Friday, January 30, 2004

Well, it's been a terrible week, but at least it's over. Off to the countryside now - lovely - get pissed, eat fud, look at the snow, play some silly games, that sort of thing. It'll be good to be doing something so as not to brood on what that wanker Hutton has managed to do by being such an incompetent old fart.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Well it’s not all doom and gloom today, though there ain’t a whole bunch of joy on the horizon. I did however get a brand spanking new laptop from work still with it’s shiny wrapping on. You might think it was a bit, well, pointless to give me a bunch of new hardware all configured to my personal specs, including such annoyingly hard things to remove as Lotus Notes, Sametime and Verity 2K when I only have another 11 working days at the company. And you’d be right, but I’m not going to argue with the man. Which would be futile and pointless – if you’re on the list you’re getting done whether it makes sense or not.

On an unrelated but to me considerably more pressing matter, there’s definitely something ‘not right’ going on downstairs today. Lucky I’m not in America eh, especially as I’m going to Devon tomorrow for some kind of weekend away shenanagins. Am really looking forward to it actually and should be a lorra lorra laughs, provided that is Mac & I can negotiate the Friday night exodus clogged snow bound roads in her Mum’s new Golf. It’s a turbo diesel and I have been playing a lot of Project Gotham racing 2 lately, so things could get lively.

NO NO NO!! This is SHIT!

OK - Gavyn Davies resigns - this we can cope but Greg Dyke as well!! Top quality DGs like Mr Dyke don't grow in trees. This will really hurt the BBC and they haven't done anything wrong.

If possible I now hate Blair and his evil lying corrupt government even more than before. He is wilfully and purposefully damaging invaluable British resources simply to bolster his own vanity and ego. I'm literally sickened.
There was an interesting comment in the BBCs Have Your Say section, pointing out that, OK, maybe Gilligan did not sufficiently check the veracity of whether or not the government believed the 45 minute claim or not. This led to a slightly more interesting edition of the today programme an orgy of media hot air and the resignation of Alastair Campbell.

So there are now 2 possibilities:-

1) The government knew it was bollocks all along, said it anyway and have been comprehensively lying to cover their backs.

2) They didn't know it was bollocks because they hadn't checked their facts properly which led directly to the death of thousand and thousands of civilians and troops.

Either way it was bollocks as we now well know so clearly the government did not check it's facts properly before publishing them, exactly what the BBC is being ritually spayed for.

The difference being that the BBC's 'mistake' led only to Campbell having to get a new job, whilst the government's 'mistake' cost the lives of untold numbers of men, women and children.

What the FUCK???

I’m not going to say much more about Hutton – I think my views have been already adequately set out. I would like to state for the record that I utterly reject his ‘findings’ and think that the inquiry report is at best hopelessly inaccurate, utterly biased and one of the worst pieces of legalistic reasoning I have ever had the misfortune to come across. Or it could be deliberate misdirection.

There are really only 3 logical positions, assuming that is we can discount Hutton’s position – one where the BBC is universally stocked by incompetent delusionists and the government & civil service are universally stocked by whiter than white ethical paragons incapable of any subterfuge.

1) Blair picked Hutton for the job because he knew he was an utterly conservative and would never produce a report which might in any way influence the government’s electoral position – ie he had to produce a whitewash as anything less would trigger a general election.
2) Blair picked Hutton because he knew he was a right numpty and could be relied upon to get the wrong end of the stick at every turn
3) Hutton was nobbled.

Put plain and simply Hutton’s report does not tally with the facts as represented during the inquiry in any real shape or form. But don’t take my word for it – read Jonathan Freedland in today’s Guardian :-

[. . . at Lord Hutton’s press conference . . .]

For the press benches, this was all too much. Several journalists began first to sniff, then to snort and finally to chuckle their derision. Jeremy Paxman, for once barred from asking questions, was shaking his head in bemusement as each new finding in favour of the government came down from the bench. When Mr Scarlett's subconscious was introduced, the room seemed to vibrate with mockery.

In one sense it’s almost good that he has done such an obviously shit job, which would be immediately overturned if there was any court of appeal for this sort of thing. It is so laughably incompetent and deluded that no serious person (which obviously excludes blair & murdoch) can take it seriously for a single second. In a few years time we will look back on it and think ‘What the fuck was that all about?’

One thing I won't miss about my job is that I can tell which of the 40 something engineers who live at the end of my corridor is pointlessly wandering about behind me by the sound of their shoes.


Wednesday, January 28, 2004

I'm still not thinking about it, you can't make me. . . ha ha ha . . . I'm not listening . . .



I just can’t hold it in any longer . . .

Arrggggg Arrggggghhh ArrrgggggggHHH. DIE DIE DIE. FUCKERS! SCUM SHIT FUCKERS.


OK - I’m going to make it brief for the sake of my own sanity and blood pressure. 2 days ago we had a very real chance of getting rid of fuckface blair once and for all. Now where are we? Nowhere. That Nick Brown needs seeing to. What a gutless piece of crap. He’s catapulted himself straight onto my shit-for-brains list and the most pathetic thing is that his revolting last minute weaselling was all for nothing : Fuckface wouldn’t even spit on you now and Gordon will never trust you again mate, so its too late, TOO LATE. You will never have a government job again. But let’s put that aside for now. Let’s even put aside the fact that we now have one of the lamest and most flawed piece of bollocks education legislation ever and, and, and, I can hardly bear to type it, think about . . . Hutton.

I simply refuse to believe it. What happened to the endless government weaselling? Their snivelling half excuses? Their bombast and shiftiness? Their unutterable arrogance and hatred of truthfulness and openness. Nothing – that’s what. Instead this pathetic excuse for a lawyer has chosen to blame the BBC, an institution with more moral authority, belief in democracy and understanding of the phrase ‘public service’ in one of Greg Dyke’s scrotum hair’s than fuckface blair and his slimy crew of hate mongerers and schoolyard bullies have ever had in their entire lives.

Even worse, as anyone with half a brain is aware the vile lying Murdoch and his wretched organs The Sun and The Times have long been waging a campaign to destroy the BBC. Their hatred of the BBC is largely because the BBC provides a greatly superior product at a much cheaper price. If it could be removed Murdoch & Co will be free to manipulate, subjugate and extort the British population pretty much at will. It’s about destroying wonderful, meaningful and above all independent and honestly motivated institutions in order to feed more tarnished cash squeezed largely from the urban and rural poor and the underclass - the very people a Labour government should be trying to protect the most - into News International’s profit engine. The fact that this ‘report’ plays directly into the hands of these bullying cultural rapists, these thugs, yobs, scum of the earth wankers and allows their political beneficiaries off Scot free as well, that presumably is just a coincidence.

Anyway, I don’t want to write any more about it until I have read the report myself rather than the pre-digested bullshit the papers feed us. But this isn’t over yet, for good or evil - not by a long chalk. And if I have to see blair’s revolting smug bucket of shit face smirking out of the TV at me and no doubt banging on about it ‘Not being a time of celebration, but a time for sober reflection and lesson learning’ while all along screaming with puffed up victory madness, then, well, I don’t know what’ll happen, but it won’t be pretty.

Well, well, well, um, try not to think about it.


La di da, . . . think about something else, anything else . . .

It’s good to see that Britain’s Artic Blizzard (BAB)™ is proceeding as planned. For those of you lucky enough not to have to suffer the unbearable tedium of this let me give you a brief recap. Every single winter there is, at least once, some sort of dire “We’re all going to freeze to death in our beds” warning about arctic blizzards about to swamp Britain. This is an excuse for every public service to go into meltdown and the newspapers to print a whole load of crap about bugger all.

Well this year’s BAB™ has arrived and then some alright. Britain has been gripped in night time temperatures as low as -3° C (27° F) – with some areas experiencing up to, wait for it, 3 INCHES OF SNOW!!! YES!!! Predictably despite the utter patheticness of all this the ptb have still managed to screw up. Every road in the country has been salted and gritted to within an inch of its life put not one square foot of pavement has received any treatment. Mind you – that’s actually a good thing. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than watching a pensioner breaking their hip on the way to the post office while the suit driven Lexae spin merrily along. After all, gotta keep the wheels of industry spinning and old people are rubbish anyway.

So, in the spirit of the blitz and rising to the challenge of BAB™ here’s Pan’s guide to surviving the fiercesome weather :-

1) Wear a coat

For the elderly, infirm or those planning to spend several hours outdoors not engaging in any physical activity the following additional points could be worth bearing in mind.

