Thursday, 17 September 2009

The Strawberry Yoghurt FIQ

Welcome to this Strawberry Yoghurt FIQ. Please take a seat, a small pile of napkins, and some of these delicious root vegetable crisps from Pret à Manger. There you are. Lovely. Mr Thompson will shortly be along with a pleasant beverage for you. In the meantime kindly proceed with the FIQs.

Why is this blog secret?

It isn't.

Well, why haven't you told me about it?

Ah. Because I didn't know if you'd like it: indeed I worried that you'd actively disapprove, and think less of me for having it. It is, after all, a pretty self-indulgent thing to have. I mean, I quite like it, myself, but I am not exactly proud of it per se; and I could never really say, "hey, you must read this, it's great."

Not long after I embarked on this yogological journey I was talking to someone whose opinions I usually really rather respect. I mentioned blogging, though not apropos of this one: probably Tom Reynolds or Dr Crippen or something. I was quite taken aback by their very negative reaction which was - to paraphrase a little - that it's all a self-indulgent waste of time, they couldn't imagine why anyone would ever want to write or read one, it could never be any good, and so on. So, not overwhelmingly enthusiastic, you may note. After this I wasn't in a huge hurry to blurt out something starting along the lines of "hey, guess what?" and I suppose this has stuck a bit.

There's a bit more to it than that but this'll have to do for version 1. Essentially, I didn't tell you about this blog because I'm still not sure that I'm not slightly ashamed of it.

Why do you have a blog?

Dunno. Seemed like a good idea at the time. I've always liked to write and never seemed to have time. Since I got my first PDA (HP Jornada 450 of blessed memory) ages ago in 2001 or something, though, it's opened up some little chinks of time, for example when commuting, that I can use to write in. This has led to my building up a small stock of pieces that could one day become blog entries - if I ever get round to them!

My Dear Kiddiwinks, well a majority of them anyway, have also been most encouraging and supportive. So, I done it.

So you think you're A Writer do you?

Ah no. I think that I am someone who likes writing, and afterwards likes reading what I have written, or at least some of it. I am well aware that a Real Writer possesses about ninety-three characteristics that I lack.

What do you like to write about?

Obviously there's all sorts of nonsense in here but the key thing, the thing that got me going, is accounts of travel and other odds and ends (perhaps music and orienteering, the odd interesting weekend) that I like to read about again. So in a sense it is just a glorified diary.

What was your first such piece of writing?

Memory plays interesting games with this but I think the first thing I wrote in recent times, with the idea of it being some kind of travel diary, was about being in North Yorkshire when Lottie was on ProCorda North. This was, oh, yonks ago. I still haven't posted it anywhere but I still intend to do so!

As far as I recall I started writing it because I was (mostly) on my own, doing touristy things while Lottie was busy, and I wanted to capture more of the experience than I could with just photographs. With the passing years my memory is not actually improving so this becomes more important.

And your first actual blog entry?

That was on this blog's LiveJournal predecessor and was about the simple pleasures of watching football on the telly. A copy, for better or for worse, may now be seen here.

You writing about football? Ha!!

I know, I know, but give me a break: a cat can look at a king, no? And anyway it wasn't exactly a formal match report.

What's with the Strawberry Yoghurt thing?

Well, I had to call it something. And I do like strawberry yoghurt. Really. And "Fat Sad Middle-Aged Bloke with Various Annoying Obsessions" seems a little lacking in poetry; and indeed, judging by some of the other blogs I've seen, I imagine it's already taken.

So this is not an entirely serious, pure and high-minded fruit'n'dairy-product review site?

Lamentably, no.

And the anonymity?

I think I cover this in the "About Me" bit. As I explain there, it's partly work-related; it's partly to not make life too easy for lazy Googlers; and so on. It's not exactly a nuclear-hardened level of security but I like it. I also, I suppose, like having a spare identity to play with.

And the ranting?

Rants lower BP, lessen risk of brain exploding, maybe occasionally help work through things. Or not.

And the ranting about Virgin businesses?

More to come.

Why Vogel von Neustadt?

More to come. But why not?

So are you really an ex-cavalry officer of aristocratic birth, raised in some unspecified but probably German-speaking country somewhere in The Middle, where coast is somewhat scarce but mountains ten a pfennig?

Er ... Yes?

And yet at other times you seem to attempt to claim to be a northern working-class son of toil, whose Dad's generation was the first in the male line of descent not to go down t'pit, eee 'appen?

Er ... Yes. Odd, isn't it?

Who is Sprengel?

More to come.

What is the name of the Imp of the Right Shoulder?

More to come.

Who are Tamsin and Colin?

More to come.

Your blog seems rather lightweight?


And doesn't really deal with the Bigger Issues in Life?


But where is The Profundity?

Erm. Friern Barnet? Is it that new wine bar?

The Angst?

Lost me there, guv

Do you really expect your readers to believe that your life is as jolly and straightforward as you portray it?


Didn't you mean this to be an FAQ?


Oh go on, then, I'll bite: <sigh> why, pray, is this called an FIQ?

