Just Nathan

A musical offering, in parts
March 31, 2003
Monday in the new office

So today, for the first time in nearly four years, I drove to work. At 05:30.

It all felt very strange.

I left at 20:45.

But I'm not a workaholic. Honestly.

And the long-suffering Alfred even managed to be pleasant about it.

Posted by nathan at 11:32 PM | Comments (0)


March 30, 2003
Taken for granted

Eric and Man stayed overnight and went for a walk with Alfred around the city centre. Cambridge can be very pretty in the Spring sunshine.

The garden of Clare College

Alfred and I waited around all afternoon for two people from London to arrive. They'd asked if they could call round, and confirmed, but didn't materialise. So long lost friends will stay lost for longer.

Posted by nathan at 09:51 PM | Comments (0)


March 29, 2003
Supper with friends

A very pleasant evening with a number of friends round for supper. I had spent all morning schlepping crates of files from the flat to the new office. I stopped after lunch and did my share of the cooking:

Fresh tomato and basil bread with parsley butter
Grilled vegetable and risoni salad - Gewurztraminer wine
Lamb shanks in a red onion marmalade, duchess potatoes, purple sprouting broccoli and carrots - Californian Cabernet Sauvignon
Chocolate chestnut torte - Austrian Eiswein
Apple and sultana compote with cinnamon ice cream
English cheeses and port

hors d'oeuvres

Not bad eh? A good joint effort (although Alfred did more than his share). Everybody seemed to enjoy themselves and left, groaning.

Posted by nathan at 11:35 PM | Comments (0)


March 28, 2003
The big move begins

Not such a big move really. I tried to concentrate on my work whilst the furniture was delivered and the computer network moved from the flat. So many distractions! It was really hard to get any work done - and suddenly the move seems so real.

My car load of files and David's, later in the day, were easily swallowed by the new cabinets. It's going to be a big office for so few of us.

Posted by nathan at 10:06 PM | Comments (0)


March 27, 2003

Aztec Ouroboros

Some people manage to remain aloof from the news, others (like me) are "news junkies". I admire the former. I can do nothing to influence the elected leaders of the UK and unelected leaders of the USA. Still less can I influence the tyrant of Iraq - so surely aloofness is a more appropriate reaction to impotence.

But I sit at my laptop, with the BBC war coverage on all day and all night on the Internet.

And I cannot sleep, with my aunt ill, my family at war and the world devouring itself by the tail.

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


March 26, 2003

We spent the afternoon sorting through files and packing things ready for Friday's office move. It all feels frighteningly real now. I'm grudgingly looking forward to the change, particularly that I'll have my "den" to myself for the first time in several years. I went out for a drink with Robin at the Cambridge Blue this evening, mainly to discuss sales prospects (of which there are now several).

The news of the war is relentless and depressing. Would that our leaders could understand the folly of resorting to violence.

But the most concerning news is about Muriel, who is in hospital in London undergoing a number of tests. I'm full of trepidation about the outcome - she's been such an important part of my life. It's also impossible to express my thoughts for her, as she is so well shielded from contact by my father and uncle. Hmm.

Posted by nathan at 10:19 PM | Comments (0)


March 25, 2003
A different kind of WA

I was in Birmingham today, givong a talk to about forty companies at the Chamber of commerce. Oy, was the hotel lousy (but i can't grumble as I wasn't paying). Noisy all night (plus BBC News 24 with the sewer of war), watered down orange juice and incomprehensible service. But the businesspeople at my talk were a very pleasant bunch and I seem to be getting plenty of feedback.

Back to Cambridge in the late afternoon.

Posted by nathan at 10:49 PM | Comments (0)


March 24, 2003
Light relief

Something to keep my mind off things.


The Hooded Claw

Stop the pidgeon!

Dastardly and Muttley

Posted by nathan at 09:18 PM | Comments (0)


March 23, 2003
Birmingham bother

Sorry for the lack of updates. The unjustified attack on Iraq by American and British invasion forces have left me somewhat lacking in the desire to write. I will catch up soon.

Dad called me this morning with two pieces of bad family news:

My younger brother was attacked in, I presume, an antisemetic assault. Dad seemed to think I'd approve. Well, although I hold no truck with the evils of religion or Adam's behaviour, I also believe in his right to walk freely through the streets of England as a Jew.

My aunt is going to hospital on Tuesday for an exploatory operation on her lung. I care very much for Muriel and will be thinking of her on Tuesday. Muriel has been an inspiration to me for many years.

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


March 22, 2003
Matthew Passion

I went to a performance of Bach's St Matthew Passion at St John's College this evening. It was sung by a local choir, in which Robin and Yvonne are leading lights.

I last saw this piece performed at the Royal Festival Hall a couple of years ago. The orchestra and chorus was led by Andras Schiff. It was so long, so opaque and so dreary that I was put off the music. The story is urgent and dramatic - today's performance carried some of that feeling.

Chapel at St. John's College

The setting was superb. I was quite enclosed in a high wooden pew, able to look through the gap at the performers in front of me. Looking around the chapel, I faced the magnificent new organ and the frieze of Christ and his disciples on the ceiling. The piece was far too long - and for me that's its downfall - it loses impact and urgency in favour of stateliness and grandeur of the set pieces. Nevertheless, it was an interesting evening in a near-perfect setting.

Posted by nathan at 11:29 PM | Comments (0)


March 17, 2003
Into the woods 2

Here's a picture from yesterday's party.

Fif's 18th birthday party in Kenwood

What a girl!

Back to Switzerland this afternoon.

