Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Back to Usual

Back to the land of Mundania again today; spent most of my day continuing the bedding-in of our new email archiving system. Had lunch with Owen. Other than that, nothing remarkable.

Tomorrow (and for the rest of the week) I’m on a course over in the City; more security stuff, but this time Microsoft-orientated (so I’m not expecting much excitement, as their courses typically all follow the same pattern.) Still, I’m just round the corner from where John W works, so there may be some slightly less geeky company for lunch.

Right now, I’m rebooting an errant server which has been misbehaving since the patching I did at the weekend. Oh, what an exciting life I have…

Monday, May 29, 2006

Some Kind of Obituary

I first met David Schofield when I joined the senior choir at high school. He was in the year above me and my peer group, but he didn’t get on with any of his classmates so took to hanging out with us. For a while we were quite close friends – in fact he was the first person I ever told I was gay. Actually I didn’t so much tell him, as he asked me and, probably as much to my surprise as his, I answered in the affirmative.

I don’t recall him joining the sixth form, so we probably started going our separate ways in the run up to me going to university in ‘87. He visited me in Dundee while I was repping for Saga in the summer of 1993 and I recall having dinner with him and his partner a year or two later, although I can’t remember where or why.

Strangely it wasn’t a big shock when I heard he was in prison on some kind of paedophilia charge; as our group had gotten older, Dave’s friends hadn’t and he was usually hanging out with boys in their mid-teens. This was quite the scandal of our middle-class suburban set although, in that terribly British way of ours, it wasn’t really mentioned if it could be avoided.

When he reappeared after his sentence was complete, I couldn’t ostracise him the way that some people did. I didn’t doubt the verdict, but I still felt compassion for him. No matter what crimes had been committed, there was still an isolated human being there and I suppose I have always felt an urge to support people in trouble.

Anyway, we spoke infrequently over the succeeding years; essentially only exchanging change-of-address correspondence. So it was with a certain curiosity that I received a text message from someone called ‘Pete’ today, mentioning news about Dave. After exchanging a couple of messages it emerged that Pete was one of Dave’s ex-boyfriends – he may even have been the one I had dinner with, but I don’t think so. The messages were somewhat ambiguous and for a while I wondered if it was some bizarre ex-boyfriend revenge ploy, so in the end I called Pete and spoke to him and got the news that Dave had hanged himself in his cell on Friday.

I don’t know why he was back in prison, or any details of why he may have committed suicide – it was a painfully awkward conversation as it was – but from the way Pete phrased it I assumed he was At Her Majesty’s Pleasure for the same reason as the first time. When I knew him well Dave didn’t seem to have a suicidal or depressive personality, so I wonder what lead him down that path. The possible answers to that question seemed even sadder than the news of his death. I likely will never know for sure.

I don’t know enough about the subject of paedophilia to say whether it emerges because of ‘nature or nurture’, so I don’t know whether I need a priest or a psychologist to explain the ‘why’ of Dave’s death. I do know that I hope he is at peace now and that, if there is a god, he is a forgiving one.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Three-day Précis

It’s a Bank Holiday weekend, so although it’s Sunday there’s still another day off to come. I spent half of today working though, patching servers. Mostly did that from home and only had to be physically present for a couple of the London machines.

Friday evening, Andy took Rosie back to their place in Battersea. Yesterday, mum relocated too, leaving us on our own for the first time in a week. I liked the peace and privacy, Brett (who comes from a large family) missed the company.

Last night we went to see the recently released third X-Men movie. It was actually rather good; not the formulaic plot that action movie sequels frequently offer. There was a strange edit halfway through though, where you went from mid-afternoon to night time seemingly in the blink of an eye. I wonder what scene(s) they cut out at the last minute that resulted in that continuity cock-up…

Today we had lunch over at Rosie’s with her and the parents (Andy is away on tour now and my dad arrived this morning) before I headed into the office with Brett to spend an hour finishing off the server patching. We considered a trip out this evening to see The DaVinci Code movie, but nothing came of it; it’s a long movie which hasn’t gotten great reviews and, to be honest, I’m rather put off by all the hype – the book wasn’t really that good.

