It's coming... o v e r y o u r h e a d . . .

Crawling through technology, life and love

Contact me:


Super Mario Bros Wii

Podcasts - Chris Moyles, Mark Kermode and Economist

All 24 25 Tintin books

Bits and Bobs:
Wish List
Gerry's Lyrics Pop Quiz
Minipops Quiz

Sites I like:
Marc Almond
Top 40 Singles
The Register
Recent GBlogs
Arsenal FC

Some blogs I enjoy:
troubled diva

Books recently read:
Time Out Guide to Havana (and Cuba)
And The Hippos Were Boiled In Their Tanks - William S Burroughs and Jack Kerouac
At My Mother's Knee ... and Other Low Joints: The Autobiography - Paul O'Grady
Star Maker - Olaf Stapledon
My Booky Wook - Russell Brand
When You Are Engulfed in Flames - David Sedaris
Then We Come To The End - Joshua Ferris
A Spot of Bother - Mark Haddon
The End of Mr. Y - Scarlett Thomas
I Never Knew That About London - Christopher Winn
The Arsenal Miscellany - Adam Gold
Young Hearts Run Free: The Real Story of the 1970s - Dave Haslam
Magical Thinking - Augusten Burroughs
Veronika Decides To Die - Paulo Coelho
Time Out Guide - Amsterdam
Lillian's Story - Kate Grenville
The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins
Schott's Original Miscellany - Ben Schott
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J K Rowling
A Gay History Of Britain - Matt Cook
Time Out Guide to Madrid
Time Out Guide to New York
Kingdom Come - J. G. Ballard
The Hours - Michael Cunningham
Mutants - Aramand Marie Leroi
A Young Man's Passage - Julian Clary
Growing Pains - Billie Piper
The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
Wild Swans - Jung Chang
Highbury: The Story of Arsenal N.5 - Jon Spurling
Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins - Rupert Everett
Affinity - Sarah Waters
Lighthousekeeping - Jeanette Winterson
Tipping The Velvet - Sarah Waters
The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
Of Human Bondage - W Somerset Maugham
Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
Lucky Man - Michael J Fox
Labyrinth - Kate Mosse
Fingersmith - Sarah Waters
The Night Watch - Sarah Waters
The Pedant's Revolt - Andrea Barham
The Republic Of Trees - Sam Taylor
Written On tbe Body - Jeanette Winterson
Untold Stories - Alan Bennett
The Plot Against America - Philip Roth
Read All About It - Max Clifford
The Folding Star - Alan Hollinghurst
Thursbitch - Alan Garner
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim - David Sedaris
Staying Alive - Matt Beaumont
The Bookseller Of Kabul - Asne Seierstad
Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince - J K Rowling
A Short History Of Nearly Everything - Bill Bryson
Count Karlstein - Philip Pullman
The Shadow Of The Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
The Spell - Alan Hollinghurst
The Double Life Of Daniel Glick - Maurice Caldera
The Smoking Diaries - Simon Gray
Straight- Boy George
Digital Fortress - Dan Brown
Deception Point - Dan Brown
The Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency - Alexander McCall Smith
Angels and Demons - Dan Brown
Sydney - Time Out Guide
Oryx and Crake - Margaret Atwood
Eleanor Rigby - Douglas Coupland
The Scarecrow and His Servant - Philip Pullman
Tha Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
The Perks Of Being A Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky
Planet Simpson - Chris Turner
The Line Of Beauty - Alan Hollinghurst
Barcelona - Time Out Guide
The Closed Circle - Jonathan Coe
The Clerkenwell Tales - Peter Ackroyd
Copenhagen - TimeOut Guide
The Butterfly Tattoo - Philip Pullman
The Broken Bridge - Philip Pullman
In Search of the Pleasure Palace - Marc Almond
Brick Lane - Monica Ali
Vernon God Little - DBC Pierre
Last Exit To Brooklyn - Hubert Selby Jr
You Shall Know Our Velocity - Dave Eggers
Touching The Void - Joe Simpson
Life Of Pi - Yann Martel
Istanbul - Time Out Guide
Millennium People - J G Ballard
The Duchess Who Wouldn't Sit Down - Jesse Browner
Hey Nostradamus! - Douglas Coupland
Eats, Shoots and Leaves - Lynne Truss
The Wind-up Bird Chronicle - Haruki Murakami
Our Man In Havana - Graham Greene
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - Mark Haddon
Lyra's Oxford - Philip Pullman
Doran - Will Self
Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides
the book, the film, the t-shirt - matt beaumont
High Society - Ben Elton
Man And Wife - Tony Parsons
I Was A Rat - Philip Pullman
Harry Potter: The Order of the Phoenix - J R Rowling
Great Apes - Will Self
Barrel Fever - David Sedaris
Round Ireland With A Fridge - Tony Hawkes
Close Range - Annie Proux
The Third Way - Anthony Giddens
dot.con - John Cassidy
The Salmon of Doubt - Douglas Adams
One Hit Wonderland - Tony Hawkes
The Thief Lord - Cornelia Funke
The Corrections - Jonathan Franzen
The Cloud Sketcher - Richard Rayner
Keane: the Autobiography - Roy Keane
A Wasteland of Strangers - Bill Pronzini
The English - Jeremy Paxman
How to Lose Friends and Alienate People - Toby Young
Dead Famous - Ben Elton
The Amber Spyglass - Phillip Pullman (again)
The Subtle Knife - Phillip Pullman (again)
Northern Lights - Phillip Pullman (again)
The Bear and The Dragon - Tom Clancy
101 Reykjavik - Hallgrimur Helgason
Forward The Foundation - Isaac Asimov
Carter Beats The Devil - Glen David Gold
The Tin Princess - Philip Pullman
Atonement - Ian McEwan
The Tiger In The Well - Philip Pullman
The Rotters Club - Jonathan Coe
Generation X - Douglas Copeland
Perfume - Patrick Suskind
All Families Are Psychotic - Douglas Coupland
The Shadow In The North - Phillip Pullman
No Logon - Naomi Klein
The Dirt - Motley Crue
Miss Wyoming - Douglas Coupland
The Amber Spyglass - Phillip Pullman
The Subtle Knife - Phillip Pullman
Northern Lights - Phillip Pullman
The Ruby in the Smoke - Phillip Pullman
The Sandman - Miles Gibson
Blood and Gold: The Vampire Marius - Anne Rice
The Actrocity Exhibition - J G Ballard
Shameless - Paul Burston
Sing Out! - Boze Hadleigh
Brilliant Orange - David Winner
New Boy - William Sutcliffe
London - Peter Ackroyd
Wonder Boys - Michael Chabon
One For My Baby - Tony Parsons
How To Be Good - Nick Hornby
White Teeth - Zadie Smith
Lust - Geoff Ryman
Tulip Fever - Deborah Moggach
Dead Souls - Ian Rankin
The House Of Sleep - Jonathan Coe
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius - Dave Eggers
What a carve up! - Jonathan Coe
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay - Michael Chabon
The Grapes Of Wrath - John Steinbeck
Heartwood - James Lee Burke
Cryptonomicon - Neal Stephenson
Man and Boy - Tony Parsons
The Map Of Love - Ahdaf Soueif
e - Matt Beaumont
The e Before Christmas - Matt Beaumont


