Saturday, December 31, 2005


On James's recommendation, the Rabbit and I settled down last night with a roast chicken and the Complete First Season of The OC. Sadly the chicken did not survive beyond Episode Three, but the Rabbit and I valiantly battled through to the end of Episode Nine (i.e. the one in which Whatsisname and That One Who Apparently Designs Jewellery Now finally get to kiss each other).

Watching a lot of episodes of something consecutively is always a bit strange. Earlier this year I spent ages discussing the supposed many layers of significance in the sitcom version of Nathan Barley with my comedy forum chums. It was only when I watched all six episodes back to back that I realised that it doesn't have many layers of significance at all; it's simply about the emptiness of fashion. The irony of this is not lost on me.

Watching a lot of the OC in one sitting demands a lot of the old willing suspension of disbelief. For example, Nice Jewish Lawyer Chappie is seen to have a job interview one day and start the new job the next ("surely he'd have cases to wrap up first") and Jewellery Designer Bird's parents' divorce comes through faster than it takes her to come round from having her stomach pumped of painkillers and tequila (top marks to her for collapsing in such a beautiful, gothic fashion, though).

"I've got no one," sobs Jewellery Bird at one point, having discovered her Evil Jock Boyfriend sexydancing with Evil Blonde Bimbo in a nightclub in Tijuana, just after her Dad's phoned her to say he's leaving her Mum. "What in hell is she talking about," exclaim I. "She's just spent a night in a motel with Troubled Kid Who Used To Be Poor, and she woke up holding his hand. That's the kind of thing you'd notice, wouldn't you?" The Rabbit agreed. "I'd notice if someone I fancied even breathed in my direction," she observes. We both nod sagely.

Clearly the Best Character is (the quite lovely) Seth, who gets all the best lines *and* has a seemingly inexhaustible wardrobe of faintly subversive indie-band t-shirts. Seth goes off the boil pretty quickly though, once he becomes a magnet for The Ladies. "Bring back geeky, socially-leprous Seth!" exclaim I. But no, the lovely Seth is destined to have all manner of smart, sassy girls unexpectedly throw themselves at him. Unfair play!

Err, obviously I haven't become at all addicted to it. Oh no. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have another 18 episodes to watch...

Friday, December 30, 2005


Er, this post sort of turned out to be My Terribly Dull Life Story. Frankly I would advise you to switch off now and go and do something more exciting instead, like write your thank you letters to Aunt Fanny and Uncle Quentin.

Sorry for writing so much about music at the moment, but I’ve had a lot of catching up to do, you see. Once upon a time, I was one of two music editors of my uni’s student magazine (all copies of which have thankfully been lost), which entailed getting in free to lots of gigs and being sent lots of indie-rock albums in the post. As if this wasn’t good enough, I once got to interview opium-tinged American goth rockers My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult. And EMF once said hello to me*. So you can see these were halcyon days indeed.

After that it all went a bit wrong**. I ditched my whole indie-chick thing and became a raver. When spending entire weekends in a field making complicated hand movements, reaching for the lasers and talking hackneyed nonsense about becoming a Buddhist started to seem like a bit too much hassle, I elected to spend my weekends instead in London’s techno and trance clubs, making complicated hand movements, reaching for the lasers and talking hackneyed nonsense about becoming a Buddhist.

As you can imagine, these were not particularly musically rich times. But worse was yet to come. Not only did I land myself one of those dream corporate jobs that meant I had to get up at 5.30am every day, drive from Camden to Reading, work my arse off for fourteen hours and then drive back to Camden just in time to fall into bed at 10pm, but I also became afflicted – somewhat unsurprisingly, it seems to me now – with terrible, hallucinatory, shaking panic attacks, which could apparently only be treated with heavy medication***.

This turned out to be A Terrible Mistake. While spending four years numbed up on anti-depressants might *sound* quite pleasant, in a Brave New World soma-holiday type way, it did nothing for me culturally. I didn’t have any panic attacks, but then I didn’t experience any other emotions either. For four years I was pretty much an automaton, and anything on the emotional-cultural axis seemed like a mighty waste of time. So I didn’t really listen to any music at all.

