Saturday, 31 October 2009


Turkey in Photos

I had a comment from Kerem today regarding a mention I made of Ephesus a year or two ago. He was the owner of this photograph, and I had left a link, as I have once again, to his excellent site. I was pleased about this as it gave me the opportunity to complain that I am here and Ephesus is there! This I find to be somewhat unfortunate! Even worse, my friends David & Sheena have earned themselves a holiday and are at this very moment cruising around the
Mediterranean, including a stop off at Turkey! Only the other day it struck me, while I watched the weather forecaster smiling while she informs the world of the rain and wind that is about to descend on the land from top to bottom, that I wander drenched through this world they are touring Ephesus and complaining about the heat! It is indeed an unfair world.

Ephesus is one of those places I really would like to visit one day. The number of buildings still standing since the harbour silted up, the sites possibly visited by Paul and John, and many other leading church folk of the first century. The theatre where the silversmiths led by Alexander attempted to stifle the church with several thousand crying "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians" for two solid hours! The now silent buildings, bar the cries of the tourists of course, speak of lives lived long ago. I would love to stand there and listen to those stones speak of the past, if you see what I mean.

Friday, 30 October 2009


Looking through pictures of theatre and movie stars of long ago I was struck by our need of 'celebrity.' Today we have lots of mediocre 'stars' filling the TV screen entertaining, they say, the masses. The Chinese ambassador has complained about the house next door where some stars of one TV programme (The X Factor?) are besieged by teenagers looking for their 'heroes.' I use that word loosely! Their 'fan adoration' has left the place a mess, and caused a noise nuisance, as you can imagine! The 'Daily Mail' specialises in gossip concerning famous women and their dress sense, while the 'red tops' specialise in what these women do while undressed. The private lives of the famous, footballers, TV stars, politicians and any rich and famous person, appears to be what the masses wish to know. It has always been thus I suspect.

Magazines abounded in the twenties and thirties full of tales of the movie stars. Such was the desire for Rudolf Valentino that women committed suicide when he died. I cruelly think neither were much of a loss but this does reveal the emotional emptiness of some. Reading Josephus 'Jewish War' we note the amount of time given over to the intrigues of Herod's palace. The bitchiness and backstabbing between the women, the conspiracy from the men seeking the throne, and the constant infighting that helped destroy Herod's mental balance. Roman writers realised that sexual adventures, political infighting, avarice and the lives of the great and good were food and drink to the Roman populace. Something within us needs to know what the famous are up to, especially if it is sexual or just bad! Why?

There is indeed an interest in others lives, especially someone you admire, or detest, who is a celebrity of one sort or another. However do we need to know all the corruption? Is it just cheap titillation or living out our mundane fantasies through their, apparent, lives. In the end we find they are all just broken people like ourselves. We tend to discover they are no happier than we are, often very much the opposite, and riches do not satisfy their ambitions. There is of course no shortage of those who wish to be famous, don't we all at one time or another, and as Clive James claimed recently, being famous comes at a cost, and he did not like the cost! Once famous you are not your own. You belong to others and they will use you to fulfil their lives through you.
Pop singers and movie stars are never far from a photographer. Some are pleased by this and all eventually have had enough of it. Footballers are abused and cheered equally during their careers. They are subject to abuse from friend and foe and find the media demand them at all times, then deliberately twist what they may say! yet we still want to be like them at some time, for we need to be appreciated and indeed loved for what we are. I suspect that lies at the heart of those who wish to be celebrities, the need to be accepted, and loved for being them! For those on the outside the need are the same, the opportunities less so we use them to satisfy our need to be loved.

Thursday, 29 October 2009


Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clamm
y cells.

So said John Keats in 'To Autumn.'
He had a point and in spite of 'global warming' the seasons are still basically the
same. The chilled evening saw mist surround the world by ten o' clock last night,
and this morning we have a world shrouded with thin mist. What a difference this
makes to our outlook. Natural light, and plenty of sun does increase our happiness
quota. Which is why we work best with large windows and an outlook over the sea,
preferably somewhere in the Med! Still, mist produces some good photographs and
while all I managed was this quick snapshot it gives the feel of the morn.

The main purpose of the day was to report to higher command and explain the job
hunt. 'Hunt' being a meaningless word. On Monday I met yet another lass who is
going to help me find work. The previous efforts fell because of my age, knee
and the total lack of jobs available! This new lass, a pretty young Hungarian,
quickly came to the same conclusion. She was kind enough to inform me I don't
look 58, only 48 she said.
"You are lovely," said I, "But could you make it 38?"
"I'm not that lovely," she said somewhat sarcastically.
Reporting to the fuhrer today took little time and I was soon wandering around
Tesco looking for bargains. The trouble with this was the crowd in the middle of
the day.Not only the crowd but the kids they brought with them, all ten million of
them. Sweet little ones with grannie, sulking big ones with mum, adolescent girls
enjoying spending dad's money on clothes and adolescent boys in groups just being
adolescents! Why are we not allowed to shoot them I ask? At least the fridge is
almost full.

