Saturday, 31 December 2011

Hogmanay Again

Once again it is the last day of the year, Hogmanay!  The desperate need we all feel for a mid winter festival to encourage us to look toward the coming Spring is dealt with by the Scots by using Christmas as a religious festival and a time of giving to the kids, and by using the New Year celebration as a time for much drunkenness celebration .  Possibly this reflected the Calvinistic background that had much influence since the Reformation. The sober folks of the day were disinclined to encourage the observance of Christmas for a great many years.  Today things have changed, English domination of the media has encouraged many to use Christmas as an excuse for booze, and many in the south now pretend the New Year means something to them, although a Bacchanalian festivity is all that really matters to most. I first ventured out on such festivities along with my sister and her husband in the 60's. It was an enjoyable time had by all, wandering the streets from house to house, meeting good people and having a ball.  Today I am less interested and may well be asleep when the New Year arrives, and not because of the drink I must add.  I am not convinced that attitudes today are similar to those fun filled evenings. It seems to me there is a 'harder' edge to things today. 

The New Year of course does not begin until midnight and greetings are not exchanged before then, usually. However on the first chime of the clock greetings, kisses, and drinks are exchanged and the first footing follows on shortly after the year has begun. Celebrants will drag themselves to neighbours houses, carrying gifts, it used to be coal and Black Bun, the coal is less common today! Householders hope for a tall dark stranger to arrive on their doorstep, and I know quite a few women who would like that most days if truth be told but that is another thing, and welcomed guests are offered food and drink, mostly drink!  Such activities go on through the dawn, and often are repeated the next night.  The day after this few curtains are drawn back before noon. The New Year has been welcomed in, 'Auld Lang Syne' has been sung (badly), first footing has taken place, drink and food consumed, the Heart of Midlothian have defeated Hibernian again in the derby, and we face the new year hoping for good things, in reality knowing it will continue much the same as before. 

May your Hogmanay be a good one!


Thursday, 29 December 2011

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Nothing to Say, Again!

Boring day, felt too rough to go out, just as well the museum work was cancelled, so spent the day looking for my head while staring dumbly at the screen. The cough eases, it is merely deadly now, nothing has been done, and my head has been dimmed by the remnants of the Portuguese red!  While the sun shone at times here up north the wind is howling through Scotland and the north of Britain, this is playing havoc with the football and making life difficult for my team playing in the far north at Aberdeen, one of he coldest places on earth!  The Christmas week has an effect on everybody.  Some have run away to be with family, many have run away to avoid them!  Bloggers rarely post, or if the do many are limited by the need to attend to home affairs or seek affairs away from home, but that is something I hope they don't blog about! I feel sorry for those forced to work when the majority are skiving, for years I had to do the same, and it is nice to be off when everyone else is.  As I look around I see what is akin to the back of a dustbin lorry in this place. Some lazy good for nothing has not even bothered to hoover the floor, although I could eat of it, the amount of crumbs to be found there.  I may have to work tomorrow in any case, I need a clean plate eventually don't I?      

Look chaps, an answer to Mother in law's present worry  


Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Phil the Greek

Since marrying Liz, the one who would be queen, Phil has had his life turned upside down.  Clearly this couple liked one another but her role meant his Naval career would come to an end.  He was born into the Greek royal family in 1921, his mother gave birth on the kitchen table, but the family were forced to flee in the following troubled years. Enlisting in the navy in 1939 Philip served throughout the war in a variety of ships. His background may not have been the cause of his promotions as time past and he did receive a mention in dispatches at least once.  He served in the Mediterranean, the Pacific and off the coast of Britain, none of these postings could be called 'safe.' Incidentally his mother was deaf and used lip reading a lot.  This meant that while watching silent movies she would be laughing out loud at what the actors were actually saying as opposed to the part they were playing!  Phil found the role of consort very difficult.  he was indeed a man of action and must have despaired at role he was called into.  While head of the family he was of little importance royally, this however limited his actions and led to many problems in the early years, possibly the comments made while meeting people down the years are caused by this frustrating situation?  Here are some of his famous 'gaffes.'

Aboriginal leader William Brin, Queensland, 2002: “Do you still throw spears at each other?”

British student in China, 1986: “If you stay here much longer, you’ll go home with slitty eyes."

"Well, you'll never fly in it, you're too fat to be an astronaut." to a 13-year-old whilst visiting a space shuttle.

"People think there’s a rigid class system here, but dukes have even been known to marry chorus girls. Some have even married Americans.” 2000.

With Cayman Islanders: “Aren’t most of you descended from pirates?”

With a Scottish driving instructor, 1995: “How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to pass the test?”

When offered wine in Rome in 2000, he snapped: “I don’t care what kind it is, just get me a beer!”

At Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme, 2006. “Young people are the same as they always were. Just as ignorant.”

“I’d like to go to Russia very much, although the bastards murdered half my family.” 1967.

