Monday, July 31, 2006

One of us is green

In December, the Harrogate Theatre will be home to Sleeping Beauty, as written by friend and mentor, Nick “Is it ‘cos I is Black Dalek?” Pegg. He tells me the place is,
“a beautiful late Victorian auditorium, its red-and-gold colour scheme replete with chandeliers, gilt plasterwork and velvet upholstery.”
Although the phrase he first used to conjure this image was,
“a Muppet-Show-of-Weng-Chiang.”

What a glory those words make in my brain.

They have replaced "festival”, “of” and “food" as the mantra to repeat at myself when stumbling headlong down the valley of the shadow of death. Or being shoved about on the Underground by untall and jostly natives. Or just feeling a bit aggrieved and weary about how much work there is in how much stifling hotitude.

Have borrowed Weng-Chiang on DVD for the edification of the Dr (my Dr) and find myself too often drawn to casting the Muppet version.

Gonzo would, of course, be Magnus Greel. But who would play Onnabol Chang?

I reckon Kermit – in a shocking twist on his usual, nice-guy image. He’s just the chap to get John Bennett’s sympathetic Fu Manchu.

And then: Rowlf as the gravely-voiced Tom Baker Dr Who; Miss Piggy as street-fighting savage Leela; Rizzo as Mr Sin; Scooter as Litefoot and Fozzie Bear as Jago; Sam the American Eagle as the policeman in episode one; Janice from the Electric Mayhem as one of the honest working women of the night; Clifford (yes, Muppets Tonight is canon) as Casey; Snookums as the rat…

But who to get in the key role of Peter Ware’s Uncle?

Sunday, July 30, 2006


Trying to explain why a consultant I'd worked with had made himself None At All Friends, this analogy popped into my head - and right there when I needed it and not on the train home. Which never happens.

"No," says the consultant, "you gave me twenty quid to go to the bar. Now I need money to buy the drinks."

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Habitual coke user

Joined those siblings not in Australia last night to celebrate my dad's significant birthday. Dined well on chicken livers and steak, and am also now the proud possessor of a USB rocket launcher, much to the delight of the cat.

Saying farewell to the family at Waterloo, the BBC News plasma screen played an odd exhoratation for some new kind of Coke. "Zero" is exciting because of what it doesn't have, advertising this virtue with a flashy cartoon that weaves between grown-ups at a pop concert.

"Gigs WITHOUT tall people," it says, as if such segregation were a good thing.

I do like Coke, but of the fatty, sugary, sickly variety best accompanied with aspirin after a night on the tiles. Coke was afterall invented in an age when people quaffed opiates openly and required hangover cures with bite. It's a marvellous, miraculous pick-me-up.

Am not offended by Zero targetting tall folks so much as disallowed from joining in with the fun. I boast (yet again) the wrong dimensions; it's more for the shorter breed of groupie.

And for the larger, shorter ones at that. Am not entirely sure what Zero has zero of - sugar, calories, Alzheimer's-inducing chemicalia - but it's odd to see something promoted for not even touching the sides.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Sieg heil, Jeeves!

"131. We all act through life, and each of us selects the special audience he wishes to impress. When this audience is not looking at us we are never really happy, however many other people are applauding."

PGW Notebooks, Wodehouse Archive, cited in Robert McCrum, "Wodehouse - A life", Penguin Books (2004), p. 80.

What with work spewing from my ears, it's taken me a month to get through this and reassess what I thought I already knew about Wodehouse. The chums kind enough to comment on that previous post both quickly leapt to Plum's defence – that no, he was never a Nazi.

Yet that's not quite what my concerns were getting at.

McCrum's book is largely taken up with the consequences of five broadcasts Wodehouse made in the summer of 1941 on German radio, which have variously been described as naive, criminally treasonous, revolutionary and anti-British, or even just plain dim.

The reason for the emphasis on this one particular episode may just be that Wodehouse is not otherwise the most exciting subject. Literary biography tends to explain how an author’s best works can all be put down to plagiarism – copied down from real people, real incidents and the works of other authors.

Wodehouse, though, made his name by secluding himself in a fantasy world entirely divorced from the real. Blandings Castle could be based on any number of places he actually went to (McCrum names several), and he hits the big-time as a writer only when he stops basing it all on his schooldays and job in a bank. (Still, McCrum is keen to point out the plethora of aunts in his youth.)

