Saturday, October 30, 2004

Katherine Viner sounds like a slightly familiar name. Anyway, here she is talking about how great the north is. Which of course I couldn't agree more with. Although I think she might be from Manchester rather than Yorkshire.

update: turns out Katherine Viner is an extremely well known journalist, although she may also be or not be a girl who went to my school.
Well, here I am in sunny (or not so) Cheadle, after a mini-birthday-party at my brother's last night, including champagne, cake and lots of cards (our family minhag is to do lots of cards. Like, really a lot). It was fun.

I've not had a chance to catch up here recently, so, in no particular order:
  • saw HIGNFY being recorded on Thursday night, with Robin Cook in the chair, who I suspect is not cut out for a TV career. Paul was not his usual sparkly self at all, no idea what's going on. I missed the show last night, but I suspect they can fix all the awkward pauses and lack of pace in the edit. Hope so.
  • The Motorcyle Diaries is a great movie; I got a real sense of Che Guevera's personal history, although I find it hard to believe that he was quite so saintly in real life
  • have struck a couple of good deals for interesting new work
  • I'm back at Picadilly Circus from Monday for a couple of weeks, most days, so anyone (who knows me) who works round there who fancies (low fat) lunch, call me
  • had houseguests a couple of weekends back, for my friend's son's Barmitvah (grownup, I know) and had a wonderful weekend catching up with old friends and socialising
  • went to my friend R's gig at a pub in Soho - he looks like Samuel L Jackson and sounds like Luther Vandross. Really
  • went to my friend S's gig for his band, Southampton's own Hunting Lodge at 93 Feet East (followed by curry, of course). It's experimental post-punk noise. It's an experience.
  • lots of unexpected people remembered my birthday. It was nice. I know Mrs Havelock, the headmistress at my junior school didn't really approve of the word nice, but in this case it truly was.
  • Friday, October 29, 2004

    I'm off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of cheadle.

    See you on the other side (of the M1/M6).
    I know there's turmoil fear as Arafat leaves for urgent treatment, and people think he's going to die. I think that it will be utter chaos if he dies; while I don't think he has the entire Palestinian people behind him, and the radical fundamendalists don't really support his leadership, I don't think that there's anyone else in the Palestinian leadership to replace him. Is some Hamasnik going to take his slot?

    While not everything in the world can be assessed on a good-for-the-Jews, bad-for-the-Jews basis, I think this is bad. I also wish him well for his health.

    Thursday, October 28, 2004

    I just called the Inland Revenue National Insurance Contributions Office to sort out some administrative error, and the guy there wished me happy birthday. Of course, he did have access to all my records, but even so.
    Ever wanted to open a restaurant? Then The Restaurant Seminar is just for you. Oh, and it's in New York.
    I'm beginning to regret signing up for some crappy website that tells you how to enhance your wellbeing. Because I just got this email:


    196 years old! Can you believe it? Now is a great time to take an assessment about your health. All the risk calculations are age based so you will see some changes. Additionally, you need to review your recommended preventative measures, as those change as we get older. To take an assessment visit us again at

    We wish you the happiest of days!

    Great, huh? Just another day older and deeper in debt.
    Just heard John Morrison, the former Deputy Chief of Defence Intelligence on the Today programme. Subtlety is not his thing. Although it was a fascinating insight into the "culture of news management at the MoD." Turns out it's not about defence, it's about PR. How New Labour.
    It's my birthday (and I'll cry if I want to)

    Wrong lyrics, I know. I like to be tired on my birthday; there was a helicopter with flashing lights hovering over my bedroom window at 5am for about 45 minutes. I like to think it was Jonathan Ross and Paul Merton trying to find my house and drop in.

    Then my sister phoned at 7am with my nephew and niece to sing happy birthday. Because to get the whole ensemble doing the song and dance routine, you have to get a call at 7am. Apparently. Well, my birthday'll last longer if I get up dead early.

    What am I doing today? Having a lie-in (ha!), doing a few client things (including chasing someone who has had a proposal for three weeks, wants me to start on Monday - which I can't now, because I'm doing something else - but has been "too busy" to come back to me. He likes to haggle, and I'm kinda hoping we can get it over with today), meeting a friend for coffee to talk about their CV, going to the bank, seeing a client, if I get a chance, going to the Black British Style or the Christopher Dresser at the V&A, or the Michael Landy at the Tate, and at 6pm, meeting my friends to see HIGNFY get recorded. Some day, huh?

