Thursday, 17 December 2009

Winter scene

I live in a particularly desirable part of a picture-postcard town. Well, I say desirable; it's certainly desired, although it looks like a cheap slum and is an expensive slum. It's next to a park and river and nature reserve, all adorable. There's a car park too, for the convenience of all. Including the doggers. When I take the pug for her late-night constitutional there has usually been a car, driving slowly around, or parked and signalling in various ways with its lights. (OK, maybe I'm wrong, but then explain the empty Viagra packets scattered around in the morning.)

Except that recently the police have cleared out the doggers and replaced them with drug dealers. Please officer, can we have our doggers back?

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Setting sun

There is a conference this week in Tokyo for the 60th birthday of someone who is both a friend (older!) and distinguished; it's a pleasure and an honour to be here. Not all of the organizers are totally efficient, so I've been staying in a couple of different places, including Shibuya. This is full of love hotels and fashionably dressed teenagers, though I don't know who the love hotels are full of. Not me anyway.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

I tre nani

Kinosaki is famous for its hot springs. The food here is excellent, the local speciality being crab. Otoh you will also be given eggs cooked in the springs; they prove that water at 80 degrees is insufficient to boil an egg. Avoid. A further "plus" is being accommodated in traditional Japanese inns, which includes the traditional cramming of 3 adults into a room fit for one. A crone comes in the evening to arrange the mattresses in an orderly row, like something out of an economy version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. However, there is no Snow White. I've discussed this with the other dwarves and we've agreed to advertise the position. Ladies, feel free to apply. And when I say position I mean positions of course, there's no need to stop at one. Why not seven? "But 3 into 7 doesn't go" you reply.

Maybe, but we'll have fun trying.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Mellow fruitfulness

More interesting things happen to me in, or in relation to, Bristol than I have any right to expect. On Wednesday I met Lulu Labonne for lunch (very good smoked salmon, very, er, experimental fruit salad, my responsibility). In the East Village she would be unremarked, in Bristol her black on black was deeply ironic, as is she. Her shopping included a green anti-personnel device that she claimed was a vegetable, but there are more edible-looking things in the Horrible Mediaeval Weapons section at the V&A.

The next evening Mrs Pouncer ("Clarissa darling") met me in the Isambard, the Paddington station pub. Frankly, the place wasn't good enough.

"Vodka and vermouth please".

"Sorry, we don't do mixed drinks".

"But this is a pub isn't it?"

"Yes, but we don't do mixed drinks, they're separate franchises."

Trust me, nothing on this blog is invented, it's all true. (Well, not quite, I invented Carla Bruni, but Sarkozy is real, he's a horrible little psychopath.)

So we moved on to dinner.

"It's got to be kosher."

"OK, there's a Chinese restaurant, Chinese food is kosher isn't it?"

I've long chosen to believe this, maybe I got it from Calvin Trillin, and have taught it to my daughter. Even sweet barbecued pork buns are kosher in a Chinese restaurant, there's a Talmudic dispensation or something.

"For god's sake Inky, they used rectified lard."

So we went Indian ("they're kosher").

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Classical education

In a recent New York Review of Books (no link, it's a paysite) Glen Bowersock reviews two books on classical Greek sex between men and boys. He starts by explaining the words erastes as lover and eromenos as beloved. These are the usual euphemisms, but eros connotes physical love, i.e. sex. So in fact erastes = fucker and eromenos = (male) fucked, but the NYRB doesn't like the f-word. Most of the article is taken up with a detailed discussion of the evidence for exactly what happened (intercrural rather than anal apparently, and it goes on from there). Thank you Professor, it's your job to know this sort of thing. I must admit, I like grown women but this stuff functioned well as a form of higher porn. Oh, and the Romans were no better than the Greeks; google coitum plenum et optabilem to see what I mean.