My fitness is almost non existent after the recent bout of flu so I wandered up the
old railway in an effort to get away from the kids. This was a daft idea as this was
where folks were taking the kids to wear them out instead of them breaking the house
apart! Jumping of the path to avoid Johnny as he attempted to ride his bike at thirty
miles an hour with his head down and his eyes closed. A long way behind came granddad
desperate to catch up with the brat! I was safer at home!

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Celtic 0 Heart of Midlothian 1.

What a wonderful evening!
The miserable experience on Saturday of struggling against Falkirk are long behind us now.
This was a well deserved victory against one half of the sons of evil!
Three good chances in the first half that should have had the game won by half time. Certainly Celtic made a go of it and had two good chances then also, with several more in the second half. However the Hearts ought to have had more goals in the second period, we deserved them, just as we deserved the luck. That luck was supplied by Celtic putting Georges Samaras on after we scored. His inability to hit a barn door made Christian Nade look like a sharpshooter!
Nade it must be said showed what he has lacked so far, skill, determination, and most importantly willingness! he wanted to win and could have had at least two goals to himself. His run into the box produced the penalty from Fox's amateur tackle, and Fox, himself a good full back, was shown up by Heart of Midlothian's Lee Wallace, clearly the best left back in Scotland!
Altogether while Celts made a spirited effort we had no faults, defended their attacks stoutly all over the field and possibly have found in little Black the man to play just behind the striker. His running and contribution in the first half was excellent! What a shame injury took him from the field. This position also stops him tackling and getting booked, something he tends to do almost every few minutes! MacManus callous, clumsy foul on Driver just before the end revealed the nastiness deep within. An ex-Hibernian player with spite, or just a failing defender afraid to lose a second goal. I think it was the latter. How the ref did not issue a straight red I failed to understand, however he was looking in the direction of the incident and only the linesman was able to note that Driver was clearly through on goal. Therefore off he went.

I just hope we have Rangers in the semi, if we draw St Johnstone or St Mirren we could lose!

Tuesday, 27 October 2009


How long is a piece of string? No that is not a statement about my Chinese mate, it is a question, a question that ought to ask, "Where is my piece of string?" You see we all have that piece of string in a drawer, kept there 'in case it is needed.' Now I know that I have a small white string bundle somewhere in the house and yet it has disappeared! I know it is there, I can remember it sitting there, unused, and asking 'Do we need this?' Yes is the answer because there will always be a time that piece of string comes in useful.
Now is such a time!
You see the plant on the window has one branch shooting far out to the side. This requires a piece of string to haul it back closer to the centre . I ought to have done this a long time ago I admit but failed to realise until too late the danger of the shoot heading of to the far wall instead of the ceiling. Now when I take action I fear it may be too late! However if I do not find the piece of string I may never know.

I have found several small black plastic containers that once held film for the camera, lots of black plastic 'ties' too short for the purpose and a few large yellow ones that are just as useless. There is a very small white piece of soap in the shape of a pig, and a red, green and yellow marble that I use as a 'spirit level,' but no string. There is also an inordinate amount of dust. Possibly someone, or something, has died there in times past? The small white length of string, tied in a red Royal Mail rubber band, should be in this drawer but isn't, which means it can only be found in the tool box. While cutting my fingers on blunt, rusty sharp edges, and shoveling rather too many loose small nails aside I find no string but a tube of, used once, superglue which will not open. Isn't it always the way? Withdrawing my bloodied fingers I rummage in the only other drawer that would contain the string, leaving little red blotches on the papers, books and the so rarely used camera equipment found there, and find no string! I did however find a 400 ISO film with a 'use by' date of 10/2007, and a map of Slough. No, I don't know either!

It is one of life's little laws that if you do not want any string you will find plenty. All I require is a short piece of string, no more than two feet in length (stick the metrics you folk) and I can only find biodegradable rubber bands, and they will not do the job. It looks like my Triffid will continue to head for the wall instead of the ceiling all because of the piece of string! If it ever turns up I will force it to feed the plant and rush out and buy a whole new ball of string which I shall keep in my pocket until I need it!

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Change the Clocks!

This morning I awoke at around 20 minutes past eight. I was delighted to have forced myself back to sleep, several times, but eventually faced the call of the world to offer myself to it. The world responded by ignoring my existence. I sat here and read the papers online, depressing myself at the Heart of Midlothian's inability to score a goal against the team bottom of the league! I should rejoice they did not score and get their first win, against us! There was little that interested me, I glanced at the blogs, always poor on the weekend when folks insist on having a life instead of blogging. There were few with anything to read. I watched the beginning of the Moto GP on TV for a while until that got boring also. Being Sunday I sat in the bath and read part of 'Three Men in a Boat' and wallowed for an hour.
Back at the desk searching for inspiration I overheard someone mention the clocks going back. I phoned 1-2-3 to check the time and discovered it was not, by now, 12:25 , it was instead 11:25 am, and no-one had told me! The cheek of it! Not for the first time the nation has amended the clocks and not bothered to inform me what was going on. I could get paranoid about this but will put that aside for now. To be honest this is not the first time this has occurred. I can recall marching jauntily into a church to be laughed at by people coming out! A year or two ago I rode in the sunlight up the old railway one bright Sunday morning pleased that no-one was around. Well I had the sunshine to myself that day, it being six in the morning while I still believed it was seven! Now I think about it I really can believe this is a government conspiracy against me! 'They' are out to get me. I wonder if my phone is being tapped?

