+++*

Symbolic Forest

A homage to loading screens.

Blog : Posts from April 2007

Commerciality

In which we recognise some music

I was pleased and slightly surprised the first time I heard the band Camera Obscura on the radio. I was even more surprised the first time I turned on the radio at random and heard a Camera Obscura song playing.*

We were sat, lazing about watching telly, the other night, and the adverts came on. There was an advert for Tesco clothes. With, I was rather amazed to realise, a Camera Obscura song as its backing. “Bloody hell,” I said, fainting slightly. However famous they keep on getting, I’m not sure I’m ever going to get used to it.

* it was on Radio Two, at about 4am on a Sunday morning; I was driving a friend home from a club and had just dropped her off at her house.

Here be dragons

In which we wish for the return of something from childhood

In the news today: the BBC says that Moira Stuart definitely has to retire, as they get rid of newsreaders and replace them with Proper Journos. Personally, I still believe Stuart‘s best days were spent in dragon form – maybe if the news doesn’t want her, then that will return instead. Well, we can hope.

Road safety

In which the area is notorious for something

You often see stuff about road safety on the telly. Less often, things about specific roads. And it’s very rare for this area – the Forest, if you like to think of the Symbolic Forest as a physical place – to get on the telly at all. So when I heard that there was an hour of Channel Four last night solely devoted to road safety in this area, I had to watch it. Even more specific than that: it was purely about one road, the one from here down to Somerset.

We didn’t manage to watch the whole thing; the catalogue of deaths was just too depressing. It wasn’t helped by my habit of saying “That’s the bend coming out of Fir Park” or “That’s just by Cottagers’ Plot” when random stretches of road were shown on-screen; I spend so much time trying to get out of this area, I know all the main roads out of here in great detail. As we didn’t see it through to the end, I don’t know if the documentary tried to offer up any reason why that particular road is so dangerous. All we got was: people round here are crap at driving.

This may be true. Certainly, in my experience, it is true. People in London, say, may have a reputation for bad, aggressive driving, but people in this area are good at sloppy, careless driving; or drunk, too-fast driving; and that’s what leads to so many people dying on a fairly short, fairly ordinary road. It’s because, paradoxically, this area is quiet and isolated, compared to the rest of the country. The question is: is there anything we can do about that?

Red cross

In which we eat roast beef

Today, of course, we should all be marching around with a bulldog on the end of a string, eating roast beef and Yorkshire puddings,* and generally Being Patriotic. It’s St. George’s Day, so all English people should rise up and be proud of their Englishness.

The Plain People Of The Internet: Hang on there! What’s this siren going off here for?

A Siren (unnamed): Weee-oooo, weee-oooo (etc).

Ah, I see you’ve found my new Excess Sarcasm Alarm then.** Damn, I thought for a minute there was a risk you might believe me. Here’s a tip: if anyone tells we should be doing more to celebrate it, back away slowly. You could always suggest they move to Sofia, or anywhere else in Bulgaria, where St George’s Day is celebrated rather more fervantly than here. I’m always wary of patriotism for patriotism’s sake. If you want to be patriotic, go out and make your community a better place, every day of the year.

* even though they taste much better with lemon and sugar, like pancakes. The pudding, not the beef.

** Only £15.99 from all good electronics stores, as soon as I can find enough unobtanium to power them all

Grump

Or, when things tend to go wrong in groups

Why do things happen together? Why do bad events congregate, and bad things happen at the same time? Why do unrelated things all break, and why is it always the Most Important People who break things.

Like on Friday at work; when the Managing Director’s daughter’s laptop needed fixing; then, the MD’s email became corrupt enough to crash the email server; then, a Very Important piece of software, without which we do not get paid, lost its internal databases to file corruption. All unrelated machines, unrelated events. There’s no way any of them are connected, I’m absolutely sure about that, so why did they all happen together?

Especially when, on Saturday morning, H’s laptop bluescreened itself and then refused to boot. Checking its disk for errors resolved things,* but not before H had had a major panic that the whole machine had died. Oh, and then, H’s DVD player decided to spit out loud white noise instead of any audio it was supposed to be playing. The last few days have left me tired, stressed, and annoyed at the slightest little thing, because it feels as if every piece of hardware around me is set to attack.

