Monday, 20 March 2023

Ghetto AA

 At the weekend I was exceptionally helpful, but also somewhat cruel to a stranded motorcyclist. I have decades and hundreds of thousands of miles of experience on motorbikes. The youngster that I bumped in to had been on bikes for less than a year and still had L plates. He knew nothing of chain maintenance, so his chain was rusty and stretched to the point that it had come off the rear sprocket. I had all the tools and knowledge to get him moving again and he was less than a quarter of a mile from my house. "I can fix that for you, we just need to push it back to my place" I told him. When I started pointing out where we were going I saw just how much of a hill we had to push his bike up. "actually" I said "I'll take my bike home and then I'll walk back and meet you". When I did meet him he'd done all the hard work and was out of breath, I was as fresh as a daisy and easily pushed the bike the rest of the way (level and downhill).

 I showed him how to adjust the chain tension. I refitted his chain, cleaned, lubricated and adjusted it and sent him on his way. The bargain that I struck with him was that he'd lubricate and adjust his chain each month, and that he'd stop and offer to help the next stranded motorist that he saw. I bet he'll also be much more wary of even slight inclines when he's moving a motorbike around by hand.

 Richard "Let this be a lesson to you" B

Sunday, 12 March 2023

Public Address for Sale

This is a complete public address system that has been used to great effect for a number of years. It was the PA for "The Kicks" function band, "Supersonic" Oasis tribute band, "The Backbeat Beatles" tribute band, many weddings, pub bands, and it was the PA for the Holbeton festival for a couple of years. It would suit a working band, a co-operative of working bands, or a venue. It has a power rating of 1kW front-of-house and 0.5kw foldback.

Mixing console, amplifiers and EQ:

Soundcraft MFXi analogue mixing console with Lexicon effects unit. 12 mic channels, 2 stereo channels. 2 aux busses, 1 FX/aux bus. 1 stereo subgroup. LPF and 3 band EQ with swept mid on every channel. Very high quality mic preamps.

2 single channel 15 band graphic equalisers.

1 Yamaha P5000S 1kW stereo amplifier (front of house)

1 Yamaha P2500S 0.5kW stereo amplifier (foldback)

All fitted into custom made cases.


4 Shure SM58 vocal mics (one with rhinestones for some reason) (dynamic)

1 Shure Beta 58 supercardioid vocal mic (dynamic)

2 Shure SM57 instrument mics (dynamic)

2 AKG C1000S overhead mics (small diaphragm condenser)

1 AKG D112 bass drum mic (dynamic)

All mics are in soft cases in a flight case, except the overheads which are in their own hard cases.

DI boxes:

4 IMG Stageline passive DI boxes. These are packed in the same flight case as the mics. They are very sturdy units in heavy steel cases and they do not require batteries or phantom power from the desk.

Mic stands:

3 K&M tripod stands with boom.

3 K&M tripod stands with telescopic boom

3 generic low level mic stands.

The K&M stands are absolutely superb "touring" quality stands with heavy bases. The 3 low level stands are of moderate quality. All the mic stands pack into 2 bags.

Speakers and monitors:

2 Mackie passive speakers. 2 way reflex with 12" bass driver and piezo horn. Superb quality high power crossover. These speakers just require 1 speaker cable, no power supply or external crossover wiring.

2 Wedge shaped floor monitors. 2 way reflex with 12" bass driver and piezo horn. These were manufactured by NJD (now defunct) using Celestion drivers and a high quality English built crossover. The cases are MDF with a steel grille. These speakers just require 1 speaker cable, no power supply or external crossover wiring.


Mic leads
Speaker cables
Input cables
Patch leads
Snake - stage box, 20m multicore and tails with 8 inputs and 4 returns 
 All the main cables are very high quality using Neutrik plugs, oxygen free copper, and high quality jacket materials.

Spares and emergency replacements:

Behringer 8 channel powered mixer with 500W amplifier built in.
Warrior 800W stereo amplifier.
I have never needed to use either of these.

All yours for just £3000

Tuesday, 7 March 2023


 There was a wonderful line in a Victoria Wood comedy series where, among one of his other complaints, a character complained that he was half way though a tube of toothpaste that I don't like.

I've got similar low grade annoyances.

  1. The washer bottle on my Fiat Panda is nearly empty. It doesn't matter how often or how far you fill it up. There's a leak somewhere, but not at the very bottom of the bottle, within a day there will be about half a pint left. It's not quite bad enough for me to spend the time to fix it, but if you go on a long journey you're guaranteed to run out.
  2. I've got a bunch of grapes where every other one will brake at the stalk rather than the stalk pull out of the fruit. You get a little gritty bit of stalk in your mouth, or you have to try to carefully extract it from the grape with your fingernails.

 Richard “I need the big light and my reading glasses – I’m going to eat a few grapes” B

Sunday, 5 March 2023


 My favorite breakfast is poached eggs on toast, very simple but when done well delicious. The problem I have is I'm terrible at making it and it's disappointing so I rarely do it. When I was in a boujie coffee house in London, as a treat and knowing it would be done expertly, I ordered poached eggs on toast and it arrived looking almost perfect. I rhetorically asked "how do they do that?" making a mental comparison with my crappy efforts and my dining companions raised an eyebrow like I was an idiot and said, together, "cling film". As it turns out I am apparently the last person in the developed world to not know that everyone makes poached eggs using cling film (saran wrap). Obviously I don't need to explain it because everyone (except me) knows how to do it. And yes it works brilliantly well and you don't need to wash the pan up either. Which leads us to a very important breakfast question: Why don't the French have two eggs for breakfast? Because, in France one egg is an oeuf.

