Ralph for President

I was reading this post by Jerry of the Scoutmasterminute.com on the qualities needed for a US President. He was saying that if the President and politicians followed the (US) Scout Law, then he or she couldn't go too far wrong!

A very good idea I thought, until my mischievous side remembered seeing this –


Ralph Wiggum for President in 2008!

I decided not to post this as a comment on Jerry's blog as it would detract from his sensible comment. So I hope Jerry can forgive me for the slight mickey take!

Bye Bye Beeb.net

Back in 1999, I signed up to beeb.net to provide my dial up internet connection. Since then I continued to use the email address that was associated with the account as it was easy to remember and was my name. However, the BBC decided to close the service and it was shut down yesterday. 🙁

The thing with this email address was that I never had a single bit of spam through it. Not bad for 9 years use!

My Blog Header Image

The photo at the top of my blog was taken on my then mobile phone, a Nokia N80, on a Saturday morning in November 2006. I was with our Cubs at Barnswood and took the photo after I’d taken some rubbish down to the bins. The sun was rising and I thought it was too good an opportunity to miss. I rather wished I had a real camera with me at the time, but you can’t really carry a camera around when emptying bins!

I took about 7 or 8 photos and thought I’d be able to put them together back at home to form a panorama. When I did, I used Photoshop  and this came out.

Barnswood (Large)

Not bad I thought! I wasn’t too happy with the join lines, but still it gave the right idea.

Then today, I was looking up some other info for something I wanted to do in Photoshop and I came across a little programme called Autostitch. This takes the individual photos and combines them to form a panorama but without the join lines! Reading a bit more into the site, I found out that this application is incorporated into Windows Live Photogallery! So using that, I came up with this.

04112006094 Stitch

No join lines! So after cropping and resizing to the correct dimensions, I’ve now got the improved image as my header.


As I said in an earlier post, the Scouts decided to make donations to the Burma Cyclone appeal and the China Earthquake appeal. I got round to doing this last week, online through Oxfam.

After the donation was accepted, I got confirmation emails to say the money had gone through. However, last week I got two separate letters from each appeal thanking me for the donation. This seems a little unnecessary to me as, although it’s always nice to be thanked, it looks like a waste of resources. Surely the cost of the paper, envelope, printing and postage could be better used helping those who need it.

I’ve emailed Oxfam to suggest they just send out confirmation emails, so it’ll be interesting to see what they think.

The Diary of Horace Wimp

I was listening to the best of ELO CD today and one song brought back some memories. The Diary of Horace Wimp was a single that my Uncle Alan played me when I went to visit him once. I was only 9 or 10 when I went to see him for the day. Mum put me on the train and he met me at his station. It would probably be thought of as wrong to put a 10 year old on a train on his own for 45 minutes these day, but it was great for me and I enjoyed the experience!

Anyway, Alan had a huge record collection (not to mention a huge library of books) and I think he’d just bought the single, so he played it for me. It seems odd now that he had this, as I think most of his record collection was classical with a few comedy records (which I still have). I thought it was quite good (10 year old’s taste!) and we played it a couple of times and then went off and made lunch together and did other exciting things. It was always a treat to go and see him and I think I must have gone to see him on my own a couple of times.

The big shame was that about 4 or 5 days after having a family meal at our house for his 40th birthday, he committed suicide. That was quite a big shock to me (as a kid of 10) and my sister, although we didn’t find out until many years later he’d killed himself.

I often wonder how our conversations would have gone if he were still around. Still the memories are there and so are the records. I still have that single!

Art, the Tate and Tigger!

While in London on Sunday I went to the Tate Modern. This is an old power station converted into an art gallery. I like going there as it’s quite funny sometimes seeing what is classed as ‘art’! Some of the most funny is in the old turbine hall. This is a huge area where the turbines for generating electricity were once housed.

The current ‘installation’ is called ‘Shibboleth’. This is basically a dirty great crack in the floor. It is supposed to represent the history of racism or something! Another barking mad artist who takes themselves far too seriously.

So I decided to create my own temporary installation!


‘Holiday Tigger sitting on a crack’

I’d bought Tigger for Carol as she’d stayed at home to look after her Dad who’s recently had a hip replacement. I couldn’t resist!

