Archive for the ‘2017 minus’ Category

2017 minus 07: Christmas Day

Posted: 25 December 2016 in 2017 minus
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Well, yes, it’s Christmas Day, and while I’ve deliberately not kept an eye on the stats for this seventy-five day countdown thing I’ve been running, I’m pretty sure that this entry will be among the lowest read. Quite understandable, of course; anyone likely to be reading this is almost certainly doing other things for most of the day: they’ll be with family, or out, or at friends, or on their own… point is that whatever they’re doing, catching up with this blog isn’t likely to be foremost on their minds.

Which means I can do anything. I can write anything, knowing that it’s not likely to be read.

Hmm.

Thing is, I have that freedom anyway. Not – I hope – for the same reasons as just stated, but because it’s my blog. I can write fiction, or express ideas, or just fill an day’s entry with repetitions of ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES JACK A DULL BOY, if I didn’t mind stealing from a Mr Torrance of the Overlook Hotel. 

But since you’ve been so nice and stuck with me so far…






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Merry Christmas, everyone…

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And here we are. One day before Christmas, eight days before the end of the year…

So something special today, as it’s Christmas Eve.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas – in six parts. The original, never bettered.





Jean Luc Picard gets into the holiday spirit

Most people have a classic as their first single ever bought. Mine? It was RentaSanta by Chris Hill.

And, finally, Tom Lehrer’s A Christmas Carol
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Tomorrow is Christmas; enjoy it as much as you can. There’ll be something here if you’re interested, but no worries if you’re not. 

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to 1st January 2017. You can see other posts in the run by clicking here.

2017 minus 09: Things yet to come

Posted: 23 December 2016 in 2017 minus

The past two day’s entries have briefly looked at things past (things I used to do that no longer do) and things present (things I do now that I didn’t used to do). And as an homage to the time of the year, here’s something on things yet to come. 

One of the things that has most struck me as my lad has gotten older, and I’ve watched him take to new technology, new social norms and new societal structures is the realisation that all of the foregoing not only change from generation to generation, but Douglas Adams’ Rules apply far wider than to just technology.

Things that seemed new and amazing to me – both in society and technology – are just… ‘normal’ for him and his contemporaries. Things that were normal for me and mine – but were new to my parents’ generation – are not only ‘the way things have always been’ for him and his, but are old hat, so much the norm that it’s odd to think they were ever otherwise. That makes me wonder what things that to his generation are – or will be – ‘new’ will be regarded by future generations as ‘the norm. 

As previously, three or four examples.

Social structures In the past couple of years, equal marriage – such a nice and more accurate term than the previously derogatory ‘gay marriage’ by which it was previously known – has become accepted in law by so many more states and countries that it’s truly astonished me. The sheer speed at which its happened has blown me away. That’s not to say, nor to pretend, that the entire process from start to finish has been speedy; it hasn’t. But the decisions to make it legal, they’veseemed  the past couple of years, to come one after another after another… at a breathtaking pace. And, mostly, in one direction: making something that was illegal… legal. I’ve no sympathy for the arguments that if “this is the thin end of the wedge”, you’ll  end up with incestuous relationships made legal, or bestiality or any of the dozen or more ridiculous and ludicrous suggestions made. I have, though, some sympathy with the suggestion that once marriage was moved away from the description of “one man + one woman” to “one person + one person” that there’s an argument for extending it to “x person(s) + x person(s)”. I struggle to find a logical reason why polyamorous relationships and marriages shouldn’t be allowed, and I’d be surprised if, in the next few decades, that doesn’t come up for discussion.

Political structures (I’ll freely admit that I’m writing this before Donald Trump has taken office so who knows what the fuck the future holds?) The political systems – the makeup of executive and legislative branches of government as well as the judiciary –  we have were, for the main part, designed at least a couple of centuries ago, and maybe it’s a measure of how seriously regard them as fixed that they have hardly changed in that time. In the US, a system designed in a time when it took several days to travel, is expected to operate the same way when it now takes mere hours, when visual communication is to all intents and purposes instantaneous. The demands of elected representatives )not delegates, or nt yet anyway) have grown beyond all measure and beyond anything that could have been foreseen when the systems were designed. I have no idea what the evolution is likely to be, but I would be astonished if the political structures we see today can bear the weight of history, and of changing demands, for another two decades, let alone longer. 

