Posts Tagged ‘twitter’

The Internet


Or is it the World Wide Web?  I’ve no idea.

Either way, it’s great.  Isn’t it?


Now, I should declare (rather proudly, like the grumpy old man you know and love) that I do not have a smartphone, but I can now listen to BBC radio wherever I happen to be in the world, provided I lug my laptop (or borrow an iPad) and can find a wi-fi connection.  This, for me, is undoubtedly the single most important thing about the Internet.  Let’s call it that.  The Internet.  No, I mean the World Wide Web.  Somebody, help me out here.

Without it (the WWW, not the BBC), I’d not be able to communicate with you all.  I suppose I could get a job as a journalist, or a writer, or a columnist.  You know, someone who is (hopefully) paid to write; someone who has to get past an editor, (perhaps); someone who has to display a modicum of expertise, with the requisite background reading and/or research.

Hang on.  I just sat down to write something.  Without the comfort of a specific theme or project ( I realised that I had no idea where to go with this.  What you just read is what popped into my mind after I remembered this line:  “[It is] better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.”  According to Gooooogle (thanks again, Interweb), this aphorism is usually attributed to Lincoln (Abraham, not City) or Twain (Mark, not Never the … Shall Meet).  Who cares?  It is probably at its most pertinent right now.  Opinions are like arseholes, as that other saying goes.  Everyone’s got one.  The point is, my suspicions have been confirmed.  We are all pretty stupid, and FaceTwitInstaBlogs rather prove the point when they allow us to speak/remove doubt.  Ooooh!  That just reminded me of another favourite, courtesy of George Carlin.


Can you tell, I’m winging it, now?  There is no plan, no theme, no agenda, no purpose, other than the need to scribble some thoughts for my offspring to read in 2037.

Okay, I give in.  I’m reluctant to go there, but these are difficult times.  Worrying times.  Astonishing times.  Let’s jump on the Trumpwagon.  I admit, I knew almost nothing about Trump until a few months ago.  Now, thanks to the wonders of the Webternet, or more specifically Twitter, I can be pretty confident that he is a buffoon.  I’m not sure I have heard him described as such, but I rather like the term.  “A ridiculous but amusing person; a clown.”  I’ve heard comedians and satirist complaining that their job is now much more difficult, because Trump comedy or satire simply writes itself.  Amusing?  No, not really, although the whole Mexico/wall/pay issue has made me laugh more than once.  Genuinely, I couldn’t give a toss about the orange one, but I am terrified by the thought that so many people actually buy into the ravings and ramblings of this clown.  In the same way, I am dismayed that so many Brit’s will happily venture forth to their local newsagent and walk out with a copy of their preferred offering from the vile gutter press.  I cannot even bring myself to name the rags in question.  Whatever.  For me, the PotUSA is not the problem.  Foolishly, I tip-toed into a Facebook debate, soon after the Election, and although I remember little of the detail, I do recall that one (of countless) apologists was ecstatic to declare that x million Americans voted for Trump.  Indeed.  If Wikipedia is to be believed, y million Germans voted for that monster with the dodgy ‘tache in the 1930s, and we all know how that worked out, eh?  Where are we heading?  Step back, for a moment.  Over eight years ago, our American cousins elected Obama.  Even more amazing (to naive little old me) was that they re-elected him four years later.  Absolutely remarkable.  In my life I’ve witnessed the Berlin Wall coming down, the collapse of the Soviet Union, peace in Northern Ireland, Pompey in the FA Cup Final, the British Labour Party having a Socialist leader, Brit’s winning the Tour de France, but ‘mericans electing a black fella?  Twice!  Wow!  Surely, we had entered a new era.

Surely the Trump era is simply a blip, right?  I’d say God help us, but therein lies the problem.  Too many Gods.  Too many beliefs.  Too many faiths.  I’ve always taken what I shall term the analysts’ view… too many people duped into thinking their’s is the One True God.  Ergo they must all be wrong.  Never mind “prayers for [insert name of latest location of terrorist atrocity here]”, just get on and be decent human beings.  Prayers to some mythical being, you know, a being which is slightly at odds with my mythical being, your mythical being or their mythical being, are surely futile.

I need to conclude with a tune.  Just a song I’d like my children to enjoy.  One day.


It’s all about the Tone


This Tone?

Don’t be ridiculous.  A slice of late 8os hip-hop (or is it rap?) has no place here, although I admit it retains a certain je ne sais quoi.

No, I’m referring to the much-maligned tones in the Chinese language.  I say maligned.  I mean misunderstood, or misheard, or mispronounced.  It’s a minefield out there.

Anyway, I’m guessing that pretty much any foreigner who has studied Chinese lately will be familiar with this irritating little ditty.

Essentially, this revolves around the common problem of sleep and dumplings.

Sleep. 睡 (shuìjiào)

Dumplings. 水餃 (shuǐjiǎo)
[edit: the accents should be over the i and the a – can’t figure out how to get it to display it like that…?!]

