The tradition continues

Oh dear. It seems that I’ve entirely neglected this place; my last post was over two months ago and this will only be my seventeenth post this year. And strangely I’ve not missed it this time. Other times I’ve not posted for months I’ve had things to say and things to write about and have planned posts in my head without ever writing them down. This time? Nothing.

Given the content of my most recent post that’s hardly surprising. But I suppose I should just admit defeat and declare this place on hiatus for the time being.

Will I be back? I honestly don’t know. If the blog disappears then I’ve decided that I won’t be; if I start writing again then I’ll have reached a different decision. Time will tell.

Happy Christmas, though. To one and all.

This was the week that was

So, it’s been a week since my life got flipped, turned upside down. This time last week I was a relatively responsibility free1 fella with a couple of nice things on the horizon but no real appreciation of what those things would mean.

Later on last Friday, I got that wake up call.

This is my new favourite position

This is my new favourite position

Yes, TLW(AMOMC) and I are now the proud cleaner-uppers after a young lad to be referred to as BBB.

Lord help us. And Lord help our neighbours, for they get the fun of hearing him test his lungs at 3am without the awesomeness of having him in their lives. Sorry ’bout that.


1 – Obviously, for a given value of responsibility free. Employment, mortgage, taxes, etc are all burdensome responsibilities and married life plus dog ownership are responsibilities but not burdens.

I can’t find a logical difference

What do you call it when a group of people on small boats attempt to board and gain control of a larger boat on the high seas? If it happens off the east coast of Africa, or around Indonesia, it’s called piracy, and the international community goes apeshit about it, deploying warships and having complicated legal wrangling parties to try and figure out the correct place to try the pirates.

If it happens off the Arctic coast of Russia, they just seem to go for a simpler approach.

Greenpeace has called on Russia to release a ship seized in the Arctic with 30 activists on board.

The Russian coastguard is towing the ship towards the city of Murmansk, a journey expected to take several days.

Four of the Greenpeace activists had tried to board a Gazprom oil rig on Wednesday, to protest against drilling.

Russia accused Greenpeace of violating an exclusion zone around the rig, but the group said its ship was in international waters.

“The safety of our activists remains our top priority and we are working hard to establish what is facing them,” said Ben Ayliffe, head of Greenpeace International’s Arctic oil campaign.

“They have done nothing to warrant this level of aggression and have been entirely peaceful throughout,” he said.

I would argue with that, Mr Ayliffe; if your activists had been trying to board a vessel without permission (and they did, for they promoted the fact and even brought along video) then they were carrying out an act of violence. And they should have known that the Russians, not a nation known for restraint when people mess about with their interests, would have little time for your silly crusades. These are the people who locked up a music group because they were mean about the president, remember – they’re hardly likely to give a shit about the feelings of a group of eco-nutters with more time and money than sense.

I really dislike the Russian way of doing things, most of the time. But this time I find myself quietly amused.

The right response, in a long winded way

Some might expect me to be talking about the Lewisham hospital shenanigans, wherein one branch of the state has sued another branch of the state to ensure that the state keeps spending money it hasn’t got on things that need to be shaken up. Yes, I think that Lewisham should be kept open, for both selfish (it’s my closest hospital) and non-selfish (IMO, it’s clinically better than the one that was to be saved at Lewisham’s expense) reasons. But I disagree fundamentally with the idea that the courts were the place to sort this, and I almost hope that the decision is overturned on appeal, because the precedent is very very nasty.

But this post isn’t about that; this post is about a local pub’s shenanigans.

The background from last November was this: the owner of a building in Catford wanted to end the lease of their tenant (a successful and popular bar) and turn it into flats and a shop. The tenants didn’t like this at all (fair enough), and created a bit of a public fuss (again, fair enough) and campaigned for the council to block any change of use for the building (bloody out of order). This then worked, because there’s nothing Lewisham council like more than extending their business into places where it shouldn’t be, for e.g. what a property owner chooses to use his business premises for. So the owner was left with a building that could only be used as a pub because the tenants convinced the council to make it so.

This displeased me, and I wrote about it last year:

The landlord is now left with a building that can’t be anything but a pub. But the tenants in it are clearly a bunch of twats. So what I’d do in his position is get rid of the tenants and bring in new ones to run a pub.

