Saturday, September 30, 2006

Up to Easedale Tarn

We’ve been very lucky with the weather today; mild and sunny all day, whereas it was raining most of the day yesterday and the forecast is for more rain tomorrow. Perfect timing!

As ever I was not enamoured of the early start, but once breakfast had worked its magic on me we got underway to meet the rest of the group at Colin’s place. For once there was very little discussion of where to go; Thos simply said, “Let’s go up to Easedale Tarn from Grasemere,” and that’s what we did.

As ever, the scenery was beautiful en route. We’re a little early for the autumn colours, but the morning was hazy in the distance while seeming quite crisp and clear closer-to; the rugged scenery given an extra-vivid texture by the low morning sunlight.

It was a fairly easy walk (good for Thos, who is recovering from heart surgery) without any especially steep climbs. The recent heavy rain meant that the stream draining from the tarn was full and rapid and made several scenic waterfalls on the way down.

We made it to the banks of the tarn by about 12:45 and had lunch on a hillock overlooking the placid, albeit very dark, waters. A solitary seagull was coaching its chick in the art of swooping and landing while we ate and it made quite a contrast against the charcoal-coloured tarn. After lunch we separated into two groups; the ‘A’ group carried on towards yet higher ground with a view to circling around and descending closer to Grasmere. The ‘B’ group (Mum, Brett & I) retraced our steps down from the tarn to the village, enjoying the view all the way. After dumping our rucksacks and boots we had a wander around the village and eventually settled in a hotel lounge for coffee and the weekend papers while we waited for the ‘A’ group to return.

Back at the B&B now, about to get showered and go to dinner. Part of the tradition is a good dinner on Saturday night after the walk and this time we are trying a new restaurant (the old one having steadily slipped in our estimation over the last several visits.)

EDIT: Photos here and here.

Friday, September 29, 2006

From The Passenger Seat

Note to self: Don't put Avenue Q on the stereo while Brett is driving. He dances! In the driving seat!!
OMG I'm going to die.

A 'Lost' Cause

So we’re off to the Lake District again tomorrow; it’s our bi-annual visit/walking holiday with the parents and a group of their friends but the forecast is for heavy rain in the area. I think we may get there and then chicken out… Although next time I hope to encourage some of our friends to come along too, which will make it all the more sociable regardless of if we trek or not.

Having spent the entire evening watching TV again tonight, I’m feeling especially guilty about wasting my life, so I should try and get up the mountain regardless of the weather.

Typically, having written my bit yesterday about how everyone is going to lose interest in Lost because of the lack of narrative closure, Brett told me tonight that he couldn’t get to sleep last night for thinking about the new scenarios the last episode had opened up…

He is a totally lost cause.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Lack of Closure

Last night Brett and I watched the last two episodes of the second season of Lost. As expected there were no answers that weren’t just more questions. Our interest in what happens next and why didn’t extend past the closing credits. I suspect that that is something that Lost will struggle with as time goes on; there is no closure, no real explanation. In a TV show, that makes for a dissatisfying experience and will ultimately put people off.

If you want answers, you may as well skip the next few series and just watch the final one – which begs the question, if no-one’s watches the next few series except the diehard fans, will they actually get to make a final series?? Since it’s all fictional, it doesn’t really matter what ‘the answers’ are anyway. As a TV show, it’s not especially profound and nor is it especially entertaining it’s just hour after hour of televised procrastination. Let’s just not bother!

On the subject of lack of closure; my eye was caught by a headline in one the free evening newspapers that are now being thrust at you on every street corner. The headline was to the effect of “Jumbo Jet dives towards central London!” and reported an incident with an El Al 747 in January this year. The article in the paper was actually pretty poorly written and could easily have been a cut-and-paste job from an AAIB press release. The essence of the incident was that the plane was approaching Heathrow over London and the autopilot appeared to receive bad information from the ground-based guidance system which caused it to descend far more steeply than it needed to. Left unchecked the autopilot would have flown the plane into the ground somewhere in central/south London but the crew realised the behaviour was abnormal and disengaged the autopilot, eventually performing a manual landing. No fault was found with the ground-based systems, nor with the systems on the plane, so no real conclusion could be drawn from the incident.

