Tag: The Divine Comedy

The Wreck of the Beautiful

When the Beautiful set sail back in 1970,
She was state of the art, the flagship of our navy.
But the salt sea took its toll and the rust began to show,
And with a heavy heart we took her to the breaker’s yard.

I thought I heard her call.
Maybe I heard nothing at all.
I thought I heard her call
From the wreck of the beautiful.

Thursday

Same start as the day before; a swift-is breakfast before a start to the second part of the security audit. Got pinged on Slack by D asking about a blocker on one of my other projects; I was confused because I thought it was all in hand. Following up later, I discovered that it’s some third team who need to make a small change have declined to do so for what I can tell is no good reason; I pulled some strings so hopefully that’ll fall into place very soon. I eventually broke for “lunch” around 2pm.

Took delivery of my new bike in the morning, so spent my lunch break putting the handlebars and pedals on, with the assistance of the kids, before finishing up at a sensible time and cooking a curry for dinner. As seems to happen frequently, didn’t get the kids into bed until late; that said they were both asleep earlier than they’ve been recently. Evidently tired out!

Friday

Bank Holiday Friday. There’s a thing that doesn’t happen very often. Also something that doesn’t happen very often these days is that everyone’s up, dressed, and breakfasted before 9.

Attempted to head out on a ride on my new bike; was barely ten yards down the road when I realised the folly of trying to set it up in the garden where there’s no room to ride. Went back and raised the saddle quite a way. Set off again, feeling a lot more comfortable. Managed the big hill just by my house no problem, but started to realise the brakes aren’t set up quite right and my stopping distance is way too high, reinforced by the heart-in-mouth moment when a car, with the first idiot driver I’ve seen in a very long time, turned across my path without looking. Later on I decided the angle of the drop bars needs tweaking. I also need to train myself out of the habit of putting my hands on the flats, expecting there to be brakes there. Don’t know if it’s because I’m used to that from my other bikes, or some dormant muscle memory from the 1980s road bike I had in my teens which had a way of getting to the brakes there. Biggest annoyance was that the Fitbit stopped syncing ten miles in. No idea what my pace was like for the last seven miles or so. A decent first trip though, was glad to be out despite the sun being a little to warm for what I’m used to.

While I’d been out on the bike, J and the kids had been making bunting for the VE50 day celebration. Had a cup of coffee with them then made the bike adjustments; brakes are now a bit keener and hopefully I won’t feel so uncomfortable riding with my hands on the hoods. Pottered a little with the vegetables, mostly trying to rescue any of the carrot seedlings that the wildlife seems to be trying very hard to pull up.

After lunch, made a pizza dough and set about trying to tidy the garage and clear an overgrown flowerbed in the front garden to grow sunflowers in with the kids. Got there in the end, but it wasn’t quick work, and there’s lots more we really need to do in the garden even if we’re leaving the lawn to meadow. Pizza came out thick and chewy; it’s inspired me to maybe attempt a Detroit-style one soon.

Finished up the day reasonably early and watched Ready Player One in the evening. Not sure what I made of it; I read the book a number of years ago and enjoyed the retro references, not so much the story, especially the reveal of Aech’s real identity, which didn’t fit for me with the way the character had spoken and thought earlier in the novel. The film was better in a number of story related ways, but the nostalgia fell flat for me. Probably a combination of pop-culture-at-ninety-miles-an-hour working better on the printed page, and the problem of licensing. It needed more Simon Pegg too – but then I’m struggling to think of a film where he’s a supporting actor that doesn’t.


Napoleon Complex

Who pulls the strings?
Who makes the deals?
Stands five foot three in Cuban heels?
Who gets all the girls, then wakes up again?
Who will rule the world?
Who will make them scream his name?

Saturday

Awoke again at stupid o’clock. Took delivery of the week’s groceries, mostly intact. Up to now Ocado seem to have got off lightly with regards to stock problems. Maybe because there’s no instant gratification? When we put the order in, we had no idea the kids would be at home. There’s plenty to eat, it just might not be to their tastes. Oh well.

Headed out to the garden centre at 9am, aiming to arrive, and more importantly, leave, before it got even remotely busy. The car park was half full even then, though it seems like most of the traffic was for their attached farm shop; I stayed well clear. Picked up a few fruit and vegetable seeds plus some pots and hot-footed out of there before it got crazy.

