Friday, 31 October 2008


Beethoven Symphonies

A tourist in Vienna is going through a graveyard and all of a sudden he hears some music. No one is around, so he starts searching for the source.

He finally locates the origin and finds it is coming from a grave with a headstone that reads: Ludwig van Beethoven, 1770-1827. Then he realizes that the music is the Ninth Symphony and it is being played backward! Puzzled, he leaves the graveyard and persuades a friend to return with him.

By the time they arrive back at the grave, the music has changed. This time it is the Seventh Symphony, but like the previous piece, it is being played backward.

Curious, the men agree to consult a music scholar. When they return with the expert, the Fifth Symphony is playing, again backward. The expert notices that the symphonies are being played in the reverse order in which they were composed, the 9th, then the 7th, then the 5th.

By the next day the word has spread and a throng has gathered around the grave. They are all listening to the Second Symphony being played backward.

Just then the graveyard's caretaker ambles up to the group. Someone in the crowd asks him if he has an explanation for the music.

"Oh, it's nothing to worry about" says the caretaker. "He's just decomposing!"


So the electrician eventually arrives at ten in the morning. I had moved the desk, shifted vast amounts of stuff and all the accompanying dust, and fifteen minutes or so after he was in the building everything was switched off. Remember we are all electric, bar the gas boiler, and that uses electric to ignite the flame! The temperature is low, and nothing is working except two electricians pulling the old boxes out, with much banging and quite cursing. By lunchtime I enquired as to progress, rather hoping they might soon fix the sockets in here and i could get the place back to normal. It was then I discovered those who had gone before had botched things badly and much work was required. This was believable! Nobody has ever bothered to leave details of work done in past times, and much has been done by a wide variety of tradesmen, some of them qualified! Plumbers, electricians, bodgers of all kinds have moved pipes, installed wires and filed to leave info regarding where things are. The men spent two hours in the loft attempting to trace cables!

However, while they sweated up there I decided that it was so cold in here I needed to go out to get warm! Walking in the sunshine was better than freezing indoors. This place faces north and it is always cold. A slight breeze lowers the temperature,a north wind and I think I am in Greenland! I wonder if I could post from there? I trailed along the old railway stunned by the warmth, the bright light and the colours of nature all around me. When I returned, desperate for a steaming hot drink, I found them still in the lost and no hope of heating. No food, no tea, no computer, no radio, by three o' clock I was seeing spiders crawling up the windows! It was four by the time things were normal. All heaters were on and soup was burning! The house was returned to normal, in spite of the ache this will leave in all my muscles tomorrow. So much furniture to move for one socket! How do folks cope when they are flooded or the house catches fire? What is the response during a real emergency? This was routine upgrading work. This leaves me wondering what major works involve?

Good job I am not one to complain!

Thursday, 30 October 2008


This is another of those things that clatter into the inbox without an invite.
The point it makes is quite good however!


In 1923, who was
President of the largest U.S. steel company?
President of the largest U.S. gas company?
President of the New York Stock Exchange?
Greatest wheat speculator?
President of the Bank of International Settlement?
Great Bear of Wall Street?


Charles Schwab - who died a pauper
Edward Hopson - who died insane.
Richard Whitney - who was released from prison to die at home.
Arthur Cooger - who died abroad, penniless.
Leon Fraser - who shot himself.
Cosabee Livermore - who committed suicide
However, also in 1923, the PGA Champion and the winner of the US Open Golf tournament was Gene Sarazan.


What happened to him?


He played golf until he was 92.
He died at the age of 95.
He was financially secure at the time of his death.


Stuff work, play golf!

Wednesday, 29 October 2008


This painting is called 'The Beaver Hat' and is by the Scots painter Edward Arthur Walton.
I post it simply because I like it. In the days of long ago I used to attempt to take portrait photographs and became quite adept at this. In fact of the thousands of pictures taken I found three that were worth looking at! Sadly I have not succeeded in continuing this success story through a lack of models, although I have enquired about the availability of several lassies as they passed by. The ASBO hinders this somewhat now.

I like looking at portraits as they tell us so much, mostly indirectly. While we look at the individual shown we learn much about the society around them as well as the portrait painter or photographer. It appears to me that far too many today tell us more about themselves and little about the subject. This is very sad. 'The Beaver Hat' tells us that the date is pre-war, the 'Great War' that is, but says nothing about the lassie posing. Had she been important I suspect her name would have been well known in artistic circles, and a large fee paid for the painting. This must therefore be a model. Such hats were popular amongst the girls of the day, if they had cash, and kept many a trapper happy in the wild west, although they may well have been travelling by Model 'T' Fords by this time! This is a lovely picture, simple and straightforward, a limited background, (looks like some bedsits I have known, dull, dirty and dingy,) with the lassies face highlighted and standing out from the rest. I like it. I wonder how much this would cost in today's 'Credit Crunch' society?

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Sell - by Dates

Some time back I was searching in the fridge belonging to my spiritual mentor. Naturally this fridge did not actually belong to him, it was hers, and he just paid for the thing. She was the one who stuffed it to overflowing with a wide variety of trappings. Only a woman would find a reason to hide bottles of milk at the back until they turned sour, why? "They were needed for cooking." No-one in the house could work out what she cooked with sour milk, but when they discovered the remnants of vegetables and meat products being put into what she called a 'Fool' for pudding, then that was banned and a closer watch on her work entailed. I still do not know why dead milk was, and probably still is, turning green high up on the back shelf.

At that time I was looking for something to put on the bread. I noticed a jar of peanut butter as that was the 'in thing' at the time. Naturally I pounced on this, having moved cabbages, yogurt pots and 'Blue cheese (I think it may have started as cheddar) out of the way first. I stuck the knife in greedily and found great difficulty is getting the stuff to move. It appeared a little 'stodgy' and I found it very unwilling to leave the jar. A glance at the lid indicated it was two years out of date! TWO YEARS! I pointed this out to the host (from Aberdeen, a place famed for its Scrooge like attitudes). "It will be all right!" she exclaimed unashamed, "It'll be all right."
That next meal was eaten with much hesitation as the family grumbled as to the contents of the 'pie' we shared. Her explanation of the contents did not receive much belief, but we had second helpings having decided to die together and leave a mystery for the local police to work out. The headline 'Six suicides at dinner' was the headline we half expected to see the next day, although thinking about that we would not actually have seen it would we?

