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.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005



Shane: Don't be ridiculous
Emma: It's true, look (hands over a leaflet) - my Mum went last week
Shane: Oh my- it's true - monkeys... in Stoke-on-Trent! How bizarre
Emma: She said it was good
Shane: So it's a bit... zoo-like, is it?
Emma: No, she wouldn't have liked that - she said that they all seemed happy - climbing trees, swinging about and looking to be generally at ease
Shane: Mm
Emma: So should we?
Shane: What?
Emma: Go
Shane: Where?
Emma: To the monkey park of course
Shane: Ah the monkey park... in Stoke-on-Trent (awkward silence) er-, okay then

Enter Alex

Alex: Mummy, what time are we going to see the monkeys?
Shane: Eh? How come-
Emma: I said we'd go tomorrow didn't I
Alex: Oh yeah - cos Shane is a cheeky monkey and we have to take him to the monkey park (Emma laughs)
Shane: Wha'? Conspiracy! You'd already decided
Emma: No - I simply chose to tell you about what would have been an exciting surprise for you - you're 'inner circle' you are Shane
Shane: Rigggghhhhhhht (not convinced)

Sunday (at the monkey park)...

Shane: Heh look at that one
Alex: Which?
Shane: It's on it's mummy's back - she just crossed the footpath up ahead
Alex: Noooo-
Shane: Yes she did - I saw
Emma: No I think he means-
Shane: There! You can see! She's just stopped by the log - the baby has hopped to the ground
Alex: No Shane
Shane: It did - I saw it
Emma: No - what he means is-
Shane: But-
Alex: Shannnnnnnne, it's not a monkey -
Shane: Mm?
Alex: - it's a baby squirrel!
Shane: What? (looks up) Oh yeahhhh
Alex: See!
Shane: That's what I said - look at that baby squirrel on the monkey's back
Emma: No you didn't
Alex: No you didn't
Shane: (Pause) Yes I did
Alex: SHANE! LOOK - UP THE TREE! (really really loud)
Shane: What? (concerned)
Alex: I can see that one's bum hole! Yuuuuuuk! (bystanders snigger)

Earth does not open up to swallow Emma and Shane.

I love lower league football.

Friday, August 26, 2005


Had a long, deep and incredibly meaningful... chat (d'ohhhhhh!) yesterday evening. Was with old pal Nicola (a PhDist from Far Far Away). She started asking questions that allowed me to pontificate and gently preach. Having asked 'Shane, would you say that you're a liberal?' I explained four categories which had to be considered in response to that question. You see, the popular uses of the terms 'liberal' and 'conservative' frustrate me. Nicola already knew this as I had recently berated her for believing our mutual pal Tom to be - in the 'small c' sense - 'conservative'. Tom is a Tory (Conservative Party supporter) but he is also socially 'and' economically liberal. His friends are religiously, sexually, politically and nationally diverse (there are even one or two of us who he hasn't slept with). Under the influence of Veronica Vodka (a foul she-beast), he once explained to Nicola, self and Ken (hurrah!) the good sense in the lowest paid workers operating outside of the formal and visible (read 'legal') economy. At this time his brother was dealing ecstacy (a phase that he was threatened out of). Tom explains his own being a Tory with the simple line 'I hate paying tax'.

In answer to Nicola I expalined that as I see it, at the level of the individual, we have:-

Social liberalism – Whoever you are and whatever views you hold, I will sit down and listen to you without interrupting. I will hear you and share tea with you without imposing my worldview – local or global.

Economic liberalism – I’m willing to trade and/or accept others' trade that occurs in ways that diverge from what is deemed to be standard economic practice.

Social conservatism – Social change and diversity need to be carefully controlled. There are ways of life that need to be protected and ways of life that need to be guarded against. I will hear you and share tea with you as long as our worldviews are in approximate accordance.

Economic conservatism – Existing forms of trading need to be secured and maintained. Alternative forms of economic activity are undesirable.

