Nice Shell Suit. Was it Designed by Fibonacci?

Who or what is a Fibonacci?  Can you eat it?  Do you listen to it?  Is it a bird or a plane?  Is it a fashion designer?

Whatever the truth of this, although I am as ignorant of fashion as to be fashion-comatose, I am in fact aware that Versace was a designer.  I also have the impression that he was a nice guy.  I don’t know why – maybe because he was friends with Elton John and Princess Diana; maybe because I saw him interviewed at some point.  Anyway, I was curious enough about his death, which was eerily close to that of Diana, to click on to the first episode of a new BBC drama, ‘The Assassination of Gianni Versace’.  Assassination might seem a little over the top, but ‘over the top’ is something of a theme here as is evident from the first scene where Versace is shown waking up and going through his morning routine in a Miami house decorated like a tackier version of Versailles.  So far it’s a highly compelling drama with some similarities with The Talented Mr Ripley:

A serial killer meets and murders Versace because – well, we don’t quite know why, and that’s the intrigue.  With murder there must always be one element of mystery: either we don’t know who has been killed, or (more commonly) we don’t know who killed them.  But far more interesting are the why mysteries: why on earth did a guy who’d had a casual fling with Versace then go to his house and shoot him in cold blood?  Will he be caught?  And if so, will the police discover why he did it?  Will the courts?  Will we?  Therein lies the intrigue: I can’t believe I have to wait till Wednesday for the next episode.

Now, as I’m sure you all know, a Fibonacci is None of the Above – neither a fashion designer nor an Italian dish nor an opera singer: it’s a sequence of numbers, sort of like Pi, which seems to be present in nature as well as geometry and architecture.

Like Pi it is a never-ending sequence: I’m not sure to how many decimal places Pi has been calculated now but the Fibonacci sequence goes on forever and is much easier to calculate, being a mere matter of addition.  It goes like this:

Starting with one, each number is the sum of the previous two.


That’s it.

So, starting with one, you get one again because you’re adding one and zero, and then it goes:

2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55,89,144… and so on.  Add infinitum (lol).

What’s the point of it?  Well, it occurs in many natural objects: spiral shells, for one; cauliflowers, for another.

It also has applications in geometry and architecture: this slide sequence also covers the Golden Ratio which has applications in both classical architecture and in the proportions of the human body, and uses the number Phi (I said it was like Pi):

And in an exciting new development I have decided to use the Fibonacci series in my latest novel ‘Tapestry (a picture of modern Britain’.)  This means that the first two chapters will have 1000 words each and the last chapter about 48,000.  I have no idea if it’ll work, but it’ll be interesting to see.

Kirk out



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A Chorus of Complaints

As Michael Fish once said (or was it Iain Macaskill?) I’m trying to think of something nice to say about the weather.  Meanwhile here is some light music.  Apparently it was Iain Macaskill – here’s one I posted earlier:

That isn’t the one I thought.  Oh well.  Anyway, the weather is… awful awful awful.  Schools are closed, motorways blocked, roads impassable and temperatures lower than a limbo-dancer’s back.  It’s cold.

But none of this compares to the ritual grumbling chorus.  It’s a musical for two competing choirs and it goes like this:

Choir 1:  It’s so awful.  I’m freezing.  We’re going to run out of bread/milk/gas/food/the ingredients of food.

Choir 2:  This is typical of Us.  What about Norway?  They don’t grind to a halt when there’s a few inches of snow.  Why can’t we manage?

To be honest, I have little sympathy with either side on this one.  Choir no. 1 is panicking unnecessarily: though of course there is suffering, the people complaining are not usually the ones suffering the most.  The ones I feel sorry for are the homeless and the hard-up, those who at the best of times have to choose between heating and eating and who must now be tearing their hair out.

But as for choir no. 2, it’s a completely false comparison.  You may as well say, ‘why can’t we cope with the heat like they do in Spain?’ or ‘why can’t we have canals everywhere like they do in Holland?’  They cope with snow in Norway because they have it every year!!!  They know it’s coming; they know more or less when it will come, how much there will be and how long it will stay.  They are geared up to it; their houses and trains and buses and roads are all designed with snow in mind.

