Thursday, October 28, 2004

Half term fun and frolics

Blimey, no updates for a week! It seems my verbosity and need to continually spew observation somewhere has found some limit. No, actually I’m off work this week and instead of spending all day sat in front of the computer like a proper geek I’ve been doing things with (shock) other people. Some of this has been good, some of it not so good. I’ll spare you all the boring details.

What is worrying is that, just as I remember half term at school seeming to be amazingly short compared to the endlessness of a week of school, the time has flown so quickly. And now it’s Thursday night and I’ve got an insatiable urge to do something creative, but no block of time to devote as we’re busy for the next couple of days, and no particular projects in mind. The fact that I’ve not done anything creative for a week or so makes me feel rather empty, despite the fact that I have been having a good time. And the fact that I’ve got no particular projects in mind makes me worry that nothing in particular will come to mind ever again. Actually, writing that seems to have stirred some thoughts, I can feel them bubbling under, but they need time...


Today’s holiday treat for me and Amy was a visit to the spa. I’d never been to one before and it was grand. Spent some time dashing from sauna to ice room to tropical shower to ice shower (in true hot/cold slightly masochistic but very refreshing Scandinavian style), followed by much sitting around in various bubbling things and a massage. Bliss.


A good email today:

Just read your "review" of The Cremaster Cycle.
Then looked at your gallery.
Jealous, are we?
You are not fit to wipe Matthew Barney's arse.


one year

28th October 2003 – the day my mum died. I raised a glass this afternoon with Amy and I’ve just been having a look at my diary from the time. Feeling a bit sad right now, I may post some of my old scribblings later... although I don’t want to depress anyone too much.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Non-adherence to the social contract and a needless waste of time, effort and care

After writing about my loss of words this morning I managed to get to work and, within 5 minutes, get in an argument with a customer that partly resulted from the same problem… and partly resulted from herself being a complete bitch.

The situation was that she had reserved a book to replace a faulty copy which she had bought fromWheelergate. But even when she came to collect the book she was in a foul mood. She then proceeded to have a go at Helen (as though she were at school) when she didn’t find her replacement copy quickly enough. I stepped in (rather ineloquently I must admit) but managed to apologise for the faulty book (not our fault, a publishing error) and explain why we couldn’t post the replacement copy. But she then continued to have a go at Helen and, when I told her I thought it was rather rude to do this, she told me I should attend some customer service training lessons. Again I was not witty with my retort, and simply replied “funny, I was thinking the same about you”, at which point the “I’d like to speak to the manager” card was invoked and I had to walk away.

My analysis of this situation has been veering off on several tangents all day. Firstly I’m annoyed that I keep thinking about it as it was a pretty minor event, although perhaps the most major event in my day. Secondly I’m annoyed that I didn’t manage the convincing and witty reply to this woman’s rudeness that she deserved. Anyone who comes out with “I’ve had to pay bus fare and cancel an appointment” when they’re collecting a £6.99 chick-lit paperback is clearly already far up the spout and only deserves subtle scorn and poor service. Instead I came out with a slightly nonsensical reply which, while getting a vaguely annoyed point over, didn’t stand up as the fair and reasonable response I would have liked. Thirdly, that I experienced such a ‘fight or flight’ adrenaline-fuelled response when I did talk to her. Why can’t my body behave like my mind and realise this doesn’t matter? Getting all worked up is not going to help whatsoever, calm and collected is where it’s at. Fourth, the fact that after being reasonably polite for a reasonable period I’m expected to continue being polite to someone who is needlessly a fuck. If someone has a fair complaint, if I have done something wrong, then fine, I’ll apologise. But why is the customer always right when they storm in and treat you like shit? They’re not, they deserve to be told so. There is a social contract at work here and you can’t just wander around treating people like shit and expect to be treated well in return. FUCKER.


Thursday, October 21, 2004

cinema time

We couldn’t be bothered to go to the cinema yesterday, even though I quite fancied it. Instead I got home from work to find Amy had brought the cinema to me. No smoking signs, hotdogs from a tin, popcorn, a ridiculously big drink (courtesy of my Seven Eleven 1.5 litre mug I got in Canada): all present and correct. What a treat!

