Category Archives: Science

Happy 70th Birthday NHS…


aneurin-bevan-3

Nye Bevan

…Thank you for bringing me into this world. And thank you for keeping me in it.

Thank you for resetting all of my broken bones. And thank you for sewing me back together.

Thank you for operating on me when I needed fixing. And thank you for sending an ambulance when I couldn’t make it there by myself.

You have saved my life and patched me up more times than I care to remember. Without you, I would surely not be here.

Most of all, thank you for bringing my two daughters into this world. Thank you for taking care of them when they were sick and for vaccinating them from deadly diseases.

6933b1c0cf2cffc87e8c29c236af4929

To all the nurses, doctors, GPs, clinicians, technicians, auxillary nurses, dentists, paramedics, ambulance technicians, call handlers, midwives, radiologists, cardiologists, pharmacists, oncologists, scientists, anaethetists, surgeons, psychiatrists, counsellors, psychotherapists, physicians, administrators, managers, secretaries, receptionists, cooks, housekeepers, porters, Nye Bevan, the Labour Party and all the other staff of our National Health Service who I have forgotten to mention –

Happy 70th Birthday!

And, thank you.

(Have yourself a slice of cake. But not too much. Don’t want you getting diabetes.)

 

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Children, community, Disability, Education, health, Ideas, Innovation, Inspiration, Medicine, mental health, nhs, Science, Uncategorized

I [heart] America


There’s been a lot of hullabaloo this past couple of years because of the Cheeto-in-Chief of the good ol’ U S of A.

What with cosying up to dictators and alienating allies he certainly cuts a divisive figure. Unfortunately, this has had a backlash against America in general and its people.

So, to redress the balance, I wanted to write a positive post about some of the things I love about America. After all, one Mango-Mussolini shouldn’t taint the whole country.

In no particular order…

MUSIC

From Elvis Presley to Tom Waits to the Talking Heads. Who could argue that America has produced some of the greatest artists and genres the world has ever seen. Who are your favourites?

f9a83804312097dafc53cd110c6b62f0

076a0af223e3fde0e482daec21dea667

1a0fc3339ab6db5f9d83e0267b671008

Next up, MOVIES.

When we think of American movies we tend to think of Hollywood blockbusters. But there are so many unbelievable directors and actors. Here are some of my favourites, who are yours?

fb21736cabe240c1c6b9d685d983a163

17db73b4f983822ecd0f9758f1c4d964

ae862ac132d0ce987e056660137a8981

bb63a539ab118fd52d4b211c822b14f8

As I have a penchant for the Arts, I’m going to pick out a few photographers who have inspired me over the years.

PHOTOGRAPHY

3c619aa72059ba15902bb456dc72baaf

Marilyn Monroe by Eve Arnold

9ba447cbaf5df32d320cfa29699d6523

Gloria Swanson by Edward Steichen

5dc1809ac7044b8a90e7ddeb8728e645

Vivian Maier

5f1e7162127537afe47a7c51bf9d3005

Ansel Adams

d053f4cd7c1a5293215d43a8884991ac

Cindy Sherman

e6e4755b1fc7a8f7faf1da91c499951a

Saul Leiter

Understandably, most people couldn’t give a rat’s ass about advertising. But I do, because I worked in it for 30 years. When Doyle, Dane, Bernbach set up shop in the 1960s they revolutionised advertising. They focussed on simple product truths. Their ethos/philosophy permeated continents and generations. Still does. I had the privilege of working for DDB Dublin.

ADVERTISING

a2733323f3f384509870afab449b8921

Leading on from advertising we have GRAPHIC DESIGN, and this iconic classic by Milton Glaser for the New York tourist board. which has been ‘parodied’ a trillion times. (Yes, including me.)

27811149cca24f2d149b20c588c5badf

Milton Glaser

Next up, ARTISTS. Again, a multitude to pick from. Here are a couple of my faves.

0379e7b1a95d88c7bbb0da8c664deba5

Jean Michel Basquiat

d47c01293531e5af7b91d44108fb66e4

Edward Hopper

dadf136856fb64e89675d5bcf8229955

Mary Cassatt

Moving on to something non art related – LANDSCAPE. America has such a diverse landscape, from snow-capped mountains to sun-scorched deserts.

9eaf07f8f1db1e1d76f53837977a173f

7d92ccf15716d331da89c3548f51fec5

f880402b54f68b307bb65416309f926b

I’ve always loved CLASSIC CARS, Mercedes, Jaguar, Citroen, Volvo. But I also love American cars for their sheer ostentatiousness.

