Monthly Archives: August 2006

Monkey Meetup Photographs

After last Thursdays Monkeyfilter London Meetup, I’m pleased to say that Mothninja has posted her myriad photographs of the evening. Just pop along to her Flickr page for the pics in all their glory. See! amusing faces. See! the beginnings of a double chin.

Sadly though, you’ll also see from Mothninja’s later photos that her dog has died. Very sorry to hear that, MJ, being an owner myself.

Hello Monkeys

Last night I went to meet someone I’ve been communicating with over the Internet. I went to meet them in a small pub down a narrow back alleyway. No-one knew where I was, or when I was due home. I could well have disappeared, leaving only a blurry unflattering picture of me at a party, doing that weird ‘leaning in and back to get everyone in the picture’ thing that people do, in a sidebar in Metro.

But I think I was safe. I went to meet a motley selection of “luminaries” and “celebrities” from the website Monkeyfilter to which I post links and comments from time to time. Because of the international nature of the site and its users, meetups are a common occurence, and a good way to bring the faceless net citizens together.

After managing to track down the miscreants in the tiny warren-like Old Mitre Tavern, we got down to the matter at hand. A lot of the monkeys (as we are called – yep), already knew each other from previous meetups, and from school in some cases. But they were very welcoming, and it was great to put faces to the nicknames and personalities.

Amongst the deep discussions about, well, everything really, I was introduced to the tradition of ‘shoutouts’. This consists of the drawing of amusing and appropriate picture messages to users who couldn’t make the meetup due to time or location constraints. The messages are then photographed, and the photos posted to Flickr or similar. I’ll post a link up when they appear.

It was good to meet some of the famous names from the site, and be impressed by the variety of intellects, interests and the varying senses of humour. I’ll be going to the next one, deffo.

One final note. I did travel home on the Tube with a Freudian picture of a banana being shot pinned to my jacket. No-one batted an eyelid. And the dog was fine.

Welcome, Reader Mairi

Last night, Mairi let slip the terrifying news that she reads this blog. I suddenly feel, not violated exactly, but different. Of course, anyone can read this, and I have a readership which is close to the high millions (in cosmic terms), but I live with Mairi, and we share the great journey that is life. We also share groceries , and cleaning duties.

She said she’d been reading this post from 3 years ago about seeing the film ‘Underworld’, and took issue with some points I made. First off, she said Kate Beckinsdale wasn’t brooding and driven, she was just shite. Fair enough.

Mairi also claims she asked the question, “Would you rather be a vampire or a werewolf?”, and claimed credit for starting the discussion. Fair enough again. To be honest, it was all so long ago I can’t remember. Catch up, dear.

Garden Drapes – Exterior Decor?

We’re having a couple of problems with Shuggie in the garden. It would be nice to able to leave him down there on his own for a while. Not while we’re out of course, or in the rain or anything, just to let him potter around in the garden, minding his own (and doing his) business.

But because our cheapo fencing is made of thin poles of bamboo-like wood, he can see through it. And that means he can see next-door’s cat, and the cat from the house at the back, and people in their gardens, and so on and so forth. And this drives him crazy. As soon as we’ve let him out into the garden, and settled down to read or whatever, he’s barking and skittering around, annoying the neighbours with his yipping. And being the solidly lower-middle-class folks we are, we care what the neighbours think.

Mairi thinks, and I tend to agree, that the fencing needs to be changed. It’s old and tatty, and badly fitted (not by me). But before we pay for new stuff that may not stop the barking, she suggested draping the nasty sheets and duvet covers that I keep for dustsheets when decorating over the fence and pegging them in place. So now we have some garish paint-spattered 80’s duvet covers decorating our garden. I can’t help thinking garden curtains might be the next big thing.

Anyway, it seems to work! Shuggie was in the garden, sniffing around, and I looked over the fence to see next doors cat, Monster, sitting in their garden. The two animals were oblivious of each other.

Shuggie still barks at the cat over the back, because we didn’t peg sheets there, but the Technical Proof Of Concept is in place, pending further trials.

