It began as a blog about completing a thesis, it became a blog about everything but completing a thesis, it ended with a complete thesis.

Friday, April 29, 2005


trans. To render lovely. So 'lovelified ppl. a., 'lovelifying vbl. n. [Oxford English Dictionary]


Keyword analysis time again... Last 48 hours have led the following searches to SHANE:-

scram gravy ain't wavy / what is an example of an onamatapeia / fuck my tites auntie / shahida mini and one man fucking / the cyclamen from dr.who / cultural moment /shane / plump tites / uttoxeter chavs / camilla duchess big tits

It's good to know that there's an online space for such searchers to... whatever. I guess adding special interest pictures to this blog would go down well. Probably shouldn't be using terms such as 'go down well'. 'Hot oral action' perhaps, but 'go down well' - no.


Earlier today, radio 2 reported that the electioneering Ann Widdecombe - on a local radio phone-in - told a lady caller that in the event of Conservative Party policies not bringing about positive changes for her then Ann would buy her a cat. This is a person who had Prime Ministerial ambitions only a few years ago. At times like this I'm proud to be British.


Sister Wexford managed to acquire tickets for self and Emma to go to a free music festival in the north east. That is just over a week away. I've looked at the line-up and I know of only one of the 'acts' (The Foo Fighters). I shall wear my most lurid mustard cardigan for the event. I think it's right that one should make the effort.


Two years ago, I asked a man "At this moment in time, what question would you like to be asked, and what's the answer to that question?" The response was "Question: How do you feel your artwork and life fit in the bigger scheme of art history and society? Answer: I feel like, as post-beat scenes go, I came of age during punk which was the last distinct and dynamic youth culture movement. I made extreme performance work that was always gauged by this intensity. I think I also effectively communicated my torture (from being haunted by religion, drug addiction, self-destruction, HIV...) without becoming a victim. I think many of my performances were complex responses. I used to care if I was going to leave a mark or at least "finish" making everything I need to make. In my 40s, I've become much less "do or die" about art and life." He also went on to mention gardening and socialising with friends. The man's name was (and still is) Ron Athey. A nice guy. Gentle and serene. I later saw him pull a two metre string of pearls out of his arse. An hour or so after that we chatted about violin music, as an oozle of puss leaked from his right face-cheek - you see, that had been where a hook was removed from. But, was it ever art?


One to ponder: 'Unconditional love'. Hmmmm, totally unconditional?


I love lush green landscapes.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005


A good 5 days in at the deep end with Emma and Alex, her folks, her sister (plus boyfriend), and her gran. All in a big holiday cottage by the coast (Tenby - a first for Shane). Good beaches, crabbing, larking about with a 4 year old, glad to be by the sea, glad to be in the sun, glad to... ... damn those three-part lists. I returned 2 days ahead of my co-trippers - pre-planned and work-related. The whole experience reminded me of a combination of 80s Wexford family holidays (mostly Blackpool) and childhood confusion at why anyone would visit any of the Tyne, Wear and Tees coastal towns for a holiday (Whitley Bay, South Shields, Redcar...). Anyway, the trip included self, Emma, Alex and Emma's father taking a visit to Caldey Island - home to a working monastery, a handful of 'ordinary' permanent residents, angry Mallard ducks, and reasonably priced chocolate-covered flapjack. Getting the chance to see Emma for a sustained length of time in her broader family context was useful, though at the same time frustrating, very frustrating. Good people's neuroses, good people's defence mechanisms. Left me pondering how and whether to share views of the not-so-positive observations of how families interact.

Sun-dried tomatos: As opposed to what? Hair-dryered tomatos?

Was interested to hear that the Australian equivalent to the UK Conservative Party are 'The Liberal Party'. In the UK, the Conservatives are associated with economic 'liberalism' and social 'conservatism' (general right-wingery). My own use of the term 'liberal' has tended towards the social stuff. The up-front Australian use of 'Liberal' jars in the Wexford ear. Probably says something about priorities. Probably says that Wexford is ignoring the folly of splitting the economic and the social. Sod the three-part lists. I often flinch at other people's (ab)use of 'liberal' and 'conservative', but heh, rhetorical swings bullshit roundabouts.

I love preaching. But it's usually a sign of tiredness.