    Don't bother calling me now, I've been up for ages.

    Wednesday, October 27, 2004

    Is it just me, or do you get a certain smug sense of self-satisfaction when you throw away a Body Shop plastic bag instead of recycle it?
    I realise this is designed for Mormons, but wait till the sheitel set get their labes on the modesTee.
    Random Acts Of Reality has a hysterical Hierarchy of Blogging (on my server, to save his bandwidth) - check it out.
    It's my birthday tomorrow. Just thought I should mention it.

    Tuesday, October 26, 2004

    Simon Waldman in today's Guardian on Wikipedia's success.

    I'll admit it: I'm open source. I'm collective. I like to share. So I creased up at the old-media "we own the space" comments from the traditional encylopadiacs (try looking that one up).
    I can't believe that John Peel died. Today, it seems, a heart attack on holiday. I'm very sad.

    My teenage years were spent listening to John Peel on late night Radio One (when it was still cool), discovering new bands, feeling on the inside track of the latest music, from under my duvet in a suburban Manchester bedroom. Listening to John was like having a buddy in the business with great taste and broad-ranging influences, who everytime they gave you a CD and said "you must listen to this" you knew they were right.

    And I guess your listeners grow old with you (although I don't actually think 65 is old at all) - in recent years, I've been practically addicted to Home Truths on Radio 4; hearing John's unique take on life, families, and whatever quirky item he laid his humour on that week. And of course, that voice: you'd place it anywhere, at once comforting, quirky, regional, masterful, knowing, and with a slightly subversive edge to it.

    I often think it's worse for the people left behind when someone dies suddenly; no time for goodbyes or saying those things you always meant to say but never had time for. Of course it's easier for the people who die: no pain, no gradual decline, people remembering you as you were. But, even then, you know. I feel very, very sad that British music has lost one of its great ambassadors, and that radio has lost one of the greatest broadcasters of a generation, and both too soon.

    My thoughts are with his family, friends, and, of course, huge fan base (of which I am, clearly, one).
    I think it's possible that I've cornered the market in crown ducal dripware on eBay. Honestly. Because I now have around 25 pieces, and they used to come up pretty much every week. Now, it's like once a month if I'm lucky, and I think I may even have pushed the prices up. And I'm always bidding against the same person. Between us, we could probably open a shop (how nineties, I know.)

    Monday, October 25, 2004

    I don't know whether I should be flattered or disturbed that I am number seven on google for buy antisemitic hair products.

    What is the world coming to?

    Not exclusively because of this, but I am feeling like my ennui and mojo have eloped together. I don't know if it's because it's my birthday this week, and I'm not feeling excited about it. (Usually, I have a big party, and all my energy is taken up with organising the party and the excitement of seeing everyone). Or because I've not done everything on my list for a while. Or because ... of a whole host of things. Of course the last think you want to read about it my lost mojito. And of course the wonder of a blog is that I know I felt something like this on July 23rd 2002 and clearly I got over it. So life carries on, I guess.
    I think I would like some CHELSEA RAINBOOTS, although I'm not sure I'd go for green.

    Update: you can rest easy, they have them in purple.
    I have an advance copy of Malcolm Gladwell's new book, BLINK. And here's a great MP3of Malcolm talking.

    Friday, October 22, 2004

    Saw The History Boys at the National (Lyttleton) last night with my Mum and Dad.

    I think this is the best piece of theatre I've seen in years. What's interesting is that the cast is 15-or so strong, unlike the usual 4-handers that mostly get staged now. It's a humorous, serious, poignant, moving script, that genuinely explores the value and meaning of education.

    I just can't fault the whole production: clever use of video, great 80s music (it's set in a Yorkshire school in the mid 80s), brilliant characterisations, a fabulous cast, a script to die for. I was moved to tears at the end. If only all theatre was like this.

    I can't wait to re-read the text; there's so much depth that it really would be re-reading or even seeing again.
    It's funny (or not so) that when something tragic happens, like Marc Almond's accident, it's all over the papers. Then, you want to know how he's doing, and the only news is on and his own website.

