CHILLICHEESE blog

Track Days 2010July 14, 2011. 14:14
aloneApril 2010. Couldn't resist taking the cute movistar Honda CBR600rr home with me so better put it to good use. Got myself lined up with a lift from Johnny and Janey in their proper big transit van and off to Brands Hatch we went. Shakey start of course but by lunch I'd managed to get Keith jumping up and down on the pit wall with excietment as he saw me go through Graham Hill bend without sitting up 'like a policeman'. Lap times tumbled as the afternoon wore on and got just under 1:10 by the end. Good for me but the superbike boys fail to qualify over 47 secs. Another 3 trips to Brands during the year, and by the end I'm still in the Novice group but overtaking healthily and still improving every time.



Tokyo Day FiveJune 02, 2009. 13:22




Tokyo Day FourMay 23, 2008. 11:55




Tokyo Day ThreeMay 22, 2008. 11:54




Tokyo Day TwoMay 21, 2008. 11:51




Tokyo Day OneMay 20, 2008. 11:49




LaDy ServiceApril 30, 2008. 13:22
Still cats and dogs but once breakfasted it's out on the well worn Brighton to Guildford route.  After 20 minutes of careful filtering past the dog end of Brighton rush hour we're out on the open road.  This is take your chance territory.  Overtaking possibilities present themselves fleetingly and have to be pounced on or left well alone.  LaDy performs faultlessly of course, raising her voice to an operatic crescendo when the peak torque rev line is crossed.  The singing slingshot overtake is just fantastic and presents the rider with a clear road ahead and defeated traffic mere dots in the mirror.  I'm still a long way off being able to do that round bends though, for the moment, the cars are faster there which is tragic but true.
Just about make it on time to Vines BMW @ Guildford and LaDy's booked in for surger.  I'm assured she'll be treated well but she looks so little next to the 1200GS go anywhere camels that I feel for her inadequacies.  Well, what I actually feel is an overwhelming urge to buy a bigger bike!  Must fight it.  Must wait.  Just the thought of getting on one of those big beasties is enough to make me grin though.  Plenty of time to browse the range as the service takes for ever but eventually I'm reunited with her and we're off back doing overtaking practice down the 281.
After servicing she's even better and I'm able to get more performance out of the 'little' 800.  On Song is the best way I can describe that 60-80 power surge, Sweeeeet.



Washed OutApril 29, 2008. 15:11
Looking forward to going on a mini ride but the signs in the sky were not encouraging as I neared Brighton on the after work express. Still, us bikers aren't known for our sanity so I still popped up to the rendezvous. No takers of course, you'd have to be raving to go out in this, and not in a good way. Enjoyed my little trip anyway, just the sound of the 800cc twin ticking over makes me smile even if it is a touch agricultural. Hardcore filtering in dense traffic was the lesson for today. I'm improving, didn;t stall once and no nearly-dropped-it moments. I make that a good day. Result !



Sunshine CoastingApril 27, 2008. 15:11
Decide to follow the route of last weekend's breakfast run.  Get it a bit wrong through Lewes but pick up the trail on the other side of the tunnel.  On to Ringmer and over to Blackboys.  Consider heading to Eastbourne but that's too close.  Ah, Bexhill is signposted, OK, why not ?  It's a long-ish run but after a while I'm glimpsing the sea ahead and soon enough I'm at the De La Warr pavilion and cruising the Bexhill riviera.  The Amalfi coast it ain't but English seaside it sure is.  Stop for a terrible coffee and sit on the prom watching the sun glint off the greeney channel.  Home.  Back aboard the autobahn stormer and trundling along the wrong side of the railway tracks thoroughly enjoying the empty roads that don't go nowhere.  Eventually ease back into busy land via Pevensey Bay (big bike shop there, must check it out).  On to Eastbourne, back over Beachy Head, stop in the car park to admire a 1200GS, hmm, maybe one day.  Back home along the super quick A27 again and it's been my longest and possibly best ride yet.  Perfect weather, good roads, minimal traffic, no dramas.  All good.




evening rideoutApril 24, 2008. 16:16
  Rendez-vous at chez Monsieur B to do a little DIY in the headlamp so I can go and play with the Nortonites.  We're early so it's an apprehensive half hour watching the weather and waiting while the convoy collection grows and grows ending up with a highly respectable count of 14 bikes and 15 riders.  A lot of fast machines but also the traditional glut of ER-6's and even a brave lad on his XT125X, just like mine but orange and somehow quicker for it.  Michael 'Superman' leads us off and it's all good clean fun, well until we get to the Steyning/Ashurst road, then it's full on keep up if you can.  I can't.  The S bends are deceptive, starting OK but getting progressively tighter, the speed out of one being too much for the entry into the next.  After a few of those I have to ease off to stop myself crossing the double white lines protecting me from on-coming traffic.  We make it to the Cowfold X roads all still together and it's off from there on a mystery tour through towns and villages, tiny lanes, slippery shitty conditions but all great fun of course.  The last section is high speed up hill sweeping bends but I'm as yet unable to make full use of them due to the total unfamiliarity of the road.  Will be better next time !

The cafe's shut when we get to Bury Hill so it's a quick breather before blasting back along the A27 at some pace.  I'm loving that 6th gear overtaking acceleration already and I still haven't been near max throttle.  More to come ...



Time for LunchApril 22, 2008. 10:36
playtime  Right, lunch it is, hastily pull on bike gear and race up to Devil's Dyke to meet Monsieur B but we don't hang about to admire the view.  Up and over the golf course, down towards Hassocks, sharp right to take in the roller coaster of New Road and on through Ditchling and the Wetmeston bends.  Turn off at the Half Moon and we're on the way to Plumpton, then Haywards Heath, Cuckfield and back again.  A super fast super twisty ride out and I'm finally feeling at one with the bike.  No dramas although I think I dumped the clutch once and canceling the indicator with right thumb is a tricky combination when you're trying to apply gentle throttle at the same time, not one of BMW's finest design desicions.  Most of all though I'm still loving the rumble of my transit-van-like 800 but Mr B's GSXR is in a whole different audio world.  You can hear that exhaust above 6 lanes of traffic with an 80 mph headwind !
Back home and back to work for the afternoon but just can't wait to get out again.




Breakfast TimeApril 19, 2008. 20:03
forest  A 9am meetup back at the LF training ground and there's a good gathering already.  Skippy leading, 2 up on the GPZ and tigerbri backing up and relaxing on the VN classic, the pace is pretty quick straight out of the car park.  Once we hit the open road though it's all quite comfortable and even at speed on the dual carriageway it feels pretty safe being surrounded by bikes and protected from the cars.  As we approach Lancing we're covering both lanes and making good progress.  Onwards to Lewes and the Cuilfail Tunnel echoes to the resonant frequency of a bunch of aftermarket exhausts but you can still hear nuttbusta's Kwaka 750 above the rest.  That lad loves his new rude cans.
A quick stop to pick up the more easterly dwellers and off on the excellent straights through Ringmer towards Heathfield.  Some excellent twisties and a few fast stretches later and we're pulling up at Wessons.  Hilarious place, traditional cafe housed in a bike shop, ideal for our purposes.  There's continual engine song as more and more Sunday bikers turn up on their various exotica, there's a lot of chrome polishing going on in the garages of Sussex during the rest of the week I reckon.
Following a hot unhealthy breakfast we're off again and this time it's the scenic route via Eastbourne to Beachy Head.  Up and down the serious bendys would be hard work but LaDy behaves herself perfectly of course, no sweat for her (or me).  Coming down the other side of Seven Sisters is even tighter in places but before long we're into and out of Newhaven and blasting along the A27 heading west this time.  Now the sedate pace from this morning is abandoned and it's full on progressive, if not spirited at times which means I finally get to hear what LaDy sounds like punching up from 4k to 6k rpm in 6th gear.  A chorus of strangled angels is as close as I can get to a textual description.  Kind of a scream but it's also singing.  The bike really comes alive at these revs as it turns from tourer into sport mode, everything's lighter and sharper and there seems no end to the pulling power.  It's only my fear of impossibly illegal speed violations and an inabilty to hang on which limits the acceleration.
Even when I'm pootling back homewards at the end of the journey, I keep wanting to carry on, go a bit of a longer way round, just stay out for a little bit more.  A working week is looming but who cares?  I can still play in the evening thanks to BST.  Can't wait !



B(MW) dayApril 19, 2008. 10:11
ring   Can't sleep.  Get up far too early.  Quick breakfast, hurried cos I just want to go.  And off for maybe the last time struggling along the A27 to Worthing.  Get to Mister B's and it's the shortest of van rides round the corner to pick up the new LaDy.  Sharon lets me have a quick run round the block before we sort out the paperwork and just that small circuit around Durrington is enough to fix an instant grin.  For such a big bike everything operates so light and smoothly.  Gentle roll into 2nd gear, clutch engages with no bite, no drama, just smooth, progressive power transfer.  Overtake a bus and there's a tiny stretch of open road.  3rd gear, a little twist of right arm and the torque kicks in accelerating us to er, 60 ish instantly (sure that's the speed limit around here !).  Rumble back to her old home and complete the final handover.  It's a bit emotional for all of us so better to be quick and get on.  Luggage all strapped and fastened and it's time to head off for real.  Oh so nervous slow start, give way at the end, foot down, stop, start, all ok so far.  Roll into the petrol station and hit the first drama.  Queue of Saturday traffic building up behind me, temperatures rising and can I find neutral?, no, not until I've given up and heading off out again, then it slots in no problem.  Ah, right, got it, need the clutch fully engaged to get that little nudge between 1 and 2 to fall into 'N'.  OK, next petrol station it is then.  Fortunately I know 'em all round here as it's my DAS training route so no problems finding the Shell next to the test centre.  Fill it all the way for 15 quid and the range indicator goes to >132 as the computer can't measure the top of the tank, then it's back to Mr B's for a proper test ride.  The weather's getting worse but do we care ?, no, we do not.  I'm in front to slow the pace and we're off in generally the wrong direction but we make it out to the Long Furlong and up in to the Sussex wilds, then back over Devil's Dyke before hitting the A27 for high speed manoevures.  The Southwick tunnel is a bit busy for proper loudness but Mr B's Gixxer makes its presence felt !  Back to his to swap over bits from the little pony to LaDy and another trip down the A27 for me and back to Brighton.  I've done this trip so much on the 125 and on the ER6 in training but this time it's completely different.  Outside lane not inside, 80mph to 90, not 30 to 40 to 55 maybe, 6th gear not 5th.  Doesn't take long to get home.  Quick stop for showing off purposes then it's time to park up.  What A Day !  The last 2 months have been all about getting to this point and it's no anti-climax.  I'm buzzing, totally hyped, itching to get out again and find some more tarmac to abuse.  Won't have to wait long, tomorrow is breakfast ride-out with the Norton biker boys and girls.  Watch out Worthing, here I come again.



More ShoppingApril 12, 2008. 09:04
soon   Blatt over to Worthing to pick up my consultant in all things motoring and we're off in a mini 125 convoy to Littlehampton Honda shop.  To look at Yamahas, obviously !  As usual, nothing goes to plan, up pops the Honda CBF 600.   Absolutely made for my needs.  Looks great, feels great, well spec'd, slightly cheaper than the competition and with the Honda badge of reliablity and no surprises.
But, with my 1 week old license they won't be letting me out on it so if I want to try it I'd have to go back to Gatwick.  No time, not as I've already arranged to see the BMW this afternoon.
Another blast round and back to Durrington, then off up the road to Bury Hill and back down the A27 before heading up to see the gorgeous F800ST.  In my excitement I'm a bit early but Sharon is ready to show it off.  WOW, it's even more impressive in the reality than in the mighty fine photos already adorning my PC desktop.  Once I've thrown my leg over and I'm holding the machine balanced perfectly by the wide bars, the mental negotiations are all but over.  This thing is fantastic, makes all the others seem so basic, barely average by comparrison.  Turn the key and the diagnostics go through their script and the computer tells me all is well, at least for the next 43 miles when some refreshment of the fuel tank will be required..  Hit the starter with no throttle and it's instant grins as the smooth motor wakes up with a burbling growl rather than a harsh roar.  Oh dear, I'm smitten.  I'm half listening to the current owner as she explains more of the extras that have been lavished on this lovely but internally I'm just failing to come up with reasons not to buy it.  I give in pretty quickly and agree a price, sign the cheque and arrange pick up once the funds have cleared and insurance is in place.  I've just bought a big motorbike.  The next adventure starts here.




Gone ShoppinApril 05, 2008. 11:05
Too excited to stay in bed, up by 8am, far too early.  A traditional breakfast in an awakening Sydney St. then off to Mister B's to get in the van and navigate (mostly badly) to P&H at Gatwick.  The breadth of selection is dizzying, really.  We wander round like children in a sweet shop the size of which they never knew existed.  To business, and over to the Yamaha section.  Somehow the Fazer S2 looks huge parked so close to its even bigger brothers.  The MT-01 is just silly size.  Over to the KTMs and the fantasy RC8s look like storm troopers deressed in their stealth white armour.  A short break for clothing purchases (summer gloves, a little optimistic perhaps but they fit so I'm happy).  A quick sit on the Kawasaki Versys but it's a bit of a big girl's shopping bike.  Almost missed the Honda showroom as it's separated up the road.  Turned back and very glad we did.  The new model Transalp is waiting for me outside.  Quickly arrange a test drive and off we go.  It's my first time on a Faired bike so it's disconcerting that the instruments stay still while the front wheel turns.  Get over that and pootle round the industrial estate for a while then find a way out onto the country roads.  That's more like it.  No idea what gears to use when so try 'em all.  30-70 in 4th is excellent and even with just 60bhp you still have to hang on quite tight.  Up and down a few more circuits before returning to the dealer, grinning.  I'd buy one straight away but I'm going to make myself try the Fazer, the Kawasaki Z750 and of course the BMW F800ST.
The Honda's so easy, so comfortable, would I just get bored.  Maybe, but that V-twin is a beauty.  Very, Very tempted ...



Fully LicensedApril 04, 2008. 19:24
After another sleepless week, the fateful Friday finally arrives.  A nervous start at the training centre but a quick refresher with poo-scale Pete gets both me and the bike warmed up nicely.  Shakey wait in the test centre watching the clock tick round to 10:24 when Mr Examiner walks calmly in and takes me to his little room.  Fits me with the radio kit and we're off back down the stairs, out the back, into the car park for a nice east eye test.  Can't believe I've actually been sweating about the eye test, how many of those have I had ??  Equally easy tyre and brake questions done and it's time to show him what I can do.  Head out of the entrance, forget to signal, remember to signal, stall the engine !, right, get on with it.  Round the houses, stop, start, U-turn, emergency stop, all OK.  Pull out a bit too quick on one junction and run a bit wide, just once though, did I get away with it, really don't know - oh well, let's just get this over with.  Out on the open road and I'm much happier.  Clock all the speed limits, nicely up to each one no problem.  Now we're on my favourite road in the aream the Long Furlong, this isn't testing, this is just having fun.  Up to 60, no problem, on to the A27 slip road and push it straight to 70 - Arrrrgh !! White van doing 50 in front of me ! do I overtake?, well yes, have to 'make progress'.  Of course, as soon as I start to pass, Mr Whitevan decides to accelerate.  He's doing 65, I'm doing 67, 68, still 68 and I'm oh so slowly easing past.  The examiner is stuck behind anyway so not sure if he could tell what speed I was doing but I know I'm still legal, just.  After that mini drama it's back to the test centre.  Park up, follow the man in for the slow climb up the stairs.  Sneak a peak at the clipboard, no forest of black marks, think I've done OK.  Back into the tiny room for the magc words "You'll be pleased to know you've passed ...."
Y E S
Y E S
Y E S

My head's rushing now like a redbull teenager.  Back on the ER-6 for the best ride yet back to Norton, revving it properly now and giving it some decent speed, shouting into my crash helmet all the way.  Quite simply, the happiest I've been for 21 years, almost to the day in 1987 when I last passed a driving test.  Watch out world, I'm fully licensed and equipped for bike shopping....



