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Dreadful Nonsense

"I've read your blog. it's really funny. you should write a column." - Jon Ronson

31 May 2003

Frankly, I am shocked, and I'm not afraid to tell you that I'm a little appalled. Now, it's been a short while since I've seen the work of John Edward first hand, seeing as how I don't have cable any more, but unless they've seriously changed the format, I don't see how the broadcasting standards authorities can be demanding that they list it as an entertainment show. Shocked and appalled. And a little amused. But mainly appalled.

29 May 2003

Temping, I trust we're all aware, is a very dispiriting business, as well as one of great freedom and some hidden rewards. Today's adventure in the world of the temp was one of the former, rather than the latter. Sitting in an estate agents... I think that says enough. But I'll go on, because that's one of the things that I do.

Sitting in an estate agents, answering the phone to people who are getting increasingly desperate through the day to talk to the one person that holds their homes and livelihoods in their hands - or at least all the deeds to them - gets a bit boring. After a while, rather than feeling sorry for the poor sods like I did in the morning, I started to roll my eyes instead. By about 4pm, when the phone wouldn't stop ringing, I had knocked all the files off my desk and in to a great big mess of papers on the floor, when the fax wouldn't go through and the printer wouldn't work for reasons that none of us could understand, and my back was killing me through being croached in a bad position because of crap seating arrangements, I started to hate every stupid idiot that wanted to buy a house, or had bought a house but didn't have the keys.

The main partner was also quite snappish, probably because when an important or urgent call came in I would insist on giving her the message rather than following the office protocol of screwing up the pieces of paper and throwing them in the bin, and then setting fire to them, and doing to estate agents dance of the damned around the flames.

I discovered halfway through the day that the recruitment agency that had placed me there had lied to the firm and told them that I had extensive experience in conveyancing, when in fact I've never done it before in my life. I was quite surprised to hear that, but not as surprised as they were when I implied as much. I'd be interested to see what kind of feedback I'd get from them, because when the partner asked me to get such and such a form or request such and such a certificate, I think I pulled a face like a mong, rather than jumping immediately up and following through the request, which I would have done if I'd known which language she was speaking.

In short, a bad day. But not as bad a day as the idiot that placed me there is going to have tomorrow when I tell her just how much of an idiot I think she is.

Tomorrow: another interview with another recruitment agency. At the moment I'm a member of six agencies. It's common practice to join two when job hunting. I like to cast my net wider. Wonder what'll turn up.

If my luck carries on, it'll be another week off with no pay, and a chance to catch the new telly show every morning with Terry Wogan and Gaby Roslin.

27 May 2003

Seemed like a good idea at the time, didn't it? All the excitement of jacking in my job. How easily I walked in to a new job, too. Finish on Friday, start again on Monday. Well, damn it, the stupid gits at the recruitment agency were exaggerating the availability of work just a tiny little bit. And now I don't have a job, I don't have any money, I have a massive over draft, and I'm starting to panic a little bit.

But. On the upside, I bought some Angel videos to celebrate my unemployment, so at least I've got something to watch during the day.

Another interview with another agency tomorrow morning. This is all getting a bit tiring.

22 May 2003

Watched the fabulous pilot for the fabulous Boosh on BBC3 on Tuesday night at my friend's house. I am assuming that this will be repeated on terrestrial telly before long, and will be urging everyone I meet to go watch it, as it is really wonderful – a great piece of television, and a great realisation of what I would have thought to be quite a challenging programme to bring to the small screen.

I was quite disappointed therefore to read this rubbish, lazy review from Victor Lewis Smith in the Evening Standard, so I’ve started a pointless debate on the This Is London website. I fired this off this morning –

I am really disappointed, but not particularly surprised, that VLS wasn’t able to enjoy The Boosh. But apparently he had decided he wouldn’t like it before he’d seen the show. Four paragraphs in to his review and he hasn’t mentioned the show yet. Which means, unless I’m making a terrible assumption, he's written that bit before he saw the show because he heard the word "arctic" in the description.

But that’s not really the point, is it? In the part of the review where he bothered mentioning the show, he didn't give lee-way to the fact that, although it's not his type of humour, it doesn't mean other people will like it. Obviously, the studio audience enjoyed it very much. His review is very reactionary, looking at the surface and when he didn't like what he saw, his mind was made up immediately. The fact that he didn't realise there was a point to them finding the Egg of Mantumbi – an important plot point, in fact – makes it totally obvious that he wasn't paying proper attention to the story, which is disgraceful when he's supposed to be reviewing it. Watching a programme in a half-arsed manner is always going to make the programme appear half-arsed.

