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Richard Clegg

[ website | Castle Gormenghast ]
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April showers [Mar. 12th, 2010|04:56 pm]
Richard Clegg
I am working from home today and have been moderately productive (despite a slight lingering hangover from attending The Now Show with valkyriekaren -- why do radio four recordings always end with me drunk?). Anyway, I have been wanting to pop out to WHSmiths all day for a little break, leg-stretch and to spend a gift token. I waited for five hours for the intermittent rain to pass, took a shower and got dressed, then decided to clean the water marks off the shower before leaving -- in the process of which I dropped the shower head and soaked myself and my clothing without ever having to leave the house. Doh!

I love my flat I really do. My shiny occasional tables are pleasingly gleaming. My kitchen is clean and uncluttered, my living room is light and airy, even my clothes are put away in a wardrobe and a washing basket. Honestly, it's like being a real grown up human being again after three years of student living.
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War, what's it good for [Mar. 8th, 2010|04:20 pm]
Richard Clegg
Stupid hatsCollapse )
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Oh my god it's full of puppies [Mar. 5th, 2010|07:42 pm]
Richard Clegg
My toilet paper is embossed with puppies. I did not know this when I bought it. I am horrified. If marketting men genuinely have identified some of the population who want to wipe themselves against puppies then they should be treating those people, not creating products which meet the demand.
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Had to share this [Mar. 3rd, 2010|01:33 pm]
Richard Clegg
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Flatpacktastic [Mar. 3rd, 2010|11:17 am]
Richard Clegg
Oh my god. This Ikea TV bench is a thing of such beauty that there is currently an arch-angel in my living room weeping from jealousy. This must be what Michelangelo felt like when he finished painting his ceiling. Unfortunately, according to the instructions, if I now go near it or an insect lands on it or near it, it will be scratched irreparably and I will need to buy a second one and burn the remains of the current one. Indeed it's picking up fingermarks already while I sit here and I'm four metres away.

My flatpack hellCollapse )
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X treats Y as Z and routes around it. [Feb. 26th, 2010|03:15 pm]
Richard Clegg
Thanks to the efficiencies of market capitalism the TV I recently bought has the capability to play back movies from a USB stick and this capability is deliberately disabled by the manufacturer to encourage purchase of a more expensive model of TV (which has many shared internal parts with the cheaper model). Thanks to the wonders of the internet I can hack my TV to regain the lost ability. In your face Adam Smith!
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Sofa so good [Feb. 25th, 2010|11:45 am]
Richard Clegg
[Tags|, ]

DIYing to winCollapse )
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Home furnishings excitement [Feb. 24th, 2010|01:17 pm]
Richard Clegg
I didn't think it would happen to me but I'm excited about home furnishings. This is because I have a self assembly sofa and not some easy to manage Ikea thing but some crazy Nabru slot together sofa which looks like a 1000 piece 3d jigsaw right now. I also have a good excuse to drill holes in the wall (to put the TV up properly). It's going to be pretty hard to concentrate on doing sums for the afternoon when the prospect of putting holes in my own wall looms. Oh, and I can't get to the loo or my bedroom because 100 of the 1000 bits of sofa are blocking the hall. I'm going to read the instructions on my "stud finder" (not for finding men, for finding things I shouldn't drill) and THEN do some work.
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Fitting it all in [Feb. 18th, 2010|02:57 pm]
Richard Clegg
My brain is entirely occupied this week with a variant of tetris I think of as "stufftris". While animate russians do squat dancing, I am imagining my possessions raining down into my living room in inconvenient shapes and failing to fit in storage containers of the relevant size while I frantically try to rotate them into the relevant ikea provided containers. I think this is the beginning of the mental weakness suffered by home owners which eventually leads to an obsession with finials, ottomans (ottomen?) and the like. I just hope I can get everything packed away before my mind goes completely.

In other news I've got my first occasion to call out British Gas to fix my boiler. Sick and wrong but it feels sort of exciting. That's actually MY leak and MY responsibility to fix (or ignore and call a water feature). I just wish it hadn't happened just five days after I decided that all that boiler-insurance nonsense was just so wrong and I would go boldly through life without such a safety net.

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Bike Thief [Feb. 17th, 2010|04:28 pm]
Richard Clegg
I had my bike stolen the other day. It's hard to do textually, but that had is definitely active voice. When I first moved to London I used to cycle to work but, you know, I really don't like cycling and there's a hill, and in the end am I really in so much of a hurry. So when my bike got a puncture I started to walk instead. It's a much more relaxed way to travel and you can have a latte as you go. So my bike stood chained to the railings and aged... and aged... and aged.

When I moved out the bike was rusty, mucky and it was a miracle the wheels turned. Instead I decided to let it fly free and left it unlocked, leaning on a lamp post on Roman Way. It lasted most of 36 hours before vanishing. Good neighbourhood.

I noticed that there are lots of Roman themed place names near Roman Way: Cornelia Street, Vulcan Way (*), Jupiter Way, Legion Close, Centurion Close... Ecce Romani! Is there some Roman reason that this area is umm... Romany, Romanesque, well, you know what I mean, ROMAN?

(*) Where I did look at buying but it's really dodge.
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I love it when a plan comes together [Feb. 16th, 2010|12:50 pm]
Richard Clegg
work in progressCollapse )
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Intestinal peristalsis [Feb. 15th, 2010|12:57 pm]
Richard Clegg
Using muscles to move shit aboutCollapse )
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I'm in [Feb. 12th, 2010|05:43 pm]
Richard Clegg
Hooray, I have a house. I am childishly excited. I keep going around touching things and saying "That's mine, and that's mine." I have a shower and a washing machine and a hatch and a freezer and all kinds of good things. Tomorrow temporarily I will have a van and then all my belongings will live here with me. I just took a shower because I can now at any time without waiting for water to heat up because someone else has. Hooray, there's me, just me and nobody else. This is super awesome. Soon I will have a DVD and a TV and a Sofa. It's just like the sims only I'm not pixellated when naked (I checked).

