rashbre central: September 2009

Wednesday 30 September 2009

temporary apartment flashback

No, I'm not back in the Temporary Apartment of early 2009 in Copenhagen, but I'm having a sort of flashback moment.

It's another city and I was here a week ago and am back again, staying in the same location.

Today has been busy, an early start and then main meetings, followed by an unrelated coffee where someone from out of town swung by to say hello and chat.

Then, immediately afterwards me walking into the nearby restaurant, spotting colleagues and pulling another table across to join in the discussion.

The waiter asked if I needed a menu, but to catch up with the pace I ordered from the plate.

So its not the same as the Temporary Apartment, but has a similar feeling about it. At least until tomorrow, when I fly out again.

Tuesday 29 September 2009

inherent vice in analogue

books, 2nd Generation
I accidentally strayed onto Facebook a couple of days ago, mainly because I was clearing down some of the applications that seem to create repeats of my messages. I think I deleted around forty so-called applications that had somehow installed in my Facebook.

How careless of me.

Anyway, I also stumbled onto this little quiz from the BBC about books. Apparently the average person has read six of these. I must spend too much time on airplanes and trains or something.

If you want to have a go, copy this source into your own browser/editor. Look at the list and put an 'x' after those you have read.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen x
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien x
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte x
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling (2)
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee x
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte x
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell x
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman x
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

Total: 7

11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller x
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier x
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien x
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger x
19 The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot

Total: 3

21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald x
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens x
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams x
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck x
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll x
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame x

Total: 6

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens x
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hossein x
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres x
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden x
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne x

Total: 4

41 Animal Farm - George Orwell x
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown x
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins x
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy x
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding x
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan x

Total: 6

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel x
52 Dune - Frank Herbert x
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen x
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth x
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens x
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley x
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night - Mark Haddon x
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez x

Total: 8

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov x
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt x
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold x
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas x
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac x
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy x
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie x
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville

Total: 7

71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens x
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett x
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson x
75 Ulysses - James Joyce (started it)
76 The Inferno – Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome x
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray x

Total: 5

80 Possession - AS Byatt x
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens x
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro x
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton

Total: 2

91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad x
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks x
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare x
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Total: 3

Grand total: 51

Of course, I've read them over quite a long period of time, but I do occasionally dip into some of them again.

Ever technologically enabled, one approach is through the little book reader on my iPhone. Its called Stanza and has 45 titles stored in it at the moment. Most of them are 'public domain' in the sense that they are classics long out of copyright - which is like many on the BBC's list.

But the heavy artillery is the little eReader I used when I was travelling around in the USA earlier this year. I think it currently has another 160 books on it, including some modern ones that I've actually paid for. Whereas the iPhone is all glossy full colour the eReader is steadfastly black and white and uses the electronic ink technique of refreshing a page and then switching off, which means the batteries last for ages because when its simply displaying a page, it doesn't consume any power.
books, 3rd Generation
Now I can almost hear the sighing of others at the thought of electronic books; "doesn't have the sensation of paper/end of the world etc." but my own experience is somewhat different. If I want read a book for the first time, then the real item is still a good place to start. I've just read Pynchon's "Inherent Vice" and despite its hardback bulk, it was a good way to enjoy it.

But what's fun with the electronic readers is the ability to dip into a book. Like those piles of books by the bedside, its quite easy to select a few and just browse/refresh. To skim read something again because its available. Don't ask me why, but Machiavelli's Prince and Carroll's Alice in Wonderland were a couple of my recent choices. Not to mention another 5-6 pages of Ulysses on the iPhone.

Of course, I'm mainly beta testing the future doing this, to see what will happen when the high serial number devices start appearing.

I think it provides a different way to access books, like Wifi radio provides a different experience (almost any radio station in the world) and VOD, iPlayer and iTunes change television viewing and music listening with time-shift and infinite libraries.

Naturally, I intend to keep buying real books as well as encouraging others to do so (especially a certain one that is moving inexorably towards proper publication), so I'll see these other mechanisms as additions. It will be interesting to see how it all develops compared with television and music.