Fast forward to this week:

THE Catford Bridge Tavern pub – saved from being turned into a supermarket and later voted the best in south east London – is being sold off.

Company Antic say the landlord has agreed to sell the building to another pub company.

Max Alderman from Antic said: “The building was always for sale and we were trying to buy it.

“We thought we had an agreement but the landlord has decided to sell it to someone else.”

Fair play to the landlord, I think. Because if it was me, the last person I’d sell it to would be the one who bullied me by bringing the state to the argument and lowering the value of the property.

I’m sad to see what was by all accounts a brilliant pub have to shut. But I’m not sad to see the people who took the steps they did lose out in the end.

Well done them

Apparently there has been a Royal baby. Huzzah and all that. Well done them.

The thing that impresses me about the whole thing, however, is not that there is a baby (I’m reliably informed that lots of babies arrive every day), nor that there is a Royal (for they seem to be ten a penny and history shows us that they’ve rarely had trouble continuing). It’s that someone within the palace looked at all the waiting people outside the palace and the hospital and all the waiting media and clearly decided: fuck ‘em. Let them wait while we do our thing.

I hope it was the new parents, because that would speak very well of their priorities.

Low key. And excellent.

Many, many moons ago, I watched a little movie that captured my soul a bit. It was low-budget, it featured few names that anyone would recognise, it had nothing in the way of special effects, and it didn’t have the pay-off at the end that we’ve been trained to expect by larger studio efforts. But it had character, it had songs which drove straight into me, and it was believable. That film was Once, and I was far from alone in being a fan of it. It won an Oscar, and some attention from Broadway types, who decided to adapt it for their nefarious money making purposes.

I was extremely sceptical of this; I was sure at the time that they’d kill the soul of the show by insisting on making it big and/or brash, or that they’d add the traditional USian syrup to it. I thought that it’d end up being a sickly sweet, showy effort that had the songs of the original (and maybe even the same words), but none of the character that made the film great.

Happily, I was wrong. TLW & I, along with other family members and the rest of a birthday party, saw the show yesterday. It wasn’t quite as good as the original, but it had the soul and the heart of it down pat. The changes necessary for the stage worked, and the changes to characters worked, and the feel of it worked. They didn’t put on a big show of it and didn’t make it brash. They just acted the parts, sang the beautiful songs and pulled at your heartstrings just like the film did.

Some little tweaks were excellent; the fact that the set (a bar) doubled as the main bar for the theatre meant that the audience could walk about in it before and after the show. And instead of the show having a clear start, the musicians just appeared in the middle of the set as people ordered drinks around them and started having a little jamming session – I imagine that if someone charged for drinks in the corner of Nelly‘s sitting room it would feel the same on a random evening.

In short: go and see it. It is a thing of great beauty, and it will make your soul happy.

Flashbacks to 2004

It’s been a while since I did one of these, so I figured I should just follow the example of Nelly and get involved.


You Are 50% Left Brained, 50% Right Brained


The left side of your brain controls verbal ability, attention to detail, and reasoning.
Left brained people are good at communication and persuading others.
If you’re left brained, you are likely good at math and logic.
Your left brain prefers dogs, reading, and quiet.

The right side of your brain is all about creativity and flexibility.
Daring and intuitive, right brained people see the world in their unique way.
If you’re right brained, you likely have a talent for creative writing and art.
Your right brain prefers day dreaming, philosophy, and sports.

Entirely predictable

So, Thatcher is dead. And arseholes, up and down the country, are being arseholes about it. From random street parties, to lots of people on ye olde Twitter and Facebook celebrating, there are a lot of people who are showing that time hasn’t healed old wounds.

And the thing I like about it is that most of them are showing that they’ve successfully failed to notice that the last twenty years happened.

They’re still insisting on acting like breaking the over-powerful unions is an issue. It isn’t. They needed to be broken, they were broken, and we’ve all moved on.

They’re still insisting that nationalised companies are good ideas, and they’re generally doing so while using phones and internet connections that never would have happened had the GPO still been in charge.

They’re still insisting that the state should be propping up failed industry, but don’t seem to have figured on what the entrance of pseudo-communist business practices from China would have done to any labour-intensive heavy industry in this part of the world.

