Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Soup



This cooking business is easy. I quite understand how men go into this cooking business, especially on TV, and make money out of it. You will remember that my 'Flanders Stew' has become world famous, there again so has 'Swine Flu' I suppose, but cooking is easy-peasy and I am thinking of making a cook book with my own special recipes. I would put a recipe on one page and a meditation from the Psalms on the other, I would call it "Wok in the Spirit!" It will be a success and I am sure thinking about it brings a lump to many throats. Take my home made soup for instance, something I began when musing on my mothers potato soup. My mothers soup kept us alive when young and few mums today cook in similar fashion. My great niece insists on this when visiting her great gran and has been known to take some back home with her because her mother, and gran, are so bad at cooking! This inspired me to try my own home made soups.

Today I took some (No need to soak) Red Lentils and chucked them in a pot and added boiling hot water. To this I added some green (No need to soak) Lentils and stirred. Having raided the cupboard I discovered some 'Lentilles Vertes' (No need to soak and what are they anyway?) and flung them in for luck. The next step was to chop up some foul looking potatoes, and even fouler looking onions, and amid tears and much stink fling them into the cauldron. The recipe obviously requires something to develop the taste so I crumbled, and then when I recovered placed an imitation chicken OXO cube in for flavour. Adding a dollop of cayenne pepper to spice things up a bit I then added the most important ingredient of all, Brown Sauce! There is no doubt that this is the true secret of success. I stirred the lot, allowed it to simmer and, eventually, sat down to lunch!

It was Foul!
It tasted rather like the famous Black Broth the Spartans lived off! Now, where is my spear....?





Possibly the hottest day of the year today, so I wandered away from my strenuous mental exertions and sat in the park and watched the girls read my book. Stretched across the bench I soaked up the sunshine and soon, like a pig in the sun, I was bacon. (Get it? oh never mind) After thirty or so minutes of this I removed my shirt in the sunshine for the first time since the early eighties. On that occasion, being unused to soaking up the sun, I sat there for hours slowly turning a deep beetroot colour. Soon afterwards I discovered this was unwise! The red turned to itching, the itching turned sore, the friends and colleagues turned ugly and insisted on rubbing my chest on each and every occasion. I often volunteered to do the same to theirs but women are fussy creatures you know. Naturally I did not stay too long like this, less than forty five minutes all told, and ran for cover. However I did enjoy my short stay in the sun and while there attempted to study the book, 'Western Society & the Church in the Middle Ages.' This was difficult as it was much better to inhale the aroma of the flowering bush nearby, watch the girls swifts chase one another across the deep blue sky, and generally just indulge myself in the rare pleasure of hot sunshine. Those who were not brought up in a nation in which cloud covers the land two days out of three, often carrying rain which it delights to leave with those below, will not understand the British preoccupation with sitting starkers in the sunshine.

When I first came to this county I discovered it had the lowest rainfall in the UK, this I soon proved wrong when I became a postman! I also disproved a theory at that time that the area was as flat as Norfolk, it isn't! Indeed there were many on my rounds, one right around the corner! But I must not let you think I am one to complain must I? Anyway I am enjoying the warmth of the earth, and understanding how people wish to sit under their own olive trees and rest in peace and safety. We Spartans can cope with this, for a few days!

Monday, 29 June 2009

Confederations Cup



Quite what this was all about, apart from making money for the men in Fifa, I am not sure. It can pass as a warm up to the World Cup next year, and the conditions in South Africa required a practice I suggest. However it appears to be more about Sepp Blatter and his cronies having a knees up around the world.

That said it gave us a few good games and one or two upsets. Spain losing to USA! USA! USA! was caused partly to Spanish overconfidence and I suggest a lot to do with a seasons weariness. Most of the Spanish players have been in action since last July, and with little of a break last year after their Euro Championship win, and it is time for a rest, physically and mentally, for them. USA! USA! USA! did indeed do very well. Getting to the final may have included a bit of luck, but all sides require this, and once in the final against the biggest team in the world they went two goals up! Few teams have ever done that! Even Scotland have never gone two goals up over Brazil! Brazil contain some of the worlds best players at present and the fear of losing spurred them to come back for a three goal victory. Meaningless competition this may be but we did have a great final!

I hope the citizens of USA! USA! USA! realise just how well their wee team performed in this competition. The future for the USA! USA! USA! is indeed bright on the football field.

However there were one or two grumbles regarding the BBC coverage, shoved aside on BBC 3 for some obscure reason, (how come tennis is considered more important than football?) the games played in the afternoon were only available to those with the magic 'Red Button!' Another flaw is Gabby Logan! Why is a woman presenting football? This lass was dumped by ITV after failing there, and even Clive Tyldsley keeps his job there! Yet the Beeb picked her up, at great expense, and dumped her, unwanted, on the football public. I'm sorry but women are not up to presenting or commentating on football, it's not their place!

Talking of not in the proper place brings us to Garth Crooks. Here we have another example of 'positive discrimination.' Like Gabby who got her job from being female Garth got his by being black. This was not something he mentioned when complaining that he could not apply for a managers job because, being black, he would not have been appointed. That was not racist I suppose? The fact that he never applied for a job fearing rejection may speak much about the lack off gumption required to manage a football side? However his colour and not his talent got him his job at the Beeb. At least neither will be prominent at the World Cup, surely?

There was a slight sound problem also. A technical glitch means the sound arrives a fraction of a second before the picture and this means the commentators (Johnathon Pearce, please someone shoot him now!) voice arrives before we see what he is screaming about. Only a half second but in football (where the feet and not the hands are used) this is important.


Heatwave!


The weather folk are predicting a 'heatwave' now! Of course you understand that in the UK any warmth that enables the individual to remove their jacket is considered a 'heatwave!' Grumbling begins immediately! "It's too hot," "Why is nothing done about this?" The government should hand out fans." "There are people dying from the heat!" The last I wonder about myself. Old folks may suffer but dying from the heat in the UK? We will catch flu from pigs next!

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Closed



Nothing in my mind today,
not a thing.

Nothing, nowt, zilch.
Emptiness, hollowness and lots of space yes,
But no thoughts.
Daydreams and time wasting yes,
But thinking, no, not today!
Sorry....

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Saturday Musings

I must confess to some cynicism regarding the death of Wacko Jacko.

