52% intelligent. 9% modest. More monkey than bear.

Monday, October 31, 2005

I'm a stranger to myself

KT Tunstall @ Nottingham Rock City, 31st October 2005

Before I start this, I should probably tell you that I'm not a massive fan of KT Tunstall. I don't dislike her or anything, and I have the album on my iPod, but I've never really been massively grabbed by her music. Still, she was pretty good at Glastonbury (although I had been drinking cider) and I had agreed to accompany Lord B to this gig in exchange for his attendance at The Editors gig a few weeks ago.

As usual, we turned up at about 9pm to find the lobby area of Rock City eerily empty. Usually this is bursting with people checking out the merchandise, and just generally hanging around. This evening, in spite of the gig being a sell-out, there hardly seemed to be anyone around, except for a very polite family picking up their tickets from the box office (who still have Embrace tickets left, by the way - they're playing a warm-up for their arena tour here in a couple of weeks). I suspect that this is the KT Tunstall audience. Sure enough, the main room was absolutely packed with people who would clearly have preferred to be in a venue with seats. Still. I shoved my way through these immobile pillocks to the bar and settled in to watch the show from the fringes (being tall enough to see).

KT came on wearing a t-shirt saying "Witch" (it's Halloween, you see....) and proceeded to say something I didn't catch. This became something of a theme. Our KT is from Fife (or somewhere like that), and although she doesn't have much of a Scottish accent, she clearly has enough to of one for me to completely fail to understand what she was saying apart from the odd word. It was a bit like watching a tiny, Scottish Rowley Birkin.

What can I say? She was alright. She paced her set badly, and left too many quiet songs for the end... but songs like "Suddenly I See", "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" and "The Other Side of the World" are not bad at all, and well worth seeing her perform. Ed Harcourt made a fleeting appearance at one point, but to be honest, as he was all dressed up in a skeleton costume, complete with mask, and didn't say a word throughout, it might as well have been Mr.Ed for all the difference it made. I think the main problem is that I just couldn't escape from the impression that the music was probably best heard from a nice warm bath, surrounded by scented candles, and not in Rock City. Rock City is where I go to see bands with loads of loud guitars, and leave with my ears bleeding. It's not somewhere I go to watch people smooching to gentle acoustic music played by a tiny Scottish pixie. The audience was fascinating: lots of couples, of course, but I also particularly enjoyed the bloke who looked like he had walked in expecting to see Smokey. Takes all sorts, I suppose.

Sorry KT. I'm sure you deserve a better review. Perhaps Lord B will oblige.

I might go and see Dr. Carl Kennedy from Neighbours next. He's playing at the Walkabout in a couple of weeks. Who could resist that?

Or it might be The Bluetones. I can't remember.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

I can see all obstacles in my way...

Are there any circumstances under which you would consider cosmetic surgery?

I have really terrible eyesight. I have needed to wear glasses since I was about 5 years old. I can remember that first journey to the optician vividly: my elder brother teased me that I might have to wear glasses and laughed. Ha ha. In the early days it was all national health glasses, and I was always breaking them. Apparently I had the biggest repair file in the opticians. I was acutely conscious of these NHS specs for many years, and it was quite a big deal when I got my first 'private' frame. Rather tragically they were Roland Rat glasses. Anyway....

I probably first started becoming conscious of the thickness of the lenses when I was around 11 or 12. My eyes were still changing quite rapidly at this point, and I used to dread the moment when the new frames were unveiled, and I got to have a look at how much like milk bottles my new glasses looked. I generally didn't give them all that much thought once I had them on though: what choice did I have?

It wasn't until I was into my 20s and had a proper job that I began to spend more money on my eyes: thinner lenses, designer frames... that kind of thing. It seemed a small price to pay for something that I wore every day and was fundamental to the way I felt about myself and to the way I looked to the rest of the world. I also started to wear contact lenses again. I had tried them when I was 17, but they hadn't suited me. Now I was able to get a much more comfortable pair and although I couldn't really use them for work, I was able to use them for sport. It may not sound like much to you, but contact lenses also gave me the freedom to wear a proper pair of sunglasses in the summer, and I bought myself a pair of Oakleys that I still wear today.

Regular readers here will probably know that my glasses cause me quite a lot of anguish. I get bothered by the way they fit, by the way that the lenses scratch. I am terrified of knocking them out of shape. I never seem to ever get comfortable with them. I am also frustrated by the fact that the strength of my prescription means that I am limited in my choice of frames and lenses if I want to maximise the appearance of my specs and to minimise the thickness of the lenses.

So what's this got to do with cosmetic surgery?

When I had my regular contact lense check the other day, the optician remarked that the astigmatism in my right eye meant that my lens was a perfect rugby ball shape, and asked if I had ever considered laser eye surgery. The honest answer to that question was that yes I had, but I had assumed that my prescription was too strong, and I also rationalised that I wouldn't want to take that kind of risk with my eyesight - after all, I'm lucky to be able to see anything. My eyes are bad, but with correction they are essentially fine.

Apparently I'm within range, and the thought has stayed with me. My life would be radically different if I could see without the need for correction. I would be able to read the alarm clock that sits three feet from my face when I'm in bed. I could swim without the need to risk wearing contact lenses underneath my goggles (the pressure means the lens gets slowly sucked onto your eye, and there is a risk of infection from the water anyway). I would not be totally helpless (I take a spare pair of glasses or contact lenses everywhere - if anything happens to the pair I am wearing, I would be totally lost.) It would be life-changing. The cost? The operation would probably cost me around £2,000 to have both eyes done. I would guess that I currently pay around £500 a year on my specs/contact lenses/solutions etc.

I thought on it for a couple of weeks, and yesterday I booked an initial consultation to have an optician do a detailed examination and to tell me if my eyes are suitable for the procedure. I'm not a fool. I have been reading about the risks ever since I decided to do this. If I go ahead, I run the risk - no matter how small it is - of damaging my eyesight permanently. It doesn't appear that people get blinded, but it could ruin my night-vision, or leave me needing artificial tears, or something like that. I am aware of this, but I figure I have nothing to lose by going for this consultation. Having the check is not a committment. I have not made my mind up one way or the other, but I do want to find out from an expert whether or not this could work for me.

This is a cosmetic procedure. I would not need this operation to be able to function. Am I an idiot for even thinking about it?


Friday, October 28, 2005

and he shall give you another comforter, that he may bide with you forever....

This has been an excellent end to the week: in a bid to use up my leftover holiday before the end of October, I've had to have the afternoon off. Shame. And how have I chosen to spend my spare time? Get to work on the plot for my 50,000 word NaNoWriMo novel? Nah..... I've bought a sandwich, some garlic and some saucisson from a French market, made a cup of tea and made some idle plans to watch a DVD or two; perhaps Lost in Translation, followed by The Return of the Jedi, I think.

This spare time also affords me the opportunity to pay an early visit to the temple of Earworms to lay the latest offering. I'm really, really pleased that this week's guest editor has chosen to take up his invitation to have a go at this. As he says himself in his profile "My Modern English is damaged beyond repair (as is my outlook on life) by obsessive study of medieval literature". Amen to that brother, although, I think it's fair to say that my grasp on Old French is probably a bit rusty compared to yours. [Ahem].

Definitely not your average blogger

Anyway. Ladies and Gentleworms.... Without further ado.... it is my great pleasure to present for your Earworming pleasure:

Earworms of the Week - Guest Editor #23 - Le Moine Perdu from Þæs ofereode, Þisses swā mæġ

Well ST, here's your earworm -- copy it whenever and wherever you see fit! I've done it now while I've got a bit of spare time, because otherwise it won't end up being done at all! [ST's note - ah... the prestigious Earworm guest slot, eh?!]

1. David Kitt – Strange Light
I like it because it’s mellow and seamless, it just flows just like the subject matter of the lyrics. The structure of the song very much echoes the impression of somebody sitting and thinking, thoughts flowing one into another, quite minimalist, not overdone at all. Just enough parts in the arrangement to make it feel complete, but not too many so as to make it feel crowded.

