Friday, 29 February 2008

Feel Fat Ladies?

Bet you don't now!

I keep saying it, we are too fat as a nation! I am striving to lose weight, eating better and walking more, cycling and generally going through a 'get fitter' regime.

I seem to have lost interest in other things mind....

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Indian Christians

In 1947 when India and Pakistan freed themselves from the English yoke, India declared itself a 'Secular State.' This was in contrast to Pakistan a nation created as a Muslim nation.
With a large minority of Muslims, Buddhists and Christians and numbers of other smaller faiths found in the huge land mass that is India it is easy to understand why 'secular' was stressed at the nations relaunch.

However, in spite of the good intentions at the beginning India is dominated by Hinduism. This is a faith that is also representative of a nation also in that Indians are a proud people with an ancient history and proud heritage, therefore there is resistance to religions such as Islam and Christianity as 'foreign' incomers. Many in the UK would understand their feeling here, but it is doubtful those same people would feel any guilt for the Empire taking others land!

Christians have for many years operated in the Indian subcontinent, in many places they have established schools and medical centres and churches have been established in the major towns and cities for many years. However persecution has grown apace, especially in recent times, and even more so, in my opinion, for home grown Christians. Churches have been attacked and vandalised, even burnt down, individuals face persecution and churches, especially in village locations, face intimidation and assault, some people have even been killed on occasion. The local State and city authorities, the police included, instead of supporting the 'Secular State' are very often the ones behind the persecution of Christians. Personal gain, position or bribes are all involved. This leads to difficult times for those who are charged with declaring the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Two friends, Yash and Monica, have for some time been working in their homeland, alongside several friends they have seen several thousand people come to a knowledge of Christ Jesus and have been busy teaching and building these people into a new life. On many occasions they have been obstructed by the local police and now face trumped up charges, the intention being to take them away from their duty to God and kill their churches.

Yash has recently been arrested and jailed awaiting trial. With a blanket and a concrete floor for a bed he has relied on his God to see him through while Monica and others struggled to obtain bail. This was eventually obtained, with great difficulty and at much cost, yet both face the danger of trial and subsequent jail terms. This for preaching the Good News! The experience of an Indian jail is something I hope we never endure and Yash has discovered his friend Jesus did not leave him while there, but I hope we can pray he, and Monica, do not have to endure this again.

The experience of suffering is not new for Indian Christians, the knowledge of what they endure can lift us, certainly me, out of self pity! Pray for them.

Friday, 22 February 2008

I've Done it Again!

I've done it again!
After climbing out of my bed, washing my face and this time remembering to take my glasses of first I wandered through to the west wing and made what passes for a 'healthy breakfast.'

After this mound of 'Bran Flakes' covered in raisins and oats I dumped the bowl alongside the rest of the weeks used crockery and made the tea. The kettle (£4:98 from Tesco) came shaking and steaming to the boil, I poured the water over the milk and tea bag (Half price Somerfields) and brewed the concoction with the aid of a dirty spoon (Charity shop 5p). Job done, as well as possible, I returned to my post at the broken laptop (Crooked second hand dealership) and placed the mug in its rightful place.

It was then I realised I had done it again!
I already had a mug of stewed tea sitting there quietly awaiting me spilling it all down my ageing fleece! What is going on in this mind? I forget things like this all the time. I would say it is the beginning of Althez...altezhi, altzleh..going gaga if it was not for the fact this habit has been with me always. I am scared to open that storage cupboard now, just in case a body falls out, someone I forgot I accidentally locked in. Which reminds me, there was a thump thump sound a wee while back that I don't hear nowadays.......

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Victory V

I handed a spool into the chemist to have it developed today and saw these sweets on the counter. I have not seen these around for years and here they were in probably the only shop to stock them these days.

As a kid we were given these occasionally and suffered the heat they gave off with good grace and much noise! I found today that they were not anything like as strong as I remember and I wonder if that is just because I am somewhat larger today or if they have altered the recipe in some way.

It would not be the first time an alteration has taken place, in the nineteenth century the sweets contained chloroform! It was not possible to buy more than a quarter pound of them because people took too many and passed out! While this is no longer the case many folks found them far too strong for their taste and only 'real men' ever ate more than one at a time. Of course they suffered and folks kept well away from their breath for good reason!

They are widely available online from The Sugar Boy and elsewhere.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

This is Brilliant!

The men who made this deserve all the credit they get!
This is brilliant.
Their page is found HERE.

