Tuesday, 27 January 2009


Every week I begin by attempting to get fit. By the end of the week I feel good and within days I am overcome by weariness and the 'bug' feeling. This lasts for days and then I am ready to start again, but always starting from the beginning I find. To that end I walked out in the cold sunshine this morning, and after sleeping that off, I went out again this afternoon. It was almost like Spring! The sun shone, the sky was blue and people almost smiled as they passed. Wandering along the old railway I noticed this squirrel happily sitting, or was he posing, on top of this cut down tree just off the line. he appeared to be doing nothing but questioning the meaning of life, or maybe wondering where All the branches had gone more like. Poor lad, it was probably one of his favourite hang outs and now it's gone! There has been a lot of work on the vegetation on the line in recent days, and though this tree is in a private garden the squirrels must be wondering about their hide outs. How lovely to walk in the sunshine, to even see a few flying insects, and hear the birds in the trees. A robin and a thrush sang for me as I passed by. Mind you, if I could speak thrush I may be disillusioned by what he was actually saying about me of course! A good afternoon! However I am knackered now. How come I am so unfit?

This is the river from which the town gets its name. Now from our window in Edinburgh I can look over the Firth of Forth, and the sight of that majestic Firth speaks to me of what a river is like. In fact the young ladies on Scottish Diary have some excellent pictures of the Firth of Forth on their Flicker widget. Well worth a look! However, when I consider what I was brought up with and look into this dirty brown stream I find it hard to call this a 'river.' This is no more than a wee burn to me, and when you look you see it has actually overflowed and flooded the land all around, well a wee bit anyway. Further along the reeds and flooded area would make a great place for kids to play. I suspect neurotic mum's and social service staff would object.

When we drove around on Monday we passed many fields on the borders with Suffolk which were flooded, some over a wide area. The rain has not been excessive but the water floods down through the fields, leaving a dirty brown river full of chemicals and farmers waste I suspect. Kevin, my instructor, kept suggesting they dig barriers to control the flood as it happens every year. However I don't believe water is that keen to be controlled. Far too many houses are built round here on flood plains, in one area the houses have a form of 'stilts' 20 foot high under the foundations just to keep them above the possible flood! How daft is that? The drive was in fog and sunshine, what horrible conditions! So bad that even the drivers round here behaved well! I have booked the theory test fr the 10th and then, if I pass, I will book the actual driving test.
I am on my knees now!

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Rabbie Burns 250th Anniversary

Rabbie Burns has long been Scotland's favourite bard. This year commemorates the 250th anniversary of his birth. A brief life is given here, and a fuller description of his poetry and all can be found on this excellent site.

Here is one of his most successful poems.

Fareweel to a' our Scottish fame,
Fareweel our ancient glory;
Fareweel ev'n to the Scottish name,
Sae fam'd in martial story.
Now Sark rins over Solway sands,
An' Tweed rins to the ocean,
To mark where England's province stands-
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!

What force or guile could not subdue,
Thro' many warlike ages,
Is wrought now by a coward few,
For hireling traitor's wages.
The English stell we could disdain,
Secure in valour's station;
But English gold has been our bane-
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!

O would, or I had seen the day
That Treason thus could sell us,
My auld grey head had lien in clay,
Wi' Bruce and loyal Wallace!
But pith and power, till my last hour,
I'll mak this declaration;
We're bought and sold for English gold-
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Now I'm not one to Complain! However....

Watching this man traipsing over the countryside I feel I must object! For several years now he has been walking along, in all weathers, with a large brolly sticking out of his knapsack, looking over his shoulder. Why? This man has covered most of the British Isles in recent years, for 'Map Man,' 'Coast,' and 'Great British Journeys.'(The last now available as a book, probably the others are also.) The outstanding feature of these programmes is that he never remains still for a moment. If he is not wandering over a pathway unused since Queen Victoria died looking over his shoulder and talking into the camera, he is climbing something, crossing a stream, cycling, or (his favourite surely) in some form of water borne vehicle, paddling happily into the storm! Why does he never stand still? Even when he does stop to converse with an 'expert' on the way the camera is moving at all times. Blurred images are seen as an important part of explaining history (oh yeah?) shaky camera work is helping us understand why he is cycling an 19th century bike over a deep, fast flowing river. Worse, all these daft, trendy ideas are seen in the other programmes also. I have news for you TV people - it doesn't work!

