Blog : Posts from February 2009 : Page 2

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Ordinary

In which nothing special happens


It’s another ordinary Saturday. We lie in for a bit, then we get up and put the kettle on. We don’t have any plans; we’ll probably watch some of Saturday Kitchen on the telly. K’s brought some work home for the weekend, the car needs a headlamp bulb changing, and of course I can always do a bit of work drafting up some blog posts and tweaking the Secret New Site Design. But, generally, we don’t have any plans big enough to be called plans. It’s just another ordinary Saturday.

Lots of people, of course, will be going out and doing stuff today. They’ll be going out in pairs and trying to have a romantic time together, after giving each other giant cards in Arterial Blood Red. Restaurants will be packed, and shops everywhere will be running out of flowers and chocolates. Because it says, on their calendars, that that’s what you have to do today.

To my mind, though: that makes the day less romantic, not more. You shouldn’t do something special for your special someone, just because of the date. You should do something special for them if you want to show your love, yes, but if you want to show your love you shouldn’t have to wait for today. Christmas is slightly different, it’s a time for getting in touch with people; but Valentine’s Day is something of a pointless exercise.

So, today shouldn’t be different to any other. As a form of affirmative action, we’ve said to each other that we will specifically avoid doing anything special today; we’ll do everything we can to make it as ordinary a Saturday as possible. There are 364 other days in 2009, after all.* I’ll find some way to surprise K, to make her smile and blush, to remind her how much I love her. It won’t be today, though. It’ll be any day she deserves it; any day of the year.

* although, if you want to be pedantic, there are only 320 left after today.

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Photo post of the week

In which we go to Bath


Back in December, for K’s birthday, we took a day out to Bath.

Telegraph pole, Bath Chapel, Bath Advert, Bath
GWR Main Line, Sydney Gardens, Bath Temple, Sydney Gardens, Bath GWR main line, Sydney Gardens, Bath

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Evolving

In which we remember Darwin


Happy birthday Darwin, two hundred today, and probably one of the most important scientists who ever lived. He may not have been the sole person responsible for evolutionary theory – certainly not for modern evolutionary theory – but, as well as being a great scientist, he was a writer, someone who could communicate scientific ideas. That’s more important, sometimes, than the idea itself.

If you’re near Bristol: to commemorate Darwin, Bristol Zoo is offering free entry to anyone who turns up this morning with a beard (real or fake). As I write, there’s about 2 1/2 hours left to claim, so you’ll have to rush.

As it happens, only the other day I was reading a book which reminded me how important it is to remember Mr Darwin, as important as it ever was. Counterknowledge, by Damien Thompson, a short book on a long long subject: how falsehoods such as creationism and pseudoarchaeology are presented as somehow equal to facts and truth. How they are presented by the media as a “debate”, when one side’s evidence greatly outweighs the other.* It’s easy to find people today who believe that evolution is wrong; that somehow, because they find life beautiful, there must be a purpose and a designer behind it. And from there it’s a slippery slope to believing first that species are immutable; and from there, that conservation is unimportant, that God must have given us everything we need, and that Genesis 1:28** gives humanity the right to use up any and all resources that there are.

* as much as the inactive contents of a homeopathic remedy outweigh the active contents, you could say.

** “God said unto [man and woman],*** be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

*** Not “Adam and Eve”, note. Adam and Eve aren’t in the “six days” story of Creation, which this verse is part of. They’re in the second Creation story, which starts at Genesis 2:4; where God creates Adam from the barren earth and then Eden for him to live in.

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Sound And Music

In which we are annoyed by an apparent mime


A busy weekend for us: we had visitors. Well, one visitor, Stu, who came down to explore and discover the city for himself.

Stu’s into electro, somewhat, so we found something on Saturday night that we thought he’d like. “We Live Here”, at the Arnolfini, a live art weekend featuring a gig on the Saturday night. Thinking it might be interesting, we packed into the gallery’s rather crowded bar to see what was going to happen.

Unfortunately, we were a bit disappointed by the first act – in fact, by the first act’s first act, if you see what I mean. Magnús Scheving Magnus Spectrum,* a chap in an orange jumpsuit who bounced energetically around to laptop and keyboard-generated electrical noise, waving a Nintendo Wii controller as he did so, throwing himself about the performance space and almost into the audience. He shook his wrist, and the sound tremolo’d itself.

