One of my photos

Stop the year, I want to get off

December 2nd, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Life

As if the whole Trump/Brexit thing wasn’t bad enough, this year has seen a lot of celebrity deaths, the latest being Andrew Sachs. Of course this happens every year so I am not sure why it feels worse this year. Possibly because a few of them were absolute A+ list celebrities like Bowie, Prince, Ali, or Leonard Cohen.

There have been a lot of big names going this year: Fidel Castro, Keith Emerson, Leon Russell, Vilmos Zsigmond (a big name for those of us who had to watch a lot of 70’s movies as part of film studies), Alan Rickman, Cruyff, Wogan, George Martin, Garry Shandling, Papa Wemba, Gene Wilder and Oleg Popov, who I am sure I saw in the 60s when the Moscow State Circus came to London and he did his slackwire act.

It has certainly kept the professional obituarists busy and even more so the keen amateur obituarists. You know the types. They feel compelled to write Facebook posts or tweet when just about anybody dies, saying what a sad loss it is and how great they were, but you suspect that half the time they hadn’t really heard of them before. Even more so you get prolific bloggers writing huge articles about the death of Zaha Hadid and yet they have previously never mentioned her or shown even the slightest interest in architecture.

Perhaps they should show a bit of restraint and only publicly mourn those they have previously publicly praised? I know you sometimes you only realise how much you liked somebody when you hear that they died, but not on an almost daily basis.

Anywyay, I am going to take a little time out to think about those people who are still alive. Partly to celebrate the fact that they have (so far) survived 2016 and so that if they pop their clogs any time soon I won’t sound like a complete hypocrite.

Living legends that are still living legends:

  • Aretha Franklin
  • Elton John
  • Bob Dylan
  • Stevie Wonder
  • Clint Eastwood
  • Nicholas Parsons
  • Tom Baker
  • Madonna
  • Van Morrison
  • Phil Collins
  • Woody Allen

Other people I am glad are still around

  • Trevor Brooking
  • Rick Wakeman
  • Debbie Harry
  • Ralf & Florian from Kraftwerk
  • Manu Chao
  • Booker T
  • David Gilmour
  • Liam Neeson
  • Jackie Chan
  • Quentin Tarantino
  • Neil Diamond
  • Kevin Smith
  • Scott Adams
  • Dave Barry
  • Angelique Kidjo
  • Robert Rankin

If any of that lot go before the New Year then I really will be pissed off with 2016!


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Solving the Southern Fail problem

October 19th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Life, Politics

During my daily commute I congratulate myself on transferring away from London to the local branch of my company and replacing an expensive, overcrowded, uncomfortable and unreliable train journey with a 5-minute walk, and even more so on strike days. Mind you, I hear that even non-strike days are now pretty dreadful and for the last few years have been a lot worse than whe I used the service regularly and complain about it all the time.

So it is not my problem any more, but I do have two potential solutions to the ongoing mess. [Read more →]

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The Trump taxes

October 5th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Politics

I was not greatly surprised to hear those revelations that Donald Trump declared losses that could have led to him paying no income taxes. I am a little surprised that all the emphasis has been on the not paying taxes bit rather than the making a loss bit.

Trump’s main claim has always been that he is such a successful businessman and would run the US like one of his successful businesses and a lot of Americans seem to find that compelling even in the face of his erratic behaviour. I would have thought that $916 million losses were not really an indication of success.

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No more ‘Chinese friends’

October 5th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Life, Technology

The news today is that Amazon are banning ‘incentivised reviews’. What that means is that you can’t accept anything in return for reviewing a product, not even a free or discounted product. It has always been the case that you can’t accept payment in return for writing a review, and especially not for writing a positive review, but now they are classing a free product as payment, except in the case of books. [Read more →]

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Trouble adapting

October 3rd, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Technology

Why is it so hard to find an adapter that lets you plug a 3.5mm TRRS jack into a 3.5mm TRS socket?

The reason this is a problem is that it is getting harder and harder to find headphones with an old-fashioned TRS jack to plug into my old mp3 player. They are all TRRS-style now, so they can work with smartphones, but sometimes I just like to use the old kit. It would be nice to get some decent headphones and use them with either the mp3 player, the phone or the tablet.

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Stormy Weather

September 10th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Life


A long way from home!

