Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Jim Radford

I'm back from Wales, it was fun, I'll write about it later. I came across this when I was doing my 'back in the 21st century' celebratory internet surfing. He's someone I've seen and heard many times in various folk clubs around south east london. Have a listen, he's got an amazing voice and a seemingly infinite repertoire of shanties, songs of the sea, and folk ballads.

This is a good example of the sort of song he performs - songs that describe recent history with the timelessness of really old folk songs. This particular one is about the Battle of Gallipoli, one of the bigger bloodbaths of the first world war. It isn't very well known in the UK because the losses were mostly Australians, Kiwis, Canadians, and Indians* -- soldiers from the colonies always seem to get left out of popular conceptions of 20th century warfare.


*As well as the Turks, of course, whose losses were no less horrific for the fact that they were the nominal victors

Monday, July 21, 2008


I took this picture with the intention of shaming the people who keep persuading me not to cut my hair (kristen and sarah, I'm looking at you) by demonstrating just how stupid they'd made me look. When I actually put the picture up on the computer, however, I thought it looked rather good. So I'll let you off for now.

I'm going on holiday to wales on wednesday with my family and some friends. We're camping, which of course means that the word document known as the 'camping list' is once again printed out. This thing was written in the late 1980s, but hasn't ever been changed because it's generally a pretty good reminder of the sort of thing you need, even if my parents tent weighs about a tenth of the old family one, despite being much bigger.

It is a rather odd document, that has been transferred from one format to another and opened with every program between Wordstar and Openoffice. It does contain certain anachronisms though, like the section headed "I wanna doa Weeeeee", which dates to a time when me and ed still don't have absolute control over our bladders.

I shall leave you with the section headed "Toys"


A few Cars

Limited Teddies

Buckets, Spades, Diggers.


I just love the idea of 'limited teddies' (our car was quite small)



Very good song, combining three different flavours of awesome (Norman Cook, David Byrne, and Dizzee Rascal) with a very good video. The funniest part about this video is what you see when you look at the comments on youtube, which are full of people complaining about the censorship. Put a funny and creative use of censorship in front of a teenage boy and he can think only of the graphic nudity he's missing.

Also, the new Hold Steady album, Stay Positive, is brilliant. As expected.

Monday, July 14, 2008


I'm generally a pretty liberal 'believe whatever you want' sort of geezer, but there are times when I am left rather baffled. My work involves quite a lot of reading up on the religious attitudes and perspectives to various aspects of human sexuality and reproduction and some of them are really quite disturbing.

Take, for example, the old testament view on menstruation - Dig Leviticus 20:18, which says sex with a woman who's menstruating is all evil and nasty, which is valid enough, I suppose (although I'm not sure why you'd want to punish people for it) but then there's the rather more unpleasant sentiments in Leviticus 15:19-24 which essentially says that any man who goes near a woman who is menstruating has whatever the religious equivalent of cooties/lurgi is, and has to go and sit in the corner of the playground until his friends think he's clean again. Now I know that Leviticus is sort of like the dusty attic of Judeo-Christian religions, where a strange elderly relative sits and denounces everything, but seeing as people take some parts of it very seriously indeed, it worries me what else they're going to take as, if you'll excuse the pun, gospel.

The stuff I read, that is completely in earnest, means that when I come across something like this on one of my searches I'm honestly not sure whether it's a joke or not (it is). Which of course wrongfooted me, so that when I read this I thought that I was reading The Onion, but no. Sadly not.


Friday, July 11, 2008

Don't look back

I have absolutely no idea why I started doing this, but earlier on I started to read through the archives of my old email account (which I stopped using as my main account in winter 2005). Because my brother didn’t have a computer of his own, and my family didn’t use any sort of instant messenger thingy, there was a near constant stream of quite lengthy emails flying backwards and forwards between me, Eddie, Dad, and various friends at other universities. Looking back at them I’m not hugely interested in the emails that I received, as they tell me things that I either remember anyway, or don’t really feel particularly enlightened for knowing. The thing that fascinates me is reading my old emails to others, daisychained along in a big string of correspondence under my friend's responses. Hotmail didn’t record any sent mail then, and I don't think it does now, unfortunately, so I have only the emails that I got replies to, but it’s still an interesting little study.

What I’ve learned is that I was really embarrassing. Even in emails written when I was just a few weeks shy of my 19th birthday, settled into uni life and in a relationship with someone much more mature than me, I was still writing like an overexcited child about everything. In any email where I mention something to do with women you can actually hear me puffing my chest out and talking in an artificially low voice. I didn’t think it was possible, but I seemed to have a writing style that sounded as ridiculous as my early experiments with facial hair looked. Amongst other things, I come across as a complete prick, arrogant and insensitive to the point that it seems like some kind of absurd parody of a teenage boy. Looking back, I like to think that that tone is the result of some sort of misguided bravado, as I don’t think I was ever that much of a wanker; I did have some friends, after all. Then again, looking at the emails I wrote to J* and the steaming moron fumes that rise from them, I can only assume that I really was as much of a jerk as I seemed.

