Sunday, 30 November 2008

St Andrews Day

Scotland's Calvinist background has meant St Andrews Day had no meaning whatsoever. Today however, while St Andrew himself is of no importance to the majority of the populace, the day has once more found a place. Scotland, and independent nation dragged into a Union in 1707 by English aggression, has never submitted to an English yoke. This does not mean a union is not possible, and indeed beneficial, however it does show how the arrogance of England has never been accepted by the Scots. The union could work but only if England and the English joined in. Something they have never done! To them 'Britain' equals 'England.' An unacceptable idea to a free people. Indeed there was a serious intent to call Scotland 'North Britain' at one time, and when that failed, as it would, their arrogance's in the South merely chose to refer to Britain as 'England,' an attitude common around the First World War.

Scots independence from England had been in the middle of the nineteenth century when Conservative politicians (no less) felt Ireland received more money than Scotland. (Tory policy is always money dominated!) The growth of independence saw an attempt at a 'Home Rule' bill which was hindered by the outbreak of the Great War. It must be added that in spite of this, and at a time Scotland was in full employment and economic growth, Scotland responded wholeheartedly in support of the war. Unlike England, half of the men of military age enrolled, most suffered as the Scots divisions fought in every major battle during the conflict! In the twenties an independent movement continued, and again the depression and Second World War brought this to an end. However after much institutional English racism, not allowed against blacks in the BBC and elsewhere, but acceptable against Scots, Scotland once again has a degree of self rule. Nationalism grows when people are mistreated, or worse, treated with contempt, as the Scots have been by their English neighbours. This is a pity, as for the most part, Scots would work well with a people they have so much in common with, but it has never been an English habit to regard anyone but them selves as important. One example of media racism was noted, not against Scots, but the other Celtic nation Wales, today. The report on the BBC regarding England's loss to New Zealand at rugby concentrated on England. The report on the Welsh defeat of Australia spoke not of 'Wales' but of a 'Northern Hemisphere' victory! The commentator would not accept a Welsh win over an English defeat. Unconscious maybe, but reflect the racism that lies at the heart of England.

What about St Andrew himself? Well as we know Andrew was Peter's brother, and Peter, and he were appointed apostles by Jesus himself by the lake of Galilee all those years ago. That Andrew continued with Jesus during his earthly walk is clear, but what then? No-one knows! While it is true there are a myriad tales of his exploits, writings and deaths, (he apparently died in several different manners) nobody actually has any real idea of his story. There are tales of his bones being kept in Constantinople, and by various means working their way to Britain. From Hexam, where there stood a major Abbey, a monk brought them to Scotland and told the inhabitants there, Picts as it happens, the bones in the bag were St Andrew himself! They must have been amazed as a town of that name now stands on the Fife coast. A sign in the sky of two long streaks of white on the deep blue background (possible airline passing over) at that time became the Scottish 'Saltire' flag. The flag of St Andrew!

Who really knows? In days of yore when few could read, and the bible was a closed book to many, superstition abounded and religion was second to political gain. No change there then! Lacking a biblical understanding people came to put their hope in 'saints' of many sorts, some even Christian, and in time all nations had their own personal 'saints' who would plead before God on their behalf. The new Testament makes clear that only Christ Jesus, the great high priest, pleads before the throne, and that using his own blood shed on the cross. By no other name can men be saved. A 'saint' by the way, is simply someone who receives Christ Jesus death on behalf of his rotten nature, believes Gods mercy and Holy Spirit and finds a new life. Each Christian is in fact a 'saint.' No need for anyone 'special,' bar Jesus himself.

Have a happy, though frozen, wet, dreich, St Andrews Day. That's how Scots have become used to celebrating it. Only Scotland could find it acceptable to have a saints day in the middle of winter! Why not July I ask? Because it would rain then also. that's why!

Saturday, 29 November 2008


WooooHoooooooooo!!!! We stuffed them good! Great first half against the overwhelming arrogance of the blue bigots! Two goals in a minute or two, their defence run ragged as it should be, and then an accidental own goal while Karapidis was being fouled by Scotland's cry baby Kris Boyd! Daft approach in second half where we let them into the game, although Rangers had not the skill to take advantage, and the crass stupidity of Lee Wallace (a Hibs fan) in getting himself sent off. However that apart we were tremendous!
The future,once again, is bright! The future is

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Christmas Cards

It's all Sir Henry Coles fault! Instead of writing Christmas messages he decided to send a Christmas Card instead! He had helped develop the 'Penny Post' with Rowland Hill and clearly was a man of talent. Talent which taught him how to avoid writing Christmas letters needlessly and his idea, which must have appeared clever at the time, now means we, that is you and I, have to trail through shops full of women to select, buy and post, at great cost, cards to friend (and foe on occasion) alike. Cole thought his card such a good idea that he printed over two thousand of the things. He sold his card at 1/- (a shilling) a time! Remember that in 1843 you would be lucky to earn 15/- a week. (20 shillings to one pound). Clearly the middle class were able to buy, but a quick read (?) of Dickens books reflect real society at that time, at least the bits that spoke to his poverty when young, and 'A Christmas Carol' probably spoke to many clerks who came across it!

I have just returned from being barged around by thoughtless women, and one man out of his depth, intent on looking at EVERY SINGLE CARD before not buying one. I have also looked at every single RELEVANT card and been, on the whole, disappointed. Far too many are slushy, some religious, others just plain unfunny or smut, and that is all too often not funny either. Cards for Mum are the worst. If my mother ever got a card with 'Love for my dear Mother' on the front she would think I had turned funny. Flowery slush is abundant but she has lived 93 years in the real world so she wants something amusing or worth looking at. I tried the 'Just what you want for Christmas - ME!' card once, but that brought a rare degree of sarcasm that need not be repeated. However,'Next year, just try money,' was an oft repeated phrase I noticed. For the younger kids I wanted 'Happy Christmas Brat!' but it appears these are not stocked by any card shop round here. I bet they would sell mind! I think I will suggest this to one of those companies that makes millions from poor suckers like you and me. (Notice that in the UK we can still have 'Happy Christmas' in our cards, not the PC, 'Happy Holidays.' That is what you call a democracy! Until the fascists change it of course!

