Thursday, 23 January 2020

Barber!


Today I had a haircut!
This haircut took THREE QUARTERS OF AN HOUR!!!!!
Yes indeed, almost half my day was spent in a barbers this lunchtime! 
The day started in the normal manner, I went back to bed after breakfast, and went downhill from there.  The idea was to visit the local shop for a haircut.  This proved impossible, not only were they busy but Jim was on all alone and he does not like me.  So I mused on another barbers, there are about 17 male and female hairdressers of various sorts in this small town, and I chose one that had been recommended situated next to Tesco.  This was the type of barber old men go to and I had a view in my mind what he may be like.
I WAS WRONG!
A man was having his hair cut, a man of, er, mature years.
A second was awaiting his turn.
I sat staring out the window at the world passing by.
I sat and waited.
I waited.
I waited.
I waited.
After a considerable time the barber (or was he a hairdresser?) finished fussing rather too attentively to his customer, clearly a regular.
He left.
The second man took his place in the seat (bought second hand from a dentist I wondered?) and the operation began.
I sat staring at the world passing by.
I waited.
I waited.
I waited.
The barber, as he had with the first man, fussed and fretted and talked.  
Man did he talk!!!
I waited.
I waited checking my watch every time the Town Hall clock opposite chimed.
I waited.
I waited and considered having to shave again when I got home.
Eventually my turn came.
The seat awaited me, I struggled to stand having been sitting since dawn and crossed the floor of the once well maintained shop. 
He asked my desire.
I bit my lip and avoided using the word 'quick' and explained why the mop on my head required fixing.
He began chopping, talking, fussing, combing, talking, fussing, cutting, combing, talking, on and on and on....
Eventually he finished. 
The haircut was perfectly acceptable.
He was still talking.
I rose slowly from the seat and walked through a mass of grey hair wondering where it came from.
Replaced my jacket and enquired as to the price.
£11 he charged!  £7 at Chris & Jims.
I noticed he only took £10 from the previous customer.
I said nothing, after ageing greatly of the previous hours I did not care to argue, I just wished to leave and get away from his talking.  I paid and made for the door.  he talked, he spoke, he talked and only another customer, yet another well into his 70's, entered, did I manage to make my escape.
The light had changed considerably since I had got up.  
As I walked into town I was struck by how quiet everything was, something I had not noticed before. Usually buses, cars, passers-by, talking women, music, workers children and other noises were noticeable. Today it all appeared so quiet.
I may go elsewhere next time...

     

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Twits


I like Twitter.
I realise that like all 'social media' Twitter can be very unsocial, after all there are many wee boys shouting the odds on there, and the 'pub bore' who we all ignore is now at hand in all the more important Tweets that we follow.  That said I find it a decent way to get information on important happenings re football and other matters.  
There are disadvantages however.
One problem is the repeat of news.  An item re Harry & Megan will be broadcast and appear online, this will be re-tweeted by several individuals and also by news outlets.  One story can appear dozens of times in many guises.  This can be wearing, especially when the story is three days old yet media keep plugging it.  
Another problem is when I make a sensible comment, that is all I do, and this is then 'liked' by others.  Why is being 'liked' a problem?  We in itself this is gratifying, the knowledge that I am right once again and many individuals wish to agree with me is in itself satisfying.  The problem arises when a closer look is made of those agreeing with me.   
Any comment laughing at one half of the Old Firm (Rangers & Celtic) will always bring support from those on the other side, the side hurt will always disagree, thinking is never required with these people.  Supporters of non Old Firm sides will often join in supporting my point and indicating their lack of love for the afore said pair.  That is fine in my opinion. 
However on other occasions I make comments and those that support me leave me wondering where I am standing.  On occasions those best regarded as being on the 'Far right' have agreed with me.  Some so far to the right they consider Boris to be a communist!  The 'Far Left' also like to agree on occasion, I am now worried I am now a Jeremy Corbyn fan!  If both types agree with me on any one point I begin to wonder if I was right in the first place.
A look through some of the 'likes' today reveal anti-Islamic English types, youthful males who put up hilarious (in their view) videos, and offer the 'twenty something' type humour that is not funny to anyone over er, 35...  Today I have a Donald Trump supporting, gun running, anti -immigrant Yankie on my side along with a Tory Brexiteer!  On the other hand I have a Guardian reading 'Green' liking me, a Liverpool fan who appears almost normal, various imperialist English demanding Scotland 'shuts up and obeys,' and then there is worse.
Several names have few followers and follow few if any others.  They post nothing it appears, merely adding their 'like' to sites that suit them, several of those have agreed with me.  Worrying innit?
What it reveals is the mixture of beliefs with no basis other than an individuals opinion, based on nothing permanent.  Several are clearly only interested in influencing quietly, others just want everybody to 'obey' all the while talking about 'democracy.'  The 'Likers' come from many nations, often presenting one side of that nations ideals, some appear unhinged indeed, few are willing to listen, a dying art and not one that will be encouraged by the UK political system nor its practitioners today.     
All in all my fan club today leave me wishing for an argument with an Old Firm fan.  Even they appear more sensible than those that have 'liked' me in recent days.  What does it all mean?  

