England In Control In 1st Test

Cricket, Politics, Public Transport and Photography, features two excellent videos.

INTRODUCTION

This post looks at the goings on in the first test in New Zealand and at the upcoming election. I also have plenty of photographs to share.

ENGLAND IN CONTROL

England had made a solid start on day 1, reaching 241-4. Burns while never really looking convincing managed to chisel out a half century, while Denly and Stokes also made runs. Day 2 started with a lot of the good work being undone, as Stokes and Pope each played loose strokes to surrender their wickets, and Curran and Archer fell cheaply. However, Jack Leach’s adhesiveness combined with Buttler’s strokeplay to save England’s blushes, and a final total of 353 looked respectable. Sibley on his test debut managed 22, and shared a half-century opening stand with Burns.

By the end of the day it was looking rather more than respectable as New Zealand were 127-4, with the prize wicket of Kane Williamson falling just before close when a delivery from Curran leapt at him and he could only fend it behind for a catch. The Williamson dismissal indicates a pitch that is just starting to misbehave, and the kiwis will have to bat last on it. I would reckon that even 250 in that fourth innings will be too many for the kiwis.

An end of day 2 scorecard can be viewed here, and thefulltoss blog’s take on these first two days can be read here.

GE2019 LATEST

First of all, a little local item:

Video featuring Labour candidate Jo Rust speaking to two first time voters:

 

A good lead in to detail on the Labour party Manifesto…

The Labour Party’s manifesto was launched yesterday, and it is excellent. Here are several links for you to follow:

  1. Your starting point – the page from which you can visit the entire manifesto and all related documents.
  2. The environmental policies, for which they have used the title “Green Industrial Revolution“.
  3. Working in two links at once, Brexit and Internationalism.

Please read it all for yourself (a PDF version is here), including the accompanying documents.

To end this section, another video, courtesy of GMB by way of The Skwawkbox hilariously showing Johnson trying to concoct a manifesto:

A MORNING JOURNEY

I was required to be at Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s Opthalmology reception by 8AM today. Making my usual allowances for things to go wrong I arrived there at 7:30AM. Just about an hour later it was time for the return journey, and I discovered that I had hit the start of a long gap between services heading into town. This strikes me as a something of a problem for a service catering among others to hospital patients, but I am fortunately in fairly good physical shape nowadays, and decided that rather than hang around waiting I would do some walking. Getting to the bus stop at which the routes from the Fairstead estate joined those from the hospital I checked the timetable, and seeing that I would not have much less long to wait even there, I kept walking, deciding that I would break for homeward journey by making a brief visit to Gaywood Library, after which I would leave the main road and head home by way of the Gaywood River path. I arrived back at just after 9:30AM having enjoyed the walk but conscious of the fact there would have been some who could not have avoided waiting for the bus, and conscious also of the crying need for the integrated public transport system outlined in yesterday’s manifesto. I have presented photos of the information boards along the Gaywood River path before, but deem them worth seeing again:

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PHOTOGRAPHS

Here are the rest of my photographs for this post…

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Hunstanton Library, where I was on Wednesday morning.

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Michael De Whalley’s leaflet (two images) – I understand that he is good local councillor, and I would be more than willing to vote for his party, but the only chance of non-Tory MP for my constituency is to vote Labour.

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Taken on the walk back from QEH this morning.

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An Autism Awareness Event At King’s Lynn Library

A brief account of today’s Autism Awarenss event at King’s Lynn Library, with some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Today at 1PM there was a gathering at King’s Lynn Library for World Autism Awareness Day, in which we talked to the library about things they could do to make themselves more accessible to autistic people and in which we got details of an autism friendly youth group that they are starting. As well as ourselves and library staff a young woman from SCIOPE was also present.

AWARENESS IS BARELY THE BEGINNING

Obviously awareness is necessary, but it should not be thought of as a goal or an endpoint – to borrow from a famous quote it is at most the end of the beginning. To be of real value it needs to proceed to acceptance, understanding of our needs and appreciation of our strengths. The library staff seem genuinely committed to helping autistic people, and they listened to all our comments. There was talk of autism friendly hours in the evening, which I think would be an excellent idea.

