24 January 2008

Tut Tut

It's not easy getting from West London to the Dome on a Saturday when there are no trains through Richmond and Twickenham.
....and no Jubilee line to North Greenwich.
So we drove
....and no Limehouse link either, just one large traffic jam from Tower Bridge to the Blackwall tunnel.

In two hours on a French motorway you can travel 200 miles - I know, I have done it. Two hours after we left home we were in Wapping. We had eaten all the Werthers, spotted four Stobarts and two Norberts, and retrieved all the CDs from the floor and sorted them into two piles: scratched and unscratched. We had played both the unscratched ones twice.

The only thing that could possibly make it worse was a car crash, and sure enough on the Highway a texting imbecile ran into the back of us. Before you could say whip-lash injury Mrs Botogol had leapt from the car to handle negotiations. In the driving mirror I saw bundle of tenners changing hands - urban fashion - and we were on our way again.

"Do you think there really is a curse?", asked one of the children, afterwards in Starbucks, knocking my Americano all over my newspaper.

21 January 2008


By dcassa.
Wifey wonders how she slipped so easily from one persona to another; last week I was wondering whether I had a persona at all, or whether I was rather a multiplicity of different selves co-existing in a single body united only by a common set of memories,

I asked Mrs Botogol: "Do you think each of us is a coherent single self, or do you think we all contain a multiplicity? Different people, if you like, in the same body?"

"Please don't call me Mrs Botogol when we are at home, dear" she said.

At the ICA opinion was mixed: Rita Carter believed she has no free will and no self. "I, zombie" if you will - I am a zombie and so is my avatar. I didn't agree, but it's such a nihilistic viewpoint that is rather difficult to take issue with: arguing with a self-identified zombie is like arguing with the SatNav. I wished I hadn't praised her book, but comforted myself that perhaps I probably couldn't help it.

On the panel Raymond Tallis gallantly declared his faith in Rita Carter "I believe you have a self" he said and I was surprised to find myself on Tallis's side, arts against science, as Carter frowned at him (rather ungraciously I thought, but then it must he hard for her, surrounded by unthinking zombies acting mechanically and without imagination. A bit like being at work)

I jotted down random nuggets from each speaker. The most intriguing was the idea of different-sized selves (mania being swelling of self, and depression a diminution). The most confounding was the question of whether we are still ourselves when we dream...ouch.

The most amusing factoid (ie it appeals directly to my prejudices) is that, apparently, when a Myers-Briggs test is repeated there is only a 25% chance of finding the same personality type.

That would explain it then.

17 January 2008

Hot and Bothered

By the sweat of your face
Originally uploaded by MrUllmi.
"Are you all right, Botogol?" asked the Head of Human Resources, Strategic Operations & Shared Services Division, EMEA (excluding Russia), for it was she, standing behind me in the queue at the Starbucks kiosk.

Absorbed as I was in my new mp3 player, on to which I have podcasted an entire week's programming from Radio 4, I hadn't noticed her.

On the one hand I was pleasantly surprised to hear evidently genuine concern from someone in Human Resources; on the other I was a little miffed at the implications. "Of course I am", I said, brightly, "I've been to the gym, is all. It just takes me a little while to cool down"

She appraised me suspiciously. It was 8:30am, I was outside without my coat and I was (OK, I concede it) a trifle pink.

As I smiled, a bead of sweat ran down the side of my face.

"Don't I look well?"

"To be frank", she said, not unkindly, "I thought you were having a diabetic induced hypo"

We stared at each other for a moment and the barista coughed, gently "Gingerbread, Cinammon Dolce Latte with a caramel shot?"

13 January 2008

Shakespeare on Life Planning

The Botogol family know what's hot* and what's not, and on Saturday we eschewed the black market demand for our tickets and went to the Donmar warehouse to see Othello

Jealousy, scheming, race, deception; Yes, yes, yes, Othello is all of those, and very good indeed it is too, but the bit that struck me (perhaps the £800 we supposedly could have got for our tickets was preying on my mind) but the bit that got me was Iago's unequivocal advice to the love-lost Rodrigo:

No, don't drown yourself, says Iago, but instead:
[...] Put money in thy purse;
follow thou the wars; defeat thy favour with
an usurped beard; I say,
put money in thy purse. It
cannot be that Desdemona should long continue her
love to the Moor,--
put money in thy purse,--nor he
his to her: it was a violent commencement, and thou
shalt see an answerable sequestration:--put but
money in thy purse. These Moors are changeable in
their wills: fill thy purse with money:--
she will find the error of her choice: she must
have change, she must: therefore put money in thy
purse. If thou wilt needs damn thyself, do it a
more delicate way than drowning. Make all the money
thou canst: if sanctimony and a frail vow betwixt
an erring barbarian and a supersubtle Venetian not
too hard for my wits and all the tribe of hell, thou
shalt enjoy her; therefore make money.

I am changed: I'll go sell all my land.
Roderigo, thou shouldst have lived at this hour! and thou shouldst have have had an indescribable job in the City, for it's the start of every City worker's plan: Moving out? moving on? moving up? Staying put? New house, extra house? Trading up? Trading down? Mid Life Crisis? New Bike? New Car? New Boat? Interior designer or writer of the great 21st Century novel? Whatever.... just two more bonuses should be enough....

