New desk at last. It looks like this:

Tuesday 10 October 2006

Now we’ll really see some action around here!

There was once such a thing as a free ride

Wednesday 27 September 2006

I was going to post about something of substance besides The Vivisector (which I’m falling behind on the reading schedule – hey, it’s not like I’ve been crazy about it) but my household has suffered a tragic loss.
There is a website based somewhere in Europe that offers one of those route planning service to motorists, and just like the UK based ones (Dear AA, please stop telling everyone that every single journey in Scotland must at some point involve taking a ferry to Bute) it tends to be pretty useless. For the past month or so it’s been telling unsuspecting truckies from the continent that the best way into central London from the docks is via a side street next to The Bunker: a very narrow street, lined with parked cars, before taking a tight turn under a railway bridge with a clearance of about 3 metres.
From time to time one could amuse oneself looking out the window, watching a 16-wheeled semi-trailer inching up this street, and taking bets on far it would get before it realised that there was no way it was getting under that bridge up ahead and then having to reverse all the way back again.
As of now, this is no longer funny. My girlfriend’s beloved secondhand Fiat with the overheating problem has been sideswiped by one of these foreign juggernauts while blamelessly parked in said side street. The poor heap has been written off, so no more getting chauffered around the UK for me. I’ve been trying to persuade her to buy another car, preferably one with more leg room in the back, but she’s oddly resistant to the idea.

Memo to self: do not sleep with Judy Davis

Monday 11 September 2006

Judging from the incredulous responses I’ve had from everyone I’ve complained to around here, I am the only person in London to have mosquitos in my house.
More about The Vivisector soon, but right now I’ve got writer’s block.

Of late; real late.

Monday 11 September 2006

I just explored one of the last unopened boxes that I packed before leaving Melbourne eighteen months ago. Amongst the electronic gear stuffed inside was an ancient Sony Discman. I popped the lid open and found Disc 2 of a three-CD set of John Cage‘s Etudes Australes. It looks like I left the country in a bigger hurry than I remembered.

Ravens 2 – Pigeons 0

Monday 14 August 2006

Once you’ve got a taste for it, you just can’t stop at one. Not what I want to see outside my window first thing in the morning. Maybe I should hang out a bird feeder.

Questi Cazzi Di Piccioni

Monday 7 August 2006

The roof space of the scuzzy block of flats across from where I live is infested with pigeons. Two ravens have just moseyed on into the hole the pigeons use to get into the roof.

Do ravens eat pigeons?

I’m hoping for the affirmative, particularly since that pigeon in Venice shat on me.
Note: The above was written a month or so ago but never posted, until now: The Squid Files has witnessed the same event today, with horrifying consequences. (Warning: lo-res but grody image that may offend some viewers, if they’re pigeons.)

Outside my window, yesterday afternoon

Tuesday 4 July 2006

I don’t know why the street was roped off: they were there when I got home and there was no evidence of what had happened. Whatever it was, it doesn’t seem to have been newsworthy; unlike last time the street I lived in was closed by the police, when I was living in Melbourne and Brenden Abbott decided to hole up on my block after breaking out of gaol. That was more exciting, if waiting for six hours to be let 25 metres down your street to get home is your idea of excitement.
He got away, in case you were hanging out to find how that last anecdote ended.
Wait! I’ve just had a leaflet slipped under my door. There was a shooting at the dodgy pub across the street. This place feels more and more like home every day.

Filler by Proxy XXXII: She Holds the Allen Key to My Heart

Sunday 12 March 2006

Some time ago I fessed up to my perfectly understandable obsession with Anna the Ikea chatbot, especially the brunette incarnation. Even then I knew I was not the only one vying for Anna’s affections, but still I felt a pang of jealousy to see that Minor Tweaks has made repeated advances to her for the past year. Luckily, he doesn’t seem to have made much progress:

Anna: I am opening a page now which you can use if you wish to contact Customer Services. Thank you very much!
Trying to get rid of me, eh?
I will. Thank you for the encouragement.

Still the sweetest cold-hearted bitch on the planet; no wonder we just can’t keep away. Just don’t let her talk you into buying a cheap futon base.

How to get ahead in London

Thursday 23 February 2006

There’s a shallow dent the size of a pound coin on the front left fender of my girlfriend’s new car. She’s just come inside from another session of squatting in front of the parking bay and glaring at the indentation with furrowed brows, scrutinising the bodywork for any other damage. She swears the dent wasn’t there when she bought it.
(Regular readers may have gathered the accurate impression that she is a woman who takes cars seriously. Personally I am agnostic, fitting the definition of a poet as someone who cannot drive.)
Of course, it is not really a new car – she did not track down the late and mysterious Mucho Maas of the home counties for a shiny new Kia. A friend of hers was leaving the country and needed to dispose of his slightly thrashed Fiat Brava in a hurry. He was doing a postdoctorate in Plymouth, and so had done his fair share of driving at high speed around blind corners on those hedge-lined, one-lane backroads that zigzag across Devon and Cornwall. He was more than happy to demonstrate his skills to us when we went to visit.
Plymouth’s claim to fame rests on the number of illustrious former inhabitants who made a point of leaving it. Apart from Drake sailing out to take on the Armada, and the pilgrims leaving to settle America, much of the civic bric-a-brac erected for public enlightenment proudly reminds you that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle briefly lived there. He hated the place, and moved away as soon as possible, but it seems Plymouth has to take what little celebrity it can get and be grateful.
More recent history has done nothing to increase Plymouth’s allure. The place was bombed flat in World War II by German planes returning from raids on Bristol jettisoning what remained of their payloads. Postwar rebuilding was done with all the style and quality for which modern Britain is famous around the world. Plymouth today is a small, ugly city of bad 1960s architecture, littered with unemployed men with bad haircuts and eating pasties, so for me it was just like coming home to Adelaide and taking a bus out to Elizabeth.

