How the B939 got its Spot

View Larger Map via maps.google.co.uk

Could it be that this Scottish Connection known as St Andrew’s Road, the B939 which connects St Andrews to Ceres (and beyond), was constructed at the behest of one Oliver Gourlay (1740-1819)? According to this snippet (of which there is more here) from “Memorials of the Scottish House of Gourlay“:

In acquiring these and other lands, Oliver Gourlay was led to believe that by a course of high farming he would attain opulence. Ardent in his enterprises, he in 1780 invited the Town Council of St Andrews to construct a superior road between their city and his estate, assuring them that thereby they “would eternize their names.” Impressed by his agricultural activities, capitalists extended to him a large credit, so that prior to 1803 he was enabled to purchase the estate of Kilmaron, near Cupar-Fife, of which the modern rental was upwards of £3000. But Mr Gourlay failed in his agricultural adventures, and disposing of his lands, he retired from public concerns. He died on the 10th October 1819 in his eightieth year.

Though the estate mentioned (Kilmaron) is not in Ceres but is a little north of Cupar, there’s no road from St Andrew’s to Kilmaron. And the road from St Andrew’s through Cupar is a fairly important A road which needs no excuse to be there anyway.

So who was Oliver Gourlay but a distant (and severally-removed) cousin of mine. His grandfather John Gourlay (1678-1723) was (take a breath) my mother’s father’s mother’s mother’s father’s father’s father’s father’s father. Oliver was also the father of Robert Fleming Gourlay – rather well known in Scotland, England and Canada.

Monumental Movies

Tyneside Cinema and Newcastle City are again showing free films, open air, at Grey’s Monument in the run up to christmas.

It’s a big outdoor screen with a bunch of deck chairs on the monument’s south facing (down Grey Street) steps, so if you think it’s gonna rain, bring your own protection. PGs and Us, only. No 15s or 18s of course – it’s in a public place.

If you have a google calendar, feel free to take advantage of my ical connection to get the event times into your own calendar by copying the (ical) link address.

Seems Like Old Times

A gentleman friend Photos from the summer of 1928, from my Great Aunt Lily’s album. She was born on the 20th August 1902 and so is nearly 26 in the four pictures in which she appears. Which are the one with the gentleman friend, the one on the beach with the young lady friend, the one in a quartet aseat on a wall and the one with a gentleman friend on what looks to be a rather dreary day in July,

Yore Gala

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Here’s a picture – and we know the date it was taken because it helpfully says so in the album whence it was scanned – of a swimming gala held at Tynemouth Pool on the 4th of August 1928. It was probably taken by one of my great aunts or uncles. Maybe Ethel, maybe Lily. or maybe even by their brother Henry my grandfather. We just don’t know.

One off

Currently listening to ‘Symphony in One Movement’ by Alexander Goehr. Heavy, meaty stuff. Deep and satisfying. Apparently he writes one of everything. One Symphony, one piano concerto, one string quartet, one piano quintet, etc. But I don’t think that’s strictly true. There’s not much of his stuff on Amazon, which should make it easy to find.

ÜberGøgl

How does one ask google to find out if there’s a technical term for the practice of deliberately leaving struck-out text in place?

There are probably two cases

  • in proof-reading, a need to see prior versions the history of the text.
  • in rhetoric, to pretend to hide an insult in praise

It’s specifically the second rhetorical use I’m after. There’s clearly no need for it. Technology has eliminated that. Why leave the ‘uncorrected text’ when you can just delete or reword without trace? Leaving it behind can only be to make a point, to amuse or to otherwise mess with the reader’s brain.

And that’s why the Ancient Greeks were invented, to provide us with those classy classical Greek terms like anacoluthon and catachresis. But it seemed unlikely I’m going to find one, principally because they didn’t have this kind of technology.

But we practiced such nonsense^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^hdeceptions on teletypes before we could tracelessly remove text. We’re not likely to see old stone carvings visibly showing explicit ‘control h’ (or some ancient equivalent of a carved mark for backspace delete). But there are many documents (including ones cast in stone) with visible corrections or amendments. Doubtless some deliberately left more unhidden than they strictly needed to be.

So the Greeks probably did have a word for it. But what is it? Are there any examples out there? And how do you ask google?

Soft sell

Introducing the LIBRE | PRO eBook Reader by Aluratek and the latest craze in the current digital revolution. … Also boasting superior battery life you can read up to 24hrs continuous use with an auto off feature if you just happen to fall asleep. Try the LIBRE | PRO eBook Reader and experience why the future of books has gone digital.

Not completely sure about the marketing approach here. First of all, I’m being told that this device is just part of a craze, so maybe I shouldn’t take it too seriously. Secondly, it’s hinting that the very act of reading is so boring I may fall asleep. And finally I’m being invited only to try – not to embrace with any kind of commitment – the new world of digital bookery.

We’re all goin’ …

1956-i-sampsonjanem-saltwellparkbankholiday

On the back of this photo is noted Saltwell Park, Bank Holiday 1956 – when the subject was four months old. From this scrap of information (assuming it’s correct) we discover – with a little help from google (date of aug bank holiday 1956) and a handy website, that it was August 6, 1956. If anything untoward happened on that day at least this kid has an alibi for part of it.

