Last weekend I went to Cradley Heath for the chainmakers’ festival. I’d been once before, when the festival was on the High Street. This time it was in the Mary McArthur gardens.

There was a group of people in period costumes who performed the story of the chainmakers. I have the impression the festival has gotten bigger, but at the same time there wasn’t enough going on to justify hanging around for a full afternoon.

There was also a blacksmith, they were selling bits of artisan metalwork, like a candle-holder.

There was something slightly sad about the display, that while people are proud of the Black Country’s industrial legacy, there’s not actually much industry left.

I was very interested in a box of old trade union badges. Here’s the emblem of the MSzMP - the former Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party.


This is a cool anti-war badge.


This is a badge for the campaign to allow workers at GCHQ to join a union, it’s a fairly interesting story.


Note the ‘campain’ typo.

Here’s the procession, coming down Fox Oak street.


Someone left a Labour branch banner from Warley in the main festival tent.



I briefly went to see a friend in Nottingham. I was not sleeping too well, and we were both pretty tired after going to Birmingham the previous day. He stayed in Derby overnight.

The day was kind of a hazy blur, we visited the Five Leaves Bookshop, and that was fun.


I should take more advantage of being in the Midlands. Sure, it’s a pain to get to London, but within easy reach of Leicester there is Derby, Nottingham, Birmingham, Coventry… and those aren’t small towns. There’s a lot to see in the region.

In the meantime, I’ve moved back to Oxford. Cleared out my room and handed in the keys to the accommodation office. Bye bye Nixon Court.


I was planning to treat this month like a writing retreat, just block out the world, spend every day in the library, focus on pushing out a first draft of my dissertation.

I have a lot of time to think, and I feel a bit dislocated.


My dad mentioned I looked like Captain Haddock.

captain haddock

Maybe I was looking unruly.


I had started picking at it, and if you do that too much you get patches. So, I finally shaved it off, we’re back to looking sensible and presentable again.

Site changes

I’m drifting with my work, and so of course I’m being extremely productive in ways which aren’t directly useful to my research. I briefly got on top of my inbox, and I’ve been fairly diligent in adding things to this site.

I’ve merged some posts from old blogs, from 2014-2016. This code does most of the process of converting from Wordpress to markdown files. I’ve gone through these posts to correct mistakes, re-phrase things, it’s more like an edited selection. If you find any mistakes, email me! I’m doing well with replying to emails at the moment.

I streamlined the blog front page to separate old posts by year. For example, the liquid code for 2016 looks a bit like:

{% for post in site.posts %}
    {% capture year %}{{ | date: "%Y"}}{% endcapture %}
        {% if year == "2016" %}
            <a href="{{ post.url | prepend: site.baseurl }}">{{ post.title }}</a>
        {% endif %}
{% endfor %}

I also put in a simple counter at the bottom to count the total number of posts. It goes inside the for posts in site.posts loop, and it looks like this:

{% assign postcount = 0 %}
{% for post in site.posts %}
    {% assign postcount = postcount | plus: 1 %}

And at the bottom I just include {{ postcount }} in the paragraph, and it prints the number.

I made a slightly prettier essays page, with a list style copied from this blog. I kept all most of my old essays; a couple of them are pretty awful, a couple of them I’m really proud of, and overall I’m happy to put them online in case anyone finds them useful.

Next on my site todo list is to add a ‘return’ link to the top of each post, to take the reader back to the main page. While doing that, I want to make a CSS grid in the post header to contain the post date, return link, and possibly reading time/word count?

Aeroplanes and Stars

I’ve been listening to Grace Petrie again.

I’ll get strong and I’ll move on, without too many scars,
learn to tell the difference between aeroplanes and stars.
You’ll get old and still more cold and see the reason that you hid,
was I loved you in a way that no-one did.

Yeah, I’m doing fine.