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Interview with Nick Papadimitriou November 2011
SB:  How’s your book going?
NP:  Slow. I’ve got the promotional copy in, which is the first three chapters and I’ve got five chapters done completely and I’ve got about another five chapters done partially, so I’ve still got a long way to go. And, I’ve got eight weeks to do it.
SB:  Are you happy with it?
NP: No.
SB:  What’s the highlight?  
NP:  The highlight? Merops, the crow.
SB: Yeah. (Nick and I had long shared a love of crows and rooks and talked about them in relation to a place in Harrow called Roxeth – the place where the rooks drink).
NP:  Jocasta from Hodder and Stoughton wanted that out of the book and then she left.
SB:  You’re joking?!
NP:  Then I got a new bloke called Drummond Meyer, and he wants it in. Jocasta said it doesn’t really fit into the book.
SB:  It’s the best bit. The flight of your imagination.
NP:  It’s the only bit!
AW:  You see how a publisher can make or break you, just because they feel like it. Andy Watton (AW) is a mutual friend of Nick and I and is sitting in on the interview.
SB:  I know. This is what my school friend was up against when her publisher said, “Oh I’m going to Australia”. So she self published and now is doing the rounds.  
NP: Doing the rounds?  
AW: Well, if you self publish, you’ve got to self promote.
SB: Exactly. But I guess the good thing must be having the advance and also having a framework and you know you’ve got to deliver the book to somebody and that it’s got to be in a reasonable state.
NP:   I’ve done alright. I’m very pleased with what I’ve written, that’s for sure and I’ve written some quite complicated things. Particularly, I’ve built a whole theory about using magic mushrooms and sex in order to access the consciousness of animals.
AW:   Sounds a bit like Aleister Crowley.
NP:  Yeah it is. It’s sort of like Stockbroker Belt occultists out in North Mims and round there.
SB:  Laughs.
NP:   But you know I’ve had to build this theory up from different places. Like I use Ernst von Haekel and I sort of like sort of blathered a bit. It doesn’t have to be plausible to the reader.  They just have to believe that it is plausible to the narrator.
SB: Yeah.
NP:   You can think that the narrator is a complete goon, but as long as it’s plausible. But she gets dumped by Ragga Dagga. (she is Gloria Geddes, Nick’s female alter ego who has her own page on Facebook).
AW:  Sounds good. Sounds great!
SB:   Who is Ragga Dagga?
NP: He’s this occultist. His real name’s Keith, I think. I dunno if I actually say that. But he’s just called Ragga Dagga here in the book and he sets up this sex coven and Gloria Geddes is his sort of like partner and she dumps him.
SB:   Is Gloria Geddes in it?
NP:   Yes, she’s a main figure in the book. And there’s another character called John Osbourne who is a serial killer, who is actually a witch, or he thinks he is. But you actually get the suspicion that he‘s a psychiatrically ill alcoholic. And there’s various other sorts of protaganists. Erm, Reginald Mauldlin, the Tory MP, he’s in the book quite heavily, drunk!
SB:  Where was he the MP for?
NP:  He was the MP for Barnet.  He lived in Essenden in Beatrix Potter’s old house.  So he’s in the book. He appears a couple of times.
SB:  Where is Essenden?
NP:   It’s in Hertfordshire borough, Broadwater I think. Or Ware maybe. Does anybody know the boroughs of Hertfordshire? The boroughs of Hertfordshire are Hertsmere, Broadwater, Hitchin, erm, er, erm, Threewaters, and the other one is called um Dacorum, the borough of Dacorum and that’s Hemel Hempstead.  
AW:  I can imagine someone with that as a surname.
SB:  Dacorum, what a brilliant name!
NP:    It’s a very old name. D A C O R U M. It’s one of the hundreds of Hertfordshire. I’ve actually got a book on it.
SB:   You seem to have a book. So what’s the best part about writing a book?
NP:   When it’s going well, it’s mood altering.  
SB:  The worst part?
NP:  When it’s not going well you feel like a complete and utter joke. And you get these sort of hideous Guardian voices in your head going,“this book is ........undecipherable whining voice.  Just sort of like steamrolling over it....Like have you seen some of the comments on, you know we put London Perambulator on You Tube, have you seen some of the comments that have been put up there? Really insulting; “You pretentious wankers”, “A load of arse droppings!” somebody says, Nick laughs. (London Perambulator is a film about NP directed by John Rogers. AW and I attended it’s debut at the Whitechapel Gallery in 2009. There was a panel discussion afterwards with Will Self and John Sinclair, chaired by Andrea Phillips with Nick left sitting in the audience.)
AW:  Oh great! Let me join in. I’ll sign up and join in.
SB: What was brilliant, a bit serious and maybe not as funny, was something that you yourself flagged up on your Facebook page about a comment made by a guy who made a point about nature and how it’s a place to just be natural in. It‘s not to be literally disected in that way and made into another story. It is it's own being.
AW:   This is one of the fundamental issues about being human, is that we aren’t like the animals. We have to do things to survive in nature. The animals, who are pretty much pre-dispositioned to do certain things in order to surive from birth.  
NP:  I agree. We create more sort of ornate procedures for survival.
AW:  So the more imbedded you are in society, actually the further away you are from nature.
SB:  The interesting thing for me about the points that you have both made is that we can choose to make constructive, healthy artefacts towards our own survival. For instance, by increasing our vibration and what we do in the world. Or we can go the so called ‘wrong' way and create less than happy outcomes and scenarios. And animals, that’s the difference is that they’re geared towards just eating, mating, and producing young and nurturing. Whereas some of us do that, and others of us get twisted up in the process and need outlets like art and writing, to even cope with the notion of even doing something.
NP:  I do think that guy was wrong in one fundamental sense in that writing about nature, that has helped to preserve it to the extent that it has been preserved, is that it has brought it in to the public frame of consciousness. So he is wrong about that. And, of course, you’re always never quite one with nature, however hard you try to write about it and try to immerse yourself in it, you’re always producing something that’s a cultural artefact, rather than nature itself, otherwise you could just give a big pile of seeds and sticks and things.
AW:   Kind of. That’s right. Because our essence is somehow removed from nature, but yet we are embodied by it. We can’t escape it.
NP:  I think we’re always cultural beings.
AW:   What is culture?
NP:  Everything we do.  
SB: Let’s look at Nick’s point from an ecological perspective. Are we anthropomorphic or anthrocentric? Or is nature something outside of us? Apply this to Merops - one way of finding out is by putting yourself into nature and letting it shape you, which is how I see Nick’s personality developing and working through other people in that way or connecting with likeminded people.
AW:   What you’ve just identified at that exact point – I don’t know if you realised it – you kind of hit...
SB:  Well, my grandfather went to Oxford, and so did my dad. I think I probably realised it on some level.
AW:   Concentrate on yourself, concentrate on your self!
AW: Erm, we are nature. But it’s our consciousness and the evolution of our consciousness that kind’s the elastic band effect. We’re kind of, you know, we’re kind of trying to remove ourselves and yet at the same time we try to analyse it. One minute we’re stretching ourselves away and then we’re (big slap of the hands) trying to be right in the middle of it.
