Monday, December 31, 2012

The task of mankind

Gilgamesh, whither rovest thou?
The life thou pursuest thou shall not find.
When the gods created mankind,
Death for mankind they set aside,
Life in their own hands retaining.
Thou, Gilgamesh, let full be thy belly.
Make thou merry by day and by night.
Of each day make thou a feast of rejoicing,
Day and night dance thou and play.
Let thy garments be sparkling fresh,
Thy head be washed; bathe thou in water.
Pay heed to the little one that holds on to thy hand,
Let thy spouse rejoice in thy bosom!
For this is the task of mankind!
Siduri is a character in the Epic of Gilgamesh. She is an "alewife", a wise female divinity associated with fermentation. Take her party advice this New Year's Eve. She's qualified, and nothing much has changed over the last four thousand years it would seem.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Pawking Metaws

From a BBC festive quiz:

1. The Queen has more than 400,000 followers on her British Monarchy Twitter site and has tweeted more than 13,000 times. How many people is she following?

When it launched it looked like she was following Andy Muray and the Burglar; they'd been cancelled but it took days to disappear from Twitter's cache.

Simpler times, and I still remember when a quarter of a million followers seemed a lot.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Big Game 5

There are 82,000 of us, by all accounts, off to Twickenham today to see the 'Quins play London Irish.

Friday, December 28, 2012


We speculatively plugged the Bomber's new laptop into the big TV in the living room last night via the HDMI cable that it usually reserved for the XBOX.

World of Warcraft in HD was such a bright and detailed revelation in high definition that even I could bear to look at it for five minutes.

I'm sure that there are settings that can be fine tuned, but this definitely looks like the way forward even after a cursory effort. If  I can't find a wireless keyboard and mouse combo in the office to play from the couch at home, I will pick up something like this Microsoft offering.

Looking back, the Welsh Born Icon Time Machine, tells me that he has been playing World of Warcraft for six of his twelve years.

Half his life. Gosh.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Quality time

  1. The M4 motorway links London with South Wales. It is part of the unsigned European route E30. Other major places along the route include Reading, Swindon, Bristol, Newport, Cardiff and Swansea. Originally referred to as the London-South Wales Motorway, the English section was constructed between 1965 and 1971, the Welsh section was completed in 1993 and the Second Severn Crossing opened in 1996.
  2. University Hospital of Wales (referred to locally as "the Heath" or UHW), opened in November 1971, is a major 1000-bed hospital situated in the Heath district of Cardiff, Wales. UHW is the third largest University Hospital in the UK and the largest hospital in Wales, providing 24-hour Accident & Emergency and various other specialist departments.
Lately I feel that I am getting to know both of them better than I would like.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Child's Christmas in Wales

It is Dylan Thomas you shall have this year butt, as Wales is where I'm to isn't it.

One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.

All the Christmases roll down toward the two-tongued sea, like a cold and headlong moon bundling down the sky that was our street; and they stop at the rim of the ice-edged fish-freezing waves, and I plunge my hands in the snow and bring out whatever I can find. In goes my hand into that wool-white bell-tongued ball of holidays resting at the rim of the carol-singing sea, and out come Mrs. Prothero and the firemen.

It was on the afternoon of the Christmas Eve, and I was in Mrs. Prothero's garden, waiting for cats, with her son Jim. It was snowing. It was always snowing at Christmas. December, in my memory, is white as Lapland, though there were no reindeers. But there were cats. Patient, cold and callous, our hands wrapped in socks, we waited to snowball the cats. Sleek and long as jaguars and horrible-whiskered, spitting and snarling, they would slink and sidle over the white back-garden walls, and the lynx-eyed hunters, Jim and I, fur-capped and moccasined trappers from Hudson Bay, off Mumbles Road, would hurl our deadly snowballs at the green of their eyes. The wise cats never appeared.

We were so still, Eskimo-footed arctic marksmen in the muffling silence of the eternal snows - eternal, ever since Wednesday - that we never heard Mrs. Prothero's first cry from her igloo at the bottom of the garden. Or, if we heard it at all, it was, to us, like the far-off challenge of our enemy and prey, the neighbor's polar cat. But soon the voice grew louder.

"Fire!" cried Mrs. Prothero, and she beat the dinner-gong.

And we ran down the garden, with the snowballs in our arms, toward the house; and smoke, indeed, was pouring out of the dining-room, and the gong was bombilating, and Mrs. Prothero was announcing ruin like a town crier in Pompeii. This was better than all the cats in Wales standing on the wall in a row. We bounded into the house, laden with snowballs, and stopped at the open door of the smoke-filled room.

Something was burning all right; perhaps it was Mr. Prothero, who always slept there after midday dinner with a newspaper over his face. But he was standing in the middle of the room, saying, "A fine Christmas!" and smacking at the smoke with a slipper.

"Call the fire brigade," cried Mrs. Prothero as she beat the gong.

"There won't be there," said Mr. Prothero, "it's Christmas."

There was no fire to be seen, only clouds of smoke and Mr. Prothero standing in the middle of them, waving his slipper as though he were conducting.

"Do something," he said. And we threw all our snowballs into the smoke - I think we missed Mr. Prothero - and ran out of the house to the telephone box.

"Let's call the police as well," Jim said. "And the ambulance." "And Ernie Jenkins, he likes fires."

But we only called the fire brigade, and soon the fire engine came and three tall men in helmets brought a hose into the house and Mr. Prothero got out just in time before they turned it on. Nobody could have had a noisier Christmas Eve. And when the firemen turned off the hose and were standing in the wet, smoky room, Jim's Aunt, Miss. Prothero, came downstairs and peered in at them. Jim and I waited, very quietly, to hear what she would say to them. She said the right thing, always. She looked at the three tall firemen in their shining helmets, standing among the smoke and cinders and dissolving snowballs, and she said, "Would you like anything to read?"

Years and years ago, when I was a boy, when there were wolves in Wales, and birds the color of red-flannel petticoats whisked past the harp-shaped hills, when we sang and wallowed all night and day in caves that smelt like Sunday afternoons in damp front farmhouse parlors, and we chased, with the jawbones of deacons, the English and the bears, before the motor car, before the wheel, before the duchess-faced horse, when we rode the daft and happy hills bareback, it snowed and it snowed. But here a small boy says: "It snowed last year, too. I made a snowman and my brother knocked it down and I knocked my brother down and then we had tea."

"But that was not the same snow," I say. "Our snow was not only shaken from white wash buckets down the sky, it came shawling out of the ground and swam and drifted out of the arms and hands and bodies of the trees; snow grew overnight on the roofs of the houses like a pure and grandfather moss, minutely -ivied the walls and settled on the postman, opening the gate, like a dumb, numb thunder-storm of white, torn Christmas cards."

"Were there postmen then, too?"

"With sprinkling eyes and wind-cherried noses, on spread, frozen feet they crunched up to the doors and mittened on them manfully. But all that the children could hear was a ringing of bells."

"You mean that the postman went rat-a-tat-tat and the doors rang?"

"I mean that the bells the children could hear were inside them."

"I only hear thunder sometimes, never bells."

"There were church bells, too."

"Inside them?"

"No, no, no, in the bat-black, snow-white belfries, tugged by bishops and storks. And they rang their tidings over the bandaged town, over the frozen foam of the powder and ice-cream hills, over the crackling sea. It seemed that all the churches boomed for joy under my window; and the weathercocks crew for Christmas, on our fence."

