Tuesday, August 31, 2004

It's in the darkness that I see the boy's face...

Yesterday whilst out in Castleton we visited Blue John Cavern. It's a cave up a hill. They mine Blue John there, a not terribly exciting mineral, notable mainly for only being found in one place in the whole wide world. This is something to do with geology, I'm sure you could look it up on the 'net if you wanted to find out exactly what.

It's apparently the most popular of the four caves in the nearby area that is open to the public. I'm not entirely sure why, as Speedwell has underwater boats which makes it pretty cool in my book. My book by the way is the "Book Of Caves With Underwater Boats". It's ten English pounds in hardback, but as a special offer for you lovely readers, I'll send you a signed copy for twenty quid.

I'm always surprised that there aren't more deaths and tragic maimings in these caves, as the safety precautions to stop you falling down the stairs are usually minimal. The stairs and slopes are invariably steep, slippy, uneven, dark and still slippy. Half the people in there seem to have come in inappropriate footwear - sandals, flip-flops, even the odd pair of high heels. These people are Dicing With Death. I always find it hard going wearing boots, but maybe that's because being tall I have to spend extra concentration on not banging my head on the low ceilings. Rock hurts if you headbutt it.

Blue John Cavern doesn't actually have all that much to see in it. There are no truly spectacular rooms, bottomless drops or interesting stalacmites that look like animals if you catch them from the right angle, in the right light, it's a Thursday and you have a truly stupendous imagination. It does however have "Balancing Rock". It's a big rock, kind of slightly balancing on some other rocks. But is probably completely stable and hasn't moved for thousands of years.

The lack of daftly named formations does at least spare us having to waste brain power trying to reconcile the name to the rock eg "Mr T", "Papa Smurf" or "Deceased Gerbil". Proof if ever it was needed of the madness of the Victorians.

This one over here. People say to me, "Mick - it doesn't look like anything at all". But when I look at it I seem to see a little pair of hands clutching at a slippery wet rope. Sliding down, down into the dark water. Sometimes I'll stand here for hours. Just looking at it.

Michael Buerk did say to me, "Mick, you can't go blaming yourself, it wasn't your fault." But I don't know. Young kiddie like that. Whole life ahead of him. "School Trip Tragedy: Local Man Blamed". Every day the same. Parades of blank faces. The constant drip-drip drom the cavern roof. The cold indifference of the ancient rock, But you keep going, don't you?

It's like the moss growing round that lightbulb there. Life finds a way. Remember the guide on your way out. Thank you.

- The League of Gentlemen

Monday, August 30, 2004

Hang the DJ

I've been out into the Peak District today, for a little walk around Castleton. Normally we'd do walk then lunch, but due to running late to start with, and then getting caught in the traffic going to the Hope show (as in the town of Hope, not a show where people go to hope nice things will happen), we did lunch then walk. Lots of hill. And then a detour down a tourist cave, which I may or may not write about tomorrow.

As tends to be the way, I was on DJ duty in the car. Here, mainly for Chip's benefit to be honest, are the songs I stuck on (excluding the first two as I have forgotten what they were - the others were all saved in a playlist as I went along).

I realise that this is basically just a list of random songs, so feel free to skip to the end of the post if you want.

This is not an exit - Seafood
Live and let die - Paul McCartney and Wings
Hey ya - Outkast
Everyday is like Sunday - Morrissey
Girls on film - Melys
Still - Longview
I am a rock - Me first and the Gimmee Gimmees
My happy ending - Avril Lavigne (though I was made to take this off)
Alphabet soup - Bell X1
Eve, the apple of my eye - Bell X1
Marvin - Marvin the Paranoid Android
Wide open space - Mansun
Do no wrong - Thirteen senses
Just want to live - The Open
Megalomania - Pele
Til the day - Easyworld
2nd amendment - Easyworld
You'll never walk alone - Gene
Mad world - Gary Jules
After the watershed - Carter USM
Kim Wilde - Charlotte Hatherley
You were the last high - The Dandy Warhols
Leslie Anne Levine - The Decemberists
Hounds of Love - The Futureheads
First Day - The Futureheads
Fashion Crisis hits New York - The Frank and Walters
Mrs Back to Front and the Bull Ring Thing - Go Kart Mozart
No other life is attractive - Thirteen senses
Cirencester - Bull moose jackson jnr
Air Hostess - Busted
The Frog Princess - The Divine Comedy
Crazy in Love - Snow Patrol
Cut - Snowblind
Same picture - Goldrush
Hold on to our love - James Fox
Sing for the moment - Eminem
It was a very good year - Frank Sinatra
Freakin' out - Graham Coxon
Worry about the wind - Hal
Does your heart go boom? - Helen Love
Good fruit - Hefner
Hallelujah - Leonard Cohen
Fit but you know it - The Streets
Against all odds - Phil Collins
Danger Zone - Kenny Loggins
Sorted for E's & Whizz - Pulp
Can't stand me now - The Libertines
Live it up - Mental as anything
Together in electric dreams - Phil Oakey
Pain killer - Turin Brakes
A new England - Kirsty Macoll
All these things that I've done - The Killers
Slaves - Grand Transmitter
Golden age of radio - Josh Ritter
Missing for days - Kealer
Majesty - Madraguda
India - Puressence
Good souls - Starsailor
The Drowners - Suede
The Storm - Tanya Donneley
Don't let's start - They Might Be Giants
The light will stay on - The Walkabouts
Willow's song - Seafood
Penthouse in the woods - The Scud Mountain Boys
Laura - Scissor Sisters
Talk talk talk - The Ordinary Boys
Close my eyes - The Open
Live Forever - Oasis

I will make no apology for the somewhat random use of capital letters in that list.

What an incredible selection of songs! I am available for weddings, birthdays, bar mitzvahs and funerals (please provide your own sound system). If you don't need a DJ, then I'm happy to just come along as a guest.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Are you hungry?

What if you could eat absolutely anything?
Cheese straws, broccoli or fried squid ring?
Now ok, I realise you can eat these foods,
But what about some to which I only alude?

White train chambers and the juice of a book,
Dark late night humours and the use of a hook.
Twenty slaved caption writers with blueberry sauce,
Followed by chipmonks with hooves of fast horse.

Do you fancy sofa shavings, or broiled table legs?
Perhaps some tarmac topped with unicorn eggs?
Or the coat of a president from an unknown country,
with a stolen roulade from nineteen seventy.

Fast moving pamphlets, garnished with thyme,
Canapes of saxaphone played in three/four time.
Leprechaun's hearts in the style of Pot Noodle:
Just add piping hot water and the Flump, Pootle.

