Friday 9.45am - Musings from a Summer Patio
News headline running across the bottom of the screen on the BBC News Channel: The Flame is processing its way down the Thames. Processing what?
Obviously, my current obsession is being woken up at a fucking ridiculous time of the morning by inconsiderate wankers. However, this morning I got up at 8.30 because Lexy decided to bark her orange head off for some reason, so I’ve got it internally and externally; I should take a nap in the afternoon. Anyhow, I had washing to hang out and the heavy earth moving machinery over the back was limbering up for a morning of noise, when I noticed that Ness had wrapped herself around my legs like a bizarre legwarmer. I could understand why, one of the machines sounded like a retarded yodeller being squeezed through a mangle while tripping his tits off on LSD. Have the people who look after these machines never heard of oil? Anyhow an hour and a half of this alien sound stopped shortly after 9am; presumably they’re having a tea break now, or maybe have achieved what they really set out to do and piss me off.
Does the Olympic village look a little like an open air airport departure lounge or is it just me?
I have to admit that while I’m not really in the Olympic mood (I watched Team GB draw a dull match with Senegal last night and fear we’re all going to become footballed out before too long; there were four different matches on simultaneously last night!), I am sort of intrigued by the Opening Ceremony. I remember my first one in colour – Munich 1972. I watched it on Joan Pitt’s colour TV because we still had a mono set. ‘Auntie’ Joan and her husband Slim were one of the constants in my young life; a friendly couple from Birmingham (but don’t hold that against them) who, as far as I know are still going strong, despite probably being close to 80 now. I don’t think the wife is particularly thrilled though; she sat, grumpily, doing a crossword book last night while I struggled to stay asleep, I mean awake through the football (with its really strange replays). Last night would have all been different had Roger not been such a wuss.
Today, I have some hovering to do; I should go to the bank and pay in a couple of cheques I have and I need to get the place sorted because we’re going shopping later. Sometimes I can see why so many of you read this, I live such a James Bond existence sometimes.
I am also dicing with the proverbial Desmond (old joke, not worth explaining) by sitting here with the sun directly on my back. Yes, today might be the last day of summer, so I’m going to burn to remind myself of this fact!
I’m not a huge fan of Morrisons, but they do an own brand Sicilian lemonade that is to die for; it’s perfect for this weather.
The project is coming along. I hit the 7,000 word mark last night as I sat here, on the patio, until gone 11pm, writing like a frenzied wassname. I also got to a weird stage in the story. I‘ve been bridging the gap between the beginning and the moment when things get revealed; getting excited about writing the big reveal because I’ve had so many ideas going through my head I’ve been mentally salivating at the prospect. At 11.07 last night, I got to that point and froze. Actually froze is the wrong word; stalled is better. I fully expect to get on with it today, but I think I stopped because I can see this particular section as being both long and quite difficult to write and I didn’t want to start it and then look at the clock, see it had gone 2am and make myself go to bed rather than work through it. I don’t do that anymore; it’s not good for one’s health.
The BBC is still saying ‘processing’, I’m now wondering if they actually mean it.
As I said the other day, I’m reading George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones at the moment and, to be fair, it’s better than I expected. I think I was going to read a bit of above average fan fiction, so was surprised at the way it actually was written. However, I have one strangely Victorian problem with it. I accept that the world of GoT is medieval, reminiscent of the Dark Ages and has a different ‘culture’, but Martin seems slightly obsessed with pre-teen sex and nudity; or at least the inference of it. No wonder the TV series has ‘aged’ most of the young characters.
I’ve never really doubted that Ed Balls is one of the least liked politicians in the country, but I thought it was because he was a bit of an arse, not because he is an extremely clever political powerhouse. I believe the best party’s in opposition are the ones that, regardless of the past, come up with the best ideas to solve problems, before the government can even consider it. It’s like a really detailed game of chess; the Tories would never adopt a Labour suggestion, so if Labour comes up with a logical solution and publicise it, it leaves the party in power having to come up with a different strategy lest give credit to the party in opposition. It doesn’t really help the economy, but it does prove that opposition parties can actually have a hand in day-to-day politics. What he needs to do now is actually come up with a workable plan that cuts budgets and also invests in infrastructure.
Next week, I’m going to do away from home stuff. I could have been away doing interesting things, but I opted against that on the grounds that I haven’t been well recently and it might have been an attempt at being young again too far. So I might be making a film (as an extra purely). I think I shall attempt to go to the pub at least twice. Might drop some old friends a line. I got to pay some money into the bank (still). I can see a week of extreme excitement ahead of me and the weekend isn’t here yet.
