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

Monday, 7 December 2020

A packing list from 1979 for a girls' boarding school in England

From the vaults, a girls' boarding school, somewhere in England...

First the pictures, then the text... (mobile friendlier pics right at the end)

  1. Screenshots of the equipement list 
  2. The list, written out 
  3. Mobile friendly pics


2. The list, written out



(The list was divided into three columns ("No.", "ITEM" with the third column to tick when "Packed").

1    Green Gaberdine Raincoat (optional)
1     Green Regulation Blazer and Skirt
1     Green Regulation Skirt (2 pleated kilts for the Primary school)
1     Dressing Gown
1    Navy Cardigan
1     Green Cardigan
1    Green Regulation Pullover (Optional for Senior School)
1    Navy Kilt
1    House Sweater
3    Regulation Green Blouses (3 for Lower School and Primary)
2     White Aertex Shirts (3 for Lower School and Primary)
1    Pair Grey Woollen Gloves
1    Pair Games Gloves (not Primary)
1    School Tie
2    House Ties
1    Coloured House Cloak
2    Overall (long sleeves) (3 for Primary)
3    Pyjamas or Nightdresses
3    Vests
10    Cotton (boilable) linings
2    Petticoats (optional)
2    Brassieres
2    Linen Bags
1    Brush and Comb Bag
1    Sponge Bag
18     Handkerchiefs (or an adequate supply of paper tissues)
3    Pairs Nylon 30 Denier Tights (not Primary)
10    Pairs Knee Length Grey Socks
3    Pairs White Socks for Summer Games
1    Pair Regulation Brown Walking Shoes
1     Pair Regulation House Shoes (not Primary)
1     Pair Clarkes Sandals
1    Pair non-uniform Shoes (without high heels or platform soles)
1    Pair heel-less Bedroom Slippers (not mules)
1    Pair Lacrosse Boots (not Primary)
1    Track Suit (Optional) (not Primary)
1     Pair White Plimsolls (for Gym and Tennis)
1    Pair Black Plimsolls (for Netball)
1    Pair Gumboots
1    Rug, Eiderdown or Duvet

3    Regulation Green Gingham Cotton Dresses
1    Black Bathing Costume
1    Wrap or Large Towel (2 Towels for Lower School and Primary)
1    Bathing Cap (Senior and Lower School in House Colour, Primary in white)
3    Pairs Fawn Ankle Socks (Summer uniform only, Primary only)

2    Face Towels
2    Bath Towels - 58"x30"
1    Napkin Ring, clearly named

(Page 2)

1    Woollen Dress
2    Skirts, 2 Jerseys
1    Coloured Cardigan
2    Cotton Dresses
2    Cotton Briefs
2    Coloured Blouses
1    Anorak

1    Manicure Set
1     Music Case (flat, not folded) if learning a musical instrument.
1    Trunk with name in full on top and sides
1    Weekend case with name in full
1    Paintbox (optional, for free time use)
1    Lacrosse Stick (not Primary)
1    Tennis Racquet
8    Coat Hangers
1    Work Box with mending equipment
      Shoe Cleaning equipment
1    Duster, marked
1    Cm ruler
1    Protractor
1    Pair Compasses
1    Cartridge Pen       )
1    Set Coloured Pencils) Primary only
6    Fibre Tipped Pens   )
1    Set Square         )
1    Light, strong bag of suitable size for carrying books
      Supply of name tapes

The Little Oxford Dictionary published by Oxford Clarendon Press (not Primary)

A First Dictionary published by James Nesbit & Co, W.D. Wright (Primary only)

Good News Bible, hard cover, published by Collins/Fontana
Book of Common Prayer
Philips' New School Atlas, edited by Harold Fullgard, published by George Philip & Son Ltd


This is a complete list of equipment for the Summer and Winter, so that the things need not all be bought at the same time, but only as they are require (sic) according to season.

Please address all questions about clothing to the Wardrobe Matron. The school outfitter is... [name of school outfitter]

Every article must be marked with CASH'S NAME TAPES (these should be woven in black onto a white background with the initial of the girls' house in the right hand side (i.e. X for House X, Y for House Y etc) with the name in full. Brushes, combs and toothbrushes should be marked, and pens and watches engraved with initials or full name.



