'this was only ever just a temporary measure'

Art While I was in Manchester yesterday I stumbled up one of the summer markets which appears in the city centre each year. As well as trying some really good berry filled smoothy I was happy to find a couple of my favourite artists had stalls. Amy Gibbins is an amazing photographer who looks at the world from extra-ordinary angles. A couple of years ago my parents bought me one of her views of the Flat Iron Building in New York and it was the first picture to go on the wall when I moved into the new place. Here is the reason I really love it.

Also putting an appearance were Francesca Salvini and Emma Smalley of 'temporary measure' whose work I'd seen before in an exhibition at URBIS and who seemed quite impressed that I'd remembered. How could I not. Their mixture of screen printed photography and truth speaking poetry is one of most exciting things I've seen lately. Take a look around their website to see these and the their other crafts. Despite everything I had to buy a pinbadge from them. Its small and silver and on the front in black courier new lettering are the words: 'this was only ever just a temporary measure' Too true.

New Liverpool Logo

Liverpool Life The new Capital of Culture logo has been launched and after an initial stumble I've decided I like it. It's very European. Which it should be really. It's been designed so that it appear in a range of colours ...

Michelle Dillon puts on a brave face

The Road To Beijing Triathlete Michelle Dillon missed the closing ceremony the other night. She had to fly back early because someone had burgled her house:
"On learning from sister Natasha that one of her competition bikes and other equipment had been stolen, Dillon was then struck another devastating blow when her video camera, which included footage taken at the Games, was snatched from a van she had been travelling in. The British number one, who entered the Olympics on the back of a World Cup victory in July, explained: "Natasha flew to Athens before my competition started but decided not to tell me about the burglary until a day after as she didn't want it to affect my performance. Finding out about the camera on the same day compounded things."
Just horrible news, but I can for a moment return to the focus of what this feature is about Michelle confirms her future plans -- she understands how well she did and is focus on success at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and the ensuing Olympics. Unfortunately I'm going to be missing Michelle competing in the Great Liverpool Triathlon on Sunday because I'm working. Typical. It is being televised on Sunday Grandstand though so all is not lost. In other news, Abi Oyepitan appeared in the 200m at the Memorial Van Damme in Brussels and came in second behind Kim Gevaert of Belgium (who was sixth in the Olympic final).

Rosalie Deighton Gig

Plug! To quote:

September is turning into a very busy month for Rosalie!
Another gig just confirmed:
Thursday 16th September
Bush Hall
310 Uxbridge Road,
Shepherd's Bush, London W12

Rosalie will be playing an acoustic set, as part of one of the brilliant 'Chixx' nights. These are always really popular, so make sure you book your tickets (which will be on sale soon)!
Either through the Bush Hall or at www.ticketweb.co.uk

