Thursday, 31 January 2008

Sweets in the Arndale

I wanted to dive in from the balcony. Yum!

I found this pinned to a tree.

I felt a bit bad about taking it down, but I had to take a closer look. This is the front -

and the back -

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Do men get PMT?

After work I've had an inexplicable burst of emotion that I don't know what to do with, or how to handle. I feel like I want to cry. How confusing.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Step into my office, baby.

Someone has jammed up the shredder.

And the clucking hens start. Discovered by Mother Hen, who calls over to Forties Twenties, “Look, look what’s happened.” Cluck!
“Ooooh,” says 40s 20s, “that’s not good,” and asks Volume Eleven to join her. They gather around the shredder, and “Tut-tut!” loudly to themselves, to each other.

Cluck! Some background – Mother Hen is officially a PA to someone important, but unofficially she’s taken it upon herself to be the biggest busybody in the office. When we got new carpets laid, she was the one responsible for liasing with the workmen. I don’t know who puts her in charge of such things, and can only assume that she seizes every chance that comes up because she doesn’t have much else to do all day. Close behind her in busybody stakes is Forties Twenties, who spends her time acting as if she’s fifteen years older than her age, which is actually twenty-nine. She’s personally responsible for the ludicrous labelling system in our fridges, and for some snotty emails. Like this one:


Dear Team

The time has come around again to remind you of your responsibilities to both yourself and other staff members regarding the kitchen.

The kitchen is disgusting and it is a miracle that no one has become seriously ill given the bacteria that thrives in there. It is EVERYONE'S responsibility to keep it clean. ____ takes home the tea towels every week and boils them within an inch of their lives. She does not have to do this- this is extremely generous, She also took the time out to clean the mouldy fungus ridden drainer on the sink- again it is not her responsibility.

May I also inform you that there is no 'kitty' for cleaning products so please do not wait for someone else to replace washing up liquid when it has run out - consider replacing it yourself. I'm sure we can each afford £1 every few months. If this is not the case please inform me and I will set up an account where by you can pay into it 15p a week to spread the cost. It is invariably __ who replaces all the cleaning products - it is also __ and __ who usually restocks the biscuit tin. They do this out of kindness. Have a think about the last time you brought in washing up liquid/biscuits or washed a dish that wasn't yours?

If conditions do not improve a new system will be put in place whereby you will each allocated your own plates and cutlery which will be clearly marked with your name. This will identify those leaving dirty dishes, which will then be removed and placed back on that persons desk.

Thank you
The Kitchen Witch

PS _______ has replaced the washing up liquid so those who have left dishes on the side can now go and clean them

She’s the reason that I don’t use the fridge at work. Cluck!

A clandestine whisper: “Has anybody asked you anything,” hisses Mother Hen, “about shredder?” My neighbour shakes his head. “Well, it’s jammed, and I want to find out who did it, so I can charge it to them.”

All at once I feel like owning up to jamming it, confessing not only that I stopped it shredding, but also that I’d planned to do exactly that. I want to bathe in the guilt of sabotage, to be the pantomime villain that the earnest knights in shining armour need to justify their existence. I want to be bad!

Mother Hen comes over and tells my neighbour to check the catalogue for shredder prices because they’ve found out who did it. Someone beat me to owning up, it seems. And like a fart in the wind, the drama is over as soon as it’s begun.

Monday, 28 January 2008


Feeling like a dull-train crashed into me today and spilled its dull load all over me. Feeling like little in the world interests me, and little of me interests the world. I saw Pippa at lunch, and felt dull. I saw Clare after work, and felt dull. I'm home now, alone, and I feel dull.

And if I'm dull, who else am I likely to inspire? Nobody. Because dullness doesn't inspire.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Creative Writing Assignment 1

A young football defender from a minor European nation is their country's greatest footballer. At nineteen, and at a mid-range team, he is challenging the national captain who plays in his position.

If Jenas... was Danny Cipriani - and Gerrard was Wilkinson.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

The 100th post rundown.

Well, 100 posts. I said I'd never blog about blogging, but this feels like a decent landmark. I've really enjoyed keeping this sort of diary, sort of list of links. I also said I'd try to be brief, but interesting. So here are my top eleven posts.

11. Autumn photo.

10. Town Hall clock tower tour.

9. Russian Space Age Christmas Cards.

8. Crazy traffic on YouTube.

7. iPod shuffle sweepstake.

6. I like...

5. Canal walk.

4. Challenge Tennis Round 1
4. Round 2

3. Fireworks

2. £81 of T-Bone

1. Christmas Decorations.

Enjoy, and thanks to all of the sites that I found the stuff on. I've tried to cite sources where possible, hopefully I'm not infringing any copyright. Fair usage? I'll need to check with Boing Boing, I think.

Why Does The Sun Shine?

Why Does The Sun Shine?

