Thursday, 25 September 2014


Found down by the ground in a south coast town on the front of a pound shop: Evidence of its original owners. 

I had completely forgotten that this chain used to be called Montague Burton. (Tailor of Taste)

Anyway: The pressing question of the day is this: Why do we say "gone for a burton". Answers on a stiff collar please.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

The new shiny

I found this at ankle level on the street last week. It is a pre-rusted garden ornament.

What is it with the current preoccupation with rust? Our public spaces are graced with sheet steel sculptures coated in a layer of rust, and now it seems we are to decorate our gardens with rusty things.

To me it just seems tacky and cheap. If you couldn't afford to make it from stainless steel, then you could always paint it. Duh!

I suppose the argument is that you will never need to paint it, it's already rusty, how much worse can it get?

Tuesday, 23 September 2014


Clearly this afternoon sunshine won't last long. There's a storm brewing.

This is the art of counterpoint, the business of placing one thing against another to emphasis context and contrast. In this case the west facing end wall of a 19th century coaching inn in Marlborough shines against a threatening sky.

It is always a good thing to keep your eye open photographically for little moments of contrast like this one. Half a minute later the moment was gone and the sunshine vanished.

Monday, 22 September 2014


I was watching a Star Trek movie (I mean picture) at the weekend. It concerned a race of people gifted with immortality on a planet in the alpha quadrant. Their youthful appearance was due entirely to the presence of Metaphasic Radiation which was being modulated by the planet's rings.

I thought about this for a while and then I suddenly realised: There is no such thing as Metaphasic Radiation. This means that the whole movie was just a made up story. 

This was all just a waste of my time, so I stopped watching it immediately and went out to mow the lawn.

So: Exactly how many other Star Trek movies turn out to be just made up stories eh?

Sunday, 21 September 2014

What's wrong

... with this picture? Surely I should be proud of such a startling image that demonstrates the photographers art at its best. It is all about observation and timing.

Stand in the right place for a few years and eventually something remarkable will present itself. In this case a flotilla of small boats dance across the waves under the harvest moon at the end of the day.

Friday, 19 September 2014

United Kingdom

What is wrong with this picture?

Scotland votes No to independence. Crowds gather all over England to celebrate.

It's that tree on the left. 

Never ever chop a tree in half with your composition.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Independent Wessex

If Scotland becomes independent, then where does it end? Surely it would make sense for Wales to go the same way, and in that case I feel England should become a federation of states rather like the US.

London (I mean that parcel of land inside the M25) would surely be one state. I propose that the remaining land is divided into Greater Wessex and Mercia. To that end I think we in Wessex should pre-empt this move by offering Her Majesty a new but historic title. Elizabeth the Great. 

There is a precedent.

Wessex would gain Oxford and all its academic spinoffs, we would have the M4 valley which is also rich in high tech companies. We would have Bristol  and Southampton, fine deep water ports. After negotiations with Wales we could probably get a Severn barrage working. I feel we could claim Gatwick and the Channel Tunnel as well.

Mercia gets Birmingham, Cambridge and the ports of Liverpool and Hull. It all seems quite fair.

Some would argue that London would continue to dominate the States of England with its trade and population. Well, they won't look so strong if they no longer get food, imports or electical power from greater Wessex. Hmm?

Wednesday, 17 September 2014


Up here in the northern hemisphere, the Sun passes from left to right through the sky (as indeed it should) each day. At night the Moon and stars do the same thing.

Therefore the shadow of the gnomon on a sundial progresses in a clockwise manner. As a result sundial dials were laid out with increasing numbers in a clockwise arrangement. 

This fact is what gives us clock faces that look like this.

So, in the antipodes, where the sun does things that are clearly wrong, and therefore sundials go backwards, do they make their clocks run anticlockwise?

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Busking revisited

People often ask me why musical instruments have those strange shaped "f" holes in them.

The answer is simple. This is where you put the money. 

Buskers like to keep the money where they can see it, so violins, violas and cellos were specifically designed with ornate letterboxes where an appreciative audience could pop their contributions. 

So, next time you see a busker, fold up a ten shilling note and slip it into the "f" hole. 

If you feel you need change, take some from the cap on the pavement that the musician has thoughtfully provided.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

U2 and Apple

So, Apple introduce a new phone and the world stops for a moment. People were already camping outside Apple stores to be the first to buy whatever it is that Apple announced. 

As part of the announcement Apple also pushed a copy of a new U2 album to all Apple owners with an iTunes account for free. It is supposed to be some sort of cool marketing ploy to give them The Edge....

Well, the hip 21st century urban iPhone owners frown and wonder why they have been given this ancient music and immediately set about attempting to delete it from their catalogue.

