Richard Thompson's Website

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Introduction

(last edited on Friday 09 March 2013)

This is not a large site; the principal components are some Philosophy, some pictures and some notes on my hobbies.For several years, from December 2006 until 2009 I added a survey of my activities during the preceding year. But once my blog was well established I decided that the information there, combined with the revies of the books I've read, was suffiucient to give the genuinly inquisitive something to think about. There is also an account of the building of my extension during 2005 and 2006, so that I might refer people there when they ask about it. It's very old now, but once I've written something up it seems a pity to waste it.

It seems to be the fashion to make web pages look like tabloid newspapers, with diverse bits and pieces of pictures and text scattered about around the screen in a confusing jumble. The initial visual impact can be striking, but when the shock has worn off and one starts to wonder what it's all about, it's often hard to say.

My ideal newspaper was The Times in the days of its glory, when the front page was devoted to classified advertisements, including the delightful Gourmet section, so I've tried to make this site plain, clear and simple, though it does not yet have a gourmet section. I've also made links stand out so that visitors can find their way around the site. Some sites that appear to be designed to dazzle visitors make everything stand out except for the link, which are hard to distinguish from ordinary text. On this site only the links dazzle

A custom about which I have mixed feelings is that of including among one's web pages a brief autobiographical essay. Although I usually read such essays with at least moderate interest when I visit other people's pages, I still sometimes wonder what the point can be. What do people do with the information provided? What could anyone do with the mundane recollections and ramblings in this note?

I suppose that reading a profile gives people an idea what sort of person they are dealing with, so they can pigeon hole them and decide how far to trust what they say, but if there is any doubt as to someone's reliability, that doubt should, if rational, extend to what they say about themselves. The other advantage of writing about oneself is that it helps to make one feel important, and even if that feeling is an illusion, it may still be comforting if one can maintain it till the end of one's days.

Here then is my biographical note. I'm Richard Thompson, born in Leicester in 1938 and educated at the City of Leicester Boy's School, at the time a rather good grammar school, and then at King's College, Cambridge where I read natural Sciences Part I followed by Moral Sciences Part II (subsequently renamed as 'Philosophy') in which I specialised in Logic. I followed that by taking an MSc in the Philosophy of Science. I then got a job teaching at a school in Lincolnshire, after a while moving to a Clege of Further Education in Greater Manchester where I eventually became Senior Lecturer i/c Mathematics and Science. At the beginning of my teaching career I taught a mixture of Mathematics Physics and Chemistry , but gradually concentrated more and more on Mathematics.

. After retiring early from full time teaching I returned to Leicester to take over the parents' garden and sort out my late Father's remarkable collection of books. For a while I taught part-time, until I took what I like to call my 'terminal retirement' in 2002.

In outlook I'm skeptical, pragmatic and individualistic, deeply suspicious of abstractions, movements, powerful organisations and therefore especially of governments and their agencies. Politically libertarian I don't belong to any political party. I have no religion

I'm now trying to accustom myself to the fact that I'm getting old. Until very recently I couldn't quite bring myself to say " I am old"; such understatement seems to be part of the condition. We often hear old people say "I don't feel old" and I found that most odd until I found I had to make an effort not to say it myself. That may be partly because by 'old' we mean 'so much older than me that I can't understand them', but I expect it is also partly because we don't notice any sudden change in ourselves, and that in turn is probably because there usually is no sudden change, but change there definitely is, in outlook, perception of the world and way of life. What finally convinced me of my antiquity was news of former pupils retiring. Hearing that someone one used to know as a sprightly 12 year old is now a pensioner, makes one review one's own status.

At this point it needs great self control to restrain myself from starting a long and probably tedious meditation on antiquity. It is conventional for the old to grumble about the young. Yet clichés should not be allowed to stand unchallenged, so I propose that instead young and old should unite to grumble about the middle aged. To say the middle aged have lost youthful spontaneity without acquiring the wisdom of age would be to substitute two clichés for one, so, having put that idea in your head without actually saying it, I'll just say middle age often brings a fussy self-righteousness on the part of people who have started to think oaboutserious things, but haven't yet learned to do so light heartedly (another cliché, alas), and what's the middle aged seem to control almost everything. So lets all grumble about them, but I'll try not to grumble too much because I'm coming to feel more detached from things, as if this is ceasing to be my world and I'm becoming a spectator in someone else's. It is the young who'll have to live here the longest, so I'm inclined to let go and let them shape the world to their taste.

With some reluctance I eventually let myself be persuaded to start a blog, but I've come to like it. I have found it a useful receptacle for thoughts too ephemeral to merit inclusion here, but I still have some reservations.

Information appears in the wrong order. I like to begin my stories at the beginning, not at the end. A friend of mine once had a backwards lunch in a café, starting with pudding and ending with soup. Although I haven't tried that yet, I'm sometimes tempted to try it just once, but I shouldn't want to eat every meal in reverse. Finally, however the blog does help to keep this a cheerful and friendly site, by providing a recptacle for the observations on current affairs that often make me bad tempered and prone to say nasty things about people I disagree with.

There no site map here, in the sense that there is no single page containing a link to every other page, though every page contains links to all the main pages. That is deliberate. Every page can be reached by a logical series of steps, and if it takes several steps to reach a page from here, that is because there are several other pages you should read first. There is also pleasure to be had in exploring. I have designed my garden so that it cannot all be seen from a single point, and a similar sentiment inspires the design of this site.

I'm quite careless and accident prone, so please don't be surprised, still less annoyed, if some of the links on this site don't work, though do feel free to send me a polite email telling me about it, but if you do, be prepared to wait very patiently for however many months it takes me to put things right. I can't abide impatient people!

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