This is a different post from my usual style – there will be no pictures, and just the one link which I feel must be shared and which will feature at the end of the post.


It is inevitable when writing about the number 40 that there will be considerable overlap with the detail contained in Derrick Niedermann’s wonderful book Number Freak but I hope that some of the stuff I come with is new. One of the things Niedermann talks about is the use of forty in ancient times to denote ‘a large number’ in which he context he mentions various biblical references and the tale of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves – which reference particularly appeals as I am the proud owner of both a four volume boxed set of the complete 1,001 nights and a Folio Society edition of the highlights.


It can be expressed as the sum of a square and a triangle in two different ways: Two squared added to the eighth triangle number or five squared added to the fifth triangle number (note 8+2 = 10 and 5+5 = 10).

It is both double and quadruple a tetrahedral number (10= 1+3+6 = the sum of the first three triangle numbers and 20 + 1+3+6+10 = the sum of the first four triangle numbers).

It is the sum of the fourth triangle and the fourth pyramid number (10 = 1+2=3+4 and 30 = 1+4+9+16) and it is also thus the sum of third tetrahedral number and the fourth pyramid number.

Another connection of two fours and forty is that four squared plus 4 factorial = 16 + 24 = 40.


I have written about the number 40 because today is my 40th birthday and I thought this would be a fun way to commemorate the landmark for followers of my blog.


I am sharing one link with this post, from Autsim Mom, who will be visiting this country shortly. This post was first published before I had started following that blog and I am delighted to share it now.

Special Post: Baker Street


This post is the fifth in a series I am running on this blog providing a station by station guide to London.


Baker Street was one of the original stations that opened in 1863 as The Metropolitan Railway, the world’s first underground public transport system, on January the 10th 1863. Those platforms, two of 10 at that station (the most on the entire system) to be served by underground trains, are still in service today, and have been restored to look as they would have done when first opened. Ironically, they are no longer served by the Metropolitan line, which uses two terminal and two through platforms just to the north of the originals, its tracks joining those of the Hammersmith and City and Circle lines just east of Baker Street. By way of explanation I turn to Douglas Rose’s London Underground: A Diagrammatic History


The other two lines that serve this station are the Bakerloo and Jubilee lines. Baker Street is a division point between the old and new Jubilee lines – south of Baker Street is all new track, northwards old, dating from 1939, when it was opened as a branch of the Bakerloo, taking some of the strain of the Metropolitan by taking over services to Stanmore and assuming sole responsibility for intermediate stops between Baker Street and Finchley Road, and also between Finchley Road and Wembley Park. When the Jubilee opened in 1979 it comprised the old Stanmore branch of the Bakerloo and three stations south of Baker Street.

Reverting temporarily to the Metropolitan, those four platforms at Baker Street, from which trains go to a variety of destinations developed from what started as a single track branch going only as far as Swiss Cottage. It grew out of all recognition during the tenure of Edward Watkin, who saw the Metropolitan as a crucial link in his plan for a railway system to link his three favourite cities, London, Paris and Manchester. At one time, as my next picture shows, the Metropolitan went far beyond it’s current reach…


Baker Street is home to Madame Tussaud’s and the London Planetarium, both of which merit a visit.

Of course, no post about Baker Street would be complete without something about it’s most famous ever resident, Mr Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective.

I am an avid fan of the great detective, having read all the original stories and many modern stories that feature the great detective. As well as owning a respectable collection of my own, I regularly borrow books about this subject from the libraries that I use…

A remarkable recent find.
A remarkable recent find.
The great originals.
The great originals
Some of my modern Holmes stories.
Some of my modern Holmes stories.