As for the price! if I wanted to I could pay a fortune for cards, and we do! These folk have us over a barrel. They know that we MUST buy an expensive card for Mum, wife, concubine, daughter, someone important and so on. They realise that if Aunt Jessie sends a card she needs one back, and if we have a business large or small cards (and bribes) MUST be sent to ensure the customer comes back, especially in these world wide recession days, (Thanks for that American Bankers! Enjoy your bonuses!). I discovered however, that simply by not sending cards to those you feel send one to you because you send one to them because they send one to you is a circle that can be broken by 'forgetting' to send them one this year. The next year 'Glory be! you both save the cost as they don't send one because you sent one because they sent one and all are glad. Far too many cards are sent this way, and much dosh can be saved by a Christmas note over the e-mail to many of those you feel may still hope you live well and prosper (is that a biblical phrase, and why are my fingers joining together?) Now I send to those that matter, and in return receive almost no cards back. This, I am constantly being reminded, should tell me something, but I can't think what? When I first got the PC I decided to make my own cards and save money. I ended up paying almost three times the amount I usually spent! Never again!

It is of course nice to receive a good, funny, card stuffed with £20 notes at Christmas, and one year I hope to actually see this happen outwith my cocoa induced dreams. It is nicer to find suitable cards in one shop and avoid trekking around several of the female dominated areas, and they are, pushing aside the one who has clearly died (laughing?) which perusing the stock, and if an appropriate card is found, finding one that is not bent, spat on, or covered in some brats sticky fingerprints! It helps also, I discovered, not to trip over the lassie kneeling at the drawer under the shelving while attempting to replenish the stock. Such language from a lady! I bought a lot of (Cheap) cards from the hospice where my sister died, as I thought this would save money. Oh yes it does, but the kids need their own cards, different from the adults, Mum needs that special card, and then there is another who appears out of the blue and I begin to wonder where the money is going! Sir Henry may well have gone off and bought a stationers after he sold his card, but I would still like to have a word or two about him and his invention. I bet he did this just to encourage folk to use the 'Penny Post,' and by this means rise up the hierarchy at the General Post Office. For myself I hope he got rickets!

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Tarique Ghaffur

Tarique Ghaffur, an assistant commissioner with the Metropolitan police, and Sir Ian Blair in particular, has withdrawn his complaint for racism and accepted an out of court settlement. This unfortunate case leaves many questions unanswered, and I doubt we will see answers.

Was this man suffering racism from his senior colleagues? He had reached the second top level in the Met police, where he had served for 34 years. "In a press conference in August, he claimed he had been sidelined, discriminated against and humiliated in his role as boss of security planning for the 2012 Olympics." Is it possible to believe that the 'Institutional Racism in the Metropolitan Police' is so strong yet he was been in charge of one of the UK's biggest ever security operations. Would someone reach such a level if he had suffered racial discrimination?
After thirty years in the force he discovers racism, surely if it exists he would still be on the ground floor?

Now from my experience of the London police, where a 'macho' culture must exist, I suspect there are some who possess real racist attitudes. However if you are subject to constant abuse by gangs of young blacks and other 'coloured' groupings who build a wall between you and they, is it that unusual? Life for some is made easier if you can identify an enemy. In Northern Ireland it is political or nominally religious, in London it is race. That is so much easier than accepting people as people and life as your problem! I suspect what we have here is not racism in any shape or form, but something much worse, human relations. Sir Ian Blair, from what we can tell, is not a man who inspires confidence in me. I suspect that soon after these two men were introduced to one another s dislike appeared and has grown ever since. Neither appear to be adaptable to the other and a working relationship has not developed. Whether a 'racist' angle existed I doubt, but it may have crept in afterwards, but from which direction?

It has to be said that a man who complains of 'racism' and then accepts a £300,000 pay of and a pension of £!68,000 a year appears to be less interested in 'principle' and more interested in the money! I have no problems with his pension, but if there was a crime, and 'racism' is a crime, it ought to have been given its day before a jury of Londoners. Why was this not allowed? Certainly the cost would have been high, but that is what courts are for, and cost in this case would have been well spent. Cost wise it is cheaper to pay him off, but it leaves the question open as to the Metropolitan police having something to hide as well as Ghaffur being on the make. If there is genuine racism it ought to be exposed, if there is not Ghaffur should get nothing but an early retirement and a reduced pension.

Monday, 24 November 2008


It had been a hard day, a very hard day.
He struggled slowly up the stairs, threw his paperwork on the desk and sank into the chair.
On the sofa Harold grabbed the brandy bottle and gulped deeply.
"Oi!. You're not suppose to do that!" he shouted."Not only is that mine but as a Guardian Angel you don't drink!"
"You are of course right," said Harold, passing over the bottle,"But I am not a 'Guardian Angel,' I am just an 'Angel.' And my role is that of messenger, to bring the bosses word to you." He placed his feet on the small table used as a stool, put his hands over his face and muttered, "It was only when I was sent to you that I realised I had to guard you also. Now I am an alcoholic!"
Taking the bottle from his protector he swigged it down, noticing it was still full. "How do you do that?" he asked.
"None of your business. But after that drive it is a necessary act - for myself!" He groaned and curled up on the sofa.
"You don't need sleep either mate!"
"Not till I met you I didn't murmured Harold."
It had been a hard day. The bug was still hanging around and his concentration was not one hundred percent. Poor Harold must have forced several vehicles to brake and left buses, impatient women drivers and 'white van men,' wondering why. Driving with more confidence, but still without sufficient intelligence he had stalled turning corners, braked too hard, ignored road signs, held up traffic, mistimed roundabouts and really worried the cows in that field!
"The thing to remember," said the instructor," You are going faster, and this shows you are improving." He still wore the crash helmet however, and had grabbed the wheel when that nutter yelled as he passed us. The rain hindered his view, the roads were slippery, and fellow road users remained far closer than the 'two second rule' suggested. Of course the sun came out in between the rain and aimed straight for his eyes. The rear window was smeared with muck and the washer did not work making the rear view mirror useless. Heading home the sun took up position in the same window ad attempted to blind him. On top of this every village was a thousand years old and the roads had not been mended since Henry the second was King of England.
"Do you realise I sweat?" asked Harold shaking. "No other Angel does. Cold sweat every time you go get into the car. I asked for a transfer last week but the boss threatened to transfer me to Montana, so I decided to stay. I can only take so much Country music."
"Lies, all lies." He said as he lay on the floor staring at the ceiling, the road still swimming across his eyes. Mentally his feet pressed the clutch pedal and he found himself glancing to right and left checking non existent mirrors.
"Look." Harold said shock in his voice, "I am getting gray hairs! That's your fault. No other Angel has gray hairs, just me. I will be the only bald angel soon."
"It wasn't that bad."
"Not bad?"
"We lived."
"Only because I stopped the Renault from hitting you on the roundabout."
"I was in the right,he was miles away and had time to brake."
Harold sat upright and stared at him. "You give way to traffic coming from the right. You ignored him and went round the roundabout. No wonder he screamed at you that way."
He knew Harry was correct but decided to check his Highway code, dated 1976, and confirmed what he already knew. "It was near the end of the day, I was tired, a little lack of concentration was to be expected."
Harold groaned the groan of one under stress. "Another lesson next week, and if he passes the test......." His thoughts trailed away. "I may need assistance. I wonder what Michael is doing these days?"" Praise the Lord," he muttered, but there was an element of sarcasm in his voice.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Sunday Morning

