This solitary cloak

It is that time of year again, when our politicians and celebrities vie to see who can wear the most conspicuous poppy and those who take the option not to are poppy shamed in the tattered remnants of the press. This bizarre competitive poppy wearing reached its apogee when the prime minister was heard to … Continue reading twentyfourteen

The accidental human

Some scientists don’t seem to grasp how unlikely humanity is, they have been scouring the local universe for decades for any planet that just might conceivably support life and every time they think they’ve found one it is trumpeted in the media as being another potential Earth, one we can visit because it is only … Continue reading twentyfourteen

The heaven of memory

We are not born to die. Death is not the point of our existence, life is. We do not get one day closer to death with each day we live. Regardless of our interventions, death comes for us when it is ready, when it is time. Death is not a choice, we can’t bring the … Continue reading twentyfourteen

Brexit for beginners

The leader who said he didn’t want to leave but said he wanted to lead even if we wanted to leave because he expected to win, lost, and then left, and the man who didn’t want to leave, but said he did because he wanted to lead, won, but felt like he had lost because … Continue reading twentyfourteen

Monoculture and the death of biodiversity

Once upon a time there was a magnificent rainforest called The Internet. It was an exciting, wonderful place full of unusual flora and fauna all living in harmony, all reveling in the ever evolving and diverse culture. The forest floor was covered in fertile mulch, constantly turned over by creatures of every kind, the bountiful … Continue reading twentyfourteen

the pitiless perfection of binary

I was in the West End recently with elder son Jake and wanted, for reasons too woven to explain, to verify the distance of the Sun from the Earth. I asked Master Siri to answer this most simple of questions but in order to tap his source he had to take a slow boat to … Continue reading twentyfourteen

The truth is what I say it is

I have spent years believing in the absolute uniqueness of the individual. That all of our experiences are singular, subjective and altered via perspective. When a ball hits the ground is it falling, stationary or rising? The truth is often open to interpretation. It is why I didn’t have a wedding video because I didn’t … Continue reading twentyfourteen

in through the out door

I have often found the European Union to be something of an unsatisfying continental breakfast, one lacking in moral fibre. It is better than a bowl of Brexit though, a muesli of half baked oats, dried fruits and way too many nuts. Brexit requires a lot of digestion and has led to many conversations in defence of … Continue reading twentyfourteen

The feather and the cannonball

Why are humans so much smarter than they need to be? It is something that I often think about, because I can, because for some reason I am able to consider the human condition. What is that about? Does it make me happier? I doubt it. You won’t find a dog having an existential crisis. … Continue reading twentyfourteen

My whole is other than the sim of my parts

On Tuesday just gone my Volvo’s plip failed and I couldn’t get into the car. I was temporarily insensible, flummoxed, stabbing the lifeless plip at the door, peering helplessly in through the side windows with thoughts of vehicular infidelity. I deserved better, a vehicle that welcomed my approach, one that would let me in. I … Continue reading twentyfourteen

To infinity and Beyoncé

Just to make it absolutely clear before we start, I am not a scientist, or a mathematician, in fact I am about as far away from either as is humanly possible, just ask Mr Faben-Ward, my touchy-feely days-of-yore maths tutor who was known to exclaim ‘It’s not rocket science Richard, it’s the nine times table!’ … Continue reading twentyfourteen

dear humans, your services are no longer required

About twenty years ago I had an engineer friend called Robert who was really quite brilliant and expert at designing milking machines and ancillary equipment for the dairy industry. Robert came up with all sorts of very useful devices for popping tassels on udders but one day, for no particular reason, he decided that what … Continue reading twentyfourteen

The disarming urgency of fire alarm diplomacy

I don’t know if I have mentioned it (I have) but we live in a flat, well actually to be accurate an apartment, as it is on two floors and not flat, like a flat. We have always got on with our neighbours in a typically English kind of way, polite nods when passing on … Continue reading twentyfourteen

looking at you looking back at me

Being almost Valentine’s day I thought I would fob you off with a couple of poems what I wrote. The first was for Libby before she became my wife (actually it is probably truer to say I became her husband) and although it is not entirely accurate it does convey how futile my resistance was. If Libby … Continue reading twentyfourteen

Abigail, Barney, Clodagh, Desmond, Eva, Frank, Gertrude, Henry and Imogen say hello

So now we are giving names to storms. Apparently they have been doing it for years in America so it must be a good idea, like black Friday, fracking and weird spelling. It is supposed to make people more aware of the potential threat of the storm in much the same way that bomber crews … Continue reading twentyfourteen

I love you, terms and conditions may apply

Zackary is ten and has come to the belated realisation that at some point in the distant future he is going to die. Obviously he has known about death for a while, he has lost a dog and a grandparent but for some reason he had never made the connection with himself before. When it … Continue reading twentyfourteen

wow not woe

I didn’t accept that David Bowie had died until Alan Rickman did, Rickman was the same age but somehow much, much younger. I loved Alan Rickman, but only assuming he was not in competition with David Bowie for my attention. Bowie meant much more to me then he probably should have, much more than I … Continue reading twentyfourteen

