New Year’s resolutions 2015

Here are my resolutions for 2015:

1. Read and see six Shakespeare plays.

I’m going to repeat my successful 2014 resolution and see six more. Again, the focus will be on comedies. Shakespeare’s Globe, which I love, is doing Measure for Measure and As You Like It. The Lion and Unicorn is doing The Taming of the Shrew. I’d still like to see an RSC production in Stratford, but their summer 2015 programme is no good to me. Others I’m interested in include: All’s Well That Ends Well, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Love’s Labour’s Lost, The Two Gentlemen of Verona and The Two Noble Kinsmen.

2. Repair my ZX Spectrum and complete The Lords of Midnight.

Having failed to do this in 2014, I’m having another go.

3. Crawl through the ventilation shafts of a large building.

This has been one of my life’s ambitions for many years. In 2015 I’m going to make a definite effort to achieve it.

New Year’s resolutions 2014: end of year review

Let’s review how I did on my 2014 New Year’s resolutions.

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New Year’s resolutions 2014: mid-period review

I announced four New Year’s resolutions for 2014 on this blog at the start of the year. Now we’ve reached the halfway point of the year, I thought I’d review how they’re going.

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Fighting the system in Manchester Central Library

Today, I experienced the most inappropriate and falsely aimed attempt to Stick It To The Man that I’ve ever seen.

I was working in Manchester Central Library. At one point in the late afternoon, someone started playing Elton John’s ‘Are You Ready For Love?’ very loudly on one of the library computers. People were tutting and looking around to see who it was. I think everyone was assuming it was an unruly teenager.

A librarian shouted out to tell whoever it was to stop, but it continued. Eventually the librarian came over and tracked down the source of the music: an elderly lady, who at first appeared oblivious to the fact that the music was even coming from her computer. The librarian showed her how to turn the music down, and left.

About a minute later, ‘Are You Ready For Love?’ was playing at full volume again. The librarian returned, thinking the dotty old crone was a bit confused and had accidentally repeated her error. But this time, rather than apologising and turning it off again, the old woman kicked off, cantankerously arguing with the librarian, calling her a ‘small-minded council bureaucrat’ and insisting on her right to play Elton John as loudly as she liked (on the computer facilities provided to her by small-minded council bureaucrats).

Then, she looked around at everyone else in the room, as if expecting us all to be right behind her in her crusade against petty officialdom. We weren’t. We all wanted her to stop playing Elton John as well.

My Tube Strike Journey

As a result of today’s Tube strike, it took me four and a quarter hours to get from Hackney to White City in Shepherd’s Bush. Admittedly, I didn’t go about it optimally. Here’s a breakdown of the journey:

  • I started in Hackney, where I’d been staying with friends. Time: 0830.
  • First I tried to take a bus to St Paul’s, where I had a 10 o’clock meeting. There were several suitable bus routes, but every bus that came past was full, and wouldn’t stop to pick up any more passengers. Waiting for bus: 55 minutes. Time: 0925.
  • I tried a new tactic: catch one of the nearly-empty buses going in the opposite direction on the same route. Bus in wrong direction: 15 minutes. Time: 0940.
  • I texted the person I was supposed to meet in the City to cancel, and decided to concentrate on getting to White City for 1300 instead.
  • Further up-route, the buses in the right direction were empty enough to be boardable. However, the traffic was heavily congested and progress was excruciatingly slow. By the time it had reached Shoreditch Church, I’d worked out an alternative, and got off. Bus from Hackney Wick to Shoreditch Church: 85 minutes. Time: 1105.
  • Most of the London Overground was running, so I went to the nearest station at Shoreditch High Street. Walking time: 10 minutes. Time: 1115.
  • Waiting for train: 10 minutes. Time: 1125.
  • Overground to Clapham Junction: 40 minutes. Time: 1205.
  • Waiting for next train: 10 minutes. Time: 1215.
  • Overground to Shepherd’s Bush: 15 minutes. Time: 1230.
  • Walk from Shepherd’s Bush to White City: 15 minutes. Time: 1245.
  • And I made it in time for the second meeting!

Lesson learned: check the operating services ahead of time and plan properly. I could have got to White City a lot quicker if I’d gone for the orbital Overground route earlier. Making the meeting in the City was always going to be difficult and I should probably have cancelled it as soon as the strike was confirmed.

New Year’s resolutions 2014

I didn’t really have any resolutions for 2013, because I was going to be making enough big changes in my life as it was – leaving the Army, travelling to India. I’m making several for 2014 though, and this is what they are:

1. Read and see six Shakespeare plays.

I’m OK with all the big names, like Hamlet, Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet, but beyond that my knowledge of Shakespeare is woeful. I need an intensive familiarisation programme, so I’ve decided to challenge myself to learn six more plays in a year, by both reading them, then seeing them performed.

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Back from India; blogging plans

So, I’m back. Already India feels like a surreal dream.

I have three travelogue pieces still to write and post: Varanasi, Lucknow and Delhi.

With all the backlog of admin to deal with, a wedding to attend, and of course Christmas, I probably won’t get a chance to do these before Christmas Day. I’ll try to post them in the week between Christmas and New Year.

In the longer term, I’ll be doing a few general posts about aspects of Indian society and culture as I see them, but that won’t be until January at the earliest, by which time Tom Bell Dot Net will be back to normal, and I’ll be fitting them in between posts about stupid news items and general annoyances.

Merry secular winter festival everyone, and a happy arbitrary time measurement boundary!

The Abbots Bromley Horn Dance

Ever since I accidentally bought a book about British folk traditions on Amazon a few years ago, I’ve been making an effort to attend a few of the more interesting ones. In the past two years I’ve been to the Haxey Hood Game, the Burning of Old Bartle in West Witton, Preston Guild Fair, and the York Mystery Plays.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to attend the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance, in and around the Staffordshire village of Abbots Bromley.

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Bitter gourd is bitter

Last weekend, my girlfriend and I went for a wander down Wilmslow Road, aka the Curry Mile, in Rusholme, Manchester. We passed a vegetable market and decided to buy a few things for dinner. We got some onions, aubergines and okra, and then spotted something that looked like this:

It looked amazing, like the sort of vegetable you’d expect to encounter just after landing on an alien world. Continue reading