Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Charles Dickens once lived in Camden (16 Bayham Street, to be precise). If he came back today, stories like this would make him feel right at home. I reproduce a particularly nineteenth-century portion here:

The mutilated bodies of a woman and teenage girl have been found dumped in bin liners behind a pub in Camden, north London. A double murder inquiry has been launched after the remains were found by a homeless man foraging for food in a bin in Royal College Street. He carried the leg parts to a nearby hospital for tropical diseases where shocked staff called in police. One of the black bin bags found behind the College Arms contained a torso, believed to belong to a white girl aged as young as 14. Two sections of a leg, thought to belong to a white woman in her 30s, were found in another bag at the scene.

Everything about this story makes me feel sick - children murdered at Christmas time, people with nowhere to live being forced to scavenge for food over Christmas. At the risk of sounding like a Daily Mail reader (I assure you nothing could be further from the truth), is this how far our "progress" has brought us?

Still, on more cynical note, I hope this latest atrocity will be the final pin in the bloated pig's bladder that is FPD Savill's ploy to sell one-bedroom flats on Prince of Wales Road for a third of a million pounds a go. "Oh, but this *is* a nice area. Really it is. So there are a few murders, and the filthy Silverlink train runs right outside your bedroom window, but it's a small price to pay for the convenience of living so close to Iceland, Woollies and the Drinker's Paradise off-licence..." Would be house-buyers are strongly advised to get a grip.

Monday, December 30, 2002

Aha, found the answer to the Beacon Hill question, thanks to www.thorneycroft.com. Apparently it's named after one or more Beacon Hills in Wiltshire, as a Wiltshire landowner, Thomas Poynder, owned the land in Holloway on which this and other streets were built on the 1870s. So in a way, it is named for the ancient beacon fires lit by prehistoric colemen, just not in that actual place.

Saturday, December 28, 2002

I'm not much in the habit of linking to "interesting things I found on the internet" (that's really for the boys, I think), and still less to things I read in other people's blogs. But I've got to make an exception for this fabulous thing I found via Ben Hammersley - someone has started to write up Samuel Pepys's diary as a blog! We're probably witnessing the start of a new craze for 2003 (I'd write up Dorothy Wordsworth, if I had the time), but you do get the feeling that however cool and modern this is, the paper versions are still going to be around when the websites have long gone. Whoever said we're living in the new Dark Ages was undoubtedly correct.

[...] I wrote the above, and now I've had some more thoughts about it. Now I've linked to Pepys's diary on the sidebar there, it's like he's here among us, walking the same streets, eating the same leftover turkey etc. It's like a telescoping of time, ourselves and our past selves suddenly living side-by-side. And I love the whole linking thing - links to maps and explanations and descriptions of places etc. When I was very little I had a persistent fantasy about writing a diary and putting it in a huge tea-chest with all of the objects and photos of people, places etc. that I had referred to in the diary. In my teens, I did keep a diary in a box (actually a series of yearly biscuit tins) together with related objects, and I have several of these boxes in my cupboard still. So I suppose in a way I was envisaging a kind of blog format, with the source text and the links to mentioned objects close by... who'd have thought that it would come to be so easy and take up so little space!

Thursday, December 26, 2002

Merry Christmas to you all - hope you had, and continue to have - a fab festive season.

I've just started reading The Fields Beneath by Gillian Tindall. It's an incredibly detailed history of Kentish Town, intended to be a blueprint for uncovering the history of inner suburban areas everywhere. It's beautifully written, completely authoritative and with an excellent wry sense of humour woven in.

Who would have thought that town planning could be so fascinating - anyone who's read Emergence and liked the sections on organic versus planned developments will enjoy the minute (I mean really minute, there's practically an inch-by-inch description of where the River Fleet and its tributaries used to run) detail in this book of how urban areas develop and are built. I'm on my way to becoming a Kentish Town bore, and am already delighted at the knowledge that Anglers Lane, which my street runs off, used to be a track taken by people going to fish in the river Fleet (also known as the Ken Ditch, from where Kentish Town takes its name) before the river was encased in an iron pipe and built over.

Note to Mark - you would really like this book - get it from the Owl Bookshop! Same goes for anyone else who lives in Kentish Town, Camden, Highgate, Holloway and surrounding areas. Maybe I'll even find the answer to my question about Beacon Hill in here.

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

By electing to spend Christmas Day together just the two of us, it seems that H. and I are conforming to no demographic known to man. He's a meat-eater and I'm a vegetarian, which essentially makes it Christmas dinner for one, yet the fridge is full of stuff designed for extended families - 18 chipolatas (the lowest denomination available), half a pound of pork, sage and onion stuffing, a month's worth of potatoes, and a giant net of sprouts. Unable to face the prospect of a giant bag of carrots, I've opted for one of those teeny trays of baby carrots, with some baby leeks thrown in for good measure. H is getting smoked salmon for a starter (another giant pack, most of which will probably end up in the cats' dish) while I'm having an onion tartlet. For the main course, H. is getting a kind of pre-stuffed chicken breast affair, and I'm having vegetarian Lincolnshire sausages. For pudding I'm making a tarte tatin - it was going to have pecans in it, but I seem to have eaten them all already.

Christmas Day is the only day in the year that I ever cook, so we're not expecting Nigella Lawson quality, or even Delia. But if the worst comes to the worst I guess we could always crash Jamie Oliver's place up the road, break his arms and nick his turkey dinner. Incidentally, I confirm that there is no Sainsbury's within miles of Oliver's Kentish Town pad, so I can only assume he actually shops in Somerfield like the rest of us.

Monday, December 23, 2002

Went to see the Two Towers last night in the seriously horrific new complex in Fulham Broadway (shudder). I *loved* the film, it's got such amazing scenery, and the Man, the Elf and the Dwarf are great, although the Hobbits continue to be deeply irritating, especially Elijah Wood, who has about five lines in the whole film and spends the rest of the time looking pained and pathetic and in need of a good slap. The Ent was just as I had imagined from the book, and Gollum is spot on.

The Two Towers is all about impending war, and I spent at least half of the film in tears because it's all about to come true, and we're on the wrong side. It's difficult to feel good about Aragorn & Co pelting the Uruk-Hai with arrows, and the Riders of Rohan turning up at the 11th hour like the Prussians at Waterloo, when you're plagued with a queasy feeling that Sauron and Saruman are just Bush and Blair with beards. The Middle-Earth/Middle-East connection is too close for comfort too. Well, if it comes to it, I'm with the Ents, even though the "Which Lord of the Rings Character Are You?" test has me down as Galadriel.

