Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Cat Scan

Today's heartwarming tale of animals and technology: I had a call from my local vet this morning to say that someone had handed in my cat, who ran away a month ago.

It's doubtful I'd ever have got him back if he hadn't been fitted with a microchip, which is registered with a central database whom you can phone to report missing animals. The vet scanned the chip, which brought up the fact that he was missing, together with my mobile number. Bingo! One very happy cat owner. Hurrah for subcutaneous tracking devices!*

One very disgruntled, manky and skinny cat, though. Bless him.

UPDATE: mine did only get as far as the next street, unlike this one (thanks LC for that).

* Sorry, identification devices (thanks Stef)

Meet your fellow bloggers! | Thursday 1 Dec | click here for info!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Those Pictish Inscriptions In Full!

LC's earlier suggestion that I rig up a super-powered Linux cluster and hire a black-market AI programmer to crack the Pictish code is a bit of a sledgehammer/nut scenario, but it did give me a fantastic idea.

The idea being that I post all known Pictish inscriptions here, and you, dear readers, notify me of any observations you may have - you know, like any patterns, repeated phrases, frequency analysis (if you feel so inclined), and the like.

Oo, it's a bit like an incredibly low-tech version of the Seti@Home project! (That's enough now - Ed.)

So here you go, in no particular order:

nehhtvrobbaccennevv maqqotalluorrh
ammaqqtallv lv bahhrrassudds
vuunon itedovob b
bqi a b
crroscc:nahhtvvddadds:dattr:ann bennises:meqqddrroann
eddarrnonn... tti... gng..
..ehteconmors ...dov ...ddrs
etteca... ..v:dattua ...rtt..
hcsd.t..v.nh.t l....vqrrhmdnhq
ineittemen mats
ttlietrenoiddors ..uhtuoaged...
duv nodnnatmaqqnahhto...
iddarqnnnvorrenn iku(a) iosie

Each line is a separate inscription, incidentally. Dots indicate where there are letters missing. All of these inscriptions have been transliterated into our alphabet from the Ogham alphabet they were originally written in. Umm, I think that's it. Do your worst!*

* I do realise that some people may not be quite as excited about this as I am. But that's OK.

Blogmeet Reminder

A quick post to remind you that all bloggers, commenters and lurkers are most welcome to join us (when I say *us*, I'm pretty sure we will be in the plural, if not double figures) this Thursday evening for the Experimental Blog Meety-Uppy Thing in London's swinging Shepherd's Bush.

Details as follows:

The Seven Stars Bar and Dining Room
243 Goldhawk Road
London W12 8ET

Here is a map.

Nearest tubes are Ravenscourt Park (District) and Goldhawk Road (Hammersmith and City) - although the latter is quite a walk.

We'll be there from 7pm onwards to commandeer the comfy sofas.

Everyone welcome, no one has to wear badges (unless you want to). I'll be the diminutive scruffy-haired blonde one. Although it might be better to look out for LC, who still looks much like this, only without the hideous neck injuries and beatific death-bed expression.

Actually I don't even know if LC is coming. LC?

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Lost Language Geekery

Oo, there's no stopping me this weekend. Anyway, just back from watching the BBC's lovely dramatisation of one of history's slowest-moving and least viscerally exciting battles, viz: the race to decipher the Egyptian hieroglyphs. It was us against the French in this one, and I'm afraid we lost. Although the BBC made up for that by giving the excitable, prone-to-fainting Jean-François Champollion a nice plummy Home Counties accent (and a lovely smile, perfect teeth and a reassuring sort of Hobbity look about him).

The boy Champollion is one of my geeky heroes, along with Michael Ventris (an uptight architect who deciphered Linear B, and thus became the first person to read the ancientest of Greek inscriptions from the era of the Trojan War) and Henry Rawlinson (who was more of a swashbuckling sort of character, and who deciphered ancient Persian cuneiform in his time off from colouring the map of the world red and subduing irate Afghan warlords with his upper class English wit and charm).

