British Rail planned nuclear-powered flying saucer

The Guardian reports that British Rail patented plans for a nuclear-powered flying saucer in 1973.

‘Charles Osmond Frederick, patented the design for a craft powered by laser-controlled thermonuclear fusion. Designed to reach high speeds in space, it was meant to move us around the globe and even to other planets.

Its “lifting platform” was designed for the British Railways Board and the patent was filed under the name of Jensen and Son.’

A bizarre and rather funny story. 1970’s British Rail staff being in charge of nuclear-powered vehicles just doesn’t bear thinking about. Although it could have made their limp sandwiches a bit more crispy!

 

A humorous mishap!

A friend had to make a dash for home. Throwing our shopping plans into total confusion.

Oops!

I went to the doctors. About six weeks ago I spotted a large lump to the side of my big toe. I was concerned it was a bunion. Anyway, it turns out it is just a bursa — a sac of fluid probably caused by my shoe rubbing — and it will probably clear up by itself.

I’m noticing a lot of aches and pains this winter, especially since the weather turned really cold over the past month. My knees don’t seem to have the same bounce that they used to.

I hate the cold, damp British winters and getting older too. Then again, even my Ghanian friend ‘K’ is suffering pains in his feet and he’s fifteen years my junior.

There’s nothing else for it… I’m just going to have to move to a warmer climate. Send your donations!

 

Mere Jeevan Saathi

Unexpectedly I was invited out to the pictures. Yes I was taken on a date — can you believe it? We went to the Odeon at The Trafford Centre where we saw Mere Jeevan Saathi.

It was in Hindi but had subtitles (luckily, as my Hindi is a bit rusty). But, after a while, I forget that I’m reading the dialogue.

This certainly held my attention to the end, even though it was more than two hours long. Loved the musical numbers and scenery. It was a tragic, melodramatic story. But also very camp.

Karisma Kapoor plays a rather scary woman who has an obsessive love for a pop star. The phrase ‘tragedy queen’ was invented for this character. She urgently needs help. But you can’t help feeling a little bit sorry for her. We’ve all been there… Though personally I drew the line at explosives.

Karisma Kapoor looks like Valerie Leon I think.

 
 

Manchester Pride 2004 – just 34.5% of Operation Fundraiser ticket money went to good causes

Today I received some official figures for Manchester Pride 2004 via my Member of Parliament. They appear to show that only about 34.5% of Operation Fundraiser ticket money from the event went to good causes. The rest was spent on costs. So far I have been unable to get figures for collection bucket money. I don’t know where that is included.

Currently the Operation Fundraiser website states:

‘Once again in 2005/06 50% of the money raised by Operation Fundraiser at Manchester Pride will go directly to Community Futures’

From the figures that I have seen for the years 2003 and 2004, and the information I have now received from Manchester Pride, that statement from Operation Fundraiser appears to be untrue. I don’t see how they can say 50%.

If you’re wondering why I had to involve my MP. The answer is because Operation Fundraiser will not give me information.

In 2004, Operation Fundraiser collected £331,192 from ticket sales at Manchester Pride. They handed over 50% of that money to Manchester Pride to cover the cost of running the event. Leaving £165,596.

Operation Fundraiser Annual Report 2004-2005 - no mention of a ££165,596 that was handed over to Manchester Pride towards running costs

Operation Fundraiser’s ‘Annual Report’ leaflet, which they distributed last August, was misleading. In it they add together the £165,596 ‘net proceeds’ Pride figure and a £43,812 figure (for other non-pride fundraising and donations). Giving a ‘total income’ of £209,408.

Then they deduct their own costs of £79,982. Leaving just £129,426 for good causes in 2004.

The true costs in 2004 were £165,596 handed over to Manchester Pride. Plus £79,982 of Operation Fundraiser’s own costs. Total costs: £245,578.

Therefore we can say that out of ticket sales and non-pride year-round fundraising (£331,192 + £43,812), Operation Fundraiser spent 65.5% (£165,596 + £79,982) on costs and only 34.5% (£129,426) went to good causes.

I don’t know where collection bucket money is in all of this.

In the Operation Fundraiser ‘Annual Report’ 2004 leaflet, they don’t mention the £165,596 that was handed over to Manchester Pride. By doing so, they give the public a false impression of what percentage of income goes to good causes. They make the situation appear much better than it really is.

Interesting to note that, although Operation Fundraiser handed over less to cover the running costs of the event in 2004 than it did in 2003 (£200,000 in 2003 and £165,596 in 2004), Operation Fundraiser’s own costs in 2004 are some £20,000 more than the previous year (£59,520 in 2003 and £79,982 in 2004). A 33% increase in running costs in one year. Why?

Which leaves a final figure for good causes in 2004 that is just £1,736 more than the previous year. Quite a coincidence… Sometimes it feels as if there is a ‘glass ceiling’ on the amount that is allowed to go to good causes each year.

 

Video music

One of my friends has said the music in my videos always sounds the same.

I think it’s true and a consequence of me using Acid Pro to make ‘music’ from loops. That combined with the fact that I’m just not very musical.

I really want to keep away from having any commercial music in my videos. The fact is, you are infringing copyright even if the music is at a low volume in the background and you just happened to pick it up.

Channel Four’s FourDocs website has some excellent information about copyright and other legal issues that affect UK videomakers.

I’ve found a couple of places that offer free original music in exchange for a credit. Now I just need some videos to go around that specific music!

Recently I spent some time building a completely new soundtrack for some video of a Manchester gay event from 1991. In the original footage, half a dozen music tracks from the time can be heard quite prominently on the soundtrack.

I took some crowd noise that I’d recorded at another gay event. Made up some (hopefully) Hi-NRG-sounding loops in Acid Pro and added some echo to them to make it sound as if it was all happening ‘live’ in Sackville Park (which is surrounded by tall buildings). A car-interior effect was added to one scene and a few seconds have some original sound that included no music.

Hugely time-consuming: a couple of hours to fix up a one minute clip. Here it is.

I think it works pretty well. You may think it’s ‘fake’ but, the fact is, TV and film editors do exactly the same thing all the time.

Currently many bloggers and other sites are getting away with using copyright material in a way that traditional publishers and TV companies wouldn’t dare. It is especially serious if they have ads on their site and are earning an income. I reckon the media companies and music industry will start picking on them very soon…

 

Ox for lunch

My sister was in Manchester on business and offered to treat me to a late birthday lunch on her. We went to the The Ox — a pub on Liverpool Road that I’d heard good things about.

We weren’t disappointed. We had soup and then a big sandwich each. Mine was chicken breast, bacon and onions. The staff are friendly and the atmosphere is nice.

My little nephews had sent me a birthday video message. So I recorded one for them.

My sister was impressed with Manchester and thought it very clean compared to London. Interesting to get the first impressions of someone who hasn’t visited for a long time.