rashbre central: February 2007

Wednesday 28 February 2007

starling dance

In the UK, birds, notably starlings are swarming early, believing Spring is fully upon us. Birdwatchers are commenting that this may be another sign of climate change, bringing moderate seasons earlier.

Meanwhile, there's been a story about defective petrol being sold in the UK over the last few days. This has been made more real by one of my reliable and non sensationalist colleagues having the juddering symptoms affecting his rather posh German 'vorsprung durch technik' Auto.

The initial discussion has revolved around the potential that this fuel has added ethanol, which has changed its combustion characteristics. I noticed that only three weeks ago, we had the Mr Mantega, Brazil’s Finance Minister, urging Britain to embrace ethanol as a petrol alternative.

Ethanol is a biofuel and part of the arguments for its use are that it can reduce the impacts of global warming, presumably realigning the seasons in the process. Mr Mantega was in London promoting the product and mentioned that Brazil happens to be the world’s largest supplier of ethanol.

In the USA, ethanol fuel is also made, in this case from maize. President Bush currently subsidises this form of production, as a spin off general farm subsidies, bur plans an $18bn reduction in this form of farm support over the next five years.

I suppose over the next few days we will see what, if anything, was wrong with the fuel and whether its a legitimate error, some sort of hysterical co-incidence or perhaps some form of orchestrated climate or other protest.

My friend tells me it is costing £140 ($250) to have the fuel removed from his gas tank, and then he will need to check whether he needs a new oxygen sensor or catalytic converter for his car. I speculate this won't be cheap.

We'll be able to watch it on the news, as it unfolds, unless - that is - that you were hoping to watch it on Sky and are a cable subscriber with NTL/Virgin, which is having its Sky services curtailed as part of a recent commercial decision.

Tuesday 27 February 2007

a very cellular post

Sometimes keeping a blog can be quite difficult. My hotel room this evening, here in Frankfurt, doesn't have a working boradband connection, so I am typling this into my cell phone. I spent the last two days in busy meetings and was in a dinner until late yesterday and then had a 07:15 breakfast meeting today. So now I'm tired and will take the evening to watch television or listen to my iPod.

Sunday 25 February 2007

aboard a Ship of Fools

Ship of Fools
I entered the clanging and creaking harbour where the vessel prepared to take me and the rest of a hastily assembled crew on a voyage through time yesterday evening. We were all in Battersea's Theatre 503, which had been reconstructed to resemble a wooden decked craft of the 15th Century. We sat in the ship, not as mere spectators to a play. There was smoke wafting across the deck and the initial chatter soon subsided as first a fool and then the burghers of Basle in 1492 entered the scene.

The Plato-derived allegory of the Ship of Fools is viewed by many as that of not just an apocryphal episode in Greek and later Swiss history, but as a metaphor of the human condition. So like the original stories, we, the audience voyaged through the seas of time on a small ship that is representative of humanity.

In this Andrew Bovell play (he also wrote Strictly Ballroom, for example), the leaders of Basle round up the unemployed, the mad and anyone out of kilter with their society and place them on a rudderless and sail-less ship, which is then cast off into the Rhine, like a rubbish barge. The play then juxtaposes scenes from the 15th Century trials and tribulations of the voyage, with the modern-day anguishes of a set of people who are unemployed and sent away on a bus as part of a modern-day government scheme.

Then, using the plotline of the ancient story, and the personal lives of the modern-day people, we see them eat, drink, argue, lust and pursue unattainable goals as they meander aimlessly on their journey.

Back in Basle, Pietro de Convinso (played by Jonathan Oliver), is an investigator sent from Rome to find out what had happened and this part of the story unfolds through interviews with the members of the Council Chamber and also with interviews with witnesses from Basel and from the course of the River Rhine. Shadowing the investigator, is the narrator of the whole piece, in the form of the Fool (played by Andrew Buchan - he of the current BBC2 Series "Party Animals").

Each of this strong cast play multiple parts, both in the medieval Basle and 21st century Britain. Lucy Briers (daughter of Richard Briars) plays Monsier Schulze, a scheming and politically astute trader in Basle, determined to take the next role as Mayor of Basle. She also plays Rachel Stein an alienated woman with a past too horrible to be fully described in the story.

