The latest issue of Cam the magazine for alumni (see here) has a feature on Fitzbillie’s that Cambridge icon know, if for nothing else, as the purveyor of the finest Chelsea Buns ever enjoyed. When I was at Cambridge in the early 1980s these were ubiquitous and regular queues formed through the shop door to get them while they were fresh. If you go to the Fitzbillie’s Website you can even order some delivered to you anywhere on earth – what are you waiting for?

I believe they also served them at the Cavendish Lab canteen. I know that mid-morning the sticky buns would sell out fast with everyone scrabbling to have one with their morning coffee. The acid test for quality was to place one on a plate then invert the plate; if the sticky allowed the bun to stay on the plate upside-down then you had a good bun.

Simpler times?

What memories of Fitzbillie’s do you have? Let me know!


The Joy of Thermodynamics

Science can be fun – really!

Why write this piece?

Early January 2011 the BBC science show Horizon presented a show led by the comedian Ben Miller who also it transpires studied for a PhD in Physics in Cambridge at the Cavendish! As he was so kind as to spend several minutes talking in front of yours truly (and zooming into my livery i.e. the phrase Reality Checkpoint carved into my paint) I was inspired to add my minor reflections on thermodynamics to his thoughts.

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Jukebox Delights

F23 Track 8…

A jukebox of delightsIf I go to a pub I don’t know, I like to have a look at the jukebox. These days of course the chances are that the sound of Sky Sports and gambling machines will drown out the humble jukebox, but there are still places where you can get a decent pint, sit at a table and put your coins in the machine to get treated to a few pieces of music that you have chosen.

The best part is that you don’t know ahead of time what will be available, so it is a real pot-luck experience. Over the years I have built up a list of tracks I will always play if I find them, and that list I present today (though I have no doubt forgotten many of my faves.)

So without further ado, and in no real order other than alphabetic, welcome to my jukebox (or at least the first dozen entries)!

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Footprints in the sands of time

That by which we are remembered


This week saw the vanity publication of Tony Blair’s Journey setting out how he’d like to be remembered. Sadly it is posterity that does the remembering and not us, so I’ve penned a few jottings on how some people get remembered.


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Time Traveller’s Guide to early 1980s Cambridge

You’re in Cambridge – so what year is it?

A common problem faced by time travellers is knowing what year they’ve arrived in – let’s face it, walking up to strangers and asking the year can lead to odd glances! Being stood in the middle of Parker’s Piece could make me a natural point of reference, but I have been here since at least before WWII, and had so many versions of my name plastered on my sides since the early 1970s that I lose track.

I thought therefore I would give some pointers as to early 1980s Cambridge as an aid to the weary time traveller.

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So why did England play so poorly in the 2010 World Cup?

First things first, I am to football punditry what Patrick Moore is to ballet. Nevertheless, as a fan I am as entitled to my ill-informed opionion as anyone else.

Before I start, why do I care enough to put this in my blog? Well, as those of you in the know will realise, when the original FA rules for modern football were gathered together, they were heavily influenced by the rules already in use in Cambridge and as played on Parker’s piece (see here if you don’t believe me.) Seeing as Parker’s Piece is also where I live (see here if you still don’t believe, you sceptical lot,)  I say that if ‘Football’s Coming Home’ (and here‘s another link) I have a genuine interest, though if Sunday 27th June 2010 is anything to go by, I’d better keep waiting.

On to my thoughts:

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