Saturday, December 28, 2002

Two stories have set me blinking in indignation today. The first is that a strange sect masquerading as a 'scientific' cloning company claims to have successfully cloned the first human being.

The second is that steel from the now defunct World Trade Center in New York is to be used... to make a great big warship. Maybe I'm wrong, (no, really, maybe I really am - I can't remember properly) but I seem to recall that shortly after the catastrophe, the Twin Towers were lamented and the description of the buildings leant heavily towards values like peace, creativity, freedom, beauty and so on. Obviously the same sense of peace and freedom which led US law enforcement officials to jail two foreign students for being 'work shy'.

And there's one more star in heaven tonight - or one more star-maker - as news comes in that photographer Herb Ritts is dead at the age of 50.

Thursday, December 26, 2002

What? A white Christmas?!
No, we didn't get one here in Northern Ireland. But Arkansas (right), Missouri, Pennsylvania and New York all had a freakish snowstorm sweep across them yesterday. We could do with some of that. There are so many warm nuggets of colour and food and drink in this house that I long to look towards the window and see snow-light, to step out of doors and hear the crunch of snow.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

The onset
I just went out to the back garden and could tell as soon as I stepped outside that it's much, much colder tonight. The pergola is dusted with frost, and when I went to the bin, I spent a while cracking the ice around the lid so I could open it.

This is where I start to feel the onset of Christmas. There's a very bright star in the eastern sky; of course it's not that which the Three Kings saw... but things are starting to coalesce. :o)

Monday, December 16, 2002

The Little Friend
When I heard, on a winter day late last year, that Donna Tartt's second novel would soon appear, I longed to plunge back into The Secret History with new eyes, and take heed of signs, and wait, and wonder. At last, She was publishing again. At last, I would read something by Her which I hadn't read before. Her new book would be as rich and studded with jewels as Her first, and hitherto only, novel. It would change my mood for weeks on end. It would devour me over a period of perhaps three days, and I would devour it many times thereafter.

Come then, and let us pass a leisure hour in storytelling; and our story shall be the education of our heroes.
This prefatory quotation from Plato, slipped ironically into the first pages of The Secret History, certainly cannot be applied to The Little Friend. It is a large book. At more than 500 pages, bound in black, and excitingly solid and bulky, it is just heavy enough to make you think you might be carrying a box of riches in your bag. You will undo the clasp, open the lid, and gaze, wide-eyed and short of breath, at the dim glitter inside.

But this is a slow book, and its richness is as thick as a midge-filled summer afternoon. While occasionally you may be allowed to canter through a few pages at most, the rest of it may as well have a "Do Not Run" signboard, presided over by some stern, angular matron. The syrupy paragraphs drop slowly and heavily through your mind, one, two... three...... and another..... Some of them are light and sweet, some as dark and tinged with bitterness as black treacle.

It's not such an easy lay as The Secret History. It won't lie down with you and engage you in sweaty abandon for days on end, only to spit you out light-headed and spinning afterwards. It will hold you firmly, talk slowly, smile in a small way, and though you may want to pull away and do something else, you'll know you have to keep listening. This tale does not tell itself simply, but then, in the American South, a story may be months in the telling...

Sunday, December 15, 2002

Donnie Darko
Jake Gyllenhaal
Yes, there is a film (its young director's first) called Donnie Darko. No, I hadn't really heard of the thing until about two weeks ago, when my friend Jonny mentioned it to me. It's about... well, it's very difficult to say exactly what this film *is* about. It follows Donnie Darko through either the first or last years of his adult life, depending on how you look at it.

Feeling increasingly alienated from the world around him, Donnie, played by Jake Gyllenhaal (right), moves through it in a sensitive, troubled, and increasingly playful way. Testing the boundaries of the reailty he lives in, as directed by a big evil bunny, and fascinated by increasingly bizarre events which lead him to kickstart the mind-bending denouement, this is a film which made me laugh, well up with tears, go all hormonal for Donnie, and all motherly for him and the rest of the misguided characters (played by a wonderful cast), all at the same time. Nobody's talked about it here in Northern Ireland, where it would usually be regarded as an irrelevant piece of childish weird shit, instead of the quirky masterpiece it undoubtedly is.

Go see.

PS. - Dec. 19th - Apparently, it caused a huge stir in America when it was released. Due to the release-date being only a few months after September 11th, and the prominence given to a jet engine and a house.

Friday, December 13, 2002

A lack of jobs is entirely caused by too much hunting by too many people in the first place. So, because I need a job, there should be a complete ban on other people hunting, especially those with more impressive stallions than mine.

Thursday, December 12, 2002

Jobless, again
Even I am starting to think that I'm hopeless. Today, in the middle of the afternoon, someone from my agency called me to tell me that someone in the very building I work in had decided to say byebye to me and quite a few other recent temp workers today - because work was slowing down before Christmas. So, my manager lived down the corridor and he didn't have the guts to tell me. And I've been employed now for a grand total of, oh, 9 days.

I could swear here, really. But there really fucking wouldn't be any fucking arsing cunting point.

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Driven to Distractions
It's time I lightened the mood on here, at least. So, after a somewhat shitty day at work, here's a nice handkerchief belonging to a Shaker Man, woven by George Constantine in about 1936.

And a brilliant doorway with corridor beyond (at Chatsworth House, UK), with a little violin hung on a door. Architect thought to be Jan van der Vaart, in the 1670s.

Does any of this not ring true?

That's because the handkerchief's actually a watercolour. And beyond the doorway out of the room, there isn't a corridor at all. Just another painting.
I need more...
Time to myself, people to talk to in work, things to look forward to, ability to capture lovely memories with photographic clarity, lunch money, sleep in less time, cheese...

Monday, December 02, 2002

Something missing
That's how today has felt, really. Not in the sense that I've had nothing to do - quite the opposite. I got up earlier than I've done in ages, rocketed out of the house and into town, had breakfast and then started my new job. And kept at it without any real sort of break (except for lunch) until I got back home a while ago.

But the job involves doing *nothing* (and I mean nothing) apart from sitting in front of a computer in a small room with one other person, wearing a pair of (rather painful) headphones, and transcribing letters from the tape. So you can't even talk to the other person because you have no time and no hearing, and the only break is when you cross the room to print stuff out, or leave the room to get another tape.

I'm going to see how it goes tomorrow, but I think today's provided enough experience of the job to give me a great big "I won't like this type of work, not even slightly" signal. It would be much better, and I'd actually sort of like it, if I was in a slightly bigger room and had a variety of duties. I think I'll be calling my agency tomorrow though!

Sunday, December 01, 2002

It's one of those days. This is the first day of advent, and just like the first day of advent last year, this one definitely doesn't feel like it. The weather is there - gales and rain - enough for you to believe it's December. But I feel dislocated. For a start, I'm now (very suddenly) not jobless. Friday afternoon, and a call comes through from my agency telling me I'm starting work on Monday (tomorrow) on an audio typist position inside the Central Services Agency, whatever is precisely is! I'm sure I'll know all about it this time tomorrow, but right now I don't have a clue. It's the usual night-before-new-job feeling.

But this time, it's compounded. Jonathan arrived from London on Friday. On Saturday, we just went around town, had lunch in Apartment, went for a drink in Bar Bacca and then for another few in Irene and Nan's. My plan, before getting drunk, was to then go home and spend a quiet evening indoors with him, eating and drinking and just generally catching up. It would have been an oasis of calm and relaxation before he left the next day, as well as a bolster before starting work again after such a long time (nearly one whole year) unemployed.

But we ended up getting drunk and going to the Kremlin, and not doing much catching up, and getting even more drunk before getting home and collapsing. I woke up this morning with a hangover from hell, knowing that Jonathan had to leave the house at 4pm, knowing I had work tomorrow... *sigh*

And now he's gone, it's raining outside, the house seems very very quiet, and the news is bad. A few minutes ago I caught myself looking at digital photos I'd taken while he was here, and wondering where he's disappeared to. God, listen to me. (Peri)pathetic indeed. But like all other emotions, melancholy rears it head sometimes, and when it does, writing about it needn't be bad. I just feel I need a few days' holiday to get myself back together again - and this on the eve of my new job. But never mind. I know I'll feel better when I've got the first week of it over. Routine always settles me, sooner or later...

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Twisted meanings
Found at Chrisonomicon. Fantastic things from a fantastic blogger. Anyone know of any more examples of this?
An Adult Fairytale

Thursday, November 21, 2002

von Hagens still faces arrest
Professor Gunther von Hagens, who last night carried out the first public autopsy in the UK for 170 years (right), is today the subject of a discussion which could end with his arrest. Medical experts are to discuss the nature of the autopsy, and will pass a file to the Crown Prosecution Service, which will then decide if von Hagens has a case to answer. If he is found guilty of breaching the Anatomy Act, he could be jailed.

