April 29th, 2010

I deny you the Nidus!

1. For those who didn't browse having followed the link, here is the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre doing the final David Tennant Dr. Who (part 1 of 3) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nejitqf2L20
or just go to the 3rd episode which contains the very catchy song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOJdUIP1XBk

2. As you may have seen, we had our trip to Lahndahn for the London Marathon. We stayed in the Travelodge Tower Bridge which was just round the corner from Tower Hill and Tower Gateway stations. On the way to London a row or two behind us a very worked up mother was trying to get her children to read a story book ('blend it, if you don't know what the word is, blend it, I'm losing patience, you're being very naughty you'll have to read it to Daddy, blend the words, you should have only taken five minutes to read it, d-ra-gon, dragon, blend it OR I'LL BREAK YOUR F***KING LEGS [OK, that last bit was an exaggeration]'). Very hard not to burst out laughing, we certainly exchanged looks with an old lady on the train. Not quite to the standard of (a) the blow by blow (as it were) account of someone getting back together with an old boyfriend on the New York to Trenton train or (b) irksome entitled mother on train complaining how fair it was her daughter had been suspended from school ('the racist thing' was mentioned at one point). I deliberately didn't look in her direction when we got off, but I am told the children were both quite young rather than the 10 year olds one might have expected from overhearing.
We had to go to the rather grim ExCeL to get t__m__i's number and chip via the DLR (not the Dynamic Language Runtime). We had food there, the inevitable pasta. Obviously now Virgin has taken over as sponsor everything was very red, think I would have preferred margarine.
On Saturday we took it easy, making a foray out to Chinatown where we had a Japanese Bento box. We read and watched Dr. Who.
On Sunday I escorted t__m__i to London Bridge station - other runners with their red kit bags seemed to be setting off in other strange directions, but t__m__i took the train. Then I went back and had a shower and then met Mr vicarage at Canada Water. We missed t__m__i there, but saw the front runners go past, though you couldn't really see them because of all the pacers. Thanks to vicarage's navigation we managed to get to another tube station as Canada Water was shut due to the crush of people. We got to Canary Wharf in time to see a retreating hamster, then managed to find out way round to see her at the only point where she saw us. We saw her again as we crossed the road by the Embankment but she didn't see us.
At the end we met up with RG WINOLJ who was cutting a swathe through the dense crowds with his bicycle with scythes on the wheels (OK I am lying about the scythes), then we met up with t__m__i who had found assorted vegans and then found imaginary internet friends. Amusingly, whilst vicarage and I were waiting for RG we were waiting by some red phone boxes which, despite there being enormous crowds round were completely empty (when I were a lad there were these red boxes which had telephones in, and when I were a younger lad they had these big boxes with the list of everyone's names so you could find the number to ring).
After this we went back to the hotel and vicarage and I had a drink in the nearby pub whilst t__m__i showered and changed, then vicarage departed and we went to the same Japanese restaurant with senior nephew and niece.
It was good to have Mr vicarage along. I think the layout of the London course, the fact that it has lots of supporters and that quite a lot of it goes round Docklands which is not overendowed with public transport explains why other places I have done the zipping round (Berlin, Hamburg, Helsinki) have had nothing in the way of crushes of people that London had. Also, of course, the German cities have big wide boulevards having been, er, extensively remodelled, shall we say, last century.

3. Other random London thoughts:
a. Why do Oyster cards need to be swiped so near the terminals, other RFIDs have more range. Maybe they are cheap, or maybe it is to avoid chances of false swipings?
b. In the old days, tube lines used to be put on the maps ages before they opened as being under construction, but there was no sign on the maps of the East London Line opening again, and the new bit of the DLR which is due this summer. I suppose that the Overground and the DLR are slightly different in some respect from 'normal' tube lines, but even so...
c. No doubt someone can come up with some figures to suggest this is all perfectly reasonable, but it does irk me the enormous public expenditure on transport infrastructure that London gets.

4. Books:
a. A book of Charlie Brooker TV reviews and other Guardian bits. Not improved by being stuffed together. Also, having reread a Victor Lewis-Smith book of reviews, I have to say I preferred the latter.
b. Changing Planes, Ursula K Penguin. I am not a great fan of late Le Guin (late basically meaning after The Dispossessed), but this was rather good. The conceit is that you can travel between planes at airports (do you see what she did there?) due to the discomfort, irk etc. The pieces vary between stories and descriptions of imaginary worlds. There are one or two places where the 'capitalism is bad m'kay?' dominates.
c. And Then There Was No One, Gilbert Adair. A pomo detective story. Adair was the 'translator' into English of La disparition and wrote the only semi-decent Alice pastiche I have come across (Alice Through The Needle's Eye) though I could be biassed as it contains a hamster. This was rather meh, the main conceit is that Adair as Adair is the narrator and the character from his two previous detective pastiches has come to life (strictly, he based the character on a real person but the real person is behaving as though she has the history of the character). To clarify a point I have made many times, it is irksome bolt-on post-modernism I object to, and the pomoism here is central to the book so nothing to object to here, though it is rather arch.
d. A Big Boy Did It and Ran Away, Christopher Brookmyre (reread). This is one of my favourite Brookmyre's (along with One Fine Day In The Middle Of The Night). Somehow the Jack Parablane ones are like the sort of detective stories that never hit the long term memory. I think this is the last really good Brookmyre, sadly. The university career of the main protagonist suffers slightly from being adolescent wank-fantasy stroke (as it were) what I would like to have happened at college. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing but a tiny bit icky.

5. Is that the time?

6. We were planning to go away somewhere for a night but failed to quite motivate ourselves (also weasel's third law applies 'if you go somewhere with large dogs, when you get there you have large dogs with you') so we went to the Rollright Stones then had a bit of a drive round bucolic Cotswold villages, and had some chips. Then went into Oxford to find that the place we wanted to eat and the backup place had stopped serving food, so went to the Rice Box and had some soup. Soupppp of the evening, beautiful soup.

7. I discovered that the car MOT expires rather earlier in May than I though. D'oh.