Wednesday 13th June 2012

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So we reach the half way point of this project for 2012 and probably the nicest Ides so far.  The weather recently has been awful, very unseasonable in our little corner of the world, and not in a nice way.  Again, this Ides finds me at work and for once I was forced to wear my sunglasses for the drive in.  Only the day before I had driven in with full headlines, window wipers and demister on.  The beauty of an English Summer.  At least my village wasn’t flooded and I did not have to employ a canoe to travel down the high street.  A busy day at work when really we should be a little quiet but 17 years of experience at this company has taught me that it is never quiet.

So what happened in the world at large?

Our coalition government is split over whether there should be an inquiry over the conduct of Jeremy Hunt.  Nick Clegg (The leader of the Liberal Party) has told his MPs to abstain in the Labour lead Parliament vote on whether there should be an inquiry by the ministerial standards watchdog into the Culture Secretary’s handling of News Corp’s proposed takeover of BSkyB. Labour’s call was rejected by 290 votes to 252 despite Jeremy Hunt admitting that he may have ‘inadvertedly misled‘ the Commons, however this apparently is not the same as lying to the Commons.  In related news Rebekah Brooks was remanded on bail on charges of conspiracy to pervert the course of Justice as part of the inquiry into the News of the World phone hacking case.

After three months of heavy rain the majority of water companies that supply water to the South East of England have announced that they will lift the hosepipe ban.

In the latest of her Jubilee celebration trips around England the Queen visited the East Midlands accompanied by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.  The Duke of Edinburgh was supposed to be accompanying his wife on this trip but he is still recovering from the Bladder infection that he succumbed to the night of the Jubilee River Pageant.

And finally  Danny Boyle’s vision for 2012 London Olympics was revealed. The opening ceremony will start with an anarchic pastoral vision of Britain’s green and pleasant land, featuring real animals, fake rain, a mosh-pit in tribute to the Glastonbury Festival and a ‘posh-pit’ summoning the spirit of the Last Night of the Proms but rumours that the Olympic flame will be lit by a flaming sheep launched from a trebuchet are sadly made up by me.


Tuesday 15th May 2012

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For the second time this year, the Ides of the month do not fall on the 13th of that month, rather the 15th, so we avoid talking about the most exciting finish to an English Premier League season in the history of the English Premier League.  Nevertheless both the 13th and 15th would yield the same result from a personal point of view, I was at work.

Tuesday 15th May 2012 starting with the six o’clock alarm, as it usual does on work days.  A glance out of the window confirmed that we were still in drought conditions, leaden skies and heavy rain.  Since the South East of England was declared in an drought at the beginning of April we have had but 3 dry days.  Rain gods are nowt but ironic!

So what was happening in the world at large?

Although I awoke, in the South East of England, to heavy rain parts of the country, notably Staffordshire and Shropshire woke to snow!  The middle of May and snow in central England.  This is not unprecedated, indeed there was snow at the beginning of June in 1976 and that summer has gone down in history as the hottest summer with 15 days (from 23rd June to 17th July) of temperatures about 32°C a heatwave a mere three weeks later.

The current economy gloom is spreading with Greece being if not a pivotal point in the plan certainly a destabilising piece.  Therefore it was worrying news (if not unexpected) theta they were unable to form a government with the current selection of MP’s and that finally came to a head today meaning that the Greeks will have to go back to the polls in a few weeks to attempt to see if the new crop can agree on what the Greek nation can do to prevent their withdrawal from the Euro.

It appears that Virgin Airways are going to let passengers use their mobile phones onboard Virgin Atlantic flights.  This is despite Lufthansa and Qatar airways suspending the same on their flights after complaints from other passengers that like the haven of a mobile free zone.

Feel free to add any other news stories that you think I have missed…

Friday 13th April 2012

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Once again, welcome to the Ides and for the second time this year it is a Friday the 13th!  Fear not you friggatriskaidekaphobiacs for there is only one more to go before the end of the year (July if you want to prepare your cleansing rituals!).  For the second Ides in a row I have planned to be off work (O.K. the previous Ides was for a funeral and ended up ill in bed) a day off in lieu of the Easter Bank Holidays which saw me at work for both Bank Holidays – Good Friday and Easter Monday.  This Ides however went a little more to plan.

