Detective Fiction Meets Ornithology

A review of a new find – Steve Burrows’ Birder Murders, with some Norfolk bird pictures of my own for company.

INTRODUCTION

This post concerns two books by a writer I discovered in the last few days:

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MAKING THE DISCOVERY

When I saw these in the library there was never any doubt about borrowing them – detective stories set in Norfolk and heavily concerned with birds looks a darned good mix. 

THE BOOKS

There is much of interest about birds and about North Norfolk in these books, and the strikingly different characters of each of the police officers makes for some good interplay between them. 

In the first of these two books, “A Siege of Bitterns”, the first victim is actually a birdwatcher. The second victim is a suspect in the first case until he is found dead. It eventjually turns out that the first case was not murder but suicide, and that the murderer in the second case was the MP.

In “A Cast of Falcons”, the hero’s boss, DCS Shepherd, is shown up in a very poor light when she initially refuses even to entertain the notion that the exceedingly rich Sheik who has bought an old dairy farm for his pet project (research on method of carbon capture) could be guilty. She shows herself to be more concerned with not annoying someone who is rich and powerful than with justice, which given her job is entirely unacceptable.

There is a third book in this series that I know of, called “A Pitying of Doves”, and it is sufficient comment on just how good these two books are that I have reserved a copy (costs 60p) and am awaiting it’s arrival at King’s Lynn library.

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If you get the opportunity to pick up a book with the name Steve Burrows on the cover please take it!

SOME NORFOLK BIRDS

To finish this post here are some new pictures of Norfolk birds…

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Bird Pics on the #Inglorious12th

A post for the #Inglorious12th, featuring the right kind of bird shooting – that done with a camera.

INTRODUCTION

Today is August 12th, which is for well-heeled British hooligans the start of the grouse shooting season, known to them as “The Glorious 12th”. For folk like me, who view those who derive pleasure from taking pot shots at birds with utter contempt it is therefore the #Inglorious12th.

SHOOTING BIRDS THOMAS STYLE

I choose to mark today by posting pictures of birds shot the only acceptable way – with a camera. Most of these are from this morning, but I am also including some older pics.

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The Little Egret that featured a couple of weeks back.
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A magpie on the path alongside the Great Ouse
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I was at the racecourse before my colleague arrived with a key, and this wagtail caught my eye while I was waiting.

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The first of the new pictures – this and the final cormorant pic are in their correct positions, but some of the rest of the cormorant series are out of order.

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I finish with this Jay – two live photographs and the relevant page from my bird book.
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The close-up shot.

Jay book page

 

 

Network Autism

An important autism related meeting in Dereham plus a few shares and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

As well as my title piece, which as promised yesterday, is about the meeting in Dereham organised by Autism Anglia and ASD Helping Hands that I attended this morning. Karan and I were a little late arriving as she could not leave before the person who would be looking after her son had arrived and I had arranged a meet up point at The Gatehouse since while I was definitely up for the meeting I was not up for forking out the £11 it would have cost to me travel there and back under my own steam (at some point I will be putting up a post on public transport that will highlight why this particular shortish journey is so extortionate – for the moment suffice to say it has nothing to do with logic, reason, meeting passenger needs or anything else that has any place in the proper running of a public transport system). This meant that although we were able to introduce ourselves we missed most of the other people’s introductions. 

THE MEETING

The meeting had been arranged to discuss amendments to an autism strategy document which as it stood was laughably incomplete. Autism Anglia and ASD Helping Hands were effectively doing the kind of outreach stuff that Norfolk County Council should have been doing but weren’t. The County Council’s own meetings about such matters are invariably in Norwich, generally with a requirement that one arrive by 9:30. Before moving on to NAS West Norfolk’s role in the events of this meeting I will mention two things from the preliminary talk that caused hackles to raise. First, Norfolk County Council’s person responsible for co-ordinating matters relating to autism appears to have his fingers in a suspiciously large number of pies, and extending from this seems to be overly averse to scrutiny (as a West Norfolk resident who has the incinerator debacle seared on his memory I am naturally inclined to be mistrustful where Norfolk County Council are concerned – although we eventually won that one and the thing did not get built). Secondly there is the role of Norfolk Steps, who seem to have a monopoly on training provision for parents and carers and to be very reluctant to see that change – one person at the meeting had tried to use their materials to provide training and was told to desist. Another strike against Norfolk Steps from our point of view is that their training is not autism specific.

