Sunday, 31 August 2008

Orissa Update

This link contains information on the Orissa troubles and indicates the desperate nature of the situation for those forced to flee in the forests for protection. While some 3000 police are on the streets it has failed to control the problem. Buildings are still attacked and people threatened attacked and killed. Funny how little of this can be seen on the national news in the UK? The floods in Bihar have had passing mention, why not riots like this?

Orissa Update Video

The photograph is from the 'Sunday Nation.' It is clearly a major event in India yet of no consequence elsewhere.

The Sunday Nation

'The Guardian' 'Hindu Mobs attack Christians.'

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Ewart Alan Mackintosh, Scottish Great War Poet.

After an action one of the officers duties was to write to the nearest relative of each deceased soldier, giving a few, often amended, details of their demise. MackIntosh was an officer who like many of his class came very close to the ordinary men who served under him. This reaction between the young middle class officers and the, mostly, working class men began a reaction that changed the class structure in the United Kingdom and left an effect that is still with us. This is one of the most moving examples of an officers attitude from the Great War.

In Memoriam

by Ewart Alan Mackintosh (killed in action 21 November 1917 aged 24)

(Private D Sutherland killed in action in the German trenches, 16 May 1916, and the others who died.)

So you were David's father,
And he was your only son,
And the new-cut peats are rotting
And the work is left undone,
Because of an old man weeping,
Just an old man in pain,
For David, his son David,
That will not come again.

Oh, the letters he wrote you,
And I can see them still,
Not a word of the fighting,
But just the sheep on the hill
And how you should get the crops in
Ere the year get stormier,
And the Bosches have got his body,
And I was his officer.

You were only David's father,
But I had fifty sons
When we went up in the evening
Under the arch of the guns,
And we came back at twilight -
O God! I heard them call
To me for help and pity
That could not help at all.

Oh, never will I forget you,
My men that trusted me,
More my sons than your fathers',
For they could only see
The little helpless babies
And the young men in their pride.
They could not see you dying,
And hold you while you died.

Happy and young and gallant,
They saw their first-born go,
But not the strong limbs broken
And the beautiful men brought low,
The piteous writhing bodies,
They screamed 'Don't leave me, sir',
For they were only your fathers
But I was your officer.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Orissa Violence

It always appears to my mind that it is easy to ensure a violent mob in India. A brief look at the papers there inform us of violence in various parts of that great state caused by religious or political differences. Often the reasons have little to do with the actual complaint and are the result of someone somewhere making use of the variety around them to further their own aims. Human nature often cares little for what damage selfish ambition can do.

There is a conflict between the Hindu nationalists and other religions. Christianity and Islam are seen as 'foreign' and 'non Indian' therefore they ought to be opposed. As always politicians use this as a weapon for advancement. In Orissa trouble has broken out in the past between Christians and Hindu parties. Several were killed before Christmas and many houses and church premises burnt down. On Saturday night a Swami, leader of the VHP (Vishva Hindu Parishad) was shot dead, most claim by a Maoist group. This did not stop the Hindu's using this as an excuse to attack Christians in the state. Again buildings were destroyed and one young woman burnt alive in an orphanage where she worked.

The national government minorities commission declared that the State government had failed to protect the Christian minority, and it certainly looks that this has occured on this occasion also.

India, one of the leading nations in the next hundred years has an appalling record of human misery regarding minority groups and needs to remember the secular status of the Indian Constitution. The situation in which, laggardly, the authorities eventually make an effort to control the situation is unacceptable. It is time for central government to step in and take control. How many more must die in needless violence for the sake of political ambition in Orissa?

Times of India

January Riots

Orissa Govt Failed to Protect Christians

Cath News

Monday, 25 August 2008

Driving Essex Roads

Much to my surprise the driving instructor phoned yesterday and offered a lesson today, a bank holiday. Having missed two in a row because I was dying from the ever present filthy bug that refuses to leave me, in spite of medicines, prayer and cursing, I was pleased to have a go! As it was a day off for the world I rather hoped the roads would be empty, wrong! it appears that the day brought many out. Cyclist clubs were found in groups of seven or eight blocking roads wherever they could, motorcyclists, who love the windy roads, gather at Finchenfield, 'England's prettiest village' they say. It is lovely indeed but full of all sorts of bikers filling The Fox,' and I had to go through them. The village contains a pond, ducks, the pub and an overpriced antique shop, and also an ancient bridge over the stream. This I had to cross twice, and you only have priority one way. Naturally as I approached some nyaff shoved through and nearly caught us. As there was only an old wifey on the bridge coming back I didn't bother to slow down - she can swim quite well you know!

For two hours I crunched the gears along these pretty roads, passing all sorts of aged cottages, many thatched, all brightly painted and probably very attractive when the sun shines, and only twice did I come across Mr Impatient. On the first occasion he raced past just as I glanced in the mirror thinking, 'Only a fool would...' and he did! Later I was trailed by a lass in a red 'Micra.' That's a car, not a skirt, and I noticed a sensible gap between up. Then along he came in his black Willie extension and I noticed him force his way between us. This often happens when I am near women. Naturally I thought it was the police, it usually turns out to be. Anyway just as we approached a hill with a bend he went for it. Whether he noticed the car coming over the top I don't know but he made it, just! Already I am amazed at the patience of most who drive and the foolishness of others.

Still, it was fun today. The back streets are enjoyable, although the sharp right and left turns through villages, the cars parked in exactly the worst spots in said places, the occasional tractor and junctions round which it is impossible to see - and not helped when you leave the handbrake on - do keep you awake. I write this simply because since I returned I have still got the road flashing in front of me. Like my life, it takes longer to flash past than it used to.

