The Daily Mumble December 2004 Archive
December December... what an extraordainary month it was. I was soooooo busy, what with bumping into sexy cranes, fressing up in women's clothing (but without the buttered scones for tea), exam results, Christmas over-indulgencies and sledging, plus of course the shock of the tsunami disaster...
welcome to december
We kick off this month with a little photo-story, courtesy of Tyler.
So, yes, lots has been going on since you last heard from me a whole week or so back. It's all been rather surreal really, in a kind of really surreally surreal type way.
The latest gossip then, as the most loyal mumblers amongst you will already be aware, is that I am no longer a singleton. Yesterday saw me meet a friend on top of the rocky wall that divides the sleepy pastures of Solitary State from the torrid pathways of Coupleville Theme Park. The tea had been brewing since an incident last month involving a box of white wine, and last week, unbeknownst to us at the time, our fate was sealed over two packets of half-price smoked salmon and 6kg of out-of-date chicken breasts. However, it was only after copious amounts of sushi had been made (below left is just a smidgen of the billions that we created), and then sold (below right, Japan Soc at the International Food Evening), that we discovered that we 'needed to talk'. Which we did.
Then we got drunk. Tee hee.
I'm intrigued to know where the relationship will lead as it has managed to weedle itself into existence despite my decision to not get involved with anyone this year. Cunning eh? There must be a reason for it. We'll see. Despite initial concerns related to being distracted from my studies (those being subdued by the fact that she's doing exactly the same course as me) and fear of relationships in general resulting from, well, you know, life and all that, I'm really happy about it all. She's absolutely lovely.
In case you were wondering, I have told her about the mental health warning that is tattooed in invisible ink across my forehead.
Did I tell you that my chest-of-drawers (that's "tansu" in Japanese you know) has collapsed? Yes, the cockroaches finally managed to gnaw through the hinges in a successful escape attempt.
Oh, and I'm going to hitchhike to Romania next March with a budget of £15. All in aid of Charity, Mate.
on a downer
Hello. Feeling somewhat depressed this evening, a novel experience.
Analysis reveals that this could be due to:
My chosen method of dealing with these feelings is to bury my head in study.
Ah! You thought I was gonna say "get drunk" didn't you?!! Well, that would be my normal choice, but about 10 years of experience now tells me that it would undoubtedly end with regret and disappointment. Oh dear, tragic isn't it when you get to the stage when you no longer believe that alcohol can't solve all of life's problems.
As I'm sure you are aware, Wednesday the 1st of December was World Aids Day. Sheffield Uni supported the event, by giving the Arts Tower a giant red ribbon.
The second photo you see is that of one of my teachers, Tanaka Sensei. I think it demonstrates the enormous amount of enthusiasm that our tutors have. As a joke, rather than all sit in straight lines facing the front of the classroom this afternoon we arranged ourselves in a circle. On entering the classroom Tanaka Sensei was a little surprised, but rather than ask us to return our seats to their usual locations, he conducted the entire lesson from the centre of our circle, spinning round on his bum on the floor. Earlier this week, Nagai Sensei baked us some cookies to help demonstrate the usage of giving and receiving verbs. It's these little touches that help to make thsi course so enjoyable.
Ho hum. Well, mood shows no sign of lifting, so I shall leave you be for now. Hopefully I'll be back on track very soon.
on an upper
Oh Yeah! Oh Yeah!! Feelin' Goooooooooooooooodddd in a 180 degree horizontal flip stylEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.
Why? Well, it's Monday Morning, 7 minutes to 9, that's why!! I LOVE Mondays, means I have a whole week of gorgeousness ahead of me!
The second reason is that I am starting to really like the new album by U2 that I bought yesterday. I've had it on repeat play for the last 24 hours to nurture my feelings of affection for it. Didn't like it at all at first, now I would say it's absolutely excellent. Although if I had a choice of spending a romantic evening with either Bono or Bjork I'd still have to go for Bjork.
Another reason for me to feel GREEEEEEEEEEEEAAT as I eat my porridge is that yesterday I came across what is perhaps
Yes, I know, we've already had 2 cranes this month, but I tell you, this was enough to even excite the dead, (probably, can't be sure though for technical reasons).