Just stand still and look at the camera and appear intelligent and knowledgeable. Talking to a camera behind you makes you look desperate or daft, possibly both! Blurred images tell us you spend too much time with kids at art college and not enough time talking to your audience. And while I am at it, when the hero meets an expert why oh why do they shake hands? This programme has been researched for months ahead, cameras have talking hours to get the lighting set 'just so,' and all we see is a practiced, surprised, meeting prepared last March!
Just get on with it!

Actually I really like these sorts of programmes. They are worth so much more than the constant diet of pap that fills the screen. Soaps and antique programmes, more soaps and house programmes, another few crime dramas - which are just soaps, and more soaps fill the screen day after day! Crane at least gives us something different that takes us out of ourselves and shows us the world around us, and those who have passed by already. Such things should be memorable for the content, not the enthusiastic daftie presenting it!

To fill time while worrying about the football results today I intend to bake some of these 'Oat Rounds' following (almost) this recipe. My version may differ in that I am incompetent, however in past time I have found these nourishing and cheap oat bics well worth a try! The recipe is simple, it has to be, and found here! Oats reduce cholesterol among other things and were used by Scots raiders in time past to keep ahead of the English knights. By carrying oats in a bag, mixing it with water and heating it over a fire (they carried a small metal tray with them) they had their basic supper. Knowing how to live of the land they rampaged through the murderous English taking back what had been stolen by the thieving neighbours. English knights tried this with flour and found it turned mouldy when contacting the horses sweat. (It was kept just behind the saddle). Oats did not suffer this, and once again Scots guile defeated English thuggery. Oats gives you brains. Good eh?

last January British Gas raised its prices by 35%. This, they said, was because of the cost price to them of Russian gas. In spite of a reduction of such gas prices of some 50% in recent days British Gas have now announced, as if we are to rejoice, a reduction in prices of some 10% - at the end of March! March, as you will appreciate, is when Spring begins to show itself and heating tends to get turned off. The words 'greedy,' 'grasping,' cheating and, in spite of Conservative lovers everywhere, 'nationalisation,' comes to mind. With the credit crunch biting hard, unemployment soaring, and business costs rising high, these privatised utilities are getting rich on the backs of those that can least afford it. My gas costs have gone up with each bill, and my usage has gone down! How can we avoid using gas when the temperature in some place was minus 6 degrees last night? The fields are white with frost this morning and the only heat was found when a British Gas director passed by. He was rubbing his hands together so gleefully the frost disappeared from the field! It is time these folks read the book of Amos!

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Scottish Holiday

I don't normally post video's, but for those wishing to see Scotland I thought this one helpful.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Tuesday Morning

It was dark when I rose this morning. So very dark I could see nothing whatever. I stumbled around getting dressed and clambered through towards the coffee. Fumbling around in the dark I ended up with tea as I could not see where the coffee was to be found. I managed to switch on the wireless, Radio 4's man on the spot was standing in the freezing cold talking about Obama. I changed to 5Live where his colleague was on the other side of the road discussing those who gather to watch the inauguration. Still in the dark I bumped into things spilling the tea while making for the PC. I changed the radio to the BBC World Service where their man was talking to those visiting Washington. I groped for the remote and changed channel to 'TalkSport,' where a taxi driver indicated the problems that Manchester City had in recruiting Kaka was down to the US election of Obama. I turned to the CD and played Mozart. Suddenly, as I switched on the screen a light came on in my head. It was not dark after all, I had just forgotten to open my eyes!

It strikes me how often this man is described as an 'African American.' Has the word 'black' become illegal perhaps? Or does this reveal the deep need within us all to belong to our group? After all it appears there are no 'Americans' these days as they are all 'something American.' Italian American, Jewish American, why can't they just be American? I can understand their shame in carrying that label but really it's time to call it like it is! Your American so say so, without the added bit! If you are proud of your nation improve it, don't segregate it again! Will anything change? Yes and no! The image of the US has already improved simply by the end of 'Dubyahs' time. The thuggish bullying dumb American foreign policy is already seen as coming to an end. It might even do that! However will climate change end, economic troubles disappear, or war zones become peaceful? Not for a long time. However a change is required and brings a certain excitement. Real life however arrives tomorrow.

