Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Triple Action

Apparently William S Burroughs used to keep a notebook where the pages were divided into three.

1. What you are seeing/hearing
2. What you are thinking
3. What you are reading

I like this idea, although it sounds very tricky in theory. Must give it a go.

On the other hand Buckminster supposedly wore three wristwatches* which were set to the following times:

1. Where you started from
2. Where you are going 
3. The time at home 

It's hard to believe anyone in this day and age was bother with writing right across a notebook page or having one watch in, like some kind of LOSER.

* I do like the term "wristwatch". It sounds so overdone. Like saying "omnibus" for "bus" and so on.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Thick of It

Searching through my folders, I discovered a graph I did ages ago showing, for some reason, the age of the actor playing "Doctor Who"* since the show started. The other chart I did at the same time showing the difference in age between Terry Wogan and his female Children in Need co-presenter remains lost to the ages.

So I did what anyone would do. I updated it. It has a rather pleasing symmetry to it now, I'm sure you'll agree. (click to make larger, natch)

Bit late, if I'd done this I could have been famous with this. Well internet famous. Well probably not even that, truth be told, but there you go.

* Yeah, yeah I know.

Saturday, 1 June 2013


I was just reading David Runciman's review of Charles Moore's biography of Margaret Thatcher (there's a sentence with what feels like too much punctuation for its own good) in the London Review of Books.*

Apparently Thatcher didn't like the Jews very much until she became the MP for Finchley and then she found out she actually rather liked them.

The mild, unthinking anti-semitism of her early letters – she complained to Muriel of the ‘“tatty” tourists: Jews and novo [sic] riche’ she encountered in Madeira on her honeymoon – gave way to a strong admiration for her Jewish constituents, among whom she found many of the values she herself cherished. ‘My, they were good citizens,’ she later remarked, seeing Jews as ‘natural traders’ who managed ‘positively to get on by their own efforts’. 

This is clearly a possible solution for all kinds of prejudice which should be investigated by some kind of government agency. Are the politically correct brigade busy at the moment?

Or at the very least another idea for a documentary to add to the every increasing and teetering pile.

* the actual print version, mind, although it's available to read in full here.

Saturday, 16 March 2013


I do not like voicemail. It all seems to me a colossal waste of time. I'm not quite as bad as this person, but it's only a matter of time I feel.

My phone is on all the time. If someone rings me when I'm busy, or at work (of course I'm always busy when I'm at work this goes without saying etc etc) then I will get a missed call alert.

If I know the person, their number will be stored in my phone & I can call them back at the earliest opportunity.

If I don't know the number, then I won't answer, unless I'm expecting a call, because let's be honest, an unsolicited call is rarely going to be, well, solicited.

When I was job hunting, the recruitment agencies would call, it would go to voicemail & then they would leave a message*. Usually these messages were along the lines of "This is XXXX from XXXX, please call me back when you get the chance". 

My parents leave me long rambling voicemails which I never listen to, just call them back at the next opportunity. This works fine for me.

That covers my personal calls, but, as always, work is a whole different story. Generally speaking the person calling should know my email, or ring a group number, or someone else will pick up the phone. Inevitably the ones who manage not to tend to be the ones leaving an incomprehensible message, outside, near a loudspeaker, possibly with a thick accent. To add insult to injury the people who leave voicemail never have straightforward queries & always insist on describing them in full to the machine rather than insist I call back at the next opportunity, which is exceptionally annoying.  I'd set up a voicemail message saying, "my email is this, just send it there or call back later" if I were allowed. Unsurprisingly, I'm not.

I also hate leaving voicemail messages. I never ever bother with personal calls, but I'm supposed to at work to prove I called. For these I always try & be as succinct as possible, as above. I can't bear listening to my voice so I don't listen to the playback.

Doing this though, does make me wonder what the point is. I'm increasingly of the opinion that the best approach is: Don't bother with it people, there's much better ways to get in touch. Proof, were it needed, there's a little wiggly red line under every appearance above of the word "voicemail". 