SB:   Whereas animals are just being in it.  
AW: They’re just getting on with it, man. Laughs. So are the plants, so are the microorganisms, so are the viruses, these little splodges, they’re all doing it.
NP:   I reckon mammals, it might just be species identification because I’m a mammal. I reckon mammals are separate to quite a large degree. I think they’re quite conscious. They’ve got quite highly developed brains, haven’t they.
SB:   They’re sentient. And they can also make humans feel good as well. You know, our interactions with animals.
NP & AW:  Cats and dogs! Yes! They have that effect.
NP:   They’re a halfway house.
SB:  Animals also help humans have this mystical connection with the divine as well. You see people going out to places like Seal Island just to look at the seals and they will also “see” other things. They go to raise their conscious connections.
AW:  Yeah! And there are other people that will bash their heads in! Skin them and gut them.
SB:  That is humanity. That’s where we choose to be constructive or destructive. That’s the point that I’m making. And, that’s exactly where we’re at  this time.
AW:   The other realism behind this is that mammals, in terms of survival, we’re the predators. That is our premise on this planet.
SB:   Sings softly, “We are the predators.”  That would make a good song!
NP:   I’d say we’re rapacious, almost.
SB:   Rapacious! I love that word. We are the predators, not just of our natural world, but of all our constructions and each other.
AW:   We’re predators of our own kind.
SB:   Yeah, alright. So we’ve all passed! Laughs and adds, our sell by date!
AW:  " Shit ting!" "Shit ting!" A phrase from a Keith Lemon's game show Celebrity Juice.  
NP: Fidgets and brings his mobile phone out of his pocket. I’ll show you a picture.
SB:  Who is that gorgeous little girl?
NP:  Rehana, (his girlfriend) and here’s the other lady in my life. His black and white cat Bella.  Isn’t that a sweet little photograph.
SB:  I prefer that one – pointing to Bella – she’s got a bigger aura!
SB: We’ve got a new black and white cat that will come, a new addition.
AW:  Yes, we’re coaxing a new one into the fold.
SB:  It’s like candle-gazing, staring at a pussy-cat.
NP:  Oh, I just stare at her for hours. Isn’t that a beautiful photograph? She sleeps on the bed with us.
AW:  What kind of phone is that Nick?
NP:  Er, Blackberry. It’s not a Smart phone.  It sort of like, it was new six years ago.
AW:  So, is it still 3G?
NP:   I don’t know what that means. I can get Internet on it. It’s a bit slow and I can get emails and I get 300 minutes a month for £35.
AW:  3G, 3G, 3G! I’ve just managed to successfully do something. I just got this new sim. There’s a new company that’s just come out that’s obviously part of O2 and it’s called Gifgaf.
NP:  Uh huh.
AW:  And for a £10 goodie bag, which lasts for one month, I get 250 minutes, unlimited texts and unlimited internet. And, every time I’ve made a call, they send you a nice little message telling you how many minutes you have left.  £10! £10!
NP:  Well they don’t do that. I have to phone them up and go through a whole procedure. It’s so easy to go over 300 minutes.  
SB:  Kettle’s boiled. Do you want coffee or tea?
NP:  Tea please. It’s so easy to go over 300 minutes, especially with, er Rehana. I phone her up to say goodnight and thirty-five minutes later.....
SB:  She’s lovely. She looks like your daughter.
NP:  She is 42 years old!
SB: Mmm, she looks much, much younger doesn’t she?
NP:  Yeah, she’s gorgeous.  I’m very proud to be her boyfriend (he sighs).
SB: That’s wonderful!
AW:  I reckon I’ve got your pictures.
SB:  Phwoar!
NP:  Saucy! No,  I really like her. She’s really good to walk with. Where’s my other little Bella pictures? She’s so sweet, isn’t she?  I really love her.
SB:  They’ll be one coming up through there soon, a black and white pussy cat, (Motioning to the corridor through the brambles and ferns in the garden up to the French windows).  
NP:   So, have you brought them into the house yet?
SB:  No, not fully.  And, he’s not at all like Randy (a loveable ginger cat that had previously spent hours with us, but whose owners had moved out of the neighbourhood taking him with them).
NP:  It’s awful about Randy, isn’t it?
SB:  I know. He’s not as food orientated as Randy. (The new neighbour’s kitten, who we call Chopper Hadron, not knowing what his real name is. We knew Randy’s name because he wore a collar saying, “My name is Randy, I am a diabetic, please do not feed me." But Randy was almost constantly hungry and we did give him titbits).  
NP:  You’ll never know what happened to Randy will you? That’s the awful thing.
SB:  I think his owners moved out to the sticks a little bit because they had these two bull dogs and three cats.
NP:  But, he had such a beautiful set of gardens here.
SB:   Well, his void has eventually been filled by this larger black and white cat and her kitten, which turned out to be her sibling.
AW:  Both you guys having a cup of tea?
SB:   Can I have half a sugar please?
AW:  Nick. Are you having a cup of tea?
NP:   Yeah. No sugar. Please.
NP:  You’ve got loads of little birds out there, haven’t you. Tits!
SB:  Blue tits!
NP:   They look like coal tits.
SB:   Oh. There are blue tits out the front.
NP:  There are loads of them. Do they dangle upside down?
SB:  Yeah, we had a really nice summer in that garden. You know. Just loads and loads of butterflies. Loads of good nature in there. It’s like my little eco-system. I'd like to put a geodesic dome over it when the pollution gets so bad.
NP:   You don’t want a geodesic dome over that! It would be nice to put it in an auric bubble.
SB:  That’s kind of what I mean.
SB:   I don’t want that. I can change.
NP:   Yeah. Course you can.
SB:   In our relationship, you and me, the thing that we need to be aware of is not talking too much about, you know, our partners and stuff. I’m really glad I’ve seen picture of your beautiful  girlfriend, and we don’t even need to talk about that. (Nick and I historically mulled over our partners or people we liked, which never really help the situation at hand).
NP:  Thank you sir! (addressing Andy and the cup of tea)
SB:   We don’t have to churn ourselves inside out and get depressed.
NP:  I don’t do that. I just refuse to do that to myself.  The last time just about finished me. Anyway,  I find I always meet people when I’m not looking for anybody.
AW:  It’s normally always the way Nick. Life has it's funny ways.
SB:   Life is a very funny thing.
NP: The ones that you feel that you’re going to ignite over and it’s like being on an LSD trip, fortunately, probably, they never seem to be interested in me.Whereas, the ones that I have a real relationship with, which can be great and can be really difficult sometimes, and where you learn about yourself, because you’re in the real world and you’re not in some kind of fantasy world, er, you know, they just turn up when they’re ready. I liked Rehana the first time I saw her but I just walked into her one day and that was it.
SB:  On a walk?
NP:  No, she came back from Australia and I arranged to meet her in Highgate and she came back to mine that night.
SB:  Highgate is beautiful isn’t it?
NP:  Yeah, I used to not like Highgate, but I’ve grown to be quite fond of it actually.
AW:  Highgate’s alright.
