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Hello everyone. This is where I’ll be writing stuff. I’ve also got all the usual, but I’m not sure how everything will come together yet. Let’s just see how things pan out eh?

Please see the About section for other links.

Thanks

Robert.

all washed up

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Of Swallows and Summers ; Part 1

Oceans rise, Empires Fall

George III, numerous times during the musical Hamilton

And so, the normal day-to-day rivalries of the United Kingdom political scene resume after the barmy Autumn conference season. A period of time where every party looks strong, because they are only talking to people that agree with them. Now that this charade is over, I felt it worth noting a few observations on the contrasting fortunes of each of the main Parties.

The Labour Party have seen quite a rise recently:-

From this…

(Newscaper, YouTube)

 To this…

(Ned Simons, YouTube)

No more to say then really. Whatever has happened to Labour under Jeremy Corbyn has no doubt been a seismic shift. A man with overgrown hedges, a bike, and who looked like a geography teacher, survived a gripping and brutal leadership challenge from Billy what-was-his-name ; and whom most saw as a laughing stock and who would lose convincingly at the 2017 election.

I did a search on Google just after polling day, and couldn’t find many recipes for a few slices of humble pie. Whether politics is akin to a movie trailer is a discussion for another day.

Slogans mean nothing really?

I’ve always found it bizarre how we can be so easily swayed by a slogan. For Labour it is: For the many, not the few. Wow! Genius! But think about it. What major political party in its right mind would prophecise the exact opposite?

Perhaps, in order to be all-inclusive, should the statement not preach to the whole? To find a way of meeting the needs of everyone.

Now, where I have I seen that before?

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2016…
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The 2017 Version, minus the privileged few

So, the Conservative slogan has subtly changed, perhaps suggesting that they can be all inclusive. For that reason, maybe it is important after all. And there is no doubt, Labour are seen as the party of the common man.

The Elephant stood on the stool in the corner of the room balancing a ball on his trunk

Brexit. Just like world peace. Or the current state of your football team. So many people want to talk about it. So many have a few on how it can be fixed, but very few of them offer a practical balanced view that is truly going to work for all sides involved.

There’s nothing wrong wanting to protect the rights of workers (mostly I would think by adopting the EU laws that were introduced to do just that). There’s nothing wrong attempting to protect manufacturing and not allowing the country to become that tax-free haven we are led to believe the Conservatives will turn us into.

But to do so, you therefore surely need to adopt a similar relationship with what we currently have – like tariff-free trade. Something that is likely to involve agreeing to freedom of movement, which was a major motivation for the vote in the referendum in the first place.

Back to square one anyone? Whatever the avenue you start down, it leads somewhere that resembles a large, slimy Octopus with never-ending tentacles.

Unless we remain with the status quo, everything suggests that whatever happens might be good for some sectors, but not others. Not everyone. Not even the many?

Either way, it’s not likely to be pretty. And I wonder if the country’s mood is to let somebody else have a crack, now that the others have started on the path to whatever.

Labour claim that the Conservatives are chaotic. That may be true, at least from outside the inner circle. The other and more obvious truth (which the public does need to realise) is that the art of the compromise is a very special one indeed.

I’m not really sure either side are that certain of their position.

Protecting Public Services

I find it difficult to believe that any party would not want to improve public services, but Labour (well, the clue is in the name really) have the upper hand.

Throw money at the problem, employ more people in these (almost crippled, if you believe the rhetoric) services, and the problem goes away.

The alternate view is often what I’d think as the Business View. Put simply, you must be able to make the same people achieve more by making them do more per day (or creating “efficiencies”. It stands to reason that this method, whilst it could have impressive early results, soon leads to low morale as those in the large chairs start to expect more. After all, if you are now used to doing that extra bit more now, why can’t we squeeze a little bit more out?

Money must be spent. But you don’t just throw money at a problem and expect it to be fixed. But the money does need to be managed. The system does need to be modernised. It does need to be made more efficient. I this case, by efficient, I mean by providing better means for people to work together rather than expecting them to just do more. But it needs to be done in the right way.

So the new Chief inspector of Hospitals says..

