The Anonymous Widower

Was Storm Franklin Named By An Old Minchendenian?

This press release from the Met Office is entitled Storm Franklin Named.

When I first heard yesterday, that the storm was to be named, I must admit, that I allowed myself a small smile.

I went to Minchenden Grammar School in Southgate, leaving in 1965.

One teacher, that we looked upon with a degree of affection was our German teacher, who was Frank J Stabler, who some pupils referred to as Franklin J Stabler. I don’t know whether that was his real name or whether it was fellow pupils making it up.

But he did have one story, that he used to liven up one of the lessons, where he taught me enough German to get by in the country.

Apparently, he was returning from France to the UK on the night of Saturday, the 31st of January in 1953, using the ferry from Dieppe in France to Newhaven in Sussex.

That ferry route used to have a reputation for being rough and on one bad crossing around 1975, my five-year-old son fell and cut himself just above his eye. He was skillfully cleaned up and plastered by one of the chefs. Luckily the chef had been a soldier, who had been well-trained in first aid.

Back in 1953, Mr. Stabler could have chosen a better night for his trip, as that day was the night of devastating East Coast Floods, which killed over five hundred people in the UK.

The captain of the ferry decided to sit the storm out and crew and passengers spent twenty-four hours being tossed about like a cork in the English Channel, which was a tale Mr. Stabler told with great drama.

He finished the tale, by saying that in the end, he prayed for the boat to go down to put everybody out of their misery.


I have to ask if someone on the committee that decides storm names, either directly or indirectly, has heard this tale and decided that Franklin would be an appropriate name for a storm beginning with F.



February 21, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel, World | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Covid Leaves Wave Of Wearied Souls In Pandemic’s Wake

The title of this post, is the same as that as this article on The Times.

It is the usual excellent article by Tom Whipple and it discusses long covid.

I haven’t knowingly had long covid or even common-or-garden short covid for that matter.

The Asian Flu of 1957-1958

But go back to 1957-1958 and the outbreak of Asian Flu.

This was another present from China to the world. Wikipedia says this about its severity.

The number of excess deaths caused by the pandemic is estimated to be 1-4 million around the world (1957–1958 and probably beyond), making it one of the deadliest pandemics in history.

According, to this page on Wikipedia, deaths from Covid-19, were approaching 5,500,000 at the first of January 2022.

But then the world population is now 7.9 billion as opposed to 2.8 billion in 1957. This is 2.8 times bigger.

If the Asian Flu of 1957-1958 had had a Covid-19 death rate around two billion would have died.

Was There A Long Form Of The Asian Flu?

In Long Covid And Coeliac Disease, I started the post like this.

I recently heard an interview with Adrian Chiles on Radio 5 about the so-called long covid

I am 73 and the more I read about Long Covid, the more I think I had something similar around 1958, when I had just started Minchenden Grammar School, where I missed most of the Spring Term. This was at the time of the 1957-8 flu pandemic., which killed between one and four million people worldwide.

This article on New Decoder is a personal memory of that pandemic, from an experienced journalist called Harvey Morris.

Last night, I was listening to another program about kids with long covid and they seemed to be describing how I felt all those years ago.

One of those two programs, also said that one doctor tested patients for coeliac disease.

So did I have a long form of Asian Flu which kept me off school for a long time?

I can remember a conversation between my late wife and my mother that took place before we got married in 1968.

My mother described how I was badly ill at around ten and how our GP, the excellent Dr. Egerton White kept coming to see me, whilst I was recovering at home, as he couldn’t fathom out what was wrong with me.

But he did seem to take particular care of me, even coming to visit me in hospital, when I had my tonsils out at around five. Could it be, that as he had brought me into this world, that he felt differently about me? It should be noted that he was probably from the Caribbean and either black or mixed-race.

Is Long Covid Linked To Undiagnosed Coeliac Disease?

As I said earlier that one doctor tested long covid patients for undiagnosed coeliac disease, at least one doctor must believe so.

Looking at the statistics in The Times article, I can make the following deductions.

  • 42 % of sufferers from long covid are over fifty?
  • 58 % of sufferers from long covid are female?
  • It is not stated how many sufferers had been diagnosed as coeliac and were on a long-term gluten-free diet.

These statistics would fit roughly with the statistics for coeliac disease.

  • According to the NHS, there are more female coeliacs as male.
  • There was no test for coeliac disease in children until 1960, so it is likely, that many undiagnosed coeliacs are over 60.
  • Since around 2000, coeliac disease is tested for by means of a simple blood test.
  • Doctors understand coeliac disease better now, so I suspect more coeliacs under about thirty have been diagnosed.

I am certainly led to the conclusion, that undiagnosed coeliac disease could be a factor in long covid.

Treating Long Covid

The article on The Times has a section which is entitled How Do We Deal With It (1)?, where this is said.

One of the great challenges of pathology is that you have to know what you are looking for before you can find it.

