Wednesday, 29 February 2012


225g self-rising flour
60g margarine
60g lard
pinch of salt
75g sugar
75g currants and sultanas
1 egg
Sift together flour and salt. Rub margarine and lard into mixture to resemble breadcrumbs. Add sugar and mixed fruit. Mix in egg to form a soft dough. Chill for 1 hour.

Roll out to 5mm thick and cut into 5cm rounds. Bake on a hot griddle or a heavy frying pan greased with a little lard until lightly browned on both sides. Place on cooling trays and sprinkle with a little sugar.

Best eaten tomorrow on St David's Day, accompanied with several cups of strong tea.
Today's run at 16:30
Distance4.01 kmTime22:33
Pace5:37 min/kmCadence80 spm
Comments: Clear and sunny.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Tomorrow is a leap day...

I knew a girl who was a couple of years older than me at school; she was born on February 29th. She was fond of asking people how old they thought she was. When they guessed at 16, she'd correct them and say that she was 4. How we'd laugh... It soon lost it's appeal.

Tomorrow is February 29th or leap day, as it is sometimes known. Leap day is an additional day inserted into the calendar to correct the 6 hours not counted each year as the earth orbits the sun every 365.25 days.

Persons born on February 29th are sometimes known as leaplings. In non leap years, depending on the law, they either mark their birthday on February 28th or March 1st. Notable people born on February 29th include: Gioachino Rossini, Jimmy Dorsey and Dinah Shore. James Milne Wilson, the Premier of Tasmania from 1869 to 1872, was both born and died on February 29th.

BBC Radio 4's PM programme is asking its listeners to take a leap this year by thinking of February 29th as a free day and to mark it by doing something different.
On PM we've been highlighting listeners' planned leaps every night: a man debilitated by depression and almost unable to leave the house who hopes to take the bus to Swansea, a pensioner who's getting her first tattoo, a man who's been spurred on to finish his first symphony and many more.
It's an interesting way of looking at this leap day. What are you going to do?
Today's run at 17:49
Distance4.26 kmTime23:11
Pace5:26 min/kmCadence81 spm
Comments: Overcast.

Monday, 27 February 2012

You can't take it with you...

Earlier this evening, I joked on Twitter about helping someone spend a million pounds. Chance would be a fine and pleasurable thing. But seriously, how would you spend £1m?

It used to be a question that took a while to answer. With inflation taking its toll over the years, the answers have gradually grown shorter. Time was when your imagination would run dry well before the cash ran out.

The world's first millionaire is said to have been 18th Century merchant, Elias Hasket Derby. Whilst undoubtedly wealthy, it is thought that he was just one of a number of wealthy and successful Massachusetts businessmen during the period.

History is littered with the wealthy; money can even buy you an entry in the history books. Notably wealthy figures from history include:
Alan Rufus, a companion of William the Conqueror
Marcus Licinius Crassus, Roman politician who made up the first triumverate along with Pompey and Julius Caesar
Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, the richest monarch in history and the wealthiest saint.
The Rothschilde family, a European dynasty of German-Jewish bankers and financiers
According to the World Wealth Report, the US has more millionaires than any other country, with Japan in 2nd place and Germany in 3rd place. The UK comes in at 5th place after China and ahead of France. The US$m was used as the measure here.

If ever you were in the enviable position of needing help in spending a fortune, have a look at this Independent article from last July: EuroMillions: £154 million, how to spend it all in one week.
Today's run at 17:48
Distance4.15 kmTime23:29
Pace5:39 min/kmCadence80 spm
Comments: Grey and spitting with rain.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

This Charming Man...

I've spent today playing The Smiths and humming along to them. I've been a fan ever since my days as a student in Cardiff in the early 80s. I saw them at the Mayfair, Swansea, in 1984. I was enthralled by Morrissey's image: National Health glasses and hearing aid - not sure what that says about me...?

I remember pushing my way to the front at that gig in Swansea and, as the guitar intro to This Charming Man started, I thrust my hand toward Morrissey, who, squatting at the front of the stage, grabbed it and held it for the entire duration of the song.

