Monday, 30 April 2012

Sunshine





A shot of village England from the train as we passed at high speed today.  A shot a second or so earlier would have given a slightly better view, however the big houses, the church, and the green represent the usual English village that tourists love.  Whether the pub remains open or whether actually living there is good is another matter.  The TV programmes often show folks looking for a small, quiet village to retire to.  They talk of community spirit, a local friendly pubs, and give the impression they can fit in anywhere.  Maybe so but do the villagers take to them I wonder?  Some folks live forty years in a village and are still reckoned as outsiders by those born there. I suspect if you have money and do not upset the routine you may be alright, but it could be too cosy for some.  Occasionally incomers are known to demand the church bell stops ringing as they came to the country for quiet, some even demand local chickens or cattle in fields are removed.  That is not how to endear oneself to the locals.  One or two houses are available however £6-900,000 would be required for the bigger ones, good luck!




While up town being browbeaten and nagged by Helen (Is there a school women attend where they learn to bully males?) concerning job searching, I noticed the river was deep, fast flowing and as you can see a bit murky.  This reflects the rainfall over the past month.  I noticed from the train the river had flooded in many places, on occasion filling ready made holes and flood basins, yet we know the rain is insufficient to find its way deep into the earth, to fill reservoirs or aid farmland in the long run.  Personally I think we have had enough, but I do not posses a garden, a crop nor a vast need for water.  The hosepipe ban continues but some would say there are still too many mains pipes leaking that water companies are too busy counting their profits to notice.  They may have a point.




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Sunday, 29 April 2012

Hope Springs Eternal.....



Hope sprang this afternoon after I hobbled home from my walk around the various town banks.  Being the Sabbath the banks are closed and I merely looked in the windows and allowed myself to dream for a moment.  Having done so I made my way home to my cocoa when I espied the fuzz parked outside the park!  Hooray I thought, a raid!  Visions of armour clad polis waving large truncheons practicing for Olympic duty crossed my mind.  As I approached I was disappointed to note only one vehicle parked there.  I was more disappointed when five custodians of the law sauntered from the park, no adolescent brutes gathered, no blood on their truncheons and no sign of removal of the half grown miscreants!  It appears a mere general enquiry was under way, no arrests, no reason to whine to the council, no chance of closing the park to the screeching brats, no happy thoughts after all.
Still, one day.....

I had wandered out after a morning filled with rain hammering onto the dirty window panes, an afternoon watching Celtic taking Rangers apart while avoiding shouting 'Third Division, you're having a laff' at them.  I followed this giggle by sniggering my way through Hibernian's feeble attempt to defeat a poor St Mirren side.  Oh the satisfaction of knowing that by the grace of God I was born into the Heart of Midlothian family, such joy!  Sometimes I sympathise with those lesser people not of such a privelaged life.  The rain ceasing offered an opportunity to see the outside world once again.  Sadly it had closed and I merely spent my time as  windowlicker outside the various banks.  One day I will actually be allowed inside one.  


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Saturday, 28 April 2012

Customs Post







Angela Merkel lands at Charles de Gaulle airport.



Customs man: "Nationality?"



Merkel: "German."



Customs man: "Occupation?"


Merkel: "No, just a few days."






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Friday, 27 April 2012

I Have Nothing to Say



It's one of those weeks. The things that have impressed themselves on my mind, the museum, dead soldiers, Rangers men lying in their teeth, and our corrupt government have not been the stuff to raise laughs or interest those in far flung places such as Texas or Dalkeith.  No sir my scrawls have gained little attention and on top of this the rain keeps coming down.  The weather is of course a talking point in the UK.  With the vast Atlantic on one side and the continent on the other weather patterns vary considerably.  Left over US hurricanes lash our western coast and drop rain everywhere while snowdrifts from the Arctic arrive via Siberia from the east.  This leaves a lush, green landscape in which crops can happily grow.  However it can also depress those who spend several days at a time with raindrops falling on their heads.  Gray skies do not bring smiles, although in the UK blue ones don't do that either.  Walking into a closed glass door however can bring a smile to those standing nearby!  It has been known for the wind (The Mistral?) to blow north from the Sahara to arrive in the south of England on occasion.  While it deposits vast amounts of sand grains in the southern aspect of Spanish homes, while leaving the north grit free but chilled, rarely does the dust come this far.  It does however bring a welcome warmth, we miss it at the moment.  What is arriving, whether from west or south, is Atlantic rain!  Tons of it is falling, a months supply at a time, and the plucky Brit is doing what he does on such occasions, he grumbles!  Of course while the rain is indeed heavier and more persistent than usual it is Springtime and this weather occurs every Springtime to some extent.   The plucky Brit of course has forgotten this and merely whines about how bad it is, global warming, ice age, and the Labour Party's fault!  Unless we have to the answer is to stay indoors unless the sun shines, but that would lead to folks complaining about being trapped I suppose.

