Thursday, January 31, 2013

Swastika over Cardiff

raising a swastika above the City Hall in Cardiff in 1938
The flag was hoisted along with those of Britain, France and Italy to celebrate the signing of the Munich Agreement which effectively carved up Czechoslovakia and appeased Hitler. This was done on the initiative of Cardiff's Lord Mayor, O Cuthbert Purnell. Not at all happy with the sight of the swastika fluttering over the Cardiff skyline, Alderman CH McCale and Councillor Heginbottom took it upon themselves to remove the Nazi banner. They then hid it. The Lord Mayor responded by ordering a replacement swastika to be run up the flag pole. At a heated council meeting the Mayor was asked why the Czech flag was not awarded a place of honour over the civic buildings. He replied that the Czechoslovakian flag was unavailable.
Lord Mayor Purnell would later offer a more detailed explanation of his actions: "I am making no apology for what I did last week. On the morning the news came through that war had been averted I ordered the flags of the four nations to be flown. This was a gesture of goodwill to the nations concerned. It had no political or religious significance. Cardiff is a port and has to maintain friendly relationship with all nations trading with us, and it was on that ground alone that I flew the flags. Were Cardiff not a great port the necessity would not have arisen." Six months later the Nazis marched into Czechoslovakia.
It is not often that I copy something wholesale, but this story from Babylon Wales is so extraordinary I had to share it. I warm particularly to the schoolboy defiance of Alderman CH McCale and Councillor Heginbottom displayed in pinching and hiding the Nazi symbol. Welsh Born Icons they shall be, unless someone busy body birther proves otherwise.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


A married black cab driver was jailed for 12 years (yesterday) for killing his mistress more than 17 years ago and disposing of her body so that it has never been found.
Kevin Doherty covered up the death of mother-of-two Jane Harrison by constructing a false alibi and even pretending to receive phone calls from her in front of witnesses.
Though the mills of God grind slowly;
Yet they grind exceeding small;
Though with patience he stands waiting,
With exactness grinds he all.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Kru Johnny

Watch Muay Thai Johnny Boon Training on World of Martial Arts

I see from Facebook that Johnny Boon is going to fight on a bill in Epsom on February 9. K1 rather than muay Thai and at lightweight. Lightweight will be a good few pounds less than the video above that's for sure.

I wonder how long it is since he's been in the ring or the cage in an actual bout. The Bomber started training with him in 2006 when he was five so it must be at least that long ago.

Anyway, I wish him all the best. It is a pity I can't go but I am already spoken for that weekend.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Underpromise and overdeliver

"Make sure you have got enough curry for half time."

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Bal Ham! Gateway to the South!

We enter Bal Ham through the verdant grasslands of Battersea Park, and at once we are aware that here is a land of happy, contented people who go about their daily tasks in truly democratic spirit.

This is busy High Street, focal point of the town's activities. Note the quaint old stores, whose frontages are covered with hand-painted inscriptions, every one a rare example of native Bal Ham art. Let us read some of them as our camera travels past.

"Cooking apples! Choice eaters!"
"A song to remember at the Tantamount Cinema!"
"A suit to remember at Montague Moss!"
"Cremations conducted with decorum and taste."
"Fight tonight. Bring your own paper."
"Rally Thursday, Berkeley Square. Viscountess Lewisham and Mrs Vera Legge. Up the ruling classes!"

This shows the manifold activities of Bal Ham's thriving community - but in quiet corners, we still find examples of the exquisite workmanship that Bal Ham craftsmen have made world-famous: tooth brush holesmanship.

"On my porch, I carve the little holes in the top of toothbrushes. It is exciting work and my forefathers have been engaged upon it since 1957. [Coughs] The little holes in the top are put in manually, or, in other words, once a year. I recently had the honour of demonstrating my craft before the Holy of Highs. He stopped by one day for a couple of words. I did not understand either of them."

So much for Bal Ham's industries. Now let us see a little more of the town. Here is the great park, covering nearly half an acre. This is where the children traditionally meet by the limpid waters of the old drinking fountain, a drinking fountain that has for countless years, across the vast aeons of time, give untold pleasure to man, woman and child. Beside this fountain, donated by Able Councillor Quills as long ago as 1928, the little ones sit around a trim nursemaid and listen spellbound and enchanted as she reads them a story.

"With one bound, he was by her side. Nora felt his hot breath on her cheek as he ripped the thin silk from--"

We are now entering Old Bal Ham. Time has passed by this remote corner; so shall we.

