Saturday, September 30, 2006

Kwang Sabat Na

As of today, "my five year old" is "my six year old". Six, as any mathematically inclined readers will realise, is one third of eighteen which means that my little fella is thirty three point three three recurring per cent of the way to the age of majority in the UK.

On Thursdays I take him to swimming lessons and Muay Thai classes, which sometimes makes me wonder if I'm not a little paranoid about teaching him to keep himself safe, and that maybe I could have pulled that off just by naming him Sue and lighting out, leaving him an "old guitar and an empty bottle of booze" as keepsakes.

We watch a lot of movies together, bonding - to my delight - over Peter Sellers' Clouseau, "you can walk Chief Inspector, you can walk!"

In a strange way, he reassured me about the educational value of his martial arts lessons the other evening when we were watching "Batman Begins" - the Dark Knight having been redeemed by the casting of a Welshman. Early on in the film Bruce Wayne gets in a big fight in an oriental prison. After being knocked down by the imposing villain he drives back up head first at his assailant's midriff and, while his face is bent down just past his his foe's chest, twists his body and strikes - essentially backwards - with his elbow into the big guy's face.

"That's Muay Thai", my boy remarked casually of this one second detail of the melee and - guess what - he's right. I was mighty impressed.

Happy birthday mate.

Friday, September 29, 2006

I am boring

"Eat your way around the world in London" faced something of a dilemma on Wednesday in that we had to finish eating in time the catch Chelsea in the European Championship on TV with a 7:45 kick off. We all have our crosses to bear I suppose.

As a nod to Liverpool's simultaneous match with Galatasaray we settled on the Turkish fayre at the nearby Limon Shish & Mezze Restaurant.

We perused the menu over a Villa Doluca white - it was news to me that there was such a thing as Turkish wine - then shared mixed mezze; humus, borek, cacik, falafel, biber, kalamar, biyaldi, and pilaki with pide bread.

For the main course, I had a lamb shish and Paul had a mixed sea food shish with an ezme salad. Rather appropriately we talked about Xerxes bridging the Hellespont as we chewed.

I offer a trivial thought; isn't the antipathy of the Greeks and Turks particularly sad when you think that their grub is to all intents and purposes the same?

(Chelsea were playing Levski Sofia in Bulgaria while Liverpool entertained Turkish opponents. Until I updated the maps of our real and imaginary destinations I didn't even realise that Bulgaria had a border with Turkey.)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Press Lord Click Lord

The miracle of RSS has both informed me that Melvyn Bragg's In Our Time is back on the radio, and downloaded the first episode for my later delectation. The new series begins with the career of the Prussian naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt, "a remarkable man with a remarkable legacy"apparently.

I'm pretty sure that "In Our Time" was the first mainstream BBC radio programme to embrace podcasting and now Melvyn's doing the same thing on ITV where according to this page "the South Bank Show is now available in podcast format for free!"

Hooray for Baron Bragg, FRSL, FRTS.

Consider my forelock tugged m'lud.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Cap Carpe Diem

I took my five year old to the park for twenty minutes or so after school yesterday to let him run off some steam.

Part of said steam runnage consisted of grabbing a cap off a schoolmate's head and running off waving it at him. His victim set off in hot pursuit laughing, so far as I could tell, with the fun of it as well. I could also tell however - from some sixth sense - that his Dad, who was a little way off, was not best pleased.

I let the chase on for a short while and then wandered over to bring it, discretely I hoped, to a close. At pretty much the same time the other Dad called over to his son that they were going. (I wonder why that was?)

I passed this news on to my boy who threw the cap back to his friend who promptly picked it up.

His Dad told him to put it down again. "Oh God, here we go", thought I so I essentially hustled my little one into picking the redowned hat up and passing it back politely.

"Don't ever grab the cap from X again!" hissed the other father furiously. I let it pass.

Two observations:

1. I think that both the boys were completely unaware of the tension and I bet neither could remember it now.
2. I sympathise with the other guy. I'd rather no caps were snatched off heads, but if it is inevitable I'd rather have a snatcher than a snatchee. Is that shameful?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Film Round Up

I was supposed to go and see The Madras House in Richmond on Saturday but - after lingering too long over a beer - had to can it when I missed the train at Wimbledon so Clerks 2 at the Odeon had to serve as an emergency stand in.

This was no ordeal as I've had room in my life for Jay and Silent Bob since the original Clerks all those years ago. Clerks 2 is worth the price of admission for Randal's delineation of the Lord of the Rings movies alone:

Those fxxkin' hobbit movies were boring as hell. All it was, was a bunch of people walking, three movies of people walking to a fxxking volcano. Even the fxxking trees walked.

His mime summary of the trilogy has to be seen to be believed.

Actually for all its surface crudity, Clerks 2 is really rather a sweet and sentimental movie about Dante's slowburn romance with Rosario Dawson's character.

I've long thought that sort of thing is a peculiarly American product. Didn't Kurt Vonnegut talk about putting bitter coatings on sugar pills or something similar? Philip Marlowe, the shop soiled Sir Galahad, was an early example. He was really a pussycat under the hardboiled exterior.