So why on earth did Thomas Arnold choose classical Greek and Latin as the basis of an English boys' boarding school education? Lytton Strachey is hilarious on this subject in his Eminent Victorians, explaining that classics was what Arnold knew, so he would, wouldn't he? But Strachey was himself as gay as a Bristol pub, so why didn't he comment on the fact of Arnold institutionalizing a system where boys, of the same age as the eromenoi, were closeted, as it were, with teachers of the same age as the erastes? It is surprising that responsibility for a correct analysis should be left to this blog, but Precision Handling does not shirk its obligations.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Lost weekend

The poker club meets in the back room of a pub 1/2 hr away. Here's Carlos; he doesn't have a heart of gold, but I'm solid with him because I found him an expert witness (a maxillary surgeon) for his assault case. The question is whether the other guy's smashed face is due to encountering a wall or Carlos. "It's OK Inkspot, the police are probably going to drop the case because the other bloke has a terrible record, but thanks anyway. Really, thanks a lot." It cost me a 5 minute phone call to a surgical friend, but the British class system is as rigid as ever and Carlos has the wrong contacts. Except for me.

I played until too late, so Saturday was a bit of a write-off, I was too tired to be a useful family member and the morning was a bit tense. Sunday we had lunch with friends, he's gentle, she's beautiful. They have a lake in the grounds, so after lunch ("That lamb was delicious, you could really taste the innocence", stolen from Arlington Hynes at bogol, thank you Arlington, it was a great success) we went swimming. Despite the Indian summer it was too cold to stay in long, and the children were too intelligent to go in at all. Dinner was chips from the Turkish chip van; you don't get that in the country.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Me me me

Some time ago Gadjo was kind enough to tag me; it's taken this long to think of anything to say.

1. Telling people that I'm a mathematician stops most conversations. It's easy to change the subject: "That's a fabulous bracelet, it looks like something worn by a warrior princess". Some women like being compared to warrior princesses, but real warrior princesses tend to think I'm a drip.

2. One of my ambitions is to introduce my brother (divorced, single, straight, glamorous, good-looking) to warrior princesses, such as Miss Whiplash and Nursemyra. He spends his time going to horrible places full of angry people (Iraq, Kosovo, Darfur, Burundi, ...) and trying to fix their lives. Ladies, form a disorderly queue please.

3. OK, settle down, more math now. It was chemistry that got me into science in the first place; my dad gave me a chemistry set when I was 8 or 9 and it was the best present ever. The experience of doing math is like that of doing chemistry; things (chemicals or ideas) react and transform, creating new colours and smells in ways that are at first unexpected, then explicable. Without the unexpectedness it would be dull, without the explanation stupid. And of course it brings pleasure, at its best like a rocket shooting up your spine and exploding in your brain.

4. When I had just finished my PhD I first met my US contemporaries at a conference and was blown away by finding out how much more they knew than I did. That was the single biggest intellectual event of my life till now, because of the way it overturned my view of what it means to be a mathematician and taught me that knowledge, deep and broad, and creativity are inseparable.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Eat your heart out Jacques Cousteau

Last night I went swimming with whales. As one went by I squirted mustard in its ear. That made the whale thrash around a whole lot and I woke up at 4-30 in a Bristol hotel room.

Bastard whale, now I'm going to be useless at work today.

Oh btw Freudians, it was mustard, it was yellow.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Exotic job

"Dad, why don't you have an exotic job?"


"Well, I'm a mathematician, that's pretty exotic compared to most people. But what do you mean by exotic job?"

"Oh, it's where you wear a suit and take the train really early and work in a bank and come back really late [and bring back shedloads of money], that's an exotic job. Like my friends' dads have."

Damned private school.

"Look, if it weren't for mathematics those guys wouldn't be making any money. And it's really beautiful, plus it underlies everything else in this world, from electronics to our understanding of the spread of disease. You wouldn't be texting your friends without that. And you can't even tie your shoelaces without understanding math. [Memo to self: verify this last one, it's a bit dodgy.] And anyway you should always be proud of your own family and stick up for them."

There might have been some finger-wagging during this.

