Thursday, February 24, 2005

I don't know if Sarah Hiorns has a blog, but she should have. Priceless: All The Hairdressers I Have Ever Been To.

Wish I'd written it. Except my list is way shorter because (a) I am overly precious about my Jewish/curly hair, and (b) could no more turn up in a hairdressers off the street than go iceskating or skydiving. This is a girl who commuted back to Manchester throughout the early nineties (from South East Asia, Europe and the US) to get my hair cut by Tim at New Wave (now called something poncey.) Scrap that - that's what I did till I took up with my new hairdresser in New York. Now there's a commute.

Once, when I lived in Madrid, I got my hair cut at Llongueras, the celebrity hairdresser. And for all their I'm-famous-shit, the haircut was nothing special, and I went back to Tim for repairs.
Bobbie Johnson takes a serious look blogging for money.. I guess off the back of Jason Kottke's news yesterday. Maybe I should be a microblogger with macroideas. Make microcontent for the mediim-sized bucks?

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

OK, thanks for feedback, version 1.2 (bugfixes only) is available here.
I love my George Carwardine anglepoise lamp.
What are your personal variables/daily running costs?

So, in the spirit of (a) reviewing my finances, and (b) just geeky, I tried to work out how much it costs me to exist each day.

What I'm talking about here are Personal Variable Costs - travel, newspapers, disposable contact lenses, drugs/coffee/chocolate habits.

I am not including fixed costs - things like rent/mortgage/utility bills etc. I know, this is pretty arbitary, but I'm making the rules here.

I have discovered that it costs me approximately £5.32 a day to exist. This includes lunch once a week when I'm in a client's office, and minimal commuting. Check it out:

And for your delight and delectation - you too can try it out here.

Basic info:
You only write in the grey boxes. You can have daily/weekly/monthly costs all at the same time - so I buy a newspaper for 60p a day, on weekdays, and £1.20 on a weekend.

Drugs/latte/chocolate habit - how much do you spend a day/week on clarityn/cocaine/coffee?

For haircare prodcuts and deodorant, you put in how much you spend, and how many days it lasts.

These are the assumptions I made:
  • Weekly counts only business days, ie 250. Not ideal, I know.
  • Annual counts 50 weeks, allowing for a two week holiday
  • "One off costs" are things like deodorant/shampoo - put in the cost and how many days it lasts for
  • I have assumed you change your toothbrush every six months
  • I have assumed your tube of toothpaste lasts for a little over two months
  • I have assumed your soap/shower gel lasts for a little less than two months

    This is version 1.1 - think of yourself as betatesters. So I'm sure I haven't thought of everything, and I haven't allowed for your girl/boyfriend staying over and using your supplies. Roll-on version two.

    Tell me what you think, please. And no, of course I'm not procrastinating. I made it outside of office hours (OK, OK, I should get out more) and it entertains me.
  • Tuesday, February 22, 2005

    If I was a lawyer (I'd hammer in the morning... ) I'd definitely be thinking about this job as UK Counsel for Google..

    Think of the options. Although it's only 3 years PQE they're looking for, so the options may not be, like, huge.
    You read about the food dye Sudan I?

    I heard something this morning about how the batch was dated 2002. 2002? So you might buy a ready meal with a sell-by date of 2007, but then the stuff in it could be five years old. Sheesh.

    And I can't be the only person - in this overregulated world we populate - whose noticed the similarity (FSA) between the Food Standards Agency and the Financial Services Authority.

    Just me then? I'll get back in my box.

    Friday, February 18, 2005

    Malcolm Gladwell speaking at the Commonwealth Club in the USA. I feel like he's in my study now. He has a great voice.
    Apparently, there is a rumour that I have gone to live in New York. (I know because J told me that three people had mentioned it to her. Three people: it's a minhag). This is not true, although I would go back and get my hair cut, obviously.
    Only in Amerikey. Turns out that Denzel Washington, Leonardo diCaprio and Beyoncee Knowles are Jewish. At least, they'll say they will to fight antisemitism.

    Thursday, February 17, 2005

    It's not often you have contemporaneous notes of your conversations. I'm talking to a lot of people about this antisemitism (aside: don't you hate how word makes it into anti-Semitism?).

