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Nick himself

Goodbyee…

Well, I hope y’all proud of yourselves.

Brexit is a rolling disaster produced by sheer recklessness… With no conceivable good end regardless of the antics of Farage who is acting like a Poundland George Washington. Or any of the rest of them.

And I can’t stand the reveling in misery I have seen here or on Samizdata (though some exceptions there – which are routinely shouted down). The nastiness is palpable and I want no more part of it. I could explain further but why bother? I have tried here and elsewhere and am either ignored or called stupid or histrionic or some such.

So that is it.

I hope I have entertained here at times but that is it. I’m through.

I’ll be back but not here.

Have fun. And thanks – we had some good times…

Another quote…

…from all our favourite music-hall comic,

“When I saw Mustangs over Berlin, I knew the jig was up.”

- Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring.

And he was right.

I am conflicted. Seriously. I have thought for ages of putting up a list of the truly great fighter ‘planes and it is difficult to compare across eras. So you can stuff your Spitfire and your English Electric Lightning (magnificent though they were). The P-51D does it for me.

For me better looking than the Spit (I know that is a hanging offence in England because by English law the only thing better looking than a Spitfire is Pippa Middleton’s buttocks), much better range and just pure sex to take the stick with. And when Major General James Doolittle* got his paws on the 8th Airforce and used the P-51s on the offensive rather than defensive. Well, in just over a week 17% of German fighter pilots were lost. The Luftwaffe never recovered.

The P-51 truly won the air-war over Germany.

*Rarely has anyone had a less appropriate surname.

A people need to know when they are conquered…

Scotland, the land of ginger fright wigs and men in skirts was taken by England many, many years ago. Get over it! Otherwise you’d still be back-combing your mullets with that Aussie nucking futter.

I saw the Euro ’96 mob in Trafalgar Square and they were crunching on their own tinnies (and wearing skirts. They also had a gigantic banner proclaiming that Jimmy Hill spilt his seed.

The Cathedral (the most northerly in England) in Newcastle is that of St Nicholas. It has a unique lantern tower. During the Civil War Melanie Gibson’s mob (they may tek our lives but they’ll nivver tek us seriously) had a cunning plan. The Geordies though were even more cunning…

It is believed that during the siege of Newcastle in 1644, when the Scottish army threatened to blow up the Church using a canon, the mayor Sir John Marley put his Scottish prisoners in the lantern tower, saving it from destruction.

From here.

And that Cathedral has remained to this day despite the destruction wrought by T Dan Smith and Poulson (who ought to be in a Hell of molten sulphur enemas). They did more damage to the City of my birth than the Irn Bru fuelled White Walkers from North of the Wall (or The Luftwaffe) ever did.

There is a reason the Romans built a wall and it wasn’t just so 2000 years later kids would do pointless field trips.

And does anyone actually like Shortbread? I mean really?

Washing machines.

I have never had to buy a washing machine. I do now. The current Hotpoint is – if I may get technical “embuggerated”. My question is You can et a machine for about 190 quid or you can pay up to a grand. So what is the difference? I can’t tell. Can you help?

I shall tell it anyway…

I got a fully funded place at QMC, London in 1995 (Astrophysics MSc). I wound up at Stock’s Court post-grad flats. It was in the heady days of Brit-pop and I was London E1, directly above the district line. Bring it! It was also GBP65 a week including all bills but phone though a cleaner was included. He shoots, back of the net!

Anyway, six of us shared a rather nice flat. All blokes and all early twenties so amongst the six of us antics occurred. Yes – antics. (apart from M who was easily the most self-righteous twat I have ever met- he had a trio of condoms given to him by his ex after she dumped him – he never used them). And things, thing-like things happened. You can’t imagine the games of Monopoly. They were something else but nothing quite like Risk in Nottingham (my alma mater) which at one point descended into fisticuffs but that was because someone pissed in Mark’s sink and he tooketh the umbrage most righteous and there was much kicking up the bracket and indeed elsewise. But that’s another story.