    Shows how much the news industry values life.
    Oh, I don't believe it. I just called Amex because my flatmate wisely suggested I might be able to get money back from them on their purchase protection programme, for my stolen camera. Guess what? When I asked, the person I talked to was in Bombay, India. I could tell anyway, as they sounded like a telescript come to life.

    And they gave me the purchase protection people. Who said I needed to report it no later than 45 days after the incident, but anyway, if it was covered on my house insurance, they wouldn't pay out. Oh, and there's a £50 excess.

    What is the point of insurance? I'm just relieved I only had a £150 camera. And I know what the point is; if your house blows down or something, it's worth it, but it's not worth it for small claims. I just wanted a camera. Oh well.

    Thursday, October 21, 2004

    Climate change is a post political issue. We need to look after the planet.
    I took out annual multi-trip travel insurance when I went to the US in February for £47. I have househould insurance that costs me a fortune.

    So my new camera, that I got for my August NY trip cost £164 (camera, SD card, rechargeable batteries). Now I discover that (a) the insurer will immediately knock it down to £154, as some of it was delivery charges, as I like buying things online, (b) my travel insurance has a £50 excess, so that's £104, (c) I am dually insured with my household insurance (as it turns out), so the travel people will ask the household people for a contribution, and once I lose my no-claims bonus, it'll cost me a flat fee of £60, so that's £44, and (d) because I lost my no-claims bonus, my household insurance will go up way more than £44.

    However, if I change my household insurer (which I am considering), then they only want to know if there's been more than one claim in the last three years, which there still wouldn't have been. But the claim has to be closed, which it might not be in a month or so, knowing the claims handing sector. And I'd still be down to only a £44 payout anyway. And I'd have to fill out forms and respond to letters and spend time on the phone. And if they did it badly, I'd get upset and have to complain about their customer service.

    The complexity of modernity.

    Otherwise known as, bugger that, I'm off into town to meet my Mum and Dad.
    The Affordable Art Fair opens today in Battersea. Whether I have any cash to afford art, is another question entirely.
    Hollinghurst wins the Booker Prize. Quite what it has to do with cash and carry I don't know.

    (Years ago, I went out with a guy who's now a moderately famous TV person, who's parents used the phrase "cash and carry" like a verb. "I'm going to cash and carry this afternoon, do you want to come?" That kinda thing. It wasn't in a northern lost-definite-article way, either; t'cash and carry. I spent some time staying with them and they spent a lot of time at the local Cash & Carry, as far as I can remember. They also drank a lot of alcohol. The whole thing was something of an eye opener to me. Why this comes into my mind now, and what it has to do with a literary novel about gay sex, I know not.)

    Wednesday, October 20, 2004

    Forget celebrity. The zeitgeist is all about sublebrity. You heard it here first. Forget A list and Z list; it's the down-and-dirty that doesn't count.
    This (a debate on BBC Creative Archive: Fuel for a Creative Nation at Digital Lifestyles) might be a suitably internety type birthday celebration. Except I'm already going to see Paul Merton.
    The entry from the Literary Encyclopedia for HG Wells. AA Milne was one of his pupils. Don't you love the internet?
    And now, through reading a quick history of Kilburn on the Brent Council website, I've discovered that HG Wells was a science teacher here in the late 1880s.
    The largest public art mural ever undertaken; the Kilburn Tube Mural Project. It's up the street from my house. It's fab. It's currently underway. Monday, I saw three leather-clad bikers standing at the lights, looking up at it and discussing the relative merits of public arts. Good, innit?
    For those of you (women, I guess) who want the full holding-you-in experience, I can't recommend OROBLU tights enough. They're twice the price of the M&S ones, but three times as good.
    Aparently, the "Mayor Answers to London" website was launched yesterday, but I can't find it anywhere online. People make mention, sure, but where's the actual goods? I have questions to Ken, and they're not all about my bus shelter.

    Tuesday, October 19, 2004

    What's the point in having a blog if you can't have a rant ocassionally?

    I know it's a bad day if I start more than three posts with "I can't believe". I'm not shouty, honest.
    No, really.

    But I've had a lousy day. Yesterday was the first day in a year that I didn't owe anyone any work, which is a fabulous feeling. I have two weeks "off" which are not exactly holiday; more for me to catch up with myself, do some of my own writing, tidy my bedroom. You know.

