Monday, 31 August 2009

August Bank Holiday

As I left behind my somnolence this morning, it struck me that this was a 'Bank Holiday.' I knew this immediately I glanced outside that this was a 'Bank Holiday' because the sky was battleship gray, and a strong wind was waving the tree branches opposite. The term 'Bank Holiday' refers to the time when the banks, and most others, took time of for religious festivals, 'Saints days,' as they were originally, at least in England. Over thirty were known in the early part of the nineteenth century and gradually these have been amended to a handful. No longer concerned with Saints or banks it has become a standing joke that each holiday is greeted with cries of despair as the rain teems down and the wind howls along the streets! However it is not always this way, this is the UK after all, and there is just as much chance of sunshine as rain on such a days. Now for instance, as I glance at the passing girls trees opposite I see the sun is shining and the sky is blue and people are out attempting to make the most of the hot sun.

This admiration for the sun I admit is not always good. A figure has just passed by on the other side, shirtless, with large bare boobs, and wearing my indoor glasses which are not good at that distance, I first thought it to be a female! But no, (and it's a big butt!) the creature was a near naked male taking his kids through the streets! I am just glad there were no whaling boats around just now or there may have been a harpoon flying in his direction! Jings what a sight! I'm glad I was wearing the wrong glasses! This sort of thing might be all right in the privacy of your own home but lease, not in public!

Anyway, early this morning, after stuffing my fat face I cycled off against the westerly wind and headed up the old railway. (Known as the Flitch Way)Because of the Holiday few were around even at that time, just after half past seven, and the empty track encouraged me to travel further afield than usual. In fact I made it to the old rail bridge that once led into Felsted railway station, I say once, as it has long since been removed. The station is now a private dwelling, (how nice is that?) and the occupants probably dislike the idea of people tramping past their window. Getting there and back gave me a run of around twelve miles on the bike, the most I have managed for a while. In the, now distant, past I made it all the way to Bishops Stortford and back, around thirty miles, yet today I struggle to do this little run. However at least I can do this and that pleases me, especially once I get home!

Very few people around, a few dog walkers, most giving a happy, if reluctant, greeting, except the miserable lass with two big gray dogs scowling as she always does. I think she believes herself attractive and expects men are looking at her, hmmm, not with an expression like that dearie! Why do women mistake a grunted greeting as you pass with an attempt on their honour (honour?). Is it arrogance that they think you should be looking at them, or that the girl is herself always on the lookout for a fancy man herself? Hmmm I wonder. One couple were noticed far ahead walking fast in an exercise pattern. Walking quickly, then swinging the arms, and I suspect knee bending every so often, as she put herself, and her man through torments to keep themselves young. They were probably the cheeriest people out there on the 'Flitch Way' today. As I made my way back they were still happily getting fit, although I believe he was already thinking of his bath, a quick rub down and a fine whisky by that time!

There is always one miserable jogger making his way along the old line. Usually someone in his late thirties, early forties, 'iPod' plugged in, doing his best to ignore the world and wishing death on each and everyone who greets his passing. What is it with such men? Are they desperate for fitness because of the needs of their job, or could it be a desperate desire to retain the last vestiges of youth? Sometimes I feel there is a mid life crises there and a fear of a slackening sex life, a loss of desirability to women, and a real fear that life has passed them by. The fact that we all go through this escapes them and their anguish is dealt with alone and unannounced to the world, at least in words. It's the manly way! I sometimes watch these men, often 'successful' in their sphere, big car, good house, good money, wife and kids, yet worried about their image or their place in the rat race. They are not content, that can be seen in their attitude. Now I realise that these attitudes change with each day, however we reveal ourselves more indirectly than directly in many occasions. I sometimes want to grab them and tell them Jesus can make their lives worthwhile, but you know they will pass by, either afraid to consider this or have no thoughts about Gods reality for them at all. What is going on in there?

The biggest problem today was of course the weather and the slopes of the old track. Now as I made my way west I hurtled along at a good speed as much of the line is flat and with the bike well oiled, and the tyres full of air, even on the slopes I made good time and this was indeed a fine healthy exercise for the heart. However the wind was somewhat against me though hidden to some extent by the trees and high bushes at each side. I was however glad the return journey could be taken in a more idle fashion, down hill. Naturally having reached the end, wandered around for a while to denumb my bum, I gratefully headed home. It was several minutes of avoiding the many rabbits that waited till the last minute before scurrying away at my passing before I realised I was still going upwards and now fighting an easterly wind. Where did this come from? Why is it that each and every day the wind and the slope is against you no matter which direction you are headed? I considered a phone call to the meteorological office but suspected that they would fiddle a computer somewhere and turn on the rain and complete my day for me. However I made it home, tired and grateful that I could cycle a bike, managed to smile at most folk I met, discussed the rules of the way with a dog or two and could stuff my fat face and then sit in a hot bath for an hour or two reading books (pictures available for a price!).

Of course my back now aches with stiffness, my knees are telling me this was too far, and I have not lost an ounce in weight. Still, it was worth it and I might try something similar tomorrow, if the weather lets me.

Friday, 28 August 2009

It;s Friday Night....

and I have nothing to say!

So I will not say it!

Thursday, 27 August 2009


Have you ever wondered why it took several thousand years before we 'discovered' photography? I have. I just thought I would mention this. Taking pictures is one of the great, and simple, events in life. OK when I say simple I realise there is a big difference from the lass taking a snap of her wee boy covering himself in mud and a professional with thousands of pounds worth of camera producing an advert that could make a company millions, but basically it is simple. You see something, point the camera and shoot! All photographers know that it can take hundreds of shots before you get the 'one' that matters, but for most of us we take a handful of shots and usually find a decent enough shot to impress someone somewhere.

Photography has such uses. Advertising is with us everywhere, so much so we don't notice it, family history, just spend an hour going through old albums and see what you learn of folks from the past, identity at work and in some countries in the street. Try getting on a plane in the UK without any ID! However the best pictures are those you take yourself and rediscover years later. Memories, both good and bad, places and people long forgotten, and a realisation regarding just how good, or bad, some of your photography actually can be!

