October 1st 2007
Today: Good walk: run better (7)
Endless vibrato on 'Born on the Fourth of July' - it's old hat (6)
We gotta make the most of our one night together, when it's over y'know we'll both be so alone - Bat Out of Hell
OK, Meat Loaf was probably talking about sex (though the two concepts do not sit together well) but I think the idea applies across the board - as exactly how not to live. Now, I'm no expert on how to live (well, beyond the basics) but I know that trying desperately to soak up the present with one eye on the undesirable future is a sure recipe for unhappiness. I know this because that was how I spent much of the Summer before Uni, and because it wasn't how I spent my final weeks at Warwick. I know that taking things for granted is supposed to be a bad thing, but I think it can actually be excellent: if you're constantly reminding yourself that you've got it good, then you probably haven't - if it's only when you look back that you realise how fortunate you were, then I think you've had it best (although, of course, this might well signify you're not having a great time in the present moment. Not necessarily, though). As I've mentioned before, I've really missed Uni in the weeks and months since graduating, and the not infrequent meet-ups etc have been great, but also brought back some of the pain of moving on. The latest reunion of sorts was last weekend, when Ant came over to my place in Bristol, then we headed up to Lameington (old loyalties die hard) for Eleanor's birthday party (well, it was a party of several reasons, that included) on Saturday night. Before that, we met up with Rob on campus, and felt extremely old while all around us freshers tried to look confident while drinking and wearing T-shirts saying 'flirt'. It was grand to see Mr. Roe again, and wish him well on his third year efforts - his masterplan to maximise his result by steadfastly refusing to have any friends is nothing short of genius. Anyways, on the Sunday I saw Adam, Steve, Clare and plenty of folk from QRBC (my old church), where Grenville (my old vicar) announced that he was leaving in a few months. On Sunday evening I headed home, and here I am now... the rest of the house (who are here) are watching 300, so I may join the fun. I leave you with an irrelevant cartoon.
October 2nd 2007
Today: Awful speed: speed awful (9)
Good walk: run better (7)
Thank you to Ant, who is my new spellcheck, for pointing out my (now corrected) error yesterday. Apologies to my readership, who have come to expect better things. In the same email, he told me that he'd solved yesterday's clue almost immediately, and pondered whether it was easier than usual. The answer is: not intentionally, so congrats to him (unless it's a damning indictment on the calibre of my clue-writing). I quite liked the clue myself (although the phrasing was ugly), as I feel it was misleading to the beginner... when you read a clue that's full of bats, overs and sticky wickets, you can be confident the solution is nothing to do with cricket. But taking yesterday's clue, while you can more or less discount transport a pied, you may be tricked into thinking of better=superior. So there you go. In other news, I started studying yesterday, my first 3.5 hour session of many - indeed, two a week for the next 5ish years. It was good to get back into maths, although concentrating and remaining productive for that period of time isn't the easiest. I'll let you know how I get on.
October 7th 2007
Today: Somewhat curious port (3)
Awful speed: speed awful (9)
A quick note to let you know I was at Cairns Road Baptist Church this morning, and thought it good - I'll be there next Sunday morning. Tonight is Woodies again, which means I'll miss Top Gear (tough choice, I have to say - but it repeats on Wednesday night). Also thought I'd mention Princess Diana - if she can add half a million sales by being on the front cover of a newspaper, surely she can crank up another half-million hits to this web page by being mentioned? It's no secret that I'm not her biggest fan, but I have been surprised by the change in public mood to the 'People's Princess'. She's been a sacred cow for a long time, but around the time of the ten-year anniversary newspapers started printing pieces that were less than complimentary. At first they were merely criticising the public outpouring of grief in 1997, emphasising how odd, and rather unnerving, it all was - this was a private matter, but people were grieving like their own sister had died. But gradually the articles came to criticise Diana herself - Germaine Greer wrote an almost vitriolic piece that even I thought was over the top, and she wasn't shouted down. I'm not saying it's a bad thing that people remove the halo from Diana's head, but frankly unpleasant pieces about her personal faults are no better than the awed eulogies to which we're used. It is curious how distaste at public reaction has led to attacks on the object of that reaction: for the same thing has happened to the McCanns - perhaps embarrassed by another emotional public involvement in a private matter, the newspapers have turned (subtly in some cases) against the parents, who have done little to deserve it. Anyhow, Diana's back in the news, in one of the stupidest court investigations ever. A little audience participation: could you please raise your hand if you believe Diana was killed on orders from Prince Philip? Now could you put your hand down if you read the Daily Express. Now could you put your hand down if your surname is Al Fayed. Now could you put your hand down if you believe the Iraq war was 'all about oil'. Any hands still up? Thought not...
