Thursday, August 31, 2006

Voodoo CSS (Slight Redesign)

I've prodded the CSS template on the blog this afternoon as I've waited for some protracted renders to complete. I'll furtle it further later, but if it looks worse than it did before in anyone's browser drop me a comment to say how and I'll endeavour to fix it.

Many thankings.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Me with Soul Food

Andrew with Soul Food, originally uploaded by Beverly Sutphin.

Tinseltroos took this picture of me with catfish in my mouth.

"Look, Ma, no hands".

Best. Holiday. Ever.

I've just got back from Tinseltroos' and my long weekend away in Brighton. We've eaten, drunk, explored and shopped pretty damn well over the last 3 days and I feel utterly relaxed and incredibly happy.

We booked ourselves into one of the growing number of boutique hotels in Brighton and upon arrival on Friday night we saw that we'd made the right choice. The room was small, but fabulously stylish and a perfect base of operations for a weekend's fun and merriment.

Hotel Road I

My photo doesn't really do it justice but the clear plastic chairs and lampstand added to the slightly kitsch, retro styling of the room which was echoed throughout the whole hotel. White leather and brushed metal were very prevalent. On Saturday we shopped, ate fajitas, had an afternoon nap and then went for a walk along the Palace Pier (or Brighton Pier as the local council now wants us to call it). As the late afternoon gave way to dusk the sky became utterly beautiful with an array of colours and shapes.

Turbo Rollercoaster

After our promenade, we went on to "Valentino's", a cocktail bar recommended to me by my friend Flip, who is a Brighton resident. Not only did they serve me an excellent proper martini (gin, not vodka thankyou) and 'troos a top notch White Russian they then further endeared themselves to us by turning away a hen-party with the phrase "We don't admit hen-parties, never have. We don't like the screechy ones". Brilliant. After our pre-prandial drinks it was time to head up to the Hotel du Vin for an excellent dinner and delicious bottle of Roger Perrin Chateauneuf du Pape. And so to bed.


Sunday morning we went to the "Brighton Sea-life Centre" which was stunning. I've always found fish amazing and fascinating creatures so Sunday morning was one of wonderment for me.

Soul Food

After walking around open-mouthed in wonderment we decamped to "Mamma Cherri's Soul Food Shack" which has become something of a Brighton icon since being featured on a Gordon Ramsay TV show. The food was divine, and very very filling. This necessitated another afternoon nap back at the hotel.

The Hand in Hand

After getting up (again) and heading out we decamped to the "Hand in Hand", a tiny pub with it's own micro-brewery in Kemptown. They have two beers, "Dragon's Blood", a not too sweet cherry beer, and "The Olde Trout" a more standard bitter. Both were excellent. After beer we headed back into Brighton centre to "Terre a Terre" one of the top rated vegetarian restaurants in the UK. Their style is deliberately over-the-top flamboyance with every dish a visual as well as gastronomic treat. Another cocktail at "Valentino's" finished off the evening.

Shop Window

Café Society

This morning we went for another wander up The North Laine where there are many independent shops filled to bursting with wares and having had our fill of that we stopped off at a café for a stawberry milkshake. We collected our bags from the hotel and went up the hill to Tinseltroos parents' house for a lovely lunch.

Happy Tired, We Head Home

And here's us, tired but very happy and relaxed on our way home. Although I've only been away for a weekend I feel more chilled than I'd normally do after a week's regular holiday. I've had such a lovely time, just fun activities, plenty of rest, and my beautiful girlfriend and me.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Brighton Here We Come

Brighton Beach, originally uploaded by Mr Atrocity.

Tonight, Tinseltroos and I are off to Brighton for the August Bank Holiday Weekend. It's been a long week at work and I'm knackered. I don't think I've quite recovered from last weekend either to be honest, my back's still giving me hell and the thought of three days rest and relaxation in a lovely boutique hotel with my belle is as lovely a thought as I can conceive of at the moment. One more day of HPatOotP trailer madness and then we may flee to the seaside.

Bring it on.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

We've Come On Holiday By Mistake (Part The Third)

The View from the Inside of My Tent

There are two things that my first experience of camping in about a decade have taught me and they are :

1) The bath is the second most wonderful invention in human history.

2) The bed is the first.

