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February 3rd 2013
Two relatively important dates have passed by recently without comment from me, which I shall remedy now. The first was 25 December 2012 which, as well as being Christmas Day (remember that turkey you ate? That was why), marked the date on which I'd been running this blog for a third of my life. Which, while it takes up but a small percentage of my day-to-day life, is quite incredible to me. I mean, a third of my life? When I started this thing, I was still in school; the word 'blog' wasn't particularly popular, and Geocities was still a reasonably respectable place to host one; neither Facebook nor Youtube existed (it's fair to say that they've come further since then than I have); no one knew who Deep Throat was; Justin Bieber hadn't even been born. Probably. I haven't checked for certain, but I think I've been running this blog for longer than I had piano lessons. That's always been a fairly key measure of time, for me.
Anyways, enough naval gazing (it's like being self-obsessed, but with more sailors) and onto the second significant date: the Monday just gone, 28 January 2013, was the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice. I must admit that I haven't read most books - sorry - but, nonetheless, I aver confidently that P&P is one of the greatest novels ever written, and for it still to be as popular as ever (well, nearly. Its popularity zenith probably came when Colin Firth hit the water of Permberley lake) two centuries after its publication is greatly to its credit. If you haven't read it yet, then read it. If you have read it, then I implore you to check out the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a retelling of the story in a series of video diaries; or vlogs, if you will. Anyways, some of you will remember that I pointed you in this direction back in June - and riffed for a paragraph or two about the word 'vlog', if I recall - but I know that you don't listen to my advice (how many of you have actually watched Three to Tango, eh? Eh?), and I thought if I said it again you might think about it this time. Don't take my word for it; Simon likes it too.
When I brought it to your attention there were only four characters: Lizzie, Jane, Lydia & Charlotte. Since then we have had Mr Collins, Mary, Bing Lee (I bet they regret that bit of naming), Maria, George Wickham, Caroline, Darcy, Fitz (Colonel Fitzwilliam) and Gigi (Georgiana), which is apparently our lot. The series is set in the modern day, and naturally deviates from the original story - for better or for worse, running off with someone and living with them without being married is no longer a source of shame, so it wouldn't have made sense to keep that the same - but is almost always true to the spirit of the novel and inventive without being too distracting. In fact, the series has actually revealed things to me that I never noticed in the novel, like the rivalry between sisters being partly responsible for Lydia pairing up with Wickham after he and Lizzie effectively split up. And surely no adaptation of P&P has ever had such a brilliant Colonel Fitzwilliam?

He just fitz into shot. Geddit?

I don't want to give anything away in case you've not watched it yet and are raring to do so, but the casting is superb in almost all cases; the three Bennet sisters (er... Mary is a cousin. And Kitty is a cat) are quite perfect, and I was impressed that the later cast members - particularly Darcy - hit the nail right on the head when there was a lot of pressure from the fanbase to get it right. Lydia has an occasional spin-off series (Tuesday & Friday) which is currently on hiatus, and Gigi was so good that they gave her her own spin-off series to take its place. Oh, listen, stop reading this and start watching LBD. Go on, do it.
In other news - yes, I'm aware that it makes no sense to start a new paragraph given that I've just told you to stop reading. I'm not stupid. But you're still reading, aren't you, so... who's the fool? - I went to see West Ham vs Swansea with a couple of guys yesterday, continuing our quest to visit grounds we've not been to before. One of these days I'll make a list of my favourite of these stadia, because I like a list, and I imagine that Upton Park - or the Boleyn Ground, as we're supposed to call it - will be fairly high up on said list. It's got a decent capacity and a good atmosphere, and is more distinctive than a lot of the identikit grounds that get put up these days. So far this season I've already been to Wolves, Nottingham Forest, Wigan, Sheffield Wednesday, Bristol City and Bristol Rovers, and there's still a trip to Leicester City in the pipeline. Any suggestions for grounds to visit will be gratefully received.
In job news, congratulations to Simon, who has nabbed himself his first full time role working at Oxford University Press as a Content, Communications, and Engagement Manager. I think that means he does stuff on the interweb. It's a six month contract as maternity cover, but I'm sure he'll wow them with his interwebby skills and, in the words of the song, it won't be long before he's the boss.

