Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Calling all vinyl

My parents bought as a USB Record Turntable for Christmas. This is, without doubt, the best present ever but sadly all Kate's vinyl is at her parents house, and I only own one record (a 12" extended play green vinyl version of 'Andre' by L7) which is in Colchester.

So, anyone got any vinyl they want ripping?

Friday, 19 December 2008

Man 'flu

Minor rant : People who get ill, keep coming to work, cough all over you for two weeks solid, then either get well or make themselves so ill they are bed-ridden for days. Meanwhile they are successful in transmitting their germs to you.

My approach, at the slightest sign of a sniffle, is to wrap myself up in bed until fully well. And then to take a couple of extra days, just to be on the safe side.

I blame that bloody Lemsip advert.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Not in Poland any more

It's just as cold, damp and misty here.

(At heart I'm just an Englishman, and devoid of anything else to say I retreat to the weather)

Hang on ... I'm sure I had something stored up from a quiet minute in Plenary the other day. It's around here somewhere ...

Here you go. Try this for size.

10th December 2008. Pulp first played 'Disco 2000' live in 1995 (I think). That was 13 years ago. How can that have been 13 years ago?

In Poznan at the Conference of the parties to the UNFCCC. Deathly dull. Got my agenda items agreed and waiting for plenary to kick off so we can close this shit down. Outside possibility of a surprise in plenary, that is. I'm listening to the SBI Chairman with one ear and Led Zep "How the West was won" with t'other.

The sad thing is that we have spent the whole time discussing complete non-issues. Until midnight last night. Just picking over the bones of who did what ten years ago. There has been some limited discussion on the future deal (to be agreed at Copenhagen a year from now) but parties are largely staying in their cages and refusing to come out until Obama arrives. So we are ... waiting.

Kate is here. She has a side event. Sadly it's at 19:30 on the last day (Friday) so there may not be all that many in the audience. Still, I'll be there.

Hmmm. No progress on agenda item 4(a) or anything on 1/CP.10. As usual. Cook Islands aren't happy with that.

Poland is large and flat. I've had some of the worst professionally prepared food in my life, and some very nice duck. It hasn't snowed yet, which is a shame. They've had snow in Albuquerque you know.

Friday, 12 December 2008

On the side


Fame, sort of. http://copportal1.man.poznan.pl/Archive.aspx?EventID=87&Lang=floor

That's me, second from the left.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

And now to 2009

Poznan is slowing drawing to a close. For the press and those watching from the outside, things are about to hot up, with the Ministers arriving and the big statements being made. But for the negotiators, particularly the more junior negotiatiors (like me) things are beginning to wind down. Most of the issues on the table have been either resolved (late last night, or in my case, 5 minutes ago) or not resolved, and those which were not resolved are likely to be parked for another six months.

Ministers arrive shortly. Best to keep out of the way I feel.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

A sad day

Oliver Postgate has died. My personal connection with him, beyond loving Bagpuss when I was 4, was when he unexpectedly sent me "A plain persons guide to global warming" pamphlet, sponsored by The Clangers, when I had just started working at Defra.

I've got a lot of angry letters from members of the public, but never before or since did I get such a beautifully created article.

A great man.

Thursday, 4 December 2008



I'm really tired. Zonked, in fact. I'm at the Conference of the Parties in Poznan, Poland, and I've found a spare hour in which I don't have to work. Indeed, I can safely say that I am now off for the night, though we are going to dinner with another delegation so I'm going to have to be at my sparkling and witty best. i.e. I will have to get drunk.

Since this is a public blog, and since I'm a UK Negotiator, I have to be careful about what I say about the process. So this will be really, really dull.

Things seem in fairly good spirits. From the negotiations I've been in, I think people are more positive than they have been in the past (Bali last year was particularly dreadful at times, though we got a good result in the end). It remains to be seen whether anything positive will come out in the end, and everything really depends upon the Copenhagen meeting next year, but I feel more positive now than I have for a while.

Could be just the lack of sleep messing with my brain, of course.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

At last!

