Friday, September 30, 2005

And the barman says..."what's with the long face?"

Thanks to Pab for the link to possibly one of my favourite GB05 photos.

Let's just be thankful Shaun wasn't having a sneaky snifter at the same time...

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Pride and Prejudice

Karen has arranged a girlie night out at the cinema, but the plans crumble a little when we're delayed getting to Parrs Wood and discover that Pride and Prejudice is sold out even though we're there 20 mins before showtime.

After much discussion of other films (nothing else much worth seeing on) the wonders of WAP tell me there's an 8.45pm showing at AMC Great Northern.

So we dash into town and eventually find our way to the car park despite all the road closures due to building works (great signage: sign 1 "For Great Northern Car Park follow Diversion"; sign 2, 20 yards beyond "Diversion Ends").

Unfortunately we miss the opening, but hopefully not too much.

I was worried that it would suffer in comparison against the 1995 TV series, but it holds its own well. Significantly different in many ways, a very much more realistic, earthy feel to it all.

Not bad at all.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Curry and the usual customer abuse

S and P are back from their holiday jaunt, cycling around the Shetlands.

Time to catch up...wherever shall we go for a meal we wondered?

Handily it meant S could negotiate menus and book the Punjab's upstairs room for the Namibia link fundraiser, planned for later this year.

Like we need an excuse to visit Ahmed and co...

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Penguin Passion

Thanks to Ship of Fools for the heads up on this one:

Apparently the ever so slightly batty US religous right are singing the praises of the Docufilm "March of the Penguins", suggesting it supports the theory of Intelligent Design and is a great example of monogamy, family values and dedicated child rearing.

An excellent and amusing response can be found by Sheerly Avni here.

Her closing line pretty much sums it up:
"So we have sex with up to 20 partners in a lifetime, tolerance toward gay couplings, and males who take "Go ahead and work late, honey, I'll watch the
kids" to a whole a new level. Again, we'd bet these aren't the family values the
Christian Right had in mind. But paid paternity leave? We'll take it."
But I feel the last word on the matter should go to one Shipmate whose response to this section from the first link:
"anti-abortionist campaigner Jill Stanek says the nurturing penguins were a
stinging lesson to women who contemplated a pregnancy termination.
"I remembered last year's March for Women's Lives in Washington, DC, when
pro-aborts gathered to bolster their right to kill babies," says Stanek, in a
column on "I thought maybe a penguin movie analogy would
help people understand."
was to suggest:

"Hot damn, they're onto something! If you knew you were going to give birth to a
lovely cute penguin instead of some ugly ass baby nobody would want an

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Post Festival

Greenbelt Management Group meeting today. For once an opportunity to spend a bit more time than the rushed few hours on a Monday night; a bit more space to review, ponder, dream.

Gill starts proceedings with a time of devotion. Within this she suggests that it is fitting that Greenbelt occurs at the end of the summer. This timing she proposes, gives us a rounding off of the season, we don’t rush off on holiday, we have space after the festival to reflect, to let things sink in.

Of course this flies in the face of the theory that Steve F and I have developed and I share this with her later. After all this fancy-smancy time for reflection is all well and good, but what about getting time to play out in the sun?

All things considered I’m not swayed, I remain committed to the campaign; what we need is an extra bank holiday in June so we can move the festival forward. All we’re lacking is a fully willing ‘martyr’ (Kathryn, your equivocation has been noted my love) and the humdinger of all causes to get the public rallied. Of course having a catchy tune to head things up is a nice to have, but I’m sure if we get the rest sorted, Stevie Wonder would help us out…

For now though, the festival maintains its position in the late August part of the calendar and the considered view is that it marked its place this year particularly well.

A group of us head off to Brick Lane for a curry this evening at a place called Preem. Banners claim that it has been lauded as the best curry house on Brick Lane by various respectable publications. The food is good, but if this is the best Brick Lane has to offer, then it’s running a way behind Rusholme, Bradford or Birmingham. Still I keep such thoughts to myself (I understand how unreconstructed Londoners struggle to cope with such criticisms…). Still I include it here, Steve L would be disappointed if I didn’t cover matters of curry in my blogs...