I have this horrible feeling this might be the last time I do this sitting on the patio writing shit for at least a week, sadly probably longer as I will be on holiday and hoping I can get through that week without worrying about the house sitter too much; his only responsibility is to let the ducks out in the morning and put them away before it gets dark… Shouldn’t be difficult, should it?
Okay, as British spectacles go the opening ceremony of the Olympics was pretty impressive, if not considerably less disciplined than Beijing. This probably had more to do with the fact that Danny Boyle couldn’t imprison anyone who stepped out of line for the rest of their lives.
To call the Opening Ceremony eccentric would be an understatement; it was full of the world-renowned British quirkiness we’ve exported since Shakespeare and at times I felt so proud to be British. Plus there were elements – such as the forging of the rings – which were inspired madness; but I couldn’t quite understand the relevance of having Great Ormond street/NHS sections – not only did they not seem to fit into the theme; they also were the most chaotic and the merging with children’s classic literature, for me, didn’t work. I was delighted to hear the opening music to the show though – Olympians by Fuck Buttons – wonderfully subversive.
But, my pride was seeing me through. However, when Seb Coe and Jacques Rogge (now, surely a famous Belgian) began the speeches; I couldn’t help but think the set looked vaguely tatty; like a bit of scrap land next to a housing estate rather than Britain’s green and pleasant lands. Instead of projecting this image of clean and serene, it sort of looked like two men in suits announcing there would be a competition, while trying not to get cow shit on their shoes.
And, then the Queen came on looking bored – as she had done throughout the ceremony. I don’t know what the three BBC commentators – Huw Edwards, Trevor Nelson and Hazel Irvine – were on but every time Liz was in shot, there they were saying she was watching avidly, while at one stage she seemed more interested in picking her finger nails than watching anything going on in front of her. Those three presenters must also have been a compromise by the Beeb; a newscaster, a sports presenter and a middle-aged black man presumably representing yoof culcha. I don’t know which of the three was most irksome, but the wife nominated Nelson, before she went to bed, as being subliminally racist.
Then the rot set in. My patriotism had begun to wane just as the part I used to relish most as a kid started – the parade of athletes. Made it to Paraguay and lost it. The next country I remember was Qatar; so I might not have missed any at all, but as I sat there, forgetting I could rewind live TV, trying to work out what countries there were between Par and Qa, I dozed off again and suddenly Venezuela were parading in front of me. I decided that perhaps I’d stay awake watching it on the PC in my office; so I waited until Team GB came out and then switched everything off and dashed upstairs for the finale and the wind had gone out of my sails by then. I watched the finale, but also took goes at Scrabble; checked emails and generally had a nose about looking at what others were thinking. My conclusion was it was held too late.
But Saturday morning has arrived and the realism of the next 16 days suddenly hit home. I was bitterly disappointed when I discovered we would have no TV for our week away; now I’m thinking it’s not going to be much different even if we had a TV, because the schedules are so full of the Olympics and repeats of shit programmes I didn’t watch first time around that might get a lot more writing and reading done in the coming days. Look, I’m glad we have them, but I’m not really that enamoured by them. I can take them or leave them and I appear to be erring on the side of leaving them. But whatever else I do, there’s a tinge of Olympicism in it all. The coverage isn’t so much blanket as smothering and the impression is those in charge are saying if you don’t want the Olympics then fuck off you miserable bastard.
The bonus is, despite the weather about to go tits up on us again as the jet stream moves south dumping more rain and cool conditions on us; today, the transition day, is proving to be glorious; possibly the most glorious day of the week so far. Hot sun, fresher feel; in my opinion the perfect summer morning. It’s a bonus sitting in the garden writing day and you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth (which is another wonderfully peculiar British saying).
I’ve just been doing something hopefully very scrummy. I’ve just put a pound of raspberries and all the gooseberries off of our two bushes into a saucepan with some sugar and have made some shortcrust pastry. I am going to make a pie. I’ve debated whether I should perhaps put some rhubarb in it too, but have opted against.
We’re off to a garden party/bbq thing later, round One El’s; that should be good if the weather stays as good as it is; last week’s bbq weather was good, but had it been any later in the week and I think we would have wanted ice cream rather than grilled food. Not that I eat much at bbqs now.
It seems, through a quick perusal of the net and TV that with the exception of my old pal Mark, I’m probably going to be in the minority regarding the Olympic opening doo-dah; even Grace Dent, who at one point seemed like the logical replacement for uber-cynic Charlie Brooker is welling up on BBC News and I’m wondering if I’m just too bloody cynical nowadays.