Yearly Archives: 2006

Our Masks

Last Friday night I saw The Scissor Sisters play Wembley Arena; a venue that had been cleaned up considerably since I was last there. Even if you didn’t feel like dancin’ you probably were at the end of the evening. I wish I had Jake’s boundless energy but sadly I am sitting here thinking about sleep.

Ana Matronic came across as a much more dynamic force than she does when listening to the music or watching their television appearances. Apart from the constant repetition of ‘we’re your Scissor Sisters’ she made the links between the music much more interesting than many artists I’ve been to see over the years. Truthfully, I like it when they talk a little bit. I think that makes me old. Why can’t they just turn the music down and talk? Anyway, Ms Matronic encouraged the audience to remove the metaphorical masks we wear. She wanted us to dance.

This got me thinking about masks and not in a Jim Carrey/Stanley Ipkiss kind of way. Just the masks we wear each day in everything we do. What we say and who we are is often nothing but a show for the people we are with. The rules of our social groups mean that our mask may not be uncommon but is it who we really are? As Ana told Lynn Barber in last weekend’s Observer newspaper, ‘Even in everyday life, people use clothing to express something about themselves’ and that’s just part of the mask. Are the socks you pull from the drawer in the dark mornings you or how you want to be represented?

It was with these thoughts of masks that I read Dave’s post, ‘You Want Honesty‘, yesterday evening. Interestingly, I referenced his original discussion of what to (and what not to) blog last Friday – the very day Ana was encouraging me to throw of the masks.

What frustrated me most was the very thought that ‘You Want Honesty’ had to be written. We are all mask wearers. We all present a part of ourselves to other people each day. We are rarely the same person with everybody we know. I don’t see the problem with any of this. A personal site like this is nothing more than a snapshot of my world just as Soliloqueer is another view of the world.

But even if you don’t believe in the sock/mask metaphor that I am using there is another aspect to ‘You Want Honesty‘ that got me thinking: why does nobody value privacy any more? We all want to know everything about each other. We want to know what Brad & Angelina are doing all day. Why? I think Soliloqueer should be allowed a little privacy don’t you? Wanting a little bit of privacy does not make you a self-loathing closet case, does it?

Remember, everything is really smoke and mirrors.

On this day…

2005: All Change At Capital
2005: Civil Partnership: Update From Scotland
2004: Oh the fun I’m having…
2004: Gary Lucy’s Birthday
2003: Pop TV
2003: Linguistic Sensitivity

A Blog Is Like Concrete Shoes

On Monday I blew some of the cobwebs off the site and actually posted something of length that wasn’t a link to another site. I blamed the urge to write on reading The Guardian on my flight to Finland and that might be relevant but I suspect it’s also something to do with the current state of the blogs I read.

At various times on this site I have tried to avoid the term ‘blog’. I don’t really like it. Some people don’t like the word ‘moist’. It makes them feel a bit, well, ikky (is that a word?). The term ‘blog’ does the same for me but I shall have to seek therapy because these days everybody from the afore mentioned Guardian to the BBC via The Telegraph and The Economist seems to have a blog of some description. I am now embracing the word from this point on. Bloggety blog blog (see, cured).

Anyway, at last count (about 5 seconds ago) Bloglines had a feed of 124 subscriptions for my account (not all of them public). Take off the 15 I read for work (well, I subscribe then delete all the items when they get to about 100) and that’s still well over 100 things I am ‘watching’. But only a few of them are things I read. I listed some of them in 2002, although that list is dated with a good number of dead links. But few people are writing any more and those that are penning words are doing at such a rate that I have a scary back catalogue of entries to read: Steve, that includes you. So, either I have too much to read that I’m scared to wade in or I have reams of other people’s links that I don’t want to follow.

Anyway, in need of something better I decided that I should start writing once again. I once said that I only did this for my own amusement (and when I used to look at Listen To Musak’s logs I would have said that was very true) so I’ve decided to add a few more entries and see how we go but, and I bet I’ve said this before but I can’t be bothered to check, this time it will be different.

When I started this (for my own amusement, remember) I enjoyed the act of sitting down and writing. Truthfully, I am not sure I ever wrote a word that was very interesting to others (although Happy Birthday in Russian seems to keep bringing people to the site – twice) but it’s a record of my life that isn’t captured anywhere else. There’s a reason the ‘on this day’ links are at the end of very entry. I click. I find it interesting to place myself back a few years. Last Monday’s entry had four back years for that day and I was fascinated to see that I made references to Blur, traffic congestion, spam and Big Brother in the preceding years; I guess they are still topics of conversation now. And you don’t really get that sense of personal history from a list of links to other things (which become dead links by the time your nostalgic enough to check them).

After a while, however, a blog becomes like a pair of concrete shoes. It weighs you down and you begin to sink. I don’t blog about work, family or my boyfriend (hey, Dave, you’re not the only one) and sometimes I ask what am I doing it for? I wonder if you can get treatment for some kind of non-blogging depression? That’s what happened here. I wanted to post daily. I wanted to build that sense of personal history. But I couldn’t. It was too much so it faded.

