26 December 2006

Tom Baker Says...

Here's perhaps the silliest site I have come across this silly season.

BT sat down Tom Baker, that greatest of all Dr Whos and now the narrator of Little Britain, in front of a microphone with a dictionary to record phrases. 11,593 of them, to be precise. They're then broken down and reassembled to make other sentences of various sorts, mostly a little rude, sometimes witty, always downright silly.

For a while Tom's voice was actually used by BT as the voice on their text messaging service, but alas, that is no longer. But we still have Tom Baker Says. Check it out:

Tom Baker Says...

25 December 2006

Strange thoughts on train

As one who so enjoys driving, I find my morning train commutes into the city of Adelaide to be journeys of continual revelation. A car, at least for most men, is so much an expression of the self and a buffer against the world that would intrude upon that self. The initial choice of model, colour, accessories; the music or radio shows in which you envelope yourself; even perhaps the routes you chose are, in some small way, about control, self-expression, the ego.

By contrast, trains gently force you to relinquish control, and to interact with the world and others in that curious, usually wordless way that is unique to rail transport. I often reflect on the fact that a train contains a vast collection of untold stories. Its like a massive bookshop containing only new releases by as yet unheard of writers. As you share a journey with these writers you get to know just a little about them by what they read, the way they dress, walk, browse the other passengers and how they converse with their companions. It's like reading the dust covers in the bookshop.

Often you see the same people on a daily basis and suddenly you seem to be in a relationship. I passed a man in the street the other day whom I recognised as a fellow rail traveller. We acknowledged each other shortly but with more than a hint of warmth because we shared a previous connection in a place where we would both otherwise have been disconnected from everyone.

And at the end of the day, these tiny connections are the lifeblood of existence. The hankering for connectedness of any sort is one of the major drivers for most people; the lack of that connectedness the principle cause of sadness.

On the morning journey, staring out of one of the scratched and hazy expanses of Perspex which pass for windows on South Australian trains and listening to Laurie Anderson's 'Big Science' on mp3, I was suddenly a little overwhelmed by this unextraordinary moment and wished my son were there to share it with me. Perhaps that too is inherent in human nature--through connection with others we can turn ordinary experiences into something more. But then it occurred to me that even of he were there, we would not be sharing my experience, but sharing a moment in which we were having different experiences. Those moments in life in which you look at someone else and have a deep sense that your experience or thoughts have genuinely aligned are extremely rare, and beyond price.
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