Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Gordon Brown

Well Tony Blair has gone, taking his red ties with him, and Gordon Brown has at last reached the top, wearing a blue tie! However, while all politicians 'spin' we know that Browns spin will be very much less obvious than Blairs. I look forward to his changes, and changes there will be! Hopefully he will lessen the 'politically correct' influence, and begin the pull out from Iraq. Some foolishly think we can win in Afghanistan, I doubt it myself, and hopefully we can lessen our problems by leaving there also. Gordon Brown will provide a very different product from that which we have become used to. It will upset many, especially those who have got used to the Blair approach. I think myself that we will see a better, more human, Labour party. One concerned more obviously with people, one less concerned with image. His wife also appears keen to remain in the background, and seems unlikely to make to many gaffs similar to those Mrs Blair gave us. This also is good!

Tony Blair himself now goes of to the Middle East as a representative of the major forces in the world. What a good choice! A man detested by many for his support of the Iraq invasion, a man blamed for thousands of deaths. A man seen as a poodle of the US president. Hmmm, wise choice? Certainly he can reach people, certainly he can charm many, on all sides. But the main problem, the Israeli v Palestinian conflict, about that he can do little if the Israelis are not interested.He appears to side with them, this will bring trouble unless his approach is to be more even handed. However, we will see what we will see. I hope it is good.

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Tony Blair : Image Man

Have you become aware of Tony Blairs image recently?
What strikes you most? The arms waving, the halting, sentimental speaking?
Not for me, I see the tie!

When he was elected he drew a vast amount of comment because he wore blue ties. Labour leaders always wore red! he insisted, blunderingly, this was not important, but it was. He was opposing the daft left, and trying to convince the Daily Mail reader that he was an OK guy.

The tie nowadays is red! Bright red!

Could it be the image he desperately wants to leave behind is that of a Labour leader? The tie will not change your image Tony, try honesty instead.

Friday, 22 June 2007

Longest Day

At 11:15 last night I looked to the north west and watched the dark blue sky deepening slowly as the longest day of the year drew to a close. Having risen at 4:25 to watch the bright blue dawn, to listen to the birds as they sang while beginning their daily routine, I enjoyed the best of the best day of the year. Sunshine, blue sky, a walk through the gardens, birds singing, blossom blooming, fragrances everywhere.

This morning I awake to weather warnings regarding possible floods between 10 am and 10 pm, gray clouds, wet roads, and the blackbirds sitting in the trees opposite holding umbrellas while the wood pigeons wear wellies as they seek breakfast in the park.

The nights are drawing in...........

Monday, 18 June 2007

Field Marshall Lord Alanbrooke : War Diaries 1939-45

Just finished reading this excellent book, 'War Diaries 1939-1945: Field Marshal Lord Alanbrooke.' Brilliant insight into the running of the Second World War. I came across it on the bookstall at the market and decided that as I had bought it I might as well read the thing. It has been lying on the shelf, looking good, but unread, for a while now. I found that, in spite of the weight of the thing, it was 'unputdownable!'

It is the habit after a war for those involved to race to publish their memoirs. The clatter of typewriters , in the years following the war, drowned out the traffic on many a street. Army commanders, Field Marshall's, politicians, and anybody who thought they had something to say, wanted to 'put the record straight.' Or at least, as straight as made them look good anyhow! The Prime Minister during the war, the great Winston Churchill, made sure that the record of the war would be made perfectly straight, he wrote it himself! His collected volumes sold well, and so they should. However, his ability to make himself the leading man of the war did cause some to wonder about facts. Especially when they were either put down, or just missed out.
Alanbrooke clearly felt betrayed by the man he had spent several years arguing with. He therefore obtained the help of Arthur Bryant to produce his diaries for him. This was accomplished in the fifties, a time when all the major players were still very active. Bryant had managed to 'massage' certain parts of the diaries, but some folks were somewhat upset at what they discovered. Churchill after all had not won the war by himself!