I've always (well, not *always*, but for a good while now) fancied that I'd join these three in the ranks of Top Resurrecters Of Lost Languages, when I finally get round to deciphering the inscriptions on the Pictish stones of Scotland. But Champollion, Ventris and Rawlinson had it relatively easy, because they had so much source material. There are acres of hieroglyphics in Egypt. Ventris had literally tons of bits of pot and clay tablets to play around with. Rawlinson had an entire cliff-face of cuneiform to work from. And let's not even get started on how piss-easy the discovery of the trilingual Rosetta Stone made life for old Jean-François.

By contrast, I've got about 18 short inscriptions from a bunch of stones that have just been left to weather away in the dank Scottish climate, such that most of them are missing their beginnings and ends. They're apparently written in a dead language of which only four or five words now survive - and even that's debatable. I've got a terrible feeling that I'll have to learn Welsh *and* Gaelic *and* ancient Norse before I even get anywhere, and that only in order to be able to eliminate two of them from enquiries.

So it isn't really going to happen, is it? Ah well.

Meet your fellow bloggers! | Thursday 1 Dec | click here for info!

Rockstar Party

I was terribly excited to have been invited to a proper rockstar party last night by my good friend S (not the same S who featured in the deleted bit of last weekend's post, for anyone who saw and remembers that).

But let me tell you that being crammed into a West London pub that's heaving with the great and good of the NME is not all that much fun when you:

1. Don't (really) drink

2. Don't (really) do any drugs

3. Are 5' tall and bear little resemblance to a) Kate Moss or b) KT Tunstall

4. Have a neurotic aversion to being holed up in a confined space (in this case, a cellar) with fashionable musician-types

5. Don't actually recognise anyone - who's that guy who looks like Charles II? Nope, me neither - thus being denied the pleasure of extensive name-dropping afterwards.

6. Wish to discuss your New Theory of Blogging at length.

But I did have a lovely dinner with S beforehand, and the marathon walk home was great.

Sorry, Heat mag - let you down again there.

Meet your fellow bloggers! | Thursday 1 Dec | click here for info!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Patroclus Gets All Pretentious On Your Sorry Asses, Starts Referring To Self In The Third Person

Quite a lot has been written already about the social significance of blogging; how it's a threat to the established media, how it can be used to bypass state control of the media in oppressive régimes; how it's got corporate PR and HR departments in a spin over how to deal with blogging employees whose writing they can't control (except apparently by sacking them), and so on.

The internet self-publishing revolution is definitely a revolution; everyone's voice can theoretically now be heard, and actually *will* be heard if it's good enough, interesting enough and written in a language that the intended audience can understand.

This is a big revolution, with big global significances. It's not the one that interests me. What interests me about our rapidly expanding, out-of-control blogosphere is the subtle but profound socio-psychological shift* that's being enacted through the ability to leave comments on blogs.

Conversations that previously would be spoken and/or private are now out there for everyone to see. Jokes, observations and comments that in verbal conversation would be there one second and gone the next now hang around forever. Women, in particular, are predisposed to start talking about insanely intimate things with other women almost as soon as they've met. It's basically what we do. In the old days, these conversations would take place in private, out of the way of men. Now they're up there in cyberspace for everyone to read.

Does this stop us? No, it doesn't. Should it? I don't know. But I reckon all these public private conversations are on the verge of inducing a new kind of mass paranoia. So far this week I've read comments made by an ex about our relationship; I've read more than I would ever otherwise have known about certain of my colleagues' private lives; I've emailed someone to ask them to remove comments that were left ages ago and which now embarrass me; and I've frequently wondered whether my unwillingness to get really stuck in with the no-holds-barred sex conversations that take place on other people's blogs means that I'm hopelessly uptight.

Frankly, it's doing my head in. And once there's a reliable means of searching for all the comments that someone else has left, anywhere in the blogosphere, it's all going to get much worse. The private made completely public. But on the other hand, I'm an optimist, and I do love a good techno-social paradigm shift**. And it strikes me that we're in the midst of a new shift, and no one knows what the rules are***. And that's kind of fun, albeit in a wobbly, paranoia-inducing kind of way. As you were, then.

* Yup, I know. Sorry.

** See above.

*** UPDATE: As Ben Hammersley appears to have said aeons (well, months) before I just did. But then he's Ben Hammersley, and I'm not.

Meet your fellow bloggers! | Thursday 1 Dec | click here for info!