Is this one big hydraulic erection or what? Capable of lifting 500 tonnes, this Mobile Mother was brought in to remove another crane that had been used to construct a 20+storey building. It was so big and long that not only did it have a FLASHING LIGHT on its end, but it was able to reach right over the top of the new building!
Oh Yeah!! Oh Yeah!! BRING IT ON!!!!!
Joseph, you really should get out more...
It was decided today that myself and my girlfriend would perhaps be better off as friends.
on an even more of an upper upper
Well boys and girls, we're feeling good today. This is for several reasons:
Japan Society Christmas Party
I tell you, I really don't envy women for having to shave their legs on a regular basis. Oh, and armpits too. They still hurt.
Thing was, I felt that as Secretary of Sheffield Japan Society I had to set a good example to members for our fancy dress party. I say fancy dress, but when I sent the email out to members I did say "smart dress also acceptable". On the night, out of 99 people, only three were in fancy dress: myself, Father Christmas (aka Will, the society president) and Masa, a lovely friend of mine who was also dressed up like a darling.
Kathryn was wonderful in helping me get it all together. She bought my eyelashes and fishnet stockings, whilst it was her boa that I used to tie up the hearts of all the lads. The knickers I have my ex-girlfriend to thank for; she accidentally left them here a few weeks back. They were quite a good fit actually (quite elastic), so I think I'll keep them for the next time I run out of clean boxer shorts.
I've had several requests since Tuesday to slip back into my little red number, but I've had to tell them, only once a week.
The quiz went pretty well. In addition to all the usual questions (such as:
we had a few extra difficult ones, such as
- these certainly provoked some debate (click here for answers).
Following the quiz the Committee put on an amazing performance of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Crikey, we must have spent, er, at least 50 minutes devising and practicing the dance routine! It was a right laff so it was.
Overall then, a great success. You know what though, I really don't understand how girls can go out every weekend wearing almost nothing in this freezing weather. My breasts weren't made out of flesh, but even so, they nearly fell off in the cold.
Anyway anyway look I must get on. I have a booking tonight, to appear at a birthday party. I think I'll wear my little black miniskirt. Having put so much effort into shaving my legs it seems a shame not to flaunt them.
some bloody idiot decided it would be a great idea to headbutt me
so yeah, went out tonight to a friend's birthday party. Very nice party it was too with lots of lovely people there to wish Masa and Taka another wonderful year. Anyhow, the party started off at a bar just down the road, and then was due to move to a city-centre nightclub. For various reasons I decided to go to the nightclub a little before the main gang moved on, and it was whilst I was walking there, a distance of perhaps, erm, well, a three minute walk, that some angry, drunk guy with a bunch of mates decided he'd like to headbutt someone. Which he did. I was the one unfortunate enough to be in the vicinity at the time.
My god he must have practicing his headbutting, because he was damn good at it. I was knocked to the floor (tearing my lovely trousers!!! RAAAAA). As soon as I managed to get to my feet he was on me again, and headbutted me for a second time!
It was then that I became aware of the blood. Wounds to the head bleed copiously.. All over my favourite white jacket! Must say though, it wasn't the blood that was concerning me then, it was the guy standing over me who was off his head. I got to my feet again and ran, and ran, not daring to look back. I could hear his mates telling him to leave me alone, but I think he only dropped back when he saw the police.
It wasn't police that I wanted though, it was an ambulance, which was conveniently parked outside the club I'd been on my way to. They were wonderful, although the driver didn't know the way to the accident and emergency department which I thought was quite amusing! As soon as I hit the bed in the ambulance I burst into tears, it was such a shock, and didn't stop crying until long after I'd been parked up in the hospital!
Considering it was a Friday night I think the A & E department did a grand job in seeing me by about 1am. My bandage was soaking the blood up nicely, so I had plenty of time to reflect on how ironic it was that, having shaved my legs just a few days ago for the Christmas party, I ended up in hospital having to show them off due to the injury to my knee I'd sustained!