Friday, December 20, 2002

Wooo - one superhuman effort later, and all the Christmas cards and presents have been wrapped, sent and delivered, the Christmas tree has been bought and decorated, peace has been made once more with my grandmother (whose 92nd birthday it is today - happy birthday, Granny!), the cleaner (whose name is Lolita - I kid you not) has been given her Christmas bonus, and all the work-that-had-to-be-done-before-Christmas is complete! Wooooooo! I'm off to have a nice hot bath and a game of Tomb Raider to celebrate.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

When, oh when, oh when will it end? It's the week before Christmas and I have back-to-back meetings all week, was in the office till 9.15 last night ploughing through piles of rubbishy work things, the Christmas cards haven't been sent, the Christmas presents haven't been wrapped or sent (but at least this year they've been bought), I'm owed four thousand pounds in expenses and consequently haven't got any cash, I got a speeding ticket, the VAT man is after me and I haven't eaten anything sensible for days. Things have been like this for two and half years solid now. Is it actually going to be like this for *ever*?

Apart from all that, I keep meaning to say something about the Lilac Time. I used to have this huge crush on Stephen Duffy (I await charl's disdain) when I was 15 and he was in the charts with that dreadful "Kiss Me" song. Then when I was 17 he came out with the first Lilac Time album, now tragically discontinued, which was the greatest album ever (I await nibus's disdain) - beautiful folk-pop melodies and quirky lyrics that managed to stay just on the cool side of twee. How I *loved* him.

Sadly, in the early 90s I went all indie and rave, and Stuffy and I went our separate ways. Last year, though, I bought the Compendium album, which now lives in the CD player of my horrible soulless company car, and it's like rekindling an affair with a childhood sweetheart. In my mind, over the intervening decade and a half, he wrote all those love songs for me and for our long-lost romance. In a parallel world, I could have been the Girl Who Waves At Trains. In this world, it turns out that I am just the Girl Who Keeps Excel Spreadsheets. Perhaps it's not too late - Stephen, if you're reading this, please come and rescue me from corporate purgatory.

Saturday, December 07, 2002

A mammoth work week just gone, featuring 15-hour days and a particularly enjoyable 48-hour stretch with no sleep and no food other than vending-machine hot chocolate and vending-machine blueberry Frusli bars. At one point I somehow managed to get myself quoted in the press in Norway. Still, by yesterday it had become clear that my project (product launch) was an overwhelming success and that [whisper it] senior management was very pleased. Given that senior management is currently in New Zealand gearing up for the semi-finals of the Louis Vuitton Cup, I personally doubt the veracity of this.

In other sailing news, huge excitement welled up on Tuesday as it seemed that against all odds, Sanjola had pulled into the lead of the Atlantic Rally, ensuring safe passage into the history books for Cap'n Dicko and First Mate Jennifer. Sadly it turned out that our seafaring heroes were heading in entirely the wrong direction, and had to pull a quick U-ey round the Cape Verde Islands to rejoin the others mid-fleet. Looks like they'll have no trouble fulfilling Cap'n Dicko's ambition of being in St Lucia for his birthday though. Go, Yacht Sanjola!

Ooh, and as ordained, Smat has now got a blog. And a new job! Go Smat!

Got to go, Simon Schama's on telly. The Picts, Simon!

Saturday, November 30, 2002


Ooh Lord, another week flashes by without me noticing. Let's see, what happened? Girl friend H. (as opposed to boyfriend H.) turned up on Monday night, and in due course of conversation we got around to the subject of cyborgs, upon which H. revealed that she is good mates with Kevin Warwick, and that his detractors just don't understand him. Anyway, H. concurs with Donna Haraway that she'd rather be a cyborg than a goddess, while Sara thinks she would prefer to be a goddess.

Boyfriend H., meanwhile, has been keeping himself busy getting banned for a week from the Daily Mail chat forum for mentioning (actually, painstakingly deconstructing) the rumour about Posh and Becks. He thinks it's a PR stunt, I don't think it's even that. But the Daily Mail says it's defamatory and they've gagged him.

In other news, it's 80s fever here as H. pulls a marathon session of GTA: Vice City on the PS2. Just at the moment it's playing Wang Chung's Dancehall Days. I got H. killed the other day by insisting that he remain in the car so I could hear Sigue Sigue Sputnik. Lord only knows what the game (flash, audio) is about, but the soundtrack is ace.

Monday, November 25, 2002

H's adventuresome parents set off yesterday from Las Palmas in Gran Canaria to sail across the Atlantic, bound for St Lucia. Follow the progress of the mighty Yacht Sanjola on the Atlantic Rally website! According to the Fleet Viewer, Sanjola was last seen at N 28° 9' 0" W 15° 25' 0", travelling at 0 knots. Cap'n Dicko and First Mate Jennifer aren't going to get very far at that rate!

Saturday, November 23, 2002

Well everyone, I pulled a 10-hour studying session on the flight home from SF, and you would not believe how much my eyes have been opened by this Women, Machines and Cyborgs course I'm doing. Ideas you take for granted (what in cultural studies is called hegemony) that fall apart at the first inspection. For example, during the Enlightenment in the 18th century, Carl Linnaeus was one of the first scientists to attempt to classify living things. Looking for a category name that would bind together al those animals that were not fish, birds, insects, worms or amphibians, he picked the name mammalia, because in all species of this category, mothers suckle their young. He could equally have chosen pilosae (mammals uniquely all have hair) or aurecavigae (mammals all have a hollow ear, with three ear-bones, in common). Some people point out that he may have had personal political reasons for deliberately choosing the term "mammalia" from the range of options.

At the same time, Linnaeus classified modern humans as homo sapiens. So the implication is: it's the (uniquely) female lactating breast that provides the common link with animals, but it's the "masculine" quality of reason that sets us apart. Sexism is still alive and well in science!

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Ahhh, the lonely virtual life....no one's posted any comments for days and all my friends are sleeping when I'm awake (apart from the indefatigable Snark). What's more, the mysterious Paranoid Android and I are *still* the only bloggers in Kentish Town. In yank-news...CNN mounts 24/7 Hans Blix hate campaign, maintaining that he's never going to find any WMDs with that jaunty liberal Swedish attitude, and what America really needs in Iraq is a cross between Sherlock Holmes and the Terminator. In an effort to compete, NBC scoops a leaked document that reveals the worst-quality roads in the Bay Area. Apparently they're in Half Moon Bay, although San Leandro is also pretty bad. Clearly a slow news day here in Silicon Valley.

Monday, November 18, 2002

I've forsaken San Francisco for the dodgy Hotel Sofitel in downtown nowhere, with a view of a fake lagoon on the far shore of which loom the menacing towers of our HQ building. Upon arrival I was greeted with a fake "bonjour" by the American receptionist whose name is Giacomo. There's a giant carpet depicting Seurat's Bathers on the wall behind the reception desk. On the wall in my room there's a plan cadastre of the Louvre, a rubbish poem called "Dualisme" which I won't reproduce here, and some other cod-French fakery. The crumbs I found on the desk were quite real, though. Apparently, our CFO actually lives here, perhaps in a super-fake suite on the top floor. Mmm, I am going to have such a lovely week.

