Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Category archive: Getting old

Tuesday February 14 2017

What is it about taking out the rubbish that makes the task so very unwelcome?  I live alone, so do not get nagged to do this, but reality itself nags me.  Take the rubbish out.  Why can’t I do this simple thing?

Partly, there is the procrastinator’s constant enemy, which is that fact that a little more time will make very little difference.  Spill rubbish on the floor and it must be cleaned up at once, so cleaned up at once it is.  But most rubbish has its own intermediate, organised, official place.  Why bother with it tonight?  Tomorrow morning will do.  Tomorrow morning, tomorrow afternoon will do, and so it goes on.

The current rubbish crisis is different, because I have been doing some clearing out, and about four loads of rubbish have assembled themselves.  So procrastination is not such a good option.  Trouble is, each load of rubbish involves a trip down and then up the stairs again, and I have it in my head that it all has to be done at the same time, because if not this situation will drag on for ever, and that means going down and up the stairs four separate times.  Things aren’t made any easier by having to check beforehand if there is still any room in the rubbish bins for the recycled rubbish.  Am I supposed to do a separate trip just to find out?  Often, yes.  I meant to check earlier this afternoon, when I was out doing something real, but forgot.

The worst thing of all is that some of the rubbish isn’t really rubbish.  It’s perfectly good stuff that I am just never going to use and which is taking up space, and which I don’t have the time or the social media savvy to find a home for.  Ah, finding a home.  For rubbish.

Perhaps blogging this through here will in some weird way change the way I’m thinking about this, and I’ll get it all done.  Mostly what blogging about this rubbish make me think is: this is rubbish, get it done.  There you go.

Thursday February 09 2017

One of the many dispiriting aspects of getting old is that your favourite sorts of technology revert to 1970s standards of reliability, even when brand new.  This is because the kind of kit you want to buy is often no longer now being made, so if you can find it, it was made a really long time ago, and that means it is liable to not work properly.

Last week, I wanted to buy a small television set.  Everyone else who wants a small television buys a tablet or some such contrivance.  But I am me, and I wanted a small television set.

And this was the picture it showed me when I got it home and switched it on:

image

Yes, a television set that doesn’t work.  When did you last experience that?  It’s like globalisation never happened, and I am back to buying a television from GEC or Ferguson or some such fiascotic enterprise.

This was the only kind of small television they had.  There were several rows of huge televisions, and a single row of even huger ones.  But no small ones.

I tried to include in this posting a link to the actual television and where I bought it.  But that website wasn’t working.

Thursday January 26 2017

Just heard an announcer on London Live TV pronounce Persephone as “Percy Phone”.  It should be Per Seffany, in case you also are not sure.  Y(oung) P(eople) T(hese) D(ays).  They just don’t have the Classics.

This was in connection with a show at the Vault Festival, at which a friend of mine is also performing, tonight.

Friday January 20 2017

Today will be the forth consecutive day of clear skies over southern England.  On Tuesday and Wednesday, the first two of these four days, I journeyed to East London, and today I plan to do the same.  (Yesterday, I just couldn’t make myself do this.  Instead I got a haircut.)

Living and working on my own, to my own schedule, creates problems as well as solving or abolishing them.  Being old, I basically have to get up as soon as I wake up, in order to squirt urine where it needs to go rather than where it doesn’t.  And, having woken up, getting to sleep again can then be difficult and time consuming.  Either I do this, eventually, which takes a big bite out of the beginning of my day.  Or, I stay awake, which means that by the early evening I will be asleep in my chair.  I am staying awake today, to make maximum use of all that sunlight which even now I can see outside.  But, if I leave my self-imposed blogging duties for today to the evening, I will find this very difficult.  This evening I will be both sleep-deprived and exhausted from my wanderings.  Also, I want to be at an event this evening.  So, I am blogging now, before journeying to East London.

It is for times like these that I collect photos that I just like into special directories, of photos that I just like.  Since today is Friday, my day for cats and other creatures, here is an other creature:

image

A rather blurry photo, so no clicking for anything bigger there.  That’s it.  But click on this, of the sign under the elephant, if you want to read more about it:

image

Having to get up every few hours when trying to sleep is a penalty of old age, but a better thing about being old right now is that the indiscriminate inquisitiveness of oldies like me is now more easily answered, without me having to pester any actual humans.  Getting old used to mean remaining permanently confused by more and more random stuff, but less so now I can just ask the www.  Time was when a photo like the one of this elephant in my archives would have remained for ever mysterious.  Now, I can learn all I want about to about it.

Here is a better elephant sculpture photo, which I found here

image

But why is the union jack elephant a different shape to all the others?  I could find this out, probably.  But can I be bothered?  Do I care?  No.

Thursday January 05 2017

Nothing here today, but something there.  Another case of starting something for here, but putting it there, as was this.

Spent my evening getting my colour printer back in business.  Took me five minutes to find the on/off switch.

Wednesday December 07 2016

It always surprises me when people don’t take pictures of events that they themselves organise.  Me included by the way.  I have a friend who kindly takes photos at my events whenever he attends them, because I mostly forget to, and I’m guessing others do too.  This being the kind of obvious but small error that people make when they are stressed.

Which is maybe why this IEA guy, who saw me taking photos at this IEA centenary event in honour of Arthur Seldon, last night, asked me if I could send him a few of my photos.

Here are the seven photos I will be sending him.

The first one sets the scene, but also highlights a problem, which is that these days, at speaker meetings, there is usually a bright screen, while the speaker is - or (as in this case) the speakers are - in something more like darkness:

image

On the left there, Martin Anderson.  On the right, Patrick Minford.  Take my word for it.