Public Gardens

After visiting the dole office to discuss my plight with the pretty young lass from the 'Workstep' programme, I wandered around town allowing my stiff knees to stretch themselves. The excitement of walking through this centre has long since worn of for me, but it passes the time. I drifted towards the public gardens. To my little mind just sitting there, under a blue sky preferably, listening to the birds and watching the flora and fauna around me is very enjoyable. How come I didn't notice this before? A robin fluffed himself up into a ball and sat not far from me singing his lovely wee song. Ignoring me he called out to his mate, or someone else's mate Robins being what they are, or maybe he was just warning others off his patch. I don't know which it was but it sounded fabulous! Such a small bird yet his song rang loud and must have been audible for some distance, especially as the traffic noise is suppressed by the trees around us. A simple joy that makes me long for Spring to appear.

Monday, 18 February 2008


While wondering what illegal drug some young flash Harry in the advertising office had been shoving up his nose I watched his latest car ad on the telly. Car ads, as you know, tell you nothing about the car, but lots about the small willy possessed by the man who is looking to buy! The car is hoisted on balloons, or melts like mercury across the screen, maybe it drives across the Nevada desert and is driven by handsome (white) well heeled males who are going places. Soon hopefully! The cretin, pushing his baseball cap to the back of his head and tossing a banana peel out the window, has watched those ads and now while trudging along in the fog at six miles an hour, alongside the many similar oiks, dreams he is in Nevada somewhere. The advert has satisfied his mind and taken from him all reality.

It was ever thus! Adverts are not there to tell the truth, they of course only want to sell! This Guinness one certainly did, the slogan supposedly coming from a man who answered the question,"Why do you drink it?" With the answer "Because it is good for me." His wife, seeing him carried home and dumped in the front garden, had other ideas I bet, especially when his liver gave out and he passed on leaving her "£7.10 shillings in insurance money. (If that happened of course....) In recent years the ad was dropped because the law was tightened up, and not before time, to end much of the deceit practised on us by advertisers. There being no proof that Guinness actually is 'Good for you,' the slogan was dropped. A shame as no-one really believed that anyway. Well apart form several million Irish drunks of course. Today Guinness ads make no sense whatsoever as they strive to replace the old generation of drinkers with a new younger set more used to the feeble lager and invented alcohol products designed by Mammon loving brewers and sought after by dunderheads.

I like the old poster adverts, they always appear to me to be better drawn and more enticing, even if I remain unconvinced about spending my coppers on the product offered. We think we are not motivated by them yet, years later, we remember the slogans or tunes that accompany telly adverts, and the posters remain deep within our memory.

"You'll wonder where the yellow went,
when you brush your teeth with 'Pepsodent."

I often wondered where 'Pepsodent' went myself. Nobody as ever told me. The sound has remained with me, and we did buy the stuff when I was still finding difficulty in beginning the joined up writing at school. Mind you I was 34 by then.

The change in the law, I think I am right in saying it was the '196o Trades Description Act,' but I am willing to be proved wrong stopped many a false advert from ripping of the gullible. One trick was to advertise "Cup Final Seats," in the classifieds, and folk would send of their ten shillings expecting a ticket for the Cup Final, a great day out for the Englishman in the fifties. They would be somewhat nonplussed to receive a small stool with "Cup Final," written on it. But it was a 'Cup Final Seat'! For a year or two I worked (Ha!) for the Advertising Standards Authority, an organisation that to some extent reduces the misleading nature of many adverts but is in truth is a waste of space. Complaints arrive once the ads have appeared, and by the time an adjudication is arrived at the ad has run its course, profits have been made and a mere warning is issued. In theory individuals can be barred from placing adverts but the organisation does not go to court to fight such people, leaving that up to the Trading Standards folk, so it is in many respects useless! Most of the girls were nice mind you, young, attractive and intelligent, just how I like them! However, possibly a point connected to their intelligence, they did not like me as I am! How insensitive of them I say. I do dislike it when young lassies refer to me as 'Dad' or 'Uncle!'

Friday, 15 February 2008

Now What?

I empathise with whoever produced this poster. The fact that it has the address '' on the bottom helps to gladden my heart! Where better to go when life treats you in its own merry way?

