Sunday, October 23, 2005

How to make a crap pasta sauce

You will need:

Basil (poor guy... he gets it bad...)
1 jar Sainsbury's Double Concentrate Tomato Puree
An onion
A carrot
Some brown sugar
An Actimel probiotic yoghurt

Peel and chop the carrots, add a sprinkling of thyme and boil for 10 minutes. Add bits of chopped onion to boiling carrots (mainly because you don't know what the heck else to do with them, they won't cook in the sauce and you only have 2 hobs) and boil for 5 more minutes. Take carrots off the boil and drain off water. Attempt to tip tomato puree into the pan, then after several moments realise it isn't coming out of the jar. Scrabble around in utensil drawer, find a random fork and scoop out a large lump of the stuff. Add a considerably too generous sprinkling of basil because the lid came off as you were tipping it. Sprinkle a reasonable amount of brown suger on top, because you can. Put resulting mixture back on the hob and realise that it's too thick to be a sauce. Ransack fridge for 1 minute trying to find something to thin it out. Settle on probiotic yoghurt. Stir thoroughly while cooking until you realise the pasta's been on too long. Serve and eat.

Or, alternatively, don't. It was foul.

Sorry for not posting in a while - I've had lots of settling in & stage management to do. I hope you, yes you, the random reader, are well. I am. At the moment, anyhoo. When that sauce gets a little bit further through my digestive system I may not be so peachy.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

And The Glass Handed Kites

is the title of the new album from one of my favourite bands, Mew, a little-known rock band from Denmark. I first got interested in this band when I saw them supporting Martin Grech at the Leadmill in Sheffield several years back, and, in a remarkable break from custom, bought the single on sale at the merchandise stand, "Am I Wry? No". This song rapidly became, and stayed, my favourite song in the world. Since then I've been following their progress with interest, eagerly snapping up their brilliant first album, "Frengers", a collection of 10 slow, melodic, soaring, dreamlike guitar-driven songs. "And The Glass Handed Kites" continues in the same vein, providing a mighty 14 tracks. On first listen, I'm very satisfied with it. The songs don't seem to have the individuality that characterised Frengers, and none of the tracks are as anthemic as "156" or "Snow Brigade", but over a solid 53 minutes of music their distant, evocative style has been developed to near-perfection. The high point of the album is probably the ominous, epic first track, an instrumental named "The Circuitry Of The Wolf".

Mew's website will tell you more, if you're interested.

I'm back from Cornwall and from Wales. Had a lovely few days' walking, first along the ridge of the Black Mountains in beautiful sunshine with panoramic views in all directions. If you want to know what I've been up to in Cornwall, look at this.

If anyone's feeling generous and wants to buy me an album, make it one of the following:

Vanessa Carlton - Harmonium
My Vitriol - Between The Lines
Anything by The Rasmus
Anything by The Cooper Temple Clause

or some others which I've forgotten for now.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

The Turning Point

Me and Latifa have college kids! Yay! They aren't linguists, but it doesn't matter. The love will still be spreaded.

My work over the summer has ended with a knackering four shifts in three days. Now the eight or so weeks of boredom and life-selling are over and I can do something interesting. Or lots of interesting things. September is actually going to be incredibly busy. I'm going away to Minack on the 7th, coming back on the 19th, then heading straight off to Wales on the 20th to finish the Offa's Dyke footpath. I then return on the 24th, the day of Joe's 21st birthday party, before heading off to Melton Mowbray for the Clare CU house party on the 28th. From there I go straight to Cambridge on the 1st of October, when I somehow have to squeeze in meeting Mum and unpacking my stuff in my new room, the tech rehearsal for Threepenny Opera, and a meal with my college kids in the evening.

I still have lots to sort out, including some props for Minack, so I'll go away now, secure in the knowledge that I can cross "post on my blog" off my To Do list.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Noooooooooooooo! (tm)

I need to be back in Cambridge on the 1st of October. The Arcade Fire are playing the Leadmill, in Sheffield, on the 1st of October. It's their only tour date in England apart from the festivals. The one band I really, really wanted to see, coming to a venue near me, and I won't be anywhere near me. Grrr.

