All Time XIs – Match Ups 55

Continuing my extended analysis of how the all time XIs I created for each letter of the alphabet. Also a couple og bonus features in addition to the regular photo gallery.

Welcome to the latest instalment in my extended analysis of how my all time XIs fare against one another. This is the first of two posts which between them will cover every match up in which the Ps come alphabetically first. They have 49 out of 75 points coming into the spotlight. There are also a couple of bonus features, after the main body of the post and before the final photograph gallery.

THE Ps V THE Qs

Close contests involving the Qs have been rare in this series, and this one does not buck that trend in any way. The Ps absolutely boss the batting, have the better captain, the better keeper and a far better pace attack. Only in spin bowling are the Qs possibly ahead, and if they do have an advantage there it is not enough to alter the scoreline: Ps 5, Qs 0.

THE Ps V THE Rs

The Rs have the better opening partnership – Rogers clearly outranks Petersen, while no lesser person than Sir Donald Bradman, an Aussie team mat of Ponsford to boot, rated Barry Richards ahead of Ponsford. Ponting outranks Viv Richards, though not by much, while Root’s larger sample size does not wipe out a 10.83 run per innings gap in batting averages between him and G Pollock. Pietersen would seem to outrank Ranjitsinhji, but the latter played in an era when batting was more difficult, with pitches often treacherous, and Ranji got no easy opponents to cash in on (all his tests were played against Australia). Pant outranks Robins with the bat, while the latter is on a par with Procter as a skipper and outranks Prasanna as a bowler. Procter outbats Russell, while the latter was a finer keeper than Pant, and Procter is up there with any of the Rs fast bowlers, as great as they are. S Pollock outranks Roberts in both departments, while Rabada marginally outranks P Pollock as a bowler. Rhodes undoubtedly outranks Parker as a left arm spinner. The Rs are ahead in batting and keeping and about even in fast bowling, the Ps have an advantage in spin bowling. This is close, but I think that the the Rs are just winning it: Ps 2, Rs 3.

THE Ps V THE Ss

The Ss have the better opening pair – Sutcliffe was a near contemporary of Ponsford and outdid him at the highest level, while Strauss definitely outranks Petersen. Ponting wins the number three slot, bu G Pollock outranks S Smith – all evidence points to Pollock being on an upward trajectory when the curtain came down on SA’s first period as a test playing nation. Sangakkara outranks Pietersen with the bat, but Pant rates higher than him with the gloves. Sobers wins his batting match up with Pant, and has no bowling equivalent in the Ps ranks, though Parker was a finer exponent of left arm orthodox spin. Stokes wins the batting match up with Procter, but the Saffa was a much greater bowler than Stokes. Stevens outranks S Pollock as a batter, and marginally loses the nearest bowling match up for him, against Prasanna. The pace bowling is quite close in terms of the front liners – the Rs are a little better on averages, but the Ss have Starc’s left arm to add variety. Also, the Ss have back up in that department in the form of Stokes and the quicker versions of Sobers the bowler, which tips the scales in their favour in that department. The Ss thus win on batting and pace/ seam bowling, tie on captaincy, lose narrowly on spin bowling and heavily on keeping. I think the Ss are winning, and score this Ps 2, Ss 3.

THE Ps V THE Ts

The Ts have the better opening pair – Trumper’s average of 39.04 on Victorian and Edwardian pitches is a more impressive achievement than Ponsford’s 48.22 on the shirtfronts of the interwar era, and ‘tubs’ Taylor clearly outranks Petersen. Ponting wins the batting match up at three, but Tarrant offers a bowling option comparable to Parker in quality. The number four batting match up is a draw, featuring two all time greats of the game. Superficially Pietersen seems to have Thorpe beaten in the number five slot, but Pietersen had a lot more support from the rest of the order than Thorpe, so I am giving Thorpe the verdict. Ross Taylor outranks Pant with the bat, while Bob Taylor was much better keeper. Procter outranks Bob Taylor with the bat, and also wins the bowling match up against Thomson. S Pollock outranks Trumble with the bat, but is outranked by Trueman with the ball, Peter Pollock just loses his match up against the even quicker Frank Tyson, and Trumble comfortably outpoints Prasanna in the battle of the off spinners. It is close with the bat, and in the fast bowling department, both sides are well captained, but the Ts have clear advantages in keeping and spin bowling, so I give them a narrow win in the contest: Ps 2, Ts 3.

THE Ps V THE Us

The Ps have an overwhelming superiority in batting and fast bowling, the better keeper and a captain at least the equal of his opposite number in that role. Underwood outranks Parker with the ball and it maybe that in time Ur Rahman will end up outranking Prasanna, but at the moment he is unproven. Nevertheless, I will concede that the Us win the spin bowling department, and allow them one big day out: Ps 4, Us 1.

THE Ps PROGRESS REPORT

The Ps have scored 15 points out of 25 today and move up to 64 points out of 100, 64%.

A BOOK REVIEW

I have just finished reading “How to Make an Apple Pie from Scratch: In Search of the Recipe for Our Universe” by Harry Cliff, a quirky account of the current state of play in Particle Physics and Cosmology. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and heartily recommend it.

CLIMATE CHANGE AT WORK

Bear in mind as you read this section that we are in the middle of November, and my home is roughly 100 miles north of London. This morning I walked into town by way of Bawsey Drain, and back by the route I use most frequently for this trip. On the outbound trip I saw a red admiral butterfly in a patch of nettles – a creature I have never previously seen in Norfolk any later than September. Then, on the homeward journey I saw a ruddy darter, a species of damselfly and hence even more out of place in Norfolk at this time of year, sunning itself (yes, a damselfly sunning itself in an English November, you read that right) on a brick wall.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Time for my usual sign off…

Matthew Reilly’s Jack West Septet

A look at a remarkable series of novels by Matthew Reilly.

