Showing posts from 2006

on not keeping pace with the 'village' calender

When I was having a bit of a sort out yesterday I found a flyer for 'Billifest', which must surely have been one of the events of 2006. I was packing up and finishing some coursework some 100 or so miles away at the time, and I can't believe that I missed it. What a silli billi.

For those of you who don't move in the right circles, the Christmas 'Billifest' (with French Market) apparently offered, amongst other things, Santa's Grotto, Live Bands, Christmas Carols, competitions and special offers from local shops. The most important aspect however, and probably the reason for the event was the High Street Opening Ceremony, following months of 'improvement work'*. The French Market necessitated closure of said High Street however, so it appears that one would have had to have headed to the adjacent shopping precinct to witness this momentous occasion.

Did anyone make it to the 'Billifest'? Was it as good as the flyer would have you believe…


A message is for life, not just for Christmas

famous relations

I am pleased to be able to claim that I am related to a star of the Queen's Christmas broadcast this year.

I'm not suddenly going to claim royal blood, but it is the next best thing to point out that the conductor of the choir was indeed Cousin Dave. If you saw it, and know Cousin Dave, I hope that you were suitably excited. If you saw it and don't know Cousin Dave I hope that you are now suitably impressed. If you didn't see it, you missed out, but thanks to the wonders of modern technology you can just follow the link above.

Of course, I think that the speech itself is worth a listen. I'm a fan of the Queen and once again I feel that she definitely had some wise words to say.

On the Eve of the Feast of the Holy Nativity 2006

The presents are wrapped. I've just hung up my cards* and decorated my room with some paper chains. Dinner is cooking and I am looking forward to an evening with the family before nipping to church for the Midnight Communion. I might need a whisky beforehand, but I am looking forward to croaking away in the choir (as a bass - my voice has at least regained a shred of masculinity in the last couple of days).

*as I get older and people pair off, I can't decide whether I am a fan of the joint Christmas card or not. Do the advantages of having to write less cards outweigh the disadvantages of receiving less cards? Not, I feel, a terribly important conundrum. If you sent me a card, thank-you, I really appreciate it. If you were expecting a card from me and didn't get one, I'm sorry.

Anyhow, I digress. All that remains is to wish you a very Happy Christmas.
God so loved the world that he sent his only Son
-John 3:16

Give it some thought, folks. Behind the gifts, the celeb…

Boys Toys

I was fortunate this morning to have a meeting at a company responsible for making aircraft simulators. I had a fascinating time learning about the capabilities of the simulators, the techniques used to design and build them, and the production and certification process.

Oh, and I got to land an Airbus A380. Bring it on.

Christmas in The Capital

Christmas 2006
Originally uploaded by JP1984.Trafalgar Square with its Christmas Tree, Regent Street with its lights (the 'must-do' classics). The Millenium Bridge and the London night-time skyline (awesome scenes). Evensong at Southwark. Dinner for two in a Soho Bistro (definitely heterosexual, in case you were asking). Leicester Square. Banter. Hot drinks at the station (JP now recommends the Chai Latte).

Christmas wouldn't be complete without a visit to our capital city, and 2006, fortunately, was no exception. I was worried, given my state this week, that I wasn't going to make it, but despite being not-with-it and feeling a bit down on the train on the way in I did (a good cuppa works wonders). And I had an excellent, really enjoyable evening.

It was a really enjoyable evening, and yet the sound-track to my journey home was once again left to Snow Patrol, and Supertramp, whilst I contemplated the fact that the bloke opposite looked like someone I once knew. I t…


...The Hooded Man.

Today's musical reference bears no resemblence to what I am about to say, but should you have nothing else to say about this post you can name the artist anyway, in the usual fashion. Come to think about it, I know nothing about said artist, so if anyone has anything useful or interesting to say then that would be great.

Anyway, I'm currently kicking back, enjoying a glass of wine and reflecting on the past few days. It's been a strange week; I've had very little voice and whatever it was that knocked me back last week has left me lethargic and lacking energy. Disappointingly, my voice has not even gone sexy and possesses no deep or husky tones. 'Prepubescent' was how my friend helpfully described it yesterday. Score.

I've not even had the voice for my usual musical interludes - there's been no "suscipe" and no random repeated snippets from songs or jingles. Alas (he says, knowing that some of you will not share my sorrow…

home, but exhausted

I feel as though I now very definitely know what the phrase "burnt out" means. I am so exhausted that it is debilitating.

Overtiredness at the beginning of the week gave way to a high temperature on Thursday and I was confined to bed for a large part of the day (and I don't admit defeat easily).

I have since floated vaguely through the last 48 hours, and am pleased that somehow I did manage to complete my coursework. I am also indebted hugely to my little brother who helped me move a lot of my things out and drove me home last night.

It's great to be home, if a little weird having been away for two months. Given that I have unexpectedly had to find somewhere else to live in Bath as well, I feel like some sort of nomad.

I am currently bemoaning the fact that I have lost my voice completely and am unable to sing with the choir in the carol service at church later. Gutting. I was really very much looking forward to it and I am really annoyed that I've let myself end…

Addendum to the Addendum

I have now remembered why the girl on the station platform saw my wallet (as the actress said to the Bishop).

She wanted to see my ticket (which was in my wallet) to check something because the details on her ticket didn't match up with what was displaying on the departure boards. Of course, she found quite quickly that my ticket didn't tell her anything bar where I was travelling from and to. I did see her ticket though, which was one of the advanced ones and was able to point out that she'd bought a ticket for the day before. Gimp.

Addendum (II)

I think I spent too long today being in a tired daze. It's funny how silly insignificant things can dominate my thought process, whilst other things just float on by.

The people in church behind me tonight were drunk. One of them even answered his phone during the prayers. I was having another bout of said tired daze by then and concentrating on praying was hard enough as it was without their antics.

I already feel the need to do another Sunday lunch in Oxford's finest establishment. Any takers?


