Thursday, January 29, 2009

Now That's What I Call Advertising

Having decided that I am fascinated by all things bus related, I searched through my postcard collection for a picture of a bus or better still a bus ticket. The best I could find was this Horrocks & Co card of the Royal Exchange, London. From the horse-drawn buses, I suspect that the card dates from the turn of the twentieth century, but I have no precise details. A quick Internet search reveals many other cards featuring the Royal Exchange of a similar vintage, but none - that I could find - featuring the same view. 
A close examination of the photograph shows something slightly odd : most of the buses seem to feature adverts for a firm called Wood Milne and the signs are so clear that it looks as though the original photograph has been doctored. In addition on the reverse of the card there is also a logo - between the words POST and CARD - which proclaims "Wood-Milne Rubber Heel". It appears that the Wood-Milne Rubber Company made a range of goods including car tyres, rubber heels and even early golf balls. It also appears that they produced advertising cards. But these are the subtlest of advertising cards : there is nothing in-your-face about them. To the vast majority of people they are simply colourful scenes. It is only when - 100 years in the future - someone takes out a magnifying glass and realises that the bus adverts look a little strange that the message get home. Now that's what I call advertising.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Just The Ticket - Part 2

After only a couple of days immersed in my new hobby of bus ticket collecting, I have discovered that true collectors are as tribal as football supporters or porcelain collectors. A bus ticket is not just a bus ticket : there are enormous differences in materials, style and colour. These differences start, of course, with the machine that produces the ticket in the first place. The progeny of a Verometer, for example, is as different to the offspring of a Setright Insert, as a kitten is to a puppy. When bus ticket collectors gather together they can often be heard singing "It Started With A Machine" to the tune of old Hot Chocolate song "It Started With A Kiss".
At this point I should declare my own allegiances : I am an "Ultimate Man". This allegiance is in part due to the accident of birth - Bell Punch Ultimate tickets oozed out of the ticket machines of my youth - and partly due to the fact that forty years ago I had a Ultimate ticket machine slung around my youthful shoulders. I was a bus conductor working for Halifax Corporation buses in 1968 and the tickets we issued were issued from these chunky metallic beauties.
Ultimate Ticket Machines were the Armstrong Siddeley's of ticket machines : more expensive to run but having the angled elegance of something that has boundless confidence in its own proportions. Each of the five issuing slots gave birth to a ticket of a different denomination and a different colour. The colour combinations were wonderful and the mauves, pinks and sky blues provide the evocative colours of my youth along with the myriad shades of Crayola Crayons. The small buttons under the ticket slot, when depressed, would allow tickets to by issued two at a time with just one depression of the issuing lever. Thus if, for example, slot one was loaded with 1d tickets, slot two with 2d tickets, three with 3d, four with 4d, and five with 6d tickets, any particular fare would give rise to a colour mixture that even Georges Seurat would have been proud of.
Whilst checking out the history of the Bell Punch Ultimate I came across a link to eBay and I made the discovery that there is currently a Bell Punch Ultimate machine up for auction. As I write there are four days and six hours left and the price has reached £21. This is a bargain and I am monitoring the auction closely. If the price is right I will make a bid. It is the dream of every true Ultimate ticket collector to own a machine. Only time will tell if my dream will come true. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Talking of collections, this bag contains nearly all the plumbing connectors for the rest of our house conversion project...bought on Sunday... took me ages to work out what we'd probably need ...
And we also bought a new TV aerial for the development (the roofer bust the old one in passing) - it's amazingly big once put together!
Why now, you may ask, when the house hasn't yet got its new windows? Ah, because that bit of scaffolding is due down fairly soon - the bit makes it relatively easy to reach the chimney and put up the aerial.
Builder Alan is back on the job, I should explain, after 8 weeks recovering from a broken ankle. Meaning - since I expected him to be off at least another week - I had to race around fitting the under-floor plumbing on the ground floor at the W/E before the flooring got in the way. Talk about deadline working. Still, it got done.
Mind you, I'm now so stiff I'll need a week to recover. Perhaps.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Just The Ticket : Part 1

