July 1st 2008
Today: Rob's first in maths at University - good! (3)
Last time: Support in favour of dog? (4,2)
Answer: prop up
It is an entry on congratulations today (some of them a trifle belated), so I'll kick off by congratulating you on finding this page, especially with an update on it. I know, I know, the long-awaited relaunch has stalled, and the paucity of entries has continued unforgivably long. You may have to get a little used to it, since it won't be long before I'm in study mode (I'm a bit behind, having just taken on a third module for September). Anyways, the first congratulations have to go to Adam and Becky, who tied the knot on Friday in Haverfordwest - possibly Britain's most confusing town - pretty much a year to the day after leaving Warwick Uni. It was good to be there to celebrate their special day in the love of God, and I'm pleased to report it went off almost without a hitch (an old joke, but a good one). Adam and Becky are a perfect match - indeed, with he a mathematician and she a Neighbours fan, they each stand to improve the other - and it's been a pleasure and a privilege to know them throughout Uni, and to be inspired by the deep faith & love of both. And, after all, Becky is my sister (this is based more on a shared birthday than... well, than anything else). I'm tempted to reminisce at length on 10.25, Montenegro etc, but I'll leave that for their 25th anniversary. You may be thinking that the congratulations are over for one entry (even though I helped a quiz team come second last night, so should be congratulating myself), but there is more. Please join me in applauding the one and only Rob Roe, the man I'd been hoping would get a first class degree more than anyone other than myself and Simon. He only went and did it, didn't he? I hope Rob won't mind if I provide some details of his academic journey at Warwick: he got a respectable 62% in first year, then missed out on his target of 60% - just - in second year, avoiding a maths-pond soaking in the process. After a bit of a turbulent year out, he returned to Warwick almost distraction-free (if you don't count living only a few doors down from Sarah) determined to grasp his first and win himself a bath of champagne... a final year result of 79% is pretty stunning by anyone's standards, and it gave Rob an overall 71% and a first class honours degree in maths from one of the best - if not the best - maths institutes in the country. So, well done Rob (I can't believe I've given you more space than the wedding got, but there you go) - now let me know what your module break-down was, so I can see how many you beat me in! Ah, it always comes back to ego...
July 8th 2008
Today: Play in small village (6)
Last time: Rob's first in maths at University - good! (3)
If you don't know that I'm a Beatles fan, then you really have been paying sufficient attention - and with Beatles fandom comes a degree of loyalty. Specifically, while I like the Rolling Stones a reasonable amount, I am wary of over-praising them, since there are enough (presumably deaf) folk out there who think they are in the same league as the Fab Four. But I've been thinking of late that Mick Jagger (I'm assuming it is he) is lyricist who is capable of twisting things completely in a sentence - there are two songs of which I'm thinking, in which he throws in something you don't expect that turns things on their head: first off, Angie: "But Angie, Angie, ain't it great to be alive?" comes at the end of a song in which the singer is breaking up with Angie, despite loving her still. Sung with such unblemished joy and optimism, he invites Angie to stop crying, look away from the trauma of their break-up, and revel in the pure delight of life. Then there is Paint It, Black [note the comma]: "I could not foresee this thing happening to you". This one is a song of deep pessimism, the aftermath of a painful break-up which has destroyed the whole singer's world: and then we see that his problem is jealousy, or more accurately a knowledge that he loved with a greater passion than he was loved, and his inferred inferiority. Now I come to think of it, these two songs are almost opposites... anyways, brilliant yet simple lyric writing. While I'm on the subject of music (and before I settle down to about half an hour's study), I don't have a lot of music by female vocalists, but it is female vocalists who have produced some of my favourite vocal performances - and by vocal performance, I don't just mean the song (lots of excellent songs owe far more to instruments, tune, lyrics etc than to vocals), and it is true that the likes of Bob Dylan, Adam Duritz, Cliff Richard or Meat Loaf add so much to the songs they sing through their voices. But, to cut to the chase, I've rarely heard better vocals than Stevie Nicks on Fleetwood Mac's Gypsy and Karen Carpenter on the Carpenters' Rainy Days and Mondays - the latter actually caused me to wake bolt upright with her first lines, having whacked on the radio while half-asleep. One of the songs from Prince Caspian, Regina Spektor's The Call, while a little obtrusive in the film, almost falls into this category. I may mention Prince Caspian another day - study calls me now.
