Go Out

I’m not the most active member of this community but I certainly feel it is a community and one I am happy to be part of.

This morning the post man knocked more than once. PY, who always jumps out of bed for parcels and post, decided to answer the door where he discovered a large parcel from Out – my lovely black fleece had arrived (from OutOnTheStreets to be precise). This event, and Tom’s post (which I highlighted the other day and started out as a response to this) set me thinking about notions of community.

Now Out is an online community of (mainly) gay men from around the world – although at the moment it’s predominantly UK based. It’s a great place to be and very unlike many of the other commercial gay sites. It’s all about social interactions and not about sex (like some) nor about profit (like others). It funds itself by way of a non-compulsory licence fee and sells merchandise to add to that. It encourages real-world events and traditional social interaction.

Now, I have never attended one of the events and I don’t log on every day (like some). I don’t count many of my friends (online or otherwise) as being members and I can’t say I have made any lasting friendships on Out – although many have.

However, it is still a community and I am still part of it. I choose to contribute financially and I should do more in real life. There are many issues raised by Out that I shall discuss in more detail at some point soon (paying for online content; the concept of zero exploitation and the concept of online communities) but at this point all I want to say is that I feel similar about blogging. I do it primarily for my own record/entertainment/amusement. As a by-product, I get to tell the world how I feel about things and strike up some interesting discussions and relationships along the way. It’s a place for me to express and, most importantly, it’s another community that I belong to. Again, I’m not the most active member of this community but I certainly feel it is a community and one I am happy to be part of.

Inspirational Eden

Tim Smit provides an insight into the group vision that resulted in one of the more successful Millennium projects – Eden. And the fact that it is the work of a committed group of people is not lost on the reader. Smit regularly repeats the mantra that Eden was only developed thanks to the work of a wide range of individuals from contractors to councils, and not forgetting the plant-men.

Tim Smit provides an insight into the group vision that resulted in one of the more successful Millennium projects – Eden. And the fact that it is the work of a committed group of people is not lost on the reader. Smit regularly repeats the mantra that Eden was only developed thanks to the work of a wide range of individuals from contractors to councils, and not forgetting the plant-men.

If you want to understand some details behind the way such projects are developed then this is a book you should read. When the project was floundering while all the funding partners came together then Tim Smit was there and he relives it through the book. Sometimes you wonder how it call came together.

On the other hand, if you are a plant-lover, gardener or horticulturalist then this is also a book you should read. Smit tells the fascinating story of the development of the biome concepts and the plants they chose to grow. More importantly he discusses the relationship between man and the natural surroundings we inhabit; debating our fragile relationship with a range of environments along the way.

However, what you take from this book is a mixture of all of the above. Landscaping, plant husbandry and environmental considerations sit alongside planning, funding, road building and visitor education projects. It’s one man’s personal account rather than a definitive history and the cast of characters seems endless and, sometimes, confusing. However, the determination and vision that drove the project; the commitment and enthusiasm of all the people and the role Eden believes it should be playing on the world stage are all presented in an accessible, very readable account of, what seems to have been, a long but successful process. If this book doesn’t inspire you to aim higher and better, then nothing will.Buy Eden at Amazon.co.uk

Hope I Haven’t Missed Your Birthday

My trusted Palm Vx – from which sprang the this blog (why just write stuff for my own reading when I can bore everybody else?) – contains many useful freeware/shareware and fully-paid up pieces of software that didn’t come pre-installed. The most useful is DateMate. Datemate is a simple little program that stores birthdays, anniversaries and events and is able to populate the Palm Date Book with update information so that I can always recall how old somebody is and how many years they have been married. If you own a Palm I would wholeheartedly recommend you look at it.

Sadly, however, I have done two silly things in the past months:

  • Firstly, I changed my synchronisation settings with Outlook so that all birth dates and anniversaries were wiped from my Date Book. This is OK, as DateMate will retain the backup and all I had to do was re-enter them but ..
  • Secondly, I updated DateMate and forgot to read the update instructions so I have updated to a later version that won’t accept my registation number. As a consequence, I can’t export a list of all the entries to enable an easy re-entry procedure. So now I am going to have to upgrade and I am not sure it’s 100% necessary.

Ah well, maybe it would be easier to maintain a paper diary but it wouldn’t be as much fun, would it?

Wasted Weekends

I feel very strange things about this Monday morning. You see I didn’t do any of the things I wish I had done over the last weekend.

I feel very strange things about this Monday morning. You see I didn’t do any of the things I wish I had done over the last weekend. I had great plans to spend the time decorating the exterior of my house before the windows fall out due to the winter rains and frosts. Then I thought I might finally finish the clearing of the back garden so that some form of order is visible (again before the winter frosts come). No. I couldn’t do any of this because I went to sleep.