The big question though is whether as a whole we trust the new lot to do any better when they do have the money.

Nationalisation

I only have to look out of the window when it rains a bit to notice a mere waterfall piling down the street. I’m surprised I don’t see a couple of white-water canoeists sailing past. The drains are woefully inept. It is obvious to me that these services have literally gone down the drain because of the needs to please shareholders, not everyone else.

Sad face.

But what of the likes of Gas and Electricity production? The same company always comes round when there is a problem, not somebody from the company that I pay to “provide” it. Therefore is it not better for me to be able to pick and choose who does so, and get a better price?


Part 2 coming next week, where I’ll look at where the money comes from, and what on earth is likely to happen next.

 

Sporting Legend No 1

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It’s Edson Arantes do Nascimento!

It is the 13th August 2017. Upon reflecting on the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious career of Usain Bolt in light of last nights’ “Pull up”*, I thought I would embark on an infrequent series thinking about the true sporting legends. Those that transcend what they achieved in the field of play.

So, I challenged myself to consider the three finest moments in the glittering career of one Mr. Pele. And I did just that.

Moment number 1

1970. World Cup. Group Stages. Brazil vs England. Jairzinho puts up a superb, hanging cross from the right hand side. Pele leaps, gazelle-like, powering a header downwards towards goal. I was only about five years old when I first saw this, and the ball shot towards the back of the net like a bullet. Only it didn’t hit the back of the net. That was because England ‘keeper Gordon Banks had scrambled across and down in time to divert the ball over the bar and to immediate safety. Wow.

Moment number 2

1970. World Cup. Again. Brazil vs Czechoslovakia. Pele, around the half way line, tries his luck, just wide of Ivo Viktor’s post. He was struggling, there’s no doubt. Wow.

Moment number 3

1970. World Cup. Yep. That thing again. Brazil vs Uruguay. Ball comes through towards Pele from the left. He dashes in (from the right) towards onrushing ‘keeper Mazurkiewicz. Will he get there in time to prod the ball away from his opponent? Of course he won’t. Instead he pulls the Worlds’ most audacious dummy leaving poor Ladislao flat on his arse (although he did manage to get up and start to run back), whilst he runs around him and off towards the ball. He manages to flick it towards goal from a difficult position on the right of the goal (with a special mention to defender Atillo Ancheta for his desperate attempt to stop the ball, but just ended up rolling past the post). GOAL!! Surely? Agonisingly, the ball flies past the post.

So there we have it. Three of my greatest Pele moments. Sure, they were all from 1970 but I was a child of that decade and simply could never watch anything back in black and white!

And then I realised. Each and every one of my greatest memories of that legend called Pele, was when he missed….

*For those reading this article in 2098, Usain Bolt was a runner. A great runner, and a fast one. In his final ever race (the 4 x 100m relay) he pulled up with a hamstring injury. Shame really, he was great.

Thanks to all video posters.

 

 

 

Things I Learn – episode 1

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Mr Fawlty , you always say that I learn….

An occasional series. How occasional depends on how much I learn. After all that’s what it’s all about isn’t it? Learning..

I’ve been on holiday recently and I’ve picked up a couple of pointers.

It doesn’t have to be this way

By that, I mean sunbeds, or sun loungers for those in the middle classes. Allocation thereof can be a refined process, without having to get up at six o’clock in the morning in order to “bagsie” one, ready for the day of sun worship ahead. Also, I realised that pool areas can be a quiet, and tranquil place. One where actually speaking sounds loud. And singing through a snorkel mouthpiece is definitely a big no-no.

This seems to be a thing

I can see the practicality, but cannot see the point. I’ve always been happy laying my towel neatly on the sun bed/lounger, disappearing for a well earned, cooling dip in the pool/sea, then returning to my point of rest to dry off. Without really affecting the state of the towel underneath. So, why is there a need to peg the towel to the top end with two rather large pegs? Seems to me that some company somewhere has seen a gap in the market that doesn’t exist, and have somehow been able to fill that non-existent gap.

Also, note to self : Magnums are cheaper from a supermarket than a hotel.

