July 17, 2007
So, next time we take the kites out, I need to bring the gaffa tape too... :-)
October 26, 2006
And we opened a bottle of cider...
I've been meaning to give a brief update to this blog for a while now, to say how the new job is going. When I left the previous employer, I blithely told everyone that they could keep an eye here and see what was going on with my life.
And since then I've barely touched the ground.
And it's bloody wonderful.
I'm immersed in an enormous project that's really going somewhere, which hit its first delivery milestone today. (Within the normal two-pages-of-qualification margin of error required around any project milestone I've ever seen.)
I'm briefly allowing myself a small sigh of relief, an evening off working till midnight, to wallow in this. Because tomorrow it's back on with trying to bring down the Music 14-16 part of BBC Jam. A twenty-page essay would have filled me with fear several year ago - this one is writing itself.
I'm excited, invigorated, working on great content, meeting interesting people, going to fascinating optimistic social jaunts, the proverbial whirl.
Meanwhile Milo's getting more interesting by the day, Daisy's become just fascinating, and Vicky can fit back into her old jeans.
Life's pretty good. And teetering on the edge of extreme exhaustion is a small price to pay.
(That from Monday we're going to finally be in our offices in Hammersmith rather than Stamford Brook is just icing on the cake.)
April 17, 2006
Today, Sainsburys Suggests...
(Always fascinated to see what their software suggests at the end of each order process. Perhaps it will give you an insight I can't see.)
The King Kong DVD, a bottle of Baileys, and a litre of freshly squeezed orange juice.
January 11, 2006
So that was Christmas...
Apologies that it's been a bit quiet here again. Christmas parties, Christmas itself, and then watching a year's worth of films for the Baftas have left little time for prowling the internet looking for useful stuff.
Big hits: Good Night and Good Luck, Brokeback Mountain, Nanny McPhee, Gwyneth Paltrow in Proof
Big disappointments: well, Lloyd sums 'Match Point' up much better.
Voting done, back to "real" life...
June 28, 2005
Je Suis Proud Encore Un Fois
Mum's made it into French.
(Previously known as "The Spectre of Hairy Hector")
June 21, 2005
The time to spend playing with your family and not thinking it's a distraction from something else you should be doing.
New piano pieces to learn.
New books to read. New books read.
A good New Zealand Sauv.
Knowing everyone back at the office *is* coping.
Discovering a lovely wedding between lovely people.
The time to read what's been going on in the flickr and blog world of my friends.
Holidays are lovely. I'm going to stop postponing them 'until it's a good time'.
April 04, 2005
September 27, 2004
Bend and Stretch
Yesterday (and a bit of the day before) I cemented my dadly old-mandom.
I put up a door.
It used just about every single tool I owned, and quite a few that I didn't.
It also pulled just about every muscle I knew about, and quite a few I didn't.
But today, bruised and aching, I feel part of a special secret club. There is carpentry in my house that is mine and mine alone, and that works as though it was supposed to be there. Where I planed off that corner that stuck, and chiseled out the grooves for the hinges. Mwahahaha...
Shame I can't convince the cats to use their new catflap though - it's held open with masking tape and thereby negating the whole draught-stopping exercise.
(Two tips: 1. Immediately make yourself some little wedges to balance the door on, it makes the minute adjustments to get it to line up much easier. 2. You'll be amazed just how little blade needs to stick out of a plane, and how often you'll need to sharpen it. Particularly if you got a cheap one like me.)
September 21, 2004
Stop the Script, I want to get off...
There are times when life feels like a movie. When it's exciting, dramatic, and you're up against huge challenges and you, yes - only you, are going to be the person to turn it round. Often in our work lives we are paid according to the level of movie-ness we can handle - how much of a superhero we have it in us to be from day to day.
That Mr McKee talks about this as the classical plot - he says the reason why so many people like The Standard Action Film Script (as opposed to 'art' films) is because we see ourselves in the mode of the characters. We move through life in linear time, acting against external factors (with a bit of internal conflict), and where we have control over our own destinies.
But very occassionally you have rumbles of things happening that could completely turn your life around. And not in a good way.
And then you have to remember *not* to want the story. That life *isn't* a movie. That you *don't* want the drama.
It's hard being dull at times. But necessary.
August 25, 2004
This fragmented city...
I keep work and home pretty seperate these days. I rather like it that way. A wise friend pointed out that in the 50s nobody got stressed about whether they enjoyed their jobs - they did them so they could enjoy the rest of their lives. In this day and age, we are being urged more and more to engage emotionally with what we do. And yet, at the end of the day, it's all still business. They'll still boot you out when the time comes...and it'll be even harder because they made you *care*.
Keeping the two apart is pretty hard, and usually involves working through my lunch hour and on the tube home, planning the next day. But most of the time it means I can have 10 minutes of 'how was your day?' chat on the way home and then that's it - I'm into domestic mode. And it's just *wonderful*.
But today I thought 'bugger this'. I had some shopping to do, and so I went out for a wander. And later in the day, thanks to the Central line dying, I walked from Oxford Circus to Temple tube station.
And during this ambling about I saw four people that I knew.
This city of 5-10 million people suddenly felt, well, local.
August 05, 2004
Huge congratulations to the wonderful wife, who has just been appointed Senior Content Producer (i.e. in charge of) the BBC Comedy site.
Yay. And indeed a well-deserved Woo.
May 17, 2004
Worth waiting for
I am posting this from bed.
Welcome back Wifi.
(And thank you Maplin)
March 02, 2004
Different context, same memories
Jason Kottke's pictures of walking along a disused railway in New York transported me straight back to childhood country walks along the disused railways just outside Ware in Hertfordshire.
His is urban, mine was green and foresty, his had tracks, mine no longer did, his is up high, mine in a trench, but the resonance is very very strong.
Perhaps it's because they both ended up at a pub?
February 29, 2004
The famous children's author Penny Dolan is in today's Sunday Times kids section 'Funday Times'. No web link sadly.
And as to other mothering matters: Small person has a) started smiling, b) got used to the idea of being a baby and doesn't need to cry any more unless there's actually something wrong. (Or at least that's what the last 48 hours would seem to indicate). Odd, but fascinating, to see a sense of contentment in self in someone so tiny.
February 24, 2004
More Pride, I'm Afraid
My super-talented cousin just came third in the young drummer of the year competition.
You could look for her surname in the body text, or make it easy for yourself and note the use of the word 'her' earlier in this sentence.
She's always been shockingly good to my amateur ears - to have it confirmed by the pros is wonderful. Expect great things of her...
February 23, 2004
Growing Old Acceleratedly
Damn. Well I suppose it had to happen sooner or later.
This weekend, I got my own age wrong.
I now realise I am no longer a lithe 33, but 34 going on 35. And this for someone whose self-perception oscillates between the ages of about 7 and 22.
I also feel slightly cheated. What was I doing in the intervening time? I've lost a year of things-I-was-doing-while-33!
February 20, 2004
Oh, and her blog about writing and stuff has now launched.
February 13, 2004
Oh, and another thing...
...I would have missed was this view while we took Daisy to the local ponds for the first time. It was getting dark because nothing happens quickly with small people.
Vicky told me it was beautifully composed, which I thought was rather flattering given that nature did most of the work.
February 06, 2004
I've decided to change the name of the blog back from it's Vaughan-suggested moniker. She's here now, and life needs to carry on. So there.
Anyway, here are some more reasons why today was momentous:
1) Daisy's cord fell off - and it looks like she hasn't got an outy.
2) I have now been wee-ed on by my child en route to her bath. Must write to Carhartt complementing them on the absorbency of their jeans.
3) I started recreating a social network again - I went out for lunch with a friend.
Small things, but together they make a day worth having lived through.
February 03, 2004
Don't get me wrong, Daisy is absolutely wonderful and everything, but the crying inconsolably for a few hours at the end of each night is something Vicky and I could do without.
One of the things nobody ever tells you is the incremental change in a baby's mental condition each time they wake up after a feed/look/sleep cycle. It's incredibly perceptible that there is more and more going on inside her head.
On thursday, she developed the ability to point her eyes at something and keep them there, and then move them purposefully to something new. By friday, she had the ability to move her head and keep her eyes pointing at the same object. This week, there's a slightly different reaction between our faces, even though we're sure she doesn't know what a face is, or what it means yet. But that early proto-recognition seems to produce two different flavours of happy.
Another thing - and one I wish I didn't know - is that the whole process of the umilical cord falling off is basically controlled gangrene. The midwife asked us if the cord had started smelling yet, and we said no - but by the following day I knew exactly the smell she meant. And I could smell it *everywhere*, even over the top of the 1990 Pol Roger we toasted her in with on Saturday. I don't know, the sacrifices parents make eh?
The other thing that's happened is Vicky and I have realised we have no idea of who knows about Daisy's arrival and who doesn't - we've had two embarrasing phonecalls already from close friends we assumed had heard. So an email along the lines of 'sorry weve been a bit crap but...' is going to have to go out shortly.
Oh, and the NCT breastfeeding helpline and support services are near-godlike. Particularly when you've got a super-hungry monster like we have.
January 09, 2004
Talking of Which
I have been suprised by my reaction to the whole re-employment and financial security thing.
I'd always imagined a whole set of feelings I'd have when I got back into a position where I wasn't losing money, or moving from short-term gig to short-term gig - elation, potency, vindication - stuff like that.
But there hasn't really been any of that - even over a longer period. In fact there aren't really any new feelings at all.
What's making the difference is all the feelings I no longer have. As if the white noise generator in my head has been turned off, and my mind is left standing - confused and shaking slightly - in the remaining silence, realising it must have got used to the deafening din and wondering how.
January 08, 2004
The Speedy Adaptibility of the Human Mind
Human nature being what it is, I have already spent the forthcoming 'financial stability' about 8 times over.
Fixing the piano, upgrading my studio software, wine, a binge at Amazon, a PC to run Linux and M$, saving for childcare, saving for starting my own production company, getting the porch rebuilt with properly seasoned wood, putting more disks in the TiVo, getting my mixing desk repaired, new clothes, a holiday, a party, a vinyl splurge, new central heating, a huge cake... the list is endless.
It's still a wonderful wonderful relief though.
January 07, 2004
So, with two weeks to go before the firstborn is due, I'm back in employment again. MTV phase 2 starts up from Monday.
This has caused a massive rethinking of my future plans - one that's so massive I now realise just how much my ambitions and worldview had needed to shrink in order to cope: I can now drink the emergency-only champagne in the fridge; I can buy some new champagne for when the firstborn arrives; I can go to restaurants again; I can start buying CDs once more; I can put money into my pension; I can get new shoes...
Gosh, there's nothing quite like having the rug pulled back under you.
December 20, 2003
Conspiracy of Prejudice
One of the things I found when I was last 'resting' is that you should sign on the day you stop work. Even if there are a bunch of things coming up, you can't be sure they'll come off, and if you do get yourself into a pickle they'll ask why you hadn't signed on ages ago. Retrospective is not a word the employment service understands.
And if you're actually looking for a job, and are qualified for the things you're trying to find a job in, it's actually a pretty painless process. The staff treat you with respect, and the jobseekers form is genuinely useful - to the point where it's now become a spreadsheet I use to track calls and actions from them.
So I'm in the jobcentre, signing on for the first time and I say to the rather nice chap behind the desk "So when do I next have to sign on?"
"Ah, not for four weeks"
"Hooray! Well, and good for you too."
"Hahaha. Gosh no, I wish I had four weeks off"
And then there's an awkward silence as we both realise what we've done.
Despite the fact I am jobhunting, I've just acted as though the dole is a way of having a holiday. And he, despite the fact he's there to ensure I'm fully empowered and actively jobhunting, acted as though I was going to doss around for four weeks.
Neither of us meant that, but a wrongfooted moment put us both back into a tv-led cliche from the early 80s.
He did give me the money though...
December 16, 2003
Small but perfectly formed
Well, a few things in life are looking up at the moment.
- Possibly got a bit of work for next week. A nice little chunk of cash at a critical moment.
- We're probably going to be having the baby at home. This will be lovely, though it sounds scary and messy until you've looked into it.
- 'Spadger' is just plain *huge*. She's 35 weeks at the moment, but the height of a 37-week-old. (Warning, scary biology bit coming up) When you have a baby, there's this stage at the end where 'the head engages'. This is where it finally settles into the dip at the bottom of the womb, and it drops by an inch or two. This then means that the mum can breathe again and doesn't get heartburn, as there's no baby pushing things back up. Sadly, because spadger is so tall, she has already engaged. So no let up for Vix. But for good reasons.
- Badlanguage is coming along nicely. Greyscreen up v soon. You're going to like it. Probably.
- Keeping jobhunting confined to certain hours of the day in certain rooms of the house does wonders for your sanity
- As does the MDs of recruitment agencies saying they want to see you personally
- Nursery fees? Bollocks, we'll just put them on the mortgage...
