Do you know, I genuinely didn’t think it would bother me, selling all my collection of old indie cassettes, but I’ve just put them up for sale on eBay here, and only afterwards did I suddenly feel terribly sad about the whole business. I spent a decade collecting these tapes (I couldn’t afford CDs and didn’t much like vinyl; plus, I mostly listened to music on my Walkman), but since I got a job and could afford to buy CDs then these tapes have been gathering dust in a forgotten drawer. And now we need to clear out some stuff to make room for all the new stuff we/Millie are getting and it was just time for these old friends to go.

Most of them I’ve at least got mp3 copies of, if not actual replacement CDs, and the simple fact is that I never ever play cassettes any more – I’m not even sure we have a cassette player in the house!

Still, these tapes were carried around with me from sixth form in Swindon to uni in Wolverhampton, then from Wolverhampton down to London, then all around London; they’ve been around for some of the most formative years of my life…but I guess it’s time to move on.

It’s going to be a brand-new year very soon, and maybe it’s time to cast off some of that old history and make some new history, eh?

So bring it on 2006…I’m ready (although, could we have an easier year than 2005, perhaps, eh?)

Essence du Millie

I can’t help but keep looking at the picture of Millie below, the one of her in her high chair (very very generously given to us by my old friend from Swindon, Mark Williams, and his wife Sara) just before she starts eating/spreading food around her face.

Please do tell me if you think I’m completely wrong, but that photo just seems to capture a certain essence of “baby”: Millie sat on her own, dwarfed by a huge high chair that she can only just see over; dressed in a plastic bib that shows her parents are prepared for some real mess, and she’s looking straight at the camera with a slightly uncertain face, one that has no idea what’s going on, despite all the accoutrements of meal time in front of her.
It has a beautiful innocence and naivete to it, as well as an air of vulnerability.

I could look at this picture all day. 🙂

Millie088 Millie089

You want me to work when???

Boo! Stupid work – fancy making me come in over the Christmas break!
It’s nominally to “maintain a skeleton crew”, so there’s always someone there to answer the ‘phones to clients (who are mostly away for the Christmas break!).

Here’s how that works…

ME (answering phone): Good morning, Acme Subtitling Company.
CLIENT: Hello, can I speak to Charlie Farnsbarnes, please?
ME: No, sorry, he’s not back in the office until January.
CLIENT: Oh. Well, can I speak to Julie Swahooli, then?
ME: No, sorry, she’s not back until January either.
CLIENT: Blast. Well, perhaps you can help me? It’s Constantinople Smith from the Ultimate Film Company. Do you know when the Kazikistan subtitles for King Kong will be ready?
ME: Whoa, cool! Are we subtitling King Kong?!?! Excellent! I love that film, dude!
CLIENT: Goodbye. (Hangs up)

On the more interesting Millie side of things, she’s going to be trying solid food for the first time today – probably in about 40 minutes time. It’s only going to be a single spoonful of “baby rice” (whatever that is) but, still, pretty exciting, eh? The Lovely Melanie’s going to ring me up and let me know what happens, but, as they used to say on the start of Stingray – “Anything could happen in the next half-hour.”

Millie also got A LOT of presents over Christmas, far too many to even begin to list here. Suffice to say, the Lovely Melanie had to order a toy-chest from Argos yesterday. So, many thanks from us to absolutely everyone who bought a present or sent a Christmas card for our little girl – and, I’d like to say, especially to those who’ve never even met her! Thank you.

We had a lovely Christmas, too – a great Christmas Day round “Uncle” Simon’s house (by the Old Kent Road) with “Uncle” R Kelly, “Auntie” Sam and “Uncle” “Local Businessman” Shash Khan, during which we ate and drank rather more than was strictly necessary (or desirable), opened more presents, and completely failed to watch the Queen’s Speech – although we did actually want to this year, because a friend of mine was subtitling it on Sky TV, and since he only had a couple more days left at work we thought he might “spice it up” a bit… (he didn’t).

Still, I’m reliably informed that the speech was as anodyne and pointless as usual, so no great loss there.

Millie was incredibly well behaved, even to the point of letting us eat a delicious Christmas dinner with all the trimmings in peace while she “played” with (or rather, dribbled over and manhandled) a new toy; she laughed and gurgled away to anyone who would listen almost all day long.

