25 November 2005

Another wedding...

I'm off to another wedding tomorrow. In Newcastle. One of my first friends from St Andrews. It should, and will, be awesome. I don't think I'm going to take as many photos though. It's taken me 2 1/2 weeks to get all the Ireland ones up, after all.

24 November 2005

I've renamed this post for a few reasons: 1) It's been updated 2) It wasn't just pictures, as the previous title suggested 3) Can't remember

I wrote yesterday, and it felt incredible. I built characters and found out stuff about my characters that I hadn't thought of before as fingers hit keys and words kept coming. It excited and frustrated me at the same time... like in Force 10 from Navarone when they blow up the dam and at first nothing happens; a few cracks here and there and a dribble of water, but no mad rush. I'm frustrated at the lack of mad rush. But it's good trickle at the moment and it felt so good to overcome some of the various mental blocks that had been plaguing me that the trickles are great and bring on the dam bursting. Sadly today was an errand day, lacking in those large chunks of time needed to bring about dam-bursting literature, so I've been taking notes when I get the chance instead.

Enough babbling... but it's so great. Anyway. Last night after feeling very accomplished I met some old friends for dinner in Soho - nice fish restaurant: had lobster tails, which I LOVE. And just generally caught up with the Hedges brothers (Jamie & Blair) and Hignett. Most of us will be at the wedding in Newcastle this weekend but it was nice to chat without having a massive wedding going on in the background.

One of my errands today was picking up some pics from the developers, including a roll that I'd thought I'd lost from Ireland, and I'm very glad I found. Sadly I was out of focus for my only really cool "team" photo, something I'm really pissed off about. In any case, here're a bunch of pics from all over the place:
IrelandThe out-of-focus team pic. From left to right: James Wicken, Georgie Wicken, Andrew Hendry, Matt Wicken, James Miller, Suman Wicken & Luke Potter. Curse my lack of focus skills. Brilliant mates to travel with, though, and they'll always be in-focus to me (cue cheesy vomit mime).

We thought these were the Skelligs, but we were mistaken. I like this picture though. I have no idea what the islands are called, either. Answers in comments.

The southern coast of the Ring of Kerry. Quite pretty, really. It's cool being able to watch the weather in another county (across the water, those hills in the rain, that's County Cork) and realise that either you've just had that weather, are about to have that weather, or some totally different weather's about to hit you.
St AndrewsLow tide always gives some cool texture opportunities. On the left is the big pool outside the aquarium. I don't quite "get" black & white yet, but I really like the photos on this roll - almost half of them are ok, which is good for me. That said, I didn't actually attempt to take pictures of people. So maybe I was cheating a bit.

The infamous West Sands on a crowded Sunday. It was unbelievably cold - those hills and the forest obscured in the distance? That's an ice mist. Yet everyone was out kiting, playing football, walking the dog and allsorts. Lunacy, but admirable lunacy.

The harbour from the balcony of my old flat. Ice mist in the hills. I really do miss St Andrews, and especially this flat. But I'm glad I left.
LondonHammersmith Bridge. I took this on my way to the station to get the tube to get the train to get up to St Andrews.

This is the river by my house at low tide. The actual print for this scan is overexposed. This is one of a set of three, all of which have much higher contrast and saturation on the prints. This is the only digital one that seems to have balance. I almost know what I'm talking about, but not quite.

This is a car driving in front of my house at high tide. I expected it to flood. It didn't - I'm really chuffed I got this picture - I think it's wicked. I don't know why this hippy van has been parked outside for so long but I'm glad it got away from tidal ravages when it did.

I babble too much about my pictures. It's because I'm not used to them and I don't know what I'm doing enough to chat about apeture and shutter speeds and other posh things. I disappoint myself more often than I please myself. Being more comfortable with words, I feel better babbling; attempting to explain. I don't know if it works or if it's just nonsense. If it seems arrogant, me trying to explain, it's not meant to be. It's a case of me not understanding the medium yet, not knowing what is good and what's rubbish, and therefore trying to justify my decisions in posting them. I put up what I like. There. That was easy. I should just leave it at that. But I probably won't.

22 November 2005

Ireland SLR pics. And some other things as well.

These I've mulled over for awhile... bore my vast (not) readership with more pics from Ireland? Well, I really like these. I'm proud of them, darnit, so you'll just have to grin and bear it or wait until I post another nonsense about British Gas or frog-gigging or something.

This is Luke P in front of the parish church in Castletownsend. It was empty on All Soul's Day, and I couldn't work out why, until I discovered it of Church of Ireland as opposed to Roman Catholic.

The harbour at Castletownsend, the morning we left - I was taking pictures while everyone tidied the flat. Oops.
I really like this - even though the colours aren't that vivid, you have the stunning Ring of Kerry coastline in the background, and James Wicken returning from a quick pee in the foreground. Nice juxtaposition.

This was just lucky - and I'm sure there's something wrong with it because I think I like it too much for it to be as good or nice as I think it is. If you spot what's wrong with it, don't tell me.

