One down, one to go

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I type in the front room of a n bedroom detached house in Bristol.

I feel...what are the words to describe that feeling the morning after a party when you wake up on a perfectly good futon that is still masquerading as a sofa, with the swelling overtones of a headache from the accidentally induced concussion from the night before's encounter with a low staircase ceiling and (as an afterthought) the beer, when you've accidentally gone to sleep with your contacts in so you're going to turn up at a blogger's Christmas party with red Christopher Lee eyes, and the feeling of relief that you are still alive and, contrary to all expectation and belief, breathing?

Ah yes - hungover. That'd be the word.

Looking forward to seeing all you chaps tonight. (Oh God - one hangover and I've started to blog like Biggles.)

Yes. See you chaps later, what?

Mad Hair Day

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Pat, of Lionskull Towers has been developing a seemingly unhealthy obsession for the new cover of 'Mad World' by Gary Jules, exit music for Donnie Darko. Thanks to a video rendition on Top of the Pops 2 the other evening, I too, have this song stuck in my head.

And occasionally I sing bits.
Well, actually, most of it plays in my head, and then, for some reason, I only join in for the 'Mad World' bit. It would seem I was taking a few pages out of Ford Prefect's book, who sang just the 'Mad' bit of Noel Coward's 'Mad about the boy'. In today's world, it doesn't seem too inappropriate.

Wandering round St. Alban's station this morning, it drew a few worried glances. When I was buying a coffee with my Two-Party-Weekend backpack on, a random bloke came up and asked me if I was going to France. I said no. He told me he'd just got back from Germany. How nice.

To cap off the whole worryingly verging-on-craziness morning, for the first time in ages, my hair has betrayed me, and is standing up and sprouting off in all sorts of directions, making me look not unlike the little brown aliens that live in a baggage locker in Men in Black 2.

Everyone in my office is too polite to comment on this.

Location Location Location

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Sometimes I get the impression that a lot of people aren't actually alive.
They move around and they do things, and more than likely, behind the scenes, get on with the requisite respiration, excretion, reproduction and so on to satisfy the average biologist (or, more importantly, mortician).
But in a lot of ways I get the impression that they're switched off a lot of the time.

There's something about the inactivity of them - sure, they're listening to a stereo or looking out the window, but they're not there. Mentally off - maybe - hopefully they're thinking; but they aren't there.
There's not necessarily anything wrong with this - but it did make me feel a bit strange this morning. I was loathe to switch off myself, because it was so beautiful - there was a full and orange sun over in the west, and grass in the empty fields was covered with a crisp, minty frost. I got a strong sensation of my own presence and location, which was unusual, because most people, including me, go somewhere else in their heads when on public transport.

It made me feel like I was travelling or on holiday - when things are unusual enough to keep you aware and present in yourself whilst doing mundane things like travelling on a bus...everything was fresh and interesting.

I feel very alive today. I feel good.

I wonder about the people who might never look about them with that freshness or see things as anything other than a grey and hazy background. There are people who give the impression that they are not there all the time. They unnerve me.

But I know you're real. We both are.

But what is best in life?

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Miss Shivery is all Thanksgiving-ed up, and loving it.

As is traditional around this time of year, citizens of the US are generally well-fed, well-oiled, and grateful for it, which, admittedly, seems to be an agreeable state to be in.

As I've explained to youthful and faultlessly-uninformed Americans before, we in the UK don't have Thanksgiving, and we don't celebrate our Independence either (oh how we laughed - but nicely...). There are times though, when everyone has one of those moments when, even if things are a leetle bit crappy, you realise what is good.

Mongol Warior:The open steppe, fleet horse, falcon on your wrist, wind in your hair!
Mongol General: Wrong!

Sounds pretty good to me. Except for the falcon on your wrist bit. If I'm bouncing along over the steppes on a fleet horse, then I know just how hard that falcon is going to have to grip, and my past experiences with parrots lead me to decline that rather exciting image...my Great Uncle used to ride his motorbike with an African Grey Parrot on his shoulder, which lead me to wonder just how long his leather jacket lasted before he was forced to stop by the excruciating grating of claw on bone...

I digress. Unless motorbiking with intelligent avians is up there at the top of the list for you.

The best things in life vary from person to person...I would be pretty conventional I think. Friends, laughter, good food...and the feeling when your glider is launched by steam-powered winch, catapult-like, into a clear blue summer sky.
There's nothing like it.

In the style of Mr. The Barbarian, what are yours?

There is a five and a half foot lion manning the customer services desk at your local supermarket.

Refund anyone?

No?

Rain? It Never Rains.

