Northern Hemisphere Crow Stuff

A very interesting and enjoyable page on Facebook for the last several months has been ‘The Official Crow, Raven & Other Corvid Fan Page’ – of which I’m a member.

With monotonous regularity, some member will ask, “What’s the difference between a raven and a crow?” With the same regularity, the Old Guard members respond with the same answers.

In western Europe, the difference between a raven (Corvus frugilegus) and a carrion crow (Corvus corone) is straightforward. (FYI, ravens are MUCH bigger, and their beaks are huge.)

Having suggested to the page’s administrators that they have a header document outlining the various species’ characteristics, the idea was accepted – which meant, of course, that Muggins had to do it.

Several hours’-worth of work resulted in a table of about twenty species which was place on the FB page today. The membership-feedback has apparently been quite good.

The Humber Estuary: A Biography (working title)

As far as I know, no single book has ever addressed the Humber estuary (note: it’s NOT a river!).

I started work on a ‘biography’ of the estuary many years ago, collecting information while I was busy on the now-completed Cleethorpes book (see previous posts).

After a trip of several days around the estuary (and other trips to several tributaries), to re-familiarise myself with it, to learn new (for me) parts, and to take notes and photographs, I had plenty to use for the book.

New work on ‘The Humber Estuary: A Biography’ (a working title) has begun in earnest, and as of the date of this post, we are travelling up the west bank of the River Trent – towards the point at which it joins the Yorkshire River Ouse, to form

The Humber Estuary!
Continue reading The Humber Estuary: A Biography (working title)

JKJ and Me

I’ve been a great admirer of Jerome K Jerome since the age of about 11, when I read ‘The Idle Thought of an Idle Fellow’ (1886), a series of very funny observations upon the peculiarities of Victorian life. Since then, I’ve read most of his humorous books and some of his serious works (like ‘The Passing of Third Floor Back’ – and, of course, his autobiography, ‘My Life and Times’ (1926)).

In the intervening years, I have pulled together a very large collection of JKJ’s books, including his famous ‘Three men in a Boat’ (‘TMIAB’, 1889) and its sequel, ‘Three Men on the Bummel’ (1900). I have also ahd the oppportunity of seeing several stage productions of ‘TMIAB’.

Recently, a theatre company called ‘Kick in the Head’ brought Giles Shelton’s one-man show of JKJ’s most famous book, ‘TMIAB’ to Grantham. The local museum bit my hand off at the offer to set up a contemporaneous exhibition, based upon my collections of books and ephemera.

For the week either side of the one-man show, the exhibition has been open to the public from Thursday to Saturday.
It appears to have been very successful – and has certainly elicited many complimentary comments!

Listeria and Me

As part of a recent job interview, I was invited to start with a 20-25-minute presentation on “Listeria in Food: An Overview of Test Methods, Result Interpretation and Impacts”.

Since I have been involved with testing foodstuffs and other materials for Listeria, spp. from the outset of its appearance on the scene in the mid-1980s, it seemed appropriate to make this personal: Listeria and Me!

Listeria, spp. – An Experience

Cleethorpes: My Home Town (2)

Having recently found that it is possible to self-publish a book without forking out ridiculous sums of money – free, in fact – I have been scribbling like mad (well, typing) on my Cleethorpes book.
This entails updating all of the 80-odd sections with information from all of the cuttings which I’ve been amassing over the last few years. Using the internet for finding additional data on such things as local individuals is, of course a must.
It’s very unfortunate that one excellent source of information about what is now North East Lincolnshire, the Cleethorpes Chronicle, folded last year.
So far, the book total nearly 5Mb of writing.
It’s been a long while since I’ve been back to my home town, so a visit to see inevitable changes to the place is well overdue!

Dystonia and Botulinum Toxin

I’m pleased to announce that the in-house journal of the Royal Society of Biology (formerly Institute of Biology), ‘Biologist’ published a review article on the use of Clostridium botulinum toxin in the treatment of dystonias.

The article, ‘The Power of Poison’, was written in conjunction with my friend – and consultant at the Royal Hallamshire hospital, Sheffield – Dr. Richard Grunewald.

The article is also the ‘Biologist’ website:


Having (fairly recently) re-approached the gastropod book with a view to updating the systematics and taxonomy, I have taken the opportunity also to make a new start on its sister book on bivalves.

Since the above entailed reviewing the species checklist, I have made checklists of the other molluscan classes for Britain and northwest Europe: Monoplacophora, Aplacophora, Polyplacophora (or Amphineura; chitons), Scaphopoda (tusk-shells), Cephalopoda.

Another group, the Brachiopoda, while not molluscs, are in the same superphylum, Lophophorata – and the list for the group is now completed.

Lophophorata Systematics:

Domain: EUKARYOTA Whittaker & Margulis, 1978 (= Eucarya Woese)
Subdomain: UNIKONTA Cavalier-Smith, 2002
Superkingdom:OPISTHOKONTA Cavalier-Smith, 1987
Clade: FILOZOA Shalchian-Tabrizi, Minge, Espelund, Orr, Ruden, Jakobsen and Cavalier Smith, 2008
Clade: APOIKOZOA Budd and Jensen, 2015
Kingdom: ANIMALIA Linné, 1758 (= Metazoa Huxley, Polycytozoa auctt.)
Subkingdom: EUMETAZOA Butschli, 1910
Unranked: BILATERIA Hatschek, 1888
Clade: NEPHROZOA Jondelius, et al., 2002 (= Protostomia [see below] + Deuterostomia Grobben)
Clade: PROTOSTOMIA Grobben, 1908(= Gastroneuralia Harschek, Protostoma auctt.)
Clade: SPIRALIA Nielsen, 1995(≡ Lophotrochozoa Halanych)
Superphylum: LOPHOPHORATA Hyman, 1959 (=PlatyzoaCavalier-Smith, Tentaculata Ax)

A Field Guide to the Marine Gastropods …

As well as my Cleethorpes book (see separate post), I have been preparing a book entitled, ‘A Field Guide to the Marine Gastropods of Britain and northwest Europe’.

The Field Guide describes over 800 species (from northern France to the North Pole) in detail, as well as their habits, habitats, ranges and European distributions.

The book was originally intended as a sister-guide to Kerney and Cameron’s ‘Land Snails of Britain and northwest Europe (Collins) – but, again, I have been unable to find a publisher.

As with the Cleethorpes book, I shall keep trying…

Lincolnshire Life: Index

I pride myself in being knowledgeable about all things Lincolnshire. To this end, I have published an index to the first 30 years of the county’s monthly magazine, Lincolnshire Life.

Entitled ‘Annotated General- and People Indices of Lincolnshire Life magazine, 1961-1990′, it is 231 pages long and in three parts: general; people; and professions).

The index is available from the printers, Pott Morton, in Lincoln (, for the knock-down price of £30 a copy.

If you’re also interested in all things Lincolnshire, you could find that the index will very useful!