Tuesday 2 November 2004
Still struggling to catch up. There will be updates. And pictures. I promise.
A few current and recent news stories:
- At the wrong speed – John Robert Parker Ravenscroft, RIP. Peely once played a request for me on his Radio 1 show. Others have paid sufficient tribute to the greatest champion of original new music in the UK – I merely suggest that you put Teenage Kicks on your stereo on repeat for a few hours. He’ll be sorely missed.
- Money woes failed Beagle 2 – "The DTI [Department of Trade and Industry] should have been on the pitch getting involved, rather than cheering from the touchline and coming on as a second half substitute when things went wrong."
- Lord Hanson, RIP – "A company from here doing rather well over there."
- EU leaders sign constitutional treaty at last.
- Kilroy-Silk withdraws from UKIP whip in EU Parliament. Plank.
- US Presidential election today – if you have a vote, use it.
- China’s next manned probe will orbit for five days. Ground Control to Major Yuan Hung-Lo?
- Titan geologically "alive".
Cactus and Son – Halloween Special. Very sweary, as usual.
…to my sister-in-law. 23 today (cof!).
Weird Honda-sponsored rabbit and carrot game. Has addiction potential.
Wednesday 3 November 2004
Well, it looks like George Dubya has won a second term in the White House. At least this time there seems to be no question over his victory, and with a Republican Congress, he should be free to act in an authoritative manner. Whether that is a good thing or not remains to be seen.
Forgot to say that Hels and I signed and exchanged all the papers and paid over a hefty sum of money on Monday for the new house. We will get the keys on the 26th. We’re immensely relieved that we are on the home straight now with the house purchase. If only we could make progress with the sale of Hels’s flat…
Crossing the line?
US blogger fired by her employer after putting pictures of herself in her uniform on her website. Not a terrible crime, you would think, but if you actually look at the blog itself and the images, which show her with her blouse unbuttoned to reveal her bra, and then consider the corporate image of the airline in a nation that is still largely prudish and conservative, then Delta’s decision is hardly surprising. Bloggers must continue to beware of their employer’s image and reputation if they write about their work on their site. Even those of us who are self-employed still must be considerate of our clients and suppliers.
When will the Government treat the Diega Garcians with some dignity? The way that these British citizens have been treated in the past, and their continuing poor treatment by the British Government is nothing short of a disgrace and embarrassment.
Thursday 4 November 2004
First ever WordPress problem
I’ve got a WordPress problem, although not a major one. I’ve recently been swamped by spam comments, all of which have correctly been filtered out for moderation. However, it is now filtering all comments for moderation, including the legitimate ones, even though the filter-all option in set to "off". So your comments will not appear immediately, only after I’ve approved them. I am investigating.
You know, there was something about the markets in Sicily that set my pulses racing:
Off to Amsterdam for 24 hours. There will be more photos, I promise. And possibly more puns.
Hels in Cefalú harbour.
Monday 8 November 2004
I’m not talking about football at the moment.
Anyone want to open a book on when Mark McGhee will leave for greener pastures?
- I think I have the beginnings of a cold – sore throat and general lacklustre status.
- Yesterday, we bought a car – a 2000 silver Peugeot 306. If I’m lucky, I may get to drive it once a month – for me, it’ll be the handmedown 1992 Peugeot 106. Seriously, I think we got a good deal, having spent most of Saturday and a large part of Sunday morning trawling through used car dealers (limited choice, some expensive), used car supermarkets (big choice, very expensive) and the small-ads (good choice if you don’t mind travelling, and sometimes good value, but no warranty, servicing or extras). The car we have chosen comes to us from a small dealer and has actually been used by his fiancée – he had the V5 to show it has been in her name for quite a while. Only one previous owner, a very low mileage, brand new MOT and a service history at a Peugeot main dealer. He’s also getting a minor bump on the back bumper fixed and getting a new service at the dealer before we take delivery of the car this weekend.
- Amsterdam was its usual hectic and mildly aggressive self. I can’t recommend the Botel floating hotel – although the location is great (right by Amsterdam Centraal station), the thin walls and ceilings mean the rooms are noisy. It was also particularly cold. However, flying EUJet from Kent International is a good thing – cheap and cheerful, yes, but cheaper and easier than EasyJet from Gatwick, assuming you have the means to get to Manston.