And finish with desert, grey twilight caresses,
Served in lady dishes with the shortest of dresses.
Pour on flaming lava, and some grated Mickey Mouse
And the odour will be beautiful and permeate your house.

If this was your diet, you'd be always full,
And your dinner parties would never be dull.
Your guests would arrive expecting fine food,
And leave with their heads fully confused.

Pub talk

Four actuaries in a pub on a Saturday night. What do they talk about? Here, in no particular order, are some of the conversation topics:

- Should any series of books longer than a trilogy be banned? Should there be different rules for the case when it is a single story being told over several books? What if each physical book is divided into two or more 'books'?
- The merits of Perl as a programming language.
- CNPS. There's always CNPS.
- Sexual positions that would be appropriate for use in a toilet.
- The relatively large size of the toilets at work, especially the disabled ones that have extra things to hang on to. And the extent to which the toilets are soundproofed (not very in my opinion).
- How C++ got its name.
- The CD single release of "Is it 'cos I'm cool?" by Mousse T feat. Emma Lanford. Whoever she is...
- Hasn't it got busy in here all of a sudden?
- Where in the Peak District we should go for a walk on Monday
- The baseball system of summarising how well you've got along with a girl. And an attempt to clarify the relative positions of first and third base. And whether a home run will always lead to a baby. I still feel that further work is needed here.
- The title of the new Star Wars film (very briefly).
- Some other things that I have not bothered to remember. Hopefully they weren't important.

Bet you wish you'd been there with us now.

Saturday, August 28, 2004


Apologies for the totally unimaginative title of this post. Can't think of anything good. Maybe something will come to me later, in the way that witty responses to people normally come into your head three hours too late.

Holi-day 9: Switzerland. Another strange country, full of very-very heavily armed people and mountains. And heavily armed people hiding in the mountains, probably with the coach lined up in their sniper sights, just waiting for us to make a single mistake.

I find it hard to think of Switzerland without thinking of the Mr Don and Mr George episode, "The Winslow apple". In case you are not one of the three people that have seen the episode, here's the synopsis, copied from the back of the VHS box: "The police net closes in on Don following his theft of an apple as a child. George is so tense he is in danger of exploding. A holiday not to Switzerland is the only answer.". Um, it's funnier than it sounds.

Mr George has the following to say about Switzerland:
George: I'm not going to Switzerland! There are at least six countries in the world, it's perfectly reasonable that I should have doubts and reservations about one of them.
Don: I understand that you have an aversion to the Swiss...
G: They're lazy! Why don't they clear away the snow? It's just so so slippy, the whole place. In this country, we'd get the gritters out, but not them, no. They don't even fight wars. Not one, not one. They've never punched anybody, none of that. They haven't even invented their own language!
D: So we're not going to Switzerland then?

I had to actually watch the video just now to get that quote! Darned internet - must be broken, as I couldn't find transcribed scripts anywhere.

We were staying in Lucerne, in a rather bizarre hotel. It was in an old jail, and the whole thing had been kept in the old prison style. All the rooms are in the old cells, which still have bars on the windows. Thankfully, they have installed proper toilets and showers in the rooms, so there's no slopping out required. And nobody came round last thing at night rattling the doors, which was actually slightly disappointing. Or maybe they did come round, but before we got back from the club.

In the past I have expressed my disappointment with certain clubs in York. The place in Lucerne was not like The Gallery, and I actually really enjoyed myself. Beer was reasonably priced at four and a half Swiss Francs (about two quid). Music was reasonable. It was on the top floor of a hotel for some reason, accessible only by a lift. We'd been to a club in Florence the previous night, and that was fun too.

On the way back to the jail, we were slightly merry. We found a phonebox and I suggested we see if we could all fit in it. We could! Here's the evidence:

Photo taken by me, holding the camera up above us. Seemed like a good idea at the time. There was actually a sixth person there too, but they seem to have fallen off the photo. That was clumsy of them!

Friday, August 27, 2004

Stairs can be tricky

I've found that I have an occasional problem with the stairs at work. I work on the fifth floor, and sometimes I go down to the third floor to see people. This is fine, it's nice to get a change of scenery from time to time, even if the third floor looks very similar to the fifth floor (which it does). It does have different people on it.

If I've been to the third floor, I normally have four options:
1) Return to the fifth floor using a lift.
2) Return to the fifth floor using the stairs.
3) Leave the building and go somewhere more exciting.
4) Go somewhere else in the building that is not the fifth floor.

I shall dwell not on options 3 or 4 for they are of no concern today.

Option 1 is quite straightforward. I get in the lift, press 5, wait a short while, get out and then return to my desk. Job's a good 'un.

Option 2 is where I have problems. Sometimes I choose to use the stairs, but then get confused or distracted part way up and I end up getting off on the wrong floor (ie the fourth floor). This is a little embarassing. Typically, it will take me a few steps to realise that I am on the wrong floor, as they do all look very similar. I mentioned that earlier. By this time, people have noticed I am around, so it would look a bit silly if I turned straight back into the stairwell. People would realise that I am incapable of counting two flights of stairs.

So instead, I have to make a show of walking determinedly to anywhere, pretending to look for someone who isn't there, then making a small face of disappointment, before finally striding on to either another stairwell, or the lift. I can then get to the fifth and pretend nothing went wrong.

But I know that something went wrong, and that I've ballsed up the simplest of tasks. Irritating. But I get away with it.

Thursday, August 26, 2004


Nine years ago (is it really that long?), in September 1995 a relatively new charity, War Child released an album, which must still be a contender for "best charity record of all time". War Child was initally set up to help the kids caught up in the war in former Yugoslavia, but it's still going today, still helping in Yugoslavia, but also now in many other places around the world. And sadly there are far too many places where its help is needed.

The idea of the "Help" album was to get some of the best musical artists of the day to all record a song on the Monday, then have the record mixed, mastered, pressed, distributed during the week, into the shops on Saturday, and sell enough records to get to number one in the UK album charts the next day. A pretty tall order.

Bands included Oasis, Radiohead, Blur, The Charlatans, The Manics, The KLF, Orbital and many others. And Sinead O'Connor. Twenty in all. The finished product ended up being pretty fabulous. Not every track was great. Blur's "Eine Kleine Lift Musik" was particularly disappointing, despite having a great title. And I can never have too little Paul Weller. But there's no need to dwell on the low points.

