Doctor Kevin McKidd came around last night, bless him. As usual, he was muttering to his unseen camera team, you remember, the ones that are in his head only.
"The last time I was here," he said, Doctor Oddverse and Mr Twinky thought their bathroom would be finished by the end of the week. Let's see how they're doing."
The bathroom isn't finished.
"So, what happened?" he asked Mr Twinky.
Mr Twinky rolled his one remaining good eye.
"It's the carpentry," he said. "The carpenter keeps coming round, which is nice because he's got lovely handwriting, and he's very easy to look at, but so far, five weeks in to build, and all he's done is measured some stuff and forgotten to wear a belt."
Kevin turned away to where the mirror will be once we get some cupboards to attach the mirror to.
"This was supposed to be a luxury bathroom by now, and it's about 80% of the way there. All of the wetworks are done - I've showered with Mr Twinky and let me tell you, the shower is excellent. It's often the case with developments like this, that just one subcontractor can let you down, and as the build drags on and on, you find yourself becoming more and more frustrated."
It was around this point that Mr Twinky hit him.
Next week: Our friend Sarah Beans tells us where we should have moved the wall to.
That would be silly, wouldn't it?
If you eat beef, say, it doesn't make you a cow.
If you're going to be human, surely that means you have to be a cannibal.
But if the human you're eating is a vegetarian, say, then can he (or she) really be called a human, because surely he (or she) is what he (or she) eats in the first place?
Oh, my head hurts.
I mocked 4OD, oh yes I did. Why would you want to watch television on a computer when you've got a perfectly good video recorder sitting there? Eh?
And anyway, in this day and age if you miss a show it'll be repeated on the sister channel, and the sister channel "plus one" and probably back on the main channel at four in the morning with in-vision sign-language. It's almost impossible to miss a television programme these days, so why would you want to download one?
And then I missed a programme on Channel 4, and I missed the single repeat. I think it was when we were living in sheltered accommodation and all of our days merged in to one, same after same after same. One Thursday turned in to the next Thursday and we missed something. So, with trepidation, I fired up "4OD".
It worked rather nicely. It worked even better when I worked out how to connect the laptop up to the television and play the programmes back through that. Downloaded television programmes to watch on demand. And the quality is better than the broadcast version.
I've gone download mad, now. Still just with the free stuff you can get from Channel 4, but the freedom to watch what you want when you want to has led me to reduce the amount that I watch and freed up huge chunks of time. I now have nothing to do with that time, so I watch more soap operas than ever. Probably.
There's a downside. I need a remote control for the laptop, as it's permanently wired in to the television. Something not a million miles away from Apple TV, it's true, but not that because I have a pathological hatred of iTunes (evil, evil software, and I know that 4OD isn't much better, but at least it doesn't try to take over my computer whenever I sneeze). A simple pause, play, rewind, next track remote would do it.
It's the way of the future.
I feel so extraordinary
Something's got a hold on me
I get this feeling I'm in motion
A sudden sense of liberty
I don't care 'cause I'm not there
And I don't care if I'm here tomorrow
Again and again I've taken too much
Of the things that cost you too much
I used to think that the day would never come
I'd see delight in the shade of the morning sun
My morning sun is the drug that brings me near
To the childhood I lost, replaced by fear
I used to think that the day would never come
That my life would depend on the morning sun...
All of a sudden I'm feeling faintly forty.
We're sitting around at Jo and Conor's, enjoying a drunken and relaxing indoor picnic with wonderful cod fish cakes, Portuguese chorizo, and we're discussing subculture. First off, we're not terribly sure quite we mean by subculture - so that makes the conversation difficult. Secondly, all five of us are from different cultural backgrounds, which means that our definitions of culture are different, and so our ideas of subculture are different.
Also, two of us are straight, two of us are gay, and so there's yet another angle - is a drag show mainstream culture, subculture, or counter-culture? It's all so confusing.
But as I slink towards forty, the fact is that I'm definitely less open to the new things that the young people are coming up with. I eschew this new-fangled "come-round-and-trash-myspace" web site, I don't understand ringtone downloads, I've never called ITV play, and I have no idea who Fearne Cotton is, or why.
On the other hand, "chart music", once the hiding-place of yoof, is now pretty much my taste in music. It's not as good as music was in my day, of course, but what is?
