“The King’s Speech” is basically a remake of “Star Wars”

I can’t be the first person to notice this, though I did Google the basic premise and I came up blank.  So apologies to anyone who got there first, but: isn’t the plot of “The King’s Speech” basically the same as the plot of “Star Wars”?

The King’s Speech Star Wars
The story takes place against the background of impending World War. ongoing revolutionary war.
Our hero, whose mum was the Queen, the Queen,
is named Bertie Luke
and yearns for a different life. a different life.
His posh love interest, Elizabeth, Leia,
leads him to encounter a strange guru called Lionel Ben
who inhabits a skanky basement. a skanky hut.
The guru teaches him about bizarre mind tricks bizarre mind tricks
which nobody else believes in, and at one point makes him wear headphones to suppress his hearing. a backwards helmet to suppress his vision.
The guru talks to our hero about his father, his father,
and they make good progress until they are separated by an argument. Ben’s death.
There is much shouting, and Bertie storms off. Luke runs away.
However, this cannot keep them apart, and when Bertie marches along a narrow corridor Luke flies along a narrow trench
towards a tiny studio a tiny exhaust port
we observe that Lionel Ben
is there to offer guidance and support.
A corgi appears. A Wookiee appears.
Thanks to his training, Bertie Luke
successfully completes his objective and returns triumphant to an embrace from Elizabeth. Leia.
Our hero, proudly displaying an enormous number of medals a medal
wordlessly receives the adulation of an delirious crowd.
There is no medal for the corgi. There is no medal for the Wookiee.

Yes, yes, some of the above is flippant.  But the headphones/helmet scenes, the tracking shots towards the studio/Death Star, the scenes inside the studio/cockpit and the cheering crowd scenes are uncannily similar to each other.

You could also, I think, make a case for Lionel being an amalgam of the Ben and Han roles.

Actually, I Think You’ll Find There Is

So a couple of chaps, one older who talked a lot and one young who didn’t say anything, came to the door today and started quoting the bible at me. I think the older one detected my lack of enthusiasm quite quickly, and gracefully conceded he wasn’t going to get very far, but he did ask me why I thought the way I did. I said something about being the kind of fellow who needs to see plenty of evidence before accepting a proposition that seems – to me – so counterintuitive, and he said:

“Well, there’s no evidence for electricity, but I bet you believe in that, don’t you?”


Yeah, I Hang Out With The Stars, Me

Four Arms

Ready Reckoner

Here’s some very old tech, which I found in a second-hand bookshop.

Ready Reckoner

Almost every currency in the world is decimal. The only two non-decimal currencies left are the Madagascan ariary, which is subdivided into 5 iraimbilanja, and the Mauritanian ouguiya, which is subdivided into 5 khoums. American money went decimal as far back as 1792; before that, the official currency had been the British pound, but besides the awkwardness of the LSD units, British coinage was hard to get hold of anyway. Business was done using whatever currency was to hand, including shells and tobacco.

The UK and Ireland didn’t move over to decimalisation until 1971. Until then the British pound was divided into 20 shillings, each of which was itself subdivided into 12 pennies. Up to 1960, it was even more awkward, because each penny was further subdivided into 4 farthings. So all this is recent enough to still be within living memory, but not recent enough for electronic calculators, never mind personal computers. So how did normal mortals manage to perform the financial calculations necessary for either day-to-day living or – gulp – running a business? If someone came into your shop and bought 9 items that each cost, let’s say, 7 shillings and 11 pence each, how did you work out what change to give then from ten pound note?

There were three ways. Firstly, you could do the calculations by hand. People actually became pretty adept at this, and were remarkably good at doing complicated sums in their head, but in general, as you might expect, this method was slow and somewhat error prone.

The second way was to use a mechanical adding machine. These included devices such as the pin-wheel machine or the comptometer. However, these machines were expensive and required special training to use them.

The third way was to use a non-mechanical aid. You might already know about slide rules and log tables, which were quick to use but not very accurate (maybe 4 decimal places), and in any case weren’t good at dealing with non-decimal numbers. You had to convert your calculation to the decimal form, then do the calculation and then convert back.

The most popular solution was the Ready Reckoner.

Ready Reckoner

Basically, it’s 851 pages of tables.

Ready Reckoner

Each pair of pages is for one monetary value – 19 shillings and 9 pence, say, or 2 shillings four pence ha’penny – and contains all the multiples for that amount, going up to 10,000 in steps of varying size. So if you wanted to know what 187 lots of 1 shilling, 5¾ pence added up to, you simply turned to the page for 1s. 5¾d. and read off the value for 187. The book tells me it’s 13 pounds, 16 shillings and 7¼ pence, and it took me about 5 seconds to do it.

Ready ReckonerReady Reckoner

Several manufacturers published Ready Reckoners. This particular volume is entitled “The National Ready Reckoner”, and was published by Collins; from research, I think this might be the 1904 edition, but there’s no publication date in the book itself.

The ready reckoner had a number of advantages over the other solutions. It was much cheaper, for one thing. It couldn’t break. It didn’t need an expert to operate it. It was actually faster to use than the mechanical adding machine, and it handled non-decimals “natively”. Of course, it couldn’t do anything else. All this was in the days before software: most aids couldn’t be repurposed to do anything else. For British currency, the Ready Reckoner was the best solution, but if you wanted to do calculations on the US dollar, or the Mauritanian ouguiya, or if you wanted to do multiply up some imperial weights, you were stuck.

Love and Trust and Friends and Hammers

At the Academy with Richard and John C to see the Hold Steady.
The Hold Steady

Open University Half-Time Score

That’ll be two of these:

OU Results

I Hope I’m Proud Of Myself

Today I made a national newspaper use the F-word (twice).


Eyes down, no talking.

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History Repeating