October 2003 Archives
October 31, 2003
Casino Avenue on the headline of the year. (scroll down to the newspaper photo)
Note to editors: don't run front covers based on your best guess.
This morning's Metro (right-wing brain washing for the undiscerning commuter) contained an article of unusual horror:
A man of 66 was critically injured in an attack after he told a child not to drop rubbish in the street.The original version of the story from the Evening Standard can be found here.
The man was punched in the head by a man who was with the child.
The attacker, the child and two women who had been walking with them, walked off leaving the pensioner bleeding in the street in Lewisham.
The victim is in a critical condition in hospital. The attack took place at 11.30am on Tuesday.
October 23, 2003
I was reading through some of my occasional blog reads today, when I came across this post on Technovia, the weblog of former MacUser editor Ian Betteridge. He tells the tale of a developer in Brighton which has violated its planning permission and is suffering as a result. From this he draws the rather mysterious conclusion that all property developers are scum.
Now, maybe it's because I've just spent a day in a conference centre full of property developers, and maybe it's because they form a large part of the readership of EG, and thus help keep me employed, but I really don't think property developers are scum. Commercial property development is a risky game. You put all the money up front, often buying sites without the planning permission you need. You then have to run the gauntlet of the council's planning process, which can vary wildly from county to county. You have to agree a Section 106 agreement which, in essence, means you agree to give up some of your profit to improve the locality in a way the council directs, before you see a single penny of that profit. Then, once your building is done, you have to rely on the vagaries of the property letting market. Property development takes years. Misjudge your start point - or have it pushed back too far by the planning process - and suddenly you can find yourself with a multi-million pound investment with no return, as many developers in the City of London are finding right now. (Too many buildings, not enough occupiers in the market.) And you have to put up with the opinion of every member of the public and local newspaper hack who decides that just because something is big and obvious, they understand the issues involved.
Sure, there are a lot of very rich people in property development, as our recent Rich List in EG proved. However, a lot of people lose a lot of money too. Without property developers, our built environment would never more forwards. Have you seen council-built developments? Would you like to live or work in one? No, I thought not. Property developers are businessmen like any other. Sure, some are scum. Most, however, are decent people committed to decent improvements to our built environment.
October 16, 2003
Simon Perry's got some great architectural detail shots over on his Buzznet photoblog:
He's also got some interesting thoughts about Gaudi on his main blog.
I intended to post this yesterday, but just didn't have the time in the end. However, it's worth noting, so I'm doing it today. Accusations of bias from the BBC are commonplace right now, but it's rare that a politician catches a journalist out quite so badly. This actually made me wince with embarrassment as I listened to it yesterday morning. Listen as Michael Howard points out a very obvious bit of bias in the way interviews are handled and the Today interviewer desperately tries to come up with an explanation.
No, the explanation doesn't wash with me, either. It's nice to see that the Tories have at least one members left with some nous about him.
October 15, 2003
I'm now hosting my images on Buzznet here.
The most recent few images should also appear on the top of the right hand column on the main page. Let me know what you think.
October 12, 2003
Sticking with local issues, we have an election coming up for our local council here in Lewisham. I discovered this because the form for the all-postal election dropped through my letterbox the other day.
If I'd really been paying attention, I'd have known about this previously. You see, one of the candidates has been campaigning vigourously for the last few weeks, although I hadn't paid him much attention. Now I know that the election is happening, I've actually been reading his material and, much to my surprise, it's rather good. This guy has identified all the things that have been bugging Lorna and I about this area and is addressing them in his campaign. In fact, they pretty much are his campaign.
So, what of the other candidates? I don't know. I haven't heard a single thing from them. Not one letter, leaflet or door knock. Nothing. You know what? Unless they pull something really spectacular out of their collective hats, the guy that's been doing the work already has my vote. He's local. He's in touch with the local issues that matter. And he's a Liberal Democrat. I've never voted LibDem before, but Mr Andrew Milton, you might just have persuaded me to lose my liberal virginity.
October 11, 2003
The first issue of GRID is in shops now, bundled with the latest issue of Estates Gazette. You can find info on obtaining a copy here.
October 10, 2003
Here's an interesting idea from the Building Centre:
For a short period of time The Building Centre Trust is giving over its gallery to three working exhibits to allow designers, manufacturers, students of design and construction as well as those interested in careers to experience contemporary manufacturing techniques and craftsmanship through live demonstrations.It's running from 13th October to 7th November. I'm planning on taking a look.
