Thursday, May 21, 2009

I see I saw

Squashed on the ceiling. My little fly. Your butterfly has flown.
I see. I saw. A horrible scene. Rubbish rules that refuse to be. I before e except after. Any time. A time. To be left or not to be. See you some other time. Time to forget what has gone. Time to get gone. Get out. Get in. Side by side. I see. I saw. A horrible scene. A vision now known, and yet still now unseen.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Musical Body

In the absence of inspiration on the paper writing front I thought I would compile a body out of music!

Bones (and elbows!)
...or Testicles
The waist down
...and Toes!

please feel free to add bodyparts as you please!

Friday, April 03, 2009


As I washed my hands in the women's toilets today something happened that felt pretty special. Perhaps a novelty, perhaps a statement, perhaps nothing out of the ordinary at all really. A girl came and stood next to me. This girl works in the labs were I am, I've spoken to her many times, shared equipment, said hello almost every day. Like many of the girls in the lab she is muslim and wears a hijab and veil. It's not occurred to me that I now this girl without knowing her face at all before.

So as I stood washing my hands and wiggling my nose as if to prove it was mine (it's a strange habit) she began to take off the veil. It was perhaps the most beautiful process I've ever witnessed. She placed each piece of cloth on a hook next to the sinks and when she was finished she looked me straight in the eye with hers, and with smiling eyes she said 'this is the first time?'

'I guess it is the first time', I said with a wide hazy look. And there we stood, for perhaps a moment or two, face by face, visible to only each other.

I've heard it said that the cover is to separate men from their inherent weaknesses, to purify their thoughts through segregation from thought and desire. I'm not so sure I agree. Perhaps it is not about men at all, perhaps the purpose is to unearth some deeply lying bond between women, to make it so that we can see each other for the first time, in the women's toilets, in a lab, on a friday afternoon.

Friday, March 20, 2009

In the absence of senses

After the Valentine's blog, well let's say, crashed and burned, I can't even hope to predict what may come of this one but still.

This is my favourite poem of all the poems that I've read from all the books and subway stations and bits of paper that I've come across.


a break of the skin; a faltering, a falling in. love is no disease. a disjointed appointment, emotion/commotion. each thought of her rushes to be next in line. this is my contentment, my confinement, the cell i made for myself. to bleed, divine; i forget that i fell. going nowhere first. among equals, this/i will/am last. i cannot fail to hope to please. in this cage i am unsurpassed. this ersatz jail. the me she sees.

The site from which it comes has a number of nuggets of brilliance. I love it, though I dare say it could be updated more frequently ;)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

So pretty

Thought you might like this...

Dont eat them!

I recently put a pretty shoddy entry in for a competition set up by Mars. The idea was 'you get 3 mars bars, and make them into something'. Although it appears that the majority of people ate them (thus essentially making them into heat and various molecular bonds) some people made them into AMAZING things...

Monday, March 09, 2009

You might not know

I recently found a few things out about the physical world that you might like to know:

1. Socks, when put under the grill slightly damp, can melt and become completely solid upon cooling.

2. You can grow fungus (i suspect Penicillium) on margarine.

3. You can change the colour of earplugs by putting them in the washing machine in an appropriately coloured sock (ones that you haven't melted.)

In summary, I'm runnng out of socks and margarine!

That is all.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

On engagement

No not that sort of engagement mother, please take off that ridiculous hat!

I've recently been fencing quite a bit. Fencing is really quite a strange thing i suppose. Mostly, on account of having a sword but simultaneously wearing enough protective clothing that a duel results in only minor bruising (in my case, perhaps not others'). You have to 'want' to hurt the other person enough to attack them or at least make them believe you will, but simultaneously you are safe in the knowledge that you really can't.

One principle that I've learnt over recent weeks is that of engagement. This refers to the 'the point at which the fencers are close enough to join blades, and have met one another in an encouter of sufficient proximity that makes an effective attack possible'. At this point, with blades touching, each can feel the others movements, and their motives. One may feel a confident and certain pressure, aiming to push your weapon away, but equally they too may feel the gentle submission of your blade that will allow their force to push his advance wide.

To engage is to propose an attack, not to make one and not defend against one. They say nothing in particular and acheive nothing towards victory or defeat. The provide only possibility. Possibilities are a wonderful. Even the possibility of being attacked (with or without a sword). Perhaps this is why I wish to be endlessly engaged and hope for nothing more than to be engaging perhaps once or twice in this lifetime.

