I grew up in a family dominated by the internal combustion engine. My father raced motorbikes as a young man and once lay for dead in a ditch for several hours after a crash. He was lucky. Eventually somebody spotted him and pulled him out, and his skull was patched up with some nifty metalwork. This fact alone is enough to remind everyone in the Knackered Family of the low probability of us being alive at all.

norton-es2.jpg

This 1951 Norton ES2 (courtesy of Michel 67 on Flickr) is identical to one owned by Knackered Père. By the way, Che Guevara set off across Latin America the following year with Alberto Granado on a 1939 model called ‘La Poderosa II’, or ‘The Mighty One’. See the 2004 film dramatization, The Motorcycle Diaries.

Though my childhood was spent in close proximity to the motor industry, I wasn’t always interested in it. And it is not entirely surprising that only a few days after my father passed away I missed the moment when a major milestone Continue reading ‘a robot is for life, not just for christmas (lego version)’

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Tweet It’s not every day that you get to sit in the same room as someone who collaborates with Nobel Prize Winners — although lately it seems to be happening to me quite frequently — so last Wednesday’s talk at the London Judgment and Decision Making group seminar was definitely one of the two high […]

fortune my foe

28Nov07

Tweet Apart from The Snowman and The Bear, nothing sets up Christmas like the miracle that is the York Waits. One of the things that I’ve liked most about Advent over the past decade or so is getting out our sole Waits CD, Old Christmas Return’d. The kids love it, and it has also encouraged […]

Tweet In full culture-vulture mode, the Knackered Family went to two live musical concerts this weekend. Both events featured largely acoustic instrumentalists, accompanied by a narrator. And both served to remind us that live performance offers an extra, magical dimension that recorded music can’t. But one event also provided perfect grist for the Knackered mill […]

Rather guiltily I was nursing a sense of schadenfreude when England were 2-0 behind against Croatia on Wednesday. And I was not at all anxious ahead of the earlier Israel v Russia match, which Russia had to lose (apparently unlikely, but it did happen) for England to stand a chance of qualifying for the 2008 European Championships (ie by beating Croatia). So England are out, and the manager Steve McClaren has been kicked into touch.

I don’t follow football so closely to judge whether this a fair comment on McClaren, and wish him no ill. In any event, as the Croatia game wore on, my nationalism was asserting itself, hoping for a reversal of the reversal. It came and went, England clawed back two goals and all too inevitably, it seemed, conceded a third.

But the reason for my mixed emotions was that I was secretly hoping that if McClaren went, the job would go to Aston Villa manager Martin O’Neill, even though he’s ruled himself out today, it appears. The reason for my enthusiasm was simple. He once quoted William Goldman’s famous line: Continue reading ‘nobody knows anything (football version)’

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