Lost in Parables

Life I'm standing in Wittards in Manchester Deansgate waiting to be served. A tall man in coat which is obviously making him sweat in this heat is new to the area and asking the clerk for some directions:
Him: Other that Waterstones are there any other bookshops in the area?
Them: Bookshops? Well there's the Waterstones.
Him: Other than that.
Them: Waterstones and WH Smith. That's it. There's a Wesley Owen round the corner.
In a benevolent move I interject.
Me: There is a second hand book shop - up by the library. Do you know where that is?
Him: No.
Me: I'm walking that way anyway, I'll show you.
Him: I'll wait outside.
I buy the gadget I've been attempting to buy for ten minutes and leave the shop. He's standing outside.
Me: I'm sure I know were it is. I haven't been there for a few years. Do you trust me.
Him: I trust you.
Me: OK.
We start to walk in the direction of the library.
Him: So do you live around here.
Me: I used to work here. I'm just here for the day.
Him: Are you. Were are you from?
Me: Liverpool.
Him: So am I.
He holds out his hand. I put my hand up to shake it and he 'fives' me. On the side. I smile jovially because I realise he's being more friendly than one might expect. he starts to talk about were he's from in Liverpool and how he's relocated to Manchester for a job, and I talk about being at the my old job in Manchester and what I'm doing now. Small talk. We pass the Wesley Owen.
Me: There's the Wesley Owen. It's a Christian bookshop.
Him: I know. I'm a Christian, but I don't want to buy any of those now. I'm looking for a cookery book.
By this time I'm looking at him sideways. My attitudes to religion are on record really. I don't talk about my own complicated spirituality if I can help it and suddenly realise that this man I'm helping is going to steer this towards the one subject I don't ever want to talk about.
We turn I corner and head up towards Manchester Town Hall, past another bookshop.
Him: There's another bookshop.
Me: Another Christian bookshop.
Him: What's wrong with that? If there are so many Christian bookshops it must mean there are a lot of Christians in Manchester.
I couldn't fault the logic. I was slightly worried by the stern tone he used. I was only steering him away because he'd already said that he didn't want a Christian book today. He seemed to have taken offence. But he changed the subject.
Him: What kind of books do you like.
Me: Whatever's around. I'm reading George Orwell at the moment [note: Down and Out in Paris and London]
Him: You're reading about Big Brother. You should read the Old Testament and New Testament. There is a lot of truth in there. That's a challenge for you. I tend to just read ....
I don't really listen to what he's saying to be honest. Suddenly this man I was showing to a bookshop because it was on my way is telling me to read The Bible. My head starts to spin as I try to register if anything could possibly have led me to that. Then I start to wonder why I'm so shocked by it -- why it feels so intrusive. Why do some people feel like they have to bring their religion (what ever it is) with total strangers who are doing them a good turn? Somehow returning the favour? Am I a bad person because I'm not thankful. I realise he's stopped speaking. I nod in recognition. We turn down the road that I think the bookshop is on. And realise I've forgotten it's exact whereabouts.
Me: It's around here somewhere.
He's wordless.
Me: It's been a while ...
Still says nothing.
Me: There is a sign on the road.
Him: Right.
I momentarily realise that yet again that my sense of direction has given up the goat when I notice a doorway hewn into a very old looking wall.
Me: There it is.
Him: There?
Me: I think so.
We cross the road and approach it. It's a green door with long glass slits in it, which looks like the entrance to a ward in a hospital. On the door is a small leaflet advertising the bookshop with opening hours.
Me: Well My God!
Him: What?
Realising the company and what I'd said I try the handle of the door by way of redirection. It doesn't work. At the side there is an intercom. I look down, and there in tiny writing on one of the buttons is the name of the shop. I press it. There is a pause, then the speaker crackles into life.
Me: Bookshop?
I ask bewildered. There is a buzz and the door unlocks. I hold it open to let my companion through and go to follow.
Him: You're coming in?
Me: I want to know what kind of bookshop needs this kind of security.
We walk down a long corridor. At the end we turn a corner and a middle-aged woman with grey hair and a green cardigan is waiting for us. Beyond her is a room filled with books. This isn't the bookshop I remembered. She's cheerful and thrusts some leaflets for the bookshop in our hand as we pass by and introduces herself. I wonder if she's had many customers that day. A glance around the bookshelves doesn't really indicate why it's so far off the beaten track as to be by appointment only I do notice one thing. All the books seem to be about theology and history (with a bit of geography). I suddenly feel like God is trying to tell me something. I panic and go for the exit as though the books are leaping off the shelves and chasing after me.
Me: I've got a film to catch.
I hurriedly say.
Her: OK.
He's explaining how we got there. I'm at the other end of the corridor again by the time he realises that I'm going.
Him: Thanks for showing me were this place is. I'll see you in Liverpool some time!
I nod with little certainty and head for the door. Someone is coming in and I hold the door open.
Me: Bookshop?
They nod at me as I squeeze past wondering if incidents like this are how parables are written.

Familiar territory

Commerce It's always wierd when you see little places you know very well being talked about by someone else on their weblog. That's my Starbucks! Daisy perfectly characterises what happens every time I visit. That said I usually order a black coffee because I'm bewildered by the choice ...

Kiss and Tell?

Music This interview with Marie Andersson, lead singer of the Sahara Hotnights includies some pithy comments about how rock bands can be handstrung by gender perception:
"There was a time when we were really, really pissed off because people kept writing about us being girls. But after a while you see that it doesn?t matter how much you talk about it or try to prove that you?re not just a girl band. It just gives them something to write about. It kind of makes it worse to talk about it yourself actually."
I'll be interested to hear what their new material sounds like -- I've a couple of their older albums and they have a kind of post-punk sound which is difficult but not impossible to listen to.


The Road To Beijing Olympic sprint team coach Tony Lester describes Abi Oyepitan's performance as a 'complete revelation' "She ran seven fast races in a week. She was at another level and doesn't know how that would feel."

Keith Needs Your Help

Music To quote: "If you're between the age of 12 and 34 (especially if you're female but you don't have to be) or maybe if you have a daughter or sister or relative or friend who is between the age of 12 and 34, I would absolutely love it if you/person between 12-34-years-old could download and fill out this questionnaire about your music-listening habits and e-mail it back to me ASAP. It's almost entirely multiple-choice, so it shouldn't take you very long to fill out at all." Interesting stuff and certainly underlined the fact that I never listen to music radio anymore.


Astronomy Staggeringly long, involved and detailed list of astronomy related links. So much to look at so little time. A bit like space itself really.

