Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sunday fun, part 2

About 12.20 am
The paramedic arrives. He takes my details and information about what has happened, doubtless as much to check my mental state as for diagnosis purposes. He then encourages me to sit up very slowly, before helping me to my feet and walking me through the kitchen and into the lounge, where we wait for the ambulance. His name is Les or Len, I remember -- it was on his name badge -- and he gives me some oxygen to help counter my lightheadedness. He also takes a small blood sample from my left thumb to check something...

The ambulance arrives and Wife lets the staff into the house. They are two young blonde women. Even in this debilitated state, my vanity allows me an internal chuckle at how much of a mess I look sitting there, at 37 years of age, probably with vomit round my mouth and wearing a Simpsons pyjama top. This same top (which is T-shirt stylee) will go on to feel more conspicuous as the night runs into early morning.

The ambulance girls ask many of the same questions that the paramedic had asked, and between the three of them and Wife (who was concerned I may have had some kind of seizure) they decided I ought to get checked out at the hospital. We are advised to bring some money to get back from the hospital afterwards. I am helped to the ambulance, where I lie down on a gurney and am given more oxygen by mask. Wife joins me inside, and many of the same questions are asked yet again, this time for the purposes of documentation. We then set off on the 10-mile journey.

Wow, talk about a bumpy ride! I stay on my back the entire time, feeling every dip and hump in the road on the sparsely padded gurney. Once in a while I smile at Wife, who is seated down near my feet, though I don't know how visible my smiles are through the mask.

The short trip takes about 20 minutes, I guess -- difficult to say -- and on arrival I am unhooked from the oxygen and helped down the steps and into a wheelchair in the hospital car park. I sit and immediately throw up once exposed to the cool night air. And again. And again. And I think once more. Wife heaved as the wind carried the scent of my expulsions towards her.

I seem to have emptied myself, so I am wheeled into the A&E (accident and emergency) reception area to await the triage nurse.

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Sunday fun, part 1

12 midnight Sunday night going into Monday morning
I wake covered in sweat, feeling for all the world that I need to throw up or take a dump. I jump out of bed, groaning loudly at the inevitability of the situation, and start to head for the stairs down to the bathroom. All the while I am aware that (a) I can hardly walk straight and (b) Wife is calling out, asking if I'm okay. At the last three steps I stumble, virtually falling the rest of the way. I crash into the kitchen and make my way through most of its length. I drop.

Next thing I know it's a couple of minutes later. I wake, wondering where I am. I'm in the bathroom now, lying on my side on the floor. I kneel over the toilet and let rip. I'm also now aware that Wife is on the phone trying to get an ambulance. She sounds very stressed. I had been unresponsive to her attempts to revive me from my blackout. My teeth had been clenched fast, and my body as stiff as a board. She is advised over the phone not to give me anything to drink and to come and check I'm breathing. By now she has heard me throwing up, so she knows I'm awake, but she comes to check I'm okay anyway, then returns to the phone.

She is told to leave the curtains open and the lights on inside so the paramedics know for sure which house to visit. Then she comes back to me for a couple of minutes while we wait. It seems like forever. I can hardly talk, I'm slurring badly, and I can barely lift my arms, legs, or head. Everything seems so difficult. Still, I have enough presence of mind to ask for some trousers.

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Friday, July 27, 2007

Need a reminder of your mortality?

No, nor do I, but it seems death is everywhere right now. Much as it always is, I guess.

Sacred cow Shambo slaughtered over TB concerns

Former heavyweight champion boxer shot dead for asking someone to stop smoking

The cat that can sense that someone is dying

Way to take the fun out of life, right? Well, after all that, I think I need a lie down and a stiff drink.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007


It may well be a long way away until I get my hands tattooed, but I am currently loving this site: pages and pages of tattooed knuckles. Some are funny. Many are to be taken with a sense of humour. Knuckles for chuckles, if you will.