We watched Resident Evil which, despite being fairly badly directed for the most part (Paul, I see what you mean about Paul W.S. Anderson and his muddy vision), was fairly entertaining. Once again I can only put this down to my innate love of sci-fi horror, I just like the idea of a great big underground, hi-tech haunted house and it brought back fond memories of playing Half-Life and System Shock (looking very much like the former and with a scary AI very much like the latter). There’s no good reason why a film should look like a game, and no good reason why I should like such badly directed action, but somehow it just worked for me. I’m never going to watch it again though, things can only get worse from here!

losing the power of s p e e c h

I’ve been noticing (again) that I seem to be losing the power of speech. I don’t know exactly why this is, but I just seem to be having more and more difficultly stringing a sentence together. I don’t think I’ve ever been a great "talker", I seem to manage more eloquence and coherence when I write things down (not that I’m claiming to be a great writer), but things are definitely getting worse.
Or meaningful comments to make.

Perhaps my brain doesn’t work fast enough to sustain conversation, it needs the space of an empty margin to work ideas through. Perhaps there’s something about the physical presence of another person that stops it expressing all those ideas which seem too complex to explain, or sound too ridiculous when spoken, but somehow come alive when on the page. Perhaps I’ve just been in a strange mood, but unaware of it. Perhaps I’m really vain and only want to comment on my own ideas and not join the conversations of others. Perhaps it’s my memory not acting properly and forgetting previous conversations and time, thus putting me off-balance with the nagging thought that there’s something I want to ask about...

That’s a lot of perhaps.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004


A passive day today, intake instead of creation. A lie-in instead of up-and-at-em, reading instead of writing and not a whole lot else.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Mmmmmmmmm and hmmmmmm

Spent most of the day alternately cooking and eating. A nice roast, some apple pie, wine, women and song… well, not so much of that, but my brother and pete and ernie and amy. Still felt a bit grumpy though, don’t know why. I think I’ve got a bit of a cold coming on, but I have been on a bit of a roller-coaster all week so I might just be a grumpy bastard.

Regardless, it was a great day, except for the bit where my hand got burnt by some errant pie filling.


There was a lack of good Sunday-afternoon films today, although there was some early evening fun to be gained from 3 men and a (X). Didn’t actually watch it in the end, but I did enjoy a graphic rendering courtesy of Danny at Made me giggle.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

more veirs

paul reckons Carbon Glacier is good, but not great. i've not heard it all, but you can stream 4 of the tracks from nonesuch records. Ether Sings and Shadow Blues are particularly good and have more of the spare and less of the country sound to them.

House of leaves – some comments

I just finished reading House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. I think it was great, although I’m still not 100% sure... it certainly was very impressive.

The first thing that draws you in is the self-reflexive post-modern construction of the narrative – the main, almost academic, part of the story is written by Zampano as an exploration of a documentary film called The Navidson Record, while around the edges exists the story of Johnny Truant who has discovers Zampano’s stuff and sets about recreating his book. Johnny puts in several interludes and numerous footnotes, and frequently insults the main text or points out that none of the references cited seem to exist. For Johnny the story is fiction, but so dense and scholarly (and affecting) that it must be true, it must be him that is at fault. Naturally the reader falls into the role of Johnny, or at least takes Johnny to be a guide. In this way the fiction becomes reality, to believe in Johnny is to believe in Zampano, even though Johnny can’t quite work out how much of this is true. It’s not dissimilar from something like Paul Auster’s use of himself as a character in his books, it adds a fake element of reality that brings credence to the parts of the story that are outright fiction and makes the world presented eminently believable.

This is all very smart. Despite the academic passages often being deliberately obtuse (how many of us would sit down and choose to read a 500 page work on a film we’d never heard of?) the story contained within, and around, keeps the reader captivated, as does trying to spot the join between genuine scholarship and fiction (for example, Pierre Menard, Jorge Louis Borge’s fictional writer of Don Quixote is quoted at one point, while other fictional quotes are attributed to real people).

