“There has to be more to writing in English than this.” The English & Media Centre identify the chronic shortcomings of the dominant assessment model in English at KS3 which they say “is at odds with the creative nature of subject English”.

Seriously concerning report by the National Literacy Trust identifying the decline of children’s reading for pleasure. Seems to me the most important part is the section where children say what would encourage them to read more.

Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker

Found a secondhand copy of Riddley Walker in our local Oxfam Bookshop. It’s an apocalyptic SF nove set locally here in Kent. This copy’s got an intro by an enthusiastic Will Self. It’ll have to go on my tsundoko for the time being as I’m wirkinh my way through the very enjoyable Murderbot Diaries series by Martha Wells.

Ahh, Not More Repairs!

Somehow our switch was dropped (probably not the first time) and started malfunctioning. The issue seemed to be one connected with power. It was pretty straightforward to open the switch up and take a look inside. I made what repairs I could and cleaned off the dust and… it was fixed. I have a suspicion that the issue was really to do with overheating. So we’ll have to see if the issues continue. I’m tempted to rebuild the switch around a different shell which might run cooler.

Ruins of Thurnham Castle

Went for a walk around the ruins of Thurnham Castle today. It’s the remains of a Norman earthworks castle. I enjoyed the ruins much more than I expected and the area around is full of twisty paths through woods and sharply descending steps. Jan and I explored some of the landscape beyond.

Beating the Battery Blues

Phew! Finally put a new battery in my iphone. Made a couple of mistakes – and lost one miniscule screw – but all seems well. Phone is working. It was something that HAD to be done as the old battery was lasting about an hour between charges.

Devil’s Kneading Trough

Visited the Devil’s Kneading Trough near Wye today which has a lovely view of southern Kent from the Downs. It was exactly the right length of walk for the kids. Alice picked blackberries.

Just learned about Russel Hoban’s Riddley Walker. Set in post-nuclear devastated Kent. Hoban is a writer I know nothing about but seems pretty interesting.

The Two Towers

“Frodo was alive but taken by the Enemy.” So ends The Two Towers. My slow read of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings now advances into The Return of the King. Gandalf returned. The Ents laid siege to Isengard. Saruman’s power was broken. Gollum led Frodo and Sam into a deadly trap in Mordor.

Frodo Lives! I wonder if Tolkien realised he couldn’t pull the death of a major character and resurrection in the next volume more than once so revealed that Frodo isn’t killed by Shelob? Or that he didn’t want the second volume to apparently end so bleakly?

The Choices of Master Samwise. Tolkien seems to spend more time presenting the travels into Mordor from Sam’s perspective than he does Frodo. Sam becomes the hero of the tale (proving himself in the fight with Shelob). Scenes like the Oliphaunt appear to have been written to show Sam’s continued capacity for awe and wonder. Is Sam one of the only morally-firm characters of the novel? When he thinks Frodo dead, Sam realises there is no other choice but to continue to Mount Doom alone. (Ignoring that Sam leaves Frodo’s body then decides to return to it.)

Faramir. Boromir’s brother, Faramir, plays a similar role to Strider from The Fellowship. He joins the (few) characters who refuse the ring, realising its danger. Tolkien uses Faramir to introduce a great deal of information about Gondor. Tolkien also seems to reveal the quality of a character through their treatment of halflings (and Frodo particularly).

Double act. Enjoyed the comedy of Shagrat and Gorbag at the end. Tolkien runs the risk here of humanising orcs. Both are nasty, evil creatures that feel put-on by those in power over them. They reveal what being ordinary on the side of Sauron is like – which is something (so far) we don’t get from the human or elf side.

One ring to rule them all. It was only in the course of re-reading The Two Towers that I started to wonder what exactly the power of the ring actually is. It’s SO powerful and corrupting there is no choice other than to destroy it. We get glimpses of its power (invisibility, extended life, the ability to understand languages and so on) and it’s talked about as if it has some sort of consciousness. Yet, other than having power over all the other magic rings, what the ring actually does isn’t (as far as I can make out) explicitly addressed. Very vague.

Frodo Lives! The cliff-hanger ending has an Empire Strikes Back quality. Gandalf (and Pippin) is on his way to Minas Tirith and Sauron’s armies, led by the wraith-king are on the move. Frodo has been captured and Sam is ring-bearer and alone.

Coming close to the end of my S-L-O-W re-read of The Two Towers. Having mixed feelings about the book if I’m honest.

fixing joycons again

I seem to keep fixing joy cons. This time my youngest managed to chew the thumbsticks. Luckily I had some replacement parts. Wonder if Hall Effect thumbstcks might help.

Very much enjoyed the Silo tv series. Found myself literally on the edge of my seat for the final episode. That last scene!

Haddit with Reddit

After 12 years using Reddit, I’ve deleted my data*. I’ll give it a few days to check that my comments and posts have been completely wiped and then I’ll permanently delete my account. Like many other long-term user of Reddit, this is in response to the greed of Reddit’s management and their despicable treatment of Christian Selig, developer of the Apollo app. There’s been a lot of coverage about this recently and the right thing to do is to leave Reddit. I’ve used Apollo for many years and it has been the primary way that I accessed Reddit. I doubt I would have used Reddit very much without Apollo.

Reddit was a mechanism I’ve used for making contact with others with whom I had shared, somewhat niche interests. I’m sure I wouldn’t have encountered contemporary writers like Laird Barron, John Langhan or Caitlin R. Kiernan without belonging to one of the subreddits that have celebrated their work. Or learned about apps like Obsidian. Or got support with tech hardware. Or simply shared enjoyment of music, comics, tv series or movies. “Reddit” was a search term I added whenever I needed information or help online.

It feels like there’s something bigger happening at the moment in terms of online communities. In the early days of the net, many of us used Usenet and blogs. Facebook and Twitter more or less centralised everything and made accessing communities online very easy so – combined with the smartphone – these platforms became ubiquitous. (Google and Microsoft were less successful in this.) My impression is that Reddit enabled people to replace their various accounts on various forums scattered across the internet with one location and one sign-on. Reddit seemed to be the final end of Usenet as a place to discuss anything. This centralisation also concentrated power in the hands of companies who, as we know, monetised user data and now require subscriptions.

It feels that the movement towards decentralisation – away from big tech’s control over platforms – seems to be gathering momentum. I don’t believe we’ll see a return of forums, Usenet or other social media platforms of yesteryear. It does look like social media federation is, though. Simply, the idea is to build a federated network of platforms which no one company controls. Mastodon – essentially a Twitter alternative – is the largest of these federated platforms at the moment but there are many others.

I’ve been on Mastodon since 2018.

In terms of a Reddit alternative, I’ve moved to Lemmy. It’s pretty early days there and – like Mastodon – takes a little time getting used to how to subscribe to communities (the term for subreddits) on different instances. There are lots of communities being set up that seem empty – but I’m sure that they’ll fill up.

What seems to me like an important development in the adoption of Lemmy is wefwef.app, a browser-based app that has a similar interface to Apollo.

* I have to thank Power Delete Suite which made export and deletion of my Reddit data effortless.