As I struggled awake this morning my bleary eyes were greeted by the sight of snow falling and the ground disappearing under a blanket of wet, white, frozen rain. I realised I must stop sleeping in the park and find somewhere warmer. Looking around me, and while brushing the snow of my person I used many examples of Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia, none of which can be broadcast here, as I wished the snow to return to the Artic where it could do some good in fighting 'Global Warming!' Now this brings a thought to the forefront of my addled brain. 'Global Warming,' if it exists, why are we getting colder I ask? It seems to me since the fashion for 'going green' to 'save the planet,' this area has got wetter and colder. and this idea is considered right by most folk of my acquaintance. In fact in recent years the temprature has actually risen, and nothing abnormal can be reported by the folk. Once again our minds eye notices what is not there. A look through historical references to weather will find people complaining that the weather is "Worse than when we were young," and that the summers were "Longer, the sun hotter, than is is today." Lies, all lies! The weather in the British Isles never changes, it is always bad!
The day has been filled with fun! As I went for a bath, it appears the only way to heat myself up, Iset the 'Malware finder to scan. This took about an hour, and I returned when the water began to ice over. The room felt warm then! The burning of my lunch saw me set the AVG (Free) to scan while I attempted to enjoy my gruel. This took over an hour to run and found nothing but cookies from those adverts that fill pages. To be sure I then (foolishly) set 'SpyBot'(Search and destroy) to work. This took nearly FOUR HOURS to complete its journey through the PC! It found one,yes ONE cookie from an advertiser. (We do not collect private information, only information regarding pages visited, they lie) You can imagine the result. I had to do something useful, and in the end search for TV worth watching. Not eating yesterday left me with little energy, and that is a substance that appears to have vanished from my life about twenty years ago. If you find it, plese send it home.
This is good!
I stol...borrowed it from my friend Tom who's blog is well worth a look and is found HERE!

1. Open Notepad
2. Type "Bush hid the facts" (without the quotes)
3. Save it as whatever you like, wherever you like
4. Close notepad and open the file
5. Hmmm.

Hmmm indeed!

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Let's Not Bring That Up Again!

The intention was to make a sausage sandwich rather like the one portrayed above.
It did not take that long, although sausages grill very slowly, and once I had settled down, happily planning the rest of the evening, I realised I had poisoned myself! Now I have little regard for sausages usually as their food content is normally zero, also I have not eaten pig in any form for a long while, yet the first sausage sandwich I make attempts to kill me! I am not paranoid but I do happen to believe the world has it in for me and this latest episode is just one example of the worlds attempts to do me in! The thumb cutting is another and no doubt a poisoned tipped umbrella will be aimed at me within the week! However, weakened though my slender, frail frame may have been, I managed on a rice cake and a coffee until lunchtime, I have almost returned to normality and proper, non- sausage, food has now been taken. Naturally in my weakened state I find it difficult to fulfil my normal Saturday duties so I think I may just lie here listening to Jeff Stelling and the boys getting excited over the football. If I am still alive later I may post properly. I wonder if I called the doctor he would send a nurse.........?

Friday, 21 November 2008

Welsh Farmer

A Welsh farmer is overseeing his animals in a remote part of the Country

when suddenly a brand-new BMW advances out of a dust cloud towards him. The

driver, a young man in a designer suit, Gucci shoes, Ray Ban sunglasses and

YSL tie, leans out the window and asks the farmer, 'If I tell you exactly

how many cows and calves you have in your herd, will you give me a calf?'

The Farmer looks at the man, obviously a yuppie, then looks at his

peacefully grazing herd and calmly answers, 'Reet, why not?'

The yuppie parks his car, whips out his Dell notebook computer, connects it

to his Cingular RAZR V3 cell phone, and surfs to a NASA page on the

Internet, where he calls up a GPS satellite navigation system to get an

exact fix on his location which he then feeds to another NASA satellite that

scans the area in an ultra-high-resolution photo. The young man then opens

the digital photo in Adobe Photoshop and exports it to an image processing

facility in Hamburg , Germany .

Within seconds, he receives an email on his Palm Pilot that the image has

been processed and the data stored. He then accesses a MS-SQL database

through an ODBC connected Excel Spreadsheet with email on his Blackberry

and, after a few minutes, receives a response. Finally, he prints out a

full-color, 150-page report on his hi-tech, miniaturized HP LaserJet printer

and finally turns to the farmer and says, 'You have exactly 1,586 cows and


'Wow That's right. Well, I guess you can take one of my calves,' says the


He watches the young man select one of the animals and looks on amused as

the young man stuffs it into the boot of his car.

Then the farmer says to the young man, 'Listen! if I can tell you exactly

what your business is, will you give me back my calf?'

The young man thinks about it for a second and then says, 'Okay, why not?'

'You work for the British Government', says the farmer.

'Wow! That's correct,' says the yuppie, 'but how did you guess that?'

'No guessing required.' answered the farmer.