    We're one step beyond the encoded antisemitism of last year: no it's out and proud. It seems to me, I'm supposed to say.

    I mean, three times in as many weeks (Prince Harry, Labour pigs-might-fly campaign, and now Ken) - frankly, it's a minhag.

    Like, Tuesday night, out with a friend who teaches in an East London school with a heavy Muslim population. He tells me that in a social studies class with 17 year olds, he's going round the groups who are discussing the media, and he gets to a group, and asks them where they're up to.

    - we're talking about the Jewish conspiracy, they respond
    - oh, how does that work?
    - well, all the Jews get together and agree - IF ONLY! - who runs what and what they'll tell the world...

    The conversation goes on: seems like it's mothers' milk to these kids, and when he tells them he's Jewish, one of them says that they don't hate him for it. Although it's not clear if they might hate him for something else.

    So it might all be anecodotal evidence - I have twenty stories like that - but how many anecdotes does it take to change a lightbulb?
    Apparently, my grandma made holishkes - a real labour of love - every week for my grandpa. Damily legend has it that after about twenty years, tucking into his supper one night he looked up and said, "you know Hilda, I don't really like holishkes."
    N just reminded me about playplax. It was from Galts.

    My childhood beckons...

    Wednesday, February 16, 2005

    And another thing. Every so often I get wonderful emails from people out there in the ether who say they enjoy reading what I write here. It kinda makes it all worthwhile: iterative process, interactive, twentyfirst century. All that. You know. Thank you.
    Since Freecycle was on You and Yours this morning, I've had like 40 emails. While I think it would be great if everyone got my religion and gave stuff away, I might have to unsubscribe from the list if it get's that busy. You can do digest, but then I guess you miss stuff.

    Listen again here, if you want.
    I'm sorry, I've been a little out of commission.

    Here's what I've been up to (as if you care, right?)

  • Saw Closer. Disappointed: it's a play on the screen. Then read a bunch of interviews with Patrick Marber where he says that in a film/play something doesn't have to happen to the people. Which is why I realised that I don't care about his characters because he doesn't. The difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to make sense.

  • Invented a new soup: loosely based on my Mum's sweet potatoe soup, except this one's with Garam Masala, and to be recommended

  • Dined at the Zetter in Clerkenwell. Cooler than cool. Even the loos. To be recommended.

  • Ditto Quinlon in St James - the best Indian restaurant in the UK or something. Amazing mango curry. Was treated by a friend who owns a restaurant in Boston, and there's nothing like dining with professional foodies.

  • Hung out in Bloomsbury with a couple of writer-style friends: we tried to be all Virginia Woolf, but the bar was closed.

  • I think I may have made enough chilli to last a while. Although I'm very into taking my own lunch (if I have to go to someone's office. Which I'm kinda avoiding right now, more later)

  • I'm in total efficiency-commando mode: I've reviewed my mobile contract, my house insurance, life insurance, my security arrangements and my offsite-backup requirements (comments on last extremely welcome)

  • I went to a buddy's booklaunch, had one vodka cocktail too many (that's two in total), and dropped perhaps one-to-many hints to a certain newspaper columnist...

  • Wrote Urban Junkies a few times. Because I'm urban and a junkie. Not.

  • Chased some money, worried about work. Haven't written a word (creatively, daaahling)in a while. Sadly. Turned out I have more work than I thought. It's like buses.

  • Am part-way through a mass decluttering exercise.

  • Finished Malcolm Gladwell's Blink. I may be partially in love with him despite (a) him living in NY (no problem, as I get my hair cut there now), and (b) the fact he is probably taken. Genius genius genius.

  • Ages ago, went to that Intelligence Squared debate. I made copious notes, honest, but then I got a little bowled over by the flying pigs, our illustrious mayor, the fallout from Prince William's "japes" and sorta kinda feel like I'm numb to antisemitism (which I'm trying to spell right, Dan) for a while. Like I know it's out there, but for now, I can't process all this stuff. Ken is technically my neighbour, in an adjoining-postcodes kinda way, so maybe I'll just nip round for tea and give him the sharp edge of my sashinka-wit.

    I'll do some links later, honest.