Excellent TES interview with Professor Robert Eaglestone regarding knowledge and the ways that the teaching of English in schools has profoundly altered – and not for the better!

I support the seven actions proposed in the EMC’s Open Letter to Gillian Kegan, Secretary of State for Education.

Geoff Dyer: “Certain books are held dear because they are also psychic landmarks revealing where and how they helped us come into consciousness. Inevitably, our perception of the world continues to be informed by such texts long after the precise details of their contents have been forgotten.

Apollo is shutting down on 30th June. Its app developer, Christian Selig, has been treated awfully by Reddit’s greedy leaders. I’m going to be deleting my Reddit account on 30th.

Excalidraw & Obsidian

Spent some time today looking at the Excalidraw plug-in for Obsdian by Zsolt Vicsián. (When online,) Excalidraw is a collaborative whiteboard. Using it within Obsidian, Excalidraw functions much like Obsidian’s built in Canvas – but importantly – allows stylus/Apple Pencil input. Making editable handwritten notes is the only feature I’ve missed since moving away from One Note. I’ve been playing with embedding Excalidraw files into Canvas documents kanban/corkboard-style and I’m pleased with the results.

Reading the Vertigo John Constantine, Hellblazer series this evening. Very much of it’s time (late 1980s) and engaging. There’s 300 issues in this run!

Dance of the Dawn

Chance found me listening to the first track on Yes’ 1973 album, Tales from Topographic Oceans and realising that it was a song from my childhood that I’d been trying to find for a great deal of my adult life. The Revealing Science of God: Dance of the Dawn. The album was one that my mum had at home and I would listen to mesmerised by the eerie opening of the song. For a while I’d confused it with another album of my mum’s, Argus by Wishbone Ash. Things like this are windows into my past.

Watched – and enjoyed – the Nick Broomfield Arena documentary about the life of Brian Jones. So much about Jones I didn’t know and now realise what a complex person he was.

Here We Are

Impressed and enjoying the first season of HBO’s Perry Mason. Almost at the end of The Two Towers. Have been reading a great deal about the development of the Romance and Spenser’s Fairie Queene. Started Adrian Tchaicovsky’s Shards of Earth. Not reading many comics at the moment other than recent X-Men. Listening to: Van der Graaf Generator (first time ever) and Metallica’s 72 Seasons (better with each listen). Someone said that they felt unstuck in time today and I found myself agreeing.

Reading Memories

I’m almost finished reading The Fellowship of the Ring. Alongside the novel, I’m listening to Phil Dragash’s soundscape recording which I highly recommend. The novel has encouraged lots of memories of the copy of Fellowship I read when I was eleven and took with me to school. It was a large hardback copy without a dust jacket. I remember my puzzlement with the Tom Bombadil and Barrow-Wights chapters which hadn’t appeared in the Bakshi animated movie I adored (there was once a massive falling-out between my friends and me over whether we should go to the cinema to see Buck Rogers or LotR). I can visualise where I sat in the sunny Summer classroom reading after lunchtime. All those years ago.

Unusually bleak commentary on the current state of behaviour in schools by head of ASCL, Geoff Barton. Many school leaders are reporting a core of very challenging students in schools. Barton offers suggestions about the causes but states that “the truth is that we just don’t know”.

Polarisation in teaching in UK schools no better demonstrated than the “discussion” between Tom Rogers and Phil Beadle.

Reading The Fellowship of the Ring and realising how much I’d forgotten (and how my memory of it has been shaped by the Jackson movies).

Missed this piece in The Guardian yesterday by David Robson about the physical and mental health benefits of writing.

Rather than Labour’s “Report Card” for UK schools, I wonder whether looking for approaches outside of the models aping big business would provide a solution.

Found This, Out

Found this when out. It’s an old sign that’s been quite violently shredded by a vandal.

Seems like Johnson’s vile “I am the führer” exclamation as PM reported over the weekend is being completely ignored.

Listening to the first season of TANIS again. It’s great in creating an eerie, disorienting atmosphere.

Already after midnight and I’m still trying to work out how to improve these microposts. Need to save it for tomorrow!

Up too late again! I’m perpetually bemused how easily I lose track of time.

Working out how – and whether it’s worth it – to add micro posts here. Main issue is they look like junk clutter!

Have been reading Gene Wolfe’s The Fifth Head of Cerebus this evening.

Metallica 72 Seasons

Have to say that I’m enjoying the new Metallica album, 72 Seasons, a great deal. Metallica are a dangerous band for me musically as they encourage me to listen to thrashy, heavy metal at a time in my life where my inclination is far more still, gentle music or catching up with interesting stuff I really should have listened to earlier in life (said looking at the Throbbing Gristle playlist I’m putting together). Anyhow, I’ve spent this evening listening to the new album then revisiting past albums. For a band producing metal for 40+ years they are sounding magnificent.

This is LotR

My later primary school days were dominated by LotR and I was given this poster by one of my mum’s friends who had glued it to a poster-sized piece of heavy wood. It remained propped up in my bedroom through my teenage years. It’s by Jimmy Caulty who drew it at the age of seventeen in 1976! (More details.) As much as I liked the Ralph Bakshi animated adaptation, it’s the styling – and tone particularly – that influenced how I visualised Tolkien’s world (those pale, forlorn characters, the pointed mountains and castles, the weariness and fragility of it all). The Jackson movies never quite managed to evoke the weirdness of Middle Earth in quite the same way.

Medway Fifties SF Club

Just discovered that a group of SF enthusiasts formed the Medway Science and Fantasy Club in the early 1950s with a bookshop in Gillingham, a fanzine and even hosted its own convention, Medcon. Ron Hansen maintains incredibly interesting pages documenting the history of the group and the FANAC Fan History Project hosts pdfs of their fanzine, The Medway Journal. The photos of the group are really of a more innocent age.

The Best-Kept Secret

Being an easy pushover for a good UFO book (something I’ve not shaken since my childhood), I’ve just read Jacques Vallée’s and Paola Harris’ Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret. It’s an account of a hitherto unknown UFO crash in San Antonio in 1945 very close to Ground Zero where the Manhattan Project had tested the first atomic bomb just days before. In reality, other than the testimony of old men who saw the crash as small children and a piece of aluminium, there’s not a great deal of physical evidence. Nevertheless Vallée and Harris link the first wave of UFO phenomena with the use of nuclear weapons and with the 1964 Zamora close encounter in nearby Socorro and the similar 1965 Valensole, France close encounter. Vallée’s approach is open-minded and investigative and he is as interested in the psychic effect of anomalous incidents as their physical. Though it’s never entirely clear what Vallée believes, he seems to interpret the UFO phenomena as a form of communication or signal to influence human society.

Goodbye, Things

Just read Goodbye, Things by Fumio Sasaki which advocates an extreme form of extreme ascetic minimalism. Fumio argues that through discarding material possessions other than those that are absolutely essential is the path to happiness. I can’t disagree with most of Sasaki’s advice but feel that it’s aimed at much younger adults without families. He’s clear about a need to shift priorities. For example: “There’s no point in putting up with a terrible job or working yourself to death just to maintain your standard of living. By having less and lowering your minimum living costs, you can go anywhere you want. Minimalism can really be liberating.