But Bal Ham is not neglecting the cultural side. This is Eugene Quills, whose weekly recitals are attended by a vast concord of people. He has never had a lesson in his life. Such is the enthusiasm of Bal Ham's music lovers that they are subscribing to a fund to send Eugene to Italy. Or Vienna. Or anywhere...

Night falls on Bal Ham.

From Quill's Folly, Bal Ham's famous beauty spot, which stands nearly ten feet above sea level, the town is spread below us in a fairyland of glittering lights, changing all the time: green... amber... red... red and amber... and back to green. The night life is awakening!

The Al Morocco Tea Rooms...
"Hey, miss?"
"Yes? What d'you want?"
"They're off, dear."
"Oh. Baked beans?"
"Oh. Meat --- meat loaf salad?"
"That's off, too."
"Pot of tea?"
"No tea, dear."
"Well, just milk then."
"Milk's off."
"Roll and butter, then?"
"No butter, dear."
"Well, just a roll!"
"Only bread, love."
"I might have just as well have stayed at home!"
"Oh, I dunno, does you good to have a fling occasionally!"

And so the long night draws on. The last stragglers make their way home and the lights go out one by one as dawn approaches and the bell of Saint Quills' Parish Church tolls ten o'clock. Bal Ham sleeps. And so we say farewell to this historic borough, with many pleasant memories -- and the words of C. Quills Smith, Bal Ham's own bard, burning in our ears...

Broad-bosomed, bold, becalmed, benign
Lies Bal Ham, four-square on the Northern Line.
Matched by no marvel save in Eastern scene
A rose-red city, half as Golders Green
By country churchyard, ferny fen and mere
What Quills mute inglorious lies buried here?
Oh stands the church clock at ten to three?
And is there honey still for tea?
"Honey's off, dear."

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Red Letter Day

Finally, all this time later, all our public facing systems are running in the cloud. We've got one physical server that we actually own co-located in a data centre, but come the end of the month and contract we'll pick that up and bring it back to the office. Perhaps we'll put it out to stud.

Friday, January 25, 2013

HEART: Nothing recorded

I'm off to the dentist in Slough later today. It seems like a bit of a trek I know, but I invested so much getting my teeth fixed in 2011/12 that it seems worth making the effort to see the person who did the work even though she has moved on from SW19.

I'm taking the Bomber with me as well, as its an INSET day and she has been his regular dentist as well.

He was referred to an orthodontist in 2011 who decided he needed five milk teeth out. When we went back in mid November last year the orthodontist in turn referred him to the hospital maxillofacial clinic.

We're still waiting for that appointment though. The orthodontist has sent three letters that the hospital claim haven't arrived: I ring both of them up every few weeks to check. This time I'm getting a copy of the letter myself which I will deliver personally if the hole in the space-time continuum swallows it up again.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

In the Depot

A Winter Maintenance message from Torfaen council featuring Darren 'Graceland' Jones.

Sometimes Welshness is its own reward: #gwentgrit.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ash on a Young Man's Sleeve

I thought the week couldn't get any weirder after illegal immigrants paying criminal gangs to smuggle them out of Britain, and Kerry council issuing drink and drive permits. I was wrong:
The BBC was forced to axe a storyline in Casualty about the dangers of smoking because of Wales's stringent anti-smoking laws.
BBC1's long-running hospital drama was planning a storyline in which a smoker inadvertently caused a fire in a hotel.
But Welsh law bans smoking in enclosed public places and in the workplace, which includes – unlike England – actors lighting up on set.
Clare Hudson, head of productions at BBC Wales, told the Welsh national assembly on Tuesday that the smoking ban could cost its economy up to £20m a year in lost work.
"We had one storyline in Casualty warning about the dangers of smoking and how it caused a fire in a hotel," said Hudson.
"But we could not go ahead with it because of the current legislation.
"And scenes in [the revamped] Upstairs, Downstairs were difficult to work around because we had to shoot them outside of Wales.
"Our drama in Wales has been growing very steadily over the past few years. We don't want to see that growth capped on the basis of the current legislation.
"Without the additional burden of this regulation we would become more successful. It would be part of a fantastic set of incentives to attract dramas here."

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Have you heard about the Kerryman ?

