Monday 11 October 2010

Breakfast on the beach

There's something hugely appealing about the Cornish coast. I've always had a horror of "seaside towns", conjuring up visions of crumbling northern outposts where stag and hen parties stumble from t'arcades to t'pubs and grim-faced pensioners sit shivering on rain-lashed promenades. But the area around St Austell bay is different. It's comparatively quiet, and is set in a landscape dominated by cliffs and rocks and rolling hills, rather than one dominated by coloured neon.

We went down for the weekend - a last-minute booking to take advantage of the promising weather forecast - and enjoyed a smooth journey through some gorgeous scenery. Cam and I had found Charlestown beach by accident on our previous West Country road-trip, but this was Anna's first visit to the place. And, aside from a slight debacle at one of the world's slowest Pizza Huts, the St Austell experience was a good one.

It was excellent to spend time together in such beautiful surroundings. We climbed the rocks, explored a deep cave in the cliffs, got wet feet when the waves caught us out, and even rescued a small crab who'd been hiding inside a small rubber tyre that we'd been playing with.

On Sunday, it got even better. The skies cleared to bright October blue, while we walked in the sunshine and climbed the rocky islands that jut out from the headland.

But for me, the best thing was breakfast with Anna and Cam. It was perfect - a cinnamon latte and chocolate twist - enjoyed on the deserted beach. If only every day could begin so well.

Monday 4 October 2010

iPad Entertainment Summit

Apologies for a work-centric blog post, but I was fortunate enough to be a speaker at the iPad Entertainment Summit last week and I wanted to capture my thoughts on the event before they evaporated. The conference was held at BAFTA, catering for an audience largely made up of broadcasters and brand-holders. There were some serious names in the auditorium, but many of them had come to listen rather than present.

As the day unfolded, there were some good talks, interspersed by the usual bits of self-promotion and techno-babble, yet I was struck by one or two people on the podium who seemed to have little or no experience of app development, despite the buzzword-laden theories they advanced. There were several excellent speakers but, for anyone new to the iOS space, it may have been tricky to discern who was talking sense and who wasn’t.

At lunch, I had an eye-opening conversation with someone who thought Apple were “a bit rich” taking a 30% revenue share. I’m really not an Apple fan-boy, but this stunned me. Traditionally, high-street retailers take 50-60%, straight off the top. Mobile carriers took similar percentages, and none of them accepted content as easily – or paid as quickly – as Apple do. I was confused by this nostalgia for the bad old days, until it dawned on me that many of these people are new – brand new – to the market. They look at Apple’s model, a model which simply didn’t exist before iTunes, and they wonder why it’s not more favourable to them. They don’t appreciate it because they don’t understand the alternative.

This seems borne out by the eager casting-about for the “next big thing”. Some say it will be Android, others argue that Windows7 Mobile will dominate. The “anyone-but-Apple” mentality is quite in vogue just now. And there’s an element of truth in what’s being said. Certainly, it’s likely that a number of other devices will emerge to challenge Apple’s offering. Critically though, they will be competing on a hardware level – for content providers it’s revenue that matters, not handset numbers.

Perhaps the most surprising take-away from the day was the absence of serious distribution channel discussion. There seems to be an assumption that other manufacturers will simply “do their own App Store”. After all, how hard can it be?

And that’s where the problem lies. Apple already has a trusted, consistent, international, regulated store front. They have pre-existing billing relationships with every customer, pre-existing content relationships with almost every major record label, movie studio, and TV channel. They have an app for everything. And they have it all right now, today.

And to compete with all of this, other companies just need to “do their own App Store”? It might be harder than it looks. Apple certainly won’t be sitting still while the others play catch-up, but there’s yet another problem for the rival manufacturers.

iTunes and the App Store really shook up the mobile content industry, which had previously been serviced by carrier portals. When you bought something for your device, you bought it from Vodafone or T-Mobile – there was a limited amount of content available, and pricing was controlled by the carriers. Apple changed that, opening things up with an unlimited range of items, at a range of pricepoints, including “free”. Suddenly, there was a model where the carriers weren’t getting any of the revenue. To compete, the rival platforms need to get their devices into people’s hands, but their traditional route to market is via the carriers. Will the carriers allow them to “do an Apple” and build their own store fronts? The carriers know how much revenue there is to be made in the space and, crucially, they have a perfect, pre-existing billing relationship with every single one of their customers. Will they really forego their high-ground advantage and help the other platforms to climb past them?

