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Brittania: Resurgemus!

Being a global citizen is simply a matter of being British. To succeed in the world, act British. Discuss.

I am British (you guessed already), quite specifically born 1959 English in Cambridge, UK. That has shaped a lot of my outlook. Post-war (WW2) post-Empire post-Cold-War and brought up with and amidst USAF people stationed in the UK at the time of the moon-landings. Add in 44 years of UK EU membership and travelling Europe extensively in my twenties. Those factors and an enquiring mind have given me a somewhat international outlook.

Here we used to look to the USA for the wow factor. Europe was a bit exotic too. We Brits felt a sense of great history and entitlement, technological, cultural and military superiority. Now we look to China for wow factor and wonder what our trade, prosperity, ease of travel and future will be. Yet, I feel my country will ultimately benefit from the forthcoming Brexit shock to make it strive again to be the exciting prosperous place it has shown in the past it can be.

Mine is the country that did the industrial revolution, invented the internet, jet engine, railways, maglev trains and phones, designed the mallard, spitfire, e-type, harrier, mini, miniskirt and half of Concorde and the channel tunnel, as well as giving the world Shakespeare, the best translation of the Bible into English (partly by Shakespeare) and at least half of pop music. I want us to put the Great back into Great Britain so it not just the geographic descriptor for these islands.

This is I feel, necessarily about us as individuals. I am too small to steer history in any meaningful way whatsoever and nor do I seek to, but I can still be a butterfly wing beating out fractal consequences, cheerleading and hoping for a nascent hurricane. I define myself as and enjoy being a global citizen and urge my fellow Brits to delight in being multicultural, outward-looking and to play and shine on the stage that is the world.

I watch La Tour, support the Baltimore Orioles, listen William Gibson audiobooks, wear a Mondaine Swiss watch (or “for best” my 1942 limited edition Juvenia), cheer England in the world cup, suck a Ricola, enjoy a McDonalds breakfast (still miss the old Big Breakfast), drive a (unique special edition – one-only OEM) Smart car, listen to (South African) Kaya FM, work for a global construction consultancy headquartered in North America with internationally known architects, read Monocle, Flipboard and Cool Hunting, watch Paul Begley, New China TV, SerpentZA and Naomi Sexy Cyborg, on my many different Apple, Windows and Android devices of course. I sponsor two children in Kenya and enjoy Scandinavian, French and German TV crime dramas. I dance Tango and listen to Jazz and Classical from everywhere. I eat British, Indian, Chinese, North-African, Middle-Eastern, American, Thai, Polynesian, Spanish, French, German, Dutch and Italian food. I like root beer, British, green Sencha and Macha, Moroccan mint and lemon tea, coffee, beers, lagers, really fine French wines (Margaux), the very best Scottish single malt whiskies, Swedish Vodka and that French café speciality La Bomba (Cognac in hot chocolate). I snack on corn chips, pretzel sticks, and peanut puffs. I love merguez, belly pork, falafel and Singapore fried rice. For chocolate probably Rittersport tops it. I am a born-again Christian helping construct a mosque designed by a Jew, sponsored by Turks, fabricated and assembled by Swiss, Irish and Greek people.

Almost everything in my homeland’s culture including food, language and genetics result from us invading others or others invading (or trying to invade) us – mutual assimilation. We are perfect mongrels on a just-enough-isolated island that has made us fiercely independent seafarers, traders, invaders, exploiters, explorers, colonisers and conquerors. Romans, Saxons, Angles, Vikings, Normans, the Crusades, the Empire, the Napoleonic, two World Wars and numerous other wars have made us rich, strong and diverse. Our history is certainly not all noble but the result is incontrovertible. To me Jamaican is a very British accent, curry is a typical British dish, American English is just an old Elizabethan accent, the best bridge in France was designed by one of my countrymen and so were all those lovely Apple computers. Brits are the Borg – we assimilate everything. If we invade you when we eventually leave we take all you had that was good and leave you our language and culture which is also quite good, if you invade us we assimilate your language and culture and eventually you simply become us.