It's so exciting. My local pub is that cool one with the stuff on the ceiling on Offord Road. You must all come visit.
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Connecting the dots [Feb. 11th, 2010|03:56 pm]
Richard Clegg
Nothing to see but this entry might connect my buzz profile to my LJ.
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In a right state [Feb. 10th, 2010|02:20 pm]
Richard Clegg
So I've been trying to find out what Section 133 is. I was kind of hoping it would be some glamorous undercover organisation, perhaps secretly devoted to saving earth from an alien menace but this is my best guess (or Google's best guess).


From which

Section 133 of the Housing Act 1988
for RSLs [*] to make the first subsequent onward disposal, usually after a housing transfer. The legislation requires the Secretary of State to consult the Tenant Services Authority before giving consent.

What the fuck -- Peter Mandleson has to approve my buying a house? I mean I know he's a big mover in the property market but still...

In retrospect my mistake was forking over the money without getting a house in return. I mean obviously I did not realise that this was what was going to happen but now having given the money and not got a house I feel pretty foolish about it all really. I mean, the money to pay for it really was the big gun in my bargaining armoury. Having handed over the money and not got a house I really have only a winsome expression and "Oh, pretty please, I'd really like to have a house" to rely on. As motives to give me a house go, it doesn't really compare to cold hard cash but apparently I've shot my wad on that one and handed over the cash without obtaining a house. Still, I suppose I can just pay off the mortgage, sleep on the streets and try again in 30 years.

[*] Registered Social Landlords
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Making a bomb [Feb. 10th, 2010|02:01 pm]
Richard Clegg
Oh yes. I nearly forgot a hilarious police encounter last night as I travelled back to Canary Wharf with Caron. There was some police tape down one of the back alleys but I assumed it was just for a stabbing or something so I just pulled it down and went through. Anyway, this led to a police man yelling at me that I wasn't meant to. I pointed out that we lived down there and he said I couldn't go there and there was a hand grenade. I was ready to debate the ins and outs of whether he could legally stop me going down the street and anyway it was more likely to be a hand bag than a hand grenade. However, he was less than ready for such a debate. Then we heard the other police guy's radio say "all clear" so I was ready to go but he stopped me. I insisted that I was perfectly capable of lifting the police tape up and going through but he said it was special tape and it took a great deal of training. In particular wrapping it around bollards was tricky and honestly, he'd spent days learning about it. In the end we had to take a taxi all around the Isle of Dogs to get 100 yards home which cost 16 quid AND the bloody tape had been taken down by the time we got there.

Oh dear.

Monday night in Dive Club I was teaching rescue training and in particular the in-water tow and mouth to nose resuscitation. The mouth to nose drill has a particular gruesome exercise associated. When the rescuer is giving a breath, for it to be effective in life saving they have to get a good seal around the victim's nose. To test the effectiveness of the seal we do the "dunk test" where you make the seal around the nose and then duck the victim's face under.

If the seal is done right then the victim is fine. If the seal is wrong the victim has water up his nose and this is quite unpleasant. Last night, in a fit of brilliance, the trainee forgot to make any kind of seal, or indeed put his face anywhere near mine and just pushed my face under water. As I emerged coughing, spluttering and spitting water from my nose, I heard him say "Oh, wait, I see what I've done wrong there."
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Frustration [Feb. 10th, 2010|12:19 pm]
Richard Clegg
So in a continuing saga... no, I haven't got a flat yet. There's something about section 113 and something about CLG. I don't know what any of those things mean. Honestly, I'm not sure there ever was a house. I think now the lawyers are bored with the game and can't be bothered to even invent proper excuses.

Friday through to Monday was obscure financial irregularities, with the Woolwich which I could phone people to sort out -- unbelievably stupid and frustrating but at least I was in the loop. Now it's just some letters and numbers that people can't even be bothered to explain to me involving a bank I had no idea was involved and a vague promise that something might happen by Friday.
From Scapa Flow to Rotherhithe, I felt the lapping of an ebbing tideCollapse )
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Adventures in filing [Feb. 8th, 2010|11:18 am]
Richard Clegg
So, after about two hours on the phone since Friday I *think* I've resolved my mortgage dilemma. In fact the story is relatively simple (relative to, for example, the proof of Fermat's little theorem or seemingly anything involving an estate agent). At some point in the process of asking Woolwich "please sir may I borrow X pounds" some bright young thing from Woolwich chipped up "it will cost you Y pounds to borrow X pounds so would you like to borrow X+Y pounds". "That seems sort of sensible," I retorted, stunned and confused by the situation like a squid under a strobe. So I ended up borrowing X+Y pounds, X pounds to spend on a house and Y pounds to spend on borrowing the money to spend on the house. My lawyers received a message saying that I was allowed to borrow X+Y pounds and subsequently sent some kind of official letter to the mortgage people saying "please send us immediately X+Y pounds that would be simply smashing" to which the mortgage people went "oooh, X+Y pounds he wants now eh? There is no satisfying some people, they take and take and take. Well that may just be a bridge too far young man because we only really were planning to lend you X pounds at a cost of Y pounds so this notion of borrowing X+Y pounds all seems rather suspect really." If you think this is confusing then you should try piecing it together from the fragmentary and puzzled conversations you have with people who are quite willing to lie to you if only it will make you stop talking to them. Anyway, my lawyers are going to have another go and try to get it right this time and ask them for X pounds and not X+Y pounds. It may well be that this will prove successful. Kudos to the young Sherlock in their Indian office who finally tracked this down (because I had spoken to half a dozen people in various offices who did not manage to track this down).

