Tuesday, January 30, 2007

My Eyes Have Exploded

Work is hell. I'm here pretty much day and night, but this video has helped. I think it might have shattered the Cute Event horizon™.

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

2 Differing Photographs

Chulita made a very kind comment about the photos I took of the snow. She said that my camera and I "work well together". I thought about that a lot, because I agreed with her, i.e. that the camera I have suits me and I wondered why this was and why certain types of people suit certain cameras. This led me to wonder if there are definitively different sorts of photograph and perhaps they are linked to the people who shoot them. After rolling this around in my head I have come to the conclusion that there are two types of photograph, those that infinitely dilate a moment and those that capture an instant as it was experienced. I'll try and explain what I mean with a couple of examples:

originally uploaded by John Brownlow.

This photograph is of the first type. It pauses time forever and allows the eye to explore this instant at its leisure. It contains more detail than we could ever take in at the moment it was taken. It would take several minutes to peruse it properly and even then there'd be things we would miss. This photograph stops time and allows us to examine the moment very objectively.

Millennium Bridge

This photograph is also a snapshot of a moment, but it is captured as it was experienced, that is the moment presented here contains the information present to the photographer at the moment it was taken. It is a record of the moment not so much the physical objects that make it up. The image hits us as a whole and we do not gain more from prolonged observation, it captures what an eye at that moment could.

In order to take photographs of the first type you would need a camera of very high quality, probably a plate camera. I dearly love the work of photographers such as Stephen Shore who works exclusively on 10x8 film, the highest quality format practically available. For the longest time I tried to mimic his photographs, initially with my 35mm or medium format film cameras and latterly with a digital SLR. But I never captured what his photographs had. and that is the intricate detail that fascinates the eye in its richness. To put it another way, if you look at a Willem Kalf painting or a Caneletto, the delight is in the precision of the image. Your eye may wander about these images always finding something new. The photos I took on lower resolution cameras did not have this quality, they were incapable of resolving that kind of detail and thus they lacked the punch and accutance that I sought.

Having realised this I took to aiming to capture the moment as I perceived it. This was what these lightweight cameras were best at. I could easily have them with me and as something unfolded before my eyes I could could capture that instant as it appeared to me. This is inherently more subjective and puts the viewer inside the eye of the photographer, you the viewer see the instant as I, the photographer, saw it when it was captured. This subjectivity is what I believe leads to the greater critical debate over photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson or Juergen Teller than happens with the masters of larger-format photography such as Ansel Adams. The taste of the viewer is more easily placated by the higher quality image, there is simply more in it to draw you in, but if you find the aesthetic of a "capture the moment" unappealing there is little else in the image to keep you looking at it. However when you find a capture the moment photographer whose work does connect with you, that connection with the image is often stronger than the more remotely observed large-format image can be. It simply plugs directly into your brain and emotion. Josef Koudelka and Christopher Doyle's work does this for me.

I think, therefore, that there is a camera to suit all types; I favour smaller, more discrete cameras that enable me to capture moments as they occur, that may be of pretty high quality but not at the expense of portability and unobtrusive size. So, Chulita, that's why I think my camera and I are well suited, it is the right tool for the photographs I've come to realise I like to take best.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

London in the Snow

It's late, I'm tired but I promised to post the photos I took on my way into work yesterday in the snow. It's all gone now but at least there's a few digital memories...

Southbank Snow

Waterloo Bridge in the Snow

Hayward Gallery

Bear's Winter Picnic


Hanging Baskets


Frosted Branches

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Demotivation Poster

From the roll your own section of www.despair.com.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Stevie Ray Vaughan AND BB King AND Albert Collins

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Snow in the morning, originally uploaded by thatbeautifulday.

Today we got proper winter weather in London. The city produces so much heat that it seldom snows and even when it does it rarely settles. Last night we got a whole inch or two of snow that lay in a soft blanket over the whole metropolis. I know that's not much to those who get "proper" snow but we city types must cling to what we can get.

As I've been working ridiculous hours recently I was in a very dozy state as I stumbled out of bed at 6.30 this morning. I didn't even look out of the window such was my myopic state so I was unprepared for the magical winter wonderland that awaited me outside. It was really lovely and definitely cheered me up as I trudged work-wards once more. I took a whole load of photos en route which I'll try to upload tonight if I get time.

