Saturday, 28 February 2009


This has ruined my evening today. Not that it is at fault itself, but the audio part thereof! Since I last reinstalled XP (don't ask) the sound has been only half as loud as it ought to be. So this afternoon listening to the kickabout in Dundee I had to put the speaker to my ear at important times. I decided enough was enough and scrubbed the drivers and sought to reinstall them. I have no sound whatsoever now! I sought the right drivers, I think, installed and failed. I tried others and failed, all evening I have been failing when I ought to have been failing at something useful!

Ah well, the day started brightly as I cycled past those folk dog walking this morning. How nice to feel my knees ache as I pushed up the hill. Some folks thought the squeaking was the bike! I had hoped this would lead to a day of action and practical purpose. I was wrong! I also note that the folks I bought this from on E-Bay, who were helpful at first, appear to have disappeared. I wonder if they have closed down and reopened under a new name, not that I am suspicious or anything........

Now, what can I break tomorrow?

Friday, 27 February 2009


Friday Blogging is for the aged, the decrepit, the sick or the loner. That is the impression I get when Friday comes around. Sure the parent or babysitter will be tuned in, although I suggest young babysitters will be tuned in elsewhere via a mobile phone or a 'Bebo' connection. But most folk are just too busy having a life to blog about having a life. Do you remember when we had a life? One day we must blog about that.Anyway that leaves us! While the world fills itself with the delights on offer we are left to pass on to the unheeding masses our vital communications that may not be read until Monday, if at all that is. Does this cruel world not realise what it misses on a Friday night? Can they afford to ignore all those keys that are pressed while they face the real world? Or could this be the reason they are sitting in public houses, theatres, cinemas restaurants and the like? Does the need to keep the nations economy turning drive them out or is it the inane self deluding babble that often results from a keyboard under control of the wrong person make them run to the bright lights?. What are you looking at me for?

Had there been an audience available I would have bored informed you with the state of my knees. I have become so unfit sitting here writing begging letters, not worth the effort I must say no-one answers during a recession, and getting back into the habit of cycling daily is a priority. The bad weather, flu bugs that never die and sloth have all combined to lessen the exercise and my knees are so stiff whenever I wander around the locale. Knee ache makes me wish I could afford the cost of the 'Thai Massage and Takeaway Curry Service.' This is a blow in several ways. However I will await next week when Spring itself is officially unveiled once more and rejoicing can begin! I love the Spring, it is my favourite time of year. It speaks of new life, warmth and gladness and makes me want to break out into poetry. Thankfully I will resist this - for the time being.

The potential audience stuffing 'Tikka Marsala' or 'Chop Suey' down their throat while swallowing industrial quantities of Chardonnay may not be interested in my adventures in 'Tesco' or 'Sainsburys.' Neither am I to be honest. Just another day of looking for 'value' produce and wondering why my idea of 'Men Only' shopping days never took off. I did suggest this in times past in the local paper and received nothing but abuse from women who think their selfish, slow way of trailing around a shop slowly, blocking aisles with their trolleys or gathering in groups to gossip is acceptable.Phone calls and letters to the paper showed a lack of equality in this area. However I continue with my search for a better shopping environment. When confronted with Tracy and her friends behaving like the Chavs they are I may suggest a friendly word like 'GERROUTOFTHEWAYBINT' which doesn't always bring a favourable response. I can confirm that the suggestion at the checkout "Using two hands to pack bags rather than use the other one to talk to Sharon on the phone" would be easier, also brings a breakdown in communication. Picking up a sponge and offering this to them while questioning whether this had fallen out of their skull often goes slightly over their head I find. However, no-one is interested in such things as this on a Friday.

Friday is a time for fun and laughter, a time to let the hair down and a ....O sod that. I'm off to bed. Goodnight.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Brain Training?

According to the BBC News Item, all those folks spending their cash on games designed to improve the brain are wasting their time. 'Which', the consumer organisation, have done a study of these games and concluded that doing a crossword is just as useful if you wish to avoid Alzheimer's or just going 'Ga-Ga' as you get older. Some of you out there, you know who you are, will be happy to here this! No more spending up to a £100 for a game plus console, now all you need do is borrow someones paper and do their crossword for them. They will be pleased.
The main reason they are pushed by celebrities, and they know ways to make money that would embarrass even a banker, is to line their pockets by assuring you that a healthy brain will keep you sane until death. After that you are on your own! They are so clever that they know you will listen to them because they are believable - proof indeed that you need to train your brain and quickly! My mother is 94, she would not know, nor wish to know how to use one of these machines, but her brain is still working OK. She does crosswords and watches quiz shows and then wastes her life watching 'soaps!' Had she avoided the latter she would have worked out how to become rich by now!

The brain is a fantastic creation. Some years ago I worked in a hospital that specialised in neurology and neurosurgery - brain operations and nerve diseases to you. Obviously I was low down the importance scale, but not too far down for passing doctors to look in my ear and whisper, "I can't see your problem," as they passed by. Why one of them hung the sign, 'Out of order please do not use,' on my jacket button one day was never explained. However reading the books and relevant notes when possible, it was interesting to see just how powerful the brain actually is, and how little of this machine we actually use! Operations led to the destruction of many brain cells, and often patients had to relearn how to read - by using the other side of their brain! The damaged brain showed awful results in some cases, and years of care were needed for some. They often were the lucky ones. I came across this site tonight and it looks a great read. Once we have worked our way through that we will not need Carol Vorderman making money out of us to keep the 'little gray cells' alive.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Wednesday Fun

So I went driving, at 9 am this morning! An hour before I get up!

He has a sick sense of humour this man!

Anyway arriving back I came upstairs and gave thanks I was still alive.He informed me he does this every time he gets home, and now I understand why!

Behind me, slumped on the couch, Michael, my Guardian Angel, grasped a brandy bottle in his hand.

"Here, you don't drink," I reminded him.

"I do now," he muttered between gulps."I never used to till you came along with this driving malarkey!"

He lay back, feet on the small table in front of him muttering things in an unknown language.

