30 years on…

What with whitewash in the UK and #pleasecallme in SA, this seems to have gone almost unnoticed. But it’s 30 years since the Chernobyl Disaster in Pripyat, USSR (now in Ukraine).


I have never been to Chernobyl, but I once shared the account of someone who has.

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It was just a few days before that a-ha concert that never was that I was up on Tyneside, stamping all over my old stamping ground and throwing snowballs off the Tyne Bridge.

While I was there, I took the metro out to Whitley Bay and walked down to Tynemouth, where I found this sorry looking swimming pool on the beach, filled with rocks, sand and some snow:

Some history:

At the Southern end of Tynemouth Longsands beach, on the North East coast, lies the decaying remains of Tynemouth Outdoor Swimming Pool. A concrete, rectangular, salt water tidal pool, built in the 1920s. Popular with locals and holiday makers alike for over 50 years. It began to lose favour in the late 70s with the introduction of cheap package holidays abroad, just as other British coastal holiday destinations lost out.

The pool fell into disrepair, and in the mid 90s the Local Authority demolished the ancillary buildings and bulldozed the rubble into the pool, at a cost of £200,000, before filling with concrete and imported boulders to form an artificial ‘rock pool’. The anticipated marine life they introduced never flourished and the pool remains an eyesore to this day.

Not great.

But there is some good news: some form of early regeneration has begun!

Digging has begun at an abandoned outdoor swimming pool which campaigners hope could be restored to its former glory.
Campaign group the Friends of Tynemouth Outdoor Pool is carrying out a survey to find out what the pool tank was filled with when it was decommissioned.

Hopefully, one day, it will look like this:


That’s some distance off at the moment, but surely anything to make the Tynemouth pool look in any way different from its current state will be an improvement.

Leave a comment | Tagged , , | Posted in flickr, positive thoughts, the last hurrah 2010, uk

More on celebrity death

OK, first off, before we begin, I didn’t write this.
Well, I mean, I wrote this, but I didn’t write the thing that I’m sharing.
So don’t shoot the messenger.

Also, just because I’m sharing this, it doesn’t necessarily follow that I’m talking about you. There are plenty of thoughtful pieces out there (you know who you are) which perfectly describe the writer’s feelings about <celebrity> dying without resorting to hyperbole and the exhibition of apparent Munchausen syndrome.
So don’t shoot the messenger.

Those disclaimers aside though, I did enjoy this piece by Alex Proud in the Telegraph.
Oh, I enjoyed it so much.

On Thursday, Twitter, Facebook and various other social networks echoed with the wails of Prince fans who had come together to publicly grieve the Purple One.

In much the same fashion as the reaction to the death of Victoria Wood barely 24 hours earlier, the sites were soon overrun with comments such as “Can’t stop crying, feel so empty. RIP.”

Inevitably, we then had the immediate backlash, where people pointed out that if you are, say, a 45-year-old Surrey-based facilities manager with two children, who had never actually met Prince, mild sadness might be a more appropriate response than utter devastation.

Then we had the backlash to the backlash, where the mourners attacked those who questioned their heartfelt grief. And so on, like ever-decreasing ripples bouncing off the sides of a pool into which a dead celebrity has been dropped.

But ok. I’d argue that it’s not for me (or Alex, or anyone else) to tell people how they must react to the death of these public figures. Perhaps it’s the instant nature social media, and its enforced brevity that concentrates emotions and the perception of emotions. Add to that the narcissism and the egocentric nature of the platforms, throw in the faux-bravado of the anonymous commenter and the general lack of respect that individuals display for one another these days and you’ve got a recipe for the perfect storm, precipitated by the latest celebrity death.

People are over-emoting everywhere.

So you’ve got those “over-reacting” to the news, and you’ve got those “over-reacting” to those who were “over-reacting”. Because:

If your opinion (and the opinions of those like you) have come to dominate the media and the public discourse, then, surely, others are allowed to find this overwrought and tiresome.

Were these people always around? Was it just that we never saw or heard them?
Or is an entirely new phenomenon that has been spawned by social media?

Either way, we’re going to be seeing more of it, and that’s not good news:

Now, God only knows where it’s going to end. We’ve got an awful lot of pensionable celebrities these days and they’re all going to die at some point. Also, how far down the food chain we can take this? If I’m devastated when Kinga from Big Brother shuffles off this mortal coil, is my social grief any more or less valid than the utter emptiness you felt when Bowie died?

Alex Proud takes few prisoners and that column is worth a read.

UPDATE: As is this wonderful Michael Legge post, via Jacques. Thank you.

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Happy tenth birthday to our energetic, well-mannered, adventurous, minecrafting (obviously), early-rising, football-playing, respectful, loving, not-so-little-anymore bundle of joy.


He needs to stop growing up so fast now. Please. Thanks.

And, you know what? Well done to us parents as well, and thanks to all the family and friends (not least the amazing Poliswa) who have helped us – and him – get this far.


Level up. Next step – surviving the teenage years.



Leave a comment | Tagged , , | Posted in positive thoughts, the parenting bunny


Not too much time to do anything other than repair last night’s damage, so here’s something I spotted on the Snakes of South Africa FB page earlier.

Yes, obviously it’s about snakes. If you’re frightened of snakes, maybe look away now or something, although, given the title of this post, what were you thinking clicking through anyway?

It concerns the photography of a python. Because pythons are apparently misunderstood:

There is a great deal of myth about pythons, especially with regards to attacks on people. Pythons in Africa do kill people, but rarely so. There are as few as 3 proven cases where people were killed by pythons in Africa in the past 100 years+.

Well, ok, fair enough.

FB_IMG_1461514677140But they can still give you a nibble right? Uh-huh.


Apparently, this is “a willing volunteer”. His name is Shawn. Right. I was once a willing volunteer for something far more dangerous than this, but it didn’t involve being bitten by a snake. That’s just silly. Haven’t you heard that they have a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth and the ability to inflict very nasty bites, often resulting in stitches?
You hadn’t?

Pythons do have a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth and have the ability to inflict very nasty bites, often resulting in stitches. The reason is that people pull the pythons off and the sharp teeth rip through skin.

Well, there you go.
But yes, folks. It’s the pulling off of the python which causes the injuries, rather than the actual bite. So next time you’re bitten by a python, just leave it hanging on whatever bit of your body it’s hanging on and wait for the feeding response to subside and it’s grip to subside. I don’t know how long this takes, but if it’s not hours, then it must at least feel like hours. If it is hours then it probably feels like more hours than it actually is.

To finish the set on the FB page, there was an image of Shawn holding the snake’s mouth open for one last snap of those lovely teeth.



And (at the time of blogging this), the only comments on that picture?

What flash are you using there?

and the reply:

That’s a Canon MT24EX. Best macro flash there is.

Yeah – because the Canon MT24EX is the most striking thing about that photograph (I’m being sarcastic, but actually it does have some fantastic reviews). What are these people thinking? Why no mention of the copious amounts of claret cascading down Shawn’s manly forearms? And what of Shawn? Is that a look of scientific curiosity on his face there or is he grimacing, wondering why the actual funk he is spending his Sunday morning flat out on the African dirt bleeding from wrist to elbow?

If I were him, I’d be thinking three things:

1. What braai’ed python tastes like.
2. How deep I would be burying the photographer’s body. and…
3. How much I should put the Canon MT24EX on Gumtree for.

I hope Shawn has learned a valuable lesson about volunteering. And some stuff about pythons.

UPDATE: Please see Shawn’s comments in the appropriately-named “Comments” section below.

4 Comments | Tagged , , , , | Posted in learning curve, that's a bit mad, this is south africa