July 14th 2008
Today: Bad actor allowed to be tragic hero (6)
Last time: Play in small village (6)
It's going to be pretty obvious today that I join you fresh from reading the paper: we're going to cover stabbings, Gordon Brown, maternity leave and possibly gay bishops. I began to realise just how London-centric the national press are when I read a columnist who claimed Ed Balls was out of touch because he said that most of the country isn't experiencing knife crime. Actually, Mr. Balls had a point - in my journeyings down the country, from Merseyside to Bristol via Worcestershire, Coventry and Somerset, I've never been stabbed nor heard of anyone who has been. People occasionally got kicked or even punched in Leamington, but that was about it - and apparently there were 70 people stabbed to death last year, the same number as a decade ago. I think that the difference now is that a lot of them are white - when one of them turns out to be both white and middle class, that truly will be news. To someone who is white, male, middle class and English (if it weren't for my Christianity, I'd never get to be discriminated against) it seems that more and more white folk are picking up what they clearly believe to be the ways of their black counterparts - all kinds of nonsensical (potentially 'ghetto', certainly misspelt) language that I can just about comprehend, atrocious music of the drumbeats and swearing variety... the logical conclusion (or perhaps merely the next logical step) was turf warfare and barefaced savagery. Of course this is not the behaviour of your average black man (well, maybe the music thing is, but since all white music - apart from Rolf Harris - is of black origin, as they say, I can't complain too much), but it is behaviour that has been glorified and appropriated by gangs of any colour. What can the politicians do? Specifically, what can Dave Cameron do? He's going along the right lines by moving responsibility back to the family, but while the liberal press are all too keen to accuse him of 'moralising' (please can someone explain to me how moralising is a bad thing) and the stabbed & stabbers don't have a clue who he is, he's got an uphill struggle. Now, maternity leave. I don't want to be accused of being sexist (or racist, which I leave myself open to above), but I can't help but feel for employers who will soon have to give mothers paid leave for a year after the birth of their child - it's probably the lesser of the evils (though I do support the current campaign to get more paternity leave, currently set at a fortnight), but if any employee - for whatever totally valid reason - takes a paid year of leave, it's a bit of a kick in the teeth for their employer. Especially when they come back, having missed a year of development, and complain about diminished responsibilities. Or, indeed, have another kid before the year is out. OK, maternity leave needs to remain more or less as it is, but can we have a bit of compassion for employers? Anyways, I feel cake calling to me, so I'll just ask Gordon Brown to read Wuthering Heights before he compares himself to Heathcliff, ask the combined media to read Wuthering Heights carefully before they call Heathcliff a murderer, ask the literary establishment to read Wuthering Heights more carefully before they call it a love story... and I don't feel awake enough to muse on gay bishops. Racism, sexism and homophobia (well, none of the above - but enough to get me sacked for any one if I worked for Boris Johnson) in one entry would be too much.
