The friendly crowd

I’ve been to the Kambar twice in the past fortnight, for Octaine and The Calling, and twice I’ve been amazed by how a place full of people I don’t know can feel so…cozy.

At the start of Octaine, I remember being the only one listening to karohemd‘s set of Americana. And even though the place was empty, and the lights were wrong, and the music wasn’t what I’d expected, still -it worked.

That might have been just the good music, and my tipsiness, and the appropriateness and pleasantness of the Kambar feeling like a barn. But what really made the evening was the way that Ozzy came over and started a conversation with the newcomer. As did the couple who’d been sitting at the back of the room through his set. As did half a dozen people at the Calling, people I didn’t know, or in one case somebody I didn’t know I knew until an hour or two later.

And the conversations were interesting, or at least ten times more interesting than the kind of conversation you expect to have with strangers in a club. Maybe that’s just because the bar is – thank God – quiet enough to have a conversation without miming.

The icing on the cake is that everyone there seems to be a friend of a friend. karohemd knows nina321, deborah_c knows daemongirl, Louise and Marcus know different generations of the Camsaw crowd. Better still, they all seem to know two thirds of the other people there, and want to get to know the rest, and introduce them to their friends.

Calling people, you’re all wonderful – see you in January!

you win some, you lose some

“During my stay, an out-of-work pauper in Brasilia climbed onto the ledge of the Senate’s balcony, threatening a suicidal leap to punctuate his misery. After security guards wrestled the man down, tenderhearted legislators gave him some spare cash and wished him godspeed. He was robbed on the way home”

– from an old New York Times profile of Lula

Pimping my sister

zoicinlove and daemongirl are in town tonight, and I’m taking them to one of George’s parties. Yes, nina321, I’m feeding


teenage girls to the lions!

More seriously, do any of you lovely people want to get together on Sunday for a communal coffee-like experience? Especially the strange posse of schmoozers who know Oakhamites and Cambridgeites, and seemingly everyone in between.

[incidentally, I’m sure everyone on my cambridge friends list would also be welcome at George’s party – he’s a big fan of friends of friends, and half of you know him anyway. Comment if you want ze secret instructions]

new year party

Details below the cut.

PRESS RELEASE, 31/12/2004, 00:00 For immediate release For interviews and

soundbites, contact Mike or Dan on 01223 328040, or


Cambridge students today issued a modest invitation to some other people to

join them on New Year’s Eve to drown their sorrows; take shelter from George

Bush, Tony Blair, and the horizontal fenland sleet; and gently usher in 2005

and the glorious new era of post-democracy.

They plan to celebrate the anniversary of the Cuban Revolution, 24 years of

Greece’s membership of EC, and Val Kilmer’s forty-sixth birthday, with

mediocre wines, shisha and excellent soup at 24 Priory Road, Cambridge.

Local resident Dan O’Huiginn (21) said:

“We’re hoping that people will bring intoxicants, strange and exotic fruit,

partners, friends, pets, pies, and their lovely selves. There may even be

firebreathing, or at least a big firework.”

Mike Lewis (23), another Cambridge resident, said:

“People are welcome to come any time that suits on the afternoon/evening of

the 31st, and there’s plenty of floor-space, and maybe even some beds. We

live right by Midsummer Common, so we could go for a bracing hobble across

to Quy Fen, or just down to the Fort St George, on New Years Day.”

Neighbour and Hills Road Sixth Form College student Rude Kid (17) said:

“I’ll be having a far crazier New Year’s mash-up over the road with my gaudy

ironic-trailer-trash-T-shirt-wearing friends, and will probably be riding my

Vespa up and down the street and snogging ridiculoulsy thin teenage girls to

the accompaniment of the new Papa Roach album played at full volume, just

like I do every time my neighbours at No. 24 have an important deadline.

Laterz, grandad.”

Novelist and critic Thomas Mann (129) said:

“Time has no divisions to mark its passage, there is never a thunder-storm

or blare of trumpets to announce the beginning of a new month or year. Even

when a new century begins it is only we mortals who ring bells and fire off


Notes for editors

1) We’d be delighted if you could come.

2) We live at 24 Priory Road, Cambridge. For a map, see

3) There’s no real need to RSVP, but if you’d like to get in an early bid

for the beds, do let us know.

4) Does this sound like a good plan?

All best, Dan, Mike and Rachel


a footnote to the last entry…

[from Bruno]

Church of Noise

I haven’t posted anything abut the Indymedia party on Saturday, partly because I was hoping somebody would have some photos to show you how unbelievably amazing the building was. There are some pics here, but you can’t see much in them.

So you’ll have to believe me: this was the most amazing venue I’ve ever seen. It was a squatted church on Tufnell Park Road. Big round hall, looked absolutely stunning. And so much better because it was being put to good use, and full of happy dancing people.

Good crowd of people too, despite the infuriating activist love of reggae. It’s not that I have a vendetta against reggae, I just wish there were a bit more variety. And something louder would have gone even better with the venue.

Hmm…doesn’t work without photos to show you. Never mind. In other news, off to see Sam and Sarah tonight, then Jingles or wherever else people are going after the 2nd xmas dinner.

Catching up

nina321 gently reminded me that I haven’t updated this for a while, and I thought I’d do a roundup. So let’s start going backwards, and see how long it takes me to get bored.