"Get back to the postmen"

"They were just ordinary postmen, found of walking and dogs and Christmas and the snow. They knocked on the doors with blue knuckles ...."

"Ours has got a black knocker...."

"And then they stood on the white Welcome mat in the little, drifted porches and huffed and puffed, making ghosts with their breath, and jogged from foot to foot like small boys wanting to go out."

"And then the presents?"

"And then the Presents, after the Christmas box. And the cold postman, with a rose on his button-nose, tingled down the tea-tray-slithered run of the chilly glinting hill. He went in his ice-bound boots like a man on fishmonger's slabs.

"He wagged his bag like a frozen camel's hump, dizzily turned the corner on one foot, and, by God, he was gone."

"Get back to the Presents."

"There were the Useful Presents: engulfing mufflers of the old coach days, and mittens made for giant sloths; zebra scarfs of a substance like silky gum that could be tug-o'-warred down to the galoshes; blinding tam-o'-shanters like patchwork tea cozies and bunny-suited busbies and balaclavas for victims of head-shrinking tribes; from aunts who always wore wool next to the skin there were mustached and rasping vests that made you wonder why the aunts had any skin left at all; and once I had a little crocheted nose bag from an aunt now, alas, no longer whinnying with us. And pictureless books in which small boys, though warned with quotations not to, would skate on Farmer Giles' pond and did and drowned; and books that told me everything about the wasp, except why."

"Go on the Useless Presents."

"Bags of moist and many-colored jelly babies and a folded flag and a false nose and a tram-conductor's cap and a machine that punched tickets and rang a bell; never a catapult; once, by mistake that no one could explain, a little hatchet; and a celluloid duck that made, when you pressed it, a most unducklike sound, a mewing moo that an ambitious cat might make who wished to be a cow; and a painting book in which I could make the grass, the trees, the sea and the animals any colour I pleased, and still the dazzling sky-blue sheep are grazing in the red field under the rainbow-billed and pea-green birds. Hardboileds, toffee, fudge and allsorts, crunches, cracknels, humbugs, glaciers, marzipan, and butterwelsh for the Welsh. And troops of bright tin soldiers who, if they could not fight, could always run. And Snakes-and-Families and Happy Ladders. And Easy Hobbi-Games for Little Engineers, complete with instructions. Oh, easy for Leonardo! And a whistle to make the dogs bark to wake up the old man next door to make him beat on the wall with his stick to shake our picture off the wall. And a packet of cigarettes: you put one in your mouth and you stood at the corner of the street and you waited for hours, in vain, for an old lady to scold you for smoking a cigarette, and then with a smirk you ate it. And then it was breakfast under the balloons."

"Were there Uncles like in our house?"

"There are always Uncles at Christmas. The same Uncles. And on Christmas morning, with dog-disturbing whistle and sugar fags, I would scour the swatched town for the news of the little world, and find always a dead bird by the Post Office or by the white deserted swings; perhaps a robin, all but one of his fires out. Men and women wading or scooping back from chapel, with taproom noses and wind-bussed cheeks, all albinos, huddles their stiff black jarring feathers against the irreligious snow. Mistletoe hung from the gas brackets in all the front parlors; there was sherry and walnuts and bottled beer and crackers by the dessertspoons; and cats in their fur-abouts watched the fires; and the high-heaped fire spat, all ready for the chestnuts and the mulling pokers. Some few large men sat in the front parlors, without their collars, Uncles almost certainly, trying their new cigars, holding them out judiciously at arms' length, returning them to their mouths, coughing, then holding them out again as though waiting for the explosion; and some few small aunts, not wanted in the kitchen, nor anywhere else for that matter, sat on the very edge of their chairs, poised and brittle, afraid to break, like faded cups and saucers."

Not many those mornings trod the piling streets: an old man always, fawn-bowlered, yellow-gloved and, at this time of year, with spats of snow, would take his constitutional to the white bowling green and back, as he would take it wet or fire on Christmas Day or Doomsday; sometimes two hale young men, with big pipes blazing, no overcoats and wind blown scarfs, would trudge, unspeaking, down to the forlorn sea, to work up an appetite, to blow away the fumes, who knows, to walk into the waves until nothing of them was left but the two furling smoke clouds of their inextinguishable briars. Then I would be slap-dashing home, the gravy smell of the dinners of others, the bird smell, the brandy, the pudding and mince, coiling up to my nostrils, when out of a snow-clogged side lane would come a boy the spit of myself, with a pink-tipped cigarette and the violet past of a black eye, cocky as a bullfinch, leering all to himself.

I hated him on sight and sound, and would be about to put my dog whistle to my lips and blow him off the face of Christmas when suddenly he, with a violet wink, put his whistle to his lips and blew so stridently, so high, so exquisitely loud, that gobbling faces, their cheeks bulged with goose, would press against their tinsled windows, the whole length of the white echoing street. For dinner we had turkey and blazing pudding, and after dinner the Uncles sat in front of the fire, loosened all buttons, put their large moist hands over their watch chains, groaned a little and slept. Mothers, aunts and sisters scuttled to and fro, bearing tureens. Auntie Bessie, who had already been frightened, twice, by a clock-work mouse, whimpered at the sideboard and had some elderberry wine. The dog was sick. Auntie Dosie had to have three aspirins, but Auntie Hannah, who liked port, stood in the middle of the snowbound back yard, singing like a big-bosomed thrush. I would blow up balloons to see how big they would blow up to; and, when they burst, which they all did, the Uncles jumped and rumbled. In the rich and heavy afternoon, the Uncles breathing like dolphins and the snow descending, I would sit among festoons and Chinese lanterns and nibble dates and try to make a model man-o'-war, following the Instructions for Little Engineers, and produce what might be mistaken for a sea-going tramcar.

Or I would go out, my bright new boots squeaking, into the white world, on to the seaward hill, to call on Jim and Dan and Jack and to pad through the still streets, leaving huge footprints on the hidden pavements.

"I bet people will think there's been hippos."

"What would you do if you saw a hippo coming down our street?"

"I'd go like this, bang! I'd throw him over the railings and roll him down the hill and then I'd tickle him under the ear and he'd wag his tail."

"What would you do if you saw two hippos?"

Iron-flanked and bellowing he-hippos clanked and battered through the scudding snow toward us as we passed Mr. Daniel's house.

"Let's post Mr. Daniel a snow-ball through his letter box."

"Let's write things in the snow."

"Let's write, 'Mr. Daniel looks like a spaniel' all over his lawn."

Or we walked on the white shore. "Can the fishes see it's snowing?"

The silent one-clouded heavens drifted on to the sea. Now we were snow-blind travelers lost on the north hills, and vast dewlapped dogs, with flasks round their necks, ambled and shambled up to us, baying "Excelsior." We returned home through the poor streets where only a few children fumbled with bare red fingers in the wheel-rutted snow and cat-called after us, their voices fading away, as we trudged uphill, into the cries of the dock birds and the hooting of ships out in the whirling bay. And then, at tea the recovered Uncles would be jolly; and the ice cake loomed in the center of the table like a marble grave. Auntie Hannah laced her tea with rum, because it was only once a year.

Bring out the tall tales now that we told by the fire as the gaslight bubbled like a diver. Ghosts whooed like owls in the long nights when I dared not look over my shoulder; animals lurked in the cubbyhole under the stairs and the gas meter ticked. And I remember that we went singing carols once, when there wasn't the shaving of a moon to light the flying streets. At the end of a long road was a drive that led to a large house, and we stumbled up the darkness of the drive that night, each one of us afraid, each one holding a stone in his hand in case, and all of us too brave to say a word. The wind through the trees made noises as of old and unpleasant and maybe webfooted men wheezing in caves. We reached the black bulk of the house. "What shall we give them? Hark the Herald?"

