Letter Writing Phase

This past summer I have spent some time crafting words and paragraphs into letters to send to various organisations. Some were complaining, some were suggestions. This is a run down of what I’ve done.

The year started and also might end with me writing letters of complaint to British Gas Services. I pay, what I think is quite a bit of money, to British Gas Services to have my boiler maintained and fixed whenever it breaks. I had booked a repair session earlier in the year which kept getting cancelled by BGS. This was rather annoying as every booking pretty much required me to ask for time off work. When this was cancelled I looked a right tit. I think it took about four months for an engineer [actually a technician] to come and fix the boiler. I had, by then, written three letters of complaint and posted them to BGS. The first was quite polite. The second was more angry and “firmly worded” and for the third I just swore. How to you get anger and annoyance across once you’ve done the whole passive aggressive polite thing.

A sample of the writing from letter three:
I waited for some form of message, a text, an email, something but I heard nothing. So, out of curiosity I looked at the British Gas app and was quite surprised to see that an appointment was booked for 13th May. I had no direct contact about this. When I got to work after seeing this I saw my boss, booked the day off and organised my Friday around this appointment. A couple of days before the 13th I thought I would check the British Gas app on my phone just to make sure things hadn’t changed given the history we now have together. Fuck me if the date on my phone had now moved to the 21 May. I had no direct message to tell me this and it is sheer good luck that I found out. Once again, I had to go to work and tell them what had happened and spend MORE time rearranging a day off and musing about what a pissing waste of time all of this has been.”

Apart from the piss poor service from BGS and discussions with a complaints person over the phone, they did come through and offer me some money. I refused their first offer and their committee of “higher ups” agreed I deserved more. They are still on my shit-list as recent communications with them have been . . . . . . fraught.

Private Eye magazine has a column called Dumb Britain and in it they highlight the answers that people give to questions on TV and sometimes radio quizzes. I used to think this section of the paper was quite funny but as time has moved on I’ve realised that if you don’t know something, then you don’t know. I felt a connection to those poor souls being placed in the spotlight as if I didn’t know the answer then sometimes I thought I would probably give the same response as them. I could see how they got to that particular answer and it didn’t seem so dumb.

“As a fan and long time reader of your magnificent organ I felt it was time to defend the poor souls featured in the Dumb Britain section. General knowledge is just that, general and if you don’t know a thing, you can’t figure it out. It has very little to do with intelligence levels. Given the pressure of television or radio show recordings along with associated brain freeze most of the answers seem quite reasonable and not a cause for general concern that quiz contestants are proving how stupid Britain has become. My subscription remains intact,”

I did get a response from the editor of Private Eye but my letter wasn’t included in print which was a shame. It would have been my second such occasion.

“Thanks for your letter. Point noted.” Ed.

Electric-Charging-Point
Electric-Charging-Point

I’d like a new car. Who wouldn’t? I would also like an electric car. Not just because as I write this the UK has run out of petrol but more because electric cars are the way forward, a way to the future, as long as we can generate the electricity in a green manner. There’s no point everyone having electric cars if all the carbon production is shifted to some arsehole end of the country where we have coal or gas fired electricity plants.

But, where I live is a tiny Victorian terrace street built as housing for the local brickworks and not built for any modern utilities. Running water, electricity. internet and gas supplies were not in the minds of those who built this housing. Very rarely can I actually park outside my house. If I return home to the street anytime after about 1500 I can be assured of having to park about a minute’s walk away from my house. This doesn’t really bother me that much. I’ve lived here long enough that it’s just the way it is. But, I’d like to be able to have an electric car and charge it. So, I wrote to the local council and asked them if they could fit some charging points in communal areas.

I had a lovely response explaining the rules of charging points and how the funding is allocated. I doubt very much that my village will be getting one and if I’m honest, I don’t think I can afford a new car anyway. Maybe I should get a fuck-off-big hybrid 4×4 and just drive it over the fields out that back of my house, fields that will soon be not-fields.

Bluewater Logo
Bluewater Logo

Over the summer break I went to Bluewater shopping centre. I can’t remember what for, maybe I just went there by mistake, I probably mention it somewhere in this communication. Bluewater are quite clever with the hoardings they place over empty shops. They put pictures and adverts on them so if you aren’t looking too close the whole place still looks occupied. If you want to know how your economy is doing then have a look around the town centre or shopping centres. If there are empty spaces then your economy is fucked. Anyway, one of the closed shops was covered with an advert for Calvin Klein [I think] it had a man and woman about twenty foot tall both in their underwear. The man’s pose was full frontal, proper man-spreading. My immediate thought was “ooh, interesting choice” but it got me thinking.

Humans have such an obsession with nudity and the human form. The obsession is that we don’t want to see it. We think it’s rude to talk about penises and vaginas. We giggle at breasts. We talk about private parts. I suspect that a lot of this is historically a religious thing as sexual body parts are for procreation and sex. Sex is a private thing and so body parts must be private. Personally I don’t give a shit. All this guilt around sex and talking about body parts means many many people find it really hard to talk about problems they are having or even seeing the doctor about medical issues we have.

Isn’t it such a crazy world where extreme violence can be shown at lower age ratings in the cinema or on TV but sex, a completely natural and everyday part of life, gets a higher rating. We can’t show people loving each other but it’s easy to see images of people being murdered or killed in a spray of bullets. There’s an embarrassment about totally normal bodily functions that, I think, is really fucking stupid. These things need to be normalised. People need to feel comfortable with issues of their body. We need to change society to make these things acceptable to talk about and stop the shame people feel when discussing these things.

So, I wrote to Bluewater:
“While walking around Bluewater and looking at the empty shop hoardings that you have I wondered whether you, as an organisation, should be adding to either social justice or general humankind with images instead of the ones you have. I understand that social justice might feel a little “political” and so maybe you could have some images that normalise the human body as a campaign to try and make people feel more comfortable about their bodies and talking about them.
It is a big issue for many people to talk about parts of their bodies either in public should they be so inclined or to the doctor. There is a lot of shame and embarrassment incorrectly associated with various “private” parts of the body. This causes issues when talking about them or even downright mental stress for some people.
Perhaps you could have some shop hoardings which attempt to normalise the naked body? Perhaps with images of parts of the body like those in science books? You already have massive posters of people in underwear but I think the next step is to show there’s no shame in openly talking about our bodies – especially to health workers.
No doubt there would be some press attention for a shopping centre to have pictures of naked people, but I doubt it would be a negative thing for footfall.
I’m not a social scientist or an advertising specialist. I thought I’d pass on my idea.”

The reply was a lovely, thanks, but no thanks, passed on to management etc. But I felt I had done my bit.

Comms#1964. What happened in that year?

  • US Surgeon General declares that smoking might be dangerous to health.
  • 100 deaths in Calcutta because – religious riots.
  • Protests against de facto racial segregation in New York.
  • The last death penalty sentences carried out in UK.
  • The XB-70 makes its first flight.

Not Sure How I Feel About This

The village in which I live is under attack. The attack is probably the thing that is needed for the country. But I don’t like it and it’s raising lots of horrible feelings and selfishness. Part of the local council plan involves adding 900 houses to the village where I have lived for almost twenty years. I wrote about this before in this communication. 900 houses. Right outside my garden. It makes me angry while at the same time I know housing has to go somewhere and I’ve always thought that people who protest should accept progress for the greater good.

So, first I want to recognise the need for new housing. Apparently there is a need for lots of homes for people and they need to go somewhere. I suspect it is easier to build on fresh ground than to rework brownfield sites to make them habitable. We all know that the housing developers and land owners are in the back pockets of many Tories and probably lots of other MPs too. Where I live is like Tory world centre and most of the local councillors are that way inclined too. So I do believe that the housing companies get the easier route for more financial security rather than actually doing what is right for the environment and local communities. That said, there is a need for housing.