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Hatfield is the victim of a new and depressed microclimate. I was woken this morning (about thirty seconds before the alarm - nice when that happens, isn't it?) by the rain, both on my window and making disturbing noises in the chimney.
It wasn't the force of drops being hurled about by the wind, and making hard hitting taps on the glass - it was the sudden and strange noise of a lot of water.

Not just dribbling down the window, but truly flowing - there was just so damn much of it that it sounded as though someone was steadily and determinedly pouring buckets of water onto my window. A slow WOOOOOOOSHy noise.

Of course, when I was up and awake, it was the noises from the chimney that were most worrying.
My landlord, wonderful, wonderful man that he is, has done a lot of work on the house himself. I remember arriving to take up residency and his wife was just finishing off the pure white curtains on a sewing machine. The house is next to a main road, and these lovingly handmade curtains give the effect of trying to sleep with a very slow strobe. Some of the radiator piping is plastic, and wobbles alarmingly when you catch it with your foot.

Anyway.
The fact that I could hear water sloshing gleefully down the chimney was made worrying by the fact that there is a lovely electric fire at the bottom, thankfully off. Doesn't bode well for the rest of Winter, though.

Anyway, Hatfield seems...cleaner somehow. Well. Not somehow.
The place needed a bloody wash.

Plans
There are now two parties lined up for this weekend, for little ole international-party-jetsetter me!
Friday night's party is in Bristol, with Ginger Ben and co.
Saturday night's party is in London with the Blogging UK.

Two Parties.
Twenty four hours.
One national rail network.
Oh boy.

After an absolute drought of party-age, it would seem that it never rains, but it pours...

Multiplying Matrices

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I thought, what with all the hype surrounding Matrix: Revolutions, people might want to know about what is going to happen next.

Click here for the news.

Thanks Mark.

It Provokes And Unprovokes

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Some of the funniest stories I know are about people and the crrrrrrrazy stuff they've gotten up to under the influence of alcohol. I myself am no exception, and, to be honest, I've probably done more to continue the stereotype of humorous drunken behaviour than the average Joe.

If you're reading, Joe - hey pal - don't take it so hard.

The orgy of door-destruction in my first year flat...the time I managed to swap an uprooted tree for a packet of crisps -and managed to keep the tree...inviting the 250-strong audience of a comedy gig back to my 'no-more-than-24-people-due-to-fire-regulations' flat...buying champagne for everyone...trying to pull the wrong twin...convincing the bouncer we were the band 'Gay Dad'...strip pontoon... waking up in Coventry...karaoke...
The list goes on.

There are times when these stories can be wheeled out, and other times when conversation steers rapidly past them and you don't get the opportunity to regale present company with the tale. If the gap is there, you take it. If not, there might be time for a brief internal smile at the memory, before leaping back into the conversation.

What happened to all the yarns I never got to hear?

Okay - imagine - there's a free bar just over there, and everyone's listening.

What's the story?

Update: So what this continued silence is saying to me, is;

"Drunk, Stuart? Who - us?"

Imagine me giving a brief moment of stony stare before nodding manically.

Come on...

The dulcet tones of my phone playing Electric Six's 'Gay Bar' greeted my rather stressed ears almost at the exact second a certain ball was spinning through the air into the hands of one Jonny Wilkinson for the last time in the game on Saturday.

With the drop goal that sealed the Rugby World Cup for England, much to mine and Allie's bouncy shouting, the arriving SMS informed me that RaW had swept the board at the Student Radio Awards.

I've been on tenterhooks all weekend, waiting for the phonecall from my parents/sister to tell me we've all won the lottery.
On second thoughts, I'll keep ploughing into the mammoth task of redrafting the book, and hope I can get it off in the post to a nice friendly agent before the charm has worn off...

So, formally, I would like to say to the English rugby team - well done lads, well played!

And to all those people involved with RaW over the past year - nicely done. You rock!

Oh, and by the way; this girl can't half sing / play / write songs...

Simply Cynical

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Does anyone else find that there is a conflict between the intellectual satisfaction from surviving in a complicated world, and the desire for the emotional satisfaction of existing in a simple one?

Maybe most of the difficulty in life is learning how to think your way through the world as it is, the whole kit and caboodle of twisting logic and conniving minds, and at the same time, accepting simplicity and beauty in other things Ė relationships, friendships, art...when there is no sharp boundary between the two worlds.

Just a thought.

Turkey Masala

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Despite building up a fearsome reputation in the kitchen recently (see Soup, and Celery, Apple), I achieved the impossible last night.
Possibly the simplest curry-making sauce on the market went to dust at these hands. That's right, a 'Sizzle and Stir' died, and badly.

