Family and other interests
The Valentine Alcock Scholarship
Valentine Alcock was my half-brother. He died when taking a year out before going to Cambridge
University. As well as a promising scientist, Valentine was an accomplished musician. In his
memory, the family have for many years endowed a scholarship for a young person to participate
in a music summer school. Since 2008, the scholarship has been more formally established as a
charity with more funding and a wider remit. See the
Motor Neurone Disease
MND is a terrible disease of the nervous system. Sufferers gradually lose the ability
to make their muscles work. So the muscles waste away until the person can no longer speak, and
eventually no longer breathe. There is no loss of mental ability, so they are aware all along
of what is happening and what will happen.
Probably the best known sufferer is Professor
Stephen Hawking, who had MND for many years, but he had a very slow developing form of MND:
most people survive only a year or two after diagnosis. MND has touched my life particularly
through watching first my stepfather and then a young academic colleague die of it.
There is no cure, although in recent years research has yielded some promising leads and at
least one drug that seems to slow the disease's progression. Further research funding is
desperately needed. Check out the MND Association.
Family internet links
Now on a more up-beat note, here are some contacts for my family.
My son Richard writes about sport and music, and has contributed in the following places:
Uncle Sam Sports (American football),
and Little Indie and
R2 (music). Some years ago, he wrote
The Memory Blog, which many people found
amusing and even quite inspiring.
My son-in-law Andrew (known to all and sundry as Pat) also
blogs, but since he's a software architect or
some other synomym for computer geek, it's all Greek to most of us. (That's rich, coming
from a statistician!)
Other interests and hobbies
I love playing board games, and there's a great website for board
game geeks. Some of my current favourites are
Settlers of Catan, Village (with the Village Inn extension), Neptun, Ticket to Ride Europe, Parks,
Azul Summer Pavilion, Dinner in Paris and Akropolis.
Alhambra and Carcassonne (with their various extensions) are also enduring friends.
And some nice lighter games include Love Letter, Maori, Robo Ralley, Tsuro and Paris Connection.
Probably the best, and one of the cheapest, sources of games in the UK is
Zatu Games. Another useful link is
Board Game Arena, which is a website for playing
boardgames online remotely; I use it to play with my daughter and her family in California.
I have recently revived a childhood interest in a construction system called Brickplayer. Everyone is familiar
with Lego, which began life as mainly for constructing houses and other buildings. The idea of
Brickplayer is to build such things using real miniature bricks and mortar. The result is much more
realistic than a Lego building, as well as being more demanding to build. I am now creating a bunch of pages dedicated
to Brickplayer, which can be accessed from the Brickplayer home page.
Finally, do you love folk music?
My old friend Ian Robb
is a leading light in Canadian folk-song circles.
Updated: 9 December 2023
Maintained by: Tony O'Hagan