I remembered this last night as I went through the contents of the 'Medicine Chest.' This ex-ice cream tub gathers dust in a corner and sorting through it I discovered everything but a strange silver, sharp, metal object was well out of date. 'Halls' cough sweets died last November, 'Vicks' vapour rub had been past it sine Sep 2006 and the 'Vaseline' tub had passed away in June 2005! What a shame I had no use for it! I had a swig of the cough mixture the other day and am wondering if I ought to have checked it first. It did seem a little sluggish in leaving the bottle. Maybe I will leave that till another day.

Monday, 27 October 2008

The Road to Morocco

When I were a lad Sunday afternoons were taken up with aged black and white films on the telly. Alas rarely did we ever enjoy a live football match, and while there featured some memorable programmes I have let them memorably slip from my mind, rather like the way I pay my debts. The 'Road' films, featuring Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, would sometimes appear in between those dreadful romances that had originally been screened during the war. The cinema was of course one of the places to be during war time. Not only could the citizens cuddle in the dark, but it took them away from the ever present dangers, at home and abroad, especially if they were doing the cuddling! Women not only wept through the romances, not nearly as much as the men did, but the ideal of wealth drenched America,with its large houses, constant sunshine and big automobiles tempted many to run of with chewing gum toting Yankee soldiers. Whether the delights of Idaho and Brooklyn lived up to the films image I know not! The thing is that in the early sixties films (that's movies to Americans) had to be ten years old before they were allowed on our screens! This meant nearly all were very dated. However it did give an outing to many 'B' westerns and excellent comedies. The Marx Bros and the 'Road' films sticking in my head more than most.

This is because of the 'repartee' between the main protagonists, and the way it was handled in these films. However I have just found 'The Road to Morocco' on a video tape (ask dad or some other old person what that is kids) and now see it for the dated creature it is. It tells much about Hollywood's understanding of Morocco and the Arabs! Large palaces straight from the 1001 nights, and camels, unfortunately the wrong type for Morocco, and each and every Moroccan with the ability to speak perfect English, with an American accent! The film was released on November the 8th 1942, and two days later American troops landed in Morocco in their first real entry into the war against Germany. Good job they were not shown this movie on the way, the reality would have disappointed them somewhat! We forget how much television has revealed the world to us in a way film never did in the forties. Let's face it we were quite ignorant of the world even into the sixties and television pictures, usually in the 'News' informed us of the world outside. This film could never be made today. The humour, not nearly as good as I recall, does last. Near the end, during the usual fight scene, the camels look on and one says that watching humans she is glad she is a camel, her mate responds, "I'm glad your a camel too Mabel." His eyes then revolve happily. Earlier when arriving at the bad guys tent in the desert, (which like the 'Dr Who' 'Tardis,' was huge inside and kind of small from the outside) Crosby says, and there is only two of them, "We must rescue the girls, we must storm the place." Hope replies, "You storm the place, I'll just stay here and drizzle." That is what made these films. Nearly seventy years on they lose something but become interesting from the 'social history' aspect. (aspect? I sound like an estate agent!) Still, worth a look in comparison the dross on telly today.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Winter Sets in

This morning the clocks go back. Most folk enjoy an extra hours sleep, although those working overnight may lose out and others with pets and children may find no difference of course. This time change signifies winters approach, and a glance out the window ensures us it has arrived. Clouds swoop over the land drenching the north west of the nation and sweeping the loose leaves from the trees. No wonder Americans call this time of the year 'fall.' Not only do the leaves fall from the trees, those of us walking over the slippery beasts fall flat also when meeting them. Onlookers love that mind.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Redistribution of Wealth

The following came through my spam collector today.

Today on my way to lunch I passed a homeless guy with a sign that read "Vote Obama, I need the money." I laughed. Once in the restaurant my server had on a "Obama 08" tie, again I laughed as he had given away his political preference -- just imagine the coincidence. When the bill came I decided not to tip the server and explained to him that I was exploring the Obama redistribution of wealth concept. He stood there in disbelief while I told him that I was going to redistribute his tip to someone who I deemed more in need--the homeless guy outside. The server angrily stormed from my sight. I went outside, gave the homeless guy $10 and told him to thank the server inside as I've decided he could use the money more. The homeless guy was grateful. At the end of my rather unscientific redistribution experiment I realized the homeless guy was grateful for the money he did not earn, but the waiter was pretty angry that I gave away the money he did earn even though the actual recipient deserved money more. I guess redistribution of wealth is an easier thing to swallow in concept than in practical application.

Now for me this sums up American politics. It misses out so much just to get a point across, and you can decide what the point is for yourself! It does not say why the homeless guy was homeless. Was it his fault? Is he just a lazy bum or someone who life treated badly? Is he injured or sick, or made redundant when it was not his fault? We are not told.

Neither are we told that in many American diners the staff are badly paid, if paid is the word, and live on the tips, hence the smiling service. This is not good service from someone who cares, just desperation for the cash whether they deserve it or not!

So many Yanks are full of the myth of America and talk of 'liberty' or the 'American dream,' and sometimes I wonder if their feet ever touch the ground. Now we have all met good Americans, and some post comments here - and if not are thinking comments at this moment which may be better off posted elsewhere! America has much to give to the world, yet their love of money destroys them, for in the end that is what the 'dream' comes down to. Freedom to do your own thing and get rich, this equals happiness! Wrong! This leads to the rich getting richer, the poor being downtrodden and those climbing high climbing over anyone who gets in the way. That does not bring any happiness because when they get to the top there is nothing there!

The redistribution of wealth has been suggested before. Under Reagan Catholic bishops wanted more given to Americas poor and were branded as 'Communistic and un-American! The desire for democracy as opposed to monarchical rule ends with monarchical rule by those with the money and connections to get to the top. The voting system being manipulated by some to keep things this way. Maybe this time it will be different, but will anything really change?

