Giving birth to a new idea – useful clues


I don’t want to talk about my idea in particular but to discuss the principles of the conception and birth of any new idea whether it is small or large-scale. The idea of Google was conceived by two people working out of a garage to construct a back reference for scientific articles. They had no idea what their baby would become and I would take the same attitude. (skip one paragraph)

Pepys Diary Saturday 26 November 1664

Up and to the office, where busy all the morning. Home a while to dinner and then to the office, where very late busy till quite weary, but contented well with my dispatch of business, and so home to supper and to bed.

If you look at successful people you will find a common factor, persistence. Some of their ideas fail, some will succeed, some will succeed beyond their wildest hopes, visions or expectations. It seems to me that we have a prima facie duty to follow anything up on the grounds that it may lead to something. If it does not appear to succeed it may be that in the grand scheme of things it was to teach you something which would lead to success in some other way, some other time, some other field.

Over the years I have had my successes and my failures. I hesitate to use the word failure. Rather, I would say that I did not get the result that I expected or indeed the response. It may be that I got my timing wrong although there was nothing wrong with the idea. I think timing is far more important than time. They say that there’s nothing so important is an idea that has reached its time. This saying arose from Victor Hugo who once remarked “you can resist an invading army; you cannot resist an idea whose time had come“.

The attitude I now take is that I will have a go. It either gets taken up or it doesn’t. However, it is a very good idea to have a reality check with those who are in the field. This will enable them or help them to refine and thoroughly bring to earth the fledgeling idea. On our BBC program “Dragons Den” we see people who have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on an idea which under examination shows no chance of succeeding. I think that being in an individualistic bubble is very dangerous i.e. me versus the world and if I build an idea they will come.

At the very least, we should see what requirement if any there is for our services or products and then do a quick Google search to see what is around already.  Sometimes an idea is very good as a hobby but will not work on a large scale because it would take more resources than can be supplied without considerable stress. Modern markets are unforgiving and difficult to penetrate due to the large number of different demands on people.

There is no harm doing a copy of what is already being done. For example if there is one Indian restaurant in the street there is no harm in having a second one and it is not immoral providing you make it clear in your advertising that you are not passing yourself off as the other restaurant. you might care to think what is your unique selling point for example in the case to the restaurant, you do takeaways and promise to deliver within 15 minutes. If you are a loan company you could promise that when people telephone you will give an answer within 3 minutes. That’s what is called a USP not to be confused with a USB port

I would also say in spite of some evidence to the contrary when people mortgage every last thing and get away with it, do not invest more than you can afford to lose. New ventures are when all said and done a gamble. Disaster can strike at any time. Your wife may decide that she had enough of you droning on about the same old thing. You may be halfway through your project and low and behold some idiot comes and runs you down and puts you in hospital for six months.

I would strongly advise against relying on what your friends think because they will be polite to you not wishing to offend and will always tell you what a great idea it is. The odds are they will have no relevant experience in the field, have little awareness of the competition, be unaware of what a hard place the world can be, and basically be of very little use to you. Far better to have someone who is a professional and can look at the overall situation for what it is, not what you want it to be. the real test friends is asking them if they would like to invest in the product. You will then get them entering as a different level altogether and then the excuses will start.

I would also strongly advise writing the idea down in as much detail as you can and giving it to your partner or someone who cares for you. If they have objections, try not to go on the defensive, but listen to what they have to say because two heads are better than one.

If you have an idea for a website name for goodness sake don’t tell anyone. I have known cases of people who announce their intentions at a meeting to find to their horror that someone registered the same name and want compensation for its use. That may sound pretty cynical but in the world of business and money, you will probably have as many enemies as friends.

When you write copy or advertisements please show it to someone who hasn’t a clue about the subject matter but is of reasonable intelligence and asked them to give the impression. The problem is that you know the background and somehow you expect the reader to also know the background. This is fallacious. To speak simply and clearly as if to a 12-year-old is not a mistake because you do not have the full power of someone’s intellect when they see your advertisement, they are probably thinking about half a dozen other things at the same time.

Clear is good. Mixed messages are bad. Too much information on one page is bad. All you are trying to do is to get them to make contact, to telephone you. You are not trying to justify the whole thing. If they want to know more, they can call you. If you are selling an item, then that is scope for a description of sufficient detail to get people to part with their money. This however is only possible if you can buy a page or so of the magazine. I suggest you announce the dream for example “build your house for a fraction of the price that you would pay” or “than 6% on your savings instead of the current half percent” and do the rest of the selling through personal contact.

There is a saying that first of all you sell yourself, then you sell your product or service. I can speak about telephone manners till the cows come home but suffice to say that you put out a lot more information than you might imagine via your voice. Hurry, anxiety, impatience, will all come across loud and clear as will enthusiasm.

I shall be taking a short break in the next few days having written continuously every day since 1 February 2017. I shall be mulling over the idea I have the meanwhile carrying around a notepad so I can write down ideas that turn up to me. I regard ideas as a bird landing on your shoulder. It won’t sit there forever if you take no notice of it.

Finally, new needs are springing up all the time as technology and society changes. They say that most of the jobs that will be around in 30 years time have not even been thought of yet. Unless you can put your whole heart into something, and believe it implicitly don’t even bother to start.

as Noel Coward said

Don’t put your daughter on the stage, Mrs. Worthington
Don’t put your daughter on the stage
The profession is overcrowded
And the struggle’s pretty tough
And admitting the fact
She’s burning to act
That isn’t quite enough
She has nice hands
Give the wretched girl her due
But don’t you think her bust is too
Developed for her age?
I repeat, Mrs. Worthington
Sweet Mrs. Worthington
Don’t put your daughter on the stage


I wonder if she knows what she is letting herself in for;  she seems to have the quality of being able to adapt


The spiritual significance of Singapore


It is impossible to sum up this ex-British territory, this strategic trading post in one blast but I will do my best in so far as the role of the Christian church is concerned. This is what has drawn me in in recent weeks. It is refreshing to find a part of the world where the Christian faith is growing. You will of course not read this in the newspapers that are dedicated to either propaganda or bad news. In other words good news is no news. Statistics do not reveal everything but my friends from Singapore think that up to 20% of people are Christians. This is not a nominal appellation. When you become a Christian in Singapore you are expected to go on a course to make sure that you understand the fundamentals.

Pepys Diary Friday 25 November 1664
All political and trading stuff today.
Nothing I am moved to comment on.

Trawling the Internet I have found at least 300 Christian churches and meeting places and there are probably more. Because of the prosperity of the country, the money is available to give preachers and lecturers the time to prepare and as a result the standard of sermons and addresses is in my opinion the highest in the world. To put it another way, churches can take their pick of the best of the world. In other words, unless you are excellent and have a proven track record you don’t even get a look in.

Right from the first exposure, I was struck by the quality of the models for administration, publicity, and presentation and felt that the rest of the world could benefit from it. Organisations such as the Cornerstone Church already regard it as part of their remit a reach out to other countries including the UK. An example is Bristol.

Singapore enjoys a unique set of parameters that makes it pre-eminently suitable for a sustained and solid evangelical campaign. The parameters include a mixture of political, social, historical and intellectual qualities.

Mental acuity. The standard of education in Singapore is very high which means that people are literate, numerate, and able to think abstractly.
Numbers of the faithful. Official figures say that 12% of the population of 5.7 million, but as said above, my friends think it is closer to 20%.
High level of professionalism. If you look at a list of staff in some of the bigger churches there can be 30 or 40 whereas in some of the equivalent churches here, three or four people can struggle to fulfil the same commitment. This means that those selected for preaching duties can spend the time on energy producing excellent well researched sermons and addresses which bring the whole thing to life.
Good harmony with other faiths. I am told that the relationships are cordial. If I go to Singapore I will report back on this one.
Good financial base. Singapore is a prosperous country where the government, who own 95% of the land did you know, will not hesitate to invest wisely in structural projects. The same thinking goes into churches which seek to extend their influence to society at large including the business world. Congregations are generous and if they have benefited from the church they will give money
Stable economy. Due to the long trading history, and the fact that when England withdrew they did not immediately dismantle anything British bar worked alongside with the ideas. The GDP is healthy and gives people a certain confidence, hopefully not a certain complacency, about their position in the world.
Lack of corruption. Transparency International is an organisation that analyses trustworthiness in commercial and political dealings and on a world scale after Denmark, New Zealand, Finland, Sweden and Switzerland, Singapore comes at number six. This is considerably higher than the United Kingdom, America etc. and is the only country in the east that is thus favoured, save Hong Kong which comes in at Number 17.
Good electronic communications. hi Internet speed, discipline with timekeeping, high standard of politeness means that any visitors to Singapore, particularly to visit the churches, will find their path straightforward
Language – a good proportion of Singaporeans speak English, higher than an apparently similar city, Hong Kong.
Transport – with over 700 km² and 8000 inhabitants per square kilometre the transport system has to be good and functional. It is.
Surveillance – the churches are overseen by a national council of churches which attends to matters of quality and regulation. As it is Singapore, they are effective and have a powerful voice.
 Situation on the planet – strategically, you could not ask for much more. Singapore is a centre for long distance between East and West, a hub second only to the Middle East cluster including Dubai.
Cultural politeness – it is important to keep to the customs and don’t even think of throwing down chewing gum or any form of litter otherwise you will be fined. As the joke goes, Singapore is a fine city.

I consider that Singapore is a unique place for the propagation of ideas such as the Christian faith. As if the above were not enough, there is an excellent generic Think Tank the Ethos Institute for public Christianity which produces a stream of instructive lectures and videos on all Christian subjects. I am watching one at the moment on ‘The Contribution of C S Lewis” by Dr Robert Banks, an Australian cleric. It can be found on YouTube.  There is no other country or city state on the planet that has all its advantages so I would expect great things to come and I think it is high time that Singapore had a public image makeover.

My original plan which I have since modified was to go out to Singapore, which I still intend to do, and see some of these amazing instruments of power deliver what they’re best at. I would love to be part of a normal everyday or every week should I say congregation of 3000 to 4000 people just for the experience.  I have since decided to start on my home patch here in the UK and produce a website specifically to facilitate the exchange of ideas both for churches or institutions to help them what they do better, and for potential participants, to encourage them to attend.

This means that in addition to my daily diary which you are reading now there will be another type of utterance, perhaps a bit more like the relational database, which hopefully will be part of the blessing of God and goodness that we badly need in this wretched and degrading situation on this planet.

I aim to launch this new project in the New Year or thereabouts so watch this space.


Why no one needs to be lonely


This morning, I rang my friends to tell them how helpful the meeting of yesterday had been. I may be stating the blindingly obvious but sometimes all we are required to do is to listen to someone with unconditional love and acceptance (part of love) because in order to process an idea it has to be spoken out. This can then enable stage two, which is the sorting the wheat from the chaff and then figuring out where to go on a practical level.

Only the speaker can make the decision. The job and indeed the privilege of the friend or listener is to provide a safe framework for this inner development to happen. The brain LOVES to work. The brain is the world’s ultimate relational database. When we allow it to work properly it floods the body with lots of feel good chemicals which encourages it further. Alcohol is a clumsy though pleasurable attempt to replicate these feelings. It would be hypocritical to say that I don’t drink


Pepys Diary Thursday 24 November 1664

nothing I wish to comment on. Read the diary by clicking above.


This being a wonderfully sunny winter morning we decided to take ourselves off to the few remaining Christmas fairs before the season ends. We went to one of my favourite little villages, Mells, where there was the usual high quality Christmas fair.

Outside, was a lady and her dog trying to control a large-scale ordnance survey map in the wind. I went to try and help and asked her where she wanted to end up. She was trying to find a way to Holcombe, which is about 4 miles away, by a route that avoided fast moving traffic which tends unfortunately to be a feature of small lanes, sunny days, weekends, where people enjoy themselves exuberantly while driving their cars. I said she should get a GPS for walkers that she responded that she wanted to be free of technology on a weekend.

On the way to our favourite stream, we had a chat with a couple about the variety of tree which was displaying such a wonderful show of berries this time of year. We told them about the fair which we attended they thanked us for the information.

While at the stream we had a chat with a man and his dog. We remarked that the level of water was high but he said this is nothing to when it’s been raining a few days and the water impinges on the meadows on either side of the stream.

The next person along the road was a lady with the dog. This dog had an exceptionally warm temperament and I remarked that it must not have been a rescue dog but she said it was. She told us about a dog rescue shelter Happy Landings, south of Shepton Mallet where rescue dogs are looked after for some weeks before being rehomed.

Back at the post office which is the centre of Mells, Francoise had an animated chat with two French speaking people one of whom was a multilanguage speaker and the other one who had time in France.

We had a further chat with someone who had a small stall from a firm called Cavendish Cooks of Bath who was selling high quality frozen food either for one person or for four people. She gave us a sample of Sticky Toffee Pudding. we ended up by buying one of her frozen products but for one person or possibly two persons, coq au vin, for the princely sum of £4.95. When you consider that there are no artificial additives and rubbish to bulk something up, that is a very good price. I think this whole business of theirs is a labour of love but I hope they make some money out of it.

Our next conversation was with a sculptor in Nunney, where we had noticed that there was a fair on. We followed a sign saying “art exhibition” and discovered a very competent sculptor called Lady Karen Watson whose bronzes in my view are in a class of their own.

The next conversation was with her associate Lynn Keddie who paints country scenes which (or is it that -I can never remember which one applies) were being exhibited. I was talking to her about the diary you are now reading and she said that that seemed a lot of work and I said “no it’s not actually because I use Dragon Dictate speech to text software”. She commented that if you want to know what you have written, you have to read the text aloud to yourself.