SB:   When I was 14, I used to go up to Highgate and go into the toilets in the green huts on Pond Square and change out of my school uniform into ski pants and little gold ankle boots like Aladin Sane or something. I used to kick the leaves up and soak up the atmosphere. I remember being invited backstage to a Clash gig and Joe Strummer was there with his gorgeous girlfriend and Chrissy Hinde was swanning around. Autumn was my favourite time then. I felt quite proprietal about Highgate and then suddenly Sting moved in!  
AW: Highgate’s become the land of bankers, top lawyers. It’s seriously moved on a bit more.
NP:   It still feels a bit bohemian.
AW:  Only because they’ve got lots of money.
NP: I think it’s more the buildings and the second-hand bookshop, which has shut down.
SB:   The bookshop with the cafe attached to it?
NP:  No, the one with the old man who was stone deaf and was into porn apparently, from what I’ve heard.  A friend of mine used to know him quite well and reckons that he used to run cine clubs in the back room.  Sort of like “18 and Willing” Scandanavian films! Our new season of Swedish films, that sort of world.  It’s really quite old fashioned.  You can see worse on You Tube any time now. Not on You Tube, but somewhere or other.
AW:  You Tube is doing a very good job of clamping down on any form of Internet porn. They’ve got a pretty good clean image on that front.
NP:   But the comments that people write just make me feel ill. I mean, I saw one the other day because I like to go on that random cat one, you know the one where you get  cat You Tube, cat videos and there was one of a cat meowing, I don’t know what it was and some of the comments were really offensive.
AW:  Do you guys know what’s the latest cat story in the news?
SB:   What, like the women who put a cat in the bin?
AW:  A guy in Ramsgate was caught on camera coming out of a pub and he’d got a cat by it's tail and he was wooshing it round. And now they want that guy. And they’ve publicised it saying, If you know this person...
NP:  Was the cat killed?
AW:   You didn’t see it on the video. He was whizzing it round and it went out of the view of the camera. But you could quite clearly see the amount of abuse and torture he was delivering to the animal. Terrible.
SB:   So tell me a little bit about, you know, we both made little films walking though the “greenery” (mine in 2004) both had a similar number of hits on You Tube.  And then, you went comparatively stratospheric when Russell Brand tweeted about you. What were the circumstances behind that?
NP:  What, behind getting Russell Brand involved? I met him in Hamsptead. You know where?
SB:   In the Coffee Cup? Yeah. (We both know that Nick met Russell Brand somewhere else and that the Coffee Cup is a euphemism for NA, Narcotics Anonymous, which has a meeting in Hampstead that reconvenes to the Coffee Cup.
NP:  That’s right. And he introduced me to John Rogers and then John Rogers made the film and then Will (Self) said he’d do his bit and then Ian Sinclair did his bit because John’s quite good at networking and I said, “Look, it’s just no good” We’ve got Will Self and Ian Sinclair, it’s just not good enough, we’ve got to get Russell Brand as well!”  But we were only mucking around and that whole project was just a bit of a laugh more than anything else. But it’s amazing what it buys you and it’s unfortunate that society’s like that.  But on the other hand, I’m not doing anything that a lot of other people haven’t done. Do you know what I mean?  And it’s not like I’m whizzing round in a four wheel drive treating people like shit or anything like that. You know, I’m still Nick, fucking struggling to get by, I’ll tell you, struggling. (my photo of Will Self below)
SB: These people were your mates anyway. And it all kind of spun out of the City of Disappearances, the Ian Sinclair collection of short stories and then the debut of your film London Perambulator, at the Whitechapel Gallery where Ian Sinclair and Will Self had a bit of a platform for you.
NP:  I found that discussion they had on stage so boring.
SB:  It was very heady. It was very academic.
AW:  She was trying to unhinge something (Andrea Phillips). She was “I am the person who is going to find out the little dirty story or something.”
NP:  But she apologised profusely for that afterwards. She was really nice actually. She said that all that she did was that she miscalculated it. She was just trying to get the conversation off to a kicking start. And Will (Self) and her are ok. She said that I had no intention of suggesting anything. I just basically put my foot in it and so that was all ok.
AW:  Hello Chopper! (enter little kitten!)
SB:   Look at this one!
NP:   Oh. Oh look. Look at him. He’s lovely, isn’t he. Oh! Look, look, look! Like he owns the place! Look!  
AW:  Hello!
SB:  He’s got lovely eyes!
NP:  Is it alright us being here? (to the cat).
SB:  Er, ooh, who’s that? Well, the thing is, is that it’s like...
NP:  Ooh! He’s really sweet. He’s got really white legs.  
AW:  Hello Chops!
NP:  He’s a youngster isn’t he?
SB:   He’s only just had a growth spurt. He stayed kittenish for a long time.
NP:  Oh!  He’s lovely isn’t he?  I love cats.
SB:  His mum’s similar.  A bit bigger, but with a big white tip on her tail, which is really, really, striking.
NP:  What’s his name?
AW:   I don’t know.
SB:   We don’t know. But we love him. Hello Felix! (popular brand name for black and white cat food).
NP:  He’s got a pink nose. Yeah, he looks like Felix doesn’t he?
SB:  Yeah he really does. Doesn’t he?
NP:   Look at his white legs.  Look at them! They look like chaps!
SB:  He’s got a lovely nature. And, it’s only for love, you know, he’s not a foodie. Randy always had an ulterior motive.  But this one......
AW:  (Cooing over the cat.)
SB:  You know I reckon that they actually live (the cats) in the same flat that Randy did.
NP:   Oh look!
AW:   Come on then!
SB:  Erm, Ok.  Well part of your work, erm. Because you’ve got a philisophy degree. By nature your research is quite academic. But your message, your sort of visceral contact that you have with nature isn’t so highfalutin as that talk (at Whitechapel Gallery held without Nick after the debut of his film).  
NP:  What is your message?
AW:   Talking about the cat.  He really wants to go behind the wires (we’re in his studio in my house in Cricklewood) with wet feet, 30 amp fuse, not good.
NP:   Oh, look.
SB:  What are you really trying to say?
NP:   Do you know, I haven’t got a clue.  
SB:   You do, but maybe we need to come back....
NP:  I’m not trying to create a land ethic or anything like that because I don’t think I’m capable of it. I’m trying to create a sort of phantasmorgoric, erm, multifaceted, er, replication of how powerful encounters with the landscape are.
SB:  Isn’t it powerful enough by itself without that. Why do you have to construct....go on what’s the answer.
NP: What’s the answer to what.
SB:  Why do you have to construct your own version of what is already extant?
AW:  Isn’t that the work of the artist?
SB:  Let Nick answer! Because it’s a good question and he raised it up  and he knows it and I’m interested as well.
NP:  I’m not saying that the contents of my book are identical with the landscape that I’m writing about.  But I’d say that each chapter is a tentative approach to an attempt to fuse with the landscape in some kind of way.  But it’s slightly comical and slightly grotesque on occasion.  So you’ve got like for Moor Park you’ve got like a Tory, whose sort of like a member of the golf course [club, sic] and hangs around with Reginald Maulding, who resents the foreigners. And then you’ve got Gloria Geddes, whose into the sex yogic, magic mushroom thing.  And then you’ve got Merops (the crow) who is an eternal.
