Just Nathan

A musical offering, in parts
April 29, 2003
Schipol and back

Off to Amsterdam on business for the day. A weird experience walking around a near-deserted business park, abandoned by its former owners.

On a separate note, it's been lovely to have so many comments by email and telephone (and on this blog) from friends who have read my holiday writings. I'm chuffed.

Posted by nathan at 08:33 PM | Comments (0)


April 28, 2003
May I go back now?

Never go away for ten days if you run your own business.

Posted by nathan at 08:15 PM | Comments (0)


April 26, 2003
What did you do in New York?

Everybody's asking.

I've never done this wth a holiday before. We were enjoying ourselves too much (and being too selfish) to write postcards, so I've documented a holiday blog, with entries below from 16th - 25th April and a picture gallery.

At least nobody's leaning over your shoulder, showing you the hundredth picture.

Enjoy, and please comment on the entries!

Posted by nathan at 11:59 PM | Comments (3)


April 25, 2003

We arose early and took a yellow cab through the chilly sunrise, across the Williamsburg Bridge and back to JFK airport. The Concorde flight was noisier (as we sat in the rear cabin) and we certainly felt more "processed" as the ameneties in the airport lounge were pretty poor. The flight was speedy and I felt a natural sense of anticlimax.

Mach 2

Is the earth flat?

We arrived in Oakwood in the early evening and spent a couple of hours with Mum and Dad before driving back to Cambridge.

Posted by nathan at 11:56 PM | Comments (0)


April 24, 2003
An unexpected extra day in New York - part 2

When Alfred woke, we set out to find an Internet cafe and then had brunch at Katz's deli. This is the famous deli on East Houston in which "Where Harry met Sally" was filmed. The service was amazingly rude, but the food well worth while.

We walked from Washington Square through the maze of streets that make up Greenwich Village and SoHo before retuning to the hotel. We bought handmade nigiri and California rolls from Dean & Deluca for our pretheatre snack before heading up to theatreland to see a strangely neutered revival of Nine with Antonio Banderas and Chita Rivera. An odd and bitty musical - Banderas (not my type) sang creditably but not naturally and Rivera was looking and sounding a bit tired - but a diva anyway.

The real problem was the plot - it just didn't work. There wasn't a story to follow, or meaning in the lyrics. The musical is based upon Fellini's 8 1/2 and revolves around Guido Contini (Banderas), a film director whose successes are all in the past. His last three films have been commercial flops, and he has been commissioned to write and direct a new film but is suffering from writer's block. He suffers from delusions as his present and past amours drift into his real life and dreams. The nine year old Guido informs his forty year old present as he slides towards a nervous breakdown. Oh well - as a bit of fun it was fine.

Antonio Banderas and Chita Rivera take a bow

The highlight was Jane Krakowski (from Ally McBeal) in the number "A call from the Vatican" hanging from the ceiling and having (hmm) an intimate telephone conversation with Banderas while his wife looks on. Unforgettable.

Posted by nathan at 11:58 PM | Comments (0)


An unexpected extra day in New York

From this morning's New York Times:

Detainees from the Afghan war remain in a legal limbo in Cuba.

US Naval Air Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba - Fifteen months after the first hooded and shackled detainees arrived at a primitive tent facility known as Camp X-Ray, some 664 prisoners seized after the Afghan war remain here in a legal, political and geographical limbo... Sir Adam Roberts, an Oxford University professor who is a leading authority on the law of war, said that the United States might not be obliged to treat them as prisoners of war but that officials should recognise that they had some international legal rights - "the US has paid a high price in international opinion. In Britain, people see Guantanamo Bay as a symbol of American defiance of international norms". Forty nations are represented in the camp, the majority being Saudis, Yemenis and Pakistanis. But Canadians, Britons, Algerians and a Swede are also detained.

In the same issue, I read of American plans to punish France for its opposition to the war, prosecutors trying to limit defendants' powers to cross-examine witnesses in terrorist trials, allegations that DARPA research funding was withdrawn from a University of Pennsylvania project after anti-war comments by a computer scientist and a remarkable admission by the FBI that they had seized unclassified documents in a FedEx parcel sent by Associated Press. "The FBI does not have the right to seize material without a warrant, without even notifying anyone, and just making it vanish. That, in our minds, is completely illegal" said Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters' Committee for Freedom of the Press. The FBI has opened an internal enquiry. I wonder what that will find?

