Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2018/19 scientific society talks in London blog post

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Actions you can take to register your disaffection with Brexit

I'd like to call this post 'Actions you can take to stop Brexit' but that would be a bit naive so the weasel-worded version will have to stand for now.

Petitions you might like to sign
Demand a people's vote
https://www.peoples-vote.uk/

If there is no agreement to leave the EU then brexit must be stopped
https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/219905 - at time of writing 109,189 signatures
 
Stop Brexit - at time of writing 21,448 signatures
https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/226509

List of open petitions about Brexit (pro and anti) to Parliament
https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions?q=Brexit&state=open

Urge amendment to secure a people's vote - 3,721 signatures
https://www.change.org/p/members-of-parliament-urgent-amendment-to-secure-a-people-s-vote

Brexit.. a second referendum -143,404 signatures
https://www.change.org/p/the-prime-minister-brexit-a-second-referendum?recruiter=574276334

Keep permanent EU citizenship even in event of Brexit
https://eci.ec.europa.eu/002/public/#/initiative
This requires not just UK folk to sign but a minimum number of people from each EU member country. More info from an earlier post from me.

Write to your MP
You can do this via WriteToThem and People's Vote has a pre-filled letter (you need to vary the text) letter to send. I sent something via that link but completely changed the text, a copy of that is here. Also you can do this via Not Buying It.



Sunday, 11 November 2018

I've written to my MP asking him to support a People's Vote

I've written the following to my MP and as it was sent via an online form I've learned to capture a copy of the text before sending as there's no guarantee that the form will automatically CC me. Normally I just send a copy of the email to myself but I thought others might like to see it.

As far as I'm aware my MP accepts that Brexit is happening and is supporting it. I wish I'd added in my email some info about the fact that so many people seem to have changed their mind and the latest sampling evidence suggests that the narrow gap between Remain and Leave has widened considerably, in favour of Remain.

-----
https://www.peoples-vote.uk/write_this_wrong

Dear Matthew (Greenwich, but the geography is pretty irrelevant here)

Had the 2016 Referendum returned a vote of 70:30 or even 60:40 I probably wouldn't be writing to you to ask you to support a People's Vote. Such a close-run thing of 52:48 doesn't suggest a 'slam dunk' in favour of Britain leaving Europe.

Admittedly I've tried to avoid the endless minutiae of the Brexit rumblings but it now seems clear that information given before the Referendum was not clear and in some cases quite untrue. It also seems that I cannot avoid hearing about some new iffy thing the Leave campaign has perpetrated, whether it's financial or behavioural.

And then there's the equally unavoidable impression that 'Brexiting' is not going particularly well, either the discussions or the fact that so many organisations have highlighted potential future damage.
All this - an unconvincing Referendum result, suspicious campaigning activity from the Leave team, the gloomy predictions and the problems already at our door - makes me wonder what we're letting ourselves in for.

The public now has much greater information about what Brexit actually means, with more concrete examples.

Please, when considering the next deal, give us a chance to consider it too by letting us have a public vote, thank you.

I am happy to receive any reply by email to save paper / costs.

[Form has automated 'Yours sincerely' sign-off in place]




Friday, 12 October 2018

A lovely evening #scicomm event at the Royal Geographical Society, marking Galapagos Day

Thanks to a post published to psci-com (a mailing list I run for people involved in public engagement with science / science communication) I went along to an absolutely brilliant event last night (Wed 10 Oct 2018) at the Royal Geographical Society in South Kensington. It was organised by the Galapagos Conservation Trust and the talks were audio recorded (whether they'll be made publicly available I don't know).


Other than Charles Darwin's visit and 'rather big tortoises' it had never occurred to me quite how clueless I was about the Galapagos Islands (didn't really know where* they were, didn't know people lived there but about 25,000 do) so this was a useful crash course in getting a sense of the place and what's being done to protect it. I'm a big fan of the Shipfinder app (see also, FlightRadar24 for aircraft) which lets you 'see' where marine vessels are at any given time - they're using something similar to monitor ships visiting the coastal areas and using the data (velocity, direction) along with videocameras to predict possible activity. Jorge Carrion's team at the Galapagos National Park have used this method to catch a few dodgy ships undertaking illegal fishing. His talk was live-translated from Spanish to English, which was quite a remarkable thing to witness.



