Archive for January, 2006

Miscellaneous ramblings

Monday, January 30th, 2006

End of an era
I was sad to see that Christopher Lloyd had died at the weekend. With my being a nascent horticultural obsessive, he always seemed to be one of the good guys. Even in his eighties: radical designs, youth oriented yet steeped in the history of English garden design. Lutyens did a makeover on his house and garden, as one does. His column in the Guardian mag was published as usual at the weekend. A class act.

Tone deaf?
You could be a member of Kandifloss – “I want it right now, ooohh oooh, ohmygod, ohmygod, hair extensions lipglossagogo” etc etc.
Take the audition here – I scored 28/30 which means I’ve no hope of ever being in a vacuous manufactured girl band sigh

Word of the week
From da Chaffinch
talking of whom…

Tits, Chaffinches and Dunnocks
No, not an episode of Ground Force – luvverly photies.

See? sidebar persistence pays off. Who should make a comeback but Wrapstar. Currently detailing Zombie Flesh Eaters and high security PCs in Wigan. [ Rejoice ]
Stirrings, too over at Marky’s and also a while back at Timmy’s too. I need to reactivate things at the moment – [ I’m in that kind of mood ]- so: positive vibes to these dormant stars in the bloggifirmament. We need you back. [ Are you listening? ]

Sunday, January 29th, 2006

Dear drD
At HM Revenue & Customs we realise that a lot of people feel a bit daunted when it comes to doing their first self assessment tax return. That’s why we’re doing all we can to give you a helping hand!

We’re enclosing another copy of your tax return form just in case the first 5 that we sent you are no longer to hand. We know how easy it is to mislay a 48 page A4 booklet with ‘TAX RETURN DO NOT LOOSE’ stamped on the front cover! You may remember something that looked like this dropping onto your welcome mat in January, March, May, July and September. Not to worry – we’ve printed 82 million so have a few spares!

Just in case it slips your mind, do look out for the handy TV adverts featuring Adam Hart-Davis. [ He’s the nerdy one off those nerdy Roman things on BBC2 ]. We’ve made 25 adverts that get more and more desperate and threatening the nearer it gets to Jan 31st! There’re online ads too! No browsing dodgy websites for you when you should be ‘filing online’! It’s the trendy thing to do – get on down man!
You can even think over your return whilst in the car. Flip on the radio and there’s Adam – nasally nagging you to meet that deadline! Look out the window and see him on a poster as you drive past. Doesn’t he look scary?!!

So there’s absolutely no reason to put it off. And if you do your tax return online it’s even more complicated! Just follow the 68 easy steps in our handy brochurette.

We love you drD

Mr Taxman.

PS: We know where you live and the boys are ready to drop round soon – don’t delay!

No queues today at Kew

Wednesday, January 25th, 2006

Time for a midweek break. [You can do that when you work for yourself and need to procrastinate yourself away from doing your tax return – yawn]. Time to take the train to Kew and a little hike around the gardens. I’m pretty sure that this is a sign that my youth is receding rapidly. There was a time when I’d not dream of staring for over three minutes at a one inch cactus behind a plate glass screen, being fascinated with it’s markings. There was a time when I’d run screaming from the ‘nice cup of tea and a sit down’ brigade with their grey hair and green jackets. There was a time when trees were things you drove past on the way to somewhere more interesting; not a destination in their own right. [ I’ve got a current fixation with ancient pines ]. So, yes, I confess, I’ve joined the ranks of the great British horticulturally obsessed.
Today was a bit nippy round the nether regions. I headed straight for the Princess Diana Memorial Greenhouse n Swamp Experience. It has this great climatic control system that combines heat [ it’s yer actual greenhouse effect ] and squirty misty things which give a wonderful almost tropical humidity. [Plays havoc with afro hair]. It’s also a nice place to thaw your gonads after a wintry blasting. Today they were having a big cleanout so much of the house was cordoned off. But I could get far enough in to eye up a stunning display of orchids arranged in a series of towers about 15 feet high, each festooned with orchids of different colours. Very spesh and recommended. My favourite building at Kew is the Palm House. Wonderfully elegant cast iron Victoriana sets off the fantastic specimen palms within. Wonderfully deserted today so I could wander at will, chasing the cheeky wee bird I could see flitting around in the undergrowth – he was about an inch and a half in height – I kid you not – love to know what he is. Did you know that pepper can be used to treat stomach complaints?
Later on I saw the elderly gingko tree which featured on TV a while back fading in the summer heat and in need of emergency root treatment. It looks very healthy now. As does the rest of the place. The ultimate theme park for crusties. [Don’t mention the season ticket]