I think this has all been blown a bit out of proportion. Although there has been a lot of media attention (The Times - Editorial / The Guardian - Leader) most of it has concentrated on whether or not he was right or wrong to carry it out. Surely the people who paid to watch can be given that task. Yes, it's wrong in law. But *should* it be? That's the question the papers should be asking - and making an attempt to answer. Certainly, a member of a government medical ethics committee who was present at the autopsy, made encouraging noises on the principle of the thing. Is it a circus? That's hypothetical anyway. It certainly wasn't conducted as one.

Another outdated institution has been fucked with, as the UK's Princess Royal is fined for letting her mutt run riot and attack 2 kids. And finally, SpongeBob SquarePants has become a gay icon.

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

UK sees first public autopsy for 170 years
See the earlier post, about Gunther von Hagens. Despite a police presence, his autopsy was carried out as planned. Police sirens wailed towards Brick Lane, London, about 20 minutes before the procedure was due to start, raising fears of an arrest. In the end, however, it went ahead. The BBC again:

"There were gasps from the audience as he cut into the head of the body and sawed through the skull with a hacksaw. Accountant Louise Cotton, 40, said: 'I think it's absolutely fascinating. I've never seen anything like it before, it's just amazing.' Medical student Cristina Koppel, a fourth year student at Imperial College in London, said: 'I was a bit surprised by the speed of it all but there is no delicate way of doing this with finesse.' A Scotland Yard spokeswoman said anatomy professors would watch the autopsy to check if it breached the law but would not say if the professor would face arrest."
First public autopsy since 1800s is planned
Gunther von Hagens and plastinate
Professor Gunther von Hagens, creator of plastination and the controversial Body Worlds exhibition, in which flayed human corpses are shown, plans to conduct a public autopsy on the night of the 20th of November 2002, in the centre of London.

But as the BBC reports, public autopsies are illegal in this country, and Prof. von Hagens may be arrested before he makes the first incision.

If you have a TV, the UK's Channel 4 plans to film the procedure when it takes place (or, more likely, von Hagens' arrest) and televise it with a debate at 11.45pm on the same day.

"There is not a single sound reason why anatomical dissections, as commonly experienced by medical students during their studies, should continue to remain the private domain of medical professionals. In a liberal democracy with an open society, excluding medical laypersons from anatomy can no longer be justified. The possibility of attending dissections that are open to the public should be an unqualified right of every citizen of legal age, if spatial and personnel-related circumstances permit." (Body Worlds website)

Thoughts, anyone?

Monday, November 18, 2002

Ahhh. *sigh*

(From Minizen)

The Queen, and Elizabeth Windsor at the state opening of Parliament earlier this month. Yeah, like the tiara, Phil. Did your wife choose it specially? (Pic captured from BBC News.)

Sunday, November 17, 2002

Reading Poems
Famous poets reading their own work. I've only been really impressed with one poet's reading of their own work, and that's been Seamus Heaney. He was a good reader because he could actually speak the lines right through your ears into your emotions. He was gently animated.

Listening to some of the poets who make it into this webpage, however (and a lot more who haven't for copyright reasons), I often wish that more poets or novelists - or writers generally! - would recognise that they're not all great, or even passable, at reading their own work aloud. Ali Smith writes spare and superbly crafted fiction, but she's hopeless at reading it out.

Whereas, at a reading a few years ago, yours truly got applauded loudly for reading his own work! Now, what exactly *is* it about hearing a writer read their own work, even though they might do it really badly? They don't add anything to the experience. You hear the same words and the same sentences, and the writer simply cannot be trusted to illuminate and nuance. So why do people part with the money?

My own bet, even though I write myself, is that people just want to be able to say they heard such-and-such reading once. Sort of interesting conversation-material, but hardly food for the soul.

Monday, November 11, 2002

*****Moving ones. The latest two I've loved have been One Hour Photo and 28 Days Later... One Hour Photo has at its centre a solid, terrifyingly quiet Robin Williams who "gives an eerily still, contained performance as Sy, the put-upon express photo clerk in his vivid white shirt and retina-piercingly blue waistcoat. These are colours that match the strip-lit white of the surreally enormous discount store where he works, the police interview suite where he winds up, and indeed his own pallid skin tones - an albino in everything but his eyes", according to the Guardian review.
Cillian. Yum.
28 Days Later..., by contrast, is a film which is cinematically full. It lacks the washed-out emptiness of the above. But it's so fcking terrifying when nothing much is happening onscreen. The opening 20 minutes or so will either do nothing for you, or give you the feeling that the world you knew has ended, just like that, and you'd quite like to cry. Plus, the divine Cillian Murphy (pictured) has a lead role, along with Christopher Eccleston, who brings his usual bad-man-with-good-heart into frame.

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Poles Apart
But there's only one South Pole, I hear you say. Haha. Wrong!
And I didn't know that so many countries think they own the place!

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

New Arrival in London!
My uni friend 'Justin' has arrived in London, people! And he's feeling a bit, well, washed-up and lonely after having moved down from Edinburgh. So I'm asking all my friends in the city to take a look at him here and if you like what you see (who wouldn't?) then write to him and take him out for a coffee or a drink or something. And be nice. Offenders will be prosecuted!
Mystery Bunny
Hmm. Seems I've a mustery admirer somewhere in Lanarkshire. I got 2 framed urban photos and a fluffy bunny (below) in the post today from someone who didn't include a note or a name. Weird. They did include their address though. I'm trying to figure out what to do. Should I write back? Should I try to find out who they are using more covert methods? Tell me, people.
He's a mystery.

Monday, November 04, 2002

Not quite angels on horseback...
"The Russians are wrapping the bodies of the terrorists killed in last week's siege of a Moscow theatre in pig skin in order to deter future attacks by potential Islamic fighters. The idea, according to the newspaper Moskovski Komsomol, is to turn the terrorists' own beliefs against them. While jihad martyrs believe they ascend immediately to heaven upon fulfilling their duty, Islam regards the pig as unclean. Corpses wrapped in pig skin, the Russians say, will therefore be barred from entering heaven for eternity." -- from Wired

And, hehehe. :o)

Saturday, November 02, 2002

The things we do when unemployed:
1. Don't earn any money
2. Don't get the chance to go out. Ever
3. Have loads of free time
4. After a while, treat that free time as something which will go on, because we also
5. Get used to thinking there isn't going to be a job within the next few weeks, so
6. Make plans for people to visit us, etc. in the future free time

On Thursday, I went for a little chat to Waterstone's who are looking for a goods-in temp around the Xmas period, but starting on Monday. Despite not having heard anything yet, and despite initial doubts about whether or not Jonathan and Mikey will still be able to visit (which they allayed - time off is a virtue), I'm looking forward to getting back into some sort of work. I'm meant to hear something over the weekend - i.e. before the end of tomorrow. If I don't, I'll start thinking, oh, there's another potential job which has turned me down. Dammit.

Monday, October 28, 2002

Oh, bloody hell...
There's a suspect device outside the offices of The Belfast Telegraph in Belfast City Centre. This comes a few days after other security alerts in the city, and already I'm thinking that it's going to be another Continuity IRA-attributed event. Why do paramilitary or terror groups think it's a good idea to plant devices in or near the offices of newspapers? Easy. They don't particularly care about bad press. It's the disruption they want. Last week, a similar alert inside the Telegraph building disrupted production for several hours. There's nothing like that to steal headlines and publicize their activity.

However, there are no online reports about it at the moment. I only found out because as I was leaving town, the staff radio on the bus was reorganising traffic through central control. What has shocked me, however, is a story about gross mistreatment of kittens.

Sunday, October 27, 2002

The USA is cowardly and ham-fisted in its attempts to tackle terrorism and present any convincing arguments about them to the world, as well as possibly guilty of deliberately allowing 9/11 to happen, according to Gore Vidal in today's Observer Review. Usually, I think he enjoys the sound of his own voice too much. But his 7,000-word article was very good indeed, in my view. Unfortunately, until some kind soul posts it to the web somewhere, you can't read it unless you can get hold of the print edition.

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

First off, nearly 70% of Americans feel that a war against Iraq would make America safer. Hmm. Where the hell do they get that idea from? Now, having said that, this result did come from a site which sells really paranoid stuff. Their informational courses on such matters as nuclear, biological and chemical attack last only 45 minutes each - just enough time to either get the essentials across - or go for bust to give lurid details with a bare minimum of useful, balanced advice. Which do you reckon it would be?