SB:  I love that concept.  
NP:   And then you’ve got John Osbourne, whose like a witch who was ducked in 1745 at Gubbledycoat and is still alive now murdering people.
AW:  Laughs.
NP:  Actually, you think he might just be a schizophrenic alcoholic.
AW:  Ha Ha!
SB:   Isn’t it just another way of witnessing just from your own perspective, just witnessing how times have changed?
AW:  It’s a mirror pussy cat.
NP:   Yes.
SB:  How you’re changing?
NP:   Yeah.
SB:   And documenting that for yourself and for anyone else that’s interested.
NP:  Well, I don’t know, but they seem to like it.
SB:  I like it!
NP:  And, I’ve already got plans for my next book and I’ve already had discussions about that.  So, hopefully I can keep this up if the economy doesn’t go into meltdown and if it does, I’m sure I’ll find another way to do it.
AW:   What do you mean? It is barely holding on with it’s teeth.
NP:   What happens when the economy goes into meltdown?
AW:   Well basically....
NP:   You can’t buy milk anymore?
SB:   Well, I think people have to change their value systems, don’t they?
AW:   You're talking about it from a personal perspective.  
SB:  We’ve got more money to buy milk than we had ten years ago despite there being a huge eruption in world events and stuff.  That milk is still available in the supermarkets, but we’re still chucking it away even more and charging [paying, sic] the farmer even less. That in itself is an edifice, you know the economy going bust.
AW:  Certain rules,  kitty cat!
NP:  So you don’t think we’d have anarchy on the streets?
AW:  Course we would.
NP:  Which would mean drug bullies kind of like taking over everything.
AW:  Nick!  There are more weapons in this country since the firearms ban that there ever has been before.
SB:  That’s the knife-edge isn’t it, that society is playing. We’re playing with this polemic, you know should we build, construct or should we destroy?  And we’re taking that, because we are very immature, to you know, into very dangerous positions in some ways, but that could also be very liberating.
AW:   Of course.  I’m totally with all that.  But, you know,  I think Nick’s question was a bit more far reaching.  I think he was questioning on a larger scale rather than a personal scale.
SB:   Can we buy milk?  Yes we can and if we can’t we might all just move to the country and buy a house cow.
AW:  There are too many people in this country to all move to the country.  This is the problem.
NP:   It wouldn’t really be in the country anymore.
SB:   Yeah.  It would be a population expansion version of you know how we’ve divided up the country, you know, we’re either stewarding it, again, we’re either destroying it or preserving it.  Aren’t we?  Anyway, when you put your video on...what made Russell [Brand] want to tweet it? Because that’s significant isn’t it?
NP:   I went to an AA meeting and when I came out it had gone up 800 hits. (At time of transcribing this interview the full length documentary has 17,610 hits on You Tube).  It’s ridiculous.  But now it’s about 30 a day, which is still fairly healthy.  But it seems a bit dull after that. Um, no um, John (Rogers, the director) put it on You Tube eventually  because he just felt that there was no point on still trying to get it on the rounds.  We’ve had it at various shows and things.  And then Russell tweeted it after about three weeks or two weeks and then it went rocketing, sort of.   It’s not really rocketed has it?  I mean, I bet you that guy spinning the cat around will have more hits in an hour than I’ll have in a year! Do you know what I mean?  At that’s the sad status (Actually, at time of transcription, man swinging cat by tail caught on CCTV has 11,535 hits on You Tube).  
AW:  Oh it will! Exactly. That is the disease.
SB:  That’s exactly what I said to Andy.  Two people like something that I’ve written.  Three hundred and twenty-five people like The Only Way is Essex!  Well you know, I like The Only Way is Essex, but what I’m doing is just as valid.  What is the common denominator? People find it easier to switch off and absorb, rather than go inwards and think about something.
NP:  It’s what each individual takes away from it.
AW:  Ooh you little shit!  (talking to the cat)  
SB:   Unless it’s got porn attached to it or breast enlargements  or....
NP:  Violence.
SB:   Or just intrigue.
NP:  Or like some schizophrenic being arrested.
AW:  Or some really lame comments, that we all really know deep down, but we just want to have a little giggle over.
NP:  I saw some great videos of what’s his face.  Who’s the guy from Newsnight?
SB:   Oh,  Jeremy Paxman.
NP:  I’ve seen some great ones of him putting his foot in it.  And stuff like that. There’s one where he challenges this Welsh economist and this guy just really pulls him up. He goes “Go on. Do  your homework.”  And you know, he’s really rude these days, Jeremy Paxman, And he interupts.  
AW:   Oh yeah.
NP:   He goes, “You haven’t answered my question.
SB:  I know he’s brilliant! (Some years later I met Jeremy Paxman at an event in a London)
NP:  And this guys goes, “I have answered your question. If you look London has a 115%....”  And he goes, “Go on do your homework.”  And you see Jeremy Paxman getting his paper out and he puts his reading glasses on and he’s going “Oh God!”  like that and he’s trying to find this thing. And this guy goes, “You see, you haven’t done read the figures properly” And then he goes “Well anyway, you still haven’t answered my question properly. He’s so rude that guy.  He had that student leader on and he sort of like was laying into her.  He doesn’t let people answer the questions. He thinks it’s all about him.
SB:   He was in a film recently.  He’s parodied himself.  That’s the thing, he obviously knows....He’s paid to do that.  He’s paid a lot of money to agitate.
AW:  How much do you think he’s paid every year for being who he is?
NP:   A few hundred thousand.
SB:  Three hundred and fifty thousand.  It’s got to be.
AW:   He earns more that the politicians and the other people that he criticises and questions.
SB:  He’s got self worth!
NP:  He’s not a bad bloke. He’s just a bit...I think his hearts in the right place. I think it’s rude to ask someone a question and then try and humiliate them on screen.
AW:  But that’s part of the enticement of Newsnight. That’s part of the set up. The producers quite clearly say to him: “We’re going this way. We know that might not be true, but push it anyway.”
NP:  It’s gladiatorial.
AW:   Because we want the entertainment factor on a sort of intellectual level so that intellectuals can come and see that.
NP:  And still think that they’re being intellectual.
SB:  Let’s talk about Merops a little bit. This eternal witness to...
NP:  Whatever it is.
SB:   North London...The North Middlesex Tertiary Escarpment.
AW:  I went passed that statue a few times. That woman, that young girl, you know, the one you showed me.
NP:  The Naked Lady?
AW:   Yeah, haha. Yeah. We’ve been working out that way, so we keep driving past it.
NP:  I’ve heard rumours that ..Hugh Petrie, of London Borough of Barnet told me that it was modelled on a 14 year old girl, which means that it’s illegal, because it a naked depiction of a minor.
SB:   There’s one like that in Gladstone Park, a little mermaid that doesn’t look a day over 16, does she?
AW:  And there’s one in Golders Hill Park as well isn’t there?
NP:  Yeah, but she’s dressed.  
SB:  She got a little tutu on.
AW:  But it’s the mode, the pose.