High points are many. Suede's cover of "Shipbuilding", the Manics doing "Raindrops keep falling on my head". A fabulous Portishead track, "Mourning Air", and the high spot, Radiohead's "Lucky". It turned up later on "OK Computer", but that was about a year later. I remember hearing it the first time and finding it hard to believe that they'd put something that good on a charity album. Possibly still one of my all time favourite songs.

The album ended up selling loads, getting to number one as desired, and raising well over a million quid.

War Child have been involved in many other projects since then. Some musical, some not. There was a pretty decent album of covers out last year. Now they have a new thing: War Child Music. An online music download service, offering just a few carefully chosen exclusive tracks each month. First month sounds alright - it includes tracks by Radiohead, Bloc Party ("Forever!") and a version of "The sun ain't gonna shine any more" by Keane. Seems reasonably priced, especially if you subscribe. Three and a half quid gets you all the tracks each month. Sorry if I sound like an advert, but it seems like a good idea to me.

And if you never actually bought the "Help" album back in '95, you can download the whole thing for a bargain £3.50 from the same site. You'll probably even get a track listing thrown in, which is more than those of us who bought it originally did! I'm listening to the album as I write and it's still sounding good. Mostly good, anyway.

Hey! Was that a serious post just then? Damn, must be losing it.

Take a headshot

I'm going to be in my company's graduate brochure again. Or possibly just on the website, I'm not sure if we even still have a physical brochure these days. The reason for me being on it, despite being graduated for seven years, is that I'm a "shining example of a young actuary" (my words).

I've actually been on the website for a few years already, but at the moment there is no photo. Now they have decided to add photos. Headshots only. And they've given us a choice - either let the girl that's organising the thing take a new photo, or we can provide a photo of our own. I'm not sure what kind of background we're allowed to have on, but I'm going to have a look through my digi-photos and see if I have anything suitable. Or maybe just play around with my camera at the weekend.

There must be some scope for causing mishief here... maybe get something very subtle into the photo that shouldn't really be there, like an advert for a competitor, or maybe a lonely hearts ad. Obviously, being highly professional, I would never do anything like that intentionally, but you know how sometimes these things just happen...

I was in the paper brochure after I first started work. This was back before the internet was the all-powerful omnipresent beast it is now. I expect Patrick is still jealous that they chose me to go in rather than him. If I'd only known then what I know now about how that brochure would go on to devastate my life, perhaps I'd have refused the cup that was offered me. But I didn't refuse. I drank, and drank deep, and it changed me for ever.

Oh, hang on, no it didn't I was thinking of something else. Someone else. All that changed for me was I had "Hello! Do you recognise me from the graduate recruitment brochure" as a conversational line. Generally the response was "No".

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Burn, Baby, Burn

I came back to the flat at lunchtime today, in order to take delivery of a couple of books. Fourth attempt, though admittedly only the second time I had known in advance that the delivery man was going to try and get it to me. The other two times I'd just hoped to bump into him. This enabled me to score a bonus happening: missing a meeting at work that would have been both quite dull, and in my lunch hour. Lunch meetings are wrong.

Since I was not in a dull meeting, and was in fact in my own home flat, I decided to have a quick and easy lunch there, whilst waiting for the man. My lunch of choice: Toast and Marmalade. So, after doing some washing up, I put a couple of slices in the toaster, turned the dial to 2 and went off to write an email. Some minutes later, my spidey senses started tingling. Or maybe I smelt burning.

"That's odd" thinks I, "I wonder what that smell/tingling is?". I walk quickly to the kitchen and quickly spot that I have severely burnt the toast. To the extent that the kitchen is full of smoke and I can barely see the toaster. Ooops. I slam down the eject lever, the toast flies out onto the worktop, and I turn off the toaster at the wall. Then (very quickly) whack on the extractor fan and dash to the hallway door to close it before the smoke alarm goes off. By the time I've done this, both the kitchen and living room are totally full of smoke! Arrghh! But "Arrghh" in a "this is both funny and interesting kinda way". I suspect I might have been thinking "Arrghh" in a different way, if the toaster, kitchen and myself had actually been on fire.

At this point, the delivery man has not yet arrived with my books.

Next obvious step: Open the damn windows, let some smoke out and some fresh air in. To anyone outside, it would probably have looked like the flat was actually on fire (which it was most certainly not) as there was a lot of smoke leaving through the window. I'm not really sure what to do next, so I go back to the toaster. Looks like it had turned on, but the timer hadn't started ticking down. Best watch out for that in the future. I'm still hungry though, so I put another couple of slices of bread in, check that everything is working ok, and go back to the living room to marvel at the smoke. Who would have though that the old bread had so much smoke in it?

The delivery man has still not arrived, so in the meantime, here's a photo of the burnt toast:

Curses - the photo of burnt toast has gone into hiding...

Second batch toast works much better, as does third batch. And by this time I've run out of marmalade, so it must be time to stop. Just as I take the plate to the kitchen, the man arrives. I get him to pass the parcel through the window (this is ok, as I am on the ground floor) as I don't want to go through the hallway and let smoke near the alarm. This he does. I sign, he leaves. It takes around another quarter of an hour for the smoke to clear sufficiently for me to be happy to leave the flat and head back to work.

After all this smokey excitement, I was left smelling distinctly barbequed. Someone told that until I'd told them about the toast, they thought I'd been in a very smokey pub at lunchtime, drinking. Which I hadn't. I hadn't even had a beer at home, just a mug of cherry tea. I smelt smokey all afternoon. When I got home this evening, the flat smelt of burnt toast. It still smells of burnt toast. Darn. Better than bad drains I suppose.

Suffice to say, burning the toast was the most exciting thing that happened to me today. To be honest, it may be the most exciting thing that happens to me this year. It's great being an actuary.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Crispy Puzzles

This is probably just me, but...

Wouldn't it be fantastic if the contents of every single bag of crisps were made out of a single potato? Not only would they be a tasty, nutritious snack, but they'd also double as a three dimensional jigsaw puzzle. You'd be able to see whether you had enough willpower to try and tame the tricky task before you succumbed to supping on the salty snack.

For a bigger bag of crisps, simply use a bigger potato. And because every potato is unique, with different curves, eyes and heft, every puzzle would also be a different challenge. A new challenge every day in fact, or if you're like me, a new challenge every hour of every day!

This would not work so well for maize based crisps. Can't imagine the technology that would be needed to reconstruct a whole maize (whatever that looks like) from a bag of Monster Munch. Whole kinds of violations of the second law of themodynamics there.

No need to stop at bags of crisps though. What about if every portion of fries at MacDonalds were made from a single potato? How cool! Who'd need a happy meal then? Your meal would be the toy. Mac Employee: "Do you wanna super-size that, sir?". Me: "Sure thing - I'm on an extended lunch, let's make my toy hard!".