2. Ben Harper – Pleasure and Pain
I just love Ben’s voice, it’s such a comfortable range for me to sing in, and his accoustic songs aren’t deliberately made to be hard to figure out or play, unlike many. It also makes me wonder, the lyrics. I mean, we all experience things and see things, and yet only some people ever seem to really learn or change from it. I always think it’s peculiar how some people can seem to be completely unaware of simple human principles that they’ve no excuse for not understanding, because you know they’ve had plenty of experiences that ought to have taught them. They go through all kinds of things and see things, but don’t ever seem to really change or evolve through them, while others, with every bit of pleasure and pain they experience, change, grow and learn a little.

3. Leon Redbone – Up A Lazy River
Nobody can be unchilled by this song. It reminds me of my father, because he used to play clarinet, and the times in my childhood when he had his lucid moments and would sit in the garden on a summer’s day in his Panama hat, with the record player on, really into his jazz. These times sort of somehow seem to manage to shine out, despite all the dark times they were sandwiched between, and listening to this song reminds me that there is and always was good in my father, despite the years in between.

4. Louis Armstrong – Basin Street Blues
If you ever listen to it, no explanation is necessary. If you don’t like it and it doesn’t get you moving, you’ve a hole in your soul, that’s all I’m saying.

5. Idir – Fable
Once, Salim and I went out on a sailing trip, down the river Witham, out into the Wash and out further into the North Sea. When no land was visible any more, and it’d been dark for a while, we dropped anchor and chilled out, just chatting. We both had our guitars and he taught me to play this song, and we played it together, me only singing the Spanish chorus and him taking care of the verses. he did the clapping too, because I couldn't do it, not having the advantage of being a flamenco musician like him. It was great.

6. Manu Chao – Merry Blues
I just love the way he uses the gun-click as a percussion instrument. I love the way it starts out so messy, you can’t make sense of it, but it resolves itself into a familiar rhythm, and the lyrics are so oxymoronic, together with the tune and in themselves. I like things that sit side by side that aren’t expected to.

7. Fleetwood Mac – From 4 Until Late (Robert Johnson cover)
The old line-up, Peter Green et al, from a live CD some person (whom I bless forever!) gave me a while back. I just love it. I love Robert Johnson anyway, and I love early Fleetwood Mac blues stuff. They don’t really do much original to the tune, but it’s just obviously a better quality recording – the poor recording technology Johnson had access to is the only real shame about his music.

8. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – White Palms
It’s just going round in my head, especially the last part where the accoustic stuff comes in as the distortion fades out. Just got it buzzing round my head all day yesterday.

9. Hildegard von Bingen – O quam mirabilis est and O virtus sapiente
Just a beautiful melody, frankly, as are all of hers. Sort of peels music back to its bare bones and soars like a lone cloud. Sorta. Followed by something that just inexplicably 'reminds' me of home.

10. Thomas Tallis – If Ye Love Me
Sung by one of the Oxford choirs, I think. I just like the tune, and it reminds me of St Thomas More, who’s one of those friends I hang out with in my head. I like to see if I can pick out each voice and sing along with a different one each time.


Thanks LMP. An altogether different type of list to the ones we usually end up discussing round these parts. Still you never know though, we might be seeing a lot more of Hildegard von Bingen in future Earworm lists, eh? What's that? Crazy Frog has a Christmas single coming out? Chris Martin is threatening to do a duet with wee Jimmy Krankie? Right. As you were then. Sorry Hildegard, I suspect you will have your work cut out competing with that toss for earworm space in my head... after all, I've spent a good deal of this week playing air-trombone to the theme from Johnny Briggs....

Whenever I think of next week's Guest Editor, I think of music. Well, I say that. Actually, although I do initially think of music, that thought is quickly followed up by thoughts of centipedes in jars and squashed scorpions....Oh yes, next week we'll be tuning into the brain of that notable desert dweller and Oasis fan - clm from to do #121: insert clever title here.

[previous guest editors: Flash, The Urban Fox, Lord Bargain, Retro-Boy, Statue John, Ben, OLS, Ka, Jenni, Aravis, Yoko, Bee, Charlie, Tom, Di, Spin, The Ultimate Olympian, Damo, Mike, RedOne, The NumNum, Leah]

Thursday, October 27, 2005

it's not a matter of you versus of me....

If you value your sanity and your social life, then for the love of God stay clear of this game. It is absurdly, stupidly addictive.

My top score is 15,450.

[**** update **** 21,510 - but I could give it up anytime.....]

It's quite a philosophical game, actually - no matter how well you do it always ends with you getting the sack.

In many ways it's a microcosm of life.

...and I find the pandas to be petulant in the extreme.


In other news: I heard McFly doing a cover-version of "I Predict A Riot" on the radio this morning. It sounded okay, but it was just wrong.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

what next is the question?

How Middle Class Am I? (part xxvii)

I seem to have been dissatisfied with the quality of supermarket fruit & veg for as long as I have been paying for my own shopping. It is just rubbish: fruit doesn’t ripen properly, vegetables don’t last. How often do you open a pack of something to find that half of them are already off? Why do all the potatoes in Sainsbury’s have a “sell by” date within the next few days? I thought they lasted for months.

I’ve no idea what the average time-to-shelf is for fresh produce in a major supermarket, but I do know that stuff is picked before it is ripe, it is super chilled, and usually shipped halfway around the world and then wrapped up in tonnes of pointless packaging before being put on our shelves. This has added a depth of variety to my diet, and I can push my trolley around the supermarket picking up bananas from the Dominican Republic, pineapple from Costa Rica, figs and medjool dates from North Africa, along with any number of other colourful and exotic fruits from countries of the world I couldn’t locate on an atlas. This is great (although probably best not to think too long and hard about “fair trade” outside of that one shelf in the shop, eh?). What it does mean though is that the concept of “seasons” for food seems to have all but disappeared. When I was a kid, I used to love summer and going to those “pick your own” farms where you could stuff your face with fresh raspberries and strawberries. They were still something of a treat, and were only available for one season of the year. That’s still true of English strawberries, but now you can pick up strawberries from Israel (or wherever) all year round.

C’s parents live in the Loire Valley in France, where her dad makes good use of the warmer climate to grow an enormous number of vegetables. Whenever they come to visit, he often brings a few bags with him: luscious cherry tomatoes, courgettes, potatoes…. All bursting with flavour that you just don’t seem to get from supermarket bought vegetables. Last time they were up, he brought some string beans with him. They hung around in the fridge for a week or so before we got round to using them, but even then, the beans had a lot of “snap” to them…. In comparison, supermarket beans come out of the packet already limp, making you wonder how fresh they really were, and how long they had taken to get from the field to the shelf. I know I could get off my arse and go to a proper grocer, where I know the quality of food will be both better and cheaper… but who has the time? That’s the curse of the supermarket. You pay through the nose for poor quality food, but time is short and they are so damn convenient, and I can get my CDs here…. And so on.

A few weeks ago, after several months of thinking about it, we signed up to receive a weekly delivery of organic vegetables. Our “medium box” is delivered every Wednesday directly to our door, and contains 100% UK grown organic vegetables. It’s basically pot luck – you get whatever is in season – and this has forced us to try new recipes and discover new vegetables (until we started receiving this box, the only squash I had knowingly eaten was of the butternut variety. Now I have discovered the delights of the pumpkin shaped squash… delicious when roasted). This week’s box contains potatoes, squash, savoy cabbage, carrots, kale, leeks, mushrooms, onions, swede and chard. We will find ways of eating all of it. I have never eaten so many vegetables in my life, and I feel all the better for it. Last week I enjoyed a beetroot, radish, celery and orange juice, for heaven’s sake! I’m exuding so many vitamins that I don’t think colds can get anywhere near me. It’s not even working out any more expensive, as we are buying less from the supermarket.

Mind you… it’s not very rock n’roll to get an organic vegetable box delivered is it? I can practically feel some comfortable knitwear and a tweed jacket with leather arm patches creeping up behind me as we’re talking, ready to claim me as their own.