Listen to their album, Funeral, if it's the only thing you listen to this year. It's a masterpiece. I am not joking. Buy this album. I've had the song "Rebellion (Lies)" in my iTunes library for about two months and it's already racked up over 50 plays, not counting the times I've listened to it on the other computer or on my stereo.

Also, if you feel like writing or RPing go to Tazlure. I'm enjoying it muchly. If reading's more your thing, check out my other blog, a co-authored sci-fi story. If you'd rather see an opera, come and see Iolanthe at the Minack Theatre, Cornwall, 12th-17th September.

That's enough plugs for one afternoon. Pity I don't have anything worthwhile to say. See you all soon.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

A Nice Life: Is It Worth It?

Today at work I broke the dishwasher.

Some would be proud of this achievement. Not me. I just felt like a complete, drooling idiot. I'd put the wrong kind of detergent in the machine: "dishwashing liquid" rather than "dishwasher liquid". As a result, after a while large amounts of white foam started frothing over the front door of the machine and wouldn't stop even after I'd switched it off. Much moppage was required. The room smelt of lemon.

An argument I've been having with various people recently: is having a "nice life" really what should be done with money? To live in a nice house, spend the extra money to buy top quality brands instead of "saver" varieties, no longer buy Christmas cards at £1 for 100, travel first class sometimes on trains... it seems like the easy way out, an escape route. Much better to save, and to continue saving, for one thing, one ideal. To pour all that money into something you really believe in, or something that you want more than anything else in the world. How can you be satisfied with yourself if you don't? My mother's argument is that there's nothing much that she wants in the world; if anything, all she wants is to have a nice life. In which case all that money would be much better given to people who do have ambitions and ideals, like me.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

I should really eat my hat

Well, wow. I don't want to risk this blog turning into an intelligent commentary, but just look at this.

I have to say that I had absolutely no idea about all of this when I wrote my previous post, and it makes me feel all warm inside to know that I correctly predicted a random controversy (well, sort of).

Are vitamin supplements dangerous? Read this article.

So: yes, they probably are. Pity really that this is an EU directive and that I am therefore fundamentally opposed to it. Maybe the EU will ban all cars that aren't on a list of 112 positive cars. That would increase my respect for those damn pen-pushing money-laundering bureaucratic culture-crushing jet-setting whiskey-drinking suit-wearing bastards in Brussels, or Strasbourg, or wherever the hell they are these days (on holiday in Tuscany, most likely). Damn them all to hell.

Whatever happened to that sweet but oh-so-random story I started? Replaced by *gasp* current affairs. How the mighty have fallen. I'm really hungry but it's only 11.45.

Sunday, July 10, 2005


I'm back from Germany and on fine form, although like all recent summers it's far too hot and stuffy (global warming?).

Various conversations have provoked me into thinking that I ought to put something that I really believe on here. Now, at the moment I'm not sure I believe anything. It was a long-held opinion of mine that opinions in general cause far more harm than good. Another belief of mine is that reason is fundamentally flawed because of the axioms from which everything must initially be derived; reason itself cannot prove these. As a result, reason can be used to prove anything as long as appropriate axioms are taken.

There we have two lovely contradictions: it is my opinion that no one should have opinions, and logic dictates that all logic is flawed. But far from doing this just for the sake of pretentiousness (moi?), I have a very specific purpose in mind with these ramblings: in essence, it's a disclaimer. My beliefs are far from consistent, and, as many of you will know, when I meet people who are supremely confident in their own beliefs I either hate them (in the majority of cases) or idolise them. Yes, this means that I hate a lot of people. Both the contradictions I mentioned lead to this conclusion: it is a bad thing to have beliefs, both because I believe so and because reason dictates that any belief reached through reason is only as valid as any other. A lot of people (the people I hate and idolise) seem to believe the opposite: that it is fundamentally better to believe something, and that because they have carefully reasoned through their belief (and they assume that others haven't!) it is superior to all others. This is a circularity. They believe it because it is correct. It is correct because they believe it.

Wow, even my preamble turned into a rant. Impressive, no? But let's not waste any more time. Let's get onto the meaty stuff.

