Friday, January 30, 2004

Remember Me

I spent last weekend in Nottingham. It turned out to be a strange couple of days. I was very happy, of course, to meet up again with people who I haven’t seen for so long. However, it was also rather sad, for reasons I’m not going to go into here.

Was Lord Hutton awake during the Hutton Inquiry? I worry that, with the Royal Charter for the BBC being up for renewal in two years, Minister of Truth Lord Hutton (Yes, he was appointed as a Peer by Tony Blair. Why do you ask?) has delivered the capability for the government to turn it into a state-run media outlet of an altogether less inspiring nature. There was a debate last night on the radio in which lots of people were saying that a “Liberal clique” runs the BBC. You know what? Good, if it’s true! The Right has always been able to buy or bargain whatever media coverage it needs (See: The Daily Mail backing the BUF because Mussolini told them it was a good idea), and always will. Therefore, I don’t see the BBC having a Liberal bias as a bad thing, in a media overwhelmingly dominated by Right-wing views.

First British Sea Power, and now Franz Ferdinand. What is it, exactly, about a certain type of person in my generation that makes them obsessed with the Edwardian age? I think that it’s the awareness that what happens now will, to a large extent, affect the outcome of the rest of the 21st Century, for better or worse, just as 1900-1914 created the 20th Century. We see in pre-First World War Europe a mirror of ourselves, of a world about to be changed forever by new technologies, of doomed glamour and decadence, and of a hubristic confidence that History Is On Our Side (Fukayama take note). Perhaps we worry that an equivalent apocalypse awaits us, too. Maybe we shouldn’t worry – another Somme, another Verdun – might do us some good.

On a far, far lighter note, I now have a PhD topic, Cyprian being kind enough not to compare me to boiled vegetables of any description. Rather than just doing naval warfare, however, I will be applying my unique brand of analysis to all types of warfare. Now all I have to do is persuade some one that it's worth supervising me on. And get funded for it. Bugger...

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Through A Lens, Darkly

Well, what with the amount of time work takes up, and the mind-meltingly dull nature of it, there's not been a whole lot to report. I have a meeting with Cyprian Broodbank on Tuesday, at which he may tell me that a boiled potato could come up with a better PhD proposal than mine. I hope he doesn't, of course, but it is possible.

Yesterday I expanded the saga of my eyesight by going to Specsavers (who have not paid me for this advertising) for some glasses. Imagine my surprise when their optometrist agreed with the medical folk and said that there is nothing I need glasses for. Apparently I should try blinking more, though (NOTE: This, despite all appearances, is not a joke). I'm still not sure how to feel. Given that there may be something wrong with my eyes that medical science knows nothing of, perhaps a sense of rising panic would be appropriate.

Speaking of medical science, I'll be spending next weekend with Chris the Medic, a Keyser Soze-type figure in my life for the past 18 months - known only from rumour and legend. It's his finals in March, after which he will be unleashed upon the public as a healthcare professional. To think that he once deliberately threw crisps all over my living room...

I recently finished The Long Firm which I rather enjoyed, apart from one slightly unlikely segment. Any London gangster novel which finishes with a critique of 1960s and 70s Sociology is fine by me. I've also just read Rex Warner's The Aerodrome an interesting little book which could make a rather nice British film.

Thats all from me, until I've come up with something else to talk about.

Friday, January 02, 2004

See - Billy Idol Gets It - So Why Doesn't She?

So, we come to the first ever New Year’s entry from me. Expect me to point out all sorts of anniversaries and firsts for the Blog this year, until I get irate e-mails telling me to stop.

Christmas was, of course, spent at home, and a good time was had by all – even if we did somehow manage to forget the rules of Trivial Pursuit. For New Year’s Eve I went to Nottingham (rather than Scotland, where New Year’s Eve had to be cancelled due to the weather. Are they still in 2003?) on the highly eccentric TransPeak bus.

New Year’s was suitably random. For example, we ended up crashing the Games Workshop mail order workers party for about 10 minutes at midnight. Is my memory correct in that only giant Geordie blokes work for GW?

After this, I managed to have another suspiciously cinematic moment. I turned left out of the party and walked down the deserted side street, unable to remember the name of what I was looking for. Then I saw it and it shot straight back into memory. Sherwin Grove. A real Go-Between moment. I went on, then walked alone in the freezing rain back over the bridge to Warwick Street.

Before I sign off, I’ll list the books that are in my bag as I go back to London. See what they say about me at the dawn of 2004.

The Last Crusade: The Palestine Campaign in the First World War by Anthony Bruce
The Long Firm by Jake Arnott
The Berlin Novels by Christopher Isherwood
Killer in the Rain by Raymond Chandler
The Soft Machine by William Burroughs
Film Noir: Reflections in a Dark Mirror by Bruce Crowther
Imperial Adventurer: Emperor Maximilian of Mexico and his Empress by Joan Haslip