To end this post, along with my customary hopes that you have enjoyed it and that you will share it, a couple more maps, first a facsimile of the original Beck map of 1933 and then for comparison a facsimile of the 1926 Underground Map…

When Beck first produced a prototype of this map in 1931 his superiors thought that no-one would like it - but eventually they agreed to a trial of it in 1933, and now every public transport system in the world uses schematic diagrams of this type.
When Beck first produced a prototype of this map in 1931 his superiors thought that no-one would like it – but eventually they agreed to a trial of it in 1933, and now every public transport system in the world uses schematic diagrams of this type.

When Beck first produced a prototype of this map in 1931 his superiors thought that no-one would like it - but eventually they agreed to a trial of it in 1933, and now every public transport system in the world uses schematic diagrams of this type.

Another Great Test Match in the Making


As well as my title piece, I have my usual selection of links, infographics and photos to share with you.


In spite of the interventions of Jupiter Pluvius (a mischievous deity who specialises in interrupting test match play in England) the truncated day’s play we got yesterday at Headingley was sufficient to indicate that we are in for another classic test match. Luke Ronchi, making his test match debut for New Zealand, scored a spectacular 89, and the scoring rate was lively throughout. The pitch offered plenty to bowlers throughout, but any error in length or direction was liable to be punished. James Anderson became the first England bowler to take 400 test wickets. It is possible that this will not be the only historic milestone to feature in this match – if Cook bats well he could become the first England batsman to amass 9,000 test runs. The second day is just under way, and a mere six minutes in to the day a six has already been hit – and a wicket has been taken by the very next ball. Yesterday was a wonderful day for cricket lovers – after play finished at Headingley there was commentary on the T20 Blast (20 overs each per side) game between Essex and Somerset, which ended in a tie. Chris Gayle making his debut for Somerset scored an explosive 92, giving the houses adjoining the ground a peppering.


I have no fewer than six high quality infographics from various sources to share with you…

A reminder for those who are sceptical about trade unions of where we would be without them.
A reminder for those who are sceptical about trade unions of where we would be without them.

Nationalisation RejectReligion Trickle Down Fraud Welfare Action Welfare Cuts



First up in this section, an article highlighting some indefensible behaviour and attitudes from those running a Jewish school in north London.

Second, a cardinal who has described the Irish as ‘worse than pagans’ following their decision to legalise gay marriage.

Third, courtesy of Patheos, the source piece for the infographic about teenagers rejecting religion.


My first link in this section follows on from the stuff about religion, and comes with a very impressive picture. It comes courtesy of Huffington Post and features a creationist who discovered a 60,000,000 year old fossil fish.

This is the fossil fish in all its glory.
This is the fossil fish in all its glory.

My other science piece for you comes from wildlife articles and is about a volcanic eruption in the Galapagos Islands.


My first link in this section comes from The Poor Side of Life and tells a truly shocking story.

Tax Research UK, often a source of valuable information, provide this piece about a new form of tax dodging.

Finally in this section, we come to a story from Welfare Tales which provides ironclad evidence that jobcentres DO HAVE SANCTIONS TARGETS.


This is my final subsection of the links section, and includes three items. Of course, this entire blog is strongly anti-discrimination, but these three pieces relate more specifically to that concern than anything else in this post. First up, the S*n have been hammered by IPSO over the despicable behaviour of their columnist Rod Liddle in relation to Emily Brothers, who is both blind and transgendered. Enjoy this piece from zelo-street.

My second piece in this subsection comes from across the pond bpecial neey way of Disability Scoop and concerns schools (ab)using truancy laws to get rid of children with special needs.

My final piece, again from the other side of the Atlantic concerns a large donation made to college by the mother of an autistic student by way of thanking them.


I hope you have enjoyed this post and that you will share it. To finish off I have a few pictures for you…

These dragonfly jewels were on display in the window of the Salvation Army shop in Fakenham
These dragonfly jewels were on display in the window of the Salvation Army shop in Fakenham

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This detail is from the side of St James MCP, from outside which i shall be catching the bus next week.
This detail is from the side of St James MCP, from outside which i shall be catching the bus next week.

