Friday, 31 July 2009

Friday Evening

I thought, being Friday evening, and not in the mood to complain or rant about things, I thought a nice photo to finish the week was in order. This one, of St Ives beach, I obtained, as you can see, from the excellent '' site, which I heartily recommend! While some of you take wonderful pics, and are appreciative of others efforts, this man manages to wander the world and find some lovely stuff which lie all around us. I say 'lovely,' and some would dispute a bus can be lovely, however the photographer recognises that the blogger and many members of the public need pictures of the everyday alongside those special photographs that represent a special part of our lives. A huge selection available to bloggers as long as you include the link to and do not claim them as your own or amend them. Seems fair enough.

I hope your evening is as interesting as mine has been.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

The Adams Platoon 1942

Before the King sent a personal request to my dad he enrolled in what became known as 'Dad's Army.' This was the volunteer defence force that was intended to supplement the British Army if the German Army invaded. Many of these noble and determined men were of course ex - servicemen and this showed through at times. A little known fact is the practise attack on a South Coast harbour conducted by the regular army. This small town was defended by 'Dad's Army' and they wiped out the invading regulars in short order. The defences learnt at Ypres and the Somme were not easily forgotten twenty years on. While some of these chaps were too young for the 'first lot' as it was referred to, they prepared for 'call up' in such a force as this. A glance at the pic shows a variety of types representing Edinburgh's finest in 1942. Dad was 'called up' by that note from the monarch but at 34 was too old for the front line. He was posted to an artillery battalion and spent much of the war training so far behind the lines he nearly came upon the enemy from the rear!

The television show 'Dad's Army,' became a hit soon after first appearing in the early seventies. It was a gentle mocking of the bumbling men who often filled the roles, from the pretentious, self important banker who became the Captain and leader, to the Lance Corporal who had seen service in the Sudan so many years before. His bumbling behaviour was based on a true character. However as I looked at this lot I realised that not all platoons were guided by the decrepit ex-servicemen from the past. This lot had a Lance Corporal who may well have seen action in the last war, and did not look the type to gently molly coddle his men.

"Look into my eyes......"

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Edinburgh View

This is an example of the view from the window in Edinburgh. Looking north towards the Forth and over to Burntisland on the Fife side. The picture does not really show it but the sky at night there is always worth looking at. (Click on the picture as it enlarges the image.) That is one of the things I missed most about Edinburgh. The twinkling lights from the towns over the Forth, and the dark blue sky, occasionally black, but at this time of the year, never dark and dreary! Simple joys for simple folks.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Cruel Women!

Searching through the old albums for pictures to scan in I came across this. Here is my poor brother in law, soon after he married my sister in 1961, trapped in the kitchen with a small portion of the work she had designated as his! The honeyed words, the gentle promises, the bright future living 'happily ever after,' that he had been led to believe lay before him, revealed as a chain to the kitchen sink! He would have been better joining the army!

Never trust a woman!

Sunday, 26 July 2009

The Great War and World War Two

Some of my less intellectually developed readers have defamed my person with regards to the Great War. The idea that I was in the trenches during 194-1918 and as a result of the conflict endured what has come to be known as 'Shell-shock' is an idea I wish to refute! In spite of now being, er..over twenty one, I can assure the more enlightened among you, (and by this I mean you! er, No Fishy or Mike, not you!), that at no time did I serve His Majesty's Forces during that war. I should add here that the later conflict, (the second which the United States population ignored while shooting Indians, Mexicans and any Black men who came past), was indeed another that I was born too late to join. Scurrilous rumours from those propping up the bar in one of Midlothian's less well respected taverns or running around the Ozark Mountains hiding from Brown Bears can be discounted.

However the question, "Why pay more attention to the 'Great War" as opposed to the Second World War needs an answer. I grew up in the aftermath of the Second World War and this filled my young mind at all times. Every adult you met had been in the forces, those who had not would have been too old, or in jobs that stopped their enlistment, such as mining, munitions or black market spivs! (I believe Mike can give more info on spivs....) When I started school in 1956 we ran around chanting:-

"We won the war
in nineteen forty four"

That in itself shows the effect the war had on the United Kingdom! The games we played were often war winning games, the comics we read were full of 'Mosquito' pilots, or brave commandoes fighting over France. On the wireless comedians, amongst others, frequently made mention, not just off the war itself, in which they had all served in one degree or another, but to the troops still stationed in Germany. When TV came along this was also the case, although by the late fifties the other aspect that dominated this era was more important, the economic upturn!