Sunday, November 17, 2002

Yay, Steven Johnson has started a blog! Everything that man says is great. And look! he's handsome too. Go Steven!

Saturday, November 16, 2002

Ohh, so much to tell, so little space....battled through jet lag to go and watch Carly Fiorina deliver a keynote speech at the Moscone Center. Gawd almighty, if I'd wanted to see an ad for HP I'd have just stayed in the hotel and watched CNN. So the tech industry's in a bit of rut, but honestly. People don't want super-hot new technology, said Carly. Good enough is good enough. What? And only HP is good enough. Harrumph. Oh, and Unix is not dead. Oh but it's Linux, Linux, Linux all the way, super-fast Linux clusters, "maximal capacity utilisation". Not a peep about Capellas and his mmm...juicy new job. Still, nice jacket, Carly.

Southwards by train to our work's headquarters, located on a stretch of reclaimed marshland and served by a godforsaken railway station with no taxis. A visiting speaker lectured us on marketing. "You don't create brand, your customers create brand" etc. It turned out that this guy was one of those old-school marketers who think that people are consumers and that therefore their only impulse is to receive. He was trying to market broadband. Making the same mistake as all the broadband marketers, everywhere, who think that success is predicated on getting people to receive stuff. Like all the other broadband marketers, he'd found by and large that people do not want to receive stuff, especially when that stuff consists of interactive buttons that show stats during basketball matches. Did he never think of finding out if people might actually want to broadcast stuff *up* the pipe? I thought, but didn't ask, cos everyone else was lapping it up.

Finally, took cab last night to the Mission (which turns out to be a bit like Hoxton but without the Nathans, or indeed any visible denizens at all) to see the Buckminster Fuller play, which was really great. Triangles rule, man. Had a bit of a shock when the actor, Ron Campbell, started on about Earth being a giant spaceship, and then came off the stage and up the stairs to where I was sitting and said to me "how was your trip last night?" I just gaped. Apparently though, my trip had been silent and beautiful. Slightly disorientated by the fact that the play is delivered as a monologue which is part autobiography, part science lecture, and there's a certain amount of audience participation (including the "Home, home in a dome" singalong). So you kind of want to start raising your hand and asking science questions, until you remember that you're not actually seeing Buckminster "Bucky" Fuller in front of you, but an actor. Weird.

Monday, November 11, 2002

Happy birthday to you/Happy birthday to you/Happy birthday dear nibus/Happy birthday to you!

Saturday, November 09, 2002

I was looking at the San Francisco City Guide trying to prepare myself a schedule of things to do while I'm there. My eye alighted on a "multimedia theater experience" type thing called Euphorium. Sounds good, I think, I'll definitely go to that. Very Bohemian. S. T. Coleridge, opium, Kubla Khan, the Man from Porlock etc. - marvellous. Investigating further, I quickly realised that this is the very same Euphorium that is currently playing in the Chalk Farm Roundhouse, just a few hundred yards from my door in Kentish Town. We were in the bar opposite only last night. Is San Francisco just like a reflection of Camden on the other side of the world?

Anyway, I've decided to go and see the Buckminster Fuller singalong experience instead.

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

For the first part of my MA course, I was required to read huge long Marxist tracts about the relationships between culture and society. The part I've just finished was more into Nicholas Negroponte and Howard Rheingold. For my new course I've just had to read an article from BBC Tomorrow's World's now-defunct magazine. It included a picture of Thora Hird on her Stannah stairlift, in response to which I was asked to make notes on whether or not I believe Thora is a cyborg. Is it just me, or is academia dumbing down before my eyes?

Sunday, November 03, 2002

Abusing the Fireworks Code, Pt. 1 - Attended a fireworks party last night at the house of some friends who will remain nameless, in a south coast town that will remain nameless (clue: it is apparently distinguished by its lack of fresh fish shops).

A gigantic firework, of the "box of tricks" type, was positioned half way up the garden in a wheelbarrow. The first attempt to light it failed. Returning to the firework to light it again (don't do it kids!) also proved fruitless. At length, one of our hosts was seen to disappear into the garden shed and return with a can of petrol, douse the firework, and throw lighted newspaper into the wheelbarrow. At this point, the more rational of the party guests retreated from the conservatory into the further recesses of the house. But to no avail. The petrol burned prettily for a while, but fireworks there were none. A larger can of petrol was produced, and the process repeated. Twice. No fireworks.

Gradually, attention to the non-doing firework waned. It was raining, and the party returned to the conservatory where moules were consumed, muscadet imbibed and the issues of the day chewed over.

As the evening wore on, and more muscadet was drunk, the idea of a "Who's Got The Best Bum?" competition was floated. The male guests lined up for the female guests to judge. In an ill-thought-out attempt to bribe the panel, one of the hosts suddenly whipped down his trousers. As he did so, there was a series of huge explosions and the conservatory was illumined with a hundred fireworks igniting at once. Fully two hours after the petrol had been poured on the gigantic firework, it went off.

I like to think that there is a lesson to be learned here. Mostly about the danger of abusing fireworks, but also about the proper conduct of "Best Bum" competitions. Despite the flamboyance of our host's bid, the winning bum was eventually judged to belong to M.

Thursday, October 31, 2002

Since parking the new car up there I've become preoccupied with finding out why Beacon Hill in Holloway is so called. It's not really much of a hill, although undoubtedly it is on a slope. I thought that rather being the haunt of prehistoric surveyors (dodmen) or beacon fire lighters (colemen), it might have something to do with the optical telegraph or semaphore telegraph, but it doesn't seem so.

Eventually my wanderings brought me to a fantastic site which shows Charles Booth's "Poverty Map" of London, with every street and house colour-coded according to the economic circumstances of the people who lived there at the end of the 19th century. It's fully searchable too - hours of fascinating browsing. Didn't help much with the history of Beacon Hill though, except I found out that in 1898 it was called Beaconhill Road. If anyone can enlighten me further, please do!

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

08:45 - new car ticketed...09:00 - new car clamped...09:10 - £75 clamping fee paid...10:45 - new car unclamped...11:05 - new car removed to lawless Beacon Hill in Holloway, the last remaining enclave of North London where one can park at will. Now to decide on most expedient course of action: a) attempt to obtain parking permit for new car, or b) move to N7. Remembering the last round of shenanigans we had with Camden Council's Parking "Solutions" department, b) would probably be quicker and easier. Still, it's always nice to know that my money's going into valuable council services. And the walk back from N7 to NW5 is always pleasant, even when it's raining.