After the meal we head on to Spitz at Spitalfield market to meet up with other Greenbelt makers for a post-festival party.

Lots of my favouritest people all in one place – excellent!

An excellent evening of much drink, catching up and laughter. Some time after one am we’re turfed out and the fabulous Steve is true to his word and drives me back to my folks’ place. It feels very weird to be driving through the area I grew up in with a friend I met many years after leaving the locale…sort of like one of those mad dreams where different sections of your life meet up.

Not sure this is a good feeling.

Friday, September 23, 2005

London Bound

Another train journey and I’m back in London; glowing with virtue for forgoing cheaper, quicker air travel in favour of the more environmental option of the train. Virgin are getting good business out of me this year.

Of course with the usual madness it takes me nearly as long to get across London to my folks’ place late evening as it does to travel Manchester to Euston. Ah well.

Part of me gets a little rush at being back in London, the old home town, the familiar feeling, but then I experience the delights of its appalling night time transport systems and I remember one of the many reasons why I prefer Manchester.

Thankfully a little bit of forward planning means that tomorrow night I won’t be subject to the vagaries of London’s late night attempts at public transport. Well at least I think Steve is a more reliable option…


I've long been convinced that the decision about where to live is generally the most political decision anyone ever makes.

Twelve years ago that conviction drove me to make a decision about where to put down roots in Manchester; not in the trendy suburbs of Chorlton or Didsbury with the other young professionals, but in a decidedly rougher neighbourhood.

My thinking then and now was primarily about socio-economic factors, levels of depreivation or affluence. It's hard to explain my choice and the strength of my feelings about the need for integration on this score without launching into a major diatribe about disposable income, sustainability, mixed skill bases, diversity, keeping your ears open to the cries of the poor and so on and so on. I'll spare you that.

Besides, I'm not sure how well I can explain it, I'm kind of used to being a bit of a crackpot on this one; too far out from the pack to be able to communicate clearly what the reasoning behind the conviction is.

The best I can usually manage is to say that I feel that as our society tends evermore to separation and segregation, there is a choice to make: build bridges or build higher fences. I'm not for fence building.

So it's with interest that I've been reading this week about Trevor Philips' views on religous and race lines.

"Residentially, some [UK] districts are on their way to becoming fully fledged ghettos - black holes into which no-one goes without fear and trepidation, and from which no-one ever escapes undamaged,"

I hesitate a little at his completely negative write off of such areas, but much of the wider points he makes ring true.

Personally, leaving all the politics aside, for me it comes down to this: I like my neighbours.

I like our diversity our interaction and our tiny, tiny way in which we're breaking down barriers.

Give me the choice of sharing homemade samosas or self-congratulatory vintage wine and I know which I prefer...every time.

A little bit French

Well apparently, my obsolete skill is French (not sure how our compadres across the channel would feel about being labelled obsolete mind).

Ah well, quizzes are generally preferable to realistic self-analysis.

I mean that might take some effort...

France Modern (trois fleurs-de-lis)
You are 'French'. In the nineteenth century, it
was the international language of diplomacy.
It is a 'beautiful' language, meaning that it
is really just a low-fidelity copy of Latin.
You know the importance of communicating
'diplomatically', which for you means both
being polite and friendly when necessary and
using sophisticated, vicious sarcasm when
appropriate. Your life is guided by either
existentialism or nihilism, depending on the
weather. You have a certain appreciation for
the finer things in life, which is a diplomatic
way of saying that you are a disgusting
hedonist. Your problem is that French has been
obsolete for a long time.

What obsolete skill are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Thanks to Kathryn for the link.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Gambian Football Scam

Now I know that it’s antagonistic and somewhat untrue to suggest that it is ever "just a game", but even so, I don’t think this sort of behaviour is acceptable is it?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

So not at all formal then...

It’s been a long time since I’ve heard my mother really laugh. Laugh in that uncontrollable, ‘might wet my pants any moment’ manner.

I’m therefore glad that the following exchange caused her to laugh thus, but it is the only redeeming feature of the tale.

