EDitorial ± 29-Mar-2004

Ella's Propellors

Seven days ago the predominant colours were black and blue — I did mention my bump on the head, didn't I?; can't be sure since, as my helpful leaflet explained, "It is common after a head injury to experience poor concentration" — and over the weekend my temple's turned a fetching yellow. Now let's go green.

Once in Swaffham in Norfolk, a peddler named Chapman lived in a small house beside a towering oak tree...

See, the day before I scanned that disgusting story and suffered my blow to the head, we'd sallied up to Swaffham to behold the blades blowing in the gusts.

Etch out a future of your own design
Well tailored to your needs
— Thomas Dolby, Windpower (1982)

This Norfolk market town plays host to not one but two towering wind turbines, and they're a site to see. Actually, although both were visible on the road coming in, it took us a while to find the bases of Ella's propellors; "Dad, it's over there!", came the cry from the back of the car.

Installed 1999, rotor diameter 66m, capacity 1.5MW Swaffham I (67m tall)   Installed 2003, rotor diameter 70m, capacity 1.8MW Swaffham II (85m tall)

Eventually we parked off the slip road by "the UK's tallest onshore wind turbine". Switching off the engine, I was prepared for the whining noise — from the propellor, not from the kids for a change — but it was surprisingly quiet. Bang goes that myth. Kids were daunted by our proximity to the swishing blades overhead, so we headed for the other (smaller) one across town.

Cool name for a road

This being 3.30pm on Sunday, the Ecotech centre was unfortunately closed, depriving us of the chance to walk up the many steps to this turbine's viewing platform. Plus the kids are probably all too small, I'd guess.

Here's a statistic: Swaffham gets 75% of its domestic electricity power from just these two leviathans. Magnificent, the whole arrangement. Dylan was right, inevitably: the answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind.

Be seeing you!


EDitorial ± 23-Mar-2004

I Might Just Squeam

So there I was, lying on the floor of the gents at work, staring up at the ceiling, watching the little toon birdies fluttering around my head. What an idiot, I kept muttering as I came around, my consciousness slowly revving back to life. How on earth did I end up here?
I would give my life to find it
I would give it all
Catch me if I fall
— REM, Texarkana (1991)

Having shakily staggered back to my feet, the mirror showed a golf-ball sized lump on my left temple of the type not seen since Jerry last thwacked Tom on the head with a polo mallet. Within minutes, though you wouldn't have placed money on my timekeeping abilities at that moment, a very kindly first aid chap appeared. Pulse — low; blood pressure — no comment.

A biotab sticker: had about six of each on my chest and one on each of my ankles for my ECG

En route to the local hospital by non-siren ambulance, my oxygen and pulse levels being monitored by a gizmo clipped to my finger, I had no-one to blame except myself. And possibly The Guardian. And certainly Chuck Palahniuk.

See, at lunchtime, feeling full of the joys, I'd been reading a short story in the previous weekend's paper. This was by CP, the Fight Club guy, and the supplement's cover declared:

Is Chuck Palahniuk's GUTS the most gruesome short story ever published?

Baloney, I thought. Hooey. Hogwash, etc. So I gave it a go. As events in the story went from unpleasant to nasty to downright visceral, I decided to give up on the final page, defeated. Too late: damage was done, and I headed to the lavs to splash some cold water on my face. The rest is light-headed hysteria.

Squeamish, moi? Some previous incidents I'd conveniently forgotten:

  1. at school, feeling decidedly queasy when faced with a dissected frog
  2. still at school, getting the sweats when watching a video on childbirth
  3. on work experience, hyperventilating having tried and failed to give blood

I'm OK now, thanks, being seen very zippily by the good folk in Ipswich A&E inc. checks for blood pressure, sugars, temperature, and even an ECG. They smiled kindly and in a disbelieving fashion as I told and retold my version of events. Bump has shrunk from tumulus to mild undulation, though my back and butt, on which I presumably landed like a sack of spuds, are sore.

Ain't the written word a wonderful thing? Cheers Chuck!

Be seeing you!


EDitorial ± 15-Mar-2004

Monologued Out

End of last week I chanced across some sad news on the internet — so, which of the following do we think gives us the best definition of Spalding Gray?
  1. a dull hue from the new Linda-Barker-does-Dulux range,
  2. an ET from the infamous Lincolnshire UFO incident,
  3. or an over-analytical depressive actor prone to hypochondria?

It's number three, unfortunately — last week Spalding Gray died. Well, that's not strictly true. Apparently he'd gone missing sometime in January, and, with one last nod to black humour for someone who'd both written a book and starred in a film called Swimming To Cambodia, his body was recovered from New York's East River on 7-March. It appeared that after repeatedly joking about the act of suicide, he'd thrown himself from the Staten Island ferry.

