1000 Shades of Grey
Thursday, January 27, 2005
Liberation through Work
In 1999 I went to Auschwitz as part of a trip round Europe.
Following a terrifying journey by minibus, driven by a crazed Pole intent on breaking the land speed record who failed to understand the concept of slowing down when approaching a corner, we arrived at the place with one of the most evocative names in the world.
Few people can fail to have heard of Auschwitz: the legacy of an attempt by the Nazi Party to exterminate an entire race of people from our planet.
What struck me most on that clear August day was the sheer scale of the operation.
The vastness of the site , with its rows and rows of accommodation huts, and the mountains of shoes, glasses and human hair which remain as a lasting monument to those who perished in the gas chambers of Southern Poland just over sixty years ago.
It must never be allowed to happen again (although given reports from places like Rwanda and Bosnia I'm not certain that it already has been going on), and in order for that to happen everyone needs to appreciate the horror, on the largest of scales, that occurred at camps such as Auschwitz.
It certainly isn't the most cheerful museum I've ever visited, but it is certainly the one whose impact will live with me the longest. Only by remembering the past, will we ever be prevented form repeating it in the future.
“It better not be the B359”
I shout, in an effort to perfectly recreate the opening scene to Four Weddings and a Funeral.
Waking up one hour after the alarm should have gone off (or possibly did, and I just turned it off in my sleep) we dash to the bathroom, and in a moment of real symbiotic understanding move effortlessly round each other via basin and shower.
The problem with mid week drinking is that it invariably means you don't get a good night's sleep and wake up with a hangover.
Unsurprisingly, I now feel like shit.
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Nothing better to post about
Thanks to a certain SOB that I know – I'm supposed to fill out a questionnaire thingy he sent me and then pass it on.
So here goes:
What is the total amount of music files on your computer?
None, zero, zilch, nada. Not because I am a technophobe (although that may be partly true), but because I'm restricted to using my work computer and don’t think playing music in my open plan office would lead to a long and successful career. Not in my current line of work anyway.
The last CD you bought is:
Kasabian, by Kasabian. It's really good, more people should go and buy it.
What is the song you last listened to before reading this?
Universally Speaking by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers – it was on Radio 1 as I got to work, a fine way to start the day in my opinion.
Write down 5 songs you often listen to or that mean a lot to you.
In no particular order:
Coming Home by Mark Knopfler – Newcastle United run out to it, and it always makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up in anticipation.
Sweetest Decline by Beth Orton – makes me think of the Mrs every time I hear it.
Great Things by Echobelly - I know that I get the piss taken for liking Echobelly, but this is one of those songs that immediately takes me back to the hazy summers of my teenage years – great times and a lot of very happy memories.
Nobody Does It Better by Carly Simon - It was the song my wife and I first danced to at our wedding reception, a very happy memory of a wonderful day. (Oh, and it's the theme song to a really good Bond film.)
There She Goes by The La's – Makes me think of my mates, taking the piss and singing in falsetto voices. It seemed funny at the time, and still makes me smile. Just me then?
Like all lists of this sort, I'd probably give you a different list if you asked me tomorrow, but it'll do for now.
Who are you going to stick it to next and why?
Probably Del, Jo and the author of Pentup Digital Fury.
They are all into their music, and in Del's case it’ll give him something to do whilst he's off work sick.
Monday, January 17, 2005
I've got a confession to make.
I've done very little work today, because I've been glued to the cricket, and my goodness it was worth it.
Cometh the hour cometh the man, and in this case, the man was Matthew Hoggard, whose 12 wickets in the match, including 7 in the second innings gave England a remarkable victory.
The funny thing is that whilst I would dearly have loved to have been there, or in front of a TV, there is something incredibly addictive about watching cricket on the internet, and within that the two best sites I've found are Cricinfo and The Guardian.
Cricinfo allows you access to enough stats (the cricketers lifeblood) and an online scorebook to follow the progress at a glance, and watch dot ball after dot ball appear before your eyes, whilst also adding flesh to the dry bones with some meagre commentary.
The Guardian, by contrast have cunningly stuck a man with a keyboard in front of the TV and get him to give a summary of the core action in each over, together with encouraging general jokey banter between everyone who is studiously hitting refresh and avoiding work.
Whilst The Guardian may be fractionally more up to date, Cricinfo is more for the purist, giving an excellent breakdown of each and every innings and enough commentary to keep you enthralled.
Roll on the final test of what has been a fascinating series, and congratulations to England who can't now lose.
*Count the number of times this phrase features in tomorrow's papers if you have nowt better to do. Remember, you read it here first.
Friday, January 14, 2005
Tomorrow's chip paper
Last night I got home from work, avoided the collection of letters and flyers that get pushed through our door during the day and turned the light on.
