Thursday, 30 April 2009

The Great Walpurgis Natch Teaser … Um


It’s Walpurgis Night, tonight!

Doesn’t that means we’re supposed to be chasing a witch up a tree … ?



Because I’m blowed if I could tell you …

I do know it means I’ve been able to hang something of a theme on today’s questions — not much of a theme, but I’ve been able to do something.

But, here; here’s today’s questions …

Q1) Tonight is Walpurgis Nacht; in many of the countries it’s celebrated, it’s the equivalent to what; Bonfire Night, or Halloween?

Q2) Walpurgis Natch is named after Saint Walpurga; which English county was she from? 

Q3) Today is also the day — in 1812 — when the 18th US state joined the Union.   Which US state are we talking about?

Q4) Today in 2008 saw the remains of Alexei and Anastasia Romanov being found; which country’s Royal family were they members of?

Q5) Today is also the birthday of which back from the dead “EastEnders” actor?

Q6) Today saw the birth of the World Wide Web, at CERN, in 1993; in which European country is CERN?

Q7) The American blues musician known as the ‘Father of the Chicago Blues’, died today in 1983; was that Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, or Blind Lemon Jefferson?

Q8) Today in 1973 saw President Richard Nixon famously make a speech about what … ?

Q9) Moving on, George Washington was sworn in as the first elected president of the USA; in which year o the 1780’s?

Q10) And finally, today in 1975 saw the ending of which controversial war?

And here’s yesterday’s questions and answers …

Q1) According to the UN, April the 29th is International what day?

A1) International Dance Day.

Q2) Alfred Hitcock died on the 29th April 1980; how many Oscar’s was he nominated for?

A2) Five.   (He only “won” a lifetime achievement one)

Q3) 29th April, 1970, saw the birth of singer, Jo O’Meara; which band was she a member of?

A3) S Club 7.

Q4) 29th April, 1770 saw Captain James Cook arrive at which Australian Bay?

A4) Botany Bay.

Q5) And finally, today was the birthday of Japanese Emperor Hirohito who, — in addition to his Imperial duties — published scientific papers on what; jellyfish, pine trees, or Jurassic rock formations?

A5) Jellyfish.

Oh, I’ve thrown in the video for “Never Had a Dream Come True”, by the way.   Yes, I know Jo O’Meara didn’t exactly distinguish herself on Celebrity Big Brother, but she also had the strongest voice of any of S Club 7.

Oh, and I’ve found this on L-Space …

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

The Local Paper, for Local People …

I’m In!!!


Ok, ok, I’ve — bar last week — had the Gazette publish a letter of mine for most of the past few weeks. I mean, it’s not like I’m Hunter S Thompson.

I couldn’t handle the hallucinations, for a start …

But, at any rate, I’m rather pleased I got the last one published, I think I made a goodish point, or two.

So, when I saw a couple of articles, in today’s Gazette, I had to shoot off another one; here …

I’ve got to admit, I read a couple of articles in this weeks Gazette with quite a bit of interest.

For starters, the news that the BNP are thinking of putting someone forward for election in Hutton South. I personally find the fact that such a notorious group of bigots believe our town a potentially ripe stomping ground both disgusting and disturbing. And have to ask their organiser one simple question; “What BLOODY mosque?”. I really hope Councillor Quirke is correct in his belief that they won’t do well in the forthcoming by-election. The last thing this town needs is an organised bunch of bigots like this.

Lets move on, shall we? Yes, let’s.

One other article that caught my eye was about a local school’s upgrade to its recording studio facilities; which mentioned the fact that that also included quite a lot of iMacs.

Good for them!

Now I’ve got to admit a little bit of bias, here; I’m something of a Macintosh fanboy, and have been for some time.

But I think I’ve a couple of points to make, here.

Now, while I know the Mac has something of a niche reputation, it really doesn’t deserve it. After all, I have used a vintage Mac Performa, a G4 Power Mac, and — my current model — the Mac Mini, for every last one of my home computing needs for the past seven years, and really would find shifting away from the platform hard to do. And really believe that, despite their higher price, their reliability and higher levels of built in security, make that a price worth paying. Just as a minor point, here the Mac Performa I have, I had second hand, from an old family friend. It’s lasted some 14 years and is still functioning quite well; to the best of my knowledge, long after an equivalent Windoze based PC would’ve given up the ghost. Many thanks, Bill.

Which brings me to a related point. One thing that was a revelation about the Mac, when I first used it, was quite simply the fact that the mouse had — and still has, on modern Macs — just one button. Which was a revelation to me.

I’m left handed. And the fact that there was a commercially available product that one can use straight out of the box, one didn’t have to fiddle about with to set to left hand use. I just put it on the other side of the keyboard.

So I’m glad to hear that one school in Brentwood has adopted them.

I know that I, as many lefties, had an awkward time at school. I know I had a constant refrain from Infant and junior school teachers, of “Wouldn’t you find the pen comfier in your other hand?” as a child. And wanting to learn the guitar at senior school was out of the question; what was Hedley Walter Comprehensive, and is now Sawyer’s Hall College, had no left handed models. From I know from my own personal experience, and from those I’ve talked too, that this doesn’t exactly give us a good start in life. And can be crippling, if we’re not tough.

So I kind of hail that simple fact that one school has had an (unintended, I’m sure) minor beneficial effect on it’s left handed pupils. Lord knows I could’ve done with it, at a young age.

And can only hope that more schools in Brentwood stock up on … Well, Macs, for preference. But at least more left handed scissors, utensils, and musical instruments. Or, at least, show our pupils how to alter our computer mouse system preferences, so we can use them left-handedly.

I also know I’ve got my modern mouse set up to left hand use. And love confusing right-hander’s with it.

And isn’t it strange how these things go? I had meant to fire off a quick shot about the parking, down here …

Which is complicated, to say the least …


Now I know that we were supposed to get pre-paid envelopes for the recent set of voting form; I didn’t, Adrian did, although I don’t know who else has or hasn’t along the street. And I know I had Sara Bartleman — Southern Anglia’s rep for the area — politely phoning me up to apologise for that. She’s also offered to — admittedly with no guarantees — both look at, and leave a comment on here. I hope she does.

But for those of us who’ve not had the envelopes that were supposed to come with the form’s, Sara’s email address is To send it to her at the office, you need to send it to:

Sara Bartleman
22, Pitseaville Grove
SS16 4HW

Oh, and the number’s 01268 220837

Now I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve gone for option five, on the form we had in. I also know that Dave, round the corner, is pushing for option four; apparently, it’d only add about 15 pence to the service charge.


And I’m also looking at Option Two, here. Which is the option directly administered by residents, here in Rollason Way.

I’m thinking that’s a nice, touchy-feely option.

You can feel the cynical comment from there, can’t you?

I’m thinking that Option Two will be fuel for trouble.

Have you ever read “The Crucible”, by the late Arthur Miller? All about the Salem witch hunts?

One of the central characters — Elizabeth Proctor — is accused of witchcraft, by the young woman who’d had an affair with Elizabeth’s husband; the husband, John, has long since broken off the affair, and the result … well.

The reason I mention it, is because I can easily see the application, here.

All it would take is one neighbour to have an argument with another — who’d be one of the volunteer’s — and he’d never be able to park next to — or near — his front door again.

What tangled web’s we weave …

At any rate, I’d suggest those of us who can, email in our voting forms; they need to be in by the 8th of May.

And the next meeting looks like it’s on the 2nd of July. And Sara will be gracing us with her presence on the 29th of July.

A Monday.

At ten in the morning.

When everybody's around, obviously …


Oh, and just to follow up on the Left-handed issue, this You Tube video, about a chap called Maurie Kaufman caught my attention.

I kind of know exactly what he means about being a rebel …

The Daily Teaser

Phew!! I’ve finally manage to get this done.

And I’ve got to admit, today’s questions were rough ones to write. Nothing’s leapt out at me and given me inspiration. It is suprising to learn a suprising fact or two about the late Emperor Hirohito. Or should I say Emporer Showa? Apparently that’s how’s he’s now referred to, now. (And, yes, I know; there’s still quite a lot of controversy about his rôle in Japan’s activities, during World War 2. There’s possibly going to be a lot of argument about that …)

At any rate, here’s today’s questions …

Q1) According to the UN,today is International what day?

Q2) Alfred Hitcock died today, in 1980; how many Oscar’s was he nominated for?

Q3) Jo O’Meara was born today, in 1970; which band was she a member of?

Q4) Today in 1770 saw Captain James Cook arrive at which Australian Bay?