"No," Jack said, "Good King Wencelas. I'll count three." One, two three, and we began to sing, our voices high and seemingly distant in the snow-felted darkness round the house that was occupied by nobody we knew. We stood close together, near the dark door. Good King Wencelas looked out On the Feast of Stephen ... And then a small, dry voice, like the voice of someone who has not spoken for a long time, joined our singing: a small, dry, eggshell voice from the other side of the door: a small dry voice through the keyhole. And when we stopped running we were outside our house; the front room was lovely; balloons floated under the hot-water-bottle-gulping gas; everything was good again and shone over the town.

"Perhaps it was a ghost," Jim said. "

Perhaps it was trolls," Dan said, who was always reading.

"Let's go in and see if there's any jelly left," Jack said. And we did that.

Always on Christmas night there was music. An uncle played the fiddle, a cousin sang "Cherry Ripe," and another uncle sang "Drake's Drum." It was very warm in the little house. Auntie Hannah, who had got on to the parsnip wine, sang a song about Bleeding Hearts and Death, and then another in which she said her heart was like a Bird's Nest; and then everybody laughed again; and then I went to bed. Looking through my bedroom window, out into the moonlight and the unending smoke-colored snow, I could see the lights in the windows of all the other houses on our hill and hear the music rising from them up the long, steady falling night. I turned the gas down, I got into bed. I said some words to the close and holy darkness, and then I slept.

Monday, December 24, 2012

forswear thin potations

If I had a thousand sons, the first human principle I would teach them should be to forswear thin potations and to addict themselves to sack.
The compliments of the season to you.

When the nations lose their war-sense
And the world gets back its horse-sense
What a day for celebration that will be.
When some body shouts "The fight's up!"
And "It's time to put the lights up!"
Then the first thing to be lit up will be me.

I'm going to get lit-up when the lights go up in London
I'm going to get lit up as I've never been before....
You will find me on the tiles
You will find me wreathed in smiles
I'm going to get so lit up I'll be visible for miles

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Home from Home

Well, I have rushed back to SW19. Why, I wonder?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The method of loci

Myself: (coming out of hiding): Who are you? 

Prodnose: I am Prodnose, the busybody-- Do you remember me? 

Myself: Prodnose... 

Prodnose: Yes, Prodnose... 

Myself: You better get out of here, Prodnose; there's gonna be trouble... 

Prodnose: If there is trouble, I stay here to help you. For your father -- for your father 

Myself: Alright... Listen, wait for me outside in front of the hospital. Alright? I'll be out in a minute. Go ahead... 

Prodnose: Okay... okay. 

[I return to the Don's room, at his bedside. The nurse is still in the room] 

Myself: Just lie here, Pop. I'll take care of you now. I'm with you now. I'm with you... 

Friday, December 21, 2012

dropping a conglanger

By the nineteenth century, the dream of constructing a philosophical language capable of expressing universal truths had given way to the equally ambitious desire to unite the world through a single, easy-to-learn, politically neutral, auxiliary language. Solresol, the creation of a French musician named Jean-François Sudre, was among the first of these universal languages to gain popular attention. It had only seven syllables: Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, and Si. Words could be sung, or performed on a violin. Or, since the language could also be translated into the seven colors of the rainbow, sentences could be woven into a textile as a stream of colors.
All hail constructed languages.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Things that might have been

I think about things that might have been and never were.
The treatise on Saxon myths that Bede omitted to write.
The inconceivable work that Dante may have glimpsed
As soon as he corrected the Comedy's last verse.
History without two afternoons: that of the hemlock, that of the Cross.
History without Helen's face.
Man without the eyes that have granted us the moon.
Over three Gettysburg days, the victory of the South.
The love we never shared.
The vast empire the Vikings declined to found.
The globe without the wheel, or without the rose.
John Donne's judgment of Shakespeare.
The Unicorn's other horn.
The fabled Irish bird which alights in two places at once.
The child I never had.
I'm not crying. There's just something in my eye.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Am I blue?

"When there's a French whore in the White House, then we can talk."

For your Christmas movie consideration.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Dreams with sharp teeth

I used to love Harlan Ellison when I was a kid. At least one of us has mellowed.

My brow has lowered further this week, as I am taking a break from Ray Monk's biography of Ludwig Wittgenstein, to read Mark Kriegel's life of Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini.
From Youngstown, Ohio, Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini
A lightweight contender, like father like son
He fought for the title with Frias in Vegas
And he put him away in round number one
Hurry home early - hurry on home
Boom Boom Mancini's fighting Bobby Chacon
Prodnose: What we can't say we can't say, and we can't whistle it either.

Monday, December 17, 2012

light the touchpad and retire

We spent a lot of this weekend setting up the new laptop I have got the Bomber for Christmas. It may detract from the romance of gifts and wrapping but it was certainly necessary.

As a case in point, after we had downloaded all 20+GB of World of Warcraft, he told me that it was very difficult to play because the touchpad stopped working while he was using the keyboard and for about a brief period afterwards as well.

Much head scratching and research revealed a setting that is explicitly designed to stop the touchpad responding  for about 2-3 seconds while the keyboard is being used. It is supposed to avoid erratic movement of the cursor if your palm accidentally brushed the pad while typing. Not really something you would want to be trouble shooting on Christmas morning.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Beepin' 'ell

I binned the gym this morning as I had received the following scary email yesterday from the Old Ruts U12 coaching team.
Dear All
Now is the chance to show your Boys where they get their "talent" from, Can ALL parents please bring their Trainers to join in a "friendly" session tomorrow.
As it turned out, adult participation was confined to the bleep test and gratifyingly the Bomber and I were the last two standing.

What I didn't tell him however, was that I had craftily only participated in alternate legs of the runs in the middle part of the test which left me with extra gas in the tank at the end.

I will come clean eventually however as there is a life lesson I want him to take from the story: whenever possible let someone else do the donkey work before showing up just before the end to grab any glory that may be going.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Girl's Gone Wilde

Kim Wilde and Ricky Wilde serenade passengers on the train home after the MagicFM Christmas Party. (Hat tip. Frankie).

I saw Kim Wilde supporting Michael Jackson at Cardiff Arms Park in 1988 on the BAD stadium tour. She's doing better than him now. Ricky Wilde actually wrote Kids in America for her (along with their father Marty) by the way, trivia hounds.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Stop making census

Scrubbed 2011 census data is now available and the papers are full of yadayadayada about the percentage of the population identifying their religious affiliation as Jedi and other such enterprises of great pith and moment.

I remember the census weekend because a friend of the Bomber stayed over at ours on the Saturday night.  If he had stayed over on Sunday I would have had to supplied Her Majesty's snoopers with all sort of information that I, straw chewing bumpkin that I am, didn't actually know; trivial things like his precise surname and address. I knew his family well enough , and that he could be taken home through the park, turn right, turn left, first house over the road but the more formal stuff eluded me.

I know the details now, but I won't share them with you. He needs to stay incognito as I recently heard the boys chuckling about the fact that this year our guest has snaffled a whiteboard controller and sometimes uses if to mess, ghost-in-the-machine stylee, with a teacher's mind in class. Officially I disapprove but it does bring a smile to my face every time I think of it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Matron, take them away!

(Hat tip. Simon B.)