I like portrait photography and have taking hundred in days gone by, and I have at least three that have come out real well! Not that the one pictured liked their picture, especially when it really is them! "To see ourselves as others see us...."

So I demand that from now on you lot take more pictures and post them. The digital camera such as my cheap little thing here, has made posting pics so easy. It is fun and enlightening for the world. But mostly taking pictures is actually just fun!

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Steam Trains

What an image!

Who can fail to be impressed when a steam train comes hurtling along the line? A living machine, full of character and with sounds and smells that cannot be forgotten. A steam train is an experience, an event, not just a machine to get people from one place to another!

Many more pictures here for people with a heart! Free Foto Preserved Rail

Is that not fantastic? I was never one of those anoraks who stood there with a notebook taking down the train numbers, that never crossed my little mind. However when in Cowdenbeath or Dunfermline I would hang around the station, there was nothing else to do, and watch the trains go by. In Cowdenbeath we were at the bridge and down below would thunder expresses from Aberdeen to all points south, goods trains with dozens of trucks, and a wide variety of local services, also the coal trains coming from the many pits around there. Marvellous to see and, being young, every driver and his mate responded to our waving! Just like our arrival at Waverley Station, we would offer the drivers sweets and it was never known for them to refuse! It was possible on occasions to see a queue waiting to feed the driver, and they always accepted. They must have had rotten teeth!

This is the famous 'Mallard' on one of it's 'special' runs. It will never again reach the fastest speed but still holds the world record. Gresley, the designer, produced several of these 'streamlined Pacific's' and I was once drawn back to Edinburgh from Cowdenbeath behind one of these, possibly 'The Union of South Africa' which did indeed run up to Aberdeen. It was twilight as the train entered the station and in the distance it looked great. However by the time it reached the platform and I heard the noise and saw the red hot cinders leap out the chimney at the front I took fright and ran behind everybody and hid! I was a bit younger then......

Monday, 24 August 2009

Monday Night

I wore out my typing fingers on the brief 'Lancaster' story on The Past.

So here is a picture of the back end of a traditional English Olde Worlde Curry House.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Now I'm not one to complain

However last night I did say, "'They' have it in for me, in similar manner to the way the SFA/SPL/Glasgow Mafia have it in for the Heart of Midlothian, which will clearly be seen tomorrow during the game!" And lo it has come to pass!
While it is clear we failed miserably to dominate when the Rangers were rightly reduced to ten men after Thomson's thuggish foul on Black, we ended up losing because of a penalty that never was - again! Once more Rangers side in need of points gets the penalty they require, thank to a Glasgow official! How many more times I ask?
However that really is not the reason we lost. We were well on top after the sending off, well on top after the goal, lucky though it was, and we stopped! Instead of keeping up the pressure and pace we backtracked, ponced about with the ball at the back rather than going forward. I realise Rangers fell back in to deep defence but surely we should have been more positive than this? They realised this failing of ours an Smith amended his side accordingly. They equalised then won in the dying minutes with a hand from the ref. I await his apology!

Any good points? Yes indeed. The team was up for the challenge, they took the game at first by the scruff of the neck and deservedly led, it should have been more! Also Jose Gonzalves played very well indeed and at all times looked as if he wanted to go forward. Great display from him, even allowing for his 'bomb scare' approach in the box sometimes! One thing is for sure, we need three experienced players there. Right back, striker, and midfielder. Vlad will not pay, and we could end up losing Casba! It's a disgrace!

As the sun was shining brightly here I decided to take advantage after the game and go out for the second time. I struggled along a different path, one full of slight slopes and big (to me) hills. On one of them I was overtaken by a fat lass on a bike going so fast I thought I had stopped so I got off, and found myself splattered all over the hillside! She didn't stop to help!
I made it to a country path used only by brats going to school and the occasional dog walker. It is years since I first found this, and about ten years since I have trolled along there. It has not improved. On the left is the by pass but on the right we find fields, recently harvested and one newly ploughed already. Real country vista with trees in the distance, round bales of hay and nothing moving but flying beasties and aircraft high above. If you look closely you will see that without the planes the sky would be almost cloudless. The muck thrown out by the jet engines fills the sky with trails. Later I crossed the park opposite and counted at least twenty six trails in the sky. No wonder the planet is polluted!

Tonight I attempted a pic of 'The Swan,' a pub that has stood there since 1560. Quite why it is called 'The Swan,' I do not know as there are no swans for miles! Not even in 1560 would a swan have waddled up the street, unless it was the sign of some right man of the town in that period. It could be of course they sold swans here around that time, but what do I know?

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Nothing to Say

Another boring Saturday night. Nothing to say and nothing in my mind. The football was poor today, the baddies won and we don't play till tomorrow when the Rangers ref cheats us. I had no need to rummage through the shops as I had no needs and no money to meet them. TV is rotten, and the radio is not much better. There is no-one around, and my cooking today was rubbish! My knees ache after the short cycle today, the muscles are stiff, and, for reasons I will not go into, I am now scared stiff of spider bites! Now I find I can't get help from the 'Thai Massage and Takeaway Curry House' as some interfering immigration officials, with the help of several large police officers have deported them back home! I also had several very unlikely jobs to write pleading letters to, but just could not be bothered! I an spend a good while writing lies the details of my experience, I send it by post or e-mail, and get no reply! Some overpaid office wallah glances at this epistle and presses the 'delete' button and my life is in the bin. Probably beside a hundred or so others these days. Gone are the days when I could be bothered with all this. I just don't see the point just now. I have little to offer, the type of work I have done is out of reach now, and age is against me, as indeed being male these days! I confess that in the past I have yearned to be in work, but not know. Forty years of work have left me tired of the 'office politics,' daft bosses (just how do some companies survive I ask?) and a tiredness I just can't shake off leave me drained. I look for something exciting and worthwhile, but it hides in the bushes, and the bushes around here I am not going to search I can tell you! Even the newly acquired driving licence is not helping!

