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A wry view of life for the world-weary

Monthly Archives: July 2015

A New Day Yesterday – Part Six

elemental

I am well into the next phase of my pre-tirement plan – down to three days a week and, I must say, it is working well. When I am at work I find that a good portion of my time is filled not with the normal power lunches in which we lay plans for the world domination of the financial services industry but rather by ambling down the pleasant byways in the direction of nostalgia. Many of my contemporaries, unsurprisingly, are laying their plans for escaping the rat-race and it is instructive to compare notes.

And then there are the retirement gatherings. These are events that hitherto, rather like school reunions, I would have run a mile from but as my own retirement becomes every day more imminent there is a grim appeal to them. I know the attendees of these events are self-selecting – after all, you would only trouble to haul your carcass up to the City if you were fit and able – but the over-arching impression of those assembled is that they represent the epitome of rude health. A common theme of their conversation is that in their desire to keep busy and active in retirement they find that they have over committed and after a year of or so find that they have to wind down some of their post-retirement activities. The concept of retiring from retirement is an intriguing one.

A man must have a hobby, they say, and one of the benefits of having a leisurely approach to retirement is that it gives me time to determine how I will spend my leisure time. Drinking has always been a feature of my life, mainly bitters, and with a bit more time on my hands I have decided to broaden my experience and educate my palette. I’m not much of a spirits drinker – I have dabbled with whisky and whilst I like it, it doesn’t like me – I think you need a greater body mass index reading than I have to combat the effect on your innards – and a G&T is usually my tipple of choice.

Having previously only drunk the bog-standard gins produced by Gordon and the like I decided to see what all the fuss about so-called premium gins is all about. Rather like the suffix organic the first thing to note is that any gin with premium attached to its label retails at about twice the price of the ordinary stuff. Whilst in St Ives I found a delightful wine shop called Johns and after some deliberation decided on a bottle of Elemental Cornish Gin.

One evening I decided to sample (ie two stiff doubles) the hooch. The bottle has an appealingly stubby appearance and the top was sealed with wax and had a stopper, plastic rather than cork. Pouring the liquid into a glass with a couple of large ice cubes I took in the aromas and I must say that it smelt very different from the industrial gins I’m used to – a sort of peppery aroma. Adding a splash of tonic – it doesn’t do to drown the spirit – I took my first sip and, wow, what a difference. There was a subtle blend of tastes with more than a hint of citrus to the fore at the beginning but turning to a more bitter but immensely pleasurable aftertaste. The more I drank the more pronounced were the bitter flavours and, frankly, it took all of my iron will to limit myself to the two doubles I had allowed myself.

Organic English grain alcohol and up to 12 different botanicals are used in the mix which is then watered down with Cornish spring water to an acceptable 42% proof. Only 80 bottles are made per batch. I suppose I should go the whole hog and buy premium tonics – Fever-Tree seems to be the trendy one at the moment – make my ice cubes out of spring mineral water and use only organically grown lemons but, even for me, that may be a tad excessive.

Anyway, I am now on the hunt for other premium gins to try. Cheers!

Quacks Pretend To Cure Other Men’s Disorders But Rarely Find A Cure For Their Own – Part Twenty Five

silverton

The Rev E.J.Silverton

Quacks come in all shapes and sizes but the key characteristics of a successful practitioner are a veneer of respectability, a cure that appeals to people’s concerns, a good marketing pitch and an impressive bunch of testimonials. Many of the quacks who have come under our microscope have, in some form or other, met these criteria. Someone styling himself a Reverend – and there is no reason to doubt that Silverton wasn’t a man of the Protestant cloth – would seem to be on a winner from the start.

As well as comfort for the soul Silverton had developed what he marketed as the Food of Foods. According to advertisements he was making available to the general public this wondrous manna which provided “wonderful cures of deafness and noises in the head and ears, affections of the eyes, neuralgic pains, indigestion, constipation, blood diseases, kidney and liver complaints, gout and rheumatism, bronchitis, asthma, consumption, general weakness and wasting and (of course) many other diseases”. So appealing did this panacea seem that Silverton who was billed as coming from London – always something likely to impress a provincial audience – was able to hire the Free Trade Hall in Manchester in 1884 for a series of lectures and free consultations. Silverton was a marketing genius and his pamphlets were full of positive and glowing testimonials, the adverts placed in the newspapers were, for the time, slick and there was an implication that Silverton was a friend of the Prince of Wales – as we have seen before, a royal connection is always a plus.