As you may have noticed work has got hectic. We have to finish the film in a few weeks and there's much to do. Was it ever thus? Yup, pretty much. Anyway the panic button's been pushed and it's all hands to the pump. So If I go a bit quite between now and the end of March you'll know it's because I'm stuck in a hole in the ground in Soho making movie magic and not because I don't love you all anymore, OK?

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Monday, January 22, 2007

My Day at Work Can Best Be Summed Up By This Cartoon I Drew

Carrot and Stick, originally uploaded by Mr Atrocity.

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Soho, Saturday Morning

Soho, Saturday Morning, originally uploaded by Mr Atrocity.

One of the nicer things about having to work a Saturday is that I get to walk through Soho first. Soho's a pretty bustling area but on Saturday before about 9.30 it's practically deserted leaving me and my thoughts a little room, space and quiet to do their thing before the madness of the main part of the day commences.

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As long as I've been properly interested in art (say about 25 years) I've always loved David Hockney's work. For most of this time my adoration has been confined to art-books, never a good source of accurate colour and totally absent in terms of texture and scale. Still the work always connected with me. Even since I've been living in London I've seldom been able to actually stand in front of his work because although the Tate owns quite a few notable pieces (like "A Bigger Splash" for example) they hang them so infrequently that you could be a regular visitor to the the gallery and never see them.

For the last few months we've been lucky enough to have a large retrospective exhibition of Hockey's portraits at the National Portrait Gallery and on Thursday night I went to see it. There's something a little odd about seeing work with which you are very familiar in one form (book reproduction in this case) and seeing the actual work in the flesh. I've always known what an incredible draughtsman he is as sketches in pen or pencil translate more readily from original to repro, paintings seldom fare so well. So whilst I was expecting to be dazzled by the drawings, and I was, I did not know what to expect from the paintings. They did not disappoint. I think the two things which bowled me over most about his paintings are the use of texture and colour, especially the latter. Compared to the actual canvas every print I've seen does such a massive disservice to the original as to be practically meaningless. The choice of colours and their juxtaposition was magical and masterful. I doubt anyone has captured the warm southern Californian sun as well and the vivacious quality that suffuses those first Californian paintings is carried through into all his subsequent work, whether painted in California or not. The paintings from his Bradford and Royal College of Art days, before he moved to the U.S., are so drab in comparison, which is not to say that they are bad paitings, far from it, but it is obvious that as soon as he arrived in California it was as if his eyes opened and his palette exploded with a vibracy never seen before. No-one I can think of since Renior has painted people in such a joyous fashion. The pictures lift the spirits, they excite the eyes and you can almost feel the warmth of the sun on the back of your neck, which in a cold, windy and rainy January in London is a pleasant thought indeed.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

A Thousand Apologies

Dear Reader,

I have just noticed that the e-mail contact address on my profile page is wrong. When I set up the account for Mr Atrocity I'd forgotten that in the UK there's a legal squabble going on about who owns the gmail.com address here and therefore Google has made googlemail.com addresses until it's resolved. My real-life gmail address predates these shenanigans and is therefore gmail.com; Mr Atrocity's one is not. I had forgotten this. So if you've e-mailed me and been offended by the lack of response I can only apologise and say if you try it now, it does work.

Yours, very humbly,

Mr Atrocity


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Felix Meet World, World Meet Felix

So it turns out that my lovely friend Jelly didn't have trapped wind for nine months, in fact she's just had a baby. Born in Melbourne last night, little Felix weighed 3.7 kg or 8lbs 2ozs in old money. Jelly and Bradlington must be pretty thrilled. Bless their little faces. All my friends seem to be growing up, it's a little unnerving but I'm so excited for them.


Sunday, January 14, 2007

Are You Hep to the Jive I'm Laying Down?

Tinseltroos and I had our first Lindy-hop lesson today. There was a fairly large crowd of mostly enthusiastic beginners all wanting to emulate "Hellzapoppin'" as fast as possible. Well that, my friend, ain't gonna happen but I did enjoy myself immensely though by the time the two hour session was up I was definitely in need of sustenance, a beer, and a sit down. I have decided I like lindy-hop, it's a non-fussy dance, it's a bit sexy without all the studied, artificial foreplay of tango which is a bit arch for me. There's also room for a lot of improvisation once you get the basics apparently which appeals to my jazz soul. I don't think I was the worst male there, I sure as hell wasn't the best either but I got through 2 whole hours without treading on anyone's toes or hacking anyone's shins. This I count as a moral victory in itself. I've put together myself a playlist of Count Basie, Duke Ellington big band stuff and some of Oscar Peterson's "Night Train". I'm listening to "Take the A-Train" as I type. Yeah daddio, we're really jumpin'.

