Colin Fine's home page

At present this page is little more than some links connected with my various interests. In time I shall add more content.

Contents

Theatre

I have only been doing (as opposed to watching) theatre since 1991, but I have become active in:

Since July 2014, I have been the owner of the Bradford Playhouse

I have a listing of my past and scheduled theatrical activities here

Language

I have been dabbling in languages for nearly 40 years. My first specific memory is when my parents gave me a copy of The Tree of Language by Helene and Charlton Laird for my ninth birthday, but presumably this was because I was already showing signs of interest.

In my teens I used to get Teach Yourself books out of the library, with their distinctive blue and yellow dust-jackets (they weren't in paperback then).

My father went to Japan on business when I was ten, and bought himself a copy of Teach Yourself Japanese before he went. He barely got into it at all, but I appropriated it, and studied it so much over the next ten years that it fell to bits. Not that I learned to speak Japanese, quite, but I certainly learned a good deal about Japanese.

Over the years, I have realised that my interest in languages is much more about how they work, and how they are alike and different, than in actually learning to speak them. Learning to read them comes somewhere in the middle: I have read books in French, German, Swedish and Esperanto, and substantial parts of books in Danish, Welsh, Hebrew, Russian and Polish. The languages I have studied most recently have been Amharic, Albanian and Georgian - again, in no wise have I attained any competence in them, but I have a feel for how they work.

In this connection, I have been reading texts in linguistics for nearly thirty years. My chief interests are historical and comparative linguistics, and grammatical theory. I have been a member of the Philological Society since around 1980, though since I moved to Yorkshire I haven't attended any meetings.

Constructed Languages

Like many people with an interest in language, I played around with constructing languages, I remember an effort that Simon Buck and I were playing with at University in 1975, called Zartu - I think we were trying to make it as baroque as possible, though we still did not out-weird Volapük, which was the first planned language to have any kind of success.

In about 1979 Chris Dollin introduced me to Loglan, which was unusual among constructed languages in that it was never intended as a universal auxiliary language, still less a panacea for all humankind's ills. It began as an experimental tool (though the intended experiment has never been performed) and became a pursuit for its own sake for many people.

In the late 80's, Loglan schismed, in a way disturbingly reminiscent of the breakup of Volapük a hundred years earlier: a group of practitioners wanted to move the language in a particular direction, but the inventor viewed this as a palace coup, and tried to excommunicate the revolutionaries.

In the case of Loglan, James Cooke Brown, the originator, sought to hobble the innovators by asserting copyright on the whole language. Though sure this would not stand up in court, the other party chose to avoid confrontation (and take the opportunity to have another crack at logogenesis) by recreating the vocabulary anew. Loglan (from English 'logical language') was translated into the new form as logji bangu and thus was born Lojban, child of Loglan.

We thus now have two languages with almost the same word structure, similar grammar (though with significant differences), a few words in common, but most words different. Up to a point it is possible to translate mechanically from Loglan to Lojban or vice versa, but only so far. Since James Cooke Brown died there have been some attempts at rapprochement.

I have been active in Lojban on and off since 1990. At one time Andrew Smith and I were meeting regularly to try and talk Lojban. I have not been very active the last few years, but I still keep a stock of copies of The Complete Lojban Language for sale (£28 plus p&p).

Music and Dance

From time to time I sing with one or other of the choral groups associated with The Tasmin Little Music Centre at Bradford University.

I wrote a number of songs in the 80's and 90's. Some of them are on my 'songs' page, where you can see the lyrics and download the sheet music in various forms.

I both danced and played accordian (not usually at the same time) with Boars Head Morris Men of Bradford from 1991 until their demise in 2006, and now with Great Yorkshire Morris. Most years I go to Gloucestershire Morris Men's annual Pat Snelling Weekend of Dance in Cheltenham in September, and in 2011 we are again hosting a weekend of dance in Raskelf in June, together with Persephone Women's Morris of Bradford.

Science Fiction Conventions

I have been attending SF Conventions since 1975, though since 1990 I have generally gone to only one a year: the Eastercon, or British national convention. The 2009 Eastercons LX was the first to be held in Bradford - and I spent most of it in hospital with a septic thumb (I did get to the last two days though). The next Easteron is Odyssey 2010 at London Heathrow.

Personal development

In 1988 a friend was enthusing about an intensive weekend course she had taken in London that had 'changed her life'. I couldn't see any change, but I decided that I really ought to see what the loonies got up to before I scoffed (I think that was the phrase I used at the time, though I may have invented it later).

I took what is now called The More to Life Weekend in London and, yes, it changed my life. But not in one blinding flash - it began a process which took years to develop (and is still going). I thought of it as cracking the eggshell, but hatching was a lengthy, sometimes halting process.

