Thursday, 31 December 2009

Happy New Year 2010

I do not know where this picture originated,
but somehow I recognise that attitude!
I wonder if you have many resolutions to make?

I wish you all a
Happy New Year
and may 2010 be all you wish it to be.

All the best to one and all.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009


Hogmanay is regarded as one of the most important days in the Scottish year. It is important in other parts of the world also but the Scots regard this as their day. This is not from arrogance, Scots as we all know are the most humble of folk, in spite of, directly or indirectly, being the origin of almost all the good things in this world. I say that full of humility, especially as I am not responsible for any good thing as far as I am aware! However I digress, the word 'Hogmanay' merely refers to the last day of the year and is the prelude of much celebration when the new year arrives. This new year will begin at midnight with the first chime of the hour, but possibly continue until the new day has dawned.

The word has many origins going back several hundred years and could even have originated from Normandy or elsewhere in Europe. The Scots of course, unlike the English next door, spent much time trading and living peaceably with their European neighbours. There was much contact with France and the Low Countries and somewhere along the line their celebrations of the New Year linked with the Scots 'Hogmanay' party spirit. However it originated is immaterial, all northern European people living in the darkness of the long winter night looked forward to Spring approaching and required a mid winter celebration to herald this. While in England they encouraged the Christmas event (one that took over the pagan 'Saturnalia' festivities) and turned that back into a pagan dissolute activity, the Scots, since the reformation, had avoided Christmas in any manner and kept the inebriation for Hogmanay. Indeed Christmas Day was not a holiday at all in Scotland till around 1960.

At midnight the bells toll, Auld Lang Syne is sung, often badly, fireworks crash into the sky, drinks are shared (Whit? In Aberdeen?) and tall, dark, handsome men approach neighbours doors carrying whisky, black bun, and possibly a lump of coal. All these symbols wishing the householder prosperity in the New Year. Folks venture from house to house, usually welcomed, sharing hospitality and greeting strangers in the street warmly. The party will continue in many places until the early hours, and often times resume later in the day well into the second day of January. Sales of whisky, beer soar at this time of the year, along with 'aspirin,' 'paracetamol' and 'Andrews Liver Salts' obviously!

Hogmanay is to be enjoyed along with the knowledge of the longer days and shorter nights, plus the opportunity to set down a marker to move on from a year that may have failed and begin a new year with a fresh start. I hope we all make the most of it!

Tuesday, 29 December 2009


Technologically I have always been what they call 'challenged!' For instance, there is the time I suggested to two of neighbours my intention of fixing the damaged electric socket, a simple idea in my mind but one that ended when they both began making fire engine noises. They were, it transpired, attempting to tell me something. Back in the distant past while still at school my dad used to insist that I ought to attempt to learn a trade. This did not appeal to me in any way whatsoever. However the school woodwork lessons were often enjoyable. The smell and feel of the wood, the enjoyment of working with it did make such a trade worth considering. However, my failure to make anything that worked kind of put me off. Jesus being classed as a carpenter was one thing but I would have required a lot of miracles, and some pretty dumb customers, to succeed in that line. The first item made at school woodwork was a type of boat. Having been given the wrong type of wood by the teacher mine quickly turned into a submarine. Other highlights there included the teacher, a lovely tough man whom we all admired, especially when giving six of the belt on that Lochgelly Tawse of his, informed us somberly that fingers and hands must not be placed in front of chisels! Any blood found would lead to the Tawse coming out. Three minutes later I was striving to hide the blood flowing from my left forefinger from his venom! The last item we made was a magazine rack. All was going fine until the last term when we were transferred to a miserable old goat of a teacher who we did not know, nor like. Any idea concerning getting a joinery trade faded fast when the rack I was so happy with failed to touch the ground with all four of its feet. All those calculations and measurements were a bit much for my little brain and now I have descended into senility I suspect today I would be worse!

Metalwork was noisy and rough, although watching the clever dicks suffer the belt for disobeying the strict injunction not to pick up the anvil and show off was indeed fun! How lovely to watch the class hard men wiping away tears! We also had a thing called 'Mechanics' where our favourite teacher attempted to make us understand that "When force 'A' pushes down on a pivot, force 'B' pushes upwards." Simple indeed, but our eleven year old brains found this too much. I still do not understand what that was all about? Looking back it is clear that a trade as a joiner would have been more useful than anything else I have done, although being sacked as "Useless" several times may have hindered my apprenticeship somewhat. I may well have learnt something useful and money making. However I chose an easier path, downhill!

