Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I'm off for a while...

I've done all the things you're supposed to do before going away for a while. You know: sell your car, move an Australian couple into your home... that kind of thing.

Actually, I'm only going to be away from home for about a month. Maybe less. Maybe more. Obviously this doesn't warrant the selling of a car but the fact that my car has been driven so rarely in the last year - make that two - does. It's a pointless extravagance and I'd rather cycle around London and manage when I need to get out of London. In a few days time I will buy another car which will be mine for the duration of this new project but after that I will return to my non-car owning status. It feels good not owning a car. It probably feels good just owning less.

Australian house-sitters are a great idea. Bonzer, even. When Australians are in the UK they are so grateful that they don't have to check their shoes for poisonous spiders every morning that they're more than happy to lavish care and attention on the home in which they're living. Hurrah for that.

My passport was meant to be returned to me yesterday. Before 10am. It wasn't. I called the courier company whose phone line offered me three numerical options. None of which were 'press X if we have failed to deliver your passport.' This is a brilliant tactic on their part... offering a customer service line that refuses to acknowledge your company ever fails and so denying customers the right to complain. I tried all 3 options. The first two went through to recorded messages. The third option went through to a recorded message that told me that this line could not be used for any other purpose before connecting me to a real person.

"Hi... I was expecting my passport to be delivered this morning. I paid extra to have it before 10am..." I said.
"Can I have your invoice number?" said she.
I gave her the number.
"Mmm... that should have been delivered today," she said.
"I know... that's why I'm calling you."
"What happened is they made the delivery order but the van had already left."
"Right... only, I'm paying for the service can you..."
"You'll get it tomorrow."
"Before 10?" I asked. If you don't pay extra to receive it before 10 am they can only promise you some time between 9am and 5pm, a situation fraught with its own difficulties. Not the least of which being that if they screw it up you don't know about it until it's far too late to do anything.
"uhhh.... uhhmmm... yeah," she said with so little conviction that I was left far from convinced.

So I went about my day. Doing some laundry, buying that bag I needed and so on. At 6.47 my mobile phone beeped to tell me a text message had arrived. It was from the couriers.
A secure delivery is set up on 17/10/2006 between 9am-5pm

They somehow managed to send this text without there being a number I could reply to. I called the office I'd called earlier to hear a message telling me that the office was now closed. I wasn't very confident that things would go to plan this morning. In actual fact my passport arrived at 6.40 am. Remarkable. I will be on a flight tomorrow.

Oh... to clarify things: the reason I'm not telling you what I'm up to isn't because I want to keep you in the dark or build up any intrigue. I'm not on some top secret mission... it's purely because I don't want to be bombarded by opinions before the thing has actually unfolded. Peoples' opinions on what I've done are interesting to me while opinions on what I should do next are not. I just don't think interesting work is produced by committee. This point is best made by looking up the artists Komar and Melamid and their People's Choice/Most Wanted series of paintings. Regardless of making that point you should look them up. Fascinating and funny people.

I'll be back soon and one day I'll tell you all about it... but in the meantime, you can expect some website silence.

Monday, October 16, 2006

New things loom

I'm about to start work on a new project. For reasons previously discussed on this page I don't find it helpful to explain what it will be because I want it to remain personal and not be affected by the opinions of many. Unlike the Googlewhack Adventure at least it is something I am undertaking deliberately and so it won't have the capacity to undo me emotionally in the way that experience did.

I'm packing my bags and tidying up my house and doing the things you do when you're about to go away for a while. In a right and proper world I'd be on a flight tomorrow but a lawyer didn't quite do his/her job in a timely fashion and so I wasn't able to get my visa in time and so instead I'm going to be on a flight on Wednesday. It's only a small delay and in a way it gives me a bit more time to get those final things done but even so I find it enormously frustrating. You get into a state of readiness before a new project begins and now that my head is there I don't want to be sitting at home fretting about it I want to be out there doing it. Heigh ho.

Before I can cook I need a tidy kitchen and the same is true of packing. I need to sort out the mess my home has become before I can sensibly pack those things I'll be taking. I've also arranged for a couple of house-sitters to look after the place and so politeness makes me want to leave the place in good order.

There are lots of bits of paper on my desk. A lot of it can be filed in the (recycling) bin but some of it has to be filed away properly and so I'm giving everything a cursory glance at least. One piece of paper has intrigued me. It has been torn from a ringbound notebook and then folded over twice. It's small and scrappy and I was pretty sure that it was going to be bin-bound but I opened it just in case it had the phone number of a girl who would one day be my wife on it. (I don't remember meeting anyone who fits that description recently but maybe this piece of paper would jog my memory. You never know.)

It didn't. It does however contain some odd and intriguing text. I don't recognise the handwriting. It has bullet points. It reads as follows:
* Get cape wear cape fly
* Jamie T
* Klaxons
* Bromheads Jacket

What could it possibly mean and how has it come to be on my desk? There haven't been a load of people in my office (that's what I grandly call the bit of my house where the computer lives) recently and I have no recollection of anyone passing me any notes. The first line is the beginning of a fantastic (in every sense of the word) to-do list but the rest of it fails to live up to this early promise. What am I supposed to think? Surely this was meant to mean something to me at some point? To the bin it goes.

If you bother to read this page regularly you might well have noticed I've been getting tardier when it comes to recommending a book each month. When I add it, I cheat and slide it in at the start of the month but it's been happening later and later each month and feeling like a bit of a hassle to get it done during what has been an exceptionally busy time. Not only do I not have time to build the links properly but I don't have time to do the reading I normally do and so it's all been a bit of an effort. So - especially as I'm going to be going away and want to be able to retreat into my own thoughts for a while I'm going to let it slide. Maybe I'll read the odd book that will prompt an impromptu recommendation from time to time but to force myself to do it on a timetable seems foolhardy these days. I've enjoyed Snake Oil by John Diamond this last week and I'm devouring an entertaining biography of the poker player Stu Ungar right now but there really isn't time to find the graphics and do what I normally do. Reading is good. You should read. That was the point of starting the monthly recommendation. I think the point's been made.

I went to the production company who are making the Are You Dave Gorman DVD recently and watched the graphics and things that hold it all together. It was exciting. I think it looks lovely. There's been a slight delay in manufacturing it because they need to get it certificated by the BBFC and apparently that's taking longer than it normally does. Seeing as the series has been waiting for 5 years or so already I don't think another 2 or 3 weeks will hurt any.

A DVD extra that seems almost standard is a commentary but I can't see the point on a narrative show like mine. The same was true with the Googlewhack DVD. I do however love the songs that are there instead. Helen Love did a great song for the Googlewhack Adventure and trust me, Misty's Big Adventure have done an amazing job with this one. It makes me ridiculously happy to live in a world in which bands I love will do this sort of thing. Misty's Big Adventure have a new single out. The video is on Youtube. I highly recommend it. Noddy Holder's in it.

Friday, October 6, 2006

The Daily Show

I had an e-mail today from The Daily Show telling me that the last Poll Smoking segment I recorded was broadcast in tonight's show. Which means that it will be part of tomorrow (Friday) night's show here in the UK.

Sunday, October 1, 2006

Smoking more polls

I'm back in London having had a great time in NYC. I really am a fan of the show so it's an incredible pleasure to be a part of it in anyway. It's a great show to witness the making of and I'm sure I come away learning a great deal. Professional courtesy prevents me from providing you with a story about the differences between UK and US satire. Hmmm.

On Thursday I pre-taped another Poll Smoking segment that will be used in a future show. If I find out when, I'll let you know.