By the way, Shea, Adam, and other Star Wars freaks should check out this link in particular.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007


As dry as a nun's cunt, as they say. (Is that blasphemous?)
Hopefully something will come to me soon.
Meantime, I guess I'll write some movie reviews (such as they are).

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Please sign this petition...

I wouldn't normally put this sort of thing on my blog, but I feel this is an important issue. It has come to me from a reliable source: in an e-mail directly from Dogs Trust, a charity that I have supported for several years. Please read it and click the link to sign the petition even if you are not in Ireland. And please pass details on to your friends and family to do the same. Thanks. Normal service resumes beneath this post.

Urgent News from Dogs Trust.

Dublin City Council has recently banned 11 breeds of dog (including Rottweilers, Bull Terriers and German Shepherds) from all their properties, including houses, flats and estates. Existing tenants are being given a chance to rehome their animals, but if alternative accommodation can't be found, then the dogs will be destroyed. It also seems likely that these breeds will be banned from public parks - which means dog owners living in private accommodation will also be affected.

A petition to reverse the decision has been organised by Irish lobbying group ANVIL (Animals Need a Voice in Legislation). So please sign the petition today by clicking this petition link...

and please pass this on to everyone you know who cares about dogs.

To find out more about this injustice, you can visit our DoggySnaps forum here.

As we all know, it's a small minority of irresponsible owners that give breeds a bad name - to punish an entire breed and all its owners is simply ridiculous. We are urging Dublin City Council to punish "deeds not breeds."

Whilst you may not live in Ireland, breed-specific legislation is becoming more commonplace all over the world, so please help us to send a signal to legislators everywhere that dog lovers will unite to oppose ill-informed, cruel laws which punish innocent dogs and their owners.

On behalf of everyone at ANVIL and Dogs Trust, thank you for your invaluable support.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Aloha, baby!

I love Hawaiian shirts. Always have, always will. Winter, spring, summer, or fall, I will wear a Hawaiian shirt gladly.

But there has long been a problem for me where the Hawaiian shirt is concerned: on the sunniest of days when I want to protect my tattoos and yet still look the shiznit (yes, I wrote shiznit; that's how hip hop I can be at times), the Hawaiian shirt fails me. "What I really need," I used to ponder to myself and anyone unfortunate enough to be in the vicinity, "is a Hawaiian shirt with long sleeves."

Wife thought this was ridiculous. She shared my desire with Mother-in-Law, who said that surely no such thing existed.

"Maybe it doesn't," I replied. "But why not?"

So I looked online. This was about five years ago. And while looking for long-sleeved Hawaiian shirts I came across the website of Alohaland. There they proudly proclaim: "Because we make Hawaiian shirts we can do them any way you want them." And right next to this is a clicky button marked "Long Sleeves".

Every summer since then I have gone back to this website, longing for the day I get my shit in order and buy some of their shirts. That day was yesterday, my friends. I placed an order for three long-sleeves and one short-sleeve. They don't come cheap once you factor in shipping charges to the UK from Oregon and the very high likelihood of having to pay up to 25 per cent on top in import duty on arrival, but the way I figure it, (a) I can't buy the suckers over here anyway, and (b) whenever I see a shirt I like over here they always cost about £80-100 (US$160-200) each, and I just won't pay that kind of money.

With the dollar/sterling exchange rate being what it is, it seemed the right time to order. And I'm told the shirts will be with me in time for my hols, which rocks!

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

My Top Three Hot Blondes

Well, I did better than I might have anticipated in coming up with blondes eligible for my top three hot (living) blondes, and I actually came up with a long-ish list. That said, I did decide to include anyone who has ever had blonde hair. Well, not quite, but almost...

Many good suggestions were thrown at me by Wife, my readers, the postman, Cat, corpses of birds in the garden, et al, but ultimately I wanted to go with women whose work I know a bit, so it's not just about hot looks. Of course, sometimes what I "know" about a woman might purely be a fictional character thing from a film or TV show. Confusing reality with fiction, me? Surely not.