UPDATE: it seems our new car is an import, so we may have problems with insurance.
The Big Sleep
- Fred Dibnah, RIP.
- Howard Keel, RIP.
- Rob Da Bank to take over John Peel’s slot. In a way, it is good that the Beeb haven’t tried to put in a Peel "replacement". There is nobody that would be up to that task, even the likes of Lammo. And having occasionally listened to The Blue Room, I think this choice should make for some good evening listening.
Tuesday 9 November 2004
Bad pun alert
Emlyn Hughes, RIP. Is this the year for well-known people to die before their time?
Just for once…
…a major company offers good service (so far!). Top marks to BT for making transferring our home telephone account, my business telephone account and my broadband connection to our new address so simple. It’ll all be installed on the day we move in and should be up and running by mid-afternoon. And all this was organised with two simple telephone calls.
Of course, we have yet to see if they actually deliver this service on November 26th!
Come on in…
…the water’s lovely.
Alternative caption: Hels’s poor hearing meant that she was oblivious to the horns of the supertanker as it ran her down.
Wednesday 10 November 2004
670 comment spams in 11 hours is beyond a joke. When they are arriving at the rate of one or two every minute, it becomes more than you can cope with.
Consequently, the comment function for this site has been disabled. I might re-enable it in a few days. Sorry.
Whilst trying to delete unwanted comments, I’ve accidentally deleted some comments that were wanted. Oops. If your comment was amongst them, feel free to post again. Comments are "on" again for the moment.
Rolls Royce hopes convertible will boost fortunes. Um, unlikely in my view. When I was living in Chichester, Rolls Royce Phantoms were a regular sight on the roads, as the factory is just a couple of miles out of the city centre. They are one of the most ugly and shed-like cars you could imagine – their horrid, square, brick-like lines looked like they owed more to a B&Q architect than to the heritage of the Rolls name. A convertible could look like a sawn-off shed. And who exactly are they trying to appeal to? I can’t see this being a housewife’s favourite any time soon.
I’ve just (belatedly) upgraded to WordPress version 1.2.1, an upgrade that apparently resolves a minor security flaw and also smooths the login process. As you’d expect from WordPress, the upgrade took about three minutes and appears to have been utterly seamless.
The great thing with WP is that hacks and plug-ins are encouraged. I’ve just implemented a nice little WP hack by Wellard that seems to leave normal functioning intact, but should stop the comment spams, at least for a while. There are other plug-ins and hacks that I can deploy, so if this doesn’t work, I’ll try them.
Honestly, you’d think that running a site would be easier than this. If only people wouldn’t keep trying to butt in on my space.
Picture double bill
From the honeymoon – Mount Etna erupting.
We decided that close inspection of the crater probably wasn’t called for.
From the wedding – Lord Percy and Peet ham it up.
The full effect of the red wine was setting in by this point. (Photo courtesy of Mrs Peet).
No smoke without
Scottish Executive unanimously decides to ban smoking in public enclosed places. Scotland’s First Minister, Jack McConnell, said there would be an international marketing campaign whereby “tourists can enjoy smoke free environment and the sick man of Europe image becomes a thing of the past”. To which I can only say four words: Deep. Fried. Mars. Bars.
Seriously, though, what’s the betting that there’ll be similar legislation in the rest of the UK within three to five years? And what impact will it have on pubs, particularly those more rural pubs that are important to their community but already struggling?
For pity’s sake…
…when will our government and the rest of the international community get together and do something about this?
I’ve been covering Africa for 21 years and I thought I’d seen everything, but to watch the officials and the police of a state like Sudan – which has just signed a peace agreement – demolishing people’s shacks under the eyes of international observer and breaching international law, is quite extraordinary and unique.
The population is terrorised and bewildered, with little faith in the power of the international community.
Thursday 11 November 2004
…for both of us for different reasons. For me, a trip to the New Forest to see two clients, then back via Chichester for a haircut, then home for vin avec Lu et Kev. For H, coworkers – nuff said.
