Thursday, January 31, 2008

Squirrel Alert

This, my friends, is how it begins...

Birdsong and Buffalo

Last night, I had the great pleasure of falling asleep to the sound of birdsong. I'd found it, by chance, where the defunct OneWord Radio used to be, and I was delighted. Sadly, it had gone by the time I first awoke, a couple of hours later. Why, though, isn't there a birdsong channel on radio? It would certainly get listeners - in fact, I believe when birdsong is used as a test transmission, or to keep a channel open, it can get more listeners than the programmes. Television could adopt the same approach too - what could be more restorative than watching, say, a field of cows grazing, or sheep on a hillside? I remember sitting in a 'home cinema' in a TV showroom in New Jersey (don't ask), watching a channel entirely devoted to footage of buffalo grazing on a prairie - the most perfectly restful TV I ever saw. Who needs programmes?

Zeros, Heroes

So, Edwards (subject of a very funny podcast on The Onion) drops out of the Democratic race, so that - get this - 'history can blaze its path'. Decent of him to stand aside for that blazing history. Giuliani, inevitably, pulls out and backs McCain, uttering the words 'America could use heroes in the White House'. Could it? What for - apart from zapping incoming alien invaders? Being a war hero is no quaification for office - is it?

Sian Weight Loss Shock Horror

I have at last empirical evidence that I am, indeed, the only person that watches BBC Breakfast. In the normal course of events a shocking weight loss, suggesting anorexia, in a TV presenter would be hitting the tabloid headlines and bringing out all the fake doctors to say what's wrong with the poor dear. That, however, is exactly what has happened to Sian Williams and nobody has noticed except me, because, of course, nobody else is watching. It is, as ever, a lonely but exhilarating feeling being B.Appleyard.

Ryanair's Schoolgirl

The Ryanair schoolgirl ad is roughly similar to the Britney Spears schoolgirl vid. Ryanair likes to use shock to get publicity, a tedious, infantile but probably effective strategy. Toying with paedophilia is the game this time round. This is a publicity sure thing - nothing fires up the slavering hacks and the prig 'spokespersons' like paedophilia. Of course, using children for sex is an evil, but there are other evils. It's just that the contemporary imagination seems to be stuck like an old record player on the image of the paedophile as the incarnation of all that is vile. Genocides and serial killers, these days, can barely get arrested, publicitywise. In that context, Ryanair knew exactly what it was doing. It also judged its little dash of child love perfectly. If the ad really offended, nobody would be showing it, but, in fact, it's everywhere. I think the truth is the schoolgirl uniform, though it clearly signifies childhood, is an acceptably naughty, almost a traditional fetish. We have St Trinian's after all. The clever little marketing runts at Ryanair have, therefore, targeted the culture at just the right spot - mid way between the evil and the cosy.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Binge Drinking - The Solution!

Hats off to Greg Mulholland, described as an 'MP', who, after long and agonising thought, has come up with the solution to binge drinking. Yes, that's right - smaller glasses. Why did nobody think of that before? This would save all those helpless victims of the large glass from making a spectacle of themselves as they rampage through our town centres of a Saturday night - I'm sure they'd be as grateful as the rest of us. And for the beer drinkers among them, how about a half pint glass? That would sort them out, wouldn't it?
Meanwhile, the persecution of smokers and pub landlords continues, with the EU proposing a ban on patio heaters, on the inevitable 'green' grounds. Surviving smokers must be made to suffer - pariahs shivering in huddles through the winter months. Maybe we could help them smoke responsibly by introducing half-size cigarettes...


... the blog has been, like the USS Enterprise's weapons system when Picard needs it most, offline but I think we're back. Yep, we're back.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Cooking, Grumbling

While we have to make do with dour Gordo, those lucky Thais get this guy as prime minister. He sounds like fun, with his trips to the market, his TV show - Cooking, Grumbling (what a title) - and his disarming way with female TV reporters. I wonder what Keith Floyd's up to these days...

Newsline of the Day So Far

'In reality, a spy satellite heading uncontrollably towards Earth is not an uncommon event, says Dr Ruediger Jehn, a space debris analyst at the European Space Agency.'
From BBC News 24. I have already applied for a job as a space debris analyst, it's the same as being a novelist or anthropologist if you think about it.

Beckett Saves The Planet

I can't think how this escaped my notice back in August. Does it not amount to a tacit admission (from a Green!) that the whole effort to 'save the planet', reduce our 'carbon footprint' etc is a waste of time. Our best planet-saving strategy would be to stay at home, immobile and eating a bare minimum, taking care only to turn the TV off properly when we shuffle wanly off to bed. Ultimately, we'd have a planet inhabited by characters/lifeforms out of Samuel Beckett - but the planet would be saved (which wouldn't please them). Most of us, I fancy, have the feeling that life demands a little more of us. Oh, I don't know though...

Hats off to Cheeta and Voytek

Brethren (and sistren), let us turn away from the depressing world of human vice and folly, and ponder two heartening stories from the animal kingdom. The impending memoirs of Cheeta the Chimp - a tale of high living, scandalous behaviour and addictions overcome - will surely rock Hollywood on its heels. How much was he paid, I wonder - and will he name the lady chimps in his life or maintain a gentlemanly silence? The latter, I hope. I liked the cut of Cheeta's jib, last time I saw him, lounging by the pool with a cigar and a whisky.
Meanwhile, the Scots clamour, quite rightly, for a fitting memorial to this heroic bear, another who discovered the pleasures of booze and baccy, but only in the course of duty. A shame he did not live to write his memoirs - he certainly had a good war.

Be Brazen, Be Happy

Brazen, that's what we need to be, brazen. Brazen it out. Amaze with your capacity to go beyond embarrassment, guilt, irony and self-doubt. Leave your listeners too stunned to protest, their mouths hanging too wide open to speak. Take Alastair Campbell. While working for Blair, he created a media culture of negativity and he sacrificed fairness and accuracy for speed and sensation. And what does what does he say now? He attacks the media for its culture of negativity and its willingness to sacrifice fairness and accuracy for speed and sensation.  See what I mean? Brazen, you can't beat it. Or take his old boss. Blair has taken on yet another job to take his post-PMT (prime ministerial tension) earnings over £7 million. He's advising the Zurich insurance company on climate change. I know more about climate change than Tony Blair; if I had a dog and had taken it on my last trip to see Jim Lovelock it would know more about climate change than Tony Blair. And anyway, er, wasn't he supposed to be sorting out the Middle East? Again, brazen. It is the way of the future.