However as I wandered around town ogling the girls checking out the market as it closed, I noticed the sky. How marvellous is it? Lots of blue, and high above long streaky clouds, (I would give the correct meteorological name, but I don't want to exhaust you) and huge puffy ones. Several different types, not counting the muck spewed out of aircraft heading to and from Stansted Airport. (I'm tempted to say 'You cannot be cirrus, but I won't) In spite of huge rain clouds hovering over the majority of the UK, down here we have been enjoying balmy times. The wind has an edge today but it keeps the large clouds passing by and the air is warm, just how I like it! Although the nights are in fact drawing in, and Scotland benefits here as the skies there are better than down south, it is still bright blue outside. I'm tempted to wander outside and look for dropped coins once again!

Now as you know I am not one to complain, as you must know by now, but having the desire to post, and having nothing to write about can be wearying, as I'm sure you realise. However I am annoyed that i know nobody! You see, a form has arrived from the bank, concerning my mothers money. Simple enough except that we need to sign it. That too is simple, I can do joined up writing now. However it also requires a witness to sign claiming they have seen you sign this form. This week I have had no contact with anyone here! I have met several out there in the world, but not one here who could sign this form! Is that not just typical? It is a confederation of spite against me I tell you. 'They' have it in for me, in similar manner to the way the SFA/SPL/Glasgow Mafia have it in for the Heart of Midlothian, which will clearly be seen tomorrow during the game! Only today I went for the dinner I had placed in the fridge last night to discover it was in fact still in the freezer! Not for the first time this has happened. The other day I was up town and noticed my phone, which I never use, was not in my pocket, where it always is. 'They' had done it again, proof indeed that clearly 'they' are out to get me!

I must close now as I suspect 'they' will be rewriting this as gobbledegook the finish I brethren minute cobber, you watch!

Americans Are NOT Stupid!

Friday, 21 August 2009

Friday Evening

Friday evening, so here is a nice picture.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi

Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, the only man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, has been released from Greenock prison and is on his way back to Libya.

Quite right too!

There are serious doubts as to this man's guilt. There clearly was political interference in this trial, and Scotland, with its own government, has been pressurised both by the UK and the US governments. I am proud of the way the Scots have decided to follow their own inclinations, and correct inclinations at that, to put mercy, a part of the Scots legal system, at the heart of the judicial decision. This was a legal decision, and a correct one.

How did we get into this mess?

The most likely reason is the incompetent, 'Gun-Ho' attitude of the USS Vincennes, under Captain Will Rogers III. The ship was known as 'Robocruiser,' by other US warships in the Gulf at the time. The US had placed many warships in the Gulf during the Iran-Iraq war for reasons of their own. Such ships began challenging every aircraft, commercial or otherwise, even including those approaching Dubai International Airport! Their panic, inspired by lurid anti-Iran propaganda, their incompetence and lack of training, their lack of knowledge of air routes and how commercial airlines operated, added to the 'John Wayne' closed minded bullying so beloved of American military men, inevitably led to disaster!

On 3rd July 1988, Iran Air IR655 took off on a regular commercial flight and headed over the Gulf. The pilot, Captain Mohsen Rezaian, an experienced pilot and a regular on this route, communicated with three air controllers as he flew. The channel he used meant he could not accept incoming calls from the Vincennes, as the ship ought to have realised, and he continued to ascend while the panicking US warship below decided he was in fact 'diving' to attack. Concluding, against all the evidence, that this was an F-14 Iranian Fighter the Yanks shot two heat seeking missiles and brought down 290 passengers and crew, including 66 children. Their bodies could be seen falling from the sky by other US ships.

The US propaganda went into full spin, supported by the ever faithful Margaret Thatcher. Claims of attacking Iranian gunboats, the airbus diving with a suicidal pilot and other lies filled the media. All were proved to be a lie. President Reagan, a comedian that would never have been elected in any other nation, apologised to the world, and considered this 'sufficient. He wrote to Congress stating 'This closed.' As he spoke most of the bodies lay unclaimed, and unrecognisable, in a warehouse.

Later, the USS Vincennes returned home to a hero's welcome. Te crew received 'combat medals,' and lauded by US for their prompt action. The dead were forgotten, after all they were mostly Iranian, and they were enemies sworn to destroy America. So that's all right then. The children probably had no idea America existed even when they fell out of the aircraft at 10,000 feet! However, they know now, don't they!

Aircraft leaving Heathrow and heading for North America follow a path towards the west coast of England and cross the border into Scotland shortly before heading over the Atlantic. On the 21st of December, four days before Christmas 1988, Pan-Am Boeing 747-121, named 'Clipper, Maid of the Seas,' flying at 31,000 feet, exploded just as it reached this point. A mere six months after Iran Air IR 655 had been brought down. The plane landed in the small Scots town of Lockerbie killing 243 passengers, 16 crew, and 11 people on the ground. 270 in all.

After an exhaustive investigation, covering many parts of the world, Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi was the only man convicted of the crime. The fact that one man took the blame indictaes something somewhere has never been revealed concerning this conviction. One man could never have taken this action, so who did? Did the Ayatollah Khomeini's talk of vengeance lead to Lockerbie? Did Ahmed Jibril, the leader of the PFLP-GC, or the Syrians have a part in this? Will we ever know? I doubt it.

One thing is clear, Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi is dying. Scot law allows for mercy, even to those convicted of serious crime, around three dozen such claims have already been made in Scottish prisons this year already. He may well have had a part in this crime yet I agree with this decision. It reflects well on Scottish standards, and indeed on the majority of the relatives of the many Britons killed in the Lockerbie incident. It reveals a great deal about American attitudes and in particular those relatives of US dead who wish to see this man die in jail. I wonder how they reacted to the USS Vincennes incident? Did they notice this happening? Did they excuse this as a ship 'defending' itself? is it possible these relatives were amongst those honouring the men responsible for the Iranian Airbus being brought down?

Life is very hard sometimes. Barbara W. Tuchman, an excellent American historian, wrote a book called, 'The March of Folly,' in which she used four wars to show how a lack of understanding of your enemy leads to conflict. A failure amongst US and Iranian political leaders, alongside Saddam Hussein's war with Iraq, political 'spin' ensuring the enemy is painted black and truth is avoided, on all sides. A culture with moral lack, and fear amongst men forced into places and situations they do not understand, all these led to 560 needless deaths!