I look out of my hotel window onto a cold, blustery but dry New York. The basketball lot is empty (it's 6:30 am) and the cars and trucks rumble, clatter and hoot their way across the triangular intersection of West Broadway, Canal Street and the Avenue of the Americas on their way to or from the Holland Tunnel to New Jersey. Lights change from red to green without pausing at amber. Signs flash with a red hand or white man. Through a sightline along Laight Street, a boat chugs along the Hudson River. SoHo awakens.

Posted by nathan at 06:37 AM | Comments (0)


April 23, 2003
A handful of dust

The mystery of the horde outside the bank was explained in today's New York Times. The manager of the Abacus Federal Savings Bank was dismissed, suspected of embezzling over $1m. The depositors, mostly Chinese, read of this in a local newspaper and descended on the Mott Street branch in a scene reminiscent of newsreels from the Great Depression, a mob, fearful of the bank's collapse, demanding to withdraw their savings.

We travelled by subway the dozen blocks or so to the site of the World Trade Center. A place of sombre reminiscence, made more poignant by my memory of being at the top of one of the towers in early November 2000. On that day, we saw the shadows cast by the twin towers across the tickertape parade as it passed below, celebrating the victory of the Yankees in the World Series. The skyscrapers seemed so bold, so purposeful, so American.

World Trade Centre site

And here was a twenty acre lot, with workers busily excavating the new subway lines to replace those destroyed. Tourists took photographs - some respectful, some tasteless - as they read the placards and graffiti on the fence erected around the site. Hawkers pestered us with offers of rubble and dust.

World Trade Center site

An inscription on one of the placards exhorted America not to succumb to the hatred that led the terrorists to perpetrate such an evil act. But how their government has failed in that purpose! Thrashing about, trying to apportion blame and retribution, they have positioned America as the world's greatest rogue state, massacring civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq, still detaining over six hundred prisoners without trial or legal rights in Guantanamo Bay and bullying its own citizens and other nations through progressive reductions in civil liberties and the policy of "if you're not with us, you're against us". All in the name of the freedom, justice and "inalienable rights" that were the cornerstone of this nation's bid for greatness.

Whilst we were at the WTC site, I received a call from the office saying that tomorrow's Concorde flight has been cancelled "for technical reasons". Hmm, sounds like loading to me. They offered us a downgrade to First Class, but after checking with colleagues about Friday's meeting in London; we decided to stick with the dream of flying back to the UK by Concorde and rebooked our tickets for Friday. A surprise extra day in Manhattan!

After that excitement, we met with Sara at her apartment in Christopher Street, in the heart of the village. Sara was glowing, a changed person from her life in Bushey. A year at film school in New York has given her a new self-confidence and a radiance that glows through her skin. Her next step will be difficult, as finding a job in television must be ever so hard. But with her new-found independence, I'm certain she'll make it. We ate and chatted for several hours before realising that we had to move on.

Sara glows when she talks about cars, movies and a certain cameraman

We squeezed in a little shopping on the way back to the hotel. No luck finding presents at Dean & Deluca on Broadway. Then back uptown for supper with Sylvie and Sondheim's Gypsy with Arwin, Sylvie and John (her pleasant work colleague).


Gypsy was an excellent show, with a strong ensemble cast and an outstanding lead. Unlike many of Sondheim's musicals, I wasn't familiar with the story or the music, so I came to the performance with an open mind. The story of Gypsy Rose Lee was well told and the strobed transformation sequence from child to adult actors was most effective. Our evening out concluded with frozen cocktails in TGIF at Times Square.

Alfred and Arwin at TGIF

Alfred sucks

Repeat after me. 'I am not photogenic, but must smile for Alfred'.

Posted by nathan at 01:53 AM | Comments (1)


April 22, 2003
Lower East Side

We spent much of today walking around the Lower East Side. We strolled past the famous old knish bakery, fish deli and Katz's restaurant on East Houston before turning into the narrow streets of crumbling synagogues and tenement buildings. The tailors' shops, bookstores and schmutter merchants all had a poignant feel, of the Jews who formed this immigrant community from 1860 to at least the 1940's, before the Chinese immigration replaced them at the bottom rung of the ladder.

tenement building in the Lower East Side

Before we crossed the road, we were already in Chinatown. Bright reds and yellows, signs scribbled in Chinese, synagogues next to noodle factories and Buddhist temples, incense wafting through the air. A mob of Chinese people was gathered outside a closed bank, with several policemen trying to keep the crowd on the pavement. We stopped for dim sum at a busy restaurant. Steamed and fried dumplings and turnip cake served by waitresses, hustling between the tables with their metal trolleys.

