Sunday, July 12, 2009

Hiram Maxim and tweed.

Another week, another entry. This week I am updating from the Victoria pub in Upper Belvedere. Mobile blogging is relatively straightforward with a netbook computer. The photo above shows the sun setting over Erith cement works, taken from the pier. Click for a larger version.

The Rev left a comment on the Maggot Sandwich recently, asking why, if I felt so hot during the recent spate of unseasonally warm weather, I did not adjust my attire accordingly. For the record, I do not wear shorts or open footwear such as sandals or flip – flops. I find that kind of wear to be undignified, uncivilised and unsuitable – my tweed jacket and steel toe capped boots suit me just fine, even if it does mean I occasionally bake. I utterly detest the thought of exposing unnecessary flesh to the elements, and thus to the gaze of the public. OK, one can wear sun cream, but I find heavy Harris tweed has a high enough sun block factor on its' own. The only concession I would make to the heat would be the addition of a pith helmet, if only I could find one. Incidentally, I am pleased to report that the Chap Magazine has been rescued from financial ruin by its' readers. Long may it continue to be a beacon of civility in a sea of tat and scandal sheets.

Erith Riverside Shopping Centre has joined pretty much every other retail precinct in the UK in getting a “We buy your old gold” stall. Since the credit crunch and the spiral in the price of gold on the international commodities market, these stalls have sprung up like toadstools around a cowpat in a summer shower. Personally I have no strong feelings one way or another as to their appearance or the way they conduct their business. I don't own anything gold, and seriously doubt that I ever would. I cannot abide jewellery on men, other than a well chosen wrist watch. I do wonder where these gold traders have sprung from; were they previously trading in double glazing, or selling time shares? I do not know. They do seem somewhat opportunistic which ever way.

I have almost unwittingly become somewhat of a patron of the arts; this week I have just negotiated the purchase of two original art works by London based abstract artist David Zimmer. The two paintings, "Blue Haze" and "Sunrise" will be delivered to me shortly; No doubt photos of the works will appear on line in due course. David is an up and coming contemporary artist, and I feel lucky to be able to buy a couple of his early works.

I was on the 99 bus from Plumstead, back home towards Erith late on Tuesday afternoon, when four women got on the bus and sat adjacent to me; being charitable, one could say that they resembled the Spice Girls had they been locked in a chocolate factory for a couple of months. I have not seen so much wobbling lard since last time I was at Spitalfields meat market. They swore and cackled like a hair gelled Shakespearean coven – it was most off putting, to say the least. I understand that the South East is meant to be the region of the UK with the healthiest eating population; these lardy chavettes put paid to that assertion. Turkey twizzlers and microwaved chips would seem to be their primary food group. It fails me how such people can hold such forthright, ignorant and utterly incorrect opinions on pretty much any subject their conversation wandered onto. Their world views made the armed wing of the Klu Klux Klan sound like the Maidstone branch of the Salvation Army.

I see that much is being made in the press of mobile phone hacking of politicians and other movers and shakers. Advice is being freely given to avoid blue jacking and the like. I have one easy to follow and completely infallible way to avoid any form of mobile telephone compromise – don't have one. I have said this on line many times before, and won't repeat myself again - you can read my original argument here, other than to point out that I am strongly of the opinion that mobile telephones will prove to be the cigarettes of the 21st century. The risks to health and well being are only gradually becoming apparent. The recent report stating that mobile phones offer no significant risks to health should be viewed with caution, especially when one considers that the sponsors of the report were mobile phone giant, Nokia. You can read a story from the Independent newspaper here, and another story from the Times here.

Broadcaster and webmaster of the Chelmsford Calling website, Jim Salmon has been in contact; he has come across an edited off - air recording of Radio Caroline and her presenters from June 1990. I (in my alter ego, as then Radio Caroline presenter Tony Palmer) get some extensive coverage in the hour long MP3 audio file, which gives a very good idea of what life was like on Europe's last offshore radio station. The recording has been edited to remove most of the music and concentrates on the speech content (the D.J's talking, for the most part). You can hear the story behind the Belgian racing pigeons that landed on board and would not leave, the detested wannabe presenter and the tricks we played on him, the repainting of the Ross Revenge, and yours truly inadvertently interrupting the news by hammering right outside the studio window...

Click here to download a one hour long MP3 programme of edited highlights from Radio Caroline in June 1990.

I still think I sounded very young and squeaky - do let me know what you think - you can leave a comment using the link below if you so wish.

I see that Hiram Maxim is finally getting his due recognition as the true instigator of heavier than air flight; he designed, constructed and flew the world's first aeroplane in 1894, nine years before the Wright brothers. Dartford Council have finally deigned to put up a blue plaque to commemorate the event, something I feel has been grievously overlooked in the past. Maxim was born in the USA, but moved to the UK and became a naturalised subject; he opened armaments factories in both Crayford and Erith; indeed, the Western end of Erith is still called the "Pom Pom" after the sound of the testing of his machine guns that happened on the site in the early years of the 20th century.

This weeks' video has received a lot of coverage, and it is a bit of viral marketing; it is the new commercial for Evian mineral water. Personally I order a jug of iced tap water when in a restaurant, but each to their own. The advert features a large number of roller disco babies, and is a triumph of motion capture, image mapping and high end CGI. Some say it is cute, others say it is creepy; whichever way it is bloody clever.

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