September 1971
February 2001
March 2001
April 2001
May 2001
June 2001
July 2001
August 2001
September 2001
October 2001
November 2001
December 2001
January 2002
February 2002
March 2002
April 2002
May 2002
June 2002
July 2002
August 2002
September 2002
October 2002
November 2002
December 2002
January 2003
February 2003
March 2003
April 2003
May 2003
June 2003
July 2003
August 2003
September 2003
October 2003
November 2003
December 2003
January 2004
February 2004
March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008
June 2008
July 2008
August 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
December 2008
January 2009
February 2009
March 2009
April 2009
May 2009
June 2009
July 2009
August 2009
September 2009
October 2009
November 2009
December 2009
January 2010
February 2010
March 2010

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?
Friday, March 19, 2010
Last night Paul treated me to Satyagraha at the ENO. It was brilliantly hypnotic. Jaw-droppingly wonderful. In has to be in the top ten best things I've seen on stage. Ever.

The opera is in three acts for orchestra, chorus and soloists. It was composed by Philip Glass, with a libretto by Glass and Constance de Jong. It's loosely based on the life of Mohandas Gandhi. The term satyagraha is the philosophy and practice of nonviolent resistance developed by Gandhi himself.

Act I. Tolstoy
On the Kuru Field of Justice
Tolstoy Farm (1910)
The Vow (1906)

Act II. Tagore
Confrontation and Rescue (1896)
Indian Opinion (1906)
Protest (1908)

Act III. King
New Castle March (1913)

Philip Glass's music is simply glorious: those repetitive patternings shifting and shining with ingenious rhythmic and melodic ideas, interlocking, overlapping, yet ever calm. But it was the staging that made the night so wonderful. So enchanting.

The director of the piece was Phelim McDermott (Shockheaded Peter) and Julian Crouch is the assistant director and set designer. Boy, they did an amazing job.

All three acts take place within an arc-like wall of curving corrugated iron. Within the slow waves of music and human movement, an ensemble of acrobats and puppeteers conjure miracle after miracle. Newsprint looms large: there is a ubiquitous whispering of newspaper as sheets are shifted, read (the founding of Indian Opinion was central to Gandhi’s work) — and then, almost imperceptibly, formed into gigantic papier-mâché puppet-figures of gods, beasts and politicians.

High in the iron wall, windows disclose the three iconic figures who watch over the three acts: Tolstoy, Tagore and Martin Luther King.

The beauty of the sung Sanskrit is bewitching: sober sepia projections of key passages replace supertitles; but verbal comprehension isn’t really the point. Although it would be inappropriate to single out individual performances in a work that has so little to do with conventional operatic glory, Alan Oke’s central performance as Gandhi is a masterpiece of compelling clarity and absorption.

As the last act unfolds, the great wall buckles and disintegrates, leaving a miming silhouette of the preaching King high on his plinth, and the diminutive figure of Gandhi below, singing a simple rising scale — no fewer than thirty times.

Stand out moments of the night for me were:
- the amazing floating coat hangers and the equally amazing floating lights lifted up high
- the weaving and crumpling up of a huge web of sellotape to produce at first a barrier, then a giant puppet man then an image of Gandhi himself
- the long newspaper streams across the stage that became first a barrier, then wings for Gandhi and then again sky high banners for projecting words all in one fluid motion.

Image after image is etched indelibly on the memory, in its masterly fusion of the aural and the visual. Go see.

What is hard and seven inches long?...
My pen is.

Thursday, March 18, 2010
I Love You Phillip Morris...
Last night Stu and I went to I Love You Phillip Morris. I'd been dying to see this film since I first heard about it and it's trouble in gaining a cinema release.

The film is a comedy-drama film based on the real life events of gay con artist, impostor, and multiple prison escapee Steven Jay Russell and his love for prison cell mate Phillip Morris. And it certainly was an unusual film. An unbelievably twisted story that can only be based on real events. Quite sweet in parts and rather explicit in others.

In fact four people walked out. The frequent blow jobs they were fine with. I don't think they liked Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor kissing each other. To some, a kiss is far more threatening than a blow job.

If you fancy a diverting trip to the cinema give it a whirl!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Whom The Gods Would Destroy...
'Tis a tough day at the grindstone today. Things generally 'work' or can be 'fixed'. People on the other hand 'don't' or 'can't'. People are cunts. Still, firm hand on the tiller today and full steam ahead. I shall come through this with my sanity intact. Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010
10 types of people...
There are only 10 types of people in the world. Those who understand ternary, those who don't and those who mistake it for binary.

Monday, March 15, 2010
In Praise of the Sci-fi Corridor...
There's a moment in every geek's life when one goes for the 'communal hug' on a pet-subject and finds oneself unexpectedly out in the cold. The piano player stops playing. The landlord shakes his head as his eyes head heavenward, and he slinks away to rearrange the crisps. The lonely sound of a misdirected dart is all that haunts the otherwise silent pub. And it's definitely time to get your anorak. "You like what...?"

Corridors in science-fiction movies.
This guy loves them.

Friday, March 12, 2010
Egypt Photos...
Click for slideshow.

Jordan Photos...
Click for slideshow.

Thursday, March 11, 2010
Put A Donk On It (signed)...
I love the way the BSL signer gamely enters into the spirit of this frankly ludicrous song. "Big fish, little fish, cardboard box" indeed.