Technology It was Arthur C Clarke who said that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” He himself was not immune from this rule, as he once explained: while he would have believed anyone who told him back in 1962 that there would one day exist a book-sized object capable of holding the content of an entire library, he would never have accepted that the same device could find a page or word in a second and then convert it into any typeface and size from Albertus Extra Bold to Zurich Calligraphic”, referring to his memory of “seeing and hearing Lynotype machines which slowly converted ‘molten lead into front pages that required two men to lift them’”. So what technology in the future would/will seem like magic to me? The problem is that I’ve read – and seen – so much science fiction, I’m not entirely sure much would be ‘magic’ to me; I’d trust it to be science and be relatively ok with me not understanding the science behind it. I don’t completely understand the science that runs my iPad and yet I use it every day. I don’t understand the true difference between .mkv files and .mp4 files, but I’ll happily watch either. I’m not even sure I nowadays remember the science behind analogue radio, let alone digital broadcasts.

But, those caveats fully aired, what technology do I see coming our way? I’m not convinced by the idea of wearable tech other than that I’m pretty sure they’ll master Google Glass or something like it. A mixture of augmented reality and Heads Up Displays will allow us to overlay digital information on whatever we see. I’d be astonished if when meeting someone we know, there’d not be information presented for us: name, whether it’s their birthday, wife’s name, children’s names, job title etc. And similarly, when meeting someone for the first time, whatever information we already have plus an invitation to ‘connect’ digitally. I don’t see matter transportation – well, human teleportation anyway – coming for quite some time; I’d be surprised if it came during my lad’s lifetime let alone mine. And for that reason, I’d be astonished if we as a species ever ventured beyond Mars during my lifetime. The distances are simply too far for ‘normal’ travel. Will we get warp speed? Well, if the history of humanity tells us anything, it’s that if it does occur, odds are it’ll be developed by, or with the money of, the military. 

In ten years, we’ll look back at the current iPad, iPhone (other makes and models are available) and wince at the primitive tech that was inflicted upon us. (Don’t believe me? Think of how happy you’d be right now to be given an iPhone 4 or an iPad 1 as a Christmas present this year. And both were unleashed only six years ago. Ten years ago today, neither the iPhone nor the iPad existed.) 

About the only thing I can confidently predict about the tech that will be offered to us, say, in 2026 will be that it won’t live up to the concept videos that fans of the product will release in their “what do we want in the next version of [insert phone of choice]’ video holograms on YouTube, or whatever the video-hologram venue of choice is in 2026.

One more thing that’s worth throwing out there… the iPhone wasn’t he first ‘smartphone’ available for purchase by the public. It’s arguable that it’s the best smartphone, but only arguable, not conclusive. However, I think it’s fair to say that it was a game changer. Similarly, the iPad, while not being the first tablet out there, was definitely a game changer; it took the idea of a tablet from a niche item to a general item, something that wouldn’t be unusual to own. 

And that’s what I think will happen in the future; the secret to new technologies isn’t the technology itself; it’s the moment when an item (whether it’s a car, a telephone, a washing machine, a microwave) goes from being a concept, to something novel, to something everyone regards as unsurprising when someone else, someone you know, owns one. And the next big thing that’ll happen to I don’t know. I doubt many people know. But it’s a coming, and it’ll be surprising; what has changed, is he speed by which his process of innovation occurs. The concept to market prices has been sped up and whatever the Big Thing is in 2026, ten years from now, can’t be guessed at now, because it’s probably not even in the concept stage. But odds are, by 2027, you’ll want one if you don’t already own it.

People Take a good look at the people you like, the people you love, the people you admire. In years to come, some of them won’t be there. Some of them, it’s true, will still be around, or at least alive, but you’ll no longer like, love nor admire them; they won’t be part of your life any more, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But some of them? Some of them will have died. Some will have died from old age (unless you’re very uncommon, some of the people you like, love and admire are getting on in years…); some will have from accidents, some from illness, some from choice. (And when I say ‘choice’, I’m a firm believer that voluntary euthanasia will be made legal in many countries in the next decade or so; whether you support it or not, what illnesses it includes or not; I think it’s coming.) 

