Sunday, August 21, 2005


Friend of my wife
1) “No thank you I was told by my herbalist in 1968 that I mustn’t eat cauliflower “(advice which has obviously stood the test of time)
2) On a local asking for the ‘ hand in marriage of a lady acquaintance; “Well she might as well he’s had everything else” (Meeow!)

Overheard mother of my wife.
1) “ I meant to ask her how she was getting on with those buckets” (I did not feel inclined to ask what she intended doing with the buckets – one is usually sufficient for my purposes)
2) “Do you remember when I had those legs?” (She still has them so far as I can see)

Overheard Aunt of my wife
1) “Anyway she’s having nothing that’s got a carcass on it” (a fashionable form of vegetarianism?)
2) “They are both poorly him and her they asked “S” where they could get a cooked chicken for Christmas” (Oh the humanity!)
3) “She’s crippled with the wheelchair” (cause and effect?)

Overheard in a Dunster teashop.
“Ill get the coffees dear – Id like to do more but your mother pays tax and I don’t”


1) on his encounter with a local streaker; “ Well I can tell you he wasn’t doing it for the excitement”
2) Lady ambulance medic to gentleman who had been taken ill in Church presumably she was trying to empathise. “Whats the matter love – didn’t you pray hard enough?”
Vicar ; “What do you mean he is alive isn’t he?”

Personal Identity

email sent to Tom Sorell 20th August 2005

Dear Prof Sorell,
I was at an ‘optional’ OU lecture at Bath on Personal Identity a few years ago.
The lecturer, whose name I cant recall started off with something like ‘Who is Joe Bloggs? What does it mean to say that you are Joe Bloggs? What is this thing that persists through time that we call Joe Bloggs?
At which point an elderly lady rose to her feet and clutching her handbag to her breast interrupted , “ Your not Tom Sorell are you?” . Turned out she had come to the wrong lecture.
Did the lecturer who’s name I cant recall mention this little incident to you?

Douglas McLeod

Fag Theory or the aesthetics of nicotine

When I smoked the world was 2 dimensional. It was like a map. Rivers bridges roads etc I passed by like running a finger over symbols on an ordinance survey.
This was good, it served a purpose. Divorced from the world the brain was free to contemplate more theoretical problems. What is said of cigarettes is true they do aid concentration.
Sometimes, when I hadn’t smoked, ordinary objects looked startlingly different. They became three dimensional, I was aware of the space around them. I stared at them as if I hadn’t seen them before. Maybe Van Gogh had given up smoking when he painted that old wicker chair and pipe?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


If I were a God but a not quite omniscient God I would conduct grand experiments to determine the kind of Universe I was operating in.
One very interesting experiment I would do involves a school playground and a good supply of schoolchildren.
I hasten to add for the politically correct among us that being God I would ensure that no children were physically harmed in this experiment.
Afterwards I might write up the experiment as follow.
To determine the minimum number of children required to produce a constant background noise.
1) Empty school playground
2) 60 small children
3) Tape recorder

Switch on tape recorder
Begin to drop the children 1 by one into the empty playground counting into the tape recorder as each one falls… 1,2 ….3 etc
As the number of children builds up so should the noise level so that eventually there comes a point , theory suggests around 20, when there are no discernable gaps in the wall of noise.
One could continue dropping children into the playground and estimate whether the noise level, pitch etc is related to numbers of children dropped.

It is indeed a great mystery to me why this should occur at all. As a child I never shouted in the play ground and yet it is an incontrovertible fact that a noisy hysteria occurs when the number of children in a play ground reaches a certain figure.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Live 8

In case I forget and someone asks me in 20 years time where I was when Live 8 was on.
First I cut the grass and then I went to bed because there was just a load of noisey rubbish on the Television.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Selfless Society

David Hume starts from the idea that we are completely ‘blank’ at the beginning of life and that it is through the senses first that we react with the world.
Hume called these sensory perceptions ‘impressions’. He distinguishes them from a similar kind of entity which he called ‘ideas’. An idea is the memory of an ‘impression’. He described ideas as being less vivid than impressions as you would expect.
It follows that for something to be known to exist in the world we must be able to experience it as an impression.
Everybody must feel that if anything exists in the world at all it must be ‘self’ because that is the entity with which we are most familiar.
Hume says that you cannot actually point to an impression of self. When you come to think about it you do not perceive self but only some particular feeling or idea.
He then goes on to show that the idea of self is a construction of the imagination.

