rashbre central: May 2011

Tuesday 31 May 2011

midday sun

The streets around here are looking a little different from my usual ones.

Somehow brighter.
Quite often narrower.
Noticably steeper.
And in some areas just as bustling.

Like London there are also different personalities, based upon time of day. This picture is probably around mid day, when only the mad dogs and Englishmen abound. Later the area goes a bit bonkers.

But my mission later is to pick up a car.

It will be very small.

Monday 30 May 2011


A mini mission was built into today as we were told of a particular bar to find a particular drink. The cloudiness of the drink in no way represents the sky above, which remains resolutely blue.

Quitr often this is the time that we visit rashbre north in Scotland, although this year's change of venue gives scenery a little different and the deer have given way to pelicans.

Sunday 29 May 2011

Sunshine week

There's a sun shade for me down there
This post is a hint that it might be difficult to post during this week. Although I do seem to have discovered a wi-fi signal.

It's also rather fun having a famous film star as a next door neighbour.

Saturday 28 May 2011

white kitten intermission conference call wait video

Am I the only one that sometimes watches these videos when I'm waiting for a conference call to start?

Friday 27 May 2011

if you know what I mean

Just refreshing my iPod (yes old school) ready for some time away. I think Cults need to be on the playlist.

They've come up through the bandcamp route (a few online tracks preceding success). I know its all a bit retro, but it's certainly not twee, if you know what I mean. Edgy twee, maybe.

If you've not heard them but want to decide on a new band for some great listening this weekend, then here's a track, complete with the listening comments. If you know what I mean.

Cults - You Know What I Mean by cultscultscults

prepared, for once

It's slightly unusual to be prepared to travel several days in advance. It's usually the night before, chucking a few items into a well used bag with wheels.

This time there's already a little heap of clothes and bits ready for tomorrow's departure and I may even put some into the car tonight to save time in the morning.

But for now, it's work.

Thursday 26 May 2011

more marmite

This was in the adjacent cupboard.

You can sort of sense the gloopyness.
mmmguinness marmite

Wednesday 25 May 2011

marmite moment

I've always liked the advertising for Marmite, along the lines "we don't care whether you like it or not" and the subsequent quotes around "its like Marmite, some do, some don't".

There's always been the Marmite Love and Marmite Hate sites - both with links from Marmite's home site.

It's reached a whole new level now that a whole country has banned it.

The guilty secret cupboard at rashbre central now has a stash of substance that's illegal in Denmark.

Tuesday 24 May 2011

a Grimsvötn's gonna fall

Iceland Grimsvötn
I've been sniffing the air to try to detect this year's Icelandic volcano dust heading my way.

Last year's one did create a sort of brown smear in the air but at the moment it's all clear blue up above.

We do already get those mystery days when the car has a sudden layer of glittery dust on it, although I usually put it down to sand storms in a distant desert.

And I'd have thought that planes flying around in Arizona or parts of the Middle East or Africa would also have to filter away various kinds of dust particle?

I suppose its like the British railways with 'wrong kind of snow', where this would be 'wrong kind of grit'?

Anyway, now we've got the Cobra committee deciding what to do as the days tick nervously towards a long weekend when I intend to use my passport.

Well on Dylan's birthday Grimsvötn's 'grim waters' do indeed become a hard rain that's gonna fall.


QuaglinosWe found ourselves in St James at Quaglino's. There's a few traditional London haunts that one goes back to like le Gavroche any time, Langham's for lunch and Quag's in the evening.

All three have secrets for a Londoner, so when we booked Quag's we decided to opt for the Champagne Menu.

This may sound counter-intuitive but actually the whole three courses with bubbly can be enjoyed for a very reasonable all-inclusive amount.

AperitifQuaglino's is something of a London institution, tucked away just around the corner from the Ritz and other bits of the high-life.

Along the years its had updates and revisions but continues to feature the upstairs bar, complete with a jazz band from quite early in the evening, and then down the marble sweeping staircase to the buzzy restaurant.

The food is brasserie style and well-prepared. There's plenty of waiters around and good attention although my blur-vision picture above may not do it much justice. And that was just on the berry smash fruit cocktail.

QuaglinosThe team style service worked well and we had an enjoyable evening. It was obvious that the people around us were also enjoying themselves and overall there was that pleasant uplifted happy-vibe from the tables.