3. Mobile friendly pics


Things I like about online theatre, via Zoom (there isn't anything I don't like!)

Last Sunday I was in a Zoom audience with 7,000 others (!) attending Lockdown Theatre's 'For One Knight Only', in aid of charity (Acting For Others). There were five thousand on the Zoom itself and 2,000 in the overflow room. They raised a lot of money. It was fantastic - here's a nice review in The Guardian.

This was the second Zoom theatre 'thing' I've been to during lockdown and I've really enjoyed them. In more usual circumstances I tend to go to the cinema more than theatre so am not really a 'theatre person', so bear that in mind when considering my points below (I can well imagine a theatre-goer or cast/crew person finding it a bit too different from what they prefer, and not 'real' enough.)

While online theatre could never entirely replace real life theatre I hope that some of the online infrastructure can remain once everything is back to normal.

Here's what I like about it -

  • Accessibility - people don't have to leave their house (or even get dressed) to see a theatrical performance from their living room. I can see this making things much easier for those who are less able to get out.

  • Accessibility - everyone has same experience - it doesn't matter where you sit, you can see and hear everyone clearly, on one screen (yours).

  • Bigger, wider audiences - time zones permitting you get to be in an audience simultaneously with people in other cities and even countries, this has been rather exciting actually! It seems like a potential way to reach more people, and engage a different audience.

  • Cost - while the ones I've been to haven't been particularly cheap (for charity) they are still considerably cheaper than London West End prices. I don't know how much the operating costs are (cameras, internet connections, ticketing).

  • Comfort - the seats are comfy with lots of legroom! Perhaps Deliveroo etc can adapt their 'Big Night In' snack bundles for theatre ;)

  • Comfort - you're muted so you can rustle your Maltesers as much as you like, eat boiled sweets noisily or nip to the loo without disturbing anyone other than your immediate household.

  • Differently social (audience) - you can chat with other attendees via the Chat function though this is perhaps a mixed blessing if you've not worked out how to hide it and don't want it scrolling like a Geek Chorus in the background.|

  • Differently social (actors) - the actors can also see each other on-screen (normally they'd be in their dressing room for chunks of the play or event so would miss stuff, though they can switch off their own video while waiting) 

Possibly some of these are disadvantages too. 

Perhaps the actors are quite delighted at a muted audience but also miss the normal audience responses (laughter, applause etc). It must be difficult to judge how anything is landing. 

Pros and cons are also mixed in terms of accessibility - it's cheaper and doesn't involve travel but I'm not sure how well it works for people who are Deaf, though live-captioning is coming along in leaps and bounds. Or perhaps if recorded then a watch-again-with-subtitles facility might work (though there's the risk that people wouldn't bother turning up at the allotted time and just watch it at leisure on YouTube). 

I've previously attended a performance of The Madness of George III which was performed live on stage at the Nottingham playhouse with footage beamed into a cinema screen in London. It combined cinema and theatre brilliantly, via the NT Live platform. That was quite a different set-up from Zoom though, with the actors performing the play as usual and cameras set up to point at the stage. With Zoom each performer talks directly to their laptop camera.

While I rather like the idea of future theatrical performances being performed live for the in-theatre audience and also live-streamed for an online-audience at home perhaps actors might not be so keen. You're not allowed to make recordings while you're in the theatre meaning that there's no record of the performance.

Also (as with watching things later on YouTube where a Zoom is recorded) I wonder if theatres might become emptier if too many people decide to stay at home and watch it later? Possibly it's not even that practical (and it would be different from Zoom as the actors would be acting on stage, and not to a laptop camera). The technology is already there and in use for the NT Live arrangements but I don't know if actors generally welcome having cameras pointed at them during the performance, though this certainly seemed to work well for the Madness of King George III.

Thanks to an excellent decision to follow Sanjeev Bhaskar on Twitter I discovered that he was taking part in a table-read performance of Tom Stoppard's The Real Inspector Hound back in October. That led me to discover the existence of Lockdown Theatre which has been putting on a series of performances and events during lockdown to raise funds for theatrical charities.

I really enjoyed last Sunday evening's "For One Knight Only" which was a panel chat among Sir Kenneth Branagh (compere), Sir Derek Jacobi, Dame Judi Dench, Dame Maggie Smith and Sir Ian McKellen.

