August 10th 2007
Today: Excited, Dave and Chris take the plunge (5,4)
Ludicrously, portray the Queen as a hero (5,6)
Answer: Harry Potter
Entries have been sporadic of late, have they not? But I have a good reason, as I've been gallavanting up and down the country; to the Lake District with Simon (which encapsulated the Elterwater village trail), David & Christine's wedding (of which, more below), Rich's place, Ant's place and then home. All very exciting, and now I can get down to the business of finding somewhere to live (for some reason, I've been emailing rather than phoning people, which has jammed the system a little. It appears I do not learn). Anyways, this entry is largely to report on the joy that was David & Christine's wedding day - hence the appropriateness of today's clue - which was a truly excellent occasion. For those not in the know, Dave and Chris are recently graduated from Warwick Uni, in math & business and maths respectively, and Dave was a housemate of mine in 67 Westwood Road. In what could be described as a foolhardy move, Ant, Rich, Tom and I were made ushers, but we acquitted ourselves pretty well; greeting guests, tying ribbon to the car, blocking doorways, pointing out food, handing out maps... no zero-skill-level job was too hard. Phil kept us all in check as best man, before going on to deliver a best man's speech that was absolutely hilarious... even Iain made a pretty good joke at some point in the days surrounding the wedding, so you can see what a special occasion it was. And so on to the bride and groom themselves; have you noticed that, particularly on television, every girl is told she is breathtakingly beautiful on her wedding day? Nine times out of ten, she actually looks pretty bad in whatever white dress she's wearing - perhaps due to the limitations of costume department budget, who knows. But on this occasion it was actually true - Christine was absolutely beautiful in her dress (hey, if you can't say a girl is beautiful on her wedding day, when can you say it?). Quite literally breathtaking. David scrubbed up pretty well, too... the service itself was excellent, and it was especially pleasant to have an emphasis on Jesus Christ, since the main point of the wedding service is to make vows before God - this theme was continued in the speech from the bride's father, and since the groom's father took the service, he didn't feel left out. Anyways, that was that, and the Lakes headed off to Menorca - I, in turn, headed off to Coventry. To finish on a self-deprecating note (I won't mention my Scrabble successes at Rich's place), in getting home from Leicestershire it transpired that as well as Melton Mowbray, there is another Melton, in Suffolk... without going into details (those can be found on Ant's blog) I may have made a geographical error when ordering my ticket home...
August 13th 2007
Today: Act for every class (7)
Excited, Dave and Chris take the plunge (5,4)
Answer: crash dive
I was watching the Keira Knightley version of Pride & Prejudice again last night, and felt moved to comment on it here - but then I read my review from this very page in September 2005, and realised that I'd said almost everything I wanted to there. What I know now, which I didn't then, was that Keira got Oscar nominated for her performance, and I have to say it was richly deserved - in some early scenes (for example, the first ball), she doesn't seem to have got the character quite right, but that is soon remedied. As a whole, the film still suffers greatly in comparison to the BBC version (and, indeed, the book itself), with Donald Sutherland miscast as Mr. Bennet, Rosamund Pike badly miscast as Jane, a terrible Mr. Bingley... in short, less than inspired casting in almost all the supporting players. The list of those who are not definitely worse than their BBC counterparts is minimal - and among the worst is Mr. Darcy, who reminds me of nothing so much as an AS Level student playing Heathcliff. But watch it again, those of you who gave up the first time, and admire Ms. Knightley's performance. In other news, one last thing to say about David & Christine - I think I may have mentioned it before, but it's always got mileage. It was at Merseyfest, and I was with Chris, looking for Dave... "Is that him?" says she, pointing towards a short, fat, bald black man. At this point she generally makes the excuse that he was wearing a Liverpool shirt. He was not. (I only feel safe putting this up because Christine very rarely reads this page... I trust you all not to give me away).
August 15th 2007
Today: Old man has time to show affection (3)
Act for every class (7)
It has often been commented - exclusively by me, by someone being sarcastic or (most frequently) both - that my life is one of hectic and scarcely manageable excitement. But there are those who still doubt the matter, so I shall lay this evidence before them; tomorrow, I view three potential houses for next year, so it may well be that I have accommodation sorted before Matthew Perry returns to our screens for the next episode of Studio 60. Speaking of accommodation, I glanced at my most recent communication from AXA (dated 27th March) and realised that it was addressed to Westwood Road: while I'm relatively confident I made clear my change of address, I sent off an email to HR to make sure. I'm also aware that Security Watchdog never got back to me after I faxed them, and hence AXA seems to have no way of knowing that I've graduated, or indeed that I genuinely got my A Levels. Ah well, I'll turn up to work on September 3rd and they can do what they like. But the most exciting thing that has happened to me this day was when Ibecame, for the first time, the victim of debit card fraud. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, my latest bank statement (you see, I don't just throw the things away willy-nilly) suggested that I'd spent nigh on £400 on travel money. I'm confident that I'd remember any such transaction - rack my brains though I have, I can't think of any action I undertook on 1st August even comparable to entering a Post Office and spending bundles of cash on foreign money. Essentially, I suppose, this means that someone has nabbed my identity, which is a cheering thought in some ways. Shows I'm not a hopeless case after all.