And with that thought, I must leave you… I have a squash to roast.

Monday, October 24, 2005

inside your head were things I never thought about...

It's about time we took a little wander down the street. I know that the nights have been drawing in a little bit recently, and it's been a bit cold, damp and autumnal, but it's been a while since our last stroll. I don't think we should let a little thing like the British weather stop us from being nosey and rummaging around in our neighbours' bins, eh? Besides, I think a couple of new people have moved in recently, and we should go around and introduce ourselves properly, before they think it's acceptable to leave their wheelie bin out in the street all week. Bless them. If we don't tell them, they'll never know any better.

- > a big hello then to clm from to do #121: insert clever title here. She's recently discovered that she is both Mother Theresa & Easy Rider, but if you can get past that shock news, you'll discover an avid gig-goer (most recently Iron & Wine, who I haven't heard of, but in the last few weeks has also been to see BRMC, The Frames, Oasis and Kasabian as well as getting addicted to the Hard Fi album. A girl after my own heart. Well, apart from the Oasis bit anyway.

-> also moving into our street is Charlotte from Charlotte's Web. Charlotte is a part-time tranny taking her first steps into a wider world and is currently getting ready for her public debut. I'm not exactly sure how I ended up reading this one, but as often happens, now I'm hooked. I'm sure she'd appreciate it if you pop round with a cup of sugar or something.

-> hello as well to bytheseashore. A compelling mix of travelogue (a recent trip to New York - see here, here and here for starters), politics (observations on the Conservative Party leadership elections) and martrydom (supporting Nottingham Forest). There's usually music on there as well, but that's more than enough links to be getting along with, eh?

-> Greetings also to Professor Hyde from The Annals of Mr.Hyde. I've been reading this for a lttle while, but she's been seeing Narc again. Need I say more?

-> I'd also like to take this opportunity to formally introduce you all to Yoko from Yoko Spungeon's Diary Dungeon. Yoko is in the wonderful habit of sending me books to read - usually Paul Austers - and that should be reason enough to love her to bits, no?

There are a couple of familiar faces in new homes too:

-> Last week's Guest Editor, Leah, is back from her travels, and as well as resuming her residency with Jenni over at Democratic Goddesses of America, she has also moved into a place of her own just down the road. When she's not busy publishing sneak previews of another blog's exclusive content (ahem!), she can be found chattering away cheerfully on a wide variety of subjects (job interviews & the Green Bay Packers mainly....)

-> and, of course, foxy-poos has moved out of digs and into a particularly des res - the gated mansion set in grounds at the end of the road (well, the gates are at the end of the road, I think the mansion may be set some way back in the grounds). Foxy was good enough to invite us to the housewarming though, so I mustn't grumble. I hope there's a party on Bonfire Night as well, although I suspect Foxy will be otherwise engaged underneath the House of Commons with Red and a whole lot of gunpowder.

What else is going on though, eh? Lots of other people getting the removal vans in too, but the looks of it.

-> Mark's planning a move at the moment as well - to a lovely looking house with its very own blue plaque, which is kind of cool, don't you think?

-> Judging by the fact that his front door has been left swinging and all the furniture has gone, it looks as though Tom might have moved out in a hurry.... I hope it's only temporary mate.

-> Lord B looked like he might be on the move as well at one point last week. The "For Sale" board went up and the windows were all boarded up. It looks as though he's had a change of heart though, so hurray for that. What would our street parties be like without him manning the BBQ, eh?

phew! Anything else going on then?

-> Spin is busy running a competition to get her readers to tell her what character from the movies they see her as, and what character they see themselves as. I decided that Spin is a heady mix of Galadriel, The Oracle & Amelie, and that I'm an unholy combination of George from Seinfeld and Larry David from Curb Your Enthusiasm (who are basically the same character anyway, right?). Other suggestions for Spin include Susan Sarandon's character from 'The Hunger', Patricia Arquette in 'True Romance' and Janeane Garofalo's character from 'The Truth About Cats and Dogs'. If you get over there quick, I think you might still have time to get an entry in....

-> Ben from SilentWordsSpeakLoudest treats us to a long review of Virginia Woolf's 'Congenial Spirits: Selected Letters'. Arab Strap and 'Nighty Night' can wait if you've got more of this up your sleeve mate!

-> Bee has been baking again, and has shared (by popular demand) the recipe for her White Chocolate Creams. Capt.Damo has presumably been rejoicing the fact that the Arctic Monkeys have made it to number one this week. Both are freshly back from a weekend chez The NumNum, so I hope they've been helping to peg back the ivy.

-> Flash has been to see The Kaiser Chiefs and Maximo Park, but doesn't look like he's been home to tell us all about it yet.... [checks....] Oh actually, yes he is. Sounds like he had fun. Maximo Park - my album of the year so far, I reckon....

and finally.....

-> Statue John has published a magnificent photo of Mr F. beside a statue of Freddie Mercury next to a railway station in Montreux (where else would you find a statue of Freddie Mercury?)

It's bloody hard work this, you know. I'm going to stagger back to my house for a much needed cup of tea, I think....

You're all welcome to join me, anytime.

(thanks for the piccie Red!)

Friday, October 21, 2005

It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of...

You know your Presidency is really in trouble when.......... Burt Bacharach starts writing protest songs.

"You could say 'how does a guy who has written love songs his entire life suddenly decide to rock the boat?' I never was a political person in my life. I wrote songs during Vietnam, not about Vietnam. I was just writing love songs. Leading my own life in my own insulated world."

As if it couldn't get any weirder, he's collaborated with Dr Dre.

"It's very streety, as streety as I can make it," Bacharach said.

Dear Lord save us.

Organized under a swarm of devils

Apparently not everybody was in favour of a ban on hoodies....

storm clouds may gather and stars may collide...

Another week nearly done & dusted then. All that remains before I toddle off into town to watch Wallace & Gromit is to pay our weekly homage at the altar of all things Earworm. This week's Guest Editor has recently returned from her travels around the world, and has resumed her role as a Goddess, as well as picking up the reigns on a new blog of her own (where, incidentally, she has blown my exclusive by publishing this list!).

Ladies and Gentleworms.... without further ado .... it is my great pleasure to present for your earworming pleasure, Miss "Gettin' Lucky in Kentucky" herself:

Earworms of the Week - Guest Editor #22 - Leah from Serendipity

ST and Beloved Bloggers,

Thank you very much for allowing me the honor of sharing my earworms! I feel very special to have been chosen! *blows kisses to audience* Thank you, ST, as well for last week's tribute to my dog Buzz. I'm sure Buzz is sending you slobbery dog kisses from whatever peaceful place he now calls home.

On with my list...I tried not to listen to music this week (except in the car to work) as to not influence my earworms in a conscious way. So here is what randomly found its way into my head...

Runaway - Bon Jovi...Somehow I heard this song played on the radio 2 days straight! Don't get me wrong, I still love Jon Bon, but kinda weird, wouldn't you say? I didn't realize I was driving my Dolorean back in time this week!

Beautiful Disaster - Kelly Clarkson...Oh my god, I love Kelly! And I love, love, LOVE this song. The two words are so contradictory yet work perfectly together.

He’s as damned as he seems
And more heaven than a heart could hold…

If I could hold on
Through the tears and the laughter
Would it be beautiful?
Or just a beautiful disaster?

Live Like You Were Dying – Tim McGraw
…I listen to this song and I immediately realign life’s perspective and priorities. Something about it just hits home, hits my heart, every time I hear it. I question the value I am putting into every day of my life…it’s a very motivating, emotional song.

And I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter
and I gave forgiveness I'd been denying
and he said someday I hope you get the chance
to live like you were dying…

Like tomorrow was a gift
and you got eternity to think about what'd you do with it
what did you do with it?
what did I do with it?
what would I do with it?

Angels We Have Heard On High – yes, pathetic, a holiday song already! I heard it in a store!

Since U Been Gone – Kelly Clarkson…See, I really do love Kelly! I have been listening to this cd virtually nonstop since February, and I still love it heaps. I have surely listened to it a million times…It’s one of my theme songs from my time Down Under.

