Just Nathan

A musical offering, in parts
February 28, 2003
End of the show

We spent the last day of the exhibition (oh, did I tell you that's what I was up to?) in a pensive mood. The event had gone better than expected, but what's next?

I rushed to the airport, being late to leave the exhibition centre, and returned, exhausted, to a windy Stansted.

I always love getting home. Alfred had made a lovely fish pie (a better welcome than the takeaway I'd expected). Of course, I fell asleep on the sofa.

Posted by nathan at 11:38 PM | Comments (0)


February 27, 2003
Ice on the lake

OK, so I liked the ice

more crazy paving

It was very cold today as I went down beside the bridge to take photographs.

We went to the Blockhaus opposite the Hauptbahnhof for steaks this evening. Excellent, and friendly service. The waitress was particualrly amused with my German. Ha.

Posted by nathan at 08:29 PM | Comments (0)


February 26, 2003
Back to Georg and Pauli

Walking over the Kennedybrücke in Hamburg, the icy cold and still waters led to a crazy-paving-like effect on the frozen surface.

crazy paving on the Alster lake

The morning was glassy clear and sunny. It made for a pleasant, if rather bracing, walk to the exhibition centre.

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


February 25, 2003
Show me, I'm from Missouri

I was trying to find out what that phrase meant. A quick GoogleSearch led me here and here

Posted by nathan at 10:21 PM | Comments (0)


February 24, 2003
Come fly with me

Amazing. Thanks Minor 9th for giving me a pleasurable few minutes.

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


February 23, 2003
Of mice and men

Metaphysical discussion with Alistair and Alfred over Kaffee und Küchen this afternoon in Chesterton. Read here and here for more information.

See, the universe looks like this:

Cosmic Microwave Background radiation image from the Boomerang experiment

Isn't astrophysics marvellous?

And are we the mice in the machine?

Posted by nathan at 07:21 PM | Comments (0)


February 22, 2003
Weekday or weekend

I worked all day, but a bottle of Veuve Cliquot made it feel more like a weekend.

Posted by nathan at 10:46 PM | Comments (0)


February 21, 2003
One Helluva Bore

We saw Tom Conti's calculated gagfest on the provincial dais this evening.

Posted by nathan at 11:21 PM | Comments (0)


February 20, 2003
Fop Tart

Another one from Etavirp Yee.

credit: Private Eye issue 1073

Posted by nathan at 03:05 PM | Comments (0)


February 19, 2003
Time to die

Alfred, Xavier and I went to see The Hours at the Arts Cinema this evening. The all-star cast included Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf, Meryl Streep as Clarissa Vaughan and Julianne Moore as Laura Brown, with the screenplay by David Hare (of awful theatrical escapade infamy) and music by Philip Glass. The music was rather overplayed and intruded inappropriately in the action. The cast played well together, and was an obvious Oscar ploy.

The film itself was about one woman (Laura Brown) obsessively reading Mrs Dalloway whilst coping with her all-too-perfect husband and child, a second woman (Clarissa Vaughan) organising a party for her friend who is dying of AIDS whilst Virginia Woolf gains inspiration for the novel, imprisoned and deranged in her Sussex home.

The story ends with the AIDS sufferer (an author) refusing to go to the party, saying "I love you" to Vaughan before tipping himself out of the window of his apartment, Woolf drowns herself in a river and Laura Brown finds herself unable to overdose, so decides to live but deserts her husband and children.

Was there a moral to the film? I felt it to be a secular view - one's life is one's own to dispose of as he chooses (man - or woman - disposes). If you want to end your life, go ahead.

Woolf's books were very much coloured with feminist themes, and interpretation of her work perhaps overly labours her mental illness and eventual suicide. The film itself is modelled on Mrs Dalloway, in which several groups of people are followed during the course of a single day. The central figure, Clarissa Dalloway, is a wealthy London hostess. She never meets the shell-shocked veteran Septimus Smith, who commits suicide, but their lives are connected.

Following a bout of of mental illness Woolf loaded her pockets with stones and drowned herself in the River Ouse near her Sussex home in 1941. On her note to her husband she wrote: "I have a feeling I shall go mad. I cannot go on longer in these terrible times. I hear voices and cannot concentrate on my work. I have fought against it but cannot fight any longer. I owe all my happiness to you but cannot go on and spoil your life."

