Sunday, 27 February 2011

facing reality

Evvie clearly did not much care for reality; but then Sylvie wondered why when people insisted other people should face 'reality' they invariably meant something unpleasant. Either life was more dreadful than she herself had recognised, or there was such an innate pessimism in the human race that it clouded all vision. Perhaps most of the things that happened in the world were unbearable, but that didn't make the other things unreal.
- Alice Thomas Ellis, The Other Side of the Fire; Penguin 1986, p69

'we're the future - your future'

Found this, dated 8/12/03, in an old notebook of mine:

I used to think that the scariest thing about punk for the older generation shouldn't have been the idea of anarchy [or indeed 'antichrist'], or the alien and violent appearances, or the spitting and swearing, but the line in God Save The Queen, 'We're the future - your future!' If you think things are bad, are going to the dogs now, just think how the future will be when we're in charge, it said.

Today I had a revelation, and realised that of course the appropriate response of the older generation is to laugh and say, 'no, you don't understand: we're the future - your future!' You think you'll change the world, but you won't, you'll be changed, and you'll become like us, into people who the younger generation consider dull and old-fashioned. Laughter is a much more annoying and unsettling response than the desired one of anger and outrage.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

facebook stats in infographic form

Facebook stats in infographic form: Are we too obsessed with Facebook? One out of every 13 Earthlings and three out of four Americans is on Facebook, and one out of 26 signs into Facebook on a daily basis. We could rattle off stats like that until the cows come home, but instead, we’d like to show you this fascinating infographic from SocialHype and (Mashable, 12 January)

london maps: surnames, population change

PhD student James Cheshire on his Spatial Analysis blog creates or passes on interesting data-derived maps. Two recent maps of London interest:
- Mapping London's Surnames: interactive typographic maps showing the most popular surnames across London
- Mapping London’s Population Change 1801-2030
Here is a link to all his London-tagged entries.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

mortal engines

I finished Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve last night. I quite enjoyed it, but not enough to read on into the sequels. It's a book for older children, really, and has a very dark and bleak plot which could have been told much more darkly and adultly, so it's done quite well to be written successfully for children. Although I'm increasingly realising that childrens books and films are full of death, loss and bleakness, but that these wash over them unnoticed as they no doubt did me and all other normal children through the years.

Tonight I'll be finishing Ghost Stories of an Antiquary, M R James's first volume of ghost stories (1904). He's famous for his ghost stories, but I found them unremarkable, though perfectly well written. Perhaps - as I'm finding with the edition of Tales of Mystery and Imagination that I'm slowly wading through - they were striking at the time because they were the first of their kind. Again, I won't be troubling to read any more M R James. I'm only persisting with Edgar Allan Poe because there are so many well known stories in it and they're not too long individually. With the Poe stories often you get the sense that he's had an interesting idea or plot device and then gets that down, with the minimum of development; often there's barely a story there. The prose is very turgid and an effort to read, very unlike M R James.

Friday, 18 February 2011

champagne for my real friends

'Champagne for my real friends, and real pain for my sham friends' - according to the Radio Times film preview section, this line from 25th Hour is a quote from artist Francis Bacon.

why religion makes people happier (hint: not god)

Why Religion Makes People Happier (Hint: Not God)
Religious people are more satisfied with their lives than nonbelievers, but a new study finds it's not a relationship with God that makes the devout happy. Instead, the satisfaction boost may come from closer ties to earthly neighbors.
According to a study published today (Dec. 7) in the journal American Sociological Review, religious people gain life satisfaction thanks to social networks they build by attending religious services. The results apply to Catholics and mainline and evangelical Protestants. The number of Jews, Mormons, Muslims and people of other religions interviewed was too small to draw conclusions about those populations, according to study researcher Chaeyoon Lim, a sociologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
-, 6 December

spoof man city team photo used in programme

Rooney and Kaká join Manchester City – but that's not official
• Aris Thessaloniki embarrassed at spoof picture in programme
• Photograph based on Guardian gallery mock-up
- Guardian, 17 February

Thursday, 17 February 2011

oliver twist's workhouse discovered

It sparked a thousand childhood nightmares – now the original workhouse from Oliver Twist has been discovered. But a row has erupted over what to do with the building. Lorna Bradbury reports.
- Daily Telegraph, 20 January. This candidate is in Cleveland Street, in central London.

how we met: alison moyet & vince clarke

How We Met: Alison Moyet & Vince Clarke
- Independent, 8 June 2008.