Now, if you search the net for Magnus Spectrum – which I did, to try to find out if he’s got a website** – you’ll find people saying that he uses the Wii controller as a synth, or as a midi controller, and so on. The Arnolfini’s own website says:

Magnus Spectrum makes physical noise music via Nintendo Wii controller and much leaping about

His Facebook page says: “he performs on synthesiser, using consumer goods as wireless controllers”.

So we stood watching him: me, K, and Stu, who is a big console-gaming fan. And Stu, being the expert, noticed something. According to him, at least, Magnus Spectrum’s Wii controller, with which he was apparently playing his synth, wasn’t actually switched on.***

I’d been a tad suspicious, just because, at some points, the chap appeared to be following the music, not quite on the beat; dancing on the beat is quite hard with arrhythmic music, after all. Stu, though, was adamant. Spectrum had performed once and stopped,**** and nobody else looked likely to be coming onstage any time soon; so we gave up and went for a drink at The Apple instead. Apologies to Freeze Puppy and Chew Magna, whose acts we missed, especially as Chew Magna do seem to be quite good.

Talking it over afterwards: there’s nothing wrong with playing electrical noise and bouncing around energetically to it like a loon. Magnus Spectrum’s dance style wasn’t too unlike my own empty-room crazed bouncing; and I’ve been known to wear orange jumpsuits in my time, too. There’s not even anything wrong with miming, in itself. We left because: there is something wrong with saying “I’m playing this live” when you’re not. Magnus Spectrum did, occasionally, nip over to his keyboard and press a chord. Stu might be wrong, and Magnus might have been using a slightly broken or modded Wii controller; or it might have been a cock-up of some sort. Overall, though, we ended up thinking that he was probably miming, at least as far as the Wii part went; so we decided there were better places to be.

* That isn’t some children’s-entertainment-based insult, by the way. I genuinely am having difficulty with the name “Magnus Spectrum”, because every time I try to think it, Scheving pops into my head instead.

** He’s got a Myspace page under his real name and a Facebook page as Magnus, if nothing else.

*** Stu knows enough about Wiis to know where the controller on-lamp is; he also knows enough to tell us that it was, apparently, an early model of Wii controller. Not that that matters, really.

**** After apparently accidentally shutting himself out of the building – the side door was set to let people out but not in again.

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Haunting

In which we ponder some Being Human world-building issues


Some more notes on Being Human, which continues on the telly for the next few weeks.

There’s something about the show’s universe which has been bothering me slightly. That is: what happens when a ghost, who is invisible to the vanilla world, picks something up? Does it hover in midair? Does it vanish until the ghost drops it? Neither answer seems satisfactory, particularly when a ghost is moving things just out of a human character’s peripheral vision. It seems implausible* for people to see, for example, a casserole dish floating down the street; but what happens when Annie The Ghost then goes and opens the oven door?

Secondly: I’m presuming that we’re going to find out, later in the series, that there is another way to “kill” a ghost. Because, otherwise, everything would be rather unbalanced, and the vampires wouldn’t be quite so cocky. If a ghost can pick up a casserole, it can pick up a stake or a chainsaw. And I’m wondering if Pizza Guy from episode one is going to eventually be a major plot point, given that presumably he’s not human.

Location notes: the hotel in episode three was the Redcliff Hill branch of Hotel Mercure,** and the interiors looked to have been shot on location too. The “crime scene” in episode two, found by Annie chasing an ambulance, was in Warden Road, Bedminster, just off East St.

* Yes, using the word “implausible” when writing about something involving vampires and werewolves does seem slightly silly

** I know there probably isn’t a reason for this, but never mind. Why why why: Redcliff Hill and Redcliff St, but Redcliffe Way and Redcliffe Parade?

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Tiramizoo

In which we have no bread


As people have been asking, here’s the cake that K’s very kindly made me for my birthday. I haven’t actually tasted it yet – as I write this it’s sitting in the fridge – but as all of K’s cooking is wonderful and delicious, I’m sure it will be fantastic.