Consider the situation.
The washing machine does not work,
The VCR only plays on 'fast forward,'
The PC died suddenly,
This laptop's screen failed, the dial up modem fails and the CD fails,
The stereo does not obey,
The Freeview often stops for no reason, and only by swapping to another (identical) remote will it work,
The aerial is inadequate and the picture shakes every time a car passes, TV programmes are dumbed down garbage and there is nothing to watch,
Radio programmes are slightly better but remain poor nevertheless,
The press is full of half truths and lies, and rarely informative,
Now the printer will not work because I need to reinstall the disk,
This cannot be done as the CD does not work as I deleted the relevant folder by mistake,
Therefore I cannot enquire about work as I cannot print the letters and CV's,
My cash flow has reached a balanced level - nil,
Now someone has sent me a leaflet saying 'Mothers Day approaches and suggesting I spend masses of cash with them so I can 'Spoil my mum,' I know what I'd like to spoil,
The Heart of Midlothian have had a rotten season - even for us,
Work is not seen, age and dodgy knees and professional idiocy hinder - but not in that order,
The police have, once again, informed me I cannot go around beheading women in Tesco's even if they take all day to pack their bags, and I cannot exterminate the adolescents who gather over the road with rat poison either, add to that their latest visit re the 'clocking' of the cheery evangelist who knocked on my door this morning and foolishly said 'Rejoice' and you understand my mood has not lightened any,
Neither has looking in the mirror and seeing my reflection still there,
Memories of the failures keep returning, and there is a lot,
The virii that has plagued me since 1987 keeps returning and interrupting my life, 'Who will rid me of this turbulent bug?'

Now what? I cannot tell you how excited I am about the future.
How much is a paupers grave anyway?
Rejoice? All I need now is for this machine to fa

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Three Men in a Boat

This slim little volume, published in 1889, has become an eternal favourite. No wonder! The gentle humour, the descriptions of the river and the history that lies all around it, the impression of middle class leisure and incidental attitudes of the day combine with our identification of the people that pass by. They could be ourselves! Jerome K Jerome writes not about class, and does not spend much time on the major social ills of the day directly, instead he writes about the trip and the people that come to his mind. That gives us an echo of the world of the day.

Jerome is a kindly human, his humour is gentle and boating down the Thames was an occupation many enjoyed. Therefore the early editions must have found many a man identifying with the situations retold here. How many had struggled to erect the canvas, how many found difficulty with the passing steamboats, and then found the skiffs troublesome when they were using such boats? The author actually wanted to write a topographical book concerning the Thames I have been informed, and ended up with a classic instead! He does give information on the world around and his meditations reveal a thoughtful and intelligent man.

For those who wish a light comic trip down the Thames this is a must. Many have, like myself, ached to travel up the Thames in the sun, stopping on the bank to camp, and several TV programmes and the odd film or two have been made by those inspired this way. Just how many books I cannot say. However there is a website dedicated to the author and I recommend a browse for more info, and even pictures of the three hero's of the trip that inspired the book themselves. The Jerome K Jerome Society

Valentines Day

For all the attractive young lassies who pass by (on their way to another Blog) this small bouquet of roses are for you. They would be real ones but you failed to leave your address - you left just a glass slipper......

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Old Joke

An elderly man lay dying in his bed. While suffering the agonies of impending death, he suddenly smelled the aroma of his favourite scones wafting up the stairs.

He gathered his remaining strength, and lifted himself from the bed. Leaning on the wall, he slowly made his way out of the bedroom, and with even greater effort, gripping the railing with both hands, he crawled downstairs.

With laboured breath, he leaned against the door-frame, gazing into the kitchen. Were it not for death's agony, he would have thought himself already in heaven, for there, spread out upon the kitchen table were literally hundreds of his favourite scones.

Was it heaven? Or was it one final act of love from his devoted Irish wife of sixty years, seeing to it that he left this world a happy man?

Mustering one great final effort, he threw himself towards the table, landing on his knees in rumpled posture. His aged and withered hand trembled towards a scone at the edge of the table, when it was suddenly smacked by his wife with a wooden spoon.

'Hands off' she said,'they're for the funeral.'

Healthy Eating

I am all for healthy eating! Being, what my doctor described as a "Fat slob," I understand the need for care in the diet. However this word crossed my path a short time ago, 'Tunnocks Caramel Log!' Immediately I was transported back to my youth a few short years ago. The very good remembrance of caramel logs being stuffed in my fat gob has never left me. Tunnocks, as some may well know, are responsible for more tooth decay in Scotland than any other company! Their wide range of products are chomped on worldwide, and many a dentist has grown rich on his patients love of the Uddingston giants.

All Scots kids develop the sweet tooth by beginning on a Tea Cake or two as a treat, brought out when visitors are in, and progress onto Caramel Wafers and Caramel logs, often suffering the Snowballs on they way. Oh let me suffer mother!!!! It is possible to buy these lovely products worldwide, especially now the internet has changed shopping habits. Several companies at home and abroad make vast profits from the exiled Scots nostalgia for trips to the NHS dentist. I remember the needle being inserted while the dentist muttered, "This will not hurt a bit, be a good soldier." I assure you he lied! Tunnocks were of course not the only people to cash in on the sweet tooth. I once took to a cheap chewing gum and happily received seven fillings because of this disgusting habit! Now all chewing gums and many soft drinks, use Aspartame, a substance with a dubious record, instead of sugar, the products often advertised as 'sugar free.'
I recommend a web search on this product as it is used by so many products and little information regarding the possible problems comes to our attention. I would rather have sugar myself!