Special Post: Russell Square


This is the fourth piece of its kind, providing a deeply personal, station-by-station look at London. The previous three pieces focus on South Kensington, Tooting Bec and Aldwych.


Russell Square is served by the Piccadilly line and was one of the original stations on that line when it was opened in 1906. It is connected to the surface by lifts or stairs according to choice. It is the local station for the British Museum, but although I love that institution this is not the main importance of Russell Square in my life. Russell Square is also the local station for Great Ormond Street Hospital, where i was a patient for a very long time in my childhood. I managed by to be ill in way that they had never encountered before. They eventually worked out what had caused the illness by discarding all the impossibles and accepting that whatever was left (a previously unheard of reaction to a bout of chicken pox) however improbable it might seem had to be the answer. I eventually left the hospital for good 14 months (one sixth of  life to that period) after first being admitted.

There are three things I remember about this period. First of all, as a day patient in the last few months of my time at the hospital, it was during this period that I properly discovered London Underground, and began to develop an enduring interest in public transport. Secondly, it was as a patient at the hospital that I discovered my affinity for numbers, courtesy of the ward tutor, Don. Thirdly, I remember regular trips to nearby Corams Fields to get out in the open air.

Auction and its Aftermath


This is going to be one of my ‘interesting mixed posts’ as John P Ointon of notesfromthenorth recently described one, featuring my main body piece, links, infographics and photos.


James and Sons had their May auction this Wednesday just gone, at The Maids Head Hotel, Norwich and Thursday was therefore tied up with attending to tasks created by the auction. I made sure that my database was fully updated with details of people who had bid online, produced a word document containing a full list of all of these individuals for our records and also made a start on the press releases.

The auction day was marred by the fact that the venue was far too hot, and for much of the day we could not open any windows due the noise of roadworks going on outside. Nevertheless, there were some good moments, as there should have been given the quality of the stuff we had going under the hammer…

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The dog decides to sample the view from the auctioneers chair!
The dog decides to sample the view from the auctioneers chair!

There were two items which stood above all else, and gave the themes for my press releases, lot 218 a gold $20 coin in a sealed plastic box which having been estimated at £1,000 actually went for £1,800, and lot 251 a Waterloo medal, which was estimated at £1,500-2,000 and went for an eye-popping £4,700.

218 251FC

One the Thursday, while prepping the press releases I assembled a composite of all the images I had of the gold coin, and I will conclude this part of the post bu sharing the full gallery with you…

This is the composite image...
This is the composite image…
While this image and the next five are the component parts of that composite.
While this image and the next five are the component parts of that composite.

218 H2 218 218a 218b 218T


First up, my one stand-alone infographic…

Hypocrisy Alert


This wonderful post fully deserves a subsection to itself, and comes with some excellent infographics, which I have included here:

View Full Post

Autistic Learning Barriers Control 2


I have gained another new follower both for this blog and for my twitter account this morning, and I take this opportunity to share her latest blog post, a wonderful open letter to a fellow parent.


Take Part Daily provided this superb feature on the possible future of wind power in the United States. As well as links to both the full post and the graphic I include a still of one part of the graphic:

1)The whole post.


Wind Power


I have three more links to share. First of all, this one from Vox Political on the DWP’s desperate attempts to avoid revealing what they obviously know will be a devastating truth. From Manchester comes this horrible story of a speeding motorist who killed someone, bragged about his speeding, and still only got sentenced to six years in jail. Finally, an important petition: El Salvador has one river still capable of providing it with clean drinking water, which will soon not be the case if one greedy mining company gets its way. I urge all of you to sign and share this petition.


Just before moving on to my final set of photographs I hope you have enjoyed this post, and if you have I urge you to share it. These last pics are all from a display in Fakenham Library…

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Special Post: Aldwych

An account of the now closed Aldwych branch of the Piccadilly line.