In 2001 this version of the diaries became available. At the beginning of the war Alanbrooke decided to write a diary as though he was talking to his wife. To talk to the book as though to her. A way of keeping in touch with home, and with himself. In it he revealed his deepest thoughts, and some of them were brutally honest.

The diary details his time in France with the BEF, the attack by the Germans and the escape from Dunkirk. His time organising the defence of the nation and for the most part his promotion to Chief of the Imperial General Staff, the top job! Instead of leading an army in the field, which is what he yearned to do, he had to lead from the top, and deal with Churchill. The diaries detail his daily routine, the late nights, usually because Churchill waffled as opposed to getting somewhere. The arguments that grew in time as both men felt the stress of responsibility, sickness and time getting to them.

By the end of the war Alanbrook was just glad it was over. Glad not to have to deal with Churchill and as a reward, first made a Baron, which cost him £200 he could not afford, and then he runs off to try and make some money. One thing we learn is that the few of the leading soldiers of the day had cash! their financial reward was pitiful, because of Winston's desire to be seen as top man, and most went in to print for the money, as well as the record. We see great men being great, but allowing personality and self service spoil the show. We see the weaknesses as well as the huge amount of work endured. We note the vast distances, of in dangerous areas, that were travelled. But underlying it all is the desperate fear that the war could be lost, and that the decisions taken in late night sessions could be fatal. The pressures of war are clearly seen in these short diary entries. The fears, the courage, the endurance, and finally, the victory!

One thing is for sure, Winston Churchill was a great man, and without him the nation was lost.
But Field Marshall the Viscount Alanbrooke was the man who actually, won the war!

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Resurfacing Stane Street

For several nights we endured the dubious pleasure of the men resurfacing Stane Street outside. The road runs from Colchester to St Albans, or at least it did in Roman times, it may still do so. This work has been a desperate need for some time, and at last it has been accomplished. Naturally, being a busy road it had to be done at night, late at night! There is nothing better than reading your book while listening to a dirty great machine scraping of the top layer of the road - right outside your window! Not only do we have the machine, the flashing orange lights, the lorry in front catching the waste, the noise but we also have the shouts, whistles and the constant beeping of the trucks going backwards. But happily only for an hour or two - or three! Now I am not one to complain, and certainly not to a group of blokes as big as this lot outside, so I accepted this as just one of the occasions you just have to suffer for the good of the town.

Naturally we had two suffer for two more nights while they actually laid the new surface. More revving of engines, more beeping, once more the sweeper vehicle went back and forth, and back and forth, again the flashing lights, again the scraping of shovels. Generously the workers stopped right outside my window after the first night, so they had to come back and work cheerily as I struggled to finish the book. How lucky am I? I felt so sorry for these men earning £500 a night for keeping the are awake, especially when the rain teemed down on the second night. My sympathy was something I shared with the mirror in the morning as I examined my red eyes. How we laughed! Still it is done now. The surface is flat and even, the only thing missing is road markings. There were far too many dangerous areas before, dangerous to those of us on bikes, and they have been put right. This is good and the surface will probably last for ten years before disintegrating totally.

These men are not the first to repair Stane Street. This road runs in an almost straight line from Colchester and was possible begun by the Romans, certainly made into a solid surface by them, although it may well have existed for many years before their arrival. How many feet have slogged along the road? Troops marching from Colchester would stop here for the night. Fifteen miles is a good days march in normal circumstances, for me anyway. The road connected not just with St Albans but crossed the road from London to Norfolk and the road north further along. If desired the Romans could march from Colchester along this road and reach any place in the Island in relatively short time. The soldiers on their march could be sure of the reliability of the road, as they were the ones who made them. One way of keeping the men busy in quiet times and developing the land also. I wonder if the legions worked at night, and if they made as much noise when doing so? Somehow I suspect they were little different.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Authors Pictures on Blogs

Why do folk insist on putting their picture on a blog? Now I am not talking here of the postage stamp size pic at the top. These are usually too small to take note off and usually inoffensive. What I mean are those photographs some insist on placing right in your face. Usually these are too large, and worse, too ugly! Most often it is some male attempting to convince us he is handsome, or macho, or has some deep personality trait he wishes to show has damaged his outlook on life! There can be no doubt such pictures are a mistake.