To Simon Kelner, republican editor of The Independent, at Windsor Castle reception: “What are you doing here?” “I was invited, sir.” Philip: “Well, you didn’t have to come.”

President of Nigeria, who was in national dress, 2003: “You look like you’re ready for bed!”

His description of Beijing, during a visit there in 1986: “Ghastly.”

To Atul Patel at reception for influential Indians, 2009: “There’s a lot of your family in tonight.”

On the Duke of York’s house, 1986: “It looks like a tart’s bedroom.”

At party in 2004: “Bugger the table plan, give me my dinner!”

With a woman solicitor, 1987: “I thought it was against the law for a woman to solicit.”

On the 1981 recession: “A few years ago, everybody was saying we must have more leisure, everyone’s working too much. Now everybody’s got more leisure time they’re complaining they’re unemployed. People don’t seem to make up their minds what they want.”

When accepting a figurine from a woman during a visit to Kenya he asked: "You are a woman aren't you?"

Duke of Edinburgh


Monday, 26 December 2011

Boxing Day

The bright Boxing Day sunshine tempted me out this morning, although I had no intention of boxing with anyone, certainly not after the last time, mind you she was a big girl, and I ventured into town in search of Honey!  This I, am assured, will ease the cough that never ceases, or so they say. I am willing to try anything to end this horror by now.  As expected most shops are shut but there is always one supermarket here which opens to prevent the citizens starving to death. The shops take turns in doing this, and this appears satisfactory to one and all, at least judging by the waist lines around me today.  The shops all shut on Christmas Day, all bar the Muslim corner shop, and their closure renders thousands of people bereft of necessities after the long 24 hour closure.  A grand trade was under way as I passed through with my Honey and it never crossed my mind that a billion go to bed hungry and around a million will starve to death today as I watched overweight folks (like me) scrambling for the bread reduced to 60p!  

The streets were slightly busier today, although the shops were mostly shut, and most folks still appear wrapped up in family doings or recovering thereof!  Yesterday few moved.  Any cars that passed early on in the day contained mostly folks dressed up heading to church or on their way to Grannies. Later several children on bright spotless scooters or bikes were tenderly attempting the skatepark and asking mum or dad where the 'Elastoplast' was kept!  Strangely enough only one or two drunks were heard, and at least two pubs, the rough ones, were open.  Major shopping centres had their crowds of course and the takings  from the 'Sales'may prevent  some of these closing down.  The recession bites hard so bargain hunting (for things we often don't need) goes on apace.

My tired an emotional mind has been entertained by watching feeble English football (all day), which is all my mind can take just now.  When will this virus leave?  I conked out today after the lunch of left over offal, and indeed it lived up to its name, and small pint glass of wine, I blame the bug.  My wonderful niece sent me a book!  'The Real Dad's Army.'  A diary made by a chap who served in the 'Home Guard' in Kent on the south coast, right in line of Hitlers attacks, during the second world war. My favourite niece who never gets a book choice wrong! Mind you now I think about it the last one she sent was a magazine annual, the magazine was called 'The Oldie,' and the one before that was based on the TV series 'Grumpy Old Men.'  maybe I ought to have a word....


Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas Eve

In spite of my condition, and the amazing lack of sympathetic gifts of brandy, I woke early this morning and headed for the horse meat shop to obtain my Christmas feast. Going early meant I got plenty of scrag ends plus I found one or two onions at the back of the fruit & veg stall in the market.  What with an old cabbage leaf or two I reckon this will be a better Christmas lunch than last years.  I also found gold! Yes GOLD!  At least one of those little round £1 coins which I instantly proffered in exchange for a winning lottery ticket.  I know this is a winning one as I asked for this and was given a smiling reassuarance from the lass behind the desk that "oh yes, this will be the winner.  Don't forget me when you win will you?" She smiled a knowing smile and I agreed I would indeed rememebr her.  I will send her a postcard from Guam that will please her!

However I returned home and  dumped my precious finds.  I decided that as the sun had appeared I would once more trawl the shops and streets looking for lost coins and foodstuffs.  I zipped my coat right up to my chin, tightened my cheap baseball cap on my head, thrust my hands deep in my empty pockets and bore the chilled air with little affection for it.  As I crossed the empty park I considered the young lass from Perth Daily Photo who was suffering a Christmas Day on the beach with heat reaching around 30 degrees.  What me, jealous?  You bet!  Heat, near naked women, ice creams and Christmas pudding?  Sounds OK to me.

For reasons unknown I took out my wallet.  As the moths slowly opened their eyes I realised the lottery ticket was not there!  Drat!  I must have dropped it earlier, possibly not putting it in the pocket correctly.  My dreams of fame and fortune faded.  I wandered back to the shop, gazed around the floor hoping to see it lying there, and found nothing but disapointment and dust.  I enquired somewhat embarrassed as to whether it had been handed in. Surpressing a grin the lass denied this had happened and I realised it had indeed been dropped there, handed over to her, and she now awaited my winnings! Grrrrrr!  