A CONSTRUCTIVE DAY

I feel that this event was very constructive and potentially valuable. I await practical developments with interest – as an autistic person who is a great supporter of the library I hope to be able remember today as an occasion when things moved in the right direction. I was very glad to be able to attend – as an advocate of “nothing about us without us” I always feel that I should be involved with this sort of thing, and there had been a possibility that my health would prevent that. Fortunately it did not. Now for…

PICTURES

I start with an infographic posted on the NAS Norwich facebook page by Johanna Corbyn which I consider to be excellent:

Johanna Infographic

To set the scene for my own photographs that relate to this event here is the official King’s Library picture, originally posted on their facebook page:

KLLWAAW

Now we finish with some of my pictures:

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My cards – one of the library staff accepted one.
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I was able to photograph various pictures on the wall.

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Details of the Autism Friendly Youth Group
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SCOPE publicity
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The autism related diksplay in the entrance foyer.
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A rear view of the library.
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A shot showing the war memorial and the library.
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The Greyfriars Tower

 

Rachel Caine’s Great Library Novels

A review of Rachel Caine’s series of books featuring the Great Library.

INTRODUCTION

There are three novels under consideration in todays post, and they form a series. 

GLT

OVERVIEW

These books are an exercise in “Alternative History”. They are set in the 21st century in a world in which the Great Library of Alexandria did not get destroyed, but instead ended up as a global power, not merely a centre of learning. For some centuries a conflict has raged between the forces of the Library and rebels known as Burners. Also, since the Great Library have decreed that no books shall be privately owned there is a third group in the mix, the smugglers who for a price satsify the cravings of those who in defiance of the law still want to own books. 

BOOK 1: INK AND BONE

Ink and Bone

In the opening pages of this book we meet Jess Brightwell, then 10 years old, and already running contraband books as part of his father’s smuggling business. Jess performs a mission which leads him to an encounter with an ‘ink eater’ – a man who in this instance eats the pages of the only known copy of a book by Aristotle. The effect witnessing this has on Jess sets the scene for the subsequent story. We skip forward six years and Jess’s father has entered him (at vast expense) for the Great Library entrance exam, considering that it would be useful to have someone on the inside. Jess manages to pass and finds himself bound for Alexandria along with 30 or so other scholars. Among his fellows are Thomas Schreiber, a German with massive talents for engineering and inventing, Khalila Seif who has achieved the first ever perfect score in the entrance exam, Glain Wathen, a tough Welsh girl who has an eye on a place in the High Garda, the Library’s security force/ army and Dario Santiago, from a wealthy and influential Spanish family.

These and the other postulants find themselves being put through their paces by Scholar Christopher Wolfe, a very harsh judge. Twelve of the postulants have gone by the end of the first week, and their numbers continue to fall regularly. One new person arrives on the scene, Morgan Hault, who it turns out is an obscurist, and as such vital to future of the library. Her unwillingness to suffer the obscurist’s usual fate of being confined in the Iron Tower is one of the causes of conflict between these scholars and the Library. The other direct cause is Thomas Schreiber’s passion for inventing – he designs and creates a printing press which would enable the bulk production of books, not realising that various previous scholars have been harshly punished for the same invention, as the Library will tolerate nothing that might reduce its power. It further harms Thomas’ cause that Christopher Wolfe is one of those scholars who have previously been punished for this offence.

Before Thomas  Schreiber gets hauled over the coals there are major clues that all is not rosy in the garden. As a final exercise the postulants are sent to Oxford to retrieve some rare books gthat have come to light there, and the only way to get them there in time is to use a technique called ‘translation’, which is fraught with danger. One of them, Guillaume Danton, dies while being translated, which generates suspicion. Then, when they have barely escaped from Oxford with their lives and are being returned to Alexandria on the Archivist’s personal train they are ambushed by Burners who have somehow found out their whereabouts. 

This book ends with Morgan Hault confined in the Iron Tower, Thomas Schreiber in prison, with the others having been told that he is dead, and all the other main characters having been assigned various positions. 

BOOK 2: PAPER AND FIRE

Paper and Fire

This book follows on directly from the end of book one. It deals with the discovery that Thomas is not dead, merely in prison, and the subsequent quest to break him out and escape from the Library’s clutches. In the Iron Tower, above the levels occupied by the obscurists, the Black Archives are revealed to us for the first time. The Archivist (boss of the whole library) has ordered the Artifex Magnus to destroy them, but the rebel scholars get away with a quantity of the most important books and head for London, Jess Brightwell’s home town. They then find themselves betrayed and sent to the Burner city of Philadelphia. It is also in the course of this book that we see how the automata (I dropped a hint about these in this post)  that the Libfrary uses in addition to the High Garda can be switched off. Thomas, with the help of Morgan Hault the obscurist, manages to change one of the automata so that it works for them.

