Blog : Posts from July 2006 : Page 2

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In his defence

In which Big Dave gets fit


Big Dave’s latest plan for self-improvement has been under way for a few weeks now. He’s decided to study the martial* arts, and has been going to ju-jitsu classes on a Monday night. Which means that every Tuesday, when we come in to open up, he’s groaning at every aching muscle.

To be fair, he’s getting better. After the first night, he was groaning with every tiny movement he had to make. Now, after a few weeks, he’s mostly quiet but for the odd pained expression on his face.

From all the stories he tells, Big Dave can already look after himself. Most of the tales he tells of nights out end up with him coming out on top whenever a fight breaks out. Of course, maybe he’s being selective about which tales he tells us, and maybe they end up embroidered in the telling. Clearly, though, he’s not that confident; or at least he feels like he needs an extra edge when it comes to fights in the street on a Saturday night. Or maybe he’s just concerned about the size of his waistline; the classes are billed as “ju-jitsu and self-defence”, but that doesn’t have to be the only reason for going. Maybe he’s planning on a definitive wrestle with the management when he finally leaves.

* Yes, I did double-check that I’d spelled that correctly.

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Permissive Society

In which the government wants to ban things


I know it’s only a few days since we last had a “the government are taking away your rights!” post on here, but I’m afraid it’s time for another one.* This time it’s not just about politics, though, it’s about sex too.

Over the past few months, the Home Office has been running a consultation exercise on what it calls “extreme pornography”, with the intention of trying to ban it. They were pushed into it by a single-issue campaign group called The Jane Longhurst Trust, who mistakenly believe that criminalising violent sexual images will make people less violent.

It would be nice if this were true, but it’s very clear that when you’re dealing with sexual fantasies and gratification, pushing things under the carpet doesn’t help. For years homosexuality, for example, was barely represented in the mainstream media, but that didn’t stop people being gay. Banning images of violent fantasies won’t prevent people having those fantasies and wanting to act them out. If the Jane Longhurst Trust’s members actually want to do some good, they would have to go out and educate the people with the violent fantasies, instead of pretending that if you can’t see the pictures, they don’t exist. Out of sight, out of mind, just doesn’t work.

Anyway, many many people have written in to the Home Office trying to point this out; and the summary of the results is due to be published. Whether they will be promoting it very heavily probably depends on whether or not they’re minded to go ahead with the proposed law very strongly, or if it will be quietly allowed to run out of parliamentary time. Whatever the government’s publicity machine does, there’s one group of people who will be publicising it heavily: the group set up to campaign against the new law. They’re called the Backlash, and if you want to learn more about what the government is trying to propose, and why it is a bad idea, they have written about it in far more depth than I have room to here. If you want the freedom to do what you like in the bedroom,** go and support them.

* Why? Because I promised someone I’d write about it.

** subject to what your partner tells you to do, of course

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More from London

In which we listen to a friend play


One of the events from my trip to London recently: a gig by the band Montoya, at the Betsey Trotwood pub in Farringdon.* I have an interest to declare, of course: John, Montoya’s lead singer, is someone I’ve known for years, and don’t see at all often enough.**

I’d not seen them play before, but they really were rather good; and I’m not just saying that because John’s a friend of mine.*** Lively, bouncy indie-rock with intelligent lyrics and intelligent chord progressions; look out for them.

I shot off a whole roll of photos, but – like the Shimura Curves gig a few days earlier, I’m not really happy with them. The Shimuras photos had put me off doing natural-light photos; so I went the other way, and produced a roll of brightly-lit shots with horribly detailed backgrounds and hardly any atmosphere. The few I did with natural light were by far the best. Here are some of them; I also didn’t get any good shots at all of the drummer, because he was hiding away at the back.

John from Montoya John from Montoya John from Montoya
Chris from Montoya Peter from Montoya Nick from Montoya

* Directly above the Widened Lines, and almost above the Ray Street Gridiron bridge – if you look at this 1860s picture, the Betsey Trotwood is above the tunnel mouth on the left, now the Circle Line.

** He’s a regular reader, too – hi John! – and there are photos of his daughter Piglet Jaime elsewhere on the site too.

*** or because he’ll be reading this.

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Searching

In which we know what you’re looking for


It’s the end of the week, and it feels like it; I definitely haven’t been getting enough sleep in the past few days. In lieu of something that needs thought and consideration, here’s some search requests.

what food goes best with strawberry beer: the obvious answer that comes to mind is: MORE strawberry beer. It counts as a type of food, I’m sure, much as Guinness is legally a type of low-grade heating oil.*
girl group harmonies – why don’t you try the Shimura Curves!
land of green ginger is a street in Hull, linking Silver St and Manor St
snog work colleague christmas party – my advice is, “don’t”. It’s not as good an idea as you think at the time.** In fact, before you start drinking, take your best office friend aside and say “I know I fancy [Sam/Lisa/Dave/Amy/Fi] in [Sales/Accounts/Admin/Imports/Alien Abduction], but if you see me going anywhere near [her/him], tie my hands behind my back and lock me in the stationary cupboard for half an hour.”
help posing wedding group photos. Stand everyone together. Fiddle around with imposing-looking camera kit. Spend so long faffing that everyone gets bored, then get someone else to snap them quickly when they’re not paying attention. Trust me, it works.
Edinburgh University posh? Ooh, definitely. When I was there, I was one of the least posh people around.
this aye night fire and fleet and candlelight are lines from the Lyke Wake Dirge, which I’ve written about before. I only found recently, though, that it’s used quite a bit in Neil Gaiman‘s classic book Neverwhere which I read recently for the first time in years.***

Things I haven’t managed to write about this week: the band Montoya – who I have a whole roll of photos of that haven’t been scanned yet – the comic-book hero Scott Pilgrim, the sense of ennui and malaise hanging around the office,**** the effect of Too Many Footnotes, and Big Dave’s latest plan for self-improvement. But that’s enough for today, I think.

