At the beginning of the week, I had the beginning of a cold. It didn't get very far, and probably peaked around the time I was in the pub on Tuesday, drinking vodka because I couldn't face anything with a greater volume of liquid than that.
As the week progresses, I'm feeling better and better, which is great. But largely due to the crapness of the last couple of days, I've still got very little that I feel like blogging about.
Which is odd.
Last Thursday, my company (or at least the office I work in) announced a major restructure, which will, in practice, involve me leaving. But it's not quite that straightforward.
I work for company A, which is a management services company supplying services for company B, which has no employees at all. Both are subsidiaries of company C. Clear so far?
From Monday of next week, company A is being sold to company D. A small group of employees, myself included, will be leaving company A at that point and will be transferred to company B, which will still be a subsidiary of company C. Company A will still supply services to company B. It's all very clear, really.
In the mean time, I'm getting all sorts of e-mail about how exciting it is going to be to work for company D, even though I won't be. Interesting times.
Unfortunately, out of a desire to keep my blog and my work life fairly well segregated, I can't go in to much more detail than this.
I'm aware that the quality of the content here has slipped recently. I've got things to write about, but I guess I don't necessarily feel like writing them.
For example, for about ten minutes this morning I was going to write about the great dream that I had last night, except it was very morbid at the same time as it was life-affirming, in a very Louis-de-Bernieres-back-when-he-was-great way, so instead I'm going to write about the most exciting thing I did last weekend.
I rearranged a book case.
Well, three of them. I had all the books out, I moved them around, I moved the shelves around, and I'm left with a much better organised bookcase.
Very boring, I know.
But I realised as I did it that there were books in there that I have had for over a decade without even opening beyond the first time that I read them. Books like Lucius Shepard's Life During Wartime, which I must have read when I was about 19. I thought it was flawed, sure, but I also thought that its strengths made up for its flaws. I guess it would be classified as Cyberpunk, with some large chunks of magical realism thrown in, largely helped by its South American setting. It's the sort of book that I recommended to people at the time, and bought for a few people as a gift.
However, it's a book that I'm not quite ready to pick up again, not quite ready to re-read. Frustrating.
I am still here. I haven't been overcome by a sudden ennui on reaching the grand young age of 35, and nor have I become tired and emotional after a night on the town, although I did find myself dancing to They Might Be Giants in my local in Wexford Street on Friday Night, but that's another story.
I'm at home, waiting for the gas man. I've been waiting since Friday lunch time. I'm not entirely happy about this, as I am missing work, which I can't really afford to do, so I will probably end up working late. All not good.
Highlights of being 34:
On a places I went to, things I did kind of scale - not many. Yes, there was Barcelona, but that was back in May and feels like a distant, but happy, memory. I've pretty much stopped travelling for work, so I've not had much of an opportunity for travel.
Also, not much on the cultural scale. No great progress with writing anything. I haven't read anything that completely blew me away. Indeed, quite the reverse. Thirty-four was the age that I was when I saw Punch Drunk Love and read London Fields. Time spent, and unrecoverable.
Work's shite. There's a huge degree of uncertainty around at the moment, and we're rushing through a huge number of jobs in an effort to get them out of the way while we still can, and that would be stressful if I did the stress thing.
But I don't do the stress thing. I've been close, recently, but I've pulled back. I've got a job that I'm good at, a comfortable roof over my head, a wonderful partner. I've got my health, I'm sane, and we've got a nice new plasma telly that means that we can no longer watch one channel while taping another. I find small pleasures everywhere, small inspirations everywhere. I occasionally commit random acts of kindness. I have more than my fair share of love.
My thirty-fifth year may not have been a year of change in the way that my twenty-ninth, thirtieth and thirty-first were, or a year of experience in the way that my thirty-third was, but I can say with confidence that for me, it was a good year.
And that's more than enough.
Why don't Microsoft make old versions of their operating systems available through a discount brand?
Slap the last version of Minellium Edition on a CD, cover it with disclaimers that it's not supported and that people need to upgrade to XPloitation if they want recent stuff, charge ten quid for it. Or give it away free with magazines.
It's currently a product that's not generating revenue for them, this way they'd make a few bob on it, and they'd reduce the number of users out there using really, really old operating systems.
I like running Windows 3.1. It goes fast.
