MONTH END PROCESSING FOR JUNE 2014
Internet: Since 2009 - more precisely, since just before I went here - I've owned a dinky little Dell netbook that I use for internet access whenever I'm on holiday. Over the years, as I've added more and more unneccessary software to it, it's got slower and slower. (A machine this small probably wasn't intended for video editing, but there you go.) Something had to give eventually, and the tipping point came this April, when Microsoft took the netbook's operating system out back and shot it through the head. I took this as a cue to do something I've been meaning to try for a while: wipe Windows off the box altogether, and install Ubuntu in its place. All the things they say about it are true: it's free (obviously), lightweight, and a lot faster than Windows XP ever was. As long as you just need the basic functionality of web surfing and document production - which I do - then it should hopefully stay that way. As my Moderately Responsible Job In The Computer Industry has involved various flavours of Unix over the years, the basic install wasn't too traumatic, although one little niggly problem involving audio files playing too fast took me the best part of a fortnight to sort out. Unfortunately, the various online forums relating to Ubuntu support issues can be a nightmare to navigate, and all too often it seems that the most popular response to a problem is 'you posted that in the wrong category, please try again'. Still, there are some terrific resources out there for newcomers - this one was particularly useful - and after about four or five tries this command turned out to be the solution to my sound problems.
Theatre: I've somehow managed to get through my entire adult life without reading a single book by P.G. Wodehouse. So I'm probably the wrong person to tell you if the current West End hit, Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense, is a faithful adaptation of the man's work. It feels right, though. I think that what makes it successful is that it matches Wodehouse's verbal wit with a delightful visual playfulness, revelling in its own arch theatricality: part of that has to be down to director Sean Foley, who's been doing this sort of thing on stage ever since his days with The Right Size. Adaptors David and Robert Goodale have taken the novel The Code Of The Woosters as a basic framework upon which to hang cameo appearances by a dozen or so of Wodehouse's regulars, all played by a cast of three. You've just missed the chance to see Robert Webb as Wooster (whose not-as-bright-as-he-thinks-he-is comic persona maps onto the character quite neatly) and Mark Heap as Jeeves (after years of low-key ensemble work in numerous comedies, it's lovely to see him getting some limelight for a change). Right now, the lead roles are being taken by James Lance and John Gordon Sinclair - they'll be at the Duke of York's theatre till September 30th and then touring the country after that. Not sure how they'll be playing it, but the production and writing are both strong enough to survive cast changes, so it's still worth catching.
Travel: I was back in Sweden again a couple of weeks ago, my third visit to the country this year. The last two trips were based in Stockholm, but this time I got to take the commuter plane from there to Karlskrona in the south of the country. Mid-June turns out to be an interesting time to visit Sweden, thanks to Studentvecka, in which the country's students celebrate the end of the academic year by wearing sailor hats, getting blind drunk and holding occasionally excessive parades. It's all rather jolly, unless you're staying in a hotel just down the road from a bar that students are drinking in till four in the morning. Still, you can't blame them - Karlskrona is pretty damn good for booze halls, from a fake English pub with craft beers on tap to a tremendous bar attached to the local cinema. Don't worry, food is also available, from Italian joints to cosy cafes. Apart from that, there's not too much to see (except for the Naval Museum, which I couldn't find time for), but it's an enjoyable enough town to stroll around, and there's a walking route map available from the tourist office if you want hints on which way you should be strolling. Anyway, how could you not love a town that sells vintage English clothing out of a shop called Neat Monkey?