Just Nathan

A musical offering, in parts
January 31, 2003

Vaguely kinky

Posted by nathan at 05:53 PM | Comments (0)


January 29, 2003
Eyes alright

Off to Dollond & Aitcheson for an eye test today. I'd been concerned that my eyes were getting worse (they're not that bad - I'm just a bit shortsighted). The result was confirmation that my prescrition is the same as for the last four years. I was then a bit annoyed when they trued to sell me new glasses, even when I know that my current ones are in good condition. Think I'll wait until I sit on them.

Posted by nathan at 08:55 PM | Comments (0)


January 28, 2003
In the news

Private Eye always gives me something to laugh about.

Celeb from Etavirp Yee

Posted by nathan at 06:50 PM | Comments (0)


January 27, 2003
Blix on Iraqi weapons

Read here

I'm starting to be won over to the American argument (we all criticise Chamberlain with 20/20 hindsight...)

Blix struggles to make his evidence stick, but he does raise a number of outstanding concerns:
• Iraq has not produced proof it destroyed stocks of anthrax
• Baghdad has failed to account for up to 300 rocket engines
• there was evidence it had not destroyed all its VX nerve gas
• Its weapons declaration last month contained no new material

Iraq says the problem is that it is being pressed to "prove a negative".
In public reactions to the Blix report, Iraq has accepted that it does still have significant differences with the inspection agency over two key issues:
• The UN's wish to conduct private interviews with Iraqi scientists and officials who may be able to shed light on whether Iraq has really given up its weapons of mass destruction capacity.
• The UN's plan to carry out U2 surveillance flights alongside the inspections on the ground.

The most worrying bit for me was the VX gas and the Iraqi deletion of a critical table of evidence and renumbering of the subsequent pages. Consiracy, not cockup.

Posted by nathan at 08:53 PM | Comments (0)


January 26, 2003
Use of English

“I’ve had an epiphany today"

I saw this on somebody's personal profile.


So I looked up "epiphany" in my dictionary.

Epiphany is a church festival celebrated on the 6th of January, the twelfth day after Christmas, in commemoration of the visit of the Magi of the East to Bethlehem, to see and worship the child Jesus; or, as others maintain, to commemorate the appearance of the star to the Magi, symbolising the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles.

1i A Christian feast celebrating the manifestation of the divine nature of Jesus to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi.
1ii January 6, on which this feast is traditionally observed.

2 A revelatory manifestation of a divine being.

3i A sudden manifestation of the essence or meaning of something.
3ii A comprehension or perception of reality by means of a sudden intuitive realisation: “I experienced an epiphany, a spiritual flash that would change the way I viewed myself”

If only I had an epiphany today.

Somehow I don't think so.

Posted by nathan at 12:29 PM | Comments (0)


January 25, 2003
Chomsky Beat 2

I found a link to some Chomsky interviews on the repercussions of 9/11. Isn't the BBC wonderful?

Of course, Douglas Rushkoff at NYU manages to bring Chomsky and Rambo into one sentence.

Rushkoff somehow believes in the possibility of power being devolved away from the media corporations and put in the hands of the public. "Things will only go horribly wrong if we as a media consuming culture decide to value more what they're selling than we can get from each other via the net or any other method. And if we value what they're selling, we'll get what we ask for. If people would rather watch Rambo than talk about Chomsky, then that's what they'll get. Right now what we really have is an opportunity for the people of this world to take charge of the global agenda. The controllers of society let the wars of society be fought in the ideological realm, which is the mediaspace. But now they've lost reins of the coach and I'm encouraging the idea that anyone can pick them up."

Does he really feel that the Internet frees our minds? I'm sitting at my desk, writing, when I could be out in the sunshine.

When reading Rushkoff’s blog I came across an interesting New York Times article from November 2002 about Judaism by Numbers. He asserts that “the Jewish people are not a race, to be preserved. Judaism is a set of ideas to be shared”. I can’t share that view. Judaism wasn’t "a loose amalgamation of peoples united around a new idea". It is a race and a religion. This, and his humanitarian interpretation of Jewish social consciousness, undermines the core proposition of his article, that the core strengths of Judaism are greatly needed in this modern, dangerous world, and that “it would be a terrible shame if the religion’s biggest concern continued to be itself”.

