EDitorial ± 23-Feb-2004

Amber Gambler

These past ten days I are been mostly staring at traffic lights. Not real traffic lights, unless legally obliged to do so while pootling around in the Broomobile. Nope, I'm talking about 40x40 pixel GIFs on my monitor at work. It's the future, I tell you, and it's here now.
I like traffic lights
I like traffic lights
I like traffic lights
Although my name's not Bamber
— Monty Python, I Like Traffic Lights (1980)

So why is amber called amber, and not yellow? How about saffron? Perhaps that green is better named as chartreuse? And maybe that red should be cerise? Remember, your driving instructor might say, the correct order is:

  1. cerise
  2. cerise and saffron,
  3. chartreuse, but only proceed if it is safe to do so

My priddy lights at work are designed to tell me at a glance — 'cos I move with the times and expect high performance — how things are with various systems. In reverse order, they look a bit like this:

Blooming, bosky, budding, burgeoning, callow, etc
  • feet up
  • everything tickety-boo, shipshape and West Country fashion
  • lean, mean, clean and on the screen
  • like Mr Gecko said, green is good
Chicken, craven, deceitful, gutless, lily-livered, etc
  • legs are still wriggling
  • easily enough time for another coffee before investigating
  • a possible problem, but one that, if ignored, might just fix itself
  • ooh, is it lunchtime?
Crimson, dye, encarmine, flush, glow, etc
  • oh dear, oh dear, oh dear
  • seek help
  • run screaming from the building
  • to make a lame VDU/CRT-type joke, this is rather terminal

Put these on a grid and you've nearly got Connect 4 before you.

At lunchtime, fuelled by a regular 12oz latte and KitKat Chunky, I was attempting to subdivide my life into headings such as health, family, employment, et cetera, then assign a RAG-like status to each one. Now that the caffeine and seratonin levels have subsided slightly, I realise that you'd have been mighty bored seeing a succession of green lights. A mild bout of eczema doesn't really merit a saffron, does it?

Be seeing you!


EDitorial ± 16-Feb-2004

To Be Frank

Perhaps a good place to start with this week's subject is a quote from an ebay user currently selling one of his 7-inch singles, the Sci-Fi EP from July 1986, who describes the contents of the vinyl thus:
Strange is not the word! an acquired taste maybe?!!

That about sums up the weird and wonderful world of Mr Frank Sidebottom, the man with the papier-mache head, a lippy cardboard sidekick named Little Frank, and who appeared as an alternative test card for Channel 4.

A proud possession: my timperley bigshorts fc (founded 1985) mug, bought at The Junction, Cambridge, in Feb 1993

I dimly remember reading about this bizarre character in my NME-reading flapjack-baking lecture-attending pool-playing college days. A bit later, on the weekly flick through the stack of reduced singles in Exeter town centre, I was fortunate enough to find his first two EPs. And I was hooked.

Handwritten note from the great man on the back of an envelope: sorry about the ipswich concert ed.... but the promoter got cold feet and cancelled it as he only sold 4 tickets! frank.

Bits and bobs that spring to mind:

  • in 1988, trying and failing to buy his new single, the concisely named Frank Sings The Magic Of Freddie Mercury and Queen, from a record shop in the week that it was apparently released; luckily ebay came up with the goods over a decade later
  • throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, receiving copies of Frank's "COM" newsletter at hugely irregular intervals; anyone ever get anything later than COM15?
  • around 1993, compiling the Frank discography with the assistance of Drew Radtke and Dom Robinson, still gracing Drew's "official" website; as Drew added, "Frank is almost unique for an artist as almost all of his work is totally unavailable"
  • in 1994, faxing a list of questions to Mark Radcliffe when he had the coveted 10pm slot, and Mark & Lard putting these to Frank; questions included Where's My Radio Timperley tape (paid for, never received)?

Unfortunately Frank's largely disappeared from the radar recently. There was talk that he'd done a Henry Kelly and gone bankrupt, though he did appear at an exhibition of his own unique art work at Stockport Art Gallery in 1999.

