All entries for August 2005

August 24, 2005

One Dutch Week In July

Bonkers, absolutely bonkers.

Sure, every country has its myriad of stereotypes and myths. But I never for one moment believed that anywhere would conform to quite so many. In conclusion I am totally baffled by Holland.

Wooden tulips!

The end…

Alright, so that's not quite the conclusion (jeez citizens, you ever seen me do a short blog entry?) so I think I might explain.

Bikes

They all ride bikes. No seriously, every angle is covered, from all sides they flow. You look right, then left, then right again before crossing the cycle path and you still only narrowly avoid getting hit by one. Or twenty.

I couldn't figure out why the car users defied the laws of European driving by being neither continental (i.e. French, Spanish, Italian and driving too fast with road signs as mere suggestions rather than laws) nor anglo-saxon (sure you keep broadly (ish) to the laws but you do so sullenly and with only your hardwired politeness to prevent you from mowing down all and sundry).

However, if you lived in fear of the cyclists you'd drive politely too. You would. I guess it only works that way because the country is totally designed for bikes, cycle lanes everywhere and plenty of places to park bikes. Plus there were so many, and they were all so similar, that there's probably no point stealing a bike as it'll only be the same as the one you already own. Nice plan. There were even plenty of opportunities to rent a bike for the day which is great for tourists who want to get around cheaply, heathily and like the locals. I'm afraid I had to pass on account of having legs which refuse to go anywhere near a bike at all.

Bikes. Shitloads of them.

The Food

Not generally amazing but not bad by any means. I'm not a fussy eater or a vegetarian so I wasn't stuck at any stage, it's just that I can't really remember many of the meals I ate which suggests nothing good or bad… with one exception. The cheese. Mmm.

I cannot explain why I like cheese so much but the gouda, the edam, the lot. Yum. I came home loaded not with sweets and curiously coloured alcoholic drinks (actually that's a lie, I did) but with cheeses. Not entirely sure of what my parents made of their twenty year old daughter running round cheese shops like a six year old in the sweetie aisle of the newsagents, but they didn't laugh too much. It's their own faults really. And yes, it is damn fine with cheese and wine shops everywhere. Like some middleclass dinner party mecca.

Flat

I like flat. I don't do inclines, hence Holland is roughly 40 million times better than the Lake District. And best of all, to make it interesting there are windmills. Shitloads of them. Don Quixote wouldn't know what hit him. They make good landmarks to navigate by. Except when there's lots of them, then you get confused and end up like me and Ex-Housemate:Els did that time we went looking for Niamh who was "in Stratford by the tower." How were we supposed to know there are 3184090115 towers in Stratford? Well, for every Stratford tower, there are 40 Dutch windmills.

Anyway, the flatness of it all means they can build really cool buildings which won't fall over or be wonky or require much engineering nous. Cool buildings include the two below. The one on the left is Rembrandt's house which included a pretty bloody interesting mock up of how it was when he lived there. I'm an art lover, albeit a contrary one, my mum and dad are proper art fans, and my brother may not know art but he knows what's boring, and for once everyone liked it. It's a good one as there's context, paintings by those who Rembrandt liked and patronised, as well as his really cool room of stuff.

The other house (below right) was just a cool house. Imagine living there.

or

Of course the houses weren't as cool as the really big old buildings like the palace in the centre of town.

The People

Were all helpful in that nice genuine way which is so rare. Being used to the British sullenness, American 'have-a-nice-day' at all costs and the French indifference, I found the Dutch attitude quite refreshing. Must be a small country thing, it's fairly similar in Ireland (except for the parts which don't like the English for historical reasons).

And yes they do all speak better English than we do.

The Place Itself… Odd

So in conclusion go to Holland. Here are some small things I noticed whilst over there which amused me.

A sign on a butcher's door. I don't know if it's possible to make out the chicken's eyes which are little crosses like a cartoon character would have.

Well quite. The showers there were in general very good.

The stereotype of the Dutch/German metal fan is artfully illustrated here. Do they have more words for metal than the Inuit have for snow? I couldn't say but what I can say is that, according to this market stall, Deep Purple are both "Heavy Metal" and "Very Metal". Intriguing.

Holland
Amsterdam
The Hague/Den Haag
Leiden


August 23, 2005

The 99p Eurozone Distaster In The Making!

