March 25, 2006

We can't return, we can only look behind from where we came …

… and go round and round and around in the circle game.

I was forced to accompany my mother to one of her dull job analysis marathons, which turned out to be at my old school. As I opted to stay in the car I was treated to 2 hours of watching the world go by where once were the preliminary acts of my adulthood played out. As I watched the sixth form car park it was a galaxy away and like no time had passed at all. Here was the outhouse I first met Stephen in, butterflies and sparks for the next 3 years … there was Tim and Tawnie walking out to the village shop in search of any Xtremeness that Guilsborough post-office might muster … there was Adam driving to meet Kieth in the car that would one day be mine … and inside Alice, Dan, Ryan, Lianne, Poorna, Tawnie, the Two Tim's and I sat round our table in the study room and studiously talked about irrelevant crap. And I thought, how I miss that convergent point of geography and history.

And who should come trotting across the carpark but little Charles Sutherland-Kay, the awkward oboe player now 6 foot 2, as genial as he ever was and otherwise unchanged. I believe tonight, on msn, I had the best conversation of recent weeks when he told me about his infectious disease topic in A-level biology.

Little Charles – with all his eloquence and his good heart – and all the other small people now grown up and leading the school orchestras: where has the time gone?

March 22, 2006

Van Morrison

We were lucky enough to be able to go and see Van Morrison on St Patrick's day eve in Birmingham. What a voice! There is something about it's timbre, it's quality and it's … bigness that suggests a strapping big bloke but he is actually a dinky little thing of Ronnie Corbett proportions. I say again, what a voice. There's not many people who can equal nowadays their sound on CD but Van Morrison is actually even better in the flesh. He's a grumpy sod allegedly, and it's true that he never said a word to the crowd. The point is, he doesn't need to. He didn't sing anything from his new country album, which was a little surprising, but I suppose when you are of Van Morrison's calibre there is no need to advertise or plug.

And as it was St Patrick's day we were treated to an encore of "Star of the County Down", which was simply amazing. Like the whole performance. What was equally amazing was that people – stupid, ignorant people – actually talked through the whole thing! Two airheaded bimbos in front (obviously dragged along by male accomplices) could not have made their disinterest plainer. Quite apart from the fact that this dude is mind-numbingly good at what he does, why pay £35 for a seat when it's just background music for a vapid and irritating conversation? How I ached to bang their empty heads together. Happily some hardcore fan in front of them – with the Van the Man hat and everything, the sort who could say what they were doing when they first listened to a certain album – shut them up for us. A true hero.

March 11, 2006

Yay F1 2006

I'm looking forward to this F1 season simply because I no longer work Sundays and can now watch it.

I had reservations about the new qualifying format but approached it with hope in my heart because frankly the one-at-a-time format was unimaginably dull and thus anything would be an improvement by default. I am pleased to report a +3000% level of interest and excitement for Max's latest jazzing up the sport project – how I have missed the last-minute jostle! – although just going back to the original 1 hour 12 laps would be just fine by me.

And – heaven be praised! – Tony Jardine is gone. I was quite attached to Jim Rosenthal so I'm a bit sorry to see him go; why oh why have ITV not got rid of James Allen? I appreciate the difficulties of commentating generally, especially in, for example, F1's dull moments but his habit of stating the blindingly obvious is quite grating. Additional Note to James Allen: mistakes are only endeaing when they come from Murray Walker!

February 25, 2006

Rainy Days and Mondays

It was one of those dismal days that preceeds an exciting event in a novel but unfortunately not in my life.

Life can be so disappointing sometimes. One day you're walking through the park of a beautiful winters eve with Andrew and thinking it doesnt matter if you aren't happy again for the rest of the year, and just a short while later you're sitting home alone watching CSI New York and its cold and your wisdom teeth hurt and you haven't seen him for two weeks and wonder if if he really cares at all and if it's because you just aren't good enough.

At times like this, one's hand automatically reaches for the David Gray CD and 'repeat' button, but I don't think things are quite that desperate yet.