Anyway we had a flatmate called H who was Japanese. He was a nice lad and had a penchant for the raising of the wrist – not an alkie – just sociable like. He liked us a lot because whilst he’d previously been at the University of Birmingham he’d never really interacted with Brits. The thing being that you don’t learn languages unless you are immersed and Birmingham (for some reason) has a lot of Japanese students so he hung with them.

In London he was in a flat with four English lads and a French guy.

Anyway, once, in his cups, he told us of his girlfriend back in Japan and how he really wanted to meet a “A big-breasted blonde English woman”. He was missing his girlfriend and yeah I’ve had that so I know. But his girlfriend made a major miscalculation. She was due to join him in the UK and got into Cardiff University on the mistaken assumption it was a suburb of London. We had to explain to H that it was not. Well for whatever reasons she couldn’t change but he could. So after three weeks he was off to Wales. He could have stayed for the big-breasted English blondes but love has it’s ways even if his Japanese lady friend had been entirely at home to Mr Cock-Up. I dunno what she was planning on studying but I hope it wasn’t geography.

So, it’s H’s leaving do. It’s a Friday night. Now in their infinite wisdom the Wizards of Astrofizz had scheduled galactic dynamics for Friday night. So I don’t go out with the lads. Instead I stuck a six-pack of Stella in the fridge (to toast the chap upon his return) and went to my 2 hour lecture. I returned home and had a toasted sandwich and made some tea awaiting the return…

There was a ring on the door-bell. Because I was on the third floor I first looked out the window and there were two of my flatmates one of whom was tight as an owl and the other pissed as a Dutch fart. The latter was very unsteady on his peggies and sorta leminscating around what looked at first blush like a corpse. S who was still reasonably stable yelled up to ask if I could help so I proceeded down. H was groaning and muttering things in Japanese otherwise I would have thought we’d soon be seeing Lestrade of The Yard get his chalk out. As the only sober (and I mean stone cold) person at this dismal scene a lot of thoughts flitted through my head. The main one being, “We’ve only been here for three fucking weeks and we’ve killed a flatmate”.

As you can imagine I was fecked-off now. S and J were pissed immaculate (especially J), H was somewhere between comatose and experiencing St Vitus’s Dance by this stage. For some reason none of us thought to call an ambulance – Those two jokers were too off their gourds and I was already fucked-off with the whole antic. S suggested we take him upstairs so we did. To the third floor where our flat was. Me and S took the arms and J took the legs and we hauled him upstairs. Note by this point He’d already been dragged by two artistes of ze piss from the New Globe pub. Not an inconsiderable distance.

Now H was a big lad, about 6’0″ and of a muscular build. He was also skilled in karate so during his moments of near consciousness on that long haul up the stairs he’d lash out. There were a lot of law students in that block and I wonder if I’d been killed by a pissed beyond redemption Japanese fella lashing out in his fever-dream on the stair-case… God knows. In the end we got him to our landing by which point A who lived in the opposite flat was out in her jim jams asking (and A was not a woman given to swearing) “What the fuck is going on here?”. She had been greeted by a mise-en-scène which Hieronymus Bosch would struggle to create. Not only was the sound of hauling about 85 kilos of what might as well have been dead meat up a stairwell by two pissed blokes and me and the occasional yelling of what might have been Japanese disturbing but it must have looked dreadful and there was somewhat of a Dame Judi for he had befouled himself amidst many flabby-woof-woofs during which he finally followed through.

By this point A had decided (wisely) to play no part in this farrago and retired tutting. She’s from Middlesborough so must have seen some things. H recovered enough consciousness (or at least muscle memory) to crawl on all fours into the flat. After a bit he could stand (sort of) and undressed himself to his be-shitten boxers (in a last hope of preserving dignity). S helped him into the bath and turned the shower on gently. I know not why he did that but I was past caring by this stage. He remained there for about ten hours before emerging and declaring, “I’ve got a bastard behind the eyes”. He didn’t look too clever. J had gone to his room in a drunk’s pinball fashion before H was placed in the bath. H was looking slightly paler than Marley’s Ghost.

So I asked S (who was pissed but not the full house) what happened. They’d been drinking pints with rusty nail chasers. That explained a lot. H just collapsed in the battlecruiser and had to be dragged home. S reminded me the cleaner didn’t turn-up on a Saturday. Good, I guess, because we’d all be out on our arses if she’d seen H in the tub.