I can recall spending weeks attempting to blow up the tyre on my bike. No pump would work and it took for ever to find one that did. I once had a motorbike, oh yes indeed, and a slight problem occurred, well two actually, the first was something wrong inside and the second I could not get the screws to turn to fix it! Hampered by this slight problem I ended up selling it to my neighbour. He then complained it had problems! There have been broken radios, TVs, Videos that would not connect with TV's and Freeview boxes that did connect, but would not work. I even treated a plant I was owned so well it committed suicide from the fourth floor! It could have been worse! Once, while aiding a nurse who complained the oxygen cylinder was not working and the patient was therefore in a life threatening situation I spent a considerable time changing cylinders, fighting with the beast and, eventually, realising she had allowed the tube from the oxygen to run under the wheel of the bed! The patient got such a boost from the simple act of moving the bed he nearly flew out the window!

Thus understanding my I refer to the washing machine with trepidation.
When I installed it all went well, except the water overflowing the standpipe of course. However I overcame that problem by transferring the waste pipe to the sink, so that's covered. Then just before Christmas the silent hermit down below attempting to play the school clype by complaining in a somewhat snooty manner about water coming through to his bathroom ceiling. He was at pains to specify that it "...wasn't his fault." Naturally I informed the landlords lass that this was occasioned after the original standpipe problem when the machine was first installed and that this had now been dealt with. I may have inadvertently added that he was a right wee nyaff and needed a good healthy love naturally.

To ensure no leaks of any sort occurred I was told by an expert, to turn off the blue tap when not in use. This avoided any leaks, and I settled down content and happy. Today, while the central heating was pumping away, removing all the nasty cold air that we really do not require, I turned on the blue tap just before I pushed the button on the washing machine. Water spurted out and went everywhere and I suffered a realisation. I realised that there had indeed been water drenching the inbred silent one downstairs, as I had the blue tap open for the first two or three weeks since the machine arrived! Water must have leaked out everytime I used the heating! ooer missus! So we have the tricky situation in which I was wrong, (please disregard that last statement) he was indeed suffering an inundation of wet type water, and I blamed him! Naturally had he actually knocked on my door when he noticed this rather than run off to teacher something could have been done about this before now. However he never knocks on the door to complain, or for anything else. I suppose putting that dead rat at his door the other day did not please him either? There's no pleasing some people.

Correct amendments have been made to the system, and his ceiling will be shoddily repaired by the landlords chief bodger soon after New Year. I wonder if I ought to tell him my mistake, or just let him stew in his dislike of me? Hmmm, perhaps I will leave it like this, there is always something else to arise and annoy him with at a future date.

Monday, 28 December 2009


So once again Christmas begins to pass away. The shops are littered with women desperate for bargains, usually bargains they do not need. Some returning those exciting lingerie outfits their men saw fit to give them at Christmas, and exchange them for flannelette nightgowns! A few, wiser than the rest of us, are already stocking up for birthdays ahead and next Christmas of course. The excitement of Christmas morn has already slipped away for many, the disappointment of the socks when something more exciting was hoped for being wiped out when the young ones show delight at what they received. The rising at five thirty, ripping open gleefully the pile of boxes that lie there, not all with their name on them, replaced later in the day with tears when falling off the bike, fighting with siblings and setting fire to the house accidentally. A normal Christmas routine in some areas I believe.

The cat has not been fed for four days, simply visiting every back door for miles around supplies more turkey leftovers than Sainsburys stock! Wine and beer bottles fill the recycle boxes, mostly the refuse of Uncle John and Aunt Gracie. One wonders if she will like the video of her activities when it is accidentally shown on YouTube to her workmates? In spite of the number of people stuffing themselves in any one house fridges will still be overflowing with foodstuffs that will never get eaten. The million or so starving to death somewhere in the world will bless us for this! Women are found starkers on weighing machine up and down the land, arguing with the needle as it goes further than they believe it ought to go. Just wait till he steps on the thing. That exercise bike will be brought out of the garage very quickly. And to think he once contemplated a career as a football player? When he next visits the ground they will reckon his team has a 'big' following.

Millions have been spent, much of this on credit from various places, much to bring joy and happiness, and far too much wasted but needing to be paid for. Was it worth it? Some will always say yes, others will have nothing but a depressed emptiness enlarged by others glee. Suicides increase as depressed and lonely folk feel alienated at this time. Yet more enjoy the camaraderie the season brings and are encouraged to speak to those around them they normally ignore. It's a funny time of year in many ways. A mid winter festival, once pagan, taken over for Christ, and now mostly pagan again in many places. Commercialised it may be, but without it we would have to invent another reason for this. The Scots have always had New Year for the drinking parties, only the English turned Christmas into a booze up. However we need one at this time as we await the first sign of Spring.

