mr. zilla goes to town

Sunday, March 20, 2005

cam's bridges

Once upon a time - say 1961 - a suitable chap (or Fellow) could have made the trip from Oxford to Cambridge by a fairly pleasant and direct train ride, like so:

But thanks to Conservative Macmillan government wielding the Beeching Axe upon the British railways in the 1960s, a rail trip across the Oxbridge now looks more like this:

Bloody Tories! Today, unless you want to take a pricey train & tube ride through central London and muck about changing, the public transport between Oxford and Cambridge is a ghastly three and a half hour bus ride through the roundabout infested region of Milton Keynes. provided by drivers whose main qualification seems to be an unremitting anger at using the brake pedal, such that every time its used it requires a ferocious stomp. The concerted efforts I had to maintain to hold onto my lunch for the last hour of the trip left me a little green.

I might have felt green but arrived in Cambridge to find a cloudless blue sky and stunning 20C cloudless day. The cobbled roads of Cambridge's inner town do seem to stand a little wider than Oxford's, and allow in more of the sky to stay into eyeshot. For this sunlight starved southerner it was just brilliant.

Freely flowing wine and olives afterhours in the Cambridge University Press bookstore on Friday night was great, my shopper spidey senses pulling me into a dogfish store to pick up a great puffy Diesel jacket marked down from a ridiculous £150 to an absurd £23 was better, but the the highlight of the brief trip was catching up with Fancypants, who ably punted us about the river Cam on Saturday afternoon.

Missing the Wales-Ireland finale to the Six Nations championship was a tiny price to pay for an unseasonably great day!

Thursday, March 17, 2005

of bananas, gun control and malnutrition

A quick perusal of the Guardian today reveals a brief insight into the causes of the trials and tribulations facing British society in the 21st century: there just aren't enough handguns in the country, and it's making old people malnourished.

First we hear that 60% of patients admitted to UK hospitals are malnourished:

Doctors today called for a UK-wide programme to screen all patients for malnutrition when they are admitted to hospital so they can get the specialist dietary help they require.

The doctors and other health professionals from charity the British Association for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (BAPEN), which is devoted to improving the management of malnutrition, claim around 60% of patients suffer from clinical malnutrition on admission to hospital - most of them elderly and frail.

It's no wonder the old folks aren't getting their vitamins though, when the lack of handguns in the UK means that market forces are causing all the fruit and veg in the country to be used for other nefarious purposes:

An optimistic robber who thought he could hold up shopkeepers with a banana was jailed yesterday after his second attempt ended in farce.

Robert Downey's harmless weapon was so badly disguised in a plastic bag, which revealed both its colour and tell-tale bend, that his victims carried on chatting as he screamed: "I want the money or I will effing shoot you."

Now desperate smacky behaviour is one thing, but really, nitwits nicking nana's 'nanas is right off. If only our social bonds were still as immediately connected as our global economic bonds, I imagine there are a still a few scurvy-bent old age pensioners who would give this young hooligan a right thwack with their brolly and see him to rights.

Having solved this pressing problem with some old fashioned common sense, I'm going across to Cambridge tomorrow, Ms Z is there at the moment for a seminar. We'll also be cheerfully catching up with another ex-Canberrian, Miss B's brother Mr Fancypants.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

goings and goings on

Last weekend featured a birthday made effervescently cheerful by the arrival from oz of jaffas and chocolate coated macadamia nuts. There is no better breakfast in bed, nor any better birthday morning activity than running about the university parks' cricket oval flying a kite amidst the occasional snow flurries. The last time I remember flying a kite was in primary school, but that one didn't have flashing red LEDs. Hmm, did I just turn 9 or 29? Ms Z and I chased the capricious wind until about half an hour after our hands had frozen off, before repairing for espresso and chocolate croissants at the local French bakery. We are children of the multicultural antipodes indeed, going in there sometimes I catch myself wondering why the staff aren't Vietnamese and why these snooty white bakers can't sell me a decent Saigon roll.

Work up at Oxfam HQ is progressing, but slightly inconveniently taking up more hours of the week at the moment right as I'm trying to get into the rhythm of some postgrad study - Two weeks into the course I think I'm about a week behind in the reading which doesn't bode well! While most of what I'm doing up there is corporate boffin material, I'm off to Birmingham for a couple of days training next week to become one of the organisation's pilot school speakers for their Global Citizenship curriculum.