He also defiantly refused to change with the times, to update his characters or worldview beyond an occasional wry reference to things he’d aglanced in the news.

As a result the biography struggles to make sense of the Wodehousian creative process. When he wasn't writing fiction he was talking about it. The biography is littered with snippets of fret about plotting, character and cash. The long hours of grind at a typewriter struck a chord with this particular hack, but I can see it might not ignite joy in fans of Wodehouse's giddily witty prose.

We are told time and again how the writing came first, like an obsessive affliction. He worked at an astounding rate right from the get-go – the only way he could be so prolific.

While his wife, Ethel, threw indulgent parties, Wodehouse would be squirreled away in his study at the type-writer secluded in his fantasy world as much as his characters are.

As the Dr knows only too well, juggling writing commitments (and the insatiable need to write) with real life can be difficult. But a selfless devotion to the craft (I've never felt comfortable with scribbling stories as "art") can be selfish. There's something ungallant about his correspondence as a POW, enquiring after possible book deals and articles but never as to the welfare of Ethel. This lack of concern led his adopted daughter Leonora, struggling to keep track on the far side of the fighting, to assume that her parents were still in touch.

But this selfishness does not make him a collaborator. McCrum’s real strength is to track the myriad accounts and reactions to Wodehouse with the available, provable facts.

Wodehouse did not buy his early release (some months before, aged 60, he'd have been let out anyway) in exchange for speaking propaganda. He was already out by then. He was not a stooge of the SS, who only took advantage after he’d made the recordings. Nor was he venting anti-British feelings so much as letting his American readers know he was okay.

"The events of June 1941 hardly convict Wodehouse of anything worse than gross stupidity."

Ibid, p 304.

Yet this acquittal from charges of treason is really nothing new. George Orwell’s spirited 1945 defence of Wodehouse (which Psychonomy sent me the link to, though it was having read it already that got me thinking on these lines – honest) says something suspiciously similar.
"It is important to realise that the events of 1941 do not convict Wodehouse of anything worse than stupidity."

George Orwell, “In Defence of PG Wodehouse” (1945).

Orwell’s argument is that Wodehouse “had no conception of Nazism and all it meant,” and that we can only understand what happened by appreciating Wodehouse’s mentality.

"One of the most remarkable things about Wodehouse is his lack of development," Orwell goes on. And again, "His moral outlook has remained that of a public-school boy."

But this doesn’t get Wodehouse off the hook. Rather, it reminds me of Skimpole, the parasite in Bleak House whose persistent claims to being "like a child" are expected to excuse his behaviour - selling introductions to crooked lawyers or deserting his wife and children. Note that his childish ignorance of all adult affairs never stops him getting what he wants or walk away from anything he doesn't.

I guess I'm bothered with the argument that Wodehouse didn't know any better because really he should have done.

Orwell argues this was not unusual either. In not damning the Nazis unequivocally, Wodehouse – always living in the past anyway – had missed out on a relatively new idea. Over to Georgie:
"In left-wing circles, indeed in ‘enlightened’ circles of any kind, to broadcast on the Nazi radio, to have any truck with the Nazis whatever, would have seemed just as shocking an action before the war as during it. But that is a habit of mind that had been developed during nearly a decade of ideological struggle against Fascism.

The bulk of the British people, one ought to remember, remained anæsthetic to that struggle until late into 1940. Abyssinia, Spain, China, Austria, Czechoslovakia -– the long series of crimes and aggressions had simply slid past their consciousness or were dimly noted as quarrels occurring among foreigners and ‘not our business’. One can gauge the general ignorance from the fact that the ordinary Englishman thought of ‘Fascism’ as an exclusively Italian thing and was bewildered when the same word was applied to Germany.

And there is nothing in Wodehouse's writings to suggest that he was better informed, or more interested in politics, than the general run of his readers."


So perhaps the vehemence directed against Wodehouse came from those who were similarly, childishly innocent until recently. There's an old adage about new converts being the most evangelical, so perhaps they saw in Wodehouse's stupid broadcasts a chance to purge their own failings. Of the witchhunts going on as he wrote at the end of the war, Orwell conceded, "at best it is largely the punishment of the guilty by the guilty."

