Monday, December 26, 2005

Merry Christmas all

By the way it's very remiss of me, but have a very happy Christmas one and all, probably won't post for a few days so have a very lovely New Year as well

Sunday, December 25, 2005

My perfect son

OK. I know I know I'm biased, but he gave us one of those heart in the mouth moments this morning. As we suspected we'd bought too many presents (must remember to have the same conversation next year than completely ignore it when we go shopping). We had got half way through opening and he was bored and just wanted to play. He was sat on the other side of the room playing with a fork lift truck, we were chatting and then completely out of the blue he raised his head from the truck and exclaimed 'Best thing in the whole wide world'. Anyway, once we'd wiped the tears from our eyes we had the most lovely day and he was extraordinarly well behaved considering how dull 12 adults sitting having dinner for 3 hours must be, when you have mountains of presents to play with.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Trouble with Christmas dinner?

I'm taking my turn to be santa. If you're worrying about the roast this Christmas stop just take a look at roast rage a very useful site set up by the good people at the English Beef and Lamb Executive. It answers all your roast related worries.

Ooooo shiny

I've got a new digital camera, hoorah. I've never had one before. The business has one, but designers and people like that use it. It's so easy to operate. I'd worked the whole thing out in 20 minutes and here's my first 3 photos.

I really hope Nic doesn't see this because she'll kill me, she'd just got out of the shower this morning, I like the sentimentality of it though.

A picture of me. Apologies for the nose, it's a family thing.

The boy they call Eben.

I can't wait until Christmas day. I think I may be going photo crazy. Then we're off to Grenada on the 27th so I may be having to take my laptop to download pictures to. (That's my excuse anyway). I've had to battle with Nic to take my BlackBerry with me the laptop may be a step too far.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Reducing 16-19 year old drop out rates

It is 9 months since Gordon Brown announced in the budget speech his plans to erradicate the education drop-out out rates for 16-19 year olds. Obviously, this involves not just academic but also vocational courses. At the time he said the main reason for this was to compete on a level playing field with the emergent economies of China and India.

On the 14th December the DOE produced a 10-year timetable to phase in 14 new vocational diplomas that aims at reducing drop out rates from 25% to 10%.

Ignoring the fact that this doesn't actually mirror Gordon Brown's actual statement in the budget my main worry is funding. Don't get me wrong I'm very much in support of the broad ideal, but I do have some worries.In the 100 page document produced by the DOE, there is no mention of the funding this is going to require to fully implement, which worries me greatly.

The subject marries two of my pet subjects quite effectively. The first is to do with the reduction in the number of vocational apprenticeships available and the second is children's engagement with the education system.


Apprenticeships were the standard way in which many young men would learn a manual skilled trade until relatively recently. My father in law did a 6 year engineering apprenticeship in Liverpool in the 60s. He became a very highly qualified heating engineer and is now an engineering project manager specialising in the implemetation and fitting of cooling clean air systems in operating theatres. He is now required to attend around 3 week long 'refresher courses' to relearn skills that are innate as a result of his apprenticeship. However, he has to have these certificates to hit all the health and safety qualifications for the job. It is estimated that the refresher courses cost his company around £11,000 once you have calculated course cost, admin cost and the cost of replacing him for the week. He believes that there would be no need to do these courses if long-term apprenticeships were still standard within professions. However, short termism means that apprenticeships are breaking down as the best are poached straight out of the system.

The disappearance of the apprenticeship has also had another more hidden but just as devastating social impact in my opinion. Stephen Biddulph in his book 'Raising Boys' suggests that one of the key factors in the breakdown of discipline in boys is the reduction in extra-familial role models. His argument is based on the fact that as the global economy progresses we have become increasingly geographically isolated from our extended family and the support that they provide, but also increased working hours mean that care-givers are out of the home for longer. The apprenticeship however, provided a very important 3rd party role model at a time when boys could traditionally come off the rails. This is now missing and I think is a major factor in some of the apathy that has crept in due to a missing work ethic and a lack of direction. Although I welcome more focus on vocational courses for the non-academically inclined I can't see vocational courses providing the same level of training and one to one mentoring that occurred in the traditional apprenticeship.

My second point addresses the funding of these proposals. We are currently one of only 3 countries in Europe that send out children to school at 4/5 years old. The vast majority send their children a year later. At 4/5 children (and boys in particular) have been proved to have not developed the ability to concentrate for the requisite amount of time for structured learning to really be of the gretaest benefit. It often means that Year 1 primary teachers are trying to manage the needs of individuals within their class who are suffering from this lack of attention and as a result are struggling to teach the whole class. In my opinion the most important function of Year 1 is to instil a love of learning as it is this that will sutain a child right through to graduation. If a teacher is not able to do that because they are trying to keep control of the class then you can lose children even before they've started. For this reason I'm a huge advocate of moving the starting age by 1 year, this would not only solve some of the engagement issues but also provide some of the budget required to support the DOE's new initiative.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Snow Bear's cave

One of the unexpected pleasures of having Eben is discovering children's books. There are some absolutely amazing children's books out there. Fabulously illustrated and very entertaining, I've come to the conclusion that it must be one of the hardest forms of writing, because it has to be so concise, so as small minds don't wander (and that's just me) but also engaging and with a rollicking story.

Anyway, Eben's current favourite book inspired me on Nic's pressie from Eben and we've spent the afternoon making Snowbear's cave. It's a funny one, I'm lucky to have so much time with Ebs I see him for a couple of hours in the morning and then an hour in the evening - I have friends who basically reacquaint themselves with their children at the weekend - but I tend to read with him or play cars or bricks or whatever and then at weekends we're out. However, there are loads of things that Nicky does with him that I don't get the opportunity to see. She bakes a lot, paints, goes to music classess and minigym all of which I never see, but get reports back from. So it was really lovely to spend the afternoon sitting with him and making Snowbear's cave. We hopped over to the park to collect twigs and little flowers and berries and then I spent most of the afternoon trying 50 different methods of distraction to stop him eating the glue, spraying silver paint in his eyes and throwing glitter all over the house, but we've got our picture all ready and hidden. All I have to do now is avoid Ebs blurting out what we've done all day, which I'm not sure I'll get away with.

Party strategy

We've got 10 for friends Christmas lunch tomorrow (plus 4 under 3s) it's a tradition we've upheld for the past 8 years. However 10 people is a nightmare I've come to the conclusion it's the worst possible number, especially with the amount of little people around. Starts at 2pm will meander until whenever. At present we don't know whether we're putting 3 couples up and 3 children or none or 1 or 2. So we're having to make up 3 beds which means washing all the sheets and then 2pm doesn't suit everyone because of baby feeds, football commitments and on and on and on.