At a risk of pulling conspiracy theories out of thin air, I was reminded of a novel I once read about someone who manages to interfere with ground-based navigational systems used by commercial jetliners and then holds the airlines to ransom by threatening to crash planes. It’s hardly a big conceptual leap from that to just crashing the planes without bothering with the ransom; it certainly saves you the trouble of getting groups of suitably-equipped hijackers past current airport security if you can get the autopilot to do your dirty work instead.

It seems to be a one-off incident, but the fact that no fault was found with the ILS on the ground and nothing conclusive was found in the plane’s systems makes you wonder at what could have been the cause…

The AAIB report is available here if you’re interested in reading the full thing (only three pages.)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A Late Night Political Aside

Reading this article on CNN* I noticed a quote of President Bush saying “This government is going to do whatever it takes to protect this homeland.”

Now, I know it’s a bit of a stretch, but the first time I heard of the then newly-created Department of Homeland Security, the name resonated in my head and brought up images of the Nazi’s use of the term ‘Fatherland.’ Now don’t get me wrong! I am not trying here to compare the Bush Administration with the Nazis, but I am concerned about the imagery that both terms evoke and how they infuence public opinion. The term ‘homeland’ has been creeping more and more into Bush’s rhetoric over the last few years, presumably in the hope that it inspires some deeper identification and attachment with their nation in US citizens (although god knows they’ve got enough of that already!)

Already American civil liberties, in the form of personal privacy protections, are being nibbled away in the name of Homeland Security. The great sense of national identity and unity that ballooned out of the World Trade Centre attacks is being developed by Bush’s use of such emotionally loaded terms into a strong sense of nationalism. Both of these principles are key features of a fascist regime and, whether it be intentional or not, that is the way I fear America is heading.

Go visit the States now because, in a few years, you may not want to risk it!

* I don’t often delve into the dubious depths of CNN, but in this case the BBC site didn’t have a link to the full declassified text of the National Intelligence Estimate so I had to look further afield.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Say, Wouldn't You Like To Know What's Going On In My Mind?

As ever, the weekend was way too short; there was so much more ‘nothing’ waiting to be done, if only I’d had the time. Hmm.

So far the week hasn’t proved spectacular; Monday was the usual drive to get pro-active things done against a tide of reactive demands being made on my time. The Chorus rehearsal in the evening was enjoyable; we had a session of the new vocal coaching workshop before launching into learning those two old Christmas favourites, Hey Big Spender and Come Fly With Me. (I have since discovered that they are the ‘swinging’ bit of our ‘Swinging Christmas’ repertoire which, it also turns out, has nothing to do with putting everyone’s car keys in a bowl at the Christmas Party... Doh!)

Crouch End Johnny and Rich C were all excited about having put in an offer on a house in Bexley. So long as John can sell his existing flat quickly all should be well and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the dog-eat-dog London property market is kind to them.

Despite an enjoyable afternoon ‘area-surfing’ on Sunday, I fear our own house-buying activities are all pretty academic until Brett finds himself another job. He wants to work for himself but needs to build both the skills and the client-base for that before it can become his main income and I doubt that he can do enough of that on just the (roughly) three months’ worth of money he has left in the bank. Another job is needed as a stop-gap while he builds up the resources to work for himself and, ideally, that job is needed sooner rather than later!

Today at work was a bit more interesting; trying to organise a video conference over the Internet with some potential clients in India and then onto a site visit to another company’s offices to have a look at some enterprise-class voice-over-IP technologies and also a little bit more time to play with the new tech that we are going to be implementing shortly.

Oh, yes, and then there was The Banana Protector. Check out this entry on my photoblog for something that kept us amused for a disproportionate amount of time!

Sunday, September 24, 2006


Apparently the war in Iraq is increasing the threat of terrorism and helping fuel Islamic radicalism worldwide.

Apparently the world is not actually a safer place because of the Global War on Terror.

Apparently this knowledge is still news in America, not to mention 'Classified' news!

Walk The Dog

Not much to show for the weekend really. Saturday I spent on the sofa either watching TV or surfing. Rosie came over for the day and ended up spending the night in the spare room. Brett had dinner with his US blogger-buddy, Chris, and got a last minute ticket to see We Will Rock You with him. Rosie and I stayed home, ate Indian and watched The Godfather on DVD.