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Cold TV


A wee bit chilly last night.  I forgot to put the heater on in the living room and it was a lower temperature than any so far!  Wrapped up in my duvet in the West Wing I did not notice so much.  The field was white but soon the frost evaporated as the sun rose low in the distance.  (I suppose the sun would be at a 'distance.')


I am not sure if you had noticed but apparently Prince Harry, him of the ginger hair, and his woman have fled to Canada.  Apparently they think this will give them the opportunity to live free of press scrutiny and allow them to live life their way and make cash sufficient to enable them to live according to what they have become accustomed.  He clearly has his mothers brains.
You may have missed this and I hardly noticed it myself bar the near entire page of the 'Online Mail' mentioning it several times.  Almost everybody connected to the Royal House have made their comment, although none of the actual royals have done so, ex-butlers, retired journalists, women who 'waited,' 'friends,' 'sources close to...,' and lots of nobodies who wished a chance to appear on TV or have their picture in the paper have spoken.  I missed them all.    
My ignorance of the travails comes from a choice, a choice to ignore anything other than the main headline and omit the pap that follows, this makes life easier.  There again not watching the 'Bread & Circus's' offered by TV I do miss much of what is going on in the world, however I do not appear to miss out on anything important.  One lad asked two old men on Sunday about a chap called 'The Rock.'  My mate asked if this was 'Rocky Marciano?' but the young lad had never heard of him.  It appears this is a chap from TV who we had missed.  I am not sure we regret this.  This reveals how we are educated into the world.  Kids follow what the others at school watch, much of TV is ideal for young heads, and anyone over 35 or so avoids such TV unless they have kids watching, the parents attempting to understand what is going into the brats head.  
Were we like this?
Did we become dumb watching 'The Lone Ranger,' or 'Robin Hood?'  Knowing now how little historical accuracy was employed in either programme, let alone the sight of the 'Lone Ranger' and his mate 'Tonto' walking across the prairie searching for the silver bullets he fired that missed, did not take away from us kids the enjoyment that such rubbish brought.  Young folks require historical accuracy but not it appears entirely accurate.  How many 'Cowboy' films did we watch, still available on the 'Movies for Men' channel, before we realised they were nonsense?  How often did we see our lives developing as some individual on TV?  Real life got in the way too often to stop those lives appearing.  I could never afford those sharp 1960's suits the 'Saint' wore anyway.  What we put into our kids heads influences them, just as it does us.  
Looking at what is on offer on TV today I am glad books exist!  Books, whatever sort, offer more detail, more facts and by reading both sides of an argument you can come to a conclusion not offered by watching the 'A Team' or a film from the 1940's.  Such films appear to be popular with women more than men I note while men prefer news or programmes that actually say something useful, like football!  My mum used to complain men just want to watch the news while she just wanted local news.  
Men are such a nuisance.  


Monday, 20 January 2020

Morning Blues Eased


Monday morning blues ought not to bother someone who is not going out.  However my bleary eyes did not relish the chill in the air nor the requirement to leave my bed at 7:15.  The sight of the pink clouds in the distant did help however.  Deep pink reflecting of the long streaks of cloud, or was it something left by aircraft heading into Stansted?  Either way when I got the camera to the window it had all gone and instead this long, very long cloud reflected a more usual morning sight.  The denser lower atmosphere, so my book tells me, tends to disrupt the 'Blue' wavelength of sunlight leaving lower clouds tinged with pink, higher clouds in less dense air show up white as the light is not broken up.  Whether this means 'Red sky in morning shepherds warning' still rings true we will no doubt discover soon. 


Apart from requiring heating on all night the weather in the morning is bright.  Saturday saw the sun creep just high enough to burn the rooftops of the houses, I hope they did not catch fire.  During 1962/63 we had a terrible deep winter, no 'global warming' then and I recall the pain in my eyes as I stepped out of doors while in school and wandered into the snow filled landscape.  The low sun bouncing of the snow hurt eyes badly.  I am quite glad that is not happening now.  It is bad enough trying to see when the sun is directly in your eyes as it is. 


One thing we know about Boris is the lies and grandiose statements that fly from his ever moving and never honest lips.  The latest is the Troll idea of moving the House of Lords 'up north' so it can 'Connect with people.'  This of course has filled acres of space in the press already, meaning no space is left for discussion of the 'Russian influence' dodgy dossier that Boris has withheld.  Possibly there is a connection?  Boris likes absurd ideas, a bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland for instance, and any other item that will appeal to the sheep while avoiding answering questions that matter, not that anyone in opposition is asking such questions.  We will find the media dominated by such absurd stories in the next few years as Boris and his friends are found out.  The Billions he has offered for Police, NHS, Education and everyone else, with tax reductions, does not make sense until you remember he is a liar who never keeps a promise, just ask any of his women.  I now await expectantly his government, and himself collapsing internally.  This may take time, the sheep will be slow to accept, but collapse it will and then hopefully justice.  It may be too late for the nation by then of course.

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Lucky Me!