* This could be a problem if their number came up as "unknown" on the phone & then I was out & about & they told me the number & I didn't have a pen, but that was my fault. Also, they'd often email me too which made my life easier & I could just take the number directly from the email.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012


Back in the heady days of 1997, my parents got cable TV. Satellite  having previously been resisted, presumably due to a combination of giving money to the sinister Murdoch-helmed empire and having a massive dish on the front the house.

Back in those days we didn't have the same number of compelling channels we do today. I think there were 60 or so, and a large number of those were foreign news channels. I recall particularly a Russian one. There was also, although this didn't last very long (I assume they were too expensive), CNN.

I'd never watched American news before although I did have a large number of judgmental and prejudiced ideas about what form and style it might take. These ideas turned out to be entirely correct (or I wouldn't have admitted to them just now) and I ended up watching it for amusement purposes*.

Now, the one thing I couldn't get all superior of was the provincial nature of the news, rarely was anything outside of the US covered. That's pretty much the same for our news here**, unless of course some British people happen to have been on holiday during the time that whatever news was occurring first occurred.

But since those days we now have rolling news on all channels, with those little tickers rolling along the bottom. The problem is often not much is happening so you end up with loads of coverage of a man outside a door and endlessly repeating himself.

Now I like the idea of endless grinding repetition, after all after a while it does start to get interesting*** but I can't bear to watch more than 1/2hr of news at any one time. Maybe that should be my next milestone.

* The best thing I was watched on CNN was their coverage of Lady Di's funeral. For some reason their insistence on referring to the M1 as simply "M1" really grated,

** Local news is amazing for this. When I grew up, the local news was inane to an astonishing degree, usually featuring a farmer in Wiltshire who was upset about something. When I moved to London, I assumed the local news would be packed full of excitement  but it fact it was just as bad although for "farmer" substitute "teacher" and for "Wiltshire" substitute "Willesden".

*** Zen innit. Or something. God, I've clearly been reading too much David Foster Wallace, far too many footnotes.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Thursday, 26 April 2012

It's "Political Correctness Gone Mad" Gone Mad

There is a rule, to be found on the internet, which states that a parody of something extreme can commonly be mistaken for the real thing and vice versa.

I had this in mind when I got a leaflet though the post advertising the forthcoming mayoral election. Now you might not know about this, as it isn't something often discussion on the television, radio or internet but apparently there is this election to decide who is going to be the next elected Mayor of London.

You may find it hard to believe but I find elections quite interesting as a whole. The last general election, with the whole activating the queen, and tracking a car driving from one house to another live from a helicopter was a case in point. I'd even watch coverage of a US election, on the grounds that it will certainly affect what goes on elsewhere, even if it is as incomprehensible to me as American football.

But the mayoral election isn't very interesting at all. In fact the most interesting thing is that the candidates drew lots to decide what order they were going to appear in the booklet.

The big three candidates are exactly the same ones as last time, looking slightly older, world-wearier as their visage appears next to colourful backgrounds, lists, and all the rigmarole of politics.

Given the mainstream guys are so boring, one can't help but find oneself reading up on the fringe guys, who together make up about 7% of the vote together (it's hard to tell with all of this 2nd preference stuff)

I can't remember if I just imagined it, but I'm sure someone promoted the idea that if a parking meter was broken you could park for free, prompting some wag to point out you could just kick in the nearest parking meter every time you parked.

I suppose if you're a fringe candidate you can just make up any old shit, secure in the knowledge it won't matter so I'm interested in UKIP's "20 minutes free parking" idea. I can only assume they will be building car parks down to the mantle.

But it's the BNP who baffled me beyond all rational comprehension this time, so I am assuming under the law mentioned above, must have been replaced by some satirical organisation hell-bent on ridiculing the far right.

I mean for crying out loud their candidate is called Carlos Cortiglia. My first assumption was that he was born here to parents from foreign, but no, he is actually from foreign! And a non-English speaking foreign too. Oh apparently Uruguay was built on British ideals. Didn't the Spanish nick it from some natives? Not much Britain there.

Okay, he is white, but still. Does that somewhat defeat the point?

Still I think he wins some kind of chutzpah* for introducing a policy to make tube travel free at weekends, whilst simultaneously abolishing the congestion charge. Nice one!

* Sorry I think that's a foreign word. I should be using traditional British languages like Welsh or Norse really.