(Planet Me)
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Roll On Summer
i'm tempted to pull the plug on this - or more accurately, leave it unupdated forever. what do you say? i'm a small ant on the face of the world. who knows if i would be missed?

And damn, it's cold.

Funeral Blues

A funeral is a short time to sum up a life. And a life is both a long time and a blink of an eye in the life of the universe. On Thursday, John, the neighbour with whom I have shared many hours over the past five years, was buried. We spoke in the garden and on the doorstep weekly, and often talked of the war and bombs and cinemas and his holidays. Though I did not know him for the first seventy years of his life, I wondered. The funeral is the last moment, the last memory many people have of a person, and for that final moment to be outside of your self, to be defined by others, somehow seems to sum up a life, yet also not explain your life in a way you may recognise as your own. I thought that perhaps I would like to write my own self summary of my life : allow me to tell my final story, my way.

As for the rest of my life? It ain’t easy. And it never will be. But it’s getting less hard

Wednesday, January 27, 2010
THEM CROOKED VULTURES - "Them Crooked Vultures"

Armed with an unlikely and potent rhythm section, with Dave Grohl, best drummer in the world, and John Paul Jones of Led Zep, Them Crooked Vultures really do need – to match their talents – a stunning wonderkid guitarist / singer to restate their position as a band that could thankfully wipe clean the crooked slate of that dreaded word ‘Supergroup’.

No such luck – here they have Josh Homme, who clearly rocks, and means it, but is, to my ears a somewhat pedestrian writer. Whilst there is no doubt these three men are having a great time rockin’ like barstewards in their LA basement, it might be very well far more fun to play this music than it is to listen to : perhaps I’m less than grabbed by mid-paced opener “No Loves Me & Neither Do I”, it’s only when the band pick up the pace, shift tempos and try something a little more lively that I can be interested. “Mind Eraser No Chaser” is far more like it : excited, pacy, shifting tempos and style that keeps you pinned to your seat : and what sounds like Dave Grohl on chorus vocals, which is just dandy with me. “New Fang” is equally powerful.

However with expectations this high, it is only fair to me to expect a band that is both instantly appealing and rewards repeat visits. Where the album does fall down, is that it contains little variation in styles – songs come either fast and furious, slow and ponderous, and rarely go beyond these parameters. “Elephants” is the kind of glory I had hoped for right from the bat, hypnotic, spiralling, huge, and then falling into a fast paced race for the finish ; “Scumbag Blues” is the bastard, angry half-brother of “Trampled Underfoot”. When the album hits its groove, a dirty, angry, and durable set of intricate riffs and powerful drumming atop somewhat underwhelming vocals from the limited Homme, it occupies a unique place – maybe not particularly brilliant, but certainly worthy and a fine new direction for the oft-underappreciated JPJ. It’s not a patch on the godlike genius that is Probot, mind you. Now that band I’d love to hear more from.

Overall, the album is less than the sum of its parts – albeit, just – and thus, weighed down by enormous expectation. As a rock record, aside from a limp opening track, it’s a fine debut : above the majority of debuts you’ve ever heard, though one can’t help but wonder how well it would be received were it not for its lineage : would you buy it or like it without knowing anything about who played on it? Probably not. And that would be a shame, as it stands up as a damn fine record in it’s own right. Where do we go from here? Who knows? But you want to find out.

DAVID BOWIE - A Reality Tour

With Bowie in a virtual retirement – and who can blame him – the thin great white duke, or whatever guise he has entered now – has become what he never previously entertained, a retrospective, a nostalgia show. This – his umpteenth reissue of recent years, plugs the alleged gap in his oeuvre with yet another concert album. (Hot on the heels of “Santa Monica ‘72” and “VH1 Storytellers”).

A Reality Tour” is the audio document of his final tour. In its bluntest form, it’s nothing more and nothing less than an audio port of the DVD of the same with three extra songs appended at the end. And since (aside from a rudderless 80’s) Bowie never truly went through a fallow period, it’s an artistically valid – albeit belated and baffling – release that seems motivated largely by a desire to keep the Bowie Gravy Train rolling than anything else.

By 2003, Bowie, having reached his late fifties, had reclined into the elder statesmen role – the final phase of his career being a leather jacketed, lean old man, thankfully avoiding the clichés of Growing Old Disgracefully. Whilst there were areas he brushed over, such as 1987’s “Never Let Me Down”, he seemed a man at peace with his body of work and appreciative of many parts of it.