The picture is found on an excellent site called Rural Roads. Well worth a look.

Sunday, 24 August 2008


I awake this morning to the wind shaking the trees, the roads wet, and gray clouds hanging over the whole country. This can only mean one thing, this is a bank holiday! Yes indeed the nation has a day off and celebrates by shopping for a new umbrella! However I see no use for a brolly when the wind is blowing as it is difficult to control and pokes folks in the eye. In such circumstances you will realise that lots of women are wandering past carrying umbrellas and poking passers by in the eye. There are war zones that are safer than street round here when it rains! Naturally, by the time I have written that the rain has stopped, the streets are beginning to dry, and the queue at the Accident and Emergency (Optical) department is lessening.

The August Bank Holiday events will continue rain or shine, the trips to the seaside, days out at overpriced 'fun parks,' including too much fattening 'fast food.' The Notting Hill Carnival (which I endured for many years) will continue to fill the area with lorries packed with steel bands featuring many instruments and absolutely no talent whatsoever. Speakers will be piled high on street corners and the volume turned up so loud it distorts whatever is coming though them. Half naked girls will dance in front of the visitors while their wallets will be picked by said lassies boyfriends, fun and laughter for all - bar those who actually live there! I look forward to Mondays main parade, the near naked girls freezing in the rain, the police waxing lyrical about their overtime and the locals glad of the chance to disappear to the sodden coast.

Yes I am miserable today. I woke tired, the coffee made me edgy, the weather chills me and the chance to win £14 million pounds on the lottery failed completely. This ruined my house buying in warm, sunny Greece, and did little for my buying bread and milk here, having spent the appropriate money on the failing ticket. Bah Humbug! Not that being rich makes you happy of course. I guess as many rich folks kill themselves as do poor ones. Sickness and divorce, fire and flood affect one and all irrespective of wealth. However I would have liked the chance to risk it.
I avoided all the churches around here again today, the fear of slow handclapping someone put me off. Strange some of these places. The problem with a small town is that too many have been connected to one church for generations. One recent Congregational member was a great nephew of the famous Charles Haddon Spurgeon (who was born near here). He and others had been members for possibly two hundred years. It does not lead to openness I fear. Especially when I once belonged to the lunatic fringe of Christianity! Coming here and visiting the Baptist Church was like going back to 1964!

Good news however, the Olympics is about to finish! The absurdity of London spending millions on this in four years time is taking my breath away. Especially when they are determined to enter a 'Great Britain' football side! Another example of English arrogance and ignorance towards Scotland and Wales! The English F.A. top man has stated 'There will be a 'Team GB' side at the 2012 Olympics, whether Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland join in or not!" Now if that is not racist I wonder what is? Scotland should insist on entering their own side. If they treat us as 'Greater England' it is time we stood up. Only Rangers fans could disagree.

At least the BBC can now go back to routine programmes. Hold on, I see a problem there, don't you?

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Saturday Night

Saturday night and nothing to say. However these are worth a smile.

When I die, I want to die like my grandfather-who died peacefully in his sleep. Not screaming like all the passengers in his car.”

-Author Unknown

Advice for the day: If you have a lot of tension and you get a headache, do what it says on the aspirin bottle: “Take two aspirin” and “Keep away from children.”

-Author Unknown

“If a woman has to choose between catching a fly ball and saving an infant’s life, she will choose to save the infant’s life without even considering if there is a man on base.”

-Dave Barry

“My Mom said she learned how to swim when someone took her out in the lake and threw her off the boat. I said, ‘Mom, they weren’t trying to teach you how to swim.’”

-Paula Poundstone

“A study in the Washington Post says that women have better verbal skills than men. I just want to say to the authors of that study: “Duh.”

-Conan O’Brien

“Why does Sea World have a seafood restaurant?? I’m halfway through my fish burger and I realize, Oh my God…. I could be eating a slow learner.”

-Lynda Montgomery

“If life were fair, Elvis would be alive and all the impersonators would be dead.”

-Johnny Carson

“Sometimes I think war is God’s way of teaching us geography.”

-Paul Rodriguez

“Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Parliament.. But I repeat myself.”

-Mark Twain

“Our bombs are smarter than the average high school student. At least they can find Afghanistan.”

-A. Whitney Brown

Do you know why they call it “PMS”? Because “Mad Cow Disease” was taken.

-Unknown, presumed deceased

Friday, 22 August 2008

All Quiet on the Western Front

All quiet on the Western front as they say when all is quiet on any front. It just shows how the Great War still affects us daily. Mind you that is not what I was thinking of for once, I was just thinking it is all quiet, on every front! In other words I have nothing to say. I searched all around my tiny mind and came up with nothing of use for posting. This may not annoy the wide world out there but it does annoy me when I am in the mood to scribble something down her. I sit with my fingers typing an imaginary keyboard struggling to find words to match their eagerness. It was worse when I found myself doing this as I came through the High Street, some woman got the wrong idea and it took ages to shake her off.

I could mention the 'spam' that floods through to the 'Mailwasher' each morning. Around forty today at one time or another. The usual stuff, credit reports, false bank 'phishing' efforts, 'Canadian meds,' which would end if the Yanks had a proper health service of course, and the 'willie extenders' and such like. I had six at least today saying, 'Improve your sex life.' This one has come several times a day for weeks now, always from a different address. I clicked on it once and it read 'Use your other hand!' Typical!

I found a couple of supermarket lassies who laughed and joked in the past day or two. One smirking because the fellow before me was so miserable - and he was! We discussed how life is so much better when everyone is miserable at the same time, all those cheery folk with smiles and grins really do depress one don't they? So we giggled away,annoying the folks waiting behind. She was the second cheery lass in Tesco's. The first had refused to come and cook my dinner, and she is not the first to do that I can tell you, and cheerily added "Don't burn it" as I left. As if!

