Just Nathan

A musical offering, in parts
June 29, 2003
All's well

No reason for the lack of updates this week. It's been a pleasant weekend, but very busy!

Posted by nathan at 06:09 PM | Comments (0)


June 28, 2003
Saturday's ok

I made myself sit down and write another mega job list this morning, and worked through it for some time before Vincent arrived at lunchtime. We went out to the new La Tasca tapas restaurant - another in the chain (we've been to the Maiden Lane restaurant near Covent Garden several times). The same recipe, lively, decent food but much smaller portions. We walked around the centre of town, which was teeming with tourists, before returning home to work on a business plan.

In the evening, Vincent went home and we drove off to the Phoenix in Histon, which was a decent Pekingese restaurant - also small portions. So although we ate out twice today, I wasn't at all stuffed!

The extraordinary row between Alistair Campbell and Andrew Gilligan / HM Government and the BBC continues to grow. Of course it's a useful diversion from the real issue of the deception that seems to have been practised upon us by HMG. Little of the evidence presented so far answers my questions of last week.

Posted by nathan at 06:18 PM | Comments (0)


June 25, 2003
Point Blank

Lovely to see Luke this evening in Edinburgh.

The lovely Luke

I hadn't realised that so much time has passed since we last saw one another. Since his move from Belfast to Edinburgh, time has flown by. We stayed at a sub-Schraeger hotel called "The Point" and ate at a tapas bar near the Castle.

Posted by nathan at 11:31 PM | Comments (0)


June 23, 2003
Swindon and back

Off to Swindon for a meeting this afternoon, then back to London to dance around, gently, on eggshells.

Posted by nathan at 11:37 PM | Comments (0)


June 22, 2003

Trial show or show trial? Channel 4 yesterday screened an hour-long programme which aimed to try Tony Blair for misleading the British nation in his endeavour to gain support for war against Iraq.

Such programmes irritate me greatly. Especially when presented by the clueless Jon Snow. He couldn't tell whether he was presenting Newsnight, a real trial or an entertainment show. The "trial" raised the promise of a proper debate on the issue. Instead, the format and time constraint delivered only annoyance. Snow's eyes were on the clock... "you have 45 seconds to summarise your case". This forced the debate to the lowest common denominator of yah boo skirmishes between the participants. Snow forced the pace through questions, answers and advertising breaks.

So the audience, both in the studio and at home, were left none the wiser. Witnesses were easily able to evade the questions posed, as their filibustering paid off within the minute. Were any minds changed?

In terms of the substance, the case for the prosecution was that Tony Blair had engaged in "honourable deception"*. Convinced of the need for regime change and the existence of weaopns of mass destruction, but unable to provide evidence that would convince the British people or the United Nations, Blair and his cronies "sexed up" the evidence. This prosecution evidence has credence given the apology from Alistair Campbell to the Intelligence Services and the statement by Ibrahim al-Marashi, author of the now infamous thesis "Iraq's Security & Intelligence Network: A Guide & Analysis", that key words in his plagiarised work had been altered to make the Iraqi threat seem more imminent. Even the defence didn't seek to justify the key "45 minutes" claim.

The case for the defence was that it was necessary to remove Saddam, whatever the provable state of the evidence. The deaths of thousands in the war were sensible sacrifice in return for removal of a tyrranical regime that had slaughtered hundreds of thousands. The evidence for weapons of mass destruction was conclusive, not circumstantial. Saddam had already used gas on the Kurds, and many tons of biological and chemical materials are unaccounted for. The ends justified the means.

For me the end cannot justify the means, as the means employed negate the foundation of our so-called representative democracy, and leave us with the "might is right" ravings of an unelected fool in America and his deluded British sidekick.

It's clear to me that Blair did believe in what he was doing, but felt that he had to lie to Parliament and people to achieve his goal. That is the most grievous charge that can be laid against a British Prime Minister. A man of honour would realise this error, apologise and step down.

If you are reading this and thinking "he's off again", I accept that my conclusions may be wrong. To convince me, please show me the evidence that Saddam was such a "present danger" that UN weapons inspectors had to be withdrawn and the UN process abandoned in favour of a war opposed by many nations and even the majority of British citizens. Please, just show me the evidence.

* "I believe that the Prime Minister must have concluded that it was honourable and desirable to back the US in going for military action in Iraq and therefore it was honourable for him to persuade us through various ruses and ways to get us there - so for him I think it was an honourable deception".

Normal decision-making processes “collapsed” without a single meeting of the Cabinet’s defence and overseas committee, the former International Development Secretary Clare Short told the Foreign Affairs Select Committee on 17th June.