I also picked up some new glasses yesterday with which I'm very chuffed. My eyesight got marginally better in the last year, how is something of a mystery but there we go and I'm thankful. T and I also watched "The Descent" last night. There were too many brown trouser moments to count; absolutely terrifying and sustained terror for about 45 minutes. Egad, nurse where's my medication?

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Five Things You Don't Know About Me Meme

It's doing the rounds; here are my quirks.

1) I have no movement in the second joint on either thumb, they're just locked solid. As far as I know they always have been but I didn't notice until well into adulthood that everyone else seemed able to use their thumbs properly. I suspect I'm an evolutionary regression.

2) I have a scar on the side of my head from an injury caused by sister hitting me with a golf club. She claims it was accidental. At the time I had very long hair and did not notice that it scarred. It was only many years later when I shaved my head that it was revealed in all its glory.

3) I cannot swim. But since my one remaining ambition is to see a Great White Shark in the wild I'll have to learn one day. My other ambition was to have my name in the credits of a film I'm proud of and I finally achieved that with "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory". The films I'd been credited on prior to Charlie weren't regarded as terribly good movies, though personally I love "Troy" (sorry).

4) I was bullied a lot at school between the ages of about 13 and 18. I hated the place, the institution and my classmates. They were either actively complicit in the bullying or said or did nothing to help. I had long hair, liked comic books and Jimi Hendrix and this did not stand me in good stead my contemporaries who had spiked hair and liked chart music and read nothing. As a consequence I have no friends from school; every friend I have now comes from my adulthood and they are an amazing bunch of tolerant people.

5) I practically never remember my dreams. It's a constant source of annoyance that everyone else seems to have mega-budget flights of fancy and I get nought. As a child I had one recurring dream. I and the girl I had a crush on at the time, Alison (we were about 9 years old) were trapped in a dark forest and were always running and hiding from a pursuer. I never fully saw what it looked like, all I could make out was a pair of head-lights way up in the air looking like eyes on the giant machine. There never was any resolution to the dream.

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Friday, January 12, 2007

It's Up to You, New York, New York...

Well I'm not "leaving today" but Tinseltroos and I have booked out post Harry Potter holiday. Once the effects for the boy wizard are done we are jetting off to New York for a week. This is very exciting, especially for me as I am the world's worst travelled person. I've only flown twice before and the furthest I've got was Spain, so 8 hours seems like an eternity. I intend to have a charged DS and iPod to hand.

It will also be the first "proper" holiday I've had in about four years, I've only managed long weekends away in the intervening period so it will even more special. The thing that asonished me, but I should have realised had I thought more clearly, is how easy the internet has made booking a holiday. Both our hotel (The Soho Grand) and our flights (Virgin Atlantic) were booked online inside 20 minutes. It's quite incredible how easy it is to spend an awful lot of money in a terribly short amount of time. I can't help but think it should be more difficult to spend sums of this size but it's done now so in early May we'll be forgetting Hogwarts and saying "Hello, Manhattan". I cannot wait.

So if you, dear reader, have any must visit locations in New York please let me know. Any restaurants we must dine at, any bars that dazzle with the mixings, we need to kow them all.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Alan Moore Speaks

Stewart Lee interviewed comics legend Alan Moore, author of "Watchmen", "Lost Girls", "V For Vendetta" and so on, for the BBC Radio 4 series "Chain Reaction". Some kind soul has digitised it and put it up as an mp3 here. An excellent listen and pleasant for me to hear a proper Northamptonshire accent as they're in serious decline with the ever expanding influence of Estuary English.

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Rocket Assistance

Rocket Salad, originally uploaded by Philosopher Queen.

Perhaps it's just in the trendier, more metropolitan areas, but I can't help but notice that were are overrun by a green menace. It seems impossible to order a salad, a burger, a pasta dish or even a pizza without the whole thing being smothered in rocket. In moderation it's perfectly fine and harmless; it's slightly peppery, slightly soapy flavour can even be a welcome addition to a dish but the tendency seems to be to bury your food under a layer of the stuff, regardless of whether it's appropriate or not.

