Collected Ephemera #05


The Secret Life of the Motorway is being repeated once again on BBC Four and with justification because it’s just great – a three part documentary which plots the rise (and fall ?) of the motorway in the UK. The first two are particularly good with some beautiful footage of mostly empty roadways and any programme that gives Martin Parr the opportunity to show off some of his postcard collection is surely worth watching. For those of you wanting to build your own model motorway start here with the font used by Jock Kinneir and Margaret Calvert on their iconic signs.

– I don’t think I’ve tagged Speechification and Watchification yet which is extremely remiss of me because they are both fantastic sites that I would miss greatly if they shuffled off elsewhere – Speechification is currently the more successful of the two because of it’s ability to hold mp3 programmes long after they’ve disappeared off the ‘listen again’ radar (even though it isn’t strictly legal) but both are worthy of much much more than just a mention. The last few days, for instance, have allowed me to pick up on an excellent interview with the Pet Shop Boys (from Resonance FM), a half hour guide to Glitch (presented by the very fine Paul Morley on Radio 2 !) and a programme on Erics, the legendary venue in Liverpool (which was still very good despite the fact that Steve Lamacq fronted the programme – again on Radio 2). All are worth listening to and all were missed by me upon their initial transmission. So thanks to all involved.

– Being a Scrabulous widower my love for Scrabble ebbs and flows. My admiration for Mr Alfred Butts though is great. If you have a read of this article in the Guardian celebrating the 60th birthday of Scrabble you’ll see why. The article also informs us that the highest score that can be achieved in a single turn is for the word “oxyphenbutazone” (although they don’t explain how you’d manage this with only seven letters !) which would score you at least 1778 points.

– Nice piece in the Guardian about how landscaped gardens have changed the face of a Hackney estate. My cynicism wonders about the veracity of these stories however if it does work even to an extent then that’s very good news – especially for those living in Clapton Park.

Which feeds across to the rather fine idea of “Guerilla Gardening“, the book of which has just been published.

– Great piece in the Guardian about a new exhibition of Dan Dare artwork at the Science Museum in London, “Dan Dare and the Birth of Hi-tech Britain“. I wasn’t around when the Eagle first appeared however I was when it was reborn (in a slightly less pleasing format) in the 1980s, and although I was never a particular fan the artwork is rather splendid. And on the subject of the Science Museum there’s a lovely little piece here about the original Ernie computer which is about to go on display in the museum’s History of Computing gallery.

Frank Blackmore is no longer with us and his passing was noted in many of the papers. The obituary in the The Guardian was particularly good and featured a lovely picture of the legendary ‘magic roundabout’ in Swindon which thanks to Mr Blackmore “love them or loathe them, are cunningly effective ways of moving traffic”. The fact that family holidays were “punctuated with stops at intersections while he took photos from every possible vantage point” endears me to him further although I have to say I can imagine his family were less enamoured.

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