Sunday, 27 May 2007

Wisdom 2

My Fortune Cookie told me:
Individuals who make their abode in vitreous edifices would be well advised to refrain from catapulting projectiles.
Get a cookie from Miss Fortune


Going to Paris tomorrow. Can't wait.


Last night a group of us went to see Pirates of the Caribbean 3: The World's End and although all of the ingredients were there to make a enjoyable film it merely rated a low okay on the Mortimer Scale of Cinematography. There were sailing ships, sword fights, large storms, pretty girls, swashbuckling men and a complex script so it should have been good.

It fell done on the following points;
1. The script is complex but not in a good way. Rather than be intriguing and making you think, it was incomprehensible with too many twists and turns occurring too quickly and not allowing you to take in the full impact of the plot changes.
2. At three hours long there is only so many chases, fights, speech, chase, fight speech you can have before it gets repetitive. By chopping out some of the unnecessary plot turns mentioned above the could reduce the films length
3. I don't mind unrealistic things happening in films and am perfectly happy watching two ships fight on the edge of a huge whirlpool (impossible to accurately fire a cannon) but ships with holes in the sails should not go faster than ships without and triple barrelled cannons wouldn't work due to the recoil and slow reloading speed. Small, unnecessary details make me think that they are trying too hard and it offends my sensibilities.
4. At no point did someone just kill one of the main characters regardless of how much they hated them, or had been double or triple crossed in the past. The James Bond films used to be like this until Casino Royale, don't talk to him just kill him.
5. People making crap decisions, especially when the three deck warship takes on two single deck warships. When the captain goes mad then 2nd in command abandons the ship instead of opening fire when a three deck volley of cannons would have destroyed both opponents
6. All the dry humour of the original was gone and instead it was just action sequences which ran into each other and not standing out.

Overall a mess worth avoiding.


On Thursday Sarah experienced the particularly English custom of a Testimony service. It may well be a Methodist idea as I have not heard of it in in the Church of England. The idea is that ordinands who are shortly to be ordained tell a group of people including family and friends about their reasons for entering the ministry. The service was to honour two people Derek and Sarah and while you and I know that Sarah is not being ordained yet it was seen as a "Thank you for all the hard work" idea.

The idea is that each person get seven minutes to speak during the service. Derek went first and was an amusing speaker. He highlighted key people and events in his life that had led to this key decision. Sarah was next and while her testimony was less amusing it focused much more clearly on what Methodism meant to her and why she wanted to be a minister, not just a Christian in general. I felt that she was nervous but she received a round of applause at the end.

We then had a sermon from the President Elect of the Methodist Conference who suggested the following three points
1. God has a plan but we might not know it
2. There may be more than 1 plan for each person
3. The specific plan may not be clear but everyone should be aware of the general direction of travel.

I was thought it was a good sermon with a fair sprinkling of humour although the major criticism was that it was an example of eisegesis with the verse in the Bible chosen to back up the point that the speaker wishes to make
and lets face it if you know any religious text well enough you can mould a verse to your own meaning.

Overall it was a positive experience but I have to remember that a lot of the tunes to the hymns are unfamiliar and this reduces the fun in the singing. This should not take away from the singing power of the Methodists which is greater than the Chuirch of England. The spirit of Charles Wesley lives on!!

Monday, 21 May 2007

Brief Lives

One of the best radio programmes is on at 6am on a Sunday morning so I rarely listen live but the power of downloads mean you can listen when you want. It is an obituary programme and hearing the achievements of some individuals make me impressed and saddened at the same time. The presenter has a deep, clear and rich voice and effortlessly moves from nuclear physicist to ballet dancer with a seemingly equal knowledge. It just reminds me to enjoy everyday.

Cutty Sark

Just saw the news and was very sad about this

I was lucky enough to see it last summer and here is a picture I took

Panorama and Scientology

Panorama did a report on Scientology, a religious organisation or someone would say cult that is increasing in popularity. The documentary was made famous as the reporter lost his cool with a spokesman who kept appearing when he was trying to interview critics. This can be seen at

I don't know enough about the rights and wrongs but there were a number of worrying aspects

1. People are encouraged to "disconnect" from family members who are not in the organisation.

2. Reporters and critics of the organisation appear to be followed relentlessly and there background exposed or even invented. It begs the question, "What are so you worried about". If there is nothing to hide then critics won't have anything to find. The BBC journalist was consistently confronted despite not telling the spokesman where and when he was going.

3. Any time the word is cult is used they get angry. Very angry. Given that the definition of a cult is a group of followers of an exclusive system of religious beliefs and practices (WordNet) it seems an extreme reaction even though there is a negative connotation to the word. If the spokesman had said, Some people think we are a cult but you could have said that about Christianity in 0AD" it would have been OK but one feels that the lady doth protest too much, methinks (yes that is the original quote)

4. To be a true believer will cost you $100 000

5. Adverts in the UK were rejected as there was no proof for the claims they made

It seems that vulnerable people could be taken for a ride and until the Scientologists answer some of the points above I side with the BBC


Sarah and I went to Cambridge on Saturday. While we were there we went punting and had an lovely trip down the river while a guide informed us about the history of the bridges and colleges. There were a number of amateur punters out which made it tough for the pro propelling our punt and a few collisions occurred. It was also quite amusing when the wind kept blowing the punt of course. The weather was lovely especially in the sun as Sarah and I drifted down the river I should have been fully relaxed but I wasn't.

