Friday, 30 September 2011

How to be an Idiot No. 87

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Yesterday the lovely Jenny Woolf informed m that today would be better.  She was wrong! Quite how such an intelligent well traveled woman could think things would improve escapes me for the moment, but wrong she was.  Last night I went very early to bed, just in case I set fire to something, and rose as expected totally knackered yet unable to sleep on at 6:30.  By 7:30 I had wandered around Sainsburys, early to escape the hordes of Friday women shoppers barging their trolleys into one and all, and gathered my few requirements.  All was going swimmingly!  The shop was empty, I avoided the staff filling shelves and even evaded the trolleys they pushed hither and thither.


It was when I emptied the basket (I always use a basket as it is quicker and easier to evade women with trolleys) on to the belt where the almost friendly half asleep Phillipino awaited my goods. It was then I allowed the basket to over balance and dropped the brown sauce onto the floor. "Dearie dearie me," or something, said the supervisor at who's feet the bottle landed.  She was not referring to the brown sludge at her feet, she was referring to me lying on the floor crying "Not again! Not today also!" for several minutes.  They helped me out quite quickly after this.


By 10:30 I had locked myself indoors, dropped the milk out of the fridge, barged into the furniture while hoovering,lost dozens of cassette tapes down the back of the unit in unreachable places but as yet have not set fire to anything. I updated the answers to the comments, as I had forgotten them for several days while looking for my head.  Now I am back off to bed, wake me when it is safe to come out again!





"If at first you don't succeed, give up and go to bed!" 
Robert the Bruce.


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Thursday, 29 September 2011

How to be an Idiot No. 86.

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The day was destined to be bad.  I woke sluggishly to the gentle sound of Gregorian chant, chased those monks away from my window, and headed of into a day of woe.  I felt a bit hebetudinous and went around making a mess of things. Failing to type correctly, putting the tea bag in the cup, then doing it again, and wondering why the world appeared a bit 'off,'  I then put my glasses on and the world returned to some sort of normality. Having to sign for my scrounging layabouts allowance today I had to ensure the paperwork was up to date, it was, somewhat.  I then sauntered around to the dole, wearing my jacket, and found my penthouse condominium fails once again to inform me of the weather outside. Inside it was chilly, outside it was very warm indeed.  Sweltering I scribbled something that once was my name and in the following short conversation I said things I regretted afterwards.  "What an idiot," I thought!  My big mouth!  I then went home, sweltering, hitting myself as I went.


This afternoon I went into the town again, see above 'Jumbo' the old water tower, now I believe converted into living quarters.  Naturally I was out the door into a higher temperature again wearing the jacket as I had forgotten the warmth.  I did notice one side effect was the lassies insistence on making the most of the years last few hot days by stripping off as much as possible.  If only I had taken one of those famous blue tablets the spam merchants are always offering!  The meeting, with yet another man who suggested what has already been attempted, went as well as could be expected. I made my way back to the station happy I had not made any more stupid remarks or done any foolish things.  The train journey was short and sweet and I happily changed for my connection.  A train stood on the platform and I glanced at the monitor informing me of the 'Liverpool St' Destination.  I did not however notice the time!  I sauntered past the waiting train and stood idly gazing down the track at the distant signals and fast disappearing train I had just left.  I mused on the Kestral high above circling around and around, scaring even the crows who rose to greet him.  I watched an attractive dark haired lass give me the "drop dead creep" look, I noticed a station operative (we used to call them porters) enter a locked room with a teenage lad and a police officer (he unlocked the room before entering before you ask).  The 'Beep Beep' sound came from the train.  The doors closed and I watched as it began the journey to London.  "Hello I thought, why is he reversing?" He was not reversing, he was my train and I had misread the times on the monitor!  I waited a full hour, in the heat, until the next train (full of London commuters) arrived.  


It's all becoming a bit of a circus actually


I am off to the 'Deed Poll Office' tomorrow to change my name to 'Dostoevsky Idiot,' as this seems to me to be more appropriate.  




There is a train down there somewhere with a few very irritated passengers.  I suspect the driver may well be a relative....


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Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Ladybirds

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As an experiment I used the feeble 'Macro' on this camera in an effort to picture the ladybird on the park bench.  She posed happily while I pussyfooted around and when at home I used the HP system to crop and enlarge the pic.  This is the best I can do with the little camera and I am quite pleased with this.  The beasts colour makes her very popular, especially with kids, and the children's storybooks called 'ladybird Books' have sold around the world. These are of course just beetles and if they were black most folk would turn away from them as unattractive.  Gardeners love them as each of these beauties can devour 5000 aphids in their year long life.  They are so good at this that they have been deliberately introduced into the USA to deal with the aphid problem there. Lovely beasts and very popular, except when strong winds bring billions over from France and swarm all over the south of England.  