1) A hat and gloves might be an idea.
2) Scarves are useful for excluding draughts.
3) Tight fitting shoes make for chilly feet.

Sometimes I could just hang my head and weep.

But that makes me think about you know what and once I start down that route there’ll be no stopping me.

Think about something else – do some work, anything, just try and stop thinking about it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Since my return on Saturday morning I have consumed :-

6 x cup of tea
6 x pints stella
1 x pint litovel
1½ x bottle red wine
1 x bottle white wine
1 x haggis dinner
1 x portion of trifle
1 x cheese roll.
1 x prawn baguette
1 x packet mini cheddars
4 x primula cheese spread mini-rolls
1 x bowl stilton & broccoli soup
1 x twix

This is not good but it?s not terrible either. Tonight I'll cook some delicious varient of seafood with chile and have some squid ink pasta with it. Mmmmm

Provided that is I don't just go out and get bladdered instead. Which would be bad because :-

a) I have to be in work by 9am tomorrow to meet with some desktop rebuild numpty which means I have to leave by 7.15

b) I'm currently having some kind of weird financial melt down AGAIN. I simply cannot understand where my money is going? yesterday I checked my balance and I was about gbp400 short of where I thought I should be. That's a lot in my book. Not the kind of money you accidentally spend shopping and can't remember. At this rate I'm going to have to actually start checking my bank statements.

Monday, January 26, 2004

About Me

Bloggers often have a little link entitled ‘About Me’ or some such that leads you to a page where they tell you 100 remarkable, interesting, or little known facts about themselves. I suddenly thought I could spend the afternoon doing that instead of working, but immediately ran into a big problem – I could hardly think of 5 things about me, let alone 100 :-

1) I can speak in public without notes
2) I can spot the constellation of Orion
3) I can draw you a ray diagram explaining what causes rainbows
4) I have had chicken pox twice
5) I can make sushi
6) I can throw a pretty decent pot on a good day

And that took me about 2 hours to come up with. Looked at like that it doesn’t seem I’ve been doing much with my time does it?


Bad Bunni was blogging about how she is grossed out at the thought of her pupils getting hot for her. There is also a quote from Patton Oswald about how everyone has a secret fantasy that is so extreme and degrading that you’re ashamed of yourself for even knowing what it is, let alone having it. Is this true though? I must admit that on the odd occasion I’ve been in bed with someone and they’ve said something along the lines of “Whatever you want to do – we can do it. Whatever your secret fantasy is, let’s do it right now, I don’t care how weird and screwy it is I want to do it with / for you right now” and for a couple of seconds you actually contemplate mentioning The Thing or the Other Thing or OH MY GOD – That Thing. Fortunately this is only ever a second or two, sanity reasserts itself, and you can quickly substitute some sort of reasonable sounding chains / public nudity alternative or whatever.

While I’m fairly sure most people have one or two little scenarios running in their heads that they wouldn’t like to admit to in front of The Vicar do they all keep it a secret? Are otherwise seemingly entirely normal couples indulging each other’s bizarre fetishistic obsessions? When the lights go down at No. 79, Oak Drive, Tunbridge Wells does the candle wax and cheese flan come out? The only time someone ever divulged that kind of information to me I’m afraid to say that I didn’t go through with it for her. It was beyond my capabilities, and frankly a bit terrifying too. Didn’t put me off her though, and should the opportunity have ever presented itself I would probably have considered it, but sheesh – people sure are weird aren’t they ;-)

Goddam it! This is really pissing me off even though I feel strangely disconnected from it all. It's not personal, it's business. I'm more angry with my employer's stupidity than with feelings of personal effrontery but there you go . . .

My boss has actually been extremely helpful and has done everything that he can to keep me employed. I guess that's partly because it'll be up to him to find and train the new guy, but I appreciate his efforts all the same, I'm sure he would have done it whatever. It's good to know there are some genuine people who try to do the right thing. I need hardly add that he was recently passed over for promotion. Actually of all the boss dudes I've had over the years he is definitely one of the best, both in terms of displaying common sense and in putting up with all my bullshit. It's a pity that as the ranks go upwards they get increasingly dense until you hit the top from whence the decision to dispense with my services has (not) been made.

What's weird is that I'm used to thinking about my work as something that is on-going, something which I create and which only I control and input to. This afternoon I?ve been working on some semantic logic code and it suddenly occurred to me that I will in all likelihood never get to see this stuff implemented . . . someone else will do it . . . I will never know if it works properly or not . . . why am I even bothering?

Senior Management

I sincerely hope that Tony Blair gets his long deserved comeuppance this week. If I'm going to be on the dole I don't see why he shouldn't be as well, especially as he's made such a career out of being an utter twat.

Don't know what Gordon would be like, but he couldn't be worse could he? And at least he'd make sure that the poster boy for 'take away my cane and kick me down a flight of piss soaked, council block concrete steps' would get his just desserts. Here's a terrifying thought - what if they got Tone, but somehow Gordy got mixed up in the cross fire and (the horror) David Blunkett became PM. Too horrible for words . . .

Oh terrific - the application to have my contract extended has been turned down because I was 4th in the list and dickface Anton will only consider 3 applications - first come first served - because he's afraid of his boss.

This means I will now be definitely leaving in 3 weeks, and the company will have to find another contractor. This is the crazy insane thing : the position still exists as a contractor post - they'll have to do another search to find someone to fill it and then train them up etc. So they're not saving any money, getting someone who knows nothing about the systems I've built and, incidentally, pissing off our biggest client who have specifically requested that I be retained.

This is the stupidest piece of bureauocratic rule following at the expense of all common sense I have ever seen. Idiots.

And on top of that I have to find another job. Bugger.

Friday, January 23, 2004

I’m gasping for a fag. I haven’t had one since Sunday and now it’s Friday and I’m about to get on an 8 hour flight. Unfortunately they are packed in my luggage in the boot of the Cadillac and Ravi has the keys. There is nowhere round here you can buy cigs, in fact they are probably illegal on campus.

Where is Ravi?

I want a fag.

So what else is going on – well the Caddy is a fine vehicle should your employer’s rental budget stretch to it. Only two problems with it :-

1) Whilst bigger then most SUVs - it doesn’t have a whole lot of interior space and the boot is pretty small too.
2) Despite the 300 bhp 4.6L V8 engine it accelerates like a cow with a broken leg, and steers pretty much the same way as well.

Having said all that it certainly looks the part and makes a satisfyingly vroomy noise on the interstate. The doors make a very nice clunk when shutting as well :) Should you have more money than you really need and no sense of environmental responsibility I can heartily recommend it.

Perhaps someone can enlighten me. Is it a federal requirement that all toilet cubicles in the US offer no more of a sop to privacy than a couple of artfully placed serviettes? Seriously I have never found a cublicle here with less than a 1 foot gap at the bottom and higher than about 5'6". Not only does this only provide a fairly insubstantial barrier but they are also always made from bolted together mdf, with exterior mounts - meaning that there is a ½ inch gap at the door hinge and at the door opening. It's gross. When I'm removing 4 days of excessive food build up I prefer a more private arena, something in the manner of The George - somewhere I can really brace myself. And I can't imagine it can be that pretty for the other toilet users either.

Friday morning and feeling lively (broken rib not withstanding). Yesterday I didn't feel too hot as not enough sleep due to our visit to Bogart's the, urm, Bogart themed cocktail joint / restaurant in Raleigh. Probably my own fault – ate a variety of starters including oysters, bruchetta, shrimp and stuffed mushrooms, then for a main course scallops wrapped in bacon with walnut risotto. OK – bad enough but I had to follow it up with some sort of extreme triple chocolate nightmare and a double espresso. Followed by 3 hours of intense indigestion and no sleep.

No such problems last night - we went to Magnolia Grill in Durham which I can only describe as pretty spectacular.

Despite the usual getting lost en route we all arrived eventually and settled into a fairly extreme gastronomic experience. I started with veal sweetbreads served on a bed of citrus rissotto with shrimp which was fantastic - the sweetbreads were perfectly cooked, set through but without the slightest trace of rubberiness. What with Mad Cow doing the rounds I guess not a lot of people are ordering what is basically a calf gland at the moment, but what they hey - gotta take some chances ;-). I followed that with some fantastically tender venison with a cabernet sauvignon jus and red cabbage etc. Just great. Finished off with a double chocolate tart with chocolate sauce and my usual double espresso. Slept like a baby - fantastic :)

Thursday, January 22, 2004

I forgot to say that I’d been to see Lost in Translation and have to say it is so good it hurts. The kind of movie you hate because you didn’t make it. Just a perfect piece of work – utterly believable whilst at the same time mythical. And also touching, compelling and fascinating. I loved it basically. It really gives a feeling for Japan and the two main characters are just wonderful. Go see it.