There again I made Flanders Soup today. I chucked in everything veg like that I could find, added a couple of chicken stock cubes (and water) some cayenne pepper, lit the fire under the pot and stood well back. I recalled the time my Dad, my brother and my brother in law cooked the soup when everyone else was out of the house. They of course all claimed they could manage this task, but admittedly were not used to such chores. They burnt it! I think this may have been something to do with the photograph. The photo of my brother in law at the sink with every plate and pot and most of the kitchen equipment surrounding him. This attempt to make him look 'put upon' took so much commitment that they forgot the soup which burnt. Mum was pleased!

I notice they have put one of those planning placards up on the fence opposite. The Council is planning to fill the park opposite with drunken music. I looked it up on their website and LO! I can find it nowhere! How unusual. I will have to go back across and copy the details so I can complain. They tried this with the kids at the skatepark once. The music shook the house and I considered using the axe for real! I wrote several letters and mentioned the legal outcome if it happened again, and so far it has not recurred. Time for a new letter, if I can find who to object to. Not that it matters, they have already decided and residents opinions are of no relevance. I will mention the next elections mind.

'All Quiet' was a good film, somewhat devalued as the author spent little time at the front and many who did considered it less than accurate. It is worth a look just to get a 'feel' for the conditions mind. Which reminds me, I must write that book on the Great War. I started it about seven years ago and have nearly finished the first page. I will look it up, but it might need a rewrite I bet.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Superstitious Footballers

I was listening to an ex player talk about his superstitions before a game. There were certain actions that had to be completed before each game or in his mind all was lost. This reminded me of others, such as Paul Ince, once an England footballer (and what more need you know to realise he was a failure) and now manager of Blackburn Rovers, who put his shirt on only when halfway down the tunnel entering the field of play! Ally McLeod wore his 'lucky brown suit' each week when Ayr United were promoted. He was still wearing it when they got relegated twelve months later. Larent Blanc, the French international, before kick-off would kiss the shining bald head of team mate Fabien Barthez, supposedly for good luck. I hope it wasn't for any other reason? Others only wear certain colours. One player listens to the same CD each week driving to the ground (and how boring by seasons end) and has to sit in the same seat on the bus travelling to away games – all to bring him good luck. What does he do when injured, does he change seat? No, I think he just gathers his wage slips around him and smirks. I would.

Now in among those who only wear the 'lucky' number or carry a small 'good luck' mascot, surely there is one who thinks this is all daft? I can understand players following a certain routine while preparing themselves for a game, that keeps you relaxed and settles the mind. Trusting your performance to wearing the same shin pads you bought as a fifteen year old may not be as effective as getting out there and just doing your job! If you ask these men, "Do you believe in God?" They will probably all grin and say "No, that's daft" Then they will spend ten minutes folding and refolding their shirt, or making sure their teddy bear mascot is sitting in their right shoe, or using the 'special lucky Biro' to sign autographs, just for 'luck!' Did you realise that there are few philosophers or academics amongst footballers?

While saying all this I do remember Jim Cruickshank the great Heart of Midlothian goalkeeper wearing the green jersey on many occasions and it always turned out to be a bad day. He took to wearing an All black outfit, and the results improved, usually. However on one occasion we borrowed some shirts from the Donald McLeod the Hearts assistant trainer (as they were then) and he gave us one of the 'green' goalie shirts. Suffice to say I wore it and let in at least eight goals. I can't remember much else about that day, the knock on the head, from one of my own side, took the memory away. I do remember it was a long walk home from Penicuik as for some reason they all went off without me.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Abandoned Tube Stations

For some obscure reason I love abandoned stations. In fact I like lots of abandoned, derelict old buildings. Possibly it is the sense of history, imagining those who once passed though such places, or maybe the bang on the head when I fell of my bike when I was a kid, I don't know which. But I do find old things interesting. No I don't refer to the incident with that old girl in accounts that time, I mean buildings and places where folks once went about their business. The tube is one such place.

The picture above comes from a fabulous website called 'Abandoned Tube Stations,' a well chosen name I would say. Featuring the history and many photographs, of stations no longer in use, although still utilised by the Underground themselves for storage etc, it is an excellent way to visit those stations many of us have passed through and wondered about.

Marlborough Road station is pictured above. I often used to travel up this line and was intrigued by this place. Why was it disused, and could I ever visit there. Well I never got a close look but this man has. The station building now is in use as a restaurant, possibly still a Chinese one, and the building was once the home of Thomas Hood, author of the poem, "I remember, I remember the house where I was born." He then waxes lyrical about his garden, something he would find difficult today for instead of potatoes in the veg beds and grass to run around on there is a deep hole and rather a lot of Metropolitan Line trains running through there instead. Mind you, most boys would rather like that!

As they are no longer used it is possible for these places to become time capsules and preserve various periods for those who know where to look. Used as air raid shelters during the second world war, not that the government wanted that, but public pressure made it inevitable, evidence of this can be seen where notices on the wall remain pointing to the 'shelter,' or such like. Elsewhere adverts for goods long since unavailable remain. On occasion refurbished to their original standard they appear in television and movies set in the past. To my mind the station is often the only part of the programme that avoids the 'tour de force de overacting' usually associated with such programmes, in my humble (but right) opinion of course.

There are other sights with other photographs available on this subject and I find them all fascinating. Partly because I have been there but also because they exist. Don't you feel the same?

