Monday, 18 October 2021

Be nice

After the murder of Sir David Amess this week, people have been saying that we should show more tolerance and humanity toward politicians, and they said the same thing after the murder of Jo Cox.

Well, I have never held any inherent antagonism toward back bench M.P.s of any party. It's the cabinets who I usually rant about.

Over the years, I have had many more close friends who are Conservative rather than Labour. Many more.

I have tried making friends with staunch Labour supporters, but they just don't  - usually or typically - have any sense of humour. Intelligent Conservatives on the other hand are often a very good laugh - which is more important to me than almost anything else when it comes to surviving a party - with a lower-case P.

I always have been nice to everyone - well, not everyone, but most.

Sunday, 17 October 2021

This action cannot be undone

Are you SURE that you want to delete 58 photos?

I accidentally took 27 photos of my trousers the other day whilst sitting in the car. I used to occasionally take the odd accidental photo of my feet with the old phone, but the new one has a paparazzi setting which fires off what are called 'bursts' at the lightest touch of the wrong (or right) button.

I know that I am well behind the times as far as iPhones go, and that all you youngsters have known about these features on your phones for years, but it is all new to me.

'Live' photos are a bit disconcerting too.  I took a few pictures of the beach at Studland for H.I. to improve some drawings she made there a few years ago, and now when I go back to the album and look at them, the waves move into the shoreline for a fraction of a second, making you think that you are imagining things. It is a bit like glimpsing a mouse in the room from the corner of your eye.

The HD setting on the phone uses technology invented by an American amateur astronomer. He had an idea one day - and it was a day - so he bought a cheap telescope with tracking and an old laptop, then linked the two together.

He set the telescope to track the space shuttle which he knew would pass over his area at various points in the day, then he linked the laptop to it and took a series of photos in broad, sunny daylight as it flew above in the deep blue of the cloudless sky.

He programmed the laptop to overlay the best pictures one on top of the other and produced an image so clear that you could actually read the word NASA on the side of the shuttle.

He emailed the photo to NASA and asked them why they had the bay doors open on the shuttle on that day, and heard nothing back. A day or so later there was a knock on his door and there stood a couple of NASA technicians asking him how the hell he had done that.

He explained what he had done, and now NASA uses a refined version of his software for all sorts of optical procedures as a matter of course.

Where would we be without amateurs?

Saturday, 16 October 2021

The History of London by Walter Besant | Full Audiobook

I have listened - twice -  to this entire audiobook written by Walter Besant, brilliantly and dryly read by Ruth Golding - all eight hours of it - sometimes fully awake and sometimes properly asleep.

Take my recommendation: If you cannot sleep, have an enquiring mind and an inherent interest in history - particularly of London - then you will learn to love this, even when you are unconscious.

I almost recommended that it should be played to patients in a coma, but I think that could constitute torture in some cases.

I just cannot get my head around how some old academics could fill their own with so many facts and dates, and how learning and teaching has been so degraded since Walter Besant filled his own to overflowing.

What gifts we have been given. 

Take your time.

Machine-guns and deckchairs

The hotel at Studland came with its own beach hut. After we eventually found it hiding in a bit of high-altitude undergrowth I managed to open one door (which wouldn't stay open) and half open the other. H.I. sat in a deckchair and peered through the bushes at the glorious vista hiding behind them.

I am not going to post up any pictures of The Pig On The Beach because if you want to know what it looks like there are plenty of photos on Trip Advisor, etc. The world can do without more.

For me, the best thing about the place is its WW2 connections with the top brass of the time, including - as I have already mentioned - Winston Churchill, who stayed there during the disastrous exercises in preparation for the D-Day landings.  I am not going to talk about them either, as plenty of other better-informed people already have, and you can find all that on the net too. Somewhere on You Tube there is film footage of the event which I mean to look up.

Since I don't intend to give a review of the hotel either, some of you will probably be showing signs of frustration with me, but suffice to say that one night spent in this place cost more than the last holiday we had, which was a week in Venice at a four-star hotel including breakfast and flights. Was it worth it? That is not for me to say. It was a gift from our family and we don't look free horses in the mouth. I will say that I suspect the waiting staff are on minimum wage though. Make of that what you will.

