Some folk Suffolk

Continuing the exploration of the British Isles, this year for our anniversary I took my lovely wife to the equally lovely Hadleigh in Suffolk. To get there we travelled south from Northamptonshire, anti-clockwise around the M25 and across the bottom of Essex towards Clacton-by-Sea before heading north towards Walton-on-the-Naze before heading Northwest to Hadleigh. We also visited Ipswich and Felixstowe.

Clacton-by-Sea out of season is, as should be expected, quiet. A typical British seaside resort town with formal gardens, a pier, amusements and former guest houses and hotels along the promenade and a once grand, now deteriorating due to lack of investment, town inland. The pier was undergoing refurbishment so access was only permitted into the large newly regenerated pier amusement hall but one can see how the area once was very popular with seaside visitors from London who now gentrify places like Southwold to the north or further afield like Cornwall.

Being by the seaside is enough to make anyone hungry and the urge to binge on Fish and Chips at the seaside is akin to the urge to binge on chocolate at Easter. Sadly, with it being out of season and not being Yorkshire, most of the good fish and chip restaurants were either closed for the winter or just in hiding. So after failing to find a recommended fish and chip restaurant in Frinton-on-Sea, we headed futher up the coast towards Walton-on-the-Naze. We stopped at Yates’ Fish and Chips in Walton-on-the-Naze who do a splendid fish and chip dinner (I highly reccomend them)

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Medium Cod and Chips @ Yates’ Walton-on-the-Naze

Walton is a polar opposite to Clacton. Yes, like Clacton, it is run down but there is less of a seaside feel to the place despite having the finest collection of beach huts and the second longest pier I’ve ever seen.

Again, being out of season meant that few people were around and the fairground rides that were in operation on the pier played their hauntingly merry jingles to the ghosts of former holiday makers and anyone who would listen. Aside from this, the pier was eerie. The sea was uncannily still, the light unusual for the time of year. The afternoon sun making vivid colours of blue, orange and purple in the cloud base and far away the echos of shipping and road traffic almost inperceptable.

Hadleigh is a gem of an English town. It is a former coaching, market and strip town, as in it is laid along a long High Street and, at some point in its history, provided a welcome overnight stop off for horse-drawn coaches bound for other destinations like Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds or Lavenham or much further afield. Moreover, it provided an ideal location for a market place for Lavenham wool merchants, Ipswich traders and other travelling mendicants to vend their wares.

Indeed, casual reference sources claim that Hadleigh once was home to well over twenty inns, evidence of which is clear from the architecture and names of houses along the High Street. Furthermore, the wealth generated from the coaching inns, the market and the local industry is clear from the surviving buildings in the area, a selection of which you can view below.

 

 

Of course, Hadleigh is a small town and despite having a great selection of eateries, there is little to entertain for a sustained period of a long weekend, so we also explored a few local places too.

Ipswich was the first. Taking advantage of the park and ride we soon found ourselves on the bustling streets of Ipswich. A delightful port town in which the keen eye can distinguish the signs of a seafaring history. From the locations where there would have been huge warehouses along the harbour side, to the numerous hidden churches and chapels and buildings that scream wealthy merchants lived here, Ipswich is a lovely place.

After stopping at Casablanca, a Morroccan restaurant, for a splendid lunch and headed  to Felixstowe for our third seaside fix of the weekend.

Felixstowe is not, in my mind, one of the first places that come to mind when someone says “Seaside” to me, however if you said “container port” I’d probably think immediately of Felixstowe. However, the suffolk tourist board are obviously trying to do a service to Felixstowe and get people to disregard the militaristic and logistical past and re-embrace the seaside there once more.

First point of call was the former fort at Landguard Point. Former MOD land  littered with the remains of concrete gun placements, bunkers and radar points. From there one can watch the huge container ships enter and depart the neighbouring port of Felixstowe. For a logistics nerd its kind of interesting watching the huge cranes pick up a container like one might pick up a matchbox and drop it on a precarious looking stack of containers on board a ship.  For a history nerd, it is equally interesting seeing how much value the port held for Britain through history and why it was so well protected from Napoleon and Hitler.