I think that’s maybe too easy. The perceived “betrayal” came at a time when the stakes were genuinely life and death while the merry, country-house-and-butlered world Wodehouse made his fortune describing was in tatters. Orwell himself calls it a “ghost”. The care-free wit he’d made famous were of no solace to those caught up in the war, especially if their author seemed so at ease with the enemy. At best his cheery indifference to the war, comfortably off in a Nazi hotel, is horribly tactless.

That’s not to say that arty people should not express their political views – but a celebrity backing a political party often leaves you feeling they’ve got something to sell rather than something to say. And that can taint the rest of their work.

This is not to say Wodehouse was a collaborator, but to acknowledge the buttons he pressed.

Where I disagree with Orwell (and where I thought he'd have been harsher) is the lack of responsibility on Wodehouse's part. Orwell seems, for all he acknowledges Wodehouse's own tacit acceptance of class and finacial hierarchy, to share the idea that a bit of money can somehow cocoon you from the world - and worse, that this means we should treat Wodehouse more leniently.

No, you don't have to do the washing up when you can afford a maid, but that doesn't mean you can skive off all social responsibilities. You don't get to live in a bubble. A failure to engage with others is anti-social.

How much is the "stiff upper lip", which McCrum speaks of so often, a virtue, and how much a failure to engage with others?

(The phrase comes from cowardice anyway - sailors pretending to be dead to escape the harsh life of the navy. before being thrown out to sea, their "dead" bodies were sewn up in their hammocks, a stitch put through the lip to check they weren't faking.)

Emotions are a very modern preoccupation in many ways (though we tend to be sniffy of other era's sentimentalities). Wodehouse's writing, for all its comic mastery, remains somewhat detatched and cold. Bertie keeps his friends and relations at arms length. He's never in love, finds the idea of marriage appalling, and gets by just being generally affable but never committing to anything.

Wodehouse was not funny in person, and apparently did not laugh at his own jokes when writing. He cuts a lonely figure, obsessed by his work and himself, though McCrum never really explores this in depth. That may be because there aren't any - and Wodehouse himself was as much surface as his work.

His books skate around on the surface of proper behaviour. There's mention of socialists, women's rights and political groups like the black shorts, but the humour is based on not caring about the big things, and reacting with shock to the fripperies.

All actions, ultimately, are political. It was not stupidity. Wodehouse was intelligent, astute and wanted his reader to know that he was all right and there'd be another book in the bookshops soon.

He didn't care about the other stuff - the war, the suffering, the politics. None of that mattered to him, and that's why he made people so angry. That he'd up till then so delighted them is why they felt so betrayed.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Heavy plant crossing

With the Dr back tomorrow from her sojourn north of the border and after a very long day’s toiling myself, I’ve just finished the 1981 BBC Day of the Triffids.


I’d have sworn I’d seen it when smaller, but it was all so unfamiliar that this may be wishful thinking. I remember elder siblings speaking of it in hushed, horror-stricken tones, so probably conjured a version inside my head. Yes, I’d seen clips (some at school, when we read it in the second year), but that’s all.

Bill Masen (John Duttine from the hugely good and hugely different To Serve Them All My Days) is in hospital, his eyes bandaged up because he got stung by a triffid. He works on a triffid farm, studying the mobile, venomous plants and the precious oil they were created to produce.

Since he’s all bandaged up, he didn’t get to see the exciting shooting stars like almost everybody else did – and so is one of only a few in the whole of the country not to have lost their sight. London is soon a ruin of blind scavengers, bristling with violence and disease. But even the few able to see are being picked off by the organised triffids…

More than John Wyndham’s wonderfully vivid book, it seems it’s this version that’s the influence on 28 Days Later. Part six’s snapshot montage of the long-empty London – and a litter-strewn, quiet Piccadilly – was especially reminiscent, as is the not-brilliant guff with the soldiers at the end.

There’s also the same clumsy need to make the cosy catastrophe relevant (“It was star wars that did it!” or “It was animal experiments!”) where the end of civilisation is all the more chilling in the book for being so unexplained.