Writing about web page http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/08/23/99_pence_coin/

In the week that Tory Euro-lover and general all round cigarette person, Ken Clarke declared that the Euro wasn't as good as having warm kittens sit on your feet on a cold November evening, another more terrifying thought is sweeping through the minds of anyone who reads this to the end and then thinks about it.

A report on website The Register suggests that a third of British people want a 99p coin to alleviate the chaos created by mountains of penny pieces generated because companies think we are too stupid to realise that £3.99 isn't just £4.00 with a tiny, inconsequential reduction. Obviously if A level standards continue to fall in line with the rate the Daily Mail believes they are falling at then in 15 years time our children will be too stupid to realise there is a difference between £3.99 and £4.00, as well as being unable to tie their shoelaces, speak English or eat soup properly (though they'll stil be able to write for the Daily Mail).

Apparently £133m is lost in small change every year. Whilst this is currently just a nuisance, as most of it is stored in bottles, sofas and socks, it could in fact become the biggest disaster of all time ever.

How, I hear you ask?

Well if everyone who gets these piddly coins saves them, which more often than not they do, then there must be hundreds of millions of pounds out there in small coins. Or large piles of small coins. Tonnes and tonnes of them. Currently we are safe because people cash them at irregular intervals but what if everyone changed them at the same time? What if there was some event which rendered them obselete but with a warning period for people to ignore and only do some in the last possible week? Say if we changed currency?

Yes people! If we change to the Euro the entire country will fall apart. Banks will grind to a halt as people bring tonnes and tonnes (or possibly tons and tons, I cannot be arsed to remember which one is metric) of slightly smelly copper coloured metal through the doors. Sofas everywhere will be uprooted and looted from living rooms and gardens and rubbish tips. The nation's one penny sweets will run out. Obviously this, in combination with falling A level standards, Big Brother, and people who aren't white, middle class Anglo-Saxons being allowed into Britain, will cause the End Of CivilisationTM.

Why has no one thought of this before?

What is the government going to do to stop it?

Won't someone please think of the children?

In conclusion the Euro is clearly a device designed to cripple our fair nation whilst the EU secretly sends hordes of Luxembourg and Andorran troops into the country to occupy us and force us to measure weight in decimal units of 10, 100 and 1000 instead of logical units like 12, 14 and 16… not that our children can add up in 16s that easily but, as we all know, that's the fault of falling A level standards. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to write more hysterical Daily Mail articles and learn my 99 times tables.

99, 198, 297, 396, 495, 594, 693, 792, 891, 990… erm… shit.


August 22, 2005

Classic Warwick Error

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/4168124.stm

Oh no!

The BBC* have declared that house prices are rising exponentially in university towns. Disaster! Now I will be certain to end up in a cardboard box, overqualified and underfed.

Calm down.

Oh wait, good news. Not all towns are afflicted, in fact some of the top 20 aren't affected in the slightest. Like London, Oxford, Guilford and Warwick…

Erm, would that be the Warwick which has no university in it?

Yes, that Warwick. This BBC article had once again managed to get confused by the cunning Warwick plan to remain hidden from view, safe from prying eyes and able to extort money from its pisshead students at will. Though obviously you'd expect better from our national station.

One day later.

Oddly the BBC article now carries no mention of Warwick and its prices. Do you think someone told them somthing?

*Memo to self, get TV license.


August 20, 2005

Un Año

And thus a year passed in which Holly E.* Cruise wrote much in her blog which was of minimal interest to anyone, including herself. It did not improve her spelling, nor did it reign in her habit of using a twatty pretentious word where a simple one would do, or indeed using a swearword when there was really no need for an adult to do that (tut).

Now I know what you're thinking subliminal messages** and we're thinking the same. What is this blog all about? Well the good news is I've decided to bring you right up to date with what this blog has done in the last year…

August 2004

After fighting a mighty battle against the very suggestion of doing something constructive, Holly, a pasty faced goalkeeper of uncertain accent, got a blog, a newfangled device for recording and storing brainshite so the user's brain can be saved for other more important thoughts like "where did I leave the cat?", "what time is the cat?" and "why am I thinking about cats, I don't own one?".

The first post managed to be annoyingly self referential, contain an analogy of Stalinism, a whinge about the trains and a starred out swear word. Precedent set, it then expanded into a series of rants about slow things (trains and Paula Radcliffe at the Olympics) before revealing the government's biggest ever secret. That last bit might be a lie.