The Navidson Record itself is the story of Will Navidson and his family. A prize-winning photographer, he has finally decided to quit the travelling and dangers of photojournalism for a quiet, domestic life with his family. They move into an old house in Virginia and all seems well, until a doorway to a seemingly endless labyrinth opens in their lounge. Navidson takes it upon himself to explore this place and try to work out what it is.

Cleverer still is the use made of typography and layout in conjunction with content to give the story a visual element. The chapter where we’re lost in the house is incredibly dense with footnotes and more footnotes that refer back to other footnotes, and lists that continue over several pages and form three-dimensional structures thanks to their placement over these pages (doors, corridors, windows). The text takes shape to reflect the labyrinth it is describing, slows the pace of reading and makes reading into the exploration as the reader has to flick back and forth between passages and rotate the book to correctly orientate different sections of the text. This is hard work, but ultimately very rewarding. (I’ve been learning about visual poetry recently from visualizing poetics, I would certainly describe much of this typographic experimentation as extended visual poetry.)

In a latter section the pace speeds up and there are only a few words per page, again arranged to reflect the objects in the story and again, thanks to the speed of page turning, imbuing the reader with a real, visceral feeling of the way the events are unfolding.

So where’s the problem? Well, although this stuff is often very good there are times when the idea is better than the execution, times when you just want to say: OK, I get the point! It is a long book. But then again, without the length I’d probably complain that it didn’t explore these ideas to the fullest or that it wasn’t immersive enough to work as intended. I think it’s probably fairer to say that it is one of those books that you have to be in the right frame of mind for, it is not something you can read a couple of pages of before bed. It’s probably the times I tried to do this that have sold it short.

In sum, well worth a look but be prepared to put effort in. Only then will you be able to sit back and enjoy a creation which, at its best, moves beyond literature (post-modern, avant-garde, new, unusual, visual, textured, dense, layered, clever but, most importantly, not pretentious... unlike my use of "self-reflexive" above!).

whence this creative energy?

I’ve been amazed at the number of words tumbling from my fingers today (almost 2000 before 9am, ridiculous!), but I’ve finally worked out why. It turns out I’ve been subconsciously skiving. I didn’t realise until an hour ago when my manager phoned to see why I wasn’t at work, but I think part of me must have known. It’s that same feeling as when you pulled a sicky at school, suddenly everything was great because you were supposed to be doing something else, hence today’s energy! Furthermore this illustrates my increasing ineptitude toward work (although to be fair I thought I was in tomorrow, and while I often have Thursdays off, I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t in on a Friday).

Suddenly this all seems very amusing.

two stories


Hiding out

It’s late, hours after school finished. I’m hiding out in the woods. Sitting in a dell, surrounded by tall trees, the late summer’s evening light filtering through their broad green leaves. In the distance I can hear the murmur of traffic, a constant babble that sounds far away, but close enough that I know I’m not really alone.

I have a stick in my hands and I move the dirt in front of me around with it. Pushing this way and that, sketching out arcane shapes and letters before I obliterate them with a wipe of my shoe. School was bad today. Malignant is perhaps the word I’d use, if I knew it. The feeling that there is something lurking beneath the surface, that all of this is being taught to me for some evil purpose which I have yet to fathom. Indoctrination into their system. But no, that can’t be right. Knowledge is power, knowledge is pleasure, without knowledge where would we be? Nowhere, but unable to question that nowhere. A double-edged sword of course.

It’s nice in the woods though. The air is cool, its scent alternating between the damp of the earthy loam on the ground, and the tang of the manure recently spread on the fields nearby, a tang that startles me every time the breeze blows. I’m content; I think I’ll sit here for a while longer. It feels free in this place, no pressure, no expectation. Independent. Perhaps I’ll hide out here for a while. Live off my wits and the fruits of the land (what fruits in this land? Discarded condom wrappers and mars bar wrappers and fizzy drink cans. Old traffic cones and stone circles blackened by fire and filled with nothing but ash. Where is the nutrition here?). But I’ll worry about that later. For now I need do nothing, I can relax.

