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Author: Vince Poynter
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October 2021

Historic Steamships

A black and white photograph of a docks policeman in uniform stood in an industrial setting
Henry Poynter stood in his docks police uniform in Southampton around the turn of the twentieth century

Recently I was helping my father clear his home and came across some old family documents and photographs which he had inherited from his own parents. Amongst these treasures was a large foolscap sized accounting book which contained some handwritten accounts dated between 1824 and 1829 plus oddly had some unrelated large old black and white photographs of early steamships glued in the back. The sort of steam powered vessels built with sail masts in case the power system failed.

No notes were written for the photographs of these substantial ships which were located around a docks environment, probably in Southampton. Many were obviously taken during the Second Boer War era, around 1899 as evidenced by the painted numbers on the sides of the ships which aided me in their identification and dating.

This time coincided with the fact that my paternal Great, Great, Grandfather, Henry Poynter, worked at Southampton Docks as a Police Constable. I have seen evidence of documentation that put him there at least between 1895 and 1903 so he would have had access to photograph these mighty vessels from advantageous vantage points. So credit for these pictures should probably go to Henry Poynter.

This photograph of Henry in his Police uniform was probably taken around 1900, deduced from documents I have seen. He would have been in his forties at the time. Earlier in his life when he was in his late teens he had served in the Coldstream Guards. I have even seen his old army book showing his enlistment in March 1875.

A black and white photograph of a family taken in the early twentieth century. A man stands behind his wife sat on a chair holding her arms around a young girl and boy
Harry Poynter with his wife Florence and their children Dorothy and William

However, as I have no certain proof that it was Henry who took the pictures I should also consider it may have been another member of the family, maybe Henry's son Harry Poynter, my paternal Great Grandfather, who would have been in his twenties around the beginning of the twentieth century and may have had dockside access granted from his father.

This next image shows Harry, stood over his family. It shows my Great Grandmother, Florence Gertrude, nee. Shearman, known as Gerty, with their children, Dorothy and William, William being my paternal Grandfather. The children's age dates the photo to around 1911. Harry and Florence later had another son, Charles but Florence sadly died during that childbirth at the age of just 29.

Other possibilities include that another unknown member of the family took the photographs or maybe they were just aquired and collated for a small private home collection and were originally taken by others. Please email me if you have further information on any of these original photos.

Most of the ship photographs as they were printed measured around 12" [300mm] and like the family ones above have been rephotographed into my iPhone X for digital storage and use here and have not been enhanced or retouched to maintain as much originality as possible.

I have gathered as much data as I could on each vessel from existing online sources to tell their individual stories and have listed them below in alphabetical order.

HMT Idaho

A black and white photograph of dark hulled, single funnelled, four mast steamship docked alongside an industrial port. There is a large number 38 painted on the bow. On the dock side is a crane.
Steamship HMT Idaho docked in Southampton around 5 June 1901

First up is [Her Majesty's Transport Ship] HMT Idaho, a British transport cargo steam powered ship built in 1899 by William Gray & Co, West Hartlepool.

Originally called the [Steamship] SS Idaho it was 99m long, weighed 3,023 tons and could reach nine knots.

The photographed is likely dated around 5 June 1901 when HMT Idaho, temporarily designated number 38, embarked from Southampton to South Africa with 640 members of the 3rd East Surrey Regiment onboard.

At that time many former merchant class passenger and goods vessels were being commandeered by the British Admiralty for use as troop ships taking soldiers, their equipment and supplies to assist in the Second Boer War and then returning wounded men back to Britain.

The Second Boer War, commonly called The Boer War, the Anglo-Boer War or the South African War, was fought between the British Empire and two independent African states in modern day South Africa. It lasted between 11th October 1899 and 31st May 1902 with a resulting British victory. The first Boer War had previously been fought between 1880 and 1881.

Idaho itself survived the Second Boer War but was lost during her next war involvement, World War One, in August 1918. Idaho was torpedo by the German u-boat U-107, 120 miles north west of Cape Villano, Spain losing 11 persons.

HMT Kildonan Castle

A black and white photograph of twin funnelled steamship with a light coloured hull and triple masts sailing in an industrial docks environment. The ship's name Kildonan Castle is visible on the bow along with a large white on black number 44. Another ship is docked close by with a smaller black tug boat manoeuvring at its stern. Another ship in the foreground has its decks crowded with onlookers.
HMT Kildonan Castle manoeuvring in Southampton docks around 4 November 1899

The main ship in this photograph, the one on the left not docked, is HMT Kildonan Castle, a ship built by Scottish shipbuilders Fairfield Shipping and Engineering company Limited of Govan in 1899 being launched on 22nd August of that year.

It was a steel hulled steamer and weighed in at 9,652 tons, was just over 515 feet long and propelled by twin four cylinder engines producing 1,663 Nhp and had two screws. Well, probably many dozens of actual screws but also two screw propellers.

Kildonan Castle was commissioned for Castle Mail Packets Company and registered in London but soon transferred to Union-Castle Mail Steamship Company in 1900.

The ship operated as a troop ship carrying forces to South Africa for the Second Boer War where it carried the most men to any war by any boat or ship at the time.

KC served as HM Transport number 44, shown here in Southampton docks probably on or just before 4th November 1899, so would have still been a Castle Mail Packets Company ship.

It was on this date it first set sail with close to three thousand men including a Welsh Regiment of 29 officers with 827 men and their regimental goat, the Northumberland Fusiliers with 29 officers and 981 men, a detail of 5 Black Watch officers plus 41 men of the 3rd Stationary Hospital, 21 officers and 143 men of the 2nd General Hospital, 4 officers and 141 men of the pontoon troop, Royal Engineers and the 1st Battalion section of the Royal Engineers. No other goats were mentioned.

Kildonan Castle was departing for Cape Town to arrive on 22nd November 1899 then onto Port Elizabeth on the 26th and finally to Durban on 27th November 1899.

After that it returned back to Southampton to do it all again at least another two times, averaging 2,700 officers and men per journey. By then the goat sailing average was probably about 0.33.

During this time Kildonan Castle had J C Robinson as her captain and earned in total fifteen Transport Medal Clasps.

Later on in 1915, during World War One, it served as a Hospital Ship, then in March 1916 was commissioned by The Admiralty for troop service, being released back to previous owners in January 1919.

The KC sailed on until 1931 when it was broken up in Stavanger, Norway in May of that year.

I cannot identify the other ships in the photograph. Or if they had any goats on board. Can you?

RMS Majestic

A black and white photograph of twin funnelled steamship with a dark coloured hull and triple masts sailing away from the viewer. The ship's name Majestic is visible on the stern. A large Red Ensign billows at the stern and a few dark clothed men are seen around the decks wearing smart merchant navy clothing and hats
RMS Majestic steaming slowly towards open water around 9 February 1900

RMS Majestic was a 9,965 ton Teutonic class ocean liner built by Harland and Woolf based in Belfast, Northern Ireland and launched on 29th June 1889.

The ship measured 582 feet, which would be called just under 178m today with a beam of nearly 58 foot [or 17.6m] with twin triple expansion engines able to carry 1,490 passengers with 300 in first class, 190 in second class and the other 1,000 in third class.

Majestic was built for the White Star line, delivered in March 1890 and in late July, early August 1891 temporarily gained the Blue Riband, an award for the fastest ever transatlantic crossing with an average speed of 20.1 knots over five days, eighteen hours and eight minutes.

In 1895, RMS Majestic was assigned Captain Edward Smith, the captain who went on to sink as Captain with the ill fated Titanic but when this photograph was taken there were no icebergs to hit in Southampton Docks.

When the Second Boer War started in 1899 Captain Smith and RMS Majestic were twice called on to transport some troops to South Africa, being designated troop ship number 68. Once in December 1899 from Liverpool, then another on 9th February 1900 from Southampton when I suspect this photograph was taken due to its three mast configuration.

Interestingly, Titanic's surviving second in command, Charles Lightroller was also on board Majestic during these trips serving at the time as a deck officer and may possibly be in this shot.

RMS Majestic underwent a refit during 1902 and 1903 including fitting new boilers, taller funnels and removing one of her three masts. After that the ship returned to its Liverpool to New York runs.

Majestic had survived a bunker fire in 1905, then in 1907 transferred to run the now main White Star transatlantic routes from Southampton to New York only retiring when RMS Titanic started her runs, or rather a run, in April 1912. Which required Majestic to be reinstated under Commander J B Kelk, with the first crossing taking seven days and one and a half hours, averaging 18.4 knots.

Later it assisted in a rescue of the wrecked French Schooner Garonne on 17th October 1913, then on 14th January 1914 embarked on its final Atlantic crossing having carried 276,887 passengers across the pond.

Majestic was scrapped on 5th May 1914 after 24 years of service.

The Mexican

A black and white photograph of the side of a large single funnelled steamship with triple masts steaming slowly from right to left just offshore. The name Mexican is in dark lettering towards the bow of this light coloured ship
The Union Castle Mail Steam Ship Company Mexican steaming slowly just off shore

The Mexican was a 378 foot long, 47 feet wide iron, screw, three cylinder steamer built in 1883 by James Laing & Co of Sunderland, which weighed 4,668 tons, could produce 649 NHp and had a cruising speed of 12 knots. These are the stats for the ship, not for the city of Sunderland.

When entering service as a mail ship for Union Company Line it was the largest of such ships operating between Britain and South Africa.

During May 1885 Mexican temporarily served as a troop carrier taking troops to Hong Kong where it remained as a garrison ship for three months to see out the Russian Scare, a conflict between the Russian and British Empires due to territorial advances into Afghanistan by Russia, which threatened to spill over into India.

According to the London Times around the beginning of October 1899 the ship was to leave Southampton and would convey various named Lieutenants, Royal Horse Guards, officers and men from the Army Ordnance Corps along with a couple of surgeons bound for Cape Town in South Africa to arrive in November of that year. A later report added the names of many other lieutenants, officers, captains and a Viscount from various Royal Horse Guard, Lancers and Fusiliers regiments.

I might also note that Robert Baden-Powell, the man who would become known for starting the Scout Movement was also on board as a war correspondent.

This conglomeration of important soldiers and a big Boy Scout made sense when, less than a month later, the Second Boer War commenced in South Africa.

The Mexican was later used in December of that year for ferrying a consignment of chocolate from Her Majesty Queen Victoria sent free of charge to troops in South Africa. I can only assume this was not the only cargo on board. If it was that would have been an enormous floating pile of calories.

This photograph was probably taken whilst Mexican was being used as a mail ship after war service as there are no signs of deck bound troops or Scout leaders. Furthermore when first commissioned for the Union Company Line it would have been painted black. The white livery suggests Union Castle Mail Steam Ship Company ownership which took over in early 1900.

However on 4th April 1900 it set sail once more back to Southampton from South Africa with mail, 106 passengers and 120 crew but when just 80 miles north of Cape Town in the early morning calm seas, some heavy, patchy fog rolled in so Mexican commenced sounding the fog horn whistle and dropped to half speed. Captain B Copp and his crew carefully watched out for other vessels and at 2am heard another ship's whistle, then a light so stopped their engines slowing the ship to around three knots.

Suddenly a much larger troop ship, the Winkfield, sized at 4,009 tons and transporting 15 officers, 310 men and 241 horses from London came into view and despite immediate corrections of speed and trajectory by both vessels the two ships collided.

The crew on board the Winkfield had not seen the Mexican until too late and had not heard any fog whistles.

Due to the size and the angles of collision the Winkfield holed the Mexican badly mid ships so Captain Copp decided to abandon his vessel onto the more stable Winkfield. The crew firstly aided the passengers, then returned to salvage as many mail bags as possible and managed to get 194 of the 429 bags to safety including some diamonds that were being transported back to Blighty before the Captain was forced to completely abandon the ship.

There was then some effort made to tow the stricken Mexican but this failed so by noon the next day it had sunk.

A story in the Mafeking Mail printed on 4th May 1900 reported the incident and added that an officer had claimed the crew of the Mexican, who were largely from Southampton, had been looting the passengers belongings then some had acted subordinately on board the Winkfield.

In subsequent hearings this was dismissed as unfounded as the largely long serving crew had acted with great speed and professionalism without panic to assist the rescue of all passengers and whatever belongings they could. All with no loss of life.

The hearings also cleared both captains of any wrong doing.

USMSS New York

A black and white photograph of the side of a large, slender steamship with three dark funnels mounted close to each other plus triple masts supporting a line of small flag banners the whole length of the ship, steaming slowly from right to left just offshore
The United States Merchant Steam Ship New York steaming slowly just off shore

When the 527 foot long, 10,500 gross tons, steel hulled British steam ship City of New York was built by James & George Thompson of Glasgow for the Inman Line, part of the International Navigation Company, at a cost of $1,850,000 it was designed to be the largest and fastest passenger liner on the Atlantic. It entered service in August 1888.

As the first twin, triple expansion, 9,000 horsepower engined, twin screw, express liner she managed to get the eastbound Blue Riband and held it between August 1892 and May 1893 achieving a speed of 20.11 knots.

The twin screw design was to mitigate in the event of single engine shaft failure and the necessity to keep onboard an excessive amount of rigging for emergencies.

The ship was designed to accommodate 540 first class, 200 second class and 1,000 steerage passengers with quarters fitted with running hot and cold water, electric lighting and electric ventilation. Yes, right from the start this ship had its fans.

Before SS City of New York could be completed the British Government had revoked its licence to be a mail carrier. Therefore the Inman Line lobbied the US Congress to allow American registry and it was on a snowy 22nd February 1883 that the vessel was formally merged into the American Line, personally by President Benjamin Harrison as one of his final acts of presidency where he raised the American flag and renamed the ship USMSS New York, from then on to use Southampton as their UK port.

In April 1898 when the Spanish-American War started the vessel was chartered as an auxiliary cruiser and renamed USS Harvard. The ship served in the Caribbean Sea including rescuing over 600 survivors from high seas riddled with explosives from stricken ships.

There was also an incidence on board when some onboard prisoners were tragically shot due to a misunderstanding over language which became known as the Harvard Incident.

The ship was decommissioned as the USS Harvard on 2nd September 1898 back to SS New York, then in 1901 underwent a rebuild to be fitted with three engines but also reduced to twin funnels in readiness for more transatlantic runs.

With this information I can therefore date this photograph to between 1898 and 1901.

In 1902 New York received yet another engine update, now sporting quadruple expansion engines.

A couple of years later, on 20th March 1904, the ship had a collision in thick fog near Hurst Castle in the Solent with HM Assaye, a single funnelled troop ship used to transport soldiers to the Second Boer War and then as hospital transport back again. New York's bowsprit was carried away and Assaye had her starboard bow severely damaged. Note that I'll write about HM Assaye again later as its story has a personal family connection.

Getting back to the New York, another notable moment came on 10th April 1912 when the ship broke free from its berth in Southampton when the Titanic, yes that ship again, passed by creating a suction effect powerful enough to rip off the three inch steel ropes previously securing the New York to the dock. The Captain of the Titanic, Edward Smith, had to act to avert a collision ably assisted by a local tugboat Vulcan, whose help he could have done with four days later in an icy North Atlantic sea.

The next year USMSS New York was again reconfigured, this time to a second and third class only ship and returned to sailings out of Liverpool. I don't know who made the assumption that Liverpool needed no first class accommodations.

When the First World War commenced in 1914 the USA weren't involved so the ship temporarily became a commercially successful, neutrally flagged liner but when the US decided to join the war in 1918 the vessel was again commandeered as a troop carrier and this time named USS Plattsburg where it got damaged by a mine placed in the Mersey river, Liverpool. Again, I cannot ascertain that it wasn't deliberately placed there by a snubbed first class local.

After World War One duties were over the ship was reconditioned including removal of a mast and again renamed USMSS New York continuing with the American Line until 1920, finally being scrapped in Genoa in early 1923 after first passing through four other owners.

HMT Roslin Castle

A black and white photograph of a grand single funnelled steamship with a light coloured hull and twin masts sailing away from the viewer. The ship's name Roslin Castle and registered port of London is clearly visible on the stern as is a large dark panel on the starboard side showing a big white number 26. A large Red Ensign billows at the stern and a great deal of service people crowd the packed decks. There are five rowed smaller boats near the starboard side
HMT Roslin Castle steaming slowly towards open water possibly carrying a famous future war Prime Minister

The Roslin Castle was a 380 foot long, iron, single screw, British, passenger mail ship steamer of 2,742 tons which would cruise at twelve knots, built in 1883 by Barclay, Curle and Company, Glasgow and launched on 24th April of that year.

