Songs you HAVE to hear.

In the current edition of Word magazine, 110 musicians and writers are asked to name one song which, in their opinion, should be heard by absolutely everyone. Ranging from the popular (Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Take That) to the obscure (Pink Grease, Walter Pardon, Alberta Hunter), the results make fascinating reading. (Particularly if you have a couple of hours to spare and a broadband connection to hand.)

This morning, I was wondering which song I would have selected. This afternoon, I discovered it was available on the web as a free, legitimate download.

So, here you are. The one song which I think should be listened to by absolutely everyone: The Only Way Is Up, by Otis Clay. If this doesn’t set you up for the weekend, then nothing will.

This is particularly dedicated to anyone who’s going through a bit of a tough patch at present. (Gazes meaningfully in the direction of Belgium.). They don’t call me an irrepressibly chirpy little f***ing Pollyanna for nothing, you know.

So. Which one song do you think should be listened to by absolutely everyone? Please share your recommendations with the group. If I get enough, then I’ll compile a little list.

As for the final results of this year’s Which Decade Is Tops For Pops? project: they will hopefully appear this evening, but will definitely appear by tomorrow. they’ll be here tomorrow. Apologies for the delay.

Kinja Beta.

When you read as many blogs as I do, then you need an efficient way to find out whether or not they’ve been updated. (All that speculative clicking can be such a faff, don’t you find?)

In this respect, my favourite tool is the Recently Updated UK Weblogs list. The only problem is that to be included on it, each site owner has to register. Even though this only takes about 10 seconds, a lot of sites don’t bother, making the directory a frustratingly partial one.

Then there’s the UKBlogs Aggregator. It’s great – but you have to wade through acres of stuff from sites that you don’t read.

Then there’s Bloglines. It’s also great – but it will only pick up posts from sites with RSS feeds.

What I’ve been waiting for is a weblog digest that is:
a) international.
b) based around my own personal selection of sites.
c) not dependant on RSS feeds.
d) arranged in a reverse-chronological weblog format, with excerpts from each post.
e) a piece of piss to set up and maintain.
f) freely available for use by others.

Launched in Beta just yesterday, Kinja promises to be all of those things, and has got me quite excited.

Except that it doesn’t quite work yet. I’ve added my entire blogroll, plus a few more sites besides, and have been checking the updates on my customised Kinja digest against the the Updated UK Weblogs list. Sadly, Kinja is either lagging way behind, or else it doesn’t pick up on the new postings at all.

But, hey – it’s still Beta. I hope Kinja sorts its problems out soon; if it does, then it will swiftly become my new favourite place on the web.

To see how it works, take a look at my personalised Kinja digest.

Software trial.


I’ve been asked to test a rather nifty looking handwriting recognition package. This scans handwritten text; converts it into ASCII characters; formats the ASCII into HTML (applying stylesheets as necessary); and – this is the really clever bit – displays the resulting code using the original scanned handwriting.

So far, I’m quite impressed with the usability. Let me know what you think – and in particular, let me know if you spot any broken links. Ta.

I trust you enjoyed yesterday’s little seasonal diversion. I was actually torn between two ideas – the one you saw, or Rent Boy de Jour: the diary of a high class London masseur-slash-escort-slash model, and his dealings with a couple of piss-elegant middle-aged queens from Nottingham who offered him a position as their live-in house-boy-slash-cottage-gardener. But then I thought: nah, somebody’s bound to do a BdJ spoof.

You can therefore picture my shrieks of amazed delight when, just after posting at midnight last night, I decided to follow a hunch and check Diamond Geezer, that well-known stickler for punctuality. Geezer de Jour indeed! And so brilliantly conceived and executed, as well. Had I gone with the Rent Boy idea, the ensuing embarrassment would have been akin to two Oscar-nominated actresses turning up for the awards ceremony in the same frock. Or maybe I flatter myself with the conceit.

In order to execute yesterday’s daring stunt, I was obliged to make a special journey to WH Smith to buy some felt pens – only to discover that they are no longer stocked. For all I know, they might have been extinct for the past 20 years. I suddenly felt very old and very out of touch.

Instead, I had to buy a set of hideous “gel pens”, in vile non-matching colours, with horrible, scratchy, inconsistent nibs, which coat everything you write in some sort of “glitter” effect. Never have I felt more like an eight-year old girl. I’ll probably be getting excited about the Top 40 next. (Oh…)

My thanks to Emrys of, who helpfully passed my scribblings on to someone called The Handwriting Lady. Her graphological analysis makes for alarming reading. Here are some choice excerpts:

  • You have trouble making decisions, and have unpredictable mood swings.
  • You could be described like a thermometer… today warm and friendly… tomorrow distant and cold, not wanting to be close to anyone.
  • You are very blunt, candid and brutally honest. You are also very straightforward when asked your opinion. You find secrets and deceit just unnecessary. But, most people are not as revealing as you tend to be.
  • You often think of what you should have said during an argument and bring it up 30 minutes later.
  • You still have an aversion to taking too much of a risk and you’ll hedge on the side of security.
  • You HAVE a strong healthy sex drive… you just aren’t getting enough.

Colour me spooked!