September 2004

Moving into a house for the first time, starting university again, progressing on the path the grownup life… you'd have thought such things would make more impact. Instead I attempted to teach the world how to play bass guitar and spread the word "arsebiscuit" to the general population. Recent surveys have shown no increase in British bass playing abilities and the dictionary does not include the word "arsebiscuits" though my dictionary doesn't have "quim" or "multiculturalism" so I don't know whether that's a success or a failure on my part.

October 2004

Attempts to use my blog for humanitarian purposes backfired and resulted in a large swathe of Lincolnshire being occupied by a slightly perplexed Norwegian army. How this chain of events came about is to be chronicled in and upcoming film starring Linsay Lohan, Shane McGowan from The Pogues and the irritating one who was in 'Spooks'. This film will be crap.

This month also saw the legendary Welcome To Westwood entry which I'm assured still pisses off Westwood students to this day. Guys, it's meant to be ironic#.

November 2004

My writing sucked for the duration of this month. Don't bother reading it.

December 2004

As well as my part time job as Santa's tallest and most easily distracted elf I somehow managed to use my blog to bring down the government of Britain. However as this had preceisely no impact because everyone was Christmas shopping at the time, I put the government back almost exactly as I found it with the only difference being a switched David Blunkett for Davros from Dr Who. A grand total of two people noticed but as those two people were Reeves And Mortimer everyone thought it was another of their surreal jokes and I got away with it.

I also wrote some shite about student cooking which overlooked the fact I cannot cook and the whole thing was faked using play dough.

January 2005

I wrote some political stuff. As a result I was pelted with snow. Now I think about it the two things might not be related. I also wrote about migraines which has made me an unlikely zzz-list celeb in the world of people who suffer from unnecessary head agony. This resulted in further snow pelting. I laughed when the snow melted.

February 2005

This month I was awarded an Oscar for a grand total of 15 minutes after which they realised I wasn't Penelope Cruz, and in fact they didn't even want to give her an Oscar anyway. So in revenge I took Nicole Kidman hostage but nobody noticed because she'd already made so many films that they just kept on releasing them till I let her go.

In blog terms this was the month I acquired a number of mysterious anonymous fans, most of whom claimed to be football girls from other unis. All claimed to have scored against me, which would be implausible if it wasn't for the case that most female footballers between Oxford and Crewe have scored against me.

March 2005

Don't tell airport security that you've got "weapons" in reference to you boobs. Those who know me will know who I'm referring to and might even have seen my face as she said it. This month I didn't get deported. But it was close.

In addition we all learned the true meaning of Christmas which was a waste of time as it was March… although according to this book I read once they moved Christmas to the December winter solstice from March to convince to pagans that Christianity was a good religion, or at the very least better than the one with the druids which was all about old men in faintly odd robes conducting weird rituals in dead languages…

April 2005

There was General Election thingy in May so I used April to inflict 'politics' on people. The people thanked me and I was well ahead in the opinion polls for the entirety of April until I found out that actually the people hadn't read the political stuff, they just liked the pretty cartoons and the continuing references to Paula Radcliffe, who by this point had remembered that she's the best runner in the world and won a marathon complete with wee break. As a runner with a weak bladder I applaud this fine example.

In reality I was impressed that people wanted to debate stuff on the political posts. It restored a tiny smidgeon of my bruised faith in humanity, in a wooly, left-of-centre, 'liberal is not a dirty word'## insulated studenty way. Then a comedy post about the papacy got more comments and I realised seriousness never wins because it's not funny enough.

May 2005

Revision ate my brain.

In other news a series of posts about history, inspired by my revision became inexplicably popular, proving that all you need to teach history are bad drawings and rude words. And bumsex. Everyone likes stories about bumsex~.

June 2005

Thinking it couldn't get any worse than revision eating my brain, I was surprised to find it could get worse and that exams ate not just my brain but my soul and, more importantly, my right hand as well. Thus crippled I plumbed new depths of irrelevant observations, obtuse references and polysyllabic pretentiousness of the kind which means I often get accused of being "posh" despite having the accent of an itinerant working class immigrant (which is kind of the case).