Posted by nathan at 06:43 AM | Comments (0)


March 16, 2003
Into the woods

We left our hotel in Central London and took the tube to Hampstead. We spent a lovely day in Kenwood celebrating Fif's eighteenth birthday. It was a family picnic by the lake, with brilliant sunshine and plenty to eat and drink. Fif has grown up so much over the last two years, and is a pleasure to talk with. She has improved her AS-level results with her retakes.

Meanwhile, in the Azores, the American, British and Spanish Premières issued a 24-hour ultimatum.

Posted by nathan at 09:54 PM | Comments (0)


March 15, 2003

I don't enjoy shopping. We spent the day traipsing around Harrods, Harvey Nicks and other shops in search of life's essentials.

We had a pre-theatre supper with Philip at Mezzonine, where marinaded chicken with hoi-sin sauce is called "sweet and sour". We then hobbled along to the Piccadilly Theatre to see "Ragtime". It was a slick and superb production, with singers who could act, the strong cast was led by Maria Friedman. The story is very PC - the lives of three families are intertwined in the America of the early twentieth century. The WASPs, East European Jews, and "people of colour" warbled for three hours to the inevitable triumph of right over wrong.

I may be supercillious, but it was an excellent evening. Faultless... well, in execution anyway.

This time, we returned to the Rockwell bar for late night cocktails.

Posted by nathan at 11:28 PM | Comments (2)


March 14, 2003
Our House

I was in London, running a conference today, so met with Alfred at Fawlty Towers (aka the Trafalgar Hilton). We had one of the worst steaks I've ever been served - the chef must have changed, as we had a pleasant meal last time we were there. We then walked up to the Cambridge Theatre to see the musical "Our House". It was an exuberant production, with the amateurish and inexperienced cast making up for their lack of acting, singing and stagecraft skills with a surfeit of energy. The storyline was thin, but Madness' music endures. Incidentally, the Guardian quote attributed to the production is apparently a worse fake than usual.

We had a bit of a late-evening spat, so I went to bed at around midnight.

Posted by nathan at 10:12 PM | Comments (0)


March 12, 2003
This is the land of the free

This is the land of the free. It's time to make up your mind which side you're on. "You're either with us, or against us".

Posted by nathan at 04:36 AM | Comments (0)


March 11, 2003
World series

I was interviewing candidates at the Heathrow Hilton today. Several feet away, a large plasma television was showing the Australia vs New Zealand game. The screen was positioned at a convenient angle above the candidates' heads, and it required very little eye movement to see this dreamboat, who pitches (whoops, bowls) at 100 mph.

Dreamboat: Brett Lee

I don't often write about sport.

Posted by nathan at 10:51 PM | Comments (0)


March 09, 2003

The world's got itself in a real pickle over Iraq. I've never seen "divide and rule" practised so cleverly. So, is it war on 11th March, 17th March or can the French and Germans stop this crazy slide into violence?

What do the Americans and British know that they're not telling us? If we agree the need for Iraq to disarm, if we believe that they are a threat to peace in the Middle East and beyond, why go to war right now? I accept the argument that they've already had twelve years, but the Americans and Brits are looking foolish in trying to prove that Iraq and Al-Quaeda are linked, that they have nuclear weapons and that every step to destroy weapons is irrelevant. We're all told that Iraq is dangerous and that Saddam Hussein is playing games with us. Why can't we play the game better?

So the challenge is for the british and Americans to produce evidence that will convince the UN and their citizens. If not, they must wait for the UN weapons inspectors, IAEA and the slow, frustrating process of international diplomacy to pursuade more of us that war is the only option.

Posted by nathan at 01:54 PM | Comments (0)


March 08, 2003
An evening at home

A quiet day today - more work than I'd expected to do this Saturday. We bought some good German wines from Noel Young in Trumpington - they have a decent selection of unusual wines for such a small shop.

In the evening, we watched Fargo. More greatness from the Coen brothers. Then an episode of the american Queer as Folk second series. I followed that with the first act of Tristan before rounding off the evening with Michael Caine in The Ipcress File. So psychadelic, so 60's, such a hoot!

That's quite a variety for an evening at home, curled up with Alfred.

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


March 07, 2003
It's only a piece of paper

All sorts of paperwork in front of me today. First, and most worrisome, is the lease on the new office. That comes with a month's prepayment and a deposit. Then there's a mountain of new furniture to buy. On top of it all is the PII renewal, with seventeen pages of disclosures to fill with minute detail about my daily life. Ugh. What a way to spend the day. Then, on top of on top of... I even have to buy telephones, because the office comes with handsets that won't be siuitable for the business.

The office move is only three weeks away, so I suspect that there will be several more nasty surprises to come.

Posted by nathan at 07:11 PM | Comments (0)


March 05, 2003
Quiet men

Redwood to mothership. Redwood to mothership: Tory leadership contest imminent. Request urgent advice on strategy. Mothership to Redwood: Temper logic with emotion. I repeat, logic with emotion. Redwood to mothership: Affirmative. Request advice on topic. Mothership to Redwood: Urban transport infrastructure.

Sure enough, during an interview with a low-cirulation broadsheet, John reassured the interviewer: "It's emotional, too; I feel it. I feel rage in traffic jams."

Thanks: Guardian Backbencher

Posted by nathan at 10:14 PM | Comments (0)


March 01, 2003
Scary movie

A day spent working to catch up on my end-of-month paperwork. Isn't it nice to be back from Hamburg? That more or less drowned the day, and annoyed me rather, as I'm tired after a very heavy month and just wanted to relax.

We watched A Clockwork Orange on DVD this evening. Scary - and strange that I'd never seen it before. The combination of Beethoven and violence shocked me - I won't forget it.

Saddam's destroying some of his missiles. They may be the tip of the iceberg, but at least it's progress (although Blair and Bush don't see it that way). Why won't they tell us what they know?

Posted by nathan at 10:53 PM | Comments (0)