Tuesday 3 February 2004
Excuse the continuing silence here. At the moment, I am bringing new meaning to the word "busy".
Amuse yourselves with the latest Weebl until normal service is resumed.
Humour over at the ‘spool. I reckon a 304 bra would sell well.
Tom on the subject of shampoo.
Beer tonight with Greg, Aris, Kearn, Paul C and various usual suspects. Gratitude to Julie for the lift home.
Wednesday 4 February 2004
Oh look. There’s a comet.
Thursday 5 February 2004
Rodney becomes a father, in fairly terrifying circumstances. Thoughts going to the whole family.
J.Lo’s bum: it woz The Sun wot cracked it!
Yay, yay and thrice yay! Absolute Power returns for a new series, with or without censorship, and is big enough to take mightily satisfying swipes at both HMG and the Beeb. And it’s bloody funny too.
Listen to tonight’s episode here whilst you can.
Interestingly, at the beginning of the recording, you can hear the last few seconds of the 6 o’clock News, with Andrew Marr making the following statement about the Government and the persistent problems with the 45 minute thing:
Let’s hope that there aren’t as many that are witless as they think.
Friday 6 February 2004
Open question: if your boss (use your imagination if you don’t have a boss) refused to honour a verbal agreement that he had made with you, and made this refusal clear in an embarrassing manner in front of your colleagues, and generally gave you little or no support and acted like a total arsehole, what would you do? Consider also that you have little recourse to anyone more senior than your boss because he acts in an autonomous manner within the particular company location where you are employed, and that the second-in-command is very much in league with him.
Also consider that you can not reasonably throw in the towel as the job is quite well paid and you do not believe that you could easily find an equivalent position elsewhere. Consider further that the cumulative stress inherant with the current situation is having an adverse impact on your health.
Sunday 8 February 2004
Thanks to everyone who contributed advice on the work problems I mentioned below. The outlook now seems a little more positive, largely because we now think that by strengthening the team and making plans and decisions for the future, we should be able to work things out to a positive conclusion. But that depends on everyone, including the boss, doing everything as we hope. I’m not holding my breath.
Meanwhile, we’ve had a full-value weekend, featuring dinner out on Friday, lunch with my parents yesterday, a visit to Kearn’s nursery, lunch with Bren and Greg today and a couple of long lie-ins. Also, we’ve made a start on blitzing my flat. Following advice from my estate agent, I’ve been working to reduce the amount of clutter in the flat, with the aim of simplifying the upcoming redecorating task (a lick of paint to make it look bright and fresh, plus replacement cheap carpet and finally hanging the new curtains that I’ve had for ages) and also to make the flat seem bigger than it really is – or, perhaps, less small, depending how you look at it. So far, the shelves in the living room have been dismantled, which means that my CD collection has mostly gone into storage – reduced from 550 CDs to just 70. Hundreds of books have been boxed up, as well as my archive of Wallpaper magazines. Additionally, I’ve had a blitz of my wardrobe, leading to several sacks of old shirts and tatty jeans being taken to the textiles recycling bin at the tip. My desktop PC is currently sitting on the floor, awaiting transportation to the nursery for storage until we get to our new home.
All this does make the flat seem larger, but it also creates a strange sensation – I’m beginning to dismantle the place that has been home for the last five years, the first home that I have owned and paid for with my own money. Along with the upcoming planning application for new windows (at last), I will soon be ready to put the house on the market and then throw my lot in with Hels (who is also going through the same thing). Life will never be the same again.
As an aside:
Accommodation consists of:
- spacious living/dining room, nearly 19ft in length
- kitchen, with gas hob and electric oven, large sink with waste disposal unit, space under worktops for fridge and washing machine
- bathroom, with pedestal basin, low level WC, bath with electric shower over
- bedroom, with original wooden flooring
- large hallway with large cupboard/store
- gas central heating throughout
- off-road parking
The property is only two minutes walk from the main shopping streets of Chichester, which offer a wide variety of big name stores as well as small boutiques and specialists. It is close to the historic centre of the city, with its historic buildings, cathedral and elegant parks, and is also only a few minutes from the mainline railway station (London Victoria 100 minutes).
