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, May 27, 2005


A couple of weeks ago, Tim wrote about coming up with a personal ad' for a friend. Such games enthuse me muchly. Reminded me of an undergraduate class that I took in which an effortfully 'out-there' tutor - a nice chap - asked us to come up with an ad' in less than 25 words. It was a way of getting us to think about language, the individual, society, and a creative way for the out-there one to bag a quick nubile shag. My point - Tim's post reminded me of the horror love-options that are vaunted in the local paper, so out of dark curiosity I had a gander. Therein, I discovered that under each section - male seeking female, female seeking male, et cetera et cetera et cetera et cetera (as is the case these days) - personal advertisers are listed from youngest to oldest. It's like reading through a 'have me' league table - functional, but a bit harsh too. My age-wise erring, in the language of football, is towards mid-table mediocrity. Yes, I'm having a touch of the Kirsty Warks again.

My old pal GayFranglaise (GF) used to dabble with personal ads. On one occasion he recognised a telephone respondent as a writer of whom he'd read - and who he knew used 'experiences of personal ads' as material for his writing. GF did not get back to him. On another occasion, someone wrote a accidental response to an ad of GF. The letter-writing respondent had jotted down GF's 'box number' rather than the box number of the intended... target. That said, the friendly written correspondence that was built with the accidental writer was a warming outcome to the original box number error.

If there's one thing that I cannot tolerate it's intolerance.

Was at the supermarket earlier, I asked an assistant "Do you sell tofu?" She guided me to it then with a straight face said "It's the organic stuff, but it's ok". At this, I smiled a broad smile.

This week, this story provoked a lot of nonsense about teenage pregnancy in the UK. In a BBC Radio 2 phone-in one person suggested that all pregnant teenagers be ordered to abort. Another person suggested that all pregnant and impregnating under-16s face imprisonment. Other people banged on (no pun intended) about that thing called 'education'. And I must say, having listened to such phone-ins I am inclined to agree. The levels of wit, wisdom, big-picture-savvy and social sophistication evidenced by those phone-inners did appall. I say "Educate them, let's contextualise the young pregnancies, and let's look at how early years parenting may be a better alternative to later (tired) years parenting".

If. You. Believe...

Capricorn: The word 'no' does not exist for you this week.
Aquarius: Oil an actor's bicycle tyres, then invite them to break a leg.
Pisces: Book a seagull safari holiday in Whitby.
Leo: Begin this week's confession "Father, I didn't sin this week. Would you like to borrow my Cadfael tapes?"
Virgo: Enquire at your local grocery store about the range of pornography that they'd stock for you.
Libra: Reach out and touch Faith (avoiding charges of sexual harrassment).
Scorpio: Book a cheap flight to Spain.
Sagittarius: Less is more. Reduce your charitable donations.
Aries: Campaign for more teenage pregnancies.
Taurus: Write the opening line of an erotic hit-novel.
Gemini: Beware goat turds and dog cheese.
Cancer: Love thyself. Word of advice: Duracel.

I loved it earlier this week when Emma's son Alex (4), after being told that he could take a piss on the compost heap, and not fully understanding, simply left the house and took a leak on the patio.

Saturday, May 21, 2005


Here at the chateau we had a guest. Young. Very short. Bandana. Yeeesssss, bandana. I found this very hard to come to terms with. Was less Andre Agassi, more a youthful stubbly Bob-Hoskins-type. Guitar god too apparently. Very pretty girlfriend. Plinketty... plonketty... twang... twang-e-roooo-eeee-roooo-eeeee... "hello love you've pulled"... twang... and so on. Quite. Effects pedals eh? Positive correlation between the sale thereof and the number of 'illegitimate' children born into the rural English Midlands? I think so. It's not rocket science.

The USA spends upwards of $15.4 billion per annum on NASA. I wonder what difference $15.4 billion could make to worldwide health, education and economic development programmes. Public spending - it's a messy business don't y' know - social principles, business ethics, economic interests... it's also rocket science.

Partook in my second drama workshop (at posh theatre) on Wednesday. Was good, though sparsely attended: BeardBard, GlamourRuskie, Smiler and self. We talked and did exercises around pieces from 'Our Day Out' and 'Look Back in Anger'. GlamourRuskie invited us to go and see her in concert (piano). Sweet, but will pass.

