Monday, February 28, 2005

Werewolf warning

My blog is barely a month old and already my enthusiasm seems to have waned, if the date of my last post is anything to go by. Once a day, that was the plan, once a day. I don't think my muse has deserted me, it's not that I've not had the time, it's just that I've been lazy, as usual. But, something has renewed my excitement in the possibilities of blogging...

Scroll down, look to the right, and regard the current moon phase! How cool is that? I haven't managed to perfect it's appearance, but still, I'm impressed. A blog that's witty (yeah, ok, don't laugh) and educational. What more could you want? No longer do you have to wait until darkness, pray for a clear night, and be bothered to walk as far as the window to know what the moon's doing, because it's all here on bluenettle's blog. I'm a star, I say, a star.

Think of it as a werewolf warning tool... or not, if you prefer.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


I just finished watching Farenheit 9/11, and all I can say is, I'm angry with the world. This isn't the first time that innocent people have died without reason - when will we ever learn that war is not the way to make the world a better place?

After a shaky first hour that, quite frankly, bored me to tears, the film ended up moving me to tears. And that's quite hard to do.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Film euphoria

This evening I joined an online DVD rental club. After the intial euphoria of doing something new and the giddy excitement of picking films, rating films and telling the stupid system No, I don't like that film! Why on earth would you suggest that?, I now have sunk back down to earth (well, my duvet anyway) with the realisation that that's another evening spent being unproductive when I should have been being very very productive indeed.

Still, I must be able to get some blogging mileage out of this. In no particular order, some of the films in my rental queue are: Lolita, Farenheit 9/11, Casablanca, Some like it hot, Being John Malkovich, and The motorcycle diaries. Oooooh, the excitement... who knows which will arrive first?

Friday, February 18, 2005

On the move

I write this from the blue seat of a once shiny red train that doesn't tilt or do anything fancy, but they do give me a power outlet so I can't complain. I even have a pair of seats to myself, thus allowing much leg stretching and coat sprawling. The carriage is hushed in whispers, but thankfully I haven't managed to get stuck in the Quiet Zone, where the tap tap tapping of computer keys, though technically not against the rules, is strictly frowned upon, along with any form of snack rustling, coughing or loud page turning. The carpet around is littered with soggy bits of caramelised onion, which, quite frankly, is making me hungry. It's a good job I brought provisions and ended up in a carriage where I can make as much crinkle crinkle scoff scoff noises as I like.

I think I spoke too soon with regards to the two seats to myself... a menacing throng of commuters are waiting to get on at the station we're pulling into. I may have to unspread my coat and squidge myself up to the window. Here they come... quick seat count... it's too close to judge... most people have found seats further down... oh, someone's coming this way... nope, they're walking past... gone... no one else? No? Ok, what's wrong with me? Do I look like the sort of person you wouldn't want to sit next to on a train? It must be the annoying tap tap tapping I'm doing, suppressed from my ears by the jolly sounds of R.E.M. emanating from my headphones. They don't like that in the Quiet Zone either, even when they can't hear it.

I think it's time to stuff my face with snacks in a loud but dignified manner.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Bounce, bounce

Too many late nights engaged in compulsive but ultimately purposeless surfing have left me with little ability to think and even less to say. So I'm going to go to bed early tonight, rise bright eyed in the morning, and spend tomorrow being lively and bouncy. As lively and bouncy as you're allowed to be in a library anyway... which isn't very, except when it's time for tea and biscuits.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

He shall be Levon

I have a new favourite song. I'm not sure what the old one was, but the new one is Levon by Elton John. I've been listening to it over and over again in a way I haven't obsessed over a song since I was a young teenager. I've been humming it day. I can't get it out of my head. I only wish I knew what on earth it means.

He was born a father to a pawn
on a Christmas day
when the New York Times said God is dead
and the war's begun
Alvin Tostig has a son today

And he shall be Levon
and he shall be a good man...

(No copyright infringement intended: I don't own these lyrics, I didn't write them, but I only wish I had because then I might understand them...)