And now... for balloons! Beautiful balloons! (more on this later)

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Jew for renewal

A few weeks back I was driving through Preswich on a sunday afternoon after a regular cycle 40 odd miles on a tandem with a visually impaired guy on the back sort of sunday morning. I was feeling a little woozy so pulled over next to a park in Prestwich. Those who know Manchester will know that this is on the north side and is pretty heavily populated with a jewish population which once led a dear friend of mine to refer to it as a safari park. I still love her dearly, though i've never forgotten it. So whilst I was parked up, I noticed a group of orthodox jewish girls walking by.

Now, having not taken a picture of these girls, and having found mostly lewd pictures upon putting 'jewish girls' into google images, I can only explain to those who can't picture who i mean.

I've probably lost half the male audience to google images, at least temporarily, but I'll carry on anyhow. Firstly, don't get me wrong, this is not what every jewish person looks like, but there is a certain image that sits in my mind. It's a white shirted girl, with a long gray skirt and dark tights and shoes. Dark hair and eyes that look like the black is bleeding into the surrounding skin. Sombre and walking like there's somewhere to go usually. I've always been very interested in the girls I see that look like this, even though I've been seeing them all my life in various jewish quarters, synagogues etc. I've always stared at them for a little too long and felt a little strange afterwards. In the past the reason for this hasn't seemed so clear, but on this particular woozy sunday afternoon the colour drained from my vision and suddenly these girls stood in a perfect black and white picture. Just like my grandmothers, their mothers, the mothers' mothers. These girls that I see are my walking ancestors. They probably have mobile phones and T.Vs and Ipods, but they look just like the people I know came before me. It's a strange feeling, to be connected to someone and yet not understand them. Our ancestors aren't supposed to be here now, they aren't supposed to understand and experience the things we do. Mozart couldn't have heard his music played on a modern piano let alone an 80's synthesiser. So perhaps it is for this reason that I never thought that I would be in a country that, for all it's problems, is a place where people can visit ancient jerusalem any day of the week, where it's normal to keep shabbat, and where people can swear and chat and write rock songs in an ancient language.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Please work

I am so very very unfocused right now - this is what exists of my review of the influence of size in pharmacokinetic behaviour of antifungal drugs (yes i know)...

The variation in size ...A Haze Nitrite Vision...A Haven Ionizer Tis It ...must...write...something...

oh bugger it.

The truth of youth

Lou: Jodi, you are my little flower.
Me: Well thats a nice thing to say. What sort of flower?
Lou: My little rose bud.
Me: Why am i not in the garden then?
Lou: You are.
Me: Oh. So what's that through the window?
Lou: A very big house.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The dreams that haunt

"I dreamt I was a butterfly, flittering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly...suddenly I awoke...Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming I am a man." Chuang-tzu

Last night I was at a funeral. Only it was some sort of strange game-like funeral where you have to guess who the person was. I considered this to be rather insensitive to the deceased but they all told me that this is what they would have wanted to I went with it. Everyone was given a piece of paper and told that it had a symbol on it. Everyone started opening their papers and shouting that they had the number one and trying to find two. No-one could find two and in the hussle bussle i was the last to open my paper, which i did slowly so that no-one would notice (I felt rather suspicious). I opened my page. It was not a two but a zero. It was too busy for anyone to notice but as it opened and looked at the zero it began to open itself over me. It became a hole that seemed to never end. I fell and i fell until suddenly I hit the ground. I was on the interstate. There were cars flying passed very fast but I got up slowly and walked carefully to the roadside, not looking at them. I walked straight through their paths to a car that had crashed onto the embankment. Inside the crumpled metal I could see a crumpled someone that I recognised. I was shocked, couldn't breath; tears welled up and spilled over onto the icey ground. There didn't seem to be anyone else around. I lay down next to the driver's window and rested my palm on their cold cheek. I watched as the cars rushed by, none of them had drivers, and their numberplates were only ones and zeros, and drifted off to sleep.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Valentines + 96

During this, the most 'cuddly' time of year, for reasons of both temperature regulation and convention, i've noticed a few things ...

The devil incarnate is currently masquerading as Engelbert Humperdinck in the Greater Manchester area...

...some people really can sleep anywhere...

...and sometimes doors really are looking at you...

Monday, February 09, 2009

Mrs Near

Its always nice to be able to see the look of terror

So amongst the other things that happened today I nearly got run over. Big deal I hear you say, you ride a bike, what do you expect. I feel like it still needs to be discussed in someway or another, and since you are my closest friend at the moment here it comes.

