Monday, 31 August 2009

Don't be a dick

Browsing webcomics, at Saturday Morning breakfast Cereal, I saw this:

Which made me think of this:

"Don't be a dick" is the fundamental rule of all total social spaces. Every other [Wikipedia] policy for getting along is a special case of it. Although nobody on Wikipedia is empowered to ban or block somebody for being a dick (as this would be an instance of being a dick), it is still a bad idea to be one. So don't do it.

No definition of being a dick has been provided. This is deliberate. If a significant number of reasonable people suggest, whether bluntly or politely, that you are being a dick, the odds are good that you are not entirely in the right.

It's just an opinion, a webcomic, an essay on wikipedia. But I find value in it.

Sunday, 30 August 2009


Excuse the understatement: Costco is a big place. Vast. Easy to lose a hundred pounds in a bulk-buy frenzy. Red wine. Toilet paper. Toothbrushes. Mackerel.

Dunk sent me a picture message. He has the demo for the new Batman game, do I want to come round and see it? Yes, please. I wasn't disappointed: stealth attacks, grappling, detective vision, batarang throwing - it's cool. Excuse the understatement, it's very cool.

Later, we watched The Hurt Locker. No spoilers here. Good film. Watch it, oh loyal army of readers, watch it and enjoy.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Wise words from Tim

“You might not like your job, pal, but you get paid pretty well, and it isn’t that hard – the work I mean. Maybe you should just stick it out.”

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Room of doom

Our new office, in Moss Side, seems grimmer and bleaker each time I visit. The previous occupants were mostly gone this time, and the room was a shell. Wires poked up out of holes in the floor between darker patches of carpet that were once protected by bookcases and cabinets. One lone desk, papers and a diary – open on yesterday’s page – was all that remained.

“That’s _____’s desk,” said Middle Manager, “she really likes it here, so she’s staying as long as possible.”

What was the alternative, I wondered. Mogadishu? Beirut?

With a tape measure in one hand, and a bucket full of grumbles in the other, we sized up our future home. We juggled the three desks in the office we’ve been allocated. Facing inwards? Facing outwards? In a row?

“You’ll need to make room for the fourth desk too,” said our boss as she popped her head round the door, “I think I’m going to get someone else in to help you.” And then, like that – pwoof – she was gone.

Less than a week ago we had a team management meeting. We outlined approaching challenges – meaning that we got told what was going on with the team, and in particular its staffing – and devised strategies to handle service development – meaning that we got told what to do. Not a bean about a new team member. I’m pretty sure that I haven’t missed something that was implied because I asked a direct question during the meeting.

“Will we have any new team members?”

We wouldn’t, my boss had said. Less than a week ago.

Has she changed her mind, and since then decided that, yes, now you mention it, we do need a new team member? Was she suffering a bizarre mental blank at the meeting, and had in fact been planning for another team member all along? Or is she just really bad at telling her team what’s going on?

My colleagues and I looked at each other in disbelief.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Monday, 24 August 2009

The new Arctic Monkeys album

Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not grabs you straightaway. Its sarcastic lyrics charm and amuse, and its short songs are easy fun to dance to. Favourite Worst Nightmare took a little longer to fall in love with, all thundering drums, the soundtrack to dark clouds forming that over time seem to resemble the shapes of faces of people you know. Humbug, which I bought today, seems more like the latter, a grower. A couple of plays in, and some songs stand out already, Crying Lightning, and especially Cornerstone. A couple of the other songs started to tickle my mind second time round… is it going to be another album I love? I’ll let you know.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

You'll never get to heaven in a camper van...

T Shirt: Batman, light blue
Weather: Hot, with light rain later on.

What a relaxing day. Partly out of solidarity for Dunk’s driving, and partly as a result of feeling queasy during the day on Saturday, I decided to stay off the booze all day. My knee hurt a little too, so I planned to spend as much of the day sitting down as possible.

We ran into Miriam and the Padmore party, Evan, Clem and Al at the bank by the main stage. In a tumble of hugs and joy, we sledged down the hillside on our backsides.