I seem to have this strange ability to silence debate. This happens all around me – and not necessarily in a good way. I say something in a meeting and there is deadly silence followed by moving to the next agenda item. I add a comment to a blog – no-one ever comments again. It’s unnerving. Of course I could just be making this up in my head – delusions of grandeur, but that fully lies within the remit of the bloggeur, so I'm justified.

At the moment I’m posting with wireless using the non encrypted network from within what is known here at XXX Corporation as the ‘stealth’ building so it’s a safe bet that someone sitting in a basement wearing Aviators is poring over these words as I write them. Hello spy dudes.

This afternoon I was at one of the main campuses for this region belonging to our most powerful division. The buildings are so shiny, the lawns so perfectly manicured, the car parks so perfectly regimented. And apart from the armed guards at the entrance you NEVER see anybody EVER - not even a receptionist. If you were ever in any doubt that place drives it home - you are nothing, the individual is nothing, only The Corporation exists!

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

The meeting has been going on for 2 days now. Let’s just say that I have another 1½ days to go and then it will be OVER. Actually some progress has been made – it certainly hasn’t all been a big waste of space.

News on my contract renewal – this is progressing and it does look like they’d be screwed without me (heh heh :) ) but it isn’t so simple. To get this approved it has to go to the head of IT – only one down from the great leaderene himself. The head of IT is in charge of 9,800 employees. I’m not that important! It’s so screwed up.

Apart from that I’m having the usual NC fun. Monday night went to Kanki’s – The Japanese House of Steaks at the Crabtree Mall. Very performance driven repast but pretty good anyway. WAY too much food as per – I didn’t order an appetizer (never do here) but even so before you get to the entrée you have already received soup, salad and grilled prawns – it all comes as part of the package. They brought doggy bags for everyone without even asking.

Last night to Maggiano’s at the Southpoint Mall. You know the scene – Sinatra, dark wood, checked table cloths, Gambino, sleep with the fishes, faded black and white photos, established 1991. It’s actually a pretty decent place, only the portions here are really huge. I ordered a half portion of pasta and managed to eat maybe half of it. In fact felt decidedly bloated. It doesn’t help that our meetings are fully catered so you are never more than 5 feet from a bucket of popcorn or fried chicken or chocolate chip & peanut butter cookies or, well, you get the idea. I just can’t stop nibbling. In fact right this second I’m eating a vanilla toffee waffle despite the fact I’m going to dinner in 90 minutes - people here eat early – our reservation is for 6.30! As a result I am moving beyond FAT towards LARDY. I also have a fairly permanent sugar headache, and, for reasons I really don’t understand, what feels suspiciously like a broken rib.

Monday, January 19, 2004

I wrote this last night (Sunday) and for comic value publish it here unedited, tho I cleared up most of the several hundred typos. I think I was a little bit out of kilter, it certainly doesn't seem to make much sense. In fact it's totally random.


OK so here I am again in the land of the free and home of the brave. Actually I really can’t complain at the moment – it was pretty much the easiest journey ever, excepting my taxi not turning up in the morning. Ok not a big deal and, in fact why was I even getting a taxi – answer because it’s all paid for by work. I told them it was a big waste of time but hey – you can’t fight the man. See I’m turning funny already. So I went with the flow and . . . it didn’t turn up. Cue some irate phone calls, eventually giving up and ½ an hour late hauled my ass to Victoria to find out the Gatwick Express schedule was halved due to engineering works. The Virgin guard (hopefully literally) was particularly proud of that – pointing out that it wasn’t the fault of Virgin – it was a NETWORK problem. Like I cared. You’d think that basic pee-pul training would include warnings against telling people who are going to be late for flights through no fault of their own that it’s ‘Not our fault!’

Apart from that it was stunningly straightforward – no hassle at Gatwick, plane left on time, snooze, booze, goggle with amazement at the shiteness of American Airlines in flight programming. The only thing I could watch was Swiss Toni (which was actually pretty good) tho I suppose gluttons for punishment might have choked down Seabiscuit. As per I soon spotted someone who works down the corridor from me and by the time we were coming into RDU had positively identified 3 other XXX Corporation employees. Charming. I was slightly apprehensive as I haven’t been to the US for about a year and things have only got madder since then, and my passport is frankly a bit of a train wreck. It’s been around the world, it’s been stamped all over by some of the world’s most stamp-happy border guards, and it’s been through the washing machine. Basically every time I pitch up at customs it’s another throw of the dice and sooner or later I’m going to throw another double 0 and get hauled over. This has actually happened before, but it wasn’t in the US. It was (and this is true) on the Chinese/Mongolian border at 2.30 am and Miss Mirror Shades Leather Boots Scarlet Lipstick AK47 decided she didn’t like the look of my limp rag of a passport. That’s an hour I NEVER want to live through again. Put it this way I was too scared to enjoy the fact that I was being done over by a genuine Asian Babe Dominatrix. I was shitting myself, and not in a good way. In the end she just suddenly gave me back my passport, stamped it and let me go. But the memory lends a certain frisson to every visit to a glass booth with a uniform in it I make.

However – no hassle this time. Incredibly we landed on time at 3.35 and by 4.10 I was getting into a taxi, and that includes picking up checked luggage. If you haven’t been to the US since 9/11 believe me this is the equivalent of, well, um, well, it’s fucking incredible. So here I am at the lovely Doubletree watching ads for SUVs, no-brand tacos, Nescafe Frothé (???), The Best of Don MacLean Live,Wal-Mart, generic HRT and comms, comms, comms. In between ‘You’ve Got Mail’ is making an occasional appearance. I’m ashamed to admit how much I like that movie, but it’s a lot and I’m not the only one – Hari!. Except for the end which is shite. BTW the guy who does the future presentations voiceovers on TNT sounds exactly like Tommy Vance putting on an American accent. And speaking of ads you may remember me ranting a while ago about the Pepsi Challenge. Things move on, things stay the same. You can now see precisely the same ad (minus David ‘Kid’ Jensen) except it’s for Hi-speed direct dial internet connections.

Most annoyingly I’ve forgotten my flipping Ethernet connector cable so I can’t even post all this till I can find a WAN I can tap into which will be tomorrow. I’ve got a suite with a bathroom, a bedroom, a dressing area, a living room, a kitchenette, (total 440 square feet – I measured) a super sized king tubby bed, a dining table, a coffee percolator, a microwave, 2 telephones, 3 televisions, an armchair, a sofa, a desk, cable N64 (which I can’t use), internet TV (ditto), a complimentary Doubletree chocolate chip cookie and no on-line connection! What kind of a business hotel doesn’t have a WAN? I can’t believe I’m so spoiled. And anyway I never blog at the weekend normally. But now I’m bored and I want to blog. Also tired but it’s only 7.20 here – need to find a bar, get some dinner, that sort of thing. Of course I have no car so short of getting a taxi to Raleigh or Durham that pretty much limits me to what’s available here, to whit The Piney Point Grill. Oooh – Meg Ryan’s just sold the store and is sobbing in Fox Books. Unfortunately that means the bit in the elevator is coming up now. Might need to watch, er oooh – Clueless is on USA. Followed by ‘She’s All That’. Dear God. I actually like the first part of ‘She’s All That’ when Cooke is still doing her quirky indy thing. As soon as she starts falling for Freddie ‘Colour me Slimey’ Prinze Junior it all starts to go horribly wrong. He gives me the dry heaves. Ack. BTW – whatever happened to Alicia Silverstone? I mean she could act and she was beautiful. And not just in a standard way – there’s something about her face that’s just a little bit out of kilter, even fractionally, erm, bosted. But the overall effect is charming. Maybe she’s still suffering from the curse of Batman? Where are you Alicia? – we miss your wonky lopsided mouth and mournful eyes :)


The cookie was good. I’m still not buying any more though because I am FAT.


OK I’ve now been in the bar at the doubletree for about 4 hours I guess. I watched the big game (Carolina won the NFC championship whatever that is) and drank a lot of bears sitting on my own at the bar. I guess part of that was because despite my good new year intentions I’m back on the fags again. Currently my mouth feels like an overdried carwash, liquid is available but it’s still the dry bits that dominate. I had a nice chat with the bar maid about American Idol tho – cute!