Most engaging news story of the past week had to be this. Piano man found wandering. Fascinating, sad, spooky, and many other things. The picture that the BBC and many others are now using with this story is not hugely helpful. Other media outlets continue to use a clearer 'walking shot' of the young man. Maybe the shift from walking shot to foetal shot was a consequence of the images being released in that order, and also the likelihood of a response to the heart-rending image of fear. Maybe. I wonder how many people are now working on the screenplay of 'Piano Man', though I'd rather not know.

That George Galloway, a rare breed in modern politics - I admire his head-on style.

You want starry directions? I'll give you starry directions...

Capricorn: Try hard to shake hands with an Aries.
Aquarius: Invite your local MP* round for dinner.
Pisces: Invite your local MP* out for an afternoon of shopping.
Leo: Enact a one-person protest against McDonalds.
Virgo: Enact a one-person protest against Phil Collins.
Libra: Stop. Or you'll go blind.
Scorpio: Tell your oldest relative that you've a new hidden piercing.
Sagittarius: Tell your youngest relative that you've a new hidden piercing.
Aries: Avoid Capricorns - at all costs.
Taurus: Write the opening line of an erotic flop-novel.
Gemini: Wash your mind out with soap and water.
Cancer: It is time to make a commitment to Jesus.

* Member of Parliament, or nearest political equivalent.

All that I'm doing here is trying to make the world a better place.

This coming week, I'll be dreaming here and waking here.


I love the term 'balance of asymmetry'.

Saturday, May 14, 2005


Just returned to the chateau from a work trip up north. Went well. Colleague-wise, OlderArtist had a refreshing easy-to-work-with quality, Emma – who was playing main sidekick – was a woman with ill-timed PMS (though I survived!), SidekickOfOlderArtist was an ill-hidden PainInTheArse – and all because “[partner] and me had a big row* and he went stormin’ off last night”… the night before we all headed north for 24+ hours. Thus, she was unslept and wobbly – a not unreasonable state given the circumstances, but I’m thinking ‘What kind of a twat are you playing with here?’. ‘Storming off’ would have been a very uncool parting gesture. [Dear Reader, Can you tell that I’m erring towards tired, unsexed and grumpy? I wonder whether you can.]

* (rhymes with ‘cow’). An argument.

Radio 2 decide to play ‘Don’t You Forget About Me’ by Simple Minds. A nostalgic watery eye (just the one - the left, always the left) threatens to compromise my imminent effort at being hard and cold and really attractively ruthless. Boll. Ox. Well, let’s just see about that…

This week’s starry directions:-

Capricorn: Suck a ginger person’s toe. Don’t argue, it worked for Fergie.
Aquarius: Lick a toad (that’s not a euphemism for a ‘cheatin’ love-rat’).
Pisces: Bake a cake. You don’t need any ‘tactile’ encouragement.
Leo: Get some Basic Skills training.
Virgo: Tell a good friend that you fancy/fancied their Mum/Dad/both.
Libra: Convince someone with good self-esteem that there’s nothing wrong with them.
Scorpio: Give up shop-lifting.
Sagittarius: Do your bit for the security industry: take up shop-lifting.
Aries: Tell a lie on Friends Reunited.
Taurus: Sell your Man United shares to a man named Malcolm.
Gemini: Report a dirty toe-suckin’ Capricorn to the Toe-Cops.
Cancer: Your body is a temple. Welcome all to it.

I hear that Kenneth Clarke is not ruling out an attempt to run for leadership of the Conservative Party. Let it be noted… I’m not either.

Then a Gwen Stefani song comes on. It’s synthesised Madonna-bland, far from nostalgic, but that Stefani character, she works. It is she that Shane will marry.

Got drama workshop #2 on Wednesday. Should be… on.

I love NY.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


This week, Inspiration suggests it would be wise to follow the stars…

Capricorn: Cook for a friend.
Aquarius: Create some ‘positive graffitti’.
Pisces: Make up a word and use it three times in the next 24 hours.
Leo: Reply to a letter from a newspaper’s letters page.
Virgo: Decide what bird you’d be, were you a member of the Tit family.
Libra: Cook for an enemy.
Scorpio: Buy a goldfish, and give it the name ‘Catherine Zeta-Jones’.
Sagittarius: Try Buddhism, give it another go, or drop it.
Aries: Ignore all advice on days of the week featuring the letter ‘a’.
Taurus: Break a taboo... yes, that one.
Gemini: Go go-karting, or quad-biking.
Cancer: Write a polemic titled ‘Cannibalism: a misunderstood lifestyle choice’.