Fighting Talk

The Road To Beijing I think Michelle Dillon's going to be remember more for out triathlon tactics that that sixth place.
Here she is again in a BBC quote of the week article: "I thought I had a reasonable swim, the only thing was people were pulling my zipper down, obviously trying to pull me back, which is really disappointing. Luckily the zipper didn't come down and once I got onto the bike I was OK, but I just didn't have the energy to go through and do the work. If I find out who it was, I'll get them."
Fighting words. Meanwhile The Hendon and Finchley Times looks at the Olympics from the perspective of their local athletics club Shaftesbury Barnet home of Abi Oyepitan.

'A fiver an hour? All I want to do is check my email...'

The Internet A Rough Guide to the Internet has been published in association with Yahoo! and can be downloaded here in Adobe format. For a freebee its up to the knowledgable high standards of the rest of the series and although it didn't win, I'm happy to see that Liverpool Cafe Latte is included. I have to admit to not knowing of its existence but with it's position and the positive review I'll be dropping in some time. It'll be a nostalgia pilgrimage though because it seems to be on the site of what used to the Eurobar, a drinking place which I spent many nights in with friends. If I'm being honest it was also a good place to take dates because it was always quiet and you could always get a table. Which was probably its downfall.

Because sometimes weblog posts are a force for evil

Work I'm not exactly in the kind of work environment were slacking off is easy, permitted or desirable. But other's might find the following handy hints useful:
"Short of redesigning your work space, or moving to a company with a better physical environment, there are ways to get some quiet time on the job.

* Sending all phone calls directly to voicemail
* Wearing ear plugs or headphones to screen out office sounds
* Alerting workers you're on a tight deadline and need to be left alone for a few hours
* Book a conference room for a while and take your work there
* Work from home
Thanks Dana. Thanks a lot.

[I do this to kid. Overall I like Dana's weblog -- it takes what could be quite a dry subject and makes it interesting enough to someone outside the industry -- which isn't easy ...]

Pointless post

Life I've been letting my hair grow. For the first time in years today when I stepped out of the shower I was able to comb it backwards. Of course when it dried I looked like Shaggy and Scooby after a run in with a ghost but I feel like I've turned a corner.

jazz at the palm house

The good times roll for jazz in Liverpool "One of the first events will be a series of jazz events at the Palm House in Liverpool's Sefton Park. The first - next Sunday - will be free.. It will feature the Wigan Youth Jazz Orchestra and the Tim Harvey quintet."

Run away from silent. Run deep.

Film Saw Stage Beauty tonight and a review will be forthcoming hopefully when I have the inspiration. Suffice to say Henslowe from Shakespeare In Love will adore it -- it does indeed feature 'Comedy, love and a bit with a dog' But also some tragedy, so it's a perfect concoction. While I was watching the scenes play out and the gestures of the actors of the time it occured to me that having seen some silent film over the past few weeks I can't watch any more for now. Of all of cinema, anything pre-1920 lacks the prop of language to make up for something vital which is missing -- spectacle. The only way to see these films is in a cinema with a decent soundtrack and unfortunately, even my setup is a poor subsitute. So for now I'm going to enjoy the films I can give the relevant room to and hope at some time in the future I can watch these things in the context they deserve. So tomorrow night I have Master And Commander coming from the good people at ScreenSelect. Ahoy.

Why not Delta and the Bannermen?

TV Man sells entire Doctor Who video collection, bar one. So why not Delta and the Bannermen? "This auction is UK only - I can't imagine the cost to send these abroad." I can't imagine the postage in the UK even ...

Erm ... or right ... so this is it ...

Life There goes the bank holiday then. Oh look -- there's September on the horizon, then October and look what happens at the end of that. With the now named Beatles Matthew Street Festival happening in the city this weekend, I couldn't not stay at home and watch two solid days of sport on tv then hang around listlessly for another day watching Hitcock's adaptation of Rebecca then Soderbergh's sex, lies and videotape. Every year I end up having to decide whether to go into town, fight the crowds in the pubs, watch the cover bands and come home slightly disappointed or not. This year, having booked a couple of days in Cardiff in September and with my usual Manchester trip next week I decided to have a quiet day in. I think I may be weird. But not as weird as James Spader in the first half of sex, lies.


The Road To Beijing Abi Oyepitan was in the stadium last night supporting the British athletics team and showing that she's not intimidated by people like Morris Greene. She talks to The Guardian about her Olympic experience.
[Also: Lingering problems take gloss off medal success / The alpha and the omega / Lawyers join the medal trail]

3:34 seconds

Technology And so I've used my surprise collection and invested in a new DVD Writer. It's a MTC DRW 1008IM ? DVD+/-RW Drive which I see from that page isn't the sharpest of their tools, but it has won a few awards in its time, and it's a start. Frankly even 40x is an obscene speed to create CD-Rs and looks almost like magic (especially considering that my old CD-R used to take half an hour -- it had been in there for some time). Sadly it came without an inbox manual, so I spent two hours yesterday morning trying to work out why Windows wasn't recognising any of my drives. The man in shop was only just about helpful when I rang him:
Him: You have to move the jumper into the slave position.
Me: It's already there.
Him: Well move it to one of the other ones, and just keep moving it around until it works.
And people ask me why I don't want to work in IT full time...

