Push propelled program tinkerer and picture maker.

Stole Six Untouched Biggles Books

"Early in the Summer, Melanie stole six untouched Biggles books from his room, smuggled them to a town on a cheap day excursion and sold them at a secondhand bookshop in order to buy a set of false eyelashes with the proceeds."

The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter

I had Nights At The Circus on my reading list, but found A had this on our bathroom reading shelf. This is brilliant, but quite bonkers.

At least I’ve finished reading one book and read another this holiday so feel like they’ve not been completely wasted (it has rained nearly everyday). I’ll probably not read anything else until Christmas (although even off work it’s hard to find uninterrupted reading time).

His Eyes Become A Cliff Of Snow

"His eyes become a cliff of snow threatening to avalanche; his eyebrows bend back like black limbs of leafless trees."

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

There are more commonly quoted (and pertinent) bits from this book than this, but I really like the expressiveness here.

Has taken me an age to read this book. Basically waiting until I had a week off work to find the time to finish reading it - the first morning of the first day off

Album of the Year - Freestylers: Other Worlds

When I found out this was coming out this year it was a case of “how could it not be my album of the year?”. There has been a lot of good stuff so far this year and still to come (Self-Esteem and Little Simz are two obvious ones), but IT’S THE FREESTYLERS!!!

To me, this album sounds more grown up. There’s a more gentle, chilled out intro to the album, different, but still unmistakeably the Freestylers.

My absolute favourites are:

  • Black and Blue. Which is also probably the least grown-up. Laura Steel though… she probably gets the best two tracks on The Coming Storm as well. It’s too sad that I’m too old to ever end up in a club dancing to this.
  • Fabulous. Which is just Fabulous; The remix of this song on the single release is great too.

The track I’m least keen on is Puffin Da Herb. It’s just a bit too much DJ Qbert Wave Twisters for me. I can appreciate it, but my enjoying DJ mix albums phase is many years past.

Everything else I really like and I think I will grow to like even more (All Your Fears for instance).

I’ve been listening to the Fabric Live 19 album a lot recently… “to be honest I’m not a bit bored of that shit”… Freestylers are stil making me happy.

If You Like The Music Youve Got To Get Up And Dance

"Life goes by really, really fast. Life is short. It thunders by. And if you like the music you've got to get up and dance. Just do it."

On her last show on Radio 1; And since it’s from her show using her radio moniker and not full name.

Damn, I’m really going to miss her shows.

Wolf Alice: Blue Weekend

Since I had posts for the other two


  • Smile - Just super fuzzy bass, reminds me of Formidable Cool, but grungier. Probably my second favourite on the album.
  • Safe from heartbreak - Another “reminder” of Visions of a Life, gives me the same kind of feelings as After the Zero Hour.
  • Play The Greatest Hits - The Yuk Foo of this album.
  • The Last Man on Earth - If I’m continuing down the comparison route then could be seen as the Don’t Delete the Kisses of this album, but this is WAY above that. This is a proper full-on goosebumps, stop in you in your tracks, tears by the end of it song. The nearest comparison I can think of mood-wise is Embrace’s Gravity: An amazing song, but so sad. Do not play at a party or listen to if depressed.
  • No Hard Feelings - Kind of odd this comes straight after The Last Man on Earth. Thought they might have lightened things a bit. It’s nice though.

If I go based on gut reaction/feeling it’s not my album of the year. But I think I know what will be.

May Music

I was going to do an April Audio post, but now it’s almost the end of May so I’d better hurry up as I can’t think of what goes with “June”. I.e. it’s basically a “recently listened to” post although perhaps stretching what is meant by “recent”.