My main point was that when we hear reference to a person being 'liberal', I believe this is often a gross simplification and far too often a weakly tested label. Ultimately, I said that Nicola should choose for herself whether she thought I was a liberal, however, I did mention that I'd slash her bike tyres for not knowing me well enough if she deigned me to be broadly conservative.


Now, this may have seemed like a more than usually odd (if not entirely up my own arse) sort of post, however, it was just something that I had to get out of my system.

Bidding you wellness.

I love vanilla milkshake... rock 'n' roll!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Last week I went for an interview in York. It was for a research job. I didn’t get it. At first I was a bit peeved about this but then thought ‘Ah well, heigh ho, some you win and some you lose due to a very foolish statement that you make at the very beginning of the interview’:

Chair of interview panel: Blah blah do feel free to ask any questions as we go blah blah blah so anyway, blah blah blah
Shane: Ah, interesting question blah blah blah blah blah (looks interested, thinks ‘Gosh I really fancy the person who is sat next to the chair of the panel’)
[Repeat 3 times]
Shane: Actually, can I just ask a question?
Chair: Sure
Shane: How is the organization structured in terms of research groupings or units? I’m thinking that with this being a growing organization, staff numbers increasing and you all researching similar subject matter, how are the likely cross-overs in researchers’ projects and expertise managed – what form of line management occurs?
Chair: Well, there are aspirations and there are realities ('Great – a straight-talker' thinks I) blah blah blah blah to what extent that becomes a reality remains to be seen blah blah blah ('Right, sounds a bit… ‘ambitious’' thinks I)
Shane: Right, sounds a bit... ‘ambitious’
(All of panel except Chair look shocked)
(‘Fuck’ thinks I)
(Interview continues and passes without further shocks to the panel)
(Few days later an effusively complimentary ‘Fuck off’ letter arrives)

Dear reader, fear not for Shane, there are other more likely avenues of change being pursued. My point - the idea of my possibly moving up north had been greeted with a reaction of ‘Eeeek’ and then some practical support by Emma – most appreciated that was too. Applying for the job was in part a reflection of my feeling like I was in a work-based rut, the like of which I’ve not experienced for a long time. Any relocation would have probably meant a reduction in the amount of time we spent together and as I noted KT Tunstall saying recently 'This song goes out to all of you who have ever been involved in a long distance relationship... what were you thinking!' Truth be told, it was a price that I was willing to pay. Unto himself, rutsome Shane is not an attractive bunny.

Talking this situ over with a couple of academic-types (supervisors and former colleagues) yesterday, I heard mention of many others who had habitually lived separately (by great distance) from their partners. At this I found myself tending to think 'Yes - but most of those who you mention I had previously assumed to be closet homosexuals - like for like(ish) comparisons please'. As it is, I don't expect there to be any great leap into the deep dark far-off unknown of... well, North Yorkshire or anywhere really. So the Midlands it is - could be worse, could be Cumbernauld.

I love learning that in terms of the use of hair wax you just need to use a tiny amount - not a great big dollop like what I used for my interview in York. D'ohhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Damn my lack of haircraft knowledge, damn it!

Oh, and one more thing, would it be wrong to start painting phone boxes pink... like this one?

Friday, August 19, 2005


Received a pleasant flurry of text messages from chum Green-fingers over in the Potteries - she's not a gardener or anything, she just didn't get to the anti-septic in time. Gentle summer text message reading...

1. Just spotted scratched graffito on bus: Mike loves Lisa and Amy. Found this to be touching.

2. Stoke summer: 3 little kids and a spotty dog running down the hill to the rec, dog turning his head to check they're all keeping up.

3. Overheard in the bakers: 'I'm goin' hospital Mon-dee with my knee'. May have blurted a nanosecond snigger. Received scornful look from cake guardian.

I love the conservative dress code of polite Japanese society.

Sunday, August 14, 2005


I have been blackmailed.

