It's a completely cool, multi-purpose blog.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Lionel Blair...The Dirty Dozen...The Sting. You work it out.

So, farewell then FSM and thanks for the memories. I think Frances and Simon had a great time but Maya had to suffer repeated bashing and toy-stealing by a rogue baby who had better remain nameless.

Changing the subject utterly and completely...Beth! She is now walking with confidence, which is wonderful but means she can get to pretty well anything in the house. We have to keep an eye on her, but as you can see she is so happy in my company that there is never any unpleasantness.

Meanwhile, we enjoyed watching They're A Weird Mob. It's hardly a classic Powell, but the depiction of mid-1960s Sydney is a delight. At the end, he just buys a patch of land overlooking the harbour which would cost millions today.

ISIHAC is back - hooray!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

More egotism from Tom

I've added a couple of handy links to the left of this post. The most important one is the one that says "My Book Reviews Page". I've decided to create a sub-blog for book reviews - people seemed to enjoy the Top 100 Novels write-ups, so this is an extension of the same thing. Hope you like it.

Meanwhile I have a stinking cold and I'm getting increasingly fed up with Australia's obsession with a couple of miners who sat in a hole for 2 weeks. They aren't heroes. They had no alternative. Anyone else would have done the same thing. Belive me, the media coverage is astoundingly disproportionate and it's making me extremely grumpy. Gah!

Giant Steps

Beth has been making great strides this week – literally. She started the week taking the occasional tentative step, generally followed by the realisation that she wasn’t holding anything and a startled collapse to the floor. Yesterday, though, I watched her take about ten steps walking from the table to a toy. I had to restrain myself, because exclamations of excitement always distract her and send her crashing to her bum, but it was a thrilling moment for me.

Frances, Simon and Maya are still enjoying their trip – they went down to Jervis Bay this morning and will be back on Friday. I hope the weather is OK for them, and that they manage to spot a whale or two. It was great to have the weekend with them and we managed to achieve a fair bit – next weekend is their last here, so it’s Coogee and the Bayswater Brasserie to round things off.

I have finally finished reading Little Dorrit; I started it weeks ago, and I’m normally through a book in a few days. Partly it was down to the length, but impenetrable plotting played a part in my dawdling. It’s probably the least enjoyable Dickens that I’ve read – woeful sentimentality, casual racism, a general sense of gloom – but some of the writing is brilliant, the critique of capitalism is startlingly relevant and, as always, the sense of place is wonderful.

Onto Invasion of the Body Snatchers now – the first of a long sequence of short books, I think.

I don’t think that I ask too much/
But maybe I’m just out of touch

Friday, May 19, 2006

I said “Naff off, scoundrel, you’re a cad”

OK, this is a footie post, so if you’re not interested then (a) skip it, and (b) you’re not my friend anymore. So.

2 weeks ago Arsenal needed to do 3 things:

1) Secure 4th place in the league
2) Win the Big Cup against the best team in the world
3) Retain Thierry Henry

All 3 looked very unlikely, and I would have taken any 2 of the three happily. As we now know, we’ve achieved numbers 1 and 3, and performed courageously in our failure for number 2. That’s a fantastic achievement I think, and the season can now be called a success despite the various travails along the way (including a fair amount of ill-informed twaddle).

Here’s my manifesto for the next season:

1) We’ve lost Pires and Bergkamp, and therefore a heap of experience, so a couple of big signings are essential. I’m talking about established players in the 26-30 age range; Gallas, Beckham, Torres or whoever. We’ve got plenty of young talent but it’s going to be a long season with the ECL qualifiers coming soon after the World cup, and 19-year-olds will always suffer a dip in form sometime.

2) Cut out the diving – yes, I mean you Eboue. Pires could be embarrassing sometimes, now he’s off we could do with losing that tag.

3) Stop moaning when we lose. The great performance against Barca was almost forgotten when all the press concentrated on the anti-ref nonsense. The ref was god-awful, but it clearly wasn’t all one way. We are irritated when Ferguson and Mourinho behave like that, Arsenal should show a bit of class.

And one FIFA directive I’d like to see; make it clear that waving an imaginary card at a ref in an attempt to get another player cautioned is ungentlemanly conduct, and therefore punishable with a yellow. No rule change required, and it would stamp out an ugly new trend.

Finally, did anyone watch the ECL final build-up on Sky? Asking for a prediction, Richard Keys turned to Paul Merson and began with” So Paul, if you were a betting man…”

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Sol - the Spanish word for sunshine

I’m in a glum mood today after having got up at 4.30 am to watch Arsenal lose in the European Cup Final. It was a great match and a highly courageous performance from the team, but not quite good enough. The ref was appalling, but that wasn’t why we lost, we just couldn’t cope in the end with the attacking flair of Barcelona. Ach, well, always next year and all that.

M has taken Frances, Simon and Maya up to the Blue Mountains for the day. It’s been great having them around, and a particular joy to get to know Maya properly. She is a very different baby to Beth in her appearance and style (Beth is all over the place, Maya is very placid), but both have the same basic good nature and charm.

The weekend in Avoca was lovely, relaxing as ever, the only problem being that Talisman wasn’t the hit it could have been. Some people just won’t accept their inner nerd. Yesterday was a day off for me so we drove to Manly and did the ferry thing. Photos here shortly – I keep saying that, don’t I?