But how often do we have this sort of weather?  How predictable is it?  How long does it usually last?

Like I say, there’s no comparison.

All of which causes me to wonder about Complaints Choirs.  These were a thing a few years back; choirs of people coming together to moan in four-part harmony (or cacophony) about mis-sold pensions or computers crashing or delayed trains or – anything at all really.  But I haven’t heard anything about them for a while now.

Well, according to this they’re still going – or they were in 2016:

Now stop moaning!

Kirk out

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No, It’s Not a Dream – We’re Stuck With It


Viewers of a certain age will recognise that line as coming from The Best Sitcom of All Time, but it also came from my mouth at seven this morning.  I don’t exactly know where I went during the night but I awoke with the oddest feeling of dislocation as though I’d been, not just somewhere else but somewhen else.  I had a vague sense that I was back in the vicarage where I grew up, and it took me ages to relocate my consciousness to here and now.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth it, relocating your consciousness to the here and now.  As someone once said to us after their holiday, ‘it’s not much to come back to,’ and really after all that effort to find myself in the present, where am I?  It’s not much fun here.  It’s cold, for one thing: and for another I am perennially stuck trying to write an effing novel.

I never feel this way about poetry.  When poetry comes it gives me joy, delight, hope; it opens new worlds: there’s a playfulness to it.  There’s work, but it’s good work; purposeful work.  It feels real and solid, as though words were stones and I a stonemason.  But not so with prose.  With prose I feel weighted down like Gulliver in Lilliput; pinned to earth by a thousand silken strands.  I feel that I am forced into a world I don’t wish to inhabit.  Poetry is a dream; prose is waking: poetry is the right-hand side of my brain and prose is the left.  I feel it ought to be possible for me to write poetic, satisfying prose – I just haven’t found the way yet.

It’s not that I can’t turn a good sentence.  That’s not the problem.  It’s not that I can’t write decent description or believable dialogue.  It’s not that I can’t convey what’s going on inside a character’s head.  What it is, is a sense of being overwhelmed by all the things I want to do with a novel and not being able to get them under control.  I’m like a ringmaster with a hundred competing acts who all want to be top of the bill and who never listen to a word I say.

At the moment I’m at what I euphemistically call the ‘planning’ stage.  This involves having a small and rather fetching notebook in which I write ideas (see pic above) – and many, many ideas are emerging.  I have a cast of characters including a main character; I have a theme; I have a vague shape.  What I don’t have is anything resembling a plot.  I’m undecided about whether I need a plot; it’s not something that comes naturally to me as I’m a philosophical writer in the main.  I deal in ideas and concepts.  I’m metaphysical at times too.  What I’m not is a pot-boiler, a page-turner, an engineer of fast-paced narration.  I can’t decide whether this matters.  Either way I don’t seem able to do it.

And speaking of ‘Fawlty Towers’ (whence cometh today’s title quote) we should gently and quietly celebrate the return of the great JC to the BBC in a new sitcom, ‘Hold the Sunset’.  I have to say I wasn’t terribly impressed by the first episode; it seemed very low-key and didn’t really grab me.  But I felt it deserved another chance: after all, there’s a stonking cast – opposite the divine JC is Alison Steadman and adjacent to them, as it were, Jason Watkins (who played the shit-stirring Simon Harwood in W1A) as their son, and Joanna Scanlan (who often works with Vicky Pepperdine) as the money-grabbing daughter.  Anne Reid turns up as an ancient and batty ex-cleaning lady: and it’s interesting to see Peter Egan reprising a slightly different annoying neighbour from Paul in ‘Ever-Decreasing Circles.’  So I’m going to stick with this one, because it’s now passed the first test of sitcom: not, as you might think, to make you laugh – though it did in parts – but to make you care about the characters.  After all, if you don’t care about Phil and Edith, why would it bother you that their ambition to get married and move to Spain is being thwarted by all around them?

