Electronics Watch

The post below is reproduced from my website, www.londontu.be:



It makes absolute sense to petition an organisation that spends £750 million a year on electronics and therefore has folk falling over themselves to gain custom to sign up to an organisation with the aims set out below:

Enter Electronics Watch. TfL is about to vote whether to join other public bodies in an initiative called Electronics Watch that uses clauses in public contracts to require better standards from suppliers, and funds essential monitoring to make sure promises are really kept. The decision is next week, meaning we have only hours left to make our voices heard and spread the word:

Can you ask TfL to join the Electronics Watch initiative to use its buying power for good?

For more and to sign and share the petition please click here

Source: http://action.sumofus.org




This post was inspired by Anna of Anna’s Art who put up this post about painting rocks to turn them into Christmas presents.


While I would be very unlikely to produce anything worthwhile by painting rocks as I have no talent for that sort of things many people have noted that I possess a talent for photography, and at mother’s suggestion I used this to design calendars for use as Christmas presents. Here are some photos of the completed calendars, made to my specifications by Vistaprint:


Save for the front cover which does feature a composite image all the photos used were single pictures, and with no exceptions all were of things seen within walking distance of my flat in central King’s Lynn. Those of you who follow me on twitter will recognize the August photo, because that forms the basis of my current thank you message.

Maybe you have a talent that you can use to produce presents that only you could provide.

Destruction Of Phobos Will Make A Saturn-Like Rings around Mars

A very interesting post from Cosmos Up:

The destruction of Phobos 20 million years from now will make a Saturn-like rings around Mars. Though, The demise of Phobos isn’t imminent, say scientists.

Source: Destruction Of Phobos Will Make A Saturn-Like Rings around Mars



Welcome to this post about James and Sons‘ November auction, which took place on Wednesday.


I managed to catch my intended bus, departing King’s Lynn at 6:50, and at that time of the morning it was no great surprise to enjoy a clear run to Fakenham, alighting at Oak Street at 7:30. Fifteen minutes later I arrived at the auction venue, the Prince of Wales Stand at Fakenham Racecourse. I was the first James and Sons employee to arrive at the venue. I took a few pictures of the auction lots out an display…


In spite of a few technical hitches we got underway at our scheduled start time of 10AM, and the last lot went under the hammer at approximately 2:30PM, a little behind schedule because some of the lots attracted very  intense bidding (i.e for the right reason). I am going to cover a few of the truly outstanding highlights and a couple that were of personal interest…

LOT 34

This was a file of photographic negatives of 1940s vintage (approximately 800 pictures worth – I did a count in response to pre-auction query), estimated at a modest £10-20, it soared to an eye-popping £300, the result of an internet bidding war involving at least four people.


This Prince Edward’s Island halfpenny token was valued at £15-25. We knew that it was a rare item, but obviously it was much rarer than even we had supposed. A frenzied internet battle pushed the price up to a barely believable £410. Appropriately enough the successful bidder proved to be a Canadian.

LOT 452

We had suffered a disappointment in the militaria section, with irrefutable proof that what should have been the star item of the whole auction was actually a clever fake rather than the real deal. However, a couple of items fared well. This item, a collection of Arabian/ Ottoman empire medals attractively displayed in a glass fronted box had been valued at £45-60, but internet interest pushed the hammer price up to £190


LOT 481

This German Luftwaffe Pattern officer’s Sword was valued at £90-100 and sold after some lively bidding for £240.

Our next auction, on December 9th, consists entirely of militaria, specifically badges and cloth patches collected over a lifetime by a Suffolk gentleman. Unusually for a James and Sons auction it will be taking place at our shop, 5 Norwich Street, Fakenham, NR21 9AF

LOT 504

This splendid Kelly’s Map of Bucks (actually Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire) dating from 1920 sold to yours truly for £18. More can be found in this post on my London transport themed website where it has been given a whole post to itself.


LOT 577

Whereas the bid I put in on lot 504 was made more  in hope than expectation, this item given its nature really had to end up in my possession, and duly did so. Like lot 504 it has a post to itself on my website.



A two stage process, beginning with getting the stock that was still at the racecourse (either unsold or sold to bidders who were not present to collect) back to the shop and concluding with transferring the rostrum and a few other items to our storage unit in Syderstone. This done, my colleague Andrew dropped me off in central Fakenham on his way home, and I had time for a well earned pint at the Bull Inn before catching the bus home, arriving back at my flat almost precisely twelve hours after having left in the morning.