A technique I have for judging if a film is really any good is to imagine it remade with the Carry On team and decide if that version would be an improvement.

Thus, "Carrry On Godfather" probably wouldn't be better than the original, but "Carry On Betty Blue" could be a work of genius.
Betty (Hattie Jacques) and Zorg (Sid James) are passionate lovers who live in a shack on the beach.  Zorg narrates the story of their relationship via voiceover. He describes Betty as “like a flower with translucent antennae and a mauve plastic heart”. She yearns for a better life and quit her last job as a waitress. Zorg's boss asks him to paint the 500 shacks that populate the beach—a fact that he keeps from Betty who thinks they only have to do one. She takes on the project with enthusiasm that quickly turns to anger once she learns the actual number. In response, Betty covers the boss’s car with pink paint .... and then the fun really begins ...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

One Pound Fish

The fish seller – real name Muhammad Shahid Nazir – became a web sensation earlier this year when footage of him singing his One Pound Fish ditty at his stall in Upton Park, London, surfaced online.

This would explain why the Bomber has been singing it to himself for the last few months. I simply assumed that he had gone off his head.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Muddied Oafs

The planets aligned for mini rugby this weekend. Ben's mate Jonnie finally switched codes from soccer. Alex, who we take in the car to training, made a debut for his school at inside half. My old Whitton friend Steve turned up at the Ruts with his son who plays for Twickenham U11s and I wandered over from the U12s to say hello just as he went over in the corner for a try. As ever, the Bomber scored in his match as well. Then, when we got back to the club, a couple of Harlequins players were there with the Aviva Premiership trophy they won last season.

All in all, a very satisfying way to spend a Sunday morning.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

all the loungers and idlers of the Empire

I went to Venus yesterday afternoon for the launch of a local osteopath's folk music CD. Wouldn't that be a great alibi in a detective story, or perhaps for Sherlock Holmes to deduce from my demeanour?

If he was also to establish from his observations that I have had some rickety fence panels in the back garden replaced free as a neighbour's contractors accidently knocked them over when taking down a tree that would be correct as well.
"How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?

Saturday, December 08, 2012

The Adventure of the Speckled Band

The Bomber mentioned in passing the other day that they are studying the Sherlock Holmes story "The Adventure of the Speckled Band" in school. I was delighted as it contains perhaps my favourite exchange in the oeuvre.
"I will go when I have said my say. Don't you dare to meddle with my affairs. I know that Miss Stoner has been here. I traced her! I am a dangerous man to fall foul of! See here." He stepped swiftly forward, seized the poker, and bent it into a curve with his huge brown hands.
"See that you keep yourself out of my grip," he snarled, and hurling the twisted poker into the fireplace he strode out of the room.
"He seems a very amiable person," said Holmes, laughing. "I am not quite so bulky, but if he had remained I might have shown him that my grip was not much more feeble than his own." As he spoke he picked up the steel poker and, with a sudden effort, straightened it out again.
I bought the Jeremy Brett telly version on iTunes for £1.98 and we watched it on Thursday night. It also made me realize that as I have the collection from which it comes on Kindle. The story is, to all intents and purposes with me all the time as it is on my iPhone and iPad as well as the Kindle hardware.

All very revolutionary I suppose, though one still actually has to read it. It doesn't just leach through the skin by osmosis.

Friday, December 07, 2012

a jobbing actor

The Burglar intoduced me to Cabin Pressure when we were driving down to West Dean for a meeting I think.

It is strange and rather heartening as the trailer for the new Star Trek movie is released to think that Benedict Cumberbatch is spending his weekends playing a half-wit in an ensemble cast taping a BBC Radio 4 sitcom with a budget that would probably be lost as a rounding error in  a Hollywood tent pole release.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

The Magic Box

The tip of the finest snow flake from the northern lights of Antarctica.*
The tip of the finest leaf on a sparkly Christmas tree next to the blazing fire.
The crumbs of a biscuit after Santa has placed his teeth in them on a snowy Christmas day.
The left overs of ancient fairy dust.
The flaming heart of the devil.
The holy heart of god himself.
The left overs of smelted gold.
The sediment of drunken whisky.
EJ Bomber (12 1/4)

* Northern Lightsh; Shouth Pole? Shurely shome mishtake?

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

True, Unlikely, Welsh

Heston Blumenthal aims to rekindle people's love of traditional pub food by building a giant pie and transforming it into a fully functioning public house in the Welsh village of Minera. But that's not all - his tavern comes complete with a billiard table made from cod, tartare sauce and pea mousse - topped off with pickled egg balls - a supersized pork scratching big enough to feed the entire village and a fruit machine that pays its jackpot in snacks.
Unlikely as that sounds it pales into insignificance when set against the heroically daft, but wonderfully entertaining, notion that England as hosts of the 2015 Rugby World Cup could play their pool games at the Millenium Stadium in Wales.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Do What Thou Wilton's

I was supposed to go to Wilton's tonight, but I have had to bin it to attend a meeting at the school about the Bomber's skiing trip next year.

Maybe some other time. It seems like an interesting place.

Monday, December 03, 2012

A Welsh Perspective

29 Nov 2012: All Blacks laid low by Norovirus

1 Dec 2012: England 38-21 NZ

Not that I want to rain on anyone's parade you understand.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

bona rutabaga

Myself: The scientific causes for obese, dull, or obnoxious kids are surely complicated. Yet, empiricism has yet to rule out environmental factors like poor parenting and bad nutrition. Indeed, each may be two sides of the same cookie. The idea, that bad nutrition and poor socialization are unrelated to much of the pathology that afflicts children today, is an illusion.

Prodnose: Eh?

Myself: I ate a swede mate. Caught it myself in the veg, box, skinned and butchered it with my own hands; then served it up to the Bomber and self after turning my nose up at that species of veg for decades.

Prodnose: Good for you, but think of all the other things you may have missed in life by not being able to get past the gag-reflex.

Myself: Oh, ain't he bold Mr Horne, ain't he bold!

Saturday, December 01, 2012

The young master is home

When the Bomber bowled up for his first day in secondary school I congratulated myself that I was delivering a self confident fella who was a trained nak muay and judoka, player of the year at the rugby club, and winner of every single event bar one at his primary school sports day.

He got detention in French last week for talking in class. Once I establish he wasn't gossiping in French there will be ..... consequences. The problem I have to deal with is that I have delivered a self confident fella who is a trained nak muay and judoka, player of the year at the rugby club, and winner of every single event bar one at his primary school sports day.

Exactly. Hat tip, Winston.

Friday, November 30, 2012

A dispatch from the 2012 Boring Conference.

By the time I arrived at York Hall Health and Leisure Centre in Bethnal Green on Sunday, the Boring 2012 conference had been underway for about an hour, and I was concerned that I might already have had more than enough tedium for one day. Due to a combination of Irish fog and English gales, I had spent 90 minutes sitting on a runway in Dublin and a further 40 or so circling Heathrow as the plane awaited a landing slot. The irony of my morning—that I was subjecting myself to the boredom and frustration of air travel in order to attend a conference dedicated to the most boring topics imaginable—was not lost on me, but as my flight looped repeatedly over greater London, I was too bored and frustrated to properly appreciate it.
When I got to the venue, the young lady at the welcome table informed me, with an air of genuine sympathy, that I’d missed some very boring stuff already ...... read on .........
Prodnose: I'm tired of art!
Myself: Drawing board.

Prodnose: Sex is a drag!
Myself: In a bawdy house, I daresay.

Prodnose: Australians bore me!
Myself: You mean the a-bore-iginals, don't you?