Designers are encouraged to come and meet with some of the experts and practitioners and see how their own designs might be turned into constructed objects.
The Times has published an article that reminds me why I find social dancing so enjoyable and competition dancing so utterly ridiculous.
Have You Met My Twirlfriend? (Only accessible in the UK, unless you have a subscription)
The article is asking if dancing could ever be a popular TV sport. It points out, quite rightly, that it seems peculiar that it isn't given that the participants tend to be young, attractive and very, very fit. The answer to this conundrum is buried in the depths of the article:
“I don’t like the dresses to be too sexy, too open,” says one Russian participant. “That,” he says, pointing to one plunging neckline, “is vulgar. Too much.” Later, a teacher points to a girl sporting a perfectly attractive quantity of midriff and shakes her head: “Look at that belly — hanging out everywhere. She’s not going to make it.”The competition circuit remains mired in ridiculous codes of dress and appearance that owe nothing to modern fashion and which detract from the sensuality of performance. Social dancing, on the other hand, has none of this, leaving people to look good and feel good as they enjoy the movement and music.
competitive dancing could make an excellent TV sport, and encourage our increasingly obese population to get up and shake their booty, but it needs to let go of pointless anachronisms first.
October 6, 2003
Another man dead over Iraq, with another link to the BBC. It looks like suicide, but read it for yourselves:
James Forlong was sacked from his Sky News job after a BBC documentary revealed that his report from a submarine "firing on Baghdad" was in fact just library footage and that Forlong was actually on a US aircraft carrier.
October 5, 2003
October 3, 2003
I was doing some of that random blog-surfing that happens when I'm blocked on a particular feature, and I discovered this rather illuminating article by American journalist Jessica Harbour. She talks about the fact that many journalists seem to be frustrated novelists. It's certainly true of some of them. One of my colleagues quit to write her novel, another claimed to be doing so, but turned up again working for The Telegraph a matter of weeks later. I've had a short story or two published and have extensive non-journalistsic gaming writing in print. I'm sure many of my colleagues are frantically scribbling away on their bestsellers in their spare time.
However, there some reasons why I disagree with Jessica's idea. For one, I think that for many people being a journalist is an end in its own right. It's one of the most competitive professions to get into in the UK, with many, many times the applicants for starter level positions than are actually available. (I once saw some quite frightening figures on the number of journalism and media jobs available compared to the number of journalism and media studies places available in universities, but I can't find them on the net, sadly.) There are enough ambitions within that field to distract most people from the idea of writing the great English novel: becoming an editor, getting your own column, getting on a national paper, etc.
Secondly, once you're writing for a living it gets harder and harder to go home and spend a few more hours writing things with no hope of payment in the short term. Jessica's ahead of the game here, because she actually has written her novel. I find it increasingly difficult to write anything without immediate prospect of payment. This blog is part of an effort to overcome that mental block.
Lastly, I think the harsh reality of working to daily, weekly or even monthly deadlines sometimes drains the glamour out of publishing for journalists. The need to fill those pages (or websites) to a fixed deadline is a harsh, repetitive grind. This is the reason so many journalists become cynical and grumpy, and more than a few turn to drink.
So, yes, I think there are aspirant novelists amongst the hacks of the world. I also think there are aspirant novelists in most professions. Yeah, there are probably more in journalism than most professions, but it's far from a common dream. Journalism is good at crushing the dreams out of you. The skill of being a good journalist is hanging onto them.
From my own point of view, I'm a journalist. I enjoy being a journalist. I enjoy researching and writing features, and I enjoy combining the visual and textual elements to make up a section of a magazine. If I hit upon an idea for a novel I really, really want to write, I'll go for it. Until then, I'm a journalist who moonlights as a writer.
October 2, 2003
Don't you love badly translated adverts emailed to you out of the blue? Take this masterful piece of work advertising a tango course:
Hi! a "Tango Holiday in Italy" with Argentine
theachers is something that attire you in this moment?
it can be a weekend or a complete week in an Island or
another Italian place.
How very tempting.
October 1, 2003
This chap has a particularly accurate picture of a shopping centre just up the road from our flat on his blog. Not quite the tourist picture of London.
Does anyone have a clue what this comment concerning Rosbifs and "Stalwart French" is all about?
I haven't deleted it, simply because it's far more amusing that most loony entries.
Remember me commenting about the comments box slanging match between two journalists on the online blog? Well, the comments seem to have mysteriously vanished. Given that the blog has been having problems with people abusing the comments box, perhaps they've decided to put their own house in order, too.