  • Billie Marten: Flora and Fauna. Found Billie Marten thanks to ChillDaBeats and then listened to all her stuff. I like her a lot. By a stroke of luck the youngest had been listening to her before me and had asked A for some tickets so assuming life gets back to normal we are going to see Billie at the end of the year. Winning.
  • Self Esteem: Compliments Please. Another ChillDaBeats find (re-find?). After hearing the excellent I Do This All The Time I went and listened to this album. I must have heard Self Esteem before because of the Slow Club; I swear I remember listening to an interview on Lauren Laverne a couple of years ago.
  • The Reytons: May Seriously Harm You and Others Around You. It’s an excellent idea and definitely due: What if we took what the Artic Monkeys had when they were good and used that? Broke Boys Cartel and Jealous Type are superb.
  • Sad Night Dynamite: Sad Night Dynamite. Probably Crunk is the best. I need to give this a re-listen though.
  • Girl In Red: If I Could Make it Go Quiet. I need to give it a re-listen, but so far it doesn’t make me melt as much as Two Queens In a King Size Bed (I am looking forward to Christmas just to listen to that again and again).
  • Sweetpea: Undercover EP. Been broadening my Drum and Bass horizons. This is good.
  • Smoothboi Ezra: Stuck (and My Own Person from last year is great too); another ChillDaBeats find.
  • Hannah Peel: Fir Wave. Patterned Formation reminds me a bit of The Shamen and Re:Evolution
  • New Dad: Waves. I Don’t Recognise You is my favourite so far.
  • Sketchy: Tune-yards. Hold Yourself.
  • Noga Erez: KIDS. Probably VIEWS is my favourite. Needs more listens, but I think I prefer Off The Radar.
  • Skullchrusher: Storm in Summer. That’s my favourite track too. Beautiful.
  • Lana Del Rey: Chemtrails Over The Country Club. Let Me Love You Like A Woman is to die for. Dark But Just A Game is surely going to end up in a movie soundtrack.
  • Arlo Parks: Collapsed In Sunbeams. All about Porta 400. It was destined for greatness with a name like that.
  • Bicep: Isles. This got the year off to a good start.

And that’s back to the start of the year. There are others (albums, EPs) I’ve listened to, but those are the highlights so far.

Friday Family Film Night The End

Continued from part one. This is the second half of the list. A full fifty-two weeks of films (we had a break for Christmas so the whole thing ran slightly over a year).

We were mostly on a three week rotation apart from the eldest sometimes picking. Such was the pressure and stress to come up with something good when it was my turn, I started putting together a list to choose from in advance - It was not just case of picking something I wanted to watch, it had to be something I thought the family would be interested in as well; I tried just once picking something purely that I wanted to watch. I still have a lot of films on my list I didn’t get to.

  1. Dating Amber, Sep 04
  2. Karate Kid+, Sep 11
  3. Bill & Ted 3*, Sep 18
  4. Pointbreak, Sep 25
  5. Captain Fantastic+, Oct 02
  6. Princess Bride, Oct 09
  7. Pretty in Pink, Oct 16
  8. Babadook+, Oct 23
  9. I Know What You Did Last Summer, Oct 30
  10. Breakfast Club, Nov 06
  11. Short Term 12+, Nov 13
  12. Rocky Horror, Nov 20
  13. Christmas Chronicles 2, Nov 27
  14. Scrooged+, Dec 04
  15. David Copperfield, Dec 11
  16. Gremlins¥, Dec 18
  17. Donnie Darko, Jan 08
  18. Social Network, Jan 15
  19. Slumdog Millionaire, Jan 22
  20. Inception, Jan 29
  21. Dead Poet’s Society, Feb 05
  22. Parasite, Feb 12
  23. The History of Future Folk+, Feb 19
  24. Teenwolf, Feb 26
  25. Good Will Hunting, Mar 05
  26. Blue Ruin+, Mar 12
  27. Dazed and Confused, Mar 19
  28. Skate Kitchen, Mar 26
  29. Under the Shadow+, Apr 02
  30. Concrete Cowboy, Apr 09
  31. Ghost World, Apr 16

We finished with Ghost World today.

The End.

* - One of the only two films we saw at the cinema last year. The other was Rocks

+ - My picks

¥ - Christmas and New Year break

§ - I thought, given the hours and hours of stuff I have watched over the years for the benefit of others, that people would be ok watching just one film I like, even if they weren’t that keen, but no of course not. Maybe I’ll get to watch it again in another ten years

A Self One Does Not Want

"A self one does not want. A heart one cannot help."

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

The Goldfinch is what I wanted to read when I read The Secret History. My younger daughter said I could read her copy (we have two copies of The Secret History which is a bit excessive) as long as I didn’t bend the spine or fold pages over (she gave be a bookmark to use). Hmmm. Well, that meant highlighting any interesting bits was also out which left me just picking this one.

