The Daily Mumble May 2004 Archive
As the end of my college course approached so May 2004 saw me running around like a blue-arsed fly. Not only were there essays to write, but also stag weekends and weddings to attend, plus the return of my Mojo...
"have you forgotten about us?"
Since last month's bankruptcy I've had quite a few letters from creditors, all along the lines of "Please pay us now or your account will be suspended". I've then had the pleasure of phoning them up to tell them about what happened 4 weeks ago at Bristol County Court (i.e. I'm sorry, I won't be paying).
This morning I received two such letters from Barclaycard, the UK's largest Credit Card company, with whom I held two credit card accounts, a VISA and a Mastercard.
On the first letter, headed "Have you forgotten about us?", they tell me that as I have defaulted on my VISA account for two months now I'm in big trouble.
However, on opening my Mastercard statement, I find that they have automatically RAISED my credit limit from £1,100 to £2,000!
What? Are these banks nuts? I owe them thousands of pounds, I haven't been paying, I'm bankrupt, I'm unemployed...and they go and increase my credit limit by almost 100%!
Does make me feel a little "serves them right that they won't be getting their money back" when they give credit in such an irresponsible manner. It's easy to see how some people can end up in dire straits with credit cards etc. Sure, I had to go bankrupt, but I had no assets to lose and no one to support. What if I'd had a heavily mortgaged house and 2 children to look after?
Well, I'm just grateful that I haven't. At least no children that I know of... ;o)
Oh, complete change of subject: are you living in one of the two-thirds of British households that buy pre-packed salads in supermarkets? Then you won't want to read this. It tells the story of how that salad (and other pre-packaged fruit and veg) comes to reach your table.
Dangerous cocktails of extremely toxic chemicals, horrendous environmental pollution, exploitation of migrant workers and a complete lack of any nutrition - that's what those pre-packed salads are all about. Next time you're thinking of buying one don't think health - think cancer, think poverty, think oppressive regimes orchestrated by faceless multinationals and supported by you, the consumer.
(The alternative by the way is Organic FairTrade™, or even better, grow your own like we do!)
The changing nature of public transport: When I was a lad...
...we'd play I-Spy to while away the hours between Hereford and London.
I spy with my little eye something beginning with... "T"
Train track? Tree? Tyrannosaurus Rex?
Toothing? What's that? I wondered to myself today when a friend in Japan asked if I'd been taking part in the craze that, according to his sources, was sweeping the UK. A quick Google search resulted in my learning all about this latest fashion, that apparently we're all victims of.
I tell you, I don't think I'd want to even attempt Toothing on the buses in and around Bristol, the number of resident window lickers we have...
Next thing you know people might actually start Talking to each other on trains - how bizarre would that be?!!
The Advancement Continues
(or should that read "The Advance Continues"?)
Today has seen further great advances in the impact of technology upon my life. Nnot only have I finally learned how to use CSS style sheets (which means less code & therefore quicker downloads for you Mumblers), but also I have taught my computer to type for me. All I have to do is speak - and Hey Presto! the words appear on screen. Initially it made lots of mistakes, but having completed several training sessions (reading the introduction to Bill Gates's latest novel and an essay on the philosophy of tables) it's now quite accurate. It's actually an add-in for Microsoft Office, but it also works with this web site authoring program.
Let's put it to the test: can it recognise the words to the tongue-twister "She sells sea shells on the sea shore. The shells she sells are sea shells I'm sure."
Dear Mr. Tame
Got a letter from my local NHS Hospital yesterday. I've got an consultation appointment on the 10th June.
Having got over the shock of being informed that I was actually going to be seen this century, I started to wonder what the Maxillofacial department specialised in.
Having read a friend's account of what sounded like the most painful dental operation in the world I can't say I'm looking forward to it. I think my dentist was trying to reassure me when she said, "oh, don't worry, they probably won't have to remove your crown to get to the problem - they'll just drill stright through the gum..."
Oh right well that's fine then...
Exit Napoleon pursued by rabbits
I was made a fool of in public last night.
What's that? Nothing new? What's that? The Daily Mumble...?
