My life as a text adventure – part one: The office

You are in a large room.

There is a desk here. On the desk is a computer with two monitors and a telephone. There are a lot of messy papers nearby.

To the east is an alcove. To the west is a room from which emanates a faint waft of French pop music. To the north is a door.

> Turn on computer

The computer splutters into life and the familiar burble of the “Windows loading” sound comes from a small speaker.

> Wait

After ten minutes the computer is operational.

> Open browser

I’m sorry I don’t understand. Try rephrasing that.

> Start work

I’m sorry I don’t understand. Try rephrasing that.

> Use computer

On the left monitor there is an error message.

> Read message

The message says “You do not have authorisation to perform that function”.

> Use telephone

There is a dial tone on the telephone.

> Dial helpdesk

I’m sorry I don’t understand. Try rephrasing that.

> Pick up computer

The computer is heavy but you struggle and are able to lift it high above your head.

> Throw computer

The computer hurtles across the room before crashing into the south wall. It breaks into a thousand small pieces with an enormous bang.

In the small hole created by the impact of the computer you can see the outline of a keyhole.

> Examine keyhole

There seems to be a secret door here. You peel back the wallpaper to expose the rest of the door.

Drawn by the noise, an IT guy in an ill-fitting suit appears. He looks uncomfortable and stares at his pair of unpolished shoes.

> Open door

The door creaks open revealing a damp passage with uneven steps carved into the stone leading downwards.

The IT guy opens his mouth and says a strange phrase “dev null pipe qwerty syntax error”. He closes his mouth.

> Say Windows

The IT guy shudders.

> Say Ubuntu

The IT guy starts talking at a furious pace and looks distracted, caught up in his own world. This might provide an opportunity to escape without being noticed.

> Down

You go down the stairs and close the door quietly behind you.

It is dark and you cannot see. The dampness is cloying.

> Inventory

You are carrying: an iPhone, a backpack, an oil lamp, a box of matches, and a silver key.

> Use matches

You light a match. Shadows flicker on the damp walls.

> Light lamp

The lamp lights and the shadows recede.

The stairs descend further into the darkness.

> Down


Small stories

Last week I started up a new blog basically to allow me to write about children’s books and vent my frustration at some of the worst around whilst recommending those that I’ve enjoyed reading.

Go and have a read of Small Stories.


Ultima IV: Space

Lord British in space.

I don’t know how many months I lost to Ultima IV in my teens.


Qantas hell – my story of QF31 SYD-LHR diverted via Frankfurt (30/8/08)

As some readers will know I endured a nearly 50 hour journey from Sydney to Brighton recently. What should have been 30 hours ended up being considerably longer and considerably more painful.

The news media has reported on some of the circumstances (Fairfax | News Ltd) but a personal account is always more interesting.

Here’s an excerpt of my complaint letter to Qantas Customer Care.

I am yet to get a response.

To whom it may concern,

I would like to formally register a complaint regarding the level of service provided to me as a traveller on QF31 Sydney-Singapore-London on August 30, 2008. The level of service provided to me as a loyal Qantas customer was so appalling that I have felt compelled to write this letter and seek redress.

Firstly though, I would like commend the crew of QF31 who acted thoroughly professionally in their response to an in-air situation that forced the unscheduled landing in Frankfurt on the morning of Sunday August 31.

What happened thereafter is inexcusable.

The situation:

At Frankfurt Airport we were asked to wait in a café/bar until we were booked on alternative flights. Within 30 minutes all Qantas staff had left leaving us only with local staff who had minimal knowledge of the situation.

With no staff advising us of progress any semblance of organisation quickly broke down. Rumours spread amongst passengers, queues formed with no understanding of why we were queuing. Officials appeared with lists containing some passenger details, then disappeared again.

Three hours later, around 1100, after waiting in a queue at a service counter I was informed by a non-Qantas staff member that I was booked on a Lufthansa flight LH4742 Frankfurt-London at 1955 and I was to take a shuttle bus to the airport Steigenberger hotel to wait and eat a meal, for which the hotel would provide a voucher.

On arrival at the Steigenberger Hotel none of the hotel staff had been informed of our circumstances and were unable to issue vouchers for food. This was eventually rectified at 1500 by which point many customers had already purchased their own food. A 25 Euro voucher was eventually obtained and spent on a very late lunch – the last time we had been provided with food was at 800 that morning.

In the interim I managed to change my connecting National Express bus ticket to Brighton to the 2130 bus from Heathrow for a nominal 5GBP. With the time difference between London and Frankfurt this should have given me plenty of time to collect my luggage and clear immigration.