The seaside though, not what I had in mind. Much flatter than Clacton and, obviously as a result, much more weather beaten, the seafront at Felixstowe is more akin to Rhyl than Scarborough on the Seaside scale. The buildings and seafront goings on set further back from the beach than at Clacton and the pier looking a little more practical than its cousin at Walton-on-the-Naze.

Sunday came and we began our return journey, stopping at Lavenham along the way. Lavenham was once a bustling town of wool merchants but later reduced to village status as fortunes leaked elsewhere. But that is not to say wealth did not leave Lavenham.  Evidence of a market place, a guildhall and coaching inns show that before bus loads of tourists were the norm, the village was very prosperous throughout the following centuries. Indeed, it appears that many of the old wooden framed houses are now holiday lets aimed at those foreign tourists who think all villages across the whole of the UK look like Lavenham.

Finally our route home took us through Bury St Edmunds. Redevelopment has given the town a Milton Keynes feel but once past the modern eyesore of the Debenhams district, one can find the more picturesque and traditional sights.

In the heart of Bury St Edmunds lies the ruins of a priory.  The scale of the priory ruins just show how wealthy the church had become before Henry VIII had his hissy fit and formed his own. Moreover,  it appears that there are houses built into the walls of the ruins and indeed, to me at least, the walls themselves look quite old, almost Roman in places.

Its when you see history like this juxtaposed against the history of other places you begin to form a different appreciation of events. Over Christmas, Mrs Gnomepants and I went to  Cartegena in Columbia where we visited the Inquisition Palace and learned about what was going on elsewhere in the world just before good old Henry threw his toys out of his pram.  In both the New and Old World, Inquisitors were torturing those who didn’t agree with Papal policy. I’d not really connected the dots before but now think that maybe our jolly polyamorous monarch had other reasons for forming his own church than those taught to us by historians.

Facebook Real Names Policy – Narcissism, Zuckerberg and me

Facebook are enforcing their real names policy like jackbooted fascists. Pressurising members to use their real legal names rather than any assumed, stage or preferred nom-de-plume. Please see my previous post for their reasons why – Facebook Real Names Policy – Intro.

This is the second post of this series.

 


People ask why I use the name Stegzy Gnomepants. I usually say “Mind your own business”.  Sometimes, however, I’m not so rude about it; the reason I use the name Stegzy Gnomepants is because people know me by that name.

A C64 connected to the internetI started using the internet in 1986, but back then the internet was bobbins and was more like Ceefax than the internet we know and love today. Back then I used the handle Stegzy and remained using that name until about a month later when my parents got their telephone bill and the internet was taken away from me.

Tardis yourself forward in time to 1998 when I bought my first PC. It was a Pentium 266. It cost me £1000 or there abouts. Top of the range. Fast modem (56kpbs). A whopping lump of RAM (something like 16Mb). A cavernous hard drive (approx 512Mb). I connected to the internet and restarted my online life as Stegzy.

Internet fashions came and went. AOL IM, CompuServe, that weird virtual world that Demon Internet had for a few years, Usenet newsgroups – all using the name stegzy. The Gnomepants bit came shortly after, when, as more and more people began using the internet, names were getting quickly claimed by other users. Yes, another Stegzy started to appear. I had to distinguish. Someone I knew then affectionately used to call me Gnomepants, I adopted that name as my online personalities surname.

Free serve logoThis was the early 2000s. Then came Freeserve chat. I used the name stegzy there as well as evilgnome. Sometimes, for anonymity, I would use the name gnomepants. It helped separate my real life from my online life. It kept people from my work, past and those I didn’t want to communicate with, out of my online adventures where, if they found out about my activities, they would have ruined it. Ripping me away from my special place. My escape. My hide away. Where I was safe from those that would interfere. A place I could be myself without fear of judgement or prejudice.

The Existential CompostNext came Livejournal. You can find me there using the name Stegzy too and all entries from there have been preserved here on WordPress too. That is when the real Stegzy Gnomepants blossomed. 2004 came and went. Sometime during this period a bloke called Zuckerberg created a service called Facebook…you might have heard of it.