Maggie O’ Brian plays the The Mayor, with an exceptionally irritible bowel condition and Louise Masters who is a disenchanted housewife trying to escape a loveless marriage.

Sarah Corbett is Simone Gautier, also from the Council as well as the ex heroine addict Sunny Cox, whose boyfriend is on a methadone programme.

Jonathan Oliver also plays Monsier la Page, - who writes to the Pope after being ejected from the Council onto the ship, and additionally plays the highly strung bus driver fo the modern day Ship of Fools.

Richard Attlee plays the Bishop of Basel with a cut glass accent and Yugoslavian Marko Mihajolvic (thats with a 'j' and 'no, I don't need a translator')

And in addition to the fool, Andrew Buchan plays Simon Summerhayes, who has been in prison for rape. Most of the cast also play additional roles when Pietro de Convinco is running his inquiry.

The entire cast is strong and linked together well. All lent a continued tension to the piece as it built towards a climax in both the modern day part and the parallel medieval world. These overlaps convincingly and I found the entire performance engrossing.

The fool appears throughout both the 1492 narrative and the 2007 episodes which are cleverly interwoven, and as the play progresses, there are direct links from one series of events to the other.

In some versions of the original story, the ship drifts aimlessly and never reaches the harbour. In this version, the ship moves out into the sea. There is the question of whether things travel full circle. The story deals with profound questions of the human condition. How much of humanity is exempt from the discomfort of human folly? Can eccentricity, creativity and genius survive in a world where a type of normality is preferred?

There are moments of genuine laughter whilst watching this play, but there is also a sad laugh linking the Ship of Fools of others with the realisation that the play is about everyone, and we have indeed been sitting on the ship throughout the evening.

Like most of the obviously engrossed audience (which included a couple of celebs), I enjoyed this well-produced and crisply acted play and found myself thinking about the philosophical points afterwards. Must be a good sign!

Live in London? its worth a visit! A couple of other reviewer/bloggers were also at Saturday's show - I'll link to them when I find their posts -(Nathalie). Also friend Christina, who reviewed it Thursday, I give it 4 stars!

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Saturday 24 February 2007

out west

A stroll along King's Road, before this evening's visit to Theatre 503, to see the new production of Ship of Fools. The intrepid souls that have already taken the voyage tell me it is pretty good, so I'm looking forward to this evening. I gather a couple of other bloggers will also be along, too. If I can find out who, then I'll try to link reviews!

Friday 23 February 2007

strong week

A late evening working and them home to cook some supper and catch up on the local news. And where better than the Londonist, where I spotted the little sign, which seems a fitting way to round off the week.

Thursday 22 February 2007

Thursday Thirteen : gaming the outcome

So lets set up a petition to ask people if they want to pay more for something they already take for granted. Then lets give a running total of how many new people have added their names during the countdown to the last day. Oh, and why not get someone famous to send a 'personal' response to everyone that signs up?

But bored with that one?

Here's a few more that are current and that fill my Thursday Thirteen!

1 We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Create a Cornish Bank Holiday on 5th March to commemorate St Piran’s Day

2 We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to bring back the Radio 4 UK theme

3 We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to allow the Piccadilly line to stop at Turnham Green tube station

4 We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to reduce the need for office-based workers to commute to work each day

5 We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to enter Ultimate Frisbee in to the 2012 olympics

6 We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Align our clocks with Central European Time

7 We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Bring Back Concorde

8We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Encourage MPs to try living on £100 a week

9 We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Stop Roadworks In Lowestoft

10 We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Stop proposed restrictions regarding photography in public places.

11 We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to stop duplicate petitions

12 We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Pass Legislation to make cold calling illegal.

and I thought this was particularly interesting...

13 We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Repeal or modify EC Regulation 785/2004 in order to exempt historical aircraft such as Sally-B B17G from new minimum insurance requirements

Of course, a fuller look at the list will show that there are petitions for many worthy subjects, although quite a few seem to have less than 500 signatures.

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Tuesday 20 February 2007

canyons of the mind

car park
I had a great idea for a post this morning, but by tonight I can't remember what it was, so here's a picture of an empty car park as a metaphor for the state of my mind. I suggest reading this instead.

