Sunday, January 29, 2006

Feathered Friends

It always makes my day when I see a bird species for the first time. It's been quite a while since that happened. So on Friday morning I was really pleased when I saw a group of redwings foraging about on Ealing Common while I was walking from the tube station to my office. I got pretty close to them and they didn't seem bothered. They are very bright and breezy little creatures. They don't breed in Britain except in the Scottish Highlands, but they visit during winter when it gets too cold in their native Scandinavia.

My previous sighting of a new species was a few months ago when there were a pair of dunnocks in our garden. They were chasing and pecking each other which is something peculiar they do as part of courtship.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Caff Culture

I would like to bid a fond farewell to a local caff called "Cappucino" in Wimbledon Broadway, which has recently closed down.

It wasn't particularly salubrious, actually it was slightly grimy. I only went there a few times. But it always delivered what was required after a late night out, which was of course a breakfast the size of Estonia.

But the best thing about it, which I will miss most, was the advertising blackboard they had outside which offered something called "Mixed fried up" containing among other things "Musherooms" and "Harsh brauns". This sign always made me chuckle when I walked past it every day.

This kind of idiosyncratic place is fast disappearing from our town centres, especially Wimbledon, which was recently shown to be the most homogenous and boring high street in the whole of London. I can see why, as it is almost entirely dominated by the same chain stores you see everywhere.

I now actively seek out and use smaller independently run shops. The people who work in them often own them, which means they are more concerned that you should have a good experience when visiting. The average worker in Tesco or whatever couldn't care less if you like shopping there (and I can't say I blame them, given the pay they probably get). It means you get to know people in the local area, and the act of shopping or eating out becomes more than just a transaction of money for goods and services; you can help keep your local area dynamic and individual.

Oh, and I also find bad grammar and spelling on public display like that really funny for some reason. A bit annoying as well, but mostly just amusing. I've got a few good examples of that for future posts.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

You're so Vanian

I feel sorry for The Damned. I mean the band, not the actual damned. By definition, we don't have any sympathy for them. And even if we did, nothing good would come of it.

Anyway, The Damned. They seemed to inhabit too many musical worlds at once for their own good, and I feel they never quite got the recognition they deserved in any of them. Too melodic for punk, too experimental for pop, too witty for goth.

Listening to The Black Album yesterday, I decided that it's one of the Best Albums Of All Time. It has some incredibly strong songwriting on it, which isn't something you readily associate with punk, the genre they are normally plonked in. Well it certainly brightened up my rainy trudge to Ealing Common station yesterday evening.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Serial killers

TV serialization in the UK has had something of a resurgence in recent years, with series like 24 and Lost.

Part of the enjoyment of these kinds of programmes are cliffhanger episode endings, which makes us look forward to the next episode. The delay, the having to wait a week, is all part of the excitement. There is heightened enjoyment from delayed gratification. Another enjoyable aspect is discussing the programmes with work colleagues and friends.

So I really can't understand why people ruin it for themselves by downloading loads of episodes and watching them all in a row. Well, some people seem to just like feeling superior because they have seen it before the rest of us. But they are missing out on a really fun part - the shared cultural experience. OK, I know it's only TV, but you know what I mean.

But also, they ruin it for the rest of us by openly discussing future episodes and revealing spoilers for people who haven't seen those episodes yet. I always find myself asking people to please stop talking about the middle of series two of Lost when I am still watching series one.

Normally I feel justified asking people to not talk about episodes that haven't yet been shown on terrestrial TV. But this week I screwed up and forgot that Lost was a series finale double episode on Channel Four. I only recorded the first of the double, so I still haven't seen the very last episode. I will have to wait for the repeat on Sunday. (By my own argument I suppose I should feel even more excited about that rather than annoyed).

So because of my mistake I spent a fair amount of time in the office wearing my headphones and playing the loudest, most intrusive music I could find on my MP3 player, so as not to ovehear the conversations that have inevitably been going on about the series ending. Well anyway the music was good!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Hot Runes?

You may be wondering what the title of this blog means. Well, it is the name of a track by The Fall, from their album The Unutterable released in 2000. It's not the best track on the album by a long chalk, that would be "Hands Up Billy".

Monday, January 09, 2006

Blogness will be mine

At last, I have got around to creating my own blog.

I have been inspired by reading friends' blog sites, and now I think it is time for me to get writing.

So here it is. Hopefully someone will find something useful and thought provoking here. Only time will tell.