As you can imagine it was a delightful and amiable hour and a half with a bunch of incredibly talented people who evidently enjoyed each other's company as much as we did. I suspect the chances of seeing them all together in one theatre, or even one TV chat show, are probably quite low during non-Covid times as they'll all be off doing their own thing, so this has been one advantage of everyone's life being paused.

Sunday, 6 December 2020

Genevieve Flight of Shambhallah Healing Centre found guilty at Gloucester Crown Court

Genevieve Flight is or was the director of the Shambhallah Healing Center/Centre and she and her centre made a variety of misleading claims about being able to cure Alzheimer's and Huntington's disease, as well as asthma, cancer and diabetes. 

She maintained that there is no disease that doesn't also have a cure, and she was reported to Trading Standards after she infiltrated a closed cancer patient Facebook group and tried to tout her cures there. This resulted in a court case and a jury at Gloucester Crown Court found her guilty in her absence (apparently she's fled to Nigeria and was tried in absentia) and there is an arrest warrant for her, for her to attend court for sentencing.

"She was convicted of six charges of falsely claiming a product can cure illness, and six of engaging in a misleading practice." (BBC News)

The Shambhallah Healing Centre has previously had two Advertising Standards Authority adjudications upheld against it, in 2018, for similar misleading claims. I had wondered if she might be being prosecuted under the Cancer Act 1939 but it's more to do with misleading practice. 

A transcript of her Trading Standards interview was read out in court (copies are in a couple of papers below, eg Metro) and she suggested that TS send her someone suffering from an ailment and she'd cure them. This was a spectacularly unwise move on her part, removing the misleading claims and agreeing not to repeat them could possibly have averted any further court action.

I wish I'd been in court to hear a medical expert explain that her Brain Tonic couldn't cure Alzheimer's. 

According to the First Gazette notice* (of 1 Dec 2020) on the Companies House website the company will be struck off the register after the accounts were made up for the dormant company in August 2019. From looking at the previous accounts / filings it seems that the company began with £2 and ended with £2. That's two pounds. Not sure I really understand that!

*Note that these Gazette Notices to strike companies off registers can happen for fairly non-sinister reasons - sometimes this is triggered by a default on filing, and may be later reversed, though if the company is dormant this is probably correct in this case.

Further reading
Advertising Standards Authority

ASA Ruling on Shambhallah Healing Center Ltd
(3 January 2018)

- which includes this absolute gem in response to a request from the ASA for info and evidence "Shambhallah Healing Center did not believe that they needed to provide documentary evidence to support their claims because it was their policy that complainants must undergo their treatment in order to declare that it did not work. They invited the ASA to select a candidate to undergo their treatment. They further stated that they had been using these methods to treat patients since the second century BCE.".

ASA Ruling on Shambhallah Healing Center Ltd (2 May 2018)

Courts 'causelist'
Summary of her case T20190281 which began on took place on several dates over 17 October 2019, 11 May 2020 and 3-4 December 2020 concluding on 4 Dec.

News articles
Police issue arrest warrant for 'holistic healer', 43, after she was found guilty of advertising fake 'Brain Tonic' she claimed could cure Alzheimer's, Huntington's disease and cancer (4 December 2020) Daily Mail

Woman who sold bogus ‘brain tonic’ cure is on the run (4 December 2020) Gloucestershire Live

Hunt for ‘holistic healer’ who claimed she had cure for Alzheimer’s and cancer (4 December 2020) Metro

Gloucester 'brain tonic' seller guilty of false claims (4 December 2020) BBC News 

Quedgeley woman claimed she had Alzheimer’s and cancer cure (5 December 2020) Stroud News & Journal

BBC Points West news clips
4 December 2020 - from 3m33s
(clip no longer available)
3 December 2020 - from 17min
(clip no longer available)





Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Much missed - the Bankside Frost Fair 2003 - 2008

Boat lantern

Frost fairs were an irregular feature of The Thames in mediaeval times, during the Little Ice Age, when the water would freeze and people made the most of it, selling stuff to each other and practising archery. 

This no longer happens as changes to London Bridge (it now has considerably fewer supports holding it up) means that the river now flows more quickly and is less able to freeze. 