The Scots childs love of sweets and the adults love of drink and chips helps make the nation one of the unhealthiest in the world! I suppose having such dreich weather does not help. The idea of cold mackerel and salad while the dark gray clouds unleash heavy drops of cold rain rarely appeals as much as spam fritters and chips, with a whisky follower! Not that I would know of course, I am only going of what others tell me here. However when I left Edinburgh's gray skies in 1975, the sun shone that day and I, grasping the money collected for me by my work colleagues - enough for a one way trip to London - I left a society in which red and green peppers were considered 'exotic. Such things really were unknown outside of the middle class shops we could never afford (start playing the violins now). Until the Patels came flooding in from West Africa in 1973 Edinburgh shops still worked a simple routine. They opened at 9, closed from 12 - 1 and closed sharp at 5 p.m. like it or not! The Pakis, as we then called them (well except Mr Khayam, "I'm an Indian, not a bloody Paki!" and being 6'2" and a very good customer in the cash & carry I worked, we submitted to his will) opened their shops from 8 a.m. and did not close till 6 in the evening, one staying open until 7. This small change in the approach revolutionised Edinburgh and it has never looked back. We owe such Pa...Asians, a great deal! However, in spite of tropical fruits and veg, Scots are just as fat as everybody else.

But while I agree with a better 'Veg filled' diet, honest, I have to say that as long as Caramel Logs exist, I will want to eat them! Bring them on I say!

Monday, 11 February 2008


Today I had the first interview since being banished by the doctor all that time ago. I had expected to get a bus there but at almost the last minute I decided to cycle! Just as I was looking at the 'Google Maps' and considering my options it came upon my twisted mind that it was in cycling distance. As I have done little cycling for one reason or another I thought this a brave decision. However the sun shining in the cold air put the idea into my mind so off I went along the old railway line called the 'Flitch Way.'

The sun shone and with what wind there was behind me I made good time up the gradient. This is a great way to use disused railway lines. As I passed by starlings and robins ducked in and out of the bushes. Squirrels scoured for sustenance and happy dogs, tails wagging, led their owners along at pace. In the dip to my left the mist was slowly being burnt away as the sun warmed the land, a wonderful sight, but not maybe for those on the bypass passing through it! I had left far too early as I was unsure how long the trip would take in my unfit state, however I arrived just over half an hour after starting off!

I had brought my camera and wandered along the side roads looking for foto opportunities. Few really, although I came across a very old and substantial house that was almost overgrown with vegetation. In good condition it would cost around £700,000 at least yet here it was, two abandoned cars in what once was a drive, decaying and surely unsafe! What a waste, and the design on the chimney made me wonder just how old the house was, certainly nineteenth century. The idea of living out here with open fields in front and behind was enticing - if you have money and vehicles. Not so sure I would want to live there during bad weather of course.

The actual interview went well. The company looked well run and the despatch department was very well set up indeed. I was won over by its organisation and efficiency, and the men in charge were clearly able. However, the knee speaks louder than cash and well run organisation.
This work would mean being on my feet all day, every day! Add to that the up and down nature of obtaining goods to despatch, organising the store, parking the goods while awaiting UPS or whoever, this would all add up and I reckon it would be too much. If postman's work was too much then so, sadly will this be. I'm much tempted to this job, but with the knee and the lack of desire to lift and carry just as much as I did when I was in my twenties I am afraid this is a dead end. This of course does not mean they wanted me! There are several others to be interviewed, but I think they will have to do it, both for me and the companies sake. At least it was an energetic day out in the country, and my bones are even now indicating just how unusual it is for me to cycle that far. Ah well, as I creak and groan I will once more look up the 'situations vacant.'

Time to burst into tears again!

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Crossing the Forth Bridge

Done this many times, but not from the front of a cab! Most enjoyable!
I found it here!

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Steam Trains

Isn't this a great picture? What's not to love about a great big steam engine storming up the tracks belching out great clouds of steam? Great isn't it!

I reckon this train is running from Fort William to Mallaig, a journey I went on some years ago. Wonderful experience hanging out the window attempting to take pictures. Not so wonderful taking the bits of soot out of the eye mind you! Once that stuff gets into your hair it hangs about for days. Enjoyable however. There was nothing but a little fishing harbour at journeys end, and a great view of Skye and other islands. Great place when the sun shines.

