Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

Armistice Day

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

Red poppy

Two poems that sum up the tragedy of it all.

Dulce et decorum est

Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams before my helpless sight
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

‘Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori’ words from an ode by the Roman poet Horace: ‘How sweet and honourable it is to die for one’s country’.

On Passing the New Menin Gate

Siegfried Sassoon

Who will remember, passing through this Gate,
The unheroic Dead who fed the guns?
Who shall absolve the foulness of their fate,
Those doomed, conscripted, unvictorious ones?
Crudely renewed, the Salient holds its own.
Paid are its dim defenders by this pomp;
Paid, with a pile of peace-complacent stone,
The armies who endured that sullen swamp.

Here was the world’s worst wound. And here with pride
‘Their name liveth for evermore’ the Gateway claims.
Was ever an immolation so belied
As these intolerably nameless names?
Well might the Dead who struggled in the slime
Rise and deride this sepulchre of crime.

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela – 1918-2013

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Nelson Rolihlahla MandelaPhoto © Yousuf Karsh

RIP Madiba

The Black Angel’s Death Song

Monday, October 28th, 2013

The myriad choices of his fate
Set themselves out upon a plate
For him to choose
What had he to lose

Not a ghost bloodied country
All covered with sleep
Where the black angel did weep
Not an old city street in the east
Gone to choose

And wandering’s brother
Walked on through the night
With his hair in his face
On a long splintered cut from the knife
of G T

The rally man’s patter ran on through the dawn
Until we said so long
To his skull
shrill yell

Shining brightly red-rimmed and
Red-lined with the time
Infused with the choice of the mind
On ice skates scraping chunks
From the bells

Cut mouth bleeding razor’s
Forgetting the pain
Antiseptic remains cool goodbye
So you fly
To the cosy brown snow of the east
Gone to choose
choose again

Sacrificials remains make it hard to forget
Where you come from
The stools of your eyes
Serve to realize fame
choose again

And roverman’s refrain of the sacrilege recluse
For the loss of a horse
Went the bowels and a tail of a rat
Come again
choose to go

And if epiphany’s terror reduced you to shame
Have your head bobbed and weaved
Choose a side
to be on

If the stone glances off
Split didactics in two
Leave the colours of the mouse trails
Don’t scream, try between
If you choose, if you choose, try to lose
For the loss of remain come and start

Start the game
i chi chi
chi chi i
Chi chi chi
ka ta koh
Choose to choose
Choose to choose, choose to go

 

RIP Lou Reed (1942-2013)

 

The Crazy World of Inkjet Printers (3)

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Well it’s happened again. Just three months out of warranty and the print head on my Deskjet 3070a has died (no it’s not repairable or replaceable) and with a batch of spare ink cartridges I’m stuck with buying yet another HP printer. At least the people who I spoke to at HP technical support were as polite and helpful as they could be under the circumstances. Eventually I got passed on to sales and they offered me a big discount on a new Photosmart 5520 with free delivery which arrived less than 12 hours after I placed the order. This has a two year warranty, so expect another post on this topic in about 25 months time!

Kevin Ayers – R.I.P.

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Kevin AyersI just heard on the news that Kevin Ayers has died. Kevin was one of the founders of the band Soft Machine in the 1960s. They were the first band I ever saw live (at the Country Club in Belsize Park in 1969). He left Soft Machine later that year and began his meandering solo career writing beautiful songs that not many people ever heard. John Peel said that Ayers along with Syd Barrett were “the two most important people in British pop music. Everything that came after came from them.” I couldn’t disagree.

I actually met him once – he was very nice to me.

The Crazy World of Inkjet Printers (2)

Friday, February 17th, 2012

About three years ago I blogged about how crazy it is that it’s cheaper to buy a new inkjet printer than it is to buy a set of new ink cartridges. Well the printer I bought then died recently just because the nozzles on the print head were blocked. Replacing this part is just a question of taking out the ink cartridges, unlocking a clip and lifting out the print head. I phoned HP to find out if I could order a replacement part, but was told that it would cost me £15 just to speak to a service technician! I did find a way of ‘speaking’ online to someone who told me that the part would cost about £60 plus delivery, so here I am again having just bought another new printer. It had to be an HP which takes the same size cartridges, as I have about £100 worth sitting in my drawer. But now it’s impossible to buy a small A4 inkjet without it having a scanner built in. I don’t need another scanner – I already have a high quality one. But there was no choice. So now I have an old printer that needs just one replacement part that will be going into the recycling bin and a new printer with a redundant scanner. Madness!

Blue Plaques on Google Earth

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

blue plaqueI’ve just added a Google Earth KMZ file to the GE Community website which shows the location of all of the English Heritage London Blue Plaques. You can see this in your browser if you have the Google Earth plugin. Or click here to download the full Google Earth program. It took some time to convert the listing on the EH website – I hope you think it was worth it.

Tate Modern

Saturday, June 6th, 2009

Went to the Tate Modern with friends today. I have to say that I really hate what they’ve done to Gilbert Scott’s old Bankside Power Station building. They’ve totally ruined the proportions by sticking what looks like a line of port-a-cabins on the roof. And the way the galleries are curated is just bizarre. But as we were on our way out there was a mass invasion of the turbine hall by people dressed as pirates from Captain Pugwash who proceeded to lie on the floor making the shape of the Black Pig.

Thames Panorama

We also looked at the Robert Morris: Bodyspacemotionthings interactive installation which was great fun – much less po-faced than all that art-with-a-capital-A.

While we were having coffee I took some photos from the balcony which I stitched into a panorama – not bad considering the photos were taken on my camera phone.

Thames Panorama

The Crazy World of Inkjet Printers

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

Well, I’ve just ordered a new inkjet printer (HP D5460) not because I need one – my old inkjet still works fine – but because it’s cheaper than buying a new set of cartridges for my old one. The upside is that it’s a much higher quality than the old one, which I’ve had for nearly four years. The downside is; what do I do with the old one? Any suggestions welcome.