Friday, February 29, 2008

Celeb Gossip For Generation X Alumni

Nine hundred and ninety-nine times out of a thousand I couldn't give a toss about 'celebrity' gossip. Who cares if some talentless former reality show contestant is going out with some other talentless former reality show contestant? What's the world coming to, in my day people had to actually be good at something to make a name for themselves blah blah etc. etc.*

Anyway, today is DIFFERENT, because today I learned that my Hollywood alter ego, disgraced former Generation X movie starlet Winona Ryder, has been photographed *holding hands* with Blake Sennett, aka the one out of can-do-no-wrong twee US indie band Rilo Kiley who isn't Jenny Lewis.

When he's not not being Jenny Lewis, Blake Sennett is (or was, I'm hazy on the details) in another twee US indie band called The Elected, who wrote one of my favouritest songs ever, and one which is on the list of twee indie tunes to be played at my funeral.

Here we go, you will all, without exception (actually probably not Betty) like this, it is a lovely little song about growing up, thinking you're getting old, and getting all nostalgic for all the old friends you've lost touch with. Clearly this was written in the days before Facebook, as it's now impossible to avoid all your old friends whether you feel nostalgic for them or not, but that's even better, because that makes it a bona fide part of social history:

The Elected - Greetings in Braille (mp3)

Happy Leap Year Day, Winona and Blake and everybody!

* Although in my day there was Milli Vanilli, so this may not be strictly true.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Patroclus And Mr BC Discuss...Art


Patroclus, Mr BC and Mr BC's best mate (who shall be referred to in time-honoured fashion as 'BM') are looking at an exhibition of Impressionistic paintings of Venice in the gallery where BM works.

ME: Ooh, now, that one's quite Turner-esque.

MR BC: Yes, and this one looks a bit like -

ME: Monet's series of Rouen Cathedral?

Mr BC: No, that wasn't what I was thinking of.

ME: Canaletto, but with a sort of wibbly filter* on it?

MR BC: I was thinking more of...what's that one where Lara has to steal the motorboat?

ME: Tomb Raider 2?

MR BC: That's the one.

BM: Isn't it time you were going?

* A term I learned from Brian Sewell.

Friday, February 22, 2008

That's My Money You've Got, You Bastards

I wonder if anyone can spot any kind of link between this blog post of mine from April last year...

British Gas sent me TWO letters last Thursday, one demanding immediate payment of £740.74, and the other demanding immediate payment of £461.47. Failure to pay these, would, they informed me, result in them coming round to disconnect my supply. They might also BRING THE POLICE WITH THEM, they hadn't decided yet.

Still, this might be an improvement (it's hard to tell) on my last monthly bill, for £1,013.64, which I received while away in France, after a month when my (one-bedroom) flat had been empty and the central heating off.

...and this story from today's Guardian:

Ofgem said yesterday it was launching an investigation into Britain's electricity and gas supply markets after recent price increases. The announcement came within hours of news of a sharp rise in profits from the country's biggest residential energy supplier, British Gas.

[British Gas] defended the latest price increase at a time it was reporting sharply higher profits. Finance director Nick Luff said 2007 had been a "year of two halves" with British Gas Residential making £533m profit in the first half as wholesale prices fell against £38m in the second half when they rose sharply.

Hmm, big profits in the first half of last year, eh? I wonder how they managed that.

It's lovely to see deserving entities like British Gas and Henry Conway doing so well for themselves with my money. It makes me feel all warm inside. Warm with RIGHTEOUS SEETHING ANGER.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Now Available In Falmouth, Too

Ooh, look, I am the number one Google search result for 'some twat down in London'. Does this mean I can claim a Guardian column as my birthright?

Saturday, February 16, 2008


The internet brings word of a new Neal Stephenson novel, Anathem, due out in September. Woo!

(I'd better get a move on with the Baroque Cycle, then.)

Friday, February 15, 2008


I don't miss living in London, but it did look fantastic in Tuesday's hazy winter sunshine as I was hurtling through it on a Terravision coach, bound for Victoria, then Paddington, then home:

Commercial Break


PATROCLUS is watching a repeat of Time Team on Discovery Civilisation. An advert for Lloyds TSB comes on.

