Thursday, 29 September 2011

cartoon reading

Cartoon from Private Eye of 16 September: a set of signs on a fence: 'I heart Dale Farm', 'Respect our culture' and ''We're travellers and we're not going anywhere!'

lurking gherkin

Lurking Gherkin - interesting Twitter feed and website and blog devoted to photos of the Gherkin.

five unusual monuments of london

Five unusual monuments of London
- Gadlings AOL travel blog, 27 September

back of the net

Someone on Fighting Talk on R5 on Saturday made the excellent point that people are mistaken to talk about the ball hitting 'the back of the net' when a goal is scored. In fact it's hitting the front of the net. If it hit the back of the net it would have been a miss.

more home and away

Last week we looked at the sides with the biggest dichotomy between home and away form, and, as ever, the Knowledge inbox has been peppered with other examples.
"How can you forget the Leeds United side of 1992-93 when you talk about the difference between home and away form?" writes John Allen disapprovingly. "The reigning champions would have been a title-challenging third had only home games been included but a relegation-fodder bottom-of-the-pile 22nd if only away form had been taken into consideration – a pathetic played 21, drew seven, lost 14, won zero."
And from further afield: "Spartak Nalchik's 2001 team can beat Tottenham's 1964-65 team in terms of difference between home and away form," writes Liam Derry. "Then playing in Russia's First Division (the second tier) they managed home form of W16 D1 L0 and away form of W1 D3 L13. That is 49 points at home, and just six away in an 18 team league. At that ratio of points gained, in a 22-team league, like Spurs were playing in in 1964-65, Spartak would have had a difference in points gained between home and away of 53."
- Guardian Knowledge, 28 September

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

pocket camera

When I go out I always have my camera in my pocket to take photos. Turns out there's not much call for photos of the inside of my pocket.

Monday, 26 September 2011

god and the detectives

God and the Detectives. Religious mysteries: a perplexing case.
- a very long article on Christian religion and Christians in detective fiction in September/October issue of Books & Culture

review of the magic of reality

The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins: Material objections to the miracles of life
- review by Colin Tudge, Independent, 23 September. His review is scathing, most of the commenters are scathing of his review.

20 sites n years

20 Sites n Years: 20 South London sites photographed annually, in order, at the same time of day. Project commenced in 1973, and photos cover all years through to the present.
- a photographic art project by artist Tom Phillips, based in south-east London

Saturday, 24 September 2011

mrs beeton

Mrs Beeton died aged just 28, worn out by repeated miscarriages, over-work, and a husband who may have passed on syphilis to his wife and was never more than one step ahead of the bailiffs. ... Sadly Isabella didn't live long enough to see her book become a success. In February 1865 she died after giving birth to her fourth son. Her sudden death, though, left Sam with a marketing problem. 'Mrs Beeton' was becoming such a brand name that having to admit she was dead could seriously affect his most valuable piece of intellectual property. He decided to keep the news of Isabella's death quiet. From now on he, together with his married mistress Myra Browne, updated the text of the book while allowing readers to believe that Mrs Beeton was alive and busy in her kitchen. In time, editing duties were taken over by a team of anonymous domestic science writers.
- Kathryn Hughes in this week's Radio Times

kenya's first white president

It so happened that I was in Kenya at the time of Barack Obama's election as president I spoke to a member of the Luo tribe, from which Obama's father came, and asked if he was pleased that America should not only now have a black president, but one from his people. 'Very pleased of course,' came the reply, 'but you should consider that had Mr Obama been elected president of Kenya, he would have been our first *white* president.' Our confusion, inconsistency and insanity when it comes to labelling people as black when they are half or even three-quarters white, may one day, it is to be hoped, resolve itself into sense.
- Stephen Fry, this week's Radio Times

tooting common

Here's my all-time favourite subtitle caption. Quiz show question: 'What historic discovery was made by Howard Carter in Egypt?' Answer: 'Tooting Common.'
- a letter re TV subtitling in this week's Radio Times

can religion tell us more than science?

A Point of View: Can religion tell us more than science? Too many atheists miss the point of religion, it's about how we live and not what we believe, writes John Gray.
- BBC, 16 September

Friday, 23 September 2011

why Is there a harrier jump jet parked In south london?

Why Is There A Harrier Jump Jet Parked In South London?
- Londonist, 23 September. Refs also to tanks in Bermondsey and Limehouse.

top girls

We went to a revival of Top Girls at the Trafalgar Studios last month (transfer from Chichester - official production site here). It was okay, but a bit unconvincing I thought in the plotting (especially the family relationships), even setting aside the famous disconnected opening dinner party scene with powerful women through the ages attending (and some of the reviews remind me of how much talking over each other by characters there was in the first scene, which was hard work), and it was quite bitty I thought. It was only on the way out talking with Bethan that I realised that the final scene was actually set before the rest of the play, which hadn't been clear to me at all, and the reordering didn't add anything of weight to merit it. It was a famous play of the 80s, so it was interesting to see it, but I didn't really see that it merited such acclaim. The performances were fine.