Christmas is always with us, for good or ill, and as for me I have had a good one, all to myself again. I hope you had a good time, in spite of all the problems associated with your life, and maybe, just maybe the Good Lord will bring a better time next year. I hope so.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Christmas Day

Christmas Greetings to all my Readers

'Yahweh bless you, and keep you.

Yahweh make his face to shine on you,

and be gracious to you.

Yahweh lift up his face toward you,

and give you peace.'

Num 6:24 World English Bible

Thursday, 24 December 2009


The ancients, living in the south of Mesopotamia, standing outside their mud walled homes had the entire range of stars open to view each night. As time passed they came to consider the stars as portending events on earth. Priests began to record the movements in the night sky, carefully noting anything unusual. This would then be interpreted as regarding events on earth. Some kings became capable of such studies also, the need to be warned of future threats, physical and human, being their care.

Around six B.C. three planets, regarded as stars by such men, came together in conjunction, what could easily be interpreted as one bright star. Magi, possibly Jewish, came to regard this as a sign that a new King of the Jews had been born. Quite why such men should reach this conclusion if they were not Jews cannot not known , although there was a large number of Jewish settlements in the east. It is also not known where in the 'east' they resided, nor how many there were, but whatever they were convinced sufficiently of their findings to travel to Jerusalem and greet the new born King. Some Christmas cards have got into a habit of showing three men, travelling by camel, staring into the night sky and pointing out the bright star beaming down. As they brought three gifts, Gold, Incense and myrrh people conclude there were three men and that is I suppose a reasonable assumption. However it is much more difficult to imagine them travelling so many miles with just a pack of tired sandwiches and a flask of coffee! They would have had servants, probably slaves, many donkeys and camels, and if they started out together, would have joined with other travellers on the way for protection against bandits. Travelling up by the Euphrates towards what is now Turkey, or possibly the route via the Tigris, suffering heat and dust by day and deep cold by night, the travellers would cover over a thousand miles. Not a romantic enough picture for a Christmas card but reality never is.

Imagine a young girl, possibly as young as fifteen, already betrothed to a husband, living her life in an out of the way small village. Then an angel appears beside her. What would you say? To be informed she would bear a child, one who is the Son of YHWH himself and her marriage not yet confirmed, would probably unsettle most women. Mary however appears to take this in her stride, accepting Gods will even though she had yet to explain this to her husband to be! Some girl this one! Her confirmation, probably required, arrives when she visits her relative, the long barren Elizabeth and both children within respond! To be informed by your soon to be wife that she is pregnant, and that by YHWH himself, is not the sort of thing most men would accept with tranquillity yet when better informed Joseph himself accepts the situation and submits. The character of both these people is clear in their acceptance of the situation and their response to obey whatever God has given them to do. If only we could respond in similar manner?It reflects the character of God himself that he entered the world in the poorest of situations, in a nation ruled by a foreign power, subject to rebellions, violent robbers, religious extremists and the random whims of the ruling and very sick monarch. On top of this the weather could play havoc with the agricultural life, and yet this is where God enters earth.

To be called by God to such a task could give some hope of fame and fortune but it is soon evident that this will not be. The birth arrives during a census, a census that requires travelling miles, too poor for a donkey surely so a pregnant woman would have to walk to Bethlehem. By the time the slow moving pair arrive the house, and it would have been a relatives house they would have sought not an Inn, No 'Holiday Inns' in Bethlehem in those days. With the house full a cave under the house used as a barn would have set the scene for the birth.

Years of tinsel and commercialism have removed the original scene from us. Christmas card images replace reality. Yet here, in the presence of no-one bar three wealthy Magi and a handful of shepherds, considered the lowest of the low at the time, born to a young lass from an out of the way village, in a land full of trouble and strife, God himself, Immanuel, takes on our human frame. The depth of our sin, hide it from ourselves as we try, is revealed by the action of our God in doing what we could not do to save us from his eternal judgement. This babe, born so lowly, was to take our sins on the cross. This is not a time for crass commercialism but subjecting the 'self' to the one who reigns and wishes us to reign in life with him.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009


Christmassy Places

I do not know why but I feel very 'Christmassy' this year. Normally I detest the Santa Clauses (that's Father Christmas to you middle class folks), the over the top grotesque display of lights outside houses attempting to outdo one another, for charity, and the increase in prices (all with 'Only,' or 'Special,' or possibly 'Sale,' labels on them). All of them ripping us off! Now I love giving (and receiving) presents and wish I had the cash to do much more, however this supposedly Christian festival is indeed just a pagan activity. When the midwinter festival was taken over and dedicated to Christ's arrival on earth it may have appeared a good idea at the time. However it has remained merely a midwinter festival for most, and that means a big drinking time and now with added commercialism! I doubt it ever had that much religious fervour for most of its time. The Scots of course, being Calvinist, ensured Christmas was celebrated soberly and left celebrating new year for the drinking, a sensible way of controlling things.

