Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Brum Brum...Brrrrrrrrum

I'm off to Birmingham. It's all glamour, glamour, glamour with me.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Gilliam, It Was Really Nothing

Today I have mostly been writing about open standards-based application development and deployment environments, and I'm pretty sure you won't be wanting to hear about that.

nibus, on the other hand, has been hard at work making top comedy animations like this one:

And others, which you can view at your leisure here.

Right, that's it. I'm off to the River Café. I bid you good evening.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Class Struggle

I was minding my own business in Abingdon Street, waiting for the anti-war march to start, leaning on my "Bush: World's #1 Terrorist" placard, smoking a cigarette in the autumn sunshine and trying not to look too much like a fully paid-up member of the bourgeoisie, when I was accosted by a very handsome and earnest Trotskyist.

I switched immediately into slightly flirtatious mode, as is my prerogative now that I am unattached and Mistress of my Own Destiny. But Handsome Trotskyist was having none of it. "How much do you know about Marxism?" he asked me sternly, having established that I had come here from Shepherd's Bush and that I had participated in previous anti-war demonstrations.

Resisting the urge to tell him that I think Karl Marx was a feckless waster who allowed his wife and kids to starve around him in their garret rather than lower himself into the structure* and get a job, with the result that he was so crazed with hunger and cold and the plaintive whines of his wife and kids that not a word of his writings is intelligible to anyone, thus rendering them completely open to interpretation by a multitude of left-wing factions who can't agree on anything between them, let alone actually get it together to start a revolution, I replied "errr, a bit."

Seemingly encouraged by this, he went on to ask if I didn't think the world would be a better place if capitalism were completely abolished and replaced with some kind of Utopian society where everyone had a job and no one wanted for anything at all. "Not really, I'm afraid," say I. "I don't mind capitalism. (Note to self: Things Not To Say When Wielding A Socialist Worker Banner.) I think you can have responsible capitalism and still make the world a better place. But then I'm a company director, so I would say that."

"Oh, what company?" says he. "Oh, a very small PR agency in Chiswick," say I. He gives me a sort of pitying look. "Well, that's OK," he says. "It's hardly Halliburton, is it? Would you like to buy a copy of Class Struggle?"

So I did. And I read it all, this morning, in the bath. And bugger me if I hadn't completely forgotten what a revolting, profit-driven, patriarchal, violent, self-interested world we live in. I resolved to do something about this immediately. Sadly I got sidetracked and somehow ended up in Habitat buying pictures of orchids. But tomorrow...

* It's actually the base, isn't it? That's been bugging me for some while.

Friday, September 23, 2005

PS Don't Do It, Kids

Still, it's always nice to have friends to fall back on...

(Artistic licence courtesy of LC)

This evening's question is: do I have time to go to the Oxo Tower tomorrow, avail myself of two very fetching Mibo lampshades, and still make it to Parliament Square in time for the kick-off of the British Troops Out Of Iraq march? And more to the point, will the lampshades be a help or a hindrance to the entire proceedings? Am I going to find myself shouting "What do we want? More lampshades like this! I mean, an end to our totally unjustified military occupation of a foreign country!"

This has been me, Patroclus, bringing you the latest news from the frontline of grassroots political activism. And interior décor.

Mind you, I once turned up to an anti-Criminal Justice Bill rally wearing a suit. There was a certain irony to the fact that the crusty leading the goats up the steps of the QEII Conference Centre looked at *me* funny.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Is It Just Me...

...or does anyone else find the "Get Your Own Blog" button at the top of the screen slightly threatening?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Little Needles Of Sodium Unstitch The Seams Of The Sky

It's come to my attention that I'm starting a year-long Intermediate Spanish course next week in Ealing, on the same night as I'd been planning to go and see Okkervil River play in Islington.

Tsk, what to do, eh? I shouldn't miss the first lesson, because then all the tall, beautiful people will have made friends with each other and I'll be the awkward, almost-weird-but-not-quite girl who sits on her own for the rest of the year (a situation with which I am not entirely unfamiliar*). And as my social skills upon meeting new people are usually limited to scowling, looking at the floor and hiding behind my hair, I'm going to need all the early-mover advantage I can get.

Plus, I signed up for the "intermediate" course in a fit of intellectual vanity (not my first, it has to be said). My Spanish isn't actually all that great. In fact I don't think the fact that I once asked for directions to Gerona airport, or got chatted up by a taxi driver in Puerto la Cruz brings me anywhere near the "rusty O-level" standard that Thames Valley University are looking for. So I shouldn't really be bunking off the first week. But tengo tos, as they say. We'll see.