Thus, dispensing with the acrid taste of nostalgia, Bowie covers all bases of his career from an opening “Rebel, Rebel”(with a little too much cowbell) to the final “Reality” (represented by five songs.. five songs more than most artists play from their latest album on tour these days). And whilst popular conception is that Bowie was on the wane at the end of his career, this is nonsense. He was one of the few of that generation (alongside Pink Floyd, and not much else) that remained consistently alert and alive.

So… the Bowie Pension Fund motive aside, “A Reality Tour” is a worthy and valid live package, containing 32 songs from Bowie’s final concert run, and whilst it seems that he may be, to all intents and purposes, dormant now – and who can blame him? – this is proof that to the end, Bowie was, at all points, both moving himself to new places, and moving us to a different place with him. Reality is often underwhelming and disappointing : not Bowie’s Reality.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010
METALLICA : "Orgullo, Pasion Y Gloria" (Live In Mexico 2009)

It's been a long twelve years since the last official live Metallica DVD : yes, there was "S&M" in 1999, but that was Metallica with an orchestra, and not at all representative of the band, nor the way they have been for a long time... and now two come at once.

Like "Francais Pur Une Nuit", "Orgulla, Pasion Y Gloria" is a undeservedly exclusive entity : this edition - 2 DVD's and 2 audio CD's - is `officially' released only in Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile : which means that you cannot even buy it in the country that it was recorded. Thanks guys! Still, thanks to the world of Internet Mail Order, you can get a copy for a much smaller amount.

And this is how its done. There's certainly no reason artistically why you shouldn't be able to buy this from your high street : as a concert document, a record of four multi-millionaires playing mostly twenty year old songs in a football stadium in a foreign country, there isn't much better.

At this stage in their career, and hot on the heels of a genuine return-to-form album in the shape of Death Magnetic, Metallica should be pushing forward with new stuff : not kowtowing to their past. Sadly, the first DVD and the two audio CD's of this box set are determindedly retrospective : of the eight songs regularly played live from the new record, there's only three here. (Three extra songs from the new album also appear as `extras' on the somewhat expensive deluxe 2DVD+2CD version).

In fact, it's six songs, and half an hour into the main show, before Metallica play a single song that is less than twenty years old. There have been times when even I have refused to see the Rolling Metlicker Nostalgia Set live, because I, for one, think the new material is as good as the old, and I've seen they've performed "One" around 1,188 times, so really, a band performing twenty year old songs in a stadium which is ten times larger than anywhere they headlined when they wrote those songs seems to me to be a creative act of self-exile.

Which is a damn understatement : their albums this decade - the under-rated "St. Anger" and the near perfect "Death Magnetic" - rank creatively with their better-known work. The fact that even Metallica themselves are sidelining their latter-day relevance in favour of a history lesson is an act of self-deception. Why the best two Metallica songs in decades - "That Was Just Your Life" and "The End Of The Line" - have been banished to a second DVD as `bonus' tracks when these two songs opened 80% of the tour shows and are, with no understatement, stunning, is baffling and kicks Metallica's perception to that of a nostalgia act : they deserve better.

Still, from the opening "Creeping Death" to the final, traditional "Seek And Destroy", the main event is a two hour précis of Metallica's strengths and weaknesses : on stage, they've always been a powerful proposition - on stage is where they exist and where they excel. (In all honesty, I rarely listen to the studio albums, and thus, songs they rarely play live practically do not exist to me). The songs are dispatched with a finely honed, ruthless efficiency - even those who are rarely played ("Fuel" gets its third outing in a year, "Trapped Under Ice" it's eighth performance, ever) - roar and bounce. There is an element of muscle memory in these performances, a fluid, unthinking, instinctual reaction where the band cease to think about what they are playing ... and become the song itself. When the double-bass drum rolls underpin songs such as "Blackened", all I can think is how Metallica deserve their fearsome reputation as one of the best live bands of all time : how they have managed to attain a unique position by defying the convention and creating a genre all of their own, blending elements of classic thrash metal, prog-rock's propensity for shifting time signatures and epic-length songs, and fiercely melodic songwriting to generate an individual and self-contained, durable musical world. Even now, 24 years later, "Master of Puppets" sounds as fresh as the day it was born.