Monday 28 September 2009

cheese and chianti, anyone?

cheese and chiantiI thought that Mono Amine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs) were no longer used as an antidepressant.

That selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) had taken over because they had less side effects.

So when I see this stuff in the press about our Prime Minister connected with the use of prescription drugs, I assume its just some scandal mongering.

The story was out in the Independent a few weeks ago, but yesterday's big television interview saw it reach a wider audience just before the start of the Labour conference week.

And then around midnight I heard the Chancellor's highly critical speech decrying the state of his own party, which initially I thought was some kind of spoof, until I listened to more of the programme.

I suppose it will be like this for a few weeks now. The new political season creaks into life, everyone assumes that Brown is hanging out for 2010 so we'll just have to put up with the static. But we can't allow ourselves to get depressed about it. Think of the side effects.

(painting L Schindler)

Sunday 27 September 2009


Sunday Morning in Battersea Park
Just 7.5 degrees Centigrade this morning, making me wonder whether my hurried choice of tee-shirt was such a good idea.

Then grey mist before the sun smiled through to blast it all away. I was enjoying the morning before the majority of people had started their day. There's a sense of accomplishment to have 'done something' before others are even awake.

Where I spotted others, they were mainly walking or jogging in ones and twos and as I flickered past on my bicycle.

In that traffic reduced and quiet time of early Sunday, several times I heard people humming or chanting.

Peacefully at one with the morning.
peace pagoda

Saturday 26 September 2009

spider hunt weekend with buglife

i spider The roaming reporters for rashbre central have advised me of the excellent news that this weekend is officially spider hunt weekend.

I had no prior knowledge, but it turns out the buglife charity has organised spider spotting complete with a groovy spider spotting guide.

Fortunately I preserve the anonymity of rashbre central's exact location, because it could very well be an epicentre for bug spotters based upon the recent bathroom discovery. Anyway, by using their reference pictures, I'm pretty sure that the bathroom spiderettes are descendants of pholcus phalangioides - daddy longlegs spider (not daddy longlegs the insect).


Because I eventually found the parents skulking in corners of the same room.

The squat little hoppy spider that hides around the wires by the computer is presumably a common zebra jumping spider and the ones on the outside of the windows look like true window lace weavers and slightly larger garden cross spiders.

The one with the thundering hooves in the garage is probably a hairy legged house spider.

Or an orc.

Anyway, armed with my new knowledge, I decided to conduct a small rescue operation for the ones in the bathroom. A strawberry jam jar, some A4 paper and about ten minutes of activity has seen most of them migrate back to outdoors.

I have a feeling that some of them will be back.

love spiders
spider cake from buglife

Friday 25 September 2009

just the beer light to guide us

Watching the sun rise this morning, over the Amstel River, in Amsterdam.

Last night I'd been driven to a fancy restaurant, in a colleague's new car which is like something from Star Trek. It booted up with a barrage of flashing lights including a head up display onto the windscreen. A few minutes drive and we'd locked radar on to the car in front. The system used the car ahead's speed to guide us. If we switched lanes the auto pilot would speed us up until another car in front was acquired in the speed management system.

Then for parking. The maps on the satnav disappeared and a closed circuit television picture of the kerbside appeared. Touch the screen to show where to park and the car reverse parked into the spot. No hands.

Eventually back to my hotel, with its flat screen telly in the bath. I didn't have time to watch it though, because of the early start this morning to head back to London for another busy day.

Compared with last night, my taxi back to the airport was decidedly less space age, having some difficulty with modest gradients, showing its quarter of a million kilometres on the dial.

Then, much later, after a day of meetings and watching the same sun set, I'm finally back at rashbre central. I've decided I will leave it until another sunrise before I check for the spiders from mars in my own television free bathroom.
telly in the bathroom

Thursday 24 September 2009

bathroom chronicles

spider booby trap
I only noticed a couple to start with.

In the bathroom.

They stood out against the white paintwork on the windowsill. Hardy visible, it was a small movement that I caught from the corner of my eye.

I’d just put down a cup and I think the vibration disturbed one.

or maybe a splash of coffee.


Tiny ones.

I looked more closely and there were several more. I soon counted to a dozen. But I was in a hurry and just closed the door on them as I headed for the car.

I’ve been away a few days and not been back into that room. I did today.

They have spread out. Dozens. They are on most walls. In the bath. Still tiny. Mainly not moving. I can’t easily see their webs, except if I get close.

Right now, I’m on the road again, but wondering what will greet me when I return and open that door again.

Wednesday 23 September 2009

calling long distance on a public saxophone

3rd flight this week
I don't always post about my travels, but most weeks I'm away somewhere on business for at least a short time. This week I'm about to get my third flight and then another one Friday will round it all off nicely.

I'm having to play a sort of futures game with my calendar though, because I have quite a few plates spinning. I'm needing to work out which plates can have just a gentle extra turn, versus the ones that need fuller attention.

This situation also means that some of my occasional "spare blog posts" drift onto the system, when I don't have even a spare 10 minutes to write something.

What happens is that occasionally I have an extra thought or two and madly scribble them into rashbre central whilst also thinking that even if I posted them no-one would read a whole series from a single day, so I save them for another time. It doesn't work with anything really newsworthy, but for general musings its still appropriate.

The strange thing is that often the posts don't ever re-surface, because when I re-read them, I'll still think how things have moved on or the moment has passed.

"Gotta keep on movin', gotta keep on groovin'" as someone once said.

Tuesday 22 September 2009

Dan Brown's Lost Symbol's hidden chapters

Whilst in Heathrow last week, I had to climb over the heaps of new Dan Brown Novels piled high.

Of course, most people still don't know about the hidden secret sequel contained within the main novel. I've managed to extract the opening scene after following the instructions coded into the book's spine.

Renowned curator Jacques Saunière staggered through a Dan Brown opening sentence.

Nearby, a voice spoke, chillingly close. "Do not move." On his hands and knees, the curator froze, turning his head slowly. Only fifteen feet away, outside the sealed gate, the mountainous silhouette of his attacker stared through the iron bars. He was broad and tall, with ghost-pale skin. His irises were pink with dark red pupils.

The attacker carried himself like an angry ox, with his wide shoulders thrown back and his chin tucked hard into his chest. His dark hair was slicked back with oil, accentuating an arrow-like widow's peak that divided his jutting brow and preceded him like the prow of a battleship. As he advanced, his dark eyes seemed to scorch the earth before him, radiating a fiery clarity that forecast his reputation for unblinking severity in all matters.

Only those with a keen eye would notice his 14-karat gold bishop's ring with purple amethyst, large diamonds, and hand-tooled mitre-crozier appliqué on this attacker’s hand.

Death, in this forsaken place, could come in countless forms. Erstwhile geologist, now curator, Saunière had endured the savage splendor of many rugged terrain for years, and yet nothing could prepare him for a fate as barbarous and unnatural as the one about to befall him.
"The Knights Templar were warriors," the curator reminded, the sound of his aluminum crutches echoing in this reverberant space. Then he smelled burning flesh, and he knew it was his own.

“My French stinks”, Langdon thought, “but my zodiac iconography is pretty good”, as, two hours later, he made his way towards the scene of the gruesome crime.

Earlier he had been sitting all alone in the enormous cabin of a Falcon 2000EX corporate jet as it bounced its way through turbulence. In the background, the dual Pratt & Whitney engines hummed evenly.

Then he’d been whisked to this vaulted archway of the museum's Grand Gallery.

Although not overly handsome in a classical sense, the forty-year-old Langdon had what his female colleagues referred to as an ‘erudite’ appeal — wisp of gray in his thick brown hair, probing blue eyes, an arrestingly deep voice, and the strong, carefree smile of a collegiate athlete.

He’d learned the ropes in the trenches, ever since, as a boy, he had fallen down an abandoned well shaft and almost died treading water in the narrow space for hours before being rescued. Since then, he'd suffered a haunting phobia of enclosed spaces - elevators, subways, squash courts.