It's seemed like forever. A nightmare, where every day brings worse and worse news. But finally I've woken up. Finally it's over. WE HAVE WON.

Friday, 31 October 2008

Nowt so queer

Just a quickie

Went to see Bellowhead with Kate and Abigail last night and they were bloody marvelous.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Marvin Gaye

I sort of promised to tell you what had actually been happening this year. This photo album might help.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

A man of meat

I am the world's least convincing vegetarian, as anyone who's traveled overseas with me will testify. I do try to avoid meat when I'm in the UK, and I usually succeed, but when I'm abroad I want to sample the local cuisine, and unless abroad happens to be Greece, Italy or Turkey (or, I imagine, India), the local cuisine tends to be meat based. Kate and I are off to Poznan in December. Unlikely to be a vast array of exciting vegetable dishes on offer.

Anyway, yesterday was a special, extremely meaty, occasion. I'd been promising to take Kate to St John, which is somewhere I wanted to go in any case.

It was utterly incredible. Fergus Henderson, who launched the restaurant, is famous for being an great chef, and also for using a lot of offal and other uncommon animal parts. I didn't even know that chitterlings were pigs intestines until yesterday, and I certainly didn't think they could taste so bloody incredible. Talk about falling off the wagon.

Deep fried tripe was a bit of a disappointment, not really tasting of much, but the pheasant and trotter pie was brilliant and the Eccles cake and Lancashire cheese finished things off nicely.

Can't recommend the place highly enough. It's wonderful.

Friday, 24 October 2008

The Spy with RSI

In the Bond film "The World is not Enough" James Bond sits down and tries to use a Chinese computer keyboard.

Which begs the question, did he do a workstation assessment beforehand? It's mandatory under Health and Safety rules, irrespective of where you are working.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Model railway

I spent twice as long on the Eurostar today as I did in the meeting. Blasted fire!

It’s a very very sad thing to confess, but I get more work done when I’m stuck on the train than I do when I’m in the office. There are no distractions.

The solution is simple. I’m going to spend the next three weeks building a Wallace and Gromit style miniature railway in my office, and if anyone challenges me as to what I’m doing, I’ll just say that it aids departmental productivity.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

What did you do in the Great War, Daddy?

In these parts, we very occasionally stray into the political. It's a broad church, unlike Nick Robinson, who never (to my knowledge) strays from the political towards film reviews.

Domestic politics is a bit boring. I mean, one can pontificate about ABSOs all day long.
"Too many? Not enough?" Or whinge about taxes and the state of the NHS. It's a bit parochial.

International stuff, like wars and diactators and things like that is far more my style. Makes a man feel glad to be alive (and living a long way away from wars and dictators).

A Global Financial Crisis with capital letters all of its own should be just the thing for a blog entry. The epic scale! The grandeur! The easy targets for scorn.

I shall (thankfully) resist the tempatation. The 'crisis' has certainly reinforced the already well recognised fact that nobody actually knows anything. I'm not talking about the bankers here (though I'm a little confused as to how they didn't know what they were buying. When I buy a pie, it's, er, a pie). And it is faintly amusing to see the politicans desperately googling "YOUR NAME HERE + regulation" to find out if they ever mentioned the word in the past, so they can yelp "I told you so!"

but I disgress, as usual.

The people who are really getting my goat are the pundits. "Thought for the day" has been particularly aflicted, since none of the thinkers can possible resist the temptation to have a pop at "greed" as if this means anything.

I haven't got a bloody clue how the financial system works, and you can bet your pension (ooops) that the Bishop of Lansbury-Hickson doesn't either. If he did, I think he'd have something a triffle more intelligent to say than "and as the current financial crisis shows, the era of greed is over". Blimey! How incisive!

I've yet to see or hear a single intelligent thing said about the current crisis, and the paradox is that if such a thing exists I wouldn't recognise it, because I just don't bloody know how it all works.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Before Yeovil Junction

I finished the "Killer" Sudoku 7 minutes into the journey. It's not like I'm a genius or anything, it was already three-quarters done. It was a Sunday afternoon and I'd already spent an hour on it, sitting in front of the fire, drinking tea.