On another topic, I went to Gaucho in Canary Wharf with SO last night to try to cheer myself up a bit. It's very nice but very expensive and has more cow print than a column by Melanie Phillips. I've still never actually had beef there partly because even thinking about huge slabs of beef has me protectively clutching my arteries crying "crikey" and partly because I don't fancy extending my mortgage to pay for it.
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Surely you're joking Mr Woolwich [Feb. 5th, 2010|09:42 pm]
Richard Clegg

Sick of it allCollapse )
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TV Go Home [Feb. 4th, 2010|12:57 am]
Richard Clegg
I don't often do the "lazy web" thing as I'm a big fan of JFGI but in this case the tech leaves me baffled. I want to buy a telly and DVD and kit to nail it to the wall for somewhat under £350. I don't watch a super lot of telly so I don't necessarily need a 99" fusion powered beast. It will be used for watching House on DVD and occasionally Wii-ing on.

This thingum seems to do what needs to be done all in one. Anyone got any opinions on the advantages or otherwise.

Oh, and why for the love of cock is a TV measured in inches? Diagonal bloody inches at that!
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Man with a plan [Feb. 3rd, 2010|03:18 pm]
Richard Clegg
Stop me before I bore againCollapse )
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Guys on film [Feb. 3rd, 2010|12:14 pm]
Richard Clegg
So I went to see Avatar at the IMAX last night which managed to disprove my theory that any film is good if it's large enough and 3D. That's a pitiful showing considering that I'm pretty sure I would be sufficiently entertained by the test card if it was large enough and 3D enough.

Really though, as I said to twitter, this film answers the question what if Return of the Jedi was just the Ewok's fight the empire sequence and then it lasted three hours. Still, it made an important political point and I will only be using sustainably sourced Unobtanium from now on.

Afterwards I went for ladder curry at the Bangalore Express, Waterloo and my lovely girlfriend, seeing my pitiful face after the waiters sat us downstairs managed to negotiate a booth up a ladder. Ah... curry and ladders, together at last. It helps that it's also jolly good curry -- I had curry calzone which was a first for me.

Talking of firsts, I ate pigs' ears for the first time on Saturday night. Really, they tasted pretty much like I'd expect ears to taste... cartilaginous and manky with traced of ear hair. I mean they could have at least shaved them. Still, kudos for me for making use of every part of an animal. Actually, it would be quite cool to have one of those maps, you know, like people use to swank about how many countries they've visited... you could have the same one for how many parts of an animal you've visited. I think I've eaten most of the major organs and obvious bodily parts. Not sure I've ever eaten spleen.
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Hot enough for ya [Jan. 30th, 2010|01:43 am]
Richard Clegg
This evening's performance at the Queen Elizabeth Hall was quite mindboggling. Marcus Brigstock hosted an evening of events about climate change. This started with some stand ups I'd never heard of, went into a guy called Shlomo doing "human beatbox" http://shlo.co.uk/ (which was actually damned good, I always think of the madly irritating man off police academy when I think of beatbox). Then, if I recall the running order correctly, was a poet (very good actually) Russell Howard talking about testicles, broken biscuits in Aldi and wearing someone's mum's swimming costume backwards. This was followed by an interview with Ed Milliband and then Mitch Benn. (First line, "I thought, how can i possibly follow Ed Milliband? His classic hits, Fly Like an Eagle and The Joker... oh wait, that's the Steve Miller Band.") The evening finished with Shlomo and Marcus Brigstock beatboxing while Mitch Benn and some other guy played guitar for a version of "Walk this way". It's a seriously weird night when you get a radio four comic doing beatbox to an Aerosmith hit.
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Great marketting idea [Jan. 27th, 2010|05:15 pm]
Richard Clegg
Mobile phone company Orange should start to produce really expensive computers, laptops and mp3 players which were quite attractively designed but ultimately cost about five times as much as they should. The good thing about this idea is that reviewers would not be able to do side-by-side comparisons with the most obvious competitor.
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Floor in the plans [Jan. 18th, 2010|02:12 pm]
Richard Clegg
Floorplans galoreCollapse )
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The hunter from the hill [Jan. 14th, 2010|03:55 pm]
Richard Clegg
So, the housing purchase is reaching its end-of-days situation. The majority of points where anything can seriously go wrong are passed (although, deal breaking hassles could still arise, the likelihood is very small). Admittedly I don't actually know what the remaining stages of purchase are or what they mean. According to my super-whizzy system for deciding such things it should all be over in just a few days. I've ordered some cardboard boxes online (wonder what they pack them in?). I can't book a van yet since I don't know my exact moving date but it must all be very soon.

In the meantime I'm largely hiding in my bedroom like a teenager because mentally I'm all geared up to be living on my own again where I can prowl feral like Nebuchadnezzar in the Blake painting.

Well something like that but perhaps hoovering or cooking as well. So, can people remind me of the great things about living alone? Or just tell me their top tips for moving house. My current plan is hiring a big van and a few hours of brute strength.

I'm so impatient to be moved in now I wish I could just be put into suspended animation for a week or so until it was moving day. I bet the last days of Americans in Saigon was just like this (except with gunfire and helicopters).
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Are we living in the future [Jan. 14th, 2010|03:46 pm]
Richard Clegg
According to my spam filtering software we are currently living "Grossly in the future". Indeed it's caused some of my emails to go astray due to their unconvincing futuristic 2010 date. I know this will be a great relief to the_meanest_cat and vin_petrol amongst others.

Evidence that we are now in the future:

We now have CDs as predicted on "Tomorrow's World". Admittedly they're starting to seem rather obsolete and we only ever used them for playing music rather than covering them in peanut butter (I presume most people of approximately my age know to what I refer here).

Lots of people are quite fat as predicted in 2000 AD.

Robots clean people's houses like in the Jetsons.

Obviously now our earth night clubs look just like this.