Some reviews (mostly glowing). What's On Stage. Guardian (Chichester). Evening Standard. London Theatre. Telegraph (Chichester). Independent (Chichester). Independent (Trafalgar). Observer (Trafalgar). Theatre Thoughts blog. There Ought To Be Clowns blog. Time Out. Exeunt.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

contrasting home and away form

Q: "My team Sheffield Wednesday have won all of their home games and only one of their away games this season," notes Matthew Kelcher. "This made me wonder: what is the biggest dichotomy between home and away form over the course of a whole season? Has any team gone an entire season picking up points at home only?"
A: It depends how you define the dichotomy: is it percentage of points picked up at home or the difference between the number of points collected home and away? If it's the former, you simply need to find teams who went through the entire season without winning a single point away from home. Like Northwich Victoria in Division Two in 1893-94 and Doncaster in the same league in 1904-05. Although they collected 100% of their points at home and away, the difference between points collected at home, and away was not significant. Northwich managed only 12 points at home that season (this is working on a system of three points for a win, to allow comparison between different eras) and Doncaster just 11.
Instead we have to look to the 1960s. "Spurs in 1964-65 must be a contender," offers John Chapman. "Their home record was W18 D3 L0, the best in the First Division and, you'd think, the form of champions, while away they incredibly contrived W1 D4 L16: the worst away record. Even Wolves and Birmingham, who were relegated, did better away." Under a system of three points for a win, Spurs would have taken 57 points at home and seven away, a mighty difference of 50 points.
- Guardian Knowledge, 21 September

odone arrives late for outing

Odone Arrives Late For Outing
- Robin Ince blog, 22 September, prompted by Cristina Odone's response to Frank Skinner's Archbishop conversation.

Interesting article. Here's one para:
'If, as Odone seems to think, Christians are embarrassed to admit they are Christians, that is nothing to do with atheists. Milton Jones, one of the finest comedians working in this country as far as I’m concerned, is a Christian. I have had many interesting conversations with him on the subject and I don’t remember any coy, blushing moment where he wept in a dressing room as he revealed to me his secret shame. I don’t know of any comedian who behind Tim Vine’s back whispers with vitriol “those jokes are all well and good, but you know the idiot is one of them Abrahamics”.'

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: London's espionage locations

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: London's espionage locations. Following the release of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, we highlight 20 locations associated with the murky world of international espionage.
- Telegraph Travel picture gallery, September 2011

early agatha

I've decided to try to read the remaining Agathas on my list in general order of publication, when I have the choice, though not very strictly. I've recently read from the library The Man In The Brown Suit (1924, her fourth) and The Secret of Chimneys (1925, her sixth), and have just started The Seven Dials Mystery (1929, her eleventh), which turns out to follow on from Chimneys, set in the same house with some of the same characters. Dials is her last 20s novel, the only one of which I haven't read is Murder On The Links (1923, her third) - though there is a possibility I have read it, while conversely there is a possibility that I haven't read Poirot Investigates (1924, fifth), in both cases the possible/probable reading was very very long ago.

As I've probably said before, she has things which people don't give her credit for - well-written in general, a lot of humour and irony, verging on satirical in relation to conventions of society and detective fiction, frequent references to crime fiction which in more respected authors would be considered post-modern. More frequent themes than expected in the early novels are intrigue, espionage, international dimensions, several really at the 'thriller' end of the spectrum (for their time). Interesting the extent to which the colonies are the place for adventure and adventurers, for people who want to make something of themselves for good or ill, especially southern Africa - and for places where characters have disappeared to or appeared from.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

latest heygate filming

Brad Pitt’s Latest Film Opens its Doors to London’s Next Film-makers: Paramount Pictures, Film London and Southwark Council announced this week that World War Z, starring Academy Award®-nominee Brad Pitt and directed by Marc Forster (Quantum of Solace), will be filming in the London Borough of Southwark. The filming will take place later this month on the Heygate Estate, a large housing estate located in Southwark, South London.
- Film London, 16 September

heygate estate photo

A photo of the Heygate Estate taken from the E&C train platform.

fenerbahce only allowed to admit women and children

Fenerbahce only allowed to admit women and children: The Turkish football association has come up with a radical solution for tackling hooliganism - by banning men from stadiums.
- BBC, 21 September

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

facebook - 30 day song challenge days 21 to 30

30 day song challenge day 21: a song that you listen to when you're happy. One of the most extraordinary vocal performances ever committed to vinyl. If I'm feeling really happy, I'll join in. I heard Danny Baker wonder once why no football team used this for their running out music - terrifying the opposition, as good as a goal start, etc. Karl Denver (from Glasgow, real name Angus Murdo Mackenzie!), Wimoweh.
- Iain: The channel of the person who uploaded this to Youtube, Florencom in Spain, seems entirely devoted to versions of this song. 217 videos uploaded. Extraordinary.
- Ali L: Camera hatchitt and thank you Iain. I have just done mad bank holiday kitchen dancing to this fantastic song :-) (quite out of breath now)

30 day song challenge day 22: a song that you listen to when you're sad. In truth, these days I'd most likely listen to something like Wimoweh, to cheer me up. But I'll offer up the kind of thing I'd have listened to while wallowing in teenage or student self-pity. Cat Stevens, How Can I Tell You?

30 day song challenge day 23: a song that you want to play at your wedding. Not in real life, but if my life was a romantic comedy this is what would have been on the soundtrack as the bride walked down the aisle. Joe Jackson, Is She Really Going Out With Him?