Saturday, 16 August 2008

The Male Agony Aunt

Dear Walter,

I hope you can help me here. The other day, I set off for work leaving my husband in the house watching the TV as usual. I hadn't driven more than a mile down the road when the engine conked out and the car shuddered to a halt. I walked back home to get my husband's help. When I got home I couldn't believe my eyes. He was in our bedroom with the neighbours daughter. I am 32, my husband is 34, and the neighbours daughter is 22. We have been married for ten years.

When I confronted him, he broke down and admitted that they had been having an affair for the past six months. I told him to stop or I would leave him. He was let go from his job six months ago and he says he has been feeling increasingly depressed and worthless. I love him very much, but ever since I gave him the ultimatum he has become increasingly distant. He won't go to counselling and I'm afraid I can't get through to him anymore.

If he leaves me for her I won't be able to look after our two young children and keep up my job, so I will become dependant upon the state, and that is something I am desperate not to do.

I thought we had a good sex life, and although not as frequent as in our younger days, I didn't know he was unhappy. I keep the house clean and tidy , and prepare the meals as he likes them. He always has clean, ironed clothes, and we go out quite regularly to concerts or for a meal. I though our life was perfect.

This other girl concerned is so much younger and more attractive than me, I feel I can't compete with her, and although I keep in shape, having had two children by him, my body is not what it once was. I never realised he felt this way about me though, and I now find myself looking in the mirror and not liking what I see. I am so depressed I may just take a few pills and end it all. I don't know what to do.

Can you please help?

Sincerely, Sheila


Dear Sheila:

A car stalling after being driven a short distance can be caused by a variety of faults with the engine. Start by checking that there is no debris in the fuel line. If it is clear, check the vacuum pipes and hoses on the intake manifold and also check all grounding wires. If none of these approaches solves the problem, it could be that the fuel pump itself is faulty, causing low delivery pressure to the injectors.

I hope this helps,

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Man's Knowledge

Man's knowledge is a wonderful thing! Man can invent computers so powerful they make mistakes faster than a thousand George Dubyah Bush speeches can ever dream of doing. However wise men also know why they go wrong. Dan at Oddness blog has shown that I was right in fearing there was a problem posting on Blogger. It is refreshing to find such helpful folk on the Blog Cosmos. I post this detritus in the happy knowledge that when I post I can expect it to end up more convoluted than it began.

At the top there is the latest 'IBM Electronic Calculator,' that is helping ", industry and the Armed Forces get the" I would have thought business and industry were one and the same myself, but maybe not in the eyes of a New York marketing executive in July 1951. A very good month for the world I must humbly tell you as a whispered aside. The lady wearing enough skirt to supply several wardrobes to the youthful slappers filling the high street today does not convince me she actually knows how to work the lumbering machine, however I am sure her men were willing to keep her in chewing gum and stockings.

Computers, or in reality fancy calculating machines were first brought into action during the war. Tony Sale developed the Colossus machine to help break the German codes in 1943. The Yanks of course claimed they developed one first, don't they always, but their machine, also built in 1943 was primarily designed to aid artillery calculations. It was known as ENIAC. These two machines took up huge rooms and several members of staff to do their work, the IBM calculator of a few years later looks small in comparison. The things they can do nowadays!

The calculator I have, and use to do the simplest sums, is slightly larger than credit card size, costs almost nothing and are manufactured by the million for dumb folk like me. Man's knowledge is wonderful indeed. What will they think of next? A 'Biro' that does not leave blue ink stains in your pocket, a CD case that you can open, a remote control that does not disappear when you look for it perhaps. We can only live in hope.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Blogger Fault

Or is it mine?
When I posted that last lot of tripe I noticed that some of the words had become mixed up.
What ought to have been on one paragraph began some where else. This has happened to me before and at first I took it to be my mixed up brain. I am thinking it is a fault on Blogger.
Anyone else notice this, or is it indeed my failing intellect?

Team Greater England

I'm bored with Olympics!
This may surprise some but having swimming on the screen for the past week, or so it seems, bores me. If they are not racing at silly speeds they are throwing themselves of diving boards, in pairs mind you, and causing endless tedium worldwide. Now I appreciate that it takes a great deal of effort and skill to come in eighth in any sport, but why fill the screen endlessly with it? I can understand concentrating on 'team GB,' (which as any wise person understands is merely 'Team Greater England') when they are in with a chance, but must we see it all, and then in slow motion?

As you know the I watch the usual BBC hype during these games with interest. 'Our boys' win a medal and it is lauded to the skies, but little is said about the others. Already Italy, Japan and Germany are well ahead in the medal table and they have never been mentioned even in passing as far as I can see. How terrible for 'Team Greater England' if Germany is so far ahead! Poor Englanders! The Englander hates the Germans and the French, usually because they are inferior to them, often just because...well, just because! It's the English way! Actually I think it is because they are descended from them, and recognise their own faults there. Scots of course are pure bloodied Scot with no foreign influence....that we mention.

Also annoying are the commentators. At the moment there is rowing. All those individuals in skulls tearing along a flat stretch of water. I actually like this and always make time for the rowing. Why? I have no idea! However once again we have another commentator on amphetamine screaming away spoiling the calm approach of the chaps doing the work. If there is the slightest chance of one of 'our boys,' a term usually reserved for servicemen in action, winning then the voice gets higher and as the finishing line approaches the decibels turn a man in his forties into a choirboy afraid of the verger. Why do they feel the need to scream and shout? If there is excitement in any sport it can be understood, but the fact is they are encouraged to exaggerate the intensity for effect! The effect is to wish for an outbreak of laryngitis!