Interested? Email me, and let’s both save some estate agency fees.
Hmm. grayblog is ranked number two on MSN for sneaky pictures of Jordan and Peter Andre.
Popular culture. I’m your man for the latest on celebs everywhere. Oh yes.
Monday 9 February 2004
This week I will, undoubtedly, be extremely busy. I’ve just looked down my to-do list, and it is both lengthy and urgent. It also involves a sizeable number of tasks that will take considerably more than a few minutes to complete. Oh well, best get on with it.
In the meantime, get hyperactive with this completely mad Squirrel Game, which, for reasons I can not fathom, features one of those Japanese cartoon girl characters showing her panties. Hmm.
I’m a Celebrity, Get A Life…
I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here… has been attracting audiences in the order of twelve million viewers. How long is the programme? 30 minutes? Let’s do some mathematics:
360,000,000 minutes equates to 6,000,000 hours
6,000,000 hours is equivalent to 250,000 days.
250,000 days is roughly 684 years.
684 years. Think about it. Surely humankind could put this time to better use? Just think – if everyone sat down for half an hour, just once a year, and did something useful, or at least thought about something useful, the world would surely be a better place. I’m not expecting Celebrity viewers to solve the world’s ills, but surely their collective brain power could do something useful like inventing a method for opening tin cans that means that the sauce in my chopped tomatoes doesn’t splatter all over the kitchen worktop. Then again, they probably couldn’t even manage that. Mind you, the heat from their brains all simultaneously struggling to think could be enough to heat a small town without the use of fossil fuels.
Tuesday 10 February 2004
Like, um, lazy students.
Karen has an ongoing problem with lazy GCSE students cluttering her comments requesting analysis of the poems that she publishes on her site.
Grayblog, on the other hand, seems to attract business studies students seeking SWOT and PEST analyses for big-name companies like Waitrose and B&Q. And I don’t think that any of us will forget the large wads of moolah that was made from selling our CIM case study analysis.
Maybe I should set up a sideline doing some of these things? If only I had the time.
A call to all football fans…
I should be doing something useful
Satisfy your destructive tendencies with this game.
Just to prove that I do read more than the BBC news….
- Norway tops world table of deodorant usage
- Nirvana now temples offer escape from earthly cares
- Bride snubs greedy groom, weds guest instead
- Ostriches find favour in Oblast, featuring an interview with the "Obi Wan Kanobi of ostriches".
Beer with the usual suspects tonight. DA has his freezer set to minus 23C. He also has his heating thermostat set to plus 25C. Anyone care to estimate his utilities bill?
Wednesday 11 February 2004
Not much to say
Been to a trade show in Dorset today. Not very exciting.
Tired. Will put my feet up tonight, I think.
One of the steps in making my flat ready for sale is the redecoration of the entire place. Sadly, my beloved ivory is giving way to white, which gives quite a stark appearance but does make the flat seem lighter – or at least the hallway does, as that is the only room to be completely painted so far. It needs a second coat, but the effect is plain to see. I think that with the addition of a few cheap prints on the wall to lend a little colour, it’ll make the flat seem clean, smart and bright – hopefully characteristics that will help to tempt a potential purchaser into parting with his/her cash.
Incidentally, the much-neglected radio grayblog makes excellent background for painting to.
Thursday 12 February 2004
How long do you think it will be before we start getting spam for oxytocin pills?
Penguins, a yeti and a baseball bat is soooooo yesterday, dude.
Penguins, a yeti, snowballs and Orca the Whale is the next big thing, I tells ya.
Plants For Europe Limited is one year old today. Buns have been consumed in celebration.
Friday 13 February 2004
FIP = FAB?