Brett is off to Scandinavia again tomorrow for the week, so I may yet end up seeing the film as a way of spending time with the family; Rosie is not yet so recovered that she is terribly mobile or active, but she reckons a careful (avoiding pot-holes and sharp braking) drive to the cinema and a VIP seat should be doable.

Anything, so long as it doesn’t involve watching more Big Brother!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Herding Sheep!

I had a rather irritating experience with a group of Japanese tourists on the way to work this morning. As I approach Lambeth Palace, I switch from the road to riding along The Embankment as it cuts out a busy junction and is a lot flatter. The Embankment isn’t usually too busy until you get close to County Hall and The London Eye, where the tourists tend to congregate, and I’ve become quite expert at riding slowly and dodging around them until I can turn back onto the road by the Eye.

This morning though, almost as soon as I turned off the road, I came upon a coach-load of Japanese tourists milling about, taking photographs of each other and Westminster and generally ambling along the river towards Waterloo, completely blocking the path.

I rang my bell some.

I rang my bell some more.

I called out to them.

It was as if I didn’t exist.

Even with my front wheel six inches behind them, my bell ringing and me calling out ‘excuse me!’ nobody looked my way or even turned around to see what the noise was, let alone made way for me to get through. It was a surreal experience of invisibility that was also extremely annoying. It wasn’t just me either; another cyclist got caught up in the group and received no more response than I had.

I tried to be charitable about the whole thing, assuming that they had just finished a long overnight coach or plane journey and were zonked with jetlag – but even so, jetlag doesn’t make you deaf, so my charity didn’t last until I finally managed to get past them.

So: not impressed with the Japanese today.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Animal Farm?

So where are we at?

It’s Day Four in big brother’s house and most of the housemates are still in the lounge watching TV. Andy is off to Battersea to get ready for work.

Mum has been great; shopping, cooking and washing for everyone. Apparently dad is coming down at the weekend, but Andy will be away with work so it won’t make it any more crowded than it already is. When all is said and done, though, Rosie is looking a lot better which is what it’s all about.

In other news, the real Big Brother has come to our office, or so it seems. This week we’ve had the CCTV system upgraded so that it’s now available over the network (to those animals who are more equal than others) and I’ve just tested it out from home – if I want to, I can view the cameras from my sofa at home. Freaky!

We are also installing an email archiving system that will be keeping a copy of every single email that is sent or received by the staff in our company. It’s a huge amount of storage to manage but as well as legal compliance, it will help a lot in future on a day-to-day basis as people are always deleting important emails that they need back.

That said, work is busy at the moment and I’m glad and tired when each day ends

Brett has formally accepted the offer of redundancy, so it’s official now. He is still waiting to hear the exact finish date, although we think it’s going to be the end of June, when his current project finishes. I think the plan now is to see if any jobs are available with his current skill set. If nothing has come up by September (which is when we are currently committed to with Chorus events) then we’ll review the situation some and may try a few more radical options.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


I got a bit of a peek into my own psyche yesterday: I am a commitment-phobe.

Brett and I spent several hours discussing ideas for what to do after he’s been made redundant. I’ve been feeling increasingly itchy feet this last year or so and I proposed that we just go walkabout around the world. I think it would do both of us good to get out of the rat race for a while and expand our horizons.

The more we talked and the more I thought on this idea, the more attractive it became and at the same time it kind of crystallised why I haven’t really been gung-ho for buying a house; besides the practical problems of not having the necessary savings (which Brett’s redundancy money could possibly solve) at the back of my mind has been lurking the fear of being tied-down. I know it’s a largely irrational fear, but committing to buying a house in London would commit us both to paying a sizable mortgage for the rest of our working lives. Already I feel that we are living to work, rather than working to live and signing a mortgage would take away even the theoretical possibility that we could pack up and head off into the sunset on a whim.

And that’s what I want to be able to do.

