Monday, October 30, 2006

The whole tooth

This weekend, I went back to Wimborne, my home town, and spent £161 at the dentist. I feel like Martin Amis. But without the literary talent, misguided penchant for 9/11 reimaginings, or letter from Julian Barnes telling me to fuck off. Anyway, my teef have now been scaled to the max, and my first-ever filling hangs snugly in the top-back-right corner of my mouth, like a stumpy stalagtite in a dripping and echoey cave.

The rest of my weekend was sandwiched between the two dentist appointments like a ketchup-splattered slice of smoked enamel. On Saturday, I went to look round stately home Kingston Lacy, which was the family seat of the Bankes family from the 17th century. It's got quite a history - Pitt the Younger and the Duke of Wellington both stayed there at some point - and it was pimped by Sir Charles Barry, who also 'did' the Houses of Parliament. The house is filled with cool bric-a-brac, including the keys to Corfe Castle, and rather unexpectedly, paintings by Van Dyck, (Jan) Brueghel the Younger, and a nice pair of Titians (okay, I'm lying, there was only one, but they should buy in another just so people can use the 'nice Titians' gag with impunity).

Kingston Lacy, obviously
After that, popped over to Badbury Rings, our local iron age hill fort. Communed with the spirits of the past, took a photo of a sheep. That place rocks.

In case you're worried all this history talk is signalling that the Electric Goose is getting high-brow and worthy, here's Kate Winslet in yesterday's Sunday Times:

"With All the King's Men, in which there was a little bit of nudity, I thought, 'Well, that's it; my nudity days are over... Then I read the script of Little Children and thought, 'This is really good, but there's lots of nudity in it.' I knew the film wouldn't work if those scenes weren't there though.'"

Now answer me this: are there any films in which La Winslet doesn't get naked?

Ms Winslet, clothed

Friday, October 27, 2006

Goethe on cabbage

"It is good that my heart can feel the simple and innocent pleasure a man knows when the cabbage he eats at table is one he grew himself; the pleasure he takes not only in eating the cabbage but in remembering all those good days, the fine morning he planted it, the mellow evenings he watered it and the delight he felt in its daily growth."
The Sorrows of Young Werther, Goethe

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Pretentious?

What I've been up to: yesterday I ate some M&S Madagascar Vanilla Lakemead Yoghurt, then I went to the Velazquez exhibition at the National Gallery.

I WIN.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Smoking / sprinting

My smoking habit vacillates rapidly between controlled abstinence and wild excess. I'm like a top sprinter who never does any exercise: most of the time I don't 'train' (smoke) at all, but I'm always conscious there's a 'race' (big night out / awkward social occasion) looming, in which I'll suddenly find myself warming up (fishing a cigarette lighter out of the drawer), putting my special running shoes on (going to the shop to buy ten Marlboro Lights) and competing on a world stage (smoking a lot of cigarettes in a short space of time). Of course, before the big races that I compete in actually take place, I occasionally think of doing some practice (having the odd fag) and the thought does excite me a little. But it's usually only the presence of other long-time fellow athletes (friends who I've always shared a cigarette break with) who make me want to get back in shape (give myself lung cancer).

My beliefs

I believe that journalism can change the world. I believe in moral integrity. I believe that in these times, more than ever we need strong opinions, questioning minds and daring writing. It is imperative that writers stand up for their values and put pen to paper with no regard for word counts or paycheques. That is why I have written a piece that no one else had the gall to write. This is the story the world needed to hear. Read it now.

Instant Messenger conversation

Hit It and Quit It says:
How's your French?

Sir Tim Berners Lee says:
Il y a assez bientot

Sir Tim Berners Lee says:
J'ai dire le Frencais tres peu

Hit It and Quit It says:
Wanna move to Paris and share an apartment? France Today TV are recruiting

Sir Tim Berners Lee says:
Yeah okay. Meet me outside the Louvre on Friday afternoon

Sir Tim Berners Lee says:
Bring a beret

Hit It and Quit It says:
C'est vraiment!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Hot Fuzz

This will be phat.

Bolt Action 5 / Dan Sartain / Back to the Future 3

On Saturday I went to see the band Angry Tom manages, Bolt Action 5. There are, of course, only four of them. They are all ridiculously young, look amazing, and have a healthy love of drum machines. A good sign: when they finished, there were girls queuing up to speak to them. That's not a metaphor: they were literally queuing. Their first single's going to be released on Tom's new label, the excellently-named No Pain in Pop (tagline: "I'm not going to lie to you, we're kind of a big deal"). Have a listen here.

