Grandpa and Watches

I remember my Grandpa once telling me that he only used watches where the seconds hand traces a smooth path around the face; he believed that time does not stop and so the watch should reflect that simple fact.

Today, family and friends gathered together to say our goodbyes to Grandpa, who peacefully passed away last Tuesday at the age of 96. His intellect, aptitude and force of personality were an inspiration to me, the family and the wider community. Even with 70 years between us, I have already realised that I will not be anywhere near as complete a person as Bernard was, but when I am in my latter days, I can see that I was a fraction of him, I will consider that an accomplishment.

Even in his later years, he made tables (including the one I am sat at now), tinkered with cars, was perennially out with the perennials in the garden (or ‘enthusiastic pruning’ as my Grandma called it), reading and walked a couple of miles a day. Essentially, he put us all to shame.

To make a rather tortured analogy, we should all treat our lives like Grandpa’s watch; life does not stand still, it flows through us, past us every single second of the day. If we stop, life continues continuing because time is perpetual. Instead we have to lean into the steady motion of the clockwork and always let movement be the constant.

EU’ve got to be kidding me

Yes, I couldn’t resist the title, it is like a headline from The Sun but that is probably the only positive contribution they make to the debate.

Like a farter on a roundabout, the debate over the EU smells and returns all too often. Migrants this, straight bananas that; only negativity makes its way through. Of course a few of the thousands of EU employees do something stupid once in a while, but it must be said that Westminster doesn’t manage policy roll-outs all that much better. Yes, the EU has a tendency to over-reach and develop it’s own governmental logic, but resolving that can be achieved by active collaboration with other member states, rather than cutting off your nose to spite your largest trading partner.

As the Eurosceptics grow ever more feverish, like Gremlins after midnight, those that are pro-EU need to step up and be more than mere Euro-apologists. There needs to be a proper articulation of why membership matters, especially as it isn’t a difficult case to make. For a long while, politicians have been content to be led rather than lead public opinion and yet we still wonder why our public sphere is weaker. Elected officials have to counter the lazy claims of UKIP and use facts (sadly a rarity in this debate) to trump scaremongering.

The EU isn’t a perfect democratic vehicle, but it would be hypocritical to criticise it from our beaten up banger.

The Life of a Crab

Sideways, sideways; always sideways.

Sideways is a essential for a goalkeeper, or a boon for a farmer working the seabed, but I’m a salesman;

Sideways enslaves me to the horizontal. Yes, I don’t have to turn 90 degrees when squeezing past people, I can sidle past

Sideways. But when you have the Atlantic Ocean to contend with, space is not a problem.

Sideways stops me cuddling my crablets when they have a cut to their claw.

Sideways prevents me from scuttling into the arms of my amore.

Sideways on stairs is not straightforward. Yes, we’re not fazed on a skyscraper’s ledge, as we slide

Sideways by default; but we also don’t have the height to be able to see how far up we are.

Sideways isn’t a choice that we make, but a lifestyle we are forced into

Sideways. This may be mordant, but being a crab means you learn to see the world slightly



My Mustache brings all the Girls to the Yard

Moustaches are all well and good but certain wearers can look like a 1980’s pervert.

Coffee Shop Confessions


Here we are in one of the most magical months of the twelve month cycle. It’s a season of pumpkin pie consumption, alluring red coffee sleeves from Starbucks, and being thankful for gluttony. But more than any of these reasons (Because I’m American, and am therefore allowed to arbitrarily rank things however I wish) is that we get to enjoy the preferred nut of cultured men everywhere, the mustaccio.

A brief walk through history is all one need take to see the warmth of the mustache fire which men are inexplicably drawn to. It is a transcender of race and culture, bringing people together across borders and even oceans. Just look at photos of the Big Three from World War II – Stalin, FDR, and Churchill. Of the three of them, who looks the most comfortable and friendly? Stalin. Would we make a deal with an angry communist? I think…

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Fireworks and Freeloaders

As a child I wasn’t a fan of fireworks; you had to be outside IN THE COLD and they were exceptionally loud to my small delicate ears. And as an adult I am agreeing with my younger self. For the first two or three pops, bangs and/or whizzes the ‘Oohs’ and ‘Ahhs’ cannot be suppressed and merrily escape from one’s mouth, bringing us one step closer to the little green aliens from Toy Story. Yet fireworks have a very steep boredom gradient ([Repetition x Frequency]/Temperature) and by the fiftieth explosion you have developed a crick in your neck and cold eyes.

– I hate cold eyes. I have always wanted to lift my eyelid up and blow a hairdryer underneath, yet I doubt its efficacy and I am sure my optician wouldn’t recommend it – 

These slight medical maladies can also be coupled with the expense of fireworks regardless whether you buy them yourself or go to a public display. The latter has confused me for many years: why pay £5 to enter a park when I can get exactly the same show for free by standing the other side of a fence? Probably that is the killjoy-freeloader aspect of my personality coming to the fore and really you are paying for the atmosphere of having many people around you saying ‘Ooh’ and ‘Ahh’.

But by sitting in my freeloader’s ivory tower, I can get the best view of all the fireworks. And I didn’t spend a penny.

Here’s what’s wrong with hijab tourism and your cutesy “modesty experiments”

Interesting -though it misses the point of the articles on ‘hijab tourism’. The value of these articles IS that they are written from an outsider’s perspective; it helps us Western dunces understand these things.

Ms. Muslamic

Hijab: sometimes, it feels like everyone’s giving it a try. Lauren Shields is just the latest feminist to embark on a ‘modesty experiment’ based on the veiling traditions of Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Last year, a teenager on Tumblr wore hijab to the mall and ended up with 200,000 reblogs. In 2010, a young journalist went ‘undercover’ in hijab for a month to find out what it was like. Liz Jones wore the burka in 2009; Danielle Crittenden over at HuffPo wore it all the way back in 2007, like some kind of Cultural Appropriation Hipster. Over at Vice, Annette Lamothe-Ramos wandered around New York in a burka and then wrote a really insensitive article about the experience. Apparently if you’re stuck for ideas for content, a reliable fall-back is to dress like a Muslim woman for a day or so and then bang out…

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Don’t Forget to Write


Summer is winding down in my neck of the woods, where I am back at work getting ready for a new school year. As I sit at my desk today prepping syllabi and selecting readings, I am thinking about an essay I posted here about a year and half ago about memory processes (Memory: It’s all good). Turns out the essay provoked a bit of blog-o-sphere controversy. In it I stated, among other things, that writing by hand yields greater memorial outcomes than does typing. That is, if your aim in studying is to deeply process the material you should paraphrase and record the information with pen and paper, not with keystrokes. Typing, I said then, is an automatic process that stimulates little thought, whereas writing is an episodic process that engages your semantic memory system more deeply.

That portion of my memory essay caught the attention of…

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Apple is still innovating… perhaps just not how you’re expecting

Offence Taken

Do you know what I’m tired of? I’ll tell you.

I’m tired of seeing advertisements for smartphones that make me feel inadequate.

I’m tired of seeing beautiful people in private member’s clubs, looking no more dishevelled as they pour themselves out of cabs at five in the morning than Kate Moss on a photo shoot.

And I’m really tired of learning that people who own smartphones are always having fun, laughing over upbeat music, as they sit there in their perfect clothes, running around beautiful landscapes, taking photos of all the friends they’ve made because they have the coolest phone on the beach.

Advertising fatigue

These kinds of advertisements are not for consumers like you and me; they’re for a demographic of early smartphone users who have long since disappeared. How do I know? Because we all now own one. And yet, this is still the way we’re being…

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