Lockdown – Non-events

I’ve known it’s coming for a while, but this coming fortnight is probably the one that’ll grump me the most about the Lockdown so far.

It’s the time when I had a lot of events lined up, all of which have now been moved to next year.  Among other things, that list includes

So yeah, bit of a slump of “I should’ve been doing [x]” for the next couple of days.

I had a similar slump a while back when I got a load of “this won’t be happening” emails over a couple of days, and this is much the same. I’ll get over it, and it all could be much, much worse.

But still, blah.


A Flaw In The Safety

Following on from the post a while back about driver assistance things, I had another interesting one a few days ago.

I’d hired a Vauxhall Insignia in order to ferry people around a bit, and the weather was disgusting – heavy rain, lots of spray, and lots of idiots with no lights on.

Anyway, on the section of the M4 I was driving on, there were roadworks, and the lanes had been narrowed as a result. And that was where the problem came in.

The Insignia had the Lane Change Warning thing, which detects when the driver is drifting across lanes without indicating – and in the case of the Insignia, it also tries to push you back into the lane you’re departing. Not my favourite thing at the best of times, but in this case it was actually picking up on the wrong lane markings (because they were glossy and shiny in the rain) and so actually kept on pushing me “back” towards the crash barriers, and would have left me scraping along them if I’d not been paying attention.

I can understand why it happened, and how. It was also easy enough for me to sort things out (eventually by turning off the Lane Change completely) but I can also easily see how things could’ve gone wrong, if I were the sort of driver who relied on these aids, who didn’t pay attention, or left those aids to do things because they’re there to help.

And what would’ve happened in that situation if it were a fully autonomous (“self-driving”) vehicle with no controls, or potentially people who didn’t drive, or couldn’t understand the danger signs?

There’s still a way to go on these things, I think…


The Ocean at the End of the Lane – National Theatre

Just before Christmas I was lucky enough to get to see the play of Neil Gaiman’s “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” at the National Theatre. It’s on for a comparatively short run – only about eight weeks, I think – and in the smallest theatre (the Dorfman) which only seats 400 people – so it’s fair to say that demand for the tickets were pretty high.

It’s been an eventful couple of months for “Ocean…”, as prior to the play starting there was also a new version released with illustrations by Elise Hurst (which is beautiful) although as I understand it the two things aren’t actually related or connected.

Anyway, the play itself is superb – I would say it’s probably the best thing I’ve seen this year – and the staging and lighting are excellent as well. It’s hard to explain things without spoilers, but basically the story of a man returning to his childhood home, and remembering the things that happened back then. It’s a lot more than that, with themes of magic, loss, change and sacrifice.

I truly hope that it goes on to another theatre, and/or on tour – if it does, it’s totally worth making time to go and see it.


Meatopian

As usual, my September is looking like it’ll be my normal levels of silliness, with lots of travel and so on.

And also as usual, it started with Meatopia, a festival of various barbecued meats. It’s one of my favourite events of the year – and this time I was at all three sessions. Because I’m a complete lunatic.

I had intended to be more sensible – going down for the Friday was still silly, but I’d intended to then park up at Barbican on Saturday, have a hotel on the Saturday night (being able to collect my bag from the car at Barbican on the way, and deposit it on the way back before Sunday) and then come home.

But then I checked the football schedule – and it turned out that Arsenal were playing at home on the Sunday. Not usually relevant, but when driving back on the Sunday, it would’ve shoved me right through all the traffic and people at Highbury, which would add at least an hour to the drive. And frankly, sod that.

So it meant a change to plans, and instead doing my usual thing, parking in Very North London, Tube to Euston/Angel, and walk to Tobacco Dock.  Yes, I *could* have still used the hotel, but it meant that all the travel to and from the car to drop off clothes/bag etc. would’ve made it a lot more hassle and a lot less fun. So it was ‘easier’ to travel further, but on my terms and with less general fucking about.

