Subversive pop

I’ve being experimenting with Huffty’s radio/cd/media player system over the last couple of days and found myself listening to a number of Elvis Costello albums I’ve haven’t played for a while. A couple of the tracks, Radio, Radio and The Other Side of Summer reminded me of an interview I heard a couple of decades ago (at least!) on subversive pop – a term I seem to think was coined or at least used a lot by Nick Lowe. The idea is that you hide subversive lyrics in what, on the face of it, appears to be just a pop song.

Radio, radio is great example of subversive pop. It has an upbeat, catchy tune and the opening lyrics to the song are fairly innocuous. Just long enough for a radio DJ to put it on, fade it down in their headphones and think about the next track they’re going to put on or person they’re about to interview. The song ends with the (repeated) lyrics “marvellous radio, wonderful radio, radio radio …”, so this is what the DJ will hear as they fade the track back up on their monitors. However, the whole song is really a vicious attack on (particularly American) radio stations, the media in general, sound bite culture and the political conservatism of their owners.

“You either shut up or get cut up;
they don’t wanna hear about it.
It’s only inches on the reel-to-reel.
And the radio is in the hands of such a lot of fools
trying to anaesthetise the way that you feel”


Correlation – or cause and effect?

I’ve just noticed something interesting on the eTMA system for this year’s course.  And before anyone asks, I’ve just checked to see if my mark for TMA06 is back, which of course it can’t be because the submission deadline hasn’t passed yet, but it doesn’t stop me checking. I’m not obsessed at all. Definitely not.

My assignment scores are strongly correlated to the time of day I submitted them. My lowest assignment score was submitted earliest at about 6.20pm; my highest score was submitted latest at about 10.30pm. I hadn’t noticed this before I submitted TMA06, but on that basis it should get my second highest mark – which would be very nice indeed with respect to my OCAS score!

I’m hoping that this really is cause and effect at work – rather than just one of those weird correlations. If so, on next year’s course, I’ll be submitting them all at 11.59pm …


ED209 TMA06 – all done

I finally got around to finishing the final ED209 TMA today. Yesterday, when I thought I’d finished, I had a report of 2,365 words. It’s now 1,999 1,995 words – 1 5 words under the limit!

Rather than lose whole chunks of effort in an edit, I decided instead to have a go at working through it to see if I could prune 365 words without changing the content of what I was saying. I think I’ve succeeded, but possibly at the cost of readability.

Still, it is the last one and to misuse Winnicott’s concept of ‘good enough’ parenting, I’ve decided this TMA is probably ‘good enough’. One more read through later on with a glass of wine to make sure I’ve not left anything silly in (or missed anything silly out, like a reference) and its gone.

I’m going to be away at the start of this week for work, so book 4 and the associated readings for the ‘Children and the legal system’ chapter will be coming with me. I can’t say I’m really looking forward to having to prepare a seen examination question on it. I think I’d rather just get on with revising the rest of the course. But, it will certainly be a different experience to what I’ve had to do for exams before. Onwards and upwards …

Huffty – First Impressions

I picked up Huffty from Beechdale, the Alfa dealers in Derby at lunchtime on Tuesday. She looked absolutely gorgeous in the showroom and I was very happy when I drove her away. The first trip was a little under 2 miles, back to the office. And then the heavens opened. And they seem to have stayed open ever since. So even with less than 200 miles on the clock she’s filthy. She needs a good wash so I can take pictures of her before someone runs a supermarket trolley into her!

So something else to do this weekend along with working on my ED209 chosen topic, finishing TMA06, starting to figure out what and how to revise for the exam in October, sorting the gardening out (hedge needs cutting, lawn needs cutting again if it’s dry, vegetable garden at Mum’s needs sorting), other chores … sigh. At some point I’ll hopefully get the chance to enjoy driving her somewhere nice! At the moment, it looks like Bracknell will have to do on Monday morning for work. Definitely not nice.