Back towards home I trundled, head down attempting to avoid wet patches getting into the hole in my shoe.  What an idiot, wasting money on a lottery ticket, and now despairing that it had got lost.  It crossed my mind that this was not a good attitude.  I had nothing, lost nothing but might have won something!  That 'might have' is where the temptation arises.  With odds of around 14 million to one it is unlikely a major win will arrive, but then again a large donation 'might!'  In my financial position that 'might' is powerful!  I passed throught he 'Dingley Dell' and noticed a Robin fluffed up against the cold sitting on a branch.  Not possible to get a picture as the brute was too far away, yet the words 'They do not worry or fret  and he feeds the birds of the air,' came to mind.  So why should I be concerned, or indeed even play the Lottery?

Back home again I found the ticket sitting on my desk where I left it as I came in earlier.


Thursday, 22 December 2011

Leith Sunrise

I had a fabulous post prepared in my head, where there is much room for thought, and as I was beginning to write I found a link to the Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea game, so it has to wait....
Instead here is a picture of Leith Sunrise taken by a very good friend and excellent photographer who has masses more such pictures that you really must look at!  You will be as impressed as I, and you have more discernment, so enjoy!   Day by Day Photos


Guardian Angel

Crossing the park for the first time this week I asked him about it, "So, where were you?"
"I was here all along."
"Were you? Were you here, while I suffered full blown 'Man Flu' and you did nothing about it?"
"I wouldn't say I did nothing about it, you did stock up on all essentials, Isobrofen, Conovia, food....." At that point I interrupted him, "I had to rush out early for bread and milk and failing lottery ticket on Wednesday, in spite of my condition" I sniveled.
"Yes, but you did need the air and you really didn't need the Lottery ticket did you? 'My God shall supply all your need' it says somewhere doesn't it?" He gave his smug smile and ducked as I sneezed loudly enough to frighten the pigeons from the tree they were settling into.
"Not that one no!" I muttered through a much deepened voice. "I needed one that would give me millions, not one that would be added to the recycling."
"My God shall supply all your needs, it says somewhere," he repeated with a smug grin.
"So where was the 'daily bread' on Wednesday then?"
"In the shop, and a shop placed as close as you asked for it to be in 1992, remember?"
"You asked the Father for a new home, with all amenities close by, shops, road and rail links, buses and a view North, remember?  The accommodation you had was not good enough for you then. Yet even today you are not happy."
His smug expression was beginning to annoy.
"I canny mind all I asked, and I do remember asking to NEVER have another bout of 'man Flu,' and never having to go to Sainburys for bread when sick! So why did this one arrive unwanted and unasked for?" 
"That has not been given me, but working in the snow last week when feeling the early signs of a bug might give an indication."  The smug grin became a leer I thought.
"Listen," I said pointing my grubby paws at him, "You are employed as my Guardian Angel, you are meant to stop me suffering like this!" 
"Oh, where did you read that?  It is not in the good book, is it? There is one lying on your table, I note it hasn't been opened for a week or two, maybe it is worth a peek?"
I aimed a lick at him, "I have been to sick to read!"  
"No point in kicking something that you will not hit eh?" he smarmily grinned. "Reading the book might have helped there also."
I decided to ignore him and cough my way through the town.  It was crowded with people coughing their way through the town! A couple of stalls had arrived early, people shoved past one another full of the Christmas spirit, well dressed men and half dressed women made for places of refreshment, cars parked where they ought not, and the supermarkets were crowded with coughing people grumbling that everyone was coughing and spluttering and shoving them in similar fashion to the way they were behaving. The rain drizzled and the sky darkened as a line of cars left the supermarket car park at a stately two miles an hour, shoving themselves into the traffic on the main road they trundled along joyful that Christmas was upon them. 
"I still don't see why I should be sick this week?" I grumbled as I wandered home. 
"Everyone else has it, why not you," Harold the angel asked.
"Several reasons, 1, because I hate it, 2, because I am me, 3, three because it is awful."
"Hmmm, indeed it is hateful, although I have never experienced it myself, " he grinned in that annoying manner of his, "however being 'you' may not be reason enough not to endure hardship, others suffer, why not you?"
"But if the Father loves me why do I suffer?"
"He loves everyone, and his Son gave himself for them all remember. Even if they reject him on that day he will allow them to go, but he really hates the thought of it. he wants them all, even you!  Many of his children suffer real pain, long lasting and painful, yet still keep the faith, how come you grumble"
"Aye, right enough, I can appreciate their suffering when I endure this, it does make me wonder how folks in some parts of the world cope with their pains. At least I have cold cures, for what they are worth, chemists nearby, and the NHS.  I should be more grateful. I ought to be more grateful for his coming into the world by Mary the virgin for folks like me, doesn't appear to have got him far these days."
"Read the book man!  It says 'he will look on the suffering of his soul and be satisfied,' and he will be too. Stop girning and read the book again. Time you spent giving thanks and less grumbling about 'suffering' and not having enough. 
Back home I emptied several waste baskets of used tissue paper opened the windows, cleared the mess, made the dinner and found life returning slowly. Grateful I am not struck down with anything really serious, long lasting and painful. Grateful also a better life is possible, if I take it.......


Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Nothing to say

So here is a picture of the Marco Polo.


Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Three Outstanding Portraits




I believe all by Millais and displayed in the Portrait Gallery London.


Monday, 19 December 2011


Struggling as I am with this debilitating plague, I managed to discover just how many other men endure their illness so stoically.  This company at least has made an attempt to make a killing aid their fellow man but producing medicinal products specially designed for such a time.  Sadly I am too weak and ravaged by aches to make it to Sainsburys however I will stock up for next time.  Instead I will continue to indulge the enormous number of cups of tea that are keeping my weakened body alive and then I will return to bed again.  Just for you girls here is a shot of me suffering patiently....



Sunday, 18 December 2011

Man Flu Again

Will the horrid Lurgi never leave me? For weeks now I have suffered the effects of the dreaded bug!  It leaves for a day or two, then returns and hits me where it hurts, everywhere!  It is not fair I say!  Weary as I was I awake this morning and discovered the cough from yesterday had added throat pains to itself, this has magnified as the day has gone on, and the weariness has increased in spite of my desire to rise and be about my business. Instead I have been forced to sit here and watch football matches all day!  The tablets will run out soon at this rate, yet the aches and pains remain.  Food may become unavailable, yet I am too unfit to do anything about this. My survival may be at stake, yet no compassion is forthcoming!  However I am not one to complain so I will just get on with life, such as it is a the moment, and bear the suffering without a murmur, as always.  I suspect wandering about on Friday, in and out into the sleety snow, has done this.  I wonder if I can sue them for compensation.....?

For surly women who whine constantly about things of no important may need to read this scientific document indicating the prevalence of 'Man Flu' in our society.  Read this and learn how to ease your men's suffering girls!   


Saturday, 17 December 2011


Fleet Street 1899. How little has changed!  


Friday, 16 December 2011


Snow, sleet and ice cold air greeted us this morning.  I longed to remain in my pit but headed instead for the museum where I had been enrolled for a clear up operation.  My associate and I successfully completed the tasks assigned us, once he had worked out what they were, and must say I enjoyed my mornings work. It did mean several trips out into the day but it also allowed me time with a humour filled, cheery knowledgeable bunch, mostly women, who do a grand job there.  It was nice to do something useful and energetic for a change.  I will feel it in the morning I suspect!  

But it was actual snow falling today!  Cold north western air bringing sleety snow all morning.  Yet when I looked at the webcam for both Edinburgh and Aberdeen I noticed while Edinburgh was merely wet, Aberdeen had light clouds with sunshine in the distance!  How come? This is not natural.  


Thursday, 15 December 2011

The Thursday Bus

I found a book on my shelves, under several inches of dust, which detailed the history of the bus in Edinburgh. Now that's what I call a bedside book!  Even better it was full of pictures of buses, horse drawn, cable pulled, electric trams and the delightful buses Edinburgh has always been proud to use to deliver the citizens from one place to another.  Since deregulation under the Mad Cow Thatcher things have naturally been made more complicated, less service orientated and much more expensive, but what else would you expect? The book contained many pictures of the city I remember. Much has been demolished yet just as much remains unchanged, bar the increase in traffic. These evoke memories and while I am not usually one to seek photographs of buses in a manner I might use regarding steam trains I do find something attractive with those that originated in the 1930's.   

This beauty and her friends arrived in Edinburgh at the end of the war and with a subtle change of body survived into the 60's.  I do not recall seeing this type but I often used them in the new body shape.  I believe these were 'Guy Arab' buses.  Our bus, and there was only one, was a single decker with the open door at the back.  Unfortunately no picture in Edinburgh colours can be found online tonight. The conductor was a 'Pole' we were told, although he may well have been from the Baltic States, as many of these men remained safely in Scotland after the war.  Those who went home were shot by Stalin! This single decker came over the bridge up the road, collected passengers as it trundled noisily along, and after we alighted it turned a corner and parked up, a journey of ten minutes at most.  A short rest and the bus returned back from where it began, on the other side of that bridge.  I used to wonder why we got the same conductor so often, these two were the only men on the bus, and traveled up and down all day!  This lasted about two years before the service was extended.  By 1960 the journey was a wide circle tour of Edinburgh taking in a huge swathe of the city. 

