Feedroll proves disappointing

I’m disappointed to see that the new RSS feed on my website doesn’t seem to update very quickly. This post is really just to see whether I can provoke it into doing something…

Updated personal website

Now its the turn of my own website. I’ve done the redesign and finished the work-releated pages. Some of the other stuff – local politics and so on – is not done yet but Ive decided to go ahead and upload the new site because the old version was horribly out of date, and even in its unfinished state I think the new one is better.

Comments on the doodle that decorates the page headings would be welcome. I cant decide whether it’s a good idea or not.

Renoir landscapes at the National Gallery

Monet is better! Really Renoir should have done figures all along. (They show two early works of theirs side by side and it’s obvious.) But some of Renoir’s work is very good – especially later ones with less distracting stuff in them, just lots of vegetation.

Sometimes it looks as though he has turned up the Shadows/Highlights filter in Photoshop too high – shadow areas aren’t deep enough and they’re too blue.

[ We actually went to this exhibition a week ago last Saturday, but I haven’t fully got into the blogging habit yet so it only just occurred to me that it’s the kind of thing I could post. This is transcribed from my notebook entry at the time. ]

The personal and the public: 10 years on

Ten years ago we brought down the Government, and then we got married. It was a very happy time, all in all. Lots of things are conspiring just now to bring it all back, and to remind us how long it’s been.

There’s Tony Blair’s resignation, of course (I could write a long essay on all the emotions that produces. Maybe another time. I guess there are enough of those essays about at the moment – you don’t need me to add to them).

And this morning I got an email from a friend who did one of the readings at our wedding (a few lines about marriage taken from Four Quartets), asking for a pointer to the text so that he could read it again at someone else’s. So I dug the wedding script out again and spent a happy half-hour wallowing in nostalgia.

Andrew has just installed MediaWiki here so that we can have our own household wiki, for shopping lists and so on — mundane stuff, mostly. (Much cursing during the installation process, which seemed to require a complete OS upgrade on our fileserver. Why are these things always so hard?). So this morning I put the wedding script in as the first page. Seemed a good starting point.

Doesn’t time fly?

Must be Spring

Everyone I know who has a blog seems to have written a new entry in it over the past few days; even those who hadn’t written anything for months. Perhaps they had time because of the Easter holiday.

I’ve started something new too, though in my case it’s displacement activity (I’m writing text for a book and I have to deliver it in a couple of weeks’ time): I’ve finally got tired of being an anonymous editor, and have created myself a Wikipedia account. I was stuck for ages on choosing what to call myself. Naming is so hard to get right.

There is a Posy Simmonds cartoon strip about displacement activities called “Nine to Five”, an ancient copy of which, cut from a newspaper, I’ve just located (the search for it was, of course, a displacement activity in itself). I’m just wrestling with my conscience about copyright issues. I’d love to post a scan of it. As far as I know, it’s no longer available for purchase or download.


I’ve always ignored del.icio.us because of its silly name (though perhaps as the Managing Director of Little Pink Cloud Ltd I should be less snobbish about such things). Anyway, today I found out that it’s useful. So I’ve started to use it.

Time should leave scars

I lost one of the small sapphires from my engagement ring a few days ago. On closer examination it appears that the ring is quite worn, which is probably why the stone fell out. I wear it all the time alongside my wedding ring so the gold must gradually have abraded.

It must be repaired, of course, but we don’t want the incident to leave no trace. Time should leave scars. The posh assistant at Catherine Jones was rather shocked at our request but the customer is always right – so they are busy on the phone at the moment looking for non-matching replacement stones. The best candidate so far is a pink sapphire.

Planning blight

This is what happens to urban areas when there is a grand plan – something that might involve demolishing existing buildings – under discussion but not decided upon (perhaps there’s a dispute over planning permission or there are problems finding the money). The motivation to maintain the existing buildings and streetscape is lost. What’s the point, when it’s all going to be pulled down soon? Things gradually decay. You can see it at the moment in Cambridge in the area around the railway station.

Recently I’ve realised that planning blight can happen on a domestic scale too, and that in fact our own house and garden have got a bad case of it. Ever since we moved into this house (2001) we’ve known that we wanted to make radical changes. (We bought it because of its location.) This culminated last year in a scheme to demolish the whole thing and start again. I was quite enamoured of the idea for several months and am only gradually being persuaded out of it by my more cautious other half.

Meanwhile none of the over-counter lighting in the kitchen works any more.


Consulting a hairdresser for advice can be daunting, but this time it was a refreshingly straightforward experience.

I like my hair the way it is, mostly: long and usually fastened up. It’s no bother like that, and trimming the ends is a trivial task easily executed by an untrained husband with a ruler and a spirit-level. The only problem is the bits that won’t grow long — little wisps that spring from my hairline all the way round, but most noticeably around the ears and temples, and never get to more than about 4 inches long, so they won’t stay tied up with all the rest. They’re especially irritating when outdoors if the wind is blowing, and unappealing when indoors again afterwards (strands sticking out in all directions). So I made an appointment with a posh stylist in town and explained the problem. Could it be fixed, perhaps by artful cutting, perming, something?

No, she said, it could not. Some people’s hair is just like that. There’s really nothing we can do about it. Cutting would only make it worse. The only way to keep those wispy bits under control is … hairspray! Now, why didn’t I think of that?

So I bought some, and tried it — and it works. It had simply never occurred to me as a possibility before. Not for ordinary day-to-day use, anyway. Hairspray, like make-up, was a thing for “girly” women and for very special occasions, not for normal use by sensible grown-ups like me.

I gave the hairdresser a big tip, and left happy. Such a relief to get proper advice.

Love miles

Over the past couple of weeks we’ve been socialising with some lovely people from far away, first at FOSDEM and then at home afterwards. It’s been great but (for me anyway) slightly two-edged because it all contributes to what George Monbiot calls “love miles“, and I had accumulated too many of those already. A melancholy thought.