'You showed up here even though nobody called you;

you want to get paid for an answer I already knew, to a question I never asked.

You used all kinds of expensive equipment that clearly somebody else paid for,

you tried to show me how much smarter than me you are;

and you don't know a thing about cows ....... this is a herd of sheep.

Now give me my dog back.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

A Wall

I have nothing to say. This is unfortunate as my fingers have got into the habit of bouncing across the keyboard, in no organised order, and keep doing so even if there is nothing to post, not e-mails to write and no begging letters to invent. so here is a picture of a wall.

I like this wall. In fact, since that Bolton steeplejack and his travels around British heritage, that is the industry of the past, mostly Victorian, I have been fascinated by brickwork. The Victorian brickie must never had a day off work! Buildings by the thousand were built as cities expanded, bridges for the railways, factories and countless work projects by government and local councils gave an opportunity to work anywhere in the nation. This church wall for instance is red brick, (and how many red bricks were used in the south of England?) with darker bricks used to create a simple pattern. Rail bridges nearby were built at awkward angles and the brickwork bends as the bridge crosses the line, and in many homes delicate towers and pillars are built in to the building as attractive pattern or to fit into awkward corners. The skill of the brickie from the past is without equal, today the brickie has a simple job as cost does not allow for the exhibition brickwork of the past. The brickie in late Victorian Britain got into the habit of joining with others for protection and help. All artisns did the same, paying sixpence or so a week into a fund, and when sick enabled to withdraw a few shilings a week to keep alive. Usually such gatherings occured in public houses which often became known as the 'Bricklayers Arms.'

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Company Christmas Party Arrangements


FROM: Pauline, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: 1st November 2008
RE: Christmas Party
I'm happy to inform you that the company Christmas Party will take place
on December 23rd, starting at noon in the private function room at the Grill
House. There will be a cash bar and plenty of drinks! We'll have a small
band playing traditional carols...please feel free to sing along.
And don't be surprised if the MD shows up dressed as Santa Claus!
A Christmas tree will be lit at 1.00 p.m. Exchange of gifts among employees
can be done at that time; however, no gift should be over £10.00 to make the
giving of gifts easy for everyone's pockets. This gathering is only for employees!
The MD will make a special announcement at the Party.
Merry Christmas to you and your Family.
------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- ---------
--------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- ---
FROM: Pauline, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: 2nd November 2008
RE: Holiday Party
In no way was yesterday's memo intended to exclude our Jewish employees.
We recognize that Hanukkah is an important holiday, which often coincides
with Christmas, though unfortunately not this year. However, from now on we're
calling it our 'Holiday Party'. The same policy applies to any other employees who
are not Christians. There will be no Christmas tree or Christmas carols sung.
We will have other types of music for your enjoyment.
Happy now?
Happy Holidays to you and your family.
------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- ---------
--------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- ---
FROM; Pauline, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: 6th November 2008
RE: Holiday Party
Regarding the note I received from a member of Alcoholics Anonymous
requesting a non-drinking didn't sign your name. I'm happy to
accommodate this request, but if I put a sign on a table that reads, "AA
Only", you wouldn't be anonymous anymore!!!! How am I supposed to handle
this? Somebody? Forget about the gift exchange, no gift exchange allowed now
since the Union Officials feel that £10.00 is too much money and Management
believe £10.00 is a little cheap.
------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- ---------
--------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- ---

FROM: Pauline, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: 7th November 2008
RE: Holiday Party
What a diverse group we are! I had no idea that December 20th begins the
Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which forbids eating and drinking during
daylight hours. There goes the party! Seriously, we can appreciate how a
luncheon at this time of year does not accommodate our Muslim employees'
beliefs, perhaps the Grill House can hold off on serving your meal until
the end of the party - or else package everything up for you to take home in a
little foil doggy bag. Will that work? Meanwhile, I've arranged for members
of Weight Watchers to sit farthest from the dessert buffet and pregnant
women will get the table closest to the toilets, Gays are allowed to sit
with each other, Lesbians do not have to sit with gay men, each will have
their own table. Yes, there will be flower arrangements for the gay men's
table too. To the person asking permission to cross dress - no cross
dressing allowed. We will have booster seats for short people. Low fat
food will be available for those on a diet. We cannot control the salt used in
the food we suggest those people with high blood pressure taste the food
first. There will be fresh fruits as dessert for Diabetics; the restaurant
cannot supply "No Sugar" desserts. Sorry! Did I miss anything?!?! ?!?!?!
------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- ---------
--------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- ---
FROM: Pauline, Human Resources Director
TO: All F****** Employees
DATE: 8 November 2008
RE: The F******* Holiday Party.
Vegetarian pricks I've had it with you people !!! We're going to keep this
party at the Grill House whether you like it or not, so you can sit
quietly at the table furthest from the "grill of death", as you so quaintly put
it, you'll get your f****** salad bar, including organic tomatoes, But you
know tomatoes have feelings too, They scream when you slice them. I've heard
them scream. I'm hearing the scream right NOW!!
I hope you all have a rotten holiday, drink drive and die.
The Bitch from HELL!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!! !
------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- ---------
--------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- ---
FROM: John, Acting Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: 9th November 2008
RE: Pauline Lewis and Holiday Party
I'm sure I speak for all of us in wishing Pauline a speedy recovery, and
I'll continue to forward your cards to her. In the meantime, the Management
has decided to cancel our Holiday Party and instead, give everyone the
afternoon of the 23rd December off with full pay.


Tuesday, 18 November 2008

How to be an Idiot, and repeat it.

So there I was the other day cutting the bread. It was a three day old loaf, and beginning to get a little stale. Having bought it because it was going cheap I tolerated its somewhat hard exterior quite happily. However while slicing away I inadvertently cut into my thumb. This I thought to myself was a mistake. I was right. There then followed an interesting experience of searching for an Elastoplast to stick over it. In the cupboard, the one with those red marks all over it, I found a box with a few ageing plasters there. With the cut being on my thumb as I attempted to open the paper in which the plaster was enclosed I discovered what disability means. These things cannot be opened with one hand, and the lack of a thumb makes life impossible! If you wonder if God exists or whether we evolved from monkeys question the thumb. Without a thumb we could do nothing, how lucky one evolved! After a short fight I won because my teeth are better than the paper and soon I was placing the plaster in such a manner as to keep my thumb together. Relief all round!