Visually, this is a fine package : but not perfect - the concert is interrupted frequently with moronic interviews with weird, scary fans in Nacho Libre masks and squealy teenage girls, which is a real pain. The interviews with the band are interesting, but far too infrequent for my liking. The editing is clear, thankfully avoiding the epileptic judder of multiple quick-cross-cuts, but a reliance on helicopter shots creates a strange distance and pulls you out of the moment. Still, at that point, I was playing air guitar in an empty house, so no one really noticed. Thankfully. Aside from that, the "World Magnetic" tour staging - of rotating coffins, mirrors, and explosions, is sorely missing ; replaced by a generic stadium stage. But when the music, and the performance is so committed, and that's what you're here for, it's hard to fault.

The deluxe edition of this overcomes some of these faults : 2 audio CD's form a cohesive and superlative live selection. A second DVD features every song performed over the three nights in Mexico not on the main disc - a total of 35 songs with a cross-section ranging from their first album to the latest.

This is a definitive, exhaustive package, an important and essential addition to a Metallica fan's collection : the band are back at the peak of their abilities, and the deluxe edition is a weighty, enormous, and stunningly powerful concert document of one of the most powerful live bands on the planet.


Were reality just like a computer game there’d be a lot more chainsaws and Helldemons on the streets this morning. I’d be walking to work with a petrol powered buzzsaw cutting through the brains of floating orbs of teeth, or bobbing around with a BFG in what appears to be an illogical maze.

Reality is a bit disappointing really. There’s no power ups hidden in alleys and corners, no random Big Guns or armour dropped by a benevolent geek god, and no extra lives.

I still avoid those bubbling barrels. Just in case a stray piece of shrapnel hits them and I’m blown to my last resave point. Go back to the start. Insert coin? Y/N?

My life a very mundane computer game. A time level – to make it to the train by 7.44am. In 39 minutes I wake, wash, dress, eat, pack, kiss two amazing people if I am lucky and keep the cat out of the living room. It’s very important the cat stays out of the living room, or else the cat will wake a tired mother and a tired baby.

I dreamt I was being eaten alive by robots : it was a cat gnawing at my big toe.

I wash, add deodorant, and make breakfast. I dodge the usual, random, AI-guided cat with the prize : a pack of sandwiches and a bottle of liquid. If Killer Cat has gumption, it is a hard battle, but I am swift enough not to wake her Kitten Mind. Tie? Check. iPod? Check. Keys? Check. Time to go.

Leave the house, navigate the optimum path, and then, with access key in hand – a suited, commuted Lara Croft (as bosomy, but not quite as attractive, nor, thankfully will my controller ever throw me into a wall to hear me make a delicious, computer generated sigh), I reach my target before the time runs out – or the air runs out in my Jet Set Willy cave.

I sit down. Level one completed. The loading screen is the next 70 minutes where the train moves from the coast to the capital. And so Level Two begins…

Without ever really meaning to, I became the guy who commutes to the office for 500 hours a year. That’s not really the way I ever thought life might work out, but it’s the way life changes around us.

At what price did you decide to defer your dreams for money? How much money was it? … and now I am trapped. It’s a comfortable prison, but one I cannot walk away from.

I never thought I’d end up doing this. I don’t quite know what I thought I’d end up doing, but it wasn’t this. But it’s by no means a bad life at all.

Monday, January 25, 2010
Up In The Air

You’ve met people like Ryan Bingham before. They’re known to some as Seagull Managers : You’ve never seen them before, they appear from nowhere, shit all over everything, and then you never see them again.

I’ve met people like this. Three years ago, an hour with two people like this, two people whose names I’m not sure I ever knew, let alone remember, in a room in Old Street. One had a moustache, thinning once-red hair. The Other looked like a jowled, inflated Gordon Brown. It was only an hour. Thirty minutes in which I auditioned for my future.

In two parts. The first one was a thirty minute interview by two people who did not know anything about what my job actually was, or what I actually did. What they did know, and I suspect they had decided before I entered the room, was that I was probably not going to get the job. And thus I preened and pirouetted to prove I was who I was to people who didn’t even know who they were. And at the end of it, two people who couldn’t get my job title right decided I was ‘displaced’ and not suitable for a role I singlehandedly built from scratch.

So yes, you know people like Ryan Bingham. They appear and they disappear, and they destroy your life, and they walk away knowing they’re just doing their job.

Hey, Cancer is just doing it’s job. Fufilling it’s cancerous mission statement.

“Up In The Air” is a story, of a small part of his life – what feels like six or eight weeks, as Ryan Bingham, an anonymous man, travels across the skies and changes his life without even knowing it.