A fellow art enthusiast standing by said he had heard of this but not dared to attempt it, so he reverted to the  more familiar traditional typing. I said that technology had advanced a lot in the last few years and it was really well worth giving it a try but you needed at least 4 GB of RAM. Whether he got the latter point I don’t know but we parted with a smile on good terms.

a very original advertisement for an estate agent which was sitting in the toilet of the art gallery
Ctrl and + to enlarge this image

We then moved on to the Village Hall itself where the fair was taking place. We met a lady who was half Swedish and half German who created the most amazing artwork in the form of woolly hats. They cost £35 each but had we wanted to buy one they would have been worth every penny.

We walked back through Nunney. Unusually there are two websites with varying degrees of updatedness. The second one is here.  The sun was at just the right angle to make the leaves shine. This village is very well organised and has an excellent website though there are only a few hundred people living in that area. Visiting people if you would like an example in miniature of all that is good about the village then visit this place.

A final conversation of the day was with yet another participant in a fair in Kilmersdon. She was a weaver and she was enthusiastic about alpaca wool. She had bad circulation in her hands and feet and found that the only material that could keep her warm was from this animal, more so than any other material. Alpaca wool is very fine and when you touch it you can hardly feel it but it makes wonderful socks. She invited Francoise to have a go but added that she probably made look easier than it was.


Why do I give the title to this diary entry? Our society in the UK is so set up, particularly in the country, that you can talk to anyone without any barriers. When you see someone walking along, or pass them on the street, you just start a conversation. They really don’t care if there’s one of you or two of you in fact you could say that to be on your own is a positive advantage. The only problem is you have to get out of your apartment or flat or condominium and actually go to where people are. Nutrition may be available in small quantities per person but nutrition it is.

I do this on my own when I go out and abroad apart from my partner and of course it is not quite the same but if the drive is to talk to people and get the most out of your day then you can achieve it. I believe it is actually a disadvantage to be in large groups because that puts people off. Obviously you wouldn’t walk around by yourself in the dark in a strange city but under normal daytime circumstances there is absolutely no problem. This applies even if you are a visitor to UK. It does help to speak English. The English have this “thing” that they don’t care where people are from; they are glad to help and chat about the world in general (don’t forget the weather).

If you can think of everybody as one, we are all part of the same universe and the same consciousness, then loneliness will become redundant in your mind. I’m not talking about a conscious act of deciding to be solitary for one reason or another.  Pressure by the media that you should be in a couple is extraneous and mendacious. They do this because the purchasing power of a couple with their physical requirements of greater than that of an individual.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with being on your own and you are not missing out. You just have to make a slightly greater effort to get out and about and as sure as eggs are eggs you will make friends, but they will probably appear when you least expect them so the worst thing you can do is to consciously hunt for friends because that will put people off; they will pick up the vibes of worry and insecurity a mile off.


I note that I am up to 1500 words today, actually 1528 words, so I guess I should stop and do something else, perhaps prepare a meal.



Fifth anniversary of our move – a successful meeting


This is the fifth anniversary of our move and I reflect on the benefits and disadvantages of being here in Midsomer Norton.

Wednesday 23 November 1664

This evening Mr. Hollyard came to me and told me that he hath searched my boy, and he finds he hath a stone in his bladder, which grieves me to the heart, he being a good-natured and well-disposed boy, and more that it should be my misfortune to have him come to my house.

Pepys had the same condition. Removing bladder gall stones was extremely painful and required two strong men to hold down the unfortunate patient. Pepys was one of the first to undergo such an operation which in the age before anesthetics is quite remarkable.


So the famous meeting is now over, nearly three hours of it. It went very well and exceeded my expectations. We provided lunch which consisted of simple and nutritious food which doesn’t require too much fussing around and most of which was prepared beforehand.

I think with any meeting on any subject, there needs to be a certain minimal chemistry and a certain desire to communicate then the meeting more or less looks after itself. Hidden agendas do not help the free flow of conversation and mercifully there were none on this occasion. The joy of meeting and sharing especially when there is a spiritual common denominator lifts the spirit and helps us to see what was previously cloudy.

In this age of absentee and incompetent government we only have each other to rely on and to build up a community spirit with many people. This is the best way of ensuring that when times get really bad (we ain’t seen nothing yet) there is at least someone to talk to and furthermore be understood.


Today is the fifth anniversary of our move to Somerset from London. When I first moved in, the mayor, Paul Myers OBE, warned me that things will happen for us but 10 times as slowly as you would wish and he was absolutely right. This is not high-pressure’ how are you’ ‘we must do lunch sometime’ of the city. The charms are hidden and the more people you know the more people you know but there is plenty going on, not perhaps quite the scope that you would hope for but now the strong and independent spirit you can survive and thrive, picking the cherries as you see fit.

One of the enduring pleasures is the lack of traffic. My wife drove back from Timsbury, a distance of 4.3 miles, in 11 minutes long winding country lanes. We have one set of traffic lights in our town. The rest are pedestrian crossing lights. When we were living separately and Francoise visited me from Haverstock Hill, there were about 35 pairs of lights to West Dulwich where I lived. From memory I think the distance was about 10 miles and it took her between 45 and 50 min and this with a lot of stop go. Don’t even talk about rainy Friday nights in the winter.

Most people here are definitely conservative and most of the topics I’m interested in talking about are not shared by the vast majority of the population. This one simply has to adapt to and it makes me treasure more the times when I can talk and be understood. I do bless the Internet here because there are numerous chat rooms where you can talk with like-minded people and although it is not the same as face-to-face, it does give sustenance of some sort. We are lucky in having a decent speed. Download is 74Mbps an and upload speed 18.8 Mbps. I’m told that the response time is 56 ms (latency). I am not quite sure what that means but so long as I can watch films, Youtubes, and upload data without having to grow a beard while I wait then I am happy.

I’m now chairman of the local allotment committee and very much enjoy encouraging people to make the most of their plots. People do not realise that with a little management you can eat free vegetables including with vegetables for between four and five months. One of the chaps has three plots and he hopes to make his whole family self sustainable over as much of the year as possible.

There is a ghost story telling session this evening  so as I was invited by a new friend Elizabeth Lovely I thought we should attend. It was at Burdall’s Yard, a property owned by the University which is used for a wide variety of musical, social, and intellectual pursuits. Seven writers told horrifying stories on varying topics including a man who made a habit of texting his dead relatives, and someone who was haunted by a tune that they could not get out of their head, someone else who bought a doll that had been worn by a kamikaze pilot which unseen forces prevented her from getting rid of, and finally of someone who became obsessed by a man at work thinking he was in love with her.

a story reader with a skeleton and head in the background

All excellent stuff,  and stuffy it was in the small meeting room where I almost asked for oxygen but full of delightful appreciative people as you would expect in a place like Bath.

Next to us sat a young woman who had moved to Bath at the end of the summer from Northamptonshire and was living on her own. She had joined which is an American-based agency where you can form your own social groups or networks of whatever theme you choose. Unfortunately the commitment of the average member is not as it should be because you can say you’re coming to a meeting without ever meeting anybody in person beforehand so the dropout rate is quite large. I have a word with her and encouraged her and said that things would turn her way in an unexpected fashion. She was attractive and had very nice long hair. I said it was only a matter of time so she could relax and enjoy herself.


The temperature as we left was about 1°C with the totally clear sky with lots of twinkling stars which you could even see from the city of Bath. I was standing outside the venue when two young ladies came along to me and said, “thank you so much for organising the event”. I had to think quickly but decided to accept their thanks gracefully. Did it really matter that I had nothing to do with the organisation at all? I acknowledged the fact that they were grateful and if they thought I was the organiser does it really matter.


Opposite the venue was a piano shop with a remarkable display of keyboards which was so fascinating that we decided to cross the road to have a look at.

try and figure out how this was done

On that note (ha ha) I close the diary this evening. as Pepys would say home to supper then to bed


forgiving other people – meeting preparations apace


In which I discuss a simple device for overcoming the stress of dealing with a difficult person, and then move on to preparing for a meeting, some do’s and dont’s.

Pepys Diary for Tuesday 22 November 1664

Another multi-faceted day for our redoubtable diarist. His reportage says it all.

The quotation below really jumped out at me and it relates to my previous conversation about recovering from arguments. I introduce the concept of ‘God’ here to represent a higher power. This is part of my recommended software for those who want to live unfettered by feelings of hate to others.

To live in “perfect love” is to seek God’s will in every situation, and to desire the best for every individual. It is not a physical attraction, nor a mere friendly feeling. It is unending goodwill, even to the most unlovable.

As Edwin Markham wrote:

“He drew a circle that shut me out.
Heretic rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in!”

There is a certain impersonal quality about ‘good will’. It is a generic thing, a state of mind that rises above the everyday nonsense that goes on. It enables us to retain our dignity and may I say our sanity. ‘Be in the world but not of it’ as someone said.  The only escape or remedy is up. Love is not an emotion it is a stance where attitudes are not controlled by the reaction of the other parties.


I am prepared as much as I will ever be for an important meeting that will be taking place tomorrow. I think there’s only so much one can do and in the end it will depend upon the chemistry of myself and the other people. I hope they are as committed as I am to what I have to say. I don’t want to put my new ideas in writing because I find it is back luck to discuss something before it is in operation. It is probably a good idea to summarize beforehand what you hope to achieve and why you called the meeting in the first place.

I have always had the habit of speaking too fast on such occasions and not listening to what the other people have to say and if nothing else I will try to overcome this habit. We have to go at the rate of other people’s thinking and if they are preoccupied with something else or have had many things on their mind then we have to slow down accordingly. It is probably less threatening with a new idea to ask people’s advice and become aware of what input they are willing to give even though it may not lead to the result that you had wished. There is always a reason for their point of view so I suppose a small step is better than no step at all.

At least it may lead to something else.





Investigating Singaporian churches – the wonders of google Earth


In which I start to investigate the religion of Singapore and have cause to be impressed by the wonders of Google Earth.

Pepys Diary Monday 21 November 1664
about his business affairs.
Nothing that I feel moved to comment on

Just another local church in Singapore

For various reasons I’m looking intensively at the meta data of the Christian church in Singapore. Events and services take place on an industrial scale and for as yet unknown reasons I have been moved to have a look at what we can learn. For a start, the standard of talks and sermons is of another order to the usual parochial address that I’m used to in my Anglican upbringing. The illustration above is of the New Creation Church, not part of the Anglican Communion but part of the evangelical branch of the relatively small percentage of the Singaporean population that are Christian. It is a minority religion but you wouldn’t think so.

My only concern is that the size of audiences introduces a certain passivity and even a hypnotic state. I learn by listening to something then asking a question or having a conversation. Sermons are routinely long especially in the evangelical side, up to 1 hour 15 min so I don’t think I could concentrate for that length of time and I would probably find that I was not retaining the material given in the first part of the talk unless I was super motivated to learn. I would almost need a separate occasion to digest what I had previously heard.

By meta data investigation I mean how things are done. I’m doing studies hoping that the lessons learned can be applied to life in general not just people going to church or to an event. I’m seeing someone on Friday in fact two people who lived in Singapore for some time before making any further commitments. The point is that if there is a fundamental difference in culture, the likelihood that an idea from an Englishman would be accepted by the population will vary accordingly, even if I were to go over there and speak to them in person. I have no problem going where people fear to tread but I don’t want to waste my time and find I’m talking to brick walls.

In case there are any Christians or Christian sympathisers visiting this blog, below is a list of churches with their various denominations if any. Christians make up something over 10% of the population and the total population is about five million. This means that a far higher population go to church then in good old UK where everyone goes to the supermarket on Sunday or sits at home staring at their devices.

Anglican- 27 Assembly of God – 39 Baptist – 28 Brethren – 15
Bible Presbyterian – 15 Church of Singapore – 6 CNEC  – 3
Evangelical free – 9 Independent church – 103 Lutheran – 5
Methodist – 36 Presbyterian – 21 (Dutch) reformed church – 2
Salvation Army – 6

Unless my math is rusty I reckon that’s over 310, and all these churches seem to be supported very well. I have not checked fully but I think you are expected to pay a proportion of your salary. Certainly they have got the idea of payment to a fine art.

Google Earth is an amazing thing. It finds virtually any address in the world. It certainly has the names of all churches. Try typing in your local church or feature and by the time you have finished the last few characters of the word it will have found a probable match. For example, I wanted to find 200 Madison Avenue in New York and by the time I had typed m-a-d-i it had identified Madison Avenue and where it was, plus 4 other Madison avenues. You don’t have to highlight the country just use the little friendly box on the top left of the Google screen.

Anyway, in this case, I attempted to put all the church names on using a Virtual marker pin but after about the 200th entry, the whole map of Singapore became hopelessly busy and unclear.   Guidance is a funny old thing. I know I am being guided when I cannot understand why I’m doing something and what its function might be. In retrospect it always has a function which I often only discover months later. It could be to lead me to a person or to lead me to another idea. Time will tell with this one.


Three days ago a man came to the door from RAJAR which is a commercial organisation designed to investigate people’s viewing and listening habits in this case listening. I have been asked to keep a record of what I listen to over the period of one week. I forgot about it the first day, Monday, and when I came to fill it in, the day was closed for business. I wish they had not included that restriction  and I consider it bad form. Perhaps they think that if you don’t fill it in immediately, you will forget what you did.

My short-term memory is about three days and then it does fade I must admit. Anyway I will carry on with the week and put a pin on the wall to remind myself to fill in the form. It is quite easy, mostly drag-and-drop but then there’s a 12 page form to fill in that looks as if it could be a bit tedious. I did get a fiver for being willing to fill it in online so I’ll do my bit for England as they say.