Tuesday, January 24th, 2006

Sven song
Good old News of the Screws. Nothing like a bit of sharp investigative journalism to uncover stories of ‘serious public interest’. Sven puts himself about for a possible lucrative new job. Sven doesn’t rate some of his ‘staff’, the England players. Sven doesn’t rate some of his peers, fellow football managers. So? Is this really any different from anyone in any job? It’s all about circulation figures, money and the cold dead hand of an Australian American who thinks he runs this country. Remember, Dennis Potter named his tumour, ‘Rupert’.


“In many ways Pete is Madonna’ s counterpart. He has gone through a series of successful re-inventions in his long career, yet never lost his most intriguing elements: mystery, secret sexuality, and dark humor.”

Square eyes
I like this TV listing page – simple, at a glance, all one page terrestrial listings.
RT take note.

A thing of quiet beauty

Sunday, January 22nd, 2006

I first saw this cabinet when I was about 19. I had a thing for beautifully made cabinet work at the time. When you see it close up – [ Larger image here – you notice how Peter Waals, the maker, has selected carefully matched quartered walnut panels for the doors. The grain radiates outwards from the centre of each door. The construction of the cabinet is visible – you can see the joints at the corners of the carcase. The Arts and Crafts philosophy of ‘honesty’ is everywhere in this masterful design. Yet it is full of subtle and understated detailing; the chamfers on the drawer fronts, the diamond pattern moulding around the frame, the gentle arch of the subframe rail. The proportions appear to be based on golden sections. My opinion when I first saw it was that it is a thing of quiet beauty. Over twenty years later I’ve not changed my mind. Made in 1928, I’d still be happy to have it in my home, as I am sure would many. It’s tucked away in the twentieth century furniture gallery at the V&A. The gallery is a treasure trove of modern furniture with pieces by Voysey, Gimson, Mackintosh, Hoffman and many other masters. Yet, these days, the gallery is rarely opened. ‘Staff shortages’ the last time I asked. Still, one day soon I’ll get to go and see my cabinet again I hope. I found out today that the cabinet was comissioned by Frank Pick, one time Chief Executive of London Transport. Pick is responsible for many of the iconic modern movement commissions which are still part of LT’s estate. Most notably, I think, he commissioned the London Underground roundel from Edward Johnston who also designed the London Underground typeface. There’s a great piece on Frank here.

Whaling and gnashing of teeth

Saturday, January 21st, 2006

Amidst all the talk of Whales in Westminster these last days, nobody has seen fit to present a potted history of other marine visitors to the capital in years gone by. The job, once again, falls to me; the man with his fishfinger on the pulse.

Who can forget the notorious ‘sea cucumber in a tube station’ crisis of 1970?

‘Little squidge’, as the Cockerney Chronicle dubbed him, was unfortuately squished when he failed to mind the gap. This may be because his mind was quite small – being a sea creature of diminutive proportion and limited evolutionary sophistication. A memorial plaque was placed on the wall of the tube station. It was recently upgraded to a chocolate machine [ not working ].

1983 saw a giant squid landing on the roof of Buckingham Palace during the Octopussy promotional campaign. An incompetent James Bond lackey had pressed the release button too early and the squid – destined originally for the Thames – splattered onto the roof of Her Majesty’s secret servants quarters. She was not amused. The squid was scraped off, placed in a selection of tupperware containers and frozen for later use as organic corgy snackettes. Never one to waste money is our Brenda.