About the one thing they sell which could benefit most people is a first-aid kit. But you can also choose from items such as this. Sigh.

Does anyone remember that in the days immediately after September 11th, 2001, manufacturers of nuclear bunkers were maxing out on orders? Within a few weeks, the demand died down. I began to think that maybe everyone was getting a bit more balanced again. However, as the presence of this quirky Christmas gift emporium shows, there must still be demand somewhere. They have an outlet in Manhattan. What happened to the concept that New York was famous for being almost non-American in its outlook?

Oh, and "They had given the price of Booker of the man to 'the duration of the unit of elaboraciĆ³n'." (Which means they've given the Man Booker Prize to 'The Life of Pi'.)

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

:o(I downloaded this because I thought it looked nice. Then I had second thoughts. Why the hell put ice in the bloody glass? And why such a miserly amount of the good stuff? Shame. Shame.

In other news, Northern Ireland is now back to direct rule after a rather nasty spat over the results of a raid on - among other properties - a Sinn Fein office in Parliament Buildings, Stormont.

Go here for more on this - or more on anything NI.

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Memory - Reality
Jonathan cooking, GreenwichThis is Jonathan, my... friend, for want of a very much better word, in Greenwich. I took this picture earlier this summer, saw the scene through the window, and had to capture it. It sums things up perfectly. Or disturbingly. Sometimes it's like he's blurring so much I'm not sure he's there. But I can always see him, so he always is. But blurring. Oh, god. Listen to me. Missing friends always gets to me. Now, for minor artistic effect:
Plates. So many meals eaten off these. The foundation of any good meal. :o)

Bananas. Snipped from another picture for no other reason than they look nice. I like bananas. Especially from the other side of a misted window, when I'm outside on a summer night.

Dammit. I miss this London life. Well. This bit of it.

Thursday, October 03, 2002

Oh. My. God.
Conservative MP leaves Westminster for Ian Paisley's DUP. Congratulations to Andrew Hunter, who claims this week's "Tory Masochism" prize. Now we know there can never again be a Conservative Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Everyone here would revolt.

What really made me laugh was that Ian Paisley Jr., Big Ian's son, said it was "probably one of the most significant developments within unionist politics for several decades". Yes. It is! It's like piling more shit on top of an already huge pile of shit!

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

Whirling water
The most dangerous whirlpool in, possibly, the whole world is to be found between Scarba and Jura off the west coast of Scotland. The page linked at the start describes a typical dive there, with obviously no approaching the whirlpool!

Another great place I'd love to dive - partly because I've done no diving *at all* so I'm just more excited than scared - is Scapa Flow. Van der Vat's book The Grand Scuttle provides an electrifying story of how the wrecks of Scapa Flow came to be; this site gives more info on the experience. When I worked at Waterstone's Piccadilly, London, I spent many happy afternoons reading Dive Scapa Flow which contains great pictures of the wrecks as they are today.
I've never been one to believe this sort of thing, but this is just plain weird. Someone recorded a strange appearance in their home and put it on the net. The weirdness is in the sound so a soundcard and speakers may be handy.
Taking sides
"I was never a member of the IRA" states Gerry Adams, Sinn Fein's President. Okayyyyy, right. We believe you, Gerry. The book which alleges otherwise is doing nothing new. But the SDLP's leadership are reacting as if it's the first they'd heard of the matter, with leader Mark Durkan saying it "raised questions about his credibility". What balls. Everyone *knows* he was an IRA member. But does it really matter anymore? Think 'greater good', people.

Meanwhile, SF compatriot and Belfast Lord Mayor Alex Maskey has been snubbed by the UUP and DUP who are refusing to elect a deputy lord mayor. They are clearly unhappy about having a Sinn Fein member as their council leader. But acting childish isn't going to do anything but cause them to wither a bit faster.

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

Breaking up?
Hear'Say have called it a day. Now, I'm not going to say "thank god" about this, as I haven't ever heard anything they produced and I don't really give a crap about this sort of thing usually. What strikes me about this case is the state of mind of the people concerned. Here's a snip from the BBC story:

The break-up was confirmed by their management company as well as record label Polydor, with the group blaming public hostility and the rigours of music industry life for the break-up. In a statement, Polydor said the group felt "they had lost the support of the public and Hear'Say had come to a natural end". "The group's first plan is to spend more time with their families."

I think two things: one, the band probably never got away from the public awareness, and its own awareness, that it had been mothered (and fathered) by a TV programme in the first place; and two, why the hell are Polydor still calling these people a group when they've split up? The hard-done-by darlings' statement about public pressure suggests to me that they have leant on the embracing support of big companies too much. A successful musucuan of any kind doesn't sit back and let a TV station make them visible and successful. They fight for that. And now, the onetime band's members have to go back home. Whose fault is that?

No, really? Whose fault is it? I'm having trouble figuring that one out.

The Eden Project, St Austell, CornwallOn a calmer, more hopeful note, the Eden Project is to build another dome. It already has 2 giant plastic constructions but wants a third biome dealing with drier, more arid environments. Hopefully, seagulls won't be able to peck through the plastic like they're doing with the current buildings.

Sunday, September 29, 2002

I've been doing a lot of that in the last few days, and it's usually been quiet and tense thinking. I worry about things. I don't tear my hear out over them, I don't get tearful, you know? But I do worry. I worry about my friend Giles and his difficulties with his family and living situation. I worry that we will be biting off more than we can chew if we go to war against Iraq. But most bitingly of all, I worry *about* a worry. On the 26th of this month, I realised it was the anniversary of my mum's death over 10 years ago. And I looked for a photo of her. I don't have one. So I worried about that. And then started thinking: what's with a photo? Shouldn't I be able to get by with memories if I want to see her again? I thought I was... more thoughtful than that!

Also, tonight I saw Road to Perdition - Sam Mendes' 2nd film, his first being American Beauty. I'll say more about it later - it was very good, but not 5-star material.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Busy little bees
Despite being nearly stung by one this morning, and not knowing why it was so attracted to one particular part of the frame of my specs, I like bees. But how the fck do they know what to do, where to fly, where home is? Can a complex decision-making, evaluative mind exist inside every one of those tiny ickle buzzy things? So when I found Kevin Kelly's article on the hive mind I was sort of transfixed. I'd love to take part in something like that. And I can, right now, by trying to create something.

Monday, September 23, 2002

The Others
This excellent film has finally been released to buy on DVD in the UK, and I'm a very happy boy as I went out and bought the thing today. The website only gives you the barest, starkest information about it, and in many ways that's good. It's a very spare film, but when a film is also a bloody brilliant, emotive, and genuinely frightening ghost story, spareness is often the key to success.

If you've ever seen M. R. James's Ghost Stories sitting on the shelves of a bookshop and thought "pah, Victorian crap" without reading them, you're missing out. Similarly, if you haven't seen The Others, but think it might not be worth seeing on account of its no-laughs, no-screams, dark atmosphere, try it. Rent it. I guarantee you'll be unable to leave the room alone at the end.

Nobody can say I don't do my best to plug films I really really like! Oh. The same for this one.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

M Night Shyamalan's Signs isn't long released here in the UK and already there is claim and counter-claim over its merit. When I saw it, full of expectation after the twin tour-de-force of The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, I was faintly disappointed. The trailer promises a film with few special effects and a lot of carefully-engineered suspense, just like Shyamalan's other movies. The trailer, quite clearly, is mistaken.

Taking place on the farm you see to the left, the opening 10 minutes see an ex-minister and his children (and younger brother, sensitively played by Joaquin Phoenix) lifted off the usual mortal coil by the discovery of crop-circles in their corn. Before long, more circles start to appear - notably in Bangalore, India, and elsewhere in the USA. The discoveries herald the appearance of UFOs in the sky near the sites of the circles. The UFOs herald a disastrous re-hash of the 9/11 anxiety in journalistic reporting, but it can't be denied it's riveting stuff at the time. I felt like standing up and leaving - and very unsettled too.

But when all's said and done, I can't help feeling that the film was a rather monumental waste of perfectly good talent. Certainly the lead character Graham Hess (Mel Gibson) is very well-constructed and expertly played, but I couldn't help feeling that the others were optinal satellites in wobbly orbit around his sun. Even the director's trademark preternaturally gifted child, played well by Rory Culkin, was nothing more than an instrument for propelling Gibson towards the unsatisfying finale. Some people may be really touched; I wasn't.

