Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Wardrobe Watch | Day 5

Thanks to a hectic weekend I wasn’t able to do much on my ‘robes. Today I’ve had all morning to feel all manly with a variety of tools, wood glue and screws.
The result? Well despite following the instructions to the letter. (I’ve checked and double checked!) It appears there is a slight problem…

Yep. The drawers don’t fit. Back to the drawing board…

Monday, January 30, 2006

Wardrobe Wranglings

Ahh it’s been a saga of the new house for the last few months. Twice we tried having Wardrobes from Argos and twice they arrived damaged. So we’ve turned to MFI. Slighty more costly but hopefully better quality. Indeed they have the good sense of putting the product into a number of packages rather than cramming it into one.

Anyway the new ‘robes finally arrived on Friday. Sadly I’ve discovered that they are to be the biggest and most complicated flat packed assembly I have ever attempted. Instructions like ‘Insert fliboozle A into part 592 while rotating duringle Y with sprocket #2 are definitely not written to aid a quick build.

So how far have I got since Friday? We’ll I’m here:

As you can see the basic structure of Robe 1 is now assembled and it is indeed holding an item of clothing…. Sadly it’s missing doors, a number of drawers and some screws. (I'm still assembling the drawers. You wouldn't think they'd be that hard would you!) Robe 2 is currently downstairs still in packaging hogging the living room (the only decent space we have for storing such a big item.)

I will keep you updated on this mass construction project.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

It's Hard Being A SF Fan

Over the last few weeks we’ve had an explosion of Science Fiction on television. Never has the schedules creaked with the weight of so much programming pitched into my favourite genre. We’ve got the excellent Life On Mars, the return of the amazing Battlestar Galactica and Smallville. There’s the okish Invasion and The Eleventh Hour (which ITV insist is not SF – despite a loads of genre concepts.) Finally there’s the awful Hyperdrive. Never has a show with so much promise failed so spectacularly to be funny.

This SF televisual attack is accompanied by the reviews. Sadly, as ever it has provided the critics chance to trot out all those over used clich├ęs about SF fans. Caitlin Moran attacked Red Dwarf fans as the geeky I.T. type while A.A. Gill had a slightly more vicious swipe:

"The good thing about sci-fi, is that it attracts unarguably the least discriminating, the most tunnel-visioned yet loyal audience of any oeuvre in any medium... People who read sci-fi read little else. Star Wars fans are a weird closed society, bearable only to each other."

So what if I read little else? I like what I like. I've read and enjoyed Dickens, I've read Of Mice & Men and Pride & Prejudice but none of it grabs me like SF does.

And what of the television? Just because I don't rot my brain in front of utter dross like Eastenders or the latest football match as the masses do - i.e. the 'norm' and 'socially acceptable' I'm deemed as a deviant.

How can Star Wars be a closed society? It's one of the biggest cultural phenomenon’s of the 20th century - completely redefining cinema for a whole generation.

In fact he seems to ignore the fact that apart from Sudoku and the Rubix Cube many of the big cultural influences over the last fifty years have been SF based. We've had the X-Files, Star Wars and Star Trek. All adding buzzwords and phrases to the lexicon. Dr Who has forever changed the way a nation feels about 1950's Police Boxes and pepper pots. We've had a boy wizard and a quest for a ring. Every summer Channel 4 grabs viewers with Big Brother - a concept straight from a 1948 SF novel. Also every summer cinemas are overrun with the blockbusters – many being SF. (In fact out of the top 20 highest grossing movies of all time 16 are science fiction.)

Going back to his quote about SF fans reading little else. Why would we need to? It’s such an open genre. It’s not restricted to any setting or era. It can be a Western, a romance or a Thriller. It has everything. Also read other literature you’ll normally find the story to be enclosed. A neat little package centred around one or two characters in a few locations. Once you’ve finished it’s normally all wrapped up with nothing left to chew over.

SF grabs the reader. It makes you question life and existence. The plots aren’t normally about whether Miss Elaine will get her wicked but blushing way with Mr Larcy and little else. Instead they challenge religion, death, & society. Sometimes you can leave a SF book with unanswered questions but still find it rewarding.

