28 January 2007

Career Prospects

Last week, to the ill-disguised dismay of my boss, I stood up in the middle of a meeting and left work early - 6pm - in order to go to a careers evening. I thought it would be interesting and unusual opportunity to find out what other people really do all day, and how to get the best jobs.

There were over 40 speakers at the event covering every class of profession imaginable from Animal Behaviourist to Zoologist. Participants could select four talks to attend. Readers, I have seen the future, and it's in the web 2.0 media. My choices were Professional Poker Player, Reality TV Contestant, Captcha Decoder and Shill Bidder.

Arriving late, I found my name down for the less than exciting quartet of Solicitor, Investment Banker, Barrister and Advertising Executive.

Very traditional, very Job 1.0, I wasn't really on the edge of my seat. But still, one of those four is not a million miles from what I already do all day, so I reckoned that at least I might get some tips on what it's all about

So, what did I find out? Well, I did discover what it is that they all do - that they all do: it's Powerpoint. But don't leap to the conclusion that all these professions are similar: Oh no - Powerpoint styles can differ. So here is

botogol's guide to Powerpoint in the Professions
  1. Investment Bankers do it with closely stacked tables in 10-point Arial, crammed with jargon and information. Cannily they bring their .ppt on a memory stick and borrow the equipment they find. They summarise the executive summary.
  2. Solicitors do it cramped in a small corner unable to find or understand the full-screen option. They have handouts with spaces to make notes. They give powerpoint slowly and cautiously. They never allow a slide to transition ahead of a mouse click.
  3. Advertising Execs do it on vast titanium Powerbooks, with steel speakers and bright OHPs with calf-leather carrying cases. They do it with sound effects and video.
(Barristers don't do powerpoint. They do photocopies.)

The professionals were there to explain their jobs and to offer useful advice to supplicants, and in their differing approaches to this task also they couldn't help displaying their innermost souls.
  • The Barrister advocated his job. Extolling its virtues he was lyrical, persuasive and eloquent. He had been asked to attend the evening 25 minutes before it started.
  • The Advertising Executive pitched his job. He wanted us to believe, he desired us to apply. He knew he had the best job in world and wished us to share his conviction.
  • The Investment Banker bigged up his job. He knew it was important and he didn't really care whether we did or not
  • The Solicitor dissed the Barrister. Whatever career we chose, he said, don't be a Barrister. Above all, he said, don't be a Barrister. Useless good-for-nothing Barristers. Had we been to see the one this evening? Wasn't he dreadful?
Did I mention that I was at the evening with my daughter? To tell the truth the event wasmore ained at her really. She had arrived earlier than me and consequently chose - and got into - a wise selection of realistic and dependable 21st Century professions: Diversity Co-ordinator, Eco-Lifestyle Advisor, Reality TV Presenter and Virtual Estate Agent. She tells me they all did great Powerpoint.

If I had my time again at least I now know what I'd be: Barristers Clerk.

26 January 2007

Quote for the day

The man who writes about himself and his own time is the only man who writes about all people and all time.
- George Bernard Shaw <http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/38640.html>

25 January 2007

Peacetime - Eddi Reader

I have to confess a little disappointment when I got my hands on a copy of Eddi's 9th album Peacetime (released 29th Jan): Only a fool doesn't judge a album by its cover and, call me old-fashioned if you like, but doesn't a new album deserve some new artwork? Instead, Peacetime's cover photo is a retread of the cover of St Clare's Night Out .

Did Rough Trade run out of money? Doesn't Eddi know even one person with a digital camera and a copy of photoshop? :-)

Its been nearly four long years since Eddi recorded the Songs of Robert Burns, and six since she recorded an album of original songs - the ineffable, incomparable Simple Soul.

A confession: for every single one of those four long years I've listened to Simple Soul, Angels & Electricity and Eddi Reader more than I've listened to Robbie Burns, And for all that time I have hung on to the hope that Eddi's venture into traditional folk would prove a detour, and that her next album would resume the forward march of her partnership with Boo.

It doesn't, quite, but still - a new Eddi album is not to be sneezed at, and I was as excited as small child on Christmas Day last week when I slipped the disc into the player and myself into something more comfortable and settled down, eschewing the sleeve notes, to wallow in 14 whole, brand new helpings of Eddi's wonderful, rich crystal clear voice.

It's very folksy: 7 of the 14 songs are listed as 'traditional', no fewer than three of them are more Burns, and many of the rest have a traditional folksy feel to them - The Afton for instance sounds positively 19th century, and it's a surprise to look it up and find out it's new.