It sounds like madness, but I'm going on ...

The Road To Beijing

'And I was about to say they're away first time.'

Watching the final few days of the Olympics in Athens it occured to me that I'd been just as happy just watching the performances of all the British athletes, even those who would be leaving without medals but who had just tried to outdo themselves and their own past performances. After every race or contest each athlete was asked the same inevitable question: 'Will you be back for Beijing?' Some said quietly they it was their last appearance, that they'd had a good run, but they would retire. But the majority nodded, they could do better, and over the following four years the would show it. Each time I wondered what would lead them there, how they'd again be able to try their hand against the best of the world. So I decided that next time I wanted to know and that I'd be cheering them on not just because they were British, but because of who they are and what I'd seen them do. It occured to me that I have the perfect medium for doing it.

Looking across all the sports I've selected six athletes whose appearances have been extraordinary in their own way and, via this weblog, over the next four years, I'm going to try and follow their careers as they leave Athens, return to their own sporting arenas and take the long, hard slog to the next Olympics. In some cases they've just missed out on a medal, their opponents moving ahead in the last few moments of the contest. In others it's times when the individuals have outdone their own expectations, reached a final or placing which they couldn't have expected going into the games. I've tried to choose people who have a spark of potential that spirit of 'do better', and who also engender that feeling in their audience. And I have faith that all of them have the potential to win a medal in four years time and I hope it's going to be an exciting and fun time watching their progress. So we find ourselves on the long Road to Beijing. Who's with me?

Michelle Dillon Triathlon
In Athens: 6th place, Women's Triathlon
While the surprises were happening at the top end of the field, Michelle had been fighting away through dirty tricks in the swimming and being held in a chasing pack in the cycling to run down the field and hold her place in the final section six minutes ahead of the closest other Britains Julie Dibens. Given her previous form, in which she's frequently in the top three it's going to be interesting to watch her achievements in the coming years. [biography]

Matthew Elias Athletics
In Athens: 5th place, anchor leg, Men's 4x400m
After this final race of the Athens Olympic Athletics, Matthew Elias was missing as his team mates were being interviewed for television. He was sitting on the track, in a daze, wondering what had happened. A bronze or even silver medal should have been theirs, but as Elias entered the closing straight he found himself engulfed by athletes from Nigeria and Japan and all was lost. So he decided to sit down for a while. It was a learning experience and hopefully it's taught how to win that race in the next Olympics. [biography]

James Goddard Swimming
In Athens: 4th place, Men's 200m Backstroke
In a games which was filled with athletes finding themselves with medals after disqualifications and protests, James was one of the unlucky. For twenty minutes his Olympic dream had finally come together as he saw himself joining Steven Parry as a Bronze medal winner until wierd judging methods got in his way. After medals at both the Commonwealth Games and World Championships we're bound to see a lot more from him. [biography]

Laurence Godfrey Archery
In Athens: 4th place, 70m Archery
A Bronze medal was just one point away for Laurence, although it looked for a moment as though a late surge after being behind for the whole match would have given him victory. But he wasn't downhearted: "I am happy with anything, all I expected was to give 100% and do my best and it gave me fourth. If giving 100% had given me 64th then so be it, but it has given me fourth and that is fantastic." Although he's been shooting for eighteen years, his performance has improved markedly over the past couple of years so I'll be surprised if we don't see great things in the next four years. [biography]

Lucy Hardy Canoeing
In Athens: 7th place, Women's K1 500m
In the post race interview it was revealed that Hardy's goal was to come ninth in the Olympic final. She reached seventh, gained a personal best time and produced the best performance of a women's canoeist in the games. "Seventh is much more than I could have thought of at this Games," Lucy told the BBC after the race. "Hopefully it's the start of good things to come." It was the kind of inspiring show which appeared throughout the games but it just seemed sweeter in Hardy's case somehow. [biography]

Abi Oyepitan Athletics
In Athens: 7th place, Women's 200m final / 5th place, 100m semi-final
Of all the non-medalling athletics performances this was one of the most affecting. Oyepitan has said that she entered the Olympics little imagining she would be in a final let alone through the semis -- a personal best would have been OK for her. Well she managed that and much more besides. Despite disappointment in the 100m she found herself lining up in that 200m final against an extra-ordinary field (the first British woman to reach that final since Kathy Cook in 1984). She didn't disgrace herself and managed to keep with them for much of the race only to fade slightly at the end. [biography]