(The Sun Is A Mass Of Incandescent Gas)

The sun is a mass of incandescent gas
A gigantic nuclear furnace
where hydrogen is built into helium
at a temperature of millions of degrees

Yo ho it's hot
The Sun is not
a place where we could live
but here on earth there'd be no life without the light it gives

We need it's light
We need it's heat
We need it's energy

Without the sun
Without a doubt
There'd be no you and me

The sun is a mass of incandescent gas
A gigantic nuclear furnace
where hydrogen is built into helium
at a temperature of millions of degrees

The sun is hot

It is so hot that everything on it is a gas
and many others

The sun is large

If the sun were hollow a million earths could fit inside
and yet the sun is only a middle-sized star

The sun is far away

About 93 million miles away!
and that's why it looks so small

And even when it's out of sight
the sun shines night and day

The sun gives heat
The sun gives light
The sunlight that we see
The sunlight comes from our own sun's atomic energy

Scientists have found that the sun is a huge atom-smashing machine
The heat and light of the sun come from the nuclear reactions of
and Helium

The sun is a mass of incandescent gas
A gigantic nuclear furnace
where hydrogen is built into helium
at a temperature of millions of degrees


Apres, originally uploaded by aqui-ali.

Boing Boing boings again!

Flickr user Aqui-Ali has posted a long-exposure shot of a couple having sex on a bed, a kind of erotic blur representing a great deal of energetic movement.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Rage, fury and a headache.

"Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage."

I recently gave my job twelve days to impress me, to win me back over. It has failed miserably. Unfortunately, I also failed – albeit less miserably – at the interview I had last Thursday, so the question of whether to leave or not has become purely academic. I do want to leave, but I need to find another job first. Paul has been searching for a less shitty job for about nine months now. I hope it doesn’t take me that long to find something else. Last night I was so angry that I had to leave the office so that I didn’t Hulk SMASH! the whole place in. I drank three pints in Sol’s, an inch of vodka at home, and three more pints in the Lion with the football. I didn’t feel much better after it all, and even less so this morning. But the anger has gradually faded.

I searched. I found.

“Found 313 jobs within 25 miles of M20 ___”

The best of these are:

Environmental officer for a local housing association.

Landscape something.

Urban Forestry Officer. A hip-hop woodsman?

None of them are suitable. There were quite a lot of jobs working on the railway, so I thought I’d have a look at the Railway People site. Zip. Next step recruitment consultants. I despise recruitment consultants.

Bury St Edmunds

Near to the gardens stands Britain's first internally illuminated street sign, the pillar of salt. When built, it had to be granted special permission because it did not conform to regulations.

Bury St Edmunds is the terminus of the A1101, Britain's lowest road.

Moyse's Hall Museum is one of the oldest (c. 1180) domestic buildings in East Anglia open to the public.

Amongst the other noteworthy buildings is St Mary's Church. Henry VIII’s sister, Mary Tudor, was re-buried this church, after being moved from the Abbey six years after her death.

The town holds an annual festival in May. This includes concerts, plays, dances, and lecturers, culminating in fireworks.

Bury St Edmunds is home to Englands oldest Scout Group, 1st Bury St Edmunds (Mayors Own).

The Town Council election on 3 May 2007 was won by the "Abolish Bury Town Council" party. The party lost its majority following a by-election in June 2007 and, to date, the Town Council is still in existence.

Spurs have won 5-1. I was at Woody's. Life is still good. Work sucks. I love this song.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Two fine pieces of pie.

I have eaten two fine pieces of pie today. Last night I ate at the Gurkha Grill. Life is good.

The first was during my long walk, and the second was at the end of it. I got onto the river behind Tall Trees, and headed for Sale Water Park. The river was high, and full of junk. Ducks struggled to keep swim upstream, and were paddling hard, prow to the flow, just to stay in the same place. The path was muddy, with twigs and branches that had been washed up along it. Jogger after jogger, wet dog after galloping wet dog, I made my way past Chorlton Water Park and Jackson’s Boat. It rained on and off, but never for that long. I thought about sailing, about the job interview, about being in Wellingborough at the weekend. There were some dire sights around by the old school, with the horses’ field by the Nene flooded badly. The Mersey had flooded too. I got onto the Bridgewater canal at Stretford Cemetery and I unwrapped my piece of pork pie.

I walked up the canal, past the Watch House Cruising Club and the Coronation Street houses, and came to some newly built flats that had their own moorings. I wondered how much they might cost, and whether I’d be able to afford them. Onwards, through old industry and through new, past piles of containers five storeys high and dirty old pipes. The canal doesn’t flow. It’s like a huge, long thin pond. Litter floats eerily still, several bottles steady, each at different heights, based on how full they were – as if they were suspended in jelly.

Stretford canal boat yard, originally uploaded by hugovk.

It was much greyer than this. The boat with the red roof had been moored too tightly, and was almost underwater because the canal had risen.

Bridge under Bridgewater canal, originally uploaded by hugovk.

I walked through here too. Everything under this bridge was flooded. I had to edge past on the raised footpath to the right of the canal as you look at the photo.

charlottez, originally uploaded by cosmicsindy.

I didn't meet this young lady by the canal. What a shame!