Which means that now I’m completely chemical-free and Mistress Of My Own Mind, I have to catch up on everything I missed over the last – what? – twelve years. And oh boy, is that a lot of catching up.

And what makes it worse is that my parents were never into the pop music of their day, so I never had one of those upbringings where you were handily exposed to Bob Dylan and Marvin Gaye and whatnot. Which means lots of extra catching up. Why, only the other day - and at the insistence of Fizzy - I finally acquired a copy of that Velvet Underground album with the banana on it. "Hmmm," I thought. "This sounds suspiciously like Spacemen 3. Oh no, wait."

Anyway, to summarise, apparently some quite good music has been made over the last forty years or so that you wouldn't necessarily see on MTV. Luckily I have some trusty companions like Pitchfork (reliable!) and Stylus (unutterably pretentious!) to guide me, not to mention all the lovely people who send me marvellous mp3s and compilations an' ting.

Right, that's it. I'm sorry, it won't happen again. Next up is my critique of Dr Richard Cox's The Language Of The Ogam Inscriptions Of Scotland. I'll try to keep the word count down.

MINUTE-BY-MINUTE UPDATE: Oo, my OC Complete First Season DVD has just arrived! Now if you'll excuse me...

* If anyone would like the complete and unabridged list of Pop Stars Who Have Said Hello To Me, you’ve only to ask.

** Which for the uninitiated is dance culture argot for "all went a bit Pete Tong".

*** Don't do it, kids. I've since discovered that the condition can be treated equally well by not consuming bread, cheese or hot chocolate.

Thursday, December 29, 2005


I *was* going to review the emotional rollercoaster that was 2005 in the style of the Reduced Shakespeare Company, a post which in my head took the form of a hilarious, rollicking pantomime full of dastardly villains, dei ex machina, heartache, heartbreak, dispossession, restitution and a tip-top soundtrack that was two parts doomy Americana, one part sparkly electro-pop and a topping of crunchy Elliott Smith sprinkles, but then I decided that it might all be a bit close to the mark.

So instead you get a straightforward list of my New Year’s resolutions, none of which will be kept.

1. Read the entire Baroque Cycle, in the correct sequence.

2. Never wear a skirt as short as this one again.

3. Do it. Do it. Do *it*.

4. Go to the cinema, like, *all* the time.

5. Be a bit less like that Jack Nicholson character in that film I’ve forgotten the name of.

6. Go to Africa again. Also, go to San Francisco again.

7. Realise that all the things I’m rubbish at I will always be rubbish at. Including writing this blog, skiing and making resolutions.

8. Avoid getting into any, you know, *relationships*.

9. Start drinking again.

10. Get a Mibo lampshade for my hall.

Yup, that ought to do it, unless anyone has any other suggestions*?

* An audience participation feature I’ve totally nicked from Wyndham.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

OC Catastrophe

It turns out that every single one of my current favourite songs has featured on the soundtrack to the OC*. I've never seen a single episode of the OC. Am I subconsciously, erm, channelling it? What is it, anyway? And what does it all mean?

* OC? O.C.? Help.

Nicotine 1, Patroclus 0

Forget Nizlopi whatever-it-is vs Shayne Thing*, the real battle of the 2005 festive season has been me versus the demon weed. Things started out very well, with an eight-day unbroken run of not smoking at all, with no more horrific side effects than me snapping slightly at the lovely L (sorry, lovely L) at one point before dosing myself up to the eye teeth with those cripplingly expensive fur 'n' mint 'n' slime-based sweets that Nicotinell churn out in soothingly addiction-numbing quantities.

No, it was all fine. Scotland - fine. France - fine. This time I really will never smoke again, I told myself, proudly. I would have told other people too, but most of them were members of my family, and they sweetly pretend not to know I smoke.

Of course then I got back to Blighty, taking a handy coach straight from Stansted to the Four Seasons Hotel on Park Lane**, where my good friend the lovely S was nursing her millionaire jet-set father, who'd cracked a rib during a festive stop-over in London en route for Phoenix, or was it Tokyo?

One glance at S's packet of Marlboro Reds, and I was hooked again. We ended up taking a taxi down to the slums of Dalston E8 just so we could smoke all night, drink wine, listen to the Kings of Convenience and debate whether Sebastian Flyte actually dies or just fades out of the story***.

