This weekend saw the annual Daventry motorcycle festival take place and the town centre transformed from its usual unremarkable state into something much more exciting by a busy, noisy and colourful, spectacle.
The 2013 motorcycle festival was due to start at 10:30 but as I wandered up Abbey Street towards the High Street at around 10:00am, I got to watch and to listen to an impressive cavalcade of motorcycles coming down New Street to turn left into the High Street.
The cacophony was amazing, the myriad of motorcycles rumbled, burbled, snarled, growled, thundered and whined/buzzed (in the case of the mod Lambrettas) through the town and it was some site to behold, to hear, to smell and even to feel (thanks to the vibration and the sense of wonder).
Motorbikes were parked and displayed on both sides of the road along the length of the High Street, up into Sheaf Street and in the car park bisecting New Street and Church Walk.
Whatever your preference in terms of styles or makes, there was something to satisfy you – there were Harleys, Kawasakis, Suzukis, Hondas, Yamahas, Triumphs, Heskeths, Nortons, BSAs, Vespas Moto Guzzis, Ducatis etc. All very international!
Racing bikes, custom bikes, cruising bikes, trikes, scooters, vintage & veteran bikes, classic bikes, modern bikes; nothing appeared to be missing.
I wandered up and down the street taking photographs and dreaming of owning some of the seventies super bikes on show. Some pictures are shared for your enjoyment.
In addition to the motorbikes, the day was brighter still thanks to a series of bands performing from an articulated truck trailer up at the war memorial end of town. A lot of heavy rock and heavy metal music was played and this seemed to complement the event just perfectly.
Of the four bands I watched, three played covers throughout their sets. The other band, an outfit call Terror Swarm played a lot of its own stuff and I was impressed enough to buy a cd – it’s an EP called “Take the world alive” and it’s good too. The heavily tattooed, decidedly younger than me bass player looked slightly bemused when I strolled up to him to buy a cd but hey I was into heavy metal long before he was born and he’ll have grey hair one day too!
Whilst I was having a thoroughly enjoyable time, I was slightly disappointed that my wife, son and daughter were thoroughly underwhelmed. Still you can’t please everyone; I took them home and then headed straight back into town to soak up some more of the atmosphere. I was subsequently joined by my friend Jez and we wandered around like kids in a sweet shop.
Here are some of my observations – most of the lovely bikes on display were owned by chaps with at least ten years or more on me and I am not exactly a spring chicken. The biggest, meanest, noisiest American monster hogs were most likely to be ridden by fellas of pension age and with bus passes in their wallets. And it’s no surprise because these bikes are so damn expensive.
This might be a bloke thing, but there is something deeply satisfying about the burble and bellow of a Harley. If you have to have paid off your mortgage and put your kids through university before you can afford to buy one (instead of a caravan) then so be it!
Some might get nervous when hoards of black leather clad, back patched, bearded and stocky geezers wearing dark shades and open faced crash helmets turn up on roaring and powerful beasts; but the fact is that the atmosphere in Daventry was terrific, there was no trouble at all! Whilst there were some coppers strolling around, I suspect they were enjoying the sights and sounds as much as anyone else.
I have to say, the event was marvellous, Daventry came alive and for a handful of hours had to be one of the coolest places to be in the country. Thumbs up to Daventry Council for being brave enough to sanction it!
Roll on 2014!
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I want this bike!
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My son has just turned ten and that, to me, feels like a big deal - for him, reaching double figures is very cool indeed!
I have been thinking about this landmark on and off since. The primary emotion is one of fatherly pride - my lad is a good kid, is doing well in school and is well liked too. It pleases me no end to watch him growing up into a decent individual.
On the radar too though is a feeling of aging, for some reason I feel much older than I did on Wednesday, which is just odd! Ten years have aged me as much as my lad but whilst he is growing up, I am growing old, and that’s not exactly a comforting thought!
And growing up is evidenced in his birthday present too – a seven inch tablet with a selection of apps of his choice. Crikey when I was ten I was still playing with my train set, my action men and my toy cars! Computing in the home (and not in mine I hasten to add) was limited to the ZX81 (which was rubbish) and Atari/Binatone games consoles (that were also rubbish – although I’d have loved either)!
