27 February 2013

Dates

One for the pedants amongst us from today's XKCD ...


ISO 8601 also defines:
  • use of the Gregorian calendar
  • dates are of a fixed number of digits, so leading zeros are required
  • the week begins on a Monday
  • week 1 of the year as the week with the year's first Thursday in it
  • and similarly for times.

There's a full discussion of the ISO 8601 standard on Wikipedia.

26 February 2013

Word : Goolies

OK, so let's have another word. I've just finished reading Filthy English: The How, Why, When and What of Everyday Swearing by Peter Silverton. Yes, it's interesting but not deep and quite light-hearted — as one might expect. One thing he said which I didn't know (or had long forgotten) is the origins of the word goolies. So today we bring you...

Goolies, or as the OED would have it gooly (in the singular).

Yes, in standard English it normally appears in the plural and means the testicles.

According to the OED, which hedges its bets slightly, it is "apparently of Indian origin", like from the Hindustani golí, a bullet, ball, pill. Curiously the first referenced citation is only in 1937 — I would have expected it to be around 100 years earlier. It was certainly a word I learnt quite early in my school days, so it must have been in regular North London usage by the end of the 1950s.

Usefully(?) gooly also means a stone or pebble in Australian slang. (Well again, so the OED says.)

What is also interesting is that the OED doesn't know the origin of the cricketing term googly (a ball which spins from leg to off when bowled by a right-arm bowler to a right-handed batsman) and which one might expect to be related to gooly. So who knows?

Anyway there's another Indian word you know, to go along with pyjamas and bungalow.

Buggered Britain 15

Another instalment in our occasional series celebrating the underbelly of Britain, at least as perpetrated locally. This is the Britain which we wouldn't like visitors to see and which we wish wasn't there. The trash, abused, decaying, destitute and otherwise buggered parts of our environment. Those parts which symbolise the current economic malaise; parts which, were the country flourishing, wouldn't be there, would be better cared for, or made less inconvenient.

This empty shop (at one time I recall it was a double glazing showroom) is at Rayners Lane, in west London, opposite the tube station. This was a nice small local shopping area, even when I worked there almost 30 years ago. But no longer. Now it is decidedly scrofulous and decaying; populated only by Asian and Polish establishments which never seem to do any trade.

Buggered Britain 15

And as you'll see that above is next to this ...

How to make your eaterie look attractive - Lesson 6

Which has definitely been tidied up a bit in the last couple of years, but to me still looks pretty disreputable.

25 February 2013

Weekly Photograph

No story behind this week's photograph, it's just one of those things one seems.

Bollard 2
Bollard
Lyme Regis harbour, July 2006

24 February 2013

Word : Mehari

Mehari

An Arabian, single-humped camel, used for riding and racing. A racing dromedary.


Also a French risk analysis methodology. See Wikipedia

23 February 2013

Five Questions, Series 3, #3

So here's another attempt to catch up a bit. Here is an answer to the third of the Five Question I posed some weeks ago.


Question 3. Of the things you’ve done in your life so far, what are you proudest of?

I'm not generally proud of what I do. I do things. The right things. And I expect to. In fact I usually expect that I'll do better than I do. And I'm not one for blowing my own trumpet. I just get on with things. So there is little to be proud of. So I find answering this rather difficult.

I suppose the things which has most surprised (and delighted) me, and hence something I am proud of, is that Noreen and I have been married for 33 years. Today that seems to be quite an achievement.

What's even better is that we have achieved it while doing two really environmentally friendly things: no children and no car!

What about you?

Weekend Amusement

You may have missed ...

Yet another in our somewhat irregular (well it is supply dependent) collection of links to items you may have missed. In some sort of random-ish order ...

It seems no-one knew how owls manage to rotate their necks through almost 360 degrees. Now they do; it's all down to some rather bizarre anatomy.

Is there economic opportunity in our current difficulties? A different take on our present predicament.

This seems like old news now, but here are a couple of reports on the "discovery" of the remains of Richard III: one from medievalists.net and a photoset from BBC News.

England is often held up as having some weird and outdated laws, but no longer. Here's a picture report from the Telegraph of examples from around the world. I'm especially boggled by number 14.

Then again only the English would worry about the intricacies of bubble and squeak!