Alas, it was whilst he was in Manchester that Silverton encounter someone who would prove to be his nemesis – one Detective Sergeant Jerome Caminada of the Manchester city police who saw it as his duty to expose con men such as the Rev. When Silverton was in Manchester Caminada went to see him in disguise, limping heavily and claiming that something was wrong with his foot. Silverton checked his pulse and tongue, completely ignoring the foot, and diagnosed a case of rheumatism for which the cure was, surprise surprise, the Food of Foods which was available for the princely sum of 35 shillings, around twice the average weekly wage.

Caminada sent two assistants to visit the quack with different symptoms but the remedy was identical. Upon analysis the panacea proved to be little more than a mix of lentils, bran, flour and water. Armed with this evidence Caminada obtained a summons against Silverton for conspiracy to defraud but our quack proved a slippery fish and the stipendiary magistrate failed to bring a criminal case against him.

Notwithstanding this Caminada continued to stalk Silverton wherever he popped up, endeavouring to have his newspaper ads pulled and issuing him with summons. But Silverton was quicker than the law and he and his daughter continued to practise their quackery for around thirty years in all with some significant success.

Silverton died in Nottingham in 1895 aged 60. The local newspaper contains a report of his well-attended funeral and the moving eulogy delivered there. Presumably the congregation were blissfully unaware of that the late lamented clergyman was a quack extraordinaire.

Book Corner – July 2015 (3)

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The Fall of the Ottomans – Eugene Rogan

I owe you all an apology. A few months ago I vowed that I would not read another book about the First World War but then this tome came along which documents the war in the Middle East from 1914 to 1920.

In my defence whilst the savagery of the settlement documented in the Treaty of Versailles lit a simmering fuse which ignited German resentment and nationalism thus causing the second World War, many of the geo-political fault lines which are causing the world so much trouble in the Middle east owe their origin to the cavalier imperialism of the English and French in determining the shape of territories without much reference to the indigenous peoples. The most egregious example of that, the so-called Sykes-Picot agreement features heavily today in ISIS propaganda as something they are looking to eradicate. Indeed, their caliphate in Mesopotamia was in direct response to the agreement. Enough of my apologia!

By the start of the First World War the Ottoman Empire was already on its knees, having lost control (to disastrous effect) of the Balkans and a group of aggressive modernisers, the CUP or “Young Turks” staged a coup with the intentions of restoring the empire to its former glory. They sided with the Germans and Austrians and their early campaigns to recover lost territories in the Caucasus and to recapture Egypt ended in humiliating defeats resulting in large-scale and tragic loss of life. For Western strategists looking for success to counterbalance the grinding stalemate on the Western fronts, attacking the weakest member of the enemy had its attractions.

Uppermost in the thinking of the British was the fear of a jihad – one of the aims of the Young Turks was to foment uprisings amongst the Moslem communities of which one of the largest was in unpartitioned India – and an overpowering desire to secure the sea passages to India. Seen in this context an attack at the heart of the Ottoman empire – on the Dardanelles – made some kind of sense. But the need for cannon fodder on the Western front always meant that there were few spare resources for other theatres and losses elsewhere had a detrimental effect on the ability to persecute the campaigns in France and Belgium.

The tragic Gallipoli campaign has been recounted on numerous occasions but mainly from the Western/ANZAC perspective. Rogan switches the emphasis as much to the suffering of the Ottoman troops who, although ultimately victorious (after a fashion), retained control of their territory at enormous cost.

The Young Turks were paranoid and concerned about the presence of fifth columnists in their territory, none more so than the Armenians, some of whom had displayed support for the Russians. The forced migration of Armenian communities and the death marches rightly feature prominently in Rogan’s account.

The Young Turks’ aim at playing on the Western imperial powers’ fears of jihad eventually rebounded on them. The Arabs, who themselves were viewed as potential fifth columnists by the paranoid Turks, were persuaded by British promises which were lacking in actualite to revolt and this, together with the activities of one T E Lawrence, enabled successful campaigns to be launched in Mesopotamia and Egypt.

After the war the demise of the empire was quick. But the sultan was willing to cede too much territory to the victors, prompting his deposition, a civil war, the rise of Kamal Ataturk and the establishment of what is now modern-day Turkey.

