July 2018

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The year is flashing by at a truly alarming speed. It seems only a short while since we were all moaning about it getting dark half way through the afternoon and being freezing cold. Now, we are enjoying days lazing about in locations like the picture above: Llyn Crafnant (Lake Garlic Valley). And we are currently basking in an almost Mediterranean summer.

Anyway, that’s enough of the weather.

Don’t forget my Web Site.

I can’t let July pass without announcing that I have now become a grandad. Of limited interest to anyone reading this but a pretty big deal for me and Marynan. A beautiful little boy named Freddie. Strange to think that there is every chance that the little feller will see in the next century. He’ll be eighty one but I expect that will be the new forty by then. In fact, the way technology is advancing, there’s every chance that my consciousness will fit onto a flash drive by the time I’m ready to go. Then some bastard will record a vintage episode of Bottom Live over me (no names, no pack drill).

I like the Welsh flag. Maybe because I’m a boy and I grew up liking dragons. But then, girls like dragons now, don’t they? All that stuff from Dragonslayer to Game of Thrones. Being a lover of  dragons is no longer the male preserve that it once was. But there’s DSC04284another thing about the Welsh flag, it doesn’t seem to stir feelings of blind nationalism in the way that the English flag does. And I know, there’s plenty of nationalism in Wales; I remember the Meibion Glyndwr arson attacks in the late seventies, but the Welsh flag has never been hijacked by raving, right-wing extremists in the way that the cross of St George has been (despite George been a Greek from either Turkey or Syria who served in the Roman army). I love England. I love it’s countryside; it’s literature; it’s music; it’s tolerance (what’s left of it). But the rise in extreme nationalism that we are currently witnessing depresses me deeply. From the Poppy Police to the raving Brexiteers, we have become intolerant of any criticism of our nation. The thing is, I don’t need a token minute’s silence once a year or a paper flower to remember how my grandfathers, along with their teenage mates, were shot, blown-up and gassed in the trenches. Rarely a day goes by without me thinking about those guys. And they did all that to stop right wing nationalism and hatred. They would be destroyed by the way things are going. Rather than celebrate their sacrifice, the actions of the far right cancels them out. They needn’t have bothered.

Yeah, dragons, I think that’s what this is all about.

My first experience with dragons (apart from Puff the magic one who I met on two separate occasions under very different circumstances) would be Idris from Ivor the Engine. There was also Grolliffe from Noggin the Nog, another Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin creation. They both started around the time I was born and ran until I was DSC04289around seven or eight. Ivor was then revived and new episodes made in the mid seventies and Noggin reappeared in seventy nine, just a year before I became a dad myself. I got to relive those formative years of four hundred and five blurry lines on a cathode ray tube with Oliver’s strangely evocative voice taking you through the story line. Now, watching that stuff on YouTube makes me long for simpler times. A more innocent existence. I highly recommend watching either Ivor or Noggin, and I would suggest sticking to the black and white episodes because, once you’re past the fairly simplistic stop-motion animation, you will find yourself immersed in a world that you just don’t want to leave.

I would also recommend Pugwash but that’s filthy.

And back to the technology theme that appears to be emerging, when the system of four hundred and five lines was launched in nineteen thirty six it was called ‘high definition’. It shouldn’t be a surprise that when anything is sold to us we are always told that it is of the highest quality. But that’s not really the case any more, is it? I mean, technology has undoubtedly leaped forward at aDSC04318 breathtaking pace with smart-phones and smart televisions and smart motorways (that send us speeding fines once every few months – that’s definitely progress) but generally, as things get cleverer, the quality is somehow left behind. We now have organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs) that create TVs with a billion colours, and yet most content is watched on old iPhones or Androids. I buy 5:1 surround sound Blu Ray discs for music and play them on a sound system that nearly bankrupted us; they sound utterly amazing, and yet the vast majority of music that is listened to is downloaded as an MP3 file. That is a system that strips away most of the content and produces a track that is eleven times smaller than even a normal CD. That is a lot of loss. It’s done in a careful manner taking the very top and very bottom of the frequency range and dropping the sample rate and some folks can barely hear the difference, but that’s because they’re listening to it on crap devices and through crap speakers. We might as well go back to four oh five lines and cassette tapes.

I included a quality picture of a quality can of cider in front of a quality view, just to show how I roll (whatever that means).

And that’s something else, isn’t it? Pictures. Photographs. Things were jogging along quite nicely with digital cameras replacing the old SLRs. In fact, there are now fabulous digital DSC04293SLRs on the market and a glance at the Facebook site ‘Pictures of Sheffield Old and New’ will give you a taste of what can be achieved with these. Even the trusty point and shoot varieties have improved out of all measure with pixels in excess of six million being relatively common now. I use a Sony DSC-HX60V, something in between a point and shoot and an SLR. Twenty four point four mega pixels and I also have manual settings available (though not as many as the old HX50V). It even has a thirty times zoom. I can get a pretty good shot of the moon and deal with most situations whilst swotting up on everything I forgot once I left my old Olympus OM10 behind. And yet, and yet…! Despite this massive improvement in the quality of cameras, most photos are shot on a phone through a tiny lens thereby giving absolutely no depth of field or genuine quality. They’re clear enough, sure, but they’re a long way from what even my old Olympus could do. And then they are stored on social media in a file the fraction of the original size. Lost information, again.

The photo above was taken on my HX60V. Four lovely glasses of fizz on a beautiful sunny day in the Welsh village of Trefriw.

Iechyd da!


Did I mention my Web Site?