Saturday, 15 September 2012

Photo Daily 104

A view of the cauldron you may not have seen before...all those gas pipes!

Friday, 14 September 2012

Photo Daily 103

Sometimes you really could get this close to the action...

Dream on baby...

Did any one else notice a couple of news paper reports in the last week:

One of the corgis that 'starred' in the James Bond section of the Olympics Opening Ceremony died, just as the Paralympics closed.  I wondered if fame had gone to his head and he had spent the days since he was watched by 4 billion people snorting cocaine and injecting heroin?  It does seem such a coincidence.

Another coincidence was that on the same day, 9th September, Jake Eberts died.  The name may mean nothing to you - but he was the executive producer of Chariots of Fire, the mesmerising film about the 1924 Olympics.  He was 71 and had been suffering from cancer.  Perhaps he had 'hung on' just to see one last Olympics...I would certainly like to think so.

Yesterday I saw a Facebook status from the daughter of one of my friends.  He has just be declared cancer free...I had no idea he had cancer, so am doubly delighted that he has won this battle....and I hope the war too.

Last weekend we were meeting some of my old friends for lunch, and because they're unfamiliar with London and had two kids in tow we booked a Pizza Express.  Simple, easy and nearly cheap.  Afterwards they were catching a train back to home in Devon, so Pizza Express had the added attraction of being quite quick.  The Cat's Mother and I arrived in good time, and ordered a bottle of white wine and got lost in our conversation, so didn't notice that time was ticking by until I received a text.  It was half an hour beyond the rendezvous time.  They too had arrived in good time at Pizza Express and were having a drink, where were we?  I won't say which of us had gone to the wrong one, although it wasn't us!  Fortunately they arrived shortly afterwards, and we had a very relaxing couple of hours catching up on old times - it was me that had played cupid and introduced them many, many years ago.

I've always had vivid dreams...when I was younger nightmares were an almost nightly occurrence...and even now my mind rarely seems to settle through the night.  I have some recurring dreams which would fill a large book.  Last night  I had a couple that were new and a bit of a puzzle to me as they both featured holes.

In the first I was having to put fish (large herring or mackerel or trout I think) down the waste disposal unit, the ones that didn't go down, got caught on the teeth and I had to use a metal rule to free them.  Someone was with me, but I've no idea who, and if you looked down the waste disposal unit, you could see that it simply emptied on to the concrete floor of a basement which had wooden crates or barrels dotted around the edge.  I remember being mildly concerned that the smell would become bad, but knew I had to do this; new fish occasionally appeared for me to feed into the unit.

In the second, I was in a wooden floored room with some undefined school friends.  We had already cut a hole in the floor and were going to  climb down through the hole to the room below on a rope.  We had to re-tie it to make it the right length, and then just to make sure I left the room we were in, went down some stairs to the room below to check it was the right length.  It was short, but for some reason that wasn't a problem.  And just as I realised that, a teacher came in and we were in trouble.  But not serious was a mild and friendly rebuke and everyone was happy.

So in neither case were the dreams stress-related. In fact they were quite happy, quite fun...and rack my brain as I have all this morning I can't think of anything that would have put any of the dream elements in my head.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Picture Daily 102

At the top, brilliant views over London

In the bleak mid-winter

Whilst we were in Edinburgh to watch the teens perform at The Fringe, I chatted to their headmistress.  She told the tale of how in the last term, one of the mums drove up to the school to drop off her child at the school gates.  They arrived in a very flashy, very shiny very expensive Aston Martin.  With the offspring safely through the gates, the mum got out of her car and walked over to Bill, the school maintenance man.  I'm not sure, but I suspect that bill earns thirteen or fourteen thousand pounds a year, if he's lucky.  She asked if he could  reverse the car for her as she had no idea where reverse gear was.

I shall leave it to you to draw your own conclusions; good or bad.

Having seen a very, very, very unique version of Richard III at the Globe this weekend (Shakespeare goes pantomime), it's interesting to see that they think they've found the real man's bones in a council car park.  The bones they may have, but the mystery of whether he was good or bad and just demonised by history is a long way from being solved.

I have learnt that phone calls in the middle of the night are not going to contain bad news....they are just a nuisance.  The important news always seem to wait until the dawn has broken.  When my father died, the phone rang at 7.30 in the morning, when The Boy's Mother died it was six o'clock in the morning.  So although my heart leapt and there was a bit of a panicky feeling, I knew that when my mobile and then the home phone rang, at 3.00 am, it was just 'a pain in the arse'.  A recorded message told me that there was a problem with the office alarm.  As I put the phone down, I realised that there was no way I would be able to get back to sleep, so I threw some clothes on, jumped on the motorbike and headed off to the office.  I can tell you, if you haven't ever done it, getting up at that time of the day is wonderfully exhilarating - the sounds, the smells, the light is so different than at other times of day.  There is a sense of freedom that can be found only when the normal hustle and bustle of the city is in abeyance. Obviously when I got to the office there wasn't a problem, so having checked everything, I jumped back on the bike and headed home, arriving at 5.00am.  I did get up and head into the office at around nine-ish (on the tube as I didn't think another bike ride was a good idea), but I don't know why as I spent the day in a daze, nodding off in front of the computer screen.

