About to discover the precise line between “Scrum” and “Riot”

So, we are now to work as one great big happy team of devs (and one unhappy release note writer, because all release note writing is a fight to the death against developers and their allergy to writing anything down). It’s going to be wonderful! And integrated! We’re going to document all the things! And we’ll all know what the hell is happening!

I am cool with this, except for the bit where we work in Agile, and Agile has scrums and scrums are meant to be super-quick stand-up meetings where everyone in the team summarizes their accomplishments of yesterday and hopes for the accomplishments of today and Tech Lead Two makes grumpy interjections about people writing dirty hacks and I type frantically while shouting at people to speak up and stop using acronyms because we can’t have a scrum report composed entirely of “mublemumbleACRONYMmumble???!!!”.

And this is a perfectly sound idea, and it works very well, apart from the bit where it’s designed to work with ten people, maximum, and we will now have forty. Yesterday I stared at P in horror and pointed out that my hands would fall off trying to keep up with that. He gave me the terrifying rictus grin of the man who has to figure out how to break this down into something that works, but needs another fortnight that he doesn’t have to actually do it in.

Did you see USA vs South Africa last night? I am the USA. I am about to be crushed by Springboks.



I’m watching Thursday’s The View. My desire to see what our politicians think they’re achieving over-rode my common sense.

I think my brain is melting out my ears.

I still have no idea what they’re trying to achieve (well, no, I know what they want, I just don’t know what they think they’re going to <i>get</i>), I am in the horrible position of agreeing with Gerry Kelly in his thesis that the UUP and DUP are making fools of themselves, (Gerry Kelly, the man who thinks surfing police landrovers is a good plan, thinks you are making fools of yourselves, please think about your life choices), and NONE OF THEM ARE CAPABLE OF SHUTTING UP AND LETTING OTHER PEOPLE TALK. I don’t know how Mark Carruthers puts up with it.

As far as I can gather, the Unionist/Loyalist contingent feel the residents are making a fuss over a ‘six-minute walk’ and should just ignore it. So it’s not worth making a fuss over if it happens but it’s worth causing substantial disruption to state functions if it doesn’t? Either it is no big deal or it isn’t. For the love of god, pick one.

And I really hope the new Chief Constable is less naive than he’s making out, because so far, every word they’ve said is code for riot. I’d really like if he’d actually enforce the law, too, but I’m not holding out much hope for that. He’s singing the ‘The Court of Appeal proved us right’ song. So looks like the idiot collectives of Belfast will get to merrily riot and screw up everyone else’s lives in the name of human rights.

I want to live somewhere where MY human rights are respected. You know, my freedoms of expression, assembly and association, all of which will be contravened by the police confining me to my home for the benefit of rioters, just in case they might have to actually arrest one of them and we couldn’t have that.

Scents and Smells

I have, on a whim, taken to wearing my perfumes again. Much as I’ve been wearing make-up again and forcing my poor ankle to deal with proper shoes, and wearing those nice trousers I bought before I mangled myself. I spent 2013 mostly trying to stay upright and getting trampled by my own life. This year is for getting up to speed again.

So I have started putting my perfume on of a morning. And because I am a creature of habit and I like smelling of green things, I have a solid stick of Lush perfume that gets liberally applied on the extremely childish grounds that it smells like the feeling of Electric Picnic and given I daily deal with people who make me consider setting my own hair on fire, this can only be a helpful thing.

It’s called The Smell Of Weather Turning and is all made of wood smoke and camomile and grass and it is exactly, exactly, the feeling of sitting in the dark in a damp field in Leitrim at the tail end of summer. Possibly because I bought it on my way to said damp field on the August Bank Holiday weekend and wore it for three days straight. It is glorious and I love it dearly, and I have to order it online, which frustrates me, because I am not organised enough for that kind of thing.

So on Sunday I wandered down and bought Flower’s Barrow. Which has similar camomile content, but is much more flowery – geranium and rose and blackcurrant leaves. I don’t like rose on me, normally, but the rose in this has disappeared somewhere and left me with geraniums and camomile and the North Coast cliff path on a sunny weekend.

Gorse, Cliff Walk, Giant's Causeway


We have moved house. We have moved house and nobody has been murdered, despite some extreme provocation.

We have moved from our plumbed-by-a-maniac, Bakelite-fused, 3-bed terrace built about 1870 two streets up the road to a 4 bed terrace house built in 1907 and now owned by an architect who when they bought it did sensible things like redo all the plumbing, strip back the original red tile and pale oak floors, extend the kitchen, install fire doors and put eight sockets in every room. And also left one wall in every four as bare brick, which is one of several décor choices I find mildly boggling in a house with a Queen Anne Revival frontage and Art Nouveau windows but am prepared to live with as a condition of two bathrooms, gas heating, sufficient power points and a usable living space. And Belfast brick is lovely and warms the light, if you’re looking into the kitchen in the evening, anything on the counter looks like a Dutch still life painting.