In a separate development, I worried a little on Sunday when I noticed in Sainsbury that the new Wesley Snipes movie seemed to have gone straight to video in the UK. This was because I had been getting breathless reports from my brother earlier in the year of the Snipester filming action scenes outside his office, so I was obviously keen to see my home town blown to smithereens on the big screen.

It turns out that it is The Detonator that has failed to get a cinema release, the film I'm waiting for is The Shooter. What a relief!

As I was googling my way to the truth, I was also delighted to come across details of Wesley Snipes Six Day Sexcapade in Cardiff. Its a pretty dull story to be honest, but saved by this money quote:

"He also talked in strange rhymes and told me he was a Buddhist monk. His meditating annoyed me. Without warning, he'd shake me and say he was 'releasing my energy'."


Monday, September 25, 2006


We have had something of a turn round in tenants in our office building over the last few month and as of today, my immediate neighbours are:

1. To my right - Time & Leisure lifestyle magazines, who I notice have launched, "London's dating playground" since last time I visited their site.
2. To my left -, an internet radio station for ex-pat South Africans that is expanding to broadcast in FM as well.

Strange the companions life throws up, n'est-ce pas?

Bran ap Brychan

Robin Hood was Welsh and never went to Nottingham, claims book
Robin Hood was really a Welsh freedom fighter who never even set foot in Nottingham let alone Sherwood Forest, a historian has claimed.
The medieval outlaw - said to have robbed from the rich to give to the poor - never once met Maid Marian nor the Sheriff of Nottingham, according to Stephen Lawhead.
The American blows apart the widely accepted version of the legend in his new book, Hood, arguing that Robin Hood was really a hardened Guerrilla based in the Valleys.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Lies and Liars

I almost died of having to pretend for the past year that we were actually governing. Instead we lied day, night and evening. I don’t want to do this anymore. Either we go ahead and then you have a leader or you have to pick somebody else.
The riots are getting bigger but I find that I find that I am curiously attracted to the candour of the Hungarian Prime Minister on his notorious tape.

When The Times ran some of it they noted:

The extracts are in chronological order and have been translated by Reuters from a transcript on Mr Gyurcsany's personal weblog.

Isn't that astounding? I can't make head nor tail of Hungarian but it seems as if it is still being updated through the crisis. The last post on the home page is dated Friday.

I suppose that it seems like a breath of fresh air rather than a scandal when viewed from Blighty because of the sheer fatigue that has built up over the last decade as we have been so cynically manipulated by our own government.

How about this for our domestic cynicism?
A tearful Gordon Brown has spoken at length for the first time about the death of his baby daughter four years ago.
The notoriously private Chancellor described how his first child Jennifer Jane died at ten days old from a brain haemorrhage.
The interview with Sky News shows Mr Brown has accepted that to be voted as prime minister he must open up more to the British public.
Read the last paragraph, then the second, then the first. I think that rereading reveals the motivation. I'm not so stupid as to imply that the tragedy wouldn't have been devastating for the man, but the use of it - with his connivance - in a public relations ploy to make the Chancellor seem more human leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

I go where the smart mobs go

Newsgator picked up this post from Ian's weblog yesterday afternoon, so last night I let Armani, Leonardo, Beyonce, and Bono down and went out to dinner with Howard Rheingold instead.

There's a certain justice in Ian wielding RSS and SMS to gather an impromptu group to meet the author of Smart Mobs.

I've got two of Rheingold's books on the shelf over my desk here at home. Pulling down my copy of his "Virtual Reality" I find that it was published fifteen years ago and the edge of the paper is beginning to yellow. Even the new is getting old.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Kalashnikov MP3

Chris wants an AK47. May I suggest an accessory?

The 'AK-MP3 Jukebox' comes with 20GB storage capable to hold up to 9000 songs or 3000 hours of mp3 audio books.
AK-MP3 player built into the body of the ammunition magazine of Kalashnikov automatic rifle.
Player could be used on its own or it could be attached to the Kalashnikov machinegun instead of the ordinary magazine.
Stainless steel body makes this new player uniquely suitable for outdoors.

Boney M said it best. "Oh, those Russians."

What I remember the writers telling me when I was young

It is always good to find a poem you don't know from a poet you don't know:

Look hard at the world, they said --
generously, if you can
manage that, but hard. To see
the extraordinary data, you
have to distance yourself a
little, utterly. Learn the
right words for the umpteen kinds
of trouble that you'll see,
avoiding elevated
generics like misery,
wretchedness. And find yourself
a like spectrum of exact
terms for joy, some of them
archaic, but all useful.
Sometimes when they spoke to me I
could feel their own purposes
gathering. Language, the dark-
haired woman said once, is like
water-color, it blots easily,
you've got to know what you're
after, and get it on quickly.
Everything gets watered
sooner or later with tears,
she said, your own or other
people's. The contrasts want to
run together and must not be
allowed to. They're what you
see with. Keep your word-hoard dry.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

We are Siamese if you please

The odd juxtaposition of the coup in Thailand and my five years old's Muay Thai lessons (oh and the 50% off the a la carte menu offer that was ending on 30 September) combined to send "eat your way and the world in London" to the outstanding Mango Tree Restaurant in Belgravia last night.

