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Blog : Posts from April 2007 : Page 2

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Beside the seaside (part two)

In which there are more photos of the Wirral shore


Paddlers Lifeguards H
H West Kirby Running dog

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Life in front of the telly

In which we get a bit pedantic


I was expecting to be disappointed by the ending of Life On Mars, and, of course, I was. There was no way, to my mind, that they could wrap everything up and leave everyone happy, because too many contradictory things had gone before.* The ending I had in my head was, to my mind, a better one, but that of course is because it’s the sort of ending I like.

Still, at least, the ending was a lot braver than many that could have been written – braver for the BBC to produce, I mean, not necessarily braver for the writers to write. And the “it was all in his head all along” resolution is a handy get-out clause for all the little anachronistic niggles that pedants like me notice – there’s no way a Victorian stonemason would have used nicknames like “Sam” and “Vic” on a tombstone; the game of noughts and crosses on the TV test card was wrong; and those maroon railway vans were 10 years out of date for ’73, they should have been blue to match the engine.** Like I said with Doctor Who the other week: it’s all entertainment, and we shouldn’t try to read to much into it. There’s no point searching for hidden messages, Baconian-style, when the writer is here to tell us there aren’t any.***

* specifically, episode one of series two, where the audience is at least led to believe that Sam’s behaviour in “1973” can radically alter the present day.

** which was, at least, pretty much correct for the period, albeit not entirely

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Beside the seaside (part one)

In which we provide photos


As promised yesterday

West Kirby Lake Water West Kirby
West Kirby Post Beach on the Dee

(Incidentally, we have no idea what caused the neon lines in the second photo, but we definitely didn’t see anything like that when the picture was taken)

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The returner (again)

In which we go to the seaside


And, I’m back, myself. From an Easter Weekend away. We went out on an excursion through the Wallasey tunnel,* to the seaside. Photos to come later in the week. H thought about walking out to sea, to wade across to the Hilbre Islands, but the tide wasn’t quite right, and the water started creeping up to the knee.

Apart from that, we relaxed, unwound, wound up again, that sort of thing. And ate lots of chocolate, jelly and cake, of course, because it’s seasonal. Are there any festivals which aren’t used as an excuse to eat something, even if it’s something not very impressive?

* Fellow Sinister veterans will be pleased to know that I did hum Marx And Engels to myself as we drove.

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The returner

In which we have a visitor


A quiet afternoon at the office yesterday. Everyone sitting around waiting for the bank holiday weekend to start. And then, the bell rings.

Someone’s back.

It’s Big Dave.

He wandered round the office, saying hello to everyone, complaining about how noone would let him get away, looking slightly dazed as everyone stopped work and gathered around him.

He was only visiting, which sadly means I still won’t be able to fill this blog up with vicarious stories about the women he’s slept with and the men he’s beaten up. In fact, he didn’t seem to have many things to tell us at all, aside from: his new job is great, he gets on with everyone, and he’s really enjoyed the past three months since he left. It was strange to see him back here, especially next too Wee Dave. In many ways, Wee Dave is the Anti-Big-Dave, so I was kind of expecting an explosion and puff of smoke if they ever did meet, the two mutually vanishing in some quantum space-time event.

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Bundled away

In which we see someone get lost and disappear


As we got back home at half-three in the morning, I noticed a man sitting on the other side of the street, sitting on a front-yard wall. I’m always wary of people loitering in the small hours. We got out of the car, and I could hear him mumbling, his hand to his head. I assume he was talking on the phone. I couldn’t make much of it out.

“Yeah, I’m just off Sunk Island Road somewhere. Yeah.”

Which he wasn’t. In fact, he was nowhere near Sunk Island Road. He was on Iambic Ave, which is off Pentameter Road West, which is on entirely the wrong side of the city. Here’s a map. It’s not a very good map, but it’s a map nevertheless:

Pentameter Rd. W. —— Pentameter Rd. —— city centre —— Sunk Is. Rd.
< ------------------------ a long long long long way ------------------------>

Flash forward. Twelve hours later. We’d been out again, and we’d come back again. And as I was parking the car, I noticed a man sitting on the other side of the street, sitting on a front-yard wall.

