A techno-prophecy from one of Rebus’s drinking pals

While channel hopping of an evening, I recently realised that episodes of the television version of Rebus are now being shown again. Having already read most of the books, I have found these Rebus TV adaptations to be frustratingly simplified and compressed. The books are complicated odysseys taking many days, and often weeks or even months, to unfold. They certainly take me several days to read. But these TV shows are brisk evening strolls by comparison. I paid less attention to the John Hannah episodes because he seemed to me wrong for the part of Rebus, and presumably also to many others because he soon made way for Ken Stott, who can say some innocuous line like “Is that right?” and send a shiver down your spine. And in general, I find the casting and the acting of the Ken Stott shows to be excellent. It’s just that convoluted stories like these need a decent number of hours and episodes to have their effect. You can’t do books like this justice in an hour and a bit for each entire book.

So, I’ve now been going back to the books to find out all the things that happened in them, as opposed to merely watching the highlights in the evening. Here is the very latest Rebus, which came out at the beginning of this month. But meanwhile, not wanting to buy a hardback of that latest one, and provoked by the TV version of Let It Bleed, I recently re-read that in the original. I’m a slow and easily distracted reader but I sped through it, having totally forgotten everything from when I first read it a decade or more ago.

I was especially entertained by a little snippet early on. The time is the mid-nineties, and Rebus is in the pub with his drinking cronies, one of whom is called Salty. Salty has an on-and-off career as an IT guy in “Silicon Glen”, and Salty is to be heard holding forth on the future of the internet and related matters (pp. 35-36):

‘So what I’m saying is, you can go anywhere on the superhighway, anywhere, and in future it’ll be even bigger. You’ll do your shopping by computer, you’ll watch telly on it, play games, listen to music … and everything will be there. 1 can talk to the White House if I want. I can download stuff from all over the world. I sit there at my desk and I can travel anywhere.’

‘Can you travel to the pub by computer, Salty?’ a drinker further down the bar asked.

With the wisdom of hindsight, we now know that there was more to all this than merely sitting at a desk, the way I am now. Computers have now gone miniature and mobile. Your computer won’t (yet) actually take you to the pub, but you can now take it to the pub with you.

So what does Salty say next?

Salty ignored him and held his thumb and forefinger a couple of inches apart. ‘Hard disks the size of credit cards, you’ll have a whole PC in the palm of your hand.’

Not bad for 1995, which is when this first came out. I had a vague recollection of Ian Rankin having been some sort of IT guy himself, before he got stuck into doing Rebus books, which would have explained his foresight in these matters. But no, there is no IT work in his bio, other than writing Rebus books on his own computer. He got all that stuff about the “superhighway”, and about mobile phones, from just picking people’s brains in pubs. (Which I am convinced was something that Shakespeare also did.)

When I recently encountered that TV version of Let It Bleed I didn’t give it my full attention, but this little pub scene is just the kind of thing that would probably have got cut from it. Doesn’t drive the plot forward quickly enough. Just background. But strip out all the “background” and the foreground becomes a dead and drearily predictable skeleton, which not even Ken Stott can save, rather than the complex living creature that you get hooked on when you read one of the books.

Maybe one day, televisual justice will be done to and for Rebus.

Taxi-with-advert photoed in 2005

Indeed. There I was, in 2005, out and about in London, photoing things like this:

… which even by 2005 was fairly routine for me. But then, later the same day, in Battersea, walking beside the River with a friend, I photoed this:

That was with my old Canon A70. But I didn’t get properly interested in taxis with adverts until a decade later. Why not? Don’t know. Ancient cars like that Austin A30 (I think), I was already obsessed with photoing.

The advert in the above taxi-with-advert photo was for a West End Show, which The Guardian approved of. I probably wouldn’t have, because that’s the stand-up and stomp-about-all-over-the-stage-like-a-lunatic comedian Lee Evans there, on the taxi. I found his comedy performances frenetic, in a bad way. He would sweat appallingly when performing. So, it was the comedy of embarrassment, and I was just embarrassed. I didn’t even smile, so I stopped watching him. Is he still doing this?

Perhaps he was better than that in The Producers, having been told to calm it down a bit.