One of the effects of social media recording and distributing public eulogies and thoughts on the departed is the much more often stated common phrases “I hope they knew how much they were loved” and “I wish I could have told them how much they mattered to me”. Of course, some of this is self-deluding; I don’t believe for a moment that big stars, very famous people, are unaware for a moment how much their work has mattered to people, nor that they haven’t been told so by many. Also, telling someone how much they – or their achievements – have mattered to you is as much for you as it is for them. But tell them anyway; In the same way as the old line about “no one ever dies regretting they didn’t spend more time at work” is in part true, no one should ever die in ignorance that they mattered to people: family, friends, people who liked them, people who lived them, admirers alike.

Something else tomorrow, for Christmas Eve.

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to 1st January 2017. You can see other posts in the run by clicking here.

2017 minus 10: Things present

Posted: 22 December 2016 in 2017 minus

Yesterday, I wondered what had happened to some things that used to play a daily or weekly part in my life that, for various reasons, no longer do.

In some cases, they play no part in anyone’s life any more; in others, they were more personal. The choice of Livejournal as my then blogging platform led me into experiences and avenues I’d not have gone along had I chosen blogger, say. That’s not to say Livejournal was better or worse than blogger, or blogspot… just different.

But today, some things I do, or things I experience, that only ten years ago would have just… not happened. None of them are inconceivable; it’s just for reasons of time, technology and personal preference, I’d never have foreseen them happening to me.

Christmas Christmas was never A Thing for me growing up. I’m Jewish, and so it just never played any part in my life; the closest we had to a Christmas Tradition was the whole family going around to my maternal grandparents on Boxing Day. And then, a few years ago, now – 2010 – I got friendly with someone for whom Christmas is a genuinely good time. The comedian Mitch Benn is probably the single person I know who most loves Christmas. Not the religious stuff and nonsense; he’s got no time for that. But the doing up the tree, and the jollity and Christmas lights and all of that…? Yeah, Mitch loves that and somehow, over the past few years, I’ve started to enjoy it as well. He loves doing the ‘Elf on a Shelf’ for his kids; he loves the excitement his girls get at Christmas. And, he’s written more than a few comedy Christmas songs for The Now Show over the years. So, from around October every year, I’ve started to if not exactly look forward to Christmas, then at least not be entirely uninterested in the season.

Tech Yes, I know Douglas Adams’ rules still apply – or do they? But the tech I use, compared to even ten years ago, is so utterly different that I’d have looked at 2016 from 2006 and genuinely wondered how it could have happened in such a short space of time. Back then, I had a slim, slide-phone, a Samsung as I recall, and smartphones were… well, let’s just say they were some time in the future, a long, long time. My laptop was by no means that heavy, but the weight of laptops is measured in kilograms… Who knew that within a few years, I’d be using an iPhone, and have an iPad, the combined weight of which is maybe a quarter of the weight of the laptop alone, let alone the charger I had to carry around with me. And yes, the iPad doesn’t do everything the laptop did… but for what I need(ed) the iPad does fine. (I’m reminded of the line by P J P’Rourke about the 2015 Conservative victory: it wasn’t an overwhelming victory by any means, but a whelming victory would do very well thank you…) 

Messaging A corollary to the above; I speak on the phone a lot less than I used to. Part of that is due to me no longer being financial director of a company and therefore not speaking on the phone there. But its’ not uncommon now for me to go a day or two without speaking on the phone at all; instead, it’s texting, and WhatsApp-ing, and Skype-ing (occasionally) and… and… and… I type more than I speak, I write messages rather than communicate by voice. And, I gather, that’s happening more and more to more and more people. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not. Messaging gives you the opportunity to ‘craft’ your message more carefully, typos notwithstanding. But so much of communication is not merely the words used, nor the formal and specific order of them, but the tone, and tone is noticeabley absent – or at least lessened – in typing.