The group dynamics of the festival as a whole were strange – the parties that we lounged around with were made up of various friendships, some strong and deep, others mild and frivolous, some overlapping, others independent of one another. I know Thom, who knows Spud, but Spud and I don’t know each other at all. The rules of interrupting a conversation between two of your friends are markedly different to those governing interrupting a conversation between your friend and a stranger. With the former, in general, one would wait until they were done, whereas with the latter, in general, one might interject earlier. This difference was very prominent in the festival environment. I found myself interrupted as the stranger, or interrupted as the friend, on more than one occasion. I’m sure I must have interrupted as the outsider too.

There were so many people there, flowing past, who maybe I’d meet again, or maybe not – Sally Pilkington, Evan, Spud, Cassie. Who knows?

I wasn’t impressed with Trembling Bells, whose vocal gymnastics bored me, but I thought Cranium Pie were ace. I might have gotten over my crush on the She of She Keeps Bees – not quite as charismatic when she’s a bit further away. I thought that the Yellow Moon Band didn’t really get going, a difficult trait to succeed with at the tired end of festivities. Dirty Three were fun, and funny. And Wilco? Wow. Stunning.

Dunk’s endurance drive home started at 12.26, and ended at 4.20. What a hero. We tried to keep him awake with classic rock, volume up LOUD, and with a little rhyming game…

You’ll never get to heaven in baked bean tin…

…because a baked bean tin’s got beans in.

The best of which was

You’ll never get to heaven in a bacon sarnie…

….because a bacon sarnie smells like Arnie

“I’ll be BAC-on.”

Saturday, 22 August 2009

"Plus two man points for the 'tache"

Me: "Will you wear this moustache all day if I pay you a pound?"
Kate: "Yes."

T-shirt: Belle and Sebastian, navy blue
Weather: Gorgeous sunshine

A sad, sad start to the day: someone saw Dunk's sign offering his van for sale, and was interested. Dunk was too. So it goes, but what a shame to lose it. Fingers crossed it'll fall through and Dunk will keep the van.

Kate's moustache turned heads at every step. Brilliant, I thought, but the attention started to piss her off. She, Megan and I listened to John Robb at the literature tent, talking about Manchester music, The Ha├žienda, and late-nigth parties in Hulme. Relaxing in the sunshine is the best way to keep tired hangovers at bay. I didn't really concentrate during Mississippi Witch. As we left the Green Man Pub, I think I saw Butt Slut Sophie, who I haven't spoken to since before I started this blog. An old friend and more recently an adversary. "Please don't bump into her again," I prayed, "please, please, please!" I loved Jonny's simple, kid-friendly psych-folk-pop. We ran into Kate's friend Nic, who was very excited about Jarvis.

Kate and I went back to the van to prepare a cup-a-soup. We had peanut butter sandwiches, but it wasn't enough, so I popped off to the loo whilst some water boiled for noodles. I got back I sat down to choose a Pot Noodle.
OMG! What the fu... Dunk had hidden himself under a duvet, and when I got back, he jumped out and screamed. I nearly died with fright. Hehehehehehe.

Later on I made up for not seeing much of Vetiver in Dulcimer that time by really enjoying their set. I thought Andrew Bird was amazing. By the time Jarvis came on I was really very drunk, and remembered very little of what he sang. We sat behind a tree, with Kate and Dunk out of the eyeline of the stage. I tried to mime some of his moves, but it was a poor description of the shadows on the wall of the cave by one of the chained to the other chained. Meh.

We danced at the Far Out stage, and were heading home, when we came across a drunk boy puking. What would you do? We took him to the pub.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Green Man, day 1

T-shirt: The Bluetones, baseball style.
Weather: Splendid, after a five-minute shower early on.

A cup of tea should start every day, and in the van, you can. Heavenly. Al and Ben P popped by first thing in the morning - they hadn't slept from the night before, and both looked pretty wrecked. Al more so. I gave him a Cadbury's Caramel and some Pom-Bears. I hope it helped. We went up to the arena, with Ryan stopping off for one his many vegan bacon rolls at Tea and Toast. Blatantly hitting onto a waitress, I reckon.