I then stayed up until 1.30am playing my new favourite computer game, which I got for Christmas, Darwinia. That was rather silly of me as Millie is always always always up at 7am (at the latest) every morning… But, hey, it was Christmas!

What else did I get? Hm, well, it was a pretty good year, present-wise – so muchos thanks to everyone for my presents! The Lovely Melanie bought me a training flight in a microlight (something I’m really looking forward to! Imagine, it’s the closest thing to actually flying yourself – nothing but a small engine and what looks like a few pieces of tent put together wrong keeping you airborne!), plus some lovely Caribbean rum, a couple of CDs, socks, etc.
Good socks, too!

Boxing Day saw my parents and my brother and his girlfriend come to visit for the day, and make a fuss of Millie, which was again very nice indeed. I took my parents and Millie for a walk round Honor Oak (and was surprised at how well my dad managed that, given that he’s not been terribly well since he had his pacemaker fitted – there’s been a lot of trouble with it…)

We went up One-Tree Hill and over to Blythe Hill Fields – both pretty big hills, for London, at least, and I was glad to get back home after a couple of hours of that. Still, at least I burned off some of the day before’s excess.

And yesterday we had the Lovely Melanie’s parents and her sister and her boyfriend come round in the afternoon, and even more fuss was made of Millie (and she still took it in her stride, bless her).
And now I’m back at work, tired and looking forward to New Year’s Eve… Sigh.

Is America going sane again?

As if it weren’t cheering enough that all those fledgling democracies in South America are voting in more and more left-wing leaders, and that US senators (or whatever they’re called) voted not to renew the scary, anti-freedom, Paranoia Act – sorry, Patriot Act – then we hear that a US judge has ruled that the loony religious nonsense known as “intelligent design” should not be taught in science lessons because…well, because it isn’t science, basically!

The always readable New Scientist put it this way –
[Judge John Jones of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania] ..systematically dismantled the arguments of the proponents of intelligent design. Jones said that the history of intelligent design shows that it is essentially creationism with explicit references to God and the Bible removed.

Jones also said that language in the school board statement that evolution is only a “theory” is misleading. It confuses the scientific and colloquial meanings of “theory”. And by singling out evolution from all other scientific theories it suggests that there is some special doubt about the truth of evolution.

The judge stated that intelligent design cannot be considered science for a number of reasons. By depending on a supernatural cause it violates the basic ground rules of science that have been in place since the 16th century.
He also found that intelligent design relies on the “false dualism” that if evolution can be disproven, then intelligent design is proven. In any case, he found that intelligent design’s criticisms of evolution have been largely refuted.

And wasn’t it so nice to see all-round God-type person Pat Robertson on TV saying afterwards that if Pennsylvania was hit by a terrible disaster anytime soon then it would be all their own fault and that they deserved it?
So much for ‘loving thy neighbour’ and ‘turning the other cheek’…

A weekend in Swindon

Just back from a very nice weekend in Swindon, during which Millie was very well behaved indeed, and charmed everybody she met. Unfortunately, she’d stored up all her bad behaviour ready for when she got home, till even the normally unflappable Lovely Melanie nearly lost her temper with such a badly-behaved baby. 😦

Anyway, she’s gone to sleep now. So I could tell you about Carter Family Christmas Party 2005, Caroline and Princey’s Christmas Party, not to mention the McGlone Family and the all-new May family (little Jack May, you may remember, was due to be born long before Millie, but Millie is actually older then him by a couple of weeks now).

Oh, and thanks to various people over the past week who’ve said they read and love my little old website – some more unexpected than others – and for the positive feedback about the little Millie link above; turns out a few people out there think it’s rather sweet. Cos it took me, like, oh god, hours and hours to get just right. Oh, yeah. Definitely hours and not just a few minutes. Oh, no.

Finally, a little bit of a “big up” to an American folky/bluegrass band I’ve discovered called The Everybodyfields, who are very very good. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but I like their new album, Plague Dreams, a lot. Sadly, it’s nigh-on impossible to get hold of in the UK, but I wrote to them asking how I could buy one and they very generously offered to post me a copy and pay for the international postage, which was most generous, I thought.

So I was quite glad to find that such a nice bunch of people had made such a very good album. 🙂