Needless to say I woke up this morning in an unfamiliar bed plagued with nausea, remorse and a terrible headache. Kids, take it from me - just don't start.

* I have no idea who these people actually are.

** Fact: I was once tear-gassed on Park Lane, surrounded by burning cars.

*** We tried looking it up on Google, but Google was infuriatingly tight-lipped on the matter. "I could just go out there and get the book," the lovely S suggests eventually. "No, that would be too easy," say I. We still don't know.

Friday, December 23, 2005

This Flight Is Making Me Afraid

The flight to Montpellier was possibly the worst I’ve ever taken, as I was beset the entire way by barely controllable panic attacks. The sort that make you think the same terrible thoughts over and over again, until your scalp crawls with fear, your hands go numb, your heart’s beating like a fucked clock and you can no longer feel your legs:

Oh my God, I’m in an aeroplane, I can’t get out.


That noise doesn’t sound normal.

Oh God, make that noise stop.

Oh God, the noise has stopped. We must be going to crash.


It’s abnormally hot in here.


I can’t die now, I haven’t deciphered the Pictish Ogham inscriptions.


I’m going to be sick now. That will be embarrassing.


Oh Jesus, I can’t get out.


And so it went on, and on, for two interminable hours. Matters were not helped by my travelling companion (in the sense that he was sitting next to me), Barry from Essex, who insisted on soliciting my opinion for the entire duration of the flight on how he could best market his wholesale commercial lighting business.


Fortunately we made it to Montpellier without mishap, I wasn’t sick and no one – to my knowledge – died during the flight.

Perhaps because of this pseudo near-death experience, I am having one of the best times in France that I’ve ever had. The countryside around my house is stunningly beautiful. I’ve seen the low winter sun rise over the frost-encrusted vineyards and the Iron Age oppidum* that caps the hill opposite. I’ve seen the low winter sun set in a rust-coloured glow over the first foothills of the Cévennes. I’ve bought an incredibly girly teapot. I’ve been having a really good laugh with my Mum. I’m very happy.

To allow you to share in this unexpected joy, here is a video for a lovely song by Icelandic indie piano popstrels Ampop.

And a very merry Christmas to one and all!

* The perspicacious among you may have noticed that living beneath Iron Age hillforts is the sort of thing I do.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


So long then folks, I'm off to visit various parents for a few days, just like that Christmassy bit in Bridget Jones's Diary, eh?


Going back to the north of Scotland is always a bit weird. When I was little we lived in a small stone cottage at the foot of a hill near the sea. On top of the hill was an old Iron Age fort. Nearby, hidden in trees and at the end of a long drive with a lodge at the bottom of it, was the Big House. The people in the big house were landowners and farmers. My Mum and Dad rented the cottage from them. They had four children, let's call them Martha, Ian, Sarah and Angus. Ian was the same age as me. We used to play together a bit.

One day I came in from the garden, it must have been in the autumn, and I must have been six or seven years old. My Mum was in the kitchen, and when I came in she said to me Ian is dead. I think I laughed, because I didn't really know what that meant. It turned out that Ian had been helping his Dad with the harvest, and he had fallen into one of those big silos where they store grain. By the time they got him out, he had drowned. They tried to revive him, but he was dead. After that, my parents always told us not to play anywhere near the big piles of grain there always were in the farm buildings at harvest time. We didn't take any notice.

Near the cottage where we grew up, underneath the hill with the Iron Age fort on top of it, there were three ponds that are now a trout fishery. In the winter, when we weren't more than seven and nine years old, my brother and I used to go up to the frozen ponds by ourselves and walk out on the ice. We weren't worried, even when we heard it cracking around us. Once, Mum told us we weren't to walk on the ice, ever. We didn't take any notice.

This week when we went back for my Granny's 95th birthday, my Dad and his girlfriend and I stayed in the Big House, which is now a guesthouse. The same people still live there. The hills that I thought were so huge when I was little now seem small enough to step over. The Iron Age fort is still there. My Granny is still there. Nothing has changed at all, except the size of the hills.

Sunday, December 18, 2005


So long then folks, I'm off to the place of my birth for a few days, just like that Christmassy bit in the Bible, eh?