The art of conversation

When in a foreign land, there is nothing more beautiful than the sound of multiple languages being spoken. Of course, without language, without communication, our very civilisation would be set back hundreds, if not thousands or millions of years back.

The Atlantic Ocean is colder than the Mediterranean Sea

I don’t think there’s much more to say on this subject. You do get used to it, eventually. And, it has the added bonus of making the hotel pool feel like it has just been warmed by molten magma when you return.

Milk isn’t hard to find

I found this ritual at breakfast quite amazing. The number of people asking for a jug of milk to go with their tea. Fair enough? Well, I timed it. It took between five and seven minutes. It took me thirty seconds to walk to the central service stations, pour from one of the many jugs of milk on offer into a glass, walk back to my table, and pour it into my tea. Wonder what people would do if their shoelaces became untied.

p.s. I deeply pity the poor young lady whose aglet got stuck on the stairs when boarding the plane.

All enjoyable nonetheless.

 

 

 

Who is Bear part 2

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Can you see him?

Last time, I covered Bear’s first appearance on UK television.

Bear was very proud of his first break in the industry. This came at a price though, and soon he found that the work dried up and he was left somewhat in the wilderness.

Just two weeks after hitting the small screen, he was invited to play Aladdin at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton.

“A six week stretch,” he told me.

He immediately found that, although being on television gave him a buzz, there was nothing like the thrill of treading the boards. Even though it was only pantomime. He told,me that he met many famous people whilst on duty. It was slowly becoming the golden era of the reality TV celebrity, but a little research did show that some people I’d even heard of appeared in the show.

“The audience was fantastic. They would cheer and clap every time I came on.” Bear beamed as he told me this.

But unfortunately, this lead to a bit of a problem. Bears are Bears after all, and not human. Especially the slightly tubby ones with little legs.

“Mommy and Daddy Bear always told me it was something to do with how I was made. Anyway, the problem is that when Bears stand around under really bright lights for more than twenty minutes, they.. well, let’s just say that they let out a little trickle of wee.” He genuinely struggled to hold back the tears as he recalled.

Normally, Bears live in woods, with very few people watching. More specifically, not a theatre full of about three hundred screaming children – baying for the blood of Jafar, desperately wanting an increasingly bungling Aladdin (for comic effect of course) to succeed.

“In the woods, when the sun comes back out, it dries you up. But, in the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton, I did not have this luxury. At first the children though it was hilarious. Laugh out loud funny. Or, L.O.L, if you prefer. I know that David Cameroon thought that means lots of love, but I know!”

By now, Bear had lost concentration, and was starting to follow a fly instead. It was only when it landed on his head, and he attempted a hard swat, that he seemed to snap himself out of it. Once he had stopped crying.

The children generally found the patches of urine funny, very funny indeed. After all, who wouldn’t? After a short while though, there was quite a puddle deposited on stage, and those at the front were starting to complain that Aladdin was starting to “smell of wee,” and that they wanted to go home.

“Every time I came back on stage, the audience would start to boo. It was really hard to take.”

Two days later, Arthur Moron (he isn’t, or at least I don’t think he is – Bear didn’t give any indication either way) came to deliver the fateful news. That it was not really working out, and that Bear was relieved (no pun intended) of his duties. Ticket sales had plummeted after word had got round.

“I was gutted. Mommy and Daddy Bear stopped being proud of me, although they did say that they understood.”

Arthur had contacts in TV, particularly the BBC. The producers of Outnumbered found out, and Bear was dropped. He was literally high and dry.

Bear did not follow that path though.

“I was very upset with the man at the BBC. He didn’t even tell me face to face. I just got a letter. ”

The letter simply read:

Dear Bear,

You are fired.

Sorry.

Love

Man at the BBC

“I’m not very proud of this. I should’ve gotten some help, but I did turn to the Whiskey. It became my best friend.”

Luckily, Bear had another two.

“Pengy Wengy, my friend out of my book, is a doctor. He sat me down and told me some very horrible things. Then he said those things weren’t horrible because he was being horrible to me. My other friend from the book, Baby Bear, also said some bad things. Really, really naughty. But he was only doing it to help.”