Anyways, after some to-ing and fro-ing, here, in reverse order, are my picks.

In third place:

She came late to the list, and despite clearly having those great Latin looks, Jennifer Esposito is almost always blonde-ish, or at least blonde enough to make my list. But also non-blonde enough to make a non-blondes list, too. Win-win. She was great in Summer of Sam, ... brief in Made, ... almost forgettable in Crash (but who wasn't?) ... and ... ah... Well, it's my bloody list, so do I need a reason?!

In second place:

Every nice guy loves a tragic case, some sad-faced, doe-eyed little kitten who needs you to make everything better for her. For that position, I chose Kathryn Morris from TV's Cold Case. Ice cold, but on the verge of melting.


She was almost displaced at the 11th hour, but I always had a sneaking suspicion that #1 would be Emily Procter from CSI: Miami. What does Emily have that the others don't? Well, she plays poker -- that's a plus. She loves guns (well, certainly her CSI character does). She's very intelligent (or at least she was in The West Wing). And I do like that accent... 'Nuff said? Methinks yes (or I might get into trouble).

Speaking of trouble, here's Emily reclining in a pair of those expensive designer shoes that Red likes. (One day I'll buy you a pair, sweetie! x)

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The meaning of honour

On Saturday I was interviewed by a sociologist who is writing a paper on the British honour system and what honour means to people and whether the right people are honoured in the Queen's birthday lists and the like.

I have never subjected myself to this type of experience before, but the author (let's call her M) is the sister of a neighbour, and I was asked, and I thought it would be an interesting experience.

My only fear was that I would be expected to talk on the subject at length, but I don't really know much about it, so I was happy to hear the interview would be Q&A-based.

"Q&A-based"... That's a looser term than I might have anticipated. The first Q was, "So, tell me about yourself."

Thing is, I can talk about myself until the cows come home. I'm "wind me up and watch me go" on the subject of me. It is the one subject that I reckon I know more about than anyone else on the planet. So off I went.

Every once in a while, M would interrupt to have me elaborate on a point, or to go back to something I'd said earlier to contrast against something I'd said later, or to ask a new question and take me in a different direction.

In all, we Q&A'd for about an hour and a quarter or so, and I was actually quite surprised at some of the things that came out of it. Not total surprise, I suppose, because I know myself pretty well; more surprising was the way that a total stranger will take that information and interpret it into something.

That interpretation may be wrong, of course. But when M was saying stuff back to me and (not in a bad way) pigeonholing me, she was right every time.

All of this background stuff is essential for setting my views of the honour system into some sort of context in order to see how people from different socioeconomic groups perceive the system. The whole thing got a little more complicated when I had to talk about things other than me, like honour and OBEs, MBEs, etc.

But it was a fascinating experiment for me, and I'm looking forward to reading the transcript and then doing the follow-up interview in a few weeks' time.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Prince causes a stir. And hot blonde action (help please!)

It's a long time since Prince was last making headlines, but this weekend he finally went through with his plan to shake up the music industry. We knew it was coming, and come it did.

His latest album, Planet Earth was released in the UK, ahead of its issuing elsewhere, FREE in a Sunday newspaper. The Mail on Sunday is not a rag I would ordinarily purchase, but 10 brand-new Prince tracks were enough to see me part with my £1.40 (US$2.85).

The album is released in the rest of the world at full price next week, but it will not be available via traditional routes in the UK. This was our only chance to purchase it here, apparently. I've not listened to it yet, but the snippets I've heard sound okay so far.

Another thing I'm trying to do is come up with my list of favourite blonde chicks, as encouraged by Wife, who has posted her list of hot blond blokes over here. I'm not doing so well, so please feel free to make some suggestions. Typing "hot blondes" into Google's image search doesn't seem to be giving quite the results I was hoping for... Maria Bello is on the short list, though, hence her picture above.

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Where’d the week go?

Forgive me, reader, for I have sinned. It's been four days since my last blog post...