SB:  It’s the Lolita kind of mindset isn’t it. And, actually, only rarely do you see a 14 year that is really, truly, seductive. They're not ten a penny. So yeah, maybe that’s what they’re saying, it’s a rare, but....Anyway, I’m going to make some lunch for us I think at some point.  Got duck egg, bacon.
NP:   I’m tempted, but I might have to nip off to Moor Park if I’ve lost my photographs.
AW:  I’m about half way through the process Nick, so you might as well have a spot of lunch and we’ll know by the end of it.
NP:  Ok. That would be nice. That would be nice.
AW:  Got any beans darling?
SB:  Yeah. I think we’ve got everything.
NP:  Duck egg?
SB:  Yeahhh.
NP:  I’ve never had duck egg.
SB:  Of you’re in for a treat!
AW:  What was that? Oh, that was the post.
NP:  Oh, he’s a real little cutie!  I wonder if he’ll like....Look what Rehana brought me?  Where is it? Went to a book launch last night. And then we went to Nandos.
SB:  I like Nandos.
NP:  I went to Nandos on my eigth sobriety birthday and me and Rehana went to Nandos and I really enjoyed it. It was really new. And, then we went again last night and it was nowhere near as good. It was like, We’ve done it, do you know what I mean? It was all a bit... I just thought this is £10 a head and it’s only a couple of pieces of chicken and the side dishes are just not very good. The chips are awful.
SB:  What area were you in?
NP:  We were in Kings Cross last night. We went to a book launch. There’s this guy Craig Taylor. He’s written a book called Londoners. And he came up on Scarp with me and John [Rogers] and John Ellick, my agent was there as well.  And all these people were being introduced to me. And this woman (starts whispering, listen) came up to me and she goes, oh yeah, I really loved what I read of your book and I tried to get a copy.  I said, er yeah well, you know, you’ll have to wait until next June before you can get a copy.  She obviously hadn’t seen any of it! It was quite embarassing. John looked sort of a bit aghast.  
AW:  Constantly communicating with the cat in the background.
SB:   There are people that are just...
NP:  A bit bulshitty. But I think she was just trying to be a social lubricant. It was all a bit winey, and a bit kind we let Craig do his talk and then I sort of said to him, “Well done” and that because I like Craig a lot. And me and Rehana, we were only there 35 minutes. And then we went off to Nandos.
SB:  I just trying to think if there is another, Pizza Express might have been good. You could have strolled up to Coptic Street to the Pizza Express, but then it is just a pizza, you know.
NP:  We were ok doing Nandos. We had to find out that, you know, second time isn’t nearly as good as the first time.
AW: Yeah – to the cat.
SB:  Yeah.
NP:  Oh that’s what she brought me.
SB:  Of that’s gorgeous. But you’re wearing that. I was admiring that, that gives you a lot of security. What sign is she?
AW:  That’s silk!
SB:  Put it back on. It really suits you. But just don’t get egg on it!
NP:  No. I’ll wear it when I leave.
SB:  Yeah.
NP:  Yeah. Merops was a real crow. He belonged to Eliza Brightwen, who was a nature writer.  And she helped co-found The Royal Society for The Protection of Birds.
AW:  Ok.
SB:  For me that’s facinating because those are the hisotrical threads of our society that still need support, and they need to be channelled or trammelled, and you're sort of finding a way of...
AW:  They’re disappearing, they’re fading.
NP:  Channelled or trammelled?  
SB:  Yeah. You were channelling.
NP:  Channelled?  Trammelled means to restrict something, doesn’t it?
SB:  Oh. I thought it meant to walk a path.
AW:  So much for your Oxford education then darling!
NP:  No, no, no! She might be right actually. Laughing....Dictionary....
AW:  It’s over there if you want to be sure.
NP:  I might check it.
SB:  I think what I mean is it's like walking the path again. So, walking in the path that someone’s already laid.
NP:  Yeah. Maybe.
SB:  But yeah. Erm. Are there any other connections that go back to these.. . channelling these things so that people can really understand?
NP:  Well, she was a good friend of WH Hudson who was a nature writer. And she was also a good friend of Sir Montagu Sharpe, who was Chairman of the Middlesex County Council (something that NP describes himself and his website has the same name) and also founded the Royal Society For The Protection of Birds.
SB:  Do you think that they were happening at the same time, you know, like about 1920?  
NP: She was dead by 1906. She was quite a successful writer. She must have known Beatrix Potter though. You know, I find it astonishing that erm....
SB:  What did Eliza Brightwen write about, Nick?
NP:  Erm. Plants. She was quite scientific in her botany. Making friends with animals. She had a whole menagerie up at the Grove at er, Stanmore. She had like an antelope. She had er, a lemur.  
SB:  So a little bit post pre-Raphaelite?
NP:  She was a Quaker. She was a bit stiff. She had a um, listen to this, she had a erm. She had a em, she had a um, what do you call? She had a um, grotto. I’ve seen photographs of it.
SB: Crystals and frogs and things?
NP:  It ‘s got um, its got shells in the roof.
SB: Ummm.
NP:  And they built a housing estate on the site over her old house there and I was wandering around in the Rhodedendrums there and I found the grotto. And it ‘s used by the local sort of like Special Brew, dope smoker type people.
AW:  Laughing.
NP:  And it’s like scattered completely with sort of like arse-wipes and kind of like fucking cans and fucking condoms and needles and fuck knows what else, you know what I mean, yeah!
SB:  So, what was a beautiful grotto....
NP:  is now grotty!
SB: is now a den of inequity!
NP:  Yeah, but it’s still a beautiful grotto.
SB:  So is it possible to restore that?
NP:  Yeah. Yeah.
SB:  Where is it?
NP:  Stanmore.
SB:  And her house is not there in the garden?
NP:  Her house was taken over by Marconi and they had a big kind of radio research centre up there.
AW:  And that’s the building I showed you, the Marconi building.
SB:  You know he’s got this very strange Marconi symbol.
NP:  No, that’s now been demolished and that’s now a housing estate. So what you’re thinking of is somewhere else.
SB:  Yeah. They’ve relocated the Marconi offices to somewhere near Berkeley Square, Marconi House.
AW:  Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about.
NP:  Alright. Maybe they always had a headquarters there.
AW:  Beautiful, beautiful bronze above the doorway when you go in. Beautiful piece of work.  Abstract and interesting. It’s got the 1930’s written all over it.
NP:  I think I know where that it, and I think that that used to be a Home Office department there years and years ago.
AW:  That would make sense.
NP:  Does it look a bit ministerial, sort of Civil Service, sort of?
AW:  It is a building, it was a building of purpose.  
NP:  Sort of dark brown brick?
AW:  Oh no. It’s stone cladded. It’s a marble cladded building.
NP:  She was really into insects. I really like her, Eliza Brightwen. She had a pet rook called Merops and I adopted him and decided to use him as a figure and he steals Ann Aston’s engagement ring from...
SB:  A hairdressers?
NP: ...My Fair Lady, yeah and that's actually historically accurate. She did lose her engagement ring at a Hendon hairdressers in 1974. But I’ve sort of shifted it to Mill Hill for certain reasons.