Friday, 23 October 2009

Lazy Friday

To brain dead these days to write much, as you may have seen! However the bug is slowly leaving and occasionally I find my eyes open, only occasionally mind. So to entertain you here is a picture of one of the spiders webs that appear all over the windows these days. There is no sign of Boris himself, he likes to hide in a crevice nearby, but he and his brothers are big brutes for this part of the world. Obviously they are well fed! I watched on deal with a leaf from one of the trees nearby that stuck to his web the other day. He spent a good long while fighting with it and eventually removed the thing and repaired his well constructed web. Amazing that spiders get no instruction, spend no time in college, have no degrees in engineering and yet built such complicated, slender, yet strong constructions as these! And they say there is no God? These webs, the design of a flower, the way a birds wing is constructed, hollow and with struts across to give strength, the ability of a fragile butterfly to migrate over thousands of miles never fails to amaze me.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009


Look at that rain! Rain, in the 'driest county in England,' at that! It's a disgrace! What can be done in such weather? The rain gets into everything, it gets into your socks through the holes in your shoes, women take your eye out with their umbrellas, drivers cannot see clearly when using their mobile phones or stuffing their faces, and when wearing rain type jackets you sweat like the proverbial pig! If I want this sort of weather I will rush of to the Scottish hillsides!
It has rained all day, indeed it began late last night, and still comes down, either in that thick drizzle that speaks of the Aberdeenshire coast, or in monsoon storm like heavy drops. At least the monsoon is warmer! I suppose we should be grateful this lot is not in fact arriving via the North Sea for then it would have picked its way across the remaining ice caps to entertain us further.

There is however, great joy to be obtained at such times. For one, I stand at the window, coffee cup in hand, waving to passing postmen. They, preparing to deliver what will end up as paper mache usually find it in them to wave back, sort off. Kids love this weather. They run about jumping into puddles and receive stern warning from neurotic mothers about flu and bronchitis and care nothing for either the sickness or the telling off! Dogs, happy to be out in the park, rush about smiling happily at everybody, enjoying the chance to stretch their legs and run, meet other pooches, and really annoy the owner, he who trails behind wrapped in oilskins, carrying a large golf umbrella and grumpily wishes her indoors had bought a cat instead!

Give me a place somewhere sunny please!

Monday, 19 October 2009

Rotyal Mail Dispute

The 'Daily Mail' and other right wing press, are going full out in attacking the striking postmen. This is no surprise. For many years government, both parties, have wanted rid of the Royal Mail. On top of this an EU directive forced 'competition' on to them and allowed 'TNT' and 'Deutche Post' to operate parcel delivery in the UK. They were also allowed to take mail, at cheaper rates than RM, and dump it on Royal Mail to deliver. That's right, they collect mail from the big companies, and a few small ones, charge them less than Royal Mail do, and then give it to RM to deliver for them. When I was a postman, three years ago, it cost RM 13 pence to deliver mail. Privatised companies paid RM only 12,5 pence per letter, a profit of 0.5 pence per letter! It is no wonder RM loses money!

While complaining they are losing mail the postman is actually delivering much more than before. Not only the normal mail, but the increase coming from those using the private companies means the postman's bag is bigger than ever. The pressure from above is such that while the mailman has three and a half hours to actually deliver his sorted mail, he spends half his day sorting the stuff by hand first of course, he actually needs four to five hours to deliver it. Royal Mail will NOT pay overtime for this! Add to this the increase in packages carried by the postman, 'E-Bay' and others causing this, the number of bags he has to deal with has doubled, and this means running around collecting the things, all adding to his time frame. Many complain the postman does not wait while knocking at the door, although this is often more to their slowness at answering! I have watched a woman wander about the house, knowing I am standing there, fixing her hair before she answered! "I ONLY HAVE FIVE HUNDRED OTHERS TO THINK OF BITCH GET A MOVE ON!" Yet the postie is the one in the wrong? Far too many display the normal human failure of thinking the postman is a servant, their servant, who should wait on them. They forget he may be a servant, but he is not servile! So give what you wish to receive.