* Which is my second favourite word of all time.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

High Fidelity

I love a good list, me. Just one more reason why I think I'm really a geeky man trapped in the body of a small, blonde ex-PR girl. So anyway, it being the season and all, I'll *treat* you to my top 20 songs of 2005* (in no particular order) - with FREE bonus facetious commentary:

There She Goes, My Beautiful World by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. The boy Cave abandons any kind of restraint and assembles what sounds like 50 guitars, 20 pianos, 63 drumkits and an entire gospel choir to produce riotous epic whose lyrics score way up high on the Cultural References Index. Useful source of throwaway facts about Nabokov, Gauguin, Johnny Thunders et al. Nice work.

New Light Of Tomorrow by Husky Rescue. Finland's answer to Air, only with a beautiful blonde singer and a tall, enigmatic Finnish guy instead of two French blokes. Lovely.

Black Heart by Calexico. Makes some people think about escaping across the border from California to Mexico. Made me cry all the way to Venezuela and back. Probably one of the best broken-heart dirges ever.

Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole by Martha Wainwright. Martha sticks it to her poor old Dad using some fairly unequivocal language, in a song that should have made Alanis Morissette weep with envy into her faux-ironic woolly hat.

The Start Of Something by Voxtrot. Tip-top twee indie-pop, cute blokes, top-notch "I've been dumped" lyrics, fabulous.

Babe, You Turn Me On by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Deploy with caution when making compilation CDs for people you fancy, on the grounds that it a) risks coming across as a bit stalkerish, and b) contains the lines: "the nightingale it sings to you/and it raises up the ante/I put one hand on your round, ripe heart/and the other down your panties". Ooh la la, Mr Cave! Come here and say that! Etc.

My Home Is The Sea by Matt Sweeney & Bonnie "Prince" Billy. This is just a perfect song, and that's all there is to say about it, really.

So Come Back, I Am Waiting by Okkervil River. Epic finale to inexplicably critically-overlooked Black Sheep Boy album, scores top marks for rhyming "bacterium", "magisterial", "abecedarian" and "wisteria" in the space of four lines. Impressive. Also, sinister.

Shanty For The Arethusa by The Decemberists. You may not *think* you need to hear a song about being press-ganged on to a nineteenth-century cargo ship bound from New York to Australia, but actually you do. No, really.

My Own Face Inside The Trees by The Clientele. A wintry walk in the park, followed by tea, toast and honey and this. Mmmmm.

I Turn My Camera On by Spoon. As previously advertised. Ooh yeah.

Is It Any Wonder? by The Shortwave Set. *Like* St Etienne/Stereolab/the Kinks/Robyn Hitchcock (delete as applicable), only And with a Swedish singer with a gorgeous voice. Damn all these tall, beautiful, honey-voiced Scandinavians! Unutterably wonderful.

Too Drunk to Fuck by the Dead Kennedys. Because sometimes you have to listen to comedy early 80s West-Coast agit-punk. Also because I refuse to grow up.

Kiss Off by the Violent Femmes. As above, only replace "comedy early 80s West-Coast agit-punk" with "whiny early 80s New York acoustic post-punk".

Needle In The Hay by Elliott Smith. Miserable smackhead singer-songwritery acoustic guitar stuff par excellence. Alas, poor Elliott. I loved him, Horatio. Still do, in fact.

This Corrosion by Lambchop. Because it's *still* the greatest cover ever. Closely followed by...

Hotel California by The Cat Empire. It's Hotel California! In French! In some sort of reggae style! Makes me grin inanely, and that can't be a bad thing.

Come Hell or High Water by Barry Adamson. In possibly the greatest song ever written, our Barry employs semi-comedy jazz-lounge style to lament being reduced to a quivering mess by a "customary girl in pedestal shoes, no pants and a real tight sweater". If I ever go on Desert Island Discs, I'll be choosing this ten times in a row. You have been warned.

Hrr, that's only 17, but I'm bored now.

* The astute among you may notice that a good many of these date from a lot earlier than 2005. What do you think I am, the NME?

Friday, December 16, 2005

Friday Malarky

For those of you watching the clock till 5.00, this picture apparently contains 72 artistically represented band names for you to find. Click here for full size.