Posted by nathan at 11:42 PM | Comments (0)


Chomsky Beat

Noam Chomsky was interviewed by Francine Stock on BBC4 (one of the new digital stations). He talked about his optimism in the face of British and American aggression towards Iraq. He made the (obvious) comparison between the emperor and the pirate - the emperor being a pirate with a large fleet of ships. More interestingly, he placed the USA and UK in the mould of terrorists who are using the opportunity presented by 9/11 "to renew and intensify their violent actions.... an opportunity to clamp down further... on the civil liberties of their own citizens".

I'm terrified of the world around me.

Frightened sick and shaking that the bigots rule.

Because the world isn't "fair" and "rational"

And I'm powerless to light a candle strong enough to penetrate the murky gloom

"And darkness was upon the face of the deep"

Only Mahler saves me. I'm transported beyond the world to a place beyond care, suffering and where the music is intricate and disconnected from meaning - "there is no music on earth to compare with ours".

Back to my coffee.

Posted by nathan at 09:33 PM | Comments (4)


January 24, 2003
Chilli and beer

I hadn’t mentioned a horrible visit to the dental hygienist yesterday.

My client asked me to change everything we’re done from British English to American English. I’d already tried to take out British idiom and references, but there were still some words I didn’t know. For example “storey” is “story” and “whilst” is “while”.

In the evening, I met up with Alistair. We went to the Alexandra on Gwydir Street. With its pale wood and flowers it felt more like a hotel bedroom than a pub. Alistair is trying to educate me in the wonders of beer. He was able to explain in (frankly bewildering) detail the processes that go into brewing and serving beers. Intriguing, but it’s still beer. Nevertheless, it’s good to meet somebody who is so knowledgeable about the subjects of his enthusiasms. Our conversation drifted through the evening and made for a good wind-down from a wearisome week.

Posted by nathan at 11:45 PM | Comments (0)


January 23, 2003
It’s no mitzvah to be homophobic

In last weeks’ Jewish Chronicle, not a regular read for me, there was an article by an Orthodox Rabbi, David Sedley, calling for Jews to be more open-minded towards homosexuals.

Sedley argues the line that same-sex relationships are acceptable if not consummated. He discusses the difference between a Jew’s contract with God and with other people. His core point is that Jews must become more accepting of same-sex relationships. I can’t link to the article, as the JC requires that you pay a subscription, so here are three quotes:

“Yet we must, above all else, be tolerant. It was hatred that destroyed the Second Temple; and intolerance of others is the reason we are still in exile”.

“We can acknowledge homosexuality and same-sex relationships without accepting these as Jewish values. Surely we would do better to encourage stability and long-term commitment than to force people to live a lie…. So I call on everyone to be more open-minded”.

“We must reach out to every Jew in our community and train ourselves to see only that which is positive and good in one another. Let us recognise that homophobia is as destructive as any hatred based on religious or ethnic differences”.

In this week’s JC, Rabbi Daniel Levy writes that Sedley went too far. His argument is that “Judaism must send out the most forthright of messages” based upon biblical law. “Gay relationships are screened long before the 9pm watershed and so viewed by young children, adding to their confusion in a world where it is already difficult for them to learn what makes for a successful relationship. Today… everything goes”.

I was pleased to read this debate in Anglo-Jewry’s most established newspaper. It’s fascinating to contrast Sedley’s approach, based as it is upon the need for inclusiveness and tolerance, with Levy’s response, based upon the rule of law. Neither condones homosexual behaviour, but one responds with love and the other with hate.

Of course Levy will win. His prize will be the death of Judaism.

Posted by nathan at 11:21 PM | Comments (1)


January 22, 2003

Xavier came round for supper this evening. We had hors d’oeuvres, followed by rare grilled organic steaks and plain steamed vegetables, together with a rather good bottle of Chateau Lascombes 1991 (Margaux). Just how I like it.

We then went to the cinema to see Chicago. Well worthwhile. The story was fleshed out and overall differed sufficiently from the stage musical to excite my interest.

and all that jazz

And Richard Gere’s still dishy.

Posted by nathan at 11:25 PM | Comments (0)


January 21, 2003
Brum and little bro

I drove from Oxfordshire to Birmingham along a dark and blustery motorway, arriving at the University far too early. So I was able to think on the way and park right outside the Senate House. I haven’t heard back from Adam since the events of 5th January. There should be little surprise that he has made no further move. It is simply too difficult for him to do so.