Today was a late start, but we headed into town for lunch and then did some driving around southeast London looking at cheap neighbourhoods where we might want to live; ranging from Crystal Palace to Lewisham to Peckham, Herne Hill and home via Streatham. So far the only place that looked a bit too run-down was Peckham – and even that I would consider if it was cheap enough. We shall see.

This evening we were meeting Ping for dinner and a movie. In the end the film schedules meant we did the movie first and ate afterwards. Children of Men is well-made, if a little slow-moving, but it’s quite an engrossing movie; sadly believable on a number of fronts.

Over dinner we did some good catching up with Ping. He was been to Paris since we got back from Turin and seems to be getting along well with a man he knows there – so much so that he’s coming along on Ping’s birthday trip next month. That should be interesting, albeit potentially intimidating for the beau. That said, it sounds like the atmosphere at the place could be pretty mellow, so maybe we’ll be too relaxed to interrogate him much.

There was also a certain amount of discussion about sex fetishes and kinks over dinner and I must admit that Brett and I messed with his head rather shamelessly. Ping is so sweet when he blushes!

Who I Might Have Been

Today I have a blog recommendation for you. Flight Level 390 was recommended to me by Chris C (the fireman, not the brother-in-law) and it gave me real bout of nostalgic longing. If my life had been a little bit different some twenty years ago, I could very well have been writing that blog instead of this one today.

It’s one of those impossible to answer “what if’s” but nevertheless I love reading his occasional postings and, if nothing else in the blog touches you the way it touches me, at least he gets some damn fine pictures from that seat at the front. Enjoy.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Another Night In With The Boys

Well, after a bit of a late, drunken night out last night for Rob’s farewell, I was in extra early this morning to oversee an upgrade to our firewall. Fortunately all went smoothly and what drama there was was over by 8:15. The rest of the morning was productive; steaming ahead with fleshing-out the masterplan for data storage in our company for the next few years (essentially it boils down to: dump oodles of terabytes at a few strategic locations and replicate everything everywhere, but as ever the devil is in the detail…!)

After lunch though, possibly because of the very early start, I completely ran out of steam and the afternoon dragged interminably. I got very little of use done but eventually occupied myself in doing some necessary advance planning for a weekend of work we need to schedule in the next month or so.

When five o’clock finally came around, I happily packed my bag and wandered off to meet up with John Mc who was coming with us to watch the Small Group show at the Theatre Museum. We headed up towards Covent Garden and into the Porterhouse for dinner and a couple of beers; they do both fine burgers and fine ale and, never having been there before, I determined to remember it for the future. It is a bit of a rabbit-warren though and I managed to get lost on my way back from the bar one time…

While we were enjoying our Sam Adams, I got a text message from Mark C; a chap I was at university with many years ago who now works for Sky TV in London. (Despite the proximity, we only seem to manage to get together for lunch about once every couple of years…) It was one of those viral messages which I normally just delete, but this one caught my fancy and I both replied and forwarded it on to a number of my friends. The concept was simple; reply to the sender, with one word which describes them and then forward the message on to eight of your own friends to find out what they think of you. I chose ‘ethereal’ to describe Mark for reasons which are too lengthy to get into right now. I’ve only had replies from about half of my contacts so far, so I’ll wait until more get back to me before publishing the list of words they offered. Already they range from the stolid to the outrageous, so I’m looking forward to seeing the remainder.

The Small Group show was just as enjoyable as the last time. They had made a few changes both to personnel and to the running order since June. The lovely Raman seems to have taken on an administrative role which means he isn’t singing anymore - a loss to the Chorus, I feel. The choreography was rather patchy throughout, which was a shame as, when it’s tight, it can really sell a performance. Even so, vocally they kept the side up; a better blend and only the occasional lyric slip. Brett, who has sharper ears than me reckons the tuning was off in a couple of places during the show too but I didn’t hear any seriously bum notes.

In improving the blend of the sound, the peculiar bass line I’d heard in Somewhere last time around wasn’t nearly so obtrusive, so the song carried me away again. Following it with Back In Business from Dick Tracey wouldn’t have been my choice – but then I don’t particularly like the song in the first place. Such is life.