Thanks to Sean for that.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


At our work Christmas dinner we discussed the issues of the day, including the thorny question of: Were Any Great Films Made In The Eighties?

Oo, what about Alien?


No way! Seriously? Alright then, how about Aliens?

Yeah, Aliens was good, but not great.

What about Apocalypse Now?

Was that made in the 80s?

Yes. No. Don't know*.

There was The Godfather.


Alright then, Goodfellas.


Oo, Blade Runner.

(general nods of agreement)

Oo, Stand By Me.

(general nods of agreement)

Oh, and that one with those kids walking along that railway track.

That *is* Stand By Me.

(long silence)

That's it, isn't it. Two films. Crap decade.

* 1979, as it turns out.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Possibly The Last GW-Related Post This Year

Time to call upon the assistance and bulging bank accounts of the loyal Green Wing fanbase once more – the 2005 British Comedy Awards are on tonight, and GW is up against Ant & Dec, Jonathan Ross and Catherine Tate for the People’s Choice award.

This means you need to be glued to ITV from 9.00-10.30 tonight, and ready to gamble all your hard-earned cash on GW carrying off the prize by voting repeatedly during the show.

Oh, and as I’ll be out, it would be nice if someone who knows my mobile number could text me the text voting instructions, so I can participate surreptitiously from under the table at our work Christmas do.

Yes, so it’s a cynical ploy designed to fill ITV’s coffers with largely undeserved cash, but at the same time, it’s worth it…

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

We Live Round Here Too

I keep going back to this link (from NTK), which is the list of speaker bios for that event in Paris the other week, where someone called someone else an asshole during a presentation about how bloggers should be more polite to each other, which in turn seems to have provoked an enormous outbreak of name-calling across the whole blogging "élite", like some sort of unseemly prep-school food fight*.

This list has been making me feel nauseous for some reason, but I couldn't figure out what it was. At first I thought I was just having a fit of intellectual jealousy - because I'm always unbecomingly jealous of clever people, even ones that wear silly combat kilts and style themselves emigrés rather than ex-pats.

But it wasn't until I clicked on the blog of this individual** that I understood. These are the sorts of people that speak at conferences. You know, extroverts. And I don't know about you, but I've had it up to here with extroverts - always cluttering up pavements, chattering into mobiles, shouting at each other in bars, schmoozing people in suits, reading newspapers in business-class lounges, wearing expensive socks, touching complete strangers on the arm, and generally just being so alarmingly confident all the time.

Well, no, I mean, some of my best friends are extroverts, and lovely people they are too. But, you know, for years and years they've been making us introverts feel terribly inadequate, with our clumsy scuttling and blushing and avoidance of direct eye contact. But then along came blogging, and suddenly we had an outlet for our thoughts that didn't involve people looking at us and us having to say things. And it was lovely, dammit.

So when I come across a bunch of extroverts who think they own the blogosphere (although to be fair, some of them actually *do* own Technorati and Movable Type and stuff, damn their expensive socks) just because they used to be management consultants and can speak at conferences, it makes me all confused and upset. This was *our* revolution! We want it back! More specifically, I want it back! Mummy! Those nasty extroverts stole my dinner money!

Umm, I thought this was going somewhere, but it doesn't seem to be. And I didn't get to quote that Pulp song at length, either. Oh, why do these things always sound so much better in my head?

* Only with fewer custard pies and more gratuitous references to Hegelian dialectics.

** When I showed this to Tabby Rabbit, she said: "yeah, but she's got fuck-all comments. I got more comments than that for a post about Bobby Ewing's hair." Which is possibly the funniest thing I've heard all week.

Food Stuff


Let me tell you, I thoroughly disapprove of this tagging malarky. But since it's the lovely Pashmina who's tagged me, I'll make an exception. So, my top ten foodstuffs (and bear in mind this is coming from someone who hasn't so much as taken a saucepan out of the cupboard for at least three months):

1. Plain Choco Leibniz biscuits

2. Lamb

3. Eggs Florentine

4. Anything that takes less than two and a quarter minutes to heat up in the microwave. Anything over two and quarter minutes I count as "cooking", which isn't in my repertoire.