The meeting in Birmingham was dreadful. I have spent a good deal of time and thought designing a project, and the client has taken out all of the original ideas whilst retaining an unattractive hulk of a proposal. No consultation. I came home fuming and will certainly think hard before renewing that contract. The trouble is that I care too much – it would be far less stressful if I were to be more detached from the process. I could just take the money and sleep more easily. But it's not me.

Posted by nathan at 11:24 PM | Comments (0)


January 20, 2003
An evening in Oxfordshire

I had supper with Jonathan and Fiona this evening. I enjoy my time with them very much - it's always fun to read stories to Emily who's now four years old and still very shy.

Much as I enjoy the company of my nephews, nieces and the children of my friends, I'm probably better off as an uncle than a father.

Posted by nathan at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)


January 19, 2003

I question my own motivations for writing this blog. I question the urge that drives me to seek new friendships on the Internet. I question, and analyse, and doubt.

Posted by nathan at 08:57 PM | Comments (0)


January 18, 2003
Surf & turf

Not an enjoyable day.

Posted by nathan at 11:36 PM | Comments (0)


January 17, 2003
A good feeling

I closed the big licence option deal for the client who isn't paying me any more. At least it makes me feel good. I can point to a job well done and the profit they'll make from it. I have carried out an interesting evaluation of my work for them over two years that shows I've charged them less than 15% of the actual sales, plus the potential of at least twice as much in long-term payments if the technology works. It's something I can be proud of, even if I won't be involved any longer. That's a pity, but I've learned from it that generosity and dedication doesn't really pay. In the end, it's my pride and craftsmanship that makes me want to see a sale closed.

Posted by nathan at 07:07 PM | Comments (0)


January 16, 2003
Mrs Warren's Profession

Another grim journey to and from London again today. I hear they're cutting the number of trains to improve the service. Idiots. It was a mild afternoon and the air was crystal clear, suffused with a pale January light. The rising moon hovered in the sky as I walked from Buckingham Palace Road to St. Martin's Lane. Oh London, our London!

I up for coffee with a guy from out with whom I've been chatting for a little while. A super guy with a sense of humour and poise in thinking.

Then on to Covent Garden and meeting with Howard - one of my longest-standing friends. We've known one another for 26 years. It was pleasant to catch up with him - we only manage to do so once or twice a year. We had a quick but pleasant meal at Livebait and then saw Mrs Warren's Profession at the Strand Theatre. Brenda Blethyn was in the title role of this rather histrionic and uninspiring production by Peter Hall. Rather too melodramatic and unsubtle for my taste. Anyway, it was a good evening out overall.

Howard, renovate your flat this year. I know you're reading this.

Posted by nathan at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)


January 15, 2003
Cosmo's a star

I hear that my illlustrious nephew Cosmo paid my parents a visit last Friday. just to say hello. Isn't that sweet?

Now I need to test my Godfather credentials with my niece.

Posted by nathan at 09:59 AM | Comments (0)


January 14, 2003
Twenty-four hours and it's gone

What happened today? What was I thinking about?

Posted by nathan at 02:47 PM | Comments (0)


January 13, 2003
There and back again

Down to London for a meeting this morning. Oh I wish I was living there again! The tube was closed at King's Cross, so I walked along Euston Road and through Fitzrovia. Lots of offices to let in Fitzroy Square, such a charming corner of town. Noel Coward's words echoed through the empty streets "grey city, stubbornly implanted, taken so for granted for a thousand years". Wehmütigkeit indeed.

Another step closer.

Posted by nathan at 10:38 PM | Comments (0)


January 12, 2003

Not a word I use often, but worth a respectable 68 in Scrabble today.

Listened to the Philip Pullman Dark Matters plays on the Radio 4 web site today. A fascinating and thought-provoking exploration of our relationship with the supernatural. Pullman's views on the "death of God" and his insistence that fiction should carry a "moral punch" and encourage questioning of established views have interested me over the past few months and has been reported in several newspaper and radio interviews. This excellent radio adaptation of the Dark Matters trilogy has been a good introduction to his work.

Posted by nathan at 06:59 PM | Comments (0)


January 11, 2003
Dragon martinis

We had a dragon martini at the Sanderson last weekend. Great refreshing taste - a mixture of gin, sake, strawberry eau de vie and lychee juice, garnished with a fresh lychee stuffed with a raspberry. Does anybody have a recipe, as we're finding it hard to recreate the right mixture?

Today has been a bit dull, as I've spent many hours working on a spreadsheet. All I have to show for it is - a spreadsheet. Isn't work fun? Scary thinking about taking on an office and all those extra overheads in April.

