Archives for category: Books

Well that was a rather stuffed weekend.  Full to the brim of frippery, family, food, firewater, and frivolity.  Fun times and so it’s back to work with a bump.

Friday was the Smithy open and a lot of fun that is. We were very lucky with the weather. In fact this has been true all weekend. Not a raincloud in sight.  Very warm though. Close, as the old folks would say. All went off without a hitch, and although I didn’t win, it’s not about the winning or loosing… it’s about the winning. Well done Stanlar.

Our evening entertainment was an eclectic mix of establishments on the Bath road in Cheltenham, including The Exmouth Arms, The Brown Jug and the 5 Alls. Extremes, but all very enjoyable. Pleased to see the 6X of my home town on tap in the Brown Jug.  I’ve been in here plenty of times before, and always enjoyed it and it’s also good to see the 5 Alls having a lick of paint. All a bit of a blur, but generally a nice bunch of boozers. There’s more about that over on the WTC site though. ’nuff said.

Friday night was also the launch of the Cheltenham Literature Festival which this year, we’ve failed miserably to get properly involved with. What is does mean is that Cheltenham gets very busy and is a generally slightly more interesting place to be for the week. That’s not to say that it isn’t always interesting, it’s just this week (like any Cheltenham Festival week) is more so. The streets are littered with interesting characters, both well known and completely unidentifiable that make people watching an excellent pastime.

For example, on Friday we had Melvyn Bragg, Simon Hoggart, Mark Kermode & Andrew Marr.  Gutted that I missed Dr K of course, but would also have loved to have heard Andrew Marr after writing about him earlier in the year. I hear reports that he was having a go at bloggers. More on that here and here. Very entertaining stuff I’m sure.

On Saturday, as regular readers will be aware, it was Cheltenham’s attempt at a SuperSwarm that drew Mrs G, Daughter and I to “The Bank House” in the town, as well as a few other bits and pieces of shopping that needed to be done. It was interesting to finally put some actual faces to Twitter names that I’ve read about and followed. The likes of @AdrianEXG & @jonnop to name but two. It was a valiant effort and there was a decent buzz (all puns intended even if not achieved) about the place that made it look like there was a chance of achieving it. In fact, The Literature Festival itself drew a large enough crowd to aquire a spontaneous “Swarm” badge* (a group of 50) during the morning.

Sadly, it wasn’t to be. The crowd peaked at 120, and 250 is the target. Of course this is still something of a success. Even 120 people is no mean feat, but while the Literature Festival does bring a lot of people to Cheltenham, they may not necessarily be the people that are foursquare savvy. A more likely target – given the numbers of people involved would be Cheltenham races. Punters are twitterer’s because they’re looking for the inside line on the horses s this makes them a natural progression for Foursquare. Maybe the team will have a pop at the Festival in March ??. There’s racing on Friday/Saturday too but more on that later in the week.

Saturday’s LitFest names included Sebastian Faulks, Alastair Campbell & Darling (although not together) & “the Dark Lord”, Peter Madelson. Also ran… Armstrong & Miller and Derren Brown. Needless to say we hadn’t arranged tickets for any of these shows this year and that truly is a travesty. Sunday had Stephen Hawking, Clive Anderson, Graham Norton, Germain Greer, Martin Jarvis and so the list goes on and on and on…Of the approximately 200 well known faces to appear this year, the worst one to miss of the lot is next Friday. 12-1pm Mr Stephen Fry. He is the king of twitter and a national treasure.

Next year, Mrs G and I will be having a week off and planning it properly.

After the people-watching and book browsing of the day, the early evening saw the arrival of the Scottish contingent who are staying with us until Tuesday. This is Mrs G’s sister & D along with the three little ones, A, W & F.

Good company, good food & good wine made for a most enjoyable evening and onwards into the wee small hours of Sunday morning. Daughter & Son where out with friends but bother were tucked up asleep by the time the rest of the house arose by 9am. Sunday meant a roast dinner in the pub with Grandparents. More excellent socialising and the early evening led to kids hot-tubbing which had meant a bit of work for me to prep it having not used it for the last couple of months. Auntie S brought the cousins (E&E) round as well, so the house was fit to burst with kids and adults all having a great time and bemoaning the quality of the X-Factor among other things. All provoking much giggling, pointing and oooo-ing and ahhh-ing. Fun times.