'The Edinburgh Reporter,' is something I have just come across. Their story concerning the bus depot is the type of daft thing hat I would be interested in viewing, had I been in Scotia's capital.  Sadly I sit in poverty in a cold room awaiting a rainbow to arrive outside my window with a pot of gold at the bottom of it.  The only time I ever saw the bottom of a rainbow I discovered there was no pot of gold awaiting me.  Instead there was just a run down bus shelter, and that was not worth awaiting for! 


Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Museum Morning

I spent a delightful couple of hours this morning listening to some knowledgeable women discussing Victorian life. The proposed new layout, the items in poor and middle class houses and the ability to die from hundreds of diseases we never think much about today.  Jolly interesting I say!  I learned a great deal, most notably I was again reminded of just how little I do know, and just how much knowledge there is out there in this world!  As we had mentioned in passing the difference smell makes to daily life, and the Late Victorians had a variety of aromas to inhale that we miss out on today, I had a quick look to see if there was any way we could 'imitate' the daily fragrances of the time. Sadly the only think people appear interested in imitating is fake vomit, and I found that hard to swallow.  The health we posses and the economic power we possess, even in such recession times, makes us greedy, keen to grumble at slight losses and ensures we find it difficult to endure today in a way our forefathers took for granted.  Then it was a case of 'get on with it,' as  there was no other option.  I am usually adept at creating sniffs and I am sure one will turn up somewhere.  

My surfing for smell was interrupted by the landlords handyman who had come looking for a leak.  I misunderstood at first and proferred a carrot but having been shown what to do with it i declined.  It appears the washing machine connection has been leaking for a while on the drip below and dripping on the chap downstairs. So instead of having fun I had to stand and watch an imitation plumber swear at the pipes. That is no fun I can tell you.  What seemed like hours later I got back to business but by then it was time for 'Flanders Stew' and 'Eggheads.'  


Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Chilly Dusk

A chilly dusk before four in the afternoon today.  How I long to be somewhere warm!  I was not made for this weather. The sun falling down on the job is the highlight of the day so far. Nothing else has happened. The news is full of grief and squabbling, and not the entertaining type.  No it is sadly just politicians, murders, crooks, attention seekers and nothing interesting whatsoever.  It is at times like these we need a good war to make the news interesting. There again the Scottish system of dealing with neds who attempt to avoid paying fares on the train is one that could be useful worldwide don't you think?

Now that was interesting!
Oh Look, a follow up here.

Daily Mail


Monday, 12 December 2011

Public Transport

The sky was blue and the sun shone brightly as I trundled unwillingly down to the station this morning.  While I usually enjoy these little journeys into the big city it was a tired grumbling lump that joined the grumbling queue at the ticket desk. The usual cheery efficient member of staff passed me my tickets and called me "Sir," something I am not used to. As I approached the 12 coach train, a normal length at commuter time, I chose an empty compartment towards the front, and as I reached the door two men came from the small covered shelter to the side.  One moved to a door behind and the second followed me on. He murmured some words, as some people occasionally do, but I thought nothing of this grabbing the free 'Metro' that lay on a  seat intending to merely flick through it, and chose a filthy seat at the front. The coach was empty yet this man, muttering about seating, chose to sit on the other side opposite me, still talking. 

"Hmmm" I thought, "a talker," and suddenly became interested in the news I found in front of me.  Now some folks on trains share a few words as they settle into the journey and some choose to talk like an old women, this was one of they!  I remembered the hour long discussion of 'Uncle Joe's toe' on the bus that time and buried my head in the paper. Buried being the word as my glasses are meant for distance and not close up.  I pushed them to the end of my Romanesque nose and used my short sight to read the paper from three inches from the print.  I noticed my neighbour glare and turn to his (Paid for) paper.  I continued to remain absorbed in the adventures of glossily dressed female 'pop' singers, actors with well paid dentists, African 'spiritual healers' with 'POWER,' and women who wished me to call them at 35pence a minute (they say) for a friendly chat. I also then realised why the other fellow from the platform shelter entered by a different door!  Now in my world a train journey gives a great opportunity to see the world.  Trains not only give you countryside but also show you those backyards and hidden places normally missed during our lives and some of us like looking into the back end of industrial estates, peoples gardens and sometimes their windows! The view on some lines can be spectacular, on others merely interesting, so why do some folks insist on talking in very loud voices about last nights' "X" Factor' or Simon Callow show?  Do we really need to know about 'Uncle Joe's toe' while outside the sun shines, horses trot and the occasional sheep stares at the train as it passes.  (The horrid thought strikes me that some on my train may not know that sheep provide their Sunday lunch!)  But I digress. As we approached my station I concentrated on the football league divisions, all of them!  Crawley Town top League two at the moment, did you know?  As the train slowly, oh so slowly, round the bend I concentrated on the Welsh League, Llanelli doing well aint they? Soon we arrived and as I rose my talker glared at me again, I forgot to smile back.  Now I rarely object to sharing a few pleasantries, but an old woman man was not what I required today. Being friendly surely includes not talking too much as well as too little?  I felt a little guilty but I suspect he will soon have bored the pants of those who joined after I left.