Here’s the link:

Kirk out

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We Have Normality. Anything Else is Therefore Your Own Problem

I’m nearly better, though measuring your own progress is far from an exact science.  I was re-reading my old diary (from 2006) and trying to figure out if I was happier then or if I’m happier now – and I think the answer is, both.  I was happier then in the sense that I had work and money; we were involved with the children and had frequent holidays.  On the other hand the diary is full of my frustrations: people I disliked and didn’t know how to deal with; continual demands on me from work and children – and above all a total lack of time to write, which resulted in mental chaos.  My mind felt completely cluttered; and whilst I don’t have any of the external trappings I had then, what I do have is a large measure of mental clarity and plenty of time to write.  If I don’t write I get mental constipation: thoughts build up and up and are never released, like one of those progress bars which never quite gets to the end – or if it does, just starts all over again.  They ought to call them Sisyphus bars because they never get to the end…

Getting better is like returning to normal from Douglas Adams’ Total Perspective Vortex: ‘we have normality.  I repeat, we have normality.  Anything else is therefore your own problem.’

I have to figure out which symptoms were due to the TVP – aka chest infection – (eg tiredness, depression) and which are now my own problem.  Of course in a wider sense everything is my own problem, but it’s good to know which are caused by a bug and which aren’t.  Though I suspect it may not be that simple.  After all, why do we get bugs in the first place?

Now there’s a question with a never-ending answer.

Kirk out

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Archers Episodes

Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make into drama characters.

I know a number of people who stopped listening to The Archers when the EastEnders guy started producing it: me among them.  In all the years I’d been listening, even though there had been sensational plot lines, they always seemed somehow to emerge from the soil of the programme and the seed of the characters, not just flung in willy-nilly for the sake of the ratings.  But I didn’t intend to tune out forever, and when the offending producer blew back to the city streets whence he came, I started listening again.

It’s better – but it’s still not back to how it was; and after the wholly gratuitous return and downfall of Matt Crawford, the latest in a series of OTT plot lines is the sudden and unexpected death of Nic Grundy.  Just to turn the knife in the wound of brotherly hatred, the sepsis which killed her came from a rusty nail which she encountered in the course of helping her sister-in-law – which presumably means that next week Will is going to hunt Emma and Ed down and kill them.  There was also a possible death-bed confession which people are speculating means that it was Nic who ran over Matt and put him in hospital.

But compared to Episodes, Ambridge is paradise and everyone in it a saint.  This deceptively blandly-titled sitcom cleverly bridges the Atlantic.  A couple of writers (married couple Sean and Beverley Lincoln, played by Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig – an Archers connection there) take a successful British sitcom over to LA.  They are excited by the possibilities, especially as they are told the network head, the improbably-named Merc Lapidus (but then improbable names are a trope here as his boss turns out to be called Eliot Salad) ‘loves, loves, loves’ their show.  But from the moment their planes wheels hit tarmac, it’s downhill all the way.

Of course the network doesn’t want to do the show as it is; and in a series of increasingly humiliating negotiations the pair are forced to see it morph from a witty, urbane school drama to a run-of-the-mill series about a hockey team featuring an unpleasant coach (Matt leBlanc) and a sexy librarian, played by someone called Morning who is about a hundred and five and basically made of plastic and filler.  In the course of all this the writers learn a devastating truth:

‘There’s a chance Merc hasn’t actually seen your show.’

‘Has he seen it?’


The comedy of Episodes comes from the clash between the relative sincerity and integrity of the British pair and the utterly self-serving fakeness of Hollywood.  No-one is happy; no-one is for real (either physically or in any other way) people sleep around with abandon, cheat on partners, get divorced, steal one another’s stuff and generally act as if nothing and no-one matters.  It’s a completely ego-driven society and in the midst of it all the Lincolns (some irony in the name?  Are they being shot in the theatre?) are a sort of wobbly moral centre who come through it all with their marriage just about intact.

But nothing else is intact.  As flies to wanton boys are these characters to the writers: it’s not just that no good deed goes unpunished; no deed goes unpunished.  The characters are punished just for existing; for having talent and for wanting success.  Series 5 ends with the worst possible scenario; their new series (of which they had such high hopes) being hijacked by Sean’s old writing partner who claims ‘came up with the idea.’  Nobody wins here except the a**holes; but even they don’t win because the life they live is not worth living.

As comedy it’s horrible, gruesome, even degrading.  Thank god for Ambridge…

Kirk out


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Chitty Chitty Dig Dig

Gardening can be very therapeutic.  It’s been depressing not being able to get out into the garden lately, but today I bought a few early potatoes and got them chitting; then I headed out to the shed and extracted a fork.  Rolling back the carpet mulch, I began to attack the soil, not knowing how much I’d be able to do.  But instead of getting tired I became more energised and managed to dig a square patch which felt like a good start.  I’ll do some more tomorrow and bit by bit I’ll get the garden dug.

After that I headed indoors to watch the Old Grey Whistle Test (or Old Grey String Vest, as we used to call it) – a special 30th-anniversary edition hosted by none other than Whispering Bob himself and featuring Annie Lennox, Andy Kershaw and many, many more.  It is impossible to list all the artists they had on; from Alex Harvey to an amazingly young-looking Peter Frampton; from Kiki Dee to Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, and featuring the competition winner, Bob Marley and the Wailers.

You never know what you’re going to get with OGWT.  Literally anybody could be on it; from the New York Dolls to Led Zeppelin, from John Otway (and Wild Willy Barrett) to Gary Numan; from Joan Armatrading to Dave Stewart (of Eurythmics) – and the commentary was neither bland nor fawning but serious and minimal, allowing the music to speak for itself.  The programme was a great mixture of old clips, live performances and chats on the sofa: if you like rock music at all I urge you to watch:

They’ve also made this retrospective available from 2011:

Aaaand – what about the Archers, eh?  Didn’t see that one coming:


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Nobody Understands Thee. What Tu Du?

I am happy to report that depression is lifting; this is thanks in no small part to actually writing about it.  I am all too prone to interacting with people only when I feel good and hiding away when I’m depressed, thinking that no-one will want to know me in this state and that all I’ll accomplish is to bring everyone down.  But to write about it honestly has been very therapeutic and has allowed lots of other people to open up about their depression: I’ve had many messages of support as well as testimonies from others about what they are going through.  People have offered to visit or meet with me; people have said they miss me and one friend even said I was fantastic.  This has given me a real lift.

I guess you could say in these situations you find out who your friends are: it used to be that one would distinguish between intimates and strangers by the use of pronouns.  A lot of languages still do this, such as French, Spanish, German and Italian, using the informal ‘tu/du’ to distinguish intimates from more formal contacts.  Of course it can also be a way of indicating status, which is why the equivalent probably died out in British English.

Interestingly, when Quakers began, one of their distinguishing characteristics was that they addressed everyone as ‘thou’, this being the informal pronoun (the equivalent of ‘tu/du’) and thus putting everyone on the same level.  The odd thing is that, thanks to ‘thou’ surviving in religion, nowadays it sounds formal rather than informal.

The trouble is, no-one knows how to use ‘thee’ and ‘thou’ any more.  So here’s my handy guide.

  1.  ‘Thou’ is equivalent to ‘I’ and ‘thee’ is equivalent to ‘me’.  Examples: ‘what dids’t thou say?  I gave it thee.’
  2. the verb form usually ends in ‘est’ contracted to ‘st’, as in ‘did’st, could’st, hast (the ‘d’ is forgotten)
  3. the possessive is ‘thy’ with a noun following and ‘thine’ without: ‘thy socks be wet’; ‘these socks be thine.’

Here’s a fuller guide to using ‘thee’ and ‘thou’ correctly, so you’re not caught out.

Don’t be like the person who posted this joke on Facebook:

A 19th century Quaker farmer woke up in the middle of the night hearing noises downstairs. He crept down the stairs, cap-lock rifle in hand to discover a burglar in his living room. He took aim and announced in a loud clear voice, “Excuse me, friend, but would thee please move? I am about to shoot where thee is standing.”

The correct version should of course be: ‘Excuse me friend, but could’st thou please move?  I am about to shoot where thou art standing.’

Oh, and if you want an archaic plural of ‘you’, try ‘ye.’

Kirk out


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