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Tuesday, 28 July 2009


There are 19,000 known species of bees worldwide and about 260 in the United Kingdom, according to Dave Cushman.  However only six bumblebees are commonly found in our gardens, according to the Natural History Museum and (according to their chart on the previous link) this bee is a Bombus terrestris.  I believe this is the most typical bumblebee that we encounter. There is also a lot of information about these creatures on

In the photo above, the wings of the bee appear so small in relation to it’s body and it reminds me of the science has proved that bees can’t fly urban myth.

The “science has proved that bees can’t fly” urban myth originated in a 1934 book by entomologist Antoine Magnan, who discussed a mathematical equation by Andre Sainte-Lague, an engineer. The equation proved that the maximum lift for an aircraft’s wings could not be achieved at equivalent speeds of a bee. I.e., an airplane the size of a bee, moving as slowly as a bee, could not fly. Although this did not mean a bee can’t fly (which after all does not have stationary wings like the posited teency aircraft), nevertheless the idea that Magnan’s book said bees oughtn’t be able to fly began to spread.

It spread at first as a joke in European universities, at Sainte-Lague’s & Magnan’s expense. But later it became a “fact” among the gullible or the uneducated not smart enough to get the joke. Later still it became a “fun” experiment to develop complex mathematical theories both to explain how insects fly, or why they can’t—scientific intellectual sophism.

And of course last year a scientist “proved” that pterodactyls were too heavy to fly. Let me rephrase that: according to a newspaper a scientist “proved” that pterodactyls were too heavy to fly.

Posted by bigblue on 28/07/2009 at 09:28 AM
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Monday, 27 July 2009
Raindrop on leaf


We are back to some wet weather this week.

Posted by bigblue on 27/07/2009 at 09:54 AM
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Sunday, 26 July 2009
Purple flower


I am also not responsible for this flower: it creeps over the fence from my neighbour.  I love the stamens & filaments, as they remind me of sea anemone.

Posted by bigblue on 26/07/2009 at 11:01 AM
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Weed or flower?


This is a very tiny wild flower that I grow in my garden. Let me correct that: I leave it to grow in my garden. I think my neighbours would remove the plant as a weed, but I think that when you have several hundred of them coming up in your flowerbeds, forming a kind of ground-cover, they are quite beautiful.

Posted by bigblue on 26/07/2009 at 10:20 AM
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Garden life


I’m in the garden again today and discovered this insect.

Posted by bigblue on 26/07/2009 at 09:40 AM
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Saturday, 25 July 2009
Purple flying thingy


I’m not sure what it is, but there are a few of them and they are attracted to my lavender plants.

Posted by bigblue on 25/07/2009 at 08:37 PM
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Daisy comes


It’s taken a long time but finally - the wild seeds that I harvested last autumn and carefully cultivated since Spring have developed into flowering plants ...

Posted by bigblue on 25/07/2009 at 04:35 PM
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Thursday, 23 July 2009
This Charming Man


The Youngest and I went to see Morrissey perform at the Brixton Academy this evening. An amazing performance, that exceeded my expectations. I came to Morrissey late, although I owned some Smiths stuff from ‘80s compilation albums and I have always felt that his best is behind him. On the other hand his live performance tonight seemed to recapture an excitement that I felt had been missing since Suedehead. His backing band was also impressive and their contribution to the energy of the performance shouldn’t be overlooked.

Update: 25 July 2009 I wrote the above rather hastily and late at night, after arriving home from the concert so I will add a few more words here.

It all started when the aforementioned Youngest came to me on Tuesday morning, while I was working from home, and suggested that we should go and see Morrissey that night. She said it could be my Christmas present (Christmas in July?), but that unfortunately she could only afford my ticket so would I pay for her to go too.  I was interested, but as the concert was on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Brixton Academy I suggested we go the following night. So she ran upstairs to write down the details of the website, and by the time she returned 5 minutes later I had looked up the details, and bought two tickets for the Wednesday night.  On the way I had asked the Eldest if she wanted to come along (she declined) and established that the forthcoming Royal Albert Hall concert was already sold out.