5. Those big juicy white Spanish anchovies

6. Err, salmon

7. Oh, I don't know any more.

8. Can't I list my top ten Johnny Depp screen moments instead?

9. No.

10. I'll shut up then.

Sorry about that. I'm not very into food. As you might be able to tell.


UPDATE: Oh, I forgot to tag other people. So let's hear it, nibus, Tabby and Smat...

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Open Source Epigraphy

When not fixing the central heating, fixing the broken internet connection, walking for miles around the streets and parks of West London or venturing to the Land of the Kids to bring you back rare and exquisite musical gems, this weekend I have been mainly studying the Pictish Ogham inscriptions.

For anyone who's following this, I now have a super Excel spreadsheet with the inscriptions listed in geographical order from north to south, which fairly rapidly revealed the following facts:

1. The majority of inscriptions come from the far North of Scotland, mainly Shetland, Orkney and Caithness.

2. The inscriptions from this northern part of the country are by far the most intelligible, having a reasonable spread of consonants and vowels.

3. This part of the country also features a number of similar inscriptions, of a similar date, in Norse runes (which *can* be fairly easily read). This being because the Vikings had a fairly strong presence in the far North of Scotland in the late Dark Ages, you see.

4. This led me to conclude that perhaps these Northern inscriptions are actually written in a language that is more like Old Norse than any mythical lost Pictish language.

5. It then turned out that a chap by the name of Richard Cox had come to this conclusion six years ago (but pfff, that's like the blink of an eye in Pictish study terms).

6. However, this same Richard Cox concluded from this that because these northern inscriptions are written in Old Norse, this must mean that *all* Pictish Ogham inscriptions are written in Old Norse (or a patois thereof), and that there was perhaps no lost Pictish language at all.

7. But I reckon this is rubbish. The inscriptions from the other areas of Scotland (mainly Grampian and Fife) are almost completely unintelligible, and some have no vowels at all. They just feel completely different.

8. Therefore, my hypothesis is that these other inscriptions *are* written in a language that might conceivably be the lost Pictish language.

Umm, if anyone wants to receive a copy of my spreadsheet and join me in the Not-Geeky-At-All-Honest Open Source Pictish Epigraphy project, then just say the word.

Song Of The Week

I Turn My Camera On by Spoon. Download (legal) mp3, turn volume up to eardrum-bending levels, and dance in an extremely sexy manner around your kitchen/living room/bedroom/anywhere really. Repeat.

How great? How catchy? If this doesn't make your Sunday evening, I don't know what will.


* Ignore me - just trying out this newfangled tagging thing.

Friday, December 09, 2005


NB: This post sounded a lot better in my head.

I promised Betty and Greta that I’d do a review of last night’s gig by terribly fashionable band of the moment The Shortwave Set, and I wouldn’t want to let down any of my lovely and heartwarmingly tolerant readers.

However, you know, I actually know next to nothing about music. I couldn’t tell you anything at all about production values or what constitutes laptopcoustica. Or anything at all about Neil Young.

In fact my music appreciation criteria are strictly limited to the following:

1. The lyrics. Are they clever, intelligent, funny or poetic?

2. Failing that, are they voluminous? (I have an awful weakness for songs that try and cram as many words as possible into one line, which is why you’ll often find me listening to otherwise execrable rubbish, like I Want You by Savage Garden.)

3. The lyrics. Do they contain a lot of cultural references? (This epiphany occurred when I first heard Morrissey sing “Last night the plans for a future war/were all I saw/on Channel 4”. I thought oo, he said Channel 4! *I* have Channel 4! Morrissey speaks to me!)

4. That’s it, really. I’m not very interested in instruments or melody or rhythm or samples or anything like that.

But what I *can* tell you is that last night’s other act, Field Music (number 44 in the NME’s controversial top 50 albums of the year, fact fans), failed dismally on the first three counts above, and are therefore Officially Rubbish. Not only were their lyrics dreadful – I mean, "you're so pretty/I want to talk to you all night" - come *on* - but they also lacked any kind of onstage charisma. Off!

