Sunday, 30 August 2009

Me 'n Andy

This is me standing on the shoulders of Andy Proffitt, who's now a social worker in Plymouth. Or Torquay. He's a top bloke. Even if he is on the bottom. The photo is dated as 1994. 15 years ago. I was 26 years old.

It's taken in a field in Neston, South Wirral.

Sunday, 23 August 2009


When I was a kid, if I didn't know the name of something, I would give it a name of my own devising.

How many 5 or 6 year olds know that the pointy bits on a fork are called tines, for example? I didn't. So I called them "yay-yays". Probably onomatopoeic in origin. The word's repetition relates to the shape of the object.

How many people of any age would have a word for these things though?


This is one near Thingwall, in central Wirral.

And this one stands proud just outside Bebington Station, also in Wirral.

I think they are old ventilation chimneys for the sewers or drains. They're generally ornamented more than a purely utilitarian approach would allow, with their fluted columns and splayed tops. You don't see that many of them around, but there are a few knocking about.

Anyway, since there doesn't seem to be a definitive noun attached to these things, I propose that they be called Givvies. I've been calling them that for 35 years now, and so do most of the rest of my immediate family.

If anyone reads this and knows the locations of other Givvies (singular: Givvy) feel free to let me know.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

So what's with all the aeroplane stuff then?

I hate flying!

Last time I flew was about 5 and a half years ago, when I flew back from my honeymoon in Amsterdam. As we travelled 30,000 feet above Eastern England, I was conscious all the time of the yawning gulf of thin air just a couple of feet beneath my feet.

But you know how children develop an obsessive, almost autistic focus on things, whether it be football or dinosaurs or whatever? Well I was into aeroplanes. I'd build airfix models. Buy the observer's book every year. Look up to the sky whenever I heard the whine of a turboprop. (usually a Vickers Viscount on it's final approach into Liverpool) That kind of stuff. My drawings were full of them. I even sent a design off to British Aerospace when I was about 12 or 13. They gave me a guided tour of their Broughton factory and told me I could have a job with them if I got the right qualifications. And I got to see Concorde land at Liverpool Airport from one of their satellite control centres, courtesy of a friend's older brother who was an air traffic controller.

Ian, if you happen to read this, thank you! I've never forgotten this.

Anyway, ecologically speaking, I think that flying is bad news. I will never fly again as a matter of principle. Least I can do given that I have one of the worst jobs you could get in terms of saving the planet.

Still, I still find the whole thing awe inspiring, and doing this stuff on GE comes easily. I can take a close look at airports, fly from one to another, develop my skills and understanding, and since I'm using my computer anyway, this is at a zero carbon cost.

What not to like?

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Being really boring...

Here it is! In glorious technicolor!

A short haul flight from Manchester to Liverpool, complete with near perfect landing.

Takes about 10 minutes...

Good to see that works. I've also uploaded it onto youtube. I wonder if I can link/embed from there?

Marvellous! And it also gives the option of full screen!

Maybe this time...

Well, I've spent days trying to create and upload video of the flight sim.

I got a program called Fraps which captured it simply enough, but then nothing could make it appear on blogger. Or google video. Or youtube.

So it's the format (probably)

After farting around trying all sorts of things that I couldn't really understand, I've managed to use windows movie maker to convert it from a .avi to a .wmv.

Here goes then. A very brief clip of zooming around somewhere over central England...

Well, looks like this one's worked! Now I can be REALLY boring!

Saturday, 15 August 2009

The Red Arrows!

Look! There they go!

Britain's premier military formation aerobatics display team.

In a perfectly straight line, wingtips only inches apart, they zoom, just inches from the ground, at a combined speed of nearly 1 mile per hour.

And they deserve no less a setting than Blackpool International Airport. There's an old avro vulcan around there somewhere too.

I just flew from Blackpool International Airport to Liverpool John Lennon Airport. Came in along the Mersey, landed on the runway, skidded and bounced, before using the wheel brakes to put myself back on the runway. Silver medal but the passengers weren't happy.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Ghost riders in the sky

Once leader of Yugoslavia, General Josip Broz Tito died in 1980.

He had a retreat on the archipelago of Brijuni, on the Adriatic coast.

And that's where you can find this strange plane, and negative shadow, complete with negative contrails, which stretch back Westwards over the Adriatic.

So is Tito really dead? I think we have the makings of a conspiracy theory here. The plane is flown by a lizard, and is on route from Roswell to Narnia. The passenger list includes David Koresh, David Icke and Lee Harvey Oswald. Not that you'll find anyone that will admit this.