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Everything posted by GhostOfClayton

  1. GhostOfClayton

    Movin' On

    I know, right! It's been many years since I posted a blog entry. Most people here have forgotten who I am, or indeed, never knew anyway. So, why am I posting now? Are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin: Well, for reasons I'll go into later, I've been tidying up at OfClayton Towers, going through its dusty cupboards and run-down outbuildings, with a view to getting rid of whatever I can. Somewhere, at the back of a particularly dusty understairs, half-obscured by cobwebs, I discovered a mysterious roll of ancient parchment, yellowed by the passing of many, many long years. Curious, I blew the dust off and carefully unrolled it to reveal the UNRV map of the Roman Empire. Remember that? So nostalgic was I for the old days, I popped back on the site, only to be reminded that my twice-fortnightly blog just dried up. It came to a sudden end, with no explanation of the why's and wherefore's (do those words both need apostrophes? Maybe someone with better grammar than I could comment?) It felt like unfinished business, so I decided to do a bit of an update by way of a final blog entry to wrap everything up nicely. So . . . what has been happening? Well, I have to admit that the UK strain of Covid has been far less kind to those working in the gig economy than to those with more settled employment. My usual work pattern was to take jobs as a Tour Leader during the more clement months and, when that work tended to dry up over the off-season, there were 6 or 7 (actually, 8 now that I sit and count them) companies that I had a good relationship with, and could take me on as a contract business analyst for project work, or something similar. It was rare that none of them could offer me something. Needless to say, the amount of Tour Leader work dropped to zero as a result of the pandemic. So I needed to look around for something else and (unsurprisingly) very little presented itself. Let's face it, very few companies will be undertaking project work with most of their workforces keeping things ticking over from home. Then, one-by-one, those companies started to change. The first had actually happened way back in 2017. If you're not from the UK, you may not be aware, but the result of the Brexit vote caused a huge drop in the value of the pound. The company I was actually working with at the time had taken me on to advise them on how any potential outcomes of the Brexit vote might affect them, and how to mitigate. As a company that buys from abroad, and sells domestically, it was obvious that a 'Leave' result would hit them very hard in the short to medium term, and whilst I outlined ways of hedging, it was apparent things were going to be tough. When the drop in the pound hit, they had to downsize massively, and are now surviving, but are very much on the critical list. They won't be taking on anyone like myself for a long, long time (probably never). Then, a couple of companies announced closure of their UK manufacturing operations, and are now either gone, or winding down. Large manufacturing tends to perform different stages of their manufacturing process in different locations, and ship part finished goods between those locations. With 'Just In Time' management very much the name of the game, companies can't afford (won't, rather than can't) to have goods tied up while customs clearance is arranged, as it adds significantly to the cost of the finished product, without adding value. This pattern repeated itself until all the companies I worked for had either folded, moved out of the UK, or were suffering financially to such a degree that I could cross them off my list. The final one waited until the UK actually left the EU, realised that even if it manufactured in the UK, the parts it required were mostly sourced from the EU, so it is now planning a move that will see its output split between Poland and the Netherlands. Well, I hear you say, what about your Tour Guide work? At least you have that to fall back on. To some extent, this is true. However, of late, the huge majority of that work was done in the EU, where you require a thing called an EOTA card in order to work there legally. Mine has just expired, and, as I am no longer an EU citizen, I can't apply for a new one. There are many other people in exactly the same boat, and all are looking for opportunities in the UK (which are just beginning to open up, now that Covid will 'officially' be a thing of the past by July). So competition is fierce. I also do North America, but a strange thing happened in 2016 that we in the tourist industry referred to as The Trump Effect, where immediately following the 2016 presidential elections, bookings to North America dropped off quite considerably. It's easy to blame The Orange One for this effect, but it also covered Canada and Mexico. More likely it was to do with the artificially high USD/CAD/MXP vs the low GBP, but one way or another, opportunities there have thinned considerably, and there comes a point that it's just not worth applying for a work visa (that's if a British Citizen would get one under the current administration.) So, what to do? Well, after much soul-searching, myself and Mrs OfClayton have come to a big decision. We are in the process of putting OfClayton Towers up for sale with a view to moving to Bavaria (currently, a little town called Füssen is highest on the radar) and applying for German citizenship. This will put me right where I need to be in terms of leading in the Alps (which over the past few years has become my main area), but also will allow me to work anywhere in Europe. It also gives me access to steady winter work as a ski rep, which I said I'd never do, but beggars can't be choosers. So there you go. Many thanks to all of you (both of you) who have enjoyed my ramblings in the past (if you're still around). Hope everything goes Ok for you all. I'll sign off for one last time and wish you all 'Auf Wiedersehen'.
  2. GhostOfClayton