But you can bet Microsoft have workshopped this idea to conclusion already.
Today, I've been somewhat unsettled by the news that someone I only ever met once has drowned while on holiday in Australia, trying to save the life of another tourist.
I never really knew him, although I suspect that my sister may have done. We had mutual friends, though, and during a large chunk of my life between the ages of five and fifteen, I was good friends with his brother. Our lives never really crossed, but nonetheless, I knew a lot about him, and knew enough to like him.
But I didn't know him. So I'm not feeling any personal loss. I'm just feeling numbness, and grief, and perhaps my own mortality.
People have the strangest attractions to the strangest body parts. I'm not going to list all of them, tempted though I am to bandy around words like nipple, armpit, and perineum. I have to say that the two oddest ones for me are large upper arms and large forearms.
Large upper arms are often seen in really tight-armed tee shirts. They just look silly. There's a particular trend at the moment for tee shirts to be cut really tight in the arm so that even those with average-sized upper arms look like they are bursting out of them, so great is their upper arm strength. Whatever. They're bloody uncomfortable and they look stupid.
The only time it's okay to have large upper arms is when they're properly in proportion with the rest of you.
Large forearms just look completely silly, unless you're a cartoon sailor.
The days of implants and electrodes seem to be firmly in the past, but the days of small mindedness and naivety are still with us. As is often the case, a member of the clergy is suggesting that it is possible to 'cure' homosexuality through psychiatry. It beats forcing them to throw up and lie in their own vomit for 72 hours.
I often wonder about the success rate of converting homosexuals to heterosexuality. I am sceptical about the success. I can believe that there are people who choose to live in denial, and who welcome support for that. I believe that there are people who cannot square off their beliefs about life with their knowledge about themselves, and while I feel sorry for them, I can't really understand them.
I think my main worry is for those heterosexuals - primarily clergy and Christians - who are so insecure about their own sexuality that they believe that it's possible to change it. After all, surely if it is possible for a homosexual to be "cured", it's possible for them to become "infected"?
It's an odd fear. I'm aware of the image of a gay man as predatory, but the idea of actually "recruiting" straight men and converting them seems very odd and largely pointless when there's an ample supply of gay men already.
I'm aware that it's easy for me to say that, as I'm in no doubt about my sexuality. But I was very confused for a long time and it's perceptions like this that retarded my self-acceptance and caused me a lot of unhappiness at the time.
It's almost enough to send me out recruitin'.
The mainstream belief is currently that sexual orientation is hardwired from birth. The Prince of Wales is neither gay nor bisexual.
Dark mornings are one of the things I hate most. It's awful to get up in the morning, get showered, dressed, and leave for work, all in the dark, or at best to be leaving as the sun rises.
But I missed dark mornings when I lived in a more tropical country. I missed the thrill of being up and about and active before the day had fully begun, the feeling that somehow days were longer because I could enjoy those secret times before dawn.
Gary, the caretaker and artist, was literally run off his feet. Hardly had he welcomed one of Dublin's Q-List glitterati in to the front parlour of 15 Usher's Island, told them where the wine was and exchanged a snippet of small talk about the Calatrava bridge, than the burly builders at the door doffed their hard-hats once more, and he had to duck back along the burnt and scarred hallway to greet another guest. It was well for him that he did not have to attend to the serving of the wine also. But this had been thought of, and the wine was in the shell of a room that used to be a dining room. Two young men in waistcoats were there, quiet and polite, following guests around to the head of the stairs and back again, ensuring that all of the guests had a sufficiency of wine.
It was a great affair, the inaugural art show at the house described in Joyce's "The Dead". Everybody who was virtually anybody came to it, the artists friends and neighbours, those involved in the restoration of the house, and even members of the cast and crew of the John Huston movie from 1986. And although there was a real danger of it falling flat, it went off in splendid style. We were there partly as friends of the artist, but also keen to see the dark, gaunt house on Usher's Island, the upper part of which was once rented from "Mr Fulham", the corn-factor on the ground floor. That was a good hundred years ago if it was a day. Still being renovated after years of neglect and fire, the upper storeys still damaged and unsafe, the old kitchen in the basement doubling as a makeshift bathroom, lit by candles and virtually unplumbed, the walls and floorboards telling stories of time and neglect, of history and decay.
