The temperature rises to just above 'bloody cold,' to 'Crivvens, Help ma Boab!' and we spend a day totally immersed in dull gray mist. Another sign that Spring is on its way! With the atmosphere being as it is, my inability to change the weather to my way of thinking showing through, I decided to flounder all day. Some rude and needlessly cynical folk have suggested, and you will not believe this, they have suggested I 'flounder' a bit too much. Had this not been true I may well have been cut to the quick, but as it is I am merely 'nursing my wrath to keep it warm!' I exercised the weakened body, the bug, the lack of vegetables, too much chocolate and nans making it weak this er.. week. This stroll through the heart of the town indicated the majority of the citizenry were hiding indoors, those not queuing at the Argos counter that is, or visiting those family members who they had hoped to ignore but could put off no longer. The market surprisingly had several stalls working, either they were bored, desperate for cash, or wishing to avoid mother-in-laws. None were worth visiting so no change there! The supermarkets were busy however, the car parks full and the dagger filled eyes as folks fought for the better parking spaces glowered everywhere. Happy Christmas to you also! Now I sit with my feet on the radiator, discovering how depressing scouring the job sites can be, and now awaiting tonight's football. How exciting my life is, are you jealous yet?
Today's thought to remember:- There's room on this earth for all of God's creatures.... Right next to the mashed potatoes.
Early yesterday morning, having breakfasted on Nan bread left over from Christmas Day, I slithered my way to Tesco’s on the icy pavements to check out the Microwaves. My aged and somewhat foul machine is falling apart from the inside and desperately required replacing. I noted the prices and observed the cheapest at £32.95 for a basic machine of 700 watts, or 'D' capacity, enough to meet my needs. I headed for Argos and here I purchased, for a couple of pounds less than the Tesco’s price, the same machine under a different name. The last time I ventured into Argos I waited so long I was tempted to lie on the counter and play dead! In the store behind headless chickens ran about while a queue stood expectantly as the disembodied voice cheerily announced "Number two hundred and seventy five to your collection point please," all the while ignoring the fact that number sixty eight was still waiting! The lass at the till that day noticed the people waiting to be served by her, she also noticed those awaiting delivery of their items, which appeared regularly as a headless chicken dumped them on the shelf, and she took immediate action, she disappeared! This time a bright young thing took my money, almost immediately, another stamped the ticket and off I went, within minutes! Wow!
I carried this brute home, a huge distance for one as fit as I, walking on the cleared road to avoid the ice bound pavements. The next few hours were spent struggling to get it out of the box and removing the old one. I then tested the thing with a cup of water. It worked! Hooray! I noted some condensation on the front glass but this appeared to have no effect so placing a bowl of Flanders Soup' inside it ran happily for ten minutes. Shortly thereafter I then placed the small Xmas pudding inside, switched it on and Phut! It said, and died! Ten minutes worth and the guarantee was for a full year! Later I realised, as I ought to have done immediately, that the glass ought not to contain condensation as electric machines do not require it. I later repacked the brute and staggered back to Argos wondering why the thing was heavier once repacked than it had been carrying it home? I dumped it on the counter ans wheezed my complaint only to be told to take it "over there." I left it and wandered 'over there' noticing the lassie had brought the box round for me, smirking at my lying on the floor on all fours attempting to get my breath back. The bright young lass (where do they all come from, they appear to be missing in such shops usually) convinced me to choose a different version. This in fact turned out to be a cheaper version in stainless steel (we shall soon see how stainless this remains) looks much better! £27.95 I ended up paying, having £2 whole pounds given back to me! Hooray! Once again carrying the thing home was lighter than taking the other back. Why?
Naturally as I woke this morning I ached all over. Muscles that are usually 'resting' do not like Lactic acid or whatever it is running around inside them. I tend to agree with them at the moment. Why me? Why can I never buy things in a straight forward manner? It's just a good thing that I am not one of those miserable people that complain a lot, for if I did folks would here about it I am sure.