It's probably too obvious to say: but the best of the trad-folk songs are the ones that are kept simple - Baron's Heir + Sadenia's Air is a fine beginning, with Eddi's voice soaring over a simple guitar in the opening sections, and her Scottish accent coming through delightfully clear, two songs later it would take hard heart not to smile at Mary and The Soldier, and Leezie Lindsay is catchy enough. But it has to be said there are also some duds: Aye Waulkin-O, and Ye Banks and Braes of Bonnie Doon seem to me simply bland, and even Eddi the alchemist cannot turn that lead entirely into gold.

Shepherd's Song stands out. It's an odd one and it has had some positive fan attention
. It's certainly unusual with it's brass-band opening section, as soon as I heard it, it seemed familiar, reminding me of something. No, not Bailero from Songs of the Auvergne by Canteloube: but Pink Floyd's Outside the Wall.

Am I giving the impression I don't like the album? That wouldn't be fair. I couldn't dislike anything by Eddi and, besides, WMP tells me I've played it 13 times already so it can't be that bad. It isn't - and there's an important redeeming feature: three diamonds in the coal, the three unmistakable songs by Boo Hewerdine.

Instantly recognisable these songs - to me - carry the album. The first one we hear is track two Muddy Water, a 'brief encounter' says Eddi in the sleevenotes, a brief illicit encounter say I: 'Did not do what I should / I nearly lost it good / but the CCTV camera never caught us' Boo's sparse lyrics perfectly capture a time, a place an emotion. Listening in the bath last week, knowing only that there were three Boo songs there somewhere it wasn't hard to pick them out when they came: Muddy Water, Safe as Houses and the eponymous Peacetime with their references to CCTV, to the London bombings breathe some current relevant meaning into an otherwise hard-to-fathom collection.

We've had Eddi Reader sings the songs of Robbie Burns. That was good, but I'm not sure this new album carries Eddi forward as it should. What would be wrong with Eddi Reader sings the Songs of Boo Hewerdine? Until that happy event Boo fans may find pleasure Rosalie Deighton's upcoming album which will feature five songs co-written with Boo (that's two more than Eddi's)

Oh dear, I feel I have been a bit rotten to Eddi. But rest assured she's still one of my all-time favourites, and I'm still going to Shepherd's Bush to see her next month. And I'm still hoping to hear Soul, Lucky Penny, Wolves, Simple Soul, Footsteps Fall and Sugar on the Pill.

- review of Boo Hewerdine gig in November

24 January 2007


I wish I had a pound for everyone I have heard saying 'I haven't watched Big Brother, but... here's my firmly held opinion about Jade Goody.

Gordon Brown put himself in that camp when he appealed to the country to 'vote for Shilpa' (A vote for Shilpa of course meant a vote to throw her out. He was blissfully unaware)

But 50,000 complaints is impressive by any standards - but I'd love to know what the complainers actually thought Channel4 should have been done. Three possibilities spring to mind:

They should have

1) expelled Jade from the house in order to punish her / rescue Shilpa

2) gone into the house and told Jade to behave

3) edited out all the offending footage and pretend it didn't happen

None of these options is very attractive and its no wonder C4 dithered.

But I have a disappointing feeling that most people probably had in mind (3). Certainly I think that's what most broadcasters woud have done - and it would have been appropriately Orwellian I suppose.. Still a cheer and a half to C4 for not taking that option at least. (Subtracting ten cheers if turns out that they in any way at all egged Jade on)

Here is the only piece I have read about Jadegate that that takes an original line and made me reconsider my stance:


[I wish I had read it before the heated conversation we had at a dinner party on Saturday)

20 January 2007

On-Line women

When email first arrived it had the unlikely effect of plunging married women 150 years back to Victorian times.

Having waited until the 1970s for poor young Annabelle Jones to be freed from the possessive shackles of being known as Mrs Frederick Bloggs, just twenty short years later poor old Annabelle Bloggs-Jones suddenly found herself right back where she started: widely and humiliating referred to as fred.bloggs@hiswork.com FAO-Annabelle

By the end of the 90s, with Fred totally fed up with please-tell-Annabelle-it's-now-Wednesday, email finally arrived in the home and Annabelle Bloggs (well, it's easier for the children if we all have the same name, isn't it) finally achieved her own e-independence. Well, sort of: familybloggs12@aol.com

How things change.

