Tuesday, 4 December 2018


November seems to have passed without a diary entry.

I've been attending some MathsJam events, a regular one in Bexhill and a one-off in Brighton where I gave a short presentation on the disphenocingulum.

My book on Knight's Tours is near enough completed in 800 pages. There is just the Index to do, and then arranging the publication, probably via the Lulu organisation.

However I am also making efforts to find a new place to move to in the Midlands. Every ten years or so I feel the need of a change of scene. A reduction in my monthly rent is also needed.

The National Chess Library on which I did a lot of work is now advertised at the bottom of the English Chess Federation website. It needs to be better publicised to attract visitors.

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Chess in Crewe

Over the week end 11 to 15 October I travelled to Crewe to take part in the chess congress organised there by Crewe Chess Club. Playing in the Minor section I managed to score 2.5 out of 5, by two wins and a draw against weaker players. In the other two games I played quite well but made mistakes. The first was against the eventual winner who won all his games.

The tournament was played at the Ibis hotel which is somewhat isolated on an industrial estate a longish walk from the station. Breakfast was included in the price, but on the final morning the fried potato pieces were apparently reheated from the previous day and inedible, but otherwise the food was OK. The coffee or tea provided in the room was very meagre, and no biscuits, but a complimentary bottle of water. The lighting in the room was also poor. There was a pleasant Nature walk around the hotel through woods beside a stream.

I also used the time to look around the Crewe town centre which is a mixture of boarded up shops, like the former BHS store, and new developments like the Lifestyle Centre, though the former Library building seems to have been abandoned. The Asda supermarket is enormous but very dreary from the exterior. A busker playing "Somewhere over the Rainbow" was helpful in adding cheer to the place. Neither W H Smith's nor Waterstone's stocked a Crewe A to Z. Presumably people now rely on accessing maps on the internet via their smart phones.

On the Friday I also took time to take the number 3 bus down to Tunstall in Stoke on Trent to take a further look at possible properties to rent if I move that way. Travelling on the trains to Crewe and back worked OK as regards the times. This was the first time for several years I had been on the London Underground. I had forgotten how deep the Northern line goes, with so many escalators, The main problems were on the final leg home from London Bridge when they kept announcing platform changes. I also had to stand from there to High Brooms. Probably I should have travelled earlier to avoid the rush hour.

Monday, 8 October 2018

A London Walk

On Thursday I bought a day return to London, for use on the Friday, with the aim of attending the British Chess Problem Society meeting. I didn't get round to travelling until the afternoon, but still arrived with plenty of time to spare. Looked around London Bridge Station to check the way to the Underground for future reference - it's quite a maze.

Eventually found my way out to Tooley Street which was jam-packed all down its length with buses bumper to bumper. Walked through Hays Galleria and along the Embankment.

The red-brick building that was my old school, St Olaves Grammar, is now subsumed into a monstrous concrete hotel, that still looks as if it requires a few more floors to be added. The whole area behind the school, where the London Mayor's offices now are used to be an industrial area full of tall cranes, long since gone. It is now a tourist hot spot for viewing Tower Bridge.

I took a walk over Tower Bridge, through the crowds of tourists, and along the cobbled walk on the north side of the river below the Tower of London. This comes out at the Monument built by Hooke and Wren to commemorate the 1666 Fire of London.

Walking up Pudding Lane I took a wrong turning along Eastcheap and Great Tower Street, heading back towards the Tower instead of up Gracechurch Street. Realising I'd gone wrong I took a left turn somewhere and headed towards the "Gherkin" building that I could glimpse between the other high-rise buildings. Found it quite easily and was back to Bishopsgate.

There was stilll time to spare before the meeting at 6pm so I walked up past Bishopsgate Institute and took a stroll round Spitalsfield, which is now a covered market with numerous restaurants.

Finally to the meeting in the small Hall at the back of St Bottolph's Church. It was pleasant to see some old faces of Problemists not seen for some time. I'm hoping to be able to get back into some composing ad solving, bit need to get up to date on the latest stipulations.

More later perhaps.


Sunday, 23 September 2018

Need for a Change

I seem to be unsettled lately. Can't concentrate on anything.
Maybe I need to get on with my proposed move to the Midlands.
Being in the same place for ten years is a long time for me.
Time for a change, a new scene, or a new stimulus.
It might also have something to do with the Brexit impasse.
The whole country needs a good shake-up.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

A Visit to the Midlands

I took the train and coach up to Leicester last Saturday (8 September) though regretted choosing to  walk from Waterloo to Victoria Coach Station, forgetting that the South Bank and Westminster Bridge would be crowded with sight-seers on a Saturday. I preferred to do this rather than risk the change of trains at East Croydon, between different train operators, since in my experience the transfer tends to takes longer than allowed for, especially when the train is late arriving.

On the Sunday I went to Leicester Secular Hall for their Open Day and for the lecture on Chapman Cohen in the evening. In between I visited old haunts in Leicester, where I lived for ten years, and found quite a bit of rebuilding had been done, as compared with last time I was there two years ago, when everything was being knocked down. The Abbey Park fortunately is much the same.

On the Monday I took to the trains again to visit Stoke on Trent, mainly because I had noticed some small terraced houses to rent, similar to the one I had in Leicester, at a reasonable rent. Also because I had only been to that area once before and wanted to see if I would like to live there. Generally I got a good impression, particularly the bus system centred on Hanley. I took a number 3 bus to Tunstall and had a walk in the park there.

Returned home on the Tuesday, but have felt somewhat tired since, so probably overdid the walking and travelling. For some reason I'm getting pains in my hands. Just getting old I suppose. If I do get round to moving to Stoke it will be my last move, but I do feel the need for a change of scene, as well as to make a saving on my rent, and have the freedom of my own front door.

Friday, 24 August 2018

Light Music and an Old Film

Listening to "Light Music" is one of my interests, to which end I am a member of the Light Music Society and have the set of four CDs of British Light |music Classics produced by Ronald Corp, And his others on American and European Classics.

Instead of Beethoven's Ninth that was on the Classic FM evening concert I decided to put on the fourth CD in the collection. This includes a piece called "Cavalcade of Youth" by Jack Beaver, whose name I was unfamiliar with. It includes a stately tune (used for a radio programme called "The Barlows of Beddington" that I've never heard of).

The notes in the leaflet that comes with the CD give Jack Beaver's dates as 1900 - 1963 and says he often contributed music to British films anonymously. It mentions The Thirty-Nine Steps (1933) which is well known and The Case of the Frightened Lady (1940) for which he provided what was considered the first "tabloid piano concerto".

Since I like Richard Addinsell's Warsaw Concerto, and Charles Williams' Dream of Olwen, I thought I would search for this Jack Beaver piece on You Tube. Sure enough they have a whole selection of his film music. Much of it sounds surprisingly familoar. The piano piece is called Portrait of Isla.

I also found that You Tube has the whole film of The Case of the Frightened Lady, and found it sufficiently intriguing to watch through for an hour last night. It is based on an Edgar Wallace play, and this theatricality shows. It is set in a creepy old house owned by an aristocratic family led by Lady Lebanon and her son, a composer. Her Secretary is Isla the Frightened Lady of the title.

As one might expect from an Edgar Wallace story it is a whodunnit, solved by Inspector Tanner of the Yard and his comical sidekick. Quite a few familiar actors of that period in the cast. Definitely a pleasant taste of nostalgia for me.

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Walking in the Rain

A nice quiet cool walk along the prom in the rain with my umbrella this afternoon.
Cool being the most operative word. Hardly anyone about.