Symbolic Forest

A homage to loading screens.

Blog : Posts from July 2002

You can always try asking

Some information arrives from the BBC

A few days ago, I talked about SOS Messages, as broadcast on Radio 4.

So, I wrote to the BBC. “When did you last broadcast one?” I said. “Would you still broadcast one if necessary?”

And, apparently, they would do. If the right people asked, they would put out an SOS message before the 7am news and before the 6pm news. Presumably, it’s just that nobody has asked recently.

They were too busy to find out when the last SOS message was broadcast. Which is understandable; I guess it’s not really the sort of thing that gets archived. In future, I’ll set my alarm clock five minutes early, so if one gets sent again I’ll hear it.

Update, 14th October 2022: The BBC did finally stop issuing SOS Messages on Radio 4, evidently a few years after I wrote to them, but later they seemed rather unsure when the service officially stopped.

The last thing you expect

Sometimes it's a surprise when things go well

Monday morning, back in the office, and nothing seems to have gone wrong over the weekend! Everything is still working!

That’s the second week in a row that nothing has broken or crashed whilst I’ve been away. It’s almost like there’s a pattern emerging. Touch wood, of course.

Saint Marys' Spires (and other lyrics)

In which the city makes me think of music

Of course, in the end we didn’t discuss Festival stuff at all, just drank ate and gossipped. After that, we wandered round the New Town looking for ideal places for our next Picnic (next Saturday), and looking in people’s front windows.

Notes on Thai food: if you see small purple chili-shaped things, that is what they are. Do not chew them, or your mouth will be irradiated.

As we walked around the New Town in the dusk, it started to rain. That part of the city in the rain always makes me think of Clientele songs, so as we walked I was humming softly to myself. The rain got heavier, fluming down the gutters of the steeper streets. At the corner of Queen Street and Dublin Street, the gutters were overflowing and pouring over the pavement and downhill in a rippled sheet.

We popped into a late-opening bookshop to think up cunning incentives to get people to come to the picnic. We went to a bar and dripped on the floor. Everyone else looked too stylish for me to feel comfortable in my sensible outdoor raincoat.

Oi! Tourist! Get out of my way!

In which the Edinburgh summer inexerobly approaches

So tonight, I’m off out for a meal with people (woo!) and we’re going to talk about what we want to go and see at the various Edinburgh Festivals. Because they’re almost here already.

I noticed that Richard Bloomfield* has already started to put up on his site a list of the best stuff to go and see. I never have a clue what I want to see at the Festival, which is why I usually end up staying in and grumbling about the tourists getting in my way all the time. I’m tempted to make my own list, of events I might like, and tell you that they’re all rubbish. “Don’t go and see The Show That Caitlin Really Wants To See Show, it’s awful. You’d have more fun if you poured buckets of cold penguin spit over yourself.” That way, the word gets around, and I get to sit on my own watching the show and laughing evilly at my cunning plan. Afterwards, I get the bonus of telling everyone: “it’s really good, where were you?” and being all smug when it becomes a cult West End hit or whatever.

OK, I’m not really that evil. Laziness is more my thing; not bothering to go. Do penguins spit, anyway?

* Update, October 14th 2022: The link this originally went to is now very, very dead; and although there are other bloggers called Richard Bloomfield on the internet, I’m not 100% which is the former Edinburgh one.

...last believed to be on a camping holiday near Wolverhampton

How to get hold of someone in an emergency

Back at work again today. All the machines seem to be still ticking over nicely, which is quite a surprise. I’m not sure whether being back is a good thing or a bad thing; the weekend off ended up being rather traumatic.

Yesterday, I went to the New Acquisitions exhibition at the National Gallery of Modern Art. Most of it was rather good, but one installation was rather frightening. A video-installation piece called Breathing Space—I can’t remember the artist’s name—which showed two people laid down with their heads inside plastic bags, the noise of their breathing amplified and deafening. It was horrific, like some awful slow-motioned fetish film. I couldn’t watch, and dashed outside

Well, that’s not true. First, I went to the gift shop and bought some postcards. But then I dashed outside, and breathed as deeply as I could.

When I was little, we would go away camping, and we’d always listen to the evening news on Radio 4. Before the news, they would send out SOS Messages. I’ve not heard one for years, and I keep wondering if they ever still make them. “Will Mr and Mrs John Smith of Auchtermuchty, last believed to be on a cycling tour of Brittany, please get in touch with Ward Z, Queen Margaret Hospital, Dunfermline. It is about their son John Smith Junior, who is dangerously ill.”

If they’ve gone, when was the last one made? What was it about? Who were all those people?

Update, 14th 2022: The last questions were answered in a way, a few days later.


The art of the sneeze

I went outside today, but it was not a good idea. It was 8 hours ago, and I’ve been in sneezing fits ever since. Bloody hayfever.


Some good news balances out the bad

I haven’t been feeling very good lately. Pretty depressed. Very depressed, in fact.

Then, last night, I was drifting off to sleep whilst listening to the midnight news, and I started smiling and softly crying. Because this was on the radio.

I didn't ask for a holiday...

Not that it was one, really

… but the boss has decided to go away for a few days, and he’s the only one with the keys. So, the office itself is empty, and I have to just keep an eye on things from afar.

I’ve started recognising some of the same people I pass every day on the way to work, as I’m walking through the Meadows. Today, the Lesbian Couple were crossing Melville Drive at the same time as me, but I didn’t see the Girl With Cute Pink Trainers.

I did see lots of men in black suits and white bow ties, so i think it must be graduation week at the university. They all looked so well-groomed and confident. My graduation, I just looked like me. The photos are awful; they’re up on my parents’ wall right next to my dad’s graduation ones.

Walking through the Meadows every day plays hell with my hay fever. It feels like insects everywhere trying to crawl inside my nose and eyes and ears and scratching the back of my throat. Not nice. I wish it didn’t happen, and I could have summers without my nose gumming up, and sneezing all the time. I’ve been sleeping awfully because every time I lay down my sinuses just fill up with goo.

Head, meet wall; bang bang bang

Or, things were not going very well

Today, work is just fixing my own stupid mistakes again. All morning, so far. Why is it always on Mondays, too? Grrr.

Still, noone has sent me any emails telling me I’m incompetant for several days now, which has to be a good sign.

Primrose Hill, Staten Island

On starting to feel old

This morning, on the way to work, I was listening to the first Saint Etienne album, and I suddenly thought: “Eeep, this music is over ten years old”.

It was a bit of a shock, really. I can cope with the idea that stuff from the seventies, or the early eighties, is old. But the music I was listening to when I was a teenager, when I first started to get into pop music—that’s still modern, isn’t it?

I had a similar sort of feeling the other night, at the B&S gig, when they sang the line: “It’s 1995: the girls are just friends.” Bloody hell, that’s seven years ago! I tend to forget that it’s over five years since I first bought one of their albums, and Sinister’s fifth birthday in a couple of months.

I guess all this just means I’m old now. Still, I’m hopefully going to see a friend in London at the weekend, and he’s sufficiently older than me (5 years? something like that) to make me feel like a wee kid still.

Update, 14th October 2022: I’m not sure what I would have made, when I wrote this, of the idea that 19 years later I’d finally get to see Saint Etienne live and they’d still be including the song the title of this post is taken from in their setlist—although Sarah did need a crib-sheet for the lyrics to that particular one.