Archive for October, 2012

For the last two days I’ve been in New Zealand. It has been raining almost all the time and I haven’t seen any hobbits. This is not what the adverts had led me to expect. On Sunday I watched the end of a world championship triathlon in the pouring rain. J R R Tolkein never […]


With a bump

20Oct12

Many high schools require their students to wear a uniform. Apparently enforcement of this rule helps encourage good behaviour in the notoriously difficult 11-16 age group, both at school and in the community where they can be easily recognised. As I waited for the train I noticed a young lady from a local high school. […]


The best bit of Felix Baumgartner’s record-breaking freefall from 39,045 metres was this description of falling at hundreds of miles an hour through a near vacuum: “a state of suspended animation. No [sense of] acceleration, no movement, no noise, nothing. It was absolutely quiet, absolutely still, and absolutely horrifying.” These were actually the words of […]


For some reason I am pleased that just hours after the Prime Minister completed his major speech at the Conservative Party conference, the most popular item on the BBC news website is about comic stickers on the London underground. The Prime Minister appears at number 5 in the top ten list, below a crowd-pleasing tale […]


Air time

08Oct12

I don’t often stop to think about the Clean Air Acts of 1956 and 1968. But my train stopped beside a litter strewn derelict site with crumbling brick arches. The overhanging brickwork was covered in thick black soot. When I was a child all the older buildings in every city were covered in soot. I […]