Or what about if every bag of pork scratchings were made from a single swine? You could call it a pig-saw! -*ahem*-

More on Europe

There's going to be some more posts about the holiday soon, as there are still a few countries I haven't covered: France, Switzerland, Austria and The Netherlands. Just need to be arsed to get a few photos online. Which needs me to be less lazy. I mention this only so that if you've been thinking "Why hasn't Rich talked about France - did he forget Paris?", you will now have the answer "Oh, he hasn't forgotten, he just hasn't got round to it yet.".

I will try and do one in the next couple of days. Promise.

Monday, August 23, 2004


I have a credit card already, I don't need another one. I get tired of junk mail asking me if I would like another one. I don't. If I did, I'd go out and get one myself. An application arrived from CapitalOne today ("What's in your wallet?" - Mind your own f**king business!) and annoyed me before I even opened it. In fact it annoyed me so much, I didn't open it.

Annoyance 1: On the envelope it says "Dated Documents Enclosed". Well, that's a fat lot of use isn't it! Give me modern documents, new documents, brilliantly original documents. If I wanted dated documents I'd go down my local doc archive and spend a pleasant afternoon amongst the racks and files.

Annoyance 2: On the envelope it says: "Do not bend, fold, tear, or mutilate.". Well, who is that supposed to be an instruction for? Me? How on Lucifer's fat rump am I supposed to get the contents out without tearing the envelope? Am I supposed to just sit and let the envelope rot away? Use a Star Trek transporter to get the dated documents out? And mutilate??? Since when have we had to warn people to not mutilate their post???? Ok, I know there are aliens out there who go in for a spot of cattle mutilation from time to time, but to my knowledge, mental hospitals are not overflowing with people who can't stop mutilating their mail.

Or is the message aimed not at me, but perhaps at my postman? The nerve! How dare they accuse my lovely postman of being the sort to BEND AND MUTILATE MAIL. They wouldn't employ him if he did. Mail mangling is a sackable offence in the postal service. I'm surprised that upon seeing the implicit accusation boldly printed on the envelope that Mr Mail didn't take the credit card application and ***Sorry, but World of Lint has been censored here by the good taste police. Have a nice day*** until Thursday!!!

So I did the one thing, the only thing I could do. I bent the mail, I folded it in two, I tore it in half and then ran a tap over it to make it all wet. I then chewed a small part, but it tasted unpleasant so I put the whole sodden lot in the bin.

Stupid card wasn't even gold.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Killers and Weddings

A chorus:

"Well somebody told me
That you had a boyfriend
Who looked like a girlfriend
That I had in February
Of last year
It's not confidential
I've got potential..."

From "Somebody told me" by The Killers. From Las Vegas. Great song, but I really have zilcho idea what it's on about. Possibly the singer's ex-girlfriend has had a sex change and is now going out with a girl the singer fancies?

Great album too for the most part.

I got a wedding invitation the other day. I had originally thought that they had forgotten to put the details of the reception on it, but it turns out that they had, just in a slightly odd place. It was an odd invite in that you had to pull things out of other things and there was string. Not the best description, but take it from me that it was complex. The reception thing says "No gifts". I'm unsure what this means:

a) Do not bring the happy couple ANY gifts or presents at all.
b) Do not bring any cheap tacky gifts.
c) Do not bring gifts to the reception, but there feel free to buy things from a wedding list which we'll give you the details of separately.
d) No gifts, but cash and all major credit cards accepted.
e) Guests at the reception should not expect to receive any gifts.

I dunno, weddings are so complicated these days. Maybe it'll be one of those times where you just pin money to the bride like in a weird lapdancing club. Or stuff it into her bridal veil, or indeed "somewhere else". I'll interpret it as a) above I think. Seems easiest.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

I heard there was a secret chord...

On Monday, what turned out to be Jeff Buckley's only proper album, "Grace", is re-released in a special 10th anniversary edition. He would probably have made more albums but he drowned in 1997.

Last night I found some freebie postcards in a bar, which were advertising the new album. I grabbed a couple to show people, and it seems that I was the only person who had actually heard the album. What are you doing people? Grace is a fantastic, beautiful album and you should all listen to it. Now! Go, on get out to the shop, you can probably pick up the original for a fiver.

Are you back? Good. Stick it in your CD player, sit back, lie back (stand if you like) and have a good old listen. It's great, isn't it? His cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" is awesome.

One thing though: I've always thought the album's cover was rubbish. A headshot of Jeff looking down, eyes closed, holding a mike in his left hand. I think it's supposed to look moody and intense, but to me it just looks like he's nodded off on stage. They don't seem to have changed this for the re-release sadly. Here's the picture, from Amazon, for those of you who don't have the album:

Wake up Jeff! You're doing a gig, so sing man!

Friday, August 20, 2004

On non-toroid donuts

I've had no lunch except for a donut. That was dumb. And a packet of crisps (salt and vinegar) at 10am, which potentially doesn't count as lunch. The donut was nice. It had strawberry jam in, which I would generally prefer not to be there, but since it was bought for me, it seemed churlish to complain. Especially as I was quite hungry. My favourite ones are the ones with just a hole. They also have a higher surface area (I think) and hence more sugar. Big mouth mess!

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Man Goat Train

Sometimes I worry what people must think of me, or at least why they assume I know certain things. For example, I received the following text message from a friend earlier this evening:

"Hi. What's the name of the man who shagged a goat in front of a train last year? Just need to know. H"

Ridiculous! Why on God's green earth would I know a thing like that? And it's not even very specific. Which train? Which goat? Live man/goat/train liaisons happen all the time, how am I supposed to know which particular incident is being referred to?

In fact, I did actually know exactly what she was on about, as I remember the story well. I couldn't remember the chap's name though, so I was straight to Google. I typed the words "man goat train" into the little box (sans quotes) and the top result was exactly what I was after. As a small aside, "goat train" doesn't work quite as well, and "man goat" is even worse. "man goat train sex" is overdoing it. "goat sex" works fine, but I wouldn't recommend scrolling too far down the search results...

So I sent the answer back to her (Stephen Hall, a chef from Hull) and that was that.

I remember the incident coming up in a pub quiz last year, which was partly why it was still familiar. The question was something like "A man called Stephen Hall was recently jailed for having sex with which animal?". Most of my team were for some reason semi-convinced the answer was "dolphin". But, as I was pretty certain I knew the answer, I overruled and put down "goat". Well done me. I hope this information will prove to be of use to you should you ever face a similar enquiry.