Monday 19 February 2007

another space invasion

Canal Street and Space Invader
I noticed the small space invader in Canal Street, whilst wandering in Manchester. These are a form of guerilla art that pop up in various parts of the world. I previously noted a good example outside Heartbreak Soup in Newcastle.

There's quite a few in London.

Sunday 18 February 2007

pig hog boar

We strolled into the China town area of Manchester, just as it was preparing for the main Golden Dragon Parade to welcome in Kung hei fat choy - the Year of the Pig (sometimes called the year of the Boar). When I looked at the Chinese zodiac sign, it describes the western equivalent that is nearest as the scorpion (Scorpio), which is actually my sign, although that's a November date.

The Chinese district is dominated by the Imperial Chinese Archway, which was a gift to the City from the Chinese people. There's also one in China Town London, but this one is extremely decorative and quite a surprise to find at a small cross roads in China Town. The arch was designed and built by a team of engineers from Beijing and is decorated with ceramics, lacquer, paint and gold leaf. Beside the arch are two pavilions in an ornamental garden, although these were blocked off today as part of the controls for the parade and festivities.
The red lanterns, flags and streamers and the loud firecrackers were all there to ward off evil spirits and to make sure that the Dragon knows its place instead of going around eating people.

Saturday 17 February 2007

star struck

will young
I was told to make this picture large
The visit to see the Vortex was a great idea of Julie, who is quite a Will Young fan. We enjoyed the show and afterwards stayed in the very agreeable Royal Exchange bar having a few drinks. We even sawthe actress Diana Hardcastle who played Florence rushing out from somewhere back stage to buy a drink before the bar closed at around eleven o'clock.

We finished our drinks and decided we would get ready to move on to another venue like the Printworks or Matt and Phred's. Julie headed for the rest-rooms before we departed and we moved to the other end of the bar to where the coats were kept in a cloak room. Actually the cloakroom was locked and we had to find someone to get the door opened.

As I swung around I noticed three people sitting talking at the table at this end of the bar. One was wearing a rather fashionable hat. Yes, you've guessed. It was Will Young. That's the same Will Young that can usually be seen on stages and in arenas and other large venues. Now John was carrying the programme from the production and after a short consultation between us, I decided to ask Will Young if he would mind signing the programme for Julie.

I walked the few steps to where the three people were seated, very conscious that they may well have wanted to relax without being pestered. So I summoned the few words to ask Will if he minded me interrupting and would he mind signing the programme (luckily I had a pen!)

I explained it would make someone's year! He chuckled at this and said, 'what and its still only February!' and very graciously signed his picture on the programe 'to Julie, love Will x' I thanked him and commented also how much I'd enjoyed the play. He smiled before returning to his conversation with his two friends.

Throughout this, behind me had stood John and Melanie, miming approving gestures towards Will and his ensemble. We moved away, delighted that Will had been prepared to do this and feeling slightly sheepish that we had all been somewhat star-struck. I was not expecting the kind of buzz that this brief encounter created and don't think I've ever asked anyone for an autograph. I suppose Will Young is probably quite used to this, but I was very conscious of not wanting to intrude into his 'down-time'. I'm pleased that he signed the programme for Julie and I'd add that even in the few moments of contact, he came across as a charming and gracious individual.

Thank you, Will.

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vortex will young
Noel Coward was 25 when he wrote "The Vortex" in 1924. In those days, the themes were sufficient to almost get the play closed down - with original reviews referring to 'this dustbin of a play'. There's sex and drugs but rock n' roll hadn't been invented so instead its piano and operetta.

The production at Manchester's Royal Exchange used a modest adaptation of the original script, and it is quite interesting to see how understated a lot of the themes of the play are in the production and one realises how much the 'shockability' of modern audiences have moved along.
vortex diana hardcastle
We have the drug addled Nicky (played by Will Young) returning home from a year in Paris. He is clearly a mixed up and with what appears to be a sexual jealousy for the antics of his mother, Florence (played strongly by Diana Hardcastle). She is in an affair with someone Nicky's own age, behind the back of his starchy father. Florence's two friends at the start of the play act as a goading devil and no-nonsense conscience to Florence's infatuation.

