The Compromise Of Art

I love my collection of Jacques Tati film posters. I like jazz album artwork, Soviet propaganda pictures and my own photography. My wife does not. She prefers pictures that she has cross-stitched from patterns. She likes pictures of the cat, pictures of friends and relatives - however homely, monstrous or misproportioned - and more pictures of the cat. I like none of those things.

Consequently, putting a picture up in our house requires negotiations as protracted as those involved in fashioning a nuclear disarmament treaty - except that picture negotiations require fewer translators and more shouting...and sulking...and silences...and resentment...and tantrums...

That's why I was so surprised and delighted when I discovered a bag in the dining room containing this.

It's the first picture Briony has bought that I actually like. I have no idea who the lady in the picture is but she's going to look terrific on the living room wall. Strange really, you think that after eight years of marriage you really know someone, and then they do something totally unexpected and bring home a nice picture of a hot girl.

Briony's out at the moment. I'm going to put it up right now to surprise her.
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Give me a big hand.

I hate to sit idly while using the computer or watching the television so, if my hands are free, I often exercise with a hand grip. It's good for hand and forearm strength apparently. Yesterday I squeezed so hard that it shattered in my hand.

Just call me Hercules, Hercules Fearns (that sounded better in my head).


Dylan The Dead Donkey.

Yesterday we received some sad news. A letter from the donkey sanctuary informed us that Dylan, our adopted donkey, had died. We never met him, but he wrote regularly and always remembered my birthday.

This prompted a rather bizarre conversation today. My wife mentioned that cats go off on their own to die.
"Like donkeys", I suggested.
"Donkeys don't go off on their own to die", she replied.
"Dylan Did".
"Donkeys don't go off on their own to die", she insisted, "how would they dig a hole?"
"They would Burro!"

Fortunately for her, Briony returns to school soon.
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Jonathan Trott is on Facebook!

Remember Federico Macheda, the seventeen year old Manchester United striker who scored a sensational injury time winner on his debut against Aston Villa last season? He suddenly went from the obscurity of the reserve team to become very famous and popular indeed. One of the consequences of his new found fame was that he received thousands of friend requests on Facebook.

When Jonathan Trott made his terrific England debut last week it occured to me that he might also get inundated with Facebook friend requests, so I got mine in early. To my surprise it was accepted quite quickly. I've taken a screenshot of his profile page and posted it here in case you're not lucky enough to have your friend request accepted.

If you click on the image, it will become bigger.

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Ashes Ashes Ashes Ashes Ashes Ashes Ashes Ashes Ashes Ashes Ashes Ashes Ashes Ashes

The 2009 Ashes series is over and, once again, the greatest trophy in all of sport is ours.

I knew the series would be a close and competitive affair - I was correct. If England were to win, it would require our top players to play to their potential. I knew that English success would depend on the performances of a fast-bowling all rounder and a big South African batsman. How right I was.

I've given a lot of thought to the appropriate celebratory beverage for this occasion. Usually I'm more than happy with champagne but a victory over the Aussies requires something special, something more pertinent. This evening I will be popping the cork on a bottle of New Zealand sparkling wine. Cheers, Australia.
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Beanz Meanz Urnz.

I went food shopping during the tea interval. I wasn't sure what to get for dinner. I can't imagine how I ended up with these.

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A Public Information Announcement.

I'm no scientist. Nevertheless, I can reveal that leaving the foil seal half on beneath the lid of a plastic milk bottle will not make the milk last twice as long before it goes off. It will, however, cause the milk to spill over the worktop and cascade down the front of the cupboard, where it will land on the feet of an unsuspecting milk-user who just fancied a nice bowl of Grape Nuts to accompany his morning cup of coffee and instead ended up cold-footed, dancing in a lactic lake.

That was a Public Information Announcement.
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A Kennedy Moment

In the first of a new, sporadically occurring series, I open my blog to a special guest writer. Yesterday, New York based architect Nicholas Kennedy completed the New York Half Marathon. This is his account of the experience.

All I could think about as I reached the six mile marker was how right my girlfriend had been. When I told her twenty-four hours earlier that I'd be taking my injured brother's place in the NYC Half Marathon she had called me “completely stupid”, possessed of an “ego like no other”. Apparently I wasn't fit enough. I had laughed at her then and said I'd be fine. Now I wasn't.

I could already feel that blisters had formed and there was a sharp pain in my right calf. If I'd been out running by myself I would have stopped by now but that is the beauty of an organized run like this one, you don't stop no matter how much pain you are in. I was probably paying the price for going off too hard in Central Park. I wasn't really expecting the hills between the three and five mile markers and now I was being passed at an alarming rate. It really wasn't good for my ego. I was going to come last!!

Suddenly I heard “Come on Nick!!” from my right. I looked over and saw Amber, Mike, Nicole, Scott and Jimmy cheering me on. Amber looked a bit worried but that’s probably because she knew she was going to have to look after me for the forty hours when I wasn't going to be able to move. Mike and Scott were laughing which was a bit harsh - they told me later that my shorts had ridden up - but it gave me my second wind and I managed to cover the next couple of miles with relative ease. The adrenaline had kicked in.