Monday, January 28, 2008

On Opinion

Elberry startles yet again. Commenting on my Private Passions post, he says of my radio performance, 'Was trying to put my finger on how you sound... surprisingly undefended & not trying to hold to a rigid structure (eg 'This is who Appleyard is - be awed!'), as if you locate your strength not in crystalline abstraction but in allowing everything a say, however errant or awkward.' This startles because it is more or less what I had been saying about myself in a discussion with somebody about the holding of opinions - though Elberry was being nice, I was engaged in bitter self-criticism. My problem is I hold opinions without actually holding them in a state of 'crystalline abstraction' or in any other way. I try opinions out, though, to be honest, I'm not quite sure what an opinion is. If I take a view of something based on the balance of evidence, that would not seem to be an opinion, merely a choice forced upon me. If I form an opinion without any evidence, then it becomes no more than a subjective inclination. One could say this becomes less subjective because the view is taken in the light of one's experience of life - so that an inclination becomes more of an opinion the wiser the holder of the view is and, perhaps, the better his track record. But this doesn't seem implicit in the use of a word. We don't call the view of a stupid fifteen-year-old something different from the opinion of a wise sixty-year-old. I suppose 'opinion' is just a way of pretending there is more solidity to the people we meet than there actually is. Certainly a large number of people I know seems to define themselves through opinions and to judge others by theirs. I am incapable of doing this, which is, I'm afraid, a very disabling condition. I console myself that it is the times that are at fault, not me. Sorry to be so introspective, but Elberry did startle.

The Beresford Manoeuvre

Lord Charles Beresford fell out with the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII. Attempting to effect a reconciliation, Edward invited Beresford to dinner. Beresford responded with a telegram - 'Very sorry. Can't come. Lies follow by post.' Having discovered that, I can almost taste the urge to use it myself. The telegram will have to be an email. Now I just have to find a way of persuading certain creeps to invite me to dinner.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Church Crawler Writes

Well, I've been walking again. This was in a part of Oxfordshire that was formerly Berkshire. The familiar home counties mix of rolling farmland declining into hedgeless agriprairie, and picturesque villages for the most part deserted (on a working weekday) and often lacking even a pub. Thank God then - or man's exertions on His behalf - for the churches. This walk was, in a quiet way, rich in them.
It started with the grand medieval church of the market town from which we set out (a church that was quite sensitively made over by two distinguished Victorian architects and is still being worked on expertly and to good effect, as was explained to us in detail by the incumbent, a man with a fine sonorous voice, ritualist beliefs and a stud in his ear). But what stands out in the memory is one of those small, seemingly insignificant village churches in which England is so rich that we are barely aware of them. This building, largely 13th century, barely scrapes ten lines in Pevsner. In the little churchyard are several baroque tomb chests and stones, carved with charmingly inexpert swagger. An exterior door, reset, is clearly Norman. Inside, the chancel arch is archaically narrow - no later 'opening up' here - and the two abaci survive, very crisply carved with leaf trails. A distinguished Victorian has been at work, adding a south aisle, but the effect of quiet, time-worn simplicity is unspoilt and absolute. It is a numinous space.
This church might yet become redundant, as many such do - but for now it retains its soul, the feel that only comes with having been attended, and attended to, over so many centuries. It is, in its small and wholly unspectacular way, an astonishing survival (one among so many that we forget how astonishing they are) and still, like all such churches, it is rich with that sense of age-long continuity, embodied history. Of course, inevitably, Larkin comes to mind - not only Church Going, but, as always on these walks, Going, Going. Well, even in our time, it has not yet , thank God, Gone...
Meanwhile, why aren't you listening to Bryan's Private Passions?

The Rise of the Bloodless Party Hack

Good lord! The Sunday Mirror still exists! I had no idea. I have become aware of this startling fact today because it seems to have a story that everybody else is following - Alan Johnson 'taking money from a middle man'. Of course, in a grown-up country this wouldn't be a story at all. All this dodgy donation nonsense has happened because MPs made some needlessly complex rules for themselves which they then proceeded to break. As I have said before, the pol-bloggers have inflated these stories beyond all reason. The result is that any trivial back-office slip can lead to an MP being accused of corruption. But think of the long term effect. We already have a tabloid-driven rule that anybody seeking high office must be utterly clean of any contact with drugs and flawlessly chaste. Now we have a rule that says they must spend most of their time checking every penny that comes their way. Intelligent, thoughtful, original people with any blood in their veins at all would, in the present climate, be insane to want to go into politics. Stupid, bloodless party hacks and automatons are our future. And we deserve it.

Private Passions

It is Sunday and you are all required to listen to me on Radio 3's Private Passions at noon - or any time you like on the internet. As I have said, I shall not be listening so you all have to report back here on what a fantastic programme it was. In case there are any dissenting views, I have acquired a special piece of software from a hacker in Peru. This sets fire to the house of commenters.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Irony and the New York Times

Sometimes I feel the New York Times possesses - in spite of the mass of evidence to the contrary - hidden depths of humour, dark wells of irony. This struck me as a possibility when I noticed this tagline on an NYT blog headlined Memory Refill - 'Over a lifetime, coffee as a Proustian common denominator.' Nobody with any wit or literary sensitivity could have written that unless they were being ironic. Is this possible? There may be a further clue in the feature itself - 'I wouldn't be so pretentious as to say,' writes Judith Warner, 'that I have measured out my life in coffee spoons. But it wouldn't be so far from the truth.' Again, this is very funny if meant as irony at the expense of this kind of writing - that having the cake of pretension and eating it is just brilliant -  but plain stupid if not. My intention now is to test my ironic NYT theory by deliberately treating the entire thing as an infinitely subtle version of The Onion.

