Not quite how everyone else recalls it

Richard Murphy says:
October 21 2017 at 4:34 pm
I was Forbes first ever paid UK blogger

Well, actually they pay almost nothing

And to be candid, I could not be bothered, wanting to keep the material on one place

Not convinced about that first, think there were some before the recruitment drive which picked him up. And prompted me to go ask for a job.

As to paying near nothing I did rather well for a number of years. Best month there was €17,000. Yes, month.

But then people were reading what I was writing.

The current best bet is that I too will be fired – but I did last a rather larger number of years.

Life can be a bit odd at times

I was just asked to do a piece for an Iranian newspaper. Hmm, well, I do that weekly already so that’s not that odd. But it was about the subject of newspaper subsidies in Iran. My response being obvious, free market firebreathing stuff, if subsidies are needed then there should in fact be fewer Iranian newspapers.

But it is still just odd writing about free markets in a country that has such obvious state control of the press. They might well not use it for that very reason.

Well, yes, it does happen

Apple is looking into multiple reports of batteries swelling within new iPhone 8 Plus smartphones, which apparently broke them open as a result.

At least five separate reports of the new 5.5in iPhone 8 Plus smartphones have shown deformed phones, swelled batteries and screens being detached from the aluminium bodies of the devices.

It’s happened to me. Not with an iPhone I hasten to add, I’ve not spent the price of one of those on my entire lifelong (erm, decade long) phone ownership. But an old Sony that’s exactly what did happen. Battery swelled up and cracked apart the phone.


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Displacement activity

I’m supposed to be doing a big document for something. I don’t like doing big documents. I’ve spent so long rolling out 500 to 2,000 word pieces that I find that really, trivially, easy. Now ask me to write 10 k words and it looms like some monstrous difficulty, rather than that it is, 5 pieces that I can do trivially. I know this, it just doesn’t transfer from intellectual knowing it to doing it easily.

Also, a slight further difficulty in that I’ve got to think about this.

However, I am now recalling the power of displacement activity. I’m days and days ahead in my normal tasks, have cleared up all the odd payments, unfiled invoices there were, inquired about this and that that I should have, nailed down the price for that odd lot of weird metal that I’ve been offered…..done, in fact, absolutely everything except the one main task in front of me.

And, umm, written a blog post about how I’m avoiding doing that main task by writing a blog post…..

Presumably, if someone insisted that I must do something else I want to do even less then I’d get it done, right?

How gloriously small the world actually is

Yes, coincidence and all that but I like this story so there.

I wrote for the Washington Examiner about Bodega, a start up with vending machines. There’s snowflake outrage about how this might replace actual bodegas. For the image they used AP which gave them the top connected image, of course.

Which is actually an art installation called “Fauxdega” by a young Englishwoman from Bath called Lucy Sparrow. Details here.

Hmm, a shop filled with hand made felt representations of what might be sold in such a shop? Chacun a son gout, of course.

But Lucy is the daughter of an old friend of mine and long time friend of this blog, Mark Sparrow. So, small world and all that. Lucy also sold out the entire stock in 16 days (9,000 pieces at $20 and up apparently) which is a welcome bit of capitalist rapaciousness in the art world. Plus being a useful export and all that.

She has put that alternate reality within easy reach: A felt cigarette pack costs all of $20; a box of candy is $35.

Such compulsion, and the suppressed anxiety it suggests, is palpable in the 9,000 objects Ms. Sparrow has brought to New York.


I have the next 5 weeks free and clear from my usual work. I’m sure we can guess why.

So, what should I do? Anyone want a book written? Should I perhaps drag out that idea of a little novel that’s lying around and have a go at that? Any other ideas?

You gorra larf, eh?

Such compliments, such sweet nothings


Referring to here.

And he doubles down:

And more:

Someone’s really going to have to tell him at some point, aren’t they?

How lovely to see that my piece is now an official report

Jeremy Corbyn’s claim that many people want to pay “more tax” to clear the national debt or fund public services has been undermined by official figures.

Figures disclosed by the Government show that just 15 taxpayers made financial gifts worth less than £200,000 to the Government over the past two years.

The Labour leader said in 2015 that “many well-off people I speak to, in Islington and around the country, would be quite happy to pay more tax to fund better public services or to pay down our debts”.

He added that “opinion polls bear this out – better off people are no less likely to support higher taxes”.

Typically cash which is gifted or bequeathed to the Government is channelled through the Government’s Debt Management Office.

The Debt Management Office said that £180,393 in 2016/17 and £14,558 in 2015/16 was made in these voluntary payments.

Most of this came from a single bequest of £177,700 in the last financial year. The other donated or bequeathed by the other 14 people were for relatively trivial sums. Someone gave 1p, another gave 3p and a third person handed over £1.84 to the Government.

11 years back I did a piece for The Times which pointed out that only 5 people had in fact volunteered to pay more tax. Thus, given what people do rather than what they say, there was only a marginal movement for more tax to be paid.

This was, I am really pretty sure, the first mention of this point.

