Sunday, September 30, 2007

Whoosh


Weird weekend. Basically watching rugby and painting walls. Odd combination. But also means that I have very little of interest to say - so I won't.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Friday, September 28, 2007

Thug


The other day at a work dinner my boss was surprised that I didn't play rugby. This isn't because I talk about it a lot. But he thought I was ideal for the scrum. He qualified this by saying it was because of my aggression. I was really quite shocked. I never thought anyone would think me aggressive. He did qualify it further when I expressed my surprise that he seemed to think I was a thug by saying it was a combination of aggression and finesse, but I don't think that reduces my surprise. However, having thought about it in more depth, I am beginning to wonder if he meant that my face looked as though I play rugby!

Once Upon A Time


Well just "Once" really. Or any incarnation of "once" paint. Because it is a lie. Always a lie. One coat is never enough. Every time I buy in hope, every time I am disappointed. I used to think it was because I would buy a light paint to go over dark, or vice versa. But no, a cream paint over magnolia still needs more than one coat. It really annoys me.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Wooing


The Labour conference is over. I do struggle to understand why those of you who support Labour fail to see how cynical they are.

You've got Yvette Cooper saying how we need more housing and that not enough has been built over the last decade. Yes, but I would point out that Labour have been in charge for that decade and that the man who is now in charge was actually the second most important person in the country during that time.

You have got Jack Straw saying we need to change the laws on self-defence. This is the poilicy that was suggested by the Conservatives two years ago and was squashed by Labour. But now, before an election, they suddenly seem to adopt a policy that will bring disenfranchised conservatives over. And how, just how, has Jack Straw been able to stop criminals on four occassions - where is he going that he manages to be in the trouble spots? Never him being attacked, but him managing to come to the rescue of others, like a rather low-rent superman.

I still haven't worked out what Brown was up to bringing Thatcher to Number 10. I admire Thatcher, I think she was good for the country (and I know that certain readers will have found their opinion of me plummet further) but I really can't work out how a Labour Prime Minister would be happy associating with the person who was the scurge of the unions.

I don't want Labour trying to woo me by adopting the policies of my party, or by hugging someone I admire. What I want is them to come out and discuss, debate, and convince me of their arguments. I will listen to debate, I will consider strong reasoning, but what I won't do is be swayed by window-dressing

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Waited

It's cold

Six floors up,

On the roof,

Even wrapped

Against the wind,

Thick clothes

Not enough

For the concrete

Below me.

And I've waited.

Lain here.

Patient,

But so cold.

Waited.

And it's now

I see you

At the window

Enlarged

In the sights

As my finger

Caresses

The trigger.

Hesitant

How easy
To sit
Here
Thinking,
Almost dreaming,
Of your hand
Brushing my face,
The warmth
Burning my cheek,
Of your smile,
Your laugh,
The spark of your eyes,
Of you knowing
That you are pushing,
Wondering how much
You can allow
Without saying yes.

How easy for me to sit,
Much easier,
Than approaching you again.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Casino Royale - Ian Flemming


Having found the film particularly bad I wonddered whether Ian Flemming could really have done such a bad job with his first Bond story. So I decided it was time to read my first Bond and see for myself. Now, you have to allow for the fact that I am in the mood for devouring books, having not read a lot recently. Even so, considering all the family things I should be doing, just over 24 hours to read it all would indicate that I had problems putting it down.

Unlike the film there was a good plot-line to the book. The characters draw you in and the atmosphere is palpable. Bond here really doesn't survive by using gadgets, he survives through a mix of some skill and some luck. He only has his wits to pit against the enemy. But the thing is, in the film there was no need to have the poisoning scene, had they stuck to the book it would have been all the more believable.

Politically not correct, it is obviously written in a different age. Bond is cold, he isn't a typical hero, but he is also a marked chauvanist. He admires women as things of beauty, things that can get the heart pumping, but does not respect them and certainly does not understand them. Interestingly he himself does not see his status as one to look up to, "to become a 00 is easy, it simply indicates you can kill in cold blood". And at the end he shows how capable he is of being cold.

Summary - bad film, great book.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

I Hope He Isn't A Betting Man


I am sorry. There is no way to describe Brown other than unlucky. I can't believe the number of things that have happened since he became president, whoops, I mean prime minister. On top of the first bank run in over 100 years, foot and mouth, terrorism etc he now has to also contend with Bluetongue.