February 08, 2006

Seeking Alisa Saunders

If anyone knows, or knows of, an Alisa Saunders (she'd be 21 now) who lived in Northampton for at least a while I'd really like to know. We were friends at primary school & lost touch, but I still wonder how shes getting on almost every day. Don't know how much she's changed in intermittant years but she was into dancing and acting, and played assorted instruments. Oh and has double joints. Long shot I know! Please email me at if you have any info

October 26, 2005

Thoughts on an F1 season

It was the Chinese grand prix last weekend – the first in the location and the last in the season. I canít speak with any authority on the 2005 season as I missed most races owing to job commitments, which is to say I had one. But here are my impressions.

1) Maclaren
I get steadily more impressed by Kimi Raikkonen, pain me though it does to side with Ron Dennis. When they were team-mates at Sauber I rated Nick Heidfelt above Kimi and thought Maclaren had picked the wrong dude, but Iím pleased to be wrong in this instance. In previous seasons Kimi has been the unluckiest driver I believe Iíve ever encountered (Mercedes are mostly to blame for this) so I truly hope he gets the championship next season. And heís buff.

Montoya was a disappointment. Iíve said this across the seasons, but the guy wonít be a great driver until he proves it for periods longer than about 3 laps. In the words of my sole F1 buddy ďfair play, he puts himself out there, if he could just stay on the track more often thatíd be awsomeĒ. And Jenson Button – yes! still average!

2) Michael Schumacher
Michael has had a pretty crummy season by his standards. It doesnít matter because the guy has nothing to prove. There are still whispers of Valentino Rossi taking Michaelís seat when he retires. It would certainly be a popular decision – Italian chassis, engine, driver – and it would be interesting to see. But regardless of who takes over no-one can take anything away from Schumacher. Heís driven some of the most breath-taking races Iíve ever witnessed – two that I particularly recall are Spain 1994 where he built up such a lead that he drove 2/3 race distance without 5th gear and still finished second; and some wet race back in the mid-90s when he won by staying out on slicks in a veritable Monsoon, thus avoiding two pit-stops when the track dried up some laps later. People forget it because itís said so often, but he is one of the greatest racing drivers ever.

This season went wrong because, in large part, to the tyres and car, which was simply not good enough. I donít know why anyone is surprised by this. All this fuss about Ferrari killing f1, and all the subsequent stupid rule changes … there is always a dominant team. Anyone who has any clue whatsoever about F1 could have told you that the Ferrari winning monopoly would end in the natural Brownian motion of the F1 hierarchy.

3) New Regulations & The Racing Experience
Admittedly it got dull for a couple of seasons (and Iíll be frank here, sometimes the most interesting part of the race weekend was the opening theme music). But every race canít be an edge-of-your-seat thriller, so there was no need for some of the more bizarre regulations introduced. Someone – I forget who, but some famous F1 bod of yore at any rate – said that the ideal f1 car should hold together until it crosses the finish line then collapse in a heap of carbon fibre/tungsten rubble. Engines lasting for 6 races? No no no no NO!

Oh, I know they masquerade it as cost-cutting for the smaller teams. Quite aside from the fact that Jordan, Minardi and Sauber are no more (at least not in their current format) some of the so-called Ďcost-cuttingí ideas proposed by Mosely and co are surely going to add expense? OK so you may not have to buy so many tyres – but what about replacing the cars wrecked as a result of crashes from severly-worn tyres? How about all the extra money thatíll have to be ploughed into developing tyres that will last a race distance? And a less powerful V8 engine – yeah, because its obviously not going to cost millions in development costs for a total change of engine format, right Max?

4) Perpetrators Of New Regulations
Ah, Max, Bernie … still here are you?

5) A Fanís View
In terms of entertainment this year was a big improvement on previous seasons. This wasnít hard. But we have had some exciting viewing – Japan last week for instance – and some great racing. There are just two points I wish to raise.

Firstly, a review of the 2005 season would not be complete without addressing Indianapolis – a crime against all fans of the sport. I will not discuss this atrocity in detail (previous rants can be found under entries for last spring) but only say that arrangements should have been in place for such a scenario and hundreds and thousands of fans not left out in the cold to watch a parade of 6 cars. I sincerely hope, for the sake of the sport, that they are in place now.