Doctor Who...
The first three episodes of the new Doctor Who have been confirmed as:

The Eleventh Hour, written by Steven Moffat
The Beast Below, also by Steven Moffat
Victory of the Daleks by Mark Gatiss

They will be shown from Easter Saturday.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Carol Vorderman - Swearing!...

The Genius Of Wenger...
Almunia - 2.5mil
Sagna - 6mil
Campbell - free
Vermaelen - 10mil
Clichy - 0.25mil
Song - 1 mil
Diaby - 2mil
Nasri - 12mil
Rosicky - 6.8 mil
Arshavin - 15mil
Bendtner - 0.2mil
Fabianski - 2mil
Eduardo - 7.5mil
Walcott - 9.1mil
Denilson - 3.4mil
Silvestre - 0.75mil
Eboue - 1mil
Traore - 0.25mil
Total cost: £79.75 mil

In the time since we bought these players we have made £140mil in transfers out. Also the average Chelski team (e.g. team fielded against us in November) cost £280mil - check

Wenger is a transfer GENIUS.

Windows 3.1 in JavaScript
Clever reconstruction of Windows 3.1

Tuesday, March 09, 2010
How To Enjoy A 3D Movie...

Monday, March 08, 2010
Periodic Table...
Do you know what the chemical elements look like? No? Well look no further than here:

Sunday, March 07, 2010
Jordan, UK: Day Twelve...
I barely slept our last night in Amman - excitement about going home, a strange door banging most of the night and a more than vague fear for the upcoming fight. The Marriott made up breakfast boxes for us as were leaving early and the transfer to the airport was easy. The flight was relatively calm (clear skies all the way) but I came down with a different kind of bump - on landing I got a call from the head office on my moby. Problems at work. So after dropping my stuff off at home I spent four hours in a freezing cold comms room trying to identify a dodgy cable connection. Not the best end to a lovely holiday to be honest.

Saturday, March 06, 2010
Jordan: Day Eleven...
Another early start for us and we were off touring some of thousand year old castles and forts as we made our way up (or should I say down) to the Dead Sea. Four hundred metres below sea level we had finally descended to the lowest place on earth.

Once in the water we tried to swim but just ended up floating. I'd never really quite believed all those pictures of people floating but it's really true. You just bounce up to the surface. We naturally did the newspaper reading too. We even had a mud bath.

Having washed all (most?) of the mud and salt from ourselves we then drove up to Amman where we were to spend our last night before flying back home to the UK.

Friday, March 05, 2010
Jordan: Day Ten...
Up early, we made our way down the valley slopes to the ancient ‘hidden’ city of Petra. Josef dropped us off at the entrance and we engaged a guide, Ali. It was an incredible day with one wow after the other. It started off with us both horse-riding down to the narrow crack in the mountains known as the Siq. This then lead to a deep path winding down through the solid rock for a mile to reveal the truly amazing pink Treasury building carved out of the mountainside. It was crawling with tourists of course but we still managed to get some good photographs. It’s used in the final scene of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and it just gave you a pink glow being anywhere near it.

Further down the valley we saw an entire city carved out of the valley walls – all in brilliantly red sandstone, We saw magnificent Royal Tombs, an amphitheatre, temples and then climbed up 800 steps to the top of a further mountain to see another edifice carved out of the mountainside known as the Monastery. All quite incredible.

If you ever get a chance to come here, do.

Thursday, March 04, 2010
Egypt, Israel and Jordan: Day Nine...
We were up at the crack of dawn in our Dahab hotel really and packed for our next adventure. This time it was to be three countries in one day: Egypt to Israel, twenty minutes or so crossing through Eilat and then on to Jordan. At the numerous checkpoints en route we pretended to be Australians – the Egyptian police were still a bit sore after the previous night’s drumming at footie.

The first guide we had for the day was Ahmed. He spend much of his time enlightening us on the virtues (pun intended) of a virgin bride and indeed the benefits of multiple wives.

Our transfer through Israel was efficient and quick. A rather lovely Scottish lady made it all very easy for us. Gosh, there was a lot of paper work to fill in though.

Once in Jordan a nice man called Josef collected us. We stopped off at a bureau de change to swap our Egyptian pounds into Jordan Dinars and at a pharmacy to pick up so antibiotics for Stu (he had picked up a tummy bug in Dahab.)

