Sunday, 24 April 2011

Veggie Breakfast Review

Yup, the greasy spoon on Evelina Rd (that's the Crossway Cafe at number 93 to some people) has just had a rave restaurant review from Transpontine (see links). 


Space and Time

Well. It would appear that the current media interest in the historical romance of space travel  (see Gargarin, Patrick Moore and James May elsewhere), seems to have been taken up by Dr Who, who has gone back to April 1969 to unravel a mystery involving Nixon, a rogue astronaut, amnesia-causing aliens and his own death.  Not quite the romance of space yet, but the moon landing lurks offstage and we'll get there eventually, I'm sure.

Saturday, 23 April 2011


So.  In sorting out my desk at home I came across  mementoes, tickets and receipts from some of the events, shows and places that I've posted about.  Here are some:

The Bill Bailey show last year. It also demonstrates just how expensive it can be to sit in the front stalls in the West End.
Much more obvious: the visit to the RI Christmas Lectures in 2009.  On Albemarle St - the world's first one-way street, and all because of the popularity of Humphrey Davy's lectures.
Also from 2009, the entrance ticket to see a small pre-Romanesque church in Northern Spain.
A platform ticket for Bodiam station- where we discovered a license to crenellate.
The Sam Wanamaker Festival at the Globe a few weeks ago.

A ticket for The Now Show.
The road train in Leon, Spain.

And finally, the Madness Concert, last December

Tuesday, 19 April 2011


This is quite hard to write.  Elisabeth Sladen, it has just been announced, has died of cancer at the young age of 63.

Firstly, it is a complete shock.  Currently, as I write, it is news on the front page of the BBC Web site (and rightly, the banner headline);  Google haven't yet caught up and indexed the news. So it is, by that measure at least, very raw.

She played Sarah-Jane Smith, the best of the companions without exception, and added pepper and vigour to the Sarah Jane Adventures.  At the opposite end of the Dr Who universe from Torchwood, she made a children's show so much more interesting than one expected.   Sometimes must-see stuff.

I can't but believe that the person we saw on-screen was close to being the real person.  Wonderful, sly, funny and phenomenal.  She will be missed more than many of the actors who played the Doctor over the years.

Poem of the Week

On first looking into Chapman's Homer
John Keats

Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-brow'd Homer ruled as his demesne:
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez, when with eagle eyes
He stared at the Pacific—and all his men
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise—
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Yesterday in the Garden

Yesterday was a smashing Spring day, so lunch was a picnic...
... with bluebells...
 ... the birch showing off its catkins...
 ... oh, and our romantic dead tree...

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Seven Hundred

The other Space-related programme of note last week was, of course, the 700th edition of The Sky at Night.

The Seven Hundredth.

The series began on 26th April 1957. That was several months before Sputnik I was launched into space (that occurred on October 4th of the same year). In Patrick Moore’s words “Almost overnight Astronomy became headline news…”

And Patrick Moore (or rather Sir Patrick) has presented all 700 of the shows, over a period of 53 years. A completely unparalleled record.

So, and justifiably, the tone of the 700th show was wholly self-congratulatory, regarding both the Sky at Night and its presenter.
The notion was that there would be clips and amusing videos, held together by a group session answering viewers’ questions. PM sat in state and was surrounded by acolytes and guests, answering the queries read out by John Culshaw – who occasionally slipped into his fine PM impersonation. He also proved to be reasonably knowledgeable himself, when he added in the occasional supplementary question.

Visitors included Brians May & Cox, various other ‘friends of the programme,’ and the Astronomer Royal. Martin Rees indeed only appeared for just a few questions on cosmology, and there was a sense – an overtone - that he’d been summoned up by the great Sir Patrick.  He didn't quite seem to fit in - he isn't a great populariser or explainer (well, not by comparison).

The overall flavour was too smug, perhaps, but to be fair it is an awesome achievement. And every so often the brusque, waspish elements of Moore’s personality came to the fore, affording some relief as well as serving as a reminder of his usual focused attention and rigour – even at the age of 88.