This is the third post in a series I have recently started on this blog, covering London station by station. the first one on South Kensington fared well, but the real encouragement came from the second on Tooting Bec, which I had not had any expectations for, but which attracted several likes (more than the place itself ever has then!). Therefore I am making my most ambitious effort of the series so far…


Aldwych, on a side branch of the Piccadilly line, south from Holborn, opened in 1907 and closed in 1994. By the end of its life this single track single stop branch had become very run down indeed (I travelled it not long before it closed). The problem was that the station did not serve anywhere the could not be reached conveniently from other stations, and since it ran as a shuttle service between Holborn and Aldwych (although there was a track link to the northbound Piccadilly to Cockfosters).

In the terms set for themselves by the people who made the decision to close this branch for good it had to be done. My argument is that those terms were wrong, viewing it only in terms of what was already there.

Although not especially useful itself, Aldwych could have been made to serve as a starting point because it was very well positioned for an extension into the poorly served areas of South East London and West Kent. This is the failure I refer to in my title: a failure of imagination, a failure to see potential.

Rather than swing the axe, Aldwych could have been changed from being a largely functionless endpoint to being the start point for new development.

Since it does not feature on current London Underground maps, having been closed since 1994, I take the opportunity to share Douglas Rose’s London Underground: A Diagrammatic History, with a shot focussing close in on the Aldwych branch…


The full map, spread out.
The full map, spread out.
The key area.
The key area.

I hope you have enjoyed this post, and I ecnourage you to share it widely.

An Extraordinary Test Match

A personal account of the Lord’s test match, some infographics, links and photographs – enjoy.


I have a selection of infographics, photos and links to share, as well as my main piece.


England 30-4 in the first innings. After England recovered from this dismal start to reach 389 early on the second morning New Zealand spent the rest of day 2 compiling 303-2. By the end of day 3 England were two down in their second innings and still nearly a hundred runs in the red. Day four saw the big momentum swing, the creation of three individuals, Cook, Root and especially Stokes. The last named scored the fastest hundred ever in a Lord’s test match. This meant that England closed the day with an already substantial lead. By the time England were all out on the fifth morning (yesterday), New Zealand needed 345 for victory in 77 overs. Two wickets went down without a run, but the really decisive blow came later in the day and was struck by that man Stokes (the most obvious man of the match in test history) who cleaned up Kane Williamson and Brendon McCullum with successive deliveries. Thereafter, although the New Zealand lower order showed plenty of fight it always looked like an England win, and the eventual margin was 125 runs.

I do not withdraw my earlier criticisms of England’s selection policy, and I point out that it was not until deep into day four that the possibility of an England win showed up an anyone’s radar. Also as an aside New Zealand won the toss and chose to put England in, and even though they did take early wickets, as such a course of action requires, they still ended up beaten.

I hope that the second test match lives up to this one (a pity that there are only the two rather than a proper series – ICC please note that two tests DO NOT CONSTITUTE a proper series).This will require England not to adopt a “what we have we hold” approach.


I have a variety of infographics to share this time, starting with a couple from people in favour of keeping the hunting ban…

FHB Keep The Ban

I take a very strong line on disability rights both here and on aspitweets and my next infographic is in keeping with that.


Those of us fortunate enough not to have had to use a food bank may wonder what exactly they provide – check this scary infographic to find out…


My last two infographics both relate to a smear campaign being run by the Daily Mail against Labour leadership contender Andy Burnham (which has naturally influenced me in his favour!)




I shall start with an anniversary, courtesy of Faraday’s Candle. The birthday girl is astronaut Sally Ride.

Having started on a science theme, two more links, the first of which introduces the second. The twin themes are asteroid strikes and probability:

1) Intro piece

2) The whole shebang


I found the result of this referendum very exciting, and I was not the only one, as these two links, one from the Independent and one from Patheos make clear in their different ways:




My last links both refer to important social issues, one to our railways and one to the bedroom tax. First of all, I thank the Liverpool Echo for this article about the much loathed bedroom tax. Secondly, The Mirror provided this marvellous article about Network Rail.


