Friday, July 25, 2008

Cold Turkey

I am off to Wales with Ben for a week or so, and disappearing from the internet. I think that it is good to do this now and again to clear my head.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


I've noticed that there is a new (or new to me) more button on Google Maps UK which allows allows you to display geo tagged Wikipedia articles and Panoramia photos.

These selections don't persist on an embedded map, but you can see them on a link.

Here's one centred on the office which includes the Wikipedia articel on Merton Priory that I originally wrote and tagged, as well as this photo of the water wheel which is better than mine. The willow is gone now I'm sorry to say.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sudden Impact

Sir Ian Blair is facing calls for an official inquiry after it emerged that Scotland Yard contracts worth more than £3 million were awarded to a company owned by his close friend and skiing companion.

Andy Miller ran the firm Impact Plus, which has been awarded a series of lucrative technology deals by the Metropolitan Police.

We worked with Impact Plus and Andy Miller back in the day. Small world, and a strange coincidence for the story to "emerge" this week.

(Impact Plus was bought out by Hitachi in 2007. Consulting is an odd sort of shell game.)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Feats of Clay

It is good to see Tom Wolfe is still banging stuff out.

Our initial acquaintance was built on imported Bantam paperbacks bought from Lears in the Arcade all those years ago.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Ballad of Max Mosley

I was introduced to someone on Friday night who recognised my name and knew of my weblog.

This sort of thing always amazes me, but on this occasion I was bewildered to be told that it had been returned in the results set of a query about sadomasochsim.

I write this rubbush every day, and I can't ever recall the likes of the thwack of cane on buttock making an appearance.

Any ideas? I'm entirely bemused.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Plus

The Bomber spent much of yesterday writing his name, my name, my company's name etc. in hieroglyphics. I didn't even know they could be phonetic.

It is good for the soul to have your eyes opened by a seven year old.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Ga Ga over Goo

I find that I'm using Google's online applications more and more. There hasn't been any road to Damascus conversion (like the Telegraph's). It is more a matter of convenience for individual tasks. It is very useful for me - for example - to combine feeds from Basecamp with Google Calendar.

I came across yesterday, which allows me to sync my Google Calendar to my N95 over the wireless net.

Are things coming together or have I always had my head in the cloud(s)?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

P P Paprika P Penguin

We went for a crafty ruby at Paprika last night after working late.

I don't check restaurant bills to the last decimal point, but I do generally run an eye down the list of things for which I'm being charged.

"What's this?" I demanded last night when I didn't recognise an charge.

"It's the 20% discount for early and midweek dining," replied the waiter.

I looked again and the rogue item did in fact reduce the bill. I decided not to insist on its removal and tipped more heavily than usual to hide my embarrassment.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Busy Louie

Having finished "The Colour of a Dog Running Away", I allowed myself a treat from my current favourite participatory-martial-arts-memoir genre, before embarking on the seven hundred odd pages of the el grupo mandated "Daniel Martin".

The New York Times says:

In the ring his nickname was Busy Louie. In the classroom, where he spends much more of his time these days, it is easy to see why. Confined by street clothes, his feints and jabs accompanied not by leather gloves but merely by a dwindling piece of chalk and a blackboard eraser, Loïc Wacquant, a professor of sociology at the University of California campus here, all but dances his way through a seminar on the criminal justice system.
Twisting, turning, hopping, scribbling, he is in constant motion, demonstrating, for an oblivious audience of a half-dozen sleep-deprived graduate students, the fleet-footed agility that fueled his brief, abortive stint as a pugilist and nearly derailed his academic career.
Body and Soul: Notebooks of an Apprentice Boxer is the work in question. It is an extraordinay combination of yada yada yada:
Just as one cannot understand what an instituted religion such as Catholicism is without studying in detail the structure and functioning of the organization that supports it, in this case the Roman Church, one cannot elucidate the meaning and roots of boxing in contemporary American society-at least in the lower regions of social space, where it continues to defy an extinction periodically announced as its imminent and inevitable fate-without canvassing the fabric of the social and symbolic relations woven in and around the training gym, the hub and hidden engine of the pugilistic universe.

..... with precise, local and evocative reportage.

Check it out, you won't regret it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

P P P Pick Up a Penguin

Club Penguin (Waddle around and meet new friends!) is the current online hangout of choice for my seven year old and his friends.

According to Wikipedia:
Club Penguin is an online game developed by New Horizon Interactive. Using cartoon penguins as avatars, players waddle around, chat, play minigames, and participate in other activities with one another in a snow-covered virtual world. After beta-testing, Club Penguin was made available to the general public on October 24, 2005 ........ The success of Club Penguin led to New Horizon being purchased by The Walt Disney Company in August 2007 for the sum of $350 million, with an additional $350 million in bonuses should specific targets be met by 2009.

Seven hundred million clams! I am in the wrong business.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Don Mullan

The idea of Pele attending the unveling of a statue of Gordon Banks is heart warming but it is not as delightfully incongruous as Archbishop Desmond Tutu bowling up as well.

I was stopped in my tracks though as I glanced through the BBC coverage and read:
The statue - made by local artist Andrew Edwards - is the brainchild of Irish author Don Mullan who has written a book about the star called The Hero Who Could Fly.
Back in 2006, Don Mullan emailed me after I blogged about a piece he wrote on this very subject in The Times.

I googled him out of interest yesterday. He is an interesting man according to, which also appears to explain the Tutu connection.

As I wrote at the time, "the rich and intricate connections we can make in this new medium never fail to astonish me".