We will hear much more of this situation for a while to come. We will however never find the truth! The media, following the lead of their owners will say whatever they are told to say, and some thought 'Pravda' was a lie, the papers concerned with the need to make money as opposed to honest journalism. Truth does not make money, giving the people what they 'wish' to read does!

Sending Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi home shows Scotland in a good light, merciful and just. I agree with the decision, as should all people. It does not help the relatives, but neither does the lack of truth, and that will never be revealed.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009


Edinburgh has been named as the one city people wish to see 'before they die!' I can understand this! Scotland's capital city has the mighty Firth of Forth to the north and the Pentland Hills to the south, contains within it several other hills tourists long to traverse, and two, yes two, extinct volcanoes. (No I do not mean the corrupting remains of the twa wifies from Canonmills!) Also found there are historic buildings going back hundreds of years, buildings which contained the men, and one or two women, who brought civilisation to the world! History abounds in Edinburgh, from the Castle perched high upon the rock, down the Royal Mile to Holyrood House and all places in between.

The city contains two major universities, and lots of educational establishments, (I learnt one or two things in Edinburgh I can tell you) a financial sector second only to the City of London (and if you doubt this read up about our Fred!) A bright bustling economy which is fighting back against the US led recession, (ask our Fred about this also!) a religious history, many great revivals and missionary expeditions were centred on the Kirk in Scotland, many renown eating establishments, (which I canny afford) and hundreds of drinking ones (ask our friend Mike about those, especially 'The Diggers') a history of great men and thousands of positive steps forward into a better world for all, and of course two football teams. The Heart of Midlothian, Edinburgh's 'big team' and Hibernian, the Leith based 'wee team.'

Naturally the majority of people would wish to visit the city, and not just because I was born there! The Scottish capital came out ahead of Bath, Liverpool, Belfast, Glasgow and Oxford, a town named such because someone saw an Ox in a ford! Certainly one wonders why anyone would wish to visit Liverpool as outside of the Beatles there is nothing of value to be found there. Glasgow, a word which means 'Dear Green Place,' has many museums of course, however most of them are the buildings which house the scurrilous natives. Belfast may bring visitors to see the divided city's war zones and the surrounding country, but little else. Oxford of course is now the haunt of middle class types wasting three or so years of their lives before making far too much money. I actually went there myself so I know what I am talking about.
It was a lovely day.

London, Cardiff, York and Cambridge were the places that followed on as 'places to see before you die!' London naturally requires a visit, just don't live there for over twenty years in case you become old, cynical, and grumpy. I actually spent a night in Cardiff in 1976 and decided I would never go abroad again after that! York I have never visited but a postman who moved there says it is a delightful place, but the people are what Yorkshiremen are, dour, truculent and crabby. And as for Cambridge I don't even know where it is!

These surveys, by 'Travelodge' a hotel chain, always give a limited view of life but certain things can be agreed with, for instance Newcastle was regarded as the friendliest place, with Liverpool and Manchester not far behind. London, Birmingham and Glasgow were regarded as the least friendly, although outside of football matches I always found Glasgow a friendly place in the main. So if you wonder where to visit next Edinburgh is for you, and decent well run, (by two lovely young ladies) self catering 'Edinburgh Villa' accommodation is just around the corner also!


On another subject Jerry, who dwells somewhere deep in the Ozark Mountains, wishes me to post this. He would himself he says, but his wife will not let him. Chicken!

Click to enlarge.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Portrait of Louise Jopling

Sir John Everett Millais (1829 - 1896)

I love portraits. Once upon a time when I had friends I used to attempt to become another Karsh or Snowdon. It was not to be however I did enjoy it and have a few snaps that I like. Those portrayed often did not like the pictures funnily enough, and this became worse for them when others cried "Oh that's just you!" Funny how we rarely like to see ourselves as we are. Women especially are like this because they will see only faults, and usually faults no man will see, faults they expect another woman to notice, and faults which in the end do not actually determine whether she is worth anything or not - the personality outshines all cosmetic faults.
Some men share the dislike of seeing themselves. This has less to do with the cosmetic side, shout "Hoi Ugly!" to any group of men and most will turn round, then point to their mate! However if the male has an image of himself, good or bad, and the picture reminds him of this, or indeed corrects his assumptions,then he feels attacked and reacts in the time honoured male fashion, he gets either violent and yells blue murder, or he sulks like a nine year old. (By the way, I have no pictures of me on view!) None the less photographs of ourselves will continue to be taken and the rich among you may well have an oil painting or two on your wall of yourself or a loved one. This is actually a good thing because in spite of you being you people wish to have a record of your existence, something the minority in history could possess.

My failure to make the grade is not equaled by Sir John Everett Millais. He became one of the foremost portrait painters, and he was not even a Scot! Louis Jopling was a well known portraitist herself and modelled for this picture. Millais then gave her the portrait as a gift foe her son, his Godson. As a leading member of 'Women's suffrage' she was clearly a troublemaker, although when she applied for a commission (worth £150) she lost out to Millais himself, who then earned £1000! Well she was just a woman after all!

Read about both, they sound admirable, and rich, people. Then study their pictures and take photos of those around you!

Monday, 17 August 2009

The New Season Has Arrived

The new season has arrived. The Heart of Midlothian tramped all the way to Dundee, on a Monday night, in spite of having to fly to Croatia tomorrow for the European match on Thursday. The anti-Heart of Midlothian SFA/SPL can be seen in action once again here!

However the season opens and we have made our first statement of intent - we lost! This was not all bad as I thought there were reasons for optimism in the defeat. Obua and Gonzalves looked good, especially after the defence sorted itself out at half time. Suso was lively and Nade was a lot slimmer than I thought. He must have been a mere 19 atone tonight. No wonder he had to come of after 75 minutes, tired and worn out.

