This is weirdly random but…

I was just wondering how many folk hereabouts hang out within striking distance of Hyde Park?

Because…

In my head this morning is the weirdly random thought of, when my contract ends, putting Vin in the lorry and driving in to London to spend some time hacking through Hyde Park.

And maybe having a picnic.

So, you know…. Just wondering, like. If anyone would like to meet my charming man horse.

Speaking of shallowness

He said, breaking the Merseybeat theme that seemed to have somehow grown around the last few posts…

Have I told you about my time down on the frigging firing range last week? Yeah. I might be just a civvy but the weapons training staff look at me in a new light.

Who da man?

The Air That I Breathe

After my Hillsborough post I received an email from a previously anonymous reader in Germany. Hello previously anonymous reader in Germany. In her email the previously anonymous German reader makes several completely unfounded allegations about me. She also attempts to categorise me with a number of scurrilous and untrue labels that include the words: caring, passionate, humanitarian, thoughtful and considerate. Clearly she has grasped the wrong end of the stick. With both hands. This post is a desperate attempt to quickly re-establish my presence firmly back where it belongs, in the world of trite shallowness.

Spook Central has briefed us that there are planned demonstrations outside New Scotland Yard (NSY).

It’s lunchtime.

I could go down there and join in. But which side to support?

The skanky, sandal-wearing, rioting demonstrators or the out of control thuggish police officers?

There’s only one way to find out…

[n.b. People who do not watch Harry Hill’s TV Burp will wonder what on earth I’m on about. That’s their loss then]

Excitement, balance and Karma

which kind of sounds as though I’m pissed but I’m so completely not!

And so the snow spreads beyond London village.

Snowploughs out on the A40 at 05.40.  Three cars at crazy angles in hedges.

The season of the twat driver is upon us.

Even now, we’re gently meandering down the M40 at… umm… about 45… Even now the twats are still upon us.

Overtaking in their snow-covered cars. It’s easy to imagine the drivers peering through the snow-cleared slits of their windscreens like some kind of First World War artilleryman in the trenches.

Revise my speed downwards. The speed limit signs are illuminated at 40mph.

And that white van has just cruised past us at maybe 55mph.

Anyway, arseholes aside, it’s an interesting view of the world.

I find myself very excited by this unexpected whiteness.

It’s the schoolboy in me.

Why, mummy, is that car all covered in snow? And why is it on the motorway mummy? Does the driver think that if she or he clears all the snow off the car *before* they start the journey, it won’t go as well as if it is covered in snow? Huh huh huh?

Sorry, I’ll put the schoolboy down for a couple of minutes.

This morning my first meeting is in Victoria. My second is in Southwark. My third is in Greenwich. My fourth is in a different building in Westminster and afterwards I am to spend the rest of the day incarcerated in my office in a different building in Westminster.

The joys of a typical working day made significantly brighter by a simple coating of white.

Except disappointment looms.

The closer we get to London the less deep, crisp and even is the whiteness. This firmly implies that by the time we get in to Central London Village the snow will be all gone.

This might explain why the rest of the country heard sweet Felicity Arkwright from the BBC about snow this morning. Because as we all know, if something doesn’t happen in London then it doesn’t happen; it vanishes in to some kind of Orwellian Room 101, a non-place where non-things erm non-happen.

No bitterness there. As you can tell.

I’ll sing my heart out tonight
To a black sky under a street light
You’ll cry your eyes out tonight
Over something that was never really anything at all
Tonight

Whoa!!! Slow down Leigh. I can’t transcribe as quickly as you can get the lyrics out!

Alright
We’ll make our beds lying down…

Soddit. I can’t keep up with his vocal.

Ladies and gentlemen… I give you one of the two new tracks by The Razorbax.

And I challenge you to not tap your feet while you listen to Tonight or the other new song Shooting Stars

There really is no justice in the world. The Razorbax; four immensely talented, capable, hard-rockin’ young lads who write their own material and get out and gig… get no media recognition whilst manufactured, talentless, semi-conscious, plastic, anodyne, personality-transplanted bimbo-esque karaoke acts like Rhianna get acres of column inches (fnarr!) and more television and radio exposure than all of the starving millions in the third world.

Justice sadly lacking.

Anyway.

I’ve been sent an album to review for an Eastern-European guitarist.

Sigh.

He’s a kind of Ukrainian Mark Knopfler with a multi-track fetish and a taste for flourish where basics might be more appropriate.

So you want me to say he’s absolutely rubbish?

Tough.

He’s the best solo musician I think I’ve *ever* listened to, and I’ve been listening to musicians of all numbers for too many decades to be entirely comfortable with.

The trouble is, no matter how favourably I review his album and no matter where the review gets published (hello NME!), the sad fact is this guy, this Ukrainian wunderkind of the plank-spanking world… he is so completely unlikely to cut it in this country.

Maybe Germany. And a handful of Eastern states. But make it in the UK – the home of the largest music-spending public in Europe?

Nah.

Because we can’t even pronounce his name.

So the mainstream media will continue to throw Rhianna at us and the boys and girls who know no better will continue to lap it up like cats from saucers of just-about-going-off cream.

No justice.

Anyway, Leigh, Louis (who is the hardest working drummer I’ve seen live since…. Muse at the NEC 18 months ago), Jack and James are done.

And the next track up on iTunes is…

Holy Moly! It’s Muse (Time is Running Out).

Karma, my friends.

It – unlike justice – exists.

Balance, Crime and Punishment and Rocking

This post is going to start off seriously and become lighter as it meanders. I don’t know why. It just will…

1. Balance
On the way in to London village this morning(*) I noticed a shop-front with the sign ‘Hillingdon Women’s Centre’.

I stared at the sign and my hackles began to rise.

