Good News is No News (2)

When you’ve been writing a blog for as long as I have you can’t help the same titles coming up again and since WordPress fails to inform me of the fact I did my own search and found this post on the London Olympics which contains the immortal line, ‘You can’t ruin the same duvet cover twice.’  Well with the hindsight of seven years I’m not so sure: I managed to create a large black blot in the shape of Ireland simply by leaving a felt writing pen on the bed.  But this is all by the by.  Right now bad news seems to be everywhere, both nationally and globally and what with knife crime, sexual assault, plane crashes and global warming it’s hard to find even one bit of good news.  But there’s a reason for that, as this Stephen Pinker article points out – bad news travels faster than anything.  (Actually I think that was Douglas Adams who invented a spaceship powered by bad news.)

The Pinker article below suggests that things are not as bad as they seem; in fact many negative phenomena are on the decline.

I am recovering slowly from this post-viral fatigue but still not good.  Frankly I feel like a plant that’s had all its sap removed.

Kirk out

I Have Taken to my Bed

I don’t recall the last time I was ill enough to stay in bed for more than a few hours, but today makes the third day I have inhabited my pit.  The first day I slept till about 3 pm, the second till about 2, and today I may get up after lunch but we’ll see how it goes.  Apparently the cough that seized my lungs and held them hostage was no mere random mucus but a Malevolence that had been Doing The Rounds, grasping the respiratory systems of the vulnerable and forcing them to expectorate mightily.  But it wasn’t the cough that carried me off, it was the post-infection fatigue; and had I not heard from a reliable source that this infection ‘wipes people out’ for long periods I’d have wondered what on earth was happening.  Still I suppose we should be thankful that it doesn’t literally wipe out huge populations like the plague or the flu epidemic after the First World War.

OH is looking after me beautifully, the breakfast of my choice now sits in front of me consisting of toast, roibos and herbal expectorant (the toast may have been a mistake though as the state my mouth is in, it feels like chewing breeze blocks.)  In the meantime I write random thoughts, do the crossword and watch stuff on Netflix.

See you on the other side.

Kirk out





Occasionally a TV series leaves you thinking, what the hell happened there? and the latest Beeb drama, FatherMotherSon, was one of these.  From the trailer I thought it looked a bit trashy but as OH and son frequently tell me, I make up my mind very quickly about things.  I’m tempted to retort, ‘that’s because my mind works faster than yours,’ but I restrain myself.

Well!  I’d like to review it for you but that would be asking a bit much at this point.  What I experienced was a load of very short scenes, seemingly unconnected with each other and involving a variety of characters and locations.  I realise that short scenes and seemingly unconnected characters are a staple of TV drama these days, but this one seemed determined to push the trope to its limits and the effect was bewildering.  An American businessman arrives in England, an older journalist (stereotype of the old-faithful dogged type, except this one’s a woman) resigns from a media corporation while everyone watches her silently, a woman accepts a gift on the river bank from a homeless man and they embrace.  Various other characters spin around in situations too fast to recall, like faces on a merry-go-round.  Eventually it transpires that the American businessman (a stereotypical asshole) is the young man’s father, arrived to take over the media corporation and show his son what a terrible job he’s been doing, and the woman is his divorced wife and the young man’s mother.

Some journalist takes pictures of the mother embracing the homeless man and sends them to the father in an act of blackmail.  This is supposed to be a terrible thing but I was thinking, who cares?  So your divorced wife embraces a homeless man – so what?  Then the young man goes up to his huge, soulless plate-glass penthouse, orders a prostitute, has weird sex and in the morning is seen snorting cocaine before going down to his car.  He then has a meltdown: crashes the car, screams, bleeds, vomits, collapses, then drags himself up in the lift whereupon he screams, bleeds, vomits and collapses in the doorway.  In the final scene he is taken to hospital where for some bizarre reason they cut off the top of his skull (are they trepanning?) before removing the skin to expose the brain.  Why?  None of this makes any sense!  And unlike other dramas which may not yet make sense but you have confidence that they will, I have no confidence that this will become comprehensible – and worse, nor do I care.

I may watch an other episode out of sheer dumb curiosity but unless it improves radically I doubt I’ll stay the course.

Kirk out





I Am Squeaking To You Today…

I am speaking to you today from what I am pleased to call my study, with a brand-new, left-handed, all-bells-and-whistles, wireless mouse.  This has the added satisfaction of being freecycled and so emits tiny squeaks of environmental righteousness at suitable intervals, which is most gratifying.

Day one of Project Fast went reasonably well: I experienced a pit of hunger around 9.30 but stuck it out and drank some water instead.  The hunger abated and by 10.30 I didn’t feel particularly ravenous, though I ate anyway.  So far so good; today I’m going for 10.00 as I’m a bit knackered, but will aim to ramp up to 11 next week.

The new mouse is properly left-handed, which means the buttons are reversed.  This takes a bit of getting used to, though not too much as we had a similarly-reversed mouse a while back; but it set me thinking about skills we learn and how these come back to you even after a period of years.  For example, when I got my piano keyboard, even though I hadn’t touched a piano for years my fingers instantly remembered the pieces I used to play.  This is totally awesome when you think about it and I can’t help wondering about how this connects with evolution.  Will we have more flexible thumbs in the future because of using mobile phones?  I know young people have much more movement in their digits, thumbing the length and breadth of a keyboard with amazing dexterity, but I struggle to use a phone in one hand (there is often an issue with size, these things being designed by and for men, but mine’s quite a small model, so it isn’t that.)