In the brave new world of the 21st century the boot is on the other foot: fred@bigcorp.com is now almost incommunicado. He has had to tell his mates not to email him that stuff at work any more - compliance get a copy of everything, now - and IT Security blocked access to fredthestud@hotmail.com nearly three years ago.

Meanwhile angryannie@gmail.com receives 10,000 hits and 14 comments every day at www.myrottenlife.blogspot.com

Is it a genre?

Anyway, here's four blogs that I've been thoroughly enjoying reading: all by women with their own email address and everything, all witty, all a mixture of domestic, the external.....and the surreal.

In no special order here they are, writing on domestic topics...

Arse End of Ireland by Swearing Lady
It's said that all women eventually turn into their mothers. You know how it is: one day you've got your nose pierced and you're painting her wallpaper black, the next you're choosing high-waisted jeans and gardening and tutting.
D-Flat Chime Bar by Surly Girl
I’ve been studiously avoiding my mother since Christmas. This makes me both very happy (no mother! Woo!) and slightly guilty (Fifi Sis gets all the gubbins. Boo). However, mother has now thrown a large spanner in the works by instigating (potentially) her own financial downfall, and wanting to discuss it in detail with everyone.
A bit of background for anyone who’s still reading despite this being another post about my mother:
Wife in the North by Wifey
At least I didn't fall for the obvious trap laid by the nurse who shot the baby up, after I had been chatting to her about how violent boys can be.
"All you can do is say to them, 'I don't hit you, so don't you hit your brother'."
Nope. Wasn't falling for that one.
Petite Anglaise
I am sitting in bed, watching episodes of Desperate Housewives back to back and feeling sorry for myself. Despite the Christmas tree sparkling winsomely in the corner of the room, I have never felt less festive, or more hungover. That’s what happens when you go to a party for grown up singles on Christmas day, instead of more traditional activities such as watching the Top of the Pops Christmas special in the front room of your parents house, or sulking when your mother refuses to put any alcohol in her Christmas pudding.

Enjoy :-)

(A tree really did fall on our car on Thursday)

Addition- there's a discussion about women blogging on 18DoughtyStreet on Monday 22nd 9pm featuring Rachel from North London

19 January 2007

Aloha from Hawaii

People ask me whether everything I write in this blog is actually true.
Well, of of course it all is.

Last night Mrs B and I flew off to to Honolulu for one of those last-minute short weekend city-breaks. booking last minute it cost only £299pp, plus £11.95 carbon offset (voluntary! hooray!). Back Monday. Hope the kids are OK on their own.

Yesterday, in the high winds that swept the UK, a tree fell on our car.

At work I am moving offices. Perhaps you don't think that is a big deal? Well, I have been occupying my office, located in my company's equivalent of Siberia for five long years; and now we have been recalled back the Headquarters. The Main Building. The Big Place. The Metropolis. We move next month.

Meanwhile, KaLeoAloha to all my readers.

[Doesn't that sound grand. To both my readers?, to my few readers? To my blogging sister]

17 January 2007


Writing a blog like with no theme has a number of drawbacks, and none more so than what to put in the blogroll.

For a blogroll is a more than just a collection of links: it's promise to the reader:
If you like my blog, it says, then I think you might also like these blogs: These other, er, also themeless, random blogs that really have no connection at all with mine.

And that's why, dear reader I've never had a blogroll. Where's the join? Which in turn is probably why I don't get many incoming links either. So to hell with the promise, I've got one now :-)

Anyway, everyone else is doing it and how else I am ever going to get tagged with one of those cool blog-meme-thingies. [I ever do get one I'm going to straight off to tag David Cameron- I bet he'd do it, as well]

So here goes with botogol's promise: If you like my blog then you'll probably like these other blogs which all have the same name (clever, eh?)
I'm on a roll now (a blogroll! ha ha!). Link whoring I think they call it, but I have no shame. So here's a roll of blogs I'm reading which, frankly, have not the slightest connection with mine, but which I like, so perhaps you will

I've put them in three sections (on the sidebar where they belong)
  • Personal - i.e. essentially themeless or narrative blogs
  • Work - my favourite genre
  • Ideas - you'll have to click and look, won't you

15 January 2007

On the Clapham Omnibus (yes, really)

Now, you wouldn't think that anyone who has lived in London for 20 years would be stupid enough to get on a Replacement Bus Service when the trains aren't running

Well, I am

In my defence, it was only at the station I realised that the trains weren't running. Should I go back and fetch the car? But there was the bus all ready to go.... I went for it.