The Quantum of Dying Tomorrow with a View of the Casino

James Bond film titles are a unique literary genre. Some are routine  - Casino Royale, Dr No, Goldfinger. But most are quite meaningless -  A View to a Kill, Die Another Day, Never Say Never Again, You Only Live Twice, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is Not Enough, The Living Daylights. This group is interesting, no other films series has such titles. None of this latter group have any special connection to the film to which they are attached. All seem intended to suggest some kind of fatal encounter, but the technique varies. Breaking this group down further, we have the hortatory - Never Say Never Again, Die Another Day, the proverbial - Tomorrow Never Dies, You Only Live Twice, the thrillerish - The Living Daylights, A View to a Kill and the philosophical - The World is Not Enough. Yesterday the title of the latest was unveiled with a flourish that suggested it was an event as important as the film itself. The title is Quantum of Solace. It is the worst Bond film title ever and, I predict, it will be abandoned before the movie is released. Meanwhile, I feel I can help. I suggest Tomorrow is Too Early, Too Many Spies Die Just Before Dawn or, my favourite, Never Die Twice.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Scientology Again

And this time it's war.

Starbucks and Birds

More evidence, if any were needed, that whatever it is Starbucks are selling, it sure ain't coffee. Why do people drink these vile megaconcoctions of cowjuice and sugar? We Brits have never been good with coffee - in my boyhood milky instant was the norm (remember Birds? a powder sold on the basis that it had no taste whatsoever) and ground coffee was an exotic rarity - and the coming of Starbucks to these shores seems to be driving us back to our ancestral milkiness. This leaves unsolved the abiding mystery of why Bryan is always hanging around in Starbucks...

The Barley Eater

Today is the saint's day of Macedonius the Barley Eater, who spent more than 40 years living in a deep pit in the Syrian desert, eating only barley mixed with water - he's about halfway down this list. What cards these ascetic saints were... It was also on this day that, in 1984, the first Apple Mac went on sale, and, in 1935, the first canned beer, courtesy of the Kreuger Brewing Co of Virginia - barley and water again.

My Private Passions

I fear it is time to start plugging my appearance on Radio 3's Private Passions this Sunday at noon. You may recall I blogged about the joyous experience of recording this a few months ago. I shall not listen. I don't listen to myself on radio and I don't watch myself on television, which is probably why I never get any better at either. Nige, who got hold of a tape, tells me it's okay and ends with a good, shuddering sob - for the listener, not for me. Anyway, you are required to listen and then phone the BBC duty officer to say how wonderful it was. It's the law.

Davos Days

I am afflicted by little darts of nostalgia every time the World Economic Forum at Davos comes around. I was a 'fellow' of the WEF for a couple of years in the nineties. I think it was some kind of bureaucratic error and they actually wanted Sir Bryan Appleyard, chairman of Gigantico Inc, Warden of All Souls and author of Golgotha: a Triptychal Vision of Humanity at the Crossroads, the greatest novel of our time. But they got me. It was a riot. One high point was laughing so much with the Balkan expert Misha Glenny that we both fell backwards in our chairs and were immediately photographed on the floor, still laughing. I never saw that picture. The first time he met me Klaus Schwab, who runs the show, said, 'Nice to meet you again' because, I realised, he assumes he has met everybody. The meetings - apart from the boring corporate ones - were pretty good. In those days they wanted to talk about really big ideas like the book I had just written, rather than just economics and politics. I also remember that, for some reason, I was given beef stroganoff at every lunch, but, one evening, I had the best curry of my life. The Indian government had flown it into Zurich on a 747. Really. Sadly, even though they thought I was Sir Bryan, it wasn't just for me. The primary dynamic in those days was the encounter between the rich nations and the Third World. Now, I suspect, it will be the shifting of economic power away from America towards Asia as the credit disaster unravels.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Nonsense and Chickens

With nonsense like this and this dominating the news and draining our pockets, the popularity of suicide cults doesn't seem so surprising really. Still, it was good to hear Mr Humphrys roughing up the ludicrous Alan Johnson this morning on Today. The utter uselessness of this kind of 'information' campaign was neatly demonstrated recently by the reported rise in sales of battery chickens (up 7 percent in Tescos) as a response to the anti-battery onslaught of Messrs Oliver and Fearnley-Whittingstall. Their campaiging efforts turned out to be one big advert for chicken-eating. Turkey Twizzler anyone?

Hot News: World Ends

Is it just me or is the server at ... down!!!!?
PS Oh hang on, it just seems to be my browser - Safari, Firefox okay. Phew, I thought we were all going to die.

On Group Suicide

Suicide is easier as a group activity. There now seems to be a  suicide cult in Bridgend. This is said to be internet based - the net, of course, is a very good way of getting together to die. The Japanese young are especially vulnerable. But why is it easier to get together to die? Jim Jones persuaded all his followers to die together and Japanese soldiers in Iwo Jima jointly blew themselves up with hand grenades - this is the basis of the most harrowing scene in that most most harrowing film Clint Eastwood's Letters from Iwo Jima. In both cases it seems clear that group dynamics made suicide easier. Introspectively one can see how this might work. We all behave differently in groups - especially when we are young - and do things we would not consider doing alone. But this doesn't say quite enough. The question is: why is this thing, the idea of suicide, in particular so transformed by group dynamics? I suppose it's something to do with the ultimate consolation - you are not alone. Self-murder is the ultimate act of love or comradeship. When asked the question, 'Are you prepared to do THIS for me?', 'no' becomes the most difficult answer, the answer that says you don't belong.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Books: Another Coda

Diehard Thought Experimenters might recall my post, The Books, about my rummage in the library of my late old friend and mentor. I'm now reading one of the books I made off with - Helen Waddell's The Wandering Scholars, an illuminating study of a whole swathe of European cultural history of which I was barely aware. It is also quite beautifully written - of how many similarly scholarly works could that be said today? What's most remarkable, though, is that this study of medieval thought and poetry was virtually a bestseller. In its year of publication, 1927, it was twice reprinted, and by 1938, when my old friend bought and read it, it was in its eighth impression (and much revised). Truly the market for books was very different in that lost prewar time, before social engineering destroyed popular education.
The book is also margin-marked - a habit he encouraged in me, but which I soon found pointless, as every time I returned to a book I'd marked, I'd be entirely mystified as to (a) why I'd marked a particular passage and (b) what my cryptic annotations meant. Still, it is touching to have the marks of his reading mind still on those 70-year-old pages.