Little Italy was a few blocks of the Mediterranean clinging on against the encroachment of Chinatown. Sultry waiters encouraged us to stop at their pavement cafes. Red, white and green bunting fluttered in the spring-like sunny breeze, and the theme from Godfather floated soundlessly through the streets.

As we emerged from the narrow streets, we found ourselves back in the shopping area of Broadway and Canal Street.

The day didn't end quite so well, with a disappointing seafood meal in Tribeca. Service in American restaurants can be even worse than in Britain - contradicting the much vaunted stereotype.

Posted by nathan at 01:50 AM | Comments (0)


April 21, 2003
Pacino clowns as Herod

We ate at Osteria del Circo, a trendy Italian restaurant (the chocolate soufflé was heavenly) before moving to the SoHo Grand today. Downtown Manhattan feels so much more ‘happening’ than the Theater District.

SoHo Grand.  Hip.  And they know it

We had time for some shopping but Canal Jeans has given way to Bloomingdale's - we managed to find jeans and shirts in OMG, another nearby store on Broadway.

Back uptown to see Al Pacino in a semi-staged production of Oscar Wilde's Salome. A riveting experience, let down, curiously, by Pacino's clown-like antics as Herod. Marisa Tomei in the title role was especially memorable. She had a seductive, bewitching quality that emphasised the hollowness of Pacino's interpretation.

Pacino is quoted as saying "We made the decision to mount Salome in this way because we felt it would better serve Wilde's text. A staged reading yields a significant style unlike any other - it allows an audience the freedom to imagine and connect to the play in a different way". Without him, preferably.

To round the evening off, we went to the XL bar in Chelsea, where we caught a live performance by Shoshanna Bean (surprisingly good - ex "Hairspray"). How pleasant to be in a bar with no cigarette smoke and not too much attitude! The waterfall and walls that changed colour made this a pleasant space.

Posted by nathan at 01:48 AM | Comments (0)


April 20, 2003
Life is a cabaret

This morning we joined the hordes on 5th Avenue for the Easter Parade. The sun streamed through the skyscrapers and fashion boutiques and danced on the hats of the small-town beauties who had travelled into Gotham to display themselves.

smalltown beauty

Lines of smartly dressed churchgoers awaited entry to the gothic temples and television cameras recorded the melee.

We had brunch at a diner (chicken soup with matzo balls and noodles on Passover - oy vey). The hot pastrami with Swiss cheese on rye bread was filling and tasty. Then back to museum mile - this time to the twentieth century collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We had time to see old friends (Bonnard and Pissaro), curious relatives (Jackson Pollack) and blotchy neighbours (Clifford Still).

The highlight of the day was Cabaret at Studio 54 on 54th Street. The production was directed by Sam Mendes and based upon his Donmar Warehouse production of the early nineties. The nightclub setting (we sat at small tables with lamps and drank cocktails) and titillating cast made for a satisfyingly sleazy rendition of Berlin in the 1930's. It was only a few months ago that I saw the film for the first time and I was even more shocked this time as the audience was suckered by the racist "tomorrow belongs to me" and applauded wildly at "if you could see her". An effective performance, which reminded me (if reminder were needed) of how insidious the rise of National Socialism must have been.

After the theatre, we were hungry, but not enough for a large meal. So I suggested cocktails and oysters at the hotel bar. This made for a pleasant end to the evening. I sat at the bar next to the actor Roscoe somebody-or-other who seemed to be well-known. Several people walked up to him and said "don't I recognise you from somewhere"? All he would divulge was that, yes, he is an actor on screen and stage and that he played the part of the narrator in the film "Babe". Whilst this strange conversation was proceeding, Alfred decided to have his tarot cards read by "Tyler", who'd been hustling for work since we arrived. Now I'm quite worried by kabbalistic stuff - with good reason from my own past. Alfred discussed career choices. I decided on the basis of several cocktails and oysters to overcome my inhibition and try it myself.

Tyler is a nice Jewish guy from New York with kind eyes. He travels around making money from his tarot readings. It wasn't clear whether he was sincere or not. The experience was disconcerting. After several cuts of the cards, he told me that somebody called Bobby would become significant in my life. When he asked me if I knew a Bobby, I could only remember the Bobby from Company.