(It's sad when you leave the house and get home from work in the dark.)
Picking up the papers, I found a leaflet from a roofer offering his services (four months after I needed one) and a "newspaper". I've used the inverted commas there to show that whilst the article in question might be printed on cheap paper and be attempting to masquerade as proper investigative journalism, I was disgusted to find a copy of the British National Party's "newspaper" on my doorstep.
Quite why this piece of vile propagandist shit had been shoved through my letterbox, I do not know.
Is it because the person I bought the house from used to receive it? (Doubtful as we've been in since August and this is the first one we've received).
Is it because the deliverer has pushed it through the wrong letterbox? (Possible)
Is it because I look like I might be interested and they've pushed it through on the off chance? (I fucking hope not)
Or have they pushed this crap through the letterbox of everyone in the street? (Probably)
The question now is, what should I do with it?
My natural inclination is to recycle it, in the hope that some good might come from it. However, if I leave it out, will someone think I paid the 50p to buy one, and that I'm really a supporter?
What if someone comes along and take it away and read it, either outside my house, or further down the recycling chain?
Or should I just rip it up and bin it, screwing the environment over in a one man vendetta against something I wouldn't even wipe my backside on?
For my previous postings about free speech and the BNP look here and here.
Thursday, January 13, 2005
You've got mail
We had a package delivered the other day. I's all very exciting, even though we know what it is, it'll still be nice to actually get our hands on the picture we ordered online a little while ago.
The problem is that the kind people at the post office have refused to try and ram it through our letterbox in the manner of a tired paperboy stuck with a mountain of Sunday papers.
So they've put a card through and taken the package to their depot.
The problem is that the depot is proving inaccessible to us, on the grounds that it's hidden and has no parking.
It took me 24 hours to find the damn thing by which time it was shut. So I went back today, exhausted due to my lack of sleep, and found that there is no parking anywhere near by. Given the fact I had to get to work, I didn't have time to park half a mile away, so it will just have to wait.
I wouldn't mind so much, but the bloody postman didn't even wait to see if we were in when he came to deliver it, just shoved the card through and buggered off, and we were bloody well at home at the time!
Today is a day of suffering.
Last night we had a friend over for dinner.
That is to say, we fed her, we didn't eat her for our tea – we aren't cannibals.
The evening went smoothly, good food, nice wine, good company. I didn't drink enough to cause me to suffer this morning, so it was an excellent night all told.
The problem is that I couldn't sleep last night, and now I feel incredibly tired and crappy.
All I want to do is sleep, but I've got to last for at least four more hours before I can even consider crawling into my bed.
Welcomes to Jill Twiss and Pentup Digital Fury, both are pleasing additions to the blogroll, which I trust you will frequent from now on. I know I will.
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
Last year I resolved to complete the Great North Run, and did indeed achieve a feat that in January 2004 would not have been possible, through a lot of hard work and dedication.
It damn near killed me.
However, inspired by Jill Twiss, I feel compelled to share my targets for the new year with you all:
1. Be better.
Specifically a better husband, worker and friend. There have been times when I probably didn't do things as well as I should have done in certain situations in both my personal and work lives last year, and that's something which I hope to improve upon this year. I'm sure I'll still fuck up at times, but if I can raise my game across the board it'll be a good thing.
2. Climb mountains.
Well, technically that should be walk up mountains, as I'm not about to do anything stupid and invest in a set of crampons and an ice axe. However, in much the same way as I have now run a half marathon, this is the year to climb Snowdon, Ben Nevis and Scafell Pike (although I'm buggered if I’m going to try and do it in one 24 hour period).
3. Finish the jobs I start.
Currently I've got something of a fondness for starting DIY projects and not completing them (e.g. I still need to paint the skirting boards in the lounge and the ceiling in the bathroom, despite tackling the remainder of those two rooms well before Christmas.
I reckon if I can stick to these, it should be a 2005 to remember, and one in which I help my bit of the world to run a bit smoother.
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
"The shit hath hitteth the fan - eth"
Due to matters beyond my control, I've sudedenly found myself swamped by work at the moment, which has seriously hindered my opportunities for blogging, and also stunted my life so there's no great inspiration to sustain an interesting post.
Which is why I've been a bit quiet of late.
Hopefully normal service will be resumed shortly.
Tuesday, January 04, 2005
Partying like it's 1996
"I drank like a teenager with no thought of consequences."
Not my words but those of a friend describing our New Year's Eve festivities. In truth he could have been talking for any one of those there, and the hangovers we all suffered the next day were testament to the fact that whilst we might have drunk like teenagers, we suffered heavily for our art.
Any party where the host has to be put to bed before any of his guests have left must be a good one – albeit one which left me feeling sick as a dog as I sat watching Newcastle take on Brimingham the following day.