The hour by hour coverage made me turn off, and the weeping girlie's brought some cynicism to my mind. While they cry from pain I suspect there are many boys crying for relief there will be no sleepovers there!

Poor sad Jacko, poor childhood, too much money and no sensible folk to turn to. No father figure in his life, at it appears not one that was of much use. When folks refuse to have a father, or insist two male/females can act as parents hey ignore the way we are made! Mind you, having said that I am left wondering what colour he was when he died? Somehow I suspect the phrase 'brown bread = dead' was never used, or am I cruel?

No doubt he will be reverenced for ever by some but I truly do not understand the fuss. I am happy not to comprehend young folks music, or their liking for weirdos, but Jackos song and dance routine was in my view meaningless pap. The videos represented an emptiness that music in the 60's never possessed. Then there was a meaning to music, a desire to change the world for the better, in theory if not in fact. Since the mid 70's music has been mostly self serving, getting worse with each decade. The occasional flash of something outside this occurs, punk for instance but that too was a meaningless grab for money!

Maybe it's just me......

In the meantime, while avoiding tennis or Michael Jackson conspiracy theories, I have spent the day in fantasy land. No, not like that, but dreaming of a house I saw in Edinburgh, well Leith actually, shock horror! if only I had around £400,000 going spare I could have changed my life for a while. I checked my accounts, £2:20 in, my pocket, a cider jar half full of copper coins and a few small silver ones, a credit card bill that Alistair Darling would be jealous off, and an overdraft that makes me shudder, especially when two bills arrive this week! I can see me "dwelling in the realms of fantasy Jones" for a while yet.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Grass, Flowers, Fragrance


It was when I was sitting in the park watching the gir reading my book that I noticed it. A worker bee was bouncing along the bench just like the lassies and watching him I began to cogitate, as you do. You see I had put the book down and allowed the fragrance of the newly cut grass to fill my senses. This was more profitable in the sunshine than the book was. There is little in God's earth that is better than the smell of newly cut grass. Quite why it is so sweet I have no idea but I love it. I considered the area the gardener had omitted while mowing, a patch about thirty feet by fifteen had been allowed to remain to attract the beasties. I watched the bee stop to rest on the bench and wondered if he was attracted by smell or sight to such things. The flowers, that is to say buttercups and dandelions and such like weeds, are bright yellow and this, they say, is to attract beasties at this time of year. Surely I suggest the aroma does similar as it appeared to me our bee was getting up close to things to inspect them rather than watching from a distance and heading towards his target. Chasing the bee on his way and wiping hundreds of little black beasts from my arms as I sat reddening I considered the 'Lillies of the field.'

Flowers are such wonderful things. Delicate, colourful and fragrant, just like the women in my life. Hold on, I'm not so sure about the 'delicate' part there. Our Thai Mike often shows pics of his gardening exploits and it is amazing how varied flowers and plants can be. In the UK we possess many that are thought to be indigenous but in fact are escapees. In the 18th and 19th century many rich folks collected specimens from all corners of the globe, in a similar manner to the way England collected an Empire! Some of the seeds escaped from their gardens, often aided by passing birds, and on occasion they reached the railway lines. As the railways spread through the land, with amazing speed as it happened, they took with them the seeds from the plants that had taken root alongside the track. The wheels carried them to all corners and they remain abundant throughout the land today.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

I'm Annoyed


I'm annoyed!
Now as you know I never get annoyed. That is one of the disadvantages of being so nice! However, I always remain calm in all situations - not counting hurling bricks at those brats screaming past on their Vespa's of course, and using the chainsaw in the market place that time, but other wise I am always cool, calm and collected - oh yes I forgot the problem at the Hibs ground when the goal went in. Suggesting that Leith docker could go, er chase himself, was probably unwise with hindsight. Anyway I did get truly upset last night, so much so I even did the 'Daily Mail' thing and wrote to the BBC!
A British (which means she was probably not English) female tennis player was being interviewed after her defeat. She was somewhat emotional and instead of informing them where to go as she ought to, the lass burst into tears. Now in my mind the thing to do here was back off and give the lass space, but oh no, this is television, so the camera closed in, changed angles, and got a close up of her tears. The bastards! I was so angry at this! Clearly she was upset (clearly she was also rubbish!) but to use her tears because this is 'good television' was just wrong! I was so angry I spent a good long while attempting to e-mail the Beeb, (and this is not easy). Of course such shots are considered 'good television' in the business and are to be found in all reports from troubled regions. No war zone is complete without the crying women and bandaged children! To me using her this way was heartless! The picture has of course been repeated many times since, and "Dearie me," the commentators said, "Poor lass," but they use her just the same.
The bastards!


I'm still annoyed!
Stickies! These are wonderful things! Post it notes for the PC screen (That's Personal Computer not Political Correctness Dummy!) and I use them all the time. Excellent things I find. Even better they are FREE!!!!! However I have an annoying problem. Along the top of each one is the white control bar, and I use this to move each one into position. However I moved one small yellow Sticky right to the top of the screen and the white bar along the top went to far. Now I can't get the thing back down again!!!! I am right annoyed again!




Now I am about to watch Spain play the USA! USA! USA! at the Confederation Cup nonsense and the aerial is giving trouble again. But I am not one to complain.....Unless Spain lose to the Yanks I suppose...

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Foul Mood


I have been in a foul mood today, unusual for me as I am usually so laid back and easy going. However today I am again for a change feeling foul! Everything goes wrong! Tennis dominates the TV, the radio and Andy Murray is constantly referred to as 'British' or even 'English' by TV people. England's racism never ceases! The weather is hot and I am stuck in here typing this, I pick up the yoghurt (spelt Yoghurt!) from the shelf and drop it on the floor (spelt floor!). The brats on their noisy, buzzing, scooters spend far too much time racing past my door upsetting the TV aerial , I awake too early for my own good and am soon half asleep again and cannot get back to snooze level. Memories of nasty incidents from the past keep rising in my mind (ever have this?) , and I touched up the painting this morning and now have once again got paint everywhere! I also got the water bill today and in spite of the fact I am well in regards payment they want to increase the monthly payment! The money grabbing privatised imitation bankers that they are! I would trust a banker more than a utility man these days. Bring back Joseph Chamberlain I say. He may have created an Empire but at least he knew what to do with gas!