The Libertine

Before I went to see The Libertine last night, I knew precisely three things about John Wilmot, Second Earl of Rochester:

1. He penned his poetry riddled with the pox (from this song).

2. Something about a monkey (from the cover of this book).

3. There's a little enclave of streets named after him in Kentish Town, London NW5.

Now I've seen it, I don't know much more. You have to take it for granted that this chap is a brilliant poet, because the film simply presents him as a drunken, lecherous arse. It all takes place in a sort of murky green fog. At first I assumed that this is because it was filmed on the Isle of Man, which is a deeply weird place. Then I thought that maybe that's what things were actually like before there was electricity and sanitation and the internet and stuff. Eventually I realised that the fog is intended to illustrate the boy Wilmot's pissed-up state of mind, since at one point it clears and you see him actually attempting to write something.

Some people seem to think that this is one of Johnny Depp's best performances, worthy of an Oscar etc. etc. To which I say pish and tush. Just because he's got a wig on and is talking in sub-Shakespearean cadences, doesn't mean it's great acting. I swear his expression doesn't change once from start to finish, except to do that slightly comedy sideways-flicky look he always does, coupled with a bit of sneering (which I reckon he lifted from Richard E Grant in Withnail & I anyway). And the whole of the second part, when he's all hideous and syphilitic and wigless, seems to have been lifted wholesale from The Madness of King George.

Nope. I've seen Johnny doing Great Acting (mainly in Ed Wood and Sleepy Hollow) and I've seen him sleepwalk through some execrable films (mainly Secret Window and - dear lord - The Ninth Gate) and this pretty much falls somewhere in between. Sorry JD.

He does look nice when he's looking quizzically at a pineapple, though. Still looking for a picture of that.

Meet your fellow bloggers! | Thursday 1 Dec | click here for info!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Oh, Mr Rochester

Off to the cinema tonight to see this.

Expect potentially less-than-impartial review later.

Meet your fellow bloggers! | Thursday 1 Dec | click here for info!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Patroclus Considers Reading Something Improving, Thinks Better Of It

Back in the early nineties, when days had no beginning and days had no end, moreover when shadows grew no longer etc. etc....oh no, wait, I've already done that one. Anyway, back in those days, I had ample time on my hands to read all kinds of improving works of fiction. Somehow I even managed to read Lawrence Durrell's entire Avignon Quintet, which at 1,300-plus pages of exquisitely beautiful mindscapes, is quite some commitment I can tell you.

Nowadays, what with the internet and work and all that, I'm lucky if I can get through a copy of Glamour magazine. But with the nights drawing in, the frost dusting the fallen leaves, the goose getting fat, popular fancy turning lightly to thoughts of tangerines etc. etc., I reckon it's about time to read something a bit more challenging than Decline and Fall (even though it *is*, as PP rightly points out, the finest comic novel in English).

I was half inspired by Wyndham, who seems to have found an admirable balance between work, cultural things and parenthood, and to whom I appear rashly to have promised that I will read the whole of Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time, and half inspired by the results of the Guardian's quest to find the Top 20 Geek Novels of All Time* (of which I've actually only read five, but I usually pretend I've read Neuromancer, so I'll say six. And I've seen Blade Runner (original and director's cut), which practically means I've read Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, so that's seven. I could go on.).

But enough of this nonsense. It's coming up to Christmas, which means the only viable option is Susan Cooper's exemplary kids' fantasy novel The Dark Is Rising. This is yer pre-Christmas read par excellence, full of pagan ritual, Arthurian legend, mince pies, Herne the Hunter, the forces of ancient good vs the forces of ancient evil, and so on. What more could you possibly wish for?

* Or, rather bizarrely, "since 1932".

Meet your fellow bloggers! | Thursday 1 Dec | click here for info!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Oh dear, two music posts in a row, sorry.

Nipped up to the Shepherd's Bush Empire last night to see Jeff Tweedy of arty alt-country band Wilco fame play an acoustic solo gig.

All a bit odd, since I was introduced to Wilco by One Who Shall Not Be Named, with the result that their superb Yankee Hotel Foxtrot album more or less became the soundtrack to my marriage break-up. So, not much I really want to dwell on there, except to note in passing that the boy Tweedy is almost as good a stand-up comedian as he is a singer-songwriter, and that the stunning I Am Trying To Break Your Heart sounds all the better for being stripped of all the noise and distortion that surrounds it on the album.