Redistribution of wealth is not 'socialist' not 'communist,' it does not give to those who do not try, nor does it take from those who work for it, instead it cares! Those who love mammon do not care, for others or themselves, they are enslaved by greed and that is idolatry. The desire to have and keep it all destroys all who go after it, while those who seek their needs and share find life! Jesus never commented on wealth sharing, although the poor are with us always, but he did tell us to care. Paul spoke of the 'Love of money' being the 'root of all evil,' and still we pursue this! If America wants to be successful it needs to share its wealth with itself and the world. Then the likes of 9/11 would never happen, Yanks would never be told to 'Go home' ever again, and the world, and America, would be a happier place.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Loose Women

Just what is the point of this programme 'Loose Women?' Is it to show us the considered debates about life today from a group of 'liberated ladies?' Or could it be it wants the viewer to believe that women should never have been given the vote in the first place as clearly there is no intellectual ability of any depth to be found here among these ageing slappers? Just what is the point of this? Just because you are of a 'certain age' does not mean you have to appear as 'mutton dressed as lamb,' and there is a lot of 'mutton' on show here! Nor does it mean you have to bring the conversation around to yourself constantly, which appears to be the only subject on offer - themselves! Four women sitting in a row talking about their bodies, sex, themselves, lipstick, sex, themselves, drink, sex, and themselves! A thousand million are at starvation level, millions go to bed hungry, a credit crunch is closing work places worldwide, possible nuclear war bides its time in the middle east, and these bints talk only about their weight problems and sagging skin, both subjects which need no introduction to the viewer it must be said! Just what is the point?

Now put four men in a row and what will they talk about? Their weight, their sex lives, their skin condition? I doubt it although rude remarks may pass and be replied to. No men would discuss thongs outside of themselves, football, war, motorbikes, indeed anything that matters, yet they are never given a programme in which to do this. I wonder why? Women's absurd fascination with trivia, as heard while waiting in Tesco for another self indulgent bint filling her bag while discussing nothing at all with the checkout girl, and she could get onto this programme quite easily I can tell you, their fascination with talking about nothing never ends! Why? If you have nothing to say don't say it! This will enable you to move your trolley out of folks way in considerably less time than it does now! Then you can go home and watch video tapes of 'Loose Women,' it doesn't matter how old the tape is, the subject will be the same, as will the unbelievable outfits!

Edinburgh Trams

I pinched this picture from Richards Blog, a blog centred on the National Tramways Museum at Crich, Derbyshire. I can remember the time these beasts roamed Edinburgh's streets, rattling and shaking and terrifying me at the time. I always hated the things but there were times they just had to be used. Of course kids could find fun on these creatures, the seats were simple wooden benches, not acceptable to the overweight, overdressed wealthy types of today, with a backrest that was adjusted at the end of each trip and the tram turned around. The adjustment was simple enough, the back was just pushed forward and the seats were ready for the return journey. The conductor changed all the seats, the driver ensured the power was connected from the wires above via the connecting rod, and then moved to the other end of the tram and they were away, although they probably had a long break first!

Edinburghs cobbled streets remain today but the rails have long since gone. However a new style tram, with comfy seating will soon be appearing, and once more these silent, environmentally friendly beasts will reappear. Whether this is a good idea remains to be seen, and the citizens will complain constantly about the disruption, the cost and , well anything to be honest. If it is a success they will then complain about something else. Such is the happiness progress brings. Personally I would like to go to the Critch Museum and wallow in nostalgia for the trams I once disliked as a kid, they were removed in 1956 when I was only five years old, and probably get a lot of joy from pushing the backs of the seats around as I once did in the distant past. Sad I know, but I love it!

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Hero's Wall

The other day I noticed the photo albums, hidden high up in a cupboard, hard been tainted by damp. So I spent a long time digging them out and ensuring future generations will benefit from my out of focus and strangely angled photography. The memories found therein varied from depressing to amusing, and I had lots of fun attempting to remember who many of those pictured actually were! Obviously they meant a lot to me at the time! Now I think some of the pictures were quite good, my brother, who spent many years in that business, considered them somewhat 'amateurish.' The fact that he is right has not yet stopped me taking pics. Among them are many I took when wandering around London looking for money lying in the streets. I did this because folk always told me the streets of London were 'paved with gold!' and for years I believed them. I made 17 pence in 21 years!

The poor picture above is a notable one, not for quality as it is too small on here, but for content. A better picture can be found on this 'Postman's Park' site. The photo shows a number of plaques put there by one George Watts, a philanthropist, who wanted to commemorate Victoria's Jubilee by remembering those who gave themselves for others. He erected this wall with dedications to those who had attempted to save some from drowning, or fire or other disaster, and in doing so had lost their own lives. A notable memorial! The link gives close up pictures of the plaques and details of their heroic deeds are there for all too see. For me this is a great way to remember such folk. What a shame nothing like it exists today.

If you find yourself in London, take a break from the tourist traps, the shop, and the masses who live there and wander through here, it's not far from St Paul's. Nearby stands the headquarters of what was then the General Post Office, and the park was frequented by workers during their break. Small and surrounded by buildings it is one of London's many anomalies, the park, not the General Post Office, and I suppose in Victoria's day it may have been frequented by Anthony Trollope the author himself? he worked for the Post Office, mostly in Ireland, and is credited with inventing the pillar box! Not a lot of people know that. Few know either that he did not get on too well with Rowland Hill, then head of the GPO, and the man who invented the postage stamp, of which the 'Penny Black' was the first. See, education is here for those that want it. Of course you may have to check any facts given!

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Silence Again

Too tired to cogitate, nothing to rant over, and no inspiration hanging around. I have many thoughts circulating around my head but none suitable for publication - no, none of those missus! For some reason I am so tired all the time, is it age or lack of stimulation? Could it be too much 'Flanders Stew?' Or am I just a slob? Answers on a ten pound note please (used). I have filled some time tonight watching BBC 4, the Freeview channel that I can just receive thanks to the wonders of an indoor Aerial. However, whenever a car drives past the picture wobbles, a bit like my stomach does. This is a shame as tonight there have been several programmes worth watching.

