2015 — 5 October: Monday

Wet? Check. Dismal? Check. Dark? Check.1 I have a pair of letters to post (when did it start costing 12 shillings in 'real' money for a single first-class stamp?) to kick off the transfer of legal responsibility for the Toyota Yaris to Junior. Watching a few umbrellas toddling by, I can think of nothing else to tempt me outside just for the moment.

Work? Who needs that on a day like this? :-)

It's annoying...

... to discover that the salient feature of my new stainless steel kitchen sink — at least hinted at by the adjective "stainless", I rather hoped — counts for nothing in my kitchen (unless, of course, I put nothing on it, or near it, at any time). But there are worse things to contend with. Jenny Diski's latest instalment of her memoir makes my point. (Link.)

Skara Brae

There's a truly beautiful photo of this tiny "village" atop a peculiarly depressing piece on education by Michael Rosen. I visited these primitive dwellings in the summer of 1959 — at a primitive time when they were definitely not on the National Curriculum. Which must have been why I then got the job of 'explaining' them to my less-than-entranced classmates. Talk about the blind leading the blind.

Speaking of child abuse education in the UK, how's this?


"Good God!" How does one "teach" something called "religious education" in any case? Equal time for all faiths? Time in proportion to number of deluded adherents, globally? Time in proportion to damage inflicted? What possible point could there be unless the Flying Spaghetti Monster is included? Just askin'.

I could spend...

... many hours watching ants. But it would never have occurred to me to pour molten aluminium into their nests. Art, heh?

Time ticks on

Three and a half years after buying the first edition of "The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction" (click the pic!) I bought my second book by Peter Nicholls...

That's more Chris Foss artwork on the cover, of course

... on the same day that I bought my first book2 featuring the work of Robert Mapplethorpe. The Smithsonian magazine now reminds me it's been quarter of a century since the disgraceful farce of an obscenity trial in Cincinnati — "the first time a museum was taken to court on criminal charges related to works on display" — that attempted to brand him as a pornographer. Blimey. Though I suspect Mapplethorpe has yet to feature on the National Curriculum. Give it time.

Today's burst...

... of fresh air'n'exercise concluded — posting letters, recall, plus I wanted to see exactly what's going on at the far end of the Chalvington Road upheavals — I've time to enjoy what I really hope isn't merely an apocryphal tale from the "SF Globe" back in January:

Southern justice

Mint Julep, anyone?

Here's a post-prandial thought:

My diary has just allowed me to fill in missing dates on a pair of TV arts programmes I recorded seven years ago.

Who knows? I may even watch them again :-)

Having snaffled...

... my latest batch of Jenni Diski pieces from the London Review of Books, I decided it was probably time to tidy up my random3 (but ever-growing) collection of "interesting" web pages I've been simply throwing — via the Firefox "Save complete web page" option — into a folder called, logically enough, "From the web". En passant whereas Windows would move both an HTML file and its corresponding subfolder of any associated resources to a new location, Linux moves the top-level file without these associated resources. Not a very neat trick, in my opinion.

Just as "PC David Copperfield" documented (in the book of the original blog "Wasting Police Time") the horrible nature of the daily bureaucratic processes that now clog up the UK justice system, so Frank Chalk documented (in his book "It's your time you're wasting") the horrible nature of the daily bureaucratic processes that now clog up the UK educashun system. Gadfly Theodore Dalrymple took a pop at the latter:

It surely requires some explanation that, in a country that expends $5,200 a year for 11 years on each child's education, a fifth of children leave school virtually unable to read or write, let alone do simple arithmetic. It takes considerable organization to achieve so little...
As an epigraph to his book, Chalk quotes the British deputy prime minister, John Prescott. In that great man's immortal words, which tell you everything about the caliber of the British government that you really need to know, "If you set up a school and it becomes a good school, the great danger is that everyone wants to go there." And that would never do.

Date: Winter 2007 issue of "City Journal"



1  Could it be anything but autumn? But the tea is hot, and the Gershwin gently excellent.
2  I reckon people have had enough time, by now, to discover the connection between the subject of that book and dolphin guy John C Lilly.
3  Tidying up has been (predictably) delayed by some pleasing discoveries. My mind was largely on other things at the time.