Oh, and someone collapsed halfway through, which I thought was a pretty rock 'n' roll thing to do at a quiet acoustic gig.

Meet your fellow bloggers! | Thursday 1 Dec | click here for info!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Back in the late eighties, when days had no beginning and days had no end, also when shadows grew no longer etc. etc., you'd mainly have found me listening to gothic stuff like the Sisters of Mercy and New Model Army, interspersed with early 80s new-wave post-punk things like Elvis Costello and XTC. But when all the darkness, misery, blood-encrusted snow, sexual jealousy etc. got too depressing, that era also did a nice line in pastoral folk-pop, purveyed by the likes of Frazier Chorus and the Lilac Time.

These were unashamedly middle-class chaps who liked nothing better than to sing in a slightly fey* manner about kettles, bicycles, buses, trains (in fact, mundane modes of transport feature quite heavily), the English countryside and pretty girls with long hair and - probably - crocheted hats. A bit like the musical equivalent of the Boden catalogue, come to think of it. But for all that, it was lovely and sweet and comforting, like a nice big cup of tea after a winter walk.

Which is why I was delighted to come across this new(ish) album by The Clientele. It's called Strange Geometry, which might make you think of the sort of clever-clever ambient nonsense peddled by Boards of Canada and Aphex Twin. But no! This is as lovely and pastoral and fey and poppy as it comes, *and* it has buses in it.

Purchase, listen (ideally while walking through a wintry park, kicking up the frost-encrusted fallen leaves) and enjoy, but try not to think of the Lightning Seeds at the same time; or you'll spoil it.

* By "slightly fey", what I really mean is "exceptionally twee". Thanks to nibus for pointing that out.

Meet your fellow bloggers! | Thursday 1 Dec | click here for info!

Sunday, November 20, 2005


*Thinking better of it, Patroclus self-censors entire first part of this post...*

It wasn’t a completely decadent weekend though; I also managed to fit in a visit to Southampton City Art Gallery, which I’ve been meaning to go to since I had a big thing about the Pre-Raphaelites when I was about 17. It's a fantastic gallery; not too big, no one hassles you or insists on looking in your bag, the labels next to the paintings are actually informative, and they've got the whole of Burne-Jones's Perseus series. They also sell a nice little book that interprets these ten paintings as a kind of giant comic, with Perseus as the (rather waif-like, all the same) superhero, Medusa and the sea-monster (above right) as the evil baddies, and Andromeda as the damsel in distress (which obviously she is, being chained to the Rock of Doom and all).

I also found myself a tip-top new role model (take that, Seven of Nine!) in St Catherine of Alexandria, via a fantastic Northern Renaissance triptych (left) by Gossen van der Weyden. Apparently St Catherine was not only beautiful but also very, very intelligent, and all the best philosophers in the land couldn't outsmart her. Of course she paid the price for being a know-all by being put to death by the sword, but still, she clearly rocked.

Meet your fellow bloggers! | Thursday 1 Dec | click here for info!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Conversational Highlight No. 4

ME: You know what I thought on the way to work today?

TR: Er, no. What?

ME: That my life is totally like a service-oriented architecture*.

TR: Right. Well my life is like a next-generation network protocol.

ME: Which one?


ME: In what way?

TR: In that it's just a thin veneer masking the complexity behind it.

ME: Cool.

* In that it's really just made up of bits of things I stole from other people.

Meet your fellow bloggers! | Thursday 1 Dec | click here for info!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Ivy Ivy Ivy

Not – on this occasion – the pre-Weatherall Primal Scream track of that name, but rather my first foray into the dimly-lit den of media luvviedom and A-list celebrity that is The Ivy restaurant.

I’m not Heat magazine (to be fair, if you thought I was, you’re even less celebrity-obsessed than I am*), so my lips are sealed as to who might have been spotted there. I’m rubbish at noticing famous people anyway, so had to rely on the eagle eyes of Pashmina and cello for info on our fellow diners, seemingly all of whom were well known for something or other.

I’d like to think that they were all elbowing each other, pointing surreptitiously at me and whispering “don’t look now – but there’s that A-list blogger, Patroclus.” It’s far more likely that they were looking at me disapprovingly and wondering how such a diminutive, scruffy-haired mortal had managed to scale the lofty heights of the media Olympus unapprehended.