I live in Tonbridge and Malling local district. I live almost at the northern tip of the district. I live in the relatively poor part of the district. The southern area is much wealthier. Do I think there’s a correlation to where the new housing is going and the relative wealth of the area? Of course I do. The wealthy have the ability to fight these things or at least bribe their way to not having the new houses nearby. It’s always the poorer people who get fucked over by those in power because for the powerful it’s about power and money and nothing else really.

The Medway Gap area has had masses of housing development over the last twenty years and it continues. The company that owns the land, Trenport, I’ve written about before. They like to think they are doing good things I suspect but ultimately don’t care as long as they can make themselves more powerful and more wealthy. Here’s a picture of what land is going to be developed:

My Feelings Are Unsure About This
My Feelings Are Unsure About This

As you can see in the picture Eccles is the blob of housing just right of centre and the pink land is the area going to be developed. I’m pretty sure you can see that it’s all fields. Arable land for growing crops to feed this country. Now, to be clear, not all that land is going to be housing. Some of it will be made into recreational land along with a village car park and community centre. We already have a community centre, it’s the church and hall which can be used by locals. Parking is utter shit in my village but the new car park won’t be big enough, they never are. I think there’s a new shop involved there too but what happens to the current village shop?

All the land heading SW from the village of Eccles is my current view out the back of my house. I don’t really want that to change. I can see for miles. I can see fields and trees and the woods in the distance. It’s a calming positively enduring view that helps my mental health. It’s one of the reasons I bought this house.

I’ve looked at the “consultation” online and the questions are clever. One of them asks what I use the field for currently. Well, in reality I walk or run or cycle on the footpaths. The developers are going to keep the footpaths so that should make me happy but it doesn’t. The reason I walk along those particular footpaths is that the outdoor experience is best there. Wide open spaces in the middle of a barley field really make you feel good. Just having the footpath there through houses isn’t going to be the same.

I’m stuck. I don’t want this development. For mostly selfish reasons. I like my view. I like the fields. I like the ambiance of the village. It feels “country” while entirely surrounded by massive urban sprawl. I know we need houses. I just think there’s somewhere else they could go.

This is communication number 1956 so here are a couple of things that happened that year:

  • IATA finalises the phonetic alphabet.
  • 96 US congress members sign a manifesto against de-segregation.
  • The last British troops leave Egypt.
  • The world’s first industrial scale nuclear power plant is opened at Calder Hall in England.

Where Is Everything?

Just logged into 360 Radar to see what’s flying around [not that I hear anything]. I was just curious but I was shocked at what I found! I wasn’t shocked. I was pleasantly surprised but not shocked. I was trying to write in a click-bait format then, but I should’ve made the title completely click bait. Now I think about it, a lot of the titles of communications on this site are a bit click baity. I don’t really say what the communication is about I just write an obscure title. I can assure that writing them that way makes things much harder to look up in the future.

Nothing Over Kent
Nothing Over Kent

Nothing up there really. The Kent skies seem rather empty. Oh well, the flights will be heading over soon.

This is communication number 1955 and so here are some things that happened in that year of the common era:

  • 60,000 non-whites are forcibly evicted from their homes in South Africa.
  • 83 people are killed in a crash at Le Mans.
  • Ruth Ellis is the last woman to be executed [murdered by the state] in the UK.
  • Cardiff is declared as the capital of Wales.

Summer 2021

This is a boring list of things I did each day during my summer break to remind me that; a) it’s OK to do little, and b) I actually did accomplish things. Days one through seven are listed in this communication, note that day one in that communication is actually day 0 in this communication.

Day 8 – I went shopping for tools and timber but came home with very little. I was disappointed. I went to the cinema to watch F9 and the film met my expectations. I tried having a run but my legs felt heavy and I hated it. I completed one of the Gran Turismo challenges. I played with recording flights in X-Plane and then messed with camera positions.

Day 9 – I went shopping for timber and tools and came home happy but poorer. This day was entirely about making the new sleeping system. It was successful. It was hot and I sweated through clothes. I listened to music on the Sonos Roam while I made stuff. I went to see Old at the cinema. I figured out a way to see my MagicMirror display from elsewhere in the house using the server version. I set up some static IPs for home equipment.

Day 10 – I spent the day completing the building of the sleeping system. Now I just have to worry about painting it and also sorting out the flooring. A scientist friend came over for a cuppa and it was nice to see them. I sweated through more clothes in the afternoon as I completed the sleeping system build. In the evening I watched Jupiter something on Netflix.

Day 11 – This day was about weapon training some cadets. So I had to get up early, head into work and spend the day teaching stuff. When I got home I adjusted the ceiling light in the bedroom and pondered when to start painting. I am acutely aware that I haven’t really had a break yet and I can’t keep going at this pace. So I am not heading out to get painting equipment, I will do that Thursday when I have some clear time. I can let you know that while I was sawing wood upstairs the dust was leaving the room via the window and then heading back into the dining room which means everything feels a bit shit.

Day 12 – Another day of weapon training. It went well and the cadets learnt the weapon system. I got home and had a 10km row. Then tutored someone the basic mathematics of matrices while they were in the Bahamas. After dinner I did some Minecraft things, I was in the nether getting a load of ancient debris after I died recently and lost all my equipment. I watched an episode of Archer.

Day 13 – This day started with a walk around Ham Marshes, proceeded with a trip to Homebase and then painting primer layer on the sleeping system followed by an evening meal with Penguin.

Day 14 – Travelled to the Imperial War Museum at Duxford to meet AB, who I see on average once a decade at the moment. Came back from there and once home entertained my sister and her family for a while. Then it was peaceful and we watched some B99. Dinner was take out. Ordered some masking tape for the sleeping system and picked up some lights for that room.

Day 15 – Cricket in the morning then food shopping because I ran out of time in the week to get to Sainsbury’s. A nap in the afternoon, a race around Mount Panorama in Gran Turismo, and then painting the sleeping system in the evening.

Day 16 – Put mattresses into the sleeping system and installed the lights into the sleeping system. Joined lights to the house lighting system. Had a nap while “watching” some Olympic sailing. Had a ride in a Tesla and spent the afternoon with a bunch of colleagues from work celebrating a retirement. Watched an episode of Jupiter’s Legacy which I think I’m enjoying.

Day 17 – Flew somewhere in X-Plane. Had a run. Re-fitted the PSVR to the PS4. Moved the PS Camera so that some games are more playable. Put down the flooring underlay in the new sleeping system room. Moved stuff from the garden to the front ready to load the car tomorrow for a trip to the dump. Didn’t have a nap! Watched the latest episode of The Grand Tour and it was a little boring. Watched final episode of Jupiter’s Legacy but as I write this now I honestly couldn’t tell you what happened, might have to watch it again.

Day 18 – There’s parking restrictions outside my house apparently so loaded up the car with the things from yesterday but someone had kindly taken a load of metal kit that I had put outside. I did suspect that some of it might disappear. There’s now Google recommendations on my TV streaming device and I wonder how long it will take before I delete all my Google data? Took stuff to the dump. Booked cinema tickets. Had a run. Played Minecraft. Watched Race To Witch Mountain. Put up two sets of shelves in the sleeping system. Watched the last ten minutes of Jupiter’s Legacy again just to remind myself what happened and then watched first episode of Homeland. Read a little.

Day 19 – Did some virtual flying. Booked a dentist appointment. Had a run. Overate at lunch so decided not to have any dinner. Went to see Jungle Cruise. Played quite a bit of Minecraft with the aim of finishing my reclaimed island and building a mob spawner. Pumped up the front tyre on my bike to see how slow the puncture is. Considering making a “meadow” instead of a lawn in the garden. I hate mowing the lawn. Also considering stopping the SSRI I’m currently on.