It has been a while since I last blogged. I hope to return with a bang. Five and a half years ago I wrote a post covering the whole of Matthew Reilly’s oeuvre as it then stood. Two days ago my copy of The One Impossible Labyrinth (pre-ordered so I got as soon after publication as possible) arrived, and by the end of yesterday I had finished reading it for the first time. This book completes the Jack West series to which this post is dedicated.

SEVEN ANCIENT WONDERS

This is where it all started, with Jack West’s small crack team, made up of individuals from minor nations up against much larger and better armed opposition forces from the USA and Europe. An event called the Tartarus Rotation was due, and to prevent it the golden capstone of the Great Pyramid of Khufu had to be re-erected and a special ceremony conducted. West’s team had two aims: either to ensure that the ritual of peace rather than the ritual of power was performed or to prevent the ceremony altogether.

In the event it did not work as planned, and the ritual of power was performed by a notorious Saudi terrorist, Mullah Mustapha Zaeed. However, West had substituted soil from his native land for that of Zaeed’s, so Australia had the power, and West planned to keep that as secret as possible. The story could have been left there with no cause for complaint…

THE SIX SACRED STONES &
THE FIVE GREATEST WARRIORS

A group of Japanese fanatics who want the world to end undo the Tartarus ceremony, and now the world is in a high stakes race against time to save itself from the Dark Sun, to do which six pillars need to be placed at six different temple shrines around the world at specific times. All the pillars need to be cleansed before they can be set in place, and some are in unknown locations.

By the end of The Six Sacred Stones two of the pillars have been placed, and West is plunging down an effectively bottomless pit locked in battle with a traitor whose Japanese heritage had counted for more than his American heritage.

The Five Greatest Warriors features a multi-faceted struggle between Old Europe (The Deus Rex), The Caldwell Group (USA, but no longer on the same wavelength as their government), Japan, and West’s team. Old Europe and the Caldwell Group are both hunting for absolute power, Japan want the world to end and West’s team are trying to keep the world turning and prevent anyone from gaining absolute power. In addition to these major players, China is also involved, as are Saudi Arabia. Jack West’s adopted daughter Lily, a Siwan Oracle, places the final pillar at its site underneath Easter Island, and at the very end Jack West then kicks the charged pillar into the abyss to ensure that his wicked father, Jack West senior cannot use it to rule the world as a dictator. West the elder dies in the final scene. This, like the end of the first book could have been the end of the story, and for some years it seemed like it would, but after a lapse of eight years the series changed course in a big way, starting with…

THE FOUR
LEGENDARY KINGDOMS

This book, and with it the second half of the series, starts with West being abducted and forced to take part in the Great Games of the Hydra, which will decide the fate of the universe. This book reveals the existence of four ‘shadow Kingdoms’ which in reality rule the entire world. West is fighting on behalf of the Kingdom of Land, with the other three being the Kingdom of the Sea, the Kingdom of the Sky and the Underworld. At the semi-final of the games West finds himself in a duel to the death with Shane Schofield, also known as The Scarecrow. Scarecrow, knowing that West is more important than him, and also remembering the circumstances of Caesar Russell in one of his own previous adventures puts on a show but has every intention of being seen to be killed by West, and is. West duly wins, then wins the final as well, and finally correctly works out how to handle Cerberus to win the Great Games. West then manages to save Scarecrow as well. Also West sets the scene for the events of the last three novels by refusing to countenance one person ruling the world as dictator.

THE THREE SECRET CITIES &
THE TWO LOST MOUNTAINS

These two books build up for the finale. Aloysius Knight rescues West from incarceration in the world’s most secure jail, Erebus. Also escaping at the same time is Rastor, a Serbian general who wants the world to end, while various groupings associated with the shadow kingdoms and with the catholic church are also still very much involved. By the end of The Two Lost Mountains we are entering the final labyrinth, and four major players with differing goals are all still very much in the game.

THE ONE
IMPOSSIBLE LABYRINTH

The final installment begins with West’s team in three parts, one in quest of the bell which will reawaken those sent to sleep by the siren bells (very large numbers, part of Hardin Lancaster’s scheme to remake the world with himself in sole power), one keeping tabs on those shadow royals not directly involved in the quest, and one in the labyrinth. At times it seems like most of West’s team have been killed, but they survive somehow. The book and the series ends with a lengthy epilogue which takes things to a point from which everyone can be expected to live happily after. This is a fantastic series, and I have enjoyed seeing it change and develop, one from one book, to three, to a final seven.

All Time XIs – The Literary Clash

Today’s all time XI cricket themed post uses fictional characters for its inspiration. Also featured are #NHSPayRise and #BlackLivesMatter.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to another variation on an ‘all time XI‘ cricket theme. Today I pit two XIs whose players share names with characters from fiction against each other.

