March 31, 2006


You're not going to believe this. I don't believe this. My brand new out-of-the-box state of the art super-duper cutting edge cat's pyjamas Apple iMacIntel computer has a manufacturing flaw and is going to be taken away. Apple is going to send me a replacement but the hundreds of files on which I spent hundreds of hours, tons of bitten nails and torn out hair transferring from my old computer will have to be reinstalled, as well as all the software etc.etc etc. The fatal flaw, which I have been fruitlessly phoning Apple about almost daily at their switchboard in India or the moon is a thin flickering white line which runs up the screen from bottom to top. It's there right now as I type. You don't see it but I do.  Apparently, the Apple Man in India said, after leaving me hanging on while he chatted with his Product Director, the cause of this flickering line is a manufacturing flaw. Why the hell there should be manufacturing flaws in a brand new etc etc is what I tried to impress upon him but he kept saying "suresure, suresure" as if that would solve everything. I am going to make them pay for this, oh yes, wait and see if I don't. I am going to grind their grinning apple faces into the ground. I am......I am going to bed. After a glass of something - whisky,cognac, sherry, arsenic.

Augustine Angry


March 28, 2006


You're sailing along reasonably problem-free when all of a sudden they descend on you in multiples, the problems, and you're in deep, dark, freezing water while lightning, thunder and gale-force winds do their best to push you under. That's only a slight exaggeration of what's been happening here over the past couple of weeks. Okay, to those of you with really serious problems mine will seem trivial but I'm going to tell you about them anyway because this is my blog and I'm allowed to be trivial, sometimes.

Let's start with the latest jinx from that big bag of jinxes in the sky sent to test our endurance/serenity/resolve etc.

Cactus tragedyIt's my tall thin dear old cactus lying bleeding on the carpet yesterday amidst the wreckage of my dear old blue ceramic pot after both were battered and beaten down by a fierce March wind bursting into the room unlawfully through a ten-inch gap in the top of the window which would not, could not close, despite superhuman efforts on my part, assisted by hammer and soap (to grease the window frame).

After clearing up the mess and bidding farewell to grandfather cactus (in cactus-time, about 150 years old) I endured several hours of icy wind disturbing my struggles with the new computer before deciding to call upon the help of kindly neighbours to try and close the damn window. I was pleased to see that they too had trouble (so it wasn't just my un-fit state) but eventually the gap was reduced to about two inches. I turned up the heat and the ambiance was returned to near normality.

Did I need the above contre-temps at this time? No, I did not. I will not inlict upon you the full catalogue of woes and wrinkles and warps I've been going through since the glamorous new iMac Intel came into my life and on my desk. Suffice to say that the Mac is not to blame. I take back any insulting things I said about Apple. All those blarney-talking Irish Apple-men have been sweetness itself and have done all I asked to make up for their initial faux-pas. I am to blame, it's all my fault.

Why did I decide to change web host and domain name registrar all at the same time as grappling with new computer, new software, new installation? Because I am a fool. Because all my life I've been starting from scratch over and over again in the foolish belief that a clean slate is the best slate. I am an expert in starting from scratch and I have the scratches to prove it. The problem with being an expert From-Scratcher is that you are so busy starting over that you never have time to finish things. Anyway, self-inflicted technical problems kept me awake for the past week because I am stubborn and obsessive and will not give up when I can't solve something. To be honest, I quite enjoy a technical challenge, in a desperate sort of way. So all my files disappeared, so I re-loaded them one at a time through the night, so they went to the wrong place and I had to start again, so my website disappeared from cyberspace, so Dreamweaver went haywire then came shuffling back, so the cactus came tumbling down, so there's a gas leak in the recently repaired boiler, so the shoe-storage thingy on the back of the wardrobe door came crashing down, so the phone went peculiar with some sort of mysterious nuisance call....and so on. As I said, troubles suddenly arrive all at once, like buses. It must be in the stars.

You will have noticed that I am back and that I have managed to post here again? Some of the links on my left sidebar aren't working now but I'll gradually fix them. It's an opportunity to improve some of the pages of this whole website which need improving. Yes, we will survive. I've also signed up with in order to post the continuation of The Burial of Mickey Mouse (that'll be the new blog's title) but haven't put anything there yet. I will advise. Thanks for your support, my faithful friends.


March 21, 2006


For those of you who are not computer geeks/nerds/techies/Mac addicts the following will be irrelevant but you can twiddle your thumbs while I explain. I am now the owner of the latest iMac Intel computer which, in techno terms, is the Holy Grail. In appearance it is a modern equivalent of David by Michelangelo or Marilyn Monroe by God. In efficiency, speed, strength, it's whoever your favourite Olympic athlete is. There is only one problem: it doesn't do Adobe Applications. It has taken me almost an hour just to type this sentence and to get my blog page to come up on the screen in Dreamweaver ((the Adobe application I depend on body and soul to design and upload this site). Intel and Adobe ain't compatible at the moment or only very very slowly. If you happen to be interested in the tech whys and wherefores you can read about it here but, in short, it will take quite while (not before October, at very least) before Adobe has manipulated their software to be fully compatible with Apple Intel.

lion at Holy Mac Grail

I found out about this before acquiring the new beast but, on the phone, the Irish-accented Apple salesman (they're based in Ireland and the machines are assembled in Asia) was so nice and so persuasive, he promised that my Dreamweaver and Photoshop apps would work no slower than they had on my old G4 PowerMac on OS9. Well, that was outright Irish malarkey bullshit. Photoshop works though not so fast, OK. As for my beloved Dreamweaver, forget it. There's no way I can continue using it on this computer. So, there are only two drastic solutions to choose from, rendering me sleepless:

1. I return the Holy Grail Mac to its makers and purchase the Mac G5 which, although it was only brought out recently with much fanfare, is now being phased out by Apple (be warned, all you Mac users!) in favour of the Intel processor. It may already be obsolete but at least it will work with Adobe apps right now.