August 17th 2007
Today: Escort around capital of Tennessee - it's a good place to start (7,3)
Old man has time to show affection (3)
Today's clue comes from Ian VanderSchee, a regular contributor to the Facebook Cryptic Crossword Society. Cheers, Ian. It looks like I may have a house for next year, folks. Quite a ramshackle place in Bristol with three (rising to five, I believe) Christians. It's all a little confusing as to which room will be mine - the one I wanted seems to have gone already, and I think I'm in a relatively unfurnished one a little lower. Well, we'll see - and you're all welcome to come and visit me. That's not actually true, since this web page is open to all and sundry... let me limit the invitation to those people I know and like. Oh, OK, Anthony too. Speaking of moving house, I'm given to thinking of when I started Uni; both Rootes and the wonderful 67 Westwood Road were very pleasing habitations, although in both cases that was as much due to the fellow inhabitants as anything else. When you start Uni, people are full of advice and comments, most of it absolute nonsense (I seem to remember commenting something similar on these pages back then) - one of the refrains is that you'll 'find yourself'. I have to say that I have not done so; rather, I have found myselves. This is not something that I particularly delight it, it is merely something I have observed - that my character and actions is heavily defined by my surroundings, or perhaps more accurately my view of my surroundings. If I think the people I'm with view me as funny and confident, I am; if I think they look up to me as a leader, I lead (or give it my best shot); I could go on for an exceedingly long list here, but you get the picture. To be so easily defined by my company is unfortunate, but even when I'm aware of it I cannot really change my way of thinking... perhaps this is why I tend to make a bad first impression (as several of my friends have made clear to me; I'm confident that many more are more tactful). Robert Murray M'Cheyne famously said "A man is what he is on his knees before God, and nothing more" and perhaps he is right. In other news - literally - it is officially 'silly season' apparently. This is the time of year when nothing important really happens, so newspapers have to resort to frankly ridiculous stories, such as the great white shark off Cornwall, or Hitler's record collection. And how do I know it's silly season (other than the calibre of stories like those mentioned above)? Because the Times tells me so on almost a daily basis - this is essentially an organ of the media saying "For a month or two, our journalistic credibility goes out the window; don't believe anything we tell you right now. Oh, but it's OK for us to print pointless nonsense without checking our sources properly; it's August". Ladies and gentlemen, rest assured that Colin's Online Diary will not cease pouring out pointless nonsense, whatever the month.
August 18th 2007
Today: Substitutes for books (8)
Escort around capital of Tennessee - it's a good place to start (7,3)
Answer: chapter one
There is a Zafira advert you might know, in which two (or, in earlier ads, three) children talk about how great their car is, in a humorous role-reversal, with their parents being fractious and so forth. This advert is a great favourite of my parents', but I feel that it somewhat lost its charm the third or fourth time around, when the kids were about 13 years old and the ability to talk was no longer impressive. I was going to mention this advert anyhow, but events today have given even more pressing reason to spend time musing on it; in the original (and still quite charming) advert, the final line is "Oh, they're tired" said in Yorkshire accent, rib-ticklingly (to digress from the point here, if you're looking for other rib-tickling Yorkshire accent based stuff, please search out the rehearsal for our very own Four Yorkshiremen sketch, which is on YouTube somewhere). Anyways, today Simon claimed that it was in fact 'overtired' being said - he is (as usual) wrong, but it transpires that he is not alone in making this mistake. Amazing. In other news, I definitely should have received something from AXA, and so my current theory is that it's been sent to Westwood Road in error - I have left a message with the Student Programme Co-Ordinator, and will get back in contact with him on Monday. But can I ask those among my readership who are Christian to pray that this all runs smoothly - I have no idea how this fiasco (maybe I exaggerate...) will affect anything. God willing, not badly. But it will be good to actually get it sorted.
August 22nd 2007
Today: Import poor, poor gin (7)
Substitutes for books (8)
I feel I owe you an update on the job front - praise the Lord, because (among many other much better reasons) my new boss (or one of 'em) phoned, I still have a job, all is well with the world. So I move over to Bristol a week tomorrow - woah - and hopefully the contract for my new house will come through soon. While I'm updating you, I should mention my stolen identity - I won't go into details, because it might lead to further identity theft (my PIN is 1111108392874, by the way. I know most people's are just four digits, but what can I say?) but the transaction apparently took place at midnight. When, curiously, Post Offices tend not to be open. What's going on? What's happening? The answer to all (both) these question, and many more, can be conjectured by you.