The last freeze was in 1814 but in 2003 London decided to bring back a non-frozen version of the riverside Frost Fair with a carnival of music, theatre, shopping, sculpture, workshops, food etc. I went to an Elizabethan-themed one, or at least I spent a lot of time in The Globe Theatre's undercroft which was full of people dressed Elizabethan-ly and plenty of sackbuts. It was wonderful and it all stopped in 2008, I assume thanks to the financial crash - I'm sure it didn't help. 

Bankside still has its Winter Festival (also a Summer Festival) though this is more inland (eg in the lovely Borough Market) and of shorter duration. I hope something can come back to the river though. 

Because the Frost Fairs happened largely before "everyone joined Twitter" there aren't that many tweets about it (there's one from me in 2009 bemoaning the lack of a Frost Fair that year). Internet archaeology is a bit sporadic but good bets are YouTube and Flickr as both were in existence at the time of the Fair, and the Internet Archive has captured some of the content written about it. I'm also grateful to the SE1 website where I found loads of stuff. 

Frost Fair

Photo collections

The photos linked here are all "All Rights Reserved" so I don't think I can embed them here (the ones above have a different "Some Rights Reserved" licence so are OK.

Frost Fair returns to Bankside
(22 December 2003) 
Frost Fair brings crowds to Bankside (22 December 2003) - this was the first fair and was possibly held on one day only.

Here's what the Evening Standard said, on 22 Dec 2003 in its "In London Tonight" section, about the Frost Fair "2003 - Frost Fair - A Carnival by the Water Bankside Riverwalk (by Shakespeare's Globe), SE1. Tube: Southwark. Entry: free.
With street theatre, shopping, carols - in fact everything to get you in the Christmas mood. There are kids' events all day, but for the adults, entertainment goes on well into the evening with a Frozen Ice Bar serving cranberry-vodka shots in ice glasses, mulled ale and wine, festive music and late-night craft and food shopping at The Globe.

A giant slide made an appearance at the Tate Modern.

Badged as an Elizabethan Frost Fair on Bankside, the opening times for the 2004 fair were listed in The Independent on Sunday, 19 Dec 2004: "The event and takes place from 10am-8pm on 20 December."

Frost Fair 2005 in pictures
(19 December 2005) - lantern procession, ice slide, third fair, the river flooded its banks too. In Nov 2005 the annual Fair was nominated for a Culture Award.

Arctic explorer launches fourth Bankside Frost Fair (16 December 2006) - this was the fourth annual fair.

"Southwark Council has organised a Frost Fair on the riverside outside Tate Modern each December since 2003, reviving a tradition that dates back to 1564 when the Thames froze over during the winter months allowing a market to be held on the ice.

In 2005 the Frost Fair attracted more than 100,000 visitors."

Frost Fair 2006 15 - 17 December - archive of Visit Southwark's page - the fair took place on Riverside Bankside, SE1 - outside Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe and featured huskies, wreath-making workshops, oil blending with Neal's Yard - music, food, shopping, workshops, Thames Cutters boat procession, workshops in Mongolian yurts. Also these are the archived pages for information about the traders, music, Cutters (boat racing) and hug a husky

Opening times for the 2006 fair, from The Guardian on 16 Dec 2006: " Today 10am-9pm; tomorrow 10am-6pm. and last night."

Shakespeare’s Globe opens revamped exhibition
(11 Dec 2007) - free visit during Frost Fair 2007, 14-16 Dec

Bankside Frost Fair (2007)  - husky dog sled rides for children, ice sculptures, music, theatre, winter market, mulled wine etc, featured a Disney DVD Dream Dome and a lantern parade at 4pm on Friday, Thames Cutters boat race on Saturday and free entry to the Globe's undercroft with demonstrations of Elizabethan dressing, and I'm pretty sure I remember sword fighting too.

Bankside Frost Fair 2007: photos (18 December 2007)  - fifth Bankside Frost Fair, husky dogs returned.

Opening times for the Frost Fair in 2007 were listed in The Daily Telegraph, 22 Nov 2007: Open: Dec 14, 11am-9pm; Dec 15, 10am-9pm; Dec 16, 10am-6pm.

This is a short video taken by TV3 Televisió de Catalunya (TVC) / Spain of the 2007 event.