Cars are one of this world's greatest evils. I do not drive and do not want to learn to drive. I seriously hope I will never learn to drive, although as in all matters I may change my mind. My dad also doesn't drive, and he's been accused of not driving simply to make a point. This is exactly what he is doing.

Cars damage the environment more than pretty much anything else on the planet. They are responsible for more deaths than pretty much anything else on the planet. To cause all this damage people pay vast sums of money.

Cars are bought because everyone else has cars, but cars are not necessary to live, no more than are mobile phones or vitamin pills. All three are solutions to a need; in the first case, transport, in the second, communication, and in the third, nutrition. All three are relatively modern inventions that many now consider indispensable simply because they deal with their respective needs more efficiently than previous solutions. The human race can manage perfectly well without any of them.

What's my point? People don't consider the cost of what they do, up to a certain point. Vitamin pills haven't been proven dangerous as far as I know, and there isnt even any clear evidence that mobile phones are, but even if they were as dangerous as smoking (a case in point) and drinking people would still do them. Cars are far more deadly than either. Why can't people just be more sensible? I suppose it comes down to the classic choice: a lifetime of pleasure and no regard for its effects on you or anyone else, or a life of consideration, trying to live the best you can. Everything seems to boil down to these diametric oppositions.

Lunch calls. More rants later.

Friday, June 24, 2005

It's another blog post

Can't be arsed to continue the story tonight. It's too late, and I'll need my sleep - at 5.15am the day after tomorrow I'm heading off on a coach to Germany with the Earnest crew.

Midsummer Night's Dream (the Clare May Week show, which I'm stage-managing) is amazing. We had to do it in Clare Cellars instead of in the gardens today because it rained, but the audience still loved it. Yesterday we did it outside in glorious sunshine and had an audience of over 120.

Haven't done any Spanish since my last blog post. I've been too busy with the aforementioned shows. My nose has given up the fight and is now periodically erupting with fountains of blood. Can't wait to get out of the country and find somewhere where the pollen isn't so damned nasty.

I wish I'd gone to the May Ball now. British Sea Power played it.

So, my next post will be some time after I get back from Deutschland (see what I did there? I put Germany in German. Clever, aren't I?). Somewhere across the river, a random orchestra is playing the Star Wars theme music. Getting to sleep might prove a more arduous task than I had predicted. GW signing off. Peace, y'all.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Spanish and Earnest

"Y'all right, Mr Beaver?" enquired another robot, poking its head round one of the doors of the burrowlike house.

"Never better, Mrs Beaver," the first robot responded. "We've got a guest."

"Great," Mrs Beaver replied sarcastically. "Well, I hope he likes unleaded." She then glanced at Sam. "Oh! It's an organic! Shall I eliminate him?"

"No, no," said Mr Beaver wearily. "He just wants to stay in here until the storm is over."

"Seems reasonable," said Mrs Beaver, regarding them dubiously. "Well, the TV aerial must have been knocked, as I can't get any reception. Shall we play a card game, then? How about knockout whist?"

So the three of them sat around playing whist for hours until a peaceful silence from above indicated that the storm had passed. Then Sam said a warm goodbye to the two robots and continued on his way, further into the forest.

Hello! Wow, a week since my last post. I'd love to say it was because I've been working hard, but it just wouldn't be true. I've had oodles and oodles of free time. I haven't been wasting it, though; I've been learning Spanish, or trying to. Now you'd think that at this point I'd post a facetious/smartass comment in Spanish, but I'm not going to, because my Spanish isn't good enough for that.

We had our first touring performance of The Importance Of Being Earnest yesterday at a little primary school in Hardwick. They had quite a nice lighting setup, and it was a pity that it hadn't been used for a while - it was really far more than a primary school hall needed. The show went well, although someone decided to restart it after the interval while the tech crew and half the audience were still out getting ice creams, which was rather confusing. In the end they stopped it and restarted it again. Embarrassing. It went down well with the audience, though.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Internet marriage

By the time Sam reached the trees the storm was almost upon him. The forest floor was dark and thick with undergrowth, and he wandered between the vast trunks with little hope. He could feel the air around him tightening as the energy increased, and with it his senses sharpened so acutely that he was able to make out a rather quaint door set into the base of one of the trees, three steps down.

