My most common hits are still coming from Scott Pilgrim searches. Were I to take it as an indicator of scale, O’Malley’s gem is more important than Terry Pratchett.

I can’t choose between them, I love them both too much.

/// \\\

I’m tremendously happy that I didn’t make a New Years resolution to blog more. Aside from the fact that I have never made a New Year’s resolution with a straight face or possible scale, reality has struck against me and she. I had planned to blog about Japan while in Japan: this was first hampered by being stranded in London for eight days under weather conditions favourably thought of as ‘arctic’; secondary hampering came from trying to write about the said personal disaster. It’s too depressing to go back to a very bad headspace involving high stress, failing health, damaged ankles, impossible phone calls and red tape cutting off your ability to function while on honeymoon. The return fared no better, as we came back to a house still without heating (a long story 13 months and counting in the making), a still-broken fridge, doors as yet still-unrebarrelled and, but a few days after landing the eagle, a kitchen flooded thanks to a burst pipe.

And that’s just the highlights!

It’d be very easy to just roll over and whine, but to Amsterdam with that noise. This is an upbeat blog, goddamnit, and if I can avoid cursing up a storm here and on Twitter through sheer force of will in the last few weeks, then damn it we will beat Misery’s ass until Kathy Bates turns up with the notice of surrender. For all the rough, nasty, horrible crap we went through in the days that preceded and followed the Wedthing, we also got to meet a lot of good and splendid people and relish fantastic opportunities.

So! Our props to:

Irene & Nick Grigoriou, relatives of Olivia’s who put us up at short notice and having met Livvy but the once. Olivia’s already poor immune system had crapped out from going through the warzone-esque conditions Heathrow had been reduced to, the vagaries of the climate and the stress of the situation. I was struggling to keep our heads above water when Nick and Irene came to the rescue of two strangers at Christmas. They are the personification of the best of humanity in our heads right now and we owe them more than we can possibly repay.

The Virgin Atlantic Flight & Ground crews. While their peers in the customer support reached various highs and lows of quality (Low! After repeatedly cutting me off on the phone, retracting the offer to rebook our flights for no discernable reason… High! Bumping us to Upper Class on an earlier flight as an apology for the previous idiocy…), the ground crews were fantastic, both in helping us where they could and finding our bags that had been lost in the initial pre-Christmas craziness. The Flight crew came into their own when Olivia was suffering a massive amount of pain on the return flight and cleared a row of four seats for her to rest on, and making sure there were wheelchairs for her to transit through the various airports at each changeover.

The reservations team of our lodging in Hakone, who didn’t charge us for cancelling when we could not make it to our reservation because of the weather; the same to the reservations desk in the Tokyo Metropolitan Hotel in Ikebukuro, who held our reservation and didn’t charge us for the days we were not there.

Craig Shaw and everyone in Ryokan Biyo no Yado, for everything they helped us arrange in the run-up to the trip, and after that for being accommodating, friendly and enabling the best birthday celebration I have yet had.

Every single person who put up with my curiously terrible Japanese accent. This counts double for anyone who managed to figure out what I was trying/failing/gibbering to say.

The dudes in white in Osaka who were able to tell us where our hotel was when the taxi drivers claimed not to know.

The shopping girls and stand-outside waiters who were able to tell us where the One Piece restaurant was when the taxi drivers claimed not to know.

The taxi drivers in Kyoto, who did know where places were.

The taxi drivers in Yudanaka, who did not skid off the ice and send us plummeting to our vertiginous doom.

Nekobukuro, because Olivia likes cats.

There’s more, many more I’m sure. But that’s a good start, and I’ll talk about the trip in full later.

/// \\\

We’ve come back, of course, to a country falling apart. It was falling apart when we left, so it’s not a grand surprise, but we optimistically thought the collapse might have been winding down by now. Ho ho ho! No, the government has instead managed to find new ways to shock and dismay us. I try to avoid waxing political, mostly because it’s overdone and tends to have people at each others throats in about three comments time, but it’s getting ridiculous by this stage. The ridiculous is mostly due to the ongoing commentaries rather than the political actions at this point, though: of course Cowen is making a hames of matters, fluffing situations so badly he would have been fired from a porn set many times over by now. But that’s the trend he has been pursuing for over two years of leadership, and many more in lesser roles. It’s like complaining that the sour milk has started talking and a few weeks later you realise it’s kind of racist. At this point, he’s Taoiseach solely because no one else would, of sound or rational mind, want the job pre-Election, coming as it does for the foreseeable future with a poisoned chalice, matching dining set, dining room and setee.

I’m also sceptical as to the benefit of the Greens leaving the coalition. They’ve already smeared their reputation by now, surely? Jumping ship seems less a move of sagacious political manoeuvring to avoid the iceberg and more trying to kick the children out of  one of the lifeboats while the Titanic sinks. Maybe they think that with a lack of ideal or authoritative alternatives, they may still be in with a shot? I dread to think that that might be a sound gauge of how the wind is blowing right now.

Fine Gael would probably take it if they could only get shot of Enda Kenny, who is frankly insufferable. I’m not so sure it’s be a straight coalition between them and Labour, though. Sinn Fein will likely take an interesting number of seats and I’m really and truly thinking of nothing interesting or novel here, am I?

See, this is why I don’t talk politics. We don’t have anyone nearly insane enough to get theoretically giddy over. Right now, I suspect I’m the only person not hoping for the inevitable early election as my electoral register details are all over the place thanks to the aforementioned bunkum surrounding my house. Even if I manage to get that sorted in time, I’m not sure of what to do then: with nobody suitable (or rather worthy) on the field, I’m inclined to spoil my vote and be done with it; the problem with that is that the parties I have issue with are even more likely to get in.

TL;DR Version: Ugh.

Right now, my most fervent political belief is that people need to address Brian Cowen by his full name. All the malodious Brians I keep seeing in the headlines are giving me a complex.

/// \\\

The MSc has started and, I dread to think as I even type this, so too has the diary comic been reborn. Or rather it will as soon as I manage to get a decent hardback sketchbook. The slow descent into academic madness and other such miscellany will turn up here soon.

Also of vital importance: I have finished every single little bit of a one-man playthrough in Dragon Age this weekend, with time to spare before Dragon Age 2 in March. The former is a timesink from which I have had the happiest experience of any narrative siiiiiiince probably The Wire, and I heartily recommend it.

/// \\\

Next blogification: More interesting things! Honest! My brain is still just good melted is all! Also: girls?