Alas tomorrow my no fun colleagues arrive. That means no drinking of course. I know that technically it doesn’t mean that but I’m still a slave to corporate rules. I may be leaving, I may not give a monkey about what anyone says, but that’s not true. I care about what my boss thinks about me , and well, I dunno , I’m a bit pissed – obviously, but somehow it would offend him to see me drink 7 beers in a row sitting at a bar without any sign if food or anything, In fact 7 beers under any circs would be unacceptable. I don’t even want to think about what would be the reaction if they knew I smoked as well.

Ok NIGHT Y night.

I think I should have gone to bed earlier. Feel fine now and had a pretty productive meeting this morning. The weather here is nice. Just above freezing but very sunny - trees, grass, pale skies. It's the triangle. I guess this evening I'll go the the Mall with some of my colleagues. The Americans are actually quite fun in some ways. for lunch today we went to Taco Bell, so that's one more fast food chain I can tick off the list. Feel a tad dispeptic though, and you know it didn't do anything for my encroaching lardiness.

Friday, January 16, 2004

In 36 hours I’ll be asleep (I hope) but a mere 3 hours after that I’ll be winging my way to Gatwick ready for another week of that delight we call international business travel. For those of you who have to experience this, my commiserations, for those of you who get to stay home, you lucky bastards.

One of my previous jobs required a lot of foreign travel, mostly to Manhattan. That had a lot of perks (Ian Schraeger hotels, unlimited expenses) but even that paled in the end – mostly because my colleagues were such a bunch of unmitigated assholes. I did though once take my then girlfriend to Alison on Dominick where we racked up a charming little $350 which I then charged to the company. Happy days indeed. Actually apart from the idiot colleagues that was a pretty good year. I was going out with Kat who despite being a bit of a head case had a lot of good attributes - she was a Sergeant in the US Army on loan to Anderson’s so could usually make it to New York for the weekend whenever I was there. We’d just order a lot of room service roll around New York during the day and indulge in a lot of hotel sex. For a shag-tastic weekend the Paramount is good but the Hudson is the best. It has really good CD players in the rooms and for reasons which I can only ascribe to sheer perviness the bathroom walls are made of glass - you can lie in bed with eggs benedict and a scotch on the rocks listening to the Fun Loving Criminals and watch your lover showering. Mmmm mmmmm!

In fact if Kat hadn’t flipped out and had a commitment crisis I’d have stuck with the job longer, but when you’ve had all that going back to face another unbroken 3 week stint with the mean spirited dickwads of 12th and Park simply becomes unbearable.

It’s all different now of course – I’m firmly in the land of $48 per person/day allowances, car sharing and straight to bed after dinner – no extended bar rampages here :(

I've been looking online to see if you can buy Keitei crap anywhere, and the basic answer seems to be no. Obvs this is something that is pretty much limited to Japan, but you would have thought that such a multi billion pound industry might have started to expand a bit. I guess most non Japanese phones don't have the hook you need to attach all this rubbish, plus the Japanese appetite for cute 'n' dinky knick-knackery is . . . awesome.


Strange that jatb was talking about letters yesterday – for some unknown reason I spent an hour reading old letters last night as well. Very weird. What’s particularly odd about this is that there don’t really seem to be any after about 91/92. Why? I guess my friends were (mostly) no longer at University and so either moved to London or had better things to do, but I suppose also by about 93/94 we had e-mail. This presumably means that for people who’ve always had e-mail there will be no letters at all – a whole delightful experience wiped out by the march of technology. Because there’s something about these letters – they’re much longer than e-mails and they’re funny and creative in a way you can’t be with text (or not easily) with drawings and asides scribbled between the lines. One envelope is charmingly addressed to :-

Mr Asshole
XX Xxxxx Road
London, The armpit of the World

I am in no way any kind of technophobe, but a line of text saying ’17 new messages’ is in no way the thrill equivalent of a crisp white envelope lying on the mat – it’s just not the same.

Many of these letters seem to have come from The Captain and it’s clear from reading them now that he didn’t enjoy university very much, that he didn’t meet very many nice people at university and that he didn’t get laid much at university. I’d forgotten all about that. I was also surprised to read a letter from another friend of mine who mere months later was sectioned under the mental health act as a danger to others accusing me of having stolen his copy if Malcolm Lowry’s ‘Under the Volcano’. In it he adds that he is extremely (underlined) angry and that this letter will be the last ‘peaceful’ attempt to recover his property. How can I have completely forgotten a letter like that? If it’d been e-mail it’d be lost in the ether. Of course sometimes that’s a good thing – letters can be very melancholic as they remind us of years past when we were still bristling with ambition and as yet unbowed by mediocrity! Coo – hark at Mr Maudlin here ;-)

There was also a letter that I read through, looked at the signature, looked at the return address and still couldn’t figure out who she was. Then it came to me – at the time she was my girlfriend. Now that did make me feel bad. Perhaps after all it’s a good thing to not have to collect all these mementos any more.

‘Christmas’ Dinner

Last night to the Nipa Thai with my colleagues for our somewhat delayed Xmas dinner. As both Search & Extranet attended there were some really monumentally tedious people there. I could see Sarj across from me desperately trying not to yawn as Big Boss started his (and I really am not making this up) 2nd hour talking exclusively about Ealing comedies with the occasional foray into Steptoe and Son. When the conversation turned to the mechanics and execution of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang vs. The Lion King I seriously considered throwing myself under a passing drinks trolley but sanity prevailed. The food however was excellent – some of the best I’ve had. Of course my colleagues were not as aware of this as me given that all 8 of them ordered the set menu. Eesh. I just couldn’t bring myself to conform. It is odd when everyone else is ordering the same thing how excluded you feel ordering different things, but fuck ‘em. No way I’m going to order something I’m only indifferent to just to fit in. My food (deep fried crab & chicken sausages w/ plum sauce, hot and sour coconut chicken soup, prawn Thai salad w lemongrass and mint) was both more interesting and I could finish everything I ordered. I actually tried some of most of the set menu as well, because of course there was no way that they could eat it all.

The other thing of course is that these events tend to be very sober – I never drink on such occasions because if I start I will want a fuck of a lot more that would be considered seemly in these circles. During a meal lasting over 2½ hours between the 8 others they consumed a grand total of 3 bottles. Admittedly some of them were driving (because they always do) but even if they hadn’t been it would have made no difference. I know I’m an old soak but for any kind of a decent evening out you should really be looking at the bottles per head side of the equation instead of the other way around. I guess I shouldn’t moan because it was, after all, free, but all the same there does seem to be a certain type of corporate apparatchik who’s mission in life (all unbeknownst) is to carefully extract 50-75% of the fun from any given outing.

Ally Pally

From the top deck of the 259 / 279 heading East along Seven Sisters just as it turns left at Amhurst Road look across and see Alexandra Palace. You can also see the Ridge Road housing project facing it from Crouch Hill looking like a great big overdeveloped cliff face – it’s really quite an odd view. Everyone know how much Ally Pally dominates the skyline in Crouch End, but it’s not always apparent how much the buildings on the North face of Crouch Hill answer back. Interesting.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Tonight I am going to our office Christmas meal. Horrible but true.

Pan's idle Thursday afternoon hungover daydream :-

Beyonce Knowles
Catherine Zeta Jones
Drew Barrymore
Julia Roberts
Kate Hudson
Paris Hilton
Rachel Weizz
Reese Witherspoon
Renee Zellweger
Uma Thurman
Winona Ryder
Alex Parks
Bridgett Fonda
Charisma Carpenter
Edith Bowman
Helen Hunt
Jennifer Connelly
Jennifer Garner
Jodie Foster
Julia Stiles
Madeleine Stowe
Naomi Watts
Rachel Leigh Cooke

I can't believe I just spent half an hour making this pathetic schoolboy list. Sometimes I can even surprise myself with my utter lameness. And then to go and blog it - have you no shame man?

Eeesh – out again last night, this time with Stev & Mac at The George, which is a bit of a city wanker pub but not bad all the same. And they have the best ashtrays – highly collectable. You can tell it’s in the city because a) It’s full of blokes in suits and b) The toilets cubicles have flush fitting floor to ceiling doors and lovely long wide flat porcelain plinths. Yummy.

