Thursday, December 28, 2006


Well, the laptop is officially dead, and I feel like I'm practically dead, so it's time for a break.

First I am going to walk up the hill, then I am going to get on a plane, then I am going to get on a train, and then I am going to go into hiding with a book about prime numbers and a book about cholera, and not come out until the 8th Jan.

Happy New Year the lot of you!

UPDATE: I've just realised that this means I won't be on MSN during the GW feature-length special (10pm, C4, Thurs 4th Jan) after all. Bugger. Rest assured I will be with you in spirit, fellow GW aficionados.

UPDATE 2: Also, I urge all and sundry to join in with Tim's chapter-by-chapter critical deconstruction of the dreadful adverb-fest that is The Da V*nci C*de, for which he has set up a special blog and everything. The fun begins on Jan 1, perfect for your New Year hangovers.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Happy Christmas Blogchums!

No doubt I will be blogging right through the festive season*, like the trooper (read: no-life saddo) that I am, but I just wanted to wish a very happy Christmas and New Year to all of you lovely readers, fellow bloggers, commenters and lurkers.

It's been another odd year for me, and you've all been instrumental in cheering me up through the bad bits and making the good bits even better. Thanks to each and every one of you, and I hope you all have a lovely time, whatever you're doing and whoever you're doing it with!

I look forward to reading your comedy Christmas deconstructions and New Year's resolutions in due course. And to catching up with me London-based blogging chums when I'm back in the big city in January.

Patroclus xxx

Oo, look at that, kisses and everything. Has my mum spiked my tea?

* This was an optimistic prediction, made before my laptop succumbed to a festive virus, and I succumbed to a festive bout of unhappiness that prevents me from blogging. Normal service will be resumed at some point, though, I'm sure.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Monkey Songs Redux

(I don't even know what 'redux' means*; it just sounds good.)

Betty brought this one to my attention. Apparently it's *the* electro-house club anthem of 2006, but I wouldn't know about that, because I haven't been near a nightclub since that unfortunate incident with the angels and the ceiling and the TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE FEAR.

But it's by Justice vs Simian, and 'simian' means 'like a munkle', so it counts as a monkey song and is therefore relevant. And by crikey, it is ace.

Justice vs Simian - We Are Your Friends (mp3) - [Buy from Amazon]

If it doesn't put a stupid big grin on your face, I don't know what will.

Oh and there is quite a good video too, including some splendid slow-motion cat-jumping** action, but you will have to go to Betty's to see that, because we don't hold with nasty newfangled moving pictures here on the good ship Quinquireme.

* I don't know what 'gestalt' means, either.

** Not the same as 'cat wronging', for anyone here from the UKMHOF board.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Up The Twitter

At six twenty pm I go on to, because apparently it's what all the cool people are doing.

I don't know what I'm supposed to do there.

Apparently you type into a box what you're doing right now, and then you can see what everyone else is doing right now. I type something suitably pretentious into a box, and then I look at what everyone else is doing.

Everyone else is mainly cooking dinner and listening to Hot Chip on their iPods. I fight the temptation to type into a box 'Hot Chip are, like, *so* 2005! You should be listening to Lindstrom*, dweebs!', because a) I am not fifteen, and b) these people were on before me, ergo they are cooler than me, even if they are listening to Hot Chip on their iPods.

I type into the void a bit more.

Nothing happens.

A bloke called Mathew is wondering what's so good about

So am I.

I reckon everyone else is just pretending to know what's so cool about it, while they cook dinner and listen to Hot Chip on their iPods.

Mathew wonders if it's because he doesn't have any friends.

I almost offer to be his friend. Then I think that might be a terrible breach of Twitter etiquette ('twitiquette'), and some of the people on there have been there since, ooh, last week at least! They might gather round me and Mathew in a circle and laugh, and taunt, and chant 'you love him, you love him'.

'Twitter is more fun with friends!' says the blurb. Going by the available evidence, I consider that this statement may have merit.

I email James to see if he wants to go on it, luring him with the promise of a site that's so inconsequentially solipsistic it makes blogging look like War and Peace and the Red Cross rolled into one.