There I was, making my way along Oxford Road (in Manchester), just passing the quadrangle (which i'm told the AV guy is neogothic). I'd made it thus far, as usual, without incident. At this moment, however, i very pretty girl in a light blue Yaris thought that pulling out (to go left) whilst looking left was a good idea. I just wasn't quick enough in swerving you see and the front of this rather pretty blue Yaris pushed me sideways. Lucky for me it was in to the side of a bus. I know what you are thinking, into the side of a bus isn't so lucky. Believe me, i'm sure if it had been a moment early the bus would have knocked me clean in to sunday (which sadly is rather far away at present). Having said that, though i prefer to consider myself lucky, if it had been a minute early, she wouldn't have hit me at all.

Anyway, so a few yards on, I got off my bike, stood still for a while and probably looked pretty shaken up. She did stop, and was very apologetic through the window. At the time all I could manage to say was 'I don't think i dinted your car', which I imagine sounded pretty tame.

So there it is, I must say I'm not looking forward to the ride home much.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Just do what you do

Today I was sitting in The CafĂ© across from The Lab (guess who’s been reading The God of Small Things). Anyway, there I was eating my breakfast at 1pm (I had lunch at 9), when I saw across the room a fellow. He’s someone I know of, on account of many other people I know knowing him and him having, let’s say, an outgoing personality. Not wanting to interrupt I didn’t make myself known and presumed that he wouldn’t notice and would soon be leaving. Then comes that strange feeling when you are aware of your place in a room and how all the other things present relate to you, their proximity and movements, their interactions with one another. It’s not a feeling I’ve been able to escape once it’s entered through the door. You just become aware. So he did notice, and came and made himself comfortable across the table from me.

Then off he went, happily indulging in his knights-move thinking, explaining it as somewhere between genius and madness, which I’m inclined to agree with I must say, on the basis of vanity if nothing else. He told me all about his travels with a girl he met over a basketball in his first year of university, tested me on the triad of pellagra, told me about the distant places he's been.

I was anxious to get back to the lab and my newfound friends (lungettes as they shall now be referred to), so I explained I had to go and began to pack my things. Then, out of the hazy falling-all-over thoughts he had been throwing amongst the clatter of forks against plates and cups against saucers, he said ‘you just go do what you do’. It was a feeling akin to being clonked over the head by a heavy book. Doesn’t seem like a big deal does it? Oh but it is. You see that’s the thing that was said almost 3 years ago now, on an early summer’s day. At the time it felt important but unclear. Later, on my own, I realised that this was something I had wanted for a long time. To know that just doing what you do is enough, that you don’t have to make someone happy because, for the most part, you do it without knowing. This might seem a lazy kind of desire, a feeling that you don’t have to bother or some such notion, but it isn’t that; rather, it is the idea that there is something intrinsically right in you for that person, and in them for you.

These days have not been easy, and I have only barely realised that it is ok to say that things feel hard even when they look easy. The bruises that are left by words that could ordinarily be so easily kissed away, remain, accumulating in their glowing purples, yellows and greens. It is moments like these, in circumstances like these, that possess an even greater heaviness, a more profound weight, when you are reminded of the fundamental truths that are taken with you everywhere. Just go do what you do, and I’ll be around, it will be enough, and it will be ok. The proximity of the things around us will change, their movements and interactions will all be rearranged with time; but we will be linked, chained and tied, in knots which will be pulled taut sometimes and fall loose at our feet at others. So just do what you do.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

One man. In the middle of the road. Strolling into oncoming traffic. Incoming. Homecoming. Going. Gone. Two to Tango. India-Charlie-Alpha-November-Tango. Go on. One man. In the middle of the road.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

3D in 2D

Looks like a great gig, and I'm truly sorry I missed it. There's only half the song here but hopefully the album won't be long coming.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


I do keep telling myself that I should keep going, and that I'm doing so well and all. So nice that when it's impossible to listen to myself someone else will write my thoughts for me.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

More tomorrow

Will you?

When I was little(r) I thought clouds were blue and the sky was white. I suppose this was on the assumption that 'nothing' (as I considered the sky to be at that time) would be white and 'something' (which is what the clouds seemed to be) would be blue. I thought this for a very long time. At a similar sort of time also developed the notion that, as I saw it, there was no reason to believe that since the sun (or sky, or clouds for that matter) were there today they would be there again tomorrow.

I realised that I had been wrong about clouds being blue when first in the window seat of an aeroplane. Since I was then above something white (which had to be the clouds) and the 'nothing' was still above, well then the sky must be blue. I did toy with the brief idea that there had to be something higher for it to be blue, but that didn't come til later still. It seemed pretty logical to me.

