Tuesday, January 27, 2004

There is nothing more satisfying that watching other people. I've made an art of people watching over the years.

Now many of those who share my hobby might say that you should always keep your subjects unaware of your game. Avoid eye contact they would advocate; look at your shoes. And what utter toss that is. Such a tactic is akin to holding a large neon sign with a big black arrow and the words "People Spotter" instead of "Golf Sale" (there was a bloke holding a Golf Sale sign on the road side at Oxford Circus in a thong of people celebrating whilst the victorious England Rugby team went past in their open top bus. I'm not sure if this was clever irony or an extreme commitment to a shit job. Extreme Job Commitment - now there's a crap idea for a new sport).

No, the best way to People Spot is simply thus: stay calm, look confident and friendly and look people in the eye. Don't fucking stare you odd-ball, just calmly look around you at take it all in. Believe it or not such an activity is perfectly natural. The most common location for People Spotting is of course the tube, due mainly to the large numbers of people and the frequency of their visitation. Vitally on tubes people avoid looking at you, pretend not to notice if you are a bastard starer (I've had them staring at me and it's very disconcerting, especially if they have a naturally disgusted expression. Still, their loss that not mine. Ugly cunts that they are), and you get to sit exactly where you are.

But the reason I bring this subject up is because I have experienced the elixir of People Spotting. A veritable temple for spotters if you will. This weekend I visited the Royal Festival Hall to see the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra reciting Mahler's excellent first symphony - and a bunch of his other work. I thought I was in for an evening of high culture. Believe it or not I sacrificed the opportunity to see Air in order to go. But I have no regrets - the evening threw up the most wonderful surprise. Yes the culture bit was superb, but the People Spotting. Frankly, my fellow members of the audience were a - whatever the collective noun of oddities is - of oddities. I'm sure that last sentence made sense.

For the first half of the recital the chap immediately in front of me who, like me had presumably also expended £20 on his ticket, had his head stuck in a small book which appeared to be nothing other than the Dictionary of Palmistry (which led to my friend and I conducting a loud and lengthy conversation about palmistry and the supernatural world in general). The gentleman in question was wearing a white Excalibur t-shirt. I mention this only because such details are a fundamental part of People Spotting. The shirt had a quotation on the back in italics which read something like: Come hold the Elixir. My immediate thought from the t-shirt's design was that he might be one of those people who participated in re-enactments of ancient battles. His wife was the plainest most sensible looking women I've ever seen. And so I have become convinced that the t-shirt related to a non-alcoholic beer.

Which of course is far worse.

You see what I mean about this place being better than the tube? The tube is but the common and obvious place to play - a beginner's playground. I was on the black run here at the top of the mountain on what seemed like virgin and untouched snow. And I had accompanying music. Dramatic accompanying music. Music that was reminiscent of war.

Royal Festival Hall: pantheon of People Spotting delights.

Next to my friend on my left sat a woman who would gasp and sob and clasp her hands at every change in mood emitted by the orchestra. To my right sat a couple in their fifties. The woman was nearest me and she was annoyingly leaning as far away from here husband as possible. Probably because he was intermittently falling asleep. I could sense her prodding him when his breathing became audible. When he was awake he would cough and then he would end this throat clearing effort with a strange low grumble, like an engine winding down. She would have been better off letting him snore.

These were the people nearest me. It occurred to me that many of the attendees were long suffering husbands who had been dragged their by their wives. These were middle class men, married to women who probably read the Daily Mail and can only be described as battle axes. Yes, us People Spotters get to stereotype wildly. Through the eighties and the advent of Thatcher, these women had gradually become accustomed to dominate their male partners in some horrible rising of feminine dominancy. The comparison that occurred in my mind was the way the One Ring had grown to dominate its various owners. From that you can read into the level of sexism I may or may not possess in whatever way you wish.

Encouraged by that success, I have taken to Cat Watching. My garden seems to be something of a playground for neighbourhood cats - of which there seems to be many (lots of lonely people needing company see?). Today one kitten, amidst attempting to pounce on a felled plastic watering can, suddenly noticed me watching it. Like all the local cats in this position it forgot its previous activity and concentrated on staring back at me.

