Monday, January 31, 2005

Stupid Paul Simon

Sat in the office, listening to Simon & Garfunkel, and The Dangling Conversation comes on. Normally I skip over it, because I find it annoying. Here's why.

[NB - possibly of interest only to Simon & Garfunkel nuts. If you want to experience the full horror of this song, which was released as a single in an act of craziness that the sixties should be punished retrospectively for, it can be found on the less discerning Best Ofs, and lyrics can be found here. If you're not interested, put your fingers in your ears and hands over your eyes until I tell you to remove them.]

On the simplest level, he wants to write poetry, as he all but says in the song. This is because he's Important and Special and Clever. You can tell it's poetry, because it's dense with images, each more punchable than the last.

You can play the Paul Simon Game. He leaves a nice big gap after each line, presumably for you to contemplate what he's just said, and nod in recognition, but actually better put to use to insert a rejoinder, perhaps for

As we sit and drink our coffee/couched in our indifference
one might be tempted to add
Couch this, shortarse!
or similar.

Or to
And the dangling conversation
you could add
I'll dangle you in a minute - from a ROPE!
if feeling suitably violent.

Then at the end of the song, there's a hidden fourth verse, where Paul Simon slips out to have sex with a book of poetry. It was cut for reasons of length, and not taste.

Those of a nervous disposition look away now - there's going to be the smuggest passage of writing ever in the history of humanity, and then, for balance, a photo of Art Garfunkel covered in rats.

Like a poem poorly written
We are verses out of rhythm,
Couplets out of rhyme,
In syncopated time.

T-W-A-T is what that spells. Really, Paul, really. Is your relationship really just like a poem?

Secret Admirer?

Someone anonymously left a strange present, a token of affection, outside my office the other day. From an admirer, perhaps? Who could it be from?

It was rolls and rolls of old-fashioned fax paper. I'm touched. Like the old saying goes, 'say it with stationery'.

I think I might cry.

In television comedy news: The new series of Look Around You is on tonight (Monday 31st January, 10.00pm on BBC2). If it's as good as the first series they'll have achieved a remarkably consistent approach to programme making. NB: May be nerdier than the average person, but you're on the internet, which puts you in that bracket automatically.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Friday Afternoon

Ok wage-slaves, it's Friday, it's the afternoon, so I think we all deserve a bit of time off from the grindstone, eh?

OK, now get back to work. Have good weekends, y'all.

The Further Adventures of the Deadpan Conversation

A student is just about to leave the office when another member of staff comes in. I introduce them on the scantest of pretexts, because I'm starved of attention, and you can only flick elastic bands at the recycle bin for so long. Before long a connection has been made - a mutual acquaintance.

"Oh, I tried to get her on the phone the other day"
"Nah," replied the student, "she's always ill. Sounds like bloody Darth Vader: Asthma. It isn't politically correct, but, I mean, bloody Darth Vader. [Wheezes dramatically, then looks sheepish, having performed a crude and mocking impression in front of two near-strangers]".

In order to further prolong the embarrassment, I chip in with a phrase guaranteed to lead nowhere, but make both parties ponder further what has just transpired: "Well, at least you've got something in common."

I should become a counselor.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Hello There [insert name here]!

Some of the ways that I've been addressed recently at work:

  • Ah, so you're Jim.
  • Oh, I expected you to be older.
  • Mr Jim-sir.
  • Is that Mr Jim?
  • You're not [awed whisper]Jim, are you?
Well, I assumed it was an awed whisper. Could have been a disgusted whisper, I suppose.

My new left-alone-in-the-office tic is drumming on the table. Added to the other eccentricities I've developed, I wouldn't be surprised to be carted away somewhere comfortable by the end of the week.

Music news: LCD Soundsystem are pretty good - quirky sense of humour, the guy sounds like The Fall's Mark E Smith but is actually from New York (so I presume he took lessons, as I doubt sounding like Mark E Smith comes naturally to-a many people-a), and it's all over the sparse mildly funky disco beats with particular emphasis being given to cow-bells, as is the style today.