Business done I returned to the station and headed home.  Sharing a friendly word with the bored guard at the entrance I noticed a train for Liverpool St standing there.  Would it stop at my stop I wondered?  As is typical on that strangely laid out station there was no screen at that point to find out, so I, along with several others, jumped on. Nowadays all trains play passenger announcements. A lass with a 'come on voice' will inform you, as if speaking into your ear that "The next stop will be Witham." With that town being the delightful London overspill that it is she might as well say "The next stop will be Kabul!"  As she gives you her 'come on' voice a message runs along the narrow indicator informing the deaf the name of the next stop.  All good information and a credit to the railway company! Naturally today this did not happen. No voice was heard and the scrolling message simply stated 'This train is for Liverpool St.' A cold thrill ran through me as I saw myself at Liverpool St station fifty minutes hence attempting to explain to several large National Express Gestapo officers my plight. However we did in fact stop at the usual stations and I relaxed.

I would have relaxed more but for the one thing worse than a talker, a ned with headphones!  The gentle hum of the modern train was accompanied by a 'shish shish shish,' from behind.  I look at my watch and wonder if I, or any other passenger, can avoid decapitating the cretin before the next stop.  I like music, I like loud music, but I do not like meaningless 'shish shish shish,' while observing the world pass me by (as it often does). Would you believe that two more young neds were found on the second train? Surely murder is acceptable in such circumstances?  I changed trains and hung about the platform for an age while awaiting the second journey.  The sky was blue, the wind chill factor high, but although my fingers began to freeze I enjoyed watching the trains pass by.  I loved the other recorded not so sexy voiced lassies announcement that "The train approaching platform 3 does not stop here," which begins as the train is already a third of the way up the platform at 80 miles an hour!  Which brings me to the notice. Those notices, small yellow things, which inform the reader to 'Keep back from platform edge,' and helpfully inform that "Passing trains cause air turbulence, Stand behind yellow line." Now at first sight this appears sensible, but as I read this the yellow line was behind me.  If I then stood behind it I would have found myself sitting on top of a 'Sealand' container and half way to Felixstowe!  Tsk, these signs need to explain the point better I say.  You would be disappointed if I was to end up on the 3:45 and be found half dead in Shanghai wouldn't you?  What...? oh!


Sunday, 11 December 2011

Lionel Walden

I came across this picture of Cardiff Docks by the American artist Lionel Walden  (1861-1933)the other day and am much impressed. I love realism in paint, especially when as bright as this, er... dank,  scene happens to be.  It is real life, full of action and contains a steam train!  What more could anyone ask for I wonder? Cardiff Docks themselves have declined with the years, although still in use much of the area has been regenerated and the 'Tiger Bay' reputation is not what it once was. Waldens pictures are worth a look!


Saturday, 10 December 2011

Friday, 9 December 2011

Friday Musings

These interesting houses were I read somewhere built by one of the Courtauld's for some of their (better) employees. Unfortunately I cannot find the link again and I am going on memory here. I believe they were built as late as 1926 and appear influenced by the 'Arts & Crafts Movement' begun by the middle class socialist William Morris.  They stand alone, backing on to the allotments that join the playing fields. I often wonder what they are like inside, although glancing at the windows brings scowls from the inhabitants I find, and the only disadvantage they have these days comes from the once large front garden now turned into car parking, and the tiny letterbox which annoys postmen!  Whether they are now on open sale or still tied by some agreement I cannot tell, and being broke don't really care, but I do think that if you make homes for your (better) employees you may as well make them attractive like the ones shown here.  

I saw this picture for the first time many years ago and took to it straight away.  The face of the woman, bored, depressed, or what stuck in my mind.  I just wanted to do something for her.  Who knows why this was painted, possibly it was a genuine situation the artist noted, at least it wasn't more young ballet dancers! The reality of the situation still impresses me, and reality is all that matters. 

During the high winds that crossed the centre of Scotland yesterday, causing no little destruction, flooding and turning over of vehicles, someone, I know not who, took this picture from the train while crossing the Forth Bridge. The Forth Road Bridge behind is deserted, closed because of the winds howling up the Forth from the west, and there in between the bridges we see a small boat cheerfully crossing the Forth in spite of it all. I wonder if this is an official boat, Police or Coastguard perhaps, whatever rather him than me in such weather!


Thursday, 8 December 2011

I Don't Know Either.

The brats at the skatepark, being male, do have a habit doing strange and needless things.  For reasons beyond my comprehension the tree towering over the skatepark has been festooned with trainers.  Whether any individual was contained within them when they made their way onto the tree branches is not known.  This is not the first time such decoration has been used to 'brighten' the area, a while back one tree was furbished with what appeared to be a pack of yellow toilet tissue.  Large streamers hung delicately from the tree, much to the annoyance of the council workmen who had to remove them.  No adolescent was hurt in this operation, also to the annoyance of the council workmen!  