But on the other hand, Okkervil River. I really like this band, especially as they have a song called The Velocity Of Saul At The Time Of His Conversion (download mp3), which is a marvellous title, and which also includes the line that's the title of this post. I've always loved this lyric, but it only occurred to me today that it's a poetic way of describing the way things go all fuzzy when you have tears in your eyes, which is lovely. (At least I think that's what it means. I could be wrong.)

In other news, The Difference Engine turns out to have a brilliant premise tempered with some truly atrocious dialogue, but I'm reserving judgment till I get a bit further than, er, page 5.

* But then I didn't actually *want* to sit with Tara Palmer-Thingy's sister, or any of her braying Sloaney chums. They would only have cramped my slightly-unbalanced-grungey-indie-kid "style"**. Yeah.

** This was a long time ago.

Monday, September 19, 2005

On Dit Que Ce Qui Compte C'est Le Décor

Things that made me happy today (because it's the shallow things that count):

1. I fixed the problem with the central heating all by myself

2. The resulting warmth and cosiness in my flat

3. The fairy lights I've strewn everywhere

4. The prospect that I may soon own this lampshade

5. Driving a Transit van recklessly round the back streets of Chiswick

6. My shapely new eyebrows. Threading is clearly where it's, er, at

7. Coffee and cigarettes

8. The arrival of autumn


Saturday, September 17, 2005

New World Order

Say what you like about the dotcom boom (and it paid for my house in France, so I'm inclined to look upon it favourably), but without it the following conversation would never have occurred in our office:

H: Oh God, we need an iPod Nano for our client's prize draw on Tuesday.

S: Amazon haven't got any.

Me: Dabs have got some, they emailed me to tell me.

S: It says on their website they've got 59 in stock. I don't believe that. I mean if they emailed you, how many other people must they have emailed?

Me: I didn't buy one!

H: There's no way we'll get one in time for Tuesday.

Me: Why don't we just go to the Apple Store?

H: What, the actual shop?

Me: Mm.

H (phoning M): Can you go into the Apple Store and get an iPod Nano?

M: Sure thing.

H (minutes later): M says he's bought two!

All: Wow, that's amazing.

Oh, how quickly we forget the old ways.

Friday, September 16, 2005


I always thought that listing the contents of my handbag was the lowest I could sink, in blogging terms (and yet I've managed to get away with it not once, but twice!). But earlier I had an idea for a post so awful that it makes the handbag inventories* look like the Lost Works of Aristophanes.

I debated the merits of posting or not posting, and finally justified it on the grounds that it's a bit like the artworks of Cornelia Parker, in that it's presenting fragments of ordinary things in an oblique way, so as to raise big philosophical questions about Life, Existence and The Nature of Things (yeah, look, that's my justification and I'm sticking to it).

So without further ado, I present for your edification a Topographical Gazetteer And Guide To The Scars Upon My Person:

1. Location: Top of left foot. Nature: Four small circular scars in cluster formation. Date sustained: Summer 1976. Method: Crushing of foot by falling paving slab, recklessly pushed over by younger sibling.

2. Location: Top of left foot. Nature: Large, chevron-shaped scar. Date sustained: Summer 2005. Method: Persistent and ill-advised wearing of dangerously uncomfortable flip-flops.

3. Location: Inner left ankle. Nature: Smallish round scar. Date sustained: Summer 2000. Method: Burning occasioned by garden flare knocked over by intoxicated hippy in Green Field at Glastonbury festival.

4. Location: Right knee. Nature: Classic cartoon-style cross-hatch scar. Date sustained: Summer 2004. Method: Stupidly falling over in Spencer Road, London W3, for no reason other than general lack of motor co-ordination.

5. Location: Immediately above navel. Nature: small round scar, indented. Date sustained: Summer 1997. Method: belly-button piercing (now abandoned) inspired by liberating break-up with psychopathic boyfriend.

6. Location: Left forearm. Nature: Two rather large, white linear scars. Date sustained: Summer 1993. Method: Self-mutilation with kitchen knife during period of post-degree exam stress disorder and reckless drunkenness.

7. Location: Left forearm. Nature: tiny round scar. Date sustained: Sometime during 1996 or 1997. Method: Deliberate burning by cigarette at the hands of aforementioned psychopathic boyfriend.

8. Location: Upper lip. Nature: small linear scar. Date sustained: 1978 or 1979. Method: Falling awkwardly from bicycle.

I'm not sure what any of this tells me about Life, Existence and The Nature of Things, other than that it makes me sound like a dangerous nutcase. Which possibly wasn't my intention. Oh well.