The Shortwave Set, however, did turn out to be unutterably wonderful, as Greta predicted. But their lyrics aren’t all that, so it must have been something else. I’m not equipped to describe it, so I’ll metaphorically hand over to one Anton, newly arrived from New Zealand, who seemed to think that having an encyclopaedic knowledge of All Music Ever would be sufficient to get me to kiss him, or something.

So, The Shortwave Set’s repertoire, according to Anton:

Roadside: “This is very Stereolab. Don’t you think this is very Stereolab?”

Better than Bad: “Oh, this is so ripped off the Kinks”

Slingshot: “Ooh, this sample, it’s Nat King Cole. The greatest song ever written.”

Is It Any Wonder?*: “This guy sounds like Robyn Hitchcock. Don’t you think he sounds like Robyn Hitchcock?”

At this point it might have been pertinent for me to tell A that I’ve just spent four years on medication, during which I had no desire to engage in anything cultural whatsoever, and that therefore my musical knowledge has some gaping lacunae. But I didn’t.

His summing up was spot-on, though: “Either these guys had parents with a lot of junk lying around the house, or they spend a *lot* of time in charity shops.”

No, I know, that’s rubbish. I recommend you go here for a proper review.

The Shortwave Set, though. Unutterably wonderful. Official.

* Song of the Week!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Best News I've Had, Ever

OK, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but I was just signing up (again) for the final year of my MA course, when I noticed this little footnote:

On successful completion of 180 points’ worth of required courses you will be awarded the Master of Arts in Popular Culture, entitling you to use the letters MA (Pop Cult) after your name.

Pop Cult! Could *anything* be cooler than that?

The Prisoner's Dilemma

…or the trouble with self-awareness

In cultural theory there’s an idea called the Panopticon, which is a (metaphorical) prison cell where people can see you, but you can’t see them. Which is a bit like having a blog, really. So further to my existential crisis at the weekend, I’ve been thinking far too much about all the people that are currently seeing me without being seen. A motley assortment of individuals that includes, but is in no way limited to:

[frantic snipping noises]

Needless to say, paranoia is rife in the panopticon.

When I originally started this blog, the idea was to document the impact of technology – apparently as represented by Telewest – on modern society, or so it says in my very first post.

[snippety snip, tum-te-tum...]

...The show must go on, and everything. So I might as well pick up the original theme again.

So, things you can expect to be hearing about include:

1. Lots of really wanky stuff about the way technology is changing our general existence. Apparently they are calling this phenomenon Web 2.0. They bloody would as well.

2. Other pretentious rubbish, possibly relating to music and stuff.

3. The lost language of the Picts.

What you won’t be hearing about includes:

1. Anything remotely interesting.

2. Anything remotely funny.

3. Anything remotely scurrilous.

If this is what you’re after, then I strongly advise you to Step Away From This Site, perhaps by clicking on a link to one of my admirable blogging friends in the sidebar there.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have fingers to gnaw, dark imprecations to mutter, and a chair to rock back and forth in.

ALMOST INSTANT UPDATE: Shopping. I might still write about that. Also, interiors. Oo, I feel better already.

FURTHER UPDATE: There, I'm sure the edited version still makes almost as much sense...

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Exercise Your Democratic Rights!

As has been noted elsewhere, it's up to us, the people, to choose one of two Channel 4 comedies to go through to the shortlist for the People's Choice category for the forthcoming 2005 British Comedy Awards.

So it's between Green Wing, which is quite clearly The Best Sitcom Of Our Time With The Possible Exception Of Spaced, and another sitcom which I'm not going to mention in case you foolishly decide to vote for it instead*.

All fans of the Wing should therefore proceed immediately to their mobile phones and text "GREEN" to 86633 as many times as your bank balances can handle. Or call 0901 723 02 02 and press 7. Repeatedly.

Lines close midnight next Saturday 10th December, and the award ceremony itself is on Wednesday 14th December on ITV1. Go to it!

* Oh alright, Max & Paddy's Road To Nowhere.

Monday, December 05, 2005

That Existential Crisis In Full!

Bloggers! Ever find yourself asking Big Questions like these, and then wanting to hide under the internet bed for a Very Long Time, clutching at your non-existent cyber-blanket and desperately searching for Tron so that you can cry on his shoulder?

