I just wanted to mention a couple of people who make puzzle videos that I often enjoy. I don’t mean jigsaw puzzles, or paper puzzles like sudoku, but actual physical puzzles made of wood or metal.

One is Canadian magician Chris Ramsay. He has done videos showing tricks, but mostly seems to concentrate on the puzzles. He has big production values, tackles all his problems in a “what the f*** is going on here” attitude, does not always succeed but is hugely entertaining.

Here is one of his:


One of my absolute favourite prog rock bands, in the 70s and still now, is Gracious! You may not have heard of them. They did support The Who, King Crimson and others for a time.

They were on the famous Vertigo label.

Their first released album (1970) has the famous white cover that has a textured effect and gathers marks like you can’t believe. I remember buying mine in Bernard Dean’s in Scarborough and being given a clear protective sleeve because the cover had picked up marks on the rack. It cleaned easily enough with a rubber. I still play it.

It’s a concept album of sorts. Side one consists of a self-referential Introduction, Heaven and Hell, all linked with odd beeping noises. The second side has a fugue for harpsichord and guitars, then a lengthy piece with bits of Beethoven included. There’s lots of mellotron, of course.

How not to Excel

There has been a lot on the news about the government ‘losing’ tens of thousands of recrds relating to virus cases due to lack of Excel knowledge (the kind of mistakes my pupils would not make).

Matt Parker explains more:


Christmas is in serious jeopardy this year. A few weeks ago, I was looking on a well known UK store website and saw they had Xmas cards. There was a nice selection, but they were mostly sold out, so I bought some. I collected them from a local branch. “Sad, isn’t it?” I said to the nice lady. Oh no, she said, so many have bought cards already, there’s going to be a shortage.

It looks very much as if university students are going to be prevented from going home for the holidays. Actually, if they come from abroad they can, but not if they come from down the road.

BBC say there’s going to be a national shortage of presents. Food may be in short supply. You won’t be able to meet with others because all social activities will be restricted. Pubs and restaurants will either be limited or shut.

There will be no live theatre, and no pantomimes. Oh, hang on, that’s not bad at all…