You can read the full story here should you wish to. My favourite line is:

British Transport Police Detective Inspector Dave Crinnion, who investigated, said: "I saw the goat the next day — it did not seem too upset but it is difficult to tell."

Please note that World of Lint in no way condones the use of goats for sexual pleasure, unless it is by other goats. And even then it should only be the goats gaining pleasure, not any people that happen to be watching. Especially people on trains.

A review of a gig what I went to tonight (blah blah blah)

Studio Seven (owned by Shed Seven's drummer! (possibly)) charity CD launch night. Ha! 9 bands in a night? Like I can remember all of them: I don't think so! Maximum of 15 minutes per band, so quite short sets.

Here's the best I can do:

Skatesian: Pronounced like "Cartesian". but with an "s". Can't fault them on the ska thing, and they did a version of Sugababes' "Hole in my head".
Kiwis Ned: Billed as the "strangest band in York". Their singer was a bit strange in that he dressed odd and sang like a yapping dog. Other than that, not too strange,
Benson: Started with a couple of covers. Not sure what of, but the songs were familiar. The others were ok too.
Cardboard Radio: Sorry, I have no recollection of this lot at all.
Framed by fire: They weren't. But I think they did have a mooner.
Motu One: Words cannot describe the brilliance of this band. Not that I know the singer or anything. Lyrically, mainly concerned with rivers, roads, travelling, etc.
Juma: Were you the ones with the really short singer?
Trickledown: I liked this lot. Only three songs, but good.
Delta Volts: Average. But they won the "best song on the CD competition". I haven't had chance to listen to it yet so will reserve judgment.

After some consideration, tonight is far too confusing to add to the AR(SE) table so it won't be added. But if it had been added, it would have scored 2.0, due to the presence of 2 actuaries.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

I'm a believer

Well, after it turns out someone has taken the chads out of the Preparing For Emergencies booklet much more comprehensively (and funnily) than myself, I can only direct you to this: It may make no sense for not-brits, sorry.

Don't Panic!

The UK government has issued a little booklet to everyone in the country entitled "Preparing for emergencies - What you need to know". It tells you what to do in an emergency, and includes what to do if there's a fire, a bomb threat, chemical/biological attack or others. Also includes advice on first aid and helping to prevent a terrorist attack.

Everything in the booklet is very sensible, but it's all so utterly obvious that I wonder who it is aimed at. Anyone with the smallest modicum of common sense would do everything in it automatically.

On Fire Prevention:
- Reduce fire hazards in your home. No campfires in the living room!
- If there is a fire, get out and call 999. As opposed to staying in bed cos it's nice and warm. Warmer than usual...

Basic First Aid:
- It pretty much says that if you know first aid use it, otherwise call an ambulance. No shit. I always prefer to administer random herbs to people. Also pizza normally makes me feel better, so I think that could be used as a solution for most injuries and illnesses. Apart from if you feel sick from having eaten too much pizza, obviously.

On how to spot terrorists:
- Terrorists need a place to live. So that rules out the homeless then.
- Terrorists need money, and may return goods for large cash refunds. Most multinational terrorist organisations are funded by their members returning vacuum cleaners to Argos.
- Terrorists need equipment - look out for people buying suspicious things. Like a bulk order of 20 expensive vacuum cleaners from Argos on a stolen card?

I can see the next series of 24 now: Terrorists are planning to crash The Moon into Los Angeles. CTU have no idea who is responsible so they send Jack Bauer undercover to work for a large electrical goods seller. By the third hour he has only sold 2 televisions and a washing machine, and is no closer to preventing the forthcoming attack. By the fourteenth hour he is dead on his feet, but has sold a further 4 televisions and a couple of vacuum cleaners. 2 hours earlier an old woman returned a video recorder for a £100 refund. Jack arrested her immediately but later had to let her go as the post office was going to close in a few minutes and she had to collect her pension. And etc.

Now maybe I am just too cynical, and I guess there is some good advice in the booklet, and there isn't actually too much to take the piss out of, but it's all just so banal. They could probably have spent the money much more usefully by erecting huge flashing signs in every town saying "Don't Panic!". Still the best advice for an emergency. Apart from possibly "make sure you've charged your phone", which the booklet neglects to mention.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

The great "Can a TV set off a burglar alarm?" debate

I was semi-convinced that I'd left my television on this morning before leaving for work. This made me slightly paranoid that it would somehow set off the burglar alarm - I know that it detects movement, but would it register moving TV pictures as movement in the living room? Can't even remember why I had turned the telly on in the first place. Anyway, I suspect I was worrying about nothing, but in the same way as if I'd left the gas on (I don't even have gas!) I figured I'd better pop home during lunch to be on the safe side. Just as easy to eat sandwiches at home than at my work desk, and it's only a ten minute walk.

When I got back here, the alarm was not ringing. The TV was not on, and neither was the gas that I don't have. So that was ok, except that now I have an unanswered question: Can a TV set off a burglar alarm? I think I'm bordering on the "no", but I have no idea how motion detectors work so can't be sure. It'll keep. A nice experiment for a bored day. Maybe I'll try it on the same day as I use my dishwasher for the first time (it's been nearly a year and a half since I moved here now...).

Whilst I was home at lunch, I thought I may as well spend the time by waiting to see if a parcel arrived for me from Amazon. It didn't, but I think they had only posted it a few hours earlier so this wasn't too surprising.

Monday, August 16, 2004

From my Actuarial mailbox...

Dear Lint01

Hello, you don't currently know me, but please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Jock MacDonald and I am a senior actuary in a large Scottish mutual insurance company. I'm hoping that you will find it in yourself to be able to help me out and at the same time bring some good fortune to yourself. We can all use a bit of luck from time to time.

My company has a large with-profits fund with a free estate worth nearly two billion pounds. This estate can not be said to be owned wholly by our policyholders, and we have no shareholders to give it to. The Board have therefore decided to attempt to pass as much as the estate as we can to charitable organisations, based both here in Scotland and also around the world, such as in your beautiful country, England. We'd like to help sufferers of disease, poor children, cute animals and also children and animals who suffer from disease. I trust you will see that this is truly a worthy thing we are trying to achieve.

In an ideal unregulated world, I would just transfer this money to the charities myself. However, the UK Financial Services Authority will not allow this as I am classed as a connected person. I need someone who is not employed by my company to help. There is a totally legal way for you to help me in this task. All you need to do is invest £5000 in a with-profit bond with us, and then surrender it after six months. We will calculate the surrender value as 100 million British Pounds. This may sound high, but it is completely legal and the only way for us to distribute the money to the worthy charities who can use it so well. All I would then ask you to do is give 99% of this money to the charities, and you may keep the remaining one million British Pounds as a reward for your kindness and generosity.