30 day song challenge day 24: a song that you want to play at your funeral. Again, not in real life. Perhaps more suited to the deathbed scene than the funeral scene. King Creosote, My Favourite Girl.
- Alistair D: As you to day 24 your thoughts are turning to funeral music. I'll follow with interest where you go beyond your funeral. What an awesome playlist you've made! Thank you.
- Iain: I don't know who came up with the 'challenge', but day 25 lightens the mood.

30 day song challenge day 25: a song that makes you laugh. Weird Al Yankovic, Bob.

30 day song challenge day 26: a song that you can play on an instrument. It's no great claim: can't everyone? But what a song. Undertones, Teenage Kicks.
- Douglas: It all seems like a very long time ago. Which of course it was. The word 'bra' springs unbidden to mind, with all its associations but there we are.
- Iain: Teenage Kicks was released in 1978 - 33 years ago. When Teenage Kicks was released, '33 years ago' was 1945...

30 day song challenge day 27: a song that you wish you could play. The bass on this. Achieved, I now discover, by using a drumstick on the strings. Of course first I'd have to buy a bass and learn to play the bass. Sigur Ros, Hafsol.

30 day song challenge day 28: a song that makes you feel guilty. Representing all Gaelic songs I'd like to sing which make me feel guilty that I am a monoglot. Runrig (since Cathie Ann MacPhee's not on YouTube), Cearcall a' Chuain
- Douglas: Splendid, splendid song.

30 day song challenge day 29: a song from your childhood. I don't think it's a false memory that I remember this winning Eurovision when I was not quite seven, and talking about it in school afterwards. Greatest Hits Vol 1 came out when I was eight and was certainly one of the first cassettes I owned. My appreciation of them has endured, kitsch-free and irony-free. Abba, Waterloo

30 day song challenge day 30: your favourite song this time last year. Which I'll take as favourite song new to me then. Saw this band from India last May in a small venue, on a bill of five. Tremendous. Bought the album. Since disbanded. Main man now studying in Glasgow. Hope to hear of him again. The Supersonics, In Memory Of.
- Fiona G: Enjoyed following your songs over the 30 days - many made me wonder what I'd have picked. Agreed with you about the Gaelic one - what happened, linguistically, to our generation? and now I'm thinking about the Who, oh dear.
- Iain: Younger people than me at home have perfect gaelic, including my brother. For myself I blame early aptitude for English, lack of aptitude for other languages, and shyness which meant I didn't want to say anything and get it wrong but also just didn't want to say anything at all.
- Fiona G: Learning a 2nd language is a great wayfor a shy person to "try on" a more expansive personality, cos in the early-ish stages you have to be more theatrical to get across what you're stumblingly trying to say. Gaelic isn't an easy language if you come at it as a non-native - fairly complex grammar, full of exceptions to rules, and . But I still find it sad that I could have animated conversations with someone in ... Oberfichtenwald or wherever, but be unable to speak to my Grannies in their native language. Bah - enough of this - day 31? "Non, je ne regrette rien!"

frank skinner and his neighbour the archbishop

Archbishop Rowan and Frank Skinner in conversation: The Archbishop of Canterbury met comedian, writer and broadcaster Frank Skinner "In Conversation" at Canterbury Cathedral on Friday evening.
- Archbishop of Canterbury's site, 16 September

Subversive believers will have the last laugh: Frank Skinner is in good company with his attack on the atheist establishment.
- Daily Telegraph, 19 September

Atheists are as big a threat as climate change deniers: As the comedian said to the Archbishop...
- Chortle, 17 September

The Frank and Rowan Show
- Simon Jenkins blog, 19 September

Frank Skinner lives across in the block of flats across the road from Lambeth Palace.

marcus brigstocke in church times

Comic with a restless heart: Marcus Brigstocke turned his search for God first into a stand-up routine, and then into a book. Simon Jenkins asks about his quest
- Church Times, 9 September

Monday, 19 September 2011

online gamers crack aids enzyme puzzle

Online gamers crack AIDS enzyme puzzle: Online gamers have achieved a feat beyond the realm of Second Life or Dungeons and Dragons: they have deciphered the structure of an enzyme of an AIDS-like virus that had thwarted scientists for a decade.
- SMH, 19 September. (The gaming site used is Fold-it.)

why I'm proud to be a christian and a socialist

Why I'm proud to be a Christian and a socialist: The vilification of traditional religious beliefs is a besetting evil of modern life
- Observer, 18 September. As ever, resist the temptation to read the comments.

photos from tour of the shard

A Flickr set of photos taken on a tour of the Shard, including some from the (current) top. Most striking photo perhaps the one of the broad highway created by the railway lines out of London Bridge.

Friday, 16 September 2011

john urquhart article

Interesting interview-based article in this week's Free Press about John Urquhart, C of S minister most recently associate minister in Sleat & Strath and now establishing an 'emerging church' in the Sabhal Mor Ostaig - sounds like a chaplain, essentially, from the article. Sounds an interesting venture.

No links to the WHFP article, unfortunately, and not much else online, apart from a short interview on the Sleat & Strath CofS website, which is out of date but may stick around there.