Word from the Sidebottom email list (did you doubt?) is that he's due to make a rare appearance at the up and coming Glasgow International Comedy Festival. Come back Frank, and come down south!

Be seeing you!


EDitorial ± 11-Feb-2004

Dissertation Row

Not seen too much of the outside world this past seven days. Not been to bed before midnight for a while. Entered the next phase of sleep deprivation today, a not unpleasant mild euphoric feeling. Though that could have been the blueberry muffin kicking in mid-morning.

Been helping wifey with her 10,000+ word dissertation, acting as, if you will, the EDitor. I've questioned whole paragraphs, rejigged umpteen sentences and sometimes (but not always) had the final word.

By their subheadings shall ye know them

Mandatory sections:

  • abstract: Pollock, de Kooning, and Rothko did as New Order suggested and expressed themselves, though only one of these inspired a song by the Manic Street Preachers, now playing on iTunes (4:17 length).
  • title page: they call me Mister Broom. This is page (i), doncha know, but you're not allowed to put the page number. Oh no.
  • preface: suppose that the organisation which used to be called MAFF named a new breed of cow after Francis, the Everton to Arsenal and back to Everton again striker, and that you had to write a report on these animals. You'd need a preface for DEFRA's Jeffers heifers.
  • table of contents: Just what is Toc H with its building on Fonnereau Road and with a track named after them on that Pink Floyd album?
  • body of the text: I lose track - who's The Body these days?
  • appendices: one of those great plurals, like vertices and mices.
  • bibliography:
    • Coupland D, Shampoo Planet (1992)
    • Keillor G, Lake Wobegon Days (1985)
    • Stephenson N, Snow Crash (1992)
    • Vonnegut, K, Slaughterhouse-Five (1969)

Now. Need. Sleep.

Be seeing you!


EDitorial ± 2-Feb-2004

Portal, Porch & Postern

Sitting here, 23:26, sipping my ever so slightly too milky Darjeeling, snaffling a Santa Claus Dairy Milk bar borrowed from a seasonal selection box given to one of the kids, scanning the thesaurus, "a new edition for the nineties", specifically at the entry in the index between gasworks and gateau.
At times I think there are no words
But these to tell what's true
And there are no truths outside the Gates of Eden
— Bob Dylan, Gates Of Eden (1965)

Ironwork outside Portia Engineering, Ipswich

Today's specialist subject, kidlets, inspired by above: gates.

  • Piper At The Gates Of Dawn:
    the Floyd's debut album, and "the best psychedelic album ever made", according to one keen Amazon reviewer; takes its title from... anyone out there...? Clue: the next chapter is headed "Toad's Adventures"
  • William H. Gates III:
    though you may know him better as plain Bill; obviously a nerd though, by all accounts, one with philanthropic intentions; must mention a favourite Onion headline while we're here: Evil Genius Gates Drops Windows 98 Into NYC Water Supply ("Excellent," said Gates... "Everything is going exactly according to plan.")
  • logic gates:
    takes me back to my O-level Computer Studies, when RM380Zs were RM380Zs, needless to say; NANDs, NORs and NOTs demonstrated the power of negative thinking
  • Gates McFadden:
    name was rattling round my head; one Google search later reminds me that this was Doctor Beverly Crusher on ST:TNG; you'd never guess from the name that Gates was a lady, would you?
  • Gates Of Eden:
    not only a Dylan track but also a collection of short stories that I read a couple of years back by one of the Coen brothers, Ethan; check your library
  • Gareth Gates:
    the Buzz Aldrin of pop without the catchy moniker; in January of both 2003 and 2004 I saw shops trying to offload GG calendars for the princely sum of 99p
  • pearly gates:
    ancient joke from my childhood: Brian Clough goes up to heaven and is welcomed by The Holy Trinity; addressing the big fella in the middle, Brian says "And what are you doing in my chair?"

That's enough hinged barriers for now.

Be seeing you!