The Bloc Party are also pretty good - I'm always surprised when I enjoy new music these days - although I suspect the album I've acquired also includes demos/b-sides interspersed, because there's a lot that is in the punk-funk mould (see Radio 4, LCD soundsystem, Franz Ferdinand, and all those other bands whose songs sound like 'Nananana-squeak-bang') and there's a lot that sounds it's not been produced, like the Libertines (except better).

That's just saved you 70p or whatever it is these days to buy the NME. You can pay me when you next see me.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Brilliant Idea

Yes, that's right, I've got a brilliant idea.

There's thousands of sandwich shops across the land, right? And people hate sandwiches. You never see anyone eat one of them, do you? So, I buy them all up, and replace them with Takeaway Beans-on-Toast shops. Everyone loves beans on toast, and now they can enjoy them while walking down the High Street, Broadway or dual carriageway. I'm struggling over whether to call this empire

  • Toast-Haste
  • or
  • Bean & Gone.
I'm the Richard Branson who doesn't deserve a slow grisly death.

Any venture capitalists out there, or lonely widows, or idiot lottery winners, please get in contact with me in this Exciting Venture.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Zoe Williams...

Far be it from me to link to a Zoe Williams article... Well, ok, near be it from me then, but here goes:

This article from today's Gruniad nicely captures a lot of the ranting and huffing that I do about the housing market, although her solutions contain a lot less heavy ordnance than mine do.

Day two of being in the office on my own, and I've developed two exciting new tendencies:

  • Singing to myself absent-mindely
  • and
  • Rocking backwards and forwards on my chair in the manner of a disturbed child
Oh, I'm going to have some explaining to do when I'm inevitably caught in the act by the Vice Chancellor on a tour of the provincial offices with a gaggle of dignitaries, aren't I.

I may progress to unselfconsciously dancing round the office tomorrow.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Public Service Announcements

...if you understand 'public service announcements' as 'forthcoming gigs'. If not, I'm sorry for any confusion and for wasting valuable seconds of your time.

OK, two gigs by up and coming gunslingers (in the hip/young category):

First, both alphabetically and chronologically is Bison, who have a gig in London at West One Four in Kensington on the 5th of February. £6 on the door. I do believe that they've got a new MP3 on the website, but I couldn't get into the website. Bandwidth problems maybe. Anyway, they've very good, as those of you who were lucky enough to receive my Xmas Compilation CD will know.

See you there for Ska/Jazz/Soul, maybe more? Box 2341. No timewasters.

Secondly, there's the ever entertaining Warband on the 9th Feb at Dublin Castle, Camden, from 10:15pm to 11pm. Tickets are £5 or £4.50 with a flyer, obtainable from this email address. This, I'm also told, is Chinese New Year. What better way to celebrate, except perhaps by doing so in the presence of Chinese people? Anyway, they'll be nothing less than a very good time, and should you need convincing, they've got mp3s on their website, which I'm not typing out the link to again, thank you very much.

3dbl bedrooms, located in the heart of the electro-guitar district, suit prof couple. £5pcm, no timewasters.

Note: I am a member of neither of these bands, but am available (at rates negotiable) to perform cover versions of songs made popular by The Jungle Book.

Cross-Promotional Back-Slappery

Pubs. Gotta love 'em, eh?

If indeed you do, you'll want to go to the incredibly useful Fancy A Pint, where you'll be able to have a good nose round and vastly improve your drinks-life.

Oh, and the reviews for:

The Princess Alexandra

O's Bar

and T-Bird

were written by me, which makes them accurate in every which way. I could explain the science behind it, but you're all too dim to be bothering with. Begone!

Also, I invented sellotape and wrote the final draft of Albert Camus' The Outsider. Before I got my hands on it, it was a comic novel about a plucky left-back playing for Marseille, the centrepiece being a slapstick romp scene where he gets drunk and punches the Mayor's wife, and there wasn't all that much about his mum dying or him killing any arabs. The bugger didn't give me any credit, mind.

