Sprawling Rambles & Rambling Sprawls

So I’m only updating because Tim Minchin said he liked my blog, yeah? He has rad hair.

(Actually I’m updating because I promised Mobile Fun that I’d review a USB phone charger, and because it’s… well, it’s been a while)

Exciting updates! What the hell have I been up to?!

Well. Mostly I have been putting photographs of politicians next to trains from Thomas the Tank Engine and then laughing a lot?

WHAT IS THIS.
I CAN'T BREATHE.

So yeah, I’ve been doing a lot of that.  Too much, one might say.  But also! I have done normal things that proper people do, too. Proper people who don’t get looked at as though they are mental.

Hay Festival

My first time (shocking really, as I’m next to the Welsh border and it’s only an hour away). I’ve been to Hay-on-Wye before obviously, there were books, I had some fudge.

I ADORED it. The same sort of intellectually-trascendent revelation that I had when I first went to Latitude. Wonderful, to hear snippets of exciting conversation everywhere you went, to know you could happily interject without inevitably hating the strangers you ended up talking to.  I did the Philosophy festival on the Saturday and the Literature festival on the Sunday (I span academia, yo).  I’m not going to rave too much, but it was stunning.

Also, I got a virtually self-spoofing Guardian tote bag that is immune to parody in its ridiculousness. It is totez awesome:

Paper? Tick! Sunshine? Tick! Pimms? Tick!

Highlights inc!

  • “Copyright, Copyleft & Artistic Ownership in the Digital Age”; brill stuff on a thorny issue. Feargal Sharkey was a really engaging & compelling speaker, even though I disagreed with much of what he said.  Still, at least everyone seems to be agreed that reform is needed.
  • Johann Hari being adorbs.
  • More Nick Clegg stalking (I know, I’m a girl possessed). He was lovely & witty & self-deprecating as ever (“I co-authored a book on this – well, it wasn’t really a book. More of a pamphlet. I just said it was a book because I thought this is a literary festival and it would sound grand. It was a leaflet, really.”)
  • Stephen Fry being booked to speak for an hour and overrunning for an hour in typically verbose Stephen-fashion (“Incidentally, WHEN is the Alejandro video coming out?! It is just driving me MAD!”)
  • All the speakers being given sunflowers. Glorious!

Also, Bonnie Greer was literally everywhere we went. Being fierce.

Minor quibble: I was surprised how un-foodie it was; only one vegetarian option on site, and barely any food on site at all. I was expecting, you know, grilled halloumi and houmous and venison burgers.

I also spent far too much of the weekend sitting in my car trying to charge my phone just so that I could tweet. Nightmare. #firstworldproblems

Here’s some satire, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Oh, my achey-breaky Lib Dem heart.

Latitude

I also went to Latitude! I wasn’t supposed to, it was sold out and I was very sad, but then I managed to come by a spare VIP ticket about 3 days before for less then face value.  Huzzah.

An excellent time, but unfortunately I did keep falling asleep and missing things.  Most noteably & heart-wrenchingly, Karaoke Circus & Crystal Castles, though they clashed anyway.

Highlights inc!

  • Quite a lot of Robin Ince happened. Robin Ince is everywhere. He is the king of middle-class, left-wing festivals. And there were cushions on the floor of the Literary Arena! Score.
  • The Actor Kevin Eldon. Obviously.
  • Q&A session with Chris Morris.
  • Forest! Sheep! Lake! Cocktails! All the usual, really.
  • I Blame Coco played! She is the fittest thing I have ever seen?
FAO Coco, how are you real?

My favourite bit was when Colin & Mary & I were having a discussion about something wanky like “the transient nature of the campsite” and “festivals as liminal zones” (Colin & I basically talk in English Lit. essay titles once we get going, it is really irritating for anyone near us); Colin asked whether either of us ever imagined that each tent was a word and strung them together across the campsite to make sentences.  No, I said, shaking my head, “But are they present tents or past tents?”

I am literally the funniest person in the world.

Anyway!

A REVIEW

Perks of the job. Work very kindly let me take along this emergency charger for my phone, so that I didn’t have to spend half the festival sitting in the car like I did at Hay.  I’m no tech-blogger really, so you don’t get an unboxing video I’m afraid.  Here’s a picture of it though:

I actually really dig it and have been using it loads.  It works well as a charger for my G1 but comes with loads of other tips so you could easily use it as an iPhone 4 charger or an iPad charger etc – not sure how long it’d take to charge an iPad though, I’ll have to borrow m’ boss’ one for a go.

The unit itself is quite sleek and feels/looks well-made, with a nice matt finish.  It seems to hold just enough power for me to charge my phone completely about 1.5 times, perhaps 2 at the most, so I did still end up sitting in my car again occasionally, but that’s more the G1’s fault for absolutely gobbling up battery.

I like it! I shall bequeath it THREE AND A HALF OUT OF FIVE STARS.

If that sounds low, it’s just because I’m stingy. I would only give myself three and a half out of five stars as a person, too.  And I’m really into me.

Birmingham SiTP

I went to it, my second. Everyone very friendly and welcoming, and remembered who I was though I’d missed a couple of sessions 🙂

Anyway, lovely lovely Prof Chris French (wot I wrote a piece on sleep paralysis for last year) gave us a talk, on the latter, and also on anomalous psychology and pareidolia and all that malarky that always makes me wish I’d carried on with Psych after A Level.  I got a little drunk on toffee cider.

Escorted through the Peer’s Entrance

Not a euphemism. Or at least, it wasn’t until all my rt. Hon. friends the Loliticians got their grubby little hands on it.

I had a tour round Parliament! It was amazing!

Lord Faulkner kindly took me round and he properly knew his stuff.  Here are some interesting facts that he told me about:

Behind the Speakers chair is a green bag which is the petitions bag, where all the petitions sent in end up. Lord F. said that in the olden days when people would ask “Did you get my petition?”, the Speaker would say “It’s in the bag”, and that’s the origin of the phrase “It’s in the bag”.  I squealed quite loudly when he told me this.

In front of both of the benches there are two red lines, just over two sword lengths apart, which you aren’t allowed to step over when you’re talking to ensure that you don’t fight the opposition; this is the origins of the phrase “toeing the line”.

He also explained the tradition behind Black Rod, the guy who comes with the Queen for the State Opening of Parliament. This one time! Charles I ran in demanding to see 5 MPs who he was angry with and wanted to punish, but the MPs had already legged it. The Speaker refused to tell the King where they were and said that he was under the rules of the Commons, not the rules of the King, and then they ejected Charles I from the Commons.  Hero!  So now, royals are only allowed into the Commons by invite, and when they come they have to have the door slammed shut ceremonially in their faces and then Black Rod raps on the door with his rod to be let in.

It was a bit empty as it was the last day of term before all the politicians wander off to the beach with their buckets & spades.  I watched the Lords doing a vote, and I went in the Commons chamber and had a wander around and looked at the front benches and the dispatch boxes, and I went on the Terrace Bar, and I went in the Robing Room where the Queen gets dressed before State Opening of Parliament.  I’d always envisaged it as a large walk-in wardrobe but it is in fact an entire room with quite a lot of paintings in it.

Not many Lords.

Doctor Who at the Proms

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH.

Matt Smith! Karen Gillan! Arther Darville! Daleks! Weeping Angels!

They played Gallifrey: My Childhood, My Home along with a video of all of the Doctor’s regenerations, and we all applauded each Doctor as they passed.  Very poignant and lovely, so obviously I was sobbing my face off.

Albert Mo'Fo'ing Hall

I also went to see The Knife’s opera based around The Origin of Species, Tomorrow in a Year, but I won’t go into it here as it wasn’t all that.  A nice concept, moderately executed.  My advice is to just stay at home and listen to the album, which is great.  Cool dry ice, though.

SHERLOCK

The BBC modern-day adaptation of Sherlock Holmes, by Steven Moffat (Doctor Who) & Mark Gatiss (League of Gentleman) started airing a fortnight ago. Be still my heart.

I AM FANGIRL CENTRAL.

HUMPERDINK BANDERSNATCH. CUTHERBERT CAMEMBERT. BENDYDICK CUCUMBERPATCH. YOU HAVE A RIDICULOUS NAME. MARRY ME?

They’ve even had a sort of hamfisted go at the extended media/ ARG side of things, with character blogs (John, Sherlock, Molly) and puzzles to crack, which is sort of endearing.  And gives us lots of extra squee-worthy details like SHERLOCK AND JOHN HAD A JAMES BOND MARATHON TOGETHER, SHERLOCK AND JOHN RAN OUT OF MILK THIS ONE TIME AND SHERLOCK HAD TO ASK JOHN TO GET SOME, SHERLOCK AND JOHN ARE IN LOVE AND DEFINITELY GOING TO GET MARRIED, et cetera.

Unfortunately it’s only a three-parter. The first episode was stunning, absolutely utterly & inexorably perfect.  The second, I thought was a little weak (also not slashy enough?! hello?!).  But the second of a trilogy is always the worst, TRUFAX, so I have high-hopes for next week’s finale.  And for us getting a full series after that, please?

I would be this excited.

PS. Dear Mr Prime Minister, plz do not take our BBC.

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