1. Why the hell am I doing this again?

2. Who the bloody hell are all these people, and what do they want?

3. Oh Jesus, whatever was I thinking when I wrote *that*?

4. Why can't I be all funny and clever like [insert name of every other blogger here]?

5. Oh. My. God. My Dad's discovered my blog. What do I do now?

6. Why has so-and-so linked to me?

7. Why hasn't so-and-so linked to me?

8. Why did I leave that stupid comment in that place all those months ago?

9. How am I ever going to find the time to resurrect the lost language of the Picts, write my dissertation, read all those improving books, develop some half-arsed New Theory of Blogging, and do all the usual worky/domesticky stuff, if all I do all day is check my stats?

10. Why don't I just delete the statcounter?

11. Why don't I just delete the whole blog?

12. Help.

If this is you, don't despair. Auntie Patroclus is here to guide you through the bad times, with soothing platitudes like "It's a new frontier for all of us. No one knows what the rules are. We're just going to have to make it up as we go along. Hang in there."

I need to get out more. I know, I'll go and watch up-and-coming West London noiseniks Anarchic Hand play an eardrum-bothering gig in a public toilet. God bless electro-punk rock, quite frankly.


Sorry about that...just succumbing to a bit of blog paranoia, as predicted recently in this post.

I think we're* all OK now. Many thanks to everyone who enquired after my well-being/sanity.

* By which I mean *I*.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

It's The New Going Out, You Know

My finances being in a terrible state, I've banned myself from leaving the flat this weekend for fear of haemorrhaging cash that I don't have along the gold-paved streets of Chiswick, Kensington and Camden.

Staying in all weekend presents a fabulous opportunity to sort one's life out, make Christmas present lists, write Christmas cards, file things in the filing cabinet, pay bills, do Spanish homework, clean the skirting boards, etc. Needless to say, I haven't done any of those things. Instead I spent the afternoon downloading old Spacemen 3 tracks and pretending to know stuff about RSS feeds.

That was fun while it lasted but Christ, I'm bored now. This is probably not unrelated to the fact that I haven't smoked since Thursday. One of the worst things about giving up smoking is that every day lasts for all eternity, and not in a good way. If I had to choose something to spend all of eternity doing, it probably wouldn't be sitting around in a flat in Shepherd's Bush with no money and no cigarettes.

I might still pick Transparent Radiation as the soundtrack, though.

But anyway! There's a fun week on the horizon, starting with Anarchic Hand's breakthrough gig at Ginglik on Monday night, Spanish class Christmas party on Wednesday, a possible trip to Kilburn on Thursday to see neo-Victorians The Shortwave Set play in some fashionable little venue, and a cocktail party (actually a drinks party; I just wanted to say "cocktail party" because it makes my life sound more glamorous) in South Kensington on Friday.

The week, ladies and gentlemen. It's the new weekend, dontcha know.

Friday, December 02, 2005


I was going to make this entire post up, but as I have very little in the way of creative imagination, I'm afraid you're going to have to hear instead about What Really Happened last night.

In a way I was hoping that the fusion of the blogosphere and the Real World, not to mention the Green Wing fanbase/writer crossover nexus and the introduction of a random British Net Celebrity* might provoke some kind of total protonic reversal, resulting in all life as we know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in our bodies exploding at the speed of light, but this did not occur. Which was probably for the best, not least because the Seven Stars has only just been done up.

Instead, there was a lot of civilised chat about speed-dating, the dangers of allowing bodily fluids to seep inside an iPod Shuffle, the most cinematic way to carry out a hired killing, the similarities between Ogham script and Javascript, the difficulty in telling whether a shuffling old man is a tramp or a world-renowned theoretical physicist, what to do about the Pictish thing, and exactly how deranged a person would have to be to phone a girl pretending to be her boyfriend suffering from laryngitis - and more importantly, how long they could get away with this masterstroke of illusion.

I for one enjoyed myself immensely, and a great many thanks to Pashmina, Great She Elephant, Tabby Rabbit, James**, LC, Dave, cello and the lovely S for coming along.

Next up: the mythical South London Blogmeet!

* About whom I may have written somewhat gushingly on a previous occasion.

** Also a British Net Celebrity, having been awarded the accolade of Blog of the Week in last Saturday's Times.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


See you in the pub then, chaps!