Even when the management at a sorting office know their job the men at the top are working to an agenda designed to paint the postmen as the 'bad guys.' This is clearly seen in the message given through the press. The vast amounts of 'delayed mail' that lies undelivered in sorting offices (well the main offices actually) is blamed on industrial action. What is not said is that much of this is deliberately put aside in an effort to cast blame. Other areas will not allow this mail to be delivered as they refuse to pay for the men to do overtime. The increased pressure to remove all the full time, trained, postmen, and replace them with part time casuals, untrained and unfamiliar with the 'walks' they are given, saves RM cash but ensures mail delivery is harmed. This style of delivery is that used by TNT and others in Belgium, Germany and Holland. Their the mail is a mess in many areas, industrial conflict abounds, and posting a letter is vastly more expensive than in the UK.

Clearly the government wishes to save the 'taxpayer' money by selling off Royal Mail. This means that in the long term prices will increase, Lands End to John O' Groats next day delivery, all for 32 pence, will disappear, and the normal postman who is aware of your comings and goings (and who has signed the official secrets act by the way) will no longer exist. By saving the 'taxpayer,' or should I say 'Daily Mail' reader, a few pence in tax a year this policy will increase the cost of his mail, and business costs which will rebound on him, exorbitantly! They did this with Electric, Water, British Rail, the buses and of course Gas! All utilities that once served the nation, and while they were badly run and needed modernised they did not rip folks off and make billions in profits for the few! While some posties were not keen on work, I can think of three in particular, the majority just get on with the job. Today they are being badly treated by a management that cares nothing for them, the service, or anything but money! They should care about that, Crosier is taking millions each year for his three day week! The service has degraded badly in the past couple of years through this mismanagement. Time to renationalise the utilities, and support the postmen's efforts to keep the service element of Royal Mail. Bring back Joseph Chamberlain!

Saturday, 17 October 2009

3 Para

While flying home for my mothers funeral I got chatting to a man from 3 Para about Afghanistan. This was an interesting conversation with a chap who had seen action there and was in every respect the type of man you wished to have on your side. The Para's have a reputation for being somewhat 'rough' but this did not come across with this man. He was an excellent representative for his regiment and I confess I was impressed. This image was given further evidence when reading the book he had recommended, '3 Para,' the story of their adventure in Afghanistan. He is pictured here,

"Loud and lovable,
Sergeant Dan Jarvie was
one of the most popular men in 3 Para."

That I can believe!

The Para's intention was to support the 'reconstruction' of damaged Afghanistan in the Helmand Province. Once there however political games from high above led to there aim being distorted and they became becalmed in several locations 'holding the fort' instead of moving through the land in the manner they were trained for. This was because once in position the Taliban then chose to attack, at great cost, these establishments. The constructive side of the operation soon became secondary and disappeared altogether by the time of their return to Colchester. This it must be said was not the fault of 3 Para!

In Sangin and Musa Qaleh, in Now Zad and at the Kajaki Dam they met stiff resistance with determination and skill. They suffered much. The weather was hot and they were wearing full kit. Mines planted during the Russian occupation caused much damage, RPG's and sniper fire, attacks on compounds and vehicles bringing supplies were costly. 3 Para endured them all and fought on, not quite exhausted, until relieved.

This well illustrated book tells the story of the tour of duty, the clashes with the Taliban, the attempt to make friends with the locals, who were caught between the Taliban and an army that may well be gone tomorrow, and the power struggles above. The Afghan president and his governor, the American wish to blast the Taliban out, and the British attempt at 'hearts and minds' which the 'John Wayne' educated U.S. forces never appear to understand. The impression is given of a country with far to many divisions, too much corruption, a Taliban imposing from without their religious view, the western force doing likewise and a government more interested in position and making a fast buck. While the Taliban can never again reconquer the nation they can never be removed either. The people are of no importance in all this!
There is no easy answer, and too few wish any answer at all!

The battle group of which 3 Para were the leading edge, consisted of a company from the Royal Gurkha Rifles, a detachment from the Royal Irish Regiment, plus Scimitar and Spartans vehicles from the household Cavalry to add an armoured section with the 7th Royal Horse Artillery adding their 105m guns. Engineers, medical, and air transport combined to make a significant and powerful force. By the end of the tour this force had suffered fifteen deaths, including an interpreter, and almost fifty serious wounds. The war situation moves on, the wounds remain for life. On top of this there are the 'post traumatic stress' problems that few speak about but manage to send hundreds, or is it thousands, of ex-servicemen to jail!

There were of course medals, some posthumous. Corporal Bryan James Budd of 3 Para, noticed his men had been injured during a fight in a field of tall maize. To protect them while medical aid arrived and tended these serious injuries, he took off in the direction of the enemy fire, firing in their direction to draw the enemy to himself. He disappeared! When found later he was lying dead alongside two Taliban. He was awarded the Victoria Cross!
Corporal Mark William Wright, also of 3 Para, was also killed in action. He was awarded the George Cross. Many more received awards or were mentioned in dispatches.