Over in the Land of the Free there's been a bit of a brouhaha stirred up by actress Lena Dunham quite unashamedly appearing nude in her new show Girls. It seems that USanians aren't perturbed specifically be the nudity (oh, yeah?) but by the fact the Dunham does not conform to the toned, tanned and (almost) anorexic look that is always pedalled as being "normal". She is a regular girl, with normal breasts and decent-sized thighs. The is held up to be disgusting. Anyway here are three pieces of commentary dissecting the objections: How Lena Dunham Breaks the Rules of Naked TV & Why We Love Her For It; What Lena Dunham's Nudity Says About Us and The Audacity of Lena Dunham

While we're on the subject of brouhahas, we can't pass on without a couple of items on the horse meat scandal. Two nicely balanced pieces about the risks and issues: first from GrrlScientist and the second from Occam's Corner, both in the Guardian.

So here's the latest idea to keep your marriage on the straight and narrow; write a quarterly (the reports actually say every 4 months) report for each other about a recent disagreement. Seems to me all this is going to do is to highlight the cracks in the plaster and drive a wedge into them. Sceptical? Me?

Another piece of idiocy from the Land of the Free: a report on injuries inflicted during pubic hair grooming and which entail a visit to hospital. In the words of René Artois: The monde biggles.

For some reason which passes my comprehension, London Underground are installing a labyrinth in every tube station. I like labyrinths and mazes, but I am impelled to ask: Why?


Finally, something you won't find in every London Underground station: a public lavatory. Apparently Brighton council have decided that henceforth their public loos will be "gender neutral", ie. unisex. And about bloody time, say I; where's the problem. The French have been at it for years and they don't seem to have any problem. And many offices are now making their loos unisex. Makes a lot of sense to me. But it's different, and we don't like change.

By way of an apology ...

The last week has been just so busy, hence the total lack of postings.

I've been putting the quarterly Anthony Powell Society Newsletter together for the printers — although I'm not the Editor, I am the in-house production team, sub-editor etc. etc. As this is the 50th issue — something I never even dreamt of achieving — it is a larger than usual issue, so has taken more time. Why is it that proofreading — proper, detailed proofreading — always takes so long? Anyway the Newsletter should go to the printer over the weekend after a final check-through.

However the bulk of my time during the week has been taken up with writing what has turned into a 40-page report for my GP's Practice. A couple of weeks ago we, the Patient Participation Group organised by yours truly, helped run their annual patient survey. And of course I stupidly volunteered to key and analyse the data — well I know I have the skills to do it properly. With well over 500 records of data, the keying alone was no small job. Fortunately all the hard work of calculation I had pre-coded into a spreadsheet, so the bottom line numbers dropped out quickly. But then there were over 600 comments to analyse and turn into possible actions. All of that and more has to be written into a formal report, with tables and charts and a list of actions (with some justification). And every time you look at it something else pops up which really should be included. It isn't finished yet, but it is getting close and should be with the doctors on Monday or Tuesday.

On top of that I have been trying to take it a bit easy, so I really do get rid of this blasted UTI which came back 10 days ago. It seems to have subsided now. But it needs to stay that way.

Next week is shaping up to be busy again too. Just for starters I have a 40-page report to read, and think about!, for a meeting on Wednesday. The only problem is, I have to find it first, amongst the pile of paper on/by my desk! And there are all the other things I need to attend to which have been out aside in the last couple of weeks.

Will I get to watch the rugby this afternoon? No, probably not ... As everyone always says: How did I ever find time to work?

18 February 2013

Weekly Photograph

Sorry everyone, I've been neglecting you again. Last week was insanely busy, made worse by the fact that had my pre-Christmas bladder infection back again. There's lots to be done again this week, but hopefully I might get some catching up done here too.

Meanwhile I thought we'd have something to remind us that Spring is on the way, and that means summer, flowers, sunshine and (hopefully) warmth too. This is from our garden a few years back; the rose is Buff Beauty and it is supposed to be a bush, but it has gone like a beanstalk up through our silver birch tree.

Rose 'Buff Beauty'
Rose 'Buff Beauty'
From our garden, 15 June 2008

11 February 2013

A Load of Old Horse

The UK currently has a problem with horse meat.