Not being one to complain, or indeed to blow my own trumpet,  and I remarked as much this morning in Tesco's where the lass made a comment about kids behaviour.  "I wasn't perfect," she claimed, "But they are so bad today." I took the opportunity to remind her I had been perfect as a child, and her story changed. "So was I," she lied!  The young woman following on suddenly woke up to add, "That makes three of us."  I decided I was in a store full of gloating maniacs and left before anyone else joined in.  But is it true?  Are kids really worse today than 30, 60 or 100 years ago?  I doubt it.  Human nature doesn't change and certainly not in that time.  Culture does, discipline does, and we live in liberal times where freedom easily becomes licence. Personal freedom is more important than other people, and consideration for them lessens from parent to child.  However all is not lost and never indeed was in danger of being lost.  People were just as bad in the past, two major wars, a depression and less wealth all round covered up selfishness and human sin.  Things are more open today, exaggerated by tabloid press, and the good that has always been done by all manner of people still continues.  However that said all brats should be locked in school 24 hours a day, seven days a week in my view!

The museum has a Victorian classroom, a very good practical idea in my mind, that educates the brats on past teaching methods.  Dressed accordingly, but with shoes not worn by kids in the past, they learn the highly disciplined schooling of the mid Victorian times.  I thought of this yesterday while attending a meeting to discuss a new layout for the museum.  Surrounded by knowledgeable people who knew their subject i was a bit out of place, but opened the gob anyway, and found truly I was out of place.  After a morning discussion I confess to still not being sure of what has been decided, my lack of concentration, the debate, and many suggestions means I await the next news.  The Victorian times do interest me.  Vast changes in western society, influencing the entire world, mass movement of people, railways, leading to industrial development, increasing wealth, and indeed leisure times.  They are so near to us it is possible to identify with Victorians in a way we cannot with those of previous centuries, they were too different in every way.  Our towns are still based much on Victorian development, as is the rail system and much else.  Prices have changed somewhat mind!  It's a very interesting period and I would like a time machine to go back there for a look around, although taking all the medicine I require with me of course!

 I did however discover a wonderful thing today.  The old telly, no longer used since the 'analog' was replaced by 'digital' signal, does in fact play the videos that are stacked around here.  This is good as there is many wonderful programmes available, much better than the junk now filling TV.  I was beginning to wonder if I would ever get use of them again.  I remain content with small results.  Great events shake me not!  Who said cheapskate.....?  

Of course much of my time has been taken up on newspaper sites adding pertinent comments on the Rangers FC situation.  This club, sectarian to make money, arrogant and offhand to the rest, has been discovered fiddling the taxes, around £49 million, and this added to failing further tax by fiddling the way they paid players doubling the money owed by the 'loyalists' to the queen they sing about each week.  The abuse, the threats and the refusal to accept blame has risen to a level that would embarrass residents in Barlinnie Prison.  Pleading a 'special case' because '"It's us," appears to be the theme.  I am happy to report few attempt to justify their behaviour on the comments, almost all condemn them.  It is the club that whines and bleats in a shameful manner, blaming this one and that but never admitting their fault.  Regrettably  the more they speak out the more I hope for their demise.  An altogether terrible situation all of their own making.

Not much to laugh about, although I did laugh at Rangers, saw humour aplenty amongst the volunteers at the museum, laughed at folks blogs, where intended I mean, and am within myself beaming these days.  Have I been drinking......?


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Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Market Day.




Market Day failed miserably as the thunder and lightning, rain, hailstones and wind tended to put the buyers off.  In between storms I braved the elements and set out, just to avoid listening to Rupert Murdoch lying to the Leveson enquiry.  If he was not going to lie he was going to put someone else into the mire.  He is not called the 'Dirty Digger' for nothing.  When I was a lad there was an attitude that appeared to say 'respect your leaders, betters, adults and other people.'  Today it is impossible to find this attitude and the behaviour of those very souls has made it thus.  Of course teaching kids to listen and respect is a good thing, but respect also needs to be earned, our leaders, in politics, media and even sport, do not deserve respect.


