Tag Archives: bristol

Cigars are Cool

20130911 Smoking Component Face 150x150 Cigars are CoolCigars.  What’s the first thing that springs to mind when you think of cigars?  Jimmy Savile?  Bill Clinton?  Fidel Castro?  Saddam Hussein?  Or do you think of Birds of Baldwin Street, the Bristol-based tobacconist, where the old boys used to smoke cigars indoors with the door open, whilst giving excellent customer service?

I happen to think of the man whose airing cupboard I live in.  He is a complete idiot.  He smokes cigars very occasionally, perhaps one or two a year.  Whatever you might think of smoking (it is bad for you and I don’t like habitual cigarette smoking), I think cigars are cool.  Even if the people smoking them aren’t always cool…  This picture shows a component made of steel and it is smoking a fat cigar, looking très cool.  Thanks for this one Edwin!

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A colourful character

20120901 Crayola crayons pack frown face 150x150 A colourful characterRyan from Bristol sent in this picture.  It is a box of Crayola crayons and it’s frowning.  I don’t know why because he’s such a bright, happy, colourful character normally.  So full of brightness and sharp pointy things.  Maybe they are hurting his insides…

They say not to judge a book by its cover and so one shouldn’t judge someone’s character by their face.  I look like I’m in a permanent state of shock but I’m not!  That’s my relaxed face when I’m listening to the fridge humming – music to my ears!

Thanks for your submission Ryan!

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Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now

20120621 O2 Academy Bristol Door Velvet Rope 150x150 Heaven Knows Im Miserable Now

I was messing around with the Editor’s phone to see if there were any saucy texts or pictures on it.  Sadly the only sauce I found was actual sauce in photographs of various bits of food he’s been cooking lately.

As well as that, I found this picture apparently taken at the O2 Academy in Bristol.  He recently went there with his friend Jon to see a Smiths tribute band called (wait for it…)The Smyths.  Much fun was had and the guy’s voice was said to have been pretty good.

This picture was taken in the stairwell leading up to the small room upstairs where the gig was held.  It shows a door cordoned off with a velvet rope.  Contrary to what the post title suggests, the door is smiling.  Heaven knows I’m happy now.

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Down the Pan

20111002 Toilet roll dispenser meh face 150x150 Down the Pan

Sam sent in this picture of a toilet roll dispenser taken at an unknown location.  It is a must-have lavatory accessory.  I recently spotted one just like this myself whilst visiting one of my completed buildings in Bideford.

It was a 380 mile round trip to look at a car park in Cornwall that prompted me to take a detour via Devon on the way back.  Today we seem to work longer hours than ever before.  Being out of the office is good fun though – once you’ve managed found the arsedity to drag yourself out of bed at silly o’clock, that is.  The day tends to be long, but it’s fairly relaxing in that you spend most of it behind the wheel, listening to the eclectic mix of music on Radio 2.  The only problem with long drives is PDATS (Phantom Driving Arse Tingles Syndrome), where you continue to experience phantom driving vibrations for hours after your journey has ended.

They don’t make music like they used to

Speaking of music, last week we bade farewell to The Bluetones, who were  one of my favourite bands from my teenage years.  I went to see them at the O2 Academy in Bristol on their farewell tour and they were truly amazing, playing to the crowd and singing all of their biggest hits and more, unlike Van Morrison whom I went to see the next day.  He truly sucked bags, didn’t speak to the audience and then just disappeared off stage at the end with no encore.  I wouldn’t waste your money going to see this arrogant twat perform songs that are mediocre at best.  Thankfully our tickets were free.

The 90s seem to be the last era that spawned bands that could actually sing.  We’ve all heard it said (or indeed uttered it ourselves) that they don’t make “x” like they used to.  Perhaps it is a sign of getting older, harking back to the days when things were supposedly better.  I don’t want to sound like a apologist, but in many ways they simply were.  Whilst I can appreciate some of today’s music, for the greater part it is too loud and lacks imagination.  The charts (which I haven’t followed for over a decade) seem to be full of pop that sounds like the musical equivalent of waterboarding JP Morgan board members and beating those fraudsters with a pickaxe handle.  Actually, I’d pay to listen to that; I’d watch it too!