Rogan’s account is comprehensive, well written but in a monotone. There are some fabulous characters and eccentrics in the story as well as truly horrendous human tragedies. Rogan’s brush paints them all the same. Still, if you want to understand the region you would do worse than starting here.

Forty Days And Forty Nights – Part Ten

polio

Poliomyelitis

Thanks to vaccine development, astonishingly as late as 1952 courtesy of Jonas Salk and of the now more commonly used oral polio vaccine through Albert Sabin and licensed in 1962, cases of paralytic poliomyelitis caused by endemic transmission of poliovirus are pretty much a thing of the past. But the legacy of this disease remains, polio survivors making up one of the largest groups of people with disability today.

Although major polio epidemics didn’t manifest themselves until the early part of the 20th century, there is clear evidence that polio has been around for a long time. Carvings and paintings from Ancient Egypt show otherwise healthy adults with withered limbs and children walking with the aid of sticks. To prove that the disease was no respecter of status it is thought that the Roman emperor, Claudius, was an early sufferer and the novelist, Sir Walter Scott, can lay claim to being the first recorded victim of polio. He developed “a severe teething fever which deprived him of the power of his right leg” and, indeed, the disease was known in the early 19th century as Dental Paralysis.

Michael Underwood in 1789 provided the first clinical description of polio, calling it “a debility of the lower extremities” but it was not until 1840 that the first medical report on it was produced (by Jakob Heine) and 1890 before an empirical study into an epidemic had been carried out (by Karl Oskar Medin).

Prior to 1900 major epidemics were unknown but in the first decade of that century localised paralytic polio epidemics appeared in Europe and the United States. By 1910 epidemics were a regular occurrence, particularly in the summer months in major conurbations. At its peak in the 1940s and 50s polio would kill or paralyse upwards of half a million people a year.

Probably the most (in)famous epidemic was that announced in Brooklyn on June 17th 1916. In that year there were over 2,000 deaths in the city of New York alone. This announcement coupled with the press printing the names and addresses of the victims and the (re)introduction of quarantine engendered a climate of panic. Thousands fled the city, cinemas were closed, meetings cancelled and children were warned to avoid drinking from public water fountains and to eschew swimming pools and beaches.

It was the youngsters who were most at risk – the peak age for contracting polio in the United States in 1950 was between 5 and 9 years of age, although a third of those who contracted the disease were over 15 years old. Prior to the development of the vaccines treatment was rudimentary. The first approach was quarantine and cardboard placards were placed in windows warning all and sundry that a sufferer was quarantined inside. A fine of up to $100 was levied in 1909 on those breaching the terms of the quarantine or for removing a placard.

From 1928 when it was first used in a Children’s Hospital in Boston until the 1970s polio victims were often encased in the metal chambers of an Iron Lung, often for months or years or, indeed, for their duration of their lifetime. This fearsome machine assisted the patients in their breathing and whilst the various manifestations of the Lung undoubtedly saved lives, they were costly – about the price of an average house – and cumbersome and, frankly, offered the patient a miserable existence.

Perhaps the most famous survivor of polio was Franklin D Roosevelt who contracted the disease in 1921 and his campaigning and establishment of the March of Dimes did much to improve the lot of polio survivors.

I Don’t Want To Belong To Any Club That Will Accept People Like Me As A Member – Part Ten

sydney

The King of Clubs

The King of Clubs was founded in February 1798 by a group of friends meeting at James Mackintosh’s house but constituted as a club by 1801, the brain-child of the elder brother of the famous English wit and fellow member, the Rev Sydney Smith, Robert aka Bobus. He earned his sobriquet because of his excellence at knocking out perfect Latin hex and pentameters, an undervalued skill I always think.

At the time when politics was split between Whigs and Tories, the King of Clubs was firmly in the Whig camp and was known around the metropolis as a dining club where you would hear and engage in erudite conversation across all manner of subjects but principally around books, authors and literature. You were sure to be dazzled by wit and erudition, the club being described by one contemporary as “a gathering-place of brilliant talkers, dedicated to the meetings of the reigning wits of London”. One topic was banned, the one that bound them together, politics!