I've been there several times before and I'm not going to review the food, all you need to know is that it is out of the top draw and the menu is here.

It was a favourite when we had an office round the corner in Portland House and it was good to get back to our old stamping grounds as it also enabled us to reacquaint ourselves with the Grouse and Claret, our boozer of choice back in the day. This was as well, because when I rang the restaueant to book there wasn't a table available until half past nine at night. There was time to kill.

I also quite liked the idea of going round to the nearby Westminster Cathedral to see if there were any bigots demonstrating outside with whom I could practice my freestyle theological debating technique. Paul unsurprisingly bailed on this portion of the evening's entertainment when we got out of the tube station at Victoria, but when I got to the Cathedral there were neither demonstrators nor an overt police presence.

I went in and sat down. There was a service in progress , it was towards the end of a sung mass and I listened to the Benedictus. That dovetailed so neatly with Benedictus PP. XVI that I couldn't help but feel a little as if I was in a overly contrived novel or play.

Then I went down the pub.

Strange he never married

.......... he toddled off-stage energetically waving a Welsh flag. Some things are simply beyond rational explanation.

From a Evening Standard review of Johnny Matthis at Wembley. Very odd.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Any Expertise?

We're advertising a lot of antiques on at the moment, as the police are trying to find the rightful owners of property that may have been accumulated outside the law.

I was amazed that I was able to improve the description of this item as I recognised it as a Japanese Daruma (maybe a netsuke).

It makes you wonder how much a civic minded community of real experts could contribute to the system.

Mills a Boon

I'm too busy to write today, so here's a photo I took at Abbey Mills on Sunday after watching the music on the bandstand. Not a bad place to work all in all.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Talk Like A Pirate Day

I have decided to celebrate Talk Like A Pirate Day, by elevating the infamous buccaneer Henry Morgan (Llanrumney 1635) officially to the status of A Welsh Born Icon.

I went to school in Llanrumney and observed many a pocket money privateer in the playground there myself.

"Every quid over you."


WASHINGTON (AFP) - People who consume alcohol earn significantly more at their jobs than non-drinkers, according to a US study that highlighted "social capital" gained from drinking.

The study published in the Journal of Labor Research Thursday concluded that drinkers earn 10 to 14 percent more than teetotalers, and that men who drink socially bring home an additional seven percent in pay.

"Social drinking builds social capital," said Edward Stringham, an economics professor at San Jose State University and co-author of the study with fellow researcher Bethany Peters.

"Social drinkers are out networking, building relationships, and adding contacts to their BlackBerries that result in bigger paychecks."

The authors acknowledged their study, funded by the Reason Foundation, a libertarian think tank, contradicted research released in 2000 by the Harvard School of Public Health.

"We created our hypothesis through casual observation and examination of scholarly accounts," the authors said.

"Drinkers typically tend to be more social than abstainers."

The researchers said their empirical survey backed up the theory, and said the most likely explanation is that drinkers have a wider range of social contacts that help provide better job and business opportunities.

"Drinkers may be able to socialize more with clients and co-workers, giving drinkers an advantage in important relationships," the researchers said.

"Drinking may also provide individuals with opportunities to learn people, business, and social skills."

They also said these conclusions provide arguments against policies aimed at curbing alcohol use on university campuses and public venues.

"Not only do anti-alcohol policies reduce drinkers' fun, but they may also decrease earnings," the study said.

The best line in that is "we created our hypothesis through casual observation" which sounds like a euphemism for hanging round in bars.

In a related development, "Two Week Bender Just Flies By", reports Doyle Redland at Onion Radio News.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Manuel II Palaiologos

I was reflecting morosely over the weekend that the unseemly fracas about the Pope's address at the University of Regensberg was probably created, never mind exacerbated, by the default agit-prop setting of the goonish mainstream media.

The putative hive mind of the internet hasn't put much meat on the bones either. I checked out the Wikipedia page for Manuel II Palaiologos - the Christian Emperor whose quoted words sparked the "crisis". Admittedly it has been updated 53 times over the last few days, but as you can see from this comparison not a lot of valuable information has been forthcoming.

The discussion page is a little more useful. For me, it is evocative of both place and historical context to learn that:

Manuel was begging Henry IV of England for a new crusade to save Constanople from the besieging Turks, when a message arrived with the news that Tamerlane's (Timor's) Mongol army had badly defeated the Turks, thus saving Constantinople.

Henry IV held his Privy Council at Merton Priory in 1407, probably in the very Chapter House (a stone's throw from where I'm sitting) that Paul is bringing to the infosphere.