Oh Happy Happy Crash

Wonderful, the markets have finally crashed. I was expecting this six months ago, but, for some reason, this particular phase of financial bullshit and delusion has lasted slightly longer than most. The crash is good because, unlike the other 'we've beaten the market' scams that I can remember, this one seemed unusually nasty and damaging. Certainly a lot of 'real world' people will suffer as a result. For myself, I can look forward to decent restaurants being restored to their former glory and mega-baby-buggies ceasing to clog up Notting Hill cafes as hedge funds evaporate, private equities collapse and international bankers sod off back to where they belong, leaving London to delightful Polish builders and waitresses and writers of thoughtful essays on the burning issues of the day. My record on forecasting is poor, but everybody needs a dream. 

Monday, January 21, 2008

A Protocol Problem and the Lust Caution Taxi

People who talk in cinemas should, of course, be dragged out, tortured, shot and tossed in the nearest quarry. However, my protocol problem is this - is this course of action permissible for people who talk during the trailers and ads? My own feeling is that it is, but I would hate to find myself guilty of a faux-pas. Meanwhile, I found Lust, Caution tolerable primarily because Tony Leung would make a hedge fund's Christmas party tolerable. Ang Lee is all very well but he is, ultimately, superior white bread. However, in the Hong Kong scenes, an English taxi is seen twice. Nothing wrong with that except for the fact that it was an Austin FX4, which, as any fule no, did not come into service until 1958. The film is set in the war. This does not look remotely like any forties car - the Coke bottle style is something of a giveaway. Is this the worst props failure in any major movie?

A Caption Service to the Entire Nation

This - the third Monday in January - is, I am told, the most miserable day of the year. I'm just glad Vera Duckworth didn't live to see it. Anyway, as a public service, I offer this view of Kensington Gardens in April. There, you feel better already.

Paxman's Toenails

Has the Supreme Paxometer gone mad? Is he under-employed? I think we should be told.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Somme Survivor

One of the most remarkable things about this is that M. de Cazenave appears to have enjoyed a full 69 years of retirement. This must be some kind of record, even for France.

Ken Livingstone

I know I poured a degree of scorn on the idea that political exposes could make a better world, but, having read NickCohen on Ken Livingstone, I am prepared to make an exception. I am happy with whatever it takes to get rid of this 'Mayor'.

Croydon: Qui dat pauperi...

This morning, obliged to take a roundabout route in to NigeCorp - the Corp that never sleeps - I found myself on the Sunday morning sidewalks of Croydon (truly, as the great Kristoferson says, There ain't nothing, short of dying....). This mini-Megalopolis gets weirder, more futuristic and more disorienting every time I reluctantly set foot in it. But the weirdest thing was making my way through an open, still deserted shopping mall. Without the shops open and the movement of people around the vast space, these malls make no sense at all - and, heaven knows, they are not made for getting through or out of; they're designed purely to suck you in and draw you through the entire 'retail experience' before spitting you out, lighter by a walletful. A mall when it is not performing this function looks like nothing - a gleaming nothing, all vitrine and fascia, void and without meaning, a purely retail topography, bathed in denatured light.
I did, after several bewildering changes of level and direction, find my way through and out, onto the street - where, miraculously, in the midst of a world with no apparent meaning or purpose but consumption, and dwarfed by the gleaming skyscrapers all around, this survives. 'Qui dat pauperi non indigebit' is the motto over the entrance. What would stand at the entrance of the monument malls of our age? 'Shop, you bastards'? Fortunately, these unreal spaces will not live so long...

No Country for Old Men

Doubtless the Coen Brothers' film No Country for Old Men has been receiving the rave reviews it richly deserves - I don't know for sure because I haven't read them, film critics trouble me. Anyway, even if they hated it - perfectly possible - No Country is a magnificent piece of work for all sorts of reasons. I shall pick out one. The Coens have always attracted epithets like 'weird' or 'strange'. The reason for this is they tend to let things be what they are without loading them with narrative or thematic sense. Shakespeare did this. One of the points people routinely make about his plays is every character, however trivial, is a complete human being, he lets them live, as it were, outside the play - a phenomenon brilliantly exploited by Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. The Coens have always done this, though, because they use film, their completeness also applies to objects and, in No Country, to a couple of dogs. This is a very radical approach because it subverts questions like 'Why?' or 'What does it mean?'. Yet they have always been superb storytellers, every scene contains something, usually many things, that makes you need the next scene. In No Country their method attains a new perfection. The storytelling is breathtaking, yet, as in an old New England house, everything seems isolated in space and time, everything is allowed to be what it is. Secondary characters - in particular, a gas station owner and a motel receptionist - are so vividly realised that they are both permitted to steal their scenes from the stars. I guess everybody's talking about Javier Bardem and Tommy Lee Jones, but let's hear it for Gene Jones and Margaret Bowman. Anyway, if you want to now about movies and a truly single- (well, double-) minded approach to style, you will have to see No Country twice now and half a dozen times on DVD.

The Upmarket Web

In The Sunday Times I write about high art on the web. The stuff I found was a revelation to me. Try this if you have ten minutes to crouch on all fours before the lamentable reality of your existence - always a good way to kick start Sunday.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Pigeon Portraits

Call me an old sentimentalist, but I liked this story in my local paper very much - and the pictures, which are really rather fine. In France and Belgium, naturellement, they take this matter more seriously. I have often admired this monument in Lille. Brussels, I believe, has something similar. Allons, pigeons de la patrie...

He's Not Human

This story confirms what I have long maintained - that Gordon Brown is not actually a human life form. Something bovine, it would seem... (But read to the end of the story and weep.)
I fear Alison Jackson will just have to mould something out of congealed porridge...

Entitlement and Tattoos

Occasionally I become dimly aware that I am using a new word or an old word in a new way. The latest is entitlement, a word I don't think I used at all before about six months ago. It is a word used in many contexts, but almost all are political. For example, there was an article I read a couple of weeks ago pointing out that both Clinton and Obama had a sense of entitlement about the presidency. Also there is widespread condemnatory talk of the entitlement culture, which is, in essence, a new way of saying that rights entail responsibilities. I am also periodically made aware of a sense of wounded entitlement thanks to my Ponder Post 10: Tattoos?. This remains my most hit post. The primary theme of the comments is that I had no right to say that I didn't like tattoos, specifically - and, perhaps, most woundingly - that I could not find a person with a tattoo attractive. People have a right to bear tattoos, they say. True, but that in no ways limits my right to say they repel me. If I cannot say that, then I can say nothing meaningful about any human behaviour other than that it is none of my business and, if pressed, I might be obliged to have sex with a tattooed person. This, I suppose, is the ultimate logic of those who feel, above all, entitled. I don't like the sound of these people. Unlike so many neologisms, entitlement seems to be a word worth having. 