Posted by nathan at 07:26 AM | Comments (0)


June 21, 2003
Summer in the city

Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty
Been down, isn't it a pity
Doesn't seem to be a shadow in the city

It's sunny outside and I'm working.

Posted by nathan at 02:59 PM | Comments (0)


June 20, 2003
A fish's tale

The fish from my office. I hope they live through the weekend.


luminous numinous

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


June 19, 2003

Haircut. Short. With a little wax as Alfred likes it. but not pinky-minky, as straight Dom used to do it with his razor.

Posted by nathan at 10:45 PM | Comments (0)


June 18, 2003

I started the business 4 years ago today.

I'm still a bit stressed out, and working harder than ever, but our customers seem to love what we do for them. I try so hard to give them good value and service. I'm much "happier" than I would have been had I carried on working for other people, so it looks as though I should count my blessings.

I'd not be here now without the support of Alfred and my friends. Thanks.

Posted by nathan at 06:11 AM | Comments (0)


June 17, 2003
Big Brother

Worthy of mention? Not this year. I will admit to having watched a couple of the evictions, but they're not much of a bunch of characters are they?

Posted by nathan at 11:04 PM | Comments (0)


June 15, 2003
Who's the hunk?

Make my day and post your guess by clicking on "comments" below. All will be revealed in due course.

guess who

You can post an entry even if you don't know who it is.

Posted by nathan at 08:53 AM | Comments (6)


Six o'clock in the morning

A jackdaw in the trees outside my bedroom wakes me up. I look on Alfred sleeping next to me, breathing with a regular, slow rhythmn, hands wrapped above his head, so peaceful. Blackbirds sing and a ray of light streams through a chink in the curtain, catching dust dancing in the light breeze of cool air.

I come downstairs and look out on Cambridge. Drawing the curtains, I step back, momentarily dazzled by the intensity of the morning sunlight. The dragonflies whirr away on their shelf, powered by photovoltaic cells. The maranta plant creaks as its leaves unfurl to receive the sun.

The air smells sweet as I lean out of the window. Four students in dinner suits stagger by, avoiding the cars as they cross the road on their way home from May balls. They sing, champagne bottles in hand, ties discarded, before turning the corner and disappearing from sight. Another student zig-zags along the road, arms outstretched - he thinks he's flying.

I settle down to my laptop to read the news and work. A cafetiere of coffee and my favourite mug.

Simple pleasures.

Posted by nathan at 07:29 AM | Comments (0)


June 14, 2003
Lunch in London

I drove down to London for lunch with Mum and Dad today. Dad was in hospital for a minor operation yesterday, but seemed fine. I had that feeling of being in control of a powerful car, speeding down the M11 with the music of Mahler's 3rd awakening my spirits.

Posted by nathan at 06:53 PM | Comments (0)


June 13, 2003
Shuffling the deck

Tony Blair's really lost his grip now.

He now seems lonely and isolated.

So where are we?

A Department for Consitutional Affairs. Changing the judicial system without consultation, without a manifesto commitment and without sorting out the deliberate mess they've made of the Lords.

Abolition of the post of Lord Chancellor, whilst putting his friend Charlie Falconer (a pleasant man by reputation), unelected and unrepresentative in a tempoarry position before a Supreme Court is devised (probably to be stuffed with political appointees).

The Scottish and Welsh Offices are combined within the DCA and thus have no cabinet minister to represent them in the Commons (or will Charlie do a Tony? I doubt it). So Peter Hain speaks on Welsh affairs as well as being Leader of the Commons and Alistair Darling will speak for Scottish affairs as well as Transport.

There is a further illustration of the mess of devolution, and brilliant example of the West Lothian question. John Reid, member for Lothian in Scotland, a region that has turned its back on foundation hospitals, is responsible for implementing the policy in England. But English voters cannot get rid of him. Another West Lothian link.

The back benches are filling up with the bitter, the failed and the disillusioned.

For all your idealism and fast talking, Tony Blair, your days are numbered. Nobody stays forever as Prime Minister - you should quit while you still have some credit.

Posted by nathan at 06:27 AM | Comments (0)


June 12, 2003
The Blair: Which Project?

It used to be called "the Project". Now it's just a mess.

Posted by nathan at 11:37 PM | Comments (0)


June 11, 2003
Royal cock-up

My Proms tickets haven't arrived. But my credit card has been debited with a different amount than that shown on the confirmation email.

So I thought I'd call the number given on the confirmation.