Just before putting up my final few images I would urge you all to share this post or at least the parts of it that appeal to you. My thanks to all of my followers.

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These maps all come fron the front of Harry Sidebottom's "The Caspian Gates" which is a marvellous read and a book I would recommend to anyone.
These maps all come fron the front of Harry Sidebottom’s “The Caspian Gates” which is a marvellous read and a book I would recommend to anyone.

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I saw this picture on twitter and was very struck by it, so here it is.
I saw this picture on twitter and was very struck by it, so here it is.

Special Post: Tooting Bec

Yesterday I put up a post about South Kensington, as possible start to a series about London, each post focussing on a particular station. Today I am going from a very well known destination (South Kensington) to a (justifiably) obscure one, Tootinbg Bec.

The station is served only by the Northern Line, was opened in 1926, and has two surface buildings, both faced with Portland stone, which face each other diagonally across a busy intersection. It is a ‘heritage station’ (just below being actually listed). It features in this blog only because it was the nearest London Underground station to the house in which I grew up. There were three railway stations at a similar distance from the hosue (Streatham, Streatham Common and Tooting)

At this distance in time my memories are restricted to the children’s bookshop (Bookspread) that was in between the station and our house, and the commons (Tooting Bec and Tooting Graveney commons) which were also on the route between the station and my house.

Final Preparations for Tomorrow’s Auction


This will be a briefer than usual post as I have less to share than usual (I set off for work this morning part way through a post, which I will finish this evening once I have got home.


James and Sons’s May auction (we have one live and at least one timed auction every month) takes place tomorrow at The Maid’s Head Hotel, Norwich. A full catalogue can be viewed online and you can also sign up to bid online if you cannot make it to Norwich.

As well as getting the van loaded for tomorrow, any last-minute queries had to be attended to. This did result in some good images to liven things up a bit…

186-218 Tails

These two were the scans from which most of my edited images were taken (as you will immediately observe, one had to be redone)
These two were the scans from which most of my edited images were taken (as you will immediately observe, one had to be redone)

Now that you have seen the original scans, here are the iomages that I emailed to various clients and then uploaded onto

This image and the next two are of lot 186
This image and the next two are of lot 186

186H 186T

Thisn image and the next two are of lot 200
Thisn image and the next two are of lot 200

200H 200T

This image and the next two are of lot 218, showing in each case the whole container.
This image and the next two are of lot 218, showing in each case the whole container.

218 218T


That concludes this post. I am now going to do a survey for the Autism Research Centre, more details of which can be found here. The survey itself can be found here. There will be a proper sized post coming later today…

Special Post: South Kensington


This is a whimsy on my part. While I was out walking this morning I had an idea come to me about London, specifically as a public transport user covering London on a station-by-station basis (for those not terribly familiar with me, I grew up in London), and the one the came into my mind, partly because one of fellow bloggers is visiting London and will almost certainly be making use of this station was South Kensington. If it works well I will try to come up with others.


South Kensington is served by the District, Circle and Piccadilly lines, the first two since 1868 and the third since 1906. As a destination it means one thing to me: museums. I cannot really say much about the Victoria and Albert, but the others, namely The Natural History Museum and the Science Museum are both old favourites of mine (there used to be a Geological Museum as well, but that has long since been amalgamated with the Natural History). Either would merit a visit, or if you are up for really giving the brain some exercise, you could do one in the morning, have lunch (a picnic in Hyde Park if the weather permits) and then do the second in the afternoon.

There is an underground passageway from the main station concourse to the museums, with clearly marked exits for each museum, or you can do the walk at surface level, passing some decorative wrought ironwork as you leave the station.

To complete the post I have two pictures of recent London Underground maps (actually the same map, but the second picture zeroes in on the central area)…