Now I am not one to complain but I could list, but refuse to, all the things that have gone wrong in the past few days, however I am too nice. One man somewhere in Belgium has won £12 million on the lottery, why not me? I would put it to good use for the whole world, he will just waste it on himself! Greedy git! The tennis is still continuing, and worse, the sun will shine so the BBC will have this wall to wall for days yet, and who cares? Tennis was only created to make basketball look interesting, and it failed!

Now, after cycling each morning for health reasons I find my knees are aching and the 'Thai Curry House and Takeaway Massage Parlour' will not attend as they are fascinated by the men at the tennis! I would wander out and creak my way over to the gardens and sit and read a book but I cannot be bothered with any book at the moment. No doubt concentration would be disturbed by some ned playing tennis and skipping school. Right! That's it! I've had enough, I am off to drink metal polish and finish myself off. Goodbye cruel world!









er, can anybody lend me some metal polish........

Sunday, 21 June 2009

The Longest Day


Today is the 'Longest Day' in the UK. By that I do not mean longest in the sense of waiting for the dentist to open so that a tooth can be extracted, nor do I mean longest in the sense of waiting for the bus to arrive while the rain pours down your neck. No indeed I mean longest between between sunrise and sunset. Now for many year man thought this moment was significant. Men without God sought him as they could and Stonehenge reflects early Britons ideas concerning the importance of sunrise, although some suggest that in fact the sunset was important instead. But clearly they felt this important enough to spend hundreds of years building Stonehenge into a major gathering point. Quite what occurred when they gathered is unclear but the event was important enough to transport huge blocks of stone all the way from darkest Wales to Salisbury plain. The transport of such blocks seems difficult enough today when cranes and lorries are employed to transport such loads, imagine the trouble taken in the days of yore? However early man ingenious and capable of great building works. The Tower of Babel, Pyramids, Standing stones, huge temples and palace complexes and the like are found in many places often dating back thousands of years. Today, it is impossible in some cases to understand the intellectual reasons behind their works, but clearly these were important social settings.

This morning vast numbers of numpties gathered at Stonehenge to see the sunrise. Naturally being Britain (not England as some would have it) the sky is covered with clouds and even here when I woke just after three the sky was coloured a darkish hue as morning approached, very disappointing but better than the dark black days to come! This is my favourite day off the year! I cannot be doing with these dark nights, I was made for light and sunshine - yet I was born in Edinburgh! Sometimes one wonders! These numpties at Stonehenge have gathered in imitation of pagan worship from the past. Few however actually have any idea what the past activities were all about as information regarding the ancient druids is almost non existent, so those who dress in fancy robes and gather so intently there each year are in fact living a fantasy life based on their own desires, not those of Iron or Bronze age man. The majority attend for the spectacle, with little care for the 'worship' and naturally the media will also gather there, anything to fill the press on slow news day.



In November 1918 Scapa Flow welcomed the German Fleet interned after the armistice. Some 74 ships, Battleships, Battle cruisers, and Cruisers along with destroyers were brought into the famous naval base. These ships were manned by a skeleton crew (that is skeleton as is small number of men, not a lot of bones running around the ship). Scapa Flow while an important base for the Royal navy was also much disliked as a posting. In the north of Scotland the weather becomes extremely cold in winter and there was little or nothing to appeal to the thousands of men normally based on Royal Naval ships. The German crews, who had spent most of the war in Williamshaven naval base, probably felt extremely unhappy with their lot! This could not have been helped by the news of revolution at home while Germany tore herself apart. By the middle of 1919 Rear Admiral von Reuter, in charge of the imprisoned ships, knew Germany would be forced to accept whatever terms were ordered by the Versailles discussions. So on this day 90 years ago, 21 June 1919, 72 warships of the German fleet were scuttled in Scapa Flow, Orkney. Many were scuttled where they lay and others were beached. This gave the Germans some sense of revenge as they realised this would stop their ships being used by the enemy. Most however were salvaged for scrap during the next twenty years.




Fathers Day is the day nasty women sent 'Fathers Day' cards to single men they feel spiteful towards."To Daddy from Johnny" it reads, "When will I ever see you?" Single man feels no little concern as this is the first time he has heard of 'Little Johnny' and begins to wonder just what did happen that time in the social club. he had a drink but, but....?

Fathers day was not thought off when I was a lad, fathers were, but no special day was set apart for them. Fathers Day, like Mothers, Valentine, and any other special day are only inventions from people making money out of emotional blackmail! My dad, like most of his generation, would appreciate some consideration I suppose, but he would not have been to bothered about a special day for this. For the kids, or mum yes, but not for himself. He probably thought that would be making him a bit of a 'Jessie!' He saw his role as providing for his family, especially as his mum, who he was close to, left his dad when he was about five, probably because of his drinking. My dads aim from then on was to do the right thing and provide for, care for and bring up a family properly! Naturally this went well for the most part, although he and I managed not to get on - too similar in some ways. He also felt a failure when my mother went out to work. When I, the last in the line, started secondary school she began to clean houses for the middle classes. She got on with them so well she is still a family friend with them over forty five years later! Dad still felt this made him inadequate but this I did not realise for years. While in the army he managed to scratch his initials on Stonehenge he claimed. Salisbury Plains being a huge army training area and I suspect he, and others, were indulging in the age old army occupation of dodging the work! He died from lung cancer, caused most likely by cigarette smoking, at the age of 61. Had he lived he would today be 101 and probably spent all day complaining about something. So unlike me! It has to be said we didn't get on, partly from the age gap, the sixties revolution and both of us sharing certain dispositions. However in the last twenty years I have often wondered what life would have been like had he lived? Sometimes I would like to ask him questions, but I suspect I already know the answers.