Pulling back the sleeve of his jacket, he checked his watch - a vintage, collector's-edition Mickey Mouse wristwatch that had been a gift from his parents on his tenth birthday.

He sighed audibly as he remembered.

Right now, he could taste the familiar tang of museum air - an arid, deionized essence that carried a faint hint of carbon - the product of industrial, coal-filter dehumidifiers that ran around the clock to counteract the corrosive carbon dioxide exhaled by visitors.

He nodded as he remembered that five months ago, the kaleidoscope of power had been shaken, and Aringarosa was still reeling from the blow.

Monday 21 September 2009

more from the Skyride

Travelling today, up at 4:45 a.m. to catch a plane, so above is a further somewhat promotional video from Sunday's fun in London and below is a one minute timelapse from start to end of the day.

Sunday 20 September 2009

Skyride London 2009: So good I did it twice

I cycled to the start of the London Skyride along the north bank of the Embankment, from around the Chelsea Bridge area. It's a handy route because there’s cycle lanes most of the way and also some pavement sections with markings.

By the time I got to Parliament Square, there was already good evidence of bikes and then I noticed extra road closures (such a Whitehall) to make the access easier.

I was on my little folding bike as I figured it gave me the most options in case anything untoward happened.

In practice, it was an excellent event with great weather. Some chaotic parts around a few of the road crossings, but a gently improving sunny day and just about everyone involved was there for some good natured fun. A few superbikes and super-riders, for sure, but a broad spectrum from kids on bikes with stabilisers, tandems, racers, hybrids, staggeringly expensive looking off-road mountain bikes which I assume would be harder to ride on pure tarmac, fixies, folders, trikes, recumbants, novelty bikes and even Piano-man.

In fact, I called out to Piano-man Oliver Cumming when I spotted him heading the opposite way along the Mall - I'd recognised him from the recent burning piano (catstress photo) incident back at Union Chapel a week ago.
Piano Man returns with bicycle piano
Having reached what I deemed to be the start, I headed around the circuit, which was around 15km from Buck House, through Trafalgar Square, along the Embankment, past St Pauls and out to Tower Hill and then back along a similar route. It was an easy spin and surprisingly quick without traffic to deal with.

In fact, as I got back to the starting area, thought “that was fun, I’ll do it again”. Let it be said that the second circuit was considerably slower. Not because of fatigue, simply sheer volume of traffic. London had become like Copenhagen, but without some of the cycling protocols. From my several months in the Temporary Apartment in CPH early in 2009, I think they have already nailed the Copenhagen Cycle Chic.

Photographers waiting for Boris to cycle
By luck, I arrived at the starting area for the second lap at around the time Boris Johnson was doing his photocall. I stopped and managed to get some pictures of the 100 metres that he, Kelly Brook and Gethin Jones cycled with Sir Chris Hoy and which was well recorded by scores of photographers.
Boris + Kelly in the photo opportunityLike the opening of the plinth, another 'scene stealer' managed to get past the carefully staged start of the short section and will no doubt appear in some of the press- his tee shirt read "Rules are for Fools". Boris called out something to him as he shot past, and Boris's little contingent seemed suitably amused.
The kid who zapped ahead of Boris
As a reflection, once sitting in the park with other cyclist, it was quite interesting to look at what would happen in London if cycling really did take off in the way of some other foreign cities. There’s still more work on road markings and some aspects of traffic protocol if London is to deal with a considerable increase in volume.

I must admit that I’m all for it. This is a scheme where Boris has hit a good cause and should look for ways to extend it. London Cycle Chic, as they say.
St James Park during Skyride

Saturday 19 September 2009

ahoy - batten down t' hatches

dangerous pirate shipBy the Powers, aye, me was wonderin' whether t' be a scallywag 'nd post somethin' in the pirate speak for talk like a pirate day.

Avast ye, methinks tis easier t' use a pirate speech translator. Belay that, tis wi a wannion for lily-livered lubbers.

Swashbucklin' gentlemen 'o fortune knows how t' talk proper.

Ahoy, me hearties.

Yo ho ho.

skyride in london

Nearly forgot to mention tomorrow's cycling day in London.