Checked in on the bug fix I’d applied to an overnight backup job at work; despite being apparently part of yesterday’s release, it hadn’t gone live. Digging revealed that the person who did a full release yesterday didn’t do an actual full release, just pushed changes to the components he wanted fixed. Pushed it out properly.

Chatted with the next door neighbours while mowing the lawn; they’re well and don’t see themselves as being at particularly high risk, despite being retired. They have everything they need at the moment, and seemed keener on making sure we’re in the same situation. Got a phone call from both bosses on different phones at once; can I override the environment scheduler and spin up some development environments? Easy enough.

Afternoon: requisitioned a desk from one of the kids’ rooms to set up a work area for J in our bedroom. Fed them spicier-than-expected enchiladas, and introduced them to the glass of milk as a cure for spicy food burning your mouth.

Sunday

Woken at 4am by Sleeper Jr. knocking on our bedroom door; he’d had a nightmare. After an extended hug, he went back to his own bed and I dozed until about 6am. Check Ocado’s website and do the next week’s worth of shopping. Noted that they’ve sneakily put limits in place; can’t add two different loaves of bread to the order at once. Got up properly around 8am, and the kids presented J with the gifts and cards they bought two weeks ago when I took them shopping. So much has happened since then, it seems more like years ago.

Took the kids on a bike ride in the afternoon; minimal traffic on the roads but the park we’d usually cycle through is still fairly busy. The extended family enjoying a mothers’ day picnic in The Grove earned a few choice words from me under my breath. There’s still too much of the attitude that it doesn’t matter, that it’s just flu. It isn’t. Mostly everyone else we encountered was behaving the same as us; trying to get a bit of exercise and keeping fit while keeping their distance.

Cooked dinner on my return; a leg of lamb which will hopefully fill more than a few sandwiches as well over the course of the week. Called Mum while we were waiting for it to cook; we still have one child who doesn’t really want to talk to her. She confirmed what I’ve been hearing from social media and the news; hundreds of people have descended on the coast in a display of absolute mass stupidity.

I’m exhausted. Hopefully I’ll get a full night’s sleep tonight.


Lucy

She lived alone, and few could know when Lucy ceased to be;
But she is in her grave, and oh! The difference to me.
A slumber did my spirit seal – I had no human fears. 
She seemed a thing that could not feel the touch of earthly years. 
No motion has she now, no force; she neither hears nor sees – 
Rolled round in earth’s diurnal course with rocks, and stones, and trees.

This is a companion piece to the blog entry I’ve just made for NaNo London. If you’re not interested in NaNoWriMo, there’s probably not a lot here of interest. But if you’re interested in how I find inspiration in music and elsewhere, read on…


Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious World

Do you remember that old T.V. show,
Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious World?
Well if ITV make a new series,
They ought to come take a look at my girl.

I don’t understand her,
She doesn’t make any sense to me.
I don’t understand her,
It’s like she’s speaking in Swahili.

Blimey, has it really been six months? Time flies when you’re having a blast, I guess. But what have I actually been doing with my time? To tell the truth I’m not entirely sure. There was NaNoWriMo for a start. That was one of the hardest Novembers I’ve had since, well… ever. At 30,000 words on day 20, I had 7,500 on day 21. Thanks OpenOffice/Ubuntu/Asus, whichever of you conspired to eat my work. I finished on time – day day ahead in fact – which while being bloody amazing, knackered me entirely. Not sure I’m happy with the result, though, which makes the score so far 3 good, 2 need work and 1 failure. Overall, I’m still winning, I think.

I celebrated the win with a trip to IKEA. On what turned out to be one of the snowiest days of the year. It took me 15 minutes to get there, and five hours to get back. I wish I could say that the trip was worth it, but all I bought were a couple of picture frames…

Since then, what’s happened? Work. Then there was work, and work. And did I mention the work? Seems all I’ve done since then is the daily grind. And I’ve decided that that has to end. There is more to life than work, and I intend to swing the balance back into my favour. So here I go. Sleep Away The Afternoon is back. I’ll try to update more often, though I already know that anything approaching regularity is out.

I’ve noticed that Scrivener for Windows is now available for Linux too, so I’ve started work on editing some of my old stuff. It’s so much nicer than a regular word processor – polishing and rearranging each bit at a time seems so much easier and at this rate I might have something I’m happy with by Christmas (though we’ll see).