Since you been gone
I can breathe for the first time
I’m so moving on
Thanks to you, now I get what I want…

Running Away – Hoobastank…Sometimes people run away, and you’re left with nothing but questions and a broken heart…and this song describes that.

Come What May – Moulin Rouge soundtrack…I love this soundtrack as much as the movie. I think this song would make a lovely wedding song.

Eminem – I dunno as to what song of his was an earworm, but he was definitely in the mix! A very random worm that weaseled his way in!

Probably Wouldn’t Be This Way – LeAnn Rimes…I keep hearing the tail end of this song on the radio, and I really like it! Part wistful, part hopeful.

I probably wouldn't be this way
I probably wouldn't hurt so bad
I never pictured every minute without you in it
Oh You left so fast
Sometimes I see you standing there
Sometimes it's like I'm losing touch
Sometimes I feel like I'm so lucky to have had the chance to
love this much
God gave me a moment's grace
'Cause if I'd never seen your face
I probably wouldn't be this way…


Thanks Leah - another interesting list. I can't say I know much about a lot of the songs in your list, but that's one of the great delights of this feature, isn't it? We get to have a view of what's going on inside other people's heads. Like you, I think I can also truthfully say that I love the soundtrack to Moulin Rouge almost as much as I love the film. Unlike you though, this is because I think that both of them are total bilge. Still, the world would be boring if we all liked the same things, would it not? And besides, no list that contains the Jovi can be anything other than brilliant!

Next week's Guest Editor has also published a preview of his list over at his blog [sigh]. However, as he's not all that keen on people linking directly to him, you will either have to go and find it for yourself, or wait until it appears here next week. Next week's Guest Editor will also double the number of medievalists posting to this blog. Yup - it's Le Moine Perdu.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm late for the pub (is it only on my computer where those bloody adverts to shoot ducks to win an iPod crashes the browser, taking all unpublished posts with it?? Grrr!)

Until next time kids.

[previous guest editors: Flash, The Urban Fox, Lord Bargain, Retro-Boy, Statue John, Ben, OLS, Ka, Jenni, Aravis, Yoko, Bee, Charlie, Tom, Di, Spin, The Ultimate Olympian, Damo, Mike, RedOne, The NumNum]

Thursday, October 20, 2005

But we cannot cling to the old dreams anymore

I've been having a bad week with the Weirdy Tingles. You might remember that the MRI scans revealed a patch of inflammation on my cerivical spinal cord, and that it was this swelling that was causing my symptoms: the tingles in down my left side, the weakness across my shoulders and the numbness across my body (see the inside of my head here!). The best advice that medical science could offer me was to sit tight and hope that it went away. The theory behind this was that they would probably never know what caused the swelling, and that if it was just "one of those things", a viral infection perhaps, then it might just go away and never come back.

There's just one other thing though. It might also be the first symptom of a wider problem, and I apparently have a 1 in 5 chance that it's MS.

Given what you know of my mildy obsessive personality, you might be surprised to hear that I'm actually not all that worried about it. Why worry? There's a good chance that it isn't, but if it is MS, there is absolutely nothing I can do about it, so it seems to me that it's a waste of energy to think otherwise. If it happens to me, it happens.

....and besides, if it *is* MS, then the "Life & Critical Illness" insurance that was a condition of my mortgage will kick in, and apparently marijuana is thought by some reputable medical sources to be useful in the alleviation of the symptoms, so it's not all bad news..... (how's that for looking on the bright side?)

Only kidding. I am really not obsessed with the idea that this could be something nasty. I'm just getting a little bit bored of the symptoms and the not knowing, is all.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

save me from tomorrow, save me from tomorrow

As if he hadn't had enough press coverage recently, The Observer Music Monthly had a big cover story on Pete Doherty this weekend. The whole sorry saga makes me both very angry and very sad. Let's do a quick recap: bright young lad wins a scholarship from the British Council to read poetry in Russia. Bright young lad goes on to get 11 A* grades in his GCSEs and 4 A grades in his A-Levels and goes on to study English at Oxford University. Bright young lad drops out of University and forms a band (The Libertines) with his best friend. Band becomes famous, bright young lad gets involved with drugs and serves time in prison for breaking into the flat of his best friend and band mate. Bright young lad rejoins band but is thrown out again because of his erratic behaviour and drug use. Bright young lad starts dating Kate Moss and becomes a tabloid staple. Bright young lad is pictured smoking crack cocaine on the front cover of a national newspaper. Kate Moss enters rehab for drug addiction. Bright young lad forms a new band (Babyshambles) and continues to appear in the papers for his shambolic behaviour.

It's all shockingly predictable. Doherty seems to have been completely swept up with the glamour and the fame that his notoriety is bringing him (not to mention the supermodel girlfriend). He is no doubt fascinated by the romantic notion of himself as the latest in a long line of doomed artistic geniuses, and is revelling in the attention. For their part, the press (and I include broadsheets like The Observer here) are just waiting for the perfect end to the story: Doherty dying of an overdose. When that happens they can then cover the candlelit vigils that will be held by his devastated young fans. It's like watching a car crash.

The story in the Observer Music Monthly is a case in point: it's full of pictures of a wasted Doherty collapsed in dressing rooms on his band's latest tour for us to gawk at, but this being a serious newspaper, it also has some excerpts from Doherty's journals, which he gave to the journalist (presumably because he knew they would be published). There are doodles of Kate Moss, photos of himself, newspaper clippings, fragments of songs, a note written to Moss as she lies asleep by his side.... that kind of thing. These are presented as though they are artefacts worthy of display in a museum, when in fact they are just childish toss.

An example:

"'er... le Ritz, s'il vous plait monsieur' says I falling into the taxi."

Says I? Who does he think he is? Some sort of urchin from Dickensian London? He's not. He's a 26 year old boy who has seriously lost his way.

The thing I find most frustrating? What happened to the music? to his talent? I listened to the two Libertines albums this afternoon. I was fully expecting them to be poorly excecuted and over-hyped rubbish - but they're not. The first album ('Up The Bracket') in particular is excellent. The musicianship is a little shambolic, certainly, but it's very much a part of the appeal of the band. Doherty and Carl Barat swap vocals to good effect and it's a really exhilirating record. The second album ('The Libertines') isn't up to the same standard, but still has songs worth listening to, especially on 'Can't Stand Me Now', where the breakdown of their friendship is laid bare:

[sung by Barat] An ending fitting for the start
you twist and tore our love apart
your light fingers through the dark
that shattered the lamp and into the darkness cast us...

[sung by Doherty] No you've got it the wrong way round
you shut me up and blamed it on the brown
cornered the boy kicked out at the world...the world kicked back
a lot fuckin' harder now

I can't see how this story can have a happy ending. Nobody seems to want it: not Doherty anyway. If you can see past the record sales, the t-shirts and the posters, there was no romance in the way that Kurt Cobain blew his head off a decade ago, and there will be no romance if Doherty ends up the same way.

Will anybody miss the bright young lad at all?

Is he even still in there?

What a waster, what a fucking waster
You pissed it all up the wall

Pathetic. Tragic. Sad. Predictable.


By the way, my comment about being annoyed with Chris Martin for his repetitive lyrics the last time I listened to "X&Y" seems to have started a small (but growing) confessional for people to come out and say how disappointed they are, on reflection, with the new album. I should point out that, although it's okay for you not to like them, they're still kind of the house band around these parts.....

I was just saying, y'know? I like them, just not uncritically.


Has anyone else noticed that the anti-Christ has put a new album out? Bollocks to Bird Flu - shouldn't we be out marching in protest or something? Is there an innoculation we can give to kids? People might hear it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

I'm a bull, not a bear

We went to the pub quiz again this evening.

We did so badly that I don't really want to talk about it.

Looking on the brightside though, I suppose the evening wasn't a total write-off - we did win the prize for the best team name. A whole £6 of beer vouchers. And how did we achieve this remarkable feat? Team names in this quiz are always based around something topical from the news, with the funniest team name winning a prize. The theme this week was the couple from Sneinton (a rather crappy area of Nottingham) who won £10m on the Lottery and still live in a council house.