July 14th 2008
July 22nd 2008
Today: Dessert is a small thing (6)
Last time: Bad actor allowed to be tragic hero (6)
I toyed with the idea of writing clues for 'Hamlet' until I ran out. But then I didn't - after all, you may have revolted at "small piece of pig?" Anyways, I said the other day that I would mention Prince Caspian, so I will do so in passing - the film, I thought, was rather good, though it suffered from rather more battle scenes than was truly necessary. I'm pleased to report that Lucy was far less annoying than she had been, and the added touch of - well, I don't want to spoil it for you, but the added touch involving Susan, shall we say, worked well. I was unconvinced by Eddie Izzard's Reepicheep, who resembled a little too closely Puss in Shrek 2, but I was pleased to see Warwick Davis as Nikabrik, considering I first came across him as Reepicheep in the BBC Chronicles of Narnia. Now, I'm convinced The Horse And His Boy will never make it to the big screen (it's my least favourite of the books, and besides, it would be perceived as a little racist, I suspect. Though the evil Spaniards in Prince Caspian could represent the same crime), but I hope that the films go where the BBC wouldn't, by making The Magician's Nephew and The Last Battle. In other Narnian news (and please look away now if you don't want certain aspects of latter books to be spoilt for you), I was wandering around Wikipedia the other day and discovered something that gave me as much pleasure, in a not disimilar way, as when I found out that Sabrina & Harvey end up together. I knew before that in The Last Battle Susan does not return to Narnia or to Aslan's Country, and speaks of it as a childish game rather than a reality - sad, no? - suggesting that when her siblings died in the train crash and went to heaven, she died and did not. But CS Lewis said somewhere that this is not (necessarily?) the case! I quote: "The books don't tell us what happened to Susan. She is left alive in this world at the end, having by then turned into a rather silly, conceited young woman. But there's plenty of time for her to mend and perhaps she will get to Aslan's country in the end... in her own way." Fun times. If they do make a film version of the book, one feels that they won't want to end on Susan's fall from grace (literally), so this may be worked in. Who knows? [This is the last entry that was given on Geocities, before relaunching]
The grand relaunch is here! I would invite you to have a look round the site, though obviously I don't have much of an archive so far. In fact, I have no archive here - all my previous diary entries can still be reached (see links page), but will not be available in this format. Sorry.
Speaking of which, I hope you like the new layout: I really didn't want to make the picture in Paint this time, but ended up doing so anyway. It's gonna look stupid if I ever shave or get contacts... anyways (some catchphrases die hard) what's the difference between this site and my last one (Startlingly Carla Bonner) or indeed the one before that (Crazy Snake Man)? Well, for starters, this site is just about the diary (or 'blog' as they say nowadays), and isn't affiliated with a Neighbours/Friends/etc site. Hopefully this means people won't boycott it too much (Tom tells me he's never been to SCB on a point of principle), and it means I can create additional pages on things I'm interested in.
You'll notice I've dropped the daily crossword clue - unless there is great uproar among my readership, it's likely to stay dead, though it was fun while it lasted. In its place I'm letting you all know the last CD I was listening to, the last book I was reading and the last film I watched - I guess this reflects the way my interests lie, to a certain extent. Otherwise, content on this page won't be much different to before: updates on my existence, ramblings on topical events, the occasional picture, and general musings (did you see that Oxford comma? Simon would be proud).
I've discovered, from checking this site at work, that the font (Microsoft Tai Le) may not be available everywhere. If you're seeing this in Times New Roman, that'll be why.
That's going to have to do you for a first entry - let me know what you think!
July 23rd 2008
The early feedback on the new look is in, and I'm afraid it's not all been great. Personally I'm very happy with the look of the site - it's more or less what I was going for - but I'm rather annoyed by this issue with Microsoft Tai Le. It seems that a few computers don't support it, and so default to Times New Roman, which looks rubbish. Ho-hum. Also, people were complaining about the background, with Lou saying that it hurt her eyes, and Dad admitting that it was rather distracting. Well, I much prefer the old version, but the public must have their way - so we now have this rather fetching shade of green. At least, it looks all right on my computer - but who knows how garish it looks elsewhere? I'm beginning to see how perplexing the web design process can be.
Anyways, enough of such talk, and onto proper diary-related happenings - it's gonna be a brief one, though. Have you seen that, if you look younger than 25, you now have to prove you're above 18 before buying alcohol? I'm not sure why I'm complaining, what with not drinking and all, but I would count myself among the hundreds of thousands of people who are clearly older than 18, but not older than 25 - what a waste of time this is, and an embarrassment to shop assistant and customer alike. Whose bright idea was this, anyways? Can I blame Gordon Brown?
I welcome more feedback on the site, especially if it's more positive than I've had so far... unless anyone can top Dave's immediate comment of "Terrible. Absolutely terrible."
July 24th 2008
If someone were to challenge you to write a Harry Potter themed story that 'punningly concealed' (that's something I picked up from my father) as many books of the Bible as possible, you couldn't say no, could you? Well, nor could I. But I know what you're thinking: why should you let your life be dictated in such a way by the whims of others? And you're right. Which is why I'm going to hide as many Bible books as I can in a Harry Potter tale, despite the fact that no one has asked me to. I reckon I've managed 22 - precisely a third. A lot of them are phonically (phonetically? What's the difference?) hidden, by the way, for which I make no apology. Though you will probably feel that an apology is in order...