It is however not now simply about looking back, sitting on laurels and past glories – those things past are just examples of what we are capable of time and again at every point in our history, I believe because the psychosocial identity we share as a nation. Right now we are the financial capital of the world and we will not let the EU steal that. We lead in satellites and are global players in aerospace, defence (defense), energy, biotech, physics, pharma and have Oxford and Cambridge amongst our universities. We are a nuclear power and sit on the UN Security Council. We are the fifth or sixth largest economy on the planet (argue amongst yourselves while we make more money by inventing insurance – oh we already did that). We will play every advantage we have. We will no longer be contained and constrained by a couple of rich old rivals in Europe keeping us from competing with them too well by getting us to pay for all the poor countries they have appended.

I notice that Britain never really got the Marshall Plan money after WWII – our share was more than cancelled out by lend-lease war debts to the USA. How convenient. Europe and Japan got all the help, then as we started to get out of the economic dip we got lured into the EC. A very good way for competing economies to keep us down post-Empire (I think they were scared of our capacity to dominate the world and conspired to keep us down to their advantage). Imperial competition between Britain and German led to WWI and on to WWII. The Japan-US Pacific conflict of WWII was also a trade war. The USA wanted to be the next empire, economically if not territorially, so keeping the UK away from the money and playing Europe and Japan made sense. Getting the EU to mop up Eastern Europe post USSR was also a cheap way for the USA to counter Russia. Britain has been paying a good bit of that bill for a long time. That era has ended. Europe is falling apart. America is receding, China is rising. India is a player too. Africa is the next sleeping giant and China already can see it. It is time for a newly free from the EU Britain to carve its own path again. Not the old path, although strangely there is a tiny little space for a new British Empire in there – countries in our Commonwealth that might ask for a really close relationship with us in return for stability and protection from terrorising neighbours – much as China is subtly offering some African states already. So something new, something better, something great. An international multicultural future beckons.

The future belongs to the brave, so confidence is all important. On the past 2000 years’ form – taking the long view – I think have every reason to be confident.

I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips, Straining upon the start.
(Shakespeare’s Henry V, Act III)

FREEDOM COUNTDOWN

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Disappearing Market Street, Cambridge UK

“Trollbeads” the very idiosyncratic jewellery (faux) Art Nouveau-fronted shop is no longer there. Perhaps the lovely shop front will be retained if the unit can be let, although the number of empty shops even in prosperous Cambridge centre is now quite scary – feels like 5%. It is true that Main Street / The High Street shopping is dying as clicks overtake bricks – sad and horrible, because “going shopping” is something fun to do even if one is only “window shopping.” Therein of course lies the problem.

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Gormley @ Kettles Yard (Cambridge UK)

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http://www.kettlesyard.co.uk/events/antony-gormley-subject/

Do this one if you can. This gallery is so aesthetically and architecturally well-curated it is almost too much off a good thing. As engineering, Gormley’ installations, as his sculptures of necessity are, impress. Floating man, warp speed space cube thing, laser-like representations of the three dimensions. This is a very nice couple of hours in a very well-manicured corner of Cambridge. Gormley never fails to entertain. Sure he does all the arty philosophical deep semiotic sociological psychobabble stuff, but he cannot do other than entertain. A welder-showman building big dippers for folks’ heads to ride. As a tanguero might put it, “This is serious fun.”

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The floating baby on the gallery’s toilet sign seems strangely prescient today…

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All pictures in this blog article are photographs Copyright 2018 by me kevintangodance,  of works created by the artist Antony Gormley and displayed at Kettles Yard Gallery. None of the images in this article/webpage/blog post may be used without my permission. All Rights Reserved.

Firefox irony painful time-waste

Installed firefox (on MacOS 10.13.5), pressed all the keep-going next next next buttons stuff as per the usual just get-started-won’t-you-I’m-dying-of-old-age-here-for-heaven’s-sake programme of set-up dross. Finally reached a lovely mozilla screen that firefox says is insecure. Uninstall. Time-wasters. Talk about rejecting your parents LOL.