Florence's lover, the guardsman Tom (played by Sam Heughan) is an aloof individual who portrays hardly a care for Florence, who is still blinded by the sexual advances. Will Young's character of Nicky (originally portrayed by Noel Coward himself) appears fragile in some scenes and later becomes downright jittery, presumably a reaction to the drug taking. Young's portrayal of Nicky incorporates an ambiguous sexual unhappiness which may be a cause of his addiction. He has brought a "trial fiancée" back from Paris, Bunty, although this courtship scarcely lasts beyond the introductions as she finds a greater affinity for Tom.

There's another nascent love interest for his mother Florence too; her female friend and apparent conscience Helen (played by Alexandra Mathie) seems to have a somewhat more than friendly longing to spend time with Florence, although that is also fairly understated in the way that the production operates.

The crescendo of the piece takes place in a whirl of emotions between Florence and Nicky when they both make a pact to abstain from the things which have been pulling them into the vortex. We are left to speculate whether the emotionally unsatisfied mother can abstain from the charms of a supply of twenty-something lovers and whether the fractured Nicky can resist the chemical lure of cocaine.

Well staged using a circular black and white set, good pacing and strong performances from the repertory cast. There was no embarrassment that Will Young was moving from his grounding in music to this theatrical piece and he stood up well as a full member of the cast delivering a strong performance. Kudos also to Bunty's stand-in, who did much more of an acted part than a reading.

Altogether, an enjoyable evening, watching a strong and interesting play in great surroundings.

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Royal Exchange Manchester
Saturday evening we are seeing a play at the Royal Exchange. Earlier in the day we decided to locate it and take a look around. Its quite a spectacular structure. The outside is that of an old Corn Exchange in Manchester, but the inside has received a very signiicant makeover.
Royal Exchange Manchester
An entire theatre 'in the round' has been build inside the building. It is suspended from some steel struts which appear to take the load of the new construction.

This gives the Exchange a 'building within a building' feel and indeed the outer shell of the Exchange has mood lightig which can be controlled to suit the time of day or ambience required. The inner building is a very intimate theatre, which can hold something like 750 people, all of whom get excellent views of the circular stage.

Friday 16 February 2007

rainy night in manchester

malmaison lobby.jpg
Tonight finds me in Manchester, staying at a rather indulgent hotel. We're visiting here for the weekend and have a few things planned including a trip to the theatre.
malmaison expresso.jpg
This afternoon we took a small reconnaisance stroll around the Piccadilly area near to the hotel. There were plenty of shoppers around, even in the rainy weather.

We returned to the hotel in the early evening, as the first of the Friday nighters were making their way out to brave the elements.

But we stayed in the hotel - we'd already planned a convivial dinner in the restaurant.

Thursday 15 February 2007


An evening at home.

Medoc, my home made spaghetti and 'a life less ordinary' on sky.

Wednesday 14 February 2007

Parlement of Foules

screenshot_02.jpgNot fools this time. More properly fowls, this time from Chaucer. His poem about the birds forming a parliament to debate and choose their mates contains one of the first references to St Valentine's day as a day for love.

"For this was on seynt Volantynys day Whan euery bryd comyth there to chose his mate."

Chaucer held a court position and wrote the poem back in 1382 and dedicated it to King Richard II as a celebration of the Kings' engagement to Anne of Bohemia. In Plato's words,"At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet."

Tuesday 13 February 2007

not ready to make nice

I like the DIxie Chicks, who have just won three Grammy awards for best album, best country album and best song.

I posted about them a while ago because this is the same band that had their CDs burned and crushed by middle America because of a statement made during a concert in England by one of their singers, Natalie Maines. She criticized President Bush along the lines she was ashamed he came from Texas.

When I posted, previously, it was a comment about the level of backlash their statement created leading to a total boycott by many radio stations of their music. The little video, below, shows the scenario and the linkage of the Dixie Chicks with criticism of the way that Bush was handling the situation in Iraq. Even the little trailer (below) was banned by NBC.

But now, some six months since my last post about this topic, the bluegrass singing band seem to have made a successful comeback, despite all of the prior protests.

