Tuesday 24 June 2014

A Rose by Any Other Name

What's the most rock-n-roll name in the English language?

Is it a name dripping with rebellion? A name that says "Madam, your daughter isn't safe with me"? A name that says to society "I'm going to burn everything you hold dear"? No. It's Keith. The nominative equivalent of a yawn. A name so boring that it would embarrass a bank manager. A name surpassed in banality only by Kevin.

To make it as a rock star called Keith you'd have to have enough attitude and machismo to firstly counteract your own name, and then more left over for little things like stage presence and public profile.

I give you Keith Moon, Keith Richards, and Keith Flint. Wonderful musicians all. A man who defined the state of the art in both drumming aggression and vandalism, a man who has no right to have survived his own lifestyle, and a man who quite frankly still frightens me.

Richard "middle name" B

Tuesday 17 June 2014


This time last year my (rather excellent) rock band played its last show. We didn't know at the time that it would be our last gig, we played, for free, at a primary school summer fair. Playing and rehearsing in a rock band is quite a sweary and adult environment, I was very poor at modifying my language to suit being constantly surrounded by small children.

When I should have said "whoops" it came out as "shit" or "fuck"; "my word" became "fuck me". When I was talking to one of the children who performed (and her mum) I said  "you've got some bollocks" when I should have said "you've got some nerve". I said "pile of wank" to mean "of inferior quality" and "it's in the bag of sex toys" meaning "In the bag with the tambourine and maracas".

I was ashamed every single time I swore, but I take some solace in our girl singer. She's a mum, worked in a school, and was used to dealing with children. Unusually for us we were playing outside and the microphones had foam windshields. In front of a group of primary school children, and her own son she said "What the hell's happened to my mic? It's grown an afro! It's like I'm singing into a 1970's fanny".

Richard "Contains strong language and moderate sexual references" B

Tuesday 10 June 2014

Computer Programming

My day job is writing computer programs in a long-dead scripting language called ColdFusion, the syntax is called CFML. In a ColdFusion application there is a configuration file written in CFML. The Application that I work on is large and complex and contains an element of automatic configuration at installation. There is a module, written in CFML, that produces the CFML configuration file - this is a program generating a program. A couple of weeks ago I needed to make such wholesale changes to this module that I wrote a quick script to do it for me. Of course I wrote it in CFML. I wrote a CFML program to generate a CFML program whose job is generating a CFML program. It's as far down the rabbit hole of generated code as I've ever been, escaping the quotes and hashes wasn't straightforward.

Richard "Turing wouldn't have approved" B

Tuesday 3 June 2014

Hand Signals

This weekend I did a lot of miles on a motorbike. As a motorcyclist it's good practice to leave your headlight on at all times. It makes you more visible, and hopefully less likely to get run down. Most modern motorcycles don't even let you turn the headlight off. I can't understand why but quite a number of motorcyclists have decided to ride around with the high-beam on all the time. All this achieves is to dazzle and annoy the other road users. As a motorcyclist who would rather not get run down by a car I try to discourage any behaviour which predisposes car drivers against motorcyclists.

"You've got your high-beam on and it's annoying for everyone else on the road" is a difficult message to mime in a few seconds, but I have a special sort of wave which conveys the main sentiment. Start with your forearm horizontal and your palm upwards. Make a very loose fist - as though grasping something about the diameter of a broom handle. Now, while keeping the forearm still, vigorously waggle the fist left and right - the movement should all come from the wrist.  

Richard "lots of them wave back" B