He moved on to draw several cards. I was represented by the Pope, Alfred was Death and between us was the Empress. He said that meant that Alfred was going through major changes in his life, but that there is a strong love between us. The sun card was next - meaning that I should be calm and happy, no matter what was to come. The next two cards made a very bad omen. The eight of cups and the two of swords meant that our relationship wouldn't survive the changes in Alfred's life.

A spooky experience.

The actor turned out to be Roscoe Lee Browne.

Thanks for the chat and cocktails, Roscoe

Posted by nathan at 01:45 AM | Comments (1)


April 19, 2003
Shopping and sleeping

The day worked out rather differently than expected. Alfred's friend from Toronto didn't turn up (upsetting for Alfred, who hadn't seen him for ten years). We made for the hotel gym and then trawled around the Theater District in an unsuccessful pursuit of tickets for some more shows. I could feel it was turning out to be one of those days. But hey - the sun was shining and we're in New York!

Brunch filled us up for the day with ribs, chips and cole slaw - after which we cruised around Bloomingdales for ages. It's a sign of the times that I would tolerate three hours of shopping.

We were still too full to eat a proper supper, so bagels and smoothies were just right before an evening in Midtown (not what you expected, eh)? Languor, boredom or both made me unaccountably tired this evening and definitely not ready to face the bar we'd planned to visit in Chelsea. That'll just have to wait until I catch up with some holiday rest. I felt very old-mannish being in bed by 1 am without having been out, but I had to give in to my exhaustion.

I bought another copy of Ricercar, this time orchestrated by Webern and played by the Münchener Kammerorchester with Christoph Poppen

Posted by nathan at 01:43 AM | Comments (0)


April 18, 2003
Teutonic artfest

Today was German day. We traipsed back to the Upper East Side to visit the Neue Galerie on East 86th Street. What a pleasure it turned out to be (and how disappointing that the museum shop left me with no memorabilia. The highlights were portraits by Christian Schad in "Christian Schad and the Neue Sachlichkeit" and a room full of Gustav Klimt sketches and early paintings. Delicious. One room had several handsome clocks from early twentieth century restaurants and shops.

portrait by Christian Schad

But this was a mere amuse guelle to the main course of the day. I approach a live production of Parsifal with some "fear and awe". I'm intimidated by the scale of the work, some guilt at dragging Alfred along and the likelihood that I'll fall asleep during the performance. There. Most Wagner fans wouldn't admit that. But Parsifal is an opera both grand in its ambitions and very ponderous in its illustration of the central messages of purity, purpose and redemption. The sacred nature of the opera was underlined by its performance on Good Friday.

This production, my first experience at the Met, was delectable. Placido Domingo sang the title role, accompanied by an outstanding Rene Pape as Gurmenanz, Linda Watson as Kundry and Falk Struckmann as Amfortas. Valery Gergiev conducted the orchestra. This strength in depth made for a memorable evening. Three features distinguished the experience from earlier Parsifals. First, the lavish and entrancing set, which seduced the audience into a world where the Grail shines and magic castles exist. Second, the famous singers - Domingo and Pape were outstanding. Third, and less fortunate, was the poor audience behaviour. Inappropriate applause at the end of each act tarnished the gravitas of this most solemn work of Wagner's oeuvre.

As to the work itself, after listening through my recording four times in anticipation, I am inclined to leave this grand but slothlike myth alone for a little while.

Posted by nathan at 01:33 AM | Comments (0)


April 17, 2003
Breakfast at Norma's

We ate in the swanky Norma's restaurant this morning. The eggs Benedict were fluffy and satisfying. Fully refreshed, we went to the Upper East Side to visit the Whitney Museum of American Art. I enjoyed some of the photographic and installation pieces but left the gallery somewhat unmoved.

Alfred and Sylvie at Gascogne

In the evening we met up with Neil and Sylvie, who treated us to a delicious meal at Gascogne restaurant in Chelsea. They made for such pleasant company.

Posted by nathan at 01:31 AM | Comments (2)


April 16, 2003

I salved my conscience by going into work for a few hours before leaving for London. Mum and Dad looked hassled with preparations for Passover supper - and that only added to my guilt at flying off today. I enjoy the family Seder, and would have liked to have seen Vincent, Cosmo and Fif.