The steam train was one of the great events of the nineteenth century, changing indeed shaping, the face of the United Kingdom! The engineers like Stephenson had no problems wit demolishing castles at places like Newcastle and Berwick. They were in the way so were removed! Bridges and viaducts were built and cuttings and high banks were made by pick and shovel and hard, hard graft, mostly fuelled by beer as the water was often unhealthy! Admittedly many dug into the earth and buried themselves alive, or fell of viaducts and killed themselves, over 90 I believe died building the Forth Bridge alone. Health and Safety today is run by little corporals with small willies, in the nineteenth century such folks were also left in the foundations of the line! We have much to learn I think.... Gangs of Navvies roamed the land, scaring the locals, working for their favoured engineers. Stephenson, Brunel or Peto laid out the line and hired the men to bring the plans to life, Peto in particular was popular with his men, paying them weekly, not cheating them regarding food supplies, and giving them water and oats instead of beer, but they loved him nevertheless.

Life was altered by the train. Fresh food was brought quickly to town centres from the farms, seeds brought from all parts of the world escaped from botanic gardens and caught up in train wheels travelled the length of the land, people took advantage of the new day holidays to reach the coast bringing places like Blackpool into existence, clocks which were set at local time were synchronised business flourished in the days 'Britain (the racists called it England) was the workshop of the world.' We would be a different world if the train had not been developed. The engineers went world wide taking their navvies with them. Argentina had the railway built for free, but the railway was given the land alongside, so towns were developed and the masses of cattle transported creating wealth for many. Now it is possible to find many called, O'Higgins or even Pedro Manuel McCallister playing football in many parts of South America,a game brought along with the railways. Argentina herself is a very 'British' Latin American land - as if I would know from here! The railway changed the world however the much more effective diesel and electric trains will never have the romance and affection a thundering, whistling steam engine creates in those who come across them today. How I miss them!

Friday, 8 February 2008

The Archbishop of Canterbury

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has entered the Muslim debate in a big way. I wonder if he realised just how much antipathy would be engendered by his comments. Now I am sure he considered carefully what he had to say, he is after all an academic, but did he comprehend the emotions that would be stirred here? The very idea that Islamic Sharia law could be tolerated in some aspects in the UK in similar fashion to some Jewish or Hindu beliefs was possibly naive at best! It is only a few days ago the Bishop of Rochester was warning of 'No-Go' areas in Britain, and it leaves me wondering about the relationship between these two men. Surely the Bishop, born and raised in Pakistan, with Muslim relatives and a 'hands on' experience of the variety of Islamic teaching, would be a man Canterbury ought to learn from?

There is no doubt a radical Islam is at large in the world. Based not on one man but on a belief, with many variations, but which is looking for a showdown between what it recognises as 'two civilisations!' This will lead to much trouble in the days ahead, and some might be tempted to read into this an 'Armageddon' situation, especially Americans! While they might be right, and the end will certainly centre on the middle east, unless we have insight into this will cannot be sure.

The Archbishop, and Bishop remember just means 'overseer' or as some would put it, 'gaffer,' the Archbishop is truly attempting to find common ground and a happy result for all people. This is to be commended but does also appear to misunderstand the outcry from the tabloid media and of course plays into the hands of the 'Little Englander!.' Many will see this as allowing 'Johnny Foreigner' to dictate to the natives. To them this was fine in the nineteenth century when we told them what to do but it is not acceptable when they come over here and dictate to us! I mean it's just not right is it? Sharia Law would in my understanding be rejected by most Muslims in this country, and those who demand it will use this to push for more influence, not for Islam, but for themselves, and their cause. There are many elements of Islam that can happily continue in the UK, in fact the first Mosque was built in Woking in 1889 and has been so unobtrusive few know about it! It is therefore possible for Islam to survive in the UK with little difficulty. The problem is that amongst the two million Muslims a few radicals have influenced the younger generation, using the political ineptness of the West's handling of the middle east over the past hundred years, and engendered a possible terrorist force that, while inept, constitutes a very real danger to the nation.

We are in very real danger of polarising the UK into them and us. Unless common sense policies are introduced soon the fallout may be worse than an attack on an airport or a bomb here and there. For too long the left, in particular the Labour party, have indulged the immigrant causing a backlash from the indigenous white population who have been branded racist simply for objecting. Too often the home grown native is considered less than the incomer, and now we reap the reward, but possibly too late. Those from South Eastern Europe obtain homes before young married blacks and Asians and then who do we call racist? Problems aplenty in Luton alone through this.

