Blog in isolation There is a radiant darkness upon us

SIPP review

A lot of people write in and ask 'Norman - whatever happened to that SIPP you started 10 years ago ? Has it produced enough to retire on ? Was it a lot of work ? Did it outperform the FTSE100 ?'

I took the 'long term buy and hold forever and 'strategic ignorance' ethos to its logical extreme and forgot about the SIPP completely. Once all the pension funds were transferred and a collection of high yielding UK shares purchased, I forgot about it. I didn't sell any shares. I didn't feverishly check the balance daily. I didn't panick during the banking crisis of 2008. I didn't respond to any corporate actions. Occasionally, I bought a new share once enough funds had accumulated from dividend payments.

The long term performance of my SIPP versus the FTSE also interested me so recently, I endured the time consuming, arduous and rather tedious exercise of reconstructing the detailed transaction and dividend history, spanning 11 years, of my pension portfolio which produced an interesting graph (courtesy of

Not enough to retire on but getting there.

Update: A better comparison is with the FTSE100 (accumulation units) where dividend income is automatically re-invested.

Grimm Viewing

'Is this Grimm ?'


'Adventures of New Grimm ?'


'New adventures of Grimm ?'


'New: Adventures of New Grimm ?'


'Is this a repeat ?'


Music For Sheep

People often write in and ask 'Norman - just what is this mysterious "Music For Sheep" playlist of which you speak ?'

'Music For Sheep' is my favourite music playlist of all time. It has provided solace and hope during some pretty bleak times. The playlist is ironically named as a tribute to all the social music sharing services like Spotify and which encourage sharing of your favourite bands, music and playlists. This is a novelty for 12 minutes but, ultimately a bit irrelevant because, as I remarked way back in 2006:

'You like your music. I like my music. We may share some common interests but it really doesn’t matter'.

So why am I posting this ? Well, because initially I created this playlist on my Android phone for walks around the park and then it got erased when I had to reset the phone.

Then I used Google Music to store the crucial list of songs for eternity but I was subsequently so horrified to find this service sync'ed everything but playlists (coupled with the demise of Google Reader), I chose to delete the bulk of my Google services.

Then I had a brain wave and created a DokuWiki - primarily to store this playlist. But then I let my hosting lapse in favour of Amazon S3 so I found myself re-creating it yet again.

Here it is - salvaged from an old DokuWiki backup - not for you as much as for me.

  • Falling Down - Oasis
  • She Just Wants To Be - R.E.M.
  • These Wooden Ideas - Idlewild
  • Crush On You - Brakes
  • Sappy (live) - Nirvana
  • Little By Litle - Oasis
  • Cuyahoga - R.E.M.
  • Pilsner Trail - The Fall
  • Conversation 16 - The National
  • D-7 - Nirvana
  • There There - Radiohead
  • Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks - The National
  • Here And Now - Ride
  • Mistake Pageant - Idlewild
  • Carrion - British Sea Power
  • Spank Thru (live) - Nirvana
  • The Lord's Prayer - Siousxie And The Banshees
  • Simple Stuff - Echo And The Bunnymen

Slightly skewed with two songs from The National and surprisngly nothing from The Smiths or The Chameleons (who I always list in my favourite bands together with The Fall).

where are they now ?

People often write in and ask 'Is Oracle blogging dead ?'

Well, I thought it might be interesting to revisit the list of Oracle blogs I posted way back in 2007 and see what they're up to.

  • Life After Coffee - dead (last post May 2011). The pressure of the No. 1 slot proved too much.
  • The Tom Kyte Blog - frequency much reduced but Tom's a busy man.
  • Rittman Mead - now a multi-user, shiny, corporate blog.
  • Oracle Scratchpad - Jonathan Lewis is still going strong.
  • Eddie Awad is Eddie.
  • Doug Burns - Our favourite Scotsman is still active and contemplating a migration away from Serendipity.
  • Kevin Closson - occasional poster.
  • David Aldridge - as above (when something annoys him).
  • Tim Hall - still travelling the world, presenting, reading books and watching weird films.
  • Jeff Hunter - resting (inactive since May 2012).
  • Peter Scott - alive and well blogging under the Rittman Mead umbrella.
  • Andrew Clarke - sporadic flurries of activity from Tooting.
  • Chris Foot - not known at this address.
  • William Robertson - still manages to exclaim 'WTF?!' once a year.
  • Howard Rogers - still blogging from Down Under.
  • Robert Vollman - resting (since August 2012).
  • Andy Campbell - hijacked by spammers. Either that or he really is pimping satellite TV systems and payday loans.
  • Moans Norgaard - pining for the fjords (since July 2010).
  • Laurent Schneider - actively blogging about Oracle.
  • Lisa Dobson - went to the trouble of getting her own domain and then neglected it (since Sept 2011). No longer a 'newbie'.
  • Jeff Moss - pimping vacations in Florida.
  • Beth - Data Geek Gal has been quiet on data quality (since Oct 2012).
  • Steve Karam - the alchemist is busy mixing up strange concoctions involving Hadoop, Hue, Oozie and occasionally Oracle.
  • Eric Emrick - nothing since March 2009.
  • Alex Gorbachev - busy growing Pythian Corp.
  • Robert Baillie - blogging about Agile, Extreme and project management after a 3 year lull.
  • Gary Myers - moved house (still in Oz) but helpfully remembered the redirect.
  • Nuno Souto - still blogging from Sydney.
  • Daniel Fink - The Optimal DBA blog has been dropped with constraints cascaded - which is suboptimal.
  • Ed Whalen - wrote a popular book in 2011, got rich on the proceeds and retired in the Caribbean.