I left the cinema annoyed with Glass, and very maudlin.

Posted by nathan at 11:30 PM | Comments (0)


February 18, 2003
A gallic slug

See here. Fascinating.

Meanwhile, at home, the opinion polls are swinging firmly against Blairs war and the man himself.

Posted by nathan at 09:03 PM | Comments (0)



Good one

Posted by nathan at 06:26 AM | Comments (0)


February 17, 2003
Meeting JR

After nineteen years (or thereabouts) I met JR this morning for coffee. Neither of us had changed as much as the other imagined. I enjoyed the meeting so much - my admiration for him has remained undimmed. We spoke of his disillusionment with religious institutions and whether change may be enabled by questioning from within. He remains orthodox in his roots, but questioning and non-conformist. He seems to believe that his mission is to preach a non-fundamentalist, inclusive standpoint. I stand pointedly outside, a non-believer, lost to the cause. I had assumed that the key deciding factor was that of belief - I had thought it to be a binary switch, but he (correctly, I think) sees even the existence of God as more subtly nuanced. I still felt that he was trying to make a 'big tent' out of Judaism - he may be trying too hard to bridge an irreconcilable divide between a dying religion and its moral distillation. Who knows?

This evening, I asked my mother how JR could have remembered me so clearly amongst the thousands of pupils who passed through his care. She burst into laughter and wouldn't explain why.

Posted by nathan at 08:50 PM | Comments (0)


February 16, 2003
Blake's Heaven

I listened to Jane Siberry's album Love is Everything with Alistair yesterday. I'd heard the name, but never the music - very Kate Bush in style. It was autobiographical programme music with an introspective, mystical tone.

The booklet accompanying the CD set puzzled me. Pages of biographical detail and no lyrics (they're on the web site). And, buried in the text, a quote from Blake "Exuberance is Beauty".

William Blake: The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790-93). Proverbs of Hell

The head Sublime, the heart Pathos, the genitals Beauty
the hands & feet Proportion.
As the air to a bird or the sea to a fish, so is contempt
to the contemptible.
The crow wish'd every thing was black, the owl, that every thing was white.
Exuberance is Beauty.
If the lion was advised by the fox. he would be cunning.
Improvent makes strait roads, but the crooked roads
without Improvement, are roads of Genius.
Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires
Where man is not nature is barren.
Truth can never be told so as to be understood, and not be believ'd
Enough! or Too much

I've never studied Blake, so found this very opaque. Checking on the Internet, I can only find random references by people who have chosen the quote simply because it links the words exuberance and beauty, not to derive benefit from the meaning of Blake's words.

Reading around this, Blake seems to value nature as worthless without humanity. He seems to be firmly on the classical side of the ‘great divide’. He looks for a uniting force between intelligence and art – the impulses within us are holy and good. Man's drive to intelligent expression and love are not the result of the Fall, but of a creative force (a God) acting to make nature purposeful through the intelligence of mankind. Man’s exuberant expression of wonder at the natural world is thus essentially and necessarily beautiful, as it must lead to the fusion of intellect and nature. Art is the gateway to paradise, and creation the divine will to form man within nature.

I think I'd better read some more about Blake. Tough luck, doing Science A-levels.

For an alternative approach to the exegesis of this text, look for these words of wisdom.

Posted by nathan at 04:10 PM | Comments (0)


February 15, 2003
No unanimity

Blair spoke passionately (manufactured passion) at the Labour Spring Conference in Glasgow today. His speechwriters gave him two good soundbites. He dismissed this week's concessions by Iraq, saying: "The concessions are suspect. Unfortunately, the weapons are real." He said that his unwavering support for the unelected one was "the price of leadership and the cost of conviction".

Tasty morsels perhaps, but meager in comparison to the 30,000 outside the conference centre and the 750,000 who gathered in London later in the day. But will he listen?

It's already apparent that the simple arithmetic of the UN Security Council has made more difference to Blair than hundreds of thousands of his own people. With no likelihood of even a simple majority of a second resolution, Blair and Bush have decided to give Blix a chance - while the military buildup continues.