It's been one of those weeks where not much seems to happen worthy of writing:

1. Watched a couple of movies (16 Blocks and le dîner de cons), so they'll make it over to Such As They Are sometime in the distant future. Latest review over there at the moment is the highly recommended Manon des Sources.

2. Been working -- same ol', same ol'.

3. Got the year's expenses receipts organized for the accountant.

4. Bought some jeans from The Gap for £13.59 ($27), which was a total bargain. They were discounted anyway, and then I had a further 20 per cent off for a missing button on the fly!

5. Heard some disappointing news from my brother in his bid to get on The X Factor: in short, he didn't make it.

6. Watched more episodes of Seinfeld. Wife and I are working through all the episodes on DVD in chronological order. It opens it up to a whole new level of brilliance, seeing how the storylines run through entire blocks of shows. Genius.

7. Bought an aerial lead so I could get the Freeview channels on our TV. That way we can now record one channel while watching another, a luxury we haven't been afforded for years. Sure, I know there's fuck all on TV, but you can guarantee that, like buses, two good shows always come along at once.

8. I haven't shaved.

So, that's it. A week in the life of a 30-something self-employed man who blogs.

What will next week bring? Well, among other things I have the series finale of Heroes to look forward to. That's on Monday night. Beyond that, friends and loved ones, it's a blank canvas. Wish me luck...

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Monday, July 09, 2007

Live Earth thoughts

Against our better judgment, Red and I watched some of that Live Earth concert over the weekend. There were next to no bands playing that we were that interested in. Indeed, probably the only band that we actually wanted to watch was Fall Out Boy, so we were keeping a close eye on the "more music" interactive red-button screens on Sky.

But while looking out for the Falling Out Lads, we stumbled upon a couple of other acts that we have a passing interest in: Taking Back Sunday, and AFI (pictured above).

Music goes in waves, and years can go by when one nation seems to be putting out better music than another. The same with films and most everything else, I suppose. Right now, no one is making music as great as the young Americans. Call them emo if you wish, but to do so is reductive. These are youngish mostly males getting back to basics with a couple of guitars, a bass, a drumkit, and a voice. That's all you need. You can take your keyboards and violins and saxophones and, in the words of The Streets, "introduce [them] up your jacksie".

Taking Back Sunday unfortunately suffered from a bad stage mix, so half the time you could hardly hear the singer, but AFI rocked it, and the camp vocalist was also very articulate on the subject of climate change and vegetarianism (in stark contrast to the TBS frontman, who urged attendees to go away with "some litterch--, some litt--, some littature", sounding, as Kerrang! magazine recently put it, like Foghorn Leghorn), as well as doing a pretty good version of "Ziggy Stardust", which I felt owed more to Bauhaus than to Bowie's original version.

Other acts we caught, though, included Foo Fighters and Madonna. I don't really care for Foo Fighters, but they did put on a good show. Now if only their records weren't so damn boring.

And what of London's headline act Madonna? It should come as no surprise that I don't like Madonna. And I really hate artists who try to dupe their fans by making out like they are real musicians and can play an instrument. Madge's weapon of choice was the guitar, and she proceeded to play a staggering two chords for the duration of "Ray of Light", looking like a complete plum while doing it. I have it on good authority that her outfit was nice, but I spent much of the time with my head in my hands. There was a moment, though, when I had to ask myself out loud whether she was a twat or a genius. Yes, it's come to this. Her reimagining of "La Isla Bonita" as a Romany song rather than Spanish-themed, accompanied by two members of the barking-mad band Gogol Bordello, was as inspired as it was ridiculous. Kudos to her, I think. But I'm not sure that she or her audience saw the full irony of her urging them to sing the words "time goes by so slowly" over and over during the song "Hung Up".