I left the Steinberger at 1700 and arrived at Frankfurt Airport to check in to the flight that Qantas had organised. At the Lufthansa check in I was informed that whilst a seat had been secured on the flight, the Qantas staff had failed to update the FIM on my ticket and I would have to go to the Qantas service desk in another terminal.

At the other terminal I was informed by airport staff that the Qantas office was not to open until 2000 – despite the fact my flight was at 1955. I was then told to go to a different Lufthansa service desk back in the first terminal where they may be able to do something.

After waiting in the queue at the Lufthansa desk for 90 minutes, along with many other Qantas passengers who had suffered the same fate, I was served at 1915. After many calls and discussions my ticket was updated at 1930, leaving me 25 minutes to make it through security and immigration. I boarded LH4742 but this flight was further delayed, finally disembarking at Heathrow at 2130.

Being 2130 and without my luggage I was unable to make my connecting bus. Nevertheless there was still the last bus to Brighton at 2330.

At Heathrow the baggage area was in complete disarray. The LH4742 baggage was finally unloaded at 0015 – by which time the terminal was closing and the final bus to Brighton has left.

Emerging to Heathrow Airport with no Qantas ground staff to advise of alternative accommodation arrangements or even an apology for the disastrous situation, the terminal closing down for the night, and no Qantas service desk to enquire at to seek emergency accommodation, I was left with other option than to order a 125GBP taxi ride to Brighton in the middle of the night.

I finally arrived at my destination at 0330 – 45 hours after departing Sydney – exhausted and significantly out of pocket.

Whilst I should be able to be reimbursed for my extra costs through my travel insurance, I am not able to make up for the significant loss of time and the unnecessary stress that has resulted from this incident.

I would like to remind Qantas that your responsibility for passengers does not end until our baggage is safely in our hands at our final destination complete with suitable connecting travel arrangements.



“I shall strive for the highest”

An appropriate school motto in this case?

“I shall strive for the highest”


RIP Tony Wilson

There’s a great obituary over at the Guardian/Observer written by Paul Morley.

He seemed driven by the feeling that if he wasn’t as dark as he was light, as profound as he was trivial, or as aggressive as he was gentle and patient, he couldn’t complete his mission – which seemed to be nothing less than the modernisation of Manchester in a way that reflected his Situationist-inspired belief in a kind of urban utopia, the idea of a city as much made up by poetry, pleasure, philosophy and dreams as politics, business and architecture.

I am really looking forward to seeing Corbijn’s Control when it gets out to the colonies.

Sounds Words

New economic models for music?

An interesting piece in the New York Times on Prince. When I was in the UK a few weeks back there was a lot of controversy (heh heh) about his move to give his latest album away with a newspaper – which has apparently led to Sony refusing to sell to retail in the UK.

Prince’s priorities are obvious. The main one is getting his music to an audience, whether it’s purchased or not. “Prince’s only aim is to get music direct to those that want to hear it,” his spokesman said when announcing that The Mail would include the CD. (After the newspaper giveaway was announced, Columbia Records’ corporate parent, Sony Music, chose not to release “Planet Earth” for retail sale in Britain.) Other musicians may think that their best chance at a livelihood is locking away their music — impossible as that is in the digital era — and demanding that fans buy everything they want to hear. But Prince is confident that his listeners will support him, if not through CD sales then at shows or through other deals.

This is how most pop stars operate now: as brand-name corporations taking in revenue streams from publishing, touring, merchandising, advertising, ringtones, fashion, satellite radio gigs or whatever else their advisers can come up with. Rare indeed are holdouts like Bruce Springsteen who simply perform and record. The usual rationale is that hearing a U2 song in an iPod commercial or seeing Shakira’s face on a cellphone billboard will get listeners interested in the albums that these artists release every few years after much painstaking effort.

But Prince is different. His way of working has nothing to do with scarcity.

Prince is in a rather unique position – he is already bankable, he is already a celebrity. But what of those who are not yet in a position to sell out stadiums and command giveaways in the national press? And, what about those for whom ‘performing’ is not an option?


Quote of the week

“It’s never just about the music, how could it be? That’s like suggesting literature is all about the font. It’s about the whole deal!”

(from the sometimes great Carl at the Impostume)


My final Perilous column for 3D World

I’ve decided to (finally) hang up my pen for 3D World.

Here is my last column which should be in next week’s issue.

A very incomplete archive of older columns exists on the web. I will, one day, make it complete and add the last few years’ worth of writing (2004-2007). Sadly some of the oldest columns (1992-94) are lost forever as the result of a hard disk failure many years ago.

The Final Perilous

Folks, this is the final ever Perilous. I have decided that the time has come to free up these column inches for some new writers.