Calling All Sherlockians…

A flag-up of the latest piece on my London Transport themed website.

The latest post on my London Transport themed website looks at the paucity of mentions of London Underground in the official canon of stories about the world’s most famous consulting detective (from whose rooms Baker Street station is visible vide The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet).


Only one of the original canon of Sherlock Holmes stories features any action on what is now London Underground, the Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans, which features tracks on today’s Metropolitan, District, Circle and Hammersmith & City lines. In The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet mention is made of the fact that Baker Street station is visible from 221B. The rest of this post is going to examine that lacuna from the London Underground viewpoint.

Read the rest of the piece at: http://www.londontu.be/sherlock-holmes-and-london-underground/

Please share widely!

British cinemas refuse to show Anglican commercial; CoE is upset

A fantastic analysis of the attempt by the Church of England to get a commercial about The Lord’s Prayer into cinemas.

Why Evolution Is True

There’s a religious kerfuffle in the United (?) Kingdom, one that probably wouldn’t occur in the U.S. According to the BBC, many cinemas in the UK are refusing to show a one-minute religious film that highlights the Lord’s Prayer.  The Church of England, which apparently produced the commercial, is miffed:

The Church called the decision “plain silly” and warned it could have a “chilling” effect on free speech.

It had hoped the 60-second film would be screened UK-wide before Christmas ahead of the new Star Wars film.

The agency that handles adverts for the cinemas said it could offend those of “differing faiths and no faith”.

The advert features the Christian prayer being recited or sung by a variety of people.

They include refugees, a grieving son, weightlifters at a gym, a sheep farmer, a gospel choir and the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby.

Here’s the commercial…

View original post 624 more words


My take on dealing with filibustering, provoked by yet another disgraceful display of egocentrism on the part of Philip Davies MP.


This post is provoked by the Downright Dishonourable member for Shipley, Philip Davies making the news yet again for talking out a bill that had cross-party support. Following on from his deliberate talking out of a bill to provide carers with free parking at hospitals, Mr Davies’ latest effort is to talk out a bill that would have made first aid training a compulsory in schools. Therefore, before sharing some pictures with you, I am going to provide my plan for stopping the practice of filibustering.


Before getting on to the ‘how’ which is the main part of this post, I am going to address the ‘why’.

Mr Davies (IMO he should be renamed Phil E Buster after his recent performances) has merely highlighted a practice which is profoundly anti-democratic and dissatisfying. The anti-democratic nature of the practice is obvious – it prevents the matter being discussed from being voted on. The dissatisfying nature of the practice is obvious in cases where the bill that has been talked to death is one you support. However, even if the bill under discussion was one I did not support I would like to see it voted on – I prefer to settle the issue fair and square rather than have it go undecided.


The first part of my suggested solution would be to pass a law requiring that all bills put to the house get voted on no matter what. Secondly, to prevent scum like Mr Davies from making such a law unworkable, impose limits on the amount of time for which someone is allowed to speak and back them up with severe discipline, my suggestion being:

  1. For a first offence a warning
  2. For a second offence a ban on speaking in the house for a set period (say one month)
  3. For a third offence, a compulsory by-election to enable the offenders constituents to pass judgement.

I reckon that one person losing their seat in these circumstances would be sufficient to deter all other would-be filibusterers. If you would like to see filibustering stopped, please sign and share this petition.


I have some pictures from in and around King’s Lynn, and also some badges that will be in our auction on December 9th (a full catalogue for our November 25th auction can be viewed here)…


Catalogue Now available for James and Sons’ November 25th Auction

A blog post embodying the announcement that the catalogue for my employers upcoming auction is now ready for viewing.


The catalogue for James and Sons’ auction at Fakenham Racecourse on November 25th is now available. Printed copies can be picked up at James and Sons’ premises at 5 Norwich Street, Fakenham for £4, while an online catalogue can be viewed here.


Yesterday I sent an email our to a large number of people about this auction, a jpg of which I reproduce below:




For the extra pictures I am going to concentrate on the silver vesta cases, most of which I was able to scan at very high resolution, but some of which I had to photograph, and because they are silver photographing them came with the challenge of minimizing reflections and avoiding the distorting effects caused by strong artificial light shining on silver…

Lot 63.
Lot 63.