It’s clear that Apple won’t have the field to themselves. Moving forward, a number of competitors will step up, and some of them will become established. Whether their hardware market-share can be translated into app revenue is an entirely different matter that nobody seems to be talking about.

On one level, it’s frustrating. A lot of effort is going to be expended on ill-conceived projects pitched by people who didn’t understand the business. On the other hand, I made a lot of useful new contacts at the event, so I mustn’t grumble.

And, last but not least, Stephen Fry was on the stage, right after me. His words were both witty and enlightened and I am profoundly grateful that I didn’t have to speak after him!

Tuesday 28 September 2010


When I was a lot younger, I was fortunate enough to work with a great bunch of guys on an insanely brilliant game called Carmageddon. You might remember it - "So many pedestrians, so little time", a Daily Mail hate campaign, and questions in the House... Carmageddon had it all.
The reason it was such a great game, was the people who worked on it. Patrick and Nobby had assembled a fabulous group of talented developers, and in their number was one Russ Hughes.

"Rusk" died last week. He was only in his thirties.

He was the first person on my Facebook friends list to pass away, and it's been profoundly moving to watch the vast outpouring of shock, grief, but above all appreciation of his life. I've read how the company where he worked sent their 200 staff home, heard how his old friends at Stainless were absolutely destroyed by the news, and watched the condolences pile up.

But over the past few days, I've seen people talking about him, remembering him, and celebrating him. And the strange thing is, so many people all say the same thing: that his enthusiasm brightened up the life of everyone around him.

Day after day, people saying that same thing. And it occurred to me, amid the general sadness and thoughts of mortality, that Rusk leaves a truly enviable legacy behind him. So many people smiling, so many lives brightened, just by him. Some people get buildings named after them, some people get dedications, but Rusk surpassed all of that. He made so many people happy, and he'll be fondly remembered by every single one of them. It doesn't get much better than that.

Cheers Rusk - you didn't play for long, but you racked up the achievements.

Wednesday 14 July 2010

And they all lived happily ever after.

Finally. After an awfully long time, and many unwelcome pauses, the first draft of my novel is complete. It's been an interesting process - at times discouragingly hard, at times deceptively easy - but the last few chapters have come quickly and got me to the end.

Some very encouraging feedback at the Winchester Writers' Conference has boosted my confidence, and reassured me that I've not been wasting my time. I now have a month or so to relax before the Agent process begins in September.

In the meantime, I intend to follow Stephen King's advice, and leave my book alone for a few weeks before I do any more editing. This will give me time to make a dent in the tower of books, and the pile of DVDs that have been mounting up recently.

But today, I have a huge smile on my face, and I intend to celebrate in a manner that befits completion of a first novel. Cheers!

Friday 25 June 2010

The Circumnavigation of the Modern Super Market

It is a curious thing, but this whole business reminded me of that lively evening back in Africa when I had to tiptoe across a sandbar littered with crocodiles. Big fellows they were, too. Of course, I did not have my revolver with me that time, and in any event this was only a visit to the premises of J. Sainsbury esq, albeit my first.

Naturally, you will be wondering what possessed a gentleman to patronize such an impersonal and unsuitable establishment but I can assure you that I was compelled to do so by a bizarre series of events that concluded with my entire domestic staff rendered unconscious. Before my man Hodges fainted dead away, he confessed in a faltering voice that we no longer kept an account with the village grocer and that the only hope of securing provisions lay in what he referred to as a “super market”.

Under normal circumstances, I would have never have entertained the idea of “shopping” – ghastly word – certainly not with so many perfectly edible animals roaming the estate. However, I remembered that the Wilberforce-Smythes intended to call that same evening and fancied that little Jenny might turn her nose up at Shetland pony sandwiches.

Clearly, there was nothing for it but to mount an expedition. Immediately, I was faced with my first problem – what was appropriate attire for such an excursion? I consulted “Haverstock’s Compendium of Sartorial Elegance for All Occasions” but drew a blank. The closest approximation was “Correct attire for touring unfamiliar areas of the Continent” but, as it turned out, the recommended tweeds and walking boots proved quite suitable for the job.

