm not much of a big Star Wars fan. And why not? Simple :- in the words of Young Mr Bisley : "Phantom Menace" - which I have still not manged to sit through without falling asleep. In fact I can't work out which I care about least - Star Wars Ep3 or Matrix 3.

Friday, November 07, 2003

I think I might have worked out a solution to the 'Todd' conundrum (below). What the message was talking about was various metadata records some of which become detached from their owners. 'Todd' is looking to find someone (and let's face it it's going to be me) . . . wait for it . . . to get these records into shape and/or delete the irrelevant ones. These records are referred to as 'Orphan Records'.

I therefore posit that the 'Don't you love me' bit was 'Todd' pretending to roleplay one of the Orphan Records to guilt me into accepting this excruciatingly dull assignment.

OK - it's not the best explanation, but it's way better than any of the others. Anyone got any better ideas?

Last night to the Nash to see Tales from the Vienna Woods - hence not hung over today. Have to say it was gripping, even though you know it's all going to end badly in the end. It helps that it's a good production, with lovely Nicola Barker and Frances Barber but ultimately you need a good script.

This was written in 1931 but it reads like a contemporary piece - quite odd. And it's very very funny. The audience was perhaps a little stuffy and uncertain whether it was meant to be funny, this is after all pretty bleak stuff in parts, but should anyone else go and see it then yes - it's meant to be funny. You are allowed to laugh. Got mixed reviews but my compadres all enjoyed it too so it's probably not just me and my odd sense of entertainment.

eMail from my bosses boss. We'll call him Todd, Age 40ish, "Go Wolfpack!"

Don't you love me xxxxxxxx

Bottom line we need to . . . [ insert standard dull business e-mail about metadata here ] . . . Your opinion?

I'm absolutely not making this up! I'm sure there's a rational explanation but what it is is currently escaping me . . .

Thursday, November 06, 2003

I don't know what's wrong with Prettygirl, but whatever it is it's no little thing. I'm not complaining - girlsarepretty is a genius blog phenomenally well written. I don't see how Prettygirl can keep it up day after day but there you go.

Clearly Prettygirl has some issues, and if I had to make a guess as to what kind of isses they were I'd say issus of intense pain and bitterness. Does make for a good read tho . . .

Wow. Fingerphones! I'm thinking we're in Tomorrow's World "You can cover the 'Compact Disk' in jam and it'll still play perfectly" territory, but if not, how cool is that?

Answer : Not very if you think about it. Barry from accounts will still be sitting on the train shouting 'I'm on the train' except now he'll have his finger in his ear as well.

Maybe I'm just not an early adopter. People here at work do have a terrible habit of wandering around with their phones in their pockets gabbling away into their bluetooth earpieces.

You like like an idiot!

This is fun if you want to test where you are on the economic and social political axis.

More fun even than that is looking to see where you stand in relationship to other people and their blogs.

Speaking of politics I was talking to Mac last night and we both agreed that Bush has to go at the next election. Quite how we were going to achieve this we were slightly less clear about, but should we have any brainwaves I promise to publish them here.

Now Playing : Michelle Shocked - Memories of East Texas

A new and potentially financially deleterious pastime - ordering stuff off Japanese shopping sites. It's an exercise in how you can get by with way less information than you would expect. All you have to go on is graphics, page furniture (ie "it's in the right place for an 'add to cart' button so let's try that") and page addresses which as we all know can be descriptive . . . or not. OK I haven't plucked up the courage to actually order anything yet - but this is more because a) I'm broke, and b) I haven't managed to work out how to enter my address. Or in fact what my address would even be.

But rest assured when the above has been resolved all kinds of loveliness will be winging it's way Londonwards :)

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Confession time : I heard True Blue in some shop the other day and I was practically skipping down the aisles – it always makes me happy. I guess cos it’s pretty upbeat but with a strange sort of wistfulness about it. You get the idea that the protagonist may have found her true love now but she’s had to kiss an awful lot of toads to get there. And you say this is a Madonna song . . .