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GastonoME Bury St.Edmunds, UK

The popular and chic GastonoME bistro in Bury St.Edmunds, UK has just relocated to larger premises on the fashionable Abbeygate Street.

Bury (as it is known locally) is a fine and fashionable market town with a wide range of private individual businesses such as jewellers and boutiques, a large Saturday market and a good selection of national chainstores including Debenhams and M&S. There are are also extensive historic public gardens. It’s perfect for a sunny summer Saturday. There is also a great arts venue and a gallery with music and art festivals regularly held. Pay a visit if you want a more relaxed alternative to crowded Cambridge.

I took my wife to GastronoME in Bury for a spot of Saturday lunch and was suitably impressed. We had always liked the ambience and high quality food of GastronoME’s original venue, and they have translated it perfectly into their more accommodating premises. The cafe was crying out to be upgraded to something more spacious and the new situation is spot on.

The design at the new property has the right blend of quirky je ne sais quoi and a reassuringly practical layout that compliments circulation, sight-lines and comfort. The food quality is quite simply 5-Star and the service and friendliness of the proprietor Michael and his staff is second to none. They really do have the savoire-faire to produce a sociable and convivial eating experience that will bring you back. The menu is pitch-perfect, not over-reaching itself, being mettre au point to an accessible modernity that still respects your pocketbook. Chic, yummy, and good for palates of every age.

No one has asked me to write this or paid me in any way for doing so at any point. I just like to share what I find is good with you.

They are good so they will get busy. Do use the booking form on their website at https://www.gastrono-me.co.uk

 

 

Ghosts of Mill Road, Cambridge UK

I was born in Mill Road, Cambridge UK. I remember Mum taking me to buy clothes at Barneys shop when I was a boy about 50 years ago. It closed down some years ago, but recently they stripped it back to the concrete, and there is the outline of the old sign still there over the entrance. The Penguin “American” Laundry still there, has been running as long as I can remember.

If you are an old Cantabrigian like me, enjoy.

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New Mac – old story

Oh dear, the new Mac Pro desktop is a lovely machine. No really it is and I would be happy to have one if I had silly amounts of extra cash and actually needed something that can do all that the new Mac can  However, the advertising for it is stuck in the usual hidden-in-plain sight satanic imagery rut that nearly everything is subjected to these days. Yeah, I know, its a sign of the times.

Demons erupt from someone’s body, tentacles come out of a book, freemasonry style platonic solids float around and alarming creatures aggressively fall to earth like lightning à la Terminator.

Is there not something more wholesome Apple could suggest people can do with those powerful computers? Do we have to use them to render nasty evil and satanic images? Come on Apple, nice product but how about leading on the spiritual front as well as on the design and technical eh?

(Screenshots above are from the Apple official films site) https://www.apple.com/imac-pro/films/

FIU Miami Bridge Collapse questions

I was interested to look at pictures of the recent tragic bridge collapse. Here are what it seems to me may be of significance and some questions to be answered. First lets look at what is where before it happened.

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This photo is before the collapse taken from the side on which the central reservation chevrons face away from the camera on both sides of the bridge, which at this stage is still being moved into position. Note that in the central highway lane on the side of the highway that has lighting poles along the outer margin, there is no crane where I have arrowed down. Along the top of the bridge there are various areas where apparently bolts go through the roof to the upper side. I have circled a couple of these areas. These bolts presumably hold the supporting diagonal braces in position. It appears as if the tension and compression forces in the supporting diagonal braces are either compression or tension and may be directed as per the arrows I have drawn on them, I say appears, I am not an engineer.

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You can check out in the view above  that there is no crane of the side of the bridge on the side to which the central reservation chevrons point. There is some sort of yellow/orange crane boom arm just visible on the opposite side in the top left corner of the photo, but no crane on the right. The bridge is being rolled into position above the main reinforced concrete legs.