It is time we considered people as 'people' and not 'colours,' 'races,' or' sex,' (sorry the left prefer to call it 'Gender' for some reason) or anything else. Better immigration controls, fairer housing policy as opposed 'Daily Mail' motivated ones, and a removal of all organisations concerned with 'equality,' as they encourage difference not 'equality.' Allowing Sharia Law would of course increase alienation and separation, allowing the radicals more opportunity, not less. Creating work for the young in Bradford and Oldham would lessen the appeal for many in those areas, and in my view removing non 'British' items such as veils would lead to a much more cohesive structure. Rochester may well be right, there are Muslim 'No - go areas, just as there are similar areas caused by gang warfare and religious divides, his Archbishop needs to listen to him, and possibly read his bible again as he appears to have forgotten what is written there, and take heed.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Him and Her

Him and her have been my 'spiritual mentors' for a wee while now, since about 1971. They, and theirs, have been like a second family to me, and in turn I have been like a pain in the backside to them - constantly! I know this because in many different ways they have commented on it - and quite often at that. They now live by the seaside, surrounded by friends and running a huge successful church. This church, as you would expect, is full of loving kind people, who never argue, always consider the other better than themselves, submit to church authority, and generously give of their vast wealth.

There may be one or two slight exaggerations in that statement!

Now there has only been one wee problem with this couple - her! When he and I have sat down together to do something important, like watch Scotland beat England at rugby, she will interfere by asking questions. "Why has he fallen down?" Or, "Why not wait till the rain stops?" And so on. She has been very good in the kitchen - it is after all what women were made for, but never on any account ask her to buy bread or sandals. I may return to this point one day, but only when he is unlikely to be reading here. In between asking all the usual needless questions women her age ask, like "What do you eat?" (answer, "Food!") and showing photographs she has taken in one of their many jaunts abroad (always fotos of people you will never, ever meet, and always with full description of where they live, what they do and what their shoe size is), on top off all this she has decided to use up as much N.H.S. resources as she can. This is not really because she is sick, but being from Aberdeen and earning just enough to pay National Insurance she wants her monies worth!

So to this end she has decided to have a serious problem in the kidneys, and I think this offal! This means she will soon have to learn how to inject some horrid stuff into herself, I am looking away now, several times. The NHS folk appear slow in informing the woman as to when this will start, and it needs to begin soon, so can I ask you believers out there, yes you, if you could offer up a word to for her? We don't ask for her to jump the queue, we just want to know when and where etc. Without this she is devoid of energy, although she can still talk, and finds it frustrating when she cannot harangue the grandchildren in the accustomed manner.

This appeal is not made on behalf of the lass herself, but for him. Just so he does not have to listen to her moaning on and on about it. The poor man is worn out! Thanks.

Douglas Haig : War Diaries and Letters. 1914-18

Douglas Haig was given the unenviable task of winning a major war. Haig was a career soldier who through hard work had reached the rank of General and was given charge of one of the two army Corps who left for France in August 1914. Soon after the beginning of his adventure he began to keep a diary, one way to keep in touch with his wife,to whom he sent the manuscript, and an opportunity to express his thoughts, thoughts kept from all others.

By the end of 1915 it had become clear to all that the war would be long and hard. Haig, like all senior men realised that this war would be a 'War of attrition' and the cost would be high. Sir John French's failure led to Haig taking command by December of that year and he had to deal with allies, politicians and the Germans. It is difficult to say which was the real enemy!

The diary contains nothing considered 'revelation,' and for the most part is mostly an itinerary of who he met, when and where. However his comments on eating from the lunch box always gives a 'picnic' like feel. Somewhat unnerving when the troops in the front line were living of stew and hard biscuits! Haig was a Victorian soldier, who believed in the Empire and doing his duty. A tough minded courageous soldier who understood the difficulties the troops faced. He was however convinced discipline, and strict discipline at that, was necessary for and effective army.
Knowing that this was to be a 'wearing out' war he was not surprised by the casualty lists, the top military leaders knew this would be inevitable. But this does not mean he was callous of his men's suffering. His comment at the end of the first day of the Somme battle that 40,000 casualties was to be 'expected' while difficult for us to accept, reveals not indifference to suffering, but a soldiers acceptance of the reality.

Inevitably the diary reflects the war from behind the front line. Haig's reflections of the French allies and the individual Generals, his contempt for the duplicity of politicians, his politicians, and his determination to put his own position aside and just get on with 'winning the war.' Haig had no liking for Lloyd George, Prime Minister from 1916, but understood his importance in winning the war, especially in 1918. But LG was the man who left us with the image of Haig behind the line, uncaring when his men suffered. LG's friends in the press used Haig as an easy scapegoat to avoid the prime minister from taking the blame for 750,000 UK deaths. Let alone the near two million other casualties. Lloyd Georges career being more important than a mere General. Have things changed any?