When the team were asked: “Why does the Moon rotate at the same speed as the Earth?” he was first out of the blocks with a curt “It doesn’t!” before relenting and explaining what the questioner had intended, and then answering the question. And there was some enjoyable play made with his trademark “We Just Don’t Know.“

His speedy diction is somewhat hampered now, as he slurs his speech, and he seems to be chair-bound. But every so often, usually when showing a new image of somewhere up there, the programme still captures and shares the romance of space. And it is still true that it is one of the few sciences where amateurs can play a significant part.


The 78 was of course a double decker bus in the past - but it appears not to have headed into Nunhead then.  Online there has been some discussion about whether the route will change in Nunhead with the move back to big buses (because of the low bridge), but apparently (thankfully) not.  The route will stay as it is.  Useful and interesting.

Indeed, according to Wikipedia:

In December 1952, a number 78 double-decker bus was crossing Tower Bridge. At that time, the gateman would ring a warning bell and close the gates when the bridge was clear before the watchman ordered the lift. The process failed while a relief watchman was on duty. The bus was near the edge of the south bascule when it started to rise; driver Albert Gunter made a split-second decision to accelerate the bus, clearing a six-foot drop onto the north bascule, which had not started to rise. The conductor broke his leg, and twelve of the twenty passengers aboard received minor injuries. The driver was later rewarded with a £10 bonus.
Wikipedia also provides a link to the news story that Time magazine carried on the same event.

So clearly, in addition holding more passengers, the 78 may well bring a new sense of exhilaration when it crosses the Thames...

Spring Bus

It's Spring, and things are shooting up.  Including, it appears, the 78 bus. Which is now a double decker...

Sam Wanamaker Festival

So a couple of weeks ago we went to the Sam Wanamaker Festival at the Globe.  A couple of students from each of the UK's top drama schools take it in turn to perform different scenes from Elizabethan or Jacobean drama.
Niece was there, performing, and done well....

Poem of Last Week

At a Lunar Eclipse
Thomas Hardy

Thy shadow, Earth, from Pole to Central Sea,
Now steals along upon the Moon's meek shine
In even monochrome and curving line
Of imperturbable serenity.

How shall I link such sun-cast symmetry
With the torn troubled form I know as thine,
That profile, placid as a brow divine,
With continents of moil and misery?

And can immense Mortality but throw
So small a shade, and Heaven's high human scheme
Be hemmed within the coasts yon arc implies?

Is such the stellar gauge of earthly show,
Nation at war with nation, brains that teem,
Heroes, and women fairer than the skies?

Saturday, 16 April 2011

May in Space

James May also understands the romance of space travel, and technology in general. 

Put aside the dodgy Top Gear stuff, and the films where he pootles around getting drunk with Oz Clarke. His programmes about children's toys (his and his sisters' "Top Toys") are far more interesting.  They generally play less on nostalgia per se than the imaginative engagement they evoked in their owners.  The joyful series where scaled-up Airfix, Lego, Plasticine, Meccano, Scalextric and Hornby toys are the stars also plays with the same notions.

When he gets to look at grown up toys (jetpacks and other personal flying devices for example) some of the same joy is translated into a pure vision of the numinous in tech.  So it was perhaps unsurprising when - partly in celebration of the Gargarin anniversary - the BBC decided to rebroadcast the 2009 show where May travels into the very high upper atmosphere (the "edge of space") in an American U2 spy plane.

He is overawed by the whole trip - perhaps most notably by the fact that he can see, for the first time, the curvature of the Earth. 

He only reaches, at 70,000 feet, a fraction of Gargarin's orbital distance; and yet, the mere fact that the flight has become, if not routine, then at least so sufficiently straightforward that a paunchy British auto journalist can make the voyage for a piece of TV entertainment is itself amazing.

... And here is part of it...

The Pubs Around Nunhead: 15 - Pub Paused

As expected, the Rye Hotel has been sold.  So fpr a few days it is closed, silent - Paused even - while its new owners, the Capital Pub company, presumably take stock and put their plans into operation.