Small world.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Joey Goodbye

Apropros of nothing, the lyrics of an old Thump the Clouds song. Written as far as I can tell when Pete Doherty was about five. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

I knew Joey for a while
I guess I always liked his style
He'd break your hear with a smile
But you'd be laughing all the while
I met him at the usual bar
He tried to sell me his guitar

And that's the last time I saw Joey
Joey Goodbye

I heard Joe was in a fix
Needed more, and got less kicks
Mixin' things you shouldn't mix
Cuttin' corners, turnin' tricks
His man says you're my good friend
And you can try the special blend

And that's the last time he saw Joey
Joey Goodbye

Kids found Joey on waste ground
Straight and stiff and flat face down
All the people gathered round
And said nobody heard a sound
Watched the wagon pull away
But no one there had much to say

And that's the last time they saw Joey
Joey Goodbye

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Heroes and Villains

I picked up a deeply discounted DVD of Cinderella Man not too long ago. I thought it was a great old fashioned movie, so it came back with us the last time I took my five year old to Cardiff, and I watched it with my Dad one night after the little one was asleep.

He enjoyed it as well as I did but said in passing of the reigning champion set up by the film as a murderous cartoon thug and nemesis of the saintly Jim Braddock, "I don't think Max Baer was actually like that."

I've done a little bit of research. (OK I've actually just looked in up in Wikipedia.)

In the film, Baer is presented as almost relishing the fact that he killed a man in the ring. Here is what his son said about it:

My father cried about what happened to Frankie Campbell. He had nightmares. In reality, my father was one of the kindest, gentlest men you would ever hope to meet. He treated boxing the way today's professional wrestlers do wrestling: part sport, mostly showmanship. If I were to make a comparison, he was more like Muhammad Ali than the Sonny Liston of his day. He never deliberately hurt anyone." He helped put Frankie's children through college.
In 1933, he decided he was a Jew and wore the Star of David on his trunks for the first time. Perhaps not uncoincidentally, his opponent was Max Schmeling, a reluctant Nazi poster boy. "That one's for Hitler," Baer snarled between blows as he defeated the stumbling Schmeling.

Despite the star on his trunks Baer was never a practicing Jew; his father was probably half Jewish.

(Let's cut him some slack though, as Dannie Abse - St Illtyd's alumnus, and now anointed Welsh Born Icon - said later, "Auschwitz made me more of a Jew than Moses did." And, while we are in a Welsh digression, I'm put out that Baer also beat Welsh Born Icon Tommy Farr.)

Baer is the villain of the Braddock story. What about Schmeling, villain of Baer's?

Joe Louis' defeat of Schmeling in their June 1938 rematch (Schmeling had knocked Louis out two years before) was probably the most politically and racially charged boxing match in history as America and Germany headed inexorably to war, though both the protagonists seem to have been reluctant figureheads.

In November 1938, less than six months after his defeat, however Ubermensch Schmeling came to the aid of Jewish friends in the wake of Kristallnacht, hiding, at great personal risk, two Jewish brothers in his Berlin apartment and later helping them to escape from the country.

An episode of which, as far as I can tell, he never told anyone. It only came to light in 1989, when one of the brothers invited Schmeling to Las Vegas to thank him for saving his life.

Heroes and villains.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Neung, song, saam

My five year old brought a school friend along to the kids' Muay Thai class at Jackapong last night.

"Did you enjoy it?", I asked our guest when they trooped out at the end.

"Yes, it was great," he said.

"Would you like to do it again?", I prompted.

"No," he replied to my disappointment.

"Why not?"

"I'm too tired, I'd rather just go home, sit down and watch the football."

The light began to dawn.

"I don't mean straight away. Would you like to do it again next week?"

"Oh, yes."

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Wanted: 500 pigs to save ponies from toxic acorns

A Beachcomberish headline and a Beachcomberesque byline "Simon de Bruxelles", but a genuine article from the Thunderer.

The Madras House

Back in April, I was really impressed with the National Theatre's production of 'The Voysey Inheritance', and now I've noticed from a review in the Telegraph that another Harley Granville Barker play 'The Madras House' has been revived in the Orange Tree Theatre.

I must get along to see that. For all the time that I lived around Richmond I never actually went to a production in the purpose built Orange Tree Theatre after it moved from the pub across the road.

The action concerns the sale of a rag-trade family business, comprising a drapery emporium in Peckham and the Madras House itself, an haute-couture establishment in W1.
Philip Madras, the son of one of the founders, is running the operation, as his father Constantine has converted to Islam and now lives near Baghdad.

A modern sounding synopsis is it not? The notion that we have a more sophisticated view of the world than the Edwardians seems more ridiculous to me by the day, yet that golden generation was smashed and pulled down from its pedestal in the quagmire of the Great War for all that they were cleverer, more worldly and more cultured than us. It's a sobering thought when you look at the world today.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

five point palm exploding heart technique

Once upon a time in China, some believe, around the year one double-ought three. Head priest of the White Lotus Clan, Pai Mei was walking down the road, contemplating whatever it is that a man of Pai Mei's infinite power contemplates - which is another way of saying 'who knows' - when a Shaolin monk appeared, traveling in the opposite direction. As the monk and the priest crossed paths, Pai Mei, in a practically unfathomable display of generosity, gave the monk the slightest of nods. The nod was not returned. Now was it the intention of the Shaolin monk to insult Pai Mei or did he just fail to see the generous social gesture? The motives of the monk remain unknown. What is known, are the consequences. The next morning Pai Mei appeared at the Shaolin Temple and demanded of the Temple's head abbot that he offer Pai Mei his neck to repay the insult. The Abbot at first tried to console Pai Mei, only to find Pai Mei was inconsolable. So began the massacre of the Shaolin Temple and all 60 of the monks inside at the fists of the White Lotus. And so began the legend of Pai Mei's five point palm exploding heart technique.