I merely rang her to let her know that as our MD was unable to make some do related to a charity our company have just become patrons of, I was having to attend and I thought it might be in London. If that turned out to be the case I would try to organise things, take leave, etc to combine it with visiting her.

"So what type of do is?” she asked “Is it very formal? Will you need to dress up?"

"Oh lord I hope not, you know how I hate anything like that" I replied

"If it’s in the evening, you might need to buy an outfit"

"No way, you know I hate stuff like that. It’ll be fine, I’ll just wear a work suit."

"So not a big formal do with meal then?"

"No, I think it’s the same thing that they mentioned in a letter the other month that I got a copy of. I’m sure that mentioned it just being a drinks reception…hang on I’ll find the letter."

L1z rummages through in tray...

"Yes here you go, it’s fine, it is just drinks, no big deal…it says: "I would like to invite you to our annual Patrons Drinks Reception, held at the Institution of Civil Engineers, where you will be presented with the Patrons certificate by HRH The Princess Royal."….OH BUGGER!"

At this point my mother started laughing uncontrollable in what can only be described as a very unsupportive manner.

Ideas as to how I can get out of this?


Anyone at all?

And don't think mentioning courtseying will be anymore entertaining coming from you lot, than it was from my hysterically giggling parent...

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Go Jerry! Go Jerry!

Good news, Jerry Springer the Opera will now be doing a national tour after all.

Stephen Green of the ever so delightful (supposedly) Christian Voice is quoted as claiming that the director Stewart Lee has a "perverse missionary fervour". I see the Irony Olympics are alive and well.

He's also encouraging people to try and protest and get the tour pulled. I hope he fails to get any significant support. I hope anyone duped into following his lead first time around has had their eyes open to quite how much of a fruitcake extremist he really is.

I feel sick to the stomach when people like this presume to represent a faith I hold dear. The way of Christ that I recognise may not be about perfection, but it is about love, grace, justice, peace and living life to the full; it is certainly not characterised by mean spirits, judgmental attitudes, lack of compassion and closed minds.

But then I guess Mr Green and co would suppose my mortal soul is beyond all hope.

Luckily I don’t think it’s his call.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Saddle up!

Thanks (well kind of...) to Dave for the link to the strangeness that is Saddleback Family Church’s worship programme.

Ok, so the little I know about the purpose driven Rick Warren suggests that his church is probably not going to be my cup of tea, but even I wasn’t prepared for this:

Dig around the website a bit and you can find some real gems; such as the opportunity to learn to worship through hula dancing (lessons provided) and a special section of the website in case you’re a first time visitor and are unsure what to wear. The advice is "dress casually and you’ll fit right in. After all, we have a pastor who wears Hawaiian shirts… and no socks!".


I mean, obviously, 'with socks' would be worse, but even so...

But hey, maybe best not to completely judge a church purely on fashion sense (really Steve I know you want to, but it’s not 'good'...), so I had a look at the "what we believe" section. Unsurprisingly they consider the bible inerrant, but then I’m not too troubled because apparently the good news that this church is selling, is only applicable to the male half of the population anyway. Unsurprisingly perhaps this is a message delievered by men in bad shirts.

The range of worship styles poses a lot of questions about how ghettoised church is and/or should be. Wise folk are debating this on a couple of blogs around the place such as here and here

Obviously, being the shallow blogger that I am, I’m more intrigued by the superficial issues, such as the naff logos and the terrible fashion crimes. After all, if these guys were serious about being culturally relevant, then maybe they should worry a little less about the presentation and maybe look at things like getting with the programme and working out that gender exclusive language and leadership are a little more important than whether you can bring coffee into the service (apparently "Yes! You can...").

Until then, I reserve the right to refuse to take Saddleback too seriously and will return to happily judging them on their naff presentation and dubious fashion sense.

I mean, do they really think Hawaiian shirts are a selling point???

Friday, September 16, 2005


So here’s a little story.

On the opening night of the Greenbelt festival one of my ‘buurrdddys’ and I were driving around site (can’t remember why exactly...I’m sure there was some good reason...), when we passed through part of the campsite and came across a group of teenagers juggling with the most amazing glow in the dark juggling balls.