UK Grim

But what’s gone on, what can I see?
You’re all getting mugged by the aristocracy
But what’s gone on, what can I see?
You’re all getting mugged by the right wing beast.

I had a long car journey today which gave me the chance to listen to UK Grim, Sleaford Mods’ new release. Aside from the bleak portrait it paints of Britain, it’s wretchedly – absurdly – funny. The Mods’ appear to have both personal and political hypocrisy in their sights. Andrew Fearn’s synths seem to me to be the soundtrack to the days we are living through here in the UK. (Oh, and without any sense of irony, The Daily Telegraph made UK Grim album of the week with a perfect score!)

Whither the Woes of Winter?

On our walk today we notice the first signs of Spring: the early flowerings, the reddish tips of bushes regrowing after being cut back. It’s still cold, though. My hands are still sore from not wearing gloves. It’s an age thing.

Star Wars-level dismemberment

Alas, Luigi seems to suffer Skywalker degrees of injury in our house lately. He’s been glued several times. He always has that complex shocked-but-resigned-to-suffer expression.

Attentive photography attempt

Realised that – except for two or three family snaps – I haven’t taken a photograph since Christmas. Or non-family photos for a very long time. Which must indicate that I’m not paying enough attention. Inspired by a recommendation to use an old Canon SD1000 as a “sleeper camera”, I hunted through the boxes in the attic until I found my old Canon Ixus 130 which I’m going to put to deliberate use to take attentive photos. I’d certainly like a better camera – and have long had my eye on the old Lumix LX 100 – but the 130 will do for a start.

Godmode9 Sysnand Backup

For the love of all that is Good, how tortuous is this?

This application requires…

It’s happened! My phone – an iPhone 7 bought in 2016 – is now supposedly too old to update to iOS 16 and, consequently, won’t install newer apps. The phone is perfectly good. It’s in great condition, continues to work really well and seems fast enough to do everything I want. I don’t need a faster processor for games or a better camera lense. Enforced upgrading!

Tom Strong’s Terrific Tales Vol. 1

Got this for £5. Have been after a reasonably-prices copy for at least 5 years.

New Year’s Day

To see in the new year we went for a walk in Hayle Park Nature Reserve and then down into part of the lower Loose Valley. Enjoyable wander.

Obsidian Canvas Tool

Obsidian’s latest update, 1.1.8, introduces canvas, a type of infinite note that encourages visual note-taking. Although it’s only currently available on desktop, it brings much of the functionality of OneNote. Once on mobile/tablet, all that’s needed is a stylus/handwriting  plug-in (which, undoubtedly a developer in the Obsidian community will be working on). Fantastic step forward for the app.

iFixed iPod

Frankensteined a classic iPod out of two broken ones today. I continue to like the idea of a dedicated music player rather than using a phone. It could be familarity and nostalgia that puts me off the current (terribly-designed) mp3 players. At some point I’ll swap out the hard drive for a larger sd card and add a new battery.

It’s all so quiet

Looks like the country has taken a day off. No one is out and nothing is moving.

Suddenly it’s snowed!

Just looked outside and it’s snowed! It’s been cold over the past couple of days here in South-east Albion but I wasn’t expecting such heavy snow. Such a peaceful evening.

The villain is… the English teacher

Pat Mills is someone I have incredible respect for as both a writer and advocate of creativity. His Substack is required reading for me. For Mills, the villain in his creative life is the presence of his English teacher: “My teacher’s deliberate sabotaging of my creative endeavours – for a number of personal reasons I’ll get into later – actually forced me to find my own unique writing path. His negativity undoubtedly made me the writer I am today and I can see his influence in every single one of my stories… He is lurking in the shadows of all of them..” (Pat Mills’ Iconoblast)

Graduation Day

My eldest son, Lysander, graduated today with his first class degree in film-making. It was great to see him receive his degree – especially as his time at university during the pandemic was hard for him and, at times, he felt like giving up. It was heart-warming to hear how highly other graduates spoke about Lysander and the regard they held him for his skills and technical knowledge.

What a Draft idea!

Trying to save money has meant ending small subscriptions for services I’ve enjoyed using for years. I’ve just cancelled Drafts, the text capture app that I’ve used as a starting point for all my notes and writing. As much as I find Drafts an excellent app, I don’t use the actions – which are really its killer feature – nearly enough to warrant a monthly subscription. I use Drafts to keep notes and write longer pieces that I then move into other apps like Obsidian and IA Writer. It’s possible to do that using 1Writer, an app I already own on iOS, and Sublime Text on Mac and keeping them in shared folders accessed by the other apps. I’m going to see whether this works over the next month before deciding whether or not this will be permanent. After that, I’m looking to end my reliance on Microsoft (for OneNote) and – less so – Apple (for iCloud).

Paying Attention

Every time I think I have how Mastodon works in my head, I find a feature that is so unexpected and welcome. My natural inclination is towards organisation (eg. tying in my blog posts to Mastodon so they become a natural part of the conversation rather than forcing links to be clicked etc.) but it might do some good to be a little chaotic with this.

Walk in King’s Wood

Postponed from earlier in the week, we went for a walk in King’s Wood this morning. So quiet! So many mushrooms!

On the way to Horrid Hill

Took the boys for a walk along the river and up to Horrid Hill this morning. Tide turned as we walked back.

The Passenger

Started Cormac McCarthy’s The Passenger. His last novel, The Road, was published 16 years ago. There’s an expectational attitude you have to take when you read one of McCarthy’s novels…

“children… have a right to high-quality care and education that meets their social and emotional needs”

Excellent piece by Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett about childcare in the UK (second most expensive in the developed world that our European neighbours put to shame). Cosslett is right in linking child-care to aspirations of a fairer society and child-neglect as a political policy. She points out: “far more important is the wellbeing and education of children, who have a right to high-quality care and education that meets their social and emotional needs.

In your restless dreams, do you see that town?

Exciting to find out that – after 10 years – we are returning to Silent Hill. Four games seem to be in development. I’m most interested in Silent Hill F, set in 1960s rural Japan. There’s even a sequel to the fairly enjoyable 2006 movie. All very exciting.


More as a reference for me: Laird Barron’s short story recommendations. I’ve not read the Paul Tremblay story so will hunt it down RIGHT NOW!

2000AD, Prog 2295

Final part of Abnett & Culbard’s Brink: Mercury Retrograde in this week’s 2000AD. Brink continues to be a fascinating comic and this book/series/season has approached the story from a very different (and thoroughly engaging) perspective. I’m in the process of re-reading the first four book atm.

Moonwatching 3

Another snap of the Moon. It’s amazing to see the detail and begin to navigate locations. Here the three large “bruised” areas are Mare Serenitatis, Mare Tranquillitatis and Mare Fecunditatis. To their right, Mare Crisium and to their lower-left, Mare Nectaris. On the left is the top of the Apennines mountain range. (I also just about saw the rings of Saturn. My telescope is not powerful enough. Just a beginner’s!)