While we are on, great disappointment was seen at the 'women's weightlifting.' Now is it just me, but why are women attempting to lift weights greater than your average American? One of 'Our Boys,' was shown several times yesterday struggling to lift the barbell, which I am convinced bent as she lifted it. She failed and we were meant to empathise with her. Why is a woman doing this? What part of her, mentality has failed that makes her desperate to gain fame this way? Now men in this activity is not only worthy but fun also, when they drop the thing and it rolls onto the judges as it did during the Edinburgh Commonwealth Games. But lassies? No, sorry this is not for them. You note I described her as one of 'Our Boys,' I suppose with all the 'muscle building' material she has stuffed into herself, one of 'our Boys' is what she soon will be.

By the way, according to the BBC this is how the medal table looks this morning.
That link gives live BBC coverage for those desperate to have their eardrums bent by some hyperactive, overpaid, expenses wasting, screaming commentator.

Rank Country Gold Silver Bronze TOTAL
1 China 16 3 5 24
2 USA 10 8 9 27
3 South Korea 5 6 1 12
4 Italy 4 4 2 10
5 Australia 4 2 6 12
6 Germany 4 1 2 7
7 Japan 3 1 3 7
8 Russia 2 6 3 11
9 Great Britain 2 2 3 7
10 Czech Republic 2 0 0 2

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

ID ten Error

I was having trouble with my computer. So I called Richard, the 11 year old next door whose bedroom looks like Mission Control, and asked him to come over.
Richard clicked a couple of buttons and solved the problem.
As he was walking away, I called after him, 'So, what was wrong?
He replied, 'It was an ID ten T error.'

I didn't want to appear stupid, but nonetheless inquired, 'An, ID ten T error? What's that? In case I need to fix it again.'
Richard grinned. 'Haven't you ever heard of an ID ten T error
No,' I replied. 'Write it down,' he said, 'and I think you'll figure it out.'

So I wrote it down: I D 1 0 T

I used to like the little brat.

Feeling Tetchy?

He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.”

-Winston Churchill

I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.”

-Clarence Darrow

I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn’t it.”

-Groucho Marx

I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.”

-Mark Twain

He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends.”

-Oscar Wilde

I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend... if you have one.”

-George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill

Cannot possibly attend first night; will attend second, if there is one.”

-Winston Churchill’s response to George Bernard Shaw

I feel so miserable without you; it’s almost like having you here.”

-Stephen Bishop

He is a self-made man and worships his creator.”

-John Bright

I’ve just learned about his illness. Let’s hope it’s nothing trivial.”

-Irvin S. Cobb

He had delusions of adequacy.”

-Walter Kerr

Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?”

-Mark Twain

His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork.”

-Mae West

Monday, 11 August 2008

Irritable? Me?

Possibly it is the bug that never seems to leave me, or maybe it is just the heredity gene that has planted a tetchy nature within that irked me this weekend, I do not know. Whatever it was made me feel easily annoyed and somewhat peeved. I knew I was peeved when I fixed that old bayonet onto the .303 rifle I keep under the bed 'just in case.' I wandered through town removing some of the irritants, adolescents, supermarket check out girls, young men who play loud (boom boom) music from passing cars, folks who looked at me the wrong way and those little old ladies who never have their money ready when buying things. While this is fun in itself it really does not cure whatever it is that ails the individual, although it makes the streets safer and costs less than the usual method of going through the courts.

My vinegary outlook was not made easier by the mouse not running correctly. I cleaned it, I cleaned it again, and then once more. I changed the mat - twice, and then I slammed it down hard! It broke. So late at night I had no PC. I attempted to use the keys only but I am not very good at this and struggled to get anywhere that way. Only a new mouse would do. This morning I dragged my weary hulk all the way to Argos, the shop not the town in Greece, and spent £2:98 on a new one. The idea of spending what I do not have was not helping my peace of mind but it did bring me to my senses. I stopped yelling at passers by, cleaned the bayonet, and calmed down. Tesco however appears closed, they seem to have run out of check out staff.

I blame this mostly on the bug. But also it opens up thoughts of despair. The tiredness makes small problems loom large, things said get out of proportion and I made an error in allowing my opinion of one individual to be made known to him. "Even a fool is considered wise if he keeps his mouth shut," it says somewhere, I wish I had remembered. So instead of a weekend full of worthwhile activity, and rejoicing at the Heart of Midlothian's wonderful beginning to the new season (a 3-2 thrashing of Motherwell), I was wasting my time wallowing in problems of my own making. Fool! The tiredness persists so I blessed the world around by cancelling the driving lesson this morning. (The local traffic police sent a 'Thank you' e-mail) as I thought I would fall asleep while trundling around and the man objects to having his car crushed up against a wall - I've found. I was right as I have twice drifted into the land of sweet dreams and fell face down into my dinner. better than eating it I suppose......

Friday, 8 August 2008

Beijing Olympics

I'm bored already!
Just gone nine in the morning and so far the breakfast channels are awash with Olympics! Pictures of the crowd rehearsals, of massive firework displays, of athletes choking in the dense atmosphere fill the screen. There is a general air of excited expectancy form all concerned, and we are supposed to be feeling the same joy. I'm not! Those sent to report from China will have reason to be gleeful, depending on how much snake they have had for breakfast. Their only fear is the huge expense account they will attempt to explain away on their return. TV folk seem determined to enjoy the event, whether they mean it or not does not yet seem clear. I suppose that talk of Olympics makes a change from someone with kidney disease, or a celebrity breaking a nail!

