Reading Elena Ferrante

July 20, 2016

I’m reading Elena Ferrante‘s “The Story of  a New Name”, the second of her Neapolitan series of novels.

But such is the power of Ferrante’s writing, it feels like the book is reading me, rather than me reading the book…

#AntiquesRoadshow / @BBC_ARoadshow / @thedebbiemcgee / @BBCBerkshire / #proudofthebbc

July 2, 2016

So last Sunday I had the great privilege of being a steward at the Antiques Roadshow, which happened in the grounds of the place where I work: Caversham Park.

It was amazing.

Apart from the opportunity to wear a straw boater (and I can never resist an opportunity to put something daft on my head) I was blown away by the whole thing.


Show Business! It’s in the blood!

It was wonderful to be part of something so well organised, but in a thoroughly relaxed and happy way. No one was left out or was excluded, no one got cross or insulted anyone else, everyone queued politely, it didn’t rain…

After a week when the word “chaos” as applied to the political class, seemed for once like an accurate description rather than hyperbole, I found myself thinking, why can’t politics be like this? Politicians need to get out more…IMG_7868

I got interviewed by Debbie McGee! On BBC Radio Berkshire! I’m on @BBCiPlayer on demand! (from 36′ in)

A truly wonderful day. Surely this is what the BBC was put on earth to do…



Sunday listening: “Light Touch Regulator”

June 12, 2016

An old English folk song…

Down by the river where the Alphas and the bureaucrats play…

Thanks as always to Simon Hopkins.

Weekend listening: #chilcottjazz & Coltrane lives!

May 21, 2016

Three years ago, well before I had a Soundcloud account, my good friend Simon Hopkins kindly consented to making some music with me. And now in the spirit of #chilcottjazz, I’m publishing some of what we did.

Thanks to Simon, whose own music (and he’s operating on a much higher level) can be found on his blog  and on iTunes.

And particular thanks to Claire Hayes of Universal Music for her generosity in allowing me to publish this cover of a classic by John Coltrane.



Boom Logistics: “Fifth”

April 23, 2016

Huge, enveloping tunnels of sound.

Thick wires clanking together.

Guitars? No,  massive engines humming in a monumental power station somewhere on a vast, desolate plain.

“Unfamiliar Sands” is a beach scape with seagulls and flies buzzing. But half way through the picture shifts and dissolves, a seaside postcard melting in front of your ears.

“Thermocline” clinks in and out of phase, cubist perspectives on a Victorian clock.

I should declare an interest. Simon Hopkins, the creator of Boom Logistics, is a good friend, and my clarinet is one of many sound sources for this particular set of  his music. However before the small group of people who have heard me playing the clarinet smile politely and start to back out of the room, let me offer you some reassurance. There’s some nasty looped squawking on “Arkansas and Blake Light Tragedy”:  brutal death improv played by a giant. But apart from that whatever I was doing has been, and I use the word correctly, transformed.

I’ve been listening to Boom Logistics loud in my car. The effect is sometimes scary, and sometimes curiously calming.

Why? I don’t think I can put it into words…

Boom Logistics “Fifth” is now available to download on iTunes. More information can be found on DGMFS.

Saturday listening: the machine is the star

April 16, 2016

Music for a grey, rain soaked day…

Inspired by the sound of the New York subway…

Friday night listening: “What’s Fer Afters?” by Tony Cox 

April 8, 2016

Philosophical reflections from Mr Cox…

If #music be the food of love…

#electronic #ambient #noise

Links: the death of Moore’s Law

April 6, 2016

From the Economist (written by Tim Cross):

“For some time, making transistors smaller has no longer been making them more energy-efficient; as a result, the operating speed of high-end chips has been on a plateau since the mid-2000s (see chart). And while the benefits of making things smaller have been decreasing, the costs have been rising. This is in large part because the components are approaching a fundamental limit of smallness: the atom. A Skylake transistor is around 100 atoms across, and the fewer atoms you have, the harder it becomes to store and manipulate electronic 1s and 0s.”

I’m not an engineer. But if it’s true that computing power is slowing down then it has important implications for the way we think about software and computer products.

The mentality of Silicon Valley often seems to be that of a little boy saying “I’m blowing up this balloon! And it’s going to get bigger and bigger and never pop!”

Hence perhaps wildly over valued tech firms that never turn a profit. Or strange beliefs like the Singularity; Moore’s Law turned into a religion.

The truth is that civilizations, businesses, technology and even people grow, plateau and then decline. If the future is here, but not evenly distributed then it is likely to stay unevenly distributed.

What kinds of products and services will we need if computing power slows down? What kinds of problems will people be prepared to spend money on to get fixed? Might there be opportunities around fixing what we already have or making it work better rather than fantasies of unlimited growth? A prescient entrepreneur might want to start thinking about this…

(also – the new time a tech guru or new media consultant says “computer power is doubling every two years!” you can say “oh no, it’s not”…)


Driverless Cars: Where Have All The Drivers Gone?

March 11, 2016

Martin Belham of the Guardian recently wrote a piece about driverless cars, how wonderful they are and how one day we will wonder how we ever did without them.

Martin is a nice and very clever man. I wish him well. But to me his rosy picture seemed to have one important thing missing.

For example, if Uber (as reported) invests heavily in driverless vehicles, once they’ve scooped up enormous amounts of passenger data, they could dispense with drivers altogether. If Uber become a very dominant player in this market (and their aggressive tactics are well documented) lots of drivers who now work for Uber may be seeking alternative employment. Not to mention those black cab drivers who might see their jobs disappear as driverless firms dominate.

A privatised transport system – geolocation data owned by Google, passenger data owned by Uber, with no drivers. What impact would this have on public transport? On people who don’t have disposable income to go everywhere by taxi? How should it be regulated? Who uses the bus lanes?

Martin’s picture of the future is missing the large gangs of young men (and women) hanging around on street corners because they can’t get a job driving a car or a lorry.

The other odd thing about Martin’s piece is this sentence:

“The business that buys a fleet of driverless cars knows that staff can be doing paperwork between meetings while they travel, for maximum efficiency.”

So we will have driverless cars in this future. But we will still be doing “paperwork” and having “meetings”.

No matter how shiny the future, organisations are as bureaucratic as ever, and as obsessed as ever with “efficiency” while continuing to have pointless meetings…


March 8, 2016

Money is just a degraded form of art.

So if you hate gold you hate art.