Naturally the bias reared its head early into the game. A foul outside the box given as inside, their goalkeeper carrying the ball out the box ignored by the linesman that gave the penalty that wasn't. Our blatant penalty turned down and Michael Stewart again picked on by the ref just because he wore a maroon shirt!

Overall I was quite happy. I enjoyed the game, am used to us being cheated, and can see the team settling in quite well once the get to know one another better. United looked strong but made few chances, Zagreb on Thursday will be a lot harder.

Friday, 14 August 2009


Early this week all was good. The last 48 hours have left me agitated and 'gun toting!' This really annoys me! I start by wanting to do the best and a thought, a song, or just too much coffee enters in and "I DON'T CARE ANY MORE" about anything and find myself allowing people to notice this, usually when I throw a supermarket trolley at them. This is not what I want but it leaks out before I am aware of it. This annoys me, being annoyed. Then, when annoyed at my annoyance I allow my annoyance to annoy me and that annoys me more!
I'm annoyed now.

Once more I have spent the day scanning pictures of KOSB's from the past. I find myself beginning to identify with these men, becoming part of their group, a comrade with them. That surely is the most important part of any army unit, the comradeship! Pictures of the march from Poona made me sweat in the hot sun, and I swear, just like they were wearing those packs, that this have given me blisters on my feet. This picture however brought to mind the old, somewhat sarcastic, cry of "Why should Britain fear?"

Because this is what is defending you in 1930 folks, that's why!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Busy Day in China

I have spent most of the day scanning pictures from my dad's old albums onto the PC. This was going to be a short job however after we decided to offer one of the album to the KOSB museum I have discovered just how many photographs there are!

The majority are those taken by dad when a young man with the KOSB in HongKong and Poona (but not at the same time). A box brownie probably, often at an angle, and with little understanding of how bright sunshine interferes with picture taking! So today I have scanned hundreds in, altered most of them and find a whole day has gone.

Many of the pics, like the one above, were professionally taken, bought in sets and he has stuck them in the album. (Note how the word 'Junk' is spelt by the photographer) These give a good image of Hong Kong between 1926 and 1930, but I suggest those living there today would not be able to identify many places amongst the skyscrapers now.

At least this stopped me thinking about Gary Caldwell and Scotland's hopes shrinking.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Scotland Lose

If you want me, I will be hiding in the coal cellar.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Alfred G Buckham

Many years ago I came across a picture of a biplane high over the Forth Bridge. The view was tremendous and against the large puffy cloud formation the plane stood out magnificently. Recently I saw this picture again and while still impressed I noted how memory changes things. There were in fact three biplanes in the picture. it was some time before I realised that the photographer, one Alfred G Buckham, had of course put together several pictures to form the finished image. Later I was to read of him standing, knees bent, beside a tripod and large box camera in a flimsy aircraft, very cold, bouncing along in the turbulence, several thousand feet high, attempting to obtain an image.

During the Great War he had trained airmen in techniques required for aerial photography, and after the war he continued to merge his love of flight with his love of his art. Several crashes did not hinder him, and eventually he suffered from a crash so bad he could not breath and a tube had to be permanently inserted in his throat. he carried on his work. He flew across the UK, and North and South America in all weathers, under many hindrances, and continued to produce art of a high quality. When eventually the flying had to stop he concentrated on merging the images to complete the job.

Celia Ferguson's has produced a new book on this great photographer. Buy it - for me!

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Sunday Evening

So after cycling for four miles around the village up the road early today I met the minister of the old church. I say old as most of the folks are indeed old. You can tell something about a church by the bible version they use, here it is the Authorised Version, you know the 'Dossers Bible,' 'Dost this' and 'Dost that.' Well a while back he told me he had buried half his congregation and having met him again I thought I would look in. The first thing noticeable was they way he has been going through the rest of his members! About twenty four folks there I reckoned, and four were children. This is a building capable of holding several hundred!

The music was a wee bit slow as his wife has to play the organ and while capable she has no professional training. The hymns tend to be six or seven verses and with chorus's this could take a while to get through! However these folk have come regularly, for many years, and worship their God! The lack of numbers, mad worse by holidays and sickness, about a dozen members are dying slowly at home, was unfortunate but the man speaks very well. I have visited several times and see him as the star of the show! A man no longer young who feels that he is called to serve these folk, which he does in spite of his own faulty heart. This is what a 'calling' and a 'ministry' are all about! Not much glamour, many problems, and too many funerals, but they persevere as they think right. Naturally this canny man is a Scotsman, but I suppose you will have realised a man as noble as this must be. His talks last a mere fifteen to twenty minutes, longer may put too much strain on the old folks, and are always from the head and the heart. A knowledgeable man in the ways of the world, a Glasgow birth ensures that, and knowing his God ensure he does not compromise his words and tells the truth as he ought. This is the type of man who should be doing those five minute 'Thought for the Day' programme on Radio 4 each morning. The secular liberals would not allow this of course, they would be found out! A good morning all round, especially as the sun has shone, the sky is still blue and my knees do not ache as I expected.

Recently Harry Patch died, he was called the 'last fighting Tommy.' Earlier this evening they repeated a programme featuring him alongside several other aged veterans, all but one of whom have now passed away, and they included one Alfred Anderson. Alfred died in 2005 and I had not realised he was in fact the last member of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) that crossed into France when war broke out in August 1914. The last member of the generation that went into a war none could have expected and so few returned unscathed from.

Serving int the 5th Black Watch, a Territorial Battalion, which he joined just because this gave him a week off from his fathers work, he was the first to volunteer for active service when required to do so during the annual summer camp near Perth. He volunteered first simply because of the alphabetical order in which the names were read out, and was probably too much of a man in that company to decline! Quietly sent off through deserted streets early in the morning the regiment soon found itself in France.

By 1915 Anderson had become used to trench life, and corpses. However as his father was part time undertaker these were not so strange for him. Later he found himself batman to Captain Fergus Bowes-Lyon, the brother of the late Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. This officer was killed in the opening stage of the battle of Loos on September 25 1915. During 1916 while returning from manning a listening post in 'No Man's Land' a shell burst almost immediately overhead. Anderson received a severe wound in his neck by shrapnel and was removed to an improvised hospital in Norfolk. His active war was over! A training sergeant position for him until hostilities ceased.