The thing is, I don't think Levon is a good man, and maybe that's the point. To begin with, he's a greedy little so and so who likes his money and spends his days counting it. His son, Jesus (yes, Jesus), wishes that he could get far, far away from Levon, so far away he hopes to end up on Venus. Poor little Jesus is just a pawn in something that is never explained. The more I think about it, the more I get tangled up in a web of interpretations, none of which make complete sense. Themes of fatherly expectations, religion and the superficial nature of modern society are all getting a bit jumbled. Quite frankly, it makes my head hurt.

The question that raises itself is this: is there only one valid interpretation of these words? Does Bernie Taupin have the monopoly on their meaning? If there is more than one possible meaning is there also more than one actual meaning? Or is the author's intention all that matters? If it is, I don't half wish he'd tell us what it was.

Jesus blows up balloons all day, sits on the porch swing watching them fly...

Monday, February 14, 2005

Guinness heart

I was going to say that I can't let Valentine's day go by without a mention, except that's plainly rubbish. I can mention or not mention whatever I like, because this is my blog. I write it, I own it, and if I don't want to be quite that predictable, then I won't. That's the theory anyway, except now I've already ruined the argument by mentioning it. Who said blogging was easy?

In some random association of thoughts that may make sense to no one, especially me, my above rambling has happily reminded me of the famous incident of the Guinness and the magic eight ball. Fame is relative you understand, but I'm going to tell the story anyway.

When I was a student, I drank a lot of Guinness. It's full of iron, that's my excuse. One day I asked the magic eight ball, "Will I be drinking Guiness in the pub tonight?" and the ball replied, with a hint of arrogance that I really didn't care for, Without a doubt. Without a doubt? Really? I thought, I'll show you, you piece of plastic.

So, I formulated a plan to prove the magic eight ball wrong. I would go into the pub, stride up to the bar and order a fluffy alcopop, something red and sticky and distinctly not Guinness, and I would continue to drink such sweetness all night.

A few hours after hatching my cunning plan the time had come, the pub beckoned, and nothing would stop me. I walked confidently through the door, head my held high, caught the barman's eye through the smokey haze... and he started pouring me a pint of Guinness before I even reached the bar. Alas, I think my reputation may have preceded me.

The moral of this tale is this: Never underestimate the power of the magic eight ball. It knows more than you think.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Funny bookshelves

Yesterday, in an attempt to take this magnolia room a few steps towards being clutter free, I went to a DIY store to buy some bookshelves. Somebody once said that the floor is the biggest shelf in the room, which is happily true, but the dust that accumulates at the lower levels in this house makes it hardly ideal. Besides, I need my floor to provide passage from the bed to the door.

So, I got the bus and entered the store with all intentions of getting back on the bus with a bookcase. I came out of the shop with several plant pots, compost, seeds, planting tools and a shiny metal watering can. Whose idea was it to put garden centres in these places? At least now my ficus is looking very handsome in his glazed ceramic pot, and with a bit of rearranging all my books are on shelves, somehow. Whether the seeds I bought will ever make as far as being sunflowers, sweet peas and ...something else I forget... is another story. But the watering can looks fantastic.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Friday night

Today, I have no inspiration. Finding the words to write this post is like trying to draw blood from a stone. My Friday night brain doesn't want to try, and who am I to make it? So instead of crippling my already tired mind with the effort of formulating actual thoughts and translating those thoughts into coherent sentences, I'm just going to describe. This is what it's like, right now, in this very tiny corner of the universe.

Not suprsingly, it's dark outside. An orange urban glow illuminates dirty streaks on the window panes, rain stained slabs of glass revealing a shiny black world on the other side. A gentle precipitous pitter patter is barely audible above the swish of tyres on the wet tarmac below. Muffled boy racer music rises softly through the damp air, thud thud thudding as the night time traffic pauses at a red light.

