Apr. 14th, 2015
01:57 am - 1971, East Oxford Junior School, Doctor Johnston ( not that one ) and the Christmas Computer
I have just been bimbling about on the Internet and I found the website for my old Junior school: it was asking for contributions of memories for a putative book on the history of the school if you went there before 1990.
Having predated 1990 by a good 19 years I sent them the following. It's odd that the more I think about it, the more I realise just how good that school was.
( In other news I have been away and am still madder than a bag of badgers. )
I went to East Oxford Junior School, as it was then known, in the September term of 1971. My strongest memories really concern some of the teachers, and a very odd school / class play:
My first form teacher was Mrs Brown who was completely lovely: She was very encouraging, helpful and at the appropriate times, sympathetic. ( the poor woman had to show us a sex education film, Frankly, I think she wasn't completely committed to the idea.) Then came Ms Jackson - I had never heard a South African accent before and I was convinced that she was Australian. She was sharp, and a great teacher and it was she who got my class to write a play, which I appeared in, about the then impossibly futuristic and exciting world of Computer Shopping ( way before it's time I might add. ) Of course the Shopping Computer ( A brilliantly realised contraption of cardboard boxes, cooking foil and Dairylea packets ) behaved as though half of it's circuits had gone on holiday, resulting in the kind of farce you get when drunk ordering from Amazon in a terrified panic the day before Christmas Eve. I like to think we were prescient, and were in our eight year old way sending the world a warning of a future beyond our control. Sadly however I fear that those of us writing it were a bit obsessed by Doctor who and the use of a computer as a plot device had more to do with John Pertwee than Orwellian predictions of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs et al.
Which brings me to the mighty Doctor Johnson.
I sometimes feel myself thinking that this incredible character is a figment of my imagination, except that no amount of Ms Jackson's encouragement of same could have bred such a remarkable vision in my head: he was about ...well he was getting on a bit and tall and wiry. He always wore a white lab coat, and my memory tells me he looked like Peter Snow but for all I know it's lying. Anyway, he was one of very few teachers we got to see other than our regular form teachers: we went to his room on a Friday and it was, for a sciencey sort like me, a wonderful place. It had a HUGE papier mache dinosaur near the back of the room, and posters all around the walls of the layout of the Solar System and other astronomical marvels calculated to tickle the brains of small children with the promise of universal knowledge, presumably working on the principle that to an eight year old, the universe is full of possibilities.
Dr J was a genius in my eyes: there was nothing he didn't know. He told us about space, the planets and stars, and that everything was made up of small things you couldn't see, but were so powerful that if you banged them together hard enough, they would blow up a city. God I loved that man.
I was lucky, he liked me ( Possibly because I hung on his every word like a puppy watching an open tin of Pal, so desperate was I to learn everything he was willing to teach me) The reason I was lucky to have him like me was that if you were the sort who was more interested in Oxford United or, say, Arsenal ( let's face it, even in our school no one supported Oxford) than the distance from Earth to the Sun and were demonstrating this educational shortfall by talking in class, you got a 1 yard ruler across your wrist.
I inferred from the screams that this hurt quite a lot.
Doctor Johnston's crowning achievement was DICTER, which stood for Digital Integrated Circuit...something something something. (It was 43 years ago, for all I know this whole recollection is a drug fueled ramble bought on by too much Venos ) DICTER was a computer, that he had built. Himself. At home.
I am just going to repeat that because I think it bears repeating: Dr J built a computer at home, in his spare time in 1972.
I was fairly convinced the man was a personal friend of Doctor Who.
DICTER was a luggage trunk sized plywood box with a perspex lid, through which you could see the internals. No modern chips, processors, cards or drives: everything was hand wired and soldered. It's (I always thought of it as He, actually ) display was a simple binary readout of four light bulbs.
I didn't truly understand it but what I did know was this: if you could build a computer you were a demigod.
In a remarkably far sighted scheme, Dr J decided to demonstrate how computers work by turning the second year into a computer. ( No, he didn't have us all brainwashed and plugged in to DICTER like Cybermen ) he divided each class into different sections of the computer, each pupil being a switch. Each of us had a piece of paper with either a 1 or a 0 on it. Thus I was an AJ Flip Flop. I wish I could remember more about this brilliant experiment, - perhaps someone else was there?
At the time it clarified things in my head, and I have to say that he was the best, and most inspirational science teacher I ever had. Sadly I drifted away from the sciences, but if he looked at his life's achievements ( I have to assume he passed away some years ago, but bearing in mind who he was I wouldn't be a bit surprised if he's either made himself a new body or regenerated into Peter Capaldi ) then I hope he was aware of how much of a difference he made to so many children who he infected with his enthusiasm and lust for knowledge.
One in a billion.
Mar. 24th, 2015
12:34 am - Feck! Drugs! Gobshite!
Drugs! I have been to see my GP and he has increased my venlafaxine dose to 225mg.
I am off my head, frankly. Also it makes you want to go to the toilet. I am glad I like reading on the loo.