The early century had seen a huge patriotic attitude within the UK. At the turn of the century the Boer War brought crowds into the streets celebrating the relief of Mafaking, and Ladysmith. Places few had any hope of ever seeing for themselves! Such 'Jingoism' remained when the Germans united and under the weak boastful Kaiser William attempted to match Britain's greatness. Sabre rattling, 'Dreadnought' building and crass stupidity combined to bring about the Greta War of 1914. By the end false patriotism was removed, the victory won by our men was rewarded, not with "Homes fit for heroes," but by lies, unemployment and soon afterwards an American led recession. (Now where have I read that before?) Only the inadequacy of Adolf Hitler and the rise of totalitarian states brought about the end of that recession, and then followed another fifty or so million deaths! The people of the UK had seen fifty years of conflict and wanted a new life! The failings in 1918 were not going to be repeated and, in spite of the bankrupt nation, the Labour government did indeed begin to make a 'New Jerusalem' in the United Kingdom. People had had enough war, in the fifties folk wanted to move into the new housing estates, make the most of the wealth from the full employment that arose, and start lives in a peaceful free society. War, and the Great War itself, were put behind them and most attempted to forget and enjoy a new life.

While the last war still filled the minds of those who endured it, books, films, and TV programmes still went over our marvellous victory. A victory when the nation had stood together in the face of a Nazi invasion, stood alone and was willing to fight alone, a victory that could not be forgotten but was better to watch on TV rather than endure. The nation, home from work, with the tea on the table could cope with this as all around wealth gradually came into the warm, well lit, airy homes. The kids grew up free from fear (although not from the bully boys down the road) and with a standard of health their parents and grandparents could only dream about.

However, the society changes in the sixties when "Make love not war," echoed around (But more like "Make tea not war" where I was concerned! Thanks for nothing Valerie!) saw the end of the new Jerusalem and the entrance of what enduring peace always brings, liberty that becomes licence! The greed of the seventies, both managers and Unions, who's mismanagement of the world led to the Thatcherism selfishness of the eighties also saw people beginning to wonder what the 'Great War' was all about?

I started to read about this strange foreign land in which millions died in mud filled trenches as "Lions led by Donkeys," and discovered this was not the case! As with all war 'spin' is more important than reality. The desire to forget war had led to us forgetting the men who fought the first war, and often the second also, as their story was less urgent than the fear of Hitler and the opportunities that arose later. We knew many men who wandered about with shrapnel or bullets or some iron object deep within their bodies from the first war, some living happily into their nineties! Many men walked about Edinburgh on crutches having lost a leg between 14 and 18, yet it meant little as they were 'just there' and part of the landscape. However by the eighties and into the nineties they were dying off and then people began an interest in their war.

Today I have read dozens of books on the subject and watched probably all the film available at one time or another. Dozens of books are published annually on the war, either regarding an individual, a regiment, a ship, or a battle, and innumerable websites are available for those seeking information on those who served. For instance the Heart of Midlothian, like all Scots football clubs, saw the men leave to fight in a greater game, seven Hearts players did not return and many more could never play the game again! This Hearts site tells more on them.

The more we learn about the Great War the more we can see one of the greatest period of change in the century. Society began to lose the class differences, and while these remain they are nothing compared to the attitudes of 1914. The world sped up, aircraft became common, skirts became shorter, a more liberal but not necessarily happier society appeared. Political 'spin' saw Prim Minister Lloyd George, terrified of the reaction to the dead, encourage his friends in the press to blame the generals for the seven hundred and fifty thousand war dead in Britain, most of whom remain in the battlefields where they fell. Such propaganda was powerful and even today General Haig is seen not as the man who won the war, which he did and was respected for at the time, but as a 'butcher' and a 'bungler.' In fact he lost less men than anyone else, was always open to new ideas and while full of failures remained the best man for the job! However a politician cares only for his self preservation.

I have spent my life reading about war and now I am sure much of the reading done today is because we find it easy to cope with a situation in the past once it is over and done with, rather than attempt to comprehend the society around us today. That is too difficult, and the results too demanding. Writing when half asleep is also demanding and maybe I ought to have prepared this better? However that may be I am off into the past again. I am looking through photo albums my dad collected during his time in China and Poona in the twenties and thirties. No war then, however I have some of the stuff he possessed from his WW2 service also. That needs collating although at his age (34) he was never likely to be near any real action. He was not daft you know!

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Harry Patch

Harry Patch
died last night aged 111.

He was the last surviving British soldier who fought in the trenches during the Great War.
Only one serviceman remains, an Englishman who served with the Royal Navy and now lives in Australia. All other members of the British force have now passed away. A handful from Canada and elsewhere live on but soon will join their comrades.

Patch served at Pilckem Ridge, near Ypres in 1917, the Battle of Paschendale, the battle that made the Flanders mud the living image of the war. Nearly half a million men from both sides fell into the mud during this tremendous, and possibly needless some say, fight. Patch was lucky, the three mates in his Lewis gun team were hit and killed by a chance shrapnel shell, (a shell that explodes in the air above the troops and discharges around a hundred bullet like rounds) while he himself received only a portion of the shell in his groin. While it was painful to remove it meant he survived the war.

Like many others who lived on he never forgot those comrades who fell.

Those living at that time, including the children born then, are now passing away. That generation, their ideals, their hopes, their understanding of life, is passing from us. In some ways it was better and in some their ideas were wrong. The fact remains that they endured a cataclysmic war that few today can begin to comprehend. This left it's effects with them till their dying day and has impressed itself unknowingly upon us also. Let us develop the good things and remove the bad, preferably without any major conflict such as that generation endured.