I saw Charlie tonight. 
I saw Charlie tonight. 
I saw Charlie tonight. 
I saw Charlie tonight.  

All of the above mean different things, and the stressing and emphasis by emboldening the word doesn’t begin to conver the full meaning. I genuinely never thought there’d be a time when talking to someone on the phone would not only be uncommon but an extreme rarity in my life.

An adult child Yes, I know, I saw this one coming, but not really. I knew this would occur, but not really. I’ve said before that I never realised what a daft question “What’s it like, being a father?” was… until I became a father. Now, don’t worry, this isn’t meant to make me special or suggest I have greater wisdom because I’m a dad. That’s an equally stupid suggestion. Neither are my experiences as a father necessarily even similar to other parents’ experiences. And yes, I know my lad has been getting older, year by year; that’s called ‘life’. But in the same way as when Phil was born, I didn’t really anticipate that one moment there’s four people in a room, and the next moment there’s five people in the room, what I didn’t expect, not really, was having an adult as a child. My lad, as I mentioned a few weeks ago, is now 21. He’s grown into a fine young man, and I’m very proud of him. But Phil’s a young man. He’s my child, but he’s no longer a child. And that takes some getting used to. Knowing that he drinks alcohol, and can handle it. Understanding that he has his own views about politics and the world, and that they’re not formed from naïveté, nor from ignorance, but because he’s thought about events and occurrences and come to a conclusion about them… That’s a weird thing to process. I mean, obviously he’s wrong whenever he disagrees with me, but then you – and he – would expect me to say that.

Tomorrow: Things future.

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to 1st January 2017. You can see other posts in the run by clicking here.

2017 minus 11: Things past

Posted: 21 December 2016 in 2017 minus, life, politics
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While jumpstarting my brain writing today’s going cheep, a few things jumped into what I’m pleased to call my mind: things that were so obviously part of my if-not-daily-then-definitely-weekly life that no longer even peripherally impact me.This isn’t going to be a ‘things were better in the old days’; most often, they weren’t, and besides that’s the second most boring of these type of posts. (The most boring, of course, is that things are always better now‘.)

So, here are three…

Screen Savers Whenever happened to screen savers? Yes, I know they’re no longer ‘necessary’, but they persisted for quite some time after they ceased to be necessary. Then, in a quite astonishingly short space of time, they just stopped being a thing. Screen savers, for those younger readers, were A Thing. Not only A Thing, but A Thing about which you had to think quite seriously about. When someone saw your computer (never as many people as you thought might see it, by the way, sorry to demolish your ego), it was important for some reason or other that you had the right screen saver. Whether it was the flying toasters, or the never ending pipe work, or just a star field, you’d spend minutes – when it should have been seconds – choosing which of the screen savers you’d have on your screen. And – and this is true, I swear – if you were limited in the number of choices, I knew people who’d spend time figuring out how to get around the limitations… just so you’d have something on your screen that a) marked the computer as yours, and b) made you smile or at least didn’t piss you off.

One might suggest that it was solely the advent, and ubiquity, of flatscreen technology, and particularly the end of the cathode ray tube screens that ended the screen saver thing. I don’t agree. I instead wonder if what killed screen savers in the end was two things: firstly the rise of the laptop computer, and especially the immediate nature of the sleep/awake functionality. Suddenly, it didn’t take a minute or so to shut down your laptop, and another minute or so to start up, to resume, again. It was pretty much instant. So no need to leave the screen live; you could just shut the laptop and open it when you needed it. Secondly, and more importantly, the use of smartphones, and especially tablets. When batter power suddenly became the most important thing and genuinely instant access to a working screen/CPU meant that screens were never left on for more than a couple of minutes. 

Online psych tests Back in the days of Livejournal, it was a rare week when one of the memes doing the rounds wasn’t a psych test. You’d click on a link, answer anywhere between 30 and 100 questions and you’d receive an instant diagnosis of your mental state. No one took it particularly seriously, and as a consequence, people openly showed their results… because they were treated as a trivial thing, nothing more nor less important, nor more nor less accurate, than the “which Lord of the Rings character are you?” type things. Even if a result showed that someone was seriously ill and in need of medical attention, therapy and/or medications, readers of the results would usually assume that the result was flawed, or that the person doing the test had fucked around with the answers. 