I now have two lovely new display cabinets for my model work, which makes me happier than I might be otherwise.I am a simple soul. I'd be even more cheered up by them if I knew where to put them. Currently they are standing in the middle of my room looking like a Blake's 7 set. I half expect Servalan and Avon to wander behind them and start snogging. Having just remodelled my room, I am going to have to do it all again.
And I have a cold.
Which means the neighbours are knocking on the wall again. They did this at 4 this afternoon and are doing it again now. I don't know what to do about them. I can only assume they hate me as much as I hate fascism.
Mar. 19th, 2015
05:34 am - Mmrrrrrr.
A few weeks ago, I decided that Facebook and I were incompatible, so I left. Off I went with my digital equivalent of another suitcase in another hall.
The reason, more than anything else was that I am ( officially now, I got certificates and everything ) mad. As such, being surrounded by terrible things wasn't helping the madness. I tried to go back, with a new profile, but, perhaps unsurprisingly, it didn't help.
I am sad about this because there are many people I care about and love on Facebook, but it's too full of stuff that makes me want to either die or kill. And it's ultimately unfilterable for all of that. The people I am friends with are thinkers, by and large and they quite rightly have Things to Say about the world. I cannot ask them to filter me out of all of that.
But I can't take more Boris Johnson, Ian Duncan fucking Smith et al. I will end up traveling to Downing street with a hammer, some knives and a home made pipe bomb and taking myself and them out in a spectacular humanity fueled Media Event.
So I am back here.
In other news, my Doctors have ballsed up my prescription for my antidepressant, and I am currently going through a bit of withdrawal. It has taken ages to type this much because I have to keep going back to fix all the typos ( But I think that LJ encourages this, and it's a good thing. It's less immediate than FB so one is in less of a hurry to announce things to the world. ) I wanted to though, because my brane is currently in a very terrified place, thanks to said lack of drugs and being horribly down in any case.
Last week, we lost Kia, the widest cat in the world, and I am finding it hard to deal with. Posie, a cat I had since she was kitten with Mary ( and who lives with her now ) is also very ill, and I am hoping every day that she gets better. I love her dearly, and am finding the thought of her in distress very hard to bear.
Also someone has been in our back garden, twice tonight. I heard them and saw someone there, but both times I went out they scarpered. It was, frankly a bit scary, but they weren't exactly ninja like in their approach. Cue me, a torch and a big spanner.
Also cue an adrenaline rush which means the sleep that was eluding me earlier and was just talking around the subject of visiting me at around four am has decided not to bother and has moved on to someone else.
Probably the bastard trying to break in.
Nov. 22nd, 2014
11:49 pm - Riffology
BBC 4 is pleasing me currently, in that it is doing some shows about music -the quality is variable, but what makes them all fit for purpose is that they aren't the usual "We made this record and aren't we awesome?" crap.
Tonight's show is "The Joy of the Riff" and it's not bad at all.
What's good about it is that you'd expect it to be all about RWAAAAAHK! for such is the importance of the riff in the music of the cock.
However, it reminds you that Nile Rogers was a bit of a riffmeister too.
This reminds me that when I was a kid I had pretty specific tastes in music. If it involved odd time signatures, long solos, guitars turned up to 11, or thrusting male pelvises ( not necessarily all at once ) I was there. I was into Genesis, Pink Floyd, Rainbow/Deep Purple/Whitesnake ( pretty much all the same band one way or another ) and Rush.
Look, I'm not proud. Until I was about 15 that was me thank you very much. In fact it wasn't until I took up the drums and by necessity had to learn about all sorts of music that I started listening to other things.
Therefore up until about 1980 if it didn't rock I wasn't interested. At least a part of this was that in my school, if you weren't a rock fan, you were a second class citizen, and although my balls had dropped, my spine still hadn't developed. I didn't want to be any more an outsider than I already was thank you.
BUT, most of the bullies left in 1980, leaving the sixth form, a desire for a drum kit, Melody maker, Sounds, International Musician and Recording World and Modern Drummer magazines.
I allowed myself to admire pop music. I forced myself to like ( and play, which was harder ) Jazz. I discovered Bruce Springsteen, the Talking Heads, Weather Report and Ramones.
Yeah my head pretty much exploded in the summer of 1980.
This still though leaves chart music pre 80.
I am trying to remember when I began to like it.
For example Chic starring Mr Nile Rogers: really good stuff but I would have hated it on principle at the time.
Its as though I can't remember growing up.
Mar. 23rd, 2014
08:57 pm - They say hope floats
No it doesn't.
Whinge time, sorry.
Over the past year or so I have been close friends with a person we shall call X. And over that year the friendship has developed into something more than a friendship, though where it was going wasn't certain ( Until now, I sense you have worked out but I'll leave that for later )
She is wonderful: outstandingly bright, staggeringly talented with just about any musical instrument and her voice, funny, bogglingly beautiful and just generally brilliant.
In the past few months we have begun to sit together on the sofa on games nights, often wrapped in each other. It's nice.
Last Sunday, we spent a very long evening together and the following day she messaged me to say she was"Processing " the previous night. This got me thinking ( as I had been anyway, we were far more tactile than most people who were just mates were) and she hung out a lot more in the week.