Something which did impress me was the photo (right) I found on this site. What a feat! People who make crop circles definitely fucking rock! And maybe we need more stylised alien creatures handing us CDs after all. Long live the mp3; long live the aliens who give them to us.
Those of you who like poofy classical music, and more particularly baroque music, may like what I'm listening to right now. Vivaldi's Concerti con molti istromenti, available here.

I had to post this; there's nothing more I want to say right now, but if you're open-minded you might just enjoy this one. :o)

Friday, September 13, 2002

Maybe, but loads of people are impressed with me today. :o) Take a look at: this, this and this (editorial, but it's archived daily). I'm all nervous now about what the reactions will be!


Wednesday, September 11, 2002

It was faintly unreal to sit in front of the TV and watch, for the first time ever, an entire 4 hours' worth of 9-11, Ground Zero, World Trade Center, Pentagon etc. footage without a single shot of the towers falling, planes crashing. It's almost as if the TV stations here in the UK decided that it was holy time, not to be corrupted with the images of desolation and fractured reality.

But today has had a sense of fracture all the way through it for me. It's like experiencing the whole thing again. The days leading up to the attack - where you didn't know it was going to happen a year ago, but this year you do. And it does happen again, at least in my mind. It's a sort of ghost-time we're living in today. We have fresh significances beamed at us over the airwaves, but surrounding it all are the ghosts of the things we heard, the feelings we felt... where we were.

This evening we get the carnage all over again.

Surely everyone knows these by now. In case you want to remember in immediate ways, in case the horrible nature of the events still mysteriously fascinates you like me, these are good links to follow:

Web archive
Attack on America
TV Archive
Web resources
Why the towers fell

Monday, September 09, 2002

Iraq's Potential
Just got this link from Gareth, about how Iraq's potential for developing weapons of mass destruction may reach new levels of potency.
Looking for...
Just looked to see who's been here lately, and why. Surprisingly, nineteenth-century porn, muslim porn and Bud Dwyer are all optics which seem to fascinate people.

Sheesh. Maybe I'm in the wrong career.

Oh, and if anyone reading this can spare about £80 and wishes to make a donation to my outstanding phonebill of that amount so I can have my phone service back, please feel free to email. I don't know whether I'm joking or not! Sigh.

Saturday, September 07, 2002

Dad's out for the whole day. I have the house entirely to myself. The hall is quiet. The bathroom door is ajar, the light left on because it can be, and I don't care. In a room downstairs the paper is open where I left it, waiting for me. Steam rises from my coffeecup. From the open window I can hear a bird singing somewhere. Dust settles slowly in the loft, rubbish settles slowly in the bin outside, and 10 minutes ago a hedgehog was snuffling along the edge of the school field at the back of the garden.

Everything is quiet. I have the freedom to sit naked if I want to, to play my music as loud or as low as I want, to wank, to read, to stretch and groan loudly while doing so... the ability to do that which I wouldn't usually do in anyone else's company.

I'm happy. :o)
The Guardian's been running a "Best British Blog" competition until today, and since I patently have had no chance of even being noticed in the thing anyway, and didn't enter, I'm putting this here. It's a kind of handy good-link thing for all those people who put the effort into their blogs.

I don't put effort in. This thing is due a major overhaul. Advice, anyone? Suggestions?

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

Porn discovered: Police foiled
East Belfast was in a state of shock this morning as a substantial amount of obscene material was found at the heart of a local community.

A resident of Sydenham Avenue said: "I was just coming out of the house when a large van pulled up and the neighbours started loading cardboard boxes into it in a hurry. At first I thought they were moving out but everything was so hurried and furtive."

Material removed
His suspicions were further aroused when one man took a break from loading, and puffed "I found it all on top of his wardrobe. We've got to get it out - now. I won't have it in the house.

"I've seen some things in my time, but nothing like this. Never such way-out stuff. It's dynamite."

Huge load

Frantic efforts continued

A woman, believed to be the mother of the anonymous hoarder, who is believed to have fled to Australia, was shocked at the discovery. She commented: "I would never have believed it. It's all the more disgusting when you know he was such an unassuming boy. It's this sort of thing which drives families out of quiet communities like this one." Neighbours jeered the family as the van sped away.

A police spokesman, contacted by peripathetic, said "We didn't know anything about this, and the news has come too late for us to confiscate the material in question. Our usual yearly seizure of illicit pornography could have been doubled if we had due notice. We ask that anyone having seen a large consignment of tattered cardboard boxes comes forward to assist us. Rioting, republican flags in the City Hall, hardcore pornography - we have a big job on our hands."

The spokesman was unable to suggest where the consignment was bound, but said he would alert Brisbane Customs. Enquiries continue.
Okay. See an earlier post about Ciara, PDAs, and manly things. This caught my eye in connection: courtesy of this site:

disturbing searches

Hehe. :o) HAHAHAHA. :o)

Tuesday, September 03, 2002

Now, this link tells you everything you need to know about stuffing a chicken. No, I'm not talking dirty, you evil-minded fiend. I'm talking about the preparation and roasting of a perfect dinner. Yum, yum.

If you want to dribble food over a book while eating the delicious bird, try looking here (not a shop, btw) to get some ideas. I particularly liked the Kerouac story. :o)

Saturday, August 31, 2002

Late, again
Tonight I saw Insomnia. As a result, I'm looking at everything in a very disjointed way. The film is shot in a beautiful, harsh, floating way and has a very washed-out feel due to endless light. It's the only shooting style I've ever seen which, filmically, represents perfectly the effects of very very little sleep.

Hilary Swank

Another effect of sleep deprivation is that on re-reading the above paragraph, I thought it ended with "the effects of very little sheep". I'm not sure what effect tiny sheep would have on me, but they'd probably make me go "awww" and want to mother them. Perhaps this is a new form of verbal bastardisation, similar to spoonerisms and malapropisms.

Thursday, August 29, 2002

Oh, my god. Here is something I never knew existed, but I guess in its own way it's just as normal as Scots pretend the Highland Games are. But the thing which surprised me most is that it's part of Jonathan's heritage. Allegedly. Him hailing from North Carolina and all.
This is interesting news, but of course I'd never be involved with anything like that, because of course I never play dirty. ;o)

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

I feel 'out of the loop' but in a nice way. Ed's staying here for a few days. In fact currently he's going to sleep in ym granny's old bedroom, and I'm sitting here typing this, thinking I want to keep my feelers out there so I don't completely present a face of silence to the world because of visitors! :o)

It's the first time I've met Ed in the flesh, and we get on well. He's a really nice guy. And aside from the usual quietnesses which people have when they've just properly met for the first time, and the inevitable lessening of continuous talk because we're not on the phone anymore, it's going well.

Took him around the wonderful sights of Belfast. Explained all the usual things about Belfast, tried to dispel the usual misunderstandings people have about the place. You know, that it's a nest of terrorism, etc. And then realised that he doesn't have those misconceptions anyway. My god. I must either have done my job well beforehand, or he's just intelligent. I think it's the latter. :o) Going to bed now. I promise that when he's moved on to Scotland, and my time is emptier, and I'm surfing more, I'll put more links and pics in. Promise.

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Felt bleary-eyed after reading this. But I guess as a child I wouldn't have played with him either. Which makes me feel guilty.

I'm also feeling alone, but not emotionally. I'm feeling very much alone with a great big piece of responsibility. I interviewed a leading figure connected with a paramilitary group this morning. It went very well, there was lots of information going. But now I can be counted as one of the very small number of people who have this sort of information, and I'm feeling very much responsible for making it public in a balanced and thoughtful way which will raise the level of thinking that Joe Bloggs on the street will engage in when thinking of punishment beatings, etc. It's scary.

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

The things people search for
I can understand people wanting to come to this site and read its wonders because obviously it's just superlative. (!!!) I can understand that this site is viewed by many people who do the odd weird search. Get ready for it.
I can't even *begin* to understand why anyone would search for this:

And they found me. I'm thinking of not mentioning things like this again. People who do a google search for THAT ought to be faced with a screen which says "You sad, sad bastard. We don't have any pages which match your search request. Search for something worth seeing."

Monday, August 19, 2002

Something potentially very significant for the future of Northern Ireland's handling of crime and the peace process in tandem could happen on Wednesday, handled more or less exclusively by little old me. It'll only be the start of things in that respect, but I'm excited. Meanwhile, however, a student at home for the holidays gets murdered with two twenty-somethings charged (the lack of sectarian motive leading me to suspect yet another example of the 'they all did it in the past, so we can' mentality under the surface here), a family in Carrickfergus gets pipe-bombed - and a large consignment of smuggled cigarettes is seized.