Councillors in south-west Ireland have backed a plan to relax the drink-drive limits for some isolated constituents.
The motion backed by Kerry county councillors would allow police to issue permits overriding the legal limit.
Councillor Danny Healy-Rae, who proposed the motion, said it would apply to "older people" who "are being isolated now at home, and a lot of them falling into depression".But Kerry Mayor Terry O'Brien said the motion did not "make any sense".
The motion was passed on Monday afternoon by five votes to three, with seven abstentions - though according to news website, 12 councillors were absent for the vote which took place "towards the end of a long meeting".
A number of the councillors who approved the measure are reportedly themselves pub owners - but Mr Healy-Rae denied that this had influenced the vote.
Impetuosity, impetuosity: a fine week for eccentric stories it is that we are having.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Include me out

Illegal immigrants are paying criminal gangs £1,500 a time to smuggle them out of Britain, it emerged last night.
The foreign nationals – many of whom sneaked into the UK undetected in the first place – are put in the back of lorries and transported to France.
By avoiding contact with the authorities they can travel on to a European destination of their choice, rather than risk being sent back to their homeland thousands of miles away.
A genuine Daily Mail article from a strange parallel universe. Perhaps someone paid a sub-editor to smuggle it in.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

an excellent employee, who wrote impeccable computer code and submitted it on time

A software developer employed by a US critical infrastructure company, and known only as “Bob”, was fired for outsourcing his duties to China so that he could spend the day surfing the internet.
The story comes from a case study by US telecommunications company Verizon, which was contacted by the man’s employer in May 2012 to help clear up an anomaly in its computer systems.
According to the case study, the offender is in his mid-forties, had worked for the company for some time, and was known as a quiet and inoffensive “family man”, who happened to have expertise in programming languages such as C, C++, Perl, Java, Ruby, PHP and Python. He was, the report suggests: “Someone you wouldn’t look at twice in an elevator. For the sake of the case study, let’s call him ‘Bob’.”
Two years before the case came to light, Bob’s firm had begun to allow its employees to work from home on certain days of the week, while connected to the company’s virtual private network. When its IT security team began monitoring the system in 2012, however, it discovered a perpetually open connection to the network from Shenyang, a major city in China.
Given the country’s reputation for cyber-espionage, and the company’s role in the “critical infrastructure” of the US, the team was understandably “greatly unnerved” by its discovery, not least because it seemed the connection to China had been open on and off for over six months.
The worker whose computer was making the suspicious connection – “Bob” – appeared to be at his desk, working hard. The company expected no less: performance reviews by its HR department revealed that he had been deemed an excellent employee, who wrote impeccable computer code and submitted it on time. “Quarter after quarter,” the case study claims, “his performance review noted him as the best developer in the building.”
The company feared Bob had fallen prey to Chinese malware, which could have been redirecting sensitive information from his desktop to China, and immediately contacted Verizon, its internet provider, for assistance. Verizon’s investigators sifted through the files in his computer, only to find hundreds of invoices from a Chinese consulting firm, based in Shenyang.
Bob, it quickly emerged, had paid the Chinese company less than 20 per cent of his six-figure salary to perform his duties on his behalf, and then spent the day coolly browsing the web. According to the report, which logged his daily computer habits, Bob began his mornings at 9am by flicking through Reddit, and would then “watch cat videos” before taking his lunchbreak at 11.30am. At 1pm he returned to his desk to surf eBay and update his Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. At 4.30pm he would send an email to his bosses, before leaving the office at 5pm.
When the ruse was uncovered, Bob was swiftly dismissed, yet it appears he was running a similar operation across several companies. He paid the Chinese firm approximately $50,000 per year, but took home a salary of several hundred thousand dollars.
We would have promoted him if he was working for us.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

"I don't think people understand," she says.

Deep in her house, Megan Fox and I are discussing human sacrifice. I tell her about an Aztec ritual practiced five hundred years ago in ancient Mexico during the feast of Toxcatl, when the Aztecs picked a perfect youth to live among them as a god. He was a paragon, beautiful and fit and healthy, with ideal proportions.
Fox has been telling me about the toll that celebrity has taken on her, how the only way to keep from bending to the outside is to bend within. She's sitting on a sectional sofa in workout clothes and a sweatshirt that hide her body, her knees folded beneath her.
The sacrifice's year was filled with constant delight, I tell her. He danced through the streets adorned in luxurious clothes given to him by the master, decked in flowers and incense, playing magical flutes that brought prosperity to the whole world. He had eight servants and four virgins to attend to his every need, and could wander wherever he pleased. But at the end of the year, when the feast of Toxcatl came around again, the perfect youth had to smash his flutes and climb the stairs of the great temple, where the priests would cut out his heart and offer it, still beating, to the sun.
Megan Fox is not an ancient Aztec. She's a screen saver on a teenage boy's laptop, a middle-aged lawyer's shower fantasy, a sexual prop used to sell movies and jeans.
"It's so similar. It totally is," she says quietly.
God give me strength. The "people who can't write interviewing people who can't talk for people who can't read" school of journalism is alive and well in Esquire. You can read the whole grisly car crash here if you're a glutton for punishment. I also can't help but observe in passing that our heroine's limbs seen to have been Photoshopped by someone with very curious ideas about human anatomy, possibly having never actually seen a flesh and blood woman.