Following a tip-off from Charlie, I’ve been listening to FIP FM. It’s French, you know. And mostly quite good.
Today is the 50th anniversary of the first appearance of the Bash Street Kids in the Beano. Somewhere lurking about in this office are a couple of Bash Street annuals, and I’m tempted to take the afternoon off to sit and read them (if only there was time to do that!).
There were Beanos around the house from before I was born (my brother was a reader) right up until I was in my early 20s, and the Bash Street Kids were amongst my favourites (along with the utterly fantastic Calamity James, with the trademark "rivets" style of drawing that including incredible levels of detail in the background). I think the strength of the Bash Street stories is that all the characters – the nine kids, Cuthbert Cringeworthy, Teacher, Head, Olive, Janitor and Winston the Cat – all had strong personalities that were easy to recognise and could be brought to the fore for any particular storyline. It is testament to the quality of the writing and drawing that they are still popular 50 years after their inception. I’m laughing just thinking about the story lines (do you remember the one where the kids entered the tall ships race in the ship owned by Head’s friend, Captain Horatio Cornplaster? Or the one where Teacher reenacted the Battle of Trafalgar on the boating pond?).
Rest assured that any child of mine will be brought up on the Beano.
Monday 16 February 2004
Not much to report here: the weekend was spent with family and, when not with family, doing very pleasant, relaxed and low-key Valentine’s Day type things.
<politics>Anyone smell a gimmick here?</politics>
Ooo blimey – Hels has had one person look at her flat already who is "very very interested" and has another person coming to view it tonight. And it’s only been on the market since the end of last week.
Which means that yours truly is going to have to get his butt into gear with getting his own abode ready for sale and onto the market. Yipes.
Hels has had a good cash offer on her flat. Yipes! I really do need to speed up the decorating now!
She plans to hold out for a little more money – it’s slightly below the asking price, and we both reckon that, given that an offer has come so quickly, that she can ask for a little more and play hard to get. As it were.
So, since I’m travelling to France tomorrow evening (immediately after doing a local speaking gig) and will not be home until 7am on Saturday, I’ve scheduled in the weekend for a decorating extravaganza. Hopefully, that will then put me in a position to put the flat on to the market sooner rather than later – the target date is March 15th, but I reckon we can get there sooner than that, particularly if Dad gives me a hand.
So, like I said – anyone want to buy a flat?
I’ve just listened to Starlings. Mad. Mad, I tell you.
Tuesday 17 February 2004
Over the sea, let’s go men!
Tonight: a speaking gig in West Wittering. Followed by a cross-Channel ferry to Caen and three days at the Salon du Vegetal.
Actually, I’m not hugely excited by the prospect, and would much rather stay at home. Although it does provide an escape from decorating for now, so I should be grateful.
Anyway, expect fewer updates than normal for the next few days.
Wednesday 18 February 2004
Reporting live from Saumur
I’m currently sitting in the Hotel Loire in Saumur which is on an island in the middle of the Loire. I’m overlooking the river which is gliding glassily past my window, whilst on the opposite bank, the chateau is beautifully illuminated and is surrounded by many attractive old buildings.
Sometimes this job has its compensations (assuming you ignore the fact that I’m dog-tired, feel like throttling one of my clients, have sore feet and shoulders and am missing Hels like mad, of course).
Thursday 19 February 2004
I think I’ve just eaten the best dessert I’ve ever had. Actually, the whole meal was very good indeed, and excellent value – £20ish for four courses, a great salade landaise, a fish course, a wonderful cheese course and dessert. Mmmmmm dessert. Parfait de banane aux raisins avec chocolat chaud. Possibly the most perfect parfait I’ve ever had – "sublime" doesn’t do it justice.
You know, it’s funny how life changes. When I used to go on these jaunts, I’d get quite down and a bit lonely. These days I miss Hels. A lot. I wish she could travel with me. Saturday morning can’t come soon enough.