When I was on the train earlier expressing my contentedness I forgot to mention that I was also in possession of a quiche. I wasn't eating said quiche but I thought that as a travelling accessory it was worth a mention. Of course ultimately it had more purpose than a travelling accessory as we had a buffet meal at church tonight and I figured that for my contribution there was no harm in sticking to that classic Christian cliche.

I also met some bird at Didcot station and for some unknown and unfathomable reason(s) I fleetingly flashed my wallet (and thus the Provisional License therin) at her in the course of the conversation. I hope that she was suitably embarrassed when her snide "oh you've not finished learning to drive yet" was met with my curt "I would if I didn't have an eyesight issue preventing me from doing so".

"io, io, io, by priest and people sungen"

Last night the Bath University Chamber Choir had the privilege of singing at Bowood House for a charity concert in aid of Headway. Like any stately home, Bowood House is impressive. I loved the busts of famous people and the beautiful paintings which dominated the hallway, and whilst it was still light the view from the front was quite something. One could not see any other sign of human habitation from one's window.The concert itself seemed to go well. Punctuated by readings and poetry (making me feel very cultured) we sang a suitably festive set, including a couple of great carols for which the audience joined in. The acoustics in the chapel were excellent - a world away from the very dead Arts Barn we rehearse in, and without wishing to blow my own trumpet (so to speak) it really made me realise just how good the choir can sound.Concert dress includes a hood if applicable, and I discovered to my delight that said hood being very furry resulted in a queue of people (mainly …

Political Splurge

Left wing readers might find this post pleasantly surprising. The rest of you probably need not worry too much however, I'm not losing the plot completely.Once again, David Cameron has failed to impress. Well, almost. The fact that he is ex-Brasenose and leader of the Tory party and still fails to be in my good books is in itself quite impressive.I know this is probably old news but my complaint centres around the Tory party video campaigns. The BBC Breakfast newsreader was right when she told Mr Cameron that some people find the term 'tosser' offensive, and although I've not bothered watching the whole video it seems a bit pointless given the current lack of Tory party policy on anything much. Coupled with the fact that the new logo apparently cost a whopping 40 grand, one wonders who the tossers really are.That would be scathing enough without the revelation that I went to hear Paddy Ashdown speak and thought he was excellent. To be fair my expectations were q…

Being Reflective

I am currently sat on a train, feeling contented having consumed a delicious hot apple drink and reflecting on an excellent day in Oxford.I am exhausted beyond belief but it was so good to take a break. Oxford at this time of year is very pleasant and I enjoyed a wonderful lunch of Cumberland Sausages, followed by Sticky Toffee Pudding and washed down by Mulled Wine, all in the atmospheric surroundings of The Turf, sat outside with the warm braziers. And all in the presence of top quality company, of course.I've not blogged for a while - I've had a lot going on, and a lot to deal with - but in true JP tradition I am going to use my time on the train productively. Prepare for the usual splurge of posts as I collect my thoughts.

I miss OLIS

I'm annoyed with the Bath University Library. Firstly they don't send reminder emails just before a book is due, though they clearly have the facility to do so because the moment my book became overdue I got a terse automated email from them informing me of that fact.

So I went in this morning to see if I could renew it and pay the fine. Unfortunately because I didn't have the book with me the librarian was unable to check my record and see if I was able to renew it. So I've now had to go online and sort it out myself.

There is no logical reason for this inefficiency.

Oxford's Library system may have done without a graphical interface, but at least it did its job efficiently.

Happy are the people whose God is the Lord

Last night I went to hear London Community Gospel Choir, supported by Bath Community Gospel Choir and the University GASP Choir at The Forum.

I have some friends who sing in GASP and they were amazing. The two Bath choirs combined on stage made a huge sound.

London City Gospel Choir were great as well. Led by the Revd. Bazil Meade (legend) they performed a long set and at times virtually all of the audience (~1500 people) were on their feet throwing some Gospel shapes.

"I find it kind of funny, I find it kind of sad..."

I've heard three ludicrous things recently which, if true, make me wonder about the sanity and the priorities of some of those in authority.

1) One of the reasons that the RNLI doesn't qualify for huge amounts of lottery funding is to do with the fact that as an organisation it doesn't deal with enough ethnic minorities.

Whoever is responsible for allocating the funding presumably thinks that if the person drowning is not white then lifeboat crews turn around without picking them up. Or maybe it's to do with the fact that the proportion of people from ethnic minorities who volunteer for the RNLI is too low. This, I would imagine, is largely because there is a low proportion of people from ethnic minorities living in some coastal areas. I wonder how the one such family living in one such village feels about the implication that by not volunteering for the lifeboat station they've ruined the statistics and denied the RNLI funding.

2) Scottish Universities don't…

Time for some more perspective

I see that University Christian Unions have made an appearance in the media in recent days, for reasons largely centred around exclusivity and the attitude of the Univeristy Student Unions.

The Cartoon Church contains some interesting comment on the matter, and thie article in The Times is well worth a read.

I particularly like this paragraph:

'It is bad enough that university students are anxious to censor others and deny them access to proper debate. That is to undermine the very nature of a university, a place where people can think and discuss the unthinkable.

What is worse is that the repression of Christian groups is the height of hypocrisy. For the most unacceptable of what many Christian students believe is pretty much what many Muslims believe, only Muslims go much further. There are plenty of Muslim students, not least among the activists that so alarm the government that it is asking university authorities to spy on them, who believe not just that homosexuality is an abomin…

Infamous in my home town

Originally uploaded by JP1984.
Thanks to Davey for unearthing this in the Newbury Weekly News

Mandriva Nil Ubuntu 1

Here's one for all you geeks out there.

I wanted to log-in remotely to the Linux computers in the office, and decided that I would try the Mandriva Linux Live CD which came with a computer magazine.

In one sense, it did exactly as it said on the tin - it ran Linux without any installation. However it would not use my wireless card (the files needed were not included in the free version, something which I think goes against the grain of OpenSource software). I could download them, but having found a wired network connection I was unable to save the files (it hadn't mounted my hard-disk).

