View through my window

October 30, 2006

If this is 'street' you can keep it

The family Crisis went down to that there London over half term. I had some nuns to see, and the LOML has a cousin who lives in a nice, leafy, safeish, expensive bit and has spare rooms, so we thought we'd make a trip out of it and stay for a couple of nights.

Fuck me rigid with a cowprod.

What a nightmare.

I used to live in London - indeed, the LOML and I met at uni there. But now that we live in the sticks, it is a total culture shock to ge back. We went on the tube and smiled indulgently at Child One working out how many stops we had left and so on - a few years ago I would have tried to shush him, because it makes you look like a peasant to have children who thinks the tube is exciting. I've grown up now. Then we went to Tate Modern to do the slide thing, and queued up for a long time for tickets. Then we went to Leicester Square to try and get some show tickets, but anything that was worth seeing was going to be two hundred quid for the four of us, so we gave up on that. So, happily,we went to the Globe Theatre for a guided tour, which was fab and the kids enjoyed it. And I squashed down my conscience and we went for a coffee and cake in the Salvation Army headquarters and tried not to think about funding their ridiculous organisation (I'm sure they do loads of charitable caring stuff but as an atheist they do it for all the wrong reasons, but still. Nice coffee. Cheap, too. For London).

It was going back onto Leicester Sqare tube that I really started to think about the life choices we've made. Child Two was happily holding my hand, as she was a bit overwhelmed by all the people. Child One was doing the "I'll go first and work out the right way to go and you can follow me" thing. He's ten, and quite a lanky sod, with blond hair - so fortunately he's quite visible. He happily worked out the route - we have to change here to that line and so on - but hadn't got the hang of the station concourse. We had to call him back gently a couple of times - "It's this way mate, don't go through that barrier or you won't be able to get back" - "Oh. Okay Dad" - and we duly got where we were supposed to be going. But just comparing him to the other kids on the train and the streets, and he just didn't compare. He has a wide-eyed innocence, a belief that everyone is nice (until proven otherwise), doesn't watch his back, worry about getting lost, or notice any potential threat. All the local kids had hard faces, shifty, wary, knowing. There wasn't much difference in the way they were dressed, but they were totally in different worlds. I was trying to think of what it reminded me of, and it came to me that it was the bit in Oliver where Oliver is introduced to the Dodger and Fagin's gang. My boy just is Oliver: polite, innocent and, uh, blond.

Until a few years ago, I was a bit proud of the fact that I did the London thing, knew the places, did the look, didn't stand out or look out of place. I got to snigger at tourists, jostle past people dithering because they didn't know the right tunnel to go down, flash travel passes and not queue for tickets. It occurred to me, watching my unselfconscious, trusting little bloke making his way with quiet confidence through an unfamiliar world, that we had done the right thing after all. All of a sudden, I had a complete reversal: I was proud of not being local any more, having to buy a ticket, happy to point at the map on the carriage and count stops with them - and happy for them to be excited at the distant rumble of an approaching train, to tell us "it's coming, it's coming" and to jump up and down when the train came whooshing into the platform. Proud that this marked us out as from out of town. And uncool. And not 'street'.

My little girl, as she emerged blithely from being crushed by sour-faced commuters studiously ignoring each other on a District Line train, asked me: "Why is everyone in London so sad?".

"I don't know, sweetheart. Perhaps they all wish they could live in a village in the country like us."

I used to miss living there. Not any more. Not at all.

October 26, 2006

The one where I think I don't have time but really I do

Oh God, I'm so crap at this. Blogging regularly, I mean. Always the same story, as soon as I get busy I stop doing this 'cos I just haven't got time.

This, of course, is bollocks.

I have plenty of time, what I don't have is the ability to stop procrastinating. I can only do one thing at a time - actually, sometimes I can only do one thing a day. I have a meeting this afternoon, for example. I have to do a bit of preparation for it, maybe an hour. The meeting will last perhaps two hours. So that's three hours work on that, leaving me another five or so to do the other stuff which I so need to do as it's getting urgent now. Like writing a complicated and expensive proposal for a bunch of nuns in North London (don't ask).

But all I can see is the entry in my filofax "15-30 Contract: walk through". Those three words* are big enough to cast a shadow over the whole rest of the day. I can't do anything else. I'm trying, dammit. But instead I'm on here, writing this. And reading other people's [punctuation]. And deleting filthy pornographic spam, usually about "faar*m girr1s" and their animals in, presumably, compromising positions. Who would be stupid enough to follow a link with that in? And getting cross with the nanny state again - though there's enough there for a whole library of posts. Apparently we're banning fireworks unless you're a professional now. Where's the fun in that? Getting drunk and aiming several hundred rockets from your hand over the back of suburban gardens is a student rite of passage that'll surely be missed. Harmless fun, with extra kudos if you can set four-doors-down's greenhouse alight. Happy days, never to be had by the next generation because we're fixated with trivial issues like property damage and horrific burn injuries. Duh.