Maybe it’s the lessening of stigma that has allowed people to be genuine about this kind of thing, and as a consequence, online tests seem to be ‘cheapening’ the work of therapists and psychologists and psychiatrists? I don’t know; I do know that I’m pleased it’s happened; the reaction in their presence, I mean, not the work of therapists and psychologists and psychiatrists. (For my my own personal issues with them, they do an important job, and I know many who’ve been=gutted from them.)

The Big Beasts of UK Politics At some point during my adult lifetime, UK politics ceased to have ‘current’ big beasts. Back in the days of Wilson, and Callaghan and even Thatcher, those who sat around the Cabinet table, and those who faced them across the House of Commons chamber, were acknowledged at the time they were doing it as ‘big beasts’, the powerbrokers in the parties, and in the country; people who through either force of personality or of accomplishment deserved to be regarded as such. At some point during Tony Blair’s premiership, that changed. Blair and Brown remained the big beasts but everyone else was a lesser species of politician. The Torres didn’t help matters in that respect by again seeming to reduce anyone who wasn’t leader – and in IDS’s case even then – to some lesser respected and lesser able category of politician. (I almost typed ‘some lesser kind of politician’ but that’s a bit too on the nose where Tory politicians are concerned.)

While this demotion almost certainly helps the leaders of the party, it does nothing beneficial for the country and indeed arguably damages it. While no one wants a cabinet or shadow cabinet riven with disagreement, torn apart by plots for the succession, by allowing the leadership to be seen as the only grown up around the table, it pretty much buggers the succession for years to come. And in the case of Labour now, the only big beast worthy of the name is probably the Shadow Chancellor. Certainly the leader doesn’t deserve the appellation, though he might do in a year’s time. But not yet.

Three things that it always used to be an article of faith that they’d be there. 

Today was “Things past”. Tomorrow “Things present”. You can try and guess what Friday’s will be…

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to 1st January 2017. You can see other posts in the run by clicking here.

2017 minus 12: Proud? Not really…

Posted: 20 December 2016 in 2017 minus
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Earlier today, I uploaded this year’s update for A Life In Pictures. It’s a by now annual tradition and I’d like to keep it going as long as I can. However, it’s not part of this countdown blog, and I wouldn’t want it to be, if only because if/when I refer anyone to it at a later point, I’d like it to stand on its own, apart from anything else. I genuinely hadn’t thought of it like that until I started the update but that does of course mean that I have a blog post today that I didn’t anticipate having to write.

Oops.

So, a quick blog post now on something that I’ve been thinking about a lot this year, something which got back into the news this week with the announcement that the government is considering making public servants – people who work for or are paid by, the state swear an oath of allegiance to “British values”.

As many have pointed out, swearing an oath is kind of self-contradictory to British values; we don’t make people carry identity papers, and our constitution such as it is is built around the principle of ‘we leave you alone and you leave us alone, ok?” (Obviously this doresn’t apply to the government itself nor the armed services, but then they already swear an oath of allegiance; we’re talking about non-government.)

I kind of like the idea that British values aren’t easily codified, and indeed, if you asked ten different people you’d get fifteen different answers. (Not because we like arguing; we’re just useless at maths.)

But the American election revealed once again that the biggest insult you can throw at an opponent isn’t that they’re a criminal, but that they’re not patriotic, that they’re unAmerican.

I’ve written before that I don’t really get patriotism? I mean, sure I understand it in principle, but then I undersatand in principle how hair is cut, and how. to faulty a plane; I wouldn’t recommend you asking me to do either. And while I kind of understand the theory of patriotism, I utterly fail to see why anyone would be patriotic per se. Now, unquestionably, I prefer the British society to say, that in Russia, or Saudi Arabia. I prefer it to how Israel runs their society but that’s not being patriotic; that’s just liking – on the whole, not wholly though – how things are run here rather how other societies run stuff. I don’t think “my country right or wrong, but my country” and I’m kind of puzzled by people who do think that way. 