Sadly amongst those killed by this explosion was his close friend, and Alfred had been 'friendly' with his sister. On leave he went to offer condolences and was refused admission. They were angry that he had survived and their brother had died. Spurned rudely he left them never to return.

Alfred Anderson died in November 2005 aged 109, and is thought to have been Scotland's oldest man. He was the last known holder of the 'Mons Star,' a medal given to men who belonged to the “Contemptible little Army” and saw action at the Battle of Mons in August 1914. Folk like Alfred Anderson never forgot, and rarely mentioned, their experiences. Today 'our boys' as the press like to call them, are enduring a war and its cost that they too will never forget. What is the bet they will be ignored until their hundredth year in similar manner to Anderson and his

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Saturday Evening

Saturday is alive once again! Jeff Stelling, the awful banter between him and his knowledgeable group of ex-pro's. Football results, reports, shocks and surprises. Weeping and a wailing one moment and rejoicing and breathing huge sighs of relief on the other! Football (almost) is back again! I say 'almost' as the actual season does not start for the Heart of Midlothian (bow your heads in respect out there!) until next weekend when the big boys come out to play, however when Jeff appears Saturdays take a turn for the better! This was topped by a great surprise this evening as I was pondering how to bring tedium to the world, the BBC showed WBA against Newcastle! Brilliant! I did not know they were covering the 'Championship' and I was plenty surprised when I came across this. Woohoo! Something to ease a Saturday night here in the Cave of Adullam! It certainly brightened it, what numpty made Newcastle United wear yellow shorts and white and yellow wide stripes on their shirts? I suspect it was chosen by that idiot American owner. The sooner he goes the better!

Of course in recent years this Saturday afternoon has become a time for doing several things at once. Listening to Radio Scotland for the Glasgow based anti hearts report, watching the results come in on Sky Sports with Jeff, and most important,making next weeks meals! Today was no different. Today was a day for throwing a lot of black lentils, a few red one, a handful of green ones, an onion, three potatoes, cayenne pepper, two imitation 'Oxo' cubes, a pinch of coriander and masses of brown sauce into the pot and let it incinerate. Several large doses of E-Coli there for next week I reckon. Of course I did not cook any 'meat' this time, not having obtained so many tins of oily fish. As such fish, so we are told, are good for the brain I expect my IQ to rise considerably in the next few days.
What's that you said?

Ah yes, my improved diet is indeed making itself felt, I have been starving most days! However once again I dragged the aching knees up the old railway around 9 a.m.this morning and went that little bit further than usual. I feel the benefit all over me today. It is there alongside the dead flies, insect bites and scratches that come from nowhere. Mind you at that time on a Saturday out come the joggers. These are folk who I suspect commute to London or whatever and I expect that jogging is something they feel is part of their 'lifestyle.' The women tend to go in for Lycra and carry bottles of water, probably the type with a 'teat' as that is what the models in the magazines do! The men are in paid for T-shirts and shorts. The men who wear Lycra and pose for the world are those who go in for cycling in a big way. They watch the 'Tour de France,' always referred to as 'the tour,' and dress they way they are supposed to, cycle shorts, colourful tight fitting cycle shirt (in team colours), gloves, helmet, and wrap around sunglasses. They have a tendency to despise those of us who just 'enjoy' cycling as opposed to them who travel a hundred miles a day in record time. Both the joggers and the cyclists reveal our desperate desire to be part of the crowd when we show our individuality. Both feel superiour to those outwith 'their crowd.' Both are sad. What is sadder is that we have all been there, and in many ways still are.

We all want to be 'loved' and especially when in our teens and twenties we need to fit in with a group which suits our tastes. Obviously this is understandable, however it also becomes a shield in which we can hide away from the world. Even those of us over thirty five (you know who you are - no girls, not you! Your never over twenty three are you?) who show less respect for fashion (cough) follow the conventions when necessary, and rightly so. After all if you go out of your way to be different you are still shouting out about yourself and not content within. You also become a bore, which is where we were supposed to come in!

Well my health fad is about to be broken for tonight. I accidentally picked up four 'reduced price' sugar covered jam donuts in Sainsburys when I went up for bread. Tsk! They have to be eaten as the date is running out......

Friday, 7 August 2009

I'm Bored!

I'm bored! It's Friday night and I am bored!

The sun is shining,
The sky is blue,
And I, poor soul
Have nothing to do!

Not only that but there is no money to do anything. There is no car, so I cannot go anywhere, there are no friends (bet that surprises you?) to call, no one to annoy visit, and the family are too far away and too busy boring each other anyway! So I am left alone, and bored.

I have no energy, mental or physical today so I cannot be bothered thinking of anything bright, clever, worthwhile or grumbling. Even playing 'Techtris' means little, while reading anything more than simple sentences wears me out. Even watching 'Top Gear' makes me boak as the cars go too fast, although that is normal to be honest. Every time I turn this programme on, and it is always on with 'Dave TV,' there are screeching tyres and clouds of tyre smoke. Why? If you have seen one grossly overpriced car racing along at 150 m.p.h. you have seen them all, yet each week they wax lyrical about something costing £200,000 and expect to get plaudits for it! Not from me pal! Maybe it's because I am no longer 20 years old, or maybe it's because I don't have a small willie (I'm excused shorts girls!) or maybe I have seen too many men trundling past my window in cars they obtained for the image not the usefulness, and here I omit the one who bought a MacLaren willie extender and then smashed it, and himself, into a tree not far from here. That was £200,000 wasted in my view. Of course the programme has some good bits, and occasionally actually informs and entertains at the same time, although while 'entertaining,' driving a car across the English Channel only informed us of the stupidity of attempting this act in the busiest sea lane in the world! But I digress, I was mentioning my boredom which comes from having no friends, no money, no life, and worse, no football to watch!