Let's be clear from the outset that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with horse meat per se. Many countries eat horse, just a many countries eat sheep, pig, cow, goat, chicken, rabbit and guinea pig. The immediate problems are that (a) the British have this fetish about not eating horse — despite that many were glad to during WWII — and (b) the horse was being passed off as something it wasn't, ie. beef.


But let us look deeper, and ask what is the real root cause of the problem — because it is neither of the above.

The problem, my friends, is that the British are bone fucking idle. Josette Public doesn't cook. Indeed Josette Public probably doesn't know how to cook fresh food. Instead she relies on buying ready meals. And because she essentially doesn't care about her food she insists that what she buys is dirt cheap.

So we have some people now preparing ready meals, at knock-down prices. Once you do that, and the meals can be heavily chilled or frozen, they can be shipped across borders so production can happen anywhere. And because most of these meals are essentially made from minced meat, they can contain any old meat off-cut, from anywhere you like, as long as it is cheap. So we quickly establish "meat sans frontières" and a supply chain that spans the globe.

And once the supply chain is thus, it is easy for criminal activity to be perpetrated and for errors to go unnoticed. Unless I am going to do a lot of rigorous testing I have only my supplier's word that what he ships me is what he says it is — and so on ad infinitum. And am I going to do that testing? No of course not; I can't afford to as the supermarkets insist on the lowest possible price.

And all because the lady basally doesn't give a flying wombat — until she does, when she creates a stink not realising she is herself the underlying cause of the stink. She facilitated the whole mess.

If Josette Public bought fresh meat and cooked meals from scratch, she would (have to) take more interest; meat would need to be sourced from closer to home, and the shortened supply chain would make surveillance and quality assurance easier.

In this instance, as in many others, I'm afraid the British are their own worst enemies. And if you want the root cause if that? Once again I blame Harold Wilson.

Silly Meme

This meme is doing the rounds on Facebook. Just because I'm feeling like wasting time I thought I'd share it here too.

Age I was given: 30
I lived in: Chiswick
I was married to Noreen (by about 2 years)
I drove: myself into depression
I worked at: IBM in Sudbury Hill
I wanted to be: out of the scrofulous flat we lived in (and achieved it while still 30)
I feared: failure

I am now: 62
I live in: Sudbury Hill
I am still married to Noreen
I drive: a PC all day
I work at: retirement (and a little community giveback)
I want to be: financially secure
I fear: losing my marbles

Add a comment to this post and I'll give you an age so you can continue this silliness.

Weekly Photograph

This magnificent ivy-clad tree is in the churchyard of St Nicholas, New Romney, Kent. The grave in the right foreground is that of David Masey, my great-great-grandfather.

New Romney Churchyard
New Romney Churchyard
18 July 2009

Auction Rupert

Well it's time for another round-up of the strange and amusing from our local auction house.

However first ... If you're Rupert Bear enthusiast get down to Bainbridge's for this week's sale, because it's literally stuffed with Rupert memorabilia etc.

And so to some curiosities I spotted in this sale.

An oil of a man watering his horses in a river by BF Foster, signed and dated 1911, gilt frame

I've heard it called many things before but ...!

Two Continental silver articulated fish, both with red eyes, one of slender form with unicorn hallmark ... with removable head and interior fitted as a vinaigrette, probably 19th century, the other resembling a sole ...

An old wooden till, Royal Doulton Sherbrooke coffee set, a glass dressing table set, various glass vases and ornaments, etc.

A large quantity of advertising ceramic items including Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs, Wade toast rack, Tetley tea, Andy Capp and Flo, Wade pigs, Homepride flour men, Sunny Jim Wheatflake doll, Utterly Butterly and Tetley tea aeroplanes, Trotters Independent Reliant Robin, Bisto clock, Wallace & Gromit talking alarm clock, Dr. Who money box, Quaker Oats, 75th anniversary plate, etc., etc.

I worry that someone might actually want a Wallace & Gromit alarm clock!

Six Wade monks, four brass cannons, a collection of Platignum and Sheaffer pens, a GEC transistor radio, and a tray of silver plated flatware.

But why does a disparate collection of ecclesiastics need fountain pens and a radio?

A collection of porcelain model vegetables including cabbage, lemons, apple, asparagus, bowl of cherries, mushrooms, onion, etc., each signed with monogram AG and dated ...