I don't mean to imply here that Northern Ireland is all bad. But I do mean to paint a picture of the crime everyone usually associates with the place and the extent to which it continues under the watchful auspices of the peace process, and also the type of crime which happens everywhere else - and shouldn't be happening in the first place if our police were completely up to the job, which I don't feel they are yet.

Still, life isn't all bad. Ed's visiting in a week's time (yay!), and I've got juicy links to supply. [1] - roomsixteen has a lovely lovely self and a lovely blog too. Check the boy out. [2] - a good place to get images online. If you need to get them, that is. And finally, [3] - wilco - have as the cover of their latest album (below) a picture of two towers, the exteriors of which are formed by multiple balconies.

I'd seen a similar tower in Croydon, memories flashed, I thought the cover was pretty, so had to show you. Photo's pretty too.

And finally...

a scan of (I think) a cat's arse. Don't ask. Because I don't know. Okay?

Saturday, August 17, 2002


"And you can see that Theodore's mustache is far better than that sand-nigger Saddam's."



"I never forget a face, but in your case I'll be glad to make an exception."
Oh, and an essential update to my amateurish coverage of the whole September 11th thing below: Jonathan messaged me from the US to say: "Here I suspect it will be hard to spot the anniversary. There are as many flags today as there were on 9/13 last year. Of course, many of them are in shreds."

To properly read that, you have to look between the lines. There's a lot between Jonathan's lines. Always.
Police involved in the UK search for the two girls missing from Soham, Cambridgeshire, have today found 2 bodies near RAF Lakenheath after a couple, the local school's caretaker and his partner, were charged early this morning with the abduction and murder of the pair. While the news reports and papers are being coldly circumspect about whether the bodies are those of the girls, the police rush to the airbase suggests very clearly that the girls are in fact dead.

What bothers me, as well as a massive amount of other people I guess, is not that the girls were abducted per se - although that's awful enough - but that as usual we're all being presented with another playing-out of the oft-repeated mantra that it's always someone known to the victims. It's like a nightmarish villanelle. Like everyone else I'll be paying attention to the reports of how exactly they were killed. There'll be a morbid fascination there. I just can't imagine how the families must feel. They probably want the heads of the arrested couple. It's all so pathetic that last night as I watched the news item about the case, I felt like crying.

Friday, August 16, 2002

Shock! As news of sex emerges, Diocese spokesman says "If it's true, it's disgusting."

Horror! Bush spends £5 million on assistance for Saddam Hussein's opponents.
We're coming up to the first anniversary of September the 11th. Actually, that's not strictly true. I'm not sure exactly when the very very first September the 11th WAS, under the calendar system. One thing is certain: this is not the first anniversary. But academic points aside, that date this year will be the first anniversary of the atrocities which happened in various parts of the USA. And everyone's starting to talk about it again, wondering if another attack will be made elsewhere in the world, wondering whether the FBI et al will get there in time - or whether they have planned everything so well this time that they have already caught and foiled an attack and kept it quiet.

The really disquieting significance of this year's anniversary is its proximity in time to the present controversy over an impending war with Iraq. How easy it would be for Bush to garner popular support by choosing September 11, 2002 to launch all manner of ultimatums. Documentaries will screen showing the collapse of the towers, the hole in the Pentagon etc., and Patriotic American Hearts all over the world will flame against Iraq with even more determination.

It could all turn out to be a world of shit.

Far from that date being the beginning of a more aware and safer world, it seems that things have gone (very easily, as they would) the other way and we're now more paranoid, less peaceful and more apt to assume and lash out. Cut to American newscasters: "Gee, Dave, seems like quite a lot of innocent Iraqi people will get killed!" "Yes indeed, Gina, but let us not forget that they killed all those people... in our army who invaded their... villages... and now for the rest of today's news."

There's a reason that big strong lion (from the British Museum, excellent bas-relief) is dying and puking blood. It's because it took on more than it could handle.

Back to the slightly more real world of my here and now, and the safer confines of familiar and unfamiliar blogs, I was looking at the whole Twin Towers thing through the eyes of the copydesk and in a way, that's a good method for sprinboarding to other topics and other sites. So then I visited notsosoft which has a particularly interesting and infuriating posting here. Poor girl, having her own damn copyright the victim of an attempted abduction.

Monday, August 12, 2002

So, Chris and Ciara are away. Apparently what happened was that Chris got his visa at 8.30 this morning but Ciara didn't get hers until second post came at 12.30 so there was lots of panicking on her part. I hope she squeezed her willy for support.

So, right now, at about 10.30, they'll be either hanging around Heathrow or up, up and away en route to Singapore. Arriving in Singapore the equivalent time of about 3 in the morning our time, I guess. It feels weird still, but I know that it'll really hit me they've gone when we finally set up a broadband gaming sesh, and Chris frags me, and I look up thinking we're just networked and I can shout "you bastard", and then I realise he's not in the room. That'll really get me spooked!

Anyway, I'm going to shut up about it now. :o)
It's weird. Chris and Ciara are going away tomorrow, for what seems like forever but which is in fact just marginally over a year. But at least Ciara went red one final time. We bought her a stress-busting squeezable willy on a keyring. She went red. We said that since she didn't want Chris's big massive manly one, she could have that instead. She looked at it and went even redder. :o)

Saturday, August 10, 2002

So, when talking pda stuff last night and discussing which one she should buy, Ciara said that she'd like to go for a slimline one like Chris Beattie's. Chris 1 (Bleakley) said "Sure, I could just give you mine" and Ciara replied "But yours is a big massive manly one, I don't want that".

Hmmmm. Riiiiiiiiight. So, Ciara doesn't want her boyfriend's big massive manly one. If I was him, I'd be offended. But I can just see the new ad campaigns for the older pdas right now: "The MANLY pda". "The best a man can get". "You'll be so comfortable with it, you'll almost forget it's there." etc.


Monday, August 05, 2002

Woohoo! First weird referral to my site from google. Someone was looking for "19th-century porn" and was directed to (among others!) this site, the one you're looking at right now.

At last. Maybe if I type something really stupid here, someone really, REALLY misguided will come to this site when they're looking for other weird stuff, like 'chinchilla sex', 'pics of young boys forced to put food down their underwear', or 'muslim porn'.

Hmmmm. I have an idea....

Chinchilla sex margaret thatcher chinchilla sex hairy nostrils chinchilla sex rotting pavlova chinchilla sex chinchilla sex. Ha!

Muahahahahahaaaa. :oD

Saturday, August 03, 2002

Okay, you know the way I'd enthused about America and the superb aesthetic qualities of a lot of its citizens in the last post? Well, here's how fucking mad some of them get. There's this guy in New York who arranges kidnappings / violent abductions for people who want to get a kick out of the experience. What the hell?!?!

Maybe the people who buy into this shit would like to come over to Belfast and talk to someone who has been abducted and beaten? Hmm, maybe not. Maybe, instead, post - 09/11 America is still a place where people can buy into the thing as if it's a great piece of fun which doesn't really happen in the real world and gives you this little pleasureable feeling of being scared like you get at the cinema when you see a building exploding. Doesn't really matter and we get fun out of it. Sheesh.

The people who pay money to do this are stupid twats, even though it might well be their own money they're stupidly pouring into this enterprise. Twats, I say again. Twats. So, turning to another of them...

And you might call me a twat for putting this here, depending on where you are at this moment. hehe. ;o)
This guy seems to be exactly the cup of no-milk, gently sweetened and with-a-lemon-twist tea I like. His site is really well-designed, he looks cute, he has a line down the center of his chest, he has links to almost every single brilliant photo-art website out there, and his own is rapidly climbing the ladder too.

But like about a zillion other people like this, he lives in the USA. So along I trundle, sans sexual impulse, to blogstalker's place which seems at first glance to be an excellent digest of really good stuff. Unfortunately for my sense of worth, it turns out upon closer investigation to be exactly that, and a complete antithesis to this piece of crap.

The only good thing my pride will allow me to say about other sites such as this one - and this one - is that at least I'm picking up plenty of ideas and tips and just awareness of what makes a website good, and what can make it better. So when I finally get my finger out of my arse and my head into dreamweaver I'll be able to do something which will make at least me happy with myself.

I'm getting worried about Jonathan. He hasn't called in ages. Maybe he decided to stay in America. Then again, maybe not! :o) But I want him to send me photos of his new place in Greenwich so I can share it here. It's already sort of a part of me. "Oh yeah Pete, like someone else's house is a part of you, go fuck with someone else's head." No really. I can't describe it. I just felt good there. I felt... myself there.