Lets not go into plot, because really, there’s little point. Lives don’t have points or character arcs, just developments that we retrospectively make sense out of.

But Bingham is a man always on the move. In one job, I probably did more miles than your average rock band : managing a country, and finding myself in a sample week in Leeds, Sheffield, London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and London. On one occasion, my commute was a 16 seat, 2 engine propeller plane to a place with two flights a day in and out. Not that this matters. Ryan Bingham is King Of The Air : 322 days a year he is on a flight, in a hotel, running away from the concept of home in the land that promised us land itself.

The travel tips he offers, in his likeable, but self-exiled way, are true. As a motivational speaker, his bland but effective style sounds like a man talking to himself. As a man integrated with the society around him, he is a failure. But Bingham lives a life the way that society would sometimes like us to – as creatures whose only worth exists as a transactional consumer, eating food, checking in to hotels, a participant in the capitalist corporate consumer culture, but not a human being finding the necessary greater meaning within. Part of me wonder what exactly that teenage girlfriend did to him to hurt him so much. It is no great surprise that he approaches other human beings as quite as disposable.

But it’s a lonely life, and throughout the film, Bingham realises the cost and the price of his loneliness, that his freedom is a prison of its own, and finds that a life he could’ve changed, he now cannot, and the one thing he wants more than anything else now he cannot find his way back to. “Up In The Air” is a touching, quietly human film about choices we make that end up being permanent, about a small decision that becomes the biggest decision you may ever make, and how what we think we want we only want because we haven’t considered anything else.

Clooney provides an authentic performance, being one of the few actors who always looks like George Clooney, but ceases being George Clooney playing Ryan Bingham, and becomes Ryan Bingham : an apt and capable supporting cast including Vera Farmiga – almost all largely low-key actors – add a quiet verisimilitude. Life is a question, and the question this film asks is “What’s In Your Backpack?” – it’s a strange question we never find the answer to, but isn’t that just like life itself?

Saturday, January 23, 2010
A Series Of Tubes

Four days without a blog? Zut Alor! Our days mostly consist of not enough sleep, travel on trains, running around offices, reading emails, meeting people, eating sandwiches, doing housework, and looking after a six week old superstar.

And that's about it. I'm still in love with life, I'm just not always feeling capable of doing anything but exhale when the days battles are done. I will be away from the series of tubes for a wee while.

Last but not least, two lovely people are stepping off the work treadmill for a while - best of luck to Swiss and Steve.

p.s. have a look at The World Happiness Index

Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Bricks and Mortar

Editors, Bricks And Mortar.. from In This Light And On This Evening

The last time my life was this ace was when I was four and my Grandma brought me a Star Wars T-shirt in the sunshine summer of '77. I have scaled a sort of peace and armistice with the wars of life that I never quite thought I could reach, with a companion with whom I laugh more and more often than anything I have experienced in a long time.

I miss John next door, who died two weeks ago. He was 78. Everytime I come home I see the light on and know he is not home. The last time I saw him he knocked on our door with a Christmas card - he didn't come in to meet our 2 week old son as he had a cold. Now, Luke is five weeks of age.

I'm already starting to feel details of his birth fade from memory : what I do remember is that I had no idea I would be standing in those shoes for 88 hours, and even the most comfortable shoes start to feel like shards of broken rock after three days.

Life is hard and beautiful : I don't often get to sit down and spend any time for myself, unless I am on a train going to and from work. But life is what it is, and what it is is a brilliant, beautiful, bonkers adventure.

Monday, January 18, 2010
The War On The Poor

You may have heard that the Government have been slyly targeting that old bastion of poverty, Buy One Get One Free. Hilary Benn, the government minister in charge of the environment in Britain has called for a “radical rethink” of promotions in order to reduce unnecessary wastage. Simply eliminating food waste would cut the UK’s emissions as much as taking a fifth of cars off the roads, he claims.

Which is fine. He can afford to choose a diet which does not rely on the limit of your bank (im)balance. In principle, a war against the BOGOF is, for the idealistic targeting food waste, somewhat principled.

But it is part of the immense, and vicious, war on the poor. For those of us who have a diet or an income that does not stretch as far as we would like, economy – that is, the reduction of unnecessary expenditure wherever possible – is a necessity of the minimum wage, short-term contract, war on the workforce society that is the ultimate result of capitalism and corporatism

Quite a few million other people, choose parts of their diet on what is available in the Buy-One-Get-One-Free : many people on the average, median wage of this country.

