All entries for October 2005

October 29, 2005

It's Not Just Us With The Ball In The Net

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/women/4382828.stm

Sometimes I get asked why we manage to rack up such large scores in our football matches. In future I will direct people to the result from Thursday night.

England 13–0 Hungary

Kelly Smith you are an absolute legend… and everyone else clearly wasn't that bad either, hehehe.


My House

So it's not the greatest house in the world ever. So what? Today, in a rash outbreak of positivity, I have been considering just what it is that makes this house that I live in not so bad after all.

Overactive freezer It generates more ice than a freezer really should but this is great news. We can replenish the diminishing icecaps of the Arctic with the ice I cull from my freezer on an almost daily basis. We can create great ice sculptures and make Leamington a pretty and slightly etheral place. We can treat my nasty shin injury which I acquired this afternoon with soothing icepacks.

Shower The head won't work if you leave it on the wall, it just sprays over everything in the bathroom except me. So I have to remove it to shower. But this encourages action. No more standing inert under a rush a hot joy. Instead you have to hold it and this means those rock and roll moments of singing in the shower are accompanied by realistic microphone action! Live the dream.

Damp Damp is horrible when it's cold. But if you turn the heating on then it becomes nice and warm and reminds you of those balmy summer nights when you ran, carefree, through the streets of [insert exotic summer destination here] whilst laughing at your escapades. The damp will also nourish your houseplants so you can neglect them as much as you like, they'll still survive.

Sofa The best way to live with a skanky stained sofa is to put a cover on it. But you're a student and it's not worth it to buy covers for a house you'll spend no time in. So throw your clothes on it. It satisfies the need to throw clothes everywhere whilst also being a worthwhile and visually pleasant action.

Dodgy looking gas fire of doom Don't use gas. Save money.

Hideous raised wallpaper that's been painted over in a variety of non-matching blues Yeah, there's no redeeming that. Call it a conversation piece and start saving for when you need a real home.

Enjoy student housing.


October 26, 2005

New Look

I made my blog look new.

Thoughts, preferably honest ones because I don't know if this is the end product yet…


October 24, 2005

Trouble In Birmingham

Follow-up to Did Anyone Notice The Noise? from Hollyzone

So it is true. The news outlets have started to release the details of the Birmingham riots and what my brother said seems to have been true. A rumour lead to chaos.

I had asked him if he was going to be ok and he answered yes for two reasons. Number one, he's a student. Apart from the occasional mugging they don't tend to get picked on if they keep out of the gangland culture. And secondly he was quite unlikely to get mistaken for a gangster because he is white.

It's another manifestation of one of the issues which perplexes a lot of white people – that they don't have the monopoly on racism. And yet it's looking at non-white racism that puts it in perspective. Whilst it's easy when you are white (as the media majority is in this country) to get angsty about white racists, disowning them, ridiculing them, it doesn't allow you to cut to the heart of the problem. Racism is a fear of the newcomer.

It doesn't matter how long a particular group has lived in an area, as long as they are perceived as the newcomer then there will be issues. In this particular Birmingham case the Pakistani community has moved in to an African-Caribbean area and there are tensions. It exists inside 'races' as well. The Welsh and Scottish don't like it when English people move into remote communities. Hell, rural English people don't like it when townies move in. In a way racism is only racism because it allows a handy external sign (skin colour) to be used to identify the 'newcomer'. We are now much more tolerant of the Irish who have been entering this country for a long time and are henceforth both less newcomer-like themselves, and there are new newcomers.

Now I'd love to offer solutions, but do you really think I'd be sat in a cold and damp student house if I could answer that question?


Did Anyone Notice The Noise?

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/west_midlands/4370288.stm

Riots in Birmingham and has anyone here heard anything about them? No.

Sigh.

This is a sad side effect of being at this uni I guess. People just don't pay attention even to the localest of local news.

Anyway, I'm in two minds as to whether to write the entry on this that I really want to write. I spoke to my brother earlier and he's a student at UCE which pretty much means he can't have the same student ignorance of so many at Warwick because these riots are taking place literally down the road from where he is. Three whole bus stops away. He rang me earlier for a chat and told me what was going on.

