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Personal details

Here are a few more personal details, you know, things no-one really wants to know, but I thought I'd tell them anyway.

Silly picture of me cleaning the microwave
Another picture of me, less serious though.

I'm 1m82 tall, weigh between 70 and 80kg, depending on how many cakes I've been scoffing and how many kilometres I've been cycling. Light brown hair, very little left on top. Greenish blue eyes (with flecks of brown) that don't see very much unless I wire some bits of glass to my head, or put a little bit of plastic on each eyeball.
I speak quickly and rather indistinctly, and not very much. I've lost most of my South Wales accent, but not picked up anything to replace it. I haven't lost my foreign accent in French either.

Things I like

I'm not going to just write "Here are my Top 10 favourite bands/books/whatever", but try to make some justification. Why I like things I think says more about me than what I like.


I used to read fiction by the armload, but recently I've been reading technical books and science papers almost exclusively. I quite like something "meaty" and thought provoking. The odd emotional rollercoaster as well. I like the philosophical novels of Sartre and Camus, Nausea and The Plague most notably. Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar had me in tears or despair for days. Two books I have totally failed to get my head around (but would like to try again someday) are Sartre's Being and Nothingness (for which I bought the two volume Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, but it didn't help because the concepts Sartre tries to explain are so alien that he has to make up his own words to try to explain them), and Kant's A Critique of Pure Reason (mainly because each sentence lasts about half a page and needs to be read 10 times before it can be understood, and often you need to go back a page or two and re-read another 5 times one of the previous sentences in order to make sense of the context).


My tastes are mainly slanted toward pop music. I tend to be more interested in the lyrics than the music itself, and I have a decidedly grim preference. The music I listen to the most is Joy Division, The Smiths and Elvis Costello. I quite like some early digital synthesizer music. It seems to me that when making synth music required a lot of thought and effort, the results were interesting. Now any idiot can do it, and synth music all sounds the same. In that class I like Kraftwerk and YMO, with a bit of Yello. I suppose Joy Division counts here as well. In a category by themselves is Half Man Half Biscuit. A band without peer!
I do like some classical music. Mostly late 19th century and early to mid 20th century. Prokofiev, Mahler and Shostakovich I'd say are my favourites, they are rather cheerless as well.


Not very fashionable this, liking poetry. I tend to like 60's American women that committed suicide. Sylvia Plath in particular and Anne Sexton as well, though her work is uncomfortably like sitting in on a psychotherapy session.

Contemporary poets I like (and that are still living) are Liz Lochhead and Brian Jones.


Coffee. Lots of it in the morning.
Beer. I'm a former member of the Campaign for Real Ale. I can't stand British piddle-like lager, that is endlessly advertised, and drunk by the megagallon by the mindless millions. It is a great shame that the cabbages of that country have been brainwashed into consuming a product that is so crap, just because it is cheaper for the major brewers to synthesize in their chemical factories. My joint favourites are Marstons Pedigree and Gales HSB.
Wine. I used to prefer white to red, but over the years, that has changed. Since I don't eat meat, it rarely bothers me whether I have red or white with a meal. Expensive French wines are the best, though some of the Australian wines are pretty good. I like Chablis and Pauillac, though I've never had a top class Pauillac, I once had a bottle of 5ième Cru, and it was simply amazingly good.


I'm a vegetarian. I like pasta, curry, casseroles and bakes. I love cooking, but quite often, can't be bothered if it is just for me. If I get home at 9 in the evening, then cooking is an inconvenient necessity.


Jeans and t-shirts. I hate ironing.


This forms a section of its own

Things I don't like

Other People

I'm not a total misanthrope. However, I can't tolerate stupidity, liars, cheats, number 42 bus drivers, bigots, most politicians, Americans who can't tell an adjective from an adverb, hypocrites and philanderers. So as you can see I am almost a total misanthrope.

Overcooked Aubergine Bake

Ugh. Say no more.

Things I have done

A few of the things I'm proud of doing.

The Plaza Café

It's gone now, but there used to be a grotty curry restaurant on Upper Brook Street, Manchester, near the Manchester Royal Infirmary (hospital), and well inside studentland. The speciality of the Plaza was absurdly hot curries. I was game for the challenge. For ordinary folks, they offered mild, medium then hot. After that was the "special" menu, for nutcases (like me). In order of scorching your tastebuds, they were Killer, Suicide, Charlie's Special, Cremation and Goodbye. Charlie was the chef. If you could handle a Suicide or above, you earned the right to buy one of the infamous "Plaza Suicide Curry" T-Shirts. I went for a suicide the first time, and I managed to keep it down. How hot was it? Well, imagine you get a few vegetables, some tomato and curry sauce, and then you add a pint of battery acid, and that is about it. I managed to go through the others on the menu until I reached the Goodbye. The first time I tried one, I just about finished it, then I staggered outside and threw up. Well, there were a few disturbing symptoms first. Not surprisingly, the sauce produced a tingling sensation on my tongue, but this was more like numbness than the taste of curry. The tingling spread all down my throat and out along my arms. At the end my hands were shaking. It induced perspiration. To be avoided at all costs was the glass of water, the active components of curry are water soluble, so drinking water only makes it much, much worse. The second time I tried this (yes, I came back for more), I ate about 2/3, then realized events were repeating themselves, so I gave up. Third time though I was lucky. Subsequently I tried to emulate the strength of these curries at home. The main ingredient I used was 20 fresh green chillies (with the seeds, they are the hottest bit), plus about 2 teaspoons of ground dried red chilies. This was between two people. My version had more impact on the tongue, but I only felt a small bit of numb tingling, and only on my tongue. I guess the Plaza curries must contain the collected extract of fresh chili seed.

The Pennine Way

A long walk, lots of hills, but I did it. I count this as one life ambition fulfilled. It's only taken me 5 years to get round to adding the link.

Things I want to do

See more of the world

I've been around Europe quite a bit, and there are still many places I'd like to see. Unfortunately, I'm a bit of a cautious traveller, being particularly leery of foreign food, that is, I usually think it will poison me and give me horrible diseases, and also contain meat. Otherwise, I am well prepared to go off the beaten track. Perhaps I'll link an account of my two Interrail jaunts a few years ago here.


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