While I detested most of this for years I find in recent times I want to be with a big family at Christmas, my family, and that is now impossible. Folks are too split apart and too many kids need to visit too many grannies or their grasping hearts will not be content! I am so keen on this Christmas that I find myself singing songs about snowmen, while aiming bricks at those I actually see around me. I searched for a radio station today just because it would be playing carols! On top of this I failed to stand in front of 'Santa's Grotto' in the town centre yelling "You don't exist you liar! You are a fake," and successfully leaving dozens of crying kids running to their mum's! Today I merely passed by and muttered "Happy Christmas," to a lady of easy virtue dressed as one of Santa's pixies in green shorts and a somewhat tight fitting outfit. Mind you a quick glance at her face showed she had seen a few Christmases in her time, I did not realise Pixies were that old.

I am even beginning to regret falling out with folks just before Christmas so as to avoid sending them cards and gifts, I wish I had received more myself now! Sadly I am even beginning to wish
I had not thrown my strip of tinsel away that time. Ah well, the dinner is in the fridge, the pudding in the cupboard, the cream in the fridge and enough beer to make Mike S smile in the fridge, so my intention of losing a stone this month will not come to pass. The religious side will manifest itself however, Jesus is always there, and I hope to spend the day nearer to him!

Monday, 21 December 2009

Snow is Still Horrid!

Sitting here, wrapped up in a sleeping blanket, woollen gloves with the fingers cut out on my hands, I rejoice that today is the shortest day of the year! This is the day I look for more than any other for today heralds the first day of Spring! Yes I realise it is a long, cold, way off, but from tomorrow the days begin to get longer, the nights shorter, and life so much better for everyone, especially me! I love daylight and warmth and winter brings darkness and cold, as you will notice by looking out of my grubby window. Snow, and not just snow, but wet cold, snow at that, has fallen all over the area. Planes lie grounded at airports, cars begin to slowly slide sideways of the roads, and the poor among us begin to freeze to death - what are you looking at me for?

James May has been doing some interesting programmes in recent days and many of them are about toys. Yes those expensive things kids get at Christmas and break by lunchtime. I am watching, half heartedly, one at the moment. This one is about girls toys and they feature a number of girls toys and far too many people talking about them. Amongst the 'experts' that appear we have the usual 'psychologist,' there is always one and always female, who blabs on about studies with apes. Now I did not catch how long, nor how expensive, the study was but I did notice her commenting that they concluded that girls preferring girls toys was not social engineering but genetic. In short, girls play with dolls and boys with train sets because that is how they are made. She sounded smug in her research. Gosh, what a result. Walking about with an open mind and a pair of eyes would have shown this to the dumbest, well ought to have shown this to the dumbest long ago. While there are some who deviate from this, and there is nothing to stop a girl driving a train - although I bet she lets the men shovel the coal into the engine - generally people left to themselves become either male or female, no 'gender' required.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Dangerous Snow!

Now I am not one to complain, but when I threw off the duffel coat, removed the anorak, dumped the three pullovers, two rugby shirts and two pair of hikers trousers, along with the four pair of socks and the pair of army boots, I then climbed out of bed to be greeted with several inches of snow! After rubbing myself down with whale blubber I donned the several layers required to stay alive while sitting at the PC and chipped the ice of the window so I could see out. All night the gales had been blowing leaving a blanket of the white stuff across the region. Cars have been stranded, trains delayed airports closed and several husky teams have passed by. Polar explorers aiming for the Antarctic and a flock of penguins were seen in the High Street! This of course has led to headlines about 'CHAOS,' and 'End of the world!' Not that the papers ever exaggerate!

However as I ventured out this morning, without ski's, I was aware of how icy the pavements and roads are. The main roads are cleared of course but the side roads remain treacherous, and few venture over 20 miles an hour there. Kids were happily throwing snowballs at helpless old women and breaking the windows of passing cars, white van drivers were out to prove that they were not intellectuals by speeding along side streets, and doom merchant turkeys are wandering about the farms crying "The end is nigh!"