    The other thing that's going on is that I'm slightly under-the-weather, and spent Sunday night in A&E at the Royal Free, and Monday morning queuing in my doctor's surgery constantly being told I don't have children so have to to the back of the queue. Always makes you feel good. Turns out I don't have a life threatening knee disease, but it is painful, and it's put me in a bad mood. Or the drugs have. Talking to my mum, she mentioned in passing that women in my family have been allergic to penicillin for three generations (if penicillin's been around that long), although I pointed out that I'd reached the ripe old age of 19 (I'm lying right, because I'm not publishing my age on the internet) before she's mentioned it to me. Anyway, I'm not going back to my GPs to be cattleherded (forgive holocaust-style imagery: unintentional) so maybe it's the drugs that are doing me in.

    If I stop posting for longer than I week I may have gone to the other place. You know, where all the shoes are. Shoe heaven? Or maybe Selfridges or Harvey Nick's.
  • Friday, February 11, 2005

    I've had a pretty crap week. So it can only get better. Or worse. And I just broke a nail. Shabbat Shalom.
    Omigod, it's Rent-A-Jew day on the Today programme. Mike Whine from the CST (which they insisted in calling the Community Service - it's security - Trust), Henry Grunwald, President of the Board of Jews, and Jonathan Sacks, the Chief Rabbi.

    Thank-whoever's-up-there for antisemtism, otherwise there'd be no news.

    Did you hear that the Daily Mail devoted twenty one pages to Charles and Camilla's forthcoming nuptials? I couldn't be less interested.

    Wednesday, February 09, 2005

    Did I mention that I love Desparate Housewives? It's great, how it's not a SATC find a guy thing. It's not about women seeking completeness externally (men, shoes etc) but about women's inner journeys. And it's funny. I'm fascinated. Don't call me after 10pm (if you know me. If you don't know me, you shouldn't call me at all).
    Red-top features writers sure don't get to work at 8.30 like me. I have, in case you were wondering, said no, and drawn their attention to my copyright notice (I knew it was good for something). I'm not interested in feeding the celebrity beast in any way at all. Privacy (or as much as you can get) is king. And while I don't have any secrets about Pete, if I did have any, that's what they'd stay.

    In an entirely unrelated matter (no, really unrelated), pattern recognition abounds. It's not long now.
    I don't get to my hotmail account very often, but today, tucked between the viagra and diet pills, I have two - and counting - requests from tabloids to dish the dirt on ol' Pete.

    Waddya reckon?

    And also, sideways-ly, wtf?

    Tuesday, February 08, 2005

    Fun and games with m$oft word. I'm getting a "The disk is full trying to write to drive" error message when trying to sav a document. But I have 80GB. And I can't save it to my usb key, either. The doc is just less than a megabyte... are there maximum document sizes? Any ideas at all? It's for a board presentation I need to make tomorrow. And I have period pain.
    Page Turners - the new BBC book club.
    If you came here for Pete Doherty news, there's only a day and a half left to buy his guitar on eBay.
    I wrote Urban Junkies today. I had so much fun.

    Monday, February 07, 2005

    To the woman on Kilburn station this morning wearing a mini-skirt, cowboy boots, and with over-worked calves: don't. The cowboy boots look is about them not being flush, tight to your calves, but about them being loose, implying an Amelie-like waifness that does not accord with three games of women's rugby on a weekend.

    To the woman on Baker Street Jubilee line platform with the interesting patterned tights: they've got a hole in.

    To the woman in the Picadilly bound train who kneed me in the groin, and when I gave her a dirty look said "some people" to the collective audience: take your bad day out one someone else.

    To the bloke who read yesterday's Sunday Times business section over my shoulder: get your own paper.

    Bad day? Moi? Naah.
    Talking about tattoos.

    Once, I was at a party, fancy dress, and this guy was wearing just leather trousers, and on his back he had a tattoo in traditional hebrew script, that said "tohu vavohu" (roughly chaos/darkness and void, although it's all up for debate in a big way, and I'm sure a bundle of people'll come in here and correct me).

    I asked him about it. He said do you read Hebrew. I said clearly. Then his girlfriend took off her shirt, and she had the same. They'd had them done at the sameish time to seal their relationship.