Yet it manages some very nice subtleties. Gary Olsen is not just (as the BBC’s old Cult site has it) “Man with Red Hair” blithely shooting at Masen’s gang in part four. Without it ever being commented on, it’s him again in part six, the officious war-monger running the police-state in Brighton (and maybe the inspiration for Eccleston’s character in 28 Days Later).

There’s also some great model work, with triffids surrounding a country house in panorama, and looking more scary than ridiculous throughout. Kingdom of the Blind is troubled by their “uncomfortable phallic appearance”, which I must admit I missed. They’re orchids not Vervoids, though they do seem to natter by rattling multiple willies against their stems.
Having put the thing on in tribute to the late, great David Maloney, I was not disappointed with the brilliant viciousness. There’s a lot more suggested than seen – Masen and Jo (his posh totty) listen at night to people being killed in the streets, rather than seeing the slaughter. I guess they also saved cash on those night scenes.

It’s a high-budget epic and Ken Hannam’s direction is thrilling, even giving life to the fixed studio sets that so show the production’s age. Breezing through other reviews of the thing, Hannam’s “documentary realism” is often referred to. For all the conventions of TV production at the time – where telly drama looked like they’d film in a theatre – this feels less staged and more like a movie. The shingly beach in the final episode reminded me especially of Get Carter.

There’s plenty of Dr Who people to spot, all practised playing “serious dread”: that bald bloke from the Mutants; Pat Gorman without lines; Sevrin accepting his disabilities and sure that the Norm will help out; Lytton being thuggish and then turning out good; even some mugging from Morris Barry. There’s also one of my friends in episode two.

Christopher Gunning’s score reminded me of Lygeti. The simplicity of the title sequence made me think of Nigel Kneale’s heydey, and the neon-tube typeface of the BBC’s other newly good-looking sci-fi of the time.

The end of the world is all rather abrupt, as is the end of the serial. Part five ends on a cliffhanger that’s left hanging for six years, and part six cuts out just as things are getting exciting, guns are being fired and the triffids are attacking en mass.

So it’s probably fitting I couldn’t think of a conclusion to this blog entry either.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

"He smells of the ocean, of seaweed and brine."

Yesterday's mention of sea changes reminds me of something else. I'd not realised until recently that the world being someone's oyster is another one of Shakespeare's coinages.

(I'd be surprised if he didn't have a claim to "how strange the change from major to minor" or "I've got a brand new combine harvester", too. Or "daddy or chips?")

Oysters are pretty, shiny things and I'd always assumed the phrase meant that for whichever opportunistic soul as was the subject, the whole planet seemed like a pretty bauble for the taking. If only you'd bother to try... You know, the heartening sort of thing they tell you in your career advice as a teenager (along with how it's absolutely impossible to make a living as a writer).

But there's more to it than that. The bloke who says it does so because he can't get any money out of his mate.

"Well," he says in Act 2, Scene 2 of the Merry Wives, "then the world's mine oyster. Which I with sword will open."

So people to whom the world is an oyster are less cheery doers with a bit of pluck and get-up, as violent, cut-throat thieves. Just to make the point, the bloke who says it is called Pistol.

I assume that's a nickname. It does make him sound like one of the lesser, hairyer, squawkier-laughing CB-tastic truckers in a Burt Reynolds movie.

Coming back to you now at the turn of the tide

From his hilltop retreat on the far side of the Continent (living what might almost be a monastic existence were he not shacked up with two russet-haired beauties), O. wonders where this week’s bloggings have got to. Keep your tractor on, old boy. I have merely been working.

And no, not the grubby, hands-in-the-soil, satisfying, constructive manual labour you gad about with. I speak of gentlemanly, gallant and not-at-all-gay employment, doing typing and getting the spelling right.

Monday and Tuesday was in the studio, which went exceedingly well despite the heat, some last-minute changes and me managing to piss off someone I was genuinely trying to make life easier for. Words have been exchanged and I think I have expressed the meant sentiments. Things will be different and better now, but golly, I haven’t got it this wrong since my teenage self tried to impress girls.

(I’ve since learned the painful lesson to that one: don’t try to impress the ladies. At best endeavour to be tolerated. Or barely even noticed.)