I er, didn't like to ask..........

Certainly it was an interesting day. Straight along the old Roman Road into big town and round every roundabout in the place. "I thought you and roundabouts needed tightening up," he muttered. By the fifteenth I needed straightening out and muttered quite a bit myself!

His instructions were clear.

"Left here"


"Left, then right at the next," He did not mention there was only 20 feet between them and it meant changing lanes in heavy traffic.

"Right here, middle lane, then signal left, mind the kerb"

"30 speed limit here not 50, left at the lights"

"I think it may be you as the gears usually go into the right slot when everyone else does it"

"Right at this one, then left, mind that silver CAAAAR"

"What silver car? Where"

"40 limit, that is a limit, not a suggestion"

"I know he has stopped, that's because it's your right of way and he doesn't trust you"

"Don't stop the lights are green, left, BRAKE!!!"

"Left, and never mind why I am using a rosary"

"Pedestrian crossiiiiiNNNGG!! Yes I braked. It's OK, she's just a chav, she will roll off at the next roundabout, the pram will follow"

"That's fourth gear that's why we are juddering like a lifeboat in a gale"

"Good stop, I can walk to the pavement from here!"

Now my mate Michael has finished the bottle, but strangely it still appears full. He mutters something about a rest and disappears leaving me to burn my dinner. I wonder if he will do what he said last time and ask for the big boss's help come the actual test?

What's that burning? Ah I know, dinners ready.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Brain Strain

I had to go into the big town today for an assessment test for the job in the dole office. The recession is bringing 250 a week to sign on round here alone and the biggest job creation is the fourteen places on offer at the dole office! How sad is that? This, however, was a strain all round. A strain to work out bus timetables, a strain enduring the test and those also taking it, and a great strain enduring both literate and numeric testing. The latter was easier than the first surprisingly. In fact the bus journey was so enjoyable I almost forgot to get off at the terminus. Sitting at the back happily taking in the scenery, scenery I miss when driving with both sweaty hands on the steering wheel, and in a bus devoid of the worst thing about 'public transport,' the 'public!' Only a few dozy folks used this service and I was glad.

The town hall where we took the test stood in Victorian grandeur, full of pomp and full also of pictures of past grandees who I suggest were well pleased with themselves. Large windows, thirty foot high, with stained glass decoration celebrating the towns history and glorifying the rich personage who donated them let light into the halls. Everything was in tip top condition and well cared for. The excellent Great War Memorial, glass fronted and gilt framed, contained hundreds of names of those who did not return. Along the street a huge dark angel with massive wings stands as a memorial to their sacrifice, on one one side a mourning maid, on the other a downcast knight. I can only guess what the remnants who returned would have been thinking when that was revealed! Outside the building itself the main street was a dump! Dirty down at heel shops, not helped by winter weather and the colossal amount of traffic passing by! The Roman history is clearly seen in the towns layout, and this does not make for good road traffic management. A historical town, with a flourishing tourist trade but very dingy and disappointing today. The newly upgraded building clearly serves its purpose but I wonder if the council who use it serve theirs?

The literate test was simple - just find fifteen faults. I only found fourteen, and that by repeating one! The maths was actually easier and I am maths dumb. However I guessed rather than calculated, using the well worn 'common sense method rather than a calculator, when doing the percentages. It was all too much and I still had one to do at the end. However they marked them then and there, it was a quite simple set up, and at the end I discovered I had passed and now await a proper interview which surely I must fail! if not then I can only suggest the standards are slipping! Roll on to the next fortnight! I am glad that the time is earlier than today's mind. On the way home the bus, which takes just over an hour, picked up kids from the college who sat near me! here was I tired from a day of thinking surrounded by horrible youths - and most of them female! naturally this meant horrid music when the phones rang, and they rang! I know what they are doing tonight, when mum is picking them up, why his back hurts and he can't work and lot's of other things I could have ended with a rusty bayonet! But it could have been worse.....

Good job I'm not one to complain.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Cheap Books Rule......up to a point!

Now I like Josephus! He may have a tendency to exaggerate, he may be slightly proud, he may even be wrong, but I like him. His books give you the 'feeling' for biblical days and show just how difficult life was at that time. There are huge swathes of the world that fare no better today! There is however always a problem with cheap books. Either they are stained, marked or, as in this case, out of copyright productions. This edition was translated by one William Whiston in 1737! Not only am I reliably informed that he is none to accurate his English idiom is so out of date as to be unreadable to the modern eye! Having been brought up on the 'Authorised Version' I find it easier to read than someone born in the last forty years would, even so at times it made no sense whatsoever.

Josephus, as you know, was a Jew charged with defending Galilee from the invading Roman army led by Vespasian. He claims to have been a moderate and unwilling to oppose the might of Rome, but he would wouldn't he? He managed to surrender himself to Vespasian and claiming the gift of prophecy foretold that the general would become Emperor! A year later Nero was removed and after a short debate, at the point of a sword, Vespasian was indeed declared Emperor of Rome! Josephus was released and became a friend to Titus, the son, now also called Caesar, who took over the army from his father. Josephus took their side and attempted to persuade the zealots in Jerusalem to surrender. This made him an enemy to the Jews, a problem he was left with for life. However once all was settled he took up residence in Rome and granted a pension he settled down to write the story of the war appropriately named, The Jewish War,' and later wrote the Antiquities. The whole idea of the book was to explain the Jewish nation to the Greek world. (Yes I know Rome dominated but they all spoke Greek and the Jews referred to them all as Greek, and anyway it doesn't matter now!) Antiquities is basically the history found in the Old Testament paraphrased for the Roman world. He continues right up to the days of the war giving us the only real information from that time. Tacitus and Philo wrote also but Tacitus work is incomplete and as I have not read the other you can google that yourself! Apparently he diverges from Flavius Josephus, but with historians what's new?