Very interesting article. Fascinating how little they knew each other, or communicated during or after their career as Yazoo.

david armand's interpretative dances

This Word website thread is right, that the best thing on Fast and Loose is David Armand's interpretative dances, where he acts out the lyrics of a song. They are funny, although he relies a bit too much on crudity for the cheap laugh for my liking. Linking to the thread because it's got links to several of his clips on YouTube.

baby trashes bar in las palmas

Baby trashes bar in Las Palmas
- peculiar, slightly disturbing, short film on Youtube, via Word magazine email, a trailer for a short film it says.

the grimsby reaper

Which club has put the most final nails in managerial coffins? Plus: The latest ever league meeting; the singer/footballer stadium double; and the player-manager who sold himself.
- a particularly good issue of the Guardian Knowledge, 16 February.

- The answer to the first question is Grimsby Town.
- "Back in 1987-88 Luton enjoyed a season mirabilis, reaching both an FA Cup semi-final and, of course, the League Cup final not to forget a Simod Cup final and an appearance in the unforgettable Mercantile Credit Centenary Classic," writes Andy Collon. "As a result, something of a fixture backlog ensued resulting in the Town not playing Nottingham Forest until Friday 13 May, six days after the scheduled end of the season, in the days when such an event was allowed. The return fixture was played the following Sunday, 15 May, and, perhaps not surprisingly, both matches ended in 1-1 draws."
- "When in my student days I started attending Queen's Park games, we had a star winger named James Allan," wrote Matthew Reid last week. "I often wondered what happened to him, until he re-emerged as lead singer of Glasvegas. When they supported U2 at Hampden in August 2009, he notched up the rare feat of having performed at the same stadium both musically and footballistically"
- "The banter took an interesting turn in the pub when one of my mates claimed that a player-manager at Carlisle once placed himself on the transfer list, then sold himself to another club. Can this possibly be true?" (Yes.)

Monday, 14 February 2011

elephant news and discussion on or via se1 website

Oakmayne Plaza site to host archaeological dig (SE1 Forum, 16 January)

London’s newest urban landmark makes its debut in Asia: London’s newest urban landmark, Strata SE1 is making its debut in the Asian market with a series of invitation-only events in Singapore, Shanghai and Hong Kong. (Property Report, 13 January, via SE1 Forum)

Elephant & Castle subways closed as surface-level crossings open: The pedestrian subways at the junction of Elephant & Castle, Walworth Road and Newington Butts have closed as work on the creation of a new road layout continues. (SE1 News, 16 January)

Delancey acquires Oakmayne Plaza development site in Elephant and Castle (Property Week, 7 February, via SE1 Forum)

Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre could be here to stay: The Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre could be refurbished and extended despite a long-standing expectation that the building would be demolished as part of the regeneration of the area. (SE1 News, 8 February - and related SE1 Forum thread)

Saturday, 12 February 2011

facebook leaps into future as smartphones prepare to get smarter

Facebook leaps into future as smartphones prepare to get smarter: Technology firms are on the brink of innovations that will transform our personal and professional lives
- Guardian, 16 January