Strangely this doesn't work.

In a last ditch attempt to get to grips with it, I inform the Twitter crowd that I am 'moping'.

Nothing happens.

I go and cook the dinner, without listening to Hot Chip on my iPod.

It is now eight sixteen pm. In Twitter time ('twime'), about seven years have passed. Mathew probably now has thirty-eight thousand friends and a column in the Guardian.

'This typing what you're doing into a box malarky, it'll never catch on', I think to myself.

I sit down at my laptop and fire up Blogger.

* Or is it Prins Thomas? I can't keep up.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Three Monkeys

Here are three songs with 'monkey' in the title, hand-picked from my enormous archive of monkey-themed songs.

In true local radio stylee I'm dedicating these to LC, because he needs his mind taking off things, and songs about monkeys are just the thing, I reckon. But everyone else please do feel free to dig in too.

Barry Adamson - The Monkey Speaks His Mind (m4a) - [Buy from Amazon]
Sinister, growly jazz noir, with lyrics I'm not sure I want to listen to all that closely. And screaming. Lots of terrible, anguished screaming, of the sort that you might hear echoing around the Italian marble walls of the loos in Cipriani. Brilliant.

Not sure who - Monkey Gone To Heaven (mp3)
Ahh, the Pixies were great, weren't they? Of course, they would have been even better if they'd booted out Frank Black and drafted in Frank Sinatra. Wouldn't they?

The Emperor Machine - Monkey Overbite (mp3) - [Buy from Amazon]
It's all about epic psychedelic space disco for winter 06-07, kids, and here is a fine example of the genre. I heartily advise you to pull on your silver platform moonboots, project some swirly lava shapes on to what's left of your specialist-polished plaster walls, and get down.

BONUS NON-MONKEY-RELATED TRACK, as requested by Aimee:

Don't know who this is either - Wave Of Mutilation (mp3)

Next up: five songs about axolotls, hand-picked from my enormous archive of axolotl-themed songs.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Blogworld 1, Evening Standard 0

Seeing Stef the Engineer's comment on the previous post reminded me that I've been meaning to write about blog posts I've read that have stuck in my mind.

I might do a proper Review Of The Year In Blogworld later on, but I want to mention this one now, just because it's timely.

Compare these two tales of disaster* survival:

1. My Tornado Hell (from the Evening Standard, via Blue Cat)

2. Stef and the Kobe Earthquake (from Shoot The Messenger)

Any hacks out there still want to claim that journalists are the better storytellers, or that bloggers are the vacuous, self-obsessed ones?

* That's if you subscribe to the view that the Kensal Rise tornado was a 'disaster'. I'm not sure that the loss of a fully insured Cath Kidston carpet and some tangerines is quite in the same league as, say, Hurricane Katrina, but you know what I mean. I'd also be grateful if anyone could provide any insight as to what exactly might have been going on in the mind of Caroline Phillips as she wrote this. Did she really think it was going to inspire sympathy? Admiration? A chick-lit book deal? I'm completely at a loss to understand.

UPDATE: For anyone thinking this article is a spoof, here is an actual picture of it (what I nicked from someone on this forum; thank you, person on that forum!):

Friday, December 15, 2006

Pop Cult

As ordained in the scriptures, I am now Patroclus MA (Pop Cult). Woo! Who wants in? You get to wear pink robes and worship at the shrine of Baudrillard and everything. Polygamy is optional.

UPDATE: To mark this rite of passage, I am declaring a full-on Qualification Amnesty. Please therefore take this opportunity to list your qualifications in the comments. I want the lot!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Colossus Of Prades

If you liken the human brain to a computer (which is something I like to do a lot), mine is the reconstruction of the Colossus that those two unassuming chaps are working on out the back of Bletchley Park.