The door was a cleanly carved piece of wood on bronzed hinges with a porthole-style window just below head height. Outside the door a couple of milk bottles and a yoghurt pot waited to be taken in, resting on a mat woven with the words "Bless This Mess". A small copper plaque proclaimed this to be the home of "Mr and Mrs Beaver".

Sam wasn't about to take his chances with the storm. Instead he picked up the golden doorknocker - in the form of a lion - and knocked sharply. Approaching steps could be heard from within.

A large grey-metalled robot opened the door. It was slightly taller than Sam and has humanoid in shape except for the flexible arm protruding from its upper abdomen. "What?" it demanded angrily.

"I'm sorry if I disturbed you," said Sam quickly, taken aback. "I got caught in the storm, and just wanted to get inside somewhere."

The robot looked at him suspiciously. "All right," it said after a few moments. "You can come in. Just don't steal anything." With its three arms it picked up the yoghurt and milk bottles and inserted them into a compartment in its torso. "Follow me."

Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, I'm now married. Her name's Latifa and she's very small and nice. Hopefully we shall receive two little linguist bundles of joy very shortly. How gloriously happy I am.

You'd think my nose would have figured out by now that running like a tap and convulsing like a mad thing isn't the best way of dealing with little bits of pollen. Unfortunately, noses are not noted for their keen insights, and so I have to suffer through yet another hayfever season. It gets infuriating when one is in a situation where one is required to look one's best and to eat, such as at a formal hall. Plugging both nostrils with Blu-Tack might work, except that then the pressure would gradually increase to such a level that said obstruction would be messily expelled across the room, and then I would lose much of my credibility.

The day before yesterday I went to see my room for next year with Daves. It had a window, and a door, and was roughly cuboid in shape; pretty much exactly what I'd expected, then. Didn't get to see my room, but saw an equivalent at the other end of the building. A staircase in Castle House (note here that I refer to "A" staircase, not a staircase in the sense of any old staircase) is populated by a lot of very nice people.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

On Blogging

"When?" asked the red beetle.

"I don't know," responded Sam. The beetle shook its head and chittered, waving its forelegs wildly.

"You can't just ask a question that only consists of a question word and nothing else," Sam clarified, exasperated. "I've been waiting for access to this tower for the past forty-five minutes, and that's all you have to say to me?"

"If you don't want to play by the rules, that's fine," grunted a grimy-looking man in the queue behind him, "but if that's the case you can go somewhere else. Some of us actually want to get inside, you know."

"Aye," added a hunched woman. "There's an electrical storm coming." She pointed to the sky, where roiling clouds were hastening in their direction, a corona of energy playing around them. "If we get caught in that, we're toast. I don't want to be toast." She shuddered.

Sam sighed. "Tell me the answer and I'll go in and get out of your way."

The woman looked at him pityingly. "It doesn't work like that, love. It's your answer. I can't answer for you - it has to come from inside." The beetle whirred approvingly.

"But I don't know," Sam reiterated.

"Then no entry for you, my lad," the man said firmly. "Now run along and get out of our way."

Sam spluttered. "But what about the storm?"

"You might be safe in the forest," replied the old woman, lifting a wizened finger and pointing in the direction of a wall of towering trees against which the cloudfront was sure to break.

"Fine," Sam muttered resignedly. "Thanks, I suppose." Picking up his bags, he began trudging in the direction of the forest.

Hello. I am the Blogger. You are the Blogged.

That's right. After millennia of inactivity the indomitable machine that is George L. Walkden has unexpectedly whirred into activity, cogs creaking and grinding. I had my last exam today, after which I went to Starbucks and got bought a hot chocolate and a muffin. David and Fi and Jen are nice. Life is good, but timewasting isn't what it used to be, as I'm not really wasting anything any more. Instead I'm being constructive and blogging.

Expect neither intelligent criticism nor cutting analysis of current events on this blog. I live in the Cambridge bubble and don't give a monkey's about the outside world except insofar as it directly concerns me, and even then I'm often unashamedly indifferent.

Maybe I'll have something other than tuna mayonnaise to eat for lunch in the near future, but I do like tuna mayonnaise.