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9th September 2011

8:02pm: WARNING!
This is a public service announcement.

Anyone of a sensitive disposition should be made aware that I shall be hollering da blues (an ting) in Brixton Market (Station Road) tomorrow afternoon from 1pm. Ear plugs may be available from several of the shops in the area, but I cannot guarantee they will protect the mental health and aesthetic values of anyone unfortunate enough to be in the vicinity.
Current Mood: recumbent

17th November 2007

9:07pm: Autumnwatch
Sorry, gentle readers, for the long gap between entries. I've not really had a lot to say partly due to getting involved in the local Estate Management Board, and partly due to a nasty bout of gastro enteritis.

I can't really write about the former except to note that there are five candidates for four positions on the board, and thus I doubt that my strategy of voting for the other four candidates will lead to me succeeding in not being elected.

As for the illness, it involved my first full scale ambulance journey for many years. I was impressed. I'd barely had time to pack a "hospital bag" after calling 999 before the ambulance arrived. This was at 8am on a Saturday morning. Not only were the ambulance crew tremendously efficient and reassuring, they also managed to have an ECG done before I reached the hospital, as well as a load of other tests. In A&E I managed to fill four of their papier mache "sick buckets". These are the size, and approximate shape, of a bowler hat. Then after an X-Ray and a range of blood tests the doctor gave me something called Buscopan which rapidly solved the worst of the stomach cramps. After which I was able to apologise to the nurse for being less pleasant to deal with than I would like, and head back home by bus.

I'm now pretty much better, but still a tad fragile.

The other medical development is that I'm now waiting for an appointment for an ultrasound guided steroid injection into my hand to "fix" the tendon.

1st October 2007

5:59pm: Meme Alert
That book meme. The list is the 106 books most often noted as unread by Library Thing users. Bold is for books I've read. Italics for books I've started but haven't finished (usually because of reading it whilst staying with friends and not having the heart to steal it). Strikethrough would be for books I found unreadable, but there aren't any on the list.

listCollapse )

Gives me some ideas of books I REALLY need to get a copy of.
Current Mood: cheerful

26th September 2007

1:08am: Blood is blood
Managed a 6.1 on my blood glucose reading this afternoon. That's getting back to where it needs to be. Could use losing a few kilos though. I can't seem to get back below 80kg, when I should really be around 75kg.

Also watched Rebus-Mortal Causes on telly. Very disappointing. The book is superb. Unfortunately the TV version isn't. I can forgive them giving DI Clarke completely the wrong accent, it might have seemed odd with one English accent in an otherwise almost entirely Scottish cast, so it would make some sense as her character is played down somewhat. However the point of the character to a large extent is that being English she's an outsider just like Rebus himself. So a lot is lost.

The acting is excellent, the trouble is it all hinges around a miscast actor, and it ends up taking a unique and rich set of crime novels and turning it all into just another cop show. A shame.

The motto of the Kings of Scotland was a part of the plot. Nemo me impune lacessit. I suspect it would make sense as the answer to Gordon Brown's quest for a national motto. In a sense it already applies to the monarchy. And each part of the country could translate it into a local variation. The obvious one for London being "come and have a go if you think you're hard enough".
Current Mood: disappointed

21st September 2007

6:59pm: Endangered Species
To whit the garden snail. Specifically Bob.

As I went to put a ciggie stub in the garden ashtray last night I felt something under my foot. After a brief perusal I came to the conclusion that the small brown object in the shadows was probably (or until recently had been) Bob the snail. Somewhat saddened by Bob's possible demise I hastened to fetch a torch.

Fortunately when I returned there was no deceased gastropod in view. In fact no form of gastropod at all, not anything else small and brown.

So there we are. Snails can survive being stepped on. Though it probably requires that they be stepped on only by somebody with bare feet.

It's also time to remove the nettles from The Wilderness. So whether or not the Red Admiral that was fluttering by them earlier in the year managed to set up a successful brood of caterpillars they should be gone by the end of the weekend spoons permitting.