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Monday, 26 September 2011

Political Party Conferences

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Monday sees the real opening of the Labour Party Conference.  Once again the news will be filled with the speeches, the outpourings of a variety of suited men and coiffured women, most of whom will remain unknown until their retirement.  Leading actors (and this is a good word here) will flit across the screen pouting and lying with little real understanding of what to do about the major economic problems of the day.  Ideology, all too often ill thought out by the present bunch in the 'House,' will govern they speech while underneath the real purpose of every word you hear is "I want to be King!"


As you will know the Labour Party grew among working men who suffered appalling conditions while the rich enjoyed the benefits of both Empire and their workers slog.  Change had to come and now, after two major wars, years of depression, and several self seeking governments we have a wealthy nation confused and fearful of global economic collapse.  What does this Labour Party, under it's somewhat insipid leader, have to say to those losing their jobs, homes and hope?  Nothing  except words I suspect.  While millions suffer the majority have much, much more than they really require, a complacency exists among many who still have an income, and many talk of 'poverty' while real poverty is only found abroad in the Third World still. 


One year, when I was rich, I had a year off and done a course with the Open University and done occasional temporary work to keep sufficient funds for luxuries, like bread and mince.  I also watched all three major parties conferences, and I am not sure I could stomach this again.  The liberal Democrats at that time were far from government, had lots of talk, many ideas, most hair-brained, and spent much time lying to camera while planning to stab one another in the back.  The Labour Party, sorry, 'New Labour,' were very different.  In days of yore the conference debated all major policy points, not by the time of Tony Blair.  Only his agenda was followed and all went smoothly, except those speaking lies to camera while stabbing each other straight in the cheat!  The Labour folk never hid their differences.  The then governing Tories were "All together fighting the socialists" while lying to camera with false smiles and stabbing one another in the back.  I just cannot bear, or is that bare, to think what it will be like when they meet this year.  Cameron the PR guru will be more airbrushed than ever, the speeches full of self satisfied bumf and the leading millionaires will wander around looking down on their fellows smug in the knowledge that they, and their tax avoided millions in foreign banks, cannot be touched.  


The populace, w will just have to make do and mend with this lot for a while.  No beliefs, no policies that work, no real idea how to handle the real economic danger, and I have the feeling we are sleepwalking to disaster.  You know I agreed with this early this morning, "No sense in being pessimistic, it wouldn't work anyway," But now I am not so sure!


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Sunday, 25 September 2011

Sunday Mist Rising

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There are three main benefits from rising early on a Sunday morning.  One is the sight of the rising sun clearing away the mist that lies in the valley.  This allows some lovely pictures, if you have a longer lens than my little camera possesses.  The second benefit is the healthy body that is obtained by riding the bike up slopes you did not realise were around that bend you had never ventured along before.  This is enhanced when you get to the end and discover this is a dead end and the road sign has been removed by person or persons unknown when leaving the 'Six Bells' late one night.  A certain desire to knock 'Six Bells' out of them crosses the cyclists mind at this point. The third benefit arrives after lunch when watching the poor picture of the Heart of Midlothian being roundly stuffed by St Johnstone you find the drowsiness overtaking you so that you manage to miss much of the slaughter!  I suppose there is a fourth benefit not connected to the early morning, the mental exercise caused by asking who the Heart of Midlothian's next manager might be, Derek McInnes anyone...?


Saturday, 24 September 2011

Misty Dawn

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The best part of this Saturday was the sight of mist rolling, cloud like, across the park. Dragging my bulk from the bundle of rags that for a bed I strolled out to take pictures.  A few moments later I returned and put some clothes on and tried again.  As luck would have it the mist was rolling away southwards which meant the park was being bathed in bright sunshine and high above the sky was increasingly turning blue.  The only thing to do was saunter around and hope the exercise would wake me out of my slumber.  As I sauntered I noticed how the mist was gathering over the town centre.  I headed that way and grabbed a couple of shots where the mist hid the run down appearance of one of the grubbier streets.  The houses are not actually bad, and the people whom I have met are indeed fine examples of decent humanity but the actual road is somewhat depressing itself.