    So my boiler is now fixed, but not without making forty (yep, count 'em) calls, and having to do a fair amount of jumping up and down on the spot. Which was good, because it kept me warm. Someone offered me £30 goodwill payment, which I just laughed at, and I did the only thing that makes me feel better. I wrote it down. I wrote a four page letter, detailing every call, extension number, lie, broken promise, Kafka-esque conversation. It's a masterpiece. I faxed it to the MD, and cc'd it via email to anyone I'd spoken to (about seven senior people).

    I feel better already.

    Also, I sprained my ankle last year, and it still hurts, and now I'm getting it checked out, and it's possible that I'll have to be in a cast for 4-6 weeks, which does not exactly fill me with excitement. Although Id' probably get a lot of pissing around on the internet done. Which can only be a good thing.

    I've got three new pieces of work starting on 1st November, so I should rest up.

    C'mon, rest.



    If only the 450 conversations in my head would quieten down.

    I actually cancelled my evening plans tonight - meeting an old headhunting friend for dinner - because I figured I would be miserable company and British Gas obsessed.

    I know. Bright idea. I might just go to bed and start again tomorrow.

    Another kidnap in Iraq.
    Just shows what a party animal I am - just discovered that Dish Dash in Goodge Street is now closed, and they're only in Balham. So not exactly Persian cuisine in the heart of London, then. Menu's good, though. Although they used to have some rosewater ice-cream, which has disappeared.

    Oh well, won't be going there for my birthday, then.
    I've been so busy doing whatever (yom tov, barmitzvah's, work) that I haven't even had time to get down to the UK Jewish Film Festival 2004. Maybe next year.
    I can't believe that it's only two and a half years ago that I had boiler trouble - a time I like to think of fondly as the British Gas Years.

    But now I've not had any heating since Thursday, I've waited in for 72 hours, had four cancelled appointments, a serious amount of "misinformation" (aka lies, damn lies), still haven't had the service I pay £150 for (they came round when I called them three weeks ago, my flatmate was home, they looked at the boiler, unplugged it and plugged it in again, and called that a service), as well as raising my blood pressure to previously unknown heights.

    Let's just say I'm not calm.

    Monday, October 18, 2004

    I can't believe that I have had to spell both Crickewood and Farringdon to the person on the end of the TrainLine, who had clearly never heard of or visited both. He can only get me to Kings Cross. No, he doesn't know if the timetable has changed, this is the only information he has. He is in India, he tells me. He knows nothing. This used to be straightforward.

    Now I'm on hold to Thameslink Customer Relations. On hold. On hold. Oh, here we are. Turns out there are engineering works on the line until Spring 2005. So no direct train for me.
    AOL.CO.UK have clearly outsourced their call centre to somewhere in the Indian sub-continent.

    I took out a free two-month trial dial-up account when someone inadvertantly cut by broadband cable and I was accessless for three days. Three. Very. Long. Days.

    So it was in my diary to cancel the AOL account, and I have just spent eight minutes on the phone to the call centre, where some poor woman had to read from the most atrocious script:" hello, thank you for calling AOL, my name is Mary, how can I enhance your online experience today?"

    She could have enhanced it by just giving me my cancellation code and letting us both get on with our lives, but she had to take me through a survey of why I didn't want the service. I answered with brevity. Then, when I thought I was about to get the code, she said "thank you Sasha, for sharing that information with me, so let me share some information with you about how great AOL is." I asked her not to, but she insisted, with the added sop that "Sasha is a beautiful name". "May I call you by your first name, Sasha?" (now, there's a question).

    So Mary prattled on about how great keywords are, and how you can go to a friends house and still email your buddies, while I sent some email on my broadband, which is supplied by people who want to talk to me as little as I want to talk to them (telewest), and believe me, that's the way I like it.

    I asked for my cancellation code again. She reminded me that I still had another free month. I said I could live without it. F-i-n-a-l-l-y she gave me the code, and encouraged me to have a very nice day.

    If AOL were the last company in the world, and owned all the banks and mutliple food retailers I wouldn't ever want to do business with them again.

    Have a nice day now, y'all.
    My entire teenage years happened with Marc Almond and Soft Cell in the background, so I'm really upset that he's had what sounds like a pretty critical motorbike accident. I hope he's getting the best care there is.