Friday, 24 July 2009


Walking along Silverknowes we came across this!
Not only did we wonder what it was but who did this and why?
Originally the iron bar curved over and met the broken stub on the left of the picture, and after many years has fallen into disuse, but disuse from what? We could not work out any purpose as the tide does not come in very close and it can have no relation to the many ancient war material whose remains appear every now and again. So what was it for?

Now the question is who grabbed this with both hands and bent it this way? Just what sort of individual would wish to tie a knot in an iron bar? I suspect one of those psychiatric patients, usually referred to as 'artists' may well have been involved. Possibly this was the only place for an exhibition?

Answers please on a postcard, and don't forget the stamp this time!

Thursday, 23 July 2009


On Saturday after going to see my mother for the last time, my brother and I drove through Leith, getting lost in Newhaven which no longer is a through road, it was in 1975, and ended up in Granton passing the new creation that arises there. At Gypsy Brae we walked along the front enjoying the view over to Fife, the seabirds yelling and the dogs running around having the time of their lives. Unlike the people who would have to dry the creatures out when they got back home. My little camera is not much use for the wide expanse that lay in front of us there but the shot over Cramond towards the Forth bridge was not too bad.

The time in Edinburgh was a mixture of sadness and enjoyment. My mums passing was sad, an end of an era indeed, and a loss of a 'home,' a home that has existed for 56 years! How strange this will be. It was however, thanks to the prayers of the saints, a good time with the family over all. We got on well, even though my brother and I took three days to work out how to switch off the heating, spent many minutes attempting, with a match, to light the gas and discovered it lit via the electric push button, and when in the car constantly argued over whether to go right or left, this way or that, and always took the wrong option whatever we decided. That explains getting lost in Newhaven and ending in someones driveway!

I have several of the older photo albums and intend to put some on the web so have started to scan them in. The memories and the stories that we find there amaze me. Add to this listening to those outside the family speak of my mother and I am much more impressed by her than I was before. How little we know of our own family! Because I grew up with her there I could not see her as others did, and I have a new respect for both her and my dad, especially considering what they endured for us! I feel even more guilt now!

Now I am totally knackered! I am in the middle of writing to many folk I met there and already have blisters on two fingers. I write this with my toes! Praise the Lord for e-mails! had I to use stamps this would cost a fortune writing to people. Worse still if they don't reply! I had to apologise to several fat women for not recognising them a the slim young lassies I once knew, my how they change. All look like their mothers now! Ah well, it's nice to be back to the routine, grumbling, worrying, complaining, noting the worlds idiocy and reading your own good writings. Thanks for the kind words.

Friday, 17 July 2009


Off to Edinburgh until Wednesday when
normal (normal?) service will be resumed.
Would you believe it's raining!

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Quiet Thursday

A quiet day today.
I have nothing to say as my mind is befuddled. The irksome 'cold' bug that never seems to leave my side dulled the remains of my brain last night and left it sluggish this morning. Exercise (Ha!) did not alter this, neither did what passes for nourishment in this house. My mind has rarely got into gear although one or two necessary jobs got accomplished. Much of the time has been spent looking at the e-mail waiting for someone to send something. It was that sort of sluggishness! There were lots of mail in the 'Mailwasher' and much of it wanted to extend bits of me or supply me with 'Canadian Meds.' Funny how so many different addresses offer me the exact same substances! All I need to complete the set is the Nigerian prince who wishes my help in removing $24 million dollars from Nigeria.

It is late, my brain has not got over the shock of buying a pair of comfortable 'insoles' for the shoes that have a hard interior and getting them home to find they come in packets of one! I just couldn't be fagged to do anything about this so fell asleep instead. I also have the desire to write much humorous, intriguing and bum clenchingly funny stuff, but have not got the energy mental or otherwise. So instead here is a picture of Gladstone!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009


A day to relax!

Indeed a day to relax as all those difficult jobs and problems have been overcome. Prayer works indeed! From the moment the answer to the printer problem slapped me in the face before I was awake, I should wake any time soon, to the death certificate arriving, (a nurse misunderstood the situation and they were very apologetic and kind to my niece when she arrived with a shotgun this morning), to the funeral being fixed for 2:30 Monday afternoon all the major problems have been sorted. Well done those who prayed and wished us well. One or two smaller problems arise but this is too be expected. Imagine having to have a woman minister as the real one is on holiday? Tsk! What would Thomas Chalmers and John Knox say to this?