And these are our closaest friends. I've come to the conclusion that you either go easy and have 6 or you just say fuck it and invite 100. Either way it's easier. 6 people and you cater for 3 variables. 100 peole who cares you say the date and time and if they can turn up then great if not well who cares there are another 99 who will.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Oh God, Christmas cards

It doesn't matter how much you gee yourself up for them does it, they're always the most boring and frustrating things to write.

Last night Nic and I bought the tree and put it up, made chilli con carne (total comfort food), watched Harry Met Sally (best Christmas movie ever), but despite that the Christmas spirit has ebbed out of us after 5 written cards each. Granted they were the most difficult overseas ones, so you need to condense a year in to a short, snappy, unsmug and interesting 250 words, but even so. Over the next 3 nights we've got Big, Uncle Buck and It's a Wonderful life to sustain us and keep us cheery.

Tonight - cards to relatives you don't really like, but need to stay on the right side of. Aaaaarrrggghh.


Well no, it turns out it wasn't. I woke up with a start at 6.04 (digital clock) this morning because the bed shook. My immediate thought was earthquake and then I thought that a car had crashed in to the house (I was half asleep, you get paranoid).

When Nic woke up I told her I thought I felt an earthquake and she made some lame joke about nothing happening for her (haha), and I made up a lie about Britain suffering the most earthquakes of anywhere in the world, which she ignored. I don't know why I do the pointless lies thing I really don't, (Note to self; post something about pointless lies phenomenon) I suppose I find it amusing.

Anyway, at breakfast, I switched on the radio and it turns out there was an oil refinery explosion at the exact time I woke up. But it's in bleeding Hemel Hempstead which is about 30 miles away. Can this be right? Well by the looks of things it could be. It must have been huge.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Tunes don't get much bigger than this

This is when I wish I still went clubbing. This is a real 2am moment. Click on the MP3 icon for a minute of pure unadulterated pleasure

Great useless fact

Courtesy of Popbitch

The cost of pixelating-out the Crazy Frog's animated penis from the last video - £3,500.

I'll probably be back

I think I'll probably return to the 5 live message board, but I'm just a bit weary. It really is the same arguments endlessly. I think I'll create a new identity and creep back in. It'll be interesting to see whether I get on with the same bunch of people again. It'll be an interesting experiment actually.

The creeping erosion of democracy

Yesterday, Maya Evans was the first person to be found guilty under section 132 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (SOCPA) legislation designed to create an exclusion zone around Parliament Square. This zone covers roughly a KM radius from the Houses of Parliament.

It was brought in following the Countryside protest and the subsequent invasion of the commons by Otis Ferry and 8 other hunt protesters, however it was widely speculated that it provided a convenient way of removing Brian Haw who's anti-Iraq protest directly outside the Commons in Parliament Square has proved an embarassing thorn in the government's side for years. What was overlooked was that this act could never be enforced against Mr Haw as his protest began before April 1st 2005 when the act came in and his protest has been continuous since before the start of the the Gulf war.

It would appear that the first casualty therefore, was a slightly lower profile protester. Maya Evans who was found guilty of reading out the names of 97 British soldiers killed in Iraq. This was deemed under the new legislation an 'unauthorised protest'.

This legislation appears to have effectively removed the right to free protest, something that has been part of the rights of all British citizens for centuries.

The government would argue that the act makes provision for protest. If you apply to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner at least 6 days in advance or, if not "reasonably practicable", 24 hours in advance, permission must be granted. However the Commissioner has it in his power to impose conditions on the protest such as:

- When and where it can take place
- How long it can last
- How many people can attend
- How much noise can be made
- The number and size of banners and placards used

These conditions can effectively be used to completely rule out any protest that the government would feel uncomfortable.

There are thought to be 21 more people awaiting trial (in January) on charges brought under this new legislation.

This was brought in under the guise of anti-terror legislation, my personal perspective is that it's entirely protectionist and allows government to repel any protest it finds unpallettable. I find it disquieting that this type of legislation can slip through almost unnoticed, these type of laws are the thin end of the wedge.

Monday, December 05, 2005

With thanks to 'Lost in Space'

I'm not a big fan of Lost in Space's views, but he does at least argue constructively, which I have respect for and rarely resorts to the attached set of guidelines which he posted on the boards and cut from Holy Smoke. and made me laugh. All you Five Live UK message board junkies out there will recognise the following:

1) Regardless of the issue ---- make sure you bring up your views on abortion, capital punishment, Christianity, and the political party you least like, regularly. Make sure your use the terms "wrong", "evil", "sinful" and "false" in describing views that differ from your particular beliefs. Try to work in the terms "blinded" or "deluded".

2) Depending on YOUR orientation refer to your opponents in arguments (or debates that hold the promise of becoming arguments) as facists or communists as often as possible. Suggest that their views parallel those held in Nazi Germany or of Stalinist USSR at least once.

3) Point out the shortcomings of the opposite gender. Using tasteless jokes that you ascribe to others is a favorite ploy. If your opponent is of the same sex ---- cast doubt on their sexual orientation.

4) When you've managed to get a good heated exchange going try to score points by using a word that will drive your opponent to the dictionary. Mock any attempts on their part to do the same. If possible humiliate them and react to attacks on your arguments with ironic references to misspellings, ill-conceived sentence construction, or inappropriate word usage.

5) If you make an error, never apologize. Blame it on a technical difficulty or on your opponent's mischaracterization of your argument.

6) When inspired, make sure you word your attacks and counterattacks so that you leave no opening for your adversary to capitulate to your view except in disgrace. Try to make certain that every avenue of response is a path of shame. Phrases like "only a idiot or a scumbag would argue that ..." are very helpful.

7) If you start to slip in an argument attack the person. It's most helpful to know something personal about them so that your ad hominems point out both academic/professional defects and their deficiencies as a human.

8) If someone levels an attack upon you, respond that in their reliance on ad hominem attacks the argument has deteriorated to a level that no longer warrants your participation. This can be a winning blow if played properly. Be subtle here, and clever; try to convey the sense of your opponent as dim-witted, ethically degenerate, desperate, and outmanuevered by your overwhelming intellectual superiority. The real joy here is that you can neatly do away with any respect due your opponent, slander his character, lacerate his pride, and, if done properly and with elan, simultaneously represent yourself as a man or woman whose ethics and moral sensitivity make it impossible for you to do what you just did. This one is a real gem -- and when executed gracefully -- really an art form.