Friday, 19 June 2009

I Have Nothing to Say


So I don't think I will bother saying it. I suppose I could have a go at saying nothing, some folks like that sort of thing, usually women walking down the road blethering into a mobile phone. However I am too knackered from running around to think clearly enough to write nothing. Waking at quarter to six, rising at half past and then completing many of the urgent jobs by just before nine in the morning wore me out! It has it be said that watching paint dry also achieves similar results. Now I stare at the light evening, hidden behind the light cloud formation the weather girl so generously promised us, and find nothing crosses my mind. Nothing! There are no rants against cretins in shops, as those I met today were friendly. No rants at telly rubbish, as I didn't watch any of it. No rants at all because as always I am mild, gentle, quite and lying in my teeth! I think I will stop that and go lie in my bed instead.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Painting



Do you realise just how difficult it is to paint the window? Mind you is is several years since I attempted this and I had to relearn everything again. There again every time I have a tea break I need to relearn everything again but that's another matter.This takes forever this painting lark! I forgot how trying painting frames could be! Getting the brush to apply the stuff is hard enough, but getting it wiped off the glass when the brush makes a mistake is wearing me out! I had hoped to finish it, but naturally there are some bits that cannot be reached when the paint is still wet. Then there is the problem of the window dropping down when my paws are full of brush and tin, panic sets in, manhandling of wet window leaving paint on me that is somehow transferred to everything within a mile and a half! Then half an hour like 'Laurel & Hardy' until I get back into the swing of things. Naturally when I finished for the day, worn out and weary, I began to rinse the brushes under the tap. It was as I done so I realised this was 'undercoat' and not 'emulsion!' As I stared unbelievingly at my paint covered hands I realised there was no 'white spirit' in the house! (Why don't we call it 'Turpentine' any more?) This meant a sticky trail through the town until I found some from a cheerless non - English speaking type for whom smiling was a crime! (No it wasn't Mike S.) However the undercoat is now on most of the woodwork, and quite a lot of the floor, just a bit to finish when the rest is dry. Tomorrow we gloss. 'Once more unto the window we go!' As someone famous almost said.

Of course, then there are the other windows that needs doing also. I need a job to give me a rest!

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Now I am Not One to Complain, but ...


There are far too many doctors in this town!
I have been feeling a bit rough recently, but that is not unusual. The sore throat, the tiredness, the lying in my bed from morn till night, all these were indications that I was sick. Then earlier today I walked through the town with the market on determined to be first to pick up the potatoes and cabbages that have fallen from the stalls and are left behind. On the way my condition was recognised by all these doctors and as I passed their 'Flu' prognosis was indicated to me, quite forcibly I must say, by cries off "Swine! Swine!" Just glad I was not in the US as this would have cost $300 a throw!

Then I had a run in with some bint in the chemist shop.
"Two wasps please," I asked politely.
"What?"
"Two wasps please," I repeated slowly.
"We don't sell wasps," she said in a somewhat strained and quizzical manner.
"Well," said I, "There's one in your window!"
Then the yelling started.

People often cause me bother, and I sometimes wonder if it is just me?
At the dole office when I was signing on the lassie asked for my name, "Six and Seven Eighths" I replied. "What? Why?" she muttered almost looking up from her paperwork. "Why Six and Seven Eighths?" "Because they just picked my name out of a hat," said I.

In times past I used to dress smartly, but my recession means I have had to dress more 'Off the peg' recently. Now however even that has been taken from me. My neighbours have stopped leaving their washing out at nights.

Life? Don't ask me about life!

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Man of Letters


Like John Ruskin I have always been a ‘Man of letters.’

Admittedly my letters have never quite made me either rich or famous, however I keep trying, and one day I may succeed.


In the days before I reached this level of maturity (stop giggling at the back) I wrote occasional scribbles to various folk, usually inspired by TV programmes. However I never did win any prizes, either from ‘Blue Peter’ or the STV News programme children's bit. They did not show my drawing of the Forth Road Bridge either! The kid who had his picture displayed on said programme may well have seen his mother smile but his effort was nowhere near as good as mine! Not that I'm bitter....


Funnily enough I did, eventually. Receive a reply from the great Jim Cruickshank! Heart of Midlothians greatest ever goalkeeper! Fan mail that obtains a reply was rare in the days when stamps cost ‘3d.’ He did enclose a signed photo and for a few short moments I was a star at the new, Jerry built, complex that masqueraded as an education establishment. I still have the picture and no, you can’t see it! IT’S MINE!!!!! Naturally I never achieved that standard of fame at school again. There again I was no good at the important things, burglary, pick pocketing and gambling on the horses!


In my fourteenth year, (we left school at fifteen then, and in fact I was actually fourteen when blessed release arrived), I began the laborious slog of writing letters to employers whose last desire was to receive letters from ‘spotty Herbert’s’ with no desire to work. In those days the majority did waste time and money in replying politely ‘No chance pal!’ The unfortunate death trap whisky bond that did employ me in July 1966 often used to indicate their wish to have replied with just such a note! The boss often wandered about muttering "3d, just 3d!"


I suppose I must point out that there have been many occasions when I have indulged in such work related letters, not because I have been dismissed as cynics suggest. On the contrary that has never happened to me, I always strike the first blow! Today I am once more involved in such written pleadings, again through no fault of my own, and in a recession at that! Nowadays replies are unlikely, even if I use e-mail rather than ‘slow mail.’ However I have received a few replies. "Wot you? No chance pal," they say, although with a 'Thamespeak' accent of course.


Not all the letters I have written have received an encouraging reply. Take that weather girl for instance. While sweet in disposition, lovely in appearance she was of course female. Quite how she misread my epistle in that particular manner is a mystery to me! The two, rather large, policemen who appeared on my door at seven that morning did not share her disposition I am sorry to say. Anyway, an encouraging word to presenters of programmes sometimes elicits a photo in reply as a thank you, although John Motson sent the picture but withheld any comment that time I wrote to him! As indeed did Trevor Brooking when I enclosed a sock and suggested he shoved it into Motsons gob next time they shared commentary together. There has been a continual correspondence with one TV chap who often got round to answering, sometimes cheekily, my comments. His decision to make use of one of TV’s slappers ended his marriage, and the correspondence appeared an intrusion at the time so it ceased. We may take it up again later, once his eyes have healed!


Today, in between lying about my youthful, talented, capabilities, I am tasked with nothing more than begging letters, all of which fail. The "...children may be starving," and " ...my husband may have left..," or ".. the wife dying of mononucleosis," and ".. and one child may need constant 24 hour care...," but the mean rich folk feel no sympathy and offer no care. Indeed they treat my billets with contempt! It was as if I pretended to be some Nigerian Prince who had $25,000,000 US to give to some poor sucker daft enough to believe them. And let face it, there is always someone who falls for that one isn……hold on. I’ve just had an idea! I must go I have some letters to write......