It's time I took up a new hobby. The other day I was in grave danger of writing something of lasting significance. And then, all of a sudden, I remembered why I retired in the first place so I put my pen away and went in search of a new hobby. It wasn't until I was having a pot of tea with Cousin Dave this morning that I hit on the solution to my search, something to fill the void left by my abandonment of the pastime of lamp post watching. I will become a bus ticket collector.
As a one-time bus conductor I can claim a professional link with the hobby which will make me less of a sad old fool. By going in search of a rare Hebble Bell Punch or an odd East Midland Setright I can rekindle that marvelous community of like-minded eccentrics that I last enjoyed when I became fixated with lamp-posts. And what a community there is : eBay is a hot-bed of colourful vintage tickets and some of the rarer ones can command a price of several hundred pounds at auction. And you would be surprised how many other fellow enthusiasts there are out there. The composer Michael Nyman wrote an entire opera about bus ticket collecting ("Man and Boy : Dada") and there is a society dedicated to the study of tickets (The Transport Ticket Society).
So here I go, launching myself into another journey of discovery. All I need is endless time, an unquenchable curiosity, and - of course - a ticket.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Website Spring Clean

One of the unexpected bonuses of the failure of the new computer - which runs Vista - is that on the old computer - which runs XP - I can once again access Microsoft Front Page and therefore update my website. For the last three months I have been putting off coming to terms with new software, and my return to the old machine means that I can postpone the change for a little longer. So, using the old software, I can now set to and give the website the spring clean it so desperately needs. Watch this space.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Lifelong Addiction

Whilst scanning some old negatives I came across this image. I can pin down the time and the place quite easily : it was taken on a Geography Field Trip to Skipton when I was in the final year of A Levels - 1966. I think I can name two of the three in the picture. On the left is Robert Ludlam and on the right is Stephen Carter. The name of the one in the middle is long gone. I remember the day quite well. We travelled around the town (I seem to recall we were doing some kind of project on it) looking at rivers, hillsides and housing estates, but spent most of the time in the pub. And from the photographic evidence, it looks as if it was the Royal Oak.

I have always liked pubs. I can think of few places where I am happier than sat in a well-upholstered chair, close to a real fire, in a half-decent pub with a decent pint and a decent book. And one of the great sadness's of this current age is that more and more pubs are closing down. A quick Google search shows that the Royal Oak in Skipton is still going. It is time to make more use of that free bus pass of mine and go in search of the past.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Commanding Heights Of The British Economy

In an article in the Daily Telegraph a couple of years ago, Boris Johnson looked back at the sixties and seventies, "when the landscape was heavy with Lefties and .... every member of the Labour Party carried a personal commitment in his or her wallet to the nationalisation of the commanding heights of the British economy". Barmy Boris went on to say that those days were long-gone and the Right had won the battle but warned that Lefties were not dead, just lying dormant. If only I could share Boris' optimistic outlook, but I fear they may be long dead.

I suppose I am what Boris would call a Lefty and back in the sixties and seventies I carried a copy of Clause 4 of the Labour Party around with me (this isn't a descent into iconography, it was printed on the back of your membership card, so if you carried the card you carried the clause). I remember drafting leaflets calling for the nationalisation of "the commanding heights of the British economy". Back when such ideas were popular, the commanding heights were things like the coal mines, the railways and the steel industry. By the sixties many a young Lefty like me was dreaming of the nationalisation of the real commanding heights - the financial institutions. The dreams never came true and we lived to see an era of de-nationalisation come into being. The basic law of Thatcherism was that if it couldn't be privately owned it should not exist.

And now here we are, fifty years later, nationalising the banks and financial institutions with the enthusiasm of an Atlee or a Cripps. Most of the big banks are now in public ownership because the Government has put up the majority of the core funding which is keeping them running. But still idiots of all parties appear on the television saying that we must, under all circumstances, avoid nationalising the banks. Bail them out, by all means, but don't control them. And where are the dormant Lefties rejoicing at the coming into being of their old dream? Where are the signposts rapidly erected by bank workers proclaiming that "This Bank is now owned by the People"? Sadly, they are dead, Boris, long dead.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Fowler In Longtown