Now, to be fair, we have been expecting Bluetongue to arrive. It was only a matter of time. What makes it unlucky is the timing. This is really a summer disease. By now we all thought that we had escaped it for this year. But no, with Gordon, it was more a case of lulling us into a false sense of security. And although as a disease not as serious as Foot and Mouth, it comes on top of a time when the agricultural industry is already reeling. It is a heavy blow.

Because....


If you are a fan of PostSecret (in fact, even if you are not because you should be) then you will like this. wdydwyd is a collection of self portraits of people saying why they do what they do. Like PostSecret some can be inspirational and some sad, but all are a door into what makes us.

And If You Show One....

The other is essential -

OK Go

I know this has been shown on other blogs before, but I still think it fantastic and worth reminding people -

Friday, September 21, 2007

Rugby World Cup


I am going to keep posts on the World Cup to a minimum in order not to antagonise my readership but - WALES WON 72-18. Good match and Japan played well but Wales were convincing.


And then Ireland lost to France tonight. Ireland might never have shown, they are really not shining.

Have It



This is a very contentious area, should organ donation be opt in or opt out. Now, straight up, I admit this isn't something that worries me. Theoretically you can use any parts of my body you want once I am gone. Practically you may have problem finding bits that are worth using, but it's the thought that counts.

There is certainly a shortage of organs. And making the assumption that all have opted in would certainly help. But there is a fair level of thought that making this assumption makes us nothing more than a walking spare part. It is a very emotive subject, the roots of which are complex. If you beleive that the body is simply a vessel to help you get around then donation is not a major concern, but if you believe that the body contains your essence then donation is a lot more important.

And I have always wondered if we will ever get to taking a brain and putting it in a body. Is it a brain transplant or a body transplant?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

My First Time


I have today taken the plunge and changed to Virgin Media. For years I have said I hate Sky, I think they are a terrible company, and I have been looking for an opportunity to change. Conversely my previous internet provider was fantastic, "Power Internet" , but they have had to concentrate more on business use and were just getting too expensive. The final clincher was the amount of spam email I was receiving, it was time to change address.

And it has been a surprisingly painless experience. They called to make sure I was OK with the time for installation (which was my first choice), they turned up and were efficient. Got the internet working relatively easily. Had a half hour argument with someone in India because there was a bit of disagreement about which package I had signed up for - I believed I should be getting the sports channels. I applied on-line for the VIP package, which includes the sports, but I didn't need the V+ box or a spare digibox (with only 1 TV in the house why would I need two boxes). I therefore unclicked for these options, just requesting one normal box. Apparently they say you have to take the package as is so they removed the sports channels even though I had left them ticked. My argument was that they shouldn't have made it possible for me to unclick an option and they shouldn't have sent an email confirming the deal. The answer seemed to be that they would send an engineer around with the two boxes I didn't want. It took a long time to explain that this would be a waste of their time and money as I didn't need or want them. The guy I was speaking to kept saying it was a better deal. I kept saying that something is only "value added" if the customer wants it, and I didn't. We finally agreed to let me have the package I wanted but not have the more expensive boxes. Allowing for me getting incredibly frustrated at one point he handled me well and all seems fine now.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Glug


I am not sure if this actually can count as news. We didn't need someone to say it. It was always obvious. Iraq was about oil. There was nothing else it could be about. Really wars come down to a few things - religion, land mass or material. We wanted their materials - in this case oil. In return we reap a religious war.

Media Monster

OK, I have to point out what a strange creature the media is. Approximately a month ago there was a foot and mouth outbreak. It proved impossible to turn on the news or lift a paper without being hit by a deluge of information. Now foot and mouth has reared up again and I have to hunt in order to find information. Where is the difference? What happened in a month?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Personal DNA

You are an Inventor

Your imagination, self-reliance, openness to new things, and appreciation for utility combine to make you an INVENTOR.

You have the confidence to make your visions into reality, and you are willing to consider many alternatives to get that done.

The full spectrum of possibilities in the world intrigues you—you're not limited by pre-conceived notions of how things should be.

Problem-solving is a specialty of yours, owing to your persistence, curiosity, and understanding of how things work.

Your vision allows you to identify what's missing from a given situation, and your creativity allows you to fill in the gaps.