ROLY JENKINS’ XI

  1. Arthur Morris – left handed opening batter. 46 test matches yielded him 3,533 runs at 46.48, and Don Bradman rated him the best left handed opener he ever saw. King Arthur has been fictionalized by many writers, arguably beginning with Geoffrey of Monmouth. In primary school I read “Swords and Circles” by Rosemary Sutcliff, and almost equally long ago I first read “The Once and Future King” by TH White, but it is particularly Stephen Lawhead’s “Pendragon” series that I wish to flag up.
  2. Alec Stewart – right handed opening batter. I have commented on his success in this specific role before. The literary connection is to Alan Breck Stewart, who features in two of Robert Louis Stephenson’s novels.
  3. Jimmy Sinclair – right handed batter, occasional medium pacer. He registered the first test century for South Africa. His literary alter ego is Sabrina Sinclair, the female lead in Magda Josza’s “Sherlock Holmes and the Femmes Fatales”, the sequel to “The Private Diaries of Doctor Watson”.
  4. Eoin Morgan – left handed batter. England’s current One Day International captain. One of Colleen McCullough’s novels is titled “Morgan’s Run”, and the Morgan in question is Eoin’s literary alter ego for this purpose.
  5. Jamie Dalrymple – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. When he first appeared on the first class scene big things were expected of him, but he ended with a respectable rather than genuinely outstanding record. His alter ego is Carola Dunn’s series character Daisy Dalrymple.
  6. Ben Stokes – left handed batter, right arm fast bowler. He was already established as one of England’s finest before 2019, but his deeds that year moved him into the category of all time greats. His literary connection is a slightly convoluted one involving Thomas Hardy’s “Tess of the D’Urbervilles”. Unlike Tess, who is a direct descendant of the real D’Urbervilles the villain of the story, Alec D’Urberville owes his surname to his grandfather, Simon Stokes, who changed his name by deed poll and purchased a coat of arms to back it up.
  7. *Roly Jenkins – leg spinner, right handed batter. 386 first class matches brought him 10,073 runs at 22.23 and 1,309 wickets at 23.64. His problem with the bat was a failure to convert fifties to hundreds – he reached 50 on 41 occasions, but only once went on to the hundred. He has a part share in a first class record: in a match between Worcestershire and Scotland the county’s keeper Hugo Yarnold accounted for six Scotland second innings wickets in a row – all stumped! Four of those six stumpings were effected off the bowling of Jenkins. His literary namesake is Tilly Jenkins of Mandy Morton’s “No2 Feline Detective Agency” series of novels. Tilly Jenkins is one of the two detectives in said agency, along with Hetty Bagshaw.
  8. +Godfrey Evans – wicket keeper, right handed batter. He played 95 test matches, scoring 2,439 runs at 20.49, taking 173 catches and making 46 stumpings. While in his 465 first class appearances he scored 14,882 runs at 21.22, took 816 catches and made 250 stumpings. Bradman named him as England wicket keeper in “Bradman’s Best Ashes Teams”. His literary alter ego is ‘Killer’ Evans, villain in “The Adventure of the Three Garridebs”, one of the stories that appears in the collection “The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes”, the fifth and last book of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes short stories.
  9. Percy Jeeves – right arm fast medium bowler, useful lower order batter. 50 first class matches brought him 1,204 runs at 16.05 and 199 wickets at 20.03. He took 12 five wicket hauls, with a best of 7-34, and achieved one ten wicket match. He is not merely a namesake of famous fictional character, his performance for Warwickshire v Gloucetsreshire at Cheltenham, witnessed by PG Wodehouse, actually inspired the naming of Jeeves the valet.
  10. Edwin Tyler – left arm orthodox spinner. A one-cap wonder for England, against South Africa at Cape Town in 1896 – he took four wickets at 16.25 in that sole international appearance. His 185 first class appearances brought him 895 wickets at 22.09, with 77 five wicket innings hauls and 22 10 wicket matches. His best innings figures were 10-49, the first all-ten by a Somerset bowler. He gets in on a childhood memory – at primary school one of the books I read was Gene Kemp’s “The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tiler”.
  11. William Mycroft – left arm fast bowler. 138 first class appearances yielded him 863 wickets at 12.09, with 87 five wicket innings hauls and 28 10 wicket matches. His namesake is of course Mycroft Holmes, elder brother of Sherlock, who appears twice in the original Holmes stories, with a mention in a third (“The Greek Interpreter”, “The Bruce-Partington Plans”, and a walk on role in “The Final Problem”) and many times in pastiche/ new Holmes stories by other authors.

This team has a respectable batting order, and a strong bowling line up, with Mycroft and Jeeves likely to share the new ball, Stokes third seamer, Jenkins and Tyler as front line spinners and Dalrymple as sixth bowler.