8) When you face a loss, construct a "straw man" argument either by taking your opponets words out of context or by changing the issue. Never lose ---- change the issue. If your opponent has the facts on thier side, argue that facts don't constitute scholarship and understanding, and might even be a sign that one has not yet come to the level of understanding at all. Claim that computers store facts and that real scholarship is the sign of being able to understand and seeing the deeper connections.

9) Remember that you are always right. No matter what forces are marshalled against you, no matter how reasonable, humble, or generous, don't give an inch, don't be swayed. You are always right. It's the other side that caused this ruckus and keeps it going.

10) Always insist on the last word. The only honorable finish is unconditional capitulation by your adversaries or their defeated silence.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Mr. Alexander Coe - I bow down before thee

It just struck me. I've been blogging for a couple of months now and I haven't made one single entry about dance music.

So rather than a general ramble I'm going to concentrate on 'the man like'. It was a title supposedly given to Alexander Coe otherwise known as the godlike DJ Sasha by Dom Phillips general scene guru and one of the first staff writers on Mixmag. The reason for it is relatively self explanatory. There's no one else like Sasha, he is like no one else, he is the 'the man like Sasha'.

I first saw him play when he was doing a residency at the legendary night Venus in Nottingham in 1992. It only ran for about a year or two, but people still namecheck it as one of the best club nights to ever go off. In reality the club only took around 400 or 500 of the coolest faces in the East Midlands so very few would have ever got the opportunity to go and sample the atmosphere.

I was 19 at the time and bang in to my music across the whole spectrum. At the time having such catholic tastes was pretty unusual, because the indie kids and the ravers just didn't see eye to eye. It wasn't until The Chems in the mid-90s that things really started to crossover.

But at Venus that night Sasha changed my entire relationship with music and made it part of my soul. Rave had always been about mentalism to an extent, but he played tracks that were completely different. He was playing some really deep Northern European stuff, Dutch and German uplifting trance and progressive house that I just hadn't heard before and the tracks aside (that were amazing by the way) he did that thing that people go on about 'taking you on a journey'. If there was one critiicism of raves it was that each track demanded your attention in a different way, it stomped. This stuff just held your hand and casually showed you the sights. And fuck me, there were some sights.

I guess he was the first superstar DJ along with Oakey, but without denigrating Paul Oakenfold he was Blur to Oakey's Oasis and I always liked Blur more it was that bit more sophisticated.

I've seen Sasha many many times and some, nee all my best clubbing memories have involved him. There was the night that he flew in on Concorde for a gig at Homelands, from having played at Twilo in New York - where along with John Digweed he was the toast of the US - and BA had fucked up and lost his records. So he had to borrow Nick Warren's records and play a 2 hour set of white labels he'd never heard before and he just nailed the crowd. I think there was an awful lot of Way Out West stuff in there which is Warren's production name so he got a virtual 2 hour Sasha showcase. Not that Nick Warren really needs showcasing.

But the other memory was of me and Nicky going out, just the 2 of us, because we found out at short notice he was playing at Fabric. The place is ubercool still, but this was only about 3 months after it had opened and the place was ice chilled. We'd been playing his Global Underground Ibiza GU13 mix at home for about 5 months and we were ridiculously excited. Anyway, we got in there around 10.45 and to our surprise he actually came on at about 11.30 when we weren't really expecting him for about another 3 hours mand we were right in front of the DJ Box. The DJ box is a funny old thing and it can take away alot of the intimacy, but at Fabric in the back room it's right on the floor so you can look straight in to the DJs eyes. Add to that, that they have bass speakers in the floor, so you get the bass literally from the ground up and it makes for a really full on sensory overload. He played for 8 hours and when you looked at him, he was concentrating like his life depended on it, checking everything the crowd was doing. Neither Nicky or I left the dancefloor once I swear. We ponced water off anyone that we could and just kept going and then when he wound up at 7am we felt like we were on a cloud. I have never had a period of time go so fast in my entire life it was extraordinary and we ended up bouncing out and getting the tube home and sat in our front room for the whole of the rest of the day just blissful.

So Mr Coe if you ever read this, which I'd love to think you would but of course you won't. Thank you for teaching me how to love music in a completly different way. You have made me happier than any other man I can think off. Hats off to you sir.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Parenting by numbers

This morning I finally understood why it's important for a 2 year old to have a routine. It's nothing to do with them. It's for when you've drunk gallons of beer the night before and you have to get up and deal with them at 6.45 in the morning.

Pick him up 2 3

Let him turn the light on 2 3

Take him downstairs, sit on the counter 2 3

Milk out, in cup 2 3

'Daddy clear the dishwasher'

'Thank you son, I forgot that'

Empty dishwasher 2 3

'Daddy make tea'

'Ah yes, thank you Ebs'

You get the picture. Thank God for routine. He'd never have been dressed, or fed if he hadn't reminded me at every step. God I'm hung over.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Should have been Cook

Can't help thinking that it should have been spotty teenager Cook taking the field for England instead of Collingwood tomorrow. It's a real shift about to accomodate PC and he just doesn't feel like a 4 to me. Cook would have been an ideal slot in for Strauss and Derek Randall the Bedford School coach has said consistently that Cook steps up to the big occassion wonderfully well.

Having said all that I wouldn't want to go against Fletcher and Vaughan, no one can say they don't know what they're doing.

Blog hijacking

Heard a very interesting piece on the Julian Worricker show yesterday. I like Worricker, but don't really get to listen to him that often, as we're normally off out doing something on a Sunday.

Anyway, he had what I suppose you'd call a Sunday review section with 3 guests, none of whose names I caught (jesus this is flimsy isn't it - my friend knew this bloke down a pub, who had a mate...). Cough. start again. Worriker had Tim Worstall on, author of '2005 Blogged: Dispatches from the Blogosphere'. Basically he's charted UK blogs through the year chronologically event by event. It's interesting enough, despite the fact - as someone pointed out - a book seems like an odd medium to conduct his review.

What really pissed me off though was the sniffy journalistic discussion that went on afterwards. It basically took the line - 'oh, well it's all very well these bloggers with their news sites, but you have to realise that it's completely unverified opinion, no one cross-checks the facts.' then there was the tangent 'oh and of course there's an awful lot of flim flam (paraphrased)'

Well fuck you, whoever you ivory tower teeterers were:

First - no one thinks that one source of info. is necessarily the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The reason however that we're here is that we can post what we like, at our own risk and if people choose to come and read, then they can believe what they want to. We know we're not immune to libel laws. In short we're not fucking stupid, how dare you treat us as if you are the media gods.

Second - not all of us are frustrated journalists. I'm not going to be restricted by some sort of amateur journalistic integrity. I'll carry on with the flim-flam and every once in a while I'll post something serious. And guess what it'll be my opinion and whoever comes to read it will take it to be that (I hope).