Of course, the thing that I most like about it is that a lot of the things that they blame Thatcher for aren’t actually anything to do with her. These things were to do with the world changing at the same time as she was in power. They’re upset that the world moved on from their silly ideals, and they can’t get past the fact that those silly ideas are now exposed to the ridicule they deserve. They still witter on about how Marx would have done X and how they’re looking forward to being able to piss on Thatcher’s grave, not noticing that even Marx’s grave is pretty secure from people who detest him.

In short: their hatred and bile reflects two things. Anger at losing, and anger at everyone knowing they lost.

(Well, maybe a third thing: that hatred learned young survives a long time.)

We’ve finally found her ancestry

Roxy, our delightful hound, was advertised to us as a mongrel. Her paperwork actually mentions that she’s a Staffordshire Bull Terrier cross, without mentioning what the cross is. We’ve considered whippet, but our main thinking is that she’s got a bit of ridgeback in her.

Other sources for her build and temperament have been suggested. A popular one was Scrappy Do, for her somewhat over-confident nature and never-say-die attitude. Of course, if there is ridgeback in her, then we shouldn’t expect anything else. They were bred to take down lions, after all.

I can now confidently put all that to rest, though. I’ve discovered her ancestry: she is clearly part SBT part Gremlin.

roxy-compare-2

roxy-compare

Rest assured, all steps have been taken to manage the threat posed by this new information. All water is now out of bounds, and she is strictly denied food after midnight.

And now, the end has come. It’s finally over.

The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. In one Age, called the Third Age by some, an Age yet to come, an Age long past, a wind rose in the Mountains of Mist. The wind was not the beginning. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.

The last book in the 23 year, four million word Wheel of Time saga has now been and gone. Five years after the creator died, his notes have been plundered to finish the tale he started.

And it was a worthy end, although perhaps the last fifty pages felt a bit rushed. But it’s done now, and we know what happens to the immense cast of characters and their individual battles.

Which means that there now is a full picture of what is needed, so whoever decides to make a Game of Thrones style TV series knows what they’re getting into. Unlike, for example, Game of Thrones. Where the author is completely rubbish when it comes to publishing things in any kind of prompt fashion…

An unexpected turn of events

Yesterday morning, I had a plan. I had the next few days mapped out.

  1. Normal day until about lunchtime, then a particularly challenging bit of work. Leave work at an earlyish time.
  2. Meet up with TLW in That There London, have a bite to eat, go to see a new musical that various people had raved about.
  3. Head home and get as much sleep as possible.
  4. Wake up early, get to Heathrow and get on a plane to New York to enjoy a nice break. This break would include attending a bar that opens at 9am on a Sunday just to watch the Ireland / England 6 Nations game.
  5. Home in good time for a relaxed return to work on Thursday of next week.

I thought this was a nice plan. It certainly felt nice to me, and we were both looking forward to steps 2, 3, 4 & 5. Life, however, decided that it would be having none of it. What occurred was more like this:

  1. Bloody busy day, resulting in delays, the particularly challenging bit of work being knocked back to next week, and getting out later than I’d like.
  2. The meeting up working fine; the meal working fine. But the musical was very, very, very wank. The word ‘wank’ does not come close to describing just how wank this piece of wank was.
  3. Heading home, we got an email from our airline apologising for their reservation centre being closed. This was confusing enough that we went digging and found out about the small matter of a little snow and hundreds of flights being cancelled. This is not a good recipe for a decent nights sleep.
  4. Waking up early to phone the reservation centre to be told that the only flight they could put us on would result in our break being 48 hours long, in total, for the same price as the 96 hour break we’d book. Next step: cancelling airline booking, hotel, currency exchange and airport parking. Next step: declaring the whole effort a write off and fucking off with TLW to London Zoo to look at animals.
  5. Plan for the rest of the weekend: watch rugby, and then cancel leave and return to work on Monday.

The real life set of circumstances did not match up to the plan at all. And London Zoo, while alright, is pretty quiet on a Friday in February. So half the exhibits are temporary while the main ones are being rebuilt, and all the fun animals are hiding inside. Oh well.