I know exactly which tunnel A.A. Gill is getting his vision from – perhaps he should pull his head out of it.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Down In The Mouth

I’ve had the same dentist since I can remember. She’s spent 24 years moulding my mouth. Imagine then my disappointment when she left the Florida House, Hereford Practice. (Though I suspect she was pushed.) The sensible thing would have been the hiring of a new dentist to take on her existing clients. They didn’t. Instead the practice decided to divide her clients between the two remaining dental surgeons. They couldn’t cope. Twice I’ve had by six-month check up cancelled and moved but this week came the final straw. I arrived for my 6 months check up (13 months since my last) to be told I am no longer a patient.

“We’ve taken about 2000 people of our books, you should have received a letter.” Said the girl on reception. (I hadn’t received a letter by the way.)

“What was the criteria to be removed from you books?” I asked.

“None, just completely random.”

So despite never missing an appointment some random person in my dental practice has decided that I will no longer get decent oral hygiene. Someone has decided how healthy I will be without even bothering to actually ask me. Computer really has said ‘no’.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

The Art Of Noise

In 25 years of life I’ve been lucky. I’ve never had the problems of noisy neighbours.

OK there was once the time, in my Hall Of Residence days at uni when I could clearly hear my neighbour in the throes of orgasm but when you’re 19 and she’s mildly attractive it really isn’t a problem. There was also the time at Flat 4 when the person above seemed to be tacking his carpet down at 3 am in the morning. The rhythmic tapping slowly moving across the ceiling.

In the last two nights however we’ve had neighbour noise. The thing is, they’ve been very comical. At 1.30am yesterday morning we discovered that next door obviously isn’t unoccupied as a loud row broke out. Cries of ‘Stupid Girl!’ in a Spanish accent were heard while Turkish shouting back echoed through the walls in relpy. It was a full-blown domestic and rather than slap the wall in anger I was drawn in. It was gripping stuff but ended with the female voice protesting to just ‘let her go to sleep’. (Tut tut – you should never go to sleep on an argument. Haven’t you ever read Clare Rayner!?)

This morning was bizarre, and from a different house. At approximately 3am I went down to get a drink. I could hear music but didn’t know where from. It wasn’t from either of ‘nextdoors’. Returning to the bedroom I eased open the window to have my ears assaulted with the very loud sounds of Irish Folk Music. (Good to see our double glazing works though, it was doing a damn fine job at stopping the sound!) I listened in pure bemusement as the song proclaiming support for Protestants drifted across the night. The sound was coming from the next street – I’m guessing the house whose light was on. I could hear the occasional muffled banging of irritated neighbours. What did I do? I laughed. At 3am the last sort of loud music you expect is Irish Folk. Perhaps party anthems or dance? It was the sounds of either a house party gone very wrong or a pissed up old Irishman remembering the good old days. After a while he obviously got the message of repeated banging and the music died away.

They say stuff comes in threes. So tomorrow at 2am I’m looking forward to the Salvation Army just opposite us digging out their tubas and encouraging the street into a belated and highly ironic rendition of ‘Silent Night’.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Liberal Decision?

So farewell Charles Kennedy, leader of the Liberal Democrat party. Once again proof that honesty is the last thing on politician’s minds. How refreshing that political figure admits he has a problem, a personal frailty. It was good to see him open and honest – being human. How predictable that his party instantly turned against him. It would make such a nice change to have an honest man as leader. Blair is allowed to get away with his WMD lies and nine years of relentless spin yet one man admits he is leading a brave fight against a personal illness and he is instantly dismissed.

Welcome to the fair world of politics…

Monday, January 02, 2006


Alas the time has come. On the 1st Jan 2006 at approximately 7.15pm my iPod mini passed away. It wasn’t a peaceful passing. It was accompanied by a strange whirring sound and a sad face screen. Now, when plugged in it becomes unusually hot. Despite trying the 5Rs I was unable to rescue poor mini Pod from oblivion.

It’s been used well – many DJ gigs have benefited from its existence it’s even saved me when one of my CD players died a while back. Anyway I decided to log on for a service and discovered that apple would charge me £130 for the privilege.

So here’s the dilemma. If I’m spending that much I might as well buy a new one. (Which, no doubt, is Apple’s plan all along.) In doing so I lose my iPod mini (which is no longer produced) and have to opt for either a nano. (Far too small and flimsy looking for my liking.) Or a video iPod. (Very sexy.)

But there’s another problem. I no longer have the disposable income I used to have. So can I justify buying this luxury item? It does help at Djing but if I have all the CD’s anyway what’s the point? Hmm I can listen to it in my pocket walking round town – sure but my phone has an FM radio which I can (and often do) use.

Oh well. Farewell iPod mini. You will be missed.