Two Biographies

After catching a glance of Tom Moore’s biography in a book shop this afternoon, I couldn’t resist the urge to make this.

It amused me, although the only problem is, most people interested in Tom Moore won’t know about Star Trek or Worf, and most Trekkies probably won’t know much about Captain Tom, so nobody will get the joke.

The Missed Penalty Nobody Can Forget

Apparently there’s a big England football match on later. I must be one of very few men in the UK who had no idea it was on until I turned the news on this morning. I’ll nonetheless be watching it in a couple of hours – well, you have to, don’t you? – although I must admit something I’m looking to watching far more is the first episode of Ken Burns’ documentary series about Hemingway, which starts this evening. I must say, though, I’ve begun to feel sorry for Gareth Southgate. Every time I’ve seen him being interviewed or spoken about today, the fact that he missed that famous penalty at Euro ’96 is mentioned. That was twenty-five years ago! The poor sod will never be able to live that miss down, will he?

Tensegrity

Today I came across something very, very cool – so cool that I need to record it here: Tensegrity. I’m not sure how, but I had never come across it before. I suddenly saw a picture on Facebook of a model appearing to float, and it instantly blew my mind. It looked impossible. Fortunately the picture had the name of the mechanism which the picture was illustrating, so I was able to Google it. Now I have hours of fun ahead of me finding out more. If you want to see what I’m on about, check this video out.

A Literary Question

Today I would just like to pose a question which I’ve been pondering for the past couple of days. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I’m looking forward to watching a forthcoming documentary series on Earnest Hemingway. It starts on Tuesday, so in preparation I’ve been checking out a few bios of him on Youtube. As you may know, Hemingway lived a large part of his life in Cuba and Key West, fishing in the Caribbean in the thirties and forties. It occurs to me that fellow writer Ian Fleming also lived out there at that time – did they ever meet? Of course, Cuba, Key West and Jamaica, where Fleming lived are completely separate islands so it’s far from certain that they crossed paths, but could they have? Would they have got on if they did? I haven’t yet seen any record that they met, but it occurs to me that the two writers were quite similar characters: macho, no-nonsense womanisers. I would be very interested to find out whether two of my favourite authors did ever meet, when, where, and what they thought of one another.

‘Frankly, it was awful’

Just to follow up on this entry a couple of days ago, it seems I was right to forecast that ‘One nation Day’ wouldn’t go down very well. The Independent is reporting that it was pretty much a car crash and ‘felt like propaganda’ to the teachers and students involved, forced to sing a ridiculous, nationalistic anthem. Many simply refused to participate. I suppose it goes to show that the UK isn’t the type of nation this sort of nauseating patriotism can be forced into, and the more the Tories try to do so in order to paper over the growing mess they’re making, the more pathetic they look.

Earliest Starlight Detected

I don’t have much to add to it, but you may be interested in this intriguing news that astronomers can now detect light from the earliest stars formed in the universe, just 250 to 350 million years after the big Bang. “The team analysed six of the most distant galaxies. They were so far away that even with the world’s most powerful telescopes they appeared as just a few pixels on the computer screen. They are also among the earliest to have emerged in the Universe and so, by the time their images are captured by telescopes on Earth, they are seen not long after the Big Bang.” As Mr. Spock (and Data, for that matter) might say: “Fascinating!”

Cringeworthy, nationalistic rubbish.

Surely we can’t sit back and let the Tories inflict nationalistic rubbish like this upon the country. They have just launched a sickening plan to force schoolchildren to sing a nauseating, ‘patriotic’ song as part of a scheme to bring the country back together. “The government has been criticised on social media after supporting a campaign encouraging schoolchildren to commemorate “One Britain One Nation” day on Friday….The campaign, led by former policeman Kash Singh who is chief executive and founder of One Britain One Nation (OBON), says it needs the support of schools to “celebrate the day in the spirit it is intended”. The site says “OBON is devoted to galvanising the efforts of people from all backgrounds to rejoice in their pride in Great Britain.” ” I can barely think of anything more cringeworthy: after they irreconcilably divide the nation by dragging us out of the EU, these snooty p’tahks try to paper over the cracks they created by trying to foster a sense of national pride, hoping it will make us all forget the blind fury and social and economic devastation Brexit has caused. Who do these wankers think they are? How deluded, how far up their own arse do you have to be to think that a condescending, patronising scheme like this can erase the divisions of the last five years? If anything, such a shallow gesture will probably divide the nation even more through it’s sheer arrogance.

Free Taxis

Just to follow up what I was thinking about yesterday about the accessibility of London public transport, earlier today I decided to look up what progress was being made in making the entire network usable by wheelchair users, and came across this cool nugget of information. Apparently, if no accessible route can be found, TFL will pay for a taxi for the wheelchair user: “If you arrive at a Tube, TfL Rail or Overground station and the lift is unavailable, staff will help you to plan an alternative journey to your destination. If there isn’t a reasonable alternative route, we’ll book you a taxi (at our cost) to take you to your destination or another step-free station from where you can continue your journey.” While it may only apply to lifts which are broken rather than non-existent, I find that pretty cool I must say, and quite reassuring: I now know that I can in theory get to anywhere I want across this city, although it makes me wonder whether it’s the same situation for disabled people in the rest of the country.

The confidence of London

I think I have written on here before about how I once saw London as a big, scary, intimidating place. I grew up in a relatively small town in the north west of England; a ten minute powerchair ride from our old family home would find me trundling down a lane between fields. Every few weeks, though, we would drive to London to visit my Greek Cypriot grandparents up in Harlesden; their house was where I was yesterday. Dad would drive me, mum and my brothers down for a weekend, but I remember always finding the metropolis huge and intimidating, far preferring the quiet green fields of Cheshire to the concrete sprawling labyrinth.

I got back to my place here in Eltham an hour or so ago. It was a nice, straightforward trip: a bus up to Wembley Park, the Jubilee Line to North Greenwich and then another bus to Eltham. All accessible and unproblematic. Having lived in London for eleven years now, I find I can move around the city with increasing confidence. That isn’t to say it’s perfect: nowhere near enough tube stations are wheelchair accessible, so TFL still have a lot of work to do. But when such problems crop up, I am now confident that I can find a work-around so I can get to where I want to go.

If I had been told, aged fifteen or so, that I would one day be living on my own in London, I would not have believed it. Back then the thought of always living with my parents brought me great comfort; the idea of riding the tube or even the bus on my own would have struck me as absurd – surely I needed help to do such things. That attitude began to change when I went to university, but it was completely thrown out of the window when I met Lyn and moved in with her. Living in Charlton with Lyn changed my perspective completely, both towards London and in terms of what I am capable of. I found I could organise my life, live how I wanted, and do what anyone else could, without needing the support of mum and dad. All of a sudden I had a huge great metropolis to explore, full of life and culture. I will always thank my lucky stars that I met Lyn; zark knows what I would be doing right now if I hadn’t. Thanks to Lyn, thanks to London, I know I’m capable of living my own life on my own terms, just like anyone else.

And so here I am, a happy, independent Londoner, just returned from a nice weekend with his parents (my brother Luke visited yesterday too), competent enough to live alone and navigate his way through one of the world’s greatest cities. A place which was once so frightening is now enthralling: if only that timid fifteen year old knew what I know now.