  
I wandered around and ended up back in the park where the local drunk stood talking to the park in the manner he usual  keeps for the town centre.  Poor man, his head was blown away by drink and drugs long ago and now spends his days drinking himself into Hades.  What state his liver is in I hate to think.  We all talk to ourselves but not usually loudly amongst crowds in the busy Market Place. I pictured him from afar but fell some guilt.  I am not keen on 'candid' shots as this appears to me to be an intrusion.  However it did look a good opportunity, although I am not sure if he realised what I was doing or not.  


The bright weather that followed the removal of the mist by the suns heat was followed later by some of those big dark clouds that fill too many Autumn days.  Still, pics are possible here also, if the battery in the camera does not give out!  




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Friday, 23 September 2011

Thursday, 22 September 2011

A Life on the Ocean Wave, sort off....

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During the years of London life I took a real fancy to living on one of these narrowboats that are found on Britain's canals.  While in times past these boats were the main trunkroads from the late 1700's until the railways arrived and more or less put most off them out of business today they form the living quarters of some who cannot afford house prices or wish for a different kind of existence.  Many of course are used as holiday lets and groups or families will travel at a reckless 4 miles an hour along the canals, stopping off at Marinas or perhaps making do with a quiet backwater.  With London towering all around me I thought the idea of sitting at the back of one of these boats, whatever the weather, drinking my coffee and enjoying the greenery around looked like a scene from paradise. OK, I might fall into one of the locks now and again, but you cannot get everything can you? It still appears quite attractive although I can see the sky these days and the desperate desire for grass, sky and the refreshment of body and spirit that creation gives has lessened somewhat because of where I now dwell.  One day, when rich, I might make one of these my escape to the country for a weekend, if I can afford the boat, the berth fees, the maintenance costs, and so on and on and on.  It might be cheaper than a house but finding a quiet berth, paying the costs, and then avoiding holiday makers escaping London would be a pain!  However I continue to dream....




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Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Tuesday Rant

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The trip into the big town yesterday left two imprints on my bitter and twisted mind.  The first came when the chap who's time I waste for half an hour or so informed me that he was being moved to a different situation.  From next week he will be dealing with the 18-24 year olds as there is a big problem there. The problem is simple, they don't turn up!  Large numbers of unemployed youth are not bothering to arrive on time, attend the meetings, or do the courses on offer and the reason is they just 'don't want to!'  Now I recall  that I felt a similar attitude when in my teens however family pressure (work or stave) 'encouraged'  me to work badly in the places I was employed.  The girls throwing themselves at me also helped of course.  Oh yes they did!  Today however it is apparent that there is indeed a type who do not wish to do anything and apparently are getting away with it.  These young folk, always referred to as 'underclass' by the right wing press, do appear happy to live of the state and do nothing but take drugs, play with the girls and enjoy life.  Hmmm maybe they have something after all?  However this lot will find themselves off the programme in the next couple of weeks and possibly with a loss of dole money.  That will please the 'Daily Mail' reader. Strange how every person over 25, aged, disabled, redundant or just plain stupid (what you looking at me for?) always turns up for appointments, does what is asked and actually looks for employment of some sort, and not just for the money.  Is it just an age thing or is it society as it is offered today I wonder?  Age does change the responsible attitude however the kids usually have at least one parent and they appear not to care either.  I wonder if it is just life as she is lived, which brings me on to the 'Metro.'


The 'Metro' is a free paper given out at railways stations and found littering the seats at every stop.  No-one appears willing to actually take the thing home!  I picked one up yesterday and found it full of adverts and showbusiness news,  celebs activities and page after page of nothingness presented as important!  Is it just me being old or is it that the reality presented to us today is a sham, and nothing but?  It was on page 25 I discovered some news, floods in Pakistan.  Thousands homeless and many dead, yet a Rap 'artist' banned from 'The 'X' Factor' precedes this by several pages.  Age changes us but what filled the pages was nothing but emptiness to me.  The world is turning into plastic and things that really matter are fading fast behind a false image.  'The 'X' Factor' type shows, with their overhyped audience, the false voting system and the 'star' who invariably claims to be 'gay' a year later when the money runs out, offers a 'plastic' world.  Of course such shows do have a place, but it seems to me this is all on offer.  In the sixties life was full of revolution.  The false was to be stripped away and a new, better life was to be found.  It was of course a delusion, human nature never changes, but it was an effort to improve life as well as enjoy it.  Today is all about 'Self!'  Liberalism has trapped us in a  world of self satisfying, emotion led, wealth deserving life.  'If it feels good do it, ' has led us into 'If you want it have it,' and the consequences are not thought through.  Our forefathers were lucky.  In their day they had wars and depressions and a need to build a better life to ensure reality was in front of them.  Today we have had years of wealth, all our basic needs attended to, and now live rudderless and lost in a sea of sham.