The obvious comparisons to Python and Reeves & Mortimer are just lazy. I'm surprised Izzard didn't get dragged in to it too. It's so sad when someone can't watch something for what it is, without having to force it in to a pigeon hole for a simpler understanding.

I thought The Boosh was fantastic, highly original, and very well realized. I am looking forward to seeing it again when it makes its inevitable transition to full series.

Looking forward to reading some replies. If you saw it, do join in!

20 May 2003

Is it wrong that I fancy that new Irish hit man character on Hollyoaks? I think it's the accent.

16 May 2003

Six days left at work. Boss off on conference. Filing done. Papers sorted out. Nothing to do. Bored now. Sitting at desk trying to look busy, with secretary beside me fully aware that I’m slacking off on the net, and it’s not even 11am. What to do? Hey! Friday Five!

1. What drinking water do you prefer -- tap, bottle, purifier, etc.?
We used to have a water purifier at home in Dublin, which was kept in the fridge but it got all skanky with this green muck all over the filter. So that’s put me off that concept. I can’t drink the water from the tap in Edinburgh, it all seems to be a little cloudy for me, and the fact that you have to chew it puts me off. So I buy and drink bottled because I’m a spoilt brat and it makes me feel like I’m in an American sitcom.

But more than water, I sing the praises of Vanilla flavour Diet Coke – the most unnatural thing ever invented to put into your mouth.

2. What are your favourite flavor of chips?
You mean ‘crisps’, colonial scum.

There was a girl featured in the Metro this morning who apparently collects crisp bags – any time the design changes, she’s in there, being careful not to rip the bags and keeping them in a photo album. She says they’re interesting, and do you know? There’s something in me, something frightening that I’d rather not talk about, that understands what she means. That something made me go mental when I discovered I don’t seem to have the full collection of Damien Rice singles when I thought I did. (It turns out that I do). But I digress. I then found this on eBay this morning that pleased me even more than the original article. Don’t judge me.

I like all crisp flavours equally, but I always buy McCoys Cheddar & Onion because I have no imagination.

3. Of all the things you can cook, what dish do you like the most?
Fried Streaky Strips (a kind of vegetarian bacon substitute) mixed in with vegetarian caesar salad. That’s a dish, isn’t it? And it involves some cooking.

I don’t cook. I reheat, or add water, or microwave, or occasionally defrost. I don’t cook.

4. How do you have your eggs?
If I was going to have eggs, I would have them with a very uneasy feeling, and then about ten minutes later I would have an urgent need to throw up. I’m allergic to eggs, and therefore I don’t have eggs. Before I knew I was allergic, when I wasn’t so allergic to them as I am now, I used to like to scramble eggs with a vegetable oxo cube mixed through them. That was yum squared.

I once accidentally cracked a rotten egg on to a frying pan. The smell is unbelievable.

5. Who was the last person who cooked you a meal? How did it turn out?
I went round my friend’s house a few weeks ago to watch Angel and Buffy and she cooked some pizzas for us. It turned out quite nicely, although then it turned out to Cordelia was evil, and that confused me because until then I had remained spoiler-free, and then I had to go straight home and read up the next five episodes. My geekier side is really turning up the volume today.

15 May 2003
Oh! Oh! I keep forgetting to do my celebration dance over the news that Angel has been recommissioned! [Obligatory geek warning – contains spoilers]

After spending a good hour writing a fairly facetious review of YSKOV by Dave Eggers for my parents who, for reasons still unclear to me, had agreed to review it for Ian Dempsey's stinking breakfast show on Today FM, the aforementioned stinking breakfast show never called them back. So my review remains unbroadcast and unheralded, which is probably for the best.

Last night, Mum pointed out that this probably means they give you a month – A MONTH! – to read the book that you’ve won and review it, before they call you back. Which is sweet, but is a worrying indication on how long it might take the average Today FM listener to read a not-particularly-long book. And now, it will probably fall down to my Dad to read my review from his desk at work. Which I do wish I could hear.

6 working days left here before I get to run away to an identical law office up the road to type up identical documents. Really, the lack of anticipation is killing me.

14 May 2003

Brilliant. Derren Brown attempts to avoid shooting himself in the head on Chennel (do you see what I did there?) 4 in October. Sadly, this will not be a live broadcast, which I feel will take the tension away from it somewhat.

13 May 2003

Eight days and counting until I finish my job, and I am so looking forward to it now. Following a brief episode of Quitter’s Regret on the Friday night, I have been facing forward and never looking back, and it’s all a big party in my head every time I think about the fact that I don’t have to come back in here. However, that’s not allowed me to escape from the every day stress of the damn place – this morning, I came so close to smacking someone round the face, and it’s really not like me. I like to channel my violent rages, and just discuss them in email form with friends who are at a safe distance. But this morning! Oh my lord! It was only 10.30am, and I had already used up my rage quotient for the day.

