Monthly Archives: July 2011

Long Multiplication #Method 1

There may be 15 more of these to go…

This is a popular one with some of my learners at the moment.

Variously described as the Lattice/Matrix/Medieval Method.

Boston, Lincs.

The Fattest Town in Britain.
The Flattest Town in Britain.
Boasting the *Lowest Standard of Education in Lincolnshire.
Where I started school
(Finky Wink finished for me).
She made the journey
From the Pilgrim Hospital
To Boston High School
A short trip, in either direction.
Site of a fatal industrial estate
With an alleged, exploding, illegal still
And home to St Botolph’s Church, 1, Wormgate
AKA The Stump
Which landlocked John Clare **climbed, that time
For his one lifelong view of the sea:
The Wash.

*Source: Wikipedia – of course
** I followed in his footsteps once, before they closed it, I don’t remember the sea

The Stump - 272 feet

I was thinking…

that a bit later on today I should mosey on down to the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee and give a bit of dubious evidence, and then do the decent thing and resign.

The arrogance of News International does not surprise me. We are back to the laws of physics and my old favourite – entropy. The more closed the system, the more potential for rapidly increasing and bewilderingly varied disarray. It always happens eventually; it is entirely inescapable, whatever you do and whomsoever you are.

I am back to my eggs and my omelette – whether we are currently in the cracked shell phase or deep in the heat of the pan only time will tell. One thing’s for certain: David Cameron is the requisite cheese.

*puts pan under the grill*

A monumental riff on Freedom

Rarely, in fact never, do I wish I had written something that I read, until now.

In these days, I find I struggle to fashion my own half-formed thoughts at all.
Then, serendipitously, my path crosses that of an amazing woman, Jay Griffiths, who has done a much better job of thinking my own mash-up thoughts than I ever could. In these days, at least, and probably at most too.

Enjoy, and William Wallace – eat your Hollywood woadface heart out.

From ‘Wild: An Elemental Journey’ by Jay Griffiths

The demand for freedom is universal and political, but also intensely personal, and one which can require courage to follow. It can mean loneliness, penury, humiliation, for we live in a world where the caged hate the free. Raw freedom hurls you terror and wonder, writes its ruthless poems in your life. Freedom, uncathedralable, despises any orthodoxy, for its path sweeps lonely to the summit, no map, no guide, no god at your heels.

Do you have the courage for it? Do I? For its pyrotechnics and its unforgiving, for its gambling; the peak or crevasse? Ace or two? If you want to play safe, you should never have come up here, to the site of freedom for both political and social rebels, the freedom of the mad and manic and misunderstood, the misfits and artists, anarchists and poets.

Freedom is not the opposite of Necessity but itself an implacable, electric and sudden necessity: an apparent paradox but the only one which leaves the human spirit intact. There is no compromise. Freedom is not polite. It doesn’t knock or telephone first. Its slams its hand down on your desk and says Dance – as the mad fiddler, his fingers bleeding on the strings, plays an elegy at the speed of a reckless waltz till the sky breaks down in tears.

Freedom is absolutist. “I so love freedom,” wrote Montaigne, “that if someone forbade me access to the remotest corner of the Indies I should feel myself a little hemmed in.” Modern, urban, work-oriented societies teach people that freedom is something you outgrow, like Huck Finn, rafting down the river, shining, fluent and free before he is dammed by adulthood. Our innate freedom is dulled and dimmed, deadened and demeaned by detail and deadline and caution and clocks. But roaring underneath all this, still, freedom growls in the dusk. Freedom is because life is, and to be most alive is to be most free.

Strange that


Caning the chalk
Save tonight and fight the break of dawn
Sings the streets a serenade

Artistic endeavour
Blue dust blowing in the wind
Adverts Kill

To a little girl called Delilah
By the crush barrier

Mapping Meaning

The Bellman’s Map.

If you cannot know where you’re going, then be sure you never travel without it.

In the 1980s, I met a cartographer in Swindon. He must have been lost.

The Rothko Chapel

All of it…

The way home from school

An old woman, skinny in a patterned dress. I’m no patternist, but this is not a dress I’d choose. It falls into the category of one that I might see, somewhere, on a charity shop clothes rail, by accident, and think:

What kind of a mind designed that?

Just like all those twisted patterns that foul municipal upholstery and carpeting…

She wears the dress, she sits in her wheelchair. It’s at the threshold of her front door. Any further and she’d take a tumble down the step, perhaps crash into the gate, onto the pavement in a heap. But for now, the brakes must be on, and she’s fagging it.

A window cleaner is up the ladder, pot belly pressed against the glass. He chats to another woman, she’s bright red hair. Not ginger, but blood-red. Although I happen to know that sometimes blood is not at all red. In fact, it can be orange. I saw that once from an old lady’s cracked head outside Boots the Chemist, where she’d fallen. The thin skin had broken and the thinner orange blood trickled onto the pavement. There was no ambulance.

Back to the fag. She’s not listening to the blood-red-head, or the pot-bellied-cleaner who is squeegeeing. I’ve seen this wheelchair woman before. I look at her, to check.

Still no leg.

The arrow of time

in physics, is forward moving, linear.

It governs why we can make an omelette with eggs, but never an egg out of an omelette: the arrow of time is irreversible. But, mysteriously, within that total irreversibility of forward-moving time, lie totally reversible physical processes.

As humans, we collude with the arrow of time, mainly living lives in a linear fashion. But not always. Within us, is the possibility of living off that track. It happens sometimes; we stop thinking about the next thing on the list of our day and we start to inhabit our world in a more lateral way, taking up space and time, backwards, forwards, *up, down and all around too.

And when we come to consider things, people and events should we try to discard the driving linear force of the arrow of time, and perhaps try to apply a more holistic appraisal of the possibilities of our very three-dimensional lives, lived in a remarkably non-linear fashion.

*see Whitney Houston’s song ‘Million Dollar Bill’, a denomination surely possible with the arrow of time and current inflation.

Entropy: something undeniable and impossible to contain, or write about, unless you are a scientist.


Suits a rainy day,perhaps a sunny one too.

Comes with a folk fiddle warning for those of a sensitive disposition.