Stev, bless him, has a problem with mobile phones – he simply can’t abide them. It’s all a bit of a pose of course but he has been extremely consistent in his condemnation of them - as a reasonably senior city lawyer specialising in corporate takeovers it’s been a major feat to avoid ever having one of the wee beasties. Anyhoo Mac was winding S up last night by showing him her very shiny new Ericcson. It must have been when he realised that all the crap hanging off it

in manner of Japanese cybergirl was actually Hello Kitty crap and NOT Afro Ken crap that he finally cracked and deposited said phone in a pint of beer (Kronenberg 1664). Unsurprisingly it stopped working. 10 out of 10 for style, and very funny, but £250 for a 10 second sight gag is really kinda showing off, even for a city lawyer. I did however learn that T-mobile Ericcson sim cards work in my crappy Virgin Motorola.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

I've been invited on a stag night. I have a confession to make: I hate stag nights. I hate both the individual aspects of them and the whole horrible thing in itself. But more specifically :-

1) The enforced maleness. This may have made sense when blokes only hung out with other blokes and the only women they knew were their mothers and potential wife material. This just isn't the case anymore, so why do we restrict ourselves to only 50% of our friends? Do we think our lady friends will be unable to take 27 verses of 'I used to work in Chicago' and the sight of a bored woman with tattoos and breast implants sliding up and down a pole? I don't think many women would want to attend a stag night as they currently stand, but if they were more of a regualr feature, they might. The whole scenario conjours up 1950s style Dr & Nurses 'hi-jinks' and golf playing mysogenists. It's the strongest indication of the outdated and anacronystic nature of stag nights there is.

2) The rudeness. I don't want to have my night ruined by sitting next to a dozen wankers in a pub singing limerics about someone called Mabel, so I can't imagine anyone else does either. It's just so fucking rude. I'm still shuddering about the time XX gave a speech in a restaurant and demanded (and got) silence from all the other diners. OK - this was not exactly The Savoy, but so what? Still fucking rude wherever you are.

3) The enfored drinking. I like drinking as much (in fact rather more) than the next person but I prefer to do it in my own time and at my own pace. I don't want to be told that everyone is going to a club now, so finish your drink becasue we're leaving.

4) I don't like strippers. The last staggie I went on was (partly) in a private room at a restaurant. Anyway this young woman got on the table and proceded to disrobe completely. She of course was completely blase about this but I nearly died of embarrasment.

5) The expense. The weekend (it's never just 1 night anymore) I've just been invited on has an entry level price tag of gbp 300 before we even get to booze, food and 'incidentals' (shudder). There is no chance of getting away less than 500 down. At the moment what with being suddenly jobless there is just no way I can earmark this kind of money just to get pissed with a bunch or witless fools I see all the time anyway.

6) It's completely meaningless. What are we attempting to achieve here? Some sort of cathartic blow out before the condemned man is forced into a fawn cardigan and never allowed out again? Crap. I don't know anyone who got married with anything less than 100% committment - there's simply no need for some sort of knees up. It's not as if this is the last you'll see them. You know damn well that 2 weeks after the honeymoon you'll be able to see the groom crawling home from the Blue Posts being sick in the gutter and with his wife being sick beside him. As is only right and proper.

In summary - stag nights are boring, mysoginistic, unpleasant, aggravating and too fucking expensive.

If it wasn't for the money I would just bite the bullet and go; rite of passage, once in a lifetime, you're a miserable old moaning bastard etc etc; but I so can't afford it. And I can't say that cos I'm fairly certain the guys would just all chip in and pay my way for me if I did. Which would make the whole thing infintely worse!!

In praise of the shitty London pub.

Last night I went for a drink with fm1 and ex-fm1. Randomly we went to The Crown on Seven Dials which turned out to be very nice indeed in a ‘completely everything you expect and want in a local but located in Covent Garden instead’ kind of a way. It’s quite odd that even in the middle of one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations some pubs remain utterly tourist free. Why is that? Do they appear threatening to French language students and American travellers, or is it just that they don’t have anything tourists want. Personally I’m very fond of Stella, smoke, rickety stairs to dubious toilets, pies, prints of ‘Olde Londone’ and that strange mix of office workers, drunks, builders, students and oddball poseurs that seem to inhabit them throughout the day, but maybe that’s just me.

Perhaps it’s because they are unaware of the social contract going on. The London pub is not primarily about sociability though that is of course important. It’s certainly not about food, or being seen, or some sort of social exposure. It’s about getting pissed. Whether you’re with your mates, your colleagues or on your own with the Guardian, the social contract between you and The Guvner is very simple : “Provided you (the customer) don’t annoy the other customers by being too loud / intrusive / a total wanker we will continue to serve you with alcoholic drinks long after any sensible person would have stopped, provided you still have money to pay with and can stand at the bar with no more than a 30º tilt to starboard. We will also provide sticky tables, wobbly stools, ashtrays the size of dustbin lids and a bollocks juke box for your drinking satisfaction.”

That’s all I need. I don’t need an offer of Spiced venison sausages with celeriac mash & onion gravy, or wine by the bottle or flowers on the table. No, I like a nice grimy boozer where the absolute minimum is required of me – I could be wearing my dressing gown for all anyone would care – where I know I will be able to sit from 6pm till chucking out time, drinking myself into a regrettable condition in the sure and certain knowledge that no-one, be it fellow punter or bar staff member is going to get on my case about anything. However I can see that all this might not be immediately appealing to the casual visitor. It’s their loss I guess, and if you do want all the above mentioned crap you can always go to All Bar One. Which, incidentally, always seems to be full of tourists.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

10 books I've never read but have pretended I have :-

Anna Karenina : Leo Tolstoy
The Swiss Family Robinson : Johann Wyss
Black Beauty : Anna Sewell
Wuthering Heights : Charlotte Bronte
Brave New World : Aldous Huxley
The Communist Manifesto : Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels
Pride and Prejudice : Jane Austen
The Little Prince : Antoine de Saint-Exupery
The Illiad : Homer
Treasure Island : Robert Louis Stevenson


I got fired again. Or rather I was informed that my contract is not being extended. This is not really anyone’s fault – I’ve been here 18months, the longest period a contractor can normally be contracted so come the middle of next month I’m outta here. I guess I could have become permanent but I think both sides agree that I’m not really permy material - that would be a mistake. Basically my inability to follow rules and comply with office hours while acceptable, or rather irrelevant, in a contractor who can do the do on a regular basis without having to be told (and I can) is not something that can be tolerated of a wage slave in a corporation such as this. So it’s really nothing to do with my work but simply a matter of HR rules and the old square peg/round hole problem. Must remember to act more compliant next time around. Well I say that now, but you know it’s not going to happen. If there ever is a next time around :(

My boss is going to ‘explore some avenues’ and see what can be done but he’d have to go to his boss’ boss’ boss to overturn the 18 month rule – only two down from the great leadereen himself so I’m not holding my breath.

Pan contemplates the future :(

Now playing : ACDC – Highway to Hell.

I can’t believe I dissed the creativity of the canteen salad team. If boring (or for that matter sane) salad was a person it would have, like, 20,000 caps busted in its ass. Just from today we have : Rice with tangerine segments, sultanas and coconut, red cabbage with apple and (my favourite) macaroni with grapes and strawberries. To show my appreciation I have all of them in the same tub. It’s like a carbohydrate fruit salad train wreck. Because I’m so hung over I also have a prawn mayo bap, strawberry milk and 2 apples.

And why am I hungover? Because I went to the Chandos with fm1 and fm1’s sister. Fm1 being sensible went home about 10 o’clock but that wasn’t enough for me and Lucy. Oh no. Last seen we were in Garlic & Shots being given rounds of free shots by the barman. I have no idea what I said to him, but whatever it was clearly hit the spot.

I don’t think Lucy liked her bloodshot much – given the choking, shaking of head and threats to kill me. I of course swallowed mine like a man – I think I must have been showing off. Hmmmmm . . .

Have started on my ‘salad’. It is beyond vile.

Monday, January 12, 2004

In response to a lot of stories in the last few months I wrote this but then decied not to publish it; I couldn’t work out if I was being too extreme or not. Then I was reminded of the Maher Arar affair by The North Carolina Experiment, and realised that sometimes you just have to let fly – it’s getting a bit late for polite restraint. If you’re offended by this don’t be – it’s meant with the best of intentions in a spirit of constructive criticism – write me instead.

Letter to America.