We were on the same year in the upper years in the Nicolson, though we didn't really know each other, and neither of us were Christians then.

eddie mair line

I won't mention names because the lawyers have asked me not to. But if you take all the capital letters from the beginning of each sentence in this column and re-arrange them, you'll have wasted your time because really the lawyers were very insistent.
- from Eddie Mair's Radio Times column, 3 September

spurs - rich club, poor ward

Tottenham is an area of considerable social deprivation. Tottenham Hotspur, regularly in the world's top 15 clubs in terms of annual income, falls within a ward that is among the five per cent most deprived in England, while in Tottenham as a whole 80.3 per cent of children live in low-income homes.
- from post-riot article on Spurs by Alan Fisher in October issue of When Saturday Comes

changing the football team you support

Morality is nomadic, we know this from history. The Ancient Greeks believed it was perfectly acceptable for a man to love a boy - and I mean any boy - whereas trousering stray apples was punishable by death. In the West it was only in the last decade that fidgeting was legalised in infant schools. Yet there remain some last taboos that prevail across most cultures: murder, incest and changing the football team you support.
Most of us have selected our team for life by the age of five - an age when we can spend the best part of an hour smacking a mud hill with the back of a spade while conspicuously wearing safety pants. Would we choose our career, our political affiliation, our life partner at this age? The answer must be a resounding no - otherwise there would be a surfeit in society of apolitical train drivers holed up with a jingly panda. So surely there should come a point later in our lives when we might legitimately, and without censure, make a more informed choice about which club we would like to follow and, as a consequence, switch allegiance.
Just as we are permitted to vote for one of three Conservative parties upon turning 18, so we should have the opportunity to fix upon our football team at that age. I chose to support Arsenal when I was five, probably because they won the Double that year but also because I liked the kit and Charlie George looked like every single one of my older brother's friends.
- start of an article by Cameron Carter, When Saturday Comes, September 2011

Thursday, 15 September 2011

facebook - 30 day song challenge days 11 to 20

30 day song challenge day 11: a song from your favourite band. If push comes to shove, I would usually say this is my favourite of theirs (although, ironically, only one of them is on it). Push rarely comes to shove, however. The Beatles, Within You Without You.

30 day song challenge day 12: a song from a band you hate. Since I don't want to post another song I don't actually like, here's a song I think is tremendous by a band I really don't. What Presence?!, by Orange Juice.

30 day song challenge day 13: a song that's a guilty pleasure. I am without guilt or shame about any of the awful musical nonsense I like. But to take guilty pleasure as meaning something I rather like which has become a byword for awfulness throughout the civilised world, then, ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present Paul McCartney and the Frog Chorus, We All Stand Together.

30 day song challenge day 14: a song no one would expect you to love. Given the range of preposterous things I like, I don't think I could surprise anyone. But this is another song I like a lot by a band I generally don't, and a song which some other Christians have taken against. Only if they know the title but not the lyrics, surely. Rolling Stones, Sympathy For The Devil.

30 day song challenge day 15: a song that describes you. I should pick something spiritual. But this is what I'm really like. I Want To Live In A Dream, by Clearlake.

30 day song challenge day 16: a song you used to like but now don't. When I first heard this I thought it was from the 60s, then that it was a band ploughing a devoted retro furrow. Then I learned that the singer and sound was put together by the producer. But what makes it unlistenable now is that it became apparent how autobiographical the lyrics were. Amy Winehouse, Rehab.
- Iain: The real band ploughing the devoted retro furrow are Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, from whom the sound was drawn.
- Donalda: Very true....and if I ever have to endure 'Valerie' again.....well I won't be held responsible for my actions.

30 day song challenge day 17: a song you hear often on the radio. When all the music I owned was a pile of eight or ten cassettes, one of them was Out Of The Blue, which is still one of my favourite albums. Unimaginative DJs play this song whenever the sun comes out. Fine by me. ELO, Mr Blue Sky.

30 day song challenge day 18: a song you wish you heard on the radio. I first heard Desolation Row (11:17, according to my iTunes) when Dave Lee Travis played it on the radio, so I'll always remember him fondly for that, but I've never heard this first-take masterpiece - perhaps it's those extra four seconds (11:21 on my iTunes). Another one I have been known to play on repeat. Fairport Convention, A Sailor's Life.

30 day song challenge day 19: a song from your favourite album. It's striking to think that an album containing this track regularly appears near the top of 'best album ever' lists. The Beatles White Album: something for everyone. Plus Revolution No 9.
- Iain: It is by no means my least favourite Beatles song, which would probably be one of their rock and roll covers. It is at least interesting and inventive.

30 day song challenge day 20: a song you listen to when you're angry. Mike Oldfield, Hergest Ridge. Very calming.

view from one new change

Lesser known London viewpoints: the dramatic view from One New Change, St Pauls
- Urban75 blog item, 1 September

nadine dorries bill links

Nadine Dorries and why her abortion proposals failed: The Conservative MP for Mid-Bedfordshire should never have pushed her amendment to decouple counselling from abortion to a vote
- Christian Today, 8 September

Nadine Dorries's abortion bill has exposed our squishy utilitarianism: Abortion is defended on the basis it diminishes suffering, but the greatest good is served by adopting unwanted babies
- Guardian, 4 September

Abortion reform: a modest proposal gone awry: A modest proposal by MP Nadine Dorries to offer independent advice to women seeking an abortion has led to angry protests, death threats – and the stifling of a once-in-a-generation debate. How did it come to this?
- Daily Telegraph, 3 September

two interesting 9/11 posts

Tim Keller's address from 5th anniversary memorial service for families and friends.