Day 20 – Downloaded some more desktop backgrounds for the PC. Flew somewhere in X-Plane. Had a run. Played Minecraft. Had a walk. Played Minecraft while listening to Test Match Special. Had flooring for the sleeping system delivered. Read some of my book on The LAW. Decided to stop taking my SSRIs and anti-histamine to see what happens.

Day 21 – Had another flight in X-Plane, I think I’m halfway down Namibia at the moment. I ordered some furniture for the sleeping system. I went to the village shop to get a newspaper to put the front page under the flooring in the sleeping system but they don’t have The Guardian and I ended up buying the Telegraph. I will not be putting this under the flooring, just using it for cutting out guides. Spawned the wither in Minecraft and it destroyed the world, found a backup and looked around that to see how much work I needed to do, it was a few days old. Had lunch. Ate too much of the wrong stuff. Played some more Minecraft but ended up feeling massively motion sick, had to stop playing and actually sleep for an hour. I think this was a reaction to the food rather than coming off any drugs I have been taking. Didn’t do much after that. I moved some tools from the tool storage area to the house ready for floor laying. I considered what to write in a note to place under the floor. I watched Shadow In The Cloud on Amazon and Black Widow, also watched the first NFL match of the pre-season.

Day 22 – I should be in Germany today with Smith attending M’era Luna. I am not. It was postponed. So I went to Sainsbury’s to get bananas, coffee and a copy of the Guardian. I also picked up some furniture from Argos for the sleeping system. Built the sleeping system floor. It was my first time laying laminate flooring and I have to say I actually enjoyed it. I listened to Test Match Special while I did this. Decided I needed some floor edging and it was just after lunch so I went to McDonald’s and then Homebase. Shortly after that I continued the flooring and was finished around 1700. I spent some time clearing up and then made a desk for the sleeping system. Finally I stopped, played Minecraft for a while and then ended up watching an Israeli Netflix thing.

Day 23 – I had a run and then tidied up around the house putting loads of things away that had been displaced for the Sleeping System. I put some glue of wooden items that needed a little structural reinforcement. I flew somewhere in X-Plane, I think I’ve actually made it to South Africa now! I played Minecraft for a while gathering materials from the Nether. Nap time. I spent about an hour trying to figure out why my Sonos system wouldn’t see the music I have on the NAS drive, with plenty of googling I worked it out but it was a little frustrating, the system is now working fine. Smith came over and we watched plenty of M’era Luna along with Boondock Saints II – All Saints Day.

Day 24 – I pottered about the house after writing a Fooyah communication. I flew in X-Plane, played some Minecraft, just generally chilled out. Around midday I went to Bluewater to buy some socks. I wouldn’t normally go that far just to get socks but I needed to be somewhere until it was time to go to the cinema to see The Suicide Squad. So, I walked around Bluewater four times and while there I pondered whether there was a way I could calculate pi from the number of steps it takes me to walk slightly different routes around the shopping complex. I bought socks and headed to the cinema. Once home I had dinner, fitted some LED extensions to the sleeping system and then played a little more Minecraft. I read some of my book and watched episode two of Hit And Run. Somehow I decided I wanted MORE tattoo on my arm.

Day 25 – I wrote some stuff for here and emailed a company about their product. I went for a long run.

I then played Minecraft for a while and decided to have a map wall within the base area. I might go exploring tomorrow, I accidentally killed a villager and the iron golems were not happy with me, I killed them to stop them attacking me. I thought more about tattoos and what design to have for more ink on my arm. I flew from Cape Town in X-Plane and now I think I might need to do 300 mile stints to actually start getting somewhere, it has taken an age to get to the south of Africa. Work beckoned next and I logged in, wrote some emails, customised some Teams and started to organise OneNote, this would save me an hour or two upon return to the workplace. I watched a couple of episodes of Katla and also read some of my book about the law.

Day 26 – The day pretty much always starts off with a coffee and writing stuff for this site. So that’s what happened this day. After morning stuff was complete I went for a bike ride. I didn’t intend to go so far but that’s what happened, next time I think I’ll go some other route as the ride back along the river path is irritating, there are too many people. Once back I decided what to do and settled on watching Chernobyl 1986 on Netflix which was an OK film. It was a bit too long as is the fashion with Netflix films these days, they seem to suffer Netflix creep and become more than two hours. I also completed a flight from Overberg to Port Elizabeth using autopilot, now I need to find time compression.

I had a phone call appt with the Docs about aching fingers and joints and then tutored a kids over Teams. I also tried logging into my “personal” account on the whole RAFAC Bader system. There was a short email chain about ranges that we had hoped to run. Dinner with two episodes of Archer and then some Minecraft where I finished of my map and did some of the farming jobs. I saw an episode of Katla which I am enjoying for now.

Day 27 – I had some bloods taken at the surgery to see what’s wrong with my hands. There were a couple of times this day that they hurt a lot when really they shouldn’t. I then loaded the car with stuff I wanted to take to the dump/tip/refuse centre/recycling centre whatever you want to call it. The booked time wasn’t until the afternoon so I left the windows open slightly in the car so the wet wood wouldn’t smell out the car. I had some time before anything happened and so decided to get on the rowing machine for an hour. While rowing I watched about an hour of Sound Of Metal but now I need to remember to finish it! I played some Gran Turismo taking part in two online races around a wet Red Bull Ring short circuit. Both were clean races and I actually got a fastest lap in the first – very satisfying. Tip time followed by an hour when I just needed to keep busy so I filled the car up with petrol and wasted some time at Rochester Airport where I met an ex-cadet JB who was having flying lessons! I then travelled to the cinema to watch The Last Letter From Your Lover. Then it was home time, dinner while watching some Archer, Minecraft mining for gold and an episode of Katla.

Day 28 – I wrote some stuff for this site, sent a letter to Private Eye magazine, played X-Plane and had a chat with one of my sisters. I went for a run still trying to lose some weight, I suspect that I’m eating too much rice and might need to cut that down a little as part of my main meal. I went food shopping and upon return I ate my lunch. The there was time for a little Gran Turismo which was me trying to race around the Red Bull Ring mini but I got kicked from the server, in a mood for a challenge I took on the Lewis Hamilton challenge around Suzuka, I got a bronze. Most of the day I was listening to Test Match Special on BBC except for my run where I was listening to lectures about information theory and they’ve just reached an explanation of the thermodynamic property entropy. I watched some Brooklyn 99, some Australian show about fairies and elves, then I watched some Katla. Oh, I also read some more of the book on The Law, my word, it’s terrifying.

Day 29 – I wrote a letter to Bluewater management people. I will explain in these pages sometime if I get a positive response. Went to cricket and I did my 10,000 steps before cricket was over along with reading another chapter of my law book. On return to the house I played some Minecraft for a while, like maybe three hours, but damn it I enjoyed it. I’m probably going to record some walk around videos to show off the current base. All day I’ve been listening to the cricket on the radio as England take on India at Lord’s. Dinner was fish and chips. I played around with the rooming settings on my Hue lighting system and I think I fucked up a load of the automations which I might have to delete and restart, that’s a tiny bit annoying. I then read some of the book on the Law [in the UK] and watched the final episode of Katla which I really enjoyed.

Day 30 – I’m trying to write this reminder of what happened on day 30 two days after it happened and I think some of the details get lost. I mean, I can remember what I actually did in broad strokes but all the little details have gone. So, here goes. I think I tried to fix the Sonos issue with my MagicMirror but it still doesn’t seem to work very well. I am going to leave it and not worry about it. Then I drove to Hatfield Heath to see my parents. We had lunch at Harlow Mill Beefeater and also had a walk to look at a prisoner of war camp from the second world war. Upon returning home we watched the final episode [currently] of Brooklyn 99. Not sure what I’m going to watch now!