Postcard No. 0108 : LONGTOWN
Like most Edwardian postcard collectors, Great Uncle Fowler put together the bulk of his collection during the first decade of the twentieth century. Many of his postcards are addressed to him - Mr Fowler Beanland - at 48 Swan Street, Longtown. Fowler was born in, and spent most of his life in, Keighley West Yorkshire, so what was he doing working in Longtown, Cumbria?
Longtown is close to the border between England and Scotland and was a planned 18th century development rather than a town that grew out of an ancient village community. Its early prosperity was partly due to the importance of sheep : it still boasts the largest sheep market in England, and it had a thriving textile industry in the early nineteenth century. Although the textile industry declined during the later part of the century, there was a thriving bobbin mill in the area until well into the twentieth century and I wonder if this was the reason for Uncle F's presence in the town as his home town of Keighley also had a thriving bobbin-making industry. In the 1901 census, Uncle F - who was still living in Keighley - was listed as a "spindle-maker" - spindles are very closely related to bobbins and there is a good chance that the Longtown bobbin-making factory also made spindles. But the fact that there was a possible job for Fowler in Longtown does not explain why he was there : people didn't move around the country in that way a hundred years ago.
The postcard featured here is an odd one, and I suspect, a home-made one. The "Longtown" title seems to been stamped onto the photograph (indeed, if you look closely stamped twice) and the quality of the card is not of a professional standard. At the centre of the view is a couple with a pram and a clue to their identity can be found in the message on the reverse : 
"From your friends,
Mr and Mrs Gibson, Longtown
See Other Side"
So the mystery continues. Why was Uncle F in Longtown? Who were Mr and Mrs Gibson? Who was the baby's father?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Some Speculative Thoughts

So here we are, it is Friday afternoon, the stock markets are about to close, and a number of banking shares have started to collapse. The BBC News Channel wheels out a series of commentators who attempt to analyse the trend and it is some time before any of them bother to mention the fact that the ban on short-selling ran out this afternoon. Even when asked about the significance of the ban running out, most of the so-called "experts" say that it will have had little or no effect. This is hardly surprising, as these same experts have been calling for an end to the ban for months, repeating and repeating that short-selling had no impact on the collapse of bank share prices last year. As one pin-striped pompous idiot commented the other day, "it can't be significant because the market is always right"
Heaven knows where all this self-delusion comes from, but a significant factor has been the nature of the "commentators" continually given air-time on the BBC News Channel. Anyone who works for a Merchant Bank and looks as though he might own a Porche is invited to present their views to the audience. If the events of the last few months have shown anything, they have shown that such fools are experts at nothing other than losing other people's money.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Free Trade : Then and Now

Postcard 0107 : Watchman, What Of The Night?
When I keep making reference to sorting out Great Uncle Fowlers' postcard collection, I am guilty of a misnomer : whilst the bulk of the collection came from Great Uncle F, I have added to it at various times over the last thirty years or so. About 25 years ago I discovered a source of antique postcards in Rotherham, and the shop - which is long, long gone -had a particularly good selection of "political postcards".
The postcard featured above was published by the National Union of Conservative and Constitutional Associations - the official name of the early twentieth century Conservative Party. It was postally used in January 1910, being sent from Glasgow to Mrs J J Livingston, Market Street, Hollybay, County Monaghan, Ireland from "EL". The cartoon shows a number of stylized "foreigners" (there is an obvious American and a probable Frenchman and a possible German) carrying out "British Capital" from an enclosure marked "British Industries" whilst the watchman, John Bull, sleeps. What looks like a small fire - entitled free trade - seems to have given rise to the fumes which have sent John Bull to sleep.
The debate over free trade - the abolition of protective tariffs so as to provide greater opportunities for competition from imported goods - dominated the British political landscape in the first decade of the twentieth century. The 1906 General Election was known as the "Free Trade Election" as it pitted the Conservative Party (against free trade) against the Liberal Party (in favour of free trade). The postcard featured may have originally been printed for that election, but is more likely to have been printed for the 1910 election campaign where free trade was still an issue (although slightly overshadowed by constitutional reform and the eternal "Irish Question").  The first 1910 election - there was a second election in December - took place between the 15th January and the 10th February. The postcard was posted on the 11th January, just a few days before voting started (back in those days, voting was a lengthy process). Despite a very high turnout, the election resulted in a hung Parliament with just two seats separating the Conservative and Liberal parties. This, in turn, resulted in a second general election later in the year.
Free trade remained an issue throughout the first three decades of the twentieth century, but was largely forgotten in the post-WW2 world of global trading and common markets. With the global economic crisis of 2008/9 some commentators are turning back to the debate looking for similarities with the current situation. But times - and economics - have changed. These particular old arguments are best left to the old postcards.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

What's On The Pod?

