Year: 2008

December 19, 2008
Following my earlier post, I found myself inspired to write this.


I heard there was a secret song
That Cohen wrote and we sung along
But it seems you never listen to it, do you?
For if you did it might sink in
It’s a song of passion, not a hymn
But all you ever hear is Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Well if there ever was a song
That as a Christmas hit was wrong
You would agree that this one was, now do you?
But just because that blessed word’s
Right at the end of every verse
All anybody hears is Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Just like that girl who won the show
With Cowell, Walsh, Cole and Minogue
But then you never watch that programme, do you?
She sang it proud with Factor X
But skipped each verse that mentioned sex
A broken and an empty Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

And take the case of Katherine J,
Mezzo soprano of our day,
You’d think that she’d know better than this, do you.
But in picking tracks for her CD
Of “Sacred Arias” to be
She made the choice of singing Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Now nationwide, it is a fad
We’ve all gone Hallelujah mad
I’d hoped it was a thing that had outgrew you
But choirmasters think it cool
From churches down to primary schools
To sing a verse or two of Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I’ll stop before this gets too long,
Please understand, don’t get me wrong
I used to love this song before I knew you
But it’s a song of lust and love
And not of angels up above
A secular and worldly Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

December 17, 2008
I am becoming increasingly amused and irritated – in roughly equal parts – by the number of people who seem to think Leonard Cohen’s "Hallelujah" is some kind of religious hymn, and particularly suitable for Christmas.

Most recently, this has been evidenced by all the contestants of the X-Factor performing it, with the idea that the winner would release it as a "certain" Christmas Number One. However, at the moment, it seems that X-Factor’s winner Alexandra Burke may be edged out by campaigns to promote Cohen’s original, or the extremely popular Jeff Buckley interpretation.

December 7, 2008
This morning I finished reading The Count of Monte Cristo. I was quite familiar with the overall story, having seen at least two movie adaptations, and also having read Tiger! Tiger! by Alfred Bester, which is very much a retelling of the tale, against a science fiction background.

However, I had never read the original novel before, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, even though it took me over 2 months to finish it.

Here was something that was unusual for me. Normally, although I may dip in and out of non-fiction, when reading fiction, I tend to read only one book at a time. If I happen to put a book down, and start something else, I usually find it difficult to pick it up again, unless I leave it for a while, and then start again from the beginning.

But with The Count of Monte Cristo, I found it very easy to put it down and pick it up again. A week may go by without reading, and yet when I resumed the novel, I could pick it up from where I had left off with no problem whatsoever. Part of this must be due to the great story, but I think it significant that the book was originally written as a serial, in 18 parts. Thus some aspects of the plot are recapped throughout the book, although I found this was done in a subtle way, that didn’t feel like a great deal of repetition.

The only difficulty I had at all was remembering who everybody was – this book has a large number of characters, compounded by many of them changing their names (either due to achieving position and title, or through subterfuge) throughout the course of the book. But a couple of notes in the front of the book took care of that.

All in all, an excellent read. Many years ago, I read The Three Muskateers, and I will probably re-read that soon.

December 5, 2008
I have just deleted my Plaxo profile, which was actually the original reason for my changing my web page to a blog.

Back in July, I was invited into Plaxo by Brenda, and I had a look and it seemed interesting. I liked the way it could apparently be linked into from various places, so it didn’t matter if you were on LiveJournal, Blogger or whatever, Plaxo would summarise your posts for your friends, and link back to your source material.

However, I quickly found that the link between Blogger and Plaxo, using RSS, was incredibly unreliable. My posts usually took a couple of days to make it to Plaxo, which for a live feed is virtually useless.

As a result, I have decided to drop the Plaxo feed, and just continue here. If anyone is interested in what I am doing, they know where to find me.

December 5, 2008
…keeping this blog active, but then going on holiday interrupted the flow, and the thing kind of stalled after that.

So here I am, starting it up again, and seeing if I can remember to update it from now on.

Alas, the dieting has also been somewhat on hold over the same period, and I have done very little in the garden, so I have quite a bit to catch up on.

September 7, 2008

Just got back from my holiday, which included a week in Weymouth. Mum and I stayed in Rupert, a converted stable, part of the old brewery, and the accommodation surpassed all expectations. The cottages are each named after the dray horses that were once stabled there.