I recommend Hume’s philosophy as brilliantly lucid and original (don’t be put off by my rendition which was just a private exercise for me – read the real stuff )

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Whats in a name?

Veronica Kermode
Barrington Bugg (Independent Financial Adviser)
Willy Burns (Builth Wells)
Oliver Spankie (Chief Steward – Hay Festival)
Fleur Lush (Scottish Widows)
Dashita Dave (Friends Provident)
Euryn Jones (Journalist)
Heffin Jones (Alliance & Leicester)
Gary Uren (Suttons)
Kulwinder Bassi (Norwich Union)
Wim Dik (Director Norwich Union)
Daffodil Jones
Lamanda Nangle (Irish permanent)
Laughton Lashford (Scottish Provident)
Ulick Murphy (Camberford Law)
Graham Grout (Zurich Ins)
Nigel Titt (Highgrove Financial Services)
Moyra Purves MA A.C.I.I.
Andria Squirrell (FSA)
Victoria Sherry (Threadneedle)
Muriel Strain (Premium First)
Frances White-Hole

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Ontological Proof

We are said to be made in the image of God. One consequence of this is that God must be a little like us. We have a sense of humour and so it can be inferred that God too has a sense of humour. It certainly would be a divine joke if the ontological proof were a logical proof of the existence of God. If I were wholly God rather than merely an image I would certainly consider allowing this proof to succeed. A logical proof in which nobody believes would be a more interesting way of managing humanity than a personal appearance in the clouds above London.
Every now and again I think I understand the proof.
This time I will write it down while I think I have it.

God, whether he exists or not, is defined as the most perfect being one can imagine.
Thats a definition I think that you can accept for the purposes of this argument whether or not you want to accept the conclusion which is obviously coming.

Next however perfect the being is that we imagine it is always possible to imagine a being who is more perfect because he does actually exist. So the most perfect being is one that exists rather than one that does not exist.

If it is possible for God to exist then he must exist because existence is a necessary attribute of the most perfect being. (as just shown).
So it only has to be shown that it is possible for God to exist in order to prove that he definitely does exist.
Is it possible for God to exist? Yes it is possible for God to exist because anything that we can imagine is possible and it is only by examining what is actually in the world that we discover whether it exists or not.
However in the case of God the mere possibility of his existence guarantees his existence.
As I write that I already feel it slipping away again.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Bombsites 1950s