Monday, 15 June 2009

15th June


On this date, the 15th June 1215 The Magna Carta (Great Charter) was sealed by King John at Runnymede on the Thames, near Windsor.


English kings are a thuggish breed. ‘Richard the LIonheart’ spent only a handful of days in his kingdom and the rest of his time in the Middle East shoving his sword into Saracens. At home brother John took over and as Kings do, developed a penchant for riches. This annoyed the nobles as it was their riches he had a penchant for! John was excellent at obtaining money but useless at the wars in which he spent it. As an Englishman he considered France to belong to him, which is why so many English buy houses there and refuse to speak the local language and demand that 'Marmite' is available in all the shops, but Johns wishes caused problems with the natives who did not see things his way. Upsetting the Pope was also a bad idea. He took the huff and closed all the churches, thus upsetting the English who thought they could only reach heaven by the churches authority, (Their theology was poor then as it is in the Church of England now!). The Barons did not like this either, they wished to avoid Hell also! The usual convention was for the King to ask for money and discuss this with the powerful Barons. John had instead just demanded all the money he wanted, I told you he was English. Losing the war, having watched the Pope close the churches, having John demand more taxes, combined to ensure the Barons got miffed. So they rose up, captured London, and forced John to ‘discuss’ things. The discussion led to the ‘Magna Carta’ being signed!

The ‘Magna Carta’ is seen by many as the beginning of a legal system which brought law to all, although Hammurabi had done this years before. Many look to it as the beginnings of democracy, but not if you were a serf! The idea of ‘Freedom’ from oppressive kings has been used to justify many similar ‘revolutions.’ However the serfs and vassals remained serfs and vassals, the poor remained poor, and the rich remained rich, and in control! Written constitutions, as many have discovered, can be used for good or ill, no matter the intent behind them.

Naturally, as soon as he was clear of the Barons John repudiated all he had signed away! The Pope was none to pleased also as it meant his hold over the King , the people, and the land, was reduced. Civil war ensued, and this probably pleased the English as they like that sort of thing. I bet they blamed the foreigners!


15th June1381 Saw the end of 'Wat Tyler,' leader of the Peasants Revolt.


After the plague had ravaged the land in the 14th century there was a desire among the lower orders for a fairer society. Naturally those at the top disagreed. Had they increased wages and allowed more freedom the ‘Peasants Revolt’ may never have occurred. However this was not the attitude, and indeed never is the attitude of those who are at the top! The imposition of the ‘Poll Tax’ led to Jack Straw, John Bull and others leading the revolt.

Around fifty thousand approached London and gained admission. Bad leadership, lack of clarity of the aims, and a few beheadings of some leading Bishops and the like occurred before the revolt came to an end. The end came when Richard II, then only fifteen years old, rode out to confront Tyler. Tyler foolishly came alone. In the middle of the discussion the Lord Mayor of London, then an important position, used his sword to dispatch Wat Tyler, (Did he cry “Wat about that then?” as he did so I wonder?). This brought the revolt to an end, and indeed brought the end of most of the ringleaders of the revolt.


15th June1836 Arkansas.

On this day also in 1836 Arkansas became the 25th state of the US. Whether this has been a good thing for the United States or not I have no idea. I await further information on this. But I could make an educated guess if pushed.....



15th June 1888 In Germany, Crown Prince Wilhelm becomes Kaiser Wilhelm II.


I said at the time this did not look a good idea but nobody listened then. They still don't!


15th June1971 Britain.


The Mad Baroness, Margaret Thatcher, while secretary of State for Education showed her concern for others by banning the distribution of ‘Free milk’ to primary schools. One of the benefits of an education during the fifties and sixties was the free milk, a benefit much required at the time. 'Thatcher the milk Snatcher' brought this to an end because it cost money! Childrens health has never been important to Margaret, money yes, children, or indeed adults, never!

She fell over recently, I want it put on record I did not push her, but I think I would have!

I note she is using an NHS hospital, had she got her way it would never have been built!


Sunday, 14 June 2009

Philosophy


As you know philosophers are men in sandals who wear togas and wander about thinking about things. Or at least they did in the old days when Greek thinking was important. Thinking anywhere is important, especially when answering a lassies question regarding her looks, and while the Greeks became famous for questioning things surely people had asked similar questions before? I suspect the answer lies in God. The Greeks, like most others, had plenty of them but the so called 'philosophers' began to ask questions about how life came to be, what is it for, and does God really exist. These questions had always been seen in a theological context up till then, it appears to me, but Thales and those who followed him made thinking outside of gods popular. Another reason for the lack of thought was that most folk were to busy doing what they were told or just making a living. Very few agricultural workers became philosophers, and the same could be said for the chaps enslaved to a life down the silver mines. However if pushed they would have been doing some very deep thinking about life much of the time.You see philosophy is just thinking and we all do that, yes even FishHawk!

The Cambridge Online Dictionary describes Philosophy thus :-

Philosophy
noun
1 [U] the use of reason in understanding such things as the nature of reality and existence, the use and limits of knowledge and the principles that govern and influence moral judgment:
René Descartes is regarded as the founder of modern philosophy.
See also PhD.

2 the philosophy of sth a group of theories and ideas related to the understanding of a particular subject:
the philosophy of education/religion/science

3 [C] a particular system of beliefs, values and principles:
the Ancient Greek philosophy of Stoicism

4 [C usually singular] INFORMAL someone's approach to life and their way of dealing with it:
Live now, pay later - that's my philosophy of life!

So there!

Personally I always consider this subject from the point of view of C.E.M. Joad. he was a man famous around the time of the second world war, another one the Yanks were late arriving for, and he edited the 'Teach Yourself Philosophy' book at that time. In the third page he quoted a paragraph from what he called Britain's top philosopher of the day. It was rubbish! It almost filled the page of the small book and as Joad asked, "What did it say?" Nothing! It was complete gibberish! I note Joad's edition is no longer available! However that is indeed what the subject means today - intellectual exercise that goes nowhere! Fun for some, especially those that don't want to believe in God, God is too practical and demanding!

Some Thinking men, we will not consider women as thinkers surely.........?