Friday, April 22, 2005


Some interesting search terms have led people here over the past 48 hours. They include:-

1. alex football londonist [UK]
2. thesis on organ sales [USA]
3. leak soup (indeed, that old mis-spelling chestnut) [USA]
4. calcium deposits in a boy’s tits [USA]
5. shane morale [USA]
6. doctor who [UK]
7. ruth kelly deep voice [UK]
8. deflator silencer tire [Fr]
9. bondage [USA]

I am off to Wales for four days (the plea-bargaining worked). The blog will be having a fallow period until the middle of next week. I leave you with a request:-

Compliment the next person with whom you speak - whoever that is. I would be glad to hear of any details or outcomes from this.

I love not knowing what was behind search term #4. Not 'quite' forensics terminology methinks.

Thursday, April 21, 2005


Last night I sped (at an average of 38 m.p.h.) from Emma’s house in the BigCity to a smart theatre in NearbyTown for my first ever participation in a ‘drama workshop’.

Background: I’d seen adverts for these sessions over a year ago, thought ‘interesting’, made a mental note, and decided to come back to it. Fortnight ago I saw similar adverts and thought ‘Heck, why not, at worst it’d be two hours of embarrassing discomfit’. So a place I booked, and along I went. Having seen the original advert I’d guessed it would be a crowd of local am-dram luvvies participating (working their way up to that debut appearance in The Bill). On my more recent viewing of the advert I wondered what percentage of participants might actually be ‘confidence-builders’, having been referred ‘theatre’ by their counselling psychologists. I was feeling a bit nervous as I approached. Wondered if I’d know or recognise any of the participants. I knew several folk who had connections with this place. Further background: I have no experience of call-a-spade-a-spade ‘acting’. I expected to find it extremely difficult.

So: I arrived, and was greeted by a mannish woman who guided me to an attractive rehearsal space. I evidenced being a bit nervous by casually asking far too many questions – ‘How many people take part in this kind of thing?’ ‘Is there anyone else here yet?’ ‘Who is it that runs the sessions?’ ‘Does my bum look big in this?’ ‘Are you a transsexual?’ ‘Did you have an operation on your privates?’ You know, that kind of thing. My greeter dropped a light hand on my forearm, ‘Don’t worry, it’ll be good. Have fun!’ I acted a smile, and nodded. ‘Ok, you’re right, we’re cool, I’m an actor - tonight’ I lied to myself. A woman had already arrived. This was the beginning of my meeting my fellow students:-

Twitch: First impressions: ‘You haven’t just starred in a major west-end production’ I thought, ‘…though you may have just come here straight from your job at a bakery’. She was entirely pleasant, 30ish, explained that she was a regular attender, had previously enjoyed am-dram but had lost interest in her previous group, and into my flurry of questions she inserted a formal introduction – ‘I’m Twitch’. ‘Of course you are. I’m Shane’. I was told that attendance could be anything from four or five, up to fifteen. Seemed a decent sort.

We were soon joined by Smiler and GlamourRuskie.

Smiler: Late 40s, worked on computers, and was also a regular attender. ‘I use what I learn here in my job, it’s surprising, it helps you communicate with lots of different people’ ‘But you work on computers?’ queried I. ‘Yeah - but it’s global’. ‘Right, I haven’t a fucking clue what you’re on about, and I’m really not encouraged enough to pursue this line of dialogue because your fixed Colgate grin is scaring me’ thought I. Despite that, he seemed a decent sort.

GlamourRuskie: Groomed, very well groomed. Very much ‘The Russian did well’. Killer knee-high boots, with some kind of dark tights. Dark tastefully just below the knee ruffled look skirt. Dark top. Hint of cleavage. ‘Tanned’. Lined eyes – making it a little difficult to put an age on her. Guessing mid-30s. Previously hosted a live ‘cultural’ TV show in Russia, had got into this as an academic colleague had not had time to continue in the role, and asked her if she wanted the gig. Worked in classical music. Spoke with stereotypical mixed-pitch Russian accent. Moved to UK in last couple of years having married a Brit. The term ‘internet bride’ may have sprung to my mind. This was her first drama workshop. Seemed a decent sort.

BeardBard: The tutor. 30ish. Big deep booming voice. Gentle, though a big bluff man. ‘Theatrical’. Obvious physicality. Obviously overweight. Worked with offenders and kids on drama intervention projects, and in theatres as an assistant director – which was right for ‘this stage in [his] career’. Seemed a decent sort.