A close up of the Skelligs - they're really jaggedy, don't you think? Norman Ackroyd RA, one of my favourite print artists, has done some really spectacular studies of these, like this one.

Looking out towards the Skelligs from Bray Head (odd name, that). Should I have risked life and limb and stood right out on that bit of turf, high above the pounding surf and very, very sharp rocks, just to get a cleaner shot? No. Just a hobby guys. There's no one standing in front of a tank in Tiananmen Square with their shopping. Anyway, I still like the shot. I even like the foreground. So there.

In other news, I think I have a job. Temporary, but it means that I'll have some form of income. I'll know more when the 'rents return.

Oh, and go buy the The Best of the Beta Band Music double CD. Their music is awesome and the extra CD, live at Shepherd's Bush from their farewell tour, is incredible.

21 November 2005

Raisins, movies, shop-cricket & frog-gigging... it all adds up to a wonderful and bizarre weekend.

So, back in St Andrews. Was it weird? Shouldn't I be packing? Am I really drinking Dom Perignon '96 while I type this first sentence? Well, the answer is yes to those last two questions. I should be packing, and I do have a glass of seriously fine champagne at my side. But in the misleading spirit of blog entries, it will not be at my side throughout. In fact, it is a sad truth that this first paragraph will be the only one accompanied by bubbly, and that the rest will most likely be written on a train where I mull over the truths I uncovered over the weekend. Or try to recover from my hangover. Or both. Probably both.

I must say though, while I still have bubbly, the following things:

I love St Andrews

Gayden Metcalfe is a total fucking legend.

Bad Santa is a film of genius.

Shop-cricket is the greatest sport of the 21st century.

Hope is not lost.

The new Harry Potter is the best yet (film, not book).

Ben Murray is the world's best shop-cricketer.

These make little sense now but will be explained, not necessarily in order, throughout the course of this post. I just needed to get it out while I still had the bubbly. I'm writing this at 119am. The rest will be written later in the day. Once I finish packing. I need to pack. Because I'm going home tomorrow. It is odd to leave home to go home.

It's now 10 to 11am. I'm on the train and have been tring to sleep but keep waking myself up snoring. Which can't be very pleasant for the people around me, and it is a busy train. I'm also in the "quiet" coach. Which means that while infuriating American tourists speak at inconsiderate volume I can't put my headphones on and drown them out with my iPod. It's one of the more shallow levels of hell, for sure, but continued exposure is indeed torture. I'm surprised the US government isn't using it on terror suspects. Or maybe they are - maybe everyone in the misnamed quiet coach is a terror suspect and the babbling tourists are undercover CIA, chatting inanely about their holiday until someone in the carriage, unable to take their continued questioning of the car rental system, confesses to every terrorist act commited on every continent for the last 25 years. If they keep it up, they will have a queue of confessors.

So, good weekend really. Good enough to need more sleep on the train. Friday night was dinner at the Seafood Restaurant in St Monans, which was awesome. Lots of good food and good wine, followed by pubs. Stevie Mac at Bridges then made the most dreadful cocktails in the history of the world. From the look of it, there were about ten shots of vodka, five tequila & two blue bols topped up with pineapple juice and shaken maniacally. It was then poured into 3 waiting glasses and emerged the colour of a radioactive slush puppy. We were informed it was called a legwarmer. We responded that it would be better described as a stomach churner. Put off by that we switched to Guinness and went home light-footed and very drunk.

I went for a run again in the morning.

Saturday was more effort finding everyone I needed to catch up with. In this case it was the lovely Louisa, who always makes me smile. She's off to Australia today. Very exciting. We had a pizza for lunch and caught up on the gossip.

Then an incredible rugby match - New Zealand vs. England. It's a shame England didn't win but what an awesome game. All there agreed it was one of the greatest games of rugby anyone had ever seen. Sadly Ireland vs. Australia wasn't quite as fun. Somethings missing from Ireland and it's O'Driscoll. They just weren't as exciting as they have been in the past 4 years. It was a shame. Of course, while watching loads of rugby one drinks lots of beer. So on our way again we ordered food and more beer, culminating in Guinness accompanied by chips n' mayo. Too much mayo. Ben and I needed whisky to clean our systems, so we went and bothered Andy's lovely ex, Kirsten, at the Russell Hotel. This was great fun, probably moreso for Ben and I than Kirsten, as she was trying to work and we were trying to make her laugh.

So we left and bought beer and rented Bad Santa, starring Billy Bob Thornton. This is not a movie for the easiliy offended. But it is one of the funniest films I've seen in a very long time. Dark, cynical and miserable, this is the greatest movie to watch if you're getting fed up with Christmas, or just one of those people who hates how early the decorations go up. You have to see it. It is also life-affirming, not because it has a heart-warming, life-affirming message. Oh God, no. But because it shows you a bunch morally retarded reprobates whose lives are so unbelievable dreadful that you can only feel better about how wonderful your life is. Honest. If you watch this movie and think for a second how good they have it, then I weep for you.

Then we went and played darts in the Whey Pat Tavern.