PETER MAY’S XI

  1. Bobby Abel– right handed opening batter. 13 test match appearances yielded him 744 runs at 37.20, with two centuries and a best of 132 not out. In all first class cricket he scored 33,128 runs at 35.46, with 74 centuries, including the Surrey individual record 357 not out. His literary namesake is Abel Whittle who appears in Thomas Hardy’s “The Mayor of Casterbridge.”
  2. Vince Wells – right handed opening batter, occasional medium pacer. He once scored three double centuries in the same season for Leicestershire, but typically his England call up did not occur during this purple patch, but a little later in his career. He ended with 9,314 first class runs at 32.79 and 302 wickets at 26.22. He owes his place here to being a namesake of Daisy Wells, president of the Wells & Wong Detective Society from Robin Stevens’ “Murder Most Unladlylike” series.
  3. *Peter May – right handed batter, captain. In a difficult decade for batting, the 1950s, he averaged 46.77 in test cricket, captaining his country 41 times along the way. His literary namesake is John May of the Peculiar Crimes Unit, the May of Christopher Fowler’s “Bryant and May” series of novels. Another May, John’s grand-daughter April, also appears in those books.
  4. Willie Watson – left handed batter. The only person to have played in a football world cup and for England in test cricket. His most famous innings was his five and three quarter hour century at Lord’s in 1953 which helped England to a draw, the full value of which was brought home at The Oval in the final match of the series when England’s victory secured them the Ashes for the first time since surrendering them in 1934. In his 468 first class matches he scored 25,670 runs at 39.86 with a best of 257. He is of course namesake of Dr John H Watson, narrator of the original Holmes stories.
  5. Toby Colbeck – right handed batter. He played 32 first class matches between 1905 and 1913-4, in which he scored 1,368 runs at 24.87, with three centuries, and a best of 175 not out. I would not normally select someone with a record of this nature, even given the allowances that can be made for him, but I was willing to stretch a point to be able to include a namesake of Inspector Robert Colbeck, aka The Railway Detective, star of a series of novels by Edward Marston. I have given these books coverage elsewhere on this blog (here, here and here).
  6. Vic Wilson – left handed batter, brilliant close fielder. 502 first class matches brought him 21,650 runs at 31.33 and also 549 catches in the field. He was the first professional to be officially appointed as captain of Yorkshire. His literary alter ego is Daniel Wilson, one of the two stars of Jim Eldridge’s ‘Museums’ series of murder mysteries (“Murder at the Fitzwilliam Museum”, “Murder at the Ashmolean”, “Murder at the British Museum”, and one that I have yet to read, ‘Murder at the Manchester Museum’) – the other being Abigail Fenton.
  7. +Jock Cameron – wicket keeper, right handed batter. 26 test appearances brought him 1,239 runs at 30.21, with 39 catches and 12 stumpings. In all first class cricket he made 107 appearances, scoring 5,396 runs at 37.47, and took 155 catches and made 69 stumpings. He once took 30 in an over from the great Hedley Verity, an onslaught that got the bowler some ‘Yorkshire brand sympathy’ from keeper Arthur Wood “tha’s got ‘im in two minds Hedley, he doan’t know whether t’hit thee for fower or six.” His position in this line up is by way of a nod to Cassandra ‘CJ’ Cameron, hero of Matthew Reilly’s “The Great Zoo of China”, with an acknowledgement also to the journalistic couple Pete and Alison Cameron in “Ice Station” by the same author.
  8. Johnnie Clay – off spinner, useful lower order batter. He played for Glamorgan when they were promoted to first class status in 1921, and was still in the team when they won their first county championship in 1948! He played 373 first class matches, taking 1,317 wickets at 19.76 each with 105 five wicket innings hauls and 28 10 wicket matches, and scored 7,186 runs at 15.45, with two first class hundreds. His literary analogue is John Clay, villain of “The Red Headed League”, who also appears in “Sherlock Holmes and the Femmes Fatales” as partner of Sabrina Sinclair’s sister, in Hugh Ashton’s novel “The Darlington Substitution”, and also one of Ashton’s collections of short stories, presented as an autobiography.
  9. Frank Holmes Tyson – right arm fast bowler. A meteor who blazed through the cricketing skies in the 1950s, he played 17 test matches, taking 76 wickets at 18.56 and being the star of the 1954-5 Ashes, and also scoring 230 runs at 10.95. He played 244 first class matches in all, taking 767 wickets at 20.89 and scoring 4,103 runs at 17.09. I have given his full name including middle name, because of course it is that middle name of Holmes that gets him in here.
  10. Joel Garner – right arm fast bowler. A magnificent servant of Barbados, Somerset and the West Indies down the years. 58 test match appearances saw him capture 259 wickets at 20.97 and score 672 runs at 12.44. His total first class record was 214 matches, 881 wickets at 18.53 and 2,964 runs at 16.74. His literary namesake is Paul D Garner, from Toni Morrison’s “Beloved”.
  11. Shannon Gabriel – right arm fast bowler. 45 test matches have yielded him 133 wickets at 30.63, with a best of 8-62. In all first class cricket he has played 103 matches, taking 289 wickets at 29.67. His literary alter ego is Gabriel Oak, the shepherd in Thomas Hardy’s “Far From The Madding Crowd”

This team has a strong top four, Colbeck at five, Wilson a respectable six, a keeper who can really bat and four fine bowlers. There is a shortage of spin options, with only Clay available in that department, but Tyson, Garner and Gabriel look a fearsome trio of quick bowlers (I suggest Tyson and Garner with the new ball, Gabriel on when Tyson needs a breather).

THE CONTEST

Both squads have strengths and weaknesses. I think that the presence of the genuine all rounder in Ben Stokes just tips the odds in favour Roly Jenkins’ XI but I would expect it to be close.

NHS POSTER COURTESY OF 38 DEGREES

A little while back I signed up to get a free poster from 38 degrees calling for NHS workers to be given a pay rise, and it arrived in today’s post and is now on display in my front window. Regular readers of this blog will know that I have been through a very serious illness, and my experiences then have served only to underline the extent to which I value our NHS (see the posts you find following this link), and it is long past time they received a pay rise. Their efforts during this pandemic have been amazing.

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The window I chose, the most prominent I have.

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A close up of the poster.

LINK AND PHOTOGRAPHS

Maureen Fitzsimmons has produced an excellent twitter thread on what the #BlackLivesMatter protests have accomplished thus far, the beginning of which is screenshotted below – click to view full thread:

Fitzsimmons

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Literary Clash
The teams in tabulated form.

Not Weird, Just Limited Edition: Inside the Autistic Mind – Book Review

My review of Not Weird, Just Limited Edition: Inside the Autistic Mind. I urge you to all to buy copies of this fabulous little book.

INTRODUCTION

You may remember that a couple of posts ago on here I mentioned a new book about Autism titled “Not Weird, Just Limited Edition: Inside the Autistic Mind”. Well the copy of that book that I ordered arrived yesterday, and now it is time for a quick review.

A LITTLE GEM OF A BOOK

The book, written by Faye Flint, who was diagnosed as autistic only at the age of 27 (regular readers of this blog will recall that I was 31 when I got my own diagnosis, so this is a situation that is more than a little familiar to me). It is 108 pages long, with the text very generously spaced. Each page is a separate event, recording a particular thought or train of thought, and each is beautifully clear, and for obvious reasons many are instantly recognizable to me. If you are autistic yourself, or know/ are related to someone autistic, or even just have an interest in autism this book, written as it is by someone who is actually autistic is an absolute must read. I am going to share some of my personal favourites (I have selected six out of 108 pages to quote – and the quotes will be indented and italicised to set them apart from my own writing:

First, page 31:

I was a child with Asperger’s.
I will remain an adult with Asperger’s.

Page 45:

No, I won’t ‘grow out’ of my Asperger’s.
Asperger’s is who I am.
But I have lived with myself for 30 years.
I have learned how to manage myself.
To be able to fit into society more appropriately.

Page 49 (I am bolding as well as italicising this one for reasons that should become obvious):

“But you don;t seem like my friend’s son who is autistic?”
Ahh, well maybe that’s because…
I am a grown autistic woman,
Not a 7 year old autistic child.
Yes, there really is a difference.