Several programmes have concerned themselves with steam railways, and what could be nicer? Certainly some are old stuff from the nineties, BBC 4 does this, but even so they are far better than the usual line up of soaps and dramas that are no more than soaps. These trailers for such cretinous events appear between the shows here and make me swear at the telly! Routinely such 'dramas' involve a woman, adultery, bad men, a threat or two and an explosion. All the same crap day after day! Meanwhile in the real world I watch a steam railway wandering beautifully through the Devon countryside. Steam rises and flows behind and slightly to the right as she coasts along the coast, a wonderful sight! The sea of the Cornish Riviera greets her, and the hills resound to the whistle as she passes. Indeed there is nothing more romantic than a steam locomotive passing by.

Ah me, I am in love!

Another programme shows a lass wandering along old railways closed by Dr Beeching in the 60's. He was the business man brought in by Ernest Marples to curtail the money being spent on British Railways. Marples had made his money in the motor trade and he was going to support that in place of the rail traffic. While it was clear changes were desperately needed, and nothing had been done since the war, and no railway made money before then, Beeching cut far too much, destroyed jobs, businesses, and much tourism. Very much a Thatcherite before the time. No thought was given to the effect on the society being destroyed, money was the only thought! Buses were supposed to replace the rail service even though it was well known the infrastructure did not exist! It is even worse after the mad Baroness herself took a hand! The lack of a rail service devastated many towns and villages. Now the car rules and the UK has I believe more cars proportionately than any other. But I could be wrong here. The old line fromGalashiels into Edinburgh was lost, the 'Waverley' line, there are plans to reinstate this, forty years on, indicating just how foolish the loss of railways has been.

Anyway, I still want to drive one. Listening to the whistle blow, the clank of goods wagons (the had no brakes and just clanked into one another), the puffing of trains in the distance and the availability of seats! Trains pulling ten or more coaches are replaced now by two or four couches on long distances! No wonder trains are overcrowded. But I digress. These programmes are making my TV licence almost worth the money. I cannot say that every day.

See, I told you I had nothing to say.


I'm not one for awards, especially when they are only to reflect Mulled Vine and his ravings.
Such awards are meant for truly Christian blogs, and while I recognise Gods gave up his Son, and at what a cost, and the Son gave up himself for me, and , sometimes, I attempt to give myself back to him, this particular blog is not about that. This merely reflects my ravings and my slice of intellectual suicide for all to see. While I would like nothing better than to sit here suffused (good thing thesaurus's) in God and just enjoy him, although living with him is harder but better, I am sorry to say this blog reflects the reality of my life.

Pray for me...........

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

The Letters of the Younger Pliny

Pliny the Younger (61-113 AD) came from the aristocratic class of Roman society. He developed a career as a lawyer and a taste for Literature pursuits. Later his diligence and ability saw him sent to Bythnia and Pontus as Governor. The letters found here give an interesting insight into the workings of Roman society. Allowing for his editing of the letters before publication, the attitudes and concerns of Rome are revealed. There we see little difference between their preoccupations and ours. Marriage, families, advancement for friends, occasional news worthy stories, the deaths of friends and servants arise again and again. People, in spite of the culture in which they dwell are at heart, the same worldwide and at all times. While not writing history as such his letters betray the inner workings of the Roman mind and the society around him.

One much read letter describes the eruption of Vesuvius as it buried Pompeii and Herculaneum. From the other side of the bay the young Pliny watched as his uncle attempted to rescue those engulfed by the volcano. His uncle dying in the attempt. His description is so good those who study such things use it today to help understand eruptions of this kind. One of course is expected any day soon. Good luck Napoli!

Pliny comes over as caring, for friends, for honest endeavour, for his country and indeed for his servants, his slaves. While some treated slaves badly Pliny appears to have looked after his well, suffering when they were sick and depressed when they died. His refusal to allow 'Chained slaves' to work his land shows his humanity towards even the lowest strand of society. This does not mean he opposed the concept of slavery, and possibly never thought much about it, slavery was there and it was a punishment for crime against the state so was acceptable. Cruelty he appears not to have enjoyed, although he appears willing to allow the death penalty whenever it was required.

He did however use torture on slave women, the normal method of the time, to enquire about Christianity when governor. This he decided was '..a degenerate sort of cult carried to extravagant lengths.' Those who refused to renounce their belief he had executed as '..their stubbornness and unshakable obstinacy should not go unpunished.' He was remember, a decent Roman! The cruel ones leave little room for imagination.

This is an excellent book well worth reading. It says much about Roman society and indeed about ourselves. For in history we see ourselves as we really are!

Monday, 13 October 2008

Credit Crunch

Once upon a time in a village in India , a man announced to the villagers that he would buy monkeys for $10.

The villagers seeing there were many monkeys around, went out to the forest and started catching them. The man bought thousands at $10, but, as the supply started to diminish, the villagers stopped their efforts.

The man further announced that he would now buy at $20. This renewed the efforts of the villagers and they started catching monkeys again.

Soon the supply diminished even further and people started going back to their farms. The offer rate increased to $25 and the supply of monkeys became so little that it was an effort to even see a monkey, let alone catch it!

The man now announced that he would buy monkeys at $50! However, since he had to go to the city on some business, his assistant would now act as buyer, on his behalf.

In the absence of the man, the assistant told the villagers: 'Look at all these monkeys in the big cage that the man has collected. I will sell them to you at $35 and when he returns from the city, you can sell them back to him for $50.'

The villagers squeezed together their savings and bought all the monkeys.

Then they never saw the man or his assistant again, only monkeys everywhere!

Welcome to WALL STREET.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Sunny Sunday Afternoon

I decided to walk the two miles up to the village today, then realised how far uphill that was and took the bike instead. Dressed for October I discovered the sun thought it was August. Quite why it thought August was October it did not bother to explain, I find the weather is like that around here!

The 'Sunday drivers' were out today. I discovered how thick the paint on several cars happened to be as I zigzagged my way west. The jacket I wore was excellent at keeping the chill of the wind, noticeable when going down the hill at 12 miles an hour, and even better at keeping the heat in when struggling up the other side and just over snails pace per hour. All part of my weight loss programme I lied to myself. Naturally, the one set of traffic lights in the vicinity decide to change to red just when my old velocipede and I arrive there. It must be said I had by this time no reason to apply brakes! As my foot hit the ground, and I looked all around me to see no vehicles in sight, the lights change and off I start, bouncing over the holes that are never filled in and just avoiding a car that appeared from nowhere!