    Movin' On

    Hey, Caldrail. Good to see you're still hanging around. I never really left UNRV as such; I just very gradually started visiting less and less until one day I found I wasn't visiting any more. Sorry to hear that your company went the same way as most of mine. They all say it has nothing to do with Brexit, but somewhere in the background, a Business Analyst* has been running Cost/Benefits Analyses, and . . . well . . . companies aren't charities, at the end of the day. I, like those companies, can pretty much live anywhere. I've spent most of my adult life bouncing between various countries, so I just need to move where the money is. I know the flag-sh@ggers will repeatedly tell you that things are going to get better in blighty 'one day', but the shelves are starting to look quite bare in OfClayton Towers, and I can't open a couple of tins of sovereignty at dinner time, or put a few logs of '2029 trade deal with Easter Island' on the fire when it gets cold. That said, there is some good news. I've managed to secure one (one more than most of my ilk) gig in the UK in October as a cover for a colleague. Also, I'm dipping my toe into the Republic of Ireland by way of two gigs in Killarney around September time. By a quirk of the Good Friday Agreement, I'm allowed to operate there, at least until the increasingly inevitable return of Northern Ireland to the republic. Hopefully, in a desperate attempt to delay that, the UK will join the EEA. I'm not sure if that will mean a UK resident can have an EOTA card, but if it does, I may yet come back (as long as they promise to look after the NHS while I'm gone). * I know this, because I used to be one.
  3. Lots of you have Profile names that remain an enigma to me. I'd love you to explain them. Even if the meaning of the name is apparent (like a historical character), there's probably an interesting reason why you chose that particular character. And also, just becasue that character is well known to you, doesn't mean I (or others on UNRV) know anything about them. Please enlighten us all. We'd love to know. I will start the ball rolling. Some of you may know that my area of expertise (I love pretending) is Hadrian's Wall, and a few years ago I discovered Augustus Ceasar's "Hadrian's Wall" website, and its forum. I wanted to ask a question, so I registered, calling myself 'Centurion'. Now all I needed was an avatar. One of the little lectures I give my clients on the Hadrian's Wall tour is all about a 19th Century antiquarian by the name of John Clayton, who is responsible for much of the preservation of Hadrian's Wall. My avatar is from a painting of a Centurion supervising construction work on Hadrian's Wall and (nice touch this) the artist has painted the centurion with John Clayton's face. I chose this avatar as the first image of a Centurion that came to mind. A short while later, I joined UNRV and, to my peevement, found that 'Centurion' was already taken. I already had the avatar with John Clayton's face. Hence, Ghost of Clayton. QED. Your turn.
  4. I take it all back. Watching the Brexit fiasco unravel over the past 3 years had lead me to think my fellow country-men and women are not the giants I'd previously thought them to be. The whole thing is humiliating, and the rest of the world have every right to laugh heartily at us. I can only apologise profusely in embarrassment. Sorry! PS The worst may be yet to come. Boris Johnson is odds-on favourite to be the UK's Prime Minister within the month! The shame of it all! PPS If you don't know what 'Brexit' is, it's a contraction of BR (BRitain), EX (EXit), and IT (all turned to s*IT).
  5. GhostOfClayton