The recognition that a decade has gone by since Master Baldwin arrived is thought provoking but I take much comfort from my complete conviction that the ten years’ of investment in Master Baldwin have been well worth it.
Happy birthday son!
Lots of love,
Regular readers will know that I have been trading notes with my local MP, Chris Heaton-Harris (CHH) regarding government policy and expenditure on nuclear power.
Previous posts: http://www.adrianbaldwin.net/1/post/2013/03/nuclear-power-questions-answered-well-sort-of.html http://www.adrianbaldwin.net/1/post/2013/02/nuclear-profligacy.html
As a result of the last blog entry, the attached responses have recently been received from CHH and Baroness Verma of Leicester - Parliamentary Under Secretary for the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
Here is a link to the 52 page NDA 2013-16 business plan
Interesting points from the baroness include:
Power generation companies like EDF will have to meet their nuclear liabilities in full (including waste management and decommissioning) and that pricing agreements reached between the government and the private sector companies will have to receive Royal Assent. The European Commission also needs to make the state aid position clear.
Some significant hoops for the EDFs of this world to jump through then!
Levelised ‘new’ nuclear power generation costs average (NOAK, FOAK) £77/MWh of which only £2/MWh of cost is attributed to waste management and decommissioning! Is that accurate? Is that enough of a provision? I am not convinced!
I would love to know what percentage of the cost per megawatt hour of Sellafield derived power has generated clean-up costs of £67.5 billion so far (and a further £788 million in 2013) – I bet it isn’t 2.59%!
Regardless of the costs, the government remains committed to nuclear power because it sees no viable large scale power generating alternative. The political protest movement will have to garner massively increased public support to sway the government from its position. Fukushima was not close enough to home to challenge the UK economists!
Finally I am no closer to an answer about what Sellafield will actually cost to decommission than I was when I started this Q&A. I don’t think the government actually knows!
I think that this trade of notes with our elected representatives has gone as far as it is going to now and so I thank Chris Heaton-Harris and Baroness Verma of Leicester for their time and willingness to engage.
Following on from my last Top Gear related fridge magnet post
, I have had precisely zero responses to my request for help. As such, I still have no idea how many word magnets were contained within the April 1998 set.
I even wrote to Top Gear Magazine editor in chief, Charlie Turner, twice and failed to elicit any kind of response at all.
Having picked up the latest edition of the magazine (no. 243), I was delighted to find a new set of word based magnets and am now half wondering if my approach back in January this year got his production team thinking and that in turn resulted in the new set being issued. Charlie, if you read this post, and I hope you do, please let me know!
This latest set of magnets is great and this time there are 141 separate ‘word/s’ plus four fools, four speech bubbles associated with the fools and a Top Gear Magazine banner. The magnets will enable you to write your own fridge nonsense about motoring and the size of your manhood (unless you're a lady). I specifically counted the number of individual magnets so that in 15 years’ time, I’ll have an idea how many of them I have managed to lose. The photo added to this post will even enable me to know which specific words have gone (although the flash 'flash
' presents a slight problem)!
My next observation, and one that gives me some satisfaction, is that the word magnets are the same size as the 1998 set and so I can add 1998 words to the 2013 sentences and vice versa! In fact, if you once again turn your attention to the photo, you’ll see some old words below the new ones.
Just think of the hours of fun ahead of me, I can barely contain my enthusiasm!
So whilst I go and get creative with the fridge door, you’d better go out and buy your copy of the magazine because you’ll be gutted if you miss out!
On Friday night I sustained a head injury of the type most frequently used as an excuse to cover up domestic violence. Honestly, I walked into a door and gave myself a cut and a decent bruise in the process. After I got over the shock and pain, I had to see the funny side; I mean how often is a door the genuine cause of a head injury?
I’d like to be able to claim I was drunk at the point of impact but the fact is, it was only about 9:00pm, the kids were still up and the time for relaxation and alcohol consumption hadn’t arrived.