While the speeches are put into the mouths of the speaker, Thucydides style, he certainly had some actual information of the history of the times from official records. Our author therefore becomes one of the most important historical evidences for the time as few others wrote so much about the Roman army organisation, the people and actions of the time in regions far from Rome. Rome of course was all that really interested the Roman historians! I suspect his reams of interest in the palace intrigues had more to do with the readers desire for 'soap opera' tales. They sold well then as they do now. In spite of his failings a read of this book, (those well versed in the O.T. need only start in the days after Alexander arrives), a read of this book gives a 'feel' for the world before and after Jesus, who gets a passing mention as does John the Baptist. One thing is clear the number of 'messiahs,' prophets, leaders, who came and went, each gathering a crowd around them, puts the reaction of the authorities to Jesus in their place. We can understand their fear and we can understand why most people of the day probably had little contact with the real Messiah at any time, there were so many! Just like today I suppose!

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Saturday Weather

Ah Saturday! A day to get away from the stress of the work week and enjoy the world around us!
Not much change for me then.
However, today the sun shone, the sky was blue and, dressed appropriately I entered the outside world. Immediately I almost froze to death! Someone forgot to turn the heat up! Why O why does the sun shine so brightly yet not give off any heat? Is it because the energy folk have turned it down in an attempt to save money for their shareholders? However I wondered along part of the old railway enjoying the Finches singing in the trees. How lovely to see the little birds singing as they chase among the branches, often stopping to drop little messages on you as you pass. A blackbird sang to me as I walked so I sang back to it. A little woman walking her dog accelerated somewhat as I responded to the bird, and I thought she was moving rather to quickly for someone her age.
When in lived in London I used to fantasise about walking through the country.Being surrounded by houses and streets gets to you after a while. One job took me on a hundred mile drive and yet we never left the built up area. The driver was worn out at the end of that particular route. I was OK. Out here I am close to the countryside and that need for greenery has lessened. I can actually drive through the country once a week, and sometimes catch glimpses of it over the tightly gripped steering wheel.
As I turned back at the far end of the line I saw high above the industrial estate, a flock of pigeons hurrying around in a large flock.They were concerned about the sparrowhawk, or was it possibly a Kestrel, not far off. That hunter was itself accompanied by a large black crow. The pair reminded me of a Spitfire chasing a Messerschmidt, the two of them circled around, a mere foot from each other, until the dangerous had been escorted out of the area. he was very lucky as usually there are a large number of crows (or could they be rooks) in that area. For him this could have been very dangerous! The Saturday hordes, intent on saving their cash in these recession hit days, carried on regardless of the trauma overhead.
Later I noticed it was after five in the evening and the light was still good. Almost like Spring! So I wandered around, looking for left over veg from the emptying market place, and returned home disappointed with my meagre finds. Ah me, another week at the soup kitchen then.
However as I got home I managed to note the pic above. It does not convey how pink the sky was at the time but the idea was there. The best time of the year is when the nights get shorter and the days longer. The girls wear less to attract the men they fancy - and then walk with their noses in the air if you look at them, especially if you are not the one they fancy. Some indeed react very strangely if you suggest ways in which they could pass their time, at least that one near the robins nest down the old railway reacted somewhat strangely to my suggestion today, I am not sure whether there was the need for all that screaming as she ran off myself.....

Friday, 20 February 2009

Mild Weather

At last the weather has become milder, and we can sleep in a single pair of pyjamas, with woollen gloves, hat and thick bedsox. During the day it s possible to walk easier as the single overcoat is enough. Pavements clear of snow, ice and drunks are negotiated in simple fashion and without the fear of calling an ambulance. The sky, at times, was blue and even the sun was noticed glistening against the naked trees. Birds sang in the trees and paired of thinking it was that time of year again. People almost smiled in the shops, but not all of the shops of course. The park was full of happy people - HOLD IT! That is the spoiler! The schools are on holiday! The park is full - of adolescents! That is where the noise has come from today. Skateboards and their occupants, temporary for the most part it appeared to me, crashed and banged around the skatepark. Girls screamed as macho youths chased them, and beer and drugs were taken by those determined to prove they were 'grown up.' The girls in the bushes will be asking questions later.

Now there is a reason to rant. The park full of teenagers. The mild nights allow them to hang out here, disturbing us, not their parents. Oh for a Kalashnikov at times like this. As Spring heads in our direction the nights lighten, the air is warmer, and these brats fill the park all night screaming, whistling, shouting, banging things and running over the skatepark humps in supermarket trolleys. On occasion the set fire to it or pour acid on it to deter its use! How lovely!
There had been a small structure placed there for them to gather in, that was burnt to the ground also. Violence and senseless destruction fills the thoughts of many. Yet if I so much as stick a rusty bayonet in any one of them there is an outcry from their mothers! A simple swing of a shovel and a head rolling over the skatepark brings the 'Serious Crime Squad' running, how come? Surely improving society is the aim of all decent folks? Ah well, back to annoying the man downstairs instead!

I admire Tristram!
I like his style.


Thursday, 19 February 2009


I am not one for noise. For years I have suffered noisy neighbours, sometimes they were just going about their business and sometimes it was 'Boom Boom Boom' type music. I have been grateful these last few years that those days were over, indeed it is usually very quiet here. Imagine therefore my surprise this morning when I open a letter from the council regarding a music noise complaint. Imagine my stunned expression (on the other hand maybe not) when I realised someone had complained about me! ME? Who, what why where??????? 'Music noise complaint?' Radio 3 tinkles in the background most days with occasional 'Gold Radio' playing music from the Neolithic days of my youth so how come a complaint? I admit to playing some music occasionally loudly - about once every three or four months and then only a couple of tracks. It gets too loud for me after that! However nobody knocked to complain. No knock on the door.
Now only two people can hear my music, one next door and the man downstairs. Yet none have mentioned anything. It must be the quiet chap downstairs, the one who works nights. So I wonder why not knock on the door? Why not say something? I was puzzled to begin with and now I find myself annoyed!
After suffering the years of noise in the past I am always conscious of the noise reaching other flats, especially when I had six straight months of hassle here some time ago. Yet in spite of my care he complains. I am irked, irked I tell you! I should add he is very quiet. For the first couple of months he was here I used to lie on the floor and listen - just to see if he was alive! There was no sound! Usually there is a radio/TV or something, but no, nothing! Does he just sit there staring into space? Is he a plant for some alien world seeking to make a home here? Could he be contacting Russia because he is a spy lying low?
I will of course be my usual 'loving' self. I will continue to take great care re noise, but I am still irked. ME, making too much noise!Ridiculous! I am now officially irked.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