Prodnose: I'm bored to death!
Myself: Like mortar bored.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

EC2 Does It

Wired: The Cult of Amazon: How a Bookseller Invented the Future of Computing

The article above is well worth a read. We've only got one physical server left, all the rest of our infrastucture runs on Amazon Web Services, and that last hold-out is due to be virtualised by the end of the year.

Here's the money quote that shows you that the journalist gets it:
Part of the genius of EC2 is that it gave software developers virtual machines that behaved a lot like the physical machines they were familiar with. They could run the same sort of software they had always used. Amazon didn’t try to tell the customer what he wanted.
Google and Microsoft released beta versions of similar cloud services in 2008 — Google App Engine and Windows Azure — but these big-name competitors failed to completely grasp what made EC2 so successful. App Engine and Azure tried to make it easier to run software in the cloud, but in doing so they restricted what developers were able to do. The learning curve was steeper, and the public never really embraced them in the same way.
We're a Microsoft house, but we could take all our apps and simply drop them into AWS where they run essentially unchanged. We looked at Azure, Microsoft's own cloud offering, and binned it immediately as we would have to do so much redevelopment.

The WBI Time Machine shows that I picked Amazon's EC2 up as significant pretty much as soon as it was launched see

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Look before you Hindleap

The Bomber has left this morning for a residential course at Hindleap Warren Outdoor Education Centre.

Education via archery, orienteering, pool canoeing, a climbing wall, high ropes, zip-wires, an abseiling tree, tunnels, an obstacle course and team challenges onsite plus canoeing, mountain biking, mine and cave exploration, rock climbing and bouldering offsite.

Prodnose: Right. I had to get up in the morning at ten o'clock at night half an hour before I went to bed, drink a cup of sulphuric acid, work twenty-nine hours a day down mill, and pay mill owner for permission to come to work, and when we got home, our Dad and our mother would kill us and dance about on our graves singing Hallelujah.

Myself: And you try and tell the young people of today that ..... they won't believe you.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pay Attention 007

Skyfall 2012

Q: What did you expect, an exploding pen?

Seoul  2011

Footage of three weapons that were found on a North Korean assassin when he was arrested on the platform of a subway in Seoul in September 2011 were shown on CNN on Monday.

The weapons, which would not be out of place in a James Bond film, included what at first glance appears to be a black torch with a wrist strap and the word "police" along one side. Upon closer inspection, however, one end has three holes and each contains a bullet, with a trigger mechanism in the body of the torch.

Two of the bullets remain in the weapon, which military authorities in the South said they have never seen before. Tests have shown that the flashlight-gun was accurate and the projectile was able to penetrate deep into a mattress from a distance of 16 feet, meaning it would have been lethal at short range.

The two other weapons found on the assassin, identified only by his family name of An, were an ordinary-looking ballpoint pen that contained a poison-tipped needle, while another pen was capable of firing a small projectile coated in a poisonous chemical. As little as 10 milligrams of the poison is reportedly sufficient to cause breathing problems and potentially heart failure.

The assassin had arranged to meet Park Sang-Hak in Seoul and prosecutors believe he had been ordered to kill the outspoken human rights activist.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Odd job, bob-a-job, Bob

Instructions on raking leaves in the garden; words fail me.

Oh, I have fixed the shower by the way. It seems that the cold water comes from the mains or tank, while the pump only supplies the hot. The reason it was overheating was that limescale from our hard water was starting to block the shower head and there wasn't enough pressure to force the cold water through. I descaled it and we are back in business.

A Grateful Nation: Thank you, Your Highness.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


As I was idly strumming the guitar along with Grr!, the new Rolling Stones compilation, album this weekend, the Bomber joined in on the iPad GarageBand keyboard which lead to a very enjoyable half an hour of me teaching him riffs and keys.

I think he may have a talent for it. I will have to fix the power supply for my Kurzweil electric piano and bring it home from the office so we can take things up a level.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Life on the edge

Aeon is a new digital magazine of ideas and culture, publishing an original essay every weekday.

On the day of my 191st yoga class, I commend it to you via:

When you’re living in Beirut and violence keeps spilling into your life, where do you go to find strength? Try yoga
Nathan Deuel

Friday, November 23, 2012

Who was cursed with the Sin of Pride, and Became a Boot-Black?

Godolphin Horne was Nobly Born;
He held the Human Race in Scorn,
And lived with all his Sisters where
His father lived, in Berkeley Square.
And oh! The Lad was Deathly Proud!
He never shook your Hand or Bowed,
But merely smirked and nodded thus:
How perfectly ridiculous!
Alas! That such Affected Tricks
Should flourish in a Child of Six!
(For such was Young Godolphin's age).
Just then, the Court required a Page,
Whereat the Lord High Chamberlain
(The Kindest and the Best of Men),
He went good-naturedly and took
A perfectly enormous Book
Called People Qualified to Be
Attendant on His Majesty,
And murmured, as he scanned the list
(To see that no one should be missed),
"There's William Coutts has got the Flu,
And Billy Higgs would never do,
And Guy de Vere is far too young,
And ... wasn't D'Alton's father hung?
And as for Alexander Byng!-...
I think I know the kind of thing,
A Churchman, cleanly, nobly born,
Come, let us say Godolphin Horne?"
But hardly had he said the word
When Murmurs of Dissent were heard.
The King of Iceland's Eldest Son
Said, "Thank you! I am taking none!"
The Aged Duchess of Athlone
Remarked, in her sub-acid tone,
"I doubt if He is what we need!"
With which the Bishops all agreed;
And even Lady Mary Flood
(So kind, and oh! So really good)
Said, "No! He wouldn't do at all,
He'd make us feel a lot too small."
The Chamberlain said, "Well, well, well!
No doubt you're right. One cannot tell!"
He took his Gold and Diamond Pen
And scratched Godolphin out again.
So now Godolphin is the Boy
Who Blacks the Boots at the Savoy.
Prodnose: You've got a meeting with the Royal Household today I take it?

Myself: You're darn tootin'; no flies on you this morning eh?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Oh, my Friends, be warned by me

Young's Winter Warmer and a streaming cold do not mix.

That is all.

Prodnose: Flavonoids in red wine, by contrast, may reduce mucus and phlegm associated with several conditions. Red wine contains an abundance of the flavonoid resveratrol, which is produced by the reaction of plants to stress. Flavonoids are found mostly in fruits such as grapes - from which red wine is derived -apples and pears. The Linus Pauling Institute reports that in addition to their antioxidant properties, the flavonoids in red wine act as antiviral and anti-inflammatory agents, which suggests they may help fight some mucus-producing illnesses.

Myself: Go away. My head hurts.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

I ate my cat for Christmas

Mark ate his cat for Christmas. I've got a feeling that it may even have been my putative festive effort back in June (Icons passim) that put him in mind of his own seasonal offering.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

sneezy does it

I have a cold. Colds are worse than I remember.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Sunday, November 18, 2012

FZ70015/12E - 0311 R

If you want / need to purchase a Spare Part for your Tefal Actifry you will need to know the Model Number you have - as to avoid purchasing any ill filling or incompatible spare parts.

You will find the Tefal Actifry Model Number on the underside of the machine.