Leaning back I rest my head on the bark of the tree behind me. It yields slightly, not soft but too sappy and alive to be really hard. The canopy above is getting darker now, the sun dropping below the horizon, cheering my neighbours with its orange and purple and pink nightly show.

If they’re watching.

The sky I can see, visible through the support structure of boughs and expansive spread of leaves, is turning to black. Soon the stars will be shinning down, showing me light from eons past, showing me how small I am sat here, yet filling me with spirit. Because this doesn’t matter, this only matters to me. It is nothing what I do, no expectation should be felt because nothing that is expected of me will matter, ever. But everything I do will matter to me, will be me.

I close my eyes and drift away, dreaming of far off stars and planets, dreaming of nothing but what I choose.

When I awake it is a long time later.


On the bus

FULL of people. Sweaty, hot, smelly, damp from the rain soaked clothing. Stuck in traffic. The light is failing, the sun has dropped away from us all. The people are sad. They talk about nothing on their phones, talk loudly to convince others of their happiness and joy at this life. The sky is grey, it is still raining. It will never stop. The traffic lights are red, but no traffic goes the other way, no one is going back. We are all going forward. Except the light is red. But there are no men working on the road, only cones and flashing lights and half-finished excavations – if such a concept is logically possible, how deep is a whole hole? The traffic lights are red. At the back of the bus a child screams, picking up on the abject horror that is so palpable but so taboo that only the child can release. Only the babe can vocalise. Only he can loose this naïve scream against it all. The traffic lights are red. The girl across the isle has a swanky phone. Every time she gets a message it rings for several seconds, loud, sharp, polyphonic (what else? Where next for these phones? Have they realised their terminology has run out?). Each time she pushes a button in disgust, realising – at least she has realised, unlike so many others – the painfulness of this sound. But she doesn’t DO anything to change it, she does not try to find an options screen, she does not spare 30 seconds to find the right menu and change the options, perhaps lazy, perhaps stupid, perhaps unthinking, perhaps perhaps. The traffic lights are red; there is no other traffic. We sit alone in this private hell of our creation. The man in front of me has some headphones on, the music is loud, I catch occasional beats and the squall of white noise formed by the treble. It sounds rapid, drum and bass perhaps, but he does not move to the beat, does not dance. He uses it defensively, blocking, keeping him sectioned (ahh, to be Sectioned) from this place; forming a force-field around him, a field of safety, safe from intrusion but actually intruding on me. The traffic lights are red. Towards the front of the bus are some people who got on outside the fair. They have children with glow-sticks and whistles and soft toys and things with tassels. They shout at the children to sit down, shout at them to obey, or they’ll take the light away. The traffic lights are red, nothing is moving except the world spinning, taking us around and around and around with it, with each other. The rain is getting heavier, the clouds look darker by the moment. Drumming against the windows, drops turning to rivulets turning to rivers cascading down the glass. Nature’s fury, my own personal show. The drumming increases; the moist, cloying atmosphere presses in harder. We can’t breathe. The traffic lights are red. The rain has penetrated, there are drops running down the inside of the glass. No one notices. I notice. Soon the bus will be full, full of people and full of water. Sitting, talking, oblivious as the water rises over their heads and they can’t breathe, still trying to talk, can’t understand why their brains feel strange, feel light, feel freedom as they slip away. The traffic lights are red, and forever red, forever and ever and ever and ever and ever.

The traffic lights are red.

So, about that phd (warning: long post ahead!)

Now I’ve sent off the forms, so it’s more or less official, I feel like I can actually discuss the whys and wherefores. In many ways it seems like an obvious decision – I did well at uni, I don’t like ‘regular’ jobs, I like knowledge… but it’s not that simple. When I was at uni I hated a lot of it.

I hated lots of the people there. I hated an undergrad system that often put research and profit ahead of students. I hated having to get up everyday. I hated Colin Campbell and his uber-capitalist approach to managing the uni (money from BAT, sacking lecturers, in favour of top-up fees).