I know, I know you were all expecting a jetpack -- but really, rush hour in a jetpack in the snow? That is an accident waiting to happen.
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New year and new things [Jan. 4th, 2010|05:07 pm]
Richard Clegg
[music |The Big Pink -- Dominos]

Well, I ushered in the new year in a rather low key way. So low key, in fact, that I nearly missed the bongs by thinking "there's just time for a quick trip to the loo". Since Caron and I were both full of cold we stayed in watching DVDs and sniffing. At least we found time for a glass of champagne on the balcony watching fireworks over the river.

2009 had some pretty cool things including some great gigs: 80s Matchbox was probably my standout gig (well, not counting appearing on stage with Coreline) but there were some excellent gigs by "heritage" acts Pixies, Bunnymen and Therapy. Alec Empire was probably the best gig I missed most of (due to not knowing the start time). I also became a dive leader and a qualified theory instructor and had my first major case of nitrogen narcosis. Work wise it was something of a mixed bag as I'm still having problems getting funding but on the other hand, am having my work published in good places and am producing research I am happy with. I also saw some great theatre: The Abattoir Pages was fascinating but flawed, Waiting for Godot was a tour de force of acting, A Christmas Carol as a promenade through dank and dripping railway arches in Southwark rounded off the year in a suitably festive way and was one of the best performances I've seen all year (and I got to dance with the cast twice)... Southwark playhouse is definitely my favourite theatre now. I had hoped to be moved into my new house by now but progress is frustratingly slow. It still looks good for me to move in by mid January though there may yet be setbacks. I did manage a personal best time for a half marathon but I've put on about half a stone in the months afterwards (for four weeks I was resting a pulled muscle and could not exercise much -- the rest is laziness).

My favourite memories of the year: running around the bay in San Francisco as the sun came up while listening to Florence and the machine and feeling complete bliss, watching lazy sea turtles floating about in "Cape Cold" in Brazil, startling a stag jumping across the road as I ran past some pine forests in a quiet village road near Oban and watching Guy McKnight from 80s Matchbox bounce off the sweaty back wall of the 100 club near the end of an awesome gig (and I'd previously been slapped in the face accidentally by Rachel from KASMS).

All in all a pretty damned good year -- I didn't get out to enough clubs and two grant proposals did not get funding meaning my work position is not as solid as I would hope. This year I hope to get to more clubs, get some funding, qualify as a full scuba teacher, get my new house (soon please) and maybe get to running even further and faster.
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Mind knurdling inefficiency [Dec. 18th, 2009|05:20 pm]
Richard Clegg
Arsing fuckbiscuits... so those of you who have been following my LJ of late will be aware of my increasingly ludicrous attempts to convince the Woolwich that I am who I say I am or who they say I am (that is a Mr Gregg Clegg living in a different house with a different postcode).

Last month, aware I might need proof of address, I entered Natwest to inquire about paper statements and was told that there was a small charge. I decided not to bother as I had some old statements from a different account which were recent enough for the purposes of my previous mortgage supplier Abbey. Unfortunately, my previous mortgage supplier turned into my previous mortgage non-supplier as, despite their lack of rigour in testing proof of address they had a surprsing and some might say over zealous rigour in their requirements for proof of employment beyond a certain date (going so far as to request two letters from my employer and then not believing the contents).

Anyway, this left me requiring proof of address. In a belt and braces approach I decided to get statements from Natwest and from Egg. Egg, the online bank, required me to print a form, hand write it and send a cheque by post. They're clearly embracing the white heat of technology those people. Somewhat more satisfactorily, Natwest required me to go into the building, present my chip and pin card and then the statement would be ordered free gratis and for nothing that day. My other choice was to pay a moderate amount of money and wait three weeks for a new driving licence. At the time that seemed a bad plan. So I went with the Egg and Natwest approach.

I sat back and waited... and waited. A few days ago I went into the Natwest to check up on the statement and was told that it had been posted on the 11th but it was posted second class and might not arrive until the 19th. Today it still hadn't arrived so I went in to order a second statement from them "just in case". I was then told that no statement whatsoever had been ordered but if I put my card in the machine today then one might be ordered quite soon and would be dispatched second class. After waiting half an hour to see a manager he showed me the screen where he was able to put in a plea that the newly ordered statement would be sent first class with priority. As, apparently, the senior person present in the branch at the time, this is apparently the height of his awesome powers. What the binkle and flip is going on with the world when the most amazing power a bank manager has is to request that maybe a bank statement could please be sent first class?

How on earth does the banking industry ever overcome their internal inertia to wreck the world's economy when it seems like the height of autonomy allowed in a moderate sized branch is the power to issue a request for a more expensive class of stamp. He had the gall to try to sell me a Natwest mortgage. I told him that I had not, at that point in time, the very highest regard for the competence of his organisation and I was sure he would understand that and that if my statement did not arrive with a first class stamp I would certainly be banking elsewhere in future. Given the frustration I was feeling I was pleased to be restrained in my response merely to that extent.

In frustration I went to Egg who very efficiently ran me through an automated process to determine who I was and were very efficiently able to tell me that they'd not received my letter requesting a statement but in exchange for money would be able to send me a statement which would naturally take seven to ten working days. It wasn't clear whether that was "to print" or "to post" or to hew from the living rock and carve into stone tablets. Either way it's bloody frustrating.
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All of our dinosaurs are missing [Dec. 15th, 2009|05:20 pm]
Richard Clegg

Twenty eight days to come -- hyper tantricCollapse )
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Mug shots [Dec. 1st, 2009|11:54 pm]
Richard Clegg
easterbunny asked me for "4 x amusing or intended provision of amusement through the medium of coffee / tea mugs". Alas I was not in the office where I could get any number of geeky in-joke mugs.

Mug shotsCollapse )
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Football? Crazy! [Nov. 26th, 2009|03:38 pm]
Richard Clegg
I'm a little nervous today. A PhD student who I pretty much acted as supervisor for has his viva today. We should know in an hour or two. I don't remember being this nervous about my own.