smallest squad used to win a league

"In 1982-83, Dundee United famously won the Scottish League for the first and only time, using a grand total of 14 players all season," noted Craig McLaughlin last week. "Is this the most efficient championship squad ever?"
First, the controversy. "A disputed claim. Jim McLean made the statement in a local paper after the league win at Dens Park but players from the time have disagreed," writes Garry Hamilton. "In his autobiography Ralph Milne claims as many as 20 players took part in the campaign and that McLean's comments left a 'bad taste in the mouth for many of us.'"
And a quick look in the 1983 Rothmans explodes the myth. The Terrors indeed used 20 players in the league that season – McAlpine (36 starts), Malpas (31+3sub), Stark (31+1), Gough (34 starts), Hegarty (36 starts), Narey (36 starts), Britton (7+3), Milne (30+4), Kirkwood (26+5), Sturrock (28 starts), Dodds (34+2), Bannon (31+1), Payne (2+1), Phillip (5 starts), Holt (18+7), Taylor (1+2), Reilly (8+8), Clark (1 start), McNeil (1 sub) and Murray (1 start). United's total was equalled that very same season by Portsmouth (who won the old Third Division using 20 players, nine of whom started 40 or more of the 46 games) and eclipsed by championship-winning Liverpool, who used just 16 – Grobbelaar, Neal, Kennedy, Thompson, Lawrenson, Whelan, Dalglish, Lee, Rush, Hodgson, Souness, Johnston, Nicol, McDermott, Hansen and Falirclough.
But that effort from the 1983 Reds is emphatically trumped by the Aston Villa side of two years earlier when Rimmer, Swain, Deacy, Williams, McNaught, Mortimer, Bremner, Shaw, Withe, Cowans, Morley, Gibson, Evans and Geddis were the 14 players used by Ron Saunders as his Aston Villa side marched to the title in 1980-81.
"For Villa, seven players were ever-present," writes Tony Davis. "Jimmy Rimmer in goal, Kenny Swain and Ken McNaught in defence, the whole of the midfield in Des Bremner, Dennis Mortimer and the incomparable Gordon Cowans and also Tony Morley on the left wing. Gary Shaw only missed two games all season and Alan Evans only missed three. Peter Withe might have played a few more than the 36 games he managed but for his penchant for talking his way into the referee's book." More on that great Villa side here. The 1980-81 season is full of nerdvana – the Second Division champions West Ham set the record for the most players in a PFA team of the season with eight, a record that still stands today (jointly with Manchester United in 2006-07).
Villa's effort equalled the record set by Liverpool in 1965-66, with Gerry Byrne, Tommy Lawrence, Ian Callaghan, Tommy Smith, Ron Yeats, Willie Stevenson, Ian St John, Chris Lawler, Peter Thompson, Roger Hunt, Gordon Milne, Geoff Strong, Alf Arrowsmith and Bobby Graham the only players used by Bill Shankly.
Stewart Taylor claims that "Chelsea only used 14 players in the 42 league game season in 1983-84 when we won the Second Division," but Rothmans reveals the total was a Dundee United-esque 20, while the Tottenham side of 1960-61 deserve a weighty nod in their direction having used 17 players in total on their way to a league and cup Double.
But, as Dirk Strothmann and Patrick Vent point out, for the "most efficient" title-winning side ever, we need to head, perhaps unsurprisingly, to Germany. In 1968-69, Bayern Munich used a remarkable 13 players on their way to the Bundesliga title – Sepp Maier (34 appearances), Dieter Brenninger (34), Franz Beckenbauer (33), Peter Kupferschmidt (22), Gustav Jung (4), Gerd Müller (30), Rainer Ohlhauser (34), Werner Olk (34), the brilliantly named Peter Pumm (34), Franz Roth (34), Gustl Starek (34), Helmut Schmidt (21) and Georg Schwarzenbeck (34). "Eight of the 13 players featured in every match," writes Dirk. "Five of them (Maier, Pumm, Schwarzenbeck, Brenninger, Ohlhauser) missed not a single minute. Additionally, only eight substitutions were used (even though two per match were already allowed by that time)."
- from the Guardian Knowledge, 19 January

the last season in which no top-flight manager lost their job

"When was the last season (if indeed there ever has been one) that all the clubs in the English top division finished the season with the same manager they had at the start?" wonders Tom Shaw.
The Knowledge turned to Twitter in search of an answer for this one, and after stirling work from @ChristopherHarv and @STV_Andy, shadowy and intimidating stats robot @OptaJoe's eyes started flashing, his cogs started whirring, and from within his metallic depths out chugged the answer – 1965-66. In each of the 45 seasons since, someone has lost their job in the top-flight.
Perhaps imbued with pre-World Cup bonhomie Blackburn stuck with "Jolly Jack" Marshall despite barrelling headlong towards relegation, ending bottom with the lowest points tally in 19 years (though he was sacked midway through the following season – "This post at Ewood Park has been likened more than once to what the Americans call a 'hot seat'," reported the Guardian at the time). Dave Bowen, who was also moonlighting as the Wales manager, survived at Blackburn's fellow relegatees Northampton.
Fulham, despite a relegation-threatened season, stuck with Vic Buckingham; Ian McColl, appointed during the summer of 1965, survived at Sunderland who finished 19th; Nottingham Forest stayed up by three points and kept faith with the softly-softly approach of Johnny Carey ("Some of their tackling, while never vicious, lacked the finesse and complete inoffensiveness of a team managed by Mr Carey," wrote the Guardian after a mid-season 1-1 draw at Manchester City. "Forest, like so many clubs, have had to adapt their style to meet modern requirements, although Mr Carey would never instruct his men to 'mix it'.") Above Blackburn nine teams ended the season separated by four points – perhaps this was a rare – and final? – example of clubs choosing the devils they knew.
The detente didn't last, however. Arsenal started the 1966-67 season with a new man in charge, Billy Wright having resigned in June.
- from the Guardian Knowledge, 26 January

Friday, 11 February 2011

studio multitracks

Studio Multitracks a fascinating site with tracks from recordings in isolation. More and more of these are coming into the public domain.

was the text of the nt ‘unstable’ and ‘evolving’?