After some tea and Passover biscuits we left for the tube, only to find that there were no trains. Dad was a hero and drove us to Heathrow (which resulted in us arriving even earlier than we'd expected).

We proceeded to the hallowed halls of the Concorde lounge. There was nothing to do there except drink champagne and munch canapés, so that's what we did. The nature of the Concorde clientele was revealed when the aeroplane drew up to its stand. A number of passengers took photographs and became noticeably more animated, whilst the rich and famous skulked in corners of the lounge.

Cordorde at the stand

The wings of the plane appeared far more curved and birdlike than I had remembered, resembling an elegant bird of prey, powerful, metallic, gleaming and humming.

At last the time came to board. Although well fitted out, with blue leather upholstery throughout, the cabin was quite cramped. More so than on an economy seat on a 747 (or so it felt).

The take-off and flight were fascinating. The aeroplane accelerated at full thrust, with afterburners roaring. We took off and ascended rapidly, before the afterburners were switched off to reduce noise. This was an eerie sensation (the afterburners were only reignited at Mach 0.7).The sounds of the aircraft were unfamiliar and, for that reason, somewhat disconcerting. The only surprise was that I didn't notice any sonic boom as we passed the speed of sound. I'll have to look out for that on the way home.

We ascended to 55,000 feet and cruised at Mach 2. The main onboard activity was eating and drinking. A middle-aged man in the most garish of pink striped shirts proposed to his girlfriend in the seat behind us. She accepted, to the applause of neighbouring passengers - and then spent the rest of the journey vomiting. I couldn't tell whether it was the excitement or the shirt.

The experience of flying Concorde was great. The atmosphere was different than I had imagined. Fewer of the rich and famous (although I recognised a few faces), and more people there for the trip of a lifetime. Like us, I guess.

We arrived at JFK at about 17:30 and sped through immigration and customs. Our yellow taxi slewed scarily through the rush hour traffic in Queens and over the Triborough Bridge into the city. We checked into the Le Parker Meridien on 57th and 7th tired and a little too late for the theatre. Sylvie had reserved a pleasant suite for us. So we made the most of it.

Posted by nathan at 01:24 AM | Comments (1)


April 15, 2003

Our impending holiday has started to become real for me. I don't know how I'll cope with over a week away from work.

Posted by nathan at 01:22 AM | Comments (0)


April 13, 2003
Revenge Reviewed 2

Ruthless slave of evil power
Terrible Tenglewyth does exact
His terminal toll in full;
The bestial balance
Of tethered mind and soul forgotten
Will subdued to insidious force

Horrible ending has cut them all
From pedestals high and precarious fall
The victims of time
Revenged by time
The wronged

Posted by nathan at 12:00 PM | Comments (0)


April 12, 2003
Pipes of peace or pipe dream?

(This adapted from a comments posting from an earlier blog entry. Thanks charlie b. for the provocation. I might return to this entry and tune it when I'm less tired).

The Iraq situation provokes strong views, both pro and anti-war.

The anti-war camp are branded as "commies", "liberals with an anti-American agenda", "friends of Saddam" and "appeasers". There are indeed many who oppose "globalisation" (for which read that they are envious and fearful of America's economic and cultural domination of the West).

Let me be clear about my own feelings. I am anti-war, but I'm also pro-American, pro-Israeli (but vehemently against the current Israeli government and its policies on Palestine, settlements etc) and anti-Saddam. If you read through my blog you'll find a series of postings, not always eloquent, because I'm finding it hard to find my expression as a puzzled pacifist. I can't see that the answer to our problems is killing. Call me oversensitive, but I have repeated nightmares about the Iraqi, American and British dead (innocent or not). I cling to the patently ridiculous hope that human beings should have evolved beyond war. And yet there are "evil" people in the world.

So I agree with the end (regime change) but not with the means. And, I admit, my own solutions are probably ineffective. But that doesn't make me a friend of Saddam, or a supporter of the disgusting manoeverings of the French and the hopeless antics of the UN.

Posted by nathan at 10:01 PM | Comments (1)


Bread. Falling. Buttered side down.

This entry by londonmark reminded me of a similar rejection, years ago. Afterwards I dreamed of buttered bread. Falling. Buttered Side down.

The Pet Shop Boys captured a similar fear of rejection in this track on their Album Behaviour.