Our team name? "Burberry Bog Paper".

Thank you very much. I'll be here all week.


what's your favourite pub quiz team ever? I think mine is "General Dodonna & the Rebel Alliance", but it's a bit geeky, so let's not dwell on it, eh?

Monday, October 17, 2005

And you haven't got the time to remember how it was

Bloc Party @ Nottingham Rock City, 16th October 2005

Bloc Party must be in the running for the most talked about new band of the last 12 months. I first saw them on Jools Holland back in December 2004. I’d taped the show, and was selectively working my way through the acts – winding past Elton John, but pausing to watch Keane and then moving on to Interpol. Bloc Party were on, making their first TV appearance I think, and as they launched into “Helicopter”, I thought that I would give them 1 minute to impress me before I hit fast forward and went looking for Interpol’s second song. I never hit that button, and was frozen to the spot by the sheer energy of the band’s performance. The album didn’t come out until February, but I downloaded “Helicopter” from iTunes almost immediately, and then greedily hunted out all the other MP3s that I could find to satisfy my urge to hear as much of this band as I could. I was hardly the only person that the band had this impact on, and they were quickly hyped up as the “next big thing” for 2005. The album was going to be a dead cert.

I think the tickets for this gig actually went on sale about the same time as their debut album was released, when the hype about them (“probably the greatest band anywhere in the world, ever!” -- the NME, probably) was at its peak. Naturally, it quickly sold out – but I was still smarting at missing out on seeing the band when I had turned my nose up at the chance to see the NME tour at the same venue in January (on a bill also featuring The Futureheads, the Kaiser Chiefs and the Killers – Doh!) so there was no chance I was going to miss out this time around, and I snapped up a pair of tickets as soon as they came on sale. All I then had to do was to sit on my hands and wait for October. I saw the band live for the first time at Glastonbury in June, and although they were pretty good, they were a little sterile sounding and it felt as though they were simply running through their album in front of a big crowd. I was looking forward to seeing them in a smaller venue (Rock City has a capacity of about 2000 people, I think).

Rock City is great when it’s full. The balcony and the little steps up from the dancefloor to the two bars turn it into a bear pit, with people hanging off every available space, baying for blood. By the time Lord B and I arrived, the whole venue was heaving, although since the refit and the installation of a new air conditioner, sadly you don’t get sweat dripping off the ceiling anymore. Once again, we’d missed the support, but were there in plenty of time to get a drink and settle in for the main event.

For me, Bloc Party will always be about the drummer. Matt Tong’s epileptic drumming is the lynchpin of the band’s sound, and is the reason why I am totally unable to tap my foot in time to their music. Considering his drumming is so frantic, he actually looks remarkably composed behind his kit. Perhaps, like a swan, he’s paddling furiously underneath the surface. The other key component of the Bloc Party sound, of course, is Kele Okoreke’s yelp. The broadsheets seem to think it’s remarkable to find a black man fronting a guitar band, and there is apparently much idle tittle-tattle about his sexuality (who cares, on both counts). He’s a natural though, and although he was only 24 last week, he’s now comfortable enough with his audience to chat with us easily between songs, to instruct us when to dance and to dedicate a song to a fellow Libran in the crowd when he discovers that it’s his birthday (it doesn’t sound like much, but Bob Dylan doesn’t bother with any of that stuff, and he's been doing it for years....).

They were really good. The crowd were really up for it and the band looked like they were enjoying themselves – both of which have a huge impact on the atmosphere of any concert. They’ve got the songs too: ‘So Here We Are’, ‘Banquet’, ‘Like Eating Glass’, ‘This Modern Love’, current single ‘Two More Years’, ‘Helicopter’….. In a little over an hour, they basically played their way through the whole of ‘Silent Alarm’ and a few b-sides, plus the new single. Much the same as their Glastonbury set, only a whole lot more dynamic. I thought that they lost a bit of momentum towards the end of the set, but all in all, they were ace. If you're into Gang of Four, then you've probably heard it all before, it's true, but I still thought they were great. You know how I generally feel on Sunday evenings, but it seems that an hour or so spent listening to the surging, stuttering, spikey Bloc Party sound is a great way to beat those Sunday blues and to end the weekend on a high.

They were also extremely loud, as I discovered as soon as they had finished playing and not only were my ears whistling in protest, but they also felt slightly blocked. Ah well. The joys of live music, eh?

My next gig is something of a change of pace: KT Tunstall on 31st October.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

who answers? who answers?

Okey-cokey. A couple of loose ends to tie up.

Firstly: Guess Who The Bookshelf Belongs To....

Answers first, I think, then winners.

1. Variously guessed as belonging to Mark, the Ultimate Olympian, Spin & Fox or as being staged by me. This shelf actually belongs to .... Yoko Spungeon.

2. The most popular guess for this shelf was RedOne, but it actually belongs to .... The Urban Fox

3. You were meant to think that this one belonged to Red..... Bob Dylan, Billy Bragg, RATM, Bill Hicks, Michael Moore and, erm, 'Red Storm Rising'. A few people thought this was Fox, but most of you correctly picked this out as being.... staged by me

4. It gets harder now. Most people pegged this one as the NumNum, but Lord B cracked it - this shelf belongs to.... Mark

5. The copious amounts of reference material and set texts should mark this out as the shelf of a teacher, and indeed, the shelf belongs to.... Mike.

6. Lord B got this one too.... most people were distracted by the iPod and thought this shelf belonged to the Ultimate Olympian, but actually I'm not even sure that it *is* an iPod, as the owner of this shelf prefers an alternative MP3 player (I know!). The shelf in fact belongs to.... The NumNum

7. There was some cracking detective work going on by one or two of you when you correctly identified this shelf as belonging to.... CLM

8. The golf clubs were the clue here - their owner is a former professional player.... The Ultimate Olympian

9. The law books are a dead giveaway, aren't they? This shelf belongs to.....Jenni

10. It's amazing how the quality of the light in this photo acts as such a big clue to the owner. As several of you guessed, this bookshelf belongs to....Aravis

11. Sparser than I would have guessed, but the clues are there with some of those book titles. This bookshelf belongs to.... Spin

12. That leaves just this one - and the Lonely Planet guide to Australia is a pretty hefy hint. This bookshelf belongs to.... Leah

So. How did you do?

In third place, with a very creditable 6 points ---> Lord Bargain
Runner-up, with an excellent 7 points ---> Spin
but the winner with 8 points ---> Aravis.

Well done Aravis. Drop me a line to claim your exciting prizes!

A special prize (another SwissToni CD) will be shipped out post-haste to the person who sent me a couple of photos of their bookshelves..... yesterday. A little late, but very much appreciated.

Any guesses?

Thanks for sending in your bookshelves and for posting your guesses. I had a lot of fun with this, and I hope you did too.


I'm off out to see Bloc Party tonight at Rock City, but before I go - the answers to the pub quiz questions (in case you were tearing your hair out).

A. Name the 5 countries with the biggest hindu populations
India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal & Indonesia

B. Name the last 5 American winners of the men's singles tournament at Wimbledon
Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors & Arthur Ashe

C. This one's a bit more tricky: the last letter of the previous answer is the first letter of the next answer.....

1. Which sitcom had characters called Daphne, Ros, Niles & Martin? Frasier
2. Which cartoon dog appeared with a cat called Custard? Rhoobarb
3. Which Rock singer took his name from a brand of hearing aid? Bono
4. What's the name given to a patch of green in the middle of a desert? Oasis
5. Which season begins after the vernal equinox? Spring
6. Which British film has won the most Oscars? Gandhi
7. Which country did the Romans call Hibernia? Ireland
8. In which city are the headquarters of General Motors based? Detroit
9. Which game features circles of red, green & yellow and playing involves getting really tangled up? Twister
10. What is the name of Roy Race's son? Rocky

(no pressure, but we got 10/10 here)

and finally:

D: Connections

1. Which British Politician had an affair with Antonia de Sancha?
David Mellor
2. Who was burned for treason & witchcraft in 1431 and canonised in 1920?
Joan of Arc
3. What was the name of the character from the Wild West, played variously in films by Kirk Douglas, Dennis Quaid and Val Kilmer?
Doc Holliday
4. What was the name of the character played by Pamela Anderson in Baywatch
CJ Parker

5. which fictional character is the connection between the last 4 answers???
Reggie Perrin (so they tell me).