But mostly in the bathroom when nobody noticed.


Wednesday, July 31, 2002

"Dear Peter, Sorry it's taken so long to get in touch. Unfortunately I am unable to offer you the job we discussed last week. I've been in touch with Piccadilly, who, because of your lack of shopfloor experience, were unable to recommend you."

FUCK. :o(

Why, then, is it so fucking hard to see that the answer is for someone to be *given the chance* to work on a shopfloor?

Tuesday, July 30, 2002

There's a guy called John B Root (hehe, hehehehehe! if you're french you'll understand) who has written an open letter to a paper in France defending the country's dissemination of porn on TV. There are increasing threats from the French authorities that X-rated films will be banned from the TVs of the nation.

Root says that "Porn's subject matter is physical love, a theme that has produced countless chefs-d'oevre in painting, in sculpture and in literature. If celluloid sex has never succeeded in hoisting itself to the rank of a cinematographic or televisual genre, it is because we have denied it the right to be economically viable. We would not be having this debate if porn was what it should be: joyous, well-made, aphrodisiac art... respectful of its actors and audience, portraying real people and making sense of its subject matter."

The link is here but the French papers online usually make you pay to search archives so I can't provide any original stories. Arse. However, FILMDECULTE has a good lot of stuff on the guy himself. It's in french though.

Monday, July 29, 2002

Alan said he doesn't want to publish any of his poetry really, a whole load of which he just emailed to me for criticism. I'm glad he doesn't want to. He'd put people like me out of business. I'm not going to put any of it here because of copyright issues. But in a sort of loose, splashy way, some of it is amazing. Of course I scoured unrecognised poems for signs that he might have been writing about me. Or us, or something. But there weren't any of those.

I've been trying to write, creatively, that is. Since I got back, while I was away, and I can't, it won't come. It's like the relevant bits of my mind have been clogged with concrete. Someone's going to have to chip away at it before I can get going again, and I'm the last person to do that. I don't have eyes on stalks and I can't see into my own head too clearly sometimes! But poetic hiatus is a big problem. If I don't get out of it soon I may never be able to climb out and write like I did. Which is to say, as well as I did.

But when I haven't been trying to squeeze a little turd of artistic emotion out into the porcelain bowl of the world of other (?) crap (?) everyone else (?) also produces, I've been riffling through this, this, this and slavering over this. I really can't wait until it is released. Then again, since I'm starting work at Waterstone's this week, I'll probably be able to get hold of an advance copy... somehow. But Donna's people are so secretive.

Mine, however, are sneaky and resourceful.

Friday, July 26, 2002

Oh, for fuck's SAKE!! What did they *expect*?!?!?

Thursday, July 25, 2002

Today I went and interviewed the lord mayor of Belfast about crime in the city and what he thinks of it, the causes, the effects, the ways to overcome it, the difficulties etc. It would've been just a reasonably boring interview if I'd've done it anywhere else.

But the lord mayor is a guy called Alex Maskey, seen above, a Sinn Fein member (nationalist, for those who don't know) and a former Long Kesh prisoner who is alleged to have been an active member of the IRA and to have killed or intended to kill several people. Various attempts have been made on his life since his turn to politics. So it was interesting. I'm not saying anything about it all now, but when the resulting articles get published I'll provide links.

Jonathan SMSed me late last night (presumably before travelling over to NC, USA for a while) with the message: "Is there anything you'd like me to tell the american people?". Him being a pretty anti-american american himself. I thought of several things on the spot but I was too tired and keyed-up about today's interview to reply. And now I can't remember them.

Now there's the interesting link of the day, and several reasons why you shouldn't necessarily expect anything too brill from London Underground: (someone made funny stickers, btw)

That's it for now. Sorry.

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

This two-man band is absolutely great. Ed recommended them and said I'd either love them or hate them. It's true. When you rush to Kazaa with their name to run a search (and damn you if you don't) you'll probably find that there's a greater chance you'll hate them, I can imagine. But I love them. Particularly Emerge, Tone Poem, and their cover of The 15th. You'd probably like Emerge if you gave it a chance.

Electroklash, I think the music called. But I'm not sure.

And in further random links: this guy looks absolutely amazing, because he's real and not a model. Unfortunately, he's American too. But we can't have everything we want, now can we. This blog (which isn't really, really a blog) is something I just found today and instantly had to share. And after the events of yesterday I'm feeling I need to push various specific things away by writing about them, so instead I've just been visiting these people. (weak grin)

And I'm a bit sceptical of whether it really works, but going here and giving the little box a click can't hurt, surely?

Monday, July 22, 2002

The post before this one was written just after it happened. This is written 'just after it happened' as well except more time has elapsed.

I don't want him back. In the sense that I know there is no sense, and quite frankly I just don't have it in me, to try and claw feelings out of another person which don't exist in the first place. But it's just so massively disappointing. I'm disappointed in him, for giving himself to me for so long online, and then letting it all be dashed so quickly and abruptly. But I'm also disappointed in me. I don't fall for people often, and the last time I had little enough wits about me to actually allow myself to fall for someone such a long distance away was ages and ages ago. I don't know. It was just him, and me, clicking over a distance. And now he's clicked in the same town with someone who he hopes is going to grow into his boyfriend.

Who knows, I might do the same. But I doubt it. I'm just left feeling like I'm really fucking stupid to have let this all happen in the first place. I don't hate men, and I'm not ruling out any amorous attraction with anyone else. No way. But if I start getting too involved with someone in future and it's by no means certain whether things will work out, for whatever reason, could someone please just tell me to go easy?

Right now, I need to be reassured that the world is a nice place. Again. Mood swings. Uncertainties. It's been an empty enough day to start off with. Apart from a conversation I had with Ed very early this morning, which was great. But since then... :o/
Alan has just found someone else. I thought I was getting over him, and getting happier about the whole thing, and relaxing into this new in-between stage. Except now there really aren't that many inbetweens to settle into. I don't know how to explain how I feel. I still love him. I still care about him. I still like him. And I think he's lovely, stupid, hasty, double-edged, impulsive, thrown me away, still holding my hand, treating me well and like shit at the same time, honest, wonderful - and too quick. I want him to see how stupid it is to be so hasty, in the way that it was with me. I want to know WHY. What did I do? What didn't I? I want it to work for him and whoever the guy is. And I don't. And I do. I don't know what I want. Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck.

This'll probably only last for a few days. Really.


Friday, July 19, 2002

Right. I'm doing links for this one, since Russ sort of commented that he actually *links* from his blog which is something I haven't been doing. It'd bad of me. I don't know / can't remember whether I ever featured this but it's something best experienced, I guess, with an excellent soundcard and good speakers and a large screen (which I have) and broadband (which I haven't). I'm in awe of those people over there.

When I was back in London last week, I walked through the courtyard of Somerset House and was expecting to find the courtyard as it had been, fountains playing, an oasis of calm and a catalyst for memories of how London had been when I lived there. Not that I needed much reminding. But there was a massive bloody tent in the middle of it, which wasn't nice at all. The fountains were off. Grr. It was disappointing. But this: (the great arch to the courtyard from the embankment)

was still there. And I used to stand underneath it and have a cigarette while waiting to go into the Gilbert Collection, or the courtyard, or wherever. And standing underneath it again, as small and crappy as the picture is (so you won't really appreciate it) was wonderful.

Vinopolis was also another place I walked by. And I still haven't had dinner there, or even tapas at the winebar. London friends take the hint and keep the link. ;o)

And that's it for now. I need wine. :o)

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

I don't know if it's just me being immature and dirty-minded, but when I saw a sign in a coffeeshop today saying "In the interests of hygiene, please don't touch our muffins" I found myself unable to stop grinning. It was perfect. Even more perfect was the huge expanse of Royal Crescent, bathed in sunlight, behind me as I sat in the park and read a book of poetry in a bright-blue paper cover which attracted some very lazy bees.

Tuesday, July 16, 2002

Yesterday evening I witnessed the most amazing things. I didn't realise that Bath is quite so much of a hot-air balloon place as it is. We were in the garden, surrounded by wineglasses beaded with condensation, smells of hickory smoke, and rocketing cats, when loads of balloons floated scarily low over the houses, one by one. It was beautiful. Dad told James to find his catapult, and was kicked under the table for his pains. It reminded me of the time last autumn when I saw balloons over the city at dusk, like massive floating lanterns as their gas-jets flared.