We immediately pulled over and I wound down a window and said "hi".

Now either my reputation proceeds me, or the sight of a site vehicle coming over to them unnecessarily alarmed them, either way we were greeted with a nervous "what have we done wrong?" enquiry.

"Absolutely nothing" I say, "but they are fantastic – where did you get them?!?!?"

Ice broken, the happy teenagers proceed to show us these wonderful juggling balls that they have bought on site at the balls-u-like stall. They glow different colours and can even be set to change colour in sequence as you juggle. So cool!

Now I haven’t juggled for a while, but this could be the thing to cause me to take it back up...I seem to remember it was very good for relieving stress. And heck they’ll make groovy little lights as well!

Sadly by the time I get time to go to the balls-u-like stall it’s Monday and they’ve sold out of the ones I want. No problem though, they give me a lovely fridge magnet with their website details a post festival internet order should do the trick.

So last Saturday I place the order and figuring they won’t fit through the letter box I give my office address.

Wonderfully they arrive on Tuesday.

Slight hitch in that somehow my name has been missed off, meaning that our admin section are trying to work out what to do with a package whose only identifying feature is that it’s from the dubiously entitled balls-u-like (so innocent when you know, so open to alternative interpretations when you don’t...), but happily this gets resolved pretty quickly.

And the balls are so cool.

The only problem is that the internal lights strobe rather than stay on one colour or change more sequentially. Not what I wanted and a definite no-no for my migraines and besie mate’s epilepsy.

So I ring the number on the website and leave a message. They ring back and are so lovely. Turns out the balls I’ve bought don’t quite work the way I was told by the guy on the stall. For my model I’d need different light fittings for solid of sequence lights.

Next thing I know they are sending me six additionally light fittings so I can swap over as I fancy. They absolutely will not let me pay them for this and are just so helpful and wonderful.

Sure enough the light fittings arrived today (this time with my name on the envelope!) and they are wonderful.

This photo does them no justice at all, they're lilac, blue and green in real life, or can cycle through 7 lovely colours.

But you have to see them, squeeze them, throw them, to truly appreciate them.

So cool.

And so cool to find an outfit for whom claims of customer delight is not just empty rhetoric. So if you need juggling gear, diablos, glowing frisbees or such like, then get yourself over there – they’re fab!

Thursday, September 15, 2005


More good stuff from the wonderful Kirsty

Ever uttered the phrase "I'm just looking for something on google"?

Ever literally looked for "something" on google?

Go on, have a go...

Sometimes you just gotta love the interwebual thingy.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Something to chew on

Douglas Coupland is most famous for his writing (Generation X, Miss Wyoming, Eleanor Rigby etc), but he is also a visual artist.

In his work entitled Hornets' Nests, he combines these two strands of creativity, by literally chewing on his own work and using the pulp to mimick the creative process of the hornet's nest.

Moving on from his own books, Coupland made two more nests, one formed from used dollar bills (which he states took considerable chewing) and the other from the far finer and possibly more edifying pages from a Gideon bible.

Each nest apparently took a week of chewing, which Coupland undertook in front of the TV. Side effects included being devoid of saliva for days afterwards; though the forethought of pre-dousing the dollar bills in antiseptic, addresses certain just the chemicals and ink to worry about then ;-)

(thanks to Kirsty at Fragile Tender for the intitial heads up on this. The link from her blog now needs a subscription however!)

Sunday, September 11, 2005


Well I confess, I didn't recognise many of the favourite hymn choices so scored them all the same, but anyway, apparently:

You scored as Mystical Communion Model. Your model of the church is Mystical Communion, which includes both People of God and Body of Christ. The church is essentially people in union with Christ and the Father through the Holy Spirit. Both lay people and clergy are drawn together in a family of faith. This model can exalt the church beyond what is appropriate, but can be supplemented with other models.

Mystical Communion Model


Sacrament model


Servant Model


Herald Model


Institutional Model


What is your model of the church? [Dulles]
created with

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Advertising Crimes

They’re at it again! Fresh from the triumph of the ASA over Boswelbollox, I had the pleasure last night of catching L’Oreal’s new advert for something including pro-Tensium with claims based on surveys of a staggering 50 or so women.