I took this picture many years ago in a vain attempt to impress people with my knowledge and erudition. One day I will get around to reading all those books..... When I think of it, if I had read, or studied perhaps is a better word, all the books around me instead of starting and stopping as I do, then I would be so full of knowledge I would know almost everything! Mind you, that would not get anyone to employ me would it? 'You know to much,' would be the cry. How wrong they would be. When a postman one woman asked about some situation somewhere and I gave her my opinion. "Why are you a postman?" she asked, as if postmen were supposed to be dumb. Few were in fact, and several very well educated. The idea that certain 'classes' ought to have understanding still remains within us. However of those who win quiz competitions, and the hardest of all such as 'Brain of Britain' or 'Mastermind' rarely come from the top classes. Maybe they are all employed in 'top jobs?' Intellect belongs to us all, it is what we do, or don't do, with it that counts.

It's obvious what I have done with mine.....

Monday, 19 January 2009

What Sight!

How wonderful! Who can fail to be moved by the sight of a steam train thundering along? One of the great invention of the 19th century the train revolutionised the UK and changed the world! However after the second world war most countries developed their railways by the use of diesel or electric trains and even the bankrupt UK , which went bust standing alone in the early forties, decided to go over to such traction. While the new trains were more efficient, cleaner, and much more reliable,eventually, they do not attract such warm appreciation as a charging steam engine does. However capable the new trains may be, whatever marvellous speeds they race along at, the romance of steam never fades!

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Health & Safety

After rising from my pit this morning I cleared the condensation from the window and gazed blearily into the darkness. Wind and rain hurtled by, cars splashed through the puddles and through the mirk on the other side of the road occasional townsfolk could be seen, walking bent forward, into the storm. For a moment I thought I was back in Edinburgh and July had arrived, however the man on the TV put me right. "Weathers rotten, let's see how it gets worse," he muttered. It will, storms tonight along the north west and rain and cold for several more days ahead. Goody, just what I wanted!

After a breakfast of yesterdays leftovers the gray clouds lightened somewhat and I noticed a man jogging along the footpath.There are one or two who indulge in this ridiculous exercise at the weekends, usually lasting only a couple of weeks. One lass has however been running in a mile long circle for some time now. I did not notice her today however she must be very much fitter than I was when playing football - the proper kind - although of course running was never my game. I played in goal and that was sufficient running around for me I can tell you. Those who think running fifty yards upfield and forty back, then across the pitch and back again is fun are beyond my comprehension. As for folk who do marathons, well!

Anyway I digress, this was not about daft folk attempting to get fit or kill themselves by jogging, it was about the thing on the fellows back. There he was, in light coloured shorts and sweatshirt, wearing a luminous light green hi-vis vest! What for? He was running on the pavement, and few folk at that time of the morning drive on the pavements around here. This brought to mind how needless some of these Health & Safety ideas are today. It is one thing to be safety conscious but another to be either stupid or neurotic about it. Imagine the pilot on that plane landing in the Hudson river being neurotic and overly health and safety conscious? No one would have survived! Calmness and good training, plus prayer probably, got them out! A neurotic stewardess yelling as water lapped around her ankles would have been just what those folks required at that time!

When I was working in yards full of lorries it was wise to wear such a vest. Clearly the driver ought to be able to see you but bad light and other hazards meant safety was important. The woman who walked past me on Monday wearing one may have been neurotic or plain daft I am not sure, but she appeared to be merely going shopping! Maybe the trolleys in the Supermarket run into her too often. I have news for you lass, that will not stop them! One day at Royal Mail the young manager told me off because my orange jacket was a bit worn. "It's dangerous out there on the roads," he said," You don't want to get knocked of your bike!" I had been working for forty years and never knew the roads could be dangerous! I was so glad he was there!

Of course the real reason for the jackets worn by every utility worker, van driver and half the population is not Health & Safety but insurance! No insurance company will pay out if you have not worn the Hi-Vis jacket. Indeed the helmet and the right footwear are also important here. Royal Mail drivers who wear trainers always carry a pair of official shoes in the van - just in case they have an accident! The cry is not "Ambulance," but "Change my shoes quick!" The insurance folk (as Crotchety will tell you) do not like paying out cash! The lack of a hi-vis jacket loses the company an insurance pay out, that is why they, plus helmets, need to be worn along with all the other paraphernalia. Is it all necessary? Sometimes, but not always, common sense and keeping your eyes open are more important. This must do for jogging surely?