Nic B’s powerful Where I Want To Be from the last show was replaced with a spellbinding Somewhere Over The Rainbow – or at least it would have been spellbinding if it hadn’t been periodically interrupted by giggles and chuckles from a group towards the back and a long and loudly whispered aside from our perhaps-a-little-too-inebriated chairman. At least both offenders had the decency to give him rousing applause at the end of the piece.

Ron D was the quintessential Bobby in Company, with both the correct accent and the perfect cadence – whereas the ensemble sounded slightly stilted (but then I know from experience it’s bloody difficult to get all those words out both clearly and in time.)

They finished off with A New World again, which is something I’ve grown to really like over the course of the season; something about the sound of it is quite spine-tinglingly ‘good’ and uplifting.

We didn’t hang around long after the show as none of us felt like drinking any more than we already had, so after a few hellos to the performers, we headed out into the night and I got to do one of my favourite things in Central London; cross the river on a clear night and enjoy the illuminated cityscape.

John Mc seemed to have enjoyed himself too so, on the whole, it was a lovely way to start the weekend.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Two things of concern have penetrated the thick shield of my general indifference this week. The first is some of the vocal (and murderous) responses to the Pope’s recent speech at the University of Regensburg.

I am generally of the opinion that most of the Muslim faithful are moderate and civilised, but their fundamentalist wings really seem to have been given their head this week; calling for beheadings, ‘days of anger’ and talks of crusading conspiracies in response to what was a fairly academic/philosophical speech. The Pope’s use of that particular quote from the Emperor’s Conversations could be seen as provocative as it certainly wasn’t necessary to make the point for which it was used but, in my humble opinion, the reaction has been way over the top – to the point of being scary.

The real concern though should probably be that when people like me start getting frightened like this; that’s the basis for your Holy War right there. As soon as the Christian middle-classes start to dwell more on the extremists than the rational majority, you really have got the foundations of a Crusade! Not a direction I want to see us going in.

The second cause for concern is the coup in Thailand. Although it’s looking now like it will be a peaceful transition and (who knows?) they may even hand power back to elected representatives when they say they will, the concern is that it was seen as the best way to deal with the problems affecting the government at all.

Thailand has been a fairly democratic country for the last decade or so and yet here it is; constitution set aside and tanks surrounding government offices.

Democracy takes a long time to really take root. It isn’t the first election which shows that it’s happening; nor the second, third nor fourth. You need at least a generation, possibly two, for the democratic idea to become instinctive, for the idea of a coup to be too wild to accept in any but the most unlikely situations. Our leaders would do well to remember that before proclaiming ‘job done’ in Iraq or Afghanistan.


So far it’s been a good week; work has been busy and engaging but not especially stressful (long may that continue!)

Monday evening was a new intake evening for the Chorus, so I was down there ready to process all the new guys. Usually I take the photos and enter their details into the membership database. This time though Crouch-End Johnny made the mistake of asking if he could do anything to help and so promptly got set to transcribing the membership forms into the database, which is the bit of the job I hate.

The intake part of the evening was finished by break but, having skipped the first half of the rehearsal I wasn’t feeling especially energised, so Brett and I ducked out and came home.

Tuesday and Wednesday evenings have been taken up by the follow-up admin to the new intake. As the SysAdmin of the Chorus’ message boards, I have to write to all the new guys, get them to confirm their email address is correct and then send them invites to join the boards. Apart from the odd mail-merge, it’s a fairly manual process so it will keep me busy on-and-off for the rest of the week.

Tomorrow night I’m out with work, hopefully going bowling, but probably having a beer or two as well to wish farewell to a temp who has been with us through the summer as he leaves to start university. Then on Friday night a group of us are going to see the second of the LGMC’s Small Group shows at the Theatre Museum. I attended the last one and thoroughly enjoyed it (and yet, bizarrely, one of the group seems to be no longer talking to me since he feels I damned his performance by not falling in love with him as a result of it. Yes, seriously!) Ah well, that’s life.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Turin Trip - Photos

It is perhaps an indicator of how busy the Turin trip was, that I hardly got my camera out at all – which is a shame, because it was a great trip that I’d want to remember.

