30 January 2009

Death of a legend

I just read on the BBC website that the legendary Bill Frindall, or 'Bearders', has died. I've followed cricket now for many years, and Test Match Special is my staple source of live cricket coverage (after a brief dalliance with Sky Sports).

For those less familiar with the game, the scorer is a skilled and somewhat elevated role with great responsibility. You need to know all the rules, have endless patience and good eyes (and/or a pair of binoculars).

Bill provided analysis for TMS, and was rarely caught short when asked for an obscure statistic - and people tried very hard to challenge him.

TMS won't quite be the same without Bearders. He'll be missed by many.

16 January 2009

Bus spotting

I saw my first atheist bus today - I didn't think we'd get them in lowly Lancaster. I also saw this on the Church Times blog.

14 January 2009

Shaky start

I posted earlier in the month about new year's resolutions, and I thought I'd post an update. You might say that I have failed in both of my resolutions so far, but I do have an excuse. Mrs Lanky and I are currently house-sitting for a friend, and this includes looking after a small menagerie too. All of this means that we have a longer daily commute and extra animal feeding duties, and the upshot is that there isn't a lot of time left to read books or say offices. I have been better on the reading than the praying - I'm getting through the Trescothick autobiography at a reasonable rate (for me), but my success with the offices has been less encouraging, though I'm going to try to break back into a compline routine this evening.

Slumdog Millionaire

We went to the cinema last night for the first time in ages, and I was very impressed by Slumdog Millionnaire. Usually I read the reviews before choosing a film, but this time I went in more or less blind. The film is fast-paced from the beginning, and the switching timeframes make for an intense introduction. Once you get into the style and start to anticipate the plot, the viewing becomes compelling.

One health warning - you do have to be prepared for some fairly graphic violence, though this is limited to a few scenes, and it's instrumental to the plot.

I was particularly impressed with the casting, which accommodates three different actors for each of the principal characters. The transitions between each period in the film was very believable, and this was largely down to the quality of the acting, particularly by the young actors used.

The main plot device (no spoilers here) is clever, and echoes the often-implausible nature of films from the Bollywood genre, from which the film borrows many ideas.

All in all, this is a great film with good actors and a fantastic soundtrack. The whole thing is rounded off by the best closing credits I've seen in a long time.

If you're going to go to see it, I'd recommend curbing your instinct to read about the film beforehand, as this will probably diminish the experience.

13 January 2009

Sleep yourself better

I was interested to see this news on the BBC website today. I know it sounds like common sense, but US researchers have found that less than 7 hours sleep per night makes you more susceptible to colds. It looks like an early night tonight then!

12 January 2009

Credit Crunch

Following my post about the credit-crunch-defying success of the Booths chain of supermarkets, I saw some less happy news on the BBC website the other day. Mercer's of Blackburn (a sells-everything ironmonger and hardware store) looks like it will cease trading after 150 years in Blackburn.
Somehow, this hits a bit harder than the news about Woolies. Perhaps because it's an independent business, and perhaps because I have memories of shopping there when I worked in Blackburn.
It really is an archetypal, old-fashioned shop that you used to find in every town. Following the rapid expansion of DIY superstores, I can't imagine there are many left.

8 January 2009

Booths supermarkets

We do the vast majority of our shopping in Booths - click here for a BBC story about the northern chain of supermarkets.
We don't shop there for the price - it is more expensive than the others - we shop there because of the emphasis on quality local produce and small scale customer service.
When we were in there the other week, we saw a young sales assistant walking round the store with an elderly lady and her shopping list, helping her to find all the products she needed. I can't imagine any of the 'big 4' routinely offering a service like this.

7 January 2009


It looks cold in Dorset at the moment! You don't often see the sea frozen around Brtitain. This is the rare scene in Poole Harbour, Dorset.

New Year's Resolutions

I don't usually go in for New Year's Resolutions, but I've made an exception this year. I've decided that I will aim to read from a book for an hour per day. I got a small pile of books for Christmas, and I'm determined to read them all!
My current book is Marcus Trescothick's autobiography, which is very good so far (I'll post a review when I've finished it), and I've managed to do more than my hour each day.
My other resolution is to try to say at least one of the offices every day; I've had less success with this one, but I'll perservere.

Pietersen resigns

**UPDATE** Looks like Cricinfo believe the story even if the Beeb don't. They're saying that Moores has gone too.

Auntie is back on the ball, and Mihir Bose sounds fairly convinced about the news. Also, fellow blogger Dave Keen has been quick of the mark.

According to
Sky it looks like Pietersen has resigned as captain of the England cricket team. Not a massive surprise, but it looks like all the pundits were wrong in suggesting that both he and Moores would have to go.

5 January 2009

Today Progamme amusement

I heard this on the radio this morning, and, being a follower of Ben Goldacre's blog, I was fairly confident that he wouldn't make an unsubstantiated claim on national radio. He was commenting on the detox industry, which booms at this time of year, and he commented directly on the claims made a company's website. The MD of the company was his co-interviewee, and she denied that the content he quoted was from her comany's website (it was).

The father of science

A few months ago I did a presentation at our group for postgraduate students about the birth of photography. In my research, I came across a chap called al-Hassan Ibn al-Haytham. I had assumed that Newton was the father of optics as we know them, but my reading led me to the discovery of the aforementioned chap, who is reputedly the first person to get to grips with the fundamental nature of light as we currently understand it.
I was very interested to find out about a thinker, whose name I'd never even heard, yet who could have had such a fundamental contribution to science.
The BBC have obviously heard about my momentous discovery and a three part series sbout al-Hassan Ibn al-Haytham will start tonight at 9pm on BBC4 presented by Professor Jim Al-Khalili from the University of Surrey. Should be good!