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Punctuation Marks

I’m obviously not the only one who gets nerdy about this sort of thing.

There was a review by Sam Leitch in Saturday’s Guardian of the book Making a Point: The Pernickety Story of English Punctuation by David Crystal. A review which I enjoyed immensely.

I particularly liked the two sentences, “The big four – comma, semicolon, colon and full stop – were for a long time, and insanely, regarded as precise measurements of a pause: a full stop was worth four commas. The book’s full of this sort of curio: interesting on first encounter; illuminating on investigation,” in which Leitch has deployed those marks with great care. The paragraph on Wordsworth and Humphry Davy and the possible punctuation of the parenthesis it coontained was also a delight.

And then there was the bit on defunct and obscure marks:- the asterism, (⁂); the dinkus (***) and the fleuron (stylised forms of flowers or leaves); the austere pilcrow (¶) and the honourable diple (>); the breve (or háček, in which it pleasingly appears) (˘) and the manicule (a pointing hand); or the caret (^).

I’ll not go so far as to read the book itself though. I’ve too much else on.

Space Artist

The Guardian yesterday featured this painting of the first space walk:-

Space Walk

What makes it unusual is the artist. None other than Alexei Leonov, the subject of the painting.

That CCCP on his helmet makes it seem even more of its time.

Leonov also drew the first work of art actually to be created in space, a view of the sunrise as seen from his Voskhod 2 spacecraft. Here it is with the pencils used to draw it:-

First drawing in space

He almost never made it back into the capsule. His suit had expanded and he had to bleed off air to get it to fit. He could have succumbed to “the bends” but thankfully didn’t.


This photo (credited to Dominick Reuter/Reuters) – which doesn’t seem to be on the website – appeared in Thursday’s print edition of the Guardian:-


Surely Mr Trump is using the wrong finger to go along with that facial expression.

Val Doonican

Yet another voice from my young past has been extinguished.

Val Doonican was always determinedly old-fashioned and was probably more famous for Irish novelty songs, wearing woolly jumpers and singing while reclining in a chair than for ruffling the charts but he had a good crooner’s voice and five top ten hits between 1964 and 1967.

Doonican’s biggest was What Would I Be – a no 2 – and his cover of Bob Lind’s Elusive Butterfly reached No 5 in the UK charts – as, curiously, did Lind’s own version.

Val Doonican: Elusive Butterfly

Michael Valentine “Val” Doonican: 3/2/1927 – 1/7/2015. So it goes.

Other Military Graves, Crail

There are several headstones in Crail cemetery which resemble Commonwealth War Graves ones but are in grey rather than cream/white.

Both the following two men died on 23rd November 1918, hence after the armistice:-

Lieutenant Clarence Reginald Mundy

Air Mechanic F Green

A differently shaped headstone is for an RAF man, Second Lieutenant Cecil Sealey Davis, killed while flying at Crail in May 1919.

There are also graves for a Navy Reserve seaman, who died on 16th March 1918, and an air cadet who died in December 1918.

R Watson, Seaman, RNR

Flight Cadet J A Scarratt

Birthday Present

My birthday is the day before Christmas.

I don’t usually get one big present but rather small ones two days in a row.

Here’s a photo of what my eldest son gave me for my birthday this year.

An old Quality Street tin.

You’d be excused for thinking I’d be miffed but I was actually delighted. In addition to the nostalgia trip the tin provided it added to my collection of old tins, which I mentioned a few years ago.

And he did fill it:-

He also gave me the latest Pink Floyd CD. (I’m not into downloads.)

Montgomery Scott

There is a plaque in Linlithgow which commemorates the birth of Starfleet Master Engineer Montgomery Scott, aka Scotty from Star Trek.

Here’s a photo of it.

You’ll note he was born in 2222.

Gregory’s Meridian, St Andrews

I was in St Andrews at the back end of September and spotted this on the pavement in south South Street. I don’t think I’d noticed it before. Is it relatively new?

It is Gregory’s Meridian line.

A plaque on the wall gives more information.

James Gregory looks to have been one of the 17th century’s greatest scientists. A meridian, Calculus, the diffraction grating and a type of telescope?

Great Book Cover

We were in Buckingham on a Saturday morning. There was a market. Some of it was vegetables and fruit etc but further on towards the old jail there were several stalls selling antiques/junk etc. A couple of them were bookstalls. The good lady bought a watering can with a hole in it – to use as a planter – and four books. She also persuaded me to buy The Splendid Book for Boys, typical 1950s boys book fare, whose cover I show below along with the two (facing) Contents pages which I had to scan separately as together they were too big to fit the scanner.

Nice space rocket!

When I get round to reading the book I’ll also post the interior ilustrations of the SF story.

Shore Coal

Many Fife coastlines bear the marks of past coal mining. A ribbon of coal particles can be found on Kirkcaldy and Burntisland beaches, whether washed there from mines or eroded from rocks I don’t know..

At Lower Largo the deposits are larger. Here are some seen through the shore barrier.

And these are lumps.

The industrial landscape of Methil can be seen from Lower Largo beach, wind turbines, oil rigs and all.

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