Your awareness of how things function gives you the ability to come up with new uses for common objects.

It is more interesting for you to pursue excitement than it is to get caught up in a routine.

Although understanding details is not difficult for you, you specialize in seeing the bigger picture and don't get caught up in specifics.

You tend to more proactive than reactive—you don't just wait for things to come to you.

You do your own thing when it comes to clothing, guided more by practical concerns than by other people's notions of style.


If you want to be different:

Try applying your creativity to more artistic arenas, and letting your imagination take less practical forms.


how you relate to others
You are Considerate

You trust others, care about them, and are slow to judge them, making you CONSIDERATE.

You value your close relationships very much, and are more likely to spend time in small, tightly-knit groups of friends than in large crowds.

You enjoy exploring the world through observation, quietly watching others.

Relating to others so well, and understanding their emotions, leads you to trust people in general, even though you're somewhat shy and reserved at times.

Your belief that people are generally well-intentioned contributes to your sympathy regarding their problems.

Although you may not vocalize it often, you have an awareness of how society affects individuals, and you understand complex causes of people's behavior.

You like to look at all sides of a situation before making a judgment, particularly when that situation involves important things in other people's lives.

Your close friends know you as a good listener.


If you want to be different:

Because other people would benefit immensely from your understanding and insight, you should try to be more outgoing in social situations, even when they make you uncomfortable. Others will want to hear what you have to say!

So the big question is, is that really me?

Clasp

If I asked you
To hold me
Hold me close
Would you
Forgive me
If not forget

Survival


Made it. The last week is annually the toughest of the year. I have a lodge meeting, with all the learning that entails, and then BEVA, and for the last few years I have been speaking at that. Previous years have been free communications but this year was being on the panel for a workshop. That made me a "proper" speaker and I even got a gift from BEVA for speaking. Anyway the whole thing makes a very intense week, all day at the conference then out with our clients in the evening, it is non-stop. And I am usually shattered by the end of it. This year I also had a visit on the MOnday so I didn't get home until today. And I am shattered. But I survived!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Caress

Hands through hair,
Softly stroking,
A feeling
As close,
As intimate,
As possible.
To be
Allowed,
Permitted,
Welcomed,
So close.
Somehow closer
Than naked,
More defenceless
Than if revealing all.

Brrm

I needed a hire car today to get down to Stranraer. The car was to be delivered to the hotel at midday. I checked out at 1100 hrs and sat in the lobby waiting for the car to turn up. The lobby wasn't the best place for my nerves. In the lobby itself they were playing jazz, in the bar (not separated by a wall or door) they were playing Elton John, and at the front door they had a piper. I normally quite like the bagpipes but my senses were being assaulted by three different music forms and it was wearing. It got more wearing when the car didn't arrive. And very very wearing by 1230 hrs when I started making phone calls to find out what was happening. No answer to the first number, they had closed. The next number couldn't find my booking reference but gave me a third number to call. Who could find my booking but couldn't tell me anything so gave me a 4th number. In the meantime I checked with reception again and they still didn't have the keys. So I rang the fourth number and was told the car had been delivered. Strange. I went back to reception. They checked again. Then I asked whether there was any chance the keys had been taken across the road to the other building that was also part of the hotel. Reception thought it unlikely but I could go over and check. I suggested that maybe they might like to use the phone and ring across rather than me having to walk across in the pouring rain (customer, you know, person you are supposed to help, kind of thing). And surprise, surprise, the keys were there. I went and got them and was told that they were delivered at 0900 hrs but they hadn't been able to get me. Which is also strange because I was in my room.

So I found the car. I normally drive a metallic red Mazda 6, nice car, looks smart and, I think, quite sporty. So I am picking up a Fiat Punto. Which is bad enough. Then I find it and it is turquoise. OK, this is definitely going downhill. And then I realise that the inside has loads of turquoise panelling and dashboard. How girly!

Neigh


The majority of the horse owners in the UK vaccinate their horses against flu because they have to rather than because they feel it is necessary. They have to because almost everything that involves bringing horses together also involves operating under the "Jockey Club Rules" which state that horses should be vaccinated annually (as opposed to the FEI who say every 6 months, and there are some good reasons for the difference but too complicated to go into here).