To set the scene, Mrs Baldwin and I were chatting in our conservatory, I got up to answer the call of nature and wandered through our lounge, into the darkened kitchen, through on to the utility room and finally into the toilet. Upon arrival I switched on the loo light and got on with the purpose of the visit.
As I left, I switched the light off and that plunged my world into darkness. At that point I made a mistake, my eyes hadn’t adjusted and so in effect I was temporarily blind – as I walked out of the toilet door, I walked straight into the door that separates the kitchen from the utility room.
In coming through that door in the first place, it had swung back into a half closed position and so as I left the toilet, no more than three feet later, the left side of my temple met the rough edge of the door and with quite a thud too.
I didn’t see the door at all and that meant that I wasn’t ready for the impact, I didn’t have my hands up and that meant the head butt was a complete surprise - at the time I yowled in pain and let loose a stream of expletives.
I staggered back into the conservatory without sustaining further injury and then Mrs Baldwin found me an ice pack for my bleeding head. Rather stupidly (and it didn’t take me long to realise this), I put the ice pack on my face straight from the freezer! Thirty seconds later and blimey I was in yet more pain. Think about an ice cream brain freeze but much worse. As I pulled the pack off my head I realised I’d had it over my left eye and was struggling to see again – you see (although I didn’t) my eyelid wasn’t working properly .
Picture this; I am slumped on a sofa, in pain, trying to reduce the swelling on my forehead whilst simultaneously trying to avoid frostbite and then I have the added joy of Mrs and Master Baldwin laughing at me and offering words of wisdom along the lines of ‘you can’t keep taking the ice pack off, the swelling won’t go down if you do”.
So this incident started with me talking a piss and ended up with me having the piss taken out of me! Ah the joys of marriage and parenthood!
Still, on the bright side, at least I got a blog post out of it!
My note to self – don’t do it again! Obvious perhaps but I will have to think more in future because there is every possibility that in a similar set of conditions I’d do the same thing again.
If thinking doesn’t save me and there is a next time (or Mrs B. does actually resort to physical abuse, maybe over another seventies purchase), the only alternative will be a crash helmet. Got to protect my devilish good looks somehow!
Yesterday night I watched the second episode in a BBC 1 series called ‘The Prisoners’. Last night, as indeed the week before, the programme prompted an interesting flow of thoughts and emotions that in turn inspired this post.
By way of a synopsis, the film makers followed a series of inmates around the London prisons of Pentonville and Holloway during their sentences and then when released back into their communities. The characters featured so far are serial petty offenders that actually need to be in prison in order to cope with their lives – drug abusers, alcoholics, homeless souls etc . Prison gives these people a bed, a TV, food, structure, sometimes a prison job, companionship, often a much needed detox and it costs them nothing to live.
It’s fair to say that those followed are the detritus of society with low intelligence, limited education, no employment prospects and often from malfunctioning families. Their drink and/or drug habits go on to fuel the antisocial behaviour (shoplifting, violence) that gets them banged up again and again and again. In one chap’s case, a gregarious 43 year old Londoner, that has meant 14 years in prison for simple and stupid offences. One twenty-something had been imprisoned on 42 separate occasions! These people are institutionalised because they go to prison, serve their time, get let out and re-offend in no time at all so that they end up detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure once again.
Now this post isn’t intended to be a review of the series but rather a reflection on the conflicting emotions that it has generated by watching it.
Here is the list; bewilderment, sympathy, frustration, anger, guilt and a sense of satisfaction.
Starting with bewilderment – personally this comes from having no mental reference points for anything I am watching. For the characters, I can’t think from their perspectives at all and I can’t rationalise their behaviour. To me their self-destructive spirals of decline are shocking and confusing.
I do end up feeling some sympathy for the characters though because they are in a state of purgatory all the time – these people will achieve little, will go nowhere and will have nothing. Most of these prisoners live pointless lives and even struggle to string a coherent sentence together!
They aren’t murderers, rapists, child abusers or terrorists (the kind of inmates one would only have negative thoughts towards) but instead lost souls with little hope of finding the ‘light’.