And finally, and most importantly, I’m planning a holiday. The first proper one in a couple of years. Hopefully with all this, and more stuff that I’ve no doubt not thought of yet, I can stop marking time and get on and do something. Seems like it’s time for something to happen.


Assume the Perpendicular

We’ll walk the grounds by Capability Brown,
Get lost for days inside the manicured maze.
We’ll bump our heads jumping on a four-post bed.
And we’ll ride for free
On the ladders round the walls of the circular library!


I can’t abide a horizontal life –
It’s time to rise, assume the perpendicular.
Jump up and down, make wild ecstatic sounds,
And talk about nothing in particular.

It’s been a week since we moved in. Seems like no time at all, and while I’ve managed to get a couple of things done, like putting up curtains in our bedroom and fixing a leaky tap in the bathroom, there’s still so much more to do – much of the time after moving in before going back to work was spent cleaning the old flat. Off the top of my head:

  • Curtains / blinds for my office and the lounge
  • Shampoo carpet in the lounge
  • Dismantle the wardrobe in the dining room. No joke, it wouldn’t fit up the stairs!
  • Finish unpacking boxes. Mostly the stuff left is DVDs and odd bits and pieces. There’s half-empty boxes everywhere.

That’s not including any of the bigger stuff to do, like redecorating most of the house, sorting out the garden. We have no interwebs yet, relying on a 3G USB modem (which made for an… interesting day working from home recently) but mostly it’s all good. Just need a few more years and we’ll be unpacked.


Songs of Love

Pale, pubescent beasts
Roam through the streets
And coffee shops.

Their prey gather in herds
With stiff knee-length skirts
And white ankle-socks.

But while they search for a mate,
My type hibernate in bedrooms above.
Composing their songs of love.

Slow progress on the house. Initial draft contracts have been approved, and our solicitor has sent “Additional preliminary enquiries” on to the vendors, whatever that means. No news yet on an exchange date, much less a completion date. Ah well.

In the meantime, though, I’ve made a start on clearing out all the junk I’ve accumulated, both over the last 5 years living here, and in the years before. When we moved in, a whole bunch of stuff was chucked, still boxed, in the study. If I were being truly ruthless, I’d chuck it without looking through it. Fortunately though, I’m not quite that insane. There’s a whole bunch of stuff in there of interest:

  • 10 free tickets to Satan’s Hollow nightclub, Manchester (use by 31st December 2000). I went there for the grand opening and nearly knocked Richard O’Brien flying after drunkenly stumbling into him. He was utterly gracious about it. Good times.
  • Entrance tickets to Empire State Building, International Visitor’s Invitation to the US Senate, and assorted other stuff from the first time we went to America in 2002. Been back several times, to different parts of the country, and thoroughly enjoyed myself every time.
  • A large collection (upwards of 100) of “Free dial-up internet” discs. I started collecting these when they were common in the belief they might be valuable some day. In fifty years or so I’ll see if I’m right.

Stuff I won’t be keeping includes:

  • Every payslip I was issued, July 1999-June 2005. Puts what I’m paid now into perspective all right. Whether I’m underpaid now, or was then, or whatever, I’m amazed that I managed to survive on so little. Then I remember I survived by getting into huge amounts of debt I’ve only recently paid off. Time to shred these, I think.
  • Half a dozen assorted PCI and AGP video cards, along with a small mountain of other PC components, including a CD-Rewriter drive that must have cost me a week’s wages, and a DVD-ROM drive. There’s a couple of hard disks here too. One I can’t access and the other seems to be a backup of my PC Circa 2004. Straight to the bin for this little lot, except for an 802.11g WiFi PCI card I don’t remember buying. That might still be useful some day.
  • A Compaq T1500 Thin Client PC! For a short while this acted as a box to display video on my TV. Now there’s more processing power in my mobile phone.
  • A stack of videotapes. I’ve no idea what’s on them, not having owned a VCR in about four years.

Amazing the stuff that just gets put away in the belief it might come in useful some day. In recent times I’ve become a lot more pro-active about getting rid of unnedded cruft. Just as well, it seems. I’d have run out of space to live in if I’d ket accumulating it at the same rate.