August 27th 2007
Today: The Darling Buds of May author has to pose for book stalls (9)
Import poor, poor gin (7)
Frequent and long-term readers of this page will know that every now and then I write something rather personal, then cover it up with a joke or enigmatic remark, and rather hope no one mentions it to my face. These are the entries that, if I'm ever reading over what I've written in past months, I skip embarrassedly over. Which is why, after some deliberation, I've decided not to do that today - at least, not beyond what's above. Instead, let me tell you a bit about my weekend; Mum and Dad celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary last Thursday, and had a large get-together over the weekend to further commemorate the occasion. I was asked to invite sundry University friends to join the fun, so it was that Ant, Rich, Dave, Chris, Tom and Rob (in that order) arrived in deepest, darkest Zummerzet to enjoy such disparate activites as Ultimate frisbee, Scrabble and barn dancing. The occasion was a good one (even if I didn't get anywhere near as much sleep as I'd have liked, and Rich announced upon arriving that he was dying) and, although I haven't thrown a frisbee in anger for a year, or barn danced for several, both came back to me almost immediately (in the latter case, I was never very good, so regaining my previous skill was hardly impressive...). The fact that men outnumbered women meant that our party was often largely by the side of the room, but for that you have to blame Simon's friends who said they'd come, then went to Rome instead. You know who you are. Anyways, it was grand to see Uni people again - as it was to see several of the other attendees - even if I don't know when I'll next see any of them, apart from vague plans for next January. I start work a week today, and must start preparing in some way (a brief glance at notes on statistics, or some kind of reading up on actuarial science would be useful). Rest assured I shall maintain this diary even when I'm doing the 9-5 slog.
August 29th 2007
Today: Blue feathers (4)
The Darling Buds of May author has to pose for book stalls (9)
Tomorrow is the day I move to Bristol, and by Monday I'll have started work. One has to ask oneself, at this stage, is there anything that could have gone wrong that didn't? The answer is, of course, yes - but it doesn't necessarily feel that way right now. The latest mess-up is the fact that I can't find my A-Level certificates; I've found some statements of results (curiously, they are photocopies, which means the originals must be elsewhere - with the certificates, perhaps?) and the lass at Security Watchdog said they were OK, but I await the return phonecall to say that they're not. Besides, it would be nice to have the actual certificates. In less important news, I've recently begun playing Scrabble over facebook (I know, I know) and had a played 12, won 12 record until Anthony came along. He defeated me by 6 points in our first game, and is well on the way to thrashing me in our second. For further details, see his blog, where he has reproduced the board from the first game in its entirety. Help! Maybe I should take to demoralising him with taunts... speaking of which, let me cross over to the world of football for a moment. Frank Lampard is an excellent midfielder, and he just so happens to be English - he has won a couple of 'footballer of the year' awards in recent years, and is a frequent scorer for Chelsea. Despite this, a hefty number of England fans have decided he's rubbish, and - even more ludicrously - fat, and have taken the trouble to tell him so on numerous occasions. Frank has not taken kindly to this, which has led most members of the press (and fans) to suggest that he is thin-skinned - this is even more ludicrous! Not being happy because several thousand people yell abuse at you, as an individual, is a totally normal reaction. Getting upset because national newspapers print hurtful nonsense about you is, again, par for the course. It's about time fans and media realised that players are people too. For that matter, it's about time people realised that all celebrities are human beings - some actress (Keira Knightley, possibly) pointed out that, whichever way you look at it, scoring people out of 10 on Oscar night is plain rude.
August 31st 2007
Today: Indication of modern trends, with a lion and a unicorn? (4,2,3,5)
Blue feathers (4)
So, yesterday I moved to Bristol. Yes, I have officially left home, and it's unlikely I will ever return to the family homestead as a resident, even if I have a designated room there. This is a peculiar feeling that I haven't grasped yet. In many ways the sensations aren't disimilar to going to Uni - Coventry was my de facto home for three years - but no matter how much of the year I spent there, it was always definedly temporary. At this early stage, I see the house I'm living in now as temporary - I have no idea how long I'll be here, but there's every chance that I'll head elsewhere at the end of the six month contract, having made friends and connections both at work and at church. Assuming I've found a church by then - there are certainly plenty to choose from. You're probably keen to know what the house is like (so visit me!) - it's a trifle ramshackle, and there is enough furniture kicking around to support a huge army of folk, rather than the four of us currently residing here. Having said that, I'm not sure I've yet been with more than one of the others at once... maybe it's the same person, in a variety of exceptionally convinving costumes. Anyways, work starts on Monday, so that'll be a whole new set of experiences... keep praying for me, folks.
Something I read somewhere, sometime (ah, precision): if you're bored, try the fun game of writing a YouTube comment that's so stupid, everyone knows you're joking. Hint: this is impossible.