Stun the Cat


This is something I wrote a long time ago. I'm not sure of the version, because I just unearthed it at mine and everyone else's favourite cheeky webspace lender, Virginstudent.
Anyway, the latest version has made every girl I've given it to cry.
In a good way.
You make up your own mind.

Alice and David

Be gentle.

Written before I started going out with someone called Alice, by the way. Just so you know.
Update: I've just had a quick scan and it's full of punctuation mistakes. Be sure that it isn't a finished version! Sorry. I'll do something about that on Monday.

Seeing Ghosts


This probably isn't going to be what you're expecting. If it is, then you know me too well.

Computer games - you've played them, right? Racing games? Driving games where you have to better a certain lap time?

I thought so. If not, did you know that there are racing games where you have to best a certain lap time?
There are.

In some of these games there is a 'ghost' - a representation of you on your last attempt, or on your best time. It's a shadowy, more transparent version of you. It helps. You can race it.

On my way towards the office this morning, I caught sight of my reflection in the glass wall of the supermarket and wondered what it would be like if I could see the ghosts of my working days.

From my front door I would span out in a myriad number of routes to work, at a number of times. Many of me would turn right to walk through the estate, a few would go left and cross the road to the bus stop. We would fan out, accelerate, slow down, stop to buy gum, stop to watch the sunrise, stop to buy Nurofen, and then slide back together at my desk, at or near enough 9am. There would be snippets of conversation that would be the same for most of them.
'Any plans for the weekend?', 'Good weekend?', 'Anyone coming to Asda?'...
Getting up, sitting down, talking, typing, joking, reading, blogging, eating, drinking, drawing, sketching, using a calculator and suffocating under my hoarded piles of reports.


Look around.
What would all yours be doing right now?

Autumn is a'cumen in, lewd sing coocoo


More gratuitous bloggers' pics of Autumn, over at the Photoblography.

Don't forget to vote in the poll, below!

Well, it seems that Halloween has rolled around again. Phew! I thought we were going to miss it for a minute there.

To celebrate, the good people of St. Albans are having...a night of fireworks.

Alice and I will be in attendance in Verulamium Park with, no doubt, literally tens of other people.

I will be making marvellous soup to take with us, as well as the traditionally sarcastic, "Ooooh," and "Aaaah," noises at the smaller fireworks.

Hatfield, on the other hand, is full of lively and zestful youngsters, out and about looking for some ripping adventures.
They can take the form of milling around, stealing cars, or merely hurling eggs at passing buses. Now that fireworks are freely available in almost every shop in town, things are bound to get interesting, and for the last few days, our afternoon office has sounded as though there is a Star Wars(TM) speeder doing laps, as a high pitched whine dopplers past the windows every so often...

Since the landlord filled the pond in (with the rockery - mystery solved!), there is now a large, earthy launch pad, foresquare in the centre of our garden.

We shall have to see if I can put it to good use!

Curiosity Found, No Cats In Sight


In the ongoing spirit of excessive polls....(please excuse the excessive amount space here you may use it to think in)

Blogeotypes: Who out of these famous historical characters do you think would have been most likely to have a blog?
Joan of Arc
Attila the Hun
Alexander the Great
Julius Caesar
Leonardo da Vinci
Albert Einstein
John F. Kennedy


Free polls from

Getting To Know You: Eyes Higher


Say this to yourself in a speedy internal monologue:

I accept that the following post is a representation of Stuart's personal beliefs and is an account of his experiences with organised religion I also accept that this does not have any bearing on my own views on religion, faith, or my own personal beliefs.

Thank you. Now read on.

As a child, I attended a Catholic Primary School, and a Catholic Middle School.
So, to address that famous quote, the church had me to the age of thirteen.

They haven’t got me any more.

My Mother was brought up as a Roman Catholic, and so, when she had me and my sister, she naturally introduced us to the church. We were religious church attendees until shortly after my First Holy Communion (capitals included through some sort of backdated respect), when my parents told me that I could choose my own religious path.

I weighed up the choice between walking through the town to St. Wilfrid’s and having a newly attractive lie-in on a Sunday morning.

So in truth, I began my path to atheism through laziness and sloth.

Being a guilt-wrought kinda guy, I occasionally went back on my own, but free of parental control, I began to look around me with startling clarity.

Why had we never sat in the front pews?
They were seemingly reserved through some sort of non-verbal contract for some of the older parishoners; those who did duties around the church and the church hall. Going on my own, I decided that I would sit there. There was much harrumphing and clearing of throats, but no one said anything. How supremely British.