So the situation in Australia should be an eye opener. With 944 infected premises (and by the time you read this it will be more because the numbers are going up very rapidly, 100 premises in the last 24 hours) this is proving devastating for the industry. Where they are lucky is that they seem to have a mild form of the virus, if they had one of the virulent ones then there would be a lot more deaths. But what it shows is that, no matter how good your biosecurity, disease can get in. Until this outbreak Australia was one of only two countries to never have had equine flu.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Rugby World Cup


I know that some readers aren't too interested in rugby. Well, it can't be avoided, here goes.

A couple of important games. Last night England v South Africa. Well embarrassing would kind of describe it. There aren't many international matches where one team doesn't score but hey, England managed it. Obviously I mean that they didn't score. Even Portugal managed to get points on the board in their match against New Zealand and, even though it was a rout (108-3) Portugal still emerged with some honour. Not so for England. Slaughter by South Africa. Almost predictable but everyone would have hoped that England would get something. Tonight Wales were wearing black armbands and I did wonder if that was to signify the death of english rugby.

Wales v Australia. OK. yes, we lost. But we lost with style. In the second half Wales seriously outscored Australia and we took the match to them. The injuries are worrying, Sonny Parker and Gareth Thomas, but there was no lying down and dying. The pivotal moment was in the second half when Stephen Jones missed a catch and the ball bounced neatly into Lathams arms for him to go over.


Ireland v Georgia was another embarrassing match. But not for Georgia, which would have been the pre-match expectation. Ireland really struggled and at one point Georgia were ahead. The final score of 14-10 to Ireland will leave the irish team looking closely at their game plan.

Me?

A hesitation
Clouding
Slowing
This second to forever
Thirty seconds
Longer
Than an evening
And all the words
The accidental touch
Forgotten
In the thought
Of what if
Of self doubt

Friday, September 14, 2007

Clean Clean

I don’t understand how the word “Hilton” is so synonymous with “hotel”. I am almost invariably disappointed when I stay in them. I expect them to be good but they never live up to the name. And I just get really frustrated with hotels that have small baths and lightweight shower curtains. I understand physics so I know hot air rises. This means that the air in the area curtained off will be trying to rise (I suppose you could have a cold shower and this would prevent the following problem but I am not convinced that cold showers are the true answer). As the air is trying to rise then something has to come in to replace it. So the shower curtain is pulled inwards unless it is a good quality heavy one. As it is pulled inwards it comes in contact with the body trying to have a shower. And, as the body is wet, the curtain then sticks. So instead of a nice shower you end up with this cold, often slightly mouldy, material clinging to you.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Apple

Although I haven’t been learning my lines as well as I should, I also haven’t been reading. I love reading and I am missing my books this year. With the second degree over I felt I could do a bit of reading for a week. With a trip to Edinburgh for work I decided I could take a book. Only problem being that I thought I only needed to take one book. But, having not read anything for quite a while, I devoured the book. So I was in Scotland for a week but I managed to read my book within the first 24 hours!

And so, to the book - “The Apple” by Michael Faber. A sequel to “The Crimson Petal and The White”. Or a sort of sequel. In fact you could pick it up without having read the first. It was, in essence, a collection of short stories. Trying to give a bit more background to the characters in the novel. Either revealing a bit of their past or their future. Not enough to answer any questions. Readers of “The Crimson Petal” are probably split into two camps - those who love the ending and those that hate it. Because, as an ending, it leaves more unanswered than answered. It is left for the reader to think what might happen to the central figures. “The Apple” does not interfere with your thoughts, it doesn’t steer you to a final point, but it maybe points you in a direction for some, but not all, of the people you have grown to know.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Passed

A second degree ceremony. I have to admit that, for a number of reasons, I did not feel that I had learnt my lines as well as I should. And, for some of the same and some different reasons, I hadn’t managed to make any of the rehearsals. My confidence was not good. But the hour was upon us, and there was no going back. In fact it all went reasonably well. I did need some prompting, in fact normally at the easier bits because I would get through a difficult bit and think “phew” at which point I would then lose track of where I was and what came next. But the officers of the lodge did a good job, they knew their roles well, and it all went smoothly. Of course the ceremony is about the candidate and I think he enjoyed it. As a ceremony it is slightly less “intense” for the candidate and he has more time to work out what is going on around him, it is an opportunity to “drink in” the atmosphere. And then the after proceedings went well - food, drink and convivial company. A pleasant way to spend an evening.