With all the sweaty pushing and shoving at the front, the dye from my black belt had run into my new white trousers. I didn't care; Morrissey had just held my hand and sung This Charming Man to me. I was in love! I could have died there and then and my life would have been worth it. To quote another Smiths song:
And if a double-decker bus
Crashes into us
To die by your side
Is such a heavenly way to die
And if a ten ton truck
Kills the both of us
To die by your side
Well the pleasure, the privilege is mine
You've got to love that mix angst and humour. I don't get those people who write him off as miserable - they're not listening closely enough. I think his songs are painful and real and funny.

Morrissey once did an interview where he was asked what he thought of TATU's cover of How Soon Is Now? Morrissey said that he thought that it was magnificent but admitted that he did not know too much about TATU. The interviewer explained, "They're teenage Russian lesbians." To which Morrissey replied, "Well, aren't we all?

I'll leave you with a video of This Charming Man.
Today's run at 15:01
Distance4.01 kmTime22:04
Pace5:30 min/kmCadence79 spm
Comments: Clear and sunny.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Triple Crown...

What a wonderful, heart in the mouth, happy, exciting, intense, controversial, stressful, thrilling, relentless, unpredictable, pressured, frantic, ferocious, frenetic, heart stopping, Triple Crown winning, success of a match that was for Wales.

An enjoyable afternoon watching Wales win over England in the pub with friends.
Today's run at 15:26
Distance3.99 kmTime21:41
Pace5:26 min/kmCadence80 spm
Comments: Clear and sunny.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Happy days...

Pictured on the right is a London Transport Photocard from 1987. And pictured on that card is me aged 25. I came across it at the bottom of a drawer a couple of days ago.

I was working as an actor for Gay Sweatshop, a London based gay theatre company. We were touring out of London and it was my first professional acting role. I was (despite the rather earnest look on my face) chuffed to bits.

I spent my spare time drinking endless cups of tea at the newly opened First Out Cafe or watching Lily Savage (before she hit the big time) at the Prince of Wales in Brixton or the Royal Vauxhall Tavern in Vauxhall. First Out closed last year, the Prince of Wales is now a straight bar called the Prince but, I'm happy to say, the Royal Vauxhall Tavern (or RVT as it's now known) is still flying that rainbow flag.

They were uncertain times: Thatcher was at the height of her powers and there was always something to protest about or march against. Happy days, indeed...

Thursday, 23 February 2012

See you next Tuesday...

Cunt. Probably, the most offensive word in the English language. It's quite fashionable to say fuck; not an evening passes at the best parties without its mention - even the Royals use it. Cunt, however, is a different matter altogether. Germaine Greer has said that "it is one of the few remaining words in the English language with a genuine power to shock."

The etymology of the word is disputed. It is thought by some that the word is related to the Old Norse, kunta and Middle High German kotze meaning prostitute. It's been linked to the etymology of country and kin, although this again is disputed, as has its connection with the Latin word cuneus, meaning wedge. It has even been suggested that the Welsh word cwm, meaning valley, is also related.

Offensive as it maybe throughout the English speaking world, in other languages I get the feeling it doesn't have quite the same taboo status. Take, for example, the Spanish equivalent word coño, which, when used as an exclamation, seems to be on a par with damn or shit in English.

Many people will be aware of using the motor-racing driver's name James Hunt to reference cunt and most people are now aware of the phrase See you next Tuesday as an allusion to the word. I'm guessing though that many will not know that the term berk is short for Berkeley Hunt; rhyming slang for cunt.

My favorite witticism involving the word has to be Stephen Fry's definition of countryside - the murder of Piers Morgan. And you can't really discuss cunt without paying homage to Kenny Everett's creation, Cupid Stunt.
Today's run at 17:09
Distance4.01 kmTime21:24
Pace5:20 min/kmCadence80 spm
Comments: Blustery.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

What to give up for Lent...?

Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent; a period of penitential preparation in the Christian calendar that culminates approximately 6 weeks later on Maundy Thursday in Holy Week.

Of course, Christians are not alone in depriving themselves as part of their faith for a period of time; Mulims, Hindus, Jews and followers of many other religions fast or give something up as an important part of their faiths too.