October 8th 2007
Today: Shifty leprechaun I'd be beyond understanding (14)
Somewhat curious port (3)
Am I getting stupider? It's just that I'm losing almost all the games of Scrabble I'm currently playing over Facebook (thanks for ensuring it's not a clean sweep, Ant), and mostly by quite a large margin. But, of course, Rich cheated. Anyways, onto more important things: yesterday was the Times Crossword championship final, and I won it. Well, that's not entirely (or at all) true - but it was won by Peter Biddlecombe, who runs the 'Times for the Times' blog that goes through the crossword each day, so I've been in communication with the chap. In fact, one time I pointed out to him that 'tantamount' was the word for which he was looking, not 'catamount'... good times. All three crosswords from the final are in today's Times, so I'm gonna get cracking on 'em (already done three clues from the first, one of which is given above). Before I love you and leave you, I'll thank Dad for pointing out that the entry for 2nd October went missing from the archive - and I'll thank Google Desktop for finding a cached version of this page in my temporary internet files, so the archive is now up to date. In fact, since it was Dad who persuaded me to download Google Desktop, I reckon he gets the credit there too.
October 14th 2007
Today: I whinge about girl (5)
Shifty leprechaun I'd be beyond understanding (14)
Today's clue is a bit of an old chestnut, but since people complained about the length of yesterday's, I think that you guys deserve a break. Also, you're probably worn out from all the sporting excitement... to fill you in on the activites of my life, I was at Cairns Road Baptist Church again this morning, and got to know the lovely Kate, Ben and Anna (and others, including the folk who fed us well) a little better. Nice crowd. In the evening I helped Carolyn (and I apologise if this is not how her name is spelled...) put together what might the most confusing bookcase Ikea has ever produced - we are young, intelligent people, and it took us a long time with a few false starts (and a cut finger), which makes me wonder how doddery old people ever manage. One suspects they don't. If you old and/or doddery, please let me know how you get on with Swedish furniture. In other news, dyou know how many DVDs I've bought in the 6 and a half weeks since I moved in? A hell of a lot, is the answer... none of them too expensive, really, but it all adds up. But I've not bought many CDs in that time (Blondie, Eric Clapton, Crazy/Beautiful soundtrack, Snow Patrol... think that's it. Actually, that's quite a few). Speaking of music, it's Cliff Richard's birthday today (and Lizzy's) so happy birthday Cliff - keep rockin'. That's a good ending to a diary entry, so I'll leave it there. For now.
October 15th 2007
Today: Uproar in China, say (7)
I whinge about girl (5)
Time was, this page would be my first port of call when something mundane but slightly diverting caught my attention. Now, more often than not, it hits Facebook first. And so it was that I added to my profile a list of people who you might not think were Austrian: that list comprises Adolf Hitler and Marie Antoinette. Thinking about it, it could well include Bob Monkhouse, Salvidor Dali and Bill Gates - after all, no one thinks they're Austrian. And with good cause. Anyways, speaking of Johnny Foreigner, do you know what time England are playing the Ruskies on Wednesday? 4pm, that's when! It's an abomination, and I'm hoping my boss will take kindly to my efforts to finish a couple of hours early. All this watching of football and rugby (by the by, anyone else think the England coach looks like Paul Daniels?) is making me feel very manly, and that feeling hasn't been hurt by helping to put together a chest of drawers yesterday - cutting myself, manfully, in the process - and aiding in the creation of fire tonight. It's like I'm made of man. In other news, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip - Matthew Perry's latest venture, which I've mentioned here before - kicks off on Channel 4 this week (Wednesday? Thursday? Something like that) and I recommend checking it out - sadly I've missed almost the entire series on More4, and I'll usually be in bed when it's on C4 I think, but I'll get the DVD boxset in time. It's not really a comedy, although there are funny moments: from the creator of West Wing... also features Amanda Peet of The Whole Nine Yards fame, and the guy who played Turk's brother on Scrubs. Let me leave you tonight with another cartoon from xkcd.com, which I've cleaned up a bit.
