Birthday

One of the nicest birthdays I’ve had in a while…

I woke up to find an email with a small video attached: my two little nephews, aged three and six, singing ‘Happy Birthday Uncle’. Very sweet.

Then, lunch with Peter and two of his friends at our favourite curry place. After which we visited two pubs. I don’t drink much so I was feeling distinctly merry after two pints of cider.

Then I went to meet ‘L’ & ‘T’. We saw each other from opposite sides of Deansgate. Their three-year-old daughter was waving and jumping up and down, holding my birthday card. We went to a Turkish restaurant where she sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to me. I’m not a very sentimental person, but it nearly brought to a tear to my eye. Twice in one day! My Ghanian friend ‘K’ arrived too.

Then we did a bit of shopping and I got home about 9pm.

When I saw the children singing, I had a flashback to when I was about six years old and at school. Unexpectedly, the teacher lifted me up so I was standing on the table and the whole class sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to me.

 

Video formats on my site

Updated on 14 April 2006

In the world of online video, things change almost weekly. Just when it seems I’ve found the ideal format for the videos on my site, along comes something better and it’s ‘all change’ again.

Then there are the developments with the hosting and listing of videos: iTunes, blip.tv and YouTube, RSS feeds… More people are getting ever-faster broadband and inexpensive portable video players are just months away… It’s all pretty exciting.

I’m switching to Quicktime (.mov) for the videos that are embedded on the page. I never thought I’d use Quicktime, but I like the way it works now. There will also be options to download either Quicktime (.mov) or Windows Media (.wmv).

Windows users may like to check out the free Quicktime Alternative player which will save you having to install the official bloatware. Though you’ll have Quicktime already if you’re installed iTunes.

Up until now, putting up two versions of each video meant that I was rapidly running out of space on the server. But now I’ll be hosting some of the files at blip.tv.

You probably won’t even notice, but you may like to check out blip.tv as I think it is the best video sharing service around at the moment.

 

Carry On Screaming with The Sun

In terms of sheer hypocrisy no other British newspaper can match The Sun. Take Tuesday’s issue…

On the bottom half of the front page: relatives of the victims of the ‘Moors Murderers’ condemn Granada Television for merely filming an episode of Coronation Street on Saddleworth Moor.

On the top half of The Sun’s front page: ‘Free today! Carry On Screaming DVD’. Which is especially appalling when you consider that Brady and Hindley recorded one of their victims as they abused her.

Carry On Screaming with The Sun

Presumably it is OK for Rupert Murdoch to use the murders along with a comedy DVD to sell his rag of a ‘newspaper’?

As far as the Coronation Street issue is concerned… I have sympathy with the relatives, but I don’t think you can ban all filming at a certain location because of something that happened forty years ago. Any drama that is based in Manchester, and which needs a desolate location, is going to turn to the moors.

Actually I’ve always wondered if the 1959 film Hell Is A City gave Brady ideas in the first place. There is a scene in that where a woman who works in a bookmakers is abducted by the robbers, murdered in the car and her body thrown out on the moors.

Very few films were made in Manchester, so Hell Is A City would have been a big event. It had its premiere at the Apollo Theatre, Ardwick, in April 1960. Brady and Hindley began killing and burying the bodies on Saddleworth Moor just over three years later…

 

130-year-old cast-iron bridge removed on Canal Street

Until about a month ago there was a 130-year-old cast-iron bridge across the canal at the junction of Sackville Street and Canal Street, in the gay village. Now it has been removed and replaced by a concrete replica.

I took these photographs on Sunday, but I held off posting about this until I had checked the facts. But yes it’s true. It has all gone and what you see now, in the pictures shown here, is moulded concrete that will be painted.

The 130-year-old cast-iron bridge on Canal Street has been replaced by a concrete one

The 130-year-old cast-iron bridge on Canal Street has been replaced by a concrete one

The 130-year-old cast-iron bridge on Canal Street has been replaced by a concrete one

The 130-year-old cast-iron bridge on Canal Street has been replaced by a concrete one

The really pathetic thing is that they have screwed the original makers plate onto the concrete.

The existing bridge didn’t meet traffic regulations. Heaven forbid that they might stop enormous buses hurtling along this street and route them another way, so the original bridge could have been preserved. Far easier to destroy another part of Manchester’s heritage…

People may think ‘it’s only a bridge’. The trouble is, bits here and there disappear and, before you know it, an area has lost everything that made it ‘special’ in the first place.

I know Manchester has to be a working city. But we’re told that, in the future, Britain will have to rely on its cultural heritage to compete with emerging nations such as China and India. The trouble is, we’re throwing our cultural heritage down the drain through neglect and unsympathetic development.

In Manchester, the planners seem to have no overall picture in their heads. Everything is turning into an ugly ‘mish-mash’.

 

Curious building techniques

In recent years there has been a tremendous amount of building going on in Manchester. It’s all around, all the time, and as I walk into the city centre for lunch with Peter several times each week we get to see the new buildings appear step-by-step.

Curious new buiding under construction at Spring Gardens, Manchester

Yesterday we saw this curious structure in Spring Gardens, near the Post Office. We couldn’t quite visualise how it may end up. Peter thought it looked like something from the backlot of a Hollywood studio.

Building techniques seem to change all the time too. The latest thing seems to be huge white polystyrene sheets that are sandwiched inside walls. Many buldings seem to grow from the inside out these days.

Curious new buiding under construction at Spring Gardens, Manchester

 

48% think smoking should be outlawed completely

Last night MPs voted to ban smoking in all pubs, clubs, restaurants and other enclosed public spaces in England. The ban should start from summer 2007.

I’m delighted because I have asthma and an hour spent in a smoke-filled pub generally means a day feeling bad afterwards.

Yesterday we were in a cafe having a meal and there were several people smoking. This is the problem. For every considerate smoker, there is one who seems to take great delight in being as obnoxious as possible. Glad to see the end of it.

A poll for BBC Newsnight found that 64% of the public agreed that smoking should be banned in all public places. While 48% thought all smoking should be completely outlawed — anytime, any place.

Campaigners welcome smoking ban

 

A critical rise in world temperatures is now unavoidable

The Independent newspaper reports that a dangerous rise in temperature is now unavoidable. We are on course for ‘a rise in global mean temperatures to two degrees above the level before the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th century,’ the article says.

The two degree threshold was set down by scientists from around the world last year and, beyond it, really dangerous climate change is likely to be unstoppable.

Consequences include the Greenland ice sheet melting which would lead to a sea-level rise of several metres.

Global warming: passing the ‘tipping point’