I had always had a suspicion that camping wasn't for me. I may have grown up in the country but I've always been a city dweller at heart. My mum tells me that even as a small child I was noticeably more excitable whenever we were in cities on holiday than I was in the countryside and whilst I love the country I would not want to live there now. London is my home and I don't see anything changing that. Camping certainly hasn't.

To give it its due, the conditions were not perfect for the camping experience given that it rained for about 50% of the time. Ironically, I don't think that's what put me off, I don't mind the rain, there are times when I quite welcome it and it certainly doesn't dissuade me from going out and about. The sleeping arrangements were what bothered me. Granted I had bought cheaply but the roll-mat I got seemed to merely spread the areas of lumpy discomfort on the ground out and into my back. I picked my piece of ground on which to pitch as carefully as I could and yet once I was horizontal a whole host of previously unnoticed lumps, rocks and divots presented themselves and wriggle as I might I couldn't get comfortable.

My second bone of contention with the whole experience was the sleeping bag. Here I bought slightly better as I felt that even were I never to camp again I still stay over at friend's houses from time to time and a sleeping bag on a sofa is better than no sleeping bag on a sofa. The trouble with them, in fact the very reason they work at all, is that they encase the occupant as if they were a cross between a swaddled toddler and a resident of the angry wing of an asylum. Which is probably a fair description of many of the serious camping types I know come to think of it. I like to roam free in bed. I cannot abide tucked in sheets or small single beds. Me and my duvet require freedom to roam the plains of B'd L'nen the fantasy land of sleepy make-believe and we will not be shackled. That don't work in a tent though; the limited space and the insulated condom into which you've inserted yourself rather preclude it and here was the nub of the problem. If I can't move about I can't get comfortable. If I can't get comfortable I can't get to sleep. True, I improved my chances of Morpheus' sweet magic falling upon me by drinking fairly heavily for three days straight but even with this artificial assistance I had three of the worst night's sleep I can remember. And I got a nasty back ache out of it too.

Upon my return home I had a long bath, mostly to cleanse my body after the trip, I did not enjoy going feral much, and secondly to get some heat into my back to help sort it out. This I thought was the height of comparative luxury until at about 9.30 when I could keep my eyes open no longer I clambered into bed. I've slept in that bed for nigh on 7 years and I swear it had never been that comfortable before. It was the most civilised, exquisite experience that is imaginable for the lone bed occupant. I wallowed in my comfort. I wrapped my duvet around myself and stretched out (I'd had to sleep with my feet in the porch of my tent because I was too tall to fit all of me in the main bit). I buried my face deep into the pillows which gently cradled my head and thought beautiful thoughts. Sitting in a tent with the rain hammering on the canvas I had mostly been thinking murderous or during the darker moments suicidal thoughts. There was a plastic ring that hung down from the cross-bracing in the centre of the tent's ceiling which, in hindsight, I assume was for a mosquito net but at about 5 a.m. with the cold and the rain all around I wondered whether it was there for putting a noose through as some sort of camping final get-out clause if it did, finally, all become too much.

But we made it through, and as my mother would point out, it was probably "character building". Well that it may have been, but it sure as hell was a whole bunch of no fun and in order to prevent a recurrence I gave my tent to the Fake Frenchman on Tuesday morning. Gratis, free and for nowt. It is his albatross to wear around his neck now, and yet he seemed quite excited by it all. The poor fool, little does he realise.

This weekend I'm going to Brighton, where we shall be staying in an hotel. It has a bar, en suite bathroom and an enormous bed. Ahhh, now that's what I'm talking about...

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Best of The Green Man

OK, I've already mentioned them in the previous posts, but here's a wee list of the bands and artists from The Green Man Festival who you owe it to your ears to check out. In no particular order :


A Hawk And A Hacksaw

Bat For Lashes

John Renbourn

Simple Kid

Bert Jansch

Juana Molina

I think your ears would think you were a good and kind person if you were to introduce them to any of the above. Well my ears approved anyhow.

We've Come On Holiday By Mistake (Part The Second)


Impromptu Cricket I

Sunday started lateish with everyone slowly negotiating with their hangovers for the right to use their limbs and regain some sort of motor-function. Once we were all mobile we all gently trundled back to the area of the main stage and set up camp on the hill. Sunday was the first that didn't begin with rain and then continue with rain so we felt safer in laying out our picnic blankets.