Bloc Party review tomorrow kids.

Friday, October 14, 2005

A Treasure Time Won't Steal Away

....and exhale.

Mon Dieu mes amis, le weekend est finalement ici!

Before the celebrations can begin in earnest, we must of course pay our weekly tribute to the all-consuming God of Earworms. Shuffling across the floor to light the incense, this week's acolyte is an old friend and colleague of mine. He is a source of zen-like calm, gnomic wisdom and limitless advice on technology. He is also currently very much in my good books for an astounding piece of generosity that he sprang on me a little earlier in the week.

Ladies and Gentleworms.... without further ado....it is my great honour to present for your earworming pleasure....

Earworms of the Week - Guest Editor #21 - The NumNum

First of all - Apologies. I have not been an avid surfer of the last month, and have therefore missed the goings on in our little blog community. So it was a bit of a surprise to get an AIM from Mr ST, who asked if I was able to do the earworm thingy. 'Just stuff in your head' said he. Phew I thought, I hardly listen to music on the train anymore. However, I have a mixed up car mp3-cd that has a full 700mb of music that goes round and round and round, hardly replaced. So much of the music below is a ghostly audio image of that cd, but to begin with, a song I am known to hum incessantly, followed by one that Icy is now humming about the house and is therefore stuck in my head.

1. Prince - The Beautiful Ones
This song always goes around in my head. ALWAYS. A certain Captain Damo will attest that I am a bit of a Prince fan. And of all of his songs, this one is the one I hum/sing to myself a lot. Its spooky. I've had a really bad three weeks, and yet there I was looking out over the railway tracks at Paddington and humming to myself “Baby baby baby, what's it gonna be?”. I've seen the fellow live about three time, and alas I have all the cd's, even the absolutely crap ones that I spent £35 on only to see them reduced to £5.99 a year later since nobody wants to buy them.

2. Savage Garden - I Want You
Blame Icy for this. She hadn't heard of them before I stuck my CD into the player in th kitchen. Unfortunately since then, it has been played, played, and played, and she also is known to walk around the house singing it. So what was once a song I put 2nd to ‘To The Moon And Back’, is now buzzing around in the top of my music stack in my head. Its not a bad song really, shame she doesn’t hum the other one.

3. John Lee Hooker - Boom Boom
This was induced by the stupid demands work places on me. I don't have a huge musical brain like ST/Damo etc, but I have my moments. And now and then, when something happens, I trigger a song off. This was triggered by a comment made in a meeting about 'Resizing an infrastructure based on latest proof of concept findings', and during said meeting a senior member of the client team made a statement that made me thing 'They're gonna shoot you right down boyo' - and voila, John Lee Hooker buzzed around me head. I am known to smirk during meetings, and the secret is I'm playing the music to either someone's or my (yes my!) demise. Might as well enjoy it no?

4. Simon And Garfunkel - Mrs Robinson
I still do this one, its embarrassing. I think Icy may commit me to an asylum. I'd be watching tv, get up and then mutter to myself en route "toot tot toot toot to..." you know, the slow sweet gentle melodic start to the song? I must admit, I haven't got a clue what the entire lyrics are, but I do hum the tune when I'm happy or feeling melodic (not that I can sing!) Its now buzzing round again, though I'm too blooming exhausted to hum it out.

5. Asha Boshle - Dum Maro Dum
You'll be hard pushed to know this unless you're from the sub-continent and have a close link with the music of your elders who are 40+. Its from an old Indian film, and I just absolutely LOVE the baseline and snare beat (and the film wasn't half bad too). I used to have it on a tape I listened to on the plane to-fro from University to home. Alas the mp3 on the cd in the car is of very poor quality. But I do have the original LP (in the garage now) and when played on the stereo at my Sisters, the bass and snare shine through. My sisters have loads more where this came from, and I am known to sometimes burst into indian song at work, much to the confusion and amusement of work colleagues. (btw, she's the brimful of Asha that cornershop sing about in case you wondered...)

6. The Stone Roses - Breaking Into Heaven
I absolutely love this song. I honestly don't need to have it twice on the car mp3 cd, but I do. Ever since I bought the album in Manchester when-I-were-a-lad, as they say, its been a firm favourite for me. The baseline rolls, the lyrics are intriguing, and the melody just gets me going. I hum the bassline now and then - sometimes people confuse me for a madman, but its really the bassline.

7. MC Hammer - You Can't Touch This
Sorry. Blame it on the 'streets', more specifically the avenue I grew up in. Whenever I deliver something awesome at work or with friends, I just move into the chorus of this. It's so funky. All together now - You can't touch this...

8. Metallica - The Outlaw Torn
I've proven my affinity to the lyrics in this on my blog. This raises its heavy head now and then, especially as I try to remember 'be humble, be down to earth'. And as they say in the song "And if I close my mind in fear - Please pry it open. And if my face becomes sincere - Beware. And when I start to come undone - Stitch me together. And when you see me strut - Remind me of what left this outlaw torn..." See, catchy init?

9. Howlin Wolf - Wang Dang Doodle/Smokestack Lightnin'
I don't look it, and Icy hasn't really seen this side of me yet (ooh scary, hidden secrets), but I am a huge blues fan. I keep it hidden, largely because I haven't done it justice and invested in the hours in a proper blues club. Last I went was on my birthday, to the London Pizza Express Jazz Club some New Years Eve many years ago. Anyway, I love Howlin Wolf. He ROCKS! And I do my very best to combine both of these together and do a "all night long, hear me cry woohooooo". Its quite a shame, I don't do it justice at all.

10. Michael Jackson - The Lady In My Life
Its my favourite love song, and though I don't sing it, I find its melody divine, the lyrics, sublime, and I'm lucky to have someone to quietly sing it to in my head. Soppy I know, but I honestly put this up there as one of my favourite songs of all time, and I think its HEAVILY underrated by everyone. Listen to it again, its bloody amazing. I think this is my true earwig, since i do not sing it, hum it, or anything, it just swarms into my head when I think of how lucky I am.

And I just drift off...

All together now: “STOP – Hammer Time!”


That's a hell of a way to leave us mate. Now we are all going to spend all weekend with that song in our brains and an image of that pantalooned fool dancing in front of our eyes.... So thanks for that.

Next week's Guest Editor is the lovely ("Gettin' Lucky In Kentucky") Leah from Serendipity. Poor Leah is currently mourning for an old friend, so perhaps we can dedicate this post to the memory of Buzz, and Leah can start the healing process by thinking happy thoughts and seeing what tunes drift into her head?


If you are planning on submitting an entry to the "Guess Who The Bookshelf Belongs To", then you'd best pull your finger out.... I'll probably put the answers up and pick a winner on Sunday night.

[previous guest editors: Flash, The Urban Fox, Lord Bargain, Retro-Boy, Statue John, Ben, OLS, Ka, Jenni, Aravis, Yoko, Bee, Charlie, Tom, Di, Spin, The Ultimate Olympian, Damo, Mike, RedOne]

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

You'll read it in a book tonight...

Hello. Welcome to this edition of "Guess Who The Bookshelf Belongs To"....

Here's how it works: below you will find pictures of 12 bookshelves. Each shelf belongs to a reader of this blog. All you have to do is to match the bookshelf to the blogger and put your answers in the comments box below.

The prize? A SwissToni Mix CD - compiled by my own fair hands once the results are known and with the winner in mind.

There's more!

As if the CD wasn't enough, the winner will also have the honour of providing the title (in the house style) for a future post.....

There's a slight catch: One of the photos has been staged by me. For bonus points, identify the fake.... (well, I've probably given this away elsewhere, but you still have to pick the right pic, right?)