So here we are. Thee hours of tedious training lies before us.

I've drunk as much beer as I could useful, or wisely, consume this weekend, and I was sent packing with sandwiches, so the buffet trolley holds no interest. The papers are read. And it's too dark to play "I Spy".

The Exeter St Davids to London Waterloo stretch is one of the slowest lines in England. It's single track over large stretches, as if the idea that people would want to travel back to Exeter had never occurred to them. You end up sitting outside Yeovil, waiting for the outbound train to fly past before you can continue.

Just spent a lovely 48 hours in the tiny village of Lopen, Somerset. It must count as a village, because it has a church, though no shop or pub. You have to make your way up a busyish single carriageway road with steeply incline sides to make it to the local pub, the Poulett Arms. The cutting makes it impossible to leap to one side if a lorry comes careering round the corner, and if you try to find the footpath marked on the OS map, a local landowner comes and chases you away. Best, IMHO, to make either for the Lord Poulett Arms (close relation) in Hinton St. G. or the Royal Oak, in Over Stratton. It's a bit further, but the chances of being run down are less.

The Lord P. wins the award of pub of the weekend, for lovely gravity dispensed Branscombe and a magnificent interior. Honourable mention to the Muddl–∑d Man, for services to pub signs, and the Lord Nelson, for fish pie and venison burger.

I think the plan has to be to go back, with a bicycle, and cycle from pub to pub.

Only two hours left on this blasted train.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

What on earth happened to Brick Lane?

Kate and I spent the day searching for that dream home together in an area that The London Compendium describes as "blighted with socially divisive housing and shambolic estates". Dickens described the streets of Whitechapel as "Crowded and filthy" and Hollingshead suggested Blackchapel was a more appropriate name for an area "overflowing with dirt, and misery, and rags."

We quite liked it, especially some of the bits around Stepney Green (which also boasts a small, chaotic city farm)

but Brick Lane is decidedly odd. When I first moved to London I recall it being a street of curry houses, wholesale suppliers and little else. The curry houses may have stayed, but everything else appears to have morphed into trendy retro clothes stores and bars, and the local community appears to have been over-run by people like me, or at least people like a ten year younger me.

I wasn't entirely sure I liked the change much.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Green electricity

We don't usually offer consumer advice here, but in reference to a question I just got asked, I thought I'd say a little about Green Electricity Tariffs. I'm afraid this only applies to the UK, so if you are in Durkadurkastan or Molvania, you can stop reading.

So, er, yes. You can sign up to buy green electricity from a number of providers. For example, EDF offer a green tariff which doesn't actually generate any green electricity at all. They simply buy green electricity the Government obliges them to (under the Renewables Obligation) then sell it to you. But double the extra you pay on the EDF Green tarrif goes into a fund which they then give to community projects which support renewables.

npower offer a tarrif called juice which doesn't cost any extra (which is fair enough, because like all other suppliers, to renewable obligation requires them to buy renewable electricity) and for every juice customer they invest £10 in renewables research (hardly a staggeringly large amount but every little helps...)

Meanwhile good energy has a 100% renewables tarrif, where they retire 5% more ROCs than they have to. But that doesn't explain what they do with the other 89.5% of their ROCs (the ones they don't retire). One advantage of this tarrif is that you're paying money direct to a company that doesn't generate any electricity from coal, gas or nuclear. But is it really 100% renewable if they can sell ROCs?

In summary, you should probably be on one of these tariffs but I don't which one. These people might be able to help http://www.greenelectricity.org/

Monday, 6 October 2008

Stale roles

We've all moved to http://www.decc.gov.uk/ but my job, for the time being, remains unchanged.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

This isn't mine, it's Eric Morecombe's

Two words you can't go wrong with are kippers and Cockfosters

Saturday, 4 October 2008


We were at Granny's last weekend. How times change, I drafted this on Granny's PC. (What a banal statement. "How times change." This is what times do. If times didn't change, would they be times?)