Royal mail of course have also got other management problems. The chap in the picture above was sent home for wearing 'Nike' shorts! RM insist on their own uniform, which is fair enough, but to have the police lead him from the office appears a bit over the top. It is clear from the report that there is much more to this than meets the eye. Lazy postmen, bad management, trouble makers on both sides, but who is in the right? Neither I would imagine. However it makes for a typical 'Daily Mail' story. It also supplies a picture of postmen today!

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Blogs and Blogging

Reading through some blogs the other day, well most days actually, I find many folks are sitting at their PCs awaiting the muse to move so they can blog! This fact fascinated me as I realised that I, like so many others, sit here desperate to write something. Why do we do it?When I began this blogging I just wanted to shout my opinions to the world in a vain effort to make all and sundry know I had all the answers. This has brought many replies, the main one being that I was wrong! It never ceases to amaze me just how many people in this world live simply to point out my mistakes. I would argue about this but all to often they are right! However being wrong about so many things does not, at least in the blogosphere, stop anyone from posting their opinions, so I continue. The blog was a place where I could make my opinions known, and just be heard by someone somewhere. Whether they agree or not is irrelevant, as long as I can have a place to let my voice be heard, that is what is important.

I might be wrong, but for many this is one of the main motivations for blogging.

Certainly blogs have practical uses. People can keep in touch with others when spread miles apart, families or clubs, servicemen far from home, sports organisations and even businesses can keep contact with their friends and families when distance keeps them apart. This is good, but boring for those who come upon these blogs unexpectedly. (Can anything be more boring than a blog full of pictures of a baby and its doings? No doubt fun for granny miles on the other side of the world, but for you and me the doings of little Johnny, especially when covered in spaghetti (why post such pics?) can, and should, be given a miss!) The results of a local badminton league do nothing for those uninvolved but are at least useful for those concerned. It is the personal blogs, whether about the individuals life or their opinions that blogs come into their own. The daily diary may appear somewhat boring but the lives revealed seldom are. (Unless it's a woman talking about her boyfriend of course!) What's more they are world wide and that really impresses me. The media in any country spends its time on local affairs, world wars and tragedies are irrelevant if a cat is stuck up a tree in the local high street! The blog world however takes me with a couple of clicks from Singapore to Kent, on to the USA and wherever takes my fancy. The only problem is the time difference! While I am dreaming of golden beaches and pretty young girls bringing me cold drinks as the rain lashes against the window someone in Thailand is insulting their intellect by browsing the site. As I rise I read their scribbles and then while the drowsy eyelids of America snore through the night I indulge my laughter muscles with blogs hot from late night typing. Who knows how they cope in Greenland?

Somewhere in the world there are itchy fingers with nothing to type, looking out the window for inspiration. The need to type away is now an addiction which must be obeyed. Drugs and drink can be 'Cold Turkeyed' away, Blogging cannot be avoided! The need to write for the audience (the worst reason, you must write for yourself or you become another aspect of the media, writing what they want to hear rather than what you want to say!) the desperate need to post that humorous story, or possibly the political situation that only the blogger can put write must be posted! However, if nothing comes to mind the void left is deeper than the Grand Canyon, wider than the Pacific Ocean, and the heart of the blogger bereft. I must stop here and mope for a while as nothing comes to mind this morning, and on top of that there is far to much to do, now as I have nothing to say I must do it. Those little chores, drawing back the curtains to let light in, opening the windows to let air in, clearing the moss covered contents from the fridge, and lifting all the mail from behind the door! A pile of junk lies there now. Oh yes, I suppose having my second bath of the year might be an idea also......

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Freezing Fog

As I took of my mitts to reveal the woollen gloves with the fingers cut off, unzipped the sleeping bag and threw the cold hot water bottles on the floor, pushed back the duvets, blankets and coats piled on top of me, I realised today would be somewhat chilly. I was right! Freezing fog hung over everything and in spite of being dressed for a quick search for the North West Passage I still felt the frostbite tingle as I trudged slowly to the soup kitchen. Watching people dressed similarly to me slip sliding away along the pavements I came across several in bright yellow clobber. That reminded me of Billy Connolly's tale of Aberdeen holidays. As a eight year old he was forced into swimming trunks and encouraged to"Get in the (North) Sea ya big Jessie!" by their mothers. Meanwhile, forty miles offshore oil rigs swarmed with men dressed in several layers of clothes, covered in bright yellow oilskins, desperately attempting to keep their body above freezing point! A mothers care never ends!