So on that note as a little test. Can I ask anyone who reads this to go out and punch the next person they see. Please report back, I'm interested to find out if I really do have a cultish following of drones.

Friday, November 25, 2005

How many bands can you spot?

This is quality. Click on the picture to enlarge.

Be warned however once you start you will be there for about half an hour.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

More Freddie worship

Sorry another gratuitous freddie post. The man is on fire. 2 in 2 balls to put england back in the 2nd test something that was completely improbable at the start of the days play

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Aaaaaahhhh sleeeeeeeeppp!!

Well to everyone who gave me advice last week, we seem to have cracked it - how do you touch wood on line? - Ebs has now gone down at 7.30 and woken at somewhere between 6.45 and 6.55 for the last 2 mornings and the 2 before that he'd woken at 6 but one visit to his bedroom and he was back down for an hour.

Funnily enough we're all in a better mood.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Never trust old people

I was reminded of a lovely family story over the weekend. My mother-in-law has a friend who told it.

Her family were all round for Sunday dinner a few years back and she was cooking a ham. As she transferred the meat to the roasting tin, she cut the end of it off and threw it in the bin.

Once it was in the oven, her daughter asked 'Mum why do you always cut the end off the ham?'. To which she replied 'Errrr, I don't know, Mum always used to'. Her mother was in the next room so she and her daughter asked her mother, but her mother had no idea either 'However' she remarked 'my mother used to do it'.

Now great grandma was dead however, the family line lived on in the form of her younger sister, my mother-in-law's friend's great aunt. So when my mother-in law's friend's, mother saw her aunt she asked 'You know Mum used to cut the end off the ham when she cooked it. Do you know why she did it?'. 'Yes dear' replied the elderly relative 'it would never fit in the pan'

So there you go. The moral is:

Never trust your elders it could result in years of wasted ham.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Open the box

A friend mailed me this link last night. Basically you click on the link and then type in whatever artist or music you like and it will go and search out a suitable internet station for you. Absolutely magic.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Ooooooo tired!!

4 days in to sleep training. Pheewph. Not in the evening. Eben goes out like a light at night now, but he's started waking at between 4.30 and 5.30 in the morning. We made a rod for our own back by bringing him in to bed with us for the first couple of weeks. As an excuse Nic's exhausted with the pregnancy and has had a sinus infection that she can't treat with antibiotic's so for the extra couple of hurs we got it seemed worth it.

But, on Monday morning we took the plunge. Controlled crying. Go in after 5 minutes, then 10, then 15 etc. Monday went on for 2 1/2 hours, with everything thrown at us. Throwing bedding out of bed, saying he wanted milk, plaintive crys of Mummy and Daddy.

There's something about your own child's crying that is designed to tug at the core of your soul. I'm not so bad although I do count the minutes. Nic though finds it complete torture. With any luck we'll get him to fall back and start sleeping through till 6.30-7, he definitely needs it he's knackered when we finally get him up.

We have everything crossed.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Cor it's good today

Tresco 135 NO.

England close Day 2 of 1st test in Pakistan on 253 for 3 trailing by 24 runs

Flintoff is a God yet again 4 for 68, Harmy chips in with 3 for 37 and Hoggy 2 for 55

Owen scores another 2 against Argentina in 3-2 win in Geneva

Rooney scores opener - this boy is a legend already. World Cup 2006 could be his

Big Ben Cohen scores in typical style on come back to England set-up. England grind out a 26-16 win.

Prediction for February 2007.

England complete trouncing of Aussies in their backyard to retain Ashes and climb to No. 1 in world rankings. England hold World Cups in both Rugby and football. Oh yeah and the Aussies swimming team collapses under the supreme power of the GB team.

Friday, November 11, 2005

The anonymous Google illustrator

Today Google had a great logo illustration. The 'l' was replaced with a remembrance poppy. I've often wondered about the Google illustrator. His or her artwork is probably seen by 10s of millions of people on the day however it goes completely uncredited. Anyway Google have an archive for all the previous holiday illustrations. Some are brilliant.

Personally I really like the WaterAid one from March 22nd 2005, partly because I think it's such a fabulous charity. I have a friend who works there who explained to me he chose to join them as they provide the absolute foundation of life. i.e. you can have all the aid flown in that you like, but without sanitation and clean water the community will collapse within days. It's very simple, but pretty compelling really.

Georgie Bush is falling down, falling down...

...falling down, Georgie bush is falling down, my fair lady

Click above, click above.

Have or Of? The metamorphosis of language

Went to the pub with Nic last night and at one point when she took herself off to the Ladies I sat earwigging two South African girls at the other end of our table. I wasn't really listening properly but at one point heard one say 'I should of...'. It was so clearly 'of' that she used that I was quite taken aback, it grated. It's a common mistake in the written form, but it struck me that the way she articulated 'of' while technically incorrect, it sounded far more comfortable. Now Nic would hate this she's a real stickler for correct usage of English, me I'm much more keen on the adaptation of language.

I'm a big fan of the way that language has been impacted by text messaging. I heard Stephen Fry interviewed the other day a big advocate of the adaptation and chameleon like nature of the English language - he's currently promoting a Christmas book called 'The Ode Less Traveled' about the construction of poetry. The premise for the book is that people need to be taught how to write a poem in much the same way as they are taught to play an instrument - anyway he relayed a story about his 12 year old nephew. He had recently given him a present to which he received the reply 'Heh that's book'. Being perplexed by the term, he asked his nephew what he meant. 'You know book, cool' his nephew replied. Fry looked perplexed, so his nephew pulled out his phone, flicked to text (predictive of course) and spelt out cool which of course actually spells, book when the predictive function is on. And there we have it the birth of a new term, the natural metamorphosis of language.

Thinking on the South African's use of 'of' rather than 'have' it struck me that it has to be a front runner as a term that will become acceptable in time. The tipping point will come some time in the future and of course the purists will hate it but personally that's what I love about the English language, it's great adaptability.

Come on Boys

I've set my alarm for 4.10 tomorrow already. First cherry (hopefully Hoggard) thrown nee arrowed down the track in Multan against Pakistan. Despite losing the match and Michael Vaughn to Pakistan A this week, I'm convinced we'll blow them away.

Come on Tres take us home boy.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

What is British?

Anyone who knows me from the Five live messageboards will be aware of some of my feelings on this subject already.

My preoccupation as with many of my recent preoccupations comes from having had a child. It's forced me to think about a great many things in my life. There are obviously the practicalities of education, health and so on, but also more macro issues. One of these more nebulous issues is that of being British and what it is to be British in 2005.