* The Handbag Inventories: Sofia Coppola's next quirky indie hit film.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Tron Escapes Via USB Port

Ahhh, the Random Times. I may be slightly biased, but it *is* one of the funniest silly things ever. No, go on, look at it. Before Charlie Brooker steals it to make into a TV series. Go on.


In preparation for my forthcoming Long Weekend Away (destination currently undecided, but San Francisco has been ruled out), I've been investing in some Mighty Works Of Tech Fiction. Although it's not yet apparent whether I'll be using these to sate my intellectual appetite or to build an emergency Ray Mears-style papier-mâché shelter should the weather prove inclement.

Neal Stephenson is an excellent choice for the latter scenario, given that he's unable to write* a novel of fewer than 900 pages. And I came at the Baroque Cycle trilogy all wrong the first time around, electing to read half of the second book before starting the first, and then reading half of the first book before leaving it in the gerbil-ravaged hands of an ex-veterinary surgeon in Venezuela.

So I've ordered myself a fresh copy of Quicksilver, which I'm to read all the way through before I start on the aptly named The Confusion again, which I’m to finish before The System Of The World comes out in paperback on 6th October.

And as if that’s not enough to be getting along with, I’ve also ordered a copy of The Difference Engine, which I’m really looking forward to reading as apparently it’s all about what Victorian Britain might have been like if there’d been computers an’ ‘at.

And when not reading them I plan to gaze in a slightly melancholic yet quietly resigned fashion at the sea. Yes.

* I mean literally write. By hand. All of it. As this picture demonstrates (thanks to James for that).

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Spent All My Time In The Vanity Factory...

Good news for anyone having trouble with Technorati's flaky search results...Google's new Blogsearch service is now in beta. Go forth and navel-gaze.

Monday, September 12, 2005

I Am Not A Number

But it turns out I soon will be...just another statistic.



News just in from the World Of Tech: eBay has just agreed to buy Skype in a $2.6bn deal. Ladies and gentlemen, eBay and Google are your new telephone communications providers. Counting the days until estate agents start calling the ubiquitous BT telephone socket a "period feature".

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Summertime Cowboys

I've rarely experienced such a sense of quiet contentment as I did last night, sat alone on the top deck of a double-decker bus travelling across a darkened Isle of Wight, destination unknown*, listening to my song of the week (mp3) and wearing my cowboy hat.

But oh yes, before that happened, I went to the Bestival. Which was ace. I won't go into too much detail because I'm rubbish at describing what things were like. Let's just say there was a lot of dressing up as cowboys and Indians (hence the hat), and much laughter, scandalous gossip and general enjoyment.

I read a portentous article in the Sunday Times last week about how Rave Is Back. Cue the involuntary resurrection of confused memories of too many lost weekends from years ago. I think my reaction could best be summed up as "Nooooooooo!".

However, I can now confirm that It's All True. The sight of 25,000 thirtysomethings dressed up as glitter-bedecked cowboys, dancing to mad bleepy music (courtesy of this lot) and - horror! - waving glowsticks will not easily be forgotten. What's more, it was brilliant. Be very afraid.

So, several hours and what also seems like several hundred pounds later, I've made it back to London and am now on my way to fulfil my duties as History's Most Recalcitrant Godmother at my very clever and talented god-daughter's 12th birthday party. Might leave the glowsticks behind for this one. The next generation doesn't need that kind of embarrassment.

* It turned out to be Newport. Which was emphatically not where I wanted to go. Where I had to wait another half an hour for another bus to Cowes. Where I had to wait another 50 minutes for a ferry to Southampton. Where it turned out that I had missed the last train back to London. Whereupon I was obliged to pay £100 for six hours' sleep in the waterfront Holiday Inn. By which point the sense of quiet contentment had worn off somewhat.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Mmm, Sweet Little Kittens

So, Husky Rescue. I am in love with this band*. I want to elope with them to Helsinki and have beautiful dreamy conversations about kittens under the stars for the rest of my life.

I can't think when I last went to a more civilised, ethereal gig - Bush Hall is one of those classy venues with rococo plasterwork, crystal chandeliers and a strict no-smoking policy that was only occasionally flouted by Companion A. Last night they even had nice chairs and tables laid out, of which we took full advantage.

The band played on a tiny stage illuminated by candles, whereupon they performed every single song from their super Country Falls album, punctuated by singer Reeta's childlike observations delivered in a very sweet Finnish accent. Example: "This song is about...very dangerous stuff." (This before ambling into a fey, dreamy rendition of, erm, Alice Cooper's "Poison". Fantastic.)

