There is a bench on Byres Road which is usually occupied by old men, and I’ve found that, whenever I have half an hour to kill in the area for whatever reason, sitting and listening to them talk is a worthwhile way to spend it.

Tommy’s stories were largely of his time in the army and his memories of the war.

“I’m not just a hairy face, you know. I’ve seen me sitting here and people coming over and putting a ten pound note in my hand, like I’m a beggar! … History is my subject, I did my degree in it. I’ve studied it. I’ve lived it! I was born on the day that Lenin died (that makes him 86 in 2011). Everything you see around us now, it’s all history to me.”

“I’ve travelled all over the world, over eighty countries. But that’s all past me now. Of course, I’d love to travel still, see all the beautiful chicks, but I can barely raise my little finger these days, let alone my… well, that’s all done now. Maybe a boat to Orkney or something.”

We were for a time joined by another old chap whose breath smelt like alcohol and vanilla. I must have looked out of place, sat quietly between them while they waved their canes and argued loudly about history and politics, and certainly some passing pedestrians and drivers stuck in traffic seemed to find the spectacle amusing. When the other man left - “I’ve got to get to this fucking bank” - Tommy remarked “Oh, here we go! A bank! He’s one of Maggie Thatcher’s men.”

This photograph is really more an exercise in postprocessing than anything else: I was photographing into direct sunlight, and so to bring out the tones and the detail here was a hell of a task. Perhaps I’ve overcooked it, but it’s the best I could do.

Glasgow, 2011.

In Ireland the primrose was particularly linked to May Eve, when it was widely used to protect against the fairies and evil influences. The custom was that primrose, along with other yellow flowers, should be gathered by children before dusk on May Eve, or at the latest before dawn on May Day. The children then made ‘posies’ or small bouquets of flowers, which they hung in the house or over the door, or laid on the doorsteps and windowsills. Sometimes loose flowers were strewn on the thresholds of the front and back doors, and on the floors of the house and byre. Flowers could also be strewn on the roofs, and in and around the nearest well. Bunches of primroses were also tied to the cows’ tails to keep evil spirits from harming them; and primrose was rubbed on cows’ udders to increase milk yield and prevent barrenness.

Niall Mac Coitir, Irish Wild Plants: Myths, Legends, & Folklore, The Collins Press, 2006, citing: 

Danaher, op cit., p. 88, p.118, Lady Wilde, Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms and Superstitions of Ireland (London, 1888) pp. 102-4. M. Uí Chonchubhair, Flóra Chorca Dhuibhne (Kerry, 1995), p. 164.


If you think that Jonathan Byres is just “some emo creep” then you’re no better than everyone else in the show who is so quick to judge him because he doesn’t conform to what everyone else is doing and I don’t judge him for wanting to be away from people like that. He has already acknowledged that his actions were wrong and apologized to Nancy.
Jonathan Byers is NOT his mistakes.
Jonathan Byers is a strong, mindful individual who loves his family and would do anything for them, he puts others well-beings before his own, and he is so much more than the labels people give him.
Everyone has made mistakes, but they do not define who we are and no one should be judged solely on them.

What’s this? Oh, no big deal, only a SHIRLEY JACKSON LOTTERY THEMED CAKE. Penguin’s very own Jessica Reed brought this into the office this week, complete with a special token inside one very special slice (is this the most demonic variation on the king cake ever?). For more of her amazing creations, check out or follow her at @eyedbyreed on instagram.


A mug of strong,
steaming hot coffee,
snuggled up in a blanket
by a blazing log fire,
the wind in the chimney
is howling and screaming,
while outside the snow drifts,
get higher and higher.

The windows are rattling
in the snow and the wind,
and the bells they are ringing
in the lofty church spire,
guiding the lost
to food, and to warmth,
while outside the snow drifts,
get higher and higher.

There’s a light in the stable,
the horses are safe,
the pigs in the sty
and the cows in the byre,
the winds getting colder,
but the livestock are warm,
while outside the snow drifts,
get higher and higher.

All warm and snug
in the midst of the storm,
dreamy and lost
in the woods of the shire,
and Bilbo and Co
have captured my mind,
while outside the snow drifts,
get higher and higher.

T'is lovely to hear
the roar of  the tempest,
let it blow, let it freeze,
for soon it will tire,
and we are all safe
in the eye of the storm,
while outside the snow drifts,
get higher and higher.

Scattered Thoughts

The last Arena map was arena_offblast, which came out with the Classless Update in August 2009.

I do like arena_byre. Like any other Arena map, it’s small, dynamic, and you directly get into the action. The small bonus arena_byre has is the two control points that are unlocked at the start. This provides an actual objective for the players (other than “kill the other team”) and makes rounds shorter but more intense.

The last maps Mann VS. Machine had were mvm_mannhattan and mvm_rottenburg, which came with the Two Cities Update, in November 2013. After that, the only Mann VS. Machine content we’ve had were fixes.

If you are interested in new Mann VS. Machine content, the Mann VS. Machine community is working on new maps. If you want to help the Mann VS. Machine map makers, just go to Potato’s Custom Mann VS. Machine group or simply check the Steam Workshop for Mann VS. Machine maps and give some feedback. ;)

[Submitted by quenquent]