“Now, let’s take a look inside this fascinating medieval long burrow”

St Andrew's St, 1986

Between 1984 and 1986, the BBC partnered with Acorn, Philips, and Logica to create a modern version of William I’s Domesday Book. Stored on a pair of optical laserdiscs, the modern Domesday project contained a multimedia snapshot of life in the UK during the mid-eighties.

I remember watching a children’s quiz show back then and wishing we could be taught in such a cool way, but all the Irish Department of Education had to offer were fifty year old film projectors and velcro figures on felt boards.

The BBC has now released the completed work online, and it looks like Cambridge hasn’t really changed all that much in thirty years.

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What do you mean there are books other than Twilight?

Whether Better Book Titles took the idea from yourmonkeycalled or came up with it independently, it’s my favourite Tumblr of the moment.

A couple of weeks ago I overheard a WH Smith employee telling a customer that he’d looked up the author of a book and it was William Golding.  The customer was looking for Lord of the Flies. That’s right, he had to look up the title of Nobel Prize winning, thrice adapted, on the GCSE, Junior Cert 1954 classic allegory Lord of the Flies.

Needless to say, I posted this on Twitter and FaceBook and got accused of elitism and snobbery. I’m not saying that someone working in a bookshop needs to know the author of every book under the sun, but a basic grounding in the classics couldn’t hurt.

Good job the ConDem coalition is shutting down public libraries, eh?

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Two Nations Divided by a Common Language

Dara Ó Briain recently posted this video on Twitter to show just how different the Irish and British are in spite of a couple of centuries of speaking the same language.

In the early days of living together, I asked Ang to put the messages in the press.  While simultaneously trying to figure out when I’d installed a device for receiving emails into an iron and dialling NHS Direct to get an ambulance sent out she didn’t realise that her first forays into Hiberno-English were occurring.  Nowadays things are regularly grand in our house – to be sure things are rarely things any more, but yokes – and the expletive of choice is feck.

In return I’ve started saying “Ta ra!” and Tidy, which sound quite daft in a Dublin accent.

At least I didn’t mention the Immersion.

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A Brief History of Dagenham

Hawking as seen as a cartoon character on The ...
Image via Wikipedia

Ang and I recently attended a showing of “Made in Dagenham” at the Arts Cinema and were captivated by a movie that both immersed us in the feel of late-sixties London and managed to portray an important historical event without being stuffy.

However, during the climactic scene we started to hear a low but constant beeping. Ang, being much more generous than I am, only glared accusingly at the smoke alarm but I turned around to shush what I thought was a rampaging horde of huge thumbed happy-slappers. Cue a retreat of almost Gallic proportions when it turned out the source of the beeping was none other than Professor Hawking.

Obviously the erstwhile professor likes working class period drama – we’d already been graced with his presence during a showing of Kinky Boots.

My own contribution to the Wittertainment Code of Conduct for cinema patrons: No random beeping unless you’re a former holder of the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics.

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A tear heals faster than a cut

The Big Libel Gig
Image by englishpen via Flickr

Even though the terrible acoustics in the Corn Exchange forced him to slow down his trademark fast delivery but Dára Ó Briain managed to squeeze his entire show into two of the funniest hours I’ve ever spent in the company of a fellow countryman.

The set pieces ranged from our obsessions with keeping up with “stuff” to being stalked by the lonliest man in the world (Will Smith in the abominable I am Legend, coming soon to every format imaginable) and managed to keep the laughs going through the uneven audience participation section.

The tour is selling out quickly but it’s definitely worth traveling to get to a show if only to see there’s certainly more to Ó Briain than being the token Paddy on the BBC.

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“And then they bring out Maria…”

fitness torture
Image by Olivier Bareau via Flickr

Angharad has been going to the gym for a couple of months and in some sort of masochistic way has
started enjoying it. Of course, when one enjoys something the first thought is to share it with your friends and loved ones which is why the little darling gave my name and phone number so I could have a free trial.

I found out about this today when Roberta, the peppy Spanish fitness instructor, called me to bully me into going down.

Me (confused because my phone is ringing on a Saturday afternoon):
Hello?

R.T.P.S.F.I: Hallo Mr. Ryan, this is Roberta from L.A. Fitness. You have been referred by a friend who thinks you need to go to the gym. How about a free session to see what you need to do.

Me (battered by the joint attack of peppiness and Spanishness):
Uhm. Yes. That sounds like a good idea.

R: Great. Can you come down in five minutes.
Me: Woah there lil horsey. I can come some time next week.

R: I don’t think that’s enough motivation, why don’t you just skip along right now.
Me: No. Really. Next week.

R (Showing her true alien side, for all fitness instructors are
from a dying alien planet come here to steal our
hard-earned flab
)
: Now really Mr. Ryan, don’t you want to be
fit. It’s in your best interest to come down tomorrow.
Me: But it’s a three-day weekend. I’m being lazy!

R: That’s not good enough. You have to make an appointment now.
Me (starting to sob): Okay okay. Tuesday evening.

R: That’s better. We’ll see you at 6pm on Tuesday. Don’t forget, we know where you live…

Help.

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Kinky Serenity

Kinky Boots (film)
Image via Wikipedia

A while ago I saw Kinky Boots, a very British comedy set in the north of England about a shoe factory saved from bankruptcy by changing their product line from quality mens’ brogues to womens’ boots that could hold the weight of a man for transvestites. While the film was very simple and had some quite sweet moments, it was made all the more odd because the transvestite in question was played by Chitwetel Ejiofor, who had previously played the Central government assassin in Serenity.

It’s not every day where you see someone as an assassin one week and a very convincing transvestite the next.

As if that weren’t strange enough, Stephen Hawking was in the front row and appeared the enjoy the movie quite a lot.

Only in Cambridge.
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