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).