Today’s been a fairly pleasant day of work and semi-work. Morning of Pali, which I’m liking more each week, and really annoyed that I don’t get an exam in it. Then I spent a couple of hours this afternoon reading Ovid, after helixaspersa inadvertantly reminded me that of the existence of Latin poetry. The good part was that I remembered more Latin than I’d expected. The bad part was that I’d forgotten how tedious all the killing-people bits are. And the bonus was this wonderfully comic translation of somebody being attacked with a spear:

fronte tamen Rhoeti non inrita cuspis adhaesit

‘Yet the tip, not without effect, lodged in Rhoetus’ forehead’

But perhaps I’ve just been away from classics too long, and I’ve forgotten the particularly latin translatorisms.

Clock turns back another day….

Thursday. Peculiar, but very ego-boosting. I found out that I’m having an article published in the same journal as Stephen Hawking. (and Kurt Vonnegut, and Naomi Klein. And Hawking’s writing about international law rather than theoretical physics, and it’s not a journal in the peer reviewed sense. But it’s good enough for me!). And then, to cap it off, I got interviewed on a South African Islamic radio station. Which was nice.

The other good bit of Thursday was Alec, Rob and Dave singing silly things at Candle Club. Their college ‘rawhide’ is even better with music and practice, though I think there was too much noise for many people to hear the lyrics. Also, somebody played ‘zombie’ by the Cranberries. Which was wonderful, because I’ve been vaguely wondering what it was for years, and now I know. In fact, I’ve been wondering ever since I heard it about 10 years ago on a schoolfriend’s mis-labelled tape, which convinced me that it was something by the Crash Test Dummies. I don’t mind so much, since it introduced me to one of my favourite groups, but it’s nice to find out what the song really was.

Right. Bored with the past now (mainly because I can’t remember doing anything on Wednesday). Onto the future, which holds…

Tonight: Stay at home. If I’m keen, I’ll do some sanskrit. If not, I’ll put some more stuff onto Per’s cunning new website. And I’ll probably spend an hour or two pissing about on msn/lj/irc (so keep me company!).

Then tomorrow, I’m heading to London for the Indymedia 5th birthday party. Which


be really great: Penny Rimbaud, Rhythms of Resistance, and lots of happy anarchists (*). And my sister is coming down, entranced by the prospect of seeing George again (**). Plus, I should get to see some of the cambridge activist diaspora, who, with a couple of honourable exceptions, haven’t spread themselves anywhere more exotic than London.

Sunday: back to Cambridge, where we’re doing one of the ‘social events under a thin political veil’ that are P&P’s greatest talent. The veil is ‘buy nothing day’ (***), which is us stop buying things for the sake of buying them. The social event is half a dozen of us somewhere in the town centre, with juggling, face-painting, music, origami, rigged twister, and whatever else people bring along. You should all (yes! all half-dozen of you!) come along and have some kind of fun.

Right. That’s the update done – back to stealth mode.

* who, for the record, don’t include me. Despite what an amazingly large number of people think, I’m not an anarchist. I just think they throw the best parties.

** also for the record, they’re just good friends. And even if they weren’t, i don’t understand why people want me to keep my sister segregated from interesting men.

*** or as Josh would like it to be, ‘steal something day’. Josh


an anarchist, though not one of the anarchists who throws good parties. I think it’s what happens when you get your ethics from postmodern critical theory.

Dictionary humour

Yes, I know things are dire when you’re getting your laughs from dictionaries. But I have a supervision with a lexicographer each week, and I’m coming to realise just how depressing a job it is. The following is about the height of bitchy fun you can manage on the way:

KHUJHRAHA: H khujhrAHA khujhraha [prob. khujhra=khujra =khujla, rt. of khujlana, q.v.+ aha = S. ak+kH], adj. & s.m. Stingy, niggardly, miserly, sordid; — a niggard, miser (syn. kripan; ka njus; Shakespear’s Dictionary has `stringy’ instead of `stingy, — a typographical error, no doubt; Forles copies `stringy,’ and adds `ropy,’ in which he is followed by Bate!).

(from Platts’ Urdu- Classical Hindi- English dictionary. Thanks to John for pointing it out)

A higher procrastination

The amount of time I can waste on LJ is miniscule compared to the amount I can waste getting angry and self-righteous about Iraq. But I’m quite proud of how this week’s procrastination turned out, especially given that it’s something almost nobody else is paying any attention to.

Read my rant (or in Word format)

[the legal bit turns out to be wrong in detail, but broadly correct in impact. I’m too lazy to update it tonight]

Not quite a party

You’re all invited to a gathering on Saturday at my house, in celebration of the coming of second night of the new moon, the passing of 317th day of the year, the first birthday of the Iraqi ministry of the environment, my abandonment of Sanskrit grammar, and any more ridiculous excuse for a party you can come up with in the next three days. Or, for those in the reality-based community, the officially sanctioned reason is that we were going to have a two-month-overdue housewarming party, but were too disorganised to sort out anything big. So this is my mini-replacement and you are the chosen few. A few mundane details:

WHEN: this Saturday, any time from 7.30

WHO: you, and whatever friends/partners you want to bring

WHERE: 24 Priory Road, which is near the Cam, just behind the end of Midsummer Common. There’s a map at

BRING: drinks would be good: bonus points if it’s something other than wine. Snacky food if you want something to engulf (I’m not cooking). And whatever fun things you want to inflict on us all (many, many bonus points for anyone who does turn up with fun things)