Then we drove to the rather magnificent mountainous Wadi Rum (a few hours inland) for a Bedouin lunch and a jeep safari into the neighbouring desert. The driver was a Bedouin guy and his son. We stopped off to take some tea with the guy’s extended family and then on to listen to some Bedouin music at a neighbouring tent. All very interesting and it was funny how all the kids gathered round us to point and laugh. They thought Stu and I were brothers at first and seem fascinated by our cropped hair and blue eyes.

The safari over we hopped back in the car and drove for a couple of hours on up to Petra to check into the Marriott hotel.

Egyptian Reggae - Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers...

Wednesday, March 03, 2010
Egypt: Day Eight...
Strange day this one. It didn’t start well. We got up and had a shower. Unfortunately we were both electrocuted in the shower. Ouch! 220 volts doesn’t really set you up well for the day. We think the extractor fan had a loose cable and touching the tap, the back wall or the shower shelf gave us a really vicious belt.

We complained – nicely - and were swapped (and upgraded) to a deluxe room. First thing we did was check the shower in the new room for electric shocks.
After breakfast Sami picked us up and took us to the famous diving location the Blue Hole. Here we picked up some masks and flippers and did some snorkelling. The coral shelf was pretty spectacular although not quite as good as that off the coast of Jeddah on the other side of the Red Sea.

Unfortunately it wasn’t my lucky day as I got a rather nasty gash from the coral that didn’t seem to want to stop bleeding. We had a bite to eat at a restaurant just off the beach where an Australian woman noticed by bleeding leg and produced an alcoholic spray, some brown antiseptic and a Band Aid. It rather put Sami’s neat lemon juice remedy to shame – both were much appreciated though.

We wanted to head back to the hotel to chill out after lunch but Sami was getting rather persistent with his suggestions of things to do. We had to be firm and say, “Take us back to the hotel.” He meant well, bless him, but we weren’t really getting through to him that we wanted some time alone.

Once we did get back to the hotel we checked out our new upgraded room, lounged around on oversized sun-loungers and swam in the infinity swimming pool. We even found a Jacuzzi, a sauna and a steam room to help us relax.

We then had a luxurious bath back in our room (we were definitely water babies this day) before changing for a beach side beer, a posh buffet and another early night.

Well, I say ‘early night’ I sneaked out to watch the England vs Egypt football game being shown on the hotel’s terrace bar. 3-1! Get in!

The Friends of Mr. Cairo - Jon and Vangelis...

Tuesday, March 02, 2010
Egypt: Day Seven...
We got up early on our last day in Cairo and met up with Sayed – our transitional rep – for our drive though the Sinai desert to Dahab. Sayed had two drivers for the minibus with him as Health and Safety (Egypt branch) dictated that drivers can only drive for four hours at a stretch and the trip was estimated up to eight hours (yeah, right!)

The trip was actually fairly uneventful taking over an hour to get out of Cairo and then largely involving hundreds of miles of desert roads. It was however quite exciting driving through the tunnel under the Suez canal. Oh yes, and we got a rear flat tyre in the middle of nowhere which wasn’t much fun. For starters the wheel wouldn’t come off the axle as it was too hot so we sat by the side of the road waiting for it to cool down. Thoughts of proceeding on camel crossed our minds but sadly no Bedouins or Lawrence of Arabia types came to our rescue.
Once we got those wing-nuts loosened, the wheel changed and everything tightened up we were on our way again - passing through a total of nine security checkpoints en route. At each one the driver would gesture his thumb back at us and say, “English”. The armed checkpoint guards seemed happy with this simple explanation and we were waved through.

Apparently American tourists are obliged to have a security guard with them at all times. The English are considered harmless and less of a kidnap threat I guess.

After nearly nine hours we were finally in Dahab. At a petrol station the local rep Sami joined the merry throng in the van. Budge up everyone. He seemed a nice enough guy and after Sayed and his drivers had all been suitably tipped, we were dropped off at the rather posh Le Meridien hotel to settle in and shower and change.

Our room seemed pretty fabulous (more of that later) with a sea view and we arranged to meet up with Sami early evening so he could show us around downtown Dahab.

We sussed out the best places to buy beer and settled upon the rather touristy Ali Baba restaurant on the front to eat - surrounded by cats, flashing lights, Bedouin kids begging and our rep playing gooseberry. The food was fine – only fine mind you – but we didn’t hang around too long. We fancied an early night.