The 'Sizzle' bit went on for a bit too long, verged on 'Frazzle' and then went the whole hog and straight onto 'Scorch', all in the space of time it took for me to cut up three turkey breasts.
The rich brown sauce turned black, meaning the final curry was more the kind of brown you find in small, round piles in fields, or on the bottom of your shoes after walking through Hyde Park with your eyes closed.

Never mind. Making bolognese tonight - something I've managed to f*ck up only rarely.

This weekend has already been assaulted 'in potentia' with a number of plans more suited to a Gap Year, so I'm anticipating being a bit knackered by Monday. Then, thankfully, I'll have an entire week to get myself ready for the UK Bloggers' Christmas Bash.

All offers of accommodation gratefully considered on the basis of the offerer's sanity.

Be Excellent To Each Other.

What are the chances...?

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In all the places I've spent a lot of time in my life, it's always been worth having a kind of social radar - just surreptitiously keeping an eye out for a familiar face. On the Isle of Wight, there was nothing surreptitious about it. Every other face was familiar, even if you didn't know the owner. At university it was similar, but still...there was the knowledge that there were a lot of people that I knew, simply knocking about the place.
When I first moved this close to London, I caught myself scanning the faces of the people in the carriages on the Underground, and internally smiled at my rather cute, small-town rural ways. I've stopped doing it now, which feels like a shame.

Considering that in the full span of your life, you've probably met more people than there are train stations in the UK, what are the odds on meeting someone you know whilst hanging around a train station at a busy time?

Not hanging around specifically in the sparse and barren hope that someone you know will emerge, magically, from the streaming suits, but, you know - hanging around for...uhm, some other reason.
I was walking past St. Alban's station last night (on my way to do something else - honest) and I thought, 'There must be loads of people I know who live in London and commute from towns like this.'
Thought gone, I was off and away past the warm yellow entrance to the station which was disgorging dark suited figures into the bluey night (sorry, got all 'Year in Provence' there...) and started thinking how chuffed I was that PaulyG thought I'd make a good Doctor Who...
"Stuart!"

Knowing the odds were against it, especially after such a theatrical train of thought, I turned anyway.
Someone I know. Longer hair since I last saw her, never seen her in a suit before either, so it took a second, but yes. Someone I know.

In the immortal words of Harry Hill...

Waking Up

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I feel strange.
More than usual, I mean.

I have just listened to the 20 minute 'Best Student Radio Station' award entry for my old university station: RaW.
There are an awful lot of familiar voices on there. People whose faces were conjured up by their voices, bringing with them memories and smiles. The excitement of being on air, experimenting, playing, making mistakes...all of it, rose up inside me again.

Ten minutes later I was explaining the difference in the basic methods of mixing with vinyl and CD to my boss.
"And you can do that, can you?"
"Yeah."

All of a sudden I feel like something I cut off has grown back - as though a part of me is there again.

For those of you who don't know, I left university a little...unconventionally.
The details of what happened are so long and packed with vital, boring facts that even I would shy away from blogging them.

To keep it simple, I was due to stay for a fourth year, but I crashed out with honours.

I was made for university. Such an enormously fun and open social scene, so much to do, to see, to run, organise, make bigger, improve...make more fun...
It was a lifestyle I loved, coupled with doing things that I loved, rolled up with a huge group of people that I loved.

And it was taken away from me.
While a student I was involved with a number of societies with strong links to their alumni - ex-students who would come back and chip in, help out and enjoy things. Some societies had ex-members that were in their thirties, who everyone only knew as ex-members, everyone else who they knew from their time at university having stopped coming back years ago. To me, it seemed an unhealthy preoccupation - to harp on back to lost days for so long.

So when I was cut off from that life, I resolved to do the opposite. I returned once to DJ a night in the Union - I enjoyed it enormously, but I didn't want it to get beyond that.
I was so scared of that unhealthy preoccupation that I slowly and gently began to remove the reality of my student days form my memory, leaving only dry anecdotes and tales of alocohol, music and attempting to swap an uprooted tree for a packet of crisps at three in the morning.

"We can't ever go back to old things or try and get the 'old kick' out of something or find things the way we remembered them. We have them as we remember them and they are fine and wonderful and we have to go on and have other things because the old things are nowhere except in our minds now."
Nicely said, Senor Hemingway.

But through the shock I even cut off what was truly in my mind, and now I've got all that memory back. It was real. It was me. I am so definitely alive, here, now, but I was also there then, and we are the same person.
It was electrifyingly painful, but it has softened.

I feel good.

And goddamn I want RaW to win that award.

The counting of the votes in Florida to find out who was President of the United States of America was called off, because it was thought that the continuing coverage of the recount in the media would detriment the image of the man already declared as President of the United States of America.