Anyway. Have also interviewed a lot of people, scheduled some things, written some other stuff, sorted various oddments out for my sister, been to the Dr’s leaving do (for she has of Friday joined the ranks of mercenary freelance hacks) and to a works outing stuffed full of writers, managed a good couple of hundred words’ worth of research and seen off four full days at the cut-and-paste grindstone.

This exciting daytime monotony continues all week, but is much needed and pays well. Today I was able to solve a tricksy bit of pasting with the sly remembrance of tables. My trs and tds were enough to do the business, but getting the sub-heading td colspan (of six, code fans) to match the brand palette was really pretty clever.

No, nobody else was much bothered either. But the only other highlight of four days’ grind was finding the phrase “genuine sea change”. Yeah, well, it seems funnier when you’ve done nothing for hours but CTRL+A, CTRL+V and staring into the white abyss of the screen while it hints at saving changes.

Anyway, what is a sea change? And how can such a thing be ingenuine?

Of course, Michael Quinion has the answer:
“Pundits and commentators who think it has something to do with the ebb and flow of the tide, and use it for a minor or recurrent shift in policy or opinion, are doing a grave injustice to one of the most evocative phrases in the language.”

Michael Quinion, World Wide Words, SEA CHANGE.

But this is not all. The Dr and I toddled along last week to a private view of Gillian Westgate’s paintings at the City Inn round the back of Tate Britain (to be there, it says on the back of my commemorative postcards, until next month). Her East London vistas busy with street furniture (a fancy way of saying lampposts and overhead cabling) reminded me of the detail in the work of Robert Crumb, a faithfulness to the ugly technicalia that crowds our urban lives (and makes his grubby, lusty tales all the grubbier).

The streets themselves are threatened with Olympic regeneration (though “threatened” is probably not the right word at all), so these also document social and architectural history, like that St Etienne movie I caught last October.

I also liked Gillian’s quirky Quink series, pen and ink drawings of cowboys in the same East London setting, playing off the lost Victoriana of both the wild west pioneers and the heydey of Shoreditch’s now decayed buildings. But I’ve always been a fan of illustration, and bored the Dr on the way home with musings about David McKee and the work of Colin MacNeil

The Dr is in Scotland until Thursday and saw seals playing in the water, a castle, some Whistlers and the work of Rennie Mackintosh. Yet I have the cat canoodling on my lap as I attempt these words, so reckon that I am the winner.

More soon, if this little update hasn’t put you off altogether. And in the meantime, my friend Falldog is just starting out, so go give him some encouragement.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Production code

It was only announced last week that the guv’nor is leaving his job, but I’ve of course known a bit longer than that. Making me the Gary Russell of Benny was part of his exit strategy.

I used to be a project manager and the skills acquired back in my youth have been dusted off, darned-where-needed and clambered into once more. But producing is, I have learnt in the last fortnight, quite a lot more work than I’d expected.

The Big Finish announcement says that “Gary will still be on-hand to ensure an 'orderly transition'”, and that's true. He's already had several panicked calls beginning, “Help! What do I do?!?” He also picked up something calamitous that I’d entirely missed.

Bookings have been dealt with and double-bookings sorted out (and a system agreed so that it won’t happen again). Schedules have swapped round to accommodate a last-minute change (did I mention that Dr Darlington is a hero?). Someone else absolutely essential to all we do is going to be on holiday, but we’ve got the perfect stand-in who’s been fully briefed. An undelivered script has been traced, picked up and hand-delivered (on foot on a baking-hot yesterday), lunches are sorted, trains agreed, monies and contracts all sorted, pronunciations discussed and now I’m off to collect something vital, before collapsing into a heap for the night.

Have also done a wealth of interviewing recently, with a wealth of more to come. And writing. And editing. And an agreed conjoinment of two persons to make one that is better than both (a bit like those Transformers that could team up and become one, bigger robot). And now there’s another 12,000 word commission for the end of August. And a five-day-a-week, ongoing freelancing gig in the midst of it.

So you may not see me here much for a bit…

Saturday, July 15, 2006

100 things

M'colleagues have set up a new blog about our very much forthcoming Dr Who anthology, "The Centenarian".

I have a written a long, rambly post that doesn't reveal a great deal. Hope m'colleagues will do the same sometime soon, or else I'll look a right old swot.