And the reason I hesitate. I do read the news, the BBC News website in fact. And nothing on the BBC's website was contradicted by my brother's view from the ground. The thing was that he gave lots of extra details that the BBC had left out, no doubt because their inclusion would have had to be very very firmly backed with evidence for a respectable news outlet to issue them. Now I don't think my brother was lying. I'm pretty sure he was telling the truth as far as he knew it. But it put such a different slant on the situation that I was almost moved to write about it. Then I wondered if I should. Call it some weird sense of journalistic integrity (not that I'm anything more than a hack cartoonist on a student paper) but if the BBC ain't saying then maybe there's a reason. So I'll leave it for now and monitor what the BBC says over the next few days. Hell, I might even look at other news outlets to see if they are being less reticent.

Anyway, the truth as my brother told it is quite (though not massively) explosive. Not that anyone here would ever notice…


October 22, 2005

Traitor To The Four Eyed Cause

I've got to admit, I've never really paid much attention to the 384,473 bizarre and strangely irrelevent awards that are handed out on a regular basis. In my world there would be far far fewer. Below is a comprehensive list of awards I care about.

  • BBC Sports Personality Of The Year
  • The NME Awards
  • FIFA Footballer Of The Year
  • The Ignoble Awards

But we cannot be satisfied with this. We need more more more awards. The country must have enough award ceremonies to employ all those Z list celebrities to mince up the red carpet, hand out hideous bronze statues, and puke up in the toilets next to some coked up journalist getting hypocritically indignant about Kate Moss. Ceremonies for every minute detail of life. All of them. Everywhere. Giving me no peace at all. And numero uno on my list of awards to face my wrath is Glasses Wearer Of The Year.

Why?

Why indeed. Well because it has been won several times in the past by people who don't actually need glasses. Do these people think us optically challenged, squinters actually enjoy wearing ridiculuous contraptions of metal and plastic on our heads? They fanny around in fake glasses then go home, take them off and read Ceefax with their 20/20 vision. I hate them. I hate them because I can't do that. So I wore my glasses with pride for a long long time. I'd only resort to contact lenses when I was playing football as there really is no way a goalkeeper can get away with wearing them. Even our team's token on-pitch four eyes (Elspeth, my darling) is notorious for the one time she tried to head the ball in glasses… ouch.

But… but… I've fallen!

Once again the bane of my existance, my migraines have robbed me of my principles (having already taken my pride, my dignity and, more often than not, the contents of my stomach) and indeed of my glasses. Yes, I know what you're thinking* and it seems odd but trust me, wearing glasses was creating pressure in my head and contributing to migraines. Or at least it felt that way. I could be completely wrong. But it's my head.

So now I have contact lenses. Not daily disposables which you put in and then they dry up and try to fuse with your eye should you wear them for longer than 3 hours. No, these are proper ones which need to be looked after and dipped in solution and taken out to the cinema and bought CDs (it's my excuse and I'm sticking to it). They're lovely. Really really lovely. They make my eyes feel sparkly and smooth… which pretty much makes up for the complete betrayal of my principles.

So in conclusion, I can be bought, Ronan Keating does not deserve to be glasses wearer of any year and Andrew Flintoff will win Sports Personality Of The Year. And probably an NME Award as well. At least he's not speccy.

*"Holly, I thought you were dead, what with you not blogging in a million years and stuff... I had dibs on your lava lamp."


October 16, 2005

Musical De–Stress

What can I say; playing an instrument for its own sake. Not in a band, or with the intention of joining a band. Not for any other reason than it's so bloody relaxing. And there's something intriguing about seeing your own instrument bedecked shadow flitting across the wall. It's like you're doing something, when in fact you're doing nothing, escaping the mounting pile of work (academic and paid), washing up and general all-encompassing life. Here lie no decisions likely to impact on anything other than the next five minutes.

So here, for no reason other than to celebrate their calming influence, are ten songs which I need only to play along to in order to feel better.

1) Interpol – 'The Specialist'
2) Muse – 'Stockholm Syndrome'
3) The Cooper Temple Clause – 'The Same Mistakes'
4) Red Hot Chilli Peppers – 'Californication'
5) The Killers – 'Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine'
6) Joy Division – 'Love Will Tear Us Apart'
7) Manic Street Preachers – 'Design For Life'
8) Ash – 'Goldfinger'
9) Doves – 'The Cedar Room'
10) Jimmy Eat World – 'Bleed American/Salt Sweat Sugar'

That is all.


