Friday, January 21, 2005

How Raymond Baxter ruined my life.

This morning, after a nourishing breakfast containing all my nutritional requirements in one handy cracker, I travelled to work on Thameslink's fast new monorail service to the centre of London. In the bad old days of rail this would have taken 40 minutes or so on a good day but of course now it takes only 10.

What used to be a short windy walk to the office is now a leisurely glide on a moving walkway enclosed in a perspex tube.

My miracle-fibre silver self-cleaning suit has meant that Mrs Massup's washing machine will soon go the way of her electric iron - to The Science Museum !!

Leisure time is transformed - neither of us has to work for more than 4 hours a day thanks to computers! Last night was particularly rewarding, as I learnt some basic XML by means of a painless cerebral implant. Last year I finally managed to read A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu in the original French in all that lovely spare time!

Where shall we go on holiday this year? Frankly, when you've been to The Moon once you've done it to death - perhaps we'll do something retro like the south of France. After all, you can get there on Fireflash in about 20 minutes, and the kids do love the seaside, though after the first couple of weeks they're starting to get a bit restless.

When I was at school, Raymond Baxter, James Burke and Gerry Anderson all TOLD ME it would be like this. I worked out how old I'd be in 2000 and thought I'd be just the right age to enjoy it. How lucky we all are.


I finally got a reply: (see this). It's no great shakes as a reply, being pure government boilerplate rather than something into which she(Margaret Moran)'s put much work: but it proves she's alive at least.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


I'm under no illusion that this is of any interest to anyone but myself. I'm a bit of a bookworm, and hawkeyed readers (bear with me while I claim to have readers) may have seen my reading list down the right-hand side. The first thing it revealed was that in 2004 I read 47 books. By "books" I mean leisure reading, not manuals, leaflets, pamplets, printouts, web pages or newspapers. So, a little less than 1 a week. I may have to give up newspapers.

It breaks down like this:
47 Books

44 were fiction,
3 non-fiction, of which 2 biography
No. of unique author names 31,
of which 25 were men.
No of living authors (as of today's date) : 21, so 10 were authors now dead.
Authors named George: 3*

The big new thing for me was Alexander McCall Smith's lovely sequence of books beginning with "The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency". Easy to read but beautifully written and with a real way of making you care for the people and the place. Thoroughly recommended, & if I were as good a man as Mr JLB Matekoni I'd have something to be proud of. Although if I was him, I wouldn't be so vain as to be proud of it. Er.

The best new book was probably the Louis de Bernieres. He is the genuine article & I don't think he's written his masterpiece yet.

Continuing pleasures: I always enjoy the Lindsey Davis detective stories set in Vespasian's Rome, and I never let a year go by without at least one Dickens: I thoroughly enjoyed Chuzzlewit again. It's not one of his best-known books and I do find the heavy-handed satire of the American section rather hard going but it's a fine book nonetheless, containing some of his most memorable characters, including a psychologically quite complex "baddy". Terry Pratchett continues to entertain mightiliy, though we were overdue some wizards until his latest came out.

The full list for 2004:

  • The Pickwick Papers - Charles Dickens
  • Monstrous Regiment - Terry Pratchett
  • No1 Ladies' Detective Agency - A. McCall Smith
  • Poachers - Jim Franklin
  • Emotionally Weird - Kate Atkinson
  • Tears Of The Giraffe - A. McCall Smith
  • Scenes From Clerical Life - G. Eliot
  • The Mulberry Empire - P. Hensher
  • The Mauritius Command - P. O'Brian
  • Three Hands In The Fountain - Lindsey Davis
  • The Card - A. Bennett
  • Morality For Beautiful Girls - A. McCall Smith
  • The Hotel New Hampshire - J.Irving
  • Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter - M Vargas Llosa
  • Two For The Lions - Lindsey Davis
  • Tragically I was an Only Twin - The Complete Peter Cook, Ed. William Cook
  • The Kalahari Typing School For Men - A. McCall Smith
  • Martin Chuzzlewit - Charles Dickens
  • The Full Cupboard Of Life - A. McCall Smith
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night-Time - Mark Haddon
  • The Course Of Honour - Lindsey Davis
  • Flashman and The Tiger - George MacDonald Fraser
  • The Emperor's Tomb - Joseph Roth
  • The Accidental Tourist -Anne Tyler
  • Pride And Prejudice - Jane Austen
  • The Children of Dynmouth - William Trevor
  • August - Gerard Woodward (couldn't finish it)
  • General Gordon's Khartoum Diary - ed. Lord Elton
  • Breathing Lessons - Anne Tyler
  • Coming Up For Air - George Orwell
  • The Good Soldier Svejk - Jaroslav Hasek
  • In The Company Of Cheerful Ladies - A. McCall Smith
  • The Grenadillo Box - Janet Gleeson
  • Birds without Wings - Louis De Bernieres
  • The Wee Free Men - Terry Pratchett
  • One Virgin Too Many - Lindsey Davis

*Eliot, Orwell, MacDonald Fraser

Friday, January 14, 2005

A new Word

I learned a new word yesterday. The word was "Putto". If it is new to you too, click the title to go to

If you already knew my new word then you are probably an art historian, or a nerdy know-it-all, or both.

Shall I call him "Algy the Putto"? (see below).

Thursday, January 13, 2005


I got so cross with him this morning that I was maniacally scratching around for something to compare him with. "You're about as useful algae!"

Well, he just lies there blocking out the light, he turns water a funny colour when he lies in it, and how strenuous can photosynthesis be, once you've got the knack?.

So I'll call him Algy from now on.

A snip

The recent dearth of entries on here is due to lack of what B3TA people would call "hummus". This and the fact that I've been almost entirely sober for the last fortnight. And then last Friday I became a jaffa.
Go for it chaps.
I turn up early, which may be a mistake, because it allows time to think, and to imagine the torments of the man before me.
I lie on the table with the bits out. I incongruously recall singing, long ago, as part of a deluded crowd, "we'll be running round Wembley with our willies hanging out". Nurse slips a needle in the arm, and after that it's a Walk in the Park, a veritable Vicarage Tea Party. I'm aware of a certain amount of fiddling about down there: I may have felt a nick once. Nurse and doctor keep up a continuous banter about bloody Emma Bunton (Bunton Banter?).
Is that it? They seem to have finished. "Keep it dry for 2 days, have your stitches out in a week or so, take these pills until they've all gone".
Finished. Bloody hell. A bit woozy from the local. Home. Watch Kill Bill 1 AND 2. Next day, TV, books; sore but not painful. Sunday ditto. Monday, walk dog, back to work.
Wednesday - mad itching as the hair you shaved off starts to come back. You know that feeling, ladies.