(james benedict brown) on the road

Unbalanced and smug

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 18 September, 2010

Back in Glasgow, and this news story caught my eye:

Glasgow tourist chiefs hit out over guide
18 September 2010

Glasgow tourist chiefs have hit out at a new guide which claims the city remains blighted by violence, deprivation and unhealthy lifestyles.

The Thomas Cook guide praises the city for its “vibrant” arts scene, high culture, green spaces and shopping.

But it also warns visitors to expect poor weather, sectarianism and alcohol and drug abuse in its deprived suburbs.

Glasgow’s weather is also drawn to readers’ attentions.

It comments: “The city’s rainy reputation is well founded and the likelihood is that you’ll experience more than a few showers, if not a full-on downpour. Going out without an umbrella or a hat is foolhardy, to say the least.”

Scott Taylor, chief executive of Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, reacted angrily to the guide, describing it as “unbalanced” and “smug”

We spotted the link to the article at the top of the localised section of the BBC News homepage (screengrab below). Just above Man scarred for life after attack, Gang attack teenager at bus stop, Probation over runaway boy images and Man guilty of Christmas Day death. And any suggestion that it’s always rainy is clearly disproven by an afternoon of “white cloud” ahead of us in the three day forecast.


Parlez-vous anglais (royaume-uni)?

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 18 November, 2008


Pictured above, a genuine screengrab from Facebook seen today. More salt in the wound of those who seem vaguely upset that American software corporations a) distinguish between American English, Australian English, Canadian English and (errrrr) English English); and that b) assume the latter three are inferior to the first.

Change we need. Where do I change?

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 10 November, 2008

If you’re reading this blog, then you are most likely a fully paid up member of the English speaking world (I did attempt to blog in French, but that hit the buffers quite rapidly). In which case you will also be part of a culture that will, for many years to come, ask each other where you were on the night Barack Obama was elected President of the United States of America. It seems that much of America and a not insignificant proportion of Britain was still awake when the television networks were able to make their first confident “call” that Obama had won.

I was (as I usually am at momentous moments) asleep, somewhere on the west coast mainline between Glasgow and London. There was no-one to note or celebrate the victory with me, my mid-week sleeper train was probably only half full and my compartment was mine alone. I had woken as we rattled over some particularly noisy points (my tip for you is to avoid berths 1-4 and 20-24, they’re the ones right above the bits that go clickety-clack) and gave in to the temptation of mobile internet on my phone. For the satisfyingly old-world-meets-new price of tuppence a megabyte, the BBC informed me of Obama’s win just a few minutes after it had been called. I pulled the duvet back up and snuggled down for the last hour or two of my journey south, wondering what this would mean for life in a world dominated by that one country and its politics

We don’t normally benefit from the later editions of the London newspapers in Glasgow, but with specially extended deadlines the majority of the newspapers were able to catch up with events and have a later edition (below right) on the news stands at London Euston station when I arrived just before 07h00.


I picked up two (admittedly complimentary left-leaning) newspapers and took a number 10 bus towards South Kensington for breakfast. In the large branch of Pain Quotidien there I took my time over a bowl of coffee and a basket of bread (smothered with the delightful spreads and jams of that chain). I took full advantage of the lazy service and enjoyed a good hour and a half with the newspapers, attempting to block out the loud, intrusive and self congratulatory chit-chat of a television news crew who had just come in from a late night election party for American ex-pats in a neighbouring pub.

Later in the day I boarded another train, this time from London Waterloo. It was mid-afternoon and the detritus of the morning rush-hour still decorated the interior of the train. Dozens of rumpled morning freesheets littered the floor, soon to be accompanied by the evening editions of their competitors.

History had been in the making. And all these thousands of miles away from the man who had made it, the crumpled pages that had recorded the passage of time within the space of one night were being scooped up by roving cleaners in time for another layer of history to be abandoned on the floor of a commuter train.

Missing you already

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 9 October, 2008

Tthe University of Sheffield School of Architecture has launched its 2008 Live Projects, and the fifth and sixth year M.Arch students are currently out there shaping alternative practice in Sheffield (although checking my diary it’s possible the sixth years are huddled away polishing off dissertations this week). Out of tiny seeds are mighty trees grown… project blogs are now the norm and not the exception, and I am one of a growing number of ex-students watching this year’s projects from a distance.

This year’s M.Arch handbook (pdf) has more information about all the projects and all the design studios launching in November.

350 miles

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 13 September, 2008

[googlemaps http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=G42+8BG+to+PE32+2AR&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=46.226656,114.257812&ie=UTF8&s=AARTsJq0sL8xiI-O298mUZhZoEOPQe2scQ&ll=54.265224,-1.779785&spn=5.77702,9.887695&z=6&output=embed&w=450&h=450

While WordPress and Google can, in theory, talk to each other, there remains a bug that makes it difficult for a UK generated Google map to be embedded in a WordPress blog. And, as demonstrated above, once you do manage to embed the map, there’s no guarantee that the departure and arrival points or route between them will be visible.

So you’ll have to guess where I started my journey on Saturday morning and where I ended up.