Archive for August, 2004


Sunday, August 29th, 2004
Primer is a Super 16mm film by Shane Carruth that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, where it won two major prizes and a fair amount of acclaim. As far as I can make out from the trailer (click here for 10mb QuickTime version) and various websites, the story is about four men build error-checking devices in their spare time. Through trial and error, they build a (time travel?) device that two of them realise is too valuable to market. The strapline for the film – “If you always want what you can’t have, what do you want when you can have anything?” – hints at the potential of such a scenario. Viewer opinion seems polarised with some geeks and science fiends giving it a thumbs up whilst others scratch their heads and dismiss it as claptrap. I’d like to see it and make up my own mind but, as it isn’t even released in the US until October, I doubt it will reach the UK any time soon and then maybe only as a DVD.

Meanwhile, closer to home, I am looking forward to some extended couch time over the next 72 hours as I watch the always-watchableand grossly under-used Ken Stott in the BBC’s Messiah III. The two previous two-parters, written by Lizzie Mickery, have been excellent examples of a genre the BBC do so well – taut scripted, finely crafted, well acted psychological dramas.

No pace like Holmes’

Saturday, August 28th, 2004

With more than enough yang to cancel out Radcliffe’s ying, earlier this evening Kelly Holmes blew away not only the rest of the field in the women’s 1500m Olympic final, but also the cloud that has hung over her performance in major competitions for the last 12 years. Holmes’ wide eyed smiles will now pass into the history books and rightly so.

Only in Malta!

Saturday, August 28th, 2004


My Maltese colleague Roderick is no mean photographer*. His landscapes, wildlife and floral studies are particularly good. Recently, he drew my attention to a website called Only in Malta!. This site has an excellent and growing collection of funny photographs. Those who have Maltese friends or who have visited Malta, Gozo or Comino, will recognise scenes depicting the unique way in which the Maltese approach life. On the other hand, if you are not familiar with Malta or the Maltese, you might be tempted to dismiss these as just another bunch of snaps of silly road signs and people in whacky situations. For the uninitiated, imagine a mix of an Aussie’s ‘no worries’ attitude, a Spaniard’s ‘mãnana’ outlook and then throw in a dose of West Indian ‘laid back’ lifestyle, you might just get close to the way in which they embrace their love of life.

*Rod has just made me aware that his site is being upgraded at this time, so check back to see his work soon.

Low tech high tech

Thursday, August 26th, 2004

How to do infrared data transfer of contact information between a Darkside smartphone and a T610 without having to read the receiving screen upside down. Despite appearances, it’s been a busy week as the lack of posts will attest.

Kelly Holmes: It comes to she who waits

Monday, August 23rd, 2004

Kelly Holmes finally gets what she deserves. I can’t recall anyone who has worked and waited so long.

World Exclusive – Pundit talks nonsense

Sunday, August 22nd, 2004

From the BBC’s Live: Women’s marathon website.

Mile 23
Disaster for Paula.

She slows and then stops, unable to go any further. Having given everything in pursuit of that elusive Olympic gold, she is now in tears.

In response to the above, Brendan Foster has just talked out of his arse. According to Foster and admittedly I’m paraphrasing from memory here, winning gold in the Olympic marathon isn’t about being the best marathon runner in the world, it is being about being the best marathon runner over a tough hilly course on a hot evening in Athens. Well, the Olympics are being held over a tough hilly course on a hot evening in Athens. I doubt Mizuki Noguchi who has just won gold is going to be too worried about Radcliffe being the fastest marathon runner or the fact that Deena Kastor’s ‘conservative’ race style brought her from nowhere to finsh an emetic third. I would imagine that she’s thinking that she’s the Olympic marathon champion and that – after beating the hotly tipped favourite and the best the world has to offer – she was the best marathon runner in the world on the day.

I know pundits say things in the heat of the moment and that it is easy to criticise from my office chair but it’s my licence fee that’s paying his salary so I’m entitled to point out shortcomings. Off for a consolatory beer and snack.

Wheatgrass and chocolate

Sunday, August 22nd, 2004

At the other end of the athletic spectrum from me and performing far beyond the capabilities of most us, you’ll find Paula Radcliffe, whose life appears to have been destined to bring her to Athens. One’s admiration only increases upon learning that, in order to bring herself to the very pinnacle of athletic prowess, she has had to find ways to control the potentially debilitating combination of asthma and anaemia. The asthma is kept at bay, in part, by drinking wheatgrass juice whilst the anaemia, more surprisingly, by eating chocolate, which is rich in magnesium, iron and zinc. Would anyone believe me if I said that? Anyway, along with half the country, I will be cheering her on in a couple of hours when she competes in the race that will retrace the steps of the original run from Marathon to Athens. Hopefully, like Philippides sprinting ahead of the invaders, Radcliffe will run ahead of the pack to claim her place in history. Asthma or no asthma, she is fully expected to live to tell the tale and run again, unlike poor Philippides who, after announcing the Persians were popping over for a spot of afternoon tea and wholesale slaughter, promptly dropped dead from his exertions.