I then tried installing the distribution, but having partitioned my hard-disk and made a fuss of copying files across it installed nothing in the way of a bootloader. So there was no way of actually running my shiny new Linux.

I then decided to download Ubuntu. Not only did it run successfully from the CD, identifying my wireless card and all, but when I opted to install it it turned out to be…

For once I want to be the car crash

...not always just the traffic jam.

After a largely pointless non-story, I feel the need to follow up the last post by talking about my day yesterday. It was great.

After a short but sweet visit to the East End I went to meet another friend in the centre of England's greatest city. We visited a mutual friend in Waterstones and didn't understand what epicurious* meant. We headed to the Strand, via Whitehall and the legendary Horseguard in search of a Starbucks** and what turned out to be a rather good Gingerbread Latte. We went to South Bank, and enjoyed the stunning views of the London skyline, the clear sky and the autumn colours. We saw a stack of unbelievably cheesy (and overpriced) postcards, some lads drumming effectively on some upturned buckets and baulked at the queue for the slides in the Tate Modern (another time, methinks...). We saw Southwark Cathedral and passed the London Dungeon. We had lunch by the river and bought some random fruit*** in the Borough Mark…

(signal) Failure

It was all going so well. I'd arrived in Paddington (my favourite gateway to London) on time. Despite some confusing signs, I'd not taken long to get the Hammersmith & City line, and I didn't have to wait long for a train.

Although the train terminated at Whitechapel, this was perfect. Coincidentally, my friends from Bath who were attempting to break the record for visiting all of the Underground stations in the fastest time were also headed for Whitechapel. I was on course not only to be on time to visit my friends in the East End, but also to say hi to the attempted record breakers as well. As I passed through Farringdon, a text from the guys from Bath confirmed that our paths would indeed cross...and then the train ground to a halt.

Eventually, citing "signal failure" the train was terminated at Moorgate. Nothing was heading east and I had to head to the Northern line and change. The platform was rammed and as I waited seven whole minutes for my tra…

The best things always come in pairs

Forming an inadvertant trend, I am once again pleased to be able to treat you to two posts in one day.

I was reading the Metro on the bus this morning, and was amused by the article about the unemployed bloke who, having already fathered 15 children has two more on the way. Apparently he has just got both his wife and his girlfriend pregnant and is "annoyed with himself" for this. Charming.

Bizarrely he is said to live with both women. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't have thought that "unemplyed" and "father of 15" are the things which appeal most to women, and yet this guy seems to be holding down not one, but two relationships, and under the same roof at that.

Which poultry or waterfowl are you?

Someone has turned up in our office with a poster of Poultry and Waterfowl. Apparently if I had to be one of the birds on the poster I would be the "Old English Gamefowl". I am not displeased with that decision.

Since living in Bath I have noticed a large number of Nissan Figaros about the place. I was under the impression that this cult Japanese import was quite rare, so it must be that everyone who has bought one lives in BaNES. Maybe it's got something to do with the fact that Danny Wallace, who comes from Bath, bought one accidentally once (read his book Yes Man, it's great). Talking of cars-which in case you thought I was talking about kettles or something, I am-I've also noticed a large number of classic VW Campervans about the place. I want one, despite the fact that I can't drive, and will accept applications from those who wish to chauffeur me around in one. As a word of warning, although I think the campervan is cool, the topless guy I saw dri…

In Other Britain's Green And Pleasant Land

I am currently filling in a form, and it has one of these irritating 'ethnic origin' sections.

Under "white" I can be Scottish, Welsh, Irish, Other British or Other White Background.


"The world is full of fools, take wisdom to the wise"

Look at this - two posts in one day. Cashback!

I've seen lots of strange people in the last 24hours, this time beyond the boundaries of the Maths Department.

Firstly I was in 'Spoons last night enjoying a much needed drink, and the table we occupied was adjacent to one populated entirely by people dressed up as Smurfs. They'd painted their skin blue and everything. I think that perhaps our table was previously unoccupied for a reason.

Then, this morning I needed some bread and decided to sample the produce of my local baker. As I was leaving, warm fresh loaf in hand, I was passed by a guy who went "oooh bread" in a really high-pitched voice.

I didn't pay him enough attention to work out if he was the same guy that I passed later on along the river. This time the strange voice was mocking another bloke who was walking on the concrete blocks right on the very edge of the bank. To be fair, he had a point...

Finally, as I arrived on campus I found that it was…

Let's talk about trains and people from Kazakhstan

I've not blogged for a while - blame the intense nature of my course. It's not funny when having been one of those in the office beyond midnight finishing one assignment the next one is handed out without prior warning the following day. C'est la Vie, I guess. At least I enjoy what I do, although it would be nice if there was more to my life than maths.

Anyway, I promised you trains and people from Kazakhstan, so without further ado let's move on to my first railway rant since I've been in Bath. When I was in Oxford, a return to London was about £12, and a return to Bath was £7. So why is it that to go directly from Bath to London (and back) costs 50% more than Bath - Oxford - Oxford - London (and back)? Whatever the Department for Transport says, there is no logic or consistency to that whatsoever, and I am left mourning the fact that I currently can't justifably afford £30 to visit London. Grrrrrrrr.

Moving on, there are no prizes for guessing that I migh…

Bath, Baby!

Since the beginning of this week I've come across some very odd people wandering the corridors of the Maths department. (Don't make some wise-crack about all mathmos being odd, and let me instead get on with telling my story).

Firstly there was the short guy with curly hair, big glasses and a handle-bar moustache. I think he might have been foreign, though he may just have a habit of looking bemused when someone holds a door open for him.

Then there was the bloke who looked just like Mini-Me from Austin Powers - I kid you not.

Alongside him the bloke in the bright purple jumper looked somewhat normal, so we'll gloss over him and move on to my final "character" of the week, who was tall, bald and had the coldest, hardest stare I've come across for a while. I could almost feel myself shrinking up against the wall as he passed. He was probably one of the invading Russians, and I thought it best not to mess with him.