Thales, considered the first real philosopher, some say was attempting to understand the world and be practical. he however thought magnets have souls apparently, so he should be dealt with carefully.
Empedocles, thought the earth was a ball, indeed his slaves may have disagreed, he explained everything came from earth, fire, water and air. Good for him, a thinking man! However he also thought he was a god, and to prove this jumped into the volcano called Mount Etna. I suppose he reappeared during the next eruption but this is not recorded.
Pythagorus. He spent far too much time working on maths problems to confuse a lazy little brat in an Edinburgh primary school to really be of much interest. However he played on an triangle apparently and spent his time learning geometry, even though he was the only one who understood that language. He also believed in reincarnation, and considered all things, even plants to be reincarnated folk. This gave him problems as a vegetarian! It is said he was being chased by his enemies and refused to cross a field because he did not want to hurt the souls growing there. His enemies killed him! I suppose he didn't give a 'tin of beans' about it?
Socrates. This guy was a bore! He questioned everybody about everything, and got up their noses. Eventually this shabbily dressed pain in the neck was given Hemlock and bumped off. Some however question this as the description of his death does not fit the effects of Hemlock. Just who have they tried it out on to discover this I ask?
Crinis a Stoic. Imperturbable people Stoics. Marcus Aurelius the Roman Emperor was one, get on with life whatever the situation. Be indifferent to problems. Apparently he died when a mouse leapt down on him and frightened him to death.

These were early philosophers and the subject was discussed for years after them. Aristotle became famous for being one, and he influenced the Roman Catholic church, which is all you need to know about him, and them when you think about it. You can read about Aquinas. Burke, Hume, Russell and a whole host of other thinking folk but when I do I am left wondering what they were actually achieving? Think about things by all means. Consider the world, but how many were full of their own biased opinions. How many early philosophers shaped their thoughts on the backs of their slaves? Indeed how many thinking folk in later years never gave much thought to the conditions of the poor around them? Were they good people to know? Did they love life, their wives, care for their people? Does philosophy today actually achieve anything other than entertain the thinking middle classes and keep such weirdos off the street? Would they not be better playing rugby, or did having their heads bashed during school rugby matches lead them into this easy way off life?

Enough of this. My head hurts now. Knowing right from wrong and attempting to follow it means you will be happier, have many questions answered, and have more time to think about things that matter, football, ice cream, sleeping, and reading intellectually stimulating blogs.

By the by, Joad himself came to a bad end. Famous as he was because of his appearances on the wireless during the war, appearances that brought him many enemies, he had become a habitual fare dodger on the railways. Caught on one famous occasion and fined £2 by the court, a good fine at the time, he lost his job at the BBC amongst other public appearances. Soon became ill and within five years he was deceased! Philosophers suffer badly it seems.......


Saturday, 13 June 2009

Aberdeen Rolls


Glancing at the 'Aberdeen Mad' messageboard, (a forum for supporters of Aberdeen Football Club) I came across a thread devoted to the 'Aberdeen Roll' or 'Rowrie' as it is called. My friends from Aberdeen stuffed gazillions of these down my throat some years ago and I have never forgotten the experience! The Rowrie is one of those things you just cannot stop stuffing into your big gob, or mine preferably! The 'EatScotland' website gives a few details of these lovely eats and if you ever happen to be in the Aberdeen area ensure you grab a few. It must be said these do not come under the heading 'Healthy eating.' That particular joy is one Scots tend to forego! Add to this a smoking habit and an ability to down pints of beer only Danes and Germans can equal it comes as no surprise to find Scotland has one of the highest rates of heart disease in the world! Certainly people eat better now than a few years ago and smoking is on the decline, however to much emphasis on fatty foods and slovenly lifestyle still brings a sad end to far too many. That said if someone force feeds me a bag, or two, of Rowries I will let them! I recommend a visit to the 'EatScotland' site for a touristy glimpse of Scots nourishment, however I do not suggest a visit to the Aberdeen Mad site. You see while the tourist site is written to be understood by one and all the football site is written in a language known as 'Doric.' This is a form of English which is unreadable outside of the North East of Scotland. While our good friend Mike S, will be cognisant with it there is no chance you and I, normal folks, can understand half the words.



Last night I found I had finished the book I had been reading. I searched for a light, easy on the eye tome to take to bed with me. I would have searched for a twenty something blonde but the ASBO prevents this. However in spite of the books all around me I could find nothing to suit my mood! They were all too heavy, wrong subject, or caused me to think, and that is something I attempt to avoid these days. In the end I found myself reading a 'Somerfields' magazine, one of those free things they leave at the checkout for dumb blonde's to get inspiration from. What is happening to me? I put myself to sleep reading about 'Griller Thrillers' and vouchers for hairspray!

When does the football season start again?

Friday, 12 June 2009

Thursday, 11 June 2009

The Days of Not So long Ago!



Watching a poor actor, that's poor in acting ability not cash, I was intrigued by the need to actually dial a number on the round dial of the aged phone he was using. How long ago is it since we used such old fashioned equipment? Well, not very long ago actually! The speed at which life changes appears to get faster with each passing day. If you happen to be a youthful geek then it is possible to understand a small hand held device that not only males phone calls but acts like a computer, makes the tea and Hoovers the house. However if you have known something of life such devices are somewhat irritating, even when useful. I came here thirteen years ago from the centre of London, and London was quite pleased I can tell you! However I had to spend several minutes in a phone box, a big red thing designed in the thirties, call an almost helpful operator and demand a phone was installed in the pig-pen. This duly arrived, late, and as far as I can recall it was a proper white phone with a dial. You never see them now! Today there is a generation to whom the phrase 'Press Button 'B' and get your money back' is meaningless! OK, I realise you will all pretend you belong to this generation. In the days before decimalisation phone boxes collected (usually 4) old pennies for each call. There were two big buttons marked 'A' and 'B.' If the called number answered you pressed button 'A' and the money dropped in and your call went ahead. If there was no answer button 'B' was pressed and your four big coins dropped out into your hand. Today's generation (Including you) has no idea about such things. Nor do they appreciate the need to use the digit finger to choose a number on a dial and slowly, oh so slowly, turn the dial at each number to make a phone call. This lot just press a few buttons, or for the regulars on their phone, just press one from a list of names and the call goes ahead (today's generation always get answers from their fellow brats as they are always on the phone).