I see that the Scottish Opera production of Siegfried is on BBC4 tomorrow.

Posted by nathan at 06:04 PM | Comments (0)


January 10, 2003
I have a banana in my ear

Thanks, exploding dog, for making my day a happy one.


Posted by nathan at 07:32 PM | Comments (0)


January 09, 2003
"I" before "the"

Journalistic niceties and readers' comments suggest that this "blog" should be constructed in the third person. Less an individual's journal, more a dispassionate endeavour.


In my professional life, I write properly. This "blog" is (selfishly) about me.

Posted by nathan at 08:03 AM | Comments (0)


January 08, 2003
"I would like two eggs, lightly poached"

The Guardian reports that these were Roy Jenkins' last words, according to the Liberal Democrat peer (and fellow "gang of four" member) Lord "Bill" Rodgers.

I hope my last words are as concise.

Posted by nathan at 04:59 PM | Comments (0)


January 07, 2003
Anyone can whistle

As the sounds of preparation for this evil grow closer in the dark, it is left for us to wonder what hope there is for the world? Are we insane? Sleep walking towards annihilation? However much one reads or listens to the news, we are kept in the dark about the war which is being planned in our name.

Several friends have criticised my abhorrence of this disgusting display of militarism. They ask "how can you rail against our leaders who are only trying to curtail another tyrant"?

And yet one must despair at the blatant display of two-facedness. Where is our effort in the Middle East, what about North Korea? Are my concerns just cynicism and lack of trust in our saintly leaders?

There was even an article on Radio 4 about the benefit that war brings to the British economy. Madness, madness.

Roy Jenkins died on Sunday. His political views were never my style, but his integrity and bravery in setting up the SDP were an inspiration to all of us. I grew up in the 80's and remember the "gang of four" as they set out to change the structure of British politics. Who knows whether we can "thank" them for "new" Labour. At least they were true to their ideals. It is said that Blair relied on Jenkins' advice in the period from his accession to the party leadership until sometime near the end of his first term as Prime Minister. Jenkins was certainly more openly critical of the government after the 2002 election. If only the Conservatives could similarly face up to their internal divisions and develop itself into two new parties. For otherwise we are condemned to continued rule by this bumbling bunch.

Posted by nathan at 07:42 PM | Comments (0)


January 06, 2003
Nice work if you can get it?

The muse has deserted me today. There's so much to do for this project, and I haven't been in a writing mood. Oh well, there's always tomorrow. It would have been more sensible to try working on something else.

Posted by nathan at 08:49 PM | Comments (0)


January 05, 2003
Rumble in the Oakwood

We spent the morning in the gym at the Sanderson, and then in the steam room. The atmosphere there is quite ethereal, with lots of soft lights, net curtains and mood music. Posey perhaps, but enjoyable.

After checking out and schlepping Alfred's purchases from Selfridges out to North London, we popped in to say hello to Mum and Dad. Vincent was there when we arrived - pleasant to see him and catch up.

Shortly after he left, the unexpected happened. Adam arrived unannounced.

Let me introduce Adam, as he has not been a frequent character in this diary. He is my younger brother and, although we were once close, he chose to cut me off from his family nearly four years ago. The essence of this broigus is hard to describe here in that I lack objectivity. So try to understand the other point of view and I'll state my own.

For Jewish people, there are only two ways to have an argument: either you yell and scream and die of a heart attack, or you suffer in silence, martyr yourself (Me? Angry?), and die later of cancer anyway. Our argument is more than a broigus, and marginally less than mutually assured destruction. I have been so hurt and infuriated by his behaviour that I have become incapable of describing my feelings coherently. I have spent the last four years blaming myself for what's happened, although I know, rationally, that the problem is his.

Adam cut me off from his wife and five lovely children as he feels that I would be a corrupting influence on my nieces and nephews. He will accept me but not my partner. For this reason he has not spoken with me for four years. He believes that I am making an unacceptable condition that family contact must include Alfred. From my perspective, I see Alfred as an important part of my life, and my relationship with my other nephew and niece and "quasi-families" as having been managed well, without the "gay" thing being too much of an issue after an initial period of adjustment. Ask Vincent, Yoel or Pita.

