Monday, January 30, 2006


And lo! the archangel Gabriel appeared to me in a dream and said "Patroclus, in 2006 thou shalt champion obscure Scandinavian bands".

Actually I had a a bit of a head start on the angel of the Annunciation, because I spent a fair amount of time in 2005 wibbling on about Finnish folktronica outfit Husky Rescue - to the extent that a friend of a friend of mine apparently bought not one but TWO copies of their (quite fabulous) Country Falls album, which makes me very happy.

But that was just the warm-up, and it's 2006 now, and I have my work cut out. So I feel I should commence the proceedings by bringing to your attention the work of The Tiny, whose album Close Enough has apparently been around since 2004, but it's only been on my desk since this morning.

A cursory skip round the internet tells me that The Tiny mainly get compared with Portishead*, but that's not really right. Although they do sound a bit like how her from Portishead would sound if she had a Swedish accent and sang a bit more like her from Tori Amos. Accompanied by a cello and a double bass. On some quite lovely and slightly otherworldly songs about floating in the middle of lakes and falling in love with people when you haven't had any sleep.

The whole album is a bit all too much of the same sort of thing, but if you're planning any romantic encounters in the vicinity of your stereo this year, then "Closer" and "Lake" should help you along no end. Don't say I don't give you all the best tips.

* Unless you're reading the unutterably pretentious Stylus Magazine, which prefers to make unfavourable comparisons with Bjork (whose stupid squeaky pixie voice I detest) and Joanna Newsom (ditto). Mind you, it's probably quite difficult to hear properly when you're that far up your own arse.

Friday, January 27, 2006


As I may have mentioned before, I have an unseemly fondness for geeks. By this I really mean anyone who has a boundless and unselfconscious enthusiasm for arcane subjects, but because of the industry I work in, that mainly translates to Silicon Valley-style software developers.

So I was obviously very excited last night to attend a seminar in a swanky Central London hotel, where a renowned uber-geek had been laid on to address a crowd of techies about the latest efforts to standardise the development of service-oriented architectures.

Much of the evening was dedicated to pondering a long-standing problem that IT types have, which is that no one ever understands what they're going on about. This resulted in the following lovely bit of monologue:

Uber-geek: If we can just find a way to talk to business users on their level, all our problems will be solved.

Audience: Hear hear!

Uber-geek: They'll soon realise that this new service-oriented architecture will be the saviour of modern business.

Audience: Oh yeah!

Uber-geek: We just need a simple way of explaining what we do, then they'll be queuing up to buy it.

Audience: Tell us what to do, o wise one!

Uber-geek: Well, we could start with WSDL. It does provide a completely mathematically robust system for describing services and interaction. But of course there are elements of the SOA system that escape mathematical description, because it's cybernetic.

Like I said, I love geeks.

INSTANT UPDATE: So long then, chaps, I'm off to the Isle of Wight for a spot of birdwatching. With champagne. Apparently.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

It's All Gone A Bit Geoff Dyer...

...or it will do if I don't make this very short.

Anyway, it's 1993. I'm walking across the car park of Royal Holloway and Bedford New College in Egham, Surrey, with my boyfriend of the time. It's early evening, autumn time. He's carrying something, probably white camouflage netting. None of this is particularly interesting. The important thing is that as we're walking across the car park, I tell him that I'm happier than I've ever been.

The odd thing is that I don't have any memories of ever saying this at any other point in my life, even though I *must* have, surely. It's such an unremarkable occasion on which to have come out with it, walking across a car park. And if you asked me to look back on my life* and point out a time when I was truly happy, my first choice probably wouldn't be the autumn of 1993. But I remember saying it, so I know that I was.

Which is why I want to say now very quickly, because I tend to avoid sentimental stuff if at all possible, that right now, January 2006, I'm probably happier than I've ever been. There isn't anyone around to tell this to, so I'll just note it down here, and then in thirteen years' time, I'll remember (or - hey - read it in my archive), and know that I was.