Patrick Bishops book gave a very good understanding of the complexity of the Afghan problem, far better than any news report could do. In spite of the changes in the situation, and there have been many, the danger for the Para's does not go away. Insufficient equipment, a lack of support, the confused ideals behind the action and the nagging question, "What are we doing here?" Let's face it, nobody really knows what the purpose is. This war was another of 'Dubyah' Bush's adventures, and it is doubtful if he ever found out where Afghanistan is! Obama wants to get out but has no idea how to do this, and Gordon Brown is reluctant to send the troops asked for by the army. The 'Vietnam' thought lurks in the background. Nobody has ever conquered this troublesome people. The fear of Islamic terrorism, real enough in itself, may not be faced in this area, especially if the real foe is in Pakistan! What will happen to this sad land? There is no answer to that at this time.

3 Para have been back once already, in 2008, and will return again next year. While they will do their job well I hope there are clear objectives marked out for them, achievable objectives at that! I do not wish to see Dan Jarvie, and his tremendously powerful handshake, lost for no good reason. These men deserve better for the determined, effective, service they provide for this nation.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009


At the beginning of the book, 'In Search of H.V.Morton' the author, Michael Bartholomew, tells the story of Morton's disappointment at meeting an author with whom he had become besotted. He was still a child and was reluctantly pushed forward by his mother after he had discovered the great man was not what he had imagined. The disappointment never left him and he made it a point never to reveal anything of himself deliberately, relying only on the written word and nothing else. The story is related because those of us who have built up a picture of Morton in our minds will quickly become similarly disappointed when we meet the real man!

I confess I have as yet not read the whole book, just a review a while ago which indicated just what exactly the 'real man' contained. That was disappointing enough but a glance at certain chapters of the book, concerning the works I had written, indicated I would indeed not find the man I imagined. The discovery that his books were something other than what they appeared to be also fails to please but I suppose reading with eyes open more often would have shown this already. One day I will finish the book, if I spend long enough in the library keeping warm, but I am unsure if I actually wish to at this moment.

It rings true however that the person we read is not the person who lives. Therefore the idea of the writer keeping his counsel and ensuring his life is not lived in the public eye is one I agree with. The written word ought to speak for itself, and this is why I disagree with photographs of journalists in the press. It looks good presentation wise for the paper but it makes the person more important than the word. many journalists may of course see nothing wrong with that, and the nearer they are to the tabloid end the more they will see themselves as important it appears at first sight. The words ought to be honest, preferably knowledgeable, and worth reading. The person behind them should be irrelevant. There again we do pick up a picture of the person writing the words, hopefully we have seen the real one and therefore will not be disappointed if we run into them.

Monday, 12 October 2009

1950's planning

One good thing about 1950's planning was the idea of open spaces. I came past one such estate today. These houses were planned in the late thirties, or during the war and eventually someone got around to the design and building of them in the early fifties. Houses for people, council houses originally and foolishly sold of by Thatcher. One of the stupidest policies she came out with. Owning your own home was an ideal, and one so many could not keep up with yet she encouraged the sale of the very houses that were meant to provide for those that could not afford to buy! Naturally the socialist voters who bought their home cheap flogged it for a fortune leaving thousand in the lat 1980's in debt up to their eyes. A short step to the recession we now endure worldwide! Today we are building 'social housing' the very thing she killed off! Today the houses are cramped, with small areas of green for gardens and probably built on land that ought to be left for the 'green belt,' or even worse, land that has had hundreds of years of industrial use
and contains all sorts of bad stuff. Superb! Those house built in the fifties at least had open spaces, in truth larger than required, but gave the occupants a better life than the overcrowded tenements and houses they had suffered for many years. Such long sighted policies ought to be commended. There is no doubt the people sometimes responded badly and many areas of good housing were reduced to slums by the people who inhabited them, so much for the socialist idea that people would change if the housing improved! However for those who did make the most of it the houses are a blessing indeed, so much so many did not move even if they bought their house and like my mother lived in them for over fifty years. Quite right too!

This estate has large green areas, possibly caused by the slopes making it unsuitable for housing, and what was once farmers fields are now areas of green with the occasional small wood, like the one pictured above. A small benefit to those who live here, because we need trees and bushes around us. We need the sight of green grass and a wide variety of wildlife nearby. This opens our minds and takes us away from the daily struggle, unless of course it rains, then it's just mud and only the dog is happy!

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Intellectual Stimulation

I often listen into Radio 4's 'In Our Time' with Melvyn Bragg for intellectual stimulation. The idea is simple. Several clever folks gather around the table with Melvyn and discuss their specialist subject. It could be the Battle of Thermopylae, Geoffrey Chaucer, Virtue, the Whale, or Heritage. Almost any subject under the sun will be discussed here.

I like it as I get a better understanding of lots of different subjects, if I am interested in them that is, and enjoy the experts pointing out one another's faults in that polite academic manner they love so much. I do get irritated, not a habit I suffer from as you know, when Melvyn attempts to speed up the speaker in an effort to fit the programme into the 45 minutes allotted to it. Naturally his summing up of their chat takes longer than the one speaking, and he of course has no idea what he is talking about when he does this! Quite funny in one way but just shut it Melvyn and let them speak! The added benefit of such programmes, and the subjects range far and wide it must be said, just trawl through their archives all of which can be listened to there and then, the added benefit is that if you know something about the topic you can then shout at the screen and disagree. This is something I, but not my neighbours, enjoy!