    Turned out they weren't Jewish, but they were goth-types with a slightly chaso/magickal edge. I was relieved they'd got the vowels right. Takes all sorts.

    Hello Ben, if you ever read this.

    Friday, February 04, 2005

    Y'know how it is: a lot of people look like other people.

    Like both my Mum and the bloke in my/our local curry house (she also lives in West Hampsteadish) think I'm the spitting image of Tracey-Anne Oberman. And when I was in NY, I saw (clearly the doppleganger) of a friend of my parents, standing outside a downtown building, smoking with coworkers. I mean, it wasn't her. But it could have been. But then she's too busy getting her hair done in Cheadle, even with the time-travel.

    So I've seen pictures of Pete Doherty from the Libertines on and off for a couple of years, and he's looked vaguely familiar. In the way that people do.

    Let's face it: I know a lot of people. So sometimes people look familiar, and I can't place them. Like last week I was on a no 24 bus on Tottenham Court Road, and a black woman with braids came bounding up to me, all friendly. Hi Sasha. I thought I knew her: couldn't remember where from. Turns out, she used to go to my synagogue (three shuls ago), and her and her two (remarkably cool sons, as I remember them) came over for lunch a couple of times. We exchanged email addresses.

    My point is, that in a Gladwell-like connector way, stuff happens to me, people are mostly nice, and you know. I've forgotten the point, actually.

    So Pete's been in the papers a lot the last couple of weeks; trouble with Kate. The drugs. And I said to a friend, "y'know, when I had a lunch delivery service, a bloke called Pete worked for me, and he looked exactly like him."

    Pete's a common name, though. But this guy was in a band, and made a little cash as a model (he was in some Pizza Express retro seventies press ad while he was working for me), and was a poet. Aren't we all.

    Most of my delivery people were friends-of-each-other: people would hook up their mates with this fairly well-paid (I paid £5/hour even back in 1999)job, and I had a series of artistic types, many of whom went to music festivals in the summer and never came back on a Monday morning.

    Today, I got out my archive box, and found pay slips and check book stubs with his name on.

    Here's what I remember about Pete: he was employee number 16. He lived vaguely locally (Kilburn, I think), and he was the only person to (allegedly) ever steal money off me - £20 to be precise. He featured in a couple of ads. He was rather vague about his permanent address. He was mostly unreliable, and I think only lasted a little while. He appeared to have some kind of habit - or a permanent eye infection - but could mostly keep it in under control. He was a nice bloke, who was used to charming people. Basically immature and irresponsible. Also, in that business, women do a lot better than men, and I suspect he thought the job slightly below him.

    So: the evidence. A cheque stub for his pay, and his pay slip. You will notice that while I'm happy to dish the relatively-unintersting dirt about a A/B-list celebrity, I have whited-out his National Insurance number. Because it's one thing telling entertaining stories, and quite another messing with someone's privacy. The "temp deduct" for "-£20" is the money he allegedly stole.

    Hello, Pete.
    So it might not exactly be a blog-scoop, but it's coming in a minute.

    Thursday, February 03, 2005

    While I don't really care about celebrity worship, I feel I should tell you that I have some interesting news/gossip about someone currently in the papers. I am scanning some documents. Come back soon.
    Don't you love how the web works? Just a few days after never having heard of Devachan salon, I'm in the top ten on google.
    Stuff to do if you're a cultural Jew...

    ... or secular Jew. Or just Jewish.

    Saturday 5th Feb 8pm - 2am

    DJ’s Max Reinhardt and Lemez Lovas plus Live over da beats: Tigran Aleksanyan on Armenian clarinet / duduk / zurna / flutes

    Future World Funk - Eastern Bloc Party @ Notting Hill Arts Club

    Notting Hill Arts Club, 21 Notting Hill Gate, London W12

    £6 before 10pm. £8 thereafter or email for a £3 guest list before 9.30pm

    Future World Funk rocks into the New Year with DJs Max Reinhardt (The Shrine/various radio nationwide) and Lemez Lovas (Oi Va Voi / YaD) for a Balkan Gypsy Afro Caribbean roadblock guaranteed to blow the roof off... funky africanisms meet trumpet fanfares as Lagos collides with Ljubljana in a cascade of shimmering broken beats. And wailing loud and clear over the beats, virtuoso Tigran Aleksanyan on duduk, bringing the house down with the most sublime wood wind instrument on this earth, which like Tigran comes from Armenia. Born in the Ararat Mountains ...the man lives only for his music and his duduk.