SB:  And a lot of people will remember The Golden Shot (Ann Aston was the hostess on that 1970’s TV show) won’t they? It was a bit of a family sort of, you’d sit round that on a Sunday evening with “Bernie the Bolt” and she’d go and measure the...
NP:  Did Bob Monkhouse do it for a while?
SB:  It was Bob Monkhouse...
NP:  No. I think a wrestler did it for a while?
AW:  I’ll just amuse the cat.
SB:  That’s the only thing with cats, they need a lot of entertainment.
AW:  He loves it! I know why he likes it, he likes it!
SB:  I’ll tell you what. This cat can climb trees like you wouldn’t believe. He really can.
NP:  As they get older they lose the ability.
SB:  Really?
NP:  My youngsters, they used to run up the tree, run along the branch and leap into the next tree like a squirral. I couldn’t imagine any of them doing that now. They get a bit middleaged don’t they when they’re about 5 or 6? They get a bit more tubby. They get a bit more sleepy.  Bella just sleeps all day if I don’t put her out.
SB:  She’s very sweet.
NP:  Who Bella? She’s a sweetheart.
SB:  Have you still got the other two?
NP:  Yeah.  
SB: They stay outside?
NP:  If I can, I’ll catch them and bring them in when it’s really cold.
SB:  How are you feeling about the winter?
NP:  Yeah. I’m fine.
AW:  How’s your nice new kitchen?
NP:  Fantastic!
AW:  Yeah. I’ll bet it is.  
NP:   We got new kitchen, new bathroom, new windows......
AW:  Wicked!
NP:  .....New front door, new balcony.
AW:  Whaaaa!
NP:  The new balcony’s not up yet.  The only thing is is that the plumbing’s a bit cheap so you can sort of smell other people’s crap sometimes when you’re in the bathroom.
SB:  Oh. That’s annoying.
AW:  There’s ways round that. What you’ve got, if you owned that property and you had to pay for that, you’re looking at £30,000.
NP:  £40,00 it is and a full two years to pay back. Oh, and that’s not the new kitchen and bathroom. They don’t get it. The private, the owners don’t get the kitchen and bathroom. That’s strictly council and there still having to pay £40,000 just for the windows and for the doors.
AW:  Black and white cat! Black and white cat!
NP:  It’s gorgeous. The kitchen’s absolutely lovely. And I brought a new oven to go with it with my Arts Council Grant. I have to account for that.
AW:  Ok well done.
SB:  Is it really clean the oven now? ( we spent a few hours cleaning the old cooker and kitchen).
NP:  Well it’s sort of cleaner than the old one that’s for sure.
SB:  Now my friend’s written this film script and it’s really quite actually an interesting story. It’s a story that we’re sort of familiar with. It’s about a holocaust survivor and the impact that it has on his daughter, you know, the family. I’m going to ask Henrietta Barnett (the school my friend and I went to) if they will let her film part of it there. The character's best friend lives in a council flat, sort of fairly near by. I think your flat would be, Harpenmead Point, would be a really good location to include, and also you know the garage on the corner on Edgware Road that goes all the way to Golders Green and then there’s those block of houses, erm, they’re usually a bit boarded up and loads of hippies live there on and off. On the Finchley Road, not the Edgware Road.
NP:  On the corner of Cricklewood Lane?
SB:  Yeah.
NP: Yeah. That’s now a pizza place. Sort of get your car washed and have a pizza at the same time. It’s a bit temporary.
SB:  I think those three locations would be really good. Harpenmead Point, there’s a squat in the script, then you go up the road to the Bar Linda, which is in Golders Green. So I’m going to put her in the car and just take her round to these locations. Obviously, she’s from North London as well, so she’s aware. But that might be quite good and maybe we could get a bit of money to do it as well.
NP:  Well you can use my flat if you want. No problem. No problem.
SB:  And I reckon she will eventually get to Cannes. And she’s bloody good at making short films.
NP:  What’s her name?
SB:  Sam Edwards.  She went to my school and her name’s Sam Portwood, but she married a guy called Ed Edwards.
NP:  Have I met her?
SB: Not yet.
NP:  Who was that woman I met that night we were in the pub? We were doing the pub quiz.
SB:  That was Stephanie.
AW:  Different kettle of fish. She’s nice. She’s talented. Steph’s a bit like, I’m going to work you out, see what I can squeeze out of it. And, she’ll talk behind your back.
SB:  Yeah, perhaps she can be a bit judgmental like that. Sam would never say anything bad about anyone.
NP:  Who is Wendy Lee? I think I might know her.
SB:  Yeah. Wendy went to my school too. She sort of arrived there with her sister. Her sister went up to Oxford. But we sort of foolishly decided to just go out every night. We got a bit sort of run down, even at that age.  
NP:  Was that when you were going sort of like to the clubs?
SB:  Yeah. I started taking her out with me.
NP:  You’ve seen her a bit recently.
SB:  Yeah.  I’m seeing her on Monday.  She’s had a terrible health issue - Crohn’s disease. And she’s actually just had a stoma put in.
NP:  What’s that?
SB:  You know, when you poo into a bag.
NP:  What a drag.
SB:  But you know she is a good writer. She’s had a piece published in the Guardian.
AW:  Didn’t she write for Corrie (Coronation Street) for a while?
SB:  She used to write for Eastenders and Corrie and...She used to be very closeted about writing almost so you were not sure if she was really doing it or not.  Whereas now our relationship’s changed a bit, she’s a bit more open and Andy suggested that she start writing with other people. And, always in the past she was no, no, no I’m not going to that. But now she’s met this guy who has also got the same condition as her and they’re going to start writing together so....
AW:  Oh good shot cat!  He got it in the hole! Well done!
SB:  I like to promote her a little bit. Because I just love my friends. Those girls. We had good times. We got into a lot of things that 15-16 year olds didn’t, really, oughta, shouldn’t do! But we did them!
AW:  To the cat – Is that your trophy? Do you want to go and take your trophy out into the garden?
NP:  Laughing. He’s taking it with him.
AW:  Go on son! You’re welcome. Take your trophy darling.
NP:  Sam, you're not a panic attacky person are you?
SB:  The first time I had one I was supposed to meet a friend at the Union Chapel and they didn’t show up. And I was like, oh that’s a bit weird. And on the way home I just thought I was going to fucking die. It was horrible.
AW:  Palpitations? Breathlessness?
SB:   Last Friday, it was pretty bad.
NP:  Do you get that when your arms move? When they start flapping?
SB:  Laughing. No.
AW:  Do you get pain? Heart pain?
SB:  No.  I get this kind of sensation that it’s all game over.
NP:  Does it feel like everything’s just going to spin away?
SB:  Yeah.
NP:  I get that feeling sometimes.  I actually think that’s a true comprehension of the state of the world. Laughing. It’s like fuck. This is just crazy. It’s just mad. How long before it all just goes to pieces? Mind you, it goes to pieces for people all of the time, doesn’t it. And for creatures as well. But in big scale.
SB:  This is what’s interesting about these things that I’ve been following, because in a sense I’m still leading a little bit (by writing about and investigating this stuff) and that is exhausting in itself. But this ecocide connection. It’s when things go tits up on a big scale, it’s like exentive damage of ecosystems and this sort of thing.  And yeah, it’s been quite interesting and I went to a mock trial at the Supreme Court a couple of Fridays ago.  