The Thoughts of Chairman Bill, Vol 1


I can see why communism came about. Quite often, while mulling over some injustice, I'll come up with some scheme based on the "from each according to his abilities; to each according to his needs" principles. This morning's was on the old Monday morning staple: The Weekend. Time, it was explained to me recently, is a relative concept, rather than a constant, and is therefore experienced differently by different people at different times, which goes some way to explaining why some meetings I attend start at 10am and finish at eternity. It's all too common that the weekend feels too short.

A far fairer system than the current one-size-fits-all Two Days to Each approach is needed. In order to fairly judge how someone's experienced their weekend, the following test is Scientifically Waterproof. You have not had your full quotient of weekend if you cannot come to work on Monday morning with 3 (three) anecdotes about what you did. This also has the dual benefit of going some way to negating Monday morning horror, as at least you'll be able to blather on about what you did, which in some cases will take you up to lunchtime having done no work.

Rollover Sundays (the name given to the extra Sunday allocated to those whose weekend was rubbish) will be allocated on a National Lottery-style TV show broadcast on Sunday evening, on all channels, where the names of every citizen will be read out in alphabetical order and a thumbs-up/thumbs-down system will be used. All channels will be needed to get all the names read, BBC1 being allocated surnames Aardvark to Babcock, BBC2 Badger to Bzzzz, and so on. In order to make sure that no-one cheats the system, we would of course need to have a Thought Police with absolute power and an all-encompassing remit to hunt down and punish transgressors and enemies of the system, but I'm sure that went without saying.

So, did everyone have a good weekend?

Friday, January 21, 2005

Get on the Bus

Yawn. Hello Friday.

In common with all bloggers everywhere (well, London), here's an anecdote about London Transport:

A woman in front of me gets on the W7 bus, the bus-stops of which move overnight in order to remind the comfortable citizens of Crouch End how lucky they are. It's one of those pay before you get on routes, and the woman makes the mistake of asking for a single to Finsbury Park. The bus driver, bored of the traffic jam he's been in for the past ten minutes, replies, "I'm sorry sir, but you'll have to go to the bus stop and buy a ticket from the machine."

There is a pause while the woman (who's actually very womanly) works out which part of what he's said pissed her off most. Before she finds focus for her anger, the driver catches up with himself, saying, 'Oh, er, sorry. And anyway, I don't even know where the bus stop is anymore. Just get on.'

And a bus driver winked at one of my friends when she got on the bus yesterday. This public service announcement, entitled Bus Drivers: They're Human Too, Y'know is available in Braille and the more exotic languages from your local library.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Deadpan Conversations With Shop Sales Staff, Vol 6

Scene: Londis, Highbury. The woman in front of me has just spent £20 on bread, and is heaving them into binbags. The shop guy has a new till, which allows him to scan barcodes.

Me: [tapping new till] How long before this thing breaks down and you have to go back to the old one, eh?
Shop Guy: Hmm.

I think I hurt his feelings, and my deflating Luddism was as misplaced as saying, 'well, he'll probably get cuter. I wouldn't worry too much' to a new mother. I still want to know what all that bread was about, though.

In other news: I was stuck in a meeting yesterday where I resisted the twin temptations of meetings, namely doodling and drinking too much coffee. With this kind of rampant professionalism I will rise through the ranks like a minor royal.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Enthusiasm Uncurbable

I've spent a good deal too much time this morning in email conversation with a man over a small depiction of a false beard, and why 'Bill' isn't acceptable, but perhaps 'Donkey' is. This doesn't seem like a profitable use of my time, but it keeps me from setting off fire alarms or tickling people.