Alfred Watkins would have had one or two things to say about the name "Beacon Hill". I bet the colemen and dodmen never had any trouble with traffic wardens.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Can you believe the British public? Sixty minutes of Rosie Boycott reminding us about poor Diana throwing up food and visiting hospitals, and they're grasping for the remote control through the piles of soggy Kleenex Balsam, tears coursing down their cheeks and Candle in the Wind on endless repeat as they click the "vote" button over and over again. Get a grip, you fools! Only last week you thought the Greatest Ever Briton was Isambard Kingdom Brunel! Let's get this straight: Diana was a dim Sloane with a nice smile. She was emphatically not the greatest Briton that ever lived. Now, John Peel, on the other hand...

Sunday, October 27, 2002

I'd forgotten to say up to now that my work have seen fit to dispatch me to San Francisco to attend a meeting and "network" with our good friends at Headquarters. I'll be there from the 14th to the 22nd November. I've never been to SF before, so am open to anyone's recommendations about things that I should do or see there. Not so keen on the general touristy stuff, but any kind of alternative-technology-culture-conventiony-type malarkey would suit me just fine. Also, as a non-smoking, non-drinking vegetarian I guess there's no better destination for me, so I'm looking forward to finding out how and where one socialises without the involvement of alcohol, which in the UK is pretty much impossible.

Saturday, October 26, 2002

H. and I cycled to Dalston for a Shithole* editorial meeting. It was a fantastic autumn day, everyone in our street was out in their front garden talking to each other, the trees were turning red and gold, the street cats were milling about, cycling along the canal there were lots of lovely North London-type couples in woollen winter coats and colourful scarves out for a walk, ducks were paddling along, there were kids out playing in the autumn leaves in London Fields. Sometimes even the heart of London can seem like the countryside.

Editorially we didn't progress very far (apart from completing a new column called Bras of the Stars!, which will be appearing on these pages just as soon as we've done the photography), as Blind Date intervened, as did Simon Schama (who I fancy, but Sara told me not to) and his History of Britain (read: History of England, plus a couple of things that happened in Wales, Scotland and Ireland that had some bearing on English history). I'm sure I was driving behind Simon Schama the other day. Simon, if you're reading this (and I like to think you are), please confirm if that was you driving around Mayfair in a red sports car. And next time, remember the Picts!

Friday, October 25, 2002

Still on the subject of environmentally-friendly "feminine hygiene products", Smat (who really needs to get her own blog) has now alerted me to the existence of something called The Keeper. So if any Friday night pub bores ask you to "name something a woman invented", you know what to say.

On an entirely different note, H. just returned home jabbering about gangs of beautiful women roaming the streets of Kentish Town. It's probably a ploy by FPD Savills to try and flog the dodgy flats they've built round the back of the old false teeth factory. "Occupying a prominent position", indeed. Only if you're into watching people smoking crack or shagging behind giant dustbins. Or if you enjoy getting mugged on a regular basis. Still, on the plus side, it's very close to Pizza Express.

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Turns out Smat is a virtual Mum after all. She gave me a list of websites where one can purchase and resell new and "pre-loved" cloth nappies. You'd be amazed. If any of you have small infants in tow, then ditch the evilly corporate and environmentally-hazardous Pampers and give one of these a try:

The Nappy Lady

Twinkle On The Web

Plush Pants

The Soft Option

Oh and ladies, apparently there's a growing trend towards washable, knitted "feminine hygiene products" too. I think that may be a cultural evolution too far....

Sunday, October 20, 2002

Am being assailed with blinding headaches, due no doubt to having spent 18 hours solid on Friday sat on uncomfortable dining chair staring at laptop and monitor screens. Snow Crash nothing, this is the real downside of attempting to live a virtual life. Only available course of action: three Nurofen and I'm off to the Surrey countryside to see my friend Smat, whose life (including as it does a husband, three lovely daughters, Brownie pack management and a garden) is anything but virtual.

Friday, October 18, 2002

Tom Coates gave me a handy opportunity to find out if I still understand Italian. So here's the article from Il Sole 24 Ore in English - it's pretty cool too. A pox on the media industry! And apologies to any passing Italians for the liberties I've taken with the original text:

A Blog Infection

A look at the the viral spread of personal publishing sites
By Giuseppe Caravita

“Blogorrheic” is the term, now well known, coined by the man who is generally held to be the Italian blog pioneer : Antonio Cavedoni, a web designer from Modena, is the author of one of the first of these personal sites to appear, in the summer of 2000. Blogorrheic is not a pejorative term ; it means love for the things that one has to say. The joy of writing and of updating one’s site every day.

It’s from this that you get what is perhaps the most extraordinary characteristic of this phenomenon – its viral nature. It’s different from the classic online communities, which accumulate around specific subjects on a centralised site managed by a moderator. Blogs behave like neurons exchanging signals along a chain. Or like cellular organisms, capable of self-replication. «Let’s take the example of someone who starts a blog, talking about their own life and interests,» explains Weblog expert Tom Coates. “Gradually they start to link to other people who share their interests, and if they produce content that is particularly interesting, they will be linked to in turn. In this way, via constant interlinking, communities of interest form, which continually enrich each other. The blogger naturally tends to attract his friends and relations to his site, generating further “proliferations”. And you often get geographical groups forming, in which you don’t just get online friendships but also personal, real-life relationships.”

Virtuous Circle: It’s a sort of virtuous circle with three separate development trajectories – the community of interest, the real-world family and friends, and local groups of bloggers. The whole system is further consolidated by the activities of aggregator sites (like Bloggando or Blog.it) and above all, by search engines. In particular Google, which compiles its rankings on the basis of the number of times a site is linked to. This tends to increase the visibility of the most popular blogs and further extends their readership. The bloggers, of course, produce all kinds of stuff – journals, music, digital art, books, advice, opinions, hobbies, associations and a huge amount of spontaneous journalism.

Some examples: For example, a site like Kuro5hin, created by a young American physicist, Rusty Foster, organises spontaneous discussion groups around interesting subjects (mostly current affairs) and boasts around 100,000 regular readers, with 6.5 million page impressions per month. Another of the best known blogs, Dave Winer’s Scripting News (Dave is the administrator of Userland Software, a company that produces one of the best blog authoring tools) has a “circulation” of around 10,000 readers, and is considered one of the best technical sources in the US, particularly as regards Open Source software. In total, according to the Online Journalism Review, the half a million active blogs have a combined audience of 150 million American readers and almost half a billion worldwide. These are big numbers. To the extent that venerable titles like the New York Times have started to create partnerships (with Userland, for example) to deliver news channels aimed specifically at bloggers. And online publications like Salon are experimenting with inviting external communities to contribute to sites run by its own reporters, communities who often add to Salon’s articles or rip them to pieces.