Was the text of the NT ‘unstable’ and ‘evolving’?
- interesting blog post on Psephizo, link from Emlyn Williams' Facebook page, arising out of BBC4 documentary, which I've recorded but haven't watched yet, on the Codex Sinaiticus. Tackles the proposition in the title, made by the programme, with links.

jewellery thieves defeated surprisingly easily

Woman beats off jewellery shop robbers with handbag: A group of men attacking a jewellery shop with sledgehammers are tackled by a passerby armed only with a handbag
- Guardian, 7 February
When I first saw this video I thought it might be a fake, but obviously not.

two guardian articles on end of heygate estate

A pair of articles from the Guardian on the end of the Heygate Estate, both with degrees of rosetintedness about them:

Anger surrounds demise of 1970s housing estate: Residents of Elephant and Castle's Heygate complain they were 'picked off' to make way for £1.5bn regeneration scheme
- Guardian, 7 February

After the Heygate estate, a grey future awaits: The proposed demolition of the inner-city housing estate is a classic example of state-sponsored, de-greening gentrification
- Guardian, 8 February

biggest employers past and present

[Scientists] are hugely productive, both in what they teach to individuals and what they contribute to the intellectual and, provenly, the “real” economy.
You may find this laughable, but I think that the arts and the sciences in this country are not only our best bet for the future but our only bet. The biggest employers in this country before World War I were domestic service and the coal industry. Already the creative economy in this country (based on the arts) employs the sum of those two combined.
- from this week's In Our Time email from Melvyn Bragg

Monday, 7 February 2011

barack obama affirms his christianity

Barack Obama affirms his Christianity: US president told national prayer breakfast in Washington that he prays for the Middle East – and his 12-year-old, Malia
- Guardian, 3 February. Sad that he has to do this, that so many Republican nuts think he's a Muslim (and not born in the USA)

the lewis sunday

Western Isles' Sunday shutdown likely to fall foul of new equality law: Councillors in remote Scottish islands could be challenged over hardline religious policies banning work and play on sabbath
- Guardian, 31 January

stephen green not very nice

The ex-wife of Stephen Green (Christian Voice) doesn't speak very well of him at all:

In public he rails against immorality as the voice of Christian Britain but in private he is a wife beater, says his former partner
- Daily Mail, 28 January

- however true it is, I've never been keen on him myself.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

lulu and the lampshades + tristram + monument valley

On Wednesday I went to The Lexington on Pentonville Road to see Lulu and The Lampshades + Tristram + Monument Valley. As I've said before, as midlife crisis symptoms go, going to see three or more bands you've never or barely heard of for less than a tenner is less daft and more economical than most. This was £8, and no drink; northern line up to Angel, there in half an hour; finished bang on 11, I was home in the house at 11.30. The venue is a room above the pub; on Google Streetview it's not a pub at all, so relatively recently become, or returned to being, a pub. I had been looking in Time Out the night before for something to go out to and had picked it out, but on Wednesday I found out by finding the Lexington's Twitter account both that it was sold out and that they had some more tickets for it. I emailed without much hope of a reply to see if they still had any - this was after 6pm for an 8pm start - and they did, so I put my name down and went along, and it was no problem. It turned out to be the launch night for Lulu and the Lampshades' EP, and the start of a tour, which may have been why it was so busy.