BOOK 3: ASH AND QUILL

Ash and Quill

Thomas Schreiber creates a version of his press from materials available in Philadelphia, which works sufficiently well to impress the Burners but not to end his usefulness. He also makes a weapon that will ultimately be used to make a hole in Philadelphia’s walls so that he and his band can escape. 

Meanwhile, having previously kept the city under siege for a hundred years, the Library having discovered that their rebel scholars are there have ordered the complete destruction of the city.

While the city is being destroyed, Thomas Schreiber’s weapon creates enough of a hole in the walls for the scholars to escape, and one of Jess’ smuggler acquaintances gets them back to Britain. London is now off bounds, having finally fallen to the Welsh forces who have been attacking it for some time, but Jess’ father owns a castle in the north of England.

While hiding there Thomas builds a sophisticated press which is immediately put to work churning out bulk copies of previously concealed works, and he also creates a better version of the weapon he used in Philadelphia to make a gap in the walls. The book ends with Jess, disguised as his brother, about to visit the Archivist. It is fairly clear that whatever happens in that meeting only one of those two will emerge alive (at most).

THE EPHEMERA

Interleaved with the story proper are regular sections titled Ephemera, which give as insights in to the history and development of the Library. We learn through these, and through discoveries in the Black Archives, that the first Archivist with a view to making the Library a military as well as an intellectual power base (“using the sword as well the pen”) was Zoran who saw in a conflict between the Roman emperor Aurelian and the eastern queen Zenobia the opportunity to bring this about, that the first scholar to suggest a printing press was a Chinese man in the year 868, and the scholar Gutenberg was punished for the same “crime” some six centuries later. Thus we can trace the corruption of the Library, and the view that its power counted above all else back at least to 868AD, almost 1,200 years before the action in these books takes place, and possibly all the way back to the scheming Archivist Zoran half a millennium before that.

FINAL THOUGHTS

These books are excellent, the story being thoroughly gripping. Although a couple of minor errors slipped in to the history (“Scholar Plato”, which reference is made during the story is incorrect, since he lived and died before the Great Library was created, and Archimedes of Syracuse lived a century and more earlier than Heron of Alexandria, not vice versa) they are not sufficient to detract from the overall quality of the work, which is excellent. I really enjoyed reading these books and hope that there are more to come. You can find out more about Rachel Caine from her website and on twitter. Also, shrewd observers will have noted that my pictures are of Library books, so I finish this long post about a library system that went badly wrong somewhere along the line by thanking a library system that is still working nicely, Norfolk Libraries, through whose good offices I gained access to these books.

Some Pictures

A largely pictorial account of my day.

INTRODUCTION

I have just finished editing the pictures I took while out and about today. I have a collection of tree pics ready for the next post in my “Trees in Transistion” series, but for the moment it is the other pictures I am sharing. I will put them up in three segments…

NURTURE

These are pictures featuring my aunt’s plants, which I have been watering while she is on holiday. Barring a freak return to summer weather tomorrow I anticipate one more visit on Wednesday being sufficient.

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NATIONAL LIBRARIES WEEK

This week is National Libraries Week. I have visited King’s Lynn Library today, will definitely visit Fakenham Library at least once this week after a working day, hope to call in at Norwich Millennium Library when I am in that fine city on Wednesday (an autism event) and on Saturday en route to Musical Keys should find time for a visit to Gaywood Library. Here are some pictures of King’s Lynn Library…

NATURE

We end with some pictures focussing on nature…

Cormorants 1Cormorants 2Cormorants 3Cormorants 4Cormorants 5BirdsCormorants and churchGullsFlying birdsFlying birdCormorants 6Cormorants 7LBBpreparing for Ashes duty!Flying ducksMoorhen 1Moorhen 2

The Quorum: Book Review

A review of Kim Newman’s “The Quorum”.

INTRODUCTION

For this post I am reviewing a book I read recently. When I review books I do so because I consider it worth doing – I gain no pecuniary benefit at all. 

HOW I DISCOVERED KIM NEWMAN

I first came across Kim Newman a couple of years back when I saw a copy of Moriarty: Hound of the D’Urbervilles in Norwich Millennium Library. I enjoyed that book, and the kept the author’s name in mind for future reference. 