Finally exhausted, all retired for the evening, save myself and D who with a night-cap in hand enjoyed a run of The Big Lebowski before admitting defeat and turning in for the night. Try as I might, time & tide waits for no man and with the inevitability of the sun rising, so the working week begins and all I can do is get on with it whilst wishing for the new year and the start of the new job. L&D & Kids are off to Slimbridge with Grandparents while the rest of us work for a living. They’ll be back this evening for one last night of socialising before heading off to the south coast for the week.

Hey ho – back to it.


* If you want to know more about all of the Foursquare badges – details can be seen here: http://tonyfelice.wordpress.com/foursquare/


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

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After the constant down pouring of yesterday, it’s particularly pleasant to wake up to glorious sunshine this morning. But it is all a bit on and off isn’t it? Fear not though, for I am not Henry the 2nd and I’m not looking for a bunch of knights to murder anyone by the name of Becket.

On the subject of outlaws, tomorrow we’ll be having both the in-laws and out-laws to lunch (not for lunch) and so today will involve some preparation for such a feast. The plan was to cycle to the various vegetable selling locations and purveyors of meat to acquire the necessary accoutrements, but we do have a slight logistical problem vis a vis the bikes.

In her infinite wisdom, daughter chose to cycle to work on Mrs G’s bike on Wednesday. Since she arrived we’ve had constant rain and so she chose to get a lift home instead of cycle. Mrs G’s bike is still there locked in a back room. Daughter is fast asleep having been on night duty so we’re a one bike family for now. As you can see, the plan has gone awry. Not that it’s too disastrous. Instead, Mrs G and I will drive (I know – shameful) on our quest for fresh vegetables & chicken – for that is what it will be.

Other snippets of note ….

S, Z, J & C are popping round for a cuppa this afternoon. Will be nice for Mrs G to meet C, their latest addition and always good to catch up with them. S has reminded me of my quest to see “Outlaw” (2007). A truly awful Danny Dyer film (and anyone who knows anything about film will know what a Danny dyer film is). However, It does have some must see footage for me as it was largely filmed in and around Gloucester and Cheltenham. This is the only reason I want to watch it. I am still expecting it to be “bl**dy rubbish” – This is a well thought out and considered review based on what I know of it so far. I will write something more eloquent once I’ve watched it.

Very much enjoying “Sleepy Head” (see: here and here for more on that story) and plan to have both that and “Scaredy Cat” finished off by October the 10th.

Also enjoying the Ryder Cup which is taking place just down the road at Celtic Manor. With tickets at £200 a pop, I won’t be there, which is a shame as it’s so close, it would have been enjoyable, but not this time.

Mrs G will be watching the X-Factor tonight and as hard as I try not to, it’s still very much car crash TV. Still, there is something wildly enjoyable about watching it with Twitter running at the same time. That is the future of Television and Social Networking.  If Google TV gets that working properly they will clean up.

See and download the full gallery on posterous

If I was on their prod-dev team I’d be insisting on a fully manageable HD desktop environment with all the iGoogle Widgets…. including weather of course – so at least then I’d have half a clue as to how turbulent it’s likely to be before I go calling any knights in to sort-it-aaat (as Danny D would say).

Ta ra for now.


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

And a free app!! Can it get any better??
I am a good consumer. 🙂


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Can’t talk now as movement is painful. 11 and half miles doesn’t sound like far and at the time didn’t feel like far. My legs beg to differ.

Not that I’m a glutton for punishment or anything but both Mrs G and I are getting on it again today. It’s time for a replacement Wok so that will be one of today’s missions. Then there’s the Sunday papers to consider. Some sort of decision has to be arrived at vis a vis lunch. The lawn is ready for another mowing and I believe there are still some movies to catch up with that I might be able to fit in around the Grand Prix somehow. Daughter has to work and son will be watching the Grand Prix on the BBC. For the life of me I don’t understand why the FIA feed isn’t in HD. But that’s a TV rant for another post.

Haven’t really been doing much TV this week and yet the week as pissadeared in the blink of an eye it would seem. I know though that this is because I’ve had the week off, which means I’ve been having fun, which means time flies. Sad but true. I did have the foresight to take Monday off as well though, so the pain is approaching at platform 2 but I’ve got some leaves on the line which will make it ever so slightly late.