Why did you do that Apple? I always thought you were uber-smart in the marketing department. 

Surely it would have been much smarter to let your faithful Apple customers know that you had sent the new U2 album to all the Android users in the world

How they would have laughed. Surely that would have been the cool thing to do.

PS. Yes, I am an Android user and yes, you can send me a free U2 album if you like :-)

Friday, 12 September 2014

See this Jimmy

See this?

This is how much interest remains in the wretched Scottish vote down south. The only thing that eclipsed it in the news this week was Apple's announcement of a new phone*

Enough already.

*Obviously the most important event of the year

Thursday, 11 September 2014

The chapel

This is the Fitzalan chapel at Arundel where you will find the Duke of Norfolk buried (well, there are several of them there actually).

When we visited a narrow shaft of sunlight illuminated this figure, and the results are rather pleasing. This is clearly a Victorian era figure, you can tell by the style, and also it is intact. Most of the other carvings have been attacked by the Puritans when they occupied the castle. 

Just like the next man, I am not in favour of idolatry, but when it comes to cultural vandalism, the Puritans have a lot to answer for.

Sadly, the church building remains divided. The East end is the Catholic chapel, open to castle visitors, while the West end is St Nicholas Anglican church. They are divided by metal doors and a perspex screen.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Making a point

One feels that the stonemason at Chichester Cathedral was making a point with this gargoyle. 

In fact stonemasons are notorious for making points with gargoyles. You see them everywhere with grotesque features poking fun at some long lost local landlord.

I suspect it is the stone equivalent of the rock guitarist's lead break or the drum solo. This is where you get to show what you can really do after all those acres of straight dressed stone.

This example seems to be sending up a lawyer with his wig and collar and scroll. What have lawyers ever done to deserve this? It seems cruel and unjustified...

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Red letter day

We have all seen these Red Letter Day boxes that offer your nearest and dearest an exciting and possibly risky day out. 

"Drive a supercar", "Abseil down Mount Kilimanjaro", "Try skydiving"  ...  and as I saw at the weekend "Afternoon Tea".

That sounds more like my level of risk.

"Right men. I know you have all volunteered for this dangerous mission, so now I can reveal exactly what we will be doing. 

We are going to Pontefract and we are going to attempt Afternoon Tea

We will not have the cover of darkness, and I must warn you, there will be scones and doilies and we can expect a preserve or two.

If you want to back out now, that's fine...."

Monday, 8 September 2014

The long goodbye

So: If Scotland does leave the union, and if Scotland ends up with (say) a more lenient tax system because it isn't attempting to be a world power, where does this lead us.

Could an Englishman living in England apply to become Scottish and then benefit from lower taxes?

Are you Scottish if you were born in Scotland, or is it merely residency?

We need to know these things....

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Macro museum

In comparison with Midhurst Museum, ours in Newbury is large and spacious.

It is also brand new and a little bit odd. There is a big push to make museums interesting these days, so ours has some quirky and mystifying signs.

The have kept the flint arrowheads to a minimum and there's quiet a lot of this sort of thing:

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Micro Museum

Let me recommend Midhurst Museum. 

Blink and you will miss it.

Here we are outside the railway themed museum which is in the single room behind me as I took this picture.

The museum room is about eight feet square and will allow about two visitors at once, and is therefore too small to photograph. It is small but perfectly formed, as they say.

I can't tell you what is beneath the hatch in the floor. Maybe it's the cinema?

No-one else does mad quite like the British.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Arundel visited

Historic Arundel.

It turns out that much of Arundel is actually Victorian, including large parts of the castle. It has the nicest stonework I have ever seen. Apparently it was a labour of love for the chief mason.

However, I forgive it because the shape and form of the town is interesting, and surrounding the countryside is lovely. 

Here is a vertical panorama of four images (the original is some nine thousand pixels tall) taken from the castle. It shows the valley of the Arun with the excellently named Burpham in the distance.

Thursday, 4 September 2014


The big insult.

Once upon a time baring your bum at someone would be seen as a great insult. These days it seems to be normal behaviour.

Harrumph (again).

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

A day out

A nice day by the sea side.

No traffic, no screaming kids, no jet skis. No pleasure arcades, no bingo. No piles of rotting seaweed.

No sand. No sunshine either.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Two from Winchester

Ah, lovely Winchester. One of my favourite towns. It has blotted its copy book just once, when we were completely unable to find anywhere to park and went home without leaving the car.

Anyway, parked we did this time and went in search of nooks and crannies.

Here's one. A place where you are expressly forbidden from committing a nuisance.

Life Observed:  When you go, you may as well plan to go in style. 

Here the one time Hampshire Librarian leaves the Cathedral for the last time.