A place to be a part of the scene and to watch others similarly engaged.


Monday 23 May 2011

flare path

flare path
After my Isle of Wight post referencing Sienna Miller at Steephill Cove, the least we could do was return the favour and visit her in her current West-End show at the Haymarket.
It's Terence Rattigan's wartime story of a Bomber Command airbase in Lincolnshire and the to-ings and fro-ings based in the adjacent hotel. Rattigan himself was a tail-gunner on bombers, so there's some direct realism to parts of the plotline as well as the central story of the actress played by Sienna.
The main plot is a love triangle handled with 1940's embarrassed manners and massive use of understatement, except for moments when the stress of bottled up emotions are allowed to run riot.
We get a spectrum of English class portrayed within the confines of the hotel suite with riotous off-stage bawdiness in the adjacent lounge bar.
The story's backdrop revolves around the air-crew spending time in the hotel between missions. To the front is the playing out of the scenes between Sienna, her movie-star lover and her bomber pilot husband from a whirlwind wartime romance.
Throw in a perilous overnight mission and there's a full and engaging story for the characters.
A very enjoyable production, a warm-hearted ending and some insights into a very different world of some 70 years ago.

Sunday 22 May 2011

all watched over by machines of loving grace

all watched over b y machines of loving grace
There's a show on during the week about the rise of the machines. Adam Curtis splices together footage and commentary to build a picture of global cybernetics.

I've only seen the trailer, but I know the pre-internet 60's Brautigan poem.

I've always liked the idea of quiet technology - "It just works" - rather than "edit the Registry, touch your nose and re-boot three times/anyone know how to get a picture?" type technology.

But there's a downside to the stillness too. More integration means the machines start to put things together. Miles and miles of files, Links, Connections, Co-incidences. This could be good, but the machine isn't judgemental.

That's where the power and the money switch in.

Saturday 21 May 2011

postcards from the cove

Today was a 'good breakfast' day. Weekday breakfasts are usually hurried and even when I was away in a hotel for part of this week it was still improvisation over style.

So I was in mid-preparation when a newspaper arrived. It fell open in the travel section and lo and behold, there was a full page picture of Steephill Cove.

It's a small beach area we go to on the Isle of Wight and indeed were there a few weeks ago (over the Royal Wedding weekend - I even posted a picture of the view).

You really need to know about it and there isn't really a proper access for vehicles, so it can be kind of secluded.

The little boathouse in the picture is a restaurant - mainly seafood - and rather a sought after spot. The cafe next door serves a decent cuppa and ice cream too.

Steephill is around a twenty minute dawdle along the collapsing cliff edge from Ventnor, which is a kind of rashbre southern. And don't look too closely at neighbours around the Cove. They could include Sienna Miller, Robert Pattinson and Kate Moss.

Here's an aerial shot from our balcony in Ventnor, past the Spyglass Inn and showing the route to Steephill. You can just see the Cove's white Lighthouse structure in the background.

Yikes - It feels as if I'm sending Postcards...
Spyglass Inn

I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow

bob dylan and suze rotolo
Watching the old Scorsese documentary of Bob Dylan on playback late in the evening.

It's Dylan's 70th birthday on Tuesday and it was interesting to see the footage of him right back at the beginning.

It's a birthday month around rashbre central too, with new beginnings in the extended family. Emma May is a pretty addition at the current age of zero.

And Saturday we're celebrating Julie's birthday whilst noting card shops doing brisk business for others having birthdays at plus or minus a couple of days from now.

The Dylan documentary starts with observations of those already performing and the way that Dylan picked up his trade. Then the Bleecker Street set commenting on Dylan carrying forward the message from the beat generation. Distilling ideas by observation, literally how the chords were formed and the music plucked. Even I watched his thumb making chords on the E -string.

A little different now, with the virtualisation of much culture for many. There's plenty of tabs of 'e-everything' on Safari, but eMusic, eBooks and eThought are not as direct as Performance.

Friday 20 May 2011


The screeching and screeing from the garden was particularly loud this evening as a commotion of newbie starlings more or less tumbled from the bush where they've been keeping a nest.

The birds are already the same size as their parents although they'll use maximum volume to get fed without doing any work themselves.