Some of my observations:

  • It was far easier to read than The Secret History despite being longer.
  • The Russian characters are interesting given both the length of the novel and the (if we are honest, excessive) detailed description used. I.e. a nod to a novel by Leo Tolstoy or Fyodor Dostoevsky; And also, much more obviously, as my daughter pointed out and I missed, the chapter called The Idiot.
  • Owing to the length and the sheer impossibility of finding long periods of uninterrupted reading time it took me quite a few weeks to finish it. By then I’d completely forgotten the first chapter and so that significance was lost on me.
  • The plot is great. Can’t really say more without spoilers. But it’s ten out of ten from me.
  • The book is all about the ending. I am undecided though as to whether it’s a really great story with a mediocre ending tacked on or whether it is actually a really profound ending and just somewhat lost on me (always entirely possible). I’m so undecided I read the ending twice. It has not helped me decide - nor has reading other people’s opinions.

LINK: Chilldabeats

I wasn’t the biggest fan of The Chillest Show on Radio 1, just because at the time I felt like I didn’t really need to “chill out” and instead needed the exact opposite (although not necessarily the Rock Show; That odd pairing made a lot more sense when the Chillest Show came second), but I did like Phil Taggart. So when he left I decided I’d check out his podcast. And it’s really good.

It’s an(other) odd match, but I really like listening to it whilst running.

New Old Phone

I recently upgraded my (almost) five year old iPhone SE to a second hand iPhone 8.

The iPhone SE is probably only the second time I’ve had a phone shortly after release. The first time was a Sony K700i because I remember seeing adverts for it on telly whilst I had it my hand.

I considered getting a new battery for the SE, but lockdown has made it harder to get a quick replacement and I need a phone (almost constantly) for on-call. Also, the likelihood of A9 devices not being supported in the next iOS release meant I’d really left the battery replacement too late to be worthwhile and so I might as well upgrade to something else; This time round I will keep an eye on battery cycles and replace earlier. It’s impressive the SE still worked with the original battery: I could just about do runs of a couple of hours in length with GPS and bluetooth. But in general I did have to charge it many, many times a day.

I wanted a second hand phone for environmental reasons (and I quite like being a techolag); I seriously considered a Fairphone for a bit, but I’m too tied into the Apple ecosystem now.

I didn’t see the point in spending more than (or near to) £400 though seeing as how the new SE sells for that. So this led to looking at iPhone 7s and 8s; I did toy with the idea of seeing if I could pick up a used iPhone XR with a good battery for under that amount, but decided it’s just too big a phone for me. I did a little spreadsheet (because I’m sad) doing a cost per month for various options, accounting for expected supported lifetime of the device and number of battery replacements. For what it’s worth, an iPhone 8 at this price is better value than the new SE even given the longer supported lifetime of the SE.

The only two places I’d consider getting a secondhand device from are Mresell and iOutlet:

  1. Mresell take photos of the actual device you are buying and quote battery cycles (the only place that seems to do this!). Their pricing seems to be a bit all over the place, I think because they actually ship from the EU and so have been bitten by brexshit issues.
  2. iOutlet are like every other reseller where it’s a lucky dip, but with the big exception that you can get a new battery fitted for a modest price - at least on the iPhone 7s and 8s anyway.

I’d been saving up three months and could have waited longer, but was impatient so went for a grade B iPhone 8 from iOutlet for £149 and then a new battery for £25. The screen has been replaced which on the plus side means no scratches at all, but on the down side there is no true tone, contrast seems a little bit off (really dark images don’t display great at lower brightness) and I’ve noticed one bright spot near the bottom of the screen), but for price I cannot complain. It seems like a crazily good deal to me. It’s just the corners (bottom mainly) that are a bit scuffed. All the glass is good. And 3d touch works well.

Hardware wise, the iPhone 12 mini is the ideal for me. Maybe in a couple of years time? Not because of Face ID or it’s size though, but because I used to stand my SE on it’s edge all the time for yoga videos. Can’t do that with an iPhone 8.

I thought that Face ID would be handy when out running, but you still end up using fingers ultimately. Also Touch ID is handy for masks. The Touch ID sensor on this is a LOT better than on my SE.

Size wise I used to run with my SE in the tiny pocket in my leggings (yes, sorry, lycra). Then I stopped running with my phone and just used my watch, but then my daughter (!) got me some Powerbeats for Christmas and my wife got me a fetching pink bumbag so I’ve been taking my phone with me again in that (which is a good/bad idea anyway because of on-call)… and so size ain’t as important any more.

As far as the iPhone 8 goes the camera bump is much less annoying than I thought it would be, even on flat table. Interestingly I think the iPhone 8 has confirmed what I suspected: everything since the A9 processor seems to just be gravy. The A11 is almost twice as fast. Do I notice the difference? Not at all.

These are the ten most recent posts, for older posts see the Archive.