One of my photos

Bikes don’t kill people, cyclists do

August 16th, 2020 · Posted by Skuds in Life

There are some things that are so obvious and ingrained that you don’t notice them until they are pointed out, after which you can’t not see them again. The difference between how accidents caused by bicycles and accidents caused by car drivers are reported is one of those things. [Read more →]

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Thick as a brick

August 2nd, 2020 · Posted by Skuds in Life

This week came the news that Argos will no longer be producing their catalogue in paper form. The legendary ‘laminated book of dreams’ will be a thing of the past, but what a past! To be honest, its a surprise it has lasted this long, because it is out-of-date almost before the ink is dry. In this modern world of surge-pricing, Black Fridays and online price changes Argos were always vulnerable to competitors waiting for the catalogue to come out and then making sure their prices are just below and so for 6 months Argos appears below then when using Google Shopping to find the best deals.

A little reminder of where the ‘laminated book of dreams’ came from: Still funny now, but absolutely bloody hilarious when first seen sixteen years ago.

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Get on your bike!

July 27th, 2020 · Posted by Skuds in Life

I see that the government want to encourage more people to take up cycling to improve health by reducing obesity. While it is easy to pick holes in this, the gist of it is very laudable. There shouldn’t be any doubt that reducing weight leads to improvements in health and that cycling can help to reduce weight and health generally.

I have questions though. When the news says that GPs will be prescribing cycling, what exactly does that mean? Does it mean that you can get a bicycle from the chemist for £9.15? (Or for nothing if you get free prescriptions like I do). If not then isn’t it just that doctors can recommend cycling, which they have always been able to do and often have?

For many people it is not the cost of cycling that is putting them off, but the perceived danger of it. Personally I spent many years cycling across South London during rush hours. After daily commutes through the Wandsworth one-way system and Brixton, I am probably happier being on the road than on a cycle path but I realise that is not normal.

It will be interesting to see if the necessary improvements are made to the roads to support more cycling, because that would involve inconveniencing car drivers, maybe even taking lanes away from cars.

Of course cycling on its own isn’t going to suddenly make everybody skinny, you need to cut down on the food too. And cycling isn’t the only exercise, but its one you can do without having to find extra time for it. Back in the day it used to take me about 50 minutes to cycle to work, which is about the same time as it took to make the journey by train or by car. It wasn’t necessary to make time for exercise.

As so much of the short-term needs of our economy depend on us buying more cars and driving them, and buying unhealthy foods, its going to be a hard sell, but it will be interesting to see if this is an actual change in direction for the country or just another soundbite.

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Its all a big conspiracy!

July 17th, 2020 · Posted by Skuds in Life

I try to keep an open mind generally, but I don’t have a lot of time for conspiracy theories and usually dismiss them immediately because they are just so obviously preposterous. I’m sure there are conspiracies, in the sense that there are people conspiring in quite boring ways, but nobody talks about them. They are interested in the more sensational and far less plausible theories, the ones involving Elvis, aliens and the CIA.

Now I am willing to accept that with hundreds or thousands of sensational conspiracy theories, there is a chance, even if only a small one, that one of those theories might be right, even if only partly right. Even if each individual theory is almost certainly bollocks, one of them could actually be true even if it is just by chance.

At the moment my money would probably be on something to do with the Epstein business but that is cheating because its pretty clear there was a conspiracy there; the sensational bit is the speculation about how many people were involved and if any of them were famous. And I am talking about Epstein conspiring with people, not about the Clintons or Trump having him killed, depending on your personal politics,  or any of the other more cranky theories about him.

What I really can’t understand is why so few people are convinced by a particular theory and only that theory. How come if you believe that there are aliens in Area 51 you apparently also believe in chemtrails, 5G spreading coronavirus, 9/11 being done by the CIA, the moon landing being faked, Obama not being American, Sandy Hook being a false flag attack and Elvis shooting JFK? It is like all or nothing with crank conspiracy theories.

What really worries me is that if just one of the more odd theories turned out to contain even a significant bit of truth, it would convince the believe-it-all brigade that it means everything else has to be true too, and turn a lot of others to the same ideas. Really the world is mad enough at the moment.

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A tedium of collective nouns

July 9th, 2020 · Posted by Skuds in Life

I am in a bit of a miserable ranting mood today so I’ll vent a bit about collective nouns. If there is one aspect of language that irritates me more than coy euphemisms it is collective nouns, and especially the newly-minted ones that always seem to be presented as mildly amusing and perhaps faintly satirical. [Read more →]

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It’s the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine)

July 8th, 2020 · Posted by Skuds in Life, Politics

There is a lot of change coming. Some of it necessitated by the Covid-19 experience and some of it self-inflicted by Brexit. I do try to embrace change and welcome it because, like most people, I want things to keep improving and improvement implies change. Conversely, any change represents an opportunity to twist it into a benefit. [Read more →]

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Nostalgic for Thatcher and Reagan

July 7th, 2020 · Posted by Skuds in Politics

If you went back to the mid-80s and told me that one day I would be nostalgic for Reagan and Thatcher  in another 35 years I would have refused to believe it, but here we are and we have a president of the US I would swap for Reagan in a heartbeat and a British PM who makes Thatcher look good. [Read more →]

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In praise of… Burning Shed

July 3rd, 2020 · Posted by Skuds in Life

Time for another quick unsolicited testimonial, this time for the wonderful Burning Shed online shop. Here are a few reasons to love the website:

  • Specialising in stuff a bit outside the mainstream – like prog, Canterbury scene and electronica
  • Carries a lot of special box sets, vinyl and collectibles
  • Is the official store for some acts and is the only place where some of the goodies are available
  • It boasts of being ‘run by artists for artists’, with more of the proceeds going to the artists than they would get from other outlets.
  • Deliveries from them always come well-packaged with little freebies like coaster or postcard slipped in

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New research in from the department of the bleeding obvious

June 26th, 2020 · Posted by Skuds in Life

I see the department of the bleeding obvious have been at it again, according to this story in today’s Times.

It is a study about people’s attitudes to the lockdown. Apparently people with smaller cramped homes are less happy about being confined to their home than people with more space. Also people without mental health conditions have enjoyed being isolated more than people with mental health conditions have.

I was surprised to see that middle-aged people with children have enjoyed the lockdown most, but perhaps the rest of the population like children more than I do, which wouldn’t be hard.

The results say that 26 per cent of people will miss being locked down more than they would not miss it, with a further 5 per cent who would miss it very much. Elsewhere it says that about 20 per cent of people said they were drinking more than normal. I do wonder how much of an over lap there is on those sections.

Mind you, these things are relative. During three months of lockdown I had a tin of fruit cider. If I had drunk one tin per month I would probably call that drinking more than is normal for me, but still far from excessive. Given that a lot of people who drink seem to drink what I would consider too much, if they are now drinking more than normal it has to be a bit of a concern

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In praise of Tim Burgess

June 26th, 2020 · Posted by Skuds in Life, Music

When I listed the various people, mostly entertainers, who helped make the lockdown pass a bit more easily I missed a few people out. For example I forgot the always brilliant Jonathan Pie and his lockdown video diary. I also forgot Darren Maclaine and his little impressions of famous singers doing the thems to TV shows. It started with Elton John doing the theme to Only Fools and Horses and just carried on from there.

The biggest omission was Tim Burgess, but there is a good reason for that. [Read more →]

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