mrry (Happy New Year)
Blog Blog Moved 14/Apr/2006

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Blog I've Been To A Marvellous Play 23/Feb/2006

Reading this, you probably don't get the impression of a cultured being. Amongst the arcane technical geekery and shameless indie bandwagon-hopping, I don't dedicate much time to my aesthetic tendencies. In fact, given the dearth of posts recently, I probably give the impression of a man whose hands have fallen off, but that is beside the point.

But this last fortnight has seen me to the theatre thrice. On the Wednesday before last, a generous friend gifted some complimentary (and rather plum) seats at the matinée of Noël Coward's Private Lives, at the King's Theatre. My previous exposure to Coward was limited to Mr. Bridger in The Italian Job and an obscure Divine Comedy cover from the late nineties. The comedy turned out to be a treat, and it made for a lovely afternoon out.

Fast-forward, then, to last night, when the same friend managed to get us tickets to See How They Run: a somewhat lighter, WW2-set farce. Though it lacked Coward's wit, I must admit that it had me rolling about in my seat, if not the aisles.

So far, so mundane. In fact, it would appear that I've adopted the mien of that irritating, self-satisfied Fast Show for whom everything works out just peachy. Which was nice. Such self-consciousness usually heralds your hero's downfall round these parts. Did he fall asleep on the bus home from the theatre? Perhaps he was run over by a blimp. Well, no, in fact everything is just fine, and you can keep your schadenfreude to yourself.

No, the peculiar part of the story comes while we were in the King's for the second time. You see, near the end of the first act, it is revealed that two of the characters previously acted together in… wait for it… Private Lives! Coincidence, n'est pas? At first, I thought it was a rather tacky advert for the other play on at the theatre (much like they drop the names of people who pay a bit of money into pantomimes these days—"Must dash! I'm off to the Opal Lounge with a bunch of egotistical solicitors!"), but it turns out to be a key point in the plot, and the foundation of much of the silliness that is to follow.

We were chuckling about this during the interval, when I remembered the other play that we had seen in the last week. The student theatre company here at Edinburgh put on a sterling performance of Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead all last week. It was superbly acted and staged, even if I didn't get all of the references (perhaps the first paragraph is true after all). Never one to let an anachronism get in the way of a snappy comment, I suggested, "Wouldn't it be funny if they mentioned Ros and Guil in the third act?" Considering, in hindsight, that it was written more than a decade later, it seems only fair that we settled for Hamlet (the play on which it is itself based) instead.

And, as if to confirm our collective solipsism, in the third act Clive blurts out, "I am the ghost of Hamlet's father!" Since I could accept that non sequitur, I wouldn't have been surprised to see a 30 year-old Indian man walk on at the curtain call….



Blog 21 at last 31/Jan/2006

Given as it is the final day of January, I can't think of a more appropriate moment to wish you all a happy new year. In the mean time, so much has happened that I've hardly had time to write it down. Christmas, a three-day-long Hogmanay, a week in the spectacular Highlands, and the small matter of my 21st birthday.

And what difference does being 21 make? I can now drive a bus, stand for election and go into the amusement arcade on Nicolson Street. I can drink alcohol when I finally make it back to the States, and—should I ever feel desperate enough—revisit The Drink in Guildford. But none of these have affected me as much as Saturday, when I had the best night out I've ever had in the company of my friends. I've never liked to name names on here, but I am extremely grateful to everyone who came out on Saturday, for the wonderful gifts and cards, for the excellent company and for all of the surprises. And thank you also to those who wanted to be there but couldn't, who sent their best wishes, and such touching cards and presents. I am truly honoured to have you as friends.

So now that the celebrations have come to an end, I'm still wandering about with a dippy smile on my face, and wondering what I can get away with on my 22nd….