Er, so. Yes. Granny collected us at the station and took us to the supermarket to buy groceries (why else would one go...?) and while we were there, we bumped into an old friend. When you're a granny, I guess you have more than a few old friends bumping around in the background.

Anyway, this old friend was also something of a lost acquaintance. Not been seen for yonks, that sort of thing. So, while I stood there looking awkward, and Kate stood there looking magnificent, the old ladies started on the only conversation possible in the situation. Namely, who's sprogged, who's dead and who's got/recovered from [insert grisly ailment, and graphic description thereof]

Now the journal tries to shy away from mundane subjects, most of the time. "Shys away from all subjects, most of the time", I hear you mutter. (I hear you mutter this because I'm bugging the computers of everyone I know in an attempt to get material for my genre defying play called simply "No title")

Anyway, yes, there has been a lack of posting this year. And last year. Sorry about that. I was busy. Sort of. I had the best of intentions. Like Blair, but without the power, or the god-awful grin.

But, once again, I digress, and I sense you grow bored of this rambling tale.

The point is that one reaches a point in one's life when one hasn't had a meaningful conversation about one's life for a while, or written about it on their tedious blog and rather than fire off an email with a description of exactly what type of croop the dog has, or put the whole lot down in a round-robin (shudder) and sent it out with the Christmas cards (double-shudder), or, most horrifying of all, have an actual real life conversation with someone (beyond shudder), if only on the telephone, I can, instead, post everything I've got up to in the last year and a half on here, and why I bump into Ross Macdonald outside Waitrose I can just "W.W.W.DOT.I.A.M.S.I.L.K.DOT.C.O.M." at him, and run away.

So a heck of a lot has been happening. Stuff and that. So much to talk about, some many happens.

So ... oh, is that the doorbell?

Friday, 3 October 2008

New (old) photos

Nearly two years ago I was lucky enough to go to Copenhagen, for an EEA meeting on Reporting. OK, the EEA meeting wasn't all that exciting, though we did get to look at some really groovy spreadsheets.

I also took some really, really bad photos

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Lack of gravitas

Kate is reading "Our longest days", which is a collection of diary observations by British civilians during World War II. Alan Clarke's diaries may be more famous for their sexual revelations but they cover a fair bit of social territory, spanning the rise, reign and fall of Thatcher. And then there's the Pepys chap. And probably a few others, like, er, Gladstone?

I was thinking this as I rode through Battersea Park this morning. That's an unusual thought for me, because on an ordinary day I'll either be thinking about what happened in the football last night, different permutations of English cricket selections with imaginary future Test performances, or work. I try to save introspection for when I'm part-drunk.

I digress. The question which was bugging me was does this blog, or indeed the act of blogging, tell people anything about society? Is it of its time? Does it mean anything? Should it? Does the fact that it doesn't mean it's worthless?

Then I wondered, "Does anybody care?". Having arrived at the answer, I went back to thinking about cricket teams, without a worry in the world.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

What's happening here?

Some random observations.

First, it's autumn. Or, to be precise, it's autumn here, in England. I like autumn. It's leafy, and the air is crisp.

Second, as of 28th August, I'm an Uncle, and Kate is an auntie. There is evidence of this ->

He's called OB-1, because his name is Oliver Bruce Lendy, and he's the first of his generation.

Third, I am hungry, so I'm going to make myself a midnight snack. Good night.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Cold turkey

This is harder than it looks...

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Stop reading this

I've made a big decision. Well, actually, it's only a big decision if I decide to stick to it, a bit like giving up, well, giving up something.

I'm giving up the Internet. Actually, this is not, in any way true. I'm not giving up e-mail. And I might stop giving up blogging and actually write something here on occasion. And I can't think without Wikipedia any more.

But news.bbc.co.uk, news.bbc.co.uk/sport, www.cricinfo.com and www.guardian.co.uk plus everything else are history baby! There's a whole world out there, just waiting to be explored.

I haven't decided what to do with Facebook yet.

Friday, 1 August 2008



Yes, I am alive.

Yes, my life is so dull that there is nothing of interest to write here, which is why I'm not burdening you with it.