 On the other hand there is little reason to expect youths to behave in a reasonable manner when planning permission, controlled by the council, leads to half demolished buildings such as the one behind. Depending on whom you read planning permission has been agreed for either a dozen houses or a hotel containing eighty bedrooms!  Considering the space will struggle to contain a dozen houses, even at the size they build them today, an eighty bedroom hotel is pushing it!  To make matters worse there will be parking space for about six cars!  However owing to some planning regulations that I fail to comprehend to avoid the planning permission running out a start has to be made on demolishing the old clinic. As the observer not wearing dark glasses and looking the other way will note the building is half demolished. Quite how the brats have not yet managed to set fire to the place is a wonder as they have frequently set many items around here on fire, litter bins, post boxes, old huts, even the skatepark itself had the covering material burnt off!  Yet there the mess that is this building stands, unburnt.  I may do it myself if this goes on much longer.  How much for the land, Price on application, which means too much!  I reckon this may lie derelict until the recession is over.  


Wednesday, 7 December 2011

'Matt' at the 'Daily Telegraph,' is without doubt the most reliable of today's cartoonists. Always relevant and rarely unfunny.  Sadly this cannot be said for so many at the moment.  Too many are busy insulting someone or just being bland and humourless.  Matt is so popular I note the shops now sell birthday cards with his cartoons emblazoned on them as well as his annual book.  I like this one, it comes near to my heart.

Yet another trip into town today, this time for a meeting that never happened.  I expected something of an educational experience but found I would have been better off at home. Still the folks are nice and I did learn something in the end.  There was a wonderful sky outside the window and I wanted to grab the camera and run out but was not in a position so to do.  Heading towards the station the twilight was aching to be photographed yet I could not get a space to take advantage of it.  By the time the train arrived it was dark. and I landed on the last train before commuterland comes alive. Considering the snow up north and the biting wind a picture of the old weir, I wonder if a mill stood here once, looks jolly in the sunshine.  The river is very high however. Not very exciting but difficult to photograph at this place.

We ought also to remember Japans biggest mistake, the attack on Pearl Harbour, 70 years ago today.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011


The other day I sat listening to several intelligent and knowledgeable women talking about a renovation of a museum display. Clearly they had years of experience and much knowledge both of the objects and the people who use such places. When my opinion was sought it was to be polite as I was clearly a 'know nothing' and it showed.  My role was clearly marked out for me and I just obeyed, with women around this is usually the safest option. The town museum is linked with the museum at the old weaving mill, this town being famous for the home of two major weavers in times past. Next week at some undecided date I am privileged to spray anti woodworm stuff on bits of wood that make up an aged loom in preparation for the removal of same to the Mill itself. Two looms are on display, the one referred to which was used for complicated patterns and was operated mostly by men, and a smaller one worked by women (cheaper), simpler and used for high volume work, mostly in Victorian days, funereal black cloth.  For me a small step into something useful, in a historical setting, and for them cheap labour. There are three white wooden mills still standing in the town, much changed since the mills closed in the 70's.  This one contains offices (empty) and the museum archive.

From the museum on the right of this picture, with the strange addition of  a fancy entrance to entice business requiring office space to apply, we look across to the other mill now a combination of business and several flats.  As a postie I found the flat letterboxes confusing, but I am not one to complain so I will not mention this.  There must have been hundreds employed here at one time. Highly skilled work was taken on, and still is as part of the museum work.  Silk was one material woven for the Queens coronation in 1953, and is still called for now. Th east of England has a thousand years or more of weaving history.  The abundance of sheep made the nation wealthy, hence the Lord Chancellor used to sit on the 'woolsack' in the House of Lords, he may still do although I believe there has been changes there. Many small villages and towns host churches with very large towers, Lavenham being one, which reflects the wealth of the area and the desperate need to show the world just how rich these locals were!  That is a village well worth a visit, although few locals smiled at us when there some time ago!  
There again few people never smile at me, laugh yes but smile, no.


Monday, 5 December 2011

Edinburgh Pandas

Frank Boyle captures the arrival of two Pandas, on loan from our friends in China for ten years, and satarises the Edinburgh love of chips covered in both salt and brown watery sauce! The Pandas have arrived in an effort China is making to join the real world,  and reflect Scotland's desire for an international presence, especially among the 'big boys!' Russia and the USA will be next I suspect.  I once, a long time ago, wandered around the London Zoo at Regents Park, a sad imitation in comparison to the one sitting on Corstorphine Hill. I journeyed there to see the two Panda Bears among other things, animals in captivity upsetting some poor souls but not those like me who would not see them otherwise. I can assure you the Pandas gave me a similar reception to that which pretty young lassies do when I whisper in their ear. One was not to be seen and memory indicates the other was engrossed in the bamboo and cared nothing for those who paid through the nose to see them.  They, like me, failed to breed, a habit that helps the bears to die out slowly in their mountain homelands. I am reliably informed that there are some women who wish their men were more like the Panda, I do not understand what they mean by this.  It is to be hoped that Edina's balmy atmosphere will aid the passion of these two, if they can put the bamboo down for long enough.