My eldest was off school and so I had promised to talk her to the cinema as a treat (the fact that I enjoy going to the cinema too, had nothing to do with it!).  We went to see Pirates, In Adventure With Scientists the latest Aardman Animations feature length film.  My mini review is based on the fact that for certain sections of the film I was explaining what was going on to my eldest and so missed many of the subtleties of the script.  However, I thought it was excellent, if a little predictable but the humour was a mixture of subtle, slapstick and clever wordplay and definitely needs a second viewing.  Blu-ray ordered.

Afterwards we met my wife and youngest and booked our family holiday and week in Tenerife.  so a very successful and not at all unlucky day for our little quartet.

So what was happening in the world?

David Cameron visited Myanamar (or Burma as we still call it in Britain as we do not recognise the legitimacy of the military rule).  This is historic as I believe he is the first British Prime Minister to visit the country and it allows the British to look for the 25 unused Spitfires that were buried at the end of World War II.  By all accounts they are still in the crates they were shipped in, wrapped in wax and oil sheets to protect them from the elements, so hopefully they will still look like they did when they arrived in Burma nearly 70 years ago.  Fascinating.

Mount Etna erupted for the 6th time this year, making it one of its most active periods for many years.

Closer to home, the Royal Mail is accused of rationing stamps as the public snap up first class stamps before the price increases 25% from 48p for a first class letter to 60p.  A huge increase and because the design of the stamp doesn’t change a first class stamp bought for 48p is still a first class stamp when the price increases to 60p.  Hence the Royal Mail are attempting to prevent stockpiling at this crossover period.

There is also a possible deal in the fuel drivers talks.  The government have been accused of helping panic the public into buying fuel even though there is only a hint of industrial action and petrol is something that you can not stockpile (unlike stamps).  We will see how this pans out throughout the next few weeks and see if they do go on strike whether it brings the country to its knees or forces the resignation of a government minister.  Somehow I don’t think so.

Also, tying in with an earlier post, the first Raspberry Pis begun shipment.  I still haven’t decided if I am going to buy one or not.

Thursday 15th March 2012

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Welcome to the first Ides of the year that is not on the 13th of the month.  The Ides of March is undoubtedly the most famous of the Ides being the date in 44 B.C. that Julius Caesar was assassinated.  According to Plutarch, Julius Caesar was stabbed 23 times by a group of conspirators (over 60 in number) lead by Marcus Junius Brutus (Et tu, Brute!) in the Roman Senate.  Also, according to Plutarch a seer had foretold that Caesar would be harmed no later than the Ides of March.  On his way to his death, Caesar met that seer and mocked ‘The Ides of March have come’ (only in Latin not English), to which the seer replied ‘Ay, Caesar; but not gone.’  This is immortalised in William Shakespear’s play Julius Caesar by the phrase ‘beware the Ides of March’.

So what happened on the Ides of March?  Well personally it wasn’t a great day.  I arrived home the night before and after putting the kids to bed starting feeling really woozy.  I took myself off to bed at just after eight pm feeling nauseous.  It wasn’t long before the feeling came to fruition.  So for me the Ides of March was a complete wash out.  It wasn’t until the late afternoon that I managed to get out of bed and then only to collapse on the sofa.  So I didn’t manage to take the customary photos nor really pay any attention to the news so the following is lifted retrospectively from the internet.

So what happened in the world (and forgive any omissions):

  • Argentina has begun intensifying its campaign to block oil development in the Falkland Islands.  This is the latest in the increasing war of words over the ownership of the Falkland Islands as the approaching 30th anniversary of the Falkland’s war looms.  This is bound to rumble on over the coming year and it will be interesting what  both sides will attempt to get out of the conflict.  I can’t see it ending in war but you never know.
  • This week David Cameron (the UK Prime Minister) has been on a State visit to the US.  The visit has been given favourable coverage in both countries but Dana Milbank one of the most senior and influential writers at the Washington Post has given David Cameron the moniker Obama’s Guard Dog.  I think it is a term that Downing street will quickly want to quash but I suppose it is better than George W Bush’s poodle that Tony Blair was haunted by.  However I think the fact that Obama is in the early stages of an election race and that he invited the Prime Minister to a basketball match in the swing state of Ohio they may be a grain of truth in the title.  Although it is slightly worrying that the President of the US needs David Cameron to be his Guard Dog.  The English readers of this blog will find that amusing.
  • Finally (and no coincidence intended), Yoda, the reigning world’s ugliest dog has passed away.  The 15 year old Chinese crested/ Chihuahua mix breed died in her sleep last Saturday but her death was only announced on the 15th.  She was 0.8kgs had short tuffs of hair, a protruding tongue and short skinny legs and her owner Terry Schumacher mistook her for a rat when she first saw her.  She will be missed.