Recovery from an argument – how to be a better speaker


Few lecturers and speakers are trained how to share material. Lessons are not learned automatically and lack of style can be irritating to an audience

Pepys Diary Sunday 20 November 1664

They gone, in the evening comes Mr. Andrews and sings with us, and he gone, where Sir J. Minnes and he and I to talk about our letter to my Lord Treasurer, where his folly and simple confidence so great in a report so ridiculous that he hath drawn up to present to my Lord, nothing of it being true, that I was ashamed, and did roundly and in many words for an houre together talk boldly to him, which pleased Sir W. Batten and my Lady, but I was in the right, and was the willinger to do so before them, that they might see that I am somebody, and shall serve him so in his way another time. So home vexed at this night’s passage, for I had been very hot with him, so to supper and to bed, out of order with this night’s vexation.

I could write about how to recover after an argument but there is no magic bullet except time, and forgiving the person concerned. Prevention is better than cure.


I’ve been to many talks in speeches in my time. The talk was about the connection between touch and sound with children and discussing at which age the senses are coordinated. It was given cheerfully enough but I found that I was not becoming engaged and I’ve pondered why this was the case.
First of all I think the speaker should introduce themselves if they have not been introduced by the speaker. We all need to know something about the background of the person and how they came to be interested in the particular topic, in this case psychology.

Most of us have tired and busy minds from the day and need time to refocus on the topic – perhaps for 5 min or so – then we are ready to absorb new material. In this case the speaker launched straight in to her topic and I wish she had told us what she was going to talk about before telling us about it. Repetition does not insult the listeners indeed it is respectful.

Unfortunately, she spoke with a very thick Italian accent and I had to spend half my concentration figuring out what she said, and the other half on its meaning. As a result I only absorbed about 25% of her material. I am too long in the tooth to be satisfied with just an impression; I want to go away with something concrete, something to chew on. In this case this did not happen. Researchers have a special protocol which they cheerfully referred to in PowerPoint slides by means of grass and numbers and so on but unless I understand exactly why she is doing the experiments the results are somewhat lost on me. Maybe I’m a bit sick in this respect. (for my non-English readers, thick・means a bit intellectually dull).

After the prescribed 50 min of lecture she did receive quite a number of questions which is always a good sign for a speaker and answered them almost before the words were out of the mouth of the questioner. This was a scientific subject given to a scientific audience so maybe I am not as clued up as I should be on this particular topic so I will give it 7/10. Why on earth she had to get someone to change the slides I have no idea because there’s a little gizmo which you hold in your hand which changes the slides remotely. I get the impression that some people have been using the same set of slides or PowerPoint for years and do not update.

We returned home to find that Robert Mugabe of Uganda has finally resigned and that his dreadful wife will not succeed him. Let us hope we do not have one dictator replaced with another.


In preparation for a visit from a friend who has lived in Singapore I’m looking at the situation of the churches there. It is quite common to have audiences of 2 or 3 thousand in a Sunday. The quality of the sermons and the attentiveness of the crowds puts us to shame and in way Singapore has an undeserved image of being a greedy and businesslike place but in parrallel, thousands of people crowd into the 305 Christian churches, yes you read that right, in a small city state of 6 million souls. More of that anon.

Horrible weather – the trauma of installing a new computer


A truly horrible weather day – the trauma of installing a new computer – advice for PC users

Pepys Diary Saturday 19 November 1664

All the morning at the office, and without dinner down by galley up and down the river to visit the yards and ships now ordered forth with great delight, and so home to supper, and then to office late to write letters, then home to bed.

For the first time since 1 February 2017 I have absolutely nothing to say about the entry except what I have just said which I suppose is something.


There is weather and weather. Today from about 10 am there was unremitting drizzle accompanied by a uniformly grey sky. My complaint is that nothing actually happens. If it would pour with rain, fine. Thunderstorms including lightning are even better. Flood and pestilence, frogs raining down would be added entertainment provided you are not caught in the middle of it.  Now, I look out of the window and it might be a prelude to the end of the world. I for one would welcome such an apocalypse – re-boot the whole planet I say. Let’s all start again and this time, listen to and respect nature and don’t mess with it.

Be thankful you do not live in places like Seattle. Although it only rains three days a week, on the other days it looks like its going to rain.  The area gets 152 days of rain and 37. inches of the wet stuff.  UK gets 133 days of rain and 33.7 inches during the year. The Atacama Desert is commonly known as the driest non-polar place in the world where it has not rained for years. I wonder if even David Attenborough would be hard put to find some evidence of life. Well, maybe we are not so badly off.


This morning was when my new computer was delivered by my kind Fundi, Terry. There are several comments and warnings which I would like to pass on. Sooner or later, your computer will fail. It will do so with no warning. There are two things that you need to have at all times. A backup especially of your data (the programs can be reloaded from your discs all from the Internet) and a list of passwords including the ones you think you will never forget. Memory is so cheap these days. I obtained a 1 TB backup disk for about £60 and I’m sure they will come down further in price. I also use dropbox for backup which I find adequate for most purposes. Dropbox is free for smaller usage anyway..

It is not a good idea to have the same password for everything because should someone break in and they discover that this is the case then all your systems will be compromised.  Over 1 million people were compromised by scams of various sorts in the UK in 2016. Because the criminals are always thinking of new ploys, you may be very intelligent and aware but you might still get caught.

It is very unlikely that you will lose data but you may forget where you put it and you may lose the program associated with it. For example, DragonDictate, which I’m using at the moment to write this diary was not able to work when it was transferred to another disc. Don’t ask me why, I had to reload it fresh.

The problem with ageing computers is that the rate of innovation is so fast that even if the developers wanted to test a new part for example a motherboard for compatiblity with every known other bits of hardware the cost would be prohibitive in time. Rather than replacing bits there is an argument for getting a new computer every three or four years. I have done this and benefited from a thoroughly clean system with no malware or hidden advertising.

Anyone who works from home should consider very seriously having two screens because very often you are writing about something referring to something else also on the computer and to have to split your screen, or alternate,  is wearing on the eye as well as the brain.  Most PCs have two outputs for screens, VGU I think they are called – and you just plug in the second monitor which you can get for £20 second-hand or for £100 the new and the computer will figure out what to do with it.

If you’re going to spend any length of time during the day I do recommend you invest money in a comfortable chair. I have one that swings and rocks. I had a hard chair, an ordinary four legged thing, and I realise now what a price I paid in terms of back aches and stiff necks. You should try not to have the screen against a bright light because that will put more strain on the eye. The wall behind my screen is more or less of the same colour as the screen, actually a light yellow, and I can sit happily in front of it for the day if I have to.  It is recommended that you get up at least once an hour and walk around possibly the garden or to make a cup of coffee.

Back to computers again, it is of the utmost importance to get someone who will give you personal service. Computers can be remotely interrogated so they don’t have to be physically with you to trouble shoot. Having said that, any advice you need on absolutely any aspect of computer building, design, software, problems, you only have to go into Youtube to find the answer. Okay the speaker may have an American drawl or an Indian accent but the information will be there.

I have a Nokia Lumia and I couldn’t quite figure out how to load a map so I went on to Youtube and got the answer within 30 seconds. There was a button that I did not see which took me to the right path. It’s nothing to do with your intelligence, it’s to do with lack of familiarity and experience and no one is going to take you to task for that. There is no such thing as a silly question. If you ask a question the chances are that you need an answer so if you’re on the receiving end or the giving and just get on with it and make a fool of yourself. We are not supposed to know everything about everything


Watching trash TV – sunrise – encouraging people


This edition – watching trash TV – sunrise – encouraging people

Pepys Diary Friday 18 November 1664

Up and to the office, and thence to the Committee of the Fishery at White Hall, where so poor simple doings about the business of the Lottery, that I was ashamed to see it, that a thing so low and base should have any thing to do with so noble an undertaking……

This reminds me that in order to maintain any sort of integrity we need to make a stand for what is right, and focus on worthwhile ventures, otherwise we will Twitter ourselves into frivolity and become a non-entity in the process. For me this means not watching certain types of video or TV, typically people behaving badly in whatever form. It does have a debasing effect on me from which it can take hours to recover. The excitement of the moment does not make it worth my while.


This morning outside my house 07.02 (Ctrl and + keys to enlarge the image).

I aim to encourage others as much as possible. They just have to show a little bit of spirit and enthusiasm and I am with them. I do not do the ‘seeking the living amongst the dead’ which Jesus advised against.  I am Chairman of my local Allotment Association, and as such most dogsbody activities fall on my lap. I do not object to this.   One of them is handing over plots where they have been neglected for some time and it can be dispiriting especially if the incoming person is not an expert gardener.

I follow the example of the animal world. Mothers show their offspring how to do this or that task and the latter learn by being given an example. I do not quite work this way but certainly start the ball rolling. I clean the worst of the plot so at least they can see what they have got including a starting point.  Sometimes this tactic does not work due to a change in circumstance over which the tenant has no control for example the loss of a job or an illness or a death in the family. Not withstanding, my default mode is to give them two  hours voluntary labour by me and hopefully that will be enough.  In the case illustrated below, the edge had become undisciplined and wandered 2′ into the plot area over a period of years.  Duly corrected by yours truly.

ready for digging


Four weeks to go until the shortest day though it is more accurate to say ‘shortest days’. The log fire is blazing. Time to watch David Attenborough doing what he does best – commentating on the latest wonders of the natural world (but don’t mention the 150 million tons of plastic that is dropped into the ocean every year).



Mystery photo of the day – Christmas Fayre season


Mystery photo of  the day – Christmas Fayre season – Christmas day provision in Bath

Pepys Diary Thursday 17 November 1664

Up and to my office, and there all the morning mighty busy, and taking upon me to tell the Comptroller how ill his matters were done, and I think indeed if I continue thus all the business of the office will come upon me whether I will or no.

If you want something done, ask a busy man.

This day I received from Mr. Foley, but for me to pay for it, if I like it, an iron chest, having now received back some money I had laid out for the King, and I hope to have a good sum of money by me, thereby, in a few days, I think above 800l. But when I come home at night, I could not find the way to open it; but, which is a strange thing, my little girle Susan could carry it alone from one table clear from the ground and set upon another, when neither I nor anyone in my house but Jane the cook-mayde could do it.

This reminds me of the freedom of mind of the young ones. I sometimes stumble over my mobile phone but I know that any 12 or 13 year old will solve the problem in a moment without even thinking about it.  Well done ‘little girle Susan’.


This is Christmas Fayre season with a vengeance.

Our supplies of marmalade are depleted but no one is selling it any more. First stop, St John’s Church Hall Midsomer, an event  for the McMillan Cancer Care. I had a cup of tea whilst Francoise wandered around. I  fell into conversation with a chap from my mens group. I asked what he was doing over Christmas and he did not know but told me of the Bath Churches ‘Open Christmas‘ where 500 people are accommodated at Kingswood School for Christmas Day lunch. About 200 volunteers cook, serve, collect the guests and take them home. Bravo community spirit.

mystery object

A brief parking stop in Sainsburys and what do I see? No barrier. What do I find on further examination? The pole of the barrier to the car park has snapped. By itself. Suddenly. Or was it the result of deliberate human action. No, surely, nobody would lose their temper over such a minor thing as being denied entry. Human nature never ceases to amaze me.


Next stop, Paulton Memorial Hospital Fayre, a crowded event with plenty of good value items. This is an A and E for minor medical complaints and serves as a resource for lack of ability to see the doctor. Today, though, the normally quiet corridors are filled with fund raising stalls, plus a Father Christmas to boot. The usual teas, and lovingly made cakes.

Reception desk purloined by stuffed animals – can I help you?
says it all

Tonight is dark (as is usual in late November) so I am going to read. No TV, no radio but SILENCE. I have unnecessarily lit the log fire. I like the ambience.

Till tomorrow then….


The history of Somerset miners – I hate PC upgrades


In today’s edition – The history of Somerset miners – PC upgrades

From Pepys diary Wednesday 16 November 1664

My wife not being well, waked in the night, and strange to see how dead sleep our people sleep that she was fain* to ring an hour before any body would wake. At last one rose and helped my wife, and so to sleep again.


Off to Terry my computer fundi (that’s South African speak for expert). He has built me a new computer and now each element has to talk  to the Mother Board to see if they are compatible both with the board and with each other. Compared with this, a first date is a breeze. Tonight is testing night and my shiny new min-tower remains at his place.  Firefox have just brought out a new version which i automatically downloaded without asking you. I note that some ideas have been borrowed from Opera.

I hate upgrades forced upon us especially Skype ones. Functionality is seldom more than marginally increased. They never beta test them properly with all the main operating systems and I try to avoid those updates if I possibly can. They are usually geared to sell you more stuff.
All being well by tomorrow lunchtime I will have a lightening fast silent computer (it has a huge fan / heat dump) and then I will have the pleasure of re-installing most of my programmes.


Whilst leaving Terry’s house I noticed a group of three people. One of them, a bearded young man, was making strange animal sounds, staring, walking normally, then making the growling or grunting sounds again. I wondered what quality of life this suffering soul had. The two minders walked with him, respectfully and quietly. As they turned the corner I had a certain respect for those who give their time day after day, week after week, month after month, to care for those whose brains do not work.


The last dance saloon

My my*  (an English expression not a typo) we keep ourselves going, so off to Camerton Community Hall for a talk (which turned out to be a film of 96 minutes) on Miners of Somerset. 80 people were assembled. The format consisted entirely of old miners sharing their stories. Each clip was about 30-45 seconds. We were shown shots of men in their eighties and nineties when they were younger interspersed with the actual interview. They were straight to camera with the interviewer keeping out of the way of the shots.  Perfect for retro viewing. Not suitable for TV as not gimmicky enough. The audience loved it.