I did what I always do. Act like a fool. Whenever I get into this scenario a grin unconsciously appears on my face and I start singing whatever tune is in my head substituting the single syllable "mmm" or "aaah" with the less traditional but more relevant "cat". Such a song might go: "cat cat cat cat cat, cat cat, catty cat cat, caaaaaattt...." whilst I jump up and down occasionally hiding behind a doorway and poking my head out. Cats have good hearing so their ears usually prick forward to strain to my melody. It's nice to know someone is making the effort to listen.

What the felines think of a grown man prancing about his house whist staring and singing at them is anyone's guess.

Makes me laugh even typing it now. Until now this was a secret shared only between me and a small community of local cats.

Sometimes I get an audience of two cats at the same time.

Happy days.

Monday, January 19, 2004

And so the world plummets ceaselessly onwards falling freely through space on a path dictated by the gravity of our local star "Sol" or "Sun" and at a more substantial level by our home galaxy the "Milky Way". And possibly also by increasingly massive levels of other gravitational influencing masses above even our Milky Way in the hierarchy of the Universe. And in accordance to this movement as we understand it, time moves silently and determinedly forward here on Earth at our peculiarly distinctive rate.

And so as the seconds tick towards my imminent departure from the northern hemisphere of this planet I look forward to espying in a simple sink the evidence that the Earth does indeed spin on its axis, or if it was all propaganda all along. You see propaganda is a sly beast. All through history it has occurred and throughout people have been utterly convinced by it. In Victorian Britain, the public thought that we were fighting a moral and just war of liberalisation and the spreading of good old British values.

In reality lots of defenceless women and children were put into concentration camps (the actual term was invented and named after British-created camps in the Boer War), whilst the local produce (in this case diamonds - not oil on this occasion) was taken advantage of and us Brits gained an important strategic base for ships sailing east of Africa. Then came along a chap called Hitler; a man who carried the German population in a wave of propaganda-led euphoria. The Cuban Missile Crisis began after Khrushchev saw US nukes on the Soviet border in Turkey and asked "why have we not got nukes on their coast?". The deal that resolved the crisis involved the US pulling its missiles out of Turkey in exchange for the Soviet missiles being turned back across the Atlantic. A victory for Khrushchev then? Not if you ask an American...

And so propaganda has continued evolving right up to the modern day. Is it unsuccessful now we are aware of it?

Somewhat inevitably, I say no.

I'm not talking about spin here. We all know that a government likes to put the best story across we can possibly think of. This is a form of propaganda. But at a more fundamental level it is an old magician's trick designed to make you miss the real propaganda. A magician will wave one hand theatrically making you think he is doing the trick in that hand whilst his other hand - or some other part of his body - performs the real illusion. It is called "distraction".

This magician is using his arse to pick the Ten of Clubs out of a deck of cards

Take the Hutton report. This is a British inquiry into the apparent suicide of weapons expert David Kelly, who knew much about Iraq's weapons. This is a distraction. The inquiry is distracting us from the continued failure to find weapons of mass destruction which was after all how the coalition attempted to justify its invasion. But the whole issue of weapons of mass destruction is a distraction (apologies for the tongue twistery nature of all this) from the real reason the coalition invaded in the first place (depose Sadaam/make money for particular oil, arms, and communications business' which all coincidentally happen to have connections with US administration/secure a strategic base/part of the once-every-eight-years arms fair [anything to do with most arms having a shelf-life of eight years before having to be scrapped anyway?]/re-elect Bush and Blair - choose from one or all of these options; I don't know which are valid or not).

Of course this whole business is simply a distraction from a failure to provide any decent security and from the failure to expend any moral effort towards the well-being of people in the third-world.

And so the big conspiracy begins, because all that is just distraction - a mere magic trick. If propaganda is as affective as it has always been in the past then we should question it all.

How do you know the Earth goes round the sun? Have you actually seen it? Have you seen the Milky Way?

Okay, so you've seen it, but is it anything more than a pretty band of stars?...

How do you know that Newton even existed? Met him have you? Tony Blair could be computer generated as far as I know. Do you know any better?

I fucking thought not.