I certainly sympathise with the wardens and probation officers that have to work with these people! I also sympathise with the parents of one or two of the inmates.
Frustration comes from listening to these characters, free from the effects of addiction, talking about turning over a new leaf this time and staying clean and getting a job when you know full well they are deceiving themselves. You want to shout at the telly (and the people) when you watch the addictions take hold once more or the effects of homelessness taking their inevitable toll. I found myself thinking ‘are you stupid’ about a particular individual only for it to dawn that the answer was simply ‘yes’!
On to anger – I have found myself feeling anger about the system, about the way that it completely fails to help these people cope with life. Then from a conflicting perspective, I get angry that these morons are living their hopeless lives at the tax payers’ expense and adding no value to society at all.
For me guilt then takes hold because some of the thoughts above aren’t exactly charitable! I watched a teenager last night self-harming and tying ligatures around her neck and honestly, a small part of me thought – if she killed herself, so what!
The final emotion that I have experienced is a sense of relief and satisfaction with all that I have. It is easy to fall into the trap of forgetting just how lucky you are. Last night I sat back and reflected that I am fortunate to have come from a good family, to have a good family of my own, to have had an education, to have had some opportunities, to be healthy and to have had some great experiences.
So to end this ramble, the producers have done an excellent job of playing with viewers’ minds. If you haven’t seen an episode of this series, give it some thought, you may also experience a roller coaster of emotion. If you want compelling television or thought provoking viewing then I’d have to recommend this series. It’s reality TV but it’s gritty and uncomfortable and has a much more important set of messages to convey than ‘The Voice’, ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ or some of the other guff that fills the schedules. I have to say the BBC has done a good job with this one!
Whilst driving to work today I had a bizarre feeling that prompted an odd train of thought that in turn resulted in today’s post.
The wonderful Mrs Baldwin had today booked off work as holiday and suggested that I take her car to work instead of my own. Bearing in mind that hers is an Audi A5 and mine is a Skoda Fabia, you may well appreciate that there was some appeal in the suggestion. Let’s be honest, her car is better in every meaningful sense than mine!
To set the scene, I spent many years of my career in the automotive industry and have driven God knows how many different types of car, so much so that I fail to get particularly excited about modern cars (a car is a car is a car and after you’ve driven anything for a while it stops being interesting). To add further insight, I am also 42 and going grey, a father of two excellent, if demanding, children, and the joint owner of a reasonable house and all the responsibilities and financial burdens that come with this life stage.
So this morning as I drove to work in my wife’s motor, cossetted in dark grey leather and listening to The Sword album “Age of Winters” (which is great by the way), this bizarre feeling of being a proper grown-up popped into my head.
How mad is that? I am already grown up to the point of looking old!
To be clear, this wasn’t an ‘I love this car’ feeling or ‘I am excited by this car’, more a recognition that this car is not a youngster’s play thing. The car is an Audi so it conveys status to a point but for me it was not about the car suggesting a level of success or anything snobbish (which is good because it’s not mine anyway); it was about somehow feeling more mature at the wheel.
The odd train of thought that followed was:
Do I not feel like a grown up all the time? Will I feel less grown up when I get back in my Skoda? And, wouldn’t I rather feel less like a grown-up anyway?
Maybe I’ll write another post when I have worked through that psychological minefield. In the meantime my observations are these; Audi and oldie sound, and in my case feel, too similar; maybe I’d better stick to driving my own car in future and shouldn’t I be worrying about stuff that is actually important?
Anyway, it's lunchtime and I am off out to buy a copy of Max Power!
From a website perspective, this is a landmark article – the likelihood is that you will never read another one like it. I am about to praise a politician! Read on if you are intrigued!
Regular readers will know that I am not a fan of politics or politicians. That stated; the media noise around the death of Margaret Thatcher (MT) is worth a blog post. As I grew from a child into an adult, it was MT that ran the country and so I have first-hand experience of her policies – like the hated Poll Tax (in fact I was probably one of the only teenagers in the country that paid it – more fool me).