I hate when you're reading a book or into a tv programme and you start unconsciously aping the characters and their way of speaking. Worse still, their way of thinking. Having got over my Seinfeld problems of some weeks ago, when I was unable to say anything without a cheesy grin and an obvious punchline while conspicuously tucking in my shirts. I fear that Curb Your Enthusiasm will have a less positive effect. I provide an example from the show for reference:

Larry, the protagonist, is discussing with his wife a phone call he made. He was supposed to put in a good word with a tv boss for an ex-employee, but he argued with him instead when the tv boss said that he never watched Seinfeld. His wife suggests he compose a letter of apology:

Dear Prick,
I'm sorry you're a prick. I didn't know you were such a prick when I called you, but it really turned out that you were. In any event, could you please give this young man a job.
I found myself in a discussion with my housemates about lightbulbs (wild, eh? Who wouldn't want to be a late-twentysomething?), where the consensus was that as 100-watt bulbs cost the same as 60-watt bulbs, 'who the hell would want a 60-watt bulb?' I took umbrage at this, the upshot of which was that I announced that later I would be removing a 100-watt lightbulb from the landing outside my bedroom and replacing it with an energy-saving bulb. Which I later did.

Perhaps I'd better start reading and watching things with positive role models as their central characters.

Also, the blogger spellchecker has just suggested I replace all instances of 'lightbulb' with 'lustfully'. Its reasons are its own.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Enthusiasm Curbed

Just got my parcel of the first two series of Curb Your Enthusiasm through from Yes, .com. They got held up in customs, and I had to pay a tenner to pick them up from the post office (still marginally cheaper than getting them from the UK, mind). Which leads me to present Some Useful Advice:

Customs are only interested in anything over £18 in value. If you're ordering anything from outside the EU (e.g. America, for the less geopolitically minded of you), they'll only delay and slap on the duty for something worth more than £18. This means (if you're me): one DVD boxset = cheap; two dvd boxsets = slightly less cheap.

Anyway, at least I'll be able to sit down and squirm in the comfort of my own home while watching someone even more capable of causing embarrassment than me.

In other news, I saw Closer yesterday, which is clever, witty, unusual and as bleak as the Daily Mail. I've just realised what one of my nagging doubts about it was though. In the strip club scene, the music playing is How Soon is Now? by the Smiths. I have never, in all my born days, experienced anything more incongruous. And, if you want to see pictures of someone ill at ease with fame, or possibly just a bit tired, check out these shots of Patrick Marber, who wrote Closer and is one of The Inner Circle of British Comedy's Elite. Probably has to clean Armando Ianucci's carpets to keep his membership.

Also disturbing about Closer was that one of my companions murmered a soft erotic breathy gasp of 'Jude' at one point in the film when Mr Law was on screen, and then looked deeply embarrassed when I noticed. He's been keen on me maintaining my anonymity, but I suspect this is just a pretence to keep his.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

The Etiquette Vet

Ok, here's a shameless plug. But given that this site is nothing but a shameless plug for how interesting I am, I'm sure you've already forgiven me. Cheers.

Yes, anyway the plug. The easily-impressed amongst you will have noticed in the top right of your screen, and been impressed by, the glowing logo of a spanky website called The Etiquette Vet. What, I hear you saying to your work colleagues as the nation becomes abuzz, is an Etiquette Vet? Well, I boom back in my deep rich voice, it's a repository of all the learnings built up over my twenty-mumble years in the front line of being polite and cordial to people. (Note: The military reference was for any American interlopers who will take the 'vet' to mean 'veteran', i.e. one having served in a war on the side of etiquette. To the rest of the english-speaking world, it will paint on your mind's canvas a picture of a man with his arm elbow-deep up a cow called Etiquette's arse. Both views are equally valid, post-mods.)

Anyhoo, take a look, let me know what you think, and take heed of the appeal for situations that require the firm guiding hand of etiquette to spank them into shape (another military metaphor there, for those who are counting).

Friday, January 14, 2005

Friday Afternoon: The Longest Hours

Hi. I'm this deep in powerpoint presentations, so I'm clearly in the mood to be distracted.