Sunday was Raisin Sunday and for those who don't know, Raisin Sunday is binge drinking raised to a nihilistic art form. A student tradition that has been bastardised into a drinking marathon where the basic premise is that older students (academic parents) get younger students (academic children) drunk. The goals are sex and oblivion in no particular order. In some cases parties start as early as 9 am. I saw someone passed out at noon, having had 17 shots already. Every year I see it I realise I'm maturing when my own great memories are overshadowed by the self-destructive reality of it.

One of my academic sons was up for the weekend and I met him for a pint while he was still some semblance of sober. He'd travelled up for his academic son, my grandson, to get Raisin Revenge on him. Knowing the carnage to follow I retreated for the better part of valour and went to watch Scotland play terrible rugby at Ben's.

After the rugby I needed cheering up. So I went to the new Harry Potter movie. On my own because I am comfortable in my own geekiness to sit in a cinema and watch a movie aimed at an audience 17 years younger than me. And no one else wanted to go with me. It's brilliant. The best of the bunch and I recommend that you reach in, grab hold of the inner child and go along. That said, it's pretty dark, so make sure your inner child isn't easily freaked.

Dinner and shop-cricket followed the film. I've mentioned shop cricket before, but only in passing. Here I even have photos. We even got teams together and scored properly. We had some newcomers to the game, whisky afficionados Rob & Dave. A good hour and a half of intense gaming in a three match test. I barely know what that means but we played two matches and won both, so decided to go to the pub. There were no breakages, in spite of our best efforts. The Italian wines behind the wickets did look a bit worse for the wear to be honest, and closely resembled fallen bowling pins. Both Ben M & the infamous Harry Watkins were on storming form. The photos aren't great quality (taken with the camera on my phone) but I think they get across the general idea. The pub that followed was the Castle Tavern, newly considered cool because of its incredibly cheesy jukebox (I've known this for a long time and have been drinking there for 11 years). It was full of very drunken and quite subdued students. I was expecting rampant snogging and dancing on the tables. That's what it would have been in my day (insert grumpy old man harrumphing here). One of the guys I was with, Ben McLeod, was in first year with me. We worked out that it was our 12th Raisin Sunday. 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 00, 01, 02, 03, 04 & 05. Frightening.

It was here that I bumped into the legendary Gayden Metcalfe, complete with a lynx fur hat and a massive hug. I should explain. Gayden was one of my favourite customers at Luvians. One of the few of the priviledged students that actually possessed depth of character enough to play the social system and have fun with it rather than becoming a slave to it. She parties hard and loves it. It means she's taking a little longer with her degree but I'm hardly one to comment. Anyway, Gayden was telling me about her summer and the sport of frog-gigging. Now, this is pretty surreal. Chatting to an impeccably decked out lady, complete with fur hat, surrounded by drunkards in Diesel, Armani, Prada & Pink, in one of the sleaziest pubs in town, and she's describing frog-gigging. Because I'll be honest, I hadn't a fucking clue what frog-gigging was. So she told me in her southern belle twang. You get a canoe and you go out into the swamp at night with a spotlight (or in her case, flashlight). It's a canoe with an outboard motor, ultra swamphick chic. You have a big spear and you listen for frogs. They make that bass ribbit noise apparently, you keep a sharp eye out for alligators. There are lots of those, and they're bigger than the canoe. And their eyes shine red in the flashlight. Which, you know, is scary. Anyway, avoiding alligators, you follow the noise of the frog songs and when you get to the frog you spear it and have frog legs for breakfast. I reckon most of the other girls, and quite a few of the guys, in the pub that night would have stood on the nearest barstool and shrieked castrato had they seen an alligator's eyes glowing red in the night. Or a bullfrog for that matter. So yeah, huge props to Gayden. Made my night, I liked Raisin Sunday again and had hope for my partying successors.

So here I am on the train, a comedy of errors involving overcrowding, too much luggage, muslim clerics in the wrong seats, & loud Americans (who, I swear to God, saw a sheep out the window and screamed "Oh my god, look! It's a SHEEP!!). Now, if you've ever been on the train between Edinburgh and London, you'll know that there are a lot of sheep to be seen. They're pretty ubiquitous to the journey. Everywhere. It makes one think the legendary Graham Greene wrote fantasy, as the title of one his novels is The Quiet American, and I've yet to find one. Myself included. I shut up pretty quick when others are around though, for fear of being guilty by association.

So that's my overbearing, overwordy gibberish about the weekend. There were some downsides, of course. The same as when I used to visit London (as opposed to live there); I couldn't see everyone I wanted to - so to Ellie H and Captain Crawford, my most immense apologies for missing you. And Malia, babe, I'm sorry I didn't get to cook some food for you - I'll make it up to you on the 29th, I promise.

I'm pretty tired. I'm thankful I was organised and actually booked my seats. I want, some day, to drive the top, coastal half of this east coast line with my camera and take photos of the coast as it is stunning. I'm glad heading south is heading home this time. Was St Andrews weird? Yeah, but no moreso than usual.