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Bedford Skeptics Are in The Pub…or are they?

20 Feb


The truth is out there

The truth is out there

Well I have finally come up against a subject that foxes me. Baffled. Gobsmacked. William Shatnered! Philosophy. Over my head by some miles. Last night’s meeting of Skeptics in the Pub featured a very bouncy Clio Bellenis who spoke to a fairly large crowd of people who were either very clever or unlike me were keeping their confused state under wraps. 

Imagine it having "Bedford" at the top!

Imagine it having “Bedford” at the top!

I got slightly animated when a picture of Data from Star Trek came on and I thought I was on safe ground but then matters moved to whether he had a soul or a sentient conscience. He’s a robot. Then we got onto beam technology and I think we were supposed to be talking about whether your soul beams down or whether having beamed down to the planet Zarg are you the same person or just a load of atoms. I was thinking of the seaside. BUT THEN…Riker got mentioned and an episode where he gets split into two identical Riker’s by the beam, that was a good one and he started off a bit bad and then joined the resistance on Deep Space Nine. Then Clio started talking about philosophy again and I was back on the beach.

Now I’ve heard this bit before but apparently when Jason and his Nauts were sailing on the Argo battling giants, winged goblins and those skeletons at the end well they had to keep repairing the ship as they went on. To the point where when they got home all of the ship had been replaced. Now someone was following them picking the old bits up and had managed to build a slighty dodgy but still recognisable Argo patched up with polyfilla. And the philosophical question was “Which ship was the Argo”. Now I don’t remember this from the famous 1963 film but I reckon Clio might want to update this and use the Sugarbabies pop group instead as they changed singers to the point where the final three Sugarbabies weren’t the original.

And to be honest at this point you're not the slightest bit interested in what they are singing....

And to be honest at this point you’re not the slightest bit interested in what they are singing….

And then the original three Sugarbabies got back together again and there was a battle in space or something like that. See what I mean.

And then whales can recognise themselves in mirrors begging the question as to how they discovered this. And in science to prove this wasn’t fluke or a very clever whale they would have had to do say 20? Maybe more…


I asked about Schrodinger’s Cat (I changed the subject matter from philosophy to Quantum wot not and she was too polite to tell me but I knew already) which debates whether a cat in a box is dead or alive and my tip is if you hear it meow that’s a good sign. A rotten stench is a bad sign. And Schrodinger never played the piano with Snoopy in Peanuts that was his son Schroeder!

Schrodingers Oiano

Schrodingers Oiano

Philosophy, physics, psychology…it’s all a bit much on a Thursday evening when you’ve spent all day wading through lists of hazardous chemicals while simultaneously waiting for news as to whether your cars passed its MOT test but despite being both impressed and confused by the subject matter, with emphasis on the latter I enjoyed the evening with the Skeptics and at least I know now when it comes to philosophy to give it a wide berth. I asked Debs if she understood it having told her that I didn’t , she pondered a minute or so and said rather philosophically “Nope me neither”.

Skeptics in the Pub meets monthly at the North End Social Club which is Bedford’s premier” Phoenix Nights” style venue and rather good! And as it’s a club not a pub that explains the title. I think! Therefore I am!





The Bedford Diary..In Which Debs Traverses the Length of Tavistock St!

20 Oct

Tavistock Street doesn’t enjoy the best of reputations. During Tudor times, the butchers did their slaughtering in Butcher Row or the Shambles (roughly where St Pauls Square is now). They were told to clear away the “inwards and entrails” daily, but it was only taken as far as Offal Lane – the old name for Tavistock Street. Cynics would say that it’s been downhill ever since.   You sometimes hear people say that it is “letting the side down” – like a child caught picking its nose at a wedding – but Bedford isn’t exactly top drawer in the first place. Still our local leaders crave respectability – a sign of insecurity?

Robbery in action! Even the robbers are scared to come out when its dark!

Robbery in action! Even the robbers are scared to come out when its dark!

Leading north from the town centre, Tavistock Street is on the A6, therefore the first part of Bedford that a lot of visitors get to see. Maybe that’s why the local dignitaries are worried about the impression it gives – never mind that locals like me are happy with it just as it is, thank you very much. A conservation area, Tavistock Street has many interesting early Victorian buildings, mixed with infill of varying degrees of sympathy with the older stock.

Enjoy a hearty breakfast! A very popular place at the far end!

Enjoy a hearty breakfast! A very popular place at the far end!

Starting at the town end, on the left we see the high wall of the northern boundary of Bedford Prison. Outsiders are often shocked to hear that Bedford has a fully-functioning category B prison in its centre, but the locals hardly give it a thought. When the site was chosen for the first prison building over 200 years ago, this was on the edge of the town – and like everywhere else, the population grew, the town expanded and the prison was swallowed up.  Famous inmates include James Hanratty, and for all you fans of Big Brother (I know you’re out there) Jade Goody’s father. On the other side, tucked behind much older buildings, a 1970’s multi-storey car park widely derided as a white elephant since it was built. Situated just that little bit too far from the shops, in the days when all on-road parking was free; it has never been well used so is regarded as a money loser. The area immediately to the north was demolished in the early 1970’s. Comprising streets of two up two downs thrown up in the mid-19th century without foundations, these houses were not missed. Older readers might remember the scene in Some Mothers do ‘ave em, when Frank moves house, shuts the door for the last time and the house collapses in on itself. That was reportedly filmed there.  

