The Blog of Zak Spade

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Sunday 26 December, 2021

Engineering, television, film and counting.

V-blocks are always handy – providing that extra pair of hands when that thing just won’t remain still and stable while a file or other tool is brought to bear upon it.

The television series, V, has long mystified me. Was the later series a remake or a sequel? Was there a made-for-television film hidden in there, somewhere?

I enjoyed the 2005 film, V for Vendetta, but I wonder if it were meant to be prophetic and show where we are headed these days.

The Romans counted in base 10 as per the modern way. What they didn’t do was use Arabic notation. Hence the seemingly deliberate attempts by film makers and lawyers to obfuscate numbers by employing a number notation which was being supplanted by the eleventh century.

Now, if I were a lawyer, I would have meant, Five-blocks, the TV series, Five, the film, Five for Vendetta and, er, the number five.

But I’m not, I didn’t, and I have zero intention of doing so.

Oh, I nearly forgot to mention that the Roman Numeral system doesn’t have any way to denote zero...


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Tuesday 21 December, 2021

In 1991 my aim was to cycle to Turkey with minimal planning. I took maps but was sure my nose was good enough to give me direction.

Travelling alone, I was able to decide to visit Poland by train from Berlin.

A super-flexible, cavalier approach to planning - and my poor language skills - led to me being in Berlin at Schöneberg instead of Schöneweide, with only an hour to make the journey across Berlin before my train departed.

The difference in the two place names didn’t register while grabbing a bite to eat instead of making my way to the train station in good time. To me, a ‘Schöne’ was a ‘Schöne.’

I arrived at the small Schöneberg S-Bahn station and was unable to find the main terminal from where to catch the Poland train. I asked a few Germans who all thought I was mad: who in their right mind would think that trains left here to go anywhere outside Berlin?

A German, understanding I was in trouble pointed out my error. He realised I was in danger of not making Schöneweide in time. He tried to give me directions; suggesting an appropriate route to Schöneweide. Unfortunately there was a lack of communication between us due to my inability to understand his German.

I hadn’t managed to secure his name, yet my new German friend was going to lead me across Berlin from Schöneberg to Schöneweide!

I had no money on me other than Sterling which had been handed in along with my travel documents after I had left my belongings on a train upon arrival at Berlin Hauptbahnhof the night before. My faith in help for travellers was high.

Having walked everywhere within Berlin, I didn’t understand the train ticket systems. I need not have worried as my German friend did all the purchasing with his own money, taking four different trains on our rush across Berlin.

On the final train leg to Schöneweide I tried to make my benefactor take Sterling for the tickets he had paid for. I assumed the looks received from other passengers were down to the nature of the spoken German passing between the two of us.

The reason I was unable to understand the German he spoke finally dawned on me: he was inebriated! Schöneweide was only a couple of stops away and my guide got off.

I see from the Berlin S-Bahn/U-Bahn map in front of me as I write this, the journey is simply two overland S-Bahn trains, with a single change at Friedrichstrasse.

I had many lucky days on my travels. That was one that nearly turned my hair grey.

Saturday 18 December, 2021

“More tea, Vicar?”

Not too controversial. However, it could be.

Imagine the ‘vicar’ is no such thing. Why? Who are they? Or the tea is laced with something; such as poison or a date rape drug. Now, that would be disturbing.

How controversial can it get?

It might be worth remembering the next time a ‘vicar’ turns up at your home. Any hospitality offered could wind up being misconstrued. Your social standing might head south.

Sunday 12 December, 2021

Looking for inspiration, I turned to Wikipedia to see what it had to say about the letter ‘S’ and I was surprised to see that one of the finest sources of information on the internet had deigned to allot some 1,446 words to it.

But not a single mention of S Club 7.

Thursday 9 December, 2021

I dedicate this blog entry to pirates everywhere.

Across the world, people who choose to wear eye patches; perch parrots on their shoulders; have a leg cut off to make way for a wooden substitute; and mount a hook where they once wielded a hand, are ridiculed and turned into figures of fun.

It is not acceptable. If ‘body shaming’ and ‘fat shaming’ are considered wrongdoings, then surely ‘pirate shaming’ cannot escape criticism.

To that end I propose that the UN investigates the issue and promotes a determination to remove all forms of such discriminatory practise. That way, a sizeable minority will find they can lead the lives they wish; lives that reflect their way of life; lives which are based on their beliefs and cherished desires.

It will ultimately lead to a world in which no one will ever find themselves oppressed.

No one!

R, no one!

Monday 6 December, 2021

It was quite some time back, but I remember it like it was yesterday. Or last week. Sometime.

I was living in Poland. The place was extremely Catholic at the time, so it was quite noticeable when I spotted two classic, buzz-cut, blond-haired, suited Mormon missionaries setting up a small stall in the square in the centre of what was then my home city.

Instead of seeking food before I set off towards my next student that day, I wandered over to chat with them.

It turned out that the taller of the two had been in Poland for quite some time whereas the stockier chap only arrived less than a couple of months earlier. The three of us chatted.

Then a Polish woman came over and the ‘newbie’ talked religion with her as she had picked up some of the printed literature and was reading it. The conversation was in Polish.

When she left I commented upon his grasp of the language, with it being good enough to talk theology with another. Mine was only good enough to buy food so as not to be found dead of starvation in the gutter.

Apparently he had started to learn Polish when he knew for certain that he was to be posted to Poland. That was about three months ago. I had been living in Poland for a good while by then.

Regardless of what one's religious leanings are, that is dedication.

However, although the square was bustling with throngs of people moving through the area, their stall remained quiet.

“You've not exactly attracted a queue to your stall,” I said to the shorter man who had earlier been discussing the Bible with the woman.

“A what?” he asked, obviously confused.

“I think he means a line,” the taller of the two drawled, with the aim of educating his colleague.

Communication is a funny old thing.

Friday 3 December, 2021

Those of a certain age will recall the television quiz show, Blockbusters, when it was hosted by Bob Holness.

It was targeted at 16 to 18 year-olds (the general age range of the contestants), but which appealed to a wider spread of ages.

Regardless, it was a young audience. That might explain the never ending popularity of the running joke which accompanied the show when a particular letter was selected.

“Can I have a P, Bob?”

I never understood it. What is so funny about wanting a vegetable?