I hobbled down to the Sorting Office this morning to collect a packet that has waited there since January 6th.  My strained back would not let me go until today, it appears fine just now, and so off I went expectantly.
The small box was off the wrong shape to go through a letter box clearly, the weight was minimal, and the plastic around it weighed more than the goods inside.  The postage costs also outweighed the purchase price.
Inside I found a bag of Christmas Brussels Sprouts made from chocolate, that is Sugar, Palm Kernel oil, Dried whey (MILK), fat reduced Cocoa Powder, Emulsifier (SOYA Lecithin), Stabiliser (Sorbitan Tristearate), Vanilla Flavouring, as you would expect.
I feel the wait was worth while.
This gift comes from a lass I have known for years and years, I worked with her husband in 1975, probably before you were born, and they returned to Northern Ireland when it was a bit more peaceful where he died during an operation, he never recovered consciousness.  All very sad.  We had begun to exchange expensive gifts by that time, each Christmas I would send over two tea bags or a sachet of soup to receive by return of post a thin string of Christmas glitter or a broken pencil, they claimed it was OK when it left!  Such quality ought to be continued I say.  If only all my Christmas folk were that cheap!


In all this I missed the cricket while sipping tea all morning and had to make do with the 'Hits' as Sky calls it.  This was not pleasant as England were scoring lots of runs.  Most annoying especially after the arrogant way Boris ignored the Scottish MPs yesterday in the House.  His attitude merely increases Scots distaste for him and while this may be a 'Phoney War' period it will mount up and catch him unaware.  Boris now sits happily as PM surrounded by enemies all of whom carry a knife with which to use on his back as soon as the chance arrives.  Yes Mr Gove I do mean you.  Soon Boris will be watching more cricket with a new woman or two.


Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Dmitri and the 'Leningrad' Symphony Book.


Most are aware of the Nazi's long and ultimately failed siege of Leningrad during the Second World War.  Few go into the details as the descent into deprivation caused by hunger, fear and human nature is not always good reading.  There is much in this book that would put you off your lunch.
The author, an American who thinks 'Football' is called 'Soccer,' has made use of several books concerning his subject, almost all of them untrustworthy.  Being brought up under a Stalinist regime means nothing is clear, nothing is truthful and desperation for survival brings lies and guilt which breed more lies.  Therefore we have a biography with limited primary sources, and those debatable.
However it is clear he was born into a middle class home, grew up during the First World War, saw his father participate in the revolution, endured life as a competent composer while Stalin took power and invoked the 'Terror.'  Then, after experiencing 'Terror' himself the Germans invaded and soon Leningrad his home was under siege.
I found the writing easy in this book.  The descriptions of the 'Terror' of the 30's is clear, we all know about that, and then the details concerning the surrounding of the city and the description of the struggle for survival while appalling at times straight forward and ghastly.  The dead mount up, starving people turn to robbery or cannibalism, yet others join together to eke out the little they have, not counting the Communist leaders of course who did very well.  The struggle shows how low the human nature can go, it also reveals the height some reach in aiding one another.
Dmitri Shostakovich continues to write his music through all these troubles.  Rising to fame in the 1920's with appropriate songs for the revolutionary times, amended to fit the Stalinist realism of the 30's, it saved him visiting the Gulag.
One aspect of the story is his desire to help others in any way he can, however at many times he has to say and do things with which he disagrees, he faces opposition from Stalin himself at one point and gets very near his end but survives.  On one occasion he is brought into the centre jail and asked to inform on people he met at a party.  He cannot as they have not sought to rebel.  He is told to return next day ready to admit their fault.  He arrives and is kept waiting.  Eventually he enquires of an NKVD officer as to what is to happen.  It transpires nothing will happen, the officer who threatened him the day before has been arrested and shot.  All his meetings have been cancelled!  Dmitri goes back home and hears no more about it.  Such was the Soviet system in the late 30's.
With his city suffering he begins a symphony designed to lift the nation.  Eventually news of this leaks out and he and his wife and children and removed far from Leningrad.  Here he finishes the symphony and sends it back to be performed in the city itself.
The orchestra has of course been dying off.  Most remaining, about 15 of them, were starving, those brought from outside, including members of the army bands, were also malnourished, and a terrible scene reveals the desperation to rehearse the music.  Eventually, once the music has been exported across the world and played in London and New York to a world audience awaiting encouragement from Russia, the war had yet not turned in the allies favour, the Leningrad Symphony was played in Leningrad.  At the time the book claims this alone inspired the Soviet people in their war against the fascist aggressor.  Because the Germans were.  'National Socialist' the Soviets hid this by calling them 'Fascist.'
After the symphony was played things began to turn.  In late 1942, before the playing of the work, British Empire forces had won at El Alamein and began clearing the enemy from North Africa.  Soon after the inspiration of the work the Soviet forces began to end the siege and within a year the city was damaged, haunted, full of guilt and fear, but free from German oppression.  The book likes to claim much credit to the music for this result.
The result of the war is well known, it was in all the papers, yet even after the war Stalin sought a 'terror' once again in which Dmitri and his music became criticised.  He survived, just, and eventually died in his bed in 1975.  It took me a week or so to read this book, what with coughing and straining my muscles.  It was an easy read in spite of the Americanisms within and well worth a go for those interested in composers like Shostakovich.  The book shows how much of his work arose in dire trouble and reflects the society in which he lived.
This book was a Xmas gift from my beautiful and intelligent piano playing niece.  She also sent me the music CD to go along with this book.  Clever girl!