Thanks to Mike for generously hosting my MP3's. It means faster downloads and massive amounts more space to host them in, so I can get more than three or four on. Hence the five you see now. Two more to come soon I hope... Also thanks to him for a short HTML-of-the-future tutorial which might have made its way to the site. But for the moment I will leave on the back burner. Mainly because it's far too bloody much effort...

Thursday, January 15, 2004

I am going travelling.

Which is bloody marvellous as it means I get to burn many a bridge.

Yesterday for instance I got to resign from my work. Which also means… Hang on a sec: I’ve got Sky One on and I’m watching a woman telling a small dog its future after watching it walk over randomly scattered tiles on the studio floor. A kind of doggy tarot if you will. The floor is on the opposite side of the ceiling of the room I sit in as I write and I am now directing my cynical energy upwards in an attempt to affect the cards. BWAA HA HA HA HA HA HA !!! Difficult to know if this is having an affect. But if he could know Mr Grant would surely storm, or more likely waddle, down here and give me a piece of his mind. But it will not happen as the contents of my brain are strictly my own, and others are unable to read them. It is not a special ability of mine it is just that psychic forces are BOLLOCKS.

But seriously, you have to wonder about people don’t you? And no, the potential existence of “forces we don’t understand” is not a valid defence of this archaic and superfluous shit. Good television though if you like a laugh.

Yes, anyway, I’m off to Bangkok in March. And I’m not coming back till the funds I have been carefully marshalling together are expired. I hope to visit Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, various bits of Thailand, and any other parts of the region that take my fancy. In fact I may simply jump on a boat and let my destiny drift along with it. Chugging down the Mekong River, only occasionally alighting to search for mangos, is also a possibility.

Hence the changes to Charging Through The Midfield I have been referring to in the last few months. Clearly, maintaining this site will be a bit difficult. However I hope to be posting news of my travels when I can. You may therefore look forward to an unreliable frequency of perspectives of other parts of our world. With any luck, and a bit of effort, I will not be merely copying the group emails I shall also be writing. The vast majority of travellers like sending these to friends back home because it gives them a sense of superiority. And I am no different.

The plane I will be flying over in is an Airbus A340. Here is a picture of one I found on the Internet:

(Here's a nicer picture of my carrier's A340 for my Mum): clicky clicky Mum

“Saturn is in Capricorn” apparently. Although I always thought that Saturn was one of the jovian planets orbiting in the Solar System on a plane between Jupiter and Uranus. And that Capricorn was a constellation of stars that appeared from the Earth’s surface to be in proximity to each other (but not in actuality of course) and to which some ancient civilisation had attributed symbolic meaning to probably as an aid to navigating the night sky and/or in relation to some form of spiritual endeavour.

Hmm, perhaps my indifference towards Russell Grant’s show has been heightened by the fact that I had barely began my resignation speech to my boss when he had to rush off to deal with some problem or other with aforesaid mentioned broadcast. Not much of a bridge burning then – more like standing under a bridge holding a lighter. Which isn’t very satisfactory at all. I still await the end of that conversation.

On a different note I have decided to start a new series of randomly publishing my friends emails:

For this post it is my mate Dave’s. Dave lives in Bristol and has just moved into a house opposite a butchers shop that sells, among other things, crocodile meat. Why not drop him a line? bulabulapesci@hotmail.com

Saturday, January 10, 2004

If you are a regular here, you may have noticed that I have mastered a certain function on Photoshop - see above. Also, I have been playing around with more music, so I am typing this as I upload the mp3's onto a server. Since I am hoping to upload 4 at roughly 2 to 3 Mb each and I am using a 56kb modem, I have plenty of time....

Which admitedly isn't too interesting for you to read, although you will hopefully see the fruits of this labour to your left. Or perhaps I will even post some linkies here (and at this point I have left a blank space):

Apple Of My Eye.MP3

Shape Of Things To Come.MP3

(And continued writing here:) I am currently also spending the time speaking to an old Uni' friend by the name of Mike. He has a fixation with gaining world domination via evil methods. Currently Mike is planning to construct an enormous tesla coil capable of producing enough heat and using up enough electricity to melt the polar icecaps. But not before he buys up large tracts of desert and land in areas high high high above sea level.