Can I suggest to those tempted to post such frightful representations of themselves that they defer the idea until consultation with an adult has taken place.? What to you appears 'cool,' or even 'macho' appears to normal folk like an extra from a Hollywood disaster film has discovered the gift of writing. The image, so deeply felt, that you endeavour to project does not arrive at the target as intended! If you must post such close ups, or even head and shoulders shots, either don't do it, or, em...don't do it!


Monday, 11 June 2007

Sarah Called

She called to say that claiming women nag is a stereotype! She went on to indicate this should not happen! Apparently I have no right to say such things. She was so upset she actually created a blog just so she could log on and tell me. Sweet eh?

Unfortunately, there was a slight problem in that she spoiled her argument somewhat by adding "Women only nag when they have to!" See the problem? Bet she doesn't, even yet. The thing is dear, who gives you the right to nag 'when you have to?' Who decides 'when?' I know who does, you do! Get it now?

No, didn't think you would. You see, the thing is, when your mind is so self absorbed, and you care only for your opinions, you miss out so much. The main problem wee girls have today is the mouth opens long before the brain, and all too often that does not arrive. I suggest you put aside the girlie magazines (no dear, not that type) and go out into the real world with your mind open and your mouth closed. Ask grown up women what life is like, preferably not middle class ones, they are a wee bit like you see. Learn about things, get out of the rut you are in. Make friends.

Oh, and don't watch 'Eastenders.' It makes you think mouthing off is clever. Try smiling instead.

Sunday, 10 June 2007


Where do virii come from? Why do they exist? Why do they come to me? How I suffer! Never complaining, always cheerful, just getting on with it. Aye right!
I am sick of this one, and it seems to go on for ever.

But where do they come from? Why do they exist?
Those little bugs, so complicated, so cleverly designed, cause so much damage. Look at the cold or flu virus, tremendously well made. The picture of the cold virus shows how complicated it is.

Now if God created them, what purpose do they serve? If they evolved, to what end? I just do not understand their purpose, but I know the damage they cause. if there is one thing I would like to do it is either lose them all, or adapt them to some useful purpose.

Thursday, 7 June 2007

The Madeleine McCann Saga

This saga continues. Today the Daily Mirror tells us a German reporter asked the McCanns if they were involved in the disappearance? The paper implies we ought to be shocked by such a direct, and obvious, question. The Mirror forgets to point out that an ex Mirror reporter now works as PR for the McCanns. But surely such questions ought to be asked of a couple who seem to think we ought to drop everything and run after the child they have lost? maybe if we asked direct and probing questions we could get further than jumping on the bandwagon search they have instituted with their media savvy friends and family.

From the picture of the premises it seems a long way to go from young children. What if the kid choked or fell out the bed and broke something? What if fire broke out? How long does it take for a fire to fill an average room? Two minutes? Three minutes? It is hard enough to get out of a house on fire normally, let alone when you are dining at such a distance.

Are we being too hard on the parents? I suppose if they admitted they were at fault, and then sought the return of the kid in the same way others do, then we would emphasise their mistake, and let it rest with the proper authorities. However, when they demand we run after their bandwagon. When football players are blackmailed into wearing yellow armbands, and cup finals are shown videos of the child to keep the campaign public, then I think we are right to ask questions. We are now part of the bandwagon, and we must know the facts. I am as yet unconvinced that the full facts have been revealed.

Normally a mother in such circumstances would generate sympathy, unless she had run down to the shops for a bottle of beer and lived in a rough area of course. Then the Mirror and Sun would call her heartless and demand action! Junkies would naturally become outcasts, but not these two it seems.

