Sunday, June 28, 2009

Canary Wharf

Hot. I am not a fan of the heat; I cease to function correctly at anything over around 22 degrees Celsius. I definitely feel that high temperatures invalidate my warranty. At least when it is cold you can wear added layers of clothing; when it is hot as this I feel there is little you can do.

The humble Maggot Sandwich is three years old this weekend. You can see my fledgeling first entry by clicking on this link. Thanks to you for your support and feedback since.

I have been spending some time in my company's offices in Canary Wharf recently, where I took the photo above (click on it for a larger version); you can see quite a few more on my Flickr site here. Apologies for the slight degradation in quality, as they were taken through thick, armoured double glazing from the 17th floor of the building. A great view looking east across the River Thames and of the O2 Arena. You can almost make out the Michael Jackson fans queuing up for their ticket refunds. Incidentally, here is a story from the press, with some current relevance:

"In L.A, On the corner of Hollywood and Vine sits a star along the "Hollywood Walk of Fame," with loads of flowers, candles and pictures, surrounded by fans of Michael Jackson. (Pictured in almost every newspaper over the last couple of days). The star they have been surrounding all day is marked with the name, Michael Jackson. But the star does not belong to The King of Pop, it belongs to British born radio host Michael Jackson, who has been an L.A. radio personality for over 30 years. Seems the other Michael Jackson's star has been covered since early Thursday morning. Covered by a red carpet. A red carpet leading to The Chinese Theatre Hollywood premiere of of the new movie Bruno." Ahem.

I just found out that award winning actor and Top Gear “Star in a reasonably priced car” champion Sir Michael Gambon lives relatively locally – he is a resident of Gravesend. I wonder what other celebrities hail from this neck of the woods - your answers on a postcard please, or leave a comment below.

Another minor revelation – I have it on good authority that the Pope is especially keen on a locally produced real ale. Pope Joseph Ratzinger is a fan of Shepherd Neame Spitfire. Unsurprising really, as it is an exceptionally fine pint. Quite an irony though – a German cleric drinking an iconic, traditional English real ale. I would have thought he would have favoured the equally fine Bishop's Finger.

Coincidentally, the News Shopper Pub Spy reviews one of my favourite local pubs, the excellent Plume of Feathers in Park Vista, next to Greenwich Park.

Now that the sun has come out and the local low – lives have removed their football shirts to reveal their scrawny, sweat and grime encrusted torsoes, the almost obligatory fashion accessory is a can of Stella Artois, better known locally as "Wife Beater" – and not the new, lower alcohol version – it has to be the original, full fat version. For some reason the Chavs around Erith cannot tolerate anything else. I think they would probably dissolve a la the Wicked Witch of the West if presented with a proper pint of real ale. Thereby hangs a thought...

Punched tape

The photo above is a close up of the paper tape feed to the reconstruction of the Colossus Mk II computer at Bletchley Park; it is precisely a year since I visited the place, and I feel a return trip is definitely on the cards. You can see my photos of the day here.

I am considering purchasing a car; this is something I have been pondering for quite some time. My current vehicle of choice is the Bentley Turbo R (R is for road holding, due to its' innovative active ride suspension). The car, new in 1996 retailed at £108,000. A mint, low mileage example with full main dealer service history now sells for an average of £12,000. Bargain or what? The only issue I have now is where to store the damn thing, as I do not have secure parking at Pewty Acres. Any vehicle I do eventually purchase will be a toy for weekend use only; I have no real need for a car, but I do like to tinker, and am a keen reader of Practical Classics magazine. I am keen on old Jaguars, Bentleys, Aston Martins and for some particular reason the Porsche 928 S4. I want something unusual, fast, relatively discreet and comfortable over all.