In the end I had two stitches just above my left eye. The doctor obliged when I asked him to please not stick the needle in my eyeball when he gave me the local anaesthetic. It's actually only a very minor cut, but will scar apparently. The other main injury is to my right shoulder which I must have come down on hard when headbutted as it's red-raw and very badly bruised. But I'll recover within a week, it's no big deal. Just a big shock.
I dunno, what's the world coming to eh?!!
oooh what a lovely colour
isn't it? What a clever body to choose such nice colours. It could have been green, a colour I'm not generally overly fond of when it comes to flesh, but no, my body has chosen an attractive assortment of reddy-purple based tones. They go with the stitches as well, which, in case you can't see the little sweety-pops are blue.
Tell you what though, it's really taken it out of me. I feel utterly exhausted. I think it was the headbutt-that-broke-the-camel's-back. Still, only five days to go then I'm boarding a southerly-bound bus. No more Japan society events to deal with. No major tests for over a month. No more making the cleaners cups of tea on Friday mornings. No more umming and ahing about whether I should have the MMR vaccination in the light of the recent mumps epidemic. No more having to speak bloody Japanese!!
until next month.
female scabs are not eligible for PUDiB
yes, well, it's scabbing nicely. I'm starting to get the urge to pick....
Scabs release a special chemical into the bloodstream that causes one to have the desire to pick them. Now you may think that this would be like shooting oneself in the foot, that is, if one was a scab with a foot. And a gun. Unlikely you may think, but then, you may have thought it unlikely that such a dumb-dumb could become President of the USA for a second term, but it happened. However, further thinking on the problem reveals that in fact if a scab is picked, it actually ensures that its genetic line continues through the ages. When daddy scab (mummy scabs are actually quite rare, due to a lack of a welfare system to support them. Unlike nail-clippings, they are not eligible for Post-Use-Discard Benefit (PUDiB)).. yes, when daddy scab is pulled off, his genitalia are actually left embedded in the top layer of flesh. An automatic sensor then triggers the Give Birth Mechanism, resulting in 200 baby scablets being released upon the surface of the wound. They usually only have a 3% survival rate, although this is sufficient to ensure that a new scab is properly formed. They reach maturity astonishingly rapidly, being capable of producing miniscule scablets within three hours.
Therefore, provided one leaves at least three hours between scab-picking sessions, the chances of raising a multi-generational scab are actually pretty high.
And now for some photos of my flat.
all i want for Christmas is your legs
Now we all know that it's not nice to wake up alone on Christmas day, which is why the Japanese have invented the Lady's Lap Pillow.
The manufacturers insist that this pillow, made of a comfortable foam material, is intended to provide "healing" for the single man, as opposed to excitement...
back in the middle of nowhere
poo. I dropped a book on my keyboard and broke the little plastic springy thing under my backwards arrow button. it's now held on by an ingenious piece of sticky foam which will no doubt fall off just at the critical moment when it's backwards for live and forwards for die. Like standing on the edge of a very big cliff. It's a good job that
Ho hum, so yes, I am now back in my hometown, or rather home-in-the-middle-of-nowhere. You know, when we first bought this house about 19 years ago, we couldn't find it when we returned to move in. That's how in-the-middle-of-nowhere it is. Not a great idea to spend thousands of pounds on something and then lose it. Can't really ask yourself those questions like "where did I last have it?", whilst, "well, it can't have gone far" isn't really applicable. Unless it's a caravan with a mind of its own.
Yes, that's right, I'm tired. I spent 6 hours on a bus today, leaving the cold of Sheffield and exchanging it for the rain of Herefordshire. Bus journey wasn't too bad actually, oh, except for my choice of neighbour. He'd been out the night before - absolutely stank of cigarettes and alcohol. To make matters worse, he spent the whole of the journey trying not to vomit on my legs. Thankfully he was successful.
One stop along the way was Birmingham Central Bus Station. Now you know what British bus stations are like; best to pass through them as quickly as possible without inhaling or making eye contact with any of the people who are licking the dirty grey walls or sniffing coach tyres for no apparent reason.. Well anyway Birmingham is home to just one such Bus Station, so we were hoping for a quick drop-off/pick-up call... but alas, the gods had other ideas. As soon as our bus pulled in, the fire alarms went off, meaning that we all had to get off the coach, traipse through the station and wait outside in the rain, carefully avoiding those people who were busily munching on cigarette butts that had been caste aside by the elite on their way to the railway station.