Sunday, July 13, 2008


I went to see Shakespeare's R&J performed in the open air at AbbeyFest last night.
Four Catholic schoolboys "get the act of contrition and the conjugation of Latin verbs out of their system by meeting secretly, as if in a midsummer night's dream" to act out the tragic tale of Romeo and Juliet. They soon become swept away, and the rigidity of their daily lives begin to parallel the lives of the characters in distant Verona: roles in the family, roles in society and the roles played by men and women seem to make all the sense in the world, and then suddenly, they seem to make no sense at all. Perception and understanding are turned upside down as the fun of play-acting turns serious and the words and meanings begin to hit home and universal truths emerge.
Personally I could have just done with a production of Romeo and Juliet unencumbered with such a framing but it was still pretty good. If I may be allowed a small quibble, Catholic public school boys in the 50s would be struggling with the Holy Ghost not the Holy Spirit.

The author blogs at The developing production blogged at and blogs its tour at

For all my earlier reservations, I think it is rather splendid to be able to read the actor playing Romeo's thoughts about his developing performance.

You can still catch the last performance at the Mills tonight.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Hair of the Dog

An alcoholic is someone you don't like who drinks as much as you do.
I finished reading "The Colour of a Dog Running Away" this morning through the fog of a gentleman's head occasioned by last night's AbbeyFest, and reflected that this was the first book I've read since Sean's "Deadwater" in which the central character drinks as much as, if not more than, me. What is it with Welsh authors and protagonists and booze?

I can't say much about the book pre el grupo meeting, but it certainly contains a scene worthy of a Bad Sex in Fiction Award; whenever I read about tongues "flickering" I get a mental image of monitor lizards rather than any sort of erotic charge.

Welsh fiction is a bibulously libidinous bibliography, and if your tongue can twist that without tripping (or flickering) you are not drunk.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Inset Day

Teacher Training Day - each year five days during term-time are set aside for staff training. Pupils do not attend school on these days.

Alternatively, one of five days a year I have to take off work, it not being possible for teachers to obtain this training during- say -the six weeks holiday they have in the summer.

Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Look Lively

"Google has launched an online 3D virtual world called Lively, which it hopes will rival Second Life.

"Lively allows users to create personalised avatars and virtual rooms. These rooms can be based around any theme, and filled with customised architecture and furniture, as well as elements from the web."

"YouTube videos can be watched within a virtual PC, for example ....."

That last bit is eerily reminiscent of World of Word of Warcraft don't you think?

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Gentlemen at Arms

I wasn't allowed to take photographs in Buckingham Palace or the grounds yesterday so here is a Welsh themed picture I got outside.

Once we were inside I was hailed by another guest, a guy I knew from ACPO. We must really be moving in exalted circles if we're bumping by chance into acquaintances at this sort of high falutin' bun fight.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Kylie Minogue at Buckingham Palace

You can post an embedded YouTube video direct to Blogger from within YouTube, so here is Kylie from the Royal Channel as a test.

I am off to the Garden Party at Buckingham Palace this afternoon.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Gr8 my teeth

Gordon Brown is flying off to Japan with a packed lunch made up from Sunday's leftovers.

I've considered the G8 forum entirely ludicrous since the posturing about Africa at Gleeagles in 2005, accompanied by Bono et al. I haven't noticed that the benighted continent has got any better since then, have you?

This year they are going to solve global warming, which (in the absence of representatives of China and India with regard to pumping carbon into the atmosphere or Brazil and Indonesia with regard to safeguarding the rainforests that suck it up) will be a good trick.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Mea Culpa

I was so caught up in the tennis that I forgot to post anything today. This note is a cheat and a stub.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

The Last Englishman

I have a new hero: Lieut. Colonel Alfred Daniel Wintle.

Jim Broadbent made a TV film about him. I haven't watched it yet but I have assembled a YouTube playlist at

Friday, July 04, 2008

WoW, Why oh Why?

Warcraft Sequel Lets You Play A Character Playing Warcraft.

Genius from The Onion that is disturbingly close to how I often felt watching the Bomber play. That said he seems to have drifted away from it lately. His current computer hobby is compiling lists of arcane facts about spiders and arranging them in extravagant WordArt fonts in Microsoft Publisher. Go figure.

Thursday, July 03, 2008


The sharpness of the lemon filling is perfectly balanced by the sweetness of the meringue.

Tim Hayward is right.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

With a Wimpey

Taylor Wimpey today admitted that it has been unable to secure nearly £500 million in funding from investors, putting Britain's largest house builder at risk of breaching its banking covenants.

Shares in the company plunged 49.7 per cent to 30.5p after it blamed "current market conditions" for its failure to raise new capital.

Peter Redfern, chief executive at Taylor Wimpey, said the company had managed to secure a proportion of the capital from its existing shareholders, but was unable to raise the remaining sum from new investors "within a short period of time".

Mr Redfern said the company would pursue its existing strategy of tapping investors for money ......

"Its existing strategy of tapping investors for money". Hmmmmmm, I don't think I've heard panhandling described as strategic before.

I refer you to my comments of last year.

To recap, Godfrey Mitchell built Wimpey up from practically nothing into a group that may have been the biggest contractor in the world by the Seventies.

Since he retired it has done little but decline.

A warning from history perhaps for the post-Gates Microsoft.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Time Out of Joint

Dutch coffee shops, long considered as synonymous with the Netherlands as tulips or attacking football, face a new challenge from today when a ban on smoking tobacco in restaurants and cafes comes into effect. The owners claim the law, which will allow customers to light up potent tobacco-free pure cannabis joints but ban milder spliffs in which tobacco is mixed with cannabis, threatens to put hundreds of them out of business.
Mark Jacobsen, chairman of the BCD, a nationwide association of coffee shop owners, said proper implementation of it would require inspectors to check each cannabis joint for tobacco content.
He said: "It's absurd. In other countries they look to see whether you have marijuana in your cigarette, here they'll look to see if you've got cigarette in your marijuana."

Beachcomberesque genius from the Lowlands.