Te reason was that Mum nad Nick were sat opposite. In movies the meeting of parents and girlfriend is a tortuous experience. I knew that the day would go smoothly, as both Sarah and Mum have jobs which mean they routinely meet and greet people and engaging in small talk, but was still concerned that they would actually get on rather than acting professionally. Overall I think it went well and both parties reporting positively

When we returned to Norwich Sarah and I went to a Pizza and Puzzles evening which we won. A good day indeed.


Firstly all of the Yr13 and Yr 11 students I teach will leave school this week and forge a course into the world. Some will return to 6th form but some will leave and I may never see them again and despite the irritation, frustration, hassle and lack of drive they display after two years you will really get to know them and after a while the different years fade together until one wet Wednesday outside the library a cheery voice says "Hello Sir, do you remember me?" and you have to say "Billy?" and in that spirit it is goodbye and good luck to Sophie M, Emily B, James BF, Batchy, Joe H, Marcus P, Heidi G, Harry C, Reece B, Jenny C, Georgina C, Lizzie D, James D, Lewis F, Jason G, Laura H, Rosie L, Chris M, Lucy M, Richard M, Matt N, Leah P, Josh P, Laura R, Tony S, Kim S, Eliot S, James S, Natasha W, Greg W, Weggy, Matt A, Jamie B, David C, Greg C, Sean D, Jack G, Adam H, Vikki K, Kim L, Claire L, Harry L, Lawrence M, Ben M, Chris P, Reece P, Lewis S, Dan S, Sam S and Olivia W and thanks for the memories.

It is also the time when I lose the Yr11's from my form. The Yr 11 students who are leaving were the first students I had to look after when they arrived in their brand new uniforms looking terrified on the first day of term. What they don't know is I was pretty terrified as well. 5 years later they have grown up and have thrived under my tutoring with them all avoiding getting into serious trouble while passing a good number of exams. So goodbye and good luck to Rob M, Chris P, Chris M, Greg W and Piotr.

To all the people I say Never play leapfrog with a uniform. Wise words indeed!

Sunday, 13 May 2007


Well the deadline for GCSE coursework has passed and it has all been marked and posted. Some students leave at the end of this week, some at the end of next reducing my workload considerably.

Last night I introduced Sarah to the concept of the Eurovision Song Contest. There are three distinct types of act, Europop, national folk music or weird.
You have to remember not to take the whole thing too seriously. Of all the acts my favourite was Lithuania (Love or Leave by 4Fun) while Sarah preferred the Latvian entry (Bonapart IV by Questa Notte). There were some very strange sights including a man dressed as a women in silver bodysuit with a large star on his head, a man wearing pink running circuits around the stage while singing, a song that each verse was sung in a different language to try and get votes from all the countries and, who can forget, a group pretending to be flight attendants.
The commentary is also well worth listening to as Terry Wogan gets more and more critical and comical about the acts as time goes by. His descriptions of the French entry were hilarious. Just when you think that the evening can't get anymore hilarious the voting starts. All of the old friendships and rivals are displayed for the world to see. So The Former Yugoslav Republic (FYR) of Serbia got max mum points from FYR of Bosnia, FYR Macedonia, FYR Slovenia, FYR Montenegro and FYR Croatia as well as countries nearby such as Hungary, Austria and Switzerland. There is also a Scandinavia voting block (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland), the Baltic voting block (Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia), the Russian voting block (Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Armenia, Georgia). There are also some old hatreds, Greece never votes for bitter rivals Turkey etc. The whole geopolitics or the area are exposed by a singing contest!

The UK and Ireland not being in any particular voting block did badly with the UK coming 23rd and Ireland 24th. Sadly as UK are one of the big 4 TV markets they automatically qualify and do not need to go through the semi finals. The rest of Western Europe did badly as well. Finland came 17th, Sweden came 18th, Germany came 19th, Spain came 20th and France came 22nd. This also does not take into account that Iceland, Denmark, Switzerland, Holland, Portugal, Norway, Andorra, Belgium and Austria were eliminated at the semi-finals. The best way to look at it is to thank Malta for their 12 points without which we would have done worse.

So to win next year we need to find a female singer who was migrated from Serbia to the UK as next years entry. Half the song needs to be in Serbian and the other half English. This means that all of the old Yugoslav block of votes will give us some votes and we will finish mid-table. About the best we can every hope for. We could also follow the Italian example when a few years back Italy came in a terrible position with a song and performance by one of their most treasured singer-songwriters, Enrico Ruggeri so they took their ball and well home, refusing to play with Eurovision any more. They accused their fellow broadcasters of catering to the masses' lack of musical sophistication and of politicized voting.

It could be argues that countries that are close by have the same musical tastes and culture and thus score their neighbours highly but the variety of acts preformed by countries means that this argument does not really hold true.

Saturday, 5 May 2007

This week

This week will be a good because

Mum and Nick came to visit
Mum and Nick came to visit and brought Police Squad (the TV show that was a prequel to the Naked Gun films)
The rose bush in my garden has been flowering madly
It is a bank holiday and Monday is my busiest day of the week
Hustle is back on TV
The cricket is nearly back (because it has been gone a long time)
The coursework marking is just about done
There is a korfball tournament on Sunday
Genius on Radio 4 is starting a new series soon

It will be a bad week because
The weather is going to be wet (although we do need the rain)
Sarah is away till Thursday
The football and rugby seasons have nearly ended for this year
Coursework moderation is a lot like pulling teeth

Have a good week