No Running

Doing the school run in the morning you quickly realise something. As you stand in the playground you can see that children hunt in packs. And it is scarey.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Press Release

International Rugby Board (IRB) Rugby World Cup 2007

Following complaints to the IRB about the All Blacks being allowed to motivate themselves by performing the ‘Haka’ before their games, other nations were asked to suggest pre-match rituals of their own. The IRB Rugby World Cup 2007 Organizing Committee has now agreed to the following pre-match displays:

1) The England team will chat about the weather, wave hankies in the air and attach bells to their ankles before moaning about how they invented the game and gave it to the world, but no one appreciates them.

2) The Scotland team will chant “You lookin’ at me Jimmy?” before each of them smash a bottle of beer over their opponents’ heads.

3) The Ireland team will split into two, with the Southern half performing a Riverdance, while the Northerners march the Traditional route from their dressing room to the pitch, via their opponents dressing room.

4) Unfortunately the Committee was unable to accept the Welsh proposal to form a choir and sing Tom Jones’ “It’s Not Unusual”.

5) Argentina will unexpectedly invade a small part of opposition territory, claim it as their own “Las In-Goals-Areas” and have to be forcibly removed by the match stewards.

6) Two members of the South African team will claim to be more important than the other 13 whom they will imprison between the posts. These two will then go about selecting the best parts of the pitch to settle on and claim that they have been there for centuries.

7) The Americans will not attend until almost full time. In future years they will amend the records to show that they were in fact the most important team in the tournament and Hollywood will make a blockbuster fi lm called ‘Saving Flanker Ryan’.

8) Five of the Canadian team will sing La Marseillaise and hold the rest of the team to ransom.

9) The Italian team will arrive in Armani gear, sexually harass the female officials and then prepare pasta dishes, which they will flog to the crowd for a fortune.

10) The Japanese will shock fans buy demonstrating how to capture a whale for scientifi c research buy harpooning an opposition prop.

11) The French won’t have a pre-match display and will simply hide in fear in the dressing room for the whole match.

12) The Australians will have a BBQ on their side of the fi eld and invite the opposition over before the game. The food and alcohol will be in abundance and by the start of the game no-one will remember what they came to the stadium for. After some streaking, the singing of dirty songs and the occasional chunder everyone will go home thoroughly convinced it was a bloody
good night.

13) The Moroccan team will quietly pray during the first half and then launch suicide attacks against the opposition after the break. Unfortunately, this strategy works well for the first game only, after which Morocco is forced to withdraw from the Rugby World Cup due to lack of players.

14) Samoa will prepare a huge feast in the middle of the pitch by digging a large hole and fi lling it with burning embers. They invite the opposition over by saying, “We’d like to have you for dinner”. It’s only when the opposition get to the pit that they realize there is no meat and that they are the dinner!

Hopefully, with these policies now in place, further problems is this area of the game should cease to exists.

Regards,
Syd Miller
IRB Chairman
THE INTERNATIONAL RUGBY BOARD
Huguenot House 35-38 St Stephen’s Green Dublin 2 Ireland
Tel: 00 353 1 240 9200 • FAX: 00 353 1 240 9201

Monday, September 10, 2007

Sticky


This is a second spider story because I have to add a further comment to the previous story but don't want to spoil it. So you need to read this story before you come to the end of the following:

In Tawakoni State Park in Texas the rangers have found a web covering 180 metres. Before you call in Mulder and Scully however it was not one VERY VERY big spider. Instead it seems that the spiders have been getting together. Social co-operation on a grand scale. Makes you wonder what they are hoping to catch though.

And the reason this is a spoiler for the previous story - well, you need to look up the translation of voegel, then consider the type of spiders eating him.

Creepy Crawlie


[High warning rating for those scared of spiders]


If my warning about camels wasn't enough, the following will make your skin creep.


Mark Voegel, resident of Dortmund, was one of those people who just loved keeping the more exotic type of animal. He had a collection that would have done a zoo proud. Which would have been fine, except that his pet black widow spider, Bettina, bit him. Fatally.

Now Mark was a bit of a loner (possibly no surprise there then). So his body went undetected for two weeks. Over which time he was gradually consumed by his collection of over 200 spiders, a gecko (called Helmut), numerous snakes, and finally several thousand termites which escaped from their tank.