Haig refused any reward after the end of the war until the government had assured a pension for disabled soldiers. He also made an effort to help such men after the war. In his mind the war was a major siege, in which there was not many battles to be fought, merely a series of attacks in one big battle, lasting front August 4th 1914 until 11th November 1918, the day of the armistice. This major battle Haig won! Working with his allies, and from 1916, often without them, his strength won the war. Haig was never the greatest General, but even Lloyd George at his worst could not find another to replace him. Many mistakes were made, but at no time has any alternative strategy been put forward, not tactics that would have worked, no easy way to victory. In spite of his enemies and in spite of his failings Haig remains a General who deserves a better critique.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008


Every two weeks I attend 'Workstep.' One of those government ideas to get folks like me back to work. It originated with the Royal British Legion and I suppose it grew out of their experience with helping ex-service personnel back to work. In my case I think they reckon I was playing the 'Old Soldier' and dumped me on this! Every two weeks I go upstairs and meet the attractive, competent, far too good for this job, young lass who assists my feeble efforts. Well at least she has amended my CV and no longer refers to my original attempts as 'dire.' So, after an needless bath,in spite of the cost of soap, I wandered off in good time.

I should have realised as I passed the sentry that something was up.
His smirk should have made me realise that he knew I was going the wrong way. His assistant was, as usual, sauntering about in the back of the auditorium chatting.When I got upstairs I glanced at the wee darkened room where I usually meet the lass and saw her busy with another so I sat down in the far side, the only available space. John, my regular dole man, was staring at his PC and trying to work out what button to press and so ignored me, I then returned the thought.
I sat and waited,
and waited,
and waited.
The elderly gent opposite, near the entrance door, looked at his watch, many times, and he supped some sort of sports drink, much needed for this place I thought! He waited, and, waited and watched his watch. And waited....
I waited, filling the time watching the women wobbling by.The thought passed through my mind that far too many were using the lift to climb one flight of stairs, and far too many sausage rolls were being eaten instead of food! Next time I will bring a 'Weightwatchers' poster with me and hang it on the wall to frighten them.
I continued waiting,
and waiting.
Others waited, no one spoke.
A 'Chav' wandered over from one of the desks where he had been chatting amiably. He sat along from me in that 'Chav' style. Legs apart, arms folded, brightly coloured baseball cap perched on the back of his head, his nylon fashion trousers in danger of giving electric shocks to passing strangers, and he waited.
After a while he was called to another desk where he, it turned out, was pleading, pleasantly, for an immediate hand out.
Then the nutter entered.
Naturally he sat a few feet from myself. Don't they always? He immediately began shooting at invisible targets over on the far side of the room, then the folk behind, then the ceiling, and on...
If only he had waited?
He continued firing at unobserved targets then, horror of horrors, he spoke!
"I have passed stage 11" he said, friendly like.
I ignored, surly like.
He returned to firing, and waiting.
The elderly gent looked at him from afar and glanced at me, I noticed his thoughts, they were similar to mine but I did not have the relief that the nutter was on the other side of the room.
"Got any children?" dafty asked. I stopped myself saying "Not on me," in case it led to conversation and merely grunted, "No," and stared across the room at two fat women tottering towards the lift. It creaked somewhat worryingly as they entered.
John my man then appeared and spoke to the daft one, he informed him the lass we had both come to see was to be found downstairs today!
I stared.
I then spluttered something about the waiting.
He grinned in a somewhat gratuitous fashion when informing me he had not seen me staring into space for the twenty minutes that seemed like several days. Gurgling with needless pleasure he told me it was the 'Scope' woman who was sitting in the dark room and I was mistaken. He smirked again and off I trooped. As I came downstairs the sentry cackled in an evil manner, and I began to lose the guilt I had gathered when informing the nutter to bring his sawn off shotgun next time."They would like to hear how loud it can be," I told him. It will be then my turn to cackle!
The 'Chav' crinkled his way past me to collect his winnings and head for the Jewellery counter at 'Argos,' the shop, not the ancient city state.
The appointment was cancelled and I just e-mailed her my failure instead of weeping at the desk as normal. I bet she missed that, especially as she also had to deal with the nutter. Once more it is back to the routine search, and maybe, just maybe, something will turn up. I wonder if I have any long lost rich great uncles near death out in New Zealand or Mombasa or the likes? Here's hoping, I mean, good luck to him, or her.....