It's a Funny Old World

With the UK approaching two million unemployed and a worldwide recession hitting home so hard that even the Japanese are laying of their loyal workers, I begin to wonder what we are going to do? The 'Mini' factory in Oxford has laid of hundreds of workers and BMW get the blame.This German car company is feeling the pinch and needs to tighten its belt. One suggestion made was to lower the price of their expensive cars and therefore sell more. This was rejected! Some companies near here have been offering a 'Two for one deal!' Buy a 'Transit Van' and get a smaller van free! Buy a 'Ford Mondeo' and get a 'Ford Ka' free! Amazing deals to move the cars off the forecourt and keep business turning over. Not the sort of thing a prestigious company like BMW would accept. The prestige of the car and the concerns of the shareholders mean folk loose their jobs. Strange priorities. The nation in general is holding on to its cash of course. Prices are falling and waiting for bargains is the watchword. I hope when the price reaches its lowest level these folks still have a job to pay for any bargain that arrives. Not increasing debt makes sense, but waiting too long for a cheaper price can reflect an attitude of avarice, not wisdom.

Wandering through the market today while gleaning fallen fruit and veg I was struck by how wealthy this struggling nation actually is. People still appear more worried about weight problems rather than starvation, the well clothed will no doubt go home to their 'Sky TV' packages complain about the price and order another DVD from the Video shop. All around the sky is falling in yet we do not appear to notice this - yet! Of course during Thatcher recessions we also found many getting rich, mostly in the south east. This time while they grab what is available I am not so sure they will get away with this today. Even the financial wizards will be more circumspect when they cherry pick the best. Especially as the big guns are being caught out almost every day. I wonder who is next?

Looking for work I am amazed at others occupations and how they make money out of the sad and bewildered. Do we need a 'Life Coach' for instance? It appeals doesn't it, listen to them and they will tell you how to live. I wonder? Is this not what parents were intended for? Family and friends perhaps? What if the 'Life Coach' is a bit of a mental case herself? And they mostly appear to be women aiming at women. The question then is why are women so confused and indeed desperate for coaching? We all need advice ('Emigrate' it says on the window of the Citizens Advice Bureau) but I wonder about these folk.

How about 'Aromatherapy?' Would inhaling nice smells change your world? certainly it makes the place smell nice and is no new idea. In medieval times flowers were strewn on church floors so they were crushed by those walking over them. The idea was to hide the odour of the flock who rarely washed no matter what class they came from! I would suggest a sweet fragrance encourages a happier atmosphere but how do people make money out of this? Therapies? What regulation is there on these folk that wish to 'Balance your system?' Does that mean they will fix the stereo as well as make me relax I wonder? It seems to me all around folk are confused and looking for a life that brings happiness and fixes all their problems. No wonder those 'wild west' films so often had quack doctors offering their potions there is indeed 'a sucker born every minute.' Of course some say this is where Coca Cola came from, that small chemist developing a drink to cure all sorts of problems and selling it on for a small fortune. Those who developed it sold it for a big fortune of course!

Strange folk exist at the highest levels. In spite of Alexander the Greta struggling to win in Afghanistan, the British failing in the 19th century and the Russians in the 1980's here we are losing men daily in a vain fight against the Taliban there. The US President has now decided to follow the military will and engage in a 'surge' there. I see he is making it clear he does this unwillingly so when it fails he can avoid blame. Wise man! Some 17,000 US troops are on the way in what must be the last push against their foe. If this fails and the allies (Yes we are their also, along with many others) lose we must leave. Staying would only leave us like the Russians, defeated and despairing! You cannot win in Afghanistan! Bush and his cronies have a lot to answer for. Thousands dead, indeed thousands of his own men dead, all for oil and a revenge on Al Queda! Or so they say. I sometimes wonder what Bush really thought he was doing. Did he actually believe Iraq needed dealt with? Did he not realise what would happen? If he did he was more incompetent than we thought. However politics is a dirty game and much more lies beneath the surface of that one.

That excellent American historian Barbra Tuchman wrote 'The March of Folly,' in which she took four wars and points out how they began by misunderstanding the facts, the opposition and went on to lead to many deaths. Such a shame so many leaders have never read the book.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

It's Just Not Cricket!

Now cricket is one of those strange English games that mean little to anyone with half a brain. Naturally it appeals to the average Englishman. We Scots have of course played this game to some effect but it has never got into the national psyche as it has the English and some other parts of the Empire (God bless the king!). In Scotland we would never stand outside a TV shop window watching cricket in the way we would look for the football results. In 1969 however when wandering through the City of London I came upon a surprising scene. Just outside the Leadenhall market there was a crowd of about thirty or more standing looking at an office window. There were so many people that while some stood in the gutter of a very busy road a policeman was on guard to ensure a passageway through the crowd was kept clear for folk to pass by! This was lunchtime in the city, a very crowded place, and here were people standing watching this window because someone had placed a TV there showing a cricket match! The England side were playing a 'test Match' against some visiting side and the English risked their lives to watch it! This would never have happened in Edinburgh! I was genuinely shocked! So why am I insulting your limited intelligence with this subject. Could it be something in the way our sins will be found out?