After twenty minutes holding, I was told that I was dealing with the wrong office and should call another company. I dialled and after another ten minutes holding, was told that I should send my request by email.

A day later, I received an email informing me that the volume of emails was too great, so that emails will not be answered. I was welcome to call the box office.

I hope the music's better.

Posted by nathan at 11:37 PM | Comments (0)


June 08, 2003

We met up with Fabien and Erik for supper at Quo Vadis in Soho and then walked over to the Donmar Warehouse to see Caligula with Michael Sheen in the title role of David Grieg's new translation of Camus' play. The Donmar is one of my favourite London spaces and the challenge of Camus on a Saturday evening was one I had eagerly anticipated.

Caligula is mad, sadistic and bent on negation of Rome, his acolytes and himself. He descends from a pathetic sorrow, wandering in the woods after his sister's death, to a spiralling orgy of destruction and killing that leads inexorably to his own assassination. Caligula's fate, his self-abnegation, his despair is orchestrated knowingly, each step in exercising absolute power is a new experiment pushing the bounds of humiliation of his courtiers.

Sheen gave a thrilling, visceral performance which dominated the stage, the theatre and, unfortunately, the other actors, who were forced to stand by, mouthing in awe and flinching before the foaming tyrant.

According to the translator's note, Camus wrote the play against the background of the invasion of France in 1940 and his own life's agonies. Caligula reflects those times of clashing ideologies, violence and deep personal despair... he writes that, as we live in comparable times in 2003.. "Camus' Caligula speaks directly to us - forcing us to face the question of how best we live, in the face of what we know".

The "absurd" is a theatre wallowing in meaninglessness, a random universe with no purpose, our lives end only in death - Caligula says "we die and we are unhappy" - so he seeks to exact happiness in the exercise of his tyranny.

On the train from King's Cross, I listened to the chatter of the people around me. Meaningless, futile and random.

Posted by nathan at 05:41 AM | Comments (0)


June 07, 2003

I saw a new Lynx ad in the cinema: "Men's sweat only attracts other men. Is that really what you want?"

Yes please. I'd rather smell a real person than Lynx. As Alfred said "cheap perfume makes me cough".

Thanks Swish

Posted by nathan at 10:50 AM | Comments (0)


Rogue elements in the British Government

The "revelations" about American and British cynicism over weapons of mass destruction continue

On the mobile units alledged to have been used for biological weapons, the New York Times reports that no trace of germs has been found. Analysts have said the mobile units were more likely intended for other purposes and charged that the evaluation process had been damaged by a rush to judgment.

The Washington Post reports:

"Bush Certainty On Iraq Arms Went Beyond Analysts' Views

During the weeks last fall before critical votes in Congress and the United Nations on going to war in Iraq, senior administration officials, including President Bush, expressed certainty in public that Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons, even though U.S. intelligence agencies were reporting they had no direct evidence that such weapons existed.

In an example of the tenor of the administration's statements at the time, the president said in the Rose Garden on Sept. 26 that "the Iraqi regime possesses biological and chemical weapons. The Iraqi regime is building the facilities necessary to make more biological and chemical weapons."

But a Defense Intelligence Agency report on chemical weapons, widely distributed to administration policymakers around the time of the president's speech, stated there was "no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing or stockpiling chemical weapons or whether Iraq has or will establish its chemical agent production facilities."

The disparities between the conviction with which administration officials portrayed the threat posed by Iraq in their public statements and documents, and the more qualified reporting on the issue by intelligence agencies in classified reports, are at the heart of a burgeoning controversy in Congress and within the intelligence community over the U.S. rationale for going to war. The failure of the United States to uncover any proscribed weapons eight weeks after the end of the war is fueling sentiment among some Democrats on Capitol Hill and some intelligence analysts that the administration may have exaggerated the threat posed by Iraq".

This situation could not be more serious. We were told to believe the judgement of the leaders of our so-called representative democracies (sorry, that doesn't apply to our US friends, who get the president with the money, not the votes). They told us that the war was based upon intelligence proving that WMD could be deployed in 45 minutes. This evidence is at best debatable, at worst fraudulent, and Blair and his cronies have resorted to evasion and undermining of the intelligence services, with John Reid (pah pah pah) claiming that rogue elements had briefed against the government.

Answers to Nothing. It's all convincing me to take a pacifist line, whatever the consequences.

Posted by nathan at 07:39 AM | Comments (0)


June 06, 2003
The bells, the bells...

So we went to the Kingston Arms, sat in what Alistair thought was a pleasant garden (for which read a crowded patio enclosed by poorly creosoted fencing and inconsiderate smokers) with a pint of Hop Back Summer Lightning and ordered our food.