So that's settled then.

The Flashing Blade

As long as we have done our best
Then no one can do more
And life and love and happiness
Are well worth fighting for
Perhaps because this year's school summer holidays have just finished I have been reminiscing about the TV shows that I remember being shown during the long break when I was a kid.

The series that I particularly cherish were - for some reason - all foreign productions that were dubbed into English when we saw them.

I've looked them up on IMDB. Here we go.

The Flashing Blade (theme tune lyrics above) was apparently Le Chevalier Tempête in its original form.

Thats when I softly sigh
On white horses
Snow white horses
Let me ride away

White Horses (another fine theme song) started off as Ferien in Lipizza.

Belle and Sebastian was originally, and unsurprisingly, Belle et Sébastien. A great vocal theme tune as I recall but no lyrics, "Angelina, Angelina don't let them take my Belle!"

Robinson Crusoe, and last but not least The Singing Ringing Tree.

The Singing Ringing Tree was an East German fable - and possibly Communist allegory - called Das Singende, klingende Bäumchen and I am still, deep in my heart, afraid of the soddin' evil dwarf in it.

It is of course entirely possible that these shows were shown at another time and didn't comprise the background to our long, languid summer breaks, but that's how I remember it.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

It's Only Rock 'n Roll

If I could stick my pen in my heart
And spill it all over the stage
Would it satisfy ya, would it slide on by ya
Would you think the boy is strange? Ain't he strange?

If I could win ya, if I could sing ya
A love song so divine
Would it be enough for your cheating heart
If I broke down and cried? If I cried?

I said I know it's only rock 'n roll but I like it
I know it's only rock 'n roll but I like it, like it, yes, I do
Oh, well, I like it, I like it, I like it
I said can't you see that this old boy has been a lonely?

"Illegal" Drug Prices At All-Time Low

The War on Drugs has completely failed. Cannabis, Ecstasy and Cocaine prices have dropped dramatically since the 1990s. An Ecstasy pill is now a mere £3, compared to £9 in 2000. This year's bumper poppy crop in Afghanistan means that heroin is also due for a major price drop.

I found this story - an odd update almost to my joke post on digg.

This post is really just a test, though, of the digg feature that let's me wire it to my blog rather as I have with flickr.

read more digg story

The Evil of Two Lessers

As I write, we are somewhere in the middle of round 92 of the most wearisome heavyweight contest in the history of British politics. The fading champion, Tony Blair, is out on his feet, but the challenger, Gordon Brown, seems almost as punch-drunk. They cling to each other in the middle of the ring, alternately propping one another up and landing the occasional feeble punch. If the challenger were any good, it would all have been over long ago. Worse, the ringside is crowded with would-be contenders, eager to turn the fight into a free-for-all.

Meet the bloggers

Noodling around on the web over the weekend I came across the web site for a Radio 4 series of five fifteen minute programmes called "Meet the bloggers".

I listened to the first two episodes from the site and heard the third - which features the great James Lileks - live this morning.

Chapter five will be on at 9:30 am UK time next Tuesday and the sixth at the same time the Tuesday after that.

Check them out.

Out of the mouths of babes

Yesterday being an "inset day" at his school, my five year old came to work with me and asked me, in the course of the day, two questions.

The first was rhetorical:
We aren't a real family because we live in two different houses are we?

The second was not:
Are you lonely when I am not with you?

In real life I prevaricated but here are the answers:
No we're not.
Yes I am.

I don't think that our children ask a lot of us. All they want is to feel secure and know that we love them. In that I have failed in this I am deeply and irredeemably ashamed.

Monday, September 11, 2006

British victims of September 11

1. Sarah Ali, 35, from Balham, south west London, was at a conference on the 106th floor of the north tower of the World Trade Centre.

2. Andrew Joseph Bailey, 29, married with an eight-year-old daughter, was originally from Birmingham. He worked as a security supervisor for insurance brokers Marsh and McLellan on the 93rd floor of the north tower and lived and worked in New York.

3. Michele Beale, 37, a director with London-based Risk Waters, was attending a conference at the World Trade Centre in New York on September 11.

4. Jane Beatty.

5. Oliver Bennett, 32, was a journalist with Risk Waters publishers.

6. Graham Berkeley, 37, an IT consultant, whose parents live in Shrewsbury, was on board the United Airlines flight which plunged into the World Trade Centre's south tower.

7. Paul Gary Bristow, 27, a publisher for Risk Waters group, was at a seminar in the Windows on the World restaurant on the 106th floor.

8. Geoffrey Thomas Campbell, 31, a Reuters employee from Great Billing, Northamptonshire, who had been due to take part in a conference hosted by English publishing company Risk Waters Group, in the World Trade Centre.

