follow the humming…

I present for your consideration a new blog I’ve started following, followthehumming | Then and now, and some bits in between.

Andrew is using the 10 years of diaries he kept from 1985 to look at what’s changed between then and now. Looking at such things as Elite, why a Kindle is more than just reading and why we used to call places, not people. It’s an interesting blog, well worth following.

You can follow him on Twitter too, at @followthehum. Ten points to anyone who gets the reference in the blog title.

All this talk of diaries made me realise that I missed my ten-year anniversary of starting a blog. It was on 13th March, 2003, to be exact, over on LiveJournal. I’ve had a variety of blogs in a variety of places since, but the LJ blog is still going.

I’ve made dozens of friends around the world, and posted an awful lot of stuff.  In fact, it’s 10,109 journal entries, with 34,840 comments posted and 62,420 comments received. I know that’s over ten years, but, like whoah, dude. That’s totally a lot. </Keanu>

Anyway, via the wonder that is LJ Archive I’ve, well, archived it all to a handybendy archive on my PC, dropboxed it up so I don’t lose it, and can use it to see what I was up to, ten years ago. Full credit to the Chief Hummer for the idea. *hat tip*

Back in 2003 we were down in Kent, visiting the in-laws. We’d gone to the beach and Ed was communing with the sand and eating ice cream. I was laid up in bed, watching Kind Hearts and Coronets. Brilliant film.

Ten years on and young master Ed still likes nothing more than a good day out down the beach, more or less irrespective of what the weather is doing, and, of course, ice creams, and  I still think Kind Hearts and Coronets is a fantastic film. So, not much has changed in that respect. Hopefully future entries will be somewhat more enlightening.

So, dear reader. I give you a shiny new blog to follow, and a new blog series from YT.

Watch this space. And follow the humming…

Monty & the Minefield

The red phone on Molly’s desk rang.


She knew it was him, as he’d insisted on installing the old-fashioned bright red phone a couple of weeks earlier. It had no dial or keypad, just a large red button on the phone’s body which flashed in time to the ringer. Molly had asked if it was the actual Bat Phone, but Monty had just smiled a cryptic smile, tapped one finger against the side of his nose, and left.

Molly had, of course, made some modifications of her own. Old telephones are all very well and retro was quite the thing these days, but they gave a girl neckache, cradling the receiver on your shoulder and all that.

She pressed a button on her bluetooth headset.

“Yes, boss?”

“What’s the worst thing that you can hear when walking through a minefield?”

She paused. She was used to Monty calling her at random times wanting something or other. Was this a trick question?


“Let me rephrase that. Aside from the sound of the explosion, moments before your legs shoot past your ears, what’s the next most frightening sound?”

This time he didn’t give her a chance to answer before continuing.

“Actually, I suppose you wouldn’t actually hear the explosion, what with pressure waves and the fact you’d been more or less instantaneously turned into so many pounds of damp pink goo, but…”

She could almost hear the cogs turning in his brain.

“Sorry, yes. Where was I? Ah. I can reliably inform you that it’s the sharp ‘click’ of a pressure sensor being activated. And, since I’m still here talking to you, no prizes for guessing which one I’ve just heard.”

“Oh, shit…”