This is not because my brain is massive, revolutionary, or the first of its kind. Oh no. Quite the opposite. My brain is like the Colossus because it is devoting a vast amount of computational resource to processing just two questions, which are being repeatedly fed into it on an endless stream of ticker tape:

1. Will I have to move to the rural south of France permanently?

2. If so, how will the rest of my life play out?

There's no way yet of answering either of these questions, but this doesn't stop my brain from endlessly processing, processing, processing. Lying awake at night, processing. Walking in the countryside, processing. Having a bath, processing. Cooking dinner, processing.

There are a lot of things that are worse than moving to the rural south of France. Thousands of Brits do it all the time. Then they write gushing books about it, or articles in the Sunday Times, which attract other Brits, like the bodies of dead ants attracting increasing numbers of live ants. The weather is usually quite nice. The countryside is beautiful. The hedgerows are full of rosemary and thyme and lavender and pears and hares and snakes and shrews. My house is rustic and cosy. The food is cheap and tasty, the coffee is great, the views are fantastic, and the neighbours are forever bringing home-made pies and cakes round.

Wait a second, why don't I want to move here again?

ALSO: Note to Realdoc - I can't comment on your blog at all at all at all, which is really annoying me.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Do Geeks Dream Of Lego Sheep?

Courtesy of the lovely Mr BC, I have a fantastic lego advent calendar.

In my enthusiasm I managed to completely destroy it before I figured out how it worked, at one point laying bare all of the little lego sets incubating in the cells behind each of the doors. It was nothing a bit of hasty sellotaping and folding couldn't fix, though, and the calendar is now functioning as it should.

However, recently the calendar has started behaving suspiciously, as if it knows as much about the inner workings of my life as I know about its.

Yesterday morning, for example, door no. 8 yielded up a festive hospital bed, complete with drip. Yesterday afternoon, I had to take my mum to the hospital (scheduled visit, nothing alarming), where a certain amount of time was spent lying about on a spookily similar bed, watching the news about the festive rail strikes in Clermont-Ferrand.

This morning, door no. 9 revealed a little hospital desk and computer, featuring a fancy adjustable flat-screen monitor. Eerily, today I am writing a brochure about healthcare computerisation (pace Realdoc).

I'm leaving for the airport at 6.15am tomorrow, but there will probably be time for me to open door no. 10 before I go. I'm just hoping I don't get one of these:

Because that would just be way too scary.

UPDATE: Look! This Matt also has the lego advent calendar! And he's put lego Anakin Skywalker on his hospital bed, whereas I've put lego Draco Malfoy on mine! And my lego doctor also put his briefcase in the luggage x-raying machine! It's things like this that restore my faith in humankind.

UPDATE 2: Ooh, I got a bit overexcited there. Anyone would think I was quite looking forward to my little sojourn in London Town.

Friday, December 08, 2006


After six long weeks in exile, I'm just about to make good my escape back to the land of Marmite and Twinings Earl Grey, to stock up and Twinings Earl Grey. And to check that the lovely Mr BC and I still like each other*. And to meet some people in Hungerford. And to pitch some dreadfully fashionable Web 2.0 malarky to some people in Reading. And to go to the work Christmas party. And to see Tunng and Viva Voce play in Brick Lane, if anyone fancies coming along on Monday evening.

My reward for all this frivolity is a 3.30am taxi back to Stansted on Wednesday morning, and the exile commences once more...

* Which apparently we do. Awww.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Everything I've Been Taught By Men

Here is the COMPLETE, UNABRIDGED and ALPHABETICAL list of everything I have learned about from my four serious boyfriends over the last 15 years:

Acid house, Isaac Asimov, avoiding being killed by hippos, Belgian hardcore, canoeing, class As, football, Joseph Heller, the internet as a metaphor for the hive mind, investment banking, making jewellery, the Mandelbrot set, MMORPGs, object-oriented programming, pool, science fiction tropes, RPGs, skiing, Neal Stephenson, techno, Visual Basic, Kurt Vonnegut, when to change gear.

UPDATE: Well, I never considered this would become a meme, but lots of other people have had a go, and the resulting lists are incredibly eclectic and endlessly fascinating. Have a look at Chaucer's Bitch, Extemporanea, Great She Elephant, Loganoc, Realdoc and Spinsterella, for a start...