On the subject of television there is an interesting Drama coming to Sky 1 (also available in HD – and very good it looks too) called “Thorne” and starring British acting mainstay Mr David Morrisey. Sky run an ad for it every 20 minutes or so I think, but all it ever says is coming soon. Drives me nuts. All I want to do is set the Sky+ to record it and then I can get on with my life until I want to watch it. And so it was to this end that I fired a tweet at Mr Morrissey asking if he knew when he be on the telly. As is the way with Twitter I fully expected to be ignored because let’s face it, Celebs and the like are busy too.


It’s not just lying around in yachts in the sun all day you know. They don’t just waltz in and out of flash restaurants and casinos avoiding the paparazzi every waking minute. Some of them have to put the bins out….. because good staff are hard to come by.

I jest, and of course I’m not suggesting for a second that Mr Morrissey lives like that. Well, at least not ALL the time 🙂 and so it was with some delight that I received a prompt reply from him stating ‘he thinks it’s on the 10th October, but they never tell him anything’

How nice to be recognised as someone deserving of an answer and not just another of the hoard. Call me a sell-out if you like, but I’m happy to have helped Mr M with his contractual promotional activities. Probably….

In all honesty, I believe he was just being what he is. A genuinely nice bloke who’s a damn good actor and is happy to help out a fellow human being in need of an answer that he could provide. Never would have happened in the old days, and that, in a nutshell is what makes Twitter awesome.

If you’re looking for more, there’s some stuff here: http://twitter.com/davemorrissey64 and here: http://sky1.sky.com/thorne and now I’m looking there’s some nice background to be read here: http://www.hamhigh.co.uk/what-s-on/books/david_morrissey_teams_up_with_author…

While I’m Wok shopping I think I’ll keep an eye out for one of Mr Billingham’s books, after all that’s what a good consumer should do. 😉 Fun times.


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Son’s birthday went off well on Thursday as far as we know. He was out to dinner with his Dad and his Sister but he did pop round to see his Mum before hand. I suspect he was after presents, but it was nice to see him on the day. He’s with us for the weekend though and so the celebrations continue. He’s planned a bit of a lads day with his mates which he’s very much looking forward to, involving beer, rugby, pizza and clubbing.

Daughter is back to firing on all four cylinders which is good news (mostly). She’s going to try a night shift over the weekend so with that and Son’s shenanigans Mrs G and I aren’t expecting a great deal of sleep.

Got the lawn all trimmed and looking good again. As much as I would like to think that’ll be the last mowing of the year, in reality there’s plenty more growth in it yet. Autumn has barely started after all.

I’ve started the latest Terry Pratchett, entitled “I Shall Wear Midnight”. It’s a Tiffany Aching story with the Nac-Mac-Feegles set on the Chalk of Discworld.

If you have no idea what I’m blathering on about, go and get yourself a copy of “The Colour of Magic” and then possibly “The Wee Free Men”. You’ll soon get the hang of it and more than likely have a fair few chuckles on the way. It’s like Tolkien with laughs. And less unpronounceable places. Wonderful stuff.

I’m just going to throw a quick movie review in here. As promised in an earlier post, it’s for “Perrier’s Bounty” (I’ve still got “The Eiger Sanction” and “From Paris with Love” to get through yet, and I’m going to add to that list “In The Name of the Father” with Daniel Day-Lewis. So little to do and so much time! – No, strike that. Other way round – as Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka would say)

While it might sound like it’s got something to do with French spa water and coconut based chocolate bars this is actually more of a bumbling gangster movie set in contemporary Ireland. Cillian Murphy, who I’m sure you’ll recognise from “28 Days Later” or from his work on “Inception”, “Batman Begins” or “The Dark Knight” plays the lead, with excellent “Good guys” support from Jim Broadbent (Bridget Jones’ Dad) and Jodie Whittaker (“Venus”). The “Bad guys” are headed up by Brendan Gleeson (“In Bruges”)

Perrier is Brendan Gleeson’s character, who it transpires is owed some money by the down-on-his-luck Cillian Murphy. What starts off as a loan repayment, quickly becomes a bounty on the head of Cillian when things go badly at the payment collection stage. I can’t say much more about it Without spoiling the plot for you, other than to say that Jim Broadbent very nearly steals the show with his portrayal of Cillian’s Dad.