London is usually associated with pigeons which I regard as the bird for the tourists. A little bit slow and gawking but well suited to photo opportunities.

By comparison the starlings always fly around like formation jet fighters and have a commuter-like sense of purpose.

They hit the ground with a swagger and get right on with whatever they're doing.

Thursday 19 May 2011

directors cut

Sergei Eisenstein editing October in 1928
It will be a while before I have listened to all of the new material from Kate Bush, who has just released an album after a many year gap.

It appears to be re-cuts of a number of her earlier songs plus re-designs of a couple of well known albums.

directors cut - kate bushIt's a tricky one to decide whether the original sounds - many of which are quite haunting and instantly memorable - work well in a sudden album makeover.

With live bands its easier, because the variants get played in concerts and the good ones rise to the surface.

I hope there will be some net new material to follow and maybe a tour to try some of it in front of us?

With other artists performing some of Kate's tracks and some listeners not knowing the originals, the press picture is quite apposite. The top picture is Sergei Eisenstein editing 'October' back in 1928.
Kate Bush editing Director's Cut in 2011

Wednesday 18 May 2011

strange powers

Strange Powers
I'm not certain that we needed any more Strange Powers around here but some have arrived anyway.

This is the little DVD from Stephin Merritt and the Magnetic Fields, which included some of us chipping in a few dollars towards the project - a bit like that thing with naked wines where you buy the wine when it's still on the vine.

Only this is music.

the sun pours down like honey
the moon runs down like mercury
the stars fall down like money
and you come down to me

and i can't sleep
cause you got strange powers
you’re in my dreams
strange powers

Tuesday 17 May 2011

a meeting near scenery

Shopping in Sainsburys GloucesterMy mid-evening trip to Gloucester worked fine and meant I would be 'in position' for the next morning.

The hotel was in an industrial area and the bar seemed to be filled with people attending a business conference. Unlike my hotel last week, there were no obvious signs of what they were discussing and I decided anyway to head for my room.

My blackberry was flashing and beeping the usual stream of requests, some of which required me to log-on properly to my laptop and beam out various documents. It was already late so I left this admin for the morning.

The morning alarm clock ping saw me configuring the wi-fi to send out documents to Germany and Holland. I was thinking that the 'in room coffee-making' tasted so much better with the milk I'd bought in the nearby superstore the night before.

Then onward to meet colleagues, past a large room seething with delegates for the mystery conference.

My own little team found a small round table to huddle ahead of our unrelated session in a rather more modest room.

By mid-afternoon we were finished and I took the scenic route back, even stopping for a stroll in the hilly bit around Birdlip.

Monday 16 May 2011

normal day at rashbre central

jessie evans and toby dammit
A pretty normal start today, although I seem to have got distracted at some point, judging by how far behind schedule I'm running at the moment.

There's been early morning texts of good news, noisy visitors and the later discovery that the land-line phone has been broken since last week. Add sitting in front of a Windows screen doing tappy-tappy things.

I've decided to get out of town tonight and so I'm heading for a hotel somewhere around Gloucester before tomorrow's meetings.

Sunday 15 May 2011

at the end of the universe

Tardis and Doctor
I spent Saturday evening watching television, right from the excellent tea-time frolics of Doctor Who all the way through to the alien adventures of Eurovision.

One of the shows was set in a kind of space station at the end of the universe. It resembled a late 20th Century dance club. The other show moved it on into something a little more 21st Century.

In the case of Doctor Who, there were plenty of references to other space and sci-fi series in the script as well as self references to old-school Doctor Who. Even a retro control room.

Pleasingly, the characters had a kind of Amanda Palmer meets Danger Ensemble look about them. Not surprising with Neil Gaiman as the writer of the episode.
danger ensemble and amanda palmer
Gaiman took the Doctor to a Neverwhere outside of the Universe. The Doctor even commented that it was somewhere he'd never been, which is fairly unusual nowadays.

It gave a chance for the plot to move up a level, presumably breaking through a few sealed doors along the way. Once a new piece of fundamental Who-history gets written there is no turning back because the fan-base will have it recorded for all time.
Suranne Jones and Matt Smith
So the Star Whale type construct of riding on a bubble on the edge of the Universe permitted the humanisation of a slightly delirious TARDIS. She (The TARDIS, excellently played by Suranne Jones) then had to rapidly make up for 'lost time' whilst hurling some great one-liners into the script. She simultaneously channeled Queenie from Blackadder whilst stating "Biting's like kissing only with a winner."