My favourite pudding is tiramisu, so K came up with a tiramisu-flavoured cake, with a chocolate sponge sandwiched together with the marscapone-cream-egg mixture that she makes her tiramisu from, all liberally laced with Tia Maria. I am entirely responsible, though, for the suggestion of adding Cadburys Animal biscuits, thus turning it into a tiramizoo.

Tiramizoo!

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Photo post of the week

In which we go out in the snow


Another day with no morning bus services, and the roads gridlocked. I walked K to work, taking the camera with me, and watched a lorry get stuck on the hilly part of Bedminster Road. Trying to get towards Ashton, it stopped in a queue of traffic, then realised it couldn’t get started again without risking sliding back down the hill. It sat there, impotent, with its hazard lights flashing, as everyone else tried to drive round either side of it.

And then, I nearly broke a leg trying to take photos of the local station. Slipping at the top of the stairs, I grabbed the handrail frantically as my feet disappeared from underneath me. Best to stick to taking photos from the bridge, I thought.

Snowy industrial estate, Bedminster
Parson St station in snow

At least the train that came was – to a train geek – quite an interesting one. 2D04, from Taunton to Bristol, one of the services on the Taunton-Bristol-Cardiff route that runs with retro 1970s carriages restored to their original condition, although the engines are rather newer.

Class 67 no. 67016 hauling Mk3 carriages at Parson St station
Class 67 no. 67016 hauling Mk3 carriages at Parson St station

And finally: I’m sure it says in the Bible that the last shall be first and the first shall be last. Before we went to bed last night, we looked out of the window to see it snowing again, the street covered in a fresh pristine carpet. We couldn’t resist getting dressed again, and going out for another walk with the camera.

Night snow scene, Bedminster

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Snowed in

In which we consider historical weather and historical labour disputes


Incidentally – while the weather is still cold and the snow is deep again – I should point out that, on this day in 1978, the weather was pretty much the same as it is today. “Country in grip of freeze” all over the papers, and that sort of thing.

The reason I know this is: my mother kept all the press cuttings about it, so she could stick them in her New Baby Book.

The other big thing in the news which she saved clippings of, oddly enough, was: Grimsby workers getting rather upset about foreigners taking their livelihoods away. Back then it was fishermen, who hadn’t quite given up their hopes of fishing in Icelandic territorial waters, even though the main Cod Wars had been over for a few years. Today, of course, it’s oil workers who are going back to work, presumably satisfied that their rather vague demands* have been catered for; the fish industry now sticks to breadcrumbing and battering other people’s fish. This is only a rough guess, based on anecdotal evidence, but I’d say that most of the people working in fish-related jobs in Grimsby are migrant workers – largely, as I said before, because they’re the people who apply for factory-line jobs nowadays.

* An awful lot of the strikers interviewed on TV didn’t seem awfully sure what their demands even were, or what it would take to get them back to work. “We’re sending a message to Gordon Brown, that someone will have to do something?” “What will they have to do?” “Um … well, I dunno, but someone is going to have to do something

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Anniversary

In which FP remembers things that happened on this day


On this day last year, we spent most of the day travelling, in the car, on planes and in airports. We drove from Yorkshire to Manchester; hopped from Manchester to Denmark and from Denmark on to Latvia. I spent quite a few blogposts beforehand writing about how excited I was; but only a couple, afterwards, talking about how great the trip had been.

Today isn’t going to be nearly so exciting. The Parents are coming to visit for the day; and we are spending the day shepherding them around, letting them take us out to lunch, trying not to get too annoyed with them, before taking them back for their train home.

Nevertheless, for me, this is a bit of a special day. It’s the first birthday that I’ve had since me and K have been living together properly; so it’s definitely going to be one to remember.*

* My 0x1fth birthday, if you must know. I have asked K if next year I can have a cake with “20” on it, and she looked at me suspiciously.

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Obligatory Snow Post Of The Week

In which we resist the temptation to make a snowman


We didn’t think that this part of the country got much snowfall. Indeed, compared to elsewhere, it didn’t; and it was late, when it started. But by yesterday lunchtime it was coming down thickly, although not so thickly that I was dissuaded from wrapping up in hat and gloves and going down the street with the camera, hastily pulling it out from under my coat to take a shot and shoving it back away before too much snow melted on it. This morning, still, there was the telltale glow from behind the curtains.

Snow day

Snow day

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