An indictment

Initially this sounds like an indictment of my own generation: surely we are the ones creating music for the teenagers of today and we are the ones that are supposed to be building up our society and inspiring the next generation?  But on analysis it seems it is actually the younger pop artists in their early 20s (and sometimes younger) who, in my opinion, produce the worst music: Lady Gaga, Jessie J, Rihanna, Adele and Cher Lloyd to name but a few.  But it’s all too easy to point the finger at one group of people – we are all culpable in that we allow such dross to enter the market.  And then buy it too.

As a society we are collectively failing dismally on a number of levels – not just in music.  Our society is plagued by social and economic problems and I’m not just talking about the recent looting.  But the truth is, bankers are guilty of looting money from the ordinary hard working people.

A broken society

People seem to be too focused on themselves and lack responsibility and accountability these days.  Nothing new, perhaps, but the rise of reality TV in the last decade has seen more and more programmes designed to encourage selfishness and confrontation.  Think Weakest Link, Big Brother, I’m a Celebrity… and other such ghastly programmes – a far cry from quality programmes of yesteryear, such as Tomorrow’s World.

Today people stay single for longer, apparently living self-serving lifestyles and abandoning real community for online equivalents, such as Twitter and Facebook.  My parents’ generation would have been married, bought a house and had kids by the time they were my age.  Who can still afford to buy a house in this day and age?  Even more reason to want co-habit and settle down you would think.

I watched a video series recently, where a guy explained the monetary situation the bankers have created for themselves.  The way the banking system is set up, he says, actually means that we ordinary people have no real assets.  The assets we think we have are actually liabilities thrust upon us by banks, which by virtue of the creation of money have power over ordinary people.  I suppose as a simple example, governments borrow money from the banks, which they use to pay corporations for infrastructure, services and so on, which is where you and I get our salaries from.  You may build up your localised stash of wealth but collectively all we have is debt and ever decreasing power compared to the banks.  In some ways it is similar to the second law of thermodynamics, which dictates that entropy, or chaos, must increase.  You can build a garden wall and create the illusion of order, but this is only localised and in the process you are expending energy and dumping more heat into the universe, generating a net increase in chaos.

Answers on a postcard

Every generation has its own problems and it the world will never be perfect, but I get a sense that our society is becoming increasingly detached from our evolutionary roots.  The difficult question is, where will it all end and what can we do about it?  Is social really going down the pan?  Send in your answers on a piece of bog roll.

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What a load of rubbish!

20110829 Wheelie bin with face sneaking up on us 150x150 What a load of rubbish!

I love it when readers send in pictures.  A bit of interactivity makes this job more interesting and I’m always intrigued to see other people’s observations.  Nick from Bristol, has sent in pictures before and his hunt for faces seems to be unstoppable.  He is, what I call, a bona fide venarifaçadeur.

Nick sent in this very artistic photograph of a wheelie bin.  I have often walked past wheelie bins like this and thought they were an eye short of a face, as they have one offset bracket resembling a right eye and a large bracket resembling a mouth, but no left eye.  This masterful artistic photograph creates the impression of a left eye through partial obscurement by another wheelie bin.  The bags sticking out of the top create the impression of hair parted down the middle, again the existence of the left side suggested by the fact that it is partially hidden from view.  Nick’s says, “This bin tried to sneak up on me last night.  I spotted him tho [sic]!”  I don’t know where the photograph was taken but it looks suspiciously likeWhiteladies Road, Bristol.

Nick’s choice of gender is interesting; initially I would have said it was a “she”, but I can kind of see where he’s coming from.  It’s a bit of a pretty-boy-floppy-curtains hairdo of the 90s – maybe like a Backstreet Boys thing; not that I know who they, you understand… 

Rubbish in rubbish out 

But there is a link in the above:  This head is effectively full of bags of rubbish and what do heads full of rubbish generate?  Rubbish; it’s self-perpetuating.  This same idea has applications in science, where the adage of “gigo – garbage in, garbage out” holds true.  It doesn’t matter how good your formula or scientific model, if your input data is wrong, the output will be wrong – often by a much larger margin of error.  Weather systems are chaotic like this, which explains why it is beautifully sunny here today when it was absolutely pissing it down yesterday.  In structural engineering, if a mistake is made, it is often the assumed loading that is incorrect.