And we got a good backstory about the theft by the TARDIS of the Doctor "Back in the Day". I'm a great believer in Time stopping everything happening at once, so it's probably fortunate that most of this happened outside of the main Universe.

That way we didn't all suffer from a catastrophe that would create tears before bedtime. Although, it has to be said that the end of the episode created a tear-jerking morph of TARDIS back to being the soul of the machine.

The tears in the following programme were somewhat different as we watched the transition of Europop to европоп.

Yes, the Russian bloc have it.
Moldava at Eurovision
My own more trippy tastes were towards Moldova's Zdob şi Zdub or even the Irish Jedward entry, both of which featured Pop, strange headgear and whirly lights. Instead, after hours of sonics and two many Screwdrivers, we had a largely forgettable win from that epicentre of pop culture Azerbaijan. At least they dressed up.

I decided to clear my mind of all of this today and took out on my bicycle, finding myself in a Forest by a River. There was a Pond as well.

I may need help.

Saturday 14 May 2011

Oh, Crumbs!

So much for stealth.

I actually bought the orange packet last weekend.

But only opened it today. Quite carefully.

Immediate problem.

Crumbs trickled from the tear-around strip.

I moved the packet to clear the crumbs.

A single hobnob fell out.

More crumbs.

I picked it up carefully.

Crumbs now reaching to the floor.

This was getting out of control.

I placed the hobnob onto a surface.

Cleaned the crumbs.

Picked up the hobnob.

A ring of crumbs.

Maybe it was Time To Walk Away.

I looked behind me.

A trail. Crumbs on the carpet. Crumbs on the sofa.

This hobnob was going down fighting.

Friday 13 May 2011

internet closures for the weekend

shut down internet
My last few work days have included a particular spice, but because of my own rules about the content of this blog, I won't be able to say too much.

I'm usually quite good at predicting moves and outcomes, but on this occasion it's all taking a life of its own. I timed some parts of it for this weekend and my phone has been blipping away with texts and emails.

In the meantime, another work assignment has arrived, which means I'll be extremely busy next week. But I have to throw the big weekend switch at some point.

Reminds me of that button to turn off the internet.

Thursday 12 May 2011

cupboard consequence

I still have a link to last.fm here on rashbre central, and it still keeps a tally of tracks that get played on some of the rashbre central iTunes.

Today I noticed that its been mysteriously recording a whole series of Britney Spears tracks being played, although I can't remember listening. It turns out it was the fault of the New Cupboard.

It was delivered a couple of days ago and required placement in a room. This meant moving a few things including the television's computer. I realise that I'd somehow replugged it without checking what it was doing, and its started working its way through the alphabet of songs. Its only in the 'Bs' but has been playing tracks for a few days, undetected by me.

It was only when Britney's Toxicity track caught my eye that I spotted what has been happening. Still, if you've not heard the bedding track remix of Toxic by rashbre central (circa 2005) then here it is.

Wednesday 11 May 2011


earth and mir
This week I'm dealing with Helsinki and Houston, which is quite a timezone spread. The worst meeting scheduling was for 23:30, which was a tiny bit late to start a decent conversation.

The theory is that everyone can get together and have a single conversation, but sometimes it simply chops the debate into several smaller pieces. It's still possible to get the big picture, but it can also be somewhat filtered.

So I'll admit I'm thinking up some new plans at the moment, beyond inventing the 25 hour day.

...And I do realise that there's around 31 hours in the day already, if one follows the sun in the right direction.

But I suppose there's always a risk of going around in circles.

Tuesday 10 May 2011

trashed laureate

trashed laureate
A new form of Poet Laureate was created a few days ago, with the Trashed Laureate moments at the recent Trashed event. A simple process to collect lines, blend them together and create a single work, with the best lines awarded a laureate-like bottle of port.

[1] I want to live a million more lives;
dine with a million more people, say to each;
show me the workings of your world, 

before this one winds down.