Shuggie Has It In For His Paw

He’s done it again! He got a grass seed in his paw. Now this isn’t normally a problem, because we just hold him down, snip away the fur, and get it out with tweezers, if it isn’t actually stuck in him too much.

But not this time, oh no.

This time the seed got right under his skin (cue song), so it took a vet, a general anesthetic, paw shaving, a scalpel, tweezers and a stitch to sort him out. Now he’s under the weather from the drugs, and has the good old plastic lampshade round his neck. We’re getting a lot of use out of that, we are. And the pet insurance.

Sadly, because of this we’ll have to postpone Shug’s modelling debut with Julia, because he has the aforementioned lampshade round his neck, and he also has an ugly shaved paw like a fat rat. But we still love him, honest!

Weekend Frolics In A Pub And The Rain

After being off sick on Friday (same symptoms as the others, it turns out) Saturday was a fresh start. Did my usual pottering around, did the washing up and put the washing on while listening to, and shouting at, Any Questions, took the dog up to Tooting Bec Common for a frolic in his new bandana (pron. ban-da-NA*), where he made friends with a giant hairy Alaskan Malamute, which proceeded to gallop around nearly knocking me over and being hairy everywhere.

After that I did some more pottering, while Shuggie continued to have boundless energy, despite me thinking I’d knackered him out on the common. In the evening I went up to the big city to see Daneeta for her birthday. It was good to see her and cinematographer Patrick, and of course my fellow Mute records fan Matt. I haven’t seen any of them for months, and it was jolly good fun all round. We met at the Chandos, a very nice pub with Samuel Smith beers, which despite being right in tourist- and theatreland, doesn’t get totally rammed, and it’s cheap too. Oh and all the beers are vegan, if that matters to you.

I seem to have said I would get James to contact Daneeta about marketing techniques, and also said the Carlton might be able to provide Patrick with an old man for a short film. Promises, promises.

Sunday was nice and relaxing. I did some more pottering in the morning (very important that) and went and bought a DVD recorder from Curry’s. I know, I know, but I just couldn’t be bothered pissing around on the net forever. Got it home, it works, fine. If it breaks, my statutory rights get me a replacement within the year.

Mairi took the dog to the common this time, then about half an hour after she left, the heavens opened and it rained tremendously hard. I took photos, I was so impressed. Lightning was striking really close by, and the guttering couldn’t take the pressure, so water was just pouring off the roof. I feared for the skylight. I’ll put the pics up this evening. I was worried that Mairi and Shuggie would turn up drenched, with the dog traumatised and shivering. Luckily they made it back to the car in time, and just got a bit wet. I’d lain out towels and tea, but it wasn’t so bad. Shug did need a bath though, which he tolerated as usual, before going beserk when being dried, running up and down, savaging toys etc. Bless.

By the way, Mairi has taken some tentative steps onto the web – she has a MySpace profile. Don’t forget to add her as a friend and ask for a/s/l lol.

* pronouncing it like this is funny, and it comes from Fist of Fun, when Peter (the stinking Balham virgin) finds a book about “how to dance the Lambada” and he pronounced it ‘lam-ba-DA’ in a Welsh accent and that’s why it’s funny, although without the accent it would have been just as funny, so I needn’t have mentioned it really.

Saturday: The Journey Home

Up early, hit the road at 1030, got home at 1930. What a great holiday in Seahouses – I got a bit of a tan, enjoyed some great British scenery, Shug won’t recover for days. All together now…

It’s been a long road
Getting from there to here
It’s been a long time
But my time is finally near
And I will see my dream come alive at last,
I will touch the sky
And they’re not gonna hold me down no more
No, they’re not gonna change my mind
Cause I got faith of the heart
I’m going where my heart will take me
I got faith to believe
I can do anything
I got strength of the soul
And no one’s gonna bend or break me
I can reach any star
I got faith
Faith of the heart…

Friday: Final Fling

Another blistering start at about 10, with Mairi rising for a Full Swedish (Massage), to nicely compliment the Full English (breakfast) I had earlier in the week.

