Monthly Archives: March 2009

Social Engineering and the Price of a Drink

A story in New Scientist talks about proposals (well advanced in Scotland, the rest of the UK may well follow) to impose minimum prices for alcohol, based on those “units” that we’re constantly told that most of us drink too many of.

It’s all about trying to restrict anti-social behaviour and alcohol-fuelled violence in towns, cities, and indeed people’s homes. It’s likely to be unpopular with owners of bars which survive on promotional pricing, and there would be much weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth from people who like to drink a lot, but is it really that bad? According to New Scientist’s figures:

Making 50 pence the minimum charge for a unit of alcohol would undoubtedly hit drinkers in their pockets, pushing up the price of a bottle of wine to at least £4.50, a bottle of whisky to £15 and a six-pack of premium lager to £7.50.

Look, drinkable wine starts at slightly above £4.50, except when something better is on special offer. Whisky? I don’t buy it often, but I don’t recall paying under £20 for a bottle in a very long time, but that might be because I like a nice single malt if I’m going to drink the stuff. Perhaps this measure, if it comes about, will lead to people drinking more quality and less quantity? Works for me…


OK, I might have mentioned that I’m rather fond of a good espresso or three. While I generally enjoy it here at home, I do like a good coffee shop – a good one being one with good espresso, comfortable seats and an atmosphere that encourages you to relax and enjoy the coffee and any food items you might fancy. So I’m not sure about this at all:



Look, I don’t want to be excited by a coffee shop. I want to be welcomed and relaxed by one. Still, I suppose it’s not as bad as the sign I saw a while back telling me that an “exciting shoe shop” was about to open. I really don’t find shoes at all exciting…

Tyne Bridge Reflection

When I left home this morning, it was bright and sunny, so I took my camera with me, planning to have a bit of a photographic stroll at lunchtime. Naturally, by the time I could leave the office, it had clouded over and was threatening to rain. But I was in the mood, so I went out anyway, with my trusty 50mm lens attached to the 30D. The light was far from ideal, but I got a few pictures I like, and one which I’ll have to repeat with different lenses and different light conditions. This one, in fact:

Reflected Bridge

Reflected Bridge

Somehow, despite passing that way many, many times over the years, I’d never noticed how the Tyne Bridge creates these nicely interesting fragmented reflections in these upper windows. And now I’ve seen it, I’ll have to go back when the light’s better, and try some variations on this picture. But this one will do for now.

March 2009 Round-up

Well, that’s March out of the way. And while observant readers may have noticed that I haven’t actually got round to the February end of month report[1], it’s time for this month’s summary.


March 1: 218 pounds (15 stone 8 pounds, 98.9 kg)
March 31: 215.4 pounds (15 stone 5.4 pounds, 97.7 kg)
Difference: A fall of 2.6 pounds (1.2 kg), made more dramatic by the unexpected bloatage on the first of the month

Totally random fluctuations were the main feature of March.


Not done at all well this month. Too many sausage rolls, and a possible excess of bacon and the like at weekends. And possibly more bottles of wine than normal, too.


Remarkably little of that has gone on. Walking has been occasional only.


Well, I had a bit of a dip for much of the month, relieved only by automagic posts relating to my day’s Twitter activity. However, I seem to have picked up a bit in the last few days, and caught up with some stuff. Total for March is 77 79 80 including this report, some random Twitterage, and including  a few posts following this one.


Still not doing much photography, though I did get out a couple of times. Still too much going on at work…

[1] It may appear later. How much later remains to be seen[2]
[2] Not that much later, as it turned out

Doctor Who – The Rescue and The Romans

Time for another review. I’m not doing these in the order I got them, just taking them off the pile of things I want to write about…

So, what have we here? Two consecutive stories from January and February 1965, with William Hartnell as the Doctor, with William Russell and Jacqueline Hill as original companions Ian and Barbara, being joined by Maureen O’Brien as Vicki. The bundling of the two stories into one release may well be because The Rescue has only two episodes, and might not have sold that well as a single release. But it shouldn’t be ignored, for reasons I’ll go into.

The Rescue

The story follows on from The Dalek Invasion of Earth, which is available on DVD, but came out before I started doing these review thingies, so you won’t find an entry for it here. Susan, the Doctor’s grandaughter[1] has remained on Earth. The Tardis materialises on the planet Dido, where the crew find a crashed ship from Earth. The only remaining survivors of the crash are a young girl called Vicki and an injured man called Bennett. Both are in fear of a creature called Koquillion, who has killed the other crew members. But the Doctor knows this planet, and its occupants, and soon realises that “Koquillion” is actually Bennett in a ritual costume. Bennett has adopted the disguise and killed the other crew to cover up an earlier murder he committed. When confronted by the Doctor, and two of the inhabitants of Dido (he thought he’d killed all of them as well), he loses the plot a bit and falls to his death. Vicki agrees to join the Doctor and his companions.

Now, there’s not a lot to the story. The identity of the villain wouldn’t be too hard to work out if you didn’t already know it, but… There’s a completely beautiful scene where the Doctor confronts Bennett. Rather than a simple accusation, he casually tells him that the costume he’s wearing should only be worn on specific occasions. And it’s such a perfect Doctor moment. You could see David Tennant delivering the same line in almost exactly the same way. Worth watching if only for that one scene.

Extras are quite light on this disc – a “Making of”, production subtitles and some other bits and bobs.

The Romans

The longer story in this set is that rare thng at the time, a comedy. The Doctor and his companions take up residence in a Roman villa for a holiday. It all goes a bit wrong when Barbara and Ian are captured and sold into slavery, and the Doctor is mistaken for a famous musician. Everyone ends up in Rome where much silliness and standard-issue farce follows, including bits where people just miss seeing each other by seconds, the Doctor doing a musical version of the emperor’s new clothes, and managing not to assassinate Nero…

It’s a slight and mostly silly piece, but well worth watching if only for William Hartnell’s performance.

Extras are a little more generous on this one:

  • What has ‘The Romans’ Ever Done For Us? If you’ll excuse the inevitable title, this is a good look at the story, with a little help from some actual historians
  • Roma Parva (Little Rome) Planning camera positions with the aid of a model
  • Dennis Spooner – Wanna Write a Television Series? Looking at the work of Dennis Spooner, who wrote this story
  • Girls! Girls! Girls! – The 1960s – An only moderately naff look at the female companions of the 1960s
  • Production subtitles – the usual bits of background information
  • Etc – TV clips, photo gallery, etc

Overall, this is a nice package , especially if, like me, you’d never seen these stories.

[1] Will we ever learn more about the Doctor’s family? Or will we be left guessing forever? I’m guessing on the latter…

Twittering: 2009-03-30

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