I felt an enormous sense of liberation. All of a sudden I could see the snottiness in the gazes of those in the choir, who sat in a raised box at the back of the church and changed key mid-hymn just because they bloody well could, dragging the rest of the congregation tonally behind them – I could see the jealous segregation of the front pew, I could see the suspiciously dark red nose of the priest, and to be honest, looking around me, I couldn’t see a group of people united before a loving God.
I saw a piety contest.

I left and took up the habit of the Sunday morning lie-in with a clear conscience.

In fact, the only bit I miss about going to church is the ancient and decrepit-looking guy who used to play the church organ. He seemed impressively old and seemingly close to death, even back then. For all the hymns and songs throughout the mass, he toed the line, and played the tunes...or as close as he could get.
But the second that the priest ended the mass, he was there at the keys with almost supernatural energy, providing superb renditions of all of the best World War Two film themes that there ever were. Even at the tender age of eleven, I could appreciate the comedy of filing out of church to the tune of ‘The Great Escape’, and ‘The Dambusters’ and ‘633 Squadron’ will always reminds me of the smell of incense and floor polish.

There was a story in the Island newspaper not so long ago about an organist who was fired from his job at a crematorium for playing unsuitable music.

I hope to my non-existent god that it was him.

New Series - Getting To Know You


Just a few per the brief: readable bits of my life...only slightly further back in time than the regular posts.


Here goes then...

I've bumped into a few celebrities in my time. Once or twice, I've spoken to them.

Generally, I make an arse of myself.

Lowlights include being rudely blanked by the gorgeous Sophie Ellis Bextor at Reading '98, being slowly squashed on a sofa by the Sugababes' enormous manager during a live broadcast and so being unable to say anything, and making a drunken knob of myself whilst in a pub with Chris Moyles, Comedy Dave, Will and several other Radio One people.

I seem to be unable to stop it happening.

One occasion crowns the lot of them though. The worst thing about it was the esteem in which I held the celebrity concerned. I loved his voice and the music of his band, their songs meant a huge amount to me and some still do. I had followed them from their first single...I bought all the albums, even when the light of their stardom had dimmed so drastically that they reached the point where I, as a lowly student radio presenter, could get an interview.

You might never have heard of them. The band was Gene, the singer was Martin Rossiter. I was only roped into the interview at the last minute by my radio station's Head of Music, who knew I liked them.
I was ecstatic.
I was chuffed.
I was nervous as all hell.

The interview took place in the back rooms of The Colosseum in Coventry. We had the station's minidisc recorder charged and ready, and as an ex-Head of Production, I knew that the quality of the interview was going to be needle-sharp. This wasn't going to be one of those student radio interviews that everyone gets really excited about only to find, afterwards, that as a matter of fact, you can't tell that it's Jason Donovan at all because the girl who was interviewing him got overexcited and forgot to turn the microphone on.
Oh no.
Crystal clear quality.

Everything seemed to be going well. Andy and I were a few questions into a total of fifteen or so, and Martin, while obviously a bit narked to be asked deep questions about his artistic intent by students, was opening up nicely.
Then we ran out of questions, which was a bit awkward. Something Andy and I had been discussing in the car on the way to the interview popped into my mind.

Me: Martin, there has always been a lot of comparison between yourselves and the musical sound of The Smiths and Morrisey himself. How do you respond to these comments?

Martin Rossiter: Well, I've never let those get to me to be honest. I love his music and he's been an enormous influence.

Me: That's great. You know, to answer the...well, something that might have come across as a bit of criticism, maybe, with a complete and open acceptance that that is what you've set out to do. Yeah. That's great.

There was an another pause at this point. If I had been producing the interview afterwards, I would have edited it out for being too long.

Martin Rossiter: Are you American or something?

Andy: Stu, he's being sarcastic.

You can imagine my attempted recovery.
Just know that it failed.

So it's probably just as well that on the final night of the Isle of Wight Festival earlier this year, when the Counting Crows effectively played my high school, I was only able to buy the lead singer a drink by mobile phone, because he was eight miles away on a ferry at the time.

Financial Discord


So how are we going to shed ourselves of this money stuff?

I think it’s about time we did.

Money was a good idea. It meant that you could facilitate asset exchange and trade across boundaries and time and it was enormously flexible. If you’ll excuse the expression, everyone bought into the system, and we’ve built the modern world with it.

Well done everyone.