I elected to take the larger Jaguar, which started at the first attempt, and roared down through the village. My next challenge was to establish the whereabouts of Mr. Sainsbury’s place of business, but my luck was in as I fortuitously knocked Jones the postman off his bike while negotiating one of the blind corners on the Underminster Road. After assuring the poor fellow that he had not damaged my motor car, I quizzed him for directions to the “super market” Hodges had alluded to. Gamely struggling to his feet, Jones indicated the most direct route and, once we had staunched his bleeding, I bade him farewell and was away once more.

At first, I thought I must be mistaken. As a gentleman, one is unprepared for the immense nature of these so-called “retail parks”. Fearing that Jones’ directions were confused by his injuries, I was on the point of driving away when I noticed the fellow Sainsbury’s name, written large and rather tactlessly, across the front of a soul-less grey building. Judging by the size of the place, this chap had obviously done well for himself, but the plethora of gaudy orange signs were in extremely poor taste, the tell-tale mark of first generation money.

Driving past the tiresome ranks of modern vehicles, I swept into a large, convenient area outside the main doors and parked without incident. Noticing many people of indeterminate class milling around, I thought it wiser to remove the keys from the ignition and even took the precaution of instructing a loitering market worker to keep undesirables away from the Jaguar.

Passing within, I thought I had strayed into the warehouse and spent several minutes searching for the shopkeeper’s counter before I realized that the whole place seemed to operate on some wretched self-service basis. Finding this intolerable, I resolved not to lower myself to the level of the other miserable patrons. Quickly locating the nearest member of staff, a discourteous youth sporting an unsightly clip-on tie and third-degree acne, I asserted my authority and instructed him to appropriate the items I desired. Seemingly baffled by my orders, it took him several moments to get the gist, but a couple of swift whacks from my walking stick finally stirred him into action.

At this point I must confess that my inquisitive nature got the better of me and I followed my reluctant aide into the garish aisles.

Never have I seen so much luridly coloured cardboard in one place. Utilitarian shelves arranged without the slightest respect for the values of taste and style, piled high with gaudy packages… vulgar signs shrieking their gibberish with no thought for punctuation or grammar, and everywhere stained by the unholy glow of fluorescent tube lighting. My assistant seemed untroubled by this riot of bad taste, but I saw that he was a simple soul, clearly content to push his little wheeled basket around the labyrinth that was his workplace.

I instructed the poor devil to seek me out when his task was completed and, taking an apple from a huge pile, set out on my own to explore.

I had been walking for some time when I finally came upon something that I recognized. There before me, stood a fishmonger’s counter. I made my way to the front and cleared my throat to get the apron-clad youth’s attention. Sadly, the unfortunate fellow had some sort of hearing problem and I had to rap him on the shoulder several times with my stick before he turned to me. At this point, quite inexplicably, several nearby hoi-polloi started speaking in their charming regional accents, waving small scraps of paper that appeared to be raffle tickets. I was quite patient with them but eventually had to shoo them away with a large trout as this was, after all, a fish counter and not a tom bola.

Using my stick to instruct the deaf lad, I indicated that I wished to sample some of his smoked salmon. He went through some unnecessary rigmarole involving a bag and a label before handing it to me but, after trying a few mouthfuls I concluded that it wasn’t up to much and handed it back to him. The poor fellow was obviously quite shaken to discover that his wares were below par as he started babbling about something or other, but I sympathetically told him to buck up and we’d say no more about it.

By now, I had grown weary of the not-so-super market experience and elected to wait in my motor car where, I was sure, my youth and his basket of provisions would have the sense to seek me out. Retracing my steps, I picked up a newspaper and another apple and made my way through the doors towards my vehicle.

At this point, my story took a turn that I still do not fully understand. A youth in a dark jumper and an ill-fitting peaked cap accosted me, droning on about unpaid goods or some such nonsense – his mastery of the Queen’s English was tenuous to say the least – and invited me to accompany him “into the store”. I did not like the look of him and declined, politely but firmly, to visit his store room or any other of his haunts. The poor fellow nearly lost his front teeth when he impudently laid a hand on me but, not wishing to cause a scene in the presence of ladies, I merely gave him a harmless right to the stomach and left him quietly propped up against the base of a large fountain near the entrance.