I noted the one Indian restaurant in the place and wondered if there was any part of the UK, or the British isles at that, which do not contain at least one of these places? The British these days live on Indian or Chinese takeaways. Curry, in it's many forms has become the number one dish among the populace. So much so that some restaurateurs make fools out of us. One enterprising chap, in Sheffield I believe, decided to start selling 'Balti Curry,' and it became a national dish. years later I discovered that 'Balti' simply means 'Bucket!' Most of the folks here remain in peaceful ignorance of this, not that they would care if told of course.

Further up I passed the typical English village pub, into which I have never ventured, and noticed folks sitting at the tables outside, something never done in Scotland. I found this strange when I ventured south in days of yore, as Scots pubs had frosted glass windows and severely closed doors. As kids we would attempt to peer through the cracks and work out what was happening until some gent informed us of our need for a belting! Down south people regularly stood around outside drinking, I was amazed! Of course, a form of Calvinism and the ten degrees of colder, much colder, weather were the reasons behind this. Keep the drinking hidden and keep the drinkers warm being the order of the day. The drunks seen on the streets in all towns and cities were of course seen there in the past. However it had not become a media story, and most of the media were in the middle of it then anyway. I suspect they still are. One pretty lady lounging at the table did glance in my direction. Failing to interpret my look as 'Give us a drink luv,' she instead gave me a look mixed with ridicule and contempt, mostly contempt. This, along with her large half filled cider glass, her blond hair and scowl, reminded me of two others of my acquaintance, both up north and probably indulging in similar activities as I went on my merry (?) way.

In the course of time I reached my objective and headed for the old railway line. I hesitated as I approached as I noticed it was very busy with cyclists pedalling past and Essex girls pushing prams. (Are you sure you are 16 dear?) However I joined them and began the lovely slow (If the brakes work) descent homewards. I say slow but was fascinated by the number of men, often in their forties, who were pedalling furiously downhill! These nutters have a need to wear shorts when on a bike, the English have this abnormal desire for wearing shorts, if the sun shines get out the shorts even if it is freezing, they reckon if the sun is out it is warm! Something not right with such folk I say. However, while they exercise at speed I meander along, enjoying the birdies singing, the sun dappling the trees, "Praise God for dappled things", the dogs ignoring everything bar the smells found around them, and the pretty girls doing their best to ignore me as I pass. Lovely all round I say as I talk to myself on the journey.

Naturally I now sit here with aching muscles slowly stiffening while I wonder how a short time ago I had little problem cycling up and down these slopes, especially the down ones. Soon I will have to choose between walking outside to ease the knees or stuffing my fat face with whatever I can find in my neighbours dustbins and call it 'curry.' I think I know what will win, and it will not have any cider to go with it.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Ach Well

Another international, another excuse to despair. What is it about Scotland that we can beat France and shake Italy yet fail against Macedonia and Norway? Scotland v Norway was another story of effort with no cutting edge, desire with no ability, and tactics that failed. Now Norway are no pushovers, they posses many top quality, experienced players. However we did not really have the cutting edge we needed. The man from Coatbridge may have missed the easiest chance, and not the worst miss ever in spite of what the media are saying, but the strikers were not given the chances to miss were they? Wrong to play one up front, wrong to give to much respect to Norway and wrong to have defenders who find it difficult to pass the ball forwards or indeed to one of their own!

We could revel in our despair, and Scots do enjoy that after a defeat, but we are faced with the nigels lucky win against a vibrant Kazakhstan. This youthful side came to Wembley and chose to ignore ITVs commentators description of their pride in playing there. Instead they took the game to England knowing that an early goal would lead their hosts to implode. Sadly they failed in this endeavour. The visitors gave their all and in the course of time showed the English defence for what it was, as shaky as a jelly on a skateboard. However it held firm enough until the visiting goalie, their poorest player, floundered at a cross. A second fluke goal followed and while Kazakhstan obtained a deserved goal England ran out winners by five goals to one. The tired visitors neither overawed and a credit to their nation - wherever it is!

So it is the worst of all worlds, they win, we fail. Beating a small side will bring eulogies from the English media and talk of Walcott as a second George Best - except he was Irish, and a class above the wee lad. Scots press louts will concentrate on attacking George Burley until he is named the next Rangers manager. Then of course he will be admired widely. As I watched today I wondered how many times have I seen this type of result? Hundreds of times I thought, both for the Scotland national side and the Heart of Midlothian. I suppose there are millions worldwide like me. Huddled over radio or burning TV set, crying out, advising the numpty on the ball as to what he ought to do with it, blaming the ref, the grass, the ball, everybody, and desperate beyond belief to be the one on the field who can put things right. The sad truth is that while only eleven men can run around kicking the enemy, we can only dream of being there. And sadly it is true that all too often we wonder if my granny could do better than a player who is earning untold thousands each week, and she died in 1945, sad because we would play for nothing, indeed we would pay for the privilege!

Ach well, it could be worse - I could be English, and I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy!

Group 9 (Group Nine) Table

Group 9 Table - October 11 2008
Pos Team P Pts
1 Scotland 3 4
2 Netherlands 1 3
3 Macedonia 2 3
4 Norway 2 2
5 Iceland 2 1

Friday, 10 October 2008

The Fifties

Recently some fellow bloggers have been sickening me. I will not mention who they are, Kris and dani know their own names anyway, but it suffices to mention that they are both female! And you know what that usually means. One of these girls posted about growing up in the seventies as if it was a long time ago! I can assure you it is not. The seventies, in my humble view (and I mean humble) were the worst decade of the twentieth century, and I take into account the years 14-18 and 39-45 when I say that. Those war torn days did not produce either 'Abba' or the 'Bay City rollers!' This Kris female thinking this amusing, added to this by asking if they had cars when I grew up! Add to this dani has proceeded to make things worse. She has written about growing up in the eighties! Man alive that's only yesterday! What is the matter with these people! It is hardly history is it? It's a disgrace and I think I will go off into a huff!.