We are told repeatedly that this will be a 'spectacular' opening ceremony. If memory serves me right this usually means hours of boring meaningless activity leaving the viewer who cares desperate to understand just what is actually going on! I still lie awake some nights trying to comprehend the goings on at the beginning of the 'World Cup' in France that time. Some dancer had choreographed the opening in such a manner that even the French did not know what was going on! Why bother? 'Spectacular' is this the only word the media can find for 'waste of time?' Come now, an opening ceremony ought to tell us about the nation where the event is held, the participants and what is to occur. A couple of hours at most. Usually it takes half a lifetime and fizzles out just after the beginning. But we will still hear it called 'spectacular.'

For any lazy media folk reading this my online Thesaurus suggests :-

amazing, astonishing, breathtaking, dazzling, dramatic, elaborate, fabulous, fantastic, grand, magnificent, marvellous, miraculous, sensational, splendid, striking, stupendous, theatrical, thrilling, wonderful

Hope this helps! But in the circumstances they could add, boring, puerile, and 'dull as dishwater,' as it would fit quite well.

As to the games themselves well, I may actually watch things like the hammer and the weightlifting, the high jump, some cycling and the rowing maybe. Usually, for no good reason, I watch the boxing here. I am not one for watching great lumps knock bits of one another but find I get involved with this one. No reason why and the Cubans always win. The actual running around the track for days on end bores me rigid. However this time the added attraction of watching them struggle with the gas masks will really put a smile on my face, especially in the marathon! Ah yes, the Chinese have done well in lightening the chemical works like atmosphere to such an extent folk can walk the streets for thirty minutes before being overcome. Well done China!

The streets of course roundabout will be empty of all problems. Those are being beaten to death in labour camps in the distant parts of Mao's empire. Anything that moves outwith the totalitarian despots at the helm will be well hidden from view of the freedom loving visitors to Beijing. I noted one woman this morning, during a break in rehearsals for the opening yawn fest, informing us of the advancement made by Chines economic growth, and how wonderful it all was these days. Apart from sounding like the robot we have seen so often in communist countries she forgot to add that in Mao's days we were starved to death daily, so anything is better when there is food on the table, and stuff those who have nothing among the peasants!

Oh the delights of a totalitarian regime! Which reminds me, George Dubyah Bush is off there now. What he sees will remind him of his legacy in Iraq and elsewhere, although the building in China will at least be still be standing! Communism or Bush? What a choice?

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Kaunas 2 Rangers 1. GLORY!!!!!!!!!!

What a glorious night for Scottish football! Yes indeed the arrogant Rangers football club, the club who alongside Celtic football club, dominate the SFA, the Media and, even worse, the referees, have suffered the worst defeat imaginable, and how Scotland rejoices!

Consider this, Kaunas are Lithuanian Champions. Their nation prefers basketball to football and the club have crowds of no more than a thousand or so, Rangers on the other hand claim nearly fifty thousand attend their ground, at least when all is going well. Consider also the owner of Kaunas football club, the much maligned Vladimer Romanov! Indeed the man who owns the Heart of Midlothian also has his hands on kaunas, and this club has fed many players to the Hearts over the past couple of years. Indeed some have been worth having, but not all. Romanov has suffered badly at the hands of the Glasgow dominated press because he spoke out in a way that offended their hold over the nation. Certainly he went over the top on occasions but to indicate a belief that the SFA and referees were giving subtle (subtle!) support to the old firm, and recieved support from the Glasgow based media, who make money from the Old firm fans, was a call well recieved by fans of many clubs. All Scots clubs have memories of biased decisions which have gone against them during games versus the old firm. Far too many to consider this coincidence. Therefore the idea that this little club should defeat the 'mighty Rangers' is one that brought cries of joy throughout the country. Every club has been lifted by the defeat of the blue bigots and every fan now finds themselves rejoicing uncontrollably! Whether Vlad has stopped laughing yet is worth considering. I doubt however that the 'Daily Record' or the 'Scottish Sun' will mention Vlads tears of laughter.

Naturally this does have an effect on the 'co-efficient' and could affect the number of clubs entering European competition in the future. This is sad, although Aberdeens great run in the Uefa competition last season will certainly help. It is unlikely that Queen of the South, a first division side, who qualified from being cup finalists and pushed Rangers all the way there also, whether they can go far is debatable. At least they will hold their heads up whatever happens.

Somewhere it says 'Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, or the Lord will put on you his fall.' I accept this, but in this case I consider it worth the risk!

Tuesday, 5 August 2008


I came across an old video featuring Spike Milligan before an 'invited audience.' This was shortly before he died and he was very funny, as he often was. He is of course one of those responsible for my twisted humour. As a lad I used to sit with my head against the gramophone while listening to 'The Goons,' 'The Glums' or 'The Billy Cotton Band Show' on a Sunday afternoon. What great times they were in those days of long ago! The whole country would be also listening to these matinees and laughing their heads off. Later we added the Ferranti television set that we acquired in 1958. By turning the large knob on the front we could receive two, yes two, channels! On Sunday afternoons films were shown, at least ten years old I believe and most well over that! But we watched the black and white action quite happily. I confess had I to watch such movies today I would be violently sick! It's amazing what a young mind will accept without thinking. The attitudes shown have coloured my life ever since, hopefully I have lost them now. However every so often there were films not only worth watching but that will live for ever! Foremost among them were Marx Brothers films and the 'Road' movies made by Hope and Crosby. Such films contained the fast moving repartee that I admire, and strangely have discovered this attitude appears in most places where I have been employed. Possibly this explains my constant moving from one job to another and my lack of references therefrom I don't know.