It took a few long months of intensive care, but Bear came through the other end.

“I was so happy they told me all of the bad things. I can’t repeat what they were. The words are so rude, it is not right for a Bear of my stature to say. At the start of that few long months, I was lying in a gutter, repeatedly pushing my paw in my belly button shouting about cheese. At the end, I was sitting up straight, able to look straight ahead.”

So much so, his medical compadre was able to hand him a life line. He’d just helped out the new Director of Programming at Channel Five. Given an opportunity for payback, he thought he would chance it and allow Bear a way back.

Thankfully, he obliged, allowing Bear to appear in a great new series where couples tried out the holiday homes (or caravans) of others. They would then rate them. A bit like Come Dine With Me for caravans. Or Come Dine with me for couples … etc… etc…

Bear appears in episode four, as pictured.

“The man at the channel was really nice to me. He said to just be myself and enjoy it. I certainly did. As you can see, I am totally different. I do not have my bottom in the air, and I am sat up, loud and proud. My eyes are wide open and I’m completely conscious.”

A corner was turned, and Bear was back on the way up.

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You can read more about Bear’s escapades during the early days of computing in My ZX Spectrum (and other stories), more details on the About page.

 

 

The art of fakery

Thanks for listening to the podcast. We’d just love it if you’d give us a five star review on iTunes

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Not quite. Or just quite?

So end most of the podcasts that I listen to. I hate giving reviews. I hate giving someone a number. I much prefer the accompanying text to provide the mayonnaise  infused with chilli and lime applied to the ham, slipped between the two slices of thinly buttered bread. Suffice it to say it is the power of the words, not the number of stars that tells the story.

What does five star even mean? Does it mean that it met expectations, in which case some might argue it hides mediocrity? Or did it far exceeded expectations, in which case a value of three wouldn’t actually be all that bad? Well, the only answer must be that it doesn’t matter.

The description provides a much better context. Sometimes. Take for example the one-star review for a product that did everything it was expected to do and more. Just unfortunately it came via the reviewer’s least favourite courier. Or the one-star rating for a hotel that was “perfect in every way”, but there just happened to be a longer than expected walk into town, or the flight arrived late.

Maybe I’ll backtrack on that. The comments did provide context. Perfectly so. Enough to realise that the score related to the experience about as much as that thing that didn’t actually relate to that thing that it was meant to relate to.

It pains me to read many a blog post where it seems that the author is becoming increasingly desperate in the pursuit of feedback. Comments. Please tell me you like what I’m writing. Please tell me you like me? Most people, me included, like to read, like what they read, but don’t really feel compelled to comment on it.

Great post, dude!

Just press the like button instead – it means the same thing. I’ve heard some say that it is less valued to do so, instead of writing something, because writing something takes more effort. Only true, as long as the effort taken to make the writing spits out something of any use to the reader.

Just like this crap.

So, I’m sorry to the podcasters that I have failed to leave a review for. I feel equally sorry for those that have complained on the next episode, and completely trashing my (well-critiqued, and very fairly presented) effort when I have.

What about me?

Well this blog is clearly here because I have written three stories, and have them available on-line for purchase (or for free if borrowed using the Kindle Borrower library).

That said, I will not ask for feedback. I will not bay for comments. If you want to comment, great. If you want to give feedback, great. If you want to press the like button, great. If you want to rate, great.

If you want to find out more about where to go to, that information is available.

But if you do go on to find out more, two words for you.

Thank you.


 

stickers
They look happy..

And now just a final thought that made me smile. Much has been made of the quality of sign writing recently. You know what I mean. Fish and Chip’s. That type of thing. Well, the other day, I saw the opposite.

Driving along, I noticed a sticker on the car in front. I was particularly attracted by a cartoon of a dinosaur, probably a T-Rex. The T-Rex has very small “hands”, and so would find it hard to clap. So, the premise of this comedy sticker revolves about that well known verse about being happy and clapping your hands if you are. The T-Rex isn’t because he can’t.

IF YOU ARE HAPPY AND YOU KNOW IT CLAP YOUR…OH!