We Aeronaughts opened the festival. Dunk and Kate weren't that impressed, but I quite liked them. They're a female backing vocalist - to even out the harmonies - and a guitar technician - to cut down on the time spent tuning up (and talking rubbish) between songs - away from being pretty good. I loved Beth Jeans Houghton and Errors, and Rocky Erickson was exactly the kind of bluesy rock that pushes all my buttons. I popped off to collect Matt, Chaw and Megan, then hurried back for Animal Collective. I wish I hadn't bothered. Shit Collective more like.

As they were finishing, I turned around to Paul Collins to share my disgruntlement with their shitness, and saw him down on one knee proposing to his girlfriend. She said "yes." I clapped. The whole crowd clapped for the band, but I pretended they were clapping for Paul and Rosie.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Basketbawful-ly good, as it happens.

Considering that I don't give two hoots about basketball, I'm really enjoying reading Basketbawful, especially the Livin' Large section, which details the university year that our narrator, Matt, spent rooming with a basketball 'scholar' from Holland, Mat. It's a window on a whole other world, and it's very sharply written: the perfect ingredients for a great blog. Not only this, but it's tender too Check this.

I know it's been my tendency to ridicule the feelings I had for Aimee and the way I behaved while in the throes of first love, so I should also point out that that was the happiest I had ever been in my life to that point. In fact, I had prior to that never believed I could be so happy. So while my sappiness was embarrassingly sappy, it was the best and most honest emotion my 18-year-old self had ever felt. Life is tough. People should always be grateful for whatever euphoric happiness they can find. And I'm happy I got to experience the crazy.

What hooked me in, most of all, is that he's a Meat Loaf fan too. We're a rare and special breed.

However, a fight almost broke out when we were cruising around in Greg's car, a sweet-ass 1957 Chevy Impala. Meat Loaf's "Paradise By The Dashboard Lights" came on, and we all sung it together up until the woman's part. At which point Gauvin continued singing. By the time Gauvin belted out, "would you take me away, will you make me your wife," Greg was freaking out.


Gauvin realized his faux pas but refused to back down. "Whatever. I can sing whatever part I want."

Greg's eyes bulged. "THE GIRL'S PART? SERIOUSLY?!"

Great stuff.

I went out for a short, fast ride down to the Mersey, then along the TPT. It was a glorious evening, and I was riding right into the falling sun. I love my bike so much. Not so good, though, was that I caught another bloody snakebite puncture in a rough patch, and had to push back from the Bridgewater Canal. Punctures bum me out big style. I wonder how much a cycle pressure gauge costs. Time to get one maybe?


Who wants to ride their bike along the Mersey with me? From here to Liverpool? Anybody...?

“Smile ‘em to death”

My closest colleague has been increasingly surly of late. By closest, I mean geographically and professionally, rather than personally; I’m not really friends with any of the people I work with. For the last few weeks, her morning demeanour has been icy. No greeting to start the day, no questions about how my weekend was (on a Monday), or what I got up to last night (for the rest of the week), or what my plans for the weekend might be (on a Friday).

“Smile ‘em to death,” has been my approach so far. Try to be chirpy, keen, energetic, and happy. Face frowns and glares with smiles and wait for the frost to thaw. Assume good faith. Pay it forward. Be positive.

My approach has achieved neither of its aims: I’ve not thawed my colleagues frosty attitudes; nor has acting in accordance with my values offered the route to success. The former is disappointing, the latter especially so: to what extent should I compromise to get by.

Not that it’s affecting my work. Just how happy I am at work. Is happiness important? It’s been that long since I was happy at work that I really can’t tell.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Liz and Liz

Liz B, my first ever girlfriend, got married yesterday. I just saw the photos on Facebook. It made me think it'd be a good idea to tell Liz S, my last girlfriend, that there are no hard feelings on my part. I like the idea that you can be friends with your exes.

I'm only really friends with one of them though.

So it goes.

Back in the saddle

Saturday, 15 August 2009

I went to Blackpool, and it was shit.

Rather than go to the pub with Dunk and Ryan last night, I opted to get an early night and get off to Blackpool first thing.