Should the Government choose to replace this with the cunning “Half Price Deal”, all people will do is buy the same amount of food in slightly different amounts. When you’re poor, and you make decisions of what to eat on the grounds of what is cheap, you don’t eat more than you need, you eat as little as you can, and stretch the money as far as it can possibly can.

Instead of targeting the ‘Buy One Get One Free’, maybe the government should target the economy that creates such a society where for millions of us that is the only way you can reasonably afford to eat. For it’s simply not a civilised way of life.

Have I written this before? Probably. The story is old, I know, but it goes on.

Sunday, January 17, 2010
A Way Of Living

"Instead of shooting arrows at someone else's target, which I've never been very good at, I make my own target around wherever my arrow happens to have landed. You shoot your arrow and then you paint your bulls eye around it, and therefore you have hit the target dead centre." - Brian Eno

It's been busy recently. Nappies, babies, pooh, pee. But it is brilliant. Never laughed so much, or felt so lucky as I have recently. It has been a week of falls, snow and ice. Of long train journeys, as indeed I do make almost every day of my life, and I am sick of those. Friends have been to visit, and they are brilliant. I saw Moon, which is the best Sci Fi film in a very very long time, and a place I will revisit many times.

All is well. I will write more when inspiration strikes.

Thursday, January 14, 2010
Outpost 31

Truth be told, everytime I walk in snow like that, I like to think I am in a John Carpenter movie.

It's The Stupid, Stupid

We are entering the age of the first anti-political election. No longer, it seems is there an election being fought even vaguely on policy, but simply on spin and bluff. The election campaign which hasn’t even started yet seems to be fought on one criteria : who would you prefer to come to your house for dinner?

Clearly, the frankly grumpy old man that is Gordon Brown has a mountain to climb. David Cameron on the other hand, has been preened and cleaned to an inch of his no doubt privileged Eton life.

The dilemma that a long term Labour voter faces – the kind of person raised on Thatchers cruel Britain and who remembers growing up in age of the Bomb – is that Labour doesn’t resemble Labour any more.

Labour used to be the party that relied on looking out for the poor in an age of kneejerk conservatism and reactionary condemnation. Now, Labours position is almost Toxic.

I’m tired of a Labour Party that seemingly couldn’t give a fig for the poor or the needy. I’m scared of a Conservative Party that will judge and not understand. And I’m bored of a charisma-free Gordon Brown who could bore even a brick into a contemplation of Brickicide.

What this country needs is not David Cameron. His values are dangerous to any of the underprivileged, the poor, the disabled, the ill, and there but for the Grace of God and Ron Burgundy go I. That’s what scares me – not the words Conservative or his slick, empty soundbite smarm. What scares me is that the Conservatives have been a party that, as long as I can remember, have defended the I’m Alright Jack and The Poor Are Evil principle.

What this country requires is a principled leader. A man who isn’t a management consultant or a dogged value zealot, but a trustworthy, fair, no bullshit person who refuses to kowtow to Headline Moral Outrage and stay firmly out of the pocket of Big Business.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

This is what the world has looked like every day for the past month. I know to some people - Artic Explorers, Alaska, Polar Bears and Penguins - that this view is business as normal... but it isn't really business as normal for me, and I'm beginning to forget what concrete and grass look like. If the rest of our lives look like this, we'll cope.. but we'd rather have some sunshine soon if possible.

How about you?

Transforminators 2 : Utter Bullshit

Transformers 2 – oh, I’d heard all about how bad this was – with the jive talking robots, the lack of a plot, the confusing CGI, the jump cuts, the round ass visuals and lingering shots of girls bottoms and I thought… it can’t be that bad.

Optimism is a curse.

Because it’s not just that bad, it’s actually worse. But I have an explanation.

Michael Bay is, at heart, a 10 year old boy, caught at the cusp with the first hairs on his pubis, filled with raging hormones, aware of the lure of girls, but with no real understanding of the female gender in anything but the most primitive manner. It’s a fleetingly short stage of life, where the body is kidnapped by unformed desire, where big explosions and primitive ideas are still amazingly cool, and a world where a shiny truck can actually be the leader of a mechanoid alien race.

To call this film emotionally retarded is .. well, it’s an insult. This film isn’t just emotionally challenged : it has the insight, depth, cohesion, logic, intelligence and sensitivity smaller than my pet rabbit.

Though there is an excuse, during The Writers Strike, the film still existed. Instead of piecing together a plot and finding a reason for it, “Revenge Of The Fallen” started with all the action setpieces carefully constructed but no plot, no dialogue, no reason. It was only after that a (presumably cheap) somewhat unemployed and incompetent writer was appointed to make sense of it all in a short timescale, put together the pieces, and try and create a narrative that explained what the dickens was going on. And he failed.

This film doesn’t make any sense. Not one iota. And not in a “2001” sense where what is happening is so obtuse that it is difficult to decipher. Transformers 2 is just… intellectually rancid and spiritually bankrupt.

At not one point did I care in the slightest what I was watching. I was watching stuff blow up, I was watching a bunch of 60 foot tall animated robot trucks fight about something hidden in a pyramid that would suck the Sun out of the sky. But I didn’t care. In some ways the end of all human life would be preferable to the Autocondeceptabots winning, because I was losing the will to live in this tale which isn’t worth telling.

I was having what you could call “The Shakes”. Within the first hour I had seen so much stuff explode – helicopters, aircraft carriers, cities, cars, lampposts, telephones – in fact anything and everything you can possibly blow up bites the dust. I just wanted the noise and colours to stop for a little while.

And, with too much screentime occupied by two borderline racist, misogynist, jive-talkin’, idiotic Deceptatwinbots, I started to feel myself getting stupider. Because maybe if I couldn’t think and was stupid, I might enjoy this more.

Well, some stuff blows up, there’s some loud stuff, a few explosions, some shots of Megan Fox’s backside, and ultimately a few hundred million pounds are wasted in generating some popcorn sales. But none of means anything. I cared more about what I’m having for dinner, which I will forget in 8 hours, than anything in this film. It’s ultimately utterly forgettable, with no context – the events of the film are fading from memory before the end credits, because the narrative smoke has the substance – and weight – of a cloud.

When the Apocalypse comes, and Mankind is asked to justify its existence, for heavens sake, don’t show this film to the judge. We’ll be judged guilty.

Don’t see this, and don’t pay for it. All you are doing is encouraging them to make more films like this. And believe me, humanity does not need that on it’s conscience.

Monday, January 11, 2010
Middle of the night in Snowworld

Luke, 4 weeks old.

With X on the train

On the way to the cinema

The road


Sunday, January 10, 2010
Nazi Literature in the Americas - Roberto Bolano

The alternate history is a staple of modern fiction : "Watchmen", "The Man In The High Castle", and many others give us a flavour of all that might have been but... never was. Whilst this may read as a list book, it is far more than that - surmising the multiple details and mass of useless biographical detail that some may use to tell just one story - in favour of a sketch that says more than a Bible. The writers fleshed out are portrayed efficiently and tellingly with brief but versed, skilful writing. Each one has a distinctive personality, a plausable tale, and form a cohesive whole as a realistic versimilitude of a world that doesn't quite exist yet so clearly almost did and almost could. Instead of using this as the base for a dull, predictable thriller about Nazi Gold, the Illuminati and Kryptos, Bolano does a grand job of saying so much with little, and thus, this is a fascinating excursion and an effective, fascinating interpretation of what was possible but thankfully never came to pass.

The Road To Hull Is Paved With Good Intentions

This isn't so much a book as a very long newspaper article : in the nicest sense of the word, Alan exposes the determined malfeasance and abuse of bizarre sub clauses in well intentioned laws to turn this once beautiful country into an over-regulated state of fear where you can arrested for taking a picture of a landmark, and fined for making a gesture at a CCTV camera. The examples here are demonstrations, and there are far too many of them, of how this society has turned into a war waged against the citizens by a culture terrified of independent thought, and who still feel that 'If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear'... even if all you want is some privacy. Like Blue Thudner, the only place that is truly private is the few inches inside your skull. This country must change direction - and not ine the favour of Cameron's Conservative Paradise. The people must be dissolved, because we no longer represent the will of the Government. The tail wags the dog, and we get to pay the taxes. It's a useful book that in many years may serve as a document of the way this nation lost track : the road to hell is paved with good, ignorant intentions. And here we are.

The Bears That Live Somewhere

One of the experiences in life I wanted, desperately wanted, was to see “Where The Wild Things Are” with My Son. I know I have two sons, but one is only four weeks old, and this means that I could show him The End Of The World and he would just blink at it. And thus, my eldest, Mr X., and I had discussed going to the cinema, and he loves going with me.

Outside there is snow. A FUCK OF A LOT OF SNOW. Being Britain, I can barely remember any snow. We had a day or two in February, but before that, we have been averaging in this country a day or two a year, sometimes not til March or April. I think in 2008 there might not have been any at all. I missed it.

In 1990, I remember being snowed in, planning to see The Mission at the Aston Villa Leisure Centre – on December 9th – and being trapped on the other side of town, digging my dad’s car out of four foot of snow, being at home, trapped in, with grey / white snow halfway up the patio windows.

I don’t think it has ever been this cold : nor has there been this much consistent snow in my lifetime – there has been snow on the ground in some form every day since our son was four days old. I don’t mind it, to be honest. Part of me has long had a secret love affair with snow, since watching “The Thing” in 1988. The serene, white snow, the blanket of death.

And so yesterday, with five inches of snow, Xander and I set about to walk to the cinema. It’s normally a thirty minute walk, and I enjoy the exercise.

Yesterday, X and I spent an hour walking to the cinema in snowdrifts. We ran around the deserted mile long drive that runs round the back of the cinema complex, holding hands, throwing snowballs, taking photographs. For a while, he hadn’t spoken to me, and I feared he had thought he was in some way not important to me anymore. A snowball fight later and all was well.

We had been talking about seeing Where The Wild Things Are, which I had described as The Bears That Live Somewhere, which he was super super keen to see. We bought the tickets, and then were told… the film isn’t on.

Thanks! Assholes!

The choices were Cloudy With a Chance Of Meatballs, or Alvin & The Shitmunks 2 : The Squeakal. I’d rather punch my eyes out than watch Alvin, so Cloudy it was… which was surprisingly good. I had low hopes which were pleasantly averted.

Xander sat on my lap in a scary bit. The film works well for adults and not adults. Even I, for whom junkfood is practically my staple diet, was staggered by exactly how revolting some of the food looks. After Supersize Me, I wanted a Big Mac. After this… I wanted tofu.

We played with other dads and kids on the way home, throwing snowballs at green bricks, clearing snow of cars, and giggled and laughed and cuddled.

So, we didn’t see The Bears That Live Somewhere, but we did see The Boy Who Made The Robot That Makes Food Out Of Water, and we had a beautiful day. And that is the best you can hope for out of life on a good day.


The Thing

- what life is like for "The Thing" : brilliant writing. The Thing is one of the best films of all time, from the golden summer of 1982 - look at what came out in that summer. This is a brilliant reversal of the traditional and accepted canon of the story. Well worth reading.

The Hardest Thing In The World.

And it is minus 10 outside.

Friday, January 08, 2010
20 Days In The Life
Luke leaves hospital 15 Dec 2009

Snow 17 December 2009

Wearing Pj's, in -10, snow, 6.11am, 18 December 2009

He sleeps through it all

First trip out in the snow, aged five days

Cat loves bags. 23 Dec 2009.

Christmas Day. A tankard of beer, and an ill advised beard.

Luke has a penguin.

Time for a yawn.

Me and Cat.

Wandering around the shops, 28 December 2009

It's Action Dad! Milk Bottles and a GNR T Shirt. What.. paradox!

Friends visit and this bowl costs us £3.54.

Happy New Year, by the way.

Walking in the snow back from Grandma and Grandad.

Grandma has a cuddle.

On my way to work for the first time.

Monday, January 04, 2010
A Pretty Good Year

What was 2009 like? It started crap, and ended ace.
We went to Paris - what an experience. I saw New Kids On The Block.
I had a nervous breakdown and was off work for six weeks.
We stayed in the Loudest Hotel In The World.
I wanted to strangle Bill Gates.
I had Room Service for the first time in my life. IT WAS AWESOME.
We had a brilliant few days in Brighton.
We went to Barcelona, and saw U2.
And two days later, Kraftwerk, in 3D, with cyclists.
I saw one of the greatest double bills of all time.
I went to Dublin for a night. To see U2.
And the Science Museum, and the Dungeness Sound Mirrors. They are AMAZING.
My son and I went to Folkestone Harbour and walked around Rye.
I was walking through Harrods and bumped into a strange golden statue.
My son and I went on the longest small railway in the world, which was the most fun I have had with him, ever.
The three of us went on an amazing Mission Potato.
And OMFG, we had a beautiful baby.

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