 
Sadly not the St Petersburg Orchestra  have, but this will do.


Monday, 13 January 2020

Sigh!


Since this germ was kindly given to me, way back in early December, luck has been with me.  Luck?  I mean Bad luck.  The strange side effects that bedevilled me for a fortnight, the cough which followed and only now looks like abating (my neighbours downstairs will be glad) and then there are the little things.
The light went out in the fridge freezer.  The whole thing appeared to stop.  This meant removing stuff and placing it in the landlords fridge, which has not been touched in years and needing wiped when I was exhausted and it was late at night (see neighbours again).   It turned out the fridge freezer works OK, so all has to go back, no cleaning attempted this time, and the light is still out as the plastic surround will not come off! 
The mouse returned.

The mouse's appearance so frightened the lass next door she has forced her man to leave move her out.  I hear a child is on the way and she is neurotic about babies attacked by mice.  Hmmm.  The landlord had a man in to deal with the mouse, I blocked up all I could and the mouse vanished.  Once I had confirmed he had gone he reappeared, apparently orange peel is attractive.  No more of that left for him.  
Once my back heals, ah yes my back.
At Christmas I aided an old man to stand, my right arm soon ached with the strain!  It still does, though much lessened.  Then I did my back in, this still aches but not so bad.  I am treating it gently however and it is healing.  And on top of this things keep falling apart.  Things fall on the floor and disappear, my glasses of course required renewing after I stood on them, packets are delivered by a postie who cannot knock loudly on the door and I have yet to get to the sorting office to collect it, and each time I am on the internet something goes wrong, pages vanish, strange messages appear, new spam piles up.
However, after a bad Saturday, full of aches and that dreary lurgii that leaves only a rotten feeling things have begun to improve.  The bug is clearing up I believe, my head is almost awake, and as I sat on my bed rejoicing last night I spilled a near full mug of tea across the bed.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Things are so bad I got a call from Sandringham today offering sympathy!


Talking of which I began to wonder what was hiding behind the hundreds of articles full of ignorant speculation in the media?  As fear of war recedes in the Gulf, at least until Trump pushes it again, the media need something to protect Boris.  What devious Bill is he offering behind the headlines, what important decision is not being given the space it deserves?  These are good days to hide bad news, and all Boris has to offer is news that will be bad for us.  We need to read the small stories also.


It never fails to surprise me how interested the secular media are when something happens with a Pope.  They disregard Christianity, speak against it, live lives totally opposed to it then offer long reports on radio and fill space in the media concerning the goings on.  Why?  All these folk do is declare their clear ignorance of the subject, spew forth this ignorance and yet take no time to learn or research the subject.  
This time there is an attempt to make out one ex-Pope is attacking the current Pope, although whether that is what he is doing is dubious.  The point concerns celibacy and the demand priests must be celibate.  Pope Francis has indicated he may allow some priests to be married in those far off areas where it is difficult to acquire priests.  Benedict objects possibly not because of the priests being married in this situation but that it may remove celibacy altogether from the church.  Such an idea goes way back into the past, a celibate man being dedicated to God more than a married one.
We have to ignore Roman Catholic teaching and seek scripture, no objection to marriage is found for the church leaders.  Paul indicates this does make life difficult for a man running a church but I suspect almost all leaders in the first 200  years were married with single men being rare.  
By the late 300's AD churches had changed.  Constantine had legalised the church, many found this a way to high position and in my mind this is where a separation of Priest and laity arises.  There appear to be many who wish to be among the ecclesiastical hierarchy and position themselves as priests and important men.  Celibacy is added, not just to offer commitment but possibly for a Greek sense of 'purity' that is not found in scripture.
We need not add surely that you will realise that a priest's job is to take your sacrifice and offer this to God, he gets in between you and God.  When Jesus died on the cross the curtain in the temple enclosing the 'Holy of Holies' the residence of God himself, tore apart from top to bottom.  This showed the way to God fro each individual was now open, but only through the Great High Priest Jesus Christ.  He is both the sacrifice and the high priest, anyone who stands between you and God calling himself priest is a false priest!      
Indicating this to Anglicans, who have now dropped the term 'Vicar' and replaced it with 'Priest in charge' brings lots of silent looks.  Indicating this to RC's may bring much more.
Jesus made no rule but in Matthew 19 he indicates marriage is for life, not just until you get fed up, and some will be single for a variety of reasons.  The disciples at the time thought long term marriage a hard thing, most may well have been married.  People get married and remains single for many reasons, sometimes love, but there is no, and can be no demand to be celibate.  Indeed one scripture indicates those who demand this are a danger, possibly  Greek influence. I forget where it is found.
The two Popes would be better off ignoring the celibacy thing and spend time reading scripture, putting aside false church teaching and following Jesus instead of debates about that which is quite clear to most other churches.

