Brain dump

Tuesday, November 16th, 2004

This is not the sort of journal that receives fanmail. No earnest entreaties from idealistic teenagers convinced that great truths are to be found here. No breathless words of adoration from nubile young women wishing to mail me selections of their underwear. No carefully-crafted nuggets from ageing intellectuals delighted to at last be able to pass on the torch of enlightenment. Not even a request for a signed photo from a fat 45-year-old in short trousers who still lives with his mother.

However, I do get the occasional complaint:

OK, getting frustrated now. Where are your journal entries? I know you work nights but that is no excuse! Writer's block? I doubt it. Come on, I want to know about pint pots half full of lager and tacky Harrods at night.

Thus I am driven by guilt into posting this, simply in order to have written something.

It's not easy, primarily due to lack of sleep caused by a badly-screwed body clock. Tiredness doesn't just make writing difficult, it also makes it much harder to notice and remember things worth writing about in the first place. So, for example, on Saturday I was in a shop in Covent Garden choosing a card and some wrapping paper, when David Soul walked in and started browsing for cards, smiling at the captions. Under normal circumstances I could have written something interesting and amusing about this, but as things currently stand all I remember is a pleasant-looking middle-aged man in a long coat with an appealing smile, and an overwhelming urge not to embarrass both him and myself by thanking him for all the work he'd done to support Martin Bell. Most unsatisfactory.

However, from now on, I will attempt (as a matter of discipline) to make a post every day containing some or all from the following list:

  • One interesting thing that happened in the previous 24 hours
  • A photo taken in the previous 24 hours
  • A link to something that caught my imagination, apart from the aftermath of the US elections
  • An update on a writing project
  • How many hours sleep I had in the previous 24 hours, and which hours they were
  • One bit of interesting spam

So, to start things off, here's today's offering:

  • Tonight, working the sports and business shift for a major newspaper website, I helped out my colleague on news by agreeing to check the last editions for him so he could leave early. Inevitably, the entire front page of the paper had been changed and a health story had been replaced by a report on the alleged shooting of an unarmed Iraqi prisoner in cold blood by a US marine. I remade the front page of the website, editing a screengrab from the NBC video of the shooting to go on it. And as I cropped and optimised the picture to bring out some of the detail that would otherwise have been lost in blurriness, I wondered about the ethics of what I was doing. Was I really just putting up an illustration to a news story, or was I subtly changing the story by the way I was editing the picture, and by my choice of that particular still from the video? Given that I was doing this on the website of one of Britain's most prominent liberal newspapers, was I actually an impartial journalist, or was I part of the great liberal media conspiracy? I think the former – but it's an interesting question…
  • I haven't taken any photos recently, so here's the one I just mentioned:

    US marine in Fallujah, NBC pooled pic, distributed by AP

  • Here's links to two health stories that scared the bejesus out of me, even though they're unlikely to ever affect me:

    They reckon if you've used a computer eight hours a day for the last ten years, your chances of glaucoma are increased by more than 80% – but only if you're short-sighted. And haven't already died of avian flu.

  • I have a new screenplay idea on the go (it's sucking away some of the creative energy that normally goes into this journal). It's a romantic comedy set around the London Marathon. And that's all I'm saying right now…
  • Yesterday – Monday – I slept from 6am to 8am, and again from Noon to 5pm. Previous to that, I had one sensible night (and a 20 minute doze by the side of the road when I realised I wasn't safe to drive) and before that a run of 33 hours with just two hours sleep in it.
  • Mail sent by: Apology V. Narrative. Mail subject: Unnokwn Ceblerity caugh on pics. Assuming this relates to a celebrity who's been caught, and not some celery with a cough, isn't an unknown celebrity a contradiction in terms? The mail itself, when opened, contained a very badly faked topless picture of Shania Twain. That don't impress me much.

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  • Stuff worth looking at

    How the Cube was found 2001 General Election diary

I'm Andy Darley. Sometimes I want to say things. This is where I do it.