July 2005

With the exam period over, and with me not having been deaded by the process, I made a decision to write cutting edge, incisivce and rivetting blog entries. Then the sun came out and I had icecream and I wrote about music instead. I like icecream. It's horribly bad for you but it's so delicious and sweet and comes in all sorts of flavours… wow, this really is the sort of cutting edge, incisive and rivetting stuff you were hoping for isn't it?

That'll teach you to have expectations about this blog.

August 2005

And verily, the Hollyzone continues, just another blog, updated more frequently than the majority, but less elegantly than the glitterati. Perhaps one day there will be a correctly spelt entry. Perhaps soon will see the beginning of a pattern in the content. Maybe I'll get a goddam life and never write here again.

Funnily enough today is also my mum's birthday. She is 54 years older than the blog but you can't upload pictures onto her. Therefore blogs are more multimedia than parents… and it only took a whole bloody year for us to reach that conclusion. Don't you love long journeys that go nowhere?

160 entries in a year. 1300 comments posted. Three guaranteed laughs. Eleven players on a football team. Four strings on a bass... and the feeling that this was probably, on balance, a bloody good idea.

*It stands for E.

** What is this blog all about?

#In the actual sense of the word, not the Alanis Morrisette version, or the irritating student version.

##Or is it?
~Ask me about Richard II.


August 18, 2005

Mon Frere

Yes!

As we drown now in a sea of headlines proclaiming that the A level results rise is the result of dumbing down for the idiot generation, I have decided to declare age war.

Old people who complain about A level results, pay attention!

  • We, the young, get better grades because we are smarter than you.
  • We, the young, get better grades because we are inherently superior coming, as we do, from a more advanced stage of human evolution.
  • We, the young, get better grades because we don't really remember the 1980s and aren't still in shock form what was considered fashion then.
  • We, the young, get better grades because we are all, permanently connected to the internet by broadband and have absorbed all knowledge, ever.
  • We, the young, get better grades because we like accumulating letters more, hence all our ASBOs.
  • We, the young, get better grades because we are being taught by you and if you think you're so smart then maybe you're smartness has translated into good teaching and that's helping us?
  • We, the young, get better grades because we have more exams,under more pressure than anyone ever in the universe, from an early age. It's called practise.
  • We, the young, get better grades because we have more shoes.
  • We, the young, get better grades because we you brought us up and this is your fault.

  • We, the young, get better grades because it pisses off the old, especially in fuddy-duddy Rightist newspapers, that anyone who is young can possibly achieve anything, and we want to stand and laugh as you scramble around looking for whatever pathetic excuses you can to stave off your impending and utter obsolescence.

Well done to my brother who got his uni place today. Ignore the doubters, they're just jealous.

"Because all they know is how to put you down... Cos you know what they mean, they're just jealous, cos they'll never do the things that they that they could do so well"
Razorlight 'Golden Touch'


August 17, 2005

In A Previous Life I Was Someone Evil

I had a dentist's appointment yesterday at 3.40pm.

Last week I decided instead to go to London, so I rearranged the dentist's appointment for the earliest possible date that I would be back in Cheshire.

That date was 20th December 2005.

Yesterday I spent the entire day in severe pain as my wisdom tooth decided to inflate my lower jaw and start pushing against my other teeth and my ear.

I'm not sure how the latter part works but the pressure in my ears won't balance, I can't yawn without pain, anything more than a giggle is inadvisable and soft food is the only option.

I think the word I'm looking for here is…

Bollocks!


August 14, 2005

Gold Medal For Paula

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/athletics/4150694.stm

Gold.

Fucking yeah!

[insert another monologue about the general greatness of Paula Radcliffe]

This year I am definitely getting myself into a race of some description, there's no point having a hero and not even trying to emulate them in some way.

Holly's running – 14/08/05

Currently capable of doing about 3 miles in 30 minutes without completely knackering self. Good but has been standard for about 6 months now.

Plan by December Either be doing do 3 miles consistently in 24 minutes or doing 4 miles in 38 minutes. Tough task…


August 13, 2005

What Is Multiculturalism?

To read one section of society, it is the end of all we hold dear. It's going to breed terrorism and hate, breaking down western democracy from within and making us an oppressed, violent and divded people. Or is it the future? The quickest and easiest way to a rainbow, liberal paradise where we all live in perfect harmony, understanding and celebrating our differences? Well it could be either or neither or both. There's just one thing that annoys me about the whole debate - what the hell is multiculturalism?