A police spokesman said "It was like a horror movie. Giant webs were draped over him - spiders were all over him. They were coming out of his nose and his mouth. Larger pieces of flesh torn off by the lizards were scooped up and taken back to the webs of tarantulas and other bird-eating spiders."

I have heard that people become like their pets. In this case he became part of his pets.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Missing


OK, I know that this won't be popular, but isn't there something strange about the fact that the moment they are under suspicion the McCanns have come home. A lot of things seem strange. For an hour and a half after the children were put to bed no-one checked on them, then they were checked three times in 20 minutes. Then the way the whole thing has evolved. No-one saw Maddy taken. The other children not able to give any clues. Was there really blood in a car that was still left in the drive?
I don't know the answer, no-one does. And I hope that I am just overly suspicious. But I think a lot of people are going to end up very angry.

White Settlers

Rant coming -

I have just seen a program called something like "Crisis at Jamies Farm". And it has so annoyed me. B...y amateurs trying to play at farming. And all they do is destroy the environment and lead to suffering of animals. Farming IS NOT easy. It is not something that you can just decide to do with no experience. Yes, try your hand at a smallholding. Take on a couple of animals. But don't try farming on a proper scale because it is a damn hard job. I have seen too many animals suffer needlessly because rank amateurs tried looking after them and "organic" believers thought it would be wrong to use medicines when their animals were suffering. If I have a lung infection then I want to be on antibiotics, why is it so wrong that our animals should expect the same?

Wales 42 Canada 17


So the good news is that Wales beat Canada. I would have liked it to be a bit more convincing however. Apart from a 25 minute spell in the second half when Wales scored most of their points it really was quite worrying. I could even see Wales going down at one point. Bringin on Gareth Thomas made the difference. I have never rated Kevin Morgan and today did nothing to change my mind. Gareth Thomas brings vision and power into the backs and lends a cohesiveness that is essential. Some will say it was Stephen Jones coming on to replace Hook that paved the way, but I believe it was Thomas.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Jocks

Great. This is a really sporty weekend.

Apparently there was some football but I don't know anything about that so we can gloss over it.

Then there is rugby. The start of a lot of rugby. A startling win by Argentina over France last night (with France being hosts not the start they wanted). It was a good match, and Argentina definitely deserved to win. Then today Australia thrashed Japan and New Zealand thrashed Italy, as expected. Only for England to struggle against America. Yes England won, but considering that America are made up of mainly amateurs the small margin is nothing to be proud of.

And the cricket. England thrashed India to win the one day series. It has been a strange series. Some games England have completely dominated then others India have had the ascendancy. Nothing could match the last game a couple of days ago that India won with two balls to go (and if Anderson hadn't been bowling England would have won). Consistency is the next thing to aim for. At times England can be so exciting to watch and at others I just want to hang my head in shame.

And a Grand Prix as well. Just so much to watch and listen to.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Oh Whoops

Please excuse the language but:





Hic and Double Hic


I heard the guy who runs Wetherspoons being interviewed on Radio 4 this morning. He was great to listen to, the voice just conjured up an ageing hippie. But the point he was making was that the underage drinking laws are being taken too seriously, it would be better to turn a blind eye.

It seems a difficult area. What age should we taste alcohol, what age can we start drinking. I admit to belonging to the camp that believes if you make something illegal then you also make it attractive. Tell a child that they can't drink then they will want to do so. From an early age let them try it then they will decide that there is nothing so "big" about it and it loses attraction.

But I thought about when I first had a drink. I can remember breaking out from school (boarding house). Well, I was smart, I didn't need to break out. I had the masters trust so I could walk out the front door. And walk back in that way as well as long as I wasn't spotted. But I am ashamed to say that for some reason "Pernod and black" seems to stick in the mind. I have a horrid feeling that I used to drink those.

Streetlife

Sitting at this table
Glass of wine
Book in hand
Untouched
Unread
Watching all
Thinking
Where you are
Bodies brushing past
Nudge here
Touching
Yet not
My world
Disconnected
My mind
Trying to find you

Thursday, September 06, 2007

In Requiem


Pavarotti has died, age 71. He was a big man with a big voice, a great voice. He managed to bring opera to the masses, an amazing feat when opera is seen as being for the clique. But he was known when he wasn't even at his peak. You need to go back to the early 70's to hear his voice at its fullest, most expressive. He will be remembered for Nessun Dorma but he achieved a lot more.