Solemn though death is it can lead to humorous situations. When my father died many years ago young pat, somewhat inebriated attempted to offer condolences whilst crouching in front of my mother. Her attempt to stifle the giggles as he swayed this way and that while blethering incoherently ended any tension the day had for her. A good man in the church in London died. Our car was held up at traffic lights and, being late in the day, the gate to the cemetery had been shut. Knowing there was another entrance some eight cars raced there and entered Kensal Green Cemetery and began a race. We raced along to the middle, stopped amid rising dust from the gravel pathway, and stood peering in various directions into the gloom searching for the event! More driving, and not at hearse speed, another stop, more peering and slamming car doors as we moved on again, far too fast in the situation. More screeching brakes, more dust, and this time success. The, by now, sweaty occupants suddenly became sedate, solemn participants and slowly made our solemn way to the graveside. The dust was still hanging in the air when we returned to the cars!

Ah well, now I just have to fly up Friday evening, and the cost is greater than I thought, and meet the family and some I will not recognise unless they carry name tags! Next Wednesday, when I return, I will return to cynicism, sarcasm, complaining, objectionable behaviour, and being a wimp yelling at the world. I may even have a rant about airports, rain, Edinburgh, family, and something or other I bet!

But let's face it, that is what makes me so lovable doesn't it?

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

They Have Lost Her

When my mother died early on Saturday morning she had not been in the hospital for twelve hours. Under Scots law this means a death certificate cannot be issued. I am assuming a report is made as we were then told that this would be passed to the Procurator Fiscals office (Google it!) and then a decision would be made whether a Post Mortem was required or if the certificate could be issued.

This would be passed to my niece, she would then discuss with the undertaker the arrangements, and an attempt would be made to fit in with the minister and the crematorium. Naturally, being our family, things are going wrong. For one they have lost her! The paperwork (a yellow form) has not appeared in the Procurator Fiscals office. They have looked and found none. My niece has not thought of phoning the hospital and enquiring from that end, as some ward clerk is probably still sitting on it, and so we await developments again tomorrow morning. Add to this the minister leaving on Saturday for two weeks holiday! While he is willing to fit in as much as he can, including Saturday morning, it would be difficult to find a place for refreshments afterwards and anyway I for one think this would be a bit of a rush and am opposed to rushing this!

Tonight I attempted to book a flight on Easyjet and with each touch of the keyboard the costs rose even more than I had expected. That is irrelevant as it just has to be done. However, as I planned how to rob the bank or mug old ladies to pay for this I had a problem. The printer, which printed OK the other day, has once again refused to print! I suspect the PC and the printer are not talking to each other. However this means too much work for tonight and I have done what I can.

When my sister informed me that she was missing we considered whether she really had gone missing. It crossed our minds that maybe, just maybe, she had got out of bed the other morning and found another woman to whom she could chat. Possibly the wrong lass has been declared dead and my mum is now sitting amongst a pile of empty cups chatting happily to a woman she has never met before. It was her way. The fact that four days have past would not be noticed by a couple of Edinburgh's finest would it?

Monday, 13 July 2009

Another Monday

Not far from here is an Anglican Church which has these bells atop the building. I passed that way yesterday and thought them striking (gettit?) This church is one of many in England that were built less for the glory of God than for the glory of the benefactor who built it. If I remember correctly a woman of standing, that means 'rich,' decided she wanted this church built to her plans. This was sometime in the late Victorian days and the town already possessed one large 12th century Anglican building and not far down the road another was to be found. However this structure was designed to be quite large and for some reason it was not completed as she had planned. To the side stands a large buttress designed for a far greater edifice than this. Whether the money ran out or she died is not clear, but her plan did not reach the conclusion she desired. The bells can be heard whenever a couple get married there, whether this is a joyful sound or a warning is not clear from here. Today this is the towns Anglo Catholic Church, the other being more main line as far as I can tell. Where is this leading you ask? Nowhere. It's just as I passed by I was intrigued by the bells standing clear against the blue sky and decided to snap them.

Such small enjoyments helped when writing to the council re the noise nuisance. At least I will not be arrested because of that letter, unlike the one I was mentally writing on Saturday! Tsk! Why can people not make noise when I want them too and not at their own selfish pleasure! Tsk!

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Strange and Annoying Day

Being informed of my mothers death first thing did leave me full of thoughts. Some were good and some bad. She had been a marvellous mother who put her children first all her life. I am not convinced she got nearly as much back from any of us, especially me! At 94 years of age this is not an unexpected event, although as she was so well for her age it was not expected this week! However I spent the morning pondering, as you do, not really thinking and awaiting instructions from Edinburgh as to what to do as there is a problem, isn't there always. Under Scot law a death certificate cannot be given as she was in the hospital for less than twelve hours. Dying quietly in the early Saturday morning meant nothing can be done until Monday, and then only when the Procurator Fiscal gives the go ahead. That of course could take days! There again my sister and my niece, who went through this a few years ago when her mother died, are well capable of dealing with all arrangements.