In TrainingMarch 30, 2008. 18:03
So, the DAS it is then.  Preparations began for the assault on the full test leading to purchasing a proper big bike and an end to leaning over the bars to squeeze up to 55 mph in a headwind or up a slight gradient.  First step, the theory test.  A whole week of preparation for a 40 minute mixture of scarily easy multiple choice questions and a few pretty obvious hazard perception videos.  Navigating to the test centre in Worthing was actually more taxing than the test itself.  Then again, it's better then the old method of the examiner flashing a few road signs before patting you on the back and sending you off clueless but roadworthy.  Now I know when I can't use my horn in a built up area which will come in useful if I ever remember where the button is without looking down for it first.  So, pass certificate in hand, I'm able to book some big bike training and the practical test.  Now I'm proper nervous like nothing I've experienced since 1987.  Finally the first day of training arrives and we're out on the road on our little bikes first just to concentrate on the highly complex set of observations required at every turn of the wheel.  Mirror, Mirror, Blindspot, signal, close the door, blindspot, go round the corner, mirror, cancel signal, accelerate, something like that anyway.  Even worse when it comes to speed limits, observations and a touch of the brake lever for slowing down, checks before speeding up, watch for the signs, don't go over the limit but don't go too slow !  Not easy.  If I fail for anything it will be for speeding, an instant dismissal.  Oh and the small matter of avoiding pedestrians, not good to wipe any of them out on the test.  On to the afternoon's fun and it's up on to the 600cc machines.  Going from 10bhp to over 70 is a big step up and it feels awkward and heavy to start with.  After a few laps of the pad though it's not too bad.  The increased power and weight makes the big bikes handle better and the brakes and clutch are upgraded to match.  Engine braking is massive of course but there's no need to drop too much of that in.  Slow speed turns are a little more tricky with less steering lock and the weight transfers suddenly at the tipping point but hopefully I'll get a few successful U-turns in before the test ! total good turns made so far = 1, complete failures = lots.
Day 2 and it's off out all day on the full power beasties.  Wow, what a difference.  Going slowly round the residential streets is much the same but out on the open road is where the grinning is beginning.  Our strict instructor despairs of our sluggish progress and shouts his commands to speed up and give it full throttle for the dual carriageway slip road.  I comply and just about hang on as the revs climb past 4000 and the mph goes from 30 to 60 to 70 in the time it takes to realise just how powerful the acceleration is.  Excellent.  No more struggling through the wind and rain now, just a gentle squeeze of the right grip and the world move backwards faster and faster.  Overtake a caravan and get a cheery "that'll be a test fail" in my earpiece.  I've hit 75 without even trying.  Up and down the hills and even the bends on this horrible snowy sleety haily day aren't a problem, the bike goes where I want it to go.  Well mostly anyway.  An armful of power heading sideways off a roundabout isn't ideal but no major dramas.
Day 3 and it's Malcolm's turn to shake his head at his pair of novices.  Top tips though, especially in the area of what gear not to be in at 30 mph.  4th not ideal, 2nd better, even if it does sound awful, the additional control means no more creeping over the limit.  A few emergency stops, no problem, a few U turns, still rubbish but at least I know why now.  Look up, not down and everything else sorts itself out.
Day 4, try and pull it all together.  Simon very not impressed by me turning up 40 minutes late due to my annual forgetting the clocks go forward Sunday.  But somehow managed to redeem myself by an almost good ride.  Avoid shaving those parked cars and I'd have been spot on.  Full of confidence for the test now, can't wait.



MC Diaries : Rest of FebMarch 19, 2008. 16:54
So, the low speed training continues and there's definite improvement to be seen.  Well, until the pressure's on of course.  On the practice ground it's thumbs to the tank and super slow and tight turns executed pretty perfectly.  A sudden requirement to turn round on a busy street after missing the turning and it's a different story, especially on a gradient or steep camber.  Still, I'm heading in the right direction, unless I'm U-turning, er, you know what I mean.  Out on the open road and as confidence increases, so do distances and speed, even the Sussex border has been crossed now, at one point finding myself fairly lost in South Surrey.  Taking unknown corners at high speed is still off the menu but mostly I'm keeping a fairly respectable line and a healthy lean too.
Of course the great dilemma surrounds the constant rethinking of what's going to be the next 'proper' bike.  The contenders : First came the KTM 690 but it's a thumping single cylinder so ruled out for not being smooth enough.  Then comes the Yamaha Fazer, a good all-rounder and reckoned to be a good choice for first big bike.  Obviously there has to be a Triumph in there and the speed triple is tickling my fancy although it's way too naked.  There's always the BMW F650GS but is it just too leggy and don't I really just want the 1200 anyway.   Last but not least the Kawasaki ER6 which I'll be coming back to later ...  Whatever the choice, can I have some luxury equipment please.  Cold hands are just not funny at 50 mph, yes I know summer glove time is approaching but right now I want heated grips, big fleecy mitts and hand guards as well.  Looking ahead to better weather though, it might be time to order those draggin jeans, can't wait to be able to go out in good weather wearing vaguely human looking clothing.

A week or so later and there's been a big change.  A sudden rush of confidence.  Two trips out with Mr Trans-Australasia / VFR nutter has changed everything,  A few top tips on cornering (both at high and super low speed), lots of miles following each other over the downs and into the depths of East Sussex and I'm a new biker.  The speed I was missing is there.  The feel for the corners and the ability to hold a good line is there.  Crouched down over the bars on the A23 gets me up to 67mph, after that everything else seems slow and easy.  The test is booked !  In less than 4 weeks I could be going on a super size shopping trip to my nearest Yamaha/Suzuki/Kawasaki/Triumph/BMW dealer to make another sudden rush of blood to the head decision.  After all, that's how it all started.



MC Diaries : Days 2 & 3February 12, 2008. 14:05

Day 2, seafront meet-up

125 gangSo, revved from the excitement of Day 1, the weekend arrived and it's up and out as soon as possible. Slight delays due to attempts at navigating the LCD options again (note to self : leave the blue button alone) then it's back out on the open road again. A nervous start around the station area and a few dead ends where of course walking is fine but it's no through road for motor vehicles, but once the one-way system is behind me I'm back on the Brighton-Worthing seafront route again. Mush easier this time now I know the way and no surprises through Lancing and out the other side. Even the big Worthing roundabouts are negotiated with ease and before I know it I'm trundling back to the Yamaha dealer to meet up with the other half of the 125 Biker Gang. MrB is waiting for me and the sight of me wobbling into view is obviously quite comical cos he's chucklin' away to himself.

A tour round the bike accessories shops and then on to some more road practice. We're following much of my CBT route so some of the roads are familiar, especially the sweeping bend near the station, the site of my first proper lean it over and power round exercise. On to the seafront and we're back to my old cycling territory, just 3 times quicker now ! Some interesting T-junction and minor bends to negotiate and now we're riding in to the sun too. Visor down and try and concentrate on where I want to go, as the advice says, the bike goes where you're looking. Coffee stop at the seafront cafe, sitting there in our armoured jackets with crash helmets on the spare seats, no-one can tell that we've pulled up on a couple of 125 ponies although the unprotected jeans give us away somewhat.

Another trip down the seafront and I'm heading home with the sun setting behind me but there's an orange light on the dash too. Ah, I was wondering how much petrol I'd been gifted by the dealer, not much as it turns out. A quick stop at the next filling station as it doesn't take long to fill the tank. It doesn't take much cash either, £6.72 to fill it up, that's just madness.

Up and over Hove this time, avoiding the Landsdowne narrows and back up to the parking spot. I'm a bit sad to leave it but then again my legs are freezing, my head and hands sweating and a long hot shower is the most attractive idea imaginable. Can't wait for Day 3 though.


Day 3, practice makes...

frothStill no proper bike trousers bought so today's trip is going to be a bit shorter I thought. Yeah, right, that's before I'm out on the road and just don't want to go home, this is far too much fun. First stop, the practice ground. I've had my researchers out looking for the ideal combination of quiet seclusion, easy access and level ground and they turned up the perfect pitch. The far end of a trading / light industrial estate with a disused unit owning 20 or so parking spaces, perfectly distanced to allow for optimum U-turn and slow speed manoeuvres. And don't I need it. The slow turns and sharp stops on my CBT were abominable "What the fuck was that" was my instructor's actual phrasing. So, start from the beginning again. Safety position, standing start, back brake pressure, plenty of revs, slip the clutch. Good, smoothly away with the engine fighting the brakes and keeping me upright. Now it's time to commit to the U-turn. I'm really trying to move my head in the direction I want to go but the bike's leaning too much and I'm going too slowly. My panic right foot comes off the brake and my left hand pulls in the clutch resulting in the bike running forward and lots of unhelpful revving. Right, try again. And so it goes on until I finally find the right balance of revs, clutch, brake and speed to make the turn successfully. What a great feeling having the bike go exactly where I want it in a calm and smooth manner. Let's do it again. Yes, much better. I do at least another 4 or 5 tries before stopping for a clutch hand rest. The builders of this little patch of Hove retail park have conveniently placed 2 drain covers just the right distance apart for some figure of 8 practice, surely the hardest part of CBT. With the new confidence though it's not so bad. Going from right turns straight into lefts is tricky at first and I have lots of foot down moments but a bit of concentration and back to that perfect crawling throttle/brake/clutch balance and after a few failures I've almost got it. A few more tries and I'm nailing it every time. Brilliant, I celebrate with eight 8's and a couple of U-turns, totally relieved that I've overcome this first hurdle. Right, school's over, fun time now. No real plan just drift through the back streets of hove, back to the relative civilisation of Brighton and find myself at the end of my own street. Hmm, go home ? I don't think so. Onward it is. Down into the valley and up the other side, climbing Elm Grove at a perfectly respectable pace now, not even getting bothered by the traffic. Well to be fair, the only other traffic is buses and they keep having to stop. Right up and over the top but now we're in open country on a high ridge with nothing between me and the February sea. The wind is a monster, each gust crashes into my right side trying to take me off the straight and narrow. I persist and keep more or less to where I want to be on the road but it's a fight every turn of the wheel.. Relief when I get over the hill and down into the shelter of the Woodingdean shops. Rolling freely down the road now and recalling the discussion about the mystery road between here and Ovingdean. Look out for the right turn and there it is, can't believe I've never noticed it before. Take the turn and I'm into the hidden valley, round the twisty bits, oh so carefully, past the 11th century church and back out towards the unforgiving sea. Now I'm on the 3 lanes of full on speeding traffic with even more massive air pressure on my left, This time it's not remotely funny, that wind is having a good try at pushing me into the next lane which is owned by overtaking tin-box people. Time to get off this ride, I take the next exit and I'm back on to the relative safety of the Rodean road. Up and down to the edge of the Bristol and back up through Whitehawk to take me up to the top of Elm Grove again. A Sunday enthusiast on his beautifully restored old Triumph passes me nervously. He's spent years perfecting his pride and joy and he doesn't want to scratch it now. He's all Aron sweater and big old biker boots, the outfit carefully matching the era of the bike. Nice.

I'm focused on the home straight now, carefully does it down the hill, try not to stall at all the lights between here an home, gentle manoeuvring into the North Laine and a bit of parking practice to finish off a pretty satisfactory day.  Next time, over the hills and far away...





MC Diaries : Day 1February 11, 2008. 16:12
After a long day of CBT yesterday finishing with a 2 hour ride around the suburban sprawl of Worthing, I'm legal.  Fully certified to go and pick up my new(ish) Yamaha XT125X.  A visit to the accessories shop to get kitted out in some protective clothing, a run through the operating instructions and suddenly I'm sitting on the bike, keys in the ignition and ready to go.  Well, ready once I've set the clock on the LCD and fiddled around with it for 20 minutes to achieve just the desired configuration of rpm, mph, time of day, average lap time ?? etc.  Eventually there's no choice, the moment has arrived and it can't be put off any longer, I've got to head out on my own to play in the traffic.  More importantly of course, I need to pull away cleanly without making a wobbly mess of it in front of the Yamaha dealer showroom.  Kick down into first, a few more revs and a tentative release of the clutch and we're off at a blistering 5mph.  Around the corner to my first challenge.  I'm faced with a right turn on to a busy dual carriageway.  No chance, I turn it round and go the long way to find some traffic lights to help me out.  So far so good.  Next, the big roundabout.  Now I'm starting to sweat a bit and my visor is fogging due to the heavy breathing.  Wait for the gap, give it lots cos I don't want to stall in front of a queue of traffic, but of course I let the clutch out far to fast and the poor little beastie lurches forward, the front wheel trying to head skywards.  Off the power and we're safely away.  Things can only get better.  A few more junctions, a pelican crossing or two, head out of Worthing and I'm on the seafront road.  It's windy.  I know this because I'm being regularly shoved in the right shoulder by a mass of air pressure that won't be argued with.  Up to 30 mph and at least I'm keeping up with the traffic, maintaining road position and generally doing all right.  A few problems getting into 1st gear at the lights and a slight altercation with an Alfa driver but eventually I'm back into familiar territory, the Brighton and Hove borders.  Up Holland Road, carefully, round into Landsdowne and on to the scariest bit of all.  Montpelier Place is narrowed on both sides by parked cars and populated entirely by taxis who drive on the wrong side of the road.  Brilliant.  All negotiated safely though and finally I'm pulling in to my local parking bay where I sit for a minute to get my heart rate back to somewhere near normal.  I've made it.
A short pit stop and I'm back on the road and encountering a whole load more firsts.  First hill start, in traffic of course with one of those funny toyota pedal cars right up my back wheel.  Just about pulled that off.  First attempt at the seven dials roundabout, a local fun fair ride of a 7 way intersection.  Somehow manage that even with a trail of cars stopping behind a bus and blocking the exit.  A quick nip up Dyke Road Avenue, straight across the A27 junction and I'm out onto the South Downs, the massive horizon opening up across the weald.  This is what it's all about.  The open road, sweeping bends, roller coaster hills, green fields, and a line of impatient car drivers waiting to overtake me.  Yes it's only taken a couple of hours and I need more power.  My little 125 can get to 40mph on the flat easily but up a hill it's struggling to maintain 25.  Down into 2nd gear and it's still hard work for the poor thing.  My mind flashes instantly to the Suzuki 400 in the showroom, or the BMW 650 next to it.  Maybe one day, well I can dream surely. 
More high speed cornering practice and some quieter country roads and I'm really starting to get used to the controls and the feel of the bike when it's leant over a little.  Even the top tip of counter steering actually works.  It's incredible how the most gentle of nudges on the bars sets up the perfect angle of lean into a bend.  I can't begin to fathom the physics but it feels good so that's alright then.  Heading back just before dark and I'm fairly pleased overall with Day 1.  A lot to learn but a lot learned.  I'm still hopelessly rubbish at every aspect of biking but I know I'll get to some level of competence before too long.  Well, before the summer hopefully.
I'm freezing, out of breath, in need of a shower and generally roughed up but it's been an excellent start.  Can't wait for Day 2 !




Amsterdam in AugustSeptember 04, 2007. 17:21
Touchdown in Schipol and the super efficient luxury express to central station seems to have been waiting just for us as it glides to the platform.  Moments later we're nervously picking our way across the tram tracks and veering away from Damrak.  Straight into the mix.  Cafes, bars, coffee and head shops, food from half the world, tourists from the other half.  BIKES!!  How could I have forgotten the death defying calm of canal-side cycling.  No need to plan lunch, just sit down when hungry.  Tucking into tapas outside by Singel and forced to leave London anxiety behind by the relaxed pace of the waiters and kitchens.  The canal houses draw the eye upward along their narrow axes.  The wheels whiz by, the boats rock.  We're back in Dam.