Instead of going late night drinking after seeing Taboo on Friday night, PY and I came home because I was exhausted (I don’t think anybody else really wanted a long drinking session either but that is not the point). I slept late, got up, had breakfast and started a few general household chores. Then I thought I would have forty winks. Unfortunately, I slept until 5pm and then realised that Saturday was gone. A whole weekend had then to be squashed into Sunday (where I stayed in bed late again) and I wasn’t very enthusiastic. I also had to have a late-Sunday brunch-style event in Notting Hill with some friends over from Australia. That was great (and seeing people who live outside London always make me crave space and forget the advantages of this great city) but I can’t believe I didn’t do anything very much around the house. I had such great plans.

So, that’s why I am now somewhat deflated. The weekend – which I look forward to like every other office-bound individual – turned out to be a let down. And now I am faced with another whole working week before I get some time off. And to cap it all, I will then have to do all last week’s little jobs as well as any new ones I come up with. I hate days like this and weekends like that! And I resent the fact that it is all my fault.

Elsewhere: Everything Taboo

I thought Taboo was fantastic and I wasn’t sure what to really expect. I think I had envisaged it as something akin to Closer To Heaven, but it wasn’t really like that at all. I loved the fact that The Venue is quite small and quite intimate which made you feel closer to the stage (and the audience bits help) and, of course, it brought memories flooding back (although I was watching events in the early-80s from the safety of the north).

I went to see Boy George’s Taboo last Friday and have been contemplating the blog entry ever since. I have to say that I thought that it was fabulous and I want to see it again (I even ordered the soundtrack last night!). It’s a fictional account of a lot of real people but most of the plot must be based on Boy George’s own life story as I recognised may of the characters and plot lines from his book Take It Like A Man. Obviously, he is a key (though not the central) character. I would thoroughly recommend to this anybody visiting London regardless of the way you feel about Boy George. It’s a strange time capsule of a musical and his songs are great – although several of them are old (some of which are taken from the under-rated album Cheapness and Beauty which I regard as one of the best of all time). The story is tender, the performances top-rate and the whole thing is laugh-out-loud funny (especially, Julian Clary). Lastmiunte.com often has cut-price tickets a few days before a show. Go see it. Often.

I also posted a review to the musical fan group at Yahoo! This is what I wrote:

I thought Taboo was fantastic – and I wasn’t sure what to really expect. I think I had envisaged it as something akin to Closer To Heaven, but it wasn’t really like that at all. I loved the fact that The Venue is quite small and quite intimate which made you feel closer to the stage (and the audience bits help) and, of course, it brought memories flooding back (although I was watching events in the early-80s from the safety of the north).

I am a big fan of Boy George’s more recent albums – Cheapness and Beauty is one of my all time favourites. When I heard some of the songs were being reworked for the show I was worried. Luckily, few have been re-penned and those that have been re-done are still as good as they are on the CD (although different). I was stunned by how much the mannerisms of the Boy George character seem to be like the Boy George we see on TV etc. It was a remarkable performance. Duncan Bennett as Billy was superb (was he really in the band Point Break? I don’t remember him) as well as being some appealing eye candy 😉 It was a thoroughly entertaining night out and I would recommend it to anybody.

Julian Clary was superb and, of course, looked stunning in those Leigh costumes. I would be interested to see how other people play the part as he put his own stamp on it without it seeming to be too Julian Clary.

I’ve ordered the CD – the cheapest I could find it was £10.99 at play.com – although it was on back order I notice tonight that they have posted it to me. I’m sure the CD doesn’t do the show justice (they rarely do) but I hope it will be brilliant anyway! Lastminute.com always seems to have discounts on top price tickets. I bought the cheaper seats direct from the box office and, to be honest, I think my view was as good as anybody with the more expensive ones (the theatre isn’t really large enough for it to make a difference). However, Lastminute’s discount seats are even cheaper and I shall certainly be going again.

[Links: BBC News – George breaks 80s Taboo | BBC News – Matt Lucas’s comic extremes | Guardian – We were so naughty | I Love the 80s]

Red Hair Hurts

There is often a story to be found in New Scientist that makes me smile – often for no obvious reason.

Today’s New Scientist news service reports people with red hair are more sensitive to pain and consequently need more anaesthetic during operations than other patients.

There is often a story to be found in New Scientist that makes me smile – often for no obvious reason. I don’t think this one is very funny but researchers have discovered that people with red hair are more sensitive to pain. What about people with limited amounts of hair?

America’s Fault

An interesting and somewhat heartfelt piece in The Guardian today

Before last weekend, liberal Australia felt the US had brought September 11 upon itself. But, says Clive James, the bombing in Bali has smashed that argument – and thrown his country in to the war against terror.

An interesting and somewhat heartfelt piece in The Guardian today: Guardian Unlimited | Clive James: Don’t blame the west

Shapes Made By Radio Waves

The Ministry Of Defence is interested in the technology that allows us all to be monitored by our mobile phones.

Well, according to a report in this weekend’s Observer newspaper, the Ministry Of Defence is interested in the technology that allows us all to be monitored by our mobile phones. Apparently, there are many positive uses of this ‘spy’ technology – following people on the move (walking or driving) and monitoring areas (nuclear power stations, roads etc.) when visibility is bad. Nobody seems to ask what happened if you loan you mobile ‘phone to somebody or (gasp) switch it off. Observer: How mobile phones let spies see our every move

Up Above The Streets And Houses

In case you’re wondering, my attempt to bring forth an avalanche of programmes from my childhood didn’t quite have the desired result.