The next day I had been using a lot of water, in spite of the cost, for the monthly wash, and in the course of this the plaster went AWOL. However I found this could be beneficial as air is good for minor emergencies. (I know it is minor as that woman at the ambulance station would not send paramedics, and indeed could be said to have been somewhat rude about it!) During the day I had occasion to slice one of the onions I found after the market was closing the other day. Would you believe I caught the knife on the previous wound! Once again, but clearly practiced, I bled onto everything and reached for the plasters. However this time I had replaced the ageing plasters with a box of new ones from Tesco! This proved even harder to open! Bleeding profusely, it seemed to me, I used one hand, half a hand, and several teeth to attempt to prise the plaster free but it stuck to the paper! I thought maybe the paper was meant to be there, but no, it was mere spite on behalf of the (probably Chinese) maker!

I am reminded of this now as that plaster has just walked away from me and I am also reminded as to the reason I never made the attempt to become a nurse. I wonder if I can convince the NHS to send a nurse round to check me out? If they did this could be useful as she can do the ironing that has lain there for yonks at the same time. Well, she is a woman isn't she?

Monday, 17 November 2008

Things Folk Believe and Where it Comes From

I was looking at a picture of a family group. Well not exactly a group as they were nicely posed either side of a tree. Mum one side with one child, dad and second child coming out from behind the other side. This reminded me of a comment passed by someone in the family many years ago. A newly married couple were pictured leaving a church, but there was a large pillar between them. The comment concerned the 'fact' that they said "Couples posed like that means the marriage will not last!" This reminded me of a similar thought from a lass I once worked alongside. (In her case the word 'work' need not be taken literally). My colleague Mary and I were in our usual positions. I working away, Mary looking for her glasses which had once again disappeared under the pile of needless paper in front of her. The door flew open. Standing in the door the girls grumpy, and somewhat loud voice intoned, 'Mary! It's true what they say. It's in this magazine! If you have flowers in the room when pregnant your baby will be born with no sense of smell!" I forget her name, although I do remember her very attractive legs, as I also remember how Mary and I sat open mouthed, but not too surprised by this announcement.

Where the first comment came from I have no idea, but I have rarely seen a divorce caused by being photographed separately after marriage, but I can think of one or two other reasons. The second came from, or was confirmed by this magazine, whichever it was, and reveals just how important it is to get confirmation of opinions, especially from such a source. There are numerous daft opinions flowing around in our minds, I once believed the moon was made of cheese, but education and millions of US dollars have proved me wrong. However we have a terrible tendency to believe what is written, and when questioned will tell folks, "It said so in the paper" as if any paper available in the UK (or elsewhere) is holy writ. I can assure you they are not. What gets put into any paper is what sells, not what is fact, and what gets put into some women's magazines would appear to have little basis in fact. Myths are encouraged by senseless gossip and emotions used instead of brain power. Brain power which I realise is fading as it is well past my bedtime and I am off for my Cocoa.

Sunday, 16 November 2008


This has been a bad week. Never have I felt so bad about, well most things. It's fair to say I just gave up on Saturday, rather like the Heart of Midlothian so often do! One of these weeks when there was no point in striving any more, nothing was worth the effort and all was going wrong. In fact nothing was going anywhere at all. Only one good moment shone out, managing, in very heavy rain, to drive around that town and the narrow streets without collecting any more old wifeys. Then it was back to nothingness, a kind of Nirvana but based on reality not empty philosophy. Things were so depressing I put my trust in the Lottery, several times, and thoughts of how to spend the cash filled my mind. However a quick check of houses with indoor swimming pools noted they started at around £495,000, so that went on the back burner. if I win I may have to move elsewhere. I did note the house next door to 'Arry Redknapp, down there in Swanage has been reduced in price to a mere £7,600,000. If I give it another couple of months it may be reduced again! However this remained one of those weeks when nothing tasted, rather like my 'Flanders Stew,' which for some reason this week appeared to have too much Castor oil contained within. At least it kept me on the move! We all go through bad times, sometimes caused by our stupidity, sometimes by illness, sometimes caused by others, but this was an interesting and unfortunate experience for me which arose suddenly last Saturday morning when I was out looking for fallen coins. Still, as is the way, some parts of this downturn were enjoyable, however harmful and wrong they may have been! Dysfunction, I find, is common when reality sinks, and when in such a mood, reality appears awfully close.

I have had little care in writing anything, which will please folks everywhere, and the football lost all interest for me. Having spent almost fifty years following the Hearts this ought to have happened long ago, however a cynicism is bred into Hearts men and this stopped that happening. Naturally at this time I had to explain to the dole folks what I was doing re finding work. "Nothing." I said cheerfully. "Right," said Gladys, "I will stop your payments." She then shuffled some papers and came back to me, "Forget that, It takes too long to fill out those forms." I like her, she has been around too long not to understand how life is for folks like me. She still gave me the usual 'handbagging' mind! Today I wake to a clearer mind and more rain belting down. Bang goes my exercise of walking up the old railway. I have spent the week lounging around, staring at the ceiling, stuffing myself with whatever came to hand, and now the weight has returned, so quickly! I walked around a lot yesterday in a vain effort to lose some, but Saturday brings out the dog walkers and the quite old line was crowded with families and dogs, even worse,with their children, the families, not the dogs.

I even thought about cycling up there again this morning, that is I thought about it again, not cycled again, if you see what I mean. I often think of doing things and for some unknown reason It never gets done. Nasty folks, families, friends, passersby, tend to use words like 'Laziness,' or 'Sloth,' or 'indolence,' but as I don't know what that means I will take it as a compliment,and go back to staring at the ceiling. It is indeed funny how folks often misinterpret what one says, at least they misinterpret and misunderstand my words and actions. If they understood me correctly she would never have called on her big brother that time would she? I didn't wait to see him. There is a strange phenomenon in that what I say, or write, is not what you hear or read! Ask any preacher or politician and they will confirm that folks hear what they want to hear, and misinterpret, often willingly, to their own advantage. We all do it, usually innocently. I am of course, positive that my readers will understand my words here without any confusion arising.

That's funny, there is a police car drawing up outside.....

