One of my photos

Green Belt

April 13th, 2017 · Posted by Skuds in Politics

I have just finished reading a book about the green belt, which was more fun than it sounds. One passage in particular really stopped me in my tracks while I was reading:

‘One of the things that impressed me most about my dad’s take on it, because he was surprisingly left wing as well, was that he was the one who pointed out to me about planning permission, and the Town and Country Planning Acts being an attempt to nationalise the land. You couldn’t nationalise the banks and you couldn’t nationalise the land, because that’s what they really wanted to do, but you could nationalise the right to develop it, so no one had a right, even though they owned it, without the consent of the community. I’d grown up among architects – bloody planning permission, you know, making you do this, making you do that – but it is the consent of the community.’ He smiled. ‘It’s a beautiful idea.’

I have spent a few years on council planning committees, been on summer schools and training courses, but I have never heard anybody describe the planning system in those terms before.

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Hall of Fame

April 12th, 2017 · Posted by Skuds in Music

I have been watching some Youtube clips of Yes getting inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, which is a long overdue accolade for them, and a great shame it had to wait until after Chris Squire died.

It is worth doing a search because there is plenty in there for the fans, not least the fact that they appeared as a complete band rather than the two competing bands that are currently on the go. Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee presented the award and then everybody had a bit of a speech, ending up with Rick Wakeman telling some of the filthiest jokes that have probably been heard at this event. They even had Bill Bruford up on stage with them, which was a nice touch.

The band played a couple of songs. Owner of  Lonely Heart had Steve Howe playing a Rickenbacker bass and involved Rick going down into the audience, cape and all, playing his keytar as he went. The other song was Roundabout, of course, with the band joined by Geddy Lee on bass.

Here is the link to Roundabout:

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Going direct

April 5th, 2017 · Posted by Skuds in Life

We went back to Essex today for a funeral, which is never a lot of fun. Funerals I mean, though come to think of it Essex isn’t much fun either. It was my Mother’s husband, so sort of my step-father, although they didn’t actually marry until after I had left home. He didn’t want a lot of fuss, not did he want anything religious. Fortunately Mum is also non-religious, so no problems with that. I can completely understand all that and feel the same way.

By coincidence, only this week I found out about something called direct cremation. It was mentioned in the Times because it is getting quite popular, especially since that is what David Bowie’s family did. It sounded like a good idea, so I looked into it and Jayne and I are going to make sure that is what we do.

The thing is that even though today’s funeral was supposed to be no-fuss it still involved travelling in a massive Mercedes behind a hearse, with a bloke in a top hat walking in front for the first few hundred metres, then going to  chapel in the crematorium where there was a service. Even though it was a non-religious celebrant, who did do a very good job, it was still a service. There was still a shiny coffin. And before all that there was a two or three week wait for a time slot at the crematorium.

Before I heard about the direct cremation business I just assumed that you had to have all that and I am so relieved to hear that you don’t. Of course, some people like all the fuss and want it, but for those of us who do not it is good to know it can be avoided. The real problem is that assumption that it is all necessary.

Anyway, if I kick the bucket any time soon and you don’t get an invitiation to the funeral it will be because there isn’t one, though there may well be a party.

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Daily Mixes

April 4th, 2017 · Posted by Skuds in Music

Maybe I am easily pleased, but I am loving the new Daily Mix feature on Spotify. I say new. It might have been around for ages, but I only just discovered it. [Read more →]

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Trolling Trump

February 9th, 2017 · Posted by Skuds in Politics

I really don’t know how this is not a thing yet, but surely the best way to have a bit of fun with Trump would be for loads of people on Twitter, and news broadcasts, and newspapers to routinely refer to him as “the millionaire Donald Trump”.

The superficial reason is that it would wind him up, since he is defines himself by his wealth, but there is more to it than that. There has been speculation that he is not worth nearly as much as the up to $10 billion that keeps getting talked about, usually by Trump himself.  One journalist even estimated his worth to be in the ‘mere’ hundreds of million dollars of liquid assets. Throughout all of last year there was pressure on Trump to disclose his tax returns, which traditionally presidential candidates have done, and he still hasn’t.

I just think that calling him a millionaire (which most of us wouldn’t mind being called) would put him in a position where he had to prove otherwise or get used to the label.

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February 2nd, 2017 · Posted by Skuds in Politics

I may have mentioned before that petitions are generally a waste of time, but that didn’t stop me from signing the one about Donald Trump not making a state visit to the UK.

I did not sign it because I thought it would actually stop a state visit. I imagine that once the PM has announced it publicly it would be politically impossible to cancel it. I didn’t sign it because I am worried about the Queen getting embarrassed either partly because if she can cope with visits from Caucescu and the like she can put up with Trump, and partly because I wouldn’t much care if she was embarrassed. [Read more →]

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The good side of 2016

December 28th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Life

This year is generally reckoned to be a bit of a stinker, but it wasn’t all bad from where I am sitting. [Read more →]

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Swearing an oath

December 19th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Politics

I am in equal parts baffled and irritated by this business about public servants swearing an oath to British values, not least because nobody seems to be able to say what they are. Are they the values that most people hold or the ones that people in the Westminster bubble think that most people hold, or that they think most people should hold? I happen to think that one outstanding British value is that we don’t go around making people swear oaths left, right and centre. [Read more →]

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Big in the 70s

December 19th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Music

I have just been looking at a list of the best-selling albums of the 1970s. It was a bit of a surprise because if I was a contestant on Pointless and was asked to name a best-selling album of the 70s I would probably have thought that Framptom Comes alive or Bat out of Hell were bankers, and it turns out they were not even in the list of top 40 LPs.

It is quite surprising how many other albums that everybody seemed to have turn out not to have been bought by everybody but just by everybody I knew – like Live & Dangerous, Machine Head, Yessongs, Silk Degrees, Hello! and Trick of the Tail. It is also surprising to see three ELO albums there. Out of the Blue was expected but A New World Record and Discovery much less so.

I still can’t really believe that more people bought the Sex Pistols and two different Leo Sayer albums than Frampton Comes Alive.

It is probably just as well that I never get round to filling out an application for Pointless.

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Inflation madness

December 14th, 2016 · Posted by Skuds in Technology

I had an email from Virgin Media the other day.

Remember how we used to just have razor blades? And then we started to have razors with two blades? They were advertised by an animation showing how the first blade left a bit of stubble and the second blade caught that? And then it turned out that the second blade left a bit too, so we got razors with three blades. And then four. I can’t remember how many blades we got up to, but recently I saw an advert for a new razor where the feature being promoted was that it only had, and needed, one blade.


Anyway, the current Virgon Tivo box lets you record three shows at once, which is nice and was the thing that Virgin pushed a lot. One of the things I have seen on the Virgin box is an advert for Sky Q which lets you “record four shows while watching a fifth”. That seems a bit unnecessary. When you get to watch those four are you going to record another five? Where are you going to find the time to watch all the things you record?

So what was in the Virgin email? Of course, it was promoting their new box, the V6 Tivo, that lets you watch six programmes while you watch a seventh. This is so unnecessarily over-the-top, that Sky are going to offer the same functionality on their boxes after the next firmware upgrade.

At some point these boxes will be able to record more simultaeous programmes that there are channels, at which point the hipsters will put aside their vinyl for a while to buy up old VHS machines because they can only record one ting at a time.

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