President Bush today, one year on from "victory":

"A year ago I did give the speech from the carrier saying we had achieved an important objective, accomplished a mission, which was the removal of Saddam Hussein," Bush said. "As a result, there are no longer torture chambers or mass graves or rape rooms in Iraq."

At least not ones for which the US military is not responsible. Don't know about you, but I think having wires attached to the genitals might just count as torture.

FYI, concerning the end of major combat operations declared by George this time last year, the US Department of Defence and family members have identified 718 U.S. servicemembers who died supporting U.S.-led operations in Iraq. Of these, 580 (more than 80 per cent) died since May 1 2003.


The problem with being domestically disconnected from the world and trying to maintain a blog is that one can't really muse upon things whenever the mood takes one. And while I've got great access at work, the Corporation kind of expects me to write for them rather than myself while I'm on shift, and all those thoughts and posts that surprise one during the course of pottering about the house all go to waste.

So that's why there's been so much tumbleweed around here of late.

But things are changing. The TV, phone and broadband are all hooked up, and now I'm just waiting for my wireless kit to arrive so I can access the net where I want, when I want.

For now, though, I'll have to be happy with the fact that this lunchtime's sandwich proudly stated that a metal detector was the only piece of machinery used in its production. If only all corporate caterers were so thoughtful.

Presumably they're checking to see there's the recommended amount of iron in each of their products.


One of the most discombobulating things about the biscuit is the fact that after almost two weeks I've still not got my cable installed. No biggie, you might think, but this means I've no telephone, to television, and no broadband. And with another whole week to go until the nice men from Telewest plug me in, my sense of disconnection from the world is increasing every day.

It's frightening how much I've come to rely on these mass media. Rather than access to them being privileges, they feel like fundamental rights, and my life feels empty without them.

There's only so much Five Live I can listen to without suffering Talk Radio Fatigue. I mean who really enjoys continuous hours of self-opinionated bastards (the listeners who phone in, not the hosts) spouting about the hot topics of the day.

(No, the irony of that comment has not escaped me).

But I'm missing my bad late-night movies (and bad TV in general), I'm missing talking to friends and family (there's only so much a boy with mortgage is prepared to fork over to Orange), and I'm missing not having to move more than a few feet to log on. What suffering, eh? God forbid I ever really have to go without.

Still at least it's given me the chance to catch up with the final season of Buffy, a mere 12 months after it finished its first run in the US.

Although quite whether 16 episodes in four days is entirely healthy, I'm not sure.

Roll on Friday...


When I was little, about five or six, I was given a magnificent Lego castle - knights, battlements, towers, the lot. Everything a little yellow feudal lord could wish for. Mum and I spent the best part of an afternoon building it. But all was not well. The drawbridge didn't work properly. The cotton failed to run smoothly. I was not best pleased. So I smashed the castle to pieces, punishing it for its lack of perfection, and myself for my inability to build it properly.

This past week I've had the occasional similar wobble as I've tried to adapt to living in a new flat, coping with all the teething troubles that always come with an unfamiliar environment. With things being less than perfect instantly I've wanted to shout and scream and throw the whole thing on the floor and just generally have a tantrum. Ironic, really, because I really didn't want a new-build flat-pack apartment, but something with a little history, charm and interest - and along with those come problems.

My stress levels haven't been helped by the fact that in addition to working nights (sorry fact fans, NSB is on leave) I'd agreed to look after Joseph and Lizzie's cat, Shmita. She spent the first day hiding behind the sofa, the second hiding under my bed, but has just started exploring the rest of the flat. By the time I left for work this evening, she'd decided my bed was hers.

Ultimately my problem comes down to the fact that I want perfection, I want it now, and I want it forever - with as little effort as possible. And I find difficult the uncertainty and need for adjustment that comes with change. So I panic.

But in the last day or two, I've just started to see the possibility of everything coming together into a good home, as much of a reality as an aspiration.

Things may not be ideal after my first week in the biscuit, but they never will be unless I start acting less like a six-year-old and more like Shmita.

Everything will be good with time, patience, caution, contemplation and the knowledge that I can always hide under my bed if I need to.


So with the buying (expensive, but financially responsible in the long run... allegedly) and the moving (mad props to Sam, Thomsk, The Dr Bob and, of course, Thea, for Saturday and what proved to be a remarkably easy and enjoyable experience), I thought I'd done the hard parts.

Boy, was I wrong.

Everything's in boxes, I don't have the right kinds of furniture or enough things to keep other things in, my bed's in pieces, I can't work out how to get my cable, phone and broadband connection set up just as I want it without mass upheaval which means it's costing a fortune in mobile phone bills, I'm having to take baths rather than showers because there's no shower curtain yet, I have to get doors put in for the bedroom and living room (but should they slide or just open regularly?), the European cardboard box mountain is growing outside my house, I can't get the tumble dryer function of the washer/dryer to work, and the guy who sold me the place (Radio 4 presenter John Wilson, son of Arsenal goalkeeping legend Bob, football fans) is still wandering around somewhere with another set of keys of which he seems reluctant to let go.

Consequently while everyone's telling me how excited I must be, I'm actually feeling rather confused and vulnerable.

Not that I'm regretting it. It's a great flat: quiet street, own front door, private back garden, nice floors (although it still needs a rug to tie the room together), great kitchen, good new bathroom, loads of storage space - all in all, phenomenally better than the biscuit that never was. Everybody else seems to like it too, which is pleasing.

And Finsbury Park's a good area - ethnically vibrant, certainly, but without the more threatening atmosphere of Harlesden; good pubs and restaurants; all the shops I need to get through day to day life; even its own sweet, little internet cafe (where I sit at time of writing).

Just what I really want is for everything to be good and easy and perfect now, not in several months' time.

It's hard building a home at the best of times, and I don't feel like a natural homebuilder. I'm frightened of getting matters of taste wrong ("Those cushions with that fireplace? Are you mad? I never want to see you again!") or making decisions that will require great expense or inconvenience.

It's all giving me a tremendous headache. So what I want to know is...

Is it too late to pull out?


Shamelessly nicked from Jim, but the result's heartening for a journalist. :)

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It's biscuit time. The keys to the barrel are mine. More as we get it.