Beatrice and Titania

Badly needing to get out and exercise, so quota photo, of the above mentioned ladies:

Photoed with my old Canon A70, way back in 2003. Behind the two yellow ladies, you can just make out the Wheel.

I do miss them, and their various Shakespearian sisters. They were driven out of business by the Big Sewer.

This photo already had a name in my archives, so I wondered if I’d shown it here (or here) before. But all I found was mention of a Beatrice (Rana) who plays classical piano, one of many.

See also this recent posting, for my take on why you don’t often see boats with wheels, even though this is technologically very easy to contrive.

Will you SURVIVE THE PLAGUE?

I’ve just been meandering through the photo-archives, trying to find out when was my last totally pre-Covid walkabout. Not even any vaguely threatening headlines, just life as we knew it before … it. And it would appear that the last time I was able thus to indulge was on February 5th. I went looking for just one fun photo that would celebrate this bygone age, and it was no contest:

Nothing says definitely-before-You-Know-What like an advert for a Plague-based entertainment, for tourists, on a bus, on Westminster Bridge. And not a face mask in sight. Any more than there were face masks in any other of my photos that day. (The above graphic still survives at the London Dungeon Website.)

The next time I ventured out was on the 24th of that month, to Middlesex University, to hear a talk given by Steve Davies. And I distinctly recall how mention was made of how the fear of You Know What had definitely slimmed down the size of the audience. Maybe it had, maybe it hadn’t. Maybe it was just a slim audience. But my point is, we were already talking about it by then.

Oddly enough, I’m damn near certain that at an earlier talk I heard Davies give, at the IEA, well before the Plague struck, Davies was asked in the Q&A about what the next chunk of history might consist of, and he included in his reply a reference to possible plagues. We’re due one, he said. That’s how I remember it anyway.

Incoming from Amazon

All of these arrived today, from Chateau Samizdata, where nobody cons their way past the front door and nicks stuff:

Looking forward to reading this one especially. It has been warmly received.

The C.S. Forester one I never knew existed, until Tom Hanks made a movie based on it. I wonder how it’ll compare with The Cruel Sea. Both central figures and commanders in these books had German sounding names, Krause in the Forester, and Ericson in The Cruel Sea, I recall some German trying to make a joke about Ericson’s name. Ericson was not amused. I wonder if Krause will be subjected to similar banter. Guess: yes.

The Blitz book is because I’ve always wanted to know more about that. John Ray’s book on the Battle of Britain was a very interesting read, so this one made good sense. And I seem to recall it having been very cheap, what with it having been published a while ago.

Following the chat we had yesterday about France and its various armies, Patrick Crozier and I will be discussing the Industrial Revolution. My core text will be the book on this subject by Steve Davies, but I’d be surprised if Ridley’s book on innovation doesn’t also get several mentions in our conversation.

The education book is by this guy.

Neema Parvini is someone I’ve been noticing for a while now. That’s because he’s a classical liberal and a humanities academic. Such persons must be cherished. Also, I do love Shakespeare.

Friday creatures Twitter dump (3): All the others

Further proof that a dog will put up with just about anything, including being biffed by a cat half its size, if it has been subjugated by humans and if the humans say it mustn’t retaliate.

Well that didn’t take long. So, here are the rest, all in one Twitter dump posting.

Congratulations to Laurence Fox, for standing his ground against the mob. Live long and prosper, Mr Fox, and in the fullness of time become Sir Laurence, for services both to acting and to sanity. (LATER: Fox laughter.)

Also on the subject of acting, my favourite recent Babylon Bee story was this:

Hollywood Actors Pledge Never To Take A Role Where They Have To Pretend To Be Someone Else

Finally:

Saw that here.

That’s it for BMNB today, probably (I don’t promise nothing). I’m off out this evening, to do Something, and it will take several hours for me to get ready.

LATER: Bird carries shark.

EVEN LATER (not Twitter, but I’m dumping it here anyway): Robot jellyfish.

Abney Park

Recently I was in the general vicinity of Lambeth, Stoke Newington, that sort of part of London, seeing things like a lion statue. But that lion was nothing to what came later.