Once back on the bus, I asked the driver if we'd be able to make up the lost time. "Now if this was a Tornado Fighter Jet I'd say yes, but as it's a Volvo, I doubt it" he told me.
2 hours later I staggered down the steps onto the safety of the solid ground at Hereford Bus Station. "That was a bloody good impression of a Tornado Fighter Jet" I told the driver, before running for a rubbish bin into which I could deposit the cheese sandwich that I'd eaten some 5 hours beforehand.
It was a pretty hectic last few days at Uni.
One night in particular springs to mind when I look back over the madness, the details of which I cannot divulge, but it involved the Police waking me up at 2am to ask me if I was OK, simply because I hadn't been answering my phone that night. Rather ridiculous, but I think it is exceptionally lovely of the person who was trying to call me from London to be so worried about my welfare as to dial 999. having said that, it does remind me of an incident I heard about whereby a university student called for an ambulance; when the paramedics arrived she asked them to go and buy her some paracetamol as she had a headache.
Wine also featured quite prominently, as did having my stitches removed, in addition to the first scab falling off my headwound, revealing a big bloody wound and half an eye-brow missing.
I also went up to the Minor Injuries Unit to have my shoulder checked out - I came down on it pretty hard when headbutted but only noticed after being discharged from Accident and Emergency. In order to check my range of movement they asked me to take my top off and rotate my arm in all directions. With the young nurse standing in front of me I realised that the puzzled look on her face was directed towards my exposed armpits...
"Ah, erm, I don't normally shave them... erm, well, you see, I went to a Christmas Party in fancy dress last week, and well.."
"...Right, I see..." said the nurse, disbelievingly.
There was an atmosphere of sadness and nostalgia on Friday as our last class drew to a close. Over the past few months we have been learning Japanese (partly) by listening to taped recordings of the exploits of two fictitious characters created by our teachers: Bob and Emma.
Bob has had a crush on Emma since they first met at a friend's party. They've been on a couple of dates - but Emma has always been somewhat reluctant to spend time with Bob. Bob, for his part, has tried everything he can to make her happy, but she's been pretty cold in return. However, on Friday, he finally plucked up the courage to ask, in a shockingly direct manner, "Emma, will you be my girlfriend?".
There was a tense silence that seemed to go on forever... all we heard was the squeak of the tape-player's motor... and then Emma's voice, "Yes! Ok then!"
I almost started crying I was so happy for Bob. Yes, I know he's not real, but you know, when you've followed someone's life so closely for so long, well, it's only natural that you get attached! Take me and you for instance. Imagine if I was to suddenly die tomorrow. Now, even though I'm not real (Joseph Tame is actually just a creation that I, a sad, personality-less computer geek called Gary came up with one day).. well, you'd probably be a bit sad. And so it was with Bob, I felt so attached to him that my heart reached out through the outer casing of the cassette player, became absorbed into the magnetic tape and through that into Bob's soul.
However, we have been warned that next semester Bob and Emma may experience a few difficulties in their relationship - I can't wait to start classes again.
So, a month's holiday ahead of us now. No, hang on, it's actually going to be 7 weeks until we start lectures again. I have a 4-hour exam on the 19th of January and a 2-hour exam on the 27th January interrupting my playtime, but that's all.
However, don't get the idea that this means that I will be spending hours and hours mending the thousands of broken links within the Photos section of Tame Goes Wild (don't tell me, you hadn't even noticed!), for I am in demand. The girls over at the Welsh Garden Project Site (you may recall I have worked there for the past two summers) are demanding that I clean their kitchen, something that I was intending to do tomorrow... until mum and dad asked me if I'd help them put their new greenhouse up. Well, I can't really say no can I, they are my parents after all, and actually, I'd really like to help them out. I helped dad put his first greenhouse up oh so many years ago, so it will be a nice case of history repeating.