It has been 15 years since I started writing this column, first called ‘Subterranea’, for 3D World and in that time a lot has changed – and not just the music. When this column started the Internet was just used by nerds at university and the Web in its graphical and visual form didn’t exist, let alone file sharing and CD burners. In order to find out about music in other parts of the world you had to rely on specialist record shops importing the right stuff, and print magazines. And as a DJ you had to form close relationships with your local record store owner to make sure you got first access to the weekly shipments. This column, unsurprisingly started as advertorial for Disco City, a specialist dance music importer that had recently relocated to Crown St in Surry Hills. I would get to choose a bunch of new music to write about, 3D World would get good content, and they would get publicity. My column was initially fortnightly, shared with DJ HiShock who I had initially inherited the off-weeks from. Within a year the column was independent and the coverage had spread to the nascent free party scene (Vibe Tribe) and the emerging production underground – Clan Analogue and the like.

A large number of Perilous columns are archived, going back a decade, on the web. I hope that they provide a useful resource for people wanting to look back to the fertile period of the 90s through my rather biased eyes (and ears). I’ve had the privilege of writing about things as they happened – early Warp and ambient electronica, jungle, drum & bass, trip hop, glitch, and much more – the development of local scenes, documentation of parties, important releases – it has been great. One of the highlights of my time here was in the mid 90s, after the violent shutdown of the free party scene, when I had the opportunity to share column readers between Perilous and the the writing of Miguel d’Souza and later Mark Pollard who were writing about the local hip hop scene. At that time there was a great deal of cross mingling of scenes and sounds between hip hop and electronica – crowds crossed over, parties mixed, it was a wild time helped also by the ‘audio’ versions of our written columns running back to back on 2SER (where I still host a regular weekly show – Monday nights 830pm, 107.3fm). Miguel and Mark exposed me to a whole new set of sounds and people, and this set in motion a chain of events that resonated across sounds and styles through to the early 2000s.

By the late 90s, it had become clear that the future of music was going to be digital. CD burners had become affordable, and later with the exponential spread of broadband and the development of P2P technologies, the barriers to access music that had existed previously began to disappear. Now in 2007 the filters of music are much more globally spread – they aren’t your local record shop owner anymore, or probably just one or two magazines. You probably consult many different information sources – I get about 50 RSS feeds daily to my laptop which then provide me with current news about music and culture – and obtain your music from global sources, both legitimate and illegitimate. As a result individual tastes are more eclectic and even shitty pop music is more diverse, and globally influenced than it was 15 years ago. Never before has so much music been so accessible to so many people. Does that make it better? I’ll leave that to you to decide.

Thank you to all my regular readers, people whose taste I have influenced, people who have been irritated or inspired by these columns. Thank you also to the independent artists and record labels who sent me music to comment on, and to the staff and many different editors of 3D during my time writing for the magazine. I’ve had a lot of fun. If you want to keep pace with my new projects then check out

Yellow Peril/Sub Bass Snarl/Seb Chan (


Miranda July’s No One Belongs Here More Than You

Two weeks ago to the day I was in New York departing to come home.

New York is a great large city. It has a wonderfully diverse population, crazy characters, and a fine balance between high density living and urban amenity. Central Park offers an oasis away from the urban jungle, whilst public transport, is cheap and fantastic. The larger cities become the more I think you appreciate the difficulty in maintaining a sense of ‘live-ability’ – how to ensure populations get on with each other but reflect exponentially growing global networks and flows of immigrants, ideas and cultures; and manage the diverse infrastructure needs of these people.

In amongst a stack of work engagements I tracked down a second hand pre-release ‘review copy’ of Miranda July’s No One Belongs Here More Than You at Strand Books, this enormous second hand bookstore in the middle of midtown Manhattan. I was so excited to get a copy. Well that, a stack of Cabinet back issues in an art store in Dumbo, and the Circle album Miljard at Other Music.

Over the last fortnight I’ve been dipping in and out of the book – a collection of short stories. It is wonderful. July’s stories are surreal vignettes of everyday life, tinged with a sadness and self-concious sense of self. Much like her feature film Me and You and Everyone We Know there is a great attention to little everyday details – smells, sounds, thoughts, emotions. Details. Details that nervous and shy people (the characters that July is interested in) obsess about. The first thing that struck me about the stories was the lack of quotation marks. Characters don’t ‘say’ anything in quotes – every interaction, every story is, itself conversational. Character’s thoughts and spoken words blend into one.

I haven’t read fiction for quite a while. I don’t get the time to really. But this is a fantastic and compelling quirky read.

The promotional website – – is a lovely touch too.