This weekend I went to a football match for the first time in my life. My SO is a big fan of Wimbledon. Not even real Wimbledon who apparently now live in Milton Keynes and are called MK dons but she is a fan of some fake Wimbledon football team who live near Wimbledon. Anyway, I had to go to a football match as reciprocity for something involving her dressing as a zombie.

Honestly, I can say it was a dispiriting experience with few redeeming features. Why are people interested in this weird sport. I admit seeing fake Wimbledon play York may not have been the best start ever and seeing it in the dark and rain near Wimbledon not ideal. Still, any form of entertainment where someone dresses as a giant womble to try to inspire team feeling has problems. When said womble then carries a wheelie bin around and beats the lid up and down to try to whip the crowd into a frenzy... well it's all a bit desperate. Also children kept coming up and hugging the womble (called Haydn and he is an official Elizabeth Beresford sanctioned womble like Alderney or Tobermoray -- two womble named places I visited this year). Honestly, children should not be allowed to hug wombles. They play in rubbish and I think they eat carrion.

Anyway, football... I don't see it catching on as entertainment.
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Gameboy [Nov. 13th, 2009|01:00 pm]
Richard Clegg
Phew... a few things been going un-LJed lately. Fortunately, I tweeted about them so they do exist as a legitimate part of history. I've been to the gym for the first time since my half-marathon. I'd begin to get a bit worried that three miles on a pulled calf muscle had done something a bit permanent but no all was fine and dandy -- twenty five minutes of fast treadmill work with no twinges whatsoever. While I was doing running training I wasn't doing any weight training whatsoever because I wanted to lose bulk so I thought muscle wastage was as good a way as any. This means that I've now got incredibly sore arms from doing a (really short) weights session for the first time in an age. Because Caron lives somewhere posh in Docklands she has a gym just for the blocks of flats where she lives. So nice to find an uncrowded jacuzzi and sauna.

Wednesday night was another radio four attendance (I'm so rock and roll) this time for Andy Zaltzman who really is extremely good. Definitely a series to look out for (should be broadcast in december. Thanks to valkyriekaren for tickets and company.

Dragon Age Origins non-reviewCollapse )
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Mixing your drinks [Nov. 5th, 2009|02:41 pm]
Richard Clegg

I love that URL -- first line The Conservatives were accused by the French government tonight of "castrating" Britain's position within the EU by adopting an "autistic" approach that would take Britain off the radar."

That metaphor is not just mixed, it's a cocktail. So do castrated autistics not show up on radar then?

Last night was was meeting SO's parents which was an interesting experience and unfortunately led to heavy drinking -- as a result of them being nice rather than driving me to drink. I rarely need driving to drink mind you, it's more like one of those medieval shepherds who leads and the sheep follow.

I had a really unfortunate experience last night with Waterloo station. Jorges Luis Borges', "The House of Asterion" begins.

I know they accuse me of arrogance, perhaps also of misanthropy, perhaps also madness. Such accusations (which I shall castigate in due course) are laughable. It is true that I do not leave my house, but it is also true that its doors (which are infinite* in number) are open day and night to man and animal alike.

* The original says fourteen, but there is ample reason to infer that in Asterion’s eyes, this adjectival numeral is no different to infinite.

The description of the labyrinth there and in the following paragraphs has much in common with Waterloo station (which I think also has a madness inducing quality). So, last night I left Waterloo station at 6:35 for my 6:30 appointment which was two minutes walk away. The seven minute discrepancy is accounted for by the somewhat crap nature of the TfL "Oyster Auto-Top Up" activation system which is a whole other cycle of madness which I won't describe here.

Anyway, I left Waterloo station by the wrong exit -- that is to say one of its infinite or fourteen doors not the one I was intending to leave by. As I left, I spotted that I should probably go under a particular bridge to get to my nearby destination. However, for some reason I thought that going under the bridge would be faff so I turned right instead. My actual destination was right after the bridge so I kind of reasoned that I could get the turning right out of the way and then do the "going under a bridge" part later. This, as it turns out, did not work. So after a while I noticed that I was quite late and didn't want to waste time retracing my steps so walked faster in the wrong direction. I considered briefly reentering the station to search for the correct exit but Waterloo station is, after all, very confusing so I thought that if I just walked around the station faster I would eventually get to the right place. Despite being completely sober and Waterloo station being both large and stationary (pun not intended) I somehow managed to lose track of it. Being worried about my, now excessive, lateness I walked faster and was even more determined not to retrace my steps because there had been quite a lot of them. Recognising a brightly painted underpass I reasoned that by going under the underpass I would probably get to somewhere where I knew where I was. As it turned out this was not the case and I was even more lost. In the end the two minute walk from Waterloo station to the pub took me twenty five minutes in which time I managed to get most of the way to Lambeth North and to the base of the London Eye. Fortunately Caron had bought something to read with her.

Oh yes -- settle a lunchtime argument. Is "corrugated velvet" really a thing or has someone just been sold "corduroy" by stealth?
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Weekend achievement [Nov. 2nd, 2009|11:58 am]
Richard Clegg
This weekend I achieved an ambition I've had for three years and had curry in a booth at the top of a ladder.

(Bangalore express, Waterloo). The final successful ladder curry was after three attempts foiled by ladder booth fullness, one foiled by dining partner having sore arms from trapeze practice and one foiled by 30kg of scuba gear.

For those who missed it because it was posted on Sunday -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmokvTsnVmg is a video showing us doing the Thriller dance in the courtyard at Fort Clonque on Alderney. Yes, we are doing it slowed down. Next year we will practice more and do it at the right speed for the full length dance!
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Alderney Zombie Video [Nov. 1st, 2009|12:51 pm]
Richard Clegg
Caron, Kai, David, Simon, Evan and I doing the thriller dance near midnight in the courtyard of Fort Clonque Alderney.