And now I’m starting again. Less concerned about tracking life and probably with not much more to say but with a heightened sense of why I am doing it.

I wanted to end with a triumphant ‘read on’ but you can’t do that until I write the next piece. And who knows when that will be?

On this day…

2005: Manchester United Legend Is Close To Death
2005: Change Your Coffee Shop Now
2004: Regent Street, London
2003: Bye Bye Bush Baby

My Name’s Not Bond

I really like the new James Bond film. I think what Daniel Craig has done with the role is excellent. I prefer the back-to-basic approach over the movies that relied on gadgets and digital effects. It’s more Jason Bourne and, for me, that can only be a good thing. This, however, isn’t a review as I am certain you can find plenty of decent ones if you Google.

I saw Casino Royale last Saturday. On the way home I mentioned – in passing – that I had always wanted to be a secret agent. I have always assumed that every kid wanted to be a secret agent at some point. Isn’t this is a perfectly normal thing to say? PY, however, couldn’t stop laughing. It was the kind of amusement that was induced as soon as he set eyes on me. His mouth would curl up and his shoulders start that laughter quiver; he had to look away. I was a little dumbstruck. I take it for granted that I don’t look like a spy but isn’t that what being undercover is all about?

Sadly, however, I have to agree that I am not very spy-like. For starters I am not sure I could, Bourne-like, blow a house up with a toaster and a rolled up newspaper. I couldn’t leap building cranes with anything approaching a Bond-like skill. The final proof that I couldn’t cut the MI6 mustard is that I’m useless in foreign restaurants.

You may have gathered from Monday’s post that I am in Finland. I am on business but I am not with any colleagues. Sometimes I must eat on my own in a foreign city. I paced Helsinki the other night looking for a restaurant. I had forgotten my book which, as any solo traveller will tell you is the key to eating alone in restaurants. Have a good book and hide behind it. You eat slower that way and can hide from the local’s stares as they wonder why you have no friends and must resort to dining alone.

Had I been a Bond/Bourne spy I would have walked into the finest dining room in the city, ordered drink in fluent Finnish, had the maître d find me a decent table and have struck up an interesting conversation before they put the olive on the stick. Whereas I sulked in a corner and tried to not to lose my scarf.

You hear that travel broadens the mind (it’s like an exercise for the brain, apparently) but I don’t agree. I am sure a certain type of travel expands horizons but my kind only serves to expand the waistline (dining alone you comfort eat for a party of five). I’ve done the airport-taxi-hotel-office-taxi-airport run enough times to make almost every European city appear identical. This week’s arrival in Finland reinforced the feeling that I want to be here on holiday but not on business; I want to see something new.

The day was damp and cold when we landed and it was already getting dark at 3.30pm. I had hoped for snow but there wasn’t any so I got taken straight to my hotel. We passed the outdoor ice-hokey game which, I guess, must be everywhere in winter. I wanted to watch but I have no idea how to get to them. I worked in my hotel room. I didn’t sleep on the first night (I never sleep well on the first night in a hotel). I went to meetings. I drank too much coffee (do secret agents rely on caffeine too?).

It is a perfectly normal business trip. Sure, I hear you. Go out, mix with the locals, live a little. That, though, is a little too Bond-like for me. I guess Bond would have had a hidden revolver to get himself out of any local difficulties. I wouldn’t have made it through the airport with one and so, I comfort myself, that I don’t look good in black and, truthfully, Judi Dench scares me a little.

On this day…

2005: From The Sky Newsdesk

Children In Need Is Britain’s version of Thanksgiving

Children In Need is Britain’s version of Thanksgiving. It comes around every November and it changes the television schedules (not always for the better). And that’s about where the similarities end but they say you start a piece of writing with a punchy statement to hook your audience. So, there you go. Thank me later.

I am fairly sure that the good folks in America have their very own Terry Wogan (the American version may also be a genial Irishman given the number of people from the Emerald Isle who shipped across the water) but I have no idea and can’t pretend I care for there really is nobody to rival Sir Terry (he is a Sir, Wikipedia told me so and – therefore – must be true).

Children In Need, of course, was last Friday night. You might have tuned in for Jonathan Ross but you got Kim and Aggie trying to clean a Status Quo dressing room. I imagine you’re over the trauma now. It’s Monday and I am wittering on about it purely because The Guardian – free on Finair flights from London Heathrow – has an item on a week in the life of a Pudsey (well, the bloke in the costume, Leeds version). As one of Wogan’s listeners would no doubt email his show, ‘what is the world coming to when Pudsey is attacked by scallies in Bradford’? Seriously, I’m turning all Daily Mail indignant about it.

It’s this sudden surge of middle-Englandness that has prompted me to pick up the Listen To Musak quill once more. For it’s not only hoodies attacking Pudsey that got me all stirred up while reading the paper but the very notion that Dame Shirley Bassey is singing about a night on ecstasy in the current Christmas Marks and Spencer television commercial. I imagine, if I wear a legal type, I should add that Dame Shirls probably didn’t know what Pink’s ‘Get The Party Started’ was all about. And why should she? If truth be known, nor did I until I read it in, guess, today’s Guardian (really, there was nothing else to do on the plane).