Tomorrow, I’ve got to go back to the trade show for a short period, then head back to Caen via some shops for …um… provisions. Yeh. Provisions. A.k.a. du vin et du fromage.
Saturday 21 February 2004
Sunday 22 February 2004
Redecorating at home has made a striking amount of progress this morning, thanks to help from Hels – the first coat on the hall and living room is now pretty much complete, and I should be able to make some headway on the second coat this week. Dad has also been here, helping to get some improvements to the bathroom done.
The target for market-readiness (repainting complete, new carpet where appropriate, planning application for windows submitted, front door improved) is March 15th. It’s an ambitious and tight schedule, but I reckon it can be achieved. Just.
Oh yay! yay! and triple yay! Emma is back. Not that she ever really went away. She just wore high collars and dark glasses a lot.
Monday 23 February 2004
Quick film review
Last night, on something a whim, we went to see Lost in Translation, which we agreed was extremely good indeed. The cinematography, acting, plot and script were all very good – it was easy to understand the sensation of isolation that the principal characters were experiencing in Tokyo. It also succeeded in being romantic without being even slightly saccharine, a rarity in cinema these days where it seems that everything has to have some gratuitous sex scene and some schmaltzy ending.
What particularly stood out for us was the soundtrack, which was superbly dark and featured Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, Air and Squarepusher – with just enough shoegazing to make me feel all nostalgic for large parts of my CD collection that sit languishing in storage.
This bloke is going to get a lot of flak for saying this – from some sections of society, he will receive more than flak, he will be vilified.
The thing is, I think he is right.
People from our part of the world saw this sort of thing at first hand with the murder of Sarah Payne a few years ago. Her body was found on part of the Brinsbury Agricultural College, near to the A29 in West Sussex. People were, quite rightly, shocked and outraged by the murder of the girl. But I think I was even more outraged by the senseless waste of time and money when literally thousands of people descended on the site to leave flowers and gifts. The police had to set up traffic lights to control the traffic and stationed officers there around the clock to police the event. The College had to set aside a field for car parking because there were so many cars there. The County Council had to clean up the flowers and toys and remove them for disposal. Somebody (I’m not sure who – probably the College) paid for some Portaloos to be placed there and serviced. And you couldn’t get flowers from any of the local florists – they were doing a roaring trade.
It was utterly, utterly ridiculous. And to criticise it in any way was seen as heartless. An old school friend of mine went there with his wife and children to lay flowers. When I suggested to him that he would have been better to have given the money to a charity such as the NSPCC or ChildLine, he essentially told me that I was being selfish. His justification was that a child’s life had been needlessly taken and that it was his duty to mark that.
I don’t see him leaving flowers every day at the children’s ward of the local cancer hospital. Or at the graves of HIV/AIDS babies in Africa. Or for the eight children around the world that die every minute from disease or malnutrition.
[WARNING - sweeping statement ahead!] In my view, the problem with people today is that they do not look at the wider world. They don’t look beyond the immediate. Consequently, people do not think about the wider implications of their own actions. Also, they do not look beyond the headlines at the things going on in the world that are not major news.
Generally, people do not think. At all. Thinking is an extremely attractive quality. It was and is one of the things I love most about Hels. Nearly all of my friends Think (it deserves capitalization) – a healthy dose of cynicism mixed with a little optimism and a dash of observation. An avoidance of the knee-jerk. A desire to avoid the headline grabbing sensationalism of much of the mainstream. An appreciation that nothing in this world is straight-forward, simple or easily resolved.
And definitely not the sort of people to suffer mourning sickness.
You’re just jealous
Chichester people are smug. Not only that, but we are happy to be better than you too.
A sad, and sadly all-too-true, article from today’s Telegraph.
The club are losing money as each day goes by. If directors stopped writing cheques, no one would get paid. Obviously it cannot go on.