But it wasn't all about the music, was it? It was about the message. I'm just not sure that the world at large is ready to listen. I try to do my bit. With all the recycling we do at home these days, last week we produced just one black bin bag of rubbish for the dustbin men (trash collectors). The rest was all recycled: paper, cardboard, glass. It makes me feel a bit better for having to keep computers running all day (but not all night, I'll have you know).

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Post # 666 667

"Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast:
for it is the number of a man;
and his number is Six hundred threescore and six."
The Bible (King James Version), Revelation 13:18

(This was intended as post #666 -- one of those rare occasions when I actually plan a post in advance. But Alan Johnston went and got released, and I couldn't let that momentous occasion go unmarked.)

I love tales of fire and brimstone. Films like The Exorcist and The Omen tap into something rooted deeply within our consciousness -- whether or not we are religious, whether or not we believe in God. Such stories, when well told, can raise questions within us. Even stories and films that are a bit average can get away with it because it's a fascinating subject: movies like The Ninth Gate, for example.

As a longtime non-believer, I like to be challenged in this regard, to be made to contemplate my belief system. It's just like when, as a kid who no longer believes in Santa Claus, on Christmas Eve you just want to keep your options open.

"I don't believe in God, but I do believe in the Devil." I've heard people say this, just as I've heard the opposite. Neither makes sense to me. I think if you buy into one, you've got to accept the other. They're a toofer, a BOGOF, the double act of their day. I opt of course not to believe in either and to believe instead in the good and evil of Man.

There's also the popular notion of rock music as the Devil's music. That theme, I'm sure, has run for as long as music has been made, with each adult generation seemingly more convinced that what their kids are listening to is bad for them, whether ethically, morally, or spiritually. I love especially the way bands that appear "anti-Christian" can upset some people so much. Look at the stir Marilyn Manson causes in the minds of Wal-Mart type consumers in the United States. How I laugh when I hear the lyrics of some of these acts. Sometimes because they are so lame; and sometimes because they are so funny. Either way, I find it interesting that somebody somewhere is getting upset by them.

I think, though, that some people confuse atheism with Satanism. That somehow, by being an atheist, I must be some sort of Devil-worshipper. That amuses me; but it also scares me. Because the sort of people who would be likely to think such things are probably not the sort of people you would not want to find yourself alone with. Their God-fearing ways might get the better of them, y'see. I suppose a parallel could be drawn with radical Islamists wanting to wipe out the infidels.

But some Satanists do seem to have a sense of humour. My favourite fun-loving Satanists right now (not that I know very many) are rock band Alkaline Trio. Their music sounds so benign. Indeed, it's quite poppy and singalongy. And while their lyrics are not overtly satanic, they are dark and make for quite a stark juxtaposition with the musical accompaniment. Here's a bit from the sweetly titled "This Could Be Love":

Step one: slit my throat;
Step two: play in my blood;
Step three: cover me in dirty sheets and run laughing out of the house;
Step four: stop off at Edgebrook Creek and rinse those crimson hands.
You took me hostage and made your demands.
I couldn't meet them so you cut off my fingers, one by one.

I love the graphic imagery in this chorus, like an extreme S&M relationship gone bad. And so jauntily catchy. Before you know it you're hooked, reaching for the phone, and calling Satan-Busters on 555-666-SATAN.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Free at last

Going straight from 114 days in captivity to two hours of press interviews, BBC reporter Alan Johnston nonetheless looked good for the experience and sounded pretty damn chipper.

All in a day's work? Probably not. But you could be forgiven for thinking so. He described his abduction and four-month captivity as the worst time of his life. A colleague at the BBC said Johnston is a "superman".

Perhaps it's fitting that he gain his freedom on Independence Day. Happy 4th of July to one and all.


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Pssst... BST. PDS*

BST. As you no doubt know, that's British Summer Time. It's when the clocks go forward. Daylight Savings, if you will.

It's muggy here today, and I keep hearing rolls of thunder. And rain keeps starting and stopping.

Gotta say, it doesn't feel much like summer. I don't mind, really, though. In our little office it gets so damn hot that we prefer it when it's not baking hot.