I don’t feel any special connection to the UK, nor am I particularly proud of being British; given some of the stuff the UK has done over the centuries, I’m not entirely sure anyone should be. But plenty of people are. Just as others are proud of being Australian, or American, who maintain that their country is the greatest country on earth… Really?

I’m proud of my son. And I’m proud of the things my friends have achieved, and I’m proud of the strength people I know have shown under incredible pressure and in horrible circumstances. 

But that’s in part because he is my son, and they are my friends and they are people I know, like and personally care about. 

But the country? The country’s sportsmen and women… the country’s representatives in any number of fields? Not particularly. Not at all, in fact. Not really.

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to 1st January 2017. You can see other posts in the run by clicking here.

Time once again for the annual mocking and silliness to occur, with the 2016 update to A Life In Pictures.

Now… about the pics you’re going to see below: I’ve already been about as embarrassed at the shots as I’m ever likely to be, but yes, if you feel the need to go “awwww” at the cute pics of me as a youngster, or mock the pictures of me during the decade(s) that fashion forgot, feel free to do so.

Look, the whole thing started in 2004 when there was a meme going around about putting up photos of yourself when you were younger. I did it… and then continued to update it every year or so for more recent pics…

So, here they are, bringing the photos up to date, as of December 2016. Not a lot of additions this year.But since this has now become a tradition as we approach the end of the year, and I’ve a few more people following me on Twitter and this blog, why not?

Why not indeed…

So, in rough order of age…


Probably the earliest photo I’ve got of me…


3 years old


Aged 4


I’m five, I think, here.


It was 1972, ok? And I was at my brother’s bar mitzvah. I was eight.


Another – newly discovered – shot from Mike’s bar mitzvah. 


My son takes great delight in this shot – I think I was 10 at the time.


Me at age 11


Just after my 15th birthday


August 1980, I’m 16 – yes, that is a curly perm. Shut up.


November 1982 – Freshers’ Fair at Manchester Poly


1983 – me at the PULP office, 2nd year at Manchester Poly.


Age 21, at a work leaving do, having left Manchester Poly a month or so earlier..


1985, at my brother’s wedding… at which I was best man. Yeah, 21 again.


At my dad’s 60th birthday in 1989, aged 25. Blimey, was that really almost thirty years ago?


1994 –  A nice one, from Laura’s and my wedding day – aged 30


A low res shot from the wedding that I discovered in the archives…


1996


September 1997, at UKCAC


Me in New York, January 1998, just after we lost Mike


Part of a formal family shot, mid-1999


June 1999 – my spiritual home


August 2000; taken by Phil – he was five years old at the time


October 2001; New York, six weeks after 9/11; visiting Ian


May 2002, Hypotheticals – not a happy Budgie


mid-2002, taken for a WEF World Wide Wednesday


Bristol, 2003. You can see the greying hair now…


July 2004 – working at the office


December 2004 – at my nephew’s bar mitzvah. See? I scrub up nicely occasionally.


Not exactly sure when this was taken but would have been around now…


August 2005 – at Brighton. First picture for ages that I’m genuinely happy with.


September 2005, last picture of the Nissan before I crashed it…


October 2005. Again, a photo taken by Phil…


April 2006, at the flat.


May 2007, Bristol, Saturday night, at around 2 in the morning.


December 2007 – at the office party, with my ‘secret santa’ gift. No, the book.


May 2008 – Phil and me at Comic Expo


May 2008 – Me interviewing Dave Gibbons at Comic Expo


October 2008 – Me and Phil, studio shot for the bar mitzvah


May 2009 – Me and Matt Jones, (pic by Jamais Cascio)


July 2009 – At the BERG 40th Anniversary Apollo 11 drinkup (pic by Matt Jones)


October 2009 – In New York, with my cousin Nikki.


November 2009 – Me and Phil at Ian’s son’s bar mitzvah.


April 2010, in Luton


July 2010, on Mastermind


August 2010, at Laura’s


October 2010, from Phil Tanner’s Photos – Mitch Benn ‘Proud of the BBC’ video shoot) The actual video’s here.