The journalistic front: Fear of a progressive undermining of the big publishing houses (primarily online publishers like AOL Time Warner) by the new and unstoppable network of blogs, have recentlly multiplied in the USA. A key case was the 11th September. While the TV networks, during the attack, only showed the images of the towers in flames, the New York blogs reported live (albeit in an often imprecise manner) what was really happening in Manhattan. And this was without the news feeds that are received centrally by the mass media. A lesson which today is driving much of the American media to develop new websites where thet can conduct a dialogue with readers. Amd to provide tailored information services for the blogging community. Given that, as Myrray Fromsen, professor of journalism at the University of South California, observes: «every online community, of whatever size, still needs a traditional news feed to get its information». Except that in the Userland environment there are tens of channels which users can “subscribe” to get the primary material from which they can produce their comments and discussions. The result: it’s certain that blogs, starting from the US, will change the structure of the information industry. But the signs of a possible innovative synergy seem to be already visible.

Guess what - today I received a lovely letter from the Rt Hon Frank Dobson, MP for Holborn and St Pancras, in response to my fax about how we should not attack Iraq. Here's the text in full - I am not sure whether Franko is giving me the party line or his own opinion (if there's a difference), so maybe any political pundits out there can read between the lines and tell me what's really going on in his mind:

Thank you for your recent letter about the possibility of war against Iraq. I share your concerns. I do not support unilateral military action by the United States and Britain. Measures to secure Iraq's compliance with United Nations resolutions can only be taken with the explicit authority of the Security Council.

Before launching any military action, even with the authority of the UN, it would be necessary to consider the long-term impact on Iraq, the Middle East and the world in general. Questions which would need to be answered, and answered satisfactorily, include:

- could the disarming of Iraq be secured by other means?
- could military action achieve this aim without a large loss of life by the invading forces and enormous Iraqi civilian casualties?
- what would happen to Iraq afterwards?
- what form of government would be acceptable both to the divided inhabitants of Iraq and the United Nations?
- what would be the impact on the Middle East?
- what would happen to oil supplies during and after such a conflict?
- what impact would a conflict have on the fragile world economy?

That said, it is undeniable that the current Iraqi regime is vile, has invaded two of its neighbours, and used chemical weapons against both its people and Iran. The people of Iraq and neighbouring countries would be better off if Saddam Hussein and his Government were ousted.

Many aspects of the problems posed by Iraq and the general instability and lack of democracy in the Middle East are inextricably linked with the conduct of Israel towards its neighbours and in particular the treatment of the Palestinians. Some people argue that action to disarm Iraq will not be acceptable to other Arabs until action is taken to re-establish the Israeli/Palestininan peace process and bring it to a successful conclusion. Conversely it could be argued that the issue of Iraq distracts attention from the Israel/Palestine problem, and provides an excuse for the United States not to get on with putting its weight behind the peace process. One thing is sure, there will be no lasting peace and stability in the Middle East until both Israel and Palestine are sovereign states with secure, internationally accepted boundaries inside which their people can live in peace with one another and their neighbours.

Thank you for writing,

Yours sincerely,

Frank Dobson [signature]

He's succeeded in making me think that maybe we won't attack Iraq after all, but correct me if I'm wrong - I'm a naive Libran and am usually prepared to believe anything I'm told if it sounds sincere enough. Anyway, I'm remarkably impressed that he wrote back - he's certainly gone up in my estimation.

Thursday, October 17, 2002

I just wrote today's witty and polished blog entry three times and every time I pressed "post" it disappeared. I want to cry. What's happened to Blogger while I've been away?

Saturday, October 05, 2002

Ooooh, this new blue colour (shamelessly stolen from Yeah - On Bizzarro World) is so much better. Anyway, today I happened to step outside to take my dry cleaning to the dry cleaners, and Kentish Town looked like a completely different planet. It struck me that I've been inside for months, working, studying, travelling and sleeping. "Outside" has actually become an alien world. Is this the future? I can't remember the last time I saw any of my friends - my best friend e-mailed me today to say she hadn't seen me since before she was pregnant with her new baby, who's now...well, she's on solids anyway, if that means anything to you. But it seems to me like I saw her just the other day. So that's like, a year, passed by without me noticing.

And what's more that old feeling is creeping up on me again, that feeling that I'm actually in a coma in hospital, or in an asylum, or dead, and I'm just imagining my life. Hmph. I should never have read Marianne Dreams as a child, or The Bridge as an adult, or seen Naked Lunch or The Others. I'm also reliably informed that this is also a plotline in Buffy, although I've never seen it.

Oh, and thanks to Andrew for fixing the broken bit of HTML. Next thing is, how do I put pictures on here? Maybe I just lie back in my hospital bed, stare at the ceiling, and imagine them into being?

Friday, October 04, 2002

If someone could tell me why there's a random piece of HTML appearing in that box over there, I'd be most grateful.
Status update 1: Even though I accidentally left the Snopake ReOrganiser at home, the project was an overwhelming success. This is despite the fact that on my way to the airport I caught sight of a solitary magpie by the side of the motorway. Which got me really hung up on the magpie thing again. Like....when does the magpie's effect wear off? If you see one, does it portend sorrow for the next 24 hours, the next week, the next month, or until you see two mapgpies? Someone please help - amateur magpie augury is taking over my life. I feel like that guy in my fourth-form latin book - haruspex. Apparently the haruspex used to run around at posh dinner parties with a long sticky (and no doubt brown) stick, catching birds on it and reading their entrails to tell the future. Or am I confusing two different things?

Status update 2: I now have exactly 72 hours in which to revise the whole of my MA course for the exam on Monday.

Status update 3: I have not washed my hair for days, have got no make-up on, have had about 6 hours sleep all week, and am wearing scruffy old clothes. Despite this, H. this evening spontaneously told me I looked sexy. He never says that when I am dressed up and stuff. I guess that's what you get for going out with a Unix developer.

Status update 4: It's my birthday on Monday. I will be 32. Please leave me messages of condolence and encouragement.

Question of the day: Where has UK Play gone?

Sunday, September 29, 2002

The anti-war march was a real eye-opener. The media may be unable to put a figure on the number of people marching, but I can tell you first-hand - it was huge. I've been on a few demos in my time (and before you ask, yes, I firmly and rationally believed in what I was marching for and no, I did not wear a mask, cause any damage, throw anything at anyone, get drunk or shout abuse at the police - I'm a nice middle-class girl who always puts her litter in the bin), and none was as big as this, not Mayday, not Reclaim the Streets, not the Criminal Justice Bill protests, nothing.