* the last bit might be a white lie there.

** if you think about it at all at the time, which is probably unlikely.

*** whilst sitting on a train

**** especially when I get my camera out.

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Identity

In which we look at ID Card plans


Some good political news on the way for once: whilst The Guardian is reporting that the goverment ID card scheme is behind schedule with no firm dates set, according to The Register, the scheme is definitely out the window. This is based on a cunning analysis of the various proposals so far, which demonstrates that they can’t possibly be completed by the next election, never mind 2008 as the government has promised.

It’s hopeful news, but it doesn’t mean boneheaded, stupid government decisions won’t keep going on. For one thing, the government is palming a lot of the ID Card preparatory work off onto the Passports Agency, because its position is that the Passports Agency can do pretty much anything the government likes relating to passports, without Parliament or anybody else being able to object. The ID card scheme is getting more and more bad press as time goes on. A cynic might even wonder if some government factions are encouraging anti-card publicity, to make themselves look even better when they claim responsibility for eventually abandoning the scheme. It’s no good abandoning the concept of the little plastic card, though, if the nasty database part of the scheme is still lurking in the bowels of the Passport Agency.

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Pull Shapes!

In which we spot stereotypes


Sometimes, in life, I feel a little out of place. It feels – to coin a metaphor – like I’m the only indiekid in the middle of a goth club.

Sometimes, like on Saturday night, that’s because I’m the only indiekid in the middle of a goth club.

Sometimes, though, you just have to go out, have a few drinks, and make a complete fool of yourself on the dancefloor. I do it far too infrequently, so Saturday night was a whole lot of fun. I made new friends, I bounced around a lot, and I discovered a whole new talent.*

Afterwards, we were in the takeaway over the road; and two men were already waiting there. They looked uber-indie – messy hair, beige t-shirts with witty slogans, and thick-rimmed glasses. “Are you students?” said one of the people I was with.

“Um, no,” they said. “We work over there,” pointing back at the club, “we’ve been watching you lot getting drunk all night.”

“You do look a bit … indie,” I said, rather drunkenly. I wanted to say: I’m one of YOU, really! I might be dressed in black, but I’m not one of these goth types! I’ve got Belle And Sebastian records and everything! I kept quiet, though. I didn’t really care what music I’d just been dancing to, because I’d just had a damn good night.

* Giving neck and shoulder rubs. Apparently I’m very good at it even though I have no idea at all what I’m doing.

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Celebration

In which we embarrass someone


Happy birthday to regular reader Miranda! She’s no doubt far too busy celebrating to be on the internet today, so I can get away with posting embarrassing photos of her without fear of comeback or retribution.

Miranda

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The Doctor*

In which we criticise the finale


So … OK, the Doctor worked out that closing the breach into the Void would suck in all the alternate-universe Cybermen, not to mention the Cult of Skaro refugee Daleks. But did he know beforehand that the Void would somehow manage to suck them all in through one small window, instead of just acting like a big attractor and leaving thousands of Daleks and Cybermen stuck to the side of the Canary Wharf tower?

And am I the only person who thought that a couple of the plot points were lifted directly from The Amber Spyglass? Not just the general travelling-between-universes idea, but more specific things: the breaches between universes causing major climate change; and, of course, the whole ending.

(highlight the following space if you want to read the spoilers)

The ending to write Rose out of the series was, essentially, just like the ending of The Amber Spyglass – two characters with an intense but non-sexual love for each other, who are told they have to stay apart, in seperate universes, because if any of the gaps connecting the universes are kept open then everything will be undone and destroyed.

(end of spoiler space)

The episode did prove one thing beyond doubt, though. Out of Daleks and Cybermen, Daleks have by far the better sense of humour.

* apologies to anyone who didn’t watch the Doctor Who series finale this weekend, so has no idea what I’m on about.

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End of another week

In which we get back to work


You can see, now, why I wanted to end the London post series early – I didn’t want yesterday’s post to merge into it. Yesterday’s post was “written” some time ago, and the last of the London series was written nearly a week early too – see, there is planning involved in some of this.

Not many people at work observed the two minutes silence yesterday, as far as I could tell. I found a quiet part of the building, where I wasn’t on the security cameras and wasn’t likely to be interrupted, so I could spend a few minutes with my own thoughts. From what other people have said, it seems that most of the people I know who were personally affected did something similar – rather than join in some sort of group silence, they found somewhere quiet to sit and think on their own.*

It’s been a bit stressful at work, coming back from a week away and trying to catch up on everything. “That’s nothing,” said Big Dave, “I was working 12-hour days while you were off. And I’ve been told I can’t take any holidays until the end of the month.” Fortunately noone has said anything like that to me since I returned.

Scanning got so boring that I’ve given in and bought an expensive digital camera. I’ve signed up for a Flickr account too, to try to avoid running out of disk space on this site; when there’s more on it than just daft test-shots of myself in the mirror, I’ll link to it.

(and with that, I’m going off out for the weekend. See you next week)

* and eat cake, which is the best way to remember someone who loved baking.

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In memory, of one, and all

In which it goes a bit Tristram Shandy


In memory

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