Top Gear, that excellent BBC programme, took it upon themselves to attempt to recreate the journey of the Magi (that's the three wise men to you) from the East to Bethlehem. It is fair to say that this programme was as biblically accurate as much of the Church of England's preaching, so that gives an indication of how far from known facts they were! However it was once again a programme worth watching. The fear of being shot in Iraq was somewhat exaggerated but an excuse to run around in a fast car chased by a helicopter was typical Clarkson. However the plane failing to land and going round again was a delight to watch. The problems on such trips are always magnified, although James banging his head and being rendered unconscious was not planned, and if nothing else I enjoyed a view of the countries they passed through that is not often given by news coverage. James's bang on the head was worrying for a while, but not as much as three men dressed in Burqas driving into Damascus. Why they were not shot as suspected suicide bombers I cannot tell. Some may well have decided Clarkson was being rude while imitating a cut down Jesus at the Sea of Galilee but I don't. Nor did the final ending upset as I burst out laughing in a way I haven't for some time. This was the usual 'Top Gear' send up, funny and cheeky but not offensive, quite unusual for Clarkson right enough! Possibly you will be able to access the BBC IP site and find the programme 'The Three Wise Men.' It's worth a look!
Boxing Day brings it's own problems, and I don't mean transporting the kids to aunts and grannies to collect more gifts. I mean standing on the weighing machine and wondering why the spring flew out, I mean looking at the collection of dishes filling the sink and wondering why there were so many as, in my case I ate only once and alone! How come that tin of 'Quality Street' looks half empty when it was full to the top last night? How can I feel that tired when I finished off the apple tart this afternoon, was there too much left over custard on it perhaps? I suppose this is a result of eating in a considerate manner all year and foolishly letting myself eat slightly more than normal over two days. It is not often I sit wondering why the TV is so poor at nights but find it difficult to get up and switch it off (oh where is that remote?). I did manage to wander across to the church opposite this morning, that's almost 150 yards you know, and then slither my way back home again. Walking on hardened ice is quite tiring and I suspect that walk is why I am tired, not the nan bread and chocs I ate for breakfast. Ah well, back to the routine tomorrow, after I finish of that tin of chocolates as no-one else has come to eat them......
Ah Christmas eve. Little kiddies staring out of the frozen windows searching the sky looking for a fat man on a sledge, and this pulled by reindeer! People travelling home, often late at night, by road, rail and hitching a lift. That is unless they are trapped in the terminus or on a main road by weather or delay of course. Cards fill houses, often from people long forgotten, portraying robins in snow, Victorian scenes depicting happy people (yet missing out the rickets, hunger and workhouses. What makes a Victorian Christmas special anyway?), others favour three men on camels pointing to a star in the sky, three men each with a vacuum flask of coffee and a pack of sandwiches for their long dangerous journey at that! Some portray a child newly born in a little wooden stable, a golden glow around his head, while shepherds, western looking at that, bow before him. Hollywood has a lot to answer for! Ah Christmas eve, a time of 'magical' experience according to brainless blonde bimbos that bounce across the telly each year. For these women it should be 'magical,' they record the programme in May and she is paid well enough to afford Christmas! Repeats of old comedy on TV as the new stuff is not funny enough, films of varying worth take up the space broadcasters have not got the brains to fill properly and News men forced to work over a quiet period hope for a major disaster to fill time otherwise they remain well paid for being bored out of their minds for three days.
Everybody is happy on Christmas eve! Well dad is still peeved. The middle class female head teacher would not let him take pictures of the lassie at the Nativity play, just in case he was a paedophile! Dad's answer to this, along with several other dad's, contained little suitable for Christmas broadcasting. Mum is peeved because she is the only one who can wrap presents properly, she says, and she has to do 'everything' because he can't do anything properly. He ignores this rant as most men know that what 'has' to be done does not really have to be done anyway. Shop staff look forwards to the crowds easing so they can head for the pub to rest their feet and join those who have already left work long before to worship in Hogarthian revelry the birth of the saviour who came for them.
Ah yes him. Born in a cave most likely, not a wooden stable, smelly shepherds, the lowest of the low in society of the day alongside the Magi did worship in his crowded stable. No glow around any of them, especially Mary who may well have been exhausted, you know how women fuss over such things, and she may well have been only fourteen or fifteen years of age. (Don't tell the headteachers for crying out loud! They will blame Joseph!) The arrival of the Magi and their large following would certainly surprise the folks there, as they did Herod! One thing Herod was keen on was to keep his position, kings tend to be like that don't they? His reaction of killing a dozen or more toddlers would surprise none in those days, and few would write about it even if they were able to write. Such murders occur in the Sudan and the Congo today and we never notice or care, why should anyone then? The Magi's understanding of the 'star,' possibly a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, may well have satisfied them and off they would go, leaving the folks puzzled but a wee bit wealthier.