Well I'm getting a wee bit weary, so I think I'll be off. Before bedtime I have to mourn the passing of the little bit of plastic from under my backwards arrow button, and be careful not to stand on the edge of a cliff with my finger plugged into one of my laptop's USB ports.
laying the foundations
my study regime has got off to a great start. Did a few hours work with dad this morning in the garden, them before I knew what was happening I was whisked off to a Sunday Afternoon Christmas Party at the home of ma and pa's best friends down in the valley, where I got completely plastered on red wine. Despite the fact that i was the only one under the age of 47 (I kid you not) I had a really good time. This past year I've started to finally feel that actually old people are not a different species, but in fact are just like us young-uns, only a bit older. That's no lie by the way: these are genuine feelings that I communicate. Makes me far less fearful of growing old.
Once home I went straight to bed (it was 5.30pm), then woke up and watched a Japanese film, "Unagi" (The Eel), which I really liked.
exciting photos of the foundations of Dad's new greenhouse that I'm helping him build this week
It's really lovely being back here in Orcop. Today, as I stood on top of a compost-heap full of worms, I surveyed the surrounding gardens, fields and valley. One thing that struck me was how, in the 18 or so years since we first moved here, the surroundings have changed very very little. From our garden not a single new house can be seen, just pure un-violated countryside, complete with dairy farms and hedgerows.
I miss the countryside. I miss the birds in particular. Mum and Dad's garden is a haven for the little two-winged tweeters, what with its numerous bags of fatty food, bird-boxes and large pond in which they can (and do) wash themselves (that's the birds by the way, not mum and dad - they tend to use the bath in the house). This morning I spent ages following a flock of starlings wheel and turn as one... how do they do that? Amongst them was one pure white starling - something I've never seen before. It shone out like a dove amongst a group of ravens. But was obviously smaller. And wasn't being pecked to death as a dove amongst a group of ravens might be.
The bright sun and freezing temperature took me back to Hokkaido once again, to the place I was on about last month (Shin Shizen Juko). Meanwhile, working with dad in the garden took me back to North Yorkshire, where I'd also be happy to play about in the mud planting potatoes. All in all, it was one big nostalgia trip.
Anyhow, I must get on with my study. Five hours a day I'm supposed to do. It's now 9:57pm. Last night I was up until 3am doing translation, so with a repetition of that routine I can stick to my plan. Or, at midnight I could decide that the film was actually homework, listening practice you know.
something about ears
it's odd not being on Broadband having got used to it. At uni I have a free 10mbps cable connection that's always on, with my laptop set to check for new emails every sixty seconds. Here in Orcop we have a 56k dial-up connection, which costs. I feel like I've lost a limb. Coupled with this is the fact that there is no signal for my keitai (mobile phone) here, and unless I walk about two miles up the road I won't find one. I did look under the stairs, but mum must have thrown it out. So, that's no email, and no mobile, AND almost no-one knows I'm here, and of those people that do know I'm here, very few know my parent's phone number, and of them, none have any reason to phone me. The only person who does have a good reason to phone me is the man from my insurance company. My camera that was stolen last month has STILL not been replaced (thus the crappy keitai-shots seen above) RAAAAAAA, but there is a chance that I can get a higher spec model if I'm patient, oh yes, I can feel a 7.2 mega pixel Sony Cybershot coming my way...
I've been so good today though. Shifted a tonne of earth for the 'rents, in preparation for the Big Day tomorrow when the first bits of the greenhouse proper go up. Forecast is good, and I'll try to go to bed early so I wake up before midday. Oh, I had my first bath in 3 months this evening - I kid you not. Was lovely. However, I find baths very boring really, so positioned my laptop on the toilet and watched a lovely Studio Ghibli film, Mimi wo Sumaseba (something to do with ears). I'm amazed at how much I can understand (and no, it's not in English!).
I inadvertently picked my facial-wound-scab whilst halfway through my marathon study session this afternoon. It's healing nicely, but I am a little concerned that my eyebrow will not return. I guess I could get some hair grafted from my head. Oh, speaking of hair, you'll be pleased to know that the hair is slowly returning to my armpits, legs and nipples following the Christmas Party. You know, I've always wondered - how does hair know when it needs to grow? I mean, the hair on my legs is growing at quite a rate - but you can't tell me that it always does that, otherwise I'd end up looking like a bear. When your leg hair reaches a certain length is a message sent back to the root of the follicle to say "Ok, you can stop growing now!"? Answers on a postcard please.