Friday 12 November 2004
Having just received a letter from Chichester District Council telling me that they owe me a council tax rebate of nearly £200, I thought I’d treat my gorgeous wife to a light lunch in order to cheer her up, then would explore the bookshop for some new reading matter. Purchased in a 3 for 2 deal:
Francis Wheen – How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered The World. "Hilarious" says Jeremy Paxman!
Tobias Jones – The Dark Heart Of Italy. "Excellent" says Andrew Marr!
Noam Chomsky – Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance. "Devastating" says Tim Adams!
I’ll try to report back on the levels of hilarity, excellence and devastation in each case. And I really must update that current reading, current listening and current mood thing in the sidebar, as it’s not-at-all current.
UPDATE: sidebar updated.
and a half
It’s my half birthday today – six months from May 12th, six months to May 12th. Send all your half birthday cards to the usual address.
Which means I missed out on my thirty-three-and-a-thirdth birthday. Bah!
Seagulls sign Claridge
Blimey, things are getting desperate. Frankly, I expect Mark McGhee to be on the phone any day now, offering me a rôle in midfield.
Bush hails Blair as "visionary leader". Which must be quite a curse, really.
Debate-o – will be being closely allied to Bush be the final nail in Blair’s coffin? Or will it be domestic politics that finally does him in?
Saturday 13 November 2004
This afternoon we took delivery of our new (to us) car. Hels seems very pleased with it. Colin, the guy who sold it to us, has very kindly thrown in a wheelbarrow. I kid you not. I’m actually very pleased with the wheelbarrow – it’s suitably cement-lined, battered and slightly rusty, and is currently in the back of Hels’s shiny new motor, much to her chagrin.
We also went to the Hardy Plant Society Sussex Group’s 10th birthday bash today. I set the group up with considerable help from several like-minded people, and it is really quite rewarding to see the group is in such good shape. Hels came with me, and had to deal with a large number of ladies-who-lunch saying "oooo! you’re Graham’s wife!" but, in spite of being thrown in at the deep end, took it all in her stride, as usual.
Eat my words
West Ham 0 – 1 Brighton. Mark McGhee:
Hmm. It seems I may have to eat my words.
And I promise not to rub anyone‘s nose in it.
Sunday 14 November 2004
BorisWatch on Boris Johnson’s sacking from the Tory front bench. Interesting to read the comments there.
See also BBC News Talking point page.
You may recall that I foresaw exactly this sort of scenario on October 6th.
Tuesday 16 November 2004
On the move
Today I shall be making a start at packing my office in preparation for the move in 10 days time, otherwise known as trying to render order from the chaos.
The fact that I only have four cardboard boxes at my disposal shall in no way hinder my efforts.
We’ve been married a month. Where are the cards and gifts?
Three blokes on a park bench in Catania:
The guy in the striped top seemed to be smiling and laughing all the time, whilst the chap in the checked trousers next to him seemed to be perpetually grumpy (we sat nearby for about 45 minutes, enjoying the last few minutes of our honeymoon, so got a good idea of what was going on between these people). I think that Checked Trouser’s grumpiness was a product of the fact that Striped Top had a big bag of chestnuts that he kept cracking open on the back of the bench and eating, and not sharing with his neighbour.
From Someone Else’s Correspondent
BBC announces team of correspondents to replace Letter From America. I hope they won’t try and replace From Our Own Correspondent with this too.
Thursday 18 November 2004
A packed day
Yesterday, we spent the day driving around the south-east of England sorting out various things for the new home.
First stop was our solicitors, where we handed over a very large sum of money, the last payments on the new home. We get the keys next Friday, all things being equal, which, talking to the vendors, they should be. We’re lucky that Sharon and Graham, the couple selling to us, are really lovely people, and have helped to make their part of the transaction really smooth. They’re off to Canada next summer after Sharon has given birth to their first child – which helps us to keep our own adventure in perspective!
After the solicitors, we headed north to Croydon, calling in at the splendid Wing Yip store on the Purley Way. Hels had never been to Wing Yip before, and was as amazed as I was the first time that I went there – aisle after aisle of the most amazing ingredients for oriental cuisine, ranging from huge sacks of rice and noodles through to bulk bags of baby squid and cuttlefish.