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Monday, 19 September 2011

What...?

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So once again I trailed into the big city today for a short meeting.  I intended to scout around and find one or tow pictures of the more exotic houses that can be found there.  However the bug that has been hanging around put me of.  However on the way back to the station there is this very busy roundabout and standing in the middle of it we find this creation.  Why is it there?  What does it represent?  Who bought this I ask? 


This is Colchester, the first 'town' in England they claim.  Famous for being burnt to the ground by Boudica because the Roman governor not only attempted to take over her lands after her husband died, he had been a friend to the Romans, but he also had her daughters raped and a little bit of murder and pillage went on.  He appeared not to realise that some women get a bit upset in those circumstances, and he probably did realise this when thousands took over the unprotected city and put him to the sword.  Naturally the Romans then put her and all around who sided with her to the sword also and then developed this place to their own advantage.  In fact much of their layout remains in use today.  


But this is a medieval knight, not a Roman soldier or an ancient Briton!  This is of course still a garrison town, the parachute regiment are based here when not trotting around Afghanistan being shot at. However no Para wears armour these days, at least not that type. What does it mean?  I was so concerned about this that I went for the train and forgot all about it.


I am indeed more interested in why this lovely vehicle was dumped here.


   
I noticed this before when I changed trains and wondered if this had been stolen and now lies vandalised in what once upon a time was the turntable for the steam engines. Mind you that might even be there under several decades of rot!  I suspect that someone inhabits this old van as there are enough passing dossers who would make use of this.  When new it must have cost a bomb, and the mobile hotel would have provided many holidays for the rich owner.  It could of course have belonged to one of the rich sportsmen who transport themselves to events for several days at a time and live within such a vehicle.  Even in this state it is still in better nick than my little bike.....

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Sunday, 18 September 2011

Friday, 16 September 2011

Friday Cogitation

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From the excellent River Clyde Photography site

A recent TV programme discussed the development of container transport and how this has revolutionised our world.  Until the late fifties and early sixties goods were transported in a very slow manner.  Hand to hand operation was required to load ships, with cranes used for larger items. Boxes were piled into nets which were hoisted aboard and stacked by hand in the holds. Slow, labour intensive, hard toil, expensive and costly in both breakage and theft.  I know about theft!  As a dumb fifteen year old office boy I filled out, in unreadable scrawl, the dockets for whisky sent to places as far apart as Australia, South Africa and the USA.  A thousand cases would be loaded, by hand, onto a 'British Road Services' lorry and would trundle down the A1 to London Docks where the majority of the load would, with difficulty the drivers would report, be unloaded and then packed onto the ship.  I say the 'majority' as it is amazing how many boxes would have a hole in the bottom when they arrived in New York!  London was one of the least appreciated docks the drivers told me, Southampton one of the best.

However at that time we began to use another lorry firm, name forgotten, to deliver the new 'Sealand' containers to the container depot somewhere in England.  At first there was one of these in London and I think Hull also had such facilities, however the strikes, very common in docks, led to the opening of Felixstowe as the main container depot for the UK. This revolutionised the transport of goods and aided development of the economy of many nations.  The success of transporting one thousand cases of whisky with no loss, no damage and therefor less cost soon became popular with all other goods. The strife in dockland, understandable as the conditions were hard, dirty and the management shocking, led to many strikes in the early sixties. By 1970 the docks had died and container transport was all!  A handful of men now load and unload ships in a few hours whereas before it could take days.  Specially designed container ships saw the end of the 'tramp steamer,' and the speed of movement aided the increase in produce transported. It did annoy sailors however as the three or more days spent in port now have become a few hours!   

Today vast amounts of goods of all description travel around the world making us more interdependent than ever. It also enables factories in China to manufacture socks at a price cheaper than those made at home and send them to the UK daily. There is at least one town, name unknown, which contains nothing but factories making socks for the world markets!  China has, because of containers, become the 'workshop of the (cheap) world.'  The point that comes to mind however is that this traffic, bringing TV's, socks, fashion, gardening equipment, cameras, foodstuffs and anything else we take for granted continues daily and we never see it happen!  It was possible in the past to watch goods unloaded at dockside and observe what arrived or departed, not any longer.  Lorries once trundled through the streets with goods lashed to the back open to public eye, not any more.  All these goods appear to arrive in the shops as if by magic and we take it for granted. 