Having not been to the theatre for a while, I'd forgotten the rule involving front row seats and modern productions: don't sit in them unless you want to get picked on. As I was.
The delusional silent army chef that she was tried to teach me how to carry out her own unique salute. I made the unfortunate mistake of wiggling my hips too much, something she didn't hesitate to pick up on and mimic, much to the mirth of the rest of the audience. When I tried to retreat to my seat she ordered me to get back in position on stage... only to then mime to me that I should sit down again... which I didn't understand... until the point when she marched right up to me with a threatening finger (before miming to the assembled crowd, "Is he thick, or what?!").
I went to a dinner party on Friday night. It was ladies only - thus my inclusion. Apparently three of the eight attendees pulled out at the last minute, and I was the only suitable replacement. Must be my camp Japanese that does the trick. Although they were all English. And German. And French. Bristolian too I think. Yes, I seem to not remember drinking quite a lot of red wine - in fact I was still drunk at lunchtime yesterday. Not quite sure how I managed to not fall off my bike during the 15 minute cycle home at 2am. Is it illigal to be drunk whilst in charge of a bicycle?
Let's find out.
erm... dialing 01275 818181 (Bristol Police)
(2 minutes later)
It is against the law, yes, but is not something they'll normally pursue (they can't drive fast enough I guess).
Good, glad we've got that one cleared up.
I've been reading about the Japanese invasion of the Phillipines today ...quite horrendous. Astonishing how cruel people can be.
Also, as a part of my research for a 4000-word essay I have to write this week
the binary oppositions of Japanese culture:
I've been reading up on Japanese politics... crikey, how stuffed is all that? Talk about corruption! Quite extraordainary. Still, makes Japan all the more intruiging for me. Can't quite get over the fact that I've actually been enjoying reading about politics.
The essay should be pretty easy as there's so much literature out there on the subject (including the four history books that I bought last weekend. I know, history + books + I + bought: I can't believe it either).
It's interesting for me to observe my feelings change towards the country that I love so much as I learn more about the history and culture behind it. Sheds a whole new light on past experiences. I remember feeling the great "buzz" of Tokyo, of a nation undergoing huge cultural shifts - and now I know a little more about the history I can see where the base of that buzz lies.
This is the first time since I left school that I have studied any form of history. I can't quite get over how easy it is to gain new knowledge. All I've done is read a few books, but boy, I feel like a whole new world has opened up for me.
Anyway, must get on. 200 words down, 3800 to go.
...still at it
2,359 words down; 1,641 to go.
ahhh, the pain!!
I just dislocated my right shoulder - for the third time since January 2003.
The first time it happened I was buttoning up my coat.
The second time it happened I was putting on a rucksack.
Today? Today I was sitting on the toilet looking at the calendar on the back of the door whilst day dreaming.
Crikey, what a painful awakening. Bloody hell, REALLY HURTS!! Managed to pop it back in quickly, but I can feel everything's stretched.
(2,889 words down; 1,111 to go)
Lusting after friends is not a good idea. You learnt that when you were 16.
Yesterday was a most peculiar day.
At 9.30am I had an end-of-year exam – cultural studies. 3 hours, 3 essay to write: an analysis of an image (in this case a black and white photo); an analysis of two pieces of discursive writing; an essay on the nature of the changes seen in "family TV viewing” since the 1950s.
Having not written a cultural studies essay for a while, and having only started my revision at 9pm the night before the exam (despite making a huge effort to begin 12 hours earlier), I don't think I did particularly well. I was very tired, and completely incapable of critical thought. Having realised this 5 minutes into the exam I decided that my only option was Plan B: write as much waffle as possible and hope that I inadvertently make one or two good points. In the end I managed sixteen A4 pages (or 5.3 per hour or about 1 every ten minutes). Yes, they did contain utter rubbish, and I know that quality not quantity is the key to success. I'll keep you posted on how I did.