I have to admit to a little prejudice against George Junior. Within two weeks of coming into office, he took the US out of the Kyoto agreement, the great green hope of the world to date, because, in his justification, it would harm the US economically. That and the agreement that effectively brought an end to the nuclear arms race of the Cold War bit the dust in the first fourteen days of his first term.

This ticked me off a little, and, as little difference as it makes in the international forum, Bush II hasnít done a lot to recommend himself to me since then.

I am not aware if it has always been this way, as I am, despite my best efforts, still only young. It seems to me that there is a culture in politics of functional disparity. Saying one thing, doing another. Calling something by a name that belies what it means or does.

This week the Queen and Tony Blair will be formally welcoming a man who is pursuing a policy of paying US multinational companies (who employ around one million UK citizens) to up sticks and take their operations back to the states, with compensation packages for any contracts lost in the act of moving. It makes political sense for Mr. Bush - after all, thereís an election coming up.
The move is hoped to benefit the US economically.

It seems that one truth remains in international politics Ė there are special relationships, and this can take the form of political and military support, but itís still every country for itself.

With the visit of who can only be called the most powerful man on the planet, the newspapers in the UK are showing their political colours very plainly. The Sun, given an exclusive interview with Bush (Why, thank you for your election donation, Mr. Murdoch) branded Ken Livingstone an idiot for insisting that Bush and his entourage pay the Congestion Charge. Something, I feel, that must have put a smile on the odd Londonerís face. Looking at what happened in Central London yesterday, Ken probably owes George a few bob. Iíve never seen London look so uncongested. At work we have a report that tells us what the economic disbenefit to the UK would be if the M25 shut down. Central London is another matter entirely.

The whole political system says one thing and does another. America is simultaneously proud of itís democratic system and itís presidential dynasties...itís powerful families. The UK is proud to be the cradle of modern democracy, whilst a group of royally appointed gentry veto and control measures put forward by the peoplesí representatives. Spin into this corporate interests, hidden agendas, popularity and vote-winning, manipulation of the democratic process and pseudo-patriotism, and you have a big mess.
Take a step back and admire the modern world, ladies and gentlemen.

Itís as good as we can make it.
Honest.

Supermarket Muses

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There's a guy who works on the tills in Asda whose name tag announces him to be 'Wisdom'.

'Faith' works behind the fish counter.

Today I spotted 'Grace'.

I'm beginning to think that there's something going on.

You know you should be first in the queue. Itís not fair, is it? All these other people, slow, sluggish, goddamnit, ugly as well...they donít count. And youíre in a hurry, too. Well...itís your time, anyway. You want to go home / go and eat your lunch / catch the bus / avoid the traffic / see Hollyoaks. This is your life theyíre wasting.

If these thoughts are universal, is it any wonder that queuing is a blood-boiler?

You could argue that there as many queuing techniques as there are pensioners in an Asda on Giro day, but Iíve attempted to group the categories loosely.

Feel free to comment and add your own.

Courtesy
Rare. Possibly only found in Hatfield, Herts, UK, when Iím having a good day.

Feigned Ignorance
The general queuing technique of choice for the general public. Simply pretend those other people arenít there! They donít exist! Woohoo! Problem solved. The other people in the queue only swim into focus if theyíre taking an especially long time or theyíre embarrassing the young checkout person (see below).

Actual Ignorance
You can spot these a mile off. They swan to the front of any easy-access queue, oblivious, push in without engaging any brain cells, announce, Ďthat woman has a funny nose!í in a loud voice, or, without any shopping at all, ask the confused checkout person for three quarters of a pound of stilton. Please consult any good undergraduate psychology textbook on how to deal with these people.

Parallel Queuing
Maybe you and the PQ-er arrived at about the same time, maybe theyíre Actually Ignorant, or a social climber...you just donít know. What you do know is that they appear to be in the queue in exactly the same place or level as you, and you are both shifting from one foot to the other, sliding toes forward and, at the same time deliberately ignoring each other. You are, in the queuing lexicon, jockeying blind. This is the cold war of queuing. Suddenly the place in the queue becomes something worth competing over. At any point, standing to one side and gesturing the other person forward is admitting defeat...or to end it, one of you will have jockeyed, blind or with acknowledgement of the other personís existence, into a winning position. No known Parallel Queuing battle has needed to be resolved at the checkout. Not in this country, anyway. Weíre just too weak.

Communist Queuing
This is where, in a situation with numerous checkouts, spontaneously and without any external organisation or stimulus, a single queue emerges to serve all the paying points. They are the most sensible and non-violent answer to the problem that brought about the invention of the queue in the first place. They are the neo-queue. They are always quicker and better, unless organised by the place attempting to serve people quicker and better, such as banks or post offices, where they only serve to keep the customers from wandering off and pinching leaflets they donít really need.