“Who was that guy you were talking to this morning, Ron?” asked Harry, “Was it John? Or Joel? Or Daniel?”
“Er... no,” said Ron, “it was Neville. You know, the one who's been one of your best friends for years – he brews potions next to you every Monday. And I've never heard of the people you just mentioned.”
“And that was quite awful – play properly” added Hermione.
Harry wasn't sure what she meant, so he asked, “What mark did you get in math?”
“Math? You mean Arithmancy?”
“Well, whatever the one is with numbers in it. With the professor who acts like we're all seven years old”.
“Yeah,” said Ron with feeling, “and she's as tight as anything – my last parchment was the best I'd done in ages, and she gave it a D”.
“Since you ask,” said Hermione, ignoring Ron, “it was my worst parchment this term. Because I had to stay up late the night before it was due.”
Harry suddenly felt guilty, remembering that evening. “Was that due to Ron and me?” he asked, avoiding her gaze.
“Yes, it was. I don't suppose that's any great revelation to you.”
“Well,” said Ron cheerfully, “who cares what Professor what's-her-name thinks? She's a hag, I always said - one eye's higher than the other, definitely. No one judges you for messing up one piece of homework.”
“Anyway,” Harry said quickly, before Hermione could reply, “there was something I wanted to tell you – about my Dad.”
Hermione and Ron were suddenly quiet, and waited for Harry to go on.
“I thought that I'd won Peter Pettigrew's loyalty – you know, when I let him live,” Harry said, “But... well, I've been thinking about what I'd really like to do to Peter, and I'm not sure I made the right choice. He doesn't deserve my pity.”
“I think it's what James would have done,” said Hermione quietly. “Anyway, you can't go back in time and change things.”
Ron stared. “You can talk! What about that time-turner you used? And Fred and George told me that the Ministry was working on the genesis of a new one – there's been a mass exodus of workers because of it.”
Harry, despite thinking that this was an odd couple of phrases for Ron to use, only asked, “What's different about this time-turner compared to the last one?”
“Well, that time-turner could only hold a week or two. This'll own aeons of time!”
“That's just silly-” said Hermione, but she was interrupted by a girl called Esther, who shouted the word “Look!” in a Liverpudlian accent...
...yes, I think it's best I leave it there.
July 31st 2008
For those of you still thinking about those 22 Bible books (see last entry), I think I must have miscounted, or been so cunning I've fooled myself. Despite having written them out to make sure, I can now only count 21 books. Anyway, in the archive they've been emboldened. Speaking of the archive, I've realised that in the current format I'll have to update every page whenever I add a new month - not the end of the world, but I might have a rethink... we'll see. While I'm mentioning the site's layout, can I draw your attention to the 'favourites' page? It's still very small at the moment, but every now and then I'll be adding something I particularly like, which may or may not fit into a tight 'favourite' category - so we've got Bob Dylan, my favourite singer-songwriter, and Crazy/Beautiful, my favourite... er... well, it's one of my favourite films. Watch this space.
Speaking of favourites, I'm a big fan of the Mr. Men, and would like to take this opportunity to register my disapproval of the channel 5 series, voiced by Simon Callow, that blights our screens in the early hours. I saw an episode or two of this, and despaired that the majestic works of Roger Hargreaves are being further degraded (already his son, Adam, is responsible for the re-drawing of all the characters and the invention of several new ones, and thus is persona non gratain my house). Mr. Strong is given a peculiar belt, Mr. Fussy is renamed Mr. Pernickity and given pince-nez... why, why, why? But my anger rose to new levels when I checked out the official Mr. Men website. Not only has it been taken over by these caricatures - thus giving them greater prominence than the actual books, possibly (in my worst nightmare) paving the way for re-drawing them - but on closer inspection I see they've regarded Roger Hargreaves' work as almost totally dispensible. Like those theatrical directors who insert their own scenes into Shakespeare, they've gone and done this:
In other news, you'll notice on the right that I've just seen The Dark Knight. That'll have to wait for another day.
Oh, and I've just found the 22nd Bible book from last time - it was Mark.