Bachelor’s tidy

August 31, 2006 at 10:24 am (Freshly squeezed orange juice)

  1. Socks do not belong with bank statements
  2. Bill envelopes must be opened, not thrown away
  3. Socks must be hole-punched and placed in a divider file, bank statements washed and placed in drawer
  4. Lionel Richie should not be on iTunes
  5. Two bananas on kitchen work-top – eat
  6. Thomas The Tank Engine pencil sharpener – give to child
  7. Bamboo recorder on mantelpiece – nail to wall
  8. Bike helmet – on head. Then…
  9. Fridge (the subconscious of household mess) – buy new one with nothing in it
  10. Pic of gran – funny how gran became a photograph.

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Making sense

August 31, 2006 at 12:50 am (Spirituality dept)

There is an incense-stick holder with a Buddha outside my living room my window. I told a friend it’s there keep the thieves away. He said: “The two biggest Buddhas in the world couldn’t stop the Taliban”. And there went my anti-burglary device.

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Looking for the perfect man?

August 29, 2006 at 12:06 am (Double espresso)


A plaque on a bench facing the Thames on London’s South Bank. It reads: “Memorial to the unknown husband/ often imagined/ much desired/ never found.” My friend N. pointed it out. She’s a promising writer. That is she promises to write, but doesn’t. There’s a warning here for aspiring scribblers: “Memorial to the unknown writer/ often imagined/ much desired/ never wrote.”

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August 24, 2006 at 11:19 am (The office)

Must invoice the magazine I was at last week. Otherwise it amounts to voluntary work for a publishing company and there are worthier causes. Also, stop wasting paper. I just pressed “print” without noticing the number of copies in the dialogue box. Four A3 sheets I didn’t need. There is a recycling bin next to me, but I’ve killed a tree. Yesterday an editor made me recall copies of pages I’d put out to five people because of a minor headline change. Tree killer. I nearly bit her head off. After the Iraq war I became disillusioned with recycling. Imagine separating your cartons and bottles to better the world and then all that planned destruction. I had taken it up again, but then they attacked Lebanon. On a ligher note, a teacher, Mrs Hurst told me when I was 10 never to write “and then”. Then we spent a whole afternoon not writing “and then”. A few months ago, a section editor who I always see reading, handed me back a page reuniting in red “ands” with “thens” wherever I’d pulverised one. And then I thought to myself, maybe Mrs Hurst was wrong. She had a red face, a voice hoarse from the cigarettes she smelled of and once humiliated me for suggesting Buckingham Palace was a quadrangle. She laughed at me. Then, in a school production of Robin Hood, she allocated bit parts to everyone — I didn’t get one because there were no Arabs in the story. The only part left was Robin himself; it was me and my best friend at the time James Nelson. Naturally, James got the part. He lives in New Zealand now. I hope Mrs Hurst lived long enough to learn Buckingham Palace is, in fact, a quadrangle and that Robin Hood was Iranian.

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Edinburgh, city of culture II

August 23, 2006 at 7:21 am (Family & Friends)


A fellow blogger asks if I will write more about my recent trip to Edinburgh. On my way to see an overpriced show on Saturday, my friend Rich and his girlfriend stopped at a shop called Richer Sounds (no relation). I decided to buy headphones for my i-Pod (did I just say ‘my i-Pod?’) Anyway, the guy in the store showed me this £30 set ($456) — black. But I got white. When I get home, however, I realised my i-Pod is black.

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Over-reading Lolita in Tehran

August 23, 2006 at 7:00 am (Espresso)

Columbia’s university Hamid Dabashi has compared Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Iran, to Lynndie England, below.


See my spoof interview with him on

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Edinburgh, city of culture

August 21, 2006 at 8:06 am (Family & Friends)

Back from Edinburgh festival last night. Made straight for my friends Will and Phil’s house. I call them Will and Disgrace. Phil said the Swedish “lass” he’s dating was having swings. “My girlfriend has swings,” Will chipped in, “two in the garden.”

Most people head straight for shows at the Edinburgh festival. But culture is surely not paying £10 to see Oxford graduates cross reference books they’ve read in shows intended to be funny (by dint of the fact that they are posh, from Oxford and know who Iago is). Funnier are the two small patches of hair I’ve lost at the back of my head. What could they be? A tumour? Cancer of the hair? I’m not too bothered now. It’s the least of my problems. Maybe they result from too much meat. As soon as I reached the city, I found my venue of choice:


I asked the man inside, who was very nice, to hand over all of the minced meat in his tray. He said: “Are you sure?” I am 34 years old. I was sure. “How many you feeding?” he said.

“Three,” I said.

Then he plucked three small chunks of meat and placed them on his board.

“That’s all you need.”

For myself, I wanted to say. Then I thought maybe I’m being greedy, my stomach is playing tricks. I bought double what he suggested and took it to my friend Rich who was waiting in his car. He felt the bag and gestured “What are you thinking? Go back.” I went back, and amid much joshing the butcher relented and sold me the rest. Then we went home, cooked, and went to see children from Oxford cross reference books in overpriced shows.

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How copy-editing can change the world

August 16, 2006 at 2:14 pm (Uncategorized)

I got a chance to cane this annoying opening paragraph in a piece about radio in the Middle East in an ad trade title I’m working on. The claim about “generally the same culture” was fantastic. Bring on Bernard Lewis.

“Despite being united by one language and, generally, the same culture, the Middle East has limited pan-regional radio broadcasting. To date only foreign broadcasters have managed to provide regional radio stations, be it the UK (BBC Arabic), France (Radio Monte Carlo) or the US (Radio Sawa)…”

“The Arabic-speaking Middle East has limited pan-regional radio broadcasting, an area traditionally dominated by foreign broadcasters such as BBC Arabic in the UK, Radio Monte Carlo in France or Radio Sawa in the US.”

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Shappi Khorsandi, stand-up comic

August 15, 2006 at 8:13 pm (Family & Friends)


Dad calls, sister’s got a review in the Standard. She’s got some coverage for her show Asylum Speaker in Edinburgh this year, but this review made him really proud. He kept reading it to me. I said, “How do you feel?” He said I keep thinking of her as a child, growing up. I said: “But how do you feel.” He said: “Feel? Hmmm. When Khomeini was returning [to Iran from exile in France in 1979] they asked him the same question. He said ‘Nothing’, he got a lot of stick for that. But now I understand, a sense of happiness, maybe you want to cry.” Life has its good days. Shappi has survived years of us telling her what to do. “Be political, be this, be that.” Now she’s told us where to go, and we’re happy to be there.

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Super-man and boy

August 13, 2006 at 2:09 pm (Espresso)


Last night someone asked if I want children. No, I said, but I wouldn’t mind grandchildren. Superman’s pops had it right. Marlon Brando, who played the superhero’s father Jor-El in the 1980 film, raised his son with video messages from the grave. Talk about emotional detachment. Indipensable was the advice: “Never interfere with human history.”
If only George Bush Snr had been as wise.

(A recut Superman II is to be released this year)

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