Perhaps I should charge £500 a print as it’s art. And it’s art ‘cos I say so!


I’m in London, staying with my Uncle and Aunt, for the model railway show at Alexandra Palace. I was chatting to my cousin yesterday and we realised that it was 90 years ago that our Great Grandfather was blown up and killed in the First World War. It was 1 day before our Grandpa’s (his son’s) 5th birthday. I realised that she’d never met Grandpa as she wasn’t born when he died. He knew she was coming, but that was it. Shame really as she would have really liked him.

School 1978 v School 2008

Scenario: Johnny and Mark get into a fistfight after school.
1978 – Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up mates.
2008 – Police are called, Armed Response Unit arrives and arrests Johnny and Mark. Mobiles with video of fight confiscated as evidence. They are charged with assault, ASBOs are taken out and both are suspended even though Johnny started it. Diversionary conferences and parent meetings conducted. Video shown on 6 internet sites.

Scenario: Jeffrey won't sit still in class, disrupts other students.
1978 – Jeffrey is sent to the Head's office and given 6 of the best. Returns to class, sits still and does not disrupt class again.
2008 – Jeffrey is given huge doses of Ritalin. Counselled to death. Becomes a zombie. Tested for ADD. School gets extra funding because Jeffrey has a disability. Drops out of school.

Scenario: Billy breaks a window in his neighbour's car and his Dad gives him the slipper.
1978 – Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college, and becomes a successful businessman.
2008 – Billy's dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy is removed to foster care and joins a gang. Psychologist tells Billy's sister that she remembers being abused herself and their dad goes to prison. Billy's mum has an affair with the psychologist. Psychologist gets a promotion.

Scenario: Johnny takes apart leftover fireworks, puts them in a model plane paint bottle and blows up an anthill.
1978 – Ants die.
2008 – MI5 and police are called and Johnny is charged with perpetrating acts of terrorism. Teams investigate parents, siblings are removed from the home, computers are confiscated, and Johnny's dad goes on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

Scenario: Johnny falls during break and scrapes his knee. His teacher, Mary, finds him crying, and gives him a hug to comfort him.
1978 – Johnny soon feels better and goes back to playing.
2008 – Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces three years in prison. Johnny undergoes five years of therapy.


Many a true word spoken in jest!

This was lifted from a post on the Edugeek site.

Comfort on Trains

Last week we went down to Paignton in Devon for a couple of days. Travelling down on the train we went via Reading, which is an odd way to go as it’s a greater distance but cheaper! Anyway, to get to Reading we travelled on a CrossCountry Voyager and from Reading on a First Great Western HST.

The difference between the the 6(ish) year old Voyager and the 30(ish) year old HST is amazing. First of all the MK3 coach is a lot quieter as there isn’t a 750hp diesel engine underneath your feet. As there is no engine under the floor there is also no vibration and rattles! There is also more space for the passenger and more seats 8 coaches as opposed to 4! Shame Virgin didn’t think about this when they bought them!

100_2608 (Large) 100_2609 (Large)

The view from the train at Dawlish!

It’s also interesting to note that First Great Western are using the HSTs in a dual role as an express from London to Exeter and then as a local from Exeter to Paignton! Interesting way to do things! Shame they’ve had to start using the ‘Nodding Donkeys’ again!

It was a cold weekend with a bitter wind coming off the sea, but we had fun.

Live Music

I’ve been trying to think of all the bands / artists that I have seen live in concert. Going to Glastonbury in 1999 and 2000 certainly helped! Anyway, here goes and in no particular order –

  • Paul McCartney
  • Pink Floyd
  • U2 (twice)
  • R.E.M. (twice)
  • The Levellers (twice)
  • The Beautiful South (twice)
  • Echobelly
  • Terrorvision
  • Pet Shop Boys
  • David Bowie
  • Manic Street Preachers
  • Chemical Brothers
  • Travis (twice)
  • Eric Clapton (three times)
  • Oasis
  • Lonnie Donnigan
  • Robert Plant
  • Al Green
  • Blondie
  • Carter USM
  • Elastica
  • Jools Holland & his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra
  • Joe Strummer
  • Bonny Raitt
  • Moby

Plus a load more when I can remember!