October 2010, again: at MCM


December 2010, after the office party


January 2011, at Tony and Tracy Lee’s wedding.


October 2011.


Yeah, I grew a beard in October, then shaved it off…


Laura took this one in April 2012 – not a bad shot of me, all things considered.

And then I had my hair cut…


No idea why I took this one, but it has me without a beard, anyway… August 2012

Lesson 1 about falling asleep in a friend’s house where children live. Don’t
(November 2012)


Me, at The Leveson Inquiry. The reading of the summary, not giving evidence…



Met up with an old friend, and wandered around Camden with him. A nice afternoon…


Yeah, I broke my foot…

Lost my father in October 2012 – here’s the progress of the shiva beard before trimming it down

And so to 2013…

Well, in March, I did a charity event where I wrote twenty-four stories in twenty-four hours for Comic Relief.


That’s Mitch Benn in the background, writing his comedy album, which he did also within twenty-four hours.

Phil turned up to support us…

And I got progressively more tired, and more silly, as the hours passed…

A small accident with the beard trimmer led me to shave off the beard I’d had for roughly a year…

Most people were glad I grew it back almost immediately

Later in the year, finally managed to get a photo with two of my closest friends. There’s been any number of pictures of two of the three of us, but rarely any shots of all three… until now.

Not the best pic, I have to admit, but rather pleased we managed it at all!

However, another photo was taken that night which continues to amuse me no end.

You don’t think I’m in it? Really? Look to the right. Yes, just there… that blurred shock of grey/white hair? Yeah, afraid so…

Towards the end of the year, there was something new… a mini-me. Or to be precise, I was scanned for a 3D printing of myself. Very strange to see myself post-scanning on a screen…

But that was nothing to seeing the actual result…

Here’s another shot of the 3D model, this one with Mitch (who was similarly scanned.)

In July, managed to catch up with an old friend, at his reading of The Truth Is A Cave In The Black Mountains at the Barbican. I like this photo, entitled Two beards (old friends attached), a lot.

Here’s the difference a haircut, a beard trim and sticking my contact lenses in makes… from September 2014.

Around the same time, I wrote a post on the rising tide of overt anti-semitism in the UK, and that I’d personally faced. I used the following shot to illustrate it. I was very happy with how it turned out.

Now, this blog post, indeed this blog, is pretty much all ages, and I’ve hesitated before sticking this shot up. Not sure I’ll keep it here, but since this is supposed to be a record of me through the years… I shattered the end of my collarbone in a fall in September. A week or so later, the bruising was well and truly showing, so here it is.

And onto this year.


This was March 2015. I have no idea where or why.


In September, was fortunate enough to catch up with Amanda Palmer after her gig. It had been much, much too long since we’d seen each other. Much and many things were said, but never enough.


From late 2015. I think it was me trying out the new phone’s camera. It’s an odd pose, but as the foregoing shots more than amply demonstrate, that’s not a reason to exclude it. 

Some time ago, the delightful Clara Benn took a shot which proved I was substantially smaller than Mitch, tiny in fact in comparison. November 2015, she proved it again…


isn’t perspective wonderful?

And so to 2016, and I’m not sure what this pic was for, in July, but it’s an odd one…


Something a bit novel for this year’s blog post; I’ve never been much of a fan of ‘filters’ on pics, whether it’s the ‘pup yourself’ Snapchat type thing, or the Prizma neon type things. But I may be changing my mind. Here’s a selfie I took for submitting with something.


The shot’s fine, as it is. Nothing great about it, nothing horrendous. But in black and white, it’s quite a nice shot, I’d say…


But when it’s thrown through the pencil/shading filter, I really like it. Weird…

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Anyway… Moving on…

Towards the end of the year, close friends had a baby, and I got to say hello both in October and November. I’ve never hidden how soppy I am about babies. I suspect these photos prove it.


And this is the shot, last week, that convinced me that if I ever do get a hat, it’ll be a Homburg, not a Fedora…

And, to round off this year’s lot, and to officially mark the moment at which mocking may commence, this is me, as of yesterday, post-haircut: