Surprisingly still alive: no 2
Now 83, he’s still presenting the monthly Sky at Night which has to be the most unpolished, cheaply made and wonderful programme on British Telly. I usually understand only about a third of it but never fail to be impressed with some new fact or revelation. The ultimate geek, even before geeks were invented, he has always managed to combine a thorough mastery of his material and a delightful sense of fun. He met Orville Wright, Neil Armstrong and accompanied Albert Einstein’s violin playing on the piano. He’s anti fox hunting too which makes him OK in my book. On April 26th next year the Sky at Night will be 50. I do so hope that Patrick will be presenting that night. I wonder if monocles will ever be fashionable again?
Comprehensive resume here.
Archive for October, 2006
Surprisingly still alive: no 2
We’re all doooooooommed.
How much CO² are you pumping out?
Surprisingly still alive: no 1
Now nearly 80 and still presenting Brain of Britain on Radio 4. I thought he’d carked it years ago. He is the quintessential old school boffin TV quizmaster and sports a mean combover. Still sounds exactly the same as he ever did. Sounds like he’d give you detention for not having a sharp enough pencil. They need to make a detailed cult documentary of this national institution and soon.
I’ve been investigating the dog scene in Athens. There are large numbers of feral muts all over the city. They are not the scrawny looking strays you might normally expect to find in urban areas. No, they are great lumbering hounds that look pretty well cared for. Most wear collars and seem to be at ease with people. They can be seen wandering around all areas of the city during the day and night and often sleep wherever they choose during the hot days. I saw one pair that had decided to doss down in the gutter of one of the main roads around Syntagma Square. [ Imagine two dogs asleep in the road on Trafalgar Square and you get the picture ]. Reading around on the web, it seems that the stray ‘problem’ in Athens dates from around ten years ago when most of the municipal dog pounds throughout Greece closed due to fear of prosecution for mistreatment of animals. In 2004 with the Olympic Games approaching, the city decided that packs of dogs wandering the streets was not a good look and so they rounded them up, shipped them out of the city for a few weeks, fed and spruced them up. They were neutered and then returned to where they came from once the Games were over. Rumours abounded that large numbers had been poisoned but these were denied. I got the impression that the street dogs are like communal pets. People feed them and leave water out for them. They seem to be great characters and certainly do add an extra dimension to street life. I happen to like dogs and found it pretty charming to see them lounging around amidst the ruins or posing outside the parliament. I can see that some might feel differently but somehow the city would be the lesser without these doggy dudes. Following are a few photos I snapped on my travels. You can see over 600 similar shots here.
The Greek Animal Welfare Society [ ARGOS ] – has more information and an adopt a stray campaign.
Think of this as the Feta salad for the main course which will be served up in the next few days.
1. The Athens metro is clean, on time and inexpensive to use – why can’t we do this?
2. The Athenian Acropolis may be a cliche but it transcends this as an inspirational marvel of human achievement.
3. Greek people are friendly, relaxed and know how to enjoy life.
4. Athenian food is – wonderful.
5. Tourism is a mainstay of the Greek economy but there are certain negative touristic issues which should be addressed.
6. Something has gone badly wrong with Athenian architecture – a civilisation that could produce sublime classical marvels now lives in a concrete nightmare.
7. The general standard of coffee is very bad indeed.
8. The general standard of snacks is rather marvellous – we like Greek snacks very much indeed.
9. There is a whole dog scene that I need to find out more about.
10. I want to go back.
It appears the interweb only works in Greece on days that have an odd number. And there has to be an astronomical alignment at the Temple of Zeus. Today is just such a day – so I thought I’d better get posting before the planets shift again. The picture above was taken earlier next to the Temple. The modern Greeks prefer to worship the car and they like to do it most around 5pm simultaenously at the same time time all together. I’ve had such a jolly time in Athens and there a few tales to tell. Must try to fit those in some time this week. Just off now for a spot of last minute alfresco indulgence before Stelios sends his big orange taxi to pick me up.
I’m in Athens for a few days and I’ve discovered that they have the interweb here now. Although it doesn’t seem to allow you to connect to any non-Greek sites apart from Blogger [ or maybe that's Greek and nobody told me ]. So I can post [ I think ] but I can’t read my own blog or any comments on it. So this should be interesting. It’s 11pm in the UK but I’m writing this in the middle of the night here. After a high security flight I arrived to find that the state of the art metro appeared to be on strike. This obliged me to board the Cattle Bus from Hell to get into the city from the airport. There’s nothing like having a Greek granny’s armpit in your face for 45 minutes – as a jampacked maniacally driven bus careers along the Olympic Highway – to give a truly flavoursome introduction to the cradle of western civilisation. I’m staying in a seedy part of town. What else did you expect? There is a midnight convention of vagrants in progress up the road as I write. They seem to be gearing up for a pitched battle with the hooker collective round the corner. I may take some clandestine photos from the balcony if it kicks off. Or I may not.
Tomorrow, I become the tourist at large. There are ruins to be seen. But I don’t know how to communicate with the locals. I’ve already been miming to the hotel receptionist. He looked worried when I tried to simulate plugging in an internet connection cable. He threw a handful of computer manuals at me and stood as far back from the counter as he could. I’ve looked at the manuals and am still none the wiser; it’s all Greek to me.
I was interested to hear, today, of the man that was fined for putting the wrong kind of rubbish into his recycling bag, allegedly. His local council seem far stricter than my local council when it comes to enforcing compliance with rubbish rules. In Swansea you can be fined for leaving your rubbish out a day before collection day. In Bignjuicyville, it seems, you can leave your rubbish out whenever you like and wherever you like. For the past six months a bloke down the road has been leaving piles of smelly rubbish bags all over the pavement every week on random days of his choosing. The Bignjuicy Council seem more interested in steam cleaning the chewing gum from the pavement outsde the Town Hall than prosecuting Mr Rubbish for his crimes against cleansing. Interesting how different standards apply not just within different towns but between towns. I wonder how that works? What do you have to do to ensure a good standard of local street cleanliness?
Who, for good or ill, has had the greatest influence on the way you see the world?
[ anonymous answers allowed ]
Slacker than John Prescott’s gusset after a night on the pies – that’s been me this week blogwise. I hasten to add that otherwise, I’ve been as taught as Gordon Brown’s thong. [Hold that image] What with unexpected job offers [ at last the word is out - I'm available and I give great service ], putting up with the shenanigans of existing clients as well as taking time out to see Modigliani’s elongated efforts. It’s tough at the top. A month without telly and I am feeling strangely happier at the moment. Admittedly the weather has been superb. I can’t remember such beautiful balmy days and scintillating light this late in the year. Admittedly my perspective on life continues to shift to a much healthier domain [ www.orgasmobrain.com ] , the more distant I become from my former ‘career’. Admittedly I’ve been busy busy with no time to sit around comtemplating my nether nether regions. But I think that not-having-a-telly has genuinely improved my state of mind. It’s something to do with, I think, not allowing disconnected people, whom you will never know and care little about. Remote egos who are not aware of your existence, other than that you are one of faceless millions watching them. Not allowing these people to sap your will to live with their relentless stream of ‘entertainment’ which is just so much chewing gum for the underutilised regions of my brain. This, I think, is why I’ve felt happier. So today I went and bought a new telly. It’s all her fault.