1) When the Actifry is Cold, Unplugged, and Empty turn the Actifry upside down to expose the underside of the machine.2) On the Underside of the Actifry there will be a "rating plate"... This will either be in the format of a stick-on adhesive label or the rating plate can be embossed / imprinted onto the machine.3) On the rating plate of your Actifry you will find a line of characters following the word "Type" , "ART" or "Model" depending on the age of the fryer and country of purchase.4) Most Actifry's have a model number beginning with "FZ", "AH" or "AG" and then a series of numbers.
Once you have determined the Model Number of your Tefal Actifry purchasing Spares and Accessories is easy. Whether you need a Tefal Actifry Paddle, Tefal Actifry Lid or Tefal Actifry Filter you can work through websites, listings and other Online information accurately, eliminating the risk of Ill Fitting or Incompatible Spares and Accessories.
So now you know.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

coyote snuggly

"As any woman, you want to feel the embrace of a real man, but would like to avoid the snoring, smell, tossing and turning." Right?
Well now your prayers have been answered, as online retailer Wayfair is finally launching the bestselling Boyfriend Pillow on UK shores.
This machine-washable man substitute takes the form of a disembodied half-torso, with a big droopy arm sprouting from one side that "can be used as a prop-up, a neck-roll or to wrap around the body simulating a lover's embrace".
I seem to detect the hand, if not the arm, of Dr Strabismus everywhere these days now that all human life is beyond parody. Yes I am talking to you Rob Howley.

Friday, November 16, 2012

To put an antic disposition on

I was nursing a Stella and playing a Quaver-crunching Bomber at chess in the family-friendly Prince last night, when I heard that a company called Antic had announced on Facebook that they are taking it over.

O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!

And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Prodnosio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. But come;
Here, as before, never, so help you mercy,
How strange or odd soe'er I bear myself,
As I perchance hereafter shall think meet
To put an antic disposition on ......

Hamlet is a prince of disposition
Antic, and now an Antic Prince in our
Own High Street shall display to all the world
How far up my own backside I have crawled
In ref'rence and allusion. Provenance?
Geddit? Do you Geddit? Geddit do you?


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Head over heels

That wasn't flying! That was... falling with style!

Last night, the Bomber suddenly took it upon himself to remind me that he is a quarter Swedish on his mother's side. I wonder why that could have been? As a rule he articulates it as "twenty five per cent Viking".

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Prince du sang

Accountant seeks to prove he is Princess Margaret's secret son
Robert Brown, who believes Princess Margaret hid a pregnancy in 1955, is fighting for access to documents relating to her will.
A few years ago I remember being politely but firmly delayed in reception when I turned up for a Buckingham Palace meeting, at an entrance other than the one at which I was expected, while they double checked that I wasn't the Mr Brown(e) who believes himself to be Princess Margaret's son. Light dawns in the Graniard article quoted above.

My own childhood was far more prosaic.

I was stolen by the gypsies. My parents stole me right back. Then the gypsies stole me again. This went on for some time. One minute I was in the caravan suckling the dark teat of my new mother, the next I sat at the long dining room table eating my breakfast with a silver spoon.

It was the first day of spring. One of my fathers was singing in the bathtub; the other one was painting a live sparrow the colors of a tropical bird.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Debt to Pleasure

Prodnose: The classic cookbook borrows features from the otherwise radically opposed genres of encyclopedia and confession. One the one hand the world categorized, diagnosed, defined, explained, alphabetized; on the other the self laid bare, all quirks and anecdotes and personal history. All contributions to the form belong on a continuum with Larousse Gastronomique at one end and at the other .......

Myself: At the other end ..... this! I made cinnamon lamb steaks with rice and kale for dinner last night. It was very nice. In other thrilling kitchen developments, the paddle on my Actifry has broken, and I have bough a ceramic knife as a present for Harry as I am going to his birthday party on Saturday.

Prodnose: Et dès que j’eus reconnu le goût du morceau de madeleine trempé dans le tilleul que me donnait ma tante (quoique je ne susse pas encore et dusse remettre à bien plus tard de découvrir pourquoi ce souvenir me rendait si heureux), aussitôt la vieille maison grise sur la rue, où était sa chambre, vint comme un décor de théâtre.

Myself: Même au point de vue des plus insignifiantes choses de la vie, nous ne sommes pas un tout matériellement constitué, identique pour tout le monde et dont chacun n'a qu'à aller prendre connaissance comme d'un cahier des charges ou d'un testament; notre personnalité sociale est une création de la pensée des autres.

Prodnose: Like in "I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here!"?

Myself: Yeah.

Monday, November 12, 2012


No post appeared here yesterday as I was out all day with the Bomber at a Rugby Festival in Guildford.

They won it, which came as a welcome fillip after Wales' loss to Argentina the day before, as follows:

Group Matches
Old Ruts 35-0 Camberley
Old Ruts 14-7 Dorking
Old Ruts 33-0 Guildfordians

Semi-Final as Group Winners
Old Ruts 19-0 Reeds

Old Ruts 21-0 Sutton & Epsom

He is off again today, for the school this time, playing in an U12 Surrey Schools Festival. There's a lot of it about.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Wales v Argentina this afternoon

Leigh Halfpenny 15 Juan Martin Hernandez
Alex Cuthbert 14 Gonzalo Camacho
Scott Williams 13 Gonzalo Tiesi
Jamie Roberts 12 Felipe Contepomi
George North 11 Juan Imhoff
Rhys Priestland 10 Nicolas Sanchez
Tavis Knoyle 9 Martin Landajo
Gethin Jenkins 1 Marcos Ayerza
Matthew Rees 2 Eusebio Guinazu
Aaron Jarvis 3 Juan Figallo
Alun-Wyn Jones 4 Manuel Carizza
Ian Evans 5 Julio Farias Cabello
Josh Turnbull 6 Leonardo Senatore
Sam Warburton 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamon
Toby Faletau 8 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe

Friday, November 09, 2012

I Gotsta Get Paid

Today I will mostly be preferring ZZ Top's blues-drenched take on the hip-hop of DJ DMD's 25 Lighters to the Stones' latest efforts.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

One More Shot

Gosh. Two new songs from the Rolling Stones in seven years. What a work ethic. This latest offering is  essentially a reskinning of AC/DC's "You rocked (shurely shook; shome mishtake here - ed me all night long".

Knock yourself out.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012


US election 2012: Obama re-elected as president
This is the first day of the 2016 US Presidential election campaign.

Hillary Clinton13/2
Mark Warner8/1
Tim Kaine10/1
Kathleen Sebelius12/1
Evan Bayh12/1
Martin O’Malley12/1
Andrew Cuomo15/1
Joe Biden18/1
Elizabeth Warren20/1
Dennis Kucinich20/1
Kay Hagan20/1
Jim Webb25/1
Brian Schweitzer25/1
Sherrod Brown30/1
Rahm Emmanuel30/1
Claire McCaskill30/1
Kirsten Gillibrand35/1
Bob Casey, Jr.35/1
Janet Napolitano40/1
Ken Salazar50/1
Amy Klobuchar50/1
John Tester50/1
Harold Ford, Jr.100/1
Bill Ritter100/1
Al Sharpton150/1
Jack Reed150/1
Al Gore200/1
Al Franken200/1
Michelle Obama500/1

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

F. E. Smith, 1st Earl of Birkenhead

Judge: I've listened to you for an hour and I'm none wiser.
Smith: None the wiser, perhaps, my lord but certainly better informed.
Judge: What do you suppose I am on the bench for?
Smith: It is not for me, Your Honour, to attempt to fathom the inscrutable workings of Providence.
Judge: You are extremely offensive, young man!
Smith: As a matter of fact we both are; and the only difference between us is that I am trying to be, and you can't help it.
The Nephilim were on the earth in those days.