But I did get a few half decent shots of speakers speaking, or listening to other speakers speaking:

imageimageimage
imageimageimage

Top left: Peter Seldon, Arthur’s on.  Top right: Richard Wellings.  Bottom left: Linda Whetstone, speaking from the floor.  Bottom right: Patrick Minford, again.

Finally, my two favourite photos of the night, both of Martin Anderson.  And of his magnificent giant shirt:

imageimageimage

I did attempt some crowd shots, but they didn’t come out at all well.  Shame, because there was quite a crowd.

I also tried photoing the video camera and its operator.  That also failed to come out right, but at least there was a video camera present, so presumably those who did not attend will be able eventually to listen in on what was actually quite an upbeat event.

You know you are getting old when instead of just attending funerals of people whom you knew, you attend celebrations of people who were born one hundred years ago, whom you also knew.

More about Seldon and his colossal impact here.  There is also a photo of him there.  Shame there wasn’t a photo of him on that big screen.

Monday November 28 2016

Today I visited Tottenham, and I intend to return tomorrow, both expeditions having been prompted by these two weather forecasts:

imageimageimage

That I have already decided this evening where I will be going tomorrow, and that I already knew last night what I was going to do today, is typical of how I now do these expeditions.  Trying to work out, in the morning, where I’ll go that day, given that the day is turning out nice, tends not to work so well.  Being old and tired and physically lazy, I have to have an interesting and attractive destination in mind as soon as the day starts, in order to force me out the front door soon enough for the expedition to amount to something.

In this respect, I am turning into my Dad.  When I was a kid I used to tease my Dad about all the planning that would go into family expeditions, and he used to justify this with questions starting with the words “What if?” What if, we get into an accident?  What if, one of us gets sick?  What if, the trains are disrupted?  We need a plan capable of taking care of everything.  I used to think he was being over-cautious, and that we ought to just get started and deal with problems as and when they happened, which they mostly wouldn’t.

Well, as I get older, I become less good at adapting, by which I mean that I can change a plan in mid plan, but that it takes longer and is more stressful.

But more fundamentally, I now suspect that my Dad may have needed his plan just to get him going at all.  Without a plan to drive the expedition forward, with artificially created deadlines and reasonably enticing objectives, maybe he just wouldn’t have been able to muster the energy he needed to lead us forth into the world at all.  Like me, he knew that he would be happier if he did get stuck into an expedition, and would be depressed if all he did was sit at home doing this or that amusing but trivial thing.  So, he would devise plans to make himself do what he wanted to do.  My Dad’s plans were not as he sold them to me, mere precautions.  His plans were energisers.

But maybe that’s just me.

Sunday November 13 2016

I have a new CD player which has the delightful property that it does not put a little pause in between tracks.  My previous CD player, an abomination perpetrated by something called Cambridge Audio, does insert such gaps.  This doesn’t matter, mostly, because mostly the tracks I want to listen to have gaps between them anyway, so gaps that are a tiny bit bigger are not a problem.  But if you are listening to one of those classical pieces which is played in one continuous lump, but which is divided up into episodes on the CD, and when each of these episodes is given a separate track, the effect is disastrous.  A total deal breaker.  Strauss Alpine Symphony Rachmaninov Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini or Corelli Variations.  Almost any opera.  There are actually a lot of such pieces.

Just after buying this abominable device, and before I started suffering from its vile gap habit, I also acquired a CD of Daniil Trifonov doing several Rachmaninov variations pieces, and it was while attempting to listen to this CD that I discovered how appalling this Cambridge Audio CD player was.

So now I have a new CD player, which leaves no gaps, and I went looking for that Trifonov CD, in order to actually enjoy it for the first time.  But then came the mystery.  I couldn’t find it.  I have a vague recollection of putting this CD in a different place, to play it on a different player, I think.  But what different place?  Did I even own this CD at all?  Had I only imagined owning it, and had I actually played another CD of those Rachmaninov pieces?

As I searched I realised that I was tidying up.  I guess there are two ways to look for something.  You made the place even more of a mess, or you make it less of a mess.  And, if only because there was nowhere to put any mess I created, I found myself actually reducing the mess.  And once I found myself doing that, I also found myself rereading this, which is me telling me about an earlier effort along similar lines.

I may never find that Trifonov CD.  But if an imaginary CD causes me to contrive the reality of a more tidy home, ... 

A vanished CD and a more tidy home
Cold feet
A blown up airplane and a dodgy internet connection
Rereading a Rebus
An enlarged Dinky Toy in Belgravia
The Wembley Arch and The Wheel
Another fine day at the Oval (4): Scoreboards old and new
Chuntering
A house in France that is not faceless
Second childhood
New Tricks is popular because it is full of old people and it is mostly old people who watch telly
Getting better - but rather slowly
Polishing
Dialogue
Enjoy it when you can
Bell end?
Quite a line-up in New York
Out and about with GD1 (2): How mobile phones both cause and solve meeting up problems
Ed Smith on sporting maturity – Burns and Henriques collide – Secretariat and his jockey
What are those things on her hands?
Reading Anton Howes again
Fantastic day
How the internet is cheering up Art
It turns out that lightning speed is immensely useful
Out from under the weather
A Sunday ramble
OpenOffice Writer default resetting nightmares
A global temperature graph that seems to fit the recent facts
Remembering another Christian name (and flagging up another talk)
When you are old you tend to assume that confusion is your fault even if actually it is not
Victor!
Cats without tails are not scary