I remember the days when we could not afford telephones, they were for the middle classes, not us. However one distant aunt possessed a big black creature not unlike the one pictured. It had a distinct 'bell like' ring which you hear on old black and white British films of the fifties. The wire was always inclined to twist into a mess ensuring that answering the phone led to several minutes of fighting with the cord before conversation could take place. By the seventies almost everyone had one and the phone people began upgrading the service and have never stopped since! However it is only a few years ago I am talking about, not just the black phones of the fifties, but the red fancy ones of the nineties also - they have all disappeared! Life moves too fast for me!



I mean look at this beauty! I used to use one of them when working nights in the hospital. Small and quite easy to use when it was quiet but slightly complicated when flustered if busy. The real busy time was late at night when the nurses would phone home and say 'Good night darling' to their loved one, or early in the morning when the same lass called home and voiced 'WHERE ARE YOU, I WANT TO COME HOME, NOW!' Shortly afterwards he would arrive half dressed. These boxes opened in two parts, the hinge was on the left hand side. This produced the funniest moment as the engineer unfortunately opened the box and dropped the whole thing while attempting to service the beast. His language was somewhat unfortunate, and not helped by our convulsed laughing. The pictures come from this fascinating site, 'Telephones UK' Brilliant stuff!




Also bewildering to this spoilt generation (No I am not jealous) is the television with big round dials. These were useful in combating the 'couch potatoes' of the day as in 1957 the Independent television service was introduced. This gave competition to the BBC, until then the only TV channel in existence, and forced people to get up from their seat, cross the eight feet to the set, and turn the (difficult) dial to the other side. Usually there were cowboy films (always in black and white of course) on both at the same time of course, cowboy films which still appear far too regularly for my liking I can tell you, even today! At least it gave exercise, now all the exercise is for women. They exercise their tongues complaining men hog the 'remote.' This is not true, men just get rightly fed up with the meaningless pap which dominates the coverage and appears to be watched by women determined to obtain Alzheimer's earlier than they should. But again it was a dial, now we press a button, if we can get the remote, and if the battery has not died. Colour TV only arrived here in the seventies, and half the nation, if not more, cannot understand watching black and white telly. Yet I was using one until 1989!

These are small things, but they were items in use just yesterday.
I wonder what we will use tomorrow.....?

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Fuzzy Dice




As I pointed out on the comments the readers of these scribblings are folk of a high intelligence level. (FishHawk posts here also by the way) Add to this a few friends, yes I do have them although heaven knows how they remain friends with me, and one of them revealed his intellectual capacities this morning. The postman arrived early, and girns somewhat when I refer to her as 'postman,' and proffered a small, unexpected, packet. Smiling sweetly she appeared to be giving me the 'glad eye' but then kicked my shins and left me pondering the handwriting on the address. The constant use of e-mail means few addressed items arrive through the dirt covered hands of my postie and this leaves the opportunity to recognise handwriting, especially legible handwriting, as rare. I rushed up stairs as fast as my knobbly knees, and new bruise, would allow, and ripped the brown paper from the packet like it was Christmas morn.
Inside my eagle eye beheld a pair of 'Fuzzy Dice!'

I must make clear for the Johnny foreigner types among my limited readership, (that's limited in numbers not 'limited' in anything else my lawyer insists I should make clear) that this has special reference regarding where I live. I now reside in Essex a county with a reputation all of its own. During the eighties when Maggie Thatcher was destroying all the good and throwing thousands out of work while shovelling huge sums of money into her friends hands the term 'Essex Boy,' or indeed 'Essex Girl' took on new meanings. Their particular, noticeable, accent, the 'Essex Boys' amazing ability to attract money towards himself, and his fascination with the Ford Capri car (complete with 'his and her' names on the top of the windscreen, usually 'Tracy' or 'Sharon' over the passenger side and 'Dave' over the drivers) a fascination topped with the ever present 'Fuzzy Dice' dangling like his morals in a position designed to block his view. Therefore when I opened the packet this morning I laughed out loud, and still do when I think of this! 'Essex Girls,' on the other hand were never renown for their intellect, they tended to become 'Jordan' or 'Kate Moss,' or are they one and the same? I can never tell. The jokes about them abounded. However the only one I can remember is, "How can you tell when an Essex girl has an orgasm? She drops her kebab!" Today those women are the mothers of all the 'Chavs' the nation has produced. One day they will work out who the fathers are.

Must go, I have to look for a Ford Capri going cheap. (That's cheap, as in price, not cheep as in er, 'cheep,' by the way....)

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Changing the World


Unearthed Outdoors True Marble Imagery

I want to change the world. I have attempted this in many ways, charity work, helping old ladies across the road, forgiving enemies, being nice. The charity work revealed that human beings are nasty sorts of people. They take and take and then ask for more! Charity work without understanding the corruptness of human nature is foolhardy. I kind of expected folk to say thanks and appreciate what was done for them, this did not always happen! Making allowances for those whose mentality hindered them there were a great many who played the system and took all they could. Some said thanks and were grateful, many did not. Forgiving enemies is a good step forward, especially if they do not realise that they are enemies, however this is not always easy, especially when you have to do it constantly. Helping old ladies over the road is always good, but not if they wanted to stay where they were. Being nice is good, but women are suspicious and trust you less than when you are just being yourself. Saying 'Good morning' often leaves the bitch wondering "What does he want?" or "My hair is out of place," sometimes,"He wants me." The latter producing one of two options. If she is happy about this she will not let go, find out she has misunderstood and blame you! Or if she is not happy she will turn icy cold and hate you deeply. So I always remain passive and simply say "Morning bitch" as this saves a lot of hassle and wasted time as she searches her emotions to work out what "Good morning" actually meant.

The world does need help. Natural disasters brings out the best in people, money is donated, help offered by governments, and lives improved, usually. Sick folks abound, and we are often among them. The good sense of the Labour Party in 1945, with the consent of the people, gave us the marvellous NHS! Their greatest achievement! I spent several years there and saw many helped with serious and minor problems, and sometimes dealing with the dead. Of course had I actually gone on to become a nurse, an idea I once toyed with concerning changing the world I would have been dealing with many more dead and several years imprisonment! People were often grateful for the help received, yet all we read in the press are complaints and failings! In other places the health service can be limited and many do good work among the sick in outlying poor areas.