"Yes daddy yes daddy."

A few weeks later the school play approaches.

"Look darling, I don't want to embarrass you at the school play, so would you like me to wear a suit?"

I do actually have one, I got married in it. I've a horrible fear it might have shrunk meanwhile.

"Oh no dad, don't bother, everyone knows you haven't got an exotic job."

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Random acts of genius

We're having the Vegetarians over for dinner tonight. What do you give people who won't eat most of the things you like yourselves? I know, fruit salad. Dead easy, buy fruit (nice fruit), chop it up, add some more juice if necessary. And, most important of course, good-quality liquor. I was reaching for the rum bottle (Lamb's Navy, none of that pointless white stuff) when insight hit.

A couple of years ago I made sloe gin. It was, and is, undrinkable, with a pH of about 1, so that after stripping the enamel from your teeth it burns a hole in your stomach. But it is god's gift to a fruit salad. More precisely, half a bottle of it is. My gift, rather, because I am fucking brilliant.

Monday, 17 August 2009


There is the most beautiful spider's web that I've ever seen in the kitchen this morning. It is a perfect taut disc, about 18" across, with a spider smaller than my little fingernail at the centre. It's anchored, almost invisibly despite the sunlight, at various spots up to 4 feet away. There should be flies hovering around a piece of over-ripe fruit (not unknown at Castle Inkspot) as prey. It's a shame that I can't share this with my family, but Mme and Mlle Inkspot both have a horror, atavistic and unfaked, of spiders and their webs. I spend a certain amount of time being summoned to deal with them, and a corresponding amount of time issuing loud, cheerful and authoritative pronouncements that the spider has been cleared away, despite my not having been able to find the thing.

Last night we were outside in our Israeli neighbour's garden. I was cold, so borrowed his coat. Black cashmere, made in Poland, designed by Hugo Boss, who also designed the Gestapo uniforms.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

A class act

The Henry Gates/policeman incident has been forgotten by now, so it's time to post about it. The US press covered it purely in terms of racism, of course, but forget that, it's about class. In those terms you have a Harvard professor, who from the age of 18 has been one of the most privileged people in the world (Yale, Cambridge, Harvard) confronting a working-class cop. The line "Do you know who I am?" and the insistence on producing a Harvard ID (which indicates rank in the university) as opposed to a Mass driver's license (anyone can have one of those) can only be understood as "Fuck you, I'm famous and you're a prole" followed by "Fuck you, this prole is taking you in." Mind you, I'm not criticizing Harvard, this is what Harvard is for and what the world expects of it.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Turning the pike

Driving from the Lincoln Tunnel to Princeton in the early morning leaves the sun rising, red and raw and sore, in your rear-view mirror. Newark airport is still closed, so the first noticeable feature is the sweet smell of long-chain hydrocarbons given off by the oil refinery at Elizabeth. At night this is a beautiful sight; it's illuminated in a way and to an extent that it would look ridiculous as a fairy castle, but it is redeemed by its functionality. The road at this point, the New Jersey Turnpike, is well maintained, not the pot-holed horror that represents the average US highway such as Route 1, which I take for the second half of the trip. To know this, imagine the M1 full of holes with the number of lanes varying randomly from 2 to 4 and with traffic lights every 3/4 mile. And with the drivers obeying the highway code of their planet of origin.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

State of mind

New Jersey is a bit of a flop really, next to New York but not New York, full of swamps (state bird: the mosquito), smelly industry (my father-in-law) and questionable businessmen (don't ask my father-in-law any questions). All in all, not really a tourist destination. Especially in July, when you can leave an air-conditioned building at noon and have the experience, as disgusting as it is alarming, of water vapour condensing on your body. So we're not here as tourists, obviously. Mlle Inkspot comes to go crazy in shopping malls, Mme I to remind herself that 3,500 miles is not necessarily too far from her parents and I to pursue Precision Handling's interests in Princeton, a town whose smugness is less noticeable only than its dullness.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Go where?