1ab901c84421a142db90543876c659c1

133e3a8275e87cdc2c11e2092e226d29

e1bd9c7715e010b1c915ac7909bcf69e

af53ad0aa2b6896cb7a961728b973056

I couldn’t write a post about America without including a few WRITERS. Too many to choose from. Here are a few of my heroes who have inspired me over the years. Recommendations anyone?

2c060977e52817a14375ac71022f2cdd

08af8c6f1f93bea8437c738195bf72b9

13e59b8450492f2d1c74ed81c56e5f93

e93691ccd832278595bd4aacebc6da45

e333432d8e0a949514d0eed6741034e2

What else do I love about America? I really like their ARCHITECTURE. Whether it be a monumental skyscaper or the traditional colonial white-picket-fence style complete with veranda.

9af05b45bdb2e5c5f608fc450610f280

91fcf12bc2ee4d8072105cb4372bdc84

481b849c00bb3f8207ecc17d6c9d352d

You won’t get very far in the States without some top-notch tucker. What is more quintessentially American than the humble DINER?

3d7b546033c31e9e26346a44bc84eaf9

Who says Americans don’t get irony? They make some fantastic COMEDY and have some wonderful comedians. Obviously, you’re not as funny as us Brits. But you’re getting the hang of it. (Benny Hill.)

3ab39169c1acce200dc6a153dd86f2d2

f5468eaacb6027084fc423ac399a138d

17e04d86a88ef62c42b23b4fe55f1744

450f210834c849819b668f4b5f489395

There you have it. Have I forgotten anything, anyone? What would you have included?

Obviously, there is one other thing I would like to give credit to. And that is the American people. (Well, only those that didn’t vote Trump.) You’re an innovative and inspiring bunch. Not only that, you saved our asses in two world wars! So, cheers for that.

My, (our), world would be a lot poorer without you.

 

10 Comments

Filed under Advertising, Animation, Architecture, Art, Books, Cartoons, Children, Comedy, community, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Design, Digital, Economy, Education, Film, Food, History, Ideas, Illustration, Innovation, Inspiration, Inventions, Literature, love, Music, Nature, Photography, Poetry, Politics, Science, Screenplays, Short stories, Uncategorized, Writing

10 Orbits of the Sun – new short story.


Here’s a pretty short short story that I’ve been working on recently. I’d be interested in anyone’s thoughts. Good or bad. But mainly good.

(Sorry about all the photos – it’s the art director in me.)

77279433008c719a89392810fc726552

10 ORBITS OF THE SUN.

By David Milligan-Croft.

Something changes inside of you when you have a child. Obviously, things change inside of a woman, quite literally. But I’m talking about changing from a man’s point of view – philosophically.

Up until my late thirties, I never wanted kids. Why would I? They’d be a burden. I had a fabulous career, a few great friends, a fantastic salary and a tidy crash pad overlooking the lazy river.

Then, for reasons I don’t fully understand, I got all broody. And I just wanted a baby. Specifically, a baby girl. I don’t know why I wanted a girl. Perhaps I found the thought of a rambunctious boy quite off-putting.

It stands to reason that I had to find a suitable mother first, which took a little longer than I had hoped. Anyhow, I got my wish. And I was the proud father of little Tallulah. When I said that something changes inside of you, I meant that something changes chemically. Nothing else, nor anyone else, matters quite so much in the world. Every cell in your body is geared toward protecting this little being. It’s a love that’s hard to describe. You would do anything for your charge. Yes, even kill for them. Die for them. It’s quite primeval on one level. Yet deeply spiritual on another.

Sure, not all parents feel this way. And I’m not trying to say that I’m unique in feeling like this. Plenty of parents are doting and plenty are neglectful.

I watched my little girl flourish and blossom. She was a happy kid. Loved to read. Loved to write her own stories. She’d make little 8-page books and fill them with fairytales and drawings. She loved to ride her bike and occasionally we’d go to Ed’s farm and she’d ride Ruby, the chestnut brown mare. She didn’t care much for video games or TV either.

397c2d5b75e9057bc3132b333ef9fd61

I remember one time, when we were going for a drive in the desert in my old jalopy, she said: “Daddy, how far is it around the sun?”

“What? The Earth’s orbit?” I’d said.

“Yes.”

“About 585 million miles, give or take a couple of hundred thousand. Depends on the time of year.” I turned the volume down on the car stereo so I could hear my inquisitive daughter better.

“Why does it depend on the time of year?” she said, turning the volume back up again so she could hear the brashy pop song that was playing.

“Not hundred percent. Something to do with the ellipse of our orbit,” I tried to draw an ellipse in the dust on the dashboard. “And the tilt of the Earth’s axis.” Astronomy isn’t my strong point and I got the impression that Tallulah guessed I was busking a little.