During the cold war the Soviet Union accused America of being all kinds of bad, bad things : War mongering, manipulative, fascistic, interfering, greedy, corrupt politically, corrupt economically, racially divided, intent on creating an underclass of the economically marginalized, driven by increasing rewards for the fabulously wealthy at the expense of the ridiculously poor, lacking health care for the poor, the elderly, the disadvantaged, incapable of providing a free and equitable education system for all, rewarding avarice, belittling redistribution, drowning in crime while locking up more and more of it’s own people, internationally blinkered, bigoted, politically bankrupt and pork-barrel overrun, environmentally blinded, rampantly religious and incapable of making logical ethical decisions; basically a society running onto the rocks and acting increasingly insane.

People heard what the Soviets said, looked at America and, by and large, laughed, because the difference between what was said and the reality that presented itself was so clear and so wide.

But now, when the Soviet Union is long gone and the new right have all had a jolly good laugh at how they buried those commies . . . it’s all starting to sound, well, not as funny as it once did. Maybe it seems improbable but I honestly don’t see how America can survive another Bush term intact. Another 4 years of this demagogue and his cronies and God knows what will happen. Economies can be rebuilt, reputations can be repaired, friendships can be patched up but the basic fabric of a country – the social contract that allows individuals to act together as one nation – when that goes it takes more than a couple of years of deficit taxation and eating some humble pie at the UN to put right. If Bush gets another 4 years with a compliant Congress there could well be nothing left where America once was except a sizzling hole full of corruption, greed, hatred, God & guns.

I’m not kidding – get rid of this monkey and his crooked troupe while you still can – you’ll be helping yourselves and you’ll be helping the world as well. This isn’t an attack on America or on traditional American values – this is fear about what lies at the end of the path down which President Bush, the Neo-Cons and PNAC is leading the American people. It’s only because America has such a notable tradition of helping the poor and the outcast, of supporting democracy and rewarding fairness, of helping the disadvantaged whilst encouraging intellectual, entrepreneurial and financial rigour at home and abroad that I’m saying this. The higher you climb, the greater the potential fall, so don’t fall!.

If I didn’t like America, if I didn’t care about what happens to America and the American people, I wouldn’t be writing all this – after all, we don’t care what befalls our enemies, just our friends. I’ve been to America at least 10 times in the last 5 years and Americans aren’t greedy, they aren’t corrupt, they aren’t idiots and they aren’t bullies. What they are is being systematically misled by their government whose lies and misrepresentations are endorsed and corroborated by a lazy, scaremongering and blinkered media. Wake up dudes!

But, America, if you must stick with Bush, and it really is your decision guys, just try not to take the rest of us with you when you go, OK.

After dinner at Mac’s on Friday (very nice) I arose reasonably early and went for a nice long walk round North London : Fitzrovia – Camden – Kentish Town – Tufnell Park – Holloway Road. I then proceeded to lie on the sofa for 3 hours, watched the Home and Away omnibus (I have a secret thing for Angie - it’s a shame she just got chopped into little pieces, though predictable enough, seeing as how everyone in Summer Bay has been spotted giving her a smack in the last week) and then went out for Chinese with the kids, followed by an impromptu trip to the ever wonderful Garlic & Shots.

But the big news is the sudden slew of impending marriages. The Captain & Micky have finally got round to it, for which I am being Best Man. Yay. Also Steph & Paul have announced their engagement, so congrats to everyone involved. That makes 3 weddings this year. At this rate I’m going to be the only person I know not married :(

At least the divorces have started.

Sunday was equally entertaining - I got up about 11 and spent 4 hours cleaning the kitchen and made 6 pints of delicious spicy lentil soup. This getting up in the AM certianly helps with sleeping properly - yet again I was able to leave the house while it was still dark. It will be dark before I leave work as well. Sing yay for winter.

Last night myself, fm1 and fm1’s bf settled down to the nail biting climax of the World Dart’s Championship. I have long enjoyed slumping in front of the teev to watch men with bad haircuts throw arrows about but I was however unaware that fm1 used to be a keen player – and she certainly displayed an unprecedented grasp of 3 dart outs : 127 = treble 19, 20, bull.

As I’m sure you are aware the final score was 6-3 to Andy ‘The Viking’ Fordham. Now this is the sort of character that makes sport on the TV worth watching. Even if you have no more understanding of darts than, say, Sumerian relicries, the magnetism of the man comes through. Several times we were reduced to awe by the circumferance of the forearms, the luxuriance of the mullet, the sheer terrifying size of the guy, and of course his icy calm. When it comes to pressure darts he didn’t miss a trick. Amazing stuff.

Friday, January 09, 2004

Everywhere I go people seem to be blogging about hygiene at the moment. Bloggers like to spend a lot of time talking about how messy they are, but actually they are almost certainly in the top 10% of obsessive cleanliness freaks. To make my point I have carefully and scientifically constructed a 12 step questionnaire in order to discover what kind of a skank you are.[ . . . Pan's answers . . . ]

1) In the last 3 years how long (Alaskan trekking expeditions excepted) have you gone without washing your hair?
5 days
2) How long past its sell-by is the oldest item in your fridge?
everything is in date
3) How many items are there on your bedroom floor that shouldn’t be there?
4) How long do you go before cleaning behind the U-bend?
5) The patter of tiny feet tell you the mice are back. How long till you can be bothered to put down traps / poison?
2 weeks
6) The cast of Will & Grace are coming over for supper. How long will you take to clean beforehand? How long should you take?
1 hour. 2 days
7) There’s a dead computer monitor in the corner of the bathroom. How long will it take you to have it disposed of?
6 months
8) How long do you go before cleaning the kitchen floor
2 months
9) Carrying the laundry through a pair of worn socks falls off in the hall. How long can they stay there without feeling an urge to pick them up?
4 weeks
10) How long can a saucepan of vegetable soup remain covered and undisturbed on top of the stove?
1 week
11) You see a cockroach. How long till you’re on the phone to the bug man?
30 seconds
12) Do you have dirt under your fingernails right now?

Just when I thought the days of canteen salad bar virtuosity were well and truly over they pull an 18-wheeler out of nowhere : New potatoes with bacon and aniseed. Yum yum.

Now playing : Trini Lopez at PJ’s. With the possible exception of Made in Japan, probably the best live album ever recorded. PJ’s seems to have been some legendary sinkhole in Hollywood in the mid to early 60’s, apparently a favoured hangout of the rat pack, but beyond that I can’t find out much about the place. To me it conjours up such a rich image of a certain period – urban hipsters, twin-set secretaries, wannabe hustlers, slumming celebs, sweating ad-men, Rockwell engineers on a night out, everyone drinking Mai-tais and Bourbon on the rocks like tomorrow doesn’t exist . . . On the album you can hear this drunken mob singing along, yelling to their friends, jabbering inanely and above all screaming for more booze. You can practically smell the spilt drinks, the cigarette smoke and the cheap cologne, feel the stickiness of the carpet and the heat – awesome.

This week has been a complete non starter, excepting Monday’s trip to the pub of course. Caused largely by impecuniousness - thank God I get paid Monday. With my luck the bank will have cancelled my overdraft and I’ll still be broke. Arse. Still that’s Monday – no point worrying about it now.

However I did mange to boost my available cash limit by nearly 50% by finding a £2 coin down the back of the sofa (yes I was looking). This leaves me with £5.86, and I have £2.11 on my Girovend card. There’s Woo, and there’s Hoo.

I have been doing some top level scrounging this week – Monday Phil lent me some money so as to get to work. Wednesday I went to Jacoby’s paid for by my noble employers - I can heartily recommend the Duck Confit. Tonight going round to Mac’s so need to sing for my supper ;-). Apart from that I’ve been living off 29p packet noodles, indigestion tablets and going to bed early. As a result of which I feel remarkably chipper – fresh faced and ready for anything.

Talking of the pub, it seems to be something I hardly ever do these days – at least in comparison with days of yore. I guess I’ll haul myself to The Swimmer with Phil once a week or so, but apart from that I just don’t seem to go any more. Before Christmas went to Big Red on a whim, and some Fridays will see me lurking in The Chandos with fm1 and her sister, or occasionally I’ll end up in The Princess Louise with The Kids but that apart, going to the pub now seems very ‘destinational’. How sad is that? I remember about 3 years ago me and Hari went to The Yorkshire Grey 5 nights running from 6 o’clock till closing time. We didn’t plan it – it just happened. We must have drunk 70-80 pints no problem. Happy days.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

I got an email from someone I used to go out with asking me to update my phone numbers etc. How bizarre. I can only assume that I remain in Kat's contact list through error - she sure didn't reply to anything I sent her in the last year. After I'd sorted her head out, analysed her (and their number is legion) problems, discussed her difficulties with her mother, calmed her down and councelled her into getting a job, an apartment and a life she never wrote back again. And all of that after she'd dumped me!!