Emma: How's Ken?
Shane: Fine
Emma: You were talking for quite a while the other night
Shane: Yeah, I was telling him that I was gonna kill him off in the blog
Emma: (Laughs) No you weren't (Pause) you weren't were you?
Shane: Yeah
Emma: Why?
Shane: Don't know, fancied writing something a bit different, thought it would be funny
Emma: Well I don't think you should
Shane: Too late, I already did
Emma: Wha-?
Shane: Well, I suppose technically I didn't - Ken was last seen getting in a taxi bound for-
(The phone rings, I look at it)
Emma: Are you gonna get it?
Shane: It's getting late - they can leave a message
Emma: Answer the phone

Shane: (Answers phone) Hello
Ken: You cunt!
Shane: Kenneth! You're alive! (Laughing)
Ken: You sent me to Egypt
Shane: Well we don't know that you actually got there
Ken: -with a 'My First Chemistry Set'
Shane: Yeah, I liked that bit
Ken: You bastard - wait 'til I tell Emma
Shane: She already knows
(Emma eyes me with suspicion, I shake my head and mouth 'It's nothing - just Ken')
(Emma strides towards me, 'Hello' thinks I, she takes the phone from me)

Emma: Ken
Ken: Emma!
Shane: Emma!
Emma: Fuck off murderer!
Shane: Wha-?
(Emma listens as Ken talks)
Emma: Mm (more Ken talk) yeah (still, Ken talks) I know (yet more Ken) I know - he's being a spiteful shit isn't he?
Shane: Hehhhhhhh, give me the phone - he called to speak to me
Emma: Just a minute Ken (places hand over mouthpiece) Can I help you?
Shane: Come on - very funny - now give me the phone
Emma: What's that word?
Shane: (Pause) Please, give me the phone
Emma: No (Ken rambles on) yeah - I'm going to sort it out (Ken again) I know, I think it's the beginning of a God complex - we've got to nip it in the bud
Shane: (Laughing) 'God complex' - excellent!
Emma: Ken, that's great! I will (laughs) yeah - definitely, bye love (hangs up the phone)
Shane: What the fuck are y' doing?
Emma: Hm?
Shane: He called me - he wanted to talk with me
Emma: He did talk with you
Shane: He called me a cunt (Emma laughs) and a bastard
(Emma laughs more, stops laughing, then coldly gives me 'a look')
Shane: What?
Emma: What?
Shane: What's that look?
Emma: What look?
Shane: (Pause) You gave me a look - it was pure evil
Emma: 'Pure evil'! You're ridiculous sometimes (laughs)
Shane: You're cackling
Emma: No I'm not (smiles) (pause) you're to bring Ken back
Shane: What?
Emma: You heard
Shane: Why?
Emma: Because you don't send one of your best friends to Egypt after inferring that he's a terrorist
Shane: (Laughs) Is that what he said?
Emma: If you don't there'll be a price
Shane: (Laughing) What price?
Emma: (Smiles) I don't know... 'a price' (she gives that look again) I'm due on in a couple of days
Shane: (Pause) -and your point is?
Emma: My tits feel... gi-normous (grins)
Shane: (Pause) Mm?
Emma: Oh nothing - doesn't concern you anyway
Shane: Your tits feel bigger?
Emma: Mm
Shane: Here, let me see
Emma: Ah no no no y' don't - you've got to bring back Ken
(Pause) (I look baffled) (Emma smiles)
Shane: Are you-?
Emma: Blackmailing you? Mm, I think I am
Shane: You git!
Emma: (Laughs) Go on - get blogging...

Dear readers, it is with great distress and hundredweights - actually no, thousandweights - of sadness that I have to inform you that Ken is... Ken is back. In fact, what with him being the feckless arse that he most undoubtably is, he hardly even went away. Apparently last week's taxi driver ran the cretin straight to hospital - having rightly spotted that there was something 'not quite right' with our Kenny. Anyway, at the hospital our hero was administered mild sedatives, was allowed a day of rest and recuperation and was then thrown out onto the street whereupon he made his way back to the Kennypad in Holloway. He called me on Friday to relay details of his scrape. The fool.

