Archive for January, 2007

Brixton SW2

31 January, 2007

In this part of Europe having an address with an old system Zip code on it is a bit like having letters after your name. When the lease is signed on my room in SW2 i will feel a real sense of achievement.

‘Why Brixton?’ a few people have asked me. Because it’s on the way to Sutton, because it isn’t just any old place where nothing happens, because it’s a cosmopolitan place with an interesting recent history and because i’ve always wanted to live here. Will that do? Can i have a few private reasons of my own please…  Oh, and it’s central so it may help me to get work in engineering, if i’m really lucky and i talk real fast…

Today i move in, hopefully, which means dragging my bags all the way back up to Victoria Station and then repeating the final stage of the big trek from Adelaide. I have spent the last few days in Belmont at Dave’s place which has been very nice and oldy worldy and close to my sister. Belmont has a most excellent bakery, English doughnuts are like french bread, no-one can reproduce the taste no matter how hard they try. As i sank my teeth into the first proper doughnut for a decade i thanked myself for being here.

The night before last i caught the trains up to Leytonstone in search of another fellow student from Wrexham Poly. This involved about four hours train travel. Deep in the tunnels of the Central Line there was a man begging who had lost his hands and face in a fire of some sort. As individuals we are but cells within this organism humanity. As individuals we have no intrinsic worth and will not even be given what we need if we do not pull our weight toward the common goal. Bless this man for struggling on and bless the society who has the beginnings of the mechanisms which can sustain him.

Leytonstone has a subtly different atmosphere to Sutton. There are more middle eastern and north eastern migrants settling here. While searching the backstreets for anyclue as to the whereabouts of my old friend, i discovered the most amazing supermarket. The bakery was full of things i had never seen before. They had some Turkish looking baklava and the girl who popped up from behind the counter to serve me appeared to be Russian or Kazakh or something. I have a lot to learn about Europe in the new millennium. I got bottles of orange pop for twenty nine pence and some salami danish… and some really tasty halva to sustain me on my trip.

When i found the house my friends mother used to live in she had gone. Fortunately his beautiful but suspicious sister was still there and called him for me.  ‘There’s a white man at my door and I din’t know what he wants…’  Well i guess i deserved that, but i got his phone number, and a good giggle out of it, bless it. Love it, how can you  not, when you haven’t spoken to someone for six years and when you call them they offer you a job, you can’t beat that.

London ENGLAND

30 January, 2007

No i have not been shipwrecked on Albions shores, i was plonked at Heathrow like a million others each day. When you fly with an asian airline they have a way of making you feel quite special and the planes are cosy. When you are standing in the assigned compartment outside the back entrance of this airport, trying to choke down the first cigarette for fifteen hours and trying to keep the back of your neck warm and fighting to remember why you thought it was so important to do all of this anyway, then rather than feeling special it is possible to get a twinge of insecurity about whether the ATM you can’t find will accept your debit card anyway.

The train is the cure.  As i become immersed in the throng of morning londoners it all comes flooding back. The Chi is so strong, everything is compact, functional, colourful and the interactions are so infinitely variable and the dainty little underground trains get up a roar and a rhythm as they reef you through that gap in the ground at seemingly imposable speeds.

Then the unique flowing march of London commuters where the fast and the slow manage by dint of ancient protocol to avoid constant collisions. A march through tiled tubes, up endless escalators, through turnstiles, past shops and then out onto the street where dawn is slowly staking its claim on the black jacketed and on the bleary eyed but lovely.

The smell of coffee and the shouts from market stalls fill up the mind with hope and humour. The really great thing about cities is that they bring people together, they share a space and mingle even when they don’t stop to talk. When you are in London everyone knows  that you like people because you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t. Each glance is a compliment, each conversation about directions is an excuse to look into the eyes of a like minded fellow human. Within four hours complete strangers have guided me to the best mobile phone deal, the best place to look for a room to rent, where to get a job and for four quid at Sams Cafe i got a plate of breakfast so big that i couldn’t finish it. Milky coffee thrown in.

Approaching noon i got my sim card working and called my sweet sister. She had been worried about me and had called the airline to make sure i had arrived. I felt very lucky to have someone in the city who cared about me and arranged to head south to see her. The day had warmed up and the sun was lifting everyones spirits but i couldn’t find a room yet. The train south took me into more familiar territory and from its windows i looked into the tiny wintry backyards where veggie patches and abandoned chairs told of a different rhythm to suburban life.

As i walked up to my sisters flat the almost village lifestyle of these parts soothed my heartache and i could picture myself making a life amongst the cute bustle of it all. The streets are tidy and the people warm and friendly. The increasingly cosmopolitan feel of it adds to it beautifully. It is still full with red buses and overhanging trees. It is still compact and solid and being here makes me feel alive and useful. I have not said everything i wanted to about the people here, their style, their direct spirit. Please be patient with me as i am still a little jetlagged.

In the next episode, Brixton, Belmont and Leytonstone…

Kuala Lumpur

29 January, 2007

A poor man becomes rich for three days as his economy class seat touches down in a different exchange rate zone. Richer even than money for being welcomed by a true friend, fed delicious food, introduced to a cheerful family and driven around the sights of a most amazing city.

The contrasts between Adelaide and KL are everywhere you look, when you can take your eyes off the beauty of the cosmopolitan people, the narrow streets are packed with cars, scooters, barrows and everywhere is  a throng of busy people, a riot of colour and the tourist is spoilt with choices of what to do and where to go.

That evening Zai drove me up to the edge of the jungle and insisted that i stay at his expense in a cabin amongst the dark trees of the Riverstone Eco Resort. In the morning i sat on a balcony amongst it all and the wildness was at once familiar and comfortable. As if some genetic memory made me feel at home so close to where my Grandmother was born. And it felt secure as well. In the rain forest of Australia the fauna is aggressive, leaches, ticks, march flies and snakes are after you everywhere you go but here the forest seemed benign, too languid to come at you, too content to uproot the teak huts from their stilts.

The second day Zai, who i studied engineering with in Wales in the nineties, asked me to put on a white shirt. He took me to the Proton car factory where Malaysia is producing its own cars at a rate of a thousand a day. This was a treat, production engineering is intriguing, if you like that sort of thing. The plant was clean and efficient as far as i could see and i learned much about the assembly technique. The atmosphere was unusually relaxed for a factory, which did not please Zai, but the line was in motion, The strange part for me was being welcomed as a natural part of the environment. The car plants i have been to in the past have made me feel a trespasser.

Zai explained that there was respect for the British in Malaysia. They had created infrastructure that endured, they had laid the foundations of political stability and they had proved the worth of determined problem solving. If the local people could take these lessons more fully to heart the whole country would raise itself up. I was surprised by this, there has been an attitude amongst Australians, well maybe within myself, that the colonial era was an imposition upon the wourld. To hear Zai insist that i should share some pride in it was deeply heartening.

Over a sensationally strong cup of coffee at a roadside cafe Zai thanked me for setting good examples for him by being so determined to extract thrust from a rotor. He had noticed and appreciated the sacrifices i had made to get that work done and assured me that it would be a worthy inclusion for my CV.  I was stunned, after fourteen years of failure i had ceased to expect any tolerance, least of all accolades! Thankyou Zai, i can now go forward into engineering for other people with pride in my past instead of shame.

As if on cue a delicious shower of rain began and  the waitress gave me a look of what i am arrogant enough to think of as unashamed lust, from beneath a pretty blue scarf.

That second night i slept in a budget hostel in the city centre. Exhausted by two days of travel and wide eyed wonder at the beauty surrounding me, i lay on my bed, cried for a moment over the loss of my sweet love four months before then decided to get the next flight out. If I stayed another day i might not ever be able to bring myself to leave. There were difficult things to be done in London, best to get on with it before another admiring glance from beneath a Hijab glued me permanently to the spot.

McNaught Caught

22 January, 2007

Last night was my last night in Aus for a while and clear weather so we celebrated by driving down to the beach. The sunset was lovley but there was no sign of a comet.

My mind wandered to the closness you feel with people when you are leaving. So often in my life of wandering i have been surprised by the sweet things people have to say as you prepair to leave. Michelle in Birdwood had thanked me the day before for being a nice person to do buisness with. Neighbours put on a BBQ. Landlord gave me a referance. That it should wait till then…

On returning to Willunga we walked to the end of the garden to look for the comet again and there it was. Above the shed, at almost ninety degrees from the ecliptic, the most unbeleivably enourmas spray of gas and dust. It was so unexpected, a tail a million kilometers long or more, so big in the sky that i could not cover it with my whole hand. Grant and i stood for hours watching it become more distinct as the night grew darker.

Since a child reading Moomintroll i have dreamed of seeing a proper comet. The one i saw in 1997 you could cover with your thumb but McNaught had so much atmosphere last night. To see something so resplendant was an inspiration and now i understand completly the fear our ancestors felt at shch a sight.

