February 18, 2005


Edinburgh on a sunny day, there are few places I would rather be. On this particular sunny day, I was taking a bus along Prince's Street just before lunch. I was looking out of the window and across the road to the shops on the other side, watching the little people scurrying in and out and around and lazily enjoying the warm spot on my seat. We trundled along slowly past traffic lights and bus stops, you never really get much past 15mph on this road.

So we were going quite slowly when we past the people clustered in a group crouching in the middle of the road on the other side. I could see a shape covered in a blanket and found myself looking harder to try and see what was happening. I could see a pair of legs stick out, capped with a pair of high heeled boots. I assumed it was a woman and looked away, my curiosity fulfilled.

As we pulled up to the next lights, I could hear the soft sound of sirens coming in from a distance, gradually getting louder and louder. I thought how they would be for the accident I had just seen, and guessed it must have happened sooner than I'd thought. And I wondered why I didn't feel more. We never do though, do we? The cars will all slow down to watch the crash, but who will even remember it happened unless they recall how they were late home that day?

I found myself wondering who the woman was, whether she had finished her shopping and was on her way home, or maybe if she had only just started. I'll probably never even know her name, after all, it won't be in the papers tomorrow. The bus carried on, and people went about their daily lives, but then, what else can we do? It seems harsh and callous to feel nothing, to not be moved, but how can we care when we don't know who we are caring for?

But I guess that's just the way life is, we meander along in our own little worlds, occasionally crossing over or intermingling with the little worlds of others. Some times they affect us, sometimes they don't. This time I was affected enough to write. It was going to be a short story, but turned into more of a thought for the day, dramatisation just seemed inappropriate.

February 05, 2005

A Rather Nice Surprise

At the end of my first year of University, I rather foolishly made the comment
"Oh I've always wanted a tattoo" after seeing a friends. This invariably results in being dragged off down to a tattoo parlour to look at some potential designs. While I didn't see anything I liked, I did come up with an idea. I wanted a dragon, but I thought that it could be disguised as a Rose. The petals would be flames coming from the dragon’s mouth, and the leaves would be the dragons wings, with his body and tail winding down into the stalk.

Claire was something of an artist, and drew out a picture of how she visualised my idea, and it was fantastic. I ummed and erred a little more, before she threatened that if I didn't get it, she would. So I made an appointment and she came with me to hold my hand. It was done in 2 sessions, and while the first didn't hurt too much, more tickled, the second was the most painful experience I had ever had. It was the end of term, and I was going home, so they fitted me in after it had healed, but whilst it was still a little tender. At one point I ran off to the loo, and when I emerged a glove covered in green ink was put up next to my face, and everyone agreed how the colour was almost the same. I was perhaps a little greener.

I've had it for six years now, it's on my lower left back so I don't see it much. I realised that I can't even remember exactly what it looks like, so I asked a friend to take a photo of it for me. It came out well, so I decided to post it on the web. I thought it would be a good idea to link to the place where I got it done, if they had a website. So a quick Google later, and I had found a page for Spacey's Bizarre Ink. I had a quick look around whilst I was there, and in the pictorials section of the gallery is the photograph that they took just after it was finished.

I have to say, I was really rather chuffed about this. They have won many awards over the years and are a very successful parlour - they just moved to bigger and nicer premises last year, so to have my tattoo chosen to go with their best work on the website is really fantastic. It's definitely worth going to have a peek, as some of the work is really amazing, and the cover-ups are quite amusing. Here is the photo that was taken for me yesterday, slightly different from the one over on the other website, but you can tell it's me - the freckles are all in the same places!

A more recent photograph Posted by Hello

February 04, 2005

Holy Grail, or Holy Bloodlines?

I've been watching a Channel 4 documentary about Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code, and the theories it sets out about the Holy Grail really being not a cup, but the descendants of Jesus Christ. I was mainly watching it because I have read the book, and was intrigued that some people would take the ideas presented in a work of fiction to be credible. That, and it was presented by Tony Robinson, who Rocks.

