Friday, October 31, 2003

Archway Bridge, London

This spans the apparently artificially created valley of Archway Road, which was cut into Highgate Hill in the ice age, as locals needed a less slippery way of getting from East Finchley. The quick deflection of a passing glacier et voilá. The bridge itself is famed as a popular suicide spot, its notoriety greatly enhanced by its close proximity to a well established mental institute. Emblazened on the side is the number 1897, which many assume is the year it was built (which was actually 1821) but is in fact a throwback to the days when the Canon of Highgate would keep a count of the suicides for his popular Morbid Society. This slightly notorious practise was stopped when a five man fight over who would get to be the 1900th suicide spilled into Lauderdale House and upturned Lord Lauderdale's fine collection of watercolours. The 1898th to jump was actually the Canon himself, giving lie to the oft-stated opinion that the Morbid Society were just voyeurs with no empathy for the suicidal.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003


The gas man came around to fix the boiler this morning and told me a interesting tale. He said that OFWAT, the water watchdog, told the local water board to reduce their leakages by 50% in two years. Instead of fixing the leaks the water board reduced their average water pressure from 4 bar to 2 bar, saving 50% of water lost to leaks in a stroke. Is this not the brilliance that made Britain great (again)? The knock-on effect, however, is that combination heaters, ascot boilers and electric showers sited above about the third floor are all fucking up. How's that for joined-up thinking?

Monday, October 20, 2003

Diet Bill

A Lo-Cal drink for Lo-Cal people

Friday, October 10, 2003


I've been reading Coetzee, the writer who recently won the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature (or something). Not having read many works of literature I feel distinctly ill-equipped to write about them when I do read them, but Coetzee is a writer, rather like Kapuscinski - but for different reasons - that I would quite happily read endlessly. He is not flashy, like my first love Julie Burchill whose writing crackles with the crunch of a hundred wraps of amphetamine. He does not draw any particular attention to the writing, but he conjures something distinctly ineffable, a kind of music, out of the words, and it is not at all clear how he does this. (This would be the meaning of conjure, but I'll make the point twice anyway). His words seem to come out of a peacefulness, slightly reminiscent of the peace that the Hindus claim, somewhat against the odds, is our true self. He tells his stories economically. You could often almost forget about him, which is the true art of the writer, I guess, and diametrically opposed to the self-absorbed hacks that I have got so used to reading. Perhaps to Coetzee the reader is more important than the writer. It is a refreshing sensation to have someone's skill used for your benefit, instead of their self-aggrandisement; nothing is greater than the great being humble, and Coetzee is both great and humble.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Getting my head down/ doing my birds

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Commentary commentary

watched Lokomotiv Moscow v Arsenal today but the novelty of an afternoon kick-off and being able to watch in the comfort of my armchair were soon wiped out when I realised I'd not be spared the grimmest commentary since Dan Maskell used to regularly force me to watch Wimbledon with the sound down. Peter Drury and particularly Jim Beglin' Belief spouted nonsense endlessly, criticising Arsenal players for moves that didnt come off (thrown into stark relief as I considered Beglin's skill-laden playing career) and at the nadir having a pop at K-Lo for being offside. "Oh he was offside from very early in the play" intoned Drudgery and Beglin fell over himself to agree just as the replay showed Kolo precisely onside.

Commentary is one area of English football that is resolutely stuck in the seventies. These guys have stuck to the template for what feels like hundreds of years. At worst football commentary is reminiscent of those magnetic poetry fridge stickers which you rearrange to make a new phrase, only this lot rearrange stock phrases with only a rough approximation of the game. If we've imported all these continental stars why cant we get some of those foreign commentators with their "GOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL" and overeffusion, instead of this dour banality where a couple of dull nobodies get to criticise decent footballers for not playing perfectly all the time.