This afternoon housemate Jamie, who I have unfairly maligned in this very weblog for the outrageous work perks he gets, got us guestlisted for Dan 'bring your gun and I'll bring my knife' Sartain at the Barfly. I can't be bothered writing an overlong encomium describing how ace it was, so I'll just say 'that man totally rocks'.

Dan Sartain
He has something of the Steve Buscemi about him,
don't you think? Check out the bassist, what a beard.


Excited drinking boys standing behind us: "This is amazing. It's only 3.30 in the afternoon and we're well on the way."

Dan SartainDan loves his snakes. Turn round and face me Sartain!

On the way home I bought some t-shirts from Camden market. I couldn't resist them, I'm sorry.

T-shirts

As we neared home, I suggested to Jamie we watch Back to the Future. We'd both seen the first film the other week, but as we were both exhausted and needed something light, we went for number three in the series as I thought the second film would probably be too complicated.

I've said before that re-watching the Back to the Future films is great, as there's always something new to spot. This time was no exception. When Doc's about to send Marty back to the 1885 Wild West, he says, "And remember, where you're going, there are no roads." A clever echo of the final line of the first film ("Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads"). Fantastic.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Watch us wreck the Nike

Great stuff from my friend Angry Tom who writes, in an email:
Went to a Nike focus group last night. Heads of Nike Europe watched us from a balcony. They were not impressed with me. Rich's brother organised it. Afterwards he told me: "They wanted some rocawear-loving rude men. Instead they got you clowns. If I ran Nike Europe and I flew in from Amsterdam to listen to you tell him that his new sportswear range looked like Alan Partridge in Flashdance and I'd paid couple of grand for the privilege, I'd be pissed off too."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Headline of the week

Story about how the Daily Mail newspaper ended up looking silly after publishing two contradictory stories on Romania in the same issue:

Mail impaled on its mania for Romania


Full story

Hazy Sunday afternoon

My memories of Saturday night are dreamlike and muddled, and still – even this late in the game - dripping back into my head. I got to a house party at around midnight. And after that, I'm remember these things happening:

  • Sitting on the stairs while a slightly distressed looking girl told me over and over again about the time she saw a UFO. "It looked very much like a black binbag, but it was flying above the height that black binbags can fly – and it was moving with real purpose."
  • Telling all and sundry that Rachel Steven's Sweet Dreams My LA-Ex was "the best pop song of the past ten years"
  • Asking a bespectacled hippy what 'life story version B' was and being told he worked for the cheese mafia in Switzerland. Asking if he was Swiss. "No, I'm Australian." Then telling him that I didn't like Australians
  • Lying on Chris's bed listening to songs from Tamil movies and smoking Royals
  • Shouting about the special fuchsia t-shirt range
  • The whole house party stopping for two New Zealanders to do the Haka in the centre of the lounge
  • Getting home around 3.30am and finding the front door of our house wide open
  • Eating a pork pie and switching on the TV to see John McCririck lying in bed drinking champagne and being berated by Edwina Currie

Actually, scratch that last one, it seems far too unlikely. But what's going on? Whenever I go out properly these days, I have nights that turn weird. It's great! Here's one. And here's another (from an email to housemate Jamie):

My Akira the Don interview all went a bit gonzo, and turned into a surreal Shoreditch drinking session. I can remember joining him behind the decks to tell him that Meatloaf's Bat out of Hell made me cry once, and some girl asking me what my star-sign was, and a band whose singer looked like Garth Marenghi, and the guy who ran the record label drawling "there's free tequila at the bar". Oh, and someone smacking me with some mini bondage whip as I left. But there's still much haziness. And Akira kept introducing me to people as 'William' because I’d said I had a special affinity to the Smiths' song William, It Was Really Nothing.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Stockwell Flats: Beckett House

"Then I went back into the house and wrote, It is midnight. The rain is beating on the windows. It was not midnight. It was not raining."
Samuel Beckett, Molloy






Stockwell flats slideshow

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Blair flair

The scene: Prime Minister's Questions this afternoon. Tory leader David Cameron reads out comments the PM made in January in which Tony Blair said he was happy for Gordon Brown to succeed him.

"Do you still think that today?" Cameron asks.

Blair hesitates, then - waiting for the wild jeering from Conservative MPs to die down - eventually says: "I don't resile from anything I've said."