Mostly I love the frontage. The front door is TARDIS blue is recessed deep into the house, the step is tiled in red and cream, there is heavy architraving above and at the sides, there is a fancy scooped sweep between the gable and wall, the front window takes a solid third of the wall and is topped in the same Art Nouveau stained glass as the door. So is the back window ground floor, which basically nobody but the woman of the house would even see, as that was the original kitchen. I am a sucker for this kind of thing and the ghost of Charles MacAllister can come build me a house any time.

The windows and the fancy frontage make it a listed building. Hello Belfast, where listings are erratically applied but enforced with great prejudice. This is why the last time I lived in this street we had horrifying dangerously loose single-glazing, the owner was too cheap to update it in a way that preserved the stained glass, or in fact kept the house water-tight. Current owner has done all but the front room window the proper way – sandwiching the old glass in the original frames or close replicas and rebalancing the sashes. Apparently the reason the front window wasn’t done was that the glazier looked at the long-jammed opening mechanism, muttered something about the parentage of the designer and refused point blank to touch the thing.

The letting agent and I looked at it on Saturday and agreed that that the ‘you must open the windows and air out the damn house’ section of the lease could be overlooked for that particular window, never mind the condensation. It looks like you were supposed to be able to wind the centre top section of the window open along a long screw, probably to stop people carelessly banging the lovely stained glass about. The handle does not move. It hasn’t been painted over, and in fact has clearly been hit with every lubricating agent known to man, but it ain’t turning. We’re leaving it strictly alone.

I  like this house. I think we can function here. I think bookcases exist which will fit in my room. I think we can probably find Other Housemate’s bourbon eventually. I think the fan oven is the new favourite toy. I think I’m spending the rest of the week limping and I don’t even care.

“Shakespeare always seems to end, not with an action, but someone sucking their teeth and saying …

… ‘Welp, that went a bit to shit…'”

In other words, Mike had his second attack of the ‘I live in London and fail to be cultural!’ this summer and so we went to Othello in the National. And had dinner in the National too. Excellent food, very tolerant staff, and a collection of older ladies bemoaning the queue for the bathrooms with great hilarity and cheery admissions that they were hoping for the male leads to get their shirts off. 

Which. Adrian Lester as Othello and Rory Kinnear as Iago. Stunning.

The set design was lovely – everything modular and sliding in and out to give exterior and interior without too much faffing about. They made the logical follow-through of a modern-dress production, which was to use guns instead of swords, with the result that much of the final act featured those of us who hadn’t read the play recently enough jumping a mile every five minutes.

I honestly don’t like Othello very much, usually, because of the overwhelming idiocy of basically everyone except Emilia. But they played Iago as the complete conniving bastard that I’ve always read him as (because really, he’s a manipulative, calculating, jealous monster who is completely aware of what he’s doing, don’t try and get me on his side), which made everyone else falling for it somewhat more understandable. Othello remains an idiot, and his being an idiot causes the general cascade of failure, inspiring Amy’s commentary above.

I have a terribly low opinion of Othello, even when he’s being played by Adrian Lester, sorry. An excellent, magnetic idiot, but sweet god, just TALK TO YOUR WIFE, man.

I did love and adore Lyndsey Marshall’s Emilia (I always forget how tiny she is! She has such force of personality that I just didn’t notice until I saw her up against Kinnear and Lester). I really really loved the relationship between her and Desdemona – she’s aware that her husband is frankly a quite terrible person, but he’s manipulating her as much as he is everyone else and she’s trying very hard to be good to Desdemona, who is so, so young, and doesn’t really know what she’s let herself in for.

Spent a certain amount of the last act in a bit of a funk, but it was very much worth going.

“The jukebox part of the night is over!”

Took  myself and the visiting Australian off to the Black Box’s Open House Festival last night to see Luka Bloom. Because I enjoy random bits of his stuff and she was up for a gig sold with: ‘well, they put him down as folk because … oh never mind, you’ll see.’

We started with the compere accidentally flustering support, leading to some operational difficulties, since if the guitarist has to play the first three bars on his own before the flute and fiddle come in, it helps to have the guitar plugged in. Actually Luka Bloom proceeded to do exactly the same thing half an hour later, so I think the trio from Glengormley School of Traditional Music weren’t doing too badly. And they were absolutely excellent.