October 14, 2005

The German Reformation

In the sixteenth century Protestantism spread across Europe like an egg spreads across a frying pan when you're making fried egg. In the middle of this egg was Germany and the yoke was Martin Luther. Thus the tedious egg metaphor was taken too far, but the German Reformation was very important and had to be studied at great length whether Holly an unspecified history student wanted to or not.

Looking at the German Reformation brings up three questions:

  • How important was Luther?
  • How and why did it spread?
  • Why Germany?

There is also the fourth question – Why oh why dear God did I choose to study history instead of something easy like Quantum Physics And Wombat Studies (X145 at the University of Cockup, Cumbria)? – but I can't answer that.

Anway…

How Important Was Luther?

Luther was a bit odd. He was going to be a lawyer when he got caught in a thunder storm, got a bit scared and decided to be monk instead. This frequently happens. William the Conqueror was going to be a hairdresser before an unfortunate bout of rain in Normandy. Next thing he knows he's woken up in England avec crown, and there's no explanation bar some tapestry, thus providing the first historical evidence of what later became the "If there's no photos it didn't happen" school of nights out.

So Luther goes off and becomes the numero uno, suck up uber-monk and everyone takes one look at him and thinks nerd. He's also uber-religious which was a normal thing at the time, but seemingly the combination of nerd and uber-religious was not a common one because he did something unexpected. He thought about it.

We can imagine the scene as something dramatic, maybe Luther in his room at night, in a thunderstorm, wrestling with theological problems and personal beliefs. We can. But we're not going to because I've a famous artist already drawn it below.

Eventually Luther concluded that:

  • Those indulgences were a bit, y'know, dodgy.
  • Those priests were a bit, y'know, corrupt.
  • Those Latin services were a bit, y'know, alienating.

Especially the indulgences which have been put into bold text here to show just HOW IMPORTANTTM they were. Clue: very*. Basically you went to a priest and paid some money and you got less time in purgatory which is like a waiting room for heaven where souls go to feel guilty for a very long time. Very, very Catholic in other words. Luther did not like this. He didn't like Masses being said for dead souls either which was a derivative of indulgences.

Also Latin services weren't his cup of tea because he was German and preferred words like neunhundertneunundneunzigtausendneunhundertneunundneunzig to poncy ones like in vinas veritas which were way too short.

So anyway he had a lot to say and pinned his Ninety Five (niney five! 95!?! What a whinger…) Theses to the door of the cathedral except he might not have but it makes a better story than posting them to the great and good which is what he did do but is less cool. Try posting your demands for someone to do the bloody dishes to your flatmates. Now try pinning your demands to the door of a cathedral. Neither will work, but the latter will make you feel cool**.

Luther got listened to and is therefore the first radical thinker and we can safely ignore Erasmus and Hus and all the other radicals who came before him, but didn't do the washing and got forgotten.

How And Why Did It Spread? Why Germany?

Luther wasn't the only person who liked neunhundertneunundneunzigtausendneunhundertneunundneunzig as opposed to carpe diem. Some German princes did as well. Not all of them mind, especially not the Holy Roman Emperor who had an awesome title. He liked Catholicism. Others didn't. So they rowed and rowed and rowed, and then they got out of the boat and started arguing about it. The HRE (as I abbrieviated him in my notes) wanted to hurt Luther, but another German prince, who presumably had a smaller hat (in line with the big hat = power principal first seen in Egypt) protected Luther.

The pro-Luther princes decided to spread the word using a clever combination of targetted advertising, incentives and promotional offers for their subjects. Just kidding. They simply threatened to dead anyone who disagreed. And people didn't like being dead in those days which is quite like the situation today and just goes to show that nothing really ever changes. Nothing.

Then some peasants heard about all this and liked the bit about people being equal in God's eyes. It sounded nice and socialist. So they marched around in an attempt to be equal, which included the equal right to make people dead, just like the princes did. Only this got Luther pissed off and on his high horse and the peasants got deaded instead by the princes. Turned out Luther didn't think people were equal. Just rich nobles who protected him.