It makes me worry now about this, about all the writing that gets collected. I write this blog, I use google talk (which keeps everything archived) all the time, and I write emails to people all the time. I think that the end result of this is that people like me are never going to be able to escape the stupidity of their past selves. Even this post, for example, will probably make me cringe in a few years time – if you look back through the archives to the old posts on here you’ll find plenty that make me cringe now (I don’t know why I’ve not bothered to delete them, I suppose it would feel like cheating, editing myself somehow).

In the past I expect that this was an affliction only suffered by writers who had to look back at their juvenilia in their collected editions, which had to flick past all those clumsy and imitative works that they’d long since surpassed and forgotten. Most people were lucky enough to never be confronted with artefacts of how they used to think, and could just pretend that they'd always thought in the way they did in the present.

That is, of course, assuming that I have changed. Perhaps I’ve not, and in a few years the changes that seem mountainous to me will seem insignificant and barely noticeable. I mean, I’ve just written this whole thing, in exactly the form you see it before you, in about five minutes. I’m pretty sure that come the morning it will look just as excitable and childish as the stuff that lurks, like a cupboard full of slanderous skeletons, in the depths of my hotmail account.

I should tighten up the security on that thing. Just in case.


*not her real name, in case you hadn't guessed - her name had more syllables and vowels and suchlike.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Two Poems

The similarity pleased me, it teaches us two things: firstly, casual sex isn't a new invention, and secondly, the ladies love poets.

Woman's Constancy

John Donne (1572-1633)

Now thou hast loved me one whole day,
Tomorrow when thou leav'st, what wilt thou say?
Wilt thou then antedate some new made vow?
Or say that now
We are not just those persons, which we were?
Or, that oaths made in reverential fear
Of love, and his wrath, any may forswear?
Or, as true deaths true marriages untie,
So lovers' contracts, images of those,
Bind but till sleep, death's image, them unloose?
Or, your own end to justify,
For having purposed change, and falsehood, you
Can have no way but falsehood to be true?
Vain lunatic, against these 'scapes I could
Dispute, and conquer, if I would,
Which I abstain to do,
For by tomorrow, I may think so too.

Comeclose and Sleepnow
Roger McGough (1937-)

it is afterwards
and you talk on tiptoe
happy to be part
of the darkness
lips becoming limp
a prelude to tiredness.
Comeclose and Sleepnow
for in the morning
when a policeman
disguised as the sun
creeps into the room
and your mother
disguised as birds
calls from the trees
you will put on a dress of guilt
and shoes with broken high ideals
and refusing coffee

It's got to the point now where I actually cover up the covers of the books I read on the train for fear that people think I'm a poser.


Monday, July 07, 2008

Mr Ben's Guide to Publishing

I don't like to post shop, but sometimes I feel obliged to.

My work, as I've mentioned before, requires me to write about sex, and all manner of sexual topics, whilst maintaining a sensible, even handed and rational perspective. I resist the temptation to write rude words in the captions under pictures of antifeminist activists, and I refrain from giggling when I'm in the office.

There are times though, when my noble intentions are undone. These times generally involve the picture research department who I'm sure, sometimes, are deliberately trying to make me laugh. It's generally at its funniest when they're trying to find pictures for things that they can't illustrate directly (because our publisher don't want no filth)

Take for example the article on premature ejaculation. Obviously they couldn't have a picture of a happy looking bloke lying on top of a woman who looked distinctly peeved. So they decided to try and represent the pain and frustration these men feel. The result made me want to write the caption 'd'ooh, I did it again... and I've not even left the office yet.'

The next one, impotence, can't be illustrated directly either (a picture of a big floppy cock wouldn't go down well with most American publishers) so again, picture research went for expressive - The result: 'my inability to get an erection makes me a saaaad paaaanda'

This one is a rejected possible image for an article on father's rights. I wanted an image that illustrated some aspect for visitation rights for estranged fathers. Instead I got an image which illustrates visitation rights from beyond the grave! I especially like the way that the double breasted suit gives a strange sort of 'twilight zone' feel to the image.

This last thing isn't a stock image, but it made me laugh nonetheless. It's a graph detailing the time elapsed between vaginal intromission and intravaginal ejaculation, referred to as the intravaginal ejaculatory latency time (IELT)*
Ref. Bandolier

I was interested and not smirking at all until I saw the far right of the graph. which made me smile.

Other than that I can only recommend that you check out a study into the relationship between bumper stickers and road rage and further evidence that the founding fathers were cool, and that Bush is a bit of a nob really. Oh. and on a slightly less serious note, a man playing a giant flying V.

Hmm. I seem to have forgotten what I was writing about and just started posting random links. Oh well.


*I love it when scientists talk dirty, oh yeah.