Alastair Campbell's blog entry on the tenth anniversary containing his diary entry for the day itself.

a quest for agreement over collective nouns

A quest for agreement over collective nouns
- Oxford Words blog, 5 September

jimmy carter interview

Jimmy Carter: 'We never dropped a bomb. We never fired a bullet. We never went to war'. He may live a modest life in a one-horse town, but Jimmy Carter, now 86, retains his global vision. And 30 years after leaving the White House, the peanut farmer turned president is still a man on mission. In Plains, Georgia, we found the 39th US president full of energy… and determined to make a difference
- Observer, 11 September

roman discovery on borough high street

Major Roman Discover South Of River Thames Found at Borough High Street
Almost 2,000 years of history has been unearthed by Network Rail engineers following the discovery of Roman bath house ruins on land being re-developed as part of the £5.5bn congestion-busting Thameslink programme. The ruins, which are believed to be one of the biggest Roman find in London on the south side of the River Thames, have been uncovered on the corner of London Bridge Street and Borough High Street. The site has been earmarked for the construction of a new office block.
- Network Rail press release, 15 September

Here's the London SE1 version, and here's the OnOffice account of an earlier discovery in the area this year.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

facebook - 30 day song challenge days 1 to 10

I did the 30 Day Song Challenge from March to May, a Facebook meme. It was a random but interesting set of questions, things which gave rise to stories, memories and reflections, rather than just 'thirty best'. Some others who did it changed some of the questions, which seemed a bit pointless, and other similar lists were rattling about, but one was enough. You linked to a Youtube clip for each selection, and it's amazing how much stuff is on there (with stills if not video).

31 March: I think I will follow in some of my Facebook friends' footsteps and try the 30 Day Song Challenge. This may be the only entry with a link to the Challenge page, however. Usual disclaimers re the song choices just being as at just now, and that two months from now in either direction they might all be different.
- Michelle: I just saw Simply Red's 'Holiding Back the Years' listed ... I just don't think I'm strong enough to take the challenge.
- Iain: I think if enough of your Friends are doing it you start to think about what your answers would be and then it's hard to resist. (I don't expect to manage thirty consecutive days, however.)

30 day song challenge day 1: favourite song. TOTP clip without full song intro but with Peter Powell intro, sadly. The Passions - I'm in love with a German film star.
'Favourite' chosen largely with the thought of something I could happily put on repeat for an extended period of time (which I have done with this). Second choice also a one-hit wonder, funnily enough - Come Softly To Me, by The Fleetwoods.
- Douglas: I don't think I have ever heard that before.
- Iain: I'm surprised, but I do tend to assume that if I know something then everybody knows it, so I'm constantly being surprised.

30 day song challenge day 2: least favourite song. Version, really: I think the original is very good. Band Aid 20: Do They Know It's Christmas?
It's the lack of imagination and ambition that I take against; it's better than the Band Aid 2 version at least. But they could have taken other approaches, say getting every artist involved to record a full version and then sell a whole album or set of downloads rather than just one, and every version would have been better than what they released.
- Douglas: Controversial
- Iain: Hmm, suspect not. There are probably plenty who don't even like the original.

30 day song challenge day 3: a song that makes you happy. David Bowie, Fill Your Heart.
Almost every line is demonstrably false, but it's joyful nonsense, and it's good to embrace your inner hippy from time to time. Aw, happiness is happening!

30 day song challenge day 4: a song that makes you sad. Tim Hart & Maddy Prior, Dancing At Whitsun.
I know no end of sad songs about the first world war, and amn't sure why I find this one so affecting in particular, but I do.
- Ali: For me it is 'And the band played Waltzing Matilda...' So corny, so moving. Plenty of others there too. I may have to follow you in this challenge.

30 day song challenge day 5: a song that reminds you of someone. My father. The Avons, Seven Little Girls.
I only heard this recording on a compilation I got a couple of years ago, but I recognised it straight away because my father used to sing bits of it around the house. I have inherited his practice of singing apparently random lines from various songs around the house.

30 day song challenge day 6: a song that reminds you of somewhere. Aberdeen in the snow. Dvorak Symphony No 9.
Coming out of Marischal College into the quad after hearing this - possibly my first classical concert - to find it snowing. First time I listened to it, on tape in halls of residence, it was also snowing.

30 day song challenge day 7: a song that reminds you of a certain event. 18 March 1992. We went to see Toto the Hero (in which this song featured). Afterwards I asked her out. She said yes. A year and two days later, she said 'I do'. Charles Trenet, Boum.
- Sheena S: What a great story!
- Fiona G: and the lyrics are so right for your particular memory! [Although of course, unlike Fiona, I had no idea what the lyrics meant in detail, only in general]

30 day song challenge day 8: a song you know all the words of. They Might Be Giants, Alphabet of Nations.

30 day song challenge day 9: a song you can dance to. I don't say can, or should, but do, in the privacy of my own home. How can you not? Michael Jackson, Wanna Be Starting Something.
As Horatio says at the end of Hamlet, 'What is it ye would see? If aught of woe or wonder, cease your search.'

