Sunday, 18 August 2019

Old and new

This afternoon I travelled on the oldest train in regular service on the British mainland rail network, and then on one of the newest. Where did I change?

(And no, you can't answer if I've already told you!)
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Blogging every day week in 2019 - see what nonsense I've written lately here

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Eyes down

Sorry I've gone seriously quiet. I'm writing up my MEd dissertation - strange as it may seem, the biggest bit of empirical research I've ever done. I hope to surface in time for the Alvecote weekend, when I shall be celebrating my first ten years with Chertsey. See you then!

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Books I read in July

Normally I write this post as the month progresses, but I haven't this time. Instead, I have a pile of books I've read, with the Kindle squashed between them half way down. So although this is a long list (too long to go into detail about every one) it may yet not be complete. And the reason it's longer than usual - I had some holiday in July, plus I was laid up with a nasty cold for a few days, which piled them on, and finally, many of them are fairly lightweight, easy, comforting reads. Not all though. So - not in chronological order - here are (some of) the books I read in July.

Alexander McCall Smith:
The Sunday Philosophy Club
The Forgotten Affairs of Youth
The Charming Quirks of Others
The Lost Art of Gratitude
The Comfort of Saturdays
Friends, Lovers, Chocolate
A half dozen Isabel Dalhousie novels - comfort reading at its finest, and you learn about a very different Edinburgh from Ian Rankin's. I am counting this as acclimatisation for my new External Examining job there.

Graham Masterton Ghost Music
Tiresome and repetitive ghost story, which I picked up because I thought it was by someone else entirely. It's American, but enlivened by a scene in a London pub in which there is waitress service. Research, Graham.

Ann Grainger A Particular Eye for Villainy
The first of the Ben and Lizzie Ross Victorian detective series. Again, undemanding, comforting stuff.

All the above were from the local library. Then while I was in Lewes at the beginning of the month, I picked up three in the Oxfam shop:

Tessa Hadley The Past
Quite pleased that I picked up the - presumably deliberate - reference to The Go-Between - because this is very much a novel about how the past is another country. One of those books about family relationships and secrets - the biggest of which we are left to work out for ourselves - with engaging characters.

Michele Hanson What the Grown Ups Were Doing
Memoir of growing up in a comfortably off, non-observant Jewish family in Ruislip. I found it rather dull, and thought it skirted round the big or interesting issues, but Jim is currently finding it hilariuous, so there you are. 

Charles Loft Last Trains: Dr Beeching and the Death of Rural England
Rather a sensational title for a sober, but very readable, account of government policy on the railways from the end of the second world war to privatisation, which is to a degree an exculpation of the maligned doctor. What leapt out at me was the fact that when lines like the Bluebell were closed, many of those campaigning for and working on their subsequent preservation were teenagers - just as they were on the canals. Somehow that seems a very important thing to bear in mind.

And then there were the emergency and/or impulse Kindle purchases:
Laura James Odd Girl Out
Memoir of growing up autistic and female. After the shock of recognition it's almost strangely dull, because it was 90% like reading about myself. It's good to be reminded though that I'm not alone, and it's not all my fault.

Lisa Jewell
The Truth About Melody Browne
I Found You
The Third Wife
The Girls
Jewell is quite good at suspense and weirdish chick-thrillers (which I think may be her later work); less enjoyable on the family stuff which tends towards the mawkish. The Girls was particularly good.

D.S. Butler Bring Them Home
Police thing about missing children. I haven't bothered reading any more by them.

Damian Boyd Dead Lock
Only bought it because it had a picture of a lock. Not very good. 

Joanne Harris Different Class
Fabulous, sinister, funny and very sad book with some marvellous characters.

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

So, this is what I do in the day job

I teach these people. I support them. I design the modules and courses that get them onto and through degree programmes. I do research into how best to do this effectively, and the impacts it has on people. I campaign against threats to this sort of provision.

I am very proud of what I do.

It takes up an awful lot of my time.

Sunday, 28 July 2019

An English Sunday afternoon

There's a full brass band playing in the bandstand, and the audience isn't going to be deterred by a bit of rain.

Thursday, 25 July 2019

Roll on

Well, that was a long gap, sorry. I brought a stinking cold back with me from the Foundation Year Network conference and have been nurturing that rather than blogging.

I have however tweaked the blogroll a bit, to reflect my wider reading. I like these non-boat-related blogs; there's no reason for me to think that you will, but you might. They'll give me something to read over breakfast, anyway.

I've added an autism blog - and I hope there will be more to follow. I think I have to accept that Rivetcounter as a separate entity is never going to take off (such a waste of an excellent name) so these will find their link here. I do find it useful to be reminded that a. yes, there are other people out there who experience the world like I do, but b. they are not the majority of people I have to deal with ecery day. This helps me remember that, actually, it probably isn't my fault as much as I think it is.

And I have just added Wonkhe. A niche interest, certainly, but an excellent source of thoughts on higher education policy. It even has a post written by my boss.

The 'boating blogroll' is somewhat of a misnomer, as two of them are currently motorhoming rather than boating (and in one case it's a permanent switch).

It was 88 degrees Farenheit in my office today.

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

In which I get to be sniffy about the accuracy or otherwise of a model

I first came across the term 'rivetcounter' at Newhaven Model Railway Club in the 1990s. I have no idea what I was doing at Newhaven Model Railway Club in the 1990s. It might have been something to do with regeneration. But I have always had a fondness for model railways, so I would not have been a reluctant visitor. 'Rivetcounter' seemed to be an epithet that veered between insult and respect, which side it fell being very subjective. A rivetcounter was someone who slavishly pursued accuracy in their modelling, and was quick to point out its lack in others'.

I have no chance of spotting any inaccuracies in model trains. But it is striking that those same people who wouldn't put a rivet wrong on their loco are remarkably casual about their boats. It is, of course, gratifying that one of the layouts at the Eastbourne Miniature Steam Railway featured a canal
complete with tunnel, bridge, and a modern and a historic boat. And, excitingly, an accident waiting to happen as the historic boat - if indeed that be its fore end - makes a spectacular hash of exiting the tunnel (one worthy of me circa 2007, perhaps).

Now, joshers are not my forte, but this - unless it has stolen a set of cloths - purports to be one.
But it doesn't look much like one I've ever seen. When I first saw the model, I thought it was the stern end of a horseboat (and not a josher one at that). Rather like my icebreaker (thanks, anonymous commenter!), it appears to be sitting on top of the water.  It has no strings (how could they forego the joy of making strings out of sewing thread?) Likewise, ropes. It has no sidecloths, come to that. What is that protuberence, too big, too far back, and the wrong shape to be a mast? Was this, I wonder, based on a real boat at all; even a photo of one?

Not that this spoiled my enjoyment at all, as you can no doubt tell.