Thursday, December 29, 2005

Bethlehem circa 1835 by David Roberts

Here's the incomparable Robert Fisk on the paintings of David Roberts:

When [He] toured the Holy Land, he was an explorer as well as an artist, a romantic who filtered the hot and crude realities of the Middle East through a special screen. As he journeyed on horseback through Palestine and then up the coast of southern Lebanon in the 1830s, he was an adventurer, staying overnight with the governor of Tyre, crossing the snows of the Chouf mountain chain to the gentleness of the Bekaa Valley where he sketched the great temples of the Roman city of Heliopolis.

In the world that he created, there were no wars, no political disputes, no dangers. His lithographs of Palestinian villages and of Lebanon, of Tyre and the peninsula of Ras Naqourra, of the temples of Baalbek, are bathed only in the peace of antiquity, a nineteenth-century dream machine that would become more seductive as the decades saw the collapse of the Turkish and then of the British Empire.

For today, Roberts’ delicate sketches and water-colours of Ottoman Palestine can be found in the hallways, bedrooms and living rooms of tens of thousands of Palestinians in Lebanon. In the dust of the great Elin Helweh Palestinian camp just east of Sidon, cheap copies of Roberts’ prints — of Nablus, of Hebron, of Jericho and Jerusalem — are hung on the cement walls of refugee shacks, behind uncleaned glass, sometimes held in place by Scotch tape and glue. His pictures of Lebanon’s forgotten tranquillity hang in Lebanese homes too. Volumes of Roberts’ prints of Lebanon and Palestine can be bought in stores all over Beirut. They can be purchased in almost every tourist hotel in Israel. They are a balm in which anyone can believe...

Extract from Pity the Nation by Robert Fisk. To read the rest of this great chapter, click here.

U.S Year in Review (Part 2)


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Happy Christmas

I'm off to Bristol for a few days tomorrow, followed by trips to Stoke-on-Trent, and Cardiff.

Hope you all have a good Christmas and thanks for reading the blog.

- roGER


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

U.S. Year in Review


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Adding Value

Editing and checking someone else's work today, I notice that in the midst of a 13 item list of tasks, one of the task names doesn't start with a capital letter. My mouse moves and in a couple of clicks the small letter "s" is transformed into a magnificient capital "S."


While doing this sort of stuff, I'm sometimes reminded of a coaches saying about the attributes of good tennis players:

They have to be clever enough to play the game, and stupid enough to think it actually matters.


My job matters.

My job matters.

My job matters.

My job matters.

My job matters.

Please believe me.


Monday, December 12, 2005

Ill Again

The vile pathological liar, Trisha Goddard

I've been ill for the past four days, and shouldn't really be at work today. But the thought of more shivering and coughing in front of daytime telly was too much to face.

Of course daytime television is a conspiracy by the capitalist elite designed to force the unemployed and mildly ill to return to the workforce as quickly as possible.

How else can one explain the presence of that charmless pathological liar, Trisha Goddard?

GUEST: "I was dyslexic, bulimic, suffering from acute anxiety and panic attacks and began to experience some sexual feelings for my pet rabbit."

TRISHA: "I know exactly how you feel. I mean, I've been there. I've been there myself..."

Yeah Trisha darling, of course you have. Honest. We believe you, bunny ears and all.

Back at the office, my colleagues are friendly and supportive, the heating is efficient, and I can keep on top of things without too much of a backlog.

And asthma be damned.

Just like the liar Trisha.


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Secretarial Skills and the end of Dilbert

Having a really nice morning – outside the leaves are glowing yellow orange in the sunlight while inside the job for today is to incorporate review comments into a series of help topics.
Which goes some way to explain why today I’m Britain’s best paid copy-typist (two fingers @ < 30 w.p.m).
This may be part of a new career trend, as in a meeting on Monday evening some kind soul said my secretarial skills (taking minutes) were excellent.

This, er... compliment reminded me of an ancient Dilbert cartoon featuring Tina the Brittle Tech Writer.

But then any time Dilbert is mentioned, this brilliant critique by Tom Tomorrow comes to mind.

Since I saw it, I’ve never bothered with Dilbert again...


Monday, December 05, 2005

Tennis Dreams

Last night, after shivering for 20 minutes or so before warming up enough to sleep, I dreamt of long lazy afternoons watching tennis.

When I woke, I was thinking of novelist Tim Pears' celebrated essay on Bjorn Borg, and of course *that* final which I was lucky enough to watch as a 15 year old.

As Pears reminds us, the end of the fourth set was unforgettable:

The tie break that followed has lifted the 1980 final into myth. At this time and place, with every other point from 5-5 either a championship point to Borg or a set point to McEnroe, the two men exchanged shots of courage and beauty, until they were not so much competing as collaborating. Each had met his destiny in the other.

Click the quote above to read a great essay on a great player.