"Why are you going to Blackpool? It's horrible."

My colleagues, my friends and my housemates all asked the same question. I didn't know what the answer was. I'd never been. Perhaps that was it. What could be nicer than a sunny August day by the sea?

I didn't get a sunny August day by the sea though. I got cold, heavy rain. I made a mistake - I made several, as it happens, but this was a big one - by getting out of the train a stop early for "a quick look at the Pleasure Beach." What looked like light drizzle from inside the train was far from that. Horrible icy rain. I put on my jumper, but it didn't make much difference. Within fifteen minutes I was soaked. Rain had soaked through my cargo shorts, through my underpants, through my jumper, and through my bag. My trainers sloshed with every step I took. I ducked into an arcade and tried to use my phone's GPS to find my way. My phone was wet. My beautiful new phone. Oh fuck. Should I continue to wander blindly around town, and get wet, or try to dry off in the amusements? What a predicament. Water dripped from my elbows. I saw a TK Maxx sign, and decided to head into the shopping centre. I headed for the toilets to try to dry off a bit. Not good. I put my phone in the path of the hand dryer and left it there. When it stopped, I put the phone back underneath. Three times. Four times. The dryer shorted out. I moved onto the next one for more of the same. Still no joy. Shit. I was sort of dry from the wrist down now, having tried to rescue my phone. I tramped to Primark, and bought a new t-shirt and a hoody to wear to keep me warm. I asked for a plastic bag, to transplant my wet gear into. "We only do paper I'm afraid mate," he said, "a bit daft for somewhere as wet as Blackpool, eh?" Very daft, I thought. "Thank you," I said. Back to the toilets to change out of my dripping uppers and into the new gear. My mood still stank, thinking of my phone. My underwear was still wet too. I wanted to go home. Where was the bloody train station?

I stepped out of the shopping centre to glorious sunshine.

It was half twelve. If I'd have gone to the pub with Dunk and Ryan last night, I would be arriving around now. So it goes. I got on the train.

Friday, 14 August 2009

"Today I didn't even have to use my AK"

Durex gave me a lift to Bolton in the morning - I was off to get my stitches out. Finally! An end to all this root canal rubbish! Lucinda, as always, was brilliant. I'm hoping I don't have to go and see her again - that my teeth won't cause me any more problems - but at the same time I was a little sad at the thought of not seeing her again. So it goes, I suppose.

Back to work, and - luckily - my idiotic transgression from yesterday seems to have borne none of the foul fruit it could have. I must give the impression that I'm expecting a gun rack shipment via eBay. I'm glad it was kicked to the kerb, and that it doesn't looks like there'll be any kind of awkward meetup as a consequence of my error. Phew, what a relief! Case closed!

I bought Persepolis for Tracy at lunchtime - a birthday gift. I called her - and she was just around the corner in town. Brilliant! As I headed round to meet her, I strolled past Vicky and her David. I'd finished on the phone, but I kept it by my ear. Case closed, I'd said, so let's leave it that way. Tracy was very pleased with the book. It was lovely to see her.

I met the casual sex girl from work for Friday pint after work club - just the pair of us, as usual. After a bit of a catch up - we hadn't hung out since she and I had a bit of a to-do about her wanting to date me - her ex showed up. The poor lad is taking their recent break-up pretty badly, and now he's been made redundant. He was only dumped by her a couple of months ago. We left the Lass to hide out from him in Odder. Halfway down our next pint, he showed up there too. Oh dear! So we turned around and scooted into the Thirsty Scholar. He didn't find us. I enjoyed re-acquainting myself with her on entirely non-romantic, non-sexual terms. Win!

On the bus home, I leafed through the new Economist, a Friday pleasure like no other. China's trade in South America, US air-bases in Columbia - all pretty standard (interesting, but dense) Economist fare. The obituary was for Benson, a carp, and was exquisitely written.

