Research isn’t such a bad thing

Falling foul of a precious queen?

Cute, cheeky-looking Gay About Town Joshua Hunt, writes in his London Paper column about the perils of doing your research. It makes for disappointing reading.

Not Josh’s frighteningly concise writing (something I wouldn’t mind be able to pull-off myself), more the fact that in pursuit of boyfriend material it appears that Josh’s internet based research on his potential beau backfired.

OK, so maybe Josh shouldn’t have been *quite* so literal as to repeat everything back from his research, but still, the email he received with explicit instructions seems a little harsh. In fact, I might even go as far as to say as so incredibly precious as to not worth bothering with the individual anyway.

I rather like it when people research me. Go on. Go ahead.

Surprising discoveries

Life Laundry

There is a running joke-come-accurate observation in our house that I find it terribly difficult to relax.

With two weeks ahead with no work worries, a weekend in Limoges and a further glorious week in Portugal to look forward to, you’d think I’d been kicking back and watching all those DVDs I know Simon doesn’t want to watch. I could go on a bike ride and get myself back in the swing of cycling. I could even go to an art gallery or a concert or .. anything. Why not an indulgent trip to the cinema. Now that really would be a treat.

Invariably I find myself distracted by something unexpected, something which will occupy both attention and my time. I like to be busy, I keep reminding myself. I like to think I’ve made good use of my time.

So it is today. After a quick scoot around the attic late yesterday afternoon, I quickly settled myself down in the lounge with a large box of photographs the remnants of which you can see pictured.

Today has seen me buy a scanner from PC World and set about scanning numerous photographs from my past, a large proportion of which feature people from school.

What I find, 24 hours after I started going through a box of unexpected memories is that there’s a lot about my childhood I’d forgotten about, still more about my school days I had filtered out of my mind. Spending what remains of the afternoon using my spangly new scanner I’ve discovered faces I’d forgotten, school trips I’d blotted out of my mind and a strange compulsion to locate people who I now recall I did actually rather enjoy the company of.

All that from an unexpected desire to retrieve a massive box of old photographs from the attic which had been hanging around for years.

There’s more of this to come (oh yes, there is!), but in the meantime take a look over the handbook (click on the “all sizes” link if you can’t read the text) I received from the headmaster at the school I went to. Twenty years on I find some of the aspirations and instructions in this particular rule book a little hard to swallow.

What kind of idiot do you think I am?

Shortly before I planned to skip down the road to get some wine from the Co-Op, I received a telephone call from a man called Dayan Smith who claimed he worked for Microsoft.

During the call he advised me that he knew that the Thoroughly Good domain name was up for renewal tomorrow. I panicked, momentarily.

I checked on tinterweb and discovered that no, it wasn’t up for renewal tomorrow and that contrary to what I was thinking downstairs in the lounge when I took the call there was no need for panic.

Suddenly I saw an opportunity.

“So, why are you calling me on a Sunday evening?” I asked

“I’m doing you a favour,” the American voice responded.

“And you work for Microsoft? Is that correct?”


“What’s your email address there?”

“I don’t have one.”

“If you work for Microsoft you’ll have an Microsoft email address.”

“I can’t give it to you.”

“Then you’re story’s changing. Either you’ve not got one or you’ve got one but you’re not allowed to give it out.”

“Look,” he was beginning to get a bit worked up, “I was ringing to tell you that your domain name is going to expire tomorrow. I was doing you a favour.”

“But I’m looking at my domain name records and can see that it doesn’t expire tomorrow. In fact, it doesn’t expire for some time. What’s your telephone number?”

The “helpful” man in the States did give me his telephone number although I’ll confess I haven’t rung it. I can’t help thinking that I’ve probably been “had” and when I think of that I can’t help thinking of this little clip.

Film: Helvetica

There are some film titles which guarantee to make my eyes pop out on stalks the moment I hear about them.

Helvetica an 80 minute documentary featuring the a typeface used the world over for the past 50 years may not immediately appeal. But seeing as it appeals to my inner graphic-design-trainspotter tendencies, I figure there must be quite a few others out there for whom the opportunity to watch such a lengthy piece about something which appears so fundamentally dull is an exciting prospect.

We went go and see the film at The Institute of Contemporary Art’s where the £8 ticket price failed to meet expectations. The box office staff were full of attitude, the bar staff less than accommodating, the seating intimate in an uncomfortable kind of way and the man sitting to my right reeked of body-odour.

If that wasn’t enough, it frequently felt as though I was watching the documentary with a collective of graphic designers for whom every other line in the documentary offered an opportunity to snort with tiresome self-importance. There really is nothing worse than people laughing at things which really aren’t that funny. I can tell immediately when its going on and then it starts to wind me up considerably.

Fortunately, I did take action, something I urge everyone else to do if you find yourself in a situation where the entertainment you’ve paid for is in danger of being a let down. The tall man with curly hair who sat directly in front of me and the screen seemed happy to grant the request I whispered in his ear to move slightly further down in his chair. The man beside also seemed to think twice about laughing quite so much after I whispered under my breath (although it probably wasn’t a whisper) that “it wasn’t that funny”. Sadly, there was very little I could do about his appalling body odour and to point it out at the end of the film seemed redundant, if a little insensitive.

I did enjoy the film, however. Helvetica is a remarkable piece of documentary filmmaking. It’s stylishly directly, and effortlessly edited resulting in a visual experience which will result in you leaving the cinema feeling as though you’ve been a graphic designer for the whole of your life even if the job you actually do is something completely different. Amid street scenes and real life examples of the font itself, expect to hear passionate and amusing anecdotes from the film’s many contributors along with an account of the typeface’s development.

I know. It may not immediately sound like a must-see film. It’s a surprise genre and an even more surprising subject. Still, if you’re up for something a little different from the norm then be sure to give it a go.

I heartily recommend you watch it at home when it’s available on DVD, however.