Plenty of interesting roads are closed to traffic (except bicycles) so it gives a chance for some enjoyable sightseeing.

I may have to dig out the bike-cam again. Here's a snip from last year...

Friday 18 September 2009

the thames they are a changin'

I was about to open my norfansarf on this topic and then it all changed. The new tube maps for London have been streamlined for content and readability. Overall, this is a good thing and has decluttered the map considerably.

The two strangest omissions though, were the River Thames and the Zones.

I gather that Mayor Boris (Chairman of TfL) has belatedly twittered to ask for the return of the wiggly blue stripe to help delineate norf and sarf of the river. I muse that the potential continued omission of the Zones will be either a way to generate revenue from fines or a Good Excuse usable by tourists who stray out of Zone 1.

My forecast is that both the River and the Zones will return.

Next question, how much spent on the revision? I bet I know where to find out.

Meantime, londonist have an even simpler version for tourists.declutteredtubemap

Wednesday 16 September 2009

I'll be the roundabout

A two alarm start today, to be sure to be airside early. Coffee, a BA croissant in the lounge, rendezvous with the others and onward to a plane.

Not so much later, we were in hills, sunshine and the smell of freshly cut grass.

All in a day's work.

Driving, offices, meetings, handshakes, airside again for a couple of beers and then watching scenery flickering past the wing until landing ten minutes before a phone conference.

Admiring an evening sky as the sun melted thin clouds across a pink and purple horizon.

You change the day your way
Call it morning driving thru the sound and
In and out the valley
I'll be the roundabout
The words will make you out n out


Tuesday 15 September 2009

perhaps thats the point of it all

Very occasionally I look at my search engine stats and it usually prompts a smile and a thought that I could help that person further (if only...).

Today's "cucumber London" is a case in point. I think I know what they were getting at. So here's an hour of search terms hitting rashbre central, in sequence with a few linking words to make more of a story.

A cold latte before a deep dive.
make this perfect dream.

Not only the nice girls know
how to short the market.
It's no future science since
neil armstrong on the moon

vivienne westwood punk,
doctor who 11 with a few
cardboard boxes or joanna kelly, curling producer
and power tools in a
convent garden create a
countryside scene.

Outside, the book shop signals
as an autumn faery
crosses the cucumber london, figarude.

Monday 14 September 2009

they've got excitement and life by the fistful but you've got the meaning

It's Tuesday when I'm writing this Monday post whilst I wait for my PC to re-install some automatic software. Monday was another compressed day where I eventually stopped for a refuel at around nine in the evening. I'm getting some of my 'task boxes' ticked though but then inevitably another appears demanding some kind of unexpected attention.

As I mapped out the week in my head looking for one of those 'and rest' moments it seems to be at least a couple of weeks into the future, with most days pre-programmed. When I idly looked at my inbox for travel arrangements, I noticed another 5 flights have slid in and during Monday a sixth one looks probable for next week.

So I shall be doing my best to find the ten or so minutes to pen some kind of ongoing blog post. Like others, there's always incomplete adventures, partial projects and storylines that never quite make it.

I'm not sure that I mind. It's representative.

Sunday 13 September 2009

Amanda Palmer at Union Chapel

Amanda Palmer
We took position opposite the chapel, in the library, where there were already others clothed as if not from the local area. The darkly clad man with the triangular hat and the large and slightly disturbing sock puppet were the first we noticed, followed by another puppet with black buttons for eyes. We were entering a zone where Brechtian punk cabaret seemed to be intersecting with a few characters who would be at home in Coraline or Struwwelpeter.

A Guinness and some fancy Belgian beers later and we'd spotted the pedal operated piano navigating the Islington traffic system. Eventually after the piano's return and hearing applause from an impromptu song from Amanda outside the chapel, we decided it was time for us cross the road from the pub to the event.

Two lines, so we joined the shorter one, soon to be advised by one of those very puppets that we needed to change to the longer queue, which now snaked out of the building, along the road, down some steps and finished somewhere in the gyratory system.
piano apparition
We good-naturedly walked the smiling faces, many people clearly dressed for the occasion and as we did so, the pianist started to have trouble with the piano which by now was belching orange flames from its interior, along with clouds of black smoke. Undeterred, he played on, accompanied by a vocalist similarly unperturbed by the change of circumstance.