From there it was on to IKEA for meatballs, followed by a research session on sofabeds (decision made, subject to checking the measurements of the new living room when we go round there on Sunday – though the design isn’t on their website, so I can’t show it to you) and dining tables (a shortlist of three, with one that was preferred, but again subject to checking the measurements) and chairs (pretty certain on these). We also stocked up on some Christmas decorations for the new home too and, as is usual in IKEA, found it easy to spend £50 on not very much at all.
After that, it was back into the car to "scoot" (for which read "crawl") around the M25 to BlueWater, which was beautifully lit for Christmas, to visit John Lewis. We were fortunate enough to have received quite a sum in John Lewis vouchers for our wedding, sufficient to purchase a HotPoint fridge/freezer and a Tricity-Bendix tumble dryer. The tumble dryer is a damaged ex-display model reduced in price by £50, but still with a full two-year guarantee. Bargain! Both will be delivered in the days immediately following our arrival at the new house.
We also had some Habitat vouchers which we used to purchase some towels (not very exciting, but very functional), as well as some House of Fraser vouchers. We planned to use these to buy a new vacuum cleaner, but were not impressed by the choice in the House of Fraser store at BlueWater, so we’ll wait until we’re next in Chichester and will check out the range in Army and Navy there.
All in all, not a very exciting day for you to read about, but we feel that we’re really making progress on getting things together for the new home. Of course, we have absolutely no money at all now, but isn’t that the lot of every new home owner?
Friday 19 November 2004
Feeding the hordes
You asked for wedding photos. You get wedding photos.
Only Fools and Pizza
I’ve just been down to the Italian market that is on this weekend in The Pantiles in Tunbridge Wells (mainly to go to the nearby cashpoint and also the greetings card shop). I purchased some bread for my lunch, handed over my £5 note and took the bag. The chap behind the stall said "That’ll be two quid mate! Luvvly jubbly!"
I want my money back. It said "Italian Market" on the flyer, not "East End Market".
Monday 22 November 2004
Spam comments return
It looks like the spam commenter has returned – 15 this morning, so he’s clearly got a workaround for the anti-spam measures I took. I’ll have to look into some of the other anti-spam measures available to me.
In case you were wondering…
..what happened this weekend, I couldn’t possibly tell you. Alcohol was not involved. Oh no. Ahem.
Just how many…
…shades of off-white are there? I’ve just been down to HomeBase, thinking I could get a wedge of testpots for us to daub artfully on the walls of the New House™. However, the truth is that without my new (to me) free (when purchased with any Peugeot 306) wheelbarrow and a very large sum of money, there is no way that I was going to get a representative selection. So, this evening, H and I will sit with the colour charts and try our best to decide which ones to get testers of.
And, incidentally, how can Farrow and Ball justify charging three times the price of anyone else for their magnolia paint? And would anyone want to paint "Dead Salmon" on their walls? Who comes up with these names?
Strutting our funky stuff
More wedding photography. This image courtesy of Mrs Peet.
A rare photo of me dancing. Note that I succeeded in carrying this feat off without falling over, whereas my wife has sufficient grace and elegance to not only look fabulous whilst dancing, but can also hold a large gin and tonic without any spillage.
Hack! Cough! Wheeze!
Goodness! I seem to have suddenly developed a particularly bad cough!
Tuesday 23 November 2004
Thanks to Ian for the tip-off, I’ve now installed Kitten’s Spaminator. Let’s see if it effectively kills off the spam comments.
If you have a problem posting a comment, let me know by e-mail and I’ll see what (if anything) I can do.
Wednesday 24 November 2004
50 best covers of all time according to the Telegraph.
- The Sundays’ version of The Stones’ "Wild Horses"
- William Shatner doing Pulp’s "Common People"
- Melt Banana doing "Surfin’ USA"
Glad they put Siouxsie Sioux doing "Dear Prudence" in the list – one of the best covers ever, IMHO.
Link via lots of people, but firstly Gordon.
Aggers says the England tour to Zimbabwe must be called off. Sport and politics, chalk and cheese, oil and water.
New Making Fiends, featuring Carl.
As Davo points out, "Flipper come home" just sounds silly.