Companion B, who had apparently been expecting "an angry man with a guitar", was particularly struck by Reeta's alleged resemblance to Paris Hilton. Luckily I wasn't wearing my glasses, and thus avoided having my evening spoiled by this unfortunate state of affairs. No, it was all just splendid.

*And* I'm seeing them tomorrow lunchtime on the Isle of Wight. And then I'm going to stow away in the back of their van and never come back.

* I shudder to think what dreadful Observer supplement demographic this puts me in. I fear the worst.

The Start Of Something

Husky Rescue update to follow, in the meantime, this is my Song Of The Week.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Stop This Infernal Nonsense

That is *it* - I'm not posting again until it's officially Autumn and I can wear my nice brown suede boots without fainting from heatstroke and drink Whipped Chocolate Kittens while kicking through the autumn leaves in Ravenscourt Park, doing up another button on my coat, adjusting my scarf for maximum protection against the chill and uttering a contented "brrrr".

On the other hand you *might* get an update on tonight's Husky Rescue gig, especially if anything entertaining, amusing or unexpected occurs. Which it might. You can never tell with these Finns.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Complete, Unabashed Green Wing Love-In

The editorial team (me) here at Quinquireme Towers (my flat in Shepherd's Bush) is proud, thrilled, privileged and a little bit awestruck to bring you Exclusive Photographic Coverage of the recent Green Wing Masterclass session at the Edinburgh TV Festival!

Much as I would love to claim that I operate in the sort of hallowed media circles (or possess the kind of cash) that would have granted me attendance at this prestigious event, honesty compels me to admit that at the time I was probably eating beans on toast somewhere in the slums of West London.

So I'll simply replicate the account that my good friend cello has already posted on the Channel 4 Comedy Forum, together with her Exclusive Photographic Coverage. (Stay calm now, ladies!)

cello says:
It was chaired by Peter Fincham, now Controller of BBC1, but back then the Exec Producer of GW1 (and inspiration for the in-joke "the cute Chinese nurse from Fincham Ward"??)

Victoria Pile was there, being absurdly self-deprecating, as only true geniuses can be, giving credit for everything to either the writers, actors or Caroline Leddy the C4 commissioner, who was also on the stage. Obviously, all those people were crucial but it became clear that without the strength of Victoria's vision and her ability to edit and stitch together the vast amounts of material generated by the large writing team and actors chosen for their ability to improvise it could easily have drowned in its own creativity. In all this she clearly relies on Rob Harley as her chief team mate (he was there too).

Michelle Gomez and Steve Mangan were billed to appear, but in fact Julian (Rhind-Tutt) replaced Steve at the last minute, which was both a treat and a disappointment. Everyone gave Steve credit for being the King of Improv so I'd have loved to see him talk. Julian said he had only got the part because he was the only actor auditioned who could get more then 3 words in with Steve.

They talked about the balance between 'narrative' scenes (eg Joanna telling Statham she might be pregnant) and 'sketch' scenes (eg Joanna and Sue competing on their breast adjustments in the loo). Compared to the sketch scenes of 'Smack The Pony' they said how much richer the sketches were because the protagonists already had a depth of character that coloured the scene.

Also lots of debate about script vs improv. Victoria was very firm about the fact that in the end everything is taken back to a properly written script and the only unrehearsed bits we might ever see are at the end of scenes where they leave the cameras running. Julian described the relationship between actors' improv and writers as a process of osmosis; a mutual exchange ... of fluids??

They showed the original drawings they had done for each character before it was cast, and apparently every character had a 6 page biog before the actors came along and added to it.

Michelle said everyone got on brilliantly and that they were like a big family and that it was the most enjoyable work experience she had had.

They showed a couple of clips from the next series and we all laughed and applauded like mad. I won't spoil it for you but they were great.

Had a chat afterwards with everyone, and you should know how very much they appreciate their loyal and passionate online fanbase. That's us lot. I took a couple of pics, but I didn't want to look like a total t*t by standing up, so they are mainly of backs of heads.

Look everyone, it's the delectable Julian Rhind-Tutt (JRT to his stalkers biggest fans) at extreme left, and the lovely Rob Harley to extreme right...erm...cello might have to fill in the rest of the names there.

It's the quite frankly godlike JRT again, next to the quite frankly godlike Michelle Gomez, and, er...cello?

Friday, September 02, 2005

Separated At Birth

1. My new iPod Shuffle mini-speaker system

2. The Flying Spaghetti Monster