However this caused to me to linger on a gentler era, an era in which I grew up, the fifties. This was a real time of growth for the nation and benevolent wealth for everyone - well except us, we were still poor! Having seen a fantasy world of progress collapse with the Great War, the resultant social change followed by a deep and very real depression, where folks indeed needed soup kitchens to keep them alive, the UK ended up standing alone against Nazi Germany. Fifty years of such suffering meant drastic change was desired after the war, and we obtained this. The National Health Service, the great glory of the Labour Party of 1945, the welfare state, an example to the world and vast housing estates were built, some good some awful. There was a new optimism that, this time, a better, fairer, world would emerge. By the late fifties full employment had arrived, in spite of poor management and obtuse unions. This was something those who lived through the thirties could hardly believe.

Of course, while the west benefited from improvements the rest of the world suffered from the Cold War. Europe may have filled itself with a wide variety of atom and nuclear weapons bent of mutual destruction, but the actual fighting was done elsewhere. Korea saw the first major conflict, won by MacArthur after his arrogant stupidity almost threw it away. Africa and Central America began to find themselves proxy killers for the US or USSR, and both suffer still because for those years of horror. How nice to avoid war at home any fighting in the lands of those we consider of no account. Were we building 'Democracy' I ask? Britain itself, under Anthony Eden made a catastrophic error with the Suez invasion. This brought home to some that the old empire had died and soon afterwards the actual empire began to be dismantled, and about time too!

I was lucky! Around me lay the fear of nuclear war, behind the memories of a conflict that cost fifty million or so lives, but in front of me lay a small wooden fort and a number of 'Dinky Cars.' What was more important than that? While I dressed up as a soldier and marched around the house, with my 'Lone Star' rifle and cowboy outfit (with trousers that didn't fit) on my back, I would stop and listen to 'Listen with mother' or hope for a bottle of orange drink, delivered by the milkman. Playing in the small road outside, there was a major road divided from this by a long green strip planted with a long line of trees, we broke stones against the pavement singing 'Champion the Wonder Horse,' even though I personally, had no idea what that was! We played 'Peevers,' hide and seek, Japs and Commandos, in which we were constantly killed and re-killed, yet without developing into the mass murderers those politically correct types imagine today. We reflected the times, and it did us no harm. I do not think young boys play, or are allowed to play, such games today. This is wrong! Naturally we left the skipping ropes, and bouncing a ball against a wall to the girls. We also suffered divide playgrounds, the boys separate from the lassies and both happier with it. The need to develop separately taken from children to day by those who lack understanding, and , let's be honest, were only ever concerned with the girls and not the boys. The anti male attitude dominates today and has done us no good whatsoever.

While Churchill attempted to prevent a nuclear war, breaking off to inform de Gaulle just what he actually thought of him, I would dance to the 78" records my elder sister brought home. Elvis, Little Richard and Bill Haley were just the stuff to really annoy my folks and make dad wonder why he had fought the war after all. He trained up in the Caingorms to invade Norway, the Germans got there first so he ended up in Hyderabad! He also took part in the Rhine crossing, although as he stated "We waited two days while the armour went over, then we crossed." A hero! The 'Elizabethan Age' we now lived in was all very well but he often wondered, did we have to listen to Johnny Ray, 'Crying?' I listened as I read the 'Beano,' still a favourite, I mean, who else would show a stagnant pond and include ducks wearing gas masks? The other comics never came up to the 'Beano's' heights. Or played on the varnished floorboards at the edge of the living room. While folks are brought up on wall to wall carpet, we could not afford wall to wall lino. Like so many others we varnished the edge of the boards and over the lino placed a small carpet in front of the coal fire. We were informed that if you see green flames in the flames it means there will be snow! Of course it was going to snow, we were in Edinburgh! There was no fridge, no phone then, eventually the gramophone and in 1958 the TV set appeared and changed our life. 'Double you Money' and 'Hancock' the 'Tonight' programme and dim black and white football film from 'Scotsport' became life itself.

Life of course also meant travelling by two buses to school, later, aged nine or ten, walking home along a busy road in a way that would terrify the politically correct saps that insist we need 'hi-vis' jackets just to wander about. I was more afraid of meeting the 'Teddy Boys' from Pennywell Road than from 'ERF' lorries trundling from Leith and heading west. Later my sister married one of those 'Teddy Boy' youths seen lounging in drape jackets, 'slim Jim' ties and 'DA' haircuts in Princes Street. A haircut is something he does not need these days I can tell you!

Playing without a neurotic mother, living on potato soup and sticks of rhubarb instead of MacDonald's, TV sets you had to cross the room to change channel, cars which left oil patches on the road whenever they stopped for more than five minutes, the 'Co-op' dividend that was so important to my mother to make ends meet, and a football team that broke records and won things. Yes indeed folks, this decade saw a Heart of Midlothian side that, not only could score goals and win trophies, but they could actually pass the ball to one another! Ah me, how times change. Edinburgh may have been a soot blackened, rain swept, cold place in the fifties,with trams that trundled noisily through the city, but it was better then, life was slower, and having little folks were more generous. Wealth does not increase happiness and makes you too sophisticated to use a 'hula hoop!'

Thursday, 9 October 2008

National Poetry Day

As it is Poetry Day I will share one of the poems that appeared in Edinburgh in the 60's. Those days were full of innovation and experiment and this poem often appeared in publications at that time. I feel that it has left a mark on my psyche.

This wifey,
Carrying her shopping bag in Leith Walk.
I goes up to her and says,
"See wifey, there's the wild Pentlands ahind ye."
She drapped it


One of the Great Wars forgotten poets is Joe Lee. He served with the 4th/5th Black Watch throughout the war, and while at the time rated alongside the major literary figures of the day was soon forgotten, possibly because a disagreement with the 'Poet Laureate' of the day.

German Prisoners
By Joseph Lee

WHEN first I saw you in the curious street
Like some platoon of soldier ghosts in grey,
My mad impulse was all to smite and slay,
To spit upon you—tread you ’neath my feet.
But when I saw how each sad soul did greet
My gaze with no sign of defiant frown,
How from tired eyes looked spirits broken down,
How each face showed the pale flag of defeat,
And doubt, despair, and disillusionment,
And how were grievous wounds on many a head,
And on your garb red-faced was other red;
And how you stooped as men whose strength was spent,
I knew that we had suffered each as other,
And could have grasped your hand and cried, “My brother!”