My ponderings were disturbed by those Christians yesterday. In the park opposite they had a little outreach programme. Fun and games for the young of the town. Naturally, after I had several times complained about noise nuisance from such activities, they built a stage that pointed straight at this building. A distance of 100 or less yards enabled me to hear everything, at over 100 decibels, of the music that was mostly 'rap,' and 'rap' with a capital 'C' at that! I have as yet been unable to finish my e-mail to the council, the wording so far would get me at least six months, and it must be said, would embarrass a football player. Quite why this was aimed in my direction I do not know but I spent much time chasing my coffee cup across the desk as the beat moved it half an inch with each blow! "Come to Jesus," shouted the man. He has no idea how near his words became, "Come to....oh, hullo Jesus! Why have I got an axe in my head?"

As I tired in the afternoon, and my thoughts became strained I wondered the use of an axe in such situations would be classed as murder, or manslaughter under diminished responsibility? Billy Graham yesterday has no idea how providential the intervention of my guardian angel was. I still have no idea where all the 'blunt instruments' have gone. From 11a.m. till after four this went on and I could well have done without it. There again as is the way I feel bad about being here and wish I was up north again. Strange how it is better to be useless up north instead of useless down here.

I did get a surprise when checking travel prices however. I once travelled by rail regularly from Kings Cross to Waverley. A grand journey especially with a cut price First Class ticket where one can avoid the plebs! Yesterday I discovered the basic price for Standard Class (What we used to call Second Class!) is well over £200 return! The First Class, (What we used to call unatainable) is over £300 and the National Express company has recently claimed they are losing money running the service! This line has now become Nationalised, as indeed they all should, but prices like this on an enjoyable run are far too expensive. The Easyjet return from Stanstead will cost me less than £200 if I book early, and just over a hundred depending on my return date. No wonder I didn't get home often!

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Mum Dies

First thing this morning I got a call from my sister informing me my mother had died early that morning. She was 94, and it appears had been sick all week. The difficulties of being 400 miles away show at times like this. Now I have some strange emotions, guilt, loss etc. The "If only" bothers me now. A good woman who deserved a better family and now gone. As she would say, we just have to 'get on with it' there is nothing else to do.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Free Car!

So my niece promised me a car.
A promise fulfilled indeed!
Just a little smaller than I thought it would be....

Thursday, 9 July 2009


Tired and weary as I am I have nothing to say. This will be a sad loss to the world but I believe the world will continue nonetheless. However I may feel that this would be something of a pity.... Albert is a squirrel that forced me to feed him the other day, his gun is just behind the bushy tail.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

TV Obsession

If it's not one thing it's another. TV needs an obsession these days. Luckily Michael Jackson died so we could then endure wall to wall coverage of the loss of one of the most over rated singers for years. Famous less for his meaningless song and dance routines than for his demented and very confused personality. Living proof indeed that fathers need to do their job properly! While there was some nodding acquaintance with the occasional dead soldier from Afghanistan or Obama meeting the Russian leaders and curtailing thousands of nuclear warheads, we return quickly to Los Angeles and the hangers - on around the coffin. BBC, Sky News, and elsewhere indulge themselves with live coverage of the PR stunt designed to ignore the questions nobody wanted to ask. Like what did go on with the small boys, and who is the father/mother of his 'children? Instead we have hours of singers, mostly black, ensuring they are seen to be where they need to be seen whether they really cared or not.

Cynical? Oh yes! A showman dies in the United States and his family come along to mourn or attempt to reclaim their boy. No wrong in that in itself, although the show outweighed the reality. Emotion to the fore while there will be a fight for the money behind the scenes. What with all the hangers on and empty noise from an abundance of 'must be seen' persons, praises and tears from fans I confess I am left feeling cold. The solemnity of the returning bodies of 'our boys' who fell in a different life however fills me with admiration, not least for the self control of the young wife watching her man come home - in a box. TV however does not use the latter to fill their 24 hour screens, but a dead pop singer is an obsession with nothingness that can be enjoyed.

Today the funeral is over but the English are once again obsessed,this time with Cricket! Yes cricket! Rounders with two bats to you and me
(rounders is what Yanks call Baseball for some reason unknown). More importantly to the English this cricket is what they call 'The Ashes.' In the days of long ago they started challenging the Australians to cricket matches. This proved popular and today this is something of huge import to those whose brain seized up during primary school days. It is claimed that after one defeat by the Aussies (apparently the English lose quite a lot in this contest) the visiting captain taunted his opponent by declaring the "Death of English cricket!" If only....

Later some women presented a small urn containing some burnt material, some claim it could be a bail, but a more reliable voice insisted it was a woman's veil, appropriate for those who play this game I would say. TV executives see cricket, and especially the 'Ashes' as important. Wall to wall coverage is however limited as the 'England & Wales County Cricket Board' stupidly sold the right s to Sky, so most folk cannot see it! This does not stop them talking about it everywhere however.

England of course is awash with arrogance, especially when they perceive the Aussies as having a weak side. During the last meeting England won, celebrating with a meeting with the slime ball Tony Blair in Downing Street and an open top bus tour of London. Dearie me! They only won because one of the Aussie world class bowlers was injured and the victory was meaningless, but don't tell them this. They are England and therefore they are bound to win!