This is what Time Out said in December 2008 - "
Around 50 stalls take up residence on a section of Bankside near Shakespeare's Globe and Tate Modern, offering crafts, presents and seasonal drinks and nibbles over ten days. There are husky-sledding rides for under-12s (£5) and husky-hugging photos opportunities for everyone else (£4; Fri-Sun only on both weekends). Other highlights include a lantern procession involving 270 local schoolchildren (Fri 4pm) and the Thames Cutters boat procession from the City to Bankside pier (Sat 11am). Guided walks run by London Walks exploring Bankside's theatrical heritage and connection with the river depart from Mansion House tube on Sat 2.30pm, Sun 10.45m and Dec 20 2.30pm (£5;"

Opening hours listed on Time Out were Mon-Wed 10am-7pm; Thur-Sat 10am-8pm; Sun 10am-6pm (the Sunday in question was 21st Dec 2008).

The UK Student Life website has a great review of the 2008 event with photos.

Other posts in the Much missed series

Image credits
Boat pic -
Lanterns pic -



Saturday, 21 November 2020

Ideas for BBC Sounds - shareable playlists, timestamped clips and mixtapes

I use the BBC Sounds app and online and I'm still not a fan but hate it marginally less than I did at the start. In part I think that's because the social media team are really responsive and helpful. I suggested that I'd like to be able to share a podcast from within the app and they got back to me later to tell me I could now do it (I'm sure it was already in the pipeline, and it wasn't implement just because of me though!). 

So I like them even though I find the whole arrangement a bit... odd. For example if you're on a BBC programme page you're invited to press 'play', which then takes you to the BBC Sounds version of the page where you have to press play again. With the old system you just played within the page you were already on. Just seems weird to duplicate the system. But if you're logged in you can easily click 'bookmark' or 'subscribe' and it immediately syncs with the phone app.

Also, if you were to search for the (excellent) 15min podcast series Bunk Bed (Peter Curran / Patrick Marber) on Google the first hit you probably get is a page telling you about the very limited availability of episodes recently broadcast. In fact all episodes of all series are available, but you need to know to click on the Podcast link to get to them. Baffling.

Anyway - you can create for yourself a playlist by just adding things to bookmarks and it will play them once through continously in the reverse order you add them, last one is first. Or was last time I did this. I use this feature a lot after bleating at them that I couldn't do it and them telling me nicely that i could :)

Suggestion 1 - shareable playlists
I'd like to be able to collate and curate some programmes on a similar theme and share that (a sound-related example is here on one of my other blogs). Perhaps I could create (probably on the web version, but easier) a playlist of up to 5 separate episodes (from different series), or there'd maybe be a maximum length of 3 hours - so 3 x 1hr episodes max, or 6 1/2hr ones, or a mixture.

Suggestion 2 - Timestamped 'clips'
On YouTube it's easy to share a link to a video and specify when it starts. People clicking on your link will be taken to that very point in the video - this is great. They can then stop the video themselves or let it play to the end. I'd quite like to be able to share something similar, rather than saying 'start at 1hr 04min 23sec'. I realise it's not straightforward to create actual 'clips' because either that would involve BBC having to store additional mini copies of stuff, and there could be billions if people are endlessly clipping various sections of a piece, but a timestamp thing would help. As BBC material is copyrighted it's not practical / legal to start downloading and sharing clips yourself.

Suggestion 3 - 'Mixtapes'
If it were straightforward to share episodes or segments of episodes think of the fun we could have sharing the radio equivalent of mixtapes! Little bit of this, little bit of that.

Some online talks coming up

In normal non-Coronavirus times I go to a fair few (physical) talks so I've quite enjoyed transferring this activity entirely online. Here are some talks I've made a note of - can't guarantee I'll actually get to all of them (and some overlap so just not possible) but I thought others might like to know about them. 

I have a long list of London venues that I periodically check for upcoming talks, but I've also used the search facility on Eventbrite as it's quite good at uncovering talks too (well, only the ones it has tickets for!). 

Saturday 21 Nov
6pm - Peter Curran interviews John Lloyd as part of the Belfast Film Festival, free, donations welcomed

Monday 23 Nov
6.30pm - Plant Prints: Cemetery Park Online (anthotypes), free, donations welcomed 

Wednesday 25 Nov
7.30am - So you want a career in Scicomm? Australian Science Communicators, free.