Page 64:

No, my Asperger’s cannot be cured.
Nor would I want it to be.
This took me a long time after such a late diagnosis.
However,
It has made me, me.
And I kind of like me.
In fact,
Many people say my ‘differences’ are what they love most!

Page 69 (another one that I chosen to bold as well as italicise)

Just ask.
If you want to know about the spectrum,
Ask someone who is on it!
We aren’t offended.
If anything,
It makes us happy that you care enough to want to learn.
There is nobody better to ask,
Than someone who goes through it,
Every.
Single.
Day.

Finally, page 81:

I promise I am listening to you.
But my brain has 2,644 other tabs open right now.
It is very distracting.

The book is available in paperback or on kindle (click here to order).

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The front cover

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The back cover.

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Two Developments

An account of two staging posts on my journey back to health and fitness, plus a few links and plenty of photographs.

INTRODUCTION

This post details a couple of staging posts on my recovery from the cancer that almost killed me at the back end of last year that occurred on Thursday and yesterday respectively. I end this introduction with a mini-challenge – below is a photograph of mine with all the colour removed – can you identify the butterfly in it? (answer located in the photographs at the end of this piece).

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THURSDAY: THE SIGNATURE DISH

Due to my illness and the fact that this requires over an hour of cooking time I had not done it in about a year, but, emboldened by my all-clear on Monday and generally improving state of health I had resolved to try it. I obtained most of the necessary ingredients by way of an online Sainsbury’s shop, delivery arranged for 3-4PM on Thursday. However, I realized that I had forgotten to order lemons and went across the road to the local shop to buy them (annoyingly they came packaged in plastic – ugh!!). I could simply refer you to my first ever blog post and leave it at that, but I am going to describe the process as it occurred.

Just after 5PM I squeezed the lemons (four of them), assembled my extra flavourings (two teaspoons ground cumin, one tea spoon ground coriander, one and a half teaspoons salt), and measured out 150mls of water. Then I prepared the ginger paste by chopping half a ginger root into chunks, adding a little water and whizzing them in my mini-blender until the mixture was paste-like. After that I started cooking the chicken thigh fillets in the pot I would be assembling everything in for the final stage (a minor irritation – there were five of them, when six what have been a much better number). While the chicken was cooking I chopped the stalks off the fresh coriander (a 100g bunch) and then chopped half a head of garlic as small as I could manage. Once the chicken was golden on both sides I placed it in a bowl and covered that bowl with a plate. Then I put the garlic in the pot and stirred it while it cooked for a minute, before adding the ginger paste and stirring the mixture together. Then I added the fresh coriander and extra flavourings to the mix, stirring it all together for about another minute before adding the chicken and associated liquid from the bowl. Then I added the lemon juice and water, and stirred again. At this point I turned the heat up for long enough to get the mixture bubbling, turned it down again and put the lid on the pot. I then left it for 15 minutes to pick up flavour (my evening carer arrived at this point and was impressed by my efforts). A quick taste of the mixture confirmed that I had not lost my touch, and I then started the water boiling for the pasta accompaniment (the original recipe from which I created my version stipulates rice as the accompaniment, but it works at least as well with pasta and the latter is easier to cook). Once the pasta was cooked it was ready to eat, and I served myself two of the thigh fillets, and spooned a decent quantity of the juices over my pasta. It was an excellent supper, and I shall eat the rest of it tonight.

SATURDAY – TO TOWN AND
BACK UNDER MY OWN STEAM

I had arranged to have lunch in town with my aunt, and had decided to use the occasion to test out my improved health by walking there (and, I hoped, back). We had arranged to meet up at 1PM outside the Lynn Restaurant. My music session (at the Discovery Centre, which from the point of view of the walk to town is effectively the same as starting from my bungalow) ended at 12:15PM, which left me 45 minutes to reach my destination, and I had some library books with me – my plan was to take a view at the train station as to whether to divert to the library to return them or take the more direct route to my destination. When I checked the time at the station there were 20 minutes remaining, which was enough for a quick call at the library to return the books. I duly arrived outside the Lynn restaurant dead on 1PM. My aunt suggested a new restaurant which had opened up where Top Shop used to be, but when we got there it turned out that we would have a long wait for our food, so we reverted to the Lynn Restaurant. The meal was excellent, and at the end of it I felt strong enough to make the return journey on foot, and again went by way of the library to take some more books out.

I was very tired by the time I arrived home, but for the first time since becoming ill I had walked to and from the Town centre unassisted.

CODA: THIS MORNING

This morning once my carer had called I went out for a walk, and emboldened by yesterday, I went to The Walks, heading as far as the Vancouver Garden, where the bandstand is located, before returning by a different route – taking the path the St John’s Walk, and then heading along Tennyson Avenue, crossing the main road at the lights and taking a cut through to Columbia Way that I have known for some time although not used in a while – it involves several short sections of firm but unsurfaced road which can be traversed in one by a pedestrian but not by a motorist.

LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

I have a few links to share before we get to my usual sign off:

Now for my usual sign off…

P1260119 (2)
Four shots from music

P1260120 (2)P1260122 (2)P1260123 (2)P1260124 (2)

P1260125 (2)
Three shots from the new restaurant.

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P1260127 (2)
Four shots from the Lynn Restaurant

P1260128 (2)

P1260129 (2)
The door to the hobbit quarters!

P1260131 (2)P1260134 (2)P1260135 (2)P1260136 (2)P1260136 (3)

P1260136 (4)
The butterfly featured in the intorduction to this post – a red admiral.

P1260137 (2)P1260138 (2)

P1260139 (2)
A painted lady.

P1260140 (2)P1260141 (2)P1260143 (2)P1260144 (2)P1260145 (2)P1260146 (2)

P1260149 (2)
When the sun catches them at the right angle the feathers on a magpie’s back look blue rather than black.

