Tiny Tears

The children stared at him from the photo frame on the shelf, from a time when he was a hero who knew everything, when he was the funniest man in the world who loved more than he thought possible.

The half smoked cigarette burned the astray having just added a few more cancerous cells to his lungs, but he didn’t care- the future was the least of his worries. It was a future filled with the same day over and over again and all he could see was conference calls, emails, meetings and TV. No time spent drinking with friends down the pub talking about football and music, and instead the prospect of very rare outings with work colleagues which bored him to oblivion and only served to make him feel more lonely. Having a couple of drinks in between games of ten pin bowling was really not his cup of tea.

After an hour the screen started to blur and his head lightly smacked the desk as sleep overcame him and took him to a place where he could not hurt anymore.

“Marc, please be careful. This weather’s awful.” The rain splashed against the windscreen and fragmented into small magnifying splodges of water which made the task of seeing the road ahead and other vehicles even more difficult. Marc still felt safe at his customary eighty miles per hour in the outside lane.

“I’m fine Ruth, stop worrying. I have done this trip a hundred times before and never had a problem.” The ’tut’ at the end of his sentence highlighting his annoyance. Billy and Meg were asleep in the back of the car and had no idea weather like this was dangerous and that their father felt invincible at the wheel of a car.

“I’m just saying that’s all. How would you feel if something bad happened?”

“Nothing’s going to happen- you want to get home before midnight, don’t you?” Ruth rolled her eyes.

“I just want to get home in one piece thanks.” Silence took over for a few miles.

Marc was awoken by the sound of his phone beeping. It was 7am and he was still at the desk, but could feel a hard object pressing against his right ear, the mouse. The thirty seconds following sleep were his favourite part of the day. As his mind started to put together his memories for a brief moment he was not the person with so much anger and bitterness inside. He was just an ordinary guy with ordinary worries.

He decided to take a look at his emails, but lost interest fairly quickly and headed up to the bathroom. The November chill was especially apparent as he stepped into the shower and waited for the warm steamy water to bring his aching body back to life. He felt as though he had slept on a rock and could not dislodge the ache at the bottom of his spine. Despite the number of times he had decided never to fall asleep sitting at the desk again it still happened far too often.

The end of the shower brought back the November chill so he quickly walked to the bedroom where the radiators had started to dissipate condensation onto the windows and the morning sun peaked through the gap in the curtains. As usual his work suit, tie, socks, shoes and pants were all laid out in perfect order and ironed as perfectly as could be. His obsession with having every little thing ‘done’ had become more intense since it happened and sub-consciously he knew it was just a way to fill his time and to give him a sense of achievement no matter how minor.

The ten minute journey to work followed the same pattern as every other day. The queue at the traffic lights, the children walking across the zebra crossing guided by the chubby lollipop lady and the inevitable scramble to get into the single lane as it narrowed from two. These days he didn’t care who went past him and how close they got to taking his bumper off. The fact he could drive at all was a miracle.

After he had made his morning coffee and exchanged pleasantries with people he barely knew he was sat at his desk taking his laptop out of his briefcase and logging on for the boredom ahead. A couple of people looked up and meekly said ‘Good Morning’, but to this day they still seemed ill at ease with Marc’s presence.

He had always been the jovial life and soul of the party and his team was well known for working hard and having fun at the same time. He had tried desperately not to change since it happened, but he knew that it would never be the same again. The people around him had changed as much as he had and the gap between them was more than apparent. There was no pressure anymore from his manager and people under him did not question his ideas, they simply followed his instructions. No matter what he did or where he went the actions of those around him were a constant reminder of what he was now.

Every conference call and meeting followed the same pattern. People knew of his situation and stayed well away. Looks of pity greeted him wherever he went and some days it all became too much. He would leave early causing colleagues to presume he was still grieving, but in actual fact he just needed to get away from them, as far away as he could.

The times he had thought of leaving and moving away were too many to count. He knew that it was the only way to start his life again, but the thought of interviews, moving and dealing with so many people now scared him- the confidence was gone, replaced with an empty shell consumed with guilt every minute of every day.

