Monday, 31 October 2011

the protesters and the clergy at st paul’s cathedral have both got it wrong

Our sympathy should be saved for the City of London workers who pick their way around the tents of the anti-capitalist protesters.
- Charles Moore, Telegraph, 28 October

Saturday, 29 October 2011

wallet story

A great story on Danny Baker just now. The emailer had been driving along with someone else, passing a group of lads walking along, and noticed that one of them had dropped a wallet. Decided to turn back and pick it up. When they got back the lads had gone but they found the wallet - cash, cards and a ticket for a gig that night, which they were obviously on their way to. First thought was to go to the venue and give it back to them there. Then had a better idea. They knew which way they'd be walking, so went on ahead to a quiet industrial section of the route and put the wallet on the pavement, having made sure no one else was around. They then hid themselves away and watched the group spot the wallet, pick it up, look in it and realise it was one of theirs, which had mysteriously got to that point ahead of them.

Friday, 28 October 2011

knowledge is power, france is bacon

An amusing story, from Reddit and reproduced here on, about someone's misunderstanding of 'Francis Bacon' as 'France is bacon'

where folsom prison blues came from

Beverly Mahr sings Crescent City Blues on Soundcloud. Probably came to this link via Word blog, it's a sound file of a song from which much of Folsom Prison Blues was clearly lifted. The note on Soundcloud says, 'For the Johnny Cash fans. I believe the story is that JC saw the movie from which this song comes while staioned in Germany. He basically just stole the whole song. I'm not sure of this but I believe Folsom Prison Blues now gets listed as a co-write with one Gordon Jenkins (author of this little number here).'

poor goal difference near top

"Morton, in the Scottish First Division are leading the table after eight games but have a goal difference of -2," wrote Ross Smith. "Has a team ever led their league with a negative goal difference after so many games?"
As many of you pointed out, Norwich were top of the inaugural Premier League in mid-January, after 24 games, despite having a goal difference of -1. The main reason for that was a 7-1 trouncing at Blackburn in early October. Norwich eventually finished third with a goal difference of -4. That's the best you could come up with, although some of you pointed out examples of teams leading the table with a goal difference of 0: Herfolge Boldklub after 28 games in Denmark in 1999-2000, Bristol City after 42 matches in the 2007-08 season, and EDO, who were champions of the Dutch second division in 1959-60.
- Guardian Knowledge, 26 October

london from above

A set of photos of London from above, mostly by night.

fox news

Someone posted an image on Facebook, which I saw via Emlyn William's feed, saying this: 'Fox News: rich people paying rich people to tell middle class people to blame poor people'

niall horan and andrew collins

On Tuesday evening most of our half-term visitors went up the West End for a wander and saw Niall Horan of One Direction in Chinatown; they got a couple of photos with him. After seeing our visitors off at King's Cross this morning we went to St Pancras and in Costa sat next to Andrew Collins. Before we left I spoke to him and thanked him for his writing and broadcasting, which I really appreciated; that was all; there's not much else to say once you've expressed your appreciation; there's not generally a conversation to be had, I don't think; he took it well, and off we went. I'm getting old and shameless.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

margaret thatcher claims £535,000 for ex-pm duties

Margaret Thatcher claims £535,000 for ex-PM duties: Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has claimed £535,000 of taxpayers' money over the last five years, government records have shown.
- BBC, 27 October

letter in a bottle from titanic victim goes on display

Letter in a bottle from Titanic victim goes on display: The note was headed with the date 10/4/1912 – four days before the ship sank. It had a simple message: “From Titanic. Goodbye all. Burke of Glanmire, Cork.”
- The Journal, 27 October

Monday, 24 October 2011

300+ homes to be built on elephant leisure centre site

300+ homes to be built on Elephant leisure centre site: Lend Lease has signed a deal with Southwark Council to build more than 300 homes on part of the site of the Elephant & Castle Leisure Centre.
- London SE1, 24 October

the little used pedestrian tunnel by london bridge

The little used pedestrian tunnel by London Bridge
- IanVisits, 24 October. Goes into Hays Galleria basement.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

god knows why dawkins won't show

Paul Vallely: God knows why Dawkins won't show. Our leading atheists prefer abuse to argument when faced with a tough-talking Christian opponent
- Independent, 23 October