When I finished my degree I knew it was time for a change, to do something completely different. But what? Lots of people I knew (and mostly disliked) were off to city jobs. But I couldn’t do that, they are boring, soul-consuming, jobs that you don’t just do but become. I cannot imagine this. Cannot understand why you pledge your life to this, cannot understand how you become interested in the state of the financial markets or care about the marketing budget of the group you work for. All just cogs. My view of work was of a necessary evil, a certain amount of time that must be traded for money in order to enable you to live and afford to do other things. And not only can I not imagine doing one of these jobs, but I can’t even imagine how you go about getting such a thing (recruitment weekends, second and third interviews, team-building days??? Please, no, it’s all too much, all too lame), nor being put in charge of anything. I still feel like a child, like I’m talking to someone else’s parent when I speak to someone in charge, like I must make nice otherwise they won’t invite me round for tea again. But yet I see on TV people much younger than me going out and doing this stuff, I feel like perhaps I missed some stage of development where I was meant to step into the adult world… but no, that would be boring. I much prefer it here.

So, to work then. Picking a job involved thinking of the place I would hate least – a nice, cosy bookshop – then getting a job there. And that was that really. But things are souring. I don’t hate my job, it’s too insignificant to me for that and it’s often made quite fun by the people I work with, but I am starting to hate what it’s trying to become.

Firstly there is simply the issue of getting bored. There’s only so many times you can re-tidy a wrecked section after thoughtless Saturday browsers, or shelve the latest fad book, before it all starts driving you mad. The futility of it all, the utter pointless labour that only exists to propagate shit. However, I think this is as likely to have sprung from part of my personality, I remember getting bored with uni towards the end, getting bored with previous jobs I’ve had… I think I’ve got some kind of cut-off switch which kicks in after I’ve been coasting through something for a year or two and makes me feel fed-up and fidgety instead of enduring. Not necessarily a bad thing, change is often good, although I also have a bit of desire for a steady-state “I’ve got this job and will never have to worry about finding work again” situation. But it is this fed-upness that overpowers me when I get on the bus in the mornings and think that I simply can’t withstand another day.

Secondly is the whole management/being in charge thing I mentioned above. Now I’ve been at work for a while I keep getting more and more shit to do. Running a section isn’t too bad, at least if it’s something you’re interested in there is something for the soul in the books you’re looking after and ordering. But all this promotional stuff and liasing with managers about how stuff should look and re-arranging because head-office say so and running endless reports and people assuming that you should automatically know how to do all of this… nope. When all my job consisted of was serving customers and shelving it was pretty boring, but at least I had little responsibility, I could shrug it off, I didn’t have a particularly good or bad day, just a day. I don’t want responsibility. No matter how capable I should be (on paper at least) I just can’t make myself care enough to do it really well, nor am I interested in doing stuff well to get promoted and have “a career” (despite still having vestiges of the old behaviour drummed in at school: that things are important and should be done well, that people in charge should be respected, that you should work hard).

Which is also a bit odd as I get really annoyed when other people are obviously incompetent or negligent, but am myself becoming more sloppy and careless and can’t stop it happening.

There is another reason for the above, which I would like to cite as fairness but could also conceivably be viewed as greed or pandering to capitalism. Although I keep getting more shit to do, I am not being paid anymore and every time I have an appraisal I get told “well done, you’re doing well, you’ll go up a grade next time”. That’s now been happening for almost a year. My view of the grading system is that grades 1 & 2 are (relatively) temporary training grades, while grade 3 is a fairly comfortable, doing the job well but not having loads of extra management stuff, kind of a grade. It also has a reasonable jump in pay (although the total pay is still shit). But I’m still at grade 2 for no apparent reason and, in my normal way, I can’t really bring myself to talk to anyone senior about it. Instead it’s manifesting itself in my increasingly laissez-faire attitude. Similarly this promotion debacle seems designed to try and suck me into this system, to make me a happy and productive worker who is hungry for success and promotion (cog). Fuck that. Not only that, but even at grade 3 I’ll still be paid less than the average office temp. How is that meant to encourage long service and hard work? (As an aside there was a pretty good article in the Bookseller a while ago about how bookselling is viewed as a vocation, hence the low pay and highly over-qualified staff – virtually everyone in our shop has a degree but is working in retail, serving a stupid and condescending public. No matter how many times people call themselves “a bookseller” it’s still just a shop, although most shop staff wouldn’t have responsibility for ordering, hence the unfairness of this whole pay thing.)