The key pages of the inadequate document that we were trying to improve were pages 16-19, and there was little we could do about what was on page 16, so as we seated around three tables each table was assigned a page to look at and make additions to. Ours was page 18:

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I have already covered a lot of the problems with Norfolk Steps, but there is one extra point – they have recently had their funding reduced, and no longer offer “steps plus” to parents. 

There were a few additions to point 5, which started our page. Point 6 was the single most inadequately expressed point in the whole sorry document. For this point to be worth the ink and paper it has to contain chapter and verse – the specific Act of Parliament and the specific clauses contained therein that are of most relevance. 

Anne Ebbage of Autism Anglia will be passing all the points raised at this meeting on to the council, and if the final version of this document is not massively changed and enlarged there will be trouble.

This was a very useful and productive meeting, and I hope it will play a role in dragging Norfolk’s approach to autism and autistic people out of the dark ages wherein it seems to have been stuck for some time.

A SEGUE LINK

The first part of this post has been about autism, and so I introduce the remainder of it by way of a link to an interesting piece by The Inked Autist. My views are rather different to those expressed in this post, but I recommend that you read it here.

A BUSY WEEK FOR DPAC

That title is no overstatement – this section contains a link to a post on the DPAC website and two embedded videos. 

The post, which gives this section of this post its title, can be accessed by clicking the DPAC logo below. Then you can find the two videos, which are both about a protest outside Parliament. The first video was created by Let Me Look TV, the second by Steve Topple of The Canary.

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PHOTOGRAPHS

I had planned to include more stuff in this post, but a malfunction has prevented that – I have just lost a large amount of stuff that was in here and have no way of getting back, so here are the photographs.

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A magpie near the pick up point in Lynn this morning

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Three shots featuring a stretch of the Mid-Norfolk Railway in Dereham
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One of the “Ecocity” towers near Swaffham – even in this picture, and still more so in the further edited version the observation room near the centre of the propeller is clearly visible. The original shot from which this picture and the next were both obtained was taken through the window of a moving car.

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Dream Cabinet

INTRODUCTION

This post is my response to Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK’s challenge to come up with a dream cabinet. I do not quite have a full  cabinet here but I do have names, positions and explanations and/ or justifications for all my choices. I will start by listing the names and positions, and will then go into a little more detail in the next section about my reasons.

THE SELECTIONS

These are the positions I have managed to fill:

Prime Minister – Debbie Abrahams

Deputy Prime Minister – Angela Rayner

Chancellor of the Exchequer – Richard Murphy

Home Secretary – Kerry-Anne Mendoza

Foreign Secretary – Clive Lewis

Business Secretary – Rebecca Long-Bailey

Health Secretary – Jo Rust

Environment – Caroline Lucas

Transport – Thomas Sutcliffe

Neurodiversity Minister – Paddy-Joe Moran (askpergers.wordpress.com)

Education Secretary – Michael Rosen

Arts – Anna Bohlin

Sports – Elizabeth Ammon (@legsidelizzy)

Scottish Secretary – Mhairi Black

Disabilities – Paula Peters (DPAC)

Science – Patricia Fara

Work and Pensions – Mike Sivier

Women and Equality – Kate Osamor

Welsh Secretary – Leanne Wood

Defence – Emily Thornberry

Housing and Planning – Sian Berry

We now move on to the the….

EXPLANATIONS/ JUSTIFICATIONS

I will take each position in the order in which they appear above:

Prime Minister – Debbie Abrahams

Debbie Abrahams has impressed me ever since she entered the shadow cabinet to the extent that I was determined to put her in a top position, and in the end I opted for the top position for her.