30 day song challenge day 10: a song that makes you fall asleep. No song makes me fall asleep, but I associate this music with bedtime (or should-be-in-bed-time). The Shipping Forecast music, Roger Binge's Sailing By.

facebook notes - march

26 March: In the last 24 hours I have seen a version of Hamlet from India (experimental, clown-based) at Hackney Empire, taken cherub to Comedy Club 4 Kids at Soho Theatre, and been inside BHS Oxford St while 'protesters' tried to break their way in. How middle class. Now at home watching Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith.
- Chris MacK: Was it the reasonably-priced bed linen or the extensive range of Simpsons novelty socks that so angered the 'protesters'.
- Iain: I think perhaps they misunderstood the 'anti-cuts' nature of the demo and were enraged by the '70% off' sale signs.
- Iain: ?250-500k march and rally in Hyde Park against public spending cuts. Some hundreds/thousands with a different approach/agenda in Piccadilly/Oxford St area.
- Douglas: Its all go in the Capital. Being trapped inside the shop can't have been nice. Although I suspect those outside rather enjoyed it.
- Iain: They were enjoying it I'm sure. I'd have happily stayed to get some more interesting photos than the few I managed to take, but cherub was getting scared, so we went out the other end of the shop.

30 March: Pitched second song [Where Two Hawkes Fly] at folk club [Sharp's] last night so high that only bats could hear top notes. People kindhearted as ever, bats oddly unappreciative.
- Donalda: I wondered why all the creatures of the night were restless What did you squeak?
- Iain: Where Two Hawks Fly. Ill-advised in that I suspect Ronnie Browne (Corries ahoy!) wrote it to show off his range. It worked fine in the kitchen... Knocks the confidence, but I've botched up as badly in the past and got back on the horse. Not sure why they make us sit on the horse to sing, but there you are.
- Douglas: Lovely song.
- Iain: Isn't it, though? Sadly, as they say, 'I made it my own.'

Monday, 12 September 2011

facebook notes from january

8 January: We bought a wireless colour printer/copier/scanner for £49 today, which included a set of ink cartridges. A replacement set of ink cartridges costs £39. Essentially we bought ink, with a very good printer thrown in for a tenner. The printer companies' profits are all in the subsequent consumables.
- Douglas said, 'Wasn't a Lexmark was it? We got suckered that way. Crazy prices and a very dodgy business model. Years ago I worked on a project where we put a very small micro in the cartridge so that if you kept the ink too long It would just tell the printer that it was empty. Even though it plainly wasn't.'

Saw this photo on Chris's Facebook page of me and Alex, which Chris captioned 'The Meninblack' and to which I could only say 'Oh my'.

14 January: This week Iain went to the monthly Sacred Harp singing session in Willesden for the second time. Stirring stuff.

24 January: Two funerals of former and much-loved stalwarts of our congregation this week, Henrietta Macleod's tomorrow (Tuesday), and John Titcombe's on Thursday.
- Arnoud: 'They were stalwarts indeed, and they did not do it for their own honour either.'
- Sheena S: 'I'm so sorry to hear about both of those, I had heard about Mr T, but didn't know about Henrietta.'
- John I: 'Yes, really sorry to hear that too. Henrietta left me literally speechless by saying hello to me in Gaelic the first time I met her. When I looked like a rabbit caught in the headlights she smiled, put her hand on my arm and told me she was "only asking if I had the Gaelic". I think I can also remember having lunch at her house an various guests having a mid-afternoon nap. She was absolutely lovely.'
- Carol Macarthur: 'That's the end of an era- I remember having lunch @ Henrietta's with other Leodhsachs and feeling like it was a home from home! .... Sad news :-( '
- Iain Maclean: 'Yes i to remember Henrietta sorry to hear she died'
- John Ross: 'Iain thanks for posting this, I hadn't heard the news. Both John and Henrietta were quite remarkable people. Tremendous supporters of the old Cole Abbey, especially of John Nicholls' ministry there. Both were rock solid Christians, marvellously eccentric and very kind.
'Henrietta used to carry the groceries to her top floor flat in Paddington over the shoulder like a Lewis crofter with a sack of peats. And what hospitality she offered there, especially when Kitty was still with us! No stranger to Cole Abbey ever went without lunch if she had noticed them.
'John was one of those laymen who are better read and more able to discuss theology than many a minister. He had a sharp ear for good preaching and a good nose for heresy. Wonderfully supportive if he liked the preacher but quite devastating if he didn't.
'The church on earth is the poorer for their passing; the church above more glorious.'
- Laura H: 'Alastair and I were reminiscing about both of these amazing people who meant so much to us whilst we were at Cole Abbey. Alastair is also distantly related to Mr T. We have got books both of them gave us, which we treasure. Henrietta 's is a history of the Isle of Lewis. I am hearing Gaelic in my head today - rest in peace, Henrietta, and Mr T!
- Paul J: 'What wonders of grace to have known these two saints. Many memories of London / Cole Abbey and their real connection with real people to a real God. May there be joy in heaven as we commemorate their leaving this earth to glory! God blessed through Henrietta & Mr T! Thank you Iain/Bethan for sharing.
- Sharon G: 'Wow, the end of an era. They certainly made Cole Abbey a warmer, more welcoming place. I'm sure their funerals will be a celebration of the blessing their lives were to others and the fact that they are now at peace in glory.'
- Doug Campbell: 'I met Henrietta and John during my brief student placement at Cole Abbey. The fact that 15 years on I can still vividly remember them speaks volumes of them as real characters and of the Lord they served and loved so much.'
- Maureen M: 'oh, I'm so sorry to hear that. I remember them both with great fondness. Mr.T was one of my favourite people ever - he had a wonderful gleam in his eye and a lovely sense of humour. They will both be sorely missed.
- Kirsteen: 'Its sad to think of them gone, they were both such huge characters, my time in Cole Abbey was more blessed because of them. They are where they want to be now, with the God they brought into the lives of everyone they met. I did smile to myself when I thought of them meeting in heaven.
Laura H: 'Yes, I did too, Kirsteen. I played some Scottish psalms today on my old tape player in their honour. We used to have such great discussions with them both, and Henrietta's hospitality will always be remembered. Alastair is distantly related to Mr T.'