Thursday, 9 January 2020

Thankful Thursday


I am nonplussed by the situation, a situation in which even the squirrels will not jump over the railings, cross the busy road, climb up the walls and offer me a gentle back massage.  They appear keen to do this for one another.  Possibly they have been reading the responses I have been given from a variety of femalehood who rejected the opportunity to do this little job.  These were not very ladylike I must say.
However life is getting better, today I stumbled up to Sainsburys before 7:30 to collect the basics required to keep me going until the weekend.  This shop is not far away but having carried a small bag back home I think I can feel the effect on my back.  Still, I will be OK soon, it is the people who have pains that cannot be traced and lead to long term hospitalisation that I feel for.  It came to mind my time in the infirmary in 1974.  I was asked to help set up the 'ironing board.'  I looked at the sister and she giggled before a nurse took me to the bottom of the ward where a contraption, like an ironing board had mysteriously replaced a bed without me noticing.  (I was busy elsewhere)  Here we put together what was just two rather thin pieces of strong wood, like an ironing board, and obtained a patient for whom this was intended.  The man lay down on the bottom board, hard and unyielding, the board, not the man, and as he lay staring into space the second hard board was lain above him.  By tightening the screws on this torture table we turned the poor man over every two hours.  He was to spend three weeks with us on this board in an attempt to clear his back problem.  I have no idea how it ended or whether it worked but I hope never to develop whatever he had developed.  Poor man.  
Anyway the cough woke me at five this morning and by six I was having breakfast with the remnants of the stale bread.  I then visited the store, had a bath, boy I needed one, and after having read several chapters of my new book and the water getting cold I did the laundry!  What an exciting day! Was your day as good as this?
Having been unable to do anything this was indeed a relief but I feel not quite with it yet, showing just how much of a wimp I am, and I am planning my return to exercise next week.  Funny how during November I was exercising and beginning to feel quite good.  One cough from a friend and here I am standing at the undertakers up the road checking prices!  
Tomorrow I will just sit and read all day...


When you play at war accidents happen.  Men get jittery and fire before they see the enemy, others automatically respond, on occasion some care little and open fire anyway.  Now it appears the Ukrainian passenger jet shot down after leaving Tehran airport might have been accidentally destroyed by Iranian anti-aircraft fire.   176 persons, some Iranian, were lost. It would be all to easy to say "Trump, your grandstanding caused this!"  But I will not say that.

 ITV

I wonder if Harry really thought this through.  Just because your bint says it ill be OK does not mean it will be OK, especially when she does not know what she is talking about.  Grumbling about press coverage is understandable, sue them I say, but 'stepping back' from being royal does not work.  The grubby media will be even more desperate to seek you out, the chances of 'earning a living' is just nonsense, and the desire to keep all the houses and rich lifestyle with the income is unworkable.  
If they give up royal duties this means losing the wages that go with it, they do not appear to have considered this.  Who will employ them?  Or who will make use of them, probably that is a better question, and now the Piers Morgan's of this world have tasted blood and these men will never stop, even if the law says they ought to.  Life is not going to get easier Harry.

Monday, 6 January 2020

Oh me Back...


It looks like this will be an interesting year.
So far the cough has not left me, I have had a run in with a lout, my arm aches and my knees continue to bother me, and now I have a bad back.
The other day, while dosed up and coughing, I had an encounter unexpectedly in Tesco.  This irked me somewhat and I was less careful of what I was doing.
Saturday night, while my cough developed into a new level of horrid my lower back began to stiffen.
Why does it take 24 hours to come out?
By Sunday, little sleep from coughing and much aching in the back from the same I remained indoors watching cricket.  This was OK.  It reminded me of the long gone days of BBC covering the cricket, always better than anyone else I say.  With Brian Johnson and his gang on the radio I had the set on all day as I pursued my studies (pretentious moi?).  The BBC were always somewhat laid back while watching cricket, the weird folks in the crowd, the pigeons, people carrying trays of beer while the crowd awaited the spill, all good and proper.  Sky coverage here is also quite good.  They do keep offering computerised images of balls in various places around the wicket but these do not distract. There is always time to find Charlie Chaplin in the crowd.  So apart from the response by South Africa, still 326 runs required but not collapsing England style, I have actually enjoyed this boring game quite a lot.  Some of it I am even beginning to understand.  
However, every time I stand I ache and while things will improve day by day I am not happy. 
My arm still has an ache from Christmas, my back has joined in, my cough still hates me and my knees are enjoying the rest. 
I cannot wait for what will go wrong next.


Ah, world war three, that's what happens next!
Boris, who has eventually returned from holiday in Skegness or somewhere has got to work.  Dominic Raab, the sleepy Foreign Minister, was on duty over the weekend, his first response to Trumps murder of the Iranian thug was one calling for 'de-escalation,' a fancy political way of shouting 'Leave him alone, it's not worth it.'  Soon however the Yanks were grumbling about a lack of support from Europe, I wonder what caused that?  A quick call to Boris, a quicker call to Raab and soon the UK message was one speaking of how awful the Iranian was.  But de-escalate anyway.
Donald has pushed his luck here, he now knows the 'allies' will not encourage a war just because he is getting impeached and an election is looming.  The French and Germans have spoken to him, in full and frank tones I suspect, and made clear what he ought to do.  Whether he was listening I know not.
Have you ever wondered if Twitter would withdraw the Presidents Twitter account?  He threatens war and this could be breaking their rules.  I bet many have complained but so far he keeps twitting, as indeed any twit would.  Excuse me, I have to go check mine...