Food arrives in brightly covered plastic packets.  Butchers shops have meat neatly arrayed on the counter however when I was a lad sides of beef and, half pigs would hang all around the shop, with sawdust on the floor to catch any blood!  We would often play with these dead beasts as we waited for mum to be chatted up by the butcher.  The only real health concern then was the butcher never took money.  He wrote the price on a note which was handed to the customer.  This was presented to a woman sitting in a small both at the end who took the cash and offered change.  Game birds hung for days in the shop window, their feathers standing out from the skinned meats all around.  Now they lie frozen in a deep white freezer, shrink wrapped in plastic. We knew as kids where our food came from, we could see it hanging there, this is not possible in supermarkets today.  They joke that kids do not know where their lunch comes from and maybe they are right. We live in a pre-packaged society, almost a false society.  Until around the middle of the19th century society in the west was predominantly agricultural. After that is was dominated by town and city.  Recently I did a short study of biblical agriculture, wheat, barley and other foodstuffs.  It struck me just how close to the land these people were.  The weather played a huge part in their lives and the seasons dominated the working day. When the daylight was available you worked, when it grew dark you went to bed. If the harvest was good you ate, if it was bad starvation and death arrived, just as it has in north eastern Africa this year.  Not that we care to watch this on TV, not when Libya is much easier to stomach, and anyway those Africans are always starving aren't they? 

We are not just too far from the land, we are too far from the manufacture of the goods around us. Food manufacturers fill our grub with many chemicals that 'enhance' the life of the product, the additives encourage us to eat more but this does not actually lead to healthier bodies. Much of our foodstuff now comes from abroad, often by aircraft usually by boat.  The world economy governs us more than our leaders, good and bad.  As the economy of the west struggles to recover it would take little to upset that of the east.  Living cocooned in our brightly lit, centrally heated, homes, minds numbed by television created by con artists, and lied to by a grasping media we are lulled into a false security, content with our lot and unaware of how close disaster is at hand.  It was ever thus.  We look no further than the end of our noses.  As long as we are OK few look into the future, preferring to leave that to others while we enjoy our soap operas and shiny things made in the far east. Is there a better way?  


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Thursday, 15 September 2011

Thursday

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I was awoken early this morning by the council men clearing the rubbish strewn across the park by the adolescents frolicking yesterday evening.  One of them nudged me with that sharp stick he was carrying and insisted somewhat rudely that I should make my way from the bench on which I had reposed last night and "Geta'arhtofit!"  I gathered my possessions, wrapped them in my neckerchief and tied it to a stick.  I then fastened my army surplus apparel around me and went to look for my breakfast.


The sun was shining brightly, the sky blue, birds sang in the trees around and large black crows were feeding of  a dropped takeaway Pizza.  Well they were until I stepped in.  I continued on my way, head down searching for dropped coins, and sauntered along at a leisurely pace, I cannot do fast any more.  I smiled happily at one and all, cheerfully greeting the young lassies as they passed, occasionally receiving a less than cheerful reply. One young lass indeed stopped to chat while I had cornere been chatting to a young blonde, she appeared very interested in me, my bags, where I was off to and what I thought I was doing. Eventually she let me off with a caution but next time she will arrest me she said, speaking into her radio and encouraging me to move elsewhere.  


Having taken the hint, and not bothered to collect a copper or two (see what I did there?) I made my way through the town and entered the dole office yet again.  It is a bit disheartening when as you enter the staff are discussing the arrangements for the Christmas party and ask if I will be going!  I watched the usual faces, the small children happily playing in the corner, their mother discussing a query with her money and was cheered to see how clean and smart this little family looked, the mothers school uniform was in excellent shape I thought. I noted also that this government has successfully removed over 111,000 thousand civil servants and has plans for many more to go by the end of the year.  Loudly they claim the private sector has filled 40,000 in that time.  Hmmmm possibly too many who make up the statistics have been removed also as I can see a fault here. However I continued smiling at everyone, strolled around, cheerful and pleasant to one and all. You see whatever the situation, I am not one to complain.....


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Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Cramond

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What a rubbish day.  It started badly, got worse, then went wrong, and suddenly I found it was dark and nothing had been done that was supposed to be done - again! I'm falling apart here, and not slowly. So here is a picture of Cramond I took a couple of years ago.  I wish I was there now.... 




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Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Closed Door

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No time to post anything at the moment, and several posts are only half witted written so here is an aged church back door.  The one the vicar used to escape rebellious parishioners.