Day 31 – I was planning to have a run early this day but I got caught up trying to fix something else. Ah, yes. There was an issue with topping up pay as you go phones and it took an ages to sort out. I also tried to figure out a way to cash out some of my Electroneum as the price had gone to a reasonable level again. The last time ETN got this high I hadn’t proved who I was to the company with address and ID and so I didn’t get to cash out in time before the whole price collapsed again. In the years I have had ETN I have managed to double my meagre investment. I did figure out a way to cash out without tortuous dealings with trading websites and international money transfers. It almost felt like I was money laundering – which I wasn’t. Then travelled to Pinn’s to spend some time there with a plan to go canoeing. The weather closed in and the timing of the tide just made things a little tricky so that plan was binned. Upon return to home some games were played. I was trying to work out what to watch. I’m not that fussed by Hit And Run. I tried Them on Amazon Prime but it didn’t grab me, so I am TV show less at the moment.

Day 32 – Emailed a podcast about swans in Maidstone. I did my longest flight so far in X-Plane although I did use time compression for some of it – Maputo Itnl to Beira, Mozambique. Rather than 50 to 100 mile hops I am now aiming for 200-300 in my journey around the world. I had a run which was about 10km and then I played on Minecraft. I’ve decided to do some large scale landscaping. I snuck out to the shop for bread and then I made some lunch. I cleared out a wardrobe of old stuff. More Minecraft. Followed by dinner. Then more Minecraft, the landscaping required much resource gathering. Read a chapter of my book on the Law.

Day 33 – Woke up around 0630 following a kind of work-stress dream so decided to get up rather than go back to sleep to purge the thoughts. Backed up Minecraft world and generated map for web-viewing. I wrote some stuff for this site and then went for a quick run. I think I should use the word “short” rather than “quick” there as a shorter run would be a better description. After that I looked at my “smart casual” clothing for when I stay on RAF bases and decided I either needed to buy new trousers or new shoes. I opted for the new shoes element of that and had to go to Bluewater. There was a list of other things needed there too so it wasn’t a complete waste of time and given I purchased shoes which should go with the clothes it was probably a success. Another good thing about the shoes is that if I choose to wear them at work then my boss won’t like them as he hates brown shoes. The afternoon was dedicated to organising video uploads and playing Minecraft. I’m still landscaping my medium term base area and I’m in the – it’s still kinda fun but going to take ages – part of the build. I did my longest flight so far in X-Plane. After dinner I did some more Minecraft and then finished my book by The Secret Barrister.

Day 34 – I woke at 0400 wondering why people were moving cars around outside. Who is doing things at that time? Backed up MC world and created a map output while thinking about the best method for my underwater rail system. Played for a short while creating some of the underwater tunnel. Then I went to see my sister and her family in deepest, darkest Essex. My nephew is a Royal Marine Commando and it was good to have a proper chat with him about the whole process and Commando course. On the way home I went to Costco and spent around GBP130 on supplies to get me through the next few months. After being home for a while it was time to start reading my new book by Neal Stephenson.

Day 35 – I wrote some things for this site and then pretty much played Minecraft most of the morning while getting jobs around the house completed – such as clothes washing and weedkilling. I might have ordered a weapon attachment, it goes on a picatinny rail, to help improve my shooting and also my marksmanship instruction – thanks to my nephew and the Marines for that idea. After lunch I played some more Minecraft and realised that the track I had laid for a railway wasn’t going to work as the corners were on inclines and you need space. I almost rage-quit at this but decided I would do some farming for a bit before maybe attempting to sort this mess out later in the evening. I’m probably going to record a walk-around video of Base II sometime in the next few days. I went for a run. I then headed to the cinema to watch The Night House, the traffic was really bad and so my timings would normally mean that I make it to the filmhouse around five minutes before the programme starts the state of the roads meant I got there ten minutes after the start of the programme which actually meant I missed all the shitty adverts. Upon return home I played some Minecraft – sorting out my railway corners – and then read a little of a book.

Day 36 – I emailed the cinema about a dodgy speaker in screen 8, it makes an annoying rumble during what are meant to be quiet parts of the film. I wrote some things for this site and continue to chase a new high score in terms of communications per month. Realised I’m not going to beat the previous high communications per month as I hit 68 in May 2013. Fucking 68! I do know I was emotionally a mess in that year so I think I was using this as a distraction method. 68! In a short month! As I write this the details of Day 36 [only yesterday] are fading so the following might not be temporally correct. I played a lot of Minecraft, trying to sort out the New Holland base area and finish the landscaping plans I made. I printed out some cadets ready for a trip to Lincolnshire. I had a run. I went shopping for odds and sods at the supermarket. I watched some of Le Mans 2021, which started at 1500 BST and continues into Day 37. I watched a submarine film called Phantom on Amazon Prime and then Black Island on Netflix. I flew to Zanzibar in X-Plane seeing what fuel consumption is like at high altitudes and working out max range of the T-7N CAS.

Day 37 – Overall this day was slightly annoying. I don’t feel I achieved much, but I did what I needed to do. So, I wrote for this site and played X-Plane. Then I went for a run. After that it was ironing and polishing time of uniform and clothing for the next few days in Lincolnshire. I watched the rest of Le Mans [the race not the film] and then played Minecraft for a little while. I had booked to go to the cinema and so I headed over to Rochester for that. I went to see Reminiscence even though I knew nothing about it. On the drive home I thought one of my headlights had blown and when I checked it, it had. So, it appears I’m now in “I need to buy about four headlight bulbs” season which always happens and I honestly don’t know why. I hope they don’t break on my trip up to the north. I overate and then went to bed. I’m just feeling a little shitty, I think because of the headlights on the car. I don’t think I’m anxious about the trip north. Plus, I need to remember that I’m on the come down from quitting my anxiety pills and so a little reaction over the next few weeks is expected.

Day 38 – I packed the car up and headed down to Hythe to meet with Jase and his family. We played on the beach and had an ice cream. The sun was out and I think I got some sunburn on my head – but I didn’t try to cover up so it’s my fault entirely. What a twat. Around midday I got in the car and drove to RAF College Cranwell. In the car I listened to a series of lectures on language development and the history of words within language. I got warned in to my room and sorted out my clothes etc. I went to the dining room and had dinner and then met some friends in the bar and we chatted for a long time. It was great to be seeing people whom I hadn’t seen in two years. It was also very nice to be out of the SE corner of the country and to be SOMEWHERE ELSE. I didn’t sleep particularly well this night because it was the first night in a new place and the brain does funny stuff to you.

RAF College Cranwell
RAF College Cranwell

Day 39 – An early get up and get ready to head to RAF Syerston. Breakfast in Daedalus Dining Room and a thirty minute journey to Newark and RAF Syerston. Today was about meeting people and seeing what they do on the RAFAC National Aerospace Camp. Things I did are covered in more detail in another communication. Needless to say, I had a great time, made some new contacts and learnt a lot, because I always do. Three of us staying at Cranwell bonded and we went for dinner at a local pub called the Hare and Hounds, in Fulton. It was a lovely meal.

Day 40 – Another early get up because of marshalling duties at RAF Syerston and also warning out of the mess and packing the car. I actually had a job today and also learnt about PTT and Blue Wings. The afternoon was filled with an airshow, more in this communication. I did some more marshalling and then said my goodbyes as I was off to meet LK in Peterborough. We ate dinner at a The Cuckoo in Alwalton, it was another lovely meal. I think I freaked the waitress out when I couldn’t decide what dessert to eat and I just asked her to pick what she thought was the best. I ended up with banoffee pie and very nice it was too. I then drove home to Kent and arrived around midnight.