I did of course update my details, and that makes me a loser.

Ignoring things that are going to kill you / your partner here's my top 10 of rubbish diseases to have if you're trying to get laid:-

1) Shingles
2) Irritable Bowel Syndrome
3) Psoriasis
4) Acne
5) Tourette’s Syndrome
6) Dysentery
7) Seasonal Affective Disorder
8) Tapeworm
9) Attention Deficit Disorder
10) Head Lice
And 5 conditions that seem to be no bar whatsoever :-
1) Blind
2) Deaf
3) Obsessive Compulsive Behaviour
4) Consumption
5) Missing Limb

Another day another crackerjack lunch from the canteen. The salad bar had gone from surreal to uninspired to terminally boring in the last 3 months. I now look back with rose tinted spectacles to the days when they used to offer such exciting combos as 'spicy sausage & turnip' or 'chickpea with orange and anchovy'. Today's salad utilised the most exciting of the 'Hot New Choices for 2004' range : rice, sweetcorn, red onions, tomatos & chile oil. Dull.

To liven this up I treated myself to a cup of mulligatawney soup. Only problem is that I always forget how utterly disgusting mulligatawney really is. Seriously it's like drinking a cup of Vesta curry sauce except thinner with more pepper. Ack.

Anyone who isn't British / wasn't alive during the 70s will find our strange attraction / repulsion to the world of Vesta incomprehensible. Suffice it to say this flithy muck caused a veritable cuisine revolution circa 1972 without which the likes of Jamie, Nigella et al would be impossible despite being, basically, shit. Bad Vesta!

The kids on the train this morning were talking about some kid in their class who got stabbed on Monday, but has now been released from hospital. The consensus seemed to be that there must have been at least 25 people who saw it happen, so plenty of people know who done it, and there will therefore be no problem 'sorting it out' later. Mmmmmm - I feel safer already.

I’ve had a bad cold recently and it’s had a really weird side effect. No, apart from using a small forest of tissues mopping up the fluids leaking out of me from all points (hardly weird is it?) - my hearing has improved dramatically!

For nearly a year I’ve had a terrible ear canal problem. Despite the repeated use of drops, sluicing, syringing etc it just wouldn’t stay clear. A few years ago I had an antibiotic resistant eardrum infection that caused some problems too although I did manage to get rid of it eventually. All these added up to me being at least 50% deaf in one ear. However, having had this wicked head cold and going virtually completely deaf during it I have now recovered, and amazingly my hearing has come back as well. The world now seems . . . LOUD. I can hear my colleagues bitching about me and everything. In fact yesterday I heard something despite being 8 yards away that someone 2 yards away didn’t hear. In fact my hearing seems almost unnaturally acute, almost like . . . Daredevil.

For mild mannered Panachetta it was strictly business as ususal. Cruelly struck down in the prime of life (33) by an excess of waxy build up he seemed doomed to spend the rest of his life shouting ‘What?’ in noisy bars. But when a freak head cold left him with powers he had never dreamed of it seemed like a dream come true, until one day the terrible truth dawned on him. He was slowly but irresistibly turning into Ben Affleck.

Christ. I think that’s the first time I’ve written something that has genuinely scared me.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

I’ve been reading the wise and witty words of wacky Ann Coulter again so naturally my blood pressure is approaching ‘nuclear power plant seconds before critical core failure’. Sheesh. Now there’s a scary fucked up loon.

Al Franken was correct in his book Lies . . . about the favourite tactic of the new right – just come out with a stream of colossal lies and repeat them endlessly. Never let copious factual evidence to the contrary put you off. Sooner or later people will start to believe you simply because they can’t believe anyone would be so dumb as to keep lying this long if it wasn’t at least part true.

The other most favoured tactic (and this is an AC fave) is to make out that Liberals are sneakily crushing patriotic conservatives and abusing their ‘power’ to always get their own way. It’s a classic piece of GOP crap – although conservatives control the Presidency, both houses of Congress, nearly all of corporate American & Wall St and either own or set the agenda in print, tv and of course radio media they’re still complaining that liberals are somehow ‘in charge’. Of course it’s just a big lie, but by continuously repeating it they hope that maybe someone will say ‘Gee – maybe those liberals are somehow calling the shots'. Trust me - they’re not.

Ann daydreaming . . .

The reason for being hungover yesterday was because I went for lasties with Phil at the pub and then drank a few beers at home afterwards. I’d kinda blanked it because I made an utter tit of myself in the boozer. I’d got there first but only had a fiver and a few coppers on me, so I needed to find out if I had enough for a round. Unfortunately I was being served by the barmaid who is just pointlessly, ridiculously good looking. The kind of person who you see and just can't stop wondering why she is here pulling pints in a pub in North London when she looks like she could be living in an underwater bunker beneath a pacific volcano lake plotting the destruction of the universe. Alas my brain instantly flipped into panic gabble mode:

ME : A pint of Litovel please

HER : There you go. £2.70 please

ME : And how much is a pint of Pride?

HER : Her £2.40

ME : So how much is that together?

HER That’d be £5.10

ME : OK, a pint of Pride as well, please, because, umm, I’ve only got a fiver and I just can’t add up two numbers in my head. Just can’t do it.

What??? Can’t add £2.70 and £2.40 together?? So basically I am now either an innumerate retard or a babbling dunderhead. As I have a degree in Astronomy I can only assume that babbling dunderhead is the correct diagnosis.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

In a list sort of a way : my favourite films by country.


Don't Look Now
Gregory's Girl
The Ladykillers
The Hunger
Withnail and I
Belle de Jour
La Cérémonie
La Cite des Enfants Perdus
La Fille sur La Pont
La Petite Voleuse
Les Amants du Pont-Neuf
Les Valseuses
Les Visiteurs
That Obscure Object of Desire
The Big Blue (Director's Cut)
The Wages of Fear
Alice in the Cities
Run Lola Run
101 Reykjavík
Battle Royale
Lilja 4-Ever
Show me Love
The Seventh Seal
12 Monkeys
A.I. Artificial Intelligence
An American Werewolf in London
Being John Malkovich
Blade Runner
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Ginger Snaps
Mulholland Drive
Once Upon a Time in the West
Singin' in the Rain
Some Like it Hot
The Thin Red Line
The Unbelievable Truth
The Usual Suspects
Thelma and Louise

I just ate an orange that’s been sitting on my desk for at least 6 weeks. It was sort of fizzy, but frankly I don’t give a damn. Wish I hadn’t worn my clogs to work today. Actually they’re sort of trainers, but in the style of clogs. You can slip them on and off. Very handy in Japan they were too. But not so much use for navigating 2 inches of mud in deepest Hertfordshire.

I had a sudden urge at lunchtime to steal one of the horses that live the other side of the river (I’m really not making this up) and ride away but didn’t for the following reasons:-

1) Horse didn’t look too happy to start with.
2) Barbed wire fence in the way.
3) Horse quite muddy actually.
4) Horse eating bark off trees. OK I know deer eat tree bark, but horses? That can’t be right can it? Is eating bark off trees a sign of Horse Mad Cow – Equine Spongiform Encephalopathy. Doesn’t matter anyway unless you’re French of course.
5) I haven’t ridden a horse since pony trekking at Corfe Castle aged 7. The whole of the Isle of Purbeck is beautiful in fact. Definitely a nice place to go camping if you like it quiet.

Maybe I should have saved my orange for horse. But then again given it’s iffy nature it hardly seems fair. Actually do horses even eat oranges? Apples - check, grass – check, oats – check, bran – check. But you never hear of people giving horses oranges. I bet they’d eat them tho.

Perhaps oranges are like horse Kryptonite.

I know a married couple who regularly call each other horse in public. In fact I’m going on holiday with them in 4 weeks time. And Mistress Spider Claws too. Jesus.

I’m feeling very unbloggy today. In fact I’m feeling all round miserable and uncommunicative and negative. Feel ill. Only another 6½ hours to go. I’m never going to make it.

I’m having a problem with black cabs. OK so they’re overpriced and still never there when you want one, but at least they know where they’re going, right? Right?? Hah!

