Our Friend the Vulture

The vulture is a picky bird;
He picks a creature from a herd
And waits until it’s fallen dead,
Then perches on its swollen head
And pokes his beak beneath its hide
To peck at offal tucked inside
Of all the stuff the sun has fried.

Read More · 31 July 2005 · · Whatever


I already spent my anniversary credits on the blogging birthday, but there must be a few in reserve for today: it’s six years since Speedysnail was launched.

Read More · 30 July 2005 · Site News

Charlie Brooker on TV drinkers: “[Shane McGowan’s] face, following years of hardcore glugging, now resembles a puff-pastry model of the moon, speckled with broken teeth.”

More Movie Madness

Continuing the catching-up round-up.

Read More · 29 July 2005 · · Film

Tom Coates asks “Where are all the UK start-ups?” and prompts some fascinating replies.

Where are we going to get our daily dose of Goth Whitlam now? Good luck with the new direction, Graham.

Movie Madness

Apart from the Hitchhikers preview (because it was a rare chance to get in first) and Revenge of the Sith (because I had to write about it right away, before over-analysing it) I haven’t reviewed any movies here this year. There are two reasons: one, I told Paul and Nic I’d do some reviews for nofreelist.com, which meant not doing them here first (but kept getting side-tracked to the point where it was getting embarrassing); and two, I haven’t actually been to a lot of movies this year.

So in an effort to address both, I’m going to sweep up all the remnants of my 2005 movie-watching into one big review here, and see what sticks out in the way of useful-sized lint-balls to send to mino and pearly. Then if I see any more I won’t just be adding to the backlog. Here we go...

Read More · 26 July 2005 · · Film

The Ancient Art of Tikegami

Materials: 1 x UK bus ticket; 1 x bus trip of at least 2 minutes duration; 2 x pairs of opposable digits (thumb, index finger or similar); 1 x childhood obsession with paper-folding.

Read More · 24 July 2005 · · Whatever

In case you were wondering, the Home Office came through last week. Yes, we now have Infidel Leave to Remain.

Spring, Summer

It’s not all Continental architecture. Some day-trips from the past few months.

17 July 2005 · Travel

Sudoku is evil. Planarity is eviller. And I don’t even dare try The Kingdom of Loathing.

Things I Will Not Do

Avoid visiting London. London is one of my favourite cities in the world, grime and noise and big-city frustrations and all. I have friends there, relatives there, ancestors there, memories there.

Avoid the Tube. Sure, it’s good to get out and walk through the city centre now and then, but how else are you supposed to get from Heathrow to the West End or Kings Cross to Clapham? Besides, London isn’t the only place with an underground: you want confined spaces, try Glasgow’s.

Avoid sitting on the upper deck of double-decker busses. I like the upper deck; you get to see where you’re going, you don’t have to compete with old ladies for seats, and making your way down the stairs is an adventure every time.

Treat all people of a particular appearance with suspicion. I’m a pale Caucasian with red hair. Twenty years ago, it could have been me getting sideways glances.

Read More · 15 July 2005 · · Events

Jon Ronson meets the “super-hacker”: “It’s not a very good bargaining chip at all, really, is it?”

Now that’s what I call TEFL! “Songs and artists I’d cherished for years suddenly became worthless; some of the best music I had to offer was often the worst for the job in hand.”

Speaking of Nick Hornby... (I wasn’t, but anyroad...)

Speaking of Ben Folds... (some time ago).


I’ve picked up three long-awaited follow-up albums recently. The first was Beck’s Guero, which follows his drastic change of pace (and my favourite of his), Sea Change. Reviewers called it a return to form, which had the perverse effect of making me hold off on buying it. But now that I have, I reckon they got it wrong; this is one of his best albums, more satisfying than Midnight Vultures or even Mutations. Guero is a loping, laid-back mix of electro retro, Latin flourishes, and Odelay-era inventiveness. It may even tie with that as his second-best album.

Read More · 14 July 2005 · Music

Une Semaine en Provence

It was hard to shake the feeling that tourism in the Riviera wasn’t made for the likes of me. The direct line from the grand tours of the 18th century to the cruise tours of the 21st doesn’t stop at my petit bourgeois station. But thanks to the wonders of DodgyJet, anyone can gatecrash this high-rollers’ party. Fly into Nice at bargain prices and you’re ten minutes’ walk from Nice-St-Augustin on the Riviera line, where for the price of an Edinburgh to Glasgow return you can travel past the Italian border and back, getting on and off wherever you like. Thanks to this unexpected bargain we spent two hours in Monaco for a total cost of €0.00, which is exactly the right amount on both counts. Even a hotel in Cannes can be less than a British B&B if you don’t rock up in the middle of the Film Festival.

Which frees you to enjoy all the stuff that attracted the rich to the area in the first place: the azure sea, the houses perched on cliff faces, the pebbly beaches ridiculously unsuited to sunbathing. Most of all, we enjoyed being hot—HOT—for the first time since Vienna. It was 30 degrees and sunny all week, except for the thunderstorms in the evenings that cleared the air. I wore sandals, on principle.

Read More · 11 July 2005 · · Travel

“You may be interested to know that global warming, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters are a direct effect of the shrinking numbers of Pirates since the 1800s. For your interest, I have included a graph of the approximate number of pirates versus the average global temperature over the last 200 years. As you can see, there is a statistically significant inverse relationship between pirates and global temperature.”

KF on a deeply depressing attitude. The flavour of this here blog—particularly its omissions—has undoubtedly been affected by the “academic appearances” conundrum since the word go (and especially in the past 12-18 months), but the sort of attitudes KF discusses makes me think I needn’t have bothered being judicious—what’s the point, when you’re screwed either way? “Dear Mr Lodge, we would offer you the position, but we’re a bit worried about all those novels you write.”

The BBC site was down earlier, but here’s their coverage. (Partly to send that last post under the fold; I wrote it less than a day ago and already it seems like stale newspaper.)

Predicting a Riot

As you might have guessed from Friday’s entry, when I said that Bob Geldof’s “million people” descending on Edinburgh during the G8 would translate to half of what we see during the Fringe, I was expecting G8 Week in Edinburgh to be a bit of a fizzer—not the Make Poverty History march, so much as the days before and during the summit itself. I should have gone with my first impulse to say a tenth, because if anything the population has gone down this week, if you leave out the hordes of cops. The streets have been a strange blend of almost-deserted and occasionally packed (in places where the public has been herded away from trouble).

Read More · 7 July 2005 · · Events

Business as Usual

Central Edinburgh is eerily quiet today. Some photos of the day after the day after—or the day before the day before.

Update, same evening: Trying to get to the shops on Princes Street before close of business was a waste of time, because apparently there was a protest in the afternoon, and the riot police were still being shipped in at 5.30. Apart from the police and a noisy few, though, the only people in evidence were onlookers; even the riot was quiet.

4 July 2005 · · Events

Graffiti in Edinburgh

And what better way to abolish capitalismm mow than to spraypaint a bank and force its corporate masters to pass the costs of cleaning onto the public through higher fees and charges.

Read More · 1 July 2005 · · Politics

June 2005