So Lutheranism spread like a chocolate sauce and Luther celebrated by writing long books and being grumpy.

*Learn this and pass exams.

**Though God only knows who's going to do those damn dishes...


October 12, 2005

Lingua Franca

Attempted to find a website which can supply me with rubber ducks that change colour (don't ask). This involved googling the bugger but for some reason (well, for an obvious reason) all I got were a load of sites proclaiming:

Tobar.ie – Tacaíocht do mhúinteoirí in Eirinn – Forbairt acmhainní fóghlama.

and many similar phrases.

It's fairly obvious what it is – it's Irish. Not Gaelic, because no one in Ireland calls it anything but Irish. And yet, for all that I can recognise it, I can't read it. Not even a little. Not even like I am with French where I read all of a piece in the hope of a few words coagulating into some sembalance of coherence. Irish just draws a blank.

And why should I care? I've got an English accent, live in England and am (sort of) bilingual in another language. In truth I don't care that much, just sometimes there's a little debate in my head which arises and causes some slight disturbances to my peace of mind. It's the curse of a history student.

Basically I don't feel pissed off at the English for the sufferings that the Irish suffered*. This is practically blasphemy to some. And there's no denying that a lot of nasty things were done by the English to the Irish. Politics and changing morals aside, it's not nice to invade somewhere, kill people and oppress. Perhaps being English born means I was never going to feel a historical resentment because I am as English as I am Irish. But then we all know there are some people born in this country who are willing to massacre innocent commuters for some moronic sense of ego (because making those videos boasting about what you were planning was definitely not a sign of egotism), so it can't just be that I was born here.

My family have no tradition of Irish. Oh sure, all those who were educated in Ireland itself went through it at school. But I phrased that appropraitely. My dad's a smart guy but he flunked Irish. I don't think any of my cousins enjoyed doing it. None of them speak it, except the rude words which certain cousins used against myself and my brother, unaware of the fact that auntie Hilary had taught us them all anyway. It's not that we're not sufficiently Irish. Just one look at the pale faces and collection of dark brown and ginger complexions in family photos should be enough to scream "CELTS!!!111!!1oneon1!!" despite the Norman family name (De Cruise originally). But we just never seemed to take to it.

We are pretty Anglicised in all honesty. More prone to football, rugby and hockey than Gaelic football, hurling and other GAA fun. We're Dunliners, given to calling all those from outside the city "culchies" in that wonderful capital arrogance endemic worldwide. And we know that this pisses people off but it's how we like it. Connecting with the outside world. Does it kill our culture and identities? Or are we being part of a new strain of "Irishness", one which speaks English? Ironically this appears to have resulted in a relatively low level of emigration to England. Only my dad of his siblings remains here. Of my cousins, five remain in Ireland, two in England, one in Scotland and one in Nigeria.

And yet sometimes I do wish I could speak Irish. Have a language that hardly anyone can speak and be able to use it with people I care about. It'd be cool to be able to slag off arseholes in their presence to my brother. As it is I can tell you the cat is small and to kiss my arse, and that's about it. So clearly I don't care that much if I've learned Spanish but not Irish. It's a language of limited use. I don't know anyone who speaks it as a first language (though some do) and can't imagine meeting large numbers of people who would. English is just plain useful. And that sounds quite bad to some. Even I feel a little sad that it's not a successful language, but not strongly enough to want to learn it. Perhaps I'm just a Norman after all, some evil Frenxh/English invader.

Welsh is used as an example of how a language can be revived. Irish might be revived although it's not happene yet despite the efforts of the national government, especially under De Valera in the middle of the last century. It seems the entire country is quite resistant to the concept. And don't forget, Irish English is full of quirks and phrases not found in English English. From "culchies" and "feck" to "taytos" and "blathering on" and the perenial denial of the existence of "my" instead of "me", it's hurtling the way of American English. Remember the quotation about England and America:

Two nations separated by a common language.

said of course by that top Irish bloke, Oscar Wilde. Perhaps Irish English, which also includes many words considered archaic here ("press" for cupboard) as well as words rescued from Irish ("craic", "amadan"), is becoming sufficiently different for the Irish to be secure in their seperateness. Course it's still possible to communicate easily which is always useful in a world trying to learn English.