HOW I DISCOVERED THE QUORUM

I was in King’s Lynn library on Monday, as I often am when not at work when I saw the book. I checked out the back cover to see if I could glean more about the story, and decided it was worth borrowing. On Wednesday, with the beginnings of this post already in mind I returned it having read and enjoyed it…

Librarium
King’s Lynn library, donated to the town by Andrew Carnegie

 THE STORY

The prime mover of the story goes by the name of Derek Leech, and the story starts with him emerging from the muck and slime of the Thames (even today, half a century after Leech’s supposed emergence and after considerable efforts to clean it up the Thames remains fairly slimy and mucky). The other principal characters are four schoolfellows who end up in a situation whereby three of them become very rich and successful courtesy of Leech, but they have to stuff up the life of the other as part of a Faustian deal.

Along the way we are told much about the various ways in which the three who have been granted success. One is a TV presenter and best selling author. In his capacity as an author he names characters after London Underground stations, so we encounter Colin Dale (look near the northern end of the Edgware branch of the Northern line), Ken Sington (South Kensington District, Circle & Piccadilly, High Street Kensington – District & Circle, Kensington Olympia – – District), Mai Da Vale (Maida Vale, Bakerloo line) and Barbi Can (Barbican – Circle, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan) are all mentioned in the book as names used by Michael Dixon for his characters. Of these names only the first really passes muster. The s in Kensington is pronounced as a z not an s – Ken Ington, losing an N from the name of that Northern line hub station would have been better. Mai Da Vale is a mishmash of a name – a clearly oriental first name and surname with an Italian prefix, in addition to which were Vale a recognised Italian name (I do not believe it is) it would certainly pronounced as Var-lay in that language. Barbi is not usually spelled without the e, and I have yet to come across anyone surnamed Can. However, I credit Newman with selecting these names as a way of indicating just how undeserved Michael Dixon’s best seller status is.

The kicker moment comes late in the plot, after Neil, the ‘loser’ in the bargain finally concedes defeat. It turns out that he as the person whose pain has been feeding Leech’s “device” is far more important than the other three, who having driven him to utter the dread phrase “I give up”, have now ceased to be useful to Leech. 

I enjoyed reading this book and recommend that you read it too. 

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END NOTE: THE LINKS
FROM THE CHARACTER NAMES

All the links in my information about Michel Dixon’s dodgy character names are to posts on my London transport themed website, www.londontu.be. South Kensington has two links because there are two posts about that station, written at different times. 

 

Booking a Trip to Scotland: British Public Transport Daftness Exposed

A combination of an account of the booking of train tickets for a trip to Scotland and an expose of the sheer craziness of British public transport.

INTRODUCTION

My parents have booked a house near Kyle of Lochalsh for a week which includes my birthday. As a birthday present I have been given the wherewithal to purchase train tickets for the journey, which happens to feature one of the most scenic routes anywhere in Britain. To set the scene for the rest of this post and give you a little test here is a photograph of my railway tickets for the journey:

tickets
Can you see what it is about these tickets that even before I go any further reveals an element of daftness in British Public Transport?

BOOKING THE JOURNEY

Those of you who follow this blog with due care and attention will be aware that for some years I have been resident in King’s Lynn for some years, and had I moved I would certainly have mentioned it here. Why then is the ticket above booked as a return from Peterborough to Kyle of Lochalsh and not from King’s Lynn? 

The following screenshots will expose the reason for this and the utter craziness and illogic of pricing on British public transport.

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Note the difference in price between this ticket and the one from Peterborough (almost £60!!)
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Given the immense price difference, the booking from Peterborough was bound to leave my up on the transaction (as you will see after these pictures in point of fact to the tune of some £50)
Outbound
My outbound journey.
return
The suggested return journey (don;t worry parents, I can also get back leaving on the later train from Kyle, at 12:08 and arriving home around about midnight)
KL - Peterborough
Even were I to rely on train for the King’s Lynn to Peterborough and back section of the journey two anytime day singles (the max I would have had to pay), would have set me back a mere £24.60 as opposed to price difference on the all-in-one of almost £60, but….

I will actually be travelling the King’s Lynn – Peterborough and its reverse route on the First Eastern Counties X1 bus, which will set me back £6.40 each way or £12.80 in total, making a saving of approximately £47 as compared to the all-in-one booking from King’s Lynn. 