Saturday, 22 October 2011

orwell vs god

Orwell vs God: a very Christian atheist
- Spectator, 11 June 2011

defend persecuted christians, not just gays, ministers told

Defend persecuted Christians, not just gays, ministers told: Ministers stand accused of double standards by threatening to withdraw aid from countries that persecute homosexuals but ignoring Christians.
- Telegraph, 21 October

tony iommi's fingertips

It was his last day before leaving [his job as a factory worker in a Birmingham sheet metal works, as a teenager] to pursue his dream of being a pro musician on tour in Germany. In fact, popping home for his lunch, he'd said to his mum that he didn't think he'd bother going back in the afternoon. 'Oh yes, you will!' she replied and a couple of hours later Iommi sliced off the tops of several fingers in an accident. That led to him making himself some replacement fingertips, detuning his guitar and thus inventing the deep, sludgy riffs that were at the heart of Black Sabbath's music and thence the sound of a generation of rockers.
- I knew this story about Tony Iommi already, but not some of the details recorded here in Stuart Maconie's column in this week's Radio Times


A wise Roman Catholic once remarked that there is no one so prejudiced as someone who thinks he has no prejudices; and what’s true of individuals is equally true of societies. The more we pride ourselves on our tolerance the more intolerant we seem to become.
Admittedly, I’m not in the best of moods. Yesterday saw yet another of Edinburgh’s Sunday races, this one sponsored by BUPA, that fabulous invention for enabling those with money to jump the queue for medical treatment. The impact of these races on church attendance is deadly. I spent an hour trying to find a road to the Gaelic service at Greyfriars Kirk, but every possible route was closed off to accommodate the Run; and when I finally gave up, defeated, I wasted millions of precious brain cells in a futile attempt to outwit the demonic grid-lock.
When the children who now run Edinburgh City Council gave permission for the Run they were clearly unaware that the city’s traffic is already in chaos due to the fun they themselves are having with the trams fiasco; and their thinking took them no further than to realise that even if they imposed chaos upon chaos it would be OK since no one would suffer but church-goers. To the Council’s best knowledge, there are none such left.
A few days earlier, a group including Quakers, Unitarians, Liberal Jews, the Pagan Federation, Bishop Richard Holloway, and the Metropolitan Community Church (a church ‘with a special outreach to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community’) had held a conference in Edinburgh as part of a campaign to promote gay marriage. These groups have two things in common: they are proud of having no prejudices; and they hate orthodox Christianity. Now they stand together to defend religious freedom and equality.
Good, because once we achieve such freedom I will be able to say exactly what I think about homosexuality: first, that it is absolutely right that homosexual acts between consenting adults should be legal; secondly, that homosexual acts are sins; and, thirdly, that like all sins, homosexual acts are forgivable.
I also think that to talk about gay marriages is nonsense. If a man can ‘marry’ a man we will need to re-write human language. We will also need to ban the Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer, which, although part of the British ‘constitution’, boldly declares that ‘marriage was ordained for the procreation of children’: not exactly what the Metropolitan Community Church has in mind.
As for equality and religious liberty, if I were to appear today on a radio show with two gay clergy, would I enjoy equality? It is not tolerance the gay lobby wants. What it wants is to silence alternative voices. But would any other paper in Scotland let me say that?
Truth is, Christian space in Scotland is rapidly shrinking, even on simple matters like getting to church on Sunday. Now, it transpires, the crew of the Uig-Tarbert ferry are to be denied that privilege, as CalMac once again joins forces with local anti-Christian voices to drive yet another nail into the coffin (as they see it) of Highland Evangelicalism.
Many will see this as no more than justice. One of the great Scottish myths is that for four hundred years Calvinism dominated the life of Scotland and that this explains all our problems from endemic national alcoholism to our failure to produce great epic drama. Everything is the fault of John Knox.
In reality, Knox never succeeded in consolidating the Reformation, and when he died in 1572 his idea of the godly commonwealth was still only a dream. Though the nation became officially Protestant in 1560, parliament refused to endorse the First Book of Discipline, thus denying Scotland the hope of a school in every parish, a university in every town and proper provision for the poor. These could all have been funded from the immense wealth of the mediaeval church, but our so-called noble families had their own greedy eyes on that wealth, and they grabbed it shamelessly. That is why their heirs today deserve not a shred of respect. They built their ‘nobility’ by rapacity, on the ashes of a noble dream.
The fortunes of the Reformed Church scarcely improved in the following centuries. The Stewart kings, ruling as absolute monarchs, showed undisguised hatred towards Presbyterianism, banishing its leaders and imposing episcopacy until at last there came Charles II, the vilest of them all, who treated Presbyterians as Hitler treated Jews. By the time the last Stewart passed from the scene it was 1690, and the Reformation was still far from secure.
It was into this situation that William of Orange walked, vowing moderation, and within a few years this moderation had turned to Moderatism, which for over a hundred years provided Scotland’s parishes with a succession of clergy of whom the philosopher, Francis Hutcheson (who taught them), said that the whole study of candidates for the ministry was ‘servile compliance with the humour of some great lord who has many churches in his gift’. These men banished Calvinism and earned credit only as the best dancers, the best drinkers and the best farmers in the parish.
Even in the mid-19th century, the Calvinist revival which accompanied the Disruption was blasted on the vine by the frosts of Darwinism and an alien German philosophy. By the outbreak of the Great War, such Calvinism as remained was dumb; and the 20th century heard no conspicuous Scottish Calvinist voice.
Scotland will have to find something else to blame for its neuroses and its artistic failures. But in the meantime it should ponder the fact that its most successful ventures into creative literature (the poems of Burns, the novels of Scott and the bardachd of the Gaelic renaissance) would never have come into being without Calvinism. It provided them with a whipping-boy.
I have no inclination to whitewash Calvinists: I have known some horrid ones, who claimed the label, but knew little of the reality. But by this time, we Calvinists should be used to speaking, unheard, from the edge, our holy day lost, our routes to church closed and liberals constantly denying us freedom.
But our cultured elite should also be asking themselves a question. Why does art always go where the money is?
- Donald MacLeod, WHFP, 7 October. Posting made easier because John MacLeod had reproduced it as a note on his Facebook page. This is the whole column.