A significant step was three months later when I fell into a managerial post at work. I spent half a week being upset and depressed, then at the weekend I got together with another person from the Life Training Course, who helped me go through one of the 'processes' we had learned and practiced on the weekend. This process, called 'clearing', consists essentially of hearing the 'inner commentary' that we have running through our heads most of the time, and verifying which of the things it is telling us are true, and which not. In the course of the process I discovered that 'I don't want to be a manager' (which I had believed for years) was not true, but covered over a belief along the lines of 'if I take responsibility, I'll fail and make a mess of it'.

Asserting to myself that this was not true, I determined to do my best in this new role: people saw the difference in me on Monday morning; and six months later, when my team released a new version of our software, we got a letter from our biggest customer saying roughly 'You've given us exactly what you said you would, and when you said you would. We never thought we were going to get that from your company.'

Of course that was not all my doing - I had a good team. But without the tool I had learned on the weekend - and the self-knowledge that allowed me to realise the potential of the tool - I don't believe I would ever have made a success of that role, and deployed the skills that I proved to have.

Later, I did more work in the Life Training Programme, including teaching two of their courses as evening classes, now called The Power of Self Esteem and The Power of Purpose. After a gap of several years, I have resumed teaching Power of Self Esteem in 2008, and I intended to continue.

We are currently planning a More To Life weekend in Manchester, 29-31 October 2010.

Mathematics

I hope in time to expand this section significantly, and include some illustrations

Even though I changed from Maths to Law after my first year at University, I have always retained a keen interest in some part of mathematics (I used to say, not entirely flippantly, that I changed in order to keep my interest).

I have explored many different areas at different times, but one field I keep returning to is polytopes (polygons, polyhedra etc). I discovered for myself the six platonic polychora (4-dimensional polytopes), and the doubly infinite series of archimedean polychora that I call 'bi-prisms', because their cells are polygonal prisms of two kinds.

I have been worrying for years at the problem of why there are only six polychora, rather than eleven. (The point is that in three dimensions Euler's equation is inhomogeneous, so from a chosen vertex figure one can calculate the number of faces, or demonstrate that there is no solution with that vertex figure. In four dimensions the extension of Euler's equation is homogeneous, so that the vertex figure does not determine the number of cells, nor can one demonstrate directly that certain vertex figures cannot occur - these are the missing five polychora I referred to above).

I have recently looked at Coxeter's Regular Polytopes, and discovered that he does give a formula for the number of cells in a polychoron, but I have not penetrated far enough into this rewarding but dense book to understand it.

However, in pursuing my own researches on this question, I stumbled on a rather interesting generalisation which I have not been able to find any references to anywhere else. I was trying to develop a series of axioms which would characterise polytopes of arbitary dimension, but abstractly, without reference to common experience of geometry or topology. In this framework one of the axioms stood out as utterly arbitrary: all the rest made some sort of sense, but the restriction that a 1-tope must have exactly two 0-topes (or in more normal language, that an edge has exactly two ends), appeared completely arbitrary.

So for the past couple of years I have been (haltingly) exploring what happens when this axiom is changed. I have found for example that if an 'edge' has three 'points', then the two-dimensional simplex (analogue to the triangle) is a heptagon! (Its symmetry group has order 168). There is one octagon, and two distinct uniform enniagons. In three dimensions, I have found the simplex (a 15-hedron with 15 heptagons), but not yet found any other polyhedra: those with Schläfli numbers {7,8} (certainly) and {8,8} (I think) do not exist.

I would refer to these things as generalised polytopes (drawing partly from 'generalised graph theory', of which their nets would be examples), but unfortunately 'generalised polygon' seems to have been bagged for something else, which I don't understand at all, but clearly has nothing to do with my objects.

I will certainly continue to explore these things (I have learned a great deal of elementary group theory by thinking about them - I remember the thoery of groups from my undergraduate course, but never really had a familiarity with specific groups), and I intend to post a more detailed treatment here in future; but I would be delighted to hear from anybody else who has done any work on them.

Railways and Canals

Let me come straight out and admit it: I am deeply interested in railways. However, in mitigation, I would point out that I haven't the slightest interest in trains.

What interests me is when and where the railways and stations were built, who built them, why and when they closed: I'm somewhat interested in where you could get a train to on such and such a date, but I don't give a toss what you were hauled by.

This interest extends also to canals, and with the same limitation: I'm not interested in boats.

Unsurprisingly, I'm most interested in districts I have some knowledge of, so most of my reading has concentrated on:

I have started some serious research into railways round Bradford, discussed here.


Page created by Colin Fine. i Last updated: 2014/10/03