Well we are back from our second honeymoon. Our first one was a few days in Paris. This one was a bit more exotic: two weeks in the Dominican Republic.

A nice place, but to be honest we were looking forward to the flight almost as much as the holiday. After suffering the bum-numbing experience of EasyJet A320s to Egypt for the last couple of holidays we were going for the comfort of a 787 Dreamliner this time, and even paid extra for the premium thing, since it was supposed to be a holiday of a lifetime. [Read more →]

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Just Married

August 21st, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Life

Jayne and I renewed our wedding vows yesterday. It seemed to go well and everyone said they enjoyed it, although it did end quite badly and could have been worse. Our son had taken all the children home to our house and we were just winding up in the venue, picking up discarded ties and gathering up all the cards when he phoned to say his tonsils had burst, so we had to rush home. I stayed to look after the kids and Jayne went off to the hospital.

It must have looked quite dramatic when she turned up at East Surrey in a wedding dress, with Frankie covered in blood. After an emergency operation and transfusions, everything was OK and by the time Jayne got back home I had finished mopping blood off the bathroom walls and was dozing in front of the Olympics.

Apart from that, everything was great.

We knew that some people might bring presents, because they never had the opportunity before, and we really didn’t want that because we have everything we need and don’t have space for anything else, so we asked guests not to, but if they really felt the urge they could just give us supplies like tea, sugar, canned food, etc. that we could give to the Crawley Open House hostel. We had not really thought about how that might go when one of us works in a supermarket and has work colleagues coming along, so we ended up with enough food to fill a car boot as well as some cash donations. As it worked out, we could have given a homeless person our hotel room for the night because we never ended up using it, what with all the nhs involvement, and house full of gore.

After weeks of sunshine and clear skies, the weather turned this weekend, and yesterday morning we had really heavy rain and the forecast was for more, with 50mph gusts of wind. But it all stopped just when we were ready to go out and do photographs. I’m sure that made a big difference in how well the day went.

In fifteen years of marriage Jayne and I have never had a real proper argument, even though we don’t always agree on absolutely everything but there are two things we agree on 100% – firstly that we had a brilliant day, and secondly that we never want to go through all that hassle, stress, organising and expense again!

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Wedding Bells

August 19th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Life

I’m getting married tomorrow. Sort of. It is out 15th anniversary and we are renewing our vows. Really we are doing it for our family because fifteen years ago we just went out and got married at the Town Hall with just our neighbour as a witness. No fuss, no reception, no wedding photos and not even a real honeymoon – I was back at work the next day.

One of the key things is to have wedding photos, so we are dressing a bit more formally that you might normally do for vow renewals. It is a bit like the film Green Card where Gerard Depardieu and Andie McDowell were taking all those pictures to make it look like they were a couple, except we are a couple. And we don’t need a green card. I do have a big nose though.

All of which makes it a bit of a shame that, after weeks of clear, hot weather it is all set to piss down tomorrow, inbetween 50mph gusts of wind.

After the months of planning, booking a venue, deciding on the menu, choosing decorations, and all the other 1001 things you need to do, there is just one tiny thing left to do. The vows. We are writing our own and I haven’t done mine yet. It is a bit harder because there is no formal ceremony as such. As complete heathens it was obviously not going to be a religious blessing, and we decided against having a Humanist celebrant – even Humanism is a bit too religious for me. It is like vegetarians having meat substitutes.

I suppose I should crack on with it…

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August 19th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Life

It is a shame that Ted Heath already used the phrase ‘the unacceptable face of capitalism’ to describe Tiny Rowland, or rather the activities of his company, because it looks like it should have been saved up for Philip Green, whose new £100m superyacht, Lionheart,  was all over the news today.

It is probably just as well that I do not have, and never will have that sort of money because I literally would not know what to do with it. I just can’t see the appeal of having a boat worthy of a Bond villain and don’t think I would even enjoy it, which makes it very hard to understand the mentality of the sort of person who does.

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Bloody Windows

August 18th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Technology

I have a laptop. I know. Everybody has one these days, but I can remember when that was something to brag about. It is 6 or 7 years old but should still be OK for basic tasks. The trouble is that it doesn’t get used very often. I fired it up yesterday for probably the first time in six months. [Read more →]

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