Anyway, here are links to such photographs as I did take, plus a couple I’ve half-inched off others. You can either view the whole lot on one page here, or pick and choose from the links below…

Aimlessly Wandering Choristers (a.k.a. The Walking Tour)

Brett & I at the Civic Reception. If you think we look a little pale, it’s because they hadn’t let us at the food yet!

Advertising. Unlike our usual homespun efforts, our Turin show had a real marketing budget and there were big posters for us all over town.

The Day Of The Show. Unfortunately no pictures of the actual show (everyone was too busy singing to be taking pictures) but a few shots of us thrilled with the anticipation of a great night ahead.

After The Show we had a party. It was tremendous fun. The pictures sadly don’t do it justice but here are a few gratuitous shots of us and our friends having fun.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Weekend Anticipation

Coming back to work after the four hectic days of the Turin trip wasn’t quite as bad as I’d feared. I was weary, but everything was under control at work, so I didn’t get too stressed out. I spent Thursday catching up on emails and discussing backup strategies with Gaetan.

Brett was at an all-day programmers’ conference and didn’t get back until quite late so my evening was spent watching TV and doing laundry and Chorus/Yahoo stuff.

Today has been pretty much all about video conferencing. For some time, I have been struggling with trying to make our systems publicly available over the Internet and before I went to Turin I’d made a bit of a breakthrough and finally got our kit talking to the test system through a firewall. When I tried to do it again today I’d lost the audio channel in one direction for no readily apparent reason. All the tweaking and teasing I could think of made no difference and wasn’t helped by having to reboot the ADSL router I was using for my ‘external’ VC device every time I needed to make a call.

In the end I shelved it until next week, by which time I’ll have had a window to reboot the corporate firewall to commit some further tweaks that may do the trick.

Spent this evening doing more mucking about with instant messaging systems. Having brought a top-notch webcam home from work though, no-one was around to set up a call with. I managed to broadcast the camera to John G in Leeds, who reckoned it was the best picture he’s seen from a webcam, but that was about it. Chris C (The Texan brother-in-law) was also trying out new stuff and instant messaging me through his phone which was pretty neat, however when I looked into the service at this end it looked like an excuse for MSN/Orange to drain my bank account one smiley at a time, so I left him to it!

Looking forward to a peaceful weekend now though; an unhurried few days of domestrivia is just what I need after the dashing to-and-fro of recent weeks!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Turin Day Three

Today was pretty much all about the show. We slept late, breakfasted and then slept some more before packing our bags ready for the pick-up for the tech-rehearsal. We were performing at the old Lingotto car factory which is now an arts and shopping centre. The auditorium section is massive and, behind the scenes in the conferences area, it felt very much like a new airport just before it has opened; lots of glass rooms with rows of seats; rows of desks lining the corridors; and miles of grey corridors…

We did eventually find our way around though and the concert was quite the success; we’d sold-out the 1900 seats a month in advance and there were still lots of people queuing for returns. As well as posters around town, we made both the national and local press and had TV cameras at the show to record one of our numbers. We were familiar enough with the repertoire that we could give a really confident performance and the acoustic of the venue was so good that we didn’t really have to stretch our voices. The language probably proved to be the biggest sticking point, as I don’t think the Italian audience appreciated the humour in Keep It Gay and some of the other English numbers. They did appreciate our opener; Va Pensiero, from Verdi’s Nabucco. They even applauded during La Montanara, the popular Italian folk song which I have come to loathe as we rehearsed it.

The post-show feedback was entirely positive; everyone appeared to have loved the performance. The merchandising stall had sold every single CD we had brought with us during the interval and only had four of the tour t-shirts left!

The aftershow party was also most enjoyable – with the exception of the way the bar worked; you had to pay for your drinks, get a receipt and then repeat your order to the person further along the bar and they would make it up for you, in return for your receipt. It resulted in long, unhappy queues.

Apart from that, the club was quite stylish; they had some ultra-modern seating around the bar areas, including three very reclined chairs, which you felt really ought to give you a full-body massage at the same time (but, alas, didn’t!). There was the dance floor beyond with the inevitable projections and flashing lights and, off to the side, was a winding corridor which led to a chill-out room, the unisex toilets and some bizarre little alcoves which were apparently Roman remains, but looked like nothing so much as individual dark-rooms designed under some kind of Zen Garden influence!