All good fun though, the sausages and mash were great, *and* I managed to abscond with two boxes of The Ivy matches to prove I was there. Result!

UPDATE: Just when I thought today couldn't get any more entertaining, the lovely Christian momentarily took his top off in my Spanish class, and we learned to say "You can kiss me - but no touching"**. I'm hoping that one will come in useful.

* Messrs Cave and Depp notwithstanding.

** In Spanish, I mean.

Meet your fellow bloggers! | Thursday 1 Dec | click here for info!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


It's one of those days - utter disillusionment mixed with extreme self-loathing and the irrational urge to delete the whole blog and disappear off the face of the blogosphere. The only way out of this kind of mindset is to listen to some angry, whiny, early 80s acoustic post-punk numbers, then when that doesn't work, progress directly to thrash covers of Cure songs. I'll be on to Einstuerzende Neubauten by lunchtime. Hopefully that'll make everything alright.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Top Weekend

You can't go wrong with a weekend that contains all of the following elements:

1. Dinner with the Slough contingent of my merry band, at which it was decided that "a whole group of us" would shortly spend a weekend in a haunted house "somewhere in Wales" with the aim of scaring ourselves silly with the aid of EMF readers, night-vision thingies, special ink, trigger objects and whatnot. Bring it on!

2. Accidentally watching an entertaining programme on Channel 5 in which a lot of completely naked people discussed what they like about their own genitalia. Best moment:

MAN ON TELLY: Look, I can make my cock touch the bottom of this pint glass! (Proceeds to demonstrate)

THE LOVELY L: Oh my God - they drink out of that*!

3. An outrageously expensive haircut. Or rather, two haircuts, as the 'stylist' saw fit to make part of it curly and part of it straight. I soon battered it back into its usual shapeless mess, though. Result!

4. Lunch in Islington (no. of Nathan Barleys to the square foot: 4.5) with ex-Mr P, who's looking mighty handsome these days. Not that he didn't before, but you know what I mean.

5. A tip-top Martha Wainwright gig at the Shepherd's Bush Empire, which was a bit like a game of See How Many Bookish Female Guardian Readers We Can Cram Into One Medium-Sized Former Theatre. (LC describes it better).

6. Dancing to early 90s indie classics at the Borderline in Charing Cross Road.

7. A protracted moonlit walk through the streets of London in - hmm - entertaining company.

8. Sunday lunch and second-hand book shopping with TR in Camden.


* In reference to the pint glass, obviously. Why, what were *you* thinking?

Meet your fellow bloggers! | Thursday 1 Dec | click here for info!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Friday Nonsense

This was doing the rounds of the office today, although no one seems to know why we found it so funny:

Right, that's yer lot - I'm off to live it up in Slough for nibus's birthday, followed by a weekend of extended jollification, some of it Martha Wainwright-related. So if I lapse into some extremely foul language at any point, you'll know who to blame.

Meet your fellow bloggers! | Thursday 1 Dec | click here for info!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Interior Monologue

Despite what the chi-chi interiors mags would have you believe, the latest de rigueur accoutrement for the contemporary London bachelorette flat isn't a set of Fornasetti Tema e Variazioni plates or Firevault's pearl-encrusted fireplace*.

No indeed. The real cognoscenti know that this Winter's must-have design accessory is a glamorous electro-punk rock chick. Having long been something of a tastemaker on the home furnishings front, I single-handedly launched this key new direction last weekend by installing the keyboard player from West London electro-shock upstarts Anarchic Hand in my sitting room.

Willowy of limb, icy blonde of hair and irreproachably fashionable of dress, the glamorous electro-punk rock chick lends a decadent air of fin-de-siècle wasterdom to my well-appointed apartment, whether adorning the red leather sofa or toasting crumpets by fairy light.

Only time will tell whether the glamorous electro-punk rock chick will turn out to be a seasonal fad or an enduring design classic. Judge for yourselves at The Ideal Anarchic Hand Show, 5 December, Ginglik**, underneath the thin end of Shepherd's Bush Green, London W12.

* Although...

