Monday, 14 May 2018

Margot Kidder

This time, Superman can't turn back time for her:


I was fascinated to find out, from our local newspaper the Brecon and Radnor Express, that Margot Kidder had visited the area, researching her family history in Brecon Library!
Apparently, she was related to Powells who farmed in the Llanigon area (just outside Hay-on-Wye), and who sailed for New York from Liverpool in 1854. She presented staff who helped her with the research with signed posters advertising the Daily Planet.

(So here's another reason why libraries with trained staff are important!)

Friday, 11 May 2018

Slide Rule!

Back in the early 1980s, there was a caption contest in New Scientist magazine, and one week the picture was of one man seated at a computer while another man stood beside him with his hands outstretched to about 30cm. The winning caption was: "Honestly! It was called a slide rule, and it was about this long!"
When the film Hidden Figures was being made, set in the US space program of the 1960s, it was only after they'd finished filming that they realised that all those engineers and mathematicians would have had slide rules to calculate with.
Browsing the antique market this morning, I was delighted to find a slide rule in one of the boxes.
It cost me 50p, and it will be an excellent prop for my UNIT scientist costume.
I have no idea how to use it properly, of course....

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Dambusters Tea

I occasionally treat myself to tea from the wonderful tea shop in Lincoln, Imperial Teas on Steep Hill. This time they had a new blend dedicated to the Dambusters 617 Squadron; Lincolnshire has strong links to the bomber squadrons of the Second World War, and especially Lancaster Bombers. It sounded interesting, so I sent off for it, and I've just opened the packet to put the tea in my tea caddy.
On the back of the packet, the blurb says that the tea is a blend of a strong, smooth Assam, and a "very special tea that adds a touch of honey, sweet tobacco and malt to the flavour. It also has an intriguing appearance."

They can say that again! It's got bouncing bombs in it! Made of tea!

I'm looking forward to my first cup of it.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Stephen Hawking


It was my day off when Stephen Hawking came to visit the Hay Cinema Bookshop, but I did see his wheelchair in the distance around town, surrounded by his entourage. He came when the Lion Gallery had some scientific sculptures in the window - very precise wood and metal structures showing, for instance, the structure of a black hole, and I know he stopped to look at them.
He also spoke at Hay Festival - I missed that, too, because I was working.
I did read A Brief History of Time, though, and I actually understood it - while I was reading it. Trying to explain it to someone else afterwards was a different matter!
He was a passionate advocate for the NHS, which saved his life, and another sad loss to the world.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Ken Dodd

Another part of my childhood gone!
A cousin of mine went to the stage school in Blackpool (she was later Miss Blackpool), and whenever Doddy did a show there he would use the kids from the stage school as his Diddymen - so my cousin was a Diddyman!
More recently, he appeared at Hay Festival. That year the main marquee was set up on the Castle gardens and, part way through the act, he suddenly left the stage. A few moments later, he was back - but he actually had food poisoning, and had been throwing up in the bushes at the back of the marquee!
He wasn't just a stage performer, of course - he had his own TV shows over the years, and was also a very good Malvolio in Twelfth Night, as well as Yorick in Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet (in a flashback, obviously!).
And he was in Doctor Who, in the Seventh Doctor story Delta and the Bannermen, which was set at a holiday camp.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Kate Wilhelm

I've just heard that the SF author Kate Wilhelm has died.
Now is probably a good time to recommend Where Late The Sweet Birds Sang to anyone who hasn't read it. She wrote a lot more that that, of course, but it's probably the most easily available of her works.
She also did a huge amount to mentor and encourage new authors, so this is probably also a good time to recommend Storyteller: Writing Lessons and More from 27 Years of the Clarion Writers' Workshop.