Thursday, January 17, 2008


I love this story, especially as it's not just a new species but a new genus, and the tree's so big you can see it in satellite photos - and yet nobody had spotted it. Talking of palms - there's always this. Beautiful, and true.

Don't Recommend the Liver

This story has been bubbling away for a few days, and it disturbs me - probably because, for once, I genuinely do not know where I stand on it. I can see perfectly well that the arguments for 'presumed consent' - at least in terms of outcome - are strong, clear and, in terms of utilitarian calculus, unanswerable. One really ought to make one's corpse available if it's going to make a lot of people's lives much better, or indeed give them another lease thereof. It's an instrumentalist view of the human body, yes, but, in practice, I'd probably go along with it on the basis of so much good outcome. (I used to carry a card, with the footnote 'Don't recommend the liver'.) And yet, and yet... It's the very idea of 'presumed consent' that is chilling. That's one big presumption - too big, I suspect, to be trusted in the clumsy hands of the NHS. And medicine - especially hospital medicine - does, regrettably, attract more than its fair share of sociopaths who can be relied on to handle things in the most insensitive and arrogant manner possible. Not like the charming Spanish surgeon (and leading crooner) who is behind Spain's organ donation success story. Anyway... any thoughts?

Guido, Lewinsky, Drudge

Today, my one-off lunch date Guido Fawkes celebrates - and how often does he do that? - the tenth anniversary of Matt Drudge's breaking of the Monica Lewinsky story. This was, for Guido, the media equivalent of the storming of the Winter Palace. The gatekeepers of the old media were overthrown by the citizen hacks of the net. Drudge, Guido notes, now earns '$500,000 a month and... lives in an exclusive penthouse in Florida.' (An exclusive penthouse? The use of estate agents' language suggests Guido may be losing his grip.) Of course, he's right - Drudge was the great precursor. But I would draw his attention to an important rule recently stated by Alex Ross of the New Yorker. He calls it the 'Snakes on a Plane' rule - 'Things invariably appear more important on the internet than they are in the real world.' Instant worldwide publication sounds exciting enough until you realise it amounts to little more than tossing a cup of water into the ocean. Furthermore, I am not convinced that the massive increase in political babble caused by the internet serves anyone's interests. The pol-bloggers, for example, all get tremendously excited by these campaign funding scandals, but stand back for a moment and you will see how fantastically trivial they are. In fact, in retrospect, the Lewinsky business seems pretty damn trivial. The creed of the expose culture - that it will make the world a better place by stopping people behaving badly - only has to be stated to be itself exposed as an absurdity. The simple truth is that exposes are fun and politicians are easy targets. Of course, we should expose their shortcomings - but, as we see with Brown, the important shortcomings are not about money and sex but about character and intellect. The expose culture takes our eyes of the ball.

Steve Jobs Upsets Me

I am an Apple man. I find myself wanting the MacBook Air, even though I don't need it. I think Jonathan Ive is a genius. Pathetic, I know, but there you go. Having read this, however, I feel I have been punched in the stomach. Speaking of the Amazon Kindle, Steve Jobs said, 'It doesn't matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don't read any more. Forty per cent of people in the US read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don't read any more.' He's probably right, but why did he have to say it?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Hill-Billy

I am grateful to Susan for this important insight into American politics. He/she looks very southern somehow.

Atonement 2

I see Atonement has picked up Bafta nominations to go with its Golden Globes. As I have said before, this is a terrible film. I have yet to meet an intelligent, discerning person who thinks it's any good at all; some have told me they laughed throughout. So who are these award judges? What are they for?

Coulrophobia 6: Spare the Children

I just turned on BBC Breakfast (I feel I must as I am its only viewer. I appeared on the show last year, a pointless exercise under the circumstances, but, well, I felt I owed it to them). They issue a warning that a clown in full costume is about to appear. Seemingly the hidden plague of coulrophobia is now so serious that we all have to be warned about incoming clowns, rather as epileptics have to be warned about flash photography. This blog is deeply concerned about this appalling pestilence - see here, here, here, here and here.  The Breakfast story is that images of clowns in hospitals are scaring children. In fact, 'clowns are universally disliked'. This raises the question, why clowns? It raises the further disturbing question, why do people become clowns? In order to scare children? A mere warning is not enough, it is time for an outright ban or, failing that, a cull. I suggest special hammers.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Boil the Hedge Funders' Heads

Forgive me, but, as a nation, is there any good reason why we should not tell the hedge funds RAB Capital and SRM Global to go and boil their heads? They filled their boots with Northern Rock after the crash and now they're doing a little agitprop among the shareholders. I use the word 'agitprop' advisedly because, as I have said before, the sudden belief in the financial community that the state should underwrite all shareholder risks is communism. As far as I can see, the shareholders have no special rights. They punted and lost. Of course, none of this would be happening if Gordon Brown could overcome his lifelong habit of indecision. But he can't.

The Hoopoes Are Coming!

Predictably, the glad tidings that Britain will soon be home to hoopoeing Hoopoes, cooing Turtle Doves, all manner of fancy Bitterns, Bustards and Woodpeckers, a host of spectacular raptors, colourful Shrikes and frankly weird Wrynecks was presented as yet more bad news about global warming. It will, most likely, turn out to be complete tosh - but it would be good to drowse of a summer afternoon to the sound of turtle doves and hoopoes...


I was pleased to see this - confirmation, if any were needed, that the Green brigade are massive humbugs, enjoying the satisfactions of priggery without the trouble of acting in accord with their supposed beliefs.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Shakespeare and the Genetics of Ageing

More poetry. I have just discovered that Shakespeare stumbled on antagonistic pleiotropy 400 years before the rest of us. AP is the phenomenon whereby genes have multiple effects, some of which may be damaging to the organism. Ageing seems to be caused by genes turning against us once they have done their work of getting us to reproduce. In the sonnet That Time of Year Thou Mayst In Me Behold, Shakespeare writes:
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the deathbed whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourished by.'
There you have it, antagonistic pleiotropy. I must be mad giving this stuff away for nothing. People get PhDs for less.