Despite my aversion to politics, I think that Maggie was an impressive character and deserving of her place in history amongst the political elite of this country. I didn’t, and still don’t, agree with some of her policies and perspectives but her grit, focus, determination, conviction and sheer hard work were undoubted.
If you think about great PMs from our political history (Churchill, Disraeli, Gladstone etc.), Margaret Thatcher will be remembered for centuries to come. The same couldn’t be said for some of our recent crop of hapless leaders. David Cameron and Gordon Brown for example will be long forgotten long before they die and will certainly not be deserving of a state funeral.
I have found the celebrations in certain quarters about her death to be thoroughly distasteful; the individuals shown on the news should feel ashamed of themselves. I have no problem with Maggie receiving tributes in the House of Commons or getting a decent funeral; in fact I am delighted that the Queen will be attending.
Maggie Thatcher polarised opinions in this country but my belief is that she made a positive difference to this country when it damn well needed it. As much as I love the seventies, Maggie helped fix the stuff that had turned to shit during the decade (think constant strikes, the three day week, economic gloom and power cuts). And she didn’t have extra martial affairs or break the law or fiddle her expenses or pander to the media whilst she was doing it!
Maggie was a working mother, was very much a woman in a man’s world and had a decent set of beliefs and values. I can’t help thinking that we could do with an equally powerful and trustworthy leader to shake this country out of the economic mess it finds itself in now. Cameron certainly isn’t the man for the job, and neither is Boris Johnson for that matter!
I was pleased to read this article on the BBC this lunchtime. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-22079232
Blake’s 7, a cult seventies series, is to get a modern interpretation. As usual part of me screams ‘why?’ because the original was great but in this instance part of me craves to see the series made with the special effects that it deserved (instead of the naff effects, cheap costumes and the dodgy, low budget and wobbly scenery it was infamous for). To be fair, some of the original acting was a bit wooden too!
I am sure that opinions will be divided amongst the fellas (and discussed at length over pints of real ale). My friend Chris, a fan from the start, may be pretty disgruntled – I am sure his degree and subsequent career in computer engineering were inspired in part by ORAC. But then again, even he may be intrigued.
Remakes are a funny business; some I genuinely hate – The Italian Job and Alfie for example. Some I just don’t get i.e. the new Sweeney film (the ‘why?’ question again). Some are brilliant – Doctor Who for example.
Who knows how Blake’s 7 will translate into the twenty-teens? I will be looking forward to finding out! I hope that it ends up being made and broadcast on a channel I can actually watch!
This news from a day or two ago was shared with me by a friend and regular reader who knew that this kind of article would prompt a blog post! http://metro.co.uk/2013/03/19/anger-as-birmingham-city-councils-wheelie-bin-audit-asks-homeowners-are-you-gay-3548754/
Just in case you don’t follow the link, the piece is about a wheelie bin survey carried out by Birmingham City Council (BCC) that included a random and completely unnecessary question about the respondent’s sexual orientation!
Unsurprisingly the news coverage is amusing and derisory and justifiably so!
Now Birmingham is a city I have some affection for given that I lived and worked in Brum for many years and I bought my first house there. I don’t want to mock the local authority in the way that the Metro does but I am concerned about this survey from a data capture perspective.
As a database manager, I have lived with the Data Protection Act (DPA), and the need for compliancy with it, for many years; in simple terms data needs to be accurate, up to date, relevant for the purpose it has been gathered for and securely stored.
By way of illustration, in my last job role (utilising the Siebel On Demand system), we didn’t use the database to record the birthdays of our customers or the names of their wives and children. Those details could be useful for a salesperson building and maintaining a relationship but they weren’t relevant to our business and weren’t therefore collected/recorded.
In BCC’s case, I can think of absolutely no relevance for the collection of sexual orientation data in conjunction with a survey about bins! Assuming that the data captured is being recorded in a database in some way (and that the responses aren’t anonymous) then I think that the council is at risk of attracting the wrong kind of attention from the custodians of the DPA. Assuming that BCC has an internal data protection official (and businesses when they register, need to have a nominated officer), that person might want to study this survey because there’s negative publicity (like the Metro article) and then there’s really negative publicity.