Still, a little sunshine is nice. Makes you feel alive. Less cranky.

We like talking about the weather here in the UK. Apparently. It's such a cliché, but it's true. But I also think we are not alone in that.

* Pretty damn shitty


Monday, July 02, 2007

Thought for food

Regulars here know that I like to turn my hand to movie reviews once in a while, so much so that I have made my own movie-review blog: Such As They Are. The latest film over there is Jean de Florette, which I added this morning.

But films are just one topic on which I feel qualified to give an opinion. And why not? If we partake, we are therefore at liberty to form an opinion. Another area for me is food.

The wife and I don't really have that many vices, to be honest. We work hard and earn quite good money, but we often find ourselves with very little time to ourselves, working as many as 80 hours each some weeks. Where we do tend to spend most of our consumerist pound is at eateries. Once every couple of months we will spend what could frankly be considered a stupid amount of money on a meal out together: a recent special-occasion dinner for two cost us a pretty penny, for example, but we enjoyed it very much, so where's the harm?

The harm comes when you are recommended a restaurant by what should be a fairly reliable source -- in this case, the BBC Good Food Magazine said good things about a place called The Barn in Rainham, Kent.

At a loss for Sunday lunch, and in the mood to eat something nice, we booked a table and arrived. It was a little posher inside than I'd expected, to be fair, though I don't really let these things bother me. On the odd occasion that I do, it's because I feel the poshness is a pretence -- when something is working a bit too hard with those aspirations, y'know?

We were seated and ordered our starters and mains: figs stuffed with mozzarella and dressed with pancetta, followed by the roast chicken for Red; and chicken-and-crayfish sausages on sweet-potato mash, followed by the roast beef for me. Jusqu'ici tout va bien, right?

The starters arrived and were pretty quickly devoured. So quickly, in fact, that we forgot to take pictures! They were both really delicious. Things are looking good.

The problems began with the main courses. Forgiving the fact that initially they brought Red the wrong meal, it all looked like good, wholesome Sunday-lunch fare. But I was soon unhappy. Beneath my beef (see pic at top) was a tiny amount of sweet-potato mash. Now, I tell you this, I like sweet potato. I don't even mind sweet-potato mash -- in the right places. For me (and this is just my opinion), it just doesn't work with a roast dinner. There were roast (normal) potatoes already on the plate, as well as broccoli, Yorkshire pudding, fennel, carrots, and cabbage, so I could have done without the sweetness of the sweet potato.

But the more I ate, the more I realized that the sweetness was everywhere. It was all pervading. It was in the meat, the Yorkshire pudding. It was as though there was some sort of caramelization vibe going on. I don't mind caramelization in small doses, but I wonder if maybe it's the vogue all of a sudden to throw some sugar into your veggies (like RefPo adds it to her baked beans!), but for me it just ain't right.

Red experienced the exact same sensation with her chicken dish (above). She didn't mention it until I did, and then she responded with a kind of "Yes! That's exactly what it is!" I left more on my plate than I would normally do, because I was feeling, frankly, a bit gagged out by now, though I am a sucker for cheesecake and there was one on the menu.

I ordered; Red, as usual, refrained. But it was off to a bad start. Even the way it looked. I'm an old-fashioned boy and I like my cheesecake to be a slice. But I'll overlook that if all the other elements are right. For instance, the ratio of cheese mix to biscuit must be right. And if fruits are to be included, they have to be good; ditto any fruity sauce. The ratio here was most definitely wrong, as you can see from the picture. (And check out the gang signs I'm throwin', cos there's nothin' more gangsta than a posh cheesecake.) This is a shame, because the cheese mix and the biscuit base were absolutely delicious. I don't know about the raspberries cos I didn't eat the motherfuckers. But the sauce was grim and wholly unnecessary, as was the stupid sprig of mint stuck in the top. (I really hate garnish!)

