Symbolic Forest

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More from the archives

Or, a nice photo

Recently, I finished editing the second month of posts from The Old Blog and published them on here. One of them included this line:

I had half an hour spare this afternoon, so I reordered all my CDs. By colour, the colour of the spine of the CD case. The plain-white and plain-black shelves don’t look that nice, but there’s a lovely graduation of the rest from dark red through orange to green and then blue.

It really was the worst way to file your CDs when you actually want to find something, but the coloured ones did look pretty. And—I thought—I’d also found a photo to prove it! I’d taken a picture, back then, of The Cat sleeping precariously balanced on top of them, showing the filing-by-colour. Or, at least I thought I had. I found the photo, and it must have been from before then. It’s still a cute photo, though.

The Cat

And as it’s a cute photo, I thought I’d show it anyway. It was probably taken on a Pentax ME film SLR originally; I do still have the negatives too.

A blast from the past

Or, digging out some old words

As it’s New Years Day, time for a new start and all that, I’ve … er … done what I said I was going to do back in November, and started to pull out posts from my previous blog, of twenty years ago, edit them and post them on here.

In my mind, this blog and that blog are effectively equivalent, so it’s strange to realise that I only kept that site going for two or three years or so. Compared to the not-quite-one-thousand posts on here, the old blog was hardly anything. Nevertheless, I still think it’s worth copying over some of the highlights, not that any of the handful of posts moved so far count as highlights. So far I’ve done March 2002, starting from the start, but starting a project is half the battle if you ask me.*

In the meantime, while I do more editing, there haven’t been many photos posted on here lately. So here’s one I uncovered on the old hard drive, from the Edinburgh period of my life. Going by the filename, this was taken in the Holyrood Tavern, which dates it to around 2003, before it changed hands and most of the regular clientele moved over to the Auld Hoose instead. I hope none of the people in the photo mind; but they’re probably a bit too blurry for a stranger to recognise them anyway.

Inside the Holyrood Tavern

Happy New Year!

* The Plain People Of The Internet: Is that why you never finish any?

A prelude

Or, some prehistory

A couple of times recently, I’ve mentioned that I’ve been pulling data off the hard drive of my old desktop computer, nested inside which was the home folders from the previous desktop computer, and nested inside those, those from the one before that. So, lots of rather old files to go through, and there will be more photos to post I promise. One thing I’ve uncovered that I didn’t think I had, though, was a text-only archive of the posts from my old blog.

Back in August I noted that this blog had turned sixteen. This was, in a way, a slight piece of misdirection. I had another blog before that, hosted by an online friend, which had run for a few years prior. Next spring, it will be twenty years since I started writing that site; it lasted just over three before, due to one reason and another, I dropped it and began this one.

Looking back at some of the posts, for the first time in a very long time, I’m slightly surprised by the tone of some of the writing. I had essentially no filter, and openly talked about exactly what I’d been doing, where I would be, visits to the doctor, what clubs and gigs I would be at, things I would never think of mentioning now. I refer to myself by name, which I never do now.

This blog, since its restart, has tended towards fairly long, rambling, in-depth posts in which I can go into a single topic in detail; and partly that’s down to its publish process, which makes it straightforward and simple* to host and manage, at a cost of being slightly clunky to add a new article. Every new post, essentially, requires the whole site to be re-uploaded so that the menus on every page are still correct, and that takes time to do. So, I don’t tend to write small posts. The old blog, managed using Movable Type, was full of one-liner diary entries about what I’d had for my tea, or what clothes I’d just bought.

Not all of the posts are like that, though; aside from some of the very personal things, there is for example a very fun and cheery account of my first proper trip abroad. I think I might actually get around to doing something I’ve been threatening to do ever since this blog first started. The first post on this site is itself a piece of misdirection, claiming to be a clean fresh start whilst at the same time saying that earlier writing might at some point make an appearance. If I can edit them into a format that fits this blog—changing people’s names to make them all consistent, bringing in The Plain People Of The Internet to handle the “fake outside reader” voice which was already occasionally present—without actually losing their style and flavour, I might some time soon get around to doing it.

* Not to mention cheap.

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.