So, you've always like Trigger Happy TV, Beadle's About, Candid Camera, but the nagging doubt that they weren't nearly sports-centric enough has always lingered at the back of your mind, distracting you when you should be laughing at a man dressed up as a traffic policemen making all the traffic stop while a giant dog crosses the road? Well, the answer to your problems (the non-medical ones, anyway) can be found here. Warning: It's long, and features a jogger. And may or may not have sound, but you don't need sound for this.

I'll leave you, on this Friday afternoon, with the best simile in the current book I'm reading (NB he's in a swimming pool, context fans):

Sean semi-emerged from the Hockney deep, his eyes peering along the surface of the water like a sexually conflicted hippo.
If anyone's ever written a line about a sexually conflicted hippo before Peter Bradshaw in Lucky Baby Jesus, I'd like to know about it. Really. There's nothing in the bible, I know that. I'd like you all to do google searches, in the hope that someone somewhere takes notice of these things. (It just brings up an extract of the novel if you want to read more without going to the effort of buying it, or waiting for me, the slowest reader with a reading age greater than five in the London Borough of Harringey, to finish it so you can borrow it.)

Oh, and I've got plans afoot for a new website, which may explain the scantness of my recent postings. Probably over the next week or so. Oh yes.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Now, Far Be it From Me To Gloat...

... so I won't. I mention the Prince Harry/Nazi uniform gaffe only to show that The Sun may be taking this out of proportion. Below is the picture that accompanies the story on the story on the their website (click for bigness). I've only heard this story on the radio, and looking to The Sun for moralistic condemnation (with accompanying photos), I find that his only crime appears to have been to wear a shirt. Hmm.

However, my indignation (which some have found to be lacking from a man who terms himself 'The Angriest Man in Crouch End') returned when I found out that The Playboy Prince was attending a 'Natives and Colonials' party. It's a different bloody world, isn't it? Ah, those rich and their ways...

Gives me an idea for the annual Barrington expats party though.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Gore Blimey

Well, I've tried to resist as long as possible, but while searching for pictures of false beards on the internet yesterday (long story), I came across a picture that broke my heart. Here it is.

One, it reminded me that Al Gore lost in 2000. Which reminded me in turn that Bush won in 2000. Which reminded me that Gore grew this great beard. Which he then shaved off. And then, beard or no, he didn't stand in 2004. Which reminded me that the perma-grinning monkey-faced goon got reelected.

I ended up finding a lego website showing the head of every lego man ever made. Many of them had beards. I found this a bit weird. Click here if you want to see disembodied yet bearded lego heads.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Further Adventures in Teletext

I look up at the tv, showing ITV's daintily titled Early Evening News, and the male presenter is reading out the email, text and note-wrapped-round-brick-through-window responses to an earlier story. The teletext is on. I'm momentarily distracted, and I look back and see one of the most perfectly constructed sentences I've ever seen or am ever likely to see:

John from Romford says it's political correctness gone mad.

I broke into a smile and nearly burst out laughing, which is difficult enough to explain to you, the erudite and sophisticated reader of this blog, much less random sweating members of the public I've never met before.

Incidentally, I was at the gym - where did you think I was? At an orgy? Although I can see why they'd have to have the subtitles on, what with all the [content removed because the internet is not a suitable place for crudeness. Oh no.]

Thank heavens for John Prescott

Now, that may be the first time in history those five words have ever been uttered, but I mean it. If it hadn't been for the self-effacing Most Powerful Man in Britain laying into James Naughtie and waking me up, I'd have been late for work. Well, later anyway. The Deputy Prime Minister was being pressed on the squaring off between Blair & Brown, and Naughtie let fly with a low comment about Labour politicans sorting things out over meals, but then the pugnacious Prescott ducked, weaved and punched back with the counter-allegation that Naughtie should know all about meals, what with the grand affairs he throws where he invites politicians so that he can get juicy stories from them for his books. It then descended into a rather sordid self-involved argument about people who brief against people who brief. In a moment of searing clarity, rare enough in the mornings, I was struck by a vision of poor senior politicians, so starved that they are forced to attend these meals in order to exchange unattributed quotes for morsels of food. When, oh when will we pay our politicians a living wage?