It’s a really fun piece, with a great plot and a simple storyline that kept me glued, just to find out how it was going to work out. My only concern throughout was for the health and well being of Brendan Gleeson. Perhaps he was just under the weather on this shoot, or maybe the makep or the haircut didn’t suit him, but compared to his appearance in “In Bruges (8.5/10 By the way)” he doesn’t look like a well man. That didn’t detract from a great performance though.

Overall 7/10. Fun stuff. Finally, here’s the trailer:

…..and finally finally, Friday night saw the final final of Big Brother on Channel 4. I know I’ve said this before, but it does get an unfair amount of bashing from the “I’d never watch that drivel” set. It is the absolute definition of car-crash television; as much as you don’t want to look, your morbid fascination means that you just can’t take your eyes off it. No matter what anyone says about it, it’s changed the face of British television and has been both magical and evil simultaneously. It has been THE social experiment of the naughties, but we’ve learned enough and it’s had it’s day. I can’t leave it without mentioning three things though….

Firstly “The Tree of Temptation”. This character was a fairly recent addition to Big Brother during the previous celebrity series. Voiced by the producer ‘Daniel Nettleton’ ( http://twitter.com/nettletainment ) his wit and banter with the housemates had injected a whole new life into the show and I for one will miss that. Good to know that he still has plenty of work though. You can catch him producing on the next series of “I’m a celebrity, get me out if here”.

Secondly, “the final hour” of the final Big Brother. This was one of those rare TV history moments, and what a fantastic job they did of it. In particular the long and lingering shot of Davina McPhwoar (I really should stop calling her that) leaving the limo in full mourning regalia and miserably mooching to the stage while the New Orleans funeral band played the BB theme just as if it was James Bond’s “Live and Let Die”. I loved it. It was a credit to everyone involved. You can see it here:

And finally finally finally, Davina McCall. I first saw her at the recording of a show for ITV at The London Weekend Television studios on the south bank in about 1998 (or thereabouts) with Darren Day which I think was called “Don’t try this at home”. To be fair, while she was nice to look at, she fluffed her lines a lot. But that was then…. Now, she’s beautiful and articulate 🙂 and a little bit French. What else could you want? It was a shame her chat show didn’t work out, but I have no doubt that we haven’t seen the last of her by a long way and I can only hope she’s not way from our screens for too long. Here’s to Big Mutha ( http://twitter.com/ThisIsDavina ). X

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

First things first….  Finally got round to catching up with my Google Reader feeds from the weekend.  I use “Gruml” on the Mac for this, and “NewsRack” on the iPhone and if I really have to, then just a good old browser on a PC. However, when the unread counter is over a thousand I have a new policy. “Mark All As Read” and start again.  Life’s too short and there’s too much information….

This brings me on to some interesting thoughts on the nature of human intelligence in the Internet age.

I’ve read a couple of articles recently that have talked about the way the human brain works while surfing the Internet. If I’ve understood the concepts and got it right then what I found surprising is that we use a different area of our brain when we surf compared to say, trying to solve a problem. Apparently we use our short term memory far more when ingesting new information and so these are the synapses that get fired the most when reading the wealth of material available to us.  The problems arise when we have so much of this information that we suffer a sort of short-term memory overload to the point that using your short-term storage becomes the norm.  When that happens, things aren’t committed to the longer term memory and so are forgotten altogether.  Essentially we forget to analyse in any depth the stuff we find interesting.

Now this has started some healthy debate of the dangers of surfing – ie: over utilising your short term memory in the longer term or in tabloid form: “Surfing makes you stupid” but does it?

I’d argue it doesn’t. It just changes the way you think about things.  I’m sure you’ve noticed yourself saying “I’ll just google it” and such like. This doesn’t mean you’re stupid – it just means there are easier ways to uncover bits of information than we are traditionally used to.

Let’s face it, 10 years ago if someone had said to you “Do the BBC have a clock?” what would you have done ? Other than respond with “I’ve no idea, you’ll have to ask them”.  Now, you’d google “BBC Clock” and get something like this or this. (Truly awesome).  Just because you can get the answer to (just about) anything very very quickly doesn’t make you stupid. It should actually be freeing up the areas of your brain that were being used for storing all that useless information to re-use for analysing the now enormous volumes of fresh data that we can find every moment of the day.