The anarchy of the Marx Bros and the fast one liners from Hope were new to UK audiences before the war. Our humour had a different slant to it but Tommy Handley made a meal of fast paced one liners during the war in his wireless programme 'It's That Man Again!' Today his scripts are totally unfunny but to a nation standing alone while the rest did their best to avoid the obvious it gave heart. While German radio spoke of 'England (racists!) faltering' those that dared to listen into the BBC heard nothing but laughter! The war left its mark on those who were to become the entertainers for the next thirty years. Most had served, some had suffered, like Milligan had from being mortared, and all wanted to get away from the military authoritarian society. A revolutionary attitude prevailed. 'The Goons' were probably more radical in their humour than most!

So many other things have influenced me that sometimes I wonder what I would have been like without them. However I expect my sick black half wit would out. This can of course upset some folks, especially when they have little sense of humour or are too full of themselves. Sometimes they need a laugh, other times a good slap is more desirable. While working in the Royal Infirmary in 1974 a very tall lass was admitted and the nurse muttered sympathy for her height. 'At least she will get a long lie in the morning' I ventured, but was not admired for it. Making a 'slap' gesture to the backside of one young lady meant I was loudly warned off by another. Simply mentioning that the first lassies was half the size of the one protesting enabled the first to take my side, and the second to turn needlessly violent. Well, she was Irish. Talking to some of her friends after my sister died I mentioned it was the first time I had seen her with her mouth closed and received only querulous stares. I suppose stepping out from the usual routine is wise only with folks who know you well.

The fact is humour is Gods gift to us all. It relaxes us after stress, releases pent up emotions and allows those in difficulties a way of escape from their troubles. Eastern Europe was awash with humour, an escape valve for those who could not overcome the dictatorship that ruled them. Front line soldiers used black humour to prevent themselves going mad with the strain of trench life, shaking hands with arms jutting out from the sides of the trenches. Wit enables pupils to absorb what is being taught, because if it is dull learning is difficult. We remember better that which we enjoy. Wit can prevent diplomatic incidents. During the Cold War Harold Macmillan,the UK Prime Minister, was speaking at the United Nations. Kruschev resorted to his latest tactic of removing his shoe and pounding the desk in front of him. A tense silence filled the hall, with the Cold War at its height any wrong reaction could lead to a diplomatic 'incident.' “Can we have a translation of that?” said Macmillan, and the whole place rocked with laughter! The tension ended, Kruschev was put down, but nicely, and he stopped the shoe thumping.

Humour can be used to be hurtful, and we all laugh at our enemies to make us feel better. Not always is it necessary. Cynical humour has been commonly seen in recent days in the UK, but often used to attack others rather than as wit to expose their faults and build something worthwhile. There is no point in satirising a politician if you have nothing positive to offer in his place. No point in joking about people unless you aim to like them or get the best out off or from them.

There again, laughter is the best medicine and whatever the problem finding humour in it can aid the body keep healthy. We are made to laugh and smile but we spend our time frowning. Surrounded by plenty we complain of what we lack. Half the folks in hospital suffer because of diseases caused by stress. The body responds to happiness and disintegrates under stress. Oh dear, I think I ought to have looked in the mirror before writing that. Oh dear oh dear.........

An American decided to write a book about famous churches around the world.
He bought a plane ticket and took a trip to Orlando, thinking that he would start by working his way across the USA from South to North.
On his first day he was inside a church taking photographs when he noticed a golden telephone mounted on the wall with a sign that read '$10,000 per call'.
The American, being intrigued, asked a priest who was strolling by what the telephone was used for.
The priest replied that it was a direct line to heaven and that for $10,000 you could talk to God.
The American thanked the priest and went along his way.

Next stop was in Atlanta. There, at a very large cathedral, he saw the same looking golden telephone with the same sign under it. He wondered if this was the same kind of telephone he saw in Orlando and he asked a nearby vicar what its purpose was.
She told him that it was a direct line to heaven and that for $10,000 he could talk to God. 'O.K., thank you,' said the American.

He then travelled all across America, Africa, England, Japan, New Zealand. In every church he saw the same looking golden telephone with the same '$US10,000 per call' sign under it..

The American decided to travel to Scotland to see if Scots had the same phone.
He arrived in Scotland and again, in the first church he entered, there was the same looking golden telephone, but this time the sign under it read '40 pence per call.'
The American was surprised so he asked the minister about the sign.
'I've travelled all over the world and I've seen this same golden telephone in many churches. I'm told that it is a direct line to Heaven, but in all of them price was $10,000 per call. Why is it so cheap here?'
The minister smiled and answered, 'You're in Scotland now, son - it's a local call'.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Old Jokes

Paddy is driving home after downing a few at the local pub. He turns a corner and much to his horror he sees a tree in the middle of the road.

He swerves to avoid it and almost too late realises that there is yet another tree directly in his path. He swerves again and discovers that his drive home has turned into a slalom course, causing him to veer from side to side to avoid all the trees.

Moments later he hears the sound of a police siren and brings his car to a stop. The officer approaches Paddy's car and asks him what on earth he was doing.

Paddy tells his story of the trees in the road when the officer stops him mid sentence and says, "Fer crying out loud, Paddy, that's yer air freshener!"
Tom, a loving husband, was in trouble. He had forgotten his wedding anniversary and his wife was really ticked off at him. She told him, "Tomorrow morning, I expect to find a gift in the driveway that goes from 0 to 200 in under six seconds, AND IT BETTER BE THERE."

The next morning, Tom got up really early. When his wife woke up a couple of hours later, she looked out the window, and there was a small gift-wrapped box sitting in the middle of the driveway.

Confused, the wife put on her robe, ran out to the driveway, and took the box into the house. She opened it, and found a brand new bathroom scale.