I did get to drive her to Telford and back this afternoon and I’ve finally just about figured out the Blue&Me system in the car tonight (it looks after the audio system and the hands-free bluetooth connection for my ‘phone) and all the buttons to press to make it do things or the commands to shout at it. Yes, Huffty takes orders from me and talks back to me to let me know that she can’t understand what I’m trying to say. A bit like the wife really, except the part about taking orders that is. (I take the orders round here). The command ‘Settings’ seems to give her particular difficulties (Huffty that is, not my wife) – unless I pronounce it as ‘Sett….tinggs’ with a noticeable pause between the two syllables.

If the weather’s decent this weekend I’ll have to take some photographs of her. This is, after all, the first brand new car I’ve bought in more than 20 years, so you’ll have to forgive me my excitement.

Right, I’m off to read the manual a bit more. Parts of it remind me of  and have me all nostalgic for the manual of my first computer, a Sharp MZ80K. That appeared to have been translated from Japanese into English by someone who only understood German. The MiTo manuals seem to have gone through a similar route – except this time it looks like they been translated from Italian into English by someone who only understands Japanese.

Huffty arrives on Tuesday

Now that I know the registration mark of my new car, it has to have a name based on it. So it’s going to be called Huffty – despite pleas from the women of the house to name it something a little more Italian.

There’s a heartwarming story in the Crewe and Nantwich Guardian about a MiTo and a bride to be. Either that, or it’s a very cleverly placed piece of advertising for the Mangoletsi dealership and her husband to be’s business The Leather Suite Warehouse.

The stress of waiting for GCSE results is finally over in our house now as well – Jess passed all 10 she took with flying colours – two being at A*. Now if only I could manage to get TMA06 finished I could concentrate on revising for the ED209 exam in October. I’ve got a lot to live up to following the success of my daughters this year!

Queuing as an art form

I spent four hours on Saturday morning queuing for something I wasn’t sure I really wanted to see. We were stopping with friends who live near Bristol and it seemed like a good idea on Friday evening (after a bottle of wine or two) to go and see Banksy versus the museum. It’s a good job we did get in the queue at around 8.30am – thirty minutes later and it might have been a six or seven hour wait!

I’ve visited this museum at least once before in the recent past and the best that can be said about it normally is that it’s dull but worthy. Thinking about it, the best bit is usually the cafe which is certainly a cut above the usual wilting sandwiches and plastic coffee that so many similar venues serve.

Banksy’s efforts are very enjoyable, if ever so obvious. The best bits are the items you have to seek out amongst the museum’s normal collections – the fishing trophy in the case with the beaver; the eviction notice on the gypsy caravan and the briefcase stuffed with £10 notes with a picture of Princess Diana on them instead of the Queen. Having queued for so long to get in it was an interesting way to spend a couple of hours.

If you do go (and it finishes on Bank Holiday Monday so there isn’t much time left), go early. And go with friends. It makes the queueing experience an integral part of the day rather than simply a boring necessity.

ED209 TMA06 – The science of procrastination

I think I’m managing to take procrastination to new heights on TMA06. I was away overnight on Tuesday, staying at the Elvetham Hotel (even better value than the Bracknell Central Travelodge provided that you are prepared to wait until a few days beforehand and gamble on availability through laterooms). I took my books, CD and the notes I’d made so far with the intention of breaking the back of the assignment. I wrote … zero words.

I got too distracted by being able to use the iPlayer at a sensible speed and instead watched a repeat of the 1993 European Grand Prix, which felt like it was from 50 years ago, rather than 19 16 (must learn to do maths). The interview with a very young looking Martin Brundle after he’d spun out didn’t really suggest he was going to turn into one of the best motor racing pundits around after he’d finished racing … and I also watched last Sunday’s Jam and Jerusalem, which is just nice, fluffy television that encourages me to want to spend more time with my inlaws in Devon, going ever so slowly more mad than I am already.

I even managed to sort out insurance for my MiTo which I will be picking up on 1st September and worry some more about Emily’s A level results, due tomorrow. I understand she might get an indication later on tonight/very early tomorrow morning if the UCAS site stays up as it will confirm which of the Universities has accepted her – if either do, that is. Exeter means AAB or better; Hull means BBB or better. Exeter would be good – that way, I get to spend even more time going slowly mad in Devon.

But no progress on TMA06. Maybe tonight.

Update: 20th August 2009

Exeter it is! Three As! Well done Emily! And fame in the Evening Telegraph too!!

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