I would have asked my family and friends to help me in this way, but in the past they have said they'd help and then just kept all the money and given none of it away to the charity. Therefore I am hoping that you, a stranger to me, will prove more trustworthy than my own kin.

If after reading this you can find it in your heart to help me out, please reply to this email at the address jockmacdonald@BigScottishInsurance.com and I will be in touch to send you an application form for the with-profit bond. Then after you send me the meagre £5000, I will put in place the necessary arrangements and in a short while the lives of thousands of people will be improved beyond measure.

I thank you for listening to me, and hope we will be in touch soon to further this matter.

Yours with hope,

Jock MacDonald

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Nuns explode... Again

OK, it's time for one of you out there to own up. A few days ago, someone came to this blog by typing "nuns explode" (inc the quotes) into Yahoo. 3 things:

1. Why are you using Yahoo as your search engine? If you'd typed "nuns explode" into Google, you'd have found two whole other sites apart from mine. One of them might have been what you were looking for. I sincerely doubt you were looking for a poem about an evil zoo.

2. What on Earth were you looking for, and why? What kind of sick f**k searches the internet for exploding nuns? You may have a good reason, I'd love to know what it was. Come on, share!

3. Did you eventually find what you were looking for? Or have you since been sectioned under the Mental Health Act (1983)?

For the record, I in no way condone the exploding of nuns, or indeed of any other members of the Church, or any people or animals at all. It's ok to explode fruit and vegetables though. I remember at university being party to the dropping of a pumpkin down a stairwell from three floors up. That made a mess...

We all need some beer to lean on

On day 3 we arrived in Munchen (sorry, no idea how to put an umlaut in), the city that the English call "Munich", and the crazy Italians call "Monaco di Baviera". Seems like a nice place. In Munich, I ate my first ever pretzel. Or my first ever proper size one at least. I've had the little tiny snacky ones before. As far as I can tell, a pretzel is like bread with some sort of salty glaze on it. Hence it tastes like salty bread, but is actually rather tasty. I don't know if pretzels are a particularly German food or not.

The thing that the Munich residents (who I wish were called Munchkins) particularly like to do is drink beer. And none of your pansy pint glasses here. No sir. Just Big Beer Steins, holding a whole litre of beer at a time. And it's nice beer too. We went to join them in this activity at the Hofbrauhaus, probably the biggest and most well known beer hall in the city (maybe the world?).

Some people are a bit funny, and like to dress up when they go out to drink beer. We found a German couple who had dressed up as Germans for their visit to the drinking. They kindly let us take a photo of them - here they are:

I think they may have told us their names, but my brain has not seen fit to record the information for posterity. This was taken just outside the Hofbrauhaus, but I didn't think to get that in the photo as well. Note that German Man is holding a digital camera which doesn't fit in too well with the rest of his authentic garb, whilst German Woman has a wolly cardigan for some reason. Maybe she was expecting it to get cold later in the evening. I think she would have been fine to have left the cardigan at home, as it was not that cold really, but maybe that would not have been the German way.

Did I mention that the beer is mostly served in litres? Cool. Here's the beer:

That was my beer. You can see in the photo that I have started to drink some of the beer already. Foamy. They also do a quite large menu of Authentic Munchkin Food. Most of which is served with potato salad. I'm not someone that particularly likes potato salad, but the stuff they had there actually tasted pretty good, despite looking revolting.

Also in the beer hall was a German Oompa Band. Sadly this did not turn out to be a band made up of Oompa-Loompas, it was instead made up of (probably) bearded (probably) middle-aged (probably) full-size men. This disappointed me on two counts:
Count 1: I'd have loved to see Oompa-Loompas playing big brass instruments - how would they hold them?!
Count 2: The Oompa-Loompas could live quite naturally in a town populated with Munchkins. They'd fit right in. Whilst on the subject of little people, what's with all the singing they do? The Oompa-Ls have a song for every event, you can't stop the Munchkins from belting out a tune and the Seven Dwarves are world-reknowned for their Hi-Ho nonsense. Someone should write a thesis on "Why groups of little people love to sing". And maybe Busted should be added to the list too.

So anyway, we had some beer. I'll finish with a quote from Chris T-T, from his most excellent song "Drink Beer".

Drink beer, and you'll be alright.
Drink beer, every day and every night.
When the world is giving you a heavy old time,
Drink as much as you can and you'll be fine.

See you down the pub.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

A review of a gig what I went to last night (13)

I made it out last night and despite having a steaming headache and having had a pile of pills, I forced some beer down me. Still had a headache, but at least I slept well.

It was off first to: The Sausage Restaurant, then Fibbers to see Puressence. The support band, Omerta, sounded good, but due to slow sausages we only got the last couple of songs. They were nice sausages so I didn't mind too much.

Puressence themselves were excellent. At times they were reminding me of The Music, in a good way. I won't say too much more, as Chris has managed a much more descriptive review here.

Here's the AR(SE) table - we have a new leader!. Puressence score 4 x 1 actuary + 2 x 1 trainee actuary = 5 AR(SE) points. Sensational!

5.0: Puressence
3.5: Easyworld / Snow Patrol 1 / Graham Coxon / Keane
2.5: Four Day Hombre 1 / Snow Patrol 2
2.0: Delays / Athlete / Dawn of the Replicants
1.5: The Ordinary Boys
1.0: The Open / Jonathan Richman / Four Day Hombre 2 / Simon and Garfunkel

Next gig, the Studio Seven charity CD launch - featuring Motu One, next week.

Friday, August 13, 2004

On being-ill

I think I'm understanding the tired thing now. I'd been thinking that it was due to the long holiday, late nights and early mornings (especially the early mornings) but throughout today I've had a big headache and have been feeling a bit dizzy and rubbish. Hence: I have a touch of the old being-ill. Whether being-ill has caused tired or tired has caused being-ill, it is hard to say. And there is probably no way of knowing. But tomorrow morning at least I can have a long lie in bed (if I want to). A haircut may have to wait another week.

Don't really feel like going out tonight. But I am going to force myself. Pub, then sausage restaurant, then Fibbers to see Puressence, who are really quite good. I'm sure it's a bad idea, but maybe a spot of alcohol will clear my head a bit. I think that may be being-ill logic.

Where do the nights of sleep go when they do not come to me?