In case you’re wondering, my attempt to bring forth an avalanche of programmes from my childhood didn’t quite have the desired result. However, Danny Baker on BBC London this morning did spend some time talking about Rainbow (fab title sequence here). Somehow, it doesn’t seem quite so much of a spooky coincidence as the whole Fame thing.

Awww

I was certainly right. I ached this morning. Almost every bone and several parts I didn’t really know that I had. It remains, however, a great feeling not to have spent the day indoors watching television on a wet Sunday afternoon. I tackled nature and although nature probably won in the end (watch as all my careful pruning results in a whole pile of dead plants by spring) it was a rewarding task. I don’t get to spend much time outdoors and I don’t to do much physical work. I am a desk-jockey and it probably isn’t that good for me. I never really wanted to be a desk bound. For me, sitting in an office all day has strange overtones of turning into my father. I have nothing against my Dad, I just never thought of myself as being a desk-based person but I am. I sit in front of a screen and type for most of the day. I guess that’s why I enjoyed the rain yesterday and, luckily, I don’t seem to have the cold I thought that amount of soggy clothing would bring on.

Starmaker, Dream Breaker

So it’s all getting a bit spooky. There I was on Friday night remembering the songs from the TV series of Fame (I preferred the TV series as it was much fluffier. Being so young, the grittiness of the film version didn’t hit me for several years) and remembering Danny as one of my childhood lust-objects (you used to be able to download your own Danny wallpaper here).

I spent yesterday doing all the boring things you have to do around the house occasionally. Cleaning. Paying bills etc. At some point I switched on VH1 to find it was their 100 Worst Videos day. And the song I switched on to? No 62 (I think) which was Starmaker, by the Kids from Fame (OK, it would have been a better story if it was Friday Night, but still)

So let’s see if I can tempt fate – I want to see more about the following: Play School, Rainbow, Harley Hare, The Clangers, Trumpton. How spooky would it be if this actually works?

It will aid my aching bones. I’ve been in the garden all day cutting down bushes and pruning. I was outside for the grand total of seven hours and it rained for most of them. Strangely, I feel invigorated by having spent the day outdoors. No doubt I shall ache tomorrow.

Friday Night’s Gonna Be Alright

Friday nigh’s gonna be alright.

Well in a few minutes I will, hopefully, be leaving the office. I have been here late most evenings and, to be honest, I am really looking forward to going home and sleeping. The air-conditioning in the office has been broken so we have gradually baked our way through today. I would he happy without the nonsense air-conditioning anyway, but all the windows have been sealed shut so that you can’t get any really fresh (well, fresh for London standards) air into your lungs. I have a weekend of hard, manual labour planned. I have to tame some of the wild growth in my garden. I can’t wait. Friday Night, as Danny (one of the Kids from Fame) once sang, is “gonna be alright”. I’m sure I remember that because I used to have a huge crush on Carlo Imperato.

Start shaking your hips
Baby pucker your lips
Cause I’m coming to see you soon

I must only have been about 10 years old!

Anyway, why you may ask do I spend ten minutes writing this? Well, our dumb systems are taking forever to do some processing and I am not going to sit here all night watching the screen!

Mussels

I used to work with most of these guys six or seven (if not more) years ago and we’ve all remained in contact ever since.

Last night I met up with some old work colleagues. I used to work with most of these guys six or seven (if not more) years ago and we’ve all remained in contact ever since. This is fantastic, especially for me as they were the first people (apart from some ex-University friends) who I met when I moved to London. We have, however, fallen into the trap of thinking we are all six or seven (if not more) years younger than we actually are and spend the evenings getting very drunk in various London drinking holes. We then wander like (drunken) startled rabbits around the West End looking for a post-closing curry. A fun, if somewhat painful, experience.

Well, not last night. Firstly, we added some extra people – friends of ex-colleagues – which made the night more interesting. Secondly, we decided to (this is all very grown up) to go out for a meal. And it was decided that we go to Belgos in Covent Garden. I had very little to do with the decision (in fact, to be honest, I never replied to that email so I have nothing to complain about) but the great thing is that I love Belgos. I’ve always enjoy the whole pots of mussels thing and make a sufficient mess to show that I have enjoyed the food.

And to add to that, there was the cutest waiter serving the table next to ours – which was all the better as he got to lean over and serve them. Ah, the joys of lust!

Ultimate Boy Band CD (1)

I am trying to compile the ultimate boy band CD and I am unsure where to start. Anyway, current thinking includes:

  1. N’Sync – Pop
  2. Take That – Relight My Fire
  3. Take That – Could It Be Magic
  4. F5ive – If Ya Gettin’ Down
  5. Backstreet Boys – Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)
  6. A1 – Same Old Brand New You

I shall now go away and think about it properly, updating as I go.