** London's Coolest Arts Centre That Used To Be A Public Toilet!

Meet your fellow bloggers! | Thursday 1 Dec | click here for info!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Patroclus vs. Cave: Round 2

Despite my dismal experience at Alexandra Palace earlier this year (echoed by Tabby Rabbit's White Stripes fiasco last night), I've decided to forgive Nick Cave* for his execrably poor venue choice and give him another chance.

He's touring solo in the New Year but the London show is already sold out, so I've opted to go and see him in Cambridge instead on the 31st Jan. In my customary profligate style, I've bought TWO tickets, but currently have no particular recipient in mind for the second. Hint: I'll probably give it away to the first person who shouts "Me! Me! Over here! Me!".

In other news, I got terribly overexcited in my Spanish class earlier and accidentally formed a business relationship with the boy Keith (whom attentive readers may remember from a portentous dream I had about the eschaton). Of course it's early days - I only have a mobile number and an email address scrawled on the back of a business card - but who knows? In a year's time we could all be millionaires. Fenomenál!

* I have no idea why the boy Cave gets so many mentions in this blog, by the way. Perhaps he wants to be a leitmotif.

The Great Meeting Of Sociopaths Minds

Righto, having established that I foolishly double-booked myself for the Experimental Meet-Up referred to below, I have a new date to propose, which is:

Thursday 1 December 2005
7pm onwards
The Seven Stars Bar and (*cough*) Dining Room
Corner of Goldhawk Road and Paddenswick Road, London W12

Nearest tube: Ravenscourt Park (District)
The 94 bus (Oxford Circus - Notting Hill Gate - Shepherd's Bush) stops more or less outside.

No one will have to wear badges - unless they want to...

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Is This A Stupid Idea?

Urban Chick left a comment the other day (actually, weeks ago) about how it would be great to meet some other bloggers in real life. And I was thinking last night, what if I made some half-arsed plan to be in a certain London pub* on a certain date at a certain time, with some fellow bloggers, and invited all other bloggers, commenters, lurkers etc. to turn up at said place at said time?

Would it be a horrifically awkward gathering of sociopaths, or would it be a beautiful and joyous meeting of minds? Would anyone turn up at all? Should I give it a go?

* Almost certainly my local, the Seven Stars on Goldhawk Road, W12 - so I can easily run home in tears if no one turns up...

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Christmas Party Fashion Crisis

(This is a plea addressed to my female readers; the male contingent are free to go and watch Lost or something for a bit, if they prefer...)

It hasn't escaped my attention that the Christmas party season (three words guaranteed to strike dread into my sociopathic little heart if ever there were) is approaching, and I am scheduled to attend at least one merrie Dickensian ball in at least one south coast city.

Which presents me with the vexatious issue of what the hell am I supposed to wear? The world of popular fashion and I have never really seen eye to eye. This is because (for the benefit of those fortunate enough not to know me in person) I'm not your stereotypical size or shape. Heredity has seen fit to furnish me with an almost comedic lack of height - just over five feet, to be precise - and a certain skinniness of limb, counterbalanced (actually, there's not a lot of balance in it) with a fairly ample chest. Which means that not only am I officially "petite", but my bottom half is a size 8 and my top half is a size 12.

While I'm certainly not complaining about this, it does pretty much exclude me from practically every party dress available in any clothes shop in the whole of London. Also, I fucking hate party dresses, and especially anything gold, silver, black or glittery. Brrrr. So, short of having something made (not a chance - I mean, I bought my wedding dress from eBay for £29*, for God's sake) please... anyone... any suggestions? If you feel moved to include pictures, accessory ideas, mood boards etc., so much the better.

* Lest this make me sound like a total pikey, I should point out that it wasn't a proper wedding dress, it was a vintage 1950s evening gown, and it was lovely.

Alternative Reality

To offset the misery caused by my cat running away and my ex-landlady fleecing me out of £2,113.20 *and* a rather nice French cast iron bed in the same week as I locked myself out of the flat and sank to the bottom of the Spanish class, I've decided to retreat into an alternative reality.

The blogosphere isn't alternative enough (apparently, some of you are real people), and developing schizophrenia would probably be taking things a bit too far, so I've gone the Third Way and bought a new computer game.