My Third Admission to Addenbrookes

A detailed account of my third admission to Addenbrookes.

INTRODUCTION

As promised in my previous post I am now going to give a full account of my most recent admission to Addenbrookes. 

THE BUILD UP

Although I was admitted on a Sunday this story begins with the Friday (January 25th) before. That day I felt very tired and not really able to do anything, but hoped that a quiet day would see things improve because I was not feeling ill as such. I only managed to eat half of my sausage and chips supper that evening, and was still very tired and downbeat the following day. That Saturday evening I had supper at my aunt’s house but got very tired indeed, and by the following morning I was effectively not functioning at all. 

THE READMISSION

On Sunday afternoon my aunt drove me down to Addenbrooke’s for an emergency readmission. Two possible causes of the problem emerged as front runners very quickly – a lung infection or a delayed reaction to the Bleomycin. My breathing was at a dangerously low level, and I was on a high dose of extra oxygen for a whole week, before it was halved, and then, on my eighth day as an in-patient removed altogether.

I was moved up to the very familiar surroundings of Ward D9, having been allocated bed 13 (a sensible choice, as it is in a small room with just three other beds and the arrangements are such as to provide a measure of privacy.

OCCUPYING MYSELF AS A PATIENT

My father made several trips to Cambridge Central Library to get me books to read in my hospital bed (focussing on science – my brain is functioning pretty well at the moment, and low oxygen levels not withstanding I was overall feeling not too bad). I had also been equipped with puzzle books, and I devoted some time to planning future writing in between these activities. 

This developed into a plan for a series of cricket posts in the course which I plan to write about 100 cricketers who mean a lot to me. I have divided my cricketers into nine XIs and one player to round out the 100 at the end. Within that division I have subdivided each 11 into parts to be covered in individual posts. The plan is for the 1st and 100th cricketers to get individual posts to themselves (and #cricketer 1 in the list habitually bats at no 1 in the order, being a choice that suits my purpose in several ways).

I also received a postcard from family in Sweden while I was in hospital, which came with a nice little extra:

P1210658

A Sweden 2019 stamp – I love that fish.

AWAITING DISCHARGE

From Monday morning (three days ago) onwards I was basically waiting to be discharged. I had fully accepted, especially given that this was my second emergency readmission in quite a short space of time, that I could not be discharged until a care package was in place for me. Nevertheless, it was difficult to retain patience when eager to be back home and when particularly wanting to be out in time to attend a certificate presentation. For a while at least I will be needing regular professional attention because my autism causes me not to realise how seriously things can be going wrong (e.g a general feeling of fatigue that turns out to be a lung infection making itself felt), and frankly I am no keener than anyone else on the notion of further readmissions to Addenbrookes, though I will of course be visiting as an outpatient for a considerable time to come. 

HOME AGAIN

At last, just after 7PM yesterday, I arrived home and was able to start settling myself back into home life. I am on antibiotics for the lung infection, anabolic steroids and various other medications. Also, I am wearing compression stockings on my legs as a safety device (the swelling in the left leg has now definitely gone, and with it the pain I was experiencing in that area, but I will retain the stockings until told otherwise). 

Book Review: The Mitford Murders

A review of “The Mitford Murders” by Jessica Fellowes.

INTRODUCTION

I was in King’s Lynn Library on Friday when I saw a copy of this book, by Jessica Felloweson the shelves and decided to take a punt. The fact that today is the following Monday and I am posting this review gives a clue as to what I made of the book.

THE SETUP OF THE BOOK

This book is based on a real life murder, that of Florence Nightingale Shore,  god-daughter of “The lady with the lamp” and like her famous godmother a war-time nurse. At the heart of the story is a fictionalised account of goings on in the aristocratic Mitford Family. The heroine is Louisa, who takes a job in the household helping to look after the children. Crucial to the development of the story is the friendship she forms with Nancy, the eldest of the Mitford children (16 when the story opens to Louisa’s 18). 

Spanning just over two years, and taking in two countries the story is developed with expert touch, and the revelation of the true murderer is a gobsmacker.

This is a splendid story, combining its other merits with giving a panoramic view of immediate post WW1 life, covering the full range of society.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

I understand that a second book in the series is due soon, and I say “Bring it on”. I follow that by saying that if you see a book with Jessica Fellowes’ name on the cover you should definitely pick it up. Rating *****.

Mitford Murders

 

A Three Day Auction Extravaganza

An account of James and Sons’ April auction – very successful overall, and to my immense relief free of any technical issues.

INTRODUCTION

This week saw James and Sons’ April auction, a three day affair on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Overall it was very successful, with a couple of disappointments, but lots of sales. 

DAY 1: SPORTING MEMORABILIA, BOOKS AND EPHEMERA

In order to avoid being rushed during the preliminaries I caught the first bus of the morning, and got to the shop at 7:10AM. I attended to an urgent query first thing, and then it was time to complete the IT setup. To my great relief there were no hitches at all, and everything was in working order. During this period the auctioneer also briefed me about the May auction, and what was required in terms of imaging a very large quantity of military badges. In view of this I decided that I would have to leave some of the railway photographs unimaged, although it was a necessity from an ethics point of view to image lots 1203-12 as I was intending to buy a couple from that range, and it would not do for there to be any suggestion of influencing things in my favour by not making images available to the public. 

We got underway bang on schedule at 10AM, and while there were no headline making prices a decent quantity of the sporting memorabilia did sell. Then came some books, and a few big sales. Lot 260 had an estimate of £50-75 but vigorous internet bidding pushed the final price up to £220.

260
Lot 260 – old and rare, and a big hit (two images)

260-a

Willie Hoppe’s “Thirty Years of Billiards”, lot 279, was in with an estimate of £20-30, but caught the eyes of online bidders to such an extent that the final hammer price was £180!