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Back to the coalface

I'm back at work tomorrow, which means that under some kind of contractural obligation I have to read my emails and do work and all that stuff. Hmpf. I'll be tied up with deleting and ignoring things all morning. Therefore, I leave you with some of the things I saw on the teletext subtitles of the Yeading vs Newcastle match today. I don't want to denigrate the difficult task of the ceefax typist, but I suspect the guy was an excitable Yeading fan, and was having the greatest day of his life:



AND THE KEEPER IS JUST 45 MINUTES AWAY FROM A CALF (for those who didn't follow the match, and suspect that the keeper was having a tawdry love affair with a cloven-footed animal, the Yeading keeper Preddie was offered a car if he kept a clean sheet. He didn't.)

There were others too at the rate of about two a second, but my memory is like a sieve which mice have been chewing on, and I didn't write them down. I once thought of applying for a job writing the subtitles for TV programmes, in my darkest temping days, tempted by the prospect of watching TV all day, but then I realised that I'd probably have to (as a junior member of the office) do the subtitles to episodes of Oprah Winfrey Interviews Herself and the When Breakfast News Goes Wrong, and plus I can't actually type that fast, the money wasn't so good, and I've got a bit of a problem with accuracy (best summed up by the phrase I utter at least 15 times a day, 'bugger it, it'll do, which, if the stonemasons do their work correctly, will be carved into my gravestone).

Yeading had one or two Stevenage Boro players on their side, and I have something of a vendetta against Alan Shearer (the conception of this is lost in the mists of time, but I must have had a pretty damn good reason for hating him), so I'm saddened by the result, and also the relentless march of predictability. Oh, Monday, couldn't you give me a break once in a while?

Friday, January 07, 2005

The Aviator (A Review)

[Owing to time constraints and a short attention span, I present you with a barely proof-read review of The Aviator. I hope you enjoy it, but obiously not as much as you would if I'd actually written it properly. Have good weekends peeps.]

The Aviator, certificate, er, 15 probably, realeased nationwide today, I imagine, although don't quote me on that.

Martin Scorcese's latest attempt to colour the history books Leonardo DiCaprio weighs in at nigh on three hours for a biography of a man about whom most of us know nothing except that he spent the last years of his life wearing Kleenex boxes on his feet. Howard Hughes, the aviator in question, is first shown on the set of Hell's Angels, requesting more and more involved aircraft stunt scenes from the WWI epic. He is an arrogant but intelligent man, rich on his family's drill-bit money. The film carries us through to his interrogation in front of a congressional hearing for Hughes' alleged war profiteering and just before his final descent into complete bonkersdom, wherein he buys up the means to pursue his interests of twin flying (forming Hughes Aviation to make the planes and buying TWA to have something to do with them) and films (funding his own grandiose films, and eventually buying RKO). His third interest, attractive women, seems to be fed adequately from the glamour associated with the first two (Katherine Hepburn - played with vim by Cate Blanchett, Ava Gardner - Kate Beckinsale in a couple of short scenes, and others).

By focusing on the early years, Scorcese presents a classic story of rich boy made good, where the hero reels from one glamourous situation to the next. He rages against the even richer vested interests, who either fail to see the sense in what he's doing, or are threatened by it (the government, the rest of the aviation industry, the film industry, etc.). His humanity is defined largely in opposition to others (the pretentious artistic snobbery of the Hepburns, the obstructionist self-interest of established corporations, the probity of the censors, etc.), so much so that he's largely an empty vessel, only his encroaching Obsessive Compulsive Disorder fleshing him out. Heavy-handed psychoanalysis by the director (it was his mother!) feels unnecessary. Hughes' descent is so bizarre that it's hard to keep the level of sympathy up, despite Scorcese's best efforts, and eventually it's all but impossible to suppress the sniggers as the urine in milk bottles builds up. Certainly there was a fair amount of tittering in the audience I was in. Really the most tragic thing about him, underexplored in the film, is the way that his illness was indulged rather than treated because of his money, power and the overabundance of yes-men. To build up his repute, he's shown seeing the importance, before anyone else, of talking movies, long distance commercial air travel, monoplanes, jet engines, breasts and germs.