Now, back to the degree. One thing I have got out of my current job is a slight change in work ethos. At uni I wanted to do nothing but sit around and follow my own whims, and I dreamt of a future where this would be the case (dreaming of self-employment, but even this is less susceptible to whim if you want, need, to earn a living). It’s a utopian vision, but also extremely unrealistic and, I suppose, rather childish. Particularly as my degree at the time was pretty interesting, but I just couldn’t be bothered to put loads of work in. I did well, but on the minimum of effort, thereby probably getting less out of it than I should have. A big part of this was down to the stuff I hated that I mention above. There was also that feeling that I was still jumping through the expected hoops and was not yet free to do my own thing (not that I knew what this own thing would be), I was still in the whole school/uni/job chain where each year seems like just a small part of some enormous task and the pressure of expectation is crushing. Every couple of months more exams and you’re left thinking ‘when will I have to stop proving myself to others, when can I be left alone to be me’. A PhD at this stage would have been a big mistake, I would have got fed up very quickly, shirked the work, probably done OK but not have had a good experience. I would not have been doing it for any good reason, except for it being an easy staying-at-uni next step.

But coming at it now, I can view it as a job. In this context it is so much more appealing. The same kind of hours as now, but instead of shelving books I’ll be able to read them. Instead of running sales reports I’ll be running reports on experiments that actually have a deeper purpose and meaning. Sure, there’ll be times when I’m bored and can’t be bothered, but at least my 8 hours a day will be doing something interesting and bigger, instead of being slept-walk through until I can go off and do something else. So my view of work as a necessary evil fades a little and I realise that a PhD viewed as a job could be very enjoyable and rewarding, that my interest in science won’t be relegated to reading New Scientist and a pop-sci book now and again in my free time, but could actually fill my days with thought. And I’d get paid more.

The only issue I’m still a bit uncomfortable with is the whole capitalist side of it all. Those issues haven’t gone away, my view of uni as an ivory tower of leaning and discourse and academic freedom is still tempered by the knowledge of the corporate sponsorship and business-minded management. But I don’t think it’s as bad as the corporate management that keeps intruding on me now, and at least there is a greater purpose to a lot of what goes on at the uni, not to mention many members of staff who think likewise and haven’t become middle-management automatons just yet.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


I’ve been trying to get back in the habit of taking loads of pictures again. Here’s a couple from the bus stop the other morning, and the beginnings of a study on the tree outside my window. Yes, I continue to be a lazy snapper.

The first tree picture is nicely textured by rain and misting on the window, the second tree picture has lots of rain streaming down, but i'm not sure if you'll get the detail at this size. Sorry.

...status report...

Well, a fairly productive day in the end. Managed to get all my formatting done for the morgue series and I’m now in the process of printing it. As suspected there wasn’t a really easy way to do the layout except by pretty much starting again. However, that’s probably for the best as I’ve changed the style of the spreads to work better with the A5 format. Previously it was angling to be a large-format glossy publication, now it’s simpler and more claustrophobic.

I think the problem now is going to be finding the right paper to use. I’ve got some fairly light-weight paper that’s good for 720dpi printing, but when printed double-sided it goes a bit floppy with all the ink. Trouble is I don’t want to use anything too thick, nor anything too glossy (except, perhaps, for the cover). It’s also going to depend on whether I decide to just print a few myself, or take it to the copies... for yet more tricky paper choices!