I broke off to listen to various news report and enjoy my repast of 'Flanders Mince.'  Murdoch was it seems intent on his fantasy world.  'The Sun,' being the only 'independent' newspaper he claimed. He is kind of right of course, all others have their own slant, Murdoch goes where he thinks the money is to be found, so I suppose that is a kind of independence.  His integrity was surpassed by Jeremy Hunt, a cabinet minister, as he defended e-mails sent from his department to Murdoch company during Hunts investigation of Murdochs BSkB takeover.  It appears Jeremy knew nothing and his assistant has fallen on his sword.  How convenient!  I remain convinced myself that the minister has absolutely nothing to hide!  Integrity is this governments watchword. The honest 'Daily Mail' loves to fill its pages with Murdoch's troubles.  it remains less keen to state that the editor may well be given the boot for his performance at the enquiry that now attempts to hang Rupert. You will be pleased to know that our leader David Cameron stands by his cabinet member.  He might as well, soon he will be standing beside him in the dole queue! Oh by the way, that nice mentally unbalanced friend of Dave's, George Osborne, the one ion charge of the money, he has admitted we are back in recession.  I suppose he will once again lower the taxes of the rich because of this next week. 




Football of course is run by honest men, integrity is their watchword!  Unfortunately Rangers owner Sir David Murray forgot to pay the income tax as required, some £49 million worth of forgetfulness!  It appears there was dubious dealings with payment to players also and now the tax man is investigating.  To avoid trouble clear up the situation Murray dumped the club on a fall guy sold the club to a multi millionaire businessman who paid £1 for the club and promised to sort things out.  It appears he was in fact a fantasist and has since been banned for not paying taxes (£19 million?), selling four seasons of season tickets to 'Ticketus,'  has been playing fast and loose with the money, which he doesn't have, and is now the man the media attack for hurting their club.  Murray however they never mention, hmmmm?  Sanctions resulting mean the club may die.  All Scotland is in a ferment!  Rangers fans demand action, Scottish football fans demand the club dies.  We await the result of several inquiries, police investigations, court cases, and hopefully the Rangers dumped into Division 3!  


Has there ever been 'integrity' in football, or indeed politics, media or anything else?  I doubt it.  Hammurabi made his famous laws several thousand years ago, the bible is full of crime condemned, and as Thudydides says,"Human nature doesn't change."  The only honest person can ever be our self, everyone else cannot be trusted.....

Oh and it rained a lot today....




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Tuesday, 24 April 2012

A Good Use for the Brute!


Yes indeed at last I can justify using this brute of a laptop. In spite of things moving when they shouldn't, links disappearing and the spelling failing miserably I have found this machine to have one great use, I can use it while lying in my bed!  Yes indeed, here I was tonight, watching the football in comfort while glancing outside at the pink and blue sky, and drowsily ending my day, who could ask for more?  Well me for one, but this is at least one advantage the PC could not offer.  Sadly however as I was awake at five this morning, and rose at six after manfully attempting to return to my dreams, this means that I fail to see clearly while watching the game on the laptop as my eyes keep closing.  This is somewhat annoying.  The wonderful post that ran through my mind today has turned to slush.  Possibly I could still use it, some say it would fit!  The rain that spent much of the day drenching the world  forced me to stay inside and clean the oven, and it is not yet six months old!  Still is stopped me looking for dead soldiers for a while, and while I keep finding info on some I can see I am only half way through my list.  I wake in the morning to the sound of military music from 1914 these days.  I pull my second hand gray army blankets over my head while I drop off into slumberland with the news that Chelsea defeated a football team tonight by using Walter Smith style tactics.  How depressing!           


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Monday, 23 April 2012

I was Surprised...


I was surprised as I made my way through the town early this bright and sunny morning to find St Georges Day was being ignored by his people.  One pub was making money ready by flying four flags outside but no others bothered.  Has patriotism worn off I wonder?  Could it be people really are turned off so much by the English Defence League and other bams flying the English flag that they do not wish to be associated with it?  How strange!  Now I can understand most not wishing to be linked with the type who join the EDL, however your nation needs you, as someone once said?  Only the Irish seriously wish for a 'Saints Day' and that only for the Guinness!  However pride in a nation does not end because of toughs or the reformation.  The recession, being a Monday, and the dismal weather which poured from the sky all afternoon may well be dampening enthusiasm for the cause. English weather, sunshine & rain at the same time, does inhibit enthusiasm.  Possibly when the European Championships begin a flurry of flags will appear on vehicles passing by, and soon they will fill the wheely bins as England fail once again.  Brings a tear to the eye, don't it...?

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Sunday, 22 April 2012

Trapped




This time it's a passing shower, earlier it was large hailstones, much of the time merely rain!  Trapped I remained by the damp streets and holes in my ageing trainers. There was nothing for it but to watch football.  This reveals an insight into my luck however.  I watched some of the Manchester United v Everton game, until that nice Mr Rooney scored United's fourth.  At that point I switched over to watch Motherwell playing Celtic.  This game was rubbish and I was too weary to avoid watching.  At the end I discovered Everton had scored twice after I left them and I missed this excitement to become brain deadened by the Motherwell dross.  The hail then fell again - through the open window in the bedroom!  The picture attempts to capture the sun shining through the rain lashing down at an angle.  It failed. 