Tallulah looked out of the passenger window from behind her sunglasses at the scorched desert dotted with parched brush and spindly shrubs.

I stole a glance at the side of her pensive face, her golden hair was tantalising her cheeks. “Why d’you ask?”

“By my next birthday, I will have travelled 5.8 billion miles around the sun. Pretty amazing, huh?”

I pursed my lips. “When you look at it like that, kiddo, it is pretty amazing.”

“And that’s not including all the miles we’ve done down here on Earth,” she said wistfully.

I didn’t know how many miles we’d clocked up, and, in the great scheme of things, it probably wouldn’t affect Tallulah’s ‘orbital total’ very much. But it was still a significant amount for mere Earth dwellers.

I don’t know why this memory of my daughter springs to the forefront of my mind. Perhaps it is because it’s to do with heavenly bodies. The very fact that she came up with this concept amazed me. She could often be very abstract in her thinking. While other kids were ogling the shapes in clouds, Tallulah was busy calculating how far she’d travelled in the universe. I always imagined her growing up to be a great writer one day. Or maybe even a scientist.

Tallulah didn’t make it into double figures before she was taken from me. It was that God damned bike I’d bought for her ninth birthday. She was cycling home from school when a truck cut her up at some traffic lights. The driver said he didn’t see her coming up on the inside.

I’d always been uncomfortable with her riding to and from school. Not because she was a careless rider but because of careless drivers. However, her friends all did it, so she wanted to do it too. I guess I should have been a stronger father.

I was at work when it happened. I don’t know, but around the time of the accident, I recall being overwhelmed by a sense of grief. Like somehow I’d had this telepathic connection with her or something. Sounds ludicrous, I know. Though, I didn’t put it down to anything bad having befallen my little girl at the time.

I got a phone call from my distraught wife about an hour later. It was hard to make out what she was actually trying to tell me through her hysterical sobs. When the penny finally dropped, I felt the world disappear from beneath my feet and I was suddenly floating in a black void. I was dizzy. I felt my insides twitch and heave and I vomited over a glass case containing antique pistols. I think the customers must have thought I was hungover as they stared at me disdainfully and left the shop.

I closed the store and rushed to the hospital. But it was too late. The truck had already crushed the precious life out of her. Had the driver been there when I found out I imagine I would have killed him. Not that I would do that now, having had time to reflect on the incident. I know it was an accident. He didn’t mean to kill her. But he should’ve taken more care. Particularly at that time of day, being near a school and all.

I have never known grief like it. I don’t believe in heaven and hell.

This was hell.

The depths of Christian hell could not provide me with such torment. I went over all of the things that I might possibly have done for Tallulah not to have been at that particular spot at that particular moment in time. Not buying her the bike was top of the list. Her taking gymnastics class on a Tuesday instead of violin on a Wednesday was another. There were an infinite amount of possibilities. Of variables that would have put her at a different point in the universe. And I didn’t take any of them.

As you can imagine, my wife was inconsolable too. But I had to put on a more stoic face for everyone else: the police, doctors, funeral directors, family, friends. I know people mean well by wanting to offer their condolences, but the last thing we wanted to do at that time was talk to anybody. Shout – yes. Scream – definitely. Why? Why, Tallulah? What had she ever done to anybody? To me, it was further proof that there is no god. How could an all-powerful, loving deity let a beautifully perfect little girl be killed in such a horrific way?

That doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in some form of afterlife. Maybe there is, maybe there isn’t. Perhaps we’re reincarnated. Or, maybe we rise to a higher dimension. I once had the notion that the afterlife was an emotion rather than a place. Sort of like ecstasy or bliss. That one’s spirit melded back into the universe in a kind of eternal rapture. Most likely, there will be nothing. I don’t know. But it’s a chance I’m not prepared to take.

Of course, I haven’t discussed this with my wife. What would she say? She’d say I was being irrational. And I guess I was. No rational person decides to take their own life. She’d say I needed to see a doctor. That I was depressed. Not thinking straight. Get some pills. On the other hand, I could also see why my thinking was completely rational.

You know what I miss the most about Tallulah? It’s a sound. Specifically, a word. It’s a word I’ll never hear ever again: “Daddy!”

Like I said at the beginning – having a child changes you. You’d do anything to protect them. Why should my parental duties end in this life? Lots of religious people believe in heaven and hell. But they don’t think twice about giving up on their dead loved ones. If their faith was so resolute why wouldn’t they follow them to paradise?