However I feel it would be unjust not treat you with one of my own compositions, one which I have sweated over for the last twenty minutes. I have no idea where the topic came from.

Where would we be
Without tea?
How could I cope with the rush of my life if I could not sit down and drink tea?
I can stay awake with coffee,
But fragment when I have too much.
I can go to sleep with cocoa,
But that's not good after lunch.
It's tea that that keeps me going, on and on and on.
It's what makes the nation what it is, tough and wise and strong!
Give me tea then every morning, and more tea every night.
Make it strong and dark and scrumptious and let your eyes be bright.
Use a tea bag hourly and strengthen weakening knees.
Add milk to cool it down folks or drink it up real hot,
Cause if you miss your tea break you will go all to pot.
So stand up for our teabags, salute the stuff God made,
And celebrate our heritage let the teacup be displayed!


Wednesday, 8 October 2008


I was cogitating this morning on how some folks don't understand my humour. In fact friends gave me a 'Dictionary of Cynical Quotations' one time because they felt it fitted. I was surprised as I saw myself as light and cheery, brightening up the world around. I understood then the reason why folks disliked me at work so much, especially the women!

I have to say I like humour. I always have. Before we managed to scrape enough to obtain a 'Ferranti' TV in 1958 the folks would occasionally take my sister and I to the 'Empire' theatre, or maybe Edinburgh's 'Palladium' to see a variety show, those being popular at that time. I can remember laughing all the way through, and folks commentated (kindly) on it round about, though I didn't notice. Until TV arrived we had the gramophone and I would sit and listen to the 'Goon Show' and 'Hancock's Half Hour' on this with my ear up against the speaker. The sound images of the time still remain in my twisted mind. TVs arrival however brought the Marx Bros and their films. Again I found myself in hysterics, although not everyone around me did, at the crazy humour of these men. This kind of comedy stuck in my mind and unfortunately I find it still does. This explains why fellow employees often misunderstand my comments. They live in a 'normal world' where certain standards of behaviour must be obeyed, I am still talking to Neddy Seagoon or Groucho, and this can lead to problems.

Add a further twist in allowing Jesus to get involved and my concerns differ from theirs. Where I tend to be more honest I find great difficulty dealing with the cheats among us, especially when they are the managers. Disagreeing with them and attempting to mime the tale re this like Harpo does not gain me much respect. Ho hum. We are often affected by influences going way back into the days of yore, and do not perceive it all to often. I find it easy to misunderstand the influences on those younger than I because they arose in wealthier times, with different music and humour as they grew. This produces an adverse mind set, and in my humble opinion, my influences were kinder, funnier and better for the world.

So there!

Now, what's on today? Driving lesson and job applications eh. Well, I better get the red nose and funny boots on for the applications ......

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith

In an interview the commander of the 16th Air Assault Brigade has said the British public should not expect a “decisive military victory” in Afghanistan. I have news for him, the British public have never expected a 'decisive' or any other kind of victory there. We have been telling him and his political overlords that there was no requirement for 'our boys' to be getting killed there in the first place. Why are we there? To find bin Laden, to defeat the Taliban, to bring 'democracy?' What rot! We are wasting our men for American hegemony and a proposed oil pipeline. We will not find bin Laden, who has less influence than ever. There is no chance of ever defeating anyone in that land. Alexander the Great was the last man to achieve this and he did not hang about, which was just as well as those who did got bumped off. The British attempted this in the late 18th century and were roundly defeated, the Soviets foolishly thought modern weapons could defeat men on the ground. They were wrong!

Now for no good reason we are losing our men instead of rebuilding a broken land, a pipe dream if ever there was one. The 'democratic' government shows all the usual corruption, the idea that women will ever have equality there is another dream, as is the idea of negotiating with the Taliban. There can be negotiations, some progress will be made but in the end hundreds, if not thousands, of years of history show the folks there will return to fighting amongst themselves.

Instead of dropping bombs made from depleted uranium on innocent men women and children, and then calling them Taliban or terrorists, far better to pull out now and let them sort it for themselves. But of course we cannot do this. There is the proposed oil pipeline that is to run the length of Afghanistan, and this needs protection. The excuse of bin Laden, the Taliban, and even more absurdly, 'democracy,' does not hide their first importance, Bush and Cheney are oilmen and it shows! If he wanted democracy he would support Hamas in the Gaza strip, after all they were democratically elected, and in a fair election at that! He would insist on democracy in Saudia Arabia, and other 'friendly' states that have no such thing. It cannot be forgotten that a democratic election would never had allowed Bush to become president in the first place! Does he care about the Talibans interpretation of Islam? Of course not. It is strict but in accordance with the lives led by Pashtans and others in those mountainous regions. Islam follows the lifestyles of its followers rather than leads them it seems to me.

As for bin Laden, discounting the story that Britain's SAS cornered bin Laden in his hideaway, allowed the Yank forces to move in to grab him, and laughed as they lost him somewhere in the mountains, as that may just be a wonderful rumour, there is no need to get him these days. Of course those who lost friends and shared the shock of 9/11 will desperately hope to catch him and bring him to justice for that attack. I see no chance of that ever happening. He has too many friends, too much money and influence, and too clever. Only oil keeps the forces there. Only Tony Blair's absurd grovelling at the feet of George Bush has led to the death of hundreds of good British soldiers. Only political necessity has allowed them to remain, at great cost, in Helmund province. The Brigadier may well be the beginning of the spin that sees 'our boys' come home for good.

I hope it is.


ADVERT (to pay my way)

I had a surprise the other day, a letter from Google Adsense offering me money! This came by letter as I had ignored their e-mails considering them spam, as most of what comes to me happens to be! However the ads shown on the page turned out to have earned me around $11 dollars, which is about £6 in real money. I now await its arrival with joy! Another six portions of 'Flanders Stew' awaits. Glory!

This reminded me of the time I joined Amazon Assoc to earn money from the webpage and discovered that the 'Yahoo Geocities' did not work with the Amazon link. However greed, I mean desire to earn my keep has encouraged me to look this up and add an Amazon link to this page. Now some folks object to these as they feel some use blogs just to make money, as if? However I have decided that with Christmas coming I need the cash and my world wide readership need a way to find those books required for presents. And at this point can I point out that while other gifts may appear precious at the time a book lasts forever! Books change the world, books make people better, books are the most powerful instrument in the world! It is important to add that larger and more expensive goods can be obtained through Amazon also. I can get a bigger cut from these by the way....