Luka Bloom is an entertaining and funny man in the habit of wandering on stage with the teaspoon still in his mug and leaping backward so hard from the feedback he’s accidentally caused by hanging the guitar lead off the mike that he knocks over the other mike stand behind him. I think everyone was just grateful he didn’t take out the guitar stand. He mostly veers between romance, emigrant songs and social commentary with the odd song about mermaids. He’d probably have been a hippy in the 70s if nice boys from Kildare went in for being hippies, as it is, he mostly hits a nice line between idealism about the power of music in his songs and an excellent grasp of what people are actually like in his chat. And has views on the turf-cutting ban.

This was a no set-list gig “I’m just playing what comes into my head and the next song that comes into it after that, and we’ll see how it goes” and requests taken (“Could you ask for things I’ve actually played in the last five years?)”. Which caused a row down the back, because Belfast audiences are just like that*. Also five minutes of deep confusion while the requester and Bloom attempted to line up what she was asking for with a song he’d actually written. Dear everyone ever, please do not ask for songs by giving a random line from the second verse, it confuses the life out of everyone, particularly the man who wrote it.

Post-jukebox, he brought Conor Byrne up and went a bit more trad, but he also played ‘Bogman’ and ‘The First Time Ever I saw Your Face’ back to back, thereby making the entire room boggle gently at the tone shift. Byrne is a superb trad flautist, which led to some shameless one-upmanship over the reels.

I wasn’t looking for much, he’s not the kind of singer I generally plan to go see, I don’t have a stack of his albums and I don’t have a deep attachment – more the sort of thing where you rock up because you’ve noticed he’s playing and it’s a guaranteed solid show. But he played ‘Sunny Sailor Boy’ so I went home perfectly content.



* Dylan Moran complains that Belfast is the only place he’s ever been where the hecklers footnote each other. This is possibly an understatement.

Ongoing ongoing

Thursday, went for check-up, which required the cast coming off. The plaster tech felt I was tensing up to much. I felt the plaster tech should be slightly less gung-ho about shouting at people to stop tensing up while he was waving a rotary saw at them. The nurse came in, rolled her eyes, and left us to it.

Consultant had a poke, hummed and hawed, called me a freak again and told me the ankle was looking as good as he could have expected considering what it looked like when he got to it, BY THE WAY YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE ABLE TO DO THAT*, and I could start putting some weight on it in the new cast, NO MORE THAN 25%, DO YOU HEAR ME?

Then they put a walking cast on. And failed to realise that just because my foot squidges up, you should not necessarily squidge it that far, so the cast ended up wildly tight and much misery ensued over the weekend. I stuck it out on Friday because I reckoned it was swelling from the poking and prodding on Thursday, plus the attempts at putting some weight on it, but by Sunday I’d had four hours sleep and my toes were going funny, so Monday morning, I rang up Fractures and whimpered at the staff nurse, who told me to come in and get it changed.

This meant much waiting about, because I wasn’t on the schedule, but I got the lovely plaster tech Paul, who sorted my first two casts out, knows about my completely irrational conviction that my foot is going to fall off and understands the need for my toes to be free. He also made me take my other shoe and sock off so he could make sure my foot was lined up properly for standing in the cast, which makes him a) a genius and b) my hero.

So now I am staggering around making utterly wussy attempts to put weight on my ankle. A walking cast is essentially what I had before with an extra layer of fibreglass around the bottom and an obnoxiously heavy velcro shoe thing to protect the bottom. It takes an astonishing amount of concentration and I overheat and get exhausted incredibly fast when I try it outside. It’s also incredibly sore – not when I’m doing it, but when I sit back down and get my foot up again. I’m hyper aware of the ligaments I tore, especially the one to my second smallest toe, which is making its opinions known every time I put my socks on.

I’ve been sent a care parcel filled with books and floofy socks from the Londiniums and am working my way through it. My peanut gallery may have a collectively evil sense of humour, but they know their floofy socks. My mum recommended a gilet with a hood instead of my big winter coat to solve the overheating issue, so I bought a nice deep pink one with a fluffy trim and it arrives tomorrow. I’m very glad I didn’t ditch all my big flared jeans before Christmas, as I was tempted to do, they’re about all I’ve got that goes over the cast and have pockets. This is what happens when your default wardrobe is skinny jeans and knee boots. You buy three pairs of nice work trousers and YOUR FOOT FALLS OFF.

*He’s taking the fact I completely dislocated my ankle without breaking it surprisingly personally. I have slightly broken a senior orthopaedic consultant. Yay?