Songs of Love

Pale, pubescent beasts
Roam through the streets
And coffee shops.

Their prey gather in herds
With stiff knee-length skirts
And white ankle-socks.

But while they search for a mate,
My type hibernate in bedrooms above.
Composing their songs of love.

Slow progress on the house. Initial draft contracts have been approved, and our solicitor has sent “Additional preliminary enquiries” on to the vendors, whatever that means. No news yet on an exchange date, much less a completion date. Ah well.

In the meantime, though, I’ve made a start on clearing out all the junk I’ve accumulated, both over the last 5 years living here, and in the years before. When we moved in, a whole bunch of stuff was chucked, still boxed, in the study. If I were being truly ruthless, I’d chuck it without looking through it. Fortunately though, I’m not quite that insane. There’s a whole bunch of stuff in there of interest:

  • 10 free tickets to Satan’s Hollow nightclub, Manchester (use by 31st December 2000). I went there for the grand opening and nearly knocked Richard O’Brien flying after drunkenly stumbling into him. He was utterly gracious about it. Good times.
  • Entrance tickets to Empire State Building, International Visitor’s Invitation to the US Senate, and assorted other stuff from the first time we went to America in 2002. Been back several times, to different parts of the country, and thoroughly enjoyed myself every time.
  • A large collection (upwards of 100) of “Free dial-up internet” discs. I started collecting these when they were common in the belief they might be valuable some day. In fifty years or so I’ll see if I’m right.

Stuff I won’t be keeping includes:

  • Every payslip I was issued, July 1999-June 2005. Puts what I’m paid now into perspective all right. Whether I’m underpaid now, or was then, or whatever, I’m amazed that I managed to survive on so little. Then I remember I survived by getting into huge amounts of debt I’ve only recently paid off. Time to shred these, I think.
  • Half a dozen assorted PCI and AGP video cards, along with a small mountain of other PC components, including a CD-Rewriter drive that must have cost me a week’s wages, and a DVD-ROM drive. There’s a couple of hard disks here too. One I can’t access and the other seems to be a backup of my PC Circa 2004. Straight to the bin for this little lot, except for an 802.11g WiFi PCI card I don’t remember buying. That might still be useful some day.
  • A Compaq T1500 Thin Client PC! For a short while this acted as a box to display video on my TV. Now there’s more processing power in my mobile phone.
  • A stack of videotapes. I’ve no idea what’s on them, not having owned a VCR in about four years.

Amazing the stuff that just gets put away in the belief it might come in useful some day. In recent times I’ve become a lot more pro-active about getting rid of unnedded cruft. Just as well, it seems. I’d have run out of space to live in if I’d ket accumulating it at the same rate.

Mansions of Los Feliz

Well it’s a pretty bad place outside this door –
I could go out there but I don’t see what for.
And I’m happy living here in the dark
On the edge of my mind,
And it’s nobody else’s business.

Now it’s just me myself and the secrets that
Live within the walls
Of the mansions of Los Feliz

The sky is falling!

Like many people in this country I spent much of yesterday evening watching the television trying to work out exactly what the United Kingdom has let itself in for. And, while doing so, becoming increasingly puzzled at the reactions of both pundits and the general public at the news that Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats had agreed to form a coalition to govern the country.

The election on Thursday had just one concrete result last week – no one party had won the confidence of a wide-enough ranging cross section of the country. While the Conservatives could have formed a minority government, the huge risk was that any bill that was in the least bit controversial (as almost all important new laws tend to be) would fail to pass – a lame-duck administration.

What are we left with then? It was clear from the off that a Labour – Lib Dem coalition could never achieve enough of a majority to get anything passed. They’d have  to water down anything or make huge concessions to the smaller parties, causing problems in the long term. There’s probably an element of truth in the complaints from both sides that the other wasn’t taking things seriously enough. There was just too fragility.

So, we’re left with what we’ve got, which has seemed inevitable since the results came in. Grass roots Lib Dems and Tories alike have recoiled at the news. It seems all too easy to dismiss the Liberals as having sold out or the Conservatives of being desperate. And while the parties disagree with each other on a great many things, then at least the things they can agree on will stand a good chance of getting done.

I do wonder if for some Liberal Democrat supporters the news of the coalition has been taken so badly because for so long they have been able to know that their MPs are in opposition and can therefore disagree with anything done by the party in power. A sort of underdog syndrome, if you will. Things from the ruling side will be very different and change will be feared. However, that being said, a fixed-term parliament will help this – grass roots  activists have five years to be convinced.

For me? I’m going to wait and see. A track record in government will make or break the minority party. Whichever it is, it’s going to be an interesting few years in politics.

You can call me Al

A man walks down the street  –
It’s a street in a strange world.
Maybe it’s the Third World,
Maybe it’s his first time around.
He doesn’t speak the language.
He holds no currency.
He is a foreign man.

I’ve voted. Have you? The campaign here has certainly been interesting. Labout appear to have given up entirely on the constituency, leaving just the Lib Dems and the Tories to slug it out. And slug it out they have – well, in a way. Seems to me that the Conservatives have done nothing but sling mud at their opponents from what I’ve seen from meeting the candidates. Everyone else has calmly stood back and explained their positions and policies. Well, it helped in one way – it reinforced the views I already had.

All that was left was to vote – and that wasn’t straightforward either, at least not as easy as it should have been. When I went, queues were stretching out of the polling station – an encouraging sign at least. However, because the other half is out of town, I’d been entrusted with her proxy vote, and that was where the problems began.

I never carry my polling card – it’s not necessary. I was able to cast my own vote easily enough, but the proxy vote? Bugger me. First problem – you’re not allowed to take more than one set of ballot papers into a polling booth at once, so I had to queue up, cast my own vote, and then queue up again to collect the second set of papers. Secondly, I didn’t have the proxy polling card. The text on it said I didn’t need it.

“You can’t vote without the proxy card,” the presiding officer told me. I argued back, and eventually ID was demanded of me (which I produced, again protesting). Finally I was allowed to cast a proxy vote, but what an uphill struggle!

Ah well, it’s over now. Fingers crossed for a happy result tomorrow.

Starman

Sempre estar lá e ver ele voltar-
Não era mais o mesmo mas estava em seu lugar.
Sempre estar lá e ver ele voltar
O tolo teme a noite como a noite
Vai temer o fogo…
 
He came, he surveyed, he went away. And so did the bank’s surveyor too. The net result of which we have a mortgage offer, and know exactly what’s wrong with our house. The homebuyer’s report is an amazingly arse-covering document; a whole bunch of things that I hadn’t even thought of as being worthy of my attention are flagged up as “Urgent! Needs sorting right now!”. These things include that the fuse box is old (but still servicable; the wiring’s reasonably recent), there’s no banister on the bottom three stairs, and that the doors have non-safety glass in them. The one thing I didn’t know about was that there’s some damp in the extension, but it doesn’t seem to be anything that’ll cost a lot to fix.
 
I’m glad I paid a completely independent surveyor; my surveyor had the ability to spell complicated words like “Asbestos” (the garage roof’s made of it; given it’s over twenty years old that’s not surprising) and to count to four – the number of bedrooms –  unlike the bank’s guy who counted three, and also decided that the house was worth less than we’d offered for it. Happily on that point the bank seem to have ignored him and decided to lend the amount requested anyway (and my own surveyor, who didn’t know the offer price, had agreed with me on value spot-on).
So, it progresses. And given the competency level of the bank’s surveyor, I wonder just what else in the way of fail we’re going to encounter.