However, the film zips along, with a few good visual motifs (milk consumption, preponderance of the colour green, noisy noisy flashbulbs), and the helpful for the sub-retirement age Pathe news-style voiceovers to introduce yet another notable from the 40s. In case the glamour of the setting was in danger of making you forget who directed this movie, there is a really quite disgusting scene of a plane crash, that ought to have the label 'contains an extended scene of icky oozing pumping blood and buggeringly big explosions'. There's a quite wonderful cameo by Jude Law as Errol Flynn, displaying the rakish bullying self-confidence that made him shine in The Talented Mr Ripley. Although far too short, in the couple of minutes of screen time, he manages to upset Hughes and Hepburn by being outrageously blasé, and then proceeds to swashbuckle his way into a fist fight. Scorcese, if he's got any sense left, ought to have begun work on Errol before Law had a chance to shave off the moustache. Additionally, there's a possibly intentionally hilarious scene where an Evil Corrupt Businessman (the Pan-Am boss) is seen in an extravagantly decorated penthouse office caressing a globe as he undertakes a long power-crazed monologue. The vapidity of the central character reduces what would otherwise have been a great film into a portmanteau of entertaining scenes, without enough insight into the central character to tie them together. The cut-off point seems arbitrary, and perhaps more understanding would have been gained by viewing Hughes in later life.

Rating: 6 hobnobs.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Awww, isn't he a sweetie?

Right, all this recent photo frenzy will no doubt culminate in my parents coming online and posting my baby photos for all to see. I wouldn't mind that, as anyone who's ever spent more than five seconds in my company would know that I consider myself to have been The Cutest Baby That Ever Was Born. Seriously, I was cute.

Secondly, if you cast your eyes downwards and rightwards you'll see that I've added a link to all of the other blogs who share tube stations with me. When I say downwards and rightwards, I mean within the confines of your monitors, otherwise you'll just end up looking at a patch of carpet, and possibly one of your shoes. I've only managed to find one of even remote interest (sorry bloggers of N8, but you seem to all be self-regarding 13-year-olds with capitalisation problems all too intent on posting the contents of the sandwich you ate this lunchtime) is I See Famous People which lists famous people seen in Crouch End. For the record, I've seen Alexi Sayle chomping on meze, Simon Pegg squeezing vegetables, er, that guy from Coupling, you know, the Welsh one, and the once-ubiquitous Sean Hughes, who seems to have stopped leaving his house. To be quite honest, there's far more famous people in Islington, but this guy is quite good at spotting the evasive little Heat-fodder.

Next on the agenda, I'm sure there's a nascent rebellion brewing over Ken's decision to raise the bus fares to £1.20. Anyone want to join me in a bloodthirsty mob storming the Erotic Testicle? Or City Hall, as the GLA will still insist on calling it. We'd have to get travel cards, but I'm sure with our burning torches we can put in an application for a refund while we're there. An application for a refund with extreme force.

Finally, I leave you with a link. Here is what the most powerful man in the world calls his nearest and dearest as nicknames. Clearly, there's too much time on his hands. If I were the leaders of North Korea and Iran, I'd be clubbing together to buy the guy a Playstation or a cute puppy to keep him occupied.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

First they said it couldn't be done. Then they said it shouldn't be done. But at last, it is done. All three series of Fry & Laurie are now in my toilet, in handy-to-read book form.

In other news, below are some of the people I've recently received pornographic spam from. If you ever have the need to adopt a pseudonym, perhaps because the Queen dies, and you write bawdy limericks in her book of condolence, causing a grieving nation to unite as one against you, feel free to plunder from these:

  • Unregenerate U. Fulmination

  • Gus V. Hurricanes

  • Siamese K. Orthodox

  • Household Q. Excuses

  • Purpler C. Shovelfuls

  • Gutsiest A. Titillation

  • Flagellum G. Lane

  • Vanessa Redgrave
Except that last one. Don't use that, you'll get caught. She did really try and sent me porn though. She wanted to introduce me to some 'chikz that sqquirt'. Anyone else received emails of dubious moral content from Oscar-winners?