science belongs to the religious too

Science belongs to the religious too: Sadly, we've reached a point where I have to declare my atheism and some scientists are scared to 'come out' as Christian
- Guardian, 20 October

robin ince on the ricky gervais furore

will someone rid me of this turbulent language
- Robin Ince blog, 21 October

Friday, 21 October 2011

richard dawkins doesn’t want you to know he’s debated william lane craig before

Richard Dawkins doesn’t want you to know he’s debated William Lane Craig before
- A Faith To Live By blog, 21 October

knit the city

Knit the City: stitching up London - in pictures. A band of sneaky graffiti knitters has been let loose all over London. Their mission? To bring some colour and warmth to mundane objects on the streets of the capital. Until it's time for a tea break, that is.
- Guardian photofeature, 19 October

richard dawkins is either a fool or a coward

Richard Dawkins is either a fool or a coward for refusing to debate William Lane Craig
- Telegraph, 21 October 2011

Thursday, 20 October 2011

v for vendetta masks: who's behind them?

V for Vendetta masks: Who's behind them?
- BBC, 20 October. Most interesting/amusing fact: these masks, used often now by anti-establishment protesters, make money for Warner Bros, as they're merchandise.

profile: william lane craig

Profile: William Lane Craig. He’s been dubbed the Christian apologist who puts the fear of God into leading atheists. So what’s so scary about William Lane Craig?
- Christianity magazine, November 2011