    My friend Angela's next-door neighbour looked exactly like him, and even danced like him, and also, it was a whole northern thing, what with me being a Northerner, and Marc being from Southport and it was all about Northern Soul and Wigan Casino, and it was magical.

    Thinking about you, Marc, although of course you don't know me.

    Friday, October 15, 2004

    this is an audio post - click to play
    I have received email from the other side. The un-audblog side.

    From: Yoz
    Sent: 15 October 2004 12:16
    To: Sasha
    Subject: I may be the only one to tell you this

    ... but I have listened to precisely one of your audblog posts, and it
    will be the last one.

    And I assure you that it is *nothing* personal against you. In fact,
    you should take the fact that I listened to an *entire* audblog post
    as a great compliment.

    Really. It was because I knew that you have a nice voice and you
    actually have experience of speaking for broadcast. And I can't say
    that experiencing that audblog post was unpleasant, either. It's
    always nice to hear from you.

    It's just that I was already wholeheartedly agreeing with this months ago:

    ... and, as a friend, I feel it's my duty to tell you this. I mean, I
    know that it's entirely up to you how you present your blog, and it's
    entirely up to me as to how and whether I choose to consume it. And
    you don't have to pay attention to *any* of this.

    But I thought I should tell you anyway, because it may not just be me
    who feels this way, and I hate the thought of you wasting your time.
    But if it is just me, then, y'know, it's my loss rather than yours.

    (Or I could just call you up and yell, "DROP THE AUDBLOGGING, SASHA!
    FOR F**K'S SAKE!" But my Treo's not working properly at the moment.)

    Gut Shabbes!

    -- and don't even get me started on f**king podcasting

    Whaddya reckon? True? Oh, and you can read Maciej Ceg?owski's audio blog as text, here. Y'know; in case everything he says is true.
    Omigod the Rubik's Cube. I am young once more. And I have tenosinuvitus (RSI).
    You don't know how disturbed I am to discover that leg warmers (allegedly an 80s fashion icon) are making a comeback. I know that because I saw three people (women) on the same 189 bus making this fashion faux pas. Let's face it; they don't keep you warm and actually you wear them round your ankles. They should be called ankle-thickeners. That would stop the fashionistas getting jiggy with the woolies.
    The Google Desktop Search Download beta is here to play and probably here to stay. They don't search your desktop, they say (and I beleive them) so less privacy worries than the old gmail fandango. Or I do I mean shenanigans?
    this is an audio post - click to play

    ... good morning, good morning, "oh, do the hokey cokey"; don't worry, I'm not actually singing. Yet.
    Powered By audblog

    ... the second part of my late night rambling, where I ask you what you want me to talk about next.
    this is an audio post - click to play

    ... the first part of my late night rambling, where I tell a moderately dull story about my British Gas people not turning up. And I manage to ramble till my five minutes is up.

    Thursday, October 14, 2004

    this is an audio post - click to play

    ... good morning, good morning, can you hear my neighbours tap-tap-tapping on heaven's floor?
    Bernice Rubens died.
    Maybe I want to contribute some more to Apple's humongous profits and get an iPod.

    Except then, I'll have Pocket Overload; what with my Palm, and phone, and wallet, and old-fashioned notebook, it'll get silly.

    In other news, I'm weaning myself off the all-in-one phone/PDA combo, because, as my sister so rightly pointed out (and she and my brother in law actually discussed this over dinner, and she called to tell me the answer), knowing me, I'll just lose everything at once.
    I had a bit of a shock recently; my family regard chopped fried fish as a staple part of the (Ashkenazi) diet, but I discovered over the weekend that a bunch of people I know have never heard the phrase, and now I find out that only 12 people on the internet say it like that. I tried "chopped and fried fish" too, and similar results. Oh well.

    In other news, in case you actually know me, you probably realise that this is about the time of year that I generally have a party (I have for about the last ten years), but I've decided not to have one. So please don't think I haven't invited you, I'm just not inviting 300 of my closest friends round to my house, this year. Maybe next year.
    this is an audio post - click to play

    ... turns out I can stream-of-consciousness about anything, I slightly craft my writing, isn't this whole thing slightly reminiscent of old-fashioned answerphone messages.
    this is an audio post - click to play

    ... maybe it's because of my slightly addictive personality, or maybe it's because I'm a Londoner, although technically I'm a Manchester. And what would I choose (during the war, say) if it was between no internet access and not writing a list. Now, there's a choice.