I'm generally not on the right frequency for American country music (except when driving across some large piece of the nation) and I don't really understand how such an apparently despised band can walk away with three Grammy wins.

This has nothing to do with my personal opinion of their music (which, as I declared at the start), is positive. So here, enjoyably, is a rocking extract from a Dixie Chick show, at Shepherd's Bush, in England.

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Monday 12 February 2007

ship of fools

Bosch Ship Of Fools The idea of a "Ship of Fools" goes way back into medieval times and there are many depictions of the scene of 'fools' being sent away by boat to another place.

There are several famous recreations of this idea, through time including Hieronymous Bosch's paining, The narrative by Sebastian Brant, with its illustrations by the fledging Albrecht Durer and more up to date renditions in the Richard Paul Russo novel and a topical new play by Andrew Bovell, to be presented at Theatre 503.

Brant: The first long version was 1452's "Das Narrenschiff", where Brant describes 110 assorted follies and vices, each undertaken by a different fool. The chapters are linked by the theme of a ship which will take the fools to Narragonia, the island of fools.

Bosch: The 1495 Bosch painting contains embedded symbolism including an owl in a tree and the crescent flying from the ship's flag as symbols of heresy. The lute and bowl of cherries have erotic associations and the people in the water may represent the sins of gluttony or lust. The inverted funnel is symbolic of madness and the large roast bird is a symbol of gluttony. The knife being used to cut it down may be symbolic of the sin of anger. In its day, showing the monk and a nun are singing together had symbolic erotic overtones since men and women in monastic orders were supposed to be separate.

Russo: In the 2001 Russo novel, a class-stratified people travelling on the Antioch, a huge space ship, have forgotten the original reason for their mission. A deserted planet suitable for human life is sending a simple signal. This planet holds a gruesome symbol of evil, but divides the Spaceship's inhabitants, with the under-classes wishing to colonise the planet. After a failed mutiny, the ship sets out to follow the beacon signal to its target, where they discover a huge further spaceship, which is ultimately as horrific as some of the content of the planet. They have followed the signal to a situation which could ultimately kill them, and in a 'devil and the deep blue sea' moment decide that many of the Antioch's inhabitants will return to the planet, whilst the Antioch tries to drag the alien ship into another dimension. A thought provoking look into the head of a protagonist in this situation of dispair.

Bovell: And now, with the 2007 Theatre 503 production of Andrew Bovell's play, we see two journeys with two sets of travellers, five hundred years apart.

Firstly, in 1492, Basel's town council summons the city's 'fools' comprising outcasts, handicapped, homosexuals and subversives. They are herded onto a ship and floated down the Rhine into permanent exile.

Then forward to 2007 in Britain and a populist initiative in which the government selects a group of long-term unemployed, bundles them onto a bus and drives them deep into the unknown to work for their dole. Theatre 503 and Strike Ensemble present a riotous and compelling exploration of how society deals with its outsiders.

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Sunday 11 February 2007


I was in Denmark Street yesterday, which guitar afficianados will know is the street in London to browse for guitars. No I didn't succumb. I was buying some strings and have been playing guitar again today.
The shop windows in that unassuming street have all manner of temptations, though, but I am happy with my current guitar, which is more than enough for my current level of playing!

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Saturday 10 February 2007


We had the BBC Doctor Who spinoff called Torchwood. It was set in Western part of the Britiish Isles (Wales, actually). There was a gang of around five people who investigated phenomena as a consequence of some strange energy lines and breaks in the space time continuum in the area around their base.

The leader used to wear clothing reminiscent of a World War two airman. He and his group walk around in leather jackets in sort of V formations and diagonal straight lines. Occasionally they have to deal with all manner of strange monster, some clearly Men in Bubble-wrap and some computer generated. They have gadgets to help them and they keep them in their quirky headquarters location which is under a shimmering office location. In the first episode they met a new ex police-woman person who joins their gang.

I enjoyed Torchwood.

primeval2.jpgFast forward to Saturday on BBC's rival ITV and there's a new series set in the Western part of the British Isles (Forest of Dean, which is quite close to Wales). Theres a strange crystal energy field in the forest and it appears to be a break in the space time continuum.

