December 29, 2007
one of the great british christmas traditions is the release, under the 30 year law, of secret government papers. this year there were no really big surprises. but there were some nice stories. 1977 was the queen’s silver jubilee. i remember the streets being closed off, trestle tables and much alcohol. as far as i recall, at gentle bbc suggestion, people grouped together street by street and had parties. it’s the sort of thing that makes one feel old. it’s hard to imagine any event likely to induce such behaviour nowadays. anyway, the jubilee was a big event and there were official celebrations with visiting heads of state.unsolicited, idi amin sent a letter to the queen saying that he planned to attend and would bring 200 people with him, including royal dancers. he mentioned also that the UK economy had been taken over by asians and that he could help. at this time the UK government was not exactly seeing eye to eye with uganda and much discussion took place as to how this visit could be avoided. once memo from a senior civil servant discussed the potential outcome should the ugandan delegation not take too kindly to being denied entry upon landing at heathrow. any use of force, the memo says, may garner adverse publicity across the world. in the end they decide to stop anyone exiting the plane, refuel it, then point them back to the runway.
in a bbc radio interview david owen, the then foreign secretary, said that at one point he raised the possibility of assassinating amin with a senior diplomat that liaised with MI6. According to owen, the guy raised himself to his full height and said “We don’t do that sort of thing”, then added “any more.”
December 26, 2007
for christmas zac got a new pair of cruzshoes. like heelies, these are trainers with one wheel in each heel. they are everywhere. zac has owned a pair for a couple of years. it struck me today, that kids don’t even move in the same way i do. he never walks more than five yards without skating. i admit to being slightly envious. zac can run in them, play football etc, but they don’t perform as well as normal trainers unless you take out the wheel. what we need, i suggested to him, is retractable wheels. there’s a certain shuffle when he starts to skate, only then should the wheels protrude. i guess it’s only a matter of time. this got us onto the future evolutionary path of trainers. he favours hover shoes, maybe with flames shooting out of the back.
December 15, 2007
i’ve been complaining about the BBC’s windows only iplayer for ages. so have many other mac and linux users. the bbc, to their credit, does seem to take notice. i’ve had a couple of comments from senior tech people at the beeb, for example. and now they’ve released a flash player that works perfectly. now if only they’d let people out side the uk try it too . . .
December 14, 2007
terry has a post on airport security. Similarly i just got back from Berlin. I never pull out toiletries and place them in the required clear plastic bag and , up until today, have never had a problem. Similarly with cigarette lighters. However, in Berlin Shonefeld flughaven I was caught by security in possession of toothpaste and aftershave. I’d already gone through the scanner and been frisked. The gruff german opened my bag and demanded to know what i was doing with the offending items in my bag. I must, he said, put these in a clear bag. He then made me pay 50 cents for a bag. But i’d already gone through the checks. So i ended up putting them in a bag, then straight away taking them out again and repacking them. madness.
December 8, 2007
last night ita and i went to see “the mask of the red death” by punch drunk. we stood in the cold queuing along the street by the battersea arts centre for 20 minutes before donning a white mask each and the walking in shadows and darkness through incredibly detailed sets with actors moving about, talking quietly together in little scenes that you happened to stumble across. at one point you get to a tailor who gives you a cloak. here it becomes difficult to stay with the people you came with, since everyone looks the same. i wandered bemused, at times having to get on my knees to crawl through certain spaces, witnessing a murder of an old guy in a bed. a scream would drag you into another room where a fight was going on. later, through a large door, i emerged into a cabaret with magic acts, some vaudeville and alcohol. then a rush as we were all ushered out charging after the actors into a great hall with dozens of tiny lampshades suspended from the ceiling, large paintings, dark cloth suspended everywhere, purple tents in the corners, and a band. there follows an amazing dance routine, a great climax with DEATH itself, and then music and more alcohol into the night.
highly recommended and still on for the next few weeks. there can’t be many better evenings to be had in London at the moment.
December 6, 2007
i’ve been reading marlowe’s doctor faustus, not only the play but it’s origins (The Historie of the Damnable Life, and Deserved Death of Doctor Iohn Faustus). what really interests me are the parts that deal with the imagination of the protagonist. when one can have anything . . .
Marlow comes up with visiting nice places, meeting a few historical characters, smiting a few people, some cash, and shagging Helen of Troy. it just seems so pedestrian. try as i might i can’t think of a decent treatment, in any fiction i’ve come across, for this.
just after writing this i went to view a talk from philippe starck. it turned out it was on a similar theme.
i mentioned mark haddon’s “incident“, well i’m reading that to zac, but to zoe one of enid blyton’s famous five books. the juxtapostion is so good.
December 1, 2007
in one of the sherlock holmes stories our protagonist refers to memory as storage in an attic. he won’t fill it with junk. there is no evidence to support the view that you can in anyway fill your head with junk, but i hold with it anyway. i much prefer transcribing and trusting to another source. I have a horrific memory of an argument with my brother as to whether a mini we saw was a teacher’s car. we chanted the number plate over and over for the remaining mile of the walk to school. i was right, of course, it wasn’t the same car. the number plate was ROM 237R. i hate that i still know that 30 years later.
i want the storage to be somewhere else, but for me to hold the key. what was the number plate of that car? oh yes, ROM 237R. I used to have a list of books i read and anything i wanted to say about them in a paragraph or two. i stopped it, like an idiot, more than a decade ago. I’m thinking of adding a page to this blog, or just adding posts with a category of ‘books’.
it’s a shame i have to do anything to record this stuff. in a perfect world it should accrue from my actions without intervention.