LAST YEAR there were five people in Britain who thought that their taxes were too low. No, this isn’t the number of people who have called for higher taxes. Rather, it is those who were so convinced of the righteousness of state spending that they voluntarily sent extra money to the Treasury.

When I wrote that there were no official figures. Took the Treasury a month or so to round up the numbers, they just weren’t collated as a matter of course. What fun that they do now both collate and release them?

A long way from us – but we’re getting the smoke

Forest fires have cut off a town of 2,000 people in Portugal, as firefighters struggle to control two large blazes in the centre of the country.

“It’s impossible to leave or to enter Mação because of the flames and the smoke,” Vasco Estrela, mayor of Mação, told Lusa news agency.

The blaze erupted on Tuesday evening, and by Thursday morning it had surrounded the town. “It is continuing unabated,” he said.

This is all a couple of hundred miles north of here. But we’re getting he smoke. The whole area from Albufeira to Faro was covered in smoke yesterday. The winds are just blowing it all down here.

We do get our own fires down here, obviously, but we tend not to have the forests, so we get scrub fires.

It’s also worth pointing out something else. This isn’t so much a product of the current heat. It’s, as summer fires usually are, a product of a wet winter. The land around here always dries out in the summer. We usually don’t see rain for 7 or 8 months, not in any quantity at least. So, all the vegetation does dry out, every year. A wet winter means more winter growth, thus more vegetation to dry out when the summer comes.

The same is true in California, climactically very similar. It’s a wet winter with lots of growth that is the warning sign for a bad summer fire season.

The return to the car boot sale!

Somehow, even at a Czech car boot sale, I don’t think they’re selling even broken (genuine) Rolex watches at $25. So I didn’t buy those three.

But, I think I’ve worked out what happened about those solver coins. A collector had as his method anything that was about the size and colour of a silver dollar. Hey, why not, it worked for him. So, 1 Bolivar coins from Bolivia in the 1960s, a couple of clearly fake coins (even the Ugandan mint wasn’t going to issue a Chuck and Di Crown with the date as 1086), what might well be a magician’s coin (German on one side, Panama on the other) and some “silver trade coins” and other such bits and pieces. And a couple of Maria Theresa Thalers, some Swiss shooting competition medals and other things which are indeed silver. Various of the “professionals” at the boot sale had a couple of pages each of these coins from what was obviously an album.

All in all I reckon I spent about $100 to buy 50 ounces or so, maybe a little lower at 40 ounces, of silver. Pretty much nothing has any numismatic value although there’s a hint that one of them might be worth the purchase price alone.

Of course, I’m much more likely to just leave them on the shelf to be sold off at my own estate clearout than I am to start listing the damn things on e-Bay but still……

And one more thing, how do you check whether Rolex is real or not?

Anyone know of a good guide to old watches?

Years back in Moscow I nearly bought an Audemars gold half hunter. Been kicking myself ever since that I didn’t as a friend who knows about these things pointed out that it must have been old, from before the firm merged with Piguet.


So, not that I’m going to get into this full time or anything, just something to do while trawling the occasional car boot sale here, no more. Why not have a wander around in the summer sunshine with a donut or two, eh? But what to look for while wandering?

But, obviously, this requires a little boning up on things. Anyone know of a good guide to old watch brands therefore? As I have near zero actual knowledge, other than having seen the ads for today’s expensive brands just like everyone else? Online, book form, whatever people know about.

Any ideas?

Traveling Timmy

So I managed to go the right way out of the city, went toward Prague airport, not Dresden as I have been. And I found my booked parking space, remembered the rest of the way to the airport, found the supermarket, bought lunch, went through passport control and……Easyjet regrets that the flight to London is delayed because Xvvvvrb.

So, I know I’ve got to hang around just not quite why.


I do love the smell of a bargain in the morning

So, car boot sale type thing. Pottering around, much of it unmitigated tripe and tchotchke. A few bits and pieces which you’d have to know about to get it right. Some old watches for example. Know your brands and maybe you might get somewhere. Old cameras (but I’m pretty sure everyone knows a Leica is really valuable). An operational Remington Portable.

Just don’t know enough about these things.

Then some old coins. Girt big silvery ones. Size of the old Crown. One in fact was an old crown, from late enough that it’s Cu Ni. Hmm. But one of the others was a 1922 Liberty Dollar. That’s definitely silver.

300 Ks for the 8 coins. Call it £10 maybe.

Hmm, if the others (Peru, Ghana, Korea some Arab place I’ve no idea about) are Cu Ni then that’s a reasonable price for some souvenir type thing. If on the other hand the others are all also Ag then that’s a bargain price.

Paid up, got them home, looked them up. I’ve just bought 6 ounces of silver for £10.


The margin here is wondrous. The volume not so much.

No, not really

Should the Americanisation (or Americanization) of English worry us?

The use of the z there is archaic English which the Americans have preserved for example.

Me being me I’ve always been rather perverse about this of course. When at school I would deliberately use the z in order to annoy teachers, insist that it was just fine really. Which they would agree it was, if archaic. Now, writing largely for Americans, I insist upon using the s.

It’s the small things in life which produce the joy, no?