One can only hope that the new plans include (i) removal of the large, hideous, over-photoshoped photographic prints that litter the walls, (ii) a brighter paint job than the ubiquitous battleship gray with which the pub is currently blighted, and (iii) fresh, new wallpaper that (at the very least) does not have a predominant colour of mud.  Of the wallpaper that the previous owners favoured, one of our offspring has pointed out that it is exactly the wallpaper they use on Dave - only substantially less colourful.

Oh, and proper lighting would be quite nice, as would an attempt to get rid of the annoying small flies that flit around the bar.

I'm not asking for much...



This week the media (TV, Press, Google etc) recognised the 50th anniversary of the first manned space flight.  Vostok 1.  April 12, 1961.  Yuri Gargarin completed one orbit of the Earth - and at its highest point he was 327 km above the surface. 
It was then, and remains, an amazing technological achievement, of course.  And from very early on, also, the Soviet Union projected him as a hero -
- and there was something of a cult of 'Gargarinia' - hero-worship as he travelled the World (as when he came to London in July 1961):
 He was on the cover of 'Time' and 'Life' magazines, and drew large crowds wherever he went.

At the same time, you can see the beginnings of the explicit romanticisation of successful space flight:
Many of these images, of course, built upon or echoed those in early SF magazines.  They still had power, of course, because the told a story about what was really happening - how those earlier imagined voyages were 'becoming true'.

I can certainly remember - first as a young boy and then a teenager - being influenced hugely by the romantic allure of the adventure of spaceflight. 

To the point that even today, although I have no head for heights at all and abhor flying, if I was offered a trip to the ISS I would definitely think about it...

Friday, 15 April 2011

Right. Right. That's that done.

Well that was good.  

A really good listen.  And some consultation.  Excellent.  It is clear that our policies here at TANH are absolutely right for the country and our readers.  But we have to try harder to put them across.

Everyone we listened to said so.

So we will be carrying on from where we left off.  Only more so.

Just as we expected.

That's it.

Listening over.

More yet...

... Still listening...


... as promised... listening about Governance....

... and other stuff...

... this is quite hard work...

More of the same - with analysis

Well.  So.
Having listened a lot, it seems clear that those people who understand International Management are really switched on regarding TANH. We are really on the same page - not like the Royal College of Bloggers and their ilk.  Bastards.

But I'm not prejudging....

Still paused and listening...

Governance tomorrow....

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Stopped for a mo'...

... I just needed a cup of tea.  Hope I didn't miss too much.  Back to listening again... 
With a bit of general consulting...


Still listening...

Still Paused...

Consulting... Listening....

Sunday, 10 April 2011


Ardent readers of this blog may have noticed that it has been quiet of late.  In truth, we've reached that point in the passage of the postings that a pause seems appropriate, to listen to the electorate and others.  We are prepared to adjust what we write, based on what we learn.

But we are convinced that the basic messages are right.  So don't expect too much in the way of a compromise.  Oh, and we aren't sacking the editor any time soon - but we have asked a few others to give him a hand with the listening bit.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Poem of the Week

The True Prison
Ken Saro-Wiwa

It is not the leaking roof
Nor the singing mosquitoes
In the damp, wretched cell.
It is not the clank of the key
As the warder locks you in.
It is not the measly rations
Unfit for man or beast
Nor yet the emptiness of day
Dipping into the blankness of night
It is not
It is not
It is not
It is the lies that have been drummed
Into your ears for one generation’
It is the security agent running amok
Executing callous calamitous orders
In exchange for a wretched meal a day
The magistrate writing in her book
Punishment she knows is undeserved
The moral ineptitude
Mental decrepitude
Lending dictatorship spurious legitimacy
Cowardice asked as obedience.
Lurking in our denigrated souls
It is fear damping trousers
We dare not wash off our urine
It is this
It is this
It is this
Dear friend, turns our free world
Into a dreary prison.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

The Pubs Around Nunhead: 14

It is finalised. 
"They" are selling The Rye, as previously reported.  But to another landlord (The Capital Pub Co., I'm afraid), rather than for flats, so that is good(ish).

Friday, 1 April 2011


Someone has just suggested I made that last post up.  As a sort of meta April Fool.
If I had, would I have posted it in March?