Was this really God in human form? Did God really come to earth among the lowest of the low? If he did, and if he died for us some thirty years later we need to understand why, and what to do about this great event. Victorian cards, robins sitting on snow covered branches and piss up's in pubs and their after effects do not tell us much about Christmas. This is merely a midwinter festival as we look to the shorter nights and the coming of Spring glorious Spring! Jesus himself was wise enough to arrive in the much warmer April or possibly June. No fool he! The anti climax that follows our Christmas's may possibly be lessened if we saw Christmas for what it really is rather than what the commercial world would have us believe. There is more to life than entertaining pantomimes, watching the kids open their gifts, good though that is, and a 'magical' but cold winter festival. There is something greater we should grasp.
It was as I strolled on the white sand, hand in hand with a brunette beauty, glancing at the turquoise beach and the blue sky as we walked, and enjoying the warm sun settling on my back that the alarm went off and I flowed quickly from being Robinson Crusoe to became Nanook of the North! Divesting myself of my dingy army blankets I dressed in my dingy clothes and nourished by a cheap nan and cheaper coffee headed once more into the day. (That's nan as in bread nan as opposed to nan as in Grannie by the way!) To Tesco I slipped and slithered on the icy pavements cheerfully ignored by the council gritters. My intention was to grasp if I could those items forgotten yesterday. My awful forgetfulness is a problem these days and once more this let me down. Today I forgot to take the chainsaw with me, I find it enables me to pass through the masses to the checkout much easier! However after a mere short and very uncomfortable lifetime I was free once more to slip on the ice outside, fall flat on my face and return home without the Cayenne Pepper I went for. I really desperately require this as it puts life into my cooking! Bah Humbug I say! Drat, I forgot the Humbugs also! More Bah!
Ah but it's great to be alive! The sun may be hidden by clouds, the pavements ice covered, money flowing like water from the wallet (not here mate!), and all around miserable faces greet the weary traveller, but we are alive! The robins still sing in the bushes, the stomach has more than enough grub inside, the PC brings good people to your heart, and we are still healthy enough to enjoy walking through the park, breathing the air, and observing the world around us! Ignore all the bad things, we think about them too much. Concentrate your energies on the things you like, the people you love, indulge what makes you laugh, what builds up and does not knock down (chainsaws exempted) and determine to enjoy your world in spite of everything!
Yesterday as I fought my way through the hordes of women gouging the eyes from one another in the shops I became aware of the 'Christmas Spirit!' Trolleys barging into one another, men meandering around hopelessly lost, separated from the one who knew what she was doing, desperate girls looking for exactly the right item for Christmas dinner, you know the item, the one they have run out off, yes that one, and swarms of miserable gits seeking to bring joy to one another. One Sainsburys lass was surprised that I was happy to join in her merriment, "They are all so miserable," she said in a surprised tone. "It's Christmas," I replied,"Goodwill to all men etc." We pondered the human species at this happy time and were not overjoyed with our findings. However I continued to search for a Madras Curry for my Christmas dinner and waded into the cheerful throng. My joy was complete at the checkout when two aged crones rushed for the empty space behind me, playing dodgems with their trolleys. Almost 150 years Christmas experience between these two and 'thinking others better than ourselves' was not one of the lessons they have learned in that time. What joy to think the respectable behave just like the neds in our society, what joy to consider that this is our human frame. There again, that is the reason Jesus came into the world, to stand in our stead. It's a good job he knows how bad we really are, because we sure don't see it ourselves.
Today is my favourite day of the year! That is because today is the shortest day off the year and from this moment on the nights grow shorter and the days grow longer. How good is that! Quite how folks cope in those parts of Scandinavia that suffer six months of darkness I do not really understand. Depression and alcohol abuse is widely reported, and no wonder! It is bad enough wandering about wearing a hat with horns sticking out of it (something the Vikings never did) but to do this in the dark must be wearing I'd say. The six months of never ending daylight would be a wow however and must make for a more tranquil mind. Yeah, okay it didn't do much for the Vikings but they were worried about being unable to plant crops in their hard ground and that sort of thing upsets a farmer doesn't it? Just imagine it, sunlight all day and everyday! Wonderful! This would lighten the mind, remove depressions and enable even the worst farmer to dig his cabbages out of the ground!
Time and Date explain in simple terms, which my readers require, why the solstice occurs. The tilting of the earth, the sun moving around to annoy us, especially me, and such like. Very interesting indeed. Naturally many of the trendies will be hanging around places like Stonehenge, if the snow allows them through, to pretend they care about this. Large groups of ageing hippy's (or is that hippies?), gray haired middle class women desperate to fill the empty gap in their life, 'Guardian' readers believing they are holding back global warming and making a real impact on the earth will be everywhere wasting their time at dawn this morning gathering mistletoe with golden scythes and murmuring prayers to the pagan gods and suffering frostbite for their pains.