You might think that having cut through all the BS re fares and booked the tickets the daftness would end there, but you would be wrong…

COLLECTING THE TICKETS

The booking accomplished yesterday evening, this morning I set about collecting the tickets. First, as a precaution since I would be needing to keep them safe for a long while I searched out a receptacle of suitable size, shape and robustness to put them in, locating this pretty swiftly:

ticketholder

Having thus equipped myself it was off to the library to print off some booking information that I was going to need to collect the tickets.

library

Then with the information printed it was on to the station to pick up the tickets. This is usually done via ticket machines, of which King’s Lynn station has two. Here are pictures of both machines, showing precisely why I could not use them…

DSCN5103machineoo

I fully understand the desirability and indeed the need to replace old ticket machines with new, but why take both out of service simultaneously? Why not take one out of service and keep the other operational until the first new machine is ready, then take the second old machine out of service and replace it, thereby keeping at least one machine operational the whole time?

Fortunately, there were staff present, and I was able to get my tickets printed at a ticket office. While waiting I bagged an image of the station plaque:

plaque

Although the process took longer and entailed more frustration than I had anticipated, I have the tickets and other info safely stowed, and am looking forward to my visit to the wilds of northwest Scotland. It will not be my first visit to Kyle of Lochalsh – back in 1993, before the opening of a swanky new toll-bridge and consequent removal of ferry services to maximise said bridge’s profits, I passed through Kyle en route to the Isle of Skye, returning to the mainland by way of the southern ferry crossing to Mallaig. 

I conclude this post with two more photos, one showing all the printed material I have for the journey, and the other ending our journey back where we started (a lot more straightforward in a blog than in a journey on British public transport!)

traveldocstickets

 

 

Nonuple Nelson

My 999th post on aspiblog – an appropriately quirky melange – share if you agree!

INTRODUCTION

The title of this post comes from a cricket related quirk, explained by the image below, which is an extract from Mike Brearley and Dudley Doust’s book about the 1978-9 ashes series (six matches, Australia 1 England 5):

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The ‘nonuple’ part of the title comes from the fact that this is my 999th post on aspiblog, and like the old Gloucestershire spinner Bomber Wells who deliberately retired on 999 first class wickets I have decided the commemorate 999 rather than the more conventional 1,000. By the way, although 999 is indubitably part of the ‘Nelson’ sequence I suspect that never mind me as someone immune to woo in all its forms even the late legendary David Shepherd might have considered that at 999 there was little to worry about (in point of fact it is 0% success rate as a score at which wickets fall – twice in first class cricket a team has scored that many – Victoria both times, against Tasmania in 1922 and New South Wales in 1926 and both times they reached the 1,000 safely and won the matches by monster margins – an innings and 666 and an innings and 656 runs respectively).

SOME RECENT FINDS

First a story which I reblogged from Why Evolution Is True yesterday, but which is so spectacular and so well presented that I am sharing a link to it today as well – click the picture below to visit:

theropodfeather

Second, a suggestion that London should take its cue from Paris and make public transport free of charge (what are you waiting for, Sadiq?). I have already shared this on my London transport themed website, and now take the opportunity to promote it here – via two pictures, the first of which contains a link to the original article on www.independent.co.uk:

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The image in the http://www.independent.co.uk article.
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The image in the twitter link that put me on to the story.

Still on the transport theme is this piece in The Guardian about how Uber are (mis)treating their drivers.

My next link concerns libraries, and the fact that they are being hit by huge funding cuts. At the bottom of the article mention is made of the library from which the most items have been borrowed this year – Norwich Millennium Library (and although that is the library I use least frequently of my three regulars my visits there are not entirely unconnected to the large number of items borrowed there!). Click here to see the original piece.

My final link in this section is appropriately cricket themed. Before getting on to it I note by way of observation that as the third day draws to a close the current test match between India and England seems to be capsizing under an overload of runs (Eng 400, Ind currently 445-7). A new cricket blog has appeared on my radar, and I introduce it to my readers by way of a link to a review of Steve James’ book The Art of Centuries.

PICTURES

To end this post here are some coin images from yesterday at work (on this occasion high-res scans rather than photographs as these were small lots):

122
This is lot 122 (all lots featured here have three images – a composite and close-ups of each face). These lots will be going under the hammer in mid January.

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132
Lot 132

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134
Lot 134

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136
Lot 136

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137
Lot 137

137-a137-b

138
Lot 138

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140
Lot 140

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141
Lot 141

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143
Lot 143

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145
Lot 145

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157
Lot 157 – note the alteration to the obverse face of this coin.

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