Following the exam, I returned to the tranquillity of my futon for a snooze, only to be rudely disturbed by an SMS from a college mate wanting a little help with some psychology revision. That's the thing about being such a celebrity student (both in and out of the classroom), people do tend to think of you first when they're stuck for what to do. Thankfully she brought a few beers round with her, and it wasn't long before discussions about Freud led us down a long and winding path to the world of sex (which has once again been eluding me. It was alright for a few weeks but I'm beginning to feel that I NEED a girlfriend. English Girlfriend). It didn't help that I fancy the pants off my college mate with whom I spent yesterday afternoon in the garden drinking beer and talking about sex. No chance there though, she's spoken for. Signed the deeds for her new house that her and her fella have just bought together yesterday morning actually. Reminded me of something I once did in Torquay.
After she'd left I found myself reeling from the combined influence of lust, alcohol and the presence of such an attractive lady. I was absolutely knocked for six by it, and really didn't know what to do with myself. In the end I resorted to watching American Beauty, a film that I fell in love with upon its release in 2001. I identified strongly with Kevin Spacey's character, Lester Burnham. In a way I went through exactly the same thing as him, except I didn't threaten to bring allegations of sexual harassment against my former manager and I didn't get shot. And I didn't fantasize about sleeping with a cheerleader.
Good news on the extended essay front: I've finished! My tutor had a read through the draft and gave me the thumbs up… I've since made a couple of amendments and added some illustrations and Hey Presto! All done. It's online if you want a look, in my Access section, although you'll have to pay me $30,000,000 for the password.
Good news on the avocado front too – one of my 5 babies has sprouted 3 roots in the last week. I've stuck toothpicks in it and suspended it over a little jar of water so I can watch its anal progress. Ho hum.
A weekend in the woods with a very long rope
Friday night was party night: my dear friend Mr. Marc Cove of Hereford Waldorf School fame (we were in the same class) is getting married on Saturday, so last weekend a whole bunch of us arranged to meet in a supermarket car park to tie him to a lamp-post with no clothes on ("let's just get this straight - that one's never gonna die is it?!!”). Having realised that the rope we had was far too expensive to attach someone to a piece of street furniture with, we instead decided to go shopping, what with the close proximity of the supermarket to our current location and the emergence of a Plan B: go camping in a lovely Welsh valley otherwise known as Forest Coal Pit. Several trolleys of beer, bread and beans later we piled into a convoy of cars and headed west, into the darkness of Wales.
Despite warnings that someone had called the police in a bid to ward off our illegal ‘rave' (yeah, with 15 of us, right…) we started to set up our tents alongside a lovely little river, which the following morning was to wake me every 15 minutes by imitating the sound of heavy rain on my canvas. That's a dirty trick for a river to play… Having removed the tent from its sheaf, we discovered that we were somewhat lacking in poles; a brief discussion by us all (who for Google's sake included Ben Allen, Ben Keenan, Billy Salisbury, Graham Cove, Marc Cove, Sam Cove, Matthew Cockburn, Mark, Marc's father-in-law-to-be, Marc's father-in-law-to-be's son and everyone else who I've forgotten (apologies, I did drink quite a bit)) of how we could use our expensive can't-tie-marc-to-a-lamp-post-with-them ropes to suspend the tent from a tree was followed by the turning of a key and the driving back to the grand city of Hereford by one of our number (ok, we've reached the end of the sentence – you can breathe now). The rest of us started drinking I think, oh, yes, and went foraging for wood in the forest that's full of trees. Funny that, a forest full of trees.
After a brief encounter with the local constabulary ("not ‘avin a rave now are you boyo's?” said in a thick Welsh accent), we got the fire going, drank a few more beers, ate, sang, and generally had a very merry time.
There was a word that was reverberating in my head throughout the night and the following day: Precious. This was a precious experience indeed. All of us gathered after such a long time, celebrating in our community and smiling at how we'd all grown up to be such nice people. I found it particularly wonderful to see some old friends who were perhaps not the most assertive teenagers you would have met (myself included) – to see them stand their ground with no concern for the judgement of others was a heartening experience. I really felt very privileged to be a part of the group that night. I was also touched by the sensitivity shown by everyone towards others.