Oh, and by the way, this is my hundredth post. Go, me.

*all right, three words and two numbers. What? Four numbers, then. And a hyphen. And a colon. Whatever. Stop splitting hairs.

October 06, 2006


Today's fave word is "Specialist".

I used to think I was a bit of a specialist. In several fields. I was quite proud of this. My kids would agree with this, no doubt, accompanied by smirks and sniggers, which until today I wouldn't have understood.

A specialist is, you see, someone who is special. Ok, you think, problem is? But no. Not special as in gifted, I'm afraid. Special as in special needs, as in would have gone in the past to a special school before they were integrated into the mainstream.*

As in: "the internet is the realm of nerds and specialists"; "only a specialist would think that"; and "I can't believe you did that, you're such a specialist".

I think this is funny.

Today's word is "specialist". I urge you to use it as often as possible.

*what a genius scheme that was. I didn't know any, because I went to a posh all boys school paid for by my parents, obv.**, but the kids I knew in the mainstream all had ways of making the special needs kids (so thoughtfully integrated into their classes) have some sort of duck fit. Which may or may not have involved poking them with a stick.

**thanks Anna.

October 05, 2006


... is a plural noun. One datum, two or more data.

Note to everyone in the world who ever writes anything at all ever: please note and observe the above.

You cannot say: "this data shows ..." (these data show)
You cannot say: "we have analysed the data and it indicates ..." (... they indicate).

I am absolutely clear on this, and very boring and droney-on on the subject. I harangue the TV (even the Beeb regularly gets it wrong) and my correctness and worthiness and sensibleness is always confirmed by my family. I can tell, you see, by the way they always react when I am right about something for the hundred and eleventy-fifth time. They always mutter "Jesus Christ, keep on, Dad, yes, Dad, you're right, whatever" and roll their eyes and look at each other and shake their heads slowly. See, I know I'm right when they do that.

Not being a perfect person, however (difficult as this may be to believe, I know) I had a bit of a problem with (something like) the following phrase in a book: " none of the data, when analysed, has showed ....". Has showed? I thought. Shouldn't that be have showed? I'm still not entirely sure, but I reckoned at first the book's probably right: 'none of the data' is singular. Surely nothing isn't plural? Unfortunately, this fails the CWC test for how to use 'data': substitute a plural phrase such as 'pieces of information'. Thus, the nonsense of 'this pieces of information shows'.Would you say, though, 'none of the pieces of information ... has showed'? Have showed, surely? I'm stumped. I don't know. My brain hurts.


( At all? Just me, then).

October 04, 2006

Things I like today

1. St John's Wort. Marvleeous. It seems for the moment to be keeping me on the sane and narrow. No more blues!
2. Rugby training. Last night. Hard but fair. Good for the pent up frustration, flattening a fat bloke is (grammar? I seem to have segued into Yoda).
3. The World of Yaxlich. Very funny. Read the one from a couple of days ago when he's drunk at one in the morning. "Yaxlich relieves himself. Yaxlich goes to the bathroom. Yaxlish realises he is too late."
4. Some CDs I haven't played for ages but have found again. Like Eels. And Gorillaz.
5. The piano. Just generally. Haven't played it much lately, but I like that I could if I wanted to.
6. Watching re-runs of Lovejoy on ITV3 with my lunch. I always wanted to be Lovejoy. Hmmm. Ian McShane. Whatever happened to him? His career probably didn't go anywhere after that. A bit like Mark Hamill after Star Wars. It (Lovejoy, not Star Wars) had a young Irish actor called
James Nesbitt on it yesterday. Never saw him again, either, which is a shame because he was quite good.
7. Not caring about stuff. Loudly, often. Today's stuff I'm liking not caring about include David Beckham saying he's going to retire in two years (don't care), Coronation Street and come to that all soaps (don't care), David Hasselhof's new single's success, or not (don't care), celebrity size 00 nonsense (don't care - unless my daughter starts being influenced by it, in which case I do care, so does that mean I care now? Does potentially caring count? My list, my rules, so fuck it - not defining my terms (don't care)).
8. The Blogosphere.
9. Lists. Especially largely meaningless ones.
10. Not having to finish up on a nice round number - I can't think of anything else so I'll just stop at nine. What? Oh. Bugger.