Some kind souls had brought a cricket set with them and an impromptu game was taking place just to the left of the stage. I naturally felt compelled to join in. I took a couple of wickets whilst bowling, including a caught and bowled, took two further catches off other people's bowling and scored a paltry 8 runs, which given my complete ineptitude with the bat seems about par. After a while a few kids joined the fun including a couple of little terrors who bowled ferociously quickly and scared the crap out of the adults.

Following the junior sporting onslaught the afternoon sets began and so we retreated from the arena back to the blankets and a couple of refreshing beers. I also had a delicious veggie curry for my lunch and spent the afternoon watching some OK music with the odd gem every now and again. Special mentions would go to Juana Molina who was wonderful and very charming and later on the ever fantastic Bert Jansch.

Bert Jansch

Once Bert's set had finished I went for a wander around the site where I caught the lantern parade by the kids who'd spent the day making the paper lanterns and were now proudly showing them off in a long line of bobbing lights stretching away into the distance.


The festival ended for me watching another aging folk legend, Wizz Jones, perform an incredibly entertaining set with accompaniment from a guy introduced only as "Simian" who played flute, harmonica and tenor sax to Wizz's flying fingers on the acoustic. After that we had one last beer ten headed for our tents. Everyone was shattered by this point and crawling into our respective tents seemed the best policy.


I awoke fairly early on Monday as the sun finally came out properly in the morning. Bloody typical since the show was now over. I went and grabbed a roll and a cup of tea for breakfast and took a final wander around the site to survey the aftermath.

The Morning After II

With everyone in our party up and about it was time to pack our bags, dismantle the tents, load the car and begin the long journey back to London.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Me After The Night Before

snoozy roo, originally uploaded by jaypod.

Had I been drinking and then sleeping in a field?

Yes I had.

Oh deary deary me.

But What Will I do With It?

I got back into work today to find that my computer had been upgraded. I knew they were going to make the switch and as the company's new naming scheme for workstations is European towns and cities, and everyone else had been clamouring for famous and beautiful cities such as Milan, Paris or Rome I decided to ask for the least glamourous place possible. My new machine is called Bognor. I'm so happy.

It also has 4 processors, 16Gb of RAM and nearly half a terabyte of hard-disk space. How am I going to fill all that? There's a limit to how much Minesweeper I can play in working day you know.

Well holidays are over and I have a trailer to get finished, so let's have at it eh?

Monday, August 21, 2006

We've Come On Holiday By Mistake (Part The First)

I'm back. It's been an interesting and educative few days where I've learned some things about myself, found some new music to brighten my journey and found new types of back-pain that I'd previously never experienced. So how was The Green Man Festival and how was Mr Atrocity's first camping trip? Well, to begin at the beginning... We arrived on site on Friday at about 4 p.m. following a 4 and half hour drive from London. There were four of us plus all our camping equipment crammed into the youngest Doddling's hatchback. I was deputed to map read which was pretty straight-forward and we got to Glanursk Park without any major setback. The main irritant on the journey was the rain, which in hindsight should have given us some insight into how much of the weekend was going to turn out but in our youthful naivete we brushed it off as a transient shower. Once I'd assembled my tent, something for which I required technical assistance (they have two skins these days apparently, no-one told me) I set about arranging my pitiful belongings into the hovel. I have never been keen on camping; actually that's a bit of an understatement. I was pretty sure I'd hate camping, but so as not to dismiss the concept out of hand with having at least given it a go I put on my cheap fleece and unrolled my cheap sleeping bag inside my cheap tent. Hell, if I was only going to do this once I didn't want to waste a whole heap of money on kit I'd never use again. The photo here is the hovel, lovingly snapped as it sat there, with the rest of us getting rained on. In a rare fit of intelligence I did remember to pack my waterproof poncho which was purchased as US Army surplus many years ago. If you can fit a US Marine under it, I figured myself, my bag of things-that-I-must-not-allow-to-get-stolen (camera, wallet, house keys etc.) would fit a treat. And so we did, and I scoffed at those novices who had turned up with only a small waterproof jacket as I strode about in my own portable mini-tent looking very stylish. Once base camp was established we all pottered off to investigate the site and form our plan of who we would want to see and how the logistics of this might work.