1927 herring harvest in lochs

Sometime in October 1927, a neighbour, Janet Macdonald was rock fishing below her croft, and a pet cat she had usually followed her around. Not long after arriving at her fishing point she noticed the cat coming towards her with a herring in its mouth.
Naturally she assumed that he had captured it somewhere in the seaweed and took it for granted that where there was one there were more. The incident made her get home sooner than she had expected from where she sent the 'fiery cross' around.
Bush telegraph had done the trick; the same evening a goodly number of boats could be seen pushing out to sea with herring nets and in the morning the villagers, and those further afield got news that the 'silver darlings' had arrived in Loch Erisort in style. Reports of nets sinking with the weight of fish was confirmed as genuine.
Within a few days the Loch was almost covered with boats and drifters of all sizes, shortly to be followed by 'klondykers' from the East European Countries.
I can remember vividly going down to the seashore and seeing live herring struggling in the seaweed. One could pick a good pailful of herrings in a matter of minutes; one ignored the dead ones floating on the surface.
The 'black boat' ['An Eathar Dhubh', his father's boat, tarred rather than painted] was well and truly in business, working day and night supplying the Klondykers. The Loch was literally chock-a-block with herring. It mattered not where the nets were set the results were incredible, as much as the boats could carry it could only be described as phenomenal.
I have heard my father and his crew say that while rowing they were actually throwing up herring on the oars.
They have also asserted that when the job of setting their nets was done, all they had to do was to go back to where they had started setting and start hauling in, usually the nets were full.
Those unbelievable shoals continued to be available for a matter of at least two months. It has been a matter of debate many times as to how this phenomenon came about.
One explanation was that a coal strike during the year precluded drifters from getting to sea, and so gave the shoals from the Minches free course or passage in the Lochs.
Others, more spiritually motivated, declared that Providence had intervened at a time when the lot of the people in this part of the Island was going through a lean patch. Whatever the explanation, it was most unusual, to say the least.
Most of the inhabitants, apart from benefiting financially, were well stocked up with barrels of salt herring to last over the winter.
- an extract from 'Recollections of a Lochs Man: The Autobiography of D Kennedy', which appeared, courtesy of Kinloch Historical Society, in the September issue of Back in the Day. The village was Balallan; the writer was born in October 1918.

'a very talented postman'

The best article title and sub-title in the September issue of Back in the Day (the Gazette's monthly historical newspaper):
Murdo Crola
'A learned man and a very talented postman'

why I refuse to debate with william lane craig

Why I refuse to debate with William Lane Craig: This Christian 'philosopher' is an apologist for genocide. I would rather leave an empty chair than share a platform with him
- Richard Dawkins, Guardian, 20 October

the shard's growth over the past year

The Shard’s Growth Over The Past Year
- set of photos in Londonist blog post, 20 October


After church on Sunday we took a turn down to St Paul's to see the anti-capitalism demo. As many people like us, observing and taking photos, as there were demonstrators/campers, though Saturday had been the big demo day. We took some photos, but none were as good as this one, of a long line of demonstrators queuing to get into Starbucks...

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

indiscreet rock stars

If you're doing a TV programme with a rock star he will instantly assume that you can be trusted with confidences that he otherwise wouldn't share, partly because he knows that he will have some sort of say over the final cut but also because he now treats you as part of the production rather than an observer. While making a film about The Rolling Stones in 1986 I was at meetings where Mick Jagger openly discussed Bill Wyman's affair with the then 15-year-old Mandy Smith before it had got in the press. When making a short film about Simply Red, who were recording their first album in a studio in Holland, we were told not to point the camera at the bass player because he wasn't going to be in the final group and was going to be given the elbow within days.
- David Hepworth, writing about his Whistle Test years, Word, September 2011

reggae-related facts

Three facts from the 99% True page in September's Word, on reggae:
- Sly & Robbie (Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare) are thought to be the most prolific recording artists of all time, having played on or produced more than 200,000 songs.
- Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records, is related to the Crosse & Blackwell food manufacturers. His mother, Blanche Lindo, was Ian Fleming's mistress and reputedly the inspiration for Pussy Galore. She also gave Fleming the gift of a coracle named Octopussy.
- Early sound-system operator Duke Reid was a former champion marksman in the Jamaican police and always kept a very visible armed presence around him. Trojan Records was named after the Croydon-made Trojan truck that transported his early sound system.

church hiv prayer cure claims 'cause three deaths'

Church HIV prayer cure claims 'cause three deaths': At least three people in London with HIV have died after they stopped taking life saving drugs on the advice of their Evangelical Christian pastors.
- BBC, 18 October 2011

Monday, 17 October 2011

in praise of… emergency planners

In praise of… Emergency Planners
- We Love Local Government blog, 9 September

you never know who you'll meet on the tube

Interesting Londonist blog post linking to two Evening Standard stories from today about encounters on the tube with the prime minister and an admiral in full regalia, with some other relevant links too.

