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You’ll both be aware by now that I’ve been usefully spending time learning how to record music at home, time I’d usually have devoted to live music. I’ve an album-length collection under my belt, and have even started playing music on other people’s records. One of these is now commercially available, and that got me thinking about making my own music more widely avai Continue reading

Posted in Birdland, Heavy Weather, Lockd Down and Blue, Music, These Are Difficult Times, Weather Report | Leave a comment

DfE Deluge

As has been noted by many this week, there has been a deluge of output from the Department for Education (DfE), covering many matters that have been in the offing for months if not years. That the response to the Pearce Review on the Teaching Excellence Framework has been published with August 2019 on the cover is amusing, but it also says a lot about the way these issues are being tackled: non-ur Continue reading

Posted in Augar Review, BEIS, education, Equality, Further Education, Level 4/5 | Leave a comment

Brian G. Gardiner (1934-2021)

Just a quick post to announce the death of Professor Brian G. Gardiner (1934-2021), communicated to me just now by his son Nick.

Brian was a specialist in the evolution of fishes. He was the last surviving member of the so-called ‘Gang of Four’ that shook up the staid world of biological taxonomy in the 1980s, with their espousal of Hennig’s then-revolutionary phylogenetic system Continue reading

Posted in brian gardiner, cladistics, colin patterson, dick jefferies, donn rosen, hennig, natural history museum, peter forey, phylogenetic systematics | Leave a comment

It’s January, so it must be time for…

Well, that was a bit of a year, wasn’t it?

With the more or less complete absence of photograph-able events that would usually appear in my annual round-up, I’ve had to get a bit creative. With the Honda Indy Toronto canceled, the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair migrating to an online format, and highly restricted attendance at what horse shows were running… well, the backyard, th Continue reading

Posted in Hobbies, Photography | Leave a comment


Notwithstanding inasmuch as which nobody can go really go anywhere much, even if they wanted to, which I don’t, I found – quel horreur! –  that my passport was about to expire, imminently, if not sooner, and that failure to renew it would probably mean my sudden expiration in a puff of logic.

Straightway I hied forth fifth to this handy government passport renewal website (my, th Continue reading

Posted in Alfred Molina, Apparitions, Carlos the Jackal, legal tender, Omid Djalili, passports, Science - Has It Gone Too Far?, the Brown Queue, travel | Leave a comment

Are Journal Editors Biased?

Last week a paper by Squazzoni et al appeared, which had analysed submissions to 145 scholarly journals to look for gender bias in acceptances and across the whole editorial process. They claimed not to find it. When I saw the headline I was puzzled. A careful analysis of their own publications by the Royal Society of Chemistry in 2019 had found significant evidence of bias across their editorial Continue reading

Posted in publications, referees, Research, Royal Society of Chemistry, Science Culture, Squazzoni, Women in science | Leave a comment


Headline for this story, from the Daily Telegraph‘s landing page:


The italics are mine. Perhaps I am just unusually literal-minded, or oversensitive to cliche, but this seems to mix metaphors such that they act in opposition to each other. If  ‘roll out’ means anything at all in this context, it is the ‘rolling-out’ Continue reading

Posted in cliche, duckspeak, ramp up, roll out, semantic bleaching, vaccination, Writing & Reading | Leave a comment


As I am sure you both know, I have been hard at work on a book. Refractory ‘t’s have yet to be crossed and the final recalcitrant ‘i’s dotted, but time waits for no-one, and as the remorseless schedules of publication get up on their winged chariot, unsparing of the  horses, which of course are metaphorical horses, as no actual horses were harmed during the making of this b Continue reading

Posted in a very short history of life on earth, Christmas 2021, winged horses (metaphorical), Writing & Reading | Leave a comment


As you’ll both know by now, playing live music means a lot to me. I’ve been playing live since student days — before — and at times music has been the only thing that’s kept me going. Many of my closest, fastest and longest-lasting friends I’ve met through music. Whenever I’m not in some kind of combo, Mrs Gee complains that I am wandering round like a los Continue reading