Friday Night

The highlight for me on the main stage was Circulus, a prog-rock/medieval revivalist who seem to me like Gong in the Court of King Arthur. Lots of people say they're trite, silly and hackneyed. I say they're a really tight, great band, and where else am I going to see Moog synths mixed with a shawm? They played tracks from both their albums with the leadman Michael Tyack enjoining the enthusiastic crowd too "Move it out, villagers!" as the kicked into one of their uptempo numbers. I loved it and firmly believe that any band that believes in faeries and pixies has the divine right to do pretty much whatever the hell it chooses. Following Circulus I went for a wander and a bite to eat and eventually found myself in the Fokey Dokey Tent where Simple Kid was playing a blinding set with just a PowerBook for accompaniment. He used the technology well not only to add backing tracks for his own pieces but by linking the computer up to a projector was able to project karaoke lyrics for the audience to join in and perform a duet with Kermit the Frog on, "Its Hard to be Green." Following this I stopped by at the tiniest stage where A Hawk and A Hacksaw were performing. Main man Jeremy Barnes was playing the accordion whilst wearing a hat with bells and a drum stick. By shaking his head he could rattle the bells and then with a spasmodic jerk he could use the drum stick to hit a cymbal strategically placed to his right. Although the band are from New Mexico they have an almost East European sound to my ears and having bought the CD and listened to it this evening I still think that.


Saturday had something old and something new for me. The "something new" came in the form of "Bat for Lashes" an amazing band about whom I'd heard nothing prior to the festival. All the band's members are multi-instrumentalists and effortlessly shifted from piano to guitar to percussion whilst lead singer Natasha Khan had stolen the hearts of most of the youthful and callow male members of the audience within seconds. A very magical act and they have a debut album coming out in a couple of weeks. I'd advise joining this bandwagon now. You can get their current single "The Wizard" (natch) on iTunes or from here. It's also on 7" single for the technologically suspicious.

John Renbourn

In the "something old" category the main reason for my wanting to be at the festival was to see John Renbourn, who've I've written about before. He put on a superb show, one of the best I've seen him do and the whole tent was absolutely buzzing as he tore through music from the 40 or so years of his career. Such was his energy he managed to break a guitar string on the final number, "Kokomo Blues" and yet due to his incredible skill was able to finish the song seemingly unimpeded. What a hero.

I'll write up the rest of the weekend's mayhem tomorrow plus my conclusions on the whole camping experience but for now I just have to go to bed...

For those who can't wait there's a flickr set of the whole enchilada...

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Rain, Rain, Go Away...

I'm supposed to be going to the Green Man Festival this weekend, mostly because it will probably be my last chance to see John Renbourn play live before he retires. Unfortunately, the weather is not looking promising, so I think I shall be going to buy a waterproof poncho this lunchtime.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

If It's Not Real Is It Still Illegal?

A man in the UK has pleaded guilty to child pornography offences and been threatened with jail for manipulating images of adult pornography actors to make the participants look more child-like. According to Ray Savage, Cleveland Police's forensic computer analyst this is, "just as serious as downloading child porn, and probably more worrying in terms of the time taken and work involved to produce such images. In general terms, these images can be as crude as someone having pasted a cut-out of a child's head on to an adult's photo. At the other end of the scale, someone will use sophisticated computer image manipulation equipment to alter the size of the breasts and genitalia to make a very realistic image."

So if find a pornographic image of consenting adults on the internet and write "This girl is six years old" underneath with an arrow pointing to one of the performers have I committed the same offence? The performer is manifestly not a child but similarly in the photo described by Mr Savage, neither is a doctored image of what is patently an adult's body with a child's head and that according to the police expert would be illegal.

I suppose one could argue that one of the reasons for this legislation is that any image of a "child" in a sexual situation whether real or faked could act as fodder for a paedophile but the notion that any image that places the notion of childhood and sex in the same frame is a child abuse offence does not seem to make much sense to me. What about a regular photograph of a child placed next to a pornographic image of adults? Does this make enough of a connection between the two ideas to be illegal? I do not see that much difference between this and the crudely pasted "cut-out of a child's head on to an adult's photo" example.

From the Times' article :

The court was told that under the Protection of Children Act 1978, as amended by the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, a pseudophotograph of a child is defined as an image, whether made by computer graphics or otherwise, which appears to be that of a child.