In short - make me rich - use the link to spend, spend, spend!

Thank you.

Saturday, 4 October 2008


Woeful! That is all that can be said. Luckily I missed the first half of this as I had Flanders Stew to burn, and was content to let Jeff Spelling and his crew keep me in touch. I wish I had not tuned into BBC Scotland to hear the second half. Stupidly I did and was reminded of many, many, far too many boring games, usually played under gray skies darkening and emptying rain on one and all. How many times have I watched the Heart of Midlothian struggle against sides we should beat. This means no disrespect to Kilmarnock, who were the better side today, but the Hearts ought to be able to beat them and all others at home!

The description from the BBC commentator that no one was "...driving them on," brings back memories of last season despair. None of the senior players takes responsibility and plays a captains part. None care that they take the money and don't do the work. No 'heart' for the Hearts it seems. The manager started well but it seems there is little change. There is a danger that if this slide is not halted we will once again be 'bottom six' struggler's alongside Aberdeen!

The picture of Kingston's goal looks good, as do the rest, shame the game sounded poor on the wireless. Excuse me while I go and weep once more.......

Friday, 3 October 2008

Sol Campbell

Portsmouth Football Club have announced that they will be contacting the English Football Association regarding the verbal abuse aimed at Sol Campbell during the recent match versus Tottenham Hotspur. I find this quite surprising. During the game it appears the Spurs fans berated him with 'Racist and homophobic abuse,' or so it is claimed. The police have been asked to investigate and now the English F.A. will insult every one's intelligence with their comments.

Why did this happen? Abuse is normal at football matches, why should this be any worse than that normally associated with football crowds, which after all are often quite unruly. The truth not given in most reports is that Sol Campbell is responsible for all the abuse by his actions. In days of yore Sol was an inspiring centre half for Tottenham Hotspur. He was a crowd favourite and an international class defender. However fans turned against their club captain when he failed to accept a large new contract as his present one neared its end. Rumour spread that he was destined to move to Spurs biggest rivals Arsenal, and indeed he played out his time at Spurs, some claiming he stated he wished to remain there, but moved to Arsenal, a team playing in the Champions League unlike Spurs, earning himself a large signing on fee and , so they say, £100,000 a week! Could you be surprised at the actions of the Tottenham fans? is it not understandable that they should pass on their wrath towards one whom they see as not only traitorous to the club, but one who moved with no fee reaching Spurs at all. The money all went into Sols pocket.

Since then he has been the object of much verbal abuse at each appearance versus Tottenham. This I say is only natural as those who treat the fans badly are rarely forgiven. A love for a football club is not 'love' in the normal sense. True fans do not support the club because it is powerful or even good at what it does. They support it at all times through thick and thin. There can be no doubt that whether attending or watching from a distance a football club takes hold of a mans emotions as little else can. It is not really 'love,' it is a sickness! When the club does well he is happy, when it does badly he is depressed. I once had to spend half an hour of my Monday morning listening to a chap who managed a team in the Edmonton Sunday League. I had to listen because until he had unburdened himself of the previous days game he could not get on with his work - and he was the foreman! Tough, clever man though he was he could not get the game out of his mind. They were top of the league at the time, I am just glad they were not relegation fodder. I would have needed the entire day!

Stories re Sol Campbell's private life began to circulate while at Arsenal. These did not appear in print, so I will leave you to guess, but this affected his time at Arsenal and soon he was on the move, this time to Portsmouth, a move some saw as the end of his career. However he has proved them wrong and he has helped Portsmouth to an excellent position in English football. However he has began to object to the comments made by Spurs fans concerning racism and homophobia. Usually this is understandable, but to my mind he appears unwilling to accept that these things are irrelevant! What is relevant is his behaviour towards Tottenham Hotspur and their fans. Another black player, Jermaine Defoe, also played for Spurs but left the club in good grace, in fact the fans wished him to stay but the club shoved him out. Defoe actually scored on Saturday but came under no abuse for his colour whatsoever. Surely Sol must understand why this is? Was there anti Gay abuse? Is he Gay? Not that I care as his life is his own, but anything in his life will be used against him. I am however not sure our Sol really has a grip on his personal life. From a great distance I wonder what help and advice folks give him.

There is a simple end to this. Sol Campbell now needs to stand up and accept his mistake in treating Spurs and the fans the way he did. By holding his hand up and accepting he treated them badly he begins to right a wrong. Then I suggest, he could take some of the thousands of pound he earns each week and put it back into football. In my view he may well be on anything between £40-90,000 weekly. By putting one weeks wages into youth development at Spurs, or in that area, he would be showing some willingness to make amends for what Spurs fans see as bad behaviour in the past. Others have moved between clubs and donated the signing on fees to such a cause, why should one paid greater sums than most not do the same, then he will have little in the way of problems.

I could be wrong here, I often am, and the abuse, which did not show up on the BBC highlights, may well have been excessive. Fans, like players, have to decide that enough is enough, and as they say today, 'Move on.' What is done is done and I suggest a small act as suggested by Campbell could end such abuse. However he must ask why Defoe and other ex Spurs players do not receive such treatment. He is a great player, and can continue to be for another few years I suggest, and as a man few appear to complain about him in the game itself. However sometimes our faults need us to amend them before we whine to the authorities for help.

Men and thinking go together.

(Stolen from elsewhere, but I have lost the link!)

Thursday, 2 October 2008

The Gardens

I wandered around the gardens the other day, an excellent way to commune with nature, except when mothers bring their brats their for exercise of course, and passed the fishpond. Not that long ago the gardener mentioned the committee had plans to clean up the pond and install new fish even although he himself felt this was a waste of cash. I found the pond clean, with most of the Lillie's, plastic bottles, and probably a supermarket trolley or two, removed, and four large and many smaller fish wandering around. Today, on my morning constitutional, I passed by, before the Mums were up, and found the pond empty of fish. Have they died already? Of course it is possible that a heron or some such has passed by and swallowed the lot! But it seems rather strange. I am perplexed.