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

William Frederick Stone

One of the three remaining servicemen from the Great War resident in the UK has died.
William Frederick Stone died aged 108! 'Young Bill' Stone served in the Royal Navy through two major wars including time of the great and tragic battleship HMS HOOD. He wrote of his time in the services on the HMS Hood association website. It is worth a read! How many of us will live so long and see such adventures?

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Hibernian 0 Heart of Midlothian 2

Oh Dear, once again the Heart of Midlothian have put their near neighbours in their place. Their place? That of the 'Wee Team!' This Scottish Cup tie was played at the usual high speed with the Hearts playing all the football and Hibs only threatening when resorting to the long ball they deny using! In spite of ignoring the two footed challenge by Sol Bamba referee Craig Thomson decided he would not tolerate a similar assault by Hibs Steve Fletcher, a player Hibs claimed was being watched by Real Madrid among others! With the bal at least three feet ahead of the man Fletcher through himself at Berra and crashed into him, off he went and Hibs last hope fell. Quite how Chick Young could claim that a 'mere yellow' I cannot understand! I suppose his anti-Hearts stance took over. Andy Driver was soon to be found beating Mackalamby the Hibs goalie (what was he doing?) and cut the ball back from the by line to Christian Nade who slammed the ball home for the opening, and well deserved, goal! Naturally Hibernian could not control their emotions and threatened to turn rough, like the 'Works Team' they are, but the Heart of Midlothian kept their cool at such provocation. As we do!

The rest of the game was just dominance by the Heart of Midlothian and nothingness from the 'Wee Team.' There was a flutter of excitement when the changes were made, The great ineffectual Hibs hero Derek 'Deeks' Riordon was replaced late in the game. His fame as a 'ned' showed through as he greeted the Hearts fans acknowledgement of his departure by making rude gestures in their direction. The referee gave him a yellow card for this, and it was close to a red! It appears he went up the tunnel after possibly throwing down his shirt and allowing his discomfort to show through. (he he he!) I suspect we shall read of him thrashing some club he is barred from later tonight! Young Gary Glen came on for the last few minutes and in injury time he took advantage of the poor defence to latch on to a pass and round the goalie scoring the second goal, producing much merriment among the better half of Edinburgh. How nice!

The Heart of Midlothian first played, and defeated, Hibernian in 1875, since then dominating the matches between the clubs. With regard to the Scottish cup things remain the same.

Scottish Cup games.
Hearts won 13 Lost 7 plus 9 drawn games.
Goals Hearts 53 Hibs 39
Players Sent Off
(NB. Hibs Players Pre 1997 incomplete)
Total Heart of Midlothian = 10 red cards
Total Hibernian = 24 red cards
Total dominance and it leaves me with great sympathy for those Leith dwellers who have nothing but a future of inferiority ahead of them. Now that is something to think about eh?
The Heart of Midlothian have in fact won the Scottish cup twice in recent years, Hibernians last sight of an open topped bus occurred in 1902! Not even my 93 year old mother was born the last time Hibernian won the cup! Ho Ho Ho!

Next up Falkirk in the next round.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Cadburys Cream Eggs

I have just seen my first Cadburys Cream Egg advert! This is the first week in January! Some have claimed to have seen this ad earlier than me! Come on now, Christmas and New Year just over and here we are advertising Easter Eggs? Now I am partial to the odd egg at any time, and I understand why Cadburys sell them at every opportunity. In the early seventies when I worked (very hard I can tell you) in a Cash & Carry in Leith we sold tons of these eggs every year. The Scots palate is such that the shopkeepers would buy six or seven boxes of these eggs, with most chocolate bars one or two boxes were bought, if they had a school in the near neighbourhood they would soon be back for another six or seven! Guaranteed sellers at all times. In fact there was some idea of selling them all the year round a while back but that was an idea that did not come to pass. No doubt the major supermarkets will now be starting to add Easter eggs to their shelves and a three month sales push will begin.