Their self belief to the fore England has turned its enmity on the Welsh. Playing the first test in Cardiff the English object to the Welsh national anthem being played before the game, and instead demand their own! Imperialism is never far from an Englishman. Imagine being in a foreign country and demanding your anthem is played! England does! In fact the organisation
behind this goes under the name 'England & Wales County Cricket Board,' so why not play the game in Wales, and why object to their national anthem? Imperialism, no other reason. Funny how there have been Welshmen in the team, and South Africans, Pakistanis and even Scotsmen, sometimes as skipper, but please don't play the game in Wales or mention their anthem! TV however is obsessed with cricket. The anthem is debated, the pitch, the weather, the stadium, the history, the people, the past people, the ball, the bat, the 'silly mid off,' and all the rest over and over on all the channels. Today the game actually got under way, and the Aussies are well on top. There could be another five test thrashing in sight for England (& Wales). This would be sad, wouldn't it? Tee Hee!

Tuesday, 7 July 2009


Coffee, that stuff that wakes your brain in the morning can, if you drink three to five, strong cups of the stuff a day, help prevent Alzheimer's, or so they say. Who say? Swedish & Finnish researchers that's who. This may of course have something to do with both Swede and Finn researchers having nothing to fill the time with during those six long months of darkness of course. This research however sounds encouraging as it has been found that the chemical in the brain that has some influence on the disease is lessened by the effects of coffee. Jolly good you say drinking three straight cups in an effort to stimulate deep thought and keep the ability to answer quiz questions alive until your first century dawns. Brilliant, if you remember to drink the stuff in the first place on not put a tea bag in the cup by mistake.

However, and there is always a 'however,' there is evidence elsewhere, whether from experiments on wide awake mice or humans I cannot tell and don't really care anyway, there is evidence that too much coffee can give you hallucinations! Now this need not bother most of us, that pink elephant Mike sees is caused by too much time in the 'Cock & Wallet,' in Dalkieth, and those spiders ruining Fishy's life are indeed there, that's what you get for living in Americas backwoods. It is of course a delicate balance when dealing with food as the research keeps coming and mostly disagrees with itself. Much reading between the lines (who sponsors this research for instance) and a great deal of cynicism is required to keep the mind sane. In this case careful coffee drinking is advised as while keeping the gray cells alive is very important to us all it can be somewhat diminished if those same gray cells are alive and well enough only to distinguish that large green mouse in the lavatory from the tree growing out of the television set! Women, you will not be surprised to hear, are much more likely to hallucinate and see things that are not there than men. Anyone who has had a woman in their house will of course already be aware of that, coffee or no coffee! On top of all this no one has mentioned that after drinking several strong cups of coffee the drinker cannot close their eyes for a month and the sleep deprivation may also have effects on their health. But that I suppose is the subject of different research!

However all this is slightly less worrying than the German manufacturers ability to foot their foot well in their mouths. Tchibo decided a slogan for their, rather strange, coffee shops was required. They chose 'To each his own,' and while you and I would innocently notice this and immediately forget it in Germany this is not possible. Why? Because the nasty Nazi's already made use of that phrase, on the gates of Buchenwald Concentration Camp, that's why! The camp was intended to hold political and religious prisoners, and a variety of others who offended the sensibilities of the Nazi Party. By putting 'To each his own' instead of 'Work makes free' as found on the extermination camp gates, the Germans intended it to be read as 'You get what you deserve,' at least in their eyes. It is easy to understand why a German coffee shops, probably innocent, advert should be read as offensive to some. The 'sins of the fathers' have been handed down to even this generation of Germans, and those sins were so grievous even coffee is cursed it seems.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Walking Alone

Before the rain clouds gathered, and then failed to gather, I walked down to the pretty bits. I didn't mean to but got distracted after I met an old friend who has been gone from here for a while. By gone I mean he got himself into one of those corners life throws up and sought a way out. Being an employee of Royal Mail entitled him to search all RM jobs and he found one he fancied, in the Shetland Isles! Quite what brought that on I have no idea but his move has been a success for him. Obtaining one of the easiest jobs available and picking up a woman at the same time. Excuse me while I look up the dole office there online.

Anyway as I was gibbering I was distracted by our talk and instead of the healthy walk down that way past the rich folks new houses and up past the age old houses containing the rich who moved there to be with their own kind in spite of the cost and the heavy traffic outside their window, I ended up in a wood! I sauntered down over the remains of a stile, damaged beyond repair by twenty years worth of 'youth traffic' headed for the nearby college, greeted a surly, imitation middle class artisans family as they, well she, struggled to cycle up a slope while nursing whatever bad mood had dominated their morning, and decided to wander past the 'burn' they call a 'river,' rather than the moneyed classes dwellings. Now being brought up overlooking the Firth of Forth a 'river' to me is something that is two miles wide and full of shipping. This one is a dozen or so yards across and slower than my mother in a Post Office! Now this is nice, and not to be sneered at, but really, is this a true 'river?' Ptah! Having had no breakfast to speak off (lies all lies) I was reluctant to wander far as I knew the path could go on for ever! Folk have been known to wander there for a picnic and never been seen again! I swear there is a platoon of Japanese soldiers who are still fighting the second world war there! Anyway I wandered around in the mirk for a short while.