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


February 14, 2003
Blix reports again

Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei

Hans Blix reported on Iraq to the United Nations today. The response was a noticeable shift away from the US/UK position. The balance between the fifteen members of the Security Council seems to leave only Spain supporting Britain and the USA. The French, German and Russian alliance has gained ground. Tomorrow, millions will protest in "stop the war" demonstrations around the world.

The last round of UN-sponsored resolutions and weapons inspections fizzled out in failure. It was clear that the Iraqis had ABC weapons programmes, and partial decommissioning was carried out. Yet many weapons are claimed to have been destroyed since 1998, with no evidence to prove this.

So, on the one hand, we have the Americans and British - determined to press ahead, with the world against them, unwilling to prove, even to their people, that a war is necessary. They endeavour to be Churchillian in their resolve, but confuse us with misleading evidence. On the other, we have "old Europe" an insult for which the French, Germans and Russians will be forever proud. They demand that inspections be given more time. Within this faction is a further, more doveish group (the "Chamberlains"), who will not countenance war at all. I suspect their motives (financial ties and antizionism) as much as I suspect the Blair/Bush grandstanding.

We are living in a dangerous, uncertain time. From today's perspective it seems as though the "Allies" will be forced to wait for two weeks, until Blix reports again. Tomorrow's protests may finally cut through to Blair, even if Bush remains deaf. But can democratic leaders survive a war that is rooted in suspicion and spin? Can soldiers face death without their country behind them? Can Blair and Bush, or the weapons inspectors, provide evidence incontrovertible enough to sway the French, Russinas and Chinese?

Their alternative is to proceed to war regardless. But the New Moon is on 7th March.

I shudder at the thought of wasted blood.

Posted by nathan at 10:35 PM | Comments (0)


February 13, 2003
Stormclouds over London

Intelligence reports of a potential surface-to-air missile attack on a flight in the Heathrow area has caused the Home Secretary (David Blunkett) to take unprecedented steps. These have involved the staioning of thousands of police and troops around Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and other airports since Tuesday. There have been several arrests, most pronounced "not significant", and, amazingly, a 37 year old Venezuelan man has been arrested in Gatwick airport, after smuggling a live grenade on an inbound British Airways flight from Caracas and Columbia.

Of particular note in this current situation is the public distrust of the Government's motives. In our hearts, we realise that such measures would only be taken by the authorities on substantial evidence. But, after last week's debacle (the manifestly misleading Iraq dossier), nobody can believe the Government to have motives beyond 'the end justifying the means'.

Falklands veteran Simon Weston claimed today that "the government had such a history of spin and lying that voters no longer knew what to believe".

The Tory's Oliver Letwin joined forces with Liberal Democrat Simon Hughes on to write a letter yesterday asking for time to discuss the current situation in the House of Commons ahead of the half-term recess. They wrote: "We both believe that - whilst the actions being taken are entirely justified - it is important that the public be informed by all parties in the House that this is not a stunt and that it should be taken seriously."

The Ministry of Defence has confirmed a single Nimrod maritime surveillance aircraft has been flying over London, "to aid communications on the ground".

No wonder the British are cynical.

Posted by nathan at 11:54 PM | Comments (0)


February 12, 2003
Terror alert

Troops and police are sent in droves to guard our airports and strategic sites in London. A "signal failure" causes large sections of the Underground network to be closed. Everybody's tense - and not talking about it.

What's going on, and can we believe the BBC?

Posted by nathan at 10:58 PM | Comments (0)


February 11, 2003

Working hard still, with a big review meeting tomorrow.

Alfred made a glorious paella for supper today - Alistair joined us with gifts of whiskey and ice cream.

Alfred's chicken and seafood paella

I'm far too tired to enjoy myself after a long day's work.

Posted by nathan at 11:03 PM | Comments (0)


February 10, 2003
Alfred the JCB

It's an in joke.

Alfred the JCB

The Clavinova is on its way.

Posted by nathan at 08:42 PM | Comments (4)


February 09, 2003
Thanks Etavirp Yee

Always good for a chuckle

Murdoch, we love to loathe you

Posted by nathan at 04:26 PM | Comments (0)



I'm up early again

Work on my mind
Dad's health on my mind
Moody Alfred on my mind
Mad world on my mind
No response from Adam on my mind

No wonder I feel queasy. A correspondent told me to "get a life". I already have one, thank you, but I take it too much to heart.