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Saturday, 10 September 2011

Penguins

              

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Friday, 9 September 2011

Using old pics to fill a post picture

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I began this week with energy.  I had plans, ideas, things to do. One of which was to walk more, exercise and get fit.  Indeed I walked a lot on Monday, walked and exercised well (for me) on Tuesday, and my body and mind have been dead ever since!  Tuesday saw me writing things, reading, studying, and since then I have been working my way through 'Herodutus' and nothing else.  My head is dead.  The sad thing is I doubt anyone would notice.  I read all the proper blogs, when folks get around to actually writing something, (it's a bit of a pain to those of us without a life when those of you with one have the life and don't post so that we without a life can have a life through you and don't make me say that again!) and enjoy the torrent of words on show.  There are, I found, a billion American blogs giving details of their happy life. 'The Smith Family,' and 'The Robinson's at Home,' and 'The Watkins Way,' and so on, pages all about their joy, their kids (lots of fotos) and their God, and their support for the troops, and so on and on and on sickeningly!  This is my fault as a while back when pressing the 'Next Post' button I discovered page after page of porn from professional sites. I objected as if I wish porn I am well able to find it and can do without it shoved in my face, especially after reaching 60 it doesn't work so well now!  Some geek has flicked a switch and I find all the Yank families in the Mid West telling me how lovely life is and we support the Tea party!  I feel inclined to offer my thoughts and get banned from that range of blogs and put onto something with more life!  Isn't life strange sometimes?   


Anyway this lovely engine, with its misery of a driver, was the machine that pulled me into Mallaig many moons ago.  The steam train runs several times a day from Fort William to the fishing port, and you can catch the ferry to sky if you so wish, although I think this is only for pedestrians these days. A small fishing village, with I suspect a lot less boats today than when I visited some years ago.  Smoke emanating from chimneys was a strange sight, and smell, to discover, especially as I lived in the centre of London at the time.  The open space, the sky, the sea, the aroma, all made for a wonderful experience.  Watching sheep, with horns, nibbling grass by the roadside was also enjoyable, although they were not very friendly, those Gaels are a rough lot!  I have pictures of a sloping sea with some of the Isles in the distance, and one or two of the colourful boats and possibly one of the seal who kept sticking his head up in the hope of a free fish being slung at him.  Funnily enough whenever I have been up that way all the postcards show glowering clouds, and cartoon ones feature sheep cowering from rain, in telephone boxes, yet the sun always shone when I was around.  Does this mean it really does shine out of my eyes?


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Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Experimental Night Shot

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I am amazed at how dark it is by 7:30 these days, it's almost like Autumn!  However as I was strolling around looking in folks win taking my constitutional I realised I may get a shot of some bright lights.  Naturally I could not remember, or take the time, to work out how to take night shots on this camera so I just plugged away and pressed the button anyway.  Not bad but too dark for a night shot (what?).  Now, where are those instructions....?

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Monday, 5 September 2011

Park Crime

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Following on from the prison post yesterday (I almost said 'Criminal post,' but you may not have understood which one) I was confronted with police action today.  While slumbering slaving over the PC this afternoon (and by PC I mean computer not police constable) a car door slammed outside my window. Being of a nosey concerned for the good of all I looked out to check all was well. Lo and behold three coppers were running across into the park.  As I followed their progress, just in case I was required to give aid, I realised there was a huge crowd of brats, police and indeed an ambulance crew involved at the skatepark.  What with the trees and being half dressed not wearing my outer attire while at the PC I could not go down and shove my nose in  observe.


In spite of the fact that you never see one when you want one there appeared to b a dozen police wandering around today. Two sergeants, possibly a lady (?) inspector and lots of others talking to the kids there, chasing them away, and marking out an area with tape. I hoped thought at first that a knife murder may have been committed, but it may just have been some sort of accident at the skatepark. Within an hour or two it had all been cleared away, the ambulance left, the police left, and when the rain came on happily all the kids went home.  The police put a lot on community relations (community? A word constantly used but totally meaningless!) but the answer I got from that big sergeant when I asked for the details was not good relations in  my view.  Tsk! You would think that communicating with the public was important to the police, but clearly not with him!  He refused my suggestion that the 'Armed Response Group' ought to patrol the park on Saturday night, in the dark so not seen, and eradicate the noise nuisance from those using it at that time.  He refused that also!  Tsk!


I wonder, if a crime was committed, would they use the old lock up, just once?