  • My My is similar to ‘Wow. I’m impressed.’ The phrase is often used to tease someone for example a late riser who wakes early can elicit the comment “My, my, you are up early”.  It’s use is seldom mean or offensive. It is playful and fun. In the case above I am making fun of myself.
80 enthusiastic people

I did not take notes but here are some mental snap shots.

Getting up at 4.30am for your shift. The wife cooks you breakfast and off you trudge….. in those days there was no water except an outside tap, no toilet except a shed down the garden. Dad emptied the bucket every so often. We had wonderful produce. In those days, growing your own was the only way to get enough food….. the sense of comradeship was very strong and friendships lasted for life…. they took a canary down with them to check for carbon dioxide. Once the foreman took his eye off it and the canary died…. until 1911 the men had no tools and undercut blocks of coal about 6′ by 4′ then broke them up….. there were two men and a carrier in a group. Wages were not paid individually but to the group on a Saturday morning. The men were seen sitting around dividing up the money. Their wives were close by getting a share before it all disappeared into the pub…any aspect of mine work was dangerous but working at the face particularly so… even with all the rules and regulations, stone fell down and broke arms, legs and spinal cords…wounded men used to be given lighter duties in the canteen and so forth …..the local mines worked in three shifts; 6am-2pm; 2 pm- 10 pm; 10 pm to 6 am….. there were no baths until the advent of showers after the nationalisation act of 1947. Men had to wash and then kneel in the bath in front of the fire. … washing water had to be heated in kettles and pans.. when the bath had been finished with, the whole had to be taken out and poured away… ponies were carefully examined before being allowed down to work. They were well treated and during the annual holidays were taken up and grazed in fields…. the men suffered from fine dust which under certain combinations was explosive but was in any event injurious to the lungs. Men coughed up dirt long after they finished their shift… in spite of investment in machines the coal seams were not thick enough to enable the company to make a profit and the last Somerset mine closed in 1973… a wife complained because she never knew when she would see her husband. He would lave at 6am and not return until midnight… they often asked each other to help out.. men used to get raw hands from pulling ropes and raw backs from pulling ropes but they just used their own urine and wiped it in coal dust on the affected parts to make them be come tougher… this physical work has to be performed day after day and even at weekends.. many men do not reach 65 without major accidents… the air around the colliery was so dirty that window sills and front doors had to be cleaned 2 or 3 times a day…many people from eastern Europe came to work. The Polish people had (to the bosses) unpronounceable names so they were given nick names such as Joe the pole, or Fred the pole…..

Suffering and hard work wise “we don’t know we are born”.

This phrase  appears to be an exclusively British idiom. It is used of those (primarily the rich and the young) who enjoy freedom from want or responsibility and behave as if they are unconscious that they were merely born into this freedom and that others (the poor and adults) are not so fortunate.

Anyway, enough of this gay banter. To chocolate drinks and then to bed.



An arty visit to GUH hospital – the evils of sugar – witches


Today Pt 2 – art and  GUH hospital – the evils of sugar – witches

Part one here.

So as I mentioned in my previous, time for my macular examination. That’s when the layers of the eye become unattached from the retina and produced lack of central vision though long distance vision is unaffected.   I could read all but the bottom two lines of the chart, so relief as I don’t need an injection this time anyway, and must go back in a month.

The art ‘gallery’ spread over two floors of corridors in the GUH Hospital provides a continuous exhibitions of 500 works that change four times a year. Most works are for sale and this helps support the arts charity at the RUH.  It’s worth going to see the works even if you don’t have a patient to visit (bus 4 from city centre). Well done Hetty Dupaus, Art Programme Manager and Tony Smith, Exhibition Manager. Check out the web site

22 fish
An imaginative and engaging poster

On the way home I saw this amazing ‘hybrid’ relationship. Make of it what you will.

an alien trying to cuddle???


Every sentient being should be aware that there are health dangers through eating too much sugar. Not just sugar itself but the masses of sugar in sweet drinks. Sugar and other sweeteners are everywhere. They’re hidden in a huge percentage of  processed foods.  They’re sold to us as a way to feel good and enjoy life more. What price are we paying for our addiction to sugar and other sweeteners? Obesity. Diabetes. Cancer.

This report for ’60 Minutes’ reveals the addictive nature of sugar and the price we pay for our overindulgence. The good news? Switching to a diet of whole, unprocessed foods can reverse the effects. You could also look at Sugar- the bitter Truth’ on Youtube, a no nonsense examination if a trifle difficult for the newcomer to understand.  The video is from the USA but same deal in UK. Americans eat an average of 130 pounds of sugar per year and the UK at 72 pounds is not far behind.

Back home and a quick bite. Off to the Paulton History Society which this evening is offering a talk by Prof Ron Hutton on Witchcraft and magic, taking the period between 1740 and 1940 in the UK.  Prof Hutton was born in India, has studied in Oxford and Cambridge and is currently head of history at Bristol Uni.

Prof Ron Hutton
There were far too many facts to write down but there is a plethora of evidence for the ‘dark arts’. For example you could write 150,000 words of evidence from Essex and Somerset alone.
Charmers are one trick ponies, people who cure warts, indigestion, headaches
Wise Folk, or cunning folk, have a far wider range of abilities and skills such as healing, tracing lost objects and breaking curses.
Witches are people suspected of using magic to hurt others. Whether you call them white witches or black witches the effect is the same.
At the time, London was the capital of magic.
He described the actual and symbolic use of herbs – either by drinking in in an infusion or hanging them around the patient’s neck. The process of bouncing back evil to the perpetrator was accepted. A witch might take the urine of a sufferer in a bottle, place pins and needles in it and bury the bottle. This would ensure the undoing of the curse or spell.
It is Satanism not paganism that was regarded as the antithetic force to Christianity.
Cunning practitioners could continue with their work but if they were too expensive or if their spells did not work then the police would be called in and they would be taken to jail. Even this could have a publicity value.
I stood up at the end and asked if reading the professors latest book (The Witch: A History of Fear, from Ancient Times to the Present) would help me in my understanding of the topic and was told ‘no’. Instead I was recommended an earlier book published in the 90’s “The Triumph of the moon,  a history of modern Pagan Witchcraft‘.  I ordered this one using my mobile device.

Prof was asked what effect the curses had apart from the biological changes induced by fear. I felt he did not want to go in this direction. One of his students at Bristol, Jack Hunter, has written a PhD on Spiritualism, so that should be an interesting study if and when it emerges.

An audience of 60 is not a bad turnout for the country
On the bus on the way home was a young mum together with her son in a pram. He had a sweet smile. He was given a half slice of brown bread. He put it up to his ear and began speaking to it. He must have been all of 18 months. Guess where he got the habit from. God help the next generation.

Bath Colourists exhibition plus the ultimate germ collector


Today – Bath Colourists’ Exhibition in Bath – the ultimate germ collector

Pepys Diary Tuesday 15 November 1664

….I to the ‘Change, and thence Bagwell’s wife with much ado followed me through Moorfields to a blind alehouse, and there I did caress her and eat and drink, and many hard looks and sooth the poor wretch did give me, and I think verily was troubled at what I did, but at last after many protestings by degrees I did arrive at what I would, with great pleasure, and then in the evening, it raining, walked into town to where she knew where she was…

One of Pepys’ more unseemly habits. The less said the better, methinks.


This the time time of the month (no, not that time of the month) but my time to go and have my eyes looked at for spaces where they should not be, bleeding, unwanted water – you name it, an examination will occur.

But first, to my favourite buffet restaurant in Bath, Jimmy’s, just opposite the bus station. I have my all-you-can-eat buffet for £6 (sorry folks that’s for pensioners only) but £8.95 for the rest is not bad. During my meal there were three mums with their children, the youngest of which was about 6 months. That child screamed, wailed, screeched and generally made a noise. What does the mother do? Smile. Yea well that’s really effective.

germ collecting machine

Now I ask you, what more efficient way is there of taking germ samples, spreading viruses from coughs and colds, collecting dust particles and providing the ideal conditions for growth i.e. warm and sweet petri dish material right in front of your very eyes.


This was the mess left by the above mentioned group of mums. Now, children are less disciplines but why so much wasted food? Why give it to a child knowing that they will not be interested in eating it. For once I was glad to get out but I still love Jimmy’s. Do a search for Jimmy’s to see all my entries.

Bath Christmas Market minus two days

There will be about 100 stalls selling goodness knows what connected with the idea of Christmas. The place gets over run with visitors from all parts as the stall holders try to get back the significant costs of renting a stall or booth plus accommodation and travel expenses of those coming from overseas. No wonder the goods are expensive and – do I really need them.  More will follow.

Another exhibition at the BRLSI. This time it is the Bath Colourists exhibition. Colourists are people who paint with emphasis on colour (amazingly). Any arty person thinking of moving to Bath will find plenty to occupy them. I was impressed more by the 3D ceramics (see examples) by Sylvia Owen.  Alas her website does not do her justice. The yellow globe is shot out of focus and it is therefore not a good selling aid. There is no doubt of her great talent though. Enjoy.

example one
example 2
ooops did not mean to cut off the top of his head
Laughing Girl, ceramic, £275
example 5 (dont forget to use Ctrl and + to enlarge the images for better effect.
A colourist’s diary

This diary is far too long to make into one page so part two follows.


Difficult garden customers – the wonders of bees


Monday 14 November 1664

….So home (to his office), where infinite busy till 12 at night, and so home to supper and to bed…

I imagine his housemaids had to wait up until Pepys came home in order to serve his supper. ‘Overtime’ was a concept not in vogue at the time, nor is it today in many countries.  Anyway I have lots to write about so off we go.


Today we had the second and final day our idyllic garden  job which alas had a bitter ending. We worked about 11 hours in addition to my work yesterday. When it came to be paid the husband of the lady with whom I had been dealing suddenly decided that the price was too high and more or less confronted us.  The wife was embarrassed and gave me a cheque. I do try to avoid any sort of difficulty. This is how I do it.  I receive my brief on the job and within 48 hours give a quote. I charge ‘piece rate’ not an ‘hourly rate’.  The reason is that I work at manic speed and do not stop for say 5-6 hours and do far more than most people would do in one hour.

In this case my estimate was the same as the customer’s so I wrote an E-mail and got a conformation by e-mail so the contract was signed sealed and delivered as they say. When I am near finishing the work I take the customer on a walk around to show them what I have done and get their approval.  If they are not satisfied I make good.   When I have finished I ask once more the customer is happy and then I take the money. Fool proof enough you may say – alas, far from it.

The husband thought I should have charged by the hour and said for what I was charging I should have been in the garden for five days. From his tone of voice I realised that he had made up his mind so conversation was a waste of time. Am I glad to work for less than the minimum wage as a self employed person? I don’t think so. Many traditional local men still go back to thinking that £10 per hour for gardening is a good rate.  As an overall observation, many people in this area do not want to pay anything for such a service and even resent being asked.   It’s in the culture, dudes.

Part of our customer’s restored and cleaned garden in the country with such a lovely view to boot

The worst scourge is when I do work for a pensioner (most of my customers) and then afterwards their son / daughter / friend comes along afterwards and ‘thinks’ I have charged too much and that’s without them knowing anything about gardening, or being there when we did the work. One or two senior people have turned against us as a direct effect of over-protective family members.  This is  in spite of our doing the job – and doing more than we were asked to do, to price and to time AND they thanking us afterwards and handing over money without argument.

I must make an attempt to put contracts in writing  but even then the problem of local meanness and ‘experts’ would not be solved.  Ah well we do enjoy the work and so many people appreciate our efforts. We shall continue. I did not have this problem in London. We can’t have everything and there are compromises or should I say adaptions to be made wherever you live.


Natural News is an excellent source of accurate information about the goings on of ‘Big Pharma’ particularly in the country where they reign most of all, the US of A.  I read the headline ” Pharma drug cartel just changed the definition of “high blood pressure” to trick HALF of U.S. adults into “treatment” with high-profit prescription drugs

The idea is to hoax the public (already hoaxed enough) and to generate yet more profit from these gullible people by announcing a new definition of “high blood pressure”. This is done by lowering the acceptable level of cholesterol in the body, rendering tens of millions of Americans quanlifiable for statins. The overall plan is to convince otherwise normal people that they are sick by moving the goal posts. Read more here but have the vomit bag at hand.


On to the Mendip Gardening Club for their meeting on bees. It is held in the village hall of the strangely named Ston Easton which is not a stutter but a real place which existed before the Norman Conquest. The few houses that remain exude history and character. That does not include the modern Village Hall built in the 1980’s. Perhaps one day someone will repair the rutted driveway that leads from the road. It is a functional enough place which has a bowling alley but no bar (wonder why).

Neil Lovesay fell in love with bees when he saw a swarm coming towards him and attaching themselves to a door of his house. This happened about nine years ago. This lecture 2The Bee-Friendly Garden” was remarkable in my mind for presenting more unknown myth busting facts at one time than I have heard for many a long day.

the speaker holding the attention of the audience.

Here are a few facts about this amazingly intelligent creature and their environment. The most destructive enemies to bees and wild life in general are badgers. There are 270 types of bee. 75% of the food we eat is only possible because of the pollination performed by bees.  The best way of stopping bees who desire water from drowning in your pond is to drop a sponge on to it. The bees can suck the water in the sponge in safety.  You ‘type’ the bee by the colour its its head, ditto its body, and the number of stripes on its tail.

Bee-friendly flowers

Swarming bees do not sting because to swarm they need great amounts of energy which they can only  get through over-eating honey. You can safely scoop them up in yours hands without fear. When a bee strings you, it dies. If a bee-like insect stings you – say – six times, it is a wasp. Flies have eyes that can scan all around in 3D mode. This is because there are the bottom of the food chain and need to be on the alert. Bees have eyes that face forward but certain species can have up to five eyes.

