Q. What’s black and white and red all over?
A. A sunburnt penguin.
I guess that that traditional gem becomes less and less appropriate as an answer as newspapers are now printed in colour, and, anyway, we tend to read them online as a never-ending rabbit hole of hyperlinks, not as a monochrome printed artefact.
Continue reading “tiger tiger”
Apparently today is World Oceans Day, in honour of which, I have spent a stupidly long time researching things online. I started with the innocent question “How far am I from the sea?” and then fell down the rabbit hole of “What’s the centre of England?”
The answer to the latter question is by no means clear cut: according to the Wikipedia page on centre points of the UK, depending on the calculation method used, and on how much of Great Britain or the UK is included, you can even find a centre that is in the middle of Morecombe Bay. That would be a centroid point, the calculation of which is described by Rob Andrews from the Ordnance Survey in a BBC article as: “If you imagine cutting out the whole of the UK with a giant pair of scissors and balancing it on a church spire, it’s the balancing point.”
Continue reading “(not very) centred”
Way back in the distant past, I studied maths. In fact, due to some bad choices early in my life, I actually got as far as starting to study maths at university, although I moved to a less challenging course after the first year.
Despite not completing the maths degree, I remember enjoying the history of maths module and I have fond – though somewhat blurred – memories of learning about relativity through stories of stick figures who chased each other across the blackboard, one of them flashing a torch at the other with the light never arriving as they were travelling so fast.
Continue reading “correlations”
According to Google, today is the 971st anniversary of the birth of Omar Khayyam, Persian mathematician, astronomer, and poet. It seems slightly strange to me that we would know the exact date of birth of someone born nearly 1000 years ago, and I wonder how eastern and western calendar differences and the change from the Julian to Gregorian calendar affect things.
But even if there were good reason to doubt the accuracy of the date, I have no objections to celebrating Khayaam; I may not be able to read the original, but I’ve loved Fitzgerald’s translation of the Rubaiyat since I first came across it.
Continue reading “hazy memories”
Open mike nights are a chance to discover the words of other poets, writers and musicians and I usually sit with notebook and pen ready to jot down the ideas and phrases that appeal most, that capture my imagination or that challenge me to think more.
Last night I was a reader at a fund-raising event where the theme was homelessness. One of the phrases I wrote down was from local poet John Turner: “How to compare spring flower to crack den?” It’s a question that challenged me as it relates to why I wimped out of writing new and socially relevant poems for the event, instead reaching into my files, which overflow with spring flowers and poetry of place, to create a set based around the ideas of home, belonging and alienation.
Continue reading “of words and wild swans”
Of course it’s not May Day at all: it’s just May Day bank holiday in the UK.
May Day itself should have been last week, but passed unnoticed and uncelebrated.
The hawthorn trees and bushes have been in flower for several weeks, so it’s tempting to think that “may is out” and that it’s time to don summer clothing. But given the almost icy temperatures we’ve had overnight again recently, I think we would be unwise to pack away our winter woollies quite yet.
Continue reading “May Day”
When I left the house in Spain, I had to pack up all my books and put them in storage. I don’t know how many there were but, around twenty years earlier, fifteen boxfuls had followed me from the UK to Madrid. I’ve never been one for reading and abandoning a book, so in the intervening period the number may well have doubled. Perhaps one day I’ll be re-united with them.
Since arriving back in the UK, I’ve tried to be reasonable about acquiring more as I simply don’t have the space. But for some reason, I like to own what I have read and my few bookcases are full to capacity.
Continue reading “dirty habits”