Of course, the most recent fishy fandango in London’s fair city was the so called, ‘Holy Haddock of Harrods’ incident in early 1998. Just a few months after the tragic demise of The Princess of Hearts and her companion, a large memorial haddock had been placed in the window of the famous emporium to focus the attention of passers by. The haddock, as many will know, is an ancient symbol of love; very popular in royal circles as an aphrodisiac. Whilst a controversial choice in these particular circumstances, few expected much trouble aside from the usual screaming headlines in the News of the Screws, ‘Diana in Fish Tribute Nightmare’ etc. It was not until a passing nun noticed that the giant fish had begun to weep that hordes of devout pilgrims began to assemble in front of the shop on their knees, gnashing their teeth and flagellating themselves with bunches of cut price cut flowers from the nearby Shell Garage, all overcome with grief. Of course, the authorities hushed it up. It was claimed that Prince Philip personally ordered the haddock to be lasered late at night in an effort to quell the growing hysteria surrounding the lachrymosal lamentations. Nobody knows exactly what became of it. Only one thing is clear, like so many marine misadventures it all ended in tears.

Apparently, acupuncture deactivates the brain. Suddenly it all becomes clear.

Do you know

Thursday, January 19th, 2006

1. How to get builders to turn up to give an estimate when they say they will?
2. If UK society will get better or worse in the next thirty years?
3. Why computers fail when you most need them not to?
4. Anyone that could make me the kind of window blind used on motor yachts?
5. An excuse used for docking boxer dog tails?
6. What I’m wearing right now?
7. If it’s worth buying organic milk?
8. Any famous people?
9. What you plan to do in the summer?
10. How to remove water marks from unfinished beech?


Wednesday, January 18th, 2006

Bit quiet round here presently.
Know any good jokes?

Out of the mouth of parrots
We liked this one.

Crapness analysed

Tuesday, January 17th, 2006

Minor crapness today but nothing on the scale of yesterday; which was interesting. My conclusion is that several crap events in a short period can lead to a feeling of being overwhelmed. A sort of u bend experience. Not good. Maintaining ones interior representation of reality when all around you appears to be crumbling seems to be the automatic response. But it can be painful when the externals are so far from the internals. I know that the ‘healthy’ response is to adapt ones frame of reference in such situations. I still find that bleedin difficult. My hunch is that it’s a clinging on to what is known and familiar and a desire to maintain that. Feels comfortable just writing that. How fragile we are.

The world of Ken Morse
‘Britain’s premier rostrum cameraman’. Where would be without him?

Queasy question
Do you think that, now it’s going to be legal to open a mini brothel, that whole new areas of the economy will open up.. so to speak? “Hello, is that First Direct? I’d like a bonk loan to start a small business please”…etc

A little of what you fancy

Monday, January 16th, 2006

..does you good.
With the worst day of the year just a week away I’m a bit concerned. Today has been officially crap. A number of crap things have happened, none life threatening but disconcerting and undermining and disruptive in a ‘where did the sky go?’ kind of way. You know how it is, you get up in the morning expecting the day to progress in a similar manner to previous days. [ Slave to routine moi? ] Shortly, things start to go wrong and then continue to do so for the whole day. Almost. So far, [ looks up ], the roof has not begun to leak. It’s raining outside. [ Crosses legs and fingers, caresses lucky Jimmy Saville voodoo doll ] Please God, don’t let the next 7 days get crappier.
Meanwhile, I decide to take matters into my own hands. [ Hold that image ]. A nice glass [or three] of champagne is called for. It’s Monday, it’s cold, dark and wet outside. I’ve just spent an hour walking home due to failure of a motorised kind, I forgot to renew my breakdown cover. What more excuse do I need? What goes best with champagne? A Tunnocks tea cake. Lovingly sucked till it’s mallow can resist no more.
I’m easily pleased.
Just as well because today really has been crap. Did I say that already?