Saturday, 4 January 2020

Glasses


This lunchtime I stumbled down to the crowded 'Specsavers' shop to collect the new glasses.  Sadly, the young Welsh girl was not on duty and after waiting a few minutes the boss pushed me through and a handsome young man dealt with me.  This was not what I wished!  A delightful young blonde who flashes her eyes and smiles is what I wish for, not a handsome 20 something with a probable 1st in advanced maths, highly intelligent, liked by all the girls, will progress to some high rank in the civil service or business earning asses of cash and remain popular with all.  When I meet folks like that the word "Sickening," goes through my mind...pah!



Anyway, having arrived a few minutes early and found the shop crowded I expected to wait a while. However the woman in charge got me seen to (a lot of people claim I need to be 'seen too.') by the Aryan gent and efficiently he also rushed me through and soon afterwards I was once again outside trying my long vision as I made my way home, tripping over the pavements.   In all I was home in 30 minutes, often while getting new glasses it takes that long in the shop.
Now I just have to get used to the things.  The outdoor pair appear OK, I find they are never quite right but not worth fussing over, and the indoor ones allow me to almost see the TV from here at the laptop.  It takes a few days to get to know them, I expect to fall downstairs a couple of times this week...



As there was no football live last night, none today either, I lowered my expectations and turned on the cricket.  I did this when I noticed England were struggling and as this is always appealing to me I began to watch intermittently.  I just finished writing about 'Specsavers' turned on the cricket and England got a wicket!  Grrrr!  South Africa were doing so well and may have thrown it away now. Tsk!
One thing I notice that surprised me was the players wearing numbers on their backs.  This looks somewhat tacky to me.  Helmets and such like make sense but I see no need for numbers.  Cricket followers arrive for the day, prepared for everything.  You see them with hampers for lunch, blankets for cold, sun cream for warmth and binoculars to watch the tea room and spectators in other parts of the ground.  Why the numbers?  Tacky I say.
The bright sun, which came over today, and blue sky and the mountains in the rear are wonderful to see, as indeed are the occasional exotic bird which appears feeding on the ground occasionally.  All this is to my mind more interesting than the cricket.  However as South Africa are slowly catching up with England's feeble score I am quite happy.  This makes a change from watching football in the rain.


  
Now is the time to check that insurance policy.  I suggest the bit about 'Iranian Terrorist Attacks' should be updated.  The 3 year old orange man in the White House has done it this time.  There are many reasons no-one has suggested taking out Soleimani before now, so why has it happened?  The idea that this stops known planned attacks is a somewhat weak excuse, even if some attacks were planned, and the thought that a small war against Iran might aid his chances of re-election this year cannot be ignored.  He is not the first US president to risk his own men's lives as well as thousands of others with them just to keep his job.  Nixon persuaded the South Vietnamese to withdraw from an armistice Lyndon Johnson had arranged on the basis that he would get a better one.   
 The war continued for another 6 years costing 20,000 US troops and how many others, did he care I wonder?

Tit-for-tat is al very well at a low level but when you take out such a man as he you go up a level and risk outright war.  Iran has no choice but to retaliate, and powerfully.  Many of their people will demand this.  Many more will become willing to sell themselves for their nation, both in the middle east and abroad.  Did the trigger happy clowns around Trump really think they could do this?
It is clear they did not discuss this with any so called ally.  The UK were not informed, it is clear they are not keen on this adventure either.  Had they been informed a clear strategy would have emerged, "Don't do it!"  Maybe that is why they were ignored? 
Something will happen, sooner or later, but some senior person may well be dealt with by an Iranian group.  


Wednesday, 1 January 2020

New Years Day


I tried the Garfield style for a while today and filled my time by drinking tea, eating 'Black Bun' and watching football.  Though to be honest my mind wandered here, there and everywhere while doing so.  There was little response outside.  A dog or two was seen in the park opposite walking the owner, running free and full of joy, the dog not the owner, while gray clouds hung overhead pretending to be in Edinburgh.  


Around eleven I was desperate to be out of " or whatever as they pass but in the past ten years many from outside have brought their London ways with them.  This means people are less likely to offer such greetings and the mob I saw were clearly of that grumpy mind.  Even the dogs ignored me, the preference for strange aromas found round the legs of park seats appeared more delightful to them than my presence ever could.  


I stumbled into the edge of town, accidentally collecting £100 from the bank as I passed, noted that 'Iceland,' 'The Edinburgh Woolen Mill,' 'Sainsburys' and the Bookies, the usual suspects, were open but little else as far as I could see showed its face or moved.  Sullen people moved slowly, grim faces in the slight chill, eyes not indicating anyone was at home, even the birds were missing bar one white pigeon, no leftovers from last nights takeaways for them today.  So I returned home to feeble football, filling in the second calendar dates, removing the many Chinese spam links that appeared late last night and began to read one of my new books.  Question, why do Chinese spam merchants think we will understand them?  Are they not aware that their squiggles mean nothing, indicating little to outsiders?  I suspect I know what was on offer however. 
The 'Roaring Twenties' have begin but they appear a bit slow at the moment...


Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Hogmanay


On his last album John Lennon had a song which included the words:-
"Life is what happens to you when you're making other plans."
Today the plan was simple, first off breakfast, then Tesco for last shop off year, then ash, shave, fall asleep.  Simple and straight forward.
So awakened by a coughing fit before seven am, forced up when half asleep, struggled around to Tesco by 10:30.  The place was busy, many kids wandering around putting things into mums trolley, mum swiftly returning them as she walks.  However as I left the house I noticed one of those Royal Mail 'You were out' type cards scrunched up in the letterbox left from yesterday.  The ratbag!  This meant that after Tesco I had to limp all the way down to the sorting office for this very important and unexpected parcel.


This parcel, unexpected but hoped to be something expensive, turns out to be a picture calendar of 'The Broons' that would not fit through the door.  Thirty five minutes of hobbling, a few minutes with a miserable fat bloke, too fat to deliver mail, and all for this!  Naturally my sister did not mention she was sending this, though she usually does send a calendar, but mention was there none, and I have just finished filling in all the birthdays on the cheap calendar I bought myself.  Bah!
Sadly this interrupted my planned day and now I suppose I will have to sit here and avoid doing the many things I planned.  What were they again...?  Ah, sleep, well maybe I will manage that one...

    
Hogmanay is the Edinburgh word for drunken hedonism.  Not that I would ever had anything to do with that.  In my day it meant gathering at a pub, then near midnight being where the  crowds gather, outside Tron Kirk then.  It appears that these days the Edinburgh toon cooncil wish to make it more appealing to foreigners, foreigners with money, so not only is the Hogmanay celebration packed with fireworks and famous bands the previous evening a torch light parade marches through the toon.  I the late 60's they did not allow us burning brands, the constabulary thought it unwise!  
Anyway, some think the present day show is merely to bring in foreign cash, which it is, and preparations for the event take precedent over everything else.  Even to the extent of cutting down the Christmas tree that stands at the top of the 'Mound' and replacing it with an advert for 'Johnnie Walker whisky.'  The tree ought to stand until the 6th of January but clearly money talks and the tree, with the Christmas spirit, goes with it.  A mistake I feel.
I will loiter in my bed tonight, possibly with John Barleycorn to keep me company, possibly asleep. The hedonistic days are long behind me, although at one shilling and eleven pence a pint (two shillings and  penny on Friday and Saturday nights) there was a lot less hedonism than there is today. 

The year is passing, let us go forwards...

  

Monday, 30 December 2019

The Future and the Past


At this time of year there are the annual jobs to be done, clean the sink, throw out rubbish and fill in the birthday dates on the new desk calendar.  At least one of these jobs is now under way.  There was a time when I used to rush around cleaning the house before Hogmany in the usual Scots style until one day I discovered why we did this.  The cleaning of the house was an effort to kick out all the old demons and prevent new ones coming in.  Quite how this worked I never discovered and as it was superstition I decided it was not a requirement, now I don't bother and just do what is actually necessary.  Today I will begin to scribble in the dates, tomorrow I will remember the ones I forgot.   
Another year of joy and happiness nears the end.  I hope some of it went well for you.  The cough has taken almost five months of my life this year, the weight has refused to diminish, the knees refused to improve and my brain is failing in the usual manner.  Otherwise all is normal.  Next year promises more political lies from Boris, the failure of his present ones, and Brexit, if it 'gets done.'
The Far Right are rising throughout the west, only the churches in some areas appear to be aware of this, in the US one magazine has come out against Trump, in Hungary some evangelicals are opposing the leaders policies as ungodly, and in the UK many churches are following passing fashion and keeping quiet.  How sad.  I will prepare for the new year, indeed I might even have a bath, but I see no reason to go mad about it.  Hopefully it will be better than last year.


This is an interesting book, what with the election and all the hassle therein.  
Plutarch, writing in the late 1st century, discusses the famous Greek leaders, Theseus, Solon, Pericles etc, giving us a rather illustrious picture of each.  Considering Pericles was active in the 400's BC he has to read something into much of what primary sources, if any, he finds.  It is bad enough now researching men from the past imagine how little written works Plutarch found, and how biased could those be?  
What I got from the books was how similar to today politics in Greece happened to be.  There was dictatorship, or leadership if you prefer, forms of democracy, and men always willing to fight their way to the top by fair means or foul, just like today.  The only clear difference was that back then a leader had to lead the army in war if he was to be trusted, all had to be Generals of one sort or another, today they fight by stabbing in the back only.  All these men had to lead from the front and once the 'democracy' such as it was, was installed they had to persuade their listeners that their way was correct.  
It is at this point I found myself reading today into Athens.  
The speaker who could, using his friends and many a dirty trick, convince the people that his propaganda was the correct propaganda would win the argument and the people would follow.  So many time however the people followed the leader then changed their minds when things went wrong.  When all was well they voted for him, the black stone against the white in the jar.  If the war, or whatever enterprise they had been called to, failed the people quickly voted once again, often removing, fining or exiling the leader.  Democracy is great, innit?  
Some leaders of course deserved such treatment, Alkibiades a most obvious one.  Boris Johnson claims Pericles as his hero, Alkibiades is nearer the mark.  The people followed him when winning, brought him to trial when losing, praised him, feared him, and eventually when hiding among the Persians his Spartan enemy had him killed.  The Athenian people would have killed him anyway by this time.  Boris needs to be careful...
The people were followers at all times.  They thought they had a democracy, one for the actual 'citizen' that is, not the majority in the state, yet they were led then as we are now.  Today the press lies on behalf of the owner, the media follows who it will, the people obey the message, sometimes willingly, sometimes without knowing it.  Goebels is alive and well today as he was in Greece thousands of years ago, the style never changes.  
I liked this book.  While not a quick read it was interesting, and while Plutarch had little evidence bar others writings the book gives an insight into ancient Athens thinking, leadership and the failure of democracy.  Today whoever owns the media, TV, Radio, paper and social runs the world.     