True, so if you should ever doubt
Wonder what love is all about
Just think back and remember dear
Those words whispered in your ear, I said

True love
You're the one I'm dreaming of
Your heart fits me like a glove
And I'm gonna be true blue baby I love you

Uggh - sometime MS really piss me off. By and large I'm not one of the big Microsoft haters but this annoyed me - they have removed support and downloads for Arial Unicode - you can now only get it with MS Office. Which information I had to glean by inference. There are links all over the net pointing to a Microsoft page that no longer exists and instead points you at some dumbass MS Office Developer resource.

Now whilst I am an entirely legitimate user of MS Office I work for a mega corp. So : are any of the disks here or are they kept in a mysterious software safe deep within the cavern of IT support somewhere? -You decide.

End result - you end up using Cyberbit instead. Not as comprehensive as Arial Unicode MS but a) From Netscape b) Free c) Seems to do everything I need so far . . .

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

cajun dave's spicy peanut cereal clusters are SO DISGUSTING that even thinking about them is making my mouth water. But not in a 'smelling a roast chicken / ham & pineapple pizza (yes I know - I'm weird) when you're really hungry' kind of a way. More in a 'OhMyGod it's coming back up and it's coming up NOW!!!' kind of a way. YaKKK.

Sorry about all the capitalisation above, but I needed to get my point across. Cajun Dave should be tied to a wheelbarrow, set on fire and then kicked over a cliff. Or made to eat one whole packet of his spicy peanut shit, whichever.

I’ve been thinking about blogs and bloggers in general and the state of their minds in particular, and comparing what I think with what I read on people’s blogs. And basically it comes down to this:- Good bloggers; and I don’t just mean people who post often, but people who post well; tend to be pretty mixed up and/or unhappy people. I’m not saying that we’re all one sandwich short of a picnic, but I think there might be more than a grain of truth in the proposition that bloggers are basically a bunch of miserable bastards. You don’t, after all, read many blogs where the owner talks about her successful stress free job, wonderful partner and the beautiful, clean and crime free environment they live in. Which is good cos I for one wouldn’t want to read a load of shit like that. Still I am reminded of what Alain de Botton? had to say about people who write their autobiographies – that there is something slightly psychopathic about their obvious craving for more love – and I think it’s also true for bloggers.

Trust me – read the blogs – read as many as you can and revel in their bitter outpourings of bile and despair. It’s not voyeuristic – you’re helping us by listening to our demented ramblings. Then suddenly, sooner or later one of those bloggers whose daily struggle with existence you have been following will find that delicious person and all is beautiful, birds sing, flowers bloom and the quality of that person’s blog is in the toilet. Boooooring. Posts which used to be thrice daily dry up to one every two weeks and even then the post will either be an interminable exhortation on the loveliness of the OoD (Object of Desire) or an incomprehensible reference to a shared experience : “ Susie mailed me a picture of a t-rex eating a 2CV. She is *so* sweet.”

And then, and then and then (sometimes you can see it coming sometimes it’s a bolt from on-high) suddenly the whole thing comes undone. The blogger is inconsolate with despair, the OoD is either a lost angel or a wanker of the first order and it’s all over for ever and ever.

Well Hurrah! We’re back to 3 a day diatribes against the meaninglessness of existence, bleak little 3.25 am ramblings about loneliness and the bottle and wildly meandering vicious asides aimed at all the horrible celebrities endlessly parading their sordid little financially motivated romances through the pages of the supermarket weeklies.

Let’s face it –good bloggers are lonely embittered people whose only assets are their giant brains brimming with venom for their more intellectually retarded but emotionally successful contemporaries. To bastardise Tolstoy : “Bad bloggers are all alike but good bloggers are each good in their own unique way.”