It's Friday night. Wake me up when it's morning.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

What the world needs now

Without trying to sound unbelievably corny, I just want to say that there's nothing more precious in this world than love, and to see two people sharing love is to see humanity flourishing in the most beautiful way it knows how. That's why I'm happy to see Charles and Camilla announcing they will marry and be joined in happiness together. That's what the world needs more of, love and happiness. A dedicated couple finally allowed to be together after much heartache and struggle. Or was that Romeo and Juliet?

I have to say, when I saw the news I was practically giddy with excitement. A news story hasn't made me smile so much since they announced world peace, stopped environmental destruction and discovered a cure for hatred, all in one day. Actually, come to think of it, that might have been a dream...

What I'm trying to say is, it's time to stop making judgements and let happiness reign.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


This is Ciaran; he's a bear. He has little to do, except sit, and stare.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

What have I done?

We all need goals in life, something to aim for to keep us reaching forward to the next chapter. So congratulations to Ellen MacArthur, for having ambitions and the guts to acheive them. If you haven't heard, the yachtswoman sailed home yesterday having broken the world record for the fastest solo, non-stop circumnavigation of the globe. She's already got her sights on the next record to smash.

Makes you feel a bit inadequate, doesn't it? So, seeking inspiration, I decided to list my greatest acheivements. Carefully considered, they are as follows:

♠ I've got a first class degree
♣ Philip Schofield once read out a letter I wrote on Going live!
♠ I came fourth in a national poetry competition... twice
♣ I've touched Bryan Adams' arm... did I say that out loud?
♠ I'm a member of Mensa

From this you can conclude that I'm an intelligent poet with questionable taste in music, which is as close or far from the truth as I choose in any given minute. Today, I'm feeling more prosaic.

Monday, February 07, 2005


It's a familiar scene. I'm lounging on my bed, tapping away on the teeny Powerbook that's glued to my knee. Strewn around me are a mobile phone, a debit card, an empty crisp packet and, last but not least, a file and all sorts of bits of paper. Ciaran is hiding under the covers; I don't know what he thinks is going to happen, except I'm about to get productive. To aid me in this mammoth effort are the sweet, musing sounds provided by the folks (no pun intended) at Folk Alley, who may have to be disconnected if they disrupt my concentration.

The path to this evening's productiveness started this lunch time, when I bought a printer. How can I be productive without a printer? So far I've printed out a picture of one of my parents' dogs lying on her back, paws in the air, grinningly aimiably. Now, I know that's not what I bought it for, but what can anyone expect when they put free samples of photographic paper in the box? Really? Besides, I discovered when I came to test the printer out that that's the only paper I have. I'm hardly going to make notes on it.

Besides, I feel like I've acheived something already, managing to print out a 4 x 6 photograph without cutting to poor animal's head or legs off. By the third attempt, anyway...

Sunday, February 06, 2005

It could be real

Photographs are amazing.

If you don't agree, just think about it for a moment. Imagine you've never seen a photograph before; imagine cameras haven't been invented. The only two dimensional representations of the world you have ever had access to are drawings, or paintings - pieces of art composed as much from details from the imagination of the artist as from accurate representations of the real world around them.

Now imagine seeing a photograph for the first time. An accurate, true to life impression of reality captured forever on a piece of paper, like a still window onto a past life. Isn't that amazing?

Except photos have become much more than that. I can use any number of tools, from the powers of composition and imagination to the power of a computer, to make an image be what I want it to be. The photograph above is of water boiling in a pan. I know that's what it is, because I took the photo. I know that the water is in a pan, that the hob the pan is on is green, and that steam from the pan is steaming up the kitchen windows. But there is no pan in the photo, no hob, no kitchen, no rest of the world. Just a pattern of bubbles, turned blue by my mind's eye (with a little help from Gimp). Out of context it has become nothing more than an abstract pattern, beautiful but meaningless. It is no longer a representation of the real. Like a painting or a sculpture, it is as much a work of imagination, whether yours or mine, as a reflection of the world.