He systematically works through all the claims and theories presented in the book, slowly wearing them down by simple historical facts and figures in a fascinating piece of research into the Holy Grail legends. I've always loved the tales of King Arthur, I'll read anything that I can get my hands on about them and of course, with the Holy Grail being the highlight of the stories, it's always fascinated me too.

The thing I most enjoyed about this programme is the same thing that makes the grail legends so compelling. It gives a wonderful insight into human obsessions. The grail legends are about seemingly fruitless quests that are fueled by a passionate belief in a mysterious and powerful object, and this programme was no different. Here we are searching for evidence of the theories behind the book and the ideas it portrays, it is not a cup we search for, but a truth.

Tony Robinson brings a lightness to the documentary which is refreshing in a programme delving into a very complex topic, potentially threatening the whole framework of the modern church which is extremely powerful in today's society. However he still takes his subject matter seriously at every stage, for each part of the novel that he shows false, he doesn't let it biase his research into the next, taking every claim as something to be researched fully on it's own merits.

So I stayed attached to the screen, pausing only for the adverts, until the very end. I have recorded this to video or any one who has missed it and would like to see it. I would heartily recommend reading the book, it wasn't particularly well written, in fact I was quite disappointed by what promised to be an exciting cryptography thriller in the style of Indiana Jones with Maths. But I thoroughly enjoyed seeing it ripped apart by Tony Robinson, which more than made up for the slight sense of feeling ripped of that I felt after reading it. Well, that and the nodding Jesus doll he had in his car.

February 03, 2005

A Hot Summers Day

It was a hot summer’s day, nearing the end of August. There was no wind, not even a breeze, and I felt as if the air around me had come straight from an oven. My shirt was sticking to my back, and my skirt was no protection from the blistering heat of the bench I was sitting on. A small bluebottle droned around my head, dodging my useless swipes and persistently flying in its endless circle. I wiped my forehead in a futile attempt to somehow clean away the sweat gathering there, dripping down my skin like honey. I imagined that the flowers were starting to droop, and a young couple out for a stroll looked as if they might to wilt as well.

I leaned back lazily onto the bench feeling my eyes starting to close, when I was rudely interrupted by the penetrating sound of the bells of Westminster Abbey striking three o’clock. A red faced man walked past, closely followed by a small panting dog. I noticed how much the dog resembled his owner, short with a rounded waist and a fat, jolly face. They looked tired from the heat and walked along slowly, dragging their feet almost perfectly synchronised. I saw the man collapse onto the next bench and his dog fell beside him in a panting heap.

I pulled a small lump of sandwich out of its paper wrapper and began to munch sleepily. The cheese stuck in my teeth unpleasantly and it tasted foul, so I took out my apple and bit into it deeply, the sweet, succulent juices refreshing my tongue, and trickling down my throat in a delightful manner.

I watched dreamily as a tall man walked past, dressed in an expensive looking suit and a tasteless red tie. He sat on the bench next to the man with the dog who promptly left. As I watched, the man with the tie picked up something from the floor, pocketed it and walked off. This seemed to me to be rather odd as he did not appear to have dropped it and did not put it in a bin, but it was none of my business so I packed up my lunch and went back to the office.

About a week later I had gone back to the park for another relaxing lunch break, when I saw the man with his dog again. I watched him go past, amused by his resemblance to his dog which reminding me of him from before, and I wondered if he walked his dog here regularly. They walked over to the same bench where they sat down. This time I watched out of the corner of my eye as he looked around nonchalantly and dropped something on the floor, seemingly without noticing. The man with the tie walked past me and sat on the bench again. After the other man left, he picked up the object from the floor and walked off innocently.

I picked up my lunch and followed him, watching as he put the object, possibly a piece of paper, into his wallet. He strolled over to an ice-cream van where he bought a cone, and then he headed off out of the park towards Westminster Bridge where I lost sight of him in a crowd of shouting tourists, who were waving cameras dangerously.