29 January: There will be a thanksgiving service for Henrietta on Saturday 5th February at 1pm in London City Presbyterian Church.

old songwriters

I'm familiar with the concept of formerly successful chart acts gaining a later career as behind-the-scenes songwriters for younger pop acts - Andy McCluskey and Atomic Kitten come to mind - but I was surprised to learn in an August Word review of Kylie reissues that Can't Get You Out Of My Head was co-written by Cathy Dennis and Rob Davis, 'whom older readers once knew as the gurning guitarist in Mud, with outsized earrings'.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

two queen covers on youtube

The Coverville podcast website directed me to this clip of the Muppets doing Bohemian Rhapsody. I forget how good the Muppets were. Song comes with bonus punchline.

I also came across this clip of Lucie and the Diamonds (new to me) doing a lovely cover of a hidden Queen gem, Dear Friends.

Relative Youtube views: Muppets 22,389,098, Lucie 66.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

smoke on the water, japanese style

YouTube video of Smoke on the Water, performed by a traditional Japanese orchestra (via Coverville).

ed byrne on withdrawing from twitter

Why I’ve fallen out of love with Twitter in general and @TheKeithChegwin in particular
- Ed Byrne article on his own website, 21 February

knowle park and the beatles

We went to Knowle House and park on August Bank Holiday Monday. In their 'history of the house' display they actually included the fact that the Beatles had filmed there for the videos of Penny Lane (Wikipedia; YouTube) and especially Strawberry Fields Forever (Wikipedia; YouTube).

If I'd done my research beforehand I might even have been able to find the distinctive tree from the latter, if it's still standing (and the arch they ride through in the former). (Interesting to note that according to Wikipedia the Beatles were reluctant to go to Liverpool to film for Penny Lane, and in fact didn't, going to King's Road and East London as well as Knowle Park.)

Wikipedia also indicates that it was while down for the filming that John Lennon found, in a Sevenoaks antique shop, the poster on which he based the lyrics of Being For The Benefit of Mr Kite (and has an image of the poster).

orpheus in the underworld

Just sorting out some of the stuff I brought down from home. Some onto the bookshelves, some into what we sometimes still call the computer room, as we used to have our computer in there, but is now mainly storage of paperwork of various kinds, mostly mine of course.

One thing I'll be putting into the charity shop bag, although I'm glad I took it down to note, is my score for Orpheus in the Underworld, tenor chorus part highlighted in orange. Apart from the highlighter pen, the only other personal mark is on the first page, my name and the dates Thursday 28 February, Friday 1 March, Saturday 2 March 1985. These will be the dates I performed it as part of the University Opera Society, in my first year at university. That year I was also in the University G&S Society (we did Ruddigore) and the University Choral Society (we did Handel's Messiah and Mozart's Requiem). Full on; my second year was less busy in all kinds of ways, and I wasn't in any of these three societies.

I was in the Choral Society because I did History of Music, and part of the course requirement was that you were in the orchestra or the choir, although I don't think anyone checked and I don't think all my classmates were; I think I may have been the only person doing it who wasn't doing music or hadn't done it at school.

A rudimentary Google throws up a Facebook group page for the Aberdeen University Operatic Society c 1977-1985, I guess by longer-term members who were in some or all of those productions and were friends; there are quite a few photos but none from my year. I just remember Rosalind was in it, and her flatmate Jackie (pretty sure it was that rather than G&S).

facebook posts

I'm going to catch up a few things that I've put on Facebook since I joined last Octoberish but haven't put here. In the end I'd like to have on here a copy of everything 'interesting' I've put online anywhere else so that it's all in one place.

11 November 2010, I wrote 'The modern world: Iain only realised it was pouring with rain outside because Michelle's FB page mentioned it was pouring down the road in Clapham, and he looked over his shoulder out of his own window.'
Douglas replied to say, 'Presumably at some point the screen will just reflect the weather outside saving you the bother of looking. There is an internet enabled umbrella that checks the weather forecast for your route and if it looks like rain will flash blue to remind you to take it.'

Facebook generates 10% of Mail Online's UK traffic: Martin Clarke, the Daily Mail executive who runs news website, says social media site is 'gigantic free marketing engine' (Guardian, 15 November)

19 November 2010: 'Iain's recent purchase of Brazilian Tropical Orchestra Plays The Beatles In Bossa Nova has not brought him closer either to his aim of getting cover versions of every Beatles original (27 still to get) or to the sadly far more distant target of getting cover versions that are actually any good of every Beatles original. Boys and their lists, eh?'
19 November 2010: 'I read at one point this week that 17 out of the top 50 iTunes albums were Beatles albums [because Beatles tracks were at last available through iTunes].'
20 November 2010: '?27 - in fact, 26 on a recount. I've also been getting the originals of the songs the Beatles covered - just three of those to go. List follows. Some I think are surprising, some not at all.'