Day 41 – Extremely tired upon waking and spent some time on the PC along with trying to get my boiler to work – it seems OK but had made noises as if the water had been turned off for a while, maybe there were issues while I was away? I had a run and then a shower – the boiler seemed to work ok, perhaps the boiler was just having a funny half hour. I did some CCF paperwork ready for a hopeful trip to Biggin Hill, paid the import tax on a device I’ve ordered from the USA, and then watched an episode of Pine Gap [which I am enjoying even if the mechanisms of intelligence gathering are pure fantasy]. I got some time out the house as I spent an hour helping someone with their maths and then on the return I bought some bread, Danish blue and coleslaw and thoroughly enjoyed my dinner. I’d mentioned this combination during conversation at the meal in Lincolnshire. I watched another two episodes of Pine Gap, read a little and then went to bed. While falling asleep I thought about where to hold the RAFAC PAC.

Day 42 – I had coffee. That’s how most days start. I then organised where to have a tracked item left, in case I wasn’t at home. I flew, in X-Plane, to Yemen or at least an island which Yemen owns. A quick run then followed and I listened to some lectures on the Story Of Human Language. I’ve been naming my runs on Strava after pieces of learning I’ve listened to while pounding the streets. I popped into work to chat to some about a cadet trip and then did food shopping on the return home. I recorded a Minecraft video and uploaded that to my YouTube channel. Then I collected my children and chilled for the rest of the day while I grapple with a shitty boiler and attempt to get some continuous hot water rather than the three seconds and then shut down I’m currently getting. These things are absolutely great when they work correctly but utter shit and stress when they don’t. In the evening I watched some more Pine Gap and will finish it tomorrow.

Day 43 – Had cricket early in the morning but started writing a communication about education which may or may not get published here. While at Linton Park Cricket Ground I noticed a Spitfire doing trips up from Headcorn and following or being followed by a helicopter, I’m quite curious to see what that’s all about. The afternoon consisted of trying to motivate the boiler to produce some hot water which I managed and so I did all the things you would when hot water is intermittent. I emailed Mantis about rifle selection within their app and they replied really quick which was nice. I’ll probably write stuff here about them soon once I’ve got hold of a real rifle. Downloaded my Twitter data but can’t find a way to make it fit with the page on this site that already exists, will mull it over. Then it was rocket launch time, the field out the back of the house has been harvested and there’s plenty of space to aim for. I played Minecraft and entered the Nether to get some blaze rods but ended up dying loads and it made me grumpy. I lost all my cool kit. The evening meant I watched the final episode of Pine Gap and tried reading for a while but I was tired and my eyes kept losing focus!

Rocket Launch 001 - 28 08 2021
Rocket Launch 001 – 28 08 2021

Day 44 – Wrote some stuff for this website. I dropped my Skiddaw mug that I bought in the Lake District and coffee and china went everywhere, I guess I’ll have to buy another one as it was a way of measuring what mountains I’ve climbed. Went for a run and listened to lectures on the history of languages around the world. Persuaded the boiler to work for showers. Popped out to measure some new baths and get some car headlight bulbs as we are now in my Prius-Hates-Headlamp-Dipped-Bulbs season. Upon returning home I played a little Minecraft and also kinda pottered around the house doing house stuff. I scanned some books I no longer want with the Music Magpie album and then boxed them up ready to send from the Post Office. After spending time at NAC it is clear that I have to add a third screen to the PC, which I did but also will wait and see if I actually like having it there. I didn’t watch anything this particular evening, preferring to read my book.

Day 45 – Started the day with drafting some emails cadet related and then put some rubbish out into the bins. It should be bin day. But it’s a bank holiday and there have been issues with the contractors etc. Who knows? Today was mostly spent at the cricket club with the children playing a couple of games and there were end of season celebrations. Upon returning home I was aching a lot and so didn’t go for my planned run. Instead I ran around the Minecraft world doing admin type things and trying to get my tools back to a decent level of enchantment. Because I’ve used so many resources getting killed in the Nether I am going to spend some time building those things back up ready for an attempt to kill the End Dragon. Although I still need to find an end portal! I watched Tomb Raider, the one without Jolie. Then I read a bit.

Day 46 – I woke early and was slightly annoyed by that. The first appointment of the day was for a call from British Gas about a new boiler quote. It was booked for between 9 and 10 and I was told it would take around 45 minutes to complete. When it got to 0945 I looked again at the confirmation text and realised I had the wrong date by about a month. Oh well. Next we went to the park and played some cricket along with rocket launches 003 and 004. There was a parachute deployment failure on launch 004 and the deceleration on Earth-contact force the rocket to lose it’s cylindrical stability and sadly that ship will fly no more. Returning to home meant some cadets admin before getting annoyed at it all and having a nap. In the afternoon the current boiler was due to be fixed but it’s been working well for two days and as expected it can’t be fixed when there’s nothing appears to be wrong with it. In the evenings We’ve been watching the Turner and Hooch show on Disney – which isn’t bad except for the lead actors face – and The Bureau Of Magical Things. I read for a bit and the quit to bed. Not a satisfactory day for some reason.

Day 47 – I wrote stuff for this site and then went for a run. I played some Minecraft, I’m just collecting equipment and resources ready for an assault on the Nether. I definitely did not buy an ultra widescreen monitor for the PC and associated monitor stands for the other two. I had my eyes tested and there’s been a mild deterioration in my close up eyesight but not enough for me to spend more on new lenses. In the afternoon I went to the cinema. Not a lot happened in the evening as far as I can remember. I watched an episode of Archer, read for a while and then went to bed.

Day 48 – Now officially the holiday ended on Day 46 and so Day 47 should have been the first day at work but we do some shifting around of training dates and voila! 47 and 48 cheekily exist as extras. Can’t complain about that. Did 10km rowing as the weather is a bit pants and doing a different exercise action is probably sensible. Am wondering when my order from Cadet Direct will arrive and also looking forward to testing my Mantis X system tomorrow. Fixed some music on the iPhone as I had repeated songs and then accidentally deleted both versions! I don’t use iTunes for putting music on my phone mostly because iTunes is a heap of shit in terms of software and how it works. I sorted out the screens on the PC and gave the box a good vacuuming. The whole thing worked once it was put together so that was good. The afternoon was mostly some cadet admin, trying to find shirts and shorts and deciding where to order food from. In the evening I had a chat [via text, I’m not a sociopath] with Pom and we caught up a little. I watched an episode of Archer and then read for a bit.

This is communication number 1949 and so in keeping with the newish tradition here are some things that happened that year:

  • A B-50 completes a non-stop round the world flight with in flight refuelling.
  • The term Big Bang is first coined.
  • Siam changes its name to Thailand.
  • Laos is formed but isn’t independent from France.
  • The first year in which no African-American is reported to be lynched in the USA.

What I’ve Learnt About Education

To get through this let’s start with some assumptions and then we can take those and explain what I think about them. There are two scales for this. The macro and the micro, so how education considers the masses and how it treats the individual. Given my thinking style the following is likely to be a mess of thoughts and ideas rather than a coherent essay!

The Macro

I’m going to let you into a little secret. This is going to be controversial although maybe not that surprising if you’ve ever thought about education.

No one really knows what the education system is for, and no one is willing to decide the reason we do this.

Here’s my reasoning for this statement. No one has decided to state what examinations are for. What is their purpose. You might have some ideas about this but I don’t recall a Secretary Of State ever really telling us what the system is for. Let’s have a look:

Is the system to educate children so they know things? In this case they would be allowed to follow their own choices for learning and encouraged and supported by teachers and staff while progressing through whatever curriculum was attractive. Pupils would be supported to make progress and encouraged to develop their understanding. Learning would be at a speed which suits the individual and academic inquisitiveness encouraged. I don’t think you would have examinations. Just a written report about what how that individual could use their knowledge. This is not what happens in schools.

Is the system to measure pupils as a guide for future employers? If so then we would want a system that allows us to measure in a standard way each child across cohorts and the years. There would be a system in place that FAIRLY gave us a list of outcomes about each child. This is not what happens in schools. The measuring system is examinations and the results of those are used to measure individuals and schools which can’t be done effectively for each when the system is split like that, ask a statistician. We don’t have a system of examinations which compares across years because the results “keep going up”.