It says something about the human condition that we seek solace in that which is beyond us, something greater than 'Sickly Come Dancing,' or another of Simon Cowell's money making schemes (no jealousy here!). Events around us like earthquakes and eclipses would worry men of old, but with today's supposedly educated people we still find ourselves asking questions. Some use them for their esoteric purposes (I used to know 'eric' quite well) and others take a more sanguine approach, "Pass the brandy luv." Only the existence of God can answer such questions, but even at Christmas folks look in the wrong place. Whatever I, unlike my niece, who is well old enough to know better, I did not rise at dawn to watch the red eclipse this morning, oh no. I remained lost in my dream world under the somewhat ageing army ex-blankets as per usual. It is the days I like not nights, sunshine, blue skies and warmth. When I win the lottery that is what I will acquire, by moving to Cyprus or Malta or some such place. I doubt they suffer much from dark nights.
Wonderful use of snow is to keep folks indoors. So few people about the streets today. So few cars churning the stuff into slush that until late the streets were merely dangerous, and not dangerous and messy! Wonderful chance to take pics, and many who did venture out were doing just that.
Pictures in cemeteries are enhanced by the snow. I must state that I did however have permission from the various bodies concerned. I followed the tracks of what I think was a fox that had made its way through here after the snow had ceased. I often used to notice them when a postman, one would cross my path as I went to work at 4:30. This may be him still or one of his offspring. He managed to follow the path under five or so inches of snow better than I. I kept standing in holes and toppling over.
Bit of a change from last night and lovely sunsets! Just after two this afternoon it began to snow, and by five it was about three inches thick! The traffic has slowed to ten miles an hour, tonight almost nobody moves around, and I successfully discovered how to get the 'Night' mode work on my little camera. Now that I call success. The fact that the amber light has come out a strong yellow is irrelevant. In spite of my dislike, nay hate, of horrid snow I really enjoyed walking alone across the park with the snow and cloud giving a delightful light all around. The cold, the accidents, the people stuck on major roads nationwide mean little when a fall of snow makes the world a different and delightful place. Tomorrow I will attempt pictures of the snow covered world in daylight, and by Monday I will be heartily sick of it all in a more normal manner!
I suppose you all noticed that the Heart of Midlothian drew with the ever improving, defensive minded and hot on the break, Inverness Caledonian Thistle. A one all draw is sufficient especially when the side worked so hard to win the game in difficult circumstances. Third place and with rival clubs gathering many postponed games to make their lives difficult in the next few weeks we can sit back happily and enjoy their suffering. By the way, Hibs got beat, and Lee Miller got sent off and may well miss the Ne'erday Derby. Shame that!
Wandering along past the old gasworks, head bowed as I searched the gutter for dropped coins, I happened to look up as I crossed the road just in time to miss the dentist delivery service van as she cornered while on the phone and eating her lunch. I was nearly blinded by the low setting sun, and it was only twenty past three! It shone Mediterranean like over the old gas container and reflected of the dodgy computer repair shop. It was lovely to see, although of course I couldn't see anything having been blinded by the glare. It takes ages to get rid of that little blue blob in the eye doesn't it? As I came round by the playing fields, tripping over the cheerful faced dogs allowed to run dangerously loose by their gossiping owners, female of course, I could see high above the pink layer on the clouds, and through the gap in the hedge got this shot. The colours are not quite what the eye sees of course, sometimes they are better, sometimes not so, however this occasion leaves me quite happy with the result. I reckon one of the easiest ways to get a good picture is the sunrise or sunset. No matter what rubbish is around you it is enlivened or, as here, blacked out for the most part by the light. Brilliant help!
This time next week the great anti-climax of Christmas will be upon us. Many will be without goods as the weather hinders parcel deliveries and that ought to make us wonder just what Christmas is about. But I doubt it. Instead disappointment and anger, blame and buck passing will result. Certainly many will have their good time spoiled and that is rather sad. However most will be enabled to make the most of it. Those able to get around will have the joy of crowd filled shops to waste their money in. What a joy that is? Today I was struck by the women slowly gathering in the needful's while a retired husband, totally out of his depth and lost in an alien world, obediently pushed the trolley. I was my usual helpful self to such men, I have become this way ever since the great 'chainsaw' incident in Somerfields. I doubt I will ever eat black pudding again after that!