VOICEOVER: Wouldn't you like to make last night's dream today's reality?

ME: Christ no, I dreamt I gave birth to the cat.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

And Another Thing...

Peach at the Peach blog is putting together a book of blog posts to be published through and sold in aid of WARCHILD.

If you want to submit something from your blog, go here and follow the instructions. Deadline is the 29th of this month.

I have sent a post about the time I was hauled before the beak for not paying my council tax, which is probably far too frivolous for what Peach has in mind. Also it suggests that I carry a samurai sword about with me, which might not create the right impression.

(For the record, I don't carry a sword, but I do frequently carry a copy of Elle Decoration. This blog isn't a *complete* tissue of lies, you know.)

More Ontological Grief

If Britain is a nation of shopkeepers, France is a nation of philosophers.

While the average life in Britain could conceivably be marked out as a series of purchases, the average life in France could be marked out as a series of philosophical ruminations, as admirably illustrated by the attitude exhibited by my mum's former doctor.

Mind you it's not surprising that the French are so fond of philosophising when even the most mundane activities are fraught with uncertainties and ambiguities of the most complex and fundamental sort. Just this week, for example, I was walking in the woods in the Languedoc with my dad, when we happened upon this notice:

Roughly translated, this means:

Community of the Communes of the [River] Orb and the [River] Jaur
Commune of Olargues
The Lisson rubbish dump is
Anyone who violates this decision will be prosecuted.
Municipal by-law of the 4th March 2004

Now, Occasional Poster of Comments has a philosophy degree and therefore is far better placed than I to comment on the ontological difficulties presented by this notice.

But the fact is that the Lisson rubbish dump to all intents and purposes does *not* exist. It used to be there, in fact I was one of its last patrons, having dumped an orange IKEA futon mattress into it in 2003. But it's been filled in now and replaced with a fancy modern déchetterie down on the main road, where you are invited to sort your rubbish neatly into differently themed skips: one for metal waste, one for garden waste, one for dud batteries, one for old pots of paint, etc.

And yet, according to this notice, denying the existence of the Lisson rubbish dump is a flagrant contravention of local municipal by-laws punishable by prosecution through the courts.

Which brings one to wondering: how explicit would the denial have to be in order for it to become a crime? If one was at a dinner party, for example, and happened to reminisce to one's fellow diners about the 'old' rubbish dump, would that be a punishable offence? What if one simply thought to oneself, in the course of one's daily meanderings, about how the rubbish dump isn't there any more? Is the local village council capable of detecting and prosecuting thought crimes?

And if so, what could one offer in one's defence? Any defence of a thought crime like this would have to hinge on philosophy, but it's no use looking to the French Existentialists for help; their definition of existence was limited to things that exist on the physical plane: from what I remember of Sartre, mainly tree roots, and door knobs, and scrunched up bits of paper. Sartre found these things frightening*, and would probably be deeply comforted by the thought of a rubbish dump that didn't exist, which wouldn't help your case any.

No, the philosopher you'd want as your expert witness would be our good friend Baudrillard, champion of all that is not real. You could rely on Baudrillard to explain that a notional rubbish dump - an idea of a rubbish dump - is just as real as a physically extant rubbish dump, possibly even more so. The rubbish dump itself may no longer exist, but the simulacrum of the rubbish dump that exists in one's memory or imagination is - to our mass-media-enfeebled minds - just as real as the original was.

Which I think is exactly what I'll say when the combined law enforcement agencies of the Valleys of the River Orb and River Jaur come knocking at my door at dead of night.

* That's hallucinogens for you. Don't do it, kids.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Blue Kitten

The best thing (and the way I've been feeling the past couple of months, possibly the only good thing) about being pregnant* is the vivid and epic dreams the condition appears to confer upon the sufferer expectant mother-to-be.

So far I've dreamt the following:

1. A horde of elephants stampeded through the landscaped gardens of my colonial estate in Africa, but thankfully spared a number of stone urns planted with petunias.

2. I had a fight with Mark Valley out of Boston Legal on top of a couple of cable cars, in a scene which I later felt owed more than a little to Moonraker.