Monday 13th February

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So a month passes and we find ourselves at the Ides of the second month.  Fortunately those of you that suffer from friggatriskaidekaphobia are a little more secure but hey I can’t help you if you suffer from triskaidekaphobia, just rest assured that next month’s will be 15th March.

So what happened on Monday 13th February?

Awoke to a milder morning than the past week or so.  The remains of the snowmen on the front lawn were noticeably less than that from the day before and at the rate of melting will probably not last the next.  Being a Monday (especially a Monday after I had worked the weekend) I was off.  My eldest has just begun to sleep through the night without nappies and so as a reward I told her I was going to take her on an adventure.

My eldest loves to watch films but had never been to the cinema to watch one (I have an extensive collection of films) and with half-term comes plenty of kids-oriented films at the local multiplex, plus early showings.  One film in particular caught my eye: The Muppets.  A favourite of mine from when I was the same age as my oldest and hopefully with something with enough familiarity to prevent her from being bored.  She thoroughly enjoyed it (but not the popcorn) although probably not as much as her Dad!

We met up with Mum and sister for a Nando’s meal afterwards before heading home for afternoon naps and snacks and games before evening meal and off to bed.  Monday’s are mum’s weigh-in day at the local Slimming World and after a week of illness she was still proud to have lost half a stone, taking her past her target weight and three stone mark.  She is very proud, as I am of her!

So what was happening in the world:

  • People are still in shock at the news that broke the day before that Whitney Houston was found dead in her hotel bath, seemingly after taking prescription drugs and alcohol although the world will need to wait until after a post-mortem and toxicology reports to know for certain.  She is not the first pop star to die of an overdose (and surely will not be the last) nor is she the first to be found dead in a bath (Jim Morrison of the Doors, of which I believe there was a famous typo in a well known UK Paper that read: ‘Pop Star found Dad in bath‘ sounds so much less final).
  • There is a feeling of unease that Abu Qatada (an alleged extremist Muslim preacher  wanted in Jordan for involvement in terror attacks from 1998 a crime he was convicted of in his absence) is freed on bail from Long Lartin gaol after being held for 6.5 years without charge.  His bail conditions are among the toughest ever.  He is only allowed to leave his home for 2 hours a day, he is banned from talking to nearly everyone, cannot use the internet or telephone, cannot lead prayers, give lectures or preach and must wear an electronic tag.  To prevent these conditions from being broke a team of 60 officers will be required.  Whatever, you think about the situation it seems a nonsense to be where we are with it.
  • The European financial situation still is poised on a knife edge with Greece voting in more austerity packages to received its latest bailout package from the rest of the European Union.  Greece people took to the streets with severe rioting in Athens.  This is not going to be a simple solution and it is not going away quickly.  Can the Eurozone allow a country to fail and then pick up the pieces or are they going to keep bailing them out until the whole of the system breaks under its own debt mountain?  This is something that will continue for the whole of the year, if not the rest of the decade.
  • Hot on the heals of Fabio Capello’s departure England are not the only team looking for a football manager.  Wolverhampton Wanderers have dismissed Mick McCarthy after his team were beaten 5-1 at home by their fierce rivals West Bromwich Albion.  This equalled the biggest defeat at Molineux for the Baggies (a record going back 119 years) and marked a year anniversary since Roy Hodgson took charge of the Throstles.  This was particularly delightful for me as I am a West Brom supporter.  Boing!Boing!
  • The last slice of news I will mention was the fact that, arguably the biggest Scottish football team of all time and current Champions, Glasgow Rangers look like there are on the verge of going into administration.  It is a sad indictment on the state of football in general and Scottish football in particular.  To understand the gravity of this one must understand that Rangers are probably the most successful Scottish team of all time (they have won the league 54 times (more top-flight national championships than any other club in the world), they have won the Scottish League cup 27 times – more than any other Scottish club – and the Scottish cup 33 times) and along with their fierce Old-Firm rivals Glasgow Celtic dominate Scottish football.  The pressures of maintaining that record and attempting to do well in the lucrative European competitions have pushed this Scottish behemoth into the brink.  Should they enter administration then they will be docked 10 points while will take them further from the title and thus any chance of European football next season.  The future doesn’t look good for Glasgow Rangers.