NP:  Hey yes. I saw.
SB:  And, just learning a bit about the history. These threads, again channelling these old acts of law...
AW:  Did you see the latest news about the Tar Sands project?
SB:  Yeah. They are making a pipe-line aren’t they?
NP:  In Alaska?
SB & AW:  Alberta, in Canada.
AW:  Somebody’s lifting the lid on it and now it’s flared up because somebody’s joined the dots between the two companies; pipeline company, tar sand company and exposed their interlinks.  So in a way that’s just going to help bring awareness to what they are doing and maybe change it somehow. They’re still going to do it.
SB: Yeah.
AW:  But you should read it and link it in what you’ve already done.
SB:  Because what’s good is that we know that these things are going on. But actually understanding like the point of law when corporations first became treated with the same rights as a person. That’s when they were able to merge and work for even greater profit. Before that, even though they were maybe not doing things that were good for the environment, they couldn’t merge with other companies to make them even more environmentally damaging, and their profits were regulated in some ways. But as soon as they had the same rights accorded to them as people, that’s when they really took off and became these mega corporations. And, as you know, they were at liberty to do as much damage as they wanted. And in some ways I can relate to that. You know, I’ve been my own worst corporation at times, do you know what I mean?  But we need to change. You know. But just exposing things or even understanding where all these thing originate is a start. You know, I wonder if Brightwen knew Darwin for example?
NP:  Almost certainly. I don’t know about personally. She would have known of him.
SB:  You know - this ecocide thing - when the Deep Water Horizon spill happened, eleven men got blown up that first day.
AW:  Yes.
SB:  Now, no-one really mentions that and even in the trial [mock] at the Supreme Court in London, they steered away from looking at human damages and fatalities.  But what they did look at was the effect on birds.
AW:  Well you know they’ve been given that new access to start again there.
NP:  What’s this? Deep Water what?
SB:  Horizon.
AW:  Deep Water Horizon was a BP project. But it wasn’t entirely BP’s fault.  
NP:  Is that the one that polluted the American coast line?
AW:  Yes. Basically the rig was on hire. Yeah. Another company owned the rig and another company was using it. One of the BP safety people was on site the day before the rig went up and they expressed that they didn’t like the procedures being done on that rig. And way and behold the next day, bang! And BP didn’t know how to solve it. They didn’t have any emergency procedure available for such an event.
NP:  Is that the one where the pipe ruptured on the floor of the sea so they couldn’t fix it?
SB:  For four months.
AW:  Because they’d opened this giant well. The sheer force, the pressure of the oil forcing it’s way out because that’s what it is, the gas and the oil. Whop up it goes!  When they drill a mine, they tap the pressure, they stem it, so that they can get a steady flow of oil, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick. Obviously what happened on the rig is that something went wrong. Too much pressure.  Bang! Flames! Ignite! Simple!
SB:  And that’s the thing. Animals. Another way of looking at this using animals as a conduit to greater understanding of past and future. Is that we might understand humanity a bit more.  Because at the moment we find it hard to be compassionate for our selves and for our fellow human beings.  Maybe that’s something that animals can begin to teach us.  Although we’re wiping wild animals out at a rate of knots, so....
AW: In West Africa, they have now declared the rhino extinct, this week.
SB:   That’s terrible. We need someone to go into rhino conservation.
AW:  The poaching has reached epic proportions because of the Chinese.
SB:  The medicinal quality of the horn.
NP:  Aprohodisiac.
SB:  Like sharks fin.
AW:  Again, exploiting.
NP:  You push everything off the land.
SB:  Yeah. I love land that’s really crystalline. That’s got loads of crystals in it.  It makes me feel good.That’s what I enjoyed about Spain. Oh yeah. I see that! That’s the longest he’s stayed in here, isn’t it? (the cat).
AW:  Yeah. He’s playing. Aren’t you? Little scallywag!
SB:  Big hiccup! Excuse me.
AW:   Basically, I’ve left that rock it (to the cat)...... in the hopes that the rain would effect the hardness of the stone, but it’s not.
SB:  That’s kind of’s not porous is it?
NP:  Re-enters the room. Hey you little monkey (to the cat.)
AW:  It’s partially porous. But it’s much stronger than I anticipated.
SB:  Right. I’m going to make some lunch, and I need to take my thyroxine anyway.
AW:  Here’s the interesting point. This was a creature that was alive. No turn it round, no turn it over (to Nick) come round, use the magnifiying glass.
NP:  That there. The worm sort of thing.
AW:  See the crystals?
NP:  Yeah.
AW:  So that was alive and that would have had a lot of salt water at that time in the creature. And you know, sedimentary stuff and things like that.  
SB: (me crashing pots and pans in the background)
AW:  But the crystals deformed.
NP:  Is that under pressure?
AW:  I don’t know where that came from, someone chiselled that out of the cliff face. Yeah, and because it didn’t crack open the way they wanted to, they discarded it. Because these are the people that go hunting for the big rocks. And they want them whole and they chuck away so much of it. You just walk along there and you just find them. I pick them up and put them in a bag.
NP:  Where’s that? In Dorset?
SB:  Kimmeridge. Yeah.
NP:  Coughs. So this is like a kind of limestone or something, isn’t it?
AW:  Yes. Yes. But it’s a very hard limestone.
NP: Yeah. It is isn’t it. I find it shocking the standard of communication on the internet you know  like the sort of things people say and do. Just to use the example of London Perambulator, (Nick's film). Although it didn’t particularly hurt me, but it’s illustrative. Instead of saying, I didn’t really like this, I found you all a bit arrogant.  It’s like “You’re a bunch of fuck-wit, arseholes, ffffffucking it’s all so childish.
AW:  You have experienced and identified the biggest problem that You Tube has and that is people that just, the geeks terms for this is “trolls”.  They troll the internet, look for something to dump all their shit on....
NP:  Yeah, yeah.
AW:  And they have a good go at it.
NP:  Yeah.
AW:  They’re called trolls. It’s like troll, troll, troll. Ignore the troll, slap the troll. But You Tube is a free service, so they’re not going to employ, you’know 500 people to sit there deleting all this stuff. So, in a way, people are left to their own devices. And, it does actually indicate how sad some people are.  
NP:  A  lot of people.
AW:  It’s a freedom of expression. It’s a tool for freedom of expression and of course, the trolls don’t know how to do that for themselves. So, instead, they try to make somebody else’s freedom of expression look bad by ditching little dumpy comments. That’s all it is. It’s a childish, childish game.
NP:  Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.  
AW:  Hello monkey! (to the cat)
NP:  I’ll just see if Rehana’s in. See if she’s ok.
AW:  Oh oh oh oh, easy!  My you’ve got sharp claws! It’s nearly done it Nick! It’s nearly though stage 2. It’s taken an hour and four minutes, but you’ll end up with your piccies.  
NP:  Do you reckon?
AW:  You don’t trust me?
NP:  No it’s not that. You said that it might work, or it might not.
AW:  Yeah. But, I like saying that.