So what's my point? That ultimately I don't feel bad about not knowing Irish because it's not part of my experience of being Irish. Just like I've never played hurling but will be cacking myself tomorrow over our World Cup qualifying match with Switzerland (which we're gonna lose, I just know it). That doesn't make me less Irish except in the eyes of some who still dislike the English. It might be nice to know a little more Irish, though, y'know just to piss off the arseholes.

Go n-ithe an cat thú, is go n-ithe an diabhal an cat.
guh nih-heh on cot hoo iss guh nih-heh on jowel on cot
May the cat eat you and the devil eat the cat.

*Oh yeah, stretch that vocabulary.


October 10, 2005

How To Cook For Students 2 – Cook Harder

Follow-up to How To Cook For Students from Hollyzone

Well I hope you've all survived the last ten months since I told you all how to cook cheese on toast. I even received news of one student starting a successful cheese sandwich bar which was judged the 3rd best restaurant in Kenilworth at the K-Wo Town Awards in June. But I feel you might need a more varied diet. After all if you all drop dead who will bring me chocolate and toilet paper when I demand it? Eh? EH? So shut up and learn about…

Chicken Caesar Salad And Soup.

You'll need soup for this y'know.

Look at it! Soup! Bow before it student for it is your god. A blended, liquified version of fruit and veg, distilled into a tin and sold in a nationwide supermarket as it soullessly drains the life from provincial towns, thus helping create a bland monoculture of ubiquitous shops… though I really love the convenience!

You also need bread. These are bread torpedoes but they can't be used in submarines.

I'd advise getting a tin opener because they are effective and useful devices as well as being guaranteed to improve your attractiveness to everyone by a minimum of 15%. Also we don't have one and using a penknife is a pain in the posterier. Use the right attachment. I recommend this one:

By constrast this one isn't that effective on soup tins…

…and this one is just plain shit (what is it for?):

Stab the tin until a sufficient hole is formed. Pour the soup into a pan and apply fire to the pan. I recommend matches but obviously rubbing sticks together or owning a dragon can be just as effective.

These are Cook's matches but I don't think he knows we have them because he's not asked for them back yet.

Now whilst that's heating on the stove (don't let it go on too long or it'll boil over and acquire a life of it's own, and join the Basketball team, and it won't want to hang round with you any more, and you'll feel sad) it's salad time.

Carry your ingredients to a work surface. If you're very bored then you can carry the lettuce like it was a penguin egg and you are a penguin. Wearing black can aid this fantasy.

Here are your ingredients, some non-explosive bread, a half empty bottle of caesar sauce (et tu Brute?), a penguin egg/lettuce, half a packet of cooked chicken (I'm too lazy to cook my own) and half a pepper. Inspiringly captured below.

Cut the lettuce up.

For crissakes! Call that a knife? This is a knife!

Mutilate the lettuce and pepper till it tells you where the gold is hidden, then dispose of the bodies in the lake before returing to your secret layer and awaiting the arrival of a hero played by some slack jawed non-actor pretty boy who is probably gay as a coot away from the media spotlight. Wash the salad because it'll taste less of chemicals that way. Or go organic if you're rich and mummy and daddy are paying for all of this.

Now mutilate some cheese. I used the cheese in the frige which my housemate bought, but you might like to buy your own.

Whilst knives are fun they are not perfect. They cannot be used to get the caesar salad out of the bottle. Try using your opposably digits. It's fun.

Now throw it all together and put dollops of sauce on it. The sauce will reduce the effect of the salad's healthiness by balancing it out with sugar, salt and fat. This will insulate you through the winter when your heating dies and the landlord is in Barbados. Hahaha.

Et voila! The meal is served on two plates to really piss you off later when it comes time to do the dishes.

Now all you have to do is eat it.

Oh for god's sake, a spoon woman, a spoon. Bloody penknife.

And, if you're not a total retard, you have now got two meals in your repetoire. Why not invite a sexy object of desire round and impress them with your skills? A three course meal is within your grasp, all you need do is dream the dream. And tidy up. It's all one big metaphor for life…


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