The government considers education to be a service which can be measured and that measurement is mostly the examination results of the individuals in the system. But how do you show progress? By progress I mean getting better examination results and not actual progress. The examination system is rigged to show better results each year because the exam boards are in competition with each other. Our current examination system does not do any of the things you think it does. The grade inflation – APPROVED BY THE REGULATOR – means that the grades don’t reflect an individual’s ability and they don’t reflect a school. The system is broken and no one seems to want to attempt to admit it.

One method for clearing up what the examinations do is to state that the results every year will be norm referenced. So, the top 5% will get a particular grade, the next 10% the next grade and so on. This would mean that the examination results each year would be the same. It is not the case that people ten years ago were any dumber than those today. If exam results were scored this way then the results a pupil achieves would reflect their ability compared to the rest of the cohort. BUT, this method would not allow the results to show “progress”. Government couldn’t say that their interventions with the system are working because the examination results would be static forever. There would need to be other ways to measure the success of policy changes and they would be academic studies which, because they can control for effects, would show that policy changes do fuck all to results and teachers just try their best most of the time.

For me, as an educator I would like the system to encourage personal growth and intellectual curiousness in people. I would like students to want to learn and to be fascinated by whatever aspects of the universe they want. This can’t be measured and so is highly unlikely to ever become a governmental system because every right wing government in my lifetime [which is all of them post 1979] wants education measured, to spit out students with certain letters or numbers to show how they can be economically viable.

On a gross scale we expect the education system to develop academically, and with knowledge, the youth of the current generation. We want them to know things useful to themselves and we then want to measure them as a guidance for how they can be used within society to progress the zeitgeist. We want people to have a list of “things I’m good at” and we want them to be able to use that knowledge. We want people to add to society, to be useful. We want people to be motivated and to learn. We want the system to be fair and for all people to have the same opportunities.

The recent experience of Covid Lockdowns showed me more than any other time that the education system is firstly a childcare system for allowing parents to contribute economically to society while their children are not with them. While I consider that a by-product of the education system it is clear that parents fucking love the fact that they don’t have to spend all day with their children and that schools can take them and look after them. Pre-Covid I don’t think I would have mentioned this as my first point but that is how it felt with comments on social media and generally the new and old media going on about how hard it is to have your offspring constantly around at home.

The government seems to think that the education system is a linear thing forcing knowledge into children to make them economically productive. Hence all the moaning about lost learning recently and generally down-talking students and pupils. It appears that to the government the education system is a “putting knowledge in kids” system and a childcare system. It’s down to teachers and educators to reach the economic worth of children and this is measured by examination results. The job that we do is measured by examinations. This system has only been around for around twenty years, before that I think schools were seen as successful if they didn’t burn down each year.

In the grand scheme of things we know that you should be careful what you measure to garner success. Schools have become objects of pushing exam results rather than education. It’s all about making the school look as though it’s doing a good job because good results mean a good school. I don’t think good results mean a good school. In the overall sense there is also an issue with random variations in results being used to push particular interventions. Consider that natural variation is a thing and so results just will vary from year to year. Also, consider that schools are constantly measuring children and comparing their results through the years against a benchmark from when they were eleven years old. There is NO leeway for individuality in this.

Some schools have numbers people. Staff whose job is to analyse the numbers and results as pupils progress through the years. In my career I have met many of these staff and only a few actually understood numbers and statistics. Many places even outsource their number manipulation to companies whose market did not exist twenty years ago. This number tracking is meant to allow schools to track pupils and intervene where necessary while also tracking staff and cohorts to ensure they are making progress. Well, that’s great you might think. Managers in school can see which staff are doing a good job, which staff aren’t, which pupils are making good progress and which pupils aren’t. Here’s the thing: if you’re good as a “middle manager” then you know your staff, you know their weaknesses, you can intervene and help staff. If you are a vaguely human teacher then you know when pupils are struggling, you know when pupils are doing well. We don’t need this layer of bureaucracy to help us do our job. Amazing, I know, but the management intervention just isn’t needed.

Schools are clearly a place to dump children for childcare so parents can contribute to the economy of the country. It genuinely feels as though that is the primary by-product of our education system. Just look at all the shit that followed schools closing for the Covid lockdowns we had. Parents seemed unable to cope with having their children around all the time and the economy ground to a halt because children had to be looked after. I honestly thought that learning stuff just happens to be the least important thing that education does.

The education system has never been about learning for learning’s sake, no matter how much idealists like to say it.

The Micro

Let’s look at what we might expect for a pupil attending a school. I’m writing this from the perspective of a parent and interactions with parents of pupils I teach. I know that I would like to think that all staff at a school have my child’s interests as their main focus. I would want them to understand my child’s personality, I want them to understand the motivations and weaknesses of my child and I want them to work tirelessly to help my child achieve their “potential”. More about “potential” later.

In the day to day running of lessons in a secondary school I can assure you there is no way that I, as a teacher, am able to do my best for every pupil all the time. I teach classes of around 30 pupils for an hour at a time. Five classes a day means 150 pupils. All of whom we would like to think I work to improve their knowledge each day. The reality is nothing at all like that. Teachers are human. Pupils are human. Some days it’s all we can do to get through a lesson and get to the end of the day. Some days everything flows really well and we might consider we have done a good job. Some days it’s a heap of shit and you know you’ve done terrible and write that day off.

In the fixed period of time that exists in a lesson I can focus on a few pupils. There is no chance I can help all pupils to the same extent. You would like to think that I understand all of the weaknesses of the individuals and have the chance to boost them all through a lesson. But let’s look at this. I teach for around twenty to thirty minutes each lesson, longer in sixth form lessons. I then set some work, so by the time the pupils are actually doing something there might be twenty minutes of practice time. In that time I’m working to evaluate at the class level what they understood. The individual gets lost in that. I have, at most, thirty seconds to help an individual if they are all to be treated the same. This is just not going to happen.

I have conversations with parents where they ask what specific weaknesses their child has with a topic or subject. You honestly think I can keep a matrix in my head of which topics for which kid for around two hundred children? I might be special, mentally, but I am definitely not that special. That’s why we hand examinations back to pupils, so they can evaluate what they can do and what they can’t.

Parents want to know that I have every pupil’s progress in my main focus. While I can do that, kind of, sort of, it’s not as good as parents think. The government has policies which force me to focus on a few in class and consider their needs. It could be those at the top or it could be those at the bottom or it could be those with special needs. All of this energy is lost for the person in the middle. I honestly don’t think I can focus on all the groups the school policy forces me to.

Here’s the rub. Education comes down to the pupils. Humans are complicated lumps of sentient meat and having to focus every day for five hours a day is an impossibility. It’s hard work. Pupils don’t and can’t do that. They have to be teased and coaxed into working on school stuff. That’s all fine but with my subject as soon as you are a little behind the rest of everything is going to be a struggle. We change topics and move things around to spread out the types of work we do but in the grand scheme of things other factors are always a bigger influence on pupils that teachers in an individual lesson. This has been understood for many years. I don’t understand why it isn’t understood by government or most school management.

There may be some terrible teachers out there. In fact there are. I’ve worked with some. But you are always going to have a ten percent tail. They are always going to be there. You can’t really do anything about that tail. I know that schools pretty much hope that they leave at some point and go somewhere else. For me, my input to teaching relies on my energy levels and some times that’s high and others it’s low. I probably have a lower “fuck it” threshold that most, but then I think my lessons go OK and my pupils broadly do OK. Oh, OK is not an acceptable outcome. OK just means middling and so all lessons are meant to be excellent or something similar. Gone are the days when OK means OK. Being OK is fine for me, but then I’m not a manager.