So, perhaps what we’re really seeing is an evolution in the way we use our brains, and as long as we keep the machines going to manage the record of human knowledge (as digitised as it is so far) then we have nothing to fear in this change.  In fact if we take it to a logical conclusion, the machines are the new library and perhaps in time, the storage will be more like this:

Interesting that a concept like this existed long before any of the tools to begin to achieve it did and that it was a man from Bromley who wrote it in a book in 1895.  More terrifying is the thought that we could actually end up as Eloi and Morlocks. The Eloi being the lazy good for nothings with no interest in the past and everything at their fingertips (Google surfers) while the Morlocks, the hardworking underground dwelling workers, maintain the systems that hold all human knowledge.  Well, it’s possible…..   If a little unlikely.  Makes for a good story though. Kudos to Mr. Wells.

But wait second….  If Mr Wells came up with in 1895, is it possible that he had actually travelled through time ?  As we all know time travel is perfectly possible and a completely natural thing for humans to do. The problem with it as we understand it today, is that it’s a one way trip only.  Like you, I spend all my time travelling into the future.  The real genius will come when one of us figures out a way to go backwards, or even forwards faster than the rest of us and while I’d romantically like to think that H.G. had made such a journey, I remain unconvinced.

There is a little sniff of evidence in the form of his self penned epitaph: “I told you so. You damned fools.” and of course he’s famed for his science fiction writing, but as yet I’ve not seen an “Invisible Man” (I wonder why?), or heard about the “War of the Worlds” or even seen “The First Men in the Moon“, “on” no problem, but not “in”. As for “The Shape of Things to Come“… other than predicting submarines and wikipedia, it looks like he missed the mark.

Still, let’s not wish our lives away – there’s far too much to do now, let alone if we were on fast-forward.  But then it’s not for me to fill up the Internet (and your RSS feed) with all this pondering. Your brain’s got enough to deal with already. Luckily, neither of us have to worry. It’s all here already: H.G.Wells’ The Time MAchine and How Stuff Works: Time Travel


References:
The Time Machine Back to the Future: 25th Anniversary Trilogy (+ Digital Copy) [Blu-ray] Hot Tub Time Machine (Unrated) [Blu-ray] The Time Traveler's Wife [Blu-ray]H.G. Wells' First Men in the Moon

Figured I should do one of those “Stuff you might have missed posts” because a) I’ve been a bit lax at posting anything at all for the last couple of days and b) There’s a whole load of “Stuff that you might have missed”….   Luckily for you, I’ve dropped all the really rubbishy bits and kept the ones that are at least half interesting.

First up…. Two (count ’em – two) Top Tens.  The first is the top ten books that all good geeks and nerds should be reading and the second is the top ten most dangerous things to do on the Internet.  I’m pretty sure you can figure out the top of list for that one, but here they are anyway.

Top 10 Books for Geeks & Nerds as provided by Geeks Are Sexy – because of course, as we all know, they are…  My favourites would be “Wikinomics” and one that’s not listed, but you can find if you look hard enough. “The Hacker Crackdown” by Bruce Sterling – one of those books I really enjoyed in my youth.

Now – The top 10 really dangerous and stupid things to do on the Internet (apart from searching for the Hacker Crackdown…. Oh… you already did that?… ooops!). Thanks to good old Gizmodo for elightening us all with this list. If you want to know how to protect yourself from these risky ventures, then you’ll have to go and read the proper article here

  • Checking the “Keep me signed in” box on public PCs
  • Failing to update Microsoft Windows OS /Java / Adobe Reader / Adobe Flash
  • Searching for celebrity gossip, incriminating material (i.e. sex tapes)
  • Using BitTorrent to download copyrighted software/film/TV shows
  • Searching for free porn
  • Online gaming (free to play, social games on Facebook and beyond)
  • Leaving Facebook privacy settings wide open, therefore exposing personal info to all
  • Connecting to unknown wireless networks
  • Using the same password for every single online account
  • Trying to get a free iPad, PlayStation 3 or similar gadgets (scams/phishing)

On to the other stuff now….   Almost certain that you missed (because it’s momentary) Tomasz Schafernaker, the BBC’s weather man “flipping the bird” to use the parlance of our times.  It’s a moment of BBC Weather history. To be fair, Simon McCoy’s patronising tone explains it if you ask me.