It is some time since I featured my "Podcast of the Year" and "Podcast of the Month" awards, having discontinued these regular features following the onset of KOD (Kiss of Death) syndrome. With what became alarming regularity, the makers/producers of my winning entry would go bankrupt, cease trading or drop dead, and therefore in the interests of podcasters everywhere I stopped handing out the Golden Pod. However, I thought I might try and get away with simply mentioning what podcasts I am listening to at the moment and hope that this does not result in any negative repercussions to those thus mentioned. 
The podcast I tend to turn to first of all each day is the regular Archers podcast. To readers living outside the UK I probably need to point out that "The Archers" is a radio soap opera that has been running for well over 50 years as claims to tell "an everyday story of country folk". I suspect that country-folk have good grounds for taking legal action over their depiction, and the daily 15 minute installments are compulsive as they are annoying. Personally, I wouldn't bother listening to it each day, but Amy the dog is hooked and it is as much her walk as it is mine.
The name is a bit confusing as "Football Weekly" is transmitted twice a week during the football season. The football coverage from the regular panel of commentators can be confusing as well but it is great fun and splendidly informative. You can pick up the kind of specialist information, glorious gossip and insightful analysis which you can then regurgitate later on in the pub  and which will make you the envy of your contemporaries. Another thing in its favour is its willingness to cover more than just the English leagues, with regular features on football in Spain, Italy, Germany and, occasionally, even further afield.
This is a weekly 30 minute podcast from the BBC and it is a seasonal thing so it is off-air at certain times of the year. But when it is available it is well worth a down-load. It's stated aim is to look behind some of the statistics which are endlessly quoted in the press and broadcast media and examine the mathematics of them. In the majority of cases (mind you, the statistical significance of this claim might need checking out) robust statistical claims crumble into spinning dust before your very ears. It sounds geeky but it is hugely entertaining.
An American news podcast for the Obama era and probably the best news podcast going out anywhere in the world at the moment. It is the audio version of what is an audiovisual broadcast so you get the occasional annoying reference to "the pictures you are seeing now". Nevertheless, it is informative, grown-up, and capable of providing a valuable insight into what is happening in America. If only there was a British equivalent : unfortunately there isn't.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Monuments To Times Gone By

Jane and Edwin came this weekend and on Saturday we went along to Andy Thornton's Architectural Antiques Mill at West Vale near Halifax. Andy Thornton's is quite a substantial business which has been built up over the last thirty years and which specialises in buying bits of old buildings and selling them on for restaurants, pubs and footballers' houses. Almost everything is available somewhere within the six-floor mill complex, including outdoor monuments, oak-panelled rooms, and church furnishings. 
You get a weird feeling going around the place - like being in a museum where everything has a price-tag (quite literally). But you have to ask where the market for such things is going to go to in these troubled times. 
Perhaps the whole business will finish up as a double monument : the antiques are a monument to a bygone age - the hefty price-tags and the unsold stock are a monument to a collapsing market.

Friday, January 09, 2009

The Shape Of The Ball

My attempts to catalogue Uncle F's postcard collection takes me to a postcard which dates back to 1910. It shows the Longtown Eskdale Football Club along with their trophies. At first I assumed that it was a soccer club - there are eleven players after all - but on closer examination the shape of the ball seems to suggest a rugby football team. The only other reference to the postcard I can find is in a listing in the National Archives, but there it is simply listed as "Longtown Eskdale Football Club And Trophies Outside Bowls Pavilion". So are we talking about round balls, oval balls or weighted balls?

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Huddersfield Station : Then And Now

This postcard is not from Uncle Fowlers' collection : I actually bought it on e-Bay just a couple of days ago. It must date from either the late 1930s or the 1940s - one of the defining factors is the statue of Sir Robert Peel which had been erected in 1873 but removed in 1949 due to its poor condition. The modern photograph shows more or less the same scene today. Until a couple of months ago there would have been another Prime-Ministerial statue in the place where Peel formally stood, but the modern statue of Harold Wilson has been removed in order to move it further down St Georges' Square.  The main station building has had a clean-up, but little else has changed. The clock looks the same, but I'm no horologist so I am prepared to be corrected on that.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

What Did You Learn In School Today?