Today is Weird Hat Wednesday, and I am loving …

Road to Rouen (Track 7)

I was in the queue for the cashpoint behind "Hugo" yesterday. I don't think he knew who I was, though I know it was him because he had his name written across the back of his top. I learned that he was behind some bulk emails I have been receiving, which perhaps takes the mickey a little (but not as much as the fact that learning about "Dave" cost a phenomenal £7).

Let's have some perspective, people

It's been a while since I've felt the need to foray in to the world of politics, but the drought has now ended.

I was reading this article on the BBC News Page and learned that according to the Liberal Democrat MP Dr Evan Harris,

"Criminalising flag-burning would be an unacceptable restriction of freedom of expression".

I assume that Dr Harris, who obviously cares about freedom of expression, belongs to the same Liberal Democrat party who made these comments for The Telegraph recently:

"Last night the Liberal Democrats called for Miss Kelly, who is also in charge of Government policy on promoting equality, to resign on the grounds that her personal beliefs are incompatible with advancing gay rights."

The word "inconsistent" springs to mind.

I might not be David Cameron's biggest fan, but I still fail to see why on earth anyone would vote for the Lib Dems*. And let's face it, the comments about Ruth Kelly are neither "Liberal" nor &quo…

They say it's all part of the fun

The ill-timed arrival of "Gregor" was far less disastrous than it could have been and there were no other mishaps to speak of. But then "Hugo" got mentioned and by the end no-one was any the wiser about whether not the curtains do actually match the sofa.

I am however very much indebted to my non-gay gay best friend.

JP's Cake Corner

A cursory glance at the recent stats for this blog have revealed that several people have arrived in thie corner of the Blogosphere after searching for 'JP's Cake Corner'. I think they probably went away disappointed, but does anyone know who this other JP is, and where he keeps his cakes?

I was also pleased to note that someone arrived here by searching for "he's got a dream about buying some land". Bring on the Shetland banter (and sorry for the in-joke).


It's been a bit quiet in this part of the Blogosphere recently - the heavy workload required for my MSc is taking its toll, though I am still enjoying it.

Last weekend I was back in Oxford for my graduation, and I had a wonderful time. The ceremony was great, and full of the usual Oxford eccentricities.

For a start, it was all in Latin, with the exception of an introductory speech - explaining why the ceremony was in Latin. Even the Colleges were referred to by their Latin names. The degrees were presented in order from 'Doctor of Medicine' through to DPhil, Masters and BA and between each list of names we were treated to the 'Proctor's Walk'. This was not as exciting as it sounds , and consisted only of the proctors doffing their mortar boards and walking from one end of the Sheldonian Theatre to the other and back again. Apparently it provides an opportunity for people to voice their objections about someone being presented for a degree.

I really quite like…


There has been a lot of talk recently about respecting confidentiality and not saying anything in the blogosphere you may later regret. Sometimes you just have to keep schtum.

In light of my opening gambit I shall have to avoid some of the events of the last week, but suffice to say it's had its moments. Fear not however, I have enough ramblings which are suitable for general consumption to be going on with.

Sam's Town, the new Killers album has so far not disappointed. As a random observation however I am still perplexed as to why my Friends' DVD Box set fitted through my letter box and the Sam's Town CD (both from HMV) did not. Fortunately the Post Office from which I could collect it is only a little way off my route in to uni.

I am starting to settle in to my course now, and although there is a
lot of work I am really enjoying it. My coursework is especially
enjoyable, though it is taking up a lot of time and I fear that I am
just sweeping my other modules under the…

October 17th

For the benefit of

For me October 17th 2006 started at 7.30am when I awoke in a daze wondering who was ringing me at that time; but I then remembered that my phone is also my alarm clock and that was a more plausible reason for it vibrating on my bedside table. (Just to clear up any worries, my alarm does not make the same noise as my ring tone. However, I have no excuse for taking a while to notice this).

I didn't have time to mourn the fact that no-one was ringing me after all as it all came flooding back to me that I had planned to have a leisurely breakfast in front of the TV. My plan was foiled however when I realised that there was no milk. Bummer. Never one to be defeated though I headed off to my local convenience store, with a view to rectifying this problem.

Besides milk, I also purchased some apples and some bananas and some gum. Oh and I had decided that I fancied some eggs, so I carefully selected a free-range box, paying careful atten…

The Russians are Invading

The Mathematics Department here seems to have a reasonable quota of Russian lecturers, one of whom teaches me in two modules. I was amused to note that when he was abroad his lectures were taken in each case by a "good friend and colleague" who was also Russian.

The lecturer in question is it has to be said something of a legend, with his sense of humour, and comedy accent. What really amused me last week however was an email he sent around - it turns out he writes like he speaks.

I quote:

"[please attempt] Questions 1-4 of the Sheet 1. (If you've missed a shit a few more copies are in my doorfolder, 1W 3.18)."

So there you have it. Mathematics tuition and relief from constipation all in one.


I've not blogged from my phone for ages, but now I feel compelled to. I've been stuck on this bus in the same spot for 10mins now because of some inconsiderate bloke who's badly parked his van. We can't go forwards, or backwards. Van man did eventually return to his van but has so far proven inept at getting out of the way.Time to get in to uni this morning (including, it has to be said, a pleasant stroll along the canal): 45mins & counting.Defined by user

Mmm Metro

I'm not yet coming close to liking the bus, and I had to wait for ages this morning as lots of full buses sailed past my stop (well, if they will use the world's smallest buses at peak time).

Nevertheless I did get to enjoy my free copy of the Metro. I learned today that the male Bridget Jones is a growing phenomenon, with lot's of guys wanting to find that special 'one for them' and no longer having the stereotypical fear of commitment. Fortunately though they manage all this without the need for big pants.

I also learned about the World Pea Throwing Championships - apparently the winner threw a pea 24.6m at the event in an East Sussex pub garden. And to think I missed it...