The leader of this gang wears an ex army looking jacket and his leather jacketed gang also walk around in V formations and the occasional diagonal grouping. They do use Torches to good effect in the Wood, too. And they seem to be dealing with creatures of a mainly computer generated kind. A few gadgets have been revealed, along with a shimmering headquarters location. In the first episode they seem to have met a new zoo-keeper who has just been told her project has been cancelled. I expect she will join their gang.

Lets see how it develops.

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Embassy Protest
Walking through a shortcut via Belgrave Square today, I chanced upon a small demonstration. There are a lot of embassies in that part of London, so I didn't really know who they were pointing towards. I also noted there were quite a few police on hand and another police van was discreetly parked around the next side of the large square.

I didn't recognise the flag immediately, it has the typical Arab colours of black, white and red stripes with green stars, and as there were two stars I think that means Syria. Three means Iraq, of course.

It appeared to be a civil rights protest linked with the 25th anniversary of the ruthless destruction, by the Syrian army, of the city of Hamat claiming it harboured opponents of the Syrian regime.

I can't find any reference on the main news feeds to today's demonstration. But it brings home another example of the ongoing complexities and ambiguities of the Middle East region, this time with the country that borders Israel, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey and Jordan.

buy a word

Today, I thought I'd become a theatre impresario. Some of you will have spotted my previous posts about Theatre 503, which is a newly re-launched theatre in London and which has been well described across on Christina's blog. You might have even looked it up on wikipedia. Or read my review of their season-opening production, The Atheist.

Well, they are now trying to raise money linked to some planned pieces of new writing there called "Breakfast Hearts" and "Choirplay", both by Robin French. The two new artistic directors, Paul Robinson and Tim Roseman, invited Jennie Fellows to direct the plays as part of their opening season.

screenshot_10.jpgSo because Theatre 503 has no public subsidy, there's a need to raise some money towards the production costs and this is to be done by selling the words of the play individually for £1 per word. We've heard about pixels being sold in the past, now lets see what happens with these words. So Jennie has set up a page on her company Tickle's website, and, already there's £100 donated. Jenny has also got some fine publicity from The Guardian, in their blog.

So anyone can select to buy any word from the text of the plays and even buy more than one. Yesterday someone bought "I love you" for their boyfriend. Someone else made a sentence from the words they bought. Another person bought a word that wasn't in the text just because they liked it so much: "perspicacity".

So I've bought a few words like 'it' - which saves some of the more spectacular ones for people to divine as they read through the script.

So, become a patron of the arts for a pound. Paypal works.


Friday 9 February 2007


I expect I've spelled today's title incorrectly. I was chatting to a couple of folk from Sweden about the UK snow and one (who was in London) said to the other (who was in Stockholm) that the snow was like skjornesnow. I laughed and said that sounds like scornful snow? and they explained they were referencing the area of Sweden that has the least snow. So kind of like Cornish snow, I suppose.

Anyway, today's 5cm (2 inches) of snow is the largest snowfall of the millenium in some areas. The usually accurate single flake that destroys the transport infrastructure seemed to miss and everything seemed to stay working.

It still took me around 15 minutes to scrape it from the car. But by tonight it has all gone, except the nearby snowman, whose head has fallen off.

Thursday 8 February 2007

Thursday Thirteen (V35)

Doing a Thursday Thirteen always takes longer than my normal ten minute posts. So I've missed a few weeks, but thought I'd give it a go again this week. Its still version 35!
trafficm25.jpg1) : I spent around two hours in a traffic jam this morning; then later I had to go to another location and on the way back was stuck in another one for thirty minutes. I'd driven for over three and a half hours on what would normally be around ninety minutes of travel.

2) : A side effect of the travelling has been the car turning a sort of matt colour with all of the salt and grit placed on the road because it may snow this evening.

3) : I was also in a long traffic jam yesterday in central London, between Earls Court and Marylebone. In the end I had to park the car at a hotel and take a cab for the last part of the journey along the taxi lanes, so that I was not too late for my appointment.

4) : As is the way in central London, I had to pay the £8 / $15 congestion charge for driving my car into the central London area. In a few days, the zone is being extended further to the west, covering Kensington and Chelsea.