It never ceases to amaze me that when there is a (proper) football match to watch I need not be bored! It may be boring (Like watching Hibernian) or it may keep me on the edge of the seat, but at least if it is on I am part of the real world and something of importance is happening around me! I even watched Halifax play some unknown side in the 'Blue Square Premiership' once' and felt alive. Where is Halifax exactly? Television you see, while often offensive, insulting to the intelligence (like 'As Seen on TV' for instance! or 'Mutton Dressed as Lamb' 'Loose Women,') and full of mediocrity can in fact be a window on the world. What would folk trapped indoors all day do without a telly? Especially if they can obtain 'Freeview' or satellite TV.' This really can be a window on the world, although tonight it appears closed as nothing but the brain dead can be happy with the offerings being shown! But where is television heading these days. Video recorders were a great boon, especially when they recorded both the start and finish of the programmes, and DVD's and the new fangled digital stuff (I don't know either) make for new 'opportunities' as the TV folk say. The original idea of one channel (the BBC) was revolutionised with the introduction of ITV in 1957. The world changed at that moment, although we had no telly and all I was concerned about was my cardboard fort and the soldiers fighting over it! With TV available on PCs and in hand held 'iPod' like things, with a billion channels available I wonder where TV will take us? Especially as the Football, the news, and little else will have an IQ of more than 10!

Even the wireless is boring tonight. At the moment Radio 4, the middle class intellectual (they say) channel airs 'Any Questions?' One of these programmes where four people are asked to lie in their teeth if they are MP's, push themselves or their daft ideas on everyone else (If they are not) or as tonight four nobodies which means no-one cares any which way. Radio 1 meanwhile is being ignored by normal people, Radio 2 has 'Friday Night is Music Night,' a programme that was first aired I think when the Luftwaffe were passing overhead. Listening tonight I can assure you they would be welcomed back with open arms if they make an appearance any time soon! Radio 3 (the real intellectual station (I listen)) covers the 'BBC Proms!' They are now in the middle of the interlude so a stimulating talk regarding the Influence of Fascism on Italian music during Mussolini's time is pontificating in a dry fashion. Radio 5Live (can it air when dead?) has some hope as it covers the first match of the English Championship season, and Radio Scotland is playing music, again! When in Edinburgh I was amazed at the number of stations playing music! There appeared to be little attempt at all, except during the News broadcasts and that was very insular, especially if you were from Glasgow! There is a need for sensible talk and that seemed to me to be unobtainable there! It was so bad I had to listen to my sister at one point!

What was I saying? Oh yes, bored! Well I am and if my knees did not ache after my cycle ride today, why is the wind always against you when you head for home I ask, I would wander the streets looking for dropped coins. It is true, the wind is always against the cyclist! Before I leave I look to the sky and if the winds are from the west I head in that direction, however, when I head back the wind is from the east, blowing strongly and full of Siberian promise! Does this happen to others, or are the weather girls still upset at the letters I write them I wonder?

Oh I'm bored with this, as most of you are as you stopped reading long ago. I'm off to put my head in the gas oven!

Thursday, 6 August 2009

UK citizenship test Update

Only one person so far has passed the test, (with 100%).
WE are all of to Tristan de Cunha tomorrow (Bring your own food!)

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

The UK Citizenship Test

The UK Citizenship Test

I came across this today, twenty four questions on UK citizenship. You are given 45 minutes to complete the practice questions (found on the link under the picture of the book) and if you pass the official test you may well become a citizen of the United Kingdom.

I got 13 out of 24 correct and failed!

What is even more worrying is that others who have attempted these questions, and what questions they are, have also failed. In fact not one British citizen has actually passed the test! Who set these questions? Nick Griffin the leader of the British National Party perchance? While some of them make sense we are asked things that most folk will not understand unless they are either involved in that line or just a know-all, and this result proves some folks opinion of me wrong there then! Ridiculous questions and I could think of more relevant ones if asked.

Take the practice test and see if you can become a citizen of the United Kingdom. I fear none will pass!

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

You Canny Trust the Welsh!

Now, as you know, an Englishwoman has claimed the English invented the Haggis, Scotland's national dish. This imperialist attempts to acquire Scotland by stealth, piece by piece and pudding by pudding, it appears! The fact that her claim is based on a recipe found in an English book from the sixteen hundreds shows the lie. Scots women did not use recipe books, their mothers taught them domestic chores from childhood, as indeed proper mothers have always done! Just because this middle class girl possessed a mother more intent on her career rather than teaching her daughter the important things, like how to cook, make curtains and look after the male of the house, is no reason to imagine folk living in 'Black Hooses' in Scotland were not brought up properly, they were! While herding the cow, and sowing the oats (not like that) the lass of the hoose also ensured the haggis were caught, skinned and cooked without looking at any recipe book. Just as well as nobody taught them to read until the reformation came along!

Anyway we move on to another lesser people attempting to purloin Scots culture - this time the Welsh! These sheep chasing hill dwellers have long been renown for their gathering on hillsides in order to form 'Male Voice Choirs,' - at least that is what they say, and for having more rain fall on them than any other part of the United Kingdom. As the lesser of the Celtic nations, they come just above Cornwall and Brittany, and even then that is better than their Football World Cup record of course, the Welsh are renown for 'hanging on the coat tails of their betters, and by this I mean especially, the Scots. This desperation to be accepted as a proper nation, as opposed to being just a large English county full of biggish hills that have failed to become mountains, and inferior type rugby union players, this desperation has led to them over reach themselves and to go where only the Japanese have gone before - they are making counterfeit WHISKY!

Not only are they calling this cold tea, 'whisky,' but they are actually calling it 'Welsh Whisky' as if this is something to be proud off! Ptah! To make matters worse these purveyors of the dupe liquid (known as Wisgi Cymreig to them, at least to those that actually speak that strange garbled tongue which they claim is Gaelic) these purveyors are charging up to £320 a time for a bottle of the amber fluid! Have they gone mad? (Actually that gives me an idea. Maybe I ought to open a whisky shop?)