The following morning, having slept for about 4 hours (with the afore-mentioned frequent interruptions by the river) I was up by 9am. Birdsong filled the air, sunlight flooded our camp. I took a walk up through the woods, away from the river to a land of tall pines. Having been brought up in the beautiful countryside of Herefordshire, living in the city (as I do) does make one prone to a deep appreciation of nature on the rare occasions that one is surrounded by it. I took over 120 photos in total, bowled over by the sheer beauty of everything around me. Even the felled trunks had a certain aesthetic something about them.
By lunchtime most of the gang had emerged from their alcoholic slumbers (my hangover was yet to kick in), and we set about doing all sorts of practical tasks. Clearing away the hundreds of empty bottles; washing the pots and pans in the river; chopping endless quantities of firewood (using a bow saw, unlike the campers next to us who'd brought a chainsaw with them!); cooking breakfast, and then, someone had the idea of constructing a bridge across the river. Of course! That was the reason for the inclusion of several bloody good ropes in our kit bags.
It was a complex process, and made me think of those management / team building courses that companies send their employees on - you know, the ones that cost billions of pounds and end up as ITV fly-on-the-wall documentaries. And here we were doing it all for nothing! It was a great fun. Our rope-bridge was a stunning success. It was only later when we decided to construct a REAL bridge using a fallen pine trunk that Marc (the groom) fell in. Tee hee.
That afternoon we went for a stroll, or at least what I thought was going to be a stroll and ended up being a half-marathon. Ok, ok, so I exaggerate, but I'm so unfit. Our destination was the huge 1920's Gwynn Fawr (?) dam at the head of the valley. Very impressive, not only in terms of strength (considering the huge volume of water in the reservoir that it was holding back) but also in terms of the number of green fly that it seemed to attract. I wonder if Ben Allen has got them all out of his hair yet… I seem to remember taking a trip there many years ago, either with my family or with school. It didn't look any smaller now than it did then, so it must be big.
Sadly, that afternoon I had to leave the Stag Camping Weekend early due to an exam I had on Monday. Revision, you know.
Overall it really was a great experience, and one that despite its relatively short 24 hour nature, I know I'll never forget.
But of course that was just the warm-up - this Saturday it's the wedding!
Dislocated shoulder? Pelvic thrusts are the answer...
You may recall that 6 days ago I dislocated my right shoulder. It hurt, a lot, and I was pretty sure that it was going to do it again.
Enter the sports injuries expert, Denise.
Denise is an expert in all things muscular. She sat me down, and asked me to tell her all about my bodily dysfunctions. I did so with great enthusiasm, and then awaited her diagnosis.
It seems that my ‘dislocated shoulder' was actually a dislocated tendon. Oh, makes me squeamish just to think of it. Apparently, one of the tendons that run down your arm actually sits inside a special channel on the inside of your shoulder joint. She reckons that it was this tendon that has been popping out, which would account for the pain and the ease with which I've been able to pop it back in.
The cause? Too much computer work and other activities that result in my arm being extended in front of me for long periods. What's happened is that the muscle on the front side of my shoulder joint has become too strong through being constantly tensed, whilst the muscle on the back of my shoulder joint has become weak through being constantly stretched. The imbalance causes the tendon to pop out at in opportune moments, like when on the loo. I've been given a list of exercises to do twice a day to strengthen this particular muscle, and been recommended to do a course in the Alexander technique to deal with my poor pelvic posture. Pelvic thrusts are what she recommended – honest! Now there's an excuse… I could ask my revision friend if she'd like to help me with my physiotherapy…
This evening was spent debating the merits of taking three toothbrushes into space – in Japanese. Just another day in the life of a Tame Gone Wild.
BUSH vs. GREENPEACE: NOT GUILTY!
Congratulation to all 81,311 of us who have campaigned against the Bush Administration's latest crime against humanity & nature - WE WON!
Last weeks campaign mail:
Isn't that just great? Just goes to show that all is not lost in the fight against the terrorists in power.
I was down the job centre yesterday. Browsing through the latest vacancies wasn't the most thrilling thing I've done this week.
Call Centre Operator:
hours per week.
Hours: 37.5 hours
Hours: 48 Hours over
a 7-day week
Iraq?! I like the way it was listed amongst all the local office jobs! Not sure if I'd be willing to work in support of the army for £3,000 a month. Sounds like suicide if you ask me.