(In the picture above Jorge is on the left and the translator is relaying his talk into the lectern mic)

Ellie Mackay pointed out that the ratio of 'time taken for something to be used' to the 'time it take to break down' highlights that single-use plastic cups are incredibly inefficient (I think she said that cotton can break down in a couple of months whereas plastic is still around decades later). Sadly the ocean seems to be pretty full of plastic and polystyrene and with every tide it's tipping some of this onto the beaches around the world, including those of the Galapagos. She's been using drones to take aerial shots of beaches (much more efficient than trudging many kilometres of beach). The photos can then be analysed by humans (Zooniverse citizen science) and machine-learning magic to spot what's plastic and what isn't. We saw a nice little video of the 'pilot study' of a drone in action collecting images.



I also learned that despite being a couple of hundred kilos Giant Tortoises are surprisingly migratory throughout the year making their way from the lowlands to the higher volcanic bits (if the volcano's likely to erupt the tortoises might get airlifted out to safety!) for a change of seasonal food. Migration activity is an indicator of health and GPS trackers are letting Diego Ellis-Soto and colleagues use the International Space Station (in particular the Icarus antenna attached to it earlier this year) to monitor them remotely. Apparently the antenna "can receive data from more than 15 million transmitters worldwide, anywhere on Earth" so it's probably kept quite busy!



Ellie had a rather brilliant suggestion in response to a question about what can tourists do to help which was that perhaps a plastic 'exit visa' could be implemented - when you want to leave the islands you have to 'pay' with a kilogram of collected plastic waste from the beaches!

*having no sense of direction I don't really know where anything is ;)

Speakers
Dr Jorge Carrion, Director of the Galapagos National Park
Ellie Mackay, Mission Director of The Plastic Tide
Diego Ellis Soto, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, who works with the Galapagos Tortoise Movement Ecology Programme (GTMEP)

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Christmas 2018: How to watch #Elf in London this December

Elf (2003), best Christmas film ever. Rarely seen on regular UK terrestrial television now, due to Sky buying the rights to it in 2013 and now even Sky have lost permission from the studio to screen it as of 2017 (links to The Sun newspaper). Fortunately it is in plentiful supply in cinemas throughout the UK and there are many screenings in London over the Christmas 2018 season.



Table of Contents
  1. Film listings for Elf (this gets added to over next few months) - by date
  2. Organisations / venues screening this year
  3. ...that have previously screened Elf in London
  4. Film listings for Elf - by venue
  5. Previous posts in this series
1. Film listings for Elf
Saturday screenings are in bold. Any errors or omissions? Please let @JoBrodie know, thanks! Also if you're just interested in the current week's and the following week (when the Elf season starts!) look at LondonNet's listings for Elf.

Note that some of these screenings are events and so time may be event starting time rather than screening time, check venue homepage if in doubt.
 