When I fill in a form asking for nationality, my first thought is invariably to state English, of course that gets pinged as you are always data captured as British. However, I do feel more English than I do British. I don't have anything against the other nations in the union, but frankly it comes down to sport. I support England, I know it's the English and Welsh cricket board but for me and pretty much every other Englishman I know it's England pure and simple.

So that's a personal take, Englishness and Britishness are pretty much inter-changeable and I think if you asked the average Scotsman or Welshman most would agree with you, if you are to take the traditional view of Britishness/Englishness and this is where my argument springboards.

There seems to have been a lot of talk recently about Britishness and what it is to be British in 2005. It seems to me that most often Britishness is perceived as tradition, history and democracy and freedom of speech. However I feel this is far too anchored in the past to be relevant to modern society and I feel this is leading us in to an identity crisis.

This post comes today following yesterday's defeat in the House of Commons on the 90 day terror detention bill. Sir Ian Blair recommended to Tony Blair that this should be the number of days we hold terrorist suspects without trial while the police and security services gathered evidence to build a case to take them to trial. The bill was defeated and a 14 day extension to 28 days has been agreed (Subject to the Lord's approval)

There are two interesting aspects to this particular period in our history in the context of what it is to be British.

First was the way that Tony Blair took Ian Blair's recommendations forward without change. I've been criticised for using the term police state - I realise it's an emotive term but until yesterday I had never used it in the context of Britain. However, when the police have this much sway over government I feel it's the most appropriate term, the cap fits so snugly. I don't think we live in a police state yet, I don't even think we're getting close to it, but, these things start somewhere and this piece of legislation is the thin end for me.

Second, is related to the first, but concerns our approach to the constitution. It seems to me that some of the most vehement supporters of the 90 day bill were the very same ones that would quote Britishness as being about tradition, democracy, free speech, the rule of law, fair play and so on. But isn't it a contradiction in terms to feel being British is about tradition and democracy and freedom of speech and then wanting to defend that by destroying those very principles.

I can't help but think that we are increasingly becoming an elastoplast nation, mending the wounds as they are inflicted without ever looking at why they're inflicted. I realise that we have a fluid constitution built over hundreds of years, but this has relied on conflict and upheaval to ensure it remains dynamic and relevant. I would argue that we have undergone such a long period of relative stability and prosperity since the Second World war that actually we've started to lose our way, the constitution isn't moving on as it has in the past.

Of course this loss of direction and struggle is true of a lot of North West Europe, I can't think of a much safer place to live your life, but cracks are starting to appear, the French riots, Germany's continuing struggle to get back on it's feet following re-unification with it's high unemployment, Holland's approach to law becoming increasingly tough. We're all struggling in our own way.

And of course globalisation has it's role in this. It could be argued that Britishness is less relevant now because we have a more global economy. Tony Blair often appears to spend far more of his time on international issues than domestic, but maybe international is where it's at. After all we are hosting Prime Minister Hu of China currently in an attempt to strengthen our global position, but funnily we're pulling out all the traditional old favourites, horse drawn carriages, silly dressy banquets and so on to welcome him in. (Oh yes and that great British tradition of ignoring the human rights nastiness). However, it's all very well being global and it's all very well freeing up trade and lowering barriers but what are the consequences of this.

Now I'm a South London boy and I grew up with a lot of black and brown faces. I had a fairly liberal upbringing, so people's issues with immigration and multi-culturalism were something I came to quite late and I found very difficult to identify with. I grew up with in a very rich and diverse environment so it's something I've been used to all my life.

My personal opinion is that multi-culturalism is the way forward. I am an advocate of letting anyone in, open the borders. Not completely uncontrolled, but if they bring skills let's have 'em, whoever they are. However where multi-culturalism is falling down for me comes back to our sense of Britishness. It's failing because we cannot convey what it is in 2005. What do immigrants in the UK cling on to, what do they aspire to. Why should they want to buy in to our culture? This isn't the case in the US.

My view of America is thus. Great to live there. Great to travel there. Great to be there. Shit, if they come to visit you, because invariably they're after something. So ignoring foreign policy, I'll concentrate on the domestic 'American Dream'. It's a simple concept really that has both a cultural and economic aspect, it's easy to understand and most importantly it's always contemporary. It's as relevant today as it was in 1776. For an immigrant in the US it's aspirational it oozes from every pore of the average American and it appears tangible, something to hold on to something to buy in to, something entirely egalitarian in it's principle, if not perfectly egalitarian in it's execution, but heh everything has it's flaws.

In Britain we have no discernible comparative aspiration. As I have stated already we have the tradition, the history, the democracy, but then so do most other countries and each of those countries could claim the same. Those concepts were fine in 1945, we had won a war we were a nation on high and we were still an imperial power, but as we get further away, most of the empire has disappeared, the Great in Great Britain looks increasingly outdated and our identity is completely anchored in the past a vision of Britain from the 1950s. So what's our USP in 2005. Why should people want to come here. The answer is the economy. We're strong, we have high employment, we have a huge service industry and that is attracting immigrants, bring 'em on I say it can only strengthen us.

But hang on all I can see is multiculturalism failing and it's because people are failing to integrate. Not as some of the haters would argue, because they want to be with their own, but it's because the international image that we convey which is largely based on everything I have outlined above in reality is hugely nebulous. It's not tangible, it's not something that seeps from every pore of an Englishmen as the American dream seeps from an American.

If you landed at Heathrow by plane tomorrow, or pulled in at Waterloo on the Eurostar, or landed at Dover by Ferry and walked in to the newsagents what would you see. Newspapers full of sensationalism, celebrity magazines, lads mags, tits arse and empty heads. This is modern Britain. A Britain that takes solace in vacuousness that pins it's nationalism to the Football team or the cricket team. This apathy and lack of identity shows in so many different ways.

Look at the last election turn out. We returned a government who received 25% of the countries vote. Politicians are unable to galvanise the electorate to even bother to drag their fat celebrity loving arse 200 yards to scrawl an x on a ballot paper. Why? because they fail to inspire. They fail to take the electorate with them with a bold vision of modern Britishness. What we get is the media veneer of Cool Britannia. A Blairite PR job based on a few musicians having champagne cocktails at No. 10. This isn't modern Britain, this is a few designers getting pissed for free and pretending that the late 90s were as cool as the swinging 60s. Oh how quickly it all disappeared. Do you think we're going to see Noel Gallagher hob nobbing with Cherie Blair again. No I didn't think so.

So here I am.