I observed several of these meetings, which always took place at the same time. They happened once or twice a week, and after about a month I decided to follow the man with the tie again. His routine was the same as before, but this time I saw something fall from him on his way to the bridge. I walked over to it, and saw it was his wallet. I opened it slowly and started to look for the small, white piece of paper he had picked up from the man with the dog. It was nowhere to be found. It had seemingly disappeared. As I realised this, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned around to the man with the red tie standing there menacingly.

“What are you doing with my wallet?” he asked.

February 01, 2005

New Years Resolutions

I don't normally make new years resolutions, as generally, I can't think of any. In the past, there's not really been much that I'd wanted to change about my life, and certainly nothing that I'd bother making a resolution about. I quite often have health kicks, or exercise fads during the year, but any resolution making tends to be done around October with the start of term.

I didn't do that this year, mostly because I was too busy trying to find out how to register and get my grant, and when I'm supposed to be where. Having classes to teach as well as to take with no visible timetable for either makes the start of term far too busy and stressful to worry about how I'm going to work my life this year. I decided I'd figure things out after I had a timetable for the term, but that never really happened.

As a result, I have signed on for the gym and never been, so in an effort to justify the use of my hard earned pennies on such an extravagant spend, I have decided to participate in the time honoured ritual of setting goals to hopelessly fail to achieve for more than 2 weeks of the coming year. Except that, as usual, I'm a bit late.

I can easily justify my lateness in this matter. January first is a rather foolish time to expect any major lifestyle changes. It's in the middle of the party season, and so any cut down on excesses are unlikely. This year, I was in Edinburgh for the Street Party, so any thoughts of healthy eating, gym visits or other such unlikely events would have to be put off until my return home anyway. If you combine that with the fact that I couldn't decide on any sort of schedule or organisation for next term, as I have only just now got my timetable, I have been unable to make any decent plans for the year, until now.

So it would seem today is the perfect day for goal setting and time planning. Eeeek. Here we go.

I will go to the Gym twice a week.

This term I have a fairly sparse timetable. Other than the usual seminars, I only have one tutorial weekly, and one bi-weekly lab session. Most of my work is either marking or my own research, which I can organise around things like gym visits. So I can fit in a 2-hour break on Thursday afternoons (assuming I pass my driving test), and then in 2 weeks time on Tuesday afternoons as well (I have 2 lectures I want to attend this week and next).

I will eat more fruit.

This shouldn't be too hard, as I currently eat none at all. I hate buying fruit, as I always suspect that it's going to go off sneakily behind my back, before I have a chance to eat it. And it never seems worth buying small amounts, as they get finished straight away. So I'm not entirely sure how this one is gong to work, but I suspect that it will involve nipping across to the union shop during my morning break, and buying 3 pieces of fruit to snack on throughout the day. We'll see tomorrow, I'm already on my third banana today.

I will do more work.

Probably the most important of these resolutions. As we got further into winter, last term, I found myself less and less motivated to do work. I really struggled to get into my office and do the weeks reading, and I found myself becoming bored with the book I was studying from, and generally un-inclined to do anything productive. This term has been somewhat better. I've moved on to the next book, which I'm actually finding really interesting, and have even managed to do some work on trains, which means I'm not really taking 4-day weekends every time I go to visit my Boyfriend. I've put this third, as I'm hoping that the exercise and fruit eating will help me with my work by improving my general health, and therefore my mood. That and the fact that Summer's coming back!

I will make the effort to be nice to everybody.

I've already started on this one, by coaching somebody I wouldn't normally bother with at Archery last night. This is mainly because I would like to be Captain of the Archery Club next year, and I think part of the position is as a liaison for the club committee with the ordinary members, so this means I really need to start being nice to them. It's more difficult than you'd think. I have a sharp sense of humour at times, and a tendency to expect a high level of general competence from people around me. These traits combined make me come across as scary to people who don't know me, which is something I really need to work on.

I could go on adding things to this list forever, but I need somewhere to start. It's a bad idea to make too many changes all in one go, as you'll never keep up with them. Even the ones above I'll add in gradually, work more this week and try to buy fruit a couple of days, and then add in the gym one day, with more fruit buying next week. The last one will most likely be an ongoing project. I'll consider it a success if I manage to reduce my scariness levels somewhat.