Applause was followed by speeches. A short speech from the owner of the house. A longer one from Rachael Dowling, who had once performed as Lily, the Caretaker's daughter. Her hands shook as she spoke, almost as though she were unused to public speaking. Beside us, her child cried. She then opened her copy of Dubliners and glanced at the first page with which she would close her speech. She was undecided about the fourth paragraph, for she feared they would be above the heads of her drunken hearers. Some quotation that they would recognise from Bono or from Westlife would be better. The indelicate clacking of the men's heels and the shuffling of their soles reminded her that their grade of culture differed from hers. She would only make herself ridiculous by quoting the fourth paragraph to them, which she herself could not understand. They would think that she was simply reading, unprepared, from a book. But she had not taken up a wrong tone. Her whole speech was a success from first to last, an appropriate effort.
And the night continued, and minor celebrities and film crew came and went, some to see the house, some to see the art, and some, simply, to be seen. We sat on the bridge and watched the river flowing beneath us, acutely aware of our place in history.
She lives upstairs, but not directly upstairs. So the water which has flooded through her ceiling, sending a large quantity of plasterboard falling to the floor won't drip down to us. Nonetheless, I feel horribly sorry for her, and pwerless to help.
Because the building has a management company responsible for the communal areas, and the burst pipes are in communal areas, the management company have been involved. But they've not been taking it terribly seriously. Until now, when they're paying for the upstairs woman to move in to a hotel. But if they'd taken it seriously when the leak started three weeks ago, the ceiling wouldn't have fallen down. And if they'd taken it seriously on Monday, after the ceiling had fallen down, then the flat wouldn't have been flooded.
Since Sunday, this whole affair has been a matter of people behaving negligently, our neighbour being frankly pretty pragmatic, but realising that in order to get anything done she needed to be hysterical at people. We're trying to keep her calm and advising her on who she should threaten to sue next.
Today, the website woman took me aside and asked me if she'd done something to offend me. She hadn't, but I've been horrendously busy and so on, so I haven't said hello, or done much small talk making, and as we don't work on any of the same projects I don't really have any reason to talk to her.
I wasn't deliberately avoiding her, but now she's made me feel like I have, and so I now feel incredibly low as a result of doing nothing. The thing is, that now that she has done something that - while it hasn't offended me - has upset me, I have an urge to confront her. Or avoid her. And I can't do either.
I can feel her behind me as I walk along the street. Pushy woman. She wants to be ahead of me, but she can't get past me, because there isn't a big enough gap in the stream of people coming towards me for her to get through. So she's hanging close to my left shoulder, ready to veer out, and round. If I were to stop suddenly she would walk straight in to me.
So I don't stop suddenly. I speed up. She speeds up too. She's annoying me now, persistently dogging my shoulder. I start edging left, to block her. She holds her position at my shoulder. I never look round. And then she sees her opportunity, darts out, runs straight in to a man who has just done the same thing, but coming in the other direction.
I stride on, leaving them to their apologies.
Watched 'Ring' this weekend. The original Japanese version, complete with the wooden acting and the creepy kid. A very mixed bag - good in some ways, less good in others, and probably undeserving of the plaudits heaped upon it.
So let's start with the disappointing bits.
It wasn't a horror movie. Now I realise that I'm saying this from a cultural background where horror movies involve running away from masked supernatural villains, as the blood drips down the walls. None of that from this movie. Nothing horrific at all. Nothing to give you nightmares.
The acting wasn't great, especially from the main protagonist, who I spent most of the film wanting to slap. Or wanting someone to slap her. But nobody did.
The script was a bit piecemeal, with characters being introduced first, and explained later. An example of this would be pretty much everything to do with the protagonist's ex-husband. He arrived, he acted like an ex-husband, but for all we knew he could have been her therapist.
On to the good. What is it if it's not horror? It's a supernatural suspense thriller, and a damn good one at that. There is a genuine feeling throughout that anything could happen, and when it does, it doesn't disappoint. The back story is woven in to the main story effectively, so that it feels like it makes sense (even though it is all clearly nonsense), and apart from a few lines here and there, it's pretty consistent.
The cinematography is great. There is a consistent feel throughout, that reminded me of 1970s thrillers.
Not what I was expecting, but I enjoyed it all the more for that.