I had too much to drink again (for which I blame partly continental spirit ‘measures’ and partly Crouch End Johnny, for starting off by buying a round!) At one point in the evening I managed to fumble my glass and spill it all over my lap which caused much merriment at our table although, on the upside, at least they chose to explain the huge wet patch in my trousers as the result of prodigious sexual function, rather than an old man’s weak bladder! Yet I still consumed not one, but TWO, glasses after that before accepting the fact that I’d had too much and stopping drinking. I wasn’t quite incoherent by the end of the night but I still had to stay awake for an extra hour or so raiding the mini-bar for fluids and snacks before I could safely lay my head on a pillow without a wave of nausea.

Still, it was a good party…

Monday, September 11, 2006

Turin Day Two

Somehow, I managed not to set the alarm on my phone last night and we ended up sleeping until gone 9am this morning. This was problematic as we were supposed to be going on a guided walking tour of the city at 10am and had a half-hour journey to meet the tour. After ten minutes walking in the wrong direction, a rapid taxi ride set us right and we were only a few minutes late at the rendezvous, managing to pick up some breakfast basics from a café nearby before the tour set off.

It turned out that the guides had been told we wanted a three-hour tour of the city and hadn’t been told that we had a rehearsal afterwards when we had been told we’d have a two-hour tour and hence plenty of time for lunch before the rehearsal call. Inevitably this discrepancy didn’t become apparent until late in the tour and some of the guys were actually quite stroppy with the guides, as if it were their fault they’d been given bad information.

The rehearsal itself was quite tedious and in a hideous theatre. We polished and tweaked our music but were very grateful when it was all over.

In the evening we had to attend a civic reception in the Town Hall. It wasn’t nearly as unpleasant as I’d expected; about half-an-hour of speeches in two languages followed by a substantial buffet and drinks. Being the LGMC, we did our civic duty and completely cleared the tables of food and wine.

When the Town Hall kicked us out, we wandered en masse towards the café section of town. Some of the group were just in search of alcohol, but some of us wanted dessert and coffee before beer. In the end we spent a good thirty minutes trudging around before we finally were led to an Ice Cream Parlour on the Via Po. There we had lots and lots of alfresco ice cream, much of it laced with various liqueurs in the Italian fashion. I followed mine up with a gorgeous cup of hot chocolate, also done the Italian way; a rich, thick dark chocolate drink with the consistency of syrup, but nowhere near as sweet. Delicious!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Turin Day One

How stupid am I? Having planned my wardrobe and packed carefully, I got pulled-up at security because I’d forgotten to put my pen-knife in my hold baggage. It was inevitably confiscated which totally punctured my mood as it was a gift from Rod and Jess for being Best Man at their wedding some ten years ago. I kept telling myself that it’s only a thing and it’s not the end of the world but it still dampened me for a while.

The flight was delayed by an hour and the passenger list seemed to be made up mostly of fifteen LGMC bods and forty or so noisy Italian teenagers. Once we got underway though they quietened down for the most part and the rest of us got on with enjoying the flight and joking with the little ginger steward (whose day had obviously been made by the sudden rush of openly gay middle-aged men on his flight.)

The coach transfer from the airport to the hotel was interminable. We got checked-in and when we reached the room, my first thought was, “Oh my god, it’s Moonbase Alpha!” The room is entirely furnished in shades-of-grey Formica with rounded-off edges and inset consoles at oblique angles. It’s not as hideous as it might sound from that simple description but it definitely has a rather retro-futuristic feel to it. (We subsequently learned that the hotel that the bulk of the Chorus is staying in was somewhat more basic than ours and it rapidly had its name transmuted from ‘OpenZero’ to ‘Ground Zero!’ so, on the whole, I don’t think we did too badly.)

Anyway, after checking-in at Moonbase Alpha we had barely fifteen minutes in the room to freshen up before we had to leave for the group meal. Once we got there though, it proved to be a convivial atmosphere; the food was reasonable and everyone was catching up with each other as we’ve not seen much of fellow choristers over the break. We had a bit to drink, but decided not to go on to the club afterwards.

