24 February 2007

A quick trip to a small gallery

After the Stop the War march I made a quick trip to the small Cafe Gallery in Southwark Park which was holding a brief exhibition of works by final year students of the Royal College of Art.

My main reason for going was to look at the latest work by young Czech Artist Tereza Buskova and it is her print "The Crown of Darkness" that is shown here. I bought one of her earlier works last year and it is on the sitting room wall next to me as I write this.

It was worth going as Tereza's picture looks so much better in the flesh than it does here. I particularly liked the colours in the headdress which are predominantly marine blue and gold.

I also liked some of the other stuff there, including some very large black and white pictures, one a montage of a silhouetted figure and the others made of many small rectangles. Trust me, they looked better than that sounds!

Stop the War march

Today I joined the tens of thousands that marched from Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square to protest against the government's stance on a range of related issues, i.e. Iraq, Iran, replacing Trident and Palestine.

I went on the 2 million march when the Iraq war started and also went on some of the subsequent ones but the last march I went on was a couple of years ago when George Bush was staying in the UK. So another march was long overdue and I am very glad that I went to show how strongly I feel on these important topics.

As with previous marches, there were several discrete groups of people there. There was the age 60 plus group who are long-time protesters against all things nuclear (I am a member of CND too), lots of students and nationals from the relevant countries. Somewhat absent were the 30s/40s, they were probably too busy shopping!

18 February 2007

Coram Boy

One of the reasons for living in London is to have easy access to a wide variety of experiences, including the arts, and we make a reasonable effort to take advantage of this by going to museums, galleries, concerts and plays. And a few times every year we force some of this culture on our offspring and take them too.

Often this is over the Christmas period when there are, unsurprisingly, more things on that are suitable for children and they have less school work to do. This year we took them to see Coram Boy at the National Theatre. It was excellent!

Philip Pullman (whose Dark Materials we saw at the NT a couple of years ago), describes the play better than I could, "A rich and almost Gothic drama unfolds, full of dastardly villains, cold-hearted aristocrats, devoted friends and passionate lovers, and set against a background of cruelty, music and murder."

All I can add is that it kept our family of four, including two teenage boys, enthralled for three hours.

17 February 2007

Gloster Javelin

I was born in Leeds because dad was stationed in Yorkshire with the RAF at that time. He and mum lived in married quarters in Church Fenton and then in Leconfield until I was five years old when dad left the RAF after completing his twelve years service to become a teacher.

For the last part of his RAF career dad was a navigator on Gloster Javelins with the mission to keep the Russian bombers away.

The Javelin was part of my early childhood and there are still several pictures of them in dad's house now. So it was with some delighted that I found this Javelin website.

It's open!

This is the Bentalls Centre in Kingston upon Thames and all the people queuing in the line were waiting for the new Apple shop to open!

We got there about ten minutes before the shop was due to open expecting to see about twenty other geeks waiting to worship at the technology shrine but found ourselves in a queue of a few hundred instead.

Still, we got there in a little under half an hour and got our free Apple t-shirts. They had 1,000 t-shirts to give away and they all went in about an hour.

13 February 2007

I made the front page (of Utility Week)

I was rather chuffed when looking at the Utility Week website that they use this image rather a lot as I wrote the cover story! I'm not sure why they are still using it as it must be four years old by now as I wrote it two employers ago.

The story itself was based on a conference presentation that I had given on utility pricing models, which is still available here.

10 February 2007

Petitioning Tony Blair

Petitions have long been sent to the Prime Minister by post or delivered to the Number 10 door in person. You can now both create and sign petitions on this website too, giving you the opportunity to reach a potentially wider audience and to deliver your petition directly to Downing Street.

These are some of the ones that I signed today:
  • We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to champion the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, by not replacing the Trident nuclear weapons system. sign it here
  • We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Abolish all faith schools and prohibit the teaching of creationism and other religious mythology in all UK schools. sign it here
  • We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to recognise that music and dance should not be restricted by burdensome licensing regulations. sign it here
And here are some of the ones that I did not sign!
  • We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Scrap the planned vehicle tracking and road pricing policy.
  • We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to replace the national anthem with 'Gold' by Spandau Ballet.
  • We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to repeal the Hunting Act 2004.

9 February 2007

My first house is for sale

I bought my first house when I was 25 after being gently forced out of the family home. I had been away to university but had then got a job back at home and so stayed with my parents.

I worked during the day, went out with my mates during the evening and slept during the night, for which I paid my parents £50 a month rent.

This arrangement worked well for me, i.e. I had a comfortable B&B, but mum thought that as I was earning quite well that I should buy a house. so she found one for me and I bought it. That was in 1982 and it cost me £22,000. I lived there for about four years during which time I got married and got a new job in London with Logica; both of which prompted us to look for a new house. We moved up to Kingston upon Thames in 1987 having sold the house in Weymouth for £35,000.