And that was it - tutor, and four students (including two rookies). Intimate.

Our two hours of activities were based around improvisation. Last month the group (of 7 or 8) had worked on ‘stage fights’. Twitch had hurt her thumb. Much of the early ‘work’ was akin to those ‘getting to know one another’ (team-building) exercises that occur in work places and anywhere else that you’re likely to run into complex psychopathologies. I exaggerate. The evening turned out to feature much more head-work (thinking) than I’d expected. Although there was much acting out scenarios I found myself largely ‘playing me’. I let dialogue do the interactional work. I felt little need to screech or yell or grab GlamourRuskie in a passionate (not so mock) embrace. I felt little need to plead with Twitch that actually she could learn a lot from Smiler by taking what she experienced here back out into the real world. I felt no inclination towards back-slapping Smiler in Americano buddy-buddy fashion. I would not over-react to those who would over-act. In context, physically, I was too rigid. However, I played along, and I will return. Because in all of this, what I did do was confirm that I have a good instinct for directing. And at times I did feel pushed – which is no bad thing.

Hopefully there’ll be more of us next time.

I loved the Brian Clough public persona.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


If only all politicians…
(From the BBC)

If you were thinking the election campaign was dull, at least there's Boris Johnson as an antidote.

The Times followed the Conservative candidate canvassing in Henley and he exhibited his full range of unique, bumbling charms.

When a man who was cleaning his caravan with a toothbrush said he wouldn't be voting Tory, Mr Johnson's reply was "Right-ho. Jolly good. Carry on toothbrushing."

As he departed, he said: "I think that went VERY well," before humming ‘Is This The Way To Amarillo’ and doing some knee-bends.

On another doorstep, he said: "Hello, I'm your MP. Actually I'm not. I'm your candidate. Gosh."

If you can help...

Our pond frogs
Did shuffle and shake
Baby frogs
They did make
But now they’ve gone
I know not where
What of their fate?
Tadpoles beware

- Not Billy Bragg. Surprisingly.

If I continue to chip away…

Useful PhD day today. Related: August is down as the month where life should begin to change dramatically, though having spotted a couple of juicy job ads things could shift well before then. Will be non-blogging for a day or two - got work meetings in the BigCity tomorrow, followed by my first ever ‘drama workshop’ in the evening. Feeling a bit *gulp* about that. Could be good, could be bloody awful, will be interesting.

I love it when the rain lashes down. Really do.

Monday, April 18, 2005


Saw GayFranglaise on Saturday. He was telling me of an elderly cousin who died last week. Wasn’t heavy talk, rather ‘this is how it was’ kind of talk. During this he recalled ‘Oh! And I’ve inherited nine tins of salmon’. Then he chuckled. As did I. Made me wonder: If that’s what a regular old guy in the north of England left, just imagine how many tins of salmon might the Pope have left? I don’t know. Maybe the Pope didn’t like salmon. Maybe the salmon all gets passed on to the next Pope. Maybe the cardinals will discuss the salmon in the conclave (fascinating process). But what if the next Pope doesn’t like salmon? Maybe they’ll make it a condition that the next Pope has got to like salmon such that the salmon doesn’t go to waste. The future of the Roman Catholic church could depend on 10 tins of salmon. Or maybe as many as 50. But surely no more than that.

Saw a film called Sideways at the weekend. In a nutshell: it’s a road movie in which a failing author is forced into exorcising the ghost of a failed relationship. This is juxtaposed against his soon-to-be-married male sidekick doing all that he can to depart single life with one or two last shagging exploits. This is storied against their wine tour of what I’m guessing was northern California. Liked the film a lot. Paul Giamatti – top actor, liked him in Man on the Moon. Best part of the film: the Giamatti character’s growing relationship with ‘Maya’ – taut and tender. Minor shortcomings of the film related to the character of ‘Stephanie’ - whose dialogue range was too broad. 8.5/10.

Had an entertaining tete-a-tete-a-tete with co-dweller Marie and old chum Chantal on Friday. We spoke of words and phrases in voice and print that gave us cause for wincing. Examples included:–

Suddenly’... The motif for anti-climax primary school story-writing.
I can’t even begin to tell you…’... Wrong! You can, because you are. Not existentialism, just common sense.
There’s nothing worse than…... Wrong! There is! Let us try this poke in the eye for starters...