I expect that you’re following the news from Ukraine as closely as I am. Try these English-language Ukrainian and non-Ukrainian blogs for the latest:
Le Sabot Post-Moderne
The Periscope (includes translations of Ukrainian language news reports)
A Fistful of Euros
Ukraine, Oh My!
See also Ukrainian Pravda (in English).
Thursday 25 November 2004
Tomorrow, we get the keys for the new house. Today, I have to go to HomeBase for some decorating supplies, and to Sainsbury’s for some first-day-in-new-home provisions (teabags, milk, readymeals, etc.).
Yesterday, BT phoned me. At 1pm tomorrow, my old office telephone and broadband should be switched off, and my new phone line and broadband should be switched on. At the same time. The chap from BT (who had a very strong west Scotland accent) said to me "well, we’re still on for it at this end, but who knows what’ll happen on Friday – we’ll just have to wait and see". I’m not filled with confidence.
Graybo’s Review Of Books
I promised to let you know how I got on with the books I’m reading at the moment, and whether or not they lived up to their one-word reviews on the cover. The first that I tackled was How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered The World by Francis Wheen, which was rated as "Hilarious" by Jeremy Paxman.
I’m not sure I agree with Paxo.
Now, please don’t get me wrong – this is a very good and thought-provoking book. It is, in essence, an appeal for rationality in an irrational world. He challenges not only thinkers and opinion formers (ranging from the likes of Noam Chomsky and Al Gore on one hand, through to Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan on the other, and not forgetting a good swipe at the Bible and the Koran on the way through) but also the likes of you and I to use a more rational approach to our appraisal of the world and our own situation. Definitely recommended and well worth reading, but only likely to raise an odd "goodness! how ironic!" chortle every now and then rather than anything that could be described as hilarity.
The one bit that is hilarious, however, is the index. Let me give you a few quotes:
- claims descent from Abraham, 165;
- defends secondary picketing, 216;
- defends teaching of creationism, 7, 113-15;
- displays coat-hangers, 224;
- emotional guy, 205, 207, 210, 212;
- explores Third Way, 226;
- likes chocolate-cake recipe, 51;
Lacan, Jacques, 79, 91-2;
- mistakes his penis for a square root, 88-9;
Peters, Tom, 234;
- discovers secret of success, 41;
- flails and sweats, 50-1;
- discovers secret of failure, 62;
- thrives on chaos, 63;
and, most brilliantly,
- accepted by Newton, 4;
- angered by feminists and gays, 183;
- appoints American coal-owners, 25;
- approves of laissez-faire economics, 27;
- arrives in America, 158;
- asked by Khomeini to cut off foreigners’ hands, ix;
- believed to have created humans 10,000 years ago, 103;
- could have made intelligent sponges, 109;
- doesn’t foresee Princess Diana’s death, 154;
- helps vacuum-cleaner saleswoman, 45;
- interested in diets, 95;
- offers investment advice, 48;
- praised by Enron chairman, 277;
- produces first self-help manual, 53;
Brilliant. And you can quote me on that.
Next up: Noam Chomsky’s Hegemony or Survival which, in light of Wheen’s comments, should make interesting reading. (In fact, I’ve only got to page 8 and have already found evidence to support Wheen’s point of view).
I shouldn’t laugh…
…but I did find this chap’s name amusing.
Look at the size of those zucchini!
Friday 26 November 2004
Good news and bad
Just had the call from our solicitor to say that everything is running smoothly with the purchase of the New House™, and that we should be able to get the keys from the estate agent in about one hour. Which is good.
I’ve also had a call from the BT engineer. He wondered why he couldn’t get into the New House™ at 8.30 this morning. He was scheduled to go in somewhen between 8am and 12 noon. This in spite of the fact that I told BT that I wouldn’t have access to the property before lunch. Gah. Thankfully, I have his mobile number, so can call him back as soon as we get there.
We have the keys. We’ve cleaned. We’ve started spotting some paint here and there. We’ve had bacon and egg sannies. We have two phone lines. We have broadband. We have gas. We have electricity. We have water.
We’ve got a home.
Not bad for day one.
Monday 29 November 2004
Paint everywhere. Boxes everywhere. Slightly frayed tempers. But getting there.
And big thanks to Tim, Lu and Kev for coming over to help.