Ahem. As you were.

* My life to date, I mean. Christ, I make it sound like I'm on my deathbed. I'm not. Why, quite a lot of my hair is still its natural colour. Not that I can actually really remember now what that was. I'll stop now, I'm not making it any better.

Saturday, January 21, 2006


The trouble with being very short is that in quite subtle but still quite important ways you remain a child for the whole of your adult life.

This week there's been a lot of top chat on Wyndham's blog about Neal Stephenson, with particular reference to Cryptonomicon, with particular reference to how Neal Stephenson is like Thomas Pynchon for dummies, which resulted in my rashly promising the assembled crowd that I would attempt to read Gravity's Rainbow again.

This is no minor undertaking, incidentally - the merest paragraph of Pynchon's can keep you awake for hours with lexical indigestion. But I wasn't going to let that deter me, oh no. Then I realised that my copy of Gravity's Rainbow is actually several postcodes away chez ex-Mr P. Not only that, but it's also all horrid, decayed and swollen because it used to live in our bathroom with the Tintin books and Onion annuals, which - for reasons I can't possibly imagine - tended to be more popular with bathroom visitors.

So off I skip to Waterstone's with one of those feelings of irrational joy that I often get on a Saturday morning. I'm wearing my green military-style jacket and a stripy scarf. I've just had my eyebrows threaded. I fancy I look just like one of London's boho left-wing intelligentsia. I'm going to buy Gravity's Rainbow, and I'm going to read it upstairs in the smoking bit of Caffe Nero, sitting on one of those banquettes that I hate so much. Handsome, intelligent men will probably fall in love with me. What could possibly go wrong?


In Waterstone's, alphabetical ordering has contrived to place Thomas Pynchon on the top shelf. I can see the book. I can touch it. But I can't get it down. It's wedged in too tightly, sandwiched in between his other - and in Wyndham's opinion, better - works. I need to get my fingers on top of it, but I can't reach that high. I look around. There's a bloke standing next to me. I briefly consider asking him to get it for me, but then I realise how stupid that would make me look, like a child asking its Mum to fetch the biscuit tin down*.

Feeling terribly humiliated, I leave empty-handed. I almost want to cry. Instead, I buy the Guardian and read it upstairs in the smoking bit of Caffe Nero, sitting on one of those banquettes that I hate so much. No one appears to fall in love with me. The whole morning is completely ruined.

Later, I remember there's a gigantic Books Etc. on Shepherd's Bush Green, where I find the book well within my puny reach. So, if you'll excuse me, I have 760 pages of literary tour de force to get through...

* To this day, my Mum (who's nine inches taller than me) keeps her biscuits and chocolates on the top shelf of the cupboard where I can't get at them.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Filth, Sleaze, Etc.

Crap Claim to Fame no. 563 in a potentially infinite series: I was once too ill to attend a party at the Sneaker Pimps' house.* Although apparently everyone just sat around getting stoned, and nothing much happened. So that's alright then.

This is actually more relevant than it may appear, because the Sneaker Pimps have since reinvented themselves as a filthy electrosleaze band called Trash Money, whose filthy** electrosleaze single "Jean City" was recommended earlier this week by comedy god Julian Barratt in comedy paper the Metro.

I now love this song SO MUCH that I've actually had to disconnect myself from the wi-fi network to prevent Audioscrobbler from telling that I've been listening to it over and over again. What a funny new world this is.

Anyway, you can hear it here. The Mighty Boosh man he not wrong.

* Which, coincidentally, was located in the "posh bit" of Kentish Town.

** Not in *that* way.


It occurs to me that I have all my very worst ideas for blog posts when I'm in the bath. Unfortunately for you, dear readers, that is exactly where I have been languishing for the last hour or so.