One of my friends has suggested that perhaps I might possibly have a little problem dealing with what is referred to in the business world (and indeed the rest of the world) as “authority”. I have no problem with it at all, I replied, I just don’t respect it, and don’t want to deal with it. Dammit, I’m a maverick, destined to work and play alone. I, for one, am the definition of the antonym of a team player. I’m a loose cannon.

And then yesterday at one of the recruitment agency interviews, I sat there with a great big fake smile plastered right across my great big fakely sincere face, and told a handful of lies in order that they will do their best to go out and find me another soulless job in another airless office surrounded by more city-shuffle freaks.

Last night I sat in the dark at the back of the room at The Stand and entertained myself by writing mini-reviews of all the acts that were on stage, while also writing a great big review of You Shall Know Our Velocity by Dave Eggers for my mother, who is supposed to be reviewing it on Today FM tomorrow. I’ve got to learn to channel my rage through some medium other than sarcasm.

10 May 2003

Any people who live in or near the land of London should go and see this comedy show. It's for a great cause and it's got an amazing line up (which includes someone who was on Richard and Judy last week)

Six Of The Sixth

A Benefit for Kith And Kids

On Friday 6th June, doors 7.30
At The Bloomsbury Theatre, 15 Gordon St, LONDON WC1
Nearest tube Euston.
Box office 0207 388 8822

Kevin Eldon (Big Train, Jam, those Twix adverts, The Fist of Fun)
Stewart Lee (The Fist of Fun)
Francesca Martinez (from off of Holby City)
Simon Munnery (Attention Scum, Alan Parker Urban Warrior)
Al Murray (The Pub Landlord)
Dan Antopolski (Perrier Award Nominee)
… more names to be confirmed

I just properly read through that story. Interesting quote about the nine survivors of the flight - "They were traumatised and spoke of their baggage flying everywhere."

They were traumatised by the sight of the baggage flying everywhere?

I was walking home from work today, thinking happy thoughts about the weekend, and the fact that I've only got two weeks left at work, and thinking that I should probably pop home to Dublin for a visit, and how much easier it would be just to suck up the fear and fly, and thinking that when I get home I might look up some cheap flights, and that I can do it, and it makes more sense than spending all day on a train and then I saw this story and decided to take it as a sign. I shall never allow my feet to leave the ground. Dammit, I'm walking to Dublin, people.

09 May 2003

The Apathetic Online Journal Entry Generator

"If there's one thing that the Web has changed about modern communication, it's that we've at long last done away with the archaic idea that publishing is the private playground of people who have ideas, experiences, and opinions. As thousands of online journals and weblogs have demonstrated, the important thing is to make sure that you let your friends and the world at large know what you're doing and thinking, even if you're not actually doing or thinking anything.

We realize that creating something from void and formlessness is difficult and largely thankless work. That's why we've provided the Apathetic Online Journal Entry Generator, so that you can create a content-free posting with a minimum of effort, freeing you to going back to doing nothing in particular."

And a public announcement - hey guys? That infinite number of monkeys thing? That's just a freaking saying, y'all. You should have just handed me the £2,000, I could have told you what was going to happen.

And, by the way, 6 is nowhere close to infinity.

Friday Five

1. Would you consider yourself an organized person? Why or why not?
I can be pretty organised when I want to be. I tend to plan things very far in advance so that nothing goes unchecked, but occasionally I totally forget about something until the last moment, and have to improvise around the fact that I've got no idea what I'm doing or where I'm going.
Why am I an organised person? I haven't completed my degree in Psychology just yet - I'll get back to you on that second part in about 6 years.

2. Do you keep some type of planner, organizer, calendar, etc. with you, and do you use it regularly?
I carry around a little diary that's supposed to keep all the details of what I've done, what I'm doing and what I'm going to do. I got it to put in all dates of reviews I did, to make sure I got paid. It has all of my friend's birthdays in it, as I write them in every January, copied from the year before. I also put all the dates of all my OU tutorials until April. Other than that, it doesn't say much else. I always forget to write stuff in, but it wouldn't matter if I did, because I always forget to read it if I have written stuff in. I use the electric calendar on my work email account to remind me to do things like pay council tax, but from the 23rd of May, I won't have that any more. So possibly I'll be being prosecuted round about August.