If, I thought, the Hillingdon Women’s Centre is privately funded I really couldn’t care less. But if it receives just £1 of public money, where, I want to know, is the Hillingdon Men’s Centre?

Never mind whether or not there’s a need for one. There’s no equality in need.

A situation is either subject to equality or it is not.

As you might be able to tell, I do believe in equality. But I don’t believe in positive discrimination. I do believe in putting in place a legislative structure to ensure balance. But I don’t believe in quotas or check-box apportionment. I do believe in the best person for the job. I don’t believe in ‘the most appropriate’ person for the job.

I also believe that positive discrimination creates inequality at worst, and at best has enormous potential to breed dissatisfaction or even engender contempt.

And I’m not focussing on the Hillingdon Women’s Centre vs Hillingdon Men’s Centre as an example, but I’ll acknowledge that I am using this as a principle – a principle which I would apply to any gender or religiously orientated discriminatory-related bias.

In fact any kind of positive discrimination on the grounds of religion is fundamentally flawed before the ink is even dry on the paper – and I say this as an atheist.

How, asks my head, can any degree of balance be established between a religious organisation and atheism where there is no governing body? But it would be stupid to use the argument ‘people who belong to religious organisations need some kind of positive discriminatory mechanism but everyone who has no religious affiliation does not’; it lacks balance.

I also believe in crime and punishment.

2. Crime and punishment:
Those little bastards out there, those teenaged children standing at the roadside of the A40 throwing snowballs at the traffic as it drives past. They should be caught, handcuffed to the railings at the side of the road with their parents and every passing driver should be actively encouraged (if not paid) to throw snowballs at the little darlings.

For two or three days. At least.

3. Rocking:
I have finally fixed something that’s been annoying the hell out of me since, ooooh, well, since, ummm, since I installed this theme.

I have finally fixed the clock display on the toolbar. Down there, bottom right.

See?

It now has a 24-hour display.

Yes I know I got all of the other time displays to readout in the 24-hour clock ages ago, but the appropriate fix for the toolbar time has evaded me for weeks.

Until today.

Ha!

I rock. Sometimes.

Oh yeah… And I put an author archive tag on Soph’s name in the blogroll. Try it! It’s lovely! 🙂

(*) Yes, I made it in to work. By 08.35 I was sitting at my desk feeling ever so lonely. By 09.00 three of us were in – all long-distance travellers; one from Manchester, one from Nottingham and me. The locals were conspicuous by their absence.  🙂

Sunny winter’s day

I spent most of today on the 24th floor of a not routine office building. The unbelievable quality of the light, the height and the clarity of the sky were too good to miss.

Out came the digital camera and I loosed off a few shots. Unfortunately in condensing even the pick of the bunch from 750Kb to 90Kb the photograph has lost a great deal of the qualities that make it a stand-out image, but you can imagine.

Can’t you? 🙂

London skyline

London skyline

This is completely effing ridiculous

[checks watch]

Now hear this. It’s 22.35, right?

And I’m on the A40 in Park Royal, (slightly north-) west London, right?

And I’m not going anywhere, right?

I’m not going anywhere because, unbelievably, outside it is… gridlock!

Yep, at 22.37 (now) the three outward-bound carriageways of the A40, one of London’s primary arterial routes, are all locked more solid than a conditionally-constipated person’s lower intestine could be if they’d been bingeing on ‘all you can eat constipation pills’ for three weeks.

What gives here?

When did the our capital’s (ha!) roads get to the pathetic state that one single incident has the staggering capacity to cripple the network?

I’m sitting here fuming.

And I’m also wondering if a wiser economy would have taken the £-trillion rescue package that went to the non-manufacturing banks and spent it on a transport network instead.

You know, just an idle thought in passing. Except I’m not passing anything, obv – in a constipated transport kind of way.

B.

Suits you sir

I’m preparing for the Awards beanfeast on Wednesday evening and being a pragmatic person I’m aware that, of late, my middle has *cough* expanded. Slightly.

This morning, while walking from a meeting at one end of Westminster to another meeting at the distant end of Westminster I spied a Moss Bros and grasped the opportunity with both hands.

It really didn’t take me long to work out that a full-on evening suit would cost £65 to hire, but for £89 I could buy one and get a dress shirt and bow-tie thrown in. This is a win.

Lastminute.com have come up trumps and sorted me out with a double room in a four-star Hyde Park hotel for £79.99. This is a legitmate company expense so I will claim it back, obv. This is a double win.

The downside to these wins is that I have to spend the evening in a conference centre with about 750 work colleagues and the night in a crummy four-star hotel in Hyde Park, instead of spending the early part of the evening riding Vin and the late part of the evening/all night in the arms of Soph.

Sigh.

But it’s only one night.

B.

The road is long

So this evening it took me three hours to get home. Which is good. And bad.

The good; the extra hour of the journey was spent shortlisting music for future episodes of the podcast, sorting out a few talking points for this week’s episode and writing up a few notes in preparation.

The bad; the principle of cause and effect.

Let me explain.

The journey took three hours instead of its customary because a car broke down. It’s that simple.

A. Car. Broke. Down.

One car. Single. Solitary. Solo.

I’m just wondering what this simple statement declares to visitors to this country/continent/hemisphere/planet the unplanned event of having a single car break down on a three-lane highway can adversely affect the journeys of several hundred thousand people?

Answers on a used £20 note please.

B.

Misty, murky and wet

No, not the name of three cartoon characters…

This is today’s view from my office. You can barely see the Houses of Parliament even though they’re a three minute walk from here.

The taller building left/centre is New Scotland Yard and in the distance you can see the London Eye. It’s a measure of how murky today is that one has to work quite hard to pick out buildings that are normally very clear.

Just thought I’d share the Westminster view.

B.