mount batten

so something i find slightly embarrassing happened on sunday at band practice. it was the first full band rehearsal with new bass player alex, meaning i'll have to update the fambly tree. we're aiming for half new songs at our first gig under a different name, and are still open to suggestions, with 'doppler gang' currently leading the pack. so i suggested 'amon göth', because his name sounds metal and tolkienian, like, you know, amon amarth, or amon tobin.

then some smart alec piped up that amon tobin is actually his real name. no, i said, he's named after a mountain in lord of the rings, 'cause it sounds cool. like amon amarth, you know, mount doom.

i checked with the wiki; amon tobin is his birth name. i'm living in a fantasy land, and worse, i think everyone else is too.


half man half biscuit videos are generally home-made and piss-poor, mainly consisting of pictures of whatever reference nigel is making, which makes this entirely proffessional effort even more welcome. it's a proper video, but based entirely around the actual song. and it doesn't even appear to be sanctioned by the band. being baffling, and based around such a dowdy pun, just makes it more brilliant.


my wonderful half term pt 1 - londonness

so when my contract finished the monday before half term, i was left adrift somewhat; i wasn't going to beable to find any work in the four-day gap before the half term, and the holiday i'd booked. four days off work isn't normally an issue, but i didn't have any reserves other than what i'd put aside for the holiday, and there was no way i was tampering with that. half term was one of the fullest weeks i've ever had.

so friday finally rolled round, which meant i could stop worrying about it. i'd found time to program some drum patterns for my 'mwng' cover album. i do intend to do it, but back then i had a more industrial mindset towards it, and now i want to take more time over it. record it a song at a time, rather than all the drums, then all the acoustic guitars, &c; i'd burn through it if i did it like back, but carelessly, and i've decided that's not how i want it to be. also coming forth are (still!) my prince charmander remics and my december's burning remics, stripped back to the cello part and rebuilt from there.

saturday was ruth's birthday party; thalia and rachel took her to see the belly dance superstars, while ian and i prepared a fantastic meal for everyone. i made a starter of ovened patatas bravas (which rocked - the bbc normal one appears to be better than the bbcgoodfood one, a trend i'm noticing) and ian made a rissotto for mains. of course, had i remembered about the rice crisis, i'd have told him off. but i only remembered last night, reading the spice business curry industry mag. so that was all going well, we had rachel and i, ian and thalia, and ruth, and then seb arrived later with young scarlett. scarlett of course immediately went round collecting all our cuddly toys, which set ruth's chest off from the dust (many were in forgotten areas such as down the side of the bed.. not that we neglect our cuddle chums, or 'the kids'as we call them).

the next day, we went over to camden's fashionable primrose hill for a massive greek feed with: rachel and i, big bro dan and maria, dimitri, karen, and iona, and an old friend of dim's and her daughter. it was phewsome, and i barely communicated with theother half of the table (karen et al) at all. afterwards, dim, dan, maria, rachel, and i piled back to dan's and had a quiet evening in.

that was sunday; monday was rachel's mum pam's turn for birthdayness, we decorated the flat with balloons, banners, and party hats on all the inanimate creatures, and cooked her a brunch. rachel got her a wonderful towelling dressing gown amongst other pretty things. then we went out to the tate britain to see the francis bacon exhibition. oh, it was so totally inspirational. so metal. well, i suppose more precisely, hardcore. his early stuff looks how pig destroyer sounds. it made me want to thrash the fuck out of everything... and the black and white photo of his studio in the program, now cut out and stuck up on my wall in front of me... if my studio can't look like that, at least i can be reminded how a true artist works. bacon's early works cry out with angry athiest nihilism; i'd forgotten that used to be my view. it's not a view you can convert any god-botherers with; you end up trying to portray athiesm as a positive, liberating, experience, which it can be. but we mustn't forget that we are, to quote charlie brooker, 'cadavers in waiting', which bacon continually, brilliantly, reminds us. i fucking loved it. and it was nice to see him mellow, doing surreallistic portraits of his friends and lovers, even if it wasn't as harrowing and meaningful as his earlier work; it was nice that once he'd done alienation, and murder, and hate for religion, he got on with his life and painted really good pictures of people. i'm especially glad we went to that, because the alternative was rothko; great, loads of pictures of nothing. as if modern art galleries didn't resemble wallpaper showrooms enough, we have to have a rothko exhibition. i was reading a page on the tate website about different interpretations of rothko's work, it came very close to admitting straight up that you can say anything about it because it's totally vague. i don't know whether it's worse to call a picture of nothing 'untitled' or something descriptive (eg 'maroon on red' or mural for end wall') or a post-modern psuedo-wanky name like 'liturgy for aggamemnon'. i really don't, we could have a chat about this sometime. anyway, i digress; one paragraph of the page dealt with his paintings as nihilist tracts, which i suppose did resonate in me. when i see one of his paintings up large, it can be very imposing and impressive; seeing several annoys me.

but i had to dash off early, because i had an interview with a teaching assistant agency. this is a story for another post, but suffice to say, nothing has come of it.
i hooked back up with the mother and daughter twosome in angel islington, where we went for dinner at gallipoli. it was a fantasmic feed. we all ordered the set vege meal, but there was some mistake in the kitchen as we were delivered a full mixed meze to start with, rather than the reduced set meal portions. so after clearing away our 'starters' - which we'd finished - we were asked if we would like desert, to which we replied, 'er, we've got another course coming yet', and some stifled laughter from some of the other waiters. well, we got our main course, which we couldn't finish, and then our set pudding, which was a very disappointing milk thing we could only take a few bites of. then we waddled to the bus stop, which i was an experimental trip to a bus stop i've never been to before, in order to find the bus that takes us all the way to our door. it was a bit of a wait (in which rachel managed to loose two seperate oyster cards, by putting them in her inside pocket, then forgetting she had one, despite me repeatedly asking if she was sure she didn't have any inside pockets. not that i haven't been guilty of a very similar mistake myself, with the double pocket of my nurse shirt totally outwitting me), but the bus went down all the cutesy backstreets between london fields and angel, including going past the wenlock arms, a very good pub we can now call our local. we turned in.


ben goldacre on cholera

ever wanted to know how cholera works?

In fact, the story that science can tell about cholera is well characterised and fiendishly fascinating. If you swallow some cholera bacteria, they shut down to pass through your murderously acidic stomach, and then, when they detect (from the changed chemical environment) that they are in your small intestine, they start producing curly whip-like tails. These rotate to propel the bacteria through the pasty mucus that lines your small intestine, and up against the intestinal wall, where they can thrive.

Once here, they again respond to their changed chemical surroundings, and stop producing the tails, and instead, start producing cholera toxin. This toxin pulls chloride ions across the bowel wall, and so water is drawn across with them, by osmosis, from your blood supply and into the passageway of your small intestine.

This happens on a massive scale: your small intestine is suddenly full of water, which flies out of your arse at a phenomenal rate, carrying the multiplying and thriving new generations of Vibrio cholerae bacteria out into the drinking water and so on to the next host, chillingly, perhaps your brother, perhaps your girlfriend – unless proper sanitation measures are in place.

Meanwhile, as this water flies out of you, dehydration rapidly begins to set in, and the only thing you can do to save your life is make sure you consume – almost continuously – the right mixture of dilute salt water and sugar, to replace the blood’s water and salts lost in the diarrhoea.

And fascinatingly, the single most successful evidence-based medical treatment in the history of humankind is something you’ve probably never heard of: the WHO rehydration recipe, used to treat people with diarrhoea, which has saved 3 million lives a year for the past two decades. In fact, diarrhoea kills more young children around the world than malaria, AIDS and TB combined.

from his post ostensibly about teaching hocum in universities.



so here's everything that happened between me finishing at kids' city and the start of half term:

week 1: kids' city. at the end of the week the band played a gig at the white hart, at which we were the only band, following two non-descript acoustic acts. we played all the songs we new and had a great old time. seated gigs rule. the next day i went off to mole end cottage with rachel and her mum; they were going for the week to work on their book, and invited me to come for the first weekend.

mole end was in some remote surrey micro-village, a lovely furnished rustic terraced cottage owned by the next door neighbours, with a shared garden with a river at the bottom, two gay swans, and the possibility of an otter swimming by at dusk. we never saw the otter, although sitting outside listening for the distinctive splish-splashing sounds was marvellous. we went to sutton hoo, which i had become all excited about - i had been reading the ilustrated version of heaney's beowulf, and some of the treasures used as illustrations had come from there. it was too hot to do much but still good for a wander, despite the burial mounds being pretty anticlimatical. mysterious yes, but not as much on a boiling hot day with loads of people wandering around. all the stuff was on display inside the visitor's centre, most of which is replicas of stuff that's now at the british museum - so as a site, it's not very thrilling. but a very nice corner of the wold.