Q5) And finally, today was the birthday of Japanese Emperor Hirohito — who, in addition to his Imperial duties — published scientific papers on what; jellyfish, pine trees, or Jurassic rock formations?

And here’s yesterday’s questions and answers …

Q1) Today sees the birthday of Discworld creator, Terry Pratchett; what was the name of the first Discworld novel?
A1) “The Colour of Magic”.

Q2) More to the point, who played Rincewind in Sky TV’s version of that novel?
A2) David Jason.

Q3) Today in 1926 saw the birth of American novellist, Harper Lee; what was the name of her best known novel?
A3) “To Kill a Mockingbird

Q4) That novel’s main character — Atticus Finch — was played by which Gregory, on film?
A4) Gregory Peck.

Q5) Scottish writer, Ian Rankin was born today, in 1960; in which Scottish city are his Inspector Rebus novels set?
A5) Edinburgh.

Q6) Today also saw the birth of Alistair MacLean. Complete the title of his novel; “Where Eagles …” what?
A6) “Where Eagles Dare

Q7) Today also saw the resignation of Charles De Gaulle as French president; which Frederick Forsyth novel sees someone try to assassinate De Gaulle?
A7) “The Day of the Jackal”.

Q8) Who wrote the story of Rip Van Winkle?
A8) Washington Irving

Q9) Which British king wrote farming articles under the pseudonym Ralph Robinson?
A9) George 3rd.

Q10) Who wrote the nonsensical poems, “Jabberwocky” and “The Walrus And The Carpenter”?
A10) Lewis Carroll.


Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Rollason Way Parking Returneth …

Hmmm …

Well, finally, the voting forms have been delivered …

And I’ve got to confess, they look like a badly done —  and rushed, uncosted — job.   With all but two of the options having associated services charges.

And, being a non driver on a very low income, I’ve gone for one of the (free) 
council run options.   And even that’s not perfect.

Mostly because it’s all very dependant on the Council actually adopting the road!

Frankly, I’ve liked to have a parking permit.   While I don’t drive, I’ve friends who do, and it would have been nice to have them over.

But — and here’s the BUT — I’d’ve had no problem with an extra few pence on the service charge for a permit … had it been present when I’d originally moved in, eighteen months ago, and had we all received some sort of parking permit,  from the very start.

Especially as I — and one or two others of my neighbours — were explicitly told by Eunice, the Southern Anglia agent who showed us round, that there was enough parking for everyone.

Having a parking service charge retroactively added onto my rent, after I’ve moved in?

That strikes me as an extra — and needless — premium  for something I’m not getting.

And frankly reeks of Southern Anglia trying to profiteer*.


As you can imagine, I’m not really happy about the options presented to us.

And, while I’ve heard that option four is probably going to cost around 15p a week, I’d’ve liked to have seen that on the voting forms sent to us; if you look at the photo, above, you’ll see they’re not.   That’s what’s got me, if anything.

There’s no actual prices attached.

Now I’ll apologise to anyone that’s got their heart on one of the other choices available.

But I’m going for Number Five, here.


And, just as a final thought, I’ve already sent off the form by email.

Here’s what I told Sara Bartleman, the Housing Officer for the area; 

Subject: Rollason Way Parking

Date: 28 April 2009 17:24:27 BST


Dear Ms Bartleman

I received the voting forms, today, for the seven options for Rollason Way’s parking, and must confess that none seem satisfactory.   As I was unable to attend the Resident’s Meeting on this issue, it’s nice to have them finally arrive.

Or, at least, none of the options with-out associated service charges, seem satisfactory, nor do they have any associated costings; something that I — being on a very low income — would have appreciated seeing.   

Which leaves me personally voting for Option Five, amongst the seven; the one that allows for Rollason Way being adopted by Brentwood Council.

And may I add that this seems the lesser — and cheapest — of seven evils, given that the option as presented states that this is “… to be managed by Brentwood Council IF the road is adopted”.   (Option Three, the other council option, says that the signs will be “… a deterrent”.   May I say, this seems to be very unconvincing.)

May I also ask why — in view of the fact I feel someone from your organisation must have known that there was little parking available, in the immediate area, given the development’s proximity to both Brentwood High Street and Brentwood Station — nothing was done sooner, to resolve this issue sooner?   I know one or two of my neighbours have told me explicitly that they would not have moved into their flat, had they realised that this would be such a huge issue.

It seems to be badly and hurriedly done; it’s had time, after all, to head this off.


Well, as you can imagine …

But, at any rate, there’ll probably be hell to pay, when whatever option is chosen.

Rollason Way’s Parking Saga … Is Not Over!

* That’s just an opinion; I may well be wrong, but …

A Very Literary Teaser …


I didn’t realise it, but today sees at least four — FOUR — writer’s birthday’s, today.

Including Terry Pratchett’s, and boy, was I tempted to do a Discworld round.

Oh Yes!

But, all things considered, I’ve gone for something a bit less geeky.

Here’s today’s questions …

Q1) Today sees the birthday of Discworld creator, Terry Pratchett; what wwas the name of the first Discworld novel?

Q2) More to the point, who played Rincewind in Sky TV’s version of that novel?

Q3) Today in 1926 saw the birth of American novellist, Harper Lee; what was the name of her best known novel?

Q4) That novel’s main character ― Atticus Finch ― was played by which Gregory, on film?

Q5) Scottish writer, Ian Rankin was born today, in 1960; in which Scottish city are his Inspector Rebus novels set?

Q6) Today also saw the birth of Alistair MacLean.   Complete the title of his novel; “Where Eagles …what?

Q7) Today also saw the resignation of Charles De Gaulle as French president; which Frederick Forsyth novel sees someone try to assassinate De Gaulle?

Q8) Who wrote the story of Rip Van Winkle?

Q9) Which British king wrote farming articles under the pseudonym Ralph Robinson?

Q10) Who wrote the nonsensical poems, “Jabberwocky” and “The Walrus And The Carpenter”?

And here’s yesterday’s questions and answers …

Q1) Walter Lantz was born today, in 1899; which cartoon character did he create; Woody Woodpecker, Daffy Duck, or Felix the Cat?

A1) Woody Woodpecker.

Q2) Today was also the birthday of Samuel Morse, the man who created Morse code; but in which year of the 1790’s?

A2) 1791.

Q3) Today, in 1992, saw Betty Boothroyd elected as the first woman what?

A3) Speaker of the House of Commons.

Q4) This day in 1981 saw Xerox PARC introduce the modern day what?

A4) Computer mouse.

Q5) Today is the feast day of Saint Zita; she’s the patron saint of who; maid’s, bar-staff, or green-grocers?

A5) Maids.

Hope you enjoy them!

Monday, 27 April 2009

Points Left …

Oh, bless! I’ve had just had Doctor Paul — he of Doctor Paul’s quiz site — leave a comment on my post about left handedness.

Nice to get one, I know that.

I also know I’ve had an email in from No Idea’s Adrian, who’s also another south paw.

Fascinating read, I should add; but here, let me quote …

Like most children of the 1950s and 1960s, I started to attend Infant School at the age of five. Within a few months, we were taught basic arithmetic. I was told to put the "big number" on the left hand side and the ‘small number’ on the right hand side. On asking which side this was, we were told that our right hands were the hands that we wrote with.

I proceeded to do the sums as follows:-
  • 7 + 5 = 21 (i.e. 12 with the big number written on the LHS) - X
  • 8 + 9 = 71 X
  • 9 + 9 = 81 X
  • 6 + 6 = 21 X
  • 3 X 5 = 51 X
  • 2 X 8 = 61 X

This continued for the whole year. I still have the arithmetic exercise books, with the reversed answers marked ‘X’ and not corrected. The left/right problem only came to light, when I took the school exercise books home at the beginning of the summer holidays and my Mother spotted what was going on.

I can still remember that I already knew that something was wrong and I must have guessed that it was to do with right and left, because I kept asking various teachers which hand was my right one. One Teacher pointed to my right hand (WOW) the others ALL said that it is easy to remember, because it is the (left) hand that I write with. The fact that even the teachers could not agree what was left and what was right, only helped to confuse me even further. Even now, if someone says ‘Turn left’ when I am driving and very close to a junction, I need to think first. The directions ‘left’ or ‘right’ aren’t instant, as they should be.

Reverting to infant school, despite having an I.Q. of 135 and being good at English etc, I was put into the ‘B’ class, rather than the ‘A’ class.

The school policy at that time, was not to keep moving children up and down the classes, so I had to stay in the ‘B’ class until the Eleven Plus exam. There were only twelve places available at the Bridlington High School for pupils from all the Hornsea schools and there were over 30 pupils in the ‘A’ class (and over 30 in the ‘B’ class) of my school so the school did not bother to put the ‘B’ class pupils through the Eleven Plus exam. I was therefore never given a chance to earn a place at the High School.

Fortunately, we emigrated to Ghana and I passed the entrance exam for Mfantsipim, Ghana’s Number One school (in the town of Cape Coast) so I got a year of excellent education (but I fell well behind in English History and European Geography).

I spent a year at the Ghanaian school, two terms at a high quality, but low morality boarding school at Ramsgate in Kent, then spent the remainder of my schooldays at a good (outward bound) school in Scarborough, Yorkshire.

Towards the end of my school career, I gained the ‘O’ and ‘A’ level entrance requirements to study for a degree at Coventry and duly passed the degree exams at the end of the course. The degree award ceremony was cancelled, because of the I.R.A. pub bombings and I received my certificate by post, but I was chosen to represent my college at a degree congregation and shook hands with the Duke of Edinburgh.

Fortunately, I got a good job after getting that degree. It is shocking to think that the ignorance of my infant school teachers, which gave me that very poor start, could have continued to have had an effect throughout my educational life. Furthermore, it could have prevented me from getting my degree and that would have stopped me from getting the good job that I wanted.

I believe that the effect of that bad start is still with me.

Apart from having to think about left and right, I still do not trust my own arithmetic. I always feel the need to be pedantic and I need to recheck my answers, whenever I do any mental, or written arithmetic.

And I’ve got to admit, I know exactly what Adrian’s talking about, especially when it comes to Infants and Junior school.

I can still remember, through the long years, those early years at school. Especially — and constantly — having various teachers asking me “Well, wouldn’t you feel comfier using your other hand …?”, whilst having a bossy school teacher putting a pen into my right hand.

Or non-left hand, I should maybe say.

It’s still with me.

Whenever I need to physically write with a pen and paper, I usually find myself picking up the pen in my right hand and putting in my left.

The layout will also look fairly strange as well. The first line will be pretty much like this,
whilst the rest of the paragraph will be over here.
Mostly because I’ve needed to
give my hand some space to rest on.

I can also remember being called a ‘thicko’ at school — lovely how kids can be so nice, isn’t it? — because I got sent a long to a remedial teacher, to deal with my poor hand-writing. Who — as far as I can recall — put a rocket up my First Year senior school form tutor to let her know she didn’t have a dim pupil.

She had one that was LEFT HANDED!

One who, like many of us lefties, tends to suffer a bit with written English. Because, of course, English, like most European languages, is written from left to right.

Right handers get to pull a pen, elegantly and comfortably across the page.

Us lefties have to push the pen, and, as I think many of us will tell you, that’s very uncomfortable.

Cramps, ink-stains, weird calluses.

And that’s without the ongoing debate about whether any given lefty uses the Hook method of writing; something I’ve seen right-handers use as well, incidentally.


This is something I can go on about for hours.

In fact, I intend to. Once I can get a metaphorical nail to hang a post on.

But it’ll be after I’ve had some sleep; it IS getting rather late.

But, much like Adrian, I feel my early schooling — scarring? Maybe, although there’s others I’ve known, and know, who’ve had worse childhoods — I feel my early schooling has left its mark. I always mix up left and right, in giving directions. And usually find it easier to point …

And feel that it has dented my confidence. Maybe not drastically, but I believe it’s there.


But, talking of pointer’s, I had Dave and Paul over last night.

I loaned Dave my ’net connection, so he could set himself up a gmail account.

He’s a northpaw, so you know. One who found getting the hang of left and right clicking difficult.

Based on that, I’m going to suggest to any right-hander’s who wish a taster of lefty life that you — come Left-Hander’s Day, August 13th — switch your mouse over to left hand use; you’ll need to alter the settings in the either the system preferences or control panel, depending on your operating systems, and not just move the mouse from one side to the other.

Frustrating, isn’t it … ?

It’s partly why I believe left-hander’s have many accidents; the world isn’t built for us.

And that those of us around are somewhat more adaptable than many right-handers, when it comes to scissors, guitars, and heavy machinery.

We’ve had to be.