Net News: and we’re about to see the connection of the 5 billionth device to the Internet. I have no idea how many of the original DARPA machines are still connected (not many I suspect) and I wonder if their addressing got released back into the pool when they were switched off… anyway…  5bn is a hell of a lot, but the researchers say this is nothing and that in 10 years time, it will be more like 20bn. Fun times.
More geeky media fun now.  If you take Justin Bieber’s new single (who? -Ed)  I know, I have no idea who this 7 year old is, but apparently he’s some sort of pop sensation in the US. Anyway, if you take his current single and slow it down by 8-times, you actually get some half decent mood-music…  I giggled. I mean, who though of that ?  Of course, if you really don’t like him, you can always just switch him off altogether.

J. BIEBZ – U SMILE 800% SLOWER by Shamantis

What I find most interesting bout this is the similarity to the story about the “Inception” soundtrack and speed of playback. I don’t want to spoil the movie for you, but if you’ve seen it already, you might want to watch this. Fascinating stuff.

It just goes to show how much planning and thought goes into a really good movie.

One last social media snippet now: http://paper.li/ enables you to create a “Newspaper” (for want of a better description) based on your twitter feed. It looks at who you follow and who follows you and what they say and creates a single page with links to photo’s and videos and stories that they’ve posted about. Interesting stuff, sort of like flipboard (but not with facebook and not as flashy looking – watch the video) is on the iPad. Here’s mine for you to take a look at: http://paper.li/golfyball

And with that, the band in next door’s garage have started up, so I’m off for a fight. Luckily tomorrow see’s me on a visit to a customer location to do some far far more interesting geek ridden consultancy with a dash of architectural design. Yet again, this is something else I miss from my former life, before I became the square peg trying to fit in the round hole (See Andrew Marr, Popperian Cosmology & Me)

Fun times…

Yesterday, the Warner Brothers machine released the trailer for the Harry Potter finale ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’. This might not mean much to you, but the entire set of movies have been great fun and once again I can honestly say if you haven’t seen them, you’ve missed a treat.

What’s particularly great about them is not just the way they’ve followed young Harry from his early teens through to his early twenties (remarkably with the same actors in the key roles adding an extra layer of realism to their growing up) but the fact that it’s a British set of works with worldwide acclaim. Such a shame then, that WB decided to build “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” (that link isn’t the official site, it’s a fan site full of photos if you want to have a peek) in Orlando, Florida rather than in the UK. Although.. hold on a sec… I take that back. Thank god they built it in Florida and not in the UK. While it might seem like a good thing for the economy, it wouldn’t be that great for everything else. Kids dressed as wizards in the pouring rain queuing for hours on end – mum’s and dad’s from all over the world would be driven mental. No, stick it in Florida with the nice weather – that is, after all, not at all in keeping with the original source material, just the way Hollywood likes it.

The original books are written by J.K.Rowling, who at the time was a single mum living in a flat in Scotland (I think). She’s now one of the wealthiest people on the planet so probably can legitimately claim to be a MILIF – That’s a “Mum I’d Like To Inherit From” – steady lads…

I’m sure many of you have ready the books, but how many have read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone?  I ask, because this book does not exist in the UK. It’s the title of the US version of Philosopher’s Stone – one can only imagine that just like “The Madness of King George the third” it had to be retile because our trans-atlantic cousins hadn’t seen the first two movies – although even I am surprised that Philosopher’s Stones are not well know in the US of A. Apparently, the US publishers feared that American readers would not associate the word “philosopher” with a magical theme (although the Philosopher’s Stone is alchemy-related) – so perhaps it’s the publisher’s who aren’t well read. Such sweet irony.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Book 1) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Book 1)
Harry Potter and the
Philosopher’s Stone
Harry Potter and the
 Sorcerer’s Stone

I picked up an early copy of the US version when I was on a trip out there, and very pleased I am to have this little niche of history too. After the Stone book – whatever sort of stone it was, followed the other six novels in the series….

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Book 2) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Book 3) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Book 4)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Book 5) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7)

…and all very good they are too. I can’t say I’m a fan-boi about this stuff, but they are a very entertaining read. Not particularly aimed at adults or kids, just a good old yarn for one and all.

If you want to see the trailers for each of the films, well here’s the links, but I’ll embed the latest one just for the fans who haven’t caught it yet.