I got there unfashionably early, of course, but didn't queue to get in straight away. There was a bar at the back, then steps down to the area in front of the stage. I was down the steps, just in front of the sound desk to start with, which gave me something to lean on, old man that I am; the bar area had that bit of height but I got the impression it would be a bit too far back and too busy. There were quite a few people sitting on the floor in the lower area for the first band (and an awful lot of chat from the back; still some chat during the second band), but when the second band came on they said they'd been told to tell people to stand so that people at the back could get down. As people started to move forward I thought I should too, as it was getting busy and I thought it would fill up and I'd lose my view, so I ended up just right of centre behind the two young women who'd been standing in front of me. Just at the end of the second band those two left from the front, so I ended up right at the front. I felt a little self-conscious, as I wasn't a full-on fan, and I'm not a very demonstrative gig-goer (I tend to stand quite still and look very serious as I watch and listen at concerts, so have to make a conscious effort to look like I'm enjoying it), but I toughed it out (although I was desperate not to catch the eye of any of Lulu and the Lampshades). A lot of the audience, as usual and as you'd expect, were young, and I had the impression a lot of them knew people in one or other of the bands, but I certainly wasn't an age outlier (there were some people noticeably older than me, who I suspect were relatives). All the bands were well-received.

The Lexington page said this of the three acts:
Lulu and the Lampshades: The Bristolian folk-pop band draw on a host of influences to produce joyful tunes that are passionately ramshackle, upbeat and folksy at times, mournful at others, percussive, and harmonic with shades of jazz, skiffle and bluegrass.
Tristram: They are four people playing seven (usually) instruments, and singing about a variety of subjects, including but not limited to: zombies, James Dean, assorted authors, love stories, love-going-wrong stories, ships, bicycles, astral travel and fruit. The effect is not as jocular as this description implies, but is never the less very agreeablee
Monument Valley: Formed whilst living aboard in Madrid last year, Monument Valley is the musical creation of London songwriter Edward Younger. With echoes of Nick Drake, Decembrists and an adolescence listening to the anti-folk and indie-pop of Moldy Peaches and Belle and Sebastian, the No Air EP introduces an exceptional talent and songwriter to the world, one with both huge originality and a lyrical talent to clearly mark him out from the off. Younger is joined live by Ridell’s cello and effects pedals whilst he plays guitar, and it's in the whites-of-eyes live arena where he really comes into his own.

I enjoyed the night, and the bands were all enjoyable, but I don't think I'd specially seek out any of them again.

Monument Valley (Myspace and Wordpress) a singer-songwriter guitarist with an accompanying cellist. Cello played well, and added to what would otherwise have been unremarkable fare. His voice was okay but not my cup of tea; nothing more subjective than whether or not you like someone's voice. I could give them my email and download their ep free, but I'm not going to.

Tristram (Myspace, Blogspot, Facebook, and here they are on a Guardian feature, New Band of the Day, which I've never heard of before) also had a cellist (who looked like Reese Witherspoon). 'More cello!' someone shouted at the end of the first song, and they were right; they told the soundman from the stage to turn it up. It was lost a bit, and sometimes you wondered why they had both a cello and a bass guitar (though the latter appeared more dispensable, and there were times when they were dong quite different things - cello has a greater range of notes and sounds of course). Drummer was confident and interesting without being showy, I thought. Main man singer and guitarist and I'd guess songwriter; I might have enjoyed the songs better hearing them without seeing them, as I found him a bit annoying. They were musically interesting but not much in the way of memorable tunes or lyrics (this in fact true of all three acts). Despite the description above, I couldn't have told you what any of the songs were about, and in fact have no memory of any words he sang.

Lulu and the Lampshades (Myspace, Facebook, Guardian New Band of the Day (he wasn't charmed)) I had heard of before, first of all by this very good YouTube video of the two main folk singing You're Going To Miss Me in a kitchen, now on over half a million views. They did this on the night (indeed, here it is on YouTube; here's another clip by the same person from the same night, I'm standing directly in front of the singer but you'll have to take my word for that), and it was the best thing they did. They seemed to be the least technically proficient of the three bands, which surprised me as I'd presume they've been performing for longer. They were very charming, but charm will only get you so far I think; I was a little disappointed, actually. Male drummer, female guitar/bassist (haven't seen the Laura Ashley Doc Martens combo for a long time - also sang some backing vocals and not for the first time it seemed that the third singer, who sang the least, was the best singer) female flautist for three or four songs, male trumpeter for one song. For the last three or four songs two ladies with lampshades on their heads came on stage and danced along.

I still have the faint remains of the inkstamp on the back of my left hand. It was a snail, I think. Inked hands, it's like discos from my schooldays.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

my parents lp collection

My Parents LP Collection - a nice little YouTube video embedded in a Word blog.

lloyd george's speeches

From Melvyn Bragg's In Our Time newsletter this week:
I remember reading that Lloyd George had said that if you wanted him to speak for an hour he could start right away; if you wanted him to speak for five minutes he would need a week to write the speech.