I returned to the Jaguar, dismissed the man I had engaged to guard it, and enjoyed a pipe while I read the Times obituaries. In no time at all, the clip-on tie was at my window and I gave him permission to place my provisions in the back seat. I tipped the poor creature more generously than he deserved, especially as I had to roar “On account!” at him several times before he stopped bleating on about the bill. I later discovered that most of the dozen eggs he had given me turned out to be broken, probably due to the inexplicable bumps on all the roads leading in and out of the place. Confounded things give you quite a jolt – I very nearly had to slow down.

That evening, I recounted my adventures to the Wilberforce-Smythes and we all had a jolly good laugh at the peculiar people who inhabit such strange places as these super markets. Before retiring for the evening, I left instructions for my man Hodges that our account with the village grocer was to be reopened at his earliest convenience, as I have no intention of returning to Mr. Sainsbury’s establishment.

In summary, I would advise against even one visit to such a place. While the experience is undeniably new, it is not pleasant, and gentlemen of taste would be better served by a good safari or a trip to the Himalayas. However, if exceptional circumstances force your hand, I would counsel you to adopt the same approach as you would in any other uncivilised place: accept no backchat from the natives and carry a sidearm at all times. Good luck to you all.

Thursday 3 June 2010

Go West | day three

It didn’t take long to pack. We checked out of the hotel and I grabbed a coffee from the Costa downstairs. About 10 minutes later, I was sitting on the deserted beach, watching the waves glitter in the sun.

This was one of those moments that will endure – like watching the sun set over Grenada, or standing on top of an Alpine peak. Having an idyllic stretch of Cornish coastline to ourselves was just magical. The water was cold on our feet but the sun was warm and we spend a perfect morning mucking about and trying not to get too wet.

Eventually, after more genuine clotted-cream ice cream, we started our journey back, pausing briefly to take a look at the famous Jamaica Inn. Set miles inland, it’s an unlikely haunt for Cornish Wreckers, unless they were Cornish Wreckers with fast cars, but it was fun to visit nonetheless.

And now, I’m back. It’s sad when a road-trip ends, but it’s great to see Anna again. And with all the beach photos I took, I think we’ll be able to persuade her to join us when we head down there next.

Go West | day two

We were in the car early and off to the local Police station to report the tide’s theft of my iPhone. Then, pausing only for drive-thru, we set our course for the west and drove until we ran out of country. The weather went from wet and foggy to clear and dry as we passed Penzance. Land’s End felt bleak as we got out of the car, but the landscape as we approached the clifftops was stunning. We wandered out across the surrounding moorland, then made our way back to find the west-most part of the coastline.

The rugged landscape was amazing, but then the sun came out and revealed a completely different but even more beautiful place. We sat in the sun, looking out across the Atlantic, watching the vast waves crash around the rocks below.

And then we had ice cream, which was ace.

In the afternoon, we drove back to St Austell and returned to Charleston beach. We played catch in the sun, and skimmed stones. Then, we got some chips and sat on the deserted – and I really mean deserted – sea shore and watched the waves. It was perfect.

We skimmed stones, then sat on the shingle, trying to create barriers of small stones against the incoming tide. Eventually, the waves defeated us and we returned to St Austell for chess and pizza.

It was a day of days – the only thing that could improve it would have been having Anna with us, but we will see her again tomorrow. For now, I am relaxing on the bed, looking forward to breakfast on the beach tomorrow morning. It’s turning out to be a classic Road Trip.

Go West | day one

Ever since our UK tour last year, Cam has been eager for us to do another road trip. Anna said it would be good for us to go, and with the half-term holiday upon us, there seemed no reason not to. I’d mentioned that it might be cool to revisit the West Country, perhaps go as far as Land’s End, and this met with my co-pilot’s approval.

After an emotional farewell from Anna, and a jubilant “good riddance” from The Cat, we set off, making our way across the country, past Ringwood, Dorchester, Honniton and Exeter. Listening to The Lord Of The Rings audiobook, we drove around the Tolkienesque landscape of Dartmoor, and on down into Cornwall, at times wild and bleak, at times lush and verdant. Tall chimneys remain from the long-gone mining days, and we saw the scarred landscape and pyramids of debris formed by China Clay excavations as we approached St Austell.

Our hotel was ideally situated next to a Costa Coffee, McDonalds, and Pizza Hut, but we had made good time so we went immediately to the sea. On Charleston beach, we enjoyed an excellent afternoon of skimming stones and generally mucking about. We had an excellent time, marred only a little when I noticed that my iPhone had escaped my pocket, and presumably been taken by the rapidly incoming tide. We decided to purchase a pay-as-you-go phone and a quantity of Cornish Clotted Cream Fudge. Both of these may have been mistakes – the phone is from the dark ages and the fudge is impossible to stop eating.