Things have started to go a bit sour with the tool. That’s all it is. Money is a tool, and from being something we use to build, learn, exchange and develop ourselves, it has started to hold us back, to constrain us.
This isn’t an anti-capitalist tirade, or a plea to be let off any personal debts I have – it is merely an observation that the thing that we invented to help us out, to ease the passage of assets from one owner to another, has begun to hold us, as a species, back.

How so?

I’ll get to that in a minute. First I’m going to have a crack at vocalising a nagging thought I’ve had since someone told me about making money.
Money passes from one body to the next, in exchange for goods or services.
If that body is an individual, that individual can buy at one price and sell at a higher price. After the transactions, that individual is in possession of more money than he or she had to begin with.
(Stay with me here)

Extend the definition of ‘a body’. Take a company. A company buys things or pays people, carries out some process, and sells on that product or service at a higher value. The company increases the amount of money in its possession. Fine.

Take the world. Spinning in space...
This is too far, you say. Money doesn’t work out here.
Fair enough.

Let’s take a goal of a few of the more vocal global politicians – the elimination of poverty...with the silent subtitle - without redistributing wealth.
Everyone getting richer? Where is this money coming from?

Don’t ask me – I’m an engineer.

We are doing great things down here people – our tools are getting really quite good. Technology is whooping some serious backside. We are pushing back the boundaries of what we know to be possible and learning on the way. We’re fiddling around with the very stuff of life, we are creating new species, opening doors for creativity and the arts that previous generations never dreamed of, and to be honest, as a species, we’re feeling pretty smug right now.

Something is beginning to restrict us though. At the moment the restriction isn’t openly noticeable, and we are finding a few ways around it. That’s what we do. We adapt. We’ve gotten quite good at it.

That restriction is money.
Imagine what we as a species would be capable of if there were no financial constraints on anything. If we set ourselves to something and didn’t hold back a single damned thing.
We can’t go to Mars. It is too expensive.
We can’t feed the world. There isn’t enough money.

It isn’t economically viable.

I hate that phrase.

The thought that we are capable of something beautiful, something staggeringly beneficial, something amazing and good, but can’t do it because of a self-imposed sick does that make you feel?

Money runs the world – both ways – it makes it possible, but it also controls it.

Our attitude to money seems to reflect our maturity as a species. We might do better than we think without it, but we’ll not try.

I think there is an energy-based global economy somewhere in the future, but we’ll only switch to it when we need to.

And then we’ll adapt to it.

RIP, Concorde.

Stuart 16v 1.8i GTO


I like the fact that on mornings I take the time to walk to work, I arrive alert, awake and full of energy.
Those thirty minutes allow my body to stretch, limber up, open up the lungs and get the oxygen in my bloodstream really pumping into my brain.
I feel sharper, my thoughts are lighter and I can skip methodical mental steps.

Caffeine puts a bit of a spark in there...alternatives come quicker – my mind is more receptive, faster, hungrier. My breathing quickens – more air, more oxygen. The brain is really going some...

So at weekends, a jog after half a cafetiere of coffee is like a turbocharger.

I feel pretty damned good...

Is Your Television Keeping You Happy?


In the living room of life, I’ve only really been keeping half an eye on the television in recent months. The second I caught the whiff of bullshit surrounding the Iraq conflict I was sickened, and stopped watching the news. Google News keeps me up to date, in quiet moments and at lunchtimes.

I found the remote to the telly in the living room of life, (it was down in between the hypothetical sofa cushions) and coming back to it, some of it doesn’t make sense. Above and beyond the plague of reality TV shows, repeats of reality TV shows and Reality TV Gold, things are awry.

I remember doing a radio show early on a Saturday morning (Stupid slot. Very stupid slot...) in 1999, and starting the show after the final story on the news service feed, all about the winner of a programme called ‘Who wants to be a millionaire?’ in America. There was an audio clip. The guy, with style that has yet to be bettered on this side of the Atlantic, used his ‘Phone a Friend’ lifeline to call his Dad and let him know that he was about to become a millionaire because he already knew the answer.

One of the funniest things that came about from the unexpectedly free cable TV in our old flat was that we occasionally got random channels that came and went. Let me tell you, the Indian version of ‘Millionaire’ is hilarious. Especially as the presenter kept lapsing in and out of English, and was a graduate of the Chris Tarrant School of Body Language and Facial Expressions (That would be CTSBLFE. As an acronym, it needs a little work, Chris). It was uncanny.

“Hulooonoo jabba hutt hut hut rupees? But we don’t want to give you that. Oh no. Hurriup!”