Diminishing towards the horizon

Twas the season to be jolly, fat. Christmas and new year are now done but the unholy alliance that is the fat pumping and draining industries are still occupied with their pendulum assault on our bodies. The fat pumpers are anticipating Easter but until then it is the turn of the drainers who will attempt to sell us remedies … Continue reading twentyfourteen

Bad language and how to use it

I am packing suitcases so that Libby, the boys and I can take our leave of Cornwall. I am being observed by a visiting Australian brother-in-law who for no particular reason, starts to sing absently. ‘I’m not a pheasant plucker, I’m a pheasant plucker’s son, and I’ll be plucking pheasants…’ ‘Til the pleasant fu…’ ‘DONE!’ He … Continue reading twentyfourteen

the reconcilable loss of the hair apparent

When I was a young man I once stood in front of the hall mirror and pushed back my hair to reveal my hairline. ‘Well,’ I said to myself proudly, ‘You never have to worry about going bald.’ So thick was my hair that, growing up, the only instruction my Gran would ever give the … Continue reading twentyfourteen

And so is this Christmas?

Much is said about the nightmare of Christmas, about how commercialism has destroyed it, about how children see nothing but the next present, about the cabin fever of being locked away with recalcitrant relatives. According to an ever so slightly desperate media Christmas is little more than a sponsored binge before the diet season, when retailers … Continue reading twentyfourteen

In search of the absent mind

One of the curious things about getting older is the increasing intolerance of memory. Mine just refuses to have anything to do with anything it deems less than crucial, which, according to Libby, is just about everything of a domestic nature. Absent mindedness is often the default position of the overtly brilliant, it is supposed … Continue reading twentyfourteen

The king, the love letter and the flame

Have you ever wondered what dreams are actually made of? Other than the stuff? Does anyone really know? Lots of intelligent people profess to understand the meaning of dreams. Countless books have been written on the subject, usually with moons or clouds on the cover, often by Americans, who have copyrighted the dream, and all … Continue reading twentyfourteen

The true black friday

In a big city people die unexpectedly all the time, death is the inevitable consequence of life, people fall down stairs, have traffic accidents, close their eyes to sleep and don’t open them again. We have a bargain with death, it is supposed to wait, we expect to join it at the last possible moment, … Continue reading twentyfourteen

For the love of dog

What is it about dogs? They have unlikely breath, ruin furniture, trail mud, fart and leave, bury your wallet, push you over, bark at anything, lick your face, make you walk in the rain and pick up their poo. Let’s face it if that was someone you met on tinder you wouldn’t be meeting them … Continue reading twentyfourteen

The point of sales

‘Hello and welcome everybody, I imagine you are all wondering why I have called you here today, well it’s to announce an exciting new sales initiative conceived by George from our point of sale and promotions department.’ ‘We have a point of sales and promotions department?’ ‘Point of sale, Frank, sale. And yes we do, … Continue reading twentyfourteen

The God, the cat and the curly wurly

What is more likely? That God made us in his image or that we made God in ours? One of my children has finally given up his belief in Father Christmas. We have had to put the apostate in isolation in order to avoid the idea spreading to his younger brothers. What was doubt now … Continue reading twentyfourteen

The war to end all wars

In light of the month and the need for remembrance I thought I would share a poem I have written. It is primarily about the first world war but the themes apply to all war; hapless, helpless, hopeless. Eternal. I know it is unlikely, and despite my great respect for the service men and women … Continue reading twentyfourteen

Snudge and the art of optional happiness

The good citizens of Denmark are now considered to be the most content people in the world and apparently it is all down to something called Hygge. It is spelt like the expectoration of a cat but pronounced Hoo-ga and not being Danish I know very little about it but being me I intend to … Continue reading twentyfourteen

5.972 sextillion tons

It is Friday night and I find myself at a corner table in the pub, as if by accident. I look up and there I am staring at a freshly pulled beer anticipating the extraordinary first mouthful. I don’t drink very much but what I do drink I enjoy. It is interesting that drunk is … Continue reading twentyfourteen

A Day In The Life Of… Richard Baker, International Furniture Guru.

My alarm goes off at 6.00 am… well actually my wife’s alarm goes off, I don’t have an alarm. Libby gets up to do all sorts of secret stuff for and with the kids, I roll over. At seven I awake again, mostly because a five year boy is slapping me about the face. I … Continue reading twentyfourteen

The explicable persistence of mini metros in the mind of someone looking out for them

The first house I ever lived in was number 25 Poplar Avenue. It was nothing special, a fifties suburban semi, but I loved it. Primary school was at the top of the hill and as a shy child the walk home was always more about the destination than the journey. Our front gate had 25 … Continue reading twentyfourteen

Googlification

Having not wanted it because I thought it would be rubbish I have been convinced by an overwhelming number of women (two) that it would be a good idea to have the inside of our Hove store Googlified. Googlification is when a very nice chap takes loads of photos of the store, stitches them together … Continue reading twentyfourteen

I woebot

There has been a lot of speculation lately about the future potential of Artificial Intelligence. Mostly negative. It seems our greatest thinkers are increasingly occupied with the evolutionary implications of the rise and rise of the machine mind, they are convinced that in the not too distant future we will all be undone by our … Continue reading twentyfourteen

Interesting and thoughtful

‘I’ve been reading your thingame blog.’ Says my father. ‘Very interesting.’ I look up from fixing his iPad, having already closed at least a hundred web pages, peering at him, over my hated but strategically remembered glasses. Interesting word interesting. There is the interesting exhibit at the museum or gallery which is exactly that and … Continue reading twentyfourteen

Nine days in Cornwall

Day one in Cornwall, sitting outside a Truro coffee shop as a sweetly enthusiastic waitress places my order in front of me. ‘That’s the first time I’ve ever put a love heart on a flat white.’ She says, drawing attention to my coffee. Libby watches the rise and fall of my gaze. For a moment … Continue reading twentyfourteen

Emergency, what service?

Joey can’t breathe. Libby and I are up late on the Saturday evening of what has been Joey’s fifth birthday. He has woken and we can hear him down the hall as he coughs tightly before falling silent. I mute the TV and listen hard, the silence hissing softly in my ears, a floorboard creaks … Continue reading twentyfourteen

The house we live in

I have a confession to make. This isn’t easy for me so please be kind, here goes. I don’t have a mmm…. Oh, hold on a sec I don’t think I said it out loud. Mortgage. I don’t have a mortgage. Ah, that feels so much better, I’ve been wanting to get that out in the … Continue reading twentyfourteen

Hey Pluto

Celebrity clips toe nails. Woman loses phone signal. Man doesn’t see point of twitter. Space ship reaches Pluto. Am I alone in thinking that the media and the public may have lost their collective sense of wonder? I mean we have just witnessed quite possibly the most remarkable feat of technology and engineering for a … Continue reading twentyfourteen

The sun, the pendulum and the atom

What exactly is the fun part of getting old? When does it start? The fun. I keep hearing or reading about people who extol the depletion process. Celebrities often. Actors usually. They speak about finding themselves with age, about how they have reached a greater understanding of life, how they have learned to appreciate every … Continue reading twentyfourteen

built-in obsolescence versus built-in redundancy

When I was a boy if my father was ever in error or had a misadventure he would always somehow manage to give the impression that whatever it was hadn’t actually happened. This gave rise to the notion that my father was unerring, which he was, except he wasn’t. It’s just that I have absolutely … Continue reading twentyfourteen

Average, penniless, monogamous, misanthropist

It has been said that we gauge our own intelligence by the intelligence of our peer group. We might have the impression that we are incredibly clever but that could simply be because those we associate with ain’t too bright. We can never truly know how smart we are because maybe we have never known a truly smart … Continue reading twentyfourteen

The joy of telling Siri he’s a dick

When I was young and had my whole life in front of me I wanted nothing more than to be older. To have less life in front of me. I had time to burn. But this was the seventies, the pre information age, so my longing for the years to pass was based only on … Continue reading twentyfourteen

The centre path and how to tread it

It takes a lot of resolve to be interested in politics, in politicians. I voted, but I haven’t a clue who or what for. Some shiny bloke with rolled up sleeves, that I will never meet, who is meant to work for me but thinks I work for him, who could quite possibly be a … Continue reading twentyfourteen

You can’t wrap an app

I don’t know if you watch Game Of Thrones but in it is a huge wall of ice called not unreasonably The Wall. It is a man and magic made folly, three hundred miles long, seven hundred feet high, forever looming. On this side a near insurmountable climb, on the other permanent winter. I have … Continue reading twentyfourteen

Sugs and the birth of a notion

Okay yes it is true, I have been away. I could pretend that it was only a matter of days, just casually pick up where I left off but that would seem disingenuous, a bit like the guilty emails I send to my mother that read as a seamless spontaneous outpouring but actually take three … Continue reading twentyfourteen

The leopard skin conundrum

I like my fabric plain. Not boring plain, texture is good, handle, nap, colour but I have always felt that patterned fabric overwhelms form and dates rapidly. This is especially apparent if a chair or sofa has beautiful proportion then very often the line that makes them desirable is obscured by converging, colliding pattern. You … Continue reading twentyfourteen

Remains of the lush interior

Fashion is unfamiliarity. The reason that fashion doesn’t last is simple. It preys on a very basic human mechanism. Curiosity. We are hardwired to notice the unfamiliar, for good reason. Can I eat it? Can I sleep with it? Can it kill me? Once we have identified it as a rock, a sheep and a … Continue reading twentyfourteen

Designer beards and how to wear them

Designers wear beards. There I’ve said it, I wasn’t going to because I’m not sure anyone else has noticed. I know Hipsters wear beards but this is different, this is professional. It used to be those skinny rectangular glasses and scarves in summer but now it is beards. I don’t mean goatees, I mean proper, … Continue reading twentyfourteen

Nine Things: The family business and how to survive it

Working with family is never easy but when you are running a family business it is difficult to avoid. Not only do I have a brother as a main supplier but I also work with my wife and my two youngest sons are currently in the shop basement stuffing cushions (my oldest, the nine year … Continue reading twentyfourteen