Around a billion people were in Tesco's alone, and by alone I don't of course mean 'alone' as they often had people with them, so they were not 'alone' as such when I said 'alone.' I used the word al.... forget it. Anyway I went there to take advantage of my rewards voucher and naturally, while I perused the frozen oven chips, I realised I it was still lying here on the foul microwave! Bah! I could have been in the closer Sainsburys and now I was lumbered with all the heavy stuff to carry and nothing off to show for it! Bah Humbug! Finding the young lad at the checkout speaking in an almost polite manner I realised he was the new guy that obtained the position I was looking for! I assure you it was an accident when that vinegar jar fell over and broke across him, honest. I wandered out head held high in an effort to avoid the woman with a collection can for some local charity. I did wonder how many would give a few pence to her while paying £30-100 for their important buys. I also wondered how much of what is bought gets thrown away? Now that is something I rarely do as I hate wasting food, and have done so ever since learning about the million or so who will die today through malnutrition. I don't help them by this but it does at least seem the decent thing to do.
Once again the streets elsewhere are deep in snow. Once again no gritters can get through because the vehicles block the roads, and once again it is all someone's fault and they should resign! Hmmm Scotland lost one transport minister because the snow came, I suspect they will want to change another by Monday, not that there is anything more that can be done. My nephew was driving in it earlier today but got home OK having left as the snow was arriving and had it chasing him home. He drives a forty ton truck and some of those were getting stuck on the icy slopes and blocking all the traffic for miles around. I had the feeling he would be half way up an 'A'road somewhere, very comfortable, but bored. However I too am OK so no-one needs to worry about me, at least until the heating bills come in.....
I like 'Private Eye,' yet reading this copy I find myself somewhat depressed. While the cartoons and articles can satirise the world around us, and can be very funny when hitting nails on head, it also leaves me profoundly depressed with the state of the world and this nation in particular. Page after page show corruption, insider dealing, governments allowing themselves to be used by big business, the banks, or indeed anyone who has clout. Individuals in high places putting themselves before the people and, in short, the corruption of power! It is a disgrace the way this nation is run, and we have the cheek to complain about others?
Africa, we frequently are told, is owned by the politicians who put 90% of the cash into their own pockets. This may well be true, but it goes on here also. It always has and it always will! Integrity in public or business affairs is always to be doubted, even from those you know to be on the whole honest. For example, the Motherwell manager Craig Brown has moved camp to Aberdeen. Now he is blubbering that folks doubt his integrity during this move and threatening any who insist on questioning his motives. Hmmm sounds guilty to me. Had he notified his chairman, had Aberdeen done the same through politeness, then nothing would have been said. He was not on a contract and could walk away. A bit of openness and honesty would not have gone amiss. Iam afraid in my eyes he now has less integrity than McGhee, and he had none! He stayed in his job until he was sacked, long after he had given up making any effort. A bit of integrity may have led to a 'mutual agreement,' but money talks.
A glance through the latest 'Private Eye,' shows such lack of integrity everywhere. Vodafone, owing £6 billion in tax, come to an agreement, led by a Tory donor allegedly, to pay £1.25 billion instead. (welfare cost £5.5 billion said Cameron). Now it appears they don't have to pay up front but can stretch this out over years. This company also owes the Indians a similar amount, watch this space I say. Honesty is lacking in the media ("What, really?" you say.) with the press rehashing old stories and even publishing invented ones found on Wikipedia! However at an all partyCommons committee on the future of the Welsh language TV channel S4C it appears everyone who is in favour of the millions wasted on a channel nobody watches appears to be the ones working for or providing programmes for this channel. Integrity where art thou? We fond man of the people 'Dave' Cameron's party receiving donations from people who live in million pound houses and make their money out of bailiffwork, throwing the debtors onto the streets so the 'Daily Mail' can shout about their benefits. The Office of Fair Trading have had to step in on this company to hinder its manner of dealing with people. Does 'Dave' know I wonder? We find dirty dealings, which cost us, in the energy business, overpaid executives in the BBC talking about cutbacks, but not for them, high ups in the NHS holding dubious enquiries about Bristol hospitals in London and even more dubious goings on among town councillors.
As I read I get so depressed. While many people do show a great deal of integrity in the way they work or run their business it always appears that those at the top soon get corrupted into 'the ways of the world,' even if they start with good intentions. Having spent two years in the NHS offices I can tell you many care nothing for patients and just live to expand their empire, and wage! How many 'suits' are there increasing their salaries while reducing the number of staff? How many little deals are greased through 'legitimate' gifts I wonder? Reading this magazine I wished I had stood at the last local election. I have nothing to say to a Tory dominated group, but I could at least ingratiate myself with the developers, business folks, and those looking for a fast buck. It appears that is the way forward, everywhere!
How long has Clegg got? This man's desperate desire to sit on the government front bench has turned his party and himself into a laughing stock. Having become a lackey to the similarly desperate Cameron he has brought into power a Conservative government and happily thrown away all his 'beliefs' in the process. There have been more 'U' turns by the Lib-Dems in the house of commons than on a major road during the bad weather. While claiming much of the government policy as Lib-Dem in fact the parts that will be put through are entirely Conservative! All their ideas are falling by the wayside and will soon be forgotten. However he is sitting on the front bench, he has a position of 'power' and he is the one that matters not his party or the nation! Not any more! The latest failure, to force his backbenchers to support the government position on student tuition fees was a farce all round. Vince Cable, a Lib-Dem, forced to bring in a bill he did not like, almost refused to vote for it, did so because he had to, and looks as big a failure as his millionaire leader. What a shambles this lot are! How long for Clegg? How long therefore for Cameron, another rich kid desperate for high office and happy to lead an unelected, unwanted government? The worrying thing for us all concerns what happens when this absurd coalition falls apart. The opposition comprises a new inexperienced Labour Party with bumbling fools in charge and they have no policy, no idea, and I suspect no hope! The futures bright, but nothing appears very bright in the house of commons!
As I was standing at the window, harmlessly watching the girls in the park with my binoculars, I noticed a man standing on the pavement below. He then did a strange thing. He reached into his pocket and withdrew a silver cigarette case, selected one of the white killer sticks inside and placed this in his mouth. Replacing the case he then lit the cigarette and began to increase his lung cancer. Now I was shocked by this as I have not seen a silver cigarette case in use for a great many years. To be honest it was never likely in my family for anyone to have such an item, not counting my aunt, she worked for 'Jenners' (Where the rich shopped) and as such got good things on the cheap! We were only allowed in under guard. The rest of the family continued to dwell in poverty, a habit that remains with me today. During the days of my young childhood, which some suggest still endure, it was common to see folks taking cigarettes from those oblong packets of 'Capstan' or 'Senior Service.' I used to enjoy watching the smoke from my dad's cigarettes slowly curling and twisting into the air. Being told to "Clear off" because I was annoying, did not really compute. It couldn't as we did not have computers in those days did we? The sound of cancerous growths in my fathers lung I must say was not noticed at the time. Both film and TV stars continued to smoke well into the seventies, possibly even the eighties and in the days of black & white films many a director made use of the smoke to create atmosphere. This habit of smoking continued even though we were made aware of the dangers long before we left school in the mid sixties. The site of a lung preserved in an chemical did not stop us obnoxious brats wandering around coughing on our ''Cadets' or 'No 6' brands. It was an important part of adolescence to smoke 'Silk Cut' or some such as everybody else did, although our folks never knew of course. I was somewhat surprised when my dad asked if he could have one of my 'No 6' one day. "I don't have any," said I, "Yes you do they are in your top drawer." Never trust a father! I suspect today's youth know more about 'funny cigarettes' rather than 'Players.' Today China and those nations less aware of the dangers are recipients of heavy advertising by the tobacco companies. Such nations, China in particular, are now becoming aware of a huge rise in numbers of lung cancer victims, yet advertising and peoples ignorance continues. Why do we not ban this foul activity? I do not know? I suggest that we insist that those who smoke wear a black cowl and walk the streets ringing a small bell and crying "Unclean, unclean!" The banning of smoking in pubs and clubs, businesses and all places where humans gather has already benefited all of us.The air is healthier, clothes worn in public houses no longer reek of others smoke, and only the beer spilled leaves a mark, not counting the falling down stairs and abusing police officers 'student style' of course. The difference in attitudes over fifty years is amazing. Everyone smoked in times past, pipes, or cigars, then cigarettes became very popular during the Great War, given then to comfort the wounded and often advertised in the press as 'healthy!' Today it is the dumb minority that smoke, Nick Clegg smokes apparently, is this the time to mention this I wonder? It took so many years to realise how daft we were! There again today our streets are filled with the stour pumped out from the back end of oil guzzling motors and this is just as big a killer yet we are slow to develop a better system. The stupidity of the human knows no end.