I'm really happy, with life, everything. It's great.
I tell you, it's a pigeon
It must be time to write. I've been getting fan mail demanding more Mumbles. That's the only time I ever do get fan mail – when I stop writing. Having said that, I did get a letter from a complete stranger in Spain this morning. Sadly it wasn't too exciting. He was commenting on something I wrote about my trip to Korea when I accused the occupants of the British Embassy's basement of suggesting that a pigeon was the same as a dove. Such masquerades are wholly unacceptable.
Speaking of unacceptability, did you know that the War-Mad Enviro-Bashing Bush is now on record as declaring his opposition to the Kyoto treaty? What a silly twat. The Kyoto treaty is designed to help us, the human race, to prevent global warming from reaching the stage whereby it has a major impact upon our environment, e.g. the weakening or halting of the thermohaline circulation. The thermohaline circulation is the natural movement of water in the Atlantic Ocean, driven by temperature and salinity, that brings warm water northward and produces a more temperate climate in Northern Europe, including the UK (FOE 2004). What that means is scenes resembling those in the latest Hollywood blockbuster The Day after Tomorrow.
Bush does not see the treaty in this way though – he sees it in terms of finances, votes and corporate support, plus of course keeping his chums at Exxon (Esso) happy. Send him an email (firstname.lastname@example.org or click here for an email that is already written – all you do is add your name and click) to let him know what you think of his abuse of our planet on such a grotesque scale. If, by the way, you are thinking that your one email won't make any difference, think again (see my entry for 20th May, above).
Oh, and if you're American, you may be interested to have a read of his CV – bearing in mind he's standing for election in November. Do us a favour: don't let an unelected candidate get in again. Who knows, if you do that interest in books such as this may drop.
the Mojo strikes again
Closer to home then, what's been going on?
Well, today I spectacularly lost a bet that I'd made with a friend that I wouldn't shag my Japanese friend (whom you may remember from a couple of months back). I'd decided that it was seriously NOT a good idea, for reasons outlined in last month's Daily Mumble (18th April). However, I did resist for 6 hours, and even resorted to tactics such as taking her shopping for potatoes when I felt us getting dangerously close. I think however, my choice of DVD that afternoon was a little unfortunate – a Japanese/ French production that goes by the name of Ai no Corrida. Made in 1976, it was banned upon its release at the New York Film Festival, and has only been available on DVD since the late nineties. For fear of not getting past the Tame Goes Wild sensors I shall have to hold back from providing any more information on the film. However, I will say that it is an artistic masterpiece, but not for the faint hearted. The word Bobbit springs to mind.
So yes, the last 24 hours have been lost to my Mojo. It ended in style with our drive to the railway station: the 2.5 mile journey took one hour. Yep, 2.5 miles per hour, that's slower than the average speed at which people walk. Friday rush hour you know. Still, the upshot of the traffic jams was that I was able to teach my friend the entire Neighbours theme tune. I confess to having a copy of the original version (sung by Barry Crocker) on my hard drive.
Ah I digress. From what I'm not sure, but I digress.
We watched The Sound of Music last night. What a classic. It was in celebration of the planting out of my first six sunflowers yesterday …of which only five remain. The victim, who had all his leaves callously bitten off in the early hours of the morning, sadly did not have the benefit of being fitted with the latest slug-attack prevention device to hit the garden: the Joseph Tame Slug-U-Hater. I invented it at 7.45am yesterday, and by 9.30am had five ready for action. The Joseph Tame Slug-U-Hater is constructed from a dairy-free ice cream tub, a plastic cup and melted wax. I can't tell you any more than that as I've yet to patent it, but I tell you, it's amazing. No slug dares to cross the moat of death that protects my precious little babies.
I think I need a biscuit.
Joseph returned 10 minutes later having eaten 4 pieces of organic toast coated in the organic pear and apple spread that has been lurking in the door of the fridge for over a year. It reminded him of his early Steiner days, when ‘organic' food was a novelty, a funny kind of thing that health freaks ate. Like carob.