The ship was built for D Currie and Company of London and in 1888 was lengthened and her engines tripled to provide 800 Hp allowing the ship to reach 15 knots despite the weight increase to 4,280 tons.

Also that year Roslin Castle transported the English national cricket team, known as Major R G Wharton's team, to play the inaugural First Class international cricket match with South Africa.

In 1896 the ship was transferred to Castle Mail Packets Company and was involved in taking troops to South Africa on 4th April 1896 as part of the Jameson Raid which was intended to start an uprising but failed in its mission but did became a contributory cause of the Second Boer War three years later, although by then the vessel was under Union-Castle Mail SS Company Limited.

HMT Roslin Castle was involved in many trips to South Africa taking troops to that war as troop ship numbered HMT 26, as seen in this photograph. In fact on one occasion she took a young Winston Churchill, future British Second World War Prime Minister, there as a War Correspondent and I like to optimistically think it was this photo that captured that departure.

On another occasion in December 1899 the ship Armenian hit the Roslin Castle damaging some of her rail and davits.

She was also used to transport Boer prisoners of war from South Africa to India, for example 507 men on 11th April 1901.

In RC's later years the ship obtained a reputation for breaking down. Nothing to do with the dented rail or davits, I guess.

In 1905 it was renamed Regina by new owners M Jensen of Hamburg and in May 1907 was broken up in Genoa after suffering major heavy weather damage.

HMHS Spartan

A black and white photograph of a single funnelled, twin mast steamship with a light coloured hull tied alongside a dock. The ship's name Spartan is clearly visible on the bow as is a large dark panel showing a big white number 11 alongside a large, presumably red, cross. Just a handful of people can be seen on board
The converted hospital ship HMHS Spartan tied alongside in Southampton Docks

Her Majesty's Hospital Ship, HMHS Spartan started life as a Union Steamship Co, Southampton, passenger cargo iron screw steamer on 12th July 1881.

Like the City of New York above the ship was built by James & George Thompson in Clydebank.

Weighing in at 3,487 ton the vessel was 363.6 feet long and had 600 Nhp.

In October 1899 Spartan was requisitioned as a hospital ship and converted into a Hospital Ship at Southampton with accommodation for 144 sick and given the transport number 11.

From the smart clean finish of the ship as pictured it is likely this photograph was taken around November 1899 just after its conversion.

I haven't discovered much more about the ship but it clearly survived all its Boer War exploits as its end came in April 1902 when it was broken up in Italy.

But it is a lovely photograph.

SS St. Louis

A black and white photograph of the side of a twin funnelled, twin mast steamship powering along from right to left just offshore. Smoke can be seen billowing from the front funnel and it appears there are a handful of bilge pumps operating as seen from the streams of water pouring out just above the waterline
The Steam Ship St Louis powering along just off shore showing its bilge pumps working

Launched on 12th November 1894 by William Cramp & Sons Building & Engine Company of Philadelphia for the American Line SS St. Louis was a twin screw, transatlantic passenger line of 11,659 tons.

The maiden voyage took it from New York to Southampton in June 1895 but only a few months later, after the transatlantic crossings by this vessel and similar sister ship St. Paul were too slow they underwent modifications, returning to service considerably faster.

In April 1898 St. Louis was chartered at Southampton as an armed cruiser for use in the Spanish-American war. For clarity, on the American side. The ship was renamed USS St. Louis by the United States Navy and fitted with four five inch guns. Which doesn't sound very big at all until you realise that's the shell diameter, not the gun length. The ship also had eight six pounders fitted.

Manned by 350 men with 27 officers under captain Caspar Goodrich St. Louis set off for the Caribbean to deploy heavy drag lines in order to destroy undersea communications links between the West Indies and South America, between Guantanamo Bay and Haiti and also cables serving Cuba.

Plus it was also involved in several naval battles and bombardments including capturing merchant ships and transporting prisoners of war, finally returning to the States for decommissioning back in the shipyard in Philadelphia in August after a busy five months service.

Renamed back to SS St. Louis the ship returned to commercial transatlantic service after having her guns and six pounders replaced by buns and quarter pounders [probably], resuming trips on the regular Southampton to New York route pausing only during 1903 to be fitted with new boilers and taller funnels and during 1913 to be converted to carry second and third class passengers.

From 1914 during the first half of the First World War the St. Louis changed to serving a Liverpool to New York route but in 1917, as renamed vessel SP-1644 or the more snappily titled USS Louisville, had another three guns fitted, this time six inch ones. Cue same old joke.

During service on one memorable occasion the vessel dodged out of the way of an incoming torpedo successfully hitting the submarine that had fired it. And that wasn't the only encounter with a u-boat. The final war efforts were spent as a troop transporter up to the end of the war in 1919.

Following that in January 1920 and renamed back to St. Louis the ship caught fire causing her to be scuttled in Hoboken during a refit back to commercial service in New York. Note, questionable Hoboken and nearby New York fire safety procedures are not covered in this article.

This effectively meant the ship never sailed again and was eventually taken to Genoa in Italy for scrapping in 1925.

I have no idea of the exact date of this photograph. It must have been somewhen between 1899 and 1914 as the ship does not appear to be fitted with guns. Unless they really were only five or six inches big. A clue could lie in the funnel size increase made in 1903 but I have not seen any dateable photographs or card depictions of the ship with alternate funnel heights. My guess due to the inclusion with the other photographs in the collection would be that it was taken around 1900, before the larger funnel refit.

SS Suevic

A black and white photograph of a massively damaged ship bow showing the ripped off deck hanging off the wheelhouse at an angle near forty five degrees
The badly damaged bow of the ship SS Suevic showing a severely ruined deck

This rather broken ship started life as a Belfast built ship of 12,531 gross tons by Harland & Wolff able to carry 400 third class passengers plus refrigerated cargo for the White Star Line for journeys between Liverpool and Sydney via Cape Town and it's story is peppered with interest.

SS Suevic was launched in December 1900 and the maiden voyage was in March 1901. However the ship was soon pressed into service as troop transport during the Second Boer War, returning after that to her commercial role.

On one notable trip a young Charles Lightroller, the future Titanic second in command and most senior serving survivor was assigned to Suevic as punishment whereupon he met his 18 year old wife on board. Which was handy as he was then able to marry her in Sydney when they arrived.

Things sailed along nicely for Suevic until February 1907 when it all went a bit un-ship shaped. Leaving Melbourne the vessel headed for Cape Town then proceeded to Tenerife then set sail for Plymouth in England, intending to continue on to London and finally Liverpool, which seems a bit of an odd routing choice. I'm just reporting the story as I read it.

However just outside Plymouth on 17 March 1907 in thick fog, rain and strong winds Suevic's crew miscalculated the distance to the Lizard Lighthouse by an incredible sixteen miles and ran full speed into the shore hitting a series of part submerged rocks known as Maenheere Reef at Stag Rock, which must have come as a bit of a shock to the 524 people on board.

I assume the £400,000 worth of frozen sheep carcasses also carried on board the vessel at the time were almost certainly not the least bit concerned.

Despite major damage the Suevic didn't sink and Captain Thomas Johnson Jones, was able to attempt several tries at reversing off the rocks. All unsuccessfully.

Thankfully all passengers and crew were saved by the gallant efforts of the RNLI in their largest ever rescue in its history saving 141 crew members, 382 passengers, which included 70 babies, and a presumably embarrassed Captain. All using just four open wooden lifeboats together manned by twenty four local volunteers.

Then just as the sixteen hour ordeal had ended another ship, the SS Jubba, also ran aground within sight along the same coastline and the lifeboat crews, aided by some of the Suevic crew this time carried out another rescue. For their efforts two members of the Suevic crew were awarded RNLI silver gallantry medals, alongside four of the lifeboat volunteers for their work during the rescues.

Captain Jones himself was awarded as well. Awarded liability for the accident and had his Competency Certificate withdrawn, coinciding neatly with his immediate retirement.

Although the bow of the Suevic was crumpled beyond salvage the rest of the ship including the boilers and engines was intact. So the aforementioned cargo of indifferent sheep bits was removed and several attempts were made to pull the vessel off the rocks at higher tides. All attempts were unsuccessful and at each try the ship was taken back by the force of nature further into the rocky reef.

With forecasts of worsening weather most thought abandonment to nature was the only option but the Liverpool & Glasgow Salvage Association, acting on behalf of the White Star Line, came up with a brave plan. To dynamite the front section away, using divers, or rather explosives set by divers because divers aren't naturally explosive enough themselves, with the idea being it would leave a movable 120m long middle and rear end bit which could be rebuilt anew, that being a cheaper option than having to create a whole new ship.

The ambitious and dangerous plan was successful and on 2 April 1907 the Suevic, or rather 400 feet of it, drifted free assisted by a remaining watertight bulkhead. It worked so well the ship, or what was left of it, could reverse under its own steam guided only by tugs all the way to Southampton's Test Quay on 4th April 1907.

A black and white photograph of a massively truncated ship bow in the process of being rebuilt showing the three main decks structural posts and spanning floors
Repairs in progress on the SS Suevic in preparedness for the new bow section arriving from Northern Ireland

After that SS Suevic was transferred to the Harland and Wolff owned Trafalgar dry dock in Southampton where the vessel awaited a new 65m nose to be built in Belfast at which point it became known as the longest ever ship being a third in Northern Ireland and two thirds on the South Coast of England.

It was in Southampton some time in 1907 that these photographs were taken as the new bow arrived on 26th October of that year.

The Harland and Wolff team were joined by shipbuilders from J. I. Thornycroft and the largest cut and shut ship ever was completed by mid January 1908.

Up until the First World War in 1914 Suevic continued commercial service to Australia. The ship continued its runs whilst in readiness for Royal Navy service but wasn't called upon until a commission to take British Troops to Greece. Not on holiday but to the Dardanelles Campaign, under the title Hired Military Australian Transport or HMAT A29 Suevic.

Suevic survived the war and was refitted in 1920 to carry 266 second class passengers, returning to familiar Australian commutes completing its 50th trip in 1924 and going on until 1928 when the ship was sold to Yngvar Hvistendahl's Finnhval A/S of Tønsberg, Norway for 35 grand, renamed Skytteren and converted to an Atlantic whaling ship, complete with a new stern ramp.

The whaling continued until the Second World War commenced. In April 1940, along with several other ships Skytteren was interned in Gothenburg, Sweden. Norway wanted their ship back but met with legal resistance due to a squabble between the exiled Norwegian Government and the German collaborationist Norwegian Government. As a result in April 1942 ten ships, including Skytteren made a dash for it out of port towards the safety of some British warships.

Sweden protested against this manoeuvre so the ships headed for international waters but met awaiting tipped off German ships. Only two made it to the safety of the British ships, two were sunk by the Germans, the rest including the ex-Suevic were voluntarily scuttled by their crew. One crew man was lost and the other 110 became prisoners of war.

The fascinating Suevic story didn't quite fully end in the waters off Sweden in the early forties. Lying in 70m depth of water the wreckage still housed a large amount of oil in the tanks and in 2005 was seen to be leaking and the still decaying hull is now threatening an environmental incident.

Unidentified Ships

A black and white photograph of a light coloured, twin funnelled, triple mast steamship alongside a docks environment. There are some other smaller darker coloured hull ships also berthed alongside
A so far unidentified group of ships alongside what is probably Southampton Docks around the turn of the twentieth century

The collection also contains three other photographs of ships which I have failed to identify.

There were many ships operating from Southampton at the time and these photos do not contain enough individually identifiable data for me to positively name or date them.

This one for instance could be a Union Castle Mail Steam Ship Company vessel. They were common at the time and were usually painted white. However not all light coloured ships were from the Union Castle Mail Steam Ship Company.

If you know how to identify the ship please contact me and I'll happily add this ship properly to the list above.

Some clues may be the twin funnels [fairly common], the height of the funnels [less so] and the three masts [also fairly commonplace].

A black and white side view photograph of a dark coloured, twin funnelled, triple mast steamship sailing past the camera in calm waters from left to right. A few posts in the foreground suggest the shot was taken on land nearby
Another unidentified twin funnelled steamship probably sailing in the Southampton Docks area

The next photograph was bigger so should make identifying distinct attributes of this ship easier.

The same might be said about the backward sloping funnels although the fact there are only two and the ship has a fairly standard set of three masts doesn't assist.

The photo is in black and white so I cannot be certain of the hull colour but assuming it was black it could be a Union Company Line vessel. But even using that fact doesn't allow me to name the vessel.

If only the angle of the composition was more acute then a nameplate may have been visible on the rear which would have made this task so much easier.

Again, if you know the identity of this ship please let me know so it can be properly posted in its rightful place above.

A black and white side view photograph of a dark coloured, twin funnelled, double mast steamship with a light coloured deck section
A smaller unidentified, berthed, twin funnelled steamship probably in Southampton Docks c. 1900

Finally, another twin funnel ship also with a dark hull and twin funnels but this time smaller in size so only sporting twin masts, discounting the rearward post supporting an apparent vessel lamp.

Again, if black hulled is it serving the Union Company Line? Are those funnels red perhaps? If only colour photography was common at the time.

Now some might, at this time, be thinking of web based photo matching services. If you think this might work with these photographs please feel free to try. However this may be hampered by the resolution available, the newness of such matchmaking technology and the fact that these photos are in all likelihood originals having never seen in the public domain before now.

However, if you do get a breakthrough please let me know via the comment link system, vMail, which directs your message straight to me.

Family Connections

Finally I would like to take this chance to honour two other members of my family who's stories are tightly linked to shipping at the turn of the twentieth century and The Second Boer War.

My paternal Great Grandmother, Florence, mentioned earlier, was born Florence Shearman and she had just two siblings, her older brothers Harry and William.

Both Harry and William probably sailed together as they both went to South Africa with the Durham Light Infantry to play their part in the Second Boer War which had kicked off in November 1899.

In all likelyhood they were part of the intended relief of Ladysmith in the Natal area where 13,000 British Forces had repelled a 21,000 strong Boer attack and had endured a consequent siege there.

A digital pencil sketched drawing of a single funnelled, double mast steamship with a lighter coloured deck section against an olive green background. The words SS Assaye by Vince Poynter © 2021 is in bold black lettering in the lower right third
A pictorial representation of the SS Assaye drawn in 2021 on an iPad using the Sketchbook App

They travelled to Cape Town in the single funnelled 7,396 gross ton HM Troopship SS Assaye, yes the I one mentioned earlier which collided with USSMS New York in thick fog later in 1904.

The vessel had started life in 1899 being constructed by Caird & Company, Scotland for the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company being launched in October 1899 intended to be a commercial transport service.

The Second Boer War put an end to that idea and the Assaye was commissioned as troop transport immediately, a service the vessel seemed destined to perform its whole life.

The ship was also used between 1903 and 1908 for various other troop transport duties and when not a troop ship the Assaye remained laid up in Southampton awaiting similar roles.

SS Assaye's first commercial work came in 1908 between Bombay, now Mumbai and the Far East before being hired again by the Admiralty as a troop and hospital ship for First World War use in 1914. Then continued in similar roles until being eventually scrapped in Stavanger, Norway in 1928.

Back to my family's connection to the Assaye and we pick up the story on 1st March 1900 where the ship left Southampton with 2,083 troops onboard including 150 men of the Durham Light Infantry, including the brothers, disembarking them at Cape Town, South Africa on the 21st of the month.

As I didn't have a photograph of the actual Assaye I decided to draw a picture of it, from memory. That is, the memory of a photograph of SS Assaye which I recently discovered on the internet.

Some complications with illness, possibly started during the voyage on the Assaye, rendered both brothers sick. This was not that uncommon on these troop ships at that time.

Harry was so much affected that by 7th April he had already been transferred back onto a returning hospital ship the SS Nubia, which was heading back to Southampton.

A digital painting of a double mast, white coloured steamship with a red lower hull and orange single funnel steaming just offshore against a greyish blue background with the hint of a dark land mass behind. The words SS Nubia by Vince Poynter © 2021 is in bold red lettering in the lower right third
A pictorial representation of the SS Nubia Hospital Ship drawn in 2021 on an iPad using the Sketchbook App

The hospital ship, the SS Nubia, originally called SS Singapore was a £100,000, 430ft (131m) passenger cargo ship of 5,914 tons, launched in 1894 after being built at Caird & Company, Greenock, Scotland and completed in 1895 for the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, later to become P&O.

The ship could travel at 14.5 knots from its three-cylinder triple expansion steam engine of 662 Nhp. The maiden voyage took the ship towards Calcutta but it ran aground in Fukon Bay off Aden, Yemen.

Nubia was deployed between 1899 and 1903 transporting and treating patients during the Second Boer War.