Funny and scary at the same time.
Ask the audience...isn’t the audience full of the family members of other would-be contestants, itching to be given their shot at the prize? I wouldn’t trust them with a difficult question! They might deliberately mislead me! I see the way they look at me. They want the money. Well they can’t have it! It’s mine! Mine I tell you!

Ah yes. Being hypothetical.

Instead of making a living out of selecting aspiring singers and entertainers that they feel the public might like, record companies nowadays are taking the risk out of the equation and getting the public to pay to elect it’s own stars, for whose music they will then pay again.
It is ingenious, I’d be the first to applaud a good idea, but I’m missing Saturday night television.
Can I have it back, please?

I’ve written about ‘fly on the wall’ reality TV before. I can’t watch it. Other people’s difficulties are not entertaining, but actively frustrating to me. Cut that out of the schedule.
Celebrity ‘reality’ TV. (A quick can this be reality TV? If there were ever a bunch of people who were acting, it’s any given group of celebrities in front of a camera) Inane. Huggy. Crap. As stimulating as watching decomposing earwigs, an activity to which it is not all that dissimilar. Cut that out of the schedule.
I’m not a big soaps man. Eastenders and Coronation Street? Life crises and the crackle of chip fat as the bullets fly? No thanks. Gritty drama it may be, but when it’s involving, it’s unpleasant, and when it isn’t involving, it isn’t involving. Cut all of them out of the schedule. Apart from maybe the Sunday morning Hollyoaks omnibus.
All of this and the news gone, and I’m left with Teachers on a Wednesday night, Scrubs on a Friday, and programmes that everyone says are great that I always seem to miss, like 24 (I have never seen a single episode) and Six Feet Under (Saw 1 episode. There was a sex party. Confusion strikes.)

If religion, in its past role as something to keep people in their lives without complaining, keeping them down, keeping them quiet, keeping them paying their taxes, keeping them happy that somewhere, sometime, after this life, things will be better, has declined, then I expect someone somewhere was very happy that television was around to pick up the mantle.

But I don’t watch it that much any more.

Does anyone have any opiate?
Come on...there was masses of it around a while ago...




Ever have one of those days when you felt more in tune with the world?

Traffic lights are green just when you need them to be, the kettle boils just when you’re ready for it, you arrive at the supermarket checkouts at the instant the cashier opens a new till. Things click.

These days might be few and far between, or you might have all of the things I’ve mentioned happen to you and not get the feeling that you and the world were marching to the same drum. What would it be like if someone had this all the time?

What if they had grown up thinking this was normal, and then one day noticed that other people didn't have this unconscious...timing? Would they come to the conclusion that the world was being run for them and them alone? What would go through their mind? How would they react? How could they react, if the world was forming itself around their intentions and their actions?

It’s an interesting idea. Unfortunately, if I sat down to write a short story along these lines, I would feel honour bound to kill this bastard by taking away this wonderful quality of theirs at the moment they were halfway across a busy road. You can do that, you know, when you’re writing someone’s life.
Probably best if this chap stays unwritten about, if only for his own sake.

Still, when you’ve considered Mr. Synchronicity, what would befall his opposite?

I have days when I think I might just be that person.

The Reason Behind It All


I haven't been writing anything of any level of..well...quality for a while. Un-thought-out posts, scraggy internet quizzes and all adds up to one thing - blogging in my lunch break.
Even when I realise, like with the 'Human Behaviour' post last Friday, that it was unfathomably immature and facile, (not always bad things to be) I am loathe to delete posts.

A record of my crapness, if you will.

Anyway, a few profound proto-posts have slid out from behind all this; in the rare evening I'm at home, on The Laptop From The Dawn Of Time(TM). Unfortunately then in the mornings I'm too rushed to be bothered to fire up both computers (One to get the post off the laptop onto disk, and the other to check that the disk hasn't been corrupted by the laptop - ahh, technology) to bring into work to transfer to the ole blog.
I'll bring them in tomorrow, honest.

Agents Are Coming

Another Agent Snare (TM) has worked its magic. This time, instead of seeing a breadth of other material, they want the rest of the novel. I'll be spending some quality time with my printer this evening then.

Please cross fingers, limbs, eyes and toes...

A Design For Life


Since beginning to put links and whatnot into my posts, pictures and whatnot into my sidebar, links, rings and a small fuzzy TV screen in other places...I've realised that...well.
It all looks a bit crap.


Frightening the neighbours


Karen says she finds me scary.

I thought I'd better take this test...just to check.