Thursday 26 Nov
1pm - Performing music, performing medicine, Imperial - part of the Great Exhibition Road Festival, free.
6pm - The Thomas Sutton Lecture:
Eric Parry RA: Boundaries in time, place and material, suggested donation £10, Charterhouse (the actual place, not the QMUL campus next door)

Friday 27 Nov
7pm - Armchair Travel: Turin - art and architecture, Andrew Graham-Dixon, £12 (+£1.01 bkg fee)

Saturday 28 Nov
10am - Land ahoy! Talks on Maritime history and heritage, Plymouth University - European Researchers Night / Futures, free (pre-recorded).

Wednesday 2 Dec (= very late on Tuesday 1 Dec night!!)
1am - Cheryl Platz: Design beyond devices, Quarantine Book Club, $5 [this takes place in the afternoon in the US, the timing, automatically worked out by Eventbrite, is very late on Tuesday night).

Thursday 3 Dec
6pm - Life sciences in a post-truth world: A COVID-19 case study, Bristol University event, free
7pm - Just the Tonic - A natural history of tonic water, South London Botanical Institute, donation

Thursday 10 Dec
5.30pm - Data Debates: Talking about my generation, Turing Institute, free

Some 2021 events at the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries include
6pm - 14 Jan - Leonardo da Vinci: Some artistic concepts
6pm - 10 March - “History of Peyote” & “The history of gigantism – from legends to genes” (Virtual)

More from the Apothecaries...


Here's my current list of venues and their events pages - most are in London, where I live, though I have started adding venues from further afield while everything's online. Sometimes they have filtered events pages so the page given below may not show all stuff happening. Have a rummage on their website and look on their social pages to hear about more / sign up to mailing list


Monday, 26 October 2020

Great fun - live table read of Tom Stoppard's The Real Inspector Hound in support of The Royal Theatrical Fund.

Oh this was great! I really enjoyed tonight's performance of Tom Stoppard's The Real Inspector Hound, done as a live table readthrough via Zoom. Just wonderful. Several scenes involved people on telephones so they used bananas as props, haha. It all worked brilliantly from a tech point of view and then we had a moderated Q&A at the end. 

I'd not seen the play before so that was a treat (it's a one-act comedy, poking fun at whodunits based in a country house and has a play within a play) and we had a message at the end to say that Tom had been watching, so that was rather nice (he was also in the audience on one of the times I saw his Travesties too). 

Image cheekily pinched from Lockdown Theatre's page (hope they don't mind!) advertising Tom Stoppard's The Real Inspector Hound, with Derek Jacobi, Simon Callow, Jennifer Saunders, Freddie Fox, Emilia Clarke, Samantha Bond, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Gary Wilmot. Narrated by Robert Lindsay, directed by Jonathan Church and produced by Rob Grant and Paul Jackson - thank you all :-)
Poster design by Lily Grant.

Lockdown Theatre has been raising funds for The Royal Theatrical Fund by putting on several of these performances and they've already raised £100,000. I only heard about this one (missed the earlier events) but I'm now on the mailing list so won't miss any more (the producer, Rob Grant, is one of the Red Dwarf co-authors).

It was fun to see the actors enjoying themselves and occasionally stifling giggles and lovely to be a part of as an audience member. In the Q&A afterwards several people wondered if this might form a new medium for theatre that would persist after lockdown ends. The actors commented that it was also interesting to be 'onstage' during bits where they'd normally be back stage or in their dressing room, so they got to see everyone do everything. 

It's also very accessible in the sense that you don't even need to leave your house, and it's generally cheaper to attend than a West End production (tonight's show was £35) - so I could see this as being a useful addition to the theatre, even once they re-open. Possibly attracting a different audience too.

There are already live-broadcast versions of theatre where the show is 'simulcast' in cinemas and recorded for later. Other performances are BSL-signed and on some productions there are post-show talks and Q&As too - so there are already all sorts of additional events that go on. I wonder if productions might add a live table read, or if it would be far too much additional work (eg the play may need adjusting and it still needs to be rehearsed, not to mention everyone needs good wifi and hardware).