The weekend was spent in the North East. That included Saturday at a ‘Radio 1 Big Weekend Festival’ in Sunderland. Emma, a non-native, upon first hearing the local accent, remarked “I didn’t understand a word”. I imagine LocalAccent thought ‘That bird in the purple wellies was a bit posh like’. Featuring a largely unmoving musical line-up, radio DJ hosts who took tedium to the extreme and great big downpours, the event passed without really engaging me much. Sister Wexford (provider of free tickets to the event) was glad to publicly beat me on a football shooting game, but later tore strips out of me for throwing an early towel in on the music event (she and a pal had queued for many hours to acquire tickets). My suggestion of “Go out, get drunk and forget about it” did not assuage her. This, I inferred, from her use of the term “Fuck off you dick”. That said, she has now calmed and good relations are restored.

There’s an article here about people’s most cherished memories. In the UK, ‘Child birth’ tops the personal memories list, ‘Live Aid’ (1985) tops the UK memories list, and ‘Berlin Wall’ (1989) tops the world memories list. My choices:-

Personal - Several people and a few places (far too tough to call).
UK – Response to death of Diana, Princess of Wales (1997).
World – Opening night of fire, Gulf War (1991).

NB/ My choices for UK and World memories are not 'cherished'.

Emma’s father – a chap of good social standing – in discussing the recent general election mentioned that he was toying with forming a new political party based on how he felt in relation to those that already existed. His party would be called The Greenish Party. What a man.

I love Old Cool.

Friday, May 06, 2005


The most recent search terms that led various folk to 'SHANE' (last time I'll do this, barring serious oddment):-

dhilia (USA) / leak soup ("hooray!") (USA) / shahida mini (Pak.) / greer elspeth (Neth.) / big tites ("hooray!") (USA, Iran, Egy.) / picture hard core woman wexford sex (Ire.) / jo harrison (many variations) (UK, Bel., Can., Ita.) / marie british big tits -kerry (UK) / shane tits (USA) / caroline wyatt transsexual (UK) / bg-mama (Den.) / humanyms (Can.) / politicians' three-part lists (UK) / uttoxeter porn (UK) / organ sales thesis (USA) / cunnulingus (Ger.)

All genuine. Suggestive of a political gap in the porn market? Anyone for a topless Tony Blair?

On Tuesday, after his bath, Emma's son Alex asked "What's this called?" whilst pointing at his scrotal sack. He was advised to "Go and ask Shane", so he did. I gave him a factually accurate response, explaining what the future contents of the sack would be. We then made up a song called ''Testicles Bespectacles". His mum was amused.

And so it passed, the UK re-elected the Labour Party to form its government. A few words on that... "no surprises there".

A few more...

Labour - will be interesting to follow in-house pressure on Blair(*)
Tories - evidence of their ill-defined politics of fear being listened to *shudder*
Lib Dems - haven't done enough to secure domestic image of '3-party democracy'
UKIP/Veritas - always welcome for splitting the far right vote
Green - anonymous... though their candidates donned handsome sweaters
BNP - another far-right splitter, averaged 5% of the vote in seats contested

(*) Gene suggests Gordy Brown to be installed by August. I'd be surprised if it were so soon. Tory leadership interesting - Howard stepping down: David Davis or Oliver Letwin to guide serious Tory revival. Likely overshadowing of the far-too-steady Lib Dem progress - not to mention Venus crossing Uranus - suggests it's time to turn to Matthew Taylor or Simon Hughes.

It's my soap opera and it's only on once every four or so years.

"He who sets foot on wet land... gets wet foot" (Xiao Dung Flung, Chinese Agriculturalist)

So a "young fogey" instals Haloscan and it eats all of his old comments. "Bollocks!" he cries out. But then he finds out that if you uninstal Haloscan - a mere 87 hours of techy irritation no doubt - then the old comments are returned. Politics of ransom.

Weekly wisdom:-

Capricorn: Do not listen to Cher.
Aquarius: Form an inner-city fox-hunt club.
Pisces: Ask a non hat-wearer "Where did you get that hat from?"
Leo: Urinate in public.
Virgo: Consider going into Wrestling promotion.
Libra: Decide what you'd be called if you were a wrestler.
Scorpio: Put out... the wheelie-bin a day early.
Sagittarius: Flirt.
Aries: Use a water pistol.
Taurus: Write a haiku titled 'Unzip'.
Gemini: Ignore a friend's food allergy.
Cancer: Use the phrase "Armed with a brain and not afraid to use it".

Henceforth, Shane will be posting weekly (Mondays, where possible).

I love carpets of fallen blossom.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


Advice* for all...

Capricorn: Plan to eat out (Geordies, note: this does not mean 'eat owt'**).
Aquarius: Place a bet with a friend.
Pisces: Visit a chiropodist, but don't book an appointment.
Leo: Eat more vegetables.
Virgo: Apply to go on a reality TV show.
Libra: Streak at a charity lunch.
Scorpio: Buy flowers for a man.
Sagittarius: Get a hair cut.
Aries: Play a vinyl record backwards, then make a cup of tea.
Taurus: Sing a song as you wait for a bus.
Gemini: Drop a pack of condoms into a stranger's trolley.
Cancer: Look up the capital of Malawi.

* Best before 07.05.05
** owt = anything [slang, North East England (especially Newcastle-upon-Tyne/Gateshead)]

Expecting a response along the lines of “I love my work” or “Not knowing what surprises lie ahead”, I asked co-dweller Marie “What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?” The answer: “Toilet”. Asked if he would be watching the TV coverage of the election results, following a long pause, co-dweller Pete replied “Peeping from behind a cushion from behind the couch, I might”. Them is stars.

Most ignorant election-coverage vox-pop whine (heard approximately 84 times in the last 3 days): "I think they're all the same".

Last night, a Radio 5 Live football commentator mused: “He was almost through there – had the trap-door slammed shut in his face”. This is an example of why I want to hear the main UK political parties’ views on football commentators’ metaphorising. Trap-doors are normally on the ground. To have one shut in the face implies that its bearer was hurtling towards the ground head-first. And let me tell you something, no West Bromwich Albion forward has moved that dramatically this season. Football commentators: do not metaphorise.

Tim will win The Apprentice tomorrow evening (Weds). If he doesn’t, then I’ll eat next door’s cat. On Thursday, Labour will win the UK general election. If they don't, then I'll eat the cat's hat.

I love Liff.

Sunday, May 01, 2005


Spent a useful* and largely good weekend with Emma. Shortly before parting from her, a sour taste was left in my mouth (nothing to do with her though)...

The BBC carried the story of the Staffordshire South election candidate, Jo Harrison, having died following an unspecified illness. Note the remarks from Sir Patrick...

...Harrison polled in third when she contested the seat in the 2001 General Election, winning 4,891 votes. The MP elected then, Conservative Sir Patrick Cormack, gained a majority of 6,881 votes over the second place Labour candidate.

Sir Patrick paid tribute to Ms Harrison saying: "I am obviously extremely distressed at the death of my Liberal Democrat opponent, and very sorry indeed that I am not going to be in a position to return to Westminster on 11 May, but we will be doing everything possible to ensure we come back at the by-election." ['What a twat' thought I.]

Standing Labour candidate, Penny Barber, added: "It is a huge shock and a terrible shame. Our thoughts go out to her family and friends." ['That's more like it' thought I.]

After passing my driving test at the age of 18 I was, for at least a few months, a far from convincing 'driver'. During these months I'd occasionally give Ma Wexford and Grandma Elspeth a lift to the local shops. Much clutching at dashboard and general screeching came forth from these passengers. Having seen me undertake a reverse manoeuvre upon departing from her home one day, Elspeth later remarked "You know Shane, you did well getting out of that small space and around the corner - I think you might be better at driving backwards". 'Hmmm, a tad impractical' thought I.

* = For the first time since our getting together Emma and I have had a 'serious chat' borne of not entirely positive observations of one another. The present situ is such that we are working together and spending time together 'as a couple' (foul phrase), each on a part-time basis. There has been some tension around how and when we do 'work talk' and around how we do 'us'. Consideration of Alex (Emma's son) and Ed (Alex's father) does not inhibit how well we get on, though it does call for some planning ahead - not a problem. It is fair to say that Emma and I have opened a dialogue re 'communication issues'**. This has made me wonder about the amount of 'work' that I/we should expect to put into a relationship, and equally, how much it is reasonable to do so. Previously, I believe that I have exercised both extremes - 'too much' (a good recipe for ensuring the later need for legal services to help 'get rid') and 'too little' (dubious snap decision to end something in a no-going-back kind of way).***

Here at the chateau, our fridge bears the short magnetic-poetry phrase "work hard, don't learn". Exclamation mark.

** = I was recently asked if this is how I talk when I'm 'down the pub'. It is not.
*** = Previously, I proclaimed that Emma had found the Shane Wexford blog. About this, I am convinced that I was wrong. About this, I feel like a bit of a dick.

I love you. Would it be wrong to wonder what that meant?