3. I was lynched by Cornish Nationalists, paraded through the streets of Mawnan Smith and then burnt at the stake, naked and tied by the tongue to Jamie Oliver, while the Owlman of Portreath recited ancient incantations as our flesh started to melt and combine. Although that was more of a premonition, really.

4. A mysterious faun showed me the entrance to a secret labyrinth, and said I could only enter it if I successfully completed three tasks. I wrote down everything he said, because it turned out it was handy practice for learning the future tense in Spanish.

No, wait, that was an actual film.

I won't go on, as my dad once told me that other people's dreams are the most boring thing imaginable**. Also I can't remember any more.

* Yes indeed. It turns out that a lifetime of reading Elle Decoration and lounging about in recklessly hot baths - often at the same time - has in no way diminished Mr BC's awesome virility.

** Although this didn't deter him from telling me this morning that he'd dreamt an Italian string quartet had turned up unexpectedly on his doorstep and were impressed to find him watching Il Commissario Montalbano*** on Rai Uno.

*** A sort of Sicilian version of Bergerac.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Mighty, Fallen

I don't normally comment on the passing of blogs I like, as most lapsed bloggers seem to come crawling back to the big B eventually, like a bird on its belly.

But LC seems determined to give up this time, so I thought I ought to say a few words to mark the occasion.

Which is more than I did when LC first came to work in my team. I was going through a terribly bad patch at the time, what with my marriage breaking up and everything, and I felt barely capable of taking responsibility for myself, let alone anyone else.

So, like all great leaders of men, I addressed this situation by almost completely ignoring LC in the workplace, in fear that if I acknowledged him, he would immediately discern that I was a feckless and irresponsible waste of a human life masquerading as some sort of professional superior.

As far as I recall, this carried on for some time, until one day I noticed that some character calling himself 'LC' had left a comment on this very blog. My amazing powers of deduction, combined with the fact that LC had referred to me in this comment as his boss, led me to conclude that this could only be the 'LC' whom we had recently employed.

Naturally I was utterly mortified, especially as in one of my recent posts I had been contemplating the twin temptations of committing suicide and buying expensive French underwear, neither of which, I felt, endowed me with a great deal of professional gravitas.

The only redeeming aspect of the whole sorry experience was that it appeared that 'LC' also had a blog, which at least meant that I might not be alone in the public embarrassment stakes. I was far too scared to look at LC's blog at first, though, in case it referred to me as a feckless and irresponsible waste of a human life masquerading as some sort of professional superior.

Luckily I got over all of this eventually, and LC's blog became staple reading, and one of the few blogs that really, really made me laugh. His review of King Kong, for example, now sadly lost to the world, had me weeping tears of mirth at my desk.

Towards the end it seemed that the female blogosphere could be divided into four categories: those who'd slept with LC; those who wanted to sleep with LC; those whom LC wanted to sleep with, and those whose relationship with LC was strictly professional (if feckless, irresponsible and charlatanical) at all times. I suppose we'll have to find a new taxonomy now.

Unless he comes back, of course. Then we'll just have to forget that this post ever happened. We are British, after all; it doesn't do to display sentiment.

Friday, February 08, 2008


On the Newquay to Stansted flight on Wednesday evening, I had the misfortune to sit next to a couple of employees of a large American corporation whose name begins with G and ends in E with nothing in between.

Over the course of the flight, this pair found themselves to be in vigorous agreement on the following topics:

1. The proper way to refer to anti-war campaigners is 'feminazis'.

2. Dropping an atom bomb on Hiroshima was the only appropriate response to the fact that the Japanese had mercilessly killed 50,000 American soldiers on Iwo Jima. Furthermore, we (i.e. the Allies, presumably, as these young fellows were British, not American) graciously gave the Japanese ample time to reflect on the error of their ways, and only dropped a second atomic bomb when the Japanese stubbornly refused to stop killing American soldiers.

3. (My favourite) 'They' don't like having gays in the army because gays are too aggressive. Whereas straight soldiers abide by the Geneva Convention, gay soldiers do not know when to stop maiming and killing. (Using this logic, I can only deduce that the pilots of the planes who dropped the atom bombs on Japan were gay.) Furthermore, the reason that gay soldiers are so aggressive is that they are surrounded by fit young men who refuse to sleep with them.