Perhaps Tallulah and I will both spend eternity in black nothingness. In which case, it won’t matter a jot to either of us. But if there is something else, I’m certainly not going to let my beloved daughter wander the afterlife all by herself.

What kind of father would I be?

tumblr_mt2gclQvAU1qg5tb3o1_1280

Espe P.

4034a71d7fc24af4cdae9570c0212f9b

By the way, a few folk have asked me if these are photos of my kids. Just to reassure you – they’re not. When I’m working on a story I set up a Pinterest board for it. I put up pins of characters, locations, props etc to help me visualise my world. Admittedly, it’s a bit of a cheat to put them up on this post as I should let the story set the scene. However, like I said at the beginning – it’s the art director in me that can’t help putting some visuals in. Think of them as an extended front cover.

Addendum.

If you liked this story, why not read the whole collection, which is available on Amazon.

TOS

Save

Save

Save

12 Comments

Filed under Art, Books, Children, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Ideas, Inspiration, Literature, love, Nature, Philosophy, religion, Science, Short stories, Writing

Things for which I am grateful #365/365.


Some folks might think this is a bit of a cheat. I started with my kids and I’m going to finish with them. In my defence, I have two of the little rascals so I’m counting it as one post apiece.

There is nothing more precious to me on this Earth than my two daughters. Anyone who has children will know that something changes inside of you – chemically, biologically – and nothing else seems to matter.

Of course, this doesn’t apply to every parent, and true, the pesky varmints do get on your nerves a lot of the time. And yes, they bicker constantly. And they manage to talk in a stream of consciousness James Joyce would be proud of. But, when all’s said and done, they don’t outweigh all the adorable moments. I simply couldn’t live without them.

It’s been an epic year of blogging. Thank you for sticking by me and I wish you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous new year!

Right, I’m going for a lie down.

Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 16.32.04

Here are my 365 things that I am grateful for:

1 My daughters

2 Water

3 Poetry

4 Baths

5-7 Notebooks, pens, pencils

8,9 Butterflies and moths

10, 11 Softball and baseball

12 Fresh coffee

13 Sound / masts

14 Indoor toilets

15 Stepping Hill Hospital

16 Birds of Paradise

17 Roget’s thesaurus

18 Mother Earth

19 Clingfilm dispenser

20, 21 Yorkshire pudding and onion gravy

22 Jorge Luis Borges

23 Classic cars

24 Curry

25 Tim Berners Lee

26 Charles Bukowski

27 Yorkshire

28 Shiraz

29 Food

30 Katell Keineg

31 Tao Te Ching

32 A roof over my head

33 Peat fires

34 Street art

35 Friends (as in – mates, not the T.V. show)

36 Wilfred Owen

37 The Penguin Café Orchestra

38 The fry-up

39 Wolves

40 W.B. Yeats

41, 42 Cherry blossom trees and haiku poetry

43 Bread

44 Boules

45 Maps

46 Refuse collectors

47 Candy Chang

48 Sparrows

49 The tomato

50 Studio Ghibli

51 Oliver Jeffers

52 Johannes Gutenberg

53 Tom Waites

54 The cello

55 Mothers’ day

56 The Phoenicians

57, 58 Bacon and brown sauce

59 Tulips

60 Fish and chips

61 Giselle

62 Airfix

63 Firefighters

64 Rain

65 Libraries

66 Raymond Carver

67 Toulouse-Lautrec

68 The Goldfinch

69 Wings of Desire

70 Silence

71 Elizabeth Barrett Browning

72-99 Ireland

100 Talking Heads

101 Sylvia Plath

102 Yorkshire Sculpture Park

103 My mum

104 Modigliani

105 Kurt Vonnegut

106-128 Electricity

129 The pop man

130-147 Comedians/comedy

148 Commando magazine

149 Pastry

150-156 Social media

157 David Bowie

158 Football

159 D-Day

160-194 France

195-230 Novels

231 Graphic Design

232 Viva! Roxy Music

233 – 274 Art

275 Betty Blue

276 Writing

277 Joy Division

278 – 287 Scotland

288 – 324 Italy

325 – 352 Photography

353 Leeds Utd

354 Love

355 Universe

356 Advertising

357 Pan’s Labyrinth

358 – 363 Democracy

364 Miscellaneous

365 My daughters II

If anyone wants to read any of the previous posts simply type the title into the search box on the right. (It’s underneath the ‘topic’ cloud.)