    Wednesday, October 13, 2004

    Powered By audblog

    ... my first ord-blog post. I am ordblog happy.
    Not only is Blogger (often) buggered but straight after I discovered podcasting this morning I signed up for audblog (pronounced oddblog) and that seems buggered too. My dulcet tones are out there in the ether, but who knows when they'll turn up.
    My spy-on-the-web just told me that podcasting is the next new thing, and that I have the voice for it.

    I suspect that this is the same as being told I have a face for radio, but then, I may have.

    Tuesday, October 12, 2004

    Turns out, the whole of the NHS IT programme is running over budget to the tune of 100%. That's about £6bn. Not much, then.
    And the day before (Sunday) I made a trip (nay, pilgrimage) up to Stratford with S, to see Douglas Coupland in his one man play (monologue) September 10 2001 at The Other Place, as part of the New Writing Festival.

    He was fab. He didn't notice my anime handbag or cool shoes, and I have to tell you, he looks about a hundred years older than either that BBC picture, or how he looked when he did a reading in London a couple of years ago.

    The work was great, typical Doug. Kinda like a produced version of the randomly connected bits of reality he does at book readings. I'd love to read the text. Interestingly, like Darwin in Malibu, it ended with papers flying from the heavens (in this case, like on 9/11), including a photocopy he once took of a photo of Catherine Deneuve with Andy Warhol, which he'd talked about. I have it on my noticeboard now.

    He's doing it twice more on Thursday, if you want to go, it's not in London at all, although there's no guarantee the
    RSC box office will know anything about it. Also, I suspect it's sold out, as all the people like me bought tickets in April.
    Last night, I saw Darwin in Malibu at the Hampstead Theatre. Short form; great set, but intellectually disappointing. My cousin agreed with me. It was slightly marred by Nigel Planer of Nigel Planer fame being indisposed, and someone standing in reading holding the script (who was pretty good, but still). But the intellectual "fun" of Darwin and The Bishop of Oxford and Wilberforce meeting up in twentyfirst century Malibu kinda paled, really, and I lost the plot, literally, in the second half. The Hampstead Theatre have been really struggling since their £xmillion new building; it's a little Blairite, actually. They used to do fabulous house-selling-out work in a prefab, now they're all marketing and flashy bar (which turns off its cappucino machine at 9.45pm, so not that flashy, then), but no real substance.
    My flatmate says it's all a mythabout plasticides in plastic bottles poisoning you, and how you should really buy new ones all the time.
    Fun and games with the current pensions crisis. The Guardian has made this truly disturbing pension contributions calculator out of pieces of sticky-back plastic, I presume. I heartily recommend it to you all.
    More from Steve Bell on Is Bush Wired?
    Is Bush Wired?

    As you know, I like to be the last to any part/conversation and so I am linking this entertaining site some eons later than everyone else in the blogiverse, I am quite sure.
    These photos at londonpillowfightclub totally make me wish I was there. Like totally.
    I have 744 messages in my inbox, of which 39 are unread. Some, for quite some time. I suspect I will never read them.

    I think I last had an empty inbox in 1995.

    I know it's good email practice to read, file, delete in that order, but I don't buy it. I like to leave a coupla hundred "current" messages in my inbox, that are easily sortable, and then I have about 50 "current" folders (on IMAP) and about 200 archived folders (on POP3), and three hotmail accounts for various things (weblog, leaving client stuff online before I had IMAP, and ... something else I've forgotten). As a side issue, I of course, have six email addresses (2 personal, 4 client forwarded addresses - I must remember to choose the right one when I send), and seven signatures (3 clients, 2 personal, 2 for specific volunteer projects). Don't you all.

    I like to keep my inbox under 400 - that feels good. But a surfeit of yom tov means it's just gotten out of hand (and also, I have become American). Also, in the post yom tov rush, many people got email happy, so yesterday I was in a group discussion about something to do with Limmud, and there were like 40 emails. My head hurts. And now I can't find the one that says the thing I'm supposed to do something about, because they all have the same header. Whoops.

    And as fast as I'm filing, they're coming in. And as fast as they're coming in, my organisation-gene (the one that will mistakenly perform any admin task before a real thing) is raring to go. I actually had to stop writing this email because more mail came in and I had to respond immediately.