The lecturer works for Picket Lane Nursery, Dorset  BT8 3HU where up to 1,000 varieties of hardy perennials and flowering shrubs are grown. Check opening times before traveling.


So with a slightly aching body even after an Epsom Salt bath, to bed with a hot water bottle.

I am too tired to write more so will return tomorrow and complete.


Pepys and music – the ideal restaurant environment


Sunday 13 November 1664

(Lord’s day). This morning to church, where mighty sport, to hear our clerke sing out of tune, though his master sits by him that begins and keeps the tune aloud for the parish. Dined at home very well, and spent all the afternoon with my wife within doors, and getting a speech out of Hamlett, “To bee or not to bee,” without book. In the evening to sing psalms, and in come Mr. Hill to see me, and then he and I and the boy finely to sing, and so anon broke up after much pleasure, he gone I to supper, and so prayers and to bed.

A wonderful sense of humor here and I am again impressed by Pepys’ use of music as a recreational preference.


Francoise took me to lunch today at a place called the Blue Bowl, near West Harptree. I am as cautious as they come with regard to eating out in any form but here was a good old fashioned place. What gives it kudos is that many local people come regularly as well as those from up to 30 miles away. I had a very good cod, actually there were two such fish with chips and vegs all for £9.95. It’s not often you get such quantity and quality for under a tenner. The soup was Stilton and leek and both came out of the bowl in technicolor.

plenty of room to breathe and be private

The waitresses have been working there for a long time. One six years and one ten years. Evidently they ‘like the management’. Well  done whoever you are. Long serving staff is always a good sign. One of them has to drive from Wells.
Another two Plus Points. Thee tables are placed quite far from each other so you can have privacy. Secondly there was no music. Blessed be.


We drove back home via Bread and Beyond, an impossibly good bakery in the middle of nowhere. On the table a very clever original ad carefully printed and cut out of an A4 sheet of card.  Such love and care.

10/10 for originality



Getting up late – new computer – gardening – Carnival


Saturday 12 November 1664

Up, being frighted that Mr. Coventry was come to towne and now at the office, so I run down without eating or drinking or washing to the office and it proved my Lord Berkeley.

Horrible to have that sinking feeling when you get up late. I once did that crossing America by plane with a friend and forgot to adjust my watch. I had an hour to catch the plane and return my hire car. We made it – just, and that was before the days of standing in lines being strip-searched. Since the enhanced security farce, tourist traffic to the USA from Europe has gone down by 7%


My friend Terry of South West Computers is going to make me a new computer from scratch. I will be spared the hundreds of junk software items ‘included’ in PC’s from PC World and the like without telling us and which slow up the computer. I am splashing out on 8GB of RAM which is what most software now requires to run at an optimum level. My existing computer is 6 years old. It has been running slower and slower mainly because modern programs have enhanced  requirements and also if you put new items in (new wine in old bottles) they are not 100% in sync for what is already in the box. Result: slower running and less reliability i.e. more crashes.

I know this will excite you but here is my shopping list.

Goods Shipped:
£49.99 x 1 – Asus H110-Plus Intel H110 (Socket 1151) DDR4 ATX Motherboard
£26.66 x 1 – Kolink KL-SFX250 250W 80 Plus Bronze Efficient SFX Power Supply
£74.99 x 1 – Kingston Fury Black 8GB (1x8GB) DDR4 PC4-17000C14 2133MHz Single Channel Module (HX421C14FB2/8)
£11.66 x 1 – LG 24x DVDRW SATA Rewriter – OEM (GH24NSD0)
£22.49 x 1 – Raijintek Arcadia Mid Tower USB 3.0 Case – White
£41.66 x 1 – Intel Pentium Dual Core G4400 3.30GHz (Skylake) Socket LGA1151 Processor – Retail

So  for £285.24 plus the labour of connecting it all up I have the latest up to date machine with no junk. A result in anyone’s language.

I ordered the bits from an Internet company called Overclockers. They are completely nuts i.e. turbo speed.

For example:
17.40   My order was received by them
18.22   the order was dispatched
19.36   formal note of delivery with tracking details
21.12    an invoice received
10.08   goods arrived (inserted by Ed. the next day)

I look forward to re-loading my Dragon Speech to Text software. It badly needs a large dos of RAM. For the last six weeks I have been typing these diaries using a keyboard which although I do not mind doing makes the whole proceedings more drawn out than I would prefer.


This afternoon I had a dream gardening job. A lovely client who divides her time between looking after her 100 year old grandmother who lives in her house upstairs, her husband who is having a course of Chemotherapy ‘treatment’ after the removal of a brain tumor, and her numerous voluntary duties in the local library. She is a giver, happy and giggly with it, and I find I work far better for givers than for ‘stuck’ people who are often miserable. It is the difference between chalk and cheese. One takes energy, one gives it.  The wan autumn sun shone across the garden which abutted on fields and there was no wind so speak of. Although it was only 5 deg C I had to take my jersey off.


This evening, the annual Midsomer Carnival. More or less the whole town turns out, the children have a lovely time, and lots of money is collected for charity.  Snaps of moving objects at night are impossible to take with an ordinary mobile phone camera but the enclosed will give you some idea.

waiting, mobiles in hand, for the procession
Flashing objects for sale, the Town Hall lit up
These floats must have cost a fortune to assemble. They are used several times in towns throughout the South West.
Many marshals ensure ‘ealf and safety
These are all real people who have to hold a pose for 50 minutes.
Dancing Dervishes (not really)
Ever resourceful, a Mexican themed float
Weird Alice in Wonderland theme

We fight our way through the crowds going home, to the computer and then to bed.

Listening with rapt attention – lazy reading – war


Friday 11 November 1664

Up, and with Sir J. Minnes and Sir W. Batten to the Council Chamber at White Hall, to the Committee of the Lords for the Navy, where we were made to wait an houre or two before called in. In that time looking upon some books of heraldry of Sir Edward Walker’s making, which are very fine, there I observed the Duke of Monmouth’s armes are neatly done, and his title, “The most noble and high-born Prince, James Scott, Duke of Monmouth, &c.;” nor could Sir J. Minnes, nor any body there, tell whence he should take the name of Scott? And then I found my Lord Sandwich, his title under his armes is, “The most noble and mighty Lord, Edward, Earl of Sandwich, &c.”

This gives us an insight in to Pepys active mind. Instead of sitting waiting and staring at the ceiling he seeks something to occupy his mind, namely books of heraldry.  I would flip through the latest magazines in the dentist’s waiting room or simply do nothing. Not that you can ever do nothing because you exist and that’s a full time job.


I was reflecting on ‘listening’ as opposed to ‘hearing’.

We are born with functioning ears but listening is a skill that we need to learn.  The main problem – apart from the speaker being boring – is that we think faster than people talk so there is a temptation to fill in the gaps with focus on other matters. If people hear, process and absorb 25% of what we say then we are doing well.  Do we need to consider how to keep our speaking interesting. Maybe it should be in the form of telling a story where the listener is more likely to follow a thread and hang on every word.  Question – what sort of conversation do you NOT like to listen to.

I love the saying ‘he listened with rapt attention’. That means you have their attention.  What does ‘rapt’ mean? It means “completely fascinated or absorbed by what one is seeing or hearing”. There needs to be an element of self interest if someone wants my rapt attention or I really have to care for the person who is speaking or the talk could be an exploit or adventure that activates the imagination. Putting it another way, we need to give people a headline, an incentive, a reason for wanting to engage.

There is a also the question of timing. When I call on the phone I always ask if it is a god time to talk. Are they cooking the proverbial omelette. If someone is pre-occupied they may not have any time or energy to focus on you, however interesting your thoughts.  Your intuition should tell you

I am reminded that when people say “I hear what you say” there is a ‘but’ included in it. I hear, BUT I disagree. I distance myself from what you say although I heard it.  I am not even going to bother to reply. We are miles apart. There is a good article in the Independent on the matter.

Some people pretend to listen by doing what I call the ‘nodding donkey’. This is supposed to send out messages that ‘I am here for you’ but it is mostly fake. Their eyes will dart over your shoulder trying to spot the next person they wish to speak with. I think you can actually feel if the person is listening to you because they surround you with their presence.

Do I listen to people?  Yes I am capable of it but a pre-cursor is that there needs to be a certain basic  chemistry.  I need to like what I feel and here many people fail the test. If I feel they are judgemental, self centred, pre-occupied or tense then I don’t even bother to try to engage. I need a 50/50 situation or maybe 60/40. I am looking for a certain amiability, a certain openness before I can summon the spirit to attempt to converse with a stranger. Oh I nearly forgot to mention. In the street if people are on their mobiles or have headphones plugged in their ears, they might as well not be there so far as I am concerned.

When I listen to people – yes I am capable of it if I want to – I absorb and then reply. Some are quite shocked.  They did not expect to be listened to. They are more used to delivering monologues to thin air almost as an act of vanity which may or may not be taken seriously.  I find this at social parties and pub meetings which can turn into shouting competitions. Real listening immediately elevates the conversation to a dialogue, to a sharing of minds, to what might become a friendship or liaison. Perhaps the best way of defining a conversation is to identify what it is not, its antithesis.  Shouting at a car driver, arguing with the wife when you are both stressed out,  are good examples. We come back to our old friend bona fides  or on a good day ultra fides (utmost good faith) but then you have to be a special soul for this to apply.


I caught myself being a lazy reader. A newspaper article described ‘7  ways of being ripped of with overseas car hire’. and I was about to launch in to it when I thought ‘ hang on Brian, you probably knew most of them so you can use your BRAIN to try to recall’. I jumped out of my passive mode and started recalling.  Amazingly, after a few moments I got each point. You dear reader have probably read similar articles, do you want to have a go and see how many ways you can recall?


A pause to watch the annual Rememberance Day at the Cenotaph here in London. We take our history seriously and all is done with dignity, pomp and circumstance. This term refers partly to the occasion and partly to a march named after it.  I wish we did not have to have these unnecessary wars.

<rant on>  ‘The policy of the USA is war without end’. Very profitable war, pharmaceuticals, drug drugs and debt are the major pillars around which the economy of the USA revolves. If they don’t have real war enemies, they invent them witness the whole cult of the terrorist.  The USA has only started 42 wars since World War 2. There is a list somewhere which I will (re) publish when I can find it.In other words without the warmongering of the USA there would be no wars except perhaps in the Congo.<rant off>


beware Steganography – getting people to join a group


Thursday 10 November 1664

Up, and not finding my things ready, I was so angry with Besse as to bid my wife for good and all to bid her provide herself a place, for though she be very good-natured, she hath no care nor memory of her business at all.

Such a minor thing as staff training was not part of Pepys management style. You were either up to the mark or for whatever reason not up to it in which case you would be dismissed. No allowances were made for anything save death. At least they knew if not before then certainly after being sacked.


I was quite subdued by the new from my web master that .jpeg files (images) can contain viruses.  I found an innocuous looking quotation on google and copied it over. On loading it on to the page I was unable to instruct the paragraph breaks by hitting return twice. How ever many times I hit return the whole mass of text remained as one paragraph.  If you search on google you will find the code, dubbed IMAJS. The techniques itself is called ‘Steganography’ which places the code inside the pixels of an image, hiding malware in plain sight to infect target victims.  After all, images are a lot of zeros and ones 0010010101010101110010101 could be hidden javascript , separate from the colour information.

Steganography is also being used by terrorist organisations to communicate securely with each other by adding messages to image and video files, due to which NSA officials are forced to watch Porn and much porn according to a lecture “Stegosloit: Hacking With Pictures” given by Saumil Shah from India delivered at a Amsterdam hacking conference ‘Hack in the Box’. So when you see a very attractive lady or an adorable kitten then take care when downloading (if indeed you decide to download it at all). the virus clicks into action only when the target opens the image file on their web browser and clicks on the picture.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Internet is a dangerous place. You can receive an e-mail seemingly from your solicitor asking you to change bank code numbers when in fact is the account of hackers. A few seconds after you send funds to the new account, its gone for ever.

“Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
  And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
  The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
  The frumious Bandersnatch!”

Lewis Carroll, from Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found there, 1872


Anyway, enough of the gay banter.  This morning, our Midsomer Norton mens’ group. In spite of great efforts by the organiser, the membership remains static as it was before it received a make over. This is sad but there are seldom more than a dozen of us and the occasional visitor comes and goes. Why? We are very much a niche group. Midsomer Norton is not a cradle of expressive men never mind Church of England or Methodist men. It is not ‘the thing’ for ex coal miners to come out with actual spiritual views. Now, Bath or Wells or Bristol is a different matter but I am sure that here, the spirit of coal mining lives on.

Work – come home – bath – eat – sleep – do it all over.

Growth has to be by word of mouth. You can spend vast amounts on advertising on a PR campaign but there is no guarantee that the curious will feel part of the existing group. This is one thing that Americans are very good at – welcoming people.

This morning’s talk was by a man who five years ago came back from working in Singapore with his Singaporean wife and now lives in Peasedown. He loves that country and I have invited him and his wife to coffee. People in this area do not ‘do’ dinner parties and would think you were very forward if you made an offer. Dinner would be for family members and relatives only.

The talk was on being a Street Pastor. They go out late at night Saturdays – their insurance mandates going in groups of three people – and engage troubled and violent youngsters to try and defuse situations that could turn nasty and require police attendance.  Although Christian, they do not evangelize but talk to people in a human way (remember the term?). If they are asked specific questions about a faith they will happily respond.   In the background they have a prayer group in the Town Hall who pray continually for them whilst they go about their work.