Sunday, 29 December 2019

Sunday Ponder...


While sitting in church, listening to a man with a tea towel on his head impersonating a shepherd talking about heavenly choirs, I found myself trying to work out what day this was.  Being here on two Sunday's and one Wednesday upset my mind clock.  Was this Wednesday or Sunday?  It was still Christmas, mostly the same people, and similar songs.  
If I felt this way I wonder how the curate felt, he had to arrange all these services, including amending today's as he could not work out how to have an 'all included' service while discussing massacring children, so it was shepherds and angelic choirs instead.  Still it went off all right, all appeared happy, and many still have time off next week.  
On the way home under a sun hidden behind thin clouds I passed many a Christmas decoration.  Several houses had blow up snowmen, penguins and signs saying 'North Pole' and a reindeer or two outside their doors, all lit up at night.  My first thought was 'Penguins do not live at the north Pole.' Maybe I was being pedantic but it appeared a pint worth considering.  If those celebration Christmas, the 'Christ Mass' could get things correct in small areas maybe they might appreciate Christmas for what it actually represents.
OK some monk who's name I forget decided to appropriate the midwinter festival by adding Jesus birth to it, a failed attempt to end hedonism, and in truth Jesus possibly was born in March or April maybe, a time when the shops are less busy, but here we are with Christmas at er, Christmas.
Whatever the date the entry of God into the world, he lowered himself to the position of a child, enduring the world as it is for around 30 years and then after a 'sinless' life laying down his life, being separated from contact with his father for the first and only time in eternity, and suffering physical and spiritual pain all because we are the imperfect ones and required his sacrifice or we are lost forever, whatever the date, he deserves a better remembrance than plastic snowmen and penguins far from home.
Of course, he also deserves a better response from those who claim to know him...

Saturday, 28 December 2019

Friday, 27 December 2019

Slob Friday


The world returned to a semblance of normality today and I hoped to spend much time lying around like a slob.  However first thing I had to stumble down to the sorting office to collect a parcel.  The postwoman will not knock loudly enough on the door and twice I have not heard her knock.  She thinks she is funny that one!  No tip next year!  
Back home I opened the parcel knowing what was inside, my sisters offering of Scots new year food stuffs.  Black Bun, Christmas cake, cream, well Carnation milk for the pudding, and a bag of popcorn.  I am not sure about the heritage of popcorn myself.  Black Bun is however important, and these days very expensive!  I note she forgot the miniature whisky, I may drop a hint re this, subtly...
Now I sit around like a slob, refusing to tidy the mess, clean dishes or make any move that requires effort and answer Christmas emails while stuffing fatness down my throat.  I am convinced this is bad for me, but the sell by date is close and we don't wish to take risks do we...?

 

Thursday, 26 December 2019

Boxing Day


It is always satisfying to find presents that meet our requirements.  Books aplenty will always be acceptable in this house, and one niece is successful in supplying my wants each year that way.  Her method is a simple one, she asks her son what book she ought to buy and he, from a distance, is always on top of the job, never a failure so far.  A book discussing clouds, from the great 'Cloud appreciation Society' is always welcome.  The sarcasm from someone living 400 miles away is not unknown in my family, quite where she gets her ideas I fail to comprehend.  Still it was a worthwhile xmas rummage through rustling paper yesterday, I was very satisfied and pleased all was perfect.

 
Unlike today, where gray clouds cover the land, yesterday began with a walk in bright sunshine to church.  There I was greeted by many women, kissed many times and welcomed by all my ladies.  The fact that I handed out chocolate possibly had something to do with this? Many were missing, some surrounded by grandchildren or families elsewhere, some sick with the cough.  The time together was good, although the tears when the preacher pinched a car from one child was unfortunate, and soon we all moved off to lunch.  It took some time to refuse the many invitations to lunch, or drinks at least, I considered it better to leave families to argue alone rather than join them  I was happier by the time I left than I have been for some time, a good day after all.


So taken was I by Xmas messages I allowed my dinner to burn.  The crispy burnt offering did not taste as I imagined but beggars and choosers meant I ate it anyway.  Later, as the sun dipped down, I wandered the quiet streets snapping shots  of the deep blue sky.  Strange looks from the few out and about were ignored.  


Afterwards, still smiling I ate my Christmas pudding with brandy sauce.  I then ruminated for a while.
I had no choice.  


All in all I had a very happy Christmas day, I hope you had a decent one also.