I’ve just spent a couple of hours tonight looking for an alternative to Google mail. I say ‘spent’ and not ‘wasted’ deliberately, although I have to admit that this isn’t the first evening I’ve been looking at other people’s experiences of getting off Google.
To think, only a few years ago, I was dismissive of an ex-colleague’s paranoia about Google and its hold on our data. I still think it’s somewhat paranoid to think that Google is snooping on me in the sense of me being spied on, but it’s no secret that they – and other organisations, not least a current client – look at how our use of the web for commercial purposes. That’s something we’ve opted into but it’s something I’m looking actively to opt out of now.
I believe that Google believes it still operates under the ‘Don’t be evil’ mantra. I just think it has a very different definition of ‘evil’ to me and for that reason, I’m trying to extricate myself from its clutches. It’s not going to be easy (and I guess that’s part of the problem) but I’ve got to start now. The funny thing is, it’s a technical issue rather than an overt privacy concern that’s spurred me on. The Mail app in Mavericks just doesn’t play nicely with email hosted on Google. Now it’s most likely that it’s Apple’s fault for introducing bugs into the latest version of Mail but such is my negative view of Google now that part of me suspects Google has done something to break things in order to force people onto the webmail interface where it can push ads. I realise that that’s most likely to be a completely unreasonable suspicion but the net effect is still to wake me up to the fact that I’m too tied into Google and need to get out.
Post title lyric taken from The Police – Every Breath You Take
A’s school had their Christmas concert today. Well, strictly speaking, it was just Year 2 who had their Christmas concert. It was a straightforward affair, involving lots of carols and Christmas songs, held outside the pre-prep building. We were blessed with a nice dry day and, really, it was pretty much perfect.
I did take a photo but I didn’t have a good angle so it’s not really worth putting up. Anyway, apparently taking photos prevents you from remembering things properly, so I’m glad my enjoyment of the concert wasn’t disturbed by thoughts about getting the perfect picture.
This is the scene that greeted me when I went to make A’s bed this morning. This is just a fraction of the cuddly toys she owns, by the way.
Today we went to P’s work Christmas party. It was a full-on Christmas fair, with rides, funfair games and food stalls, as well as a couple of auditoriums screening Christmas films for the kids. A had the joy of having me on the carousel next to her since it was free of charge. (I don’t want to appear massively tight, but when it’s £2.50 per person for one of these rides, it’s rare for anyone but the child to go on.) I have to admit it was fun going round with her. A and P went on a giant slide (branded as a toboggan run but it basically a huge inflatable slide that you went down on in a dinghy kind of thing) and managed to separate from their dinghy. Once I’ve worked out how to upload the video with appropriate slow motion effect I’ll whack it up here.
I may not be a fan of working in big corporations but there are benefits. Got to hand it to P’s employers: they put on a good party.
Went to see The Leisure Society on Thursday, at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire. It was the third time this year that I’d seen them. Not bad, considering I’d only really got into them around this time last year. First time I saw them was in April at Queen Elizabeth Hall, in a very well mannered and civilised seated gig. Second time was at Festival Number 6. So this time round was the first time of seeing The Leisure Society at a ‘proper’ gig venue and it was as enjoyable as the other times I saw them. (That’s a good thing – I’m not damning with faint praise.)
The Leisure Society ran a competition recently, asking fans to make a video to go with the new single ‘Tearing the Arches Down’. The winning video was shown while the band played the song live and I have to admit to being pretty impressed, so here it is…
Yes, I know I profess not to “do the whole public RIP thing” but I couldn’t really let the death of Nelson Mandela pass without comment.
As a kid growing up in the 70s and 80s, I was well aware of Nelson Mandela and the politics around how the UK related to South Africa. How could you not be aware when The Specials’ Nelson Mandela was played so much? It’s wrong to suggest that music alone can cure the world’s ills – and it’s easy, though wrong, to mock the likes of Bono et al – but as a young child, that song raised my awareness to an extent that I was curious to find out about Nelson Mandela and why people were singing a protest song for him. Without that song? Maybe I’d still eventually become aware but my response may have been affected by growing up in a horrifically Conservative (capital C deliberate) environment. Yet somehow I still knew that Thatcher’s appeasement of apartheid was wrong. I also knew the cricketers who went on the ‘rebel tours’ of South Africa were wrong, even though they (and my schoolfriends) tried to plead that politics shouldn’t mix with sport. I remember being lightly mocked for suggesting we boycott fruit from South Africa. Looking back at this, it may be responsible for my oversensitivity to things that are important to me being ignored. (Current bugbear: recycling.)