Frequently Imagined Questions

How should one pronounce FIQ?

Hmmmm – I suppose it comes out sounding a bit fick?

Talking of pronunciation, what's this thing about Reveille?

More to come.

Why do your children have titles, each one in a different language?

The European aristocracy is jolly complicated.

Do you actually read it?

More to come.


More to come.

Mr Thompson?

More to come.

Mrs Thompson?

More to come.

An ting?

Ah yes. You have Althea and Donna to thank for that.

Zorb Grelzer and The Grokuloids

I wonder whatever happened to poor old Zorb and the gang? Zorb Grelzer and The Grokuloids, eh? There’s a name to conjure with: frankly they just don’t make bands like that any more.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Bugles (and a Trumpet?) at Henry Allingham’s funeral

aux-morts-v3 I see the sad obsessive type who runs the Last Post Bugle Call page has written something about Henry Allingham’s funeral. It would seem that expensive and perhaps even painful research has led him to write a line or two describing what happened. One rousing (aha) cheer.

I must say that, as always (uh?), I’m astonished by the way in which, if you know anything about a news story, you quickly realize how much inaccuracy creeps in (like ejector seats in a Whitley!) and so I fear it has been with this story's coverage in the mainstream media. Journos and others happily assert what they think may have happened, or what their prejudices tell them happened, or even (horrors!) what a press release told them happened. In the meantime you, if you happen to know anything about bugles or yoghurt or aircraft or football or crochet or archaeology or theology or sociology or phrenology (OK OK) or just to have Been There When It Happened, you sit there chewing your knuckles in rage and muttering how could they possibly write that until the nurse arrives with your medication. What? Oh yes, sorry.

I remember once many years ago when the local paper did a piece about a dig on which Mum was working as a volunteer. This was my first encounter with Press Disillusionment, harmless really though it was. There was a nice photo of Mum holding up an artefact and the caption said “look, a piece of 12th Century pottery!” Great. lovely, nice story. Why’s this a problem? Well, no-one died but I do remember Mum pointing out that (a) she’d never said anything of the kind and (b) it wasn’t C12 anyway but a bit (a century or two or three) younger than that. In other words, the journalist simply made it up or, if we are to call a spade a spade, they – er - lied. Now as I say no lasting harm was done but experiences like that do make you suspicious; and every subsequent story of which I’ve had personal knowledge has been wrong in some detail or other … and of course the message is that if on my or your small sample of personal-knowledge stories there’s always something wrong, then how right is all the rest of what’s published?

And indeed does it matter? If some little detail is wrong in every story then it still means most stories are say >95% right – maybe that is good enough, and obsessing over pottery or bugles profits us naught. Sigh. I dunno. What do you think?

Anyway, back to the funeral. It was a splendid, impressive affair, and hardly sad at all – which is pretty reasonable, when you think it through. The musicians were great and their performance enhanced the whole thing immeasurably (yes, I would say that, wouldn’t I?). It was especially good/interesting/whatever to hear the French guy play Aux Morts, and to hear the Royal Marines at the end play the Naval Reveille, which took me more than a moment, though it should not have, to recognize. All good stuff.

Picture credit: The image showing the French player in mid-call and the two Royal Marines ready to go next was “borrowed” from the BBC News story mentioned above, thank you.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Oopsie-Beebs-a-Blog™ – witless over Whitleys. (fixed)

whitley Auntie has an interesting story about a WWII bomb being blown up on the site of a 1940 Whitley crash. The story is quite good until the author’s imagination gets the better of them and they write:

“The crew of the plane all safely ejected from the aircraft.”

Ejected? Really? I don’t think so.

I don’t mean to be rude but I do wonder what the journalist was trying to accomplish here. In earlier references (this particular story is a kind of rehash based upon there maybe being more dangerous remains to dispose of) like this and this they get it right, sticking to words like parachuted and baled out, but it’s only in this last one where the need to rewrite - and perhaps to try to sex it up a little? - has led the journalist into sad (but funny) error.

Ho hum. I have wroted to them. I wonder if they will fix it, and/or send me an amusing reply? The Beeb is sometimes quite remarkable in these matters. I will keep you posted, dear reader.

Oh yes, there’s a nice photo gallery here too, in case you’re interested.

Vogel out. Jump jump jump.

Appendix The First (and only): for those Benighted Persons Who Are Currently Going Uh Well Like What’s Wrong With That Then Er Yuh Duh?

Articles from Wikipedia (the online encyclopaedia anyone can ruin):

  • The elderly Whitley bomber, designed in the mid-30s and obsolescent at the outbreak of war;
  • The ejector seat, first used for real in 1942, barely making it into a very few production aircraft by 1945, and far from commonplace for a few more years after that: to most intents and purposes a post-WWII technology.

Are you starting to see the problem, Tamsin? Attagirl!

Update (a little later in the day); it now reads:

“The crew of the plane escaped from the aircraft.”

- which reads rather weakly to me, but is at least true. Sadly I have had no funny email from some nice BeebEditPerson to make me laugh. Ho hum. But well done Auntie for correcting it.