Moonwatching 2

Very surprised how easy it is to take a snap of the Moon using a phone just by holding the camera up to the eyepiece of the telescope.


Dug out the telescope we bought a few years ago.

Server Woes

Issues with the server migration have causes lots of small issues that have popped up. Posts to this site haven’t been working. Grrr.


I know I’m not the target audience but the Kenobi series was terrible. Why can’t Disney hire people who know how to plot interesting stories? Even for kids? Buried in the mess of the Kenobi series are some great characters and ideas. It felt like watching a fan-made film rather than a genuine Star Wars adventure. I’m coming around to the idea that my head-canon for Star Wars has to be A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and… well, that’s about it. Everything else seems to diminish what was wonderful about Star War originally. (I’m tempted to add Rogue One – but I probably need to rewatch it just to double check.)

Providence #11

Gradually finding the remaining single issues for Moore and Burrow’s Providence. I’m now only missing the regular cover for #9 I think this cover is of a Government Lethal Chamber.

Marvel 1963

Arrived today! Last year I got a copy of the Marvel 1961 omnibus that published the November 1961 comics published alongside Fantastic Four #1 (and before the company was even called Marvel).

This omnibus is perhaps more significant as it presents the comics published coverdated June 1962. In that month the company presented the first Spider-man, first Ant-Man and first Thor. Browsing through the omnibus shows how varied the comics Marvel published were: alongside the five superhero titles were seven girls’ romance, one western and two science fiction.

Chute & Gibson

Teaching A Midsummer Night’s Dream to Year Seven this term. These are my go-to books when planning Shakespeare: Rex Gibson’s indispensable Teaching Shakespeare, which always offers some new idea or insight, and Marchette Chute’s retellings of the plays, Stories from Shakespeare. My approach is to nail down the main characters are, the plot outline and act out some quotes (usually 10) before reading the text. I definitely don’t “front load” context or The Life of Shakespeare.


Played some KotOR this afternoon (as a break from Mass Effect). Not keen how the Series X doesn’t seem to play it full screen.

Gaia in the Cathedral

I’m not entirely sure what I made of the installation of a giant spinning globe in the nave of Rochester Cathedral. It certainly looks better in photos than in real life and the crowds certainly enjoyed their selfies and Atlas-like shots of family members holding the Earth up. Two things did strike me, though. First was how the whole thing seemed to remove the usual sense of awe and mystery you get when entering a church. It could have been any indoor space. Second was how incongruous it seemed that such a non-Christian spirituality of Earth-worship, Gaia, was placed at the centre of a Christian place of worship. Noticeable was the lack of priests… and in their places people tending to the secular congregation in yellow hi-viz jackets.

Mass Effect Revelation

Played the first Mass Effect today and was immediately struck by how coherent the world-building of the game is from the very start. I’m enjoying it far more than I remember when I played it back in 2007. I saw that there’s a range of novels and thought I’d give the first, Revelation, a read while I’m engaged in the story. I rarely read adaptations or tie-ins so I’m interested to see what I make of this.

Mass Effect

Next up on my play list after Alan Wake – and most likely well into the summer – is the Mass Effect trilogy, a sort of RPG/shooter/interactive story that was released between 2007 and 2012 with a follow-up, Andromeda, published in 2017. One of the joys of the Xbox Series X is its backward compatibility, which means that pretty good games cost a couple of pounds. I only vaguely remember playing the first Mass Effect. It’s one of those games – like Bioshock – that In realise I should have paid more attention to at the time.

Macbeth Mobile


Edit: just noticed it’s out of sequence! Agghhh!

I’ve become convinced that teaching Macbeth benefits from nailing down the sequence of scenes and linking each scene with quotes, a determined number of themes and imagery. Taught simultaneously and reviewed reviewed reviewed. I’ve just started teaching the play to Year 10 and constructed this mobile for my classroom that I’ll use for questioning and retrieval. I’m pleased with the idea of using hashtags as themes and imagery (and pondering on whether to use double hashtags for imagery…).

Hulk Grand Design: Madness

Second of this two-part recount if Hulk by Jim Rugg. It’s been my favourite comic of 2022.

Alan Wake Remastered

For the longest time I’ve wanted to play Alan Wake again. It’s a game I adored back in the days I had a 360. Hopefully, I’ll be able to spare some hours to play over next few weeks.

£2.50 bargain bookcase

Passing the RSPCA shop near where I live, I saw this bookcase selling for £2.50 (I actually paid £5). I’ve wanted a small bookcase for the corner of my classroom for ages and this is perfect.

Judge Dredd

Bought the first volume of Judge Dredd Case Files and started. I actually remember reading these stories in 2000AD when I was a kid. Powerful stuff!

New Broodcomb Books

Two new Broodcomb books arrived! Will be settling down to read Therapeutic Tales this evening.

Teacher Fast Feedback @TeacherFFB

I’ve been playing a little with the Fast Teacher Feedback wireless printer after work. First impressions are very good and I can see a lot of potential for using it.

I’d forgotten…

Spent a little time today looking at how I can tie up this blog with Pixelfed so I can post a daily photo. I think I’ve got it sorted and taken a step into the Fediverse. I also realised that I’d forgotten to use the microblog section properly. It’s ended up being random photos of covers of books I bought recently – which is much less than what I wanted to use it for when I started. I’d forgotten I can quickly compose and post a microblog from Drafts. (Which I’ve done with this micropost.)

Hellboy Artisan Edition

Arrived on Friday (which was a delight after work). Hellboy in Hell is an amazing, flawed piece that Mignola should have left as an ever-ongoing occasional series he created issues for whenever he wanted. Instead, it was cut short but – as this artisan edition shows, Mignola artwork is awesome.


Not sure why I didn’t buy Flashpoint in single issues when it came out – especially as I was all-in on the New-52 reboot. Have kept an eye out for the singles for a while and just picked these up for £10 (which is an absolute bargain when you realise the crazy prices the 5 issues sell for on ebay). And to think now that it was an amoral Dr Manhattan behind it all…

Locke & Key: The Golden Age

Very pleased to see this volume collects the wonderful Sandman crossover, Hell & Gone. Real treat to find this had arrived when I got home from work.

Captain Britain

Huge omnibus – almost as heavy as The Invisibles – arrived today in a box! I was vaguely familiar with the original Captain Britain comic as a kid as a friend bought the weekly issues to school. A little later, in the Daredevils comic (I believe), I became aware of Alan Moore and Brian Bolland. There’s a scene in one issue where Captain Britain fights a villain outside the old Forbidden Planet shop in London and I can remember standing outside imagining the battle when I first visited as a teen. I have SO much I want to read at the moment, I’m not sure when I’m going to get around to this. It’s a month’s worth of comics!

Lobter Johnson Vol. 1

The Mignolaverse’s version of The Shadow. Lobster Johnson is the only part of the Hellboy Universe that I’ve not read (and I’ve read a HUGE amount over the last 20 years). Glad to say that this omnibus is a thoroughly enjoyable pulpy romp.