2. Or, I keep the Holy Mac Grail and radically alter my blogging/designing habits, becoming a blogger with a blogging service like everybody else, thus eliminating my dependence on software like Dreamweaver. I would have to migrate image files to this new service and try to adapt to a less independent format. It would have the advantage of giving me access to RSS feeds etc whilst not being so flexible as I am when posting from my own website. In my bones, I feel that Option 2 is probably the right one but it's a wrench to think about re-designing everything. I could still keep this site as is but not add more to it until Adobe and Intel have got hitched. Meanwhile, I'd be posting to a new blog, maybe at Augustine's Other Blog but changing and improving the design.

What do y'all think? What would you do in my shoes? And which of the blogging servers do you think is the best in terms of design flexibility?

With all this nerdish nonsense I haven't mentioned the serious stuff, the big Stop the Iraq war demo which took place in London and all over the world this past weekend. I couldn't go but my heart was in it. The Independent has three articles today (by Robert Fisk, Johann Hari and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown) that sum up very well what I and many others are thinking.


March 20, 2006


going mad


March 9, 2006


The new Mac cannot be delivered for another 7 or so "working days" which mean I'm stuck with a mess of tech problems on the old Mac, too boring and infuriating to discuss. So here is a little movie you can put on a loop and just keep it running (if you've got nothing better to do and don't watch to watch TV) until I can return to my story. In case you're wondering, I took it from the train leaving the Gare du Nord in Paris. The graffitti artists have left no wall untouched and some of their logos appear at every station.


March 6, 2006

Mickey Mouse header.

Returning soon!


March 3, 2006


Last week in Paris I took the metro to see the street where I was born. It is called Boulevard Emile Augier and is in the neighbourhood known as la Muette. Somewhere along that boulevard is an apartment building where I was a grouchy baby who refused to eat, presumably in vengeance against my mother who had stopped nursing me. Or so they tell me as I have no memory of that time.

Boulevard Emile Augier street signThe strangely helmeted woman happened to be walking towards me as I snapped the photo and I wonder if this has some surreal significance. Coincidences usually do if you are the sort of person who sees signs and wonders in ordinary things.

I walked up and down the street, cold wind biting, trying to see if any of those houses were sending me waves of recognition.

In one of those houses I was a baby.They would have looked much the same in those far away days when I was one, two, three, four? It was only when I got back to London that I found out the address was number 36 Emile Augier so I could have taken a photo of the actual doorway which my mother and father and sister would have walked in and out od countless times before my birth and later my uncertain little legs would have waddled behind my mother on this very pavement and then we would have crossed the street and gone around the corner to the Parc de La Muette.

Was this park the actual setting for one of the only vivid memories I have of pre-Paraguay childhood? I've told this one in comic-strip form, I think, in some archived earlier post.

Past silhouettes in present park.A park.My mother walking far too fast, pulling me by the hand. I can't keep up, I'm too little, too weak. It feels like my heart is about to stop but suddenly I am quite calm and rational, accepting my fate. Maman finally notices and sits me down (on a bench? A wall?) to catch my breath. I don't tell her that I nearly died but the memory becomes engraved in my mind at that moment.

It's so cold the camera refuses to cooperate. I enter the nearest patisserie, luscious confections on display in voluptuous abandon, and I sit sipping hot chocolate, thinking about time and patterns an co-incidents. At a table behind me two women are speaking Russian. I am in a play in which coincidences pile up, collaged one next to the other, past present and future randomly mixed until there's no telling them apart.

Back in the quartier where I'm staying at my sister's apartment, I stop to browse at stalls of the brocante in the street market. One of them specialises in rare books and what do I see in a rack, apart from the rest, its distinctive blue cover staring right at me?

Trois petits Enfants Bleus, the most cherished book of my earliest years, the one which went with me to Paraguay and which I must have read at least a hundred times, each beautiful illustration so familiar I could have drawn it myself.
Three little blue children.

It was lost along with so much other baggage that was dispersed over many years of moving from one country to another. I looked for it in vain and now here it is, in my hands, not the same copy but as good as. It's almost like finding my buried Mickey. For 25 Euros (the dealer takes 50% off the marked price when I tell him my story) I have my childhood back. Talk about signs and wonders.

In the taxi to and from the Gare du Nord to catch the Eurostar, whether leaving or arriving in Paris, I always feel the boundaries of time dissolving. Hatshepsut's obelisk in the Place de la Concorde, once standing proud in the sands of Luxor where I stood last year and perhaps also two thousand years ago, this is no more or less strange than the fact that somewhere in this city there is a room where two individuals named Sacha and Blanche made love and conceived the person who is writing these words that you are reading, and in this same city I sat in a taxi, aged about five, with my father and my sister, holding a bunch of violets in one hand for my mother's birthday and a banana in the other and I began to eat the violets and we laughed. It was this city that we left for for the new worlds of South and North Americas and then returned and it was somewhere along these quais that I walked aged fifteen or sixteen to the Louvre where my Professor, beret on brow and Gauloise on lip, stood at my shoulder teaching me the rigorous principles of aplomb et proportion so that I might draw well enough to be admitted to the Academie des Beaux Arts, where I did not go because my father took us off to South America again.

Paris quais.