So do kids like going to school any more? The thought is prompted by two stories I have read over recent days in the press. The first comes from the UK and is one of those you have a "loony" tag description in your account for. A new £4.7 million school in Sheffield is to be branded "a place for learning" rather than a "school" as the latter term as negative connotations. According to the Guardian article, the headteacher of Sheffield's Watercliffe Meadow, Linda Kingdon, said "We were able to start from scratch and create a new type of learning experience. There are no whistles or bells or locked doors. We wanted to de-institutionalise the place and bring the school closer to real life." 
The surprise is, of course, that anyone can believe that you bring an intuition closer to real life by adopting this particular approach to re-branding. No doubt the press will label it as "political correctness" but it isn't. It is in a direct descendant of the concept of corporate re-branding : the belief that change comes about by tinkering with images. It is, of course, rubbish (or perhaps that should be "down-river pre-recyclable detritus").
According to an article in yesterday's Washingtom Post, kids in America have a far more robust attitude to school. The piece tells the story of a six-year old from Northern Neck, Virginia who missed the school bus one morning and therefore decided to drive his parent's Ford Taurus van to school. The kid managed to drive the van - standing at the wheel as he was too small to sit - for over 10 miles before skidding and hitting a utility pole. He negotiated road intersections, overtook a number of other cars, and navigated almost all the way to the school before swerving off the road to avoid a truck. On being interviewed, the kid - who was anxious not to miss his PE lesson - said that he simply made use of the skills he had learnt playing the computer game "Grand Theft Auto". Heart-lifting, isn't it.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The Modern Lochinvar

So we turn to the next postcard in Uncle Fowlers' collection. The picture is an illustration entitled "Young Lochinvar and Fair Bride Escaping From Netherby Hall" and contains a verse from the epic poem by Sir Walter Scott. The reverse contains another poem : this one penned - as far as I can make out - by Great Uncle Fowler himself. It is entitled "The Modern Lochinvar" and must have been written in the early years of the twentieth century when motor cars were still a rare sight on the roads of Britain. Here it is, published for the first time!    
The Modern Lochinvar 
When young Lochinvar rode out from the west, 
He claimed that his automobile was the best. 
It was painted dark red, and it brilliantly shone, 
He went like a streak, and he rode all alone, 
He shot over ruts, with zipp and a jar, 
And people fled madly from young Lochinvar.   
He stayed not at bridged, 
He stopped not for stone, 
He calmly took all the roads as his own, 
'Till he came to a crossing and smashed through a gate, 
And endeavoured to butt through a train load of freight"   
It will now be quite clear to everyone where I get my poetic abilities from!

Monday, January 05, 2009

101 Cruises To Take Before You Die

Alexander very kindly bought me a book for Christmas - "1001 Historic Sites You Must See Before You Die". It is the kind of book I like to read in the morning as I drink my morning cuppa and munch my Kit-Kat (am I the only person who finds that it has to be novels at bedtime and non-fiction at dawn?). The book ticks all the boxes for a morning book : short, self-contained pieces, plenty of photographs, rich subject matter. However, I have to confess, I am finding the book slightly depressing. So far I have got to page 52 - and there are either one or two sites per page - and I have not got to one place I have actually visited. This leaves an awful lot to do in a very few years.
I have to confess, that this morning I cheated, flicking quickly through the coming pages until I found a site I had visited. Not until page 134 will you come across a place I have actually been to (the Panama Canal). Based on a rough statistical calculation, even if luck and good health is on my side, I am going to have to tick off historical sites at a rate of one a week to be able to die in the knowledge that I have done my duty. The depressing thing is that as time goes by, and historic sites are left unvisited, the average goes up at an alarming rate rather like the runs-per-over average in a fading test match.
On the strength of this depressing prediction I have decided to do something about it and we have therefore booked a second cruise. Not only will I be able to tick off places such as Split and Corfu in the summer, I will be able to chalk up a host a Central American cities next January as well. One of the most exciting things about the new cruise we have booked is that it will take me to the Pacific for the first time - thus helping out with the far more realistic "5 Oceans To See Before You Die". But in these cold, dismal days of January, a far nicer thought, and a far more tempting challlenge, is "101 Cruises To Take Before You Die".

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Hazel Thompson : Then And Now

So I turned over the next of Great Uncle Fowlers' postcards only to discover that it wasn't a picture of a street, building or stream, but an Edwardian pin-up.  The picture shows Miss Hazel Thompson posing in a fetching green dress and holding a bunch of red roses. Well, mostly holding : for some reason she is sitting on one of them (could this be some kind of erotic Edwardian language of flowers?).
But the main question is - who on earth was Hazel Thompson and where can I find her now so that I can take an up-to-date photograph of her and compare it with the one from the album? I suspect the answer to the question would involve me in grave-robbing.
But it would be wonderful to know what became of her. The Internet is of little use : the few references there are to her all point towards similar picture postcards. But someone must know. Any offers?