Now to return to my theme. I was alone! Nobody else moved. Nothing could be heard but the slow gurgle of water trickling, the birdies twittering and pages yesterdays papers some lout had deposited here and there rustling in the bushes. What does it require for someone not to realise that old papers, plastic bags and empty beer tins do not add to the beauty of the woodland? I asked a passing Mallard if the paper was his but he denied it. That apart the sounds were country like and enjoyable. However I was alone and as often happens, maybe because I read the papers to much, I began to wonder. I wondered what others thought if they saw me walking alone in a wood? I often pass a primary school when going along the old railway and half expect the neurotic mums to start screaming as I pass, alone. Now if I sat alone by a river bank with a fishing rod and stared into space nobody would ask a question, just a man fishing. However, if I sit alone by a river bank I get funny looks. A single man is not there to enjoy the nature around him, he is up to something! Other men often confess the same fear and it annoys me. When I was young we were told if something happens, get help from an adult. While were were warned about 'strange men' it remained an instruction to ask an adult, either sex, if there was a problem. Do kids get told this today? If a five year old lad fell over would I pick him up, cuddle his tears away, and set him on his road? Would I not be more likely to pass by in case a neurotic woman with short hair and dangling earrings came rushing out shouting 'Pervert!' If that happened I confess I may well murder her I must say.

I realise some women feel hesitation in walking alone in some areas and at awkward times, but at least they never have the fear of being classed as a paedo! I suspect that fifty years ago there were proportionately just as many paedos around as today, but the fear is greater! The press are much to blame by screaming headlines, and government, national and local, just as much to blame by not offering an objective overview and proper judicial care. Our council rehoused a paedo a few years ago, his new place was opposite a children's playground! A small thing and I have never actually ran into trouble like this, but it is always a thought at the back of the mind. In fact some years ago at Pool Harbour they had a stall enabling kids to go 'crabbing.' While most gathered around the hut one lad, about nine year old, separated himself from the bustling mob, a leader of the future I reckon. As I passed he spoke, wanting me to be impressed with his considerable catch. Indeed I was and told him so, with one eye on the folks in the distance awaiting his boxer dad rushing over and planting me a thruppenny one! This did not happen but it was in my mind. I am in danger of becoming as neurotic as the readers of the 'Daily Mail!'

Saturday, 4 July 2009


Friends, we all have them, well some of us, and I was thinking of how they all disappear. What I mean is that at one time, when younger, several of us would meet regularly, often late into the night. A glance at the address book, one of them, shows that none of them are within a hundred miles of me now, and only three are in regular contact. It must be said that speaks a lot for their indulgence! What happens to the rest?

Life comes along and we move on. Jobs, university course end, marriage and other rotten things happen to us or them and suddenly a group of ten has become a group of three. This 'natural wastage' (as one boss once referred to myself) is usually replaced by incomers of one sort or another, if that is you had that many friends in the first place. In fact while we may belong to a large crowd of people usually up to a hundred may be 'friends' at one level, but only two or three are ever true friends. If your lucky you will live with one of these, if not bury her in the garden, nobody will notice until 'Time Team' come calling in a thousand years time. However there are many who become friends for a short time, through work or some other hindrance to life, it is these that come to mind tonight.

At one time I had an ansafone that was worked by small tapes. I found one that had been replaced one day and inserted the thing and came across a female voice who had been one of these friends. For the life of me I had no idea who she was! Clearly she was part of our social group, clearly she could not live without me (Stop it now!), but who was she? Photographs in albums give clear pictures of many friends, what were their names I wonder? Even if I remember a name or two I cannot always place them in any other way. How many people have had their lives touched (a suitable word) by me? Do they remember me now? Are they bitter and twisted at the thought of my name? Do any of them miss me?

Friday, 3 July 2009

So much time so nothing gets done.

Some years ago I spent a few years working as a porter in a small hospital in the concrete jungle that is London. I was glad to get this job, firstly because since arriving in the capital of the empire I had been employed in a council highways depot, shifting pavement slabs and hot bags of concrete on, that is, the rare occasions work was demanded of us. The second reason was the year I had spent working on the trauma ward in Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary. This had brought me into close contact with patients as I considered whether nursing was a career (although it was only called a ‘job’ back then) that I should attempt. The nursing staff, or ‘angels’ as the media called them, soon began to suggest I looked more in the direction of the Pathology Department, possibly a Mortician vacancy may arise they said, and that would lessen the dangers. I never quite knew what they were getting at however they stressed that they felt this was somehow more appropriate! I suppose it’s not everyone who can mistake a foot, attached to a leg recently emerged from a cartilage operation, for a crumpled sheet, as the owner of the leg discovered with a resounding scream one morning. Nor is it tactful to offer reassuring words to relatives concerned over their aged grandfather when he dies an hour later. Several of us hid behind the office door when they returned that evening! I will not mention what happened with that catheter that time…..