Looking back, I made three mistaken assumptions
  • Mistaken Assumption #1: That the bus was about to leave.
  • Reality: The driver was merely warming the engine
  • Mistaken Assumption #2: The bus was replacing the FAST train that I had planned to catch, and would go directly to Richmond, and Putney
  • Reality: it was replacing the slow train. St Margarets, Richmond, North Bleedin' Sheen..
  • Mistaken Assumption #3: That the bus driver knew the way
  • Reality: The driver failed to make that half-right turn at Chalker's Corner and crossed Chiswick Bridge. We had gone wrong. Worse, we were on the wrong side of the river.
Nobody on the bus said anything

Well, I was reading the paper and I didn't notice until it was too late. That's my story. Perhaps everyone else was doing the same.

Aren't we all polite?

As the bus accelerated up the A316 toward Chiswick there came just a few faint murmurings "Aren't we supposed to be going to Mortlake?", "Well, I thought so", "Did we actually cross the river?"

But no one spoke to the driver.

It was a good half mile before, finally, a woman deferentially piped up:
"Excuse me, driver?"
"Um, Do you think we've gone the wrong way?"

Reader, never, ever admit that you are wrong. If you doubt my advice, rest assured that the benighted driver of the 09:10 replacement bus service from Twickenham to Clapham Junction learned his lesson on Saturday.

- peace and calm -
- peace and calm -
- murmur whisper -
- peace and calm -
- polite question -
- peace and calm -

"I missed a turning back there didn't I?"


"Do a U turn!"
"He's missed the turning!"
"Turn right"
"Turn left"
"Keep going"
"Hammersmith Bridge"
"Slow Down!"
"3 point turn"
"Everyone put your hands in the air, sit down in your seats, and no one will get hurt. Now all of you - give me your phones"

OK the last one was me and, no, it wasn't funny and it wasn't clever,

Bewildered by the conflicting heckles the driver simply plunged on. The further we strayed from our route the later we were going to be. The later we got, the faster he went. The faster he went, the more we shouted

"Don't be stupid, he can't u-turn in a bus, "
"Keep going until we hit a roundabout"
"Turn left and then left again"
"I will execute one person every 40 minutes until my demands are met"

Cometh the Hour, Cometh the Man. It's in a desperate situation like this that true natural leaders emerge. I coughed gently.
Unfortunately our true natural leader turned out not to be me but a wild red-headed woman at the front, with no sense of direction and no memory for roads. "There's no roundabout up this way!", she yelled, just a few hundred metres short of Hogarth Roundabout, "Not for miles..Turn LEFT now!"

Tyres screeched. The bus turned left. I strode masterfully to the front.
"Um, can I get out?"
"Out of the bus?"
"Um, yes"

Odd decision.

One moment I'm in a warm bus, with plenty of material for my blog unfolding before my blackberry. The next I'm on a street in Chiswick. It's raining softly. I'm carrying ski-boots.

And there's no taxi rank on the Hogarth roundabout.

12 January 2007

Ruth Kelly and the West Lothian Question.

Characteristically, Simon Jenkins has written the best article I have read on Ruth Kelly's decision to send her son to an independent school.

Eschewing the knee-jerk condemnation of the tabloids, the knee-jerk approbation of Guido Fawkes and fence-sitting attitude of Iain Dale, Jenkins' discussion on communities, and faith in them homes in nicely on why Kelly's decision doesn't feel quite right, even for a liberal fee-paying parent like me.

One thing that strikes me about it: I think this is a preamble to what will be the theme of 2007 politics - the hitherto rather obscure West Lothian Question: if it's not possible for person to be Minister for Communities (or Education) prevailing over a system that her family doesn't have to put up with, how much harder is it going to be to have Prime Minister prevailing over the UK, elected by a set of constituents who don't have to put up with the results.

I don't see the West Lothian question leading to the end of the Union as one blogger mischievously speculates, but I do see lots of most enjoyable trouble ahead.