No, Michael Douglas doesn't count.

Deadpan Conversations With Shop Sales Staff, Vol 5

Scene: WH Smith at Euston Station, on the 29th, pissed off because everything is wrong with Britain and I’m being forced to spend more time in Stockport against my will, the train I’d booked on specifically to avoid spending any further time in Stockport having been cancelled, buying a magazine.

Me: Hi [presents magazine.]
Shop Girl: That’s £2.90. Would you like a special Xmas chocolate, only a pound? [proffers a large Toblerone]
Me: No thanks.
SG: But I’ve already scanned it through!
Me: I said no.
SG: OK, I’ve taken it off. That’s £3.90.
Me: But I said no. The magazine’s £2.90.
SG: Is it?
Me: Yes.
SG: OK, that’s £2.90 then.
Me: Thank you.

I’ve just spent a fortnight on a mainly Toblerone-based diet, so my refusal must be seen in this context. On a happier note, the New Scientist I bought (above) has these puns just on the cover:
  • Ladies Who Crunch
  • Parasites Lost
  • Moss Murder

Monday, January 03, 2005

Holiday pics

This post will veer dangerously close to being of severely limited interest, but hey! I'm the one in charge here, eh? Me and some friends went on holiday to Cornwall last year, and the resultant snaps have now been scanned in, and I've put them up on a beautifully functional website here. To further reduce the enticement, it has pictures of me with my top off which will come as no great surprise to anyone. Stupid winter, making me wear clothes.

Also, it breaks the strange code of anonymity which I've for some reason adopted. Why this secrecy? I couldn't really say. Maybe I had thoughts in the early days that I would be writing near-libelous exposés of corporate fraud and would need to hide behind a veil of mystery. I may still do this. London Metropolitan University and your evil slush funds, beware!

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Virgin Trains, Stockport and Toilets: a Cautionary Tale

Having been away to various parts of the country, most of which involved Stockport, I've now got a blog backlog, which is difficult to say if you're chewing on a pen.

As it's on my mind, I'll start with a tale of woe that will have you in tears.

A journey on Virgin Trains, returning from an eventful and enjoyable new year's eve. Train journey also eventful, but less obviously enjoyable. Gripped by an entirely natural, but not all that pressing desire to go to the toilet, I went to the nearest one in my carriage. Being one of Branson's new fleet, a sleek electric door slides open with a hiss. No toilet paper though. On to the next. Sleek shiny door opens with hiss, but refuses to close, with hiss or without. Consider throwing caution to the wind and going anyway. The caution, though, would be for indecent exposure, and possibly be more a custodial sentence than a caution.

This happy game is interrupted by an announcement that owing to a computer glitch, the train would be terminating at Rugby. Off the train, decide that platform toilets are likely to be freer of malfunction. A man crouched down in front of the Gent's says that the lock is bust, and suggests that I use the disabled toilet. Resisting the dadlike pedantic desire to tell him that this toilet, and indeed all the toilets I've tried to use on the journey have in some way been disabled, wander off in the direction of his point. Need a key to get in though, so humpf my way to customer services, where the man says he'll get the key for me in a sec, and then makes an announcement over the PA that, er, actually, we can all get back on the train we've just got off. To my delight, everyone gets back in the exact seats they had before they were expelled - Passengers of the 1730 from Stockport to Euston, you've made a weird man strangely happy. Resume my quest. Further up the train, encounter a toilet which refuses to flush away the last occupant's offering and has a non-electric door, traditional in all respects except its refusal to shut or lock. Finally, in the first class carriage, lending weight to my pseudo-socialist paranoia, I find a toilet that meet meets my needs, sitting on which I realise that combining the paper of the second toilet with the locking of the first would have made toilets three, four, five and six unnecessary.