LIFE

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Something very wrong here…

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This reminds me of something out of a dystopian Sci-fi film…

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Wouldn’t normally expect to see this by the roadside in Birkenhead…

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Fictional and real characters – drawn from one of my favourite books ‘Kidnapped’ by Robert Louis Stevenson – Davey Balfour and Alan Breck Stewart…

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Best vodka in the world. And medicinal because it’s got herbs in it…Not an advert – almost impossible to get this in UK unless you live near a Polish Grocery

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The Oxford house shark

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Reclaiming the Union flag from the far right

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I collect unusual place names. Done it for years. More recently I began to notice real people whose names suited them to be fictional characters. The list as it currently stands looks like this:

LANCELOT FURY – German conductor
RUSTY JUDGE – Facebook User
RORY BOREALIS – Local government officer, Walsall
CENSUS JOHNSON – Samoan rugby player
CANON PAGAN – Lancashire clergyman
MCKENZIE FUNK – US writer/commentator
GOODLUCK JONATHAN – Nigerian President
FLORIAN PILKINGTON-MIKSA – Drummer with Curved Air
RICHARD STIFF – Chief Executive, Angus Council
STORM MACDONALD – Texan Oil Industry Troubleshooter
SARAH BLIZZARD – BBC Weather Girl
JUDGE IGOR JUDGE – Lord Chief Justice 2008-2013

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Media dream: Russian fighter pilot deployed to Syria – Captain Balislava

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Rasta coffee – best in Birmingham – excellent reason to visit Handsworth

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that taking exercise is good for us. Thank you Richard Jordan of Stourbridge for reminding us to get out and about at every opportunity.

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Until recently the places in the UK I’d least want to live (just because of the name) were as follows:

WETWANG
COLD CHRISTMAS
SORROW
CLUN
SPITE-WINTER

However there’s a new map available showing all the rudest places you could have as your address from Upperthong to Brown Willy or any of the following: Nob End, Penistone, Cockyard, Gusset, Flash Bottom, Ballfields, Cockintake, Nether End, Cock Alley, Rough Bottom, Bushy Gap, Cockplay, Hairy Side or Twathats. And that’s only a small selection. Don’t you just love the English language?

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In the interests of keeping us in a non-outraged state, Ofcom has published the following grading of potentially offensive English words:

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Thoughts concern differing advertising standards in different countries – in UK the Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho’s work is presented as spiritual in nature. The same is not true in Italy where the required advertising image is an intellectual woman (she wears glasses) sitting reading in her best underwear and the cover art focuses on a single element of female anatomy rather than a whole woman. So they can argue Europe shares a common inheritance as much as they like but it’s not true. See both images below.

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Great book though either way:
The Witch of Portobello
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Winter lovers in Taksim (unknown photographer on Pinterest)

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No more words…
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GAMES

My offspring at their respective ripe old ages of 25, 22 and 17 know far more than I ever will about gaming but for all that they’ve largely missed the classical age of board games with perhaps two exceptions: they do play the current, speeded up, version of Risk and my daughter is a Backgammon fiend. What they don’t know are the games my family played when my sisters and I were growing up or those which kept us away from our studies at university: including Chess, Halma, Contraband, Penalty, Lexicon, Careers, Kingmaker, Decline and Fall and of course the one game I still make time to play online, Scrabble.

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Pepys Penalty Game
Contraband
Halma – The Classic Game of Stategy

Actually there is one other game I have been known to tackle with my best friend but that’s Bananagrams, another word game.

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At the risk of sounding a grumpy old git, I have no time to play any form of computer game at all. As a way of draining time away from productive labour like writing they’re unparalleled and I’ve adamantly ignored all attempts to get me to pick up and learn to use a joystick or controller. But the one revelation for me has been that a Scrabble game can be conducted a move a day over weeks if necessary against an online opponent and yet the game looks and feels the same as the board version, hefting the letter tiles in your hand excepted.

I have a problem however which is that my principal opponent is even better with words than as both lawyer and author I pride myself on being and worse still she has the luck of the devil in the letter selection she gets more often than not. So I’m fighting dirty from here on in. I’ve been reading Scrabble help books late into the night and I’m nearly ready to turn around the established statistics of a 52:45 win ratio in her favour.

Unfortunately I got a little sidetracked along the way because I felt it was likely there might be others apart from me who needed to learn how to beat the jammy beggars of this world. So intermittent work is now underway on another Kindle volume:

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Word and Logic and Other Games – An Afterword

Lexiconis still available after all these years. And at some point I should and will address the growing interest in mind training games like Sudoku or better still Killer Sudoku and add links for the best publications on them. Also still got a nostalgic hankering after the long, four-handed, double-dealing, alcohol-fuelled Kingmaker sessions of a misspent youth though…

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