Friday, January 18, 2013


There were no beefburgers in the chiller when I stopped off at Tesco on the way home last night.

I got the meatballs instead.

They were the dog's bollocks.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Page 3 girl Lacey Banghard evicted from Celebrity Big Brother

PAGE 3 stunner Lacey Banghard last night became the latest housemate to be evicted from Celebrity Big Brother.
Not even an appearance naked from the showers this week could save the glamour girl who had been the bookies' favourite to be third to leave - although she was cheered by the crowd as she emerged from the house.
Ah well. Them's the breaks I s'pose. At least I don't have to worry how to spend the £22 I would have trousered from the sweepstakes if she had won.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

truculent and bibulous

For several reasons, but essentially I imagine because I am a ponce, I went to the Constable, Gainsborough, Turner and the Making of Landscape exhibition at the Royal Academy on Saturday.

Constable, Gainsborough, Turner are all very well but I was delighted to discover that the real father of British landscape painting was a "bibulous and truculent Welshman." Is there any other kind?

After too long, we have another Welsh Born Icon: Richard Wilson RA (Penegoes, Montgomeryshire, 1714).

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The precautionary principle

As any fule kno, in a fall on an outstretched hand with the elbow extended and the forearm supinated, an injury can be caused as the resulting valgus force compresses the capitellum against the radial head.

This is the type of "radial neck" elbow injury the sawbones has diagnosed for the Bomber. It is not a fracture, but three or four weeks off rugby are prescribed.

He's going skiing in five weeks over half term with the school, so I think he ought to sit out the fray until he comes back from Austria.

Whether he heeds my advice remains to be seen.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Sling yer hook

I apologise for neglecting the blogosphere yesterday. I spent the afternoon in A&E with the Bomber who now has his arm in a sling.

For the record:
  • The First Aider at Guildford RFC thinks he is probably OK, but advised us to get it checked out.
  • Jonnie's mum - who is a physio - had a look at him and told us to get an x-ray as a precaution
  • The A&E doctor (Nicola) looked at the x-day and told us she is 90% sure it will be fine but booked us into the fracture clinic for 9:50 this morning with a specialist just to make sure.
All these fine people are correct and I am very grateful to them, even if it does turn out that all he needs to do is rest it.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

What happened to borshch?

Prodnose: What happens to the food that defines a world when that world vanishes? What happened, in particular, to the dish that was once the common denominator of the Soviet kitchen, the dish that tied together the peasant and the cosmonaut, the high table of the Kremlin and the meanest canteen in the boondocks of the Urals? What happened to the beetroot soup that pumped like a main artery through the kitchens of the east Slav lands? What happened to borshch?

Myself: I had some last night actually.

Prodnose: Any quest for the origin of a quintessentially Russian dish such as borshch must begin with Pokhlebkin's culinary masterwork, The Cuisine Of Our Peoples ("Our" meaning "Soviet"). Pokhlebkin immediately acquaints you with a crucial detail: borshch isn't Russian. It's Ukrainian. "One could understand and forgive foreigners for calling borshch a Russian national dish," Pokhlebkin writes, "but when it turns out that they gleaned the information from Soviet cookbooks or from restaurant menus, one is embarrassed."

Myself: There was beetroot I needed to use up in the veg box, sirloin was half price at Tesco, and Discovery brand soured cream topping is rarely absent from my larder. Fate played the straight man,  pots and pans were rattled, and hey presto! din dins. Thanks for the tip about it being Ukrainian though. That'll come in handy next time I need to make small talk with one of the Klitschko brothers, you friggin' halfwit..

Prodnose: Pokhlebkin and the Soviet Union are dead, yet Borshchland lives on. Recipes, like birds, ignore political boundaries. Just as the British empire still has a culinary pulse, beating in a curry in Scotland or in the mug of builder's tea with sugar and milk you are handed in some roadhouse on the Karakorum Highway; just as the Ottoman empire breathes phantom breaths in little cups of muddy coffee from Thessaloniki to Basra; so the faint outline of the Tsarist-Soviet imperium still glimmers in the collective steam off bowls of beetroot and cabbage in meat stock, and the soft sound of dollops of sour cream slipping into soup, from the Black Sea to the Sea of Japan and, in emigration, from Brooklyn to Berlin.