[re‧sile  /rɪˈzaɪl/
–verb (used without object), -siled, -sil‧ing.
1. to spring back; rebound; resume the original form or position, as an elastic body.
2. to shrink back; recoil.]


There is a school of thought that says Blair is a complete legend. Today they will be rejoicing. Resile!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Jarvcast

It's strange to say, but there's something incredibly reassuring about Jarvis Cocker reading Icelandic folk tales to you on a Sunday night in winter. I strongly recommend you get the first four Jarvcasts from iTunes, or you can download the first two from JarvSpace. I have a particular fondness for Jarvcast 3, because it features him repeatedly saying the word 'bulb', which reminds me of both my girlfriend and Karl Pilkington.

In other news, North Korea have conducted their first nuclear test and scientists are saying that for the rest of 2006 mankind will be living beyond its environmental means. But having listened to the Jarvis stories, I'm like, "Yeah, whatever."

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Quiet life

Whenever I'm knackered and just want a quiet Saturday and Sunday relaxing, it'll get to Friday and someone at work will ask me what I'm up to at the weekend.

"I'm knackered, so I'm gonna stay in and do nothing," I'll have to say, and the acquaintance - who won't realise I've had a particularly sociable and tiring week - will raise their eyebrows and think, "He has no mates and nothing to do. What a loser."

Possible solution 1. Instead of saying I plan to "do nothing", I could go into more detail and name every little thing I'm aiming to do. So: "I'm knackered, so I'm just going to try and watch Oldboy, Apt Pupil, 2046, In the Mood for Love and a bit of That Mitchell and Webb Look. Then read some of Hisham Matar's In the Country of Men, a bit of Girl With a One Track Mind by Abby Lee, and Cornelius Medvei's Mr Thundermug. Might pop to the shops to buy a picture frame, probably after I've had fish and chips for lunch and hoovered the lounge. It'll probably also involve aimlessly playing a bit of guitar when I feel the boredom closing in. And you?"

Possible solution 2. Give more precise excuses for why I'll be "doing nothing". "For me, this week has been dominated by the kind of lascivious wasailing I've hitherto only dreamt of, featuring friends of all ages, genders and colours, old and new, celebrity and hermit. I've probably only had a total of 14 minutes' sleep since 1992, so I'll probably stay in, for the first time, well, ever actually. You?"

Retronyms

I've learnt a fun new word: 'retronym'. A retronym describes an item renamed because of the arrival of a newer version which renders its label outdated or no longer unique. So, 'World War One' is a retronym, because it wasn't called that until World War Two came along. As are 'acoustic guitar', 'black and white TV', 'Before Christ' and 'silent film'.

Here are some less obvious ones, which I enjoyed:

- Forward slash: before MS-DOS introduced the backslash ( \ ), what we now call the forward slash was known simply as 'a slash'
- George HW Bush: Bush Senior didn't use his initials publicly until his son Dubya became President
- Cold-water tap: it was just 'the tap' before the invention of the water heater


More retronyms here

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Damn his eyes

First he got to go to dinner in Paris. Then they sent him for a long weekend of clubbing in Ibiza. Today, there's another one to add to the list of places my bastard housemate has got to go 'for work': Nashville. Grrr.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Cameron chameleon?

After David Cameron's first conference speech as party leader, we take a look at the man who over the last year has taken the phrase 'jack of all trades' to a whole new level, from Dave the dad to Cameron the carpenter.
Read article...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Lessons learned from... An Inconvenient Truth

Al Gore is, like, totally cool.


Other lessons learned

Saluting Sartain

Dan Sartain - he's the new Johnny Cash. Or the next Jack White. Or something. Read my very gushing review of his album Join Dan Sartain here, why don't you.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Top of the corpse

Today it was revealed that James Blunt's Goodbye My Lover is, according to the Bereavement Register, the most requested song for funerals. How depressing.

For some reason, I've always had quite a firm idea of the tunes I'd like played at my funeral; I even created a playlist called "Will's funeral" on my housemate's computer featuring the songs I want. Just in case something happened to me and some cack-handed acquaintance ended up choosing their own music. There's not much reasoning behind these (no resonant lyrics, a la Candle in the Wind), they're just songs I couldn't do without. They are:

1. Visions of Johanna - Bob Dylan
2. Typical Girls - The Slits
3. Duchess - Scott Walker

Come on then, what are yours?