Edinburgh chip shops are, or at least were, highly important to the society.  Until the 70's shops had a terrible habit of opening from 9-5, and that included an hour closed for lunch. This led to folks suffering when an important item was not to be found in the house, often there was no way of obtaining goods after five. Chip shops provided the answer as they sold some goods and often acted as the corner shop.   However at that time many Asians were thrown out of East Africa where their forefathers had journeyed in the days of the Empire to build railways for their considerate employers.  Being Indians they soon took over all the commerce of Africa, and by the 70's many were being persecuted by the Idi Amin's of this world. A great many arrived in Leith and opened shops, one in Leith Walk learned his English, as did his fat slob son, by speaking to his customers. Most were successes, this success based on the simple idea of opening between 8-6 and not closing for lunch. It does not matter how many supermarkets open most folk want a corner shop and these men were good at that business. Some even opened up to seven at night, a revelation in Edinburgh at that time, now wonder some became millionaires.  I remember one telling us how he increased the price of his tinned beers when Glasgow football fans were passing his shops on the Saturday, he would reduce it to normal price once they had gone!

Until their arrival chip shops were split into two, many still are, and they played the part of the corner shop. A tin of beans, a packet of cigarettes or sweets for the kids were all supplied for the section to the side used for that purpose. These places were never licensed for alcohol. The main business was fish and chips, pies, sausages and chicken, and today kebabs and anything that sells.  In Edinburgh salt was lavished unhealthily onto the chips and a brown sauce, impossible to describe but a 'must have' on Edinburgh chips, was liberally applied. Some folks just preferred vinegar, and a surprise to foreigners from England, the woman in the shop applied the salt & sauce, they did not wrap it up and leave you to unwrap it and apply the needful yourself!  Pies also were not wrapped in paper as the English offer them, a strange behaviour I have never understood, and of course were always 'mince pies,' made with mutton, and similar to the manner of many customers dress sense.  In short chip shops throughout Scotland were excellent in every way, and even better around the capital city where salt & sauce abound. 

Of course there is in all things one slight drawback to all this, a combination of cigarettes, to much alcohol (Mr S are you listening?) and lashings of fish and chips, salt drenched, when leaving public houses has led to Scotland having one of the highest rates of heart failure in the world. Still, you canny have everything, can you?  I wonder how long Panda and his mate will survive.....?   


Saturday, 3 December 2011

Another Saturday Night

One of the joys of any winters Saturday night is to dwell on the satisfying football result from the afternoon. This, as any supporter of the Heart of Midlothian will remind anyone willing to listen, is a pleasure to be enjoyed, but not expected!  To have a concern for this side means carrying around a deep cynicism based on hard reality.  Success is a mere step away and yet we find ourselves drifting in a sea of despair. The treasured European place awaits us but once again we are far from there and Christmas is upon us once again. This afternoon I listened in to Radio Glasgow's actually quite decent commentary on the game against St Johnstone. This we knew would be a difficult occasion as the Perth side have had excellent results this season and attempt to play good football. Naturally we also knew we would win.
We lost 2-1.
Not only were they probably the better side but we missed a penalty and they scored one! Now our disappointed players, who have not as yet been paid, have to prepare for the game against Celtic next week. We ought to beat that rag tag and bobtail bunch of misfits, but I wonder.....

Why are 'St Johnstone' called 'St Johnstone' anyway?  
Perth is an old established city (although now called a 'city' for some daft reason) and the area around Perth has been inhabited since Mesolithic times, around 8000 years ago. The River Tay was crossed at low tide here and settlements grew around it. The Tay contains the largest volume of water of any British river, and it it very cold indeed. This does not stop some folks dipping into it almost daily! They must be dafties! Perth was the residence of some of the past royalties, an important town during the Reformation, and possessed many industries, especially that of whisky. The main Kirk, or church, was dedicated to St John the Baptist and became known as 'St John's.'  The town became known as 'St John's Toun' during the middle ages although the Pictish name Perth (meaning 'wood') was reinstated.

None of that interesting aside brightens the gloom here mind. The footballers have not yet received their wages, and the cash may well have run out. The owner wishes to sell and I would gladly buy him out for a £1 if I could find someone to lend me £30 million to pay the debts. Woe is us, the futures bright, for those who carry a candle in their pockets.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

All Done

All my Christmas shopping and card writing has now been done.  Nothing cash wise to spend so little bought, cards cheap, stamps and postage dearer than I reckoned, but everything done. Pah! Some people have not even started yet, would you believe that?