A nervous boy in several ways
I never knew the world could operate this way
I was nervous when we stopped to speak
And the world came crashing around my feet

We don't talk of love
We're much too shy
But nervously we wonder when and why

A nervous boy, in spite of which
I never thought I could tremble as much as this
Your flashing eyes and sudden smiles
Are never quite at ease, and neither am I

Oh, we'll talk about it all some night
But nervously we never get it
From the start I approved of you
Right from the moment you turned to face me

A nervous boy from another town
With a nervous laugh and a concentrated frown
I spoke too fast with watchful eyes
Of a recent past and some nostalgic surprise

We don't talk of love
We're much too shy
But nervously we wonder when and
Knowing why I approved of you
Right from the moment you turned to face me

Have you ever experienced a blind date like this?

Posted by nathan at 03:47 PM | Comments (2)


April 11, 2003
Driving in my car

Driving in my car. My thoughts are skittish as the traffic glugs along the motorway. Noise of the road, babble of the radio. Chatter chatter chatter. This conversation, that email I need to send, the jobs I have to do before New York. The tooting of horns as an impetuous driver weaves aggressively across the lanes. Foot on the clutch, accelerate and break, change gear. Slow down, brake, accelerate, up a gear. Break, stop, first gear. All in irregular sequence.

And then I look across through the windows of the cars at the people I pass. None smiling. All scowling. Some speaking on their mobiles. One woman in a car (so battered) obviously arguing with her husband, gesticulating, face contorted and full of hate, oblivious to my intrusive gaze. A river of painted metal and sullen humanity moves uphill past junction 17.

My thoughts change to home. Work. What I must do tonight. Over the weekend. And I know that Alfred will be at home, waiting for me. Waiting to hold me in his loving arms.

Pizza and champagne. I'll fall asleep, exhausted, woozy and comfortable. Far too early.

I know what's coming. Don't knock it. Life could be much worse.

Posted by nathan at 06:25 PM | Comments (0)


April 10, 2003
Concorde just in time

We apparently judged our timing perfectly. Next week we'll fulfill my ten-year dream of flying by Concorde to New York (thanks to air miles - it took me years to save for the two tickets). This morning, British Airways and Air France announced that they will be discontinuing the service from the end of October.

six more days until we fly, six more months for Concorde

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


April 09, 2003
Celebrations in Baghdad - victory for death

Iraq seems to have fallen to the coalition forces. Saddam Hussein is nowhere to be found and his statue in the centre of Baghdad has been toppled.

new world order

One of the main arguments advanced against my view of this intervention is that more lives will be saved through regime change than have been expended in the war.

I don't doubt that.

But war wasn't the only option.

I'm happy to stand alone and argue against the killing of other human beings.

Call that a fight?

Saddam statue toppled in central Baghdad square

US marines sent a towering bronze statue of Saddam Hussein crashing to the ground amid loud cheers on a central Baghdad square on Wednesday.

After fruitless efforts by Iraqis, it took the marines and a tank recovery vehicle with a crane to secure a chain around the statue's neck to pull it over.

Dozens of Iraqis jumped on the figure shouting with joy.

The statue was demolished after US tanks rumbled on to al-Fardus (Paradise) square in the late afternoon and dozens of people quickly gathered to watch and warmly welcome the troops.

The crowd soon set about trying to destroy the monument in a symbolic gesture marking the collapse of Saddam's Baath Party regime.

Initially, the marines covered the statue's head with an American flag, but then took that flag down and replaced it with an Iraqi flag around its neck.

Posted by nathan at 07:58 PM | Comments (0)


Americans shell journalists in Baghdad

The Abrams tank turned its turret and fired directly at the Al-Rashid hotel where journalists covering the war are staying. Two were killed, neither of whom were US citizens.

"It's been a bad war for journalists" said a BBC reporter. What about the Iraqis?

Posted by nathan at 07:03 AM | Comments (0)


April 08, 2003

The office is looking better now. It's not so bare, now we have some accessories in there.

aloe vera and pebbles in glass

We had a visit from the business editor of the Cambridge Evening News. Let's see what she publishes next Tuesday.

This picture will leave you vertically challenged. Scroll down.

lucky bamboo shoot

We had a good sales meeting in the morning too. Not a bad day overall.

Posted by nathan at 10:34 PM | Comments (2)


April 07, 2003
The team assembled

Six of us sat around the table in our new office for the first time today. I kvelled inwardly. Howard said to me afterward that the atmosphere is so different - more people, bright, shiny office, reasonably good order book (although we need a lot more for the new guys).