On Friday we talked about this elephant that had sprung up in the room, and of course, not wanting to apply any pressure, I stated that my position was this: Friendship - partnership or anything in between would be welcome, though I was ( and still am) very delighted just to know her.
After some more processing, she decided that "Normally when I like someone as much as I like you I am attracted to them, and I am not attracted to you. We should just be close friends."
All of which is fair and reasonable, but I can't help but think of myself as horribly unattractive now.
Later, she said that a relationship is not necessarily better than friendship, just different, and I see her point. I am still deeply glad that she remains my friend. I do not believe in this construct known as the "friend Zone" where friendship is worthless. But I do believe that what I wanted really was a relationship. In saying that I wanted a relationship or friendship or anything in between I was telling the truth, but I wanted a relationship more.
I am grateful for what we have, but so sad it can't be something else. Yes I am greedy.
Dec. 1st, 2013
03:14 am - Why I love the Doctor.
A few years ago, I made a post about the Doctor Who Prom, and what it was about my favourite programme that made me love it.
Like the BBC, I have decided to repeat myself. I hope, though that I can say something new.
In the beginning of my life, there was a lot of shouting, and darkness and terror.
The smell of alcohol laced vomit followed my parents around like Death, waiting to cash in the chitty.
Weekdays were full of cold, praying for rain so I could stay in at break times.
So Saturdays meant, if nothing else I could stay in. And from the moment I can remember anything, I remember the Doctor. I don't remember him being the man fighting Cybermen in the Arctic, but I remember a confused woman and man in a spaceship, wondering where their friend had gone.
I remember my sister telling me that the clown in the hat was Doctor Who, and that he used to be someone else.
I remember a man telling a Dalek that he WOULD stop it, and I remember him delivering on that promise.
I remember the Daleks. I remember the lying company man and the mislead scientist, but most of all I remember the one who didn't lie, who went on to stop the Yeti, the Cybermen ( and for reasons unclear to a six year old, fairy liquid foam - you can't win them all) and the War Lords.
He never stopped fighting for the good things.
He never broke a promise.
He never drank. or beat his companions.
He never gambled away the rent on the Tardis.
And he never carried a gun, or sweet talked people into kissing him.
The Doctor is good. He's funny and compassionate, he's clever and brilliant and wonderful, and, strangely human. But better at it than most humans, as all good heroes are.
It's not just the stories, or the monsters or the pretty companions of either sex ( once I got older, any way)
the Doctor is the person I wanted everyone to be like. So I looked for people who were. And have found a few. Some of you are reading this. You rock.
Nov. 6th, 2013
I am entering the International Plastic Modeller's Society national championships this weekend. Assuming I finish the entry in time. (Yes, there is an international plastic modeller's society and his has big competitions. Don't judge me.) The entry is called Tea Break of the Daleks. The model is of a dalek, with the top off, and the operator inside having a cup of tea. I wish I was better at painting faces...
And yes, I have stuck myself to it twice so far. I use good quality superglue with NO surface tension. It gets everywhere and you don't notice it. Until you hit it with accelerator. Know what happens then? A chain reaction of heat and adhesive mayhem. It hurts, and burns. You end up like a nerdy Gollum: "It BURNS us!!" while shaking the affected limb trying to get the bloody thing off you and allow air to the wound.
Sophisticate, that's me.
Sep. 30th, 2013
12:05 am - Back again...
So LJ, what did I miss?
Apr. 19th, 2011
I wanted to say something about the nature of being poly and how I have been found wanting in this are. Jealous, manic, demanding insecure.
I just watched The Green mile. You'd never think that this film would have much to say about that, but it has plenty to say about the human condition, and being poly is part of the Human Condition.
For those unaware of this corruscating film, I'll briefly synopsise:
John Coffey (Michael Clark Duncan) is arrested for raping and murdering two children in 30's America. He is taken to death row where the head guard, Paul Edgecombe (Tom Hanks) runs a humanitarian operation considering his duties. John Coffey turns out to be a healer, healing Edgecomb's urinary infection, and, later, a brain tumour. After performing these miracles he is touched by another prisoner - Billy (Sam Rockwell) and he sees that Billy is the man who committed the crimes he was condemmed for. John eventually dies in the chair, to the distress of Edgecomb and his fellow guards who see that he is innocent.
(that misses out a lot, but it's all you need for now: if interested further may I commend you to the Wikipedia article on Same)
What you erally need to know is this: When Paul asks John if he wants him to allow him to escape, John refuses. He says he wants it over with - he has seen to much cruelty and he is tired..When he saw Billy kidnap the children before raping and murdering them, he heard billy tell each one that he would kill the other if she made a sound. Joh says.."He killed them with their love..."
So I take from that this: Love should never be about killing something in someone.
Whether that is killing their ambition, desires or needs...anything.
I love who I love unconditionally.
I have been killing with love for a while.
Not any more.
You live and learn.
Feb. 10th, 2011
Navigate: (Previous 10 Entries)