On the one hand I watching athletics on the BBC in the centre of Newcastle amongst all of the bridges and the iconic buildings. It’s called the Great North City Games.
On the other hand, I’ve just had an e-mail describing the Sound Tracks Festival in East London, which is taking place at three main venues and you get between them on the East London line. Someone has remarked that it’s quicker to get between stages, using the train, that walking through the mud at Glastonbury. And of course there’ll be acoustic acts, including bands and a harpist on the connecting trains. I wonder what the Brunels would have said, if they’d known that their Thames Tunnel, would be transporting mobile concert halls between the two sides of the river.
We now have some fantastic pieces of infrastructure, both new and old and we should be imaginative about how we use them.
Yesterday at 16:26 I ordered a new laptop battery from Amazon. Just before 12:00 this morning, the door-bell rang and on checking through the window, I saw a courier with a box marked Amazon. The check was because I’d seen some Jehovah’s Wasters walking up and down the road and thought it was my turn to be annoyed. I get them usually once a week. We need a preference service where you can register to stop calls from these people.
The box contained the new battery and it’s now up and running and being used for this post.
Would anybody complain about that very speedy service?
During the Second World War, the husband of one of my father’s employees, had been fighting the Germans in the Western Desert. One of his duties at one time, was to liaise with the Gurkhas and he had many tales of their bravery, which I heard in the 1950s.
So I have a lot of respect for those from other countries, like Fijians and Zimbabweans who have taken the King’s or Queen’s shilling.
I don’t know who put the thought in my mind, but I’ve generally felt that to recruit soldiers from abroad has been one way to get the costs down.
So when the campaign started to give former Gurkha soldiers the right to settle here, I was generally in favour, although I had a few reservations about how it would be implemented fairly. Gordon Brown had no choice but to give in to the demands, as this report from the Guardian shows.
I don’t blame him for doing it, but he didn’t fund the consequences of his decision. He was very weak and didn’t think things through properly. In other words, he showed his true colours and probably hastened the end of his tenure at Number 10.
So now we have reports from Aldershot, about hardship and resentment from the local inhabitants. It led to a very heated debate on Radio 5 this morning.
All of this could have been avoided by Gordon Brown calculating what the cost of his actions would be. But then we all know to our cost that arithmetic wasn’t his strong suit.
I diidn’t say this, Chris Huhne did and it’s the lead story on the front page of The Times.
But it’s true!
- The first thing I did with this house was to get rid of most of the high consumption bulbs. For a start I had 17 of those awful halogen downlights, that make better short life room heaters, than lights. The LEDs I used were a straight replacement.
- I searched for electricity and gas companies that gave me a good deal.
- But my biggest saving was selling my car and using public transport. That is not for everyone, but surely many families could make do with one less vehicle.
It’s not difficult, but people always find an excuse not to save money. And then moan about it.
They do have donation boxes and I can’t say I do it every time, but I generally drop a note in every so often, when I visit the British Museum or the National Gallery, which I do fairly regularly on a walk-through basis. Both are great totally dry short-cuts in the rain, with a lot more to see.
In the next few months, London’s transport system will start to accept credit cards, in addition to Oyster cards. You’ll just touch in, in the same way.
It would be interesting to note, if the ability to touch a credit card on a reader to say donate £3, would increase donations in museums and galleries, as often finding suitable change is not as easy, as getting out a card. You might even be able to use Oyster, as this might encourage visitors to buy one.
Tom Hunter is a well-known artist based in Hackney. A friend had invited me to a talk at the National Gallery by Tom to discuss a painting by Piero di Cosimo called A Satyr Mourning a Nymph. Tom had used it as an inspiration for one of a series of large format photographs based on a series of headlines in the Hackney Gazette. There is more about the talk here.
It was all very enlightening and enjoyable. It made me think that why don’t museums and galleries do this sort of talk and discussion more.
The National Gallery had just set up several ranks of folding chairs in front of the Piero di Cosimo painting and admission to the talk was free.
In this case the discussion was quite deep and some new insights into the painting seemed to have come forward. My friend even felt that the nymph was pregnant, which was a view supported by others and according to one of the curators of the gallery had not been proposed before.
In some ways it was slightly surreal for me, as I’d just featured in a headline in the Hackney Gazette. I can’t find it on-line, but it was about my 92 Clubs trip.
When I was young Trafalgar Square was rather a tacky place, where you went for New Year’s Eve, if you cvould brave it. Traffic rushed everywhere and the central part was completely cut off from everywhere else. But look at it now.
It just shows how things can be improved by removing the traffic.
Is there a more impressive important square in a European capital?
The only problem, is that some Ipswich Town fans might protest that the admiral on the column is from Norfolk.
I do have some happy memories of the place from when I stood on the Fourth Plinth.