My sister, who now lives just around the corner from my first house, has just told me that the house is for sale again, this time it's on the market for £235,000!! This is what the estate agent says about it.

An opportunity to purchase a quite unique detached property situated close to Weymouth town centre and all its associated amenities. Benefiting from Upvc double glazing, gas central heating and valuable off road parking space, the accommodation in brief comprises of four bedrooms, lounge, kitchen/diner and bathroom. Internal viewings are highly recommended to appreciate the flexible accommodation.

LOUNGE 5.2m (17.1') x 3.8m (12.6') Upvc double glazed window to front, wall mounted radiator, coving, stone built fireplace.

KITCHEN/DINER 5.0m (16.3') x 2.7m (9.0') Range of wall and floor units with work surface over, inset sink unit, inset gas hob with oven under, built in dishwasher, plumbing for washing machine, space for fridge freezer, Upvc double glazed window to front and side, wall mounted radiator, door to side, wall mounted boiler.

BEDROOM ONE 3.8m (12.5') x 2.4m (7.8') Upvc double glazed window to side, wall mounted radiator, coving.

BEDROOM TWO 3.5m (11.5') x 2.7m (8.9') Upvc double glazed window to front, wall mounted radiator, coving.

BEDROOM THREE 2.8m (9.3') x 2.7m (9.0') Upvc double glazed window to front and side, wall mounted radiator.

BEDROOM FOUR 2.0m (6.6') x 1.9m (6.2') Upvc double glazed window to front, wall mounted radiator.

BATHROOM Comprising of pedestal wash hand basin, low level W.C, panelled enclosed bath with shower attachment, coving, Upvc double glazed window to side, wall mounted radiator.

OUTSIDE To the side of the property is a hardstanding area suitable for off road parking space with an up and over door.

7 February 2007

Remembering Alex Harvey

Alex Harvey died a day before his 47th birthday on 4 February 1982 and SAHB fans across the world have been remembering him on the 25th anniversary of his death.

People who knew Alex and the band much better than I did have written some good articles in remembrance of Alex, particularly this one in the Glasgow Herald, but I want to say something about what Alex meant to me.

I have posted entries earlier saying how good SAHB are today, and they are, but it all started with Alex.

Like many people of my generation, I first came across SAHB on the Old Grey Whistle Test where Alex's theatrics captured the viewer and made you realize that you were watching something a little different. Everything they did on OGWT was good but Give my Compliments to the Chef particularly stands out in my memory.

But there was lots of good music around then and so while I enjoyed SAHB I did not but any of their albums at that time. Then at the end of my first year at university (1976) in Southampton came the spur of the moment to go and watch the band play in town (students did not often go into town) which proved to be one of my better decisions. You know what they were like then from the various live recordings so I'll cut to the end which was about six of us drunk in a mini with the driver trying to get back to our hall without attracting attention while the rest of us thought that singing Delilah as loud as we could was a better idea! After that I bought the old albums and I still play them all today.

Twenty five years later the band is still touring and still playing the old songs, and doing so bloody well, but Alex is far from forgotten and I'm very pleased that the band still carries his name and respects his memory in their act. Thanks Alex, for everything.

2 February 2007

He'll put a spell on you

I had a real treat the other night, Arthur Brown "in concert" in a small cafe in Soho, London. It was like having Arthur playing in my font room!

The evening consisted of a few songs and a couple of stories with Nick Pynn accompanying as usual.

The show opened with "The Voice of Love" the title track from Arthur's forthcoming album. An excellent ballad which bodes very well for the album.

Next came a reading of "The Tell-Tale Heart" by Edgar Allen Poe. Arthur put all the emotion that he puts into his singing into the reading so we had some whispers and some screeches and a lot of fun.

The first half closed with an old song that Arthur often covers, "Please don't let me be misunderstood".

During the break were able to have a chat with Arthur and Nick, again in a very informal atmosphere. For some reason, the venue which seats about 50 people seems to have printed several hundred flyers for the event and Arthur signed, and doodled, one for my mate.

The second half opened with another story, this time it was the true story of Arthur's arrest for obscenity (appearing on stage nude) in Italy in the '60s. By the sound of things he should not be going back there! The next song was "Gypsies" and the closer was, no surprise here, "I'll put a spell on you".

All during this event the cafe was operating as usual with people who just wanted to eat and drink coming and going throughout. There was a small birthday party on one of the tables at the back and so we all sang "Happy Birthday" at one point.

So, overall bit of a strange night but a hugely enjoyable one!