“People with long Covid go to the clinician, give blood, and none of the results that come back show that these individuals are sick,” says Resia Pretorius, from Stellenbosch University. The doctors look through the metabolites in their blood, seeking something unusual, and find nothing. “The end result is their clinician tells them it’s psychology — go for a run or whatever. Some of these patients can’t even walk up a set of stairs. They think: are we mad?”

She had an idea. What if it was about the blood structure, as much as its composition? Her laboratory has looked at the blood of both acute Covid patients and long Covid sufferers. They have found tiny clots.

Something in the disease seems to cause malformation, and they can’t be removed.

They have also found preliminary evidence that treating patients with antiplatelet and anticoagulants leads to significant improvement. Although, she stresses, it’s a risky procedure that requires careful monitoring, in case people bleed dangerously.

When I read the bit about anticoagulants, the bells in my head started ringing.

I am a coeliac on a long-term gluten-free diet, who suffered a serious stroke in 2011, from which I made a remarkable recovery. I am now on Warfarin, which is the old-fashioned anti-coagulant and test myself regularly with a meter, so I don’t bleed dangerously.

Note remarkable is not a word of my choosing, but one that has been used several times by doctors referring to the recovery in my stroke. But then there are masses of Jewish, Huguenot and Devonian survival genes in my cells.

At the time of the panic about blood clots and the AstraZeneca vaccine I wrote A Danish Study On Links Between Coeliac Disease And Blood Clots, of which this is an extract.

This morning I found on the Internet, a peer-reviewed Danish study which was entitled

Coeliac Disease And Risk Of Venous Thromboembolism: A Nationwide Population-Based Case-Control Study

The nation in the study was Denmark.

This was the introductory paragraph.

Patients with coeliac disease (CD) may be at increased risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE), i.e. deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and its complication pulmonary embolism (PE), because they are reported to have hyperhomocysteinaemia, low levels of K-vitamin-dependent anticoagulant proteins, and increased levels of thrombin-activatable fibrinolysis inhibitor.

One thing in this summary screams at me. The mention of vitamin-K!

Ten years ago, I had a serious stroke, that because of modern clot-busting drugs failed to kill me.

I am now on long-term Warfarin and know I have to eat a diet without Vitamin-K.

There are too many coincidences in all this for me not to shout, “Do More Research!”

January 17, 2022 Posted by | Health | , , , , , , | 7 Comments

The Britons Who Played For The Moon

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article on page 15 of today’s copy of The Times.

This is two paragraphs – – .

The team was organised by John Hodge, who was born in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex and who had previously worked for Vickers Armstrong, which during the Second World War built the Supermarine Spitfire.

Mr. Hodge, now 90, would become a flight director at mission control – the one time that ‘Houston’ spoke with a British accent.

I’ve heard of John before.

Like me, John Hodge went to Minchenden Grammar School and one of our maths’ teachers; George Bullen,when I was doing Further Maths in the Sixth Form, told us the full story of one of his brightest students.

If John had a problem, it was that he couldn’t get a language O-level, which was needed to get to University in the late 1940s.

So he went to Northampton Engineering College, which is now the City University, where the qualification wasn’t needed.

I think George Bullen, with his John Arlott Hampshire accent, probably told us the story of John Hodge for motivation.

This is another paragraph in the article.

Peter Armitage, 90, who grew up in Hable-le-Rice, Hampshire, was also in the Avro group. In 1969 he oversaw the simulator that Neil Armstrong used to learn how to touch down on the moon.

As I remember it, the simulator was a hybrid digital-analogue computer using two PACE 231-R computers as the analogue half.

This picture shows the similar computer, that I worked on at ICI in Welwyn Garden City.

These machines could each solve up to a hundred simultaneous differential equations, in real time, so were ideal for calculating the dynamics of complex systems.

They were some beasts!

From what I read at the time, they were key in bringing the Apollo 13 astronauts home, as they could be quickly reprogrammed, if you were familiar with the dynamic model., as undoubtedly NASA’s engineers were.



July 17, 2019 Posted by | Computing | , , , | Leave a comment

Next Year It’ll Be Fifty Years Since I Left Minchenden

It was in June or July 1965, that I walked out of Minchenden Grammar School in Southgate for the last time.

A lot has happened to me since, some of which is in this blog. Although some tales have been left out to protect the squeamish and the innocent.

I wonder if anybody is organising a fifty years reunion for the Class of 1965 from Minchenden?

Surely, in the true spirit that we learned at the school, we should make 2015 a year to remember!

August 31, 2014 Posted by | World | , | 3 Comments

The Problems In Schools

There has been several stories recently about the problems in schools in places like Birmingham, Bradford and Luton.

What worries me, is that religion is getting in the way of good education.

I went to a mixed non-religious state school, which took a very practical approach to religion and gave everybody who wanted it, a first class education. Science and history, were taught correctly and not with regard to fictitious religious texts.

So in my view religion should only be a lesson in a school and anybody with strong religious beliefs should not be allowed to influence the policy of the school. Schools are for education and not for indoctrination and repression.

