Archive for Maltese Falcon

Leaving Party

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , on July 20, 2016 by telescoper

As regular readers of this blog (Sid and Doris Bonkers) will know, I’m about to leave my current job as Head of School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the University of Sussex. Although I don’t actually finish here until the end of the month, there was a small gathering in the School this afternoon to celebrate the fact that I am leaving. Here is the cake:


This was accompanied by Prosecco, opened in dangerously explosive fashion by Philip Harris, who will be taking over as Acting Head of School after my departure. As such he will be responsible for Health and Safety in the School. I hope he fills in a risk assessment before attempting to open any further bottles of bubbly! I got a lovely gift of a pair of champagne flutes, although I haven’t managed to play any music on them yet.

I’ve also been inundated with gifts by Dorothy Lamb, my Head of Schools Coordinator. Dorothy arranged a special treat for me this morning, in the form of a private screening (in the Attenborough Centre) of my favourite film, The Maltese Falcon. I’ve seen this film dozens of times on TV or on DVD but never in the cinema, so this was a very nice thought. Here’s a still from the movie, which reminds me for some reason of the Senior Management Group:


At this afternoon’s cake and wine party, Dorothy also read out a poem what she wrote, which I reproduce here (including a preamble) in the hope that literary agents and talent-spotters might be reading this blog:

Those of you who read Peter’s blog will know that he regularly posts poems by Stevie Smith, Emily Dickinson, Wordsworth and others, plus occasionally his own work. The last time I wrote a poem was when I was about 8 years old and it was published in ‘The Brownie’ so I thought it fitting that, frighteningly, almost half a century on, I should pen another.

To Peter Coles, aged 53 and almost one sixth
Known for a passion for the cryptic,
Let’s hope his departure is not apocalyptic.
A northern gent in whom we trust,
An honest man, some say robust;
A wealth of knowledge, awesome talent
And, as a boss, sublime, transparent.
With Coltrane, Cohen and Humphrey Bogart
He is not backward in going forward.
With diphthongs, datives, gerunds and such
Though untrepanned, he’ll give the heads up.
A Newcastle lad up at Cambridge
Prosecco chilling in the fridge,
He truly does explain things clearly
Though I’m still ignorant of quantum theory.
He always seems to stay clear sighted
Except when it comes to Newcastle United.
A crossword never left unsolved,
An over never left unbowled,
The poems of the good and great,
The Miss Lemon drizzle cake he ate;
And every due respect he paid
To his trusted Midlands maid.
And so we say farewell to Peter,
Though this poem has the strangest meter,
Whilst lexicons fill every space,
An emptiness will take his place,
A smile of sadness on my face.



Thirty years a graduate..

Posted in Biographical, Film with tags , , , , on June 4, 2015 by telescoper

Today got off to a bad start when Radio 3 swtiched on shortly after 6am with a Concerto for Two Harpsichords. Since even one harpsichord is one more harpsichord than I can tolerate, I switched it off immediately and went back to sleep. When I finally got going I arrived at my usual bus stop (at Old Steine) to find it taped off and out of service. The wreckage of a burnt-out bus at the stop provided the obvious explanation. I therefore had to walk all the way up to St Peter’s Church to get a bus up to campus. I got here just in time to have a quick coffee and head off to an two-hour long Joint Planning Meeting with the School of Engineering and Informatics.

All things considered this wasn’t the best start to a birthday I’ve ever had, but at least I now have time for a celebratory cup of tea from my birthday mug.


Thank you to Miss Lemon for the lovely present – as regular readers of this blog (Sid and Doris Bonkers) will know – the Maltese Falcon is my favourite film.

Anyway, I only have a brief respite because this is a very busy part of the academic year. Next week we enter the time of the Final examination boards where we have to classify the degrees of graduating students. While I was lying in bed recovering from harpsichord-induced schock this morning I realised exactly 30 years ago I had just finished my own final examinations. In those days they were very intense, six three-hour papers in just three days for most students. I got off lightly because I did a theory project which I could substitute for one paper. It was still quite exhausting though. Can that really be thirty years ago?

I remember the grand plans I had to celebrate the end of my finals, especially since they coincided to closely with my birthday. When the time came, however, I was totally exhausted and just ended up having a few beers and crashing out. That’s probably what’s going to happen today too…

Anyway, must get on. Time to prepare for this afternoon’s meeting of the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences Executive Committee. Another two hours. What a way to spend a birthday…

Let’s talk about the Black Bird..

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on September 8, 2013 by telescoper

I’m writing this using my Blackberry as the train I’m on trundles towards London. Since it’s standing room only (as usual on First Great Western) I thought I’d just pass a little time rambling on about birds.

I took this picture the other day. The bird – a jackdaw? – is one of a pair who joined me for lunch but suddenly became camera shy when I got my phone out to take a picture. As you can see, I didn’t get very close.

I don’t know much about birds, but these are regular visitors to my place of work and I find them very amusing company. I love the way they strut about like officious constables when inspecting their surroundings for morsels of food. When in a hurry they bounce along like small boys do when they pretend to ride an imaginary horse. All members of the crow family, including magpies and jays, seem to share this peculiar style of getting about on the ground.

Anyway, whatever this bird was, at least it wasn’t a seagull. They’re rarely amusing, and often downright vicious. And it’s clearly not a falcon either, let alone a Maltese one…