9. Jeremy Mark Carrington, 34, worked for Cantor Fitzgerald on the 105th floor of the WTC's north tower. Brought up in Essex, he moved to New York 12 years ago, where he met his wife, Pattie. Jeremy had survived the 1993 WTC bombing. His mother, Catherine Ross, lives in Gillingham, Dorset.

10. Suria Clarke, 30, was working in the towers. Her brother Tom is from London.

11. Neil James Cudmore, 38, worked in the advertising department of a financial journal. He was believed to have been planning to marry colleague and fellow victim Dinah Webster.

12. Michael Joseph Cunningham, 39, originally from Ilford, Essex, was a broker for Eurobrokers in the South Tower. He lived in Princeton, New Jersey, with his wife Teresa, 35. His son Liam was 13 days old when the jets hit the World Trade Centre.

13. Gavin Anthony Cushny, 48, of the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. He was working as computer consultant for Cantor Fitzgerald on 104th floor of the north tower.

14. Caleb Arron Dack.

15. Anthony Richard Dawson, of Southampton, had been attending a convention in one of the towers when the second plane struck.

16. Calvin Dawson.

17. Kevin Dennis, 43, a stockbroker, who lived in St John's Wood, north London, before he moved to New York to work for Cantor Fitzgerald. He had been on the 101st floor of the north tower of World Trade Centre.

18. Melanie Louise Devere. The 30-year-old publishing assistant with Risk Waters grew up in Hayling Island, Hants, before moving to London.

19. Richard Anthony Dunstan.

20. Michael Egan, 51, the Hull-born vice president of multinational insurance company AON, is believed to have died as he helped colleagues escape from the south tower.

21. Christine Egan, 55, a nurse working in Canada, was visiting her brother's office while on a week-long holiday in New York.

22. Robert Eaton, 37, a Cantor Fitzgerald broker, believed to have been working on the 105th floor of the north tower.

23. Godwin Forde, 38, a security guard for Morgan Stanley, was at work on the 42nd floor of the south tower.

24. Christopher Forsythe.

25. Boyd Gatton.

26. Andrew Clive Gilbert, in his thirties, originally from Ipswich, worked at the World Trade Centre.

27. Timothy Paul Gilbert, like his brother Andrew, was also in his thirties and working at the World Trade Centre. The brothers had been living and working in New York for some time.

28. Paul Gilbey, from Southend-on-Sea, a money trader with Euro Bank, worked on the 84th floor of the south tower. He and his wife had moved to the US eight years before the terrorist strike.

29. Ronald Lawrence Gilligan, 43, from Merseyside, is thought to have been behind his 103rd-floor desk at Cantor Fitzgerald when disaster struck.

30. Robert Halligan, originally from Kent.

31. Nicholas John, a 33-year-old banker from Swansea, had been due to attend a meeting at the World Trade Centre.

32. Christopher Jones.

33. Robin Blair Larkey, 48, from Surrey, worked for Cantor Fitzgerald. He left a wife and three young sons.

34. Steven Lawn, 29, from Broadstairs, Kent, moved to New York three years ago to work as a money dealer. He was on the 91st floor of the south tower. Parents John and Angela had just retired after running the family newsagents for 35 years.

35. Leon Lebor.

36. Michael William Lomax, 37, from Heaton Moor, Stockport, was working on the 93rd floor of the south tower when it was hit by one of the planes.

37. Mark Ludvigsen, was an employee of Cantor Fitzgerald.

38. Gavin MacMahon, 35, from County Durham, was working as an insurance executive on the 99th floor of one of the World Trade Centre towers.

39. Simon Percy Maddison, 40, worked for Cantor Fitzgerald. Lived with wife Maureen and three children in New Jersey. Originally from Harlow, Essex.

40. Keithroy Maynard.

41. Colin McArthur, 52, from Scotland, was vice-president of insurance company Aon Inc.

42. Christina Sheila McNulty.

43. John Moran.

44. Stephen Philip Morris, 31, whose parents live in Nantglyn, near Denbigh in Clwyd. He worked for a finance company in the World Trade Centre.

45. Alex Napier.

46. Marcus Neblett.

47. Christopher Newton-Carter, 52, from London, was an associate director for banker Sandley O'Neill. He was six floors from the top when the second plane plunged into his building.

48. Avnish Raman Patel, worked on the 93rd floor of the north tower of the World Trade Centre as a financial analyst with Fred Alger Management. Mr Patel, a single 28-year-old whose parents live in Clapham, south London, had lived in the US since he was 13.

49. Hashmukh Parmar.

50. David Alan James Rathkey, 47, from Maidenhead, Berks, was working on the 83rd floor of the North Tower. The father-of-three was a systems consultant who was married to an American and had lived in the country for 20 years.

51. Sarah Anne Redheffer, 35, from Enfield, north London, was working for Risk Waters on the 106th floor of the north tower when the first jet struck.

52. Rick Rescorla, 62, born in Hayle, Cornwall, was vice president for security for Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. He was helping his colleagues flee the World Trade Centre's south tower.