Posted by nathan at 06:32 AM | Comments (0)


February 08, 2003
More weirdness

And now it's 11 visitors online! Are you all bots? Is there anybody out there?

Posted by nathan at 10:03 PM | Comments (0)



I just logged in to update my blog (too much time away this week) and I can see that 5 people are viewing my site now! Whoever you are, leave a comment and say hello!

Posted by nathan at 08:48 PM | Comments (0)


Making the numbers add up

I spent over two hours today chasing around some numbers, trying to make sense of them. My mind won't let me rest until I have a perfect arithmetical understanding. It niggles me when I'm asleep if I can't balance accounts, or understand the dynamics of a market.

It's a more profound statement than it appears. As we try to make some sense of this bewildering world in which we live, how much do we see of the sum, and how much the parts? What is it in my brain that craves the balancing act, even the trivial solution?

Posted by nathan at 08:28 PM | Comments (0)


February 07, 2003
Alfred the great

Why is Alfred so kind and tolerant towards me? I am working myself far too hard – from 05:30 to 22:00 most days now. I’m so tetchy and intolerant all the time. But he is caring, loving and caring most of the time. He seems to accept that this is a stage that I must go through if I’m to build the business. But I must admit that I dislike myself, I hate the way I’m becoming – just boxed in by work all the time. Alfred’s loyalty also scares me – in a very selfish way I hate becoming dependent on somebody else, even him. Despite all my frustrations, I love Alfred more than my words can express, and less than he deserves.

Posted by nathan at 10:33 PM | Comments (0)


February 06, 2003
Do you read me?

Another story of JustNathan in nega-hell

Posted by nathan at 09:05 PM | Comments (0)


February 05, 2003
Airport lounger

Sitting in the airport at Geneva. I just want to get home. I’m working such long hours for customers who I’m sure are quite happy but really don’t demand such dedication. On this trip, I got up at 03:00 on Monday morning to catch an 06:30 aeroplane to Geneva. I’ve worked each day from early until late and now I’m hanging around in the airport terminal because I decided to take the 21:55 (yes) plane back to the UK instead of the 17:30. Then tomorrow morning I have my first meeting at 08:00, leaving very little time to sleep and recover. Why do I push myself so hard? And now I see the plane’s been delayed to 22:20. Marvellous.

I had lunch in the “glass box” today – all the talk was of war. It was made more interesting by the divergent viewpoints and mixed nationalities of the people in the conversation. Me (the Brit), a German, French, Spanish, and a French Eurocrat (but a pleasant bloke for all that).

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


February 04, 2003
Temp in bowlout

My temp resigned. Good riddance. She was taking me for a ride. Also, how do you tell somebody you work with that they have an odd smell? I hate being impolite – maybe I’m just far too British.

I had a pleasant meal with John and Mike at the Auberge Communale in Meyrin. After rabbit and chips yesterday, today was little perch and chips with fois gras as a starter. Tarte tatin to finish and I was feeling very well off. Maybe Switzerland isn't such a bad place.

Posted by nathan at 10:39 PM | Comments (0)


February 03, 2003
Back to CH

An early morning (up at 03:00) and off to Geneva again to the wonderful other-worldliness of CERN. Pouring with rain as usual.

My diary didn't look so full last week, but I thionk I'll have plenty to do for three days here.

Posted by nathan at 08:43 PM | Comments (0)


February 02, 2003
Any point?

Work work work. Is that a theme?

I listened to a CD that Alistair lent me “Maps without edges” by Stillpoint. I sat and listened through the whole 65 minutes, twice, in order to gain an appreciation of what makes it so special for him. It's picture music -impressionist stuff.

Posted by nathan at 08:35 PM | Comments (0)


February 01, 2003
Shuttle lost

Sitting here working on a Saturday afternoon.

BBC news tells me that the Space Shuttle Columbia is lost.

I remember going into a Chemistry lesson in the lower sixth all excited about the first shuttle launch. I remember being at Oxford when we heard of the Challenger disaster. I was distraught then. It was as though I'd lost a close friend.

Why are these events, and others like the Paris Concorde disaster, more memorable than the deaths of thousands of people on the roads each day around the world?

My instantaneous reaction is that of a personal loss, but why?

I grieve for the families of people I don't know.

Is that noble? - I'm not sure.

Posted by nathan at 03:20 PM | Comments (0)