Instead we headed back to the hotel for an early night, but ended up having a nightcap with Scott L instead and so didn’t turn-in until gone 1am!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Ghosts of Holidays Past and To Come

We’re off to Turin tomorrow, so some of today has been spent reading-up on all the tour documentation. I was amazed when I actually sat down and opened my tour pack that one of the leaflets I’d classed as from a Tourist Information Office and ignored when I initially skimmed the pack, turned out to be a rather professional and comprehensive pocket-sized booklet produced by the Chorus itself. I was very impressed – it goes to show that we can actually work like a professional body when we set our minds to it.

The writing bears the unmistakable tone of John H and some of his comments had me laughing out loud; not least his comments on the catering of the various airlines booked to fly us to Italy (some of which are probably actionable, so I won’t publish them here!)

I also spent a while this evening editing down the video footage Brett took of his dad’s trip here in July. We have about two hours worth of raw footage but I’m trimming it down to probably no more than 45 minutes worth of holiday-video. It’s quite a task though! And I still have to index all the photos I took… Ah, well, no rest for the wicked!

Friday, September 08, 2006

I Should Be Working!

I spent yesterday waiting for it to be over. Although it wasn’t a terribly challenging day, I was completely washed-out after an exhausting rehearsal on Wednesday evening. It wasn’t the singing so much as lack of air-conditioning that did me in! A room that was barely big enough for the one-hundred-and-twenty of us and had no useful ventilation. Ugh! Sweat running down my legs and arms. Ugh!!

Chatting to John M last night, it appears he’s after buying himself a video camera and was asking me about our one. I think maybe when we get back from Turin I’ll make time to do some video again. Luther from the Chorus gave me a long anticipated CD with photos of this year’s Pride Parade on that I am planning to edit into my footage of the event so I can upload a half-decent short to YouTube and maybe the Chorus website. I was also reminded last week that we still owe Brett’s dad a copy of the photographs and video footage from his trip over here. It would be kind of nice to get that to him ahead of us travelling out for Thanksgiving…

I am now really looking forward to Turin; both musically and socially it’s going to be a busy, but enjoyable, few days. My only promise to myself is not to drink nearly as much as I did at the aftershow party in Paris. I can make a perfectly good fool of myself without the assistance of alcohol!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Albert Hall Memories

Earlier in the summer the LGMC performed at the Royal Albert Hall as part of EuroPride ’06. I remember the day as being long and tedious because the tech-rehearsal took so long to complete. Anyway, after it was complete and before we all went off to hunt for food in advance of the show, we went out onto the terrace between the Albert Hall itself and the Royal College of Music and ran some of our numbers.

As we sang, occasional members of the public wandering by would stop and listen to us for a while before moving on (usually with a slightly bemused look upon their faces.) Well, it turns out that one of the local residents also heard us and got out her video camera. As a result, we are now on YouTube…

Click on the link and you’ll be able to watch us (from a rather oblique angle) rehearse our big camp number, Keep It Gay. It suffers a little from being a cappella, but you have the added bonus of Simon’s shouted instructions as he conducts while balanced on a balustrade. If you’ve never seen/heard us perform, it will give you some idea of how we are at our gayest…

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


As I sat on my bike at a road junction this morning, waiting for a traffic light to change, I reflected momentarily that a week ago at that time I’d been breakfasting by the pool in the peaceful morning sunlight of Sitges. The contrast between that and the Tuesday traffic through Vauxhall Cross was sharp and I once again cursed my bad luck for having missed out on most of the time we’d had there; a definite feeling of being short-changed. So, just like last year, I find myself saying, “next year we’ll have more fun; we’ll go and enjoy the beaches and muck about in the sea instead of just sitting by the pool!”

Oh well.

I suppose it’s good to have something to aim for…

Today was definitely another day of “I need a holiday!”

After yesterday’s successes, I got brought back down to earth with a bump as a task which usually would only take half an hour or so, Murphied itself into consuming my entire day – and a portion of the evening. After all that, I am more than ready to commit GBH on any Microsoft employees that happen to cross my path in the next day or so, as a large portion of that time consumption resulted from a barely-documented change they have made to the way their email server works. Worse yet, I have more time to spend on the problem tomorrow as tonight I discovered that the documentation that does exist isn’t entirely correct! Arrrgggghhhhh!!!!