You see cricket has been played for many years in two simple forms. In one, often boring to the uneducated form, it lasts for up to five days, weather permitting of course. The other, a more recent invention, comprises a short 'one day' game, the kind played by many clubs throughout England every weekend. Folks got along quite happily for years with this, and for the most part there were little complaints. There were often complaints from me when men went on (and on) about the result of such encounters. Just how the game gets under their skin I have no idea, but I knew when it was getting under mine! During the days of the 'Raj' the Indian sub continent took up the game and today it has become the most important sport in that part of the world. The top stars have 'pop star' adulation at home and acclaim world wide. While the crowds at an English game were for the most part somewhat reserved in Asia they were far from this! Huge crowds, high temperatures, hard pitches and deafening noise accompanies the games. Losing is a sin, and victory is all important. The beer carrying Englishman wobbling down the stairs with a tray full of pints, often dressed in funny clothes for reasons I do not understand, gently supports his side, yelling the occasional funny remark - he thinks - and applauding the good play when it arrives. In the warmth of the southern hemisphere the noise never abates, the crowds screaming their support and informing the opposition of their opinion at all times, sometimes helpfully with stones! A 'Test Match' in any such city brings the whole place to a halt no matter what!

A change occurred in recent days, possibly to gain money from the TV companies, maybe just to try out a new innovation. This was called 20/20 Cricket. The game would be played in the evening, under floodlights and consisted of a mere 20 overs (Google it!) a side. This produced a fast action packed game far removed from the rather staid five day encounter. The crowds loved it! Quickly this has become a regular part of the cricket world, so much so that an American (isn't it always?) decided he could cash in - sorry, help develop the game further. This man, Sir Allen Stanford, (How come a Yank is a 'Sir?') his pockets bulging with cash decided on a televised tournament of 20/20 Cricket with huge financial rewards for the players involved. Normally these men make comparatively little cash in comparison with football players, and while in India they became wealthy the temptation to finance beyond their wildest dreams took hold with many of the top players. Several of the best from England joined the Australians, West Indians, and those from all the Indian sub continent and accepted the invitation to play in the new series. Money talked, and it is reported it affected the players so badly that at one point some had spent two hours discussing how to just celebrate receiving the cash! "The love of money is the root of all evil," the man said, you can add 'All that glistens is not gold!'

Tonight, in the midst of the 'credit crunch,' with financial fraud appearing in several places it has been announced that the company owned by Stanford has been charged with fraud! The small matter of $8 billion worth of fraud! Throughout the cricket world men are now sitting with broken dreams. The future that looked so good has ended. The trust we all put in cash has failed them, just as it has failed the world economy. "Man does not live by bread alone!" Now we all would like a million from a game or two of cricket and money is not wrong in itself, however the raised hopes, the jobs for the 'small people' lost around these tournaments, and the heartache that will follow is indeed cruel to ponder. Something ironic in all this in my view. Maybe living in my poverty and still being happy is better than watching the pot of gold slip out of the hands - just as the ball usually slips out of the English players hands!


New York Times

Monday, 16 February 2009

A Drive in the Country

Because I gave him the test date my driving instructor decided to find a variety of roads to wander over today. It was brilliant sunshine for a while and this brought out the motorist. All the roads were busy and we kept getting held up by learner drivers still thirty hours behind me according to how slow they were taking the bends. And bends there were! While the US and some other countries makes long straight roads, the UK has miles of bendy twisted roads that have evolved over eons. Quite how the A1071 from Sudbury to Ipswich twisted so much we pondered today but could not work it out. When the Romans arrived the strengthened the roads and ensured they travelled in a straight line from start to finish, 'Stane Street' is one such and lies outside my window. These roads were already ancient tracks by that time however why did our road take so many turns? Ancient forest covered this land for thousands of years and in the last thousand kings used the area for hunting and for much of that time the trees remained untouched. Having your head lopped of stopped some folks from knocking them down. Small local tracks in areas where people should not have been living may have been interconnected over time and now give us a busy road full of lorries, vans and learner drivers. The added bonus of two dirty big agricultural vehicles blocking the road helped cheer those behind me as they fumed at my habit of sticking to the speed limit!
Even his devious plan of returning along the A12 did not put me off, although the police car that ran along beside me was unhelpful I thought. I noticed that my hand were somewhat sweaty as I grasped the wheel doing 80 as we overtook the lumbering lorries. I was reminded that 70 is the limit once or twice... A good day, apart from stalling three times, almost running into someone at a crossing and failing to find the gears once or twice - in the fast lane! I wonder if I should go on with this....

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Several Things Niggle

A 13 year old boy has become a father with the aid of a 15 year old girl. In itself this is not unusual, it happens too often in the UK and elsewhere in this world, and does not mean disaster for the three of them. However the accompanying press coverage is more likely to mean disaster! While the Independent gave us an intelligent article on this the media in general are determined to milk this, as indeed are the grandparents, for all this is worth. In my view the children ought never to have been named yet not only are they on the front of the 'Sun' a video of them has been released. Time such abuse of daft kids was stopped, whether the relatives agree or not! Their names ought never to have been released. I just hope they can survive.

Ah nothing like a picture of dead bodies somewhere in Africa to make us turn off! Yet another war, more corrupt leaders, more aid, more men in suits talking and nothing being done, and all too soon it is all forgotten.
This picture shows the dead from the conflict in Darfur. You remember this? It was all the rage a while ago yet it still continues, rape, murder, shootings,bombings from the air, denials and lies. Just another war somewhere in Africa. The trouble in the Democratic Congo also continues and is under reported in the UK, unless people from there want to become immigrants, illegal or otherwise in this country of course. I just thought I would remind you that no matter how hard our lives are, at least we still have them, and most of us are free from the fears these folk endure, and will endure for some time to come!

However in spite of this, when watching the 'African Nations Football' last year I was impressed with Africa. In the early 19th century most folk only knew of the outskirts of the continent, if that is they knew anything about Africa! At the end of the century the middle of 'Darkest Africa' was being changed by a wide variety of colonial rulers. These brought many benefits, much conflict and usually regarded the locals as mere savages. However when watching the football I was impressed by how many players now earn thousands of pounds a week in Europe? In the 70's such players were laughed at as coming from 'third world football nations.' Not now! Growing up in Edinburgh we were always conscious of students at the universities from Africa and elsewhere. In recent years I have met brain surgeons from the Sudan and Ghana, Nigerians who study 'advanced mathematics,' for reasons no sane person could understand, and there are many politicians and businessmen at all levels who make this world a better place. Sure the leaders are often still far too corrupt, (unlike the bankers who run our economy) although there may be some improvement there, sure there are huge difficulties, many caused by abuses during the 'Cold War.' Sure there is famine and aids and other problems. However Africa has progressed in leaps and bounds during the last two hundred years to head for the level that the UK and Europe required over two thousand years to reach! There is much to appreciate and applaud in this continent in spite of the problems.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

I came across this...

