Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Saturday 30 March 2013

Jargogled, at all?

A slight touch of apricity at last, after so much lumming and the not so distant memory of snowbroth, not to mention the enlivening prospect of a longer twitter-light, tempted me out on my bike again.

Not that the exercise is likely to turn me into a monsterfully callipygian snoutfair, but it might hold at bay for a little longer the chances of becoming a complete jollux. Alas, the wind deals such a curglaff that any bike discovers its inherent resistentialism, gorgonizing the rider into an elflocked quockerwodger, reduced to groaking outside the chippy like a lunting slubberdegullion, or tempted into the warmth of the pub, even at the risk of a fuzzled, crapulous curmuring.

In case you're thinking these must be the beef-witted twattlings, hugger-mugger cant or grumpish brabbling of a lethophobic cockalorum, relax: it's just a test of whether it pays, as the Reader's Digest used to say, to increase your word power - with the help of this little list.

Saturday 23 March 2013

Having grown up in a Victorian house with the kind of plumbing that, if it ever needed attention, seemed to require copious amounts of teeth-sucking, solder and swearing, I'd always vaguely assumed that getting a water meter installed would be a major operation requiring lots of forms, several appointments and various sorts of precautionary clearing out.

Not so, in these modern times. An enquiry online to book a survey, a quick inspection of the pipework available (admittedly, some head-shaking over the peculiarities of the way the developers of this estate installed the exterior stopcocks and pipework, but that's no surprise), and the fitter had all the kit already with him to install a meter beside my water tank.

All done within the hour; and I now have an additional stopcock that doesn't require arm-dislocating contortions.

As to whether it will save money - we'll just have to see.

Saturday 16 March 2013

I've never taken much notice of "living statues" around London, but yesterday I was struck by the way a whole neat line of them had formed outside the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square: a silver cowboy, someone in a pig's head mask (who didn't see to have quite got the idea), a vague attempt at the princess from Shrek and a couple of gilded I-don't-know-whats.

As if that weren't surreal enough, after I'd taken my shot, a passer-by handed me his phone and asked me to take a photo of him with the cowboy; said passer-by was a young man wearing, no doubt for his own good reasons, a pink "Hello Kitty" onesie (or, as we persons of an older persuasion call it, a romper suit).

I think it may be spring. Or perhaps Red Nose Day had something to do with it.

Monday 11 March 2013

Friday 8 March 2013

Quietly miraculous

That's how Transport for London describes the bicycle, in Our Beloved Mayor™'s latest plan for cycling in London.

At last it looks as though someone on high has got the message that it will take consistent - and persistent - planning and commitment (and money) to achieve any sort of shift towards Dutch levels of usage. All the right noises are being made about what and who it's all for (ordinary people pootling to the shops, the station, the school) and what they might need to encourage them (segregation in time and space, thought-through planning of routes, junctions and integration with other public transport, consistent and easily understood signage and mapping). The headline spending figure looks eye-wateringly substantial too.

But that "quietly miraculous" is attached, in the document, the potential effect on health because of the reduction in air pollution if enough people ditch the car for the cycle; and no doubt neither it nor the date of publication has anything at all to do with the current  embarrassing court case about our laggardly progress in dealing with air pollution - dear me, no.

Tuesday 5 March 2013

This ramshackle arrangement is my set-up for contributing recordings to Librivox, the audiobook equivalent of the Gutenberg Project - putting out of copyright texts online.

All it needs is a reasonable (and not expensive) microphone, some free software and some technical guidance from the administrators, and anyone can contribute as much or as little as they like, to whatever project is listed on their messageboard as open for contributions.

Using the soft furnishings can muffle out ordinary background domestic noises, but not all external noises from delivery vans, planes and helicopters and the like. This can be frustrating in the middle of a stirring Victorian account of the Spanish Armada:

And though it's advisable to keep the throat well lubricated, it's best not to gulp in too much air at the same time:

Sunday 3 March 2013