Adam Warlock collecting

Holidays usually involve at least some time sorting piles of comics. For about 10 years I’ve been collecting Adam Warlock comics, a weird Marvel character who first appeared in Fantastic Four as an artificial man called Him, became transformed into a Christ-like cosmic superhero called Adam Warlock to die and be resurrected as an adversary for Thanos. I’ve (so far) collected about 150 issues: mostly older ones from 1960s to 1990s plus a few short-runs from late-1990s into 2000s. I estimate I’ve got about 120 to still get. The big gap is the Abnett & Lanning Guardians of the Galaxy-related issues which are prohibitively expensive. And, of course, Beavis and Butthead #15 which I believe is a Marvel UK comic and might not actually feature Warlock at all.

Jim Rugg’s Hulk Grand Design

This is my favourite comic of 2022. It’s a virtuoso performance of comic art retelling the Hulk’s adventures between the 1960s and early 1980s. There’s a frenetic, nightmarish energy throughout that matches the weird madness of (pure) Hulk stories. Death, resurrection and the psychological turmoil between Banner and Hulk circle around endlessly. Jim Rugg’s skills as an artist are incredibly impressive in terms of changing styles of comic art, page design, panel design. Rampagingly recommended.

Rearranging Deckchairs

Attempting to reduce the piles of books and graphic novels I’ve got laying around the house. Alan Moore seems to be growing exponentially at the moment. I also discovered Golden Age and Silver Age DC omnibuses that I couldn’t remember ever buying and who knows where the hundreds of Marvel ones ever came from. With all my bookcases filled, the stacks of longboxes upstairs and the boxes of books I’ve really reached a crisis! Crisis on Finite Bookshelves!

Bagged The School Bag

Immensely pleased with finding this hardcover copy of Heaney and Hughes’ The School Bag in our local Oxfam bookshop. £2.99 bargain. Its companion, The Rattlebag, has been a constant go-to for years!

Absolute Swamp Thing vol. 3

After a long wait caused by the pandemic, Volume 3 of Absolute Swamp Thing arrived today. It concludes Alan Moore’s famous run on the comic.

Providence issue 5, regular cover

Bought the regular cover for issue 5 of Providence. Jacen Burrows’ magnificent covers of buildings from the Mythos. Empty, eerie architecture. Characters in themselves. I’ve already got issue 5 as a dreamscape variant but much prefer these regular covers.

David Morley

My half-term treat to myself is a couple of collections by the poet David Morley. I heard Jo Clement read one of on the radio the other day and I was captivated. (I also ordered Clement’s first collection which is published later in the year.)

Slipcase of Ballard

Our neighbours also gave me some J.G. Ballard. I haven’t read Ballard for years and then only a couple of novels. I’m probably going to read this slipcase of three sixties novels next – The Wind from Nowhere, The Drowned World and The Drought and a short story collection, The Terminal Beach.

Pile of Moorcock

Kind neighbour across the road has given me a pile of old SF novels by Ballard, Bradbury and Moorcock. Some of the covers are hideous but remind me of buying cheap books when I was a child. Some of the blurb on the backs of the Moorcocks is nuts!

Priestley’s England

Among my haul from the local Oxfam bookshop was this book which puts Priestley’s writing in cultural context. I’ve grown incredibly fond of Priestley over the last few years as I’ve found out much more about his life and thinking.


I paid £15 for the complete run of Providence by Moore and Burrows. Very pleased. It’s one of my favourite comics and, I believe, one of the most significant published in the last decade. Maybe even the best thing Moore’s written. I already have Providence in various collections but not in floppies. There’s a few variants in there that I’ll replace with the regular covers.


Mignola’s and Johnson-Cadwell’s Victorian vampire romp, Falconspeare, is super enjoyable. Another volume added to the bookcase full of BPRD/Hellboy/Baltimore/Witchfider collections.

In its thrall…

Woke up feeling rough from a dream where I was told I had Covid by a talking crow. Tested this morning and… Covid now has me in its thrall!

iphone repair

My first attempt to replace an iphone battery was a success! The hardest part was reinserting the tiny screws. Opening it up without damaging the screen proved to be pretty easy. I went V E R Y S L O W L Y. The phone was an old 6S that had a dead battery. I wanted to resurrect the phone for my son to use. Next I’ll look at a battery for my old ipad…

Young Knives

Great evening in Hoxton with Young Knives.

Locke & Key: Hell & Gone

Pretty impressed by how enjoyable this two-issue story has been. Usually, crossovers between comics are little more than cash grabs. Glad to say this wasn’t the case. Rodriguez’ art continues to be stunning (there’s a continuation of his Little Nemo in Slumberland homage here) and the way that Hill fitted this story within early Sandman is immensely satisfying. (I do need to get started on my Sandman re-read!)

Space: 1999

70s nostalgia alert! Very excited to discover the first six Space: 1999 novels in the Oxfam shop. Love (Season 1) of Space: 1999!

Dark Horse Trio

Lousy and frustrating end to what had been a pretty good day. When I got home I found an unexpected package I guessed was a book. Turned out to be these three from Dark Horse. Cheered me up? Not ‘arf.

800+ pages!

Alice bought me a copy of Deirdre Bair’s biography of Jung for my birthday. It’s some thing I’ve wanted to read but I hadn’t imagined it was over 800 pages. Certainly won’t get it finished this weekend.

August 1961

Picked this pre-order from my LCS this afternoon. It’s an omnibus collection of all the comics Martin Goodman’s comic company published in August 1961, including Fantastic Four #1.

The Spell of Conan / The Blade of Conan

I’ve been after this pair of books – reprints from the old Amra fanzine of criticism, stories and poetry published in 1979-80 – for YEARS! Never been able to get either for a reasonable price. Until now.


After spending too long in the sun yesterday, it’s raining here. Coat weather!

Summer Meadow

Skyward Sword

Somehow I’ve not played Skyward Sword before. It’s really good!

UK-Krakoa relations

Love how the UK is the country that breaks off relations with Krakoa in X-men #1. It’s the sort of thing the UK would do after booing during the Hellfire Gala.

Buscema & Roussos

Been looking at some early 80s covers for Marvel’s Conan the Barbarian by John Buscema. Hit by nostalgia which more than anything is down to George Roussos’ colouring. I have vivid memories of picking up these comics at newsagents on the way to school as a boy. Just delightful and lifted me after tough – seemingly endless – day!

Subterranean Network Blues

Sometimes I just don’t learn. Over the last decade I’ve built a Heath-Robinson home network out of a couple of WD NAS drives and some portable drives. For a few years I had one NAS automatically back up to the other every Sunday night. Back in March the newer NAS’ firmware updated and, for some reason, wouldn’t allow the other drive to auto backup. I knew that I needed to buy a proper NAS with RAID. But what I wanted was crazily expensive so I put my upgrade plans on hold and simply did a couple of manual backups syncing one drive to the other using FTP. Only I didn’t do it regularly. In fact, I think I only did it once. Yesterday something happened – some sort of router upgrade – that locked me out of both router and NAS drives. When I finally got back into the main NAS drive, I found it had been wiped. Everything wiped. While not the end of the world because the other NAS has everything backed up to last April, I’ve lost everything for the last two months. Really annoying. What’s worse is that I know I need to sort it out properly. I just don’t know what to do.