As the sun shone and the blue sky glimmered above, and a few birds braved the cold to find lunch I, naturally, was busy falling flat on my backside while crossing the road! It is always a dangerous corner so I went for it and soon found myself in the gutter. 'Home Sweet Home' a passer-by muttered as he passered-by. Now my wrist is slightly aching and in the morning will be as stiff as a Taliban after the PWRR have passed by.

Now I am not a killjoy but finding my great niece is so keen on this snow stuff, and just as well according to what is going to hit them tomorrow, finding her enjoying this horrid weather and praying for more irks me! While I lay under seven feet of blankets last night she was busy in the back yard as the horrid stuff fell!

Looks like her dad right enough!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Sniper One

'Sniper One' at Amazon (link to the right!)

After the invasion of Iraq there was a huge role for the occupying forces to establish a stable government. The incompetence of Bush and his mates meant an ongoing war between many factions made this difficult. The British Armed forces were given the task, among others, of stabilising Al Amarah a town in the southern Shia area. This area, the cradle of civilisation with Ur of the Chaldea's and Uruk just two of the ancient cities going back five millennia or so. Al Amarah did not have that sort of heritage. 'Sniper One,' by Sergeant Dan Mills, tells the story of the 1st Battalion Princess of Wales Royal Regiments (PWRR) tour there in 2004. The story concentrates on the Sniper Platoon, giving an insight into their operation and importance to the army. Expecting this to be a quiet 'tree hugging' tour, escorting those involved in rebuilding the country, with patrols and happy smiles for the locals, the tour became one of the great British operations of recent years.

Al Amarah turned out to be a stinking Arab town. Stinking because of the breakdown of the sewerage system with no effort being made to repair it. The dusty roads, the great heat and opposition of many of the locals did not make the place welcoming. At this time also trouble was brewing in Najaf where the US were confronting Moqtada Al-Sadr, the most powerful Shia leader, in Najaf Old City where he took refuge with his followers in the Imam Ali Mosque. Imam Ali is the man from whom Shia Islam descends and when this most holy place to Shiites was damaged by US action Moqtada ensured Al Jazeera TV was on hand to advertise the assault to all the Middle East. The resulting tumult ensured all Shia, including those who had favoured the coalition forces, joined together in attacking them at any opportunity. US use of tact one of their less known abilities.

Al Amarah was also full of black shirted OMS men. Their chance to meet the local OMS men occurred on the first patrol, innocently stopping at a Police station to greet the police and discovering this was the OMS headquarters. It took several warrior trucks and aid from a passing company of Argyles to extract them, severely hurt, from the fight. There was not going to be much 'tree hugging' on this tour.

The battle group endured daily incoming fire of various degrees and as the Najaf standoff continued the OMS responded accordingly. An arrest by night of leading opponents brought much opposition, and that at a time a resupply column had to enter the town! During this confrontation several warrior vehicles came under severe fire. Private Johnson Beharry drove his badly damaged warrior through the fight and into safety, his head exposed to save his comrades. Much later he was to do similar again. On this occasion after the warrior had been hit by an RPG and injuring him severely, he continued to drive the vehicle, in reverse, until it took his comrades out of danger. He was later awarded the Victoria Cross!

After the US had damaged the Imam Ali Mosque and Al Jazeera TV covered the action Iraq took the side of Moqtada! This put the situation of the men in CIMIC under great duress. There followed a month long siege during which hundreds of mortars fell by day and night. Thousands of rounds were exchanged between the sides, and even an attempt at seizing the building had to be repulsed. One man thought it was like the 'Alamo,' it was more like 'Zulu!' No one informed him that those at the Alamo were wiped out!

The action in the book reaches a crescendo during the month long defence of the compound. The longest continuous action by the British army since the Korean war, and the lengthiest defence since WW2! The troops, and the book centres on the Sniper Platoon on the roof, endured the battle while the compound was devastated by mortar and raked by RPG and rifle fire. In spite of injury and lack of provisions they decided to hang on in there rather than evacuate. The belief was that they could win this conflict, and they had no intentions of losing control of the town, in spite of the siege.and they did!

When the troops were eventually relieved, after a peace agreement had been achieved by the leading Shia Imam, the accounts were totalled. The battle group had two dead and 48 seriously wounded. The opposition dead must have run into hundreds, possibly thousands! One Victoria Cross was awarded to the battle group, Two Conspicuous Gallantry Crosses, (one down from the VC.) There were many other medals including a 'Mention in Dispatches' for the leader of the Sniper platoon, 'Sniper One himself, Sergeant Dan Mills.