Hunger in many places causes suffering and we could take a Malthusian attitude if we were hard hearted enough. However consider this, while a TV programme, that still runs, gave us the delight of several people sit round a dinner table and discuss the meal created for them. While this programme was on air thirty seven countries had food riots! 37! Bread had doubled in price, rice was in short supply also, and the poorest suffered most! While the middle classes stuffed themselves on telly. My stomach and my fat belly made me sick at the time also! It still does!

Sick folk, hungry folk, badly housed, or badly clothed, drinking polluted water and in crime ridden areas. This is world wide and you can tell there is much to change in this world. Here in the rich west there are problems caused by wealth. Greed is never satisfied, those who have always want more, not to share with those who have not. What are you pointing your finger at me for? While some struggle even here we have deeper 'spiritual' problems, although that may be the wrong word. Moral laxity, indiscipline amongst many of the young, the meaning of life hidden behind tabloid newspapers, mind sapping television and kebabs and takeaways, and a live for today attitude, for tomorrow we die, although we don't like to think about death! The Victorians made death an example of class status and fashion, we ignore it, although when it happens we then consider - just for a moment.

I used to want to sit down beside folk, listen to their tales of woe, and help them through it, but now I do nothing. I have no spare cash to feed the hungry, and that annoys me, I have no energy or ability to help those in need around me. Old wifeys attempting to cross the road can search for a bot scout, and those lacking purpose who annoy me may find me armed with a Kalashnikov if I can find one. In my mind I still want to change the world. Cynicism, selfish people, my failings and inabilities, the attitudes of the moment all get up my nose somehow. I knew what to do once. I still know what to do! But I don't do it, all too often don't care, and if I tried the world would slap me down with political correctness, health & safety regulations, or just selfishness and abuse.

Am I a touch cynical tonight, or could it be the thing that always need changing is not the world around us, but the self, me, inside? Hmmmm, yes I am afraid it's not the world that needs changing, it's me!

Monday, 8 June 2009

No Post Today!



No post today, no bills, no junk, no final demands, no nothing!
This is very disappointing! There is nothing worse than no mail thudding onto your carpet early in the morning. There is nothing better (OK, I lie!) than an exciting letter containing good news of one sort or another making the world appear a better place. I realise, and how, that in the UK 70% of the bulging postbag that wears down the postman's shoulder, and his morale, is of course junk mail! Junk mail to a postie consists of the routine bills, adverts, charity bumf and bank statements that, while useful in some cases, can never be regarded as exciting.

Twice during my tenure as a postman I was informed a woman, always a woman, was on the phone asking why she had not had any mail for three or four days. On both occasions I took a perverse delight in informing the delightful office lass that there was a reason for this, no one liked her! "She has no mail because no one wants to write to her," I said somewhat sarcastically. "The gas board don't send her a bill, neither does the electric people, and charity adverts avoid her like the plague they wish to cure in an African backwater." I considered her situation, checked the frame, now overflowing with post I had to deliver in spite of my condition, "Aaaand she is getting NOTHING today again! Not even junk mail as I will with hold it!"

You see both women were suspicious that the postman was eating their mail. None had arrived for a few days and clearly the postman was putting it through another door, stealing the cash included in birthday cards, and chucking what was left in the nearest skip! It never crossed their heads that not one person junk or otherwise was attempting to contact them. it was the posties fault, it always is. Funnily enough when I get no post for a few days I begin t wonder what is going on.

Now I confess to putting mail through the wrong door, it happens, and most folk are good enough to shove it back at you - sometimes in a full and frank manner! With between one or two thousand letters some days it is understandable that mistakes are made, but they shouldn't be! The best mistake was ringing a woman's doorbell as I needed a signature for a recorded letter, and then shoving it through the door at the same time! She understood my stupidity! I sometimes miss that job, it was fun, the folks were good and it gave me money as well as pains in the knee. Few of them miss me.

Letters get a welcome no other source of communication can equal. If it comes as a surprise all the better, and if it is sent to someone lonely, like an older person unable to get around much, it is sometimes the only event in their day. I know older folks deliberately send of for junk mail as it is something to look forward to each day! When I went south, in the days before cheap phones or mobiles, I was told send your mother a postcard every so often. She will think you care and be happy knowing you are all right. Also there is not much you can say, and what you have been doing is not what she wants to hear anyway! This is still a cheap and effective way to keep in touch. However I knew one lass who sent her mother an eight or more page letter every week, and received the same in reply! What on earth was there to say? Women amaze me sometimes.

The letter box, one of thousands around the country, has the letters GR on the front. It is the habit to place the sovereigns initials there to indicate this is 'Royal Mail.' Whether the present queen ever actually delivers any herself I cannot say. I suppose that is a state secret. In 1953 the arrogant English naturally welcomed Lizzy to the throne by placing ERII on the front of the box and on all the vans etc. Typically they erected one of these in Edinburgh and pretended it was OK. Now it doesn't take a genius to realise that Scotland, unlike the oppressive English, has never had an 'Elizabeth' as queen. Therefore offence, and action, was taken. The 'Scottish Patriots,' a group determined Scotland should be recognised for what it is, shoved a stick ( a small one) of gelignite inside the box and blew it up. Naturally this was done without upsetting anyone, Craigmiller was a newly built area then and warnings were issued. However the police could not find anyone responsible for this act. This it must be said was long before IRA violence became popular, and no 'terrorism' as seen today was ever a threat. From that moment on all Royal Mail items in Scotland bore the crest ER, without the II. Quite right too!

May something nice drop through your letterbox in the morning!


Sunday, 7 June 2009

Sunday Evening



Sunday evening and the jacket I wore this morning when taking my morning constitutional has almost dried out. Just what kind of weatherman waits until I am out there wandering about early in the morning to turn on the taps! A few spots of rain I can endure, but bouncing off the roadway? It's a disgrace! I would write to my MP but he is busy negotiating with some foreign banker at the moment. Now of course there is not a cloud to be seen in the sky. A deep blue after the sun has descended behind the trees over to the west (I once saw the sun go down over the sea. There was a terrible hissing and billowing of steam on the horizon as it did so.) yet the light has not yet faded. How I love this time of year, when I can see it through the clouds, the long days, short nights and abundant flowering plant life. Lovely!