As terrible post ideas go, this one isn't quite up there with The Contents of My Handbag vols. One and Two, or the Guide To The Scars On My Person, but it is pretty vacuous and self-regarding, all the same. Hurrah!

So, without further ado, let's all plunge headfirst into the mesmerising litany* of Things That Make Me Anxious Or Otherwise Unsettled:

Clear blue skies
Stretch limos
Hard chairs
Signing my name

And here's a nice list of Things That Make Me Really Quite Happy:

The autumn
Swinging indie songs with swearing in them
Anything with upwards of three meanings
Fancy underwear
Long walks
Getting up really really early

There now, I feel happy just looking at that list. Mmmm.

* Witness the Tom Cruise-like panache with which I mix metaphors!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Hear ye, hear ye, all those who read this blog and reside in "the posh bit" of Kentish Town!

You have approximately three hours to don your best punk t-shirt and anarcho jeans ensemble and get to The Bull & Gate to witness The Gig That Anarchic Hand Tried Not To Promote.

The electro-punk rock chick, some or fewer British Net Celebrities, and I will be in the bar from 9pm. As will a lot of other people, probably. I'm the diminutive blonde one with scruffy hair.

Yeah. Like *that's* going to work...

Monday, January 16, 2006

Gay Cowboy Movie: A Very Brief Review

Why did no one warn me that the gay cowboy movie was going to be that sad?


Saturday, January 14, 2006

Must... Control... Fist... Of... Death

I can’t not write about the Weekend FT any more, it’s making me so angry. In a moment of fiscal weakness last year I arranged to have the Financial Times delivered to my flat every morning, and on Saturday mornings it’s become my habit to read the weekend edition in bed with a nice cup of coffee.

I thought this would keep me up to date with what’s happening in the world of business*, but instead it just fills me with uncontrollable, coffee-spilling RAGE.

First of all, that paper is just so straight. If you compiled a list of things that the Weekend FT deems to be cool, it would look like this: hotel lobbies, diamonds, watches, swanky restaurants, skiing, Zurich. Jesus. (That last one is an expletive, incidentally).

But in a masterstroke of poor timing, this morning the FT decided that what’s *really* cool is – gasp! – smoking cigarettes. It’s the 14th of January! I - and no doubt thousands of other FT readers - are fourteen days (give or take) into a new non-smoking régime, and what we don't need is some straight-laced business paper telling us that smoking is actually pretty hip, dontcha know.

So turning the page quickly away from the article about how smoking is really sexy and seductive and how giving it up destroys all creativity and you might as well condemn yourself to a life of eternal mediocrity etc. etc., I discovered an even more contemptible article, which was a review of a book about the economics of online gaming.

The FT seemed to want to atone for having gone slightly off the rails with the whole smoking-is-so-cool-and-bohemian thing, because this one was pure, soulless, City-boy rubbish.

“Online role-playing games are..hardly worth scholarly analysis”, sneers the reviewer, before becoming slightly aroused at the discovery that RPGs have economies that have spilled over into the real world, with people buying weapons and stuff on eBay.

He concedes that this might be quite interesting if these economies were really big, but as it stands, they’re actually quite pathetic. “All the synthetic economies put together…are about the size of Bosnia-Herzegovina,” he notes, laying the blame for this squarely at the door of the hapless losers who’ve spent years in World of Warcraft but *still* haven’t managed to create so much as a single in-game hotel lobby where one can purchase diamonds and expensive watches while planning one's next ski trip to Zurich.

Yes, according to the FT, the trouble with RPGs is that no one who plays them is sufficiently motivated by good old Western patriarchal capitalist greed. "There is no technological progress, little gain from specialisation and no opportunity to invest in capital stock," the reviewer moans about World of Warcraft. No, what these games really need is a bunch of wine-bar wankers to take over and set them straight. "For me, the interesting moment will come when - if? - a world with the popular appeal of Warcraft or Star Wars Galaxies allows entrepreneurial players to invest and invent," he says.