09 January 2007

Immoral Goods

Five products - intrinsically morally neutral - but which have become unreasonably saddled with negative moral connotations:

  • 4-wheel drive vehicles - regardless of actual size, petrol consumption, carbon footprint, a car that is driven by all four wheels necessarily connotes an irresponsible attitude to the environment and to pedestrians.
  • Sliced bread - in all its forms: clearly denotes a slovenly laziness
  • Television - moral turpitude and lack of creativity. When was the last time you heard someone say 'I won't have a book in the house' or, proudly, 'No, my children certainly don't go to the theatre very much at all' So, why is that attitude OK with TV? (and why is radio virtuous?)
  • Fur - Fur (even if humanely sourced from a non-endangered farmed animal) is foul, but leather is lovely. How does that work?
  • Tickets - (when sold for more than face value). Buy a china bowl for £10, sell it on eBay for £100, your mates will think you're well canny. Try doing the same with a ticket.

Remember when mobile phones were a sign of self-importance and self-indulgence?
Now they are just phones.

Are there any other things I could have mentioned? (hint: this post invites comments) :-)

08 January 2007

So, what do you do?

I've noticed that this handy (if lazy) drinks-party conversation-stoker is rapidly becoming useless.

And I don't just mean when women are concerned (where merely to pose the question is to burden oneself with unwelcome value judgements), but with anyone at all: because nowadays the answer is increasingly likely to be impossible to understand.

One of my cycling friends (who doesn't know I have a blog and about whom, therefore, I can write with impunity) is a brand consultant.
"Ah, you mean like designing a logo"
"No, I would get a design firm to do that"
"but you'd be involved"
"well yes, but..."
"like Cayce Pollard ? Cool"
"There's rarely a new logo involved actually. It's normally more to do with establishing the company's brand values in a paradigm that makes sense for the shareholders, the staff and the customer"
"Is that a new wicking base layer I can see through your ventilated armpit holes?"

I'm only joking, of course: I know perfectly well what he does: He helps small companies establish their brand values into er, well, stuff like that. But what does that actually involve when he sits down at his desk in the morning? Apart from booking lunch, obviously. And working on tax returns, what with him being self-employed.

Last year I went to a reunion at my old college. In that environment S,WDYD isn't so much risky as positively dangerous. I know that. However, unable to invent suitable conversational alternatives in the intimidating atmosphere of the SCR, I allowed myself several times to be violently snubbed around the back of the head.
"Oh, I help companies leverage multi-functional pan-regional diversity policies"
"I'm basically a freelance quant, well more of a modeller really"
"I work in innovation"
"I no longer work in paid employment, I care for my children; do you have some kind of problem with that, you arsehole'

OK, I made up the second one; but you can understand the enthusiasm with which I embraced my neighbour at dinner when he turned out to be a vet. And also his surprise.

At this stage I should fess up: I too have a indescribable job. Consequently, I dread being asked what I do by well-meaning conversationalists. What can one say?

  • "You wouldn't understand what I do" sadly, is probably the truth, but clearly too patronising to use in circumstances other than having just previously been called an arsehole.
  • "Nobody can understand what I do" is probably equally close (and I don't exclude people who work in the same firm) but does makes me sound misleadingly like Stephen Hawking.
  • "I don't understand what I do" is at least good for a laugh (but unwise, I have found, with people who work in the same firm) .

So I usually just mumble and change the subject.
Under close questioning I get hot and bothered and open my armpit ventilation holes

But my point (and I am coming to one) is this: I have started to notice that many people do just the same as me. No, not the unzipping silly - the embarrassed evasion. In other words : it's a not a topic that people talk about so much anymore.

I think this is going to have quite a big impact: we're heading for a paradoxical world where it is easier and easier to connect with like-minded people you don't know, but harder and harder to connect with the people we meet in 'real' life. If you can't picture what someone does all day, you can't know them.

And if we can no longer be defined by our jobs (because no one understands them) then how?
By our blogs?

As Homer Simpson once said "Marge, If I wasn't a safety thingummy then I don't know who I'd be"

07 January 2007

Derelict London - Feltham Marshalling Yards

Derelict London, originally uploaded by botogol.
Paul Talling's Derelict London site is intriguing and fascinating: an photographic record of derelict sites all over London including swimming pools, pubs, abandoned stations

Inspired by that site, here's a collection of photographs taken in the old Feltham Marshalling Yards, just adjacent to Hounslow Heath.

The old sidings and sheds were closed down in (I think) the 1960s and for a long time the area was fenced off and inaccessible to the public. Then two years or so ago the owners yielded to pressure to allow access to this large piece of land, and perhaps eventually to re-connect the divided sections of the River Crane walk (part of the London Loop) and opened up a gap or two in the fence.