I am expecting the full book to be available in 6-8 weeks. I started writing it 10 years ago and only came back to it recently, but I am hoping the wait has been worth it.

In Praise Of Shadows

This is an enchanting essay on aesthetics by one of the greatest Japanese novelists. Tanizaki’s eye ranges over architecture, jade, food, toilets, and combines an acute sense of the use of space in buildings, as well as perfect descriptions of lacquerware under candlelight and women in the darkness of the house of pleasure. The result is a classic description of the collision between the shadows of traditional Japanese interiors and the dazzling light of the modern age.

It’s not available as an eBook, it’s very short, it’s wonderful.

A Man & His Watch review

I bought the Kindle version of this book some time ago and read over a few nights before getting some much needed sleep. It is not a long book by any means and it is obviously not intended to keep you engrossed for hours on end, but it achieves everything it should do and much more for anyone who has a passion for the stories behind a watch.

If you have a healthy interest in watches you will know what I mean when I talk about the story because in many cases this is what makes a watch special and what drives the industry at the higher end. A watch brand has to have a story behind it to succeed at selling its products for what is obviously more than the material worth of the collected components. If you can add a story to an individual timepiece the value goes up even more because, well, just because.

Photo 04-05-2018, 18 47 39

It is hard to explain for someone who does not value watches and even harder to justify in a way that makes any logical sense. However, think about watches that are passed down as heirlooms and which some treasure more than any other object. I check the time on my father’s Bulova Deep Sea and I think of him every time I do this. I wonder how a particular scratch occurred or how the hour markers came to have the patina they do. No matter what part of the watch I consider, he wore it and small parts of his life exist in the way the watch has aged which makes it unique, and now I am repeating the process.

Watches have a life that other objects are not capable of sustaining. They have depth and they house part of the soul of the previous owner within them. It sounds fanciful, but to some of us that actually happens and that is what this book is about.

So, I had read the Kindle version and still decided to purchase the hardback. Why?

Photo 04-05-2018, 18 47 54

Well, that question was answered when it dropped through my letterbox, or rather the Amazon delivery man left it on my doorstep for anyone to steal.

Fortunately my daughter found it and within seconds I knew that the below £20 asking price was extremely low for such a well made book, especially one about watches. In this genre books tend to be as overpriced as many watches are, but here we have a book that you can pick up now and then for a quick two minute read of a personal story or one that you can relax and enjoy for extended periods. Or, you can simply gaze at the wonderfully intense photography that captures the past life of each timepiece to perfection. This kind of photography is far from easy, but it is consistent throughout the book and yet still manages to accentuate the individual personality of each model.

At times it feels like an art project designed to display aged watches in all their glory and at others it feels like a set of mini-biographies, but above all else it serves as a perfect introduction for anyone with a minor interest in watches or for those who cannot understand why some of us find them so fascinating.

This book has balance unlike most others. The relatively short length perfectly matches the photography and the length of each personal story, and we end up with a one of a kind publication which I hope will be part one of at least two or possibly even more. Whatever you interest level in horology, buy this book. Just buy it.

Available here.

The Radium Girls

1917. As a war raged across the world, young American women flocked to work, painting watches, clocks and military dials with a special luminous substance made from radium. It was a fun job, lucrative and glamorous – the girls themselves shone brightly in the dark, covered head to toe in the dust from the paint. They were the radium girls.
As the years passed, the women began to suffer from mysterious and crippling illnesses. The very thing that had made them feel alive – their work – was in fact slowly killing them: they had been poisoned by the radium paint. Yet their employers denied all responsibility. And so, in the face of unimaginable suffering – in the face of death – these courageous women refused to accept their fate quietly, and instead became determined to fight for justice.
Drawing on previously unpublished sources – including diaries, letters and court transcripts, as well as original interviews with the women’s relatives – The Radium Girls is an intimate narrative account of an unforgettable true story. It is the powerful tale of a group of ordinary women from the Roaring Twenties, who themselves learned how to roar.