New Queues
The ultimate queuing satisfaction. Your own queue. Sometimes started by Actually Ignorant people coming into a situation of Communist Queuing, or by persistent Parallel Queuing in a Communist Queuing situation. Usually, by some miracle, a new till may open up, without any active decision by the shop, at a busy time. In this situation, all tactics can be and are applied in a very short space of time, by multiple queuers bearing down on a fourteen year-old trainee wearing a plastic smile that she learnt how to do in induction, failing to hide the fear underneath.

There can be no feigned igorance in the formation of a new queue. You acknowledge the existence of the other queuers, because youíre racing them to the next place. Simultaneous arrival may see the assumption of Feigned Ignorance in conjunction with Jockeying Blind, usually resolved quickly in the white heat of the new queue.

In queuing, it is always worth it. Youíre fighting for your life. Admittedly very small bits of your life, say, the difference between finishing your lunch five minutes earlier, or seeing the last scene with the fit one in Hollyoaks. Never give up. Donít give those bastards an inch. Unless itís me, of course, in which case, I donít care where we are, or how long youíve been there, I was there first.

Okay?

Spreading the Knowledge-
Read on for Readers' Suggested Queues:

Carpe Weekendum

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With an entire weekend at my disposal, I thought I'd get to grips with what I have stopped calling 'the book' or 'the novel' and started calling 'the beast'.

For those who aren't usually compos mentis when they read (Monday mornings - woo!), not too long ago I recieved some unofficial feedback from an agent who was rejecting me. Feedback that was, to be fair, perfectly true. My initial 'sending out' pack, the Agent Trap (TM), was revised and honed two or three times more than the rest of the novel.
The Agent Trap (TM) was good, the rest - not quite so good.

Which means, with a certain sense of - yes - inevitability, I was going to have to work on the bulk of the beast.
Most of the build up to the act was spent wrestling with the enormity of the task - sure, I edited the Agent Trap (Oops - TM - nearly forgot) two or three extra times, but it was only about 6,000 words long. Revising the rest of the book three times would be akin to sitting down to edit War and Peace.

Eeek.

Anyway, it was a cracking weekend's work. The house was most chilled all weekend. Yes; chilled - living with a Luddite, an astrophysics finalist and someone I know owns electronic surveillance equipment. One buried himself in books, another has eschewed all forms of technology (apart from Sky Sports, it would appear), and the last was probably trying to listen to the other two. Result?
An almost perfect writing environment.

A little bonus was the storming 'Saturday Sport Show' presented by Mr. Patrice Scullion on Dream 107, and being able to go online (courtesy of housemate Khalil) and listen to Pat. To make things even better, a lot of the old RaW Krew were online and listening and chatting, which was cool. Yay Pat!

I also learned that hangovers and over-charged electric toothbrushes do not mix.

A weekend well spent, methinks.

The Importance of Being Earnest

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I used to think that if you didnít really try, whatever you achieved would be all the more impressive for the lack of effort invested in the achievement.
There is doing things, and then there is doing things with style.

To a certain extent I still feel that this should be the way I do everything.
Effortlessly brilliant.

Ah, the difference between reality and fantasy.

To a certain extent I can think this way. Sometimes I have a conversation about the innards of a colossal, intricate heap of probability and statistics for work, and realise that despite making points and arguing views, Iím not engaging the old forebrain. Itís not conscious effort...itís just there.
Itís the difference between having an internal monologue at the same time as having a conversation, and really talking Ė when there is a full and frank exchange between people and their minds, without guard or barrier to filter things out.

Unfortunately, writing never works this way with me. Itís forebrain all the way. Itís hard, involved and emotionally draining, but it is the best thing I can do.
Annoyingly, it is when the structure and hard meaning of the words take a back seat to the flow and the rhythm, to the unwitting poetry inside the prose, that I produce the best stuff. Iím not in control of it, but the more I write, the more it happens.

Not trying is a hiding to nothing.
Sure, there is pleasure in leisure, but it is a static, unliving thrill. We all need to relax and chill out, but it is through creation and effort that we change things Ė ourselves and the world.

Doing something that you love helps.

Being stylish or leisurely all the time does absolutely nothing, unless youíre lucky enough to have other people who are prepared to pay you to be that way.
Horaceís most popular saying is: ĎLove conquers allí.
A less popular saying of his is: ĎWork conquers allí.

I guess both things can change your world.

I suppose, though, when giving your all to something, making as much of a change as you can with each fibre of your being, with love and work and everything you have, it would be a lot more fun to do it with style.

A big hi to everyone involved in National Novel Writing Month.
Iím cheering you on from the sidelines.

Open Letter To The Blogosphere

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(You have to read this. It's all for you.)

Dear Reader,

Hello.