Time for another steam engine picture I think. 'The Flying Scotsman' heads out on its journey to Edinburgh from London's Kings Cross station. What a thrill for the passengers, not only getting our of London but heading up to Edinburgh! How lucky can you be? Actually I am not sure this shot was taken at Kings Cross, it is some time since I took the journey and few today can afford the privatised prices anyway! From the 70's until the 90's I often took the train north. The best journey not being with the 'Flying Scotsman' but the 20:00 hours Aberdeen train that did not stop at Edinburgh. Actually it did, and arrived there at three in the morning. Even in the eighties they used old compartment coaches on that train, you know the type that only took eight people at a crunch? Few knew about this trip and I always had a dim compartment to myself. Now that was how to travel by train, as long as you didn't mind travelling at night. The best days of rail travel are behind me now. When rich I will buy a Rolls Royce, OK I will buy anything cheap that moves, and trundle around that way.
Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common
Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for
sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago
lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as
having cultivated such valuable lessons as:
- knowing when to come in out of the rain;
- why the early bird gets the worm;
- life isn't always fair;
- and maybe it was my fault.
Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).
His health began to deteriorate rapidly when
well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in
place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual
harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from
school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired
for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his
Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for
doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in
disciplining their unruly children.
It declined even further when schools were required to get
parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a
student; but could not inform parents when a student became
pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.
Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became
businesses; and criminals received better treatment than
Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend
yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar
could sue you for assault.
Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman
failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She
spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge
Common Sense was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth
and Trust, by his wife, Discretion, by his daughter,
Responsibility, and by his son, Reason.
He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers;
I Know My Rights
I Want It Now
Someone Else Is To Blame
I'm A Victim
Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was
gone. If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join
the majority and do nothing.
The cold has frozen my brain. Some would say they cannot tell the difference but I can. While the snow has disappeared for the most part around here the temperature is still low. As I sit here wrapped in my gray ex-army blankets, they were white when I obtained them, wearing out my toes on the remnants of heat coming from the heater, and listening to cheery wee girls informing us with happy smiles that it will not get much better soon I begin to dream of sun kissed South Sea Islands. The chances of my lard filled bulk ever lying on one of those white beaches next to turquoise seas is slight, but I will dream on just the same.
No pictures today although the sun did shine brightly at times. There was a wonderful cloud display as the suns rays shone through the gray layers as the sun dipped late this afternoon but I could not find a suitable spot to get the snap. Most annoying. Absolutely NOTHING else has happened! The list of things to do has several items crossed off, but I canny mind doing them, maybe it's yesterdays list?
Anyway, for those who have not come across this, here is something that MUST have originated with a female mind......
Jesus was a woman. Because:
1. He fed a crowd at a moment's notice when there was virtually no food.
2. He kept trying to get a message across to a bunch of men who just didn't get it.
3. And even when He was dead, He had to get up because there was still work to do.
So in spite of their natural inbuilt arrogance and demands that the World Cup should, in their words, 'Come Home,' England have failed in their bid to obtain the World Cup after all. Now the papers are full of cries of 'Unfair,' 'What did Putin promise,' 'They promised to vote and din't,'and 'Quatar? I thought that was an airline?' In short they feel cheated and questions are being asked about the organisation of FIFA. Imagine, FIFA being disorganised and full of cheats who break their promises? Who would have thunk it....?
There is no doubt the organisation of football associations world wide is poor. Full of yes men and 'suits' who can emit different lies with all four faces at the same time, and who's concern for the football fan is such that on occasion they have been known to answer letters addressed to them albeit with not actually saying anything within the answer! To expect the offer of a multi million pound World Cup deal, bringing foreign tourists by the thousand, huge advertising offerings, bucksheesh by the bucket-load and a vast advert for your nation, it must be expected that nations will play dirty. Such dirt can only be helped by the secret dealings on offer from FIFA itself. This group of men (Who? How many? Why?) from the four corners of the world are in an enviable position. Whatever deal is done we can never find information regarding it, unless Wikileaks steps in. Backroom deals remain hidden and far too many are known, sorry suspected of involvement in dubious practices already. Panorama recently a programme concerning three members of this committee and their involvement in alleged corrupt practices, Jack Warner, who may one day become president of this organisation, gave tickets to his son who made money from them some years ago it is alleged, and now Russia, with no infrastructure in place, has been given the World Cup! This nation, a dictatorship under Putin with Mafia connections throughout, has been deemed acceptable to FIFA? Was it roubles or Kalashnikovs we are right in asking here? On top of all this the voting is secret and lesser folks, the fans, are rarely allowed to know who votes for who. This surely is wrong? One man did admit, very proudly, which way he had voted some time back, the New Zealand member voted on behalf of the Oceania group and voted for Germany to hold the World Cup in spite of being ordered to vote for South Africa. He refused and gave his casting vote to the Germans as he "Did not wish to see a black nation holding the World Cup." As he was retiring from his post he cared little for anyone and departed with a smug smile on his face. His action almost ensured South Africa was to obtain the Cup in 2010.