This week I've been doing some research into Steiner Education for a presentation I have to give at college early next month. It's been fascinating. Despite having been to a Steiner / Waldorf school I knew very little about the history of the movement, and even less about the philosophy from which its stem (as should be the case).
A few basic facts then:
Reading a basic introduction to Steiner Education makes me feel how right the approach is. This, combined with my experiences at the Hereford Waldorf School and what I have learnt of our state education system of late (essentially, it's run by bureaucrats and managers asking "how much money can we make out of this child?”), confirms for me that to send my children to a state school would be very wrong, and highly detrimental towards their emotional and social development. It also makes me feel that anyone who uses the word ‘kid' instead of ‘child' is committing a crime as serious as calling me ‘Joe' rather than ‘Joseph'.
This then rather neatly leads me on to what I've been meaning to write about for the past 5 days: a most unusual wedding.
Sadly, however, it is now 11pm and I want to watch a DVD, so you shall have to wait for the morrow for more.
one from the archive
Bedtime story: Jessie, mum and me (age 4)
I read with interest this latest report on computer mice...
Click here for a look at the new mouse that these women have found to be so user-friendly
a wedding to remember
Last weekend saw a whole bunch of folks gather on the banks of the river Wye in Herefordshire, to celebrate the wedding of Marc Cove and Angela Dukes. The Weir Gardens (a National Trust property) provided the perfect location for the event, which took place beneath a group of huge leaning trees, inside a circle of blossom. In addition to Marc and Angela's families, six of us from the first class ten at the Hereford Waldorf School were there, plus additional friends who'd had the fortune to become a part of the happy couple's life. Unfortunately a little way into the ceremony Angela, who'd been very ill with a bug for the previous few days, had to have a lie down. Despite the best efforts of family, bottles of water and pharmaceutical companies, the ceremony was brought to an end a little prematurely, with Angela being taken to hospital. I understand she was feeling a lot better the following day, which is more than can be said for me...
We were under strict instructions that despite the lack of a bride and groom we were to go on to the reception and PARTY! I must say that despite the rather bizarre circumstances we got on admirably with the tasks in hand (drinking and eating) and had a bloody good time!! It was all a right laugh actually. I do like that champagne stuff – and great food too. The band, who everyone except me seemed to know, were absolutely brilliant. They really put a smile on my face, you know, when you're in the presence of fluent skill you can't help but grin and think "crikey O'Reily this is fantastic!” It was so nice to catch up with everyone from school, plus get to know some new boys and girls. And eat and drink lots.
Which leads me on to my dream last night: I was going up the river Wye on a floating motorised pillow being attacked by a swan.
At the reception there was a real atmosphere of celebration. Of course there was the celebration of Marc and Angela's wedding; and yet I felt an undercurrent of joy that went far beyond the events of the day. It was a celebration of us moving forward as a community. A celebration of the strong ties between fellow humans that have not been weakened by the passage of time. A celebration of the growth in our knowledge and inner strength, a celebration of hard times overcome and new possibilities embraced.
There was also a little celebration of parents who weren't drinking so they could drive us home.
I believe Marc and Angela are now honeymooning someone in Europe. I hope she's changed her dress as lovely thought it was, it would be a nightmare to travel in (although it did have a built-in train... BOOM BOOM!! (GET HIM OFF!!! BOOOOOO!)...
a little bit of culture
Yes it was off to the theatre I trotted last night, the Tobacco Factory being the beneficiary of my presence. Performing were Gecko, with a stunning show which has been described in the following manner:
If they come to a twon near you, be sure not to miss it.
its just Sex Sex Sex around here
My innate sexual magnetism must be rubbing off on those around me. This morning when inspecting the slug damage to my sunflowers I came across the following two pornographic scenes:
Yes, they're all really at it. For educational reasons, let's have a close up of the snails.
I've never seen bees or snails making love before. Fascinating stuff.
** STOP PRESS - UPDATE ** I have been informed by one of my resident fans The Vicar that the bees are not actually shagging as it's only the Queen that has that pleasure - and that's in mid-air. What they are doing is anyone's guess...