We are left with a better understanding of what the Iraq war meant to the troops, good information of how they fought and what the war meant to the ordinary soldier, and an unforgettable experience of 'being there with them.' Books such as this show the army for what it is and bring home to us the reality of war, both the heroics and the routine. It is wise to read this and understand better the experience of war that the media cannot bring us. The rights and wrongs of the war cannot be dealt with by such books, soldiers ask questions much later if at all. However what it means and how it affects men can be gleamed by this honest appraisal of the action.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Snow is Horrid!

The freezing, gray clouds above me are arriving from the far northern reaches of Russia are bringing cold white lumps of horribleness that are falling everywhere. Snow! Snow that horrible white stuff that brings nothing but cold, wet, misery everywhere.The roads get blocked, trains stop running, aircraft fall from the sky as their wings freeze, and on the ground some nutter is running around saying "Isn't it lovely?"And dancing around in the stuff. Well NO It's NOT actually! It's horrid!!!And I hope you catch pneumonia!

Opposite me the gentle falling white flakes have landed, lying thickly on the ground, but nowhere near as thick as the people who like this stuff and are walking about gleefully slipping over and breaking bits of themselves. These flakes are still landing as I write, and while I write I wear three vests, four shirts, two pullovers, two pairs of trousers, four socks on each foot, my ex army boots, a woolly hat and gloves with the fingers cut out to avoid frostbite! Gallons of hot drinks are poured down my throat but the chill remains, and the cause is Russian snow! Through 'Jack Frost' on the window I can see the park gardeners completing the igloo they will use to survive until going home time. Around them teams of huskies pull people home from Christmas shopping, icicles hanging from frozen blue noses. I am sure I saw David Attenborough chasing a polar bear or a walrus a minute ago. Across the country folk are moving about on ski's and having what they call 'fun?' Are these folk mental?

Cars will be crashing all day, insurance companies rubbing their hands as they refuse to pay out, "Act of God, mate, out of our hands the weather like," they will lie while pocketing a bonus. TV will carry pictures of broken cars, skidding ambulances, grounded rescue helicopters and of course some nutter in a red suit with reindeer in the High Street. SANTA DOESN'T EXIST YOU PLONKER! It's just a Coca Cola advert! On top of this the 'Daily Mail' reader will be complaining the gritters are not out, their road is always last, and it's all the governments fault and they should lower our taxes! Personally I cannot be doing with these Moaning Minnie's. Just get on with it I say!

In Copenhagen the masses are arguing about money halting global warming while they ought to be developing ways of sharing out all that sunshine that is wasted on Africans! Why should the Sahara need all that sunshine when the rest of us are freezing in our homes! How come the Mediterranean gets hours of sunshine day by day and we live under a gray cloud half the time? It's just not fair and it is time those attending (at great expense) Copenhagen's 'Jolly' got their lazy heads around sharing out the sunshine in a more fair manner, e.g. by giving it to us!

Right, until this horrid snow clears up I am going back to bed, If I can thaw out the blankets.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Freezing Cold!

It's too cold to post here in this freezing place.
So here is a picture of somewhere warm where I ought to be!

Monday, 14 December 2009


Joy indeed. I had to attend an interview I did not want to go to and was quite down about this. Some things are forced upon us and I was going to go through with it as all options otherwise failed. Joy of joys! Someone had been stealing the copper wire used in railway signals and set fire to a station on the line! There was no way I could reach my destination! Hallelujah! Phoning the contact I discovered there was no other dates as this was the last! So, sadly, that job has gone and I am back to looking for something that I can actually do! Whatever that is?
Who says prayer does not get answered?

Today in1911 Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen became the first man to reach the South Pole. Quite what made him do this in wintertime is beyond me. Why didn't he wait until summer when it would be warmer and the journey so much easier? I have never understood why anyone would wish to spend an enormous amount of time and energy crossing vast acres of ice in subzero temperatures. Just what is the joy in having your toes frozen off? Give me sunshine and warmth every time I say.
Anyway Roald made the journey with the usual Norwegian efficiency. He used dogs rather than the horse which I believe Scott used, and prepared solely for an attempt on the Pole, rather than a scientific exploration. He reached the pole a month before Scott, leading the British effort. Scott was of course regarded as a hero,but the more I hear of him the less I find this to be the case. Shackleton made an effort on the Pole also but turned back as he was unwilling to lose his men. Indeed at one time he left many men on the continents edge and bravely sallied forth on a desperate journey to South Georgia to find a ship with which to rescue his men. Scott's determination to get to the Pole first left him careless of both his life and his men's. Amundsen, on the other hand, was Norwegian, and as such better prepared I guess to make such a journey.
The Norwegians are an underestimated people.
Sad people with an ice fetish can find out more here on Cool Antarctica.
Though why these folk need to refer to it as 'cool' is beyond me, the place is freezing surely?