Unreal, give back to us what once you gave

Whatever else the internet does, it does this and, for that, I am grateful. While holding on the phone waiting for a BT human being to talk to me, I vaguely browsed. Some echo in my mind took me to this glorious poem by Wallace Stevens. I read and reread for 20 minutes, the phone between my shoulder and my ear. BT never answered. Their incompetence and the wonderful web had provided me with a little holiday in paradise.

Boats Against the Current

John Harris notes pop culture's curious retro air. Technology which should be propelling us into the future is, in fact, bearing us back into the past. Harris says - I think correctly - that old technology limited our capacity to wallow in nostalgia, new technology makes everything available all the time. Faced with this landscape of infinite choice, we curl up with the old and familiar, fearful of the new and strange. Meanwhile, the CES in Las Vegas and Macworld in San Francisco are desperately selling us the future. The imagery surrounding these vast promotions is always forward and outward.  But we prefer to use the technology to make it easier to be at home with our selves and our memories. We even use it to pretend to be going to the gym. We don't seem to be good enough for the future. I felt this while partying at the tip of the Gherkin, a monument to our future selves. Transhumanism makes explicit the technnocracy's implicit impatience with our mere humanity. We can engineer our own salvation, say the transhumanists.  But, of course, like Gatsby, we can't.

The Boys Are All Right

Great news from Burma. My favourite gagsters are alive and well. This gives me the chance to use the happiest picture in the world one more time.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Egret News

A couple of months ago, I reported on a heart-lifting encounter with a Little Egret. Well, I must report that yesterday I came across this beautiful bird again, in much more unlikely surroundings, viz a public park right on my Surrey suburban doorstep. I'd already seen a kingfisher - as I do nearly every time I set foot in that particular park (though it never loses its magic) - but the egret was a wonderful surprise. I glimpsed it through trees as it came in to land and could hardly believe what I was seeing. Approaching nearer, I found it standing on open ground, amid a scattering of crows (making it all the whiter), with a slightly bemused Where am I? And what do I do now? air. I watched it, amazed, for some while as we played grandmother's footsteps across the open ground. Then eventually I left it in peace - elegant and radiantly white against the sodden green. What was it doing so far inland? (getting on for 15 miles south of the London Thames, 40-plus miles north of the south coast). Is this, I wonder, a sign of things to come? Will the little egret become as common a sight as the heron? I rather hope so, as it is considerably more decorative and graceful. Has anyone out there in the blogosphere seen an egret so far inland?

Obama's Steel, Hillary's Art

Commenting on my post Hillary?Why?, MichaelB draws our attention to this article by Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post. I also noticed that sharp putdown by Obama - though I remember him saying 'You're likeable enough, Senator', which is slightly different from 'You're likeable enough, Hillary.' This was indeed borderline vicious and Krauthammer condemns him for it. I don't understand why. He describes the Hillary performance that inspired the remark as 'artful and sweet'.  A better description would have been 'patronising and frivolous'. Obama was irritated, as I was, and he slapped her down, as I would. I'm all for such flashes of steel, they cut the sticky threads of spin. I've heard old Tories muttering that Obama will crumble as soon as Iran and/or Russia pull some nasty stunt to test the new president. On this performance, I suspect they're wrong. The rest of Krauthammer's argument - that Obama is an unreconstructed liberal or 'old Labour' as we might say over here and that he is being given a free ride by the media - may well be right. But, since we now have a Labour party dwelling some distance to the right of the Tory party, I don't set much store by what politicians appear to be out of power. 

Childhood's End

In The Sunday Times I write about the politics of children's television.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Hillary? Why?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but is it not the case that Hillary Clinton faked the sob, the 'iron my shirt' hecklers were plants and New Hampshire appears to have been rigged? Further correct me if it is not the case that many Americans want her to be president. But, then again, what do I know?

On Incest

The twins who married suggest the human mind is a blank slate. They were attracted to each other, not knowing they were twins. Therefore, blank slaters would argue, the incest taboo is culturally determined, not pre-programmed. On the other hand, the anti-slaters would point to the Westermarck Effect. Children raised together acquire an aversion to sexual contact with each other. This happens even if they are not biologically related. The incest taboo is thus pre-programmed in that, from birth, we are inclined to reject sexual contact with those with whom we are raised. This would explain the universality of the taboo - always a problem for the blank slaters. On the face of it, the blank slaters, having been in the ascendancy since Hitler discredited old hereditarian views, are now on the run. Both on the left and the right people accept there is such a thing as 'human nature', an idea that the old left found repugnant since it seemed to compromise the possibility of progress. However, in the course of the fallout from my Edward O.Wilson interview, I noticed some resurgence both on the right and the left of blank slateism. There seems to be a new revulsion at the idea of any pre-programming. I don't share this revulsion; in fact, I find it distinctly odd. But explaining exactly why would take another post and it's Saturday and I need a swim.

Friday, January 11, 2008

A Martyr to Science

Thought Experiments salutes this hero, who gave his life to establish once and for all that white spirit is indeed flammable, thereby silencing the doubters and scoffers. Note too his modest summing-up: 'I'm all right. I just want a fag and a beer.'

Standing on One Leg

As you will know, C.M.Doughty, the great Victorian explorer, was renowned for his ability to stand on one leg for long periods. In the spirit of exploration, I have spent some time now - about five minutes - attempting to discover the world record for one leg standing. I now know that the ability is of some scientific interest. The Guinness Book of Record site came up with nothing, it did, however, offer me the opportunity to text my query. This I did, only to receive the following answer - 'Welcome to Texperts, in association with Guinness Book of Records. Ask us any question, any time! You can get more free credits by registering at!' Irritated, I repeated the question and received this - 'Arulanantham Suresh Joachim broke the Guinness World Record for balancing on one foot - balanced on one foot for 76 hours and 40 minutes!' This is amazing - a)Arulanantham's feat (foot?) and b)that I should be able to get this information by text. Anyway, I'm sure it will come in handy (footy?).