Deputy Prime Minister – Angela Rayner

Another who has been consistently impressive since her promotion to the front bench. From what I read of her performance on Question time when she had to contend with three very right wing fellow panelists, a Liberal Democrat and the mloderator, Mr Arch-Establishment Dimbleby (I was not able to watch for myself as I refuse to let the BBC have any of my money) she seems to have done a fine job of further underlining her credentials.

Chancellor of the Exchequer – Richard Murphy

We need his kind of economic vision as a matter of urgency, and how better to get it and than have the man himself as chancellor of the exchequer.

Home Secretary – Kerry-Anne Mendoza

Editor of The Canary and author of many splendid articles. I am sufficiently impressed by what I have seen of her that I have no doubts about putting her straight into one of the four so-called “great offices of state”.

Foreign Secretary – Clive Lewis

He was always going to feature somewhere in my dream cabinet, and I have decided that this is the right role for him.

Business Secretary – Rebecca Long-Bailey

Someone else who has said a lot of the right things since joining the front bench.

Health Secretary – Jo Rust

The Labour Party candidate for Northwest Norfolk (my constituency) at the last general election, active in many roles and a passionate supporter of the NHS. Exactly the right kind of person to take on the formidable task of repairing the ruin caused by the likes of Lansley and Hunt.

Environment – Caroline Lucas

I want environmental policy in the hands of someone who is committed to protecting the environment, and to me no one ticks that box more definitively than Ms Lucas.

Transport – Thomas Sutcliffe

I am aware that it is always risky for selectors to pick themselves, but I believe I can justify this one. I have a lifetime’s knowledge of and commitment to public transport. Although I am creator of a London transport themed website, London would actually be at the back of the queue for attention from me is at it is less badly off transport-wise than the rest of the country. 

Neurodiversity Minister – Paddy-Joe Moran

Paddy-Joe is autistic, the author of several books about autism and also writes the askpergers blog. Having decided to revive the idea of this post (see here for more details) it was a question of who to select for it. I wanted my Neurodiversity Minister to be neurodiverse themselves and in the end I went for Paddy-Joe.

Education Secretary – Michael Rosen

He would bring a lifetime’s knowledge and passionate commitment to the post. Education in this country would improve massively with Michael Rosen in this role.

Arts – Anna Bohlin

I do not know whether we could persuade her to come over from Sweden, but I am sure that she would be excellent in this role and would work well with her cabinet colleagues. For more details about her consult her blog

Sports – Elizabeth Ammon

Also known by hew twitter handle – legsidelizzy. In addition to her cricket writing and commentaries she has made some very sound political points. 

Scottish Secretary – Mhairi Black

Always assuming Scotland have not yet declared indepence, I would want Mhairi Black, who is the youngest but also one of the most impressive MPs currently in the house, in my cabinet, and this would seem the ideal role for her.

Disabilities – Paula Peters

I have gone for someone who is disabled and heavily involved in DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) for this important role.

Science – Patricia Fara

Author of a book on the history of science, a scientist herself and an impressive speaker (I have heard her give a talk here in King’s Lynn). She got the nod ahead of Brian Cox because I decided that I wanted a woman in charge of science policy.

Work and Pensions – Mike Sivier

Author of the Vox Political blog, carer and very knowledgeable about the misdeeds of the DWP under the Tories he would be an excellent person to undertake the task of putting this area back on track.

Women and Equality – Kate Osamor

Like several of my other choices she has impressed ever since taking her place on the front bench, and she would be well suited to this role.

Welsh Secretary – Leanne Wood

Occasionally sounds too excitable for her own good, but says a lot of good things, and I believe would do them in this role.

Defence – Emily Thornberry

As shadow defence secretary (before being moved to shadow foreign secretary) she was quite impressive.

Housing and Planning – Sian Berry

She ran an excellent campaign for Mayor of London which deserved better reward than third place (in particular, it was a travesty that she ended up behind Goldsmith after he ran such a disgraceful campaign, but also for my money Khan could have had no complaints had she won outright). This is a position I would definitely want in the hands of someone thoroughly committed to protecting the environment. To reuse a remark I originally made as a comment in response to one of Anna’s posts

Preservation of nature needs to be at the heart of planning decisions, not an optional (and often despised) extra. Your battle in Trosa is a battle for all of us everywhere.