Everyone in the audience is muted so you can cough and rustle your Maltesers as much as you like and no-one's disturbed if you pop to the loo. Perhaps there could be PDF versions of the programmes too - I might be getting a bit carried away though!

I also wonder what I'll take away from it in the next few days, and how I'll remember it. Generally after seeing something in the theatre I'll remember bits of it as they related to what was happening on stage, or where someone was, costumes, set decoration and of course music and sound design - which wasn't included (imagine it might be quite hard to include). That said, Radio 4's plays have a lot of sound design and music but you can't see anything at all so it isn't really comparable. Strangely it does feel as if I actually left the house for a bit - while writing this it feels as if I've "just got back" from somewhere! (Something that I remembered a day after the event is the lack of geographic restriction - I think we had people joining us from the US!).

Anyway a really good event and I hope there'll be more.

Also congratulations to Tom Stoppard whose most recent play, Leopoldstadt, has just won the Olivier Award for Best New Play.


Further reading
Review: The Live Table Read of The Real Inspector Hound - Theatre Weekly (25 October 2020)
"Robert Lindsay takes on the role of narrator, relaying the stage directions to the audience at home.  This may not sound particularly thrilling, but is in fact a terrific insight in to how the play is intended to be performed."

The Real Inspector Hound, review: Derek Jacobi and Simon Callow the highlights of a starry Zoom performance - inews (26 October 2020)
"It was a pleasure to watch the performers respond to one another’s choices – something we wouldn’t see normally. We also heard Stoppard’s witty stage directions, read in by Robert Lindsay. It put focus on how precisely crafted the piece is, and also demonstrated the affection (albeit barbed) Stoppard holds for his industry."

The Real Inspector Hound - British Theatre Guide (26 October 2020)
"An excellent company intent on enjoying themselves as much as entertaining the public is completed by suave Robert Lindsay acting as Narrator.

This is the kind of play that has worked well on radio, which makes it a perfect choice for this medium. Not only is it great fun but the script also benefits from Tom Stoppard’s legendary rich use of language and delight in sending up a minor art form that is often taken too seriously and therefore fully deserves to be lampooned.



Friday, 9 October 2020

Some places to find out about jobs in the UK

There are several ways in which can find jobs: (1) job portals where jobs are advertised from all sorts of different organisations, and (2) individual companies' websites where their own jobs are posted. For (2) it can also be helpful to find (or create) your own list of companies by theme - eg the Association of Medical Research Charities has 100+ members so there's a ready made list of 'medical charities'.   

(3) For the sorts of jobs where people are headhunted (I don't move in those circles or at that level so can't help) I think it's all down to networking so things like LinkedIn would be for that. The UK Gov't has some advice on networking. CV Library has advice on How to address unemployment on your CV.

(4) What about a 'hand search' - poring over Google Maps of local areas to see what companies are there (that you might not have come across before) and sending speculative enquiries. 

(5) Put together a short pitch in a tweet / video and send it via Twitter and ask for RTs and suggestions, or via a public Facebook post etc.

(1) Places where jobs are advertised / portals

(2) Thematic ists of organisations' websites - I recommend creating your own tailored version. These lists are not set up with job seekers in mind so you will need to drill into any org's website that interest you and find their vacancies page.



Background to this post
The UK Government is increasing the number of Work Coaches through the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), by creating 13,500 new jobs for people to help as JETS: Job Entry - Targeted Support. Their role will be to support other jobseekers into finding suitable employment and the scheme was launched on Monday 5th October 2020.

This story was widely covered in the news media on Monday 5th and Tuesday 6th October but none of the stories I saw linked to where someone could apply for one of these 13,500 new jobs. Even the Government's own press release made no mention of it. 

Eventually I found it: JETS jobs - (via a search on, restricted to DWP organisation. When I clicked on an example job and then 'apply at advertiser's site' that's where it took me. 

It seemed like it would be the sort of things that would just fall out into the top results on a Google search for jets dwp jobs, but no.




Tuesday, 6 October 2020

Things that have made me laugh so much I couldn't breathe

Table of Contents

1. Things that have made me laugh so much I couldn't breathe
2. Things that have made me chuckle
3. Context 

Sometimes stuff just strikes you as funny, here's what did it for me. I'm sure I've forgotten LOADS!