In the meantime, I’m trying very hard to think about Brexit.  It’s hard to imagine a greater disaster in post-war Britain and we have cautiously stocked up on a few non-perishable items just in case.

Kirk out

Are You Shriven?

I don’t know if you had pancakes yesterday – we did: a sort of mash-up of vegan mess and egg-based loveliness on which I had peanut butter and then maple syrup with lemon juice.  For yesterday was Shrove Tuesday, shrove being the past participle of shrive which means to be cleansed of all sins.  And so begins the period of Lent which is traditionally a fast.  Not that people fasted from all food during that time, they mostly gave up meat and had thin, simple dishes like soup.  When enforced such things lead to misery and resentment but when undertaken voluntarily and in a spirit of experiment they can produce real growth; so in that spirit I have decided to spend my forty days and nights building up to a full 24-hr fast.

I have always been very bad at fasting: I’m OK for an hour or two after hunger bites, but then I start to get scared.  I watch myself for signs of faintness, afraid that I might collapse.  This is not a rational fear as I have plenty of reserves and I’m probably good for at least 36 hours if I really need to be, but the fear is there nonetheless.  So my Lent experiment is as follows:

Week 1: fast till 10/11 o’clock

Week 2: fast till 12/1 o’clock

Week 3: fast till 3/4

Week 4: fast till 5/6

Week 5: till 6

Week 6: till 7

Then the remaining four days will alternate between 24-hr fast and eating normally.

I will only be doing this on weekdays; at the weekend I will go back to eating normally.  The aim is not to lose weight specifically, nor to eat less, but simply to extend the period wherein I am able to go without food.

Why?  Why in god’s name am I putting myself through this?  Am I panicking about a no-deal Brexit?  Well, no, not really, though we are taking a few precautions; getting in some dried food, planning the veg for the garden, and so on.  No, it’s more in the spirit of personal development.  It bugs me that whenever I try to fast I hit a brick wall and have to stop.  This is something I want to achieve in my life, for general health as well as personal development, so I’ve decided to work up to it and the period of Lent is an excellent opportunity to do so.  And yes, I will probably get in a supply of chocolate for Easter Sunday!

So today I’m fasting till 10.30.  It’s now 10.01 and I’m struggling a bit.  I’ll keep you posted.

Kirk out




The Taming of the Shrewd

When OH was little they visualised a shrew being like a mouse with its nose sharpened: I like that idea as it sounds like a good Just So story.  I could even write it: ‘Once upon a time there was a mouse who stuck its nose into a pencil sharpener…’ I won’t go into the misogynistic symbolism of the shrew, but it’s interesting to reflect on the history of the human nose.  Why, when someone is inquisitive, do we call them nosy?  It surely can’t be coincidence that every inquisitive person I’ve ever known (when I’ve remembered to check) has a large or very pointy nose.  I guess it figures that if you’re curious about the world and not afraid to – well, poke your nose in – you’d have a large or pointy thing keeping your eyes apart.  (My nose, in case you’re interested, is not large or pointy but it is hard; a fact OH never fails to point out when assessing my character.)

A propos of this it occurred to me, watching last night’s Louis Theroux  investigation into sexual abuse on American campuses, that he has a very large nose – and there’s no denying that Theroux is an inquisitive person who has made a career out of poking his nose into other people’s business.  He goes to places and asks questions most of us would feel very uncomfortable asking.  In this programme he follows a couple of cases where men accused of sexual assault on campus were acquitted by the courts but found guilty by the university and suspended from study.

The programme puts us the position of a jury hearing from witnesses, Theroux acting as both defence and prosecution.  He is an expert on getting people to talk and allowing the viewer to draw their own conclusions.  Of course this is not a trial and what we see is only what the programme chooses to tell us; we have to remember that.


The first guy, an Afghan man who came from a refugee camp to America and made it to Yale, initially appeared quiet and unassuming but later on, doubt was thrown on his story by someone who had previously been an advocate for him.  The truth of these stories is very hard to piece together for the simple reason that only the two people present in the room actually know what happened.  So you have to fall back on who you think is the more credible witness.

I ended up completely changing my mind about the Afghan guy and seeing him as smooth and manipulative; but there’s a wider point here about how you deal with situations where the law cannot satisfactorily establish innocence or guilt.  Rape and sexual assault are horrible things and you can’t help wondering whether the ponderous and long-drawn-out procedures of a courtroom are the best place to establish the truth and dispense justice.  Perhaps for more minor offences we need a different environment, something akin to family courts, perhaps – an environment that’s less hostile and adversarial.  There’s just something a little bizarre on finding a shelf full of files detailing court procedures on whether a man did or did not hold a woman’s hands above her head and stick his mitt down her pants.  It’s not that it’s out of proportion; it’s somehow alien to the original situation.  I don’t mean to trivialise such events which are horrid; I just wonder.

Kirk out