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Now look at the still approaching from the side to which the chevrons point, immediately before the collapse. On the left of the still you see the white boom arm of a crane. It was not there when the earlier pictures were taken during the positioning of the bridge onto its legs, and the white boom arm is different to the small area of yellow/orange arm pictured earlier standing on the opposite side to the crane that is shown on the immediately preceeding collapse image above.

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Here above we see the white boom arm crane closer, immediately before the collapse. See it is doing something on the roof of the bridge, near those important bolts.

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Now above we are maybe less than one second away from the collapse. Is that a guy up there  at the hook end of the crane on the roof doing something? It looks like there is something large and so possibly heavy on the end of the lifting cable.

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Now above the moment of collapse. Whatever the crane was holding swings violently as the bridge beneath it collapses. Below, is that a man falling?

Below, a frame later, what/whoever is falling has fallen down further in relation to the boom arm. The person or object is definitely lower and so is falling.

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Above you can see finally dangling, whatever is left of something large on the end of that crane hook. It is as wide as the supporting diagonal inside the bridge. Maybe quite heavy then. See the chevrons by the way?

So, below now we are after the collapse. There is no sign anywhere of the crane with the white boom arm. There is a green mobile elevating work platform which was not there during the collapse.

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Here are my questions:

What was the white boom arm crane doing?

Did someone fall with the roof from on top where the crane was working during the collapse?

Why has the white boom arm crane been removed, surely this is vital evidence and needs to be left in place for forensic investigation?

Did the directions of forces transmitted in the strangely asymmetrically braced bridge design have any bearing on the collapse?

And of course there is that phone call voicemail about cracks from the engineer that wasn’t collected until the day after the collapse. But please don’t let that be the main question, because as I show above, there are other questions also.

 

Rochford reflectors (?)

 

These appear to be four old runway (reflector?) signs. They are along the road at the point where Rochford Road becomes Southend Road (the A1169) beside the railway bridge at Southend Airport (in the county of Essex, UK) – Latitude 51.5668, Longitude 0.7041 – over which I think the southern end of the old cross-runway (no longer used) was approached by aircraft.

I don’t know but guess they either date from 1935 when the airfield become a civilian airport, or after World War II which would mean after 1945. I favour the former as they look very old. They could be any time from 1914 when the airfield was first established by the military shortly after the beginning of World War I. In 1919 the airfield was sold off to the Navarro Aviation Company who ran pleasure flights with two old Avro biplanes – apparently not for long however as the airfield was disused from 1920 to 1935, having reverted to farmland.

Perhaps they would not have had such obvious signs during World War II as airfields were camouflaged and signs removed, which would favour them being post-WWII, but they might be older – 1935? – and have been removed during WWII then replaced.

Of course the airfield was used as a fighter base during WWII but after that, in 1946, Southend Corporation took it on as an airport which they opened in 1947. There was major re-building including a control tower and runways in 1955. Perhaps the posts date from 1955, but to my eyes they look too old for that. Although maybe the pairs of red beacon lights went on in 1955.

Some paired red lights were stuck on to of them at some stage, these are also now defunct. They were also apparently used to mount streetlights. I don’t know if these lights still function, possibly not.

Wikipedia has a great page about the airport, including its history here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Southend_Airport

Another good source was at
http://www.essexlifemag.co.uk/out-about/places/london-southend-airport-80-years-on-1-3779112

My best guess is these posts originate around 1935. They could have been actually erected between 1933 when the airport site was purchased by Southend Council and when it opened in 1935.

Whilst I do not find Essex and Southend the nicest places in the UK, I will put in a good word for Rochford. What a lovely village (although it is really now a suburb of Southend) – olde-world shops, buildings, pubs. Good parking. Southend Airport also looked nice, which is pretty weird for an airport. Apparently it has in recent years been voted best Airport in the UK three times and it has a dedicated railway station. I think I would like Southend as an airport and Rochford is worth a visit if you are in that neck of the woods.

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