Tom is not yet well enough to have visitors.
Reverend Boudreaux was the part-time pastor of the local Baptist Church, and Pastor Thibodaux was the minister of the Congregational Church across the road. They were both standing by the road, pounding a sign into the ground, that read:

'The End is Near! Turn You self Around Now! Before It's Too Late!'

As a car sped past them, the driver leaned out his window and yelled, 'You religious nuts!'

From the curve they heard screeching tires and a big splash...

Boudreaux turns to Thibodaux and asks, 'Do you think maybe the sign should just say.....
'Bridge Out?''
There once was a religious young woman who went to Confession.
Upon entering the confessional, she said, "Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned."
The priest said, "Confess your sins and be forgiven."
The young woman said, "Last night my boyfriend made mad Passionate love to me seven times."
The priest thought long and then said, "Squeeze seven lemons into a glass and drink the juice."
The young woman asked, "Will this cleanse me of my sins?"
The priest said, "No, but it will wipe that smile off of your face."
There was a man from Aberdeen who had worked all his life, had saved all of his money, and was a real miser when it came to his money.

Just before he died, he said to his Aberdonian wife...'When I die, I want you to take all my money and put it in the casket with me. I want to take my money to the afterlife with me.'

And so he got his wife to promise him , with all of her heart, that when he died, she would put all of the money into the casket with him.

Well, he died. He was stretched out in the casket, his wife was sitting there - dressed in black, and her friend was sitting next to her. When they finished the ceremony, and just before the undertakers got ready to close the casket, the wife said,

'Wait just a moment!'

She had a small metal box with her; she came over with the box and put it in the casket. Then the undertakers locked the casket down and they rolled it away. So her friend said,

'Girl, I know you were not foolish enough to put all that money in there with your husband.'

The loyal wife replied, 'Listen, I'm a Christian; I cannot go back on my word. I promised him that I was going to put that money into the casket with him.'

You mean to tell me you put that money in the casket with him!?!?!?'

'I sure did,' said the wife. 'I got it all together, put it into my account, and wrote him a cheque.... If he can cash it, then he can spend it.'
A blonde woman was speeding down the road in her little red sports car and was pulled over by a woman police officer (also a blonde). The cop asked to see the blonde’s driver’s license. She dug through her purse and was getting progressively more agitated. “What does it look like?” she finally asked. The policewoman replied, “It’s square and it has your picture on it.” The driver finally found a square mirror, looked at it, and handed it to the policewoman. “Here it is,” she said. The blonde officer looked at the mirror, then handed it back saying, “Okay, you can go. I didn’t realize you were a cop.
I was depressed last night so I called the Samaritans.
Got a call center in Pakistan .
I told them I was suicidal.

They got all excited and asked if I could drive a truck.....

Friday, 1 August 2008

Maida Vale Hospital

It's funny how some things stick in the mind. For instance I spent almost twenty years in the same hovel in London and many a time the building has come into my dreams. It is not an accurate representation of the slum but it is clear where I am. While not appearing during my, much needed, beauty sleep, the above hospital is often in my mind. Dedicated to neurological and nuerosurgical medicine this was my workplace for several years. Looking back I can tell you I have not had a job I enjoyed as much.

Can I point out straight away, just to avoid any confusion, I was not a surgeon. No I failed in that regard, indeed I was not even a doctor if truth be told. The year I spent working as an orderly on the trauma ward at Edinburgh's Royal Infirmary proved that I had not the necessary for nursing. Just as well as I am sure I would have killed someone! However, while in London I took advantage of the offer of a porters job in this place. Then from 1975 until 1981 , with a few months out during the heatwave of 1976, I served my time in this place. An excellent job in a small hospital as I got close to all the patients without endangering them, and enabling me to see life as it is up close. I wish I was there now! Not that this can be as Maggie Thatcher closed the crumbling building down in the eighties, a habit she seemed to develop after that.

It is surprising how enjoyable a job can be when all around folk are suffering, and often dying, from some of the worlds worst diseases. MS or Parkinson's, brain tumours and a wide variety of accidents came through the door. Some patients became friends as they returned all to often to visit the outpatients as their disease progressed, if 'progressed' is the right word? Some of course came in as emergency admissions from other hospitals. Nothing more could be done there and this was their last hope. Many died but just as many lived, one walked out after being seven weeks unconscious! I saw her as she returned for her appointment, a bit of a vegetable we thought, but alive. Young married couple who now had this to contend with. I never found out what happened afterwards, but it would be tough for some years for them. Some couples were brought closer together by the suffering of one partner, and the care offered was good to see. Those with Multiple Sclerosis could look forward to a further twenty or so years of this. How did they cope?

I look back on this job happily because I liked the idea of doing something worthwhile and I worked with some excellent people. People of course make the job, and all to often break it. Any job can be enjoyable, however boring or difficult, if those around you make the most of it. 'Black humour,' much used in the UK, helps here. Some of you will be aware of that! There are always the lazy,the troublesome, and the difficult in every job, MVH was no different there. But I remember most of them with affection, especially the pretty girls who abounded there. The only question is how did they resist me, and so often also? Women often surprise me this way.

One night while on lone duty, which meant lounging quietly usually, I pondered on all those who had once passed through the place, doctors, nurses, other staff both important (in their own minds) and others. Who remembered them once they had gone? Some had spent twenty to thirty years working here, often during wars and economic downturns, but meant nothing to those who followed on. It struck me just how unimportant we are in the great scheme of things. We often see ourselves as important while in a job but when we leave we are soon forgotten and life goes on. Some folks do not understand this and cannot comprehend how the place will survive without them. In truth they need the work more than the work needs them. I miss this place. I miss the girls and the patients. I miss a job worth doing and seeing the poignant and the cheery pass by. I wonder if any of them miss me.......?