Was there corruption in this years bidding? Russia has money and Mafia, Quatar has billions and also no infrastructure. It does have strict Sharia Law which will find Scotsmen drinking and revealing themselves at midday in city centres a new situation to deal with! If the Danes and Irish, Germans, Brazilians and Argies also arrive in numbers it will be an interesting time for the Islamists there! Whether the best decision has been reached is debatable, England certainly could, and I think should, have won, however at least this may lead to changes in the organisation of FIFA, if we bribe them enough!
The Sun managed one of their subtle headlines today concerning the allocation of the World Cup:-
"FIFA BUNGS RUSSIA THE WORLD CUP!"
I suppose it is worth mentioning that cheating, dishonest practice and dubious shenanigans is not and cannot be the 'British' (and I mean 'English') way!
Did I mention however that when England were awarded the World Cup in 1966 Englishman Sir Stanley Rous was President of FIFA! He had taken over from Arthur Drewery, another Englishman! Phew, at least these seasoned Football Association men were honest and cared only for the interest of the game! (Whether this includes England's semi final v Portugal being moved from Middlesbrough to Wembley is not known however?) There would have been no 'bungs' in those days for these well paid individuals!
Snow has come to the UK once again and as always it causes chaos everywhere. Snow piles up in drifts at the sides of the roads, side streets are blocked and gritter lorries never go down there, railway line at times become blocked when the points freeze, and this year the Forth Road Bridge has been closed because of the snow for the first time since its opening in 1964. Cries of woe and shock are heard everywhere, except from the kids who avoid school for a week, business it hit as workers stay at home, shops are struggling, and some folks with little cash must be freezing like I am!
When weather like this hits us, and this is early snow and very much heavier than expected, we find ourselves asking why? Why can we not cope with the weather? Why are we not ready for this? Why is something not done? The answer is simple, money! The folks that demand lots of grit be put on the roads are the same ones in mild winter asking why so much grit needs to be stored? The failure of the railways due to the cold occurs on two or three days of the year, maybe a week at the most, and to keep on standby all year round sufficient material to ensure the trains run would cost so much there would be questions asked in parliament. There are those that mutter about Germany and Sweden coping better than us in such a winter forgetting that in those lands winter is deeper, longer, and far harsher than our short week or two. They can then spend the cash and prepare properly for the conditions. If the UK was to do this questions would be asked by all the screaming tabloids about the financial waste, and suggestions made as to how such money could be better spent! The hypocrisy is overwhelming in such papers!
This weather has been severe, especially in the north, but the southern softies have been hit quite badly also. Coming to us from an easterly direction, starting from the Arctic circle and arriving via Siberia, Germany, the North Sea it make land on the coats and travels right up the trouser leg with a ferocity known only to those who have stood on the terracing at Gayfield Stadium, Arbroath, in February! It does the individual no good I tell ye! It will last a few days more, and already the Scottish football weekend has been almost completely wiped out. The grounds may be fit but many roads are not,and while the main roads might be open folks cannot get out of the side roads to enter them! Soon however it will end, unlike in Sweden where it will continue until the end of March or April, and by this time next week all will be forgotten by most folks. The press will return to talking about 'that marriage' and the behaviour of cretinous famous folk, the world will continue to seek gratification via the Christmas shop, and energy company directors will sit with glasses of brandy and smug grins on their overfed faces. Normality will have returned.
A more serious question requires asking however. Could it be that weather patterns are indeed changing? Can it be that 'global warming' (look outside as you read that) is occurring? Can it be that the world is going through a change, and is it short term or longer? I first read about melting ice floes around about 1968! Scientists were claiming the Arctic was beginning to shrink, but nobody cared. Now, while huge areas of Greenland are being exposed some still claim there is no 'global warming,' I wonder why? Politicians, or lying scoundrels may be a better term, fight over such things irrespective of any damage that might ensue to the world around them. A long time ahead to a politician is next week or the next election and as long as his seat is safe that is all that matters. However whether the sun is cooling, or the earth shifting or the world about to come to an end and Jesus ready to leap through to us for a final time the fact remains that something is happening around us and most people walk about looking no further than the end of their nose. Our self, that most odious part of us, will sit and watch while the world burns, or it appears, freezes as in our case today.