Coming up this weekend: M at a conference, FSM meet up with their kiwi relloes, and I work on Saturday and Balmain it on Sunday. What busy bees we are.

She was one in a million, which means there’s five more just in New South Wales.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

From the Grauniad, Gawd bless it

And finally, the result of a cash prize competition organised by doctors in the Highlands to find a name for Fort William's new health centre. After sifting through the many suggestions received over the past few weeks, the chosen name is (drum roll): "Fort William Health Centre". Competition organiser Dr Chris Robinson acknowledges: "The name we have chosen may seem a little disappointing to some, particularly those who put so much thought and imagination into their suggestions."

When middle-class white blokes were the future of dance music

Frances, Simon and Maya arrived safe and well yesterday. It’s great to have them here. They had a chilled out day at home yesterday trying to get over the jetlag. When I crept out of the house this morning at 7am everybody was asleep, so hopefully that’s kicked in already. They’re off up to Avoca this morning, and I’ll join them later. Luvverly.

Cup Final this weekend. I’m torn about whether to support Liverpool or West Ham. Liverpool are a good club, Simon will be cheering them on, I like several of their players, but…West Ham are a good club too, I like several of their players too and I used to live within walking distance of the ground. Tie in the underdog factor and it’s “Come on the Hammers”. A winner from the admirable Nigel Reo-Coker would be good. Thanks for helping me work through that.

In other news, I’m coming to terms with the sad fact that I am now too old for dance music. Maybe it’s all those dreadful Ministry of Sound chill-out compilations that are to blame, but the Lemon Jellification of it all is really depressing. What looked to be forward-thinking and exciting ten or fifteen years ago has now congealed into a moribund and conservative scene. New stuff sounds less exciting than Kraftwerk re-issues, and any number of Aphex Twin rip-offs are duller than a good guitar band. Actually, I think Gnarls Barkley are the future. I tipped them back in March, you know.

I am the wrath of God. Who else is with me?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

A post worth about 2,100 words

OK, I gave up and bought myself a memory card reader and – tadah! – photos of Beth appeared. Magic.

Plenty more at

We had a very productive weekend of gardening and earning cash (I was working on Sunday for double time), as well as getting a few other jobs sorted out for the imminent arrival of Frances, Simon and Maya. The only fun bit was Friday night, mates over for dinner and too much wine.

We’ve had very little time for artistic pursuits. I’m reading Little Dorrit which is taking me, like, forevaah. In England I did buy a couple of enormously groovy DVD box sets – Powell/Pressberger and Herzog/Kinski – and we started the former with a viewing of The 49th Parallel. Great stuff; Anton Walbrook is making a bid as my favourite actor ever, and Olivier’s French-Canadian accent has to be heard to be believed.

Whoops there goes another year/whoops there goes another pint of beer.

Love youse xx

Ps. The greatest newspaper correction ever published, for your amusement: "Due to a mishearing on the telephone, we reported last week that Mr & Mrs ___ would be living with the bride's father. They will in fact be living at the Old Manse."

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Back in Godzone - not necessarily a good thing

She gave birth to a daughter/
Within a year a walker/
She looked just like her mother/
If there could be another

We’ve been back from the Mother Country for a week and we are all well and truly back in the swing of things. In Beth’s case this is a good thing; after a few nights of being all over the place and making us pat her bottom for ages at about 4am, the best way to get her back to sleep, she is now sleeping through the night again. What with the end of the football season coming up (Barcelona? Pants, I've heard.), soon I’ll have no reason to roam around the house in the small hours at all.

For me, I’m sadly back in the swing work-wise. It’s not that work is particularly painful, it’s just that I’d far rather be mooching about Islington or Southwark or Bristol. Or even Brentwood. M is a lot more sanguine about it. Maybe the imminent visit of Frances, Simon and Maya will palliate my more extreme homesickness pangs.

So, some trip highlights:

1) Spending more time than has hitherto been possible with beautiful baby Beth. I really felt even closer to her by the end of the trip than ever before.
2) Seeing family and friends, obviously, and meeting a few new arrivals – Maya, Alex and Alfie.
3) My last visit to Highbury. I fluked a ticket to the WBA match (cheers David) which was nominated as “Dennis Bergkamp Day”. The man himself came on as a sub to set up one and score the next in a 3-1 win. Either somebody was writing or script or, far more likely, Arsene Knows.
4) Beth learning to climb the stairs.
5) The London Marathon was an event that it is entirely impossible to be cynical about; life-affirming, joyously communal and awe-inspiring. And as for Collette - 4'02" - chuffing brilliant! 6) Aimlessly strolling around London and finding some fantastic wee places that I’d never heard of, let alone been to. May I recommend Mount Street Gardens in Mayfair?
7) On the flight home a bassinette/TV monitor debacle resulted in me holding the detached screen in my hands, meekly approaching the flight attendant and whimpering “I’m very, very sorry.”
8) Beth haring around Hong Kong airport like a baby possessed, seemingly determined to meet every Chinese woman in, well, China.

And some of bummers:

1) All too short, of course.
2) We didn't quite get around to seeing everybody we wanted to, in particular DP and Scottie. Next time.
3) Too many goodbyes.
Plans are now afoot to try and get us all back over sometime next year.
btw, we have a heap of great photos but at the moment our computer isn't recognising our camera. Anyone know why this might be?

Moo you bloody choir!