3. Would you say that your desk is organized right now?
My desk at work is always organised, because that's the one thing I do when trying to make it look like I'm busy and doing important work related things - I move the stapler from one side of the computer to the other, and arrange the post-it notes in order of size. Underneath the clean and tidy sheen though, my desk is horrendously disorganised - filing is everywhere (but in neat piles); the folders I inherited from the last secretary haven't been updated since, but I've shoved things at the front of them, always fully intending to sort through it one day but never getting round to it; the stand I use to keep impending work on hides a really horrible job I've been putting off for weeks and now can't bear to look at; underneath my desk are two massive concertina files full of filing - one for out of date and closed files and one for current files - I can no longer look at either of them, because the prospect of delving in to there frightens me… so. No. My desk gives the appearance of organised, but actually it's hysterically out of control.

4. Do you alphabetize CDs, books, and DVDs, or does it not matter?
I don't alphabetize anything, but I do organise them into genres, performers/authors/writers etc. So I know, in the event of there being a gap, what's missing. It comes from living with three siblings who like to borrow without asking.

5. What's the hardest thing you've ever had to organize?
The freakish filing system in this office. Which, if I'm honest with myself, is one of the many reasons I'm leaving the office. It's so hard to keep up with, it's really frustrating, no one appreciates the amount of work it involves, there's absolutely no light at the end of the tunnel, and it's just a constant hassle. And I've not even organised it, just tried to work out the secret alphabet that the last secretary used to maintain it. It's like a Mensa quiz, and even my astonishing IQ can't cope with it.

07 May 2003

Many people will have already heard of the case of Amina Lawal, who has been sentenced to death by a Nigerian court for the crime of adultery. Hidden beneath news of SARS and war, last week the Nigerian Supreme Court upheld the decision.

She is to be buried up to her neck and stoned to death. The execution, which was postponed so that she could continue to breastfeed her baby, has now been set for 3 June.

If you haven't been following this case, Lawal's baby is regarded as the 'evidence' of her adultery. A campaign against the sentence is being handled by the Spanish branch of Amnesty International, which is attempting to put together enough signatures to make the Nigerian government rescind the death sentence. This sort of concerted campaign saved another Nigerian woman who had been condemned in similar circumstances.

It will only take you a few seconds to sign Amnesty's online petition. Go to http://www.amnistiaporsafiya.org and enter your first name in the space marked 'nombre', last name ('apellidos'), county ('provincia'), country, and in the drop-down box pick 'Reino Unido' for United Kingdom or 'Irlanda' for Ireland. Then click on 'Seguir' and go to the second page. There you have the option of entering your email address if you wish to receive follow-up information. In any case, be sure to click on 'aceptar' to have your name added to the petition list.

06 May 2003

On Sunday, I took part in the Test The Nation thingy on the BBC, as did Edel in Dublin. We both got identical scores: 130. Putting us in the top 2% of the country, and also making us eligible for membership of MENSA. There's got to be a mistake.

02 May 2003

This Friday Five is all about songs. I’ve spent ages and ages on Google, typing in album and band names, because I’m rubbish at remembering song titles. Hope you appreciate the effort.

1. Name one song you hate to admit you like.

I bought the single of Flying Without Wings by Westlife. Shut your face.

2. Name two songs that always make you cry.

Virtually anything can make me cry if I’m that way inclined. The Bluetones “Fountainhead” usually does the trick, not because it’s a particularly sad song, but because of associations. Same with Damien Rice’s “Blower’s Daughter”. I discovered. The other day. And The Frames “Lay Me Down”. And Mic Christopher’s “Hey Day”. And “Other Side” and “Clean Pair Of Eyes” by David Gray. And “I Won’t Look Down” by Ben and Jason. And I’ll stop now. This list is far too easy to compile.

3. Name three songs that turn you on.

That’s a rude question, with probably quite a rude answer. An answer that is not being shared with you rude people. The internet isn’t just about smut, you know. Besides, I think answering that question might reveal more about me than I’m comfortable with.

4. Name four songs that always make you feel good.

That changes because whenever I love a song, I do tend to play it to death and then get bored. But I love “It’s The End Of The World” by REM and “All I Want” by Joni Mitchell. The current two other bouncy along ones would be “Painkiller” by Turin Brakes and “Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots Pt 1” by Flaming Lips. Mind you, most Flaming Lips songs make me feel good.

5. Name five songs you couldn't ever do without.

Well, all of the above I could never do without. And other songs would include “Best Imitation of Myself” by Ben Folds Five, the Doug Anthony All Stars version of “Throw Your Arms Around Me”, Divine Comedy’s “Through a long and sleepless night” and “Charge”, the entire Life’s Rich Pageant album by REM and “This Charming Man” by The Smiths and… this is supposed to be quite a disciplined list, isn’t it? Shame that.

"Never mind him now. He's over tired and only showing off. Sure, it'll all end in tears."