I had another article printed in a pretend magazine this week. It included a few photos of myself and friends that I'd totally forgotten about. Ho hum, you know, it's after incidents like that that I start getting love letters from Thai men who want us to "stroke each other like brothers"; regular Mumblers, you'll know what I mean. It's ages since I got any such correspondence, and I must admit, I do miss it.
Oh, anyway, I wasn't really intend to get involved with you folks today, but you know, you are just so damn lovely you seduced me into tapping away, with the occasional curse when I hit the backwards arrow key and end up going just that little bit too far.
Someone said it's Christmas on Saturday?! What's all that about then? I must admit that the powerful cocktail combination of an aversion to organised religion following a scary Catholic upbringing, an allergy to consumerism (but it's gonna have 7.2 mega pixels!) and the fact that the country I'm so obsessed with doesn't celebrate it properly means that I don't feel much inclination to celebrate it at all. Go ahead, call me Scrooge - does this face look like it cares? I feel similarly apathetic about New Year, and to a certain extent, my birthday, which, for those of you who are obviously on another planet is on January 13th. I've never been one for Birthday parties - coming up with a guest list for my 14th was so traumatic that since then I've been unable to face them. It wasn't so much a case of who SHOULD I invite, more who COULD I invite, being Joseph no-mates and all. Well, that's not entirely true actually. It was more down to the fact that I was shit-scared of women until the age of 19 and hated my haircut from the age of 5. Only today, when I told mum I was going to shave my hair in the living room (as I did), she asked me, "do you want me to get the pudding basin out?" [I've always wondered, after a sentence like the on preceding this one, should I have a full-stop outside of the quote marks, in addition to the question mark within them?].
So anyway, to those of you who have been kind enough to send me Christmas cards, my thanks. Despite not sending them myself I do actually appreciate receiving them, especially if a) we've never met before, or b) we haven't seen each other for ages or c) I like you. If you fall into category d) however, thankyou, we'd run out of firelighters.
Anyway look I'm trying to sign off here so will you stop drawing me in with that inane look of gorgeousness that so characterises you when online.
Caw, I could really do with a really nice sausage smothered in a rich layer of organic mustard.
It's tough being a vegan sometimes.
oh it felt SO DAMN GOOD!!!
Last June I spent a few days hacking away at a veritable forest of brambles and blackthorn somewhere in the middle of Wales. Despite wearing a pair of thick cow-skin gloves, one afternoon a thorn managed to pierce my flesh and imbed itself deep inside my finger. That night I attempted to dig it out with a needle - but was unable to find the thing.
Every month since then I have dug into my finger to extract the thorn, and every month I have had to give up when no amount of skin-piercing jabbing would reveal the location of the little blighter.
December has seen me becoming increasingly aware that I have had a foreign object located amidst the living flesh. My finger started to hurt whenever pressure was applied. Excited by the possibility that the thorn was making it's way to the surface, I once again explored my innards with a great big sewing needle.
There I was just practicing my Kanji, as shown in this sexy photo...
...when suddenly the urge to dig into my finger with my Swiss Army Penknife completely overwhelmed me. I grabbed the blade, and thrust it hard into the flesh... through the layers of skin, down into the bloody gore that was causing me such grief, like an intolerable itch on your back just where you can't reach...
Removing the knife, I squeezed the wound with all my might, and to my delight, a big ball of puss burst onto the surface. Encouraged by this, I gave another tremendous squeeze, and look what came shooting out from the depths...
Almost better than sex it was. Almost.
Ladies and Gentlemen, may I introduce The Sony DSC-P150
Well, after a tragic month of having no digital camera to play with other than the pile of poo attached to the back of my mobile, yesterday I took delivery of the latest bit of sexy Cybershot hardware to hit the high-street. Following the theft of my last camera from a mate's car, my insurance company came up trumps by allowing me to negotiate a deal with the lovely lady who works for the company that dispatches replacement cameras. The result of this is that my camera has been upgraded to the very latest model, completely free-of-charge.