Of course some speak disdainfully of this programme, usually other Radio 4 people at that. I suspect their university education has revealed to them the uselessness in any practical manner of the information gleamed from such experts. This is of course true. An understanding of the 'Dreyfus Affair' means very little to those waiting on the bus on a rain soaked Monday morning. Understanding Aristotle's Politics means little to a mother attempting to persuade her brat that school is not Stalagluft VI, quite what relevance Aristotle has at all is a question in itself I suppose. However surely we all need to know about Babylon don't we? I would say we do myself. After all the word is used quite often these days.

Ah well, at least my mind is stimulated and awake after listening, what was I listening to just now? Anyway, I enjoyed it, whatever they were talking about......

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Nothing to Say, Again!

Once again a Saturday night arrives and I find myself with nothing to say and no energy not to say it. The day appears to have passed me by again, too many do these days, and when I look for something intellectually stimulating, humorous, or worth reading I discover that searching for the web cam that was pointed to paint peeling from the wall is more worthwhile. Actually the picture, if found, will be much more interesting than anything discovered on here!
Having not got out much today, folk often comment that I appear not to get out much, I never looked for that enthralling photograph that would enliven your life. The fact is I only popped out for cheap veg and hobbled back home again. I say hobbled as I exercised the other day and walked a fair distance. The walking gave me a blister and the exercise has strained my hamstring just to remind me to do things in a more organised and thoughtful manner. What's that I hear, sympathy perhaps? No thought not!

I did manage to find the Japan v Scotland game this morning. What some consider a needless friendly, I suspect had Walter Smith organised this game everyone would be agreeing how wonderful it was and a good opportunity to blood young players, the game turned out to be better than I thought, once I realised it was being shown! Why do people not tell me things, not counting that policeman the other night of course, I missed the first 13 minutes but got there as they need my support at all times. Lee Wallace, not requested at the beginning, was the best player on the park, I ignored the Japanese ones I only paid half price to watch one team, and Berra and Gordon were also excellent. Interestingly we were doing OK until the two Hibs players entered the field, we then lost two goals! Typical! Still, at least the fringe players got a run out, the young lads got a taste of international football and that is what friendlies ought to be about. The Japanese are of course very different in their outlook, and their repetitive chant throughout became annoying by the second half.

Well as I have failed to find anything of interest I will go and howl at the moon, it is quite large just now I believe, I cannot see the thing because of the cloud cover, but I know it is quite large as hair is growing all over my face, I howl at the thing when my concentration lapses, and I find myself being nice to people in the street. All the usual effects of the moons influence. I suspect the tides will be high at the moment also. Hoooooooowwwwwwwwlllllllllll. Oh I needed that. Oops, the neighbour s banging on the wall again, maybe the moon is influencing him also?

Friday, 9 October 2009

Christmas Already!

As I passed through the supermarket today, I was not buying just annoying the security man, I noticed they had the Christmas chocolate boxes on display. Then as I passed the big shop on the corner a window was dressed up with a variety of maroon coloured Santas! I wanted to stand there shouting "HE DOESN'T EXIST AND IT'S STILL OCTOBER!!!" but didn't. No doubt the card shop opposite has begun displaying Christmas cards, but I didn't bother to look, and as I wandered through Tesco for cheap bread I saw they also were well ahead with the Christmas goodies lark. Now I am all in favour of planning ahead, but why can we not be like Denmark. If I am right they are not allowed to display Christmas goodies until late November or early December! Good for them if true!

This annoys me on many levels. Not only is it commercialising Christmas, which is at the wrong date anyway, but I was reminded by this display of the meaningless of life for so many. When the Beatles were producing music to change the world I was wondering why on earth do we live like we do? We leave school, get jobs, then get married and have kids who leave school. get jobs, and on and on and on. There was no point to this life! Life surely meant more than this. Now today I know for a fact that life is found in the person of Jesus Christ himself, and this does not go round in meaningless circles (although it could be clearer in many ways if you don't mind me saying so!). However the idea that each year we start with a New Year piss up, move on through Valentines Day (another rip off), a commercialised Easter (and what have eggs to do with it I ask you?), take part in the holiday season in the foreign sun or British rain, then prepare for Christmas! Worse still until recently Christmas day was full of adverts for summer holidays! Now they have to wait a day or two before they start this. What is this life if we are constantly looking to the next, all too often, non-event? It is one thing to go through the year looking forward to something, but in my sixties mind set something is amiss and this is nothing but a rat race. Who wins? The companies, and their employees, who set all this early commercial gain up lose out as they are stressed out for a handful of silver, the buyer is stressed out looking for the right gift, and worse if it turns out to be wrong! The nation is left suffering a hangover, not just of alcohol and the problems it brings, but the emptiness as the enticing season fails to live up to expectations. The season of 'goodwill?' No, just the season of stress.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Wednesday Evening