PETERBOROUGH, in the English Midlands, is a red-brick town, best known as the midway point on the line between King’s Cross and York. But from the bottom of Kingfisher Lake, just outside it, urban toil seems far away. There, all is most delightful silt and slime. A push of your probing nose sends up puffs and clouds of fine mud through the water. A riff of bubbles rises, silvery, towards the surface. The green reeds quiver, and sunlight ripples down almost to the depths where you are lurking, plump and still.

Nothing I read about Michael Jackson was as eloquent. What a fish, and - oh my! - what a newspaper!

When I got home, Kate was watching TV, but with no real purpose. QI wasn't on, nor was Jonathan Ross. I flicked a bit, and found something about allotments. "Oh wow," said Kate as she came back into the room, "this was the film that I worked on!" It was called Grow Your Own, and I thought it was pretty good. Kate was full of little nuggets about what she'd done during individual scenes. It was like having a director's commentary, only with the costume department. I only wish I'd seen it all.

All in all, I have to say, today was a good day.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Test and spite

Today I was faced with a test of my resolve. I was presented with an opportunity to do nothing, which would have been the correct and strong option, or to do something, which was the wrong and weak option. I did something. I failed.

I was furious. I wanted to send Arnie back in time to kill my mum before I was born, such was my shame. Out of anger at my own weakness, I texted the girl from across the park and told her that I didn't want to see her again. Out of anger, and out of spite. I didn't feel better for long. But I did feel better.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Shelf-ish cnut

My terrible long meeting today, and the dread it filled me with, were washed away when I saw this picture.

It's from Gizmondo, and from Pervy. Thanks both.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

I will be your Ferdinand and you my wayward girl

Hungover, dazed, tired, I schlepped to West Didsbury to say goodbye to Helen before she moves to London. She leaves next week. It all came round quite quickly, but with her new high-flying job, and her lover in the south, it was bound to happen. I'll miss her.

I made it home for about 9.30. Kate was waiting for Spielberg's Munich to start. Dunk was back unexpectedly early from his travels, looking brown and rested. We chatted.

KATE: So Dunk, we did the quiz at Oddest last week, and guess what the theme was?
DAVE: Err...
DUNK: Was it Arnie? Dave texted me.
KATE: Dave!
DAVE: Sorry.
DUNK: Guess who I saw in Monte Carlo?
DUNK: Rio Ferdinand

Friday, 7 August 2009

I don't like cricket...

...not enough to endure the battering that was day one of the fourth test. instead Woody, Ollie and I sat drinking beers in the sunshine and shooting the shit. We talked about Ben's wedding, about Bettsy's big day, about losing friends over time, about the Butt Slut backstory. We ate spag bol and listened as the Test seemed to end before it had even got started.

For all their machismo, it was very sweet to listen to Ollie and Tom describe the first time that they told their girlfriends, "I love you." Bless em!

Thursday, 6 August 2009

By not paying her.

Odd day. I felt on a massive downer for most of it, and I’m not sure why. Hormones maybe? Do men get moods based on hormones? Probably. I met Tracy for lunch, and was a bit quiet. She mentioned it, and I said that nothing was wrong. Nothing was, really, nothing specific anyway. Nothing I could put my finger on.

In the afternoon, I checked out Ben’s wedding website. I’ve not been invited. Until now, I’d thought that was because the wedding was a long way off. Turns out I was wrong, it’s in four weeks. Guess I’m not on the list. So it goes. Lewis called as I was trying to find a present for Emma. He told me not to worry about the wedding invite. I wasn’t worried, just surprised. We talked about how strange it is that Ben’s getting married in the church that held my friend Sam’s funeral back in 2000. It’s a beautiful place.

I wasn’t looking forward to birthday drinks at Emma’s, mostly because of my foul mood. A quick solo pint loosened me up, I hoped, and I trudged around the corner. Misty made me laugh. He’s such a decent bloke. Lorraine, back from Australia, barely said a word to me all evening. I wasn’t asking her many questions either. So it goes.

I felt a bit teary in the cab. Hormones? Yes, I think so.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

The Green Man party line-up

looks like this:

Culture Thom
Ali Danesh
Ed Chemical?
Paul Collins + some
Saxaphone Kate
Nic from Oddest + some
Sionedd + some

…and I think there are a couple of bands on too.