"Prominent" blogger Kathy Sierra has called on the blogosphere to combat the culture of abuse online. ... What finally did it was some disturbing threats of violence and sex posted on two other blogs... blogs authored and/or owned by a group that includes prominent bloggers. ... It has led her and others to question some of the unwritten rules of blogging. Tim O'Reilly has helped draft a code of conduct. At best, it's amusing.
1. We take responsibility for our own words and for the comments we allow on our blog.
We are committed to the "Civility Enforced" standard: we will not post unacceptable content, and we'll delete comments that contain it.
We define unacceptable content as anything included or linked to that:
- is being used to abuse, harass, stalk, or threaten others
- is libelous, knowingly false, ad-hominem, or misrepresents another person,
- infringes upon a copyright or trademark
- violates an obligation of confidentiality
- violates the privacy of others
We define and determine what is "unacceptable content" on a case-by-case basis, and our definitions are not limited to this list. If we delete a comment or link, we will say so and explain why. [We reserve the right to change these standards at any time with no notice.]
Basically, it's saying that we're responsible for what's on our web site, and we can delete anything we don't like. Hurrah.
The thing is, if we're in the US or most of the civilised world we're already responsible for the content of our own web sites, whether or not we say we are. We've signed up to that in our hosting agreements, we're covered by the perfectly good laws that already stop us from infringing copyright or committing libel. And we can delete spam comments if we want, and we can delete comments we don't like if we want because it's our site and we can do what we like. Hurrah.
2. We won't say anything online that we wouldn't say in person.
Balls. Utter balls.
I spend minutes thinking about what I say here. I'm not this erudite in public, you know. I might say, controversially, that Adolf Hitler was a bit of a nasty man, but I wouldn't say it to his face. I might say it to yours.
But it's a written medium. It's not a conversation.
3. We connect privately before we respond publicly.
When we encounter conflicts and misrepresentation in the blogosphere, we make every effort to talk privately and directly to the person(s) involved--or find an intermediary who can do so--before we publish any posts or comments about the issue.
Not bad, but needs work. The fact is, though, conflict and misrepresentation is rife and some would say it's the basis of many blog entries. It's provoking, it creates debate. Stuff like that. But a private response isn't always appropriate, possible, or effective. Because blogging isn't a conversation.
4. When we believe someone is unfairly attacking another, we take action.
When someone who is publishing comments or blog postings that are offensive, we'll tell them so (privately, if possible--see above) and ask them to publicly make amends.
If those published comments could be construed as a threat, and the perpetrator doesn't withdraw them and apologize, we will cooperate with law enforcement to protect the target of the threat.
And we all live in a happy world, where bullies back down when you ask them to publicly make amends. Well, they do if it's not important or accidental, and if not - then hello escalation time!
And as for cooperation with law enforcement - again, I don't see why I need to state this? Either I will or I won't, and chances are I will, so why bother saying it? If I don't, then I'll be in trouble and that's back to my whole point - this isn't actually adding any protection to anyone, is it?
The only time I've seen a group of bloggers have any influence is when they googlebomb someone.
5. We do not allow anonymous comments.
We require commenters to supply a valid email address before they can post, though we allow commenters to identify themselves with an alias, rather than their real name.
Must we? What about people without e-mail addresses? What about the comical wheeze of making up an e-mail address that LOOKS valid but isn't? Are we going to shove people through validation routines? Are we bollocks.
6. We ignore the trolls.
We prefer not to respond to nasty comments about us or our blog, as long as they don't veer into abuse or libel. We believe that feeding the trolls only encourages them--"Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty, but the pig likes it." Ignoring public attacks is often the best way to contain them.
Sadly, it's not easy to identify a troll, and it's not easy to ignore them. Every time I've closed down my blog, it's been because I've not liked something that I've read in my comments (hey, revelation, kids!), and that's absolutely my right if I want to.
So why is this going to fail?
There are literally dozens of blogs. New ones are created every minute, and the "blogosphere" doubles in size roughly once every twenty minutes. And guess what? It's completely impossible to force everyone to sign up to a blogging code. Apart from anything else, everyone's definition of a blog is slightly different. And not everyone allows comments. Comments weren't even available back when I started blogging. That's how old I am, so I know what I am talking about, kids.
So if any blogging code is going to work, then it's going to have to be entirely voluntary and customisable. Maybe something like the Creative Commons Licence. How many people have a Creative Commons Licence, eh? And how many people realise what it actually means?