NOV/DEC 2018
  1. Friday 23 November, 11.30am - Backyard Cinema Winterville, Clapham [info]
  2. Friday 23 November, 8pm - Backyard Cinema Winterville, Clapham [info]
  3. Sunday 25 November, 12.30pm - Neighbourhood Cinema Frozen Island [info] family-friendly 
  4. Monday 26 November, 8pm - Backyard Cinema Winterville, Clapham [info]
  5. Thursday 29 November, 8pm - Backyard Cinema Winterville, Clapham [info
  6. Friday 30 November, 3.40pm - Backyard Cinema Winterville, Clapham [info]
  7. Friday 30 November, 5.10pm - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
  8. Friday 30 November, 8pm - The Vaults, Waterloo [info]
  9. Saturday 1 December, 12pm - The Gaucho Film Club, includes meal [info
  10. Saturday 1 December, 3.40pm - Quote Along version - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
  11. Saturday 1 December, 8pm - Backyard Cinema Winterville, Clapham [info
  12. Sunday 2 December, 1pm - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
  13. Sunday 2 December,  4.30pm - One Aldwych, includes dinner + champagne [info]
  14. Monday 3 December, 3.50pm - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
  15. Monday 3 December, 6.30pm - One Aldwych, includes dinner + champagne [info
  16. Monday 3 December, 7pm - St Katharine Docks [info]
  17. Tuesday 4 December, 6.10pm - Quote Along version - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
  18. Tuesday 4 December, 6.30pm - One Aldwych, includes dinner + champagne [info
  19. Tuesday 4 December, 6.30pm (film 8pm) - Cinema Museum [info] (charity screening from South London Cares)
  20. Wednesday 5 December, 1.50pm - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
  21. Thursday 6 December, 6.40pm - Quote Along version - Prince Charles Cinema [info
  22. Thursday 6 December, 8pm - Backyard Cinema Winterville, Clapham [info
  23. Friday 7 December, 3.40pm - Backyard Cinema Winterville, Clapham [info]
  24. Friday 7 December, 3.50pm - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
  25. Friday 7 December, 9pm - Quote Along version - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
  26. Saturday 8 December, 12pm - The Gaucho Film Club, includes meal [info]  
  27. Saturday 8 December, 2pm - Screen25, South Norwood + winter craft workshop [info]
  28. Saturday 8 December, 3.40pm - Backyard Cinema Winterville, Clapham [info
  29. Saturday 8 December, 6pm - Charlotte Street Hotel [info]
  30. Saturday 8 December, 8pm - The Vaults, Waterloo [info] 
  31. Sunday 9 December, 1.30pm - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
  32. Sunday 9 December 3.15pm - Quote Along version - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
  33. Sunday 9 December, 6.30pm - Hush Mayfair [info
  34. Sunday 9 December - 7pm, Camden Rooftop Cinema, FEST Camden [info]
  35. Monday 10 Decmber, 3.30pm - Prince Charles Cinema [info
  36. Monday 10 December, 8pm - Exhibit, Balham [info]
  37. Monday 10 December, 8pm - Exhibit B, Streatham [info]
  38. Tuesday 11 December, 6.10pm - Quote Along version - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
  39. Tuesday 11 December, 8pm - Exhibit, Balham [info]
  40. Wednesday 12 December, 7.45pm - Screen25, South Norwood [info]
  41. Wednesday 12 December, 8pm - Exhibit, Balham [info]
  42. Wednesday 12 December, 8pm - Exhibit B, Streatham [info]
  43. Wednesday 12 December 8pm - Backyard Cinema Winterville, Clapham [info]
  44. Wednesday 12 December, 8.45pm - Quote Along version - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
  45. Thursday 13 December, 3.40pm - Backyard Cinema Winterville, Clapham [info]
  46. Thursday 13 December, 6.25pm - Quote Along version - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
  47. Thursday 13 December, 8pm - Exhibit, Balham [info]
  48. Thursday 13 December, 8pm - Exhibit B, Streatham [info]
  49. Friday 14 December, 3.40pm - Backyard Cinema Winterville, Clapham [info]
  50. Friday 14 December, 3.50pm - Prince Charles Cinema [info
  51. Friday 14 December, 5pm - Rivoli Ballroom, Crofton Park [info]
  52. Friday 14 December, 8.30pm - Pop Up Screens, Hackney Downs Studio [info]
  53. Saturday 15 December, 11.30am - Regent Street Cinema [info]
  54. Saturday 15 December, 12pm - The Gaucho Film Club, includes meal [info
  55. Saturday 15 December, 3.30pm - Quote Along version - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
  56. Saturday 15 December, 6.30pm - Clapham Grand, 'elf-a-long' [info
  57. Saturday 15 December, 8pm - Backyard Cinema Winterville, Clapham [info]
  58. Saturday 15 December, 8.30pm - Pop Up Screens, Hackney Downs Studio [info]
  59. Saturday 15 December, 9pm - part of all-nighter - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
  60. Sunday 16 December, 1pm - Prince Charles Cinema [info] appears to be cancelled
  61. Sunday 16 December, 10.30am to 1.30pm (film at noon + activities) - Soho Hotel, Children's Film Club [info]  
  62. Sunday 16 December, 4.30pm - Neighbourhood Cinema Frozen Island [info] over 18s
  63. Sunday 16 December, 5pm - Pop Up Screens, Hackney Downs Studio [info]
  64. Sunday 16 December, 6pm - Quote Along version - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
  65. Sunday 16 December, 6.30pm - Exhibit, Balham [info
  66. Sunday 16 December, 7pm - Charlotte Street Hotel [info]
  67. Sunday 16 December, 8pm - Exhibit, Balham [info]
  68. Monday 17 December, 3.45pm - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
  69. Monday 17 December, 6.05pm - Quote Along version - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
  70. Tuesday 18 December, 1.30pm - Prince Charles Cinema [info
  71. Tuesday 18 December, 4.30pm - Luna Cinema [Hackney] [info]
  72. Wednesday 19 December, 5pm - Luna Cinema [Kensington Palace] [info
  73. Wednesday 19 December, 5pm - Neighbourhood Cinema Frozen Island [info<-- homepage="" listed="" not="" on="" span="">
  74. Wednesday 19 December, 8pm - Backyard Cinema Winterville, Clapham [info]
  75. Wednesday 19 December, 8.30pm - Pop Up Screens, Hackney Downs Studio [info]
  76. Wednesday 19 December, 9pm - Quote Along version - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
  77. Thursday 20 December, 3.40pm - Backyard Cinema Winterville, Clapham [info]
  78. Thursday 20 December, 4.10pm - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
  79. Thursday 20 December, 7.45pm - Luna Cinema [Hackney] [info]
  80. Friday 21 December, 7pm - Where is the Nomad? [Citypoint] [info]
  81. Friday 21 December, 8pm - Backyard Cinema Winterville, Clapham [info]
  82. Friday 21 December, 8.30pm - Luna Cinema [Kensington Palace] [info]
  83. Saturday 22 December, 12pm - The Gaucho Film Club, includes meal [info]  
  84. Saturday 22 December, 2.30pm - The Vaults, Waterloo [info]
  85. Saturday 22 December, 3.15pm - Quote Along version - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
  86. Saturday 22 December, 5pm - Neighbourhood Cinema Frozen Island [info]
  87. Saturday 22 December, 8pm - Backyard Cinema Winterville, Clapham [info]
  88. Saturday 22 December, 8.30pm - Pop Up Screens, Hackney Downs Studio [info]
  89. Sunday 23 December, 1pm - Prince Charles Cinema [info
  90. Sunday 23 December, 5pm - Pop Up Screens, Hackney Downs Studio [info]
  91. Sunday 23 December, 6.10pm - Quote Along version - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
  92. Sunday 23 December, 8.30pm - Neighbourhood Cinema Frozen Island [info] over 18s
  93. Monday 24 December, 3.25pm - Quote Along version - Prince Charles Cinema [info
More to come as others publish their listings, meanwhile see the likely venues below.


