NGC 1365

The image of galaxy NGC 1365 on Astronomy Picture of the Day for 28/12/18 is under copyright by Martin Pugh so I shan’t reproduce it here.

But I urge you to pop over via the link on the date.

Why does this remind me of a spider?

Scotland’s Art Deco Heritage 40 (iii): Greenbank, Helensburgh

Greenbank is a classic Art Deco house in Helensburgh – once West Dunbartonshire but now – after the Tories gerrymandered Scottish council areas in 1976 in an attempt to bolster their representation, not that that’s how it turned out – in Argyll and Bute

Strong horizontals and verticals, rounded canopy and balcony, appears to be Critall windows still. They’ve not been “poked out” anyway. It looks more like cream than white rendering, though, but that’s okay:-

Greenbank, Helensburgh

The colour scheme reminds me of Wolverton in Silver End.

Greenbank, Helensburgh

A side view:-

Side View, Greenbank, Helensburgh

Ultima Thule

From Astronomy Picture of the Day for 3/1/2019.

Ultime Thule from 28,000 kilometres away. This object is 6.5 billion* kilometres from the Sun. Astounding that we can get to see this.

Ultima Thule

As the pictures continue to stream in they’ll be even better I’m sure.

*(I assume that’s 65,000,000,000 not 65,000,000,000,000.)

Not Friday on my Mind 53: I See the Rain. RIP Dean Ford

I was sad to hear the news of the death of Dean Ford, lead singer of (The) Marmalade (once known as Dean Ford and the Gaylords,) the first Scottish group to have a no 1 in the UK. To make it, of course, they had to leave Scotland and move to London where their initial efforts under their original name didn’t meet with much joy. Calling themselves The Marmalade also didn’t bring instant success. It was only when they adopted a more pop profile – and with songs written by others – that they achieved a measure of success, peaking with that no. 1, a cover of The Beatles’ Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.

Ford was no mean song writer though. Along with fellow band member Junior Campbell he wrote Reflections of My Life, Rainbow, and My Little One, hits between 1969 and 1971.

Plus this pre-success psychedelia-tinged song, said to be Jimi Hendrix’s favourite of 1967.

The Marmalade: I See the Rain

Thomas McAleese (Dean Ford): 5/9/1946 – 31/12/2018. So it goes.

Freddie Glidden

I see from the club website that former Son Freddie Glidden has died.

His years playing for the club were slightly before my time but I remember my eldest brother reminiscing about him. I recall the word “uncompromising” was implied.

We could do with a bit of that right now.

Frederick Glidden: 7/9/1927 – 1/1/2019. So it goes.

A Dreadful Year for Sons

2018 wasn’t a good year for Sons – Oswestry apart.

But I hadn’t realised how bad it was until I read this this statistical analysis of the playing year produced by a Sons fan on his “Tales From the Rock” blog and linked to on page 1610 of the “Sons Sorrow” thread on the Pie Shop, aka Pie and Bovril.

Played 55, Won 16,* Drawn 8, Lost 31, Goals for 60, Goals Against 104.

These stats show just why manager Stevie Aitken had to be binned.

There has been a small improvement under new manager Jim Duffy, but he is still labouring with the squad he inherited – a lot of whom seem to be injury prone.

*This count includes pre-season games against non-league opposition.

Cold Welcome by Elizabeth Moon

Orbit, 2017, 439 p.

 Cold Welcome cover

The cover makes it obvious (“Vatta’s Peace: Book 1” is inscribed below the title) that this is the first part of what I assume is a trilogy. What I hadn’t realised when I picked it up was that there is a previous trilogy (“Vatta’s War”) to which this is presumably a sequel of sorts. Not that it matters: Cold Welcome pretty much stands on its own with Moon slipping in information about Admiral Ky Vatta’s past as and when necessary.

After apparently unexpected success as a war commander against unlikely odds Vatta is returning to her home planet, Slotter Key, where her family is a prominent presence. There is some early interplay about the wearing of spacesuits for a shuttle descent which makes it beyond obvious to the reader that skullduggery is afoot. And indeed the shuttle encounters trouble during the descent, its pilots and a local military commander being murdered by devices in their suits. Vatta and her aide-de-camp wore their own suits and so are spared, along with lesser luminaries on board. The shuttle comes down in a polar sea near an uninhabited continent which – conveniently or otherwise – has a reputation for mishaps and communications blackouts.

As senior military officer Vatta takes charge even though she is not in the local command chain. Her expertise gets the survivors through a few days at sea in life-rafts and landfall on an inhospitable beach. From then on it all gets a bit Alistair MacLean with Vatta wondering whom she can trust and intrigues played against her. The continent also turns out not to be quite as abandoned and inhospitable as everyone supposed.

Cold Welcome is reasonably standard SF fare with not a lot of consequence to it. Violence, though not entirely absent, is mostly off-stage here (for which relief much thanks; I’m getting fed up with SF where violence seems to be the only type of conflict resolution available) and the SF trappings are mostly off the shelf. We don’t find out though who exactly the conspirators were who committed the shuttle murders nor those behind the goings-on on the polar continent. No doubt all will be revealed in later books in the sequence. I may not bother with those though. Neither the scenario nor its execution piqued my interest enough.

Pedant’s corner:-Stavros’ (Stavros’s,) “he had lived into that label” (lived up to that label makes more sense,) Captain Argelos’ (Argelos’s,) a missing comma before a piece of direct speech, Colonel Greyhaus’ diary (Greyhaus’s,) “the crew were resting” (the crew was resting.) In the acknowledgements: Gonzales’ Gonzales’s.)


Happy New Year.

Well, I say happy but – apart from my eldest son getting married in February – I can’t see much cause for celebration this new year. Sons are pretty ropy this season (with only the Cup run helping last season to be anything like bearable) and Brexit looks like making life for most people in the UK more arduous then it need have been.

Happy New Year anyway.

War Grave, Holy Trinity Church, Pitlochry

I must have passed this church building, of the Scottish Episcopal Church, twenty or so times at least. It wasn’t till October 2017 I noticed the Commonwealth War Graves sign on the gate.

Its grounds are lovely with a burn running through them.

Burn in Churchyard, Holy Trinity Church, Pitlochry

It contained one war grave quite near the entrance and close to the burn. Bombardier J Ward, Royal Garrison Artillery, 7/1/1915, aged 35:-

War Grave, Holy Trinity Church, Pitlochry

Here’s a video of the church and its grounds:-

Best Reading of 2018

Listed below in order of reading. 16 in total; 7 by Scottish writers, 4 SF or Fantasy (+ 1 non-fiction about SF,) 3 in translation, 10 by men, 6 by women:-

Living Nowhere by John Burnside
All Our Worldly Goods by Irène Némirovsky
Science Fiction: A Literary History Edited by Roger Luckhurst
The Fifth Season by N K Jemisin
The Black Book by Orhan Pamuk
The Gathering Night by Margaret Elphinstone
When They Lay Bare by Andrew Greig
The Great Chain of Unbeing by Andrew Crumey
Hame by Annalena McAfee
I Remember Pallahaxi by Michael G Coney
Not so Quiet …. stepdaughters of war by Helen Zenna Smith
Memories of My Melancholy Whores by Gabriel García Márquez
Time Was by Ian McDonald
The Shipbuilders by George Blake
Mr Alfred M.A. by George Friel
Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively

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