The Anonymous Widower

Boring Television

It’s fascinating to read the heavyweight reviews on the BBC2 program, The Fifteen Billion Pound Railway, in the Independent and the Telegraph.

When did serious engineering programs get such coverage?

The Times has a report, if you’re a subscriber, but there’s nothing in the Guardian.

July 25, 2014 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

How Would The Scottish Diaspora Vote On Independence?

I ask this question as the BBC has a story about five famous Scots, who live outside Scotland would vote.

I can’t find a poll of Scots outside Scotland asking how they would vote, but I can add an anecdote.

I used to play real tennis with an American, who was an academic at Cambridge. His research area was  the relationship of the diaspora, with their original country. He had found that a lot of the troubles in the Indian sub-continent had been funded by donations from abroad. As a Bostonian, he did add that he didn’t think that the Irish in his home city, had helped find a solution in Northern Ireland.

I also think, that we all like places where we grew up or to which we have a strong connection, to do well and have control of their destiny.

For this reason, it could be that if Scots living outside Scotland had the vote, then the referendum would more likely be a vote for independence.

So could Alex Salmond have got it wrong, on not allowing Scots abroad to vote, if he wants the vote to go his way?

July 25, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

A Cool Place For Lunch

It was hot yesterday and I met an old friend for lunch.

As I’m a Friend of the British Museum, for myself and a guest, we went to the Members Room at the British Museum.

My old friend had a wrap and I had a salmon salad.  We washed them down with cold lemonade.

The Members Room is air-conditioned and it was a very pleasant way to spend lunchtime on such a hot day.

July 24, 2014 Posted by | Food, World | | Leave a comment

The Fifteen Billion Pound Railway

I’ve just watched the latest episode of the BBC documentary on Crossrail call the Fifteen Billion Pound Railway.

Part of this episode told a history of tunneling through the last fifty years, through old film and the eyes of one of the tunnellers, who’s been digging for fifty years, starting with manual methods on the Victoria line.

It is fascinating to see how techniques have improved even over the last couple of decades.

Just as with North Sea Oil exploration, where projects got easier, as cranes got bigger, it looks like tunnelling will get easier, as tunnel boring machines get bigger, more powerful and better designed.

So when they build Crossrail 2 will it be a quick and more financially efficient project? Having spoken to some of the planners of the project on Friday at Dalston Library, I suspect it will be. Especially, as they are cutting out one of the Hackney stations to save a billion and moving one terminus from Alexandra Park to New Southgate stations.

The lessons learned on Crossrail will also effect HS2, where I suspect we’l see even more tunnels, in the final design.


July 24, 2014 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

The Glasgow KISS Games

The Scots are known for their thrift and they certainly seemed to have used the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid) to produce an affordable opening ceremony last night.

The only extravagance would have been the amazing video screen, but that was probably hired through Sports Technology in Sussex, so we’ll see that and others like it, at events in the future.

The costumes and props for the show weren’t on the level of extravagance we’ve seen lately at some Games.

And it would appear that the only problem with the dogs was finding enough of them!

But the KISS principle has also been applied to the venues.

In a way holding the opening ceremony in Celtic Park by the athlete’s village was following what was done in London, where the athlete’s village was with all the main venues. This meant that athletes could enjoy the ceremony and then go to bed at a reasonable hour for competing today. We shouldn’t have games, where the athletes are some way from the venues. Both Glasgow and London have sufficient transport to cope for athletes and spectators.

But surely the masterstroke is building a combined sports hall and velodrome, with the facilities between the two arenas. You must get a hell of a lot more useable space for your money.

This one will be copied ad nauseum, all over the world.

July 24, 2014 Posted by | Sport | , | Leave a comment

The Scotties Steal The Show

It is generally reported in the media, that the Scotties stole the Opening Ceremony of Glasgow 2014. Look at what the Aussies said for example.

But it would appear, that finding enough dogs might have been a problem, as according to this article, they had to bring in Archie from Ringwood in England.

Perhaps they should have shared the duties around and perhaps got in a corgi for the Welsh team to add a touch of humour near the end.

Queen Elizabeth would have been amused!

It will be interesting to see if sales of Black and White whisky increase.

July 24, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

A Scot Gives His Reason To Say No!

On BBC Television this morning, a proud Scot said that he enjoyed the ceremony last night. For him, one of the uplifting moments was the Red Arrows.

He stated that if the Scots vote Yes, then there could be no more displays north of the border. See where their displays for 2014 are here. Two and last night’s performance are in Scotland.

July 24, 2014 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

I Wonder What The Duke Thought Of It!

Glasgow has got past the first hurdle, by opening the Commonwealth Games without any obvious hitches.

It will be interesting to see how the Duke of Edinburgh rates the ceremony amongst the dross, he has watched in his lifetime.

I would rate it fairly high up the scale, but Glasgow had two big advantages over say the Olympics in Beijing or Athens.

All the proceedings were done in a language that we and most of the spectators understand perfectly.

But perhaps more importantly, Glasgow had one of the first uses of a 96m. wide video screen, which meant instead of training masses of drummers, dancers and musicians, you just set some good programmers and video editors to work to weave some magic. You then prayed that you didn’t get a blue screen of death like Beijing did in 2008.

Perhaps it was just to save money on costumes and performers, but Glasgow kept it simple and colourful. Which worked!

But will Rio do the same for the 2016 Olympics? I hope so.

They’ll certainly use the screen or perhaps two! Without doubt it was impressive technology.


July 23, 2014 Posted by | Sport | , , | Leave a comment

Redesigning The Ugly

There are lots of everyday common blots on the landscape, that are just downright ugly.

Take the electricity pylon. In all my years of travelling, I’ve never seen any that could be described as beautiful. If we didn’t want them to spoil the landscape, we’d bury them, as happens in most towns and cities.

However, there was a competition a few years ago with a £5,000 prize to find a better pylon. It’s all described in this report.

I’ve not seen any better ones yet!

So now it is time for the designers to look at the overhead lines used on railway lines. The thoughts and ideas are detailed here.

How many everyday objects can be improved by better design and materials?


July 23, 2014 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Liverpool Gets The Puppets Out Again

In 2012, Liverpool staged the Sea Odyssey: Giant Spectacular to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.

On Friday, they’re staging another giant puppet show to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Great War. It’s reported here in the Liverpool Echo.

I wish I could go, but I’ve got to be here for my builders on Friday, which would be the best day.

You may question, if a free show like this is a good idea, as surely it costs a lot to setup. This is what Wikipedia said about the financial benefits of the Sea Odyssey.

An independent report into the impact of Sea Odyssey concluded it was the most successful event in Liverpool’s history. The report showed that 800,000 people took part in the event, which resulted in an economic impact of £32 million.

So it would appear that spectacular events are a good idea financially.

How much did Leeds, Cambridge and London benefit from the Tour de France? And after the Commonwealth Games, how many people having a holiday in Edinburgh, will now take the trip across to Glasgow?

What odds will I get on the French puppeteers turning up in Liverpool again in a few years time. Perhaps they’ll bring a puppet of Red Rum to the Grand National!

July 23, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment


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