Also, last week DJing prospects have taken a marvellous upward tick. I've had three college gigs so far this year but wheedling both feet behind some club decks has taken some patience and persistence. Last Thursday I opened for two hours (9-11) for the Slide night at Thirst, playing trip hop, nujazz and various broken beats. A very stoked sounding manager called me on Friday to chat about the comparative merits of Ninja Tune stalwarts The Herbaliser and Funky Porcini, and as a result I'll be back down there tomorrow night playing from 9pm-2am. 5 hours solo: nurse, fetch me that Pat Cash headband and 250cc of red bull...

Finally, Ms Z and I are going to nick off to Sardinia in a couple of weeks for a loooong weekend of Mediterranean sun, Italian seafood, and lots of lying around on the beach (though hopefully with less humorous results than last time I tried this). Can't wait!

Finally finally, if you're looking for some cruisy choons to stream I recommend Adam Regan's Leftfoot Show of 2 March I discovered today over at Different Drummer. The Backroom Bandits' track in there is gorgeous. Marc Mac (aka 4Hero)'s recent R Solution over at Nuwaveradio is also a good listen.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

sense and insensibility

Can someone tell me from where in an administration which has 140,000 troops in Iraq the piquant high dudgeon comes to scream about the removal of another country's 14,000 troops from Lebanon?

And does this aforementioned government really think that one of the major players to step up in the vaccumm WON'T be Hizb'allah?

Just saying.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

North XV vs South XV

To my American readers, no I'm not talking about yet another civil war recreation society, but today's rugby match at Twickenham where the cat's cream of world rugby lined up against each other to raise money for the World Food Programme's six month post-Tsunami operation. I rate it a great decision by the International Rugby Board to direct the funds in this direction as the WFP moves into the reconstruction phase.

That the game raised over a million quid in ticket sales and sponsorship was fantastic. Even if to put it in fair perspective, this figure is less than one per cent of the WFP's operational budget for tsunami reconstruction, let alone their global operations. So whether attending the game, or text messaging in a donation, or just sitting on the couch enjoying an amber fueled inner glow of altruism, we need to keep our wits about us of the scale of the challenge yet to be faced both in this area and in the other 'South'.

Off the soapbox now. Lets get down to brass tacks, or perhaps boot studs: what kind of play would be on offer? Would the Northern players, deep in the stride of their Six Nations season smash the Southerners just coming into their peak, not to mention hopping off the plane from a 24 hour flight? Or would the South's near week of preparation be the edge over the North, who only came together for the first time the day before the game?

While there's the occasional Barbarians game that creates similar conditions, it's rarely of a similar calibre. So the most intrigung and amusing aspect for rugby fans was watching the unique halves combination of George Gregan and Andrew Mehrtens at work, feeding the ball to Tana Umanga and (man of the match) Latham of Socks Down in the outside backs. Some great players from the anitpodes I hadn't seen on the field before included Fijian Sereli Bobo, a winger with blistering pace, Samoan captain Semo Setiti who came on to score two tries late in the game, and brawling Aussie hero-of-yore Toutai Kefu in from his club in Japan.

Well with star waterboy Matty Burke serving from the sideline for the South, any jet lag fatigue seemed to be well taken care of. Also, to be fair to the North a good number of the best players were sitting out through injury, or perhaps 'injury' with the Six Nations championship still up for grabs next week. Most notable of these was Irish captain Brian O'Driscoll. But the scoreboard shows that the South simply outclassed their Northern cousins in an offensive duel, running in 8 tries to 3 to go away 54-19 victors.

I'm sure the annual rugby calendar is a busy affair, and coordinating the respective hemispherical seasons would be a trick. But I reckon this kind of charity spectacle would be a killer fixed addition to the calendar in non-world cup years.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

zoe is so right

My very good Canberrian mate and corruptor of youth Zoe (nb, not that Zoe) draws our attention in the comments box to the eastern European commercialisation of Angst...

Angst delivered to your door!

The Angst board of directors!

The Angst production line. Note the hightst standards of protective garmentry to prevent any inadvertent employee cheerfulness from tainting the product.

The Angst marketing department!

Another satisfied customer left feeling unloved and deeply wounded by the state of the world!