You're a kid and you've been out with your parents somewhere for the day. It's been quite tiring, and you fall asleep in the back of the car. When you get home, your parents wake you up a little bit and carry you into the house and to bed, but you don't wake enough so that you're properly awake. When you are put into your bed, you fall right back to sleep until morning. Life is sweet.

If only it was that easy now. Last night I fell asleep on the sofa and woke up around 9ish. Feeling very drowsy. I thought "excellent - if I can just maintain this level of drowsiness between here and the bedroom, I can get into bed and have a decent night's sleep for once". But it was not to be. As soon as I get into bed, sleep is completely elusive.

I'd be better off just sleeping fully clothed on the sofa. I'm sure it'd work better. It seems that our daft society has conditioned us into thinking that the only sensible place to sleep is on/in a bed and that anywhere else is inferior. Sofas, floors, baths, buses, pavements and under the office desk are all fine places to have a sleep, but they are considered substandard by most people. Stop this madness. Please.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

The origins of Ice Wine

Holi-day 2 and the reclaimed-from-the-sea Netherlands are left behind. Time to hit Germany. Land of big beer, leather trousers, mullets, cuckoo clocks and of of course, more beer. And also wine apparently. And what better way to experience this than by heading on down into a darkened cellar for a wine tasting. Here's something of a group photo, though you can't really see those people at the back, due to darkness:

The wines were all white on the night and got progressively sweeter. With me and white wine, the drier the better, so as far as I was concerned, the best came first. But wine is wine is wine, so I was happy to drink it anyway.

Last up is Eiswein - a strange brew made with grapes picked during a cold frost (-10 degrees - must be a really fun time to be out picking grapes!). I really can only imagine what the mad Germans must have been thinking when they made it for the first time in the 18th century:

[SCENE: A wooden shack in Germany. Two manly Germans, Hans and Rolf are sat at a table in wooden chairs. Outside it is very cold.]

Rolf: Hey, Hans - you wanna go outside in this incredibly cold frosty night and pick some grapes?
Hans: Nein, f**k off! That's ridiculous, our manly parts will freeze and snap off like icicles!
Rolf: Oh, come on, it's not that bad. Look - Boris and Rudolf are out there already!
Hans: Boris and Rudolf are a pair of mentally deficient cheesemongers, and built like stone out-houses to boot. They won't feel the cold, and even if they did they are too stupid to realise it's bad for them.
Rolf: Well, sod you then. I'm going anyway, and I expect I'll get lucky and stumble upon a special way to make wine that will make me rich beyond your wildest dreams!
Hans: That's your perogative, but don't expect me to come to your aid when your whole body freezes solid and your manly part snaps off like an icicle.
Rolf: Don't worry about me. Farewell loser!
Hans: Get out of my sight. I look forward to a night of passion here in the shack with Maria the milkmaid.

[Exit Rolf. Hans stays in, but Maria never turns up. She has put on some woolies and gone out to help help Rolf pick frosted grapes. Rolf's manly part does not in fact freeze and snap off like an icicle. They make beautiful Eiswein together, fall in love, marry and live HEA. Hans dies a (unlike the Eiswein) bitter, lonely old man]

I think that's probably how it must've happened. In any case, I didn't like the stuff much. Far too sweet, tasted a bit like mead.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Not so fast...

Ahh! So that's why you're not supposed to wash a white towel in the same wash as some blue jeans...

Why is the world in love again...

The torrential rainforest-style rain of the the last two days seems to have come to an end, for now at least. Apparently it was the tail-end of Hurricane Alex (presumably the first one to have been named this year?). It's now back to bright-ish sunshine. And no doubt another muggy night.

Unsurprisingly, The River Ouse is is doing what it does best: it's up. Some flooding around the place, all the floodgates have been closed, and it looks to still be rising somewhat. Fun for those of us who live on higher ground, not so much fun for people who live by the river (eg bridge-trolls). Also not much good for the pleasure boat operators who find that they cannot get their boats safely under some of the lower bridges anymore. Or maybe they stop because the river is moving faster than normal. Or a combination of the two.

The biggest problem caused by the flooding is that it increases my lunchtime journey to get a sandwich by approximately a minute. I'm not made of time you know!

Respec to you if you understand the title of this post.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

A Gondola Ride in Venice

Holi-day 5 - Venice. I'd heard it'd be smelly and horrid. But it wasn't at all. It was however a very, very strange place. Stranger than The Vatican. A distinct lack of cars or any other vehicles. Even bikes seem to be put off by the canal networks, and the little bridges that are necessary to cross them. Lots of little twisty alleys, little shops, tourists, hot hot sun, boats, kamikaze pigeons, water and Italians (specifically, Venetians).

And in Venice, the one thing any respectable tourist has to do is take a ride on a Gondola. Since I was a respectable tourist here I am:

Things to note from the picture:
- We have plastic cups full of wine. Yep, they let you do carry-ons. A nice bottle of recently purchased Chianti, can you think of a better place to drink it?
- Our gondolier has not yet donned his hat. He will shortly, when we reach the Canal Grande. Not sure if that is local law, custom, or just because it's less sheltered from the heat.
- I no longer own the sunglasses I'm wearing, since I accidentally stood on them at the weekend. I have since bought a new, identical pair.
- I do still own the hat.
- There isn't too much spare leg-room in a gondola.
- Sometimes you pass more expensive gondolas with musicians in as well as riders. They cannot be seen in the photo.

The way the gondoliers pilot the boats through the narrow channels and heavy water-traffic is hugely impressive. They seem to be able to fit through the smallest gaps without hitting things, and are completely unphased if they suddenly come to an intersection and find boats coming at them from all sides. I doubt I could even balance on the bit where they stand! I remember how awful I used to be at punting...

After the ride, on for dinner, then back to the mainland to take the coach to the hotel. A coach full of slightly drunk people singing "Bohemian Rhapsody" can be very entertaining.

Ice is nice

I think I must have a new postman, or possibly a temporary postman whilst the usual one is on holiday. For the second day running, my post has arrived before 8am. I haven't been out to check it yet though.

Yesterday's post brought a present from Sainsburys - a voucher to buy 500ml of nice ice cream. Or at least ice cream that would be nice if I liked ice cream, which I don't. I chose an orange and lemony one that looked like the sort I might like if I liked it. Which I don't. Shame the offer didn't include any sorbet.

I don't know how long ice cream keeps for. It'll either be used by someone else, or ultimately thrown away. In related news, I've run out of ice bags.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Vatican City

Day seven and after a first night in Rome, we were up early and off to visit The Vatican. Here I am in St Peter's Square, with St Peter's Basilica (possibly the largest church in the world) in the background:

Look really carefully and you might be able to see Pope JP in one of the windows. Maybe.