Time to plan another holiday, I think…

A scarily long time

Ten years ago today, I pushed publish on a old a battered piece of software, and this appeared on the internet:

This is my first attempt at a post. So there’s not actually anything here.
But hey, I’ll give it a go.
:lol

I was young, immature, had too much time on my hands and too many idiotic thoughts in my head that I thought the world needed to hear.

Ten years, 5,272 posts, 6,531 comments, 409,072 spam comments and over a hundred thousands visitors (apparently) later, I’m still here. Much less so; I went from doing about 800 posts in my first year to doing 50 last year, and the number of comments made in the last year was even smaller. But I’m still here, still immature, have significantly less time on my hands and still have far too many idiotic thoughts in my head. Considerably less young, though.

For how much longer I’ll be here, or the blog will be here, I know not. As long as I can find a couple of things every month that I feel like talking shit about, I suppose…

Turning back the clock

Yesterday, TLW & I joined a couple of dozen thousand people and had a little walk to a park, in aid of a very good cause. That cause being trying to stop the closure of a local, and pretty decent, hospital to prop up the finances of another almost local, and thoroughly shite, hospital.

My reasons for supporting this are simple:

  1. I would trust the local hospital with my life and the lives of those near and dear to me, based upon what I’ve seen of them and what I’ve hear about them. I would trust the other hospital with neither, and would happily sit bleeding on a train for half an hour to get to another hospital just to avoid a ten minute trip to the A&E there.
  2. The reason that this closure is being considered is that the almost-local hospital needs more business thrown at it to fund the PFI contract that built it – but that’s already been tried, three years ago, and it evidently didn’t work.

However, a great many other people who were there annoyed me to the point that I almost changed my mind. Amongst them the local Unison convener (apparently you can never trust a tory with the NHS, never mind that it was Labour who (a) bankrupted the country, (b) thought up this particular gem of a PFI contract and (c) already tried rearranging the local hospitals to fund said PFI, failing absolutely); the head of the FBU (who really wants us to go back to the heady days of the 1980s and solidarity thatcher bastards bullshit) and the local Labour MP (failed to mention anything about why this particular bunch of bankruptcy happened).

But my particular favorite wasn’t one of the main speakers, like those mentioned above. No, it was a charming gentleman who had set up a PA on his bike, and was saying that there was a better way that we all could live without these tory cunts, and that it was being shown to work in Venezuela! Yay, we can Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! just like they do with the dear Mr Chavez. I had a read through their newspaper, and was shocked to find that apparently the murder of a prison officer in Norn Iron recently was to be applauded as he was clearly a nasty imperialist; how the situation in Syria is clearly another British imperialist plot; how the progressive immigration policy of Cuba was going to destroy the United States. Oh, and how it is a shame that housing projects begun under the previous and benevolent Gaddafi-led government in Libya are not yet finished…

I’ll be honest, it’s even worse tripe than was to be found in the Socialist Worker Student Society back in the day, and that’s saying something.

It’s a shame – this hospital campaign is a sensible one. And of the 15 – 25,000 people who were there on Saturday, there’s probably only a few dozen who think like this. But by fuck, they were among the loudest there, and people were listening.

(Anyway – ignore the twats: Save Lewisham A&E.)

Perfect location casting

A couple of years ago, TLW & I had cause to go on a bit of a mission to the darkest North West of England for a family do. The accommodation was arranged for us; we just got given an address to turn up to and check in. We did so, and then (as tradition demands) we headed to the bar of the accommodation for a pint.

The place was very strange; a motel in the arsehole of nowhere, with strange acts on and a strange clientele. We all felt that it was kind of phoenix nights meets grab-a-granny, but without any of the charm. In short, it was very depressing.

Last week, I started watching Utopia, a new and strange show on Channel 4. Early on in the first show, they needed to have a location where a man on the edge would go, where they could contemplate ending their life as bits of it threatened to fall down around them.

motel

They seem to have found the perfect motel in the arsehole of nowhere, wouldn’t you agree?

I usually don’t complain about these lot, but…

There is a general theme amongst many of those condemned to use SouthEastern that they are totally useless; for examples of this I would urge the reader to have a look at the #southeastern hashtag on any given day, especially during the morning or evening rush.