Posted in blues, D C Wilson Band, flabbey road, friendship, home recording, Music, pandemic, voodoo sheiks | Leave a comment

Rethinking Qualifications? It’s About Time

For the second year running our school assessment system is up in the air, for totally understandable reasons. A Levels were explicitly cancelled but the Government seemed incapable of giving a clear answer about this month’s BTec’s, the vocational equivalent. Leaving decisions about whether the imminent exams should go ahead to individual schools was a clear failure of leadership, putting both th Continue reading

Posted in A levels, BTec, Charles Clarke, David Goodhart, David Sainsbury, education, skills | Leave a comment


Somewhere in Neal Stephenson‘s sprawling Baroque Cycle, two men are urinating against a wall — and remark on the simple joy of such an action. Both had undergone lithotomy, an operation to remove painful calculi, in their case, bladder stones. One of the men was a fictionalised version of the diarist Samuel Pepys, who had had a bladder stone the size of a tennis ball removed in 1658. I Continue reading

Posted in Baroque Cycle, bladder stones, COVID-19, diabetes, golden arches, i have spoken, it is the way, jelly babies, life always feels better after a big poo, lithotomy, Neal Stephenson, pandemic, poo-phoria, Samuel Pepys, SARS-CoV2, Science Is Vital, the mandalorian, urination, vagus nerve | Leave a comment

Rating Conferences

Following the SWOT analysis of our master’s degree program, the next step in our curriculum development plan has been a series of Rating Conferences. Introduced as a tool for evaluating and developing curricula almost ten years ago [1], a Rating Conference consists of groups of around 10 students who vote on statements about the degree program, followed by a moderated group discussion. We ha Continue reading

Posted in education, Materials Science | Leave a comment


Being the contrarian that I am, I shall defy convention by saying that 2020 has been a year that’ll stand in the anals annals tale of years as historical and transformative. True, millions have suffered, in all sorts of ways, and some of them — including people I knew — have died, horribly. And isolation has taken its toll on mental health. Some personal relationships have suffer Continue reading

Posted in a very short history of life on earth, Apparitions, christmas university challenge, Domesticrox, education, Leeds University, Lockdown, pandemic, Politicrox, SARS-CoV2, Science Is Vital, Science-fiction, vaccine | Leave a comment

A Playlist for Troubled Times

During the recent weeks and months of staring at a screen, when there is little variety of scenery or (physical) company, I have found music a comforting companion. When I say music, I mean classical music which has been a frequent backdrop to my life of the pandemic. Listening to Joyce DiDonato’s own choice of playlist of ‘New Year cheer’ on BBC Radio3’s Inside Music this weekend, and the importa Continue reading

Posted in Desert Island Discs, Music, pandemic | Leave a comment


The Turkey City Lexicon is a document from the SF Writers of America that offers advice to would-be authors of science fiction, pointing out the pitfalls that snare the unwary novice.

A Pitfall for the Unwary Novice: from

A problem peculiar to SF is striking a balance between ordinary domestic events and the otherworldly happenings with which the protagoni Continue reading

Posted in abyss, Apparitions, apple podcasts, Barnaby Kay, brian aldiss, children of the stones, chimera, christopher lee, david wingrove, giant betentacled menace, howard phillips lovecraft, indigo, jana carpenter, joanne froggatt, jonathan forbes, kraken, molluscs of mass destruction, nicola walker, nucula, nyarlathotep, origin, podcast, podcasts, romola garai, royston vasey, sarlacc, science fiction writers of america, Science-fiction, squid on the mantelpice, stone circles, storyglass, tamzin outhwaite, the harrowing, the lovecraft investigations, the piper, tracks, trillion year spree, turkey city lexicon, vincent price, Writing & Reading | Leave a comment