2009 — 8 November: Sunday

With midnight having roared down the track towards me yet again, my photo of Christa for tonight is from September 1975, in Penzance:

Christa, 1975

A day full (as it were) of minor achievements. For the last couple of hours I've actually been catching up with (most of) the 2002 Sci-Fi channel production of "Children of Dune" which I found very good. Don't know why I left it so long, though it's fair to say Christa was never really a fan of such stuff. Personally, I thought Frank Herbert's original novel Dune is pretty near the top of the heap. I remember borrowing it from the library1 in Harpenden in 1966. I had to replace my 1968 paperback edition when it fell apart, and treated myself to a hardback in April 2001. (Peter, meanwhile, had bought himself his own copy as he was afraid mine would fall apart if he read it again! Like father, like son.)

Time for some sleep ahead of our next walk — in light rain if the BBC is correct. G'night.


I got an email recently2 that brought to mind a fine old game that could be (and was) played in IBM. It involved the so-called "Open Door"3 policy whereby an employee lacking in gruntle could appeal over the head of the immediate boss to the next one up the line. Unless the gruntle was fixed, the process could (at least theoretically) be repeated all the way up to the Chair of the Board at Galactic HQ. Tom Watson at the time, originally. (When I joined IBM in 1981 I quickly calculated that there were eleven layers in my case, the first five wouldn't even have got me a trip out of Hursley!)

An Old Hand (there were still a few of these in 1981) told me the doubtless apocryphal tale of one such game that reached (as it were) Level Six. The game was terminated when the sixth interviewer said "Look, either do it (this way) or we fire you!" And the underling said "Thank you. I'm happy now." When asked by fellow peons how he'd got on, he said, "Nobody explained it clearly until then."

Well, it's 08:55 and both grey and chilly out there. A walk awaits. Breakfast to eat, packed lunch to prepare. The day is my oyster (or something).


Tim Adams of the "Observer" seems to think he may have found the "real" Alan Bennett. Nice try.

What wusses we three are!

It's 10:04 and the frankly uninviting cold drizzle has convinced all three of us (not forgetting the fireworks-traumatised Black B[l]ob) that we'd never really wanted to go on a walk today, had we? "Bother!", said Pooh. Recall AE Housman:

The shades of night were falling fast,
   And the rain was falling faster,
When through an Alpine village passed
   An Alpine village pastor...

Well, with all this extra time on my leisurely hands, I've just read a fascinating essay on "Asperger's By Proxy" while a quarter listening to Klick and Klack, the tappet brothers. I think I've earned my next cuppa.

Accompanied by the Digital Deli. Very tasty.

Tears well before bedtime

Having been (briefly) moved to tears by one of Vince Cable's musical choices4 (let's face it, Remembrance Sunday is always going to be particularly tricky for me for the rest of my life) my mood is hardly elevated by the latest newsletter from the IBM pensions (unofficial) organisation:

The basic UK state pension is equivalent to some 16% of the average wage. This puts it low in the league table for state pensions internationally...

Newsletter #41

Now there's a surprise. The Unite union's newsflash also suggests: "It would of course be mischievous — but not misguided — to speculate whether the IBM UK Chief Executive and HR Director will receive an enhanced bonus for implementing the proposals to close the [Defined Benefit] schemes to future accrual in the UK, and if so how much".

And another thing...

I'm a long way, yet, from having explored the contents of all the boxes in all the nooks and crannies of the loft. Some are easier to get to, and deal with, than others. In one I found a (sort of) poem I wrote shortly after Peter had gone off (in 1998) up to the University of York and, consequently, his hapless parents (while revelling in some ways) were on occasion a little "down". Since I fancy myself as some sort of writer, and since I already knew from many years' observation that Christa could lift her mood by writing down the things that bothered her, I gave it a try. Click at your peril.

We could have walked today, I guess. The drizzle stopped a long time ago. Mind you, it's rather grey and chilly still. No matter. It's 15:15 and I've found a batch of vinyl LPs to investigate. I kept my record deck, but (silly me) I no longer have a phono pre-amp input I can plug its output into. "Bother!", said Pooh, again.

Well, blog me down in (supposed) hi-def. I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Just keep paying the licence fee, David, and trust Aunty BBC to get better.

Well, I never... dept.

Catching up on the excellent BBC4 "Krautrock" programme, I'm amazed to learn that Michael Rother (an early member of Kraftwerk who went on to be a member of the trio "Neu!") spent time in Wilmslow and recalled the river Bollin. (As did I and do I.) Small world, heh?



1  I also — blame the trick memory — recall that the UK hardback edition at that time spelled "Muad'Dib" inconsistently.
2  It happens!
3  Since the Open Door process went electronic in the 1990s I suspect such Doors are now virtually closed.
4  Anton Pann's Tatal Nostru — totally new to me, and also to the presenter.