Charmed I'm Sure

That constant pain in my sid....friend Mulled Madness, has presented this award to me, one who does not agree either with awards or with the 'Tag' that follows. In this case I need to present this to eight, yes eight (*) friends. Well I assure you that in all my twenty four years on this earth I have never had eight friends, unless you count the motley collection on that supporters bus we don't speak off. Friends may not be the word to use their, acquaintances may be preferable! However I add this to the others (I say humbly) I have received from others duped by my scrawls, and pass this to other charmers, whether they like it or not.

They naturally will detest this interruption of their happy lives, but can I make it clear that Mulled Madness is responsible. Feel free to pass on your complaints to him.

Scottish Diary, and their two charming ladies.
Mom's Crazy Life. For not being a crazy Mom at all.
Sicarii. Just to annoy him
As the Crackhead Crumbles. For the same reason.
The Bible Thumper, for returning to posting once again.
Crotchety, who is far from crotchety in my view.
Auld Reekie Rants,
who for reasons I fail to understand has never received any awards.
Channel of Healing, for her sterling service.

And may God bless all who sail in these awards.....

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

The Thick Gray Mist in my Mind

My mind is dead. There are no words flowing from the dead centre of the little gray cells, and scouting through the many news networks reveals nothing of any note upon which to pontificate or rant. There is news of course, much of it banal or routine, and it is covered by all channels and being of little worth just makes the adverts a welcome relief. However I doubt I could be bothered wasting the keyboards time if it were not for my fingers desperation to write something. Before I switched the clunking PC on my fecund digits began typing words I had not yet thought off. I consider this somewhat worrying! This, to be honest, is considered worrying by others also, especially when the aforesaid digits began doing this in the dole office the other day. I got one or two strange looks I can tell you! However, had I still dwelt in the conurbation called 'London,' not one soul would have noticed, and if they did you would not have been able to tell they were aware of strange behaviour. That's the London way!

To enable some spark of intellectual endeavour I slurped, and spilled all down me when the phone rang suddenly, wrong number of course, coffee. This brightens the mind, encourages a more 'wakened' approach, and helped not a jot! It did mean another fleece for the wash however. I have always thought of coffee as an American drink. This is because
'Wagon Train,' and all those other cowboy programmes that lied to us about 'how the west was won.' TV cops, always in New York or San Francisco it seems to me, (don't they have crime in backwoods America?) always appeared to drink coffee, and for some reason none of them ever appear to finish the stuff. I imagine there are cleaning ladies picking up cups half full of dregs and muttering foul words in the direction of the users. Possibly being America they may just smile and mutter,'Have a good day ya'aall.' But I doubt it. However those Continental chaps, you know those ones who speak in unintelligible languages, like the French and Germans, they drink coffee. At quiet times, and in quiet area during the two wars, it was known that on occasion British troops have been known to swap 'Bully Beef (corned beef to you) for German 'Kafe,' along with the other delights their respective 'NAAFI's' had to offer. Whether such acts helped or hindered the war effort I am not sure. I wonder if coffee only really became popular here after the war when 'instant' coffee became available, and folks wages also began to increase. Now I believe we actually drink a little more coffee than tea. maybe that is why we are becoming more highly strung? I doubt we could live without 'Nescafe' these days. While some say the lessening of tax on tea powered the industrial revolution there is no doubt Britain would collapse if coffee was with held. Delirium Tremors throughout out the land would be the result, and 'Cold Turkey' would not just be for the days following Christmas!

Coffee failed me, and my mind remains dull and covered with a thin gray mist. I say thin as this shows how a clearing has appeared. It was a thick fog for the past few days and any effort of thought caused an ache which I wished to avoid in the manner I use to prevent myself being cornered by those who proffer collecting cans in my direction on the street. Now that reminds me of a story in tonight's 'Edinburgh Evening News.' (Now removed as it contained the picture which could interfere with any court case) Many shops sell the Red Poppies on behalf of the
'British Legion,' and several have been swiped from such shops. One enterprising shopkeeper has posted the picture from his CCTV camera in an effort to trace the two miserable swine who he reckons nicked the cash. Good for him I say! Not that I went into a shop to buy one mind. In fact the only things that I could write about through the dense mass that comprises my brain was concerning the Great War! This is because I have read a great deal about it, and TV has gone mad over it the past few days. Repeats of many programmes, most of which I have on video already (ask an old person re 'video' kids), and I am already ploughing through some 40 editions of a magazine which was produced in 1938 aimed at old soldiers. 'Twenty Years After' was written for those soldiers unable to take a trip back to the old battlefields, places none would ever forget, and 'then and now' pics were shown for comparison. Excellent stuff, but I cannot scribble about the war again, even if the brain is lifeless. So having nothing to say I will go and lie on the floor, stare at the ceiling and cogitate on the reasons for the dearth of words.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

November 11th, 90 Years On

Ninety years ago today the Great War was brought to an end. Since the summer of 1914 the armies of most of Europe had bled one another to death. While to day we look back in horror and blame those we regard as responsible we tend to forget that the majority of the combatants went willingly, or with remarkably little encouragement. Conscription in the UK did not begin until well into 1916 and by then over two and a half million men had volunteered! Patriotism was high at that time and all nations followed the 'spirit of the air' at that time. The generals are blamed for the conditions in which the men fought, and Haig in particular is blamed for the deaths of 750,000 UK citizens, plus 250,000 from the Empire. The reason for that is simple, the politicians, and Lloyd George in particular, blamed the generals to escape blame themselves! Haig in fact wrote in 1909 that the coming war with Germany would be a war of attrition. he demanded an army of nearly one million men, by 1914 the British forces were not even half that number. The Germans, with a large standing army and a vast conscripted reserve force,also possessed a huge number of guns. and guns were needed in this war. Britain did not develop a large artillery until 1916. Nothing ever changes.

Sure it was an awful war, sure those who served never forgot the sights around them, sure it should never have happened, but it was always going to happen. Human nature being what it is a major war was inevitable. Ambition, greed, pride and stupidity come together to produce carnage, and it is not always the leaders who suffer. However in this war all did. generals and MPs suffered and died, as did their sons, Prime Minister Asquith lost a son, Ludendorff the great German leader lost his stepson near the end, and this almost unhinged him! The world, they say, is a different place after September 11th, it was a very different place after November 11th 1918. We benefit from the social changes of that time, and the inevitable following war twenty years later. We ought to appreciate those that endured in those days.