Paddington is an exquisite terminus, maybe even sumptuous. However, the people running it have the mean habit of refusing to reveal where their trains are leaving from until 5 minutes before departure. At the best of times this precipitates a rush among the would-be passengers that is unworthy of the surroundings. Moreover, I found a new twist to this on Wednesday. If, as I did, you misread the departure board (for the 9-30 to Bristol Temple Meads, if that adds to the piquancy) you find that there is neither means nor time to retrieve the situation: in the wrong part of the station none of the information you need is displayed, and none of the staff know anything either. Of course, this didn't matter in the slightest; it was only a train, and I took the next one.
But when I was a boy you could expect station staff to know about their trains, and staff in a bookshop to know about their stock, whereas now any such hope is regarded as eccentric, or even unreasonable. It wasn't as if I wanted detailed recommendations ("The 12-30 is an excellent train, sir, you won't go wrong with that. And the claret in the dining car is really most drinkable, but the zinfandel is suspect, I don't think it's been cellared properly"), but they knew nothing. Not their fault, clearly their management intends them to know nothing, but who gains by this?

Friday, 19 June 2009

Return of the native

Last week I had a free day in Kyoto (fabulous place, deserves better than this blog, too hot for tourism) and another in Sapporo (fabulous weather, too dull for tourism). Present-buying was a success: Mitsouko for Mme Inkspot, some junior perfume with an embarrassing name for Mlle I. And the trip back was as unghastly as possible, despite the check-in staff in Sapporo going to a great deal of courteous trouble in an attempt to send me to London and my bag to Paris. [Warning: plug follows.] Air France was a pleasure, with free champagne even in cattle class and some movies well worth watching, despite the tiny screen. I'd thought for ages that I'd seen La Dolce Vita, but that was the sort of self-delusion that leads Jeffrey Archer to believe that he really has an Oxford degree. After all, every gentleman has seen it, and I'm a gentleman, so I've seen it, even though I can't remember exactly when. But it's fabulous, of course, with loads of gorgeous actresses whom I had trouble distinguishing, I must admit. OK, Anita Ekberg is blonde, but she starts off not speaking Italian, and then she does speak it, so whoa, is this the same person? Maybe I need new spectacles.

Actually I'm too harsh on Sapporo. I had some outstanding food there, including sea-urchin (uni), which I like a lot even though it doesn't look like anything you'd want to eat. Well, to be frank, it looks like something you'd definitely not want to eat, so the first time is a bit of a trial. But subsequent times are a joy. It's a bit expensive, but the Japanese, although they'll only pay (me) for an economy airfare, are otherwise generous with expenses, with no nonsense about receipts. Instead, you're met on day one with a thick wedge of high-denomination banknotes, so there's plenty left over for the acquisition of a gentleman's requisites.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Those things

The role of chairman at a conference is simple: at the start of a lecture,  announce the name of the speaker [you should try to get this right] and the title of their talk [ditto], and at the end, say "Let us thank the speaker." Except that this time I did it, I committed the spoonerism that every chairman dreads. 

Fortunately the theaker on this occasion had a sense of humour.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Up up and away

The Docklands Light Railway is an easy way of getting to London City Airport, according to the airport's website and and Transport for London's website. Easy peasy, no hint of engineering works anywhere. So I get off the tube at Bank (the Circle line having already let me down) to find the relevant bit of the DLR apparently closed, for engineering, and an incomprehensible bit of paper advertising a replacement bus service. Well, we all know what those replacements buses are like, you're better off walking. So I took a cab. Except I didn't; at 8 am on a Saturday the City of London is deserted, those bankers don't get out of bed for less than a million, and not at all on weekends. After 20 minutes of waiting and wandering I get one to stop: "Sorry mate [mate? what happened to guv? was I just demoted?] I can't get you there, all the roads are closed, I've just come from the East and I've seen it." Fuck fuck and double-fuck, I've got a plane to catch and a connexion to make in Schiphol.