POTENTIAL. This word gets bandied about as though all pupils have some lofty goals they should be aiming for. In reality it means fuck all. What happens if you reach your potential? Can you stop. Is “potential” a limiting factor? I absolutely hate that word in the education context. As a teacher I want pupils to do the best they can for the majority of the time. All while recognising that humans are complicated and sometimes this just doesn’t happen. That child has potential just means we think they have the capacity to learn a lot – more likely they have the capacity to get good examination results which isn’t always the same as learning. “Reach your potential” – I hate it.

The Secret

In ten years from your GCSEs no one is going to give a shit about what you got. They open doors initially but they don’t slam them shut for you. There are plenty of future opportunities to get where you want, you just need to find your motivation.

This is communication number 1941, so here are some things that happened that year:

  • An earthquake kills 1200 in Saudi Arabia.
  • The valley of geysers is discovered in Kamchatka.
  • The first British jet is flown.
  • A lot of pretty depressing holocaust stuff.

Tracking Information

The level of information we are given these days is quite impressive and the access we have to this stuns me sometimes. I’ve recently ordered something interesting from the USA, it’s a shooting aid and I’m curious to see how well it works. I had a message telling me it was posted and I was expecting delivery in a week or so, but it turns out it might arrive today and I’m quite excited if surprised. When I clicked on the link to see the tracking the information is quite impressive, although not really given the electronic scanning systems we have these days.

There’s a lovely level of information that makes me feel as though I am in the loop.

This is communication number 1940 and so here are some things that happened that year with little focus on the World War happening at that time:

  • 181 people killed in a train crash in Osaka, Japan.
  • Carbon 14 discovered.
  • First free flight of Sikorsky’s Helicopter.
  • The Lascaux cave paintings are discovered.
  • The Bears defeat Washington 73-0.

RAFAC NAC SYE

In a kind of desperation to be somewhere (anywhere) else along with missing all things aviation based I volunteered to spend some time in Lincolnshire helping staff the RAFAC National Aerospace Camp. This event had been running for about six years and it seemed a good opportunity to use my knowledge and skills along with networking and meeting people of note. There was a large length of time when it was unclear whether this would go ahead or in what form it could run, due to changing Covid-19 restrictions and decisions in the upper echelons of the management structure. In the end it was decided to make this camp non-residential and so cadets would arrive each day from a base, brought by their parents or coaches from Wing. I wasn’t needed all week as a newbie and so I spent just two days at the camp getting to know the people and organisation. It was also a chance to meet old friends, mainly TR, who I last saw at the Shawbury camp two years ago.

RAF College Cranwell
RAF College Cranwell

The main crew for the camp seem to stay at PWG but I volunteered to stay ay Cranwell for two reasons. One, I’m not important enough to be with the main crew and Two, I might be able to sneak into CHOM, finally, and stand on the carpet [old traditions]. It’s quite different going to a base when you’ve been on many compared with your first time. I knew my way around and knew where to park along with knowing shortcuts through the mess which is huge.

College Hall Officers' Mess, RAFC Cranwell
College Hall Officers’ Mess, RAFC Cranwell

The above picture is not where I was staying, I was in the effective transit mess called Daedalus Officers’ Mess. The above picture shows CHOM and I went in their with the other staff staying at RAF College Cranwell because there is a carpet you may only walk on once you have your commission. When I was first at Cranwell in 2014 I was not permitted near CHOM because there was a passing out parade that day and it was a busy area [it did mean there was a Reds flyover though]. On the Tuesday evening, once we had returned from Syerston, three of us wandered over to CHOM and were allowed to have a look around and get photographs of us on the carpet. The porter was very helpful and lovely.

CHOM, RAFC Cranwell
CHOM, RAFC Cranwell

So, I finally feel official. I’ve stood on the carpet and been in CHOM. I’ve completed my OIC, albeit somewhat delayed. I feel happy that I managed to do my OIC in person as recently staff have been doing them virtually and so won’t get the chance to stay in Daedalus or visit CHOM until they are fortunate enough to be staying close by on some event. It’s quite likely the RAF team I’m in will have a “team building” few days sometime to have a wander around the noisy places in Lincolnshire.

The Tuesday for me was mostly seeing how the camp worked along with a brief chat with the Camp Comm. I saw a talk with Serco where they show us various gliders and engines. I liked the engines, they were cutaway versions so I could see inside. I knew a fair bit of what was going on so I didn’t pay a huge amount of attention to the talk although I did chat with the engineer after the cadets and had some parts of the turbines explained.

RR Avon Compressor Blades
RR Avon Compressor Blades

Inside this hanger were loads of gliders and it looked as though they were the original stock from my days in the corps so I looked up my gliding log on this site. I was trying to spot an airframe that I had flown in and while walking along the line of “those yet to be maintained” I spotted one.

ZE585
ZE585

From this communication you can see that I’ve flown in 585 three times for around 28 minutes total. Not bad really. I do keep checking this site whenever I see an aircraft type that I know I’ve been in to see if it’s one of “mine”. Once outside we had a talk from a current glider pilot who also flew Tornados and he showed us around the two Tornados and the Tucano that were sitting on the pan.

Panavia Tornado GR4, RAF Syerston
Panavia Tornado GR4, RAF Syerston

I prefer the GR type of Tornado rather than the F type but I do have an image of the F type which is a rare one because it’s an F2 but fitted with F3 type engines and so the rear of the plane looks super stupid. But, I guess it worked. Lunch was provided by a field kitchen, and a fantastic job they did too, I was super impressed with the whole set up. In the afternoon I talked to people about PTT and how I can deliver that in my unit.

Wednesday was my final day at the camp, only here for two days if you remember and a chance to chat to people about PTT and also help with the car marshalling as parents were dropping cadets off in the base. It was nice to be involved and chat to new people. The main event for the camp was the Wednesday afternoon where a private airshow was organised and the bigwigs were invited to see what we do. There was an Air Marshall, the ACO Commandant and others. I just hung around with the few people I had go to know while my head slowly burned in the cloudy weather – we can’t wear lids on the airfield and we have to wear uniform so we can’t wear a baseball cap and I forgot my sunscreen.

On the ground was an Apache from Wattisham and a Juno from Shawbury. It was the actual Juno that I had flown in two years ago which was pretty cool. The flying display consisted of the Red Arrows, the Chinook [which also landed], a Spitfire, a Hurricane, the RAF Falcons, and finally the Typhoon.

Red Arrows - Head to Head
Red Arrows – Head to Head

I had wondered whether to use my camera a lot and possibly concentrate too much on getting the perfect picture or do I just watch and absorb the atmosphere. I chose to just take the odd picture here and there on my phone. It was a really chilled out atmosphere and a good chance to chat to plenty of people. The Red Arrows performed their “rolling display” because the cloud cover was pretty low. The BBMF aircraft were impressive for their age and the Chinook was very – how the hell do you make it do that? I really wanted to see the Typhoon because – NOISE. I though even the nine jets of the Reds were quiet. Maybe it’s growing up under a flightpath that means not a lot bothers me.

Red Arrows, RAF Syerston
Red Arrows, RAF Syerston

I was on marshalling duties when the Typhoon display took place. So I was an extra 800m away from the display centre and, while slightly disappointed, I still had a good view. I was basically in charge of keeping the parents calm and in the car park as the Typhoon display was delayed slightly by technical issues. When this thing did arrive the noise made me very happy as the first minute or two is at 100 power and full reheat. You know it’s loud when you can’t talk to the person next to you. It was brilliant and well worth driving through the bloody Dartford tunnel to see. I had a really good time at Syerston and made some good contacts. I’m looking forward to returning next year.

Hmmm, this is communication number 1939. So, in keeping with tradition I write a few things that happened in that year, I’m going to avoid the obvious:

  • 30,000 killed in earthquake in Chile.
  • Borley Rectory is destroyed by fire.
  • Lina Medina gave birth aged FIVE, I mean, WTF?
  • A passenger air service starts between USA and UK.
  • 32,700 people die in earthquake in Turkey.

