Monthly Archives: February 2012

School’s out forever..

Rummaging through my old school and uni work is always an interesting prospect, but a disappointing experience.  It was required today as the parents are having a big clear-out.  As such I needed to select things to keep, and consign considerable portions of my education – from Primary School right through to University – to the bin (I could of course have kept it all, but that would seem a bit silly).

That I haven’t beaten a path to reclaim these treasures after not far off ten years of home ownership speaks volumes of both my procrastination powers and of course the fact that they’re probably not all that interesting.  Indeed, the most interesting part of the rummaging was the random insults, graffiti and drawings that adorned certainly most of my school books.  After a considerable sort through I probably elected to keep less than 10% of the total.

To the skip! These are the the years of work that never made it!

It’s kinda sad to see them end up in the skip tomorrow, but there’s not much point in lugging it all back home only to dump it in the loft indefinitely – so I’ve been ruthless.  I kept a few examples, a few assignments and any feedback/report type stuff I encountered – so there’s an edited collection to fuel future nostalgia sessions at least.  Or to sit in not-quite-such-a-big corner of the loft indefinitely.

None of my studies really proved of much relevance to my work – except some of the statistical deviations in A-Level Mathematics I suppose – so it seems daft to worry about keeping hold of it.  Probably the most compelling artefacts were those that offered a nugget into the friendships (or otherwise!) blossoming at the time – with musings, graffiti, drawings and often flagrant abuse adorning many of my book covers.

So there you have it, over a decade and a half of education and the most compelling things to keep are those snatched moments of creativity or evidence of socialising (or teenage boyish insulting, more often than not).  I did ponder how stressed I was about the preparations for a ‘Topic Talk’ about Hallowe’en that I had written for the last year of Primary School but well, meh.  Maybe I’ll look back on things that stress me out now with a similar degree of bemusement in the future.

Geography doodles - apparently I was also easily distracted at school!

At some point I’ll have a proper scan through the bits and pieces I decided to keep hold of, including a manual for a rudimentary piece of Acorn Archimedes software I wrote in BASIC for my GCSE in Computer Science unfeasibly called ‘Rastabase‘!!

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When we popped to see Mum and Dad a couple of days prior to Ma’s birthday they were in the midst of a garage clear-out.  One of the things being cleared out was an intriguing boxed instrument called a Revealer.  After scouring a sparsely populated internet about the subject it turns out to be a rather magnificent solution to dowsing, a subject I have at least dabbled with in the past.  I suspect this one was originally used to seek out pipes and things rather than the ley lines I was seeking, though!

I duly took it away to find out more about it – I found the British Society of Dowsers forum and posted on there, as they had discussed Revealers in the past.  I was greeted with the news that as a possessor of an original set of instructions that probably made me the expert on the forum regarding this particular device.  D’oh!  So I’ve scanned in those instructions (well, I’ve used my phone to made a PDF file of them using the camera) and included a link below.

The ‘Water Detection’ Paragraph is a bit damaged by a tear – so I’ve typed out the details of that section here – I had wondered what the corked glass tubes were for in the box, mystery solved!  The small metal ring that just fits over the cylinders remains a mystery, though.


When the operator approaches the water course, the indicator rods will move towards each other as in figures 1 and 2 of the general operating instructions.  The rods will begin to move outwards, as in figure 7, when the operator is quite close to the position of the water, and when they are fully extended the operator is directly over the point of location.  Water is identified by holding a tube full of water and the void sample on the mineral bracket to the right-hand detector cylinder.  The presence of water in pipes cannot be detected.

I’m quite tempted to give it a road test when I get the chance to see whether it works or not – I’m particularly intrigued by the mineral bracket – which looks like a hand-guard that fits over the right hand cylinder.  Basically upon detecting something if you return to that spot gripping one of the minerals on the bracket (they’re on an elasticated type fitting) then the detection shouldn’t ‘work’ – helping you work out the composition of whatever it is you have detected.