The Dante's Inferno Test has banished you to the Second Level of Hell!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:

Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Low
Level 2 (Lustful)Very High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)High
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Moderate
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very High
Level 7 (Violent)High
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)High
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Moderate

Take the Dante's Inferno Hell Test

The crazy thing about this is that I seem to rate best in areas relating to religious beliefs.




(via Raised by Chaffinches...)

Well, bollocks to a classless society then.

I can see the companies' involved point on this, but...the bastards.

The unprincipled, bloodsucking bastards.

Into A Cocked Hat


I've just finished reading Richard Herring's new book, 'Talking Cock'. Richard has been a regular read for many bloggers for quite a while now, and I for one was looking forward to what I hoped would be a couple of hundred pages' worth of 'Warming Up'. In fact, 'Talking Cock' was completely different to what I was expecting. It was brilliantly funny, but it was also deeply insightful, and not just in the research and bald information, but in the deep and eye-opening thoughts that Msr. Herring threw into the mix every now and then.
Cracking stuff.

I haven't done this for a while...

I'm reading...:Nietzsche - Thus Spake Zarathustra. One word at this point - interesting. That is all.

I'm listening... to Athlete's 'Vehicles and Animals' (Hot damn! This album is still growing on me), Jools Holland and Friends - 'Small World Big Band'.

I'm writing...: not much, to be honest. I'm mulling over this new project, picking at it and generally wondering how I'm going to get everything into a novel without it seeming like a Nick Hornby book. Not that that would be a tragedy, or anything.

I'm wondering... exactly where in the world my old copy of 'Breakfast of Champions' is. It should be somewhere between here and Daniella in Sydney, probably in a plane. Fly little book, fly!

I'm drinking...: far too much absinthe.

I'm playing...: lots of games. In a rush of generosity, James 'supersonicboyuk' Foster bought me 'Devil May Cry 2' for the PS2 for my birthday, and I bought myself 'Jedi Starfighter' on impulse (it was cheap) and 'Gran Turismo 3 - A Spec' as a pre-meditated £14 bargain at the beginning of the month. 'Jedi Starfighter' was just all over too quickly, but GT3 looks like a game with, as they say, some serious legs in. Must...write....must...write...

That Time Of The Month

I'm adding to the links, people! In a fit of generosity and curiosity, I will link to anyone who comments and wants one...even if I've no idea who you are. My reading is mostly based on my links bar, so if you get a link, I'll read you.
It's as simple as that!

So...who wants one?

These Are The Breaks


On Friday I received an excellently timed phone call from a very kind guy at the office of an agent I had been pursuing. I had high hopes of snaring them, to be honest. They had received an Agent Trap (TM), and asked, thrillingly, for more. I was off work on Friday because of a suspiciously eggy pint of bitter (eggy bitter is never good) on Wednesday evening, which became a growingly major feature of my life on Thursday.
My hopes were chilly and suffered from dustings of frost in the mornings, they were that high.

Good job I'd thrown up shortly before getting that rejection then.
The chap on the end of the phone was really very kind, and I'm sure the sound of someone apparently vomiting with disappointment on the other end of a telephone would have had a negative effect on his day.

There you are.

Break It Up, Break It Up, Break It Up, Break It Down

The search for a willing snaree (that's a word that should never see the light of day, but I'm feeling generous today) continues. With every man, woman, child or company that receives an Agent Snare(TM) I get closer to the time when someone opens the envelope and says "Hang on, this is quite good..."

In the words of me; bring it on.

Human Behaviour


The 'Western' world decrees that it is waging a war on terror. From their point fo view this is a damnably important thing, and you can understand this, even if you don't agree with it. This global alliance is standing firm and towing a hard line against the terrorists.

So what the hell is wrong with them?

If you are going to determine the 'rank' of a country on wealth and military might, then the USA is in charge. But if you are looking for some way to determine the rank of a country, then your outlook is fundamentally flawed before you've even begun.

We in the UK are guilty as hell of this, but this news item from Australia makes me think of people in a committee scrabbling for more impressive position titles.

But Bush and Blair are definitely getting it on. You can say that for Howard - he has better taste.

More pics


Photoblography Rocks...a few pictures from going back to the Island.

The Jitterbug


I'm a-hummin', I'm a-buzzin', I's a-movin' like I got ants in ma pants ( and let me tell you, that's a distressingly unnatural place for ants to be, and man do you move when they're in there...), and generally fizzin' around the place like someone has stuck a rod of sodium down my trousers and thrown me in the bath.

...and all because I have an idea.