Had more geologists landing on the blog. Seems that the stalactites continue to be more popular than the stalagmites. Very recent search engine terms leading to Shane have included:-

‘natural plump tites’ – a search rooted in science-art geo-sculpture. Definitely.
‘sweet tites’ – do people really think of calcium deposits in terms of 'sweet'?
‘big tites’ – a popular search term - geo-tourists, I guess.
‘tites now’ – sister-journal to 'The History of Tites'?

I love raised eyebrows. But not the ones that have been plucked, then drawn back on higher. I don't understand them.

Friday, April 15, 2005


Yesterday, Michele asked ‘What is one place or thing that you have seen that is worth much more than a thousand words; that only a picture can adequately describe?’ Well. This brought to mind the following recollection. However, I chose not to share it there and then as the commenter before me had made reference to some serious heart-rending image. The idea of that being followed by a Shane day-trip anecdote seemed inappropriate. Here is the answer that should have been:

Best view I ever saw was near to a place called South Lake, near Tannersville, Greene County, NY. It was 1999 and me and my pal - an Australian girl called Jeanette who I lost touch with, she went to live in Ontario after marrying a chap called Al – well, we’d been walking for the day and we were destined for a place called 'The Old Hotel Site' (or something like that - it sounded like it was from a Scooby-Doo show). Anyway, we're walking up this hill on this clear summer's day and we get the impression before we reach the summit that a big view is going to open up before us (we didn't know for sure - the country park map was scratchy, and we were ill-prepared). Anyway, oh my lord, what a view it was that opened up. We were looking down on the Hudson, could see several distant mountain ranges, into several counties, and 'I think' a few states. The conditions were perfect. Twas amazing. Most moving. And now I wish I was there again.

And after a quick internet search I can confirm that our location was definitely Newman's Ledge and the Catskill Mountain House Site. The actual Catskill Mountain House has long since gone. Looking at the second picture on the link - that's exactly where we were - brought a tear to the Shane eye. The left one. Always the left.

Do feel free to share any of your own favourites. But do take your shoes off at the door. I'll not have you trailing dog poo into my comments box again.

Those of you with a keen UK eye will recognise the political message that is embedded within this posting, and will know what to do about it on May 5th. Say no more. 'Mum''s the word.

I love the evening sunshine.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005


Oh God no, not that Flanders you fool – what would I want with Belgium? Hell, I’ve been to Antwerp, and let me tell you, ‘hell’ it almost certainly was. That’s where I got talking to a drunk Liverpudlian – can you imagine anything worse?... “Squeaky squeaky slur slur…” It was awful. What I’m talking about, is this Flanders. Say those words with me: “Newsnight Economics Editor”. Can you hear that? That’s violins. Sweet upliftin’ music. Anyway, I have decided. It is she who I will marry. You know, now that Hilary Swank has been blown out. I had considered getting friendly with that Ronaldo boy at Manchester United but I hear that his farts smell like cauliflower, and I’m not having that – Portuguese wonderkid or not. Marriage date: June 2006, assuming no national or international monetary crises.

Elsewhere, Emma – m’ pardner who has often been mentioned here - has found this blog. And the first that she’ll know of my knowing that, is reading this! Hello. As I’m sure they’d say on MTV, you are busted! Let me introduce you to the wonder of statcounter. I mean, searching from that location for ‘Shane Wexford’. And you said that you wouldn’t be interested in reading the blog. That’s one big Chinese burn I owe you. Everyone else, stay out of this - we have our ways…

Heard PM Tony Blair on the radio earlier today, launching the Labour Party manifesto for the forthcoming general election, and like I said before, it’s going to be ok. And do you know why it’s going to be ok? Well, it’s because he’s going to work for - and I quote - “…the many and the few”. Oh lordy lord, can you imagine ever having the confidence in people being so numb of mind that that kind of empty rhetoric would seem to be persuasive? Don’t answer that.