If you care about football, even as little as I do, you should be worried by this. This has serious consequences for League football in the UK. If Brighton fail to get a new stadium, it will undoubtedly lead to the club’s closure, miracles notwithstanding. Next it could be your local club. The Gillinghams, Bournemouths, Port Vales and Exeters of this world are all in the same boat. It’s about more than just a football ground. It has social consequences that are all too often overlooked – a local football team is part of the community.
Tuesday 24 February 2004
Today I shall mostly be…
- catching up on my Global House Connection listening. Constantin’s show for February 15th was a stormer;
- discovering the wonder that is the memory stick (how handy!);
- printing hundreds of application forms for my events.
Life on the edge, I tells ya. Anyone for beer tonight?
Wednesday 25 February 2004
For those that think that football has no part in the community – 1,000 jobs. Aside from all the stuff I listed the other day.
Today I have been and shall mostly be…
- printing forms for my events, still, and then stuffing them in envelopes;
- taking photographs of plants;
- sticking a memory stick in my ear to see if it helps (thanks Vaughan);
- preparing for a speaking gig tomorrow;
- painting the flat.
It’s a good job this edge isn’t sharp, or else I’d cut myself.
Thursday 26 February 2004
I feel a rant coming on. But I can’t decide what winds me up most. So post some comments on any or all of the following topics, and if my rant juices are still flowing at the end of the day, I’ll let rip.
- Mel Gibson’s film, The Passion of The Christ;
- GCHQ, Katherine Gun, Clare Short, Kofi Annan and bugging;
- Ann Winterton: a "family values" Tory;
- UK "amongst most secular nations in the world";
- President Bush moves to outlaw gay marriage.
Meanwhile, and risking accusations of being a BBC addict (or victim, if you prefer), may I suggest that you take a break and listen to Jonathan Marcus’s documentary series Age of Empire.
As regular readers will know, I’m something of an admiring of Indian actress Aishwarya Rai. So I can’t tell how relieved I was to receive a comment to this post. Seems authentic and believable. Must be true.
Friday 27 February 2004
I can’t say that I’m hugely enthusiastic about the prospects for the weekend.
I spent all of yesterday evening, until 11pm, painting. I made good progress in that I finished the walls in the living room and hall, and made a good start on the bedroom. But this weekend holds little prospect of doing much else other than shifting furniture and wielding a paintbrush. Whoopee.
And, as you might have guessed, it’s all sapped my rant juices. Sorry. I might get on with ranting if I get fed up with painting (really quite likely). I know that you like a good rant.
Anyone for beer?
Sheep dog trials. Mind the tractor.
Bren, Greg, Arron, Kristian, Hamish, Ruth, Debbie and Simon.
One person missing.
That was then…
Sunday 29 February 2004
Painting stage I – complete
I’ve just completed the first stage of the grand repainting of the flat. All of the matt emulsion has now been applied, which means two coats on the walls of the living room, bedroom and hallway. This leaves the kitchen and bathroom paint to be applied in (unsurprisingly) the kitchen and bathroom, which is to be preceded by a session with sugar soap. That will be painting stage II.
I’ve also begun preparation for the other decorating stages. Dave is working on the drawings for the planning application for the windows (aren’t you, Dave?). Yesterday, I purchased five new (but cheap) doors to replace the monstrosities that have been here since I moved in (including the famous kitchen door featuring the hole where some previous occupant put their fist through it). I’ve also been researching carpet for the living room and hallway. Dad has been working on making a replacement bath panel, and at some point he’ll help me lay the new carpet tiles (which I’ve had for, um, five years) in the kitchen and bathroom. Mum is going to take up my new curtains for the living room, and, tomorrow, Hels and I will go to IKEA to purchase some prints and odds-and-ends to make the place look a little brighter and more attractive (Hels believes that it needs the woman’s touch. I’ll not disagree, if it helps to sell the thing!).
So, it’s full speed ahead. Anyone interested in buying it? Only £150,000. Discount if we do it privately, without an agent.