Yuri Gagarin

On April 12th 1961 Yuri Gagarin became the first man to travel in space. With the singular success of the North American Space Agency we sometimes forget that it was the Russians, the Soviets, who were the first to shake off gravity’s chains. Gagarin was born in the rural area to the west of Moscow.…

Up the Vale!

Supporting Real Madrid and Barcelona is all well and good. But it’s not exotic, is it? Why don’t you be a Port Vale fan too? Port Vale Football Club was founded in 1876 ; the year when Custer lost the Battle of Little Big Horn and 26 years before Real Madrid came into existence. “The…

Our Own Shop

A co-operative, or a Co-op, is a legal entity controlled and democratically directed by its members. There are no shareholders with voting rights. So really, a co-op is the halfway stage between a partnership and a corporation. There are many different kinds of co-ops. Years ago I was a management consultant for a ‘secondary co-operative’.…

Listen

“Listen!” is the first word of the the Old English poem ‘Beowulf’ which tells of the adventures of the eponymous hero and his three great battles against two monsters and a dragon. It was made into a dazzling three-dimensional computer-generated movie by Hollywood. Old English is very hard to understand. Look at this: Hwæt! We…

Latin Lovers

Ten years after Christ died the Romans invaded England. What was merely a political distraction, designed to impress the powerful influences in Rome, had long-lasting linguistic consequences for the peoples of the British Isles. Status Quo is the only British rock band I can think of who have a Latin name. As their music never changes,…

Talking to Yourself

In most countries talking to yourself is a sign of mental instability, if not downright madness. The reason hand-free telephones are now never used outside of the car is that no-one wants to look as if they are vocalising an internal dialogue. “The voices told me to do it” is the often used plea of…

Talking about my generation

If you were born between 1961 and 1975 you are a member of “Generation X”. ”. The term comes from a book called “Class” by American sociologist Paul Fussell. Generation X people are not interested in money, status or social climbing. Some of the cultural achievements of Generation X include Hip-Hop music, “Fast Car” by…

The Abdication Crisis

Imagine you fall in love but your boss says you can’t get married. More than that. Your boss says that if you insist on marrying, you’ll have to resign. Scandalous, right? Well, spare a thought for King Edward VIII of Britain. He lost an empire for love. But then you might not want to spare a thought…

Information is not Power

We live in the Information Age. The silicon chip has empowered us. Information is power. Everyone knows that. Data is the ultimate democrat. We are in control. We are protected. The Internet and mobile phones have set us free. So why is it that when we buy an egg and cress sandwich from a reputable…