Which just goes to prove my theory - well, it's either mine or Antonio Gramsci's - that wherever there are people minding their own business and having a nice time, you can bet that sooner or later the whole place will be over-run by hordes of twats who want to ban it, trash it, or sell it back to them. It happened to the Neanderthals and it'll happen again. Oh yes.

On another note entirely, I had a dream last night that I was rubbing green chilli pickle into my own hair, which I found curiously erotic.

* A job that's done much better by the Economist, anyway. Plus it sometimes has jokes in it.


James has tagged me to tell you some stuff about films.

I feel a bit fraudulent doing this, as it’s one of those chain questionnaire things that is really meant for screenwriters and film people. I’ve never made a film, unless you count the Jesuit road movie that the lovely S, ex-Mr S, ex-Mr P and I made in France in 2002, called The Fleas of Jesus; a title that was designed to translate to the equally euphonic Les Puces de Jésus in case they ever wanted to show it at the Curzon.

Sadly the master tapes* were stolen during the Great Kentish Town Flat Robbery of 2003, which is obviously the world’s loss.

I have slightly more experience of scriptwriting, inasmuch as I spent a lot of time in the sixth form writing Abstract Expressionist plays that were designed never to be performed, only read. At the time I thought this was terribly avant-garde, which just goes to show what an insufferably pretentious twat I was then (and indeed, still am).

But enough of this claptrap! On with the show!

ONE (1) earliest film-related memory:
My Mum taking me to see The Rescuers in Inverness. I checked and it came out in 1977, which means I must have been six or seven. Mind you, given the length of time it used to take for cultural phenomena to filter up to the far north of Scotland, I was probably more like nineteen. All I remember is being very, very frightened. Mice are scary!


TWO (2) favorite lines from movies:
Oo, that’s *so* difficult to choose, seeing as almost every line is a classic in two of my favourite films, viz. Withnail & I (no groaning at the back there) and Ed Wood. Here’s one from each:

WITHNAIL (observing road sign): Look at that. “Accident Blackspot”. These aren’t accidents; they’re throwing themselves into the road, gladly, to escape all this hideousness. (To bystander) Throw yourself into the road, darling, you haven’t got a chance!

ED WOOD: Now, what is the one thing, if you put it in a movie, it'll be successful?
ED WOOD: No, better than that. A star.
PRODUCER: You must have me confused with David Selznick. I don't make major motion pictures; I make crap.
ED WOOD: Yes, but if you take that crap and put a star in it, then you've got something.
PRODUCER: Yeah. Crap with a star in it.

THREE (3) jobs you'd do if you could not work in the industry:
Cult hero

FOUR (4) jobs you actually have held outside the industry:
Well hey, I’ve never been in the film industry, but boy, have I scaled the ladder in the equally sexy junk mail industry:

1993: Your plucky young heroine is working all hours in a warehouse on an industrial estate just outside Exeter, heat-sealing mail-order catalogues into plastic packaging.


1999: Disillusioned with the world of holographic wall art and celebrity chocolate sponsorship, your heroine quits her job at top five global PR firm to stay home and write junk mail for IT companies. Fortunately this coincides with the dotcom boom, so your heroine makes tons of cash.


2003: Sick of commuting and everything being silver, your heroine quits the dream corporate job she accidentally got when the boom ended, moves to the south of France to look after her ailing (now better again) mother and ekes a living writing junk mail for IT companies. These are dark days for the technology industry. Your heroine doesn’t make much cash at all, a situation that she attempts to offset by buying a big white van and setting up an intermittently successful French antiques business on eBay.


2006: Your heroine is now director of an alarmingly successful junk mail writing agency, churning out event invitations, promotional postcards and those irritating things that fall out of magazines when you open them at a phenomenal rainforest-decimating rate. Yes folks, I'm afraid your heroine turned out to be an evil capitalista whore!