I lived at 22 Cambridge Drive with my parents and sister. That's a road in South London at a place called Lee Green. The period I am talking about is from say 1950 to 1956. Between 5 and 11 years after the end of the war.The large area or it seemed large to me between Cambridge Drive, Leyland Road , Osberton Road and Eltham High Road was a bomb site. But because it was between 5 and 11 years after the cessation of the war it was a beautiful bombsite overtaken by nature with ruins mysteriously rising out of reclaiming vegetation.About this time I was introduced by David Silver to the CS Lewis books about Narnia and the bombsite really did have the quality of another country. In fact I could draw a map of its main geographical features now. The 50's were a time of paranoia and the incident I remember most concerned a German Spy.I was probably about 7 and there were a few of us, maybe 5 or 6 who played regularly on the site. There were bigger boys there too and some had constructed a circular track where they raced their bikes. I think speedway must have been an 'in sport' in those days.These boys would also sometimes set off explosions and we smaller boys wanted desperately to have a go and so pressed them to tell us how to do it. I remember Colin Steer one of the big boys taking us aside and disclosing the secret formula. The principal process involved soaking newspaper in water. Colin was obviously a sensible fellow for despite our following the formula to the letter we not surprisingly failed miserably.One of the other big boys swapped a huge commando knife that his father had brought back from the war with me for, I think, a Dandy Annual. My mother made me take it back as soon as she found out but not before the German Spy episode. The big boy, whose name I have forgotten also I think fancied himself as a leader of men. He gathered us smaller ones together and told us of the German Spy that he had been observing. Every evening at a specific time this spy was seen to walk slowly through the bombsite leading a small dog to divert attention from himself. He was obviously waiting for the coast to clear so that he could make contact and pass information on.A plan was devised whereby the, 'leader of men', whose name I have forgotten and his platoon of 7 year olds including myself would track this spy keeping, ourselves well hidden in the lush vegetation. As soon as contact was made we would spring from the surrounding jungle and kill or capture them. I don't know about our leader but I and the rest of the group believed 100% in the mission. Luckily contact was not made and no doubt some poor chap in the habit of walking his dog on the bombsite every evening has been blissfully unaware that he was being followed by half a dozen 7 year olds one at least carrying a 12 inch commando knife and all of them prepared to kill him if necessary. Now the bombsite is an awful block of flats.

Tweedle Dum & Tweedle Dee

Here is a thought experiment.Consider a machine that can duplicate theposition and state of atoms - a people duplicator.Another machine having the capacity to transmit matter, perhaps byconverting it into radiation first.A human being is 'duplicated' and simultaneously transmitted together with his duplicate into a room.The room itself is the inside of a sphere so that all directions look thesame. There are no windows and no objects in the room.The room floats free in space far from any other matter so there is no gravity, ie. no up or down direction.Now imagine the person and his duplicate materialising in the room, one behind the other like they were part of a queue for the bus.The one at the 'head of the queue' would see the blank walls of the room. The one behind him would see the back of this other figure.Perhaps the one behind might tap his duplicate on the shoulder who would turn around and then a conversation would ensue between the original and his duplicate.Although one is a duplicate of the other they are able to hold a two way conversation because when they materialised in the room their experiences became different one experienced the wall visually whereas the other experienced the back of a head.But if the machine that transported them into the room had materialised themfacing each other so that when they became aware of their surroundings they saw exactly the same things what then?I think that because there is no different experience for either of them they would continue to do and say exactly the same thing for all time. They could never hold a two way conversation because the initial symmetry of their experience cannot be broken .Is there anything they could do so as to avoid spending forever in a Tweedle Dum Tweedle Dee existence.?

Swiss Family Vomit - email

From: Douglas McLeod Sent: Thursday, June 26, 2003 13:50 PM To: Alan_McFadenSubject: Swiss Family Vomit and other Tales
Back from France. Going over by Condor Ferries (I can hear you saying 'Ahh Condor' as I write). Behind us a family of about 6 - I avoided all eye contact. Bit of a swell. They commence to vomit in turn, in paper bags , on the table, on the floor - everywhere. I experienced their strange world through all of my senses except my sight - I refused to look. At one point I heard the following. Vomiting Child -" Dad why are you the only one in the family not to be sick?" Father " Give us another couple of minutes". Le Vieux Moulin also provided an interesting example of bodily functions. In its beautiful faded but still elegant restaurant which could seat about 60 there was one other couple on the other side of the room - Kraut I think and we were seated behind and next to a solitary Frog. Throughout the meal and over the next hour and a half the frog farted loudly continuously and with great variety of pitch, volume and rhythm. The Krauts could hear it all from the far side of the restaurant , luckily I think farting is part of German humour so it was OK. The hotel owner could speak no English and so it was a challenge to me to convey to him this little scene. Searching the dictionary I thought 'vent' might have something to do with it and in looking up this word I found 'avoir vent' to have or break wind just what the doctor ordered. My son is in a tent , bottom right bit of Australia, Botany Bay. Should I send him to spy Woodworth? Bye for now Douglas