When I reached ten miles though, I was just about gone. Every step was pure agony; my legs were seizing up and the sharp pain that was in my calf now appeared to be all over. It's amazing what a difference a year makes. Last year I did the same event – having trained – and had a pain free event. Training really is key, it seems.

I had to hand it to those people in fancy dress, it wasn't the hottest day of the year but running a half marathon as Santa Claus can't be easy. That is how much I was struggling. I'd just been overtaken by a Santa Claus.

We hit the banks of the Hudson and I knew I was within a few miles of the finish. I managed to pick up my pace a bit and put Santa back in his rightful place - behind me. I was not going to be losing to him.

As the crowds got bigger I knew the finish was in sight. Did I have enough to sprint the last mile? Not quite. I did sprint the last 100m though, and when you have a few thousand people cheering you on it's a great feeling, no matter if you come first or ten thousandth.

I couldn't quite believe my time when I finished. 1:48:07, only seven minutes slower than my last effort. It had felt a lot slower than that on the way round but I guess that’s what it feels like when people pass you.

Having slowed to a walk after crossing the line my legs felt as if they were in traction. They couldn't quite understand why I was no longer running. My feet were trying to pop out of my trainers. No doubt they had swollen up during the race. As much as I wanted to take them off, I couldn't. I had to get back to Brooklyn and I wasn't doing it barefoot.

About twenty minutes after I had finished, my sister and girlfriend found me hobbling about. Nicole was proud of me, Amber was not impressed. She was not going to be looking after me. My ego could do that apparently.

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Thought I would post this before we play any more matches.


Yorkshire Wife

Briony picked this up on her way home this evening. It's very good. If you click on it, you can see it in a larger size.


Les Follicules De La Folie

I went to see Mesrine:Part One today. A fantastic film, I heartily reccommend it. I eagerly anticipate the release of Mesrine:Part Two later this month. There was only one aspect of the film that displeased me - Vincent Cassel's moustache.

More specifically, Vincent Cassel's moustache annoyed me between 1959 and 1968. After that *spoiler alert* he grew it out a little and it stopped annoying me. For the first hour of the film, however, it appears that Cassel is attempting to balance an anemic, over-fastidiously manicured hyphen on his upper lip. It's totally out of keeping with the character he's playing. It's not the moustache of a violent criminal, it's the moustache of an aging, prissy, pensions adviser.

Nothing in the history of cinema has been so distracting. I spent a substantial part of the film wondering why the other characters weren't pointing and laughing at him.

Here's a quote for the poster: "Vincent Cassell as Mesrine sports the most ridiculous piece of face furniture I've ever seen." - Marc Fearns.

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We do not keep coal in the bath.

Commercial Glycerin SoapImage via Wikipedia

A poll by tissue product manufacturer SCA has found that 41.1% of British men and 33.1% of British women do not have a bath or a shower every day. The poll also found that the dirtiest people in Britain live in Yorkshire where 16% of people bathe or shower once or twice a week and only 54% of people bathe or shower daily.

I am appalled by this and would like to point out that in the Fearns household we are in the 54% that bathe or shower daily. I know that not everyone is as conscientious with regard to their personal hygiene as we are.

A couple of years ago, a friend was visiting us. Briony and I took him into the York branch of Lush (yes, we have one). He scrutinised a bar of soap for many seconds before picking it up. He then turned to the sales assistant and asked, in a tone which made it seem that he was wholly unfamiliar with the substance, "Is this soap?" He was somewhat put out by her response which was hysterical laughter. He turned to Briony and I for support to discover Briony had dissolved into a giggling fit and that tears of laughter were rolling down my cheeks. He maintains to this day that it was a reasonable question because "It's hard to tell what's soap and what isn't in there."

Anyway, I digress. I just wanted to point out that we bathe regularly and that we smell nice.
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Twitter Is Down!

I returned home an hour ago to discover that Twitter is down. This is terrible. I need to discuss why Twitter is down with other Twitter users but I can't because Twitter is down.

I'm going to have to do something productive instead possibly involving a large owl, food shopping or the cat. I might even have to resort to actual conversation.

I'll come back and check every few minutes, just in case.

Update : No Twitter +1:47

Wife and cat are both asleep so actual conversation attempts thwarted. Food shopping stymied for same reason. Large owl updates hampered by lack of Twitter.

I have loaded the dishwasher and started preparing dinner. I have eaten some Grape Nuts and have made a cup of herbal tea. The weather is overcast. I may go for a cycle ride.

I feel disconnected and bereft of social interaction.

Does Stephen Fry even exist any more? Do I exist any more? Do you?

Update : No Twitter +2:13

What was the world like before Twitter? How did we interact? What did we do?


The Large Owl: Part Two



That's a capybara, a giant South American rodent. They can grow as long as 1.3 metres and weigh up to 65 kilograms. They have teeth.

In conversation earlier, my wife informed me that there had been sightings of these creatures living wild in Britain. I was disturbed by this information; I really don't need another animal to fear while cycling.

There is no need to become hysterical. The solution came to me quite quickly. What we need is a large owl.