20 November 2010: "The modern world: in a charity shop today Iain noticed that the vinyl was priced thus: 'Records: small 50p large £1'"

24 December 2010:
'Daddy: Thank you kindly.
Cherub: My name's not Kindly.
The spirit of Leslie Nielsen lives on.'

24 December 2010: 'Our day went from attendance at a crib service in Westminster Abbey to fire service in attendance at our community hall.'
Douglas said, 'That the one at the end of your close? Nice sentence by the way.'
I said, 'Yes. And yes, I was disproportionately pleased with it.'
Chris MacDonald said, 'At least it wasn't fire service attending your crib.'

26 December 2010: 'District heating for whole estate more economical in theory but not in practice because of human nature. When heat/water part of flat-rate service charge, no incentive to economise or even be sensible. The day we moved into this house, the hottest day yet of that summer, the radiators were on.'

Friday, 9 September 2011

9/11: a 'babble of idiots'?

9/11: A 'babble of idiots'? History has been the judge of that. The Guardian's comment editor at the time of 9/11 on a savage response to those who foresaw the reality of a war on terror
- Guardian, 5 September

'which channel?' 'it doesn't matter'

Notable line from a 'where were you when you heard about 9/11' thread on the Word blog:

My brother was in New Zealand, and being a few hours ahead of me in Brisbane he phoned me at about 5 in the morning. All he said was "turn on the telly". I said "which channel" and he said "it doesn't matter" which made me sick to the pit of my stomach.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

two private eye extracts

Two items from from Private Eye, 19 August:

“Youths armed with glasses bottles, bricks and stones turned a high street into a warzone,” reported the Tottenham and Wood Green Journal – not this month, but back in March. Riot police took until 5am to restore order as around 200 youths aged between 14 and 20 rampaged along Hornsey High Street…Police Sergeant Michael Tisi said: ‘I felt it was not safe for officers to intervene as we were massively outnumbered.” Oddly enough this incident wasn’t even covered by London’s Evening Standard; and it completely failed to spark copycat violence and moral panic across the country. Could this possibly be because the riot kicked off on March 12 while rolling TV news and social media were otherwise engaged following the Japanese earthquake and unfolding nuclear crisis?

Norman Tebbit, Janet Daley, Christopher Howse, Toby Young. No, not the cast of the forthcoming Addams Family remake, but some of the stars of the “rolling comment” factory that is Telegraph Blogs. And long may they remain so – for the website has quietly introduced a culling strategy of its lowest-performing contributors. Every writer is rated according to the number of hits their blog gets each month. Anyone who stays in the lowest 25 per cent for three months running is put on warning. Linger in the bottom quarter for a further three months and you get dropped. So it’s reasoned argument out, provocative headlines and attention-catching barminess in. And on that basis, which blogger holds the top position, month in, month out? James Delingpole. “He’s always number one, because he really is ... mad,” mutters a lower-performing colleague.”

believe tv channel 'exploited viewers' says ofcom

Vulnerable viewers could have been "exploited" by a religious television channel which told them they could cure serious illnesses including cancer with olive oil soap and Ribena, according to communications watchdog Ofcom. A report published today found Believe TV was in breach of the broadcasting code. It cited the example of two programmes featuring televangelist Paul Lewis which were shown in December 2010. - Independent, 22 August

Saturday, 3 September 2011

two of the things I have learned about alcohol

1. When drinking a pint or bottle of something supposedly 'refreshing' on a hot day, the alcohol dehydrates me so effectively that I get my hangover - headache and queasiness - within a couple of hours.

2. Several years ago I went through a period of trying out bottles of beer from many different countries around the world. The primary conclusion of my research was that it turned out that I didn't really like beer that much.

Friday, 2 September 2011

nic philps

Trying to make programmes by committee not only fails to create good radio and television, it even fails to create inoffensive radio and television. Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand were rightly sent to the naughty step for their antics on Andrew Sachs's answerphone, but people seem to have forgotten that the compliance procedures were followed.
The 26-year-old BBC producer, Nic Philps, whom I know slightly, filled in the appropriate form, passed it up the line to his manager, who in turn, passed it to the controller. It was approved at every level. The manager and the controller felt obliged to resign and Philps (who'd protested that it was unbroadcastable) has since left the BBC to become a missionary in China.
The irony is that, if they had left the decision to the produer in the first place, no one would ever have heard a thing about it.
- John Lloyd in new issue of Radio Times. Don't know if the 'missionary' bit is true, but a Google picks up news stories from the time which refer to him as a vicar's son (didn't actually follow any of the links)

whitechapel - underground, overground

According to this week's Empire email, at Whitechapel station the Underground is overground and the Overground is underground (it says this is the only London station thus, though of course there are few stations that are both).

ira glass on storytelling

A Vimeo clip of animation accompanying some wise words from Ira Glass on writing - in a nutshell, everyone who writes starts off writing things they know they wouldn't think worth reading themselves, and those who become good writers are those who carry on writing and work through that till they write things they would read themselves.