Saturday, 12 December 2009


Tiger Woods
Please shut up about this man!
He always had to much publicity, he is just a golfer, and being a top golfer who is black may sell papers but I don't want him in my face daily.
Men who are rich and famous will always draw attention from women on the make, especially when they trek the world leaving their wives behind them. So the temptation will always be there, and many other men will be found giving in to similar temptations.
However it is strange how Tiger is seen as the bad one and the girls involved are found rushing to the media to tell their tale, for a lot of cash I imagine. I wonder how much the one paid a million to keep quiet will get after telling the press about that?
It happens, and we have no idea what his relationship to the woman who married multi millionaire famous golfer Woods actually is. It is none of our business!
So please get it off the screen, and send the gold diggers involved to Afghanistan to do some good for the troops there! That'll teach 'em!

The other day Prime minister Gordon Brown held a get together for Christian leaders at Downing Street "intended to ‘celebrate Christmas and the contribution of Britain’s churches’" apparently. Well over a hundred attended, standing around holding a wine glass and wondering who most of the others were and what was the PM up to? A choral group, 'All The King’s Men' sang carols and the PM, son of a Church of Scotland minister, attempted to pretend he still cared about God, although some would feel any faith he had has been eroded by political ambition. There is no doubt his fathers ministry led Gordon's way into social caring, and at the back of his mind this is still his thing, although I see it as having long since faded away.

Shock horror however, in the middle of all this Nicky Gumbel, founder of the Alpha Course, suggested a moment's prayer! According to the 'Daily Mail' report this caused consternation for some!

One who was there said: ‘It was quite bizarre. Suddenly Nicky Gumbel was up in front of everybody urging them to pray for Gordon Brown and for the success of the Copenhagen summit.‘Everybody there had some connection with Christian churches and maybe some members of the more evangelical, Pentecostal churches were comfortable with it. But a lot of traditional church people found it deeply awkward and inappropriate.’

Guests included Roman Catholic Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor and the Bishop of Southwark, Tom Butler. Southwark is the centre of the liberal, 'gay,' wing of the Church of England. Just imagine them forced to watch someone, with support from several others, praying to Jesus as Lord? I love the fact that some found it 'deeply awkward and inappropriate!'

Tuesday, 8 December 2009 Deals of the Day and Special Offers

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Sunday, 6 December 2009

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Friday, 4 December 2009

Wahing Machine

My new machine arrived today, and I happily encouraged the chaps as the took the very heavy old one down the awkward, difficult stairs, and then brought the heavy new one up the awkward, difficult stairs again. I gave them 20 as a tip, I thought they deserved it. I just hope it doesn't stick in any vending machine they use.
To install I undid the screws as instructed, then put them back as I had taken the back of and not the three screws holding the spacers! I inserted the water inlet pipe in place, then reinserted the inlet pipe and ensured it was tightened properly this time, and shoved the drain hose into place in the standpipe.
Following instructions I set it going, carefully selecting the appropriate setting for the first trial wash to clear any gunge that had developed doing construction. I then stood nonplussed until I realised the electric plug was not switched on. Once I had moved it out once again and flicked the switch (what numpty put the plug there?) and waited. It worked!
It was so quiet! The previous old machine was like a steam roller when it got going and then much more when the spinning started! The whole building shook! My neighbours were not always pleased at this. This one was amazingly quiet. Even when the spin cycle was working. However as always my luck was, well, my luck. Suddenly there was a splashing sound as the drain hose had left the standpipe and was emptying out all over the floor! This was a nuisance I thought. Tsk! However by making use of the sink I managed to overcome this problem but still cannot work out how to ensure the standpipe takes the water away without having to stand over the sink ensuring the hose does not drown the building. Naturally I am working in a confined space and have already pulled three muscles, bruised several body parts and await the stiffness in the morning.
Labour saving devices are great are they not?

