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.