Did I mention that I love some theatre spaces?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


Delia, the house cat, has died. She was an old crock and was no longer able to drag home the birds as she once did. A sad parallel of my dykish Aunt Meryl. Actually, she had whiskers too. Anyway, in her last couple of days Delia even deigned to turn her nose up at the offer of tuna. She was not well. More specifically, in terms of the impact of Delia’s departure, this will be a strange period of adjustment for co-dweller Pete – Delia’s 17 year lifelong food source, and all-round human comfort zone. Marie too, an occasional commenter here, will keenly feel the feline’s absence. There’s has been a decade-long affur of the heart. It was, over the last couple of days, whilst observing and thinking about the chateau’s shift into catlessness, that I worked out – purely for myself – something about cats…

Previously, up until as recently as six months ago, I associated cats with friends who tended to be dotty female 30-somethings who would project much maternal devotion – and rhetoric – onto ‘the cat’. Recently, however, my way of thinking about this kind of thing has changed. Dear reader, brace yourself for an appalling metaphor. The cat is a canvas. The cat affords the keeper – be they dotty 30-something or undotty something else – the opportunity to act and speak as an emotional artist. This kind of thing saves us from yet more blogs with titles such as ‘Maisie’s Crazy Thoughts’ or ‘Freaky Boy’s Weird World’ and the like. It is through the cat that the keeper evidences for him/herself, onlookers, and the cat (or dog or frog or sheep), the desire and ability to form close emotional attachments. And this, can be a very attractive and reassuring thing. Sure, there will be cases of one man’s Joan Miro being the next man’s Jackson Pollock, or vice versa, or neither. But still, I’m the kind of guy who is most comfortable with art that has a function - whatever that function is. I know what I mean.

I said I’d never write about cats. Maybe I haven't.

I love scratching my arse. But only when it’s itchy. Which isn’t often. I should add.

Monday, April 11, 2005


To those people who have landed here as a result of their searching for ‘leak soup’, what you actually ought to be searching for is ‘leek soup’. Yes, that’s right, two ‘e’s. That’s ok. You take care now. Oh, and those of you who are after ‘big tites’, I may be wrong but I think it’s ‘big tits’ that you’re after. That’s ok, you’re welcome too.

In retrospect, that last post – ‘Much’ – ought to have carried a ‘too’ prefix. It was long-winded and littered with bad tips for the grand national (I lost £4). There are not the words to say how sorry I truly am. Prior to bed this evening, I shall give myself a vigorous lashing whilst chanting ‘Editing is a strength, editing is a strength…’

The Week magazine reports that former supermodel and ex-wife of Rodney Stewart, Rachel Hunter, last week postponed the launch of her new range of lingerie. This was 'as a mark of respect for the Pope'. Well, quite. Thank you Rachel.

I’m feeling mischievous. Let me throw a distracting spanner in the works of a few web-surfers…

Bondage, S&M, Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, tits, great big pendulous breasts, boobies, ‘doing it with goats’, naked, sex, rudies, hardcore, soft core, apple core, hot pumping action, H.R.H. Duchess of Cornwall, Swindon.

My work is not yet done, thus I must fly. But understand this: I do respect you. This wasn't just a quick post for me. It meant something. I feel we connected.

Life, y' gotta love it. Really.

Thursday, April 07, 2005


The last two day's PhD-related meetings are captured in the following email response to PhDist chum Nicola:

Nic': Hiya mate,
SW: Hello dear. Before we get into PhD commentary, I'll just say that Stoke's 1-3 defeat to Cardiff the other night was a bit shit - especially though as it was to Cardiff! Stoke's former forward Peter Thorne scored at least once. Other than that, I was glad that Sunderland won a crunch game against Wigan 0-1 - I'd like to see the Wearsiders in the top flight - they have a good comedy manager, and have prettier shirts than Newcastle United - it's a north east fashion thing.
Nic': hope your meetings are going ok?? sounds a bit scary, but you can get this phd malarky finished no worries. (ok, perhaps with a couple of worries, but you can finish it).
SW: Meetings have now gone. Official supervisor was good for not getting angry and abusive at me - though she must be sick of hearing herself say the same thing. Unofficial supervisor was very good: acceptably scary, necessary. We did an audit of the PhD - what was done, what needed to be done, how much time left, what that all means per month and per week. There's more breaking down (no pun intended) to be done, however, that should come as I try to get chunks of work done. This all starts tomorrow! At 7am. Or 8am. Or maybe 9am. But it definitely starts tomorrow. Of that, I am sure.
Nic': Its kind of crunch time for me also, I have to get a lot of work done (ie some chapters finished) by the time I go to [FarFarAway] to have any chance of finishing the phd before [WomanSupe'] leaves. I'm just taking it day by day really, as always, trying to chip away at it. Who knows if i'll get it done.....
SW: I don't remember where [WomanSupe'] is heading for, but then again I don't think I want to know. It gives these academics the impression that they're as important to society as people like Wayne Rooney - which is blatantly not the case.
Nic': thats all for now, have banging headache so i'm calling it quits at uni for today. I'll send you some phd pearls of wisdom when i'm feeling more inspired.
SW: You do that. I'm sure they'll be appreciated. Thank you very much. Am I sounding like a robot? I think I am. Nanoo nanoo. Bleep. Buzz.