Welcome to my blog. My weblog. My...autoblography, if you like.
It doesnít matter if you donít like, and I donít mind if you donít like.
I do like.
Live and let live, as they say.

You are probably a blogger yourself. We are legion, arenít we? So very many people, so much webspace...so little time. Itís enough to daunt you, isnít it?
No?

It scares the hell out of me.

Bloggingís weird, isnít it? We all started through a spark of interest, and look where itís taken us. Look where we all are. Weíre the blogging planet.

I started because I was curious about the whole idea of a weblog, and (regulars, hello) thought it might be a good place to jot down thoughts and whatnot, with the added bonus that the whole world could see it; theoretically.

I blogged rarely in the beginning...less than once a fortnight, for a while. I blogged only if I was online (which was rare), only if there was something interesting to say (rarer), and when those two occasions collided, on top of that, I had to remember I had a blog in the first place...

Things have changed!

To begin with I had no comments, no sitemeter, no links, no site design...nothing. Just a blog-standard template from the free selection at Blogger.com, and my words. Because I had no idea how many (or how few) people read my blog, ignorance, was, in a way, bliss. I wasnít aware, then, that there were so many blogs. At this point in time there was one heck of a ruckus kicking back and forth across the blogosphere about the Guardianís temerity to run a ĎBest British Weblogí competition. How could they be so crass as to assess the relative merits of the blogging public? How dare they? I know why, or I think I do. One or two of you may disagree with me...but that is your prerogative.
Live and let live, as they say.

We all do it. We all have our favourites. We do it ourselves with every time we go to a bloggerís page and check to see if theyíve updated, and if they have we have different reactions depending on how much we like them. If theyíve written shedloads (still here, regulars? Blimey) and you love their work, you smile and settle down for a good read. If they are in the middle of your spectrum of tastes, then you feel a bit put upon to read all of it, so you read a bit and see if you fancy carrying on. If youíve just dropped by for the first time, you might not bother at all.

And so the fear starts. Some of us write a lot every day, some write a few choice words at the weekend, but weíre all part and parcel of the blogosphere.

Other people and their reactions to you and your blogging have changed what you began, right? Once those people that sat inside Ďthe whole world can see my site, theoreticallyí resolved into individuals, things became more real. More...direct. They had expectations, these people. Like you have expectations of me.

If people have expectations of you and your site, and you want to please these people, you will want to pander to their wants. I know I do. You give thought to what you post, think about what will make an entertaining thought for the day, or a succinct and profound subject. Your blog changes...

Your impression of your reading public can assume immense proportions irrespective of their numbers Ė if you only have a few readers, you want to keep them, and so you try and please them all the more. This wanting to please can become almost a bane, a chore...something you resent. You want to blog but you donít want to blog badly, so you donít blog at all, and you feel annoyed about that. You get frustrated with the whole business, or incredibly tired of it all, fatigued almost.
This can really put dampers on the whole experience. Pressure. Worry.
Things some people blog to get rid of!

Hiatus. Closed blogs.
An avoidance of pressure...the feeling that in the circus of the blogosphere, your lot is that of the seal on a ball with a smaller ball on its nose. You have to perform.

Bollocks you do.
Mind you; live and let live, as they say.

If weíre not competing, weíre not competing. Your blog isnít as good as, or better than, any other blog. Each person is different, and I sure as hell wouldnít want to read smooth, heavily edited, passť, polished blog posts all day every day, from every blogger, on every subject...all that revision pushing people to universal subjects, thoughts, punchlines...

So I thought Iíd stand up and be counted as being unafraid to blog as, when and how I like. I shall not shy away from Vomiting Vietnamese Weasels, nor the silent battle to avoid paying for toilet paper in my houseshare...if I feel like it. We are all different people, we will all want to blog about different things, weíll write about them in different ways, see them in different ways, and readers will take different things away from reading depending on who they are.
Or we might not feel like blogging at all.

Live, and, as they say, let live.
I just wanted to reach out to you, reader, blogger, friend, whatever, and say a few words to you. They are the words of a man long dead, and by virtue of being very good words, they have stuck around a lot longer than he did.
I like these words a lot.
You might not.
Fair enough though Ė some people say live and let live. I am one of them.

Here they are:

Love, and do what you like.

The guyís name was Augustine. I suspect heíd like you to know that.
If you like blogging, do it. If you donít want to, Donít do it.
But whatever you do, donít feel that you got pushed into it by me, please.

I love you.
So do what you like.

Don't Point That Banana At Me

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Is it me or has the world gone a bit mad?

More than usual, I mean.

As what D4D Lyle lovingly refers to as 'The Festering Season' comes around for 2003, we are, as we are every year, more demanding. Everything has to be bigger, better, cheaper, faster...or more unusual.