2. Organisations / venues screening this year


3. Organisations / venues that have previously screened Elf in London
  • The Berkeley - hotel, Knightsbridge - this year they're showing The Nutcracker (1968) and the original Miracle on 34th Street (1947).
  • Electric Cinema - Portobello and Shoreditch
  • Electric Theatre Cinema, Peckham - Winter Film Club 
  • Time Out - Lost Rivers Elephant, Elephant Road, Elephant & Castle London, SE17 1LB
  • Rooftop Film Club - Kensington Roof Gardens
  • St Swithun's Church Hall, SE13 6QE

4. Film listings for Elf - by venue

Friday 23 November, 11.30am - Backyard Cinema Winterville, Clapham [info]
Friday 23 November, 8pm - Backyard Cinema Winterville, Clapham [info]
Monday 26 November, 8pm - Backyard Cinema Winterville, Clapham [info]
Thursday 29 November, 8pm - Backyard Cinema Winterville, Clapham [info
Friday 30 November, 3.40pm - Backyard Cinema Winterville, Clapham [info]
Saturday 1 December, 8pm - Backyard Cinema Winterville, Clapham [info
Thursday 6 December, 8pm - Backyard Cinema Winterville, Clapham [info
Friday 7 December, 3.40pm - Backyard Cinema Winterville, Clapham [info]
Saturday 8 December, 3.40pm - Backyard Cinema Winterville, Clapham [info]
Wednesday 12 December 8pm - Backyard Cinema Winterville, Clapham [info
Thursday 13 December, 3.40pm - Backyard Cinema Winterville, Clapham [info]
Friday 14 December, 3.40pm - Backyard Cinema Winterville, Clapham [info]
Saturday 15 December, 8pm - Backyard Cinema Winterville, Clapham [info]
Wednesday 19 December, 8pm - Backyard Cinema Winterville, Clapham [info
Thursday 20 December, 3.40pm - Backyard Cinema Winterville, Clapham [info]
Friday 21 December, 8pm - Backyard Cinema Winterville, Clapham [info]
Saturday 22 December, 8pm - Backyard Cinema Winterville, Clapham [info]

Sunday 9 December - 7pm, Camden Rooftop Cinema, FEST Camden [info]

Saturday 8 December, 6pm - Charlotte Street Hotel [info]
Sunday 16 December, 7pm - Charlotte Street Hotel [info]