279
Lot 279 (three images)

279-a279-b

Less dramatically, lot 282, Levi Riso’s “Billiards in a Lighter Vein” had an estimate of £15-20 and actually fetched £30.

282
Lot 282 (two images)

282-a

Lot 302 had an estimate of £10-20 and went for £30.

302
Lot 302 (three images).

302-a302-b

Near the end of the first day lot 340, a curious little item, attracted no interest from anyone other than me:

340
Lot 340 – my first purchase of this auction.

340-a

After lunch I started work on the badges for the May auction.

DAY 2: COINS AND MILITARIA

Another early arrival, and another hitch-free preliminary before going live at 10AM. We had three coin buyers in the room, and some internet interest, so the coins sold well. Lots 475, 501 and 695 all went signifiantly above estimate, and most of of the other coin lots also found buyers.

475
Lot 475

501
Lot 501 (two images)

501-a

695
Lot 695

We had a 15 minute break between the coins and the militaria, which kicked off in style with lot 700. Lots 704, 705, 711, 719, 727, 761, 802, 823, 824, 828, 830, 831, 832, 837, 838, 844, 846 and 847 all also went significantly over estimate, and almost none of it remained unsold. 

700
Lot 700 (two images) – £470 hammer price

700

704
Lot 704 (four images) – est £100-200 actual hammer price £440!

704-a704-b704-c

705
Lot 705 (four images) est £60 – 80, actual £120

705-a705-b705-c

711
Lot 711 (two images) – estimate £15-20, actual price £55

711-a

719
Lot 719 0- estimate £35-40 – actual price £85.

719-a
This close up of the two rings was in response to a query.

727
Lot 727 – est £15-20, actual £50

761
Lot 761 est £60-80, actual £150.

802
Lot 802 – only just above top estimate, but the buyer was somebody to whom I had sent an image of the reverse of this badge in response to a late query.

823-a

823
Lot 823 – a holster with no gun – est £10-15, actual £28.

829
828

831
831

832
832

837
837

838
838

844
Lot 844 – These images (alo incl those for 846 and 847) were suppliued by the vendor, along with descriptions

844-a

846
846

847
847

DAY THREE: POSTCARDS AND RAILWAY POSTCARDS

I arrived early once again, did some badge imaging and then paid a visit to Tony’s Deli (Thursday is market day in Fakenham, and this food stall is excellent value for money). For the third straight day there were no hitches in the preliminary stage – although I was not especially happy about doing the official sound check at 9:57, not least because I already knew it was working. A couple of early postcard lots (856 and 857) achieved big prices, and most of the postcards found buyers. 

856
Lot 856 sold for £80

857
Lot 857 sold for £100

The other notewaorthy postcard lot was 1047, which became my second purchase of the auction. I will at some stage be giving this lot a whole post to itself, but here are some pictures for the present:

1047
These are modern reproductions rather than original pictures, hence why no one else showed any interest in this item.

1047-a

ML ex 1047
An old Metropolitan line train near Wembley.

NL ex 1047
Abstract art featuring a Northern line train of 1959 stock

PL ex 1047
A picture of one of the original ‘gated stock’ trains that ran services on what was then the Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway – this scene would have taken place in 1906 or not long after.

The Railway Photographs did not attract any interest, although this was not helped by the fact that the auctioneer was hurrying through them. The only three to sell were all bought by me – lot 1071 (locomotive at Haworth), 1208 and 1209 (respectively arriving at and leaving Mallaig – for more on this journey go here):

1071
The images available to the public (three per lot – nine in total).

1071-a1071-b12081208-a1208-b12091209-a1209-b

1071h
And to finish, now that the items are bought an paid for, unwatermarked images taken at home (three in total)

1208

1209h
The departure from Mallaig, with Skye visible in the background.

A few more badges imaged for the May auction, and I was able to make my last ever journey on a Stagecoach X29 (on Tuesday, when I return to work it will be on a Lynx Bus number 49, since squillionaire bus company Stagecoach have deemed their Norfolk services insufficiently profitable and bailed out on them),.

Beyond The Ice Limit (Book Review)

A review of Douglas preston and Lincoln Child’s “Beyond The Ice Limit” – an example of the best kind of science fiction.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to my review of this recent book by the team of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. As so often with books reviewed here I found it courtesy of a library (in this case Fakenham library, which is a couple of minutes walk from where I work).

PUTTING THE BOOK IN CONTEXT

Beyond The Ice Limit is a sequel to the The Ice Limit, and also an addition to the Gideon Crew series, but has also been carefully crafted by its authors to work as a stand alone novel. 

The phrase ‘ice limit’ refers to those latitudes in which there is sea ice all year round (at least until climate change renders it meaningless).

As this story starts, an alien life form has been slowly developing on the floor of the Southern Ocean for a period of five years, and Eli Glinn, who was inadvertently resonsible for the alien life form taking root, is now leading a mission to kill it before it can destroy the world. One of those who he ropes in is Gideon Crew, who has only a few months left to live. 

Glinn and his team head south on a huge research vessel with a two-part plan – first find out whatever they can about the alien life form, and then use that knowledge to destroy it. The reason for this approach is because the ‘seed’ from which this alien emerged was actually a huge meteorite, weighing 25,000 tons, and there is only one such ‘seeds’ could be dispersed into space – by the destruction of the host planet (yes, this alien is the ultimate parasite). 

Among their equipment are the components for a nuclear weapon (the explanation for how they have acquired such is that in certain former satellite states anything is for sale if you have sufficient money). 

Since the creature is living two miles below the surface of the sea they also have four DSVs (Deep Sea Vehicles – more sophisticated versions of the bathyscaphe) for carrying out research. These for DSVs are painted yellow on the outside, and hence have been named George, Paul, John and Ringo.