They have their own website; the idea was pioneered in London in 2003 by Les Isaac. Since then they have trained over 12,000 volunteers from local churches who play an active part in strengthening community life and working for safer streets. Our particular group was formed in 2013 with widespread cooperation from the local churches of all denominations. the images are very posed and I do not find them particularly helpful but the work goes on, week in and week out. An unglamorous job but some are led to it.


To Camerton where there was a Craft Fayre. I bought a knitted cup warmer for £1. Cakes if available are always good value for some reason (clue for those intending to move to Somerset). We were in and out in 10 minutes and went for coffee to the nearby Meadgate Farm Shop. I used to write for Trip Advisor but I can say it is an excellent place with a very good brand of coffee and the odd light meal. Oh, and they do breakfasts also.

Meadgate Farm Shop

Home and now camping in due to another weather front from the Atlantic. We are both quite happy to sit in our respective offices and watch videos. Francoise spends some time painting at which she is getting very good; I writing these diaries and doing various bits of research.


One of the things that the BBC does very well is nature programmes. I think we are one of,  if not the leading masters of nature photography aided by the one and only David Attenborough who at a mere 91 years of age is one of the most traveled people on the planet.

The picture below is from a BBC2 production about the vast plains of Brazil and how hey change with the seasons – monsoon then – apres le deluge – the dry season with wildfires etc. The film crews must be vetted most carefully for temperament and I notice they choose the cream of the cream. You have to be an expert in your field even before being considered. The BBC can take their pick of technicians as their reputation is so high.



Solitude vs. loneliness – and – stress


Wednesday 9 November 1664

A day of business for our Samuel. Read his diary by clicking on the link above.


Reflecting on the human condition for a moment. I have taken to listening to TWR Trans World Radio, which is to  be found on the Internet and on freeview/Sky TV. It is a re broadcaster for a wide variety of religious programming channels mainly from the USA and UK.  The material consists of refreshingly straight forward bible teaching in the Christian / Methodist or baptist style – not bible thumping but explanation. I turn the radio on when I get up and am preparing breakfast in the kitchen. It it on in the background but I am alert for something to jump out at me for I have learned that the ‘jumping ‘is what is meant for me to think about. This is part of my inner guidance system which I have found so reliable,  provided I listen to it of course. ha ha. Sometimes it has to be the right word spoken by the right person at the right time. Then it goes right into the soul without resistance.

Today’s jumping phrase stress is something we do to ourselves. Everyone has busy days but it is how we react to the events that multiplies stress. We should distinguish between stress, which is the tension applied to for example a mechanical system, and strain is the way the system responds.  I am under stress not under strain. Yes, most people are. Am I stressed out. That depends on me. The smart thing is to stop situations becoming full of stress – stressful as we say. That requires planning, common sense, courage. We should not blame ‘outside forces’ for what is our own responsibility. Strain may be due to inflexibility.

Second jumping phrase – the pastor was talking about the refreshing effect of solitude which is a voluntary choice, and loneliness which is the feeling of being cut off from other people and the world. Jesus sought solitude to refresh himself and to see his work in perspective. I wonder if we would all benefit from this, away from phones, computer etc and just to be at one with nature. Bliss.

Third Jumping phrase.  When people are unpleasant or nasty to us they are victims of the enemy (evil). Who gets pleasure out of being nasty? I found today’s dealings with people and on the phone much easier and I don’t take unpleasantness personally. Fingers crossed this will continue.


I find America a profoundly evil place.  Rand Paul (Ron Paul’s politician son) was mowing his lawn one Sunday afternoon when his neighbour (apparently) comes in the garden and attacks him from behind, breaking 5 ribs and causing damage to his lung.  Here is a man who gets on well with all around him. Why? What turns these people on to commit acts of evil?

Secondly I was watching a video about the fires in California and how strange it was that terra cotta roofs burned leaving trees around them completely free of fire. The maker of the video gives evidence that they were started  by high power directed energy beams.  Coincidentally, 72 mobile phone towers were burnt or damaged. Have a look here if you are so minded. This means that a coterie of the invisible elite that runs America decided to test a few new systems and burn down houses. If you think of people as ‘useless eaters’ (orig. Henry Kissinger) then that act of arson is little more important than swatting bugs.


To the local hospital to check on an inflamed big toe. The nurse on duty was a detective and found the inflammation was due to my choice of footwear. The previous day I had worn metal capped boots to do gardening and they were tight. I did not notice the harm they were doing. Tut tut Brian

I learn a lot about latest trends by looking at posters. Here are a few.

clear message but is it required in this area?

Genital mutilation is everywhere – part of many cultures – as it is a non -spoken about subject – people need to know about it and know that something can be done about it. Women can have somewhere to go and be listened to.

a niche market

A reminder to me that in the ‘old days’, remedies for most illnesses were provided by tinctures or doses or extracts of plants, which are and always have been the biggest free medical cabinet in the world. We choose to blast ourselves with dead chemical material and wonder why we have ‘side effects’. Such chemical medicaments are artificial.


garden customers – joy in work – orchids


Tuesday 8 November 1664

..So all the afternoon at my office till late, and then to bed, joyed in my love and ability to follow my business….

I am so invigorated- transformed would be too strong a word – when I  come across people who love their work. Whether it is someone in the local hardware shop, the local library, a builder who has just finished a ramshackle (to us) construction for his tools you can’t beat the thrill of human creativity.  Pepys loved his work and the social pleasures therein. He had a responsible job as administrator for the navy, apart from being an MP. No one can accuse him of not living life to the full.


Garden matters – I visited a new customer today. I spoke about her garden in glowing terms saying that it was a special and loved place and should be treated with respect.  Within ten minutes she started to tear and become emotional. She apologized as Brits normally do for expressing any kind of emotion and said that this was due to someone understanding her and her  world. I said  yes this was a common problem. You are either on someone’s wavelength (resonance) or not. A miss is as good as a mile. I am very lucky to be en rapport with my partner., So many do not, and they endure decades of loneliness  with no remission. This is a long prison sentence.

I visited my favorite customer and did 3-4 energetic hours to put the garden to sleep for the winter. The customer who is 86 was complaining of feeling dizzy. She has been suffering from kidney failure recently. She seemed to us to be more distant, and said ‘good bye’ to us not once but many times as if she did not want us to go. I hope this is not an ominous  sign but it did seem rather surreal.


Oncidium crocidipterum

Writhlington School, orchids section,  has a reputation justly earned as being one of the leading centres of expertise on orchids, all 28,000 varieties of them with countless hybrids.

The whole has been presided over from day one in 1995 by one of the teachers, Simon Pugh-Jones.  The scheme has been going for 22 years and they are now out growing the £250k building which houses the orchids in various climates.

Simon Pugh-Jones

So great is the prestige that the British Orchid Council Conference will be held at the school November 2nd – 4th, 2018.

I thought I knew what an orchid was and how it could be defined. I found such basic information lacking on the site of the school, link given above.  It is any of a large family of perennial epiphytic or terrestrial monocotyledonous plants that usually have showy 3-petaled flowers with their middle petal enlarged into a lip and differing from the others in shape and colour. For those of you who need to update your understanding of definitions, here they are.
Perennial = living for several years
epiphytic =  an organism that grows on the surface of a plant and derives its moisture and nutrients from the air, rain, water or from debris accumulating around it.  This is in contrast to
lithophytic = plants that grow on rock, feeding on water and decaying plants including their own dead tissue.

Jess, one of the pupils, was invited to come to our small gardening group for a lecture, which was given in the Town Hall here in Midsomer Norton.

Jess composing herself whilst we yatter away.

I was curious to see how a sixteen year old young lady would perform in front of a group. She has as yet no idea about ‘how to present’ and the various tricks and devices to keep your audience interested. She just stood there, waiting for our attention, and off she went. Who needs gimmickry when your confidence in your subject is so great. Her delivery was monotonic almost as an academic person would deliver a paper or a judge would deliver a judgement. I think that will remain her style – purist we could say.   (A purist is a person who insists on absolute adherence to traditional rules or structures).  She went through the Power Point presentation at rocket speed with a one liner statement per image when she could possibly have developed the theme a little more, not giving time for or inviting questions but they came anyway as people became interested in a particular image.

In future she may experiment with the value of  pausing after each slide and making brief eye contact with the audience to encourage questions. She will also learn to project her voice but I think that even with this she will need microphone assistance at larger meetings.   But hey – she did brilliantly for someone her age. I wish there were many more like her.

The above is given as a summary of what will be learned in the coming years.  I remember myself at that age being a quivering heap when asked to speak in public. My wife thought the above ‘sounded critical’ so this has caused me to consider the difference between a critique and criticism.

A critique is a detailed analysis and assessment of something. It is not pejorative. Contrast this to ‘criticism’ which is normally an expression of disapproval, and a judgement of the merits and faults of work. So, the above is definitely in the former category.

I remember when I was young I made some mistakes of presentation  in my life and the sad thing was that I went on making them for years because so I found out later my friends did not want to hurt my  feelings by sharing their observations. How I wish they would have told me because I would not have made a fool of myself. Anyway, I digress.

Jess has ‘about 50’ orchids in her own house. She has been with a group of 12 to Rwanda where they were able to donate a 3D printer, and spend some time with the local children.  Their trips abroad are to set up some orchids growing in schools. They teach them & help for the physical apparatus, microscopes etc… the same way they have in England, to help a school develop conservation, interests etc.

She admitted that orchids were an obsession and she spends all her spare time engaged in this field. Jess has been offered an internship at the Eden Project (see below)  when she leaves school and prior to university. She wants to do environment and conservation  studies at Oxford.

Money from the sale of these orchids goes to funding foreign study trips

The Eden Project has a justly high reputation. I went there 8 years ago and was impressed, but not by the crowds of people who walked, zombie like, through the whole.  I think that guided tours are a ‘must’ but there is little  space for this amidst the throng. It is a victim of its own success IMO and the prices. Wow! When I went it was £12.50 now (November 2017) it is £27.50 adult on the door, Students £22.50 wow! Children aged 5-16 £14 what!!! Children –4 free (that’s nice of them).  Two adults and two children is £71.  Now ain’t that a bargain. A generous 10% off if you book on line. One ticket does however cover return visits for one year so if you live in the area that is a bargain but as the powers that be know, most people will only be able to come once.

stratospheric entry prices but plenty to do (but pick a sunny day)

I hear that students are paid £3.50 per hour. Hardly enough to live unless accommodation is included. Each to his own.

Bath FilmFest Pt 5 – The myth of ‘Rape’


Monday 7 November 1664

Nothing jumps out to speak about. Read Pepys diary as you wish by clicking on the link above.


I am doing a garden for Judith, one of my favourite customers.  She owns a large house on some valuable land but cannot bring herself to up sticks and leave. We encourage her every time we visit as her health will catch her out.  She has kidney failure and can barely walk due to a fall.

Whilst working  I found myself having a mental rant, this time about people who claim to be raped. Scroll down if the topic does not interest you.


In recent times many women have found the courage to ‘come out’ and claimed they have been raped by this or that famous or powerful person. I can understand the delay in cases of child abuse or inmates of prisoner of war camps in Japan but I do not understand young intelligent women of 18+ some in their late 20’s and 30’s behaving in this way.  Women have a good intuition and they must pick up in five seconds flat that a man’s intentions are suspect. I’m not talking about a film mogul asking people to come to his hotel room and appearing in a bathing robe for an interview. It takes two to tango. Are women who ‘come forward ‘ to complain about so and so so gullible and naive that they somehow go into a trance state, remove their clothes and allow a man to penetrate them or do some other act of sex? At some level they WANT to take part. It’s the thrill of being loved, of feeling needed even though  they know it is a fake. Some of them deliberately prostitute themselves and offer their bodies in exchange for a real or imagined favour say in the film world. Afterwards they feel guilty and to mitigate the guilt decide to BLAME THE MAN. Of course he is guilty silly us for doubting it – but think. The calf muscles of a woman are strong. They have to be for obvious biological reasons. If women really did not want to be raped they can just close their legs. What chance does a 6″ + little visitor have? None. They could as a prelude  say a plain ‘no’ but their ambivalence and lack of a moral compass catches them out.  I think ladies come forward out of conscience. They know they were complicit. Blame should be 50/50 unless I am missing something.

Oh and I forget, what about women who deliberately seduce a man and call it rape. Again, obviously – his fault.

Comments anyone? <end of rant>


Tonight’s offering from the Bath Film Festival;

The Prince of Nothingwood

Nothingwood is the opposite of Hollywood: prolific Afghan filmmaker Salim Shaheen works with a budget of zilch and no expectation of a paying audience. He uses the stunning natural landscape as the backdrop for his homemade dramas which he then screens to local communities. If ever there was a labour of love, this is it. Director Sonia Kronlund accompanies him during the making of film no. 111, and presents us with a portrait of this immensely loveable, endearing and enduring auteur, whose only aim in life is to give pleasure to others. ‘Educational, touching and hilarious’ – Screen InternationalIMDB page here

discussing the next scene. There is no written script.

My review: this was an eye opener to see what life in Afghanistan is like. Here we have an ebullient and charismatic film maker Salan Shaheen, who loves showing off and doing as much self advertisement as he can. There was a lovely story of a 16 year old girl who saw the film director in the street and simply told him that she wanted to be in his films (110 made so far). She went to his office and he agreed.  Films are not rehearsed and filmed with one or possibly two hand held cameras.