Yesterdays shopping:-

1 x Litre semi-skimmed milk
1 x Sauvignon Blanc
1 x Olive ciabatta loaf
1 x Chocolate coated Viennese biscuits
1 x Lurpak unsalted butter
1 x Chicken flavour Pot Noodle
4 x Packets of Angel Delight
1 x Multi-pack Pepperami Hot
2 x Pepperonata & chile pizza
1 x Packet indigestion tablets
1 x La Vache Qui Rit (8 pcs)

I’m so ashamed of myself - it’s no wonder I’m fat. So to make up I’m having a very unappetizing salad for lunch – chick peas, kidney beans, butter beans, sweetcorn, potatoes, onion, green beans. Hello and welcome to yawn city, although I have got a pear for later. Woo hoo. Actually the butter beans are delicious – I love them. It’s the potatoes that are the super dull bit, and probably the least healthy bit, maybe, after the sweetcorn. Are onions good for you in anyway or do they just add flavour with a zero calorie payback? Who knows. And frankly – who cares.

The above shopping was performed at the temple of consumerism that is Safeway, where the people who work there wear badges that disclaim : "Safeway. The Friendliest Store in Town. My Name is EUGENE"

So there are 3 statements here:

1) The store is called Safeway. Check!

2) The employee’s name is Eugene. Can’t tell but we’ll take it on faith.

3) Safeway is the friendliest store in town. Oh hold on . . .

I guess that is one of those meaningless advertising slogans – there is no really qualitative way of ascertaining whether it is a true statement or not, and even if you could it would be impossible to prove that it caused a competitive advantage to the store at the expense of its competitors. It makes you wonder why they bother using it at all – it’s so depressing. In fact I’ll pose a little quiz. Is Safeway :-

a) An oversized supermarket, shrouded in semi gloom with its hanger heighted roof, its aisles crawled by the barely ambulant and the barely sane, shelves loaded with Christmas Fayre (by Nov 3rd) and the checkouts disordered rummage bins with Safeway Whisky at £10.50 / litre.

b) The Friendliest Store in Town.

Come on guys – just tell it like it is and no-one will respect you less, in fact they’ll respect you a lot more. It may be a bloody miserable place to shop but it’s fucking cheap.

Wooo Hoooo - say what you like about QT he certainly knows how to make a gripping movie. Me and my flatmates were practically wielding imaginary swords and drop kisking eachother ourselves as we rushed out of the cinema (10:45pm - need to catch lasties). Unbelievably we actually all agreed about something - that Kill Bill is indeed a bit of a masterpiece. Can Volume 2 possibly be as good? What if it's even better?? I think my head would then explode in a Samurai-ie style excess of excitement, but let's face facts. Should one's fellow movie goers get showed with 3 pints of arterial blood in that movie no-one's really going to notice are they?

Flatmate 1 assures me that her main purpose in life (sartorially that is) is now to find herself a bright yellow jump suit.

Monday, November 03, 2003

Tchhuh - BRII turned out to be pretty bad in the end so really very disappointing. It did have a pretty respectable body count (I don't think I'll be spoiling it for anyone if I tell you that most of the new class get it) but ultimately it failed because you frankly didn't give a shit if any of them lived or died. There was virtually no character development, don't think I can remember a single person's name except for Kitano, and if you thought Battle Royale was unbelievable this one is . . . farcical. Trust me - save your pennies and keep your memories of glorious Battle Royale intact.

Went to Mildred's on Saturday after getting Marise's website up and running. Say what you like about vegetarian food, but it is cheap. Ended up going to some club called (if memory serves) The Playa afterwards which with a name like that was obviously a delight. Don't really recall getting home but as I know I had no money (had to write a cheque for dinner) I can only assume I took the night bus . . .

Anyway - off to see Kill Bill (finally!) this evening so mucho looking forward to it. I like a nice violent movie now and again, as you can probably tell from my eulogies to Battle Royale.