Monthly Archives: May 2014


Two weeks ago the Eurovision Song Contest was held in Denmark. As I was at a wedding on the actual day I’ve only just been able to see the show. So this may be a little late but I felt it was worth talking about. I think that this year the standard of entries was excellent. All the songs were good. I can say that with conviction and it is great to be able to include the UK in that statement.  We’ve had some atrocious entries. This year Molly did very well and really deserved more votes. Terry Wogan or Graham Norton always remind us that we can’t vote for the UK. This was probable the only time, certainly in the last few years, where I’d want to vote for the UK.

Aside from not screaming ‘make it stop’ when hearing our entry it was an important year. The winning entry was:

This gives me a sense of hope for humanity. I know that that is overstating things a tad, but Conchita Wurst, a drag act being able to win speaks volumes. It shows the possibility that we might one day have peace and tolerance. It is the topic that Eurovision songs are most known for.

I also feel that the song, rather than the staging, was voted for this year. Mainly because this song didn’t win.

Its not a terrible song. If it had won it would have been more because of boobs rather than beat. I’m sorry about that one. My favorite was Calm After the Storm. I liked Tick-Tock too but Calm After the Storm had nice simple staging and it is a song contest.

In the UK there tends to be this idea that was shouldn’t compete as we never win. This is really silly. We last won in 1997. Even if countries took it in turns to host it, rather than a popular vote, it wouldn’t have come round to our turn yet. So there is no conspiracy. We need to not win for a lot longer than 17 years before you can say we never win!

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No Sense of Direction

Today I attempted to cycle from my home, in Pontypridd, to Cardiff Bay. The result was several wrong turns and eventually giving up. It took four hours to not arrive at my destination that Google says would take an hour and a half.

It wasn’t Google it was me. I’ve tried parts of this route and failed both ways round. I think I might know where I went wrong. Maybe the third time will be the charm…

I suppose technically I succeeded; I could have continued to the bay. However traveling with that kind of detour isn’t exactly a win!

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Friday was my brother’s wedding. It was an unconventional wedding, to say the least, but it was fun. The happy couple are…  happy. Yesterday was the reception which was unfortunately cut rather short as we were only able to book the place till 2300.

For this event I gave a speech. A title I considered giving it was ‘Operation Lead Balloon’

A speech like this should be hilarious and entertaining. This speech will differ in two important respects.
It is rather embarrassing to admit how tricky this speech was. I have a degree in writing. I should be able to rattle off a speech easily. It wasn’t so much that I had no ideas rather I had too many. So I finally decided to tell you the story of the speech.
My first thought was to begin in this way: Mawage. Mawige is wot bwings us together today. Much like zombies its been done to death. Also I don’t think Wichard would have appreciated it. I also didn’t think I could have sustained it for the next two hours. Richard and Steph
Richard and Steph met at Cardiff university sci-fi society. After some time Richard found the courage to ask her out. Somewhere along the way they fell in love. Love is the greatest thing in the world – except for a nice MLT, mutton lettuce and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean.
Sorry… where was I.? Love is the second greatest thing in the world. When you’ve been in a relationship for a long time: parents, uncles, aunts, grandparent, and, yes, brothers, start to ask the question of when you will marry.
Richard and Steph decided not to marry. It wasn’t for them. So if someone had asked me, a few years back, wherever I thought Richard would make someone a good husband; I would have said: ‘Certainly. That’s assuming the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation approves funding for his plans to build fully functioning android companions.
Obviously Richard and Steph changed their minds. I quickly went from being very happy to being slightly terrified. I didn’t consider having to put together a speech.
The next idea was to give the speech in the style of the Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy. Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small un-regarded yellow sun.
Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet. On that planet, in a country named after a large marine mammal, too people celebrate their wedding.Steampunk
Then I thought I’d embrace my dyslexia and tell you that a wedding is defined as the process of removing weeds from one’s garden. This was too detached and not funny. Telling you that is called lampshade hanging. It’s what writers do to detract from their incompetence.
Over the years I have learned that, in a crisis, Richard is the person you want. That’s assuming he’s noticed the: massive alien space ship, tsunami, asteroid, or zombie apocalypses. He has moments of deep thought that are not necessarily related to what’s going on. Someone once described this as ‘Being off in Richard Land.’
I don’t blame him for this, okay that’s a lie, but his mind must be an interesting place. I have called upon him to explain various science things to me. When I expressed annoyance that it was so complicated be said. ‘Of course its complicated. It is rocket science.’
I digress… Once, many years ago, mum and dad were away and I was cooking. When picking the pan, off the gas hob, I accidentally set fire to the oven glove.
So there I was standing with this flaming glove on my hand. There was a sink right next to me. Did you know water extinguishes fire? I was as clueless as the Pleasantville fire department. Luckily Richard was there. He took the flaming glove from my hand – and extinguished it in the pond.
It is fortuitous that he’s found such a sensible wife in Steph.20140509_155803[1] I think of Richard as a mad scientist. He likes to take things apart – and usually can put them back together again.
I can well imagine Richard in a basement with bubbling… science stuff on retorts. Science stuff is the best this ape-descended digital-watchaphile can manage. Now I feel secure in the knowledge that Steph will be there to say: “Are you sure that’s such a good idea?”
Speaking of bad ideas… once when we went to Malta Richard thought it was a good idea to bring a gun. A spud gun. I can only imagine the eyebrow rising that came with seeing that on the x-ray.