How can they close off an airport and not tell anyone? Has some arse, offended by some slight to religion or ancestors, set off a bomb again? So back into the tube and ask someone in a relevant uniform if I really can't get there. "Oh, take the tube to Plaistow, there are buses running from there". Now this is so clearly insane (Plaistow??) that not even I believe it, so I get off 2 stops later, go to a DLR station and see an actual train driver, the first person to say something coherent and true: "I can take you to Canary Wharf, and there are buses from there." It's my only chance at this point, so I go for it. And at Canary Wharf bugger the buses, there is a cab driver who gets me to the airport in time. Whoof.

OK, rant over, only not quite. Look, I understand that engineering has to happen, but why is every piece of information about it either concealed or invented? If I were some wretched Japanese visitor faced with this depravity I'd never want to return. Whose fault is it? Isn't that pointless buffoon BloJo in charge of TfL, so it's him, isn't it? How can I, in my turn, reduce him to weeping frustration? Can I hire a skilled rentboy to spend the weekend bringing him nearly, but not quite, off? No, that would be too much like Eton. Suggestions please.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Spirit of ecstasy

The assiduous reader of this blog will recall my account of an attempt to win a prize fellowship at All Souls, the organ through which Oxford University osculates the establishment's fundament. A couple of days ago I found in my spam folder, as will have most of you, an advertisement for Senior Research Fellowships at this same club. Well, it calls itself a college, but it's really a club for the smoothest, smuggest and most complacent bunch of barristers you'll ever find, with a few scholars and intellectuals allowed to tag along. I had to change my underwear, I got so excited: £88K a year, until the age of 67, for "pursuing a programme of research". That's it, no other obligation whatsoever. We all know that means "doing what you like"; even if, like me, you have a serious side, it is the sweetest deal imaginable, so I'm applying, definitely, and I suggest you do the same. Here's the url:

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Performing zeal

I'd planned this evening to watch Performance (James Fox to Mick Jagger: "You'll look funny when you're 50") in the company of a bottle of Burgundy. But "Dad, dad, can I make you a cocktail!" Don't complain, the alternative is being lectured on the environment by a 14 year-old who takes half-hour showers. However, except for Alexanders, I loathe cocktails, and there was neither brandy nor cream in the house. So we compromised on pastis, which I do like, provided I'm not expected to drink 6 oz of it. Now I'm off to watch Performance without the Burgundy; it'll be better that way, trust me.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Three of a kind

So far this week I've proved a fucking good theorem (it's what I'm paid for, don't bother congratulating me), I've had an outstanding night at coastal poker and Mrs Pouncer has, graciously, acknowledged the accuracy of my insight into her dress supplier.  Weeks don't come much better, short of falling in requited love. The high of each will last for days (weeks for the theorem, sometimes it's months).

Possibly the poker bears further comment. I was in the zone, where you know what's going right and what's going wrong, where things happen without your pushing, where you feel afterwards that you could have done even better if you'd made just a slightly bigger effort, where you know when to be hard and when to be soft. And my opponents were forming a disorderly queue in their enthusiasm to give me all their money; I had them mesmerized. If this sounds smug then I've failed to make my point, which is that these times don't happen often, but they must be recognized and seized when they do.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Global warning

Today's NY Times has an article describing disintegration of the Antarctic ice shelf. Which reminds me: I spent Friday night playing in a poker tournament in a social club near the coast. The legal situation is hazy, meaning that either we're a bunch of respectable gentlemen doing nobody any harm and the police aren't bothered, or we're a bunch of crims doing nobody else any harm and the police are glad we're not out and about doing crimmy things to others.  I've no idea what anybody does for a living; it might be above board. Anyway, work is only referred to as something that's difficult to do when you've been up all night. 