Monday, 10 November 2008


The idea of 'Uniting for refugees' is a good one, although I doubt anybody in power will pay the slightest attention! Certainly recent fighting in the Democratic Congo has resulted in an avalanche of 'international action.' But will it last now this has gone from the news? Over the last few years some five million folk have been killed in the fighting there. That is more than the population of Scotland, yet do we care? It has hardly ever been mentioned in the media and the refugees in that vast land, with the largest rain forest after Brazil's, have been given less attention than those in Darfur, and they have once again gone from the headlines.

While we in the west sit in comfort, stuffing ourselves with unhealthy food and complaining we don't have all we want, but some in this world would be glad for what we throw away. I believe it was the United Nations which announced that nearly a thousand million people would be starving in this world this year, almost the population of India! Do we care? To be forced from home, lose all you have except what you can carry, suffer injury, rape, and possible death, are not things expected in the west these days. Refugees have not been seen here since 1945, and there were many millions then. Without the United States and its vast resources Europe would not have survived. Should we not care for those elsewhere in this position? Actually we had some refugees in the Balkans not so long ago, I almost forgot them! However there were less refugees than in the Congo, but only because so many just got shot!

The BBC have an excellent report on refugees world wide for those interested.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Tom Gracie

19024 Cpl Tom Gracie was a Glasgow born footballer. Born 1889 he became a meat salesman to trade but his footballing talent soon had him a place with Shawfield Juniors. From there he progressed to Strathclyde F.C. and then in 1907 he signed for Airdrieonians. A year later young Tam was moving to Greenock Morton and from there his talent impressed the large English club Everton while he was standing as a reserve for the England v Scotland game. He appeared to fail to make the breakthrough, so much so he went across the town, or is it park, to play for arch rivals Liverpool, now one of the giants in the game. At the end of season 1913/14 the Heart of Midlothian had a financial problem. The new stand was nearing completion and the club required money to pay for this, the only course was to sell, and the big name to leave was Percy Dawson! The high scoring forward joined Blackburn Rovers for £2500 and Hearts replaced him with Tom Gracie. Money being tight, somewhat like the directors, they found their man for a mere £400 at Liverpool! His 'scientific' football was too good for the Liverpool side,and he felt 'unappreciated there.' However Tom fitted in well with the Hearts players and in what was hoped to be a championship winning side he became Hearts record goal scorer with 29 league goals in season 1914/15. His total was 34 goals from 39 appearances, a bargain buy! His scoring skill earned him a international cap against the Irish league in 1915.

By November 1914 the early surge of enthusiasm for enlistment had began to fade a little. Returning wounded brought news of the reality of war but the energetic patriotism of those who were not able to enlist grew apace! There were many who frowned on those who played football while others died for their king and country just over the channel. Letters filled the pages from aged patriots desperate to enlist but unable because of, well anything that suited them really. Yet their delight in the war against the German impertinence did not diminish. Girls gave out white feathers in the streets to young men in civvies, other blatantly snubbed them, and all the while pressure built on the footballers going about their business. It takes about a year to train an army, yet many had enlisted yearning to fight immediately, others wished all available men to join them, and eventually this pressure told. Some Hearts men had already gone off to war. One or two were Territorial's or reservists, others had enlisted straight away, along with friends or family. Then Sir George McCrae decided to enquire if the Hearts men would join the battalion he was raising. After 'persuasion,' several did, others were soon to find a place elsewhere in the army.

Tom Gracie enrolled in McCrae's 16th Royal Scots, and along with the rest of the squad endangered their clubs very real Championship chances. Military training, much of which involved long route marches, by seasons end led to some players suffering so much from blisters and other problems they played in boots two sizes to big, stuffed with several pairs of socks! Celtic however claimed the title with hearts a mere four point behind, this when Celtic players had not enrolled, and Hearts players trained to fight a war, was an extraordinary success!
For Tam this was only half the trouble. He was in fact very ill, and frequently rose from his sick bed to score goals for the Hearts. The situation must have been desperate during 1915 yet the truth was kept from the rest of his mates, on manager John MacCartney knew. While the battalion was stationed at Ripon, Yorkshire, a major training area, late in 1915 Tom was sent home to Glasgow because of his ill health. He died in Stobhill Hospital, Glasgow on 23rd October 1915. He was twenty six, and had the football world at his feet. His great goalscoring success was even more remarkable when the truth came out, Gracie had been suffering from leukaemia!

He was laid to rest in Craigton Cemetery, Glasgow. His brother had been killed recently at Loos, and his brother in Law in Gallipoli. Sadly typical of so many Scots families at that time.
When people speak of 'hero's' or 'brave men' I suggest Tom Gracie is included. To play so well and score so frequently when enduring army life and serious disease must rank as 'heroic' in a manner few others have ever achieved. On the anniversary of the armistice, let us remember this man particularly, while remembering others who sacrificed their lives on the field.

Saturday, 8 November 2008


Naturally, when I awoke yesterday morning I was looking forward to a US Election less day. However the first thing on the news was the Glenrothes by election! here colour did not matter even if the Labour Party are run by an English government, no one hates the imperialist, domineering, vile, thugs, instead Scotland just wants its correct place in the world and to be treated equally in the Union, or else end it. There were no long queues waiting for hours, and certainly not in that rain, and no confusing election papers required, just put an 'X' in the box next to your man's name and there, your done! The media thought this important enough to fill the day with English based commentators telling us what this means for Scotland, but mostly Gordon Brown. Thanks a bunch, now can we go on? Well no actually.