Squish


This is a ridiculously addictive game. "Jelly Battle". I think it is the fact that you play against others. Anyway, simple premise for the game. You are a jelly baby jumping around on a keyboard. Keys can do diffferent things, such as give you powers or damage your opponents. Last one standing is the winner. There is a ranking system depending on how well you do.

And I normally don't like jelly babies.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Say Cheese


You see, it's alright to say that they are so cwute, but really they are little hooligans. For all the pretence, getting everyone to impersonate them by wriggling their noses and putting paws under their faces, meerkats have a criminal streak. It is simply irresponsible to go using other peoples cameras, especialy taking a top end model and just using it for family piccies. There's a reason why a group of meerkats is called a mob.

Big Brother..........


................is certainly trying to watch you. Lord Justice Sedley has suggested that we should all go on the DNA register, even people visiting the UK. The argument is that there are already a lot of people on, with an unfair proportion of ethnic minorities, and that other people who could be convicted by DNA are walking free. I am afraid I don't buy this idea. I ahve no problems with having ID cards, I have always said that why worry if you have nothing to hide. But keeping DNA records is invading privacy. It is one thing for me to carry proof of who I am, quite another for someone to have who I am on record.
If there is an imbalance that needs addressing then it should work the other way. Don't keep records indefinitely. The length of time they are kept should vary depending on the reason why it was taken in the first place. Or if there isn't a conviction then delete the records. But don't turn us into a country that Orwell or Huxley would have been pleased to write about.

Goodbyeee


I try to play down the "security" bit of what we do at Greenbelt. After all, Greenbelt is one of the safest festivals you can think about going to. But we do have to watch out for locals coming in without tickets. To be honest most of them wouldn't do any harm, it's simply that they are bored, but every year we have to evict a few off site. And eviction normally needs 4-6 of us to herd the person off, we don't touch anyone so it is sheer physical presence that steers them in the right direction.

One evening I was walking along when a group of approximately 10 lads came towards me. You get used to scanning them quickly with your eyes. They seemed OK, carrying water and soft drinks but that was all. Except one of them, who seemed to shift something to his off-hand and suddenly picked up speed slightly. Just enough to make me think something was wrong (I sometimes wonder how I ended up in charge of a team, but maybe that is why). I called him, he speeded up, so I caught up with him. He stopped and sure enough there was a can of beer in his hand. I explained that beer wasn't allowed out of the camp site or the pub. As he handed me the can I realised he didn't have a wrist band. I told him that without a wristband he would have to leave the site. I was ready to call in some back up, especially as I was expecting his 9 mates to come back. And my wingman had disappeared. I was feeling a bit exposed. But as we talked we walked towards the gates. And before I knew it I had escorted him off site. All rather strange as I had to radio it in to control after the event, normally we would inform them while it was happening. Possibly the easiest eviction I have ever known.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Hum

I am now going to steal a story.

One of the Venue steward managers thought he saw something unusual in a lift in the grandstand. He went over to the lift and pressed the call button. When the lift arrived the doors opened. And he was greeted by a four piece band in coat and tails. They explained that the theme of Greenbelt was "Heaven in Ordinary" and what could be more ordinary than a lift.

I love Greenbelt.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Twizzlers


Knee jerk policies. Always wrong. And that has been the problem of Labour. Knee jerk. Go for anything popular. So when good ol' Jamie complained about turkey twizzlers then good ol'Tony decided to have a policy. Which has completely backfired. Instead of increasing the number of children eating school dinners it has actually reduced the number. Way to go.
{Sorry about the picture, terrible pun}

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Blindspot


I suppose many people don't think about golf buggy design. But Squeak has reminded me of something else. Golf buggies are not designed for late night driving. As you will see from the picture they have a notable omission in that there are no windscreen wipers. In addition they do not have air-con. By the time we had finished the sweep it was about 3 am. A mist had descended. There was distinct moisture in the air. And the windscreens had misted up. So driving down the hill entailed the driver and the wing-man on pillion to both hang out of the side of the buggy so that they could see where they were going. I somehow feel that the image so generated did not help what little street cred I may have.