First stop: dictionary.com. From here we get the following little nuggets:

  1. Of, relating to, or including several cultures.
  2. Of or relating to a social or educational theory that encourages interest in many cultures within a society rather than in only a mainstream culture.
  3. the doctrine that several different cultures (rather than one national culture) can co-exist peacefully and equitably in a single country

with nationalism given as its antonym.

Argh!

The first definition is vague but accurate, the word's linguistic purpose stripped of all the shit that's attached to it. A nice pure example of latin words mangled, via Norman French, middle English, etc, to modern English. Just a word with a calm definition.

Clearly ain't what people bang on about then, is it? Just a word? No chance!

Alright, the second and third definitions are more like the ones which cause blood pressure to rise in both Left and Right, so what's the answer there? Ambiguous. Or not. In fact both are quite reasonably clear definitions, the trouble is that they are both quite different, and both liable to get different people's pulses racing.

Now the Right wing press's grievance appears to be with the third definition, the many cultures in one place. Now obviously the dictionary definition appears to stress the word peacefully in it's description of the co-existance. So surely this begs the question, does a situation with British men blowing themselves up on trains really conform to an idea of multiculturalism? Surely this violence shows that multiculturalism is not the enemy because it has already, by definition, failed? I suppose (and I don't believe this myself, I'm playing devil's advocat) that you could call multiculturalism the new appeasement, an attempt to stop the inevitable which only made one side view the other as weak.

I'm not convinced. I think that it may even have been a dam, delaying the problems we now face though not stopping them. In any case I prefer to use the second definition of the word as I believe that in that form multiculturalism has been around for centuries and is an inevitable good thing. It is this that we should reposition multicuturalism as, an acceptance of non-mainstream allied with the mainstream itself. The success rate on this island is ridiculously high! Who, apart from a few stupid racists, really wants to get rid of all the fantastic things that mixing cultures has brought here?

So why are we trying to repel something that isn't even restricted to one definition? It unfortunately appears to be just another lazy buzzword, another victim of a lack of imagination on all sides. I guess we'll throw it on the heap with 'political correctness' and 'liberalism' as words so mangled by their meanings (multiple) that it's almost impossible to debate them.

Damn semantics. I'm off to learn Greek.


August 09, 2005

Anyone's Favourite Album

Follow-up to Your Favourite Album from Hollyzone

Ok, my previous post on this was an attempt by me to see if a theory that popped into my head was true. The theory came from a series of conversations with various people about music. Basically I've always felt that I found it hard to really love music which predated the early-mid 1990s with a few exceptions. There were songs I liked or admired but few I genuinely loved. The reason for this, as was confirmed to me by others who felt the same, was it wasn't music I grew up with. The old stuff I love I grew up with because my parents played it or, in rarer cases, it saturated the media to this day.

So I figured that if growing up had such an importance did it affect our judgement? Say I heard a song in 1996 (aged 11) and decided it was my favourite song ever. Now what if I heard a song in 2003 which was actually better, but because I attach more rose tinted memory and historical significance to the 1996 tune I prefer it more? This could be so even if had I heard both aged 11 the one from 2003 would be more loved being, as it is, a better song.

Therefore, surely most people who have a favourite album must have heard it by the age of 16.

Obviously the flaws in this were in my head before I did my survey. And the survey brought these flaws out beautifully. As Andy says, some people don't listen to music when at that age. Therefore they won't have heard their favourite by 16. And what about Claire's point about people tastes shifting? I can count my brother in that,as the stuff he listens to now is similar to my stuff (and in some cases is my stuff, give those CDs back!) whereas four years ago his stuff was… bloody awful noise to be honest.

So is it more of a case of you've heard your favourite album within a certain timeframe of taste, i.e. within a couple of years of subconsciously deciding on your taste? In my case, this still fits, I only decided on my favourite at about 16 when I knew I was an indie/alternative kid.

Course this could all be bollocks. But it's a good one to occupy your mind in the office…


August 07, 2005

Your Favourite Album

A question for any passing reader:

If you have a favourite album, how old were you when you first heard it?

I've got a theory and I want to find out if this theory is in fact true or is just an industrial strength pile of holiday-insanity.

Act of faith: I think, though I'm not entirely sure, that I was 12 when I first heard my favourite album.


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