Here’s ‘The Revealer’ in all its’ glory, which was proudly distributed by J. C. Oliver (Leeds) Limited.  Indeed, they were the sole distributor.  They had clearly moved premises around the time this one was made as there’s an amendment to their address on the instructions – it might help date it, if anyone out there knows when they moved from 28 York Place to David Little House.  Whenever it was, they didn’t have postcodes and phone numbers only had five digits!

The Revealer

And here is a link to the instructions in PDF form.

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The wheels on the bus go round and round..

This post is entirely Chris’ fault for posting an impromptu bus-journey poetry-fest that spiralled out of control on a Facebook status – and therefore you can either immediately disregard it, or blame him if you read on!

I used to love catching the bus when I was young, now I consider it a singular displeasure that sometimes I have to endure. My dim memories of waiting on Mapperley Top with Mum as a kid, awaiting the 50 to take us to town, heading down Woodborough Road. As independence followed we were still on the same bus route, albeit further away from town down Westdale Lane. The first child’s fare I can remember paying was about 30p.

Back then people smoked on the top deck, but it was also where you inevitably wanted to sit as a kid.  If you got the front seat on the driver’s side then you could look down the ‘periscope’ style arrangement of mirrors and see-through panels that the driver could use to observe the upper-deck. No security cameras in these days, if there was a rumpus on the upper-deck then the driver needed to decode mirror-in-mirror images to determine the best course of action.

Marple Square Shopping Centre in St Ann's - shortly before being demolished.

On the way home it was much better to sit upstairs at the front on the left side, though.  The reason for this was on Woodborough Road as you passed the Beirut-like Marple Square shopping Centre in St. Ann’s and continued up past the Catholic Church, you’d start to encounter a series of over-hanging trees as you skirting Mapperley Park on the way up to Mapperley Top.  These trees would veritably thwack against the window giving you a real adrenaline ride experience in the name of public transport.

Back on to Marple Square I can always remember wanting to get off the bus at some point and explore this strange urban wasteland.  I presume during the nineties it was open, but you never saw many people hanging around there – there was something really attractive about the bleak vista that clearly some kind of soulless town planner had thought would be a good idea at some point in the 50’s or 60’s.  I never did, it’s been razed and replaced with new apartments now.

I’ve skipped ahead of something quite important though, Nottingham City Transport buses have – like now – always shunned the idea of giving people change, expecting you to have the right amount of cash for your fare.  Unscrupulous children could gather a collection of coppers and see by how much they could short-change the driver by chucking enough low-demonimation coins into the hopper.  I never did that, well, not unless I was genuinely short of change.

Once you had paid the driver then you’d need to advance to the ticket machine mounted behind him (or occasionally her) to take a ticket spat forth by a cranky sounding dot matrix ticket printer with a ‘bzzzzzt-bzzt-bzzzzzt!‘ noise – it would give you a small sliver of paper emblazoned with branding down the middle (and later would evolve to adverts) the two edges had been adorned with purplish printing detailing your fare, bus route, date and the all important ticket number.

There was a mythology surrounding the four-digit ticket number – kids would add the four individual digits together – if they added up to 21 they were lucky.  As we got older they became something you were supposed to write your telephone number on and give to a member of the opposite sex that you fancied.  I’m not sure how many budding romances were kicked off with a bus lottery ticket – probably not that many really.  They are an unsatisfactory shiny paper thing bubble-jetted at you from next to the driver now.  It’s not the same.

All NCT buses looked like this - so you had to look at the number!

All the Nottingham City Transport buses were green – they had hideous upholstery of black and orange fabric, and they certainly packed the seats in more tightly than in modern buses.  I’m sure when I used to catch the 210 from Westdale Lane to school there were scores more children on there than you’d fit on a modern bus.  The tension between the Arnold Hill kids and those going onward to Christ the King eased by the sardine effect of being crammed into such a confined space.  22p was the first fare I remember paying on that route – having grown old enough to be too lazy to walk to school.

Being a bus regular for school and right through to my first forays into work in town there were regular drivers too – one had a mullet and looked a bit like Ian Botham, one was unpolitically-correctly referred to as ‘Saddam’ by us – but not to his face.  They used to drive to their colleagues driving the route in reverse too – they might still do that, for all I know.  When I was a student I had a bus pass, after I didn’t – but the fare was just 65p to get to town from Mapperley.  It’s £1.70 now.  Robbing bastards!