63-a 63-b

Lot 64, usually convexity is what prevents small items from being scannable, this time it was concavity.
Lot 64, usually convexity is what prevents small items from being scannable, this time it was concavity.

64-a 64-b DSCN7254

Lot 210 - this was particularly tough to get a good image of.
Lot 210 – this was particularly tough to get a good image of.
Lot 49, first of the vesta cases the needed to be photographed rather than scanned.
Lot 49, first of the vesta cases the needed to be photographed rather than scanned.

49-a 49-b

The vesta cases that were scannable were these…

This is lot 47, the last lot you will see is lot 65 (lot 210, the big bulbous vesta case seen earlier is this only one out of sequence.
This is lot 47, the last lot you will see is lot 65 (lot 210, the big bulbous vesta case seen earlier is this only one out of sequence.

47-a 47-b 48 48-a 48-b 50 50-a 50-b 51 51-a 51-b 52 52-a 52-b 53 53-a 53-b 54 54-a 54-b 55 55-a 55-b 56 56-a 56-b 57 57-a 57-b 58 58-a 58-b 59 59-a 59-b 60 60-a 60-b 61 61-a 61-b 62 62-a 62-b 65 65-a 65-b

The Great Zoo of China – Book Review

A review of Matthew Reilly’s latest, “The Great Zoo of China”


Matthew Reilly is one of my favourite contemporary novelists. He writes action adventure stories in which the pace of said action is never in any circumstances below greased lightening. His latest novel, The Great Zoo of China, has all the usual features and a few more besides.


Dragon myths are a global phenomenon, and pretty well every where dragons are described the descriptions are very similar. All have four legs and a pair of wings. Although the book describes this as being hexapods it is not necessarily so, since the Malaysian Flying Lizard has four legs and a pair of wings, the latter being supported by an extended ribcage. Other reptiles which have evolved an extended rib cage for structural support purposes are turtles whose carapaces are supported by their ribcages.

The back story is that the reason for dragon myths being global is that dragons really exist, and each myth documents an appearance of a dragon who hatched out from the egg and came to the surface to see if the planet was warm enough for them to survive. Behind even this is the survival of the dragons, winged archosaurs who survived the great extinction at the end of the cretaceous because their nests were protected by being beneath nickel deposits. The Chinese located a nest beneath their second largest nickel deposit, and captured each dragon as they hatched. This gave them 88 dragons. A breeding program using female saltwater crocodiles as incubators for dragon eggs boosted this tally to 232.

The Chinese believed they were ready to unveil their great creation and arranged for a two select groups of important visitors to be shown the zoo. One of these groups was made up of Americans, including the hero the story, Cassandra Jane “CJ” Cameron, an expert on large reptiles. The other consisted of high-ranking politburo officials, who were being shown the hunting area of the zoo.

The dragons were being kept confined by means of electromagnetic shields, so it looked as though they were moving freely, while the humans were supposedly protected by ultrasonic shields that the dragons could not approach closely because of their sensitive hearing.

It turns out that some of the red-bellied black dragons (there are four groups of true dragons and one group of hybrid dragons produced from the crocodile experiment’s early days) have torn out their own ears so that the ultrasonic shields don’t bother them, and that the dragons have worked out how to bring down the inner of two electromagnetic domes, and have decided that this day, when there are two groups of guests is the day to attempt a break out.

Additionally for the human visitors, the Chinese are determined that no word of the disaster can be allowed to spread and that therefore no independent witnesses can be allowed to live.


To conclude this post here are some pictures to give you a better idea of the book:

DSCN7173 DSCN7175

The book is divided into seven sections called "evolutions" - something Reilly frequently does - in Ice Station they are "incursions", while in The Seven Ancient Wonders they are "Missions" etc.
The book is divided into seven sections called “evolutions” – something Reilly frequently does – in Ice Station they are “incursions”, while in The Seven Ancient Wonders they are “Missions” etc.

DSCN7177 DSCN7178 DSCN7179 DSCN7182 DSCN7183 DSCN7184 DSCN7185 DSCN7186 DSCN7241 DSCN7243 DSCN7244 First Evo

This is an excellent story, and although the notion of a species surviving in deep hibernation for 65 million years seems a trifle far fetched there is very little in the back story about the dragons that is actually flat out impossible – a further plus mark as far as I am concerned. If you get an opportunity to read this or indeed anything else with Mr Reilly’s name on the cover make sure you take it!