The by election was seen as a chance for the Scottish National party to win another seat at Westminster just so they could unsettle Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and get up the nose of the Englishmen found in the House of Commons. They are unhappy that Scots should vote on English issues, but ignore the voting on Scots ones which have gone on in that place for three hundred years now. By the way 'Hypocrite' is a word not allowed under House of Commons rules. Anyway what chance had the Nationalists got at Glenrothes? Situated in the 'Kingdom of Fife,' an area famed for its coal, mines have been worked here since the sixteen hundreds, and staunchly Labour for much off that time. In 1935 Wullie Gallagher was elected the M.P for West Fife, and became one of only two Communist members of parliament! He was elected member for East Fife in 1945 but lost out in the 1950 elections. The mines were dreadful places to work in the early years of the twentieth century, my uncles worked down there and never allowed their sons to follow them, they were forced into a trade of any description to avoid 'going down the pit.' Naturally the Independant Labour Party and the Communists were strong in Cowdenbeath where they lived, and a fair equality for all was the watchword, and reflected they way they lived. Doors were never locked in mining villages and towns. The mine owners were greedy hard hearted men and the general strike of 1926 left mining towns bereft for six long months. Winston Churchill was the man responsible for bringing the strike to an end, although fellow members of the Trades Union Congress had run back to work within a very short time, and even Churchill began to hate the mine owners. At that time he suggested nationalising the mines, an idea rejected by his fellow cabinet members, but when back in power in 1950 he made no attempt at denationalisation. No 'Thatcherite' was Churchill, he believed the workers ought to be well treated unlike the mad Baroness!

With such a history throughout Fife it leaves a mark and there was little chance of the SNP actually winning. Good work by Labour brought a result, rain kept others indoors, and a fear that the breakup of the Union may not pay worried others. I note today that the media are struggling for any worth while news. They will be glad the football is on and that can fill up the spaces!

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Obama. Only One Question.

How long before some white, right wing, nutter shoots him?

Monday, 3 November 2008

Job Interview

Leith Hospital

Lunchtime saw me wandering through the damp streets to the local cottage hospital (not in Leith, that one is now a block of trendy flats) for a job interview. Naturally I found this exciting and worrying at the same time. Exciting as I have had few opportunities for selling myself, except to some passing Ishmaelites and I don't want to go into that! Anyway, I was looking forward to this but a bit worried that they may mistake me as capable of actually being able to do the work! That would never do! An ex postman already works there and has explained how unhappy he is at the bloodsucking approach they have to his job. This from a man not afraid to work at that! However I went along rather hoping they were developing the staff numbers as a new hospital is under construction at the moment. Alas this was not the case and the work was rather as I had expected.

Still I endured the interview, conducting myself as the lass at the dole office had insisted, no chatting up the girl (it is always a girl interviewing! Sexism reigns in NHS HR Depts), fat chance of that with these two! Age and fat being against them I treated them as my sister, although she is skinny. The questions were not from the heart, they were written down and notes on each answer scribbled alongside. While appearing efficient I could not help thinking this limits the individual asking the questions, no room for thought here. I reckon these two could think for themselves but HR will not allow this. HR, Human Resources, it used to be Personnel but modernising the name helps raise their profile and make them feel important. So far I have rarely been impressed with HR folks understanding of the work they are recruiting for. Maybe I am just cynical? Obeying instructions I answered politely, avoided lies, although I was told to 'develop' my situation, this I refuse as I attempt to avoid deception, even though this does not always prove popular, and even smiled when appropriate. They were friendly and courteous and have already decided my knee is not up to it. This they proved by referring this to the Occupational folk.

Apart from a nurse who modelled herself on the Hattie Jaques 'Matron' character from 'Carry on Doctor,' even attempting to develop a suitable build, the people were as expected. The receptionist was sour, and failed to speak a work, why do they employ menopausal women for these jobs? The lass dishing out the patients meals never saw me, I declined to purloin anything from that trolley, the patients I saw were oblivious to my existence. I noted the sign to the 'Maternity' unit and wondered how many 'Essex Girls' were to be found visiting there. One suspects their mothers and grannies may accompany them, quite nice until you notice 'Granny' is in her early thirties. The hospital is aged now. Once ideal for the town it now fails to meet the needs and the new building is badly needed. Small local hospitals may be expensive, but in small towns these are required and the cost is paid back in the comfort brought to the townsfolk by its existence. Not that the 'suits' care for anything but targets and money now!

Will I get an offer? No! But it was worth wasting their time and imagining what work was like once again. Of course if they offer me the job there will be trouble!

Sunday, 2 November 2008


Please, please, please hurry up and vote!
Just get your election off our TV!!!!!

Have mercy!!!!!!!

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Alexander Selkirk

The BBC website has a report of archeologists digging around attempting to find evidence of Alexander Selkirks stay on a deserted Island in the days of long ago. I wonder if they have yet found the correct island? As a child Alex was a right little brat, and when around twelve years of age he ran away to sea to avoid trouble with the Kirk Session. He then spent some years developing his sailing talents and became important to the ships in which he served. Lower Largo in Fife, like most coastal villages of the time, was a fishing port, no doubt he learned his trade the hard way in the Firth of Forth and the North Sea. However falling out with the man in charge is not a good idea. Becoming worried about the condition of the boat, damaged after a stramash with Spanish vessels, he was put ashore, at his own request, on an island. Some say this was San Juan Bautista, now called 'Robinson Crusoe island.'

He was to remain their alone for four years and four months. No ships approached bar two Spanish vessels. Handing himself over to them would have been more dangerous at that time than remaining isolated. He survived by killing goats and making use of what he could gather round about. He had a bible a gun, some gunpowder and little else. The complete works of Shakespear luckily for him, were not yet available! Eventually he was picked up, by the man who dumped him there. he returned home but could not settle down, once again he returned to the seafaring life. Eventually dying of fever of the coast of Africa. He was buried at sea.

Daniel Defoe, the English spy, not only worked to force Scotland into an uncalled for union with England but stole Selkirks story, told by others, and turned it into the tale of 'Robinson Crusoe.'
Never trust an Englishman! The links provide more details of Selkirks story, with the usual mixture of inconsistances and differences. It's make your mind up time! The basic story is indeed true, and the experience is not one most of us would enjoy, unless too many Soap Operas drive you into it of course. Whetehr this is the island is not possible for me to say, and while material from the correct period have been discovered it is as yet thin evidence. Many ships, including privateers, stopped of on the islands to gather provisions.

Tours to the Island are available from this, and other, organisations. The rich among you may fancy this.

Alexander Selkirk

Woodes Rogers, A Cruising Voyage round the World

Alexander Selkirk