Comet

21 January, 2007

So it seems i may be in the air while comet McNaught is still visable. According to http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/db_shm?sstr=2006+p1, it has passed its closest approach and will now fade in intensity quite rapidly as it passes our orbital distance.
What fun, hope i get to see it from cruise altitude. Plane should take off about 15:30hrs tomorow and will be heading NNW or so. That means the comet should appear above the sun after it sets, in the right field of the port windows.
Wish me luck, everyone please wish me luck, my new life begins tomorow and i have no idea what it might be.

Positive Spin

20 January, 2007

Much  as my ability to dwell on the negative is demonstrated by this blog, it is a family tradition to look for the positive in the events surrounding our personal lives.

If this offends anyone i apoligise. The beauty of it is in forging a personal memory set which allows for growth, hopefully…

Goodbye Unit One

19 January, 2007

One Cromer Road, Birdwood has been my home for four and a half years and i spent the four years before that in Lobethal, just fifteen kilometers north. Living in the Adelaide hills was a lifelong ambition and the last eight and a half years have more than lived up to expectations.

While resident there i have indulged nearly every remaining unfulfilled fantasy of my youth including; designing building and flying ultralight aircraft, living in a cute hand built wooden house with open fires and beautiful dogs,smoking lots of pot and last but by no means least, relishing a long and languorous affair with the most gorgeous Thai woman who ever lived. Added to that i have completed the set of gyroscopic experiments which i hoped would provide the answer to inertial thrust. No inertial thrust was achieved that i could prove but at least i got to give it my best try and thanks to R. Shawyer the problem seems solved anyhow.

I shure hope it is…

 Unit One is now in other hands and I hope it brings them the same sense of community and fulfillment that it did me. Driving away from it for the last time i found myself content with my time there. There may have been moments of frustration and bitterness but they were resolved. That tenth of my life was, in the end, well lived.

Andrew Helgeson Says

19 January, 2007

“Knowledge is infinite.”

There is no limit to what we can do.

Roger Shawyer says, -this is not an anti-gravity machine,- but I say this is an action without an equal and opposite reaction. Either that or the whole universe is being moved…

   I agree with Andrew so I’ve lent him my lathe and my library while I travel.

While I was Sleeping

8 January, 2007

It is with a deep sense of satisfaction that i can report the succesful development of a reactionless drive. Rodger Shawyer has, over the last four years or so, managed to develop a conical container hooked up to a magnetron via a waveguide, which produces twice as much thrust as the equivelant weight of Ion engine.
Why am i so happy about this, well for fourteen years i have been building giros trying to prove that a reactionless drive is possible. I may have been wrong about the giro being the right way to do it but at least i was right when insisting that a reactionless drive was possible.
To all the sceptics who have been laughing at me for so long, WHO IS LAUGHING NOW?
If you are interested in all this there is a good site at, http://www.shelleys.demon.co.uk/fdec02em.htm.

In his paper describing the mechanism of action of this marvelous contraption, http://www.newscientist.com/data/images/ns/av/shawyertheory.pdf, Shawyer employs theory from just three sources;

1. FISHBANE P. M. GASIOROWICZ S. and THORNTON S. T.
‘Physics for Scientists and Engineers’ 2nd Edition (Prentice- Hall 1996) p.781.
2. MAXWELL J.C. ‘A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism’
1st Edition (Oxford University Press 1873) p.391.
3. CULLEN A.L. ‘Absolute Power Measurements at Microwave Frequencies’ IEE Proceedings Vol 99 Part IV 1952 P.100

It is interesting to note that the second of these is the same work from which Einstine lifted the principals underlying relitivity theory. Note the date…

Back to the Present

8 January, 2007

That concludes my posting of poems from my first collection called ‘Quality of Compassion’ dated 1988-89. I hope you have enjoyed them dear reader, they are an important part of my personal history.
Forward from here i intend to return to diary entries with occasional poems. In two weeks i depart from the Adelaide hills to attempt to settle in london. On the way i shall spend a week in Malaysia. Hopefully these changes will provide some amusing observations to share with you.
Departing Adelaide is not easy, life here is so relaxed and comfortable. Friends who have visited me here in Adelaide have commented that the lifestyle is extraordinary. Vincent from France likened the Adelaide hills to Provance, a complement indeed.
In London it will be winter, i will be in the throng with twenty million cosmopolitans, it should be fun. What adventures it will bring me i have no concept of yet. Malaysia is the land where my grandmother was born and grew up. She was famous for running away from bording school in India at the age of five, and making it all the way back to Penang on her own. I wish i knew more about that story…