2009 — 26 June: Friday

Well, it's certainly been warm. But if I have the windows open this late (it's 01:05 or so) there seems to be a particularly nasty brand of pollen floating around. My erudite reader hasn't failed me, so I now know that yesterday's Guernsey bus was an Albion "Nimbus". Not quite so ancient, however, it was built in 1960. The bodywork is very unusual, built by a little-known firm called Reading. The Albion chassis was built by Albion Motors of Glasgow, so very probably they supplied similar buses to the Orkney Islands. Thanks, John!

As for tonight's photo of Christa. Where on earth were we, I wonder? We'd obviously taken some form of picnic with us, and that's one of my dark blue denim shirts on the steps. It's from the mid-to-late 1970s, but I just don't remember where:

Christa in the 1970s

I've just seen and heard the news of the death of the singer Michael Jackson. And Farrah Fawcett (of the same illness that killed Christa). <Sigh>


Welcome wet stuff

I love summer showers in the midst of the pollen season, largely 'cos I love being able to breathe and see clearly. Others may take a different view, of course. It's already 10:32 but as I admire the steady drizzle with my morning cuppa at hand I can't say I'm in any great hurry to "get up and go" as it were. I had a positive feast of visual entertainment last night (makes a change after three novels in three days). Yesterday Mike kindly lent me a Blu-ray of Gone baby gone, the pleasingly competent1 directing debut of Ben Affleck, and based on a novel by Dennis Lehane (one of those writers I've heard of but never read). So that saw me through (as it were) the first part of the evening.

For my later show I watched the hugely enjoyable pilot of Alan Ball's True Blood. Twice. The second time with his informative commentary on the audio track. While I'm only too aware that a successful pilot doesn't always make for a hit show, this has enormous promise. And I've now ordered the first of the books to test the water, as it were.

Yesterday's caterpillar

Alas, Mike thinks he may have damaged his Nikon lens assembly — the camera fell on to the ground on our previous walk on Tuesday and the zoom sprang apart somewhat. He now finds all the shots taken yesterday to be on the "soft" side. If this is one of the ones I took it's not unknown for me to get the focus wrong, so the jury is still out. However, it's certainly true that the mechanical characteristics of his zoom are now very different so he's going to send it off to Dr Nikon. Meanwhile, here's Mr Caterpillar:


And Mr Coloured Bug (who, unless I miss my guess, is a close cousin of the Cinnabar moth I found my thrill with on Compton Hill two years ago):

Cinnabar Moth

I haven't yet decided whether to take a pic of my latest lower limb injuries!2 Mere scratches.

Browsing around, it seems Kathryn Bigelow has a new film out. Now, where's that breakfast?

And suddenly it's noon!


Given all that is going on in this crazy world of ours, I suppose I'm only slightly stunned to find the BBC's national radio news programme devoting (and I use the verb carefully) 50% of its half hour slot to the late M Jackson, Esq.

I find myself in need of some fresh air.

Vanity Radio...

... whatever next? Still David Byrne is usually interesting. It's 15:19, the store cupboard should now sustain me for a little longer, and — when I've dug out a spare DVI lead — I'll be off to claim my free cuppa from Roger and Eileen.

I was carved up twice within 200 metres on my way to do the shopping. First by a boy racer in a BMW who slammed his anchors on, hard, when he was half way across the dotted white line that he really should have stayed behind as I trundled gently along at 30 in a 30 limit. Then, as I approached the junction where I turn left, out on to Leigh Road, another boy racer turning right from Leigh Road into my road had to jiggle quite a long way over to get out of "my" lane while bearing in mind the vehicle bearing down on him that he really should not have turned in front of in the first place. Quite why I collected the glares each time... (I'd already slowed down in the second situation to give him the room he obviously felt was his by right). So, at least two chaps who would have collected serious faults on a driving test. Doesn't really comfort me, though it's oddly satisfying.

I mentioned a nice piece in the New Yorker the other day about Matthew Crawford and his "gearhead pride". I've found a further piece worth a read. The snippets here made me laugh:

But, he says, "You might be surprised how many intellectuals there are out there who haven't done a lot of higher education."

White-collar attitudes toward those who work with their hands are another story. Cousins, the mechanic-mentor praised in Crawford's book, now an international service rep for a Chicago-area forklift-truck manufacturer, often felt patronized when people learned he was a motorcycle mechanic. At dinner parties, "people were just astounded that I could hold a conversation, that I was articulate, that I read anything," he says. "That always kind of irked me."

Carolyn Mooney in The Chronicle Review

Two of the dimmest people I've ever had to work with were (both) very proud of their doctorates.

Easy answers, to the wrong questions

Having started at this quite fatuous deck of cards I soon stumbled across LEAP from which it was a short hop to the UN World Drug Report. Last week, when I'd finished answering the questions in the UK Crime Report survey on drugs, I suggested that legalising the bloody things would solve the "problem" and stop the "war" more quickly, and cheaply, than the present patchwork quilt of failed policies and initiatives. "Couldn't agree more" came the reply. This seems to be the widely-acknowledged truth that cannot be spoken, of course. As Pogo said: "We've met the enemy. And he is us!"



1  Not sure I'd want to see it again, but Christa and I would have had a very interesting debate about the (moral) choices. I only belatedly realised that the Morgan Freeman character was not quite snow white, but I agree with the Casey Affleck character's actions (as it happens). I'm not sure that any number of wrongs can ever really make a right, and the right we were being fed on a plate was a bit too simplistic. I don't know how much (Ben) Affleck did to the screenplay versus the original novel, but he's a filmmaker — I can see that. The ensemble acting was superb, and the use of the Boston locations and locals struck a very genuine note... but I gave in before half way through it and watched the rest with subtitles on.
2  Almost on top of the 48-year-old scar from one of my earliest experiments. I'd watched a programme about people wearing inverting goggles for several days, whose visual system eventually flipped over so that they once again perceived the world to be the right way up. I (perhaps foolishly) decided the nearest I could get to implementing this sensory scrambling (though god alone knows why I even wanted to try!) would be to ride my bike with my hands crossed over to invert left and right. I suspect any rider will know what's coming, of course. I was doing sort of OK about ten seconds into the speed trial until I hit the kerb. Funnily enough, I never did admit what I'd been doing. (Isn't it strange how we know things are wrong once they've gone wrong — the Iraq war, for example — but somehow convince ourselves that they are perfectly sensible upfront?)