"It's the only bit of honest advice Iago gives to anyone in the whole play", I remarked, sagely in the interval much to the spluttering amusement of the Botogol daughters whom I sometimes think have received a sight more education than is good for them, "Yeah, right", they said, once they had mopped up their J2O "Thus do I ever make my fool my purse"

* Ewan McGregor and Chiwetel Ejiofor, that's what's hot. Oh, yes, and Shakespeare.

10 January 2008

Plinth Happy

I am SO going to spend an hour on that plinth
The cutest thing might be simply to sit there with a placard:
This. Is. Not. Art
Now, would that be a protest?
Well, it would certainly wasting a once in a lifetime opportunity to show-off...

Introducing The Extraordinary Spectacle of Botogol-On-The-Plinth

Timetable of Events
(to be displayed on a large placard on the edge of the plinth)

  • 10:00 Arrival of Botogol
  • 10:02 The setting up of video cameras for the purposes of YouTube
  • 10:05 Impersonation: Nelson On His Column
  • 10:10 Moonwalking Demonstration
  • 10:15 The Best of Botogol - Selected Readings from Green Ideas
  • 10:16 Impersation: A Lion at the base of a Column
  • 10:20 Short Extract from Paradise Lost, Book One
  • 10:25 If you look closely you can see his ears wiggling
  • 10:30 Repeated Bellowing Of "It's no fun" to a bewildered Crowd
  • 10:35 Juggling Display (I can you know)
  • 10:40 Ventilation of the Arm-Pits
  • 10:42 Recitation of Shakespeare's Sonnet 116
  • 10:45 A sit down for a nice cup of tea and a biscuit
  • 10:50 Q&A
  • 10:58 Farewell and Last Words
  • 10:59 Bows to Tumultuous Applause
  • 11:00 Refusal to Dismount from the Plinth
  • 11:02 A Confrontation with Security Guard with ensuing
  • 11:04 Comedy Chase-round-and-round-the-edge-of-plinth
  • 11:05 Dramatic Fall on to Safety-Net
  • 11:10 Humiliating Rescue from Same
  • 11:15 Autograph Signing and DVD Sales
What's not to enjoy? If you would enjoy seeing the Botogol show vote, vote for Antony Gormley

Gormley's idea is clearly streets ahead of the others. (Yesterday I actually heard people talking about in the lift and, well, meercats, really...) Sadly though, I don't think he will win for the idea is just too scarily democratic - "I mean they could do anything".

My prediction: they'll turn it down on fabricated health and safety grounds and go for the conventional, low risk (and seriously, seriously dull) anti-Iraq War option instead.

Mind you, if they are looking for a good car..

07 January 2008

New Year Resolution

I'm not sure I'll have time, this year, to improve my performance at both the Triathlon and the Wii.

My experience since Christmas certainly isn't promising: last week, increasingly wild and agitated while being thrashed by silent five year old at tennis, I felt like one those old, stooped, furious but impotent Silverbacks in an earnest BBC nature programme, being outsmarted by a younger, lither rival, clearly after his harem.

I smashed, I passed and I lobbed and Mrs Botogol, watching from the sofa, had to tell me to calm down and for Goodness Sake Mind That Lightshade! Eventually, though, through persistence and guile, my luck turned, and a wild, reaching cross-court baseline stroke caught my miniature opponent a glancing blow on the side of the head with a nunchuck and the game had to be abandoned. Out of the corner of my eye as we mopped the blood, I could swear that the baldy little left-handed Mii that I have built actually winked.

But forget tennis - my favourite game on the Wii is Coarse Fishing. Its brilliant, and very realistic. This is how it works: you stand motionless in your living room, grasping your controller firmly in both hands waiting for a bite.

About every hour (on easy) or two days (difficult) the little float moves - a bite! - and you sharply hoik your nunchuck upwards and back and ... well, that's it! Its just like real fishing.

Anyway, as you can imagine, it's quite a favourite with Mrs Botogol and I. Of course with two you need quite a big room to play - the second player has to stand at the next stake, quite a distance along the bank. However it has one considerable advantage over the tennis: with some practice you can prop up your controller on a book and can go and make a cup of tea and a sandwich. There's not many Wii games you can say that about.

The Triathlon? May 5th. I promise not to blog about it again.

02 January 2008

I'm back

For the last three months I have been mostly reading Paradise Lost
"No one ever wished it longer than it is" (Samuel Johnson)
It's all because of Philip Pullman of course. That's the trouble with hero-worship: it starts innocently enough with the books, then comes the much-better-than-you-thought film; before long you're in the front row at obscure gigs, hanging on every word, and three weeks later you find yourself striding round the house like armoured bear shouting at the children Surely. At. Least. ONE. Of. You. Must. Have. Seen. My. New. Alethiometer.

It's not that my other project didn't work exactly, it's more that I didn't try: I managed just two posts. My sister read them. She told me they were good but, compared to greenideas, they made me seem a little embittered. I must have been in a jolly mood.

Anyway its 2008 and I'm back...with resolution (it's to weigh myself every Tuesday)

After Satan sets out on his mission to Earth to suborn (or enlighten?) mankind the other devils are left to their own devices. Some horse around, some form a choral society (really) and others, well...
Others apart sat on a Hill retir'd,
In thoughts more elevate, and reason'd high
Of Providence, Foreknowledge, Will and Fate,
Fixt Fate, free will, foreknowledg absolute,
And found no end, in wandring mazes lost.
[Book II, 557]
They invented the blogosphere! How could I stay away?