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Sunday, 4 September 2011

Prison

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It was reading comments by several of the 'gentlemen' who post on here that got me thinking about locking people up. It certainly was not something in my mind at the time, the thought just grew slowly.  Anyway in days of yore around here they had the right idea what to do with scoundrels! 

This is the old 'lock up,' used for depositing drunks and such troublemakers during the 19th century.  The law regarding beer sales changed in 1830 and public houses, and the troubles that go with them, flourished. The narrow passage here led between two streets, one of which contained four public houses with little to admire.  Three were known to the locals as 'Little Hell,' 'Great Hell,' and 'Damnation,' which may give tend to give a false impression. Pictures of the poverty in the street, none alas online, show that this was not a rich man's area and the impression was clearly right.  That I suppose is why the lock up was placed here, near to home, as it were.  What did they call the fourth pub I wonder?  Softy, perhaps?  An 1860 photo of the eleven police officers does not give an impression of tender loving care and social concern.  Apart from one who looks at least seventy years of age the others convey an impression of 'determination' to accomplish the job, whatever that may require.  There was of course no PC, PC's in those days, and persuasion was at the end of a truncheon. Noticeably only one does not have a beard, yet he does have a moustache. While this was fashionable I suppose before the 'safety razor' it was also practicable.  I suppose the cost of being shaved regularly in a barbers shop was too much for many folk. In some army regiments of the time a moustache was regulation!  

The night accommodation was only sixteen feet long, yet was divided into two cells. Just how many were crushed in there on a Saturday night is not worth pondering. The conditions would be somewhat nifty I suspect, but on the other hand these would for the most part be regulars.  The homes would be pretty shabby for a great many at that time, even in this small town.  While many houses were built as the town flourished it was the middling classes who could afford them, and I doubt they would have used this street for an evening out.

Usage ceased in 1875, probably when radical changes to jails throughout the land reorganised policing. Ne prisons were built under the influence of Jeremy Benthams 'Utilitarianism' philosophy, and his mates Chadwicks eagerness to change society, to save on the rates!  The town got a new police station, attached to a courthouse so the drunks and assorted louts could enjoy a more comfortable night, and then be fined in the morning!  When I was a lad in Edinburgh we had a fear that, if drunk, we may get dumped in the High Street cell kept for that purpose. This was rumoured to be one large cell full of whatever drunk happened to have pushed his luck, and not all of these chaps were as amiable as I, and this could be seen as 'uncomfortable. I am sure Mike S. knows more about that side of things than I do however.  I never used it, because as you know, I'm nice.

This Lock up now stands empty, it appears to have no use whatsoever, however as a listed building it will be kept as part of the town's history.  Just what tourists wish to see, where the drunks were caged!  The Territorial Army used it after the police left, to store ammunition!  I suppose that was in the hope an explosion would remove the rough street and the pubs with it.  However they were swept away some time ago with radical redevelopment and an ultra clean shopping centre happily overcharges all and sundry while complaining about high rates and taxes.  The public houses have gone, as indeed have many others in the town, and those that survive, or have been created in the last few years, make their way to profit based on live football and food and cleanliness.  There are, I am told, still skirmishes in the evening at some however. I am in bed by that time of course.



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Saturday, 3 September 2011

Sunshine Saturday

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This was an attempt to catch the early morning dew glinting on the brightly coloured floats at the children's shows in the park.  There is something about the early morning sunshine, yet I fail to catch it well with this little camera. I would have attempted some more but the guy running it was out and about and I spent a time chatting to him about his life, the goods left behind by people et al.  By the time we finished the sun was rising higher and my breakfast was calling loudly! I thought about some pics here yesterday but frown upon taking pics of kids in case some neurotic wifey jumps on me! The colours are attractive but when I was a lad the real 'shows' ('fairs' to the English audience) were what we visited in the dark!  When I was about four the began to arrive and the noise, lights and possibilities were a huge attraction.  I loved those small kids roundabouts that featured well made cars and buses, which you could actually climb upstairs on, and other such vehicles. By the time I was ten I was fascinated by rolling those big old pennies down the slot in a vain attempt to get rich, it never worked. I was no young to appreciate that you never win on those!  I remember staring into the dark night sky, the great 'ERF' lorries in the background, noisy engines running to power the lights, as searchlights beamed on a woman balancing on the end of a pole a hundred feet in the sky!  Actually as she twirled and swung herself around it was probably only about twenty feet high, but I was not that tall then either. My sister, fifteen years at the time, had a stand up fight with my dad which I can clearly remember.  She and her slightly older mate were off down to the 'shows' to meet the men working there and dad was worldly wise enough to ensure she was not going to get there, she didn't!  Ah memories, so long ago, and now I forget what I was doing a few minutes ago....hmmm what's that burning smell...?  Oh the oven...