In the 1400's a law was set forth that a man was not allowed to beat his wife with a stick no thicker than his thumb.
Hence we have "the rule of thumb".

The first couple to be shown in bed together on prime time TV was Fred and Wilma Flintstone

Men can read smaller print than women can; women can hear better.

It is impossible to lick your elbow.

Intelligent people have more zinc and copper in their hair.

The first novel ever written on a typewriter: Tom Sawyer

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

Q. If you were to spell out numbers, how far would you have to go until you would find the letter "A"?
A. One thousand

Q. What do bullet-proof vests, fire escapes, windshield wipers, and laser printers all have in common?
A. All invented by women.

Q. What is the only food that doesn't spoil?
A. Honey

In Shakespeare's time, mattresses were secured on bed frames by ropes. When you pulled on the ropes the mattress tightened, making the bed firmer to sleep on. Hence the phrase.........
"Goodnight, sleep tight."

In English pubs, ale is ordered by pints and quarts... So in old England, when customers got unruly, the bartender would yell at them 'Mind your pints and quarts, and settle down.' It's where we get the phrase "mind your P's and Q's"

Many years ago in England, pub frequenters had a whistle baked into the rim, or handle, of their ceramic cups. When they needed a refill, they used the whistle to get some service. "Wet your whistle" is the phrase inspired by this practice.

And finally……

At least 75% of people who read this will try to lick their elbow!

I wonder if all that is true?

Friday, 9 January 2009


This was the scene yesterday. Cold mist hanging around and in the afternoon freezing all and sundry, and my bony knees were part of that sundry. It was so cold last night that it woke me up just after midnight and forced me to dress like 'Nanook of the North' and switch on all the heating I could find (one candle and a packet of 'Victory V's.'). I went online and explored the webs showing how to build igloos and how to catch and skin penguins just in case. I had been watching the snow bound North American pictures the other day and wondered how people can live in such conditions year after year! A two inch layer of snow can bring us to a halt, imagine it being two feet! Yet some folks live in areas where such snowfall is considered an easy winter! I assure Canadians I will not emigrate there, your moose are safe. During the Second World War Stalin brought the Siberian troops across from the Chinese border where they had been watching the Japanese threat. These folk were used to temperatures of minus 40, and they would lie in the snow all day opposite the Germans, and attack at night in temperatures of minus 8. They considered this warm! Sorry, that is not a life for me, whether attacking Germans or not. I want a Greek island, lots of sun, an nice sea view, gentle waves lapping against the shore and nearby cliffs, a long cool drink and sunshine all the day long. Of course a woman to do the ironing and bring the long cool drink would also be welcome, if she can cook.

I am reading through this book about one of the three remaining Great War servicemen. Henry Allingham, 'Kitchener's Last Volunteer.' This is a very good read. Not a deep tale of enlistment and the happenings found in other books of this type but a series of reminiscences from a man born in 1896! The personality of the man comes across and I find it difficult not to like him. Enlisting in 1915 in the Royal Navy Air Service he serviced and sometimes flew as an observer over the North Sea, where he was a distant part of the Battle of Jutland, and over places like Ypres (Wipers to the troops) and saw Flanders great battles. He is the last remaining serviceman who served when the Royal Flying Corps merged with the RNAS to become the Royal Air Force. Active all his life he was playing golf until he was 93 and is shown cycling on his hundredth birthday! On Remembrance Sunday last year (November 11th) he attempted to leave his wheelchair to place a wreath at the Cenotaph. He was unable, but took many minutes making the attempt. Eventually he was persuaded to let others do this for him, but he held the parade up for a good while in the attempt. What a man! He must be 113 by my calculation this year and still going. He may go on a lot longer yet!

Wednesday, 7 January 2009


I came across this today. This is not a job I want, but I was taken by the jargon found here. This is Gobbledygook and has no bearing whatsoever on the work itself.