So what am I going to give up for Lent? With the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu's warnings about gay marriage and the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey's opposition to gay marriage still ringing in my ears, for Lent this year I think I'm going to give up hope.
Today's run at 18:17
Distance4.02 kmTime22:17
Pace5:33 min/kmCadence81 spm
Comments: Squally showers.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Are we not drawn onward to new era...?

Today's date is a palindrome: 21 02 2012. For those of you wondering what exactly a palindrome is: it's a series of units that form an identical sequence, whether read from left to right (or top to bottom) or in reverse. Today is the 11th palindromic date this century.

The title of today's entry is also palindromic. But... it doesn't quite work, does it? Close but no cigar. Yes, it's a perfect palindrome but to scan properly it should read, "Are we not drawn onward to a new era?". To prolong the pain even further, someone has laboured for hours extending it to, "Are we not drawn onward, we few, drawn onward to new era?"

And I guess that's the problem with palindromes; the longer they are, the more cumbersome and inelegant they tend to become. The effort expended in working them out as they squeeze and contort far outweighs their worth. You shouldn't be able to smell the sweat.

One of the most famous (and elegant) palindromes must be, "A man, a plan, a canal; Panama!" It may not be the longest but it's elegant, moderately witty and it makes sense - more than can be said for:
Do good? I? No. Evil anon I deliver. I maim nine more hero-men in Saginaw, sanitary sword a-tuck, Carol, I. Lo! Rack, cut a drowsy rat in Aswan. I gas nine more hero-men in Miami. Reviled, I (Nona) live on. I do, O God.
My apologies for forcing you to read that. Whilst, technically, it is palindromic, it makes no sense whatsoever. It's merely an excruciating exercise in cleverness.

The shorter ones are usually more elegant (and memorable) such as, "Gnu dung", "A Toyota", "Rise to vote, sir" and "Never odd or even"
Today's run at 17:19
Distance4.02 kmTime21:39
Pace5:23 min/kmCadence80 spm
Comments: Grey.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Daniel Radcliffe is offensive...

Attitude is a gay magazine. Its front cover often depicts a bare chested model but not always. Sainsbury's supermarket has seen fit to cover the magazine in what's called a modesty cover. Modesty covers have been introduced by a number of retailers in recent years to cover images that customers might find potentially offensive.

A representative from Sainsbury's defended their decision, "Following feedback from customers we introduced modesty covers several years ago across a wide variety of magazines. This is to ensure no offence is caused to customers who may object to the images or the content on the covers of some magazines."

Sainsbury's later admitted that the titles included in their "modesty policy" were Gay Times, Attitude, Loaded, Zoo, Nuts and Bizarre. Magazines like FHM, Esquire, GQ, Stuff and Men’s Health were not covered by the policy. Are you telling me that Attitude is on a par with Nuts (Britain's Boobiest Babes.) and Zoo (Jordan Carver's 32HH Boobs - the rack is back.) or more offensive than FHM (8 Girls. 2 Parties. Not many clothes.).

I'm not arguing that pornographic images be displayed in supermarkets up and down the country. And I'm not going to argue that this is Sainsbury's being homophobic because I don't think it is. No; this decision to dress Attitude in a modesty cover is based on a subjective view of what passes for good taste, which, in turn, is based upon the narrow norms of an individual or a small group. It is an out dated view of nice.

Who in hell could find Daniel Radcliffe offensive?
Today's run at 17:50
Distance4.01 kmTime20:46
Pace5:10 min/kmCadence81 spm
Comments: Overcast.

Sunday, 19 February 2012


I woke up early this morning; earlier than I'd ideally like for a Sunday, anyway. There's only one course of action when you are awake at 7am on the weekend and that's to go for a run. I'm not a huge fan of morning runs but they have their advantages: few people, little traffic and often good weather.

This morning's run took in Cardiff's Boy George Avenue (Lloyd George Av for the uninitiated). The sky was blue, the sun was shining and there was so little traffic I could have run on the road, however, there were quite a few people about - more than I'd expect for 8am on a Sunday morning.

I counted 5 people who looked as if they were walking into work, 4 people out walking their dogs, 3 joggers, 2 guys in t-shirts doing the walk of shame home and 1 guy on a bike with a fishing rod.

