Wednesday, September 29, 2004


being a believer in my dear mother's mantra that, if you've got nothing to say, don't say it, I choose to continue applying it for the moment. but pause to note that all my images seem to have disappeared. whoops.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

it has words and pictures in it

this is a magazine - issue 13 - the coolest magazine on the web?

Saturday, September 25, 2004

did you know? (part one of a 'please tell me it ain't so' series):

Q: Is it allowed in Islam for a Muslim boy to fall in love with a Muslim girl?
A: Nope (at least, not according to this guy)

Thursday, September 23, 2004

the everlasting (well, quite old) lightbulb

we moved into our present house in September 1988. there was a tiny bathroom with no central heating, but with the generous heating concession of a 150-watt infra-red reflector bulb hanging from the light-fitting in the ceiling which barely took the edge off the winter mornings. when the boys were born we had a radiator installed, and I replaced the heating bulb with a more decorous lighting attachment. ever the thrift, I installed the heating bulb in the downstairs toilet instead, intending to replace it (it's incredibly ugly) as soon as it blew. it's been there ever since.

very tall men complain of its burning their heads when they have a pee.
sixteen years.
only another 87 to go to beat the
Livermore Firestation Lightbulb.

Sunday, September 19, 2004


Joe Simpson talking to Sue Lawley on Desert Island Discs this morning: he's the climber whose near-fatal accident the movie Touching the Void (2003) was based on. one of those stories that just makes you gape in awe at this ability to survive that some people have. all the usual questions about just what is it that drives a man to such extremes of self-imperilment and so on. he's a remarkably lucid and intelligent guy, and refreshingly modest, for a change, about his exceptionality.
but he turns out to be a coward.
his story epitomises the heroic virtues of courage and self-reliance in conditions that were as close to being impossible as it's possible to get. nothing can detract from that. but when he was asked why he'd never married, he replied, first, because he'd never had any desire to have children, but then, when further pressed, said it's because he 'didn't see the point in entering into the sort of commitment that's statistically very likely to end in failure' - and concluded that 'all that pain - it isn't worth the love'.
one of the bleakest confessions I've ever heard.
which isn't to say that he's wrong - just unusually honest.
and a coward.
we tend to look to people such as Joe to provide guidance about the Big Things - we regard people who've looked Death in the face as being automatically imbued with superior insight about the scary stuff; they're our latter-day shamans, a sort of conduit, given the palpable failure of the professional priests, to the Great Unknown. they have earnt the right to pontificate on matters that we lesser mortals can only philosophise about. so it's faintly disheartening to discover that Joe's brush with death, rather than heightening his taste for life, as we might expect, has, rather, blunted it into a somewhat bland pragmatism: given, he's saying, that the odds against love enduring are so demonstrably huge, why gamble against the risk of the inevitable pain of its failing?
it's too easy to explain Joe's fear of love in behaviourist terms: he was, after all, sent to Ampleforth (a famously repressive all-boys Catholic public school) as a boarder from the age of eight, and all parents who do that to their sons are effectively guaranteeing that they will grow into perfect fuck-ups (highly self-reliant, emotionally crippled fuck-ups). it's too easy, in truth, to judge a man on his own analysis of his emotional limitations: who knows what the full story is? certainly not Joe. what's interesting - and, I think, infinitely sad - is that a man who almost died in the course of betting his life against a mountain, and who returned, after recovering, to the same way of life, could never find it in himself to take the same risk for the sake of love.

Friday, September 17, 2004

bad news

"Your calculated health span is 104.1 years. Below, please find the reasoning behind the questions which you answered"
what'll I do, what'll I do?

Living to 100 Calculator

Thursday, September 16, 2004

country matters

in support of our historic right to do what the hell we like on our own land as long as it's not illegal, I invite my newly-politicised chums to join me after the demo at next weekend's hamster-throwing fiesta at The Bilious Yeoman, Farrington Gurney - monkey-roast, bear-bile extraction video, debeaking competition; talk: 'from paté de foie gras to veal - six politically incorrect courses' by Mrs Eileen Rushworth; and in the kiddies tent - Freddie the Blackface Frog-Stomping Clown and The Passion of The Christ. (and as Yom Kippur approaches: ritual chicken-swinging.) all proceeds in aid of cosmetics-related animal research. wear your fur with pride.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