Theory of relativity

But what is rubbish?  Rubbish in its generic day-to-day form is something that looks like black plastic bags, which may or may not be in a container – a bin.  Ask someone to draw a picture of rubbish and that is probably what they will draw.  Rubbish suggests something that is bad or undesirable. 

A lot of good things get thrown out with the rubbish: metals, recyclable plastics and paper and compostable organics to name a few.  What is rubbish to one person actually has a use elsewhere.  To me an empty plastic bottle is rubbish, but to a bottle recycling plant or companies like Recresco, it is a raw material and a source of money. 

Computers and electronics contain gold in higher concentrations than some mines.  A broken iPhone, flatscreen TV or Playstation 2 may be useless to us, but in vast quantities this e-waste can generate a tidy profit.

If I wrapped a load of gold bullion in a bin bag and put it out by the roadside and asked someone what they saw, their response would likely be, “rubbish”.

Rubbish, it seems, is a relative concept.

Foreign objects

The above reminds me of another thought I had a while ago.  If you spill curry on your T-shirt, you will most likely end up with a stain – a negative word to describe the foreign matter on your item of clothing.  But the stain is made up of curry, which is delicious and nutritious, so how can this be bad?  Similarly, if you took a piece of fluff from your T-shirt and mixed it into your vindaloo, you’d be complaining about a foreign object in your food.  But again, this fluff in large quantities is used to make clothing, so how can this be bad?  Japanese knotweed was once seen as an ornamental plant.

Fluff is actually delicious.  I love the stuff under the sofa – I call it spice.

At the end of the day, it is about context.  But what do I care?  If I can suck it up I’ll eat it!

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Striking a chord

20110807 Portable DAB Radio Smiling Double Chin 150x150 Striking a chord

I was driving home from work last week and heard the song “The end of the innocence” by Don Henley played on BBC Radio 2, which is beautifully poignant, like many of Henley’s songs.

Whilst it feels a bit like it never really gets going – almost like a 5 minutes 13 seconds long intro – it’s a good listen once you get into it.  Musically it has a similar vibe to “The Way it is” by Bruce Hornsby, with heavy chords played on a bright piano, albeit a little bit less upbeat.

When I got home I fired up Grooveshark and listened to some of Don Henley’s other songs that I love but had forgotten existed, a notable one being “The Heart of the Matter”, which is also a song with melancholic undertones.

There following three lines struck a chord (pun not intended):

There are people in your life who’ve come and gone

They let you down; you know they hurt your pride

You’d better put it all behind you baby, ‘cause life goes on

Apart from the obvious and somewhat apt theme of this song, these words are applicable to relationships in a broader sense, namely friendships.  It reminds me of something someone (I forget who) said recently: some friends are for a reason, some for a season and some for a lifetime – or words to that effect.  This sentiment is also echoed in a song by Baz Luhrman, “Everybody’s free (to wear sunscreen)”, which comprises words by Mary Schmich set to music.  This song features the equally pithy line:

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on.


The above statement is undeniably true and in a thought experiment I did quickly I categorised some the people I know and have known, both in Bristol and in other places I have lived over the years, into different metaphorical boxes (I call them figmentholes), hypothesising what their response would be in a time of needI call it assistocranioreflexpothesis.

Surprisingly there were a few people in a box with seemingly incompatible characteristics, namely those that I rarely see yet could rely on to help me and for general support.  That’s not to say that the people I see regularly wouldn’t help – I am merely drawing your attention to this peculiar subset of friends and acquaintances.

The obvious question is, how can someone I rarely see be categorised as someone I would call a true friend?  K T Tunstall echoes this sentiment in her song “Other side of the world” with the words: Can you still love me if you can’t see me anymore?  I think the answer could be yes.

I have heard it said that the human brain has only evolved to such a level that it can only handle a certain number of friends.  But as a Vaxian (or vacuum cleaner as you humans refer to my species) I wouldn’t really know. 