I remember, before I knew what the word 'virgin' meant, what my Dad told me. The finest cigars were rolled on the thighs of golden-skinned Cuban virgins. Maybe it was a sign of quality, a bit of an anecdote that made a certain brand more sellable, or just something for old men to perv about when wrapping their gormless and slavering lips around the cooler end of a bundle of dried up weeds.
How unusual.

Unusual gifts are very popular, right?
It's popular to be a bit crazy. (See: McBeal, Ally, a few thousand blog titles, and pretty much all teen culture since the 50s)

So, with madness and quirky gifts in combination, our global culture has led to the creation of 'Weasel Coffee'.

Some canny chaps in Vietnam have figured out just how fucking insane the world has become, and have started selling this product in the sure and certain knowledge that they will become very wealthy indeed.
My heart goes out to the Weasels.

Seriously guys. Give the weasels a fucking break.

Retailing at £17.95 for a small, 100g bag from Firebox, "Weasel Coffee" has a unique selling point - the beans have been ground by the ickle incisors and molars of Vietnamese weasels, and then REGURGITATED so that they can be sold to coffee lovers everywhere.
(in 'Curious Engineer Mode' my brain starts off on the calculation...for a 100g bag, how many times did the poor little weasel have to...you know? ...and then my sense of revulsion pulls me back)

Oh, don't worry. The grind is all sterilised and everything. It's meant to taste lovely.

This is all very well if the on-the-job weasels are given a quality healthcare scheme including dental, eye tests and a reasonable allowance for paternity leave, but an old argument flashes a tail in the murky depths of memory.

What went through the mind of the man who tried cows' milk for the first time?

"Oh, well, I know that the calves drink from those pink dangly things, and come to think of it, they look a bit like tits...oh, well, you never know..."

Now think about the weasels.
What the fuck happened there?

Another Brick In The Wall

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Antigeek Dave says that for the first time in ages he feels like learning something new.
Lots of us spent a long time as students, and pride ourselves on our knowledge and all that, but to be honest, apart from writing and getting to grips with my job, I haven't really been learning very much lately.
I brought my guitar back with me from a visit to the Island a while back, and whilst I'm happy to have it with me, I've only picked it up a few times in the weeks I've had it here. I will play more.

I think I'd better start something new, too.
Otherwise I'm going to get out of the habit of learning, and well, I don't want to start thinking that I've finished...

There are those salsa lessons in St. Albans that Allie and Ihaven't been to yet...(in the stylish, converted church, 'Club Havana'...mmm, classy) and all of the feelings I have about that mean that I am probably only looking for something that I can learn without making a numpty of myself...

There's a martial arts class in Hatfield somewhere, and I accompanied my black-belt Dad to a few sessions in the past before changing my mind about Karate - mostly because it was his 'thing'.

Thoughts, anyone?

What the hell do you actually get up to?

Don't Worry - I'll Save You

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Ever had the feeling that you were important, that if the end of the world was going to happen, you would be involved? Rightly or wrongly, probably in childhood...

But no, seriously, I am important. I will have a role to play in averting the coming apocalypse - and the whole world will be watching.

Look at the evidence:

What was I thinking?

Oh, right.
It looks like I posted about what I was thinking...but I didn't post about what we did.

Hot damn that was a good night out. We three kings rolled out into Southampton full mightily, hitting the funky bars 'The Orange Rooms' and Mono, and then, after accidentally bumping into a rather spinky young lady who we knew from high school (who just happened to be out with all her other student nurse friends...), we sallied forth to a little club called Rhino.

Not a Rhino of the Spearmint variety, I might add.

All was good and well, picking up pizza and lush pasties on the way back to Dave's for films and drinks, where James ate three pasties in quick succession and promptly fell asleep.
Excellent.

The rest of the weekend was a melťe of internationally acclaimed computer-based fun and frolics, as well as going to see Matrix Revolutions.
Other outcomes from the weekend involved us reaching the conclusion that miniature ponies only exist because they are a cheap way of getting out of the 'Daddy, can I have a pony?' question, and, by way of being too small to ride, their only virtue is that they are easily portable.

Dave seems to think this will be all the socialising we'll get to do before Christmas. He is wrong.
It is his destiny.

Game of Life

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Game Theory is a new and young science. It has a rudimentary mathematical structure that helps predict the best strategy to pursue in any situation where there are rules and turns; a strict regimen that may allow the gaining of an advantage by one player over another.

Newton on his beach, playing with his pebbles, put the language of numbers around what humans and instinctive life had been doing in their heads all along Ė all sorts of calculus and projectile maths. Without realising it, we carry out these calculations through judgement, meaning we can do exciting things like catch balls (...as done by humans, dogs, dolphins, seals...) fly (...birds, bats, insects, Keanu Reeves...) and dodge leaping sabre-toothed tigers (everyone).