As seats became spaced out, more contoured and technicoloured, as buggy areas expanded and the big flat luggage area where we used to fold ourselves into as school children was retired (as was the ‘under the stairs’ luggage triangle) whilst video screens show a mash-up of security footage and advertising, the ‘ping’ of the bell has evolved into a buzzer along with a light to confirm the pressing, digital displays to show numbers and destinations instead of a scrolling affair furiously updated by drivers with a series of levers and pulleys  – well, something magic about bus journeys has gradually been eroded into sterile tedium.

Some bastard has even cut back the over-hanging tree branches on Woodborough Road.

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And they danced, with wild abandon in a ghost-like trance..

Through a few degrees of separation, starting with 3 Daft Monkeys and their latest single, through to this folk webcast thing led me to reading about the Dancing Plague in Strasbourg back in 1518.  This historically documented event was the inspiration for the Monkeys song ‘Days of the Dance’ (which you should avail yourself of, for it is awesome).

In a nutshell a lady of Strasbourg – a town that had suffered famine and difficult times – called Frau Troffea took to the street and danced.  There was no music, she just danced.  Within a week she had a few dozen companions who had joined her in this eerie mania, after a month the dancers numbered in the hundreds, and there had been fatalities through heart attacks, strokes and exhaustion.

The authorities at the time believed the solution was to get them to ‘dance it out’ so to speak, so hired musicians and made space for the dance to continue.  Day and night.  Of course, it’s referred to as a dance – but this one came with foaming-at-the-mouth, animal noises and rolling around in the dirt.  We’re certainly not talking a square-dance or a rave, here!

There’s lots of theories regarding the cause, but none that seem to match all the symptoms.

Of course, there’s only so much you can learn from Wikipedia so perhaps I should pick up a copy of John Waller’s book on the subject that might perhaps offer a greater insight into this spooky event.  I do like unraveling something I enjoy (in this case a 3 Daft Monkeys song) and tracing a path through to the original inspiration – and, of course, encountering some nice music to boot courtesy of the good folks at FolkCast.

Probably not the most productive day off from work I’ve ever had (although I have had some fun toying with a door-to-door and a telephone-based salesperson today as well), but absorbing nonetheless.  I’m off to play football shortly, so at least I’ll be getting outside and running about a bit!

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Do something amazing today..

I’ve weened myself off media whoredom (or the media has weened itself off me I suppose – since I never really go out looking for it..) of late, particularly on the Forest front at least – which is a blessing as there’s been little to talk about that isn’t bleak there.  Okay, I did talk to the lovely folk at Radio Nottingham to offer my thoughts about Nigel Doughty upon the news of his passing.

However, I’m sure you’ll forgive me the indulgence of accepting the approach from the local BBC team to cover my stem-cell match as part of the local ‘Join for Joel’ campaign to recruit potential donors for the Anthony Nolan Register.  If you’ve not heard Joel’s story, then click this link and read some more about him, because he was a really inspirational young man who was taken from the world far too soon by Leukaemia.

If you are 40 or under and fit the other criteria set out by Anthony Nolan, then do register – you don’t know who might be out there desperately hoping for a donor to materialise who happens to match your stem cell characteristics.  If I can’t convince you in writing, then maybe Joel, his Mum – Anne-Marie and I can do so through speech…

The odds of finding a stem cell match are one in tens of thousands – the more people who register to be a donor the better the chance sufferers of Leukaemia or Lymphoma have of finding what might be the vital ingredients for a transplant.

Go on, be a hero – it takes less than ten minutes.

You would be if you registered, even if you are never a match.

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Eh, Big Yin!

Whilst the weekend has focused around what would have been an insincere-gesture-at-best that ultimately didn’t happen (the Suarez/Evra handshake), I’ve had a pretty good weekend, all told – although that it’s drawing to an end is as ever sad news.