I understand all of the long-term-investment arguments about getting onto the property ladder as soon as possible (although in so many ways I see it as a chain gang rather than a ladder!) but I would rather experience the world today, with Brett at my side and then be able to reminisce about it in a pokey little flat when we retire, than spend our lives on a treadmill preparing for the increasingly uncertain world that old-age is becoming, hoping we’ll have the health, means and opportunity to do it all then.

[By coincidence, in the Travel section of the paper yesterday I came across an advert for www.gapyearforgrownups.co.uk; a travel company which provides a good combination of holiday-style sightseeing, with periods of the kind of cultural immersion that I think would be an ideal way to explore the world.]

The fear-of-commitment idea also ties-in with why I’ve never felt it’s the right moment to propose to Brett. I don’t feel able to promise to do anything for ever. The future, as I think Shakespeare said, is an undiscovered country and the further you try to look into the future, the more possible outcomes there are and so the more obscure the view. I can promise that I want to love Brett forever and spend the rest of my life with him, but I can’t promise that I will do those things, because I don’t know what life is going to throw at me/us within that span of time. For all that divorce is relatively easy these days, if I’m going to take a solemn oath, I want to be certain I mean what I say.

So there you go; a man who wants to live day-to-day and not make any long-term commitments. Living in fear of my own inadequacy? Cynical? Pragmatic? For all my stiff-upper-lipped self-reliance, there are times when I think it might not be a bad thing to have an hour chatting to a psychologist about my hopes and fears.

And in the meantime, can I persuade Brett that he wants to move out of suburban comfort to face the challenge of improving the lot of street children in Latin America and helping protect Malaysian Orang-utans with his tree-hugging hippy of a partner?

Day One in big brother's house

Doh! Ofcourse, as soon as Rosie gets released from hospital, she sets herself up on the sofa, takes possession of the remote control and starts ordering food and drink. Either I abandon the lounge, or I have to watch endless TV. Tonight it was Dr Who Confidential followed by a DVD of Madagascar and then last night’s Big Brother.

Mother showed up a little after six just as Brett was heading off for the Side By Side by Sondheim show. I was supposed to be going too, but after driving around London all day and having been out yesterday night too, I wasn’t really feeling up for it, so Brett went on his own while I stayed home and hosted the guests.

Wasn’t feeling desperately sociable to be honest, but I think I got away with it.

The Chorus has an EGM coming up to change the structure of the management committee and I’ve volunteered to update the Election Procedures in anticipation of a positive result. Haven’t done anything yet and I need to get a move on as the AGM will be following hot on the EGM’s heels. Bah.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

The Sword of Damocles

Well, Rosie was in hospital still on Friday. They had put her back on a full-face oxygen mask because her O2 saturation wouldn’t sustain itself; after she came out of surgery she was periodically coughing up blood and the hospital surmised that her trachea had been damaged by the insertion of the airway for the op. When it didn’t stop after a day, they thought it was a chest infection.

When we saw her today, she was off the oxygen and waiting for a chest x-ray… and they were keeping her in for yet another night. My mum is beginning to panic a bit and is coming down to stay with us from tomorrow. Previously she was talking about driving Rosie back to St. Helens to recuperate, so I had to talk her down from that a bit! Now she is just coming to be the nurse.

After we got back from the hospital we spent a while contemplating Brett’s redundancy offer. It amounts to pretty much half his annual salary as a pay-off and it gives him lots of options for what to do now. So now we are trying to organise those options to see which combination does the most for us in the future. It’s not easy to see the best path though; between the number of possibilities and the number of constraints it’s going to take a while for us to settle them down. Watch this space.