So now, I face a few days without the net. Which, though daunting, led to an excellent evening of chess and chatting with my great friend. All in all, a great start to our Cornish Caper.

Saturday 17 April 2010

Paris, Texas

I'm still not sure how I made it through the 80s without seeing this movie. I remember being quite taken with another Wim Wenders film "Until The End Of The World", and Nastassja Kinski is extremely watchable. Yet somehow, I first saw it last night.

I'm glad I waited. Although I've always enjoyed slower-paced pieces like this, I'm now old enough to appreciate the beauty and subtlety that infuses this excellent story of a broken family trying to repair itself. There's some spectacular photography - amazing skies, rich colours, and all in the bleak wastes of the desert or the outskirts of LA. The acting is faultless, and the story builds steadily to a powerful and emotional climax. Ry Cooder's haunting soundtrack is perfect.

All this, and Nastassja Kinski too. I'm so very glad I finally saw it.

Tuesday 13 April 2010

A little closer to the end

This weekend, I finally managed to complete the main thread of my novel. I wrote what will be the final sentence, and closed my laptop with a sigh of relief. It's been a long time - much too long actually - but I can finally say goodbye to my serial killer character. At least until it's time to do the edit.

I thought I'd feel happier about it. Writing about someone like that can be rather creepy, and the sheer volume of remaining work has been hanging over me somewhat. But in the end, it was rather anticlimatic. Perhaps I'm just weary of the character. Or perhaps I'm all too aware of the large amount of writing still to be done.

The way that the story is structured, I've got somewhere between a third and a quarter of it still to go. It's time to get into the head of my emotionally damaged detective, and weave his story through the killer's. In some ways, it'll be nice to have a "change of scenery" but writing about someone with D.I. Harland's sort of outlook can be a bit gloomy at times.

Anyway, it's another milestone reached, and a step closer to the end. And that, at least, is something to be pleased about.

Tuesday 6 April 2010

Birthday Bank Holiday

This year, Anna's birthday coincided with the Easter Bank Holiday weekend so I thought it might be nice to drag her, kicking and screaming, to various shopping centres and insist that she choose lots of nice things that I could buy for her.

Saturday was spent wandering the mean streets of Bath. Fortune didn't exactly favour us - a planned visit to a glass-blowing workshop was unavailable when we arrived, and the rain made our efforts to locate particular shops a bit soggy. I thought that Google Maps on my iPhone would guide us swiftly to anywhere we desired, but Bath has recently undergone a fair bit of redevelopment, and many businesses have moved from one end of town to another.

In the end though, it all worked out. Our wanderings unexpectedly took us past a comic shop, where Cam was able to stock up on reading material. This sustained him through the periods of waiting while Anna compared and contrasted various items of clothing, before deciding what to try on.

In the end, it was a good day, but just the first installment of a double-header weekend.

Monday saw us returning to the station for another journey, this time to Bristol. We'd decided to book tickets online (seating can be very limited on that particular route) but there was an issue with the tickets when they emerged from the machine. Despite identifying this before we travelled, we had to pay for another set of tickets, and pay a non-refundable £10 admin fee to lodge a refund request, and then discover that no seating had been reserved for us. However, I have learned the valuable lesson that you should never ever use First Great Western's website, so that's something I suppose.

Bristol was great fun. We stopped at a lovely patisserie where my eggs benedict was just so beautifully done that Cam actually admitted that he wished he'd ordered it too. This finally brought balance and closure to the great Stirling Fish Finger Sandwich issue from our Road Trip last year, and I think we can all move on with our lives ;-)

After taking time to consider all the shops, Anna returned to Harvey Nichols and bought the boots I knew she was going to. Everyone was lovely to her, allowing her to savour the retail moment, despite an effeminate little personal shopper who bleated something about "not taking photos in store".

And then it was time to leave, escaping from Bristol before the credit card company could get a response team out to hose down my overheating credit card.

Cake, chocolate, comics (and in Anna's case, dresses and handmade boots) - a good time was had by all.

Wednesday 10 March 2010

Where will it all end?