Some other anagrams of Edward Grainger:

Dad grew a ringer
Rearward edging
Rwanda egg drier
Green Wing RADAR

Friday, July 14, 2006

The Universal War - part two

Part one
Posted by Picasa

The Universal War - part one


To be continued in part twoPosted by Picasa

The Universal War

This is the cover of "The Universal War", which I wrote (and drew) when I was about ten. Happy birthday, Tom. Part one to follow. Posted by Picasa
Part one
Part two

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Good news and bad news

Page 3 brotherGood news first. Having blogged yesterday I popped to the shops for a copy of the Times - and was a bit surprised to find that the brother's jaunt occupies all of page 3. And he gets a credit for his precious photos.

He's on page 9 of today's Metro and all (I'm told - haven't seen a copy and it's not up on the site). Further media interest is due to follow...

As well as a paper, I also bought my first batch of Dr Who stickers, having been a bit late in the game. And I now have my first swapsies. The lucky numbers are: K; L; M; 65; and 184.

Suspect these might not be easy to get rid of as they're the ones free with Radio Times.

Have spent a day running about not buying a chair and trying to sort other things out. Full of adrenaline and sugar as things come together, so am a bit worried that it'll all fall to bits the moment the pressure's off, like the newly regenerated fifth Doctor delegating saving-everyone to K9, though the tin dog had left 10 episodes before...

I. has just texted to say that Syd Barrett has died, which makes me think of working into the evening on some meagre attempt at art, in a disused squash court with a wobbly tape of Relics playing over and over. And fellow (and more talented) artists squabbling about what they could put on instead that would be less weird, less funny and less unsettling.

Went to look at the obituary and what Bowie had to say, and see there's been more people blown up, and we're destined for more unclear power.

Hmm. Freudian typo there. I'll leave it. Posted by Picasa

Monday, July 10, 2006

Quite right too

K.'s 39th birthday (you can trust me on this) went smashingly on Saturday, in a lovely little pub by Euston with a DJ and dancing and lots of talking rubbish.

Dr Ware's verdict on Dr WhoK. had also organised big-screen Doomsday, punters assembled before a projector screen as if it were a new kind of England game. The sound popped and pixellated every now and again, but otherwise we were dumbstruck. Cor, that was a bit bloody good wasn't it? See right for one quarter of the verdict from the Time Team.

Some things do trouble me. Couldn't some Cybermen have held on to something? And anyway, Tracy-Ann Cyberman hadn't jumped between dimensions, so wouldn't be all sticky with void stuff. (I suppose, though, that she was built from spare parts that had been).

Like Charlie Brooker's not-a-review, this is not to criticise but borne out of love. Perhaps it's just the freelance hack in me looking for ways to cash in with merchandise, but I thought, "Ooh, there's another story there..."

I'd also come up with a completely different reason for how the Daleks came back: we see in Bad Wolf that their teleport-wossname leaves behind dust (so that Dr Who thinks Rose got disintegrated). And when Captain Jack wakes up again in Parting of the Ways, all that's left of his executors is the same sort of suspicious white powder...

But anyway, can't wait for Christmas.

Speaking of things in newspapers, the brother's wild adventure has made it into today's TimesPosted by Picasa

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Self improvement

Five things I have learned in the last couple of days:
  • David Darlington is a hero.
  • I., my evil overlord guv'nor, does not like pineapple.
  • Dr Who does not wear pants or socks, the little scamp.
  • Mandarin characters (I think they were Mandarin) don't copy and paste easily in Word.
  • When texting someone, "I'm sending you a script!" predictive text wants to spell the last word as "rapist".

Thursday, July 06, 2006


For the first time since I went freelance 47 months ago, I have missed a deadline. The particular boss has been terribly understanding and it's not been entirely my fault, but it's still something of a nuisance.

Still, the thing has been delivered five days late (or three if your weekends aren't working), and I am entirely in love with the pretty picture to go with it. You'll have to wait and see...

Other work has quietened down too - though I missed seeing Dr Who swotting West Wing on Tuesday due to pre-paid commitments in a house. The Doctor had fun, though admitted surprise at Mr Tennant's geekery, and again bewailed the socially inept demographic she and her girlfriends have all settled for.