A quick walk for Shug in the dunes, asking him nicely not to eat sand or drink seawater, then we nipped up to Bamburgh Castle, which was the most satisfying castle I’ve seen in a long while. Armoury, Scullery, paintings, china, cannon, battlements, and some really old archaeological stuff going on too.

Lunch in the castle tea rooms was also good, then we rolled back halfway to Seahouses, so that we could get in some serious beach frolicking. I had brought my trunks, but one paddle put paid to that idea. After I regained blood flow to my feet, I dug in the sand with Max, Leo and Shuggie, and Mairi and Linda relaxed and nattered. John had long since started to walk back from Bamburgh, and he met us halfway, pausing to stop the dog rolling in a seagull carcass, before striding off again. I buried the gull, with due honours, and then tried to bury Max and Leo, without success. Max actually dug himself a grave, and we found a good rock to use as a headstone. Leo buried himself in the kneeling position, and I buried my feet. The ladies had left by this time, presumably in disgust.

Dinner was a final plate of Haddock’n’Chips, in one of the seated fish and chip restaurants. Then a 99 flake before strolling home to watch another family DVD and drink even more lager. I should be keeping a Bridget Jones-style tally:

Friday 4 August. Cigarettes: 0, vvgood. Tins of crisp cold Kronenburg 1664: 4, fine by me.

Thursday: In Brief

Brief entry today. Better weather. Walked Shug on beach. He rubbed his face in a dead crab, drank sea water, burrowed in stinky seaweed, and then later vomited what looked like a litre of water on the floor. Fun for all.

In the afternoon, we drove to Berwick-on-Tweed, walked round the ramparts of the old town, great view.

We bought lots of sweets at a great shop with all the jars behind the counter. I have a bag of Berwick Cockles to hand out at work.

Then as the sun started to cruise back down, we partook of the Seahouses Crazy Golf course. Speaking as a connoisseur, it was very well kept, with each hole representing a local landmark. One particular bitch of a hole was the Farne Islands, because the ball would keep bouncing between them. The final scores:

1. Mairi – 50

2. Me – 52

3. Max – 53

4. Leo – 63


Another DVD in the evening, The Incredibles, plus several cans LAGER.

Wednesday: A Nice Change From A Heatwave

A day whose general demeanour can be summed up with the phrase “Torrential horizontal rain and gale force winds”. Nonetheless, John ventured out to fetch Craster kippers for breakfast, which we ate with buttered brown bread and poached eggs (“Eggs again, Matthew?”. A voice.), while watching Thunderbirds (the one with the oil refinery hidden in the pyramid – reflecting world events quite nicely).

The rest of the day was spent relaxing in the house, playing cards, you know, the traditional rainy day standbys. The wind was lashing the sea into the harbour wall, and the wind was shredding the England flag fastened to the mast of a boat. Despite this, I wrapped up and took Shuggie out to do his business on the beach (plastic bag in pocket, of course). The others waved from the window as I tried not to get blown out to sea, and thankfully Shuggie was also keen to get back inside, so he was quick.

For lunch, we all got wrapped up and trekked to the cafe for rolls, tea, chocolate cake, and banana milkshake (in my case). It was only 2 minutes to the cafe, but the wind made it feel like at least twice that.

Leo insisted on buying Shuggie a squeaky rubber chicken, christened Ron, with which he proceeded to annoy the hell out of me. But Shug seems to like it. I’ll have the squeaker out with a Stanley knife when we get home.

In the evening, there was no let up in the weather, so it was DVD time! Harry Potter and his Fiery Gob, followed by Firewall, a ransom-techno-thriller-by-numbers with Paul Bettany (the baddie, surprise surprise) and Harrison Ford, who does a good line in, “If you hurt my family, I’ll hunt you down”-type teeth-grinding.

For dinner, Mairi and I went to Ye Olde Shipppe Hotel, which disappointed with its single veggie dish, but came through with a passable lasagne. My whiting with bacon was very nice, as was my ginger trifle and bottle of Sauv Blanc. We had a very enjoyable conversation about music and how all the music nowadays is rubbish, and the music of those older than us is boring. It was good to touch base and swap thoughts on this subject, because we rarely get a chance to really put the world to rights like that. Goodnight!