Monday, November 05, 2012

nambawan pikinini no laikim tru Metro

I'm planning to get the Bomber a new laptop for Christmas.

It was going to be for his birthday, but held off waiting for Windows 8. We went looking at computers on Saturday. He is unimpressed with the new Metro interface, and bear in mind he has been using something not dissimilar on his XBOX for months now. It also took us a disturbing amount of time to figure out how to bring up the old desktop UI.

I'd worry about that if I was Microsoft.

I'm also intrigued by how seldom he picks up my iPAD and that the most important thing for him on a laptop is a big 17.3 inch screen for his games. Are the tablet wars passing the next generation by?

Thinking about it, I'll need to get the machine in weeks before the festivities because it is going to take a long, long time to update it with all his software. World of Warcraft alone will probably account for a weekend if we have to download it because I can't put my hands on the DVDs.

Speaking of WoW, Friday, Saturday and Sunday elapsed with us recovering his Battle Net account. What a palaver.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

At Play in the Fields of the Lord

Duke: You're gonna have to go through hell, worse than any nightmare you've ever dreamed. But when it's over, I know you'll be the one standing. You know what you have to do. Do it.
I just got a, not entirely unexpected email, telling me that the Bomber's rugby is cancelled this morning due to a waterlogged pitch. An ungenerous part of my soul doesn't mind; there is more than a hint of penance in standing on a touchline in the freezing pouring rain for the best part of two hours on a Sunday morning watching twelve year olds failing to secure the ball at the breakdown.

In related mortification-of-the-flesh developments, I did my treadmill interval training yesterday with the album "Rocky Balboa: The Best of Rocky" blasting through the headphones. It is a compilation of music from all six films inter-leavened with dialogue, and it really does make a difference when you have to hang in for fifteen more seconds running as fast as you can.

Sly Stallone is to me as Eckhart Tolle is to Oprah Winfrey. I'm not proud.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Is he housebroken or is he going to leave batteries all over the floor?

In a world where Nicole Scherzinger is dressed by Dr Strabismus ....

Don't tell me that love hurts. I read the book, I saw the film, I got the T-shirt.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Quest to crack secrets of lost D-Day pigeon

Sorry I am late on parade, I have been wrestling with a recalcitrant server.

How can w3wp.exe just disappear?

How indeed? But it is back now.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Behind the scenes at the British Sausage Week awards

The Sun newspaper has been ordered by a high court judge to reveal what it knows about the alleged theft of a mobile phone belonging to Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh, which was reportedly handed to the paper by a member of the public.
Myself: Gosh it is exciting to be back in the metropolitan maelstrom of Colliers Wood after a few sleepy days in Cardiff. Our local MP is in the Grauniard this morning. She lost her phone. Hold the front page!

Prodnose: There are eight million stories in the naked city.

Myself: Seven million nine hundred and ninety nine thousand nine hundred and ninety nine to go then.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

the old home town looks the same

Myself: Hang on a minute while I comb back my wig and glue on a a goatee that screams "Punch me!"

Prodnose: What now? What now for pity's sake?

Myself: Every journey ends, but we go on. The world turns and we turn with it. Plans disappear. Dreams take over.....

Prodnose: OK I get it, you're taking the Bomber back home to Wales for a chunk of half term. Enough with the Johnny Suede already!

Myself: But wherever I go, there you are — my luck, my fate, my fortune.

Prodnose (resigned): How can I miss you if you won't go away?

Myself: Cardiff. Inevitable.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

During the interval

I have been doing interval training once a week lately, in which I alternate a minute "sprinting" on the treadmill with walking while I recover.

Some idle mental arithmetic during the walk has revealed to me that my sprint is slower than the speed at which a quality marathon runner covers the whole twenty six miles.
Prodnose: You know, Stallion? It's too bad we gotta get old, huh?
Myself:: Ah, just keep punchin', Apollo... you want to ring the bell?
Prodnose: Alright... Ding Ding.

Friday, October 26, 2012


Thursday, 16 July, 1959: 7:45 P.M.
When S. returned this afternoon I asked her where she had been, and she said she had been in the street.
“Perhaps,” I said, “that explains why you look ‘rue’-ful.”
Her blank stare only reinforced for me the futility of existence.
Read more

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Neighbourhood of Voluntary Spies

I discovered that I didn't have my mobile with me when I got into work yesterday, but firing up the Find My iPhone app on the iPad made it a piece of cake to confirm I had just left it at home; panic averted.

It has made me wonder, however, about the Find My Friends app which, though I have never used it, is installed on all my iOS devices. "Set up automatic notifications — like when your husband leaves work, your kids arrive home, or your BFF is en route to the party" sounds more sinister than convenient.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

an in joke

What can I say? It made me laugh.

Monday, October 22, 2012

bear long

Myself (driving): How's it going?
The Bomber (slouched in passenger seat, arms folded, hood over eyes): OK.
Myself: How was school?
The Bomber: Fine.
Myself: How was the test?
The Bomber: Alright.
Myself: What did your teacher say?
The Bomber: Nothing.
Myself: Got any homework?
The Bomber: Did it in school.
Myself: Are you hungry?
The Bomber: Not really.
Myself: Did you win the rugby Monday?
The Bomber: Yeah.
Myself: Score any tries?
The Bomber: Yeah.
Myself: Oh good. It's always nice to get a thorough match report. (Suddenly thrilled): Hey listen the car indicator is clicking in time with the song on the radio!
The Bomber (shrugging then turning onto left shoulder): Awesome.
A strained silence ensues.
Myself: Did you know that testicle size is a common measure for the start of puberty?
The Bomber: You're talking a load of balls.
Laughter in court.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

on message

I received a message on the iPad the other day, and replied semi automatically. It didn't ever occur to me until a couple of hours later to wonder how on earth this had worked as there is no mobile phone functionality on an iPad.

I turns out that on iO6 there's an app called iMessages that sends texts over Wi-Fi rather than SMS to anyone with an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

I guess that Alex's mum was sending me a message from home so it went from her Wi-Fi to mine via the interwebs by default bypassing SMS altogether but blindsiding me.

All in all it is quite humbling never even to have heard of this when I mess about with devices for a living. I have no recollection whatsoever of setting it up for example.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Future that Works

"Austerity isn’t working" and the TUC has organised a protest march today in the centre of London. I will be there. Not from any great political commitment to be honest, but because my brother is coming up to town from Wales for it, and I don't get to see him as much as I should.

I have downloaded the event's iPhone app.
Get help in your pocket for marchers on October 20 with the TUC Live smartphone app. It has logistical information, maps and resources for those taking part on the day, as well as background on the case against austerity.
We’ll be using it to keep people up to date with the March and Rally for A Future That Works, and it’ll help you spread the word with friends to build the event and campaign.
I'm rather surprised and impressed they've got such a thing, but then again, on reflection, with push notifications and geolocation, it may be just the job. I'll run with it tomorrow and see if there is anything I can glean from it that could apply in our work.

How much press attention the march will get in Simon Cowell's Britain coming as it does the day after Girls Aloud have announced plans for their 10th anniversary reunion at a London press conference, remains to be seen.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Bizarro World

The Daily Mail, which I won't have in the house, launched a campaign three years ago to stop Gary McKinnon's extradition to the United States.

Theresa May, who has stumbled on her kitten heels from crisis to crisis as Home Secretary and is about to stumble into another as Police Authorities are abolished in favour of elected Police and Crime Commissioners, nonetheless summoned up the backbone earlier this week to stop the British computer hacker being sent for trial on the other side of the Altantic.