Now that local radio station Time FM has gone bust, there is nothing in terms of community based wireless, other than the excellent West and North Kent Radio (WNKR), but they only are on air during the weekend. I tend to listen to Planet Rock on DAB radio, and WBCQ on shortwave, along with BBC Radio 4 on FM, and All China Radio also on shortwave whilst I am in the bath. Am I unusual in having a shortwave receiver in the bathroom? DAB is apparently scheduled to replace analogue radio in the UK by 2015, but I am most certainly not alone in not seeing this happening. DAB radio coverage is patchy at best, and the audio is nothing like the CD quality originally promised. The DAB radios use a hell of a lot of power when compared to traditional analogue receivers too. You can read more about the situation, along with some deep insights into audio broadcasting by visiting the Radio Kitchen here.

Google seem to be getting everywhere; not only do they (rightly) dominate the world of web searching, but they also offer a powerful set of web based office solutions. If you were not aware, Google Apps are well worth trying out. They are a suite of office applications - word processor, spreadsheet, presentation tools etc, but they are hosted securely online, rather than having to be locally installed on your computer.

This weeks' video clip is from the National Museum of Computing, and shows an Elliot 803 mainframe computer from the early 1960's - the machine in the video was formerly used to control a nuclear reactor!


  1. As for a car maybe you should consider a Reliant Regal, I had a lot of fun in the one I had sometime ago! ;-)

  2. Hot?
    Tis not hot Sir, well not as hot as what I keeps in my TROUSERS!
    Mad dogs and englishmen and all that...

    Is it REALLY 3 YEARS since the shrink-wrap was peeled away from the edges of the Maggot Sandwich? 'Ruddy hell, seems like just yesterday…but it still smells the same!

    I don't mind it being warm EXCEPT when it's humid then I bitch like a Heat magazine writer when the Bollie run's out. I love this weather, I think I should have been born in a sunnier climate! Have you ever considered something we Earth people call "shorts"? Now I know the idea of seeing your pasty white legs is stomach churning but you may find it cooler in the hot weather.

    Nice picture by the way.
    Bit of a "AAAARGGH! I'M FALLING!" sort of perspective but then I always feel like that once I get over about the 2nd floor of a building. I'm nervous of heights, they don't bother me as much more the fact I seem to have some Lemming DNA in me.
    You'll have to get some other shots for comparison.

    I'm not even going to pass comment on Jackson or his fans, there's been far to much media coverage as it. I will say though I saw the cover of Ok! "magazine" today as I'm disgusted.
    I do wonder though if in years to come a "King Of Pop II" will buy the remains of the Elephant Man AND Michael Jackson.

    Famous people who live locally? The only one's I can really think of is Bowie (Bromley), Kate "I'd marry her tomorrow and giver her one in the hand and two in the..." Bush (Welling, in fact I used to live in the same road as her as a nipper), Dave Courtney (Plumstead), Jools Holland (Greenwich)…um…struggling! There is more I'm sure.

    Pewty I'm ashamed of you, fancy missing the chance to slip in the line "apparently the sausage loving Pope loves a Bishops Finger inside him!".
    Crass I know but I can't help it!

    You know I do prefer a "larger" to Ale when the weather gets warm. Although I don't mind the taste of Wife-Beater if I'm in a pub I'll tend towards 1664 or the like before even considering Stella (NEVER Fosters…it's "beer" for people who don't like the taste of beer) or if at home a nice cold can of Red Stripe. Although I gotta say I do prefer lager and lime but am always made to feel like a girl when I order it. That's a question, correct me if I'm wrong but was a lager and lime a quintessentially 80's concoction? When I was a kid it seemed that was the drink of choice for adults.

    Oh just hurry up and get a blooming car!
    You'll be happier!
    If storage is a problem you've got your beloved Morrison's round the corner, they have AHRES of parking.
    There! Problem solved!
    Did you know Jackson owned a Bentley Turbo?
    Is this some sorta plan to emulate an idol?
    "Arthur Jackson - Tweed coated King Of Popular Blog's" has a certain ring to it!

  3. Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!