The Anonymous Widower

Omicron I Can Understand, But Arwen Is Surely A Funny Name For A Storm!

This article on the Birmingham Mail is entitled Storm Arwen: What Does The Name Arwen Mean And Who Chooses Storm Names?.

It says this about Arwen.

The name Arwen is believed to be of ancient Welsh origin and means “fair” or “good”. It is most commonly a female name.

Arwen was made famous by J.R.R Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings book series, which sees the name translated to “noble maiden” in Sindarin.

I’ve never read any of Tolkein’s books or seen any of the films, but I have played real tennis several times with one of his cousins.

He is or was a man who was involved with high-vacuum scientific equipment. He had some interesting tales about selling the equipment to the Soviet Bloc. He said that he always had a few of his cousin’s books handy, as they made excellent presents to oil the wheels of Soviet bureaucracy.

I hope everybody reading this, has been untroubled by the wrath of Arwen.


November 27, 2021 Posted by | World | , , , , | Leave a comment

Good Omens For Mr. Biden

This extract is from today’s diary in The Times.

The election of Joe Biden, despite the twitterhoea tantrums of the toddler in the Oval Office, continues a correlation noted four years ago by the writer Brydon Coverdale between American presidents and the sequence of Mr Men books. Donald Trump is the 45th president and the 45th Mr Man is Mr Rude, an easy fit. No 44 was Mr Cool (Barack Obama) and No 43 Mr Cheerful (George W Bush). Going back further, the all-action Teddy Roosevelt has the same number as Mr Strong and Ronald Reagan shares his with Mr Brave. Grover Cleveland, the only president to return to office after being voted out, has Mr Bounce. Now at No 46 comes Mr Good — and the correlation may continue. Coverdale writes: “I wonder if the 47th being Mr Nobody means the next president won’t be a Mr.”

I like the correlation and also the new word; twitterhoea.

It will be interesting to return to this post for the US Presidential Election in 2024.

November 10, 2020 Posted by | Computing, World | , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Body: A Guide For Occupants

The title of this post, is the title of Bill Bryson‘s new book.

It sounded to me, that it could be a human equivalent of the invaluable Veterinary Notes For Horse Owners.


October 4, 2019 Posted by | Health | , | Leave a comment

The Importance Of Libraries For Research

I went to a fund-raising event for Book Aid at the British Library on Monday evening.

The main purpose was to raise funds for the library in Mosul, which has been wrecked by IS.

The event made me think, about the number of times in the 1960s and 1970s, I used libraries for research.

  • My undergraduate thesis was about analogue computing and I used information about how Lord Kelvin and his elder brother; James, were developing and using mechanical analogue computers in the late 1800s, that I had found in the Liverpool University library.
  • A few years later, whilst working for ICI, I found that by properly searching Chemical Abstracts in their library, I could find the solution to difficult problems. Nowadays, you’d use the Internet!
  • When I developed Artemis, I needed methods to improve the performance of the software. Some I developed myself, but one particular algoithm used for linking datasets together was found in a paper, written in the 1960s in IBM’s library. In those days, getting the maximum performance from not very powerful computers was more difficult and the algorithm was important.
  • These days, with everything on the Internet I use libraries less. Although, I regularly visit Hackney’s Records Office near to where I live, to browse old images, reference books and maps.

Do we all underestimate the part books, play in our lives?

June 23, 2019 Posted by | Computing, World | , , , , | Leave a comment

London Overground: A Day’s Walk Around the Ginger Line by Iain Sinclair

The Evening Standard has a review of this book on their web site.

It looks like the book could be a good read for anybody who loves London and like me is seduced by the charms of London’s superb remodelling of the old railways into the London Overground.

Looking at the title, it would have to be a very fast walk to go round the Overground in a day, but one of the developments recently has been the opening of quality budget hotels like the Premier Inn in Dalston, close to me and virtually next door to where my maternal grandmother Upcott was born.

May 30, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel, World | , | Leave a comment

The Magic Pudding

One of C’s favourite books was the Magic Pudding. This is a description from Wikipedia.

The Magic Pudding: Being The Adventures of Bunyip Bluegum and his friends Bill Barnacle and Sam Sawnoff is an Australian children’s book written and illustrated by Norman Lindsay. It is a comic fantasy, and a classic of Australian children’s literature.

The story is set in Australia with humans mixing with anthropomorphic animals. It tells of a magic pudding which, no matter how often it is eaten, always reforms in order to be eaten again. It is owned by three companions who must defend it against Pudding Thieves who want it for themselves.

It had been published in 1918, but she had come across the book, when she was a mother’s help to a family in Norfolk. She read it to our three boys.

When I sold out from Metier, I put some money for safe keeping into a fund managed by TA Associates in Boston. The aim was that in a few years time, it would all be liquidated and the money returned for C’s pension fund.