1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)
2. Harry Potter and the Chamber Of Secrets (2002)
3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

Now “Deathly Hallows” is going to be in two parts hence the title of this post. The first will be released in November this year (2010) and then the blockbusting finish to the whole shebang will be next Summer. July 2011. So here’s what you probably haven’t been waiting for – the trailer to next years movie event of the summer.

So that’s the bulk of today’s post. I’ll just pad out the end here with some of the domesticity news… Car went for it’s MOT and Service yesterday and failed on a rear brake calliper. Toyota want £400 for a new one!!! Holy Cow!! – However, thanks to Orange D’s Dad who runs the garage, looks like it might end up being more like £150 instead. He knows a man etc etc… Of course with the MOT & Service & Fitting the whole lot will probably cost me £250 – but them’s the rules and it has to be done. To be fair, the motor is 10 years old now, so it’s bound to need a little TLC occasionally. I keep considering a change, eventually I’ll make one.

Tomorrow’s Thursday and in light of the thrashing we got at the football, the WTC are all in dire need of a cheering up, so hopefully (if the weather holds out) a summer pub beer garden will help us all through the pain.

That’s your lot. Enjoy being the boy (or girl) who lived….

This is why I love living in Cheltenham (well almost). October can’t come round soon enough, for that is when we will be having the Cheltenham Film Festival. You really should check out the ad here: http://www.cheltenhamfilmfestival.co.uk/cab_driver.html

Cheltenham is well known for it’s festivals, and if you didn’t know about them, you should. As well as THE Cheltenham Festival (or the Gold Cup to the man on the omnibus) there’s also the Literary festival, the Science festival, the Music festival and the Jazz festival (presumably because Jazz isn’t music). These are all extremely well supported by some of the biggest names in each of the respective fields.

The Ultimate Dream: The Cheltenham Gold Cup (Mainstream sport)It kicks off with the Cheltenham festival around the middle of March, is attended by royalty fairly often, and about a bazzilion Irish folks who saunter across the Irish sea to spend their hard earned Euro’s. Cheltenham town goes crazy for a week and almost becomes a little part of Ireland, which includes enormous quantities of the black stuff being consumed.

The Jazz festival is next (this year it was April 28th – May 3rd) and featured such Jazz luminaries as Jamie Cullum, Elaine Paige and Paloma Faith & The Guy Barker Orchestra (No, I’d never heard of the either, but then Jazz isn’t real music – is it??)

The Pursuit [CD / DVD] [Deluxe Edition] Cinema Do You Want the Truth Or Something Beautiful

The Science festival follows on from the Jazz and you just missed it this year (June 9th-13th). Guest Director was Heston Blumenthal (Experimental Chef) and it featured the likes of Dara Ó Briain (Physicist & Comedian), Alice Roberts (anatomist, osteoarchaeologist, anthropologist, television presenter, and author) & the Rt Hon Lord Drayson (Minister of Science)

In Search of Total Perfection

Tickling the English

The Incredible Human Journey

Then in July we get more music with the Music festival (strange that) and this year that is from July 2nd to the 17th. The problem with the Music festival is the Music.  It’s all bit Radio 3 and not really to my personal taste.  That’s not to say they don’t put on a hell of good show and if you’re into classical type tunes, I’m sure you’d love it.  This year they have a group of Tibetan monks and bizarrely Werner Herzog. Those of you of a Kermodian disposition might have half an idea of who he is and how he got shot.

Finally, October rolls around and we have the Literary festival (October 8th-17th). This is my favourite alongside THE festival. This year they have confirmed festival speakers, Stephen Fry (King of Twitter), Harry Hill (TV Burp), Audrey Niffenegger (The Time Traveller’s Wife) and Philip Pullman (The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ (Myths)) for starters.

Stephen Fry in America: Fifty States and the Man Who Set Out to See Them All Harry Hill's Whopping Great Joke Book The Time Traveler's Wife The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ (Myths)

It’s always full of current authors and commentators and the individual events make for a damn good morning/afternoon/evening/night out.
October will be an interesting one this year though, because they’ve slotted the new film festival in right at the beginning of the month, just before the Literary one. There was talk of opener screenings, although that appears to have dropped of the listings at the moment.  I’m hoping it’ll be back and that Me & Mrs G will be able to sit in one of Cheltenham’s parks wrapped in a blanket with a bottle of Vino and enjoy watching the stars, under the stars.