Yes, we are still married. Everything is lovely. But that, in itself, is not very interesting.

Oh, I got promoted. I'm now UK lead on technology policy, in the context of the UNFCCC negotiations. This means I have a completely identical desk, about 10 metres away from my previous desk. And I only have that desk 80% of the time, because none of us are more than 80% of a person.

Right. Off to Bangkok. For a holiday.

Monday, 26 May 2008



As you can see, Kate and I got married. Which was rather wonderful.

It's been something of a summer for weddings. Dan and Helen were married yesterday afternoon and are currently en route to Japan for their honeymoon, and the two of us have three more weddings to attend. The final wedding of the summer is actually in the Australia winter, in Sydney. We are both very excited about this as neither of us has been to Australia before.

Our honeymoon, in case you were wondering, was spent in Brittany, and we have taken many pictures of sea birds and excitingly shaped rocks. Hopefully these will be published soon.

Married life seems, to me, to be very similar to normal life, though I am very much looking forward to spending the rest of it with Kate!

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Film : Be kind, rewind

Kate and I went to see this last night. While Kate enjoyed it, I don't think she got the feeling of absolute delight that I took from it. I haven't enjoyed a film so much in a long time.

On one level, its about the ancient and noble art of sweding, some results of which have been put on YouTube.

But, in my humble role as film reviewer, I found the film to be about much more than Jack Black's comedy efforts to reproduce Ghostbusters and RoboCop. It's a movie about Jazz, Fats Waller, New Jersey and community.

I don't know if that makes you want to see it, but you should. It's lovely.

Friday, 22 February 2008

Lost notes

My life, at work, runs through Outlook. E-mail. Meeting requests. Telephone numbers.

My Outlook is broken. There's a man in a room far away, magically moving the pointer on my laptop, desperately seeking a solution. I wish him luck.

So what to do?

You can't but fail to notice, if you stroll by my desk (though what you would be doing in Ergon House, Westminster is beyond my imagining) that the place is stacked high with unread reports, unloved arch-files and uncapped felt-tip pens. It is time for a clean up.

I've found some torn of bits of notepad from Kenya. The great undiscovered novel? I fear not.

God is Abce (?. not sure about this one. It seems to be in someone else's handwriting)

Lions don't care
A baboon stole my ketchup.
Africa is hot + wet
Elephants, reticulated giraffe, buffalo that won't mate, baboons, black faced monkeys

Africa is very muddy and Kenya is very green. Suprisingly like England in the Highlands, with retangular pastures though the animals are different

Stopped and 6 guys run up to us w/ fresh catfish (whole). Cook buys one and we travel onwards (I remember the Cook's name was Matthew. He was incredible. Could knock up a feast, even in the wilderness) Also bought illegal charcoal (not us, the Cook) from nomads. You have to plant two trees for everyone you cut down.

Roads switch from supoth (?) to disintigrating, seemingly a random. (Truly, I have never expereinced anything like a Kenya 'road' and it remains the abiding memory of the trip. Even more vivd that the lions shagging in front of our truck. Drivers prefer to drive off-road along many stretches)

Rural store-fronts are brightly branded

"Mighty meaty" "Ever Ready" "Safari Com Cell Phones" "Men who Care Pumbers Merchants" Comman usage is bar/butchers (by which I think I meant that many shops combine those two services in the same building, indeed, in the same room)

Baboons by the roadside.

Flamingos + flamingo carcasses.

As black as a shit pit (that's one of Steve's, I'm sure)

That's all.

Dostoevsky I'm not.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Goodbye Lenin / Farewell Fidel

So, Castro and Ian Paisley (Junior) shuffle off the political stage in the same week.

I'm no real fan of Fidel. Cuba isn't a basket case like Haiti, nor does it have the appalling rates of violent crime found in some other countries in the Caribbean and South America (Columbia and Jamacia spring to mind instantly, though a quick trawl indicates El Salvador topped the murder tree in 2006). Stories of healthcare and near universal adult literacy are legendary.