My tea was cold by now so I cracked open a can of Stella, played a bit of Civ and went to bed.

So now children. Now you know what to do, don’t do it!

There is no moral to this story.

Have I posted on this before?

20 years ago (doesn’t time fly?) I once carried an almost terminally drunk Japanese man up a couple of flights of stairs in Stepney. Have I told that one? If not it is a corker!

Or am I just in my anecdotage?

It’s all over folks!

Recently we had a gardening day here. Lots of weeding and such. I didn’t participate because it was very high pollen and everyone would have thought my entire family had flown EgyptAir.

Anyway, someone found the severed leg of a miniature goat. It is good it was found because it might have put the mindfulness group off the their meditations and onto their meds. The finder at first thought (due to it’s colour – black with bits of white) it might have been the cat until it was pointed out to him that cats don’t have hooves – he accepted his mistake in good grace.

Imagine a cat with cloven hooves! That is exactly what I want for my mission of evil. So, Mr Bond… and all that jazz. I guess I could get a Mao suit in Manchester. I certainly know parts of the city where I could get a scar…

I evinced the feory it was a fox what done it and there is a farm next to us…

…but you can’t help but wonder Kanye? (West – for those not hip enough to be a femur)

There is something in the woods out there. Something evil. A few years back I found a small soft toy crucified with barbed wire on a fence and then, a bit later, an abandoned toilet seat. I burnt the later though it might have come from The Lost Aracrapper of Doom (who indeed knows?). The omens are building. It is truly The End of Days!

Good heavens!” I cried. “Who would associate crime with these dear old homesteads?” “They always fill me with a certain horror. It is my belief, Watson, founded upon my experience, that the lowest and vilest alleys in London* do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside.”

- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

The second coming is upon us and it is happening in semi-rural, semi-suburban North-East Cheshire. The Daily Mail will tell in due course what effect this has on house prices but recall you heard this here first. I’m just waiting for the beast with seven heads and ten horns or possibly just Wayne Rooney.

*now gentrified and it’ll cost you a hundred grand for a dog house.

The Curious Incident…

A few weeks ago I was awakened by an ungodly mewling at an ungodly hour. So I stick my dressing gown on and fetch the torch for I knew it is Timmy (the cat) and he very clearly was very far from gruntled. So I search the house. No sign. So, I put my trainers on and head outside. We have a large garden and I’m hunting for a black cat in the dark with not much more than an old dressing gown (under my clothing I was wearing little or nothing, ladies), a pretty poor torch and a pair of trainers that cost 8 quid in Decathlon in Stockport. I thought fuck it! Did Ernest Shackleton quit on South Georgia? No he fucking didn’t! I was also still somewhat Brahms from last night’s debauch but kitty needed to be rescued and I was the only game in town for that and cats can make an appalling amount of noise for little creatures. And fuck it, Timmy has been my mate for years.

Two thoughts occurred to me. The first was, “If the rozzers are abroad and I am collared at 3 am wearing nowt but a dressing gown, Primark underwear and cheap trainers and carrying a torch wandering like an unquiet spirit of the damned in a domestic area I’m gonna end up in Strangeways. “Right sir, you were looking for a black cat at night – Get in the back of the van!. Second after that was lines from Eliot’s “Journey of the Magi”…

A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

That is life. Sometimes you have to go out in a dressing gown through the glom of nit whilst still half-pissed and wearing cheap trainers to look for a black cat in the dark.

I eventually found Timmy. He was in the connected Meeting House. I searched it as a place of last resort because I – to this day – have no idea how the fuck he got in (or why? To read the Bibles?*).

He curled up on my lap and I gave him a pouch of salmon and trout. I played with him for a bit. He might be a daft bugger but he is a comrade. And that is what matters.

Then I went back to bed.

*Quite a few years back me and a confederate fitted a projection screen in the Meeting House. This meant moi going into the attic for the bolts and such (he was a lot older so I did that). It is a very old building so I thought I might find something on this excursion – I mean in the Indy Jones fashion. I did. I found a magazine rack and an NHS commode chair (stained). But we must remain curious because you never know do you?