Friday, 4 February 2011

touch wood

Interesting article on superstition and Christianity by Melvyn Tinker in the January issue of Evangelicals Now. Christianity drives out superstition, and clears the ground for and embraces reason.

In passing, makes the interesting comment that 'hocus pocus' derives from the Latin words spoken when the priest indicates that the bread has become Christ's body in the mass. Straight Dope and Wikipedia say it's one of more possibilities; Bill Brohaugh (new to me) asserts it's plain wrong, without making a persuasive case.

This is a funny site: Let Me Google That For You.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

the chorus of 'I say a little prayer'

Listening to I Say A Little Prayer by Aretha Franklin today, it struck me that the chorus was being sung by the backing singers and Aretha was acting as the backing vocal, which is unusual. An interesting contrast with Respect, which has one of my favourite set of backing vocals throughout.

february ansible extracts

AS OTHERS SEE US. It's well known that Kazuo Ishiguro's clone-themed novel _Never Let Me Go_ (shortlisted for the 2006 Clarke Award) can't be sf, simply because the author is too respectable ever to write such stuff. Now comes the rigorous explanation which makes it all clear: 'It isn't science fiction -- indeed its procedures are the very reverse of generic, for there is no analogy at work in the text, which instead labours to produce its iterative naturalism as a kind of sub-set or derivation of our own.' (Rachel Cusk, _Guardian_, 29 January) Q.E.D.

AS OTHERS AVOID US. The BBC's forthcoming _Outcasts_ takes place on a far world colonized after Earth's nuclear holocaust: 'But don't call it sci-fi, which is pretty much a banned word on set,' warns the _Daily Mail_. Set designer James North of _Doctor Who_ explains: 'Sci-fi has its own dedicated TV channel, and the BBC doesn't want to give the impression it's putting out a sci-fi show on prime-time BBC1.' Unthinkable! 'This is futuristic drama with the focus on pioneering humans who, out of necessity, just happen to be living on a planet that isn't Earth. There are sci-fi elements to the drama. But in terms of the sets and the dressing, we've tried to make it as Earthbound as possible. So no sonic screwdrivers.' Admittedly the South African setting has 'such spectacular and unusual scenery you could almost believe you were on an alien planet.' But series creator Ben Richards nervously adds '... an alien planet without scary monsters. Little green men and fearsome creatures isn't what _Outcasts_ is about at all.' (all _Daily Mail_, 29 January) [JB]

private eye notes

This 'heat balls' story was in the Funny Old World section, 7 January. I'm a bit suspicious, but here's the intro para from a version of it from the NPR website:
Officials in the U.S. and Europe are phasing out incandescent light bulbs to save energy. Siegfried Rotthauser is working around the new rules by calling his bulbs "heat balls." His website describes the products as "small heating devices. " He says they just look like light bulbs and happen to fit in light sockets.

When Private Eye predicted difficulties in a $5bn, 20-year PFI contract to supply search and rescue helicopters to the RAF and UK coastguard (see Eye 1222), we reported that the 'preferred bidder' was a consortium called Soteria, named after the Greek god of safety because, we suggested, 'they didn't know the name of the Greek god of cock-ups'. Our concerns were duly realised....
- Private Eye, 7 January

21 January cartoon: 'Royal Wedding Dressmakers' shop, disappointed customer, dressmaker saying 'We regret to announce that due to industrial action your train has been cancelled'

radio times: justin webb, john humphrys

From Radio Times, 22 January:

My mother met Peter Woods when he and she were on the Daily Mirror. He was a star reporter and she was the newsroom secretary, bright and articulate and herself from a journalistic family: her father Leonard Crocombe was the first editor of Radio Times. Incredibly, when she told the Mirror that she was pregnant they sacked her. I have often thought of her going home on the bus after her last day, alone and without means of support. The bus was the number 11, which still goes from Fleet Street to Fulham. It's still full of peole with hopes and fears and problems, but not one of them has been sacked for being pregnant. To me that is what progress looks like.
- Justin Webb

I remember driving though the tribal trust lands of Rhodesia with a sub-machine-gun on my lap in case terrorists attacked, trying to spot the landmines concealed in the dirt roads. I claimed for the cost of the gun on my expenses and the BBC paid up. Nowadays they pay to send us on courses to learn how to cross the street safely.
- John Humphrys