Again, the picture is a representation of what the SS Nubia would have looked like at the time based on modern historical records lying around the servers of this world. Credit to the drawing should be given to me because that's who drew it.

The ship ended life wrecked in 1915 whilst heading from Bombay to Shaghai in the Bay of Bengal less than a kilometre north of Colombo, Ceylon, now Sri Lanka.

Harry's time with the SS Nubia in April 1900 was lamentably short. Unfortunately he never made the journey back home and died on board so was subsequently buried at sea off the west coast of Africa just a day before the ship docked in Las Palmas in the Canary Islands.

Then tragically, less than a month later Harry's younger brother William also died, this time in South Africa. He died from Entric fever, of which Typhoid is a form and was buried at Estcourt, a place described at the time as 'a collection of about three hundred detached stone or corrugated iron houses, nearly all one-storied, arranged along two broad streets'. That was a contemporaneous report according to Winston Churchill who was based there as a war correspondent in 1899.

These men were the only two siblings of my Great Grandmother and so my paternal family the only ones now left with personal connections.

A black and white photograph of a pristine, white, sharp arched shaped, substantial memorial stone with details of two men of the Durham Light Infantry who died in 1900 at ages of 30 and 28 along with a quote reading 'Though lost to sight their memory's green, they fought, they died in honour's cause, serving their country and their Queen'
A newly sited memorial stone dedicated to Harry and William Sherman who both died in 1900

Of course as war wounded their names shall remain in records and have also been inscribed on the Durham Cathedral Boer War Memorial Cross. William unfortunately spelled as William Sherman and his brother Harry as a postscript, out of alphabetical order, near the base and so now quite worn. I presume because the records didn't originally record him as a casualty of the war having being immediately transferred back towards home.

They do have a personal headstone though which was probably erected around 1900, as deduced from the reference to the Queen on the inscription, who would have been Victoria who died in 1901. Given the condition of the photograph it was probably taken soon after placement.

I do not know where it is situated but suspect it is in the Southampton area. The suppliers mark seems to show Mapen Winchester but I cannot determine further information about this or a similar name.

If you have seen this memorial stone and remember where you saw it please let me know so I can make a visit.

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.324 19 Oct 2021
This article was first posted in on 17 Oct 2021
Information and data about the ships shown was collated from internet searches within,,,,,,,, and
The photos used are all from the collection of Vince Poynter, from his family records
The original sketches and drawings were created by Vince Poynter to illustrate this article and are © 2021
Suitable credit should be given if any of this media is used elsewhere

May 2020

Lockdown Return

In March 2020 about seven and a half million people and about a million businesses had a lifeline thrown to them under the UK Government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The scheme allowed companies to furlough their workers with the majority of their wages being funded centrally by the British taxpayer utilising tens of billions of pounds of additional national borrowing and debt.

This short term solution isn't permanently sustainable so as the COVID-19 crisis gradually eases more businesses are being allowed to reopen and we will soon all be back to work. Lockdown is ending.

But how easy will it be to return?

Firstly, many managers and supervisors have already started to go back to reset our working environments to set out our new social distancing practices of keeping two metres apart. Modelled on government and industry recommendations and examples based on the designs worked out and rehearsed by our national supermarkets. By using notices, taped areas, arrows, perspex screens and reduced traffic we will be entering a slightly strange version of the place we abandoned in a relative hurry just a couple of short months ago.

Some of us, due to our particular jobs and restrictive work places may not be able to do all our work ideally spaced from our colleagues and there will inevitably be a lot of dancing and hopping about as we pass each other and jostle for position at toilets, photocopiers and shared work terminals. Fun at first but eventually tiring and frustrating when the novelty wears off for different people at different times.

I foresee much frustration and anger between those who maintain the need to isolate for their own sanity or the safety of their families at home and those who care less about the potential reoccurrence of the virus. The latter presumably from the same pool of people we have witnessed crowding onto beaches and into parks in a desperate last minute ditch to get some sun because slightly recolouring their skin seems worth the risk to them and their families of dying whilst desperately coughing up a sickening disease.

Much the above is pretty much widely known or already considered. What hasn't been covered is the fact that our sustained absence from our colleagues may bring some unexpected problems.

I'm not referring to the potential issues of subconscious, petty jealousy or alternatively envy caused by the gradual returning of staff, between those who wanted to return early or those who didn't, or couldn't. There will inevitably some of this going on and we should make allowances.

What I am concerned about is whether this period has actually made us forget about some critical things.

Already there will be a natural variance in speed that some people can reengage with their work but add in learning new practices and processes caused by renewed working arrangements we should be sympathetic to those who cannot get back into the swing as fast as others.

But before all that what about our personal greetings to those we haven’t seen daily for many weeks? We are all used to going on holiday breaks for a few days or even a couple of weeks and returning to a barrage of 'hellos', 'how are you doings', 'tell us about its' and 'at last you're back there's a pile of work awaiting yous'. Now we have all shared the break together so these salutations will be even more intense.

There is, however, another thing to factor in. Particularly if we work in large establishments or haven't been working there long before all this blew up. How good are you at remembering names?

This issue has troubled me for ages, long before this pandemic. Each morning I greet about a dozen people before the novelty of the day has waned and because of the irregular first entry time into my main workplace these dozen people may differ. For each of those greetings I use a mix of 'hellos', 'good mornings' and 'how are you?s' dependant on the duration of the meet. And for good measure and politeness I add their name where possible. It makes the salutation more personal and assists in human camaraderie.

The responses I get vary from enthusiastic greetings through polite acknowledgement to complete ignorance as if I am actually invisible. This hurts but I have learnt not to be offended if I get no response because I cannot know what is consuming their inner thoughts at the time. Plus with repeat offenders I think their rudeness is a personal trait burden that they themselves have to carry.

Another consideration here may be another issue that prevents civil response. Embarrassment. That is they do know you but at that point, or possibly always, they cannot for the life of them remember your name so turn away or ignore you as this is easier.

It happens to us all. Just think of all the films and TV you see, recognising thousands of faces, what they do and have been in but you are unable to recall their name. Just the same in your busy workplace. You recognise virtually every face but can you name them all? It is probably a natural human condition, a result of our long having eyesight and less developed period of vocal speech and in particular identity.

In practice at work it may be that you rarely meet, maybe have never spent time working closely together or even you were not there when they were marched round with the supervisor to be introduced. It seems that there is a window of about two weeks when you get a chance to ask a newby their name, after that the question becomes psychologically difficult.

In theory you should never be embarrassed about making a 'late' introduction. "Hey, we've known each other for three years now and do you know what, I don't know your name. What is it?" Would you be offended if someone asked you this? Even if you knew many small details about them.

Name badges help of course but not everyone wears these and as they are usually pinned on the chest it can feel awkward to attempt to stare at tiny fonts placed in that area on a woman. And what sort of name is 'Fruit of the Loom' anyway?

The theory of name badges could assist though if we are prepared to rip up convention and adapt a novel approach to introductions.

What about the idea that when we offer salutation we should include our own moniker.

I shouldn't greet you with the words "Hello Karen" but instead say "Hello Vince". After all I can always remember my name. This does at first sound strange but will avoid any faux pas if your name is not Karen but was instead Bill. Plus time will resolve the issue of strangeness.

The downside is getting universal acceptance of this change. The upsides are that we are never embarrassed by forgetting a name again and constantly remind each other of our own identity, which can be as formal, informal or extravagant as we choose.

Maybe as we come out of this unprecedented period we could take the chance to make an unprecedented change for the better.

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.307 24 May 2020
With apologies to all those key workers and staff that have had to work throughout this time and never experienced a furloughing. I thank you all

Wealth Equalisation

Our lives, our country, indeed our world has suffered a huge economic impact due to a destructive little flu like virus which shot around the world at the speed of our modern interconnected life. And there will be huge impacts on everyone from the very richest to the extremely impoverished. And proportionally the worse off you are the bigger the effect that this disease and the subsequent outcomes will be.

And when it's all over or genuinely receding an increasing wave of questions will be vocalised about how we could do better to address this inequality.

Inequality is not a new thing. The world had looked economically skewed for as long as records of society have existed. We may think our modern lives are terribly unfair to many souls but compared to our pasts we have greater equality than ever. If in doubt just imagine life as a Victorian Briton.

We need to continue on this path of fairness for all humanity and this situation we find ourselves in should be the catalyst to make thing happen. But how? A wealth distribution system?

The problem with wealth distribution systems is that most generally see this is as taking from the very richest and giving to the poorest. Sounds idealistic but in reality no one is really keen except the very poorest and their needs are never considered as they own a very quiet voice.

The reason for this is the very richest see themselves as unfairly being the only contributor. The very poorest, because they are also the most numerous would see so little difference, particularly as someone in the distribution chain usually scrapes off too much in 'admin'. And the ones in between don't care enough.

The traditional, simplistic argument that the very richest alone should be singled out to solve the situation is too naive and frankly wouldn't work anyway. Naive because mathematically it would not work. If a dollar billionaire gave away his whole billion to the whole world there would be two problems. Everyone else would get just 13 cents each. A one off, once in a lifetime payment. This would barely make a difference to the world's poorest, who live on less than a dollar a day plus it would make no difference at all to the rest of the world. The second problem would be that the billionaire would now be one of the poorest and is that really fair?

It's a matter of maths. There are simply not enough billionaires despite what a Saudi high street located in Monaco might suggest.

So what about raiding the bank accounts of the millionaires as well then? OK, then why not the accounts of those with over 100k, or even those whose assets exceed 10k? And accordingly strip the world of all the business owners and employees who drive the very economy we are trying to assist.

If you calculate world wealth divided by world population every person on average should have just under $12,000 or less than £10k. Ask yourself, would you sacrifice your entire owned assets for humankind equality and just ten thousand pounds? If you say yes your assets are already probably less than ten thousand or you forgot to include your house, your car, your pillowcases, your cupboard of food, the clothes you are wearing and everything else.

So if we can't rely on just a single group of admittedly rich people plus almost everyone else in the western world what could we do that seems fairer. I have a solution.

Firstly we sub-divide everyone into just seven wealth sectors. For simplicity sake, Billionaires, Millionaires, those who are worth over 100k, those with more than 10k, the poor who can only claim to have at least one thousand, the impoverished who nevertheless have over a ton and the very poorest who own no more than a hundred.

On month one all the Billionaires give 10% of their value shared out equally to all the Millionaires. Hang on stop stressing. It does get better.

The next month all the Millionaires share 10% of their worth equally with all those worth over 100k.

In subsequent months the pattern continues with those whose assets are greater than 100k passing ten percent of their money equally down to the next group. And so on etc. etc.

A couple of years later the whole process starts all over again.

Wealth distribution not from the richest direct to the poorest but cascaded down the line because each sector would be proportionally numerous further down the line.

Every group except the billionaires would benefit. And the billionaires, who are generally altruistic anyway, would be seen to be assisting everyone else and their reputations would be raised accordingly, helping remove the stigma that they are all money grabbing selfish individuals.

Yes there are things to consider.

I am not actually aware of exactly how each of these simplistic groupings are valued. Would these sectors unfairly penalise or even benefit a particular group? For example, would those whose valuations are greater than 100k receive less from the millionaires than they have to give to those with valuations between 10k and 100k? A pyramidical structure does exist in there somewhere but is it as fairly sub-divided as the sectors listed above imply?

Could the valuation of wealth, particularly assets, be accurately calculated? Generally the richer you are the more non-cash assets you have. A technical billionaire is likely to have less than ten percent of their value in greenbacks so would have to 'realise' something to make up their contribution. Offering of Ferraris or small businesses into the mix may not be that easy to redistribute.

Despite this, a good thing is that if it is calculated to make every group richer, other than the top group obviously, then more wealth will naturally flow back into the economy. The natural effect of such a system is that this would probably disproportionally re-increase the wealth of the richest again. A win win system?

Other issues must also be considered though. That not everyone would be honest in their valuations, that some losses from the system would occur due to the inevitable administration and generally the further down the line the money goes the more chance of corruption and bribery.

So maybe the groups should be easier to control. Perhaps an alternate split may be to instead of grouping by individual wealth and asset maybe classify whole countries into wealth groups based on their GDP, whilst in consideration of population levels, then do the same dribble down solution from the richest to the poorest countries using national tax systems. Because as we all know every country has a fair tax system and country level corruption doesn't exist. Hmmm.

But we really must do something. Can you think of the solution? If you can't let's just use mine.

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.298 4 May 2020

January 2020

Writing Update 2020

You may not realise it but I am a bit of a writer. This confusion may have been bourne out by the fact that you are blinded by the many updates to my website with lots of various, unconnected things. Ideas, videos, comedy, road tests etc, etc. But each of these were actually written. It's just that this fact might be missed amongst all the words I churn out on a fairly regular basis.

But deep inside I have many ideas for actual writing. Fiction, stories, pitches and ideas all sidling into my head with some transferred into my notes files. Not all which see the light of the day from a public perspective.

Now these bits and bytes could fester, unhindered for time immemorial, on my hard drive. Never seeing the light of day until fully matured into a book, a play or a script of some sort. Many of which would never get to this stage. So should they stay there?

I think not and it's now time to 'release the cracking' [stuff].

As such I have updated a few of my web pages. Each are nestled in my overall Writing section and comprise the following updates.

In my Fiction page I have added no fewer than sixteen concepts. Ideas and pitches for future stories, each suitable for the short or long form novel format

In my Screenplays page I have included a pitch suitable for a big screen production

In my Stage Plays page I have placed a concept for a three act play ideal for the stage environment

In my TV Shows page I have dropped in six new ideas for TV Show concepts including game shows, a dating show, sitcoms and a celebratory prime time series to show off a post Brexit Britain

Please check these pages out as I believe you will agree with me that these are better out there in the world to inspire and excite than stuck in a dark old, disused, crusty old back up drive longing for attention.

As ever I invite comment on these or any other of my articles and will be inspired to develop any of the ideas or pitches that generate any interest.

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.286 30 Jan 2020

September 2019

Bog Standard

So, I needed to use the toilet because I was in Britain. If it were the USA I would have opened this piece with I needed to use the bathroom, despite not actually needing a bath. Anyway I was headed for the loo and confronted with the first of many choices.

Three doors. One marked with a stick figure of a human, stood face on despite not having an actual face. A figurine defiantly splaying open both arms and legs. Or there was another near matching faceless individual but this time with only one fat leg and apparently partially hiding behind a triangle. Plus another poor soul with a tiny pin head but no arms and seemingly sat down on an exercise ball.

At least the one on the exercise ball gave some clue as to what was in there. It said accessible toilet. Presumably indicating that the other two doors were totally inaccessible and therefore not really doors at all.

But I'm educated so was aware that the term accessible is a more delicate and inclusive term for disabled because, presumably, anyone who may need a little mobility assistance is clearly far too mentally sensitive to deal with long held terminology. Unlike the pointlessly ‘inclusive’ word accessible, which because of its careful curation will obviously never be considered the same way.

But right now I had a pressing need and I decided to throw caution to the wind and attempt to enter one of the rooms to carry out my business. And I choose to attempt to enter one of the presumably inaccessible rooms.

I chose to venture into the one marked with a twin legged human shaped figure as I wasn't hiding behind a triangle at the time and it appears that I may have chosen wisely as there were a row of other men doing exactly what I needed to.

They were all standing in a bit of a row, closely facing a wall of steel, steadfastly staring intently at the wall whilst nodding glimpses to the task in hand in a way that implied any sideways diversion may start a contretemps, or nuclear war or something.

For my purposes I had to join them, but deciding which two to slot in between created an anxious moment. Previous decisions had led to various unsettling outcomes. From barely concealed harrumphing to enforced banter with complete strangers. Or unintended splash back from either or both sides or the Niagra scale watering during the automated flush cycle. Or the awkwardness of suddenly being unable to enact and having to slope away without having 'performed' implying that the visitation was nothing more than sightseeing.

Then there is the issue of the order of completion. Pick badly and you may be left with a decision to be made if nearly all the others complete apart from the guy right next to you, thus presenting a choice on whether to remain standing shoulder to shoulder with a complete stranger whilst the rest of the wall had cleared, or to shuffle sideways as if to suggest the neighbour is in some way undeserved of your proximity. I tend to just 'style it out' and have even been known to shuffle ever closer just to see the effect. The effect being that they finish before actually finishing and beat a hasty retreat.

And I still had the unenviable task of closely staring at an out of focus wall from short distance interrupted by casual glances downwards to monitor operations whilst noticing the channel below is freshly running past with a dirty orange liquid which nasally is anything but fresh and seemingly sluicing various and peculiar detritus which clearly never emanated from a human appendage. All whist wondering if someone will arrive on the scene and push you facewards into the steel trough.

I decided to use one of the cubicles instead.

But which one? There is usually a handy guide to which are vacant. A green for go or red for wait based on the attitude of the door lock. In this case too many were apparently occupied, displaying their 'keep away' red warning flash. One was red but the door wasn't closed fully, hmm? And one was a bit indecisive, mostly green but a bit of red showing. Thankfully one was pure unadulterated green. It became my cubicle of choice.

However, the door was not fully opened so I nudged it carefully to see if there was already an occupant, albeit one who cared less about the intricacies of public cubicle door fastening.

But it swung open. No one inside but due to the hinge arrangement immediately swung back three quarters shut again. I made a quick mental note that the green/red cubicle that I had previously discarded may have been a possible venue after all. But I was here now and once more pushed open the door to reveal my newfound personal peeing point.

I closed, and locked, the door behind me and stared at the ominously closed lid. It's at this point I'm always minded to think of the generally accepted polite notion that one should always 'put down the seat'. Apparently for the ladies. Not that any were likely to be passing by this place of gentlemen of course, but nonetheless some well-meaning soul had decided to adopt formality and fully drop the seat and additionally close the lid. I wish he hadn't.

The trouble with seats in combined male/female facilities and particularly men only establishments is that those who are prone to overshare their wastage all over the pan, seat and surrounding county are exactly the sort who do not think of others and raise the seat first. The polite aiming sort, who make attempts to keep splash back to a minimum are the ones who are most likely to raise the plastic ring. The accepted practice of lowering the seat to assist a future female visitor should be reversed to everyone raising the seat afterwards in case an inconsiderate oaf is the next to arrive.

For there is nothing worse than picking up the edge of a closed pan only to be confronted with a dripping under belly. You will not be able feel you have fully rinsed that off your fingers for about a month of intent scrubbing. However, you will have learned a lesson and in future always tear off a wad of toilet paper in order to raise the lid. I am an expert so dutifully spent six minutes trying to extract a bit of tissue paper that didn't tear off into a fingertip sized sample from the wall mounted dispenser which must have had a bit of a cob on because it steadfastly refused to give up its contents without a battle.

The raising of the seat cover then presented the next issue. A blocked but still well used bowl of sewage. No previous indication of such a surprise treasure find. The loose fitting seat cover, with broken hinge and only two of the four rubber feet still in operation managed to suppress all notion of this hidden swamp and amazingly all associated aroma with the integrity of a spacesuit.

I thought of flushing this horror that had now hit me hard in the nose but reasoned that adding more liquid to this may actually result in a tsunami of effluent all over my trainers. And I didn't want that.

I remembered the half-caste green/red cubicle and exited my current position to head off in search of this Eden.

However because of the epic struggle I had with the tissue dispenser I had been in there for a few minutes and now the joint had become more crowded. The line of reprobates had grown to a full complement and I could hear the harrumphing and muttering had increased exponentially. The trouble was the ones waiting for a gap in this queue and one immediately shot into my vacated cubicle as I exited. Before I could even explain why he shouldn't. He was turning around and undoing his trousers as he entered and I heard the squish as he crashed down onto the seat without pause.

"Aww, shit!" he audibly exclaimed presumably accurately describing what he sat on. He then flushed, accompanied this time by the expletive 'bollocks' presumably to describe what had just been unintendedly washed. The seepage slewed gently out past the door.

I washed my hands and left the premises. After all, actually having a pee didn't seem all that necessary now.

Public toilets are a disgrace. Not always where they are needed, too often closed, unhygienic, badly treated, poorly maintained and seemingly unsafe. It’s time I took a good look at the loo and sorted something out.

Despite all the above these establishments provide a service we all need at some time. For some of us many times. We seem to be getting it all wrong so I wish to propose that we give the industry a big shake and get it to clean up up it's act.

The first requirement is that they should be there, where you need them. Too often one cannot find the facilities in a city centre. We know that they are often within large shopping malls or at rail stations but these obvious places aren't always available throughout the wide conurbations of our large cities.

Furthermore the smaller the city, or town or village the less likely there is a guarantee of a place to spend the penny. Legislation should be there dictating the siting of loos where councils or communities are failing to provide these places.

The next requirement of public toilets are that they should be open. Always. All the time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. And twice on Thursdays. Whatever we do to improve our toilets will be pointless if one is stood outside a locked door with a bladder based imminent pressing need.

Next up on my bullet list is a redesign of our toilets. At present the buildings are often dark, dank intimidating places. Security can be suspect and the basic Victorian architecture and styles seem to contribute to this. As a society we still seem to be too culturally sensitive to a basic human need. We all pee and poo. Absolutely without exception.

So why are we hiding this function away in dingy facilities? Let's build modern, open, light buildings. I agree the actual place of discharging should have some personal privacy but why is the waiting area hidden from view? A glass fronted building would provide a greater sense of safety to those who feel vulnerable entering the building.

To achieve a good balance between privacy and security every cubicle should be fully equipped with everything needed when in there. In other words each should be like a disabled facility, large, spacious, fitted with a pan, sink, mirror, waste disposal bin and hand rails. An extra advantage of this way would be that there is no need to discriminate between the non able bodied and the not yet non able bodied.

Furthermore the facilities should be entirely gender neutral. A common place for male, female or any other way folks choose to see themselves, because we are all people. The advantage of gender neutrality would mean that couples or groups can visit together with the ability to wait for each other in the open glazed frontage area, possibly on provided comfortable seating.

One issue with this new design would be that some may complain that this would be more expensive to construct. I agree this would be the case but we do not live in a land of such struggling poverty that this couldn't be done if the will was there. I agree that lining up men, shoulder to shoulder staring intently down into a common trough is an efficient use of space but it is also de-humanising, subject to splash back from every angle, therefore un-hygienic and frankly embarrassing, particularly for those with abnormal biology or a need to wait patiently for nature to take its course.

Also too many males clearly see the rapid, casual nature of peeing an excuse to speed through the process and therefore skip the important bit of washing their hands afterwards. This all too common, disgusting habit is one reason many may not wish to share their facilities. But I have a solution.

The doors to these individual cubicles should only operate once the hand washing equipment is used, or make the toilet door exits only openable by the use of an adjacent hand sanitiser.

On a similar note the toilet flush mechanism should be automated or foot operated, to minimise cross transference of germs.

And we should all 'leave the lid up'. In fact it should 'spring up' after seating. Not in an ejector seat kind of approach but a slow elegant rise.

And the hand washing facilities should be controllable, sensor operated affairs and not timed to dispense soap when no water is available, or end up with an inadequate breathless cold air dry that leaves hands still wet afterwards. I have dry skin and damp hands exacerbate this condition, particularly in winter.

Yes there are now some 'unisex' facilities being built and welcome they are too, albeit a bit cramped for my liking but overall we can do better. And we should.

Let's improve the loo.

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.273 13 Sep 2019
No photograph was included as you may have been eating your dinner

January 2018


Gastroenteritis and Tartrazine

A serious warning about this article. The subject matter may be considered uncomfortable for those of a weak disposition. It comprises a graphic description of a bout of food poisoning and I strongly suggest that you think carefully before fully opening and reading this piece.

It is not intended to be sensational and is written with thought and honesty but for reasons of descriptive accuracy does explain the processes and results of the illness.

Blogs are about real life experiences and not all are akin to fluffy bunnies ambling on a hillside in the sunshine. So proceed only if you are ready for some realism. No offence will be taken if you do not read this one of my articles. I would think carefully myself if you were to post something similar yourself.

It started on a Thursday. My wife, Lynda, and I eat out a lot and usually choose a pub offering a good meal deal. This particular one has been a recent favourite and we have had many reasonable meals there.

We understand that post Christmas January eating out is the rarest time of the year. It is why establishments make offers during the busy December month to entice punters back into the practice of eating out in the new year. However, we regulars need no such enticement as the process of eating out is a common habit.

In fact in the December run up to Christmas we share the same thoughts that alcoholics do about seasonal drinkers invading their space at festive times. With our annoyance focussed on some food based pubs taking away their usual offers in the run up.

All of which is just an explanation of why we had no concerns about visiting this unusually quiet pub on this evening for our main meal of the day.

We ordered a fairly normal menu choice, me the gammon with egg, Lynda with the chicken. We did comment to each other that it was delivered surprisingly quickly but we had said it was quiet that evening.

The food was as unremarkable as ever and expected for the price but I did note that the Jacket Potatoes were cold to the touch. Well perhaps not technically cold but certainly far from steaming hot. But it didn’t ring bells and we ate up and left as usual.

Later that evening I needed to use the toilet. Again, not normally remarkable but the beginning of a story this time. It was a standard episode but had to be repeated about an hour later. It was then that mild stomach cramps became evident.

The third visit in as many half hours included some diarrhoea and increasing tummy tightening. By the fourth time I was only jettisoning fluid and feeling a good throw up might bring things to a conclusion.

It was now well into the night, I was feeling increasingly weak and weary, freezing cold out of the bed and unable to lie comfortably in it, my torso demanding all my attention.

I announced to Lynda that this was serious and I had to abandon thoughts of working on the Friday. She wasn’t really convinced until I actually vomited. The drama of this act enough to convince the most skeptical wife that her husband wasn’t angling for a free pass. She agreed to make the necessary arrangements leaving me free to wallow in my misery.

Being violently sick is a strange phenomenon. For most of us a rare occurrence, frightening as a thought during build up but often strangely a sudden and fantastic release when over.

In this case thankfully it wasn’t accompanied by the often body shaking, full-on fast, sweaty, disablement that sees one writhing on the floor, virtually unable to lift oneself to a place of hygienic projection whilst feeling genuine thoughts of considered demise as a pathetic release from the perceived torture.

In my case I just suffered the intense torso trauma necessary for the body to do what it needed, which is to eject the foreign body as efficiently and fast as possible.

The reason for my coldness and feelings of weakness is explained by the total denial of any unnecessary energy allowed to the limbs and head. All blood circulation and glucose available being required for the central body area.

Then a fantastic and impressive contortion occurs. My stomach seized suddenly to a fraction of its normal size and caused a quickly repeating wave form heading up to the chest. Such was the intensity I felt my skin tighten over the hips and ribs.

This was accompanied by the enlargement and straitening of my whole mouth and throat all the way down to my stomach. It was as if you could put a whole arm down into my stomach without touching the sides.

My face contorted to maximise the final opening with my lips pulled back over the teeth as if I was reenacting the classic scene from An American Werewolf In London.

All of which pathetically resulted in just a tiny few specks of semi-digested food.

A second episode and this time all the drama with sadly none of the result. The earlier diarrhoea having stolen all the moisture from my system.

But finally a third and more intense session and I ejected partial evidence of the suspected interloping poison.

It is only when this finally occurs that the inbuilt detective in oneself can finally hone in on the suspect. I’ll save you from the more salacious details [surprisingly considering my attempts at detailing up to now] but I blame the gammon and suspect it had been stupidly reheated.

My misery didn’t finish there. The body cramps hadn’t finished, the diarrhoea continued the next couple of days and I was pretty well bed bound for 36 hours in a state of uncomfortableness.

A further trio of vomiting occurred the next day, Friday, and my unexpected dieting continued as I had no desire to add anything into the cauldron of gloop festering in my innards.

All I wanted was to sleep but this was distracted by my tummy pains and frequent visits to discharge the small remaining vestiges of fluid in my system. And flushing through an overheating anus is not ideal.

In fact it was the Saturday before I was persuaded by Lynda to allow anything other than water to pass my lips and I chose first to take on a sugary liquid.

She had kindly purchased a couple of litres of one of my favourite juices, Cranberry and Raspberry. I considered this quite innocuous so ventured a sip or three.

I attempted to properly rehydrate whilst giving me a sugary boost to aid the feelings of extreme tiredness. And I guess it worked.

During the day I felt better, less exhausted and only had the remaining tummy cramps to dispel, which I knew wouldn’t go until my body had satisfied itself that all badness was gone and once again offered feelings of hunger to replenish itself.

But it was an 18 hour period of living with just an empty shell filled only with a sticky juice. And a strange phenomenon started to occur.

It started when I closed my eyes to attempt rest. Normally on first closing eyes I see temporary visions of the intense light sources I had been seeing. Such as dark patches where lights had been on or more recently dark square patches where I had been looking at my phone. These recede over a short time to be replaced by the swirling out of focus cells and miniature hairs naturally floating across the eyeball. Distinct and highly contrasting, particularly evident when the room light source is lit or daylight as it was during this time.

However, now I was experiencing something new. Fuzzy grey, indistinct large patches with highly jagged and darker detailed edges.

These sights, through closed eyes, were the first different thing but soon my mind’s thoughts, unusually quiet during my previous sickness, had now turned quite crazy. Crazy in the sense of all over the place.

Song snippets, earworms, raced repeatedly around. Thoughts jumped from one subject to another at an unbelievable and frightening speed, perhaps six to ten a second and when I did finally ‘sleep’ for a few minutes vivid dreams featuring regressive situations coupled with modern characters in my life filled my imagination.

I concluded I was suffering the alleged fate of small children with underdeveloped minds reacting to what I understand as an excess of Tartrazine in their diet. In their case often accompanied by random, uncontrollable, disruptive actions.

Thankfully as I proceeded to rid myself of the sickness and tentatively returned to normal eating the effects wore off, the only permanent result being this scripted article penned in lieu of a good nights sleep.

I hope I haven’t laboured too much on the murky details in my story, having only included what I felt needed to get to the interesting aspects of violent sickness and my personal thoughts on ‘Tartrazine’. I am aware that the subject matter has been intense and appreciate any reader who has come this far with me.

I include this as blogging stories are nearly always about the good and positive in life and the more realistic aspects are usually less well documented.

Maybe someone someday might be interested in how food sometimes affected us in the early twenty first century.

In stating this I assume it is the year 2743 or something. By which time I shall have fully recovered.

A few final thoughts.

Firstly, I have no intention of naming or shaming the establishment which I believe caused my distress. I have eaten there on perhaps dozens of occasions and believe there was no ill intent or lack of hygiene practice to cause this problem on this occasion. It is part and parcel of regular eating out. If they made a mistake on this day then this is unfortunate.

I do not plan to ostracise the establishment and whilst won’t immediately rush back will probably be tempted back eventually by the enticing offers which lead us there in the first place.

I do not seek compensation as I have lost nothing really except an unscheduled holiday date.

The cost to me was temporary, the pain a fading memory save for this piece but we all got a blog from it, so some positive.

The anxiety and additional work imposed on Lynda was accepted unequivocally as one does for a lifetime partner. And she did get a virtually uninterrupted day of Netflix out of it.

I have not studied the phenomenon of Tartrazine, have no proof of this chemical in my drink and do not in any way cite myself as an expert in this field with only general circumstantial and hearsay stories leading me to the conclusions above. Further, I have no particular interest in pursuing knowledge in this field and do have access to Wikipedia should I change my thoughts on this.

I particularly have no interest in children with ‘behavioural difficulties’ and again my thoughts above are as far as I personally wish to explore such matters.

I know there are blogs out there that deal with much more severe trauma, sickness and even death. Probably with greater humanity, thought and compassion but please don’t assume I need a list of such places to view. I can use search myself if I wish to go down this route.

Any comments are welcome but if you wish to espouse views on diarrhoea, vomit or children please try to maintain an understanding that not everyone wants to know every tiny detail, particularly about the two most icky subjects. Obviously one of them being children.

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.255 13 Feb 2019
Originally written but not published on 15 Jan 2018

October 2017

Plea For A Bike

Vince sat on a Dawes racing bike on a driveway
Me sat astride one of my first ever bikes. The other one is my wife's. She is not shown as she steadfastly refuses to place her thumb in the camera view

When I was a child and through to a teenager I, like most of my peers, had a desire to own a bicycle. It was like a right of passage. Part of life development. It seemed natural and ordinary. It represented growth, freedom and independence. It was after all the status symbol of a generation. A chance to explore wider boundaries and meet new friends.

Bicycles were certainly an expensive thing. In my world at the time it had serious financial implications for parents. As one of three children getting expensive gifts was an extremely rare thing. In those days toys were reserved for special occasions like Birthdays or Christmases and the cost of bikes were probably more than treble that were spent on those days combined.

Plus there was an element of danger. Children, bikes and traffic didn't mix well with the former usually coming off worst.

It was for the above reason my father steadfastly refused to buy his children a bike. And of the three of us I was the most upset by this. Very upset. Extraordinarily upset. Boundary tantrum upset.