“Exactly, my dear. Are you terribly busy? I really could do with a spot of help. Rather urgently, if possible…”

~~~~ Continue reading “Monty & the Minefield”


Watching someone write out the alphabet (draw the alphabet?) is oddly soothing. Hat tip to Chip for the link.

Sketchbook, February 2013 from Seb Lester on Vimeo.

BlackLetter was used throughout Europe from about 1150 until the end of the 17th century. One of my current preoccupations is developing a set of modern BlackLetter capitals that are highly legible, in BlackLetter terms, and yet retain the richness and beauty inherent in this ancient category of letterform. From time to time I will film clips like this to record my progress. Prints and originals available from Music by Carlos Márquez,


I love notebooks. I may have already mentioned this. I wasn’t entirely telling the whole story though.

Moleskine bookmark

It’s true, I do love a nice Moleskine notebook. And I *do* have a stash of them, and there *is* one in my bag.

Truth is though, my beloved notebooks are all too often left unblemished by pen or ink. I suspect I’m not alone in this – a fresh, pristine notebook is all too immaculate to actually spoil by writing in it. Moleskines feel like they should contain Great Thoughts of Great Importance, not random scribbles like ‘2 pints of milk, some cheese and a loaf of bread’. They should contain beautiful handwriting, delicate sketches of Venetian architecture…

Oh, of course they shouldn’t. They’re a notebook, just like any other. So why is it that I find it so hard to actually *use* one?

A friend, many years ago, got Wreck This Journal, “an illustrated book featuring a subversive collection of suggestions, asking readers to muster up their best mistake – and mess-making abilities to fill the pages of the book (and destroy them).”

I need to do that, to exorcise my notebook demons. So I’m going to take one of my unused Moleskines and whilst not *wreck* it per se, certainly *use* it. I’ll make notes, try my hand at sketching and maybe write a bit of my own as-yet-unwritten novel.

How about you, dear reader? Do you use notebooks? Do you suffer from the same problem when it comes to starting a new one?

Stationery geek

a potful of pens

#DaBloPoMo, day 4.

My twitter bio says “writer, photographer, coffee-lover, cyclist, bookworm and stationery geek.”

Today, dear reader, we’re going to talk about that last bit: stationery geek.

No, not stationary geek[1].

Stationery, as defined at

sta·tion·er·y [stey-shuh-ner-ee]
1. writing paper.
2. writing materials, as pens, pencils, paper, and envelopes.

I just love the feeling of opening a new notebook, finding the perfect pen or pencil[2]. I have quite a selection, as you can see. My favourite pen is the Muji gel ink pen, but sadly the Muji in Leeds closed some time ago (sob), so I’m on the hunt for a good alternative. I’ve heard good things about the Pilot G2 gel pens, but they and I have never really got on. I’m quite fond of the Sharpie fineline pen, but it’s a bit too heavy in the line department for regular use.

If anyone can recommend a good, regular daily use pen, drop me a comment.

I’d love to get a decent fountain pen too, though I don’t know when I’d ever get to use it. They’re so nice to write with, but require time and patience that I’m not sure I have any more. I’ve been known to spend entirely too long browsing the used pen categories on ebay, looking for the perfect fountain pen, something classic, but not *too* expensive.

Ah well. One day.

As for notebooks, I do love a nice Moleskine. They’re the perfect size, have deliciously off-white paper that’s really nice to write on, and just look great. I’ve got a stash of them, and always have one in my bag – though I do find that it’s most often filled with just odd notes and reminders, rather than earth-shattering truths or swathes of my as-yet-unfnished Great Novel.

On a separate but tangentially-related note, I started a project many years ago where I sent a fresh Moleskine off into the world to visit my various online friends. It’s been travelling for… seven years this year, I think. It’s been to a whole host of interesting places, including the White House on the day after Obama was inaugurated the first time.

How cool is that?

One day I hope to be reunited with it. Given current rate of progress, and my general uselessness at prodding people to move it on, I’m expecting it home some time in 2016/17…

[1] Though, according to my Fitbit[2], I do spend quite a lot of time not moving. Pesky office jobs, eh?
[2] of which more, inevitably, later
[3] the Dixon Ticonderoga is my current pencil of choice. That classic yellow pencil with the pink eraser that you see in American schools. I got sent a box of 4 dozen many years ago by my good friend Greg, who is sadly no longer with us. Every time I pick up one of those pencils, I think of him. To Greg! *raises pencil*

blogging, or look out February, DaBloPoMo is coming!

I really enjoy blogging. I’ve had a blog in various guises and flavours for the past ten years. Some of you have been following me all this time. Crazy stalker types. I love you.

But, for one reason and another, my posting has become a little… sporadic.

I’d like to propose a challenge. You may have heard of NaBloPoMo (akin to NaNoWriMo, on which I have mused elsewhere) – National Blog Posting Month.

It’s usually held in November, alongside NaNoWriMo, but for my purposes I’m treating February 2013 as my personal NaBloPoMo. Or DaBloPoMo.[1]

The premise is simple. A post a day on a subject of my choosing, every day in February.

Who’s with me?

[1] Dave’s Blog Posting Month. But you worked that out already, didn’t you? Clever reader.

It’s my twitter birthday!

I noticed a tweet this morning from @TwBirthday

@dakegra Happy 5th TwBirthday! You’ve been around since 14 November 2007!

So, in five years I’ve posted nearly 22,000 tweets. That’s about 12 tweets a day, give or take.

Here’s a nifty breakdown of tweets by time of day, courtesy of xefer

Apparently I’m following 1,794 people (lawks!) and I’ve got 1,252 followers (crikey!).

Quite how many of them are really real isn’t entirely clear – the number fluctuates on a daily basis as spammers get caught and blocked or people get bored of my tweeting.

So. Five years, eh? Cor. Doesn’t feel like that long.

I often get asked what the point of Twitter is. People sign up, follow @stephenfry, get bored, and stop using it.

With Twitter, you really do get out what you put in. Following some interesting people, talk to them, interact.

Set up links to Flickr or Instagram. Take some photos & share them. Comment on other people’s stuff.

The more you give, the more you’ll get. I’ve made friends around the world & down the road via twitter, blogging, taking photos.

Go on, give it a go. It’s fun.