October 16th 2007
Today: Battle site in part of Germany presumably (5)
Uproar in China, say (7)
In the midst of England's fifth 3-0 victory in a row - itself slightly overshadowed by the rugby - you may not have noticed Joleon Lescott making his debut as a second-half substitute. The young (actually 25 now, which surprised me) Everton defender came up through the ranks at Wolves, and we always knew he'd play for England one day... next up, Matt Murray. Mark my words. Anyways, it was grand to see him playing for his country, making him the first former Wolves player to wear the three lions since... well, probably Tim Flowers. Of course, we had Steve Bull in the 1990 World Cup - 13 caps and 4 goals, thank you very much. In other news, it's not yet close enough to my birthday to get excited (although it might be close enough to Becky's...) but this year is different to almost all previous years. You see, most years when someone asks me what I want for my birthday, I say 'Surprise me', so they say 'How about a tea bag, that would be a surprise!', then if there's someone nearby who fancies themselves a wit, they say 'It won't be a surprise now!' so the first person, not wanting to lost control of the joke, pretends to be disappointed and tuts, saying 'I'll have to think of something else'. If there's a particularly unfunny person in the vicinity, they will then say 'Like a tea spoon, perhaps!' and, depending on how charitable the others are feeling, someone will laugh slightly and change the subject, otherwise there will be a rather uncomfortable pause before someone changes the subject. And so we are no closer to knowing what I want for my birthday. But this year, as I say, is different: my birthday list comprises of a sandwich toaster and a DVD player. Get in quick, folks.
October 24th 2007
Today: My laptop's broken (4,5)
Battle site in part of Germany presumably (5)
I know I've not been around for a while - at first this was just because I couldn't remember what it was I wanted to write (fear not, I've actually made a list with pen and paper, so that one's solved). Then my laptop died. So here's the plan: I'm getting a new one, which should - emphasis on 'should', or 'which' if you're doing a Chandler impression - be in action by Monday or Tuesday. At the moment, in case you were wondering, I'm using Pete's - so cheers, Pete. And I'll see the rest of you anon.
October 31st 2007
Today: Songwriter stops warden from being wild, according to Spooner (5,6)
My laptop's broken (4,5)
Answer: poor Colin
I have to apologise for last time's crossword clue - because, in fact, it wasn't really a clue at all. It was just me feeling sorry for myself. Today's clue is that little bit feeble, in honesty, but I couldn't find a better way to crowbar in what I thought was a pretty neat Spoonerism. Anyways, since I last wrote, I have a brand spanking new laptop and Windows Vista - I know it's received some bad press, but I didn't really have an option... and you know we're all gonna end up using it anyhow, so why fight the power that is Mr. Gates? In other news, I think I mentioned that I'd taken to writing down (with pen and paper!) subjects for this page, because I kept forgetting what I wanted to write - well, in time-honoured fashion, I'm going to ignore the whole bally list, and write instead about the best moments of my life (perhaps because I'm going through one of the more difficult periods?). Of the four I've thought of, three happened while at Uni - this says as much about my poor memory as it does about how great a time I had at Uni. Although I did. Anyways, to get the non-Uni one out of the way, it was not so much a moment as a day - I was still at school, and I took the train home with the girl I loved. We walked, we talked, it was very natural. But, of course (and all of these moments are gonna have grey linings) it was all a pipe dream, and that day was a mirage in the desert. The second moment in my list is results day in first year, in which I greatly surpassed my own expectations by scoring 88%. I've never felt as euphoric as I did in that moment - in second and third year it felt good, but it was more relief than joy - in the first year, it was joy and amazement. But it marked the end of a great year for me, in which I'd felt on a level playing field with everyone else, maths-wise, for the first time I could remember. Worth it, this time, though. The third moment was the final step over the border into Scotland, having hitched there with Ant - the sense of achievement, and relief after the previous five hours or so of seemingly interminable walking, was amazing. Of course, the very fact that a large part of the joy was the end of toil is a downside - and, of course, it was a pity that you can't haggis in Gretna at 10.30pm. Oh, and I ended the night sleeping on a park bench. So onto the fourth and final moment (these weren't in order, by the way), which is the Four Yorkshire (or Four Warwick Students) sketch I adapted and performed with Andy, Rich and Ant (wow... Ant's managed to sneak into three of these, since he was there when I got first year results, too). I sometimes think I was born to be a performer, rather than an actuary - the pure and simple joy of making people laugh and applaud is a great, great feeling. As we left the stage, with glass-clinking and high-fives a-go-go... it was excellent. But, of course, there's always something to mar the picture a little, and in this case it was Andy's line "I used to go to Queen's Road just for the tea. Right small cups, though." The first half got such a large laugh, the second half was completely drowned out, making the next line ("You were lucky to have a cup!") a trifle nonsensical. I still think I should have said the second half and rescued the moment. So there you go, my four best moments (and the reasons they weren't perfect). I'm gonna finish by apologising for not being completely myself right now... no real reason, I just feel very up and down. Pray for peace.