Are we strong economically? Yes and we are maintaining relatively well

Are we strong globally? Relatively bit of a lapdog

Are we at threat from terror? Yes, but not enough so to erode our entire rule of law

Are we being taken over by immigrant cultures? No. It's just that we appear to be, because our own identity is so weak that when we play host to a culture that has a strong identity it puts ours in the shade.

I want to live in a strong-multicultural society, but if we are to do that we need to get a fresh modern vision of what it is to be British without that we will simply become a mish-mash.

Unfortunately, I don't have an answer to what that vision is, but I'm definitely going to have a damn good think.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Zebedee was always the coolest one off magic Roundabout

'I'm knackered'

'Yeah me too'

'Listen do you want to go outside and sit down?'

'It's pretty cold out there'

'What's the time?'


'Who's on after Van Dyk?'

'Dave Ralph'


'I dunno, Jim says he doesn't play over here very often works with Oakey over in the US, listen we'll blow through come on I'm still well up for it'

She laughs. I love that laugh, it's reserved for me, kind of despairing, but means I've got away with it.

'Yeah alright' she says

We headed back into the tent which seems weirdly empty considering Paul Van Dyk's omnipotent presence everywhere this summer. The Crasher kids are still at it, all whirly glowsticks and contorted faces. I couldn't help but laugh when I heard about the poster that appeared up at Republic last month 'I'm drug free like PVD'. Fuck knows who that was because this lot are gurning like gooduns.

'The others have gone to the front' I shout

'Yeah yeah let me grab Kate'

Nic disappears and I shimmy down to the barrier. Van Dyk's whirlwinding to a close. A thin dark guy's bobbing around maniacally behind him. Watching the decks. Checking the crowd. Bounce. 'For an Angel' starts to segue in, those soaring synths washing over you. PVD is a crowd pleaser, the place is going crazy. The whoops that accompanied people really coming up around 2pm have gone and been replaced by a chugging crowd, and the mass has the space to dance, the kind of dance you only get at that time of the morning, rythmic, measured, totally going with every beat. Every movement synchronised after 6 or 7 hours of trying to really get with it and here we are we've all arrived and PVD's coming to a finale and taking everyone with him.

And then, the guy on the spring again. Checking the crowd. Bounce. Checking the decks. Bounce. Suddenly he disappears. Then he pops up with vinyl in his hand. He whispers to PVD and then slaps the 12" on the deck and suddenly God swaps places with Zebedee. Shit.

'Hi ya' I look down and Nic's bobbing about with Kate stood behind. I have a smiley nod at Cath and she grins wide and throws herself into a music box ballerina 360. I grin back and she throws her arms round me.

'You having a good time' she shouts

'Best ever'

'Is he on next?'

'I hope not'

'What do you mean?'


Three people stare across the barrier at Zebedee, he has the 12" back in his hand, checking the crowd, jumping, bouncing, checking the crowd, jumping, bouncing, check the decks, checks the levels, bounce, bounce. Jesus christ maybe I should have gone outside.


...he slaps the vinyl back down, grabs the phones, swings the arm, smashes the cross fader across and sucks every last ounce of bass out of the tent.

Everything holds it's breath.

Zebedee looks up and grins. A wicked knowing grin. What the fuck does he know...

... a tune from the heavens crashes in.

Oh my fucking God, a tingle spreads down from the top of my head and through every part of my body.


15 yards away I spot Simon and Jaack pogoing. Jack doesn't pogo. Ever! But we clock each other and all our arms go up and we bounce.

Enter stage left, Jim comes running out of nowhere 'It's Ralph, it's Dave Ralph I told you he was fucking good. How fucking good was that'

We're all, all over the place, Jim's grinning, Kate and Nic are laddering away behind me. Ed, Jack, Simon, Meg and me are swaying (where did Meg and Ed come from?) And as we look back to the decks so's Dave Ralph, he's climbed out the back of the box and run about 20 yards out, arms windmilling. That's the kind of DJ you want, basically just one of the crowd. When they're part of the crowd they know exactly what to play next.

Viva Creamfields 2000

Sunday, November 06, 2005

In the Hell of Tournantes - Samira Bellil RIP

Samira Bellil died on September 4th 2004 aged 31 of Stomach cancer.

This diminuitive French Algerian immigrant was a modern day Emmeline Pankhurst and it is arguable the stand she made was possibly a far more courageous act than that of the Suffragettes.

In her book 'Dans L'Enfer Des Tournantes' (In the Hell of Tournantes) she laid bare the endemic culture of patriarchal oppression in the French ghetto. Her story was underpinned by her own gang rape at the age of 14 at the hands of 4 men known to her.

Gang rape was known in the ghetto as pass-rounds. Her boyfriend handed her over to his 3 friends who brutally raped her all night and then made her breakfast in the morning. This happened to her again when she was dragged by one of her previous assailants off a crowded train while the passengers looked the other way.

Her story is not uncommon of her peers growing up in the Banlieu many of her friends suffered the same fate and women are often forced to hide, stay inside and if they are seen to be in any way deviating from the norm they can often suffer the same fate at the hands of disenfanchised, angry and voilent young men.

Her book galvanised a women's movement in France that spawned countless marches across the country attended by thousands of women who had been terrified of voicing their opinions and the action she inspired forced the French Government to look seriously at the issue of pass-rounds in particular but also the oppression of women in the gheto. She instigated the set-up and implementation of women's refuge to protect some of those at gravest danger with a particular focus of attention on the estimated 70,000 who were believed to be in danger of enforced marriage in a heavily fundamentalist islamic honour culture.

Her impact was so great that the government were forced to recognise the changing ethnic fabric of French society and a department was set up to look at the issues. The French government honoured Bellil’s achievements, and those of 13 other women from the projects, by hanging their portraits outside the country's parliament in recognition of the profile they had created.

The reason I post this today is that we are on the back of the 11th day of rioting in the Paris ghettos particularly, but also all over France. It's something I'm sure Bellil would not be in the slightest bit surprised by, the depth of poverty and disaffection has been there for years, mixed with the overpowering macho patriarchal culture. Personally I hope it proves the catalyst the French government require to really tackle the issue of the ghetto and the way that they have been used and ignored for years. The ghettos have been allowed to descend to a hellish existence that breeds the worst type of fundamentalism religiously, patriarchally and violently.

Friday, November 04, 2005


I think the terrible twos are upon us. All previous strategies are useless. My lovely little boy has turned in to a little git. No amount of cajoling, bargaining, deal making, 1,2,3ing works anymore. We have to now just leave him to scream it out on the floor until he decides to eat, put clothes on, come out to the car, whatever. I very nearly resorted to chocolate last night, but managed to resist. I can understand why people give in though.

Of course I've got it easy, I can escape. Nicky on the other hand said she could have merrily thrown him at a wall 2 or 3 times the other day. She didn't, but boy this is challenging - to say the very least.