My mini collection of Spalding Gray NTSC videos from amazon.com: Swimming To Cambodia - HILARIOUS; Monster In A Box - EXHILARATING; Gray's Anatomy - HAUNTING

His 1992 film Monster In A Box has a cover that shows him emerging from a box labelled FRAGILE, and he opens with these remarks:

You see, in 1967, while I was trying to take my first vacation, my mother killed herself. And since then, I've written a book about it.
— Spalding Gray, Monster In A Box (1992)

All very doom and gloomy, non? But seat this guy at a table with a glass of water, point a camera at him and let him talk, then try to tear yourself away. Should the BBC or Channel 4 decide to screen one of his works as a tribute, do try to catch it. The man was funny, moving, and utterly compelling.

Every so often I liked to check on amazon.com to see if he'd released any other filmed performances. I shall miss doing that, and I shall miss him too.

Be seeing you!


EDitorial ± 9-Mar-2004

Dummy's Guide

Number 1 was a sucky child and took to one like the proverbial duck to water. Number 2 was far more amenable and never needed one. Number 3 was another little sucker — he currently says goodbye with a swift "see ya sucka!" — and, until this week, went to sleep with one.
Put your head back in the clouds
And shut your mouth
— Julian Cope, World Shut Your Mouth (1986)

I say tomato, you say tomato, I say dummy, you say soother. At www.baby-supplies.co.uk now, along with the fennel seeds and the baby crying analyser (?), you'll find a massive 92 items in the soothers, dummies & pacifiers section, including a John Lennon mini ulti soother twin pack. Imagine!

Four dummies, two caps, a dog and a dinosaur, coming soon to a multiplex near you

The dummy: a necessary evil? Discuss.

With number 1, and largely thanks to Jill Murphy's inspirational book The Last Noo-noo, we agreed to do as Marlon does at the end and plant her remaining dummies in the garden. Final pages of the book show a noo-noo tree coming into bloom, something that number 1 was told would happen in due course. Years later, she was let down badly when she found out that this wasn't going to happen.

Despite the fine examples set both by Liz Hurley a while back and by Maggie Simpson, I think it's time for youngest, now 3-and-a-half, to kick the habit. Going OK so far this week, though I'll be happier once the offending items are nestled snugly in the earth outside.

Playing in the background as I type: Mysterons, by Portishead, from the album Dummy. There is no escape from the binky.

Be seeing you!


EDitorial ± 2-Mar-2004


Yesterday, taking five minutes out from my work in hand — hey, those purdy lights are sapping — I stumbled across a pen portrait, a thumbnail sketch, a vignette, if you will, of me. It turns out that I, EFB, am "50-quid bloke". Near enough, anyway.

Fifty of your English pounds; a rare moment of liquidity

This Guardian (what were the chances?) article described how men and women of a certain age, no longer burdened with youth, are now buying more CDs than teenagers, and have consequently become vital to the whole music industry.

You're alternative
So alternative
So individual
You want to be different like everyone else
— Voon, Alternative (1994)

David Hepworth, who I remember from Smash Hits and as a co-presenter of the Whistle Test with Andy Kershaw, defines 50-quid bloke like this (he says, I say):

  • big user of the web... shops at Amazoncheck!
  • loathes Pop Idol – indifferent to it
  • wants to keep up – check!
  • likes White Stripes, Coldplay and Blur – still working on the Stripes; loved Coldplay's debut, but now too popular?; five Blur CDs sitting on my desk
  • persevered with Radioheadcheck!
  • latest buys are the Stands and Franz Ferdinand – not even heard of the former; latter already on my Amazon wishlist
  • given up on Radio 1 – I left with Lamacq
  • listens to Radio 4 – nope; I'm with Five Live
  • likes less cosy bits of Radio 2, like Jonathan Ross – check!
  • adores DVD – nope; still not got a player
  • possibly has an iPod – had a demo last week of a friend's iPod mini, fresh back from NY; drool
  • favourite recent film is Lost In Translation – would be if we could organise ourselves a babysitter
  • got the High Fidelity chip embedded in his brain – check!
  • university-educatedcheck!
  • reads a broadsheetcheck!
  • raved about Beevor's Stalingrad – nope; doesn't appeal
  • not a great telly-watcher – partly true
  • loves Simpsons and The Office – check!
  • will miss Friends – Frasier, yes; Friends, no!
  • he may be a she – some Wasp Factory deal happening here?

Frighteningly more hits than misses in that list. But I fail to pass the one big test, not yet having passed my 40th birthday; got a couple of years left before facing that mental hurdle. Now, where did I leave my slippers?

Be seeing you!