Even for a geek, it must be difficult to get excited about central heating.  It comes on when you want, makes you warm and goes off when you don't want.  It's usually only of interest when it goes wrong.  But yesterday I got very excited about the central heating for the Brighton flat.  British Gas came along and installed a remote control system which means that I can use my computer, or better still my mobile phone, to switch it on and off when I want.  I can turn the thermostat up and down at will...and I can tell you the temperature in the flat at any moment, night or day (19.2 degrees centigrade at seven o'clock this morning).  I realise this is sad, and remote control central heating is definitely the solution to a first world problem...but for me it's truly awesome.  And The Cat's Mother likes it too - it means that we can switch it on a few hours before we travel down so it's nice and cosy and snug for when we arrive in mid-winter.  In a small but significant way our lives have improved.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012


I knew it was watching a vulture circling a staggering antelope.

First a couple of my friends, then my ex-brother-in-law, then more friends, then me.  Yes, the hacked Hotmail account...on this occasion it just sent a link to a diet supplement website.  The first I knew about it was when I couldn't log on with my mobile, and then I got a few e-mails for family and friends asking why I had sent the link to them.  Sadly I suspect that means they clicked on the link, so probably now have a virus on their computer now.  Sorry.  This sort of thing is something that is beyond my comprehension and probably reflects that slowly, surely the modern age is catching up and overtaking me...that will truly be the sign of old age.

I read this in the New York Times:

Oscar Mayer Proposes a New Bacon as a New Currency

Many people, even those who are not New York State residents, have probably heard the lottery slogan, “All it takes is a dollar and a dream.” Now comes an actor, comedian and writer, seeking to make his way across the country in the next two weeks with only a dream and, oh, yes, instead of a dollar, a trailer filled with 3,000 pounds of a new bacon.
The actor, Josh Sankey, will embark this week on a promotion for the Oscar Mayer division of Kraft Foods that is being called the Great American Bacon Barter. 
Mr. Sankey’s trailer will be filled by Oscar Mayer with a ton and a half of its new Butcher Thick Cut bacon, which he is to trade for food, fuel, a place to spend the night and anything else he might need during his trip from the New York area to Los Angeles

It made me reach for my calculator...and with the figures from the rest of the article I worked out that this guy will have $20,000 worth of bacon.  Now I know that the Americans are different, but I reckon that even a fool could trade that amount of bacon for a thousand dollars worth of fuel and hotel accommodation.  The journalist goes on to say, it is "not unlike the stories about power barterers who start with, say, a paper clip and wind up with a house".  Err no I don't think so....if he started with one packet I might agree.

Anyway if Walls wants to offer me a couple of tonnes of bacon so I can barter my way to Rio in 2016, I'm up for the challenge.

The papers are riddled with articles about what the O/Paralympics mean and what the impact on the country will be.  Of course, they've covered the obvious - the recognition that sportspeople come in all shapes and sizes, and what matters is the fun, the excitement of competitive sport...especially when it doesn't involve 22 over-paid multi-millionaires.  But now the analyses are taking a more philosophical tone...what has happened to the British psyche - will we all change from the moaning, groaning Limeys who predicted failure, embarrassment and humiliation?  Well who can say?  I rather appreciated the ever so slightly mad Simon Barnes in The Times who said that the British had been for once been able to look at themselves in a mirror and rather liked what they saw.  I think he was probably right.  We may have had one of those 'Diana' moments - you know when suddenly it became OK to show your emotions, cry in public?  Well perhaps, just perhaps people will feel able to, want to, talk up the country they live in and the people they live with.  Perhaps through all the trials and tribulations of the last 60 years, a nation has emerged that should be proud of its achievements, confident of its place in the world order and happy with a colourful, multicultural society which is generally tolerant and mostly good natured.  Certainly if you look at the sheer numbers of people that have come away with a very positive summer experience, then there must be a strong likelihood of change.  In London, that effect is bound to be substantially more noticeable than elsewhere, simply because the experience was that much closer...everywhere you could see the Gamesmakers, the officials, the athletes, the signs, hear the sounds, recognise the sights....but hopefully the positive vibes have spread into the veins of the entire country

Daily picture post 101

All the fun of the fairground: a family portrait taken in on of Anish Kapoor's curved mirrors at the top of the Orbit in the Olympic Park

Monday, 10 September 2012

Picture Daily 100

I hit a century of picture posts...and this week whilst the rest of the world leaves the Olympics behind, I thought I wouldn' the Olympic Park