Austerity and Community 

I believe I have written about this before – I really can’t remember, as I have written quite a few articles – but in an age of plenty (pre-2008) and a heavily services-biased economy where people are used to paying for services, it’s easy to see how people can feel more independent.  Who needs a good neighbour when you can buy a ladder in the closing down sale at the now defunct Focus DIY?  Who needs a friend to help you carry boxes when you can pay a man with a van to do it for you?  True, but there is something very unsatisfying about that.

In a recent series by Andrew Marr (I’ve lost respect for him after revelations not only that he cheated on his wife, but also that he took out a super injunction to gag journalists – his own colleagues) entitled “Andrew Marr’s Megacities” I learned that you can hire a friend in Tokyo now.  It’s true that cities can be lonely places and it makes me wonder whether in this “age of austerity”, as David Cameron keeps calling it, society will change.  I suspect it won’t; independence is ingrained in our present culture and I reckon it would take at least a generation to change.

Full circle

This image shows the underside of a portable DAB (digital radio) player owned by a former colleague.  We come full circle with a reference to radio and music.  The device has a double chin and appears to be smiling as it pumps out music extracted from the invisible vibrations in the ether by Fourier transforms and other clever mathematics that no-one really gives a toss about.  It’s just a bloody radio, ok?

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Freedom of choice?

20110330 Smiling windows 150x150 Freedom of choice?

The question of free will is one that has been done to death by others and more eloquently than I ever could, but most articles I have read often delve into abstract philosophy.  I do like abstract thinking, but as a practical man I tend to think of the issue in terms of physics and tangible concepts.

Newtonian physics is governed by laws.  Every action has an equal and opposite reaction: cause and effect.  This is the nature of a deterministic universe and my job as a Structural Engineer is based entirely on this premise.

Every decision you make is based on a series of sensory inputs resulting in hundreds upon thousands of electro-chemical processes inside the brain, presumably operating on Newtonian principles.  Assuming this is the case, every heartbeat, every breath, every blink and every decision is the result of cause and effect on a microscopic level.  If every state of every atom in your brain and all sensory inputs were known, it would theoretically be possible to determine the outcome in very much the same way as weather systems are modelled by crunching stupendous quantities of numbers with supercomputers.  Furthermore, if all the states (position, energy, etc) of all the atoms in the entire universe were known, we could calculate what would happen in the future.  The present, it seems, was inevitable – the future written into the fabric of the universe.

This is a rather unsatisfying and unsettling premise and no-one likes the notion of having free will taken away from them, except possibly masochists…  So if you do make conscious choices, does that mean there is an external influence?  Is this evidence for the existence of the soul?  Not exactly – it depends on what you mean by that in any case, but I think it is merely a corollary of the fact there is much to physics and the mechanics of the brain that we don’t understand.  Maybe the answer lies in quantum mechanics.  Then again, maybe not.  To be fair, I know le Jacques merde absolutement about the subject.

Freedom to choose?

Free will or not, there is another issue of freedom of choice versus the freedom to choose.  What good is the freedom to choose when there is no choice presented to you?  Does that still constitute free will?  Henry Ford famously said you can have any colour car as long as it is black.  The only choice you are left with is to buy or not to buy, but that wasn’t the question.  The question was, “Would you like black, black or black?”  In other words, we might have the ability to make a choice but what if our environment doesn’t give us that choice?  On analysis, the most basic parameters of (human) life are not chosen.  As I stated briefly in a previous article, there are many things you don’t have any control over whatsoever.  You don’t choose your gender, your sexuality, your parents or your country of birth.  You don’t even choose to be born in the first place. (Not that we are aware of, anyway.)

Not being born severely hampers your future academic achievements and job prospects, to say the least!  When I was 21 I would often meet up with a close friend of mine and towards the end of our fourth year at university we would regularly talk about our post-university plans, jobs and, invariably, “woman trouble”.  One time we came out of the Odeon cinema in Broadmead, Bristol and made our way home and came across a lady in her early 40s.  She suddenly fell to the ground, against the wall of the Bristol Eye Hospital in the city centre in a flood of tears. “I’ve been raped,” she cried.  My friend and I talked to her, comforted her and called the police.  After a lot of commotion it transpired that she had fabricated the story.  In reality she had come out of the Bristol Royal Infirmary around the corner, having been diagnosed with breast cancer moments earlier and was understandably upset about it.