All told, as well as a ridiculous amount of food, it meant I did six walks of 6km, as well as further walking on-site and so on, so all told over Friday, Saturday and Sunday I covered no less than 44km (27 miles)

Meatopia was totally worth it again, and I’ll be there next year.


Chaotic and Packed

The last couple of weeks have been quiet on D4D™ because life got in the way – and life was just stupidly busy.

Over the last two weeks, I have

  • Attended the 2019 Lead Developer conference at the Barbican in London (involving driving to London late on Monday, two days of conference and hotel, coming home mid-evening on Wednesday)
  • Late-night ferrying of friends after their wedding anniversary meal (and padded out that time by going to the cinema)
  • Done a day on a sponsored walk thing with friends at a fitness group I attend – my own contribution was 32 laps of the 600m track set out for the event, adding up to 19.2km (just under 12 miles) which pleased me
  • Seeing the parents
  • Attending the “Chefs Reunited” one-off meal at Monica Galetti’s “Mere” restaurant – all courses cooked/created by either Monica Galetti or Rachel Humphrey, who worked together at La Gavroche
  • Attending “Conversations with Nick Cave” at the Barbican
  • Been on-site on two separate days in Chesham
  • Done all the usual work schedule stuff as well
    and
  • Before the end of this week, I’ll have also attended two food events this weekend.

I must be utterly, utterly barmy.


Repeat Locations

In the last eight days, I’ve been at the Barbican centre for three of them.  I don’t mind – I like the Barbican – but it does make for an interesting feeling of deja vu.

Last week, I spent two days there attending the Lead Developer conference (again) – it’s been running for five years now, and I’ve been to four of them.

Then last night, I was back there to see “Conversations with Nick Cave” – a different type of concert, with Cave performing songs solo with just a piano, interspersed with lots of questions from members of the audience.

I’ll aim to write more about both things (and a couple of other things that have been keeping me busy and/or a dirty stop-out) but right now I’m absolutely knackered. So those bits of writing will come later. Probably.


Good Omens

Last week, I went to see Neil Gaiman at the Southbank Centre, as part of the promotional activities for the new series of Good Omens. (It got released on Friday on Amazon Prime, and will apparently be on BBC2 later in the year)

Good Omens (the book) was written by Neil and the late Terry Pratchett thirty years ago, and it was one of Pratchett’s dying wishes for Neil to write it again as a TV series. At the time, they thought he’d got plenty of time, but he went downhill rapidly, and so after Pratchett’s funeral, Neil wrote the series, and then insisted on being the showrunner in order to make sure that it got to screen in a way that both of them would’ve found acceptible.

Anyway, I’d managed to get tickets even before they announced that he’d be accompanied on stage by David Tennant and Michael Sheen (who play the two main characters of the series, Aziraphale and Crowley) which made it even better.

The entire evening was fun – there was a choir of Satanic Nuns (if you’ve read the book, you’ll understand) in the foyer of the Southbank Centre, singing Queen songs (again, book, understand, blah blah) which boded well for the rest of it.

Compered by Kirsty Wark (who also appears in the series), they talked about how the series came about (see above), the story of Neil and Michael meeting for a dinner where both of them couldn’t work out how to tell the other that they didn’t want to play Crowley (Michael had originally been cast, but realised as he read the script that he was far more Aziraphael) , Neil discovering that Michael could do a pitch-perfect impression of David Tennant, and many other tales.

From the sound of it, while there were problems along the way, the fact that Good Omens is loved by so many people (and has been for a long, long time) worked as a great leveller of those problems – another story being that Nick Offernan was brought in very late in the day to replace someone else, and told Neil that a) he’d have paid his own flights in order to take the role, and b) that when the director apologised to him for coming such a long way for so (comparatively) few lines, he said “I’d have come twice as far for half as many

It was a really good evening, and when the series came out on Friday, I saw the entire thing in the space of an evening (not something I usually do, but this time it was worth it) and I can honestly say that they’ve all done a bloody good job of the entire thing. Utterly worthwhile.