When I order a burger I know what I'm doing. I am saying, in no uncertain terms, that I require fat, starch, salt and more fat and I am wanting them now and in concentration. Burger eaters are not prissy, we do not care, in that instant, what the calorific horror of what we are doing means and we sure as hell do not require the object of our desire to be buried, as if to hide it from enemy aircraft, under this blanket of leaves. To be honest it spoils the fun. I know what I want and I do not wish some mealy mouthed dietitian to jazz up my simple pleasures under the guise of a consession to health, or gods forbid, style. It's a burger godammit, leave it alone, it was just fine without the rabbit food.

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Currys.digital Have Appalling Customer Service

In case anyone reading this lives in the UK, I would strongly advise not going to currys.digital as they have a wretched attitude to their customers. Tinseltroos bought a pricey new Freeview set-top box from them to replace the cheap and cheerful one she and Sisoftroos have been using for a while now. The new box, despite being five times as expensive as the one it replaces does not pick up as many channels and yet currys.digital won't take it back because it works fine in their store. The law in the UK states that goods sold must be:

Of satisfactory quality - goods must meet the standard that a reasonable person would regard as satisfactory, taking account of any description of the goods, the price and all other relevant circumstances. The quality of goods includes their appearance and finish, their safety and their durability. Goods must be free from defects, even minor ones, except where these defects have been brought to your attention by the seller (perhaps the goods are being sold as 'shop-soiled').

Fit for their purposes, including any particular purpose mentioned by you to the seller
- for example, if you are buying a computer game and you explain you want one that can be played on a particular machine, the seller must not give you a game that cannot be played on that machine.

As described
- on the package or a display sign, or by the seller. For example, if you are told that a shirt is 100% cotton, then it should not turn out to be cotton and polyester.

It's pretty clear that the goods are not "fit for purpose", i.e. watching TV at Tinseltowers not in the shop, and not "as described" since it promises to provide the Freeview channels and it doesn't. The above also demonstrates that it's not of "satisfactory quality" either. And yet Currys refused to take the device back. Bottom line here folks is don't buy anything from Currys, they're dreadful. And we're not alone in thinking that apparently.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

General Update Post

I don't have anything specific to write about but the last few days have not been uneventful so I'll attempt a brief digest of the more interesting bits.

As I think I've alluded to before, work's been pretty stressful recently. The last three months of 2006 were particularly bad with a lot of late nights and weekends, not just for me but for many of the others working with me on HPatOotP. This has not gone unnoticed and since the beginning of the new year there've been a few changes made to our working practices which should enable us to produce much better work more easily. We had some happy clients on Friday and I think we've carried on the improvements into this week. I stayed till 7.30 at work tonight simply because I felt motivated to do so. We were on a bit of a roll and I wanted to maintain it.

I also had another brush with technology somewhat unexpectedly. Last night our router at home perished so today's lunch break was spent scouring Tottenham Court Road for a replacement. Thankfully, experience with the last one meant I knew what I was doing wen it came to setting the little blighter up and we were all back online, with greater security and encryption than before. Running ShieldsUp! from www.grc.com seems to suggest we're pretty stealthy internet-wise at Atrocity Mansions now, which is a bit of a relief. Unfortunately because I'm using some decent encryption rather than the utterly discredited WEP I can't get my Nintendo DS to connect to the net which is a bore but better than running a vulnerable system.

Yesterday I met up with a lot of friends from a defunct company we used to work at for lunch in a pub close to Atrocity Mansions. It still amazes me that of all the close friends I've made in the industry the majority of them come from that one studio, which filed for bankruptcy over 6 years ago leaving us all owed a lot of money in unpaid wages and a whole year's work canned on a project that has not seen the light of day outside Norway. Perhaps it's because we went through hell together on that ill-fated show and the aftermath that brought us all close together but to be honest we were all a tightly knit group before the excrement ever hit the air-conditioning there. I don't get to see many of them very often as they're spread around the world, mostly still in visual effects so get-togethers can be tricky. I think most of the crew who still reside in London were there yesterday and it was grand to see them.


I finally submitted my short film to onedotzero, a prestigious short film and music video festival. I'm sure they'll reject it but I'm quite excited that I actually finished something that I deemed worthy of entry at least. A few friends who also have films ready to show have been working with me on a Google Calendar with all the submission dates for festivals we might want to enter. If you have a film then click this button:

and you'll find our calendar. Might be quite handy. If you could keep your fingers crossed for me on the onedotzero front I'd be very grateful. Whilst it's no matter of life or death it would give me a certain kind of satisfaction if it were accepted.