This evening we headed down to the Wimbledon Theatre for the final night of The Rocky Horror Show. We were in the 10% of the audience who hadn’t come in costume but we still had lots of fun. There were plenty of Franks, Riff-Raffs and Magentas and there was even a (very out-of-shape) Rocky in a gold lamé loincloth. The Rocky on stage, however, was very much the part; thoroughly pumped and defined and cute as a button. He had a good voice too as did Janet, although she was somewhat let down by the audio system which kept making her sound tinny. Unfortunately Frank was played by a very mis-cast David Bedella (the guy who played the warm-up guy and the Devil in Jerry Springer, The Opera) whose voice was too deep and whose performance simply lacked the camp panache that the roll demands. Still, it was an entertaining evening and we had a good singalong… although I was worried for a while that the balcony may collapse during The Time Warp, as it was definitely moving to the beat!

We were supposed to be going to Nick S’s birthday party in Soho after the theatre, but the show finished so late (22:45) that we decided to skip it and wish him happy birthday on Monday instead.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Interesting Times

There is a saying, called a curse by some, May you live in interesting times.”

I look forward to the ‘Interesting Times.’ Without something to stir it up, life can stagnate and become dull – and what is the point of life if you are just killing time until you die? So it is with a sense of seeking the silver-linings that I fill you in on the happenings of my week so far.

You have probably already read about Rosie being taken into hospital. I visited her at lunchtime and, although she looked pretty worn, she was generally in good condition for having been under the knife fifteen hours previously. She was sitting up and eating okay and seemed to perk up for having some company. The hospital wanted to keep her in for another night’s observation though – which to be honest I think is a good idea, as it’s probably going to be a minor trauma in its own right driving her home unless she is thoroughly stoked on analgesics.

I am not sure how she is feeling in her mind though; she didn’t have much time to get used to being pregnant before having to accept the fact that the pregnancy couldn’t happen, but I know that both her and Andy want children and I hope that this isn’t all too big a psychological blow to them.

The silver lining to all this? Well, sitting at home last night, waiting for a message to say she was out of theatre and all was well, reminded me of how important my sister is to me. Those who know me or have been reading this blog for a while will know that I don’t believe in ‘family’ for family’s sake (I have little in common with many of my blood-relations and we aren’t really close) but my parents, Rosie and I are close and it would be a subtle and insidious torment should something happen to any of them. It is good to be reminded of what your loved ones mean to you from time to time.

Another event in the mix is Brett’s job. Recently his company announced they were making serious cutbacks in their European operation and asked for voluntary redundancies. There have also been fairly strong rumours of his division being sold off. Brett put in a speculative enquiry about the redundancy package and heard today that he was being made an offer. He is to expect a letter from the company this weekend with details.

There has been a certain amount of vagueness in the information the company has offered to date, but we are expecting offer of a fairly decent lump sum and several months’ wages. So this weekend we have to sit down, consider the amount(s) on offer and decide what to do; whether Brett should take the redundancy and if he does which way to go from there. (Training to acquire more saleable skills? House deposit? Trip around the world?)

Dinner with Chris C on Tuesday also had an effect on me. It was a little bit of a last-minute arrangement, but in the end we had a mouth-watering meal in what must be the last restaurant in the village that I hadn’t yet tried. For once we both forwent the wine and had a more lucid conversation for it. I never realised before how he admired me for pushing the envelope when I was younger, while I have always admired him for his drive to achieve. It was Chris who, over fresh crab and Beef Wellington, reminded me, as only a good friend can, that it’s the Interesting Times that make life, well, interesting.

We should seek them out, not fear them.

Waiting Over

Andy messaged me just before midnight to say that Rosie was in the recovery room and that the surgery had gone well.

Now we just keep out fingers crossed and hope she doesn’t get a secondary infection while she’s healing. Rich C’s scare last year brought home to me that completing the actual operation doesn’t necessarily mean you are home and dry!

Rosie’s coming to stay with us for a week or so while she recuperates, as Andy is contracted to a concert. I’ve already set Tivo to grab every episode going of Charmed, Alias and Buffy...

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Well, it’s turning out to be quite a week. On Monday my sister found out she was pregnant. Today, she had a scan, discovered the pregnancy was ectopic and tonight she is in surgery. I am sitting here waiting for Andy to call from the hospital to say she is back on the ward.