The idea that the sun would be coming up tomorrow, however, never really left.

Recently I was asked what the probability of the sun coming up tomorrow was. This was asked by someone who probably knows or else could easily work it out I'm sure. Since I couldn't reason a calculation to establish an actual estimation I said 0.5. This almost certainly arises from my failure to understand the concept of probabilty but also beceause of my lack of belief in empirical data. I may be wrong, but I don't see that the sun coming up today means it will come up tomorrow.

And so to Bayesian theory. This method is probably best summed up by saying that there are not only yes/no answers, there are part truths and part untruths. Karl Popper was of the view that science should aim to falsify untruths. This is, in essence, the null hypothesis, a concept which on a day-to-day basis I find quite depressing, and yet also true. We should, I suppose, always be trying to remove all the wrong ideas we have. Bayesian theory, on the other hand, suggests that the hypotheses we have should constantly be modified by the data that we acquire. So yes, it is ok to say that there are only white swans, until that little black signet arrives on the Queen's lawn. Hilborn and Mangel gave a nice discription of this (involving squirrels!) which is talked about here.

Taking Bayesian theory, however, it would seem that, you can never have a probability of 1, and you can never be sure.

I suppose its strange to not live by empirical rules, especially being a (part-time) scientist, and especially as it is the general basis of most human reasoning. What is certain, however, is that living this way means every today you go to bed terrified and every tomorrow you wake up astonished.

Friday, January 09, 2009


I'm talking here now because I need to talk to somebody and there is no-one else. Funny how here there seems to be both the possibility of everybody and nobody. The needs arises from a general failure to understand anything that is happening in the immediate vicinity. I don't understand this,

Although I imagine it to probably be a very simple thing. I didn't understand the majority of what was said during the two hour meeting I attended this morning.

Some people drive themselves mad trying to find the single unifying pattern to their world, but it seems that for me even the things which are clear and sensible to the rest of the world are just a step too far.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Where the melody takes you

I remember very clearly my first thought about learning to play the guitar. I'm sure there are plenty of ideas about why exactly I did this. Not many will know that as well as all the non-guitar related reasons, there was the fact that for a long time I had already told people I could play the guitar. Sure I'd messed around and heard tunes in my head that I couldn't make my fingers play. I had no idea what the names of the strings were or what chords went where. I had lied about a lot of things for a very, very long time. I didn't really think that I could or would every actually play. I'd never met anyone who made me think things that I hadn't considered were possible.

I learnt quite quickly. Don't get me wrong, I'm no Sally Murray, but I learnt to play other people's songs, even if I'm told that I do so with such woefull inaccuracy that it is both an insult and a compliment.

The cello was another matter entirely. If I'm honest, I have absolutely no idea why I started learning the cello. I know I found lots of J du Pre on YouTube having had a particularly nasty argument about the letter J. I tell people that I actually wanted to play the harp, but cello was close (in my wonky mind). I'm not sure that's true. I do want to play the harp, along with making felt, speaking numerous languages, learning capoeira, doing a brilliant tango and blowing glass. I didn't know cello was a favourite instrument and I didn't know about the ex-girlfriend. The truth is that we don't know what switch inside our skull makes us do things. Why am I writing here when there are an uncountable number of other possibilities. Why do the birds sing? And why do I play the cello?

I know I'm definitely pretty keen on it though, for it's shape, it's deep humming melody (mostly when in the hands of others), and for a teacher who says 'you must see through the fear that you create'...and then prods you in the boob (I wasn't expecting it either!)

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Fearing the inevitable fall

It's that time of year again when almost everyone promises to do that little bit more, eat that little bit less, and generally be that little bit better all round; and I've certainly been doing my fair share of a little bit more.

Last week I went skiing for the first time. Now I've always been led to believe that 'there is nothing to fear but fear itself'. There may be brackets involved: 'There is nothing to fear but fear itself (and hurtling to your death)', for instance.

Certainly for me 'there is nothing to fear but being discovered to be utterly afraid and pathetic', is definitely high on the list. It's not the fact of being afraid of falling over, it's being watched as you stand at the top of a mountain utterly paralysed. It's having to say 'no I haven't read that book', 'no I don't know that answer', 'no I've never done that'.

Perhaps it is that we have nothing to fear but the holes we create in ourselves.

And in order to fill some of those holes I shall be resolved in acheiving the following things (though undoubtedly not this year):
1. Read the lady with the lapdog - Chekhov (tick)
2. Learn to ski
3. Go and see some plays/ballets/musicals