"I believe extradition decisions must not only be fair, they must be seen to be fair. And they must be made in open court where decisions can be challenged and explained," she said.

"Good for Theresa May and three cheers for the Daily Mail" is a phrase I thought I would never write. They have saved America from itself as much as they have saved Mr McKinnon.

I wonder how much I could have won if I placed a fiver accumulator bet on that and on Dane Bowers playing for Cwmbran Celtic FC?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Black Dynamite

'Elvis Was A Hero To Most' or 'Weekend At Presley's' AKA 'The S**t That Killed The King'

When the President's plan to destroy the Black community with illegal drugs backfires, Tricky Dick unleashes his latest weapon: Special DEA agent Elvis Aaron Presley! The bloated, pillpopping, not-quite-Karate posing, King of Rock n' Roll is charged with confiscating all the drugs in the community and destroying its "ill-gotten gains." But Black Dynamite ain't going to let it go down like that.

I was half watching some action movie on Channel 5 called "Blood and Bone" when I got in late on Monday, seeming to recall that the Bomber has told me it was OK. Idly googling Michael Jai White, the star, I came across Black Dynamite in both its movie and animated series incarnations. It is quite as silly and as entertaining a thing as I have seen in a long time.


I went to Wimbledon Studios last night to see a showing, introduced by Managing Director Piers Read, of "The Iron Lady"; the Studios' House of Commons set is used used frequently throughout the film. For some reason imagining MerylStreep crafting an Oscar winning performance in a former warehouse in a light industrial estate around the corner makes me smile.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fibonacci in the fields

I cooked Romanesco broccoli last night for the first time after it arrived in my Riverford veg box. It tastes fine but it is a funny looking thing with its recursive, fractal, self similar spiral structure. I wouldn't recommend spending too much time staring at it if you were under the influence of weapons grade narcotics. It made me quite nostalgic for the Mandelbrot set Seventies.

We won the quiz again last night, largely fueled by the £50 bar tab from last week's win. The evening's net expenditure for the five us coming in at £4.70.

Inspired by my Mandelbroccoli, I started to wonder, uncharitably, if a lot of the opposition may not count towards my five vegetables a day.

Monday, October 15, 2012

the man with the child in his sights

I hear him 
Before I go to sleep
And focus on the day
That's been.
I realize he's there
When I turn the light off
And turn over. 
Nobody knows about my man.
They think he's lost on some horizon.
And suddenly I find myself listening
To a man I've never known before,
Telling me about the sea,
And all his love to eternity. 
Ooh he's here again,
The man with the child in his eyes.
Ooh he's here again,
The man with the child in his eyes. 
Kate Bush's second single sounds quite sinister in the light of all this Jimmy Savile brouhaha, don't cha know.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

4 1/2 lines; 140 characters

Prodnose: .... our blushes, how sweet?

David St. Hubbins: It's such a fine line between stupid, and uh...
Nigel Tufnel: Clever.
David St. Hubbins: Yeah, and clever.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

kinky viae

A-wop bop-a loo-mop, a-lop bam-boom!
Tutti Frutti, all rooty!
Tutti Frutti, all rooty!
Tutti Frutti, all rooty!
A-wop bop-a loo-mop, a-lop bam-boom!
I got a girl with a notion of Arguing from Motion
Got a girl who never pauses, she Argues from Efficient Causes
She reasons with such stringency, she Argues from Contingency
Tutti Frutti, all rooty!
Tutti Frutti, all rooty!
Tutti Frutti, all rooty!
A-wop bop-a loo-mop, a-lop bam-boom!
There's a girl I've been seeing. who Argues from Gradation of Being
And there's a girl so fine, she Argues from Design
With her epistemology
She just don't know what she's doin' to me
Tutti Frutti, all rooty!
Tutti Frutti, all rooty!
Tutti Frutti, all rooty!
A-wop bop-a loo-mop, a-lop bam-boom!
Prodnose: I'm going to regret this, but what on earth are you on about now?

Myself: It's Aquinas' five arguments for the existence of God, re-imagined as a Little Richard vehicle.

Prodnose: I see. Of course it is. From the Summa Theologica.

Myself: I just bought 'The Best of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' and there's a song on it called 'Into Your Arms' that begins "I don't believe in an interventionist God".

Prodnose: I don't believe in an interventionist God! That sounds like a cue for a song. Altogether now, One, Two, Three, Four!

Myself: Exactly. As general rule, if you want to write an essay write an essay and if you want to write a song, write a song. But I was tempted by a Thomist take on pop music.

Prodnose: Well if you've quite finished and you've got it out of your system, the Stones are back.

Myself: Old, dumb and full of come. At least we can agree on that.

Friday, October 12, 2012

I am Reg Smeeton

Narrator: Reg Smeeton, floccose red wig like a kipper nailed to his bonce, nodded with ill-feigned interest; but the butterfly flexions of his face muscles argued the mental tumult within - urging fervid facts chattering in Stockhausen tongues.
Smeeton: Drawing from my vast, though admittedly unresolved catalogue of general know-it-all, facts of interest etcetera, corroborated, corroboree: a sacred or warlike assembly of aboriginals, may I.. remind you of the exploits of one William Barker of Manchester? In the 1890s, Billy cleared a canal thirty-five feet wide, making a running jump, jack-knifing into a second to land, perfectly dry, on the other side.
Seth: I could clear a snooker table, full-length mind, from a standing jump before 'operation. I could've made a mint, had I been a bit more shrewd.
Smeeton: Did you know that the elephant shrew never closes its eyes?
Narrator: Through the intestinal smoke of Seth's pipe, Smeeton's sweat-spangled face, eyes straining with mad intensity behind glasses the shape of Ford Cortinas, shuddered with the ungovernable maelstrom of information, inessential, infantry and endless, that constituted the grotesque furniture of his mind. Filing cabinets unlocked; thesauri fell agape; data danced in strict formation, quick, quick, quick-quick quick... puzzles fitted - it all added up: niggling, self-edited, tumbling with clicking impatience, cross-reference and erupting gathered beserk-fierce, heedless and torrential, howling for outlet from his springboard lips.
Prodnose: You want me to ask about the quiz don't you?

Myself: Quizzes this week mate. Quizzes.

Prodnose (monotone): How did it go?

Myself: We won at the Antelope on Monday, and we won at the William Morris on Wednesday; £50 and £30 bar tab prizes respectively. We were winning at the interval in Tuesday's Wimbledon Bookfest Literary Quiz, but then ....

Prodnose: ..then?

Myself: Do I have to spell it out in a non-pictographic consonantal alphabet, or abjad? We came third.

Prodnose: That's not too bad; bronze medal position.

Myself: (morosely):  "There are forces at work in this country about which we have no knowledge. Do you understand?"

Prodnose: The Queen to Paul Burrows?

Myself (brightening): Correct! So now there's everything to play for as we go into the next round .....

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Browne with two knees

I've been limping since I banged my knee against a table leg on Monday night, but much to my astonishment I could still do my half hour on the exercise bike on Tuesday and then, even more surprisingly, squats and other leg weight training yesterday.

Pondering this mystery, I have come to the conclusion that the knock I took is stopping me from straightening my leg out, but not impeding me at all with leg bends. When walking the leg straightens when the heel is planted. Standing or cycling, the knee is always at least slightly flexed. Hence, or otherwise, establish......

I'm on the mend now, but it is all very intriguing. I'm sure there are lessons to be learned but, for the moment, they elude me.