Community Safety & Development Team
Part Time Community Development Officers x 2 Part Time 20 hours per week
Grade 3 £20,591 - £25,146 per annum pro rata *
To encourage, support and enable local people and organisations to collect information on the needs of the community.
To identify community leads and build capacity within their communities.
To work with the Community Service Unit Managers in delivering the strategic focus of community development across Braintree District Council.
To work with and facilitate other Council services, the Community Safety Partnership, partner agencies and the local community to address community issues and build cohesion.
Ability to improve existing projects and the creativity to develop new ground breaking initiatives.
One post will be responsible for setting up and delivering the ‘Creative Communities’ Project.
This will involve additional hours particularly during school holiday time. The additional hours are likely to be fulltime throughout the holiday periods. Community Development experience is essential. Understanding of Local Area Agreement 2 is desirable.

I like the use of phrases ' build capacity within their communities.' Now what does this mean? 'Build capacity?' The Cambridge Dictionary refers to capacity as
'amount' or even 'position.' But this is meaningless when refer to a small town and its problems!
How about 'delivering the strategic focus of community development.' What? That surely means doing what the council have decided should be done. Why not say so?
'..build cohesion' Well you start that by SPEAKING IN ENGLISH!

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Philadelphia Eagles

I have been watching Sky Sports News and they had clips of one of
those American Throwball games. One of the teams shown actually
kicked the ball at a goal at one point and I was very impressed!
Clearly hope was not lost and it shows the possibility that
one man out there in the colonies understands something
about the name 'football!'
So from now on I will be following Americas
premier Throwball team - The Philadelphia Eagles!

Monday, 5 January 2009

So, Normal Life Returns!

Yes indeed! All around folks are complaining about returning to work. Few contemplating how lucky they are! The dreary round of work, rest and, well work again, has returned. The economic situation being what it is I wonder how many will be employed in a few months time? However the economy in this place took a turn for the worse when I finally decided that the cheap replacement cartridge for the printer just would not work, no matter how many times I fiddled with it. I bit the bullet (where did that bullet come from?) and bought a proper full price HP 57 from Tesco! The annoying thing is that the colour version of the cheapie did not work, but the black version I bought a while ago works fine! Now at last I can print out the application form for a job I will not get and waste time and money sending it off! Isn't it silly that a small thing like a useless printer can bring the world to a halt?

I came across this small but delightful story in the paper yesterday. This small shop sells crockery and a Robin, usually a rather shy bird with people and a bully among birds, began a habit of entering the shop and settling on a mug decorated with pictures of Robins! In spite of the customers it continues to come in and follow the owner into her office and uses her mug, with the robins, as a place to hang around. Isn't it lovely that in this wild and nasty world simple little things like this please us so much? Just before the attack on the Somme in 1916 one group of soldiers were worrying, not about the fight ahead, but whether a blackbirds brood would be able to fly off before they went 'over the top.' There was delight that all birds successfully left the nest before the attack went in! The 'Birdman of Alcatraz, Robert Stroud, was actually the 'birdman of Leavenworth' who did befriend a wounded canary and went on to study them over thirty years. He had time to study being in solitary confinement because of his violent manner and being sentenced to life with no parole! He did spend time in Alcatraz and I suppose that name made for a better film title, even though the acting did not resemble Stroud himself. I must confess I am partial to a bird myself.

The day started with snow! Just what I did not want with the driving lesson. However it was not to bad by the time we started, the biggest problem being the sun shining straight in my face. he took me that way deliberately to get me used to the situation - swine! It was nowhere near as bad as in the photo, but winding roads, black ice, slush and a dustcart right up behind me for miles urging me on as they wanted to finish early, kept me from wearying!

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Church Window

I like this picture. Not just because I took it, but I also had a go at printing a bigger version of the thing and it worked! I was sitting in a church which had been destroyed by the Luftwaffe dropping incendiary bombs on it in 1940. Much of the City of London was damaged at that time and not all was rebuilt. For whatever reason this building was left in ruins, only the tower remaining standing, and it became, like many others, a park, ideal for the city workers to take a break in summer. It has been turned into a rose garden with plants filling in the spaces once occupied by pews and it looks very nice indeed. At least it did when I visited many years ago (not during the blitz!). This was the Franciscan Church of Greyfriars, established in 1225. Many of the rich and famous were buried in the old church which suffered during the 'Great Fire of London' in 1666. Christopher Wren designed a new church, opened in 1704, and no, I was not at that service.