Which was this:

This being a truly amazing place called Abney Park.

There are plenty of forests in London. And God knows (because invariably He becomes involved in all such arrangements), there are plenty of graveyards.

But, have you ever seen an honest-to-God graveyard, in an honest-to-God forest? Well, now I have, in the shape of Abney Park. The photos above all emphasise this weird and wonderful combined fact.

The roots of the trees have yanked a lot of the graves way out of the vertical. And we’re not talking about modest little graves. A lot of these are guy-with-biggest-grave-wins graves, erected in honour of seriously rich people, including lots of celebs and luvvies. There’s one with a big lion on it, and what’s more a far more impressive lion than that statue I photoed earlier. There’s even a big old statue, of this guy.

When I and the friend who showed me this amazing place were there, the weather was that particularly perfect sort of perfect that consist of perfection which had been preceded by rain. My photos (with the possible exception of photo 0 (or photo 2.4 if you prefer) don’t really show that, but trust me, it was weather to die for.

More about Abney Park in this. Turns out the guy buried under the lion was a lion tamer.

I love London.

Signs in Seattle

Here:

I agree with what Matthew Continetti says in this piece, which the above photo adorns, that this is froth. History as farce, Tom Wolf style. This “Seattle Soviet” is going nowhere. It’s “signs and notices”, to quote one of my more frequent categories here, rather than revolutionary architecture of any substance. That being why the above photo is the most informative one I have seen concerning these dramas.

As Kurt Schlichter (who his now being seriously noticed by his enemies) says, the important thing about this Seattle drama is the impact it has on the forthcoming Presidential election in November. Will Trump get the blame for it? Or will the local Democrat politicians? And by extension, the Democrats nationally? Schlichter says the Democrats will get the blame for this Seattle farce, this being why Trump is leaving the local Democrats to not deal with it, until America landslides in his favour. “Silent majority” and all that.

Schlichter combines partisan rhetoric way beyond the point of self-parody with very shrewd observations and analysis. I read him regularly. He is like one of those crazy American lawyers, who seems insane, yet who is taken very seriously, and for good reasons, by his enemies. And as I understand him, which is only a bit, this is because Schlichter is one of those crazy American lawyers, who seems insane, yet who is taken very seriously, and for good reasons, by his enemies.

Roz Watkins talks about her latest book – and about animals

Crime writer Tony Kent does a fifteen minute video-at-a-distance interview with fellow crime writer Roz Watkins. Roz is my niece, which is partly why I keep mentioning her here. But the bigger reason I keep on about her is that she is very good at what she does, which is not just writing the books she writes but also selling them. She’s an excellent public speaker, and a very personable interviewee. So, if you want to know more about what sort of person Roz is, and also about the idyllic yet sometimes spooky place she lives in (the Peak District), as well as about her books, tune in here.

Animals figure prominently in this interview. Starsky the dog makes an appearance near the beginning. They talk about killing animals in crime thrillers and about how that upsets people far more than killing mere people seems to. Also, animals are a big part of the background of Roz’s latest book, Cut To The Bone, number three in her DI Meg Dalton series. A missing girl has got on the wrong side of animal rights activists, and traces of her blood and hair are found in an abattoir. That kind of grizzly thing. It’s due out in hardback in a month’s time, and, unless I have misunderstood things badly, is already readable as a computer file.

My favourite quote from the interview is when, 4 minutes 20 seconds in, Roz says: “Everyone wants to kill all the lawyers.” Very dramatic.

Taxis with adverts – July to December 2019

I know I know. There’s only one person in the whole world who likes clicking through huge collections of photos of London taxis with adverts on them. Me. But such galleries of persuasive transport are now easy for me to put up here, and have always been easy for you to ignore, so here’s another, consisting of fifty-four taxis-with-adverts photoed by me in the latter half of last year:

Photo 49, bottom row, number four, features Ms Calzedonia, a shapely lady with writing on her legs. But even my original 4000×3000 photo did not enable me to discern what this writing says and my googling also proved insufficient. Anyone?

Also puzzling, merely from my photo number 40, is “Duolingo”, but this was easy to learn about, and pretty easy to guess. It’s for learning a new language.