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Sunday Morning

I threw off my Duffel coat and removed my jacket, I dropped my thick pullover on the floor and added the thin one to it, the fleece jacket and chest protector were thrown down alongside. On to them I placed my thermal trousers and Ski pants. My baseball cap and woolly hat were flung aside and after removing the two pair of football socks I threw aside the old army blankets and leapt out of bed. Blearily I drew apart the torn bedraggled rags that imitate curtains and looked with wonder at the world. The world in turn looked wonderingly at me and muttered, "What on earth is that?"

Huddled over a candle, to save on the electric, I downed a pint or two of coffee and attempted to recover my mind. This having failed I fought valiantly against the biting wind to the newsagent and bought an overpriced paper. Quite why I have this desire to waste money on this I cannot understand, but I gave in to the temptation. The result, as you can appreciate, is a large pile of paper lying all over the floor. The 'Money' section has gone along with the 'Business ' and 'Motor' sections. 'Travel' was glanced at, but the trip to Vietnam, while enticing, is slightly over my budget. Still to be glanced at and added to the recycling box is the 'Sport,' (all English of course, you would never think there was a union in 1707 would you, not from these papers) the colour supplement, which I guess will contain little worth reading, and the TV section (referred to as 'Culture' to make it more impressive!). Lying by itself is the actual paper! This will contain some news, some 'in depth' items, a handful of self opinionated columnists and lots of adverts! Well worth the money.........

Later I tuned into the televised service from Luss. Last time I quite enjoyed this and thought it a good idea. A typical Church of Scotland, somewhat formal affair. This time however I was sore tried by the constant 'greetin' of a couple of bairns who's mother, like all mums everywhere, was totally deaf to their noise. Unfortunately the microphones were not and this rendered the spoken word unintelligible. Now I love kids, I used to be one, and I find they can be a great source of fun and enjoyment, except when using the video to store ice cream, throwing stones at the window or burning down schools. I also believe kids ought to be in Sunday school or crèche where church is concerned! Alas this brought out the crabbit in me and ruined my morning. The children were kept in throughout because they were to be baptised. This did unsettle me as baptism ought to be for those who are able to comprehend what they are doing. In the CoS it is used to make folk 'members' of the church even as infants, therefore implying salvation, however salvation is only by the 'Born again' experience, however you define it. I have come across those who have claimed they had experience of Jesus when they were only three, and I am sure they did, however this is not the norm. Now many in the CoS know their God, and some famous men have agreed with infant baptism, but I suppose for far too many biblical knowledge is so limited and considered unimportant. God is for Sunday, and we all just do the best we can the rest of the week, a well meaning nominalism. These are often the best folk to know,but God has more,much more for us in himself. I am still troubled by what I saw today.

In fact I am so upset I am going to watch Ghana v Nigeria in the African Nations! C'mon Ghana, C'mon Larry Kingston!

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Nagging Woman

Now I appreciate that there are no nagging women in this world. I know this because I have been given such information by a large assortment of women, many times over. Therefore it must be true, because as they put it, "I say so!" That is not an argument I can counter, certainly not with facts anyway......

In such a fashion my beautiful, she says, young friend 'Blackberry Juniper' has 'requested' I post more about her than about lesser items, such as worldwide famine, nuclear war, earthquakes or football. All subjects she deems less important than mentioning her situation. Now I am not one to be bullied by just anybody you know, oh no.
I assure you I only get nagged and bullied by the best, and she is quite an experienced nagger I can tell you.

So what can we say that will stop her, indicating my mistakes? Well I could tell you of her comfortable abode in the heart of London, her luck in acquiring a man of the right sort - housetrained and obedient. She has humour, sending me a postcard of a cemetary and writing "Wish you were here" on the back, and of course she has a massive intellect that she humbly never talks about. This lass obtained an MA while I still have only an 'O' level of the flimsiest kind. Her knowledge is, like her looks, without comparison, her employment many levels below that which she is capable off. Her faults...well I have NEVER found any, and I say that under no compulsion at all - more or less....

But why do women nag? Could it be he doesn't listen? The female of the species needs care and attention and often. Little things must be noticed, hairstyle, earings, new sauce in the casserole etc. These of course are the very things the man will not observe because they are irrelevant to him! Who notices that she is wearing red today and not blue? Only a woman, and only a woman would understand what that means, whatever it means. If he does not pay attention to her, she will of course nag, and women use several times the number of word any male will use. But if he pays attention and leads her to what is good for her, she will love him for it, but still find time to complain because he has not noticed the shoes are new ones...... Which reminds me of the call I had this morning. A friend has seen his wife of to a conference for the weekend and he called because he thought he required a doctor. With her not being in the house he thought he had gone deaf!

Pic from