World of Black Hammer vol.3

Pleased to see the Library Editions of Black Hammer come out so frequently. Got this yesterday and just unpacked it this morning. I adore Tyler Crook’s artwork so this is a lovely Saturday morning pleasure.

Literature IS the operating instructions

Reading Ursula Le Guin’s **Words Are My Matter**, which is incredibly uplifting.

At one point Le Guin insists:

“Words are what matter. The sharing of words. The activation of the imagination through the reading of words.”

Thor 164

It’s a long time since I last bought an issue for my Warlock run. Got this today, Thor #164, which has – in the last couple of panels – there ‘s a glimpse of Him. It’s not in as good condition as I thought (there’s a little cover separation). Great Kirby art!


Gorgeous early Sunday morning in the back garden. Been out here for a couple of hours since six writing and reading. Shaped the piece I’m working on and looking at how James begins for some guidance on establishing tone at the start. Excited as I can see where this piece is going. Working title is “Brittle”. Everyone else is asleep in the house and I need this early morning to be able to completely focus.

Charity Shop Haul

Picked up some great books from the charity bookshop in town. A mixture of children’s books to add to my classroom library and some teacher books (Listening to Children Reading is one I’ve been looking out to find for ages). I’ve always steered away from Ladybird books but I’m not sure early years secondary students see them as just for primary kids anymore.


Like buses, just when you’ve been waiting for a new Hellboy publication two arrive at the same time. One of the stories in Universe is by Paul Grist, an absolutely amazing creator.

Dark Matter by Michelle Paver

Finished Dark Matter quickly. It’s an Arctic ghost story. It felt slight to me: as if it’s really a short story that’s been padded out. The premise and setting are engaging, even if the characters are a little too Brideshead. The connection between the scientific concept of dark matter and the darkness of the Arctic night works well. It just didn’t need the explanation of who the ghost was. Would have been better with the ghost as a nameless, unknowable horror.


One of the joys of having a little time off work is to do some geeky-techy things that I wouldn’t ordinarily bother with. I’ve managed to get a self-hosted Wallabag working well. It’ll replace Pocket, which is coming up for subscription renewal. Wallabag is free. It’s very much like Pocket but has the bonus of exporting articles into formats like pdf and epub very easily. Down side is that I can’t get the mobile apps working. Saving and reading using the browser works very well though.

Appreciation of L.T.C. Rolf

Wonderful piece by Kai Roberts, An Appreciation of Weird Fiction of L.T.C. Rolt.

“To anybody who lives amidst relics of the Industrial Revolution, the surroundings depicted in a number of Rolt’s tales should be very recognisable indeed and little evokes a sense of desolation and existential dread quite as effectively as decaying industrial architecture.”

An Appreciation of the Weird Fiction of L.T.C. Rolt

Creatures Moving

Discovered this in Oxfam this morning. Very pleased. It’s a themed anthology of texts about animals from the early 1970s. With a stylish cover by Ivan Atanasoft, there’s a real sense that a great deal of thought went into the curation of the book’s design. Some striking interior images, including one of a working horse collapsing in a street. I’m trying to get hold of as many of books like this from the (Golden Age?) of English teaching before the introduction of the National Curriculum. Moving Creatures is part of the English Project series edited by Geoffrey Summerfield.

Holiday Reading

My professional reading for next week arrived today, Robin Alexander’s A Dialogic Teaching Companion.

After Year 11 went

I’m glad I ignored their protests at the start and didn’t have a “fun last lesson” with my Year 11 class today. Instead, we staged a role-play debate on the issue of hunting with groups taking the roles of various lobby groups and a panel of judges. As the debate went on many became quite embroiled in the argument. It was great to see many remain in role presenting viewpoints they didn’t personally agree with. I’m hoping a number of the students go on to study A-level Lit.

The Art of Hergé

Great to see these volumes of The Art of Hergé arrive this evening. Ordered them from a Scottish shop called Paper Tiger. I can never get enough Tintin.

Justice League

I’m not going to get a chance to watch this 4 hour 4k epic until the weekend. The kids will have to battle me for the TV!

Playground in a Lake

Been listening to Clark’s newest album, Playground in a Lake today. Enjoyed it a great deal. I’m sure I can hear the influences of Jóhann Jóhannsson, Max Richter, Satie, BoC and even Vangelis. It’s quite moody throughout and seems to go to some dark places and wouldn’t sound out of place as a soundtrack to a Denis Villeneuve SF film. The tracks I like best are More Islands and Shut You Down, which seem to be the most electronic on the album.

Curse of the Rougarou

So that’s how they should be laid out!


I wake up at some odd times in the night!


Just realised that I’d left the USB drive on which I keep all my lesson powerpoints and resources plugged into my macbook at home. Luckily, I’d planned for this to happen and have the usb drive sync to a folder on my macbook that then syncs to a Onedrive folder whenever I use it. Instead of the prospect of a whole day teaching without resources, I could simply download the backups. Feeling very pleased with myself.

House of Secrets 92

published 50 years ago and was on the newsstands in April 1971. Means that Swamp Thing is half a century old. Happy birthday, Alec.

Today’s Fall… Totale’s Turns (It’s Now or Never)

1980. Live album. The sleeve tantalises “in Doncaster! Bradford! Preston! Prestwich! 79 Oct-Feb 80”.


This morning: Dragnet. 1979. “like being nutted by reality” according to Allan Jones in Melody Maker when it was released. It’s actually fantastic!

The Fall Weekend

Hereby it is a weekend of listening to The Fall. Commencing with Live at the Witch Trials. 1979.

Farewell, Super League

Up super-early for no other reason that having labyrinthine dreams and a headache… so listened to latest New Statesman podcast where Stephen Bush and Ailbhe Rea discussed the role football plays in public discourse. I tend to avoid thinking about football but, as the podcast points out it plays a major role in culture, identity and masculinity. Rea particularly makes some interesting comments about how football creates normative behaviours that exclude certainly women but also those of us who aren’t interested. She gives the anecdote of a political reporter taking up running as a sport so she had a mechanism for talking with MPs. Bush presents football “talk” as a working class equivalent of the old-boys network. Football gives men genuine pleasure – my brother for instance, who loves the sport more than I ever realised when we were younger.

The Patriarchs

Daily Mail comments section gives feedback to Simon Armitage’s elegy to Prince Phillip this morning. In the comments section the most recent from Tiggybeans exclaims: “A lovely tribute, full of meaning.” Winning2020 instead thinks that “The poem is as cold as the weather outside.” Most of the others – as expected – proclaim their dislike of poetry.

Think Tanks Ate My Brain!

Just looking at another educational think tank’s web site. What I can’t see is how the organisation gets funded. Doing even a cursory web search on some of the think tank’s members seems to indicate their members are more partisan than it claims. Lobbying for personal gain is one thing but there are a LOT of educational think tanks lobbying and influencing policymakers in Westminster. As far as I can see they all have more or less the same sorts of agendas. Wouldn’t be surprised if these educational think tanks work from 55 Tufton Street.


And… randomly Autechre’s _Bike_ just started playing. Suddenly uplifted!