Friday, January 02, 2009

North Street Then And Now

So where was I before all that New Year Resolution stuff got in the way? Did I ever tell you about my Great Uncle Fowler? He had a wonderful postcard collection which he must have put together around the turn of the twentieth century. For some reason I inherited it and it keeps me happy and occupied in my old age. Browsing through it over the Christmas holidays I came  across the above postcard which shows North Street, Keighley. The message on the back gives no clue to the date. The postcard is from my grandfather, Albert Beanland, to his brother Fowler Beanland and the message makes mention of getting excited about a football match which ended in a draw. 
The picture gives a few more clues as to the date. North Street was one of the main thoroughfares of Keighley and was originally laid out in the eighteenth century. However it was not until the 1890s that many of the grand buildings that line the street in the view above  were built. The prominent building with the tower in the centre of the picture was the Keighley Mechanics Institute which played a central role in the history of the town. Whilst the Institute was opened in 1870, the clock tower wasn't added until 1892. The Temperance Hall - which can just be made out on the opposite site of North Street - was built in 1896, providing another time clue. In the foreground on the right are Burlington Buildings which were erected in 1891, whilst the buildings on the left date from a few years earlier. North Street was widened in 1901 and the broad pavement on the left became part of the road, so we know the photograph predates that change. So the best guess would be about 1898.
So what has become of North Street? I wasn't sure how much had changed over the last 110 years, so this morning I set off for Keighley to check out the changes. The following photograph reproduces - as far as possible without getting run over by standing in the middle of the main road - the image in the postcard. With the exception of the Mechanics Institute tower - which was destroyed by fire in 1962 - little seems to have changed as far as the fabric of the buildings is concerned. Some of the uses have changed however, for example the Temperance Institute is now a Wetherspoons pub called The Livery Room!
The exercise of tracking down the changes has been fascinating. I can hardly wait to turn over the next of Uncle Fowlers' postcards and see where the scene leads me to.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Opinions Count

Well here we are with a new year and a new resolution to try and vary these postings so that not all of them seem to be endlessly droning on about some long-dead fifteenth cousin twice removed. Fascinating as I find the adventures of Kate Kellam and WH Usher, I concede that not everyone shares my strange interest. So this year I will try to cast my inter-net a little wider and provide readers with a broad church of memories, comments, chance discoveries and shameless opinions.
And talking of opinions ..... You may recall that at some point last year I set up an experiment to see how feasible it would be to make money out of the Internet. I launched three projects, each designed to make me into a dot-com millionaire. First, I set up my own Amazon bookshop so that I could earn money from all the books I bought and persuaded others to buy. Secondly I introduced advertising onto my various blogs so that I would receive a payment every time a visitor clicked on one of the many hyperlinks. And third, I enrolled with YouGov to fill-in fascinating on-line opinion surveys. I said I would let the projects run until the end of the year and then see which had been the most successful. Here then, are the results. Shop : The shop started brightly but soon became too much of a burden. Thus the stock was hardly ever changed and remains an eclectic mixture of curious books, plastic sandals, and satnav equipment. I must confess I abandoned hope for the Amazon project when I discovered that I did not receive commission on my own purchases. It is therefore no great surprise that I have to announce that the total earnings for this project for 2008 were £1.97p
YouGov : With YouGov you fill in opinion surveys and get paid for doing so. The payment is never very great (about 50p or 75p) and you don't get paid for all the surveys you fill in. The up-side of the project is that this is a genuine opinion survey from a respected organisation and not a means by which some firm can pester you to sell you double-glazing. The down-side is that it can be monumentally boring. Over the last twelve months I seem to have endlessly reported that I wouldn't buy a second-hand Sim card from Carphone Warehouse but with an endearing optimism they keep on asking me my opinion of the firm. However, YouGov has been a big earner, bringing in during 2008 the magnificent sum of £7.75p
Adsense : Google's Adsense service is delightfully easy to set-up and operate. Once you have incorporated the widget on your blog or webpage you just sit back and watch the money roll in. You have little choice over which adverts appear on your page but Google is a sensible company and you are spared the more embarrassing end of the spectrum. Indeed, it has become a favourite hobby of mine to see what adverts are connected up with whatever subject I am rattling on about. Interesting as it is, it has not been a massive money-earner. In 2008, clickers have earned me $2.34c and even if the exchange rate was to continue to collapse, this is never going to come within clicking distance of YouGov.
Therefore, quite clearly, YouGov has been the winner. I am actively looking for candidates for a second-round of this competition and any suggestions will be gratefully received. In the meantime, all I can say is that opinions do count after all ..... but only £7.75p's worth.

Black Friar

For a time, during the late 1970s, I had a job leading parties of foreign visitors on tours of historic London pubs. One of my favourite sto...