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Abbatoir pages [Oct. 30th, 2009|12:12 pm]
Richard Clegg
Nice to meat youCollapse )
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Fortress adventure [Oct. 29th, 2009|12:01 pm]
Richard Clegg
[Tags|, ]

Fortress adventureCollapse )
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Housing update [Oct. 12th, 2009|12:18 pm]
Richard Clegg
Well, I'm working on my shortlist for this weekend of flats to see. I decided against Borough (wrong place for me to live) and against the Studio flat (too small). Looks like I will be living in either Camden, Hoxton or Lambeth (yes Lambeth... perilously close to Lambeth Walk which I shall not be doing).
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Mrto [Oct. 12th, 2009|08:49 am]
Richard Clegg
So yesterday was the Royal Parks Half Marathon and my first ever actual race with other people. It was an absolutely fascinating experience. The race was much bigger than I realised, about 15,000 competitors in all. It began in Hyde park and I had to get there for 8:30 to sort out dropping off bags, getting to the right place and so on. You got a cool little electronic timing tag to attach to your running shoes which automatically gave accurate timing.

The event itself was really like nothing I've experienced before. Initially competitors were placed in different entry spots depending on the sort of time they thought they might get. I had placed myself in the middle group of five with our fetching pink numbers for the only moderately weedy runners.

The start was an experience in itself. Because I was pretty much in the middle of the pack, there was five minutes of shuffling up before I actually crossed the start line. It was a fascinating experience to be part of such a huge pack of people all somehow striving to do the same thing. On either side there was a huge crowd cheering wildly.

The run itself headed out of the park, down to embankment, half way across the bridge there and then back around the north bank of the river to Blackfriars and then back to Green park. This got to more or less half way. The course then wiggled wildly around Hyde Park for seven miles before returning to the beginning.

Naturally, there were a number of people in stupid costume. It was extremely disheartening to find that a trio dressed as vegetables were at the nine mile mark while I was still at six. Batman, superman and wonderwoman were also running as well as some dogs (in full furry costumes) and a guy in a sombrero.

After the initial excitement the first seven miles went pretty easily. I gave a little jump of excitement at the half way mark because I was doing a faster time than I thought. Because of my calf pull I was trying to take it easy so wasn't even intending to keep to my "less than two hours" promise. However, by half way I was quite a lot ahead of that. I had also settled into a lovely rhythm (helpfully consistent high energy music from XPQ-21 and Uberbyte got me into a great stride). It was really easy to keep a pace at that point because the "wisdom of crowds" meant that most people with me were doing a good consistent pace to finish the race at the right speed for what I'd done so far.

At nine miles though I could feel my calf muscle was sore and eased back a little but not quite enough. By ten miles it was really quite painful and I was having to limp run with people passing me on all sides (whereas miles six to nine I'd been passing people). At that point I was pretty worried I would not actually make it round if my muscle pulled again.

Around about eleven miles there was a huge monument to John Hanning Speke (Richard Francis Burton's travelling companion) for his discovery of Victoria Nyanza (the source of the Nile) and the sight of it really lifted my spirits. I had no idea it was there.

Mile twelve was pretty damn tough actually but by the final mile I knew that I could walk the rest if necessary but there was a huge crowd roaring us on to the finish. It was a real high feeling. In fact I can't quite remember feeling so high while running. There were loads of places where crowds of people were really roaring encouragement and for most of the race I was feeling relaxed and confident and just really treading on air.

At the end of the race I handed in my timing chip and was given a wooden medal. My official time was texted through to me automatically -- 1:51:40. Brilliant... far better than I expected especially given how much time I was losing for the last three miles. I'm incredibly happy with that.

Afterwards, I went to see rosamicula, bathed my sore calf and put ice over the whole area. It's just about OK now but I'm going to rest it up for a week anyway.

Thanks so much to everyone who sponsored me. I raised £660 for the British Heart Foundation. I don't know how much I raised for the Pete Fenelon memorial fund (I'm afraid I also don't know who sponsored me and for how much for that fund but thanks anyway if you did). It really means a lot to me those of you who did sponsor me. While Pete Fenelon would never have approved of so much exercise in one day I'm sure he'd feel good about my slumping on the sofa with wine chocolate and sausages afterwards.
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Plan with a man [Oct. 9th, 2009|02:36 pm]
Richard Clegg
So, one thing I discovered in talking to people about housing is that generally most of my female friends really like floorplans. I mean I already know that there are the obsessional freaks like menthe_reglisse but Caron (WINOLJ) and sara_lou were also "floorplan or I'm not interested" when I was wittering on about flats last night.

Naturally, I considered how to use this information to my benefit. Below the cut is the "photo" I intend to use next time I'm internet dating.

We're only making plans of Nigel^h^h^h^h^h RichardCollapse )
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Run for an hour and you're still not done, run run reynard run run run [Oct. 9th, 2009|12:27 pm]
Richard Clegg
So, I tried out my dodgy calf this morning with a gentle half hour run along the regent's canal (around about a three mile run) and it's OK. So, it's all system's go for the Royal Parks half marathon on Sunday. I'm going to take it really very very easy though because I don't want my leg hanging off (a severe calf muscle pull can require surgery).

If you haven't yet then now would be the ideal time to sponsor me for the British Heart Foundation or for the Pete Fenelon memorial fund. [If I don't make it round because of another calf pull then I'll do the same distance later in the year so you've all got your quart of sweat out of me.]

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On the Buses [Oct. 8th, 2009|10:24 am]
Richard Clegg
Unrelated to what I'm about to say but according to the Times Higher Ed, UCL is now the fourth best university in the world (ahead of our dark nemesis Imperial College -- where, actually, I wouldn't mind working come to think of it). UCL was only 25th before I joined so I think I can take a lot of the credit here. (University of York makes it in at #70, if any web co-ordinators from York are reading they will probably be made to engrave this with the blink tag in letters of fire on every page in the university site.)