Tuesday 4 December, 6.30pm (film 8pm) - Cinema Museum [info] (charity screening from South London Cares)

Saturday 15 December, 6.30pm - Clapham Grand, elf-a-long [info

Monday 10 December, 8pm - Exhibit, Balham [info]
Tuesday 11 December, 8pm - Exhibit, Balham [info]
Wednesday 12 December, 8pm - Exhibit, Balham [info]
Thursday 13 December, 8pm - Exhibit, Balham [info]
Sunday 16 December, 6.30pm - Exhibit, Balham [info]
Sunday 16 December, 8pm - Exhibit, Balham [info]

Monday 10 December, 8pm - Exhibit B, Streatham [info]
Wednesday 12 December, 8pm - Exhibit B, Streatham [info]
Thursday 13 December, 8pm - Exhibit B, Streatham [info]

Saturday 1 December, 12pm - The Gaucho Film Club, includes meal [info
Saturday 8 December, 12pm - The Gaucho Film Club, includes meal [info]  
Saturday 15 December, 12pm - The Gaucho Film Club, includes meal [info
Saturday 22 December, 12pm - The Gaucho Film Club, includes meal [info

Sunday 9 December, 6.30pm - Hush Mayfair [info]

Tuesday 18 December, 4.30pm - Luna Cinema [Hackney] [info]
Wednesday 19 December, 5pm - Luna Cinema [Kensington Palace] [info
Thursday 20 December, 7.45pm - Luna Cinema [Hackney] [info]
Friday 21 December, 8.30pm - Luna Cinema [Kensington Palace] [info]

Sunday 25 November, 12.30pm - Neighbourhood Cinema Frozen Island [info] family-friendly
Sunday 16 December, 4.30pm - Neighbourhood Cinema Frozen Island [info] over 18s
Wednesday 19 December, 5pm - Neighbourhood Cinema Frozen Island [info] <-- br="" homepage="" listed="" not="" on="">
Saturday 22 December, 5pm - Neighbourhood Cinema Frozen Island [info]
Sunday 23 December, 8.30pm - Neighbourhood Cinema Frozen Island [info] over 18s

Sunday 2 December,  4.30pm - One Aldwych, includes dinner + champagne [info]
Monday 3 December, 6.30pm - One Aldwych, includes dinner + champagne [info
Tuesday 4 December, 6.30pm - One Aldwych, includes dinner + champagne [info

Friday 30 November, 5.10pm - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
Sunday 2 December, 1pm - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
Monday 3 December, 3.50pm - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
Wednesday 5 December, 1.50pm - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
Friday 7 December, 3.50pm - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
Sunday 9 December, 1.30pm - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
Monday 10 Decmber, 3.30pm - Prince Charles Cinema [info
Friday 14 December, 3.50pm - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
Saturday 15 December, 9pm - part of all-nighter - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
Sunday 16 December, 1pm - Prince Charles Cinema [info] appears to be cancelled
Monday 17 December, 3.45pm - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
Tuesday 18 December, 1.30pm - Prince Charles Cinema [info
Thursday 20 December, 4.10pm - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
Sunday 23 December, 1pm - Prince Charles Cinema [info

Saturday 1 December, 3.40pm - Quote Along version - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
Tuesday 4 December, 6.10pm - Quote Along version - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
Thursday 6 December, 6.40pm - Quote Along version - Prince Charles Cinema [info
Friday 7 December, 9pm - Quote Along version - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
Sunday 9 December 3.15pm - Quote Along version - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
Tuesday 11 December, 6.10pm - Quote Along version - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
Wednesday 12 December, 8.45pm - Quote Along version - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
Thursday 13 December, 6.25pm - Quote Along version - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
Saturday 15 December, 3.30pm - Quote Along version - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
Sunday 16 December, 6pm - Quote Along version - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
Monday 17 December, 6.05pm - Quote Along version - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
Wednesday 19 December, 9pm - Quote Along version - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
Saturday 22 December, 3.15pm - Quote Along version - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
Sunday 23 December, 6.10pm - Quote Along version - Prince Charles Cinema [info]
Monday 24 December, 3.25pm - Quote Along version - Prince Charles Cinema [info