The nettles have to go so that I can get the knotweed cut down before applying weedkiller. That will be next weeks job.

18th September 2007

12:46am: Vampire Day
Fasting blood tests tomorrow morning. Which means an hour or so on the bus followed by a reasonably long walk, then sitting around for an hour or two in the waiting room, before I can eat or drink ANYTHING but water.

I hate Vampire Day.
Current Mood: hungry

16th September 2007

10:37pm: A very very nice beer
I have two and a half pints of Tanglefoot. Imminently I fully expect to have none at all.

As a consequence I have decided to call on all militant fundamentalist Zen fanatics to join me tomorrow in a Day of Inaction to protest about nothing at all. What do we want? Nothing. When do we want it? Now!
Current Mood: drunk

7th September 2007

11:26pm: Myekeleni by Brenda Fassie
Released in 2002 shortly before her untimely death, this is not just the best Brenda Fassie album I have so far managed to get my hands on, it is my favourite album full stop. She's been dubbed the African Madonna, which is a somewhat unfair label. Brenda Fassie has a far wider range of styles available to her. However it does give an indication that what we are listening to is music intended to dance to, and a singer who has attitude. However in this case the attitude is backed up by fabulous music.

Track by track.Collapse )

The album as a whole shows the best fae of contemporary African pop. It's aware of the rest of the world, but determinedly local. It couldn't be from anywhere but Johannesburg and yet it has clearly been influenced by new music in the USA and the UK. It's a perfect example of how to adopt new ideas without losing ones roots. A really great album that just about everyone in the entire world should own a copy of. I'd put a link to places to buy it, but it's currently out of stock at Sterns and Artists Direct. Amazon have some secondhand copies though.

Did I mention that I like it?
Current Mood: calm

21st August 2007

5:02pm: expletive deleted Crapita again
So I sent off all the forms for housing and council tax benefit and heard nothing. Then I got a summons for non payment of council tax. So I phoned Capita and they said "no problem just come in and fill in a new set of forms and it will all be sorted". Which I did. The chap behind the desk tod me they would contact me about backdating but that the claim would be processed right away and there wouldn't be any court case. I then got a letter to say benefit would be paid.

Then I got a letter about rent arrears from the housing office and discovered that they haven't actually been paying the housing benefit at all. Now I've got a letter from Equita ("a member of the Capita Group") saying that having abtained a liability order for non payment of council tax they will shortly be arranging for a bailiff to visit.

Now it seems to me that having told the defendant that there won't be a court case and then going ahead with it, is at the very least bordering on contempt of court. So all of this goes to my solicitor tomorrow.

What really bugs me is that it's all happening at the expense of the council tax payers of Lambeth and all leads to more profit for Capita.
Current Mood: livid

17th August 2007

3:52pm: Seeing Stars
I counted seven visible from the back garden last night. I can't recall ever being able to see more than three or four previously during the three decades I've been living in London. Assuming there haven't been several new supernovas that I haven't heard about then it has to be serious progress. Sometimes things really do get better.

Spent quite a bit of time in the garden yesterday evening snail wrangling. Elvis, the largest of the snails, had decided that the corner of the door frame would make an excellent place to shelter from the wind. After being removed several times he finally got the message when I let him almost reach the corner and then slightly opened and shut the door a few times. I'm not certain that a snail is capable of realising that the door would have crushed him somewhat fatally had he settled in to the corner. It's more likely he just got irritated by this large metal thing bumping up against his "horns", and decided to be somewhere it wasn't.
Current Mood: tired

13th August 2007

10:57pm: Destroy Capita Business Services...NOW!
Finished the course of Diclofenac on Saturday. My hand now hurts like hell except for when I have ice on it. Back to the doctor tomorrow.

Talked on the phone with my housing officer this afternoon. Although Capita have sent me a letter claiming they have started paying my housing and council tax benefit, none has yet actually been paid to Lambeth. It also looks like the amount they say they will be paying is short by a fiver or so a week. So that's another day to be spent sitting around in their offices.