    Sunday 20th March 4pm – 1am

    Oi Va Voi present special guests…

    Sunday Socialism @ Notting Hill Arts Club

    Notting Hill Arts Club, 21 Notting Hill Gate, London W12

    £6 before 10pm. £8 thereafter. £3 guest list before 9.30pm with this email

    Proudly presenting an all new Gypsy Balkan Russian Klezmer shakedown at the NHAC. Special guest live musicians, classic movies in the Kinorama, frozen vodka, rakiya galore and resident Djs Lemez Lovas, Max Reinhardt & Starets sweating it out in the Gypsy Diskoteka. Feed your soul early evening with borscht 'n' pelmeni in the Soviet kitschen, face off over the chess boards and don't forget to bring your balalaikas for the Soviet era silent films...

    Co-Produced by Adrian Philpott/ Oi Va Voi / Taskovski Films / YaD Arts / Ziggurat

    Sunday 10th April 7pm – 11pm

    David Baddiel, Catherine Yass, Jonathan Freedland, Natasha Walter, Henry Goodman, Oi Va Voi, Oliver Heath and more….

    SPIEL @ the ICA

    Institute of Contemporary Art, London, SW1

    Price: £18 /£17 concessions /£16 ICA members. Book tickets on 020 7930 3647

    The launch of a new series of lounge shows with performance and banter, along the lines of The Word and Newsnight Review. At SPIEL, four guests will chew the fat over contemporary cultural events with Jewish content, surrounded by sneak live previews of new albums, plays, performance and books by visiting bands, actors and contemporary dancers. &

    ... these are all from the YaD Arts mailing list, and the ICA one will sell out pretty quick, so get to it. Sadly (and happily, of course) I'm going to a wedding that day.
    Call me an anti-cynic and someone who cares about love, but have you seen eBay's Valentines Day promotion?

    Look at the right hand bar. If you only want a kiss, a jacket's good enough. To move in, you need an iPod, and to get engaged, you need to give a laptop.

    Forgive me, but I'm sure this whole offering to the gods of commercial tit-tat is allegedly about love, not about "what do you want out of it."

    Or maybe that's where I've been going wrong.

    Wednesday, February 02, 2005

    So I've been coming into a client's office, on and off, for three years. Maybe twice a week. Sometimes more, sometimes less.

    The same two security staff have been working the downstairs desk for all that time. I don't think they've ever asked to see my card (it's not a swipe thing); I just nod and look like I belong, and they say nothing. I mean, I have a card.

    So this morning, when I'm running late, I'm waiting for the lift, and one of the security guards comes up to me and asks to see my pass. I know it's in my wallet somewhere, but you know how it is when you're looking for something and can't find it? Three lifts come and go.

    I find it. I show it to him. He nods. I'm late.

    The day can only improve.

    Tuesday, February 01, 2005

    Saw Closer last night. The Patrick Marber play that's now a film? (sorry about my uptalk). It should be called Further Away.

    In an interview in the Independent Patrick had the gall to say:

    "European people perceive Closer as a hot-blooded passionate play, whereas American audiences and critics perceived it as misanthropic, cynical, cold-blooded. Those who didn't like the play just don't like the play, which is fair enough... Most mainstream American films are about redemption: the hero goes on a journey, and becomes a better person as a result of their suffering or experience.

    I never felt like Closer ever had a particular message. I'm not that kind of writer. I was just telling a story that I hoped would hold the audience's attention for a couple of hours. No one improves, there aren't great moral lessons to be learnt. The people who don't like it perceive it as a slab of nihilism."

    He's just telling a story ... nothing happens. I'm in shock. Stories are precious, and I spend ages, months working out who the people are and why and all those things. He just lets some dialogue fall out of his head and it's a play. Sheesh.

    And he's working on Zoe Heller's Notes On A Scandal. I bet he can strip all the soul out of that, too.