In which we know what you’re looking for
wemyss bay station
why forests need to be saved – I don’t know, they just do
ravens where to see them in south east england – I’d suggest the Tower, personally
steps of doing long division
computer geekery definition
ball gagged police
why was war between bosnia and serbia – trust me, it’s a long story
gothic and depressive computer desktop backgrounds
goose to blame if i lose my balance
the bad things about solar collectors
I think that’s enough of that
In which it rains
It is of course pissing down. We are loitering within tent.
In which a moralist sets a bad example
Anne Atkins has scared me for a long time, after reading what she did to her son a few months back, I’m absolutely terrified.
In which we go away for a while
Time for a holiday – the tent’s ready, the car’s all loaded, and we’re going camping. Someone will be looking after the site whilst I’m away, I promise.
The mother was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to see at night. She didn’t think I was taking enough torches. I pointed out I had a small torch, a big torch, a medium torch, a wind-up torch, a strap-to-your-head torch, and an album by “heavy stoner pop” band Torche.* That’s enough torches.
* Not to be confused with an organisation called The Gay Conservatives, who apparently used to have the domain name www.torche.gb.org.
In which we don’t see the difference between genders
Yesterday’s Guardian featured a long piece, trailed on the front page, about transsexuality, and how some people have, apparently, been pushed into having sex change operations against their will. A bad, bad thing, of course – people should never be pushed or persuaded into any sort of serious medical treatment.
There’s a good reason to be a bit wary about the article, though. It’s written by feminist activist Julie Bindel, who has a long history of writing anti-transsexuality articles for the Guardian. I assume from this interview that she follows Sheila Jeffreys’ position that gender reassignment is merely a type of cosmetic surgery, and therefore automatically an Evil Thing; and she has a rather nasty authoritarian streak. She knows what is best for all of us, and anyone who thinks otherwise has been diverted from the true path by the male-driven establishment. Or something along those lines, at any rate.
It’s interesting that it comes just the day before the inauguration of Britain’s first transsexual mayor, Jenny Bailey of Cambridge. My paranoid side wondered at first if Bindel had known that was coming when she wrote her article; I doubt it, to be honest. The only downside to Bailey’s position, though, is the fact that it’s a news story at all. In an ideal world, there’s no reason for “Transsexual does X”, or Homosexual does Y” to be a news story at all, in the same way that “Woman does A” and “Minority Person does B” are disappearing from the news. Maybe one day, people really will all be treated just as people – well, I can hope, can’t I?
In which we wind the windows down and sing along
Seeing as Ian loves them so much, I went out at the weekend and bought a copy of the Johnny Boy album. Ian has good taste, I know, and in this particular case he has very good taste indeed.
Capsule review: loud, noisy, nostalgic pop that sounds like it should be pouring out of an ancient transistor radio. I’ve been playing it constantly in the car, turned up full, worrying all the neighbours and anyone waiting to cross the road. The opener, You Are The Generation That Bought More Shoes And You Get What You Deserve seems to have no verses at all, just a catchy hook that builds and builds. Half of the songs on the album are equally catchy, jostling for space in my head, especially Wall Street‘s “300 million down the drain” refrain.
In which we barely recognise someone
…about Neverwhere: it features Tamsin Greig, star of a lot of the best sort of telly, in one of her very first roles – according to IMDB, the first in which they managed to spell her name right in the credits. She plays the reason why your fear of goths* is justified, and I barely recognised her, until she started speaking.
* should you have one, of course.
In which we’re both impressed and disappointed by the BBC
Classic mid-90s fantasy series Neverwhere has recently been released on DVD. As I hadn’t seen it since it was first shown, of course, I had to buy a copy.
I’ve read the book a few times since, most recently last summer, so I was familiar with the plot, the characters, the occasional slight fantasy cliché in the writing.* What I’d forgotten, though, was just what a ten-year-old BBC drama series looked like. I’d forgotten all about the shot-on-video look and the slightly strange sets.** It didn’t detract from the story at all – and, in many ways, it was a very innovative series – but, as a nostalgia trip, it just goes to prove how much TV production has changed in the past ten years, compared to the thirty before that.
* Such as the fantasy character not understanding real-world idioms, particularly someone introducing themselves with both their full name and a nickname, the fantasy character thinking that this is their full literal name. As in the title of this post.
** In particular, Neverwhere has one startling yet absolutely typical BBC studio-production set. The entrance room in the Portico family house: a bare white space, so that no walls are visible, just white background, with pictures of the other rooms of the house suspended at random positions and angles. As a set, it is as close to “typical BBC fantasy” as you can get; you can imagine it being created at any time in the past fifty years.
In which people rarely realise just how man-made our countryside is
On the radio this morning, in between interminable political stuff: a piece about conservation, and particularly about conserving a hay meadow near Cambridge. I’m not sure what was particularly important about this specific meadow – I was too busy driving to listen properly – but I did pick up the presenter waffling on about the natural landscape.
The meadow is next to a major road. “You can hear the traffic on the A14 behind me,” the presenter said, “showing just how we’re encroaching on natural landscapes like this.”
Which is utter and complete nonsense! A meadow is, frankly, about as unnatural a landscape as you can get. It’s entirely as unnatural as, say, Langham Place in central London. I’m glad the conservationist she was interviewing didn’t agree; presumably he knew better. There is a general impression people have, that if we let the land revert to a “natural landscape”, it would end up looking something like a Constable painting; it’s entirely false, and that’s exactly why landscapes such as traditional hay meadows have to be carefully managed if we want to preserve them.
In which we can guess how things are going to turn out
The Eurovision Song Contest has left me in a sulk. Not because it’s silly (that’s a given), but because it’s almost too predictable. As Diamond
Cartographer Geezer’s map shows, the results are based more on geography than writing or performance. It makes me wonder: what’s the point in scoring? What’s the point in having a winner when being the winner is effectively meaningless? Next year, why don’t we just have thirty top-quality songs and forget about all that expensive* premium-rate phone voting? Oh.
For what it’s worth: France and Georgia had the best songs. Sweden put on the best performance, and probably would have won if it wasn’t for nationalism. The proof of this: I haven’t been able to get the French chorus out of my head all day even though I don’t know what any of the words are. Now that’s proof it’s a good song.
* for the callers, not the EBU