tommy cooper and the queen

On being introduced to the Queen, Tommy Cooper asked her if she liked football. When she replied in the negative, he responded, 'Can I have your Cup Final tickets?'
- Word, August 2011

goal celebrations

Your proposed ruling on goal celebrations (Editorial, WSC 295) could be improved by one small tweak. 'All goal celebrations should be legal,' should have the caveat: 'but the team who have just conceded are not obliged to wait for the celebration to finish before kicking off.'
It would surely only take one instance of an easy, tap-in equaliser, against a team too busy forming a human pyramid to prevent it, before we saw a permanent end to all this over-choreographed nonsense.
Jon Cudby, East Dulwich
- letters page, WSC, October 2011

patti smith the celeb

Whether she likes it or not, she's a celeb in that we know more about her life than we do her work.
- David Hepworth (though the article's credited to 'David Heartbeat' for some reason), on Patti Smith in the September 2011 issue of Word

Sunday, 16 October 2011

a woman killed with kindness

On Monday 22 August we saw A Woman Killed With Kindness at the NT Lyttelton, by Thomas Heywood (Wikipedia for play and playwright) - another rarely-seen old play, this one from 1607, though this production set after WWI and in a feminist reading, according to themselves. I don't know how much they cut or changed to give it this reading, but I don't like that approach in general, since then you don't know what the play was really originally. I'd rather see it as it was, and learn about attitudes (or whatever) as they were as well as use my own sense to understand that we're not all agreeing that these attitudes are acceptable today.

Anyway, it was fine; interesting to see, but nothing special - a bit like The Lady of Pleasure in that regard, except much better acted and probably better written. I don't think I knew any of the cast, and none stood out for me in particular. The stage was divided in two, with left and right being the two different houses in which all the scenes were set except the last, when a full-width room-height section rose from the floor at the front of the stage, which I'd never seen before and was very impressive. That's the thing I'll remember most, probably, rather than the play or any of the performances. I remember the promo material suggesting it was revolutionary in being a domestic tragedy.

Some reviews. NT production page (which has links and content including photos and trailer). Independent. Telegraph (described it as cold, which it was, and reminded me that there wasn't an interval, which I'd forgotten). Guardian. West End Whingers (they, and all their commenters, hate it and the director; their review is entertainingly constructed, but we didn't think it was as bad as all that - maybe it was less dark and mumbly a few weeks in). Time Out (more appalled commenters). The Arts Desk. Financial Times. Webcowgirl blog (she, and again all the commenters, hated it). A Metro interview with the director. Evening Standard. That's a good set without going past the first page of Google results.

barra airport photo set

A set of photos of Barra airport from the Guardian of 5 September, taken by Murdo MacLeod.

strategy for getting a train seat

Do you want to sit down on the Overground during rush hour? Then prepare for war
- entertaining 4 October entry on blog on strategy for getting a seat

universe and human mind are traceable to god

Universe and human mind are traceable to God: Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University, John Lennox, explains why he believes faith is foundational to science and the Resurrection is not a violation of the laws of nature; and also remembers CS Lewis as a lecturer, in part II of an interview with Roland Ashby.
- The Melbourne Anglican, 3 October. Oddly it's not obvious to see how to see the first part of this interview

science and religion: a false divide

Science and religion: A false divide. On most issues, there is very little conflict between religion and science.
- LA Times, 10 October

Saturday, 15 October 2011

the lady of pleasure

On Friday 19 August I went to the White Bear (still haven't got a mailing list, I gave them my email address that night and haven't heard from them, I missed a Hamlet there earlier this year) to see The Lady of Pleasure by James Shirley (1596-1666 according to programme, Wikipedia entry here - there's an entry for the play too (licensed 1635, published 1637) and it looks like every play, perhaps a devoted James Shirley fan/scholar has been at work; the entry for this play cites CS Lewis). They quite often do rarely-performed old plays there, and I quite enjoyed this one. The play was interesting though nothing special (not one where you wonder why it's rarely performed, unlike say The Belles' Strategem which I saw a couple of weeks ago at the Southwark Playhouse), and most of the performances were okay, although two were in a different class, Jonathan Rigby as Sir Thomas Bornwell and Elizabeth Donnelly as Celestina. He's an older gentleman, and from the bios, he's done quite well being Kenneth Horne in a variety of formats; she from the bio is fairly new, I think. I was glad I saw it, though. The time was transposed to 1960s swinging London, the set was a chaise longue.