So that was that really. The meetings were appreciated and, I feel, useful.

I got a little irked today. Listening to the Jeremy Vine lunch-time discussion, I felt like my brain was being struck at by some of the more profoundly dim-witted of our great nation. I used to experience the same thing during the Radio 5 Live phone-ins for the intellectually retarded. Anyway, talk was about prisoners being given the right to vote. JV was talking with a chap who'd served 25 years for murder. The murderer was trying to justify amendments to the law that would see prisoners being given the right to vote - something that's being pushed from Europe apparently. Domestic political suicide obviously, but there is some Euro pressure we were told. The interviewee did well, clearly not a seasoned radio discussion participant, but he did well nonetheless. JV raised the chap's own criminal past - a very raw thing to do I felt - he'd served his time, and I was guessing that he'd not left prison to return to a life of utter luxury. The attack on the notion of retaining some 'rights' of citizenship into a prison sentence continued online. I had to respond:

The interviewee was right to refer to 'trial by radio' - this was out of order. The fact that he was capable of serving 25 years then stepping out to present what was bound to be an unpopular case as he did on national radio suggests some rare qualities. Yes, some retribution was due for the murder he'd committed, however, consistent with his point, there are examples of penal systems working best where those convicted are treated as human beings who can make a positive difference to themselves and their communities. Removing citizenship based on conviction alone is not ideal; based on individual behaviour and contribution to the social life of the prison community makes much more sense.

As for 'eye for an eye' as one caller put it, with an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and an ignoramus for an ignoramus, there'd be some spectacularly dull offspring out there.

God save us from the moral majority!

The UK's general election is to be held on Thursday 05 May:-

Prime Minister, Tony Blair: "This is the time to keep the progress going, move the country forward and not go back to the failures of the past"
Conservative leader, Michael Howard: " Conservative to support a party that has taken a stand and is committed to action on the issues that matter"
Liberal Democrat leader, Charles Kennedy: "Liberal Democrats want more police on the streets, more quality affordable housing, fairer local taxation, more sustainable green living..."
Green Party Principal Speaker, Keith Taylor: "With us, it is very much a case of planet, people and peace..."

Shane Wexford: "Looks like we'll be alright whatever happens, so let's scrap the election, pick the winner's name from a hat, and have a big party instead". Have emailed this suggestion to Blair and the Queen. Will let you know when replies are forthcoming.

Tips for Saturday's Aintree Grand National:-
£1 each way Clan Royal
£1 each way Strong Resolve
Total stake: £4. Big league!

I'd ignore any hype re Forest Gunner - there's a lot of talk re his jockey being a woman. No disrespect (the foulest expression), but as much as I'm a fan of FG, it'll take more than female genitalia on board for him to win. Soft ground won't suit him (heard Shane on the radio yesterday).

I love the word 'brouhaha'.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005


Met a group of friends last night for talk, Stella Artois and tea. I think it’s a point of fascination for some that I can comfortably drink (not sip!) tea in an evening pub environment. They’re a good group – mostly chaps (the word ‘men’ seems much too butch for my liking) and as a collective they/we create quite a dynamic mix. Good for one another. Of those of them who don’t know me so well (in my view that is), it’s interesting to hear occasional comments that give away impressions that have been formed to date. One chap clearly thinks I know a lot more about a lot of things than I really do. In response to this, and through gritted teeth, I have to proclaim my ignorance – usually of stuff related to aspects of various ‘arts scenes’ (a foul expression). Particularly entertaining is SwearyCynicMan. He has a great guffaw of a laugh, the build of a brick shithouse, and the acid tongue of… of the great acid-tongued sea lizard of Easter Island. I’m toying with asking a few of the cohort to join me in a ‘community project’. Some of them have creative skills – film-making, writing, visual arts – that could be put to good use. However, the 'dilemma' that I’m faced with is summed up as: Do I

a) aim for something that will work towards ‘developing or integrating art-forms’ – art-centred, bit poncy, but may carry clout with ‘lovey’ funders, or,
b) aim for something that is altogether more participative – people-centred, that may carry clout with funders more interested in public participation – which, in my view, they should be.