I reasoned that bicycle ownership would help me develop. I was a timid child, small compared to most school colleagues, a pacifist in an angry world, scared with insecurities about being considered part of it. I struggled to have close friends at school and was further alienated by being unable to be part of the cycling gangs developing. With no bike I appeared to be a loner. A loser.

It didn't help that my circumstances took me away to a remote school at twelve years old and getting there was a pain. Bus rides, long walks and being miles from friends when socialising was unbearable. It is even probably the reason I never became a rock star.

I argued long and passionately about these points with my dad but he was unrepentant. I pointed out that I, more than other children, would treat riding with respect and care to avoid becoming the jam in a car sandwich. I reasoned that by restricting this activity he was cruel, stunting my development and curtailing any after school activities. I even offered to have nothing else if only I could have a bike. But to no effect. There was no way he'll change his mind.

As a result of this I wrote a song. A duet, coupled with chorus elements served to suggest a West End musical style because that is exactly what it was intended to be. This passionate episode in my life was written to be part of a plan for a musical of my life that I was considering and working on in the 1980s. These lyrics were penned in 1989. The musical has yet to be completed.

The unedited original lyrics are reproduced in the vSection menu above under Songs or can be found by clicking the appropriate tag below and despite their apparent complexity do not yet have any musical accompaniment. I will eventually get around to doing this but will first need to learn how to write music. This was a serious flaw in my plan to write that musical. So, can you help?

If the tune is great and it becomes a success I may buy you a bike. Providing you don't bloody well go on about it all the time.

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.006 16 Oct 2017

September 2017

vinceunlimited Website Version 5 Launched

Original sketch laying out version 3 of the vinceunlimited website
The original sketch laying out version 3 of the vinceunlimited website, now finally achieved at version 5

Dan, dan, delah! Der, der, der, derrh! Tah Da! And however you might spell a drumroll. has roared into stage 5!

And it's a return to the original vinceunlimited concept idea. I have gone back to basics and have elected, once more, to learn how to and then do all the web-coding myself. And appropriately, the latest standard for web coding is HTML 5. So I've had to learn a whole bunch of updated rules.

Plus to do this properly I also had to learn the associated coding for CSS and Javascript. If you are unsure what all this means basically the HTML bit handles the layout and words, the CSS stuff seperates out the colours and styles and the Javascript jibberish allows complex page selection such as the Random Page Selector button actions at the top of the page.

My original vinceunlimited site, forseeingly known as version 1, was catipulted onto the main stage in October 2003. It was hand coded in a contemporaneous version of HTML.

Version 2, appeared on the internet in May 2005 with coding that took my site to the next level with a better layout, a sidebar and dual colours.

I always struggled with getting HTML coding to set and wrap around images and with image links and couldn't find the time and way to code version three which was planned to look like the image above but I was saved all this effort by the introduction of Apple's colouful WYSIWYG iWeb App so this became the basis for actual version 3, in March 2010. Are you paying attention to these dates. A quiz will follow. But Apple had other ideas about keeping this iWeb pet project alive and I had to find another way to maintain my web prescence.

In 2012, July to be a bit more precise, with the development of FaceBook and Twitter, personal web-sites seemed to be going out of fashion. The era of the common blog had really started. And this bandwagon was truly seized upon when I clambered aboard a WordPress site, effectively making this the fourth version of

But WordPress is mostly about piggy-backing on other people's hard worked designs and trying to disguise this plagiarism with a bit of personal customisation. I always found this awkward and unsatisfactory so decided to go back to first principles and code the thing again myself, hence this version 5.

Have I bucked the trend? Am I just showing off? Or am I just avoiding the sheeple? These questions and less will be answered in the next few years.

For the full vinceunlimited story check out the Versions link, under vChoices at the top of this site.

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.001 30 Sep 2017
First Published: Version m5.001 30 Sep 2017

June 2017

Guilt Ridding

Silence is said to be golden.

But it doesn't help move things on much so I'm busting the guilt and will be shortly issuing a few key posts.

But you will have to read them aloud, as they will be delivered by page not noise. And if you don't add the sound they will remain silent. And this cannot be so as they are key matters.

But not as in door latches.


Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.241 27 Nov 2018
First published: WordPress Blog on 2 Jun 2017

January 2017

Tempus Fudgeit

Whoa! What happened there? Just as I was tucking into the breakfast of 2015 it's all of a sudden way past the midnight snacks of 2016 and 2017 has begun. Did I miss anything important?

I do hope that Britain hasn't voted for something daft, that America has elected a calming President, my Volkswagon will pass it's MoT and no one I knew died.

But it's no good dwelling on the past. We've got some right here and now to attend to. So, let's check up on how I did with my 2015 promises.  Well, in a word - bloggerall.

And for 2016. Err.. Can I pass on that one?

So I better let bygones be neverwasses and concentrate on my plans for 2017.

I have broken out a new WordPress theme and looked at ways of expanding my site to a faux website with all my previous content stuffed into various pages and lists on drop down menus. However, this would be unyieldly and I can't work out how to use tags within the pages to aide category searching. So I have to resort to the olde worlde method of individual posts.

So the plan is... No, I'm not going down that route. You know what happens if I do that.

"I may be back. Possibly." To misquote a terminator.

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.238 22 Nov 2018
First published: WordPress Blog on 1 Jan 2017

January 2015

A Resolution

Hello blog readers, Happy New Year.

Time has just turned into 1995, or 2012, or 2015, that's it, it's recently become 2015. I hope you are 'aving a luverly one. Me, I'm doing my usual at this time of year and thinking about the future and what it will bring. Or more importantly, as required by inspiring American Presidential speeches, what I can bring to it.

As is traditional at this time of the year many thoughts are turned to the ideology of making brave promises, such as getting fitter, travelling more, being sarcastic to fewer Black Rhinoceroses, that sort of thing. So, who am I to buck this trend?

Yes, I kinda want to do these things but more importantly I want to do more stuff. I want to do more content creation.

You will already be aware that I'm that type of soul. A giver. A provider. A right old show off.

You know I occasionally blog and that I have started a podcast, plus if you've scanned the page you'll know I have a reasonably active, non 'RT'ing Twitter account and a public Instagram photo feed and you might also have been inquisitive enough to discover that I have put a limited number of videos onto YouTube. All good content creationy stuff so far. But I want to go even further and I'm using this very public notice board to declare an interest in getting more stuff out there.

So, a resolution for the year, which as it's in writing and on pixels etc won't be able to be broken at all. In the forthcoming twelve months I plan to... sorry, hope to... sorry may...

Do at least twenty more blog posts.

Write, record, then re-record because I fluffed a word or two, then publish six more podcasts.

Write, create and publish six comedy videos or vodcasts or maybe even videocasts then publish these to my YouTube account.

Be sarcastic to no Black Rhinos whatsoever, no matter how much they goad me.

Turn one of my 'songs' into a real song with actual music and stuff, written and recorded to match the lyrics I've already done so that at least one doesn't just look like a lame poem.

Finish the book I started writing in November 2014 year which was abandoned in November 2014 by which I mean do all the chapters and not just turn it into a Novella. Then get it published in the iTunes bookstore for proof and actual purchase and stuff.

So, That is the plan. How I'm going to achieve all this, what with all my getting fitter and travelling more, nobody knows? But there is no going back now. No, seriously, there isn't. Time doesn't work that way. So onto some writing, recording, videoing, novelising, singing and more.

I just hope the singing doesn't threaten the Rhinos. Thankfully they do have a tough skin.

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.230 13 Nov 2018
First published: WordPress Blog 2 Jan 2015

August 2014

All White

As you may have noticed I've been fiddling with my format again, but don't worry it will be all white.

I felt I needed to freshen things up a little and in line with modern design have decided to forgo the previous skeuomorphism in favour of a neater, simpler look.

I'm not alone. This sanitisation has been happening all over the place from interior design to computer operating systems.

Ironically, with their new, less fussy environment designer's minds have been freed to experiment more radically and along with the availability of cheaper and simpler manufacturing, general designs have become more ambitious. Less simple. Take a look at some modern upmarket watches or maybe car headlight design for instance.

I'm hoping this new approach will help me as well. So look forward to more exciting content soon.

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.206 8 Oct 2018
First published: WordPress 4 Aug 2014

July 2014


A large colourful advertising poster on a bus shelter for Zoopla saying 'Smart explares the local area' with a note pointing the distance to the nearest school
The question you have to ask is if Smart is so clever why is it waiting at a bus stop?

This summer Zoopla are currently running an advertising campaign. That's fine. That's their inalienable right. They have to do it. Get and keep their name out there. Build some business.

As you can see they have gone for a unique tact. Great, that's what they should do. In this case the idea of smart as a conceit. Well done Zoopla. Where did you get that idea from?

Yes come on? Where did you get that idea?

Well I suspect it was your advertising agency. I can picture the meeting now. All stripy shirts, coloured braces, goatee beards and over enthusiastic shouting. With them selling you this unique idea of smart as a conceit.

But where did they get this from? Was it my blog post on 19 July 2012, I wonder?

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

But acknowledgement is the most honourable.

And reward the most appreciated.

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.205 5 Oct 2018
First published: WordPress 20 Jul 2014

March 2013

Soul Trading

Contract or permanent, that is the question?
Whether 'tis nobler in the industry to suffer
the slings and arrows of outraged employees
Or take arms against a drying sea of Contracts

I apologise Mr Shakespeare but your soliloquy does help present a conundrum I have wrestled with lately.

Contract or permanent, that is the question? And I think the answer lies in time.

Often employees are subject to a three month trial. I'm not sure of the legal validity but it is common to hear this. So, if someone has lasted just three months in a company as an employee you may be entitled to ask why? On the other hand Contract work, being more ephemeral means three month assignments are more commonplace so the same suspicion may not arise.

However extend that duration to one year and there is real dilemma.

Consider first that this was a permanent position. A year as an employee initially suggests that the role was sufficiently carried out. The 'three month trial period' was easily surpassed so any failings would show well within this time but why just a year in a 'permanent' post? Questions of unfulfilled ambition and restlessness start to emerge and no one wants to waste money recruiting this attitude. Is there natural negativity here?

However, look at the exact same individual taking the exact same job on a Contract basis. This time any trail period was over in the first week and Contracts are usually job based so a whole year assignment suggests a successful conclusion. Here there is only a feeling of positivity.

So unless that employer is offering more than a year of work go Contract. And who can guarantee more than a year these days?

So permanent positions... opposing end them: to die, to sleep
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.197 24 Sep 2018
First published: WordPress 13 Mar 2013

August 2012

Olympics 2012

The concrete, interlocking, five Olympic rings high on a hill overlooking Portland

So rarely something happens that changes our perceptions so completely it takes you a bit by surprise. The 2012 London Olympic Games was a rare example of this. And from what I hear and read I'm not the only one who has had to refocus their original opinion.

A BMW 3-series 320d painted in the orange, yellow and white Olympic branding
An official Olympic branded BMW 320d passes by close to my front door

My thoughts about the 'OGs', as I shall refer to them to avoid a lot of finger pressing, started earlier than most. Yes we all had a passing interest when we heard that we beat the French in the first game of the season by winning the rights to spend a fortune on the spectacle. But a lot of thoughts turned elsewhere very soon. After all, you can only do so many laps of French gloating.

But I thought there may be quite an overlap between the OGs and myself. I earn my tech-spend money in construction and moved in close enough circles to think I may get some work out of this massive money pit. Not only in planning and commercially running some of the work but also in the likely delay and disruption claims that seemed sure to follow in the subsequent three years.

But the Lord Coe & Co had other plans and secured the construction via an alternate consortium who for some peculiar reason managed to build it all on time and within budget. Leaving me with no pie encased finger and nothing to pick over later.

I was never asked to lift a finger to help. And from history it seems this was a shrewd move by LOCOG. Ahem.

So it was with the rest of you that I did the marathon ignorance of the whole caboodle until the organisers started a spectacle of individuals chundering through the countryside with a naked Greek flame. Even then my cynicism vented through my first words as I tweeted '..As the Olympic torch relay passes from worthy individual to worthy individual. Each carefully selected from those without eBay accounts..'

A mid-size coach painted in the orange, yellow and white Olympic branding
Another official Olympic vehicle passing by. This time a coach

But soon I became quite fond of the procession. Instead of seeming repetitive the flame relay with its smart convoy of BMWs, buses and outriders became quite the thing. I wanted to see it all but not so much as to bother to move from my front porch. Then it went past the porch and I got all fan-like again.

I then had reason to visit London on a couple of occasions and felt a palpable frenzy in the air. London, washed clean and made green by the preceding months rain, smelt fresh and the £11bn expenditure was everywhere. Particularly in the never-ending barriers. Even the Olympic lanes looked right. And there was still a week to go.

And when the sport started and the infectious crowds recorded by our rightly partisan broadcaster got into the swing I started to regret not paying a small mortgage on the chance of seeing a sport I wouldn't normally cross the park to observe.

And so normality got put on hold. Meaning for me, I barely posted a Tweet. Subconsciously avoiding tempting fate because as you all know if I said "Ooh, this is Good" almost certainly Katherine Grainger wouldn't have won Gold and Steve Redgrave would have missed out on his hug. And I couldn't do that, could I? Even worse I wondered how poignant praise may be if Johnny Terrorist suddenly decided to let rip. In hindsight he seemed to have been as engrossed as we were.

I'm not saying everything was perfect as some commentators have suggested. The overuse of the word historic for the event and individual contributions had been both abundant and annoying. In wearing my pedant hat either everything is historic or nothing is. A first woman's boxing win may be classed as such but a double gold in two events or multiple successes or medalling may be repeated again. And the event itself, no matter how much we enjoyed it is not historic in the way it was suggested.

An aeroplane awaiting passengers painted in the orange, yellow and white Olympic branding
Even aeroplanes parked up nearby for various visiting Olympic dignitaries

I also noticed not every medal winner was happy. I'm particularly thinking of the Silver medallists. When Gold was earned it was either great joy or relief. Bronzees did the same. But the guys who got Silver often looked pretty miffed. I presume this is because Silver was seen as failing to get Gold. The reason why Bronze medallion wearers were equally as proud as the Golden guys was that they could rightly be classed an Olympic medal winner. And they weren't fourth.

My final thought has to go to the legacy. After all that's what won the bid for the Brits over the French and The London Olympic Committee can be glad that this will manifest itself in two distinct ways.

Firstly the games legacy will inspire a nation of young fit athletes. In Jamaica.

And more importantly, the London 2012 font will inspire a whole load of copycat writing. Mark my words [with an angular felt tip pen].

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.193 12 Sep 2018
First published: WordPress 20 Aug 2012
The photographs were all taken by the author and added to the website in Version 5.193 12 Sep 2018
The header photograph shows the concrete Olympic Rings structure erected on the hill above Portland, Weymouth and was taken on 2 October 2014, more than two years after the 2012 Olympic Games had finished
The other photographs show the special liveried Olympics 2012 sponsored cars, coaches and aeroplanes and were taken in Southampton on 15 Jul 2012

July 2012


Does it pay to be smart?

If you are in the need of new staff you want the best don't you? You want someone who is smart. Your business needs smart. There's enough dumb around and smart is better than stupid, right?

All positions are about risk and opportunity and if you hire smart the risk is reduced and the opportunity increased. A smart manager will hire smart staff. Don't you agree? Or maybe not?

You need to fill a role and you meet a really smart candidate. This candidate will present great future opportunity and fantastically improve your business. It's a no brainier. You want smart and there they are right in front of you. All you have to do is make the offer.

But you hesitate. You know there is a real downside to smart.

Firstly, smart is good, possibly too good for the role you have in mind. Smart will soon become disenchanted and want to move on so you will have to hire all over again.

Or smart will move on taking all your company skills with them. Nothing worse than having smart only for smart to get better and then move to the opposition.

Even worse smart may rise through the ranks. You know smart rises to the top and between smart and the top is you. If you're not smart, smart may become you. It takes a brave person indeed to hire someone smarter than they are. Are you that brave?

All I can say is that I'm smart. But don't worry. I'm not quite as smart as you.

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.192 11 Sep 2018
First published: WordPress 19 Jul 2012

Augmented Reality

Sooner than you can say head up display we'll all be meandering around pointing our mobile devices at the world and immediately knowing that the shop to your left is offering 50% discount on crop tops, the restaurant to your right has a bean soup salad special for just £6.73 and the bus about to run you over for not actually paying attention to the road is going to Tottenham via Purley Green.

Yes the future is just about here and it is going to be augmented reality mad.

This is a great technological advancement and will enrich our lives like nothing else. Soon you will never be caught not knowing your neighbour's dog's name or how late the six fifteen to Manchester Piccadilly will actually arrive. Our computers will overlay street names, ingredients on tins and localised weather forecasts as if we couldn't live without such information.

And when the tech really gets going it won't be a mobile phone held aloft but a pair of high tech glasses. Google have already broken ground on this one. Soon it will be so uncool not to wear glasses.

The only downside will be the inevitable viruses. Not the predictable blank screen version although that won't be pleasant over your whole vision of course. No, fear the augmented pranksters.

Oh, it will start very friendly, perhaps with odd additions such as the next bus is due in 316,928 years, size 10 - you've got to be joking madam or this bacon is suitable for Jewish vegetarians.

Then it will move on to projecting strange images. UFOs will appear up in the sky, Zebra crossings will appear to have actual Zebras crossing and irksome gnomes will pop up all over the place being positively irksome.

Finally like all things it will eventually follow the more sinister route. Lord Lucan will be sat on park benches all over town, brick walls will suddenly appear in the central lane of the M25 and eight foot scorpions will be lurking in every Fried Chicken doorway, even in Kentucky.

Who cares that the building society is lending at 0.03% over base rate if the Troll behind it is eating a goat?

You have seen the future here. If you have those glasses of course.

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.191 10 Sep 2018
First published: WordPress 17 Jul 2012
Also published with permission on The British Tech Network Blog on 2 Apr 2013

A Modest First Initiative

My first ever WordPress blog

When you are serious about writing the choice of subject for your first new blog is extremely important. It has to set a style from the outset, it has to have a subject impact to attract readership and should ideally be timeless. So I have spent some time contemplating a suitable subject matter and have decided that I want, no less, than to solve the global financial crisis.

An acknowledged ambitious challenge for a new blog with initial limited readership but rivers can be formed one dig at a time and water will not flow until the first spade is swung.

First a quick economics lesson. The world is in a bit of a fiscal state at the moment. Few understand why but it is generally thought that it is the fault of greedy bankers holding onto their cash and not giving it out to one and all. Due to this selfish action by these pin-striped ogres the economy has stalled, no one has had a pay rise for a couple of years and so nobody goes to the shops to buy any luxury goods. However as we still need to eat and drink and heat our homes the price of some commodities is increasing.

It was all well and good in the fifties. Back then nobody owned anything so bought themselves a fridge, a record player and a motorbike with sidecar.

By the time we entered the allegedly swinging sixties the family decided that they needed a whole kitchen, a stereo system, a television and then upgraded their motorbike for a small car.

The seventies crowd went for exotic holidays on the edge of the mediterranean, enhanced their TV with video players and upgraded their small car to a mid-sized saloon. In brown. Then they bought the house as well.

In the eighties monied, Italian suited men were hailed as heroes as they invented ways to make money fall out of the sky so we all swapped our flats for apartments, videos for disc players and the Rover for a BMW.

By the nineties though we had most things we needed so could only really swap some of the old stuff for new. We spent cash on better computers and DVD players and a second home.

But during the past decade we ran out of ideas for things to want. So just idly spent a few quid on making our TVs flatter and stomachs fatter. We generally lost the will to spend.

Furthermore we became reliant on the rest of the world trying to catch us up but then worried they might use all the ingredients in this planet in doing so. We became green, mean then selfishly obscene by hoarding what we had. The aforementioned bankers played their part and the whole system stuttered to a halt. And no one seems to know what to do.

Except me.

You will have heard of quantative easing, even if you don't know what it really means. In essence it's the process of giving bankers money to get back in the system. In theory they should filter it down to you and I via cheaper loans and business assistance. The reality has been ever inflating banks and They are not giving it out to the right sort.

Now some of you may say "Yes. I agree. Don't give the bankers money. Give it to me. I could well do with that 50 billion to pay off the loan on my Ford Cortina and beer-fuelled credit card." But that would not help. You would only pay off your debts and then sit on a sofa you had formed from all the rest of the cash. You are as likely to spend the wonga as the bankers are to pass it to Joe Small Motor Dealers for a bit of well needed collateral.

No the money needs to go to those that will spend it because they have no choice. Let's quantatively ease the poorest people on earth.

Let's see how sub-Saharan Africa deals with just one of those 50 billion. I guarantee it won't be wasted on opening Hardlyfax accounts. No, providing it misses the warlords and gets to the good folk it will be spent on food and pots to put it in.

And the person who makes and sells this food and those that make the pots will upgrade to a bicycle to enable their new multi-drop delivery services to operate.

And the bicycle sellers will be able to buy new tin roofs, from the tin roofs men who will be selling so many they'll buy fridges in celebration.

And the fridges will be made in Korea and shipped using Japanese built ships whose owners will buy new German cars whilst holidaying in London, meaning several people in several countries will have work to do and be able to feel confident enough to book an exotic holiday. In Africa.

The circle of wealth.

Author: Vince Poynter
Version 5.190 7 Sep 2018
First published: WordPress 16 Jul 2012

March 2011


I have to read things. It's part of my make up, who I am. I am curious and love gathering knowledge. And a great source of detailed information is plastered all over our products and the most enlightening and interesting is the ingredients list on seemingly simple products. I'll give an example just to see if you can guess the product before the end reveal.

The first ingredient listed is always the largest component and in this particular case is Aqua. Now if you were paying attention in double Latin you will know that this comes from the old English word meaning Akker, short for Acker Bilk a clarinetist who became famous for being the only clarinetist anyone could name. The Akker term was used to describe the spittle and dribble emanating from the business end of his instrument. Later this 'Akker' became Aqua during the Latinisation of old English words during the 1950's when certain Oxbridge elements wanted to seem more clever than the general populous. In other words Aqua just means water and no one except Stephen Fry can understand why they just don't say that.

The second most common element is a compound, which is really two elements so by combining have jumped up the list unfairly. This compound is Sodium Chloride. As any chemistry student knows this is actually just salt so why the pretentious ingredient listers bother with fourteen letters and a space when four will do can only lead one to suspect that they are in it up to their necks with the Ink Printing Association and frankly the Government should look into this rather than wasting all that time on the Hutton Enquiry.

Coming in in third place is the second Sodium collaboration, this time with Benzoate. Why Sodium wants a second billing is as strange as the word 'in' wanting a second billing at the head of this paragraph [I bet you five pounds you had to check]. What is even stranger is that Benzoate is a common misspelling of the term Benz 08, the eighth car produced by Mercedes. We all know that Sodium and old cars don't really mix so this ingredient actually just refers to rust. Or as the aforementioned Ink Printers & Affiliates Association would put it Ferrous Oxide.

The next listed ingredient is Polysorbate 20. Clearly the manufacturers of this product had to undergo years of testing just to establish that Polysorbate 20 was clearly better/cheaper/more environmentally friendly [delete as appropriate] than Polysorbate 19 or any other number less or indeed more than this. For the technically minded amongst you you may like to know that Polysorbate 1 is the amount of liquid you can mop up using a single Standard Unit parrot.

Next up is the old familiar Sodium Lauryl Glucose Carboxylate or SLGC for short. Again Sodium has chosen to get in a mix with other products rather than stand out on it's own. In fact if it did it would probably rate above Aqua so one must conclude that Sodium is inherently shy. In this case hiding amongst Lauryl, Glucose and Carboxylate, an unknown comedy trio who's fortunes turned around when Carboxylate left them to join another team. Lauryl and Glucose re-branded themselves Laurel and Hardy and Carbo, as he became known, joined the other Marx Brothers.

The next listed ingredient is Malic Acid. This is obtained from the Hollywood actor Art Malik so is very expensive. It is a well kept industry secret that after his work on 'The Jewel In The Crown' and 'A Passage To India' he was ground down using a large Mortar and Pestle for use in various products and his appearance in True Lies was actually done by Ronnie Corbett on a pair of stilts with some clever post production work and Ronni Ancona's voice-over.

Next up, according to the list is Lauryl Glucoside. But I think this is just a lie because I had a very close look using a quite big magnifying glass and I couldn't see any.

Nearing the end now and we come across Parfum. Now many think this is just a smug way of saying perfume intimating this to be a pleasant thing. Again this fallacy must be redressed and if broken down into it's constituent parts of Parf and Um you will see it's true meaning is a fart.

The next ingredient is the most difficult to explain. Not because it is a complex compound it's just so darned difficult to spell. It's the trips off the tongue, old familiar, we all know it as Methylisothiazolinone. A long word that scientists use when they haven't really got a clue what they found but without it the Ingredients Standards & Ink Printing Affiliates Association Incorporated will not sign off the packaging [Has that Hutton Enquiry finished yet?]

Third from last is Aloe Barbadensis Extract. This is a passage from the Hawaiian novel 'Hello Barber Dentist'. A short story about a young girl who hooks up with a hairdresser who has a secret life as a doctor. I believe the word for doctor and dentist is the same in Hawaiian which might seem odd but not as odd as the six-hundred and fourteen words they have for podiatrist.

The penultimate ingredient is Propylene Glycol. As opposed to Impropylene Glycol. Glycol is a fancy word for antifreeze and in this case is proper lean. In other words weak antifreeze.

The final ingredient of this mysterious product is Tocopherol Acetate and let's face it as it is the final ingredient it hardly features at all so is not really worth considering. In fact given there are ten other more copious compounds one wonders whether the actual product would be substantially altered by it's omission. In fact let's start a campaign here and now to reduce the number of products in our products by leaving out the least included. Except in the case of salt of course which will otherwise just revert to Sodium, which as we have already established wants none of the attention.

So, have you guessed the product yet? I'll give you a reminder of what's in it:- Sodium, Water, Salt [i.e. more Sodium], Rust, Slapstick, essence of Art Malik, a bit of fart, some paragraphs, a spot of weak antifreeze and a teenie bit of something not really needed. Which all makes it much clearer than the arse-wipe list on the actual packet as insisted by the Ink Printers & Bankers Bonus Society Corporation Of America, Honduras & Affiliated Offshore Accounts PLC.

So would you eat this only good for flushing straight down the loo stuff?

I hope not because it's actually a real arse-wipe list. Check out the back of your next packet of bottie wipes and you'll see what I mean.

Well what do you expect me to do whilst sat here waiting? I have to read something.

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.185 30 Aug 18
First Published: Blog within Version 3.0 on 16 Mar 2011
If you want to hear me read this blog post to you I adapted it for my sixteenth blog post, Pod 16 - Ingreedyents, posted in iTunes and on my WordPress site dated 19 Nov 2014

January 2010


Had a late lunch with the wife's family to celebrate my father-in-law's birthday.

We made our now seemingly monotonously regular trip to The Otter at Otterborne.

Personally I always see a typically dingily lit Public House with grimy floor and facilities and a smattering of unwelcoming angry looking bar locals. However, the in-laws only see the back restaurant and seem to like the food.

Here the Otter does well and surprisingly serves a quite exotic menu.

Often I'll order the Ostrich Steak but like so many other things today this was off the menu.

The waitress offered kangaroo, which I jumped at.

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.162 30 Jul 2018
Written as an entry in MyDiary 18 Jan 2010
First Published: Version 3.0 Mar 2010

December 2009

Christmas Smut

A pretty red brick hand-built classic fireplace with electric fire and substantial dark wood mantlepiece, set in a lounge with thick maroon carpet.  The fireplace is flanked by a flat screen TV and sub-woofer and has three pink and white mantle pots and matching carriage clock
Why do we think industrial brickwork indoors is a good idea?

I live in suburbia.

Not a town called suburbia but a good facsimile of it.

It is a mid-eighties detached property built using the standard UK model with many featuring that most essential of British faux Victoriana features - The fireplace.

This ancient Dickensian accessory is thankfully rarely used.

Unfortunately, being Christmas, many fools succumb to the lure of a smoky hellhole and fire up their soot inducing possession.

As a result my clean white windowsills are now peppered with smut.

And frankly the only thing I like peppered that way is my late night TV.

I'm definitely going to move this year.

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.160 25 Jul 2018
Written as an entry in MyDiary 26 Dec 2009
First Published: Version 3.0 Mar 2010
The photograph shows the author's fireplace, taken around 2005 and was first added in Version 3.0 Mar 2010

November 2009

An Old Fashioned Diary

As if I haven't got enough places to write things down - my blog, Facebook, Twitter. I couldn't resist the idea of having a personal diary again so have downloaded the MyDiary App onto my iPhone.

I remember my last real journal was an A4 white bound affair with stupidly narrow lines. I wish I could read it now.

Today is Armistice Day. It is also my sister's birthday. Mum and Dad nearly called her Poppy because of this but went with Dawn instead. Something about being born early in the day I understand. If all parents were like mine a quarter of all girls would be called Dawn.

The siren rang out at the Warminster site I was working at today at 11am to mark the two minute silence. I stood and thought about all the soldiers dying and being injured in Afghanistan. This solemn moment was only disturbed by me sneezing half way through.

Finally I started trading on iTrade today, another App on my iPhone. This little piece of fun allows a virtual trade using real stock values. I decided to reduce the confusion so decided to keep to stocks starting with the letter V.  Egoistic or what?

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.154 17 Jul 2018
Written as an entry in MyDiary 11 Nov 2009
First Published: Version 3.0 Mar 2010

July 2009

Not Over The Moon

An American astronaut stands in his white spacesuit and large glass fronted helmet on a rocky moon surface next to the foot of his lunar landing module
An astronaut stands on the lunar surface near to the Lunar Module Eagle foot

Today marks the fortieth anniversary of the first moon landing by a man in a white suit with a big pack on his back and it seems the world has gone mega-moon nostalgic.

The airwaves are full of grainy imagery and everyone is so pleased with themselves you can hardly hear the naysayers claiming the rocks in the picture are made of Hollywood papier-mâché now stored in Area 51.

This led me to excitedly mention to my misses that the nine 1969 Kodak Memorial Colour Slides we have diligently stored in the cupboard might well meet a good premium on eBay.

And her to disappointedly mention that she threw them out a month ago.

A month ago I acquired a natty slide converter and spent a few moments [read hours] transferring all my old colour slides to a more manageable electronic format.

With this I can now see them more regularly and indeed have added some to this very website.

I also knew that most were gradually deteriorating, over time loosing their natural crisp brilliance and turning darker by the year.

I realised that after the transfer there was little point keeping the cumbersome little blighters and that Mrs Clear-It-Up was going to put them in the big grey bin.

However I presumed she might keep the singular little box of collectable, commemorative slides.

Why do I make these basic errors of assumption?

So the NASA eBay collectors of the world were denied the opportunity to get a contemporary set of 60’s memorabilia and I was denied my probable forty quid anniversary present.

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.152 14 Jul 2018
First Published: Version 2.04 20 Jul 2009
The photograph is a digital transfer from a Kodak Slide original [ask your dad] and is of one of the Apollo 11 astronauts from the 1969 manned lunar spaceflight mission. The photo was not taken by the author. If it was I would be a lot more famous. And older, as I was about six at the time. Credit belongs to NASA. Added in Version m5.152 14 Jul 2018

November 2008

The Smelliest Car

I read in Advanced Driving magazine about a new car from the French battery company Bolloré.

An electrically propelled vehicle to be called the B0. That is the ‘B-zero’.

I somehow doubted that it will be called that.

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.150 11 Jul 2018
First Published: Version 2.04 19 Nov 2008
The first prototype was called La Blue Car. It became the La Pininfarina B0 [zero] in 2008 with model releases in 2013 and then with Renault in 2015. Since then it appears to have passed in the wind. Like the Mercedes-Beans
Advanced Driving magazine was published by the Institute of Advanced Motorists [IAM], an advanced driving charity with a purpose to improve driving standards, now called IAM RoadSmart

May 2007

No Choice

A colleague of mine at work today, when questioned about her smoking habit, replied that "It is my choice."

I really think that she, along with anyone else who peddles this pathetic line, is plainly wrong.

If true choice were being exercised, not a variant based on pier pressure, obvious and subliminal advertising along with nicotine addiction, then no sane person could choose to partake in an activity that shortens life, makes them stink, discourages friendship, causes or accelerates numerous painful diseases, stifles fitness, wastes time as well as money, dulls their senses, destroys their brain cells and makes them prematurely age.

Still, as she said, it's her choice.

Is it?

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.148 9 Jul 2018
First Published: Version 2.04 17 May 2007

The Next Big Thing?

Sun rays burst into an aquarium containing a medium sized shark and a large schoal of fish
It's not just the author that likes the taste of a bit of Sashimi

The really big questions interest me the most.

Like, why are we here? Or, where did we come from?

Or, why I am still hungry after eating a hugely expensive sashimi meal?

And it seems that one of the biggies is about to be discovered.