The photo was taken at around half eight in the morning, and hence there weren't many people around. The square is huge and a beautiful place. And it has nice fountains to drink out of, very handy in the Rome heat, noticeable even at that ridiculously early time. I did have my hat that day, I must have left it with whoever took the photo (which fairly obviously was not me!).

The Vatican is a pretty strange place really. Here are 10 Vatican Facts:

1. It has a bar where you can drink actual beer.
2. It is the world's smallest sovereign state, and is 37% smaller than Wales.
3. Mussolini gave full sovereignty to Pope Pius XI in 1929, and later survived that Pope by six years.
4. It never rains in Vatican City. Initially this was due to a deal made in 1890 between Pope Leo XIII and "Him Upstairs". A huge dome was later built over the state, just to be on the safe side. It fully retracts in good weather.
5. Vatican City reputedly has the best postal service in the world.
6. Unlike Switzerland and Canada, The Vatican has joined the Euro.
7. Both the Vatican Museum and St Peter's Basilica have airport style metal detectors at entry. However, the museum one is set to a higher level and will detect my belt buckle. My buckle is not thought to be a problem in the Basilica.
9. Unlike Switzerland and Canada, The Vatican has no Mountains.
10. The Pope may let you kiss his ring, but you have to find him first. Like a game of kiss-chase, but holier.

So an interesting place and well worth a visit, if only to witness the men paid to go "shhhhhhh" in the Sistine Chapel.

No nice sleep...

Well, so much for getting a good night's sleep. It was way too hot and humid - ugh. Now outside it's just looking like it's going to rain, maybe storm. But it's still warm. Tonight I really need to finally visit the supermarket. Hopefully I'll be able to get out of work at a reasonable time to do it.

And ah, work, how I've missed you. Not. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy it, but it's so much nicer to not have to go!

Sunday, August 08, 2004

When in Rome...

When we reached Rome it was really exciting to see these posters stuck up everywhere:

The legendary duo, Simon & Garfunkel, where playing a free concert outside the Colluseum, the following evening (when we were still in Rome!) - totally fabulous timing! I hadn't actually realised that the two of them had sorted out whatever differences they've had for the past thirty years, let alone that they had embarked on a world tour (of which this was the final date).

The stage was at the far end of Via Del Fori Imperiali, directly in front of the Colluseum. It was a full moon, and they came on just as the moon started to show above the ancient stadium. Cool! 600,000 people were there going right back up the road and into side streets. Must be the biggest crowd I've ever been in. We did actually leave a little early (and it wasn't easy to do!) as we were worried that getting a taxi or onto the Metro would be hard with a crowd that size (apparently it wasn't - some others stayed to the very end and got home fine).

We couldn't really see the band themselves, but we did have a good view of the video screens. They sounded great. They did most of the songs you'd want them to (loved "Hazy Shade of Winter"), they had The Everley Brothers come on part way through for a few songs, and everyone was having a totally fantastic time.

I would be surprised if I was the only actuary there, but since I can prove nothing, S&G will have to join the base of the AR(SE) table. I'll update it later in the week after Wednesday's gig.

On the subject of Rome, I was disappointed by the meals we had. Maybe it would have been an idea to actually take the guidebook I'd borrowed and use it to direct us to some of the better, less tourist orientated restuarants. I'm sure there must be at least one good place to eat in a city of that size!

Nasty waspy creatures

For the first time that I can ever remember, I got stung by a bee/wasp this afternoon. It stings! I've been stung by nettles and other plants before, but never by a black and yellow style buzz beast. At first it looked like it was going to swell up a bit, but now it's looking ok, and I've put some anti-histimine cream on it. Always a bit dodgy the first time you have something like that happen to you, since you don't know if maybe you have a serious allergy that has just never manifested before. It looks like I don't (a good thing) and I haven't gone into anti-syphillitic shock or anything.

Not sure exactly how I managed to do it - I leant my arm onto a railing and felt a big ow - looking down it seemed the bee/wasp had flown in under my arm as I leaned down and had taken exception to me resting on it (fair enough really). And then it was just kind of wobbling on my arm and wouldn't fly off, possibly as its stinger was still stuck in me.

It's very hot today. Still got loads of things to do.

Assize of a cask

What I could really use is a rest right now. What I get instead is a Saturday afternoon pub crawl.

Every year, the Mayor and the Sheriff of York go round the city to assize the ale that is being sold in the local hostelries ie check that it is drinkable, nice, wet and sociable. And they do this dressed in medieval fancy dress. Knights, Jesters, Wenches, Outlaws etc. And collect money for charity at the same time.

I just kind of tagged along in non-fancy dress, but did end up with a collection box anyway. I have a vague feeling that collecting money without a valid badge/sticker/license is illegal, but what can ya do. I was getting quite good at it by the end. Especial good ones were the wedding party (just trying to have a wedding) and the girl who had just left her flat and was locking the door, then turned round to find me and a tin.

I think the overall verdict on the ale was that it was excellent. And what I could really use is a rest right now. What I get instead is a Sunday walk. I have no idea where (or even why) but I'm being picked up in 20 minutes. I have loads of things I need to do: people to email (I'll do it soon, promise!), groceries to buy, sleep to have etc etc etc. As the man JBJ said, I'll sleep when I'm dead.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Photos and Songs

I've just been looking through my holiday photos - I've got 270, which pretty much filled my memory sticks (one of which accidentally spent several minutes on a Paris sidewalk, luckily I found it and recovered it). There are some pretty fun photos in there, so I'll try and post a few online later. I'm also thinking that it might be a good idea to go through and annotate them, so I'll be able to remember the names of people, places and things in the future.

Every morning when we got on the coach, we had a song that was played on the coach stereo - our "Theme song". Ours was a cover version of John Denver's "Leaving on a Jet Plane" by Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. Great track. I didn't already have it, so yesterday afternoon I popped down to HMV and bought the album with it on. It'll bring back excellent memories whenever I play it.

Someone said to me yesterday that I looked happier than I had looked for quite a while. And that's probably because I am.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Back to reality

Whooaaahh! I'm back y'all. Holiday over :-( Would have loved it to go on for another few weeks, but I find myself here, back in reality. It was so horrible having to say goodbye to everybody yesterday, it feels like everyone I know is gone (which is stupid).

I had intended to write up my paper journal here online, but I'm now having second thoughts. Instead I may just post highlights over the weekend. We'll see.

In any case, I need to do some stuff, so will leave things here for now. Just wanted to say "hi".