Blog Julsång 24/Dec/2005

Maybe it's because my idea of festive facial hair is rather more "vagrant-style" than Santa Claus, but I've just not been feeling the Christmas spirit this year. Telegraphing this—as in the first act of a third-rate, live-action Disney caper—I spent the afternoon lounging around the ancestral pile watching a trinity of thoroughly unpleasant DVDs (in order: Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, American Psycho and Storytelling). But salvation comes from the most unlikely of places: a repeat of The 100 Greatest Christmas Moments on E4, hosted by Jimmy arsing Carr. And now, with every radio in the house tuned to a different station, they're combining to form the sort of seasonal white noise that I've missed entirely since switching to doing all my Christmas shopping on Amazon. So it's quite unavoidably come to this: my Christmas message.

Of course, Christmas is about one thing only, and that is presents. Since the days when I was impressed by the latest Lego set, this has meant a certain lack of excitement for the 25th of December. Don't get me wrong—I'm not bemoaning an underprivileged childhood—but my parents showed impressive pragmatism around major gifts: why leave them collecting dust and depreciation in some cupboard, when we could be using them all December? Nowadays, it's more along the lines of a phone call, asking, "Is there anything you want for Christmas? I'm thinking a DVD or maybe a CD. Yeah, it's because I need to spend £20 to get free delivery…." It's such an upbringing that leaves me pathologically unable to buy a surprise gift, and also makes me something of a tight-arse.

Now that everything's come to a close for the year, and with the ironic understanding that nothing significant ever happens in the last week of December, we can also start looking back at 2005 through glasses of whichsoever hue you might choose. Since I'm feeling uncommonly well-fed and sanguine, I'll fetch the rose ones.

My year breaks down rather neatly into three parts. From January to June, I was rounding off my studies at Glasgow, culminating in Graduation, which remains one of the best days of my life (173 days since last slushy blog post/workplace accident). For three months over the summer, I worked on a little research project of my own at the uni, during which I was lucky enough to go to a conference, host a workshop, and meet a lot of interesting people. And, as if I haven't mentioned it already, since September I've been living and studying in Edinburgh.

Ah, Edinburgh, butt of so many sophomoric jokes since before we were old enough to know what a sophomore was. You get fairly good mileage out of being a Glaswegian in Edinburgh, and if I still did Pastry songs, I'd be raiding Sting's canon for certain. (And if I still did cheap innuendo, I'd be raising an arch eyebrow at that last sentence.) But, all joking aside, I was told in complete seriousness—by a person for whom I have the utmost respect, but shall remain nameless (but let's just say he was holding up the bar at the grad ball)—"You won't like it in Edinburgh. The people there are ghastly." This uncharacteristically unsubtle jibe also turned out to be completely incorrect, because, since I've moved there, it's the people I've met who have made the last three months be the time of my life. In keeping with tradition, I shan't name names, but you know who you are.

My eye turns to the clock and suggests that I'd better be wrapping this up: it wouldn't be Christmas without a repeat of Law & Order: Criminal Intent. So all that remains to be said is for me to wish you a Merry Christmas!



Blog Best Spam Ever 20/Dec/2005

One of the many streams of information that I obsessively monitor is the feed of comments for my Flickr account. Only today, for the first time, it became polluted by spam.

As I've mentioned before, one of the tenets of an exam period is that success can only be achieved with the adoption of unchecked facial hair. There are no exceptions to this rule, so even if there's a party on, there'll be no shaving. Consider the evidence. It must have been a popular image, since I even deigned to take one myself. And, considering that one of the few Scottish things I have going for me is a genetic predisposition to ginger facial hair, I tagged it with the natural gingerbeard.

Enter Mr. Mark Sephton, entrepreneur, and apparently not a photographer. He commented on my photo, and on the photo of another chap, suggesting that we might like to invest in his recently-developed range of ginger-beard-related apparel.

Now, the damnedest thing is that I really want to buy some of that stuff, but, with shipping, it's still a bit pricey. So come on, Mark, how about a discount voucher? I'm in the market for a new t-shirt….





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