Imagine; if I hadn't woken up early I'd've missed all that...
Today's run at 07:52
Distance4.02 kmTime22:52
Pace5:42 min/kmCadence81 spm
Comments: Cold, clear and sunny.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

My family and other sodomites...

Christianity has never been too kind to us sodomites. Ever since Ham saw Noah's nakedness and was banished into slavery, the scene was set. The bible is littered with references to us dogs; the abominations we have committed and the punishments that Yahweh sees fit to hand out.

When Christianity spread west during the First Millennium, homophobia became institutionalised and us faggots were burned alive for our genital fun. Over the next Millennium more elaborate and grotesque punishments were dreamt up - such as aversion therapy and chemical castration.

The dawning of the Third Millennium saw our hopes for a more liberal and accepting church dashed yet again. The Vatican continues to see us as engagers in unatural actsFred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church assert that God Hates Fags and even our dear old Church of England's latent homophobia has found a renewed vigour in their second in command, John Sentamu.

And you ask me why I'm an atheist...?
Today's run at 07:48
Distance4.01 kmTime22:15
Pace5:33 min/kmCadence82 spm
Comments: Patchy cloud.

Friday, 17 February 2012

The devil and all his hellish brood...

It is said that the Devil comes in many guises. It's certainly true that he's referred to by many names: the Antichrist, the Beast, Lord of the Flies, Lucifer, Prince of Darkness, Satan, His Satanic Majesty and of course 666 - the Name of the Beast.

Despite all these lurid names and others, the depictions of Satan that send a shiver up this atheist's spine are those dreamt up by Hieronymus Bosch, the 15th Century Dutch painter. He seems to have had a particular talent for representing the Devil and his hellish brood.

His painting The Garden of Earthly Delights, housed in the Prado in Madrid, sets out what you can expect from Old Nick if you choose the wrong path. I remember being quite speechless when I stood before it in the Prado. I've always been a fan of Bosch and this is one my favorite paintings.

The painting is a triptych with the left panel representing paradise, the right panel representing hell and the centre panel being this world; a garden of earthly delights. This world is a place of erotic temptation and we all know where that will lead.

Hell is a topsy-turvy world populated by giant hybrid creatures that torment sinners for the liberties they've enjoyed. In hell, Satan and his forces are truly hellish.
Today's run at 18:15
Distance4.01 kmTime21:13
Pace5:17 min/kmCadence81 spm
Comments: Cloudy.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

The National Museum of Wales...

I have always liked the National Museum of Wales. I like its setting in Cathays Park in Cardiff, I like its architecture and I like its art collection. I also like the fact that it's completely free to view most exhibitions.

The art collection at the National Museum of Wales is world class. You can find there works by Honoré Daumier, Jean-François Millet, Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Cézanne, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Auguste Rodin, Augustus John (that's his portrait of Dylan Thomas on the right), Gwen John, Ceri Richards, Kyffin Williams, Jacob Epstein, Eric Gill, Stanley Spencer, L. S. Lowry, Peter Blake, Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon, Frank Auerbach and many others.

If you work in the centre of Cardiff, it's not a bad way to spend the occasional lunch hour; drifting through the serene galleries gazing on these masterpieces. Let's face it, its got to be better than dodging the chuggers on Queen St in the rain

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Utter contempt...

It was Easter 1979, I was only 17 years old and I was summoned to appear with 12 of my friends before Torquay Magistrates' Court.

During the previous week, much to my shame, I'd been arrested in Torquay (along with 12 of my friends) for being drunk and disorderly. We'd all descended on the resort for the bank holiday weekend and, after a day of pub crawling, we'd become a little boisterous and exuberant in our behaviour toward the end of the afternoon.

I don't remember anything about the incident itself, other than being handcuffed, then forced to spend a very uncomfortable night in a local police cell and having the mother of hangovers the following day.

For the return trip to appear in court, we'd all taken the day off work and hired a minibus to ferry us from Penclawdd (just west of Swansea) to Torquay - a 340 mile round trip. Consequently it was an early start and my mother got me up, ironed my shirt and fed me my breakfast. She waved me off, cursing my stupidity all the while.

Again, my memory of this day is patchy - I think out of a deep sense of shame I must've obliterated it from my mind. I can't remember anything of the journey there or back and my recollection of what went on in court, for the most part, is a dim and distant one.