Let's see if I can find any reviews. Carousel of Fantasies blog (new to me, but says the review was written for Time Out). Time Out (it was). What's On Stage. Rev Stan's blog (only a passing mention in a monthly round-up, he left at half-time). Jon Wainwright blog (blog new to me; quite long review, with quotes; also I see has reviews of the Greenwich Playhouse Hamlet, which didn't kick up on my search so I'll add to that, and two reviews of The Belle's Stratagem, which I've yet to write up - he's just started this blog, and we've had a surprising amount of theatregoing overlap so far). Reviews Gate. Sally Mortemore as Lady Bornwell gets some good mentions; she had her moments, but a bit broad I thought.

this side of paradise

Just finished F Scott Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise, his first novel, which (according to the back of the Penguin) 'rocketed its young author to success. It was okay, seemed to be one of those debut novels which feels autobiographical, but didn't make you warm to the central character with his pretensions and philosophising. The thing which struck me most was that although it feels like a historical period piece, it was written right at the end of the period it covers, so it was a contemporary novel. I wonder which contemporary novels being written today will be looked to in a hundred years time as giving a picture of life in 2011, and how representative a picture those of us living in 2011 would consider it.

A couple of quotes, both from a section written as a play (there are also several poems, which made me wonder if he was just reusing material he had knocking around already).
Cecelia: Glad you're coming out?
Rosalind: Yes; aren't you?
C [cynically]: You're glad so you can get married and live on Long Island with the *fast younger married set*. You want life to be a chain of flirtation with a man for every link.
R: *Want* it to be one! You mean I've *found* it one.
C: Ha!
R: Cecelia, darling, you don't know what a trial it is to be - like me. I've got to keep my face like steel in the street to keep men from winking at me. If I laugh hard from a front row in the theatre, the comedian plays to me for the rest of the evening. If I drop my voice, my eyes, my handkerchief at a dance, my partner calls me up on the 'phone every day for a week.
C: It must be an awful strain.
R: The unfortunate part is that the only men who interest me at all are the totally ineligible ones. Now - if I were poor I'd go on the stage.
C: Yes, you might as well get paid for the amount of acting you do.
R: sometimes when I've felt particularly radiant I've thought, why should this be wasted on one man?
C: Often when you're particularly sulky, I've wondered why it should all be wasted on one family.
- p157 (Rosalind older sister, Cecelia younger (16))

Alec: She won't marry him, but a girl doesn't have to marry a man to break his heart.
- p166 (Alec their brother)

Friday, 14 October 2011

gaelic mafia

A friend of a friend's Facebook status said this, I guess not original, which I rather liked: 'Gaelic Mafia: Do they may you an offer you can't pronounce?'

the a-z of odd london street names (part 1)

The A-Z Of Odd London Street Names (Part 1)
- Londonist, 14 October

Thursday, 13 October 2011

the 17th century prison doorway in westminster

The 17th century prison doorway in Westminster
- Ianvisits, 13 October

it would be unspeakable to lose gaelic

It would be unspeakable to lose Gaelic: Few other countries have neglected and scorned a language in the manner that we have
- Kevin McKenna, Observer, 9 October

a game of thrones

I had had my eye out for a copy of A Game Of Thrones by George R R Martin for a while - it's on a lot of best of lists and awards lists. I got one earlier this year, and finished it a couple of weeks ago. A couple of hundred pages in I knew I would finish it but not read any of the further volumes, because although it was well put together, I didn't have the stomach for a massive saga of the political and military intrigues of fantasy nations, especially when so much of it was unhappy or unpleasant. This volume was 800 pages long, and there are several more, and still coming out, and all as long or longer. It made me realise that what I want is a one-volume quest story which goes along with good humour and ends happily.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

tv satellite dishes as navigation aids

From today's listings in this week's Radio Times:
'The sun is the most obvious aid to navigation being learnt by Sue Perkins, Stephen Mangan and Alison Steadman in All Roads Lead Home. But a more recent helping hand in many areas is the TV satellite dish. There are millions across the UK, all aligned to 28.2 degrees east of south or a tiny bit further north at 28.5 degrees. So virtually all dishes point south east, giving you a steer home on a handy compass bearing of 152 degrees.'

private eye cartoon

From 30 September issue: picture of a man with a briefcase and dressed only in socks, shoes, hat and glasses, walking down High Street among others. Caption: 'Oh no, I'm living the dream'