This new baby, the P150, packs in a whapping 7.2 megapixels, and has a whole load of features that my old one didn't have. Take the macro-mode for example - it works as close as 6cm (great for shots of fingers with holes in). It also has a Manual setting, something I've always wanted from a digital camera. It also has a grey piece of string attached to it - what more could you ask for.
I like playing with long-exposures, like these:
joseph, meet joseph
Ok, so maybe it's not art, but it's fun.
I wonder what actually happened to my old camera? Thing is, without a battery charger the person who stole it couldn't actually use it - and those chargers are a pain to get hold of. I put my email address on the Memory Stick inside it when I bought it. I wonder if the thief will contact me asking for the charger?
I'm going to me brother's tomorrow.
I'm going to bed now though so RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
Happy Christmas Eve everybody.
I've been duped!
It was pointed out to me tonight that the 5th photo in the series at the top of this page (the crane story) is actually a forgery, created in Photoshop no doubt. can't believe I didn't spot it myself!
A Merry, Merry White Christmas
Yes, I had a lovely time down here in Devon with me brother Stephen, Louise, the boys and friends.
The main themes have been eating, drinking and generally getting in a bit of a mess. It will take me a good few days to recover. Oh, but then it's New Year and I'll have to do it all over again...
Anyway, rather than bore you with itty bitty details of what I've been up to, I shall present you with a few photos.
Well, that's just a few highlights of my Christmas. I've actually added a few videos of the sledging time-trials to TGW (over here) - but they may not be uploaded for a week or so as I currently have no Broadband Access. There's loads more photos too in my December photo album - currently 150 of them, spread across 9 pages... (here)
I used to believe that one day people would stop killing people. I used to believe that one day (wo)mankind would have become such a master of controlling his (her) environment that natural disasters would become relegated from front-page headlines to forgotten historical archives.
This week's events in the Indian Ocean have served to further strengthen the attitude that has been rising within me for the past few years - that the killing WILL never stop, and that man will never be able to control the environment. Horrendous events which see tens of thousands killed will never be a matter for historians alone - they will continue year after year, decade after decade, century after century, just as they always have done. Last year we had the earthquake in Iran which killed 30,000. There has been the horrendous killings in Africa, the decimation of of a country and the murder of thousands of its people by the US (backed up by the UK) in the Gulf, SARS, the explosion of a train in North Korea leaving countless casualties..
I always thought that as mankind became more "advanced" these sorts of events would become fewer and further between. However, as this week's earthquake (measuring 9 on the Richter scale) and the resulting tsunami have demonstrated, we will never be a match for Mother Earth's natural forces.
As many millions of people worldwide have also demonstrated through their aggressive actions, mankind's desire for control and power, and his choice to gain both through violence, will never wane. One would think that we would have learnt from the Romans (or any of the other major historical power) that one can never bring lasting peace through war - but no, it seems that that is not the case - we persist in pursuing our goals through these bloody means.
This week's events are truly awful. The suffering caused to the tens of thousands living on the coastline of the Indian Ocean is indescribably dreadful - but should we be surprised? I think not. It is but another stage of the Earth's natural evolution, and just another part of man's evolutionary struggle.
Death is inevitable, and, as has been shown so graphically, can come to tens of thousands in the space of a few minutes.
This for me is a reinforcement of the idea that one should live for today, not tomorrow, and that one should bring as much happiness to others during one's brief stay on Earth as possible.
Shocking isn't it? Everyday the death toll has risen not by the hundred, or thousand, but by tens of thousands.
I find it difficult to deal with the 'reality' of it all (and I'm not even one of the millions directly affected), and so have avoided the news as much as possible. I listened to the radio for about ten minutes yesterday, but that was about as much as I could take. I've made a donation - as I hope you have. If you haven't, it only takes a couple of minutes online, and there are many charities you can donate to...
In the UK The Disastors Emergency Committee is co-ordinating fund-raising efforts: make a donation here:
0870 60 60 9000
Donations can also be made over the counter at all UK banks and Post Offices
Internationally there are many charities organising aid for countries affected by the Tsunami. One such charity is the UN Children's Fund: www.unicef.org.uk
what's an appropriate reaction?