I can't wait for March when no.2 arrives.

Monday, October 31, 2005

It's that time of year...

...Halloween and Guy Fawkes. Two nights that should be full of family fun and yet again have been hijacked by resentfullness and greed.

1. In Sainsbury's tonight I watched as 3 children - the oldest of whom I would imagine was 14 - bought fireworks from a salesperson who did not seem in the least bit interested in their age.

2. I have just come away from the door having been trick or treated by two I'd say 10 year olds. They like all the other children who came to the door tonight got a small packet of maltesers and a mini aero each. Both of them looked like I'd placed a dog turd in their hand. I can only summise they wanted money and they had been on the go since they left school to extract as much cash out of the area as possible.

Having said all that, Eben looked fab in his scary ghost costume with mini pumpkin lantern in hand. Woooooooooooo!!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Little bowls of food

The little bowl of food phenomenon has multipled exponentially since Eben was born. Except now it tends to be stackable tupperware, to ensure greater efficiencey of space. Or, in our case, a secure lidded environment for super-mould to grow in.

Why do we kid ourselves that we need half a portion of mashed potato. Or, that just because he didn't want beans this time that maybe he'll have them next time. Or alternatively am I really going to take that small bowl of left over pasta to work. No I've never remembered before why should I start now. It will just become fridge wallpaper, until we decide that we're going to have a clear out. at which time it provides it's only useful function. i.e. as a source of biological wonderment.

Shame of it is, I know I'll be sayng the same in 20 years time

Friday, October 28, 2005


The blogging's really starting to get to me, it's more addictive than the BBC 5 Live Messageboards, mind you that's not so difficult the standard of debate on there has slid away to almost nothing. It's even forcing me to learn HTML which i've been meaning to get round to for years

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The man who fell asleep

Some years ago I had an idea for a column, based on the crap that you'd hear daily on the tube. Of course as with all these things I never followed it through. However someone did and it was picked up by Timeout who now have a regular column dedicated to it. And guess what? It's really funny what a surprise. It's well worth a read. Makes me laugh without fail

What a worrier

I've just reread my postings. I'm really not that much of a worrier honest. Gavin, believe me seriously I don't worry, please don't think that of me, please. I really am quite happy-go-lucky honest.

Bird Flu reaches Paris

It's getting closer people. Be on your guard

Oh God - I may have killed an old lady

So here I sit guilty.

I've just had my flu jab (I'm an asthmatic so I am high risk and have a legitimate reason for the shot), however they were dispensing the jab on a first come first serve basis and I scraped in as the 64th of 70 available jabs.

Not long after I registered they started to turn people away and point people towards the pharmacy to go on a waiting list until the country restocks - yes there's none left in the UK.

But, who were they turning away. Yes. It was little old 70+ ladies( if I'm honest they're probably 80+). I couldn't help sitting there - watching them being pointed up up the road - thinking that they were only late because it took them an hour and half to agonisingly scrape their way wheezing from their small bedsit just round the corner. Oh God, oh god, oh god.

Ah well at least I'll be alright.

Getting old too quickly

As I get older, I've come to realise that people lie to you about what happens as the years tick by. Well I suppose it's less lying than not letting on what's going to occur.

Gripe no. 1 - I do not expect to wake up at 5am desperate for a piss, this isn't supposed to happen until you're 50ish is it?

Gripe no.2 - When I go to bed at night perfectly fit and healthy, I do not expect to get up with a bit of a sore back.

Gripe no.3 - When I go out for the evening, I do not expect to be flagging at 11.00pm

Gripe no.4 - When I go out for the evening, I do not expect to think - 'oo it'd be quite nice to watch Casualty in my pants'

Gripe no.5 - When did I start to think that bars are a 'bit noisy'

I'm 32 I feel cheated.

New directions

I had one of those nights a couple of nights ago. I went to bed early (Ebs is waking up at 5 at the moment so trying to mitigate extreme tiredness) and it was a terrible idea. I wasn't ready for bed at all and I lay there and started thinking. Now normally this results in my mind wandering off to being the best fast bowler to set foot on a cricket field, or the invention of a double ended dildo concept - Oh sorry no that was Nicky's dream the other night - but not Tuesday night. I actually came up with what I think is a completely feasible business concept. So after mulling it over until 1am I got up and wrote an outline business plan until 4am at which point I went to bed got an hour - before Eben woke up.

You know what I was saying about being happy and chilling out. I lied, I couldn't kick back if I tried. So off I go again, another flight of fancy.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

I don't like cricket...

Unfortunately I started my blog far too late to cover the Ashes win after 16 years. However, as it was the culmination of a life spent being pretty much singularly disappointed (apart from that 9 for 56 that Devon Malcolm took in '94 when I ran around the room squealing for about 10 minutes) watching England teams being trounced by Australians (not exclusively, but it's only the Aussies that really hurts). Then I thought it was still fresh enough in the memory to post something.

Oh yeah and I found this in my inbox and it made me laugh again.

Freddie you're a legend mate.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


For the first time for a very long time I can say I'm really truly happy.

Flogging my guts out for years made me desperately unhappy. It made me quite well off, but only now do I realise how stressed I was. I didn't see my friends and family, 16 hour days 7 days a week didn't suit me - doesn't suit anyone I wouldn't have thought. But I got out.

The business has finally hit a point where I wouldn't say it's looking after itself, but it's stable, Nicky's happier at home and not rushing off to work to earn just enough to cover childcare, her trip to work and the yoga to help her destress from work and Eben's definitely thriving as a result. My family are all well (finger's crossed Jamie doesn't get MRSA in the appendix scar). We've finally sorted Nanny's will. Jo and Dad seem happy to be cruising around until the flat's sorted.

All I know is that I'm going to stop for a few months and let things roll, I haven't done that since I started working. I've got viewable billings for 6 months (anything else is incremental) I'm going to kick back, service the clients I have and concentrate on home, wait for the new baby to arrive and then next June go for it with the business again.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

When did football get so boring?

I can't watch it any more, I've got more interest in makeover shows and Holby City than this crap.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Big sweaty men

What do you say to a fit young bloke you've been staring at for the last 10 minutes, as he exerts himself. It's OK when he's a hundred yards away and not within speaking distance, but when they're lugging something your way, hot and sweaty and a little bit out of breath, a bit grubby wiping the sweat from their brow. Oh christ, have I been staring too long?

'Grab truck Daddy' comes the voice by my side.

Thank fuck for that, Eben's spoken first.

'Yes sweetheart, look it's lifting bricks into the back of the truck.'