Billy Joel lyric of the day: Though you may not have done anything / Will that be a consolation when she's gone? (Tell Her About It)

February 9th 2013
I have been trying to work out if anyone has come out of this Chris Huhne business with any credit at all, and I think I may have landed on someone: Nick Clegg.
For my legions of foreign readership, who cannot be expected to excite themselves with the private lives of leading Liberal Democrats, Chris Huhne has resigned as an MP after admitting that he persuaded his wife to take the blame for a speeding offence that he actually committed. As ever with British political scandals, it makes me wonder what the good people of Zimbabwe, Serbia, China or even Russia would make of it all. We do our scandals at an incredibly low level over here, and the spitting fury that the British public can get into when an MP lies about speeding - or tries and fails to get taxpayers to pay for a duckhouse, say - only serves to reinforce that our political system has a pretty clean bill of health, all told. By and large, no one is doctoring votes or having people assassinated over here.
Anyways, Huhne himself hasn't come out of this too well - something about all the lying he did, both at the time and repeatedly since, perhaps - and his political career is fairly deservedly over (note to editors of my diaries, which will no doubt be published in serial form when I am gone: if Huhne ends up as Prime Minister, please scrap that last bit). But I can't help thinking that his ex-wife, Vicky Pryce, might be the real villain of the piece. Or, at least, a co-villain. It has been her declared intention to ruin the career of her former husband, and while I have precious little sympathy for an adulterer - Huhne cheated on Pryce, leading to their divorce - there is something nauseating about the way in which Pryce appears to have focused on "nailing" the father of her children, informing a Sunday Times journalist of the story and hammering away until the lid on Huhne's coffin was well and truly nailed shut. Hell hath no fury, and all that. But, having destroyed his professional career, Pryce now seems bent on destroying what is left of his reputation by announcing that he forced her to have an abortion. This is by way of defence to her own criminal charges for taking the points that should have been Huhne's, as her plea is marital coercion and this apparently demonstrates the hold he had over her. The case is still being heard, as they say when they're trying not to be done for contempt.
By far the saddest part of the whole business, though, is the transcript of texts sent between Huhne and his son Peter, which were for some reason read out in court and printed in probably every national newspaper the next day. In them, Huhne continually tells his son that he loves him and is proud of him, and in return receives messages telling him to **** off, or a variation on that theme. Painful for any father to read, I imagine, and painful also for a son. Whatever his sins, no one deserves that - and based on recent events, it's hard to believe that Peter was discouraged in his attitudes by his mother.
And so to Nick Clegg. When he was voted in as leader of the Lib Dems, he wasn't terribly far ahead of the man who has just pleaded guilty to an offence that, the Times breathlessly informed me, holds a maximum punishment of life imprisonment. Basically, this week we could have been about to cart our Deputy Prime Minister off to prison; instead, we've got Clegg. Could be worse, eh?
In other news, you know I consider it my happy duty to inform you of new blogs that arise elsewhere on the interweb, and so today I point you in the direction of The Terrible, written by Peter Quadrio, a man I'm pleased to call friend and, dare I say it, Australian. He is a former shipmate to both Anthony and Becca, and I met him while visiting the former in Germany back in 2008; then again at the nuptials of the aforementioned couple. We once spent the night together (er... maybe take that bit out, too, future diary editors) with my good friend Rich at Seattle airport. Anyways, he's on his third URL already, but now that he's settled on quadr.io I can't see there's any need to change it, ever again. That thing's gold. Anyways, any chap who includes the wonderful Emma Stone amongst his interests must be worth a read.

Billy Joel lyric of the day: They will tell you you can't sleep alone in a strange place / Then they'll tell you you can't sleep with somebody else / Ah, but sooner or later you sleep in your own space / Either way it's okay to wake up with yourself (My Life)

February 14th 2013
No one ever said: "Lean on me,"
No one ever told me: "You've got a friend,"
No, nobody said: "I'll be your shelter when there's troubled waters,
"I'm gonna be there (be there), oh, be there (be there) till the end,"
No, no, no, nobody but you.
- Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil

what was I listening to?
The Promise - Bruce Springsteen
what was I reading?
The Towers of Midnight - Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
what was I watching?
Finding Neverland
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