And then a dozen Morris dancers entered the garden, with two women playing accordion and very large sticks to knock together. I was transported to a surreal plane, where prancing old men constitute a tuneful summer entertainment. We left at closing time, heads ringing - but was that the beer?

Posted by nathan at 08:23 PM | Comments (0)


June 05, 2003
Pubs with gardens

I need a drink this evening. Now which is a decent pub in Cambridge with a beer garden? Even better, one within walking distance?

The Alexandra's ok, but I can't yet forgive them for their thai prawn curry last week. They used to make decent thai curries but this one was composed of prawns, green curry paste and cream - yes cream, lots of it. They must think that coconut milk and cream are the same thing. The beer was good though. Alistair's been a revelation in my appreciation of beer.

Posted by nathan at 01:58 PM | Comments (0)


June 04, 2003

And food for thought.

Posted by nathan at 07:00 AM | Comments (0)


June 03, 2003
A mole in Cat Hill

Cosmo's art exhibition today. Fantastic. I was so proud of him - his University place is now secure.

He has photographed, developed a taxonomy and catalogued all his bodily moles and blemishes.

moles and blemishes - the spikey one is hairy

a body's worth


the source

the taxonomy of blemishes

the SIRT shop

I knew he'd grow up to be the next Leonardo da Vinci.

Posted by nathan at 11:39 PM | Comments (0)


June 02, 2003
Welcome the dawn?

We saw Trembling before G-d at the Cambridge Arts Cinema yesterday. Sexuality and religion are uncomfortable bedfellows – this film documentary was compellingly humanistic viewing.

I’ve wanted the shadows,
I don’t anymore.
No matter what happens,
I won't anymore
I've run from the sunlight-
Afraid it saw too much.
The moon had the one light
I bathed in-
I walked in.

I held in my feelings
And closed every door.
No matter what happen.
I can't anymore.
There's someone who must hear
The words I've never spoken.
Tonight if he were here
My silence would be broken.

I need him to touch me-
To know the love that's in my heart-
The same heart that tells me
To see myself-
To free myself-
To be myself at last!

For too many mornings
The curtains were drawn.
It's time they were opened
To welcome the dawn.
A voice deep inside
Is getting stronger,
I can't keep it quiet any longer.
No matter what happens,
It can't be the same anymore...
I promise it won't be the same

Barbra Streisand: Yentl (why do so many gay people see Yentl as such an important film?)

How can orthodox faith be reconciled with homosexuality and twenty-first century living? Why do these people try to effect such an impossible combination – clinging to their beliefs in the face of the bible’s teachings, bigotry, rejection (even excommunication) and lack of humanity from other Jews?

The most heartening aspect of this understated film is its role in provoking debate in the Jewish community. Screenings have been organised in orthodox shuls and for Israeli headmasters. But will the kafuffle change anything? Those of a conservative disposition will retreat to their view, and the liberals will continue to beat their heads against the wall of bigotry and lack of understanding. “Piety, paternity and family” sees homosexuality as an evil sickness, treatable only by abstinence and prayer.

Of particular note was the Lubavitch Rabbi who had counseled a young man from Los Angeles whilst failing to understand that homosexuality is about far more than anal sex. He persuaded the youngster to enter into therapy for several years in an attempt to find a cure. Meeting again after twenty years, the Lubavitcher could only scratch his head in puzzlement about the problem that hadn’t gone away.

The theme was limited to that of orthodox Jews and their struggle. This was rather unbalanced for the Christains and Moslems who may miss the universality of the insoluble dilemma of gay people who want to stay true to themselves and to their religion.

Most worrying was that one of the gay men interviewed was terrified of being persecuted by his religious collegaues once the film was screened. The non-judgemental, documentary style contained an implicit plea for understanding and change. But I don’t see it happening whilst people remain prepared to cast aside theior human understanding in favour of mistaken religious beliefs.

Posted by nathan at 10:52 PM | Comments (0)


June 01, 2003
Reloading the clichés

Bigger, flasher, more expensive, packed with redundant parts and overused special effects - it was hard to feel involved in The Matrix Reloaded in the same way that I was sucked into the world of the original film. Parts of the story were laughable - the acknowledged Superman ripoff, others cringeworthy - the messianic call to arms by Morpheus, followed by a rave scene unworthy of the doomed Zion.

All the same, it was good for a laugh. I'm not sure that I'd want to give them another fiver to watch the third wringing out of this material.

Mind you, the cod Christianity is fun to decipher.

Posted by nathan at 10:59 AM | Comments (0)