Walk Like An Egyptian - The Bangles...

Monday, March 01, 2010
Egypt: Day Six...
Our friendly neighbourhood guide Abdo was there to meet our train at Giza station as we pulled in at 5:30am – the hero – and we were soon transferred and checked into the palatial Marriott Hotel in downtown Cairo. We even managed to get a couple of hours of shut-eye before our arranged meet with our favourite Egyptologist Hamdi at 10am. First on the agenda was Coptic Cairo – specifically The Roman Towers and The Hanging Church (so named as it was built high above the then ground-level upon a gate). Next we ventured uphill to The Citadel district and the impressive Turkish influenced Mosque of Mohammed Ali – complete with twinkling chandeliers and panorama view of the whole city. Finally we headed to the bustling Khan al-Khalili bazaar where thousands of local businesses vie for the tourist pound. All great fun but after all that walking we were ready for some rest.

We got back to the hotel for some nosh and on the way back to our room decided to have a quick hair-cut - a hair-cut that turned into an up-sellers dream of facials, shaving and exfoliation. D'oh! £75 later we felt great but also very poor.

An early night was ahead of us as it was to be another very early start in the morning. We were leaving Cairo and had a seven hour drive across the Sinai to look forward to.

Night Boat To Cairo - Madness...

Sunday, February 28, 2010
Egypt: Day Five...
We took a day off from sightseeing today. We got up late, did a spot of sun-bathing by the pool and generally just enjoyed the rest. At the end of the day we gazed out across the Nile towards sunset past the Valley of the Kings on the opposite bank. Later on we got changed and headed for Luxor station for our second sleeper of the trip – a night train back up north to Cairo.

Unfortunately this was a miserable experience from start to finish. In the sleeper cabin next to us was a guy with a DVD playing at full blast. We were going to say something but as we opened the door to the corridor we saw that he had a very large automatic gun over his shoulder – the type you see in terrorist films. We careful reversed back into our cabin and closed the door deciding that caution was the better part of valour. Later on we discovered that there was a VIP in our carriage and that explained all the security personnel on board.

As if the noise of the DVD man wasn’t enough the top bunk in our cabin kept banging violently against the wall as the train progressed its way down the Nile so we ended up having no sleep whatsoever – despite taking something to knock ourselves out. Bah!

Saturday, February 27, 2010
Egypt: Day Four...
It was an early start for our second day in Luxor – breakfast at 6am and then hitting the trail to the West Bank of the Nile. Our Egyptologist Ahmed was all smiles as he said he wanted to show us his favourite sites in Luxor. First was the Habu Temple – a huge structure with massive columns, brilliantly vivid hieroglyphics and what has to be the oldest surviving bathroom in history.

Next we visited the Al-Deir Al-Bahari Temple which had been partially restored by an American team. The temple had been built against a rock face and looked pretty dramatic. Originally the place had been constructed by the New Kingdom’s very own female fatale pharaoh Hatshepsut. By all accounts she was a pretty strict ruler and when her son-in-law/nephew/step-son (inter-marriage was big back then) Tuthmosis III took to the throne he had all her images chiselled off this temple. Actually he had her image chiselled off EVERY temple. The sort of ancient Egyptian equivalent of cutting people out of old photographs, I suppose.

Last, but by no means least, we visited The Valley Of The Kings. Looking rather like an old quarry the places was littered with entrances to tombs. The three we chose to visit were:

Ramses III - a beautifully decorated tomb with highly detailed depictions from The Book of Gates.

Tuthmosis III – this tomb was deep, colourful and in pretty good shape. The guy obvious loved his mother as they were both painted on the same boat in the burial chamber – a rare thing to do. He obviously died at short notice too because what with only 70 days to mummify the body they didn’t have time to properly carve the hieroglyphics – most were simple painted straight onto the walls.

Ramses IX – a very big tomb full of pictures of Ra, slaves and serpents from The Book of The Dead.

It had a real wow factor that valley I can tell you. Afterwards we headed back to the hotel to rest, eat and take it easy. You do a lot of walking on these site visits.