Demos are always uplifting - being part of a huge crowd of people that are committed to making a stand for what they believe in is exhilarating - but this was special because of the number and variety of people that were there. Lots of Muslims (the majority of whom, may I say, were women - so let's just stop and think before we use Iraq's appalling treatment of women as an excuse to bomb them) but also lots of Christians, atheists, agnostics, Buddhists etc., all united in the belief that terrorism is bad, but war is worse.

I'm no expert on the Middle East situation but I am deeply ashamed that the Prime Minister of my country - whom I generally held to be an intelligent, morally-upright individual - is prepared simply to throw away our entire moral code in one fell swoop by following that dangerous idiot G.W Bush into an unjustified war. So as well as making my point by joining the march, I also used the excellent service provided by Faxyourmp.com to make a direct appeal to Frank "Dobbo" Dobson to stop Tony committing an act of moral bankruptcy. Here's the text:

To: Rt Hon Frank Dobson
MP for Holborn and St. Pancras
House Of Commons

Sunday 29 September 2002

Dear Rt Hon Frank Dobson,

I am writing to tell you that I took part in the very large demonstration in London yesterday to protest against the mooted pre-emptive strike on Iraq, and to appeal to you directly to help the UK avoid any such course of action.

The notion of a pre-emptive strike, whatever the perceived justification, is morally wrong. We cannot launch an attack on a country in which innocent civilians will certainly be killed, merely on the suspicion that one day, that nation may do the same to us.

As we in the West generally position ourselves as the moral guardians of the world, to do so would send a signal that it is morally OK, in our book, for any nation to attack another nation whom it suspects of harbouring a grudge against it.

This precedent could lead to utter moral bankruptcy the world over. I am both frightened and deeply ashamed that the Prime Minister of my country - whom I have supported vigorously in the past - is so willing to throw away the moral code that the vast majority of people in this country live by.

Frank, as our local representative in government, please help our great country avoid this shameful act of aggression.

Who knows whether Frank will listen to my plea, but if you're reading this and you feel strongly too, fax your MP now! We live in a supposed democracy, so exercise your democratic rights while you still can!

Saturday, September 28, 2002

I can't even begin to tell you how much has changed around here since blogging became a valid form of expression. There I was, sniping at the system with my controversial musings on the usefulness of examining the original locations of the Pictish symbol stones, and snapping at the heels of the old guard with my pointed asides about stationery - and now suddenly here I am, fully approved of and appropriated by The Man. It's all happened too soon! Where was the tabloid hysteria about the creeping menace of depraved individuals secretly typing their innermost thoughts into the internet where decent people might see them? Why were there no grainy close-ups of "ringleader" Tom Coates in the Daily Mail, wearing a hooded fleece and tapping diabolically at his keyboard? Where were the hastily rushed-through amendments to the Criminal Justice Act, the granting of emergency police powers to search the homes of suspected "bloggers" without warrant? Why was Sasha's bus stop not burned to the ground by angry lynch mobs? Revolution's just not what it used to be. Right - I'm off to the Stop the War march.

Sunday, September 22, 2002

Les sanglots longs
des violons
de l'automne
blessent mon coeur
d'une langueur

Such may have been Paul Verlaine's opinion of this time of year, but it isn't mine. There is nothing in the whole world better than the autumn. The sun just warm enough to bring out the smell of turning leaves, the sky by turns bright blue and ominous black, the plastic bags caught in the wind, the first days of wearing jumpers, boots and 40-denier tights, and best of all, new stationery. Yes, even though I graduated nine years ago I continue to live by the rhythm of the academic year, which is why today I found myself happily bumbling around Camden Town Rymans, buying folders that I'll use diligently for a week before reverting to scrawling on the back of bits of paper that I will then immediately lose. All hail to the Snopake ReOrganiser, a folder that evokes comfortable yet exciting images of well-planned projects brought to fruitful, measurable and career-enhancing conclusions. First thing tomorrow my current project is going into the "Electra Purple" ReOrganiser ("Electra Blue" has been reserved for my next MA course). Check back here on the 4th October to learn whether the magical polypropylene talisman delivered on its promise!

Saturday, September 21, 2002

Just been made aware of this. I feel like the "I didn't do it" boy. Perhaps in a bid to assert my multidimensionality - but more likely because the autumn is coming - I went out and bought a totally uncool book about ley lines. (If you want a totally cool book about ley lines, try this). Ley lines, maps, place-names, codes and ciphers - these are my cerebral equivalents of woolly jumpers and mugs of cocoa. Roll on October!
News just in: doyen of stylish London living, Duncan Bartley, explores the fashionable addresses on Camden's swinging Parkway.

Friday, September 20, 2002

Apparently, it's been all go this week. Someone accused me of being articulate. Then someone else accused me of being inarticulate. The word "elitism" got bandied about a lot, usually erroneously. I went to Brussels. Stayed in the godforsaken Airport Sheraton, unable to sleep because of the giant neon Europe symbol blazing just outside the window. They've got a sculpture of a horseman in the foyer made entirely out of rifles. Weird and horrible. Came back to learn that I am now a company director. I'm a director of Romarin Publishing (warning: noises of church bells and cigales), the most profitable publishing house in the Haut Languedoc. You go, Romarin Publishing! Now I must go as H. has come home and I have not seen him for a week.

Sunday, September 15, 2002


Just minutes after posting the "Not the Best British Blog" box, I found myself poking around in the Guardian website, ending up in the blog of an individual called Steve Bowbrick. Now Danny O'Brien says that Steve Bowbrick's alright, so I'll go easy, but his musings on the entries for the *controversial* Best British Blog competition are indicative of the incredible distance the print media has managed to travel up its own arse. "I think the competition will prove to be a real validation for the new form," he witters, as though he was some kind of St Peter at the Pearly Gates of Mass Media Heaven. Look mate, you've totally missed the point. You're not validating us, we're invalidating you!

Enough of all that - time to establish my girlie credentials. Having seen the film "A Knight's Tale", er, several times over the past few weeks (thanks Telewest Front Row!), I feel that I speak from a position of considerable authority in informing you that Edward the Black Prince - aka James Purefoy, one of those Primrose Hill-dwelling luvvies no doubt - is very easy on the eye indeed. Here he is, ladies (and gentlemen). If you haven't yet seen this film, you must. Again and again, until Telewest's customer profiling system caves in upon itself. I mean, look at that coat! Look at that unbuttoned white shirt! Mr Darcy has nothing on this. Oh, and I bought some sparkly cushions and a khaki sheepskin rug today in Camden market. It's official: I *am* female!

Saturday, September 14, 2002

Sedition in the ranks! Here's a box listing some of the people who haven't entered the Guardian's *controversial* Best British Blog competition. It's something to do with free expression and not needing to be validated by the moribund trad media. It's anarchy on the wires folks - the media industry's had its day. Are you listening, M.T. Moloney?