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Friday, 2 September 2011

House

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This is one of several houses around here designed in the William Morris 'Arts & Crafts' style and built around 1900, give or take ten years either way. Morris was one of those well to do middle class socialists that arose during the nineteenth century.  Adrift from the really poor he did aspire to create a more egalitarian, liberal, society while also developing his own art which showed up in textiles, writing and poetry. 'Arts & Crafts' basic idea was the promotion of the individual craftsman as opposed to the increasing use of machinery. This of course led to the finished high quality product being very expensive, and well out of the reach of the lower classes, and the middle classes also preferred the cheaper mass produced textiles, wallpaper and fabrics. Buildings such as this also show much in the way of craftsmanship, although as there are several like this about I am not sure how much the builders merely followed a mass produced plan!  Surprisingly I have noticed this building is not on the 'listed buildings' site either. Maybe they are not worth that much to the listing people?  Mind you one sold for around £400,000 recently, but not to me!




Somewhat typically the last day of Summer was overcast by white clouds accompanied by low temperatures. The first day of Autumn yesterday saw the clouds lift and the sun reappear. Today I strolled out wearing my disgusting old fleece jacket and found the air very warm indeed. High above the half naked young males attempting to impress the half naked young females soared the seagulls as they whirled about vulture like, slowly making their way the the estuary around fifteen miles away.  There they spend the night, on the water I suppose, before returning with the dawn to live off the land. I wonder if they do this the right way? I realise that my little camera could not get any closer to them, and they may be found as little dots near the bottom of the picture, but it is difficult to focus when some sixteen year old nymph is sunbathing nearby.


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Thursday, 1 September 2011

Down at the Labour Exchange

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Few people realise that Winston Churchill was responsible for the 'Labour Exchange' coming into existence.He, while President of the Board of Trade, along with Beveridge and Lloyd-George, brought about great change in the United Kingdom during 1909, and one of those changes was the Labour Exchange offices. The labour market at the time was confused and there was much 'casual employment,' and this new system was combined with the introduction of 'Unemployment Benefit.' Many forget that while Churchill was very evidently an aristocrat he also took the view that his position gave him a paternalistic duty to care for those less well off, something Margaret Thatcher and her spawn David Cameron have never understood! Many also forget that he was also a member of the Liberal government at the time, and urged the introduction of pensions at that time also. He had indeed belonged to the Conservative Party and had 'crossed the floor' off the house of Commons to become a Liberal, and more importantly, take a powerful position! Later he recrossed the floor to join a Conservative government, power being more important than party, indeed as it should be I say!


Today I visited the Jobcentre, the modern equivalent of the Labour Exchange. I have been signed on by a Polish woman in recent days.  This has caused much chagrin as she fails to understand what is written on the 'work sheet' I present because she is Polish and does not truly understand things in the way other members of staff have done successfully so far. Today I noted she was happily engaged in aiding a Polish family to fill in forms while I waited.  Although I was not waiting long I found myself becoming a 'Daily Mail' reader and began asking (to myself as the security guy is a big fella) why all these immigrants are coming in here taking our jobs. (I had read this sort of thing in the DM that morning by the way) I found myself fretting over the time she was taking, are piling up questions to ask her like, "Is your family settled now?" and "No wonder I canny get a job!" The family left clutching the paperwork and went on their way. She then spent some time chatting to others about her task.  I waited, offering dark glances and unuttered expressions in her direction.The EU has many advantages, and considerable failings, and this does allow people to travel across Europe to work. This is fine, but does hinder indigenous employment, where jobs actually exist in the first place that is. Nothing wrong with this in itself but sometimes it is an irritation. How terrible to be thinking like a 'Daily Mail' reader. I will be avoiding tax, hating Muslims, and demanding independence for England next,from my warm, safe suburb in the Surrey countryside. My musings were then uninterrupted as a voice called me! Not the Polish bint, the girl sitting around the corner. This one sweetly signed me on and cheerfully threw me back out onto the street where she considers I belong.
I had been fretting for nothing! The Polish bint wasn't dealing with me today! Maybe, just maybe,  that is why she was smiling?  All that fretting like a lower middle class, 'comfortable,' white, Englishman for nothing.
Isn't it just the way?