Making sense of events

Despite describing myself as being down-to-earth, I like to believe some things happen for a reason.  I know it’s not logical, but human emotions aren’t logical and it’s a way of making sense of events in my mind, I suppose.  In the above example the paths of my friend and me crossed with that of this lady, perhaps to put our problems into perspective.  Looking back, it certainly did and it made a lasting impression.  We have come a long way in the last [mumbles] years – let’s call it splodgety years: an unspecified number.  (By the way, this has inspired a new feature coming soon – watch this space!)  Sometimes things don’t happen as you would like and may in some cases ultimately lead to better things.  Sometimes things aren’t meant to be – perhaps the time isn’t right just yet, for reasons unknown.  Sometimes it pays to wait.  Incidentally, I received a new disc from Toshiba but they sent me the wrong one again…

I know perfectly well that it is a case of retrospectively rationalising events that have made an impression, or things that are hard to deal with at the time.  Whichever way you look at it, you can only do so much and despite what many a motivational speaker will tell you, the future is not entirely in our hands.  In the words of Baz Luhrman and Mary Schmich before him, “Your choices are half chance and so are everybody else’s”.  Mathematically speaking this is not strictly true but it illustrates the point poetically, if nothing else.  But don’t let that be an excuse to stop trying or to walk away from something.

The muzzle of life

The picture was taken on The Grove near Bristol’s historic city centre and shows a face looking reasonably happy.  It is smiling, but on closer inspection its smile is actually a muzzle.  It can bark but it can’t bite.  It can try its damnedest to achieve what it wants in life but life’s muzzle (a metaphor for external factors beyond ones control) cannot be removed.  Try (try, try again) and if you fail, take solace in the fact that you did the best you could.

“If you succeed in doing this, tell me how…” – Baz Luhrman/Mary Schmich

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Five a day

20110326 Building eating greens 150x150 Five a day

I have had a block of garlic butter in my fridge for a month or so, which I originally bought to go with a nice steak.  I think it might have been a rib eye steak, but it could equally well have been anything else.  You see, I don’t know much about steak except that I like it rare and that it can be quite expensive.  It’s one of those things I want to learn more about but never seem to get round to.  Cooking is something I don’t have much time for but when I do I find it relaxing.  The only problem is it always seems to take four times as long to cook something as it does to eat.  Perhaps the solution is to cook larger portions and freeze some as a healthier alternative to ready meals.  Well, healthier or not, that depends on what you’re cooking! 🙂

Last week I made myself the promise of cooking more from scratch and I am currently on a chips ban.  Not that I ate chips every day or anything, but it is definitely something to limit to once a week, or less in my case – even those famous McCain’s Oven Chips that I tend to buy, that boast as little as “5% fat, 5% fat, 5% faaaaaaaat…”

Spring has come around and it is time to lose some of the winter pounds, ready for the summer and this time, hopefully beyond.  It is like a new year’s resolution, except it started at an arbitrary date of my choosing, loosely coinciding with the start of spring.  I am by no means fat, but I there is definitely some winter excess, which I seem to hide quite well.

Fruit and veg is the way to go and I have been eating a fair amount of it in the last two weeks.  The thing is, my appetite for fruit and veg seems to decline in the winter months – maybe because fruit is cold or because of its naturally lower calorific content it is less appealing to a body trying to keep warm – I’m not a biologist or dietician.  Despite this, they recommend 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day.  Who are they?  Are they the same they that said it was going to rain?  Or are they a different they?  That’s one for another article!