Cheers to Tom "Best Blogger/Best Poof 2001" Coates from Plasticbag for this.

Friday, September 13, 2002

Ahh, normal service has returned to Blogger after a week of indecipherable errors preventing me from posting. So anyway, some things happened. First of all, I finally moved to Reading. The flat is excellently low-tech. The phone line isn't working and the portable TV only receives three channels - BBC1, ITV and Channel 5. Clearly there's not much call for bourgeois intellectualism in central Berkshire.

Secondly, I had a letter from my tutor informing me that I can no longer flame him as his home PC has been stolen. Poor old tutor, trying to mark his students' essays on the impact of new communications technologies on modern society, only to have his own modest brush with modernity - an AOL account he set up in July - cruelly truncated by the selfish actions of a naughty burglar. Anyway, the essay went off to him in the end, although once again he will probably refuse to mark my febrile rantings about stand.org.uk and the RIP Act. Even Pyra got a mention in this one. Instant recipe for a fail.

Thirdly, it was the anniversary of September 11th, an occasion marked by the distribution to millions of employees of hyperbolic, mawkish and jingoistic e-mails emanating from American corporate CEOs. At our place we got off lightly, with a tastefully understated exhortation to remember our eight colleagues who died, but others displayed positively Spielbergian levels of schmaltz. Top prize goes to Anne Mulcahy, CEO of Xerox Corp., whose opening parry reads "The events of last September 11 are forever etched on our minds and seared on our hearts," and continues in this vein for fully four paragraphs, ending with a vow that Bin Laden and co will never force any Xerox office to shut down. You go, Xerox Corp! Not to be outdone, John Mack "The Knife", CEO of Credit Suisse First Boston, implored his troops never to forget the "spirit and sacrifice" of a colleague who lost his life in the attack. Sacrifice, eh? In whose name?

If you have a mawkish company 9-11 e-mail to "share", paste it into the Shout Out and we'll have a contest. No disrespect meant, just a good old British sense of stiff upper lip.

Friday, September 06, 2002

I've got to one of those work stages where even if I worked 24 hours a day for the next week, I still wouldn't get all my work done, let alone any of the other stuff. There are things piling up all around me; work things, degree things (like my last essay written during my holiday but not sent off and now 10 days late just because I can't engineer it, me, a printer, an envelope, a stamp and my tutor's address to be in the same place at the same time); things about buying the house in Scotland; insurancey things about the house in France; things about moving into the flat in Reading on Monday; friends' emails not replied to, Duncan Bartley's column not updated; things my Dad wants me to do about becoming a director of his company, and on and on and ON. That's why I'm off to the Oxford Arms now, to play Gun Crime Bingo.

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

Magpies. Wretched creatures usually hang about on their own just at the roundabout going into my office "campus". One time I saw a lone magpie actually hopping about by a squashed feathered corpse. So as you can imagine I've become a bit haunted by that "one for sorrow, two for joy" rhyme. Well, yesterday there were two magpies on the roundabout, and we did some great interviews with the FT and Business Week. Today there were two magpies again, and I went into a mad dynamic workaholic fury, sending thousands of emails and dreaming up crazy new strategies off the top of my head and firing them off to random internal mailing lists. Is it the magpies? Is it the onset of autumn? Or is it mania? I saw two gigantic crows at 10.15am too. What does it all mean?

Friday, August 23, 2002

I've been in Reading most of this week, and while my back was turned, Camden turned into Compton. Driving home the other evening I was attempting to take my usual shortcut up Jamestown Road, but found the police cordoning it off and a bunch of paparazzi taking photos. Turns out I'd just missed a drive-by shooting! According to the article there have been six murders in Camden in the last three weeks, but according to H. (who's having a feud with This is London for removing some of his more flagrant posts from their forums) this is "utter bollocks" that they've "just made up". Still there's a police sign appealing for murder witnesses outside the Arizona, which is also in Jamestown Road (and where the video for that irritating "Tequila" song was filmed, pop trivia fans) so there must have been at least one.

Friday, August 16, 2002

It's nearly the end of August, which means it's nearly the end of the summer! I hate the summer, it makes me depressed. To celebrate the impending arrival of Autumn, I have done numerous things. Firstly, I have rented a flat in Reading to live in during the week. Redeeming features: nice fireplace, close to work. Non-redeeming features: it's in Reading, noisy ex-convicts live downstairs. I move in on the 9th September. Secondly, my purchase of my Granny's house in Scotland is now proceeding apace, after a long fallow period characterised by intrafamilial spells, curses and invocations. Luckily it all started up again before we got to nam-shubs. Thirdly, I have ordered a company car - a silver Peugeot 206 convertible with black leather seats. Fourthly, I have signed up for my next Open University course, which starts in November. Get this title: Gender, Technology and Representation - Women, Machines and Cyborgs. Apparently for this course I will be required to study the films Alien, Aliens and Blade Runner. Fifthly, I have decided to spend my imminent week's holiday at my French place, assuming that it is not already occupied by mothers, neighbours, rats etc. Planning to do healthy things like cycling, swimming, canoeing etc. Will probably end up eating pizza, inhaling paint fumes, sweating, being bitten by mosquitoes etc. And sixthly, after a long period of staying in and thinking about Pictish symbol stones, I feel a new bout of gregariousness coming on. So, I'll see you in Camden's new, improved Oxford Arms later, yeah?

Thursday, August 15, 2002

Inspired by charl from EHA, I got myself a room in Habbo Hotel. Apart from the flaky software, the preponderance of teenagers and the frankly unattractive surroundings, it could be a return to the good old days of avatar-based communities! Anyway, everyone's welcome to visit me there - my room's called quinquirama. You'll have to become an avatar yourself though, first. Look forward to seeing you!

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Top Hole! London's new-found guru of underground style, Duncan Bartley, has a new column every month in Shithole* magazine.

Sunday, August 11, 2002

This short but fascinating review of Minority Report in the British Medical Journal turned up at random in the electronic news clipping service I get for my work. The whole premise of locking mentally ill people up because they *might* commit a crime is something that we have totally failed to get to grips with. On the one hand, there are people suffering from OCD who have obsessive thoughts about killing people (but who never in fact do) who are scared to go for help in case they are sectioned, and then you have people like Michael Stone, who allegedly asked to be locked up in case he killed someone but was turned away, with tragic consequences. Funnily enough, on the same day, Jonny sent us the draft of his new short novel, which is on the exact same theme of how to treat people who to the majority of us seem like they are "mad" - are they dangerous lunatics, or are they visionaries?