To begin with it winked into existence on a walk into work, grew through reading Vonnegut (sorry Daniella I'll post it tomorrow), and just when I was on the point of thinking that it would probably make the longest blog entry I'd ever written, I realised that it was the seed of a novel. Another one. This time it would be one that had the idea fully spread out and planned beforehand, not one where I had to sit down and write until something exciting happened to the characters I'd created. Of course, the plot isn't fixed, but the idea is, and it is currently burning a hole in wherever I'm keeping it. My head has yet to start smoking, but I'm going to have to start writing this soon. I'm not sure what might happen next.

I'll still continue with my ongoing crusade to aquire an agent with the first one, but sweet, sweet inspiration, I've not felt this way before, and I'm damned excited.

I am cynical enough to know that this is how I feel now, at the start of the project.
Watch and see...

So...exactly like it then...?


I'm deciding what to go see at the Galleria tonight...this is a brilliant excerpt from a review for 'Finding Nemo':

Essentially a road movie, albeit undersea and with fish...

Ah, us humans and our pattern finding.

As an aside...


Thanks to Allie, who got it as a gift for me for my 24th, I've been listening to Athlete's album, 'Vehicles and Animals'.

Absolutely bloody marvellous.

And the winner is...


Me Man. Give Away Book.


In the spirit of a literary equivalent to the Mix CD Exchange, I am going to give away a book.

This time (I'm not going to do this regularly) the book is Kurt Vonnegut's simply brilliant 'Breakfast of Champions'.

It is secondhand, but all the pages are there, as are the words. It is a pretty mindflipping book.

I appreciate that the World Wide Web is pretty big, and very nearly global, so not only does this fantastic offer include a free book of your very own, but I will also personally make arrangements for the book to exist in a similar geographic location to the one you are currently in.

Isn't that marvellous?

The only condition to his little scheme is that when it arrives it will have my name and email address inside the front cover, so that you may add to it, and so when it moves on, its path is plotted...aaah. What a cute little global community we are.

The first person to deposit some words in the comments box arranged and ordered in such a way that they make me laugh...a joke, a story, anything, wins the book, and the added bonus of the book being close enough to read. Although not being magic, I might need an address for that reason.

I'm warming up the laughter muscles as I type, so...compete!

1646: My comments seem to be working again now. Bloody typical, huh? Decision when I get some comments!

A Healthful Tonic, Such As Strychnine


It’s good to be home, but my parents have rearranged my room.
Knowing them as I do I'd give long odds on them converting it into a gymn, but it is the irreversible, ‘Well, you’ve moved out’ process, and there’s not a lot I can do to try and keep it in the finely balanced apocalyptic state that it held for all those years.

They’ve given away my desk and cleared out all my notes from behind my sofa, unearthing a crop of small, empty and forgotten vodka bottles from my teenage years (oops). They also cleared out under the bed.
Aah, the bed.

So many years’ crap, accumulated, distilled and covered with a thick layer of dust. Wonderful. The train set. The Scalectrix (Le Mans 24 hour Special Edition!). The Space Crusade game that I asked for one Christmas at the age of 11 and we never figured out how to play. About two hundred ‘Flight’ and ‘Air Monthly’ magazines, inherited from my Grandpa. The Harmsworth Self Educator.

Now this is something worth seeing. I was 12, and I bought the HSE at my school's Summer Fete. I staggered across the school field with about five of the ten volumes, looking for my parents so I could put them in the car. I recieved a ‘Oh God what crap has he bought now’ look, but they never breathed a word of it.
My wonderful parents.

The New Harmsworth Self Educator is a set of ten books designed to provide a complete education. They cover subjects as diverse as modern languages, cutting edge physics, medicine, mathematics and great achievements in the sphere of engineering, through to lessons on morality, philosophy, religion and ethics. It is one company’s attempt to cram the whole sum of human knowledge into a set of books so that readers could have a go at learning the lot, and as such, it represents a snapshot of the world at one period in time.

The reason that all of this is so interesting is because the day the Harmsworth Self Educator came off the press was in 1914.

There is a chapter in the first volume on choosing a suitable wife for a man’s station in life. There are sections in the later volumes on the very latest steam boilers...typewriting as a business, and how a spoonful of strychnine at night quickens the pulse and simulates exertion for those too busy for daily exercise.