- A few nice essays bubbling away in my head. Mostly politics strangely
- Oh, and I realised that I'm allowed to pitch interactive ideas to broadcasters as an independent producer. I don't have to wait for them to give me a job.
- I'm going to a lovely party tonight, where I'm looking forward, rather than looking back.
In many ways, the last few days have signified a change from abject misery that this time - the run up to christmas and then the birth - wasn't how we'd imagined at all, into a gift that we're getting to spend our last bit of time as just a couple *as* a couple, rather than having all that awful work stuff getting in the way.
Many more useful bloggy things to say, but they'll have to wait for a little while as the rapidly-filling car parks of Bluewater beckon for Christmas shopping...
December 11, 2003
Essay To-Do List
A bunch of things I really must write up/finish and stick online at some stage:
- Using control theory as an analytical tool on increasingly complex interactive formats, to give program-makers a set of traps to avoid.
- Where synthespian research keeps getting it wrong - the point they keep missing
- Time Management as a left-brain/right-brain issue
- Why NCT classes were more useful for the men than the women
- The 'bad language' project
Got to get in to get out
So much stuff I want to post. So much stuff that I know I shouldn't. Even sensible points will come out wrong. Stuffing things in the linklog to come back to late. Probably.
Thanks all for the nice messages below.
In the meantime, I'm considering the downside of all that emotional armour, all those defences, all the little mental judo tricks to bat aside problems and enable me to just get on with things. Because there's someone incredibly upset deep down in here, who's genuinely run completely out of self-esteem, and is terrified at the weight of responsibility on his shoulders - the need to provide.
And 'he' can't get that upset out.
And 'I' can't get in to help.
December 10, 2003
As you may know, my reserves of optimism are almost limitless. No matter how grim the position I'll find a way to see things through.
Even I run out sometimes.
Posting will resume when I'm less miserable and can be witty about crap things happening again.
(Losing myself in PHP and Debussy in the meantime)
December 02, 2003
Tom For Hire
Further to the post below, I'm now rather twiddling my thumbs, at least until the next phase of "I'm A Celebrity" kicks in. That's the last time I stop applying for new jobs because I think this one is a dead cert.
I've got a few personal projects I'm working on to keep my brain ticking over, but if anyone out there needs someone scarily experienced to do some short-term projects, then obviously big piles of cash win out over vanity.
So do get in touch. All serious, or extremely-interesting-and-fairly-serious, offers considered.
Well, I didn't get the stupendously well paid music job at VideoNetworks.
In some ways this is very sad indeed, as I think I could have done a lot of good stuff there.
November 20, 2003
Lie in a bit.
Fabulous piano lesson.
A tube journey where we both got to sit down from the start.
Accidentally bump into a friend.
Window shop for two hours.
Meet a long-lost good-guy from your previous place of work.
Game terrine, pan-fried calves liver, herb encrusted cod, lemon tart with handmade chocolate icecream - overlooking shaftesbury avenue.
Spend close on a thousand pounds on someone you love. (Even if you haven't *actually* met them yet)
Beans on toast.
Linda Smith on Room 101.
So let me get this right, you have a day that's not the weekend, when you *don't* go to work?
Sounds familiar, like some distant memory, you know.
Well, I guess I'll just have to get used to it...
(still waiting to hear back btw)
November 14, 2003
Second interview monday after work.
There are bits of me now remembering the famous words of Danny O'Brien:
Now I'm going to have to fake this efficiency thing, very, very seriously
(Actually, I know I'm nowhere near as bad as my paranoid vague online persona would indicate, but it's a nice excuse to link)
November 06, 2003
Very Dear Friend In Need
Marv has got a one-bedroom flat in London N8 to let out in about two weeks while he's away on holiday for three months. Can any of you out there help him out?
(He's also broken his permalinks, so you'll need to scroll down to the entry on Nov 4th)
November 02, 2003
Not quite Gevrey-Chambertin
I don't think it's been discussed in this world often enough, but at times of need, there is indescribeable comfort to be had from the simple pleasure of wearing a brand new pair of socks. Snug, springy, cool and fresh - confidence and comfort for less than the price of a pint in the West End of London.
Soon, all this will be over...
I'm changing jobs again. Off to Granada to do interesting iTV, Web and Mobile things for a bit. It's a short term contract, very short term, but it should be interesting. It's a company going through a lot of changes at the moment, but they're also VERY good on the business side of things. Lots to be learnt. Which is the upside.