But I cannot remember where!
This annoys me as I think I would like to go
into business selling this type of thing.
There is a sucker born every minute they tell me.....

Valentines Day

I have stopped bothering about this these days.

I've had this attitude ever since I buried the bitch in the back garden.....

Friday, 13 February 2009

Friday Night

For most folk the week has ended, their hair has been 'let down,' entertainment found, or feet up on the couch and the nasty world told to 'shove off' from the door is the order of the day. This means bloggers searching for intellectual stimulation are left bereft as those who blog in such a fashion are at this very moment in time knocking back bucketfulls of cheap Chardonnay or filling their insides with the UK's favourite meal - curry! Friday night is therefore slow for the dregs of society who sit staring at a dark blank screen. The reason the screen is dark is that it has been switched off, habit however means blogperson sits and stares anyway - just in case.

Several things strike me here.

1) The importance blogs have in our lives. All around are shiny things to keep us amused. Television programmes on several channels churning out 'pap' of the lowest, mind sapping order, radio stations giving similar talk programmes debating with all the intellectual charm of a 'taxi driver' and a 'white van man,' the topic of the day, as well as a mountain of brainless women's magazines and so called newspapers to dull our sense of reality. Technology allows us to listen to programmes we have missed, allow us to play, repeatedly, the music that so annoys those around us,telephones where we can type in the words slowly rather than speak into the thing quickly and contact friends,and 'X-Boxes (whatever they are) where what is left of the gray matter can be dissolved by virtual gun play against aliens or bad boys. In spite of this we look for a blog to read. Does this mean we are getting old and can no longer care about games, or does it imply we need stimulation and the offerings of banality do not provide this? I find blogs of a wide variety and from a cross section of life do bring a new world to our door, but rarely on a Friday night!

c2) The rituals of drink. How come we are created with a mental capacity the size of a planet, (Pluto in the case of some nameless types from Arkansas), but find relief at the end of the week by drowning this great complicated machine in alcohol? Some indeed kill it off with various drugs, however this seems extreme to my little mind. With the known dangers of too much of the first and the unknown dangers (in spite of all the research) still of the second it would be thought a bit of wisdom could be applied here and a better way to recreate the washed out life could be discovered. Strange folks us people!

3)3) I read a man today informing all who would listen that when he is 60 he will leave the country. In his case several offered to help him go now but he declined their generosity. He wishes to find the sunshine and a cheaper lifestyle. He also wants out of a nation full of foreign Johnnies! So to avoid them he will go abroad! Spain,Cyprus, or somewhere in France, anywhere he can buy cheap beer, 'Fish & Chips' and the 'Daily Mail!'
Others of course have got used to the good things brought in from abroad and the Indian food craze has taken hold so well that 'curry,' or whatever is sold under that name, is now Britains national dish! However this is not without some hiccups,the UK love of this food and ignorance of its origin is shown in the curry dish called 'Balti.' Nowadays 'Balti' takeaways and restaurants are found nationwide but it was years before we realised the word 'Balti' meant 'Bucket!' The invention of a takeaway owner in Sheffield if I remember correctly! What a dumb nation we are! I doubt 'Balti' will never catch on in the Indian sub continent.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Now I'm not one to Complain but!

It will look like this again tomorrow! The nice wee weather lass told us the 'Low' was moving into the Continent as a 'High' was approaching and shoving it that way. This would improve things she said. Now, somewhat foolishly, I always believe what pretty girls tell me, an attitude that experience has failed to change, and the prospect of what another called a clear sunny day tomorrow (but cold) was what I was looking forward to. Tonight I look out and it is white everywhere! The gritters have only just started and they will concentrate on the major roads, leaving ours till later, and ignoring the side roads altogether. So once again the world will come to a halt as it did last week. Then this week the floods that followed will be repeated in a few days when this lot thaws! On top of this it is cold! In fact I feel the cold more this year than ever, am I getting old or what?

I tell you, if anyone comes on telly complaining about 'Global Warming' I am going to give them some thing warming to keep them happy for a while and no mistake!

I have been reading in Josephus again, and we have just seen the death of Herod the Great! Most interesting I think. Known to the world only through the killing of a few kids in Bethlehem but in fact a powerful ruler in his day. Cruel, barbaric and in the end probably sick, paranoid and no loss to the world when he died. A story repeated many times through history. Just think of Stalin or Mao or even Mugabe today! Anyway this picture comes from the National Geographic site and shows what they say is Herod's tomb at Herodium.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Theory Test

That's Driving 'Theory Test' I should explain, not a test looking for a theory. I have a few of those and some of them pretty strange I can tell you and once I had joined the blog world I came across a great many more strange theories I can tell you!!!!! However the thing is I have to pass the 'theory' bit before I can take the 'practical' part and prove I am safe to drive alone on the road. (Stop sniggering at the back!) I passed with (almost) flying colours and will book the practical test tomorrow. Hopefully this will be soon and then you lot out there can start worrying!

The fields being saturated for some weeks meant that the melting snow has once again flooded the county. When I came here I read that this was the driest county in England, not today! The many dips in the country roads meant that many flooded as the water came of the fields or overflowed river banks. Those of you near rivers and streams will now what this is like. On top of this many new houses have been built on flood plains! How daft is that? It is difficult to control a river when it floods and some folks are watching the results of this tonight. The town centre where I took the test has a river running through it and here it is almost up to the bridge. Further down it has broken the banks and I watched the ducks despair at any chance of lunch today! Even they would not risk the fast flowing water. One of my pretty young girl friends took 25 minutes to drive 400 yards she said and completed the journey in one and a quarter hours! It would take about 30 usually.