Apart from the obvious homophobia and bigotry inherent in these views (which he denies), there is a racism, an overt supremacism underlying this "licence to discriminate". He regards his marriage to Shoshana as being "normal" and my partnership with Alfred as "abnormal". I use these emotive words deliberately, as he has applied the same principles to excommunicate others in the family. But let's not dwell on Adam's problems with Vincent, Muriel and Ralph or Mum and Dad for now.

On a practical level, even if one accepts his wish to protect his children from external influences (the realisation that gay people exist and lead balanced normal lives), there are three strong countervailing factors that should surely persuade him that he is doing more harm than good. First, it would give my parents so much happiness to see their three sons together. Second, don't his children deserve a loving uncle? Third, do he and I not deserve the benefits of brotherhood? We return to the question of whether family ties have any meaning in this age.

I fail to understand the cod-intellectual rationalisation which Adam has used to bring so much grief to me and to the rest of the family.

So Adam walked through the door, and my first instinct was to protect Mum and Dad from a row by leaving immediately with Alfred. I had imagined that my reaction would be to hit, kick, punch or spit at him, so violent has my revulsion become - but when it happened, my emotions combined a desire to flee the situation and to berate him for his ludicrous bigotry.

I did speak briefly with Adam and asked him if he was prepared to do anything to heal the rift whilst our parents are still alive. He said yes, and we left.

On the way to the M25, I discussed the situation with Alfred and we decided that it would be better to return to have a conversation. So we did. Alfred (what a mensch and support to me) joined Mum, Dad, Shoshana and the children and I sat with Adam talking for an hour.

I'm not sure whether it did any good. In the end, it was his decision to exclude me, and it must be his decision to accept me. I'm no longer used to having to defend my homosexuality, or my choice of partners. I was troubled at his lack of mature intellectual judgement - it bothered me that he seems to value the consequences of his beliefs so lightly and bases his actions on such ill-thought-out arguments. I do hope that he'll realise that, even if the damage is grave and we're unlikely to be close again, the benefits of having a family - even if we disagree profoundly with one another - are greater than the adjustments necessary to accept our differences. But if he still chooses to ignore me, I will at least now feel fully at peace with myself and not under pressure to do any more.

We drove back to Cambridge. Drained.

Posted by nathan at 10:01 PM | Comments (0)


January 04, 2003
Dim sum and italian opera

Lunch with Cosmo and a chat about "things" (see my entries of a few days ago). Fascinating and disappointing to see how scarred he is by having been let down by the family around him. My blazé comment "blood's thicker than water" was met with a quizzical response. And I now understand why.

After lobster and crab with a rather pleasant Verdicchio at Randall and Aubin in Soho, La Traviata was our evening's entertainment at the Royal Opera House. A pleasant production, with even but not outstanding singers spoiled just a little by the unnecessary inclusion of a second interval. This made it into a rather heavier evening than Traviata deserves. Paulo Gavanelli made an excellent Germont.

Posted by nathan at 10:54 PM | Comments (0)


January 03, 2003
Don't eat at Chez Gerard

Really snotty service this evening at Chez Gerard opera terrace in Covent Garden. That's the "service" industry in Britain. If Tom and Sam hadn't been with us, I would have asked to see the manager.

Our room at the Sanderson was excellent. A warm and freindly welcome, cool lift (go there) and outrageously expensive cocktails in the Purple Bar.

It was so good to meet up with Tom and Sam. They are great friends and it was a pleasure to spend the evening with them. Dunno about The Vortex at the Donmar Warehouse. Maybe the theme of the play doesn't fit the present era, maybe the casting choices were just too indulgent (well dumb). Still a pleasant evening.

Posted by nathan at 11:05 PM | Comments (0)


January 02, 2003
False Messiahs





Och aye!


Now I know it's 2003.

I'm going to work hard and persevere in my own little world, but i find it hard to greet the New Year with enthusiasm on the broader front. Whatever I feel about that snake oil peddler, at least he's being more accurate in his assessment of the wonders of the world around us than I had imagined. Or at least more prepared to share it with his serfs.

Posted by nathan at 06:54 PM | Comments (0)


January 01, 2003
Sex in the city

Here's a picture of the two of us dressed ready to go out.

Alfred in his 'birthday suit' and Nathan looks unphotogenic and bemused as ever.  Taken 29.12.02

I made a couple of Old Fashioned cocktails this evening to dull the realisation that we're back to work tomorrow. It's been a pleasant break, but not long enough to achieve everything I wanted to.

Posted by nathan at 09:32 PM | Comments (0)