Here are this months Ides photos:

Friday 13th January

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Welcome to the first of the Ides summaries.  Hopefully none of you suffer from friggatriskaidekaphobia as not only is this the Ides of January it is a Friday!  If you do suffer from friggatriskaidekaphobia then 2012 is probably a bad year for you as there will be 3 this year!

So what happened on Friday 13th January 2012?

Awoke to a fine frosty Winter’s morning, the first of note of this winter (which just goes to show how mild this winter has been!), which meant that the car’s windows needed scrapping before I could take my oldest child to school.  And so began a usual Friday day in the Bagnall household.  After the school drop I headed into work (shades on – frosty morning caused by lack of cloud cover overnight; lack of cloud cover overnight means that the low winter sun can be seen in its full glory; I drive East to work means that the sun is in my eyeline for the majority of the journey hence the shades!).

Again a standard day at work with its usual spread of delights and frustrations with one of the better delights being a surprise lunch from one of my suppliers.  Just as I was walking out of the door to head to grab a bit to eat, I bumped into the supplier heading in for a spontaneous chat with me, so we killed two birds with one stone and headed to the nearest pub.  Who says that Friday 13th is unlucky!

Back home for Salmon Stir-fry and an evening in front of the box with the missus.  Not the most awe-inspiring ides that has ever been lived but a true reflection, a snap-shot of one person’s life on Friday 13th January 2012.

Globally, what was the news?

Obviously that is an enormous question but here a few little snippets:

  • The Hammersmith Flyover (A4 – West London) re-opened.  It was closed just before Christmas after serious structural defects were discovered during an inspection.  This is one of the major arteries for traffic heading into London from the West and so has had enormous ramifications on traffic on the alternative routes.  The flyover re-opened on Friday 13th January 2012 but with only one lane in either direction and only to light traffic.
  • A small (unconfirmed) number of people died and thousand were rescued when the Costa Concordia (a luxury cruise liner) ran aground and began to sink off the coast of Italy.  Obviously news agencies begin to make comparisons to the Titanic (especially considering it is the 100th anniversary of that disaster in 3 months time) mainly because they have to ramp up the fear factor when reporting the news or they believe that the general populace is too think to understand what a ship sinking looks like without referring to some Hollywood blockbuster.  The Costa Concordia incident and the Titanic disaster have nothing in common apart from they are both ships.
  • France lost its triple A rating from Standard and Poor adding to the on-going economic woes in the Eurozone (and the world in general).  Eight other European countries were also downgraded (Italy, Spain, Cyprus, Portugal, Austria, Slovakia, Slovenia and Malta).  Cyprus and Portugal are now classed as junk status and Italy are on a par with Kazakhstan!  With talks in Greece about another bail out package (without which the country will default in March) it was a bad day for the Eurozone with stock markets reflecting those worries.  There are only 14 countries left in the World with a Standard and Poor AAA credit rating and only three (Canada, Germany and the U.K.) of the G8 with that highest of ratings.  Interesting economic times lie ahead.
  • And finally The Royal Navy captured 13 Somali pirates in the India Ocean.  Remind me which century we are living in.  Unfortunately Somali pirates (as far as I am aware) do not have wooden legs, eye patches and a parrot!

So not the most exciting of ides, especially from a personal point of view but a true and honest view of Friday 13th January 2012.  Here are three photos (and I aim to take the same photos each Ides if I am in the area).

Project Three: The Ides

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This is perhaps a simpler project then the first two that I have set myself (hey it’s my website I can do what I want to do with it!).  This involves no research, no checking of facts and very little time.  It does take discipline though.

I enjoy taking photos but they tend to be snaps, very little art or structured work.  To be frank I don’t have a lot of time to do that and my muses for the majority of my photos tends to be my family or holiday ‘snaps’.  I have toyed with the idea of trying to have some form of focus to a selection of photos and never have, well not until now.

I have decided that I will catalogue the Ides of each month.  Why?  Because I wanted to chose a date each month to record the changes through the year but I also wanted to be a little geeky: hence the Ides.  The Ides (Idus) where thought to be the day of the full moon in Roman months.  This was usually the 13th of most months except March, May, July and October where it was the 15th.

So there will be an update on, or more likely just after, each of the above dates and hopefully it should be a fascinating portrayal of the turning year.