As the train trudged slowly along it struck me that I would need to work for another seven and a half years before I get the pension and can officially retire - if I can actually get a bloody job first of course! However a horrid thought crept up on me - I was thinking about pensions! Where has life gone? I have done nothing but fail and make a mess of things and already life is over! Jings!
Excuse me while I lie on the floor and despair.....

Monday, 9 February 2009


Where did it go? Last time I looked it was Friday and I had just had a driving lesson, was on my knees giving thanks for survival, something I know the instructor was doing as soon as he got home, and awaiting a trip to the soup kitchen. Suddenly I have had a weekend, another drive through the wet roads, a rough time at the roundabouts and that kerb which lunged at me, and suddenly here I am getting ready for tomorrows 'Theory Test,' which I have decided I know too little about! I have realised how little I know and those are the questions they will ask. Ho hum!
Nothing has been done as my mind has been filled with other things, God, driving, a magazine and Josephus 'Antiquities' mostly. Now I am brain dead. Not that anyone would see any change I suppose.

Now where is that 'Highway Code' book......?

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Thursday Gum Bumping

The meeting with the pretty girl at the Job Centre went all right I suppose. I was a bit depressed when I woke this morning, nothing seems to be right, but the pretty lass took a hand and shook me out off it. She took two hands actually, both to shake me, and then the back of just one to encourage me to be more satisfied with life. She referred to this as the 'woman's touch,' although 'touch' is a somewhat genteel way to a slap that hard. I told her that next week I have the 'Theory test' and I discovered happily that this organisation will pay the £30 fee! I asked if they would pay for the two coffees I required and was told to "Sod Off!" This, remember, is a member of the 'weaker sex.' The idea of all this driving tuition being that this enables me to get work. Whether this will or not I do not know but it appears to be the only option open to me at the moment. Bad knees, age, and an aptitude for gormlessness do not a success make! Still I search on and something will come up somewhere. I wonder what? The credit crunch does not help. Hundreds are losing their jobs and for some this is a new experience. A wealthy society, and this has been one of the richest for many years, produces generations unused to doing without. What some believe to be necessities are in fact luxuries. yet doing without them will cause heartache and much pain for many. I feel bad about their pain, it may however be good in the long run. Our parents suffered the Great War, then the depression, huge social change and another war with even greater change social to follow. Many of them deserved to end with a happy home, warm, fed, with the mod cons they never heard of when young, and with a decent health service. This generation has never done without, except in extreme cases. Most will cope but for a great number the next few years, note I said 'years,' will be intolerable.

I had to return in the afternoon to sign on, not through the young lady, she had dismissed me as she was bored with my company, but I saw my friend the French woman. So I signed on, had a chat, and got thrown out as I was taking to much of her time. Her man is slightly older than me, canny find a job, and she understands the position well. While she is helpful she is well able to give back any lip that arises during the day. I once had to call the security guard to get her to stop handbagging me! She urged me to apply for the 14 vacancies in the dole office caused by the vast increase of workload. This I have already done and if the bosses are as daft as I suspect civil service managers to be, I may end up in work. It will not happen of course but it is worth a try!

On Monday the driving lesson was postponed because of the snow. On Tuesday because of the black ice, tomorrow we will try again. So tonight the smiling weather girl has promised between 2-5 centimetres of snow
(whatever a centimetre is?). The other smiling (and well built) weather girl suggests it may reach 10 centimetres. I now discover 2.5 Cm's equals one inch, so it may be 2-4 inches of snow. Up north this would slow things down and cause problems. Down here the world will grind to a halt, questions will again be asked in Parliament ("Why do Russia and Sweden cope but we can't?") and newspaper headlines will scream blue murder and blame the government. In fact, it is 18 years since such snow landed here, and off course we are not ready for it, it rarely happens and will be gone by the weekend. Russia and other places have it for six months, temperatures descend to minus 40, and they are naturally prepared. Those who yell would yell louder if we bought the snowploughs they demand and end up garaged for years. Ah well, if we have nothing to complain about there would be no blogs! Not that I am one to complain of course.

My mother is 94 today! Just imagine that! Had my father lived he would have been 100 years old last March. Jings! She was born during the Great War before the mistake of Gallipolli had begun or the first real Push failed at Loos. Her mining family struggled through six months of the general strike in 1926, the depression which ravished them and the second war which broke out not long after her marriage.
(Not our fault they claimed!). With two young children she saw him off to war in 1941 (still before the Yanks had decided to join in) and later brought up her four selfish children. She deserves better. She could reach 100 if we are not careful!

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Another Day Another Grumble

This time it is the use of the word 'Golliwog' by Carol Thatcher in a private conversation with Adrian Childs and Jo Brand, so we are told. The word was used in reference to an Australian tennis player. As a result offence has been taken, publicity has been massive, and we are left pondering what really was going on. 'Golliwogs' have of course disappeared from our streets in recent years as white liberals thought black folk would be offended. Few I met ever really noticed them. Robinson Jam used to advertise by using the 'Golly' and the metal badges were prized by kids, and others, up and down the land. This has ceased as the offended bus has overtaking them. Did Thatcher, a woman I have no time for, say something offensive? Or is there more to this than meets the eye? Personally I reckon this was an excuse to remove her from the programme, partly because she is an awful person and partly because of her mother, the mad baroness! Resentment within the BBC regarding Thatchers attitude towards their middle class liberalism remains strong! There can be no doubt many would have resented Carols appearance on such a mainstream programme as 'One.' There can also be no doubt some have been plotting to remove her for a while, Childs one of them maybe? In a sense I am glad she has gone, although I now rarely watch this programme, it has long ago become another 'BBC Breakfast' type, bulimic wee lassies and celebrities selling their novel. Thatcher was not one O would ever want to see on the TV, however if BBC Radio 1 continues to employ the offensive Chris Moyles, and Radio 2 and BBC TV continue with Jonathon Ross then we are right to ask whether this was an offensive word which brought an end to a contract, or just an excuse?