Read the sticker. So, the purveyor of the sticker in question clearly had a dilemma. Not quite sure of the abbreviation for “You are” – is it “Your”, is it “You’re”? So they played safe and created their own, unabridged version!

The strange thing is that they got the second one right! Could they not just have Googled it??

 

Why?

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Exactly what I was thinking.

It’s not a question I ask very often to be honest. I’ve just completed and self-published my third story. I’ll not call them novels because that would give the impression that I see myself as a novelist, or at least a proper one. One that does it for a living. And one which I greatly admire.

My answer is simple. It’s because for me it doesn’t matter. I have the other job. Writing my stories is just for fun. A hobby. I have no need to try to “find” myself.

It didn’t send me on a downward spiral, under constant pressure to get the next part completed before my next release of the downpayment. It did not lead to a destruction of any relationships. It could have, if I think about it, but it didn’t have to be important enough to me for that to be the case.

I started on Your faith.. just to see what it might be like. I had a small idea, a start and an end with no middle, but wanted to see where I could take it. As I’ve alluded to in a previous post, it went through a number of iterations. I liked the idea of doing a diary based effort, as I’m no Dickens when it comes to expression. I like to use certain words, and I like to use them over and over again! And that is exactly what somebody would do when writing a journal, so it appeared to be a perfect storm. The imagination was certainly there, and the characters found themselves in many a situation and circumstance at a quite alarming rate.

I found it easier to write late evening time. I even managed to carefully select different Spotify playlists to match the particular mood I was trying to convey through the character. It’s quite amazing the amount of music from times gone by you rediscover. And quite a bit of crap as well.

Back to the point, this (and indeed the other stories) were “side of the desk” activities. As a result, they all took a longer time to complete than I would’ve liked, but all followed a similar pattern to my first effort in terms of how they came to fruition.

I relly cannot begin to imagine the amount of dedication shown by people who do this type of thing for a living. Especially those who are just managing to do so. Always awaiting that next advance. Where a “writer’s block” really can make all the difference.

Whilst I do intend to increase efforts to publicise the stories around the internet, I am realistic to know that (a) being “best selling” on a self-publishing or electronic platform is not the same as using a publisher and (b) that there is so much stuff of the same type out there, and discovery is so, so difficult. Almost equivalent to landing heads a hundred times out of a hundred on the toss of a coin.

Luck indeed. Certainly with the first two, although the third may at least gain some interest, should someone have a hankering to return to the by-gone days of the home computer.

So, back to the question at hand. Why?

I guess it was just to see what it was like. It has been a journey, and I’m happy with the resulting 0.24 royalty every year.

But to those doing this for a living – hats off to you all my friends!

 

My wish for the 12th September 2017

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That’s a very colourful Apple

I’m sure that people have many a wish for the upcoming apple event.

A full-screen on a new phone, some cameras on the front that can apply your emotion to an emoji and animate it. A bigger screen. A new fancy colour. Glass on the back. Lighter. Faster. Cheaper.

Another look at the cylinder that can play music really loud and will listen when you talk to it.

A view of the iMac Pro?

Another watch?

The one more thing?

If I had the superpower of having my one wish granted, it would be this.

Please, please resize the iPhone SE so that it is 4.7″.

I feel that the SE is a master stroke. A means of providing an under-powered (compared to the very latest, but still very able) phone that was still an Apple one. We are coming up to the fourth iteration of the larger style phones, and this could be an opportune moment to bump up the size, perhaps keeping the innards similar to that of the 6S or even the 6. In short to effectively re-launch that phone!

I recently saw my phone against an old 4S. The screen on that looked tiny! The 5 family were the only ones produced at the increased size, before they did so again. That was only three iterations.

4.7″ really does now feel like the new normal small size for a modern phone. I doubt that the SE will even be mentioned within the latest presentation. But I’m crossing my fingers and toes, in hope that they will provide a little more love to their cheapest in the range.

Edit : So, they kept the 6S going at a lower price, which almost fulfilled my wishes. Then I found an iPhone 6 32GB from John Lewis at £329!! Smiley Face.