I looked at him.

I wasn’t sure it was the same man. Similar clothes. It had been too dark to get a look at him.

Just as we were getting the shopping out of the boot, up pulled two police cars, one with its rear side window missing. No glass there; the space was filled with a metal grille. They stopped alongside the man sitting asleep on the wall. I watched the coppers approach him, one holding his handcuffs out of sight behind his back. As one of them checked all the rubbish bins in the yard, the others scooped him up and walked him into the waiting car. Bundled away, as if he was never there.

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Lecturing

In which we discover a hidden talent


I was still thinking idly about teaching H how to drive, the other day, when Colleague K came down to Room 3B (The IT Office) and said: “FP, do you know algebra? Wee Dave said you would.”

“Why?”

“Well, it’s just that my daughter’s got her GCSEs coming up, and she’s stuck on algebra, and I don’t know how to do it so I can’t help her.”

So, I took half an hour out to scribble down some basics about solving linear and simple quadratic equations, the sort of thing I assume everyone knows anyway. Ten pages later I had some rough notes on algebra done, making it as simple as I could, trying to explain why it all works instead of just giving the textbook answer. And she seemed to like it.

“Wow, FP, this is really good! Even I can understand it! Did you really just do all this off the top of your head?”

“Erm, yes, it’s only what I remember from when I was at school myself.”

“You should go into teaching or something!”

Which I’m not going to do. You have to work with children, annoying children who don’t want to work with you and don’t want to listen to what you have to tell them. But it set me thinking: why don’t I put notes on that sort of thing up on here? How to solve GCSE maths problems, or how to drive a car, or program a computer; that sort of thing. I could call it The FP Lectures, or something like that. And they’d have all the obvious stuff that noone ever tells you, because, to people who know it already it’s as obvious as breathing, too obvious to be worth teaching.

The only problem, of course, is finding the energy to actually do it.

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Bigger on the inside

In which we play “spot the plot hole”


Whilst we’re kind of on the subject, from yesterday: Doctor Who.

Who’s this Saxon chap, then? What’s he up to, and what’s he going to turn out to be? Some dirty politicking with an eye to mad-eyed global supremacy, is my guess to the first. The second: well, it could be anything really.

As to the episode itself: I’m sure Russell T Davies has a machine hidden in his basement somewhere which stamps out little, villainous old ladies. It’s not that he uses them a lot, just that when he does, they are instantly recognisable, always virtually the same as each other. The whole thing was: well, nothing special. What was going on with the Doctor temporarily dying from lack of blood, then being revived by CPR? How did that work? If people in the middle of the hospital were on the verge of death when it was returned to Earth, did any actually die? It would take a while, after all, for oxygen levels in the centre of the building to return to normal. What about people investigating the big crater the hospital left behind it – were they all squished when it returned? Answers on a postcard to Symbolic Towers, 4 Iambic Avenue… OK, maybe I’m being slightly too serious. It’s entertainment, after all. Doctor Who has always had plot holes, and it always will; I shouldn’t expect it to be harder-than-hard SF because it clearly never has been that. It did entertain me, and that’s all I should ask for.

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Seasonal factoids

In which we try to be misleading


The world’s largest supply of garlic butter is in the centre of the city of Kiev, Ukraine.

Around 8% of hazel trees are carnivorous.

Jacques de Molay, last known Grand Master of the Knights Templar, invented a method for softening butter by adding hydrogenated vegetable fats. The global dairy industry now channels large amounts of money to the Priory of Sion, the Templars’ underground successor organisation.

The phrase “This tape will self-destruct in five seconds” is never mentioned in the entire first series of TV show Mission: Impossible.

The modern standard housebrick’s size is derived from the length of the radius bone of Egyptian pharoah Tuthmoses IV, who had unusually short arms.

Doctor Who once featured a companion in the shape of a penguin.

The distances to destinations on British road signs are systematically under-estimated, in a (slightly futile) attempt to make the population in general more optimistic.

(but which of these factoids are indeed true?)

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