Lounging in the Waldorf

Last night I went to see the Bath University Musicals Society production of Ain't Misbehaving, and it was awesome. It was performed to a very high standard indeed, and I really very much enjoyed it.

Incidentally, the abbreviation of the society (BUSMS) sits well with that of Bath University Student Theatre (BUST) and juvenile though it may be, it did make me smile.

Semi-Loose Collectives (and other things)

In reading this article I was intrigued by the use of the term "Semi-Loose Collective". Does it mean what I think it does?

Yesterday I found myself unimpressed with David Cameron, and agreeing with Jack Straw (don't worry, I still chose to buy the Telegraph rather than the Guardian this morning). I think what Mr Straw said about women wearing veils is a fair point and I should probably get around to airing my views on the subject. In light of an article on Newsnight about troubles surrounding a dairy in Windsor run by a Muslim, the whole issue of Islam and relating to Muslims is fast becoming a hot topic.

Each to their own, I guess

I met someone last night who wants to install a DVD player and screens in the back of the headrests in his car. Not for the back seat passengers (if indeed there are any) but "because it looks good when the car is parked."

Meanwhile, further to yesterday's post I skimmed this this morning, and thought it made for interesting reading.

Boris: What a legend

I love having a proper sofa in a proper living room on which to chill out and watch a proper TV and last night I caught the end of Newsnight. Aside from the worry that it makes me feel old (maybe "mature" would be better) I really enjoyed it.

The article about the Conservative Party Conference was interesting. There is a lot of fuss about the "A-list" and having candidates who are representative of society, yet I worry that it is more political correctness gone mad. I thought a good point was made by Jacob Rees-Mogg about not discriminating against Oxbridge candidates - if as is claimed Oxford and Cambridge do attract some of the brightest minds in the country then this should be an asset, not a hindrance. After all, we are talking about people to govern the country and make important decisions.
One of the "A-list" candidates interviewed talked about the need for candidates to empathise with their consitutents and gave the example that some people just…

"True to form where you and bikes are concerned"

My title today reflects my friend Harry's reaction to my latest disaster -
half of my bike-lock key remains in the lock leaving me in the unenviable
position of working out how to steal my own bike. Fortunately I was
visiting friends and the bike was not locked to anything fixed, but it is
still a big and quite depressing problem. That aside however, life is good. I am starting to really like Bath. I
like the fact that I have a desk and computer in the MSc room. I like the
fact that the CU is lively and ecumenical. I like the 50m swimming pool on
campus, which is free for students. I like the way people put washing up
liquid in the fountain in Great Pulteney Street making it go all foamy.I don't like the buses (and cannot therefore understand Mugford's love of
them) but I am slowly getting used to them. Slowly being the operative
word.I still miss poncing around in a gown.

Musings from Bath

So. I'm here. I've moved in, and although starting in a new place has its ups and downs I am actually quite enjoying it.In some ways it is only now that it has hit me how much I miss Oxford and how much I took for granted, but life would be dull if it remained static. Life without formal hall and poncing around in a gown will take some getting used to, as will the fact that 10 minutes walk is no longer a long way. Some things on the other hand I will get used to too easily. Like the dishwasher, the proper kitchen and the TV. Nice. Bath, like another great city I could name, is not short on hills. I might attempt to join the few who cycle on occasion but in the last couple of days I've had the joy of sussing out the buses. I hate buses, but some things I might just have to get used to. It could be easier said than done though - I found out to my cost yesterday that the X39 express bus stops at the number 14 stop I walked passed and then sailed past the number 14 …

wishing that a week had 8 days

I've had a lot to say recently. I have opinions on a lot of things.

I was going to write about the Pope and his comments, about Richard Hammond and why I think that any suggestion of removing Top Gear is proposterous, and how actually I did not go to an HMC school.

However aside from using my time instead to see good friends and prepare for my move tomorrow I have been crippled by my eyesight. Those of you who know me (or who have read my profile) know that I suffer from nystagmus, and for various reasons it is currently causing me problems. I have however been referred to a specialist, which is good news.

Excuses, schmooses, but I'll be back. Maybe not for breakfast but smoke me another kipper if you feel like it anyway.

In Search of the Stig

Originally uploaded by JP1984.
Ladies and Gentlemen, what you see here is part of the famous BBC Top Gear Track.

Being in the vicinity of the airfield on which Top Gear is filmed, Sam and I decided to spend our Sunday afternoon having a bit of a butchers.

There was - unsurprisingly - not a lot to be seen and there was a high level of security in place around the perimeter. At one point we were following a footpath, which was suddenly blocked by an impassable and unmarked gate. Remaining convinced that the path should have continued straight on we resorted to the only available option of turning right . However 100yds on we were bought to an abrupt halt by the resident of a massive house whose land were were evidently on. After concluding that we were ramblers (obviously she didn't see Sam's flip-flops) she escorted us back to the gate and let us through, pointing us in the direction of the path.

The gate is apparently across the path to alleviate a problem she has …

Long Lunch

I had a quality day today - I cycled to meet a good friend about half way
between mine and his. I feel quite good after the 17 mile round trip,
though the pie, chips and beer for lunch probably negated some of the
effects.The pub in which we ate and drank was quite funny. At first glance it
appeared closed, but I did find an open door. The landlady and someone's
granny seemed initially to be the only people inside but once my friend arrived
a couple of cars had appeared in the car park and it developed an element of
life.The food was delicious (mmmm homemade steak and kidney pie) but I was rather
perturbed to find that they closed the hatch to the kitchen the moment we
placed our order. I'm not dead or ill though, so it could just have been
coincidence.About half-way through an older guy took over running the place.
Sporadically he would come and clear something from the table, saying "I'm
not trying to rush you" before eventually telling us that the pub was now
shut and …

I'm looking nice, my shadow's looking nice...

Mmmm new look. I think I'll play around with the new features of Blogger as time progresses...

