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Passwords

When I was a working peasant, dutifully toiling most days, paying my taxes, conforming to the diktaks of greedy controllers I had about 220 passwords. Sounds a lot, and there were reasons for my being registered at so many web sites. Ask Dominic Cummings what it’s like to be a spy, that’s a subject for another day.

I had a Master Password, a useful bit of software. That went to pieces when I forgot the Master Password, and the system I used had no way to recover a lost password, understandable but of no use to idiots, like me.

Interestingly PayPal and other systems recognise my computer and don’t require a password.

The worst, from my point of view, are Apple. Logging in to my elderly Apple the password is not recognised. That’s maddening enough but it gets worse. Changing login details seem to take several minutes for Apple to recognise. There’s always a time delay. Change your password, login again but Apple needs time or you will be rejected.

It’s interesting that the web sites can gather all sorts of information about us, and then reject our answers without appeal. Their databases have become very powerful, and assertive.

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Hirsute?

Stuck in lockdown, unlikely to see anyone, then standards began to slip. I still took daily showers, changed my clothes every day but those other essentials of maleness fell away. I didn’t shave every day and couldn’t get to a hairdresser.

As a result my beard grew quite respectably and it still contained elements of its original hair colour, and had not turned white like the stuff on my scalp. I’d make a passable Father Christmas with some care.

My hair soon reached down to my shoulders, and became unruly. It needed to be washed every day, which being very light meant it blew in my face all the time. Lacking a professional barber it always looked lack-lustre. It was not my best feature (no idea what is?).

It was a welcome day when I could walk into my local barber’s to get my hair cut. As locks fell to the ground we discovered we’d lived within a few streets of each other in the London suburbs. It was a lovely encounter as my small rural town has been taken over young men describing themselves as ‘traditional Turkish barbers’. No idea what that means, except in a small town rumours spread. They were not Turkish, but Syrian, or Armenian. Who knows or cares? I could see that they relied on clippers to shave the sides leaving an unruly top-nob that looked uncontrollable. Not my style.

I was very happy with my West End trained London barber. So pleased that I bought him a bacon roll. As a result he used his razor to remove most of my beard. Back home a proper shave had me looking pristine again. A neighbour said, ‘Oh there’s a human,’ as I passed her.

Why do men sport facial hair? I don’t want to imagine what it feels like being kissed by all that hair. The moustache is the most difficult, followed by the goatee. Both require regular maintenance, so defeating the real reason for allowing the stuff to sprout, to save time!

Don’t expect me to understand the logic of women, or what makes men attractive to these beautiful creatures. I’m seriously heterosexual (I can say that can’t I?) loving women, and cannot understand how they can adore smelly, arrogant, uncaring men. That is another story.



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Back at Last

It’s been a long while. I’m now back. It probably should be a relief as I have had a web presence since early 1990. In those days I made a website but had to use dial-up to access Compuserve so submit a hand-coded web site in html. I never saw that site. My equipment couldn’t cope. Not sure that anyone else saw it either.

It was very encouraging and I had belief in the value of the Internet. Many were sceptical but slowly that has changed. Emerging technologies have also contributed

It’s done well, providing a communications platform that much of the world can now use. There are obvious weaknesses. It is no longer just a military or academic linkage. It has been taken over by the current Mammon: commercialisation.

It motivated me. The arrival of the Docutech printing system also helped. It was a photocopier linked to a book binding machine. It’s great advantage was that it allowed single copies to be printed, and made short runs economic. In those days we had an efficient library service. Any book published was able to guarantee sales of about 200 copies as libraries acquired copies for their collections.

It got me going. With my LSE colleagues we published ‘A Student’s Guide to Geography’. That sold 2,000 copies after the feminist page of the Guardian newspaper was scathing about an article I wrote about the differences between male and female school head teachers. Controversy can awaken interest. That’s unfortunate really as such inanity allows the reader to divert from substance.

Together with John Dawes I formed Author Publisher Enterprise (APE) and we were soon linked to the Society of Authors, who were dismissive of self-published books. Quite rightly because many authors were persuaded to hand over cash to vanity publishers, who promised much and gave little.

APE did well. We organised events, published articles, and were part of an emerging movement. I played Secretary at APE, and made friends with another Secretary, the lovely Christina Manolescu https://christinamanolescu.com/tiki-index.php?page=Biography who now lives in Canada.

In those days there were many small independent publishers. Today abut 90% of the books you find in those bookshops that remain have come from one of the seven conglomerates that control the industry. It does little for literacy, nor does it encourage new ideas. Those that make it do so because accountants have assumed they will make a profit. Many books are produced on the back of a successful career elsewhere; perhaps as a cook, a footballer or singer. Literary worth has little to do with it.

Through Braiswick, my own publishing company, I published about 150 titles, moving on to audio books and online productions. I never made any money but it was all interesting and some of my authors have gone on to be recognised elsewhere. My determination was to provide a platform for those who seemed to need an audience.

War and Peace cartoon

There were good times. My good friend Ken Ward, really Ken Wurtzburger, had arrived in England from Salzburg through the Kindertransport scheme. He joined the Tank Regiment, losing four tanks, as he battled back to Berlin. We published …and the Band Played On (could still be available as an ebook if required).

There will be more.