Friday, February 26, 2010
Egypt: Day Three...
The sleeper train from Cairo to Luxor was a bit of an adventure. Sure, it was comfortable enough but it’s hard to sleep properly when it’s all stop/start and side to side lurching. We were met at the Luxor train station by our second rep of the trip, Ahmed. Another minibus journey through Luxor’s pleasant and sun drenched streets and we were in our palatial hotel beside the Nile called, appropriately enough, the Nile Palace Hotel.

First we had lunch by the pool before heading off to do a bit of exploring. For this we had engaged another Egyptologist, also named Ahmed, who took us to the rather wonderful Karnak Temple (a massive structure on the Nile) followed by equally impressive Luxor Temple in the downtown area.

Both temples were upwards of three thousand years old and furnished with numerous obelisks, pylons, sphinxes and hieroglyphics covered walls telling tales of Hatshepsut and Tuthmosis III (more of these two later), Ra the sun god and various Pharaohs through the ages. All pretty amazing stuff, I can tell you.

Having had our full for the day of Egyptian antiquities we headed back to the hotel for some supper and an early night. For tomorrow we would be doing the West Bank.

Thursday, February 25, 2010
Egypt: Day Two...
What a day this turned out to be! We were up early to pack and to grab some of the carefully selected buffet breakfast in the Mena House Hotel’s palatial dining rooms. We’d heard many tales of Egyptian belly so were picking the safest options (avoiding peeled fresh fruit and things that had obviously been washed in local water). This culinary pickiness was confirmed by our tour guide Abdo, who we meet later down in the lobby, with the simple explanation that Egyptian water had too much purifying chlorine added to it and so was disagreeable to Western tastes. An argument that seemed slightly self-serving but was delivered with such a broad smile we could not help but take it was the truth.

We had engaged an Egyptologist for the day whose name was Hamdi. He was a pretty friendly chap and soon put us at our ease. Once aboard the Egypt Lady van we drove all of sixty seconds to the Pyramids proper (I told you it was close!)

We had the full statistical tour chat from Hamdi (the largest of the three pyramids has two million blocks, weighs six million tons, was built by farmers not slaves etc.) took our snaps, fended off the annoyingly persistent touts and climbed up one or two of the levels on the Great Pyramid. The tourist police let you get to level three before blasting their whistles at you to climb no further. The middle sized Pyramid we decided to enter. Crouching down we scrabbled in. It was hot, humid and really rather fun. No cameras were allowed in sadly. Well, not officially anyway. Tee hee.

We when drove round to the panorama location for the obligatory tourist snaps. Sadly, it had just started to rain but we didn’t let that spoil the view or our excitement. Hamdi knew just the right places to stand and suggested one or two fun shots to take too. An old hand at this obviously.

Back in the van we circled round to see the Sphinx. Carved from a solid piece of rock this noseless guardian of the Pyramids was as large as it was impressive.

After that four and half thousand year old spectacle we dropped by a Papyrus factory to see another one. We watched a demo of how the plant gets peeled, sliced, soaked, laid out and pressed to form the ancient paper material. I ended up buying a couple of replicas too. Well, you would, wouldn’t you?

Then it was on to The Egyptian Museum to get what was the merest whiff of some of the treasures it contained. Numerous antiquities were on display from statues, vases and mummies to Tutankhamen’s death mask and his solid gold coffin. It was quite some collection. We were both rather surprised at quite how easy it was to touch the exhibits though - forbidden to do so but the finger stains told a different story. In fact one of the Egyptologists we spoke to thought that both France and Britain should hang on to their Egyptian treasures until the new Egyptian Museum is completed (it’s currently under construction). Prime example cited was the Rosetta Stone. “Keep it for now”, he said, “It’ll be safer.”

After the wow factor of the museum we headed for a bite to eat at the downtown and rather down market Egypt Lady hotel – a rather tacky experience to be honest made even more bizarre when the heavens opened and the rain poured through the roof into the restaurant. We scrabbled to the bar for cover but the rain just kept on coming down - in buckets. On advice we left for the train station early just in case there were any weather related delays. Cairo traffic is pretty much the worst I have ever seen in my life – add to this the torrential rain, the mud and the weekend crowds - it made the traffic in Blade Runner look like a ride in the countryside. It was bumper to bumper gridlock all the way to the station. It got so late that we had to abandon our minibus and leg it down the dimly lit mud slide that was highway 1, jumping a spike covered wall to make it to the station on time. Once there we ended up waiting for two hours on the platform anyway as all the trains were delayed. Grrr. Still, at least we hadn’t missed our train.