Friday 14 December, 8.30pm - Pop Up Screens [info]
Saturday 15 December, 8.30pm - Pop Up Screens [info]
Sunday 16 December, 5pm - Pop Up Screens [info]
Wednesday 19 December, 8.30pm - Pop Up Screens [info]
Saturday 22 December, 8.30pm - Pop Up Screens [info]
Sunday 23 December, 5pm - Pop Up Screens [info]

Saturday 15 December, 11.30am - Regent Street Cinema [info

Sunday 16 December, 10.30am to 1.30pm (film at noon + activities) - Soho Hotel, Children's Film Club [info]

Monday 3 December, 7pm - St Katharine Docks [info

Friday 21 December, 7pm - Where is the Nomad? [Citypoint] [info

Friday 30 November, 8pm - The Vaults, Waterloo [info]
Saturday 8 December, 8pm - The Vaults, Waterloo [info]
Saturday 22 December, 2.30pm - The Vaults, Waterloo [info]


5. Previous posts in this series




Friday, 28 September 2018

How my mum taught me to read when I was about three

Given that I was 'about three' at the time my memories of this are not particularly strong 45 years on, so take this with a pinch of salt. This is what my mum told me, sadly she died in 2010 so I can't double-check anything (nor with dad who died in 2016).

Despite my early reading skills I showed no other flashes of competence (I was 19 months before I bothered with walking, my mum said she thought I probably had worked out how to do it before that - but also that I'd worked out that if I didn't walk I'd get ferried around more!) and despite my primary school thinking I was Oxbridge material I turned out to be not very inspiring academically as time went on and any success is more due to luck than hard work. Anyway, revenons à nos moutons as my mother used to say...

My mum was a stay-at-home mum and I was an inquisitive kid. At some point I must have noticed her or my dad reading books or newspapers, or possibly reacting to signs when out and about. Reportedly I'd often ask her "what does that say / mean?" and she'd tell me, I presume my dad did too if I asked him but the learning-to-read thing always seemed to be a mum thing.

She bought a little blackboard easel and some chalks and did what I suppose would be something like phonics with clusters of letters. To start with it would be oo words like look, book, cook and ee words like bee and see. At some point this must have expanded to include the full range of letters and by the time I was three and a half I was able to read simple books.

I went to school at four and a half by which time I could read with ease. I do have a vague memory of something along the lines of either seeing my name on the class register and pointing to it or being given a card and my mum asked to write my name on it (but I wrote it) and this causing a bit of a small stir but that was short-lived.

Most of the first couple of days involved plasticine-craft so I'm not sure at exactly what point it became obvious that I definitely could read independently but my mum told me that she'd picked me up from school one day and the teacher had almost challenged her with "You didn't tell us she could read" to which my mum replied "Well, you didn't ask me." I don't think she or dad thought what I was doing was particularly notable.

It was seen as notable in school though. I remember we read books that had numbers and letters like 4a, 4b and 4c (no idea what they were, possibly Janet and John). I was reading in the 7s and 8s. I have much stronger memories of being taken off upstairs to the staff room and made to read long lists of words to the other teachers (I don't think I had any idea what any of the words would have meant). No idea if my parents had approved this absence from class though to be honest if it was a reading class I pretty much had that down anyway. As far as I'm aware the rest of the class soon caught up and by the time we were five I think everyone could read perfectly well.

I don't think I have or had hyperlexia nor do I think I'm on the autism spectrum and I don't have any other particular skills. Fairly poor at arithmetic (not bad at maths and abstraction though), utterly useless at reading a map or locating where I am in space*. These days I'm not even much of a reader - it's like my eyes are on a train track and they keep jumping off every time a thought occurs to me. I can read a paragraph of a book and it will usually remind me of something interesting or spark an idea which will then occupy me as I daydream about it. Consequently I am more of an article reader than book reader ;) Good with reading long words though.

*Hopeless sense of direction: stuff like if I'm walking along a familiar road and enter a shop then when I exit, instead of continuing in the intended direction, I discover I've unwittingly walked backwards without noticing // the sheer amount of effort involved in navigating an unfamiliar place (I have to keep turning backwards to see what it will look like on the return journey as otherwise it will look like a place I've never seen before). Redoing the same mistaken journey: if I've taken it once and see the route again I tend to remember that I've been down that path before, so I walk that route again before realising. Having no idea how the map I'm looking at matches where I'm standing. Regularly having to start walking without knowing whether it's the right direction just so that I can see the direction the small blue 'me' dot on CityMapper is travelling in, and continue or course-correct based on a second reading.