Inside the chapel, we realised that those ahead of us had now filled most of the seats. We remembered the side staircase and found our way to the gallery. Ideal for a perfect view.

First was Essex-based Polly Scattergood, shimmering in silver, accessorised with pink, playing quirky songs of pills and vulnerability accompanied by a small band with some rather loud drums. We applauded in all the right places as Polly delivered around five songs from her debut album. The audience was warm, but as she mentioned the name of the act to follow there was a noticeable burst of added appreciation.

Before the main act, the chapel's organ was played by a shadowy maestro who had to sit behind the stage. A delightful interlude.

And so onto Amanda. Palmer. Neil Gaiman had already taken a spot near the front and Beth Hommel was doing things with papers and water on the stage.

Amanda appeared, moved to the front and sang 'The wind that shakes the barley', unaccompanied.

Total silence from the audience until the end of the song and then a reverberation to lift the roof from the church. We could sense we were in for a great show.

Sure enough, the KurtWeil keys were then caressed and Amanda' poise became at one with the instrument which she could coax or attack as the song and mood demanded.

A blend of well-known songs from her recent excellent album and an equal mix of other choices, from other works and from friends with whom she collaborates. "Oasis" was introduced with a comment about us all going to Hell and although "Leeds United" was omitted, I'm including a video link to it anyway.

The set ran smoothly, interspersed with chatter, questions, a picture auction and a chance for Polly Scattergood to perform an unusual rendition of Puff the Magic Dragon with Amanda on keys.

There's a magic to the venue and even Amanda admitted that she'd decided she had better think out a 'proper set' for the performance, which came across as polished but with a strong rapport engaging the audience from the very start.
Amanda Palmer & Neil Gaiman
There was an endearing moment whilst she remembered the chords for a song someone requested. At another time, she invited her partner Neil Gaiman onstage and he sang a short 'hymn' which Amanda accompanied on piano. It certainly didn't fall flat on its face either.

Amanda ran the timing right to the 10:30 curfew wire, but then still managed to finish with another unaccompanied and wrenching version of 'the song nobody else can cover': Tori Amos's 'Me and a gun', from which I sense more than a few tears were shed. Then to boost it back up for the final number with stabbing keys and a suitably rousing finale.

After the houselights, we headed back to the bar for a further Red Stripe and a chance to chatter about the concert. Much later we left, and as we walked out, there was still a line of people snaking through the chapel towards the seat where Amanda sat signing and chatting, accompanied by Neil.

Amanda Palmer makes her own unique path through the world and music and it is great when this spirit alights even momentarily to allow us to share in the experience. I predict scaffolding and roof repairs to the chapel following the level of applause.

Come back soon.

girl anachronism

Oh, and for those in the line that thought the pedal piano wasn't functional...Thanks rajkumariji.

Saturday 12 September 2009

whats the use of wondering?

Some might think I've had a few lazy days with my feet up not posting much although the reality is that I've been busy and out until late in the evenings.

From last Monday when I had a six a.m. start, right the way through to last night, its been meetings, trips and some modest social moments included.

I still prefer to post something most days and so when such a gap occurs I even sometimes back post. I know its only really for me and that sometimes its just a picture or a few sentences, but it keeps a stuttery narrative rather than ponderous gaps.

It also helps me to put down brief markers for things which I may return to later. Today I'm soon to head for Camden. We're meeting in a pub for a late lunch and then much later some of us will head across to Amanda Palmer's gig.

Friday 11 September 2009

triangulation stations

The small padded envelope arrived just as I was about to head out for a meeting. I assumed it was a CD or DVD or similar and din't have time to open it.

When I returned much later, it turned out to be the first printed copy of The Triangle. I fear the English language is in for another shock.

Thursday 10 September 2009

massage with the soup?

soup of the day - mushroom
I've been around the back streets of Euston and St Pancras today, in an area once referred to as Somers Town. I arrived for my evening liaison rather early because I had conference calls to make and needed to be somewhere static before I headed for the appointed wine bar.

The instructions to navigate to the bar involved alleyways and a pole dancing club as a landmark. I sipped my coffee whilst on my phone calls and was seated outdoors across the way from the roped entrance to a massage parlour, complete with blackened windows and flashing lights.

When I finally met my accomplice for the evening, she commented that there had perhaps been people in the flashing light place wondering if I was planning to go in.

Wednesday 9 September 2009

Where were you at 9/09/09 09:09? I was doing email...

turing1I'm bemused that Gordon Brown stayed quiet about the Libyan bomber release as long as he did and created several situations where the UK Press wondered at Brown's lack of voice. Then a topic he chose to use to make an apology and use the "S" word was the treatment of master cryptographer Alan Turing, who famously cracked the codes being used in World War II but suffered harsh treatment in post War Britain.

Turing is well known for the Turing test, which postulates that a computer can be considered to think if sufficient people are unable to ask it questions and deduce it as a machine, rather than a human. The CAPTCHA test used on some blogs (where you have to recognise some letters in order to make a comment) is a Turing derivative standing for "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart”.

I'm wondering if the Labour Party have done something odd with Gordon now, and that there's a separate box somewhere with some special springs and cogs in it, attempting to run the UK?

Sunday 6 September 2009

yellowmancrossing attracts

Such fun to see that the whimsically created 'yellow man crossing' pool in flickr is beginning to attract pictures.

The slightly mangled one above is from Kimberly Faye and it seems there's other followers of this phenomena sprinkled around the interweb.

Saturday 5 September 2009


Aside from the day that very important people turned up and wanted luggage transported in my car, the lack of a boot space hasn't really been much of an issue for the last two weeks.

But, at last, the problem has been fixed, along with a Service B, some new brake bits and a walk with an umbrella.

They say nature abhors a vacuum so within minutes the usual random collection of stuff re-submerged into the recesses of the newly pingy boot as if some giant electro magnet had been switched on.
reboot universe

Tomorrow there will be a further test, when the little Ka returns and no doubt huge further amounts of luggage will be temporarily moved into the boot for onward transportation.

Reboot universe, as they say on some traffic lights.

Friday 4 September 2009


Pestival under construction
The large Termite Mound which has sprung up along the South Bank is part of the Pestival celebration of insects which runs through this weekend.

I happened to be passing it whilst it was being created and thought the combination of bars, construction workers and little crowds of onlookers was itself quite a spectacle. Now, of course, it is suited to far more artistic views.

And the related exhibits include all manner of bug and particularly the dwindling bee.

Some of the creatures get to that uncomfortably large size that turns them from cute into eversoslightlyscary. I haven't quite worked out the turning point, but maybe its whether or not all the legs could be contained within an upturned coffee mug?

I always think of September as spider month, because it seems to be the time when they decide they've had enough outdoors and start to patrol the carpets again.

Thursday 3 September 2009

wind rush

I was listening today to someone on the radio talking about how to watch nature by sitting still on a rock and waiting. The generally wary wildlife stops computing one's presence after a while and returns to the area.

I guess that works better in country areas than in the city. Like the difference between country hedgehogs and townie ones. The country ones try to stare down the car headlights. The city ones run.

Like crossing Traf Square to wave to the plinther. As usual, the pigeons don't care. They fly so close I can feel the wind rush from their wings.
Cat Robinson

Wednesday 2 September 2009

carpet of leaves

In amongst the West End bustle today. It is still school summer holidays for a few days, but there's a change as we hit September and the leaves are already showing signs of the turning season.

I walked past Downing Street and was slightly bemused by the abnormal quantity of brown leaves strewn across the entrance. So many that men with brooms were clearing them away.

Then flitting between my meetings in different parts of town in one of those logistically challenged days where there would be an inevitable schedule mishap. It happened when I was stuck in a deluge of rain by a noisy train station, trying to find the right code number to access a conference call, where two of the digits had been transposed.

"its easily done", commented a friendly voice from Houston, when I finally joined, but in my head I was thinking about those leaves. Not exactly under the carpet, but close.