NP:  So this is the sort of thing the Old Bill will use when they get one of those inept criminals who thinks they’ve erased everything on their computer so therefore, there’s no record that they’ve murdered 240 people, like Dr er, Shipman. He just erased all the records from his computer and thought he was safe. They must have been laughing when they er. He must have felt so sick when they came up to him and told him they had all the data. Because it leaves a kind of trace, doesn’t it?  All you’re doing is dispersing the information. Is that right?  It gathers it together again. You’re breaking down the configurations, but you can reconfigure. What’s that sort of scrambling thing that cleans your computer? What’s that called?
AW:  What? Your fragmenter?
NP:  It’s that sort of thing that’s doing that.
AW:  No. No, Well kind of yes and no. That’s my answer to what you just said. I answered every point and that was the array of the responses.
NP:  By breaking up the data, you’re releasing space that’s available for re-configuring new images.
SB:  I start singing in the background as I’m making lunch for Nick and Andy.
AW:  Right. You have...let’s do in terms of a rectangle.  This is your hard drive space, you save a file, it saves it there. It gives it an address, which is done in hex, do you understand hex? Hex is A to F, 1 to 9, it’s a coding system. It’s used everywhere. Watch that cup!  So for example it would be A, C, E, 3, 5, 0, 8, 9, 1, B, D, E.  Now you think, I don’t want that file on my computer anymore.  I’m going to delete it.  You delete it, you think you’ve deleted it. Ok. All that the operating systems has done and this goes across the border; Mac, Linux, PC, your camera, your mobile phone, everything.  This is safeguarded, yeah. This kind of technology information is safeguarded. All it does, it it just deletes the address. The actual data is still there. And, this is where it gets clever and interesting, even if at some point you’ve filled up your hard drive and all of a sudden you say I need a bit more space, well the space is there, you can even write a file over that file where it was before you deleted it and still have the chance of pulling it out of that layer.  Now that is cool, that’s clever, that’s how it works.
NP:  So why does it release space?  Because space is taken up by the hex configurations?
AW:  The hex is an addressing system. It’s like door numbers, that’s all it is.
NP:  Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
AW:  It’s a referenced index system that allow files to be obtained. Yeah!
SB: Making sounds to the cat, C’mon. Hello,  I know, I’ve got garlic on my fingers. Laughing.
NP:  Did he nip you? I love it when cats nip.
SB:  So sweet. He comes and just curls up on me. C’mon have a little rest. Five minutes.
NP:  He’s got a lovely little...
SB:  He’s got lovely eyes.
NP: Lovely little tummy, hasn’t he.
SB:  Yeah!
NP:  I love cats tummies. I love your tummy. Oops! You’re off again are you? He’s not going to sit down long is he? He’s at that age where, you know, he’s got to be permanently active. I remember watching a kitten through a pet shop window and he just moved and moved and moved for twenty give minutes. Just charging and attacking everything. Then in about a second he just lay on his side and fell asleep. Just ran out of energy.
SB:  Like kids really, aren’t they?
AW:  I don’t want him in the rest of the house, not yet.
SB:  Now. We’re a bit worried about Andy. Did you tell Nick?
AW:  No, no. We’re still finishing our conversation.
SB:  What are you talking about?
NP:  Retreiving data that you’ve erased. Sorry, love.
AW:  So even with formatting. All a format is, is a clean up of all the addresses. That’s all it is. There are certain formats that will do it once, twice, thrice. You know, but actually that data is still on that drive.
SB:  Gently to the cat. Five minutes sit down, come on.
NP:  So how do you get it's original address back again then?
AW:  What the recovery software does is it actually looks for the binary fragments. Instead of what the operating system does which is looking for the hex addresses. Do you see the difference?
SB:  The hexaddressimals!
AW:  So what it does, it scans through, oh, there’s no addresses. Right.  But guess what? There’s loads of binary fragments, so it’s using very clever algorithms to analyse the binary and go this clump was a file, this  clump was a file, this clump was a file.
NP:  Does it ever get it wrong?
AW:  Yeah, sometimes it does. Sometimes it can’t put them together and it dumps them into a folder saying “you’re guess is as good as mine, mate! But normally, I’d say eight times out of ten it’s successful, which is good.
NP:  Yeah, it is good.  And is that how the old bill kind of tumble people? Sorry, rumble people, tumble!
AW:  Yup!  That’s how they do it.
NP:  Now it’s reached a level where people like you can get hold of the software.
AW:  Yeah, of course.
NP:  But a few years ago, it was probably like a bit like, MI5’ish?
AW:  Yeah, I suppose. Anyone who work in systems and systems admin has had these tools around them for years long time
NP:  Just in case you accidently erase something.
AW:  Especially. If you’re running say a big corporate enterprise and all of a sudden something happens the OS fucks up the hardrive, which it does happen, even in maths.  Then the IT department has to come down, the systems guy has to get involved.  He’s like.  Give me the machine, scan it, and he will retrieve as much as he can.  I’ve been using the software, I suppose about six or seven years on and off, different versions, different types.  The one I’m using is actually pretty damn good.  There is another one that I use, now that is used by the police.
NP:  So does that mean that’s going to get all the photos that were ever on my camera?
AW:  277. We’re going to find out.
NP:  It must be way over a thousand.
AW:  No, no, it’s found 277. Yeah.  Basically, you know how I was saying about how format wipes the addressing system.  Well, one way of destroying data completely Nick is to format a drive, fill the drive up with something, videos, just something.  Move files about delete, doodle loodle, do that about eight times, software won’t become retreivable.  The layers start...there’s only such much in the layers that they call persistent.
NP:  So these are more likely to be more recent photographs.
AW:  Yes.
NP:  Yeah.  Brilliant.
AW:  Cool isn’t it?
NP:  Yeah, it is good. That’s a nice little card reader I’ve got. £1! Got it from a Pound Shop.
AW:  Where was that?
NP:  Well, my friend brought it for me in Finchley for me.  But I think most of the Pound Shops sell them .  I haven’t seen them.  Can you ask them to get another one?
NP:  Yeah sure.
AW:  Do you know what I mean?  I wouldn’t mind one of those in my hand box you know.
NP:  I’ll ask him now. I’ll just send him a text.
AW:  That’s cool if you can get that for a quid.
NP:  Well, they used to cost about 17 quid.  
AW:  Like I said the one that I use for the digital camera was like £35.
NP:  This more specialist though isn’t it.
AW:  Not really.  It’s just very effective.  You plug it in.  You stick the card in.  Off you go.  But it’s compact flast you see.  Big bulky socket – so you’re paying for all of that. – you see.
NP:  You know the card reader I got for the other camera I had, the one that you ordered me off the Internet?  That I eventually dropped and it broke, that was about five years ago. That card reader.  The card was an identical size and everything.  That card reader won’t read that card.  It will read the old card, but it won’t read that card.  I have no idea why. It might just be a development and technologies left it as an evolutionary dead end.
AW:  This is what happens yeah.
NP:  It’s just sort of defunct really.  And that cost about £9 that reader.
AW:  Here’s an old one. This can read PCMCI cards, which are pretty much obsolete now.