Saturday, June 28, 2003
Monday, June 23, 2003
I ordered the said Paddy McAloon CD from a new online retailer (well, new to me, anyway - they are probably extremely well known for this kind of thing) called CD-Wow! The price was excellent (£8.99), they offer free delivery, and I'd have the CD in 5 - 7 working days apparently. So I placed the order on Friday morning, and forgot all about it. Until this morning, when the parcel arrived (that's next working day, then), postmarked Hong Kong. I'm rather impressed.
Saturday, June 21, 2003
It hadn't really passed me by - I still see quite a bit of news and so on, but it was quite a surprise to discover just how much excitement there has been today. It's Harry Potter Day. The boys and I were in Milton Keynes, and at every turn, we were confronted by wizards, owls and Ford Anglias. Even the shops which had nothing to do with it were showing HP videos or something. I remember big book launches from my time in the trade, but this is absurd. Each shop is vying with the others to offer the best deal - if you are actually trying to buy the thing, your head must be spinning. Ottakars are running a fancy dress competition, and the shop is full of children dressed as teenage wizards, not to mention the staff. My favourite is a nine- or ten-year old boy, immaculately turned out in the full Potter gear, and it has to be said, very pleased with himself. His excitable parents are ushering him round the shop, pointing him at the staff, and exclaiming "Look! He's got a real scar on his forehead. Right here..." He has, too.
Thursday, June 19, 2003
Paddy McAloon has finally released a new album, and it's magnificent. In fact, it's probably beyond magnificent - a reflection in music and words (not 'lyrics'; words) of the process of being suddenly and possibly permanently, blind, it's not 'pop music' in any recognisable form, but it's probably the music this gifted, intelligent musician was born to make. Breathtaking at first listen, I can't imagine how much I'm going to come to love this.
OK, that's a lie. I went on a boat. (This boat, if you're interested). It's tied pretty firmly to the Embankment just opposite the Oxo tower, so a bit of mild bobbing was as nautical as it got. I sat and politely listened to a number of presentations, learned a few small but potentially useful things, very politely laughed sympathetically in that nice British way we have when IIS fell over during a demonstration, had a very pleasant barbecued lunch, managed to stay awake in the afternoon, and marveled once again at companies putting people in front of audiences they wish to impress without first at least letting them rehearse what they are going to say. Only one of todays speakers was what you might call proficient at it, and he stood out a mile.
Afterwards, I fended off several slightly panicked phone calls from my staff, explained carefully how to resolve the problem which was causing the panic, and rewarded myself with some very nice cold beer at the Head of Steam before trundling home on the train. Well, it was a different day, anyway.
Wednesday, June 18, 2003
It's an unnerving experience. The aquisition of a new suite of offices has turned into a full-blown rebuilding project, which was originally designed to proceed in simple, self-contained stages with people only moved at the last minute once their new accommodation was ready. However, owing to the sheer impossibility of getting anyone to agree to anything, or even to stop changing their minds for 30 seconds, it's all being done randomly, and none of it is being finished properly. So here we sit, temporarily in the middle of the office, covered in dust, unable to hear anything thanks to the incessant drilling and banging, subject to all the passing conversations since we're in the middle of what was the corridor.
And every half hour someone else comes round and asks for their telephone or PC to be moved - often it's the same person several times in a row. So I'm slowly going mad, and in the end, we'll be squeezed into slightly less space. Hmm.
Never mind: tomorrow, I'm going on a boat on the Thames for the day.
Tuesday, June 17, 2003
I've also not been well, but I'm pretty much better now, thanks. What's left appears to be hayfever, and, as such is merely an irritant
I popped out at lunchtime - the office is currently a building site, so any relief from the dust and noise is welcome - in order to go and do some shopping, it being close to various birthdays. Once I had done the necessary, I thought I'd follow up a post on the Radio 3 messageboard, and zoomed up to Superdrug (not my usual port of call for CDs, but anyway) and bought myself this:
That'll be all 15 Shostakovich symphonies. 11 CDs. A decent edition, too - Rudolf Barshai, recorded within the last ten years. Grand total? £6.49.
No, the decimal point isn't in the wrong place. Even if they were average quality (which they're not), 43p per symphony would be good value. I tell you, I'd have been pleased to get 11 blank CDs for that price... I'm off for a lie down.
Friday, June 06, 2003
Most odd. Just like having 'flu, only without the cold symptoms. Aches, pains, high temperature, dizziness, that sort of thing. A long night's sort-of sleep seemed to sort it out, but left me feeling like I'd been ill for weeks. So, I'm a bit quiet.
Hasn't stopped me updating this, though. If you feel you might be in the vicinity over the summer, just let me know; you'd be most welcome.
Sunday, June 01, 2003
I was woken this morning by the news that the kitchen was infested. Not entirely unexpected, as will become clear. I struggled into some form of clothes, and staggered downstairs to face the enemy. It seems that every year, around Whitsun, out come the ants. Quite who is responsible for telling the ants that it's the end of May, I'm not sure, but there you are. As my eyes gradually unfog and begin to focus on the kitchen floor, I can see that I'm in for a day of military activity. The ants have established a bridgehead at the strategic hall/kitchen border, and have strong supply lines snaking across under the kitchen table, where there may or may not be the odd disused pea. Other raiding parties are striking out for an interesting-loking Ribena stain deeper into the kitchen, and a few enterprising souls are heading off randomly, but full of hope and determination.
First avenue of attack - last year's crawling insect spray. Alas, there's not even propellant left in the can. Boiling water's out - not at this time in the morning; I'd only pour it on my feet, and in any case, I have no idea where they're coming from. So, kitchen cleaner with bleach, then. Well, it's certainly fatal to them; the ant forces take some heavy casualties early on, but I'm left with dozens of corpses to deal with, and a strong smell of bleach at the breakfast table. As I gather the matériel required to mop up, I realise that a second wave has been launched, and I can't tell where they're coming from. None of last year's entry points have any ants near them, and there's no other obvious way in. Slowly it dawns on me that they're coming up the hall from the front door - struggling antfully over the lip, past the draught excluder, through the doormat, and up the relatively ant-unfriendly carpet. Pausing only to applaud their strength of purpose, I break out the Dyson Of Doom. A few minutes of cyclonic vacuum, and the invasion is over. For now, anyway. I quickly apply washing up liquid to the strategic parts of the invasion route, and retreat to an uneasy breakfast.
By the time we're ready to go out for reinforcements, I'm half-convinced I've won. When we get back, armed with sprays and traps and so on, I'm startled to discover that I actually have won. This doesn't stop me spraying every square inch of potential entry, and laying traps near what is obviously Base Camp near the front door, but for now, I think I can hold them off.
I know I should be conducting scientific experiments, and studying their migration patterns, and so on, but not in my kitchen, thank you. Did I ever tell you about the time we had a mouse in the kitchen in Perth..?