    The Cumbria Coast

    It is.
  6. GhostOfClayton

    The Cumbria Coast

    As an alternative to a rainy Saturday in Lakeland, I decided to take a look at what the Cumbrian coast had to offer in the way of Roman remains. I wasn't disappointed. I started with Milefortlet 21. This is one of (actual, the twenty-first of) a series of defesive structures that continue down the coast from Bowness on Solway (which is close to the point where the wall stops/starts). It's the only Milefortlet to have been fully excavated. The walls (turf cheeks with sand core) have been reinstated to a height of about a metre, the ditch has been reinstated, and the internal walls have been marked out. A word of warning if you'd like to visit, though: it is no longer accesible from the car park just below. You know have to park at the picnic site at the junction of the coast road with the Croscanonby Road. There is a field gate close to that junction (but no signs), from which a good path runs the 250m or so along the cliff edge to the Milefortlet. Also note that the adjacent salt pans are not Roman. Next, it was on to Maryport, and the fort of Alauna. Adjacent to the site is The Senhouse Roman Museum,
  7. I like this question. Allow me to stick my oar in. My first comment would revolve around your use of Centurion as Captain. I always saw the Centurionate as the highest ranking proffessional soldiers - what we would refer to as Non-Commisioned Officers. Maybe Sergeant-Major or some such. Camp Prefects, especially auxilliaries tended to be drawn from the Centurionate. I'm interested in how you differentiate Ground Troops from Marines in a sci-fi context. if you see Marines as similar to ground troops, but they get carried about in boats to support naval operations, how much use is there for actual ground troops who never see the inside of a spaceship (I'm assuming that's where you were going with this.) Generals tended to be people like Julius Ceasar in his invading days, so well above Prefect, and probably one above a 'Legate'. Admiral of the fleet (Pliny was one of these if you want to do research). Interesting one. Maybe praefectus classis?
  8. GhostOfClayton

    Living like Legionaries

    Many years ago (I'm going to say 15, but that really is a complete guess - when you get past the halfway mark, all the years blend into one), there was a reality TV show where they took modern men (maybe soldiers, but my memory is hazy), and forced them to live exactly like Roman Legionaries for a few weeks. Anyone remember anything about it?
  9. GhostOfClayton

    British Battalions

    I have a colleague in the Territorial Army. I'll see him on Monday, so I'll show him the OP. I'm sure he'll shed some light on the matter.
  10. Let's hope it's a blip, rather than a trend.
  11. GhostOfClayton

    Five books on daily life

    Thanks, Nick. I look forward to it.
  12. Well, I’m not sure you’re looking in the right place. But let’s assume you’re not going down to your local library to do your research. You’re probably using the world wide web to do that, which was an invention of Tim Berners-Lee. And you’d be doing that on hardware whose design can be traced in an unbroken line through Alan Turing right back to Charles Babbage. But what have the Brits done for us lately? Let’s limit our thoughts to the last half century (it would be cheating if we were allowed to include such things as the BBC or the NHS). I’m going to start with my local wonder of the modern world, the Humber Bridge. When it went up in 1981, it was the longest bridge in the world (1.4km; a record it was set to hold until as late as 1998). To this day, it is longer than any bridge in the Americas. While we’re talking about bridges, there’s the highest bridge in the world, the Millau Viaduct in France. Designed by Norman Foster (who also gave us the Hearst Tower in New York). Sticking with engineering, I really should mention the only rotating boat lift in the world, the quite remarkable Falkirk Wheel. If you live in the US, and would like to see the Falkirk Wheel, it will take you bloody ages to get there, because you’d have to fly at sub-sonic speeds. Back in the day, of course, you could have chosen to fly on the world’s only ever supersonic passenger jet, Concorde. No-one has managed to get a supersonic passenger jet up and running since. And who invented the jet engine? Best leave the field of Engineering behind (otherwise, we’d be here all day), let’s move on to DNA. Obviously, Watson, Crick, Wilkins and Franklin discovered DNA (2 of whom were Brits), but that’s too early. DNA fingerprinting was invented by a Brit, and human DNA was sequenced by British researches. All that stem cell research (e.g. stem cell replacement into bone marrow for cancer sufferers)? British. MRI and CT scanners? British. The cancer gene map? Brits. Omega-3’s effect on the brain? Discovered by a Brit. Fermat’s last theorem? Solved by a British mathematician. The iPod? Designed by a Brit. I could go on, but you get the idea. I'll leave you with a fascinating statistic: Around half of the US population have a below average IQ, whereas conversely, the same proportion of UK citizens have an ABOVE average IQ.
  13. GhostOfClayton