Gosh I’m crabby today. Was pissed off by a huge poster outside FP tube station paid for by the LTDA (they don’t even have a website which says it all really) depicting a group of rickshaws hugely emblazoned with the words : “Don’t Licence – BAN”. Which got me thinking. Obviously black cabs hate rickshaws because they are ‘stealing our custom’. Well woo-hoo. I wouldn’t have thought the Daily Express reading hordes of Chingford would actually have anything to fear from a bunch of workshy dope smoking hippy slackers in cycling shorts, but apparently I am mistaken. Which leads me to think which fares exactly are being stolen? The only ones I can think of are the people who want to go from Wardour Street to Berwick Street or from Covent Garden to Leicester Square. ie tourists who are unaware that these locations are less than 1 minute apart. So well done London cabbies – nice of you to get on your high horse about defending your God given right to rip off visitors to London who don’t know any better. I’m sure it’s extremely lucrative – what with the flat fare start it’s money for nothing in fact; no wonder you don’t want to lose that market.

Gosh I really am crabby. And I also used the phrase “high horse”. It’s what everyone’s saying on the battlefield this season. And also please don’t take this blog as an endorsement of the rickshaw (soooorrryy ‘trishaw) brigade either. Clogging up the streets with your ridiculous contraptions. The only time a real Londoner would be seen dead in one of your buttock facing love seats would be if they were, well, dead. Except that wouldn’t work either because there are no morgues in W1 – the nearest is UCH which is WC1 – off your patch, innit mate??

Apologies. I spent the whole night from 12.30 till 7.30 reading political commentary on the Bush government. As a result of which my head is now inflamed with violent hatred and my teeth have been ground down to the level of pennies. I just couldn’t stop. I know it’s pointless and can only reduce all right thinking people to a state of apoplectic impotence but sometimes these things just happen. I need to go home and lie down in a darkened room.

Monday, January 05, 2004

I was shocked how much I enjoyed watching Speed over Christmas. I mean, c’mon it’s Speed fer Chrisssakes. Actually what does come through loud and clear with the intervention of a few years is that it’s a pretty well written, paced and plotted action movie, and that Keanu is shit beyond all belief. Good at jumping on/off things and shooting guns, but there is not ONE line in that movie which comes out of his mouth without sounding like some half cocked self conscious gibberish bullshit.

But then there’s Bullock. Mmmmmm. In recent years I’d forgotten why I loved her so much but it brought it all rushing back – her cute little grey t-shirt and can-do chipmunk attitude. And her cute little bob. And all those teeth. She is the Girl Next Door of your dreams.

Creepily that rings a bell. Perhaps I am susceptible to GND syndrome generally, or maybe just women called Sandy. On New Year’s eve I disgusted The G Man by stating quite emphatically that I’d rather marry Sandy than Rizzo. What’s wrong with me?? What’s right with me more like.

Am I the only one?

In the tea room there are some magazine racks where you can only see the title and not the front cover and one was poking out called ‘Diver’. Am I the only person in the world whose first thought was that some naughty imp had been leaving porn in the tea room magazine rack again? I mean obviously it turned out to be ‘Diver incorporating Aqualung Weekly’ or some such, but sheesh, it’s a mistake anyone could make isn’t it?

Drawn in as I was to Diver this story in particular stuck out. I sure want to join those lobster fishermen for a long night trawling, what with my nervous high pitched laugh and all . . .

The price of salad in the canteen has rocketed!! A ‘12oz’ tub is now the price of the former ‘1 size’ tub which has become the more expensive 16oz tub. And what’s with the oz sized tubs? This is Europe guys! We haven’t done volume in ounces since 1971 in the UK and since about 1789 in the rest of it. I’m not complaining – I can convert as well as the next man (16oz = 1lb = .45kg = .45litres), and I’m certainly no metric nazi but it’s really weird. Where did they even find the tubs – Yesteryear Plastics?

Also, the tray reclamation area has been painted red, presumably as some kind of warning, and the sandwich vending machine is still out of order. Apparently it’s waiting for a part. And, I’ve (as of 15 minutes ago) just been informed of an unscheduled week long trip to RTP. Without weekend privileges. Oh goody.

Well isn’t it nice to be back at work after all this time off. No I actually mean that and not just because I can now blog away ;-) I actually quite like my work sometimes – not as much as lying on the sofa watching the telly but even that can pall after a while.

One reason for not enjoying this as much as usual is because I ‘m not drinking right at the moment and I have . . . the horror . . . not had a fag for 5 days!! I’m taking it one day at a time but this is good. Haven’t felt the harsh word of Dr Nic-O-Teen being put upon me yet but that’s probably partly because I’ve spent 3 of the first 4 days of the year confined to bed with a stinking cold – sneezing, coughing, aching joints, temperature, earache etc so the urge to fill my lungs with carcinogenic raspy smoke has been naturally reduced. Overall it’s good to haul my complaining carcass down the stairs and back to my place of employment to make some much needed cash. And cash is another very good reason for not drinking / smoking. There are 4 (yes 4) letters for me from the bank sitting on the table at home. So far I’ve had the courage to open exactly none of them. I know I must but all the same . . . they scare me.

I’ve tried giving up smoking before and never succeeded so I’ve made a little list.

Reasons why smoking is bad :-

1) Gives you cancer of absolutely everything – lungs, mouth, oesophagus, bladder, penis, vagina, you name it.
2) Gives you heart disease.
3) Whole selection of other unpleasant diseases – emphysema not least amongst them.
4) Makes your breath smell.
5) Makes your clothes smell.
6) Stains your teeth / hands / hair (yes I’m afraid so).
7) Very expensive – at least in the UK (£5 for 20).
8) Socially excluding.
9) Unpleasant for non-smokers.
10) Requires living with substance dependency (constant fear of running out of fags, like junkies always worrying about where their next fix is coming from).
11) Puts money in the hands of multi-national right wing mega corporations eg Philip Morris, BAT etc.

Reasons why smoking is good :-

1) Tastes fucking fantastic.
2) Looks cool.
3) Non-smokers often a bit whiny / holier than thou.
4) Best gossip and access to preferential relationship development available in smoking rooms (Smokers are a bit like The Masons - we protect out own).

OK – technically point number 2 is the result of 100 years of tobacco industry advertising saying : “Smoke fags kids – it’s cool!” but I still think there’s something a bit backward about anti smoking campaigns aimed at stopping teenagers from starting smoking in the first place. Telling them it’s really dangerous is only going to encourage them to start, and seriously, any 15 year old that is swayed by a warning that doing this will give him an 8% increase in the risk of developing a coronary thrombosis by the age of 40 should get out more. Now by the time you’re 30 all those picture of people having their voice boxes ripped out and their legs lopped off start to look a bit more threatening, esp with 15 years of gaspers under your belt. Guess it depends how much of a hypochondriac you are. And when you’re younger you don’t care about the smell because everyone you know / are likely to get off with is a smoker and smells of Old Coughs already. And let’s face it – go into a pub anywhere and you’ll end up smelling of fags regardless of your personal consumption.

Actually the worst non-smokers for the holier-than-thou “do you know how much this is damaging you/me/ my unborn child” routine are the ex-smokers. Ughh. Anyway I guess I must resign myself to joining their ranks. People who have never smoked tend to be remarkably tolerant of our filthy habit – it’s simply a non issue for them. I guess it’s the difference between someone who has been brought up within a religion and sees it as an integrated part of their life and the religious convert who feels a constant need to prosetalyze and proclaim their belief as a means of bolstering their faith and silencing cynics. I wonder if an addiction to fags is replaced by an addiction to smiting smokers - they do say that some people just have addictive personalities.

I’ve got to stop writing about this . . .

To quote HMP inmate number 108453 : "It’s good to be back, It’s good to be back." For once I had a pretty wicked New Year. And yes I did just use the word wicked. People came to me as outlined below but Mac & The G Man very kindly stumped up the cash for fud & everyone else brought booze / cheese / pudding / fireworks. If you want to totally impress with your cooking this is what me & The G Man ‘threw together’ for 10 :-

Antipasti (salami, palma ham, chorizzo, asparagus)
Tiger prawn kebabs with ginger lime & garlic
Dates cooked in bacon with red pepper & honey salsa
Wild mushroom risotto
Spinach with pepper
Venison & Pheasant middle eastern casserole.
Ice cream w/ berries
8 x cheese
A fucking TON of booze.

To my certain knowledge I ingested beer, sherry, prosecco, white wine, red wine & champagne at different and repeated points throughout the evening. Ack. However the fireworks that Jules was kind enough to bring were fantastic. I always seem to end up being head firework monitor these days so am happy to report that no-one was maimed though one of them did produce an awful lot more flying, burning embers than the average flat roof normally requires.

Oh yeah, and Teej went flipping mental but what else is new. Bonus points to Mac for getting her to shut up – scary!

Happy New Year campers!