The club seems to have met on a Saturday and one of the venues it frequented was in Harley Street where sumptuous dinners were held at the cost to members of the princely sum of 10 shillings and six pence. However, over time the club settled on the Crown and Anchor which was at the Fleet Street end of the Strand, on what is now Arundel Street. Membership was not cheap. The original subscription was 2 guineas although this was reduced to £2 in 1804, rising again to 3 guineas in 1808 and settling at £3 from 1810. Nevertheless, membership was highly sought after and in 1808 it was decided that the club would be restricted to thirty persons, all of whom had to be resident in England.

Sometimes you could become a member without the requisite wit and repartee. In 1810 Sydney Smith reported that they had elected an importer and writer, one Mr Baring, on the condition that he lends £50 to any member when applied to!”

By 1819 the club had moved to the Freemasons’ Tavern and then to Grillions in Albemarle Street and latterly to the Clarendon Hotel. Despite the high cost of the dinners, accounts from the club suggest they represented very good value. One dinner for twelve members cost £24 and included two bottles of Madeira, two bottles of Port and three bottles of Claret. The availability of so much hooch doubtless added to the conviviality of the occasion and the flow of conversation.

Rather like guests appearing on modern-day “ad lib” panel shows members were expected to prepare bon-mots, witticisms and anecdotes which they would weave into their conversation at appropriate moments to achieve maximum effect. There were some perils in adopting this approach as the experience of one Mr Boddington shows. Boddington had carelessly left his notes lying around and one of the leading lights, Richard “Conversation” Sharp, alighted on them. He made a note of all the stories and took particular delight in recounting each of them before the hapless Boddington could open his mouth.

So taken by their wit and conversation that one member suggested that they should be recorded in a magazine, the Bachelor, even suggesting that there was enough material for a twice-weekly edition. Nothing came of it and so little remains of their sparkling wit. All this cleverness was not to everyone’s taste and contemporary evidence suggests that the club became a parody of its former self, where show outweighed substance. After a quarter of a century the club folded but as one member reminisced, “our King of Club days with Mackintosh, Bobus, Dumont and Romilly were days that the Gods might envy!

Criminals Of The Week

oldperson

Over the last few weeks I have been shining the spotlight on the derring-do of our older generation, mainly to proffer hope to all that the irresistible progress of time doesn’t necessarily equate to the dimming of the flame.

But I read a disturbing story this week about a crime wave in Japan. The National Police Agency has started to publish age-related crime data and what has emerged is that the old Bill has taken action against 23,000 people over the age of 65 in the first half of 2015 whereas fewer than 20,000 teenagers had their collars felt in the same period.

Although crime rates generally are falling in the land of the rising sun, the number of crimes committed by the over-65s has risen by 10% over the same period last year. The South Koreans have reported the same phenomenon.

Of course, there are a number of ways of looking at this news. Either there really is a booming crime-wave amongst delinquent pensioners or, as I mentioned a little while ago, some crimes require skills only resident in the older criminal fraternity or they just can’t flee the scene of the crime as quickly as their younger counterparts.

Next time you see a pensioner coming at you in their wheelchair with a fixed and determined look, watch out. You have been warned!

Monarch Of The Week

hen

Whether it will turn out to be an annus horribilis or not is too early to tell but for her Maj it has been a pretty bloody few days. No sooner had the nation recovered from the shock of seeing her engaged in what might euphemistically be called high-spirited japes in the 1930s – we now know where her grandson gets his predilection for dressing up in Nazi uniforms from – than we learn that she was involved in a road rage incident.

Taking an innocent stroll through Windsor Great Park last Sunday Toby Core and Scarlett Vincent were shocked to see a Jaguar X-type estate coming their way and then swerving on to the grass to avoid them. The driver of course was her Maj – I cannot confirm reports that in order to restore political balance she greeted her subjects with a Churchillian salute – in a hurry to get to church on time. In days of yore, of course, a minor shock was the least the great unwashed would experience if they got in the way of their monarch.

It may be that her Maj is lonely following the announcement that she will not be keeping any more corgis once the remaining two shuffle off this mortal coil. Apparently at her advanced age she is frightened of tripping over them or, more likely, of her daughter running over any more. Still she could sign up for an innovative scheme launched by Notting Hill Housing and backed by David Cameron and Boris Johnson, the kiss of death if there ever was one, to give lonely old codgers a hen to look after. Keeping a hen, the do-gooders claim, helps tackle social isolation, reduce depression and improve wellbeing. I suspect in these days of austerity cost-cutting is behind this initiative – care homes report a reduction in anti-psychotic medication when hens are in use and, of course, a fresh egg a day will reduce the catering bills.

It is a strange world we live in.

The Streets Of London – Part Twenty Three

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Carting Lane, WC2R

Just off the Strand and adjacent to the Savoy, running down to the Thames, is a rather unprepossessing street, Carting Lane, which is known pejoratively by the locals as Farting Lane. Step out of the side entrance of the Coal Hole – my favourite pub in the Strand area and so-called because it was originally the coal cellar for the Savoy. It became the venue for a song and supper club where comical and sentimental songs were performed with Gilbert and Sullivan a regular turn – and you are in the lane.

If you look down towards the river you will see on the right a lamp with a spike on top and a glass container for the light, looking for all the world like a beached and anorexic lighthouse. But it is this light – it even has a name, Iron Lily – that is the main feature of this otherwise mundane thoroughfare because it is London’s last remaining Webb Sewer Lamp. Alas, it is not the original which was done for by a reversing lorry but a replica, faithfully restored, which is now under the protection of Westminster Council.

The Webb Sewer lamp was invented by one Joseph Webb of Birmingham in the early 1890s and the first was erected in Guest Street in his home city in 1894. Without getting too technical, methane collects at the top of a sewer. This ready supply of gas was diverted from the sewer to the lamp to power it – an early example of recycling. As with many green devices, the power derived from the waste products had to be supplemented – in this case by the ordinary gas supply. Nonetheless, the lamp shone for twenty-four hours a day seven days a week.

Smells emanating from the sewers were a major problem in the Victorian era, particularly in built-up areas where the height and proximity of buildings made it difficult to disperse the fumes effectively. The Sewer lamp was an enterprising solution to the problem because it burnt off the smells and germs from the sewer and by recycling a waste product provided a cheap and relatively maintenance free – as they didn’t switch on or off there was no need for any switch mechanisms or timing devices – form of lighting the streets of London.

It is not known exactly how many of these lamps were erected in London – the records of the Webb Lamp Company were destroyed in a fire – but large orders were certainly placed by the councils of Westminster, Hampstead and Shoreditch. Although they must have been a common place sight in parts of London contributing to the distinctive aromas of the metropolis their days in the sun were fairly short in number as electric lighting became the vogue in the early twentieth century.

Although it is an urban myth that the lamp was run entirely on the fumes from the sewers a flue did draw up methane from there to burn along with gas from the mains. As much of the contents of the sewers must have been passed by the pampered guests of the Savoy rather than the working classes of inner London, it is intriguing to speculate whether their diet imbued the methane lighting Iron Lily with a different aroma than that emanating from other Sewer Lamps powered by the effluent of souls on poorer diets. After all, if you are used to a horrible stench, something different will be all the more noticeable and, perhaps, disagreeable.

Perhaps the combination of the provenance of the supply, the name of the street and the distinctiveness of the aroma persuaded a wag to substitute F for C. We will never know for sure.

Motivated By Curiosity And A Desire For Truth – Part Six

egg

There is something curiously (pun intended) appealing about literalism, the state of mind that brooks no deviation from the meaning in front of you. There is no need for curious speculation or theorising – all the hard graft of noodling around a concept has been done for you. In many ways, fundamentalism is easy-street for the brain.

We take so much for granted in our diurnal existence and make comments without hesitating to ponder on whether there is any truth in them. In particular, we pep up our speech with similes, rarely taking the time to examine whether the comparators are apt. Thank heavens, though, there are members of the scientific community who have the time to help us on our way.

To illustrate this point I came across some research conducted by Messrs Fonstad, Pugatch and Vogt of the Geography Departments of Texas State and Arizona State Universities. We often use the phrase, such and such is as flat as a pancake – rarely, it seems to me in a positive context – but we rarely stop to consider whether that is actually true. Our brave researchers sought to demonstrate whether the mid-Western state of Kansas is really as flat as a pancake as is popularly suggested.

To conduct the experiment the researchers bought themselves a well-cooked pancake and took from it a 2 centimetre sample strip which had not had time to dry out. Using digital image processing they took a digitised image of the pancake’s cross-sectional surface.

Kansas was a bit trickier but the intrepid team accessed data from a digital elevation model compiled by the United States Geographical Survey and from that measured a west-east profile across Kansas. Using a geographic information system they were able to extract surface transects and flatness estimates from the digital elevation model data for both the pancake and for Kansas.

The next step was to compare the two but before doing that they assigned a value of 1.0000 to perfect flatness. Calculating the flatness of the transects of the two comparators they found that the flatness value for the pancake was 0.957 – pretty flat but not the epitome of flatness – whereas the corresponding value for Kansas was 0.997. So Kansas is flatter than a pancake.

What would be helpful is if this research was extended to other jurisdictions so that, if we take 0.957 as the value for the flatness of a pancake, we can establish which territory has an equivalent value. Then we could develop a simile which would satisfy the literalists, the scientists and the curious alike.

On a vaguely related topic philosophers and idlers have wondered which came first, the chicken or the egg. The only way to settle this thorny problem is to conduct an experiment and this is exactly what Alice Shirrell Kaswell did. Taking a chicken and an egg, appropriately wrapped and documented, to her local post office in Cambridge, Massachusetts. At 9.40 am on the Monday both packages were accepted by the post office and were sent on their merry way to a Post Office adjacent to Penn Station in the Big Apple.

Both consignments didn’t arrive until the Wednesday but the chicken arrived in the morning (at 10.31) whereas the egg didn’t appear until the evening (9.37pm). So there we have it, empirically the chicken came before the egg.

Isn’t science wonderful?!

If you enjoyed this why not check out Fifty Curious Questions by Martin Fone. Available now. Just follow any of the links

http://www.authorhouse.co.uk/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001142053

http://www.authorhouse.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001142053

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fifty-Curious-Questions-Pabulum-Enquiring/dp/1546280022/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1501840203&sr=8-1&keywords=fifty+curious+questions

https://www.amazon.com/Martin-Fone/e/B0034Q4HM4

http://bookreadermagazine.com/fifty-curious-questions/

Still The Master

still

Still – Richard Thompson

Rather like seeing the first house martins return or hearing the sound of leather hitting willow there is something profoundly comforting and quintessentially English about laying your hands on Richard Thompson’s latest release. By my reckoning, Still is Thompson’s 16th solo album, discounting live albums and compilations – an enormous catalogue by any standards and that is without counting the five albums he made with the Fairports and the six with (then wife) Linda Thompson.

Inevitably after such a long and illustrious career Thompson has a certain style and in less capable hands his music could become somewhat formulaic. You expect blistering solos from an electric guitarist and Thompson doesn’t disappoint but instead of becoming over-indulgent or gratuitous (think Mark Knopfler) they seem just right. Odd tunings and a range of picking styles keep us on our toes and add variety to the mix.

You don’t listen to Thompson for a feel-good factor. His lyrics are stark and full of gloom and doom. His characters are often striving, never satisfied, sometimes cruel and there is often a dark edge to his observations. But his lyrics are also sincere and full of insight. His writing is at its weakest when he sets out to pen an intentionally jolly song.

For this album he has called on the production talent of Jeff Tweedy of Wilco fame – Tweedy also plays on some of the tracks – but the change of producer has made little discernible change to the sound of the album. Perhaps it sounds a little more immediate and the production is a little more sparing but the differences are miniscule.

As always we have a mix of styles from the folk-rock, almost Fairporty, feel of She Could Never Resist A Windy Road, to the more bluesy and American folk influenced Patty Don’t You Put Me Down, and all points between. The odd Long John Silver which is his attempt at a jolly sing-a-long and which, in my view, falls flat on its face – clearly a case of woodworm in the artificial leg – sticks out like a sore thumb.

For me the best moments of the album can be found in the second track, Beatnik Walking, and in the final track, Guitar Heroes. In the former Thompson pokes fun at himself and his ageing fan base, grown up hippies and jazz fanatics – a cursory glance of the audience at a Thompson gig gives you a sense of what a care home may be like in fifteen years’ time – and in the latter he pays homage to those artists who shaped his career and taught him to love his chosen instrument, the guitar.

The de-luxe version of the album comes with a five track EP. Unusually, these are new tracks, not remixes or out-takes of tracks on the main album. If nothing else, as with his lengthy concerts, Thompson treats his fans with respect.

I’m not sure what lies behind the choice of album title. I don’t think there is a passing reference to the Joy Division compilation album of the same name. Rather, it seems to me, it is a statement that this consummate artist is still with us and is alive and kicking. This isn’t his best album nor his worst but if you like well-crafted music performed by a musician on top of his game, you could do far worse this year.