Oh, dear. It’s definitely time to do something about these blond locks. I’ve not had a haircut this year, and it’s starting to show.

Last night, a friend asked me if I was deliberately trying to look like Margaret Thatcher.

To add insult to injury, last night when watching CSI in my room, my crappy headphones got caught in my hair. A lock got tangled around a screw, and I had to get Paul to cut me out!

I don’t know what I want to do with my hair (although I’m damn sure I’m not putting those headphones on again.) The quiff was good, and I can’t do that when I have this much hair. But are there more interesting things I can do if I let the rate of growth continue at half-an-inch a month. I nearly have enough for a pony tail.

While we’re doing pictures, here’s a few still on the camera from our Christmas/Housewarming party a few weeks ago: the spread, our tree, and a remote control dinosaur that a friend brought along.


Goodnight Seattle

I’ve just been watching the last few episodes ever of Frasier: Crock Tales and Goodnight Seattle — and I’ve had another inappropriate emotional response to a TV show.

I have a long history with Frasier, since it’s the show that gave me the internet pseudonym I’ve been using for the last seven years, since my second year in university. I’ve been google groping: a post about the age of consent debate in Parliament dated 1997-10-01 in has the signature

Why Niles? a) no-one can confuse my gender
b) David Hyde-Pierce (_Frasier_) is a hunk

In, I was confusing them by calling myself both ‘Niles’ and ‘Alex’ the May before: 1997-05-25:

It’s _Frasier_. The epnoymous radio psychiatrist and sophistocate Frasier has a rather dishy brother with a cute dimple called Niles. This is how I would like to project myself to people who haven’t seen the photograph on my homepage.

[Tsk! I was young and thin back then. And I couldn’t spell ‘sophisticate’]

I’d been on usenet for much of the previous year under various different monikers, but ‘Niles’ kinda stuck by summer 1997 and it’s been with me ever since, in my website, as you’ll know, dear reader; my username on countless websites and cix since 2001, and still, after all this time, on usenet.

I saw a lot of the show in university: for a long while, my Friday night routine, whilst my more boisterous co-tenants were drinking and womanising, involved splitting my time between the laundrette and the TV room in Broadgate Park. In latter years, I’ve hardly seen an episode.

Crock Tales has just skilfully recapped the last 11 years of Frasier, taking us back through the haircuts and the plot lines of the 90s, and it’s reminded me a bit of all those years. The Goodnight Seattle double episodes just rounded the whole show off nicely. I think it’s time to borrow some tapes and watch the, erm, 264 episodes from the previous years. Nothing like a grand projet for starting 2005 with…

Style guru

I am the epitome of style. I have the most fashionable trousers ever. Chinos from M&S, that trough of trendiness.

But these are not ordinary chinos, oh no!

These chinos have a waistband engineered to expand.

There’s more! They are *stain resistant*.

Nothing says ‘I’m a fat, messy slob’ like M&S, eh?


A flurry of posts today.

Ongoing correspondence with the Operations Directorate at the House of Commons. I think my latest letter is self explanetary:

Mark Harvey
Assistant Serjeant at Arms
House of Commons

Your reference: 18.4.2

4 December 2004

Dear Mr Harvey,

Thank you for your letter of the 1st November in which you say:

Mr Allen readily acknowledges that the letter sent to you dated 24 July was not appropriate use of House stationery and postage and has repaid the taxpayer.

The letter I received appeared to have been sent to everyone who voted in the European elections, at the cost of the taxpayer.

Your letter is ambiguous as to whether Mr Allen has repaid the taxpayer only for the letter sent to me, or for the entire mailing, which must have been sent to thousands of people in Nottingham North.

I would be grateful if you could clear this up for me.

Yours sincerely,

Alex Foster MA

A few new things

It’s been weeks, and I haven’t mentioned, I don’t think, my new car.

After the Fiesta crash, I wasn’t certain if I wanted to carry on driving, but I do think it’s an important lifeskill that I’d be foolish not to practice.

Getting a new car was problematic, but I happened to talk about it with ringing friends who had a car they didn’t want — a large Skoda Favorit GLXie estate — just sitting on their drive rotting. Unfotunately, it wasn’t even drivable, so I’ve had to get a garage to pick it up and get it going again. It needed its immobiliser removed, a new battery, several new tires, brakes fixing and an entire suspension thingy replaced. And hopefully all that will be done by Monday and I can pick it up.

It’s an even bigger car than I’m used to and I’m a bit anxious at the prospect of driving it away from the garage for the first time. And it doesn’t seem terribly environmentally conscious to drive a whacking great estate car to Leicester with just me in it. So I will still be using public transport quite frequently. The cost in petrol for the Fiesta wasn’t all that different from the rail fare, and whilst it’s actually quite tricky to park in central Leicester, one of the offices I work in is just two minutes from the railway station.

Oh… also since the new computer arrived, I took the opportunity to put in a cheapy webcam in the parcel from eBuyer. Results are at It’s a little fragile, and sometimes it doesn’t wake up for a day or two before suddenly being there again. I’m still looking at where I can dot about the various 80p ‘lazer’ case-moding LEDs. The new LCD screen is in place, and I’m not certain whether it’s better than the CRT monitor it replaces. The new printer, however, is great 🙂

Hark, herald angels

A brass band is playing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” in the background of the Archers this evening. I wasn’t listening properly, but I think Ambridge has just switched on its Christmas lights.

Nottingham, however, turned its Christmas lights on weeks ago.

Last week we went and gawped at awful Christmas decorations in front someone’s house in Burton Joyce. There was the full Monty, right down to several different Santas equipped with planes and helicopters as well as the more traditional magic-reindeer drawn sleigh. And, FFS! it was only November.

I will come clean: I don’t particularly like Christmas. I do miss singing Christmas carols, and I find myself singing the bass line to Hark the Herald right now; but the singing aside, I’m not fussed by the festivities. I could do without the whole damn lot.

But — and this is a very big but — we have our Christmas tree up already.

In my defence, we did at least wait til Advent Sunday.

Paul had seen trees in B&Q, and snaffled one (before ran out, like), and so it fell to me to go mad, and spend a fortune on baubles in John Lewis. I plumped for a colour theme, and have lots of lovely purple baubles. I figured (wrongly) that since baubles-only looked super in JL, they would at home too. I’m actually yearning for tinsel.

I should really have checked with P first since purple turns out to be a colour he can’t really see, (he’s red/green colourblind). And he would prefer a tree that’s a riot of colours rather than something that looks like a department store window-dresser came round and did it for you.

Just to show I’m not a complete bah-humbugger, I’ve recorded this for your amusement and delectation. The advantage of having a network on my desk is that I can double track myself using only Sound Recorder and WinAmp. I suspect if I ask Paul nicely, he has a lot more sophisticated equipment for cleaning it up and making it work better.