There is nothing worse than setting aside several hours to make soup than forgetting to eat the stuff! I slaved over the cooker (always called a 'stove' in some parts for no good reason) cutting up onions, pouring red, green and black lentils into the pot, boiling water, adding two, yes two, chicken OXO cubes, cayenne pepper, tomato AND brown sauce, and using up the electricity to ensure this bubbles long enough to kill all the germs. Then, when all this is done, cooled and stuffed into the freezer I forgot to eat the stuff! I did eat, that tin of pink salmon has been in the fridge for several days now so I suppose I had better use it up as it was open. The bread was also a little stale, but I got it cheap so cannot complain, (Not that I am one for that anyway) and all that remains is the open tin of green beans. Funny that as they were not green when I put them in there. I did however obtain a load of salad stuff for £1 at the market. This will reduce my cholesterol and keep me on the run!

It is quite staggering to think of all the folk who have passed through, and by, this church. It has stood there since around 1200 and one wonders at the tales it could tell. Wars have passed by, reformation and counter reformation has seen the church altered and re-altered. In days of yore people stood, the important at the front and the social hierarchy lowering as you neared the back, hence climbing the social scale, (very biblical!) and when tired folk 'went to the wall' to rest.
The fact that people wore the same clothes constantly, and even the rich did not bother to bath, meant that an odour was palpable in the crowded church, and it would be crowded as attendance was usually compulsory. Flowers were strewn on the floor to combat this, feet crushed them as they passed and the flowers on the stone floor gave of a pleasing scent. Attendance at the morning service, often the evening was reserved for the top brass or those who really wished to be there, attendance was not always popular and the vergers were often forced to take action, waking some folks, stopping others writing graffiti or scraping pictures on the walls, on occasion stopping others calling out their objections or attacking the celebrants. The local churches are not like this today!

Tuesday, 6 October 2009


Yesterday started in the usual manner. I found myself sitting here stuffing stale bread toast down my throat and swallowing a gallon of cheap coffee to stimulating the left over brain cells. This did not work! I know this as I looked at the clock, noticed the time as almost a quarter to eight, and when I looked at it much, much later I didn't notice the time was still quarter to eight. About ten past nine it dawned on me something was amiss! Several minutes hunting eventually procured a cheap battery for the clock. Cheap batteries are ideal for clocks and the like, and totally worthless for cameras, radios and anything that requires enough effort to blow a feather!
Nothing daunted I opened the curtains and was confronted with a dull, dreich, day! Gray clouds hung over all. Indeed not so much over as across all for the far side of the park was dulled by a gray mist.

Hours later, when the rain had come, fallen, drenched the world, stopped, started, stopped again, started again, got heavier, and then got heavier again, and then stopped for a good while, I went out.
It rained!
However before this I found myself in a churchyard opposite, attempting to 'see' the photographs contained therein. Graveyards are very photogenic, especially if they contain interesting stones. This one however failed to satisfy my photographer impersonation. The graves, while ancient, were not outstanding.

I suppose such a comment would upset many of those buried there. After all only the rich upper and middle classes could obtain burials such as these in the days of yore. For many 'place' was important and while many knew their God and lived accordingly there is always a sense of self importance within humans. A walk through Kensal Green Cemetery reveals this. There the rich and famous are buried, probably with great pomp at the time, and vie with one another in the magnificence of their monuments. It is as if they are attempting to outdo their neighbours even in death, or possibly, just maybe, attempting to hold on to life even when dead. "Look at me," such monuments shout, "I'm not dead, I'm here!" But sadly it is too late, no matter how great you were. The ivy covered tombs, often great concrete boxes, an attempt to prevent grave robbers, ghouls, stealing the body for medical experimentation in the days gone by, lie crowded in this small area, leaning at angles as the earth subsides beneath them. The trees planted in memorial soak up the moisture and in places the ground dips leaving some tombs slightly ajar, as if someone is attempting to escape. "Not yet dear boy," I informed one chap," Not judgement day yet, don't be in a rush for that!"

If the stones are readable, and so many have faded badly, it is possible to guess the reason for the departure of these people. While many lived to a good age others died young. Illness that today has been controlled by the National health Service, took away many in the past. Childbirth, still dangerous today, took many young women. Cholera, Diphtheria, TB, and a mass of other illness are not found among the west today yet were common dangers to the folk who lie here. There again, flush toilets, cars, telephones and washing machines were items many of them could never have foreseen. Some lived into the 20th century and died in wonderment at the material benefits around them. Advancements that also produced the Great War among other things! The good we discover we soon make use of in war, we are good that way!