When the train finally arrived, we climbed aboard and prepared ourselves for a night in a sleeper cabin and the 500 mile journey down south to Luxor. What a day!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Egypt: Day One...
We packed for our holiday rather late - as usual. As you may know, dear Reader, I detest flying so anything to delay the inevitable trip to the airport gets my subconscious plotting like softie Walter trying to avoid bumping into Dennis the Menace on the way to school. These tardiness tactics included the multiple rechecking where my passport was – still safely secured in my left front pocket some hours previously - the endless questioning of Stuart over what clothes to take, “should take TWO pairs of jeans or one?” and the desperate last minute time-waster “I’m just going to have a shave.” Again.

In spite all of this procrastination we made it to Heathrow T3 a good three hours before the flight was due to leave. Damn you subconscious. You must try harder next time.

The flight was a code share. So whilst we’d booked with BMI we were actually due to enjoy the delightful service as provided by almost bottom leaguers Egypt Air. Check-in was a breeze however and luckily the Egyptian national carrier had ditched most of their dodgy Russian-bought fleet so we were actually boarded upon a relatively safe Boeing 777/300. Joy on joy the flight was half empty too so take-off was on time and the on board food service fast.

The single central aisle-shared video screen left something to be desired in the in-flight entertainment department but we coped. On that note, does Sandra Bullock EVER make a good film these days?

The flight lasted five hours and passed without much incident. The landing was a little bumpy but then that was to be expected what with all the cloud cover. Yes, we were flying into a desert region that had a weather forecast of heavy rain for two days. Ugh.
The guy from Egypt Uncovered who met us at Cairo’s new terminal was called Abdo. He was very charming if a little over-friendly in that tour guide kind of way. The van that picked us up was called Egypt Lady. Quite.

The hotel we were booked into was called the Mena House Hotel and was in Giza. It was a grand, gold leafed hotel with what could only be described as an intimate view of The Pyramids. They were pretty much in the hotel’s back garden.

As it was getting close to midnight we simply grabbed a nightcap in the lobby bar (G&T and a beer came to just under £20 sterling - who said Egypt was cheap?) before heading to our room for a good night’s sleep.

Egypt - Kate Bush...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Bass-o-matic - Fascinating Rhythm...
Gosh, I love this song. Good old William Orbit.

(Got ya) (Devastating) Give me some of that bass line on your stereo / Give me the funky rhythm and we're ready to go / A little something for the heart, some medicine for the soul / And now we got it under full control.

Monday, February 22, 2010
Doctor Who coming Easter 2010...
Watch the new trailer here.

iPad vs Blu-tak...

Sunday, February 21, 2010
Depeche Mode...
Last night Paul, Simon, Stu and I went to see Depeche Mode to the O2 Arena. TfL ("tough f*cking luck"?) had decided to close the the Overground, the Jubilee Line AND the North Greenwich Bus Garage so we were rather stymied for options for getting to the gig. We ended up getting buses, tubes, DLR and eventually a boat to get there. Grrr.

Anyway, the gig was fab; loud, brash and full of sing-along hits. We loved it.

The set list was:
In Chains
Hole to Feed
Walking in My Shoes
It's No Good
A Question of Time
World In My Eyes
Miles Away/The Truth Is
Policy of Truth
In Your Room
I Feel You
Enjoy the Silence
Never Let Me Down Again

A Question of Lust
Behind the Wheel
Personal Jesus

Friday, February 19, 2010
Gary's Party / RVT...
Last Sunday was Gary's birthday so we all headed down to the RVT for a party. A lovely end to a lovely weekend. More snaps and video here.

A Well-Bred Person...
A well-bred person appears in print on only three occassions: birth, marriage, and death. "Yes, darling," he said, "but I'm not that well-bred."

Thursday, February 18, 2010
A Small Crucifiction...
It was a fantastic weekend just gone; party on a boat, party in club, Duckie, Carpet Burn, S*L*A*G*S*. As I was leaving Carpet Bun a man nudged me and whispered in my ear, "we are having a small Crucifiction after. Hope you can make it."

Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Where is that web site hosted?...
Every wondered where is that web site is hosted? Look no further.

< -5 BoyLOGS +5 ? > < webloggers > < # Blogging Brits ? >