I also wish to mention in passing the disgrace that F1 is still on ITV. Its not so much the channel I object to – though lord knows they should have got rid of Tony Jardine last millenium and James Allen should never be allowed in the commentary box again – but the channelís treatment of F1. I donít care what ITV bosses say, advert breaks are NOT compulsory: Iím sure they wouldnít dream of disrupting even the most boring and trifling little football match for tedious minutes of engine oil and razor commercials. Hereís an idea – if they have to show a given quota of ads why not lump them all together in place of Jardineís pre-race waffle? Us fans would be happy to make this small sacrifice.

Well, thats my 2 pence, value for money given that Iíve only seen 3 races! If anyone reads this and gets to the end before falling into a coma, Iíd be interested to have some comments more informed than mine.

September 21, 2005

Girl Meets Boy 2005 Revised

Girl has decided to stop being so pathetic and Dawsons Creek-esque about everything as Boy is just being a person and doing what he thinks is best, like everyone else.

September 14, 2005

Boy meets girl 2005

Boy meets girl, boy leaves girl, girl mildly attracted to boy and sends comminique telling him of this but carefully worded so as not to sound desperate or stalkerish. Girl never hears from boy again. Girl is very cross and couldn't care less if boy is busy / has (boy)girlfriend / is holidaying on the moon as there is no excuse for such flagrant lack of manners – except possibly death and even then I wouldn't be sure.

July 15, 2005

Weird People You Fancy

As a proud reader – nay, conisseur – of Heat! I gained particular enjoyment this week in their article about, you guessed it, the strange people that we fancy. Heat – and Big Brother – are so low that they actually bend space-time back on itself and are at the top of the entertainment heap, so I'm allowed to be into them.

It seemed to be a girly thing since all the nominations were male, and I must admit there were some surprises in there. Boris Johnson? No no no no NO! And Bob Geldof – I think we all know my views on him, imagine it, you'd be sitting down to a nice dinner and before you'd taken your first forkful he'd have whisked it away and posted it off to Africa. Apart from that, there were the standard "Diarmund Gavin"s, "Jack Black"s (I knew I wasn't alone!) and that little chap from Top Gear.

I was thinking about the weirdest person I've ever fancied – sorry, weirdest celebrity, because frankly my taste has always been a bit off the wall regarding people I actually know, usually someone totally unsuitable like a friend's dad or the school geek or the overtly gay dude who I don't realise is gay, that sort of thing – and think it is probably Aled Jones. More than shocked when I was tuning into Songs of Praise every week for this one, but anyone who witnessed him on Strictly Come Dancing could not fail to be grasped by his excellent sense of humour, michevious sense of fun, and the overall sense that he is actually quite fanciable. I was also (rightly) mocked for my Paul Scholes thing. At the moment I'm quite into that actor Caruso, who plays Horatio in CSI Miami – well seasoned and oh-so-good at looking mournfully into middle distance.

I don't think ANYONE tops my housemate, Charlotte. What kind of person fancies Jeremy Paxman? Is it touching the realms of insanity to have a picture of a naked – yes, thats naked – Alan Rickman draped around a Greek statue as your desktop wallpaper? I THINK SO!

July 09, 2005

Changing Rooms, the Gina way.

I have extended by DIY vocabulary – previously painting walls and other flat surfaces, so not a huge repetoire – to removing rusted on toilet seats and assembling flat-pack drawers. The instructions to these were confusing to an untold degree. Provided with pre-cut wood, screws and an allan key you wouldn't think it to be complicated but I'm afraid it it so. Who writes these instructions, Stevie Wonder?? In the end we just used lots of wood glue and hoped for the best, which seemed to work fine. Less blind faith was employed for the baby's cot, however, which was assembled with considerably more care and extra nails. But it all looked quite neat in the end. Not bad for a first attempt, and at least when I come to do my own I won't balls it up cos I've had some practice. Also, I've got swearing down to a fine art :)

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