I was quite glad when we landed fifteen minutes early.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Ten Embarrassing Songs I Like

Hot on the heels of Billy's and Betty's lists, here we have ten songs that I'm embarrassed to admit I really like, with accompanying YouTube videos.

Actually I'm embarrassed at *every* song that I like, with the result that I can't listen to music out loud if there's anyone else in the house, or even if I think that next door might be able to hear, in case they FORM AN OPINION of my musical taste. (I agonise every time I put an mp3 on the blog, too - oh, the psychological sacrifices I make in the name of blogging, etc.) If I wanted to listen to any of these out loud, I'd have to build myself a soundproof bunker on St Kilda first.

1. Gina G - Ooh Ah Just A Little Bit
My friend S. played this at my wedding, while dressed in an electric blue catsuit with a pair of fairy wings on the back. I danced so much at my wedding that when I arrived at my honeymoon destination, I couldn't walk for two days. I blame Gina G for that.

2. Savage Garden - I Want You
This is great because he sings all the words really fast. Also it sounds like a speeded up version of 'The Look' by Roxette, and speaking of which...

3. Roxette - The Look
Er, I don't really know why, but it's great, isn't it?

4. Robbie Williams and Kylie - Kids
I once invented a brilliant joke about how I was wearing hotpants when Kylie was still in short trousers, and I never miss an opportunity to say it again. This song is equally brilliant. Make of that what you will.

5. Billie Piper - Honey To The Bee
Yes, well, erm, *cough*, and moving swiftly along...

6. Mika - Grace Kelly
Even though the actual sight of Mika turns my stomach, this song is utter pop fabulousness. Although he's no Freddie Mercury, and speaking of which...

7. Queen - Killer Queen
Actually I'm not even sure I'm embarrassed to like this. How many other songs have got Moet & Chandon, Marie Antoinette, Khruschev and Kennedy all in the first verse? None, that's how many.

8. Guns 'n' Roses - Paradise City
I downloaded this out of nostalgia early last year when Mr BC sent me a brilliantly languid bossanova cover of it, and it's still on my iPod now.

9. Hanson - Mmm Bop
There is nothing wrong with liking this at all, as Tim and Chaucer's Bitch will attest.

10. Britney Spears - Baby One More Time
Poor Britney. Dalle stelle alle stalle, as the Italians say. This is still the greatest pop song ever written, I reckon.

Anyone else fancy a go?

Monday, February 04, 2008

Why I Love Jezebel

I'd like to say that I enjoy reading Jezebel because I identify with its liberal, feisty, feminist-in-a-good-way agenda, but actually it's just because the comments really make me laugh.

It's great watching smart young American ladies get all hot under the collar about Stephen Merchant, for example:

"I know it's so cliche to be into British accents but sorry, they are sexy. And he has that lovely Bristol, so very attractive."

By crikey. Imagine what would happen if they ever became aware of Phil Harding.

Attention American ladies: this man may make your panties go 'wheeee'.

Also, Jezebel is living proof that an American woman can be as serious and intellectual as she likes, but she's never above debating whether that's parsley or coriander (sorry, cilantro) that Rachel Bilson's sniffing in the supermarket:

"Appears to be parsley."
"Looks like Parsley to me. Not Italian flat-leaf, mind you, but the regular garnish-y kind."
"It's actually curly parsley, not the flat leaf kind."
"She's prob making some store-bought Mexican. Which would make a good case for the leafy greens being cilantro, but the leaves don't look flat enough so I'm going with parsley."
"Why would you smell parsley? It's not like basil or something. It just smells like green wet leaves."

And so on.

And it's thanks to Jezebel that on Friday I learned a brand new insult: 'reg'.

"What's a reg? Well, Mitt Romney is the ultimate reg, people who show up to Dane Cook shows are regs, MBAs are almost uniformly regs, people who work in the marketing department of successful software companies are usually regs."

According to that definition, I am, or at least used to be, a reg. And there was me thinking I was the complete opposite, viz. a 'hipster chick'.

I suppose the fact that I'm acquainted with the oeuvre of Phil Harding should have given it away, really.