Monday, 10 October 2011

joyce carol vincent

Joyce Carol Vincent: How could this young woman lie dead and undiscovered for almost three years? When the film-maker Carol Morley read that the skeleton of a young woman had been found in a London bedsit, she knew she had to find out more…
- Observer, 9 October

facebook calls on web security firm to combat malware

Facebook calls on web security firm to combat malware: Users will be warned not to follow links posted on the site which lead to locations known to harbour malware
- Guardian, 3 October

Most striking quote: 'Another web security firm, Symantec, said in its annual report in April that malicious links accounted for two-thirds of all shortened links on social networks in 2010, and that almost nine in 10 of them had been clicked at least once.'

cairo: 23 homosexuals slaughtered by egyptian army

Cairo: 23 homosexuals slaughtered by Egyptian Army
- Cranmer blog, 10 October. A familiar point well-made.

elephant & castle ‘most dangerous’ spot for road injuries in london

Elephant & Castle ‘most dangerous’ spot for road injuries in London: More road users are injured at the Elephant & Castle's northern roundabout than at any other location in London, according to statistics obtained by campaign group Southwark Living Streets.
- SE1, 6 October

a list of scottish inventions

A page listing Scottish inventions on - though revisionists probably claim many of these are partly or wholly untrue.

Listed there:
Introduction: Television; telephones; penicillin; antiseptics; grass collecting lawnmowers; marmalade; tyres or golf.
Subsequent abbreviated A-Z of Scottish inventions:
Anaesthetics; Beta-blockers; Bicycles; Cash credit; Colour photography; Cotton-reel threads; Continuous electric light; Criminal finger-printing; Decimal points; Fax machines; Financial services by telephone; Fountain pens; Electro-magnetism; Hollow pipe drainage; Hypodermic syringes; Insulin; Kaleidoscopes; Lime cordial; Motor insurance; Noble gases; Paraffin; Pneumatic tyres; Self adhesive postage stamps; Quinine; Radar; Reflecting telescopes; Retail banking; Savings banks; Tubular steel; Ultrasound scanners; Universal standard time; Vacuum flasks; Waterproof mackintoshes; Wave-powered electricity generators; Whisky

Friday, 7 October 2011

the mini band do enter sandman

Youtube clip of The Mini Band - 8-10-year-olds - doing Metallica's Enter Sandman. The Word magazine email comes up with the goods again.

hamlet - greenwich playhouse

I saw Hamlet at the Greenwich Playhouse on Tuesday evening - it's got a nice frontage just next to Greenwich station (I was applauding at two minutes to ten, on the platform two minutes later, on a train two minutes after that - I was home within half an hour, which was excellent going), but in fact is a room above the 'adjoining' pub, seats along long side and two short sides of floor area. It was a Galleon Theatre production, which seems to be the resident company. Directed by Bruce Jamieson, who also played Claudius (and took my reservation for a ticket when I went in before the box office had opened), Robin Holden was Hamlet. No one I recognised, although Christopher Peacock (ghost/player king) used to be a newsreader apparently.

It wasn't my least favourite Hamlet of the year, but it was unremarkable. It was down to a tight two and a half hours, and perhaps the most striking thing about it was how many cuts I noticed - not just at the 'erase Fortinbras' level, which goes without saying, but lines within sections of dialogue. Emphasises how hard it must be to cut it down, and I guess if you've done Hamlet before it must be hard to remember what lines you've cut in this production.

Nothing that stood out, for good or ill really. Gertrude and Ophelia carried themselves and the roles well, the Ghost was a bit plummy (I didn't actually see him, as he was standing behind me in his scene - and the player king as thankless a task as ever), gravedigger scene wasn't funny (it's always hit or miss, but the Oliver/LesMis grotesque extras approach didn't do the job), R&G were patently slimy and ruthless functionaries from the outset; the edit did have Claudius telling R/G that the letters required the death of Hamlet (which was also the interval point, which is later than usual), which give you a reason for thinking that Hamlet's killing of R&G is less gratuitous. That was probably the most interesting point for me. Oh, and when Ophelia was giving out her flowers, she offered one as if to someone who wasn't there, which I took to be Polonius, but it was a nice touch whether or not it was him.