The way life should be

Last night Sam very kindly took me out for dinner at the East India Club in London. It was the sort of place where someone even puts your napkin on for you. The food was delicious (I would say 'lush' but I am informed that it is not a classy enough superlative for this occasion), and I enjoyed every minute of it. Little brothers do grow up to have their uses after all.

I'm thinking of upgrading to the new version of Blogspot with its new features.

Time for some controversial debate

Some of you may remember that a while back, in one of my posts, I was somewhat cynical about the new Civil Partnership act.

Far from being 'gay marriage' in everything but name, this act was supposed to bring equality for all. I argued that if this truly was the case then steps should also be taken to improve the situation for other people for whom 'marriage' would be inappropriate; siblings who live together, for example.

I was shot down, but upon viewing this video on the BBC News Page, I developed the smug feeling that I might have been right after all. (If you are unable to view the video, it concerns two sisters who share a house. Even under the Civil Partnerships act if one of them dies the other will be forced to sell up and move to pay the inheritance tax).

It seems that the campaigners for the Act were wrong. It didn't bring 'equality for all', did it?

Social Stigma

Sam tells me that listening to Virgin Radio makes me "lower middle class".

Note how I didn't even credit him with a link to his blog.

The Coral (Track 4)

Just so that there is no confusion, I should like to state two things,

1) I am not a fan of The Mirror
2) Eddie Izzard would not be my first choice of person to give me relationship advice, should I want it.

However, when I was on a train recently (all the best stories start that way) I picked up a Mirror supplement and read this article. I thought that it was rather interesting; perhaps because I found to my surprise that I identified well with a lot of what he said.

His point about finding it easier to get over someone if one decides to hate them is an interesting one. I guess most people (myself included) can empathise well with that, but at the same time it doesn't seem right. It certainly doesn't sit well with the Christian ethos of forgiveness, which thinking about it logically is a far better option, however hard it can seem.

The second point of his which I liked doesn't really need any expansion.

"All the girls at school liked the boys who didn't pay them …

Wasn't Enzo a character in Sesame Street?

I saw a Ferrari Enzo on the road on Wednesday. Yes, actually being driven on the public road (the A272 to be precise).

Unfortunately, it was yellow.

I think it was Jeremy Clarkson who once said "never go to bed with someone who has a yellow car. Anyone who went in to a showroom and from the vast array of colours available chose yellow is clearly not normal and should be given a wide berth".

I'm not sure how wide a berth I should have given someone who could probably have afforded an entire street of houses with the money they blew on this particular yellow car but as they were going the other way I didn't have much time to ponder it.

Now I am back in civilisation I can now get around to responding to the comments on the last post. Or at least I will eventually once I have done the other things I need to do now. Watch this space.

I'm in the Zone today

Well actually I'm in West Wales. I'm not even sure where "the Zone" is but the title today is a quote from Monsters Inc which I watched last night (and enjoyed very much).I've been rubbish at updating this blog recently, but hey it's August. Everyone's away and not much goes on anyway.Earlier in the week I went househunting in Bath which was an experience. I saw a couple of houses and met some good people, but so far I've not got a definite place of residence for next year (though it's not without hope). Being new to Bath I don't yet know anybody, so it's all about meeting the people I might be living with as well. Placing an ad on the university forum and receiving various responses is worryingly reminiscent of how I imagine internet dating might work. The whole experience just lacks candlelit dinners though.Whilst I was in Bath I also saw the most pregnant looking man I have ever seen and passed another guy whose response to my ch…

Some People (the world is full of them...)

Sam was driving me home last night when we came up behind a jester in a Porsche. He was one of these really annoying drivers who was inconsistent with speed, and quite slow, yet not quite slow enough to justify overtaking. Frustrated with the sporadic and unnecessary slowing down, Sam lined himself up to overtake on a short stretch of dual carriageway...and Mr Porsche put his foot down. We were (alas) not in a Porsche and it was not possible to safely overtake. Then at the end of the dual carriageway Mr Porsche braked and slowed down again.

Clearly the car was a substitute for something - he didn't have the guts or the ability to drive it well, and he evidently felt that being overtaken was not something he could cope with. Ironically however his behaviour just proved that he was small (minded) and rather than being impressed I would like to publically laugh at him for being such a gimp and evidently having more money than sense.

When you have finished joining me in mocking …

God Slot

Dave commented this week and seemed to think that it was a bit ironic for me to go to Rome and seek God. Well, fortunately for him I did not go to Rome in order to seek God. I went to Rome to sing with my college choir.

But come to think of it, I find it quite sad that 'seeking God' was not a big feature of some of my visits to Rome's many churches. In fact, I would go so far to say that St Peter's angered me somewhat. This is the centre piece of the Roman Catholic church, and yet rather than focussing on God the statues of the Popes seem to be more important. Rather than being welcomed I felt that I was ushered round aggressively. Rather than encouraging an atmosphere of reverence and worship, camera flashes and talking seem to be acceptable during the services. And rather than taking the opportunity to preach the Christian message in all it's simplicity it was acceptable - encouraged even - to queue and rub the feet of a bronze statue of Peter. Idolatory a…

Circus Mondao

I've noticed that several people have found this blog recently by searching for Circus Mondao. I think therefore that it deserves its own post - after all there is a lot to say.

Circus Mondao is a comedy name in itself, and we knew things would be bad when we saw the name of the venue (Cookies Car Boot Field) and the advertising lorries. Handpainted, they really did claim to have good 'press revues'. However on the basis that a) it looks so bad that it must be funny and b) a huge discount was wangled with ease (being ripped off became less of a concern) we took the kids anyway.

The big top was tiny, and the ringside seats we had bartered for were - I kid you not - plastic garden chairs. Some people would have paid £16 for the privilege of sitting in them rather than on some rickety looking wooden 'stalls'. Suckers.

The artists as it turned out were the same (badly) facepainted people who tried to sell us hamburgers, candy floss and 'circus novelties' ince…

No More Gannets

Gannets is the name of the end of the day team meeting at the camp I helped out on last week. So called because after the necessary business and prayer time is over we can descend (like gannets) on the food available in the cookhouse. Mmm.