An old ragged monkey who has seen better days but somehow can smile through it.

Two Victorian coloured glass lead windows, one depicting a kingfisher perched on a branch looking down on a spider, and another similar.

A large pair of moose antlers affixed to a shield wall plaque.

A Huntley & Palmers biscuit tin as a lantern, of conical form, and a tin plated water flask painted in red white and blue, probably 19th century French

Four cartons of bed linen including Ralph Lauren ...

¿Que?

A fabulous lotot (sic) of books for ballet lovers including signed copies by Margot Fonteyn, Julia Farrow, Pamela May, Violetta Elvin, Beryl Grey, Alicia Markova, Ninette de Valois, Robert Helpmann, etc.

A boxed Pink Panther lamp, Star Wars paraphernalia, four boxed die-cast vehicles and an ET hand puppet.

A collection of humorous and other nicknacks, including a saucy cruet, glass flower vases, a Victorian cup and saucer, animal figures, a biscuit barrel, etc.

A metal parrot cage on castors.

10 February 2013

Recipe: DIY Ribs

Here's another culinary experiment from this evening. I did spare ribs, which are cheap, scrummy and so easy to do. Like all my recipes it was made up as I went along and is almost totally flexible. It went about like this ...

I had ...
a quantity of pork individual spare ribs. You will know how many you want to eat, but I'd allow at least 4 full-size ribs per person. You could buy a rack of ribs if you want, and that should work just as well, as would lamb or even beef. I happened to have bought single pork ribs.


For the sauce I used ...
3-4 tbsp HP Sauce
4-5 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tbsp olive oil
juice of a lemon (and the zest too if you wish)
3-4 tsp Worc. Sauce
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp garlic paste
1/2 tsp chilli paste (more if you wish)
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
salt & pepper

And then I did ...
Pre-heat the oven to 190C with fan (200C if no fan).
Use either a baking sheet with 1-2cm sides or a roasting tin. Line it with foil (unless you want to seriously upset the washer-up).
Rinse the ribs and spread them out on the tin.
Put all the sauce ingredients in a bowl and mix until you have a homogeneous sauce.
Pour the sauce over the ribs and turn the ribs until they're well coated in sauce.
Cover with foil and put in the oven.
After about 40 minutes remove the foil and return to the oven for another 20 minutes to crisp up.
Turn the ribs out into a serving dish/plate and pour over any remaining sauce.

I served these with a simple salad of tomato, onion, cucumber and canellini beans (plus the obligatory garlic and olives), hunks of good homemade bread and a bottle of hearty red wine.

It all disappeared!

08 February 2013

Vanity for the Weekend



Verily I say unto thee, all is vanity mirrors, yea even unto the connoisseur.

07 February 2013

Quotes

Another in our irregular series of quotes I've met and enjoyed. You did want some brain hurt, didn't you ...

An example of the sort of ridiculous fluff that I get in art based press releases ... "a group of new inter-related works that playfully transform the narratives and forms associated with the models and myths of Western science, art and spirituality into a multivalent personal cosmology and cultural map. Making the irreversible, reversible and the linear, cyclical he plays a choreographer of another logic code of sense and non-sense: a dream of causality." I haven't the faintest idea what he is talking about.
[IanVisits on Facebook]

Well, no, neither have I!

The following would, however, explain why I'm always tired ...

Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.
[Albert Camus]

We’re all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutual weirdness and call it love.
[Dr Seuss]

Right on, as usual, Dr Seuss!

I keep trying to convince some of my worry-wart friends of this next ...

If you believe everything you read, better not to read.
[Japanese Proverb]

Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.
[Mark Twain]

Mark Twain with an interesting approach to literary criticism!

If computers get too powerful, we can organize them into a committee — that will do them in.
[Bradley’s Bromide]

Yep, that should sort 'em out nicely! And then there's more mind boggling from New Scientist ...

[W]hen he was creating a new password at Nike.com, Terence Kuch was advised to include "At least 1 mixed case letter". He says he would like to, but "I can't find any in the alphabet".
["Feedback", New Scientist, 19/01/2013]

The following two quotes appeared in comment articles following the brouhaha in the US about Lena Dunham's new TV series Girls, in which she (a normally sized and shaped mortal) appears nude.