Black Helicopters

I’m finding Kiernan’s *Black Helicopters* a pretty challenging read. Have read it through once and now listening to audiobook plus reading along. It’s mesmerising and wonderful. But tough going!

Drafts to Blog

Hooray! After a bit of tinkering with Drafts actions, I managed to get it set up to directly post my microblog posts feed. I tried to do this a few years ago and gave up in frustration. It just makes quick microposts so much easier.

Utter Failure!

Utter failure in what I thought was going to be a quick solo game of The Midnight Masks! Didn’t even manage to capture a single cultist!

Howard’s Conan

Still working my way through the Conan stories and it’s (sadly) clear that the better Conan stories so far are indeed the ones by Robert E. Howard. I’ve always been wary of the dismissal of de Camp’s and Carter’s stories as merely pastiche, but it does seem that there’s something qualitatively different about a Howard story. (It could be that Howard often breaks his stories up into different narrative perspectives, rather than following Conan exclusively. A little like early Hollywood movies.)

Night of the Zealot, Solo

Dug out Arkham Horror LCG and considering playing it properly over Easter hols. Played the first scenario, The Gathering, from Night of the Zealot true solo. Just one investigtor. It was HARD and took ages. Took damage. But survived!


My car broke down in the car park at work and I waited 5 hours for the RAC to arrive. In that time I finished a whole Conan book and nearly half of Children of Blood and Bone. Five hours though!


Went to bed last night early after the dull headache I’d been sporting turned into a sickening migraine when I got home. It’s rare I get headaches like these and know the best thing is to sleep it off. It meant that I woke up early and have been up since before dawn listening to music (another thing I’ve learned is not to read after a day of headaches). Listening to Autechre’s second album, Amber, which is now – blimey! – nearly 30 years old. It’s beautiful.

Greed and Public Health

Worth monitoring how this very public linking of capitalism and public health develops. By promoting greed as a mechanism for better health it’s inevitable that the drooling vampires will be stalking the NHS more aggressively.

RAT Test

Noticed that the new COVID-19 self testing kit is now labelled with Rapid Antigen Test on the box… RAT test!

Stargate One

Found an advert for Stargate One in an old magazine. For a time when I was 12 or 13 I visited Stargate One almost every day. Have very fond memories of the bookshop. It was incredibly formative in shaping my reading at the time.


Not sure why I’ve not ever thought of doing this before: installing RPiPlay on the Pi and using it as a surrogate airplay screen. Works brilliantly.

It gets me thinking that this is a very cheap way of getting airplay to work in a classroom which I’d find super useful. That’s if we ever get to going back to having our own classrooms any more in schools!

Final Head Lopper

Head Lopper issue 7 arrived today from the Netherlands and completes the run (so far…). I’ve been after this issue for ages. Such a good comic!

Doctor Star

Doctor Star arrived today. It’s a four-issue Black Hammer limited series that – for some inexplicable reason – I didn’t buy when it was released a few years ago. For some reason (most likely copyright) the comic is now called Doctor Andromeda.

More Aickman-edited Fontanas

Picked up the two remaining Robert Aickman-edited Fontana Great Ghost Stories collections. Several stories that I’ve not read.

Qualification Certificate

Love that this fell out the Covid-19 Self-Test Kit I just opened!

Scam or Not Scam

As soon as I ordered this USB drive, I regretted it. In a mad moment I saw what looked like a reasonable advert for a cheap 2tb drive. Then read the immense number of warnings about fake ones! It arrived today and, when plugged into my mac, says it’s 2tb in size. Apparently the drives can be set up to show a false size though. Just trying to fill it up with big files to see what its real capacity seems to be. It’s very slow transferring files. It does come with a return card though.

Started David Didau’s Making Meaning in English

Sunny outside. Will sit in the garden and read this for a bit.

Cognitive Apprenticeship in Action

Been reading the new In Action publication this afternoon, essays by teachers at Huntington School presenting Cognitive Apprenticeship approaches, essentially teaching methods that make the learning process explicit or visible.

Johnson’s Kulturkampf

Peter Jukes and Hardeep Matharu’s How Myths of Britishness Are Turning Totalitarian shows how culture is currently weaponised in the UK to enable a right-wing government that engenders a condition of disillusionment and delusion leading to the sort if paranoia seen in the US. Jukes and Matharu view this as calculated.

The War on Woke won’t improve Britain’s pandemic response or ameliorate its recession, heal its social divisions or growing poverty, nor solve its rupture from its major trading partners in Europe. It will just make things worse. But, as the delusions of exceptionalism fail (which they are bound to because they are delusions), the explanation of betrayal, the ‘stab in the back’ and the foreign enemy, mounts.

from The Byline Times.

Life and Legacy of Stan Lee

Intelligent article about life and legacy of Marvel editor, Stan Lee by Prof Stephanie Burt in The New Yorker.

If Lee’s life deteriorated into fraud and feud, his legacy has come to seem only more enduring. The cast of characters that Lee and a clique of almost entirely white guys created has gained cultural and commercial superpower, animating stories and authors and fans in ways that they could never have foreseen.

Who Really Created the Marvel Universe? in The New Yorker

Galactica & Conan

Both of these arrived by post today (I’m having a bit of a Battlestar Galactica and Conan the Barbarian revival). As a child, I remember owning both these books. Proudly, I showed my primary school teacher, Mr Lee, the Galactica book to his bemusement. Conan of Aquilonia was the first Conan book I ever read. I bought it from a spinner rack in a SF bookshop in Rochester called Stargate One. I loved that bookshop.

Godzilla vs Kong

Literally the most exciting trailer I have seen in a decade. Literally.

There really aren’t better movies than giant monsters punching each other!

The Fascist Painting

Very pleased Phil Beadle’s The Fascist Painting was delivered today. It jumps to the front of my “to read” queue.

OOFSTED “overwhelmed” by praise for teachers

Good to see this positive story about schools. Following, Wiliamson’s obnoxious call for parents to report schools, OOFsted (ha! infantile Roblox misspelling) has been “overwhelmed” by messages, mostly praising teachers.

“Ofsted’s call centre team are sorting through emails to identify genuine complaints or concerns, but the vast majority are believed to be from parents praising their child’s school during lockdown in defiance of Williamson’s advice.”


Lockdown Lights

Our Christmas lights are staying up until Candlemas. Our neighbours have already taken their lights down but it’s a pretty grim time all round and a little bit of light is still needed.

Climbing Books

Jan’s turned the piles of books I’m taking upstairs into a DIY assault course!

Teaching Shakespeare by Rex Gibson

Back in August I hunted the house searching for this. Spent hours going through piles of books and boxes in the attic. Now I’ve found it along with a heap of other books hidden behind other books in a bookcase downstairs. Teaching Shakespeare is about the best book on… well… teaching Shakespeare that there is. (I also found Visible Learning by John Hattie that I seem to have only got half way through and Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman which I must re-read and convince my department to teach next year if it’s still on the syllabus.)

What’s this? A new album by Wire?