On top of this I found in my mail, a letter from my bank ‘pre-approving’ me for a large loan, get this, “because you’re you!”. I’m tempted to write back and enquire as to which aspects of my sparkling personality it is that particularly attracted them, but…

But fake personal touches, dodgy customer survey data and pseudo scientific terms are only a few of my pet peeves…and given I haven’t had a really good blog rant for a good while…I hereby present my list of annoying advertising cliches, you know the things that make you take a conscious decision to never, ever purchase the respective product:

  • Voice dubbing part 1 – you know when an ad was very clearly shot in a different language and they’ve fudged together an English overlay. Step forward Kinder Surprise – you were one of the first and remain one of the worst.
  • Voice dubbing part 2 – ok this one is the cosmetics/perfume/hair colouring one where they overdub the model/actress with her own voice. I mean…just why? Obviously when it comes to Andi McDowell I can understand the problems of getting a good line out of the women (no I’ve never forgiven her for “is it raining…I hadn’t noticed!”, accepted it was never going to be a good line of dialogue, but dear God did she make a duff line worse…), but they do it for all of them. A nice breathy over-dub that fits awkwardly on top of the visuals. Is it supposed to be the aural equivalent of soft-focus?
  • Appeal to the Mums – anything that perpetuates the myth that the home is ‘mum’s department’. Because Mums are heros. Mum’s gone to Iceland. Mum in a million. Bleurghh!
  • Men are useless – usually relates to household stuff. Oh and the appropriate response is to find this not only a truism, but also whimsical and endearing.
  • Your kids will love you if – oh the lovely ploy of buy your kids processed cheese snacks or additive drenched fruit liquids and the opening of their lunch box will ensure you their undying love and affection.
  • Part one in a series of – twenty two million parts at the end of which you’ll have spent three grand on a ‘collection’ that’s worth about 10p
  • Debt consolidation – no really, they’re not a commercial enterprise at all, they really are just doing it out of the goodness of their hearts
  • Credit Card Crimes part 1 - Active Fraud Protection – hmmmm so according to the terms and conditions I have zero fraud liability, so maybe you shouldn’t make out that this initiative to manage what is essentially your risk, is an additional customer benefit eh?
  • Credit Card Crimes part 2 – Morgan Stanley Dean Wanker – "My card is...." – look mate if you’re relying on your plastic to give you status in life, then it’s a lost cause already
  • Ringtones – if someone passed a law suggesting that the makers of this fucking ads were to be sentenced to a lifetime of imprisonment in Guantanamo Bay with Crazy Frog and Sweety the Chick played at them 23hrs a day...well let's just say it wouldn't be at the top of this liberal hanky-squeezer's Amnesty letter writing list
  • Michael Winner – there just really is no justification.

And before any wag says it: "Fuck off dear - I know it's only a commercial!".

Actually, I have to confess to having an insurance policy with that company - they seem to be one of the few that don't throw a hissy fit about a Manchester address. However, in my defence, when they asked if there was a reason I was hesitating to renew the policy, I did tell them that I was holding out hoping to find a similar deal, but without the associated Winner element.

They laughed.

...mind you I notice he seems to have been dropped from their latest adverstising campaign and even just redirects you these days.

I'd like to think it was something I said...however improbable.

Still I'm not the only one who views the world of advertising with suspicion. The BBC recently collected 'rules' as to how the world works, according to the adverts at least...worth a read.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Beautiful Gift

Well a yukky second half to the week – post festival blues compounded by feeling seriously unwell.

On Saturday P&S ring up to say provisions are on their way if I can cope with a little company for an hour or two.

They turn up with a huge bouquet of flowers, bags of food and set about preparing salads and sausage sandwiches all rounded off with (best of all!) scones, strawberry jam and clotted cream.

Setting out in the garden eating a cream tea, with my amazing friends...suddenly the pain in the leg doesn't seem so bad.

Oh and I get a clockwork rhino as well (the obvious present for a poorly sick type apparently!).

Have I mentioned I have the very best sort of friends in the world?