Today Richard and Steph embark on the adventure of marriage. Every marriage is an adventure. I’m sure they will have a fantastic life together as they boldly go where others have gone before.
Had to shoe horn those words into this some how…

Its fair to say that Richard and Steph are a weird couple. And don’t misunderstand the word weird. It is not a bad thing. There is a quote going round the internet which is this:

We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness—and call it love—true love.’
This quote is sometimes attributed to Dr. Seuss. The problem with internet quotes is that you can’t always depend on their accuracy. As Abraham Lincoln once said ‘The problem with internet quotes is that you can’t always depend on their accuracy.’

Nevertheless this wedding is proof that Richard and Steph are different and unique. That sentence is proof that I’ve entered the realm of tautology. So it is also fitting that I end this speech before I start to repeat myself.
In closing this speech, before I repeat myself, I plan to fall back on tradition. It is traditional to offer advice to the married couple. So listen carefully: Do not go to Za’ha’dum, never tickle a sleeping dragon, don’t forget to be awesome, never get involved in a land war in Asia, and, always be sincere, whether you mean it or not.’
It only remains to say I wish you every happiness. I know you will have a glorious life together. May you live long and prosper.

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May the Fourth Be With You

Today is Star Wars day. So I thought I’d engage in some more flogging of a dead horse. Yes, as you’ve guessed, this post will be about the prequels. Episodes 1, 2, and 3 have been repeatedly flogged. There is no point in me going over old ground on that. You can watch the Confused Matthew or Redlettermedia reviews. A word of warning Confused Mathew is very angry and Redlettermedia is… disturbing.

Unless you’ve spent the last few years frozen in carbonite you’ll know the problems with these films. Instead I thought I’d offer a few suggestions of what could have been done instead. The original trilogy mentioned very little of what came before – leaving Lucas with very little that had to be included.


I think the film(s) should have focused on the relationship between Anakin and Obi-wan. Perhaps it could start shortly after Obi-wan became a Jedi Master. Slowly we would see Anakin slide into darkness. This could start with Anakin going a little too far in an interrogation – leading further and further to the dark side. Its not hard to see how a good man might turn bad. Just think of the old philosophical problem with the runaway train: Do nothing and three people die – do something and one person dies. Anakin would become more and more disillusioned with the Jedi ways. The ends justify the means would be how he justifies himself.


Redlettermedia has an excellent suggestion in his Revenge of the Sith review. The republic is attacked by unknown forces, clones, and the individual militaries are unable to withstand the assaults. In response the Chancellor decides to create an army for the republic.  Obi-wan and Anakin begin to investigate and discover that the Chancellor is playing both sides. He created the war as a grab for power.


In episode one we are introduced to Naboo. My question why not call it Alderaan? It would only have required a find and replace and would have given a wonderful poignancy every time it was mentioned.

Those are just a few little thoughts. I’m sure there’s more but I want to post this today!

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This short story was written for a competition. Well I wasn’t short listed so here it is for you. The story had to include the words: democracy, dentist, and Andromeda. Since I don’t have a word limit here I’ve edited it just a tad. Enjoy.

Nicola heard the sound of keys hitting the bowl in the hall. She got up from her desk and dashed to the hall to great Sam. “Good day?”
“I’m a dentist,” Sam said, “people came in, I poked their teeth, same old same. You?”
“I’m a xenoarchaeologist I looked at stuff.”
Sam smiled as she hung her coat on the hook and placed her shoes on the shelf. “Any interesting stuff?”
“Now that you mention it there was.” Nicola turned on her heel and headed to the kitchen.
“Do you want me to guess or…”
“I was approached today by a Doctor Jeremy Fujisaki.” Nicola set two mugs on the counter.
“Should I recognise that name?” Sam said from the doorway.
“No.” Nicola tossed a tea bag into each mug. “He’s a xenoanthropologist. I used several of his books for my thesis. Anyway he’s planning a trip to Andromeda and wanted me to go along.”
“You can’t be serious,” Sam said.
“I am.” Nicola tapped a finger as she waited for the kettle to boil.
“Ships that go to Andromeda don’t return.”
“You’re only saying that because no ship ever has!”
“Nicky.” Sam took her arm. “Its too dangerous.”
“Is it? For all we know there is simply a bar in Andromeda that servers the best Mimosas in this part of the universe.”
“Oh,” Sam said, “so now you’re planning to go out without me! How would you be traveling?”
“Fujisaki has some naval contacts. They’ve agreed to loan him a Saratoga class corvette.”
“Great,” Sam said, “a ship named after a battle that we lost.”
“The ship itself is called Akijama Maru,” Nicola said ignoring her. “This could be the trip of a lifetime.”
“It could be the end of your lifetime.”
“Sam,” Nicola said, “are you actually telling me you don’t want me to go?” The kettle boiled and Nicola poured the water.
“Have you told this guy anything?”
“Of course not,” Nicola said, “I said I’d ask you.”
“So this is a democracy then? You’re saying I get a vote?”
“Of course, baby” Nicola said. “I’m not going to go unless you’re okay with me going.”
“Why are you not scared?” Sam asked. “You know the stories.”
“The last expedition to Andromeda was the Phivlas 89 years ago. Technology has come a long way since then.”
“Oh come on.” Sam crossed to the fridge and got out the milk. “The Phivlas had space travel when Elizabeth I was on the throne! Their technology 89 years ago was still better then ours is now.”
“There will be a Phivla contingent on the ship.”
“Okay.” Sam added the milk. “what’s precipitated this anyway?”
“There’s not enough of our own galaxy to explore?”
They carried there mugs into the living room and sat on the sofa. “A scientific mission in the milky way isn’t very sexy. The planets just have a designation, MK421 or whatever, traveling to Andromeda fires the imagination.”
Sam nodded. “Do you think they could use a dentist?”

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