Released a day ago, City, is the second… maybe third album by Wire in the last year or so. It seems like an album of electronic music. There goes my evening…

More Joycon Surgery

Replaced the right joystick but somehow managed to damage the cable to the connector light on the side of the joycon. It all works fine and has sorted the controller drift.

Reading, That Strange and Uniquely Human Thing

In Reading, That Strange and Uniquely Human Thing, Lydia Wilson, a researcher at the University of Cambridge’s Computer Laboratory, presents investigations into the origins of writing and proceeds to point out that we use a mixture of phonetic, pictographic and classifier elements to read. She goes on:

” If non-dyslexic readers of phonetic scripts, which are usually taught initially through sound-based learning, were also encouraged to learn the word shapes from the start; if those learning pictographic characters chanted them out loud as well as copying them out to memorize them; who knows what new creativity would be unleashed?

Joycon Surgery

Sometimes there’s no other choice but to use a screwdriver and sort out joycon issues! Poor connection fixed.

Blow the Bloody Doors Off

Reading the papers’ reporting on the Brexit negotiations today – eapecially The Guardian’s – I half-expected someone to report that Michael Caine was involved in the negotiations and drove off in a Union Jack-decorated mini, fingers up in a V. Chipper Brit underdogs outmanoeuvred grim Euro goliaths seems to be the narrative. If it wasn’t a deadly pandemic and Christmas, doubtlessly we’d be instructed to hold street parties.

The Mandalorian

Finale of Season Two was so unexpected. I was genuinely excited when I realised who had arrived at the end.


I was just about to order a book from the US. The shipping is £10 more that the cost of the book. Madness. What’s annoying is that the site doesn’t reveal shipping until you click through payment method so that it would be easy to buy the book before realising what had happened. It’s a book I’d love to get… but not that much.

Richard Corben

Just read that Richard Corben, a visionary illustrator and comic book artist, has died aged 80. His recent work on Hellboy was incredibly impressive.

Richard Corben, RIP

“there is a psychic war being stoked”

Emotional – and quite frightening – piece by Hardeep Matharu on the threat of fascism and a need to innoculate ourselves agaist a virus of hatred:

In a digitised information age, there is a psychic war being stoked, and raging, within ourselves; a ‘soft’ fascism being nudged into our hearts and minds – at the hands of social media companies, corporations and rogue actors intent on weaponising people’s worst instincts – and their most human of vulnerabilities – for personal and partisan gain.

The Powerful Lure of the Soft Fascism Within

broken down!

Awaiting rescue. One of those times when there are so many things you realise you should on have done… for instance kept the breakdown number somewhere in the car!

Update: The RAC were brilliant. Turned out to be a flat battery caused by putting hazard lights on when I pulled over. Lots of lessons learned tonight.

Mystery of the Gatwick Drone

Seems that there never was a drone. Great article by Samira Shackle.

The Mystery of the Gatwick Drone | The Guardian

ahsoka tano

Even grumpy old me was delighted with Ahsoka Tano’s appearance in the latest episode of The Mandalorian. Not so much Baby Yoda’s real name. But the prospect of Thrawn…

…wait… everything’s back!

Not sure how this has happened but evening seems to be still there on my macbook. I thought it had wiped everything but it seems to have only installed updates. Phew! I must sort out how backing up better.

agghhh!!! managed to wipe macbook hard drive

This was inevitable and I am cross with myself. Why did I leave the OS installer as a bootable option? Why do I keep so many files I’m using in a folder I deliberately don’t sync? Why did I decide to update OSX and not keep an eye on what it was doing? Agghhh!!! Maybe its my unconscious conspiring to encourage me to get a new macbook.

part human, part machine

Interesting piece by Alex Hern warning of the possible dangers of ubiquitous wearing of “mirrorshade” AR glasses. It seems that Apple and other companies are very close to releasing ones that could be adopted by millions of people. Hern sees it as the continued trend of turninh humans into man-machine cyborgs:

“What will human interaction look like eight years after smartglasses become ubiquitous? Our cyborg present sneaked up on us as our phones became glued to our hands. Are we going to sleepwalk into our cyborg future in the same way? “


the persistent trick of modern politics

“The persistent trick of modern politics – that appears to fool us repeatedly – is to disguise economic and political interests as cultural movements.”

Another SUPERB article by George Monbiot.

added video

Made a quick read-through video for Micronauts #1.

sunday afternoon

Finished working through all my Micronauts issues (checking condition and rebagging) which has been a delight. Really interesting to look at sequencing covers and trying to identify the artists. The title suffered from shockingly erratic quality of covers which probably didn’t help sales.

defeat by an 8-year old


Thought Soren might like to learn to play Magic. Impressively, the starter kit costs £6 and holds your hand through the first game. I’m hoping it might lure him towards more Fantasy and going to tie it in with an “upgrade” in the type of fiction he reads.

ghost story

I’ve been working from home this week and been on my own during the day. Sometimes I’ve heard small footsteps running across one of the upstairs rooms. Like a child running. I’ve dismissed it as my imagination. Now, there’s a slow, non-stop muffled sound of something hitting a wall repeatedly from somewhere in the darkness of the house. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud.

more micronauts

The original Marvel Micronauts run was 59 issues followed by 20. Have been rebagging ones I’ve just bought. Only missing one issue: the final #58. One issue has a mark on the cover which is obvious and spoils it so I’m going to look for a replacement.

bem fanzine archive

Wow. I was hunting down an issue of BEM online (#24 if you’re interested) when I stumbled on what appears to be the entire digital run of the classic British fanzine from the late-70s/early-80s. The Classic Comics Zines site is pretty amazing. An incredible archive of an incredible pre-internet period.

retrieval concept mapping

‘There does not seem to be a particular benefit to practicing retrieval mapping over a standard free recall learning activity. “

Learning Scientists blog


The third season of the BBC’s The Lovecraft Investigations seems to have aired. Strange, as I was only wondering what had happened to the programme a couple of days ago. It’s an enjoyable – but definitely British – interpretation of Lovecraft’s stories.

more micronauts

Informative short video from Overlord Comics about Mantlo and Golden’s early issues of The Micronauts. A number of things I didn’t know and an interview in BEM to track down.

How far does a pig wander?

Just turned on the radio in our kitchen and there’s a programme about how far pigs roam in the New Forest.

micronauts #56 and #57

I’m closing in on completing the entire run of Marvel’s Micronauts from the 1980s. Fabulous cover on #57 by Jackson Guice.

Young Knives

I’m still listening to Barbarians, the new Young Knives album. It’s been over a month now and I’m still so impressed. The title track and Sheep Tick tie as fabourites for me.

xbox x or ps5?

I’m hoping this isn’t the modern incarnation of VHS or Betamax. I’m favouring Xbox X but notoriously wrong in things like this.

there’s something…

incredibly soothing about bagging comic books. It’s Wednesday and this evening’s been devoted to picking up my pulls from my LCS and then re-bagging the Marvel run of Micronauts I’m just about to complete.


I like the idea of microblogging – essentially tweeting away from Twitter – but increasingly dislike and distrust social media. I much preferred the early, old days of blogging. So, after a little thought, I believe I’ve got a neat way of microblogging her to my web site.