Archive for November, 2012

That Mitchell & Webb Sound series 1

Friday, November 30th, 2012 | Distractions

From time to time, I want to quickly find my favourite That Mitchell & Webb Sound sketch, but there doesn’t seem to be an index of them. So, I’ve done one, for series one at least.

Episode 1

Time Sketch
00:24 Bit of ham on your face
02:33 Sex scenes with people yelling “now we know!”
05:12 Radio 4 “Sciencey stuff”
08:30 Grand piano busker
09:12 Wedding vows
11:11 Bookshop in someone’s house
12:39 Pit ponies
14:27 Ross Kemp as Gandi
14:50 Hairdressers Sans Frontières
16:45 Snooker commentators
18:15 Advert for “The Word Master”
19:00 Touching Cloth dry cleaning business
22:11 Guy who has a band
24:12 Party invites: Scooby Gang

Episode 2

Time Sketch
00:24 The Ring dinner party conversation
02:29 Imagine That: baked potato
05:21 Flightless birds on an island (dodos)
07:35 Radio Switzerland
09:37 Hospital announcement: fire
10:02 Jason: Make Over City (shopping for socks and a bag)
12:02 Snooker commentators: nutty earnest, gold fish
12:57 Blokes doing Sex and the City
15:28 Hospital announcement: Bomb
15:50 Introduction to voodoo
17:34 Nice man: park bench
19:18 Bad writers: medical drama
21:14 Break up advice (planting the crack)
23:29 Hospital announcement: dead woman in toilets
23:39 Party invites: Bond

Episode 3

Time Sketch
00:24 Heaven is only for the Amish
02:42 Big Talk: Aids pandemic
04:27 Castrati (Sopranos parody)
05:51 Jason: Sell that house to them
08:50 Call centre staffed by children
10:50 Rabbit news night
11:40 Ignore charity appeals, and buy stuff
12:38 Charge of the Light Brigade reading
13:35 Welcome to Hufflepuff
15:59 Environment – how much stuff can we keep?
19:00 Kipling reading, “If”
19:45 Jungle book, Mowgli’s parent’s night
21:37 Nick Hornby parody
22:29 Queen Victoria radio address
23:23 Party invites: Hitler

Episode 4

Time Sketch
00:24 Nature Notes: bird song
03:02 Direct credit pensions
04:09 Spy who works at vehicle licensing centre in Swansea
05:39 Road rescue helpline for broken down car
06:53 Downloaded the whole internet
09:24 Snooker commentator: drinking during inteval
10:39 No hot water in a hotel
11:27 Jason: Crap in the loft
14:30 Golden anniversary island
15:00 Lessons from 18th century France
17:50 Sold your novel
18:38 Big Talk: is there a god?
20:06 Nice doctor
21:26 Fishing for cats
23:53 Returning jeans because she is too fat
25:36 Party invites: Ghandi

Episode 5

Time Sketch
00:24 Increase in MPs salaries
02:16 The Late One: reads letter, sings Gold Finger
04:00 Drinks: chat up beer, pity beer
06:19 Total pants rap song
07:39 Exciting Adventures of Sir Digby Casear Salad
09:42 Snooker commentators: Lager is more fizzy
10:46 Tram crash safety campaign
12:37 The Late One: Domestic violence
14:26 Correspondance golf
17:15 Life insurance for old people
18:47 Writers: spy drama
20:35 What do you really think? (Minister’s interview)
21:29 The Late One: Lonely, Hilter
23:00 Global warming, cold in my flat
24:00 Party invites: Darth Vader

Episode 6

Time Sketch
00:24 Shooting take away pizza menu deliverers, Stalin, Hilter
03:12 We meet years ago, I’ve written you a song
05:03 Porn on 4: Radio 4 review show
06:17 Drama about how horrible war is
08:22 Jason: Where it is, where it is, where it is
11:31 Fisherman catching all the fish
12:04 Snooker commentators: Shandy
13:23 Splitting a restaurant bill
14:30 Posh actor footballers
16:01 Ignore BBC3
16:19 Harold Wilson impersonator
16:41 Phone call from Mike’s mugger
18:54 Can’t remember the word “horse”
20:19 57% of people say interest rates have gone up
21:29 Red flags in front of cars
21:51 Birthday party at a strip club (the crack)
23:18 Round table: I could have written your book
23:37 Party invites: Oscar Wilde

GRAM 2012

Thursday, November 29th, 2012 | Events, Humanism

This year, I attended GRAM – Group Representatives Annual Meetup, first the first time. GRAM is an event organised by the British Humanist Association, that brings together the leaders of affiliated groups to talks, discussions and ideas.