Reviews. So Anyway blog (a rather nasty review which the directors respond to in the comments and get some more nastiness for their pains - although I have to say that apart from the unpleasant tone, I did agree with several of the less controversial points of his analysis of the production). News Shopper. What's On Stage (which describes the Gravediggers as 'Thenardier-like', and I discover that the Thenardiers are villains in Les Mis...). The Stage. London Festival Fringe. Remote Goat (agreed in general with this one - naturalistic is a good description of the approach of the best elements of it, but did leave Hamlet a little underdone I thought). British Theatre Guide. A lot more reviews, in fact, than I'd expected to find (although I did dig down in the results more than I would normally do). Oh, and Jane Stanton - Gertrude - has a website, complete with showreel, and a Twitter account.

Late review addition: Jon Wainwright blog, which makes an interesting observation on the text: 'I’ve long wondered why Hamlet seems to forget, in one of the most famous speeches in all of theatre, his encounter with the Ghost (3.1.84–86): "But that the dread of something after death, The undiscovered country from whose bourn No traveller returns, puzzles the will . . ."'.

man obsessed with the queen died on island next to palace

Man obsessed with the Queen died on island next to palace: A man obsessed with the royal family who set up home on an island opposite Buckingham Palace has been found dead after lying undiscovered for three years. The remains of American Robert James Moore were found by a tree surgeon on West Island, a small piece of land at the end of St James's Park with uninterrupted views of the palace.
- Evening Standard, 3 October 2011.

Funnily enough, probably every time I've been in the St James Park playpark - which on the bank alongside this island - I've whiled away time looking over the fence, on the lake side, at the adjoining undergrowth and thinking it perfectly plausible that one day I'd see a body there (a down-and-out, I expected). They'd really cut the undergrowth back last time I was there, which coincidentally or otherwise was after the date recorded in the article as being when they found the body.

reconciling the scientific with the divine

Does God exist?: The case for reconciling the scientific with the divine - and against the anti-religion of Richard Dawkins
- Salon, 2 October 2011

'comedy is the new rock and roll'

To coin a phrase...: In his bid for immortality, Dave Cohen settles for mundanity
- Dave Cohen, in Chortle, 9 September 2010, reveals he was responsible for 'comedy is the new rock and roll'.

I was not a lab rat

I was not a lab rat: A new book has rekindled old rumours that renowned psychologist BF Skinner used his baby daughter in his experiments. Stop this rubbish about me and my dad, says Deborah Skinner Buzan
- Guardian, 12 March 2004

murder map of london boroughs

The murder map of London's boroughs: The Metropolitan Police has released a list of every murder case in London for the last five years. Click on a borough to see how many murders took place
- Guardian datablog, 5 October

there's a difference between changing the world and selling it toys

There's a difference between changing the world and selling it toys
- David Hepworth's blog post of 7 October on one aspect of the response to the death of Steve Jobs. Commenters disagree, some eloquently.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

hamlet - bard in the botanics

On Friday 22 July, the first evening of our summer holiday, I saw Hamlet in the Glasgow Botanic Gardens (as part of Bard in the Botanics) with Kenny and Fiona and a couple of their friends. It was in the open air, people sitting on chairs or blankets on a grassy slope looking down at the action in front of one of the glass-houses. It started in light and ended in dark, and it wasn't too cold or too midgey - in fact the whole weekend was a very warm one in Glasgow.

I don't remember many of the details now, but it was a good production. Hamlet - Paul Cunningham (don't think I'd seen him, or anyone else in the cast, before) - had an air of menace and danger about him which was interesting and less usual (appropriate for Glasgow, some might say). He didn't trust R&G from the start. Ophelia stayed with him on stage for his first soliloquy, so that it was to her, and they were clearly a couple. Ophelia's mad scenes were well done, sad and touching rather than raving. Gertrude was more mumsy than most of the ones I've seen recently, which also made an interesting change. The primary roles were on the whole well-played (in particular I remember Ophelia as good, and Hamlet as interesting - review below reminds me that Polonius was more political than buffoon, and I appreciated him), some of the smaller parts less so.

Some reviews. Herald. STV. Scotsman (and same on Joyce McMillan's own blog). The STV review has the measure of it, I think. There's also a Facebook photoset of the Botanics Hamlet.