There are two big things in Plymouth’s favour: the excellent gin, and everyone there talks like a pirate. In Cornwall, every day is 19 September. We went around asking older guys for directions all day.
It was in Plymouth that I first experienced that venerable British culinary stalwart, the inedible meal. A harmless-looking Italian-type bistro served me a carbonara consisting of a pile of overcooked spaghetti half-submerged in a milky broth, disrupted by clumps of bright pink spam. I should have been warned off the place by the fact that they had one of those collections of signed and framed celebrity photographs on the wall, except in their case there was only one “celebrity”: Gus Honeybun.
We agreed our friend would drive the car up to London en route to the airport in a few weeks’ time, and drop it off at our place. This was harder to achieve than it seemed at the time we planned it. Everything went fine until he reached the outskirts of London, and then attempted to navigate his way from Slough to Hackney without a map. His success can be gauged from the diagrams below, accompanied by his text messages reporting his progress towards the Bunker. For your convenience, Jeremy Bentham’s location in Bloomsbury is marked as a reference point.

6.30 pm: in hamersmith cu in 1 hr

7.30 pm: wo6ps at heathrow xrong turn c u so6nish

9.00 pm: ic wembley stadiun am i close??
We thought it best to take a tube to meet him at Wembley. The drive back to the bunker started out simply enough along the North Circular Road, but ran into trouble when we made the turn south toward the bunker. One of the amazing things about London is how you can follow the streets, diligently alternating left turns with right turns to keep on some sort of tacking course toward your presumed destination, only to find yourself driving in the opposite direction past the landmark you left behind half an hour earlier.
“This is hopeless!” I yelled. I’m constructive like that.
Our driving friend sighed. “Looks like I’ll have to get the street directory out after all.”

The bastard had a street directory, but preferred to drive in circles around London for five hours rather than admit defeat and reach under the passenger seat for the A-Z. We had no choice to kill him once he got us back to the bunker at last.

Mind you, he could have achieved this without our help. At midnight, about an hour into the journey home, he exclaimed, “Aha! That’s why everybody’s been pointing and waving at me! I just thought all the drivers round here were really aggro.” He pressed a button on the dashboard and switched the headlights on.

It’s all too beautiful! Another post about toilets.

Monday 6 February 2006

Last week the bunker’s toilet developed an endearing quirk which is apparently here to stay. When it flushes, the pipes make this ultra-60s swirly psychedelic flanging noise. Groovy! I have the Itchycoo Park of toilets!
I was going to make an MP3 of my toilet for you to download and enjoy, but there was a technical problem during the recording session. Does anyone have advice on the best way to dry out a microphone?

“It must be very difficult coming to London from Australia, having grown up so far away from the cultural centre of tradition,” continued

Sunday 8 January 2006

First, thanks to everyone who has written in with prayers and messages of support following my inexplicable vodka crisis. I have taken the scientific approach by attempting to replicate the phenomenon: the offending item has been thawed and drunk, replaced by two bottles of vodka. The frozen bottle was a gift from a friend, so I’ve bought one of my preferred brand, plus one of the same brand as a control.
I have been passing the new year in the genteel and civilised company of the English (see photo), and enjoying the cold weather (yes, it has snowed once on the bunker). Unfortunately, I got too smug about not having to see the annual front-page photo all the Australian papers run at this time of year showing people on the beach because, hey! Stop the Presses! a hot day in summer! Then I found out all the British papers run exactly the same photo at exactly the same time because their readers apparently can’t get their minds around the fact that it’s not winter on the other side of the world.
Right now, I’m off to share the magic of lager.

Good freezer or bad liquor? Inquiries pending

Wednesday 4 January 2006


The Enigma of the Voynich Manchester

Friday 9 December 2005

I’ve spent a lot of time staring at the curtains lately. More to the point, I’ve been trying to read the curtains. I’ve been meaning to ask the landlord where he got them from, in case I can trace them back to once having hung in John Dee’s library.

This is a transcription of my soft furnishings (from top left):
Gracia. Agapdo oum uiara qume oares elegni.
Hbidem in ilapide corosfo. A Sali Domitiano Aq. Tribo kir iuno sing.
aotro ulyemno mi adra etera praasrdyo foment praeaonia receaant ueterd aond funt anuud.
It feels a bit like reading J.K. Rowling, only with most of the boring bits taken out and better cod-Latin. If you want to design your own curtains, pillowslips or antimacassars, there are useful tools online if you don’t trust your own neologising skills. I’m not feverish enough to believe that the curtains are trying to tell me secrets but, at the very least, I think I’ve discovered the inspiration behind Blogger’s word verification system for comments.

Alternatively, I can wait for school to start again

Monday 12 September 2005

Dear Crack Dealers,
Please start selling drugs in my street. The kids playing outside are shitting me.
Crystal meth also considered.

No-one reads this blog

Thursday 11 August 2005

And I’m not reading anyone elses’ right now. I’ve got bigger problems, having been evicted from my bunker. About a year ago I thought I had me a nice, stable life in Melbourne and was happily settled in a large, crumbling house in the I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-Brunswick end of North Fitzroy. Thanks to perfidious landlords and some bad business decisions I am about to move for the fourth time in the past 12 months, one of those times being a midnight dash to the other end of the earth.
At least I’ve found me a new bunker, which is considerably bigger and cheaper than my present abode.
It may, however, be a while until I have regular internet access. I move Friday. Postings to resume soonish.