Anyway, this morning I was looking at another flat with Gary from Camden Bus. I love Camden Bus as an estate agent. I know that's weird but they live in a bus, a real red double decker bus. How cool is that (apart from the possible Cliff Richardness of it)? That is actually possibly slightly cooler than being Hotblack Desiato. I know I should not be choosing dwelling on the relative cool factor of the estate agent but Gary races a frog-eye Sprite in hill climbs and once met Murray Walker. OK, this is probably not relevant to my house purchase but still, these factors have to be considered. The flat I saw this morning had frogs, rabbits and budgies in it but I'm assured they'll move out. This meant I couldn't go on the balconies to see them for fear of being savaged by rabbits but still, if I bought it then I would be a man with two balconies.

Lead contending flats at the moment are in no particular order:

1) The pricey James Bond studio flat in N1 (albeit east N1) with the underfloor wiring for stereo and games systems, sliding compartments and the Tracey island style sliding-and-hiding bed cum dance podium.

2) The frogs and rabbits flat in Camden (well Camdenish... OK, not really Camden... nearest tube Kentish Town nearest terribly confusing tube-like entity Gospel Oak also near Hampstead Heath). I would have two balconies and access to a bike shed. It's in need of some modernisation as they say... (or "either that wall paper goes or I do" as Oscar and I would say) also it's in Zone Two (fear).

3) A rather desirable residence in trendy Hoxton which is extremely tasteful and absolutely on the edge of what I can afford without begging on the streets (and possibly not even then).

4) A slightly more affordable place in a quiet council block near Borough Market. It's sarf of the river so I'd need a gun.

There are a one or two other places in the running too so we shall see.
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And that your honour is why,,, [Oct. 5th, 2009|09:09 am]
Richard Clegg
So last night I got back from a dive trip and started to unpack only to find that a "fun size" jar of instant coffee had somehow unscrewed itself in my bag depositing itself all over my clothing. "Sod it", I thought, "I'll deal with that in the morning because I am absolutely knackered." I put all the affected things out in the hallway and went to sleep.

This morning, as is my wont, I got up, pottered around a bit, made coffee and got myself some breakfast then decided to put the clothing in the washing machine. I also threw out the bag which was full of coffee (and which was beaten up and had holes in anyway). At this point, I noticed that my bare feet (I don't tend to put any clothes on unless I know -bat. is in the house) were sticky and covered in coffee granules. Ugh. Clearly use of the hoover was in order.

I did not want to risk trampling the damn stuff around the house any more than I had already. No time to lose, I got the hoover and started to hoover up the grains of spilled coffee. That, your honour, is why when my housemate (who unexpectedly returned home late last night) opened his bedroom door this morning to the sight of me hoovering naked.

In other news I pulled a muscle in my calf on Saturday night while training for next weekend. It was damned stupid. I got back from a dive, changed and immediately went for a run. I guess the muscle must have still been a bit cold from the water. About five minutes into the run as I headed up a hill I heard (and felt) a sudden pop and I've not been able to walk properly since. I missed Sunday's diving and am now a bit uncertain as to whether I'll be able to run Sunday.

My plan of action is Rest Ice Compression and Elevation and see how it goes. If I can't run on Sunday I'll be seriously gutted (not least because people have already promised £600). My plan at the moment is to give it a go and if I can't make the course then to do the same distance a month later.
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Rapture of the deep [Oct. 2nd, 2009|02:15 pm]
Richard Clegg
I'm actually slightly nervous about the race next weekend with only just over a week to go. I've done two 3/4 and two 2/3 distance runs and they all felt pretty good. I hope to get at least one long run during the coming dive weekend (Swanage, last of the year). Sponsorship is going pretty well -- thanks to all those who've given so far. If you want to contribute to the British Heart Foundation then please follow this link: http://www.justgiving.com/Richard-Clegg/

Now talk of diving reminded me of this.

My first NarcosisCollapse )
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When security isn't [Sep. 29th, 2009|09:27 pm]
Richard Clegg
I finally got access to my online payslips today. If you remember, I got locked out from seeing them some months ago because I couldn't tell the computer what my favourite TV program was as a child. Going through the online login system again I'm reminded quite how bang-your-head-on-the-wall stupid the security system is. You set a five answers for five mandatory security questions any of which may be asked by the computer examples are:
"What was your favourite TV program as a child" (didn't particularly have one)
"Name a celebrity you admire." (nobody particularly springs to mind)
"What was the first school you attended." (Answer could be "Carter's Charity School" "Carter's" "Carters" or "Carter's Charity School, Pilling" depending on mood.)

This is for a website I will log into maybe three times a year and, let's face it, it's not the end of the world if it's hacked. Indeed, it would not even make a dent in my afternoon if it was hacked (ooh, someone can see my wage slips and P60 -- the ones that used to be posted into my pigeon hole freely available to be stolen by the world).

The problem with very stupid people who design security systems is that they design the security systems under the assumption that the user only actually ever uses their computer system. To be able to log into their website I need to remember their automatically generated username (not easily memorable) a password I can set and the answers to five questions set by them which have no particular clear answer for most people. Naturally, I've done the only logical thing, made the answers trivially derivable from the questions and written them down somewhere (and somewhere I can easily access). It's certainly hacker friendly but it's the only way to get round this crap without dangerous loss of sanity. [These are the same numbskulls who do such regular password expiry that I'm seriously considering writing the password for the account down somewhere too.]

In my (admittedly uninformed) opinion part of the problem is computer security people who consider what will make their particular site secure beginning from the assumption that the user gives two tosses about it being secure and that the user will never use another site ever. Hence the user gets an obscure username and a password with umpteen requirements (over 7 characters, under 12 characters, containing an exclamation point a capital letter, a kanji character and a farting sound) which will be changed on a bi monthly basis. The user then has to answer seven different security questions with no particular fixed answer. There's no sane way to deal with that mindset, write the password down somewhere and try not to keep anything valuable in it or just email yourself a copy of the username, password and security question answers then touch wood, throw salt over your left shoulder and hope for the best.