I am not exactly nervous, but I will certainly be more relaxed when I get the call.

Watch This Space

OK, so it’s late again and I don’t really have time to blog. So here’s a quick summary of the last two days to keep you going until tomorrow, when I should have time to expand it into many more inches of mindless drivel.

Had unexpected lunch with my sister yesterday and dinner with Chris C this evening. Both were particularly thought provoking in their own way.

Chorus last night was tedious but we got some good work done.

Tomorrow I’m off to Reading to meet Microsoft.

Monday, May 15, 2006


Today I am requested to correct to an earlier post; a correction insisted upon by my loving partner Brett. Apparently luck played no part in his winning of Monopoly on Saturday. His success, he maintains, was based entirely on his skills and no luck was involved.

And so, my dear reader, it is with a heavy heart that I must publish the fact that I appear to live with a dastardly cheat. (For how else, unless the dice were fixed, could luck play no part?)

Mourn with me, friend, the loss of my innocence.

I think I may weep some.


Sunday, May 14, 2006

Saturday's Games

Well the games day went well. Brett and I spent the morning clearing up the flat to make it a bit presentable and people showed up around three. Rod, Rosie & Andy, Ping and Mark & Chris all came along and over the course of six hours we got through a game of Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit and a couple of games of Cluedo, oh, and shed-load of food and drink. It was all pretty amiable (although Brett got decidedly lucky at Monopoly and so there were certain alliances formed…) and fun. It was a good idea to have it start in the afternoon, as there was plenty of time to do as much as everyone wanted and no worries about getting home afterwards.

We hadn’t seen Rod, Mark or Chris for sometime. Mark and Chris aren’t singing with the Chorus this season because Chris is travelling a lot with work and Mark is trying to find his next role. (He works for the Foreign Office, so he moves jobs every few years and his next one could well be overseas.) Rod we just haven’t seen I think since we had dinner in March, so there was some catching up to do. With the recent Cabinet reshuffle, Jess’ workload has gone through the roof and, despite only officially working three days a week, she is putting in seven-day weeks at the moment, so she didn’t join us today. However they are starting riding lessons at the Wimbledon Stables, so we will likely be seeing them more often as they will be around the Village for lunch on Saturdays.

Brett cooked us a lovely breakfast in bed this morning and then we spent a couple of hours on the sofa watching the Musicality marathon on More4 last night.

In amongst all that, I’ve been enjoying a minor tizz on one of the American blogs about the National Security Agency’s programme of bulk downloading everyone’s phone bills into a giant database to look for patterns leading to terrorists. While most of the current argument is about privacy (or rather the invasion of), it is, in my opinion another example of a disturbing trend in the Bush administration; claiming to be above the law in any matter related to National Security. I’d say that’s only a point-of-view away from being a police state.

On a lighter note, though, the issue has provided plenty of humour, especially as today is Mothering Sunday in the States. Hence:

“The NSA would like to remind everyone to call their mothers this Sunday. They need to calibrate their system.” (from Bruce Schneier),

“The NSA offers exciting and interesting work for recent college graduates in mathematics and computer science. Pick up the phone, call your mom, and ask for an application.” (a comment on the above), and an amusing take on the AT&T logo and slogan here, from BoingBoing.

Speaking of which, I need to call my parents who are having yet more difficulty with their email…

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Another Summery Day

I think I might have overdone the cycling a little this week. It saved me a pile of money on rush-hour trains, but it’s left me worn-out. Still, at least now I’m getting more exercise and I know the pain will pass as I get back into condition.

Work has been uneventful, other than lots of planning talk about the projects we have on the go. I suppose that’s exciting in its own right, but nothing my readers are going to get to be riveted to.

Tonight after work Brett and I went up to the National Portrait Gallery for a show. They were celebrating their 150th anniversary and had got a group of choirs in to do a kind of performance-art by singing in and wandering through the galleries. One of the choirs was the Chorus’ own Small Group. It was interesting to hear the other choirs too. I particularly liked Velvet Fist and Take Twenty.