I will probably be writing more later, but anyone looking for a nice little holiday cottage could do worse than check Rupert out.

August 23, 2008
August 22, 2008
Further to my earlier posting on this subject, it seems my complaints to Hozelock didn’t go unnoticed.

A couple of days ago, I received another email from them, and today arrived a complementary water butt pump.

At the moment, with my rearrangement, things aren’t going to bad, so I am not going to use it yet. However, I do feel that it will be healthier to water the garden properly once or twice a day, rather than continuously trickle – one part of my garden has recently started growing fungi.

So I’ll leave it for now, but install it for next year, when I start afresh.

August 18, 2008
This book may be old news to some of you, as it has been out for a while.

It’s been on my reading pile for a while, and I picked it up last night, intending to read for half an hour before I went to sleep. I finally put the book down at 2am, read a bit more when I woke up this morning, and then finished it this evening.

A truly wonderful satirical thriller, about an ex Prime Minister of Great Britain (totally fictional, of course), who is trying to write his memoirs (with the help of his Ghost-Writer), while under the threat of being accused of war crimes. You do get the feeling that the author is settling some old scores with his depictions, but that does not detract from the novel at all. The Ghost: Robert Harris: Books

August 14, 2008
Eating Well – A Diet Blog:
August 14, 2008 6:05 P.M. Weight: 345.0 lbs.

Probably not the best move, when you are on a diet, but I have just bought myself a barbecue.

When I moved into this house, a few years ago, it had an old brick barbecue. For some time I have been planning to get the parts – tray, grill etc – to get it working again. However, it is in a bit on an inconvenient place, down the bottom of my garden.

So instead, the brick barbecue has been transformed into a potting table, and I have just bought a Weber charcoal kettle. I’ve been reading up on it, and shopping around for a month or so, and it did seem to do everything I wanted – easy to use, easy to clean, and big enough to handle things like beef joints, whole chickens, and even pizza stones. Although it’s a big barbecue, it’s easy enough to create a small cooking area for just just one or two people.

I have some friends coming over in a few weeks time, who I’ve promised barbecue. So I am about to go out there and do some experimentation.

Wish me luck!

August 14, 2008
Eating Well – A Diet Blog:
August 14, 2008 5:44 P.M. Weight: 345.0 lbs.

It’s been a little while since I posted about my garden here – part of the reason is that I have been… in the garden.

Last year, the big disappointment I had was working hard on the couple of beds I had planted, then going away for a week, and coming back to find plants drying out everywhere. Neighbours can be helpful with watering, but you still worry about what you are going to come back to.

So this year, I decided I was going to build some kind of irrigation system, starting off with two water butts, taking water off my garage roof.

I bought a HozeLock “Water Butt Border Watering Kit”, which – in my naivety – I thought would be suitable for watering my borders from a water butt. On the packaging, it showed it all connected to a butt, not more than a foot off the ground, and mine were higher than that, so it must work, no?

No chance. It worked in a fashion when the water butt was filled to the brim, but the soaker hose closest to the butt got all the water, and the beds furthest away got none. On inquiring of HoseLock, they explained how I wouldn’t get a consistent water pressure along a long soaker hose. “So why does your kit contain 15 metres of the stuff?” No answer.

So, this week, I took it all apart, and put it back together again. Whereas before, I had a length of standard hose, then some soaker when it reached the planting bed, then some more standard hose, then some more soaker, this time I laid a black semi-rigid pipe around the perimeter of the garden. Then at each planting points I inserted a T junction, connected to a small inline tap, connected to a short length of soaker hose.

Success – steady constant pressure throughout the system. Still not sure there will enough pressure when the butts are only half full, but provided the hose seeps something, I can just leave it on for longer. Longer term, I intend to put another butt by the house, which will be at the opposite end of the system, so that may improve things. If not, I buy a simple little pump to put in one of the butts.

August 9, 2008
It appears that Paris Hilton objected to her image being used in a John McCain Campaign Ad.

“Miss Hilton was neither asked, nor did she give permission, for the use of her likeness in the ad, and has no further comment,” said an official statement from her people.

But distancing herself from McCain wasn’t enough, she has come up with her own campaign ad in retaliation:

It certainly made me laugh, and it’s nice to see someone who doesn’t take themselves too seriously.