I read this as meaning that it is the realism of the image that defines its illegality therefore my annotated text example and the "crude cut-out" of Savage's could not be considered illegal - they are manifestly not showing a child. To extrapolate further; a stick-figure drawing of a child performing a sex act would not be considered a crime under this law. The difficulty arises in where the law kicks in, or to put it another way, how "real" does the image have to be before it is an offence? From the examples provided by the police it would appear that some sort of photographic quality must be present, even if it is two elements badly composited together. Is that more illegal than a painting by a hyper-realist artist since it contains "real" people, even if manipulated? I cannot see how this type of law can be applied with any degree of consistency. I can look at almost any photo and tell you whether it has been digitally doctored or not because it's my job to know how that works. A general member of the public would be more easily duped. Whose level of credularity should we use as a bench-mark for this "realism" test? It is impossible.

Savage's comment that making one of these images is "just as serious as downloading child porn" also seems questionable to me. If we assume that by "child porn" he means an image of actual child being abused then I must disagree with him. If the serious penalties that this law provides for exist as a deterrent to those who would be tempted otherwise to go out and actually abuse children and film them I have no difficulty with its tough sentences. The law is "The Protection of Children Act" after all. If someone paints an utterly convincing picture of a child involved in a sex act then undoubtedly they have questionable taste, and possibly ought to consult a psychologist, but they are not complicit in child abuse, unlike someone who downloads child porn manifestly is.

This application of the law is very troubling to me. When no child has been abused how can you invoke a law whose purpose is to punish precisely that? It does demonstrate the power of the image but mostly it shows a worrying pandering to the screaming headline writers of the tabloids whose ill-advised campaigns are far more concerned with newspaper sales than with any notion of child protection. We have to ask ourselves what is next if creating an image of something is treated in the same way as actually having done it.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

World Trade Center

Tinseltroos has just phoned to tell me that she's just got home from a press screening of the film. "WTC" is not released in the UK for another 6 weeks so she's amongst the first to see it and she was concerned about the project she'd devoted 9 months of her life to as she had real issues with "United 93" when she saw that. She was happy to report that the film was much better than she'd expected and not as political as she'd feared. But she was most excited to report that she got credited as a Lead Digital Artist which is totally deserved since she did much of the most complicated work on the project. I'm incredibly proud of her and she deserves the plaudits that this credit represents. She is also in the film, albeit as a face on a poster, but she's very visible and Maggie Gyllenhaal points to her at one point. Apparently I got a credit too, which I am a little puzzled at since I was only on the film for about 2 months, but I'm grateful that my small contribution on this project was acknowledged as I really wasn't expecting it.

From what she's said about the film I think I may go to see it after all, although it will not make for comfortable viewing and I'm still unsure of whether I feel it was right to make these films at this time. That said, I fear the idea that someone could be pressured to not make the film more though; freedom of speech is paramount and I should really defend it on that level if no other, and it seems less prone to the unfounded smearing of real people's characters than "United 93".

Monday, August 14, 2006

Christmas Comes Early

Every year the computer graphics community's annual jamboree, SIGGRAPH, takes place in a major city in the US. And every year I don't go. Every year Pixar (yes that Pixar) give out free wind-up teapots in different colours. Why do they do this? Well, the reason why Pixar dish out free merch is that they make a piece of software called Photo Realistic RenderMan which is used by the majority of VFX studios worldwide including the one I work at. Pixar started out as a software company and made short films to showcase their technology. Eventually Disney invested a heap of money to make a feature film, which was called "Toy Story" and you know the rest. But they still make the software, so they have merch for the punters.

Next obvious question: "Why a teapot?" Well the teapot is a very specific teapot, known as the Utah Teapot (because of where it was created) and it is an iconic piece of computer graphics history. It's also a very useful surface for a wide variety of CG experimentation because of fabulous topological wonderment that I won't bore you with here. Suffice to say, it's part of the heritage. And who wouldn't want a cute, wind-up teapot? Well I would, but since I'm never at SIGGRAPH I've never got one, I've had to watch enviously as the tops of my colleagues' monitors become filled with red, green, blue, mirrored, gold, glow-in-the-dark and transparent teapots whilst mine was bereft.