* apparently resolved things, at any rate. I am wary of what may have caused the original bluescreen.

This is not going to turn into a Doctor Who blog, honest

Or, an exercise in guessing the ending

Ardal O’Hanlon is bound to turn up in Doctor Who again, before long. The only question is, when:

  • Later in this series
  • Some time in the next series
  • Don’t be silly, Russell T Davies has already spent BBC Wales’s entire makeup budget for the next five years.
  • Answers on a postcard as usual, to Symbolic Towers, Iambic Avenue, By The Banks Of The Swampy Tea-Brown Swamps, The Forest.

Seriously, there’s logic behind this. The only minor characters to appear in both New Series One and New Series Two were your giant face chap, and Cassandra, both in the same episodes. The second of which also introduced Nurse Thingy Cat-Face.* Now, the only minor characters to return in New Series Three have been… your giant face chap again, and Nurse Cat-Face. Logic suggests that in the next series, then, Ardal O’Hanlon and his wife will come back, because they were the only decent characters at all in Saturday’s episode.** Logic, you know, is unarguable.

H rather liked Saturday’s episode, incidentally, for resurrecting a monster not seen since ye olde Black And White days. H is far more of a Doctor Who geek than I will ever be.

* Wikipedia suggests her proper name is Novice Hame, and that she’s apparently classed as a Henchman. Ooh!

** I keep trying not to imagine Mrs Brannigan giving birth, and failing. Must … wipe … mind 

Devotion

In which The Parents are keeping track of all the numbers

The Parents have always been fans of gadgetry. Moreover, whenever they get a new gadget, they become strangely devoted to it. I can still remember, when I was small, and The Parents bought a dehumidifier. My mother set it up in the middle of the kitchen with its back off, sat down in front of it on the uncomfortable kitchen stool, and watched it operate: watched the ice slowly and imperceptibly build up on its freezing tubes, before melting off again into the collection bucket.

My dad’s always been worst, if anything, so I knew what would happen as soon as his latest toy was fitted. A solar water heating system, complete with dials and gauges and sensors and settings to tweak. As soon as someone gets in the shower, Dad is in the airing cupboard watching all the sensors slowly change, checking that the solar pump starts up at the right point,* watching the water tank temperature, the solar collector temperature, the glycol flow rate, the system pressure, monitoring all the dials he possibly can. And, as soon as you get out of the shower: “Was it hot enough? The tank temperature was down to fifteen degrees – the pump activity reached 90% because the collector was still up around thirty”.

He loves it; he loves tracking all the various numbers. But, as a wise person once said: just because something is measurable, or tweakable, doesn’t mean it’s worth measuring or tweaking.** Nevertheless, I wouldn’t be surprised if, the next time I see him, he’s started drawing graphs.

* Yes, we have an energy-efficient environmentally friendly solar water-heating system now: so why does it need an electric pump, powered by our local gas-fired power station no doubt, to run it?

** I have no idea who first said that, but I’m sure I first read it in Essential System Administration.

Life in front of the telly

In which we get a bit pedantic

I was expecting to be disappointed by the ending of Life On Mars, and, of course, I was. There was no way, to my mind, that they could wrap everything up and leave everyone happy, because too many contradictory things had gone before.* The ending I had in my head was, to my mind, a better one, but that of course is because it’s the sort of ending I like.

Still, at least, the ending was a lot braver than many that could have been written – braver for the BBC to produce, I mean, not necessarily braver for the writers to write. And the “it was all in his head all along” resolution is a handy get-out clause for all the little anachronistic niggles that pedants like me notice – there’s no way a Victorian stonemason would have used nicknames like “Sam” and “Vic” on a tombstone; the game of noughts and crosses on the TV test card was wrong; and those maroon railway vans were 10 years out of date for ’73, they should have been blue to match the engine.** Like I said with Doctor Who the other week: it’s all entertainment, and we shouldn’t try to read to much into it. There’s no point searching for hidden messages, Baconian-style, when the writer is here to tell us there aren’t any.

* specifically, episode one of series two, where the audience is at least led to believe that Sam’s behaviour in “1973” can radically alter the present day.

** which was, at least, pretty much correct for the period, albeit not entirely