Windows 7 – host a party!

September 24, 2009

“In a lot of ways it’s just a house party, but with Windows 7 as an honoured guest”

Yey! A house party with all my friends…to do  some worksheets around a new operating system….er, yay!

This is not a spoof ad. This is a real ad made by one of the world’s richest companies.

It’s very strange. Perhaps I have fallen into a weird trap and they have done a Derren Brown on me here. (After all, I did buy 153 copies of Songsmith)

       “It’s nice to end the party by showing them It makes a nice wrap up”

For a company with a mahoosive budget, they sure have a weird take on advertising.

 Old lady:  “Some activities require custom equipment”
Black chap: “yes, for example, you’ll need two computers if you want have a web chat”


Silly Microsoft.


Times Science editor scandal

September 18, 2009

July 2009

The Times is looking for a senior editor to join the Science, Health and Environment team as the paper seeks to build its coverage in print and online. The Times has an outstanding reputation for its science coverage and an award-winning reporting team so this will be a challenging and rewarding role.

The successful candidate will be required to develop ideas and work with our specialist writers, other columnists and experts as editorial initiatives that focus on developments in science, health, technology, engineering and environment are introduced. He or she should have extensive experience in editing and commissioning words and illustrations (pictures and graphics) as well as an ability to work closely with advertising and marketing to develop commercial opportunities. A science background is not essential. 

Candidates should submit their application and CV in writing to D—- C—–, Managing Editor, by post or e-mail to d—-.c— by Monday July 20 2009.


Can I get a FFS?

Alderney, a tiny island

September 13, 2009

We flew this weekend to Alderney, one of the Channel Islands, for my cousin Alice’s wedding.

The plane that took us there from Southampton seated 16, and was the smallest plane I’ve ever been in.



This is actually take off from Alderney – as you can see it’s very picturesque and I was strapped to the underbelly of the aircraft in order to take these pictures.


I lie. This is the interior. The air stewardesses had a hell of a time getting the trolly down the aisle.

It’s ok though, the airport authority of the States of the Channel Islands are a totally professional outfit.


They only had the one lampost on the island, but it was massive!


Even better, they’d mounted a foghorn on the top of the rental cottage under the giant lampost. Couldn’t see where to plug my ipod in unfortunately, so the islanders were denied a 500kw preview of the new Cassette Electrik album.


This picture doesn’t do justice to the incongruous combination of:
a) a 1938 Northern Line tube, taken out of service in 1996
b) a WWII look-out post
c) a Dr Who style abandoned quarry
d) a rusting quarry machine (in distance, not really visible)


One of the things I didn’t know much about before arriving was the fact of the German occupation of the island between 1940-5. However, there is evidence of it everywhere. This is actually just a water tower built during that time, but it just exudes a sense of dread. (check those evil spikes – for long since disappeared cladding? Or just to enhance the Nazi evil?)


Some of the islanders haven’t really let go of that part of their history…


On wall above the bar: “DON’T MENTION THE WAR”

Detail below of three Hitlers flying up the wall (and newspaper headline ‘The Herd Reich’)


Which is ‘fine’ – except for the fact the small group of us who went in there included a family member who happens to be German…

Still, that was only a small part of the weekend. The wedding itself was fantastic and we had a great time walking around the three by 1.5 mile island. It’s extremely picturesque, and the wildlife was quite friendly too.


Notting Hill 2009 & Maracatu & Samba Reggae

September 8, 2009

Maracatu : Sunday 31st August

Having had a bit of a break from the London group Maracatu Estrela do Norte I’ve been looking forward to playing with them at Carnival for a few months now and have been to the rehearsals down in Peckham, etc. (Maracatu is the drumming music from NE Brazil, which I played for several years and even visited Brazil in 2006 to study further)

Here are the drums unloaded from the van, as it’s important to know what a pile of drums looks like. It looks like this:


I haven’t seen my good friend Marcus for about three years since he moved to Luxemburg to translate ‘words’ for the EU. He’s extremely pleased to see me too:


Maracatu is an extraordinary music and culture that has it’s origins in 16th & 17th century Brazil, the time of slavery. During carnival celebrations in those days the slaves were allowed for the duration to dress up as the King and Queen of their group and to represent them in the parades. A whole Louis XVIth style court would be represented, including parasol holder and below, an ambassador as well.


Accompanying the court and their drummers would be a retinue of dancing girls, with choreography reflecting their daily lives of tilling the land, domestic duties, and other activities. Our dancers are led by a beautiful Brazilian lady called Mariana:


Here are the drummers. I’m at the back somewhere out of shot..


Here I am, out of shot at the back again:


We had a great time parading round the Notting Hill streets. We were actually taking part alongside the Jamaican Twist float, which is why we’re wearing slightly incongruous Jamaican flag t-shirts, despite playing the music of Brazil!

There were so many people filming us and taking pictures that if I find any videos online or indeed an actual picture of me to prove I was there, I’ll post ’em!

Update: Footage found!
@ 10 seconds & 5 mins

Monday 1st September – Samba Reggae

Monday is party day at Notting Hill and the sun also came out to party with us, which was great. On Monday we played Samba Reggae – a very different Brazilian style to maracatu, and one that originated in the 70’s in the region of Bahia. As the name suggests it takes it’s influence from the very Brazilian style of samba and the Caribbean/Jamaican sounds of reggae.

It is, in my humble opinion, funkier than funk itself.



It’s difficult to take pictures of us playing when I’m also playing, so these pictures are of us at rest.

This is Sam, the band leader for both groups. He’s looking a bit like we messed up a break in this pic, or he might just be concentrating.


Pants to Poverty!

We had dancing girls on the Monday who were wearing splendid ‘pants to poverty’ pants and .. not much else.




Audience reaction was great, and we frequently had moments were people would come from the crowd to show us their moves – one group were a breakdance troupe who had all the moves. Windmilling on tarmac can’t be very comfortable, but those guys achieved it!


Supermalt were giving away free drinks. A convenient surface  nearby provides a barometer of popularity of the drink:


ie, not especially popular.

Here’s a cool drum and bass DJ in a church doorway.


 A good time was had by all and the atmosphere seemed really good for both days, which was great.

After 5 hours of drumming on both the Sunday and Monday, we were all pretty knackered….


See ya there next year, eh?!