Gilbert and Sullivan meets MasterChef

Just before the Christmas lockdown, we were lucky enough to get out to see a revival of Sasha Regan’s excellent, all-male Pirates of Penzance in the West End, as well as treating ourselves to a meal at one of our favourite local restaurants.  Having been confined to home since then, it started me wondering what would happen if you tried to combine the two experiences?

Here’s the answer…

I obviously need to get out more…

Tom Lehrer Revisited – My Lockdown

Looking back on the past few months, everything I’ve written has been about the effects of Covid-19 and lockdown.  It’s all still best described as a global experiment, where most of our politicians are still guessing. 

It felt that it was probably time to lighten the tone.  I grew up with the songs of the great American satirist, Tom Lehrer, which still feel as fresh as when they were written.  Lockdown seemed to be a good opportunity to revisit and update them, so here’s my offering based on one of his classics – My Home Town.

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Hearing Loss takes the Stage in Edinburgh

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the largest in the world, with around 2,500 different performances taking place each day.  It attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors over the course of three weeks, sells almost three million tickets and showcases some of the best performances from around the world.  It also seems to attract the world’s worst sound technicians, who think that volume is the only thing that matters.  So it was refreshing to find a couple of shows this year which highlighted the issues of hearing loss.  Around a quarter of us will experience hearing loss during our lives, so it is important that people become more aware of how to protect their hearing, as well as understanding the consequences of hearing loss and for society to remove the stigma of wearing hearing aids. 

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The Smart Gasman Cometh – a Smart Metering Song

It’s almost exactly fifty years since Flanders and Swann wrote their classic comic song “The Gasman Cometh”.  With the advent of smart metering it seemed an appropriate time to update it, and give all those involved in smart metering something to sing at their Christmas parties.  I’d also recommend singing it whilst reading DECC’s First Annual Progress Report on the Roll-out of Smart Meters.  It has the advantage of being considerably shorter.

Twas on a Monday morning,
The gasman came to call.
My meter wouldn’t work,
It wasn’t being smart at all.
He put another meter in,
It took him several hours.
But it couldn’t send a reading, as the comms hub wasn’t powered!

Oh, it all makes work,
For the working man to do!


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Usability through Dance

It’s August, so I’m doing what I do every year and spending a couple of weeks at the Edinburgh Festival, seeing as many shows as I can manage.  It’s rare to see much that says anything about technology or design, but this year I was blown away by a show that should be compulsory viewing for anyone concerned with product design.  Even more surprising is the fact that it was a dance piece.

ME (Mobile/Evolution), written and performed by Claire Cunnigham is about crutches.  Since a bicycle accident at the age of fourteen she has been using crutches.  Four years ago she took up dance and since then has rapidly gained fame as a disabled performer.  I should add that, having seen her, the adjective disabled seems utterly inappropriate, as what she manages to do far surpasses most people’s physical capabilities.

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