My good friend Mike has been studying Scottish romance recently. He has posted quite a few 'Lonely Hearts' adverts. he does not say however, which are the ones I answered!Here is a sample.

Bitter, disillusioned Dundonian lately rejected by longtime fiancée seeks decent, honest, reliable woman, if such a thing still exists in this cruel world of hatchet-faced bitches. Box /41

Chartered accountant, 42, seeks female for marriage. Duties will include cooking, light cleaning and accompanying me to office social functions. References required. No timewasters. Box 3/45

Bad-tempered, foul-mouthed old b*stard living in a damp cottage in the ar*e end of Orkney seeks attractive 21-year old blonde lady with big chest. Box 40/27

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Tuesday Babble

So we put off yesterdays driving lesson because of the snow, and today we decided to miss out because of the black ice. Being wise the lesson has been rearranged for Friday. Now the weather man has warned us about a repeat of the snow Thursday night and Friday morning! Oh Goody!
However the sun did shine today. the sky was blue here, and walking on the pavements was similar to going down the 'Cresta Run!' I canny wait for tomorrow!

This nurse offered to pray for one of her patients, and next thing we know she is in front of a disciplinary hearing, for causing offence! Oh yeah? How can such a simple offer cause offence and require a disciplinary hearing? I get offered double glazing on the phone, can I sue for being offended? How ridiculous this nation has become. However this is typical of the treatment Christians must expect from now on. This type of persecution, for that is what it is, will occur more often as the atheist lobby grow even more powerful. The apparent notion of avoiding offence, usually to homosexuals and ethnic minorities, at first glance appears fair, we ought to treat everyone fairly. However this opens the way for persecution of anyone who holds opinions the political correct decide are right. Christians, who care for folk and therefore object to anything that harms them in Gods eyes, are the main, but not the only, target here. The common sense and common decency that appeared to exist a few years ago has gone. A rush to law, and a claim for 'rights,' which in reality means money, has taken its place.

This nurse does no wrong and is attacked. My nation suffers prejudice daily and no-one objects. It's a funny old world we live in today! 'Daily Mail'

MATT in the Daily Telegraph is one of the most consistent cartoonists around. For many years he has brought a smile out of a variety of situations. Here he comments on 'Total' bringing Italian and Portuguese workers into the UK. This has led to 'wildcat' strikes from those fearful of losing their jobs during the 'Credit Crunch.' For me he is always worth a look!

Monday, 2 February 2009

A Few Inches of Snow.

We were told last week snow was on the way, and they were right. It came down yesterday afternoon and left a good few inches all over the place. Naturally the nation has come to a halt. In fact the problem is that this sort of thing happens in Scotland and the north of England all the time, however last night it fell on the south east, and this means publicity! London came to a halt, as it does, because rarely does snow lie there. I can remember only one or two years when snow covered the city. London is low lying and it takes a bad winter to cause such trouble. Out here we are more used to it, but while life goes on it has been a while since this happened.

The good side is watching young kids, and even more their young dogs, enjoying themselves in the conditions. As I crossed from one park to another there were many dogs chasing around excitedly, greeting their neighbours and enjoying the strange experience of snow! How they don't just freeze their paws of is beyond me? Apart from the difficulty of walking on the pavements on the rutted snow, and the occasional snowball some ned throws at passersby it has been a jolly time for many. Quite a few have stayed of work, feeble folk, however the postman still arrived! Ah yes, this sort of weather makes the postman think of going home, although we had to go out in it when I done that job, and ours today passed me with a smile! I bet he smiled a lot more when he finished!

Within 48 hours it will all have gone and the grumpy nature will arise once more. Scowls, not smiles, will greet folk in the street, and the joy of a day away from work Will be replaced with overtime to make up time! Ah well! I must ask where global warming is? In the 60's and 70's this weather was common, even though I was up north then, and the last 20 years have been mild winters. A natural change or man made? I have no idea, and in truth, I don't care.

Throw Bowl 09

Who cares?

Sunday, 1 February 2009

The Lonliness of the Long Distance Goalkeeper!

One of the loneliest posts in football, the goalkeeper in a team on the attack! The game is so far ahead of the man that players on the neighbouring pitch are nearer than his forward line! While on the one hand this speaks volumes for the players on his side, (or maybe the players on the other side perhaps?) it also means he is alone in a green desert. The outfield players, the ones employed to protect the goalkeeper while he wins the game, are in constant touch with one another. The goalkeeper stands alone! This position is the most important, and least respected, of any in the football world. Anybody can run and kick a ball, just look at Hibernian, but only a wise man, with dexterity and courage, strength and wisdom can be a goalkeeper. The position requires him to understand the strengths and weaknesses of both his side and the other. He must be able to withstand the opposition pressure and the incompetence of his defenders, and he must also be the one who stands alone when all around him is falling down. The goalkeeper is the one true hero of our age!

Today of course the wind came from the East. Flecks of snow, ignoring global warming, crossed the pitch at high speed, aiming for the goalies eyes and causing him to keep moving in an attempt to keep his extremities from frostbite. Struggling to keep warm and still concentrating on the progress of the game the goalie runs back and forward, crouching and jumping, all the time conscious of his lonely position. When the enemy fans gather behind his goal and question his parentage, his ability and inform him of their limited opinions regarding his worth, he must retain his equilibrium, his concentration and his temper. No matter the provocation he must keep control, his position is worth more than any other and his behaviour sets the standard for them all.

the respect he deserves Naturally if he makes a mistake he becomes the villain! No matter the faults in the defence, no matter the quality of the opposition, no matter the reason unjustified attacks take place on any goalkeeper who fails in his duty. A friend, I do have them, once played against a Royal Navy side at Rosyth and winning by seven goals to nil. After getting changed they made their way to the bus and saw the goalkeeper, with full pack (of around 80 pounds) plus rifle, jogging around the pitch! No matter who was at fault he gets the blame for his teams failures! Typical of the injustice suffered by goalies everywhere! A disgrace I say! I hope the man in the picture is given for taking his place, as I said, he is a real hero of our time!