I know that most of you have absolutely no idea who Theophilus Carter is, or I should say was, so for that reason alone, let me educate you with the answer to the most unlikely pub quiz style question you’re ever likely hear.

Mr Carter lived in Oxford somewhere around the end of the 19th century. He was the epitome of an English eccentric, a furniture dealer and an inventor. But what did he invent I hear you ask? You’ll never guess so I’ll tell. He invented an alarm clock bed, which tipped up at the required time and threw the sleeper into a tub of cold water. So bizarre was his invention that it was exhibited at the Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace in 1841. Just let me squirrel for a moment…..

The Great Exhibition was a thing to behold. Crystal Palace was built especially for it and it looked like an enormous greenhouse. At the time it was considered a bit of a folly (in much the same way as the millennium dome *has* I suspect) but it won the hearts of the nation in the end (in much the same way as the dome *will* I suspect). The exhibition ran from May to October 1851 with a whole range of different entry fee’s from a shilling (about a fiver in today’s equivalent, for the day) towards the end of the parliamentary session right up to 3 guineas (about 275 quid now – again for a single day) at their peak. It was all anyone talked about in the country for the 6 months it was open – a heady time.

There were around 13,000 exhibits in total which included….

  • The first Fax machine or copying telegraph machine as it was known.
  • Mathew Brady’s Daguerreotypes, (Photography to me and you) which won him a medal in the awards.
  • The Tempest Prognosticator, a barometer using leeches.
  • The America’s Cup yachting event began.
  • George Jennings’ first public conveniences in the Retiring Rooms of the Crystal Palace, for which he charged one penny.
  • The Koh-i-noor: the world’s biggest known diamond at the time of the Great Exhibition.
  • C.C. Hornung from Denmark showed the 1st european single-cast iron frame for a piano.
  • and lest we forget…. Alfred Charles Hobbs’s demonstration of the inadequacy of several respected locks – Thrilling stuff.

As an aside – Squirrel – I reckon there’s a great book in this that could easily become a movie. Clearly a Jewellry Heist with the theft of the Koh-i-noor, stolen by Alfred Charles Hobbs who had no trouble with the lock and hidden within C.C.Hornung’s piano for transport back to Denmark and out onto the european black market for diamonds – possibly with a yacht chase, daguerreotypes of the stolen Gem telegraph-copied backwards and forwards across the channel and a quick stop to spend a penny on the way! Magic stuff. Starring Sean Connery, Donald Sutherland and Leslie Anne Down…. or am I thinking of the First Great Train Robbery – bugger!

So back to the exhibition – A third of the population of the country visited the Great Exhibition and the £186,000 (£16 million today) profit which was surplus was used to found the Victoria & Albert museum, the Science museum and the Natural History museum, all of which thrive today and are well worth a visit if you happen to be in London. After it had all finished, the Crystal Palace itself was taken apart and moved from Hyde Park out to, what was then, Sydenham Hill. There it languished playing several different roles. During World War I it was a naval base for example. Sadly, on the evening of November the 30th, 1936 a fire broke out. Within hours the Palace was destroyed and as Winston Churchill put it at the time “This is the end of an age”. More of that can be seen at the Crystal Palace Museum which is worth a click just to look at the photo’s…..

….none of which gets us any closer to the question. So here is the gem we’ve been mining for: Theophilus Carter (erstwhile inventor and furniture dealer) was drawn by Sir John Tenniel (who was the illustrator of Lewis Carrol’s Alice stories) to represent the character of the “Mad Hatter” in Alice in Wonderland. Ta-Dah!!! – You’ll never need to know it, but now you do.

I got here because I’ve recently seen the NEW Alice in Wonderland film starring Johnny Depp in the role of the Mad Hatter. It’s a great version, I loved it, I’m not going to review it any further than that – besides – Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late! – Oh my ears and whiskers, how late it’s getting!

Toodle-pip old bean.

I should add – great result for the French last night… bye bye. But not such a great result for me this morning as BBB has flown off to Spain to “pick up his van” and I got the dubious pleasure of taking him to the airport at 4am (that’s what mates are for). Strange coincidence that the lads are just up the road from his apartment playing golf this weekend.  I’m sure he won’t be getting involved 😉

Oh and finally finally, I note from today’s Lifehacker that WordPress may be the blogging tool of best practice.  Am considering a migration….