It's odd, isn't it, when you leave a restaurant thinking that they ought to serve LESS food for the price? It's not something I think often, but it becomes particularly apparent when the food is flawed in a handful of ways. So, that was The Barn restaurant. (Lovely building, by the way.) I won't be going back again.

Marks out of 25
Service: 18
Food: 11
Ambience: 14
Value for money: 8
Total: 51%

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Sunday, July 01, 2007

In my own peculiar way I feel mercurial

Today's the first of July. It's been a funny old week... We in the UK have got a new prime minister in the guise of Gordon Brown, and what a wet old fart he is going to be. First order of business seems to have been to get a new hairstyle -- one that makes him look about ten years older already.

Also, finally we have a smoking ban in public places. Finally. It's been a long time coming, and I, for one, embrace it. As a man who does a little bit of travelling, I've seen how clean the air in restaurants and bars is on some foreign soils, and I like it. When some of our Italian friends visited late last summer, they were open-mouthed at the fact people were smoking in eateries. And they come from Italy, a country where smoking has long been normal among da kidz. But they embraced the ban over there with more relish than I might have imagined.

It's been a funny old week, yes. We've also had three supposed attempted car bombings in Britain: two in London; one in Glasgow. I wonder, though, if car bombings are going to be a tool in the terrorists' arsenal over here whether they might need to import willing perpetrators from the Middle East. We in the UK, I think, love being alive a bit too much. We have good lives in the West, you see. Even the Muslim extremists among us must wonder, What point is there in killing myself? I can do so much more damage by staying alive, by living to fight another day, as they say.

I had an exhausting, physically tiring, emotionally draining weekend with my family last weekend, and on my return there was stuff that needed doing. I spent a total of eight or nine hours, over the course of Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, removing horrible old plasticky tiling from our kitchen floor prior to our new floor covering being fitted. Those hours were physically demanding. Most of the time I was stood up and bent right over, using a mini-sledgehammer and chisel to remove the tiles. The hammer was heavy; the tiles, stuck fast. I was removing around five or six per hour. My thighs still ache to bend over or sit on the loo or climb the stairs.

Funny old week? Yes. On Friday night, Red and I were awoken by our neighbours' alarm clock at about 4 in the morning. It kept on going: beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep. Ten minutes. Fifteen minutes. Twenty minutes. Clearly no one was going to turn it off. At 4:30am, I decided I had no choice but to knock on their door. The husband answered, apologized, and switched it off. Later in the day, the wife caught us and also apologized profusely before mentioning that they would be having a party tonight, so sorry in advance for the noise.

As it happens, the noise wasn't too bad. Most of it was in the backyard, drunken 30- and 40-somethings karaoke'ing to their hearts' content. But at about 2:45am we were awoken again -- this time to the sound of the neighbours moving their bedroom furniture around. Voices started to get raised, and then the wife shouted something about "don't just dump my clothes in the corner" and stormed out. Finally, we could get our heads down. For about ten minutes, until the alarm went off again, at about 3am. Fuck's sake! It rang for about four minutes, I guess, before someone ran back up from downstairs to turn it off. I feel sleep-deprived today. I feel a little "wrong".

Funny old week? Yeah, and it turns out that -- ALERT: DOCTOR WHO SPOILER -- Captain Jack is the Face of Boe (above). Fucking hell, who saw that coming?! Fantastic! Captain Jack is kind of immortal, y'see. "Will I never die?" he asked the Doctor (I'm paraphrasing). "If not, what will I look like when I get to a million years old?" Then the reveal, and we already know what he will look like at five billion years old. We've seen him die in the future, y'see. And the Doctor was there with him.

Yeah, it's been a funny old week here in the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Ha! "United". Ha! "Great". I'm hoping I can at least book a table for Sunday lunch and experience a smoke-free dining experience on Day One of the ban.

And -- unusualness of all unusualnesses -- our pet cat Cat has finally done a new post: you can read his "five things" tag over here. He promises to write more often, too, but I'll believe it when I see it.

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