Any tips from your fanzine days Paul? I think part of my problem is that there’s a lot of black in my layouts which means, as far as inkjet printing is concerned, a lot of ink is required.

a thing for today

I’ve just spent 2 hours in bed surfing the web. Very pleasant, but now the creative urge is kicking in. Today’s project is to publish a short book of some pictures. It’ll probably be the morgue series that I had up at my last exhibition as I already have those in an Indesign document, and they’re black and white for ease of copying. The main issue I think I’ll need to face is how to correctly set-up the document to print the pages on A4 in such an order that I’ll be able to stack and fold the sheets and staple to form an A5 booklet. I would like there to be an easy way to do this, but I suspect the only way may involve lots of planning with bits of paper and then manually setting up the required A4 spread in Indesign. But we shall see...

Miss veirs

So, some more on Laura Veirs. I’ve been listening to one of her albums over the last couple of days and, while it is good, it has not captivated me like the live performance. It was the spareness, the simplicity, of the show that worked so well. Two performers, two voices, two guitars. Simple, but with so many possibilities for each component to come to the fore or create harmonies and resonance with each other. Particularly effective were Laura’s hummed passages where she often stepped back from the microphone to create fade-out effects, this created an almost instrumental sound that went straight through me. Similarly Karl Blau’s understated electric guitar provided a sparse framework within which the melodies had space to develop, but it also managed to be incredibly captivating in its own right.

The problem, for me, with the album I’ve been listening to – Troubled by Fire – is that most of it is recorded with a full band. Although there are some great tracks on it there is at times a drift into territory that I find a bit too ‘country’ for my tastes. The sparseness of the live show is only present occasionally and I think that a lot of the beauty of the individual components forming the songs is lost because of this.

But all is not lost. Mr Blau has a subscription CD project (found at and I notice that last months disc contains some of the live stuff. So I shall be getting that asap, or at least as soon as paypal will let me log on.

And speaking of Mr Blau, the other thing that made the evening so great was his opening set. He played some ballads, just a man with his guitar and an amazing voice, and it was indeed amazing. There was a refreshing lack of arrogance to his show, he was clearly nervous when he started and genuinely happy when the audience liked his songs, and this spirit permeated the Maze and held sway for the rest of the evening.

Saying durrrr a lot

Monday night, got home from work, bit of food, some tv, some reading. Very pleasant.

Tuesday morning, got up, discovered Amy discovering the tickets for Mark Thomas which was on Monday night which we totally failed to go to. Very annoying.


Curse this forgetful brain of ours.

Monday, October 11, 2004

atheism and global warming

i haven't done anything of note tonight except absorb some culture. i watched jonathan miller's brief history of disbelief on bbc4 which was excellent. yes, a modern documentary that realised thought is more important than flashy graphics! whatever next. and a very interesting topic, i tend to think that atheism is a fairly modern view and that older generations have all been religious from habit and peer-pressure, it was nice to be proved incorrect. best quote was from bush snr, who said something along the lines of 'people who don't believe in god are of questionable character and shouldn't be allowed citizenship of america'

and now i'm shocked to discover, courtesy of newsnight, that CO2 levels have increased much more than expected over the last couple of years... are we ready to pay attention yet, or shall we carry on with head-in-the-sand mentality. bugger.


oh, and i had my first random post on this blog. it's on the pjs posting, i have no idea who this person is or how they ended up here, but then that's part of the beauty of this interweb thingy.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

sunday mornings

i missed the goodness today, i slept in and didn't get to watch transworld sport! last week it was tremendous, world championship paintball and skateboarding. it's the only 'sports show' worth watching i reckon, shame it was topped off with the obligatory italian footie.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

laura veirs at the maze



more later when i've calmed down, although my post-beer ham sarnie and cup of tea have helped a little.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

today’s creativity

Ended up spending some time, well most of the morning, reading a journal – Anthropology Quarterly – as they had a downloadable segment on the cultural implications of open source/creative commons licensing. And I ended up spending most of the afternoon writing about it and implementing the creative commons license on my site. That all felt quite productive, although I don’t think it’s the best article I’ve ever written as I got bored and wrapped it up a bit quickly. Still, it’s something... you can read it here.