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Crafty Project Time

Lovely Necklace Model, originally uploaded by Mr Atrocity.

I had a plan to make Tinseltroos a more practical necklace than the ginormous one I made for her birthday. As we're both Zelda fans of many years I thought it would be fun to use some of the smaller game graphics as a design for making a bead necklace. What I did was find a picture I liked:

Then I found as many small beads in as close to the right colours as I could and then threaded lines of the right arrangement of beads onto thin silver wires with a loop at the top so each wire made one vertical line of pixels. I soldered the bottoms of the wire to stop the beads falling off. I then threaded the completed rows of beads onto a silver bar that I looped the ends of with needle-nosed pliers before soldering on the straps. I'm really quite pleased, I think it looks pretty and it's very Tinseltroos. The lady herself is now modeling the finished result.

I have plans to make others with Mario, Princess Peach, Bowser and so on for other friends of mine. If anyone's interested in a more fulsome explanation of how I did it then leave a comment and I'll write a better how-to. It's all very straight-forward really, though. The fun part is that each line can swing independently so often you can't tell exactly what the pattern is. Every once in a while though they'll line up and you can see that it's Link.

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Friday, January 05, 2007

Down, Down, Deeper and Down

So England have lost the Ashes series 5-0. I am utterly dejected. I know caring about sport is silly, I know caring about a sport that almost no-one else does is very silly, and I also know caring about a sport as silly as cricket is very very silly. But I can't help myself, I've always loved it and there is no trophy in any sport that I get more excited about than The Ashes. For England to get white-washed after having won it last time (which was a rarity in itself) is just too much to bear. That is all.

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Tis the Season of Brown

I doubt January is anyone's favourite month. In climates such as the UK, especially in the South where I live it's the season of dirty brown everywhere. There are no leaves on the trees, the grass is in retreat. Mud is everywhere as the rain is fairly constant but not heavy enough to be cleansing; it's just enough to dissolve the soil and spread it around. The mornings as I walk into work are dark and overcast, it then remains dark and overcast during the day and is then properly nighttime dark when I leave the studio to go home.

There are compensations of course. I like getting home, out of the cold, and making myself a cup of tea or hot chocolate to warm myself. I like the layers of jumpers and coats that make everyone into spherical woollen balls. I love the feeling of being toasty and warm inside your coat when your ears and nose are telling you that its freezing outside. And it certainly makes you appreciate home that little bit more when it really does feel like a shelter from the elements. The sensation of being wrapped up warm in your bed when you can hear the rain hammering against the window and the sound of the wind in the chimney breast is wonderful.

But mostly it's all dismal and brown out there and here it seldom snows or gets frosty and beautiful. The sun is pretty much absent from the sky and we treasure its few fleeting appearances through our office windows. Anytime we're outside be it at the beginning or end of the day it's twilight at best. Still the calming and relaxing effects of the Christmas holidays have yet to wear off and though I know I'm in for three or four months of hell to finish HPatOotP at work I'm still quite cheery. It's also quite a pleasant thought that as we finish work on the film we can emerge from our toils blinking into the light, like Moley in "The Wind in the Willows", and perhaps we'll have a few days holiday to enjoy the springtime. For the foreseeable future though, it will be work and darkness and mud.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Mix Tape (ahem) for January 2007

I still call them Mix Tapes in spite of the fact that I haven't owned a device capable of playing such a thing for nigh on a decade now. Still, it has a more pleasantly home-spun quality than Mix CD, or the even more "so bleeding edge technology, it's torn my ears right off" term, "playlist". Anyway after chatting with The Youngest Doddling over cocktails before the new year I realised that I hadn't made a compilation in quite some time so, without further ado, or cover-art, here's a little something for those long, dark January nights, complete with annotations:

"Scalped" - Dick Dale and the Deltones

The king of surf guitar. This is off one of his 1990s albums and is as high octane as anything he's done. If this doesn't raise your pulse-rate you're probably clinically dead.

"Is It My Body?" - Alice Cooper

From Alice's third album and some considerable distance from "Feed My Frankenstein". This, it could be argued, is a good thing.

"Escape From New York (Main Title)" - John Carpenter

Brilliant film, brilliant music. Carpenter's ultra minimal electronica never dates, even if the films do.