    Worst restauration job ever...

    It really highlights what a genuine skill those Roman era mosaicists had.
  14. Sadly, it's hard enough to attract tourism to Roman sites, even where there are extensive visible remains. English Heritage pull off tourism better than most but I can't think of any of their sites (please do try to prove me wrong here, everyone) where there's nothing but interpretion to see. The best job was pulled off in Colchester, at the Archaeology Park (outlines of theatre and temple complex along with very good interpretation), but Colchester Tourist Board don't really make much effort to use that site to bolster tourism.
  15. GhostOfClayton

    Baby - one more time....

    Congrats to you both. PS Maybe you should consider buying a telly!
  16. GhostOfClayton

    Events (UK and Europe)

    Segedunum are about to kick off a new exhibition. 'Roman Empire: Power & People'. Details here: http://www.twmuseums.org.uk/home.html?utm_source=TWAM+Communications&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Must+See+Exhibitions+May+2015
  17. GhostOfClayton

    Events (UK and Europe)

    If you know of any interesting Roman based events that other members of this Forum may wish to attand, please post details in this thread. But please don't clutter the thread by discussing individual events - please use other threads for that.
  18. It's all well and good getting Darwinian on our asses, but how would your theory account for me: a ) being a Brit b ) having a telephone number IQ?
  19. GhostOfClayton

    Five books on daily life

    Hi Nick, and welcome to UNRV. Do you mind if I hijack this thread to ask a question? You only have one 'Agent of Rome' novel currently out in audiobook format, and seems to be neither the earliest, nor the latest. Do you have plans to release the rest of the series in that format?
  20. I'm certainly feeling lacking in biological drive this afternoon.
  21. GhostOfClayton

    Pseudo-Kaisarios’ 'Erotapokriseis'

    Looks Greek for 'False Leader' to me. I'm not an expert/Greek speaker/educated person, though.
  22. GhostOfClayton

    Romans first to use surnames?

    Gleaned the following from Wikipedia: The oldest gentes originated before the foundation of Rome (let's say 753 BC), and claimed descent from mythological personages as far back as the time of the Trojan War (let's say 1184 BC). However, the establishment of the gens cannot long predate the adoption of hereditary surnames. The nomen gentilicium, or "gentile name," was its distinguishing feature, for a Roman citizen's nomen indicated his membership in a gens.
  23. GhostOfClayton

    Julius Caesar: Ministrokes not Epilepsy

    This is pertinent: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transient_ischemic_attack#Prognosis My Dad had one or two before he had a major stroke. He described these episodes to us before his stroke (and so before we knew they were TIAs), and you could be forgiven for thinking they were connected with epilepsy.
  24. GhostOfClayton

    Julius Caesar: Ministrokes not Epilepsy

    It's the Daily Mail, Guy, so you're right to be skeptical, but I'm going to have to ask you, what are your grounds for not agreeing with the conclusions?
  25. GhostOfClayton

    Roman Historian admits Augustus was a Monarch

    Just say the word, and we can have Redcoats marching up Lexington Avenue by Tuesday.