This year my luck changed. I was able to successfully bribe the Plane Queen (who was attending SIGGRAPH because she's a bigger nerd than me) to bring me one of this year's teapot back with promises of home-made cake. And when she arrived back in work today, having been driven crazy by the current airport mayhem she handed me a tin. And inside the tin was a black with flames patterned teapot. I'm the happiest little nerd in the class. I think I may call him Wally.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Just Got Back From Hawksmoor

This weekend I headed up North to visit my mum. As we often do we took the trip up into the North Staffordshire countryside to visit Hawksmoor. As I've mentioned before it is probably my favourite place on Earth and the place that always feels like a sanctuary to me. The wood is a fabulous mixture of old and sympathetically newly planted woodland and open glades. I've also tracked down and scanned a couple of old family photos so you can see what the house my gran grew up in looked like, then and now :

My Grandmother with Joey the Owl
My Grandmother and Joey the Owl.

My Great Grandfather and Fox
My Great Grandfather and his pet fox. He was responsible for looking after Hawksmoor.

The Charlesworth House
The house as it was intact

All that's left of the house now is the hearth and a few bits of masonry but it gives me tremendous comfort and a sense of belonging somewhere to see even those fragments :

The Charlesworth Hearth


There's much wild fruit, especially bilberry bushes and damson trees in Hawksmoor and my mum and I did as my gran used to and picked enough bilberries to make a pie. It's another family tradition that ties me into my past and helps me to belong to something strong and permanent. Sadly the damsons were not yet ripe as you can make fantastic chutney with them.


Unripe Damsons

Silver Birch


Wooded Path

Whilst the house is gone and my family has no direct connection with the wood anymore it still resonates with me and every time I visit. When there's new growth on the trees and a new season of fruit I cannot help but smile. It comforts me deeply to know that this special place persists, that its magic is undimmed and that the goblins and beasties I imagined living there as child still dwell in my mind when I walk there now. Much has changed and yet so much more remains the same.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Show and Tell (Followup)

Tinseltroos loved her necklace.

I am so pleased, happy, and to be honest, relieved. It was a nervous moment for me when she opened the wrapping paper but all was well in the end.

'troos and Necklace


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Show and Tell

In a few posts over the last couple of months or so I've been alluding to a pet project that I was working on at home. Well the reason for the secrecy was that it was a birthday present for Tinseltroos and the thing wot I done is make her a necklace.

I knew from conversations we'd had, and museums that we'd visited together, that she liked Ancient Egyptian collar necklaces and this one in particular was a favourite. So I thought I'd try and learn how to make one. The first step was to take a jaunt to The British Museum in my lunch break (living in a metropolitan area can be very useful) and took several high-res photos of the necklace which I stitched together in Photoshop to see what I was up against. I pretty quickly decided that I didn't really want to slavishly copy it as it was huge and I thought I'd like to do a little design work myself.

Having never made a necklace before I decided the next step was to go to the wonderful Bead Shop in Covent Garden, get some bits and pieces and just see what I could do. The net result of a lot of meddling, tinkering and getting things wrong was a better idea of my design and a small pile of horrible looking messes that weren't very necklace-like at all.

I'd decided that I thought warmer colours and glass beads were the way forward and managed to find some that seemed to fit the bill quite nicely. I liked that they almost looked like sweets and had a slightly 1930s feel I thought. That inspired the loop design around the edge, which was also done because even though this design is a lot smaller than the actual Egyptian ones it's still pretty big (and Tinseltroos is quite small) so I didn't want to swamp her and the edges wrap around far enough that they could snag on clothing if they were any fancier. Also since I'd made the decision to use wire rather than thread to string it all together the basic shape of the necklace was quite robust. I was afraid if I'd done as in the Egyptian design and had all three rows of beads connect to the clasp that it would be too structural and not sit right on her. To be honest all of this is hypothetical as she hasn't seen it yet so I don't know if it's the right size yet. If it isn't I think it'll be easier to make another than try to rebuild this one!

It's amazing, you never fully appreciate someone else's craft until you try it yourself. I have so much more respect for these ancient jewellers now than I ever did before, and perhaps if I try to make more necklaces, which I think I will, I suspect that this appreciation will deepen. Beware all my female friends, you're quite likely to be getting necklaces from hereon in.

I really hope she likes it...


Hawksmoor, originally uploaded by Mr Atrocity.

I've been rummaging through a load of my old photos and uploading them to the internets.