When there one long ago summer day I took the photo with my rusty, sorry trusty Minolta, and was well pleased with it. Cynics point out all sorts of faults, but just because they know what they are talking about does not, in my humble opinion (and humble it is I have been informed) mean they know what they are talking about does it! The spire of St Paul's Cathedral stands tall in the background, a place I once clambered up to in the late seventies when entrance was cheap, and enjoyed the view. Once there the sightseer has a vista of the whole of London, and it is big! London actually lies in a bowl of sorts, and the ground rises slightly as it disappears into the distance. Looking to the far south on a rise in the far, far distance stands the BBC aerial reaching several hundred feet into the air. It is said that a female (isn't it always?) American tourist was heard to ask, "Is that the Eiffel Tower?"

Saturday, 3 January 2009

How to be an Idiot No 78

So I rushed round the supermarket looking for the special offers. I read all the blogs first thing, although the time difference is a nuisance here,and took pics of myself to send to a friend. That will stop them sending me rude e-mails! Having done all I could I wandered around in the freezing sunshine in what I like to call,'Exercise mode.' Less kindly folks refer to this as 'Sloth.' Undeterred by such rudeness I came home in time for the big (football) game! Today the Heart of Midlothian were entertaining (why do they refer to it as that?) local rivals Hibernian. This is always a 'do or die' match. Life, for those living in the city, is unbearable for the losers. However, over the years since the first encounter, in 1875, the Heart of Midlothian have reigned supreme! By winning the vast majority of these confrontations the Hearts have obtained their rightful position as 'The big Team! Hibernian are known worldwide as 'The Wee Team' and with good reason!

However, I arrived home at two thirty to be greeted by the news that the result was Nil Nil! I was stunned! Nobody told me the game kicked of at twelve thirty! I read it was a three O' clock kick off!

I missed it! What an idiot!

Friday, 2 January 2009

Start the Year the Way You Mean to Go On!

So early(ish) yesterday morning I got on the bike and raced slowly up the old railway line. I had hoped it would be empty, new year revellers still sleeping it off and all that, but I forgot the dog walkers. No matter how your head feels they need to go, so they went! The place was teaming with them and the dogs, and occasional kid, was better behaved than the sourpussed folks I passed yesterday. Now the phrase 'Happy New Year' uttered in Scotland to strangers in such circumstances would be greeted with an appropriate response, not stares and bewildered expressions as found here. The occasional human appeared but most were unresponsive mannequins wrapped in layers of warm, expensive, clobber.

However I was not put off as I intended to make this year better than any in recent times. No matter what I was feeling good and after a nourishing lunch at the soup kitchen I read the blogs and fell into a relaxed sleep of the righteous (sort off). Later I was so keen on the exercise I jumped on the bike, carefully, and spent another cold half hour enjoying my trip around the quiet streets. Ahead of me lay the new year, a year in which things will be better, life will take a new direction and all will be well! What could possibly go wrong?

About five O'clock I found myself feeling very strange. I thought I was fainting and after a minute or two go up and stood somewhat unsure for a moment. I picked up the phone and my arm fell away,it had no strength. Ooooer I thought, this should not be (I'm quick on the uptake you see). At that time of night, on that day, there is no doctor unless it is a real emergency. I was not sure about that and ten minutes later I called the NHS Direct Line service. Here I could chat to a nurse who asked all the right questions, relieving me of the fear something serious was occurring and at the same time avoiding the phrase 'You silly old woman you!' Today, I sought the doctor, miraculously an opening this morning appeared and I met an attractive young Nigerian (?) doctor who put me at ease, realising nothing was wrong told me to come back if this strange event happened again. 'Don't worry about wasting my valuable time' she avoided saying. But for a moment my whole life changed! I truly thought it may be a heart attack or a stroke. Instead it was a passing moment, probably caused by the way I was sitting rather than anything else. How grateful I am for the NHS! Small events like this can lead to much worry, but a quick chat with a suitable person ends needless fears. Had it been of a serious nature advice and help was on hand! Grateful? You bet!

Now I am getting back into my new, new year! The improved health regime (I am looking for health) and a desperate search for legitimate income (any), a better time for my football side, and a better time with my God. So far the eating has been rubbish! I start such regimes and discover the cupboard is bare! The plans I had, the new recipes and ideas! And I had forgotten there was nothing available with which to start! Idiot!

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Happy New Year

A Good New Year to one and all!