I like computer games; my brother and I were brought up in the middle of nowhere in the north of Scotland (the flat bit, not the picturesque bit) with just a ZX Spectrum for entertainment, so I was hooked early on. But I've never managed to get to grips with all those silly, violent ones. I had a go of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City once, and became convinced that the protagonist had only turned to a life of crime because he was suffering from soul-crushing depression, possibly due to a traumatic incident in his early teens (I don't know what; the booklet didn't shed any light on the matter).

I thought the best way to make him see the error of his ways was to have him stand motionless for five days in the middle of a busy intersection, in the pouring rain. Disappointingly, instead of undergoing an epiphany of self-realisation and vowing to renounce his car-jacking and prostitute-murdering ways and become an earnest welfare worker, his only reaction was to shove two fingers up occasionally at cars that got too close to him. So GTA and I went our separate ways very quickly.

No, adventure games are more my thing. I was therefore very upset to find that the new, improved Tomb Raider isn't out till February. I adore Tomb Raider - though the last one was rubbish - and not just because Lara and I apparently share an alma mater. I just love the way a girl whose principal skills are running into walls, drowning and wearing inappropriate clothing can nevertheless overcome baddies and monsters and recover all manner of precious artefacts. It's made me realise that even though I'm always clumsily tripping over the heater at work, I could still become a posh, buxom action heroine if it all goes wrong in the world of high-tech copywriting.

Anyway, in lieu of Lara, I've ordered a mopy, gothic adventure game called Black Mirror, in which apparently "if it's raining, it sounds like it's raining." Which was enough to sell it to me. If you don't hear from me for a few weeks, you'll know where I am.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Mindless Optimism

It's the beginning of November, my second favourite month, and following LC's exemplary, er, example, here's my list of things I intend to achieve before my least favourite month kicks in in 30 days' time:

1. Give up smoking. Again. Progress so far is good. I wrestled my own subconscious to the ground about 15 minutes ago and slapped a nicotine patch on myself while holding my own arms behind my back. No, wait, that would only work if I was Shiva. Anyway. Haven't had a craving since. You go, non-smoking Patroclus! Hopefully this attempt will prove more successful than the last half-arsed effort, which was scuppered after a mere 48 hours by the evil Wyndham.

2. Watch some fucking TV. I've had my umbilical cord into the Murdoch Empire in place for a whole month now, during which time I've watched the grand total of one pop video (Tom Vek - Nothing But Green Lights, if anyone's interested) on MTV2. Now the boy Vek may be - and indeed is - quite cute, but I'm not sure he justifies the c. £8,000 a month that Rupert is getting from me. From now on it's telly, telly, telly all the way. Oh joy.

3. Actually watch the DVDs I keep buying. Ohh, there are so many. I've got the first series of The Mighty Boosh; I've got the (most likely) one and only series of Nathan Barley, complete with wonderful gatefold cardboard cover, inside which is a lovely picture of the lovely Dan Ashcroft laughing in a lovely fashion, and a silly booklet full of nonsensical Nathanity; I've got the collectors' edition of Memento (in which the lovely Guy, that's enough of the hormonal outpourings now) and I've got a totally pretentious French film, which I bought when I was playing the "what's the most pretentious thing I can buy in Slough?" game. So that's quite a few long autumn evenings on the tasty wipe-clean cherry-red leather sofa for me.

4. Sort out my finances. Errr, that one doesn't involve any fun, or lovely men, or any fun with lovely men. So we'll skip merrily over that.

5. Read some improving books. Rather miraculously for someone whose attention span has dwindled to that of a gnat with ADHD, I'm currently quite enjoying reading Howard Rheingold's Smart Mobs, and there are plenty more where that came from (i.e. my groaning bookshelves). Wheee!

6. Make peace with my grandmother. Again. This has to be done before I attend her 95th birthday party (for which she has requested that we all assemble in her Highland cottage - which I accidentally bought a couple of years ago - to consume a Thai takeaway) on the 20th Dec. I've forgotten now why I fell out with her in the first place (possibly something to do with the fact that last year she inconsiderately burned my bloody house down), so it must be time to bury the hatchet, rebuild the bridges etc.

7. Resume writing my award-worthy, semi-surrealist vetcom, ably assisted by the other junior members of my family (one brother and two cousins, to be precise), with whom I had a lovely dinner last night.

8. Work harder. Hmm. Ah. Best get back to it, then.