Saturday, July 23, 2005

Topsy turvy

I'm at my parents' house in East Anglia and this means delicious, homecooked food. On the menu this weekend: aubergines, spinach and sweet potatoes cooked with spicy lentil nuggets; curried cauliflower; and spiced eggs (eggs are hard-boiled, then fried whole in turmeric, and cooked with a spicy sauce; they are more yummy than they sound, honest).

A visit to my parents' home in the suburbs also means lazy days reading in their full-bloom garden (I've just started a volume of Maupin's hilarious Tales Of The City), trips to DIY stores (this weekend it's assembling their new lawnmower), and movies on Sky or on the video (tonight it's romantic drama 84 Charing Cross Road with Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins; though I've really got the urge to watch The Lost Boys, which I've found in a cupboard of my old VHS videos in my parents' study).

A different type and pace of life for me.

A few seats ahead of me on the train to Norwich yesterday evening, three generations of a family (from grandparents to grandson) were discussing the plot developments of the latest Harry Potter saga. I thought how weirded-out I would have felt if, as a child, my parents or any other "old" and "very old" person had wanted to discuss The Secret Seven or The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe with me. I would have been mortified (for them as well as for me).

Across the gangway, a man in his twenties was also immersed in Harry Potter. An older man, a stranger I presume, tapping away on his laptop next to him, noticed the book and asked what he thought of it. The younger man told him and then asked, "Have you read it?", which received the reply, "No, but my 8-year-old daughter read it in two days flat. We couldn't get her to go outside and play." The young man seemed embarrassed, not -- as he should have been -- by the fact that he was reading the same book as an 8-year-old, but by the fact that he had not been able to complete the book in two days because he had been busy with work.

And I was reminded of our walk through Hyde Park last weekend: a teenage boy and girl were sitting on a park bench. The girl was trying to kiss him. The boy, who should have been pumped full to bursting with raging testosterone, was fending her off as he tried to read... yes, you've guessed it.

A strange, mixed up, topsy-turvy world.

Speaking of which...

In the aftermath of the London bombings, the media is lauding the courageous, pull-together, plucky "Blitz spirit" of Londoners and yet many people who lived through the London Blitz remember riots outside private shelters that excluded the working classes; homes and shops getting burgled and looted as they lay vacant; people getting killed because they were cowering inside inadequate, makeshift shelters that did not protect them from the bombs. Londoners pulling together in their time of need, indeed.

The police have released CCTV footage of four men wanted in connection with the most recent bombing attempts. They are four different shades of heavily-pixelated brown. In London. Well, they should be easy to find then.

Weekend links:

+ Tipping Point - the net version. Paraphrasing the main ideas in Malcolm Gladwell's book.

+ First chapters. Complete first chapters of many of the books reviewed in the New York Times.

+ Underground typography. Typography used on the Paris, London and NYC subways.

+ My blog, my outboard brain. "Being deprived of my blog right now would be akin to suffering extensive brain-damage. Huge swaths of acquired knowledge would simply vanish. Just as my TiVo frees me from having to watch boring television by watching it for me, my blog frees me up from having to remember the minutae of my life, storing it for me in handy and contextual form."

+ Who saved Birhan Woldu's life? The exploitation of Birhan Woldu -- Live Aid and Live8 famine poster child.

+ Fleshbot's sexy podcasts. A directory. Mmm, lube wrestling and lesbian soup anyone?

+ Blogjam eats at Heston Blumenthal's The Fat Duck. Amongst other things, he eats sardine on toast sorbet, snail porridge, salmon poached with liquorice, white chocolate with caviar, leather chocolate, and mango and Douglas Fir puree. His bill comes to £467.16p.

+ The Nanny Diaries. "Our former nanny, a 26-year-old former teacher with excellent references, liked to touch her breasts while reading The New Yorker and often woke her lovers in the night by biting them. She took sleeping pills, joked about offbeat erotic fantasies involving Tucker Carlson and determined she'd had more female sexual partners than her boyfriend. How do I know these things? I read her blog." Whoops. And here is the blog itself.

All Planethalder's links

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