Put Put

The Support Team are developing a reputation for being "in the know" and for getting the most exciting work. This is not something that I want to undermine, after all I want more people to apply to join us next year. But it can reach amusing levels.

One night Zippie and I were called to attend an issue as quickly as possible and to get some teams there. We were in the vicinity and we soon had four stewards there. The matter was resolved smoothly. But later we were approached by someone who had been listening in on the radio. He commented on how we had an exciting role. Then he asked us to explain the code words we used. We looked blankly and asked for further explanation. He said "well I heard you earlier, go on, tell me what "Steamboat" means". It was heart breaking to tell him that the call had been to attend the steamboat stall. {for those not in the know, the steamboat stall sells small boats made of tin that run on candle power by producing steam}

An Answer


"One Pedestrian" is certainly challenging our perception of Greenbelt in this post. And the comments from others seem to show that there is more than a grain of truth in what she has written. This is important because it means that there is an aspect of Greenbelt that we really need to consider and examine. There are certainly challenges to us as individuals and to Greenbelt as a whole.

On the individual issue, I honestly believe that, for the majority of people I know who do work at Greenbelt, it is not about wanting to be important or elitist. In fact, over the years, I think those who did see it that way have been wittled out. So the majority simply want to give something back to Greenbelt and to other people. And often it is simply that when a new job comes up some of us aren't very good at ducking quickly!

While it is true that the "team", the "work", and all that entails, is now my Greeneblt experience and it is what I love, it doesn't mean that I would feel that I didn't belong if I wasn't doing it. My first year (1982) at Greenbelt I was part of a group, the next two years I went by myself and had as good a time because I talked to new people. I started stewarding in my fourth year because I had gone to uni and couldn't afford the ticket but I still wanted to be at Greenbelt (stewards get in free). I continued stewarding because I found it rewarding to do something for the festival.

So, is Greenbelt a place for singletons? That is a difficult question because we are all different, some of us enjoy a time of being alone while some don't. Some enjoy being part of a group, some enjoy being alone but with people around them, while others just want to be alone. While it may seem trite, computer games are a good example. You can play a game on your own computer, completely unconnected to the rest of the world. Or you can go for a multi-player on-line game and join with others as you go on your raids. Or you may join the on-line game but "solo", enjoying working by yoourself but being surrounded by others.
But Greenbelt is possibly the one place where you can be sure that a complete stranger will be more than happy to share a cup of tea with you and discuss religion, politics or simply what is your favourite book. Say hello and you will be greeted with a smile.
There is, however, a certain amount of "as tick follows tock". Because if you go as a singleton and meet people then the following year you are likely to meet up with them and are no longer a "singleton".

Yes the strength may be in group participation. But a group can be made up of a number of single people. The atmosphere at a rock concert, or a sports match, isn't becuase everyone knows each other but because you have a group "want". That is what is behind Greenbelt, a group desire, the group being all 20000 people who are there. Small groups may have their own desires and their own objectives, but there is still an overwhelming desire that is Greenbelt.

That said, I think that some of us should make it our aim to improve the Greenbelt experience for singletons.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Yes You In The Back Row


As well as running the Support Team, Zippie and I run the on-site basic training for new stewards. This also acts as a refresher for those who have been stewarding for a while but want to come along. It is proper training, in that there is a lot of interaction, audience participation and role plays. We hope that people have a good time as well as learning something. In fact I think stewarding calls on life skills that everyone has, so it is really a case of helping them see that there is nothing scarey about stewarding so that they can go out and enjoy it.

We try to make sure the atmosphere is light-hearted. This does have a drawback in that we open ourselves up for a lot of heckling. Worst of all are the Support team when they come along. They were due to come to the Thursday session. On Wednesday night they were sitting up late and obviously thought I had gone to bed. Because I could overhear them plotting. They were trying to come up with long words for me to write on the flip-chart. They were quite surprised when I came out and said goodnight, adding "and I will sleep soundly because I know no-one is going to have long words at the training tomorrow". I am pleased to report that they failed to beat me on the day.

The role plays went well. Although most people hate the idea of them I really do believe that role plays can be a massive help. This year we kept the groups slightly larger and I think that helped people overcome their inhibitions. One group who were supposed to be discontented campers in a queue actually worked themselves up so much that it was frightening.