Thursday, 3 December 2009


So I decided to fix the gears. It has been a while since they fell apart and now I have chanced upon some cash, (playing a mouth organ outside the shops helped a lot. I was given £5 from each shop I stopped at and told to **** off and quick!) so I ran off and bought a new shift gear change. Yesterday I attempted to install this device. having glanced at the paperwork and comments in books from 'experts' it was clearly a simple thing to do.
As you will be aware major operations are stalled by small objects. A massive engineering project by 'Green protesters,' a proposed new township by 'Nimbys, (Not in my back yard!) and watching football by the wife! So it was that when I placed the shift on the handlebars it stuck halfway! No amount of pressure would shift the shift! I struggled, twisted it, pushed it, prayed over it and cursed it, but it remained half way. Losing pounds by exertion I stopped to breathe again when suddenly I realised there was a screw on the bottom to tighten the brute. I reached for the Allen Keys to loosen it. There was no one small enough! Grrrr noises began to fill the air. But I managed to remember that I was not one to complain and continued in a long suffering manner. It was too late last night to do anything about this latest calamity so early this morning I trooped around the shops before the women could get in the way. A set eventually was found at a cost of £2.99. Home I trooped triumphant.
It made no difference!
Loosened screw or not the brute still stuck solidly.
I returned to sweating and swearing, which worked to a satisfactory degree in that the shifter almost reached its allotted place. The rest of the day has been spent dirtying my hands with oil and mud, fitting the cable, refitting the cable, looking for the black bit, then looking for the silver bit, taking them back out as it didn't work, fiddling about, and then looking for the black bit again! All I wanted was someone to knock at the door and say "Merry Christmas! just once! The cable is now on, the black and silver bits connected, possibly in the right order and the dérailleur mechanism proudly, and somewhat smugly, does not work! I have taken my oil engrained hands away for the night. Other urgent needs take priority.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Tuesday or Wednesday?

I rose at my usual time, half an hour after throwing the alarm through the window, and headed for the coffee. Today I was careful to be less dozy after yesterday's disaster. Starting the morning as I was to continue the day I filled the cafetiere (that's your actual French that is) with coffee, fiddled about in the kitchen and knocked the cafetiere onto the floor, smashing it and burning a one inch hole in my foot with the hot beverage!
"Goodness gracious," I said as I stared dumbly at the floor, "I didn't want to do that."
The floor, by now coloured a deep brown and speckled with best Colombian coffee, as indeed was the oven, the wall, the ceiling and the pigeon outside that had been sitting on next doors roof! Somehow I knew it would not be my day.
As an aside I must explain the phrase 'Fiddled about.' This does not mean I was in fact fiddling, as I have neither a) a fiddle, or b) talent! I 'fiddled about by moving plates and cups (unwashed) to clear space for what laughingly was to pass for breakfast! Just how stale can bread be?

This morning I made my coffee in the new 'Tesco' supplied cafetiere and managed to drink it before I began putting my foot into anything. I then finished the Christmas cards, and how long does this take? I did the usual thing, having saved the cards received last year I 'Tippexed' out the signatures thereon and re-used them. I call this 'Going green!' I learned some things while passing through Aberdeen you know!
After this I wrapped the few parcels, last years unwanted presents, and affixed the stamps. You see, recycling is good! I decided to follow the advice of two sweet ladies of my acquaintance and avoid putting stamps on the packet, I just put four little dabs of glue and fool the postman into thinking the stamps have fallen off. There is a possibility these two may have passed through 'Doric Land' also. Not that I have many stamps anyway, and last year one sorting office realised the King (God Bless 'im) was dead and returned three cards to me! I have avoided putting a return address on the cards this year.

Later, after waiting half an aeon in the Post Office to post the valuable items, (Why does everybody have to pay for a Tax Disc at the same time I ask? I wandered through the town. I was dumbfounded to find the market up and running on a Tuesday and could not understand why this ought to be so. Maybe it is because of the Christmas shopping needs I thought and continued in my confused state for some time until it dawned on me this was indeed Wednesday! I am in several minds as to whether not having a proper routine is to blame or whether I am just barking? Answers on a postcard please! Anyway Matron said I must have a chaperon next time I go out and where have all the steak knives disappeared to?

I do remember meeting the pretty young lass, and they are all pretty young to me, to discuss the work situation yesterday and I remembered that this event did indeed occur on Tuesday. This left me with much homework to attend to, and I will eventually, and also led to far too much time on this here PC. Now my eye strain is back again and I have lots of letters to write and many things to read. It does not matter what folks do, in the end no-one will employ me because I am unfit, ignorant of what they require, and glaiket! I need a Lottery win urgently! Do you have any lottery system that works? I wonder how those folks that bought all those books offering Lottery winning systems got on? Do you reckon anybody ever won after using them? No, I doubt it also.

Ah well, I am off to lie in a darkened room until my mind returns! "Matron! Come and put me to bed!"