The thing about graveyards is the way they cheer me up! On the one hand I can look at the past and conjecture on the lives of the fallen, and on the other I can look at the sun and be glad I am alive, and Jesus wants me to see better sunshine than this for ever with him! Great stuff, although I wonder why. I also wonder how many of these will be there on that day?

Sunday, 4 October 2009


Such is the intense excitement of my day summed up, by a small bridge over the gaping three foot ravine below. This fifty yard walk through the 'Dingley Dell' that leads to a supermarket carpark! The sun shone through the trees dappling the leaves and brightening the day. Even the bulk of the police station overlooking the pathway could not dampen the joy of the trail.

Nothing else happened!

The phone didn't ring, the e-mail did not bleep, even spam did not bother to arrive, the papers were dead, the TV was a waste, and lunch was ... well let's not bring that up again! All in all a rubbish day. Of course the news from Saturday did not help. Travelling to Paisley to play St Mirren at their new ground, a new ground in which they have as yet failed to win a game! Naturally the Heart of Midlothian have never played there as yet and it appeared to some experienced readers of the games that a Heart of Midlothian defeat was on the cards.
We lost!
I am aware of Mike S. now lying under one of the tables in 'The Diggers.' I wish I was with him!

Friday, 2 October 2009

Rhythm and Blues

Earlier tonight I came across a programme on a video concerning the early years of the great sixties groups. This hour long programme specialised in those Rhythm and Blues influenced folk from that time, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Rolling Stones, Manfred Mann and so on, all great stuff to me. This was my music, the music of my youth. Not that I ever heard enough of this of course, it was not given nearly enough air time on the bubblegum dominated Radio 1, the BBC radio station that began in 1967 and was 'pop' orientated.

As an adolescent, and all through the following years, the screaming guitars and the steady rhythm of the blues was indeed the music that got to the heart! The main groups that made music to listen to, and rarely made money on sales generated by Radio 1, were blues and R & B based. At school, yes I did go to one but would rather have missed that experience thank you, we had a 'hop' at the end of the year.Always a local Rhythm & Blues band was brought in, although when the ginger lass pulled the singer of the stage we nearly lost that little pleasure! This music does speak in a way no other does today, it captures all sorts of moods yet the generation around us prefers bland inconsequential ballads, usually from all girls bands who look the same, on black lassies with high pitch voices who all sound the same! What does our music taste say about the generations?

Our music was more basic certainly, although the bands usually had a middle class background. As the decades since the sixties have passed the music tastes reflect the growing prosperity and becomes more sophisticated. (I discount Lieutenant Pigeon's 1971 offering here by the way) Are we just to wrapped up in ourselves to want to listen to anything other than bland pop? Girlies always did this, and it was mostly the male of the species who wanted Jimi Hendrix and the like, and this led radio stations to give them what they wanted as that was the core listener. Only John Peel in the sixties gave us what we wanted, progressive music to go with our Hippy ideals! 'Make love not war!' It usually became 'Make tea not war,' but we won't go into that. Oh those Hippy ideals, so good and caring, making a better world, and we would have done so if human nature had not got into the way! If it wasn't for sin we would have done OK!

Funny how so much was spoken about the caring, loving life, while the groups that gave us the music that we 'loved' to were arguing with one another while high on drink, drugs and conceit! How many preached the 'love' gospel while ripping others off? However the music was, and still is, good! A proper Rhythm and Blues band can really liven my little brain up. Possibly because we hear it so rarely these days. Even in Chicago and such places the 'Blues' is a dying art, the young find 'rap' more to their taste, though I use the word 'taste' lightly here.

Oh Eric Clapton why could I not play the guitar like you? How come you had the talent and I had the need? I saw him in Westbourne Grove on night. I had just bought a cassette, remember those, of one of his albums, and as I walked along playing air guitar to 'Pretending' in my head, I saw him! He stared at me, knowing I was dreaming I was he, and he realised I was staring at him, our eyes met, and in one sublimely fast movement he was off into the '7/11 shop. I wonder if he often thinks of me? That area, part of the Notting Hill of fame, contains many famous and now rich superstars. The house prices do not allow folk like me to live there. One bedroom flat for half a million? Not me! In fact I recall seeing the 'Third Ear Band' live in a church hall on Lancaster Road there around 1971/2 time. Fantastic evening! Light show and drugged up poetry readings also! wonder if they remember me?

I have always liked music that was a bit innovative. Nowadays I like classics, jazz and the old stuff. Anything that is not meaningless, bland 'pop' usually can be listened to for a while, unless there is a screeching soprano spoiling it of course. There are limits! Oh if only I had Hendrix talents, or Clapton's, or Jeff Becks or Keith Richards or Jimmy Page or .....

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Some thoughts

.. I'm not a complete idiot -- Some parts are missing.
.. Ever stop to think, and forget to start again?
.. Procrastinate Now!

... God must love stupid people; He made so many.
.. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a cash advance.
.. He who dies with the most toys is nonetheless DEAD.
A picture is worth a thousand words, but it uses up three thousand times the memory.

You're just jealous because the voices only talk to me.