Should you ever admit to liking a television commercial? I am not sure that you should but I do like the M&S ad. If you don’t know Marks and Spencer – and their place in British life – then you probably won’t get it and you could skip to the last paragraph. But it’s smart, plays nicely on the current James Bond mania and, let’s face it, must have cost a fortune (which I think is a good thing in tv advertising).

In fact, I love it so much I YouTube’d it (isn’t that what all the kids are doing these days?) Go view it. But then I found a rendition of Goldfinger by the very same Dame Shirley Bassey which is also fantastic (and is, if you believe Saturday night’s Channel Four countdown show, the most popular Bond theme of all time). Then I found Sheena Easton’s For Your Eyes Only. You know that one. Sheena was a nice girl-next-door type who sang about being a Modern Girl but then went glam singing the Bond title sequence and gazing into your eyes as you gazed at her in the cinemas of 1981. Oh, You Tube has Modern Girl too.

So, before I get hooked, I better go.

On this day…

2005: Modern Life Is Rubbish
2004: Another Grid Lock
2003: Movable Type Pro, Soon?
2002: I Want A Career (And I Want It Now)

There Can’t Be A Winner In Football Unless There’s A Loser

I didn’t do much on Sunday night but I did watch Sky One’s The Match:

Shocks aplenty on The Match, as Graham Taylor announced the squad of 22 celebrities that he will take to St James’ Park next month for this year’s big encounter with the Legends. No Nick Pickard from Hollyoaks, no Dave Jones from Sky Sports News and (here’s the real bone-shaker) no Philip Olivier from Brookside

[Source: Times Online].

Blogged with Flock

On this day…

2004: Weekend In Britain’s Smallest County
2003: Gay Teens Right To Privacy
2002: Fast Food Nation

Red Bull part company with Klien

Just a few weeks ago I mentioned that Christian Klien might not have a drive next season. Well, he hasn’t got one for the rest of this season either! According to BBC Sport, “Red Bull have dropped driver Christian Klien for the rest of the season after he turned down the team’s offer of a Champ Car drive next season” The good news is that the same article suggests that “Klien is tipped for a role with the new Spyker team after the Dutch sportscar maker bought the struggling Midland team”.

On this day…

2007: Green Before Her Time
2005: A New Beginning
2004: Fish For Me
2002: Still The Same Bart
2002: A JavaScript Moment
2002: One Year On

Schumacher to quit at end of year

After a fantastic race in Italy, Michael Schumacher announced his retirement. The seven-time world champion will retire from Formula One at the end of the season. Ferrari also announced that Kimi Raikkonen has signed a three-year deal and Felipe Massa’s contract has been extended to the end of 2008. More at BBC Sport.

On this day…

2007: A Mastery Of Technology
2005: Staying For Breakfast
2004: Where’s Matt’s Tongue?
2003: A Video Moment
2002: Around The World

Technology Overkill?

I’ve been reading Lifehacker for a while now. I really like the Getting Things Done (GTD) articles. Keith Robinson’s Getting to Done: How GTD made my Treo obsolete really made me think about how I use my Treo! Mind you, I am still using the little gadget even if I do feel that I am carrying too much stuff around with me. Having all those client phone numbers when in the pub can’t be a good thing.

On this day…

2004: Long Wave Is The Home Of Hit Music
2003: Listen to Musak in August
2003: Now Reading
2002: The Joy of September

Windows Information Organiser

Keeping large amounts of information together on a computer can be a complex business. I’ve read great review of both Yojimbo and NoteTaker but they are both Mac-based products. If you’re aware of anything similar for the PC then please let me know via the comments.

On this day…

2004: Data Data Everywhere
2004: All The News You Need
2002: Time

Formula One Calendar 2007 For Outlook Import

A couple of years ago I made a csv file that allowed you to easily import the Formula One calendar for that year into your Outlook file. I didn’t get round to making one for the 2005 or 2006 seasons despite the fact that I got the occasional email from people asking about it. Yesterday, the official 2007 Formula 1 calendar was announced and I knocked together a quick .csv file that will import the dates into Outlook. Trust me, the data will need updating. I suspect the times, distances and (possibly) some of the tracks are not accurate. I was doing it in a rush so please keep an eye on the Formula One section to see if I update it at all.

Again I have provided the file as a .zip that you must first extract the .csv from. Then, in Outlook, you will need to go to the File menu and Import the data (import from another program or file) and place it in the calendar. The file is provided as is and you use it at your own risk. I don’t know anyway you can remove it without deleting each entry individually. Once again, I have included a category name ‘Formula One’ so you can easily find all the entries this file creates. It should be easier to find them in Outlook and remove them if you need to. If you already have a Formula One category in your Outlook calendar you may want to edit the file before importing so you can change the category name. The file is fairly simple and you should be able to read it in any spreadsheet program (and even some text file readers will read it).

I know the previous files were downloaded a number of times. If you download this one then why leave a comment and let me know that you’re using it.

PS: Google did a great one for this year’s races so I hope they’re going to do the same for next year.

On this day…

2002: Cookie Me