30 June 2008

On Safari

Book Club by wander.lust
Mrs Botogol and I are nothing if not energetic and after Interesting2008 we rushed straight home for a Safari Dinner organised by Mrs Botogol's book club

Now if you're thinking: "Safari Dinner"? Isn't that a slightly childish activity, best suited to giggling twenty-somethings in an alcoholic haze rushing excitedly from room to room down the corridors of the halls of residence for an endless succession of courses each one progressively more dried-up and more burnt than the one before?", then I'm retorting: "You haven't met Mrs Botogol's book club!"

To this day Mrs B will maintain that they do all read the books but I, frankly, suspect a poker school. Let's just say that the first Wednesday of last month (The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy) featured precious few Brodie's Notes but rather a lot of mysterious ATM withdrawals, and all along our street they are still talking about that all-nighter pulled in the back garden of number 50 during the long, long, cicada'd, mexican, velvet summer of 2006 (The Beach by Alex Garland)

A week or two ago some neighbours knocked on the doors in our road to apologise in advance for the noise of an upcoming 21st birthday party - "Oh don't worry about it all", charmed my friend and fellow book-club widower, Roger, "make as much noise as you like for next week, round at ours, there's Book Club!"

On Safari, the husbands rose to the occasion (without a barbecue even) and did much of the cooking while the book-club critiqued: it was like a cross between the Hell's Kitchen and the F-Word. I has been allotted course three of seven labelled, confusingly, the starter. With one husband-course before me and two to follow, reputations were up for grabs and Sabotage and Mischief caught my ear and laid out their tempting wares. After some thought I decided upon a rich and creamy high-carb, spoiler following which courses 4-7 would surely languish uneaten and unappreciated. Potato soup with lardons and focaccia bread, preceded by an amuse-bouche of an individual ravioli parcel stuffed with goats cheese all in a sour-cream source. But midweek Mrs Botogol saw the Ocado order and she suggested firmly that I might switch to my signature prawns in a warm courgette salad. I cooked it theatre-style in front of my less than amazed guests.

All in all, I think it went down very well.

And let's be clear: not a single one of the courses at our safari dinner were the least burnt or dried up, indeed the book club safari was a resounding success, for I heard a rumour that one of the club sometimes reads this blog, and I don't want any small waxen miniature Botogol pierced with a ceremonial needle on the first Wednesday of July (Heart Of Darkness by Joseph Conrad)

25 June 2008


photo by rooreynolds
Well it was .... well, what do you know: it actually was interesting.

It was also a little bit thirtysomething, Mrs Botogol and I must have been - what? - 10 years above the average age. Well, judge for yourself, there we are in the picture... if you can spot us.. Either way, I was glad I had had my one-and-a-half on Thursday.

Twenty-Nine speakers, with between 4 and 20 minutes each on a range of topics from Lego (a highlight) to Winston Churchill; from Acoustic Cosmology (cough) to scotch eggs and all led by the lugubrious yet excitable Russell Davies

I guess eclectic is the appropriate word.

My favourite: a cleverly constructed ten minutes from Matt Webb where a stream of apparently random ideas dovetailed together to prove that before the Europeans arrived there was a different sort of physics in Patagonia. Yes, you at the back, you can smile.... but....

A lowlight: don't you just hate Mexican Waves?

An interesting fact: did you know that horses have a great big blind-spot right in front of their faces? Given that this is an animal capable of forty-miles an hour that seems to pretty much spell curtains for intelligent design.

I spent the breaks planning my smash-hit appearance at Interesting2009. But what to talk about? I am torn between My-experience-on-the-fourth-plinth, and J P Alibert: Hero of Botogol

10 June 2008

Other Lives

I blame Russell Davies and specifically tip #7 in How to be interesting
7. Once a week sit in a coffee-shop or cafe for an hour and listen to other people’s conversations. Take notes. Blog about it. (Carefully)
I wasn't in a coffee shop I was on the tube, and I wasn't listening to a conversation I was, well.... I couldn't help seeing... I mean I didn't want to look ... but really... if someone is going to write their secret diary on a crowded tube, well, it can't be that secret, can it?
  • Her right-hand page was headed TO DO w/c 9 June
    In my day-book I also have a page with that title: it's full of items transcribed from TO DO w/c 2 June.
  • Her left hand page was headed Feelings
    In my day-book I don't have a page like that.
So I quit emailing, and smartly alt-tabbed my blackberry to the notes function.

She was getting divorced and she had a lot To Do
  • email David re Primary Care
  • email David re 60%
  • email David re Car
  • 10am call David
Some days she was feeling focused, but other days she was feeling overwhelmed.

In the centre of the left hand page was written
CANADA: If I want to have complete control over Georgie's love, then we have to move. (But what if David doesn't agree to to 60%?)
She had written lots more but when arrived at Canary Wharf I fumbled my 'berry and managed to exit notes without saving. I guess it served me right.

02 June 2008

14 Wild Ideas

So here's a fun article: 14 Wild Ideas, 5 of which are true from the always fascinating Robin Hanson

Sounds like a challenge. Call me systematic if you like, but on the train home I couldn't help but rank them myself: high chance, medium, low and fat.

It's a game you can play at home.

In the buckets I placed four, four, three and three ideas respectively. I wonder if anyone can guess my top four. Or bottom three.

01 June 2008

Levelling Out

Vodka Level by - Martin Koitmäe
It turns out the floor of the cellar in our house is far from level and every time the washing machine reached the spinning bit it rattled and it shook, and it walked down the slope until its power lead came out of its socket.

"We need to get a longer extension lead, perhaps", I remarked to Mrs Botogol when I took down her supper, and placed it carefully beside her on top of the the shuddering appliance, "it's a shame you having to spend so much time down here, and in the dark as well"

Mrs B invited me to try and think of a better solution, please, and within days I had it: "I'll build a platform", I said, "lightweight but sturdy, closely-contoured yet level, of chipboard or MDF, as wide as the cellar and exactly 605 mill deep"

"Lovely, but do you think you can dear", she asked, not unkindly, "after all: it's a long time since you did any DIY, and isn't your tape measure marked up in inches?"

Reader, I will leave you to judge by results: for a platform it indubitably is.

I had to buy a new saw to do it (from the tiny store) and on that multi-toothed blade I cut myself four times. On the floor there you may just be able to make out traces of mopped-up blood.