Here's the shortlist:
-> The Num Num
-> Leah
-> Aravis
-> Retro-Boy
-> The Ultimate Olympian
-> The Urban Fox
-> Spinsterwitch
-> CLM from to do #121: insert clever title here
-> RedOne
-> Jenni
-> YokoSpungeon
-> Mike from All Right Here


Off you go then. Click on each photo for a closer look.

Bookshelf 1:

Hmmm. Yeats, Cervantes, Irving, Vonnegut... very good.... what's that? Pervy books? Excellent!

Bookshelf 2

Hmmm. This is a bit of a mixed bag, innit? Quite a bit of Evelyn Waugh here, some philosophy, a guitar tutoring book, a bit of politics.... and the Matrix comics, some Philip Pullman and is that a book on A-Ha I can see?

Bookshelf 3

Oooh. CDs. Otherwise, it's another mixed bag. Tom Clancy?

Bookshelf 4

Piers Morgan, Martin Amis, Elvis and David Bowie? Nicely stocked though.

Bookshelf 5

This one's very brainy: Shakespeare, Chaucer, Orwell, Paxman... and lots of reference books and dictionaries.... hmmm.

Bookshelf 6

Lots of books here, but I'm distracted by the iPod....

Bookshelf 7

Lots of music, of course - but someone who has spent some time in Europe? France by the looks of it.

Bookshelf 8

Maupassant, Greene, Roald Dahl, Salinger.... and golf clubs?

Bookshelf 9

"Looking for Mr. Right", "Sex & the City" and "Constitutional Law & Politics"? Someone with insomnia?

Bookshelf 10

I like this bookcase. Lots of big, hard-backed books and it's bathed in a warm glow. Good for browsing, I reckon. Very calming.

Bookshelf 11

Very spartan looking, isn't it? "Tarot For Yourself"? "Truth or Dare"? "Managing Your Mind"?

Bookshelf 12

and finally.... a political traveller, by the looks of things.


I feel a bit Loyd Grossman after that, and it's not a pleasant feeling, let me tell you.

Over to you then. One guess each and a reason for each guess would be nice.

Oh - and thanks for sending in the photos! Next week..... toasters!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

the answer is blowin' in the wind....

To avoid all possibility of another night spent moping about the house, this evening I made sure that there wouldn't be any time. I left work at about 7pm, went for a swim, got back home about 8:30, grabbed a bite to eat and dashed out to the pub to meet some friends for 8:45. It was the pub quiz, you see.

To make up for the brilliant post I would undoubtedly have written if I had stayed at home, I've brought home a couple of questions for you:

A. Name the 5 countries with the biggest hindu populations
B. Name the last 5 American winners of the men's singles tournament at Wimbledon
C. This one's a bit more tricky: the last letter of the previous answer is the first letter of the next answer.....

1. Which sitcom had characters called Daphne, Ros, Niles & Martin?
2. Which cartoon dog appeared with a cat called Custard?
3. Which Rock singer took his name from a brand of hearing aid?
4. What's the name given to a patch of green in the middle of a desert?
5. Which season begins after the vernal equinox?
6. Which British film has won the most Oscars?
7. Which country did the Romans call Hibernia?
8. In which city are the headquarters of General Motors based?
9. Which game features circles of red, green & yellow and playing involves getting really tangled up?
10. What is the name of Roy Race's son?

(no pressure, but we got 10/10 here)

and finally:

D: Connections

1. Which British Politician had an affair with Antonia de Sancha?
2. Who was burned for treason & witchcraft in 1431 and canonised in 1920?
3. What was the name of the character from the Wild West, played variously in films by Kirk Douglas, Dennis Quaid and Val Kilmer?
4. What was the name of the character played by Pamela Anderson in Baywatch


5. which fictional character is the connection between the last 4 answers???

Tie Breaker: How many of the wickets that Courtney Walsh took in Test Cricket were batsmen who were out for a duck? (I don't actually know the answer to this, so I'd appreciate your thoughts please. Now the question has been asked, I feel I have to know the answer.....)

We came 2nd in the end with 43/60 -- the winners had 44 -- but more importantly I spent a couple of hours in the company of some old friends and drank some beer.

bed, I think.

Monday, October 10, 2005

I regularly hurt but never say

I wouldn't say that I was a creature of habit, but my routine has definitely been upset. Why? Because C. left yesterday afternoon to spend a week on business in Hong Kong and China. On the face of it, this is great because it gives me a few days to do what I want, eat what I want, watch what I want and go to bed when I want (most of which I do anyway, but you know what I mean). After about ten minutes though, I realised that it wasn't going to work out like that.

I think I'm moping.

Let me explain. I'm an introvert; I derive a lot of my energy and stimulation from within myself. That's not necessarily the same thing as enjoying spending time on my own. In fact, I like having people around me, and I draw enormous comfort from having C. in the same room, even if we aren't actually talking (and actually, talking sometimes ruins the calm for me - I like to spend my time reading or blogging or something, and sometimes I don't actually want the engagement of a conversation). This can be frustrating to an extrovert like C., and I must often seem very withdrawn, but it's the way I am.

When I'm on my own, no sooner do I settle down to do something, than my mind starts to wander onto what I could be doing next. As soon as the thought is in my head, I can't sit still and have this unbearable urge to go and do it. I'll sit down to watch a DVD and I'll have to get up to make a cup of tea, or to get my bag ready for work, or to get the laptop, or whatever..... I just can't settle. Yesterday I did okay, I think. C. left at about 6pm, and after that I managed to read an entire book, cook my tea and watch a couple of episodes of Seinfeld before heading off to bed. This evening I'm not doing quite so well. I got home from work a little after 7pm, cooked and ate a pizza, pootled around the internet reading a few blogs and so on. And now? I think I might go to bed and read a book. It's 9pm! That's about 3 hours earlier than my normal routine.

I miss her.

I've also been listening to 'Leaders of the Free World' by Elbow, which - great album though it is - probably hasn't helped my mood...


I've got 6 bookcase pics so far, but I'm still on the lookout for more please......

Saturday, October 08, 2005

I guess there was just no way of knowing

I discovered this over at troubled diva, and I naturally found it impossible to resist.

Simply stick your iPod player on "shuffle" and let it become your own personal oracle by answering the following questions:

1. What do you think of me?

"Boys Don't Cry (Acoustic)" - The Cure

'I would tell you that I loved you
If I thought that you would stay
But I know that it's no use
That you've already gone away'

Well, I do still love you iPod, I really do. You have nothing to worry about. Or are you trying to tell me that you think I'm a cry-baby?

2. Will I have a happy life?

"MIA" - Foo Fighters

'Say goodbye to me
I'm going MIA'

Dammit. That's a bit vague isn't it? Could you be a bit more specific? I'm thinking that this might be a no. Dave Grohl doesn't sound too happy, anyway.

3. What do my friends *really* think of me?

"Guns Don't Kill People, Rappers Do" - Goldie Lookin' Chain

Ah, they love me? Right?

'Shot to death outside Hyper Value,
Guns blazin like Michael Caine in Zulu'

Wrong: they want to kill me.

4. What does my Significant Other think of me?

"There She Goes Again" - The Velvet Underground

'Now take a look, there’s no tears in her eyes
She won’t take it from just any guy, what can you do'

Right. Well that's pretty bad. Oh, there's more?

'You see her walkin’ on down the street
Look at all your friends she’s gonna meet'

Are you implying she's seeing other people?

'You better hit her'

What? Get outta here! For starters, she'd hit me back. Harder.

5. Do people secretly lust after me?

"Mad Man" - The Hives

'mad, mad, mad'

That's a no then?

6. How can I make myself happy?

"Runnin' on Empty" - Jackson Browne

'Gotta do what you can just to keep your love alive
Trying not to confuse it with what you do to survive'

Um. Great, but I don't really know what that means. Are you sure you're a qualified life coach?

7. What should I do with my life?

"What Have I Done To Deserve This?" - Pet Shop Boys

'You always wanted a lover
I only wanted a job
I’ve always worked for my living'

Taking a lover, or taking a job. Um. Let me think.....is that really a difficult choice?