So lets look at this again….1986 I begin using the name Stegzy. Stegzy Gnomepants circa 1998. People I meet on line know me as Stegzy Gnomepants. I spend the majority of the period 1998-2004 online as….Stegzy Gnomepants. Then some bloke comes along and creates a website called Facebook which nobody had heard of.

2006 yesterdayOk, let’s carry on…Myspace – Stegzy Gnomepants. Hotmail – stegzy gnomepants. Google! What name shall I use? Oh I know, I’ll use my real name…Nobody knows me…ok I’ll use my assumed name….Everyone knows me! Stegzy Gnomepants.

2006ish. Good online friend Dan4th (Hi Dan if you still read!) tells me about some website where American kids hang out. Fascist books or Fuctbook or something. Oh yes…Facebook…I’ll sign up. Stegzy Gnomepants.

Blogspot arose – Stegzy Gnomepants; WordPress – Stegzy Gnomepants; Hell, I’m Stegzy Gnomepants on the BBC, Ebay, everywhere. Search google. You’ll see me using that everywhere and I have been for a very very long time.

Once more lets step back and look –

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Me – Yesterday
DrJuliusNo
Mark Zuckerberg – Yesterday

 

Me – Known online as Stegzy Gnomepants since 1998

Zuckerberg – Known online as Facebook since 2004.

Think that makes me win.

 

 

oculus-facebook2014. Facebook decide that I must use my real name. A name nobody on the internet knows me by.

I teach Social Media for Business during the day. In my lessons I advise that to be successful online you need to remain consistent across all platforms. Use the same username where possible. The same avatar. The same contact details. Thats how people know who you are.

Mr Zuckerberg, if I’m to change my name just for your silly little empire, then my influence will have no weight. Businesses will not use me as an influencer. I cannot be a potential brand ambassador for your clients. I am the celebrity. I am the authority. I am the connector, the expert, the agitator.  I am the journalist and the activist. I am the personal brand personified. That means my identity is nothing to you.

Yes I know you say I can create a PAGE but with a page I cannot interact with people as a person. Like things as a person. Interact, engage and amplify as a person online. Especially with products, services or similar which anyone can see me liking, make a judgement on my character. My beliefs. My choices. People that judge. People who I have no wish to share my identity with.

Someone said about my last post on this matter “If you don’t want to adhere to the Facebook’s terms and conditions don’t use it”. Something I am considering. Very hard. Perhaps over to Google+, who realised a very long time ago, forcing your “product” to use something in a way they don’t want to leads to failure. Isn’t that right Google Wave?


 

So when the call comes I will depart from Facebook. I will leave it never to return. You can continue to read my exploits here on WordPress or follow me on Twitter (@stegzy). Facebook postings will decline. I’m sorry if you, like Zuckerberg, no longer want, care or give a stuff about what I say, like or want to share with you. I’m sorry if you no longer want to fuel our social media narcissism together.  But if that’s the way you want to play, I’ll let you take your ball home by yourself. Just mind you don’t trip over those toys you claim I threw out of my pram.

Remember remember the time when Britain nearly became a republic again.

The times were hard. The King, an absolute tyrant. People were hauled from their homes by swat teams of government troops, tried in mockeries of the court and executed. Purely because of their beliefs and ideals.

One group of prominent English men had had enough. The king and his tyranny must go. The last time they had done this ended in regicide. The Kings replacement, a religious nutter who made fun illegal. This time it had to be just right.

Only it went wrong. Their plot was discovered, the plotters executed and tortured in a way that made Guantanamo look like a week in Butlin’s. Their failed act of blowing up the King and his sympathisers forever commemorated in British memory. Guy Fawkes night. Bonfire night or Firework night.

Crucially, the day is remembered for the failed plot and the continued reign of the tyrannical monarchy. The one last attempt to rid the land of an unelected head of state. A celebration of the fact the plot failed. But how would Britain have faired if it hadn’t failed? Would the empire ever have risen? Would the world have been a different place? Of course it would.