Naturally one ought to be happy about such imitation. For one, unlike the Japanese, they did not call it 'Scotch,' nor did they use a name such as 'Queen George IV,' so things could have turned out much worse. Mind you they have forgotten to put the strength of the stuff on the label, did you notice? For another thing there is no doubt the Welsh, like the English wumman, are merely admitting what we all know, that the Scots are indeed superior to those South of the border, or in the case of the Welsh, just 'over the hill!'

Monday, 3 August 2009


This picture does not do justice to this view, but whenever I cycle past this I am tempted to attempt to picture these trees. Had I been wealthy and owned one of those big wooden glass plate cameras Victorian photographers used then I might do this little view justice. There is just something about this small plantation of very tall trees that grab the attention. Today I attempted a picture, specifically of this broken tree. Either a storm, the hurricane of 87 perhaps or an extremely strong squirrel has broken it about sixty feet up! It lends a little something to the scene. The light falls between the trees giving it a specific ambiance which does not appear elsewhere around here, at least not where I have rambled.

You see, I am back to being amiable. Possibly because I have been so busy doing lots of those things that have lain on the 'To Do' list for so long! I am just too knackered to grumble. I should of course point out that I am by nature not one to grumble generally, as I am sure most folk will have realised by now. It may be true that when there is a situation that demands a comment, judiciously indicated, I may well be the one on whom the duty of indicating the point at issue, but I always do so reluctantly! The Royal Mail manager who repeatedly, and needlessly in my view, referred to me as 'Alex Ferguson,' was just being sarcastic.

Tomorrow I expect to pay for my exertions today. The hard work, (Oh yes it was!) the cycling up the old railway, the long walk, head down, through the busy streets looking for dropped coins, and the decision to eat less in an effort to halt the weight once again reaching fifteen and a half stones will catch up with me tomorrow. I expect weariness, stiffness, and possibly even a small girning as my legs give way when I fall down the stairs looking for the mail!

What is it about Jose Mourinho that fascinates Sky Sports News so much? At each and every opportunity they will present him to us as if he is a celebrity worth knowing about. We are told he wants the England job, the Manchester United job, any job as long as it is in England! That is where the money is and that is where he can make a name for himself. Jose has always known how to please the media and has them hanging on his eyelash at all times. They laugh at his jokes, love his answers to meaningless questions and fill countless hours of TV and radio and print millions of words about the man that treats them as if they were important themselves. Ah, maybe we have found out why he is once again on our screens. But in my view he is not a 'football man!' To me Jose likes to beat the other man rather than win a football match, victory is all but the 'game' is nothing! His idea of football is to use gamesmanship at all times, play for dreary one nil wins, and spend far too long selling himself on the telly. His Porto side won the 'Uefa Cup' by falling down and playing dead, stifling the game and general time wasting tactics and unsporting behaviour. All teams can use these tactics, but he appears to know no other.

( However, the sixty five million Celtic fans who were at the game did, according to the Celtic myth, behave very well and were loved by one and all!)

The Ashes.
Who cares?

Sunday, 2 August 2009

The Niceness Wore Off Today!

Indeed for the last few days life has been good, my moods have been positive and life's little trauma's were kept in their place. I wandered abroad with a benevolent smile on my fat puss and carried with me an aura of freedom from concern. There were of course difficulties, as there is in everyday experience but those I sailed through wafting a perfume of peace and love (Hippy style) to one and all. Not even the queue in Tesco on a Saturday morning could make me bring out the hatchet and place it where it was required. First off all on the two women who thought that splitting the goods in two, and then arguing over who ought to pay for what, should be discussed, at great length, at the checkout. Nor did the old man who took for ever to produce his cash, gave no thought to putting his good in the bag, and instead spent half a lifetime placing his change where it should be, then began, slowly oh so slowly, to bag up, not even he made me buy a combine harvester and test out its various capacities on him! Certainly the lass at the checkout and I did discuss whether he actually had died while standing there or not. I am still unsure as to whether his was thoughtlessness or a mental problem, it certainly was not conducive to fun.

So I have been beaming at children and leering at their mothers smiling at their mothers, I have been allowing others to go first, accepting delays, and failing to swear when caught out in the sudden rain showers. I have even walked and cycled in an effort once again to find fitness, (and when I am fit I will even put some air into the tyres), breathing fresh, warm, air and enjoying the opportunity to awaken in the morning with knees that require two members of the 'Thai Massage and takeaway Curry House' to make usable again.

However today normality returned.

Maybe it was the coffee, strong and dark like I like my women, maybe it was tiredness, maybe it was just me leaking out again (I often do that these days) but something niggled me and I wanted to spit! It was a small thing in itself but I have spent much of the day carrying an imaginary baseball bat in the hope, which cannot be fulfilled, of meeting someone who annoyed me. Instead of allowing this to pass I have allowed it to fester and ruin the day, which was a bit boring anyway, and in spite of watching Houston Dynamos beat DC United 4-3, (a good (proper football) match at that) I still feel miffed. So if you hear of a smart ass, who pushed his luck too far with one comment to many, being found abandoned in a skip somewhere, possibly laid up in one or two different hospitals, or floating down some river trussed up and heading for the open sea, don't mention my name, I have an alibi.

I was on here talking to you while wearing a self satisfied smug grin!

Saturday, 1 August 2009

The Best Sight an Englishman Will Ever See!

What could be more heart warming to anyone, especially an Englishman, than the sight of God's own country looming up ahead? The nation that has produced more genius's than any other, the most humble people on earth, those most friendly and generous of people - the Scots, await all who enter here!

Just think what is left behind! Miserable grumbling people. Back to back red brick houses full of people with their hands deep in their pockets. A land overcrowded with dole scroungers on one street (Liverpool) and 'Daily Mail' Fascists on the next (any suburb). A capital city in which the word 'Smile' has been outlawed, honesty is banned and the sun is not allowed to shine.

The rest of the whole wide world flocks to Scotland because of the hills, the fishing, the whisky, the history, the ancestors (was the Garden of Eden in Edinburgh I ask?) and the people! The come from the States, Germany, Africa and the Far East, all seeking to wash away the world and spend a few days where life is better and everything is right!

(Please do not read Mikes post after reading this!)