The book is available here and is a fascinating read whether you are into watches or not.

Innovation and Its Enemies


The rise of artificial intelligence has rekindled a long-standing debate regarding the impact of technology on employment. This is just one of many areas where exponential advances in technology signal both hope and fear, leading to public controversy. This book shows that many debates over new technologies are framed in the context of risks to moral values, human health, and environmental safety. But it argues that behind these legitimate concerns often lie deeper, but unacknowledged, socioeconomic considerations. Technological tensions are often heightened by perceptions that the benefits of new technologies will accrue only to small sections of society while the risks will be more widely distributed. Similarly, innovations that threaten to alter cultural identities tend to generate intense social concern. As such, societies that exhibit great economic and political inequities are likely to experience heightened technological controversies.

Drawing from nearly 600 years of technology history, Innovation and Its Enemies identifies the tension between the need for innovation and the pressure to maintain continuity, social order, and stability as one of today’s biggest policy challenges. It reveals the extent to which modern technological controversies grow out of distrust in public and private institutions. Using detailed case studies of coffee, the printing press, margarine, farm mechanization, electricity, mechanical refrigeration, recorded music, transgenic crops, and transgenic animals, it shows how new technologies emerge, take root, and create new institutional ecologies that favor their establishment in the marketplace. The book uses these lessons from history to contextualize contemporary debates surrounding technologies such as artificial intelligence, online learning, 3D printing, gene editing, robotics, drones, and renewable energy. It ultimately makes the case for shifting greater responsibility to public leaders to work with scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs to manage technological change, make associated institutional adjustments, and expand public engagement on scientific and technological matters… More here.

Now this is a subject I want to understand more about. Bought.

The iPhone didn’t emerge from nowhere


Kramer’s idea did not come out of nowhere, either. It followed in the footsteps of the Sony Walkman, a portable cassette player. The Walkman was made possible by the invention of the cassette tape in 1963, which was itself made possible by reel-to-reel tapes in 1924, and so on back through history, everything emerging from the ecosystem of innovations before it… More at Wired.

The book the above article comes from is released today. My pre-order has been placed. Thanks to Bob.

There is another piece that looks at the world before the iPhone which is here. It’s rather good;)

Timekeepers: How the World Became Obsessed With Time


Time flies like an arrow, but fruit flies like a banana. The Beatles learn to be brilliant in an hour and a half. An Englishman arrives back from Calcutta but refuses to adjust his watch. Beethoven has his symphonic wishes ignored. A US Senator begins a speech that will last for 25 hours. The horrors of war are frozen at the click of a camera. A woman designs a ten-hour clock and reinvents the calendar. Roger Bannister lives out the same four minutes over a lifetime. And a prince attempts to stop time in its tracks… More at Amazon.

I’m reading this at the moment and so far it is very, very good. Learning lots of silly new facts.

No backups here

Screen Shot 2017-09-01 at 20.38.11.png

The manager of Terry Pratchett’s estate says he’s honoured the late fantasy author’s wishes by destroying a hard drive containing his unpublished works with a steamroller.

Rob Wilkins posted a picture of himself near a steamroller and tweeted: “About to fulfil my obligation to Terry.” More at cbcnews.

Thanks yet again to Bob!

How Bullshit Conquered the World


2016 marked the birth of the post-truth era. Sophistry and spin have coloured politics since the dawn of time, but two shock events – the Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s elevation to US President – heralded a departure into murkier territory.

From Trump denying video evidence of his own words, to the infamous Leave claims of £3.. More here. 50 million for the NHS, politics has rarely seen so many stretching the truth with such impunity.

Bullshit gets you noticed. Bullshit makes you rich. Bullshit can even pave your way to the Oval Office.

This is bigger than fake news and bigger than social media. It’s about the slow rise of a political, media and online infrastructure that has devalued truth.

This is the story of bullshit: what’s being spread, who’s spreading it, why it works – and what we can do to tackle it… More here.

My ever expanding reading list just got bigger.