…And breath…

…And relax.

Brett is off networking with ‘Extreme Programmers’ tonight. It all sounds terribly nerdy, but then, who am I to mock? Especially if it helps him find something he can earn a living from while actually enjoying himself! In his absence though, I think I shall take advantage of my IM client and go and chat with some of my many neglected friends!

And Speaking of Being Green...’s something to give to Climate Change apologists who claim that recent weather variations are just part of a natural cycle; in the last 800,000 years the earth hasn’t seen anything like the current level of atmospheric carbon dioxide, nor the rate of increase which we are currently experiencing.

We are generating the excess CO2 and we are going to suffer for it unless we take action right now.

Only other thing of interest was an article I found looking at how the World Trade Centre attacks affected the US. I was especially curious about the presidential approval ratings; it looks like Bush’s popularity had been sliding pretty much from the day he took office but he got a huge boost from the national unity that followed 9/11. I wonder, had he not received that swell of popular support following the attacks, whether he would have been able to keep his numbers over 50% in November 2004. If Al-Qaida hadn’t attacked in 2001, would George Bush have won a second term in office? If they hadn’t/he didn’t, there would have been no Global War on Terror and probably no Iraq invasion either and ‘the West’ would have been a much happier place for members of the Muslim faith… Now that is a ‘what-if’ that could keep the pundits debating for years!

The Wonders of Modern Technology

It's incredible really; so far this morning I've patched two servers in Australia and rebooted the firewall in our London office and yet I still haven't got out of bed. The connectedness of the modern world is incredible sometimes.

Monday, September 04, 2006

It's Not Easy Being Green

After feeling pretty listless yesterday, today perked me up considerably; I had a good day at work, making some progress on a problem that’s been dogging me for months and then this evening’s Chorus rehearsal was considerably more successful than I’d feared. I actually came away in very good spirits. Maybe we will shine in Turin after all!

Whether we shine or not, we’ll certainly be easily visible:

Tonight we received our Tour t-shirts, which are notable for two reasons. Firstly they have an old Italian saying as part of the logo which reads, “chi di verde si veste, di beltà sua si fida.” This translates roughly to “he who wears green is certain of their beauty.” I am sure it’s really referring to inner beauty (after all, the shade of green in question is not going to be flattering to most people) but on a gang of gay men I fear it will be too easy to interpret as “he who wears green fancies himself rotten.” Nothing like proving stereotypes wrong right!

So, yes, the t-shirts are green (which is the second thing!) The colour scheme of the shirt reflects the Italian flag, as there is orange and white involved in the logo also, but the shirt itself is green. I can only hope that the majority of people we encounter on the trip have never been to the UK in mid-March because, wearing these t-shirts, the Chorus looks like nothing so much as a St. Patrick’s Day pub-crawl waiting to happen.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Going Nowhere

I guess it’s the weekend I wanted. Did nothing yesterday. Did only the essentials today.

Brett’s family were having a reunion at his elder brother’s place and Brett was joining them by iChat so we spent a while on Friday night mucking about with firewalls and network ports. For something that’s supposed to ‘just work’ iChat certainly didn’t. In the process, I started checking out other instant messaging clients with my own webcam and got decent results chatting to John G in Leeds and John M in London on Windows Live Messenger. Apparently the Mac version of Live Messenger won’t handle video but the PC version does, so John G got a tour of our lounge from the comfort of his own.

I also got a message from Curtis in Chicago; he’s contemplating moving to Australia. He’s got the visas and work permits all lined up and he’s heading off to Melbourne and then Sydney to spend the time between now and early next year. Then, if he still likes it, he’ll stay on.

Tomorrow Chorus starts up again. We have precisely one week to polish up last season’s concert ready for Turin next Tuesday. I think it’s going to be tough to squeeze everything in to the rehearsal time we have!

Now that I’m back at work, I’m feeling restless again. Rod called this afternoon to ask me to be reference on a job application he’s making. Seems he’s tired of working in Westminster. I need a change too.