    Other people are different. I know. I have a client who I have emailed twice a week for a month and she's never replied. I have another client who never "gets" my emails, but only the ones with invoices attached (I cc them to the accounts department now, so he can't play that trick any more).

    What am I talking about? Who knoweth.
    It's the Frieze Art Fair this weekend. Which, obviously, I feel some small connection to. Might go Sunday?
    Jacques Derrida died. This Guardian obit covers his entire life's work.

    Monday, October 11, 2004

    You don't know how relieved I am that Greg Dyke has a job. At Apax Partners, no less.
    Turns out there is a difference between climate fear and a climate of fear. Let's all use our cars less this week.

    Sunday, October 10, 2004

    Every time I use my Tanita scales/body fat percentage monitor, I can't help thinking of Tanita Tikaram.

    Thursday, October 07, 2004

    I know who the late Barry Gold was. I'll tell you when I get back.
    Hello. I forgot to tell you that I've gone to East Finchley for Yom Tov. Although if you're thinking of burgling my house I've left my flat-mate at home. Hello, K.

    It's a non-stop food/drink/shul extravaganza. It's a schmoozarama. It's terribly sociable, and I'm having a very nice time, although squeezing six meals into a three day period is taxing my waistband.

    See you on the other side.

    Wednesday, October 06, 2004

    An Interesting Story That Happened in My Own Life
    So, I don't know if a stone setting is only a Jewish thing. I don't think I've ever been to a no-Jewish one. It's about a year after the funeral, and there's a small service at the graveside, unveiling the memorial stone (also called an unveiling). When I was a kid, I thought everyone went to an unveiling every Sunday afternoon.

    Here's a weird thing; last week, I got a postcard addressed to Sasha, preprinted in funereal copperplate, with my name and some other details (venue, date) written in by hand, from a stonemasons in Edgware. It was to advise me of the stonesetting in memory of the late Barry Gold (not his real name), at Waltham Abbey on 31st October.

    Here's the thing; I don't recognise the name. I think back to whether I've been or not been to a funeral at Waltham Abbey in the last year or so. I don't think I have.

    I call my Mother - she doesn't recognise the name, either. Like me, she thinks this is a strange London custom; in Manchester, we don't send postcards.

    I call Z - we have lots of the same friends, and maybe if it's someone we knows Grandpa, she'll have a card, too.

    She doesn't.

    I call a friend whose Grandpa died around this time last year, and explain my predicament. She says, "no, and what's with the postcards, I've never heard of that."

    I call the stonemason, a little embarassed. They tell me the name of the deceased's daughter, and she's not in my address book. I ask for the names of other family members, and they don't have it. I look up the name of the deceased's daughter on, and discover a whole family at the same address, none of whom I recognise.

    If this didn't involve a real/dead person, it would be moderately entertaining. It certainly feels like the inciting incident in a film; I'm supposed to go and something plot-driven will happen to me.

    I'm thinking, if someone knows me well enough to send me a card telling me about this, I ought to know who they are. I've racked my brains, and just don't recognise the names. I feel confused, a little embarassed, and unsure of my next steps.

    Your thoughts?

    Tuesday, October 05, 2004

    More thinktanks than you can shake a stick at. Should you want to.
    It's that time of year when I get all phone-upgrade-intertia.

    My mobile contract comes up for renewal. If I do the I'm-leaving manouvre, coupled with my monthly (business, OK) spend, I usually get a £100 free. Free; I mean, it's not free, because I pay them loads of money every month. Less free, more like a bribe, in fact.

    My avowed strategy of separating my phone from my PDA is looking increasingly dated, I'm told. My view is, less risk, because more items to lose. I might lose my phone but still have my diary. Without wishing to tempt fate, I haven't lost either in a while. I shouldn't say that, should I?

    Anyway, now I'm thinking Sony Ericsson P900, getting some cashback for my Nokia 7250i, selling my Palm Vx on eBay, and being a seamlessly intergrated girlie.

    Sums go like this: say £20 cashback for my existing phone, £30 for my Palm. New phone/PDA is £150 with a contract, and I can usually get up to a £100 phone "free" (see above). So it should, theoretically, cost me nothing but a bluetooth dongle for like £20.

    Waddya think?