There will be no more gannets this year, not because there were some unwashed mugs left over this morning but because camp finished yesterday.

I arrived back in civilisation yesterday evening and was glad of a proper bed to sleep in. However I did have the most amazing time on camp, and I found it really rewarding.

I enjoyed taking part in all kinds of activities from Outdoor Pursuits (mmm Zip Wire) to swimming to playing chess (against some really talented people).

The spiritual programme worked well and I think that both the team and the campers got a lot out of it. For the kids, it gave them the chance in a low key way to learn about the basics of Christianity, and if they had a faith, to develop it. God was clearly at work throughout the week,…

Revue of the day

This morning I enjoyed the hot sunshine, strolled in to town for a cafe latte and had the most amazing ice-cream. I may as well have still been in Italy, but a glance at the numerous chip shops and a realisation that cars actually stop at pedestrian crossings put paid to that illusion.In this weather, Norfolk is not without it's charms. Aside from getting to walk back from town along the beach, I also enjoyed seeing a steam train and buying some delicious fudge. Mmm.This afternoon I enjoyed a trip to Circus Mondao. My first circus experience didn't fail to amuse me, but for all the wrong reasons. Despite claiming "excellent press revues" and having some pygmy goats, I was not overly surprised to find that it lacked popularity. I did however very much enjoy it, and the 'never a dull moment' ethos continues to hold true.Defined by user

Never a dull moment

The afternoon started on an exciting note as it was, when I went in to town and bought myself a dress. I then went with a man who wants to earn a place in the Guinness Book of Records by getting the least votes in a General Election to 'collect some weeds as decoration for our Narnia themed party'. Said 'weeds' were 10ft tall ("tree" is a more appropriate term) and we had to ride home in the trailer to ensure that they didn't fall out.:)Defined by user

Give Thanks with a grateful heart

On Sunday in Rome my lovely wife and I fancied some Anglican banter and set off early for the English church.The said traditional service was not overly exciting, but the sermon was quite thought provoking. Starting from the feeding of the 5000 it focussed on God's abundant generosity and as the week has progressed I've really noticed it, even in the little things. Rome was awesome, and it all went better than I could ever have imagined. And now I've arrived to help on a camp in Norfolk. Despite terrible weather over the last week, everyone is generally in good spirits and there seems to be a really good group of campers. God has evidently been at work as well, which is exciting.Anyhow, I have business to attend to. So from a field in Norfolk it's over and out. Defined by user

Roma: When some words are inappropriate

Another funny moment in Rome occurred after a couple of us had spent the day down on the Appian Way (and very nice it was too). Unfortunately, we just missed a bus and the long wait for the next one meant that we were late to that evening's rehearsal. I might have won the BNC Choir Tour "Virgin Trains Award for Punctuality" but not even my nagging wife could have done anything about it in this case.

As the two of us raced towards the Dutch Church, however, we realised to our horror that the gate at the top of the steps was locked, and that getting in could be a problem. The sight of a nun the other side of the gate provided a glimmer of hope and we sprinted up the stairs...where we realised that we had no idea how to convey in Italian that the choir we were with was inside the church and that we wanted to join them.

The situation looked pretty desperate when hand gestures and "Cantare" (which, it turns out, may mean 'you sing') failed to get us anywher…

Crumbs on Earth...

Originally uploaded by JP1984.
...I didn't remove my glasses in time.

[Apologies if you don't know Nick. Apologies if you are Nick. Normal service will resume shortly].

Roma: Stared at by the local Totti

Originally uploaded by JP1984.
Ladies and gentlemen, I'm sorry, but this corner of the Blogosphere has just come over all Tabloid. Don't let the lack of (almost) topless totti and poor puns fool you. What you see before you is indeed a grainy photograph of a world cup footballer, and it can't be long before I've honed my skills enough to produce quality articles as informative as the one I recently spotted in the Daily Express.

FRANCESCO TOTTI-who scored against Australia-was spotted in the same restaurant as the BNC Choir. It might shock readers to know that he was seen EATING and drinking with his friends. Famous for SCORING against Austrailia, neither Totti nor his friends were available for comment.


Anyhow, I was indeed glared at by Francesco Totti. He was stood outside as I elegantly (her words, not mine) carried Miss Mugford up the street, and the look I got was priceless. I think it was one of my proudest moments.

Roma: The Wrong Church

A lot of our singing rehearsals took place in the Dutch Church in the Vatican. That in itself is kinda cool.

Halfway through the first rehearsal, people started filing in, and a priest (not, notably, wearing a black shirt) attempted to converse - initially in Spanish I think - with our organ scholar. Evidently the people had turned up for mass, and assuming that the church had been double booked, we left.

Then as we were stood on the steps contemplating what the plan was, and when we would next reconvene, the people filed out of the church again. The reason? They'd come to the wrong church...

It's easily done in Rome I guess - there are churches everywhere - but it was very funny nonetheless.

Roma: Scenes from an Italian Restaurant

For some reason on Monday there was a concert outside the Colosseum featuring Bryan Adams and Billy Joel. And it was free (one of my favourite prices).

So as I sat down with the group at a restaurant around the corner and tucked in to some authentic Italian pizza, my dinner was accompannied by some live music. We could hear the gig very clearly, and as the wine and conversation flowed it was surreal to think that "Summer of 69", "Run to You" and the other classics were actually being sung, right there, right then, by the man himself.

Following the meal we went off to our favourite Gelateria for some ice-cream (if you've never had proper Italian ice-cream you haven't lived). Miss Mugford and I then made our way towards the Colosseum as Billy Joel began his set. A walk around the Palatine (which masked the sound, alas) took us to the slopes of the Capitoline where we joined a crowd of people staring out across the forum. There in front of us was the Rostra…


I'm paying a quick visit to the Blogosphere again, having returned from Rome yesterday. I was there to sing with my college choir and it was awesome.