If username and password policies were standardised then users would have a chance. Of course email address as username would be too convenient and easy. You have to guess a variant of the three or four names you usually try. "rgclegg is unavailable, have you considered rgclegg_132" (yes, I'll be sure to remember that for your obscure pointless site). If password requirements were standard you could make up a little rule. First letter of second part of site URL then d4v3h8sU! then last letter of third part of URL... you can remember the password for any unimportant site and unless someone cottons the trick you don't lose all security if one password turns out to have been entered into the forums for l33thaxors.org bulletin board. Try this and you'll find the passwords rejected for being too long, too short or upside down on at least 50% of sites.

So, anyone got a good system for passwords?
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Who would live in a house like this [Sep. 29th, 2009|01:40 pm]
Richard Clegg
My housing quest got off to a rocky start as rosamicula and I trekked out to a dismal looking estate in darkest N7 where even mobile phone signals did not want to go. We waited there for twenty minutes before deciding that the estate agent wasn't going to show and went for a nice meal on Upper Street. Later there was drunkenness, multiple double frangelicos and someone debating as to the wisdom of ordering a third pudding. Later I lost another jacket (or at least had it forcibly borrowed but she will give it back, oh yes) and someone who wasn't me fell in the freezer at Tescos.

Next morning I set off bright and early with Caron (WINOLJ) to look around a few places. To my shame I had to ride in a Foxton's mini. This is anathema to me. Usually it's all I can do not to break the wing mirrors off as they sit in the street. Foxton's... they're where Satan goes for a refresher course if he thinks he's getting soft. Do they deserve this reputation? Well, in the first property we looked at, three young ladies of (I think) Eastern European extraction were roused from their Saturday morning slumber for an unexpected viewing of the property that they'd just started renting and weren't sure it was on the market.

So I haven't found my perfect flat yet but a few near misses. I did see one which was eminently affordable because there was a copy of the Metro soaking up whatever was on the lift floor, the windows were falling out, there was water coming through the ceiling and really, it would be worse if it was on fire but it wouldn't be on fire because of the damp. I asked the owner what the neighbours were like expecting the usual "they're housebound deaf mutes who hate loud noises and keep their places immaculate" but instead was told "there are idiots EVERYWHERE".

I did see the one which won the prize for bachelor pad since everything slid out and zoomed about. It was a studio flat with the bed folding away like Tracey Island. It had a pull out wardrobe which at first I thought was just a rather peculiar handle attached to the wall. It even has underfloor wiring for the stereo system. It's pretty pokey though. Still, it makes the short list.

So far my short list is one which is too small, one which is too expensive and one which is in the wrong place. Oh yes, and I'm also starting to contemplate the possibility of Southwark as a place capable of sustaining civilised human life. I know, I know, it's south of the river when, at least where I live, south of the Regent's Canal is already a bridge too far.
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Fund-raising [Sep. 28th, 2009|04:08 pm]
Richard Clegg
As some of you may already know, in two weekends time I'm running the Royal Park's half marathon to raise money for the British Heart Foundation. It's an extremely worthy cause so I hope some of you will want to sponsor me for this here.


I'm hoping to get round the course in just under two hours, but simply not walking or dropping dead during the race is a goal in itself. Wish me luck.
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Plants versus zombies [Sep. 23rd, 2009|07:39 pm]
Richard Clegg

The full version of this flash game is horribly addictive. If the flash version is anything like as life-suckingly evil you should not click that link at all.
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Bounded rationality [Sep. 23rd, 2009|03:19 pm]
Richard Clegg
[Tags|, ]

As those of you who read tweets know, at least one bank is ludicrous enough to potentially think about giving me enough money to buy a flat. A tiny harmless little flat, somewhere cool like Camden or Hoxton or at the worst that grotty bit behind Euston with the prostitutes and the discarded needles. How wrong could it go?

The problem is that I am clearly in no way responsible enough for this decision.

The theory of Bounded Rationality is as follows. A perfect decision would take into account a multitude of factors to come up with an economically and socially rational outcome where one trades costs against benefits to come to a utility maximising decision. However, in actuality, one has finite brain power and a finite amount of time to make decisions. So even when the amount of money involved is quite staggeringly and mind numbingly vast (at least to me who still kind of goggles at the amount you can pay for a pint of posh lager in these parts)... well, at some point your brain throws its lobes in the air and plays "Ip dip, dog shit..." to decide. (This is only sort of the theory of finite rationality, I only had so much time and brain power to read up on it.)

Actually, now I'm at the scary "looking at flats" part of the experiment and actually talking to estate agents (don't worry, I'm wearing condoms over my ears) well I'm actually not even doing that well. I have a powerful, near irresistible urge to decide the matter using near arbitrary measures such as "Well, it may look grotty and not be in an ideal location but none of the other addresses are named after a star trek race" or "It may be stupidly overpriced but none of the other flats do you have to climb a ladder to get to bed"* or "Yes, but it easily has the wiggliest walls of all of them." The problem is that there's no actual reasonable way to trade off all the factors about time and distance and niceness. How do you weigh up ten minutes less to the centre of town versus more space for the sofa and less chance of getting stabbed? Can you really sensibly trade off being surrounded by yelling drunks against needing to redo the plastering probably or having late night freight trains going past the bedroom window? Would you pay 20,000 pounds not to live in Dalston? Really, you can't reduce these things to equations though other people are much more decisive than me and can point at things and say "that one is easily the best".

* As I just wrote in an email "a ladder to get to bed may sound cool but I would suffer horrific drinking injuries and die like Tycho Brahe's moose." (although obviously that was stairs not a ladder but the point is that stairs to bed are not natural for mooses [meece?] and ladders to bed are not natural for me).
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