Salim was beaten as a child for showing interest in films but he went back to watching movies anyway. (brother gives testimony)

People love him I suspect as a model of someone who refuses to be beaten and demoralized by the Taliban. They ban all images including films. there are only five cinemas in the whole country so making money from showing films is virtually impossible.   This wonderfully eccentric  man has a three story house. On the first floor lives his first wife with their six children, on the first floor his second wife and the third floor is his for social and recreational purposes. I can truly call him a character and rejoice that there are these types of people around hopefully serving as a role model for the rising generation.

even the Taliban could not stop people from downloading his films on to their mobile phones.

The Festival goes on until next Sunday but the best films are sold out so as things stand that will be our last Festival film viewing. However with yours truly never say never.

Film Festival 4 – Don’t go to court! – a nearly namesake


Sunday 6 November 1664

(Lord’s day). Up and with my wife to church. Dined at home. And I all the afternoon close at my office drawing up some proposals to present to the Committee for the Fishery to-morrow….

Surely, Pepys is a workaholic. However I don’t want accusations of ‘the pot calling the kettle black’, or ‘motes and beams’ do we.

In a structural way I have become more Godless – less observant of Sundays as being a special day –  in that I work pretty much 7 days a week. Because I enjoy it, I do not call it work. However I do refrain from turning on my computer Sunday morning though I more than make up for it in the evening if I can drag myself away from Country File. I’m a pretty hopeless but not hapless workaholic really.  Do you know the difference between these two words? Hapless is when you are a victim of circumstances, such as the hapless victim of a car accident. Hopeless is an entirely different kettle of fish. Its when you see no hope  of emerging from a situation. I am in hopeless debt. Even, I am hopelessly in love. I have a feeling of hopelessness about the future. I am hopeless about cooking.  Hapless is more a temporary attribute and more descriptive of a situation than anything else. It’s up to you if you feel hopeless about it or you could react in a hopeless fashion.


A very local piece of good news. Avid followers of my blog will recall that I offered to help a neighbour who did not care about his garden. What happens? I am passing when lo(ok) and behold, a miracle. The garden has been cleared, partly so far. This bone headed owner has actually taken notice and done something. I know my neighbour put a note in his door threatening action but in a nice way (if that is possible) by saying that the council could clear his garden but he would have to pay for it. The mention of money normally motivates people. I am glad this has not escalated.

Advice I was given many years ago was ‘avoid taking people to court if you possibly can’. If so you get put on some dreadful invisible treadmill subject to the whims and processes of anonymous people. It’s like being in a nightmare that you can never wake up from.  Avoid avoid avoid. Even if your pride is hurt, still avoid. Even if you have to go to mediation and risk meeting the offending party, still don’t. All those will pass quicker than the effect of a court case. The main winners are and always have been the lawyers.


Briana Snellgrove from Pensacola. Fl. currently 26 deg C – ENVY

So I very seldom go into twitter but did today as was looking for the female molestation debate at #metoo. I saw some very convincing footage of women beating up (on) stupid men in elevators. Anyway I looked for myself and who do I find – a nearly namesake Briana Snellgrove who is Proud Mamma, Happy Wife, Pensacola Native, Marketing Operations Manager, A Little Asian, A Lotta American. I have never heard of such a look-alike name. So an ‘a’ is all that differentiates us, but I bet her second name is not John. We Snellgroves are a special breed. There are more in Portsmouth UK than other regions for some reason. How’s that for a useless fact.


I was reflecting how little the newspapers can be trusted to report what is really going or is it a propaganda and brainwashing exercise. What do you think about this quote? Scroll down to the bottom and see who said it.

Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. The real extent of this state of misinformation is known only to those who are in situations to confront facts within their knowledge with the lies of the day. . . . I will add, that the man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them; inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors.”*

So, today’s film.

‘Sami Blood

Review: In common with many societies at the time, 1930s Sweden was gripped by racial theories on the inferiority of certain groups – in this case, the Sami (once better known as Laplanders). Like other indigenous peoples, they were subjected to all manner of degradation and forced to disown their language and customs. This is the plight of Elle Marja, our 14-year-old reindeer-herding protagonist, and writer/director Amanda Kernell captures the complexity of her predicament with exquisite empathy and understanding. A ‘beautiful, haunting film, anchored by a startlingly accomplished lead performance’ – The Washington Post. NB – contains flashing images.   IMDB review

Having been to Lapland about 5 times I am looking forward to this one.

A sobering film to remind us how minorities are treated. Around the turn of the last century the ordinary Swedish people believed that Laplanders had less brain and were regarded as animals. A very brave young lady tried to break the stereotype by requesting to be taught school in Uppsala but had to leave and return home due to lack of money. She was rejected by her own family but was given some means to continue her life and the film ends with her walking into the distance. All good films ask a question and this was no exception.  The dialogue was sparse to say the least but a gripping film and a good two hour’s worth.

Can we take another one. There was a good one about the upside of an African American Family living in USA. The cameras followed them for the best part of ten years. I could not take any more so went to the adjacent Wetherspoons for a very nice dish of Lamb Moussaka with salad and chips.

On the way out we saw another brainless USA product advertised esigned to further dumb down what is left of the intelligence of the average American.

making rebellion a virtue



*Thomas Jefferson, USA President writing in 1807.  They don’t make ’em like that any more.

Bath Film Festival 3 – being listened to


Saturday 5 November 1664

...and so with my wife to the Duke’s house to a play, “Macbeth,” a pretty good play, but admirably acted. Thence home; the coach being forced to go round by London Wall home, because of the bonefires...

None of your Health and Safety in those days then. Just watch out! Shakespeare’s play written in 1606 could as well be written for today’s politicians. The key to the main theme of the play is that excessive ambition will have terrible consequences.


Someone cancelled a garden job on the grounds that I might have an accident and she could not sleep for worrying. Never mind that I have given assurances and will not work alone. It was an awkward property in that all the tools had to be taken through the living room and up stairs but we have done worse. It was two doors away from the garden from hell, ibid. I was looking forward to it but – you win some, you lose some – is and always has been true.


And so to part 3 of our film odyssey. Today’s films are:

Dark River

Clio Barnard is widely considered one of our finest contemporary UK filmmakers, ‘the spiritual heir to social-realist master Ken Loach’ – CineVue. Set against a rugged Yorkshire backdrop, her new film stars Ruth Wilson as an itinerant sheep shearer returning to the family farm, bequeathed by her father (Sean Bean). She finds the farm run down by her brother, who undermines her at every turn as the troubled family’s history explodes into the present. This powerful family drama is a virtuoso piece of film making: ‘there’s scarcely room here for improvement at the level of craft or performance’ – Variety.
IMDB review

My review – irrespective of the details of who owns what in this down market sheep farm, the lesson is that a bad case of child abuse can remain with the victim all their life. The father of the victim had sex with her and then blamed his condition on her. Neither she or her brother could engage with each other normally. She because of her trauma and he because he could not summon up the courage – as the elder brother – do do anything against the father. Gritty and gripping.

Most Beautiful Island

‘A short, stressful, and utterly spellbinding debut that transforms the immigrant experience into the stuff of an early Polanski psychodrama’ from ‘a cinematic juggernaut in the making’ – IndieWire. Director Ana Asensio also stars as Luciana, a young Spanish woman fresh off the boat and trying to find her feet in Manhattan. Several demeaning jobs barely pay for her seedy, roach-infested apartment, so when a friend offers mysterious but lucrative employment, she jumps at it – and Asensio’s social drama begins to morph into something altogether darker and stranger. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s SXSW Film Festival.
IMDB review

My review: how easy is it to descend into chaos especially in a city such as New York. Live by the sword or get swallowed up. I will not spoil it for you but what would you do if you were a young girl offered $2000 cash for an evening’s work and no it is not prostitution or drugs. You will have to find out.  The whole was believable and as I have lived in NY NY I can confirm that it is authentic.

We are getting into quite a routine. I shall miss the festival when it finishes. The experience is not unlike Wimbledon tennis or the world cup not to mention the Olympics. I am a sucker for the big occasion.


No profound thoughts today. Last Sunday’s guest sent me a lovely text message saying how much she appreciated our hospitality. That was great but we were only doing what we normally do. We did not put on act or special show.  As my preacher of old said “The greatest gift to the world is to be yourself”.   Posers or actors need not apply.

On the topic of being listened to I feel there must be a way of creating environments where people are able to speak and feel listened to. Surely not rocket science.  More of that anon.


Addendum – Bath on a rainy night


Continued from Bath Film Festival 2 – We had some time to kill between the end of the first showing 19.30 and the start of the next film 21.00 so we went for  wander, camera in hand. We walked across town (10 minutes is all it takes) and photographed along the way. It was full moon and a clear sky. It was Sunday night so very few people were out in contrast to the crowds on the balmy night before. We may not get the perfect photograph with a common or garden mobile phone but the atmosphere is definitely caught.

a bridge with shops on (Ctrl and + repeatedly to enlarge)
patrons waiting to get into the comedy club. The full moon shines down the street.
end of the world scenario
surreal to see a deserted place usually frequented by groups of tourists.
shops for the well to do part 1
shops for the well to do Pt 2
ditto part 3
seductive colours
C’mon girls, let’s party
Expensive but you get more pile for your money than in London

Bath Film Festival 2- anxiety – web designers


Friday 4 November 1664

…Waked very betimes and lay long awake, my mind being so full of business.

How to stop worrying about things at night? The injunction ‘put it out of your mind’ is easier said than done. Maybe to read a good book or listen to some soothing music will divert the time. I reckon that trying not to think of something is doomed to failure. Eating or drinking before going to bed does not help the system to close down.  I cheat by listening to Radio5Live until I fall asleep.


Inspection of allotments today. We have five people who although they have paid their rental have not maintained their plots with the result that seeds get blown over everyone and germinate, as seeds do. We will have to read the riot act in a nice way, probably by giving a months notice unless something is done. However we phrase it, we will annoy them. If we do nothing, we will annoy the other tenants who maintain their plots to good standard. You cannot win but rules is rules. If I worried about making people feel uncomfortable I would never do anything with anyone.


This morning we prepared for a visit of a good friend from South Africa who was transferring her sales base from a high street art gallery in Bath to a virtual art gallery. We provided fresh pea soup with freshly baked bread, organic sausages and mash with home grown red cabbage, and a scrumptious orange pudding with double cream followed by buffalo cheese. She contributed a couple of fine bottles of rose wine and being South African I would have expected nothing less from her.

She talked about her new web site. I being me wanted to assist and see if I could spot any factor that would be inhibiting sales. I spotted a few points straight away to do with basic architecture and functionality or lack of it of links. As a web builder your job is to make it as easy as possible to go from casual glancing to purchase. Even one missing link means abandonment, a very expensive mistake for those hoping for sales.  I went through each page and made some ‘end user’ comments i.e. imagining if I was using the site how would I find it.  There was no stat counter so how could she know how many hits she was getting. I use which tells you pretty much everything you need to know about the origin and habits of your visitors. Google Analytics does the job but I don’t find it so friendly.

If you want to comment one someone else’s work only do so if your offer is accepted. Give your qualifications for doing so and don’t over claim. Say it is just your impression but had they thought of ……. Alas many professional web builders function in a semi-robotic manner and do not enter in the the spirit of the site. As a result it does not ‘buzz’.  Image quality is very important especially if selling fine art or promoting design. This bad habit is particularly common when the client knows little or nothing about web sites. The site needs to walk your talk and reflect the skill and understanding of the designer.


Off to Bath with no need to use park and ride as the parking is easier Sundays. Two films that I am looking forward to in particular.

Mountain is ‘one of the most visceral essay films ever made’ – The Hollywood Reporter. After the BAFTA-nominated film Sherpa, director Jennifer Peedom and specialist high-altitude cinematographer Renan Ozturk collaborate again. It takes a certain type to climb mountains – as the film observes – ‘half in love with themselves, half in love with oblivion.’ For the rest of us, Peedom’s documentary presents a unique chance to experience these majestic places. Composer Richard Tognetti (Master and Commander) conducts music written specially for the film, alongside works by Beethoven, Grieg and others. A granite-voiced and poetic Willem Dafoe narrates. 76 mins.

My review: seldom have I seen so many awesome images of mountain ranges, spectacular sun sets, individuals clinging to sheer rock faces with no support, lines of people being marshaled in order to ascend Everest. Extreme bike riders plunging off mountain tops only to be slowed by their parachutes.  There was a particularly stunning piece – a speeded up film of lava spewing out of a volcano and solidifying in a rolling tide-like formation.  Everyone was silent the whole way through.  The string quartet music was a trifle loud so I had to block my ears at one point.


This ‘is a movie about itself: the subjects are so warm and wonderful it’s a wise move’ – The Guardian. The amazing (almost 90-year-old) Agnès Varda has been an icon of French cinema for over 60 years. For this enchanting documentary she has teamed up with 34-year-old artist JR. This odd couple traverse rural France in a van resembling a giant camera, taking pictures of people and pasting giant prints onto local buildings. ‘A lovely addition to the long line of personal documentaries about French life at ground level that Agnès Varda has been making throughout her entire career’ – The Hollywood Reporter.  89 mins.

an arty crowd

We saw this in Cinema 2, an intimate venue with about 8 rows of seats and a large screen.  I love being with arty people. It makes an atmosphere were everyone can talk to each other. There is an appreciation of the abstract and the existential which is like a breath of fresh air.

My review: a delightful and vivacious 84 year old puts us all to shame who complain about ‘getting older’ I don’t know how to do justice to this film. Imagine you are living in a nondescript part of France and your block of houses is condemned. You refuse to move out. Among comes a stranger and offers to make a photo of

this is the van with a real printer inside (mut be either dyeline or high speed dot matrix A0 size

you. Then they make an enormous images of is and plaster it to the wall of your house. All the neighbours come round and admire it. The photograph has a huge power over the psychology. The woman is moved to tears (see image below).

the house owner is moved to tears

They crisscross the French countryside, finding unlikely subjects and places. They are a most unusual working partnership couple  but seem to get on very well and be united in creativity. The only tiff they had was when JP (Jean-Paul Beaujon) refused to take off his dark glasses when she wanted to see his eyes.