Body and sole

Sunday, August 22nd, 2004

Sunday mornings are a great time to run around here because you pretty much have the streets and pavements to yourself. This morning was no exception, with the early morning sunshine warming my back as I worked my way across the Isle of Dogs and through the near-deserted roads and plazas of Canary Wharf before turning south and heading back home.

Jubilee Place, Canary Wharf

Running in a city provides one with a different perspective of a city to those which most folks experience. As I prefer to run on the softer asphalt of the road rather than the knee-jarring concrete pavements, I am acutely aware of not only every manhole cover and pothole but also the rise and fall of the gradient and the variation in the camber. Drivers and passengers who use London’s roads will not have the same intimate acquaintance with and knowledge of the variety in the road’s texture that runners do. The grippiness of granular tarmac, the unforgiving nature of herringboned brick, the potential for injury that lies in cobbles and the blessed relief of smooth black asphalt. In a similar fashion, perhaps only cyclists with their increased rate of respiration, will know of the smells and tastes that impress themselves on the urban runner. Whether it is the smell of stale beer and urine around the local late-license pub, the muggy fug that issues from the merchant bank’s air conditioning ducts or throat-catching tang of the processed fats factory at Leamouth, each is as much a milestone on a run as any white line or lamppost. The difference in the level of traffic fumes between, say, late Friday afternoon and early Sunday morning is scarily palpable by taste and smell, reinforcing the image of shimmering waves of translucent blue wisps taken in by the eyes. Permanent landmarks and other fixed features take on different aspects when one has more time to absorb their presence. To me, the off-kilter bollard peeking out from a line of peers speaks of a wider streetscape that is moulded by the way in which it is used or abused. A runner, unencumbered by the roof of a car or the brow of a helmet is free to look beyond and above the more usual sightlines of the urban traveller. Gaps between part-closed gates, hedges and walls offer the runner a brief sweeping glimpse of what lies beyond, not dissimilar to the type of rapid panning shots beloved of pop video and edgy action movie directors. Through these momentary keyholes a runner can spy all manner of things from the mundanely workaday to the furtively illegal. In a car, one might never see the child’s training shoe that dangles by it’s lace from a telephone wire, never ponder as to whether it ended up there as a result of the owner’s high jinks or the darker, more cruel taunting of a bully. On a bus, one will surely miss the street signs plundered from unsuspecting towns across the country, then furtively reattached to a solitary signpost outside the pub used by the local rugby club.

It is strange then, with all these things and more flooding my senses, that I feel both present and removed when I run. Whether this is what athletes would describe as being ‘in the zone’ or more closely aligned with the inner calm of those who meditate, I cannot say. What I can say is that whilst running allows me closer and more intimate interaction with my immediate environment, it also provides me with a valuable opportunity to step away from daily concerns, granting me small instances of calm obserevance and reflection I find nowhere else, regardless of where I run.

This little piggie went to…

Saturday, August 21st, 2004
Borough Market

On this gloriously sunny English summer’s morning, I jumped onto the DLR* with sprogs 1 and 4 in tow and headed up to the market to grab a few foodie delights and meet up with with some old work colleagues. The bignoseduglyguy raiding party foraged far and wide, seeking out unusual ingredients, tasty snacks…and all the stalls with free samples. These included organic cheese, smoked eel, cockles, pain chocolat, a stonking espresso made with organic beans. Purchases included bunches of fresh samphire harvested in the fens of Norfolk, unsalted anchovy fillets and organic smoked streaky bacon. Further along I also picked up some wild beef sausages from a very nice lady whose stall had been mentioned on The Archers and whose chalkboard was given over to celebrating Matthew Pinsent’s fourth Olympic Gold earlier this morning – apparently her son used to row at the same club as Pinsent. All this activity had worked up appetites and thirsts and so, after a pit stop for chips (sprogs) and steak and salad ciabatta (me), we wandered over to The Market Porter for a lunchtime pint or two before wending our way home again.

*Travel tip for London parents: Buying an off-peak Zone 1 & 2 family travel card for me and the eldest sprog (No. 4 goes free) meant that all three of us could travel anywhere in Central London just £2.10. This is cheaper than if I had paid for just myself with my Oyster Card. Credit for this thrifty wheeze goes to SWMBO.


Thursday, August 19th, 2004

I know, I know, you feel neglected. I haven’t posted or phoned or sent flowers but I’ve been busy.

  • MON: Work then family stuff.
  • TUES: Work then friend’s BBQ & beer.
  • WED: Headache, work then collect sprogs from outlaws.
  • THUR: Work then playing with new wiki setup.

I’ll write….I promise. OK?