New Order

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Welcome to autoblography.co.uk, the new, sexy and very definitely more stylish outlet for The Autoblography.

All of this comes courtesy of one man, a man whose renowned expertise in the field of web design lead me to bitchslap him into putting together this site.

Thanks, Dave.

Anyhoo, it's here, it's not green, yellow or orange, and I like it muchly.

Here's to the future, and writing all about it.

Terminal Affection

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Yesterday, well...I'm putting that down to a bad case of the 21st century. No cure, apparently, only time.

Today I will have the very great pleasure of rolling down to the lush and verdant bars-sorry hills of Hampshire, to meet, greet and generally socialise with Messrs George and Foster, a.k.a. Greenhamster and Supersonicboyuk.
We will be rocking fat ones left, right, centre, up and down, and painting Southampton whatever colour they have available and is relatively cheap.
Hopefully red.

As a bit of a plus, I am going by train, and there has always been something about train journeys that cheers me up.

Granted, the timetabled services may be terrible, the fag burns on the horrific blue and orange seat covers might be crusty and black, and the trains might simply stop in the middle of nowhere for up to an hour for no apparent reason.

But I love train journeys, even in this country. Waterloo is a craphole, but it is a magnificently thronging craphole, and the atmosphere is always amazing.

Train stations have that air of magic for me; busy, hectic, urgent and even desperate at times, the edge of travel and excitement to be off to somewhere new, somewhere different.
How can travel be anything but an act of hope?
All those hopeful, active, moving people...a busy train station is a great awning space of hope, and the joy of arrival and meeting.

It's just a shame that I always seem to be running through them.

Looking Down

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It's Autumn. My Mum has Seasonally Affected Disorder (S.A.D), and ME. She's in bed after attempting to get up and get dressed this morning.

After a tip off and many crossed fingers, three drafts of over one hundred thousand words, f*ck knows how much in postage and printer cartridges, and attempts at striking up a personal relationship with an agent, I'm back at square one, staring at a glowing screen.
Polishing the already polished, but admittedly not perfect, manuscript that has become almost nemesis-like in proportions.
I want to work on my new projects. This is heartbreaking.

Matt was a good guy, and now he's dead.
Simple really, in text form.

Put all this in with the harshness of a world where everyone is fighting for themselves and their own needs and wants and stuff everyone else, where people are people and nothing is perfect and things are fading into darkness of dot dot dot...

Nothing is changing and it is changing too fast. I am powerless and hating it, but wanting to stay that way because once you have a little power all that matters is the next step, the next promotion, the bigger salary, the hugeness of ego and personal assertion.
I am not a rat, but I'm at the starting line of the rat race with nothing else to do today.

Help.

Do the good die young because they had less time to go bad?

Or is the world just a fucking vindictive place?

Announcement by Proxy

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I did what must be the world's longest double take this week - lasting a little over 24 hours.

I am a terrible channel surfer, and when my clicking-finger gets going, I'm the same with blogs.

And today I noticed.

RIA IS ENGAGED.

Congratulations Ria!

It's like, the second post on the page.

Nip on over and leave the girl a comment, someone.

Welcome to Democracy

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The people have spoken!

The results of yesterday's poll means that The Autoblography shall, in the future, migrate to autoblography.co.uk...but not yet.
Well done, everyone, thank you for voting, and don't you feel all wonderful about having been part of the decision?

The fact that I bought autoblography.co.uk five minutes after the poll went live has nothing to do with the poll.
What?
I promised you the illusion of choice, and you got it!
And you chose right.

The future's bright, the future...may not be quite so orange...


In Other News...

A conversation I had yesterday:

Chap: We wouldn't usually call, you understand, it's just that you didn't include return postage.
Me: No. It was about eleven pounds, and it was the end of the month. I didn't have enough money. Sorry.
Chap: Ah, right, okay. Well we're sorry, but we don't want to pursue the avenue of representing you.
Me: Oh, right. Well. Thanks for calling.
Chap: That's okay.
Me: Were there any comments? Is the manuscript annotated? Because if it is, I can drop by and pick it up on Friday, maybe...
Chap: Er, no. No formal feedback.
Me: No formal feedback?
Chap: No.
Me: Any chance of some on the informal front?
Chap: He did mention that the other stuff sent in wasn't as...there as the first set of material...but that's informal.
Me: Right. Er, thanks.

Another line of pursuing / hunting / desperate pleading with an agent comes to an end.
I think I'll go back to the non-Agent Trap (TM) stuff and see if I can get it there...

We'll see.

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