week 2: i came back to london on monday, to spend the week without rachel or employment. she was due back on saturday and james - who was living with us at the time - and i were to keep the house in order until then. or at least, get it in order for then. the week passed quickly with nothing coming in from my agency, and me not doing much here. that was until thursday night, when we had ian and thalia for dinner. you can read all about that night here. however, what i never filled you in with was the repercussions.

i felt very ill the next day and spent it largely in bed, being sick a couple of times. ian came round later that evening to use our internet and we watched the blues brothers film. saturday, i was feebly trying to get the flat in order in preparation for rachel's return, with a little of james' help, before he dashed off to brighton pride at 9 in the morning. i felt... strange. i was still ill. the hangover had mutated into an odd kind of indigestion that nothing could clear. i did the best i could - not very good - then left the flat in still-a-bit-of-a-state to go to rugby and see laurence and his parents. i shouldn't have done, but circumstancers being what they are it was my onlychance to see laurence those 6 months. i came back on sunday, having digested as much as i could, to an understandably stressed rachel - what had i been doing all week, &c - in no fit state to comfort her.

week 3 - i rang up the agency in the morning and was offered work in a post room. i regretfully took up the offer, pottered around a bit, still constitutionally amended, and got there for about 11.30. there was talk that the post was ongoing, rather than the week i had been told; i didn't exactly jump at the chance to stay on there, saying how i would be looking for other things. it involved a lot of lifting, being not in the post room exactly, but rather the loading bay for parcels - which i also expressed reservations about, having had back problems in the past. in quiet moments (there were alot with exactly nothing to do) i would read. the next day i felt really too sick to go back, and rang up to let them know, to find that they 'would no longer be requiring my services', ostensibly due to my appearance, which was smart office dress as i had been told. this was upsetting to both rachel and i, who felt i had squandered the opportunity, which i had needed to make things work for both of us, through fecklessness. ah well.

that weekend we went to rachel's colleague alison's wedding at hackney town hall, which was fun in quite a ridiculous way. walking down the aisle to the theme from the sweeney - no sorry, it was minder; they giggled through the wedding vows; the reading was the lyrics to 'especially for you'; the speeches were everybody slagging off everyone else, inaudible over the chattering bridesmaids. it was like the whole thing was a big joke. but the dinner was good and the disco was fun. it was all just very silly.

week 4: london fields moved to the brecon beacons for the green man festival. it was very wet and muddy. there are photos on my flickr page. oh god i had a whole list of reccomendations. the following were at least good, based on names i recognise off the play bill:
radio luxembourg
cats in paris (their album is the best i've bought in... two years?)
wild beasts
bower birds

on the other hand - sennen - you were shit. you were a dismally boring band. indie pretending to be post rock. wierd that bands like that filter through. how does it happen?

not long after that, i found some work - for mailsource again, but at a different bank. that's the great thing about these big companies, you can get sacked from one branch and find work at another and it's totally anonymous. i bought a job lot of blue work shirts and finally understood what 'blue collar' means. i worked there for two months then was replaced by a permanent guy who can drive. no big whoop, but the problem was i was let go the week before i'd booked a week's holiday, circumstance that left me totally dry of cash for weeks about... now.

coming next:my half term hols by me xxx

the most embarresing phone call i've ever had to make

monday morning after half term. i've got a full to-do list to work my way through, but at the top of it is 'ring agencies'. after all, there's no point doing any of the other things if i could actually be working instead. so i call reed, and lo and behold, one of their temps just happened to be ill and oh boy, there's a front of house greeting role in the city waiting to be filled asap. smart dress &c - i take it and run to the bathroom to have a shave. as i'm laying out my clothes, i find my 'smart' shoes - a pair of doc martens boots - and remember that the left shoe has split away from the sole in a huge, unmistakable, gape. if this were the shoe people, it would yabber away and that'd be fine, but i weigh up my options and realise there is no way i can make this job in these shoes. so i ring the agency back and say, hi, yeah, uh, i can't do that job after all, because i'm a slovenly ape. i retire back to the to-do list with my pen between my legs, and write at the top: 'job for the day: NEW SHOES'

job number two: beg parents for money for new shoes.