I also took a look at this site which is an avant-garde music project. Each track is from a different musician in a different city, and they all use samples of sounds from the city. I’ve listened to some of it and it sounds pretty interesting, although I’ve yet to digest the texts & photos that go with the tunes.


Back by popular demand (well, by dual demand at least): some more scrapbook pages. These go together as a double page spread, so I’m not sure how coherent they’ll look as two separate pictures (it says 'hangover days' down the middle, with a big, scary g). It’s also my most recent ‘work’.


I saw some of Mark Selby's charcoal drawings at the recent Nottingham Open Studios event and was really impressed. I like a lot of the stuff on his website, especially the motorway drawings and paintings. Paul, I think you might like this chap a lot.

Today’s negativity

Most of you will know that I recently applied for a Phd. I don’t know why I haven’t written about it on here yet, or why I’ve not really told people at work, but there you go. I sent off my degree transcripts last week, which were the final thing required for the application, except that because I’ve applied to both Chemistry and Physics I’ve had an email saying I need to send another copy of the documents! In the time it took to do that, surely they could have just made a photocopy! Ridiculous.


Streetlights on. Grey clouds above. The sun is not yet above the horizon, the air is chill. A broken, fragmented ribbon of orange cascades down the street as the 2nd floor windows, terrace and semi alike, reflect the glorious colours just out of reach.

Monday, October 04, 2004


On a more serious – cynics might say more interesting – note, a piece from the current YAH festival has been picked up by the Evening Post for some tabloid-style scare-mongering (yes, all the usual words are present and correct: abhorrent, sick, a disgrace, irresponsible…). Read more about it on the YAH site.

new pjs

Other excitement last week came in the form of some new pyjamas that Amy got me:

I must say these have gone down a treat. 100% cotton (what else?) and really snug. I used to have a Joe Cool T-shirt when I was about 5 and, coincidently, when wearing these PJs I don’t look much older. The only snag is that Amy is now worried about paedophilia…

Incremental improvements, exponential time wasted

Yesterday I got some wireless networking equipment through the post (yes, on a Sunday… now that’s service!). Very exciting, but it’s ended up being a little time consuming…

Step 1: Reinstall an old network card in my main PC. Estimated time – 10 minutes. Actual time – 2 hours, including a Sunday afternoon drive to go and get a replacement card when I realise the old one isn’t working because it’s not set-up correctly, but actually isn’t working because it’s broken.

Step 2: Install spangly new ADSL router firewall wireless access point thingy. Proceeds without a hitch, works like a charm and looks beautiful (to a geek that is). Then spend about an hour fiddling with settings that I don’t even need to look at, just because I can.

Step 3: Install wireless card in Amy’s PC. Again without a hitch, even managed to get the internet connection going without having much of a clue as to how it was meant to work.

Step 4: Install wireless card in laptop. Estimated time – 10 minutes. Actual time – the rest of Sunday and Monday morning. Really ran the gamut of problems with this one. Tried different drivers, plugging and unplugging repeatedly, resetting a lot (in fact this took most time of all, the old laptop take soooooo long to reboot). Eventually found a conflict that windows had decided not to tell me about and then had a productive 5 minutes actually fixing the problem. Sadly the problems didn’t end there, despite being able to ping the network I couldn’t actually get the internet connection working, nor windows file sharing with other PCs. Spent a couple of hours tinkering and managed to sort the former (yes, I can now blog from bed!), but the latter is still waiting for another day… time to look up some of those wireless networking books at work.

Step 5: Realise how hopelessly bourgeois this all sounds.

Now I really feel like my new technology has cost me double – the hours I worked to get the money to buy the kit, plus the hours it’s taken me to get it (almost) all working. Still, fiddling with computers is kind of fun. And blogging from the sofa is lovely.


If you’ve read that you’re probably thinking that my new kit has now also cost you the time it took to read that, but it’s what I spent my time doing so I’m going to bleeding well write about it. Maybe you can find your own moral from the story?