In just 12 hours the death toll rises from 80,000 to 120,000.
On a 'positive' note, the reaction of the UK public, that's me and you, has been astonishing. In the past 48 hours we have donated 25 million pounds, and that's not including payments made at banks, Post Offices or by snail mail.
Shame on governments around the world for not following suit. Their pledges have been appallingly small. The amount of money donated by the administration behind the largest national economy in the world totals less than 0.4% of the amount that they have spent on killing people in Iraq over the past 18 months or so. How dare they invest billions of dollars in causing bloodshed, on the premise that it is an appropriate response to the deaths of a few thousand on September 11th - and then essentially say "it's not our problem" when a tragedy of such epic proportions occurs. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that the lives of those killed in the Twin Towers are worth any less than those of the victims of the Tsunami - but I am sure that you understand my point when one takes into consideration the comparitive scale of the two events.
Like I said this morning, I've been avoiding the news as much as possible. But tonight, I was drawn in by that sick human instinct to learn of the suffering of others. I watched the BBC news for about 15 minutes. I am grateful that unlike in some countries, our news is sanatised. British television news companies seem to understand where to draw the line when it comes to reporting events such as these. Either that or they are closely regulated.
My God some places really do resemble Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Entire towns completely wiped from the map. Well, you all know the stories.
I am sure I am not alone in feeling guilty for having survived. Yes, I know I was thousands of miles from the Tsunami, but I am human, and I am on Earth, so just like you, I have a connection with the 120,000+ that were killed and the thousands more that will die in the next few weeks and months as a result of the earthquake. I am sure that guilt at having survived will feature prominently in the hearts and minds of those survivers who were in the direct path of the tsunami. Giving money is not enough. This is a huge wound, one which we must all find our own way to help heal.
It is difficult to know where to place the knowledge of the week's events in one's mind, as someone of my age has no experience of anything outside of myth and fantasy that is comparable. There are no guidelines, this is entirely uncharted territory. It belongs in the realms of Hollywood. Yet I have a fear that it is inevitable that as I grow older so this category of memories will grow considerably in order to accommodate tragic events that are on a similar scale. If history is anything to go by, it is highly improbable that this won't occur.
All a bit grim I know, but there you go, such is our destiny me thinks.
Which is why its so important to live for today.
And not watch films with Nicholas Cage in because I really can't stand his bloody accent and attitude. Always thinks he's such a smart arse.
end of the year
amazing actor My Arse.
Sorry, bit distracted by some program about the new Nicholas Cage movie that's on TV. National Treasure. The remote control is on the table, and I'm sitting on the sofa, so I can't turn the TV over. Oh crikey just watching this program makes me want to puke.
so, yes, end of the year. hhmm, quite a fun twelve months really. what have I done?
- Quit my job as a data Scrutiny Analyst at the Electricity Company. Woops, shouldn't say that, might get in trouble with the tax office. What I meant to say was that my contract was terminated due to the project coming to an end.
- Finished my college course with flying colours, used as an example student in college prospectus.
- Spent the summer gardening and throwing up on a scaffolding tower.
- Started at uni, met lots of lovely people, did bloody well on course etc etc.
Well, enough about all that. What about the nitty gritty important stuff?
Well, I pretty much succeeded in maintaining my singleton status, as planned. For the first 8 months of the year this was largely thanks to my Japanese "friend" who lived in London. Shag Buddy I think is the technical term. September saw a drunken episode that was a bit of a surprise... and then there was the alcohol induced happenings of December, where I found myself getting quite scared as it was like a real live relationship, the likes of which I hadn't seen since about spring 2003. So yes, that only lasted for a week or so, sort of. The Christmas spirit (usually 11%abv) weakened our resolve a few times, but I assure you, I'm back on the straight and narrow now.
I say that, but I tell you, over the past week or so, the romantic christmas season that is, well, I've been feeling increasingly lonely and in need of falling in love and all that malarky.
hhmm, ho hum, sure I'll get over it.
Thank you very much for all of your support over the past year. Thank you for tuning in. Thank you.
See you in 2005