'We don’t have to fall apart, we don’t have to fight
(What have i, what have i, what have I done to deserve this?)
We don’t need to go to hell and back every night
(What have i, what have i, what have I done to deserve this?)'

Now there's a philosophy for life, eh?

8. Why must life be so full of pain?

"Vamos" - The Pixies

'Estaba pensando sobreviviendo con mi sister en New Jersey,
Ella me dijo que es una vida buena alla,
Bien rica bien chevere, Y voy! Puneta!'

Ah. I see.

9. What advice can you give me?

"Synthesiser" - Electric Six

'You can laugh you can cry
You can live you can die
Spend your days asking why?
But you can't ignore my techno'

What can you say to that?

'You can trip on my
You can trip on my
You can trip on my
You can trip
You can trip
You can trip on my synthesizer
You can trip on my synthesizer
Let's go'

Right on!

10. What do you think true happiness is?

"What Do You Want From Me?" - Monaco

'What do you want from me?
It's not how it used to be
You've taken my life away
Ruining everything'

Ah, miserable paranoia - of course!

11. Will I die happy?

"True Faith" - New Order

I never really understood what this song was all about. All that stuff about morning suns and days never coming. Nonsense. Will I die happy? Who knows! I doubt it depends on my interpretation of these lyrics though. In fact, if I look at them any more I think I might just die now.


So what has this exercise taught me?

That my iPod knows nothing (and that you can't ignore my techno).

Whose stupid idea was it to ask it questions in the first place?


[bookshelves please!]

Friday, October 07, 2005

I'd give it all gladly if our lives could be like that

This feels as though it has been an uncommonly long week. I felt as though I had completed the working week as early as Tuesday, which was of course unfortunate, as I still had 3/5s of the damn thing to get though. Imagine my delight to have finally made it though to the right side of Friday and to be able to lead you all in our weekly prostration at the feet of the God of Earworms.

I was actually mildly surprised to see that this week's Guest Editor hadn't already had a go at this. My surprise turned to delight when I realised that this meant that it was a pleasure yet to come.... Passionate and politicised, and yet also polite, positive and playful.... Oh yes.

Ladies & Gentleworms, without further ado.... it is my great pleasure to present for your earworming pleasure:

Earworms of the Week - Guest Editor #20 - RedOne from Run Over By The Truth

I’d never come across the term “earworm” until I read it here, on SwissToni’s blog. So it’s a special pleasure to be asked to contribute my own earworms of the week. Also, it’s a lot easier than a “favourites” list. The problem with favourites is, you have to actually choose. Decisions are not my strong point. But there’s no such problem with an earworm. It arrives, it burrows into your brain. There’s no choice about it. I have an unfortunate tendency to whistle whatever earworm I’ve caught, passing the infection to irritated friends and workmates. But in blogworld you are mercifully spared. Here are RedOne’s ears unplugged.

Hell No, We Ain’t All Right – Public Enemy
This is Public Enemy’s response to the New Orleans debacle and I was playing it a lot a couple of weeks ago. But after a break, it’s returned unbidden and I’ve still got it on the brain. I’ve been waking up with it already playing in my head for some reason. I never used to wake up to earworms.

Flag (Half Mast remix) – Alabama 3
Frankly, I blame blogworld for this one. Alabama 3 – of whom there seem to be at least half a dozen in south London –have been popping up all over blogworld recently. And this track is on the Peace Jukebox, where I’ve also stumbled over it recently. This is another wake up in the morning earworm. I should stress here that I don’t have any kind of musical alarm clock – the phenomenon is purely a function of my brain. Strange.

Sweet Dreams (are made of this) – Eurythmics
This was on in the caff. It’s always on in the caff. Somehow the DJ at Heart FM, the Home of Caff Music, knows when I’m on my second cuppa. I grew up with this one and it’s got the catchiest tune with a classic hook – you know when the cue’s coming and you’re ready to get up and belt into the microphone along with Annie Lennox. And then comes the problem: seriously dodgy lyrics. “Some of them want to abuse you,” – OK that’s a grim take on the world, but maybe with some justification. But “Some of them want to be abused…” You sure about that, Annie? I don’t think I really want to go much further down that route. I’ve always felt deeply equivocal about this track, to be honest. It’s so singalong and then – eek! – perhaps not…

Nobody’s Fault But Mine – Blind Willie Johnson
Don’t know why this one’s been on my mind. An argument rages among people who wrangle about these things – I don’t – about whether you can call it blues when a song has a gospel theme. This one’s got a gospel theme but it sounds like the blues all right, with Blind Willie’s searing voice laden with emotion, echoed by his slide guitar. “Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering,” said Marx, before moving on to the more famous bit. Hear it for real from Blind Willie in 1927.

I Loves You Porgy – Nina Simone
I love Nina Simone. The passion, the politics – and no-one brings the emotion of this track out quite like she does. Like many a Gershwin tune, it’s earwormy – not easily shaken out of the head. But Nina’s singing leaves the feeling of the song to linger with you too. I’d have loved to see Nina Simone live.

Suki Romnyi Gogyaver – Kalyi Jag
Kalyi Jag are a group of Roma musicians from Hungary. I love their music. The instrumentation is limited but the group use their voices both melodically and percussively. It’s hard to describe, but complex and beautiful. I often listen to my Kalyi Jag CDs late at night. And then find that a half submerged tune resurfaces the next day.

Girlie Girlie – Sophia George
I caught this one walking back from the shops the other day. I’ve no idea what set it off – maybe just an overheard word. Here Sophia scolds the young man who clearly doesn’t realise that zip thing can be used to keep your trousers closed. “Young man, you too girlie, girlie…” Yeah, you tell him, Sofe.

Bob Dylan’s Dream – Bob Dylan
This one has come up because I’ve been reading and thinking about travellers' tales – and about friendships. And generally reminiscing a bit. And each line of thought has brought this into my head. It’s not among the Dylan songs I was playing the other day, but is somehow still occupying the earworm slot. The pictures in my mind aren’t exactly sepia, but over time the colours in the prints have faded and changed. I drift off a bit sometimes.

Beaux Dimanches – Amadou and Mariam
Sundays in Bamako are wedding days, apparently. And this is great. It’s like an anti-earworm really, because it doesn’t nag or irritate. It’s a track full of melody and rolling rhythms. People near my tapping fingers might say different.

Al Ouzoubia – Sabah Fakhri
This one has been sticking in my mind for months at a time since I first got a CD with it on, two years ago. My whistled version isn’t much good, but I’m obsessed with the tune. Fakhri is a Syrian musician with an incredibly powerful voice who performs mainly traditional musical forms. I’m not really a dancer, but this is really a get up and grab two people’s hands and join in number even for me. It’s recorded live in the best way: where the audience clapping and singing along helps the atmosphere without taking anything away from the recorded performance. It gets faster and faster. I defy you to not at least click your fingers. Irritatingly, this earworm vacates my head whenever I’m with friends who could translate the lyrics for me. In two years, I’ve never remembered to ask anyone.


Oh Red - An excellent list. Well worth the wait I think. All that anticipation merely serving to heighten the pleasure! I don't know about anyone else, but my own personal earworm is now furiously keeping the red flag flying....

Next week's Guest Editor is an old friend and colleague of mine....so expect some gnomic pronouncements and plenty of zenlike calm from B1RDIE Num Num.

I was just about to say "same time next week", but as I've just discovered, time is relative. So perhaps next Friday will come around a little quicker this week, eh?

Well, I can dream.

(and don't forget - I want photos of your bookcases please, otherwise I'm going to stage them all and pop them up at some point next week. To be honest, that sounds like more fun, but is a bit of a pain in the arse for me, so get snapping!)

[previous guest editors: Flash, The Urban Fox, Lord Bargain, Retro-Boy, Statue John, Ben, OLS, Ka, Jenni, Aravis, Yoko, Bee, Charlie, Tom, Di, Spin, The Ultimate Olympian, Damo, Mike]