Here’s what the day was like (and I quote):

Notably cold, with severe thunderstorms for some.

The weather pattern was very disturbed. Bank Holiday Monday was a notably poor day – regarded at the time as ‘one of the worst on record’! The day was dominated by a cool northerly airflow (though it’s strength had eased from the previous days). There were some spectacular (& slow-moving) thunderstorms, with large hail and some 4ft (over 1m) of water causing flooding in Tunbridge Wells (Kent). The storm started mid-morning, with heavy rain and the hail started just before midday. At one point, the centre of the town was buried under a foot (~30cm) of hail-ice, with drifts of hailstones up to 4ft (~1m) deep. In other areas, 62mm of rain fell in one hour at Swanage (Dorset) & Arundel (Sussex); 80mm of rain at Faversham (Kent). The midday temperature in central London was just 13degC (c.f. the average day maximum of 22degC). On this measure, it was regarded as the coldest Bank Holiday Monday in the capital since 1880. [ This August was one of the coldest and wettest of the 20th century. ]

But meanwhile, up in the north, maybe the weather wasn’t quite so bad?

It’s also (moderately) interesting that the August Bank Holidays back then were at the beginning of the month rather than, as now, at the end.

I am a Camera

Not sure if this is what Christopher Isherwood had in mind when he came up with Goodbye To Berlin 60 years ago. His protagonist’s position was essentially as a passive recorder of things encountered. But how about actually streaming live video straight from your smartphone to a website, which anyone in the world can watch? This seems to me – for the next few years at least – to be something you’d actively commit to as a concious (though possibly spontaneous) decision.

In a few years time, when cameras are built in to your spectacles or headbands or even right into your bionic eyeballs, you may find it simpler to assume that everyone you meet is probably recording you on their own personal live streaming video channel. This should make everyone behave a bit better towards each other shouldn’t it? (Well, that’s one way of looking at the total lack of privacy).

So how easy is it right now? Turns out it’s a doddle and you can set up your phone to do it in about five minutes. And it can cost you nothing at all beyond what you’re already paying for your mobilistry.You can choose your phone from quite a large selection of them – if your phone can record video at all then you’ll probably be able to download the qik app for it.

I got it the usual way, by having my app store send me an sms with a link, from which I installed it. Then your phone camera starts and you’re invited to create an account (user name, an email address, your mob number if you like, a password) and – if you’re doing this at home (or on the move with a nearby public browser to hand) – within minutes you can see your live phone video streaming away in a little window on a website whose sole purpose is to stream your live video. To be able to do that so quickly is quite gratifying. Even just five years ago it might have been considered witchcraft by most mobile phone users.

But you might want to create your qik account first, before you download the app to your phone (but obviously this may turn out to be a waste of time if you can’t later get the app installed). If you do it that way, then you can instead opt to use your facebook or twitter account (smoke ‘em if you got ‘em). So you may not need to create yet another set of credentials for yet another web service.

On the qik website itself, you can set up your profile and connections to your blogs, to your tumblr account, to your aforementioned facebook and twitter accounts, to your youtube account, etc. “Now why would it be that it’d be that which you’d be wanting to be doing?” I hear you say in your best faux-Irish accent. Well, it’s because you can save your videos to any of those services you’re already using for sharing videos or audioboos or pictures with your extant social circle (or ring).

So when you encounter a difficult public servant or a truculent official or a cowboy builder or whatever – and it occurs to you to start recording them on video, you can be reasonably confident that even if nobody happens to be watching your live video stream at the time (which you have to admit is going to be pretty damn unlikely, who the hell do you think you are anyway – Tarantino?) your video will be posted to facebook or youtube or your blog where you and your chums can gasp in awe and point with appropriate derision at the antics of your filmed adversary. And this video will stay up on the intertubes for as long as you like.

Falling Colours

Do you remember photographic paper? I mean the old fashioned light-sensitive monochrome or chromogenic silver-halide coated paper upon which you develop images with various liquid chemicals. I don’t mean what they call photo-paper these days (e.g. for inkjet printers).

Mariah Robertson is at Baltic until the end of October.

Not for her the ten by eight print. She uses industrial sized rolls of the stuff. A meter or so wide and hundreds of meters long. The so-called ‘law’ of supply and demand would suggest that this stuff is now incredibly cheap because nobody’s buying it. Who’s doing chemical photography any more? The truth is the reverse of this (strange how often the laws of economics fail you) because of the ever rising price of silver halides. People are still doing analog, film-based photography, but they’re developing only the negatives and digitally scanning them. Use of enlargers and paper has pretty much gone.

Be that as it may, that it must cost a small (or even moderately substantial) fortune to produce these works, are you thinking of this cost when you look at the results? Clearly I cannot know what’s in your mind but I’d say not. They’re more fascinating than they have any right to be. They look mostly like accidents involving much chemical spillage, but the colours are fabulously glassy (the paper is glossy, not matte or that ‘orrible ‘satin’ finish) and radiate, emanate, in a way which my poor digital photographic record ironically fails to capture.