A sunny Monday.

But, reading JustNathan, you need a dose of angst. And that's on the client side. I'm feeling so much under pressure to deliver and I've been letting one of my clients down. Everything's a rush, and the move has generated a mass of minor disruptions that has made it difficult to focus. So I've been back to the routine of extremely long hours (14 per day) and exhaustion. And I'm still behind. All very ineffective. Plus we're off to New York in a week - just the time for a holiday.

The only way out of it is for me to focus on completing specific tasks.

Posted by nathan at 11:55 PM | Comments (0)


April 06, 2003
Pita blogs

My friend Pita has started her own blog. Have a look.

How could I ever justify the killing of one person by another? All of the "pro" arguments seem to be so impersonal, contrasted with the visceral shudder I experience when I hear of another man dead. Be they Iraqi, American, British or Australian, is this the civilised world? A world where the powers that be change the rules of citizenship to suppress dissent amongst their people. A world where men of peace are branded "friends of Saddam"? A civilised world where one unelected leader kicks the shit out of another?

I am disgusted by the sight of Blair and (pah pah pah) Bush deciding how the spoils should be divided whilst the cynical French manipulate the European and UN dimension to their own ends. A war of liberation?

I'm happy to be accused of being "nelly". I "duck the issues" and "leave other people to make the difficult choices". But duck as I may, maybe I'd rather live in a smaller, less power and oil-hungry country, where staying on the sidelines is an acceptable moral compromise.

At least I wouldn't have the blood of Iraqis on my hands.

Because even though I didn't vote for the vicar of St Albion, I pay his henchman's taxes. I don't protest. I listen to those disgusting manufacturers of consent.

Pita writes that she is spending little time watching news of the havoc wrought on our behalf. I'm entranced by it - I spend hours at night reading news, comment, speculation, blogs, references, analysis - all to no avail. I'll have no effect on the outcome. But at least I'll have added another scar on my soul. Another blow to any chance of retaining a rosy view of the world. Dog really does eat dog. We're just the bigger dogs.

"Up on a hillside..."

Posted by nathan at 07:31 AM | Comments (0)


April 05, 2003
A new breed of martyrs?

And so our war of "liberation" progresses. I shudder every time I turn on my radio. What new horrors have been unleashed, supposedly on my behalf, supposedly in pursuit of freedom.

As we have entered Spring, the Hebrew month of Nissan, the sun shines on us. But its light is harsh over the desert.

Posted by nathan at 07:19 PM | Comments (0)


April 04, 2003
Greene King

Another day trying to move forwards. The office move has been tremendously gratifying in some ways but it's been expensive and disruptive to my work. Our web site traffic has quintupled, I've had lots of calls and emails from well-wishers (thanks to my friends and family), job applications and even a couple of leads for new business. But I really love working for my customers, and I'm behind with my work for them - which makes me feel so pressurised, I could burst. I feel as though I'm letting them down.

But grumbling is unattractive, especially if, to the outside world, you're successful.

I spent the evening at the Alexandra pub, tasting a variety of Greene King ales with Alistair and Steve. Now I know why straight guys are fascinated by lesbian sex. It was what I thought - I really didn't need to know the deatil though.

Long after closing time, Alistair and I picked up a stodgegreaseburger from Bosphorus. Ugh. But a fitting respite from the week's travails.

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


April 03, 2003
The truth...

The whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

It's not to be found here. The second, certainly not. Self-censorship is kindness.

Posted by nathan at 08:19 PM | Comments (0)


April 02, 2003
Guerrillas in the desert

The war continues and the falsehood of a central American premise is clear, The people of Basrah are not welcoming allied troops by throwing flowers. They are resisting their occupiers with glowering mistrust and guerrilla tactics. Troops discard their uniforms and merge into the civilian poulation. Suicide bombings have started. When will we be able to leave?

Posted by nathan at 09:02 PM | Comments (0)


April 01, 2003
April fool

My bank manager came to visit me today. This was part of their relationship management campaign for high-priority clients. She needn't have troubled herself as it was a waste of time.

She hadn't bothered to work out what we do as a business. She hadn't managed to develop answers to the questions I'd posed (mainly about the Internet banking service which used to be moderately ok, but has now been reduced substantially since the NatWest/RBOS takeover). She managed to convince me to change banks, when I have the time and can be bothered. I hate wasting my time with fools.

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