But what will it achieve? And why is it being proposed?
I mentioned that right at the beginning, didn't I? A prominent blogger had some death threats.
And here's the questions that raises.
How prominent is Kathy Sierra? As I believe I mentioned a paragraph or two ago, I've been at this for years. I'd never heard of her. Which is not to say she isn't prominent, just that the blogosphere is a varied and diverse group of people that in no way can be described as a community. We just have one thing in common. We're no more a community than people who use credit cards are a community. So while I think what's happened to her is awful, I'm really not certain it actually merits all the brouhaha and kerfuffle.
And secondly, and more importantly, how on earth is a voluntary code of conduct along these lines going to stop defamatory comments on someone else's web site?
And a reminder of this site's position on the matter
This is my site. Think of it as my living room. You're here as my guest. If I don't like you, I will throw you out. Don't shit on the sofa.
Here in foreign, you can get drink almost any time you want it. It's like a religion. The Keep Sunday Special brigade would have a field day here, pointing out how a supposedly Catholic country has allowed itself to be overrun by Philistines, and how you can barely walk along the street without getting a bottle of wine, a six pack of condoms and a gaggle of a hen night thrust in your face.
So it's something of an anomaly that you can't get a drink on Good Friday. It's a public holiday, and you can get a drink on Easter Sunday, so why not Good Friday?
After much research, it seems to be something to do with transubstantiation - but then, what in this life can we say isn't indirectly related to transubstantiation. It seems, you see, that if you drink wine on Good Friday, it will turn in to blood automatically. This would normally be a good thing, but without the intervention of a duly ordained priest, you've got no guarantee whose blood you're going to end up with. Chicken? Goat? Simon Wicks from Eastenders?
If only Kim and Aggie were dead, they would be turning in their graves.
We don't clean often. It's not that we can't clean, we just choose to get someone else to do it for us. And to be fair, we're pretty good at cleaning up after ourselves. Oh, so we do clean. Contradicting myself already, what a fantastic way to start. Never mind, let's just pretend that it didn't happen.
Where was I? Well, we moved back in to our luxurious one-bedroom heap on Thursday night, and it was clear that all was not right. Largely because the floor was still covered in dust sheets, and underneath that, a layer of dust had been trapped and preserved for all eternity. The top of the dust sheets were liberally strewn with little pointy plastic cross things, chunks of plaster and stanley-knife blades, all ready for unwary feet to trample on. I do love the smell of Accident and Emergency. We wore shoes all night, just in case.
The next sign that all was not well was that they were still in the architect-designed bathroom at nine on the Friday night. Not bad going for a job that they should have finished on the Tuesday. We escorted them from the premises, found a couple of sofas, and drank wine until we could face the haven of our bedroom, littered as it was with refugee furniture and the contents of our bathroom in a zillion individual plastic baggies.
And so, on Saturday morning, we cleaned. Everything. We hoovered, dusted, polished, mopped and buffed. I cleaned the communal areas of the apartment block where our Lithuanian friends had trampled plaster-dust through. I plumbed in a washing machine. We disassembled seven bookcases and loaded them on to a trailer. We had a sit down and a cup of tea. We moved furniture around, polished tins, hoovered the sofas. And at the end of it - although the work is certainly not finished yet - the place feels like our home again. Which is nice.
I must admit, I was deeply disappointed by the Lithuanian workmen. I've seen documentary footage of Lithuanian workmen, and in it they are all corn fed twenty-somethings, who like nothing better at the end of a hard day labouring in the fields than to shower together and entertain each other in front of a camera. At least I think it was a documentary, it was on late at night on one of the telly channels that's usually encrypted. You wouldn't put these guys in front of a camera for fear of breaking the lens. Although it did mean I could trust Mr Twinky to be on site with them during the building work.
What have I learned from this experience? I've learned that despite rumours to the contrary, any numpty can clean and that doing it for a lengthy period of time can be almost meditative. I've learned that although rubbing your microwave with a lemon may well work, it's much easier to use Mr Muscle. I've learned that the local shop sells some really rubbish mops. I've learned that if you leave a fifteen-foot long piece of pipe in a skip outside our flat it will be gone in sixty seconds.
How clean is our flat? It'll do until Tuesday when the real cleaner comes.