Friday, November 19, 2010

Postcard from Edinburgh

A belated posting this time; I was in Edinburgh back in August but somehow failed to add anything about it here. This picture I took came to mind again recently, for a couple of reasons.

These windows are on the side of the Scottish Parliament building and each is a little reading pod provided for the MSPs to use in quiet moments to catch up on briefings, emails, perhaps even paper backs. Having always had a weakness for window seats, I quite fancied one. Sunlit and secluded, what more could a reader require? One problem: I don't fancy ploughing through parliamentary briefings for the privilege.

Some places where I've recently attempted to concentrate on a book include Pendolino trains (no chance - makes me travel sick), a hospital foyer (too much life going on around me), and the sofa in a serviced apartment (chosen for style rather than support). So my own personal reading pod, equipped with comfortable seating, table placed for convenient positioning of tea, and natural light, would be a luxury.

Of course, a really good book will take me away from anything that's happening in reality. And reality was the other thing which reminded me of my visit to the Scottish Parliament. While there, I viewed the Press Photographer of the Year exhibition which was set up in the foyer. There was a sign warning visitors that many of the images were not suitable for children, but I found some of them so affecting, disturbing and thought provoking that they brought the news story home to me far more effectively than 24 hour rolling news channels can achieve. A colleague saw the exhibition in London recently and agreed with me that, hideous and shocking though many of the photos were, the photographers are doing an important job. Much though I love fiction, reality will intrude and should not be ignored. It's certainly a field where a single good picture can speak louder than words.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Postcard from GMT

Synchronise your watches. Greenwich Mean Time rules again and I for one am relieved. I understand the arguments about children crossing roads and farmers milking cows and how both activities would be best carried out in daylight hours, however; at my office all systems and data remain referenced to GMT year round. British Summer Time does nothing but confuse me.

This clock, at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, is where all time is controlled. It is Greenwich Mean Time. How powerful is that? The big orange ball sitting on the building behind rises to the top of its post just before one o'clock every day, and drops on the dot of one. That's one o'clock local time, not GMT - see how easy it is to get muddled?

What I was sure of was that it was the perfect time to be in Greenwich Park. The trees are dressed in a palette from sunshine yellow to peachy pink. Squirrels are sneaking around to set up their winter food stash. And my watch is definitely reading the correct time.