Further up, a YMCA built a few years ago to replace a defunct petrol station. Another reason to view Tavistock Street with suspicion – it’s full of young people, and as we all know young people are always up to no good. Does any other country fear and dislike its young people as much as the British? Just a thought.

The Private Shop for good hard core porn. Nice building as well!

The Private Shop for good hard core porn. Nice building as well!

The main reason for the less than salubrious reputation is because it houses the towns one sex, I mean “Private” shop. On the ground floor of a fine three story terrace, on the corner of a square whose houses would fetch millions in London; it strikes an incongruous note. Time was, you could always rely on seeing a man scurrying out, head down and with a parcel under his arm. The internet has put paid to all that – I can’t remember the last time I saw someone entering or leaving the building, but still it limps on. For a short time there was another sex shop across the road, much larger and with a bold fascia that left the onlooker with no doubt as to what lay inside. A sign boasted that the premises had a discrete rear entrance for the faint-hearted, but it wasn’t enough to save it. Finally, the sauna and massage parlour above a fried chicken take away. From the decrepit state of the window frames, it looks like it’s not exactly making money hand over fist either.

KFC and something spicy upstairs! Rear entry...

KFC and something spicy upstairs! Rear entry…

This ex-sex shop is now an Indian restaurant, the other industry Tavistock Street is well known for.   Rusholme in Manchester is well known for its curry mile, and Tavistock Street in Bedford could be said to have its very own curry quarter mile. Doesn’t quite trip off the tongue, but a marketing opportunity has been missed there.

One of the local councillors is quite sniffy about the area, recently stating that the signs above the convenience stores and Indian restaurants are “garish”, implying that they needed toning down. Of course they are, they’re supposed to be – they’re trying to attract customers. What did she want, a tasteful makeover with National Trust colours? Another example of the tendency these days to want everything gentrified, tidied up, dare I say looking middle class.

Near the top is a forgotten about side street I sometimes wander along when I feel like trying to recreate the past – Tavistock place. Now mainly used to access a health centre car park and old peoples’ flats, it has a handful of modest recent low-rise housing, Victorian lock-ups and an interesting old terrace of five houses, which have back doors but no front doors. I once tried to have a good look through the window of the one without net curtains as discretely as possible and got yelled at, which serves me right I suppose. Tavistock Place was also the site of Bedford’s last doss house, closed in the mid 1950’s.

We've become so lazy we are re-using old photo's from two years back!

We’ve become so lazy we are re-using old photo’s from two years back!

Tavistock Street has many thriving businesses, some of which have been there for decades, not bad going for an area supposed to be poor and dangerous, full of the young and ethnic minorities and crime and people who keep irregular hours. I’ve walked down it at least twice a day for the last eighteen years, and see a completely different place to the one referred to by the scaremongers in trembling tones. Where else would you see the last workman’s café in Bedford (first picture) next door to a large Georgian house containing a solicitor, then two elderly cottages? Hands off, I say!


Editors chance to add something so I feel as if I’ve contributed something!


And another piece of Bedford’s past revealed thanks to Debs who is very often Out and About! By the way Jade Goody’s dad walked out of Bedford Prison unlike James Hanratty who was carried out having been dead close on four years. After being hanged (April 1962) he was interred near the wall, dug up a few years later as they wanted to start an allotment then taken to his Aunt’s grave near Watford.  Despite sufficient evidence that a Peter Alphon was the real dastardly A6 villain shoddily stored DNA evidence that wouldn’t be admissible today has to date prevented Hanratty from being pardoned. For further light entertaining reading, nice with a cuppa and Hob Nobs* try “Who Killed Hanratty” by Paul Foot!


*other biscuits may available.


What all footballers should be wearing?

27 Jun

It wouldn’t happen in golf or tennis would it? Andy Murray vaulting the net and chomping into whoever has just drowned his chance of winning a second time! No! It only happens on the pitch and outside Yates’s Wine Lodge at 1.30am.

Maybe this would help!

Maybe this would help!


The gene that helped us evade predators, that same gene that saw us evolve from group hunters, pack animals that needed a massive surge of testosterone and adrenalin to see us through and prevent us from becoming a tasty snack, it’s still there! Corrupted and running about some bit of turf below Mexico. Some clown from Liverpool FC trying to suggest that their own version of Lecter should still be allowed to play for them as…well…he’s cost them a lot and the last teeth sinking incident was some distance away where for all we know its a family tradition over there..”Hello Uncle Carlos…agghgrowlphhhhhh..rip!” (use your imagination here). And meanwhile people lose their homes and go without decent food unnoticed!

Mon Pierre (or Pete as those who tried picking him up from the front room floor when semi comatose call him) has once again gone to Glastonbury and has promised to check in regularly although as we are still waiting for last years report do’t hold you breath!

Lets see how many fall for this one!

10 Jun

Here’s another wheeze that the council are trying to get past us without anyone saying ..OY!

They’ve made various parks staff redundant or seem them “orf” with a nice package. So to compensate…appeals for volunteers. OY!

Easy go easy come!

Easy go easy come!


And in a shamless move to boost the blog ratings and fool local perverts I’m going to ad loads of spurious taglines in the little box before I press “Publish”. What I’ve found is that if I put things like “Dogging sites in Bedford” I get loads of hits presumably from overweight beer bellied men that like looking at similar fumbling round with their female version is some dark car park. Hey…look if they enjoy it It’s fine by me, its just that I might as well get something out of it without having to go out at 11.30pm. Here goes….don’t try this at home!