But other things didn’t work out too well, due to a recommended investment in an office block in Bsasingstoke, which lost us about nine million and nearly everything else as well.

However,  we kept going on our earnings, with a bit of help from the fund in Boston, until an investment I’d made, which everybody else said was worthless, paid most of the money I’d lost back.

The fund in Boston had been a good investment and I made a decent return, when everything was liquidated. But then the fun started, as some of their investments in the category of living dead started showing signs of life and for perhaps we had income from a fund that supposedly had been fully distributed.

C and myself nicknamed the fund the Magic Pudding, especially after we got a cheque for several tens of thousands of dollars.

Eventually, it all came to an end and C and myself were back on an even keel financially. So we sent the fund managers a copy of the book in thanks.

It was appreciated and we all parted company on the best of relations.

I have been looking since then for another Magic Pudding investment.

In an ideal world, you could put a sum of money into a bank account and you can get out a sum every so often, that you need for emergencies, like a new boiler or a holiday for your partner on a big birthday.

You would also want the capital sum to stay intact.

But to do this with a bank, you need a decent interest rate. So you can’t!

I have a sum invested in Zopa, which is around a hundred thousand. This has been built up over the last six years, by putting any spare money into the account. I started it with the money I got from selling C’s Porsche and now I top it up each month with what I have left over from my pension after I’ve paid all my bills. Typically, this sum is a thousand or so each month.

Zopa is very much a rolling fund and in addition to the interest each month, you get a proportion of capital of your micro loans repaid.

So if I look at the lsast couple of years, I usually get something like five percent of my total investment available each month.

If I don’t need any money in a particular month, the money goes back into the pot for reinvestment.

Obviously, the account doesn’t turn into a Magic Pudding Investment, until it has been running for a few years, when a proportion of your micro loans start to mature.

I would never recommend anybody to jump into peer-to-peer lending. But if you are unhappy with what your bank pays, then you should perhaps research some of long established peer-to-peer lending companies of which Zopa is one.

Think of the process of choosing a peer-to-peer lender as as you would choose a new car or house. You pick one that suits your lifestyle.

June 28, 2014 Posted by | Finance | , | Leave a comment

Snippets From 1862

I’ve just bought a reprint of Bradshaw’s Illustrated Hand Book to London, which was originally published in 1862.

It was bought in Waterstone’s in Islington, as a present for a friend’s birthday, but I spent most of my lunch in Carluccio’s round the corner reading it.  It is full of interesting information and some very surprising differences and facts.

1. Nelson’s Column is known as The Nelson Column.

2. The Houses of Parliament is known as the New Houses of Parliament, as it has just been built.

3. The Crystal Palace gets a lot of pages.

4. There is a lot of description of places anyone familiar with London would recognise.

5. Under rules for railway travellers, it says that passengers are forbidden to smoke on trains or in stations.  But obviously, it was acceptable for the engines to do this!

6.They also have a table of money of all nations. As Germany wasn’t yet united, they have separate rates for Hamburg, Prussia and the German States. The Swiss rate is given against one of their coins, which was a thirty-two franc.

More details on the book are given here.

April 17, 2014 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 3 Comments

Nice Work If You Can Get It

Sebastian Faulks has written a new Jeeves and Wooster book, called Jeeves and the Wedding Bells.

Nice Work If You Can Get It

Nice Work If You Can Get It

He has form in taking over from others, as wrote one of the new James Bond books.

But is that right? I prefer original works, although I rarely read fiction.

November 18, 2013 Posted by | World | | Leave a comment

Is A Good Memory A Disadvantage When It Comes To Reading Fiction?

I rarely read fiction and the title of this post occurred to me as I travelled north today.

I read a lot of non-fiction, both in a printed and an Internet form, and most of it gets remembered.  Or at least hopefully the major facts do. As a child I was always reading encyclopaedias and other factual books and my mother was always telling me to read more fiction. C used to sometimes despair at my holiday reading, which could be a bit embarrassing to her.

So do I not read fiction, because it’s more about emotion and action, and not about facts I can remember for use later?

October 5, 2013 Posted by | World | | Leave a comment

Bridget Jones Becomes A Wrinkled Widow

Several newspapers, like the Glasgow Herald here, are reporting that in the latest Bridget Jones Diary, the heroine has become a widow. The Herald’s headline is something that I know a lot of widows will disagree with.

Meet Bridget Jones at 51: a wrinkled widow who becomes a Twitter cougar

I’ve met quite a few widows and widowers older than than 51,who can’t be described as the least bit wrinkled. In fact, I have to go a good bit past 51 to know any that are the least bit wrinkled.

I may be 66, but I don’t think I’m also too wrinkled. If anybody would like to check, I’ll buy the coffee.

I think the Herald, just played the alliteration card to get a catchy headline.

September 29, 2013 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment