Monday 25 July 2022

The holocaust of the owls

For many years I collected owls. At one point in Stevenage we had an "owl tree". In Coton, they sat upon shelves and the mantlepiece and the display cabinet. Eventually I stopped adding to them, and they remained, slowly aging and getting dusty. I rarely looked at them because I knew them all.

But when we moved - and somewhat earlier, in truth - it became clear that there were too many of them, and a cull was needed. I failed to cull in advance, so they all moved, and I've now culled quite a few. Here are the ones that didn't make the cut.

The one I'll note for future memories is the "three owls on a branch" that I bought on my long walk through France; and which I then copied with the scroll saw when Daniel was small. I parted with those reluctantly.

Sunday 24 July 2022

Dr Fry

1658689806997-4c1e9ab4-c6b5-4ae2-961d-d3bf12199ac3_ Many many years ago in Junior School I studied history against my will, and I think this particular episode was pre O-level years too.
We had a teach called Winterbottom, inevitably known as Numb-Bum, but not unkindly, he was a decent bloke. As a Master he was of course ancient, though I now discover that he was only twenty years older than me.

Anyway, he wrote a book, about Thomas Charles Fry, who was head of the school oh-so-long-ago, or so I thought, but in fact around the 1900's (the cover image deceived me, and at the time I didn't look closer: but it turns out he was not as he somewhat appears mediaeval). Naturally, as a schoolboy I was totally uninterested in Fry or the book; and when copies were given out at the end of the year I put mine away unread.

Recently we moved house, and my copy emerged, and I thought I would try reading it; it is only 56 pages. And so I did. It is interesting and brings back happy memories of the school, and reminds me of how unthinking I was then... though I don't quite mean that; I mean how uninterested in, say, the history of the school I was.

Fry turns out to be responsible for quite a lot of the school buildings still there in my time: the old science block, which had been converted into Bees and Swifts; Dean's Hall; the Chapel; the Lychgate; the swimming pool. I think the library must post-date him though.

I won't detail the book; it is now out of print so you'll struggle to find it; abebooks has one (Clunbury Cottrell Press, Berkhamsted, 1977); if you're in Cambridge you're welcome to borrow mine.

Wednesday 20 July 2022

Pre-bumps assessment 2022

full Most years I forget to write what I think before bumps, but this time I've remembered.

Overall: good.

This year, we're definitely faster than our average over previous years: we hit sub-1:30 on every start and even hit 1:19 once, with a tailwind. We are: Harry, Jonathon, SteveO, Conor, Alistaire, Jon, me and Ralph; and cox Theo (photo-shopped in is Adam, see later). Ali is ex-Kings and has only been with us a month but is young and strong; in general our power this year is better than before, with the exception of me; my 2k this year was 7:31.6. Conor's was 6:35 and Ali is rumoured sub-6:30. Theo is a good cox, active and enthusiastic; his only bad point is that he starts spinning from bowside, and can be a little cautious.

Training has gone well; we're balanced and we're prepared to put effort in. We've only had 2-3 outings per week, but perhaps that helps keep us fresh.

Of our opponents we know little, so I won't speculate here... or will I? Maybe I will. St Neots have been dropped down due to Slow and Robs 2 dropped entirely due to Not Existing. So we start at 9, chasing Tabs 3, and being chased by Nines 3. Tabs appear to have settled on Hills Rd, though they have been Aquaphobes at one point. I think I'd feel more confident against Aquaphobes, but it will be fun to row against the Evil Hills Road crew. And Nines are not strong this year but they have Henk at 5. That's day one, subsequent days can look after themselves.

Note: due to the heatwave, Monday and and Tuesday were cancelled, boo hiss. I wouldn't have, but I do admit it was extremely hot and a defensible decision.

Post-bumps assessment

And now it is all over; this written Sunday night. The official write-up is here; it is rather short because there wasn't a lot to celebrate alas. However, M1 did win the Captain's Prize for the best crew that didn't win blades, with the glorious score of two row-overs and one down; alas, all the ladies went down each night, and M2 twice. That of course is a bare account and not a fair assessment.

In more detail: Wednesday, the first night, was in retrospect a missed opportunity; we had our crack at Tabs 3 unhindered by Nines behind, because City took them out on First Post. We knew this meant that City were fast but we hadn't gone off hard enough and of course Nines being taken out removed any push; so we rowed over. Thursday was much better; we went off harder and were within a whisker of bumping Tabs, but alas we got taken down by City. Boo hiss. Friday was expected to be dull as we knew we were faster than Nines, and so we were, to First Post; but they pushed us hard down the Reach and got within 3/4, so that turned out in the usual odd way of these things to be a more satisfying ending that expected (also Henk was dropped down to 2, so Nines may have had some ringers in). Ali had got Covid to was out Weds and Thurs, ably replaced by Adam but perhaps this unsettled us, but who knows. Given another day I think we'd have got Hills.