"Prescilla" - Bat For Lashes

Best debut album of last year in my book. Loved it and they're great live to boot.

"Serotonin" - Simple Kid

One of the best acts at The Green Man festival and a really lovely second album. Musically and lyrically interesting.

"Paul Simon" - The Russian Futurists

"I Love Rock and Roll" - Joan Jett and the Blackhearts

Carmen Electra and I are in full agreement on this one. Joan Jett is cool.

"Stoned is the Way of the Walk" - Cypress Hill

"Coast to Coast" - Cut Chemist

"Watch My Moves (Koushik remix)" - Dooley O

"Scent of a Robot" - Pete Miser

Heard this track on the promo reel for the SIGGRAPH festival and went directly to iTunes to get it.

"Your Thing is a Drag" - Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings

A Lascivious Biddies recommendation that I heartily endorse. This is proper funk.

"Let's Dance" - David Bowie

An 80's classic, a guilty pleasure, and it's got Stevie Ray Vaughan on guitar.

"Back in Black" - Hayseed Dixie

The definitive cover version by the definitive cover band.

"My Patch" - Jim Noir

"Hitachi Hard Drive Project" - Noriko

Gizmodo held a competion to make a piece of music from the sounds a dying hard-drive makes. This won; I like it.

"South Wind/Blarney Pilgrim" - John Renbourn and Robin Williamson

The Impenetrable String Tangle. Nuff said.

"Maremaillette" - Hawk And a Hacksaw

Another Green Man favourite of mine.

"All The Pretty Little Horses" - Current 93

The version with Nick Cave on vocals. One of Tinseltroos' favourite bands. I think their music ranges from the unlistenable (as in just plain awful) to the utterly sublime. I'll forgive them the rubbish for tracks like this one.

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Monday, January 01, 2007

A Happy 2007 To One And All

1st January 2007
The view on my way home today. London is such a beautiful city.

Also, in honour of the new year, I've made a tiny design change to the page layout. As I felt the background was a touch dull, I've added a subtle pattern based on a wallpaper design by Pugin to break it up a bit. I Hope it doesn't offend anyone's delicate aesthetic sensibilities too much?

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Roll of Honour

It's about time I posted a link to some of the fabulous people whose thoughts I am lucky enough to get to read when they post, since I don't maintain a blogroll on this site for resons of laziness and trying to keep the sidebars full of ever-changing content.

In no particular order, here are a few of the folks whose blogs provide insight and entertainment, and some of whom I feel as though I know and understand a little now despite never having met them in person. That's one of the most magical things about these online communities is how we can construct these personalities for ourselves and then interact with others from around the world from every walk of life that can access a computer. That's a first in human history and I feel very fortunate to be a part of it. And to all those listed below, thank you, and please keep writing.














A Touch Like a Midwife

Derek "Blaster" Bates - 1923-2006

I only found out yesterday that one of the icons who has haunted my entire life, Derek "Blaster" Bates died in September last year at the age of 83. "Blaster" was a demolition expert from Cheshire, the county of my birth, whose exploits and larger than life personality were turned into a successful after dinner speaking career once he'd tired of blowing things up; or perhaps there was nothing left to blow-up? Many of his stories are available on a selection of albums which my dad had on vinyl and some of which are now available on CD. "Laughter With a Bang" is probably my favourite. As well as the stories and his inimitable way of telling them they're also a wonderful record of the Cheshire accent, something which with the broader influence of TV and greater migration has become hugely diluted in people of my generation. My accent has almost entirely disappeared to be replaced by my current Radio 4 Received Pronunciation mode of speech. I still have short a's though, as in "bath" rather than "baaarrrth", but that's all that remains.

My knowledge of "Blaster" is twofold, mostly through his recordings and also because people in my family knew him and told other stories about him. Although I never met him, he has always been part of my life as I remember being told cleaned up versions of the stories by my family before I was deemed old enough to hear the undiluted original with all its gorgeous use of the Anglo-Saxon vernacular.

A fan of country pursuits such as shooting and fishing as well as a long association with motorbike stunt riding and racing the breadth of his tales and the frequent description of places I know well still strike a chord with me now when I hear them. And of course they still make me howl with laughter even on the five hundredth listen.

They really don't make 'em like him anymore. Bless you, "Blaster".

The title of this post comes from a celebrated incident when "Blaster" was being interviewed on TV and he was asked what he had that enabled him to handle such dangerous explosives so deftly. You've already read his answer.

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