Ah, now Rob has come online and is trying to encourage me to visit Vietnam so we can shoot a cow with a grenade launcher for $30.


Just uploaded the files after half-an-hour and the whole lot are useless. Technical reasons folks. Not complicated, but too cumbersome for me to work out how to explain simply. As someone who works in television, I find myself putting out "Technical reasons" as an excuse many many times regardless of the nature of the interruption. Although this is usually for both simplistic and political reasons.

Anyway, and as I upload the files again... Mike has said that a better game would be to put a herd of cows in a field of landmines and take bets on which cow would last the longest. Shit, this is boring reading matter isn't it?....



My modem cut off near the end!

Bastard Internet. Right, I'm trying again, but this time I'm spending the time eating and watching Premiership highlights on the telly. Bastards!

Finally did it and hurrah!... My site has exceeded it's bandwidth. Why? Because whilst on Messenger I encouraged Mike to download the stuff already on my site. So if you decide to peruse my work I ask you to be patient and try a diferent day should Tripod refuse you access.

I thank you.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Not that I am particularly fond of reality TV, but I reckon it should be extended to other areas of life. Which you might think is a bit strange considering other areas of life are reality in themselves. But I think reality can be made all the more real by giving us access to more parts of it at any one time.

And the case in point I make is the also the reason I thought of it in the first place. I was sitting on the top deck of the 139 omnibus that runs from Oxford Circus to West Hampstead and was pleasured to notice that the driver had left his intercom on. Marvellously, my driver was one of those characters who has a nice word and a cheeky smile for any non-miserable commuter who passes his way; and he was a Rastafarian at that – always a group of people I have a certain fondness for. So through a cheap and crackling speaker above my head I could hear his every word. And it certainly enhanced my journey – an excellent soundtrack to go with my large screens of moving London scenery.

The 139 is also the route that goes over the zebra crossing that was utilised by John, Paul, George and Ringo on The Beatles’ Abbey Road album cover, so I spent half the journey secretly hoping that we’d run over some American tourists trying to re-create the image when we got there. I had to be realistic though: only Japanese tourists ever bother to venture down to Abbey Road, and they are too sweet to incur the wrath of a red bus driving Rastafarian. If you ever get the chance to visit this site of pop history, don’t bother. It really is just a zebra crossing and a road. There’s a bit of graffiti on the wall outside the Abbey Road Studios itself, but apart from that all you’ll experience is a journey into upper middle class suburbia on a bus that probably hasn’t got it’s drivers intercom switched on.

Interesting eh?

Which is a shame because if Ken Livingstone really wants to encourage people onto buses he could do a lot worse than to introduce schemes like the one I have proposed.

More bus shenanigans comes from my mate Simon who, during the early hours of New Years Day, found himself crammed inside a particularly busy bus when all hell broke loose upstairs. A number of individuals who had lost control of their brains after imbibing alcohol broke into a fight. It apparently spilled downstairs, escalated and the bus had to give up its journey. This is the sort of thing that wouldn’t happen in the future.

Not because we would have ways of curtailing the violent effects of alcohol; nor because we might have different forms of transportation. I imagine we will have both those things and neither will be used put to use due to political and social idleness. But because we will all surely be carrying compressed custard pies in our wallets, so small we could have carry many without feeling the extra weight or inconvenience. And at the mere suggestion of a scrap, out they would come for a right royal wrangle.

And lo, the Accident and Emergency Departments up and down the country would contain only empty plastic chairs (although I still reckon fireworks in the future will burn peoples eyes, but then I reckon by then eye emergencies will have been contracted out to optometrists) and the NHS could concentrate on giving us all free gill implants for when we want to swim under water for up to 45 minutes at a time. And the police could concentrate on supervising protestors and naughty people on the Internet. And we’d all have a right fucking good laugh every time some idiot tried to start a fight. And these idiots are usually the sorts who like expensive clothes with labels (which in the future are almost certain to be animated and therefore even more annoying and tacky) and I’m the sort who would carry around maximum-staining pies, so as I’m sure you can understand I’m really looking forward to the future.

And so I cry in a literary written sense: Hurrah for the future and all its neo-potential possibilities…

Does that make sense?

Frankly I don’t give a nicely perfumed shit.