Nonetheless, a country that needs to lock up 70 odd political campaigners for an indefinite period and cannot allow any challenge to the status quo is bound to become economically and intellectually moribund. And what were all those Cuban troops doing in Angola?

Still, he pissed off the US, so he couldn't have been that bad, could he?

All in all, this just about sums the current situation.

Sunday, 10 February 2008


"Well, I didn't major in math, I majored in miracles. And I still believe in those, too."

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Deep Heat

Occasionally, after a particular hard day on the rooftops, my father would return home, take a bath, and a most peculiar smell would drift throughout the house. The only other place I smelt that particular smell was in rugby changing rooms. The smell, for those of you who have not smelt it, is a bit like a cross between menthol and nerve gas. For those of you who have smelt it you will of course know what I'm describing. Deep heat.

Now 'Deep Heat', as deeply engrained in our culture as it is, sadly doesn't have it's own webpage (that I can locate) though it has entered the blogosphere and there is a wikipedia entry, which I think proves beyond doubt that people who contribute to wikipedia are now getting desperate.

(This takes me off down a strange line of thought. Can I think of anything that doesn't have a wikipedia entry? I mean, obviously the biography of Johnny Banks, my best mate from primary school, isn't in there, but from The Battle of Maldon to Jif (now Cif) cleaning product wikipedia has it covered. Hell, even Stanway, the village I grew up in, has an entry and I can't think of anything that happened there. A Google of "Things that aren't in wikipedia" comes up disapointing)

But I digress.

Why am I talking about Deep Heat? It appears that the reason is simple. I'm 32.

When I was 12 I wondered, what was this strange substance that emanated this unearthly smell? Why was there an enormous can of it in the bathroom cupboard? Rugby players, and my dad seemed to live off it, but I never saw the point. In the intervening years of my young adulthood I forgot all about Deep Heat.

Last weekend I went out to play a simple game of Ultimate Frisbee. For those of you who've never played, it's a bit like American Football, without tackling. Two teams. Two end-zones. Throw the fisbee to a colleague in the end-zone. They catch it. You've scored.

What I wasn't expecting was a coach. What sort of frisbee club has a coach? And training drills? And practices tactics and 'plays'?

After two hours of this I was feeling pretty stiff. But I didn't make the mistake of going home and sloughing on the sofa. No sir! I went for a big long walk with friends and warmed down properly.

Monday morning I was in moderate agony. Pain and stiffness followed, as expected, on Tuesday. And irritatingly on Wednesday, slightly alarmingly on Thursday and by Friday I was downright embarrassed that I was still walking around like the tin man from Wizard of Oz.

Yesterday I went paintballing for a friends birthday. It was the first time I'd been, and in the excitement my stiffness was forgotten. Until I can under sustained fire, ran pell mell for cover and pulled up in agony as the FUCKING FIRES OF HELL shot up and down my hamstrings. I mean, OW!

This morning I woke up covered in paintball bruises, stiff and sore legs, and most crushingly of all, the realisation that at the age of 32 I can no longer do exercise whenever and wherever I want, and be feeling fine a couple of days later. Either I'm going to have to stay fit, or avoid running and jumping type things altogether.

In the meantime I'm off to Boots for a can of Deep Heat.

Monday, 28 January 2008

A foggy day

Kate and I can't see the river from our flat today.

If one can't see Chelsea, does Chelsea exist?

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Play Settlers, not politics


I was going to write something cynical about Peter Hain and George Osborne.

Instead I'm going to go away and play computer games.

PS - Sand is denser than water, right? So quicksand is denser than water? But I float in water...

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

We love life

There's a drippingly sentiment, nostalgic tune called 'Wickerman' on the Pulp album 'We love life'. It's all about going home to Sheffield and following the river.

I feel like that (well, not Sheffield, obviously, since I never lived there) quite a lot of the time. Nostalgia seems to me to be a natural state of mind. I think I first noticed it when I moved to Philadelphia in 2001.

It's quite ridiculous. I even get nostalgic for Leeds, and I really didn't like Leeds very much.