Talking of family, Step-Daughter has just bought a little black Pomeranian dog which I have yet to meet, although I did get an introduction on Facetime last night. I have never seen a creature which does such a perfect impression of a fruit-bat before.

On the upper lawn of The Pig there is this rusting object set into one of the low pillars either side of the steps leading down to the lower, and for a while I tried to puzzle-out what it could be. Then I understood.

It is a mount for a light machine-gun pointing toward the seaward approach to the house, just in case a pesky German tried to creep up on Mr Churchill as he sat in a deckchair smoking a big, fat cigar.

Thursday, 14 October 2021


From this fortified bunker overlooking Studland Bay in Dorset, England, Winston Churchill, King George the Sixth, Field-Marshall Viscount Montgomery and General Eisenhower oversaw the practice for D-Day in 1943. What a shambles.

This was the viewing area on the inside..

... and this was the panorama they saw. I took these photos today.

Imagine their surprise to see a British Lion staring back at them.

I have been on holiday to this place this week. I will talk more about it later if you want.

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Lost boy

Part of my problem is that I am not as scared of technology as I should be.

I have not mentioned the outcome of my car's electrical problems because I DIDN'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT! ALRIGHT?!

I didn't want to talk about it because, £250 later, it turned out to be a defective battery. Before any of you begin to gloat and tell me that you suggested as much right from the beginning, I can tell you that both the original break-down mechanic and the garage which I eventually took it to tested the battery and told me that there was nothing wrong with it. I deliberately did not mention my suspicions about a faulty alarm (which the car itself told me about) so I cannot be blamed for them taking their eye off the ball. It now starts first time, I consider the matter to be closed and I will not enter into any further correspondence regarding it. Speak to my superiors.

Next on the agenda is my epic battle to get my new iPhone connected to the network. You already know part of this story, but to recap I bought the phone (second hand and reconditioned) and asked the shop to transfer all my stuff from the old one to the new. They said they would not do this so I had to do it using iCloud (you can skip this bit, Weave - actually, you may want to skip the lot, like everyone else does).

I took it home and the data swap went like a dream. It was easy... too easy.

I took the SIM (Subscriber Identity Module - I bet you didn't know that...) card out of the old phone and opened up the new one to insert it. Even though it is described as a 'micro' it was too big. I needed a 'nano'.

So I requested a new SIM from my ISP (Internet Service Provider - I bet you DID know that) and it arrived in a couple of days.

I followed all the instructions written on the envelope which came with the tiny little card and - hey presto - found that I had locked myself out of my account because I had inadvertently created a new one.

I had to use the new user-name created by them to get onto the forum to scream for help to get me back into my account. I just want to go home... I sobbed.

About a week later - with the help of a couple of my ISP's engineers and the parting with my innermost personal details, I am back in the world of Facebook, Whatsapp, Snapchat, Instagram and all the other intrusive institutions that I never use.

BUT I can make calls again.

Monday, 11 October 2021

Our saviour

In our flat, the ghost of Margaret Thatcher instinctively edges toward the power points. She is drawn. She cannot resist.

Exhausted by his 3 hour stand-up set (5 minutes longer than his closest rival), Boris has a well-earned holiday in his generous and recently ennobled friend's luxury villa in Marbella. One swimming pool just isn't enough.

He left his ministers behind to lie about talks with the Treasury to secure a future for vital industries which depend on an affordable power supplies to protect thousands of jobs producing steel. glass and paper, but that's all they were - lies.

His hero and role model - Winston Churchill - on the other hand, spent the entire Blitz in London offices and bunkers, trying to sort the whole thing out to the advantage of the British people, or rather simply just trying to save Britain.

This Prime Minister is not just ill-equipped to run a turkey (or any other sort of)  farm, he does not seem to care about anything else other than his own trousers and their ungovernable contents.

On his return he will crow - again - that he has saved Christmas by buying up a load of greenhouse gas to stun the turkeys we all pray we can buy on the most wonderful day of the year.