A windng wander through the Nine Streets to Prinsengracht for a hotel pitstop then back out into the manic madness.  I aim for some old haunts, miss, stumble upon others, that's the way of the place.  Accidentally finding a church gallery I found by accident a time or two ago.  Hitting the book market by surprise as always.  Turning the wrong way down Kerkestraat of course still finding the Blue Dolphin with a little help.  Tradition kicks in.  One hit of purple haze and I'm instantly stoned as a stick.  As bad as the teenage me on the wrong end of a squidgy black bong.  Would someone else please keep talking so I don't have to, there's no way I can sync my brain with my mouth, there's just a woolly lagging in between.  Experience wins through though so we saunter casually out rather than exit as casualties.  A short walk round the horseshoe and we're miraculously back at Hotel HQ in time for tea.

Another slice of dutch excellence in the restaurant.  Serious fine dining at euro prices.  Scallop and truffle slices on artichoke jelly for fuck's sake and no danger of a pain in the wallet.  Why oh why can't London eating be like this ?  Coffee Sir ?, No Thankyou, back out on the town for an espresso and a pijpe at homegrown fantasy.  The dream's slightly shattered by the new Essex geyser management but everything else is pretty much as I left it.

Oh so carefully making our way back through the night-time revelry and those damn trams, we walk straight into Gay Pride Eve.  That party's only just starting and with a big bang.

Another Amsterdam chapter opens and closes, the locals polish their diamonds and Porsches, the sex, drugs and culture vultures come and go, the neon green sign in a special part of my heart burns as bright as ever.  The old magic's still there.



monoMay 24, 2007. 18:09
Finally got the results I was after with B&W film. All thanks to processing from peak imaging, and a few additional overlay layers from the GIMP.



Round 'em UpFebruary 10, 2007. 08:59
The latest round of restuaritic opinionation is now available on the ressy pages.
Since you last looked there's fascinating insights included into the wonders that await Brighton diners at :
Planet India, the cheapest, nicest vegie curry in Brighton
Murasaki, instantly the best of the Seven Dials international selection

and Londoners at :
Smiths, somehow the top floor is even worse than the lower decks.
Bleeding Heart, a reliable, above average, very French bistro
Kurumaya, if you want to join me for lunch
The White Swan, that excellent hidden gem you've been searching for.

That's about it for January/February 2007. Look out for the upcoming treats of Locanda Locatelli and The Hawksmoor.  Pass me the wafer thin mints.



rock climbingOctober 23, 2006. 18:39
it rocksI'm struggling, and hard.  It should be so easy, just a reach out and grab the next handhold but, but there's nowhere to go, nowhere but back down.  Back down the slopes to where I'll be safe again.  I speak of course about the continued search for the elusive peak that is 'proper' rock.  Made it to base camp years ago, a training regime of Jimi Hendrix, AC/DC and Led Zeppelin was all there was too it.  Double dose twice a day and the symptoms of 'no-proper-rock' fade rapidly.  But from there it's a long and winding road through the valley of the turdsome before getting to the next Yeah point.  It's so easy to give up, to just turn back and lock the door on your 1974 cave and refuse to ever come out again.  Come on, there must be more to life than that Shirley.  So, onwards, on through the 80s desert where guitars were made illegal in this country for any use other than strictly prescribed indie shoe staring.  Onwards along the precipitous crest of the 90's techno house just because at least it had four to the floor which just about made us feel a bit better,  But, starved of the rock we emerge wasted, emasculated into the apocalyptic optimism of the 2000s, gasping for the first breath as we break the surface we look around for a branch on which to cling, frantically hopeful for a helping hand to the shore.  At first there's hopes raised, some promising Austrlians take their dubious heritage to heart and form late 70s tribute bands.  England's Northside churns out some rebels with chips to prove, even the U.S. populace starts taking notice of the Green Day punky party under their noses.  Ozzy Osbourne is a venerated on both sides of the pond, teenage guitar bands sell out secret last minute seafront venues.  Heads up, we look back to check how far we've come along the road.  Compare where we are to where we started.  Put on an old Deep Purple CD, Highway Star starts.  For a moment I'm ecstatic, caught up in the sheer artistry and energy of the moment.  Then my rock world comes crashing down around me as the realisation hits me, it's not how much we've lost along the way, it's more a case of how much we haven't won.  We've gone nowhere.  Has no-one been paying attention, er, sorry, yes you, you at the back, you entire population of rockin kids, record company execs and pop pundits, what the fuck have you been doing while the demise of rock music burns at your feet, fiddling ?

Personally I blame the drugs, and the fashion, and Thatcher.  Not that she's got anything to do with it, I just blame her out of 1980's educated habit.  Allow me to expand.  Back in the early to good days of rock music the kids were just stoned enough to dig the music and be taken in new directions without worrying too much about the clothes they were wearing or the outfits adorning the band on the album cover.  Incidently this is why Jimi Hendrix, even one as gifted as he, had to don the most improbable garb just to get noticed.  If you weren't wearing orange trousers with fringing and a fur lined embroidered waistcoat then no one was even going to notice you through the fog of cheap sticky hash.  In the 80s rock was out, OK, fair enough, give it a rest, sure but at least come up with a credible antidote for our denim addiction.  Instead what did we get, new fekin romantics followed by kylie and jason. fefekssake.  It was so bad that when Oasis came along we didn't look back in anger, we actually felt pathetically grateful.  For about 30 seconds at least.  What were we thinking ?  We weren't.  Ecstacy, speed and cocaine had robbed us of our capacity to discern nice from good.

There is promise though, a fleeting glimpse of a future where things are made right again.  There's a groundswell of appreciation for Black Sabbath and Deep Purple.  Every 14 yr old has a Led Zeppelin T-shirt, although it's worn in an ignorant ironic fashion.  Even the demonic AC/DC logo is once again a symbol of noisy rebellion.  I have to say though I don't hold out much hope for us or our children.  Perhaps their offspring will stand a chance, one day in the misty morning of tomorrow, a future science student will uncover some classic vinyl, decrypt it's grooves and go home with an overlording urge to stitch the name of some rock gods into the back of their jacket.  Well, you never know.

So I continue to take my modern medicine as prescribed by the matron, I dutifully buy the second Datsuns album in the vain hope that it might offer some glimmer of expectation of a brighter future for proper rock.  I am denied of course but the war is not lost even if this battle's not won.  I'm left sitting here back at base camp, immersed blissfully in 70's rock again, and loving every minute of it.  Somehow it seems all the more precious knowing how far we didn't make it along the road from there to here.



SmokinSeptember 03, 2006. 18:45
Smokey Dave, International Promotions

"I'm famous, I am. You're looking at the most famous bloke in this town, you are. You want to take my picture, you do. Go on take my picture."

So, I did. i took a step back to frame the shot, asked him to look straight into the lens. He spread his arms wide, holding the carrier bag of cheap booze just out of the frame and poked out his tongue between his remaining three teeth. The combination of pink tie, green shirt and comedy sun glasses might not be the height of fashion but somehow he gets away with it.

"What's your name son ? Are you a pro, workin' for the papers, you know, magazines like, are you ?"

"Er, Adam, my name's Adam. No, I'm an amateur, I just like taking photos of everything"

"Dave, Smokey Dave, here's my card. Send me a copy of that photo"

He pressed the gold and black printed card into my hand as he shook it vigorously. His bony knuckles straining slightly as he did so.

"See you around, be lucky" was all he said as he turned smartly and walked away. Light on his feet, he made his way down the street half waltzing, half staggering, but maintaining a more or less straight line as he made his way. I turned his card around in my fingers.

Smokey Dave - International Promotions. Music, Film, TV

I tucked it away but it kept coming back to me. Was this guy for real ? Could be. Then again, he could be just another one suffering from cider induced bi-polar delusions. You get a lot of that round here. Something about the city draws them in. or maybe it's more that they're the ones left behind. No way out for them. Just like me. Am I trapped here by my own smug insistence that I've made the right choice and I'm sticking to it. Worse still, am I going to be staggering round these streets in 30 years' time, accosting kids with cameras and giving them my card? I should be so lucky.

I wonder how Dave's story goes. How he lost his teeth, what's the sotry with 'International Promotions'. Is he really da Man or is he just another failed musician like the hoards of others that this town collects like dead butterflies. They flutter around this faded re-painted seaside resort like they need the flame of its former glory to stay being someone. Even if they never really were. Of course, it doesn't really matter does it ? How they see themselves, the Smokey Daves of this world, that's what matters to them. Who they see in the mirror. So, we are them are us are you and me. Dave puts on his comedy specs and lurid tie. I put on my jeans and designer T-shirt, you put on your suit and shoes, you over there, yes you in the slightly spangly top, and you, yes, you advertising a mobile phone company and your football allegiance. We are all Smokey Dave. All posting an image for ourselves to view under the illusion that we're doing it for outward appearances. I think I'm starting to really appreciate Dave's approach. It maintains the invention of your life just how you want it to be. If you belive it enough then it is so.

How far do I follow this philosphy though ? I find myself thinking, when faced with a decision to make, "What would Dave do ?". The short answer is, Dave would have another drink.

Oh, FUCK, I AM SMOKEY DAVE.



Help in the HoodJune 15, 2006. 11:14
Brighton For Beginners (North Laine edition)

Intro

aboveWelcome to your new 'hood.  You may be alarmed, confused, bewildered or possibly just stoned but fear not, the good folk at chillicheese are here to help you adjust to your new environment.  Depending on where you've just come from, Brighton will seem unimaginably big and dazzlingly bright, or tiny, quiet and dull.  Whichever, you're probably not seeing the whole picture yet.  Take a step back and remember to look up once on a while, although obviously not at the same time or you'll fall over and get picked up by 'Smelly' or 'Smokey Dave'.  The outstanding factor of Brighton life isn't any of the obvious things you've already heard about.  It's nothing to do with gay pride, fish and chips, seagulls, or dirty weekends.  The guiding principle is anonymity.  That's why all those gay seagulls come here to eat chips at the weekend.  Seriously though, whatever you do, however you dress, whatever colour you hair or how many intimate piercings you expose there will always be someone just a little more outrageous around than you so in the end nobody's looking, they've seen it all before.  This is good news for shy celebs seeking refuge from the spotlight and bad news for ego maniacs who want everyone to point at them and say "isn't that Chris Eubank".  Once you've got over the novelty of being able to walk around in your pants and bunny slippers without getting arrested, you're probably going to need some basic provisions so...


Eating

mirrorBrighton residents and visitors all like to eat well.  There's a transient population including a whole load of students who can't cook.  So, why is it so difficult to find high quality, reasonably priced food in this town ?  I don't know, but I do know where to avoid and where to head for.  Proper restaurants are already covered by the ressy pages, but you can't eat out in fine dining style every night can you ? No you can't.  Which leaves takeaways, sandwich shops and grocery outlets as your main source of sustenance.  Takeaways is easy.  There's loads but only three good ones.  Spice Nutriment up by the Station (777746) covers your curry needs (trust me, I know it looks awful but it really is the best).  Brighton Wok (270490) is by far the best Chinese, especially for chilli loving vegetarians - try the Sechwan Bean Curd and the vegetarian dumplings.  Pizzas are all pretty much the same as anywhere else but Famous Moes (676867) is just about in the lead.  For more exotic deliveries, Yo sushi can be persuaded to deliver apparently but that's about as cool as it gets.
Breakfast in Brighton is another minefield and really a website of its own - the soon to be launched brightonreviewofbreakfasts.  Let's just say Bill's is best, Nia on Trafalgar St is not bad and Inside Out on Gloucester Rd is pretty decent.  As for the rest, you'll have to discover for yourself, that's part of the fun, but they're all in division 2.
The best lunchables are probably in the North Laine.  Go down the hill under the tunnel from the station and on your left you've got the Real Patisserie and Toast, both do what they do very well indeed.  If you want to sit down then Wagamama will of course ply you with noodle or try Red Veg on Gardner St if you like vege burgers, a lot.
Grocers are represented by the usual gang but you'll be aiming for Waitrose at the far end of Western Rd.  This is pretty much where Brighton runs out and becomes the other place so the John Lewis Partnership have carefully sighted there store where it can be reached by both camps (pun intended).  Before you go in though, check out Taj opposite.  This has grown through three evolutions into the Asian megashopolis it is today and is the best place for spices, exotic veg, oils, sauces, breads, dips, crackers and dried food stuffs.  How they've crammed so much into the space I'll never know, it's like a tardis in there.  Closer to home for North Lainers is YumYum on Sydney St.  Chinese supermarket downstairs, noodle bar upstairs doing just what Wagamama does but for a lot longer.  This is where you buy a new wok, some dried noodles and some wonton cases (should you suddenly require some).  There's also okinami for Japanese requisites and you can order online from them too.  Oh, one more essential item I nearly forgot.  M&S food at the station is open really late and sells bread, crisps, and booze (and chocolate).  If that's shut you can always go to B2 over the road, they're open 24 hours.

Drinking

bar
Certainly no shortage of boozers in Brighton which actually causes a problem of its own.  Namely 'where shall we go for a drink'.  Almost every pub in the area has had the clear-window and scrubbed-wood-floor job done which is not necessarily a bad thing as there used to be some right stinkers.  I'm not going to go into detail so I'll be brief and say ..

The Good
Sussex Yeoman, Guildford Rd
3 JBs, North Rd
Caxton, North Gardens
Eddy, Upper Gloucester Rd

The Bad
Great Eastern, Trafalgar St.
Hare and Hounds, Preston Circus
Prince Albert, Trafalgar St.
Good Companions, Dyke Rd

The Ugly
The George, Trafalgar St.
The Office, Sydney St
HaHa, Pavilion Buildings
The whole of West St.

Shopping

hellThere's all the usual suspects along Western Rd, North St and the dreaded Churchill Square but if you want to get funky then Kensington Gardens, Gardner St and Bond St will keep you busy for a while.  It might be worth noting though that North Laine traders do not get out of bed early so no point even trying before 10:30.  While weaving through the throng in Kensington Gardens, check out Snoopers Paradise for a laugh and if it's a Saturday, go one street further up the hill to the market on Upper Gardner St which is sometimes interesting but get there early to see the good stuff.  Whatever you do, don't bother with the Marina.  Whatever anyone tells you about the place, the only thing you have to remember is to avoid it.  Really, it's bloody awful, completely soulless and totally pointless.  Still curious? Well don't say I didn't warn you.  Hove has shops too now apparently so you could go there too, but remember to take your passport so you can get back in once you've purchased your spam fritters, and horse brasses.  I suppose I should mention the Lanes.  Start off in the middle at Brighton Square and have a wander around.  It's mostly not that useful but you get to feel like a proper local once you've got the layout in your head and can duck and dive around the lost tourists.  Escape the rat runs and head for the Hop Poles in Middle St if you're in need of refreshment after all that.

Nightlife

night pier
Clubs, pubs and comedy are in plentiful supply.  The Seafront is now full of disco divas, Audio and Concorde stretch the action further east.  It's just a case of picking the right night for you.  The big names always draw a good crowd though.  Don't miss out on the Komedia in Gardner St though, standard stand-up is generally high quality and the monthly Treason Show is well worth a try.

Outdoors

Being hemmed in by the Sea and the South Downs makes outdoor, healthy pursuits a bit tricky but not impossible.  The parks are small but secluded, Queens Park and St Anne's Well Gardens are the best two.  The Cycle path along the seafront runs interrupted from Saltdean to Shoreham (and then on past Worthing eventually) but is a dangerous sport in its own right.  If you want to go walking out of town then you really need to use transport of some kind first.  During the summer months, the 77 bus goes to Devil's Dyke which has stunning views and is probably the nearest point of the South Downs Way.  Don't go in the pub though, it's truly terrible, stick to the ice cream van instead.  An alternative is the 5B bus to Patcham and cross the A27 on foot and walk up to the Chattri, an Indian war memorial in the middle of nowhere.  You'll need a good map to find this though.
chattri
If you're feeling a little more adventurous, then get the 22 to Woodingdean and cut up and off the falmer road where you can join the drovers trail that goes all the way to Lewes.  It's not as far as you'd think and the whole walk takes about 90 minutes.
An easier afternoon out is by train to Falmer and across Stanmer Park to Stanmer village.  Not incredibly exciting but worth exploring.

Other Areas

ssun
There are actually other part of Brighton where people live apart from the North Laine.  No, really, there are.  Centrally speaking, Hannover is probably the most dominant.  Affectionately known as Museli Mountain due to the concentration of m/c mothers, this triangle of ex-rail workers housing between Elm Grove, Southover St and Queens Park Rd can't be ignored.  There's a lot of pubs, some of them quite visitable, a lot of houses and shed loads of cars and children.  You have to have 1.5 cars per housemate if you live there.  There is practically nothing else, one shop and a couple of dodgy chippys and that's yer lot.
Kemptown from St James St and eastward into the village is sometimes treated as if it's painted pink.  It isn't really but it's become more sought after area in the last few years.  Not sure why but go for a wander and see what you think.  There's a couple of almost OK restaurants and a few bars to check out but it's mainly dominated by Amex and the Hospital which are by far the biggest employers in the town.
Going the other way and up from the station there's West Hill which has its charms and this includes Seven Dials which can be a bit of a treat.  There's a couple of good restaurants, the incredibly useful Tinkers hardware store and a handful of delis, offys and a few other shops you didn't know you needed.

Travel

motionCity Cabs (205205) is ideal for us NLCA members and their automated service is very good once you've used them a few times.  As they're just round the corner on Queens Rd, they turn up incredibly quickly so get your coat on as soon as you put the phone down.
Buses are expensive and slow but sometimes the best way to get around if you're going a reasonable distance (like Hove town hall to the hospital, although why you'd be doing that I don't know)  The 7 goes right across town east-west.  They all go past Churchill Sq, and they're all full of horrid teenagers doing big brother impressions.
For a small town, Brighton has a lot of stations.  There's 4 if you include Hove and loads if you go further west.  The main one is pretty obvious but London Rd is handy of you want to go to the Open House Pub and Preston Park is good, er if you want to go to Preston Park.  All trains go to London of course but you can also head to Lewes, Eastbourne, Ashford (for the french connection), Basingstoke, Reading or Cardiff.  The one most people forget is London Bridge.  It's pretty much just as easy to get to as Victoria, there's direct trains all the time and if you need to be in the City then it's the obvious choice.
The one mode of transport forbidden to you is the car.  Where are you going to put it ?  Unless you're one of the handful of residents lucky enough to have your own off-street parking.  Traffic wardens are mercenary and target driven.  They will slap a ticket on anyone anytime anywhere.  Private clampers are even worse.
If you have a bike, lock it, if you don't you won't have one for long.

Services

Brighton Council website is surprisingly useful, well, mainly for finding out which day your bins might get emptied, but there's probably lots of useful info on there about swimming pools and planning applications etc. if you like that sort of thing.  There's not much in the way of sports and leisure provision, Prince Regent pool, King Alfred Centre, a few tennis courts in the parks, I think that's about it.  If you find some more, let me know.  The other main providers of information are the local papers.  There's more than you might imagine at first.  The Evening Argus is the obvious one and probably the best for jobs (Thursday) although there really aren't that many to go round (jobs that is, there's loads of copies of the Argus).  The free alternative it the Leader (which is rubbish) and of course the North Laine Runner which is, er, local.  The secret one is the Friday Ad which is essential for buying and selling miscellaneous items.

Dangers

Brighton is probably the safest, nicest, most innocuous place I have ever lived.  There's only two dangers.  West St at night concentrates all the fighting into one carefully avoided zone.  Seagulls will dive on you and try and bomb you, especially during chick rearing season.  My advice is walk close to the house walls so their wing span prevents direct attack.  If you don't have a front yard with a wheelie bin, use the council provided binvelopes, otherwise the buggers (seagulls, not councillors) will spread the entire contents of your bin along the length of your street.

Maps

There's quite a handy little map on the NLCA site and individual street info on the excellent mybrightonandhove site.  To hold one in your hand, the standard little red streetmap is essential for the first few years of Brighton life.

More Info

There's a few random links on my old old Brighton web page , Flickr covers local photography pretty well, especially on the dedicated group and I've just created a new North Laine group on there too so join in with that if you want to share your local images.  If it's all too much and you need specific local advice, mail me or leave a comment here.  I know you'll be fine though, just watch out for those seagulls ! 


you can see the wide-screen version of this guide here.



blogtiedJune 06, 2006. 07:18
Oh this is getting confusing. Time for a liberal application of strictness (can you be liberal and strict, well let's just assume that you can for the moment). The problem we face today is bloggage, otherwise diagnosed as an excess of blogs resulting in a generic lack of identity. The prescribed treatment is a separation of duties between said blogs.

So, from this day forth, let it be known that, this blog here what you is now reading shall remain the container for chillicheese related ramblings and nothing else

The Other blog shall focus entirely on the wonderful world of the web and will become the purest distilate of my Bloglines with a dash of Palimpsest, del.icio.us and Superglu added to taste.

Chilli-Photo-Blog is pretty self explanatory but is specifically a one-a-day caption competition.

right, glad that's cleared up then, good, off you go.



here we goMay 18, 2006. 18:02
I got caught up another bloody captain meme-o. I blame the strangely compelling Rockstar Mommy

I AM: here, now.

I SAID: it would all be fine, nothing to worry about.

I WANT: to make myself clear but I lack the confidence to be concise.

I WISH: I could just keep walking, forever.

I HATE: that feeling you get when you suddenly realise you were hopelessly wrong.

I MISS: the excitement of new discoveries

I FEAR: failure

I HEAR: pineapples are very cheap this time of year

I WONDER: why why why why why, she ran away ... my little runaway, run run run run runaway.

I REGRET: lack of foresight, lack of eyesight, not looking, not seeing. When I should have.

I AM NOT: sure if I'm right, but I am sure I might be.

I DANCE: like a disco guru in my head, and like your drunk uncle on the floor.

I SING: along to only two songs

I AM NOT ALWAYS: so indecissive, er, or am I ?

I MADE: it all up, everything, the world around me and my perception of it is no more than a dream I'm yet to wake from.

I WRITE: long hand with a pen when I'm out and full speed on the hot dark keys when I'm back.  I'm not sure it matters what I write sometimes, it's the clatter and tap as the words form themselves in the space between my mind and my hands that calms me as it closes the shutters outside and opens all the doors inside.

I CONFUSE: easy, use small words and keep it simple, stupid.

I NEED: to find some peace. But I also hate it when it's quiet, the silence is deafening.

I SHOULD: get away with it.

I START: the day with coffee strong enough to melt the cup.

I FINISH: every book I start, even if it takes me forever to struggle through a turgid dissapointment of a bad book choice.

I BELIEVE: in miracles, since you came along, you sexy thing.

I KNOW: that if anyone reads this they won't get this far down so I can say whatever I like from here on in.

I CAN: make a menu selection in the time it takes to say "pan fried catfish".

I CAN’T: sleep deep.  I either doze or dream.

I SEE: someone else in the mirror.

I BLOG: therefore I am, avoiding doing proper writing.

I READ: every word that passes; packets, paper, post.  Possibly for posterity.

I AM AROUSED BY: Injustice, wonder, perfection.

IT PISSES ME OFF: when my network connection slows inexplicably.

I FIND: my way better without a map.

I LIKE: big skies but also high rise, hot summers but also cold winters, going away but also coming home.

I LOVE: the journey as much as the destination.



and yes, I am expecting you to complete all of this yourself, all of it, no sneakily missing bits out, right.





promisesApril 23, 2006. 18:00
It's been a long time coming but the chillicheese ressy reviews are no longer confined to BN1. There's a whole world out there just waiting to be eaten and in recognition of this the ressy pages have been expanded to include London, Europe and the rest of the known dining world (well, known to me anyway). Full reviews of each lucky subject will eventually appear but for now, if you want to express additional opinion then the comments section here will serve your needs.

Just makes me want to travel to some new places and uncover some more gems. Also makes me want to go back to some, especially for the Peppered Tuna in the unliley located and named Bar De La Med, and a Baramundi at Ricky's, and while I'm at it some smoked eel, teryaki style at Imperial City or simple style at St John. Then on to Chez Bruce for the cheese and a sherry at The Don. Hop on a plane and head to Codfather for lunch tomorrow, off into wine country for a steak at Reubens. Round the world again to eat Turkish delights in New Zealand at Istanbul, washed down with a Tequila tasting plate up the street at Flying Burrito Brothers. Have I still got time for a curry at Jaipur, no, perhaps I'll save that for next week !



breakagesApril 10, 2006. 12:50
normal service will be resumed once I escape the delights of leg hospital.

ouch

OUCH

***K ****ER ***K ***K



1000 yardsMarch 11, 2006. 08:51
Squinting at the clock in the corner, my idea of the time it is shifts. Is that five thirty, six thirty, 8 30 ? Must be six, it's light out. The cool blue air of a seaside summers day still to come. I don't want to think about how long I've been sat here, locked in the concentration pose, eyes red and square, only able to focus on the blinding rectangle dead ahead. I torture myself with the loops and twists hypothetical outcomes ; I could be out of here in an hour if it all goes well, it could all be over, wrapped up and dealt with and I could sleep, or I could stay up, might as well, I could stay up and float through one of those blissed out surreal days where nothing can touch you and it's like you barely leave an imprint as you pass along.

The reality of the situation snaps back and hits me like a rake in the face. The set of decisions I made yesterday evening have determined my path, set me up for this night long vigil. And back to the dreaded 'if'. If I hadn't answered the call, if I hadn't even heard it, after all I was in a loud pub, drinking a long cool pint. If I hadn't answered it, what then ? On to the equally awful 'maybe's; maybe someone else would have had to take over, maybe the problem would have just gone away on it's own with no painful intervention required. One thing that aint no maybe is that I wouldn't be here. Don't know where I would be, who cares, I wouldn't be here right now.

Enough, enough of this, I'm not a slave to this thing, what's the worst that can happen ? I take my eyes off the glass for five minutes, I miss the crucial moment in time when it's time for me to act, I have to start all over again. Again. I waste another three hours of this half-life existence. Too tired to think anyway, I'm probably just dangerous in this condition. That was easy. Then again, there's not likely to be much persuasion required to convince me of the total validity of my own argument. Sod it, I'm going outside.

As soon as the crack of the front door lets in the first angle of sky, the sensation hits, more than a smell, more than sight, sound or touch, it's a single overwhelming sense. The totality of freedom. The freedom to look up and keep looking further and further, up and away into the limitless. The freedom to just go, not plan, not check, not ponder, just go in no particular direction and keep going. I hit the pavement, turn round, lock up and that's it, I'm out.

A faint cold breath of mist waves past my face and my arms, I feel alive, positively charged, ready. I know where this energy is coming from as well. By rights I should be a shattered, tattered bag of ill-fitting bits by now but the promise of a July morning transports me to times and places of the simplest pleasures. The past feeds the present. I head up and out of town, I need to escape the low rise shadows of a town just waking.

As I walk, the frequency of passing others increases as the early shift heads on into work, but I'm ahead of the game, even if I choose an easy pace, I'll reach the hills before eight, before the buses get busy. I turn and turn again, up and around, skirting habitation, avoiding the main road, ducking under and over the railway until finally, the housing estates fade away and I cross the last crossing and, instantly, the whole world opens up. Suddenly my horizon is just vast, incalculable. I can see for miles. One field after another after a hill, after a hollow, past a farm, along a ridge to the distant bristle of a line of trees, no more than a thumbnail high from here. Ahead is the informal track of tread making a path across the rich cow pasture. Even the incessant buzz of the overhead power lines and the swish of the rubber on tarmac in the distance behind me can't take away this timelessness. The distractions fade into the background and all that's left are the real things. The hills, the trees, the path. The stuff of life.

After half an hour or so, the bursting sense of exhilaration fades a little, I calm down a bit, get over that city folk in the country bewilderment, but the overall effect is still pretty powerful. Everything seems new, even just walking, one step after another is cause for celebration and wonder. Ultimately of course I'm well aware that at some point I will have to turn my steps back to town, back home, back to work. Still a little room for play though, I can take the long way round this field, avoid the hill and add twenty minutes to my journey. Another decision that was made and sorted before it started. Even now as I climb the hill towards the road, I'm caught by the roar of the silence, the sheer weight of it is almost too much to bear. I need the buildings around me to help hold the sky up.



The 77 is waiting for me as I round the last bend, the driver looks a little twitchy as he winds his destination board, it's still early and he's not settled into his routine yet. He barely acknowledges me sideways as I board, just an eyebrow and half a nod, enough to say, "don't worry bout it mate, I'm not going to bother charging you." I settle down at the back, legs out, chin tucked in and wait to be whisked home by the power of Dennis Plaxton.

When I get in, I see.

[DDDDDDDDDDDDD||||||||||||||||||||||||||||] [......INSTALLATION - 58 % complete.......]



sonnet boomFebruary 13, 2006. 17:05
/--------------------------------------------------\
!! DAYLIGHT !!

Early morning blues lifted
by the light of the sky
All my winter drear shifted
now that spring is nigh.

The dead dark days are over
for another year at least
Now it's safe to dream once more
of summer's baskng heat.

O breathe it in, O soak it up
this luxury is free
heart beats, quick step
Right now it's good to be me.

A treat indeed yet simple pleasure
to travel in daylight for work or leisure.

\--------------------------------------------------/



/--------------------------------------------------\
Noo-Kip

Toss and Turn, the lords of the deep night arena
taunt their subjects while the smiling clock face mocks
the flailing sleeper's failure to break into the house of dreams
Nothing works, not counting sheep, not even counting flocks.

The icy glow of street lamps light the edges of the cell.
Walls close in, ceiling lowers, locking the lid of the chamber.
From this sentence there's no chance of parole,
imprisoned by the inability to slumber.

Snagged on the thorns of indecision,
too bored to stay, too tired to rise,
Another few hours building up tension
to face the next day with raw red eyes.

At last I drift off but what do you reckon ?
The alarm's due to go off in 30 seconds.

\--------------------------------------------------/



New KidsJanuary 25, 2006. 18:01

Bills Produce Store, North Road, Brighton.

Served Straight Up.

 

Having read the other reviews of this little gem, it's become apparent that it is in fact impossible to write about it without using the word "cornucopia".  In this matter, I am, of course, no exception.  Maybe they would have named the shop thus if it wasn't the second incarnation of the existing business in Lewes and if there wasn't already a shop on Queens road with that name. 

Anyway, onwards to the meat of the matter.  A combined cornucopia of organic veg, packed produce incorporating a cool café greats you as you peer round the front door of the old bus depot turned dodgy car park on North Road.  A very cool café at this time of year, in fact bloody freezing, so much so that the staff are even handing out hot water botles to the shivering punters.  The excellent strong coffee helps here though as does the everso slightly off beat breakfast menu and the tempting specials on the hanging boards overhead.  This well tuned concept

is already a proven success with the original Lewes outlet and it's ideal for Brighton's North Laine.  This buying the products to take away will likely come back to sit down in the café.  Those sampling the breakfast specials and larger lunches are surrounded by tempting arrays of bright fresh fruit and veg and are quite likely to stock up on their way out. 

The overall theme here is honesty ; scrubbed wood furniture, concrete floor, exposed ducting and a fully open professional kitchen add to the friendly staff and quirky payment system ; they take your name, you go and pay, there's no bill at Bills.

 

 

Estia, Hampton Place, Brighton

A veritable mezedopolis

 

Ignore the 80's white-out effect inside and just concentrate on the menu.  Estia is very much the home of the mezze so the idea is to eat an array of Greek Cypriot dishes as they emerge from the kitchen one by one.


A bit like a serialised Tapas adventure.  there's also some conventional size dishes, so if you're not quite up for the main event, it's still perectly possible to sample some simple, classic Greek dishes.

Fish features strongly of course with prawns, shellfish and swordfish all making an appearance. 
The standard beef stifado also gets a mention though. 


There's a Bargain drinks list and friendly family service completes the picture making Estia an interesting choice for a big eating night out.

 

 

Las Iguanas, Jubilee Street, Brighton

The Half Brazillian.

 

Ten out of ten for effort with this new venture in a newly developed street along side the new Library.  Las Iguanas really wants us to love it but unfortunately the best rating they're going to get is "quite nice".  That may be a bit harsh, there's nothing actually wrong with the menu or the cooking, and the atmosphere is certainly helped by the 2-for-1 BOGOF drinks offers.  It's just all a bit of a fake and that's proving difficult to hide.

The bar though is an instant hit, cool, quite cosy and with a decent cocktail list (including a 10 year old cachaça).  It's already become a top local drinking den.  So, go for a brazillian themed tex-mex if you fancy it but make sure you hit the bar after.





Latest PicsJanuary 01, 2006. 13:29
not sure about these but anyway :

6blue - indecision

Graf Laff



Nationwide CelebrationDecember 20, 2005. 08:40
Cornflower blue and cotton bud sky segues into a dark lilac bruise leaving the calm turquoise sea to match the fading council railings while the Palace Pier hawks and squawks its' gaudy wares.



Meaty TreatsDecember 11, 2005. 11:10
It's well known amoung those who know me that one of my favourite ressys in the work is Terre a Terre in Brighton. It's entirely vegetarian and has the longest menu descriptions to be found, each dish being landed with 15 adjectives and 20 obscure ingredients. St John is diametrically opposed. Each menu item consists of no more words than are absolutely necessary for the decision making process and most of them relate to part of an animal. So, I started with Smoked Eel Fillet, followed it with Mallard and Lentils and ended with Lancashire cheese and Eccles cake. For lubrication we demolished a truly superior MOULIS EN MEDOC (2000) Chateau Poujeaux Cru Exceptionnel and a perfectly decent CAHORS (2000) Chateau du Cedre. Oh, and a couple of Taylor's 10 yr old Tawnys while we were desserting.
This is a high quality, serious business, fine dining, posh, expensive restaurant. But, crucially, it maintains a light, bright, noisy and good-time atmosphere. Not the slightest hint of a stuffy dining room here. It's loud, it's busy, it's fun. The staff were of the efficient, no nonsense school of table waiting and they were present when we needed them, invisible when we didn't and their knowledge of the products could not be faulted.
If I'm going to have a whine with my cheese I suppose there's 2 minor problems and they're kind of related. First, the prices are high, to some they could appear frighteningly ludicrous, especially Tripe and chips for £14.00 and a wine list that goes up to £1,200. Second, prices like this in the southern reaches of Clerkenwell attract a specifc range of my least favourite wot-wot punters. One delightful specimen close by managed to smoke continual cigarettes wearing a gaudy jumper thrown over the shoulders while making sneering comments with the voice of a strangled goose (lucky they didn't put him on the menu, smoked poshtwit liver is quite a delicacy I hear).

The menu changes every day, it's up the road from work, the drinks list alone is enough to keep me happy ; I think I'll be going back before too long.



wired writelyDecember 05, 2005. 13:00
Chapters 1 and 2.5 are published here, really not sure if it's a complete flight of fantasy, a promising sketch or a pile of pants - time will tell. It's probably better than Greetings MrB - Ch. 16 though.



A tale of two tigersNovember 20, 2005. 16:37
dsc00741 Dublin 2005 :

South Side. The soaring economy is embracing the Euro and selling the HQ dream to the highest bidder. The evidence is everywhere but most simply shown by the canopy of cranes covering the skyline. Further in to the older, more preserved zones, it's all Georgian splendor surrounding the ultra-modern. The renowned Irish wit is ever present in the architecture of now. Slightly right of centre sits the peace and order of the government yards which carefully quietens the ferocity of the politics enacted within. On then to the National Gellery which proudly devotes a whole room to the accidently found Caravaggio, whose discovery itself is a classic Irish tale. Round and about the traffic is bottlenecked by the continual construction works making the bustling capital even busier on the historic streets and thoroughfares. Everyone flashes past you in a blur of motion ; the shoppers, the tourists, the get-up-and-goers, the wheelers and the dealers.

North Side. Collapsing and mostly ruined, the north side gives away the city's not so distant past. Nothing can stop the progressive development of the south side though and some of it even inches its' way over the thin blue strand of the Liffey. Pockets of modernity begin to sprout in the fertile lands across the water. A coffee shop here, a new job centre there, but still interspersed with a dead barbers shop and a massage parlor for now though. The millennium spike sits here ready to count the invoices stacked up by the boom-boom town over which it towers. And the biggest news in Dublin this week : Roy Keane and Manchester United parting company.



Don to perfectionNovember 03, 2005. 07:43
The Don was very good, if very expensive. We did of course go banana on the booze front so managed to rack up a bill of £250 between the 3 of us.
I'd had quite alot to drink by the time I got there as I wandered across the city popping into 3 pubs on the way cos Viv was going to be so late. Then had a pint with Kev in the C&W before he had to go home. Then had a pint or 2 with Viv and Maz.

Then we hit the ressy - I had a Sherry to start and they pour huge glasses - v.nice though
Then we had a bottle of Argentinian Malbec which was fantastic - so smooth it was almost not there. The again it should have been pretty special. I don't know exactly how much it was cos Maz ordered it but we set him a limit of 40 quid and he said he went over it.
The food was very much like Reuben , almost but not quite as good. I had almost the same dishes as at Reuben too. Duck salad to start which was aLorange instead of smoked and with parmesan.
Then had the Fillet Steak Rossini which is the one with the foie gras - very nice, very rich, very expensive. served on a celeriac disc with spinach and some tiny pots.
Maz had the same. Viv had the plain steak avec ftites, not the foie gras cos we told him what it was (without going into detail)

Then we hit the dessert menu and Viv had a kind of bread and fondue thing , I had a kind of strawberry and lemon / brandy snap bowl/cream thing - can't remember what it was called. All washed down with an excellent 20 yr old Tawny port (the youngest and cheapest they had !)
I couldn't get them out of there after all that so we sat guffing for another hour which was why I ended up getting the 11:41 out of LdnBdg which entails the very boring 25 minute wait at EC for the last Brighton train home whch gets in at 01:10

v.good ressy though - a fairly big room with tall ceiling but not that many tables so nicely spaced. Not too bright and not too dark. Staff were absolute pro's and perfectly nice to us without being OTT.

10/10 for food, booze, atmo. 2/10 for cost and 0/10 for vege



Who's WatchingOctober 18, 2005. 06:29
Nineteen Eighty-four (Penguin Modern CLassics What's to be said about this that hasn't been already. Well, as with most of Orwell's work, the veneer over the biting satire is transparently thin but at least this time we get some of a story to follow and a short cast of characters to hang on to. Winston Smith is his standard representation of the small man swamped and suffocated by the machine of society. Julia is the love interest and embodies the opposite approach to Winston by assuming they're already lost rather than fighting their situation. O'Brien is the duplicitous bigwig, untrustworthy to the last. There are other less definite characters provided by the mystic Big Brother, the mass of the Proles, the enemy states and most importantly the perversion of language that is doublespeak. This last is probably the most interesting as it makes a point that increases in value with time rather than dating and receding into history. Continual abbreviation and concentration of our vocabulary reduces our ability to innovate and to express new ideas. There are already multiple agencies both in government and commerce who gain power as we loose the ability to articulate our opposition to them. Some use this in a legal context to deter challenge (like fast food companies re-defining the terms "healthy", "100%" and "beef"), some use it simply to gain a political following with no policy present (like "Four More Years" and "Time For Change", or even "Back To Basics"). Whichever example you choose, we can't say we weren't warned. Aldous Huxley raised the alarm concerning eugenics and the corruption of science for economics and here we have George Orwell making his portents crystal clear. There are other disturbingly familiar aspects of the Orwellian vision which are as pertinent today as at any other time since publication. Most obvious is the continual state of war in use as a lever against public opinion to insert draconian laws in the name of national security. It's only our lack of comprehensive historical education that prevents the repetition of this thoroughly detestable device from being wholly rejected by the populace. Julius Caeser did it, Adolf Hitler did it, Thatcher did it, even our contemporary christo-centre-right are at it, let's do it, let's start a war. As with Huxley, and Wells, Orwell uses the logical projection of current society into the future as an extremely effective vehicle for social comment. The setting may be fifty or five hundred years forward in time but it's really all about now.

Now it's gripe time. I appreciate that it's not all about character-conflict-resolution and that this is far more than a novel for simple entertainment. But, the politics needs the novel to be better to increase its' effectiveness as a delivery mechanism. Ultimately this is a frustrating read as there's no mystery, no result and little depth. We get lost half way through with the reading of the secret Brotherhood's manifesto and the inevitable conclusion is as saddening as it is predictable. As with Brave New World though the impact of this work can be judged purely on the number of common-place entries in our daily speech it has provided. I'm thinking of Big Brother, Orwellian, room 101, doublespeak but I'm sure there are more. Thanks to Orwell's vision, it's always 1984 whatever the calendar says.



Another One UnderOctober 13, 2005. 13:27
2 rail fatalities in 2 days on the same train line. I can only attribute this to one phenomenon - excessively early display of bloodyfekinxmasdecs. Yes shop chains, we know you make disproportionate income over the oh-no-ho-ho festive season but No, we don't feel sorry for your impoverished state the rest of the year. So you have to ride the dip and rise in profits over the year, so what, nobody died. Except this week they did. AP and her LRB put it succinctly here and I can only echo her sentiment. I realise this isn't exactly any kind of orignal ire subject but when it starts causing dealys on my train journey home (even if it is by indirect consequence) then that's serious. So, what are we gonna do about it. Rise up and emancipate ourselves from paper chains is what. Bollox to baubles, shove that fir tree where the sun don't shine and forget the fairy. It will be a victory for the sane, a banner for the rational to follow, a guiding light for those who suffer the dim-witted sheepery of the mass purchase panic which now covers one whole quarter of the year. Some good could come from this. If each of us in our home towns goes into Tesco, WoolWorths, Boots and WHSmitth, forcibly removes all the XM rubbish and then stuffs it all in the local McDonalds so no poor unsuspecting dolts can feed their kids poisoned cow-shit then we'll have knocked down two turkeys at a single stroke.



Clever ClogsSeptember 21, 2005. 18:59
Some authors ache to impress with feats of fancy plot combos and multiple voice and style transformations. Others achieve more with less.Crumey's effortless style hides most of the intellectual swan's paddling while giving us just enough of a glimpse at the mechanism to make us appreciate his brilliance.
With Mobius Dick, he once again embarks on a voyage through three main and apparently disperate threads each of which spawns it's own side roads. All along though, they are each inching back toward their inevitable intertwinement. This alone would be an achievement but just so we don't get lazy, he chucks in a whole layer of carefully researched history of quantum physics with a little philosophy, literature and music mixed in for good measure. There just don't seem to be enough printed pages present to account for the quantity of goods delivered. Perhaps it's the absence of padding ; every story or sub-story has a vital part to play even if it's not immediately obvious where it fits in to the wider whole.
As with the previous Mr Mee, the postscript comes from an entirely separate source yet is the means to the tightest tying of ends. Just when you're thinking he's missed one, it turns out he was just saving it for a final flourish of the magicians cloak.

The inimitable JS has already pointed out that it's difficult to avoid having Cloud Atlas in mind while reading this, but this time I think that Richard and Judy chose the wrong book !



Ashes to AshleySeptember 17, 2005. 09:28

An unforgetable summer of cricket finished off in curiously perfect style and celebrated as only the english can. This image sums it up for me.

Although Freddie may be the official man of the series, my vote goes to Ashley Giles. I've always been a fan but over the last 4 matches he excelled with bat and ball and made a difference where it counted. The King of Spain Rules.







SDW - Part 1September 02, 2005. 13:11

I've known about and been interested in the South Downs Way for many years now, for almost as long as I've lived this side of the rolling ridges that protect my little bubble from the rest of the country and in fact most of the rest of the county. But, until recently I'd only travelled along tiny stretches of it and mostly by accident. Not no more though, I've now trod every step of half of it. I chose Eastbourne and the Seven Sisters route as my starting point, arriving at the station on a seriously hot and cloudless tuesday morning. Took the half hour trot along the promenade and arrived at the starting point by the kiosk/cafe and tackled the first of many serious Ups to get on to the track leading to Beachy Head. Fantastic views all the way along the coast in both directions.

belletout1

Walked on to Birling Gap before joining the roller coaster ride following the cliffs of the Seven Sisters Country Park. Seriously steep, and seemingly never-ending but finally after loosing count of the sisters, I made it to the end where you turn in land up the Cuckmere valley to the site of the now submerged Exceat.

meander

Pause for breath after that 12 mile stint then on up the hill towards Alfriston, passing through the tiny villages of Westdean and Littlington. Lunch was late but most welcome after all that and provided the essential energy required for the last 6 or 7 miles along the firle ridgetop and down to the river Ouse at Southease.

ouselewes

Made it to Southease station with 10 minutes to spare before the once-an-hour train to Brighton - Result !


...Part 2 - Southease to Devil's Dyke follows.....



It Gives Me Enormous Pleasure..July 25, 2005. 18:04
...to announce the instantiation of the 2005 edition of the chillicheese Brighton Restautant review.

IT'S HERE

There's some new arrivals headed up by Dali's and Coriander. There's some farewells to the less than successful Epicurean and Cactus Canteen. There's some pretensious bollox about menus and wine lists.

There's the opportunity to vote for Homer's Golden Donut 2005.



mad bad sad dayJuly 08, 2005. 12:10
yesterday was terrible in the city with the multiple bomb attacks in the morning and the news just getting worse through the day. But the reaction of the people of London was brilliant, no mass panic, just determined resolution to get on with business as usual and then find a way to walk home cos the whole tube network was shut. One blog site got it just about right with this quote among many others distilled by the always excellent AP and her LRB
"Yes, you’ve tried it now bugger off. We’re not scared, no, you won’t change us. Even if we are scared, you can still bugger off."

I'm certainly no kind of nationalist, and have never felt especially english or british but yesterday I was proud of my people.

Best answer came from Ken Livingstone - he said this



CloudyJune 29, 2005. 11:27
This is fast becomming the number one commuter read. As usual, us train people are oddly conservative and sheep-like folk simply because we are forced to follow each other into our transport pens every day and night. Shortlisted for last year's booker, it does stand above the general chatter simply for its' range and wit. There's much more intelligent debate about it on Palimspest but I'll stick my thoughts here, because, I, can.

I may never have read this if it wasn't for all the palimphype but in a way that's kind of the point. I won't go into analysing the detail as I mostly agree with everything said by the wordy and wise at Palimpsest and for me, the most interesting point here lies not in the pages of the book but in the palimpages. Why are we all drawn to this particular novel ? It falls short of realising its' potential yet is still a relief for those searching for intelligence and wit in a bookshop crammed with trivial pulp. The book as a whole, and especially it's unusual structure seems to be the most recognised and noteable feature. Not really an onion, more a chain of beads, a larger more rounded central item flanked by matching pairs of lesser gems. or as the second half of "letters to Z" puts it : "a sextet of overlapping soloists" being a sci-fi fan though meant I thoroughly appreciated Somni ~451's struggle against corpocracy. But, "AirCorp" was just taking it too far.



Terse VerseMay 21, 2005. 19:35
  A C A D E M I C by Artie Twizzel

The University of Tersity
  teaches economy
The School of Life
  strife.
Hard knocks pulls up your socks,
But do fish get battered
if they break the rules in schoals.

The academy of tragedy
  gives cheer to those
  who smile at others' misfortune.
They should beware however,
the longest laugh won't last forever.

The world wide web is wonderful,
for on-line retail or to e-mail a she-male.
But if you want to read real words
It seems somewhat absurd
to ignore books.



Light from DarkMay 15, 2005. 18:55
There's an extraordinary light emanating from the basement darkness of the National Gallery's "Caravaggio: The Final Years". The massed ranks of art punters create a dense thicket through which these masterful pieces can just about be viewed. The light or, more accurately, the light gradient in all of the paintings here serves a dual purpose. First and most simply, the changing intensity highlight's prominent characters in the story and demotes the supporting cast to the shadow. Almost instantly second and more stunning is the depth of focus which makes objects appear to edge out into the world of the viewer. The table in "Supper at Emmaus", Salome's silver platter holding the severed head of John the Baptist, the plaintiff fingers of Peter's denial saying "Who me Sir ?, No Sir." This drawing of the eye through the combination of composition and colour / light balance is brilliantly executed and far more subtle and powerful than the similar stunts pulled by Rembrandt to illuminate and flatter his Dutch Berger paymasters. In fact you could even say Caravaggio occupies an altogether higher realm of complexity. Just as complex is the treatment of the subjects of each painting which are all famous tales from Christian myth and legend but told decidedly from the artist's point of view. By promoting certain characters' place in the composition, the emphasis of the story shifts. A glance or an expression or just the angle of a flexed digit transform a basic representation of a well known text into his individual narration with as much personal and political bias as he can get away with. The unique aspect to this specific collection is the display of contrast in Caravaggio's work during the last few years of his life. So, we get to see couplets of the same picture with a five or six year gap between them and this gives a fascinating insight into his turbulent situation and shifting inner consciousness. As he tires of life on the run after being banished from Rome for his crimes, his work starts to loose tone and colour. The expressions are notably more down-turned. Even then, the passion behind the work remains overwhelmingly naked and all-consuming. The artist's passion is also expressed through the sheer level of detail he includes. From behind the crowds of hyped up visitors and standing ten feet away, you see the painting and you read the story. Squeeze through the throng to get up close and personal and a whole new set of objects come into focus. My personal favourites are the table, it's cloth and victuals in "Supper at Emmaus" and the sparks flying up from the accusing fingers in "The Denial of St Peter". Minor players in the big picture they maybe but they are perfectly executed additions which make these paintings deserving of their place in art history and a long queue in a crowded gallery.



MadnessMay 02, 2005. 13:10
Diary of a Madman Reading these stories gives a sense of witnessing the birth of the Russian novel.   This is especially exemplified by "The Overcoat" in which the downtrodden Bashmachkin struggles to maintain both his lowly position as perpetual titular councillor and his ever more threadbare overcoat.  His name and rank alone are enough to provide a snapshot of his plight since "Bashmachkin" is roughly derived from "shoe-er", or more literally "stuffer", and the "titular councillor" is nine grades down the civil service ladder.  His humble position in society is merely the background to the misfortunes that befall this most pathetic of characters.  "The Overcoat" charts the temporary, slightest rise in prosperity followed by the almost inevitable fall into ruin and ultimate demise of Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin.  As we follow the trail of disaster his life leaves, it becomes impossible not to feel for the character and to wish that he could drag himself out of the pit of despair he inhabits.  The payback finally comes at the end of the story as Bashmachkin's ghost haunts his persecutors and so justice is finally done.  This ending speaks volumes about the Russian soul and its' fondness for the underdog.  Some cultures would view this sad character as no more than a miserable wretch but Gogol shows us that, in Russia, he can be as much loved as the greatest hero and the injustices he suffers must be avenged.

The other stories in this collection are somewhat lighter and told in a conversational and comic style.  Extensive hyperbole is employed in the manner of an after-dinner story teller who must exaggerate wildly to further amuse his audience.  The title story "Diary Of A Madman" also depicts the intensely hierarchical nature of Russian society while giving an insight into nineteenth century European politics.   Even so, it is peppered with comic farce.  As we continue through "The Nose" and "How Ivan Ivanovich Quarrelled With Ivan Nikiforovich", the surreal comedy takes over and we are presented with a document-eating pig and a snuff-sniffing corpulent magistrate just to add to the general hilarity.

Much of Gogol's wit and humour may be lost in the translation (I may never know) but even if a quarter comes across then it is still an outstanding work and essential reading for all lovers of Russian literature.  From the serious to the surrealist, from Dostoevsky to Tolstoy, they all salute Nikolai Gogol.



We Apologise For Any Inconvenience...April 22, 2005. 10:09
...caused by the recent loss of CGI services (not to mention the unrecoverable data !!) bad, bad news. Of all people, I should know that you're only as good as your last backup, which in this case was older than any of the content, briliant. Good excuse for a redesign though so here it is in its formative state. Long way to go though, coming to this page near here soon :
The welcome return of the Blogroll, featturing entries from at least these ; http://www.littleredboat.co.uk/, http://randomreality.blogware.com/, and perhaps http://werewolfjournal.blogspot.com/, not forgetting http://www.1976design.com/blog/, and an eclectic collective of additional addenda.

Loadsa book reviews ; Gogol's Diary of a madman and Penguin Lost.

MyLinks to Books google and Palimpsest Book Reviews.

New Ressys, especially Dalis and possibly re-reviews of King&I and H-de-V.

Some fine art with a trip to the Caravaggio exhibition and some comic-sci-fi-must-see with Big Screen H2G2

All this and the comment box, the random flikr, the badges, the monthly archives and maybe even a few new features.....How can you possibly kerb the expeditiousness of your enthusability.



Masterworks Number 1March 20, 2005. 06:32

The Forever WarI'll have to admit to the most shallow of reasons for buying this book, namely it's position at number 1 in the sci-fi masterworks series. I'd never heard of Haldeman, his work, or his Vietnam veteran credentials, I was curious, that's all. This curiosity was not immediately quenched as the first two chapters, while written in an engaging style, didn't offer any specific reason for the primary list position. Half way through, however, and it becomes quite obvious. This book ticks almost all the classic sci-fi boxes : Superluminal travel and the personal problems created by relativity, check.  Mysterious invading aliens who want to conquer our corner of the galaxy, present.  A military "Star Fleet" made up of marines in space, yes sir.  One of my favourite aspects is the multiple future societies which Haldeman shows us by taking advantage of Einstein's event horizon phenomenon where high velocity travel causes the speeding spacemen to age much less than their earth-bound cousins.  The soldiers come back to a different Earth each time and we can trace the changes in society over a few thousand years.
The author's own military experience gives this story an extra dimension.  This is a soldiers tale, written to show the futility of war and the sacrifices made by the combatants.  The futuristic setting frees him from having to write about specifics and concentrate on the issues and even though the narrative is delivered in a gruff bluff voice, there's an overwhelming sense of sensitivity throughout.

I'll give this one 4/5, the plus four for the handling of the problems facing uni-directional time travellers and minus one for the cheese factor.



It Tolls For YouMarch 02, 2005. 09:57
cover For Whom The Bell Tolls - Ernest Hemingway.

A tale of tragic heroism and human hope, this is the most powerful of the many novels which describe life behind the lines of the Spanish civil war.  Told from the viewpoint of an American volunteer sent to blow up a bridge at the onset of a crucial battle,  this story has more passion and emotion than some of Hemingway's other works but still retains his perfectly terse style.

The immediate difference from other similar novels is the language.  All the spoken Spanish is relayed in literal translation so the form and flow of the sentences is unchanged even though most of the words are converted to English. The Spanish grammar gives authenticity to the dialogue and much of the story is told through the conversations between the central character and his band of mountain guerrillas.  This makes the text more like a play in some parts, only reverting to the novel form when the dialogue is introspective.

The pace is unrelenting and consistent throughout although there are changes in perspective and peaks and troughs of action followed by calm.  Some great individual episodes stand out, El Sordo's stand and Pillar's tale provide the background and the history lesson.  The tragedy here is that both sides share more in common than they have differences but this is only realised after the fighting ceases with the annihilation of one group and the tears of the other.  In contrast, the suddenly in love story of Robert and Maria is full of innocence and purity transcending the surrounding ugliness and brutality of war.

One of the most powerful aspects of the book is the heartfelt motivation behind a just struggle.  This seems even more outstanding today when we are surrounded by unsupported wars of greed and power.  The terrible truth of having to fight against and kill people from your own country in order to save it is something  which western Europe has not had to face for some time now but this story must have been even more poignant when published in 1940 just after the end of the war it depicts.

Hemingway often offers the reader contrast and this is no different.  Here though it's shown through the protagonist, Robert(o), who is full to burning with emotion despite his icy exterior and detached nature.  It's through the difference between his thoughts and his actions that we begin to understand the strain of having to suppress natural human instinct in order to fight for the intellectual right.  It's the examination of a subject from all sides that creates a complete and convincing image.  However, given the author's personal involvement in the real events of the day, a little political bias is perhaps to be expected.  This area is best explored in the scenes involving the higher echelons of the Loyalist army with the Russian generals fighting their own, separate war.  This third angle on the situation adds a view of the bigger picture as well as increasing tension in the plot.

By the time we get to the final action sequence, all the characters have become real enough to not only illicit sympathy but also give us an insight into each individual, their hopes and especially their fears.  I would say that this makes it almost impossible not to read the last chapter in one frantic page turning sitting.  The suspense is almost painful and it's becomes essential to get to the conclusion, even if your train has just arrived at your station.  I only narrowly avoided having to perform the perilous 'walk and read' manoeuvre.

Having the story end exactly as it begins, lying on the forest floor surrounded by the smell of pine needles, is an almost unnecessary cherry on the cake but still a nice touch.  It's been 2 weeks now and I'm still thinking back to many sections of this book.  I'm not sure I'll ever forget the bags of dynamite, the wineskins, the smoky cave, or the band of terrified freedom fighters.  The tension at the bridge and the struggle against futility will also stay with me for a long time and that's surely the measure of fine fiction.



New Ressy RoundupFebruary 26, 2005. 07:58
It's well past time to start rounding up the contenders for the 2005 Brighton Restaurant awards and I'm hoping for some new faces to appear on the list. But, I need your help, I can't go round eating in each and every one of them just to pick a final shortlist of five or six. I can however haul myself round to those who show potential and put myself through the arduous ordeal of being waited on, wined and dined in the finest eateries the city has to offer.
So, before I go exploring the crests and troughs of the local victuals without a safety line I need to know what you think about the following establishments that have recently appeared on the ressy radar :

1) Drakes - The new offering from the people who brought you the Gingerman.
2) Circa - not strictly Brighton but I'll include them if you think it's worth it.
3) Estia Greek Cypriot Restaurant (behind Waitrose) - the saganaki looks good.
4) Wagamama - Just to see if it's better than it's Londoner sisters.
5) Kemp Brasserie - tried it recently and the menu read better than it ate.

Don't be shy, Opine away in the comments box down there on the right.



SpeechlessFebruary 13, 2005. 16:49
I am lost for words concerning UPN's insanity over the future of Enterprise.
Fortunately Delta says it all for me.





Reasonable FarceFebruary 04, 2005. 08:46
This article in the Guradian is :
1) exceptionally apt, funny, timely, topical, sharp
2) a little bit political
3) an example of John O'Farrell at his best

Another example is




2-for-1January 26, 2005. 18:27
Jose Saramago PKDTwo for the price of one review time now as I'm back from the long awaited Januray escape to warmer climes.  But, these two works of fine fiction share some surprising commonalities, over and above the fact that I read them both on the same holiday.
First of all, the first novel from Jose Saramago since his Nobel winning 'Blindness'.  This is the first time since I read 'The Old Man and the Sea' that I've been so subtley seduced into soaking up the sentiment behind the narrative. You don't read these books, you absorb them by literary osmosis.  I can only conclude that it's the simplicity and terseness of the language that allows the reader to get directly to the heart of the matter without being distracted by artifice and device.  So, while we're reading about Senor Jose and his consuming complusion for the hunt for every detail of a stranger's existence, we are being presented with a delicately constructed background of images and phenomena which are so familiar and yet just out of reach of ordinary description.  The two specific themes which leapt out at me were those of the structure of society and the subjective nature of existence.  These are represented by the 'character' of the Central Registry itself with it's strict staff hierarchies and  archiving formalities, and the compassionate treatment of the classic philosophical debate on the validity of existence without perception (as with trees falling over in empty forests etc...).  So, while 'All the Names' may not be a firecracker of an adventure thriller, it certainly achieves the goal of art reflecting life and it does so without seeming to even try.

On to 'Flow My Tears', and a PKD title published in 1974 making it one of the last before the "pink light beam" episode where he was lifted "from the limitations of the space-time matrix".  Page-1 and we're straight into one of Dick's stack of near future visions, all quite separate in detail but which generally share a common theme.  This one  set in a 1988 police state where 'rebel students' are under seige from the national guard and 3D-ID cards are the only means of ensuring lasting liberty from the forced labour camps.  But this is just the background to a classic tale of who's the dreamer and who's the dream.  Jason Taverner, a hugely successful celebrity, wakes up in a world that doesn't know him or even have any record of his ever having existed.  Of course, being a PKD hero, he has superior abilities due to genetic selection.  The only link back to his world is the drug crazed sister/wife of the local police chief.  It's here that we start to see the final conclusion of the novel, that our existence is only valid relative to the perceiver.  If someone else sees it differently then it is, by all worthwhile measures, different and there's nothing you can do about it.  This is possibly the best of a long line of PKD books which examine the fragility of consciousness and its susceptibility to buckle and bend under the pressure of outside influences.
It's a specific three-way blend which makes Dick's novels so highly rated. The background imagery with its stylised  future views provides the set, the pulp-fiction hero characters are the cast and the tale is narrated by the presence of an extra-moral pshycho-philosopher.  'Flow my Tears' is no exception to this rule.



agramiJanuary 04, 2005. 11:48
Off to Agra tonight and nervous. It's been along time. Despite appearing in the top rating of the ressy pages, there's doubt in my mind. Will the tarka dahl be up to it's smokiest excellence? What about the Nan, will it be buttery yet puffy and light? And the menu, what if it's changed, what if it's not predominantly balti with a few specials on the side?

What if it's not as good as I remembered.....The worst thing any restaurant (or anyone really) can do is to fail to live up to your expectations.

This is the dilemma upon whose horns I am tossed. I'm sure it will be fine, bound to be. But it's been such a long time...

Update...
Smiles all round (and round bellies for all), Agra retains its award for best curry house in Brighton. The menu has broadened slightly and has become a little more mainstream. The roti have gone but the Goans have arrived. No great drama since I was probably the only punter ever to opt for roti over the finest Nan in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Island. A good selection of Goan piri-piris is a welcome sight, and indeed taste. Most important of all, the Tarka Dahl is still absolutely, mind-bogglingly, tounge-twistingly excellent. It's hard to believe that a simple side dish can create such a stir but believe me, this is no ordinary lentil accompaniment. I was informed by one of my fellow diners that it's the unique preparation and just not quite burning of the garlic that creates the mystic properties of this smokey sensation. Whatever the cause, the effect is simple : I go back to Agra every time I want to go for Cobra and Curry.

And for TV diners (and curious webzine producers), yes I believe they do do takeaway.



Brave NOW WorldDecember 25, 2004. 13:30
Let's start with the reasons for this title's place in our list of renowned fiction and also its merging into English idiom.  We intuitively know this future is wrong, dystopian, disturbing and generally bad news, but, at the same time we kind think it's actually quite a good idea.  This in turn is due to AH being a keen proponent of eugenics although, like most of its' fans, I guess the events of 1940s Europe probably dented his convictions somewhat.  In this way we are faced with the same dilemma which must have plagued Controller Mustapha Mond when he had to choose between conforming to the state or persuing his intellect. 

The next level of conflict comes from the existence of the savage reservation only a helicopter ride away from the "civilised" world.  Here we have two mutually exclusive ideologies sharing one land mass with nothing but a tall  fence to protect them from each other.  Remind you of a certain European country between 1945 and 1990 ?  All future historians are bound by their present day environment so it's impossible to seperate BNW from Huxley's own view of our between the wars world.  The disturbing point is that it's still so relevant today. Unfortunately, conflict of ideologies and a global culture clash with world domination up for grabs are not phenomena we left behind on the battlefields of France. 

So, the greatest praise for any book written in the past about the future is that everything seems so familiar when it's read in the time it's set.  As every reviewer has already written, one detail Huxley got wrong was the date.  He sets his story 650 years in the future when 65 may have been more accurate.  His foreword written in 1946 describes this perfectly in a few chilling words.

"Today it seems quite possible that the horror may be upon us in a single century. That is, if we refrain from blowing ourselves to smithereens in the interval."

There are moments of visionary foretelling throughout this short work.  I couldn't help smiling when Bernard Marx is introduced to the "Director of Human Elements" at a factory.  Also, the idea of compulsory consumerism has especially pertinent echoes at this time of year.
The inevitable comparisons with Orwell say more about the status of both writers in our contemporary literary panoply.  I was also interested to see John Wyndham's name appear in relation to Huxley's vision of dystopia and I'll throw in Philip K. Dick as well just because, for me, he's the master.  However, if I'm going to start lumping together and genre-ising, then I'd put H.G.Wells in the same garret.  Not only does "The Sleeper Awakes" have many of BNW's elements and an equal score when we rack up the future guessing game's hits and misses, but the final scenes at John the savage's tower are located in Surrey, in view of the North Downs, just a few miles from the Weybridge wanderings of the protaganist in "War of the Worlds".

Finally, the greatest measure of success is Huxley's supplanting of Shakespeare in the minds our undereducated population as Miranda looses her claim to be the originator of "O Brave New World".




And the winner is ...December 15, 2004. 14:44
It's time to award this year's Homer's Golden Doughnut to the best restaurant in Brighton taken from the short selection defined by the ones wot we've been to. After slightly overdoing it in over 50 ressys across Australia and New Zealand at the start of the year, the judges had to take a short break before returning to some old favourites. We did the canteen of course (Terre a Terre), and we re-tried the Strand. We've even gone back to Hotel du Vin and were impressed by the improvements to both the menu and the execution of some mighty fine dishes. However, there is one single shining light shooting heavenward and looking down upon the rest of the Brighton fine dining wannabes. The name of this luminary lunchery, this fine fair of feasting, this debutante of beachfront dining is... Due South.

I've already written about our first visit here but I just can't stop plugging it. It's the holy trinity of serious menu, localy sourced freshest ingredients and relaxed service and atmosphere which win Due South this year's award. Hard to imagine anything better at the moment although some air-con in the back with just a little more lighting would remove the only potential gripes. I just can't wait for next summer so we can sit in the window again, looking out over the sea, sampling the best of Court Gardens Farm or Brighton & Newhaven Fish Sales while sipping a great South African Sauvignon.



Me Me MeDecember 01, 2004. 08:53
Mr Mee by Andrew Crumey. Ignore the pretensions contained within most reviews. Yes, the subjects of the stories are involved in separate yet intertwined quests for the truth surrounding the stars of 18th century philosophy. But think of it more like Scottish academics get a few surprises in the style of pulp fiction.
The Author's site descirbes it as "An elderly bookworm, a love-sick lecturer and an eighteenth-century mystery are combined with comic results." which is a fair if bland description of the plots. The outstanding achievement here is the continual convergence of the three stories until they become one. And then with a final flourish in the epilogue, we get another twist in the threads which ties the knot securely.

The I which is sometimes, but not always, myself.

Looking forward to Mobius Dick when it come out in paperback.



Tea-LeafsNovember 21, 2004. 16:34
in response to the tea induced madness of diamondgeezer.blogspot.com

What, NO COFFEE !!!, are you actually alive, or would you notice either way ? Quite simply, coffee is esential to life, and not just any old coffee, and DEFINITELY NOT a caramel mochachino from arsebucks. There are just 3 basic rules to obtaining a proper cup of coffee: 1) good beans. There's no point continuin unless the raw ingredient is quality, doesn't have to be Blue Mountain but it has to at least smell like serious coffee beanage. 2) water temperature. DON'T BOIL IT. Tea drinkers often make the mistake of thinking that just because their preffered leaf requires that 'just-out-of-the-kettle' 372 degrees Kelvin level of molecular excitation, then all hot beverages must require likewise. With cofffee this is most certainly not the case, anything over 85 degrees C and you'll burn the roast. Of course, if you're then going to pile on half a pint of cow juice and a plantation load of sugar then you don't really care what it tastes like anyway. 3) w.r.t. point 2, double espresso IS the only coffee that is coffee. Anything else is an abomination and MUST BE STOPPED.

The only adverse side effect of drinking too many strong coffees is a propensity to TYPE IN 'SHOUTING CASE' at times when a ~whisper~ would be equally efficacioius.



Not alone in headset landNovember 10, 2004. 12:37
Will the entire working population end up as one great global call centre ? If I'm working in a client support team and I call my 3rd level support helpdesk for help and they call me back, who's the client and who's the server. When I'm sitting at my desk in a bank with my headset on talking to someone at a desk in my bank through their headset I can hear different ends of different phone calls all around me and all around them.

"I used to live in a room full of mirrors, and all I could see was me"

Of course, it's funnier when the master of work blogging tells it.



Good DogNovember 06, 2004. 11:22
First there was "Paddy Clark Ha Ha Ha" telling us the tale of an Irish family viewed entirely from the eldest boy who delights in making his little brother drink lighter fuel.  Then we were treated to a truly excellent and beautifully subtle insight into the world of someone living with Asperger's syndrome in "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time" which was one of the most intriguing and uplifting stories of this year as it dealt with the subject with so much compassion and reality that it made the world seem to contain greater understanding that perhaps it does.  Now we follow the dog theme to it's ultimate conclusion with "The Last Family in England" which is an acomplished translation of our world into that of Labradors, Spaniels, Rottweilers, cats and even squirrels.  The additional layer of Henry IV part 1 with most of the characters' names being Shakesperian is possibly unnecessary but it's a clever enough device which makes the dogs more personable.  My favourite theme running through this though is the dog related idiom which peppers the pages; puppy dog eyes, in the dog house, a dog's life.  These cross-overs add a dash of humour to a dark and intense plot which flashes past like a greyhound chasing a rabbit.

All these books have one thing in common, they are full of human frailty, moral corruption and the complexity of personal relationships but all viewed from a position of total innocence.  It's this remote viewpoint that adds charm and a real sense of the whole picture to the simple acts played out in everyday life.



I can see my house from hereOctober 25, 2004. 17:51
The residents of Museli Mountain have alot of pubs to choose from. There's also some stunning scenes to be seen, especially if you live on the west side of the streets. If you don't, then just go to The Setting Sun which is a proper nice boozer on the end of Windmill St and towards the top of the steepest street in the world. The climb is worth it though for a cold pint of Guinness with views across the valley to the North Laine and up the other side past The Pond, up the road to West Hill and then round, down and along the sea front.
The view at night is an instant stunning sparkling realisation of the energy emanating from the 247820 inhabitants of this slip of silver stretched over the feet of the South Downs between the Adur and the Ouse.


You could go down West Street but I wouldn't recommend it.  Instead, why not take a walk in the park or up a hill on your way to the station
You might be a bit thirsty after all that so there's a few licensed establishments listed here each of which will be able to provide liquid assistance.



A walk in the parkOctober 18, 2004. 12:29
This entry is purely intended to mark the epiphany I reached yesterday in finally realising the true potential of CSS. The ability to completely separate style and content is no small beer. This Is my first attempt at a completely CSS based page, everything you see on it is contained within a div of the appropriate style so the layout and background images are entirely separate from the very simple html. The only addition is 3 lines of javascript to do the image swapping.

Big big ups to http://www.adactio.com/ for a most deserving win of the web awards. Truly inspirational.


every time I plant a seed, he say kill it before them grow



Moderate with fog patches, becomming goodOctober 13, 2004. 06:10
Attention All Shipping: A Journey Round the Shipping Forecast by Charlie Connelly is an essential read for radio 4 enthusiasts, especially if you read it at around 00:45 with the shipping forecast on. The background to the forecast itself and Charlie's personal motivations constitute the interesting, if not scintillating, opening chapters. From here on in, we switch to travelog mode in the style of Tony Hawks goes round the shipping regions with a Bill Bryson and a Dave Gorman. The balance of local history and personal travel diary is well struck although the humor seems forced at times. Overall though, this is a complete tale in itself, not just a list of lighthouses. Excellent ending as well with a cunning finish that wraps up everything nicely giving a warm feeling of completion to the whole project.



Day 15October 05, 2004. 19:55
Greetings: Day 15 has arrived. It's short and to the point (hopefully) cos the idea is just to point the story some way towards its' inevitable conclusion, which is of course also it's inception. More of that later, on Day 20, or maybe 31 but at this rate it's going to be 2007 by the time we reach the end of the month. To quote Betazed's most famous child : "Time, Time, this is no time to be talking about Time, we don't have the time."

Hopefully, the shape of the story will come into sharper focus now that we have some kind of idea of where it's going. But I'm not making any promises. However, now that I have the last line written, it's easier to fill in the gaps. All we need to do is chart the progress of our rogue subject from innocent bystander through informed assistant and ending up as initial instigator. Should be quite a ride....

se.ven.teen pints, tonight is the night, it goes straight to his head, he ends up in a fight.



ICC Trophy ENG vs. WISeptember 29, 2004. 12:03
Saturday 25th September 2004. The Oval, Kennington, London. Bright to begin with but soon became dark and damp with the constant threat of play-stopping rain.
Brian Lara won the toss and elected to field which was a surprise to me but then again, what do I know. England got off to a cautious start and the run rate kept low for what seemed like ten overs but was probably only four. They certainly didn't take advantage of the fielding restrictions but by the time Flintoff came in, he had a reasonable score behind him on which to build a respectable total. Unfortunately he was out for 3 due to a brilliant instinctive catch by Lara, close in off a hard hit ball, reaching down to his left to pluck the speeding bullet from the air. The rest of the innings went the same way with England crawling to 217 even with an excellent century from Trescothick and an inspired 31 from wheelie bin Giles. All the wickets went caught, run-out or stumped which says everything about England's careful batting approach.

After the Innings break, England came out to field and then went straight back in as the rain came down and the covers rolled out. Fortunately not for long as the shower passed and Lara's front row came out to bat. Showing considerably more style but perhaps less care than their opponents, the first four wickets went for 72 with Flinoff getting his revenge by bowling Sarwan on his first delievery and also getting Lara caught behind for 14. The innings comparison always showed WI ahead on runs but behind on wickets but then in came Chanderpaul and in he stayed. Rooted to the pitch, he refused to go near anything but the worst ball and there weren't many of those (once Gough's disasterous and very wide 1st over was complete). While S.C. was in, a victory was within reach but after seeing off four partners and raising the score to 147 he was caught by a jubilant Vaughn off the impressive and persistent bowling of Paul Collingwood. In that single moment the West Indies' hopes appeared to fade as quickly as the September evening light. With another 71 runs to find and only 2 wickets left in the tail, even the most hopeful rastas were handing over their wagers and thinking about going home for another phat juan. No-one really expected the partnership of Browne and Bradshaw to go on for more than 15 minutes, and certainly not for 10 overs. But they harnessed every shred of skill and enthusuasm they could muster and combined it with a desire to end a fantastic week of West Indian cricket success. With the run rate rising towards 5 an over and singles being taken at every chance, the wicket keeper and the bowler made their captain (and their Islands) proud. You could say that Gough's 58-run give away decided the match but ultimately it was the sheer determination and will to win that saw Lara's squad through to a memorable and well deserved victory.



Journey into mindSeptember 20, 2004. 18:36
The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester is one of the seeds of modern sci-fi. His ideas resonate around every distopian, near-future novel written since it's first publication in 1953. Telepathic police chief searches for inter-planetery business leader turned power crazed murderer. Sounds familiar but this is the real deal. Bester's books are always deeply psychological but this one goes further, deeper and the use of typography to indicate mind-to-mind communication is a rare treat for this section of the bookshop.

No need to go on, I'll simply transcribe this description of the deep peep into the dualism of mind/body.

"Here were the somatic messages that fed the cauldron; cell reactions by the incredible billion, organic cries, the muted drone of muscletone, sensory sub-currents, blod-flow, the wavering superheterodyne of blood pH . . . all whirling and churning in the balancing pattern that formed the girl's psyche. The never ending make-and-break of synapses contributed a crackling hail of complex rhythms. Packed in the changing interstices were broken images, half symbols, partial references . . . The ionized nuclei of thought. "




The OfficeSeptember 12, 2004. 11:28
This is not just a grim tale of professional alcoholics barely maintaining employment. Well, it is, mainly, but the humour comes from the childish petulance of the lowest levels of corporate management who can't stand the sight of the shambling Henry Chinaski. Their attempts to remove him from their hallowed halls of government are shredded by the simple fact that he doesn't care about the job or himself. He gets the worst postal rounds, he takes continual abuse from his 'superiors', he bins their 'write-ups' without reading them. Worst of all, he takes the intellectual high ground, which coming from a hopeless drunk, is a little hard to bear for the ironed shirt crew.

Post Office is written in 70's California gutter speak and at a pace which makes the pages fly by. It's not nice, it's not pretty but it's certainly effective. The scenes on and off the postal rounds are hard to forget and although the supporting cast are a little blurred, this only adds authenticity to the picture of a world viewed entirely through a drunken haze.



CommutationSeptember 04, 2004. 19:04

As a Tribute to diamond geezer's detailed description of the best way to get from Bow Road to Green Park in the morning - Here's my journey home :

London Commuter Handbook: no 33614: (17:32) London Bridge to Brighton

1) 17:21 - Enter London Bridge station from the main front entrance, make sure you take one of the central section of slightly narrower doors to avoid getting caught up in the gaggle of amateurs looking at the "information" boards or using the payphones. Once through the doors, head straight for Platform 9. The most direct route is down the narrow gap between the Lifts and the Underground escalators - aim for the right hand side of the Lift but breathe in before you get to it to avoid a lung full of Millies Cookie odour. Negotiate the cross flow of your fellow travellers which is a combination of those alighting from the escalators and some unfortunate souls queing for the ticket machine or even worse a La Croissant. A quick glance up at the Platform 9 "Information" screen will show you that the 17:19 Tattenham Corner train is due to depart "on time" even though it's 17:23 by now- Iognore this and retrieve your ticket from your pocket and go through the Platform9 arch keeping to the left aiming for the left-most ticket barrier which will be almost free of congestion.

2) 17:24 Pass left along the platform, look up as you apporach the midway Platform "Information" monitor which will be either blank or showing a tiny unreadable security alert announcement. Keep walking. Keep walking until you're almost to the end of the covered section of the platform, when you get nearer, aim to stand squarely opposite the middle of the last filled in brick arch on the wall on the other side of the tracks. Do not be alarmed that all the other pro's are standing further up or further down the platform - there's a reason for this. Look back towards the midway "Info" display which should by now be showing some text that is unreadable from this distance but the yellow font destination is fairly long and one word - hopefully "Littlehampton". If there is still no sign of a train arriving, check one of the station's clocks - you have until 17:28 to make your final route choice. If it gets to 17:28 and there's still no sign of a train - advertised or in reality, then quickly head for the stairs in the middle of the platform and cross to Platform 8 to pick up the 17:30 Esat Grinstead service which will deposit you at East Croydon in plenty of time to catch the 17:54 Brighton service which started out being the 17:36 from Victoria (providing the staff have managed to coax the electronic doors into closing).

3) When the train arrives, stand your ground, close to the edge but keep an eye out for open train doors or psychopathic suicidals. Ideally the correct door will present itself to your outstretched hand and you can simply board the carriage and head directly for the end seat at the far end of the long bench, by the door, opposite the fire extinguisher. The reasons for this seat choice are too numerous for this forum - just trust me, a great deal of research has gone into this specific seat selection, encompassing : seasonal sunlight; likelyhood of being squashed by over large punters; amount of disturbance by exiting passengers and so on.... Sit and wait fro the train to leave - if everything's going to plan, this should be about 5 minutes, during which time the carriage will fill with all your favourite people with whom you share your daily rail travel joy.

4) The good news is that once the train arrives at East Croydon Platform 3, about one third of the inhabitants will exit, leaving the conditions slightly cramped rather than completely cattle trucking sardinian. This is no time to loose concentration though. Try and gather as many tiny peices of information as you can regarding the general south-bound train situation. Remember you are trying to select the first train to make it to Brighton 40 minutes into the future, all of which have started from different destinations at different times, at some point in your journey you will have to change trains onto one of these other "services" - unless you want to end up in Hove (or worse). Check the Platform 2 "Information" indicator for the lateness of the 17:54, listen to the squawking of the train dispatch crew's radio equipment - even consider the views of other passengers. Ignore all in-cariage announcements - these are only made to mislead you.


5) If you're feeling very experienced, you may now permit yourself 20 minutes sleep. Alternatively you should now have enough elbow room to read your book/newspaper/evening-standard while your journey continues in a vaguely southward direction. Don't panic when the train slows to a crawl just after the M25 crossing, this is just the approach to Horley where a surprising number of individuals will leave your congregation. After Horley it's should be straight through Gatwick, 3 Bridges and Balcombe and no stops till Haywards Heath. WAKE UP ! If you're sitting too long here, it's possible that you're being held waiting for a fast Brighton train behind you which will LEAVE BEFORE YOUR TRAIN. If you suspect this to be the case, leap up from your semi-slumber and cross to Platform 1 (remembering that Haywards Heath numbers it's platforms opposite to all other stations so P1 is the furthest left when your'e facing south (away from London, rather than toward).

6) In the unlikely event of all being well at this point, you should be on your way through Sussex stopping only at Buggers Hole and Has-Socks before diving into the mile long darkness of the Clayton Tunnel. On exiting the tunnel remain passive, those around you may start getting up and gathering their belongings - sit tight, it's still a fair way to go yet. Look to your right and after a short distance you'll be running parallel with the Brighton end of the A23, but not for long. Pass under a double road bridge and then quickly into a surprisingly long tunnel which will spit you out somewhere near Withdean Stadium on your left. Wait, Wait, Wait for it, wait for the train to pass under a small, low brick bridge before you start to get your shed together. Once you have your book/bag/jacket/rucksack all in order you should be passing the newly built sidings outside Preston Park station on your left. By the time you get to the end of these, it's almost time to get off (unless the information you gathered at point 4 above leads you to believe that all the Brighton trains behind you are irrevocably stuffed, in which case you need to decide NOW between going to sHove-l or walking home from Preston Park (30 mins)

7) Hopefully it's OK to get off at PP so go for it and head along the platform, diverting left away from the crowd and behind the little box that covers the stairway and on down toward the last "Preston Park" sign. At this point you can check the Public Information System (PIS) to get a rough idea of how long you're going to be stuck at "this godforsaken place" as I once heard it desciribed by an unfortunate who wanted to stop at Hassocks on a day when the driver didn't. Your train should now be leaving on it's way along the coast to Littlehampton via Lancing and Durrington (Front 4 coaches only due to short platforms at these stations). Check the signals at the end of the platform and the points a bit further on. After about 30 seconds proceeding the train's departure, the signal should change and the points swing right. This is your confirmation that the next train along the track is heading in your direction and not going to branch off towards the scary and pub-less region of hove.

8) Wait at the last station sign so you can still hear the next announcement - this is not to determine the lateness or destination of the next train (you've already done that), you are listening for the end of the automated voice where she says "this train is formed of ..... coaches". If she says 12 then head further down the platform and stand 6 feet before the big yellow blob with your feet either side of a wider-than-normal line of black sealant which is filling the gap between 2 of the nearby platform edge sections. If she says "8" then head back the way you came and don't stop till you get to the far end of the aforementioned stairway cover box thing.

9) Ideally it should now be 18:37 and a number 14 train should be approaching PP, stopping with the front most doors right by your hand so you can get on and stand in a peacful vestibule for the final 3 minutes of your train journey. N.B. this actually never happens, it's just a Nirvana thing. Instead, fight your way on to a train packed with hot angry Victoria commuters who have spent the last hour getting thouroughly sick of the rail operator, their jobs in the West End and each other (in that precise order). If possible stay on the East side of the train, else stand near the door on the far side. You can switch sides as you make your final approach to Brighton. You'll know which side's right by looking at the track - if you look west and can only see gravel in the immediate vacinity then you're coming into P5 so should be standing on the East side. If you can see tracks then you're heading for P6 so should be standing on the West side.

10) When the train stops at Brighton, listen for the piercing squeek-beep then hit the door-open button, evacuate the carriage and head for one of the left-most 2 ticket barriers. Once through, walk straight ahead keeping WHSmith close on your left but at the same time swerving to avoid those waiting for others and the Evening Argus man shouting bizarre local headlines. Head directly for the hidden left corner exit, and kink even more left round the cake shop towards the Taxi rank. Keep going straight on and round the left end of the pointless glass taxi/punter divider and carefully cross the taxi marshalling yard diagonally right to the pedestrian gate (the furthest left exit). You're now on Queens Rd Brighton and what you do from here on is entirely up to you.



train train, fifteen coaches long ... (or more likely just 8)



Lewes to Brighton in 2 hoursAugust 31, 2004. 20:06
So, after all it does prove possible to walk from Lewes to Brighton along this route but it takes about 2 hours from Lewes station to Brighton Racecourse.

Simply :
Turn left out of Lewes Station,
Right at the roundabout along Southover High St.
Fork slightly left at the Swan, up and along Juggs Rd all the way over the A27 and over the fields to Kingston
Where you cross straight over the road to carry on the path to the Downs
After the track gets chalky and hilly, take the right fork and follow this path all the way up, over and along the long ridge and past the mast at Newmarket Hill
Cross the Falmer Rd at Woodingdean and carry on along the path behind the houses which eventually emerges at the far end of Brighton Racecourse.
Head straight for the Hartington, Dover Castle, Rising Sun or Constant Service.

cheques you signed with a love and kisses later come back signed insufficient funds..



Astro-nomicalAugust 22, 2004. 13:05
If you're a fan of JMH then you need Astro Man - a collection of studio out-takes and live concert recordings. It will blow your mind into like 13 dimensions man. Hearing your old favourites being practised in the studio well before their final polished appearance on any album makes you appreciate the artistry and professionalism shown by Jimi, Mitch, Noel and Chas Chandler. They get it wrong, start again, make the same mistake, change it around, and still manage to create the works of genius we know and love even after they've been round the development cycle a hundred times. Some unusual levels also expose deeper layers of some tracks which you always kind of knew were there but couldn't pin down - especailly the high notes on Hey Joe, the background mumbling on purple haze and the female backing vocals on ?cross town traffic?.

I can't quite get over how good this collection is. A bit pricey new from Amazon but much cheaper from fc_music_store which is a very reliable Amazon affiliated re-seller.

If you're not a Jimi Hendrix fan then go and buy Axis Bold as Love and you soon will be.

but you walked, and you smiled my name, and you stole my heart away



Heaven on EarthAugust 16, 2004. 10:53
In order to maintain the veracity of my Brighton restaurant reviews, I was forced to re-visit Terre a Terre to make sure my current posting on Homer's Best is up to date and keeping pace with the latest changes to the menu. I'm pleased to report that the exceedingly high standards are being maintained and perhaps even surpassed.
We started with "Number 71" (seriously stylish re-take of sushi with wasabi and cucumber sorbet and a beansprout salad) and Asparagus thingy wrapped up in something (out of memory error). More new menu items followed with the latest in a long line of truly inimitable souffles with a gruyere picketywich on the side (like a fancier findus crispy pancake!). I only grabbed a taste of the other dish at the last minute so can only report that it had a well balanced spinach and goats cheese component in which neither part overloaded the other - impressive.
No room for any more solids after that so just a couple of coffees and a perfectly adequate (and relatively cheap) organic Armagnac followed.

What more can I say apart from definitely in the running for Homer's doughnut 2004



ToDoAugust 10, 2004. 10:12
Additional functionality yet to be instantiated within the confines of this blog : public comments, private message board, archives, addentry popup, image gallery, MOTD scroller, recent list, referers, trackback, categories, scratchpad, random entry, random link.

!! better get started then !!

unless, of course, I get distracted by a visit to Hove Engineerium

Until the philosophy that holds one man superior and another inferior is finaly and utterly discredited and abandoned, everywhere is war.



BlishBlogAugust 04, 2004. 16:39
After almost 6 months of dipping in and out of cities in flight I'm finally in to the last section of far future history and only about 100 pages to go. This book is quite long but I admit I've been averaging under 5 pages a week recently so it's actually amazing that I've got this far this quick. Despite it's obvious page weight, the action runs at such a pace that every page turned revelas at least one new plot twist, one major incident, and several layers of character development. It's a super spin cycle of character/conflict/resolution several times over, every chapter.

synopsis : What happens to the history of galactic politics when almost immortal humans invent the anti-grav lift and start flying whole cities around the Milky Way.



Strand-edAugust 02, 2004. 06:48
Everything's still good, atmosphere is relaxed, staff are experienced, friendly and professional, menu's interesting and the tastes are , are, well taseteful. So, why is the Strand still in the 2nd tier of Brighton ressys ? Perhaps the cooking doesn't quite match the promise of the menu, maybe the kitchen is just too small to produce the necessary quality at the required quantities. Alternatively, it may be our scoring system that's wrong and we're doing them a major injustice. Decide for yourself, let me know if you disagree but for now, the Strand must continue to languish in Marge's 2nds.



Gone PostalJuly 28, 2004. 18:53
This not my desk



But...when I think of my desk this is the image my mind's eye eyes.



Ressy UpdateJuly 27, 2004. 09:36
Last night's visit to mei ped ped ped confirms that it is still the king of Thai. The menu's got poshed up a bit and the pad thai's grown but apart from that, all is as was (including the rushed off their feet staff who can't help forgetting you occasionallly).

A re-visit to the Strand is due on Sunday so it may get promoted back to the dizzy heights of Homer's Best after it's relegation to the deuxieme etage last year.

Really tempted to go back to Due South as soon as gastronomically possible. This has to be the star appearance on the Brighton ressy scene in the last few years, you can forget epicurean, forget quentins, ignore havanna, just go for the best (but book well in advance !)



BinvelopesJuly 22, 2004. 19:15
The Binvelopes are slowly starving the seagulls and they are NOT happy. Last night, a gathering was convened and it sounded like the entire gull population of Brighton&Hove were trying to shout over one another. They have now begun trying to dismantle our houses top down by pecking chunks out of the roofs.

Can someone tell them it's all down to the inventor of the binvelope who also invented the dog scooter. No, really. I shed you knot.



AhahubbaJuly 19, 2004. 17:20
"The thing is, I can never tell if you're dressed" said the honey cake horse to the penguin.

"Why", said Tux

"Because", said the horse "you always where that black and white suit".

Just then the firefox came in making the other two jump. "Didn't hear you sneaking up on us you sly devil", said the horse.

"No, that's because I'm slim and light, just like my friend the Lynx", said the fox.

"I thought he'd retired", said Tux

"he's still employed in some locations apparently", said the fox.

"I'm hungry", said the horse, "Three such unusual individuals as we deserve an extra special breakfast, but who's going to make it for us".

"We need a unique's cook" said the penguin.



TequilaJuly 16, 2004. 19:27

this is what happens when you listen to 'just a minute' while drinking tequila

Perhaps the finest tequilas known to the drinking population of the western and of course the eastern world are those produced by the herradura company of Mexico,central America whose fine products include the ordinary yet delectable reposado, the rich, smooth and tantalisingly moreish anejo, and last but my no-ones' means the least achievement of this outsdanding distillery, the especial which tops the scale of the price list in addition to the quality awards of which it surely deserves more than any other since there can be no comparison when considering the relative virtues represented by intoxicating fluids of this nature now, in the history of embibing time and that of future drinkers from here to the end of knowable space and time, not including those moments of extrmeme lucidity which don't count anyway cos you can never quite retrieve them from the confines of your hazey recollections which are the direct result of the initial consumption of said spiritus liquers.

...you know I've smoked alot of grass...Oh lord I've popped alot of pills....But I never touched nothing that my spirit it could kill...



Day 14July 14, 2004. 19:26
Le quatorze juillet it is so it seems appropriate somehow that after much anguish, the basic idea for day14 is ready for translation into real text. Day13 has been completed by a new contributor who has cast aside the reigns of hegemony by daring to switch the odd numbers to the human perspective. Will the quakes across the sci-fi continuum ever subside ?? Anyway, despite earlier predictions, the ~other~ aliens aren't going to turn up on day19, they've decided to make an advance appearance. In response to what may have been a typo in day11 the speed obsessed german auslanders are representing a multiversal training institution (or college). All will not be made clear by reading Greetings MrB nor can I give any guarantees that this chapter will even exist when viewed from your frame of reference, but such is the whimsical nature of entropy.

Emancipate yourself from mental slavery - None but ourselves can free our mind



Railway InvectiveJuly 12, 2004. 19:02
"Finally an announcement you might be pleased to hear" scream the 200 sq foot posters hanging over Brighton Station. Our rail provider has decided to change it's name and along with it every station sign and train carriage colour scheme, and I'm supposed to be pleased am I ??, I think not, I think rather that I'm exceptionally pissed off at having endure being a victim of the triumph of style over content while paying ever increasing dues for the privillege. I'll try and keep this short but take the example of the 17:36 from London Victoria to Brighton (head code 14) once one of the most reliable services on the Southern network, almost to the point where you'd think it's this particular train on which they base their outlandish reliablity statistics. This was as good as it got - until the current regime steps in and replaces the less fashionable rolling stock with what they describe as "our sleek modern replacements" which in real terms means less room, more lights, windows which can't be opened to give the inadequate AirCon a chance despite the obvious pitfalls of having a 5 foot gap in the train's outer hull every time a door opens - which of course it can't because the electronics are too complex and only work when all the carriages agree and the staff have absorbed and understood the 392 page manual and the 2 week training course. So It takes forever to get the train out of the station and quite often only two thirds of the train can leave which makes things ~~cosy~~ for the 900+ tired, hot and angry commuters. So overall, no, I'm not pleased to hear that not only have the thieving bastards stolen my cash under government license but, just to really show that they can do whatever the fuck they like, they've decided to wage a poster campaign to show me that I've made them rich enough not to even have to care.



Red DevilsJuly 11, 2004. 11:31
Ferari cheat their way to victory yet again ! Maybe that's a bit extreme, but with all implementations of Formula racing being designed to create close sporting competition, every infringement of the rules counts. This week we have the Ferari pit crew still on the race track after the 15 second warning has sounded before the drivers leave on their formation lap. 2 races ago, another (non-red) team received a disqualification for the same transgression. OK, so it may not have given Schumacher and Co. an advantage on the day but it certainly gives their competitors a major disadvantage when the conveniently blind officials suddenly regain their sight. Perhaps the unbelievable performance of Jean Todt's gang is just that - not credible.



City PubsJuly 09, 2004. 12:55
Although the citypubs site is no-where near completion, it's about time we voted for the 2004 winner. There's surprisingly few contenders considering the vast number of potential entries. Many venues are unfortunately let down by their clientele, but if they'd just get rid of the TV then we wouldn't have to put up with the hollering of rugger buggers . Anyway, at the finer end of booze provisioning the competition is very close and it might just come down to a single degree in guinness temperature difference that swings it. Front runners are (in no particular order) : The John Keats at Moorgate, The Arbitrager, The Toucan and Three Crowns and The Golden Fleece. The results will be announced shortly but I have to say that my money's on the Arbitrager at the moment.



FinallyJuly 08, 2004. 18:58
got the tables right by eventually sorting out the logic so the first row shows the links and all subsequent rows don't. 2 separate queries, one with a LIMIT of 1 and one with an OFFSET of 1 - arrrrgh, PHP/SQL, :o(



First FormatJuly 08, 2004. 18:00
well, after 1.5 hours, it's looking something like a weblog. I've mercilessly lifted, thieved, plagarised and generally plundered the world-wide-weblogers and this is all I came up with !



In The BeginingJuly 08, 2004. 17:58
The chillicheese blog starts here. First job for tomorrow morning is to research php security ! What's going to happen in day 14 though. The new aliens must be a quaD training college, teaching clients from multiversal space about life in a 4D universe. Living through multidimensional existence would negate the requirement for 'travelling' from one point to another as all points are one. Therefore, the college initiates have never experienced velocity or acceleration. They'll enjoy the autobahn then and will probably need a guide, ney a guru of 4D living to help them understand the joys of limitation.




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