On the way home I read an interview with Stephen Sondheim in Time Out. Apparently the small production of Sunday In The Park With George that we saw a while back is transferring to the West End it’s so popular. Back home we both ate, watched West Wing and then I commented on more political mud-slinging in the US. Then off to bed.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Let's Fight ALL Terrorists!

On a political note; since we are now inescapably embroiled in The Global War on Terror, can’t we put it to better use than invading oil-rich Arab countries? These animal rights fanatics are just as much terrorists as Osama’s mob.

I feel a very sadistic, yet strangely compelling, desire to create Guantanamo Bay (UK) Ltd where we can use members of ‘Campaign Against Huntingdon Life Sciences’ for testing new drugs before they are trialled on humans. I’m sure that’s what they’d want anyway if it meant letting the animals go free!


Okay, so there wasn’t any hospitalisation today; maybe tomorrow. The ride to and from work was fine – albeit a continuous push against a reasonable headwind on the return. There was one minor involuntary vertical-axis realignment this morning, but it was embarrassing more than damaging and it served to remind me that I will need to unlearn some previously instinctive behaviours. For instance; you can’t walk your bike backwards if one of your feet is still attached to it.

The day at work was a long one; I’d gone in early to oversee the install of six new printers and, as expected there were teething-troubles to resolve. We also had a temp starting with us who needed tasking. My boss was off sick, so I had to pick up a couple of meetings for him. After all that I was glad to come home.

Brett had cooked dinner and timed it perfectly for my arrival; as soon as I was out of the shower, I was tucking into a tasty meal. After that, though, we just lazed the night away. Hardly surprising though as I feel thoroughly weary. Hopefully the remaining two days of the week will be easier.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Step Away From The Muffin!

My body mass indicator says I am officially overweight. Another couple of decimals and I’d be obese. That was a bit of a surprise really; I knew I was carrying some extra weight around my stomach, but it didn’t (and indeed doesn’t!) look that bad. So there’s a bit of extra commitment to my resolution to be less of a fair-weather cyclist.

Apart from that the health-check I had this afternoon indicated I was generally in fine shape, so I’m feeling fairly good.

Today (independent of the health-check) I bought a new pair of cycling shoes and a new pair of pedals for my bike. The old pair of trainers I’ve been wearing whilst riding for the last three years are pretty much falling apart now and I’ve been thinking of getting cleats for a while. Being physically connected to the bike means you get more efficient pedalling; you can get energy from pulling your leg up as well as pushing down and your feet can’t slip off.

The new system does take some getting used to though so, after fitting all the bits when I got home, I spent half an hour just riding up and down the street practising clipping my feet in and out of the pedals to make sure I’ve got the hang of it. (Watch this space for news of my hospitalisation during the commute tomorrow morning!)

Work has rather been taken over by the preparation for new printers. We are replacing all the printers in the London Office this week (starting tomorrow actually) but when I arranged the date I overlooked the fact that one of the Helpdesk guys was on a training course, hence we’re rather short-staffed and I’ve had to do a lot of the preparation work myself. Grrr.

I also need to get on the phone to a couple of other travel agents tomorrow to compare itineraries and prices for Egypt. We had invited a variety of friends along on the trip but so far Ping is the only one who can make it – I guess he does have a lot of time on his hands – but it’s a shame as it’s going to be such a fantastic experience and I’d love to share that kind of thing with friends; I’ve done so much travelling alone in my life, I suppose now I’m trying to make up for it! Ah, well.

Finally, on a lighter note, my thanks once again to Gay-Dad for pointing me in the direction of some entertainment. Betty Bowers styles herself as America’s Best Christian’ on her satirical website and she has done a delightful review of the new Da Vinci Code movie. It’s sufficiently tongue-in-cheek that even Republicans and Catholics (who both get a bit of a bashing) should enjoy it.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Save The Internet

I was awake fairly early today and spent a while composing ‘The God Slot’ post before dozing off again. At 11 we were off down to South Wimbledon for a very pleasant brunch with John M. Ginger and Rhubarb muffins could become my new favourite!

