Wednesday, June 28, 2006

"This used to be the best football pitch in Brockwell Park"

Wednesday is my middle-aged triathlon: I cycle to the park, do Tai Chi, and swim ten lengths of the pool. This morning, as I arrived at the Lido, I met a man who remembers it being built, in 1934.

As a boy he had mixed feelings, because the Lido was built on the best football pitch, - the flattest part of Brockwell Park. He changed his mind later, when mixed bathing came in - first introduced in Peckham Rye Lido, apparently - and you could see girls in their swimming costumes.

Last week I was sharing the pool with two ducks. This week it was a bit busier.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A robot horse in Islington

Sometimes this blog goes slack when there's other stuff happening elsewhere.

Here's a robot horse I met in Islington the other Saturday. There's another clip at the London Pride blog.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Heatwave's over

Hard to believe it was 30 degrees in London at the weekend, now it's colder, and wet again.

But here's one of the best bits of that weekend. Cycling to Islington was hot work on Saturday afternoon, but there was a burst water main on the Walworth Road, just before the Elephant and Castle.

What could I do but cycle right through the fountain? Bliss!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Exterminate, says the Dalek Bunny

My evil brother Davros is visiting, from his secret base hidden in the Far East. His experiments have turned his daughter's harmless toy into an evil killing machine.

I believe it could be his undoing, as I think she will never forgive him.

(actually, we just put the voice box from a Dalek cake, from my nephew's birthday, inside the bunny).

My mid-life accordion

Appropriately hazy, here's the accordion I borrowed Wednesday. Some men get a Harley or a mistress, I can't afford don't want anything like that - I'm celebrating mid-life with an accordion.

It's a 12-base, two-octave thing, which any player will tell you is only suitable for children or rank beginners.

I'd been doodling at tunes on the piano, and in my mind I "knew" I'd pick it up and be playing instantly, to the admiration of my peers, this being a mid-life thing. In reality of course, I'm fumbling and stumbling at it.

My daughters think it's cool though.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Is Bill Oddie God?

He's got a white beard and he's tetchy. He sits on a sofa somewhere, where we can't always see him, and he can look inside every nesting box. He cares about every sparrow. He can't do anything to help them, but he feels for them.

He clearly loves the earth in all its richness, and all the creatures on it. He's pained and a bit angry about global warming and what we're doing to the planet.

In last night's programme he mused very effectively on depression and how the natural world can save you from it.

No doubt about it - the more I see Springwatch, the more I'm convinced that Bill Oddie is God.

Now, more advanced theology would then imply that Simon King, out there suffering amongst God's creatures in the Orkneys, is Jesus, and that makes Kate Humble the Holy Spirit. But maybe that's pushing the analogy too far.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Another round of mutants

Surprise - I loved X-Men 3! Yes, I know, I'm bound to like superhero movies. To me Tootsie is a superhero movie, with all that secret-identity crisis stuff.

But a second sequel, from a comic I overdosed on years ago? I read way too many X-Men issues. Characters would get killed off, and come back, have yet another complete new secret origin, have yet another doomed romance. Or were they really a shape-changing spy under mind-control from Captain America's dead sidekick? Read Wikipedia's entry on Wolverine ( go on read to the end), to see what I mean.

From the start of this series, I like the way the creators have picked up the mass of X-Men stuff, given it a good shake, thrown out anything they don't like, and played with the rest, while keeping faith with the basic idea behind it all.

What they end up with has moments of sheer corn. "We'll have to close the school," says Storm - and instantly, there's a knock on the door, and another scared young mutant comes in, looking for shelter.

But there are so many other bits where it just about gets to the mythic level I always thought was there under the spandex. And they've got the God-like, human presence of Ian McKellen (a lifetime of Shakespeare and he manages to say "What have I done?" without over-acting).

On top of all that, while playing havoc with the idols, they put in enough references to the stuff comic fans want to see (the Danger Room, the Sentinels - hey, there's a guy called Trask! - and plenty more). Only the sickest, saddest comic fan would go away unhappy.

And (unlike that Wikipedia entry) you do need to wait right to the end. There's a great little moment after the credits...

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Unicorns are not related to horses

Many people think that unicorns are related to horses - that they are simply horses with a horn.

Observations in the field reveal that the two animals are quite unrelated species. Look at their hooves.

While the horse has a single hoof on each foot, the unicorn has a cloven hoof, suggesting it is more closely related to the cow. Or possibly the goat - check the beard. It's much easier to imagine a two-horned species evolving a single-horned version, than a non-horned species growing one, isn't it?

This also explains the rarity of unicorns. Unlike horses, they are vulnerable to foot-and-mouth disease, and are often believed to be extinct.

Apologies for the quality of the photos - obviously, they were taken under dangerous conditions.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Lazing on a sunny afternoon

Kitty and Mackerel making the best use of a sunny Saturday in London. We're back from a week in Cornwall, with lots of family, lots of body-boarding, horse-riding and all the rest of it.

But home is the place to be.