Cheap music

Like good music? Like good cheap music? Om Records have a sale on at the moment with all CDs, including two- and three-disc sets for just US$10 each. I shall be making purchases, though I’m not sure what with. Or, if you want to be my friend, email me and I’ll tell you what I’d like as a Christmas gift.

A pain in the cars

Lately, we seem to just go from one car-inspired crisis to another. We’ve had a situation where my car was off the road and we had to rely on Hels’s car. Then mine was fixed, only for Hels’s car to be off the road so that we had to rely on mine. Now hers is fixed – and I’ve just gone out to drive mine and found a new problem which means that it has to sit on the drive until it can be fixed.

If the financial fairy is reading this, a large cash grant would be handy at the moment.

Holy crap

Apologies to everyone who has noticed that this site has been crawling to a standstill lately. I’ve been suffering from runaway trackback spam (if you don’t know what that means, nod, smile and move on to the next post). I’ve tried a couple of fixes but have just installed Bad Behavior, which seems to have fixed the problem even without a "u". I was getting a POST trackback.php request once or twice every second which, needless to say, was grinding my server to a halt. This should also fix the problem with the feeds, which should now be more reliable.

Keep me informed by the usual means of any problems that you find.

Strength in the face of frailty

Did you see the documentary on Channel 4 last night about the Young at Heart Chorus? It isn’t often that Hels and I sit to watch television together, but this was an outstanding documentary about an amazing project with a splendid bunch of people that had us riveted, alternately laughing and crying. There is a planned DVD release. The part with Fred Knittle, given two years to live just over two years previously, carrying his oxygen supply on stage as he sang Coldplay’s Fix You as a solo performance after his duet partner, Joe Benoit, had died just a few days before will bring a lump to your throat.

The most impresive character is Bob Cilman, the director. Coaxing, encouraging and, at times, herding this group of wilful octagenarians into performing a stage set that has travelled the world is a great feat of determination – the fact that the performers derive more from it than the audience is not lost on the viewer.

On rural housing

The BBC have been running a series of articles recently on housing issues. Today’s article is particularly good and deals with the issue of rural housing and, in particular, social housing and the sustainability of communities. It is by Moira Constable, chief executive of the Rural Housing Trust.

As someone who has spent a large chunk of my life living in small to medium sized villages, this is an issue about which I feel strongly. I particularly like the way that Constable highlights the fact that social housing actually does much to preserve those aspects of rural life that attract the wealthy (a village pub, cricket team, local shop, etc.). I really hate it when small villages are preserved in aspic – they become ghettoes of the wealthy. My parents live near the village of Slindon, much of which is owned by the National Trust. The NT has done much to try and preserve the village in a timewarp, with very little new development and tight restrictions on alteration of existing properties. There aren’t even any overhead cables or phonelines – everything like that must be hidden from view. The consequence, in my view, is that the village, whilst pretty, is now so expensive that no local person could afford to buy property there. I’m sure the average age of the population must be increasing significantly, year-on-year. A few years ago, the village shop and post office closed because it was no longer profitable – it has now been bought and is operated by the village residents as a non-profit organisation because the services it provides are so vital to the community.

I’m not saying that these villages need massive new housing developments. As the article says, sensitive and small developments are more in keeping with their environment and can still provide the sort of housing that is needed. But it is no only rented or shared-ownership housing that is needed, in my view, but also modestly-priced housing on the open market. All too often, due to pressure from parish and district councils and the profit-driven motives of the developers, four and five bedroom homes only are built in small developments whilst smaller houses only appear in the large (usually fairly unpleasant) developments on the edge of town (which are often just as remote from amenities and services as rural communities). Perhaps there should be tax incentives to landowners to develop one and two bedroom flats and cottages, which is exactly what used to be built when landowners had to provide housing for their workers before public social housing came along.


  • Grunty Muck-Lane has a rant about people getting his name wrong. I have the same problem with Graeme Spenser.
  • Towns across Europe are removing road signs, wholesale. The Dutch, in particular, are less profligate with road signs than we are in nanny-state Britain, but Hungary tops the list of countries I have visited recently for roadsignlessness. via linkbunnies.
  • Looks like we need to buy one of these now that Tom has discovered forward gear when crawling. I’ve been sitting in the conservatory typing this and he has just got halfway here from the living room to see what I’m up to. And I’ve noticed that he is useful for getting the dust from under the stairs – it’s only a matter of time before I can start sending him up chimneys.
  • America may finally embrace a dollar coin. About time, in my view. I think there will soon be some enthusiasm here to see the £5 and €5 notes replaced with coins, as they get tatty so quickly.

Chris Adams not to leave Sussex

Confused? You soon will be.

The senior players were canvassed for their opinion as to who should be the new captain. Clearly someone will now be disappointed – either the captain-designate or Adams himself, who might not get his old job back.