On the downside, however, I'm facing an increasingly uncertain financial position, at a time when my about-to-grow family needs me to be Very Secure Indeed.
Now, don't get me wrong, there are quite a few interesting jobs out there. And the market is in *sooooooo* much better shape than it was six months ago when I first left the beeb. But, as the saying has been in our house recently, we're looking forward to things 'getting back to normal'.
While at MTV I got chatting to a lovely director called Nat. He'd had his first kid around three years ago, and we were comparing notes. "The thing is," he said to me, "after the first one I knew there would be a bit of upset for about six to nine months, and then things would settle down again."
"Of course", I said, reaching for another glass of wine.
"But then my wife got pregnant again, so we had all the build-up to that, and we were straight into the next nine-months of upset to our lives."
"Ah", said I. There had been a lot of glasses of wine. I wasn't capable of great wit at this point. In fact, I'm suprised I've remembered this much. Anyway, he went on:
"And then, about two-and-a-half years later, I realised that this was it. It wasn't going to go back to how it was before. This was the new normal."
And that's kind of how I feel now. This is the new normal. And to be honest it's probably a really good thing. I mean, lets take an extremely pessimistic and critical view of the events of recent years:
- Six months of putting my life on hold doing things that let me off far too lightly while I waited for a job that then didn't turn up.
- Two months getting really really stressed about having taken on a sales job I couldn't do.
- Three months of trying to find a really well-paid job in an absolutely dead employment market, while the mortgage happily drank my redundancy money.
- Being made redundant from a job that I'd only just turned into a real success, just as I was buying a house I could hardly afford.
- Eighteen months of trying to set up a business unit and build a team that another really powerful part of my employers really didn't want to exist.
- At the same time having my first house turn into a nightmare that felt like a prison.
- Six months of trying to turn a fledgeling unit into a mighty empire, only to have the rug pulled out from underneath me at the last minute.
- Six months of running about 8 sites on skeleton staff and never being at home, lest I and my two other staff members get laid off.
- Eighteen months of frantic saving, working 18-hour days, 7 days a week, to get out of our rented house before the property ladder slipped by us.
So you look at all that, covering the last - oooh - five years, and say, "So which normal exactly was it that you wanted to go back to?"
September 19, 2003
I'd just like to thank the wonderful creator of this site for having endured five exciting and interesting years of marriage with me.
It's amazing when you look back, just how far it's possible for people to come.
We still lived in a rented house, had the shadow of huge debt hanging over us, dreamed of being pop stars, thought I might not get another stint back at the beeb, had no cats, no baby, two utterly knackered cars and our only major financial commitment to date had been a bottom-of-the-range washing machine and a bottom-of-the-range bed.
It's also odd to look back at that day and realise how many people we now consider close friends weren't there - because we didn't even know them. So, Mark, Martha, Des, Shaz, Marv, Matt, Euan, Flip and many more - in our memories, you were there. And we all had a lovely time.
September 17, 2003
A brief impulsive google search after a conversation about the free musicians magazine 'Making Music' found this mention of my greatest boss at the BBC on
Subject: Out of Office AutoReply: you no longer have to see
I'm out of the office for the forseeable future..
Multimedia business should go to Tom Dolan on 50245 or Michaela Blackman on
Jon never recovered, never came back to the office. And is still missed by just about everyone who knew him. To this day I feel his influence in everything I do at work, and how I try to manage people.
Odd that something as simple as an 'out-of-office' can engender such strong emotions.
September 16, 2003
Damn and Blast
Yes, I know it's been quiet recently. I'm going through one of my efficient phases where I don't fritter my life away on such trivia as "fun". (Though recabling the studio was a fun/work hybrid)
However, it sounds, according to Planet Parent that I should just get used to that.
Our first baby, Oliver was only six months old when I fell pregnant again. When I found out that the tummy bug I’d been suffering from, was in fact a baby, I sat on the stairs and cried. Steve said that he didn’t want me to think of it as ruining his life but rather to consider it as ruining both of our lives.
I (and I guess anyone else out there who’s not had the experience) blithely expected these gatherings of mums to be cosy, gossipy, rather bland affairs, with plenty of cake and some cooing over each other’s offspring. I didn’t expect to be competing in the parenting version of The Weakest Link. Your child doesn’t sleep, eat, smile, crawl, walk etc. you are the Weakest Parent – goodbye!
Really funny, and rather worrying.