Blog archive April 2024

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15.04.24 / 02 / goodbye landline

I just ended my landline contract. It was a waste of money. Nobody uses it any more (except for nuisance callers). But ending it feels scary. This is incomprehensible to younger people. A landline was a necessity and a mobile was an expensive unreliable luxury. Now they cost the same, but the mobile does far, far more for the money. The landline only does one thing, and that use has evaporated.

I regret buying a new landline handset a year ago, for the sake of my mother, with an answering machine - another quaintness (if only it had an actual tape cassette!). But I'd rather she phoned my mobile so I could take it immediately. You could see the way things were going by the fundamentally outdated design of the handsets - my 'new' one works like a mobile phone of the 00s, fixed keypad, tiny screen. I struggle with it after 15 years of touchscreens. The market for landline sets is now the elderly, and another decade will see the end of it.

So this is another moment when a technology that seemed eternal vanishes from my life, like TVs or tape recorders. The funny thing is the alteration to my sense of home. Home was where the phone was, tethered to a socket. You had to have a fixed address to house it, so you could be contacted.

15.04.24 / 01 / coffee at 4pm

I wish coffee shops weren't in the habit of closing at 4pm, or even 5. For me, late afternoon is coffee time. I've done whatever I'm doing in the morning and afternoon, and it's time for a break. Time to get out of the office or home for a while, time to take stock, to consider what to do next. Not yet the close of day, but the break before the one last thing that will run to 7 or 8pm. The coffee gets me through my circadian late-afternoon low point.

But good, independent coffee shops, most of them, see their role as serving the morning rush and lunchtime. The chains stay open later - not always much later. It's been worse since the pandemic, when many shops reopened with reduced hours and have got comfortable with that. There are a couple with longer hours, but my choice is restricted. I go searching in different streets, and they have all just closed.

Surely I'm not the only person working this kind of rhythm? It feels quite natural to me, given the way our working hours extend into early evening in London. A lot of people cling to the desperate hope that they'll go home on time if they can just power through without a break. I've tried that, but it's just a recipe for total exhaustion by the time you actually get home.

10.04.24 / 02 / clearing the bicycle racks

They’ve cleared the bicycle racks outside my flat again. They being the estate management I suppose. The sudden void is shocking. There are two left.

In a block of flats people buy used bicycles and then don’t use them. The bike is locked to the racks, rusting. The owners move and abandon the bike, still locked. They get bikes for their children, who break them or tire of them. These are left on the grass or path. Some people hoard bikes, two or three chained together, none used or maintained. When the management tie notices of removal to them these are promptly torn off but the bikes still don’t move or get looked after. Eventually as yesterday the management cut the whole lot off and remove them. There was a beautiful 1980s Peugeot, white saddle and trim, silver and stripes. The hoarder let it rust at the bottom of his hoard. I would have loved to have had it, when it was in good condition. What a waste.

I wonder if the ubiquity of hire bikes is affecting the hoarding. They get dumped around but they also get ridden away again.

10.04.24 / 01 / Grace movies 2007-09

Over Easter I updated the Grace services archive with photos for 2007, 2008 and the first service of 2009. This period also includes movies of the services, starting with Nine in December 2007 and ending with Journeying in January 2009.

The first movies - Nine, Elijah - are low resolution, probably shot on my new Sony Eriksson Cybershot phone which had a good-for-the-time camera in the back. It was the first phone camera I had that was worth using, even so it struggled with the low light of Grace services. The quality improved considerably for Lunch not included, Wounded in all the right places, and Contamination - I was now using a real camera.

Biggest regret - no footage of Ed smashing the piñata in Clean. Not even a still photo from anybody! I found myself in the balcony lowering the piñata with Adam, and maybe I left my camera below, but there are no photos from me for the rest of the service so I must have forgotten to bring it.

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