I (now) understand the difference (4th tone and 3rd tone, respectively), but can I hear the difference?  Can I fu…

…nnily enough, no.  (Okay, I won’t use that again.)

On a more serious note, tone is rather important in English.  It can be very difficult to pick up on the intended tone of a Tweet or other written communication, and this is undoubtedly the root cause of much misunderstanding.  Sarcasm, among many other elements of language, has a heavy reliance on tone.  I’m looking forward to the day I am proficient enough in Chinese to *cough* compliment some of the more idiotic clowns in cars and on scooters.  “Hey! Nice use of the indicator, Coco!”

Back to sleep and dumplings.  I think this is why I feel more comfortable focusing my efforts on learning to read and write.

I think (我得, wǒ juédé) 睡 and 水餃 have nothing in common, so I needn’t fret too much about misreading and misunderstanding.
[Edit: as above, accent displaying in an odd way – should be over the o]

Oh crap!  The red characters, 我得 and 睡are written exactly the same way and have completely different sounds, tones and meanings.

Yeah!  Thanks a lot ancient Chinese scholars, or whoever it was who came up with this.  Learning Chinese is going to be so easy.



Follow you, follow me…*


The other day, something pretty exciting happened.  I woke to find a message from Twitter in my inbox telling me that David Gedge is now following me.  I assume it is because I tweeted about this song the other day:

An underrated classic.  I get goosebumps just thinking about it.

It made an immediate impact on me and it remains the only recording I have ever pre-ordered.  It also has associations tinged with sadness as it was released around about the time of the death of long-time Wedding Present fan and all round hero, John Peel.

*And there you were thinking that it was going to be about a mediocre Genesis track.  A fair assumption, as my subtitle comes from one of the great Gabriel-era Genesis tracks.

Nostalgia Ain’t What it Used to Be


Ask anyone of a certain age what has changed since their childhood.  Most will say that you just don’t see white dog pooh any more.  This is probably a good thing.  Maybe it’s because dogs are eating different food, or perhaps it’s because something else has changed.  Back in the twentieth century, you didn’t tend to see owners following dogs around with polythene bags, ready to scoop the poop while still hot from the bot.  Today, although the situation is not perfect, there is probably less chance of stepping in a steaming turd while walking in the park or going to the local off licence.

Now, there’s a thing – the local off licence.  There used to be a little cubby hole in the boozer from where we could buy crisps and Mars Bars, or beer to take home.  We were that hard-up, one Mars Bar had to be shared between four of us back then, and the cutter of the bar was last to choose a slice, while the ends were quickly bagsed by those desiring a greater chocolate to caramel and nougat ratio, but I digress.  I remember trawling through the hedgerows and ditches to gather discarded glass bottles which we could take back to said cubby hole in return for a penny or two at a time.  Deposits on glass bottles seemed such a great idea.  It funded my Blackjack and Sherbet Fountain habit for several years.

Car seatbelts.  It’s not that long ago that seatbelts were seen as some kind of optional extra.  Seatbelts for passengers in the back seats were unheard of and babies and toddlers simply found themselves on mum’s lap or rolling around in the load area, if fortunate enough to be travelling in an estate car.  One day, along came Jimmy Savile telling us that we should belt up or die a hideous death; later, some bloke came along and told us that we could be killed by an elephant (or was it a rhino?) coming from the back seat and through the back of our heads.  Today, for those of us using motor vehicles, seatbelts are part of our daily lives.  We clip-up with nary a thought, while our children are strapped into their personal pseudo Recaro bucket seats like some kind of dribbling, puking rally driver.  Rest assured they will not be metamorphosing into Dumbo any time soon.

A more recent change in our lives was the banning of smoking in pubs.  Imagine suggesting to some leather-faced, yellow-fingered puffer back in 1975 that smokers should assuage their nicotine cravings outside the bar.  Unthinkable.  Surely, smoking in bars was a good thing?  I recall not recalling coming home after a heavy night out, but the following morning the primary evidence of beer-fuelled shenanigans was a festering pile of clothes simply oozing with the scent of countless Woodbines.  You know how smells are brilliant reminders of particular times and places?  Well, the stench of stale smoke on my favourite merino polar neck jumper was reminder enough to keep me out of the Red Lion for days, if not weeks to come.  Today, the only evidence of a heavy night in The Jolly Sophisticate, or some other equally pretentious watering hole, is the massive hole in the finances or the faint whiff of Chanel No.5 picked up from the back of the sofa in the snug, (darling).

The Labour Party used to be Socialist.  Now they are centre-left.  For some reason, Mars changed the name of the Marathon to Snickers.  That’s just nuts.  The Royal Mail used to deliver twice in a day.  How on earth do we manage now?  Homosexuality used to be illegal.  Mobile phones had batteries big enough to start a Mercedes.  Berlin had that wall.

*Bland statement warning*. Things change and we soon forget what it used to be like in the good old days.