On I walked, past Old Trafford, Salford Quays, the Ship Canal – I saw a hole next to the footpath, ten feet wide, six feet down to the white water gushing around inside it, a pipe halfway up gushing out brown water, and floating on the surface at least fifteen balls - footballs, basketballs, 99p funballs, old cistern balls from toilets – at least a hundred plastic bottles, and countless chunks of browned polystyrene. To Castlefield, to Love Saves The Day, and on to the next slice of pie. Tudor Pie, ham and chicken, and – for £2.80 – I’m sure it’s organic too. Thanks Hugh!

Ancoats, Strangeways, Mai Bai and Tall Trees saw the rest of the day passed merrily. After the gloom of not getting the job, last night’s Gurkha Grill, long chat with Pippa and baptism of Peep Show really cheered me up. Today it didn’t feel like there was anything on my mind, but I got to do a lot of thinking too. I feel very optimistic. Perhaps it’s endorphins from the exercise. Normandy, Withington, Bury St Edmunds, Melton Mowbray, and Wellingborough: I bet that I could even find five fun things to do in each of these places. I feel a series coming on…

Saturday, 19 January 2008

XKCD and February Third

Tracy comes back from Thailand, Kate comesback from Japan, and Emma too. Nice, isn't it?

Tokyo Nightscape

Tokyo Nightscape, originally uploaded by /\ltus.

HDR Photography kicks ass.


Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Louise says...

"Step 1: Measure rice, one cup per person

Step 2: Put rice in sieve and rinse under cold water

Step 3: Put rice in saucepan

Step 4: Boil kettle and add boiling water to saucepan. 2 and a quarter cups per person

Step 5: Put lid on saucepan

Step 6: Cook on high heat for five minutes

Step 7: Take off the heat, do not remove lid. Leave off the heat with lid on for ten minutes.

Note - in theory this can be longer, if you're not ready with the rest of the meal - but if you leave it too long it could go soft. Best then to take off the lid as then the steam can't keep cooking it.

Step 8: Remove from pan and put on plate. Eat and enjoy.

NB: Cooking rice with coca cola should not be employed using the above instructions. Cooking rice with coca cola should only be undertaken with the immediate supervision of a Colombian.

References available on request."

I love how she's ended the instructions as one might end a CV.

Friday, 11 January 2008


Hofbrauhaus Catastrophe, originally uploaded by Slake B.

You ask, Flickr brings.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

I love Hugh FW

I watch very little television, partly because my irregular weekly routine means I can’t guarantee that I’ll be in on a particular day to see the next episode of a series, and partly because I’m a culture snob who thinks most telly is pants. An exception, for me, is the wonderful Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who never fails to make me smile. I’ve really enjoyed watching his recent series, Hugh’s Chicken Run, in which he tries to change the nation’s attitudes about cheap chicken. Baffled that two chickens can be purchased from Tesco for a fiver, he tries to find out the detail of why they’re so cheap. Of course, they’re battery hens, and intensively farmed, which is why they cost so little. But what does that actually mean?

All of the supermarkets refuse to appear in a filmed interview about chicken. No intensive farm will let him film inside one of their sheds. To understand chicken production, Hugh sets up three different chicken farms: one smallholder-style, on an allotment with a single coop; one larger free-range farm, and; one intensive factory-style farm. Both the free-range and the intensive farms had been set up according to poultry industry guidelines. There isn’t a smallholder industry to speak of, and so no official guidelines exist, but Hugh’s probably the nearest thing there is to an authority on smallholding. The central point is this: all three farms were set up to be as close as was possible to the normal conditions of farms around the country.

I suspect that Hugh’s example of a factory farm was less horrific than its larger cousins. Nonetheless, it was still grim. The floor was rammed with fat birds, waddling a few steps forward to feed, then a few back to sit down again in their own effluent. The hens have nothing to do all day except eat. And worse yet, the lights are left on for twenty-three-and-a-half hours at a time - if the birds think that it’s ‘daytime’ they’ll eat and eat and eat. I think Hugh’s made a difficult moral choice in deciding to publicly undertake a practice that he finds abhorrent in order to expose it. I think he’s made the right choice.

And will it change the eating habits of Axminster or the rest of the wider TV watching audience? I don’t know. But I’ll be buying free-range hereafter. One down…

The Lie of the Land
was also superb.

EDIT: Here are some links to feedback from HFW's TV series. It made me angry when Hugh was driven to swearing in the last episode of the ...Chicken Run. He's so nice that anything that makes him swear must be really infuriating.

Manchester Evening News.

Hugh's Chicken Out Campaign Page

BBC Farmers' World Feedback Podcast

Tuesday, 8 January 2008


I'm planning a holiday, my first in France. I'm going with Pip, sometime in March or April. Bayeux, because it's old, and not too big, and near to the D-Day beaches, the tapestry, Mont St Michel. I'm very excited - I haven't been away for so long!

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Saturday, 5 January 2008

I think the following things are interesting

Old buildings and history

Learning things - new ideas

How things work (gadgets and everyday things)

Making things happen

Scandal and relationships, gossip (not me)

Doing things with friends, dancing

Exploring places, old and new

Cooking new things, like soup

Games, competitions and projects

Arts: music, flm, plays, art, books, gigs

Getting out of breath, sport, walking or otherwise

Vocabulary expansion