I tend not to join in with this abuse, despite some of it being really amusing and being about a topic that I tend to get annoyed about myself. And this is why: there are a great many reasons why southeastern are the way they are, and only some of them are their fault. Many are the fault of Network Rail; many are the fault of whoever decided that the network to the south of London didn’t need overhead line electrification and could stick with the third rail; and some are the fault of the governments that ‘privatised’ without giving people any incentive to invest, any room to innovate, or even the opportunity to buy the damn rolling stock. Essentially, southeastern are stuck with a railway built on Victorian underpinnings, with the constant threat of the government taking away their franchise, and with ever increasing demand. What chance do they have of doing things properly?

Today, however, in the midst of snowmageddon ’13, I came to share in some of the hatred.

This morning was bad enough; there’d been no fresh snow for about six hours when I tried to board my usual train, only to find that it was cancelled. Happily, I managed to get the very last standing space on the very last carriage of a train going in the right direction – albeit one that was already an hour late. This mystery train stopped at such exotic (and fairly pointless) places as New Cross, Lewisham and St Johns, instead of bypassing them as the good Lord intended. Due to the previous day’s snow, the end result was me being late to work by around 40 minutes. Not the end of the world, but not pleasant. At least the driver of the train explained what was happening and tried to add a bit of humanity to the journey.

Given how the rails looked during the day, I then decided I’d try to be smart; I’d fuck off early and do a chunk of work from home in the afternoon. A brilliant plan, I’m sure you’ll agree.

And like any plan, it failed to survive first contact with the enemy:
2013-01-21 14.45.58

And here’s where I started to really dislike the southeastern operation. We live in a world with computers, and screens, and mobile apps, and drivers having mobile telephones. How, then did southeastern decide to run London Bridge? By letting all the passengers gather on the platforms, give them nothing to go by on the screens, and then randomly shout destinations and platform numbers at them and see how quickly people could run.

Passengers for the Dartford via Greenwich line, please move to platform one where a train will take you to Cannon Street, where I’m told a train might be leaving along that line soon…

Passengers for all stations to Sidcup, please be aware that there is a train for that line currently awaiting departure from Charing Cross.
Passengers for all stations to Sidcup, please be aware that there is now no scheduled service to that line for the next while as the train at Charing Cross is now a Gravesend service…

Passengers for Greenwich via Deptford, the train about to leave platform one is for you…

Each of these trains probably costs seven figures. Each of the drivers is on a decent salary. Could we not work out some fecking way of investing £99 in the cabin of each so that if the Network Rail infrastructure goes down, at least the drive could send a damn message to the stations on the route so that they can tell people what’s going where?

Also: the snow that fell probably amounted to 5 or 6 inches. Whyfor with the panic?

At lease someone liked it:2013-01-21 15.42.38

Brilliance in education

I’m not saying that this particular educational aid should be used at primary level, but surely we can all agree that by GCSE level each and every pupil will know about the existance of each word. And they should damn well know the meaning of most of them as well. Please to put it on the curriculum.

found at dummies-for-destruction.co.uk

This was found at Lyle’s place, and I’ll give the credit to him, despite him saying that it’s not his.

Happy Christmas

Looking back, I forgot to do post this last year. Other things were getting in the way, I think. So it’s not nine years in a row that I’ve used the same random message for Christmas – it’s seven, then a gap, then back again.

Happy Christmas, folks.

2012 in review

OH-2012

2012 did not start well for me. December 2011 contained loss, death, stress and funerals, and that carried over into the new year. I was not a happy camper at the start of the year.

It got better, though. TLW & I took the demon hound on her first holiday and to see my lot in Norn Iron; after that we left her at home and enjoyed breaks in Bruges, Jersey and then one in Cape Town. I changed job and have enjoyed it thus far, despite now having to spend a fortune on TfLs services. We’ve been to musicals, pantomime and have the ballet lined up for next week.

We’ve grabbed a bit of life this year, and have made the most of it. Let’s see what happens next year…

Such a shame

It would appear that excellence of driving and a fair wind aren’t quite enough to overturn not having a very competitive car. Poor Alonso, well done Vettel. And well done to the pair of you for providing a most entertaining season, and an excellent end to it.

In more pleasing news, it was nice to see the two main challenges to United trip over each other. Hurrah.