The event was held at the Quaker headquarters on Euston Road, which turned out to be a really nice building. I was expecting it to be someone bare, given Quakers are often minimalistic, but it was actually very well furnished inside.

While a lot of the talks weren’t that interesting, it was certainly inspiring to hear other group leaders talk about what they have been doing in their group – something like what we used to do at the AHS, where each group would deliver a quick update, would have worked really well.

There were also some heated discussions between some of the BHA representatives and some of the local groups, regarding the much tighter restrictions being placed on local groups by the BHA. For example, if you try to search for your local humanist group, some groups are now excluded from the map.

Overall, it was reasonably useful. It’s somewhat different to how I imagined, and how we run things like Sunrise Conference, but was useful for catching up with the latest developments on a national level.

Wendy House November 2012

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012 | Friends, Life

A Wendy House without The Fonze? Oh the horror. Somehow, we survived it though, with good memories intact.

A market for markets?

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012 | Thoughts

It’s hard to ignore the fact that Kirkgate Market, Europe’s largest indoor market, is empty. In it’s lower halls, up to 30% of the stalls are vacant; it’s like a ghost town in there sometimes.

So, Leeds City Council have put some money into trying to work out how to fix it. And indeed, they staged a big public consultation, where everyone was invited to come down and find out what their research had done.

Turning up to it, I walked into a room with one hundred chairs laid out – and one other person there. I was a little late, and nobody else turned up behind me. Apparently, there are only two members of the public that are interested in the future of Kirkgate Market.

They have also set up an information centre where you can pop in to. So, I did that today, asking for basic information like what the footfall levels are and what research they have done on shopper profiles. They didn’t have any. So much for bringing more traders in with a helpful information centre.

I did get one useful piece of advice though – looking at one of the vacant stalls, a trader overheard our conversation and proceeded to talk to us at length about the amount of traders closing down and trying to get out.

Things are looking bleak indeed for the market.

PHP complains date.timezone is not set

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012 | Programming, Tech

Sometimes, PHP will kick up a fuss complaining about date.timezone not being set. We found this on the Symfony framework and were able to replicate it on standalone scripts.

DateTime::__construct(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings.
You are required to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set()
function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this
warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier.
We selected 'Europe/Berlin' for 'CEST/2.0/DST' instead

Normally, you would fix this by editing your php.ini file and adding a declaration there.

date.timezone = "Europe/Berlin"

But we had already done this and it still wasn’t working! After some further investigation, it seemed that PHP simply couldn’t access the value.


This doesn’t make any sense, and we never got to the bottom of what was going on, but there are two ways around the problem. Firstly, you could modify your PHP script so that it makes a call to set the system timezone.


However, this involves having to modify your code, which is bad as you don’t want to have to set the timezone manually, especially in a piece of code which could be deployed to servers in different timezones.

A better approach is to set it in the vhosts directive in Apache.

php_value "date.timezone" "Europe/Berlin"

This isn’t the cleanest solution but allowed us to solve an otherwise unexplainable error.

That Mitchell & Webb Sound

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012 | Distractions

Peep Show is a brilliant show. That Mitchell & Webb look is a great sketch show too. But in my opinion, the best work they have ever done, isn’t any of the material they are famous for.

For me, the best work they have ever done is actually their Radio 4 series – That Mitchell & Webb Sound. It must have been popular (for Radio 4 at least) as it ran for four series, and each one of them was brilliant.

Highly recommended.

Leeds City Museum

Monday, November 26th, 2012 | Life, Photos

We went to Leeds City Museum to see the Stolen, Saved, Smuggled? exhibit. It was pretty disappointing to be honest.

A Humanist Soup Kitchen?

Sunday, November 25th, 2012 | Public Speaking

For my fifth project in the Toastmaster’s Competent Communicator series, I presented a talk entitled “A Humanist Soup Kitchen?”

This referenced my open letter to David Cameron, inviting him to come and see the Humanist Action Group doing its thing, after he had suggested that no such humanist enterprises existed.

Despite the talk creeping up on me somewhat (mainly due to being ill all the previous weekend), I managed to get everything in shape and took home another Best Speaker ribbon. Good times.


Saturday, November 24th, 2012 | Photos, Religion & Politics

Elina made me a pig. I’ve decided to name it Muhammad.

Four more years

Friday, November 23rd, 2012 | Religion & Politics, Video

Take a deep breath in, we’ve done it!

Another four more years. Then my mum can retire! Also, there was something else that we were celebrating four more years of, but it slips my memory. Here is a bad recording to remind us why…