If I was a more skilled photographer, I might be making images that mean something, like the holocaust memorial photo I mentioned a while ago, where the composition and context turns accurate representations into something symbolic and meaningful. Maybe I could try.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Look out for puppies

One dark early evening a few weeks ago, I was walking down a narrow street in Oxford, medieval buildings looming tightly over me, when two students ambling along in front caught my attention. They strolled casually, chatting and laughing and making jokes, all in impossibly posh accents which I soon realised were put on for their amusement, and possibly that of everyone around them. What caught my eye was that one had a bright red electric guitar slung over his shoulder for no apparent reason. No case, just the guitar, as though he was about to burst into a rendition of Livin' on a prayer at any moment.

As we walked past a college chapel, I was momentarily distracted by the amazing stained glass window that was illuminated brightly by the light inside. I had never noticed it even existed before, yet now its dazzling colours were unavoidably beautiful. Just as I was thinking this, one of the two lads said the same thing, marvelling that such an attractive sight had previously gone unnoticed. His friend (exaggerated posh accent long gone) replied, "Well, you tend to look at the floor when you walk along, don't you? Otherwise you'd accidentally kick puppies and things." The first one nodded, glancing up briefly at the window before they carried on their way, presumably looking out for small dogs as they went.

This made me smile. There was something about the whole scenario that just made me feel so happy to be in Oxford. Where else would you find people joking loudly but entertainingly whilst walking around medieval streets with cherry stratocasters over their shoulders, contemplating beautfiul stained glass windows as they walk along, being careful not to step on any puppies?

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

It might be a sign

Sometimes, when it seems your computer is doing everything in its power to make everything ten times harder than it needs to be, maybe it's just trying to send you a message.

I was in the middle of composing a post when, distracted by distraction itself, I went away to amuse myself in various other internet fashions. I left my create post window open, knowing it would be anxiously awaiting my return. I spent a little time surfing, then, as the promise of my re-emergence from the cyberspace black hole was about to be fulfilled, I decided to have a little tidy. It was a valiant attempt to clear the vast clutter of windows scattered across my screen and make this computer a calm, relaxing place to be. It all went horribly wrong...

Before I even clicked on the close window button I could see what I was doing, could see but couldn't stop. The Don't!!! message that my brain quickly screamed at my fingertip reached its destination a millisecond too late. There was a brief moment of panic, then I lapsed into resignation, watching my post disappear in slow motion. Gone forever and forgotten by Friday.

What brilliant thoughts were contained in this mysterious post? It was something about not being so lazy anymore, getting stuff done etc etc etc, except in much more eloquent words, of course. Perhaps the failure of those words to get this far was a sign. Maybe I am destined to sit here forever, me and my plant and Ciaran (he's a bear).

Or maybe it was just me being clumsy, which, let's face it, is far more likely. So I won't dwell any more on the was it a sign? theme, because that's just the excuse that a lazy person would use. Excusing the very purple metaphor I'm about to deploy here, the little bud of effort is still trying to blossom in the flower of my mind. Tomorrow, as my lost post opened, will be the day that everything changed and doing things began.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Do I exist?

So, I have another comment, this time in response to my expression of fear over the possibility that the only previous comment I had received was about to disappear from my main page. An obscure fear, I know, but what should we call it? Zerocommentaphobia? Ahhh, I apologise, now I'm descending into nonsensical absurdities, which isn't what my blog is for at all... is it? I might add here that I'm very very tired today... which is nothing to do with staying up until the small hours tweaking my own little blog. Not at all.

Any, I'm rapidly running away from the point, which is that I shouldn't worry about looking popular, because my anonymous commentor (should that be commentator? Ooooh, this could be a whole post in its own right! I'm a librarian, you know...) assures me that it's my blog's power to fill me with joy that counts, not my ability to inspire people to respond. I am, of course, overjoyed to have received such an uplifting remark about blogging, but primarily I'm overjoyed because I have a comment on my main page again.

I think I've hit the crux of the problem here, which is that my blog is only going to fill me with joy if people make comments. I need validation. As much as I try and kid myself that I don't need other people - as much as anybody tries to convince themself of that - we all want people to know we exist.