I was with a wonderful group of people, and with such good company in such a great place I really did have a good time.

I will get on with posting some thoughts, because - as ever - I have a lot to say. I'll try and break it down a bit though because the last Shetland post was admittedly a bit mammoth. (however, I'm sure you did read it all, Dave, and I had to leave enough for people to read whilst I went away again). You'll probably also be pleased to know that I don't intend to ramble as much as I did about Cyprus; though please do try and read those posts at some point (my ego will suffer if I don't think it was worth my effort).

For tales of Bryan Adams, Billy Joel, and a world cup footballer, stay tuned.

Leaving The Blogosphere (again)

There are many advantages to having some time without internet access, but not being able to blog is not one of them. Alas.

But, as is always the case, the cliche "I'll be back" applies. So don't go away.

Thank you to those of you who left comments whilst I was in Shetland. I do now have my results (though I didn't when I composed the post) and I am able to continue my studies next year.

On the Cyprus front, the idea of 'ethnic cleansing' on behalf of the Greeks is not one I had come across (obviously in the Greek side) but a theory to be investigated. As ever, I will do my own research. Watch this space.

Thank you very much for calling, bye for now.

Some People (the latest episode)

We have another winner of JP's Muppet Awards. This time it goes to the middle aged woman in baggage reclaim this morning. After waiting an age, the baggage eventually appeared on the conveyer belt, and her husband (or should I say 'Partner' to be on the safe side in this overly PC age?) collected their ridiculously heavy suitcase. He then tried to place it on the trolley she was holding, and despite requests to 'hold it still' she failed to notice, let alone use the big green brake lever and the trolley wobbled around like an excited dog, bashing in to those of us around her.Worryingly, she probably holds a driving license :S

Shetland: He's got a dream about buying some land...

..He's gonna give up the booze and one-night stands.It might come as something of a relief that today's chosen lyrics are not connected with me (though I do fancy a bit of land). In fact, the only connection with our trip is that they feature in one of the tunes which has accompanied us as we've been driving around. And what a tune it is. I wonder if someone with too much time on their hands can tell me which 70's classic I am referring to.So, 5 days in Shetland. Aside from visiting random relatives, what have I been up to?We spent a day exploring the north and west parts of the Shetland Mainland, which really does boast some stunning scenery. After the fog which dominated our first 24 hours or so, the weather cleared and we enjoyed hot sunshine. The weather was good enough in fact to enjoy spending time on one of the picturesque beaches, with its expanse of unspoiled sand and crystal clear waters. The water was so inviting that I donned my swimming shorts (not…

Shetland: In the Remote Part

The song title for this post is the most relevant yet; it describes my location well, and is by a Scottish group to boot.This post was going to come to you a few days ago from a B&B/Croft on a remote peninsula on the Shetland Mainlaind, but the reliability of the Vodafone email server (poor, despite good GPRS coverage) coupled with days packed with better things to do than blog means that I've got a bit behind with my diary.Anyway, I now have all the time in the world to ramble about my trip so far because I am fog-bound at Sumburgh Airport with no idea when and how I will leave the Shetlands. Apparently fog affects the flights here all the time in the summer, so I am a little bit annoyed that there were no warnings about this when booking, and no information on the Tourist Website under the 'Getting Here' section. The announcement has just been given that our flight is still delayed, with the next update due in an hour. At this rate I'll be on the boat to Aberd…

Shetland: Shine on you crazy diamond

Another cue from a song; I think that there is a bit of a trend emerging. And this one is (possibly) more relevant than the last.It turns out that my grandmother's 80 year old cousins are both in good enough shape to look after a few acres of land and keep sheep. As Skittles noted, the word 'legend' is often applied very liberally, but these guys certainly deserve the title.Along with their nephew and his wife we enjoyed a wonderful meal, complete with home grown spuds. Conversation flowed as we traced family links, learned about Shetland and just made general small talk. The evening flashed passed, and as we took our leave at midnight it was still twilight. I'm thrilled to have completed another link in the family chain, and really hope that it will remain for years to come; "Shine on..."Aside from meeting distant relatives, yesterday was filled with adventure. Despite the lingering fog, we opted to continue with plans to island-hop to Noss.We started wit…

Shetland: Showing off your something shaved and lacy

I attempted to post a photo of our successful rendezvous in Edinburgh, but so far it hasn't appeared.Anyway, continuing without the need for pictures, we have arrived. The journey was pleasant and smooth and we docked at 7.30am this morning. Sadly the clear skies evident as the twilight faded near John O'Groats at 10.30pm had given way to mist and drizzle when I looked out at 4.30am and have not reappeared since.Nevertheless, we've had a pleasant morning in Lerwick, finding our accommodation and indulging in a delicious and hearty brunch in a local cafe. Lerwick is fairly bustling, and does not feel that remote. Aside from a few Scandanavian influences in some of the buildings, we could be anywhere in the UK. We've seen the impressive Town Hall and the local loch and later plan to explore further, maybe visiting the Up-Helly-Aa exhibition.So what does the title of this post have to do with all this? It's a Kings of Leon lyric, quoted by Stan, and doesn't r…

Shetland: The Adventure Begins

Shetland: The Adventure Begins
Originally uploaded by JP1984.
After a pleasant journey north to York yesterday, I met with one of my travelling companions - Stan - and stayed with his brother. The sun was shining and it was great just to chill out.

And so, at a not uncivilised hour, the journey continues this morning. Flat and featureless scenery has given way to something a little more picturesque, and we have just passed Durham and its striking cathedral.

We change trains at Edinburgh, where we should be joined by Skittles, the third member of this intrepid trio. I say should, because he had to leave very early this morning, and matters were complicated yesterday by his realisation that he needed to arrive at the station in time to renew his YP railcard. Those of you who know him will know that the odds are not certain, but he should have been underway for a while now and no news, as they say, is good news. At least after yesterday's conversation he knows that it's Waverle…