One memory of the court proceedings, however, shines beacon-like in my mind. As all 13 of us stood there, the Clerk of the Court read out our names, including our middle names. This started us gulping back giggles as we learned of the weird names with which our parents had blessed each of us.

It didn't help that the Clerk's voice wreaked of british establishment with its RP accent and vice-like consonantal grip. He sounded like the Queen but an octave lower. I think, despite near asphyxiation, we successfully managed to disguise these giggles.

We weren't so lucky with what came next. The Clerk went on to describe the circumstances of our arrest which we all listened to with interest, as none of us could really recall the details of the actual events. The Clerk continued in his plummy accent:
The thirteen accused then proceeded down Torwood Street shouting, "We are the Welsh. We are the Welsh. Fuck off you English bastards."
There was no way on earth we could disguise the outburst of laughter that followed this, which was, of course, reflected in the fines handed out to us.
Today's run at 17:29
Distance4.01 kmTime22:03
Pace5:30 min/kmCadence80 spm
Comments: Cloudy.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

When Valentine messages go wrong...

It was 8:00am on St Valentine's Day 2011 and I was stood at the bus stop on my way to work. I was texting a gay friend of mine; doing the usual Valentines jokes, asking if the card or flowers I'd sent had arrived yet. He replied with much the same question and this went on for a few flirtatious exchanges. My last text to him just before I got into work was, I thought, a good one-liner; something to move him onto the next level in inappropriateness. It made me smile.

Throughout that morning I fully expected him to come back with something witty. Maybe something to top my last text; I was looking forward to an escalation of inappropriate texts with him. It was busy in work that day so when he didn't reply I soon forgot and thought no more of it.

Two weeks later I was sitting in bed at about midnight. I couldn't get to sleep and it seemed as good a time as any to go through my phone to tidy up my contacts and delete any unwanted texts. My eye was drawn to one I'd sent to a colleague. I can remember frowning and thinking, I've not been in contact via text with that person in months.

Of course, when I opened the text, there it was, "In a taxi on my way to yours now. I have your Valentine's gift with me. Ooo, these hot-pants are chafing!" sent to a straight guy I work with. After the first flush of embarrassment, I started to giggle, which, in turn became a belly laugh until tears were rolling down my cheeks as I gasped for air. I laughed myself to sleep that night.

What was funniest of all was that he'd not thought to ask why I'd sent it to him. Knowing him, he'd've just rolled his eyes and thought no more of it. Thank you @Jaymond36.
Today's run at 18:16
Distance4.01 kmTime22:05
Pace5:30 min/kmCadence81 spm
Comments: Cloudy.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Can't buy me love...

There have been 14 martyred Roman saints that have gone by the name Valentine. Nobody's quite sure which one is commemorated on February 14th. The first recorded connection between St Valentine and romantic love was made by Chaucer in 1382 when courtly love was first imported from France as the next big thing.

Numerous poets have alluded to it down the ages but it didn't really kick off as a commercial venture until the late 18th Century, when a British publisher produced a book of romantic poetry for those too lazy and/or stupid to write their own.

Until the 19th Century, hand written notes and letters were exchanged between the nation's love sick but by the mid 1800s cards were being manufactured in factories for sale to the public: at last, you could now prove how much you cared by spending every last farthing on a pre-printed card.

By the mid 20th Century things had moved on again and gifts such as flowers, chocolates and even jewellery (in addition to cards) were being exchanged - items that between February 13th and 14th see a bigger price hike than Whitney Houston albums.

Inevitably, the internet has seen a surge of Valentine cards exchanged online, with an estimated 15 million e-valentines being sent in 2010. Would-be Casanovas, their loins unfettered by the world wide web, can now express their passion in an unstoppable, orgasmic fountain of cheap, red, cutesy, virtual tat.

Not that I'm bitter or anything...
Today's run at 18:48
Distance4.01 kmTime21:29
Pace5:22 min/kmCadence81 spm
Comments: Cloudy.

Sunday, 12 February 2012


The act of smiling induces smiles in others. I can be in the most foul of moods and someone smiles and, like a heavy fog lifting, I'm left bathed in the most brilliant sunshine.