God Toppler Edmund

Of course, to all right thinking people, the 'conquest' of Everest was the most appalling impiety. A mountain that is impossible to climb is much more edifying than one that is merely difficult. I could worship an impossible mountain.  Sir Edmund Hillary demoted Everest to difficult. 'Well, George, we've knocked the bastard off,' he said when he returned to base camp. Exactly. But, I suppose, he was a hero of a time when the 'conquest' of the planet seemed like a good thing and when the old colonial idea of toppling 'false' gods was still alive and well. Mountains made good gods. William Empson wrote a great poem about the emptiness left after the toppling of the gods - 'Let us stand here and admit that we have no road.' Hillary was an alpha male, but it's betas like Empson who have the last word.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Not Reading

While the Lazy Hungover Bastard reads the London Library, the English publication of Pierre Bayard's book - amusingly reviewed in the NY Times here - reassure the rest of us that there's really no need. Surprisingly for a French intellectual, Bayard seems fundamentally sound and disarmingly honest in this matter (not that I'm going to bother reading his book, natch). There are, after all, many more way of 'knowing' a book than reading it cover to cover - especially as so much reading is wasted effort. Even the greatest books can contain large amounts of padding - part of the experience of reading, true, but surely optional? - and few prose works demand the total, cover to cover job. As for modern fiction - so much of that is an annoying, frustrating waste of time, so little of it couldn't be brought in at two-thirds the length, that these days I rarely bother with it, unless I have good reason to believe it will be worth the effort. Of most reading, too, as Bayard admits, we remember almost nothing. As for unread great books, I'll happily own up to never having read, strictu sensu, the Divine Comedy, Don Quixote, Paradise Lost, the Aeneid and indeed War and Peace (tho that I shall definitely get round to). Any confessions, bloggers?

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

A Note from the Lazy Hungover Bastard

Thanks to World Beater for calling me that. I am not, however, hungover and not being lazy is why my posting rate has slumped. I face a mountain of work. I shall continue to blog but probably not so much in the mornings. I have to read most of the London Library - a great and eccentric institution whose metal floors result in perversely pleasurable static shocks as one browses - and I read better in the mornings so my postings will probably come later. It doesn't seem to matter whether I post or not. Nige's erudite posts are keeping up the traffic at commendable levels. Perhaps I shall try to keep you informed from my reading. Actual news seems to be passing me by. I have observed, however, that all male television presenters now look like estate agents. This may be because, as Nige has observed, their natural trade is going under. Or because the estate agent look - perfect hair, tight suits, noisy ties, bland but criminal features - is regarded as some kind of ideal.

More Brown, More Balls

Gordo and Ed have been out scaring the kiddies again, riding on the coattails of an obviously Good Thing and pretending the state can do something useful about it - the usual pattern. What's striking, though, is Hal's novel use of naked utilitarianism to justify reading - it's an 'anti-povery, anti-deprivation, anti-crime, anti-vandalism' policy, you see. Really?

Lobsters and Lobstermen

One of many literary anniversaries this year is the bicentenary of the birth of the great French poet Gerard de Nerval. The Wikipedia entry includes a deep and balanced discussion of the lobster question - regulars might recall my small tribute to the lobster-loving poet on the new legendary
quiz night. What is more worrying is mention of Flanders and Swann's comic version (!!) of Je Suis le Tenebreux - at which the mind boggles beyond boggling. Richard Holmes, in Footsteps, gives a brilliant account of de Nerval.

For Henry Blogg

As that great Norfolk man B. Appleyard will surely know, it was on this day in 1917 that the Cromer lifeboat, under coxswain Henry Blogg, made one of the most heroic multiple rescues ever attempted. Blogg was indeed, as his memorial states, 'One of the bravest men who ever lived'.

The BBC Hails the Second Coming

So, Hill came good - which might explain the stunned silence from Appleyard. This result can only be good news for the Republicans, who will thereby garner the Anyone But Her vote, whoever their candidate turns out to be. As has been pointed out more than once on this blog, a propos La Clinton and also our own Great Helmsman, people so fundamentally unlikeable and lacking in human characteristics don't get elected. What struck me about all this, though, was the tone of the BBC coverage as the result (on the Dem side - obviously Republicans are an irrelevance in their world) came through. Hill's narrow victory was reported in terms of outright Clintonista triumphalism, as if it was the Second Coming - for some reason, the BBC loves Hillary. Why? Is it the old Clinton 'stardust' (a tawdry quintessence of BS)? Is it because she's a woman? Does that trump being black? Is it because she's been on Woman's Hour? I don't know - I find it all very bewildering. Glad McCain came good though, even if he's too old to make it to the finishing line. He should have been President instead of Bush - things would look very different now.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

WD-40: The Fan Club

Inspired by the sudden mysterious appearance here at NigeCorp of a 'beanie' (a form of headwear that could scarcely be described as a hat) bearing the proud WD-40 logo - inspired, too, by a deep affection for that most versatile of products - I checked out the website, and discovered that there is a WD-40 Fan Club, no less. I have of course signed up, and look forward eagerly to my weekly tips and monthly newsletters. Am I alone among Thought Experimenters in my love of WD-40? I have a feeling Big Chip Dale's a WD-40 man for one - he's probably already a member...

Starbucks - Glad Tidings

Bryan is strangely addicted to Starbucks (it can't be the coffee...), but for me the sight of a new branch is about as cheering as a new estate agent opening for business. As Jackie Mason has often reminded us, Starbucks is there to make us queue up for cardboard buckets of under-strength, over-priced beverages barely worthy the name of coffee. I am happy then to pass on this news to any who might have missed it. The sting in the tail, though, is the suggestion that, faced with market collapse in the US, Starbucks will set its sights on foreign parts. That might mean us...

The Norfolk Leapers

I have, for the moment, nothing to say, so here is a very rare shot of a pair Norfolk Neon Deer, caught one bleak night on the seafront at Wells-next-the-Sea.

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Woodcock and the Springe

From A.J.A.Symons The Quest for Corvo - 'But meanwhile a new woodcock fell to my springe.' Wonderful.

Saul and Hill

Watching the charmless Hillary last night, I suddenly remembered something Saul Bellow said about her when I interviewed him in 1995. She is, he said, 'a broad'. He meant, I presume, she was like one of those tough, knowing, life-worn women, usually seen in dark gangster films. Or something like that. Anyway, the accuracy of the term made the old man smile and, thirteen years later, with Hill toughing it out in the face of defeat, it made me laugh. 

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Polo Neck

While awaiting the cravat revival so confidently foretold in my epoch-making post, Cravat News, I have adopted as my habitual winter leisurewear the polo neck sweater (cotton, silk or cashmere are all acceptable). Very fine the polo neck looks too, imho, with its range of connotations stretching all the way from John Mills in Above Us The Waves to beatniks in smoky dives - there's resonance for you (and it improves posture, too, encouraging the straight neck and the head held high). It seems to me an excellent option for the mature gentleman who wishes, for whatever reason, to keep his neck decently covered. On the other hand, I may be making a complete arse of myself.

Theology Made Simple

Call me naive, but doesn't the offering of gluten-free comunion wafers effectively close down the transubstantiation debate. And look at the size of Rowan Williams's wafer - there's a man with no fear of gluten.

Nige - Not a Horse - Peers into the Future

Laptopless it was - and a very strange feeling (I can only return to blogworld today because I am back at NIgeCorp HQ). I do not, by the way, live in a stable - in my book (Every Boy's Bumper Book of Doors), a stable door is a wooden door that opens in two halves, one above the other. I often stand there with my head poking out of the top half, hoping some passerby will give me a sugar lump, but it never happens. I am not a horse and no it's not a stable. The door actually opens into the breakfast room of my achingly beautiful tile-hung cottage, built in 1895 in the 'Surrey style'.
Which talk of houses brings me round to the one prediction that can safely be made about the UK in 2008 - and it's joyous news. Estate agents will be closing down, the length and breadth of the land. My devout hope is that none of them will ever reopen - after the last extinction phase in the early 90s, the bastards were all back within a few years, reinfesting every high street. This time, as well as falling house prices, two new, longer-term factors are at work against the estate agent menace: the ludicrous compulsory Home Information Pack, which was bound to depress the market even at the best of times, and the direct sale possibilities opened up by the web. There cannot be a future in estate agency - can there? Certainly, I expect 2008 to be a good year for charity shops - a useful and happy feature of the retail scene - as they step in to fill the high street gaps left by all those folded, unmourned estate agents.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

What I Learned Over Christmas

With Nige laptopless behind the stable door, it is probably time I returned to this serious business of blogging. So here is a list of 10 things I learned over Christmas.
1)Stendhal's Le Rouge et le Noir is good, readable but over-rated. I think I know why.
2)Henry James's The Awkward Age cannot be read with pleasure after page 126.
3)The most perfectly satisfying joke in cinema is in A Night at the Opera. Harpo is lying asleep with a huge mallet in his right hand. The alarm clock rings. Harpo does not wake but smashes the clock with the mallet.
4)John Gapper of the FT is my new favourite journalist. Here he sinks into the Nespresso phenomenon. He has a blog called the Gapperblog. Lightness of touch has been unknown in business journalism since I left that racket more than 20 years ago.
5)Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake are the two worst actors Hollywood ever produced.
6)Barack Obama is terrifyingly smart, not least because of the way he hides it, and Hillary Clinton has all the charm of a broken speak your weight machine. If Mike Huckabee continues wearing a read sweater while playing a bass guitar we all lose.
7)Red wine is best drunk slowly in large quantities. Another Booze Cruise may soon be necessary.
8)I have not had the norovirus; if I had, I may well have finished The Awkward Age and, perhaps, embarked on Proust whose entire critical reputation is defined by the fact that he is almost always read by people when they are ill. Peter Ackroyd once assured me it was only necessary to read the first seventy pages. That I have done. They were very good.
9)Human beings are, to a rough approximation, all dreadful. Always smash the alarm. (Also in A Night at the Opera, Groucho says that Harpo has insomnia and is sleeping it off. I am that Harpo.)
10)Right wing American women are all blonde and all present Fox News.

Friday, January 04, 2008

From Bloggery to Burglary

So I got home last night and found I'd been burgled. This had only happened to me once before in 30-plus years of householding, so I'm still below the average, no doubt. As burglaries go, this one wasn't too bad - not too much mess, and they missed the important stuff - but they did force a stable door to get in, and they took my laptop and the digital camera I'd been given for Christmas (that'll teach me to dabble with new-fangled technology). The TV, DVD and video they left, as being way below spec for their purposes. The cops did the usual thing - issued a number for the insurance claim, turned over and went back to sleep -'forensics', for what it's worth, will maybe turn up today, puff a little dust around and shrug their shoulders. Meanwhile, I have a modest proposal: A gun in every house and free rein to use it on all intruders. That, I think, would put a stop to burglary.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

A Few Words on George McDonald Fraser

Well - in the continuing, ever more mysterious absence of The Master (whom I now envisage entirely encased in a plaster cast with his outspread limbs attached to winches, while saucy nurses scurry around and Sir Lancelot Spratt sweeps though the ward), I had better say a few words about the death of George McDonald Fraser (whom The Master no doubt interviewed). The strange picture that goes with that BBC News story recalls one of many amusing Fraser documentaries and interviews, in which he would delight in making his interlocutor blench with the violence of his reactionary views (in TV profiles, they'd mostly end up on the cutting room floor). I've read a few of the Flashman novels over the years, admiringly, but never became hooked. The book of his I most cherish is his memoir of fighting through Burma, Quartered Safe Out Here - vivid, moving, truthful and gloriously 'incorrect', it is, in its way, a great book, which I'd recommend to anyone who hasn't come across it.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


If you feel in need of a chilling prediction for the new year, try the last paragraph of this.

The Perils of the Charleston

It's January 2nd - and it seems Appleyard is still recovering from that New Year's Party (too much Charleston action - I' ve warned him before...). The poor fellow has not so much as noticed the turning of the year. His calendar stands still at December, the hungry sheep look up are are not fed...
'I think I shall go out for a walk, burbling and muttering to the amazement of all I pass...' That's Philip Larkin, writing on this day in 1943. I'd do the same, but am toiling thanklessly at Nige Corp again.
Writing on this day in 1886, Thomas Hardy notes that 'cold weather brings out upon the faces of the people the written marks of their habits, vices, passions and memories'. Worrying news, with a cold snap coming. But is it true? Bonus points for naming the book I took both those quotes from.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Er... Happy New Year

What no Bryan? Partying too hard, I'll warrant. Well, all I can say for now is Happy New Year, bloggers and everybody. It is, I believe, 2008. Beyond that, all is mist and confusion. I hope to be back with more shortly...