18 Comments

Filed under Advertising, Animals, Animation, Architecture, Art, Books, Brand, Cartoons, Ceramics, Children, Children's books, Children's stories, Classical music, Comedy, community, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Dance, Design, Digital, Disability, Economy, Education, Film, Food, Football, Games, Haiku, Ideas, Illustration, Innovation, Inspiration, Inventions, Literature, Music, Nature, Philosophy, Photography, Poetry, Politics, Radio, Science, Screenplays, Sculpture, Short stories, Sport, Strategy, Writing

Things for which I am grateful #364 – Miscellaneous.


When I first started doing Things for which I am grateful, one for each day of 2014, I wasn’t sure if I’d make it. Now, on the penultimate post, I have far too many. So rather than pick just one I’m going to give you a miscellaneous list of all the ones that didn’t make it – but could have quite easily. (Lucky you.)

The point I’m trying to make is that we are very lucky in the ‘west’. And, even though I gripe on about our Tory overlords, I feel very fortunate to live in England.

The sun. (The big orange ball of fire, not the newspaper.)

England. (So much history, beautiful scenery and towns.)

History. (I love history.)

Wind turbines. (I think they’re cool.)

Thai food.

Chinese food.

The industrial revolution.

The sea. (I love the sea. And would love to live by it once again.)

Manchester.

Leeds.

The Romans.

The Greeks.

South Africa.

Elvis Presley.

Schools.

Public transport.

Sri Lanka.

Australia.

Bali.

Hinduism.

Buddhism.

Taoism.

New Zealand.

Optometry. (I wouldn’t be able to see without my glasses.)

My ex-wife for having our children.

Evolution.

Monkeys. (I do love a monkey.)

My neighbours.

Garlic.

Penny sweet tray.

The Peak District.

Typography.

Architecture.

Sci-fi.

The dictionary.

Drawing.

Farmers.

Butchers.

Fishermen.

America.

Uilleann pipes.

Sub-atomic particles. (Where would we be without these little jaspers? Nowhere, that’s where.)

Martin Luther King Jr.

The BBC. (Kiddy-fiddlers aside, they’ve done some great stuff.)

The Guardian.

Snow.

Erik Satie.

The emergency services. (Police, fire, paramedics.)

So, as you can see, plenty for me to be grateful for. But the point is, not what I am grateful for – what do you have to be thankful for in your life?

Wonder what’s in store for the last one?

7 Comments

Filed under Advertising, Animals, Architecture, Art, Books, Children, Classical music, Comedy, community, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Design, Economy, Education, Film, Food, Ideas, Innovation, Inspiration, Inventions, Literature, Music, Nature, Philosophy, Photography, Poetry, Politics, Science, Sculpture, Sport, Writing

The Universe – Things for which I am grateful #355/365


galaxy

Sometimes, I find it utterly extraordinary that any of us are here at all. How we have come to be in this chaotic universe is nothing short of miraculous. Imagining all of the things that had to take place over the past 14 billion years in order for us to exist are almost too enormous to comprehend.

Then, on other days, I just think we’re randomly floating around space on a giant ball of muck.

spiral-galaxy

I am in awe of our universe and the secrets hitherto unanswered. Who or what created it? Is there life after death? Are there parallel universes? Is there life on other planets?

amonite

What else I find mesmerising about the universe is how what is going on out there in space is mirrored down here on Earth – down to the microscopic level. Whether we’re looking at a spiral galaxy or the fractal patterns on a leaf.

plant

Scientists estimate that there are between 4.2 and 5.3 trillion habitable planets in the observable universe. It’s hard to fathom that we are the only planet to have evolved intelligent life. If that is the case, what a waste of a universe that would be. Mankind has hardly showered itself in glory this past brace of millennia.

river

tree

fractal

From macro to micro – The scale of the universe. (Click and slide.)

Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 13.06.33

This short film about the nature of space/time will blow your mind. If this is true then’s there’s no point us worrying about the future – it already exists.

8 Comments

Filed under community, Creativity, Education, Inspiration, Nature, Science

Perfection


To achieve perfection takes trial and error.

If others are involved in your task, they may see your experimentation as indecision.

Ignore that gnawing urge to placate them for an easier life, and press on with your goal.

Only then, will you hope to attain something that you can be 85 – 90% satisfied with.

3 Comments

Filed under Advertising, Animation, Architecture, Art, Books, Brand, Cartoons, Ceramics, Children, Children's books, Children's stories, Classical music, Comedy, community, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Cross of Iron, Dance, Design, Digital, Disability, Economy, Education, Film, Football, Games, Haiku, Ideas, Illustration, Innovation, Inspiration, Inventions, Literature, Music, My Portfolio, Philosophy, Photography, Poetry, Politics, Radio, Science, Screenplays, Sculpture, Short stories, Sport, Strategy, The Boating Party, TINCa-Ts, Writing