Friday, 21 January 2011

Confronting demons

We all grow up with monsters...they mostly hide under the bed or in the wardrobe, terrorising us when we go to sleep. Pixar did a very good job in turning childhood fear into humour. For most of us, as we grow up the monsters go away. Today I saw a monster. A real live monster.

I assumed my place at the Iraq Inquiry this morning, surrounded by parents of dead boy soldiers. One wore a gold heart with her son's picture engraved on it. By the end of the morning, not one left without shedding tears. Some walked out when Tony Blair made a self-righteous, self-justifying statement at the end of his evidence. Others shouted at him when he left the room. He didn't look anyone in the eye. He had smiled at Lord Chilcott when he first arrived, but left grim-faced just after 2.00pm.

We learnt many things. The invasion was because after 9/11 it was important that UN resolutions were enforced. By invading we cowed dangerous countries into given up weapons of mass destruction - Libya was the only country he could name. There were unlimited resources for our forces to use - nobody had asked for more than they got. The policy that led to war was discussed extensively amongst all ministers....there are no records, because many of the meetings were informal. Ministers didn't need briefing papers on the background...but if they asked they could have had them. He didn't need a second resolution to go to war, and Lord Goldsmith understood that once he understood the negotiations behind Resolution 1441. Tony thought it good enough for us to get a 'majority' in the security council...a veto wouldn't have mattered, providing there was a majority. And so it went on....blah, blah, blah.

My arrival had been interesting - I joined a queue with my blue invitation, only to be pulled out by an official saying to someone with a green invite - "Green is good, blue is even better." I was taken to the front of the queue, with the same official saying "Ah Mr Nota Bene we know your name well". Once through the lines of armed police and scanners, I was searched. The one of the men in blue noticed I was seat zero. He quickly called over all his fellow officers, all with machine guns, all with heavy body armour. "Look seat 0" he said as they gathered. After a short pause one said, "No don't worry, that's just second row seat zero." I was allowed through. And the proceedings began with Mr Blairs appearance. He was very tanned and was taller than I expected. But then that's the point about monsters, they can be even bigger in real life than in your imagination.

So should I have thrown a shoe? I wore an older pair today. And perhaps I should. It had been a very serious consideration. My fifteen minutes of fame. But the truth is, many of the people there had more reason than me to complain...and the mother next to me said she wanted 'dignified protest'. My shoes stayed on my feet.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

I've got the hump

Yesterday was Gallery day, and I hummed and ha-ed about what to post, but couldn't really think of anything that fitted the theme. A little disappointing as I like to participate, but eventually I just commented that I'd given up, but would look at some of the entries. Now call me a liar, if you will, but I've not had a chance to browse the entries, and now I've found a picture that I thought would be right, so I shall post it.

This morning I went on a social media training course. I need to know for my business, and because I have an innate need to know and understand. I've not yet quite got to the stage of not being able to operate the gadgets around the house (although it is fair to say turning on the TV is now quite a challenge). Of course, one of the key things about commercial social media is driving numbers to your website, to your blog, to your Facebook page, to your Twitter account. So when I mentioned about the blog, I had to take a very deep breath and explain that it is purely, utterly and totally personal and I don't care about visitor numbers. Of course that is an utter lie - I do keep a regular eye on the counter, and would love to have many more visitors and many more follwers (did you see what happened to Grumpy Old Ken when his very excellent and entertaining blog was listed as a 'blog of note' by Google?). I don't know why...its just my competitive nature I guess....not that I will do anything to chase readers. Unlike that shameless Auntie Gwen who mentions sex at every possible opportunity. And she swears a lot. Also that Steve, who keeps putting up pictures of attractive women. Of coure, I shall ignore any suggestion that they have more readers because their blogs are better. Anyway, the course was really interesting, and if I get my sorry ass into gear and do what I'm supposed to, it will have been incredibly useful. Thank you Warren.

I'm a little over excited to be honest. In fact very, very over excited. Very few things really get me going...actually I'm laid back enough that in my entire life, I can count the number of times I've been really excited on the fingers of my hands. After a failed previous attempt, tomorrow I get to go to the Iraq Inquiry to see the war criminal Tony Blair perform. I'm hoping it's a very juicy session. I suspect it will be. I'm still thinking of wearing an old pair of shoes so I can throw one...but for some reason the family thinks this is a bad idea. The Cat's Mother says she won't post bail. Still...if I get 250 new followers, I might just be tempted!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Sometimes you have to pay for it

But fortunately it comes in a handy tube from John Lewis

The Boy and I went to the London Bike Show on Sunday - The Cat and The Cat's Mother went off to a nephew's birthday celebrations. I'm not sure who got the better deal. The Boy and I were not really speaking after a furious - very furious - argument the night before. We don't argue much. In fact just once a year. Always in January. But when we argue it's like the Third World War. So not much fun for anyone around us either. And it started off as something relatively small - The Boy not back home when he was expected, before it accelerated and spiralled out of control into something apocalyptic. Kids! Who'd have 'em?

The show was quite a may be that we've both grown out of exhibitions, or maybe we just weren't in the mood. However, if you've got a spare £16,000 (that's more than I paid for my car, and double what I paid for my motorbike) you could get this:

It's so light that it can be picked up by your little finger. Still at that price I'd have hoped for front and rear lights.

On the up side, we did see Danny Macaskill - something of a hero for us both. Here's a YouTube clip (can anyone tell me why they don't format properly on my blog? Any ideas of how to fix would be much appreciated) and the accompanying song is one of my all time favourites

Monday, 17 January 2011

If you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen

"It'll be a baptism of fire for your new raincoat today". Well it's raining. It's a raincoat. There is no fire. If it doesn't keep me dry, it's not a raincoat. End of.

I've been reading Justin Halpern's 'Shit my dad says'. He became a social network sensation for posting up things his father's comments. Very funny. Well worth a read. It's a popcorn book.

We went to see 'The King's Speech' on Friday night. The cinema was more packed than I've seen for years. Harry Potter showings excepted. A quite remarkable film. Very well done indeed. It should be Oscars all round for Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush (especially) and Helena Bonham Carter. I suspect it won't...a bit too 'British' for that, but a truly awesome film.

Unfortunately, Friday is where it all started to go wrong. And by Saturday morning, my blood was boiling. I had to leave.

The boiler had gone wrong and wouldn't turn off. Not even the on/off switch would do anything. Not even the thermostat would do anything. Not even the programmer would do anything. Saturday, and the temperature inside the house hit 28 degrees. That's hotter than Cyprus. The boiler man came. He did a lot of head scratching, and commenting "To be absolutely honest with you...." He did at least shows us a mains switch to cut the electricity. And a leaky valve. He's going to consult with his boss and come back to us. So in Brighton we have no heat and no hot water. In Loughton we have a surfeit of both. A statistician would not doubt say, on average we're fine.

I have a feeling it may take a while to resolve.