2006-03-10 : Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Nothing like a cold shower to get your heart started in the morning… Yes, there's still teething problems with the new house, and I'm feeling none too special today having just had a 6 degree shower, following not having one at all yesterday because the water was just too cold.

Character building, they say.

Anyhoo, best get on with last weekend's fun before I forget what happened this weekend. And there's still the snow trip to do too. Crikey.

Friday after work I met up with The Puzzler for possibly the best post-work suggestion ever, a trip to the WhiskyLive whisky festival ! Not quite as much of a festival as the Great British Beer Festival, it was still bloody impressive no matter which way you cut it – at a rough guess I'd say there were about 200 types of whisky on offer, and there we were with a piddly 5 tasting tokens each. Ah well, making the best of it was the name of the game, so in we waded!

Kicking off with a fairly light and inoffensive Suntory 18 y.o. (my first ever Japanese whisky), I was quite impressed but equally glad to then move on to the Glenlivet 18 y.o… a slightly fuller and fruitier refinement over my normal tipple, but I left thinking that the 12 y.o.'s still my sipping whisky of choice.

No time to stand about waxing analytical though, because time was a-ticking! Next stop was Speyside Distillers, who were also out sampling some top drams from their private cellarings collection. Having had Bruichladdich much on my mind of late, I was delighted to volunteer to try their 1984 drop. In my excitement I'd forgotten that Laddie's an Islay malt, and my tastebuds were duly & summarily clobbered. We were a little disappointed that the guys didn't take a tasting token from us, because it meant looking around and having another choice to make.

My next move was a 1991 Glenrothes – I'd only tried Glenrothes once, by way of a bottle I bought my old housemake Mike for his birthday one year, but this tasted nothing like I remembered ! Turns out Glenrothes operates on a vintage system whereby every year's batch has its own distinct character; the 1991 was a fairly lightly spiced vanilla tasting dram – luvverly !!

Recollection of what happened next is a little sketchy, as we were now 4 scotches and a pint each in with no dinner (slight administrative oversight there)… There was definitely one Bowmore expression in there, although I'm uncertain which, and I know I definitely managed to cadge a sample of Edradour 10 y.o., followed by a trip back to the frightfully nice chaps at Speyside. Things packed up fairly quickly, and thankfully we managed to avoid being hurled out of the building parallel to the ground at any point. I left wondering whether going there had been a good thing – sure I'd tasted some lovely drams, but surely ignorance of these things can be bliss ? Ah well, nothing for it but to buy one of each I guess !

Saturday (afternoon) I arose from my slumber and went to meet the inimitable Paul for an afternoon screening of the 1954 cinematic marvel Gojira. Bugger me, and I thought Clash Of The Titans was dire ?! I realise that back in those days (hell, Hillary had only just conquered Everest !) special effects in movies weren't quite at the same level of complexity and realism they are today, but more than ever this film underlined the fact that you can't sacrifice storyline and hope that the effects will cover up for you ! The Godzilla at no point is built into any kind of character whatsoever – even the 1933 King Kong film established the gorilla as having feelings, and you therefore empathised with it when society mocked it. But Godzilla was just a big unconvincing dinosaur that would suddenly appear and start smashing shit up. The dialogue really was:
Man: Boats are disappearing for no apparent reason in a particular area of the ocean. We keep sending more, and they keep bursting into flames without provocation.
Man who owns shipping company: We must send more boats to find out what it is.
First Man: They too have been destroyed. Nobody knows the cause of this.
Old Man: It must be Gojira.
Man on other side of island: Aaaaaaargh ! Gojira has come to the island and is destrying things !
We are doomed. He will march on Tokyo next.
Gojira marches on Tokyo.

Come on, I've read Shakespeare, Lovecraft, Mark Twain, and other pre-WW2 authors, and I can guarantee you that such devices as characterisation & logical plot development existed back then. One of the most frustrating things about it was that you couldn't even get a decent kip during the film, because the startling and often percussive soundtrack kept cutting in unexpectedly and scaring the bejeezus out of you. I shan't write any more as I'd hate to spoil the desperate few points of surprise or interest for anyone who might consider watching this in future.

Saturday night Lord Science, The Puzzler, HC and I went down to Battersea to see one of my favourite comedians & free thinkers, Mr Daniel Kitson. The venue was fairly small & intimate – not quite so much as the Hen & Chickens in Islington where I saw him last, but certainly much smaller than the Nova in Rundle Street. The show had a very different tone & pace to what I'm accustomed to; this tended to be more of an exploration of Daniel's likes & motivations rather than a series of funny anecdotes, which provided room for lengthier pauses while we waited to see where the point he was heading toward was, and I suspect this tended to lose the audience's focus a bit. He seemed a lot more vitriolic than usual as well – actually perhaps not, but it seemed so because it was pointed closer to home: his audiences. Initially I quite liked the concept that he prefers his audiences to be made up of people who are interested in what he has to say and for the reasons he's saying it, rather than say a bunch of lads who have read about him in Nuts magazine and are out for beers and a big laugh. However as he became more specific about the way he viewed things I almost started to wonder if I was welcome just because I thought of things slightly differently to the way he was describing.

It was all too much for one bloke in the front row, who started sending an SMS while Kitson was talking. DK stopped and asked politely but somewhat incredulously, “Are you sending an SMS sir ?”, to which the guy replied, “Yeah, it's more interesting.”. Kitson said, “If you're not enjoying the show I'm more than happy to refund you your money”, and the guy said “That'd be good, wouldn't be a complete waste of my night then”. DK went off stage & got his wallet, and said “I've only got a 20 pound note – it'll be worth it to not have a rude **** like you in the audience!”.

Aargh, this post's taking forever to finish.

Quickly, the gig was excellent – at least I really dug it – and the following day I took a trip to that eternal pit of hell and damnation known as Ikea. Get there early on Sunday to beat the rush ? Crap. The carpark was rammed and filled with knuckle-dragging troglodytes (and their bastard hellspawn children) rushing in to pick up their affordable third rate furniture. It was like the siege of Helm's Deep from Lord of the Rings, truly. And after 3 torturous hours there I managed to come away without the two items I'd gones specifically to get, as they'd sold out of both (and I'd even checked that they were in stock using the website the previous afternoon!).

Finally, the weekend concluded with a trip around to my old house in Kensal Rise, to set up the wireless network for Eugene. Now normally this would be a hazardous move given how full of blood rage I was from the Ikea trip, but somehow, strangely, everything worked a treat and served to just hone the edges off the anger I had built up. Result.

Oh yeah and I had an excellent dinner at Richie & Hilary's place.

The end.