I'm older than most of the players; young people are impatient, and think the game is all about winning. That's how it should be; a 20-year-old acting like a 40-year-old is a grim sight. But they are wrong; to get into the prize money you should aim to lose more slowly. As with the coastline: what is managed decline if not losing more slowly? Too bad there's no prize.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Empire of the senseless

The metric system is a great invention; not because it makes precise measurement possible (it doesn't, it's the equipment that matters, not the units) but because it makes precise communication of that measurement so easy. However, some of its basic units are not adapted to everyday life.

"Bonjour madame, 363 grammes de ce fromage-la, s'il vous plait."

 An elementary request; if I wanted 364 grammes, or 362, I'd ask for 364 grammes, or 362.

"Quoi, pile?" [Luckily I knew that "pile" here means "exactly".]

"Oui, pourquoi pas?"

"Sortez, sortez maintenant!"

A communication failure. In particular, I've not conveyed the fear and confusion that flickered across Madame's face just before she threw me out. That made the encounter a win.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Totally lost

"What are you watching?"

"Go away, I'm fed up with explaining TV programmes to you, you can't be bothered to listen and then you mock me for watching."

"No honestly, what is it, I'll listen and I won't mock."

"Well, ok then. It's about a bunch of people who survive a plane crash and every so often there's a break in the space-time continuum and they go back to being wrecked..."

"Well if it has a break then it's not a continuum is it, it's silly and it makes no physical sense..."

"GO AWAY. You are an arrogant pig."

"Oh I see why you're watching, they're all incredibly good looking... GOD HE'S NOT! How does someone stay as fat and ugly as that? Is it in his contract that he has to be obese? Anyway I'm not arrogant, I'm sarcastic, there is a difference you know OW! that really hurt."

"Good, it was meant to."

Friday, 20 March 2009


My brother, straight and glamorous, turns up for birthday drinks. He's also single, his most recent squeeze having decided to stick with her husband. Fraternal conversation is along the lines of "Great tits, but she's a nutter" or "This woman will change your life, and she can be blonde if you want".

Why is it bad to be reductive? Not a word is wasted, the handling is precise.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Il sorpasso

OK, it's happened. Mlle Inkspot is taller than her mother, who's 5' 4" of wild colleen* ("and a half you bastard, you've been imperializing me and all the other Irish since 1190"). God help me when she gets a mouth like her mother's, at the moment it's just "go away Dad, you're embarrassing". Well of course I am, it's my job. And I know something that Mme Inkspot doesn't: there's more than one embarrassing parent involved here.

*It's St Patrick's Day. If a bunch of drunks in Chicago are Irish, whatever that means, so is this house. 

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Inkspot in Lakeland

"Dad, let's get a blowtorch so we can make creme brulee." 

Not a bad idea, it would have sorts of other domestic purposes; you can't remove pubic hair or deal with earwax under a grill.

Brrinng, brrinng. "Hello, Lakeland, can I help?" 

[Can you help what? Stop being grumpy Inkspot, they're trained to do it.] "Hello, Inkspot here." 

"I'm sorry, who?" [What's this who business? Inkspot, with a significant position at Precision Handling, on kissing terms with a Pan's Person. Oh for god's sake pull yourself together.]

"Never mind, do you have blowtorches for sale?"

"Yes sir, certainly, one at £599-99 and the other at £39-99."

Well, that's it, sold, look at how much money I'm saving by getting the cheaper one. So off I tool and, not without difficulty ("They're by the gondola" Gondola? There is nothing here remotely gondolesque, or even Venetian. It appears that gondola is current sales talk for an ordinary display cabinet) find a blowtorch. Having been burnt (ho ho) before, I read the label. "Sold empty". "Excuse me, do you sell gas for these things?" "I'm sorry sir, no."

Sometimes a conversation just ends itself.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

When is a sneer not a sneer?