Rooting around for something in some far flung corner of my flat the other day, I came across a sheet of stamps I'd forgotten that I had. Designed by Michael Peters and Partners Ltd, the Royal Mail issued these stamps entitled 'Smiles' in February 1990.

They never fail to put me in a good mood.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

You can take the boy out of Penclawdd...

...But you can't take Penclawdd out of the boy - or so the saying goes. But then, it's been said about so many places, it's a cliché. And clichés become clichés because they express a truth; my inability to extract Penclawdd from me, try as I once did, is one such truth.

Penclawdd is a village on the northern coast of the Gower Peninsula. Once a thriving port, it was famous for it's coal mining and copper smelting. It faces Llanelli across the Loughor Estuary and all heavy industry has long gone and it's now known for it's shellfish.

For years cockles have been gathered on the estuary and sold at local markets. It was a trade dominated by women with their donkeys, carts, rakes and riddles (my grandmother was one). It's now an industry led by male gatherers with their landrovers and their worldwide cockle sales.

I left Penclawdd in 1983 and I've returned there many times over the years. However, whenever I think of the place it is always through polarized 70s sunglasses and I never think of cockles but whispered gossip and a vague feeling of claustrophobia.
Today's run at 17:16
Distance5.02 kmTime25:45
Pace5:08 min/kmCadence83 spm
Comments: Clear; still & cold.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Toilet humour...

Surely this poster found in the toilets at Swansea University giving instructions of how to use the toilet is a joke, right?

Not according to the Swansea Evening Post.

If a student can't use the toilet, it does beg the question as to whether they are entirely ready to enter tertiary education.
Today's run at 17:29
Distance4.01 kmTime21:04
Pace5:15 min/kmCadence82 spm
Comments: Overcast; cold.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Zebra stripes may have evolved to keep biting flies at bay...

The headline on this BBC article reads, "Zebra stripes evolved to keep biting flies at bay". It's an interesting piece about a study undertaken by Hungarian and Swedish scientists who measured the attractiveness of certain colours and patterns to biting flies. They began by painting boards different colours, then they left those boards coated with a sticky substance in a field. After a set time they counted the flies stuck to each board.

The black and brown boards turned out to be the ones with the most flies stuck to them, with the lighter boards attracting the fewest flies. What came as a surprise was that the boards with zebra stripes attracted even fewer flies than the white boards. This they deduced was because of the light wave formation reflected by the different boards and detected by the flies. They repeated the experiment but with painted horse models covered in a sticky substance with much the same result.

However, it seems that the scientists did not say, "Zebra stripes evolved to keep biting flies at bay". No. And in the BBC report Prof Matthew Cobb, an evolutionary biologist from the University of Manchester, pointed out that the experiment did not exclude the other hypotheses about the origin of zebras' stripes". He went on to say, "Above all, for this explanation to be true, the authors would have to show that tabanid fly bites are a major selection pressure on zebras, but not on horses and donkeys found elsewhere in the world... none of which are stripy,"

And despite all this the BBC went with the headline, "Zebra stripes evolved to keep biting flies at bay". Who was it who once asked, "Why let the facts stand in the way of a good story?"

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Grant a pardon to Alan Turing...

I don't usually ask people to sign petitions but I'm going to make an exception in the case of this e-petition to grant a pardon to Alan Turing. Here's why...

In December I wrote a short post about the achievements of Alan Turing:
  • The crucial role he played in the Allies victory during the Second World War by breaking the enigma code.
  • His inestimable contribution to the modern theory of computation.
  • His ground breaking work on artificial intelligence.
  • His designs for a stored programme computer.
As some of you will know, in 1952 he was prosecuted for homosexual offences, his security clearance was withdrawn and he was chemically castrated. He committed suicide in 1954.

In 2012, the centenary of his birth, the UK Government has rejected a pardon that his supporters have been campaigning for. The Justice Minister, Lord McNally argued that the reason for this is because, "A posthumous pardon was not considered appropriate as Alan Turing was properly convicted of what at the time was a criminal offence."