Thus far (2/24), I love Lost.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


Called Ken on Wednesday evening to say thanks for good hosting last weekend and to mention that his return to this blog in my last post had been welcomed by a commenter (someone who, I should add, has never met him!) and that his thong-related contribution had raised discussion.

Ken: Hello?
Shane: Hello there
Ken: Ah hello, thought it was you
Shane: Why?
Ken: Cos the screen on my phone says ‘Shane’ when you ring
Shane: Technology eh?
Ken: An amazing thing. So what d’ y’ want? Business or pleasure?
Shane: My dear Kenneth, it could only be pleasure with you
Ken: Are you pissed (as in drunk)?
Shane: No no no, just calling to throw pleasantries your way for general hosting and weekend Kennethness
Ken: You are welcome my son, was good to get out on Sunday morning – it’s a long time since I saw a Sunday morning
Shane: Quite. Also, d’ y’ remember that woman at The Holloway?
Ken: Er-, y’ mean ‘Woman’
Shane: Which woman?
Ken: Pretty wee thong thing?
Shane: Yes - well I mentioned in a blog post that she’d inspired our consideration of thongs
Ken: Righhhhhhhht. Is this going somewhere unpleasant?
Shane: No no, far from it – one person even said that they were glad that Ken was back
Ken: Ken was back from where?
Shane: Back in the blog – I think
Ken: Why? What did y’ say about me?
Shane: Very little – just that we’d talked thongs and done a bit of trogging about
Ken: So they like me
Shane: ‘They’? It was one person – just one
Ken: Man or woman?
Shane: Woman
Ken: Attractive?
Shane: Fuck off – what’s that got to do with anything?
Ken: Attractive?
Shane: Don’t know, haven’t seen a picture. Writes well though.
Ken: Mm
Shane: Well I thought it was a nice thing to say
Ken: Mm, so are y’ gonna write some more about me?
Shane: Not for a while
Ken: Why not? Why not give the people what they want?
Shane: Er-, give the ‘person’ what she wants. One person Kenneth, one person
Ken: -and the silent majority
Shane: I’m not sure about that
Ken: Go on, it’s important that we make best use of me
Shane: Whoa whoa whoa – ‘we make best use’? ‘We’? No. The people are not yet ready for a Ken blog
Ken: Shame – would have probably added something
Shane: What d’ y’ mean?
Ken: Y’ know – I don’t mind y’ puttin’ pictures of me on there – y' could sort me out a date or something
Shane: Get lost (pause) In fact, I was thinking of killing you off
Ken: (Laughs)
Shane: It would obviously be a heroic death – desperately trying t’ save a hamster from a burning building or some such
Ken: (Still amused) No, I don’t think we should act too hastily – mine is a rising star
Shane: (Distracted) What’s that noise that I can hear?
Ken: Oh! (Laughs loudly – guffaws even)
Shane: It sounds quite distressing – Kenneth, have you got a woman there?
Ken: It’s er- (background noise fades) it’s Whitney Houston
Shane: What?
Ken: I thought that I’d been watching too many nasty gangsterish films since I got back so I’ve decided that for every violent film that I watch I’ve got to watch one er- kind of love story type of film
Shane: A romance?
Ken: (Pause) Yeah
Shane: (Pause) That’s quite ‘balanced’ of you
Ken: Yeah, that’s what I thought
Shane: Ok, good. Good. So what’s the film?
Ken: Have you seen ‘The Bodyguard’?
Shane: I’m afraid I haven’t Ken…
[We talk on – Ken later acknowledges that in covering not much of the right bottom that thongs can be ‘quite compelling’]

Dear readers, it is with great distress and hundredweights of sadness that I have to inform you that… Ken is no longer with us. In fact, it was quite the most horrific of incidents. You see, I called him on Wednesday and after his gleeful answering of phone, Ken reached for the remote control to his television set. Police later mentioned evidence of his watching a Whitney Houston film. Anyway, upon reaching for the remote from his position of ‘dangerously perched by the open window’, Ken toppled back and fell into a lower flat’s large plantpot installation. Muddied and bruised, Ken lumbered into the street. Confused, he wandered into an adjacent building. There, he collected a child’s edition of this and was last seen hailing a taxi. He is said to have mumbled to the cabbie ‘Heathrow please, I’ve got relatives in Egypt’. Ken leaves behind an incomplete PhD thesis in International Relations.