THREE (3) book authors I like:
Neal Stephenson
Lawrence Durrell
Hanif Kureishi

TWO (2) movies you'd like to remake or properties you'd like to adapt:
No idea about this (apart from maybe casting myself in Keira Knightley’s role in Pirates of the Caribbean – I’d be much better, and I wouldn’t make the mistake of not getting it on with Captain Jack Sparrow while drunk on a desert island, tsk) so I’ll say two books I’d like to see made into films (not by me, obviously, because my digital videocamera got stolen, and anyway they’d be crap): Cold Comfort Farm (this one would be fairly easy), and Cryptonomicon (this one wouldn’t).

ONE (1) screenwriter you think is underrated:
Lord, not a clue, but I know that whoever wrote the script for the aforementioned Pirates of the Caribbean is woefully over-rated.

THREE (3) people I'm tagging to answer this meme** next:
I wasn’t going to do this because I don’t know any filmy-scriptwritery people, but this has been much more fun to write than I thought it would be. So, if you feel like it, take it away Merkin, GSE and (leftfield choice, this, as I’m not sure he even reads this) Mr Whiskers!

* I know nothing about the film industry. Seriously.

** This isn’t a meme. As far as I’m aware, a meme is an action or an attitude that gets spontaneously copied and evolves over time. This is, like, one of those chain things.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Here Is The News

1. The OC Series 2 "better writing than Series 1" shocker!

2. Apple sells 14 million iPods in 2005 Christmukkah season, compared with 4.6 million the year before. Blimey!

3. There are some really good bands with really stupid names. Ladytron. Modest Mouse. Sort it out!

4. Downstairs neighbour ratchets stalking tendencies up a notch. Patroclus begins double-locking flat door at night. Unsettling!

5. Greatest Thing Ever. Official!

6. Caffeine overload index = high. Bring it on!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Accidentally watched some telly last night in between assembling wardrobes, and lo and behold if it wasn't the first episode of Life on Mars, starring the quite marvellous (not in *that* way, I mean, he's just generally great) John Simm (aka That Bloke From That Film That Hasn't Aged Very Well*).

Life on Mars seems to have lifted its entire premise from one of Iain "not M" Banks's better efforts, viz. The Bridge. Only instead of being in a coma and imagining that he's trapped in a giant, er, bridge, the protagonist is in a coma and imagining that he's trapped in an episode of The Sweeney. Cue lots of rolling about on authentic 70s police car bonnets and sort of dramatic slow-motion type action, while Simm gets to go through a range of endearing facial expressions and wear a nice stripy shirt and leather jacket.

Well I liked it very much, even though its premise is one of the Things That Frighten Me Most, as blogged about back in the day here...

Didn't quite have to sleep with the light on, but it did manage to instil a vague sense of unease in me, which is pretty good going on the part of the BBC, really. I'm really hoping they nick that bit from The Bridge where, in the real world, the doctors start pumping the protagonist full of weird drugs, which makes his dream-world suddenly turn even more incredibly surreal than it already was. Because that would just be really cool.

* That film, I mean, not the boy Simm. He's maturing very nicely thank you.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Mutter, Mutter, Whinge, Mutter

Can't blog about work...can't blog about my ex...can't blog about going out and doing glamorous things, because it's bleedin' January, innit...fed up of blogging about music...haven't got any hot celebrity gossip...won't blog about the news...nearly blogged about the evil salmon-hued organ of olde-worlde patriarchy that is the Financial Times Weekend Edition, but decided I needed to learn more about feminism first (pesky feminism, with its multifarious nuances and strands and waves, scratching, biting, etc.)...can't blog about anything that takes more than five minutes to compose, because work is really wait, can't blog about that, sorry, forgot...haven't seen anything funny lying around in the downstairs neighbour's stalking tendencies haven't quite developed to the point where they'll make a sufficiently chilling and sinister story...haven't been to any gigs...haven't lost any weight...haven't put on any weight...haven't seen the gay cowboy movie...