P and I honeymooned in South Africa. You can’t go to South Africa with all that history – which is still recent; apartheid wasn’t abolished officially until 1990 – and not try to educate yourself to some extent so, of course, we visited Robben Island. Our guide – as they all are, I believe – was a former prisoner. I was struck by how, despite his anger at his and his family’s treatment, our guide followed Nelson Mandela’s lead in seeking reconciliation over revenge. I could tell in our guide’s voice, especially when he was telling us a story about how his father was killed by a white man who is now a very rich and successful businessman, profiting from the reconciliation, that he would still like revenge but out of respect to Mandela has suppressed those very understandable and personal feelings for the sake of a nation. If it wasn’t for Mandela, South Africa could well be in a horrible civil war, with a nation still divided according to skin colour. That he persuaded the people who suffered decades of horrific oppression to put that behind them and focus on building the future is amazing. There’s still work to do, of course, but what a start Mandela’s given them.
I was explaining to A the other day about Gandhi and what a great man he was. After hearing the news of Nelson Mandela’s death, I resolved to try and tell her about Mandela’s achievements. This, from the Guardian’s report, informed me that there’s an even more direct link between Mandela and Gandhi than both being incredible leaders:
Manmohan Singh, the Indian prime minister, referenced his country’s own independence leader, Gandhi. “A giant among men has passed away. This is as much India’s loss as South Africa’s. He was a true Gandhian. His life and work will remain a source of eternal inspiration for generations to come. I join all those who are praying for his soul.” Gandhi spent formative years as a political activist in South Africa and Mandela knew Gandhi’s son Manilal, historians pointed out.
I’d list the full title of the article on Distractify.com that I want to link to but it’s in that ridiculous title case that Americans are so fond of and I can’t be bothered correct it to a real sentence. Still worth a look, though.
Redditor Tatsputin flies out of state for work for about ten days each month. His kids create drawings for him, and while he’s away, he colors them in.
Similar to why you shouldn’t interrupt a writer.
Alternative title: why open plan offices are hell.
P and I managed a rare night out in town on our own last night, going to the Adelphi Theatre to watch the Rocks with Laughter charity comedy show in aid of the Royal Free Charity. It was only the charitable aspect that made feel it was OK to fork out the eye-wateringly high price for each ticket (yep, the price in the ticket above is how much one ticket cost) but it was worth it as I laughed so much by cheeks ached by the end of the night. Highlights for me were Matt Lucas (who was compering the evening), Harry Hill, Barry and Stuart (a comedy magic act I’d never heard of tonight, although given my advancing years and narrow cultural outlook that doesn’t mean an awful lot), and Smashie and Nicey. Best of all, though, was seeing the League of Gentlemen, performing together for the first time in 8 years. I’m seriously thinking of downloading (legally) the complete League of Gentlemen TV series and losing a weekend to it.
P was watching X Factor last night so I had to listen to real music to cleanse my ears. Went back to an old favourite from university days, Belly’s debut album, Star.
Loved having Slow Dog blasting through the earphones again.
Stuart Maconie on fine form in his article for New Statesman, How to write about the north:
Never forget that the north of England is essentially comic. You may be tempted to overlook this in favour of a nuanced account of how it was the Victorian industrial powerhouse that shaped the world’s economies and politics – but this would be a mistake.
I was working up in London today and took the opportunity to drop by Tate Modern. I took the photo above from the balcony on the 3rd(?) floor, mainly out of habit. The thought struck me, though, that I wasn’t massively fussed about the view, despite St. Paul’s dome being clearly visible. I guess that’s the thing about being an inhabitant of one of the world’s great cities – it’s all too easy to be blasé about what’s on your own doorstep. But even being aware of that didn’t help me to appreciate London with new eyes; it just made me a bit sad about the loss of wonder.
Post title lyric taken from The Jam – Strange Town