53. Karlie Rogers, 25, a Sussex University graduate from London, worked for Risk Waters publishers.

54. Howard Selwyn, 47, from Leeds, was told to evacuate the south tower while on the phone to a colleague at his desk on the 84th floor.

55. Jane Simpkin.

56. Michael Stewart, 42, a banker, from Belfast.

57. Derek Sword, 29, from Dundee, was working for American finance firm Keefe, Bruyette & Woods when the second jet went into the south tower.

58. Rhondell Tankard.

59. Ian Clive Thompson, 43, was born in Hampshire.

60. Nigel Bruce Thompson, 30, from Sheffield, was working on the 105th floor of the twin towers for brokers Cantor Fitzgerald.

61. Simon James Turner, 39, was among seven other British employees working at the technology conference in the quarter mile-high building.

62. Benjamin James Walker, 41, was on the 91st floor of the north tower, working for Marsh McClennan insurance brokers. He had moved to New York five years ago from Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire. He left an American wife, Laura, and three children.

63. Dinah Webster, 50, was attending a conference on the 109th floor of the south tower. She and fellow victim Neil Cudmore worked in the advertising department of a financial journal.

64. Vincent Wells, 22, from Ilford, Essex, worked for Cantor Fitzgerald.

65. Kathryn Wolf.

66. Martin Wortley, 29, from Woolpit, Suffolk, was working as a dealer with Cantor Fitzgerald.

67. Neil Robin Wright, 30, an options broker from Tilbury, Essex, was also in the offices of Cantor Fitzgerald when the building was struck.


Tenders Electronic Daily - the EU Public Procurement Invitation to Tender system is now publishing RSS Feeds, and I have subscribed to see if we can't pick up some IT work.

It takes me back though, TED is the first thing that I ever worked on in anger with The Profit Burglar (Paul Robert Fright being to The Profit Burglar what Nicholas Browne is to A Welsh Born Icon.)

Back in the day, we were accessing TED over Frame Relay using a Gandalf Packet Assembler/Disassembler. Old School hacking indeed.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


When I blogged the plot of Beerfest late last year, I honestly half-thought that someone was pulling my leg, so I was amazed to find it turn up at the Odeon at the end of last week.

I went to see it yesterday, and it really is as low brow, vulgar, daft and enjoyable as I imagined. Definitely a movie whose acquaintance I shall make again over a few Stellas when it comes out on DVD.

If you're going to check it out I suggest you hurry. Given the sparse audience at the showing I attended, I don't think that it will be hanging round the multiplexes long.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


I've just bought a 'Netgear Wireless Digital Music Player MP101' from our own police property auction system. (£46, did I get a good deal or what?)

I wonder, once I've picked it up and integrated it into my set up at home if I will ever play a CD again.

Hugh was telling me the other day that now he has finished ripping all the music that he's bought through the decades, to his PC he has started deleting all the filler he has got encumbered with over the years; the disdained album tracks and mistakes. That's a good idea but I'm not sure I have the time or fortitude to do it myself.

I love letting the Media Player itself decide what I might like to listen to - Isaac Hayes' "By the Time I get to Phoenix" from Hot Buttered Soul is on at the moment.

It also came up with the 'Was (Not Was)' album "What Up Dog" this morning. That may be my favourite release of the 80's though I can't abide the track "Robot Girl". Not being as steely as Hugh, I've just given it a low rating rather than deleting it. The story of my life in microcosm eh?

Anyway, all together now with the immortal "Anything Can Happen":

She took me in the bedroom
To show me her computer
She asked me if I liked it
I told her she was cuter
She wasn't that great
But it was getting kind of late
She talked about her father
Said he never really liked her
Said that she'd been married
To a schizophrenic biker
I thought I'd say goodbye
But then I saw her start to cry .........

Friday, September 08, 2006


My brother Harjinder
Was sick out the winda
All over my brand new sombrero

I was delighted earlier this week to be contacted out of the blue - via the Swansea University BuddyBoard (a system to which I had forgotten subscribing), by Harjinder Singh who studied Chemical Engineering with me in Wales before we joined Fluor together.

He left Fluor before me to join Schlumberger asnd still works for them in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where he is married with three kids.

I thought I would record it on the blog in case any fellow students or ex-colleagues happen to find their way here. I know from the comments that one or two have stumbled upon it.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

'Nuff Said

Firemen shouldn't be asked to man stalls at BNP summer camps, Jihadist demonstrations demanding the beheading of cartoonists, Conservative Party conferences, Evangelical Christian rallies or anywhere else where a partisan, contentious point of view is being expressed. So they shouldn't be asked to do so at 'Pride Scotia' or anything like it.

As ever The Onion was ahead of the curve. See "Gay-Pride Parade Sets Mainstream Acceptance Of Gays Back 50 Years" from April 2001.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Stubborn Wales

Due to domestic obligations, I couldn't get to White Hart Lane to see Wales take on Brazil last night but I was free early enough to go and watch it down the pub. (I don't have BBC3 at home as I'm not enough of a TV watcher to make it worthwhile subscribing to Sky or cable. Maybe now I'll get a Freeview box.)