This is a picture of Hawksmoor, a wood in North Staffordshire that's now owned by the National Trust. Hawksmoor is the area on the left.

My whole family is from North Staffordshire; indeed my surname derives from a tiny hamlet near Oakamoor so my roots here go back a long way. Since I've moved around a fair bit during my life, and since neither of my parents live in a house that I spent any time growing up in I feel that the roots I do have are extra important to me. Whilst London is now home and I can't really imagine living anywhere else, Hawksmoor has always been my spiritual home.

My grandmother was born in the one house that used to be situated in the middle of the wood and she lived there till she married my grandfather. The house is now a ruin but you can still see the foundations, the front doorstep and the hearth. Both my grandparents' ashes are scattered there too. For me, it's the most magical place in the world, full of memories of picnics when my grandparents would take my sister and me for day trips and it's still full of the magic that I conjured up in my childhood imagination because it really has hardly changed since I first went there.

It is truly a place out of time.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Follow Up

This would pretty much sum up me today...

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Guns Don't Kill People, Rappers Do

Right now I hurt. This is entirely a result of my own (mis)behaviour over the weekend so no sympathy is necessary.

It all started out quietly enough with the first decent lie-in I've had in ages on the Saturday morning. Having rolled out of bed and cleansed myself I set about making another quiche ready for the afternoon where Tinseltroos had called her chums together to help her celebrate her birthday. I wandered into town and got to Lincoln's Inn Fields at about 5 o'clock. Much wine and food was consumed and a quantity of Frisbee played. As the clock headed for 8 o'clock we packed out belongings, did our recycling and headed into the West End for an evening's karaoke.

I've never done karaoke before but I was canny enough to know that my limited range baritone voice was not going to be suitable for most of the tunes and ahead of time I thought that Johnny Cash and Ian Dury were the best bets to fit in my vocal spectrum. In the end I did passable (I think) versions of "Ring of Fire" and "Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll" and very non-passable versions of "Money For Nothing", "Jump" and a few other tunes that frankly I ought to have known better than to attempt. It didn't help having three members of the party who are highly trained singers but we hopeless amateurs must busk it as well as we can. Mawbius and I did a beautiful duet on Goldie Lookin' Chain's "Guns Don't Kill People Rappers Do" complete with authentic accents and terminology (hem hem). Sisoftroos did stellar versions of "D.I.V.O.R.C.E." and "Jolene" with a frighteningly convincing accent whilst Tinseltroos lit up the karaoke booth with electric renditions of "It's Raining Men", "I Dreamed A Dream" and "The Immigrant Song". According to authenticated third party witness reports we were the loudest room in the karaoke bar. Go us.

Today I have been nursing a very hung over Tinseltroos and then headed east across London to Rotherhithe where I met Tommy Dog, Miss Weeza and Joopie for a few beers and a Sunday roast. This cleared out the last cobwebs of my hangover and now I'm just a bit sleepy and my throat hurts and my legs ache and and and...

Too much fun for one weekend.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Kwichee Update

The quiche was good. I would add a bit of salt to the aubergine mixture and put a little more parmesan in with the egg and cream in future.

That is all.

I notice that this is my 100th blog post. Hmmm, a bit dull but too late to do anything about it now.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Busy Busy

aubergine quiche, originally uploaded by Mr Atrocity.

Tonight after a quick post-work beer with Tinseltroos I got the bus home as I had much to do. Luckily my friend Sissypops got on at Piccadilly so I had someone to talk to en route back to Atrocityville.

Upon arrival we went our seperate ways, hers to get Phad Thai and mine to briefly go home to check the levels of golden syrup and then off to the supermarket for some food shopping.

I got back to Atrocity Mansions at about 9 p.m. and set to work, first making a ginger cake to take into work tomorrow and then an aubergine quiche for dinner tomorrow night (well tonight actually, now I come to look at the time). I fried up some aubergine, finely chopped onion and mushrooms in olive oil with some chopped flat-leaf parsley and thyme and then put the mixture in a regular quiche. I was at least smart enough to remember to keep the oven on after the cake came out to put the pastry in once I'd made it. It looks promising but I'm keeping it intact for later, so tasting notes will have to wait.

Once the cooking was done I did a little work on one of my personal projects, of which more next week I think when I'll have something concrete to show for my efforts. And now I am knackered so I shall climb up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire, as my mum used to say when I was little.