allergy testing

we were talking over supper about earth magic and mysteries, and I was confessing that despite, or perhaps because of living in Glastonbury, whereas I used to be something of a ley-line obsessive - dousing maps with a pendulum, even, to add to the lattice of lines I'd already discovered either from research or plotting churches and milestones and springs and so on - I'd become considerably more sceptical about all that stuff in my silver years. so, whereas I still firmly believe that there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy, I'm disinclined to subscribe to the belief that things like the Nazca lines were or crop circles are anything other than supremely enigmatic (and wonderful) works of art.
"I quite agree," replied my interlocutor - an academic colleague of Mel's who I'd only just met, and from whom I'd expected nothing less (nice bloke, but with that air of frayed-cuff pragmatism that hangs around people who spend a lot of their time in libraries), "although when my daughter was diagnosed with ME, and no treatment seemed to be having any effect at all, I ended up taking her to a healer kind of person who said he wanted to test her for allergies, and his way of doing this was to line up a series of foods and drinks in small containers and ask her to touch each one of these in turn whilst at the same time closing her eyes and extending her other arm: he said he would then exert slight pressure downwards on that arm, and when my daughter came to something she might be reacting to, he'd be able to experience a slight resistance. now, my daughter was so weak by then that she couldn't actually hold her arm out for any length of time, so he said no matter - I could help - all I had to do was touch her shoulder whilst she passed her hand across these containers, and hold out MY arm whilst keeping my eyes closed. well, I thought, sounds absurd, but no harm in trying. so I put one hand on her shoulder as he had asked and shut my eyes and held out the other - I felt a bit ridiculous, I must say - and she started touching each of these containers in turn - they were opaque, so we didn't know what was in them anyway - and he placed one of his hands over the back of my outstretched palm, and asked me to resist the downward pressure he was exerting. it was perfectly easy to do this, and I became a little distracted, and I thought, I'm going to start giggling in a minute, but then, suddenly, I became aware that he was making a little noise, a kind of grunt, and I opened my eyes and glanced to the side, and realised that he had both of his hands hooked around mine and was practically swinging from my arm - which was perfectly rigid."

Thursday, September 09, 2004

it's a fucking CHAIR, man!

"Rodney McMillian's work limns absence as an unmitigated presence. His take on absence is more sensuous than cerebral. He doesn't deconstruct the idea of absence and then rebuild it as a dialectical opposition, positing that what's not seen, felt, experienced is as significant, perhaps more so, as that which is. He waxes nostalgic, as Van Gogh does in his painting of the empty chair in which sat his chum Paul Gauguin when he dropped in for a visit to Arles. The subject of both McMillian's show and this painting of Van Gogh is not our reaction to a void but our innate tendency to venerate the void itself as something sacred and iconic."


(it sold for £2800 by the way)

(thanks to weblog v2)

Thursday, September 02, 2004

welcome to the twenty-first century

REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
Priyanka, 3, an Indian slum girl, breaks stones next to her siblings on the banks of the river Mahananda in the north-eastern Indian city of Siliguri August 29, 2004. Priyanka earns 150 rupees ($3) a week. Over 400 million people in India live below the internationally agreed poverty line (living on less than US $1 per day).

Wednesday, September 01, 2004


it's been a while since I looked directly at The Sun (you go blind, y'know) so it needed a nudge-nudge-wink-wink from Bloggerheads to draw my attention to the fact that Page 3 models seem now to have developed speech-ballooned political opinions to add to their usual assets. porn has always been a (snigger) tool of propaganda, and The Sun has always been nothing more than a liberal-bashing organ (double-snigger) peddling the neo-fascist Murdoch's world view to the feeble-minded and the gullible (all three-and-a-half million of them, godhelpus). it nevertheless comes as a bit of a surprise to discover that the indisputable authority of the lovely Shell Jubin (BA Hons [First Class] in Art History, University of Glasgow, fourth-placed contestant in this year's Big Brother, Page 3 girl Monday August 23rd) has been dragooned into shaming the wussie Page 3 knockers (triple snigger) with her definitive put-down:
"Those who sneer at Page 3 lack intelligence."
*hangs head*

(update - so many google searches on 'shell jubin nude' - so much disappointment - the relevant archive for The Sun Page 3 is here. her appearance was on 23/08/2004. you're welcome.)