Anyway, I was employed for some years at the Maida Vale Hospital, as a porter, and in this small hospital I came into daily contact with all patients and staff and rarely did I come close to eradicating any of them, err, except for that incident with the stretcher on the front steps, obviously. This was a busy job and during the average day there were many times when we were doing several things at once, especially myself as I was considered so important to the running of that place. (Stop giggling at the back there!) An oxygen cylinder required on one ward, the lovely Louise in outpatients needing a visit, a patient needing direction, the lovely Elaine in the office over they way requiring attention, a problem with a dinner trolley, or Margaret on the switchboard needing me… …anyway I digress, I digress.

The point I was making is that when we are busy, and at the hospital we (meaning me!) often were very busy, it was easy to do several things at once, and visit outpatients for a chat. However come the weekend the world changed. Many of the inmates were allowed home, outpatients closed and scheduled operations were rare, so it tended to quieten down considerably. This brings me to the crux (is that allowed?) of the discussion. You see when Sunday came there was nothing to do! On occasions I would work a twelve hour shift to cover sickness and nothing happened! Now in one sense this is good, but in another it was hard. Taking the food trolleys upstairs three times. Taking them down again afterwards, and chucking out the uneaten porridge after breakfast (and no wonder!), became the main job for the day. Other jobs may arise but I didn’t want to do them! An oxygen cylinder needed changing but I struggled to get my feet of my desk, put down the paper, set aside the cup and struggle out to work. During the week it was almost unnoticed how many were changed as we were so overworked (especially me!). Not on Sunday however!

This came to mind as I looked around this dwelling, although ‘dwelling’ may be making it sound too luxurious. The desk is littered with paperwork needing attention. There is a pile of bills in the corner and one of them is dated 1998! A thin layer of dust lies over most of the place, and I hate to inform the world of whatever is in the laundry basket. I have no idea what that was but I swear it has moved three times today! I did find a clean cup, eventually, but really I have been overtaken, not hard, by sloth! This is because when there is so much free time small things, like ‘TechTris’ interferes with the free flow of ideas, and labour is shoved aside while the stomach is filled and the contents always require sleeping off. Naturally the sun has drawn me out several times, blinking into the brightness like a bat near a street light, but even then I dawdle when in a previous life I raced along. On Wednesday a tortoise overtook me! Anyway, I have been writing this since last January and I thought you ought to know.

Thursday, 2 July 2009


So this morning I got my bulk onto the bike and toddled around for a short while. I sauntered along the old railway enjoying the noise of the birds and the warmth of the sun. And warm sun at eight in the morning is an unusual occurrence around here. The line was littered with an assortment of bird life pecking at the pathway. Just what they were after I could not see but, invisible to the human eye, something was down there that attracted all the birds, Thrushes, Pigeons, and Dunnocks, etc. They all treated me with contempt, some loudly informing me where to go. I find a strange enjoyment while making my way along here. I tend to think it is all those years in London, the window of my slum faced east and while the view was tolerable the sun disappeared round the corner after midday! Now I cannot get enough of the daylight, the trees, birds and countryside that is around here, however boring that may be.

Party will not spend their way out of recession, but they will ensure more for their friends! I worry not however, as I ought to be faithful to the God who never leaves us. Maybe I should start this now? When I returned, weary and worn, I discovered my weight had gone down to just above When I weighed myself, to a strange creaking sound, I discovered the soup and bread I had been stuffing myself with, as part of a calorie controlled diet, has increased my bulk to fifteen and a half stone! It was supposed to go the other way. I may have to use smaller lentils I think. So later in the day I walked to the edge of town to Tesco's big shop there and was diddled by the fat chav bitch on the counter. Fifty pence she nicked. I will check on her later. Promenading along I indulged in another bout of guilt at those who still had to force themselves into work each day. By telling myself I have already encountered some forty years of such work made me feel better, but not for long! However the recession may well continue for some time, and under the next government, which will be Tory, the unemployed will have more stress put on them and less help. Their numbers will also increase, possibly more than doubling as the Conservativefifteen stone. This says much for the heat out there!

Aching knees did not stop me going out in the afternoon once again. The strength given by Lentil soup (without bread) enabled me to walk in the other direction. This route takes me through the delightful small industrial estate where I wondered if work may be available. As five members of one company were sitting in the sun at the back door, at the busiest time of the day, I reckoned they do not need my help. I came back through the railway but this time the walk was spoiled by all the mums gathering to fetch the brats from the school along there. Apart from the noise, loud chatter, laughing, screaming, and the kids are as bad, all these young mums walk too fast for me and I canny keep up! Anyway I am now just above fifteen stone, have red patches all over, and my knees feel as if they will fall apart soon. Health appears to be round the corner! What a way to spend a birthday. Mind you that reminded me of how lovely the family is. I am glad they are my family!