In order to use up the garlic butter I decided to try to make some home-made garlic bread.  What to buy?  Obviously I wasn’t intent on eating it all in a single meal, as that would be an artery-clogging quantity of garlic butter and a half for a single meal.  So I bought a six-pack of mini baguettes and some parsley, which I chopped up with a new carving knife I purchase a couple of weeks ago, mixed with the garlic butter and wedged into grooves cut into the baguettes.  They now live a quiet life in the freezer waiting to be shoved in the oven and tasted.  I have no idea whether they are any good but they certainly look the part and what’s more, as they are mini baguettes they are perfectly sized for individual portions as a side, unlike the ready made ones you get in the supermarket.  Mine use less butter as well, and as they are home made, I can be fairly certain that there is no junk in them – except what was in the garlic butter (though according to the packaging only butter and crushed garlic) and the mini baguettes… Hmmm…

Problem: After I had made the garlic bread I was left with an over-abundance of parsley in the fridge.  So I made egg-fried rice and managed to freeze some for later.  But there is still a lorry load of parley left in the fridge to use by the end of today.

The above scenario reminds me of croissant syndrome – a phrase coined by a friend of the family several years ago (circa 1998 – yikes!).  Basically it is derived from the condition of having a croissant with jam, finishing said croissant but having a significant amount of jam left on your plate and being forced to eat another croissant to finish the jam, only to finish all the jam but now having excess croissant…  The remedy?  More jam!  And so the process repeats itself until either food source runs out or your stomach explodes.  I have to say I prefer croissants with cheese and ham.

My parsley conundrum combined with a drive to cook more, has inspired me to do some food association.  It is like word association but with food and it should result in a food chain or sorts, but not in the conventional sense.  Basically, I am going to try to cook something else with parsley today, which will inevitably lead to an excess of another ingredient.  My challenge will be to use up the excess of that ingredient in another dish.  Hopefully I will learn some new (hopefully quick) recipes in the process and will waste less food and eat healthier.  Those of you who have read other posts will know I hate waste.

By the way, the picture is a building on the harbourside in Bristol, England.  It is a walkthrough to a courtyard, I think, and it has a plant pot in front of it.  To me it looked like a face about to devour its greens – plate and all.  That’s got to be at least two of its five a day!  One disturbing thought is that it also eats people…

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Junk food for thought

20110323 Thinking bin 150x150 Junk food for thought

Looking at my laptop keys I’ve noticed a sheen appearing on the most frequently used keys (all keys, actually), where the rough textured surface has worn off.  A distinct smooth patch has appeared on the track pad, a bit like the beginnings of androgenic alopecia, or pattern baldness to you and me.  My hair isn’t as thick as it used to be and I have recently opted for a short crop on top to avoid the comb-over look, having tried various styles over the years, including wax.  The latter, I never really understood: you have a shower in the morning to wash your hair and then you proceed to put grease back in… [shrugs]

I have only had this laptop since August or so and I must have done a lot of typing since then.  On reflection, I have written a fair number of reports and articles on here and this entire website was hand-coded on it.  Wear and tear happens to everything and I noticed it on my washing up sponge in the kitchen and my trusty Casio pocket calculator, which I have had since 1999.  The latter has seen me through a number of exams and served me well in my working life and continues to do so.  The text has worn off all the number and function keys but I can still use it without any problems – but only efficiently with my left hand.  I am right-handed but taught myself to use my calculator with my left hand so I could perform calculations without having to put my pen down.  This was never a conscious decision but merely something that developed and it saved valuable seconds in exams and at work, where pressures can be even greater.

Looking at the mechanics of worn out surfaces, there is never any physical evidence or remnants of the part of the surface that has been removed.  It is totally unlike breaking the handle off a tea cup where you are left with two distinct parts (largely – there will still be secondary particles scattered about).  So where have the tops of my laptop and calculator keys gone?  Where are the top fibres of my washing up sponge?  Where does all this stuff end up?  Clearly it ends up as millions upon millions of tiny particles of polymers, which are inert and take years to break down.  Initially they stick to my finger tips and eventually get airborne and are ingested, inhaled or end up down the sewer.  I find this interesting from a physical point of view but also in terms of the impact on the environment and health.