Myself: .... from Brooklyn to Berlin .... to Browne's. The SW19 branch to be precise.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Pet Hate

Shades of "Foulenough in the Fur Trade" from home.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Lauding Michu

We'd been holding out so long
We'd been waiting here alone
Two Mil Michu
I'd been hanging on the phone
I kept singing all along
Two Mil Michu

Oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh
Oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh
Two Mil Michu

Oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh
Oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh
Two Mil Michu

Well, Ive been haunted in my sleep
Youve been starring in my dreams
Two Mil Michu
Ive been waiting in the hall
Been waiting on your call
When the phone rings
Its just some friends of mine that say,
Hey, what's the matter man?
Were gonna come around at twelve
With some Oviedo girls that are just dyin to meet you.
Were gonna bring a case of wine
Hey, lets go mess and fool around
You know, like we used to.

One for the terraces the day after Swansea beat the European Champions two-nil

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

I got it bad, and that ain't good

My brother was listening to Abdullah Ibrahim while out running yesterday, and thus (action at a distance) I find myself listening to Sathima Bea Benjamin (Mrs Abdullah) this morning.

Specifically a lost date from 1963, finally put out in 1996 by Enja Records, under the title A Morning in Paris, as the session's engineer, Gerhard Lerner, had made a second copy, and finally purchased by me from iTunes in 2013.

The album features Benjamin performing with Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, and Abdullah performing piano on various tracks, with Johnny Gertze and Makhaya Ntshoko as bassist and drummer, respectively.

Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn! To lose one, Ms. Benjamin, may be regarded as a misfortune. To lose both looks like carelessness.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

What the fork?!

Eating too fast, and not chewing long enough leads to poor digestion and poor weight control.
The HAPIfork is an electronic fork that monitors your eating habits. The HAPIfork gives you precise information about your eating schedule. The HAPIfork alerts you with the help of indicator lights when you are eating too fast.
Every time you bring food from your plate to your mouth with your fork, this action is called:
a "fork serving".
The HAPIfork also measures:
• How long it took to eat your meal.
• The amount of “fork servings" taken per minute.
• Intervals between "fork servings".
This information is then uploaded via USB or Bluetooth to your Online Dashboard to track your progress.
The HAPIfork also comes with the HAPILABS app plus a coaching program to help you eat better and change your eating behavior.
It is fun to laugh at the Strabismus-grade madness of this but, dear me, we do live in a stupid and credulous age.

If it doesn't tun your stomach, there is always Dean Kamen. From the man who brought you the Segway comes AspireAssist: a pump that will “drain” your stomach through a valve inserted into the abdominal wall.

Monday, January 07, 2013

This Sort of Thing Is My Bag Baby

I've got Lacey Banghard in the Celebrity Big Brother Sweepstakes, and I couldn't think of a better summary of the weekend's adventures which explains why you haven't heard from me since Friday.

Prodnose: We are the sort of people our parents warned us against.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Spol Skecial Švejk

According to the Torygraph, it was 90 years ago yesterday that the bohemian writer Jaroslav Hašek, author of the comic masterpiece The Adventures Of The Good Soldier Švejk died.

I've revered the book since I was in University; an interlude that often seems about ninety years ago itself.

While I am on the subject, Professor Sir Cecil Parrott (crazy name, crazy guy!) wrote a fine biography of the truant, rebel, vagabond, anarchist, play-actor, practical joker, bohemian (and Bohemian), alcoholic, traitor to the Czech legion, Bolshevik and bigamist author in The Bad Bohemian: A Life of Jaroslav Hašek, Creator of the Good Soldier Švejk.

The story in that of Hašek's real but satirical political campaign with his "Party of Moderate Progress within the Bounds of the Law" is as funny as anything in his fiction.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

I like to watch

The Royal Prerogative endows the Monarchy with ""right to be consulted, the right to encourage, and the right to warn." A subtler constitutional expert than yours truly will have to judge how it applies to the remarkably Pooterish advice above from the Royal YouTube Channel: "Raking leaves in the garden."

For me, there seems to be more than a hint of Being There's Chauncey Gardiner about it.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

You say you want a resolution, well you know

Dear Universe,

I weighed thirteen stone and ten pounds this morning.

On my birthday in June I would like to weigh twelve stone dead.

Further, I would like to do this without cutting down on booze or food.

Can you fix it for me?

All the best,