    In case you are interested in buying my Palx Vx, at some point, it's a little loved, but in good condition. Comes with box, CDs, manuals, leather case, two cradles (one for office, one for home) and a cutesie stylus that's also a pen. Open to offers.
    I have no idea who Tania Gold is, but she has written a scathing, incisive, frankly hysterical piece on her trip to Ukipland.
    Sasha Unplugged

    Not that you'd want that.

    Thought; why is the opposite of plugging in not plugging out?
    In today's Guardian; a collection of incredibly moving letters received by Michael Moore from soldiers serving in Iraq.
    A weekend of high culture ...

    Having spent wednesday through friday visiting various people's succahs, eating far too much, and talking about the state of Anglo Jewry, as well as the state of the nation, one too many times, some extra-NW6 entertainment was needed, for sure.

    Saturday night I saw Cybill Shepherd at the Soho Theatre in her one woman show, Cybill disobedience.

    Now, lots of reviewers have slagged it off as self-indulgent, but I think Cybill is an old fashioned entertainer, a Southern gal made good. And she slept with Elvis.

    Sunday, I went to to Jaq's opening of her new show, at the Red Gate Studio and Gallery in Brixton. Jaq's art is about bringing together sketches done on stage of various musicians (including the Alabama Three), and Jewish texts. Her work's really developed, and the embroidery sits with the handscript so beautifully, that I was disappointed to realise I have no walls left. Also, Rob (aka Larry Love) and the guitarist from the Alabama Three played while we admired the work, and it was all rather surreal, but in a fabulous way.
    In case you missed it, Mike at troubled diva got the webcam pic of my back (and I want you to know, my shirt isn't too tight, it's just that I'm leaning forward) and Donal MacIntyre's back on last night's Matthew Bannister show. (If you want to listen, it's only up there today, and then it gets replaced. It is, however, three hours long).

    Monday, October 04, 2004

    Via Yoz; 3D Escher stuff. Fabulous.
    I have something of a desire to go to this Intelligence Squared debate, chaired by Carole Stone of networking fame, on whether Boucher is just pornography for toffs. N says the standard of debate isn't that high, and no, she won't come.
    Oh, OK. I've been busy, that's all. I kinda feel like we're having a relationship, and I owe you an explanation. It's not like I've been sleeping around, wrinting on other blogs, or anything, it's just that life has been taking up a lot of time.

    Mostly, because it's yom tov. It's the time of year where there are four Jewish festivals in a row - Rosh Hashanah (new year), Yom Kippur (day of atomement), then Succot (tabernacles), and now this Thursday/Friday, Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah (too longwinded to explain, sorry).

    When I had a full-time job, and Yom Tov fell during the week (it's a lunar calendar, so it changes every year - it's great when it's all Sat/Sun) I was always trying to squeeze a week's work into three days, and having to eat up seven days of vacation time. And having to deal with colleagues who'd ask me if I'd had a nice holiday, when in fact it's a holyday, which involves synagogue, family, more meals than you can imagine, and frankly very little R&R.

    The first day is fine - you explain to your colleagues it's New Year, and they ask you if you're going to get really pissed, and you say no, Jews don't really drink, it's more about food really, and you bring them some honey cake and everything's fine. Yom Kippur's a fast day, you explain, and they ask if it's a diet after all the food. When it gets to Succot and your eating all your meals in a small hut in the garden with an open roof in Northern European weather, they start thinking you're barking. Which you may be. When it gets to Simchat Torah, you don't even bother telling them everyone gets really drunk to celebrate the completion of the Torah reading cycle.

    So I'm yom tov'd out, really. I'm trying to squeeze my work into my little remaining time, and cook, and entertain, and see friends, and write, and have normal life, too. Some things get to the bottom of the list.

    I haven't forgotten you, honest.
    Kehillat Hadar is, apparently, the best place for Jewish dating in NY.
    A friend sent me this:

    I'm at my parents setting up their new PC. I want to make sure I've installed all the applications that my Dad uses and, as he peers over my shoulder, I ask 'what's your favourite program?'. To which he replies innocently 'well, there are quite a few. But I suppose Fawlty Towers.'
    Hands up if you think halloumi cheese is the nearest (edible) thing to polystyrene?

    Saturday, October 02, 2004

    You going to Pillow Fight Club next Wednesday? (I can't, it's Yom Tov).