Around the end of November this year, at CERN, The Large Hadron Collider, an enormous machine that can accelerate weenie little particles at an astonishing speed through an 27km underground oval tube in order to hit each other is due to attempt to create the conditions at our universe's big bang moment. All so geeky professors wearing white coats and holding clipboards can 'tut' knowingly and say "I thought so" in an annoyingly cocky manner.

Either that or the big bang will occur again and we'll all be instantly sucked into an energy field smaller than my blog entries for the first three months of the year.

Personally I wonder whether this answers two of the really big questions.

Why there are no other developed organisms like us in the massive universe? And secondly why there are so many black holes out there?

Are these questions linked? Is it that when species reach a mature enough state to ponder the universe, then scientifically test it, they can't help but twitch the nose of Armageddon.

Looks like I could afford that delicious sashimi after all.

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.146 5 Jul 2018
First Published: Version 2.04 4 May 2007
CERN can be found at
When the test was successfully completed we didn't all disappear. Just thought I'd let you know
The image is of a scene in the Pier 39 Aquarium in San Francisco, taken by the author, in May 2016 and was added in Version m5.146 5 Jul 2018

Well Spun Lie

A close up the author, facing left, wearing a white shirt and clutching a red cricket ball
The author wondering why cricket is played in white, when on a grass pitch using a bright red ball

I couldn't give a flying off-spin for cricket.

I was forced to endure it as a school child and my only contribution was to suggest they use a lighter ball, such as was used in tennis. I didn't see the point then and don't much care for it now.

All this would make you wonder why I became engrossed in the events of the recent world tournament.

It had nothing to do with the on pitch shenanigans but the more interesting, albeit tragic, story of the murderous death of the Australian born Pakistani coach, Bob Woolmer.

As has become fashionable in such circumstances the question was soon posed as to what to do to honour the respected coach.

After much [?] consultation the Pakistani team decided to play on. Noting, no doubt, that Bob Woolmer was a fan as well as cricket enthusiast so would have liked to see the game continue. So Pakistan dutifully played on, a match which they lost incidentally.

What troubles me is this notion spilled out regularly on these occasions that a dead person would appreciate the symbolic agreement of a professional sports team to carry on in their honour.

I know nothing of Bob Woolmer but would have been much more impressed by his reputation if Pakistan had called the match off and retired from the tournament.

I'd be even more impressed if they had cancelled the actual tournament.

Or postponed all cricket altogether for five years.

So remember, if you hear of my untimely demise, don't think I would want you all to just carry on regardless as if nothing had happened. I'm stating right now, for the record, that I want nothing less than true despair.

Throwing yourself on a six-foot spike would seem the right thing to do.

Or, at the very least, cancel cricket.

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.145 4 Jul 2018
First Published: Version 2.04 2 May 2007
The image is of the author clutching a cricket ball during a stage performance of A Cricket Match, one part of Alan Ayckbourn's play Intimate Exchanges

December 2006

Back For Good

Yes, much like Take That I have been neglecting my audience for too long and have decided on a comeback.

As usual the grind of daily living has conspired to rob you of my wordly goodness for a time but now I'm back on the case once more. I have even coincided this with an exciting new version for my site.

I have been partly spurred on by the discovery of a similar site to mine. The site author has chosen to include ideas and rants and has even parodied the Yanks by adding simple 'translations' for them, just like I do.

John Rostron's site is more surreal and colourful and even has photos and is very funny so I'm going to have to get my act together.

It did make me wonder if there are others like ours. And how they could be classified.

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.144 3 Jul 2018
First Published: Version 2.04 19 Dec 2006
The exciting new version mentioned in the article was version 2.04
Unfortunately no longer appears to be on the web

First Feedback

Although not technically a blog article, this started as a separate page called Points of View. Now similar such comments are directly added to specific pages.

Word Has Got Out

Comments have literally been flooding in at an estimated rate of one comment for every ten readers of this site. If only there were more readers there would be more comments. And I would be left with an inbox as sore as a teenage mum with quinns.

Word Has Come Back In

The first comment I ever received was a colleage reading my site over my shoulder. So, despite the fact that he was so disinterested that he couldn't actually be bothered to type in the URL he will be honoured here. He was reading one or two of the pages and, quite impolitely I thought, suggested that it was rather opinionated. Guess which page? My opinions one!

Next comment came from abroad. Niek, the lucky Dutchman, searching for data on a Kwacker GPz quizzed Google and happened on the site. Thanks Google. Intrigued he delved deeper and enjoyed a full-on whole site experience. His message started off rather disparagingly suggesting that to land on my site was an unlikely scenario, given the wideness of the centre w in the www. Then, after cheekily suggesting that I manipulated the Queen's English for my own personal use accidently dropped in a spot of praise. But this was naturally short lived as he went on to correct an anomoly in the page he first set eyes on. You'll have to read my GPz750R page to see his comments.

Superbly Written

Then, right out of the blue and almost seamlessly - well one month later - I got another e-comment. This time from another colleage at work. You see it does pay to have vinceunlimited on my desktop screensaver. Simon, as I shall call him, for that is his name, promised to take a peek and reported that this action was a satisfactory one. He noted an omission from my Tarmac page then went on to describe my Dictaphone sketch as 'Superbly written', which for a writer can only be described as superb.


Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.141 28 Jun 2018
First Published [as]: Version 2.04 in Dec 2006

July 2006

Monkey Business

Lynda in Gibraltar with a Barbary Ape tugging at her hair
A small monkey checking for signs of grey hair on a dominant female

It is fairly common knowledge that Kingpins in gorilla clans are called a Silverback.

These large males were, to my knowledge, silver in colour because of their age, because just like humans they go grey. However, a fact I discovered recently was that there can only be one Silverback in each gorilla clan.

If a new gorilla asserted itself on the group and successfully challenged the dominant male for the role then the newly demoted Silverback will revert back to being a black-back - He would loose the silver.

I discussed this with the misses and we had wondered why.

This was a few weeks ago I had accepted that I couldn't work out why and how this occurred. However it now appears that my other half had been mulling over this for some time.

Today she announced with great pride, as if discovering the cure for cancer, that this was in fact due to the gorilla realising it's dominance which promoted change. A physiological hormonal reaction.

If I am being honest I hadn't realised this in such clarity but I had given up considering the whys and wherefores because I realised that I wouldn't be able to answer the reasons on a chemical scale.

But her clarity did make me think that if gorillas can hormonally change their hair colour from silver to black then we as humans, being 99.9% similar on a biological level should be able to do the same. Or at least we should be able to artificially produce and use the same hormone.

Have we in our grasp the cure for age hair greying?

All we need to do is collect a hair from a Silverback and from a newly demoted ex-Silverback and make a DNA test for the difference.

All this supposes we can find someone brave enough to pluck a single hair off the back of (1) A dominant male gorilla who thinks he is the Lord of all beings and (2) A newly demoted gorilla who a few days ago thought he was the Lord of all beings and is now one very miffed monkey.

I deigned to suggest that I wouldn't be keen to carry out this next stage of discovery and got accused of being a complete lightweight.

Sometimes it really is hard being a superhero. The slightest crack in the armour and there are accusations of failure. I failed to be fully heroic over quite an insignificant matter and was accused of being a big girl's blouse.

My reaction? Typical Vince.

I likened the thought of being a blouse on a large girl as a positive thing.

But now she's not talking to me.

And I have to be careful, I've noticed she's going grey!

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.136 19 Jun 2018
First Published: Version 2.03 7 Jul 2006
The photo is of the author's wife, Lynda, interacting with a native, wild Barbary Ape in Gibraltar, in Oct 2005

Bloody Foreigners

I would like to blame an exciting World Cup competition for not updating my blog for a while.

Unfortunately no one team seems to have really produced anything remotely like a beautiful game which makes England's quarter-final exit against Portugal even more frustrating.

As ever with an England defeat those responsible are being lined up for critical analysis and Portugal's Christiano Ronaldo seems to be taking centre stage in the blame arena.

The vitriol being dished out by email [and presumably other media if I could be bothered to read it] is diminishing my view that he was the best player on the pitch that day.

He had no support from his lack-lustre colleagues but performed his part well, even successfully antagonising England's most short tempered player.

It may be an ugly part of the beautiful game but viewed as a world-wide sport only Englishmen seem to want to play with honour.

Is it time to join them?

I've decided to take the initiative so next time I pass my client in the office I'm going to throw myself to the floor and yell 'Compensation!'.

Today a colleague of mine complained about a noisy neighbour.

This individual has apparently been creating havoc in her neighbourhood by driving fast with loud music playing.

As if this wasn't enough this Mediterranean individual has a provocative 'Italian Stallion' bumper sticker.

I suggested she get a black marker and overwrite 'Tony the Pony'.

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.135 15 Jun 2018
First Published: Version 2.03 6 Jul 2006

June 2006

According To Me

My first mention of autonomous driving and the insurance implications...

A close up photograph of toy green classic mini in a rather tatty state with red overpainted opening doors, bonnet and roof with a blue circle logo on the door
The result of an accident between a car and a small child

I have just read about a development of a technology from one major car manufacturer that encompasses radar, cruise control and the ability to follow white line markings whilst steering to effectively allow the car to drive itself.

All these technologies are already produced but this car combines them all.

The car in question is a Honda Accord - the pensioners of Britain must be wetting themselves with glee.

All this relies on effective road marking of course but nobody has yet made that quantum leap into the future to envisage who might have to take responsibility should it all go pear-shaped.

Can we look forward to the accident case where the driver claims that he was not actually controlling the car, whereas the manufacturer will be pointing to some small print in their instructions whilst the insurance company attempts to blame the road maintenance companies?

All of which means the poor motorist that was crashed into will be a pensioner himself before he gets compensation.

All of which he'll spend on a new Accord.

And the circle will continue ad infinitum…

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.125 1 Jun 2018
First Published: Version 2.03 14 Jun 2006

Four From Two

Have just completed some tidying up work on the latest version of my website so you should now be seeing this online.

You will note that it is still in the old version 2 format.

By now I had hoped that I could find enough time to create version 3, which will be the first to feature actual images.

As for four? Three dimension? Smellivision? Touchscreen? Who knows what I have planned?

I certainly don't!

Note the date, one day before the start of the 2006 World Cup [Note to Americans - this is a ball sport that all the world participates in].

Given the hype that has been bandied about the tournament I feel my website may be lost if I don't include the words football and Rooney. Just as well they kicked in just then.

Mind you your average footy pundit, eager to find out the latest score might well be disappointed if he were searching for striker information and his search engine header came up with this site, bypassing more obvious places.

My site is more off the wall than offside.

However, the penalty for missing the official England site will be new fans of vinceunlimited, which is a goal I have set myself.

Mind you if too many fans pitch on my site and it crashes it will be an own goal so the referee is out on that one.

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.124 31 May 2018
First Published: Version 2.03 8 Jun 2006

May 2006

Genius Rights

Recently the press has been wondering if Sir Paul McCartney ought to retain the major share of his fortune if his spilt with Lady McCartney [Heather Mills McCartney] results in an acrimonious divorce settlement.

The argument has been made that as Sir Paul is so obvious a genius in his given profession he should have the greater share of their accumulated wealth.

Personally, although so obviously in the genius category myself I find this argument uncomfortable.

I could sympathise with the view that his share was greater than hers when they met so future distribution of wealth should reflect this.

I might even be persuaded that his assets were more instrumental in increasing their wealth during their time together so this should be considered.

But to consider only on a subjective measurement of genius is fundamentally wrong.

After all, a successful businessman could equally argue that his money making talent is measurable in geniusness.

And what of Lady M?

Surely marrying a rich Beatle could be classed as an act of pure genius.

My own brand of genius emerged again today.

I have been tasked with assembling some notes about my client's current business practices. As part of this I have to jot down some ideas for efficiency improvements, a task that an idea's man like me can relish.

However, to me, this raises interesting questions about intellectual property ownership.

Normally IP will reside with the company, provided such IP is undertaken by the company but my circumstances are slightly different.

As a self-employed man, working through a third party my role is fairly rigidly defined.

I am certainly not directly contracted to the company I am working in and have not been employed with my novel abilities in mind. I am just contracted to do a standard day to day job efficiently.

So if I bring in my own brand of innovation the company I am working for will benefit unduly. And you can be sure there is no process to reward such special talent. I can't even complete the company staff suggestion form and claim my pony because as a contractor I am ineligible.

But if I don't exercise my full potential I will be cheating the world of my input. This is why I'll go only so far but not all out.

Again, my natural talents defused and demeaned.

So to my idea. Well after all that it doesn't seem so great. They can have it.

In many ways you have just had the best bit.

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.123 30 May 2018
First Published: Version 2.03 25 May 2006
In the end Sir Paul McCartney's divorce settlement ended in 2008 with a payout of £24.3m [c.$50m] plus £35k annual childcare costs to Heather Mills [Lady McCartney], his former wife. She had claimed £125m and Sir Paul wanted to settle at £15.8m. I have no idea whether genius was considered. For either party

April 2006

Not Stirred

Thought for the day.

If the contents of a can instruct 'Shake well before use' does this mean shake thoroughly or does it mean a long time before using?

I worry about these things.

Just in case I'm going home to agitate all of my canisters - in case I might need them next week.

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.122 29 May 2018
First Published: Version 2.02 7 Apr 2006

March 2006

Not So Free

A close up photograph of a black and white rabbit
This is what a proper happy bunny should look like

Not a happy bunny today.

I have been thinking about an email that my illustrious ISP sent me last week.

From now on there is to be a 'small change' in the way that the account is charged.

Online time will now attract a nominal one pence or so per minute.

This may be relatively small beer but it is a huge principle.

Rising prices by one pee a minute is marginal but introducing a new charge from a previously free service is a fundamental sea-change.

I am powerless to stop it so will now be looking for an alternative. Any ideas?

Other than suggesting a small beer must be a good thing for an unhappy bunny.

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.134 14 Jun 2018
First Published: Version 2.02 29 Mar 2006
Do you remember when it was common to pay for online time by the minute? I was particularly miffed because the free to use ISP service that I was using at the time was branded as Freeserve and I thought that per minute charging was not exactly as 'labelled on the tin'. In fact Freeserve were bought by Wanadoo in 2000 and then by Orange in 2006. I never knew this at the time and was still using 'Freeserve' and my Freeserve email at the time of posting. I soon noticed the change to Wanadoo and Orange, as noted in my formal website version 1.02 in Jun 2006. The future it seemed was indeed, as the advertising stated, Orange

No Flying Aircraft

A photograph of the back of my wife in a red tee-shirt and beige cap stood on a balcony just as a nine plane Red Arrows jet formation flies past, trailing their blue, white and red smoke
Lynda, dreaming of a fast jet ride in a Red Arrows display

Today, on one of my local radio stations [we seem to have so many nowadays] someone won a popular competition to spend a day with the RAF Red Arrows.

Ideally this would have been a chance for me to trounce the opposition with my witty entry and win this prize for my beloved.

She has always hankered after a high-octane ride with a naval airman but taking a seat with the Reds would tick most of her boxes.

However, presumably due to the elderly demographic audience of this particular station, the winner will never get to travel in an actual jet. Instead the frustrating day would include attending a pre-flight briefing and chatting idly to the technicians.

How infuriating would that be? So close yet no banana.

It would be like winning the supermarket dash and finding all the shelves empty, or playing football at Anfield after the crowd has left, or visiting a lap dancing club and leaving before the bits are bared.


Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.120 25 May 2018
First Published: Version 2.02 16 Mar 2006
The photograph shows the arrival of a nine-plane Red Arrows display over Bournemouth in August 2009. I took the picture timed to show the exact time of arrival as my wife waited patiently for the start of the display

Bad Blog

Been having trouble getting back into the blogging groove due to allowing the work/play balance to become decidedly unstable over the last few months, which explains the gap between entries becoming a colossus.

It didn't help that I constructed an entry a couple of days ago then accidentally wiped it off my thumb drive.

But I am still here and raring to go. Only I've got a sudden bout of writer's block.

Or to put it in a less authoritarian way, can't be arsed.

Which all makes this entry the most anticlimactic blog in the whole of web history.

Which, if you think about it, is actually quite interesting.

Were it to be true.

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.119 24 May 2018
First Published: Version 2.02 15 Mar 2006

December 2005

Bit Of A Gap

Hooray. I'm back.

It seems that I left you all alone for a while there, in fact nearly three months. At this rate I'll never make blogger of the year.

The reason for the absence has been, as it always is, work related. I was assigned a fresh role that allowed me to work locally. The lack of three or more hours a day commuting on a train meant that I never seemed to find time to update my site.

And there was you thinking that version 3.0 was about to be launched on an unsuspecting public. Mind you, if you thought that the site was about to be launched then the public was not at all unsuspecting and better described as anticipatory.

But I diversify, as ever.

The break from writing my site hasn't subdued my thoughts on what needs adding and updating and I'm always thinking about new ideas and concepts. The only trouble is that by not getting them in print when I think about them can mean that others stumble on the idea.

For example I have been giving some thought recently to the idea that the baby boomer generation, who seem to run the world, may not accept death and we may all soon benefit from everlasting life.

After all this is the generation that invented youth culture, foreign holidaying for the masses, major home ownership, the dot com age, fame, celebrity, greed, modern fitness and leisure pursuits and now cosmetic surgery to keep their youth.

They are suppressing real youth by dissolving upcoming celebrity and sexualising and thus diminishing the young, both male and female.

They hold power positions, wealth, fame, patents and property.

They make the laws to suit themselves, hence the freedom of the eighties is being replaced with the ASBO and spy camera culture of the current decade to protect them as they get older.

In short they believe the world is theirs and don't want to pass it on, even to their own children.

Mark my word, the next ten years will see frantic developments in anti ageing treatments and not just skin care products. Plus huge rises in pensions including suggesting the young retire much later than they had to.

Unfortunately some of this content was also considered by a journalist writing in a real paper recently. In Bryan Appleyard's article in The Sunday Times on 27 November 2005 he discussed most of these points. What a swizzle.

Down, if not out.

Still, there's no point in dwelling on what ifs when there are a host of new ideas bubbling in the cauldron. You never know, I might get some of them down in pixels by Christmas.

Christmas 2006 that is. Have a festive one, Vince

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.118 23 May 2018
First Published: Version 2.02 22 Dec 2005

September 2005

Well Executed

A screenshot, with lower relection effect, of the vinceunlimited website versions page, version 2.02
In those days all websites looked like this. A screenshot of my website, version 2.02

Well the 2.02 version of the site was launched with the usual lack of fanfare and ticker tape.

Compiling a site like this is a thankless task.

However, I'm in it for the long run and recognise that all this early effort will, one day, be recognised and appreciated in the way that it has been designed.

First up I had to reconfigure this blog section so that there were useful links to my past blog sections.

Now I'm all properly set to mesmerise you with my blogging thoughts. This blogging lark* will prove to be useful to my regular readers as it may be some time before the next proper update is compiled.

There are three reasons for this.

Firstly I am being reassigned at work [no, not gender-wise] and need to settle into my new role in a professional manner, secondly I always plan to update bi-monthly to give myself a reasonable target and finally, because I want my next update to raise the game significantly. More on this later if it comes to pass.

One reason for my reassignment is the imminent conclusion of a current task that I have been working on for a client.

The last job to be done is create an Executive Summary compiling all the raw data that I have produced over the last few months.

Whilst doing this I was moved to consider why they are called Executive Summaries. Surely an Executive, having achieved such a high rank, must be able to absorb facts and data in a manner better than others.

Therefore the summation should be entitled Idiot Summary. I feel the fact that it isn't proves the real ability of Executives.

Finally, I read in the papers today that a firm has developed a tracksuit that automatically monitors performance and provides instructions to the wearer about training regimes and performance.

This reminded me that my intelligent shoes idea is not so far fetched.

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.117 22 May 2018
First Published: Version 2.02 29 Sep 2005
The photograph shows a screen grab from the vinceunlimited website, version 2.02. It was first added to the website in Version 3 on 29 Mar 2010
*Is that related to other Larks I wonder?

Food For Thought

Vince Poynter sat, tucking in to a Pot Noodle, with a female friend in the background
Yummy, yummy, yummy. This is going to [temporarily] fill my tummy

I purchased a Pot Noodle from Tesco today.

This is not a regular thing now but I used to have one or two when they were first introduced.

This quite unremarkable fact would have gone unreported, even in my detailed blog, other than the fact behind me in the queue was a chef. I knew this fact from his dirty, white, wrap-around top and silly check trousers.

He saw my Pot Noodle and I could see his mind visibly sighing.

He was buying a pile of fresh ingredients and I'm sure was about to produce a masterclass in scrumptious eating.

My sad fast food option was clearly letting the side down.

However, I did think that if this chef was clever enough to have thought up the concept of my humble snack he wouldn't be in Tesco now looking down his nose.

It tasted delicious.

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.107 26 Apr 2018
First Published: Version 2.02 21 Sep 2005
The photograph shows the author tucking into a Pot Noodle and was taken around 1985. It was added to the website in Version m5.107 26 Apr 2018

Remaining Unlimited

Following a close friend's change of job recently and his necessary formation of a limited company to serve the position I resurrected thoughts about my own position.

Professionally I work as a sole trader (self-employed) but could form a company to trade through just as many of my work colleagues do. However a call to my accountant friend dispelled any myths about saving tax and threw doubt about the promises of limited liability.

This all meant that the novel company name I created yesterday was now redundant. Shame. It was surprisingly difficult thinking up a relevant, short and memorable name that was not previously registered in Companies House and could be purchased as a .com or web address.

But I did manage it.

Well, did you expect otherwise?

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.106 25 Apr 2018
First Published: Version 2.02 20 Sep 2005

Disaster Into Opportunity

Monday morning and the day is already living up to it's reputation.

I travel through about eight sets of traffic lights in my short bicycle journey into the city and at least twelve of them were on red.

When I got to the office the lift was once more out of action and upon starting my computer I find the office network is down so I cannot get on with finishing the important task I started for my client, even though I have now just two weeks left to do the estimated twenty-days work.

So it seems I have just found time to get my September 2005 version of the site finalised. It is important that this is done during the next fortnight as I am moving to a new assignment in October and do not know what facilities I will have to hand.

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.105 24 Apr 2018
First Published: Version 2.02 19 Sep 2005

Work Musing

Have to attend a work related interview today and it has made me think again about my career.

I work in the construction industry, not through choice but fate. I despise everything about it but year on year the fiscal reward has been growing.

I dislike the way that it limits creativity, is a male dominated, brutish, dirty environment and now only concerns itself with money.

Service and pride have become lost concepts and the industry is full of parasitic consultants. I should know, I work as one!

I work mainly through one agency and they pitch my skills to suit the job - I have become a specialist in nothing more than fitting into any role they ask.

Whilst this provides interesting variations in an otherwise tedious job it does prevent me from climbing up away from my present level into further management. A role I would be much more suited for, mainly because that is where all the hyperbole I have learnt on the way would be of most use.

The flooding of New Orleans is dominating world news at present.

Personally I have never been there and had no wish to. The place is primarily the home of Jazz music which has always been overhyped nonsense and reminds me of tunes that a Country and Western band might rehearse with before they actually hit on the melody.

Awful that the situation is that the poor townsfolk find themselves in I couldn't help doing what the English tend to do in these situations, cracking a joke or two.

I suggested that, as always in these situations, the entertainment industry should show their support by staging a fundraising concert or two. I suggested a recital of Handel's Water Music, a performance of Riverdance and a staging of the Merchant of Venice. Don McLean could adapt his American Pie song to 'Drove my Chevy to the Levee and the carburettor flooded...' and there could be special showings of Kevin Costner's epic Waterworld.

Does all this frivolity in times of international horror make me a bad man?

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.104 23 Apr 2018
First Published: Version 2.02 8 Sep 2005

Launch Preparation

It's now September and in line with thoughts that my site should be updated and added to every couple of months I'm thinking about uploading the next batch of pages.

My output is not prolific as I have to balance the work/pleasure/website proportioning sensibly. I sometimes work on the site during my daily return commute (I sleep on the way in!) but this time is often hi-jacked by a game of Spider Solitaire - it helps me unwind.

I'm ready to launch version 2.02 (this blog was launched in this version) and am thinking about the next update. The next version may be the first to contain images, although as the whole site is hand coded in HTML I need to establish how to control image size, quality, positioning and word wrapping first. I could use a proprietary application but that would be cheating.

Another thing I need to do is get the site advertised. Already I have registered the site's credentials with Google and Yahoo but searches for 'vinceunlimited' are producing unreliable results. Google manages to find my Opinions page and as a secondary thing my Versions page but falls short of listing the actual homepage. Perhaps my Opinions page is where readers start?

Yahoo searches actually yield diddly-squat. I cannot understand why a search engine cannot find a name that is actually part of the domain URL.

I do know that search engines use as one factor the number of external links but my site is too eclectic to be linked from one set of other sources. I'll have to start requesting links for specific pages from some sites. So, if you run a site, like my content and can think of where to link your site please don't hesitate to add that link. Let me know about it and I'll return the compliment.

Meanwhile I better get back to devising content. Or Solitaire.

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.103 20 Apr 2018
First Published: Version 2.02 6 Sep 2005
h2g2 can be found at

August 2005

Capitalist Dilemma

A photo of a very white bathroom showing the close-coupled WC, part of the pedestal mpunted basin on the left and the bath on the right
A picture of the offending item [The WC and cistern, not the leak]

Had a call from our last tenants about the cost of their water bill. Apparently the reading for the most recent five months was nearly double that of the previous six.

I might have blamed their increase in numbers due to the child production line that they have started, perhaps thinking that the toddler who scratched our window cill also spuriously ran the bath from time to time. From the state of the grease in the kitchen it is clear that they weren't squandering water on cleaning so the problem appeared to stem from the leaky WC cistern.

They reported this a few months ago and I thought that my temporary repair had solved the crisis. I had purchased a new cistern innards and was waiting for the call to say that it was still leaking but the call never came.

However water was running when we took possession. I deduce that this leak was in part responsible for the higher bill.

So, quandary time.

Technically the tenants are responsible for not informing us that the leak had reappeared. However, as Landlord, it appeared that I failed to stem the leak the first time so feel partly responsible.

On moral grounds Lynda and I decided to pay a sum toward the bill.

So, would this act of generosity to the less well-off bode well in Landlord of the Year competitions or does our lack of capitalist leanings disqualify us completely?

At least we'll sleep at night. Unlike the tenants with their young family.

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.102 19 Apr 2018
First Published: Version 2.02 30 Aug 2005
The accompanying photograph shows the actual WC and cistern installed at the author's apartment let, taken in Feb 2004 and first added to the website in Version 3 in Mar 2010

Bank Holiday

This blog is rapidly turning into a diary. I didn't envisage listing virtually everything that I do but editing the fun is difficult when there has been so much of it.

The main thrust of the Holiday weekend was spent working. The misses and I own an apartment that we rent out and this weekend was spent between tenants. As we market the one-bedroomed flat as 'prestige' we had to return it to that state in readiness for our next occupier. This meant getting all the grease out and some artwork in.

We had a break on Sunday and visited a local motor event where my niece was performing in a Junior motorcycle display team. As is usual with these things I got involved. Insofar as I sat in my sister's car when it was being jumped by a lad on his Kawasaki. The view out of the rear window was impressive, being sat in the last car in the row. I figured that if I had captured the moment on a digital camera it could have featured in the BBC's picture of the day. The experience also made me think about my autobiography structure because of the innumerable things that I get involved in. [You will have to visit the Autobiography section] to discover more.

The cricket that I mentioned earlier is picking up pace. England took a second win in the Ashes series to lead the Aussies by one with one to go. Suddenly everyone is a fan and I too was bowled over when watching the conclusion on Sunday evening but I doubt this is happening in Australia.

Finally had another browse at h2g2 and found many gaps that I could fill. Am considering registering as a contributor. Why is it I always think this way?

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.101 18 Apr 2018
First Published: Version 2.02 29 Aug 2005
h2g2 can be found at

Maintaining The Good Start

Although I never intended entries to be added daily the initial momentum carries me into the second entry under full steam.

However, I am already thinking that adding a [heading] next to the date may be an error. Often one of the most edited parts of my new pages whilst in preparation are the quick-fire headings. They have to be snappy and relevant whilst offering a subtle hint at the humour within the page. Not easy in a word or three.

It is a working day again but I grabbed a quick browse on the Internet within the BBC site (again) which led me to their h2g2 page. This is a growing collection of information that realises the ideas of it's founder, Douglas Adams, who envisaged such an information source in his novel 'The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy'. I'll no doubt return again to this ocean of knowledge in due course but today had a quick surf in the philosophy section where I discovered many fascinating gems.

One was a page answering the familiar conundrum about the chicken and egg (as I had already deduced it was the egg). This itself was not educational but a link to an alternative answer by Alice Kaswell amused me. In it she determined the result by posting both a chicken and egg to herself. You have to click the link [below] to read the amusing story.

Another article within the philosophy section briefly described transhumanism, which is the convergence of humans and technology to give us more than our three score and ten. Whilst reading this I had to suppress an urge to add a comment in a similar vein about an idea I have been working on. I'm often suppressing urges like this. It's been my nature since very young. Question and answer sessions following lectures normally see me asking probing questions.

In simple terms my particular idea envisages a future time when due to progress humans can live forever but as their reproduction would soon swamp the world a choice would have to be made between longevity and procreation. Most parents claim they would sacrifice themselves over to protect their offspring but if it came to it would they? And if they were given a choice of kids or long life what would they choose? I think this could make a fascinating subject of a film so didn't post it on the site.

It just goes to prove that when I spend time reading and regurgitating the thoughts of others I am not preparing my own. Just like the writing of this blog prevents me from developing fresh new pages on my site. So a genuine philosophical question arises, the sort that becomes harder to answer the more it is considered.

Is this website better without this blog?

Of course there are many other side issues developing here.

I'm reminded that yesterday I came to the conclusion that virtually no one has an original idea and even the most original thinkers and raconteurs are merely restating in their own manner all things that they have previously absorbed. Or at least that's what I do!

Each person has a stack of knowledge that is in part passed on to a variety of others.

A few months ago I thought I might try to record all I know in some sort of database for no other reason than my ego thinks it would be useful to others. I was going to add it as a sub-section of this site, entitled 'The Knowledge'.

I procrastinated as it is a major undertaking that may take some time to develop into a useful database and the sapling versions would be hollow. Further it would, by its nature, lack humour, the underpinnings of this site, so it is still on the back burner. Barely alight to be honest and now almost extinguished by the discovery of Mr. Adams' BBC offspring.

My version had one feature not on the BBC site which is that I envisaged all my facts to be graded.

I figured that each subject should have three categories. Firstly, the basic explanation, almost a precise brief dictionary expression. In the second category there would be a few facts and interesting related asides, the sort of fact that would impress at a dinner party without appearing to be an anorak. Then finally the third level would be the full anorakal description.

So I have a choice. Develop my original idea - this will take literally years and may be superseded long before it matures. Secondly I could invite the formal BBC site to take on my grading idea. And thirdly just get on with my work again.

I'll take three.

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.100 17 Apr 2018
First Published: Version 2.02 26 Aug 2005
The BBC no longer maintains the h2g2 link. It is still live and can be found at
Wikipedia was launched in Jan 2001 and had about half a million entries by the time my article was posted from around 750 contributors. The lack of my mentioning this source leads me to believe I wasn't fully aware of this information source at the time of original posting
The Alice Kaswell link is
I have not finished with my idea about human longevity and am currently working on a book called 'The Southampton Conundrum' which explores some ideas in this field.

Blog Off

Vince Poynter sat in a old aircraft trainer cockpit
Finally the blog is launched on an unsuspecting airfield somewhere overground

So here we go. I've mused, considered and procrastinated enough it's time to launch my blog.

Nowadays it seems everyone is at it. Well at least those with a website. According to a recent BBC web page there are over 14 million blogs so my humble effort is going to have to be sharp to cut the mustard. Not that mustard needs a sharp blade but you get my point.

I launch this blog at a pretty inconsequential time. It's a Thursday and as is the norm for my working week I've travelled to London. Due to the aftershock of the recent terrorist attacks the city was unusually quiet when I ventured in. Either that or everyone is staying home to watch the fourth instalment in a cricket match with Australia for a trophy small in stature but large in importance to some. By the time you come to read this you will know the result, or more likely not care so I won't bore you with it.

I started this blog as it seems a good way of passing on all the snippets of information and ideas that spring to my mind on sporadic occasions, plus to recount all the amusing anecdotes that invade my existence. In fact the launch was eventually spurred on by a couple of great stories but as is the way with these things now that I've put fingertip to keyboard I cannot for the life of me recall them. I suppose in a way that's exactly what this will be all about. Just that now the framework is ready I'll now be able to record the notes before they disappear.

Author: Vince Poynter
Version m5.099 16 Aug 2018
First Published: Version 2.02 25 Aug 2005
The photograph is of the author sat in a trainer cockpit at The Yorkshire Air Museum, taken by the author's wife at the beginning of Aug 2004. It was first added to the website in Version 3 in Mar 2010


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