Either option would yield a public exhibition or performance.

Back on planet earth, got important meetings that are PhD-related later today and tomorrow. Also got a finances-related meeting tomorrow that could prove to be tricky. I sense an emergency Wagon Wheel, earl grey, and chicken and chips kind of an evening coming on.

Was glad to learn that sister Wexford’s football team jaunt to Spain proved to be successful. The only blip being that several of her team’s tournament rivals got arrested for being generally tanked-up raucous Brits abroad – play national anthem. ‘Pride’ is not the word.

I love being a turtle. What?

Monday, April 04, 2005

Fat necks and fat heads

Saturday was a gorgeous day. Emma and young Alex came over to Barton, and following some tadpole-spotting, and lunch in the garden, we headed off to a park here in town that I’d not previously visited. And wow! It was gorgeous. And not just in a green green grass and leafy trees kind of a way. The people – en masse - seemed to have a thoroughly decent air to them – even the steroid-pumped tattooed teenagers who were out parading their ManDogs – ‘This dog - with its fat neck, heavy testicles and square jaw is indeed my idea of beauty. This version of beauty answers to the name of ‘Mike’’. Perhaps the sweetest moment of our visit had been when one of said teenagers excitedly trotted over to young Alex and self as we muddied ourselves in the river. I hauled the boy up such that we could both benefit from an impromptu lesson in the local hand-caught fish stocks - as delivered by our new friend, TattooNeckTeenager. We thanked TNT, and bade him farewell as he returned to his dawgs, and their dogs.

As were so many others, I was appalled by this incident in the weekend’s football match between Newcastle United and Aston Villa. In front of a crowd of 50,000 people, plus a tv audience of millions, a couple of team-mates (each with weekly wages of £40-50,000!) fighting one another as the game continued. I wonder how those kids who’d been present felt when they got home that evening to bedrooms bedecked with posters of their ‘heroes’. ‘Shameful’ does not go far enough. A different BBC article mentions that ‘Northumbria Police are also set to investigate the incident’. If this had been a couple of lager louts scrapping on the Quayside at midnight Saturday, they’d be up in front of magistrates this week. As it’s a couple of the region’s sporting elite, I’m predicting a cop-out, no pun intended.

I love the sound of the sea.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Elspeth: neither Who, nor Bond

Not a trekkie, never will be a trekkie. Nor a moonie. However, on a related theme (trekkies, not moonies), I did catch the first in the new series of Doctor Who last weekend. Young Alex and I shared a hide-behind cushion. Although I had no real recollection of Doctor Who in his previous incarnations, for an hour or so I found the show to be a pleasant enough alien-chasing jape. In the title role, Christopher Ecclestone was well cast, though the direction was a little frantic - causing Ecclestone’s performance to seem unnecessarily hurried. I read yesterday that Ecclestone will not continue as the Doctor beyond one series, even though a second series has been given the green light by the BBC. This all led to an interesting chat between self, Pete and PhDist Nicola about who might play Who in future. Radically, Pete suggested that there was no real reason for the Doctor to remain a vaguely middle-class white male. In fact, Who could be a woman. We agreed that Germaine Greer would be an interesting choice, if a little old and lumpy. Thinking along similar lines, I considered the casting of James Bond, and who I’d select to play the part were 007 to ‘become’ a woman. For that role I first erred towards Alex Kingston (a contender for Who), however, I plumped for Michelle Gomez – dark, Scottish, good actress. It was in discussing all of this that I reached my intellectual peak for the day, and a hell of a lot more use than most days’ intellectual peaks it was too.

Spoke to grandma Elspeth last night. She did not fail to deliver her now trademark toilet remark: ‘…havin’ a bit o’ trouble wi’ my number twos this week’. ‘Ah. Thank you for sharing’ said I. ‘Oh, you’re alright son’ said she. ‘Quite’ thought I.

Hilary Swank has turned down my invitation to join me for the Barton Summer Ball. True, a knock, but I'll bounce back. This puts our future marriage in great great doubt. Ma Wexford will be heartbroken, she was looking forward to having a Hollywood celebrity daughter-in-law.

I love the word 'cooed'.