After brunch we did some shopping and then headed home. Not much got done this afternoon; I filled in a lengthy form for a health assessment on Tuesday and did some more brochure-research in preparation for booking our Egypt trip. There was also a certain amount of blog-surfing done. I poked one of my favourite conservative ranters a bit but didn’t really make much of a point. I also popped back to Wil Wheaton’s blog and found a couple of interesting links; first this one about a guy tracking his flight over the Atlantic by checking out his Internet routing (probably of geek interest only) and then this one, of more general interest, about maintaining a level playing field for all Internet users. You may notice I’ve added a ‘Save the Net’ button to my sidebar. Click on it to read about what’s happening and sign the petition if you live in America or Canada.

The God Slot

BBC Radio Four comes on in our bedroom every morning at six-thirty. It’s a slightly softer way of waking up than the alarm which goes off at seven on weekdays. This morning, it being Sunday I suppose, there was a lot of religious talk and I was lying there amazed as I heard some of the stories.

The first was one I’d come across yesterday on the BBC News site; the Anglican Church were worried that the front runner for election as bishop in a California diocese was a lesbian, living with her partner. Three of the seven names on the ballot were gay or lesbian and the fear was that if one of them were elected it would finally bring about the split that the church has been worried about for some time now. In the end the issue was avoided because they elected a heterosexual bishop.

Avoiding the problem at this point doesn’t make the larger issue go away though. If, as the former article states, “Anglicans are so deeply and bitterly divided over homosexuality that even their famously broad church may now buckle under the strain of maintaining the pretence of unity,” then I have a feeling there is going to be some serious blood-letting in the Christian faith before it is resolved in any way.

So while the Anglicans are worrying about how high gay priests can rise, the Catholic Church, who have already published their firmly unclear point of view, are worrying about a political schism with China over the appointment of bishops. Excuse me but, if my sometimes vague recollections of ‘O’ Level history serves me well, the argument about the right of Rome to appoint bishops has been going on since the Catholic Church was founded. Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it! The Chinese either have to jump one way and make up with Rome, or jump the other way and create yet another Christian church. (Well, it worked for Henry VIII…)

Finally, just to remind ourselves that human pettiness in religious affairs is not exclusively a Christian preserve; try this article from the Washington Post about an ultra-devout sect of Hasidic Jews who have been literally brawling in the Synagogue over who should be their next leader!

Love thy neighbour? Honour thy father and thy mother? Clearly not.

On a slightly more upbeat note though, in amongst all this debasing of religious principles, I did find a rather nice prayer on the top of a post by the Erudite Redneck which I think is worthy of a mention.

[BTW, in case you were wondering about the title, see here for an explanation.]

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Schizophrenic Pharaonophile

I can be quite schizophrenic at times. Today was one of those times. Alongside the usual domestrivia, there were only two notable things we did.

Firstly we spent an hour or so looking at our finances, seeking out ways to cut expenditure and increase savings so that we have half a hope of being able to buy a house of our own in twelve months’ time.

Then we went down to town and picked up a selection of holiday brochures so we can plan a fortnight's holiday to Egypt at the start of next year.

Contradictory aims don’t you think: Foreign holidays and saving money? Ah, but then consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative and, if nothing else, I have a good imagination.

Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Egypt is one of the countries that I’ve had on my wish-list for a long time; I’ve always been interested in its ancient history and monuments, but I never got to go there when I was guiding tours, so I want to do this holiday properly. Not being some rushed tourist taking a quick snap of a pyramid, a sphinx and a temple so I can tick them off a list before hurrying back to the coach, rather I want to have some time to linger and soak things up a little. We’re aiming for several nights in both Cairo and Luxor to do some independent sight-seeing as well as an unhurried seven-night cruise down the Nile exploring four thousand years of history.

Peru could have been on the agenda instead, as one of my other must-do experiences, but Brett was keen on Egypt and realistically exploring Peru would be a much bigger deal both financially and in terms of time than we can afford in the next year or so. So it’s the Land of the Pharaohs.