Eventually they discover that the alien, dubbed The Baobab, has no brain of its own, but instead commandeers the brains of others (the first clue comes when they decode messages put out in the form of blue whale calls, which translate as “kill me” – a message that the current brain being used by the Baobab manages to put out). They also discover that deep below the sea floor are six egg-like structures which at their centers appear to have human brains. Five of these they can account for, because three headless bodies were discovered in the wreck of the Rolvaag, the ship that was carrying the meteorite when it broke open, and two of their own people have been taken by the Baobab, and an autopsy of one revealed that her brain had been extracted. 

Gideon Crew gets launched on what he fully expects to be a suicide mission, to trigger the nuclear device directly above the Rolvaag in order to cause enough of an explosion to destroy the Baobab in its entirety, just before infected crew members (the Baobab sends out parasitic worms which take up residence in the brains of those they infect, causing them work for the Baobab) seize control of the ship. 

Unfortunately another infected crew member is in the only intact DSV other than the one Gideon is piloting, and so Gideon prevented from carrying out his intended plan, but the nuclear device ends up on the Rolvaag, and the explosion is (apparently) sufficient to kill the Baobab.

With the Baobab dead, the parasitic worms also die, and the brain of the alien that it had commandeered is finally released, and sends a thank you message to the people of who have released it before it too dies.

SPECULATIONS

While the manner of its arrival and emergence makes it clear that the Baobab is a product of a process that has destroyed at least one planet already (by breaking it up so the ‘seeds’ can be dispersed) there is a question of whether this parasitic system has accounted for even more planets (either because the planet from one of whose inhabitants the Baobab commandeered a brain was not the first to have been subjected to this process, or because some of other ‘seeds’ from that occasion did hatch and destroy their new host planets). The second part of the question is clearly unanswerable, but I would incline to the Baobab being a ‘second generation’ of its type because there are a couple of things that would have made it even better at what it seeks to do than it is:

  1. Although it is somehow able to commandeer brains to make up for its own lack of such it is not able to completely subdue said brains to its requirements – remember the message that the alien brain manages to get to the team.
  2. Although the worms work perfectly in terms of getting everyone they infect to act on behalf of the Baobab they have no capacity for identifying the significance of those they infect – had their first victims been Eli Glinn and Gideon Crew then the mission would almost certainly have been doomed to failure.

FINAL THOUGHTS

This book represents the very best of science fiction: there is nothing that definitely flouts any laws of science, and none of the events are impossible to believe. The story is never less than compelling (I have actually read it twice in the space of a week, and the second reading was at least as satisfying as the first, and with a memory like mine there could have been nothing new in that second reading), and the actual scientific theories that come for discussion are well and interestingly presented. I believe that given its component parts this book could not have been improved on, and hence were I permitted to review in the place where reviews carry a star rating (I am not because the copy I read was not purchased through them) I would unquestionably give it the full five stars.

Beyond The Ice Limit

 

Imaging For a Three Day Auction

A heads up about James and Sons’ April auction – a monster three-day affair.

INTRODUCTION

James and Sons’ April Auction will be spread over three days – the 24th, 25th and 26th. I worked Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week so that we could get the catalogue to the printers and had enough images done to upload it to the-saleroom as well. Then, after some negotiation at the end of Wednesday I also went in yesterday to do another day’s imaging. In the rest of this post I will take you through some of the highlights of this monster sale.

DAY 1: SPORTING MEMORABILIA, EPHEMERA AND BOOKS

Lots 1-250 consists of sporting memorabilia of various types, including speedway, football, tennis and cricket. Here are a few highlights from that section:

1
Lot 1

208
Lot 208 – the signature on this scorecard is that of Zimbabwean fast bowler Heath Streak

92
Lot 92 – Some Tennis stills of recent vintage.

190-a
Lot 190 (two images). This was the first FA Cup final played at Wembley, just a fe weeks after the stadium was completed, and for the record Bolton Wanderers beat West Ham United to claim the silverware. This item will fetch in the high hundreds or possibly even into four figures.

190

Most of the books and other ephemera are fairly unremarkable, but here are a couple of highlights from that section:

332
Lot 332 (three images)

332-a332-b

340
Lot 340

340-a

DAY 2: COINS AND MILITARIA

Both these categories are already attracting attention. A few coin highlights:

511
Lot 511

514
Lot 514

539
Lot 539

540
Lot 540

464
Lot 464

464-a
A close-up of the big coin – it is not often that one sees a coin with a map on it.

Highlights from the militaria section:

716
Lot 715 – this Naval Ensign flag is so huge that I had to spread it out on the floor of the shop and stand on a chair to get it all in shot.

716-a
The print on the edge of the flag

761
Lot 761

762
Lot 762

763
Lot 763

764
Lot 764

768
Some interesting plaques.

769770771772773774

DAY 3: POSTCARDS AND RAILWAY PHOTOGRAPHS (PART 1 OF THE W A SHARMAN ARCHIVE)

I have imaged all of the postcards, but I am only about one-third of the way through the Railway photographs which will end this auction. Here are some highlights from the postcard section:

997
Lot 997

1009
Lot 1009

1018
Lot 1018

1022
Lot 1022 (two images)

1022-a

1040
Lot 1040 – I have already answered one enquiry about this lot.

1047
Lot 1047

1047-a

1048
Lot 1048

1048-a

1050
Lot 1050 – the last postcard lot.

I have been imaging the railway photographs by using the scanner, at 400dpi. I image the photograph itself, the typed label on the reverse, and combine those to form the master image, and when I have a decent number of such images I watermark them so that unscrupulous operators cannot cheat us by printing out the images on photo quality paper. Here are some of the highlights from the watermarked images:

105810631067-a10701075107610771079108010841090109410971099

I finish with a couple of pictures which have extra features of interest:

1071
This one has Bronte connections – not only is this Haworth, where they lived, Branwell Bronte worked on the railways briefly (he was based at nearby Luddenden Foot for the record)

1091
Lot 1091 – a photographer’s pick – note the clever use of the arch to frame the approaching train.