Simon Schama, who wrote this and has appeared in many history programmes on TV, was sitting in a tiny two-room pub we lunched at today. My sister Sarah was there. I love her. She gave me a fiver without having to be asked, and told dad to shut up when he went on about me lighting one cigarette when the pub was already hazed with blue.

There is a strangely-dressed man in this city, who stands statue-still in a niche of golden stone near the Abbey. He reaches down and pats the heads of children. People take photographs, and deposit large amounts of money. And yet all this man does is get dressed up and stand around. Usually I'd just have said that, and then shut up and moved on. But there's something which really gets to me, in a quiet way, about a tourist-infested place where there are people who can afford costumes who are given over 100 pounds in one day, and other people who are on the breadline, who have to really try very hard indeed to even get tossed 5p. Entertain us and we will reward you. Confront us with the seamier side of humanity and we will ignore you as much as we possibly can. I'm not going to launch into a homily about it here. But people really do actually die because of such collective frames of mind.

Tourists and money aside, I had another chance encounter today. A double-take on the street became more, and involved a couple of pints in a nice pub in a sunny street with a cute, big-eyed, smiley guy in his early twenties. I didn't even touch him, and no, I didn't even get half an erection at any point in either our meeting, conversation, or goodbye. But secretly I think, and hope, that he will fantasise about me sometime. I guess we all think that about people who look at us on the street. If only we'd stopped and talked, if only we'd have smiled longer, if only if only if only. I've dispensed with those for a certain time, and even though it may only last for the time I've been in Bath, and even though it has involved no sex whatever, I'm happy. It's been... enough.

Sunday, July 14, 2002

How come there are no photos this week? How come there were no photos last week? Because although I've been surfing as intrepidly as ever, I'm away from home and have no ftp software on these puters. So, if you feel like complaining... don't. Also: the comment links are there for a reason. I don't really care what you write. Anything would be good!

Woke up, felt hot, had shower, wanked, had another shower, got dressed and then dad arrived here. He's been in Cirencester and Cheltenham for the festival. First thing I did was say hello. Second thing we did was to have lunch outside. The sun was beating down. I know this'll sound stupid, but I'm not really acquainted with huge amounts of sun. I now know that I really like the feeling of incipient sunburn.

Tried to get dad to shove a tenner my way so I could actually go into Bath and have coffee. But he wouldn't because I smoke and he's paranoid. So I went into Bath anyway and didn't have coffee, spending my last tenner not on fags but on a rather nice sleeveless tshirt I saw in a little shop. Put it on straightaway and felt two things. One, a lot cooler. Two, regret that I don't have a tan yet. But I got *glances* anyway. Which is always nice. I like it when people actually take the trouble to keep looking at me, because it usually happens rarely. There's something in the air, I'm sure of it. But I can't be arsed to *do anything* about anyone who looks at me like that. There's not enough time. And I'm still in love with Alan. And it'd feel like I was wronging him. I know he'd think that silly but frankly - I don't care.

So yeah, got back, grinning despite the realisation that I have my last few ciggies and then no more. Sat in the sun, read the paper, played with the cats, did pushups until I couldn't, and that's been the day of yer typical northern ireland boy in Bath.

Friday, July 12, 2002

And now I'm back in Bath. And probably I'm not going to be here for too much longer, either. Back to the grind of northern ireland and politics and lack of sun and lack of London. It's going to be strange. Previously, when I lived in London and travelled to Bath for the weekend, or travelled home for the holidays, I felt firmly anchored in London even though I was away from it. I knew that it would always be where I came back to. I knew I belonged.

But this time has been different. Not in terms of how I feel about all the nice places and people I know and love. But the whole place has felt more exciting, more brutal (that's understandable because I've been away from it) but more... liveable in. And at the same time, less appealing to live in. By which I mean that I feel stronger for my time spent living back in Belfast. And that, because I feel stronger and calmer, London doesn't draw me with the irresistible tug which it could deploy the year before last. I love the place, dammit. I want to go back there right now, and stay with Jonathan for another few nights, and see the places, and see the eyes looking into mine and passing me by, looking into mine and keeping on gazing.

But although I'd love to live there again... I don't need it as badly as I once did. It's shallow, and strange for me I think, but the one thing I most miss about the place itself, discounting the people I know for a moment, is the sexual freedom. I don't mean taking a boy into a bush and shagging him senseless, but just the freedom there is in who you can look at, in what way. Belfast doesn't have that. I'll miss it anew. I like looking at well-turned bodies. But well-turned bodies (from what I know anyway) usually conceal shallow bastards. And that's one particular personality-type I can do without, and which Belfast doesn't really have too many of in the way London does.

Yes, us northern irish people are nice, we are. :o)
Being in London again, in tower records again, seeing the old and slightly less familiar people again, is just plain weird. It feels like I'm back for good and I know I'm only back for a few more hours. And I don't feel in the least bit deprived or sad because of that, which is even weirder.

Sunday, July 07, 2002

Extract from my notebook, written earlier this evening. It's me feeling melancholy, just so you know:

So much has changed. So much is still the same. It's approaching early evening in this little loft room in Bath, and the skies have greyed again. I'm sitting here and he is in London. Or is he? I don't know. I'm in Bath more than a year, maybe more than 2, after he left it. He lived just less than a minute from here. In a few days I'll be in London. And he'll just have left it. I'll be wondering where he was, who he saw. I'm not in love with him, but I do love him.

But I'm still smitten. I can't help it. Things don't wear off that easy for me. I don't like them to. But sometimes I wish they would. What did I want anyway? To go out with him, definitely. I still want to. But. The distance between Belfast and him?! What the fuck was I thinking?! -- I know. The hopeful thoughts of bliss and effort which can bear fruit because you're hopeful. The thoughts we get scared of thinking in a responsible, ordered, grown-up world. I want to be responsible but I don't want my emotions to be always squashed by so much logic. You're too far away, you don't know him well enough, you're incompatible, you can't manage those distances, forget him but keep him, don't kiss him just hold him, you can't love him.

I really hate this grown-up thing. It mars a little bit of my hope every year, maybe. And even the people I thought were magic enough to hope turn out not to hope as stupidly, innocently high as I do.

But I'm still smitten. I can't help it. And he can't help me. Or maybe he can. I want him to help me through this, out the other side into balanced crazy affectionate funny serious wacky close friendship. I want him to notice the wobbles in my voice in the inbetween times and lift me down from my wild hopes into the fluffy sureness of his continued presence in my life.

It will be.
So hard.
But worth it. Because.
Whatever else he is, he is my friend.
I woke up this morning about half ten, surrounded by blue. I walked to the window and looked out, and the blue lightened, to be replaced by the grey of the skies and little pellets of rain on the skylight. So I retreated into my cosy blue world for a further hour, and then wandered around the house (my bro's place) half-naked, and watched the cats sleeping on the stairs. Then got dressed and went out. It seemed the thing to do. I was hungry, the cloud had lifted, Bath beckoned.

And when I got into the centre, I realised 2 things. One, Bath is really nice on a sunday if you don't expect anything of it and just let yourself drift with no needs. Two, wearing contact lenses is a good thing in the height of summer, even if you have hayfever, because they allow you to see all the nice things and people around you with greater clarity. And not wearing glasses makes a quite substantial proportion of people glance at you. If you're lucky, they even follow you around book and record stores. If you're really lucky, you get invited to lunch by interesting guys who look nice and talk nicer. I was really lucky. And no, I didn't take his number in my hand nor his tongue in my mouth. My mind is taken up by another person. But my skin is completely smitten with the sun in sunday afternoons.

Friday, July 05, 2002

Here in Bath. Again. Bath always now fills me with a sense of happiness, calm, but the sense of calm I get from being surrounded by nice things and family, rather than the sense of deep personal calm which allows me to create freely.

After dinner, clearing plates, dad said to me "Scoop your bits out over here". No way. I'm not scooping my bits out for anyone his age, no matter what the reason.

Thursday, July 04, 2002

Extract from my notebook from earlier today (actually yesterday, since this is now the early hours of the morning):

Sitting here in Bristol Airport. And it is bizarre, faintly, in the way all these places are. But it is also washed with wistfulness... ...the last time I was here, a few days ago, it was a place where I was to meet Alan and be taken from here, from the world even, by his eyes and his smile... ...and although that has happened, and often, this place is strange. Right here and now. I don't like it.


It's lucky I'm sitting in the bar. It doesn't stab with his invisible presence, my memories of me wandering around looking for him the last time. And later, before my flight, I will be wandering around. Looking for him. And he won't be here.