I haven’t been as excited as this in a while.

Just leafing through the brochures, looking for the best itinerary, with flexible hotel-stays in the right places and the right flights, all gave me a sense of adventure I’ve been missing for a while. Maybe it’s my mid-life crisis finally kicking-in, but I really fancy doing this again. Maybe time for a career change; maybe I should head out on the road again.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Talking About The Weather

So today felt like summer. Clear skies, the temperature was a lazy 25°C this afternoon (that’s 77°F for the metrically-challenged amongst you) and you could smell the greenery.

Naturally I spent the entire day indoors at a desk. The ride to and from was nice though and, for what it’s worth, the day was very productive – even if I did make a stupid mistake just before I left which will cost me two hours work tomorrow!

Finally got around to booking up our break in Turin this autumn.

Bah. No inspiration tonight either.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Life of a Drone

Went to work; it was okay.

Came home afterwards; didn’t do much.

I was tired after last night; went to bed early.

Let’s hear it for living life to the max!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

No Time To Spare

A bit of a busy day at work as two of the support team were on holiday, leaving only two people in the office. That said, it was a fairly productive day, although I think Gaetan was run a bit ragged by 5pm.

This evening has mostly been spent recording my piece to camera for the Video Nation video diary I’m doing. It’s amazing how it can take a couple of hours to get a three minute talking-head to say what you want it to say… Hopefully the end result will be worth it though!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Beware Short-Sightedness

While I wasn’t watching the snooker though, I did browse my first newspaper in a while and found an interesting article about the imminent introduction of legislation banning discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. It’s something the gay community has been pushing-for for years, but are we really ready to welcome straight couples into bars and clubs that used to be ‘gay’?

And speaking of shallow thinking and hypocrisy, my thanks to Gay Dad for forwarding me this link which I found both stomach-churning and fascinating at the same time. It’s a religious programme designed to “give you the tools to defend your faith.” It’s fronted by a couple of guys whose vacuous presenting style makes Play School look like it’s presented by razor-sharp intellectuals. They compare the design of a can of Pepsi with the features of a banana, even pointing out how well a banana fits into a human hand and points towards the mouth, as evidence that it must have been designed for us to eat. Ergo: God. I wish I could find those guys and show them this article about the dangers of evidence which appears to fit a theory so closely. Come to that I’m sure we could also have a fascinating chat about fossil records and the evolution of the human eye

A day in Mundania

A slightly frustrating day today as there was lots of stuff I could usefully have been doing, but that was all pre-empted by familial duty.

Mum and Dad had come down for the long weekend to see our show on Saturday and to help Rowan with some DIY around the house. Brett and I had taken yesterday to recover but today I felt I really ought to spend some time with them. Rowan was also keen for me to take over the hostly duties as I think she was getting worn-out with all the home improvements interfering with her sedentary lifestyle.

In the end, all we ended up doing was going into Piccadilly to look for a particular range of Green & Black’s dark chocolate which my dad had seen mentioned as ‘particularly good’ by a chef in a Sunday Supplement. On my way to Battersea, I’d popped into the big Sainsbury’s Savacentre to see if I could find it, but they didn’t stock it. (I’m pretty sure they had ever other flavour and cocoa percentage that G&B offer though!) So we drove up to Waterloo and hopped a Tube to Piccadilly Circus and then strolled down to Fortnum & Mason, who didn’t stock it either. Nor did the Maison du Chocolat, across the road. In the end we gave up and went back to Rosie's with a couple of gifts (one from each shop) for people back home. (I managed to resist the strong urge to buy confectionery at both places!)

Back at Rosie’s the parents cooked a tasty dinner for us all before my dad settled down to watch the Snooker ‘World’ Championship Final. Not a real favourite sport of mine and the World Championship seems to be a bit like the US Baseball World Series; there are occasional token entries from other countries, but you know that the winner and most of the real contenders will be from the host nation because nobody else really cares.