I loved that man. [Insert tributes here]

Monday, August 08, 2005


Landed at Euston 4:30pm on Friday. By 6:30pm Friday I’d decided that this was not going to be a trip that spiked my interest in living in London. Travelling through the rush hour down to Streatham was enough to tell me this. That said, the seeing of old pals and generality of the weekend was good.

Nancy chum talked of speed-dating. This enthused me. In order to work out what kind of chap she’d be interested in we turned to the Time Out’s personal ads section whereupon I read the ads and she marked (out of 10) her interest in the individual. Following ten random ‘males seeking females’ ads, scores ranged from 2 up to 7. Fairly poor I’d say. So, I quietly threw in a curveball… I read out an ad from the males seeking males section… an instant hit – 8 out of 10! Thus, I pointed out that Nancy would be better off becoming a gay man. At this, she cast me a dirty look – as in unimpressed dirty rather than... er other dirty, yeah anyway…

The theatre trip on Saturday afternoon was excellent. The venue (Kings Head pub, Islington) was fantastic. Capacity looked to be just under 100, was a sell-out. The play was a script, directorial, casting and acting success. Which I guess means a production success. It was especially good to see Sara Crowe (the blond one) evidencing greater range than she would be popularly associated with (having been the face of an 80s/90s ‘soft spread’ product). It was also interesting to just discover this review saying very much the same thing.

Other than that, I bought a gorgeous brown suit (very mature Nick Cave) that I’ve now discovered I can’t afford (very stupid of me) (note to self: do not spend monies that are ‘due’ to go into the account). On Saturday evening we ate at Wagamama in Soho – very good it was too. Here, we met Ken – for the handover of Shane.

Trogged up to Holloway with dearest Ken following a quick scout about Leicester Square. Ken and I discussed matters much more profound than the merits and demerits of speed-dating, we discussed… thongs! We agreed that they are quite chavvish and we concurred with the view that a 20% dip in thong sales should be attributed to this association. Sociological factum: nice middle class girls wear nice big pants.

Reminded of Huw’s review of his walk up to Parliament Hill to check out the table and chair, that is where I deigned we should head on Sunday morning. Breakfast at a café below the hill, and great views atop made for a most contented self. Was good. We later mixed with the masses at The Holloway pub down on Holloway Road. An all very gritty end to my Londoning.

Met with Emma at Euston (she’d been spending the weekend with some hens – that’s farmyard fetishism for y’). There, we jumped on a Virgin. En route to the Midlands, whilst feeling fully relaxed from the weekend, Emma raised talk of the impacts of my likely working away in the coming months. This was a conversation that was at times heavy and awkward and was really the kind of conversation that we needed to be having. ‘Yuk’ and ‘so long’ relaxed weekend vibe.

I love weekend breaks.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


London calls. Will be doing public transport in the directions of Streatham thence Holloway this weekend. Feels like an age and a half since I last ventured into the capital. Is in fact 10 months. I wonder if much has changed since then... Quite looking forward to seeing this. Beyond that, no specific plans other than to meet with a couple of pals.

Wrote a radio play last weekend, as y' do. Also met a chap from the BBC about making a short PhD-related film for him. All exciting.

Went to bed at 2:30am this morning. Was woken at 6am by a 4 year old for whom the first two hours of the day are about plastic sword fights, playing with toy trucks, watching Power Rangers (featuring the very sexy baddy 'Divatox'... I know, I'm bad) and generally beginning his day of educating the masses as only he knows how - 'Er, no Shane, they're not acting - it's real'. Fair to say three and a half hours sleep just isn't enough.

Oh, and I'm looking forward to the new football season, as I imagine are these three bloggers: 1, 2, 3.

I love... the Oasis song 'The Importance of Being Idle'.