2013 — 29 April: Monday

The last email I saw yesterday before heading for some sleep was from my ISP mildly pointing out that I had just breached the 50% barrier on my monthly download cap (within minutes of watching that streamed episode of HIGNFY, of course). They certainly remain on the ball. Oh, and I mistyped last night.1 That first episode of Oliver Stone's "untold" history is apparently not of the world, but 'only' of the United States. Well, the topic was World War II, so I hope my mistake's understandable. And the unfolding tale was rather cursory from non-US perspectives, I guess...

None of which explains why, when I first woke this morning, I was thinking of various events in my Dad's career. Putting hastily aside the thought that old people tend to live in the Past, of course! Ho-hum. It's a bright new day, or at least I hope it may yet turn out to be when the sun finishes coming up...

While I was checking...

... my ISP's assertions about my (not very voluminous) downloading habits I was side-tracked a little by this snippet I saw in a blog on their customer portal:


The first rule of a good conspiracy is of course "When caught out, deny. Deny. Deny." But what would I know? Besides, my own "Internet activity" remains as mundane now as it has for oh these many years. Were I a guvmint secret agent at GCHQ with the ghastly job of monitoring it I'd probably go mad2 with boredom.

Reading his...

... entertaining rant, I can't help wondering if young Charlie ever read that lovely 1954 SF story "Beep" by James Blish.

If you could zoom out beyond the moon, beyond time itself, and picture the entirety of humankind since its creation to its eventual end, and somethow (sic) witness it repeatedly pinging the phrase PLEASE AUTHENTICATE MY EXISTENCE back and forth between itself, we'd probably resemble a squirming galaxy of bees endlessly performing needy little waggle dances in front of each other, minus the useful pollen co-ordinates.

Charlie Brooker in Grauniad

"Mummy, what's a bee?" Don't bother me, child. Ask the UK's environment secretary (Owen Paterson), or his good buddies in Syngenta. They may still have some photos of the things.

It's a (still unbelievable)...

... six years — to the day! — since my last-ever picnic with Christa. I took this photo on our way home:

On the way home

We'd just enjoyed our first-ever visit to the Roman villa at Rockbourne, near Fordingbridge. It was warm and sunny. And I see the gorse was already out. [Pause] The sun is blazing away, and it's nearly time I wasn't here...

"You could", as they say...

... "have knocked me down with a feather." I see, looking back over my emails to Carol and letters to dear Mama over a decade ago that I've had occasion to mention "Equitable Life" a few times. Two brief examples:

To dear Mama: I note, too, that the Equitable Life is in trouble. I wouldn't normally take much notice, but that's the outfit good old IBM has chosen to use for its (my!) pension AVC topup scheme. (Private Eye magazine took a bit of a dig at the IBM pension scheme last week, though on an unrelated point of dubious ethical behaviour.) December 2000

To Carol: Let's see. Where was I? My "2" rating (or whatever they're currently called) will come in most handy as a 10% bonus, especially now that the horrible mortgage is a thing of the past. Mind you, most of it is already earmarked for various unworthy causes, but it is very pleasing to be free of debt, believe me. Now all I have to do is remain gainfully employed for long enough to build up a fighting chance of surviving retirement! (The IBM "additional voluntary contribution" pension topup scheme [scam?] here in the UK is with Equitable Life. Although they probably don't register on US radar screens, they have recently lost an appeal in the House of Lords with the result that they've had to close to new business in order to cover a gaping hole in their finances caused by their guaranteed level of commitment to some of their members at the cost, natch, of others... like me.) February 2001

Dates: as above

Frankly, the last thing I ever expected to see 12 years later was a letter from the rotters, let alone any of my missing money. But there on my doormat when I got back from the walk was indeed just such a letter from the "Equitable Life Payment Scheme" that has been set up by Brenda's guvmint "to make fair and transparent payments to Equitable Life policyholders for relative financial loss suffered as a result of Government maladministration in the regulation of Equitable Life". Blimey!

And I'm promised a warrant3 compensating me for 22.4% of my total relative loss (which was assessed at £936-92). Still, as dear ol' Dad used to say: "Ev'ry little helps."

Another Poliakoff...

... from 1996 that I missed at the time:

Poliakoff DVD

Now here's a thought: another seven weeks... and the nights start getting longer again! We haven't even seen any bluebells yet :-(



1  Tired, again.
2  Leaving to one side the unassailable fact that I'd already have to be mad to work there in the first place :-)
3  I shall gloss lightly over the irony that this warrant is being paid for by the taxpayers of the UK. I'm thus helping to pay myself to (partially) compensate myself for a loss caused by guvmint incompetence. What a surreal situation to be in.