When Hereford United FC were watched by 35,000

Today’s sad news that Hereford United FC has been wound up in the High Court brought back childhood memories. In April 1976, I was one of 35,000 people who watched the team play Cardiff City at Ninian Park in Cardiff. Hereford were leading the old third division and City were placed second. Cardiff won 2-0 that unforgettable evening.

It was one of my favourite Ninian Park memories. I still have the match programme, signed by members of Cardiff City’s promotion team.

I hope Hereford one day rise from the ashes, like former Welsh Cup rival Newport County.

Costa Coffee takes over Captain Mainwaring’s bank branch

Captain Mainwaring at The Crown

The Crown as Martins Bank, Walmington-on-Sea

I don’t imagine that Dad’s Army’s Captain Mainwaring ever tasted a frappucino. (They came long after 1940.) But the Chalfont St Giles, Bucks pub that posed as Mainwaring’s bank in the Dad’s Army film is about to open as Costa’s latest coffee shop.

Costa Coffee Chalfont St Giles

The Crown becomes a Costa

Sadly, the much loved Crown closed last year, as I blogged in May. It was one of our favourite venues for anniversary and birthday dinners. (I took my very first iPhone photo on one such occasion in 2008.) Losing a pub is always a sad event, but if we have to swap dinner for coffee a Costa is a good choice. (Make mine a skinny latte and tiffin…)

The Crown Chalfont St Giles pub sign

Sign of the times

Mourning the iPod Classic

According to The Guardian, the iPod Classic is one of 2014’s hottest Christmas presents, even though Apple stopped making it earlier this year. The paper claims people are paying up to £670 for a Classic.

It all seems a little far fetched (especially as the Apple Store is offering a refurbished one for £162). But I understand the appeal of the music player that changed everything. I still use mine (bought in 2009) every day in my car. If anything, the iPod is becoming more useful even in the Spotify era. Back in 2010, I was able to store my entire music collection on my first generation 64GB iPad, along with a year’s photos and a few movies, with 20GB to spare. Its successor – same capacity – is frequently at capacity despite having just playlists not my full collection. (What’s to blame? Photostream?) So one device to do everything isn’t such a great idea. I’ll continue using my iPod Classic, with its ability to store 40,000 songs in my pocket.

PS: I still mourn my first iPod, a Christmas present from Karen in 2004. It was my first Apple product. I left it on a plane in San Francisco in 2008. My 2009 Classic isn’t as smooth to the touch.

#putoutyourbats in tribute to Phillip Hughes

Tribiute to Australian cricketer Philip Hughes

#putoutyourbats for Philip Hughes

People around the world were deeply shocked by the tragic death of Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes. He was struck on the neck by a ball on Tuesday and died two days later.

We’ve grown used to seeing batsmen wearing helmets – but Hughes’ helmet didn’t protect him from this freak accident.

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Emily Thornberry, Rochester and Labour’s crisis

Emily Thornberry white van tweet

This is the tweet that plunged the Labour party into crisis. Emily Thornberry was forced to resign after sending it as the Tories were losing the Rochester by-election to UKIP. The result? Labour, not the Tories, were seen to be the greatest losers from the fact sitting MP Mark Reckless retained the seat for UKIP after defecting from the Tories.

It’s a sorry tale that makes me despair even more about British politics. Here’s why:

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Georgio Moroder, Phil Oakey and Nigel Lawson

Together in Electric Dreams

Together in Electric Dreams

A Guardian article this week caused a nostalgia rush. Georgio Moroder has launched his first album for 30 years.

Memories, memories. Thirty years ago this month, Moroder’s 1984 hit with Phil Oakey, Together in Electric Dreams, was top of my college cassette playlist. Along with The Cars’ Who’s Going to Drive You Home Tonight. Band Aid and the Frog Chorus were mercifully a few weeks away.

Back in November 1984, I was living in a student terraced house on Ullswater Street in Leicester. I was preparing for a law tutorial about the Sunday trading laws. We had been tipped off that the chancellor of the exchequer Nigel Lawson might sit in on the session. I wasn’t a fan of local Blaby MP Nigel – he seemed far too confident, a view that was reinforced by his too-clever-by-half 1988 budget – but I prepared more carefully than normal, including prepping a few jokes walking along the Grand Union Canal in Leicester on a mild November evening…

Needless to say, Lawson didn’t show up but we did get an MEP (Tom Spencer) and, if I remember correctly, Peter Bruinvels, a one term right wing Tory MP. I never thought he would last in multi-cultural Leicester.

20 years with a PC

It’s 20 years this month since I got my first personal computer. I bought it from a company called ESCOM in Cheltenham. I remember the excitement of taking it back to my new home in Ashton Keynes, Wiltshire.

It was an Intel 486 machine – a far cry from today’s amazing computers and tablets, but a revelation after my much-loved Amstrad PCW word processor. I used to pour over the manual to get to grips with Windows. (Windows 3.11 for Workgroups. I had no idea what workgroups were.) The biggest challenge was that Word for Windows as it was called back then didn’t prompt you to save a document with a name as soon as you created it.

Over the coming years I had a lot of eureka moments with my computers: sending and receiving faxes from the computer in the days when work involved a lot of faxes. Printing quickly in colour. Scanning and copying on the printer. And the wonder of the internet. November 1994 was the beginning of my computer revolution.

Great War memorialised: Tower of London poppies

Poppy pageant: London's Great War centenary memorial

Poppy pageant: London’s Great War centenary memorial

The 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War has been movingly commemorated at the Tower of London by the planting of a ceramic poppy for every one of the almost 900,000 British and Commonwealth deaths during the war.

We visited on Wednesday evening as it was getting dark. The sea of red was a stark reminder of the scale of the carnage. How lucky we are to live in an era of relative peace.

Poppies in the moat, Tower of London

Poppies in the moat, Tower of London

The poppies themselves are beautiful. Here, near Traitor’s Gate, you can see the stems.

Not everyone is so moved. Jonathan Jones in the Guardian mocked the poppy pageant as false and trite. His argument hardly convinced: he says the poppies represent British losses and so represented a nationalistic tribute. Hardly – they include Commonwealth losses. In any case, his view of the poppies as glorifying war is the same as the regular criticism of the annual poppy appeal as perpetuating war. The British people are more sensible than newspaper writers.

Solving Mac OS X Yosemite internet speed problem

Speed trap: OS X Yosemite

Speed trap: OS X Yosemite

I cursed my decision to upgrade to the new version of Apple’s OS X operating system for Mac, Yosemite. The moment I upgraded, I was transported back to 1999.Webpages took minutes to load. Why did I break the golden rule: never update an operating system the day the new version is released?

I Googled for answers. Some suggested deleting and restoring my wifi network. Others urged me to delete my Safari history, or restart the Mac. None of these solutions made any difference.

My own solution cracked it: restart my router. I’m now surfing at 2014 speeds, not the dial up days of the 1990s. Phew.

Delivering on?

I’ll scream if I hear another politician saying they will ‘deliver on’ their promises.

You keep a promise, you don’t deliver on it. And since when has the verb deliver needed ‘on’? Does your postman or woman ‘deliver on’ your mail?

I wrote to the Guardian in 2011 about this awful example of abusing the language of Shakespeare.