Flicking through these books is very much like stepping back in time. A short essay on bootmaking by mechanical means shows waistcoated men in flat caps and moustaches standing proudly next to their marvellous equipment, next to photographs on plates from the furthest-flung corners of empire showing how rubber is harvested. A photograph of the young men of a cavalry regiment sits chillingly next to a chapter on ‘National Character’ describing the camaraderie between the British and the Germans.

It’s an education, but probably not the one the editors had in mind.

And it's been under my bed for about ten years.

Ooops again.

Fear of Flying


There's a higher chance of crashing to the ground when flying than when, for example, enjoying a quiet walk in the country picking blackberries. But the ground is just as low and just as hard in both cases.
So why are we so afraid to fly?

A lot of us would like to work in areas where skill and knowledge are important, but where qualifications are not strictly necessary, or even non existent. Actors, authors, pop idols, photographers, DJs, athletes...
There's a lot at stake when you're playing with your life, so we take the time to work towards qualifications that will secure us employment.
We work hard at our jobs, and we enjoy the fruits of our labour. Why the hell not?

I heard a surprisingly deep and profound statement the other day. The statement wasn't shocking in itself, it was the fact that the statement came out of the speakers of my television while Allie and I were watching Fame Academy.

'We've given up everything that means something for something that means everything."

Now if those aren't the words of someone strapping on a parachute and giving the thumbs up to the guy holding the chock ropes, I don't know what is.

You have more free time than you think you do.

Don't quote me on this, but you might be able to teach yourself to fly.

If it means something to you, that is.

Tabloid Blogread: This Is Real Life


Hee has moved out. This has brought residency levels in the house down to normal, as well as increasing the average level of normality of housemates.

Claire has also moved out, making the house feel rather empty and less prone to bursts of Beyoncé between 5 and 8pm. All that remains of her presence is a Rugratz Chuckie doll on one of her shelves.

My pond has gone, along with the nicer of the two rockeries.

I don't link Hee to this, apart from the likely fate of the plants in the rockery being used to make more brain-enhancing pills, now heading for the lucky people of Winchester. I would blame Hee for Claire's going, but hopefully not in an axe-murdering kind of way. Maybe it was the other way round. Hopefully.

Khalil, the Astrophysics finalist to whom I leant my PS2 whilst away, has turned out to be the first housemate since I moved to Hatfield that I can actually talk to.
Which is nice.

When the guy delivering Khalil's evening kebab (this is how classy this chap is) asked after our spare room for one of his employees, it hit me that I've been living here the second longest, and just how shit this type of houseshare is. I hate the fact that the only social area in the house is the kitchen...the fact that there's no lounge or eating area. But the problem is that the old lounge and dining room are now my bedroom, which is cool.
But crap as well, if you follow me.

Victoria really bloomed while we were on holiday. She has a new line in bigger, redder and hungrier-looking leaves, and a nine-inch stem was rising up from the middle with five or six pale yellow buds spiking off the end.
It had flowered by the time I padded into the kitchen yesterday morning, so I now have wonderful thing in a glass in my room - the flower of a carnivorous plant.
Life is a strange and beautiful thing.

Beans Means Grinds

I have recently made a few small capital investments, in the form of a cafetiere and some quality ground coffee. I might take the next step and get a grinder and beans for that fresher, sharper taste. I mean, coffee has always been and interest, nay, passion (nay, addiction)(nay, er...), so why the hell not?
Alice's Spanish flatmate Nadia has a full-blown coffee machine that I haven't seen used since she moved in. It has black plastic, lots of knobs, dials and buttons, and pieces of shiny chrome sticking out at surprising angles. I'm itching to play with it.

Broadsheet Blogread: Great Expectations

When I recieved my cards and gifts on the morning of my 21st birthday, I cried.
Not in a 'New Man' kind of way, nor was I emotionally overwhelmed at the three cards my new Leamington postman was sarcastically shovelling over the threshold.
I was disappointed in myself.

I'm the kind of person given to taking 'thinking about something' to a level that most people would probably feel is a bit far. If I can be bothered to worry about something, I really go for it. If something interests me, I will think about it (for periods of up to 30 seconds) on and off for years. The more enduring of these trains of though have become almost a part of me.

One of the things that has occupied me in idle moments across the years is whether or not I would recognise an older version of myself if I time-travelled back to the present to say hi. Would I be able to pick out a snotty-nosed seven year old me from the horde of other seven year olds? Probably. But then what would that seven year old make of the man I've become?