Why books still matter.

I don’t read books much. I have “x” number of computers in various states of order and an smartphone and a Kindle Fire. So why do I also have a very high quality slip-case edition of The Lord of the Rings? In four volumes (the fourth is the appendices etc). My Sindarin is probably better than my French! Well, better than my Quenya anyway.

Well, three reasons. My old copy from way back (single volume paperback) was falling apart – not from neglect but from use. My mother wanted to get me a birthday present and I wanted a nice set. In a very real sense the information revolution of the last couple of decades has created a demarcation between the “bit” and the “it”*. Anyone with internet access knows at a visceral level they have access to the Library of Babel** (and mainly free or very cheap) so a book in a sense becomes more of an object as we transfer our understanding of information from paper and ink to the ephemeral 1 and 0.

This was brought home to me (although I knew it at some level before) when I stood in awe just last year at the one book I’d love to own above all gold and silver. It was in Trinity College, Cambridge and was the first edition of Principia Mathamatica and not just any copy. This was Newton’s very own with his hand-written marginal notes for the second edition. It was like, for practicing Jews, looking at the first Torah written in blood and fire by YHWH Himself. Wow. And here is the three odd things. It is written in Latin (and I am very limited in that), it dates from an era when mathematicians didn’t want to disclose methods so even if I grokked the Latin the maths would be obscure to me (Newton didn’t want to disclose the calculus so re-wrote his proofs using da olde skool sums). And finally it is available free for download (in English).

So why does it matter? For the same reason the Wailing Wall matters to Jews or why old Beatle’s vinyl matters to music lovers. It is “it” and not “bit”. It is an actual physical thing. Over the last few years vinyl record sales have increased as CD sales have declined. It is about having soul. Which is an odd way of thinking. That the physical in some way embodies soul more than the abstract.

So that is why I cherish books. Because they are “things”. They are beyond mere information now. They once were information but they are now “stuff” which oddly elevates them because they are the thing in itself because the information is all online now.

They have lost their informational shackles to become free.

*Sorry to the late John Wheeler for that.
**Sorry to the late Jorge Luis Borges for that.

Eurovision 2016

Was won by Ukraine. The song was poor by even Eurovision standards but it won… From a poor lot but I went for Armenia.

There are reasons for that. That was daring attire. OK, the Aussie entry was better but a little demure for me and whilst they had the best song and singer the Armenian lit my candle more.

Ukraine deserved it because whilst there is a women wearing next to nothing there is also the antics of Vlad the Bad. Here is the winner…

Mr Putin. You don’t make yourself generally popular by invading other countries.

This is exactly how I feel…

Gender Identity & The Scientific Method.

I once had an office-mate called S. She had a female gerbil called Padmé (that is what happens if you allow astrophysicists of my generation to have pets). Anyway one Friday night my flat mates were out and they had a male hamster called Hammy (they were not from the top drawer in the tool box).

Anyway, I had a nice bit of fish so S and I had dinner round my gaff (not a date – just mates) and she asked if she could bring Padmé (and some wine). OK, S. So well into the second (maybe third) bockle we decided to see how the rodents would play together.

Guess what happened? The gerbil mounted the hamster and tried to make sweet, sweet love to it despite the gerbil being female and the hamster being male. In short the gerbil attempted to roger the hamster. Whilst two astrophysics students who were drunk (and somewhat stoned) watched. It was like a deleted scene from a David Lynch movie.

There is a moral here but I’m fucked if I know what it is. I may never have taught a pug to salute Hitler but I was (it was S’s idea in case the rozzers call) am somewhat an accessory (I opened the cage) to an attempted rodent on rodent rape.

Yes, Your Honour I have done questionable things but…

… Who hasn’t done questionable things. It all started with bringing fire into the cave.

Now I’m not claiming that S and my experiment was the “Italian navigator entered the New World” but the spirit of curiosity is the reason you are reading this drivel (and I’m writing it).

I know that quote from my Solar System Dynamics text by Carl Murray who taught me at QMC, London. I have scars from trying things out (usually with fire). But dear me! Unless you try the new what the buggery (arguably a bad term in the rodential context) and for every Enrico Fermi in his squash court there are a couple of pissed grad-students letting the rodents run just for the Hell of it. And that is why I did physics. For the sheer fucking Hell of it.

That is why for example I’d wannabe in the cockpit of the Bloodhound with Andy Green when he tries to drive a car at over 1000mph. The sheer Hell of it.

PS. neither rodent appeared harmed at all.

The Lord of the Fires…

When I was a kid in the early ’80s we were terrified by the possibility of nuclear war.

So me and the “Bash Street kids” built a nuclear shelter. We dug an enormous hole and lined it with the cardboard from my parents’ new bedroom set. Obviously if a 100kt Soviet nuke went off over the Vickers-Armstrong tank plant just down the road we’d be fine – due to the cardboard.

Nah! We weren’t even that thick back then. So we used it as a fire pit. I recall burning a cooker in it. I cannot recall (this was a while back) how that came to pass. I fail to remember but we ate off it. On one occasion S ate a pigeon off it. To say it was underdone… Well, a dose of jollop and a pair of AA batteries and it would have been flying again. He’d lost a bet so he had to eat it. Yup, a dead pigeon cooked on the remains of cooker in a fire-pit in Gateshead. John and Greg my friends cooking doesn’t get much worse than that.

Then I had an idea. A neighbour was renovating and had a shed-load (literally) of tarred roofing and asbestos to get rid off. So we got it. Now I made an innovation. If you mix roofing tar, asbestos and a serious fire (do try this at home kids!) it goes off like it’s 8:15. So given this we took to chucking this on and leaping over the pit.

Enormous fun was had by all until the aforementioned S, legs fully akimbo, received a blast to the technical area. On this occasion enormous fun was had by all but one. The rest of us were all laughing like drains whilst S was rolling on the grass making noises like the last wails of Chewbacca.

I think he now has kids so all is well that ends well.

There is no moral to this story.

The Daily Fail.

I have a life-long interest in aviation. The Daily Mail does not it would appear.

It has a story about an American pilot trying to fly around the World. The headline is…

“Around the world in a VERY private jet! Pilot begins solo flight across the globe on a journey completed by just 113 people”,

This is the picture…

Now you don’t exactly have to be Biggles to spot that is not a jet.

There a few things I know quite a lot about. Aircraft are one. there are many things I don’t know about. How much does the MSM sneak under my radar?

And in case you think it’s just The Mail… The BBC had Prince William flying solo in a Tucano within days of joining the RAF and with the pictures clearly showing an instructor getting in the second cockpit. Prince Harry was an Apache gunner and not pilot. It goes on and on.

I can cope with media bias in terms of op-ed. But when it is raw, obvious facts then I do wonder. I said it earlier and make no apology for repeating it. If you can’t get the facts right – the basic facts – I don’t care as to your opinion on anything.

It’s like the football scores. I may or may not agree with you as to how well a player did but I expect you to get the final score right. Unless you are Chris Kamara, obviously. Classic Kamara is, “Someone’s just scored Bob! Not sure at what end!”.

Infinity & the Mind

That is a book by the US SF writer and mathematician Rudy Rucker (extremely recommended).

I shall quote my former flatmate S and Woody Allen in good time.

But first the Russian oligarch…

A Russian millionaire is turning to cutting-edge science to try to unlock the secret of living forever.
Dmitry Itskov has brought together some of the world’s leading neuroscientists, robot builders and consciousness researchers to try to devise a system that will allow him to escape his biological destiny – by uploading the human mind to a computer.

Well that’s just dandy! What a date! A Russian robot. Doesn’t the word “robot” have Slavic origins and “Slavic” is somewhat linguistically linked to “slave”? Just saying. Having said that some of us poor souls are NUFC fans.

I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying.

Well, quite Woody. Quite.

I have no idea what S said. It was witty in 1996.

What was it?

God knows.

And I am not in a position to ponder much because I just spent 45 minutes with an Irish woman doing an under-gum cleaning on me. Quite frankly I would have much more happily gone over the top at The Somme. She was very nice but the procedure is about as grim as it sounds.

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