Truth is, we’d all probably be a lot less neurotic about our own bodies if we could get used to seeing and accepting the natural variety in other people’s — without shame, and giving no fucks.
[http://www.xojane.com/issues/lena-dunham-naked-nude]

The naked body is humanity at its most vulnerable and its most truthful, and it should be celebrated not only for its potential to be beautiful but also its potential to be funny, and awkward, and sad, and old, because this in turn is all that we are, and can be.
[http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/helen-charman/what-lena-dunhams-nudity-says-about-us_b_2507635.html]

Yes, absolutely!

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.
[Aldous Huxley]

And finally ...

Drawing circles, circles; innumerable circles concentric, eccentric; a coruscating whirl of circles that by their tangled multitude of repeated curves, uniformity of form and confusion of intersecting lines suggested a rendering of cosmic chaos, the symbolism of mad art attempting the inconceivable.
[Joseph Conrad, The Secret Agent]

Yeah, that's how my head feels a lot of the time!

06 February 2013

Five Questions, Series 3, #2

So let's try to catch up a little. Here is an answer to the second of the Five Question.


Question 2. What are three things about you that most people either don’t know or wouldn’t expect?

This is actually quite hard. Over the years I have answered this sort of question so many times that I think I've run out of things which you don't know about me. You know most of my medical history, about my childhood; my piercing; what I like and don't like; what I want to do and will not do. So what's left?

Well here are three things. I may have told you (some of) them before but I don't recall doing so.
  1. Never ask me to make, build or mend anything: I have the dexterity of a bull in a china shop and the patience of an angry wasp. And if you think I'm bad I have only 10 left thumbs. My father was far worse: he had 20 left thumbs. He even said it against himself: "If I mend the vacuum cleaner, I have a bicycle saddle left over".

  2. Very few people of any fame share my birthday; it seems to be a non-day in that respect. The best know three I can find are the former UK miners' leader and socialist agitator, Arthur Scargill; Harry Gordon Selfridge, founder of the eponymous department store in London; and the golfer Ben Crenshaw.

  3. I'm not scared of going to either the dentist or the doctor. Yes, OK, I get anxious about unpleasant treatments when I don't know what the medics are going to do to me — which I guess is normal. Most people seem to detest even the idea of going to the dentist. Conversely I enjoy it! I have a good relationship with my dentist, who's an interesting guy. I like his attitude as a dentist: the best will do for my patients, so he's right up with the best current technology. He doesn't do anything by way of treatment unless he needs to; he doesn't believe in taking gold out of one's pocket without good reason. He's highly skilled, inventive and amazingly dexterous; as he says "What is dentistry if it isn't DIY?". And we always seem to end up having an interesting or amusing conversation about something scientific or medical.

Will that do?

Now it's your turn to show me yours. 😉

05 February 2013

Mmmm ... Leftovers

There's a definite art to eating well but economically. Although we're on fixed, if comfortable at present, incomes we're not ones for scrimping on food — well we do most of our shopping at Waitrose and although many of their staples are price matched with Tesco and Sainsbury, many items are also of superior quality (in our option) and thus a little more expensive. I'd rather have good food, that tastes of what it is, than cheap rubbish.

So we make a policy, as we always have especially with meat, fruit and veg, of buying what's in season, looks good and is affordably priced (even better if it's on offer). If possible we also avoid buying anything which has been shipped half-way round the globe. Why buy New Zealand lamb when we have plenty in this country? Why do we import asparagus from Peru and mange tout from Namibia just so we can eat them in January? European produce is fair game, but we'll always buy British if we can, and hardly ever from outside Europe. Isn't it better to enjoy these things from local farms when they're fresh and in season? And support our own farmers?

But there is another aspect to this art of eating well but economically: using what you have in the pantry to best effect and not unnecessarily throwing away leftovers. And that's what I did this evening.

Leftover Duck Kitchen-Sink Nosh Loaf

This is what my mother would have called "a nosh up", what school dinners would call "hash" and what a chef would call a "meat loaf". The way I made it is nearer to the latter.

What follows will fill a large loaf tin and feed 4-5 generously.