Kingstonian FC 4 Grays Athletic 0

Saturday 7 September was non-league day. There were no Premiership fixtures and Kingstonian FC had a number of offers to attract football supporters down to Kingsmeadow (half price admission for any season ticket holder).

I had attended Kingstonian's opening home league fixture and been pretty impressed by the new players recruited by Alan Dowse and the quality of the play in a 3-0 victory over Enfield Town so, on a sunny afternoon, I paid my second visit of the season to watch the K's.

I like to stand behind the dugouts as you get a good view of all of the pitch and have the added bonus of hearing the manager's and coaches shrewed tactical thinking as the game unfolds.

Kingston started quite sluggishly and fell behind after 15 minutes when Dee Okojie carelessly lost possession on the halfway line and Duru took advantage by firing past Rob Tolfrey to give the visitors a deserved lead.

Kingston came back without creating many clear cut chances and the Grays goalkeeper embarked on time-wasting often taking a lengthy drink and applying sun tan lotion before finally taking each goal kick.

Dowse tirelessly urged his team on shouting 'Keep going - it'll come' and sure enough, on the stroke of half-time, it did come when Andre McCollin met a decent cross and planted the ball back past the keeper into the corner with a firm header.

It wasn't a dirty game was spoiled by some rather fussy and at times inept refereeeing. In addition, there were a couple of 'handbags at six paces' confrontrations where all 20 outfield players foolishly chose to get involved screaming 'Leave it - he's just not worth it'. Not a great advert for non-league football.

The second half got underway and Gary Abbott, Dowse's Number 2, rather aptly kept on screaming 'Second ball now, lads', 'Seconds', 'Let's have seconds'. Martin Tyler (first team coach and Sky commentator) who has probably had enough of constantly talking during a football match, remained seated in the dugout for the most part keeping a dignified silence. The other theme for the day seemed to be 'Squeezing'. Dowse and Abbott repeatedly and loudly kept urging the players to 'Squeeze'. Sometimes, it was to 'Squeeze 'em' or 'Squeeze up' or occasionally 'Just fucking SQUEEZE !'.

When his team is defending, Dowse also uses a very strange phrase to his defenders - it sounds like 'Good foul, good foul now'. As Alan Dowse has a heavy Geordie accent, I can't make it out properly - it might be 'Go on now, tackle him and dinnae give away a foul, man' or it might just be 'Commit a good foul but disguise it so no free-kick is given'.

Anyway, I digress - Kingston opened the second half quite brightly and, after 53 minutes, took a rather undeserved lead given that Grays had been on top for the first half hour. A carefully rehearsed free-kick routine saw two players both go to take it simultaneously, everyone laughed and while Grays were distracted, the ball was thread past on the blindside of the defensive wall for McCollin to net his second and put Kingston into the lead.

Five minutes later, McCollin completed a fine hat-trick when some neat passing from the midfield launched a lightning counter-attack as Grays were pressing forward for an equaliser and McCollin again finished with great efficiency.

3-1 to Kingston. Some Grays' heads went down, they lost shape and some discipline and for a while it looked like Kingston were going to score every time they crossed the half-way line. The Grays goalkeeper seemed oblivious to his side''s predicament and continued his infuriating timewasting antics.

K's secured victory with a brilliant fourth goal as McCollin completed a delightful passing move that got most of the coaching staff off their feet and celebrating with the players. As the chap next to me said 'It's just like watching Brazil'.

All of this proved just too much for the Grays No. 5. After being run ragged by McCollin and conceding 4 goals in a match they looked capable of winning, he finally snapped and, after being penalised for yet another clumsy foul, yet another pushing and shoving episode ensued with both linesmen enterting the field of play to try to maintain order.

Shortly after, both protagonists (McCollin and the No. 5) were withdrawn by their respective coaches. K's promising midfieder, Dan Sweeney, picked up a knock which meant he hobbled through the last 15 minutes. The fussy ref made some more bookings and kept marching out the 10 yards at every single free-kick and a lot of late substitutions were made by both sides.

K's cruised home and the 4 goal hero, McCollin, ensured that Kingstonian extended their lead at the top of the Ryman Premier to 1 point over Wealdstone.

An exciting, eventful game packed with incident and goals. Pity only 394 people were there to see it.

Next fixture: Monday 9 September, 19:45 - Bognor Regis (H)