'Alright mate' I said to the builder. I got a kind of flick headed 'alright' back at me.

The builder's yard ritual has been ongoing for about 8 months now. I came back for lunch today and took Ebs to the swings which necessitates walking past the yard. That in turn means at least 10 minutes staring at gorillas in forklift trucks and grab vans loading and unloading bricks and stuff. Have to say it's not something I'd ever noticed until Eben pointed out that it was the best thing to happen to the world.

I think I may have to buy them a Christmas present in exchange for a good staring. I'm thinking Pirelli calendar.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Human Beings - where did it all go wrong?

The South Bank is my favourite part of London no doubt. Nick was off at a seminar today - the topic - optimal foetal positioning, Mary told me this afternoon that sitting forward was the key, that took 20 seconds. So why Nick was out all day is beyond me. Anyway that's beyond the point, that point being, Eben and I had the day on our own - a rare treat. So, I promised to take him up to see the Skateboarders under the National Theatre, have some lunch at the NFT before heading to Horniman museum in the afternoon.

Very nice day it was too. Ebs is a bit ill but that's just Autumn and 2 year olds. Despite that we got - Skateboarders, BMXers, spliff smoking steel drum players, a man with very long fake arms that patted us on the head, pet goats, a plethora of instruments from jews harps to bongos experimented with, a very aggressive rooster (not very rockin'), a 19th Century merman, a stuffed Jaguar, an Amazonian canoe, a torture chair, (goddam he loved that chair, I'm glad it was behind glass) and all punctuated by 6 train journey's all over South London, each one slightly more exciting than the last, apart from maybe the last one where he was tailng off a bit and fell asleep in my lap.

And boy did we meander, which appears to have become a thing of history - every other person we encountered seemed to have somewhere to go. It's Sunday, chill people. Nope. Everywhere I looked people were speed-reading fashion supplements. The 14 year old skaters were impatient, I mean what have they got to get home to, apart from a 5 bedroom semi in Richmond and pushy parents with homework in their exasperated mitts. Everyone bustling around too quickly to actually catch what was actually happening on the South Bank - blimey, most unrelaxing.

And what about me and Ebs - well it took us 2 hours to walk 3/4 of a mile from the NFT to the footbridge to take us to Charing Cross station - there's an awful lot of pigeons and squirrels to chase you know.

I was perfectly chirpy I have to say but, it did make me think that we've become a bit shit as a species. When did our survival instinct become, needing a latte and quick. This was confirmed later on when on our 5th train journey the thing happened that Nic and I have discussed a dozen times. We pulled in to a station, woman with buggy got off and the buggy slipped in to the gap between train and platform.

Something really does need to be done about this, I don't know whether this is true of all trains but round this way it's a plague. Clapham Junction is ridiculous. The angle of train to platform in some places means that you have to hop up to 18 inches to make the platform - not great if you're 85 and have arthiritis.

The woman started screaming, so i jumped up grabbed Eben, shoved my buggy out of the way and in the process barged some one else out of the way to go and pull the fucking emergency cord. I was a little bit incapacitated with Ebs to do much else, but it was fine she got out after freaking her kids out by being a bit hysterical. And all the while everyone else mostly watched and looked concerned. Stop looking concerned and do something you idiots.

I'm gradually coming to the conclusion that the one for all and all for me instinct apears to have taken hold as a naturally occurring gene now, or maybe it's just all the estrogen in the water or something, because we sure as hell don't help our fellow human anymore - well not if it breaks in to a great tune on your iPod.

And another thing - the emergency cord expereience was a bit disappointing, I fully expected sirens and flashing lights and thousands of panicked station staff. Alas all I got was a slightly irate train driver being perplexed by the fact someone could have possibly got stuck in that gap and annoyed because he couldn't reset it. Ah well at least I've done it now

Friday, October 14, 2005

The junk thought theorem

After thinking about it last night I've made a decision that this should really become of some therapeutic value. But how?

Some years ago I attended an acupuncturist - Richard Davies - for a few months. Nicky (wife) and Jo (sister-in-law) had been going for months. Richard actually inspired Jo to give up her big, city job and become an acupuncturist herself - to be frank he was very good.

Anyway I thought I'd go along to find out whether he could do anything about my long standing asthma and hayfever conditions. He couldn't - the breathing difficulties became no better whatsoever, however he did something more wonderful.

One of Richard's great skills was his therapeutic counseling. He would never admit it himself but he was an amazing listener and you were able to talk things through in great detail.

Now don't misunderstand me, I didn't have any deep psychological issues that I needed to work through, however as some of you who know me will know, I'm a big thinker. Not one of life's great philosophers or brainstormers, but I can think about trivial issues like why a pigeon would choose to change direction at the exact time it does, in minute detail - I mean why? It's not got anything on has it? It's full up and doesn't need to eat, so why decide to turn round then? What are it's motives?

And therein lay my problem, these aren't things I would ever talk to anyone about, because a) They're only really interesting to me b) I may be committed to hospital or c) Nicky may be pushed to the brink of divorce. So these ideas and thoughts lay there in my brain, they were never externalised and therefore became what I term 'junk thought', things that are in your head that basically just make a mess.

Then, along came Richard.

Now I paid the guy £35 a session and the asthma thing wasn't working frankly, so I started talking to him about these absurd musings. And it was the most liberating thing I've ever done. I became more clear headed, far less stressed and generally lighter in my life all round. But, then I stopped going for a few weeks and he moved away and I was left with no outlet again.

Now I've found a bit of an outlet for this on the BBC Five Live UK Message Board but there's some shit in my head that couldn't even be posted up there, after all it's an open forum and as I said earlier I could be committed to hospital.

So here I am, in a closed forum and this is where I'm going to get all that junk thought out. In fact I think (If I can work out how) I may rename the blog so bye bye to 'The various ramblings of Six' thank you for being my blog name.

Thank you to David, Gavin and Span for visiting the site so far. I fully understand if you never want to darken my blog again.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The beginning bit

Hello to anyone who's stumbled on to this corner of the web.

I'm going to keep this purely social and family based, I guess it'll be more of a diary than social comment. Can't remember which philosopher it was who said that anyone who pens a diary secretly wants it to be found. I guess that's true of this. I'm not really that bothered about who finds this, I just hope whoever I bag over the next who knows how long, doesn't stumble in here themselves.

So things I'm proud of today:

1. I got a letter in to Time Out, never had a letter published, but finally the narcissus complex got the better of me
2. Nicky's taught Eben to shout 'tuuune' with his hands above his head when born slippy comes on the radio. My son, my son.

Anyway here's a photo of the light of my life. It's a bit old but I love it.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

A thumb sucker