Most things change for the better, although I could do without the shift towards so much American English tripping off the tongues of the great unwashed.  Can I get a coffee to numb the pain?  I am so totally not able to ignore such bolleaux.  Awesome.

I don’t really understand how things suddenly change and achieve an air of acceptability, credibility or popularity.  There are so many avenues allowing even the most quiet and unassuming members of society to communicate with the wider world, how is it possible to achieve a level of interest that becomes self-perpetuating in a genuinely good way?  Late last year, I remember seeing a Twitter campaign in which a man made a bet that he could reach 1 million followers by Christmas.  The bookmaker stood to lose £10,000, I think. The winnings had been pledged to charity, so it was not a simple get-rich-quick scheme devised by some chancer in a Soho basement.  In spite of several months of hounding and cajoling, begging and pleading, the campaign failed.  The #twager Tweeter failed even to reach 10,000 followers.  Now, I’m no mathematician, but I can see that if there were a successful retweet phenomenon in which everyone followed an instruction, the numbers could become huge in a matter of minutes.  That charity could have made ten grand in an instant.  Meanwhile, vacuous so-called celebrities such as Bieber, Gaga, Price and the rest have millions of simpering followers hanging on their every word.

Back to the nostalgia.  In 1962, Tom Simpson was the first British rider to don the maillot jaune of the Tour de France.  He never won the race.  Today, the jersey sits on the shoulders of the British rider, Bradley Wiggins.  With five stages remaining, there’s a good chance that Wiggins will achieve what no other British rider has done.  Those in the know are asserting that the race is now his to lose.  Cyclists from the black and white era of film and television will be beside themselves with excitement, remembering how Simpson was pictured as a British gentleman (bowler hat et al) and how Wiggins is now being labelled as a gentleman for his recent action in neutralising a stage to allow his rivals to recover after tack-driven puncture sabotage.

Wiggins didn’t become a great rider by sitting on his arse.  He covers thousands of miles on public roads, throughout the year, often fighting for space on strips of asphalt shared with countless fast-moving metal boxes.  If he does win the Tour, I hope this will mark the start of something new and we will be looking back in ten years, wondering why we ever viewed grown men and women in lycra as some kind of hindrance, or as fair game for our ignorant, selfish ranting and dangerous, unthinking behaviour.

Vive le Tour!  May 2012 mark the watershed in the populace of the UK becoming lovers of cycling as a sport as well as a pastime.

June 2012


A few people have suggested that I start a blog.  Frankly, I’ve been thinking about doing so for some time, but have always shied away from the idea.   Who wants to read about my stuff?  However, as the big 50 nears, I’ve found a reason to jump on the blogwagon* and have decided to try and find my voice.  Who knows, at least I’ll have some form of diary to look back on in years to come – something to pass on to my child(ren) to explain what makes me tick, what makes me happy or sad.

Ten years ago the thought of giving up work to look after my son would have seemed ridiculous.  I was just finishing the first year of my degree and was about to return to Somerset for a another summer installing computer cabling and there was no potential mother to my offspring anywhere in my tiny circle of friends and acquaintances.  I was working long hours, riding my bike whenever I could, having just ventured into the dark world of road cycling after finding Loughborough somewhat bereft of mountains.  As I approached forty years of age I was as fit as I’d ever been – just a year later I was taking part in my first road race, proudly wearing the purple Loughborough jersey.  I even won a BUSA medal.  There can’t be many over forties who’ve managed that.

So, here I am a few days away from a half century, wondering what I should do from here to oblivion.  I now have a wife and a son (of 16 months) – the loves of my life.  I now own seven bicycles of various descriptions – evidently, cycling has become the only true passion of my life – and time to stay fit and train for racing again.  All the signals seem to indicate that a blog should have a definite theme, so if it’s not going to be about me or my family, it has to be my bikes and my interest in cycling, in whatever form that may take.  In truth, I’m not one for playing the amateur pundit.  I enjoy bike racing and I love bikes, but I’m not going to stand up and tell the world who’s going to do what, nor which equipment is the ‘must have’ for the season.  I don’t care what colour socks riders wear, nor how long they should be.  I just want to see good racing by honest athletes on beautiful machines and although this is probably still something of a naive triumvirate of expectations, I’m confident that things are improving.**  I’d like Christopher to grow up in an era where drug scandals are a genuine exception.  Come back in June 2032 and we’ll see how things have panned out.

*I’ve just Goooooooooogled blogwagon.  I’m not sure I’m using the term in the sense of blogging about a particular topic simply because everyone else is doing so.  Heaven forbid.  Rather, I’m jumping on the huge wagon of blogs.  I don’t even read any blogs, other than occasionally coming across a link to something written by some wannabe pro cyclist or a neurotic first time mother (thanks, Goooooooogle), although I became aware of the blog format offered by WordPress through links posted by one Andrew Collins via Twitter.  Ah, yes.  Twitter – the one form of social networking that appeals to my limited patience.  #hashtagscanbefuntoo

**News about the the latest Lance Armstrong/drugs accusations has just hit the headlines. #herewegoagain