PHOTOGRAPHS

After all that text here are some photographs for a bit of light relief…

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The first seven pictures are from yesterday – this is the East Rudham (my parents’ village) egg shop

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Starting with this one my remaining pictures are from today.

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Pictures and Petitions

A couple of important petitions, a couple of interesting links and some photographs taken in and around King’s Lynn – enjoy!

INTRODUCTION

I have two important petitions to share with you, a couple of other links and some new photos to share.

RENATIONALISE THE RAILWAYS!

For my first offering I turn to the campaign group We Own It, and their petition calling for Britain’s railways to be publicly owned and controlled. Click on the screenshot below to visit and sign this petition.

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AN ANTI-FRACKING PETITION

The latest area to be targeted by fracking companies is Derbyshire. Click on the image below to visit and sign the petition against this:

PHOTOGRAPHS 1:

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A COUPLE OF LINKS

Autism Mom’s most recent post is entitled “Words My Son Can Use” and is a  very interesting read.

Welfare Weekly have produced a list of the 10 worst excuses produced by employers caught failing to pay the minimum wage which you can read here.

PHOTOGRAPHS 2

We finish with a few more pictures, these ones taken this morning:

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Hydrogen Powered Buses and Clean Air for London

Some environmental news and some pictures – enjoy.

INTRODUCTION

Having recently shared the latest of Anna’s posts about her campaign to prevent a big new road from being built through an area of outstanding natural beauty I thought a couple of stories showing a more sensible approach were appropriate (and I have some new pictures to share and was looking for something else to put in the post).

HYDROGEN BUSES AND A CLEAN AIR PLAN FOR LONDON

Hydrogen buses are already a feature of the streets of the city of Aberdeen, and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan intends them to be in service in the capital by 2020. Buses are less damagaing than cars anyway because they carry more people, but hydrogen buses have an extra plus point – zero emissions. To read an excellent article on this theme click the picture below:

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A hydrogen powered bus.

Councillor and London Assembly member Caroline Russell has produced a very detailed plan for making London’s streets healthier, backed up with evidence of a successful scheme in Walthanstow. To read the whole document click on the infographic giving details of the Walthamstow success that appears below:

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PICTURES

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A Brunel £2 received in change
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Next to uncirculated coin.
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The next four pictures show ice on the surface of the lower Purfleet (yes folks, here in the north of the world it is winter)

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Musical Keys and Imaging

An account of today at work and yesterday at Musical keys.

INTRODUCTION

This post has two very disparate strands – yesterday’s Musical Keys event for Autistic People and tody at work.

IMAGING

While I have imaged a wide variety of stuff today at work I am going to concentrate on some commemorative coin lots that were of particular quality…

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I did not have time to provide close-ups of all these coins…
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…so I selected the one featuring a picture of Nelson (we are in Norfolk after all) for the treatmnent.

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This lot featured an extra requirement.
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Namely providing a shot focussing on the coin and info sheet into which it is set.

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The last of the commemorative coins.

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A large collection of themed stamp books.

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Inidvidual mounted stamps
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A close up of a single set
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an even close up of two individual stamps.

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Old maps…

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… and an even older map to finish

MUSICAL KEYS

The 12 years and older session of the Musical Keys workshop run as an NAS West Norfolk activity started at 4:45PM yesterday and ran until 6:15PM. I was there both as participant and as one 0f the two designated committee members to be present at the event (the other was group leader Karan whose younger son was participating). As usual with Musical Keys the main piece of equipment we were using was a miniature computer:

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For the first part of the session we were playing computer drums:

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After a mid-session break during which a birthday cake which Karan had very kindly made (gluten-free as her son has an adverse reaction to gluten) and which was absolutely delicious, we moved on to the second part of the session, which featured a system whereby lines had to be drawn across the screen so that balls would bounce of them to create sounds. For those of my generation it looks a bit like a very early BBC Micro game!

As anyone who knows what the weather was like in King’s Lynn yesterday early evening will be aware it was not suitable for photography on the way to the Scout Hut, where as so often with NAS West Norfolk events this took place, but I did get this picture on the way home…

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