To tell the truth, 'Opened Up' is a bit of an exaggeration: the fence has prised open leaving a small gap, the steel doors to a tunnel wrenched off their hinges and discarded on the ground nearby. Anyway.

Once the area bustled with trains and workmen. There was a scrap yard that contained old aeroplanes. All that's gone now, and the area is ghostly and still.

Abandoned cars are scattered around, one half-buried so that you can ride your bike over the top. A tunnel under a long-gone piece of railway-track leads to nowhere. An underground water main (path clearly visible on the satellite picture) runs from from SW to NE that many years ago used to take water from Kempton to Cricklewood, and if you look you'll find an old pumping station / access shaft.

Not many people visit: dog walkers, motorcyclists scrambling on the cinder paths, the occasional geocacher, ramblers and mountain bikers following the path of the Crane.

Once a greyhound came out of nowhere, galloped past me with a bark and disappeared into the scrub. I never saw an owner.

06 January 2007

As featured on BBC London!

Welcome to anyone arriving from the BBC London Best London Blogs page :-)

02 January 2007

New Year's Resolutions / How To Work Better

Spotted by a friend at Tate Modern (and photographed by him, and uploaded by myself in flagrant disregard for copyright)


Perhaps I can assuage my copyright-conscience a little by adding that it's by Peter Fischli & David Weiss and you can see the exhibition until 16 January

01 January 2007

Previously Read

Notes on an Exhibition by Patrick Gale
A family is dominated by the mother, whose own life was shaped by tragedy, illness and a single, impulse decision in her untold past. Gale is at his absorbing, submerging, coming-up-for-air best. A tale of love, loyalty and identity. One of my favourite authors, Gale is the master of understated family dialogue: a single word said or unsaid wounds or comforts. Excellent

Widow for a Year by John Irving
A family (and a lover) is dominated by the absent mother whose own life was shaped by tragedy and a single impulsive decision. A tale of love, literacy, loyalty and exploitation. Irving is master of the comedy scene, and the evocative phrase. The noise like someone trying not to make a noise. Excellent

Temptation by Douglas Kennedy
Quite the worst book I have read for ages. Execrable.


Body Surfing by Anita Shreve.
Young widow encounters an intriguing family from different social strata who change her life. Family secrets are slowly uncovered. Feckless young man allows true love to escape him. Woman falls for bad guy. Atmospheric, lyrical, makes you want to visit New England.

The Magician's Assistant by Anne Patchett.
Young widow encounters intriguing family from different social strata who change her life. Family secrets are slowly uncovered. Woman fall for good guy, with secret. Atmospheric Lyrical. Makes you want to visit Walmarts

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
An extraordinary, charismatic boy IS CONVINCED HE IS AN INSTRUMENT OF GOD and it turns out that...well you have to read it.
Entertaining, witty, intriguing, the conclusion satisfies on two levels as all the disparate strands of the story are brought together in a compelling finale with a profoundly antireligious message


Mapping the Mind by Rita Carter
An amazing romp through modern knowledge of the brain. Engrossing. Not everyone liked it though

Evil and the Justice of God by N.T.Wright
[It's part of deal - if I can manage this, my friend reads the God Delusion, it has to be worth it] Earnest, slightly rambling theology. I have never encountered anything like it before!


Michael Tolliver Lives by Armistead Maupin
Long awaited seventh and last novel in the clever, tightly plotted, much loved Tales of the City series. A pale shadow of an echo of the the previous six, lacking in warmth and imagination: tawdry, sad and derivative, resting on the success of the past. A disappointment

Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling
Long awaited seventh and last novel in the clever, tightly plotted, much loved Harry Potter series. A return to form after the disappointing books five and six. Clever, funny and sad, the plot neatly wraps up all that has gone before. A triumph


Poppy Shakespeare by Clare Allen
Flops & dribblers artfully evade freedom; starts well; a bit samey after 10 chapters

I Am A Strange Loop by Douglas Hofstadter
A new book by the Hof is a treasure indeed; the Hof retraces his steps in GEB & BTdM, adding some clarity along the way; can a single soul occupy two brains? boggling, welcome diversion from Poppy

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan Finished it actually; beautifully, tenderly written misanthropy; spellbinding



Here's a cool, well constructed site: pandora

  • you enter some music you like, it suggests (and plays) other music that it thinks you would like
  • umm, that's it
  • except that's not it.... the thing is: It's very well done
  • using it reminds me of how it was when I first came across flickr - the immediate knowledge that something is executed well.

I heard of this from corporate presenter


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