There's plenty more on my slate but it's all rolling onward and we've overcome a plethora of last-minute hiccups. I repeat to myself the unofficial maxim of the modern NHS: if it doesn't kill you, it makes you stronger. And I am not dead yet.

Nor is K, who is staying with us for the next couple of weeks. She survived a first night with the cat (there'd been some concern about allergies, but she thinks its only dogs now), and also the sight of me manfully topless.

This morning I climbed on a train with a reading book and not print-outs to red-pen. Am delighted by how The School turned out - and so is Tapeloop, which is nice. I have also bought flowers for another man's missus, and talked tracing with the far end of the Earth.

Off to the pub tonight as it is that time of the month again. May even have time tomorrow to shout lunch for the accommodating boss.

And maybe, just maybe, I'll write a post that's actually *about* something. Blimey.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


Is a word I learned today. Its the state of having shared geographical borders, so is a bit like "proximity" but a bit snugglier.

It has been swelteringly, tropically hot today, apart from the moment of sudden rain that caught my boss G. We think this might be the gods' response to years of tradition and wigs coming to an end this afternoon.

(Lords mostly cheered at her announcement, though I think there were cries of "Out of order" from the torier benches. And there was another big cheer when the Lord Chancellor whipped off his wig.)

Anyway, as well as cutting my way through the office with a machete, I have edged nearer to finishing something big (and approved a splendid picture for it), dealt with an embarrassing misunderstanding that almost dropped me right in it again, and had some notes on more things I must do. Also got a copy of my Sapphire and Steel play, though not had a chance to hear it.

If I were clever, I'd make some link to coterminosity with our American neighbours...

Two years ago we were in Livonia watching fireworks that went on for weeks. Recommend Alex's thought for the day.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Collapse at the coalface


This is something of an understatement, but will have to suffice for this family blog.

On Saturday my already packed schedule got a little bit busier, later than "the last minute" by one month and one day. Though the extra straw has not (yet) broken this camel's well-exercised back, I did hurry home after tea and Dr Who with Nimbos, and was still typing away desperately at 3 in the morning.

The end is now thankfully in sight (well, in one of four current big projects), but being pre-booked with work today and tomorrow has not exactly eased the blood-pressure.

Also, yesterday my long-lost friend Daniel popped round, who I'd not seen in sevenish years. We took him (and Nimbos) to Crystal Palace's Victorian Fair, where we had a picnic and watched the Dr cavort on the not-too-scary carousel. Some very splendid pictures to follow, when Daniel's back in Sweden and can send me them.

The day seemed to be in part a celebration of IKB's 200th birthday, and 70 years since the Joe Paxton's enormous great greenhouse burnt down. There was wrestling and a ferris wheel and various stalls of knick-knacks, and the Dr got drawn in by the glossy pictures a chap from the Crystal Palace Foundation showed off. She was very good and ladylike, and didn't dispute his using the word "Italianate" when describing the Greek stuff.

We wended round by the monsters again, feeding ducks with our rich, new-fangled bread, and ended up in the pub for a pint or four. Then we headed back through the park, showing Daniel how the ruins look like Greek stuff.

Being of an archaeolgical bent, he was delighted to see "modern" ruins - and we discussed how apocalyptically sci-fi a Victorian would find the state of such an icon. Like the overgrown Washington DC in Logan's Run, said Nimbos - though we don't talk about 30 being past it just now. I was also minded of Shelley's Ozymandias, king of kings, the ruin of whose works should make the mighty despair.

Yes, I have read another poem.

Anyway, hot and slightly tipsy we headed home for tea, and I got the washing up done just in time for Dr Who. Daniel coped with not having seen any of the rest of New Show, though he did pick up on the Egyptian Mummy, which shows he paid attention when I educated him in our cultural heritage all those years ago.

We discussed the apolyptically sci-fi icons New Show has bumped off in the captial: they've broken the clocktower at the Palace of Westminster and shattered the glass in the Gherkin. And now the big tower at Canary Wharf turns out to house scientists making jumps to alternate universes, and all because of things left by the Daleks.

That's a neat idea, isn't it? But if they're going to blow it up, they'll be late by two weeks.