Me And Twitter – It’s Complicated

Many years ago I can remember opening a Twitter account to try and follow Formula 1 stuff as it kept being mentioned on the telecasts. I knew I wasn’t really into social media and had avoided Faceshit before then. I only kept that account open for a few days before shutting it down as I knew it was a rabbit hole I didn’t really want to enter. Not long later I had another go and got into Twitter. A while later I then decided to have a second Twitter account so I could follow all the stuff I was interested in while keeping one account for close friends and stuff I really wanted to see. Back in those days I definitely used Twitter as a distraction, a thing to look at now and then and while away some time, a thing for finding information and following the news.

I think I was reasonably happy with the system. I could see what friends were saying on one account and follow all the shit on another so I had it all nicely organised. Then. 2016 happened. In terms of a crock of shit year 2016, I think, still rates as the worst I’ve experienced. The lies and propaganda spread for the two big plebiscites that year really got to me. It was when I realised that this country [UK] is full of people who are a “little bit racist”. Actually, most of the things that have happened since that vote also confirm that the majority of people in this country are a “little bit racist”. Then, there was the presidential election in the USA where citizens of that country proved that they are definitely “quite a lot racist”. The comments and commentary on Twitter slowly got to me emotionally. There always seemed to be shit happening and people would jump on to make comments and yet, when I listened to the news on the radio, these things weren’t mentioned.

Twitter and other social media sites seem to spend too much time reacting against things rather than actually consider them. There is an instantaneous effect where rage flies around and then the storm dissipates quickly enough. I got caught up in this and it did not help my mental health to be confronted with all that confrontation. I eventually made the decision to get rid of my “other people” account and keep the personal account. This stopped me looking at all the shit that people decided to commentate on. I haven’t had Twitter on my phone for quite a while as I got into some trouble at work following a tweet at the beginning of the current pandemic. I’m still not sure whether that tweet should have got me in trouble and I ponder that a lot, trying to work out my responsibilities.

A part of me would like to remove myself completely from Twitter. But, it is too ingrained in this website. Every communication I write tweets a thing out to let the world know there is new content. There are also a large number of links within this site that go to Twitter along with quite a few embeds. So, in the interests of sanity in keeping this site working I won’t be shutting down the Twitter account. I only comment on Twitter now and then. I use it to keep track of my current #roundtheworldtrip in X-Plane. Twitter is with me now, but I only look at it once a week or so in normal working times and so I feel mentally stable with that relationship.

See my Twitter feed on this site.

This is communication number 1935, there are reasons here, this is what happened in that year:

  • There’s a coup attempt in Greece.
  • The king of Siam abdicates.
  • The north American Texan first flies.
  • Air Mail from San Francisco to Hong Kong.

The Years Thing

I’ve taken to writing a few things about what happened in each year of the same number as the communication that I post. I’m can only vaguely remember why I started this and I will do my best to explain. I also want to give some reasoning to point out that I’m not a complete shit and quite respective of other cultures [generally].

Quite a while ago the number of communications written for this site was a question in a quiz at work. I was somewhat surprised that people cared enough to try and create a question based on what I write but you should also be warned that a lot of flattery is just used sarcastically. Anyway, I started adding the odd tweet after a communication tweet just saying what number those words were.

I think I might have started doing some “year” things way back in communications 1660 or so as it seemed that a lot was happening around the world that time and maybe I should just add it as a feature of this site. I think I gave up. I’m not sure what happened and I’m not even sure how long ago I was writing those communications. FYI I’m also considering shortening “communication” to Comms but that just feels wrong at the moment. I made a conscious choice to call these things communications and so I should continue to use my own terminology.

Recently I have been heading to communication number 2000 and so I wanted to make sure that I mark that with the respect that is suitable and required. Also, I wanted to mark some of the things in history that I feel people might not know. Most of the things I have written at the bottom of my verbiage aren’t going to be the most famous events that people seem to know. I have deliberately chosen particular happenings that I think tell a story or give some ideas of the human sacrifice to get us to this point.

The things I chose to write at the end of each communication are what I find interesting. I’m trying to point out the tragedies, the hard fought rights, the little things that show just how terrible and horrible we are as a species to our fellow people. Once of the things I have learnt in the short period that I’ve been doing this the amount that countries/governments/organisations have changed over a short period of time. In the early 1900s as I am now the “west” are still carving up Africa and the Middle East along with massive political changes in the far east. It’s quite amazing really. I wonder if growing up in the relative stability of the Cold War gave me a false sense of security with the political organisation of the world. As I write this Afghanistan is going to shit, again.

There is quite an issue with dealing with what year it is. I am using the calendar of the “common era” or at least the one that most of the world agrees to use to cope with organising business. I do not endorse that particular calendar or any other. Many cultures use different calendar systems and as explained in this podcast the casual use of language can really exclude or affect many people.

So, here we go with a few things that happened in 1932 [according to the common calendar].

  • The Anglican church bans the church re-marriage of divorced people.
  • Johnny Weissmuller first stars as Tarzan. I write this as those films were such a part of my childhood and I now suspect they are hugely problematic!
  • WW1 veterans march on Washington DC to claim money they are owed – clearly Govt gives very few shits about the human cost of imperialism and armies.
  • A hurricane kills around 2500 in Cube.

The Last Letter From Your Lover

After finally recycling all the crap from my garden at the Cuxton dump I went to the cinema at Rochester [not in Rochester, actually in Strood] to see The Last Letter From Your Lover. I noted the state of the tide as I drove to the car park and it was middling, I didn’t know whether it was going in or out but after the film it was definitely close to high tide, so now we know. After seeing the film I rated it on IMDB and then tweeted the result, there’s a whole system to all of that explained in this communication.

I almost didn’t go and see this film. I parked the car and pondered whether I actually wanted to see a romance film and I nearly went home to “waste” a few hours in the current Minecraft world that I have. But, I was here and I won’t have a chance to get to the cinema for a while so I decided it was going to be a positive experience. Upon entering the theatre I scanned the crowd [about 30 people] and I think I was the only man in the room – oh well. I’ve seen other films like that, when there’s been people not like me and me and I coped.

I enjoyed this film. It was a perfectly good piece of artwork and was a pleasant watch. While driving back home I was reminded of my maternal grandmother who went to the cinema quite a bit and she would have enjoyed this film. I remember chatting to her about a film she had seen once and she said it was a good film but there wasn’t the need for all the bad language. She wasn’t that much into swearing which was probably a generational thing? I swear a lot.

This film was focussed on the relationship between two couples spread over time and it was a kind of “love triumphs over all” message. I’m not sure I would have had that as my overall message, I’m not sure that’s a particularly healthy thing for people to think. I don’t think people should dwell too much on lost loves and I don’t believe in “true love”. I tend to think it’s just chemicals and we aren’t “destined” to be with someone, and we aren’t “soul mates” with anyone. I do understand emotional attachment though.

So, here’s my thing: for me the issue with this film was the inequality in relationships that has existed in societal expectations and the Law over the years. We see the 1960s couple at dinner and the MAN tells the wife basically to shut up with her intelligent ideas because she can’t know these things, she’s just a pretty woman. We see this couple argue over divorce and the law and society was so anti-female in those days that really I would make more of this in the film. I have massive issues with inequality that has existed over time and still does exist in our current society. I guess we kind of hope we are the best that we can be but just look around at how people are treated and you’ll see that it’s all a work in progress and sometimes that progress is negative.

Anyway, it’s a nice film. As this is communication number 1921 here’s what happened then:

  • The Jaffa riots kill about 100 people.
  • The province of Northern Ireland is created.
  • Between 100 and 300 people are killed in the Tulsa Race Riots.
  • Russian famine begins. 5,000,000 die.