Why the seven year old me? Well because at that time, I was utterly convinced of my own potential. I was a superlative youngster, amazing, intelligent, kick-ass (although I would never have used this word at the age of seven. 'Ass' is naughty. I would probably have put my bottom lip behind my upper teeth and gone 'Uuuummmmmmmm' at this point) forthright and I was going to do great things. My ego was at a youthful peak, when the teacher and myself were the only two people in the class who could spell 'compromises', I had never made any, and believed I would never have to.

He would be shocked at my drinking, my debts. He wouldn't care about my tales of girlfriends, but I like to think he would shruggingly accept my assertion that girls get more important when you get older.

He would have a low opinion of my scruffy hair. His is smooth, straight and bouffy. He has a tendency to lose his v-necked jumpers when using them for goalposts on the rare occasions he plays football at lunchtime. Other times he just wanders around with Matt or Michael and Olav, not doing very much. He would be annoyed that I still lose things absent-mindedly, and that I wander around at lunchtime, reading Joyce, James and Hemingway, surfing the net, not doing very much.

Most certainly he would be disappointed that I still haven't gotten a book up to a standard we would both be happy with.

The 21st birthday is a biggy. It doesn't stand for much in this country any more, but it still represents the invisible line between legal adulthood and that true 'Oh shit, I'm a grown-up!' realisation.

On that rainy morning on the 10th of October 2001, my seven year old self took possession again for a few minutes. In he breezed, wondered, in passing, why on earth anyone would need to own three dressing gowns, took a quick look at the state of play of his 21-year-old self's life, and rather understandably lost it.
Second year of University. Far from the smartest kid in class any more. but tiny room. Grey and rainy day. A newly-ill Mother. Neither fending nor cooking for myself with any kind of competence and sickeningly reliant on borrowing, and after a year of student life even my 21 year old self wasn't happy with that. My inner seven year old took it all in, and then began my rather disconcerting reaction to my landmark birthday, confusing the hell out of my girlfriend of the time.

In lots of ways, both definable and indefinable, I feel I'm in a completely different place to that day, three years ago.

I've graduated with a 2:1, got myself a job, moved out, started a different life. There is a good novel on, under, and within arm's reach of my desk, and even if it's not as good as I feel I can do, that's more than my seven year old self has done. He hasn't even got a girlfriend, the snotty little oik. I'm still learning and growing, but at my own pace now. I still run, still fall, still seem to have fun through it all, but now it's on my terms, and I'm reaching in all the directions I like, ways that I've chosen.

So even if my seven year-old self does happen to drop in next Friday, I don't think it will be a crying occasion.

Throwing a Googly


Sitemeter hasn't been keeping it's juicy fruit away from me like it should. I've been getting referrals from Google, so I know what people ending up here were really looking for.

It would appear that one entry of mine in particular has brought a lot of Googletraffic my way.

A few that reside in my listings at the moment:

1. Equilateral Cone (6th result)
2. How many roads must the man walk down (9th result)
3. Words with double ee's that do not sound like double ee (??? - Can't be arsed to count)
4. How many hours does a 42 year old man sleeps? (yahoo...first result)
5. How many ears must one man have (8th result)
6. Cliff Richards Summer Holiday (, result unknown)
7. Stuart Dave hurry (3rd result)

My favourite from the past was 'Atkins Fart Gas'.
Now sadly lost in the mists of time.

Walking Far Too Far


I've been continuing my walking to and from work. It might take an hour out of my day, but that hour is a good hour. It's a time when I switch off a bit, loosen the ties to the world I'm walking through and become a bit of a spectator to it. If there's nothing much going on, I set the yards and my brain sails off quite happily by itself.
I listen to music as well, which helps.

I was thinking (absently) about my return to work after the holiday. Afternoons seem to stretch out for a long time. We all have times in our life that seem dull or boring, or that provide a mind-numbing effect that, looking forward, will probably be around for many years to come until the majority of us retire, and then...well. It's up to us, but we may well have developed some sort of habit by then.

That's not a greatly exciting image. Now look back at your memories (quickly mind, I'm talkin' here). How cool are they?

Very. Look at all that stuff you've done! You're a cool customer, no mistake.

Life seems so much more exciting in reverse, and I believe some philosophers seem to think that life only makes sense backwards, but that a true understanding of life backwards can never be had...if memory serves. I'll check my calendar when I get home. It's one of those sorts of calendars.
In memory mode, it seems (to me, anyhow) to take a special effort to recall all those dragging, grey, Tuesday afternoons.

So, live your life with a bit of anticipated retrospection: do stuff that will make good memories.

But the great thing about this is that while memories are great to have, it's one hell of a lot more fun getting them in the first place.

So mine's a pint.



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