Not taking enough books on holiday

What was I thinking by taking just the one book on holiday! I should have realised that John Grisham’s The Racketeer was never going to last five days and two flights. And what a disappointing holiday read it was. A crazy plot, no pace, and not much in the way of characterisation to excite.

So with two days and a flight remaining, with one of those days forecast to be wall to wall thunderstorms(!), I desperately needed to find a bookshop that sold English language novels. Thanks to Google I located Bertrand, ‘The Oldest Bookshop In The World’, here in Lisbon, where it was claimed they have a small English Language section. Yes it was small and I really struggled to find anything, reluctantly settling on an early Jo Nesbo, Cockroaches. I may have already read it, though it’s not mentioned in the list of books I’ve read. But since I can barely remember the stories of books I have read, hopefully there’s something to enjoy for the next couple of days.

View of Sintra from Quinta da Regaleira

Machines – an astonishing documentary

This astonishing documentary about life in an Indian textile factory is available once again on the BBC iPlayer, but only until Tuesday (now expired): https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b09g8cc9/machines
At the very least, these workers deserve 65 minutes of your time.

Capture“A mesmerising and unflinching look behind the doors of a textile factory in India, as director Rahul Jain observes the life of the workers and the oppressive environment they seldom escape from. Machines tells a story of the human cost of mass production in a globalised world, showing the gulf between rich and poor from both perspectives.”

Did he say giveaslays?

The guy on the right brought the centre of Birmingham to a halt. After watching this video I find this a total mystery, but I guess I’m not his target audience! I found subtitles helpful.

Ricky Jay

The American actor and magician, Ricky Jay, has died.


In one of my favourite films, Things Change, Ricky Jay has a small part with some memorable David Mamet lines. The film opens as follows:

Shoe-shop owner: “May I help you?”
Silver (Ricky Jay): “A friend of ours would like to speak to you this evening.”
Shoe-shop owner: “I just shine shoes.”
Silver (Ricky Jay): “There’ll be shoes there.”
Continue reading “Ricky Jay”

Sunday things

Earlier in the week I made one of my regular trips to Southampton. I’ve got into the habit of travelling by train – surely the most civilised form of transport. Apart from those rare times that I get involved in a conversation with a fellow passenger, I probably get 3 to 4 hours of quality reading over the two journeys. On this trip I was finishing off Graham Swift’s novel, Tomorrow, which I enjoyed, before moving on to Patrick Flanery’s novel, I Am No One.
Today, Sunday, has been drab, so as well as more reading, I tinkered with CSS on my blog to see if I could put some text between the homepage banner and the post thumbnails – yes I can!

Continue reading “Sunday things”

At 11 years our car is old, but these are over 100!

Between a walk to the village shops and the little ones coming for a visit, I was able to capture a few images of the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run as it passed by. It’s the longest-running motoring event in the world, the first run being in 1896. To qualify, the cars must have been built before 1905 and this year there were more than 400.

But not every one of these old vehicles makes it to Brighton!

And it was the wrong item!

I needed a replacement camera battery. It’s £5 on the high street but just £2.16 online (with free delivery). It’s the size of a 1p coin and I was expecting it to come in a jiffy bag, delivered by the postman, through the letterbox. Instead, it came by courier van in a big box. I can’t see how this can be profitable for the supplier…

And I ordered the wrong battery, so I have re-ordered the right one, in another big box!

Saturday’s interactions

  1. I accepted a religious pamphlet from a street missionary and put it in the first available bin. Maybe I should have returned it to the missionary further down the street who tried to give me another one.
  2. The ATM outside a bank shortchanged me by £20. I only spotted this because the machine was taking ages to print the receipt  and was also still attempting to eject one of the notes . This wouldn’t have happened if I had been prepared to queue at the machines inside the bank. (Queue? See later!)
  3. The man in the small newsagents refused my i newspaper subscription voucher – it takes too long to get payment back, he said.
  4. On only my second visit to Wilco I abandoned my budget notebook on seeing the 10-deep checkout queues. There should be a bin near the checkouts so that customers unprepared to wait in the queue can abandon their goods rather than leaving them on a random shelf, as I did.
  5. At home, my bank’s Internet banking site has an option to report problems with ATM transactions, which was helpful and suggests it’s a fairly common event.
  6. A very fine evening interacting with old friends on our first visit to the excellent Mute Swan pub in Hampton Court. Good food, lots of space between tables, and for a Saturday night not too noisy. I shouldn’t have finished with a strong, black coffee, but that’s another story.

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