Every mechanical process involves surfaces rubbing against one another.  The stress can be relieved by use of lubricants or bearings but only with limited success – it is a physical force that cannot be prevented entirely.  In biology cells repair themselves and bits that have fallen off, like dead skin become other organisms’ food and are disassembled and reassembled into other things.  In some natural physical processes small particles recombine to form larger solids, an example being the formation of silicious sandstone.  But plastics and other inorganic particles linger and pollute the environment and end up in the food chain.  Inevitably a lot of things end up in the sea and due to ocean currents there are higher concentrations of rubbish in certain parts of certain oceans than others.  A couple of years ago I was watching QI with Stephen Fry and learnt about a huge gyre of marine litter called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which I find completely bonkers.  Do a Google search if you want to find out more – but finish reading this article and others first! 😉

On Monday, as I was walking along the River Avon in Bristol, there was an unusually high tide and the water level came to about 30cm (11.8 inches – yuck, what an awful combination metric and imperial – thanks Google) below street level and the water was flowing “in reverse”, upstream.  By the early evening the flow had returned to its natural flow (i.e. downhill, towards the sea) and the water level had dropped significantly to reveal all manner of junk stuck in the mud.  I spotted no fewer than three supermarket trolleys, remnants of bicycles and what appeared to be the liner tray of the rear of a pickup truck, though it could have been anything (except a banana, a pound coin, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, an armchair and so the list goes on…).  Whatever it was, it is still stuck in the mud and will remain there for a long time to come.

The object in the picture is a bin near The Shakespeare Tavern on Prince Street in Bristol.  The handle forms a mouth and two screws the eyes.  It is full of rubbish and it appears to be in deep thought.  Thinking, perhaps, about a better tomorrow when it will be replaced with one of the new recycle bins that have been popping up across the city centre.  Junk food for thought…

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An attitude to life

20110314 Pink bin 150x150 An attitude to life

Not too long ago I was introduced to a teacher, we got chatting and I told her about my website.  She promised to take a picture of her pink bin; she likes the colour pink and that’s an understatement.  I, in turn, said I would write something about it.  True to her word, I got the picture and strictly speaking this isn’t the kind of face I normally write about, but it still deserves an honourable mention; It’s kind of cute and I’m a sucker(bag) for a smile. 🙂

 Promises are great when kept.  They inspire confidence and demonstrate reliability and trustworthiness.  Promises are easily made, yet easily broken (by some).  This is true for both explicit and implied promises.  There is the old adage which says that it takes years to build trust but it is broken in an instant, or words to that effect. This is particularly true in this day and age of fast “this” and instant “that”, greatly exacerbated by digital media, where people are living more self-centred lives (the Facebook Generation) and living more for the here, the now and the “me” than ever before.  Put your hands up if you know who your neighbours are.  (Sorry, couldn’t resist that teacher’s reference!)  Even living in Bristol, which is one of the friendliest places I have lived, I have no idea who my current neighbours are and they have no idea Vic Suckerbag lives next door.

When I moved back to Bristol in 2008, having been away for some time, I found a flat in the city centre.  One day I met a nice couple in the stair well, we had a chat and they ended up becoming familiar faces.  We greeted each other whenever we bumped into each other.  Bristol is a bit of a big village in that respect – despite its large population I often see familiar faces – even old colleagues I met whilst working during the summer as a student all those years ago, some of them unaware that I had even left the city at all.

Increasingly it seems there is less of a need to know your neighbours, which is a shame.  If you’re out of sugar you can nip out to a 24-hour supermarket or convenience store and get some.  If you need a ladder, you can buy one because they are cheap – or better still, you can pay someone else to do the job that requires a ladder, for you.

It seems people are becoming less willing to give up their time for other and are losing their willingness to help each other out.  In some way that’s understandable, considering the hours some people work.  Or people make promises and renege on them on a whim or in a pre-meditated move because they didn’t dare say “no”.  Everyone has been let down by others and, in turn, let others down – even if not intentionally.  We are all human after all – even me, despite my red plastic exterior and that gormless open-mouthed look on my face… You may think I’m just a vacuum cleaner… 😉

Was it really better in the past?  It’s probably a case of rose-tinted spectacles…  The bin sums it up nicely: it represents the past and has a nice rosy pink hue.  It’s smiling on the outside, but it is a façade masking the conveniently forgotten reality contained within.

Or perhaps more positively, it shows that it’s good to be alive and sometimes those things that bother or hurt are best forgotten: smile and let the world turn a pinker shade of pink.  To quote the photographer, “Pink… is an attitude to life!!”

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