When it's a slur. At Precision Handling's promotions meeting the other day. It's really the revenge meeting; we're all primates, even the Archbishop of Canterbury (well, especially him, I suppose) and some pleasures, such as knifing an enemy, seem to be hardwired. The results were gratifying: a win for the good guys. Well, possibly not, there are no good guys. But there are plenty of bad guys, and revenge is worth waiting for. Especially when no-one knows whose hands are on the dagger.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

The people united

Last week saw a shareholders' meeting at Precision Handling. The employee and stakeholder enabling scheme means that those of us on the sharp end can turn up and discuss matters of the moment. What's absorbing the attention of those with nothing better to do (Sarkozy comes to mind, god he's annoying) is the need for a mechanism for appointing a new chairman, given that the queen is too busy, what with those corgis to feed and ruling a country that doesn't have an economy any more. It was a slow Saturday, so I went along.

The obvious thing would be to have candidates and a vote. But no, nobody good enough would wish to be seen to want the job (?) and the straightforward democratic option would be divisive (??). So we're going to have a committee. The committee will conduct secret ballots to see what people want, and then ignore the result.

Brilliant. Enver Hoxha would have been proud.

Friday, 13 February 2009

New horizons

I had to review an application coming from a student in Peking. His romanization, not mine: the official address is "Peking University, Beijing." Go figure. 

He had a detailed record of the courses he'd taken, and the scores he'd got (all very high, he looked really impressive).  But one of the courses (along with Marxist-Leninist thought and dialectical materialism) was in plutonomy.

WTF? I'm not making it up.

Friday, 30 January 2009

Ying and yang, yo and yo

My Japanese obligations are fulfilled and I have winged westward. In a well-ordered world I would have continued east, to interests in California, but Precision Handling's domestic operation is under-staffed. Our Sales Director, Dr Bruni, is keen that this should not be neglected, and a woman with eyes and sapphires like hers is not easily contradicted. It is possible that I have a tiny crush on her, but she seems to be in love with her husband. I met him at the firm's Christmas party; a poisonous dwarf named Sarkozy, who claimed to be President of France. Not in that appalling car he drives, he isn't. 

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

and now go east

As Mrs Pouncer has noticed, Precision Handling's interests have taken me to Japan. Tokyo, in fact, where I'm enjoying the most brutal jet-lag since, oh, the last time I was here. In the movies Scarlet Johansson turns up to console you, but she isn't in the phone book. I think they make these things up.

Sea cucumber? I wish. Having no Japanese, I've been eating at random. Tonight featured bits of octopus embedded in balls of dough and fried. Breakfast will surely be an improvement, but there are 8 hours of lying awake to be done before then.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Go west, young man

Just back from pursuing Precision Handling's interests in Bristol. Again. But what are these interests, my readers demand? They are strictly legal. They do involve, however, the occasional appearance at louche events or places. Sometimes this is unplanned. Last night I was passing a pub that I had seen many times before, although previously either it had been closed or I hadn't wanted a drink. This time was different, and I went in for some port; I particularly liked the idea of a glass of Graham's '85 while I contemplated the day's events, which had been surprising. Well, the Graham's was off, so I settled, as one does, for a pint of Guinness. While consuming this I was distracted by the music videos (1980's disco, which is more enjoyable than I usually admit) and the decor. Funny, the 13th January and they've still got the Christmas decorations up. And why aren't there any women here? Well, enlightenment didn't dawn, it never does, that's one of the stupidest cliches in English, it hit me over the head. So did I

(a) abandon my Guinness and slowly leave, while keeping my back to the wall;

(b) take out my phone, call home and have a loud and obvious uxorious conversation;

(c) hang around and await developments, in the hope that the H & M scarf that I'd borrowed from Mlle Inkspot ("Daddy's on the turn") would disguise my obvious straightness?

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Happy New Year to all our customers!

Well, it's not quite brand new now is it, still running in more like. But you don't want to be too hasty, hailing the year before being reasonably sure that it's not going to skid into a ditch and stay there. That sort of thing really buggers up the calendar, and accounts for chunks of the Dark Ages. Not to mention leap seconds and so on.

But the main thing I wanted to say was, what with this credit crunch and Madoff's Great Pyramid Scheme of the Pharoahs, we have made our rates even more reasonable. Details on request, to No lingerie enquiries please.