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Friday, 20 April 2012

Lost Relatives


I have spent much of this week in a daze.  Another of those bugs has been irking me and my concentration levels have been low.  A pain as I had the museum meet on Monday and found myself involved with preparations for the 2014 centenary of the Great War.  The bug meant I ate little so was quite content to play couch potato and sit at this brute of a laptop and look for dead soldiers, some of whom I actually found. (By found I do not mean I discovered a dead soldier in the back garden, I mean a record of his death.  I know one or two of you are a bit slow.....)  However I was dragged out to the museum to discover I had been volunteered for more work.  How nice I thought, although I am yet to be let into the secret as to what this entails.  I hope it's not brain work, I tend to fail at that.     

Tonight however as the bug had worn off, I decided to eat without burning the chips (yes oven chips can be burnt) and look for dead relatives.  My granddad married grandma when both had been widowed.  Three kids she left as he drunk too much and for this reason dad, and my aunt, rarely if ever spoke of him.  I think it made my dad very family orientated later.  Aunt Annie did allow some information eventually, but she was always very careful with what she revealed.  It appears two previous sons may have taken poison, but I wonder?  I looked tonight in all the (free) places where info might arise and found nothing.  Plenty of relevant names to be found, all the wrong ones, and almost all in the US!   

I did however go through that strange emotion again of wondering about the lives of those who went before.  Each link brought information which while irrelevant made me wish to wander off down alleyways into stories untold, well to me at least.  It was as I allowed my mind to wander through the grimy smoke filled streets of the past that I realised my chips were done, well done.  I think I will have salad tomorrow....


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Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Victorian Door



Sadly as I passed the other morning the sun was shining on the other side of the street.  This is unfortunate as I would rather this door stood out a bit brighter than it does.  It belongs to what was once the vicarage, and Victorian vicars were very important indeed.  Powerful in the world around them their houses reflected their importance.  To obtain such a 'living' was something to be sought, although whether they cared  about God or not is debatable.  Anthony Trollope spoofed the Anglian church of the mid century in his book 'The Warden.'  It was so good even I read it!  Today things are somewhat different. large vicarages, rectories and deaneries have now been sold off, turned into flats, demolished or like this one put to a variety of uses.  Here we find offices and living accommodation together I believe,  and I do know a lass born here when dad was vicar, and that must have been around the time of the second world war.  How times change.

                                   

like so many others the vicar would merely cross the road to his church and begin his work, although he ought to have been working before this I say!  His church has stood on this site since the 12th century, possibly following on from a Saxon construction and even a Roman cemetery.  The town was a mere fifteen miles from the Roman garrison in Colchester, a days march and this may well have been a regular stopping point.  Certainly a small hamlet of some sort was erected here.  Lots of bits have been found from that time.


As the vicar crossed the path to St Michaels church he would possibly note this niche on the back of the church.


In times past as pilgrims made their way across to various shrines, there was St Edmunds in Bury St Edmunds, and another at Walshingham in Norfolk, they would make use of such niches where some form of blessing could be found.  Sadly I cannot remember all the details and I have no info to hand.  I could spend time on Google but my chips are beginning to burn so I will let you ponder on the blessing received b y the neds empty beer bottle and KFC bag instead.  



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Monday, 16 April 2012

Braintree District Museum



I spent an enjoyable morning at a volunteers get together at the Braintree Museum this morning. (Where most of the pictures come from) Delightful to see so many willing to do something to aid the town's history.  We had an lovely time attempting to decide what we liked and disliked about the museum.  Small groups gathered to discuss the various sections, I managed to claim one Warners section was not my favourite, it just happened to be the company the lass next to me had worked 28 years for!  I meet people when I am rude.....

It was generally agreed the outstanding aspect of the museum was the Victorian school room.  This receives groups of young folks (children were considered 'small people' not 'children' in Victorian days), dressed in period costume, who endure a Victorian type education for an hour or so before experimenting with this or that elsewhere  Playtime features suitable games, no iPads allowed!  As the building was a school built by one of the Courtalds in the late 19th century it seemed an obvious idea.   


My primary had desks like these!  The teachers however had more appropriate 1930's style desks, containing a 'strap' (a Lochgelly Tawse) for punishment.  I am not quite sure where the spears at the back came from.  There are shields and drums of an African origin elsewhere and I wonder if these are the fruits of English imperialism?  We heard of future projects and priorities for the museum, and the Warners Archive, for which we were shown the new website.  Warners had a large mill nearby and the archive not only keeps alive the history it is an active producer of material.  Silk manufacture is a highly skilled affair and designs and materials are still produced and sold there today.  Not quite the same volume as in times past of course.  Warners Archive