Agnes has a great sense of humour but one of her quotes was on a serious note which I could adopt for myself ‘Chance has been my greatest assistant’. I would slightly modify it and say that ‘synchronicity has been my greatest asset’ but that was my stick in the mind saying of the evening. By the way, IMDB reviews here.

On the way out I talked to the executive director of the Festival. She said that each seat cost £25 with an average seat price to the public of £8. That is why sponsorship was required.  They give half the receipts to the Odeon plus and office plus staff of one but still staff plus publicity (the brochure cost £3,500) plus getting the films. I was glad to have spent £140 for the two of us and was thinking of offering my services in some way. I am quite good at being a sounding board and asking the right questions.  To end here is a picture of a farmer on the wall of his building taken bootleg fashion whilst watching the film.


pictorial essay continued here

The Bath Film Festival


Thursday 3 November 1664

At noon to the ‘Change, and thence by appointment was met with Bagwell’s wife, and she followed me into Moorfields, and there into a drinking house, and all alone eat and drank together. I did there caress her, but though I did make some offer did not receive any compliance from her in what was bad, but very modestly she denied me, which I was glad to see and shall value her the better for it, and I hope never tempt her to any evil more

That’s my girl. We have had a lot of ‘anti-men’ propaganda by that master of perception control, the BBC. I just luuurve the way women always blame the man for their own lack of control. If you don’t want sex you close your legs. No contest.  Womens’ thighs are among the strongest muscles in the body because of what they have to do giving birth etc.  Compared with that power the male organ can make no progress except with consent. You can’t open your legs without knowing it, ladies. Don’t blame the man when you are 50% responsible.


Amazing how conversations can start unexpectedly. I was waiting for the 41 Park and Ride at Odd Down. Two ladies were also waiting and I picked up what I thought was a South African accent.  It was actually Rhodesian and she had lived in Australia for 10 years. We all sat in the front seat on the top of the bus – a relic of when we were children and regarded it as the best seat. It turned out she was she was an agricultural specialist who worked in Rhodesia with farmers, lectured in many countries & well versed in agriculture. Talk soon turned to Monsanto. She was a mine of information about the wickedness of this company (previously referred to in the diaries by me) and in the 10 minute journey to town, words flew between three of us in a wonderful kindred spirit way. Her friend was not so clued up and promised that she would look into it. Adrenalin flowing, we wished each other a good evening as we left the bus. What a lovely start to our evening.


I am addicted to Film Festivals because we can see a genre of film that is not available even in arts cinemas. The London one is too big for me to cope with. You pass sleepwalking figures who have seen three or four films a day. There are I forget up to 200 films in the BFI London event whereas in the current we have a mere 43 films over 11 days from which to choose. We chose 7 films. That meant laying out £140 but we were happy to do this to support the minority British film scene. We booked in very good time. So off we toddle to the Odeon, Bath where most of the films are being shown.

First up, ‘The Florida Project’.

madam and her daughter

The write up: “Sean Baker’s new film has been acclaimed as a surprising and original work of brilliance. With subject matter reminiscent of a Ken Loach drama – three children living below the poverty line in a grubby Florida motel run by Bobby (played excellently by Willem Dafoe) – and a healthy dose of American energy, this ‘shot of pure cinematic joy’ (Little White Lies) introduces us to three kids who are infused with excitement and belief in the limitless potential of their future lives. Baker’s previous film, Tangerine – screened at the festival in 2015 – was a minor sensation; his new one is a quantum leap forward.”

My comment: if this film was a quantum leap forward I dread to think what the previous film was like. I can cope with the F word so many times then it becomes offensive and monotonous. It was not a healthy dose of American energy but three feral children learning abuse and bad language from their dysfunctional mother. They were not infused with any potential. They went round causing chaos and damage. Willem Defoe was excellent but if I want to see other people lying and cheating I don’t have to go to a movie to do it. At 115 mins it was too long for my taste.

The film re enforced my loathing for all things American – the violence, the shallowness, the hypocrisy, the gap between rich and poor which is even greater than us in the UK. I had to leave the theatre about three times to get a breath of fresh air and found myself starting to get depressed or down hearted. After the film, a man sitting in the next seat said that the film should never even have been made. I sat outside and waited for Francoise to join me and we went for a walk up and down before going back into the same theatre to see the second offering. If you want to know what IMDB thought about it (the Bible of film criticism) then click here.

Number 2 film was “Ingrid Goes West”. The description “Ingrid Thorburn is an unhinged social media stalker with a history of confusing “likes” for meaningful relationships. Taylor Sloane is an Instagram-famous “influencer” whose perfectly curated, boho-chic lifestyle becomes Ingrid’s latest obsession. When Ingrid moves to LA and manages to insinuate herself into the social media star’s life, their relationship quickly goes from #BFF to #WTF.

Aubrey Christina Plaza (born June 26, 1984) is an American actress and comedian known for her deadpan style.

Now this was a lot of fun. This is a world ruled by Instagram. For me it was a warning not to lie or fantasize since one stage can lead to another on a slippery slope. At 98 minutes it was just right. The director was also the editor which explains the sharp cutting.

The actors were very well chosen and were really believable. For this reason I found myself glued to my seat so to speak. The story line drew me forwards. IMDB scored slightly lower than the above film . Goodness knows why as I found it superior in every way.

The Florida Project was described as a ‘gritty’ film. In my experience that normally means people behaving very badly. IMDB review and description of Ingrid Goes West is here.

The enlightening effect of the second film cancelled out the disappointment of the first. If you have never been to a film festival then take heart. It is fun. Everyone who comes becomes instant members of a social club. It is the  done thing – yes even for English people – to talk with anyone else and compare views.  All have a love of film so there are no class or age barriers.

Two down, six films to go.

On the way out, a glance at what is possibly the most fat inducing and unhealthy sweet counter ever. Which company conned their way on to poisoning young children in such a fashion.  No wonder there are so many overweight children who have to have their teeth removed.

Sugar bombs

And finally, another nudge towards trans-humanism. It’s coming folks.



Shepton Mallet Pt. 2 and an organic evening


See previous Shepton Mallet Pt. 1

You can tell a lot from the local notice board  Ctrl and + repeatedly for enlargement
more grinning people at a dentist surgery (uugh)
she is not showing off her teeth by any chance?
Nothing if not original
I can’t wait

If you know where to go, there is a flourishing community within this Aldi/Tesco town. There are two particular gems that I would like to draw your attention to.

My coffee shop  BA45AS

A lovely shop/community centre/cafe

We entered after some hesitation. It might as well have been part of the Viennese Cafe scene of the 19th century. We were greeted by the  enthusiastic Karen Mercer. Everyone was chatting. There is no better place to start your getting to know people if you have just moved in to the area. The products for sale are ‘fairly traded, eco-friendly and ethical’ but the coffee ain’t half good too. TripAdvisor reviews.

a living room setting is comfortable for all.
Tesco retro displays. Very early supermarket shelf. All products tested by the owner.
children’s wall?

We then went over the road to ‘The Hive’, a combination of a haberdashery, fabric centre and cafe. BA4 5AQ . TripAdvisor reviews.

Unusual but welcome workshop themes
Seasonal window display

Again this is a welcoming place not for food gourmets but for mums, friends to meet and chat over a coffee and cake. Light eats are available.Come along if you don’t know anybody and you can strike up a conversation with anyone who is there including the staff who are lovely people.


This evening, off to the Clutton Horticultural Society to hear a talk on organic gardens by a lady called Di Redfern.  This was a wide ranging and informative talk with many hints and tips – leave small holes for swallows to get in after their long trip from Africa – consider leaving dead and dying plants over the winter as eggs may have been laid on them and the seeds are valuable to birds. You do not feed the plants themselves, you feed the soil. the nutrition in the soil then feeds the plants. Comfrey leaves are rich in minerals because the roots go down deep and capture minerals that other plants cannot reach. Cut the leaves of the plants (they give about three ‘crops’ per year and put them in water. After a month the resulting bad smelling liquid makes a very good liquid fertilizer. Don’t underestimate beetles and insects and worms as they are part of the food chain. Make habitats for them for the winter. She described strimmers as ‘weapons of mass destruction’ and that if you are going to strimm hedgerows and verges make sure that all animals are out of the way. All life is interconnected.

Our worthy chair welcoming the speaker. There were 19 of us in the audience.

Although the talk was interesting, the same cannot be said of the speaker’s professionalism with regard to the photographs of plants. The projector was a manual one without a remote control and she had to coral a member of the audience to change the slides. Looking at the spec. on the Internet it does have a wired remote control but she did not seem to know how to use it.

Years since I have seen one of these

The quality of the images were very poor – they were old fashioned slides – and some of them seem to have been taken at dusk or at night. I figured that the macro lens of the camera if there was one was not switched on to auto-focus. The screen at the front of a fairly large hall was a 6′ x 6′ so we could hardly see the detail.  That did impair the visual enjoyment somewhat.
I am a detail person (polite term) but most of the others were blissfully unaware of these shortcomings.  She has been giving talks for the past x years so why not 1. get a decent camera 2. go to digital if you can 3. don’t rely on 5 year old slides.
I love coming out of a meeting into the cold night air knowing that I will step into a car and in a few minutes be at home in front of a warm fire. I tried photographing the moon but with a camera of a mobile phone, the auto focus does not know what to do so you get a blurred mess. Photography has its limits.

Shepton Mallet in words and a pictorial tour Pt. 1


Wednesday 2 November 1664

…Up betimes, and down with Mr. Castle to Redriffe, and there walked to Deptford to view a parcel of brave knees —[Knees of timber]— of his, which indeed are very good, and so back again home, I seeming very friendly to him, though I know him to be a rogue, and one that hates me with his heart.

Is Pepys being a hypocrite? Diplomacy does not imply lack of integrity. It means that if someone is in a negative state of mind you withdraw and let them sort out their situation in their own time. It is unlikely that words of admonition would change anything.


And now <fanfare of trumpets> a mostly pictorial guide of Shepton Mallet for those who have an interest in Somerset in general and  this town in particular or are thinking of living in it. Semi-detached average £221,616; terraced £170,651 and detached £272,328 (Nov 17)

This is a pictorial diary in chronological order of our visit.

Friday is market day
more detail
rules as they were in the 1950’s
cross building now
This cross was on the main road
I wonder how old this signage is
Stall holder trying not to be photographed
What can I say
healthy plants for sale

continued in Part 2,


For older people who are garden owners


Tuesday 1 November 1664

Up and to the office, where busy all the morning, at noon (my wife being invited to my Lady Sandwich’s) all alone dined at home upon a good goose with Mr. Wayth, discussing of business. Thence I to the Committee of the Fishery, and there we sat with several good discourses and some bad and simple ones, and with great disorder, and yet by the men of businesse of the towne. But my report in the business of the collections is mightily commended and will get me some reputation, and indeed is the only thing looks like a thing well done since we sat.

Then with Mr. Parham to the tavern, but I drank no wine, only he did give me another barrel of oysters, and he brought one Major Greene, an able fishmonger, and good discourse to my information. So home and late at business at my office. Then to supper and to bed.

Whatever you say about Pepys, he recognises the value of networking. Mind you, with no radio, TV or internet what choice did people have? I sometimes wonder if there was no technology the sense of community would be greater, though admittedly the overall efficiency would be much lower.


For some years now I have performed gardening work for the more senior section of the population so now is the time to summarize my advice and observations.

Where we live in Somerset it is more common for the husband to predecease the wife. A typical customer is a lady over 70, a widow, who finds that her garden is too much for her. ‘My husband used to do all that’. It is normal for the survivor, the person responsible for the garden, to have had a hip replacement, to have difficulty bending, to have heart problems, and for one reason or another not being able to perform garden operations.  I have lost count of the number of times a customer has apologized for not being able to do something as if it was their fault.

Meanwhile, the garden is deteriorating and becomes a source of embarrassment. It is good having Francoise (partner) with me when I see potential clients. She talks to them for at least 15 minutes, listening to their stories and explaining that it is part of getting older that you cannot do so much physical work. I found myself saying today to an older lady “Age is like the tide. It is coming in. Think of what you need to achieve then divide by two. Do what you can and enjoy it. If it ceases to be a pleasure then get someone to assist you”. If that does not work I say that one day I myself will become older and will need the same support as we are giving them.  That normally does the trick.

Older people feel vulnerable so I ask them what they want, then I tell them exactly what I propose then before I start the job I go over it all again and say that unless they are satisfied I will not accept payment. When the job is done I take them on a tour and tell them and show them what has been done and ask them if they are satisfied.

It is quite good to involve a daughter. Daughters are sometimes over protective so have to be charmed at an early stage. They need convincing that their mother is not going to be exploited and for this I do not blame them.

I find this sort of work very satisfying because older people do worry a lot (or is it general anxiety) and if you can show a substantial improvement, their joy is a sight to behold. It is also good to offer to return should they need you. The continuity gives security.

As  for how much to charge, this is always tricky. Some are well off and not concerned about the amount so long as the job is done and done well. Others who are living on a pension and have to watch every penny. I state a price but say that this is negotiable. I do not want to hurt their pride but you have to be adaptable. I do a bit of a Robin Hood act and subsidize the poor from the income of the more able payers.

There are few things better than being out on a sunny autumn day making a difference to someone’s life – and we get paid for it! Wonders never cease.