Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Not long to go now...

Right, entry to SSWC06 is paid up.
Flights are booked with good old, "allegedly price-fixing" BA.
Hotel (or is it a boat?) booked to stay in Stockholm.
SIDs are still crappy, but hopefully a bit more pressure and we'll be running less than 70% sag.

Monday, July 17, 2006

New bike, more books

Well, actually the same old same old bike:

That's my old Klein (the first decent mountain bike I owned), resurrected. Brakes are Mono Minis scavenged off my Prince Albert, SIDs are what used to decorate the front end of Nick's Litespeed, stem, bars and doofer are all brand new, and the rest is of varying age. This little beasty is built up for the World Singlespeed Champs in Stockholm this August, assuming I manage to get there and there isn't some onerous requirement (like, say, competence) to exclude drunks like myself and Toby. Tried to persuade Jason to come along too, but he's too busy shooting people/contemplating his dislocated shoulder/sceptical that a bunch of XC jeyboys are really going to drink that much at the moment...
Anyhow, it's pretty light (compared to the 222, anyway) and now the SIDs probably work, and the rear brake isn't pissing fluid everywhere, it should be quite fun. (Went riding on Thursday night in Kent, did a few decent singletrack downhills. Fork had about 0.5mm of travel everywhere, felt completely rock solid. Woke up on Friday morning feeling as beaten up as when I'd been riding my old Inbred with the super-super-rigid fork Brant invented to punish singlespeeders with. Turned out on closer inspection that there was no oil in the fork, so air kept merrily flowing from positive to negative chamber and never bothered to help with damping any of the shocks. Happily, that's now resolved. And I can now use both brakes, too.)
Read Double Fault by Lionel Shriver. This depressed me and put my tennis game off at the weekend, which further depressed me. From having read two Shrivers now, I guess the Secret Formula for her novels is:
Two people fall in love.
Two people get married.
Two people find they resent one another.
Somebody loses an eye.
There are no happy endings.
Meanwhile, reading Conrad's The Secret Agent, which I was surprised to find rather funny. But tales of espionage are always better when leavened with shops selling pornography/prophylactics and imbecile brothers-in-law. And picked up Sillitoe's Saturday Night, Sunday Morning, which for the first chapter alone (man drinks 11 pints and 7 small gins, falls down stairs, vomits over old man's best suit) is well worth the price of admission. Haven't finished that Tim Harman yet...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Things that Internet Dating Has Taught Me

1. All women work in Financial Services.
2. 98% of them are reading The Da Vinci Code.
3. "Open minded" is not necessarily a synonym for "prefers anal sex".
4. There are only three (3) women in the world who are more than 5'4" tall.
5. If they've seen the film Secretary, they think it's really sexy. Rather than something in which Donnie Darko's sister wets herself. Although thinking about it...
6. Don't drink twice as much as her on the first date. Particularly not on an empty stomach. On a hot day. Even if you do think her chin is a bit big, you should still make the effort. (added 25th July 2006)
7. Likewise, don't drink 5 pints of Hoegaarden the night before and then play tennis on the morning of your date, while forgetting to eat anything to stave off your hangover. Otherwise this tends to happen. I suppose 7a must be that women don't like to meet men with the DTs, [mostly]
8. If they're not reading The Da Vinci Code, they're more than likely reading Heat magazine. If neither, you're hopefully onto a winner.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Jolly nice weekend