It started on Thursday night for me with a trip to Warsop with Chris and Alex for the gig mentioned in the previous post, which I really enjoyed.  The few-too-many ciders made having a day off work on Friday a very good idea indeed!  Friday evening saw a trip into Nottingham to see Billy Connolly – he was on good form after a slow start, he sensibly ended his line of poking fun at Stuart Pearce earlier than I suspect he’d planned initially after disgruntled murmuring in the crowd.

Saturday of course is football day – I did take in the more-soap-opera-than-football-match game at Old Trafford, which was made bearable by being in a pub with friends rather than as a footballing master-class.  The most important event of the day, after signing Nigel Doughty’s book of condolence and making a modest contribution to the impromptu memorial at the ground of course, was actually witnessing a Forest goal at the City Ground.

Unfortunately a couple of Forest players fluffed their lines meaning we conceded an equaliser on the stroke of half time and saw a series of opportunities go begging thanks to – well – incompetence, I suppose.  Cotterill’s changes came too late I thought – but it was good to see a spirited performance from the boys in Red for a change, and not be leaving the ground having earned no points at all.  Having said that, one point still isn’t really enough – struggling to see how relegation will be avoided, but there were some glimpses of positivity.

Bah. Back to work tomorrow.

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Now I know how it feels to be a short fat man…

As opposed to being a tall fat man, as I’m more accustomed to being!  It was great to see Jon Sevink of The Levellers fame performing with Dan Donnelly of, um, Dan Donnelly fame (well worth checking out, an excellent singer-songwriter).  Ferocious Dog were supporting, although they took to the stage last – possibly as a concession to the potential for bad weather – either way, it worked really well and a splendid night was had by all, and everyone got home in one piece despite the worry the wintery weather threatened to pose.

Unusually for me I didn’t dutifully record or snap lots of pics – indeed, only the evidence of attending at all is the photo Chris kindly took for me included above.  However, I have my memories – and they’re awesome!

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Here she comes, the great leveller..

Nigel Doughty: 1957 - 2012. Rest in peace.

The sad news about Forest’s owner passing away at the weekend has been quite the shock to the Forest supporting community, and of course beyond.  Nigel Doughty was a man who I greatly admired, probably more for his philanthropic nature rather than as the owner of my football team.  Being ensconced in a corporate environment that dabbles in good causes, it’s a real tightrope to support charities under a commercial banner without making my cynical-senses start to tingle.

It wasn’t like that with Nigel.  He quietly and kindly backed charities like ChildLine generously, he funded the endoscopy unit at Newark Hospital and named it for his mother – all without fanfare, not for ‘PR’, just to put something back – to make the world a better place.  I admire that greatly.  Certainly his stewardship of Forest didn’t quite hit the targets all fans – and he was a fan – desperately hoped for, but it wasn’t for the lack of good intentions.  £100m or so once the ongoing commitments over the next couple of years are met.

That’s a lot of money.

One phoenix from the ashes of this sad news is the initiative kicked off by my mate Paul, and picked up and run with with both Forest fans and beyond is the raising of more than £3,000 (with gift aid on top) for ChildLine in memory of him.  What a tremendously fitting way for people to rally together and do some good in the name of somebody who has passed away.  It’s always nice to have a bit of faith in humanity restored.

Naturally my and other fans thoughts and best wishes go out to Nigel Doughty’s family, friends and colleagues at what must be an awful time.

That said, of course life does go on for the rest of the world – whilst the weather put paid to the not particularly hotly-anticipated encounter Forest had with Derby at the weekend (normally it would be, but let’s face it, we’d have got a panelling!!) the Reds are back in action at the weekend.  It’s bound to be a sombre atmosphere, but bejesus we could do with a win against Watford.

Indeed, in the light of sad news it reminds you to take the time out to live life – this week I’ve a good opportunity to hold true to this.  Thursday night it’s off up to Warsop to see Ferocious Dog who are supporting Dan Donnelly and Jon Sevink, which will be great.  A day off from work to follow (and a lift – so I can drink!) and Friday marks Night Light in Nottingham, and more importantly for us we’re off to see Billy Connolly.  Hopefully the Big Yin doesn’t have a tantrum at hecklers and storm off stage!

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