1. Things that have made me laugh so much I couldn't breathe

Mitsubishi car advert - polar bear mascot can't stay on his feet

@abuttguy's "Male writers writing female characters" (shared by Scott Baiowulf)


Woman amused by sock mask

Man seeks mercy from hotel that banned him after seagulls trashed his room

Huffpost story

Table-cat memes

Zak McFlimby's response to Marshall amplifiers - from b3ta


See original and context here.

Mark Twain's 'The Awful German Language' 

On the challenges of learning a language whose rules appear to be out to get you, with suggestions for improvement. 

"In the next place, I would move the Verb further up to the front. You may load up with ever so good a Verb, but I notice that you never really bring down a subject with it at the present German range--you only cripple it. So I insist that this important part of speech should be brought forward to a position where it may be easily seen with the naked eye. " 

The Clbuttic Mistake: when obscenity filters go wrong (£)

The Simpsons (1): Call of The Simpsons

The Simpsons (2): Homer jumps Springfield Gorge

To craunch a marmoset

The entirety of Stephen Pile's Book of Heroic Failures killed me age 10 and the bit I remember the most was the chap who took it upon himself to create a Portuguese-English conversational book having only a French-English dictionary and an Portuguese-French phrasebook.

As paredes têm ouvidos (Portuguese original)

The walls have hearsay (English translation)
The walls have ears (correct, idiomatic translation).

My mum telling jokes

She couldn't do it. Every joke had the punch-line "Oh no, wait a wee minute - that can't be right" and Dad and I would be laughing so much anyway it didn't really matter.  


I have also laughed myself silly seeing Boothby Graffoe (London) and Miles Jupp (Edinburgh Festival) live.

2. Things that have made me chuckle

Cats hiding behind food

 I'm afraid I saved the pictures without making a note of who took them. 

Gye gye cruel world

Peter O'Hanraha-hanrahan on The Day Today

Patrick Marber should be on the telly more, his comic timing is *chef's kiss*. That little 'German' at 0.48. Dead :)

Alan Partridge after eating a chocolate mousse

The out-take version is also fabulous.

All of Monty Python especially...

The matter-of-fact way in which John Cleese says "The plumage don't enter into it" in The Dead Parrot sketch.

The mere idea of the All-England Summarise Proust competition. 

Ripping Yarns

When the camera pans back and Terry Jones realises what's going on. Hahahaha. 

The radio ventriloquist

My mum told me about this when I was little. Laughed for days. I assume she meant Peter Brough.

Blackadder - Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking

Remember watching this with my mum and howling with laughter

Every Street in Manchester closed. No, wait I mean...


Bus ping

I once had to get off the 380 bus early after I got the giggles. The bus had had an upgrade and now had a new STOPPING sign at the front that lit up in orange whenever anyone pressed the button. There was new music too - a gently falling three tone ping-ping-ping motif which accompanied the bus press and the illumination. Unfortunately the first four letters (STOP) of the sign didn't light up properly. So whenever someone pressed the button the sign just lit up as PING while the musical accompaniment pinged along - I lost all sense of reason every time someone pressed the button (and also in anticipation when I could see someone was about to) and had to get off and walk the last few stops.

Help Bury animals

I'm on a horse (moo)

Man puts 3.5m dinosaur in the family garden to prank his wife...

...she takes the dog out for a midnight wee and gets quite a surprise

The Leamington Courier

Face swap baby nose

The Telegraph

3. Context

Being very easily amused I spend quite a lot of my time giggling or rather trying not to giggle, particularly when I'm in public where giggling by yourself just unnerves everyone. 

Finding something amusing and trying not to laugh seems to set off some horrendous feedback loop, where I find myself giggling not just at the thing that's made me laugh in the first place but also at the terrible predicament I'm now in (where I'm not supposed to laugh) and finding that funny as well.

I once heard that people tend not to laugh by themselves as much as they do in public and I'm sure it's true - laughter has an important social function - but I certainly laugh out loud by myself at funny television programmes and articles / books (I wouldn't read Bill Bryson in public again after losing it on a tube train during one of his tall stories).

What we find funny is so personal so I can easily imagine people reading the examples above and not even managing to raise a chuckle for some of them. Of course now that I've laughed at these in the past I probably will never laugh at them in quite the same way again.