Friday - Nick and Toby came round and respectively cleaned and tidied the house for me and built up the Klein as a singlespeed. It feels like the best it's ever been set up - that short conrod stem and the Pablo Escobars make it feel really nice and chuckable. Shame the rear brake isn't plumbed in yet, but that should be achieved Tuesday.
Went for a drink down the Oval on Friday night with Jason - felt like death, got home about midnight, had an interesting dream about signals intelligence interrupted at 2am by the cat howling at me. Put it out, went back to bed.
Ran 4.5 miles in 37.5 minutes, spent the afternoon feeling awful and reading Falling Angel. Which is ok, but if you know the twist, the whole book seems like an exercise in form and nothing else.
Further, because it's written in such pared-down language, you never feel enough of the horror that the latter parts should engender in you.
But maybe that's just how it is; I remember missing the first half hour of Angel Heart and thinking how increibly dark and mysterious it was. And then I bought the DVD and realised I hadn't missed the first half hour, I'd missed the first 5 minutes, and it was an awful lot less than I'd given it credit for. Oh well.
To Covent Garden in the evening to see the Camden Chamber Orchestra (James T playing violin). Some Mendelssohn - very nice, and I was familiar with it for a change, which helps. But then some Shostakovich, where the solo cellist kept getting lost (not hard, given how tough the piece sounded) - although since it was Shostakovich, if she'd just barrelled on, probably half of us wouldn't have even noticed. As it was, the frequent pauses and discussions with the conductor made it clear that Something Was Up. And the cellist did look Very Cross. Very muscular too though - I guess that's all that frantic bowing for you.
Had two pints of Stella, got drunk very fast - didn't eat enough on Saturday, and I felt blindsided to have gone off and been cultural, and then had wife-beater foisted on me. Got home about 1 am, meddled with the internet, went to bed.
Up at 7.30 on Sunday, drove to play tennis while not really capable of seeing straight. Lost 6-3, 3-1, I think - bit blurry towards the end. Then drove at pace to Jonny's. Was racing a Ferrari some of the way there - nice to see that you can keep pace in a beat-up old Golf, but then it wasn't the open road. Had some hilarious aggressive driving from Jonny's place in Tooting to Aston Hill (didn't die! woo!) and then did 8 runs.
I must have improved a bit, because 6 of those were on the Black Run, and while the drop off in the woods still fazed me, everything else was fine. I even managed to get over the big root near the top - something that always used to pull me up short. Pathetic that it's taken 3 years to be able to do that, but it's nice to think that I have got better. Plus a lot less brakes on all the rest of it (until cocaine alley, at least). So maybe 6 months off the bike wasn't such a bad thing after all.
Jonny, meanwhile, thinks I look thin. To the point of laughing at me for having spindly little arms. So perhaps I should start fattening myself up again. Or take a set of photos to record spindliness over the year.
Back to Tooting via M40, huge plate of onion bhajia and curry, then back to Beckenham, and home to bed, via an episode of Peep Show. Woke up today feeling shattered. Ah well, good work.
27 press ups Friday, 28 Saturday. Should do 30 today.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Time passes. More culture, occasional dick jokes.

OK. We Need To Talk About Kevin doesn't really have a twist, as far as I'm concerned. It just gets worse and worse, but given you know it'll end bad, it's more a matter of magnitude, rather than a proper twist. Still think it's great though. Read Who Moved My Blackberry this weekend, which is pretty good for 90% of the time, but the promised Dantean twist never arrives, and in all honesty I firmly believe authors should never appear in their own books. Ah well. Have a new plan - let's see if we can introduce the term "creovative" to our own workplace.
Watched some more DVDs whilst enjoying doing nothing and not training. The Libertine is one of those rarities; a Johnny Depp vehicle where he doesn't look beautiful from start to finish. I doubt that it's because the presence of Johnny Vegas makes Depp's cheekbones pale in comparison. Probably more something to do with him getting the pox and his nose falling off in the closing scenes.
To begin with, it's a very difficult film to watch - all grey mud and misery. Plus the procession of actors from Coupling is a little distracting at times. I was almost giving up on the unremitting grimness of it, until a pivotal scene where a dwarf is wheeled onto stage aboard a ten foot wooden phallus. Terrific stuff.
Just watched The 40 Year Old Virgin. Was frankly amazed. Thought it would be the usual filth (American Pie 15, or somesuch) but it turned out to be simultaneously funny, clever and touching. A little overlong at two hours, perhaps, and with a few subplots unresolved (angry customer? scary boss?), but far superior to (say) 40 Nights, or whatever that pretty terrible sex-comedy from a few years back.
Beautiful words. Up there with Peep Show's "A man with socks but no pants looks scary. Like a chicken.":
"You know how I know you're gay?" "Cause you're gay, and you can tell who the gay people are?"
"The cadence of your voice just made my uterus drop out"
"I'm abstinent" "Absent?" "Abstinent"
Otherwise, so far so quiet. Got drunk on Friday night by accident - only a few pints, but this marathon-running body wasn't built for staying sober under such conditions. Wandered around London on Saturday after being thrashed 6-2, 6-0 at tennis, then went to Rachel's for a world cup barbecue. Drank six bottles of Kronenbourg on an empty stomach (smart, smart, smart) and was pretty broken by then, but carried on boozing with the others. Smoked a few cigarettes (why?) I've never smoked, apart from when I'm really very drunk. Played a version of charades I can't attempt to remember now, and passed out on the sofa about midnight - a good, fast drunken party. Woke up at 9 the next day - most sleep I've had for ages, helped Ben's friend Helen tidy the flat (thought she was beautiful, and she was on the rebound from something that sounded awful, but my usual tongue-tied shtick kicked in, so didn't attempt anything), and then staggered around drunkenly until the hangover kicked in properly, after which I was a wibbling wreck. Should have asked Helen for her number, but I doubt there was any chance there. Oh well. At least there's the internet to supply an almost limitless number of rejections. :)
So, what to achieve for the rest of the year? Let's make a list:
  • Get a girlfriend
  • Do 100 press ups
  • Get 1st kyu
  • Email ten insulting questions to Greg Minaar for Stopadoodledoo
  • Get a girlfriend
  • Start training for another marathon
  • SSWC
  • Work on Diet Croydon
  • Figure out thesis for my MA
  • Get Charred & Dangerous to Edinburgh and back

That'll do for now.