I was pleased to find that the game was on in CJs, but a little disappointed that no Brazilian supporters from the favelas of Colliers Wood seemed to have turned up.

Even though we lost 2-0, Wales held the Pentacampeao for the first hour which is a very respectable.

(Although, to be fair, they only beat us 1-0 in the quarter finals of the 1958 World Cup. That is the only occasion that Wales have been beaten in a match at a World Cup, but then again 1958 is the only time we ever qualified.)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

New Species on ebay

You can buy anything on eBay these days – even a new species of marine life. When zoological experts were asked to identify sea urchin shells and spines which collectors had been buying and selling on eBay, they were surprised to find that they were looking at an entirely new species.

Gimme Shelter

I didn't need another reason to be proud of Wales, but I find myself warming to Janice Lee (almost certainly because I live 150 miles away):

A council that took a woman to court for belting out power ballads said today it had successfully applied for an anti-social behaviour order against her.
Janice Lee, from Cardiff, also had her four CD players and speakers confiscated to ensure her neighbours could get a good night’s sleep.
Cardiff Council resorted to court action after neighbours in the Gabalfa area continually complained about the 37-year-old mother-of-four blasting out 80s hits, such as Europe’s The Final Countdown, and singing along until the early hours.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Dr. Smart-Allick

Dr. Smart-Allick was playing bridge with three of the masters the other day. It became obvious that something was wrong when a simple sum in addition revealed the fact that, in the first rubber, no fewer than thirty-one aces had made their appearance. The Doctor said, 'Since I only had seven myself you men must have been rather over-doing things'.

Ramin Jahanbegloo Released

Four months after Ramin Jahanbegloo was locked up in Iran, we learn from the Guardian (via normblog) that he has been released.
As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Radio Grumunkin

CDH's eclectic Pandora station "Radio Grumunkin" was my work soundtrack Thursday and Friday last week.

So massive props to Chris for helping me to discover the half Welsh - half Ghanain chanteuse Rhian Benson (not Welsh born unfortunately so ineligible for the icon award), and Margaret Whiting, the 40s and 50s singer whose late-life marriage to younger gay porn star Jack Wrangler raised many eyebrows. (When they first began dating, he protested, "But I'm gay!" to which she replied, "Only around the edges, dear.")

Saturday, September 02, 2006

New Left Review

The question of agency remains the central lacuna in the construction of systemic alternatives. Building on "The Limits of Multitude" in NLR 35, Malcolm Bull proposes a reconceptualization of the relation between collective will and invisible hand. Can bearings drawn from Hegel, Gramsci, Sartre indicate the route to a new global order through dissolution of the Western imperial state?

Oh to be young and talk bollocks again.

Friday, September 01, 2006

non-denial of the non-self

In the 1940s a philosopher called Carl Hempel showed that by manipulating the logical statement "all ravens are black", you could derive the equivalent "all non-black objects are non-ravens". Such topsy-turvy transformations might seem reason enough to keep philosophers locked up safely on university campuses, where they cannot do too much damage. However, a number of computer scientists, led by Fernando Esponda of Yale University, are taking Hempel's notion as the germ of an eminently practical scheme. They are applying such negative representations to the problem of protecting sensitive data. The idea is to create a negative database. Instead of containing the information of interest, such a database would contain everything except that information. on ...............

Do I detect the hand of Dr Strabismus (Whom God Preserve) of Utrecht? It's Beachcomber's world, we just live in it.

'menace to society'

Tomorrow's potential troublemakers can be identified even before they are born, Tony Blair has suggested.
Mr Blair said it was possible to spot the families whose circumstances made it likely their children would grow up to be a 'menace to society'.
He said teenage mums and problem families could be forced to take help to head off difficulties.
He said the government had to intervene much earlier to prevent problems developing when children were older.
There could be sanctions for parents who refused to take advice, he said.
Word fail me. Who the bleedin' hell does this man think he is?

Granted, the last decade has seen an eyebrow raising lack of intellectual firepower from Anthony Blair, but I'm not entirely convinced that that is necessarily a failing in a primus inter pares premier.

It's true that Tony Blair - a proven lawyer - has demonstrated extraordinary contempt for, and ignorance of -the idea, principle and tradition of common law; perhaps these islands' greatest legacy to the world.

His key, defining flaw though is moral vanity. He seems to me genuinely to believe that things are true and right because he thinks that they are, and that he - and he alone - can put the world to rights.

Handily - haven written a blog for a while - I can quote myself with examples from history.

What a deadly danger eugenics was in the 1920s! H G Wells thought the weak should be killed by the strong, having 'no pity and less benevolence'. 'The diseased, deformed and insane, together with those swarms of blacks, and brown, and dirty-white, and yellow people will have to go'. He envisioned a time when all crime would be punished by death because 'People who cannot live happily and freely in the world without spoiling the lives of others are better out of it.'

Not a huge step from our present leader's musings that, but - let's be both honest and frank - Blair is simultaneously demonising and sneering at a caricature the type of difficult background that energised my orphaned father.

In so far as the labels mean anything any more, I am on the right rather than the left but I will oppose this sort of popularist authoritarianism to my last breath.