We will never know of course.

Computing through the ages

My computing history is as follows:-

1979 – My brother demonstrates a Commodore calculator similar to this one

This picture is lost

only beige.

1981 – Chris Keane demonstrates his Sinclair ZX81 and Manic Minor
1982 – David Griffiths demonstrates his BBC
December 1982 – obtain VIC20 off Santa even though Atari was asked for
1983 – The school gets a donation of a a couple of Commodore PETS. Marvel at the green and black block graphics. Noone but Chris Keane and David Griffiths are allowed to touch said computers.
1984 – The school takes delivery of 2 BBC B’s and a couple of Acorns. Each pupil of the school gets one go. No more. No less..Unless you are David Griffiths or Christian Keane.
1985 – Santa delivers a Commodore 64
1985-1988 – Its rumoured that there are computers in school.Somewhere. Possibly in a cupboard somewhere. But noone has seen them. Or David Griffiths.
September 1989 – A class room previously kept locked is unveiled as a computer suite. Rumours of computing lessons abound. Top stream kids (that included me) get told that by no account would we be doing computing. Computers are but a passing fad and they will be used by those with lesser intelligence. Or words to that effect. Latin lessons get harder.
March 1990 – Invited to assist Mr O’Malley (the physics teacher) in his back office with some boxes. BBC spotted.
September 1990 – The need arises to type up project for A’Level Music. Assistance sought from Mr O’Malley who says I can use BBC B at lunch times as long as David Griffiths isnt using it.
February 1990 – David Griffiths off sick. I can use BBC.
April 1990 – Befriend teacher who’s name escapes me. Allowed exclusive lunch time use of the “Computer Suite” containing no less than 6 RM Nimbuses. Discovery of geek nest within school walls. Resulting in the outing of David Griffiths and a few others.
1992 – Leave school attend University. First use of IBM PC. First use of Windows 3.1
1993 – Bail out of expensive university. Buy Amiga 1200 in Dixons sale.
April 1995 – Use of Atari at music college. Blown away.
May 1995 – Gain temporary employment at firm of solicitors. Previous use of Windows 3.1 and Wordperfect proves useful.
September 1995 – Leave home. Become unemployed. Find new friend in Amiga 1200
1996 – Amiga dies and is resurrected with the aid of a soldering iron. Secretarial college attended and use of Windows 95 and Word for Windows demonstrated on a nice old 486DX. Gosh theyre nice.
February 1997 – Friend demonstrates Playstation and Tomb Raider.
March 1997 – Friend goes on holiday leaving Playstation and Lara Croft in capable hands. Amiga takes second place.
April 1997 – Friend returns. Playstation leaves for rightful owner.
August 1997 – Amiga finally yields to a collapsing ceiling.
September 1997 – gain employment. In celebration Playstation bought on HP. Payment terms to finish September 2000 (a £200 Playstation where you pay £400…bargain! Maybe they should have taught finance instead of fucking Latin in school)
April 1998 – Pissed off with Santa not bringing a PC stegzy buys a PC with a £2000 loan from the nice people at the bank. Welcome to the world PII 266 128Mb Ram meg graphics card…eat my shorts.
June 1998 – Something amiss. PC not right. Dismantle pc. Rebuild pc. Hey this is fun.
July 1998 – Visa bill arrives. Some fucker has stolen credit card details and ran up a massive porn bill. Loan extended to £4000 to cover debt. (End of payments some time in 2002). Playstation and games sold for food.
May 2000 – Lighting strikes phone line. PC fries. Buy new bits make new pc Pentium III 700. Kicks ass! Postmortem of Pentium II 266 reveals that some items salvagable. Rebuild 266 for dad to replace his Pentium 75 (thinly disguised as a 486DX)
April 2003 – Pentium III looking abit sorry and unable to cope with new top end games. Sell PIII to Scott & V. Build a new Athlon 2800 from scraps of cheese, furry bits from under the fridge and blood sweat and tears.
September 2003 – Have heart attack. Get broadband. 4 weeks off sick…super fast porn internet. Perfect
May 2005 – Still going strong.