Bugger. Sorry folks. I'm off to assemble a wardrobe. See ya.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

See Into My Head Here

As I get older, I like talking less and less. I don't like talking because of all the subtle things you say and do that betray what you're thinking. (Writing's different, because you can edit the subtle things out, plus there's no body language*). The idea that someone might know what I'm really thinking terrifies me more than almost anything else.

Also, talking generally requires eye contact. I hate eye contact, because it makes me feel like the person I'm talking to can SEE INTO MY HEAD. Why anyone would actually *want* to see in there is a different matter - for one thing, it would be extremely dull. But that doesn't stop me worrying about it.

It's the same with shops - I hate buying things in shops, in case other people see, and know what I'm thinking. Shudder.

(Working up to the point now...)

This goes some way towards explaining why I was so mortified this afternoon to discover that I've somehow set up a user account with "personalised internet radio station" The principle of is fantastic: you tell it what music you like, and it plays you a continuous stream of other music it thinks you'll like, based on your preferences. And so far, it's been totally spot on. Marvellous.

However, as part of my account activation, I also seem to have downloaded and installed a thing called an Audioscrobbler plugin. This is a little bit of software that watches everything I do with iTunes, and then beams that information back to, so that it can learn over time what music I like best.

To my absolute horror, this means it's now possible for anyone in the world to look on the internet and see what music I own, what songs I've listened to in the last week, and what I listen to the most. To me, this is practically the same as having the whole world be able to SEE INTO MY HEAD.

I tried to explain this to nibus, but he didn't seem to think it was important. But the thing is, I don't just listen to songs because I like them. Often I'll listen to them because they remind me of a time, or a place, or an experience, or a person (or, indeed, any combination of the above). So it's kind of like the soundtrack to my thoughts.

Hmm, erring somewhat on the side of the pretentious there, but anyway...

On the other hand, obviously I really like the music I listen to, and you might like it too. So it's with great trepidation and with no little realisation that I'm just about to blatantly contradict everything I've said above, that I present you with my User Profile page:

Click here to SEE INTO MY HEAD

*Patroclus runs and hides under the sofa*

UPDATE: Actually, this is all paranoid bollocks. What I'm basically saying is "Look everyone, I quite like American indie rock. Woo!"

* Except there is, really, but you'll just have to wait for my little monograph on Body Language In Disembodied Space for that...

Friday, January 06, 2006

You Know Your Business Is Taking Off When You...

...are writing a brochure about educational software at 3am.


While I'm otherwise occupied, may I direct you to LC's vastly entertaining review of that big monkey movie? You'll probably never return, but that's a risk I'm prepared to take...

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Blind, Seething Rage...

How does it happen that the ONE DAY that I arrive at the office feeling something approaching manic enthusiasm; the ONE DAY that I write a piece of junk mail direct mail so perfect that Sir Lancelot would have had to stand three feet away from my desk with his eyes shut and his fingers in his ears rather than be allowed to behold its jargon-laden wondrousness; the ONE DAY when I haven't smoked for...oooh, I don't know, 36 hours or something, too bloody long anyway, is the ONE DAY that I accidentally press "no" when Microsoft Word asks me if I want to save changes to this document?

Fuck it ALL*.

Oh, actually I feel a lot better now. Funny how that happens.

* Sorry Dad.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Gratuitous last!

Nick Cave and some lovely wallpaper. Like it.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Conversational Highlight no. 5: New Year's Eve

ME: So, weren't we going to burn stuff?

TR: Oo, yes, let's burn stuff!

Time passes...

ME: So, er, have you actually got anything to burn?

TR: What, actually with me? No.

Time passes...

TR: How do you spell "harassment"?

Bravo Two Zero Zero Six

And yes, I know that's a terrible title, but I've been drinking expensive champagne. As, I hope, have you. Happy New Year all!!