So it came to pass that on Wednesday at 5:30 pm the two of us left home and drove up into London. According to my SatNav it is a 40 minute drive, which usually means (for urban roads) that it will take double the time, and this journey was no exception. We were tempted to stop off at Chennai Dosa on the way but decided it would be better to get to the concert in time and then take care of our stomachs. We parked at the multi-story parking lot and walked a couple of hundred metres across to the Academy.

On the way we passed the tree of remembrance for Sean Rigg outside Brixton Police Station.  Sean Riggs died on 28 August 2008 in police custody.

A physically healthy man in mental crisis comes into contact with the police and dies within a short period of doing so, possibly whilst still in police custody. In those circumstances, we his family are entitled to an explanation of how and why he was detained; how he was restrained; and what happened in those crucial minutes between him being forced in a police van and his arriving at Brixton Police Station.

At the Academy we joined a queue, got our tickets and then went across the road to get a quick bite and drink before the concert.  There were a number of people outside scrounging for tickets and at the box office we felt sorry for the people complaining that they had bought tickets for the cancelled gigs (Morrissey cancelled some shows earlier in the year due to illness) and that the publicity was bad for these concerts so they didn’t find out in time to get replacement tickets.

In the queue:

View of the Academy from across the road:

Inside the venue there were a number of merchandising stalls - I bought a t-shirt and a sticker - as well as a forlorn/less popular Peta stall:

I know Morrissey is a supporter of theirs so I wasn’t surprised but it seems that his fans are not such big supporters.  All the while we were hearing the warm-up act, Doll & the Kicks (a local Brixton band) and it was good. Eventually we made our way into the arena and caught the last 3 or 4 songs of their set.  Then, while the roadies rearranged the set for Morrissey and his band we were entertained with a montage of videos including people such as Shelagh Dealney, New York Dolls, Lou Reed, and Spark’s Lighten up Morrissey.


Then the show began, and Morrissey came on and launched into This Charming Man. I must say I prefer his “new” version to the original. Many of the songs (I lost count and cannot name them) were “oldies” and I preferred the way he does them now.  And as I wrote above the rest of the show was pure energy with one song after another.  In between numbers he did engage with the audience.  For example at one stage he told us that no UK music magazine had attended/reviewed his London concerts and added “what a surprise”.  Another time he mentioned that The Times had written a review the previous week where they accused him of being offensive without stating what he had said or been offensive to. He added that this was typical of journalists and that “the world is full of crashing bores” (cue the song). I see now that the review in question no longer accuses him of being “offensive”. The review does say that

Skull-rattling volume and adventurous instrumentation helped to electrify the lacklustre new album tracks, notably the fiery flamenco-punk gallop of When Last I Spoke to Carol and the bass-heavy bruiser I’m OK by Myself. Giant gongs, crashing kettle drums and blazing trumpets brought an extra layer of melodrama.

As I have already written I was impressed by the talents of his band, who performed this “adventurous instrumentation”, although I noticed precisely one giant gong and one trumpet during the entire show.


Another time Morrissey remarked to us that we might be surprised that there are fans who follow the band to all the shows in different countries on their international tours. He thanked all of us earlier, but he gave them special thanks saying we don’t even know your names [woman’s voice from the back of the arena: “Anna!”] but we recognise your faces from the scars. I also appreciated the way he reached out to touch the hand of all the fans who made their way “over the top” to do so, knowing that they would be evicted by the heavies in front.


I had thought that almost half of the songs sung on the night were “oldies” but according to the Times it was a third.  Besides for the “vamped up” oldies, I felt the live performance of the “newies” was better than the CD versions, and if I had gone to the Tuesday night concert I would probably have tried to go again on Wednesday too. Irish Blood, English Heart roused me in a way it never had before. At the end Morrissey and his band were taking their time to return for the encore, and the Youngest ventured to suggest that the show might be over. Having a bit of knowledge as to what was going to happen next, I assured her that they would be back to perform First of the Gang to Die, which is her favourite Morrissey song. It was a good way to end, for all of us.


Posted by bigblue on 23/07/2009 at 12:14 AM
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