Friday, 29 April 2011

Royal Wedding

D'you know what I've really enjoyed today. Royal wedding day. About which I might probably be expected to be cynical and sneering. But not a bit of it. It has been affirming and reassuring.

For reasons which aren't important I've been reading Bagehot on the English constitution recently and today's events have relevance in that context. The operation of the state is dependent on both the dignified and the efficient manifestations of government. Today we saw the dignified at its stately best. And you may well cry that this is absolute bollocks but just answer me this: could the United States put on a show remotely as impressive as this? Of course it couldn't. Which is not an unanswerable point but is one that should make one think. Bagehot was out of date almost as soon as he was published but, here's the rub, he had a point you know. God save the Queen.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

First Puncture

The Overgraduate had a humbling encounter with the dignity of manual labour yesterday. This was the government's fault of course, because it hasn't fixed the bloody pot-holes on our roads. What am I paying my taxes for?

The dream machine (my new push bike for those of you who haven't been paying attention) suffered a puncture on Friday. This would of course happen on a ride when I had managed to forget my phone and I wasn't carrying a spare tube. The encouraging aspect of the longish walk home was the number of fellow  cyclists who stopped to offer me help. Rather uplifting.

complex mechanical procedure requiring
high skill and patience 
  So yesterday I set about changing the inner tube. I should have had a spare in stock but I would have to confess to having proceeded thus far on the vain assumption that punctures are things which happen to other people. Stage 1: Halfords where a very cheerful and helpful young man directs me through the bewildering choice of tubes. Stage 2: service manual at hand I gingerly remove the wheel - this is bloody marvellously simple - have never used quick-release mechanisms before, never having owned a 21st century bike. Stage 3: Lever off the tyre. Again, stunningly easy, Overgraduate feeling rather blase about the whole procedure. Stage 4: remove the tube and insert the new one. Overgraduate now getting distinctly cocky. Stage 5: attempt to inflate the tyre. This is surely the simple bit. Only a particularly stupid child could fail. Stage 6: this pump appears to suck. Get mildly flustered. Stage 7: hurl useless sodding pump acros the garden. Any possibility of user error discounted. Stage 8: drive to shop and buy new pump. Stage 9: new pump works but so, it seems, does the old one. Possibility of user error now reassessed. Stage 9: finish the job and blame government.

PS. Also bought a saddle bag to carry spare tube and tools in to avoid future humiliation.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

What Damage? Sienna Miller - The Naked Truth

So it turns out that the Geriatric Wankers Weekly really was hacking loads of phones after all. Comme on dit en francais, 'Quelle bloody surprise.' This does give us the chance to post a gratuitous snap of Sienna Miller under the guise of newsworthiness. Which will probably cause a mysterious increase in the number of hits the blog receives today, particularly as I contrive to incorporate the word 'naked' into my text. I regard anything that brings The Overgraduate to a wider audience as justifiable. It is for the greater good.

Because La Miller is at the heart of something that is mystifying me. The GWW has apparently offered to pay her a hundred grand in damages for the breach of her privacy. Now the GWW was surely breaking the criminal law in what it did and nobody will shed a tear if the whole excrement scented shower of them get put away - and that includes Andy Coulson who it would appear is either an egregious liar or an unbelievably lax/incompetent editor, neither of which is going to be an ornament on his CV you would think. But, and this is the bit I'm struggling to understand, how did Sienna suffer a cool hundred thousand's worth of damage as a result of what they did. Or indeed any of the other great and good who are queueing up to have a dip into Rupert's money. We note, by the way, that the lovely Max Clifford (who does at least choose to be well advised) has accepted the coin already proffered to him by GWW's retained shisters - definitely a good move since it is difficult to imagine anything that might have been published which in any way lowered him in the public estimation and thereby caused him damage. But lo, what is this I see - it is a judge talking some sense. Have a read and dig it out of the BBC report because this aspect of the tawdry spectacle will not get much attention. Being clever and a judge are not mutually exclusive - something else you won't find generally conceded. See Unspeakable/Uneatable

Big Dick  Ben
 And another thing. The Overgraduate's favourite politician, St Vince of Twickenham, has been at it again, swinging his political dick around. It has to be granted that once again he seems inviolable (PM Bottles It Again) yet more proof that those in our government with balls don't have brains and those with brains don't have balls. A larger number have neither. Bloody hell it makes you proud to be British.

Irresistible Cheap Shot
To far more important matters. My training and continuing injury woes. The triathlon is imminent and the all-important penultimate week of preparation is already scheduled to be spent on the piss in Ireland. Not good. Now public spending cuts and school holidays have malignly conspired to stop me swimming. The City of Birmingham has now confined the largesse of free swimming to the hours  of 1.00 to 4.00. This is manageable for the mature student but the City has also thrown open the pool to its yoof for the next couple of weeks so lane swimming is out in favour of dive bombing, heavy petting and other manifestations of pubescent natation. End result: can't run, can't swim; confined to the lovely new bike. Plus I've got final assignments to complete before I swan off to Ireland to rescue their economy. Bad planning. I blame the boy Cameron.    