Doug "Google it" B

Wednesday, 1 March 2023


 This weekend I bodged round a problem on my sports car. The control for the cabin heater had got very stiff. Lubrication and cleaning fixed this quite easily, but the forces I'd used to turn the heat on and off had bent and dislodged part of the heater. Frankly I'm amazed that it doesn't leak.

 I leave this piece of information here just so that humanity doesn't forget it. I got this tip from a Haynes manual for a Kawasaki Z series motorbike (not the Z1000, I think that was in a different manual) and I haven't seen it anywhere else. The manual was probably from the late 80s or early 90s:

You can make a funnel out of Plasticine and use it to run oil through a Bowden cable if you hang it upright. After and hour or two the whole cable will be lubricated. If you use light oil and leave it overnight you can get a surprising amount of dirt and rust out of the cable. Don't do this is the cable has one of those plastic sleeves between the inner and the outer. I don't think Plasticine exists any more. Blutack doesn't work because it dissolves in the oil. I used automotive detailing clay.

Richard "Or buy a new cable" B

Tuesday, 21 February 2023

Sewing Box

 The gas meter at my house is more than 20 years old and the battery in it is flat so it needs to be replaced. It's not a smart meter and there isn't room in its box to put a smart meter in.

 I got these instructions from my energy supplier.

“To help our metering team understand more about your situation, please reply to this email with a video of your meter. The video needs to show you pressing a button on the meter. Once you’ve pressed it, take a step back so the video shows the full setup of your meter and the area around it.”

There aren't any buttons on my meter, but this was easily solved with a quick trip to my sewing box.

Richard "Malicious Compliance" B

Thursday, 16 February 2023

Dick Measuring Contest

 There are lots of phrases in the English language, but we often don't give them much thought, we just learn them, like words, when we are children. For example I wouldn't know whether someone "toes a line" or "tows a line". I was struck recently by the absurdity of a "dick measuring contest". It's a MEASURING contest, note, not a SIZE contest. How would you win? By measuring the most? By measuring them most accurately? It can't be about the speed with which you measure them otherwise it would be a "dick measuring race" so I'm going to assume that it's about style, panache and technical ability, and that there's a panel of expert judges, like at diving or Olympic figure skating.

Richard "Program Component's Score" B

Tuesday, 7 February 2023


I've just come back from a cruise. It was great and slightly surreal. I mainly spent my time watching the world and the calendar go by. I've eaten too much. I've had a hangover in just about every major north sea port. I've been in a force 8 gale at sea and it was smooth enough to shower, shave and attend a beer festival. We ended up with force 10 winds (only 4m seas) on the beam and the rolling motion was quite violent - the decks were closed, the swimming pools were drained and the deckchairs were lashed down.

Richard "floating all-inclusive hotel" B


Back in the day I used to play guitar in a function band. Most of us stayed in the band for the whole time, we changed bass players once, but drummers were more slippery. We lost them to: Was too good for us and couldn’t really be bothered. Was rubbish and had to be replaced. Moved to Exeter with Yoko. Finished his degree and moved away. Emigrated in response to a pandemic.

 Richard “choked on vomit, bizarre gardening accident, exploded on stage” B

Monday, 23 January 2023

Sealed For Life

 When I started driving pretty much every car battery said either "maintenance free" or "sealed for life" on it. That was to distinguish them from the old fashioned batteries where you were in charge of maintaining the level of the battery acid. I don't think I've seen that written on a battery in a decade or two and I haven't had to top up a battery in all the time I've owned my own cars. Or so I thought.

After about 3 years the battery in my Caterham failed. I bough a new one and didn't think much of it because the car lives in a cold garage for the whole winter and isn't used. So that I wouldn't have to buy another battery so soon I also bought a posh battery charger and conditioner (made by CTEK). Another 3 years have passed and when I came to service the Caterham the battery was dead. Not only dead, but as it turned out - bone dry. After £85 and a humiliating lesson in battery maintenance I now know that the battery in my sports car is not maintenance free and that I should have been topping it up every 3 months. Let's hope that this one lasts a bit longer.

 Richard "de-ionized water" B

Wednesday, 11 January 2023

I've Been Working on a Cocktail

 I've been making cocktails and I'm trying to perfect a drink called a Metropolitan Brandy Cocktail. It's brandy, sweet vermouth and sugar. I prefer it with a dash of bitters. I think it tastes better shaken, rather than stirred, but it looks worse - it gets a slightly scummy foamy head on it. This would be like saying "I like guinness but I don't like the white foam on top" but I decided to try to make a shaken Metropolitan without a head. My research turned up various techniques to either physically skim off the foam or to try to inhibit its formation. None of them worked well, and seemingly none of the people who tell you how to mix drinks on the internet have a background involving laboratory glassware. I went out and bought a separatory funnel and it works perfectly. I shake the drink as normal, but pour it into a sep-funnel. I then let it stand (in the fridge of the freezer) for a couple of minute so that all the bubbles rise to the top. I then drain the drink from the bottom of the funnel into a glass (it should be a coupe but I don't own any) and stop just before any of the head flows out.

Richard "faff" B