So I guess you could say I've had a completely wonderful, stellar, captivating and very mixed past few days. Let's leave it at that. Thanks, Alan. :o)

But the thing is, I'd like to have more time to 'recover' before having to shoot off again. I'm in Belfast now - but in 5 hours' time I'll be off again. Back, in fact, to the place I just left today: the south of england. A bizarre little detour. Which leaves me less peacetime than I'd like before I enter the fray again, as it were. But my god, I'm looking forward to seeing my brother and sister, Jonathan, Owen, Alex - and Alan. It'll be cool. And, I have a feeling, ever so slightly mixed and blurred. It feels disconcerting, but that's only because the past few days have been the first time I've been out of northern ireland for 6 months. This perpetual motion was how I always was for the past two years though. It's tragic how soon you can be sucked into a life of comfortable and deadening routine.

I'll try and post more as and when I can. See you all later!

Tuesday, July 02, 2002

My god. This is weird. I'm sitting here, not in Belfast, but in Reading (which is in the south of England and where my big brother used to work). And I have been here before, but so long ago it's difficult to remember where I was and what I saw. Visiting Alan has been lovely so far but I've been quiet, full of thoughts, crossed wires but one big ray of light through everything. Holiday times take you out of the world and make you feel different. The whole world seems new. And just at the point at which the world seems newest and brightest, today, I'm off to London for the afternoon to see Jonathan, who will be pulling me gracefully down to the warm solid earth again. Nicely, though. :o)

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Censorship on the net. Some websites being policed, particularly the ones which contain information which certain individual governments may regard as dangerous. (Usually to themselves alone.)

But hang on... isn't the net meant to be a place where there is no censorship other than that which is imposed on sites by site owners, boards by board-owners, etc? What does anyone think of this? I think any censorship of the net outside of those terms is unnatural, because - in electronic terms! - the net is a naturally-growing, organic thing, and lies mercifilly outside any nation or state.

Monday, June 24, 2002

Yum. Gratuitous disgusting food for the day.

You know, the little links saying 'comment?' under each post are usable. So, if you feel moved to, use them. If not... don't. See if I care.

Saturday, June 22, 2002

I've just come across a link to this website; WARNING!: it's not for the faint-hearted. Put bluntly, it has lots of pictures and videos of things like shootings, suicides, gruesome accidents and not-quite-accidents of all kinds. I initially thought that it was just pointlessly sick stuff, and was sort of comforted and confirmed in my view when I saw lots of bad spelling and swearwords in the comments pages. Obviously, I thought, the people who visit this site are just dumb sickos.

But then I looked at a clip. It was the suicide of a guy called Bud Dwyer. He was a state dignitary of Pennslvania who put a pistol in his mouth during a press conference which aired on live TV. He was going to be sentenced the following day for a host of white-collar crimes, and it was likely he would be imprisoned for over 50 years. Apparently. Anyway. I was both repelled, and fascinated. There was no reason in the world that I'd have sought out something like this to watch: last night I spent nearly all my online time taking a look at nice things on this site. I certainly don't think that this clip was put onto the site as any kind of catalyst for law reform, or as education into the tragedies of suicide.

All the same, I was fascinated. The image of a person's death is, shockingly, special. Yes; it's disgusting as well, of course. Many of the links in the site describe only, and they were enough to stop me from clicking. But whereas we may see squashed animals on the roads every day and not be disturbed, as soon as we see another dead animal (of the human kind), we recoil. Is this instinctive? I'd say not. Is it aesthetic? I'd say it is. But are aesthetics unchangeable, set in stone, absolute? No. Therefore, although I was so disgusted by what I've just seen that I am gently sipping from a glass of water to quiet my stomach, I have to recognise that maybe the people who keep the site online might (unintentionally) be providing something of a service to those of us brave enough to look and think. That site reminds me, at any rate, that when you get down to it, all I am is a living organism. I'm not sacred. I can be pulled apart, even killed. But hell, there's so much more to me as well - and when you think about it, that's kinda special.

Friday, June 21, 2002

Two things have happened today which have made big news in the UK. One: England lost in the latest world cup football match. I couldn't give a fuck. And then a bloke called Spencer got thrown out of the Big Brother house: basically a place in which ordinary people are imprisoned and assigned various tasks and have to live together, and they're watched *really avidly* by the nation, which decides on which one of them is to be evicted from the house at the end of each week. Well, those of us who can actually be bothered to watch the thing, and call in to vote. Personally, I'm more taken with the wonderful thunderstorm we had tonight over Belfast. Really big rumbles, and hailstones as big as pebbles. FAN-tastic. :o)

And apparently, as a result, people on the outskirts of Belfast have had to fight floodwater coming through their homes, sometimes 4 feet deep in certain areas. I'd say that was a lot more important than Big fucking Brother. But hey. We all have to have priorities, and mine are the quiet little boring ones. I've also been thinking quite a lot lately about a certain person. But I'm not saying who it is. I don't want to jinx things. And I might not even be thinking about anyone: that's the thing with words. You can make them say anything.


Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Tonight was the night that the first person to visit our house with a view to seeing whether they might want to bid for it, well, visited. She was only here for about 15 mins I guess, but I left after the first 5, not really wanting to stick around and hear dad's final "So I hope you'll want to buy this excellent family home" spiel. Because it's our family home, dammit. Ours.

Am I being too possessive over this?

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Your online smile for the day.

This little guy is called Quetzalcoatl, and he's in a room at the back of the great court in the British Museum, London. I sort of wanted him when I first saw him. :o)

Monday, June 17, 2002

Now, who can guess what this is?

Twisty bit of wire? It's bronze actually. Still no clue? It's a mummification probe from the British Museum's interesting online database. Basically, they stick this up your nose when you're dead, push hard so it breaks through the bone between your nasal cavity and brain, and then twizzle it around so it breaks up the brain. The pieces are then spiked and pulled back out through your nose. When you're dead, obviously. And why? Because the brain didn't have any significance to the ancient egyptians, but the heart did, and it was where the personality, thoughts etc. were thought to reside.

I love museums. They contain objects of such bizarre, and sometimes grotesque, significance under the polite patina of educated research and endless quiet Sunday afternoons.

Oh my god.

Now, that was me during my final year of uni, with specs and seemingly without eyes, but in a very very nice bar in Aberdeen. Which you can't really see. Dammit. Wow. What you find in dusty folders.

They were there again tonight.

God, that sounds like the opening line of a ghost story. Except ghosts don't reach out and try to feel your bits. Well, usually they don't anyway, and if they do, we can only assume that all those writers have been censoring stuff for centuries. It's weird, I know, but I got drunk with dad tonight. Yeah, drunk with my own, usually non-alcoholic father. It was actually quite good. We both got drunk, and we both didn't argue. I think it was the food. We were both too hungry to fight, and then after we'd got through the first stretch of stuffing our faces and things had got more leisurely, there was no real urge to do anything but have more wine and slur more speech.

I've been looking at gaydar tonight. I know, I know. Slaggy gay website. Well, slaggier than my own haunt. And it's so bizarre. I went on it to look for my friend Lars (who still lives there and emailed me recently) and I can't find him, even though Patrick described his profile to me, because - would you believe it?! - there are actually over 500 entries for Aberdeen alone! I never knew there were that many of us there! Admittedly, a lot of them are people who just aren't us. They stand in the corners of bars and look for SEX all night, and if they don't do that, the environment they're in leads them to describe themselves and their needs in a really clinial, abnormal way. Instead of just saying "I am this person, and I want this sort of experience / person / chocolate / icecream", they say "I'm a male (never a guy) who wants to be taught (why not just leave it for later?) about blah blah". Can anything BE more of a turn-off? I like to know what people are interested in, *outside* the sheets. When you're done talking about the consistency of different types of cum, ewwww, there's precious little else you'd actually want to say. Whereas if you're talking about film, or music, or books, or countryside, or travel, everything's so much more real. And interesting.

I met a guy in London once who must have thought that I wanted sex with everyone I met. Like, I think he must have thought I wanted to shag *friends* all the time. I have *slept with* (as in, yes, actually snored beside) some of my friends in the same bed. By which he understood: "Pete has rampant *sex* with *all* of his friends, and is shockingly unapologetic about that, but rather than actually taking the trouble to find out whether this rather unbelievable thing is true or not, I'm going to run away with my own sense of shock, magnify it out of all proportion, and ignore any other aspects of Pete's personality. And then say limply and unconvincingly that I don't feel we're suitable for each other".

I saw the other day that he's moved within London, and is still looking for friends he really feels completely comfortable with. Now, I'm not knocking that. But. Surprise fucking surprise. Maybe he should move to another, earlier, century? I think so, anyway - for his own sanity at least.