Monday, August 05, 2002

Had a great idea today - I'll get my mate Steve, who works at the Ordnance Survey, to make me one of those customised maps he sells. Actually, a whole series of Landranger maps of Pictish Scotland, with all of the houses and roads removed, and leaving only the Gothic writing for ancient sites, and the placenames. That way it'll be easy to see what Scotland looked like in the Dark Ages, and see how the stone sites correlate with the Pit- placenames and also the Iron Age dwellings that the Picts were supposed to have taken over. Cos it struck me from looking at the maps of some of places where the stones were found, that they were near to (but not in the immediate vicinity of) Pit-places and ancient settlements. Also, they were all quite low down, and close to the water. Here is a good example. And here is another one. The arrow indicates the place where the stones were found, although that does not mean it was where they were originally placed.

Sunday, August 04, 2002

Oops, I deleted yesterday's post by mistake. No great loss though as it was only some nerdy ramblings about Archaeoptics.

Today I shelved the whole Pictish thing and started back on the Popular Culture MA. The trouble with this year's course - Transformations in Media Culture - is that the whole thing was written back in 1998 by a crew of whingeing Luddites who still refuse to countenance the very existence of the internet, and instead harp on about the "imminent arrival" of digital TV as though we were collectively expecting the coming of the Antichrist. And while I have several axes to grind with Telewest (in particular their random numbering of channels and the broken Excel spreadsheet they deign to call a "TV Guide"), I wouldn't go so far as to consider them the earthly incarnation of Satan. Why, if it wasn't for digital TV I wouldn't have seen the Michael Ventris programme and I wouldn't have started back on the Pictish project - so dumb that down, you tweed-jacketed machine-fearing cretins.

Friday, August 02, 2002

Today was a milestone in internet history - the day that pictures of cats outnumbered pictures of people for the first time. In fact, at any time, you are never more than seven links away from a picture of a cat.

Thursday, August 01, 2002

Pictish Things

Yay, tomorrow I will receive my copy of ECMS! Then I'm planning to maybe take a trip to Scotland in August to have a look at some of the stones close up, oh, and also to buy my grandmother's house, which my uncle is selling to me. If you stand on tiptoe in the garden you can see the Moray Firth and the Black Isle beyond it. Very beautiful. Unfortunately it is taking me so long to getting around to buying it that my Granny has put the Evil Eye on me, and has all but banished me from the family. Maybe I can distract her by giving her the portion of my project related to deciphering Pictish Ogam script.

Wednesday, July 31, 2002


Downloaded Mozilla so I can blog from my work laptop. I only had Netscape before, as by decree we're not supposed to use software from the Dark Side. However, the whole thing took about an hour so now I'm going to bed. H., on the other hand, is crafting a complex image of the Temple of Diana at Halicarcrashes, for b3ta.com. You can talk to him instead. You'll probably find him on EHA.

Tuesday, July 30, 2002


Today I fulfilled a long-held plan and ordered a copy of The Early Christian Monuments of Scotland, which charts the location and design of every single Pictish symbol stone. With the help of this book, I will crack the code. Oh yes.

Monday, July 29, 2002

Random Celebrity Crime Incident

Ah, the Camden New Journal. They use Telewest, you know. That's probably why their links are all 404s and have comically unrelated filenames.

Anyway it's probably a good thing - reading about all that local violence could make you paranoid. Not that long ago I saw a guy kick another guy to death in Kentish Town Road, on an otherwise normal Saturday afternoon. In an unrelated incident, H. was asked by the police to stay away from a gun-wielding Adam Ant for his own safety.

But despite the murders and stabbings and muggings and the drunks being sick on the steps of the Kentish Town Baths, posh estate agents FPD Savills are seeing fit to ask £295,000 for a one-bedroom flat on Prince of Wales Road. This is the sort of thing that makes me think the property boom might come to an end quite soon.

Sunday, July 28, 2002

The Kentish Town Fertility Escalator

Now-recovered cousin disclosed that she had been chatted up two days in a row at exactly the same spot - one third of the way up the up escalator in Kentish Town tube station. I think the Camden New Journal ought to be alerted to the presence of a Fertility Escalator in our midst.

Saturday, July 27, 2002


Oh no, I've just given my identity away on EHA! Today was scorching hot, so Andrew and I spent the afternoon in a darkened room preparing the first edition of SHIThole* magazine. My cousin has fallen ill, overwhelmed by the sight of smog-poisoned trees and the stench of human urine rising from the pavements. Truly earth hath nothing to show more fair than the alleyway round the back of Camden Town Dixons.

Friday, July 26, 2002


The heatwave has arrived in North London! Despite this, I am hunched over my two keyboards in a darkened room fiddling about with the work intranet. Yesterday my cousin arrived from Shanghai. Her first words were: "how nice to get back to London and see trees again!" Boy, things must be really bad in Shanghai. Watched a thing on the History Channel about the ancient Egyptians. No mention of whether Akhenaten was an alien, a loony or simply suffering from Marfan's Syndrome. In fact, there was no mention of Akhenaten at all. Spooky. Double-checked with the Mammoth Encyclopedia Of Unsolved Mysteries (lent to me by my brother), but he wasn't there either. Sinister.

Thursday, July 25, 2002


I can't quite believe this, but I just went to Brussels for lunch, and now I'm back at my desk in Kentish Town. I feel like Phil Collins at Live Aid.

Wednesday, July 24, 2002


Got my essay "What are the key recent trends in the transformation of the global media market?" back today from my tutor. He gave me 68% but refused to mark the paragraphs about the DMCA, Napster, Dmitry Sklyarov et al. Clearly, by "recent trends", what he actually meant was "trends from the 1980s". Still, this is an improvement on my last essay, which he refused to mark altogether. Apparently he has got e-mail at home now (welcome to the 1990s mate), so I can step up my flame war with him.

Anyway, Lordy, this is a blog and therefore one is supposed to link to things. Unfortunately I have spent the day swotting up on the forthcoming International Accounting Standards for work, and you sure as mustard don't want me to link to any of that. Instead, here's my Dad's site, which is all about his book about living in the Languedoc. You can buy a copy from him. Or pick it up in Nimes airport. And other good bookshops located in rural airports in the Languedoc.

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

How It All Began

Deep breath...hope this works!

This blog will be more or less dedicated to an exploration of the effects of Telewest on modern society, as represented by H. and me. Currently, H. and I are in the study. H. is posting rabid libertarian agit-prop on the This is London chat forum from the PC, I am blogging this blog from my laptop, the Delgados are playing on the PC. In the living room, the TV is playing the Simpsons to itself with the sound turned off.

In other Telewest-related news, last night's BBC4 documentary about tragic Linear B-deciphering genius Michael Ventris inspired me for about 30 seconds to resume my attempt to decipher the Pictish symbols and revive the lost Pictish language. Went to bed with W.A. Cummins' The Picts and Their Symbols but fell asleep straightaway. H. says that I'm just not obsessive enough.

Phew. I hope all those links worked out. I'm a bit new to all this.