5): I've been out in the evening a lot recently, which has stressed my time for writing any blog entries. Last week I was in Amsterdam, the previous week in Vas Vegas and the week before that in Franfurt. This week I'm home, but out for several evenings.

6) : The man came to take a look at the broken fence. Another few days and it should be fixed. I need a couple of panels and new fence posts too.

7) : The recent scaffolding has also come down as a consequence of the completion of some other work on rashbre central.
orange.jpg8) : I had a replacement credit card sent to me a few days ago. It doesn't become active until March. Something I pay for by credit card monthly then sent me a late payment bill saying my card wasn't valid. I called to explain but they said the original card didn't work. I said I'd pay with the new one, then. They said it wasn't yet valid. After my protest, I moved the payment to direct debit. They refused to refund the late payment saying I should have informed them about the credit card change. I explained the original card was still valid. They didn't care. That little £5 charge will have cost them a customer, because when I get time I will move my suscription to somewhere else.

9) : I checked all of the above with my helpful bank. They said there was nothing wrong with my credit card and the above supplier should not have acted in the way they did.

10) : I've been helping get some of the Theatre 503 information onto Wikipedia. It became quite complicated, because I referred to the recent play 'The Atheist', which then also required an entry. So I started to write that entry as well, but then had to 'disambiguate' 'The Atheist', which is also the name of a comic. Then the wikipedia authors said the description of the play wasn't detailed enough. And so it went on. Hopefuly its all okay now.

screenshot_01.jpg11) : I discovered some chocolates left from December yesterday. I wonder how long they will survive?

12) : I was asked to vote for a specific artis at the Brits a couple of days ago. I have been receiving emails about other artists ever since.

13) : Tonight's beverage of choice is Tetley's tea.

Add a comment, trackback or a link if you are a Thursday Thirteener!

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Wednesday 7 February 2007

OTA Wordless Wednesday

the bunnies heard about the banana
Add a comment, trackback or a link for Wordless Wednesday!


Tuesday 6 February 2007

let them eat cake

The avian bugs from the continent arrived in Holton, in the east of England today creating an exclusion zone and poultry cull.

I've decided that there must still be some classes of food which are relatively safe, like the above torte. Made from chocolate, with its antioxidant properties, kirch, with its mildly medicinal alcoholic content, cream containing calcium, vitamins A, D, B12, and riboflavin and cherries as a source of fruit, this must surely be a better bet than some of the other foodstuffs on offer.

I shall consider whilst I have a slice. This is a twizzler-free zone.

Monday 5 February 2007


geostationary banana over texas
There are some projects that are just off all of the scales. A great example is the mission to send an inflateable banana into geostationary orbit over texas for one month as an art installation. I am not sure if this counts as messing with texas, but it sure is bananas.

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Sunday 4 February 2007

talking italian

carbonaraAfter the show at Theatre 503. we wandered back into Battersea Park Road and along a few doors to the Italian restaurant. It was already almost full, but in keeping with most good Italian places, they said they would find a way to squeeze us in. Sure enough, they did, resorting to a special folding chair for me to squish against the end of the table.

We then enjoyed some noble Montepulciano whilst we debated the play before turning to other matters. The food was fine and the evening was now slipping into the later part. Penguin had joined us, back from a recent trip to Barbados, and regaled us with stories of the rather snazzy resort he'd enjoyed during the last several days. And no soooner back in the UK, then he's off to Venice. I shall expect to see some photographs on the promised new blog. As if.

A joy of this part of London, and the subsequent return to Chelsea was that even at one thirty in the morning there are still quite a lot of folk meandering around the streets.

Talking Italian - thanks, Holly

spinning jenny

Yesterday evening's show at Theatre 503 was excellent. The evening went to plan. We arrived first in Chelsea to meet for an early shot of expresso before we started the evening. Then to the Latchmere pub in Battersea for a pre-show drink. The pub was kinda busy, what with the rugby as well and the group of us moved to the Theatre lobby where we managed to bag a comfortable sofa before the show started.
And then to hear the trials and tribulations of Augustine Early, played with sharp tongue, Southern drawl, pyrotechnic energy swings and deep engagement by Ben Porter, in Ronan Noone's rapier wit of a tale of an amoral journalist who'll stop at nothing to get that front page headline.