Does this mean that a pardon should not be considered for anyone breaking a law, however unfair, unjust or immoral that law? On that basis, Lord McNally considers the following unpardonable too:
  • Black slaves from the US who were punished for trying to escape their bondage in the early 19th Century
  • South African civil rights campaigners of the 20th Century who were imprisoned for their actions
  • Jews who had their businesses closed down under laws that existed in Germany in the 1930s
It's my belief that a pardon should be extended to Alan Turing and also to all those men who suffered because of this spiteful scrap of homophobic legislation.

So please, sign this e-petition to grant a pardon to Alan Turing. It's in large part thanks to him that we live in a country where petitions such as this one are allowed.
Today's run at 17:53
Distance4.22 kmTime23:51
Pace5:39 min/kmCadence80 spm
Comments: Still. Cold.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Watch with Mother...

Watch With Mother was a slot on BBC TV airing various children's programmes though the 60s and 70s before being replaced in 1980 by the inferior See-Saw. However, I don't ever remember watching any of these programmes actually with my Mother. She was always in another room. It didn't matter, I was entertained.

I can just about remember sitting squat on the floor in front of that old black and white TV, as the valves warmed up for about two minutes before any picture appeared. There was no remote. Even the laziest TV addict got some exercise when they wanted to change channels.

We could only receive two channels in our house back then, BBC1 and HTV. BBC2, I think, had started broadcasting but the reception was poor and we couldn't get it. And if on those two channels there was nothing that you liked, then you switched the set off and did something else.

My favourite programme was Pogles' Wood - Mr and Mrs Pogle, Pippin and Tog. They lived within the root structure of a large tree and I was totally fascinated by them. I guess, by today's standards, they look quite primative but in the late 60s Pogles' Wood was a magical and enchanting place.

Pogles' Wood was the creation of Oliver Postgate, creator of other children's classics such as Ivor the Engine, The Clangers and Bagpuss. He was a conscientious objector during the Second World War and was active in anti nuclear campaigns during the 70s and 80s. Postgate's voice will be instantly recognisable to anyone who was a child in Britain from the late 50s onwards.

Just the mention of Pogles' Wood takes my mind rushing back to a time when I dreamt of living my life as a wide eyed changeling boy called Pippin whose best friend was a large, stripy, squirrel-like creature called Tog.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Madonna Louise Ciccone...

I've never been a huge fan of Madge. Yes, I've got her greatest hits albums; yes, I saw her Confessions Tour here in Cardiff and yes, I've recently dedicated myself to Kabbalah and adopted a little boy from Malawi.

Last night Madonna took to the stage for the Super Bowl XLVI halftime show. The show opened with a Roman theme complete with several legions of dancers and (via Vogue, Music, Give Me All Your Luvvin', Open Your Heart, Express Yourself and Like a Prayer) ended with a sort of Gospel/Wicked Witch of the West theme.

There was much anticipation in the build up and much excitement during her 13 minute performance. Twitter went crazy with 12,233 tweets per second; her fans tweeting in wild excitement and her detractors raining scorn on her parade. There were tweets crowning her the empress of pop music and others bitching about her lip synching.

Me? I didn't watch it last night but, rather, caught it on You Tube tonight. All I'd say is, for a 53 year old, twice married, mother of four, she's doing OK.
Today's run at 18:00
Distance4.00 kmTime22:13
Pace5:33 min/kmCadence81 spm
Comments: Overcast.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Castell Coch & The Queen: Art and Image...

I spent a very enjoyable day today with a friend at Castell Coch and then later at the National Museum of Wales.

Castell Coch is the Gothic Revival castle, built by William Burges in the 19th Century near Tongwynlais just north of Cardiff. I'm always surprised at how many people living in Cardiff are surprised by it's existence. It deserves more publicity than it gets.

There are lots of narrow steps to climb and towers to peer out of, some great views of Cardiff in the distance and a nice little tea room (avoid the coffee) that sells home made cakes. It makes for a good day out, especially by bicycle via the Taff Trail on a summer's day.

The National Museum of Wales in the centre of Cardiff is currently hosting The Queen: Art and Image, a touring exhibition bringing together 60 of the most striking images of Elizabeth II to mark her Diamond Jubilee. I'm no monarchist but this exhibition is enjoyable and often funny. Well worth a visit.