The school should be co-educational, as in my view, this is to the benefit of every pupil. Could it be that the reason for the low divorce rate amongst my fellow pupils at Minchenden, is because of the healthy interaction there was at the school between the sexes.

I wonder what would have happened in Northern Ireland if all schools were not allowed to be affiliated to a particular religion!


June 11, 2014 Posted by | World | , , | 4 Comments

Swastikas Everywhere

There is this article about the traditional use of swastikas on the BBC web site. Here’s the first paragraph.

Swastika. The word is a potent one. For more than one billion Hindus it means “wellbeing” and good fortune. For others, the cross with arms bent at right angles will forever symbolise Nazism. Yet England is seemingly awash with swastikas. Why?

I first came across their use in perhaps 1963. Several of us at Minchenden Grammar School were looking at old school magazines from the 1920s and 1930s. We were surprised to see swastikas used to separate paragraphs in some of the articles, in just the same way that you might use asterisks today.

I remember asking my father, who was a letterpress printer about this and he said it was common to use swastikas for this purpose before the symbol’s adoption by the Nazis. But he also said, nobody used it now, so he’d sent all his swastikas to be melted down, as they weren’t needed any more.

March 14, 2014 Posted by | World | , , | 1 Comment

Murder At Minchenden

My old school; Minchenden Grammar School in Southgate was a fairly peaceful place most of the time, but last night just down from the school, a murder was committed, as is reported here. When I went to see the Olympic Torch in Southgate, we walked through the area.

April 19, 2013 Posted by | News | , | Leave a comment

To Southgate For a Cup Of Tea

This morning, I took the Piccadilly line to Southgate to try out one of the new Tesco-financed coffee-shops called Harris and Hoole.

The tea was excellent and properly served in a pot.  Note the triple-barrelled tea timer, which could time your tea to exactly 3, 4 or 5 minutes.  If they’d sold them in the shop, I’d have bought one, but they don’t at present.  But they are available on-line from here!

The staff were attentive and if they can replicate this style, the company may have created something like an updated traditional coffee shop, that you still see occasionally in places like Harrogate. It certainly has a better ambience than Starbucks and is laid out with quite a bit of space.

At present, they don’t have any gluten-free offerings, but apparently, they’re working on it. They do though have EatNakd bars.

Overall it’s a good concept and I wish them well, despite the Tesco connection. My allergy to the supermarket chain stems from a business run-in years ago and where there are alternatives I go elsewhere.

In the 1950s and 1960s, when I was at Minchenden Grammar School just up the road, the only coffee bar was the Mayfair a few doors towards Cockfosters from where Harris and Hoole is now.  That place was beloved of teddy-boys and served coffee in those shallow Pyrex cups. It was off-limits during school hours!

January 29, 2013 Posted by | Food | , , , , | 3 Comments

Dwelling On Loneliness

I do think that people will admit that my life can be rather lonely.

Although, as someone, who has often worked alone in his life, my state is little different to where I have been before.

As a child, I used to spend hours with my Meccano or just with my father down at his print works in Wood Green.

I was also very much a solitary programmer for much of my working life. Or if I did work with someone, it was just with one person.  The only time I really had someone to work with was when I was writing software in the few years after I’d left ICI. And that was our third son, George, who used to sit in his chair, whilst I bashed away on an old Teletype. Occasionally, he’d get taken over to Time Sharing in Great Portland Street and sometimes, the girls in the office would take him away and play with him.

I sometimes wonder what happened to all those girls; Maeve, Maggie and and the Australians; Crystal Hendricks and Marie Thorpe.

But then I’ve always discarded friends throughout my life.  only a couple of my school friends are still in touch.  But what happened to Sheena Findley, Susan Portch, Caroline and the other girls from my year at Minchenden?  C was just as clumsy with friends, as her best friend from school, Ruth Mason, is just a name in the past. She got married and moved to Ruislip, but where is she now?

I did bump into my first girlfriend at Liverpool; Marilyn Garland, once at Swiss Cottage, a few years after leaving University. She had a baby then and is probably a granmother now.

Some of the Metier people I still know, as I must have got better at keeping in touch as I got older.

But I never really was a team player, and that has stood me in good sense, since the death of C.

I do many things I want to on my own. And in some ways, I like it that way.Although I do miss the company of a good woman. A bad one would probably be good to!

September 7, 2012 Posted by | Computing | , , , | 1 Comment

Torch Chasing in North London – Southgate

Today, I went to see the Olympic Torch Relay in Southgate, where I went to school at Minchenden.

Unfortunately, a jobsworth wasn;t allowing access to the old school grounds, so all I got was a picture of my first classroom and the wall that kept us all in. So instead, I walked to Southgate Green and watched the torch come through there. Note the Lothian and Borders policeman! Southgate must be one of the cushiest postings in London.

I also made a video of the Olympic Torch Relay as it passed.

I was standing outside Walker School.

July 25, 2012 Posted by | Sport | , , , , | 1 Comment