Monday, October 30, 2006

I smelt a smell that wasn't there 

I had a nasal hallucination on Friday night. I woke up and could smell popcorn very strongly. It wasn't really there. I could tell that much. If I concentrated I could smell other things, the bed, the pillow, me but, in my head, I could smell popcorn.

It was sickly sweet and rather strong. It actually made me feel a bit sick.

I've worked out why I smelt it but it's not nice. Read on if you dare!

I get cold sores and have done ever since I was a child. One place I get them is in my right nostril. You could probably make as much of a guess as to how they got there as I. They crop up there occasionally and look slightly less unsightly than they would on my lip.

Anyhow, I noticed a batch on Saturday morning so I guess my phantom smell was the cold sores. Is this a scientific first? Cold sores smell like popcorn?

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Friday, October 27, 2006

Adam and the Ants 

Oh dear. Yes, that's right. This posting is about Adam and the Ants.

Goodness knows why I liked them originally. I've got a vague idea it was something to do with a boy I fancied at school or something to do with starting to enjoy music about a decade after my peers. I don't know. I just remember the music formed a big part of my late teens.

I recently bought the CD versions of the vinyl I used to listen to for £5 each at HMV. I listened to them and was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed them. Not just the hits (Ant Music, Stand and Deliver, Prince Charming) but some of the other tracks that I remember enjoying which weren't commercial successes (Picasso Visita El Planeta De Los Simios [Picasso visits the Planet of the Apes], S.E.X.] and even some tracks that I thought were complete self-indulgent claptrap at the time (Mile High Club, Mowhok, Feed Me To The Lions).

There were some that were complete rubbish, however.

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Either EastEnders and Coronation Street share the same writers or there is some form of industrial espionage at work. Perhaps they all shop at StockPlots.com.

Hot on the heels of Fred Elliott's unlikely and sudden death on the way to the altar in Corrie, in EastEnders, we have Johnny Allen's unlikely and sudden death on the way to the phone to order a hit on Sean Slater.

I've seen this happen before. One show or the other introduces a plot that is echoed in the other. Perhaps they watch EastEnders in Coronation Street.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Unlikely StreetEnders 

We watch Coronation Street and Eastenders. I didn't before I met David but now I do.

Just recently the storylines of both soaps have taken an unlikely turn. In Corrie, a serial proposer has managed to get one of his potential brides to agree to marry him but on the way to the church, from visiting a female friend who regrets not accepting his earlier proposal, he drops dead. His almost-bride has spent the episodes since then drinking and saying "10 more minutes" once an episode.

In EastEnders, Patrick, Yolande and Denise are all shocked to discover that Patrick has a one in five chance of being Denise's father. Denise is a recent addition to Albert Square and hasn't mentioned her parents at all until this very issue came up.

Both events are so unlikely as to be laughable. I know that soaps are meant to be larger than life and that the unlikely is more likely to happen there than in real life but surely, these events are really scraping the bottom of the barrel.

Patrick and Yolande have only just patched their marriage up after Yolande caught Patrick having a fling with Pat Evans. How unlikely is that?

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Friday, October 20, 2006

Yo-yo beard 

Back in August, I said:

I'm starting to not like having a beard. I would shave it off or sculpt it down to a goatee but, now, that seems an even bigger step than growing it in the first place.

So, I shaved down to a goatee and didn't like it. So, I grew the beard back.

The problem is now that I'm going off my beard again.

I don't like the neckline. I don't like the thin patches. I really don't like the grey. And the whole beard is just not as dense as I would like. I'm also beginning not to like the way it feels.

Hardly any of those are new problems and have been there for most of the time I've had a beard (most of the last 7 years). And I have been told, more than once, to leave the neckline alone.

I'm not sure what I will do about this until I'm standing in front of the bathroom mirror tomorrow morning. My gut instinct is to shave it all off and stay clean-shaven for a couple of months until I am thoroughly sick of it and then grow the beard back in its entirety. No messing with necklines this time.

On the other hand, I might also just look at myself in the mirror, tell myself not to be so bloody silly and leave it alone.

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Monday, October 16, 2006

80s album 

I recently bought Electric 80s, a compilation album of odd little 80s songs, most of which are 12" remixes (remember those?). I bought it partly as a nostalgia trip but mainly for one track by The Mobiles called Drowning in Berlin which probably sits in my loft in all its unplayable vinyl glory.

However, the first track on the first disk is a 12" remix of Soft Cell's Torch. I was never a big fan of Soft Cell but the song is not too bad. However, this 12-incher is a little silly. In the middle there is a conversation between an extremely camp and breathy Marc Almond and some girl from Essex. She sings later, making the girls from Human League sound good in the process. This spoken section cracks me up every time I hear it. It is just so awful. Marc Almond should stick to singing.

The lyrics for the whole extended song are, of course, available on the web, can be found here but here's the spoken bits:

Marc Almond: When I first met you. You looked like Billie Holliday. Had that nude backless dress the one with the sequins and the single white gardenia
Essex Girl: I was probably drunk and had no make-up on
MA: Oh, but you had such style
EG: Really?
MA: Nice words you sang. It was probably my life's story
EG: It was mine too
MA: I remember I drank too much and made a fool of myself
EG: You looked OK to me but when you get like me you know you're in trouble
MA: I wanted to grab you and kiss you but I thought you'd hit me [We believe that don't we children?]
EG: Too right, baby

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Say no to 0870 

I heard about this a little while ago and someone reminded me of it recently. It's a great idea. You know all those premium rate lines? You call them and get changed 5p a minute or worse. All of those numbers are actually fronts for real phone numbers and, as long as someone has recorded it there, this website tells you what they are.

I used it to call my old friends NTL. I had a letter from them but addressed to someone who doesn't live at my house. By mistake they put my house number on this woman's account.

Not only have I sorted out the problem but, more importantly, I haven't been charged a huge chunk of money by NTL for the privilege.

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Friday, October 13, 2006


This morning I walked to the station. I had plenty of time so I was ambling along. When I was about three-quarters there, a woman passed me in a wave of perfume.

This was strong perfume. I don't just mean STRONG, I mean STRONG. I could imagine a trail of comatose people and birds falling out of the sky in her wake. It was like she was a little perfumed comet.

I was hoping she'd get far enough ahead for the smell to dissipate enough for me to be able to breathe without coughing but even when she'd got 20 feet ahead of me the smell still lingered. I told you... STRONG.

In the end, I crossed the road and ran, yes ran, up the road before crossing back to be upwind of her. I didn't want there being any chance of her passing me again.

Girls ... You may have burnt out your sense of smell over the years but you really don't have to use a lot of that stuff for us to be able to smell it. Really. Trust me on this one. Less, a great deal less, is so much more.

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Telephone spam 

We all get email spam and all, hopefully, have spam filters to deal with it. Most of us delete it with no thought together with the phishing emails and the other junk that clutters our in-boxes. It is a minor annoyance.

I just had a spam phone call. These are rare things but very annoying nonetheless. There is something more immediate about a phone call. A ringing phone demands your attention. So, by the time I have put whatever music I have been listening to on hold and taken the earphone out of my ear and picked up the phone, I'm fairly keen to find out who wants to speak to me.

It is therefore intensely disappointing to have some recorded American voice bellowing in my ear about holidays.

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Useful saying: Cat in a letter box 

The time when you are trying to insert a contact lens into your eye and it just will not go. Analagous to trying to post a cat through someone's letter box.

Don't try this at home, children!

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Do blogs kill conversation? 

One thought managed to make its way through the course-induced fog last night when I was talking with Paul and that is that anything I would normally have told him had already made its way to my blog and he (hello, Paul!) may have already read it.

If two friends each have blogs and they read them, what on earth can they talk about when they meet in real life?

Maybe I should keep interesting stuff back or put up spoiler warnings like for episodes of Battlestar Galactica or Lost.

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On a lighter note...

My friend Paul came down to London from Glasgow for a lightning visit and met up with me and David last night.

It was really good to see him again. It was a bit of a shame that I was so tired from the training that I had about as much conversation about me as a chair.

I have so much more respect for teachers now. They do an incredible job.

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Planet Rob 

I have just finished the course I have been giving. I've dished out the certificates, given out the evaluation forms and got them back, I've taken my computer back upstairs to my office and handed a copy of the notes to a new colleague who wanted to come on the course but didn't have time.

I've sort of come off a bit of a high now and feel a bit estranged from reality. it's like I'm on my own little planet.

I've been preparing for this course for weeks and the past two and a half days have been very intense, very rewarding and very tiring.

What on earth do I do now?

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006


For the second time at InferMed, I am giving a course in Arezzo. I don't mind doing this. I actually enjoy it. I know the subject as well as one can after working with it for five years and I have written the slides.

It is tiring though. I can't believe how knackered I feel. I can't see why. It's not exactly taxing. I talk for a bit, I set an exercise for the class to do and I sit and wait for them to do the exercise with the occasional spot of help.

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Sunday, October 08, 2006

We Were Rocked! 

Last night, my sister, Jean, and I went to see We Will Rock You again. This was her fourth time and either seven or eight for me. I forget now.

I blogged about this earlier. You might, if you are a regular reader, remember it. I had been told that Oct 7th was to be the last night before it went on tour so I hurriedly bought tickets. Then I was told that the run had been extended so I felt cheated.

However, what we got was the best of both worlds.

Originally, we were hoping for a Last Night atmosphere. A good crowd. People joining in. No, people throwing themselves into the spirit of We Will Rock You, because it would be going away from the Dominion. I think we thought that wouldn't be the case if it really wasn't the last night.

Oh, how wrong!

The audience were filled with regulars who joined in with nearly every number, not just the finale. The cast interacted with the audience and clearly had as good a time as we were having.

Jean and I had, according to the tickets, reduced visibility seats but, well, we didn't. We were in the second row of the circle. We were able to stand at the balcony's edge for We Will Rock You, clapping and punching the air like fools. We waved our glowsticks along to We Are the Champions and bellowed YES!!! to the question "Do You Want Bohemian Rhapsody?"

We also stood in shocked amazement to see Brian May rise out of the stage in a cloud of dry-ice to play guitar along to Bo Rhap.

At times, I did lose interest, especially in the first half. Yes, I've seen that before. Nothing special here. Then the magic grew on me again and the last numbers caught hold of me and I was on my feet.

I will see it again. I know Brian May won't be playing next time. It possibly won't be as good but I want to go again. This time I want to be at the front of the stalls with the real fans.

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