I used ...
  • remains of Sunday's roast duck (a leg, the wings and the scraps off the carcass)
  • large packet of stuffing mix
  • medium red onion
  • 4 or 5 cloves of garlic
  • 12 or so green olives
  • a rather tired fennel
  • a good serving spoon of leftover cabbage
  • a very soft large slicing tomato
  • small dried chilli (optional)
  • dried mixed herbs, salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1 generous tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • good splash Worc. sauce
  • 1 egg

This is what I did ...
  1. Pre-heat the oven to about 200C (180C if fan assisted)
  2. Put the stuffing mix in a large mixing bowl and add a good pinch of dried herbs, a big grind of fresh black pepper, a very little salt, the tomato paste, garlic paste and Worc. sauce
  3. Make up the stuffing mix with just enough boiling water, as per the packet, and leave it to cool a bit
  4. Take the meat off the duck and chop it up finely
  5. Also chop the tomato and leftover cabbage and add it to the duck
  6. Finely chop the garlic, olives, onion, fennel and chilli, and put in a pan with a good slug of olive oil; sweat this mixture until the onion is translucent
  7. At this point if you think the stuffing mix is too dry add a very tiny amount more water — not too much because the tomato will create quite a bit of moisture
  8. Now merge the duck mix, the stuffing mix and the onion mix, add the beaten egg to bind it, and mix it together well
  9. While all this has been happening your tame slave has greased the loaf tin (or equivalent) and, if you wish, lined it with baking parchment
  10. Turn the mixture into the loaf tin and press it down well
  11. Bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes; it's done when a knife poked into the middle of the tin comes out hot after 5 seconds
  12. Turn the "loaf" out onto a large plate and remove the baking parchment
  13. Serve in slices (well it may be a bit soft for that when it's hot) with potatoes, veg and sauce of your choice (we had it with garlic potatoes and steamed January King cabbage)

Notes ...
  1. This will eat deliciously cold too, and in sandwiches
  2. If you can keep it overnight to cool, and press it too, it'll be even better
  3. Basically you can use anything that's to hand as long as there is stuffing mix (or breadcrumbs) and some protein (meat or beans); it's your choice whether your ingredients work together
  4. You can vary this almost however you like and it is worth experimenting; more flavourful meats (like duck or smoked bacon) work especially well
  5. If you're of a mind you can even make pretty layers or patterns with the ingredients
  6. If you're using bacon in this, do go easy on the salt!
  7. The same mix can be used to stuff peppers or marrow, or could be cooked in a pastry case to make pie
  8. And if you really want to be economical you can use the duck bones etc. to make stock

Quote : Reality

We should tackle reality in a slightly jokey way, otherwise we miss its point.

[Lawrence Durrell]

04 February 2013

Weekly Photograph

This is Hockney-esque joiner I did of the middle of Rochester, Kent back in 2007. The gateway leads towards the cathedral (behind the gate to the left) and the castle. The road running across the view is the High Street. The finished photo is made up of at least six solarised images montaged together.

Rochester Joiner 1

03 February 2013

Word: Yaffle.

Yaffle
  1. (n) The green woodpecker or it's call. (Onomatopoeic from its call.)
  2. hence ...
  3. (n & v) The call of the green woodpecker
  4. and also ..
  5. (n & v) A bark, a yelp.
  6. (n) (Newfoundland dialect) A handful; an armful, esp. of dried fish or kindling.
  7. hence ...
  8. (v) To gather up (a load of fish, etc.) in one's arms.
  9. (v) To eat or drink, esp. noisily or greedily.
Who remembers Bagpuss and Prof. Yaffle?


Five Questions, Series 3, #1

The last week or so has be rather busy again, so I've not had a chance to think about writing decent posts here. Hopefully the coming week will be a bit saner, although there is a bundle of things happening again after that.

Anyway I promised my answers to the Five Questions I posed almost two weeks ago.


Question 1. Please describe yourself in 25 words or less.

There are two ways to do this: in 25 words of descriptive text or as a series of keywords. I can't do the former as there is just too much I want to get in, so it will have to be a series of keywords. Try these for size:

Londoner; working thinker; retired; catalyst; facilitator; controversialist; former research chemist; scientist; photographer; organiser; project manager; ailurophile; ichthyophile; grey; meganedanshi; foodie; beer-drinker; obese; intelligent; idiot.

So what about you?