[2]The house sags on itself as clumsily as a southpaw’s scribblings,
[3]The sky-blue of the china lay scattered;
[4]If you didn’t associate with anyone who’d done a bad thing…
you wouldn’t know anyone at all.

When you shout it makes me horny.
With a great aplomb, the frozen lugworm 

grew a third nostril and besmirched 
the bowl of peanuts with a large ironing board.

[5]The cymbals hiss, the dragons bliss 
soaring high the clouds do die.
Cornice gleam is cornish ice-cream
[6]Alluring, alliterative alliance of arts.
We toss our syllables towards the stars…

Hand in a Jar.

No ideas spring to mind, I’ve scoured the thoughtscape of my mind
Oh well least I tried, now be a good sport 

and hand me that port 

[7]Motors drone, lights shimmer
An ancient story Arcs through the night.
[8]Life is about randomness, it makes my soul shine.
Amazing, grazing its all about dazing
The beast of uncertainty stands before my eyes 

should I walk the right or be the man whom I despise?

[9]Make wine & drink the music.
Paint a beat and make a picture.
Oop, my soup is gloop!
[10]Ten green bottles, preening on the walls.

When you shout it all feels better

[1  Poet Laureate Winner : Jake Campbell]

[2 Claire Thomas]
[3 Viccy Adams]
[4 Rob John Waters]
[5 Andrew Sclater]
[6 the incomplete poet R.Viglionisi]
[7 Ben H]
[8 Sandra]
[9 Abraham Lincoln]
[10 Steve R]

Monday 9 May 2011

snoitcurtsni eht daer ton od

dog training DVD
It's a kind of reflective day for me today.

I've been into the main office and then working on a project with some folk in Sweden. On this occasion I've sidestepped the travel.

And perhaps because of the relatively slow pace of the weekend, I don't feel that I've caught up with the things I intended to do and have a slight sense of slipping backwards.

There's been a enough of those little "spanner in works" things popping up which have created a variety of deviations from plan.

Sometimes its better not to read the instructions.

Sunday 8 May 2011


focus cayo needs a clean
Sunday evening and I'm watching television.

Last weekend was pretty hectic and as it concluded a few of us sat together in a pub wondering how we'd packed so much in.

By contrast, this weekend has blurred for different reasons; a combination of Saturday's late start after a mid evening Friday return from the airport. I didn't even unpack until Saturday afternoon.

Add some household tasks and a Sunday bike ride followed by hours of business work and the weekend soon evaporated.

Right now I can hear the distant squeak of a blueberry cheesecake coming from the refrigerator.

It needs liberation.

Saturday 7 May 2011

frying tonight

tesla coil
We had a power outage at home yesterday and a resultant selection of devices that don't have battery backup have subtly revealed themselves over the last few hours.

Today I spotted a little box flashing an orange light as a sign that all was not well. Indeed the box and its twin were attached to a now dormant grey box that used to have pretty green and yellow lights flashing.

The power cut also shut down the home disk server and although it restarted itself, it decided to be a little secretive and not re-announce itself to the network.

I restarted it all in a couple of minutes, but it did remind me of the olden days of mystery device drivers and numerous reboots required to fix anything.

Normal service is now resumed albeit with one less grey box of now fried electronics. I'm not quite sure what it did anyway.

Friday 6 May 2011

vacuum packed

Flying around this week, with some early starts and late nights.

Along the way a languid evening meeting in a castle and a successful negotiation of the Brussels bus system. Then staying in a posh hotel that transformed itself overnight into a conference centre exhibiting bright orange tractor-sized cleaning systems for public spaces.

The hotel was very clean.

And the memorable and entirely genuine question from an over-travelled American colleague, who asked me which country we were in.

I had a chance to say, "It's Thursday, so it must be Belgium".

favicon in blogger

A reminder about how to set a 16x16 favicon to appear in Blogger:

<link rel='shortcut icon' href="http://myfaviconaddress.ico" type='image/x-icon'></link>

The insert goes after the <Title> in the HTML.

I just had to reset it because I changed templates.

Tuesday 3 May 2011


movin on
What a difference a day makes.

The signs of last week's London festivities have rapidly moved, as have the Press who have moved to the next paper filling story.

Truly a Shakespearean weekend of world events but strange to have been in a separate bubble whilst much of it was unfolding.