The child herself? If, and I mean, 'if,' she has genuinely been taken by the bad guys then I fear she will never return. She could be anywhere. paedophiles may have taken and abused her, possibly even raping her to death, or maybe killed her to dispose of the evidence. It is possible she is alive, confused, and hopefully, being cared for. best not to even consider what kind of life she may end up with.

I would appreciate if the British police gave some understanding of their thought on this case. Somehow, I do not see them as being as understanding as the tabloid press. A healthy policeman's cynicism surely would have many questions requiring an answer.

Monday, 4 June 2007


Isn't education great!

I love it! In fact I love it so much I have several books lying here, each one packed with subjects that will broaden my outlook, help me understand the world and its many ways, and, possibly, make me a better person. I can see them all over the house. They lie on the couch, pile high in the bathroom (the best place to sit and read I find), take up space on the bed and of course surround me on my desk. There are big thick tomes full of academic ponderings, thin easy to read types, books that will reward honest endeavour, books that require cassette tapes to accompany them to ensure you get the sounds right, books that help explain what other books are blethering on about - dictionaries and word guide books for instance. Some books teach much about history, some languages, others practical skills like photography, some how to communicate better. In fact, if you make the effort, it is possible to find books that educate on every subject under the sun, and beyond that even! Fantastic! What a world of learning we have at our fingertips.

Of course I sit here now staring into space and asking myself, if these books are so effective, and if education is so great, why have I not opened them? I'll let you know after I've had another coffee and a game or two of 'Tetris.'

Sunday, 3 June 2007

Summer Birdsong

Cycled out into the mist this morning. Quite thick in places but soon burning up as the sun decided to rise. Came along a pathway lined with aged trees and bushes on one side. I had to pullover and sit there listening to the birds singing. A thrush was high in a tree overhead and difficult to spot. However I found him and watched him call for a while. Was he calling his mate, or maybe hers? He was too big to be new born anyhow. Flapping among the branches indicated a wood pigeon chasing off a rival, leaves and feathers falling as he made off over the school field. One of the birds then set to 'cooing,' possibly praising her brave mate. A young tit appeared, nipping quickly among the branches, feeding on whatever he found. A blackbirds sang high in another tree, possibly they are old oak trees but I am not sure. In and out of the branches birds flitted singing brightly, while in the distance the crows cawed to one another raucously.

A wonderful enjoyable short period of time. Listening to birdsong and watching them go about their business. If it becomes possible to add to these sights and sounds the fragrance of newly cut grass and of a wide variety of flowers and blossom, it is possible to imagine in some small way what heaven must be like. There will be no bad smell there, no rotten decomposing matter, just the best that we have here magnified multitudinous - if that is a word! Sunshine, birdsong, fragrance, how I love these small things. This year more than I have ever done, I appreciate them.

Saturday, 2 June 2007

Summer Weather

The thing that pleases me about summer weather is walking through the Public Gardens and enjoying the trees, plants and shrubs. I don't think I have enjoyed it so much before. Maybe because I was always working and on my day off either too busy or too knackered! However, sitting there reading my book, listening to the birds singing and watching the never ceasing work rate of the squirrels is strangely enjoyable. That is the third time I have used 'enjoy.' The fact that the sun is warm, when it gets through the clouds that is, does help.

However, when it rains, I do not find myself any less happy, mostly because I am inside and not out there being soaked through. The English are a funny lot in summer rain. For two days it pelted down. The park opposite was an inch deep in places, yet some Englishmen were wandering around in T-shirts, and two that I saw were wearing shorts! Now if it had been warm at the time I would have understood, but it was cold, very cold. Still these chumps wandered about as though in Majorca. Being daft comes naturally to the English.

I wonder if Blackberry Juniper would allow her man such an experience? I somehow doubt it, being quite a wise, I mean, caring woman.