Augustine Early is a despicably conniving, viciously scheming reporter who claws his way up the greasy pole of the Fourth Estate. There are maybe ten seconds of goodness about him in the entire play, but he soon snaps out of that.

Sex, Sleaze, Corruption, Politics and Death all play a part in this analog of the human condition. "I may be responsible, but I'm not culpable", he explains as he describes the morbid interest of his readers in the latest spinning that he has created with the gullible self interest of Jenny, his partial love interest in the piece.
Ben Porter, as an edgily psychotic Augustine, paces the piece with great assurance and timing, revealing the latent energy of a coiled spring, which every so often explodes across the stage. "Why be mediocre?", he implores, as he demonstrates every way to stay away from the middle ground.

Set in America, tightly scripted, adapted for the European audience, and set in a theatre modified to resemble...no I'd better not say...it adds to one of the twists in the piece. Highly watchable and easy to be drawn through fascination into this otherworld of deceit.

Great theatre, acting, script. I'd watch and enjoy again!

tags technorati :

(Extensive tagging at request of Mel and Christina)

Saturday 3 February 2007


Off to see a play in Battersea this evening, supporting the renaissance of Theatre 503. There's more about the venue across at Christina's and I'll know more for myself after tonight's show.

Its quite an endeavour getting a theatre up and running and tonight's play is the first 'under new management'.

So I guess I'll be in the Latchmere first, for a pre show drink.

Friday 2 February 2007


unavailable fence
I shall just have to admire this picture of fencing. Since the storms and winds in England a couple of weeks ago, there has been a run on replacement fence panels. So I shall be without borders for a little longer.

mu mu

waiting for the mu mu warrior
Some people have a way with words, blending daily occurence with the sweep of gods. Today's humble post is for one such sprite who can flitter between Eris the goddess of confusion and chaos, the last train to transcentral and weightier matters which sometimes require an axe.

Thursday 1 February 2007

broken glass

Vista on OS/X
I'd been using Microsoft Vista Beta with Parallels on an intel Mac for several months. Now I see the new Vista Home Premium which I bought today actually forbids this.

Microsoft has reworded its End User License Agreement to say: “USE WITH VIRTUALIZATION TECHNOLOGIES. You may not use the software installed on the licensed device within a virtual (or otherwise emulated) hardware system.”

So unless I want to turn my Mac over to Boot Camp dual boot, I can no longer use the product inside the terms of the agreement unless I dig deep for Vista Ultimate edition. The whole point of something like parallels is to be able to run Windows in a pane on the Mac. Microsoft say that "Home users have rarely requested virtualization and so it will not be supported in Microsoft Windows Vista Home Basic and Home Premium.”

As a side note, one of the fun things about Vista under OS/X is the way it can be dynamically resized on the screen like a browser pane. Click my screen shot above to see a big picture of Windows in a small pane on OS/X. Or watch this three year old Apple trailer about iLife back in the olden days.

Microsoft Vista on Apple Mac OS/X

After my Vista post (above) I had several emails about the base install of a Vista upgrade on OS/X. I have several spare WIndows XP licenses from defunct systems and assumed the upgrade would work with either an original XP CD or XP serial number before the Vista one. But no.

Here is my Vista install to OS/X with Parallels.

1) Get a modern licenced version of Parallels and install it on OS/X
2) Create a Vista partition in OS/X with at least 512Mb memory and 20 GB disk space
3) Boot the legitimate Vista DVD from the Parallels partition (when the Parallels session boots, it trys to start the DVD in any case)
4) Click "Install Now"
5) Do not enter a Product key when prompted - if you try to you will get an ACPI, BSOD or can't upgrade error.
6) You will see a list of Vista editions. Select the one you have bought.
7) Install Vista normally - though it will be a trial copy with no serial number, only valid for 30 days.
8) Once the install is complete after circa 30 minutes, restart the DVD-based Setup from within Windows Vista.
9) Perform an in-place upgrade.
10) Enter your Product Key when prompted
11) Let Vista go through the upgrade a second time.

This procedure is much faster than installing a copy of XP and then upgrading to Vista. In fact, the upgrade after the original install completed in about half an hour on my iMac.