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

Nanagedon

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.