Saturday, 4 February 2012


When I was a kid in school I was always told that the UK population was a seemingly unerring and steady 52 million. That was the figure quoted from the time I entered primary education until I left secondary education. If it changed during those 14 years, nobody mentioned it.

Today, the UK's population is estimated at 63 million with the welsh population of 3 million making up a mere 4.8% of that. London's population is more than double that. As you might expect the death rate in the UK has decreased over the last 50 years but so has the birth rate. The only year where the death rate was higher than the birth rate was 1976 - perhaps it was the heat?

According to the United Nations, the world population reached 7 billion last October. That's a lot of people. You often hear the phrase that there are more people alive today than have ever lived. That's one helluva claim and, according to this BBC article on demographics, a false one. For every person alive today, it asserts, there are 15 persons dead.

For more information, you could look here for UK demographics and here for world demographics.
Today's run at 15:32
Distance4.01 kmTime22:21
Pace5:35 min/kmCadence80 spm
Comments: Sleet. Slippery.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Ain't no shrimp...

This is the stuff of nightmares; a crustacean monster, some as long as 34cm, has been discovered lurking 7km down in the deep off the coast of New Zealand. When I saw the news item on these gargantuan amphipods, I froze.

You have to admit that this king size member of the amphipod family is a repulsive brute. Even at their smallest, they're not the world's cuddliest of creatures. At over a foot long, cuddly couldn't be further from my mind.

You'd need a couple of jars of Thousand Island Dressing to make a prawn cocktail out of these daddies.
Today's run at 18:30
Distance4.01 kmTime21:40
Pace5:24 min/kmCadence81 spm
Comments: Cold. Clear.

Thursday, 2 February 2012


It was so cold when I went out for tonight's run. Usually, after a minute or two of running, whatever the weather, I am sweating. That didn't happen tonight and, despite wearing gloves, by the time I got home again my fingers were hurting because of the cold.

In my usual exaggerating way, I was convinced for a nano second that I had frostbite. My hands were that cold that my fingers ached. I could barely move them. I then came to my senses and realised that cold fingers are a long way from Frostbite.

Frostbite is a medical condition where localized damage is caused to skin and other tissues due to extreme cold. There are 4 degrees of frostbite and, depending on the severity of the frostbite, it can leave the patient with nerve damage, bone damage and tissue damage needing surgery and sometimes amputation.

Frostbite can affect any part of the body but the most common areas to to suffer are the extremities. The damage to tissue caused by frostbite often takes months to assess. This causes delays in surgery prompting the adage, Frozen in January, amputate in July.

You can find out more on the frostbite page at NHS Choices.
Today's run at 18:18
Distance4.03 kmTime21:08
Pace5:15 min/kmCadence82 spm
Comments: Freezing. Clear.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012


Made In America by Bill Bryson, is about how British English has been adapted, enriched, subverted, wrestled with and wrought into today's American English over the last 400 years. Much has been written about English, the common language that separates Britain and the US. However, nothing approaches the anecdotal and offbeat style adopted by Mr Bryson in his book.

American English has never restricted itself to adapting British English alone. A myriad of words have been introduced to American English by the waves of immigration through the 19th and early 20th Centuries. Everyone is aware of the words that the Italians, Irish and Jews brought with them and, I think most would agree, the American language would be all the poorer without them.

There are pockets of communities throughout the US who still speak their original native tongues. It's no surprise then to discover that these communities are still contributing to the vocabulary of American English, even hybrid communities such as Pennsylvania German (or Pennsylvania Dutch as it's sometimes known).

So it was, with keen interest that I read about how, in isolation, this language has drifted away from standard German. There are words they have for situations that other languages would require whole sentences to describe. For example, fedderschei - the condition of being reluctant to write letters and aagehaar - an eyelash hair that grows inwardly and irritates the sclera.

But there is one word that top trumps all contenders. In Mudderschprooch (as Pennsylvania German is known to its native speakers) that word is aarschgnoddle - the globules of faeces found on the hair in the vicinity of the anus.

And so, today's word of the day is aarschgnoddle. Repeat after me, aarschgnoddle. And your challenge today is to casually drop it into a conversation before the day is out...
Today's run at 14:46
Distance4.04 kmTime22:58
Pace5:41 min/kmCadence80 spm
Comments: Cold. Clear. Sunny.