I've been deferring the inevitable moment for quite some time, but I have now hit the new level-cap in Lord Of The Rings Online.

Which is bad.

I shudder to think how many hours I've spent in this game, let alone how much it costs to play month after month. The truly scary thing is that my habit shows no sign of abating. As well as having a character at the maximum level 65, I also have a second one at level 52, so there's plenty more game to play. And, by the time I've maxed both of them out, there will doubtless be another expansion pack available to download...

I'm still in control. I don't need LOTRO Anonymous, not yet anyway. I could give it all up tomorrow if I wanted. But tonight, maybe I'll just play for one more hour...

Sunday 28 February 2010

Mac and me - the beginning

For the longest time, I made derisive comments about Macs. I ridiculed their lack of software, their unbuttoned mice, and their style-over-substance design. I certainly never intended to get one.

But in the end, I was driven into the arms of a Mac by my PC. Partly it's the constant angst of virus threats, the endless Windows updates, and the fact that the computer frequently gets bogged down doing myseterious tasks that I never asked it to do. Mainly though, it's the fact that my photos look too light / too dark / the wrong colour.

Now I know that this is largely down to my monitor. But my most recent monitor has recently decided to get upset with the drivers for my graphics card and really don't see why I should be expected to deal with this nonsense anymore. It's supposed to work.

Apple products seem to just work. They do what they're meant to and they do it pretty well. I bought an iPod, and it was great. I bought an iPhone and it was great. So I have high hopes for the Mac I have now bought.

Sure, it feels weird not knowing my way around. Everything seems a little too friendly and simple for someone who's spent years on PCs. But the biggest problem is that I can now see my photos perfectly. And I can now understand why so many of them were getting rejected by the stock photo agencies - all those simple lighting and colour issues that I could have easily fixed if I'd been able to see them.

So, fingers crossed, this is the start of a beautiful friendship. I'll still play games on my PC and use it for music and web stuff. At least, I will until it annoys me into doing those things on the Mac...

Thursday 25 February 2010

Another year older...

It's a curious thing, but every birthday after 29 seems to have come with a slight tinge of regret. At first, I thought it was all in my head, but now I'm beginning to suspect that I really am becoming a grown-up, with all the disappointment and hassle that entails.

The clincher was probably when Anna asked me not to shave for a few days, saying she'd like to see what I looked like with a beard. I pointed out that she'd seen that before, but I had a couple of days off so I went along with the idea. The results weren't great - beards seldom are - but in my case I seem to have a random scattering of silver stubble that makes the darker bits look dreadfully patchy. It wasn't something I'd particularly noticed before, and then I remembered that my oncoming birthday had a "4" as its first digit, and made the connection.

Age approaches. And with it, I can doubtless expect a host of other unwelcome changes. How long before I start buying clothes from Marks & Spencer? How long before the Daily Express starts to make sense? How long before I start tidying up after myself?

Overall, I suspect being ancient is probably going to be rubbish, but there are silver linings, of course. My beautiful wife (despite being older than me) seems to have completely avoided aging since I met her, so she's almost getting younger in a comparative sense. And nobody expects me to have mainstream music tastes any more (though to be fair, I never did). And, most important of all, I get cake today.

So, just as I did when I got to my thirties, I'm going to tell myself that these ones doesn't matter - I'm not old until the next multiple-of-ten milestone. Now, about that cake...

Wednesday 20 January 2010

The "E" Word

Oh dear, it's an election year again, and that means politics. Of course, this can sometimes be the source of some good fun, and I was taking a look through some websites when I came across this modified poster.

The caption made me smile, but it also made me think about something rather sad.

Going to one of the best schools in the country is now something shameful.

"He went to Eton" is a phrase often delivered with the same tone as "He parks in handicapped spaces" or "He's cruel to animals".

How messed up is that? It's one thing to feel threatened by a home counties accent, but quite another to suggest that anyone lucky enough to receive the finest education should really aspire to an inner-city comprehensive. "We certainly wouldn't want our Prime Minister to have attended a good school - whatever would the Europeans think?!"

Our society is tolerant, but it can be tolerant of the wrong things. Drink-driving is wrong. Theft is wrong. Violence is wrong. Going to a particular school, whether it's Eton or Swanmore Secondary School*, isn't.

*Well, Eton's all right, but I'm not sure I'd recommend Swanmore if that awful Mr Carlin is still on the staff ;-)