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Beautiful New Bike

Brand new toy
I've done it, I've bought myself a road bike. It's gorgeous even if it is described as 'entry level.' It's a Cannondale CAAD 8. To my mind it is almost as beautiful as a DB9.

I rode it up to the rugby club yesterday and the difference from the faithful old mountain bike is staggering. So much faster that I had a high speed crash at an early stage - I was so busy trying to work out which of the 27 gears to use that I hit the kerb and went arse over tit in front of a group of giggling children. Quite right, it must have looked very funny, a middle aged man in cycling gear somersaulting off his shiny new machine. Still at least my shades stayed on so I must have looked pretty cool in a humiliated sort of way.

Best new toy I've had for ages. Watch out for a lycra blur on the mean streets of Sutton Coldfield.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Nature Is Trying To Tell Me Something ... And I'm Not Going To Listen

Hamstring is better. It's official. I've been out running on it  a fair bit recently. Trouble is I was well into my fourth mile the other day, feeling not a little chuffed with myself, when the sodding, bleeding, buggering calf muscle went again. That's it, the self same injury I was whinging about last summer and which transported me to the acupuncturist. Give up Dave, give up - that seems to be Mother Nature's message to the Roberts' body. But we will not give in so easily. If running is going to cause these breakdowns I have a simple solution - I will train for my triathlon by swimming and cycling only and trust that my legs will stand up to the strain of the actual day. I am not old. I am not old. I am stupid but I AM NOT OLD.

Bert from Sesame Street
Working Class Hero
 I received a letter the other day from this bloke I've never met but who nonetheless feels comfortable enough to address me 'Dear David.' Cheeky young whipper-snapper. Anyway it seems this bloke desperately wants to know what my priorities are and is going to do something about them 'For you, your family and your friends.' I am touched that he should be so concerned. So here is the list of what I want Ed Milliband (for it is he who has so importuned me)
  • I would like people not to take it for granted that they may use my christian name unbidden. I do actually prefer to be addressed by it but I also like the politeness implicit in asking first.
  • I would very much like to live in a country that believes social mobility can be a matter of upward aspiration rather than something achieved by resenting and choking high achievement so as to elevate the status of the politburo.
  • I would like to be a citizen of a country that is not compelled to underwrite the bailing-out of basket-case economies such as Portugal.
  • I would like to live in a country that held some gold reserves and not one that sold at the bottom of the market.
  • I would like to be governed by politicians who strive beyond a fixation with class. Your snide remarks in your Budget response about the Chancellor's skiing holiday were monumentally pathetic. Lifelong politicos like you Ed make comically poor class warriors. Didn't they learn you nothing at Oxford. Ooh sorry there's that chip on my shoulder showing.
  • I would like to be left alone to live my life in accordance with my conscience and not one dictated to me by anyone else, least of all you Ed (or is it Edward in fact?)
So Mr Milliband I will not be taking up your invitation to 'keep talking' but you are free to read The Overgraduate any time you like. When you bump into Vince Cable, David Cameron or any of the rest of the shameful crew of the good ship Britain please pass on Mr Roberts' regards and ask them ever so politely to make sure they leave space in the lifeboats for the rest of us. Oh and can you please sort out my calf injury as part of Health Service reforms. If you do that you can have my single transferable vote as many times as I'm allowed to give it.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Accentuate The Positve

My last blog was rather low and nasty and I have been tempted to delete it as unworthy of me. But on reflection I'm afraid it is worthy of me. It also captured exactly the mood I encountered last Monday when I passed a spare hour in the library re-reading the passge in The History Man in which Kirk humiliates the hapless Carmody. You will gather that this struck a chord. It still does.

But today is a day of celebration and regret. I have just finished my final group seminar as an undergraduate in the School of English. David Roberts (I know it's confusing - see earlier blogs) promised us that Shakespeare Studies in our final term meant saving the best to last. That is a strong claim to make. He was spot on. Twelve plays and some poetry down the road I can assert that this has been the best of the best. England's greatest writer at the culmination of an English degree. And David Roberts would never be mistaken for Howard Kirk.

Not that Shakespeare could care less but here are the Roberts Bardolatry Awards: Best Play - Macbeth; Biggest Surprise - this is shared by Titus Andronicus (bloody fantastic or bloody and fantastic if you prefer) and The Tempest, which thanks to a deathly combination of shoddy teaching at school and my own arrogant inattention was a play I thought I did not like; Most Misunderstood Roman - Coriolanus; Best Bloke - Enobarbus; Part I would like to play - Aaron. Not much prospect of that I hear you say and you would be right.

Here is a brilliant passage on Anti-Stratfordianism from David Mamet which makes a nice final word for today's blog on the matchless playwright,
The anti-Stratfordians hold that Shakespeare didn't write Shakespeare's plays ... The assignment of authorship to Bacon, et cetera, is like the sop of management to Lazy Labor - it is on the order of awarding 'Best Employee of the Week' in which the true status rests not with the recipient but with the donor, and his or her power to patronize ... The anti-Stratfordian, like the flat-earther and the creationist, elects himself God - possessed of the power to supervene the natural order - and the most deeply hidden but pervasive fantasy of the above is the ultimate delusion of godhead: 'I made the world.'