I'm now beyond angry. I'm at the stage where I'm looking to actually do something. So the next stage is try to find out what contracts Capita have with Lambeth and Southwark Crown Court. Then try to do the figures on how much it costs Equita to send a form letter a month and how much they are charging for it. Even with the best gloss possible put on it, what the Capita Group are doing involves them having no incentive to actually do what they are paid for. At worst they are engaged in corruptly draining the public purse with the connivance of the courts. It ought to be worth at least a question in Parliament if I can find an MP about to retire. Maybe even a political journalist working somewhere that actually still does investigative journalism, if there is such an organ these days.

In a way I'm not angry at Capita. It's their job to rip off every penny they can. That's what private enterprise is all about. I'm angry that they can put things through a court "on the nod" without the plaintiff being able to intervene to defend themselves. I'm angry that a public body is dumb enough to sign a contract with them that allows them to use their own subsidiary as bailiffs so that they make an indirect profit by failing to fulfil their contract to administrate benefit payments. I'm particularly angry that nobody seems to care. Yat I have to jump through hoops to get IB because the whole damn country is up in arms about "benefit cheats". Of course benefit cheats don't make large donations to political parties I suppose.

Added two songs to the repertoire today. Nirvana's Come As You Are, and I Fought The Law the old Sonny Curtis standard.
Current Mood: irate

9th August 2007

11:20pm: Practice and String Theory
Snapped a "D" string yesterday. Doing GP's Watch The Moon Come Down which has accounted for several dead strings in the past and no doubt will do for more in the future. So I spent a few hours worrying about how I'd find time to fit a trip up to Roka's around my Diabetes Clinic appointment.

It took until I woke up this morning to remember that, at least in theory, I should have a spare set of unused strings. Which indeed I have. I like it when a plan comes together.

Martin medium gauge though. Must make an effort to see if there's any way of getting hold of heavy gauge strings.

3rd August 2007

11:55pm: Of Mice and Music
PC is somewhat dodgy at present. The mouse is erratic and the only thing that has changed according to the system info is the soundcard. I suspect it's simply something come loose as it seems to affect two things on physically adjacent ports. I haven't been up to taking the case apart today, and tomorrow is Brixton Splash, so I may well not be able to fix it until Sunday.

Brixton Splash will be amusing. I'm expecting a wide range of excellent music and a level of organisation that would make a self help Alzheimers group look thingy...you know, all that bureu beauro paperworky nonsense getting done properly like. As has become traditional they have advertised Alabama 3 on the main stage, as has become equally traditional they have neglected to ask the band about it and they are booked to play elsewhere. The website has a graphic announcing that the web site will be launched soon. That's with 12 hours to go.

On the subject of music. I've added three songs to the repertoire. Boys Don't Cry by The Cure, Whole Wide World by Wreckless Eric Goulden, and at long last Peter Gabriel's Biko. All three being songs I've been intending to learn for over a quarter of a century.
Current Mood: cynical

1st August 2007

6:59pm: A bridge too far
In my wilderness this afternoon was a spider traversing the gap between the laurels and the bins using a single span of silk. The just shy of two metre gap. A spider no more than four millimetres long.

I was impressed.
10:39am: Why?
Don't children have volume controls?

29th July 2007

4:10pm: Bikes and drugs and let it roll
As they do the final circuits before the finish in the Champs-Élysées a few musings on road cycling.

An interesting bit of theory on the Eurosport commentary earlier today. The idea being that the arrival of Soler as a major rider shows that doping controls are beginning to make a difference. Some years back the Colombians produced a regular string of top riders, all great climbers. Then the Colombians largely disappeared off the radar until Soler taking the polka dots this year. The reason being the big power riders could keep up with the natural climbers through blood doping. Now they can't get away with it and the Colombians are back. I rather like the idea.

On the whole I'm pretty positive about the future of road racing. I remember a couple of decades ago when we attempted to root out the various entrenched corrupt practices amongst Lambeth Council staff. The press reaction was to blame the then administration for the corruption. A reaction latched on to by opposing political parties as well as the National Labour Party. Because people by and large don't actually understand the idea of past, present and future. They get the idea of "now" and have a vague idea that there is a subset of "now" that can be classified as "then". Most people simply don't connect the two and attach them to a concept of "future". So anything is inevitably the fault of the person who discovers it now, because there wasn't really anything before now. Dealing with any form of corruption is solely a matter of a person did a bad thing and must be punished, because there is no future so the fact that the bad thing is no longer happening is irrelevant.

So in order to progress you have to go through a spell of being pilloried. There is no alternative. That's how it will play in the media and there's nothing anyone can do about it. The important thing is to understand that the process is going to be painful. It's essential to stick with the administration that are finding the corruption. In the case of Lambeth the people who exposed the corruption were largely driven out of active politics simply because there were too many people with a vested interest in not having the boat rocked regardless of the long term consequences (ie the Blairites took over the Labour Party and presentation became more important than fact). The end result being a decade and a half in which huge sums of public money were siphoned off. I just hope that the ASO and UCI can get to grips with the idea that they have a choice between bad publicity now or a slow death of competitive cycling over the next decade.
Current Mood: pensive

26th July 2007

9:41pm: I Don't Like Thursdays
Diabetes Clinic this afternoon. I'm getting back under control but we're upping the glicazide, so I'm now on 12 tablets a day between the various meds for this and that. Unfortunately that also probably means more weight gain as a side effect, at least initially. It's all two steps forward and three steps back. Then in a few years the diabetes will get worse and I'll have to go through the whole thing again.

Spent the early afternoon watching teenage girls running around in skimpy clothes on TV (UEFA Under 19 Women's Championship). Having watched an exciting game between France and Germany and having had the England Norway semi final trailed several times they didn't bloody show it. Bad Eurosport, no bikkies.

In my wilderness I have Red Admiral caterpillars on the nettles, I have ants under the patio, I have earthworms and snails anywhere that's even vaguely damp...why don't I have any pandas in the bamboo? I feel cheated.
Current Mood: grumpy

22nd July 2007

9:14pm: Little Angells
One of the reasons I like it here in Angell Town is the local kids. Like all kids they can be a bit of a pain in the proverbials, but that's the same the world over, and I see it as part of their job description. However this lot seem, by and large, to be aware that they are annoying and are generally apologetic about it.

This afternoon one of the kids from the upstairs flat next door threw a water bomb into my garden. No damage, near enough no inconvenience. However, next time I was out in the garden they came out on the balcony and owned up and apoloigised.

This seems to be pretty typical.
Current Mood: wistful

20th July 2007

4:12pm: Wilderness Wibble
I'll start with the snails. Jimi (with the psychedelic shell) has now spent 48 hours hiding behind the brambles part way up the garden wall. Elvis (the biggest snail) is hiding under a few weeds behind the shed. All the others (Bob, Buddy, Kurt, Tupac, Sid and Jim) are nestling close together between the shed and Bin Nevis, except for Marc who has left the building. I would guess that this is due to having not hidden far enough into the gap between the shed and the bins, and then having been fatally pigeoned.

Largely the wilderness has survived the rain today. We had buckets, at least judging by the sound. Also quite a lot of water. Since none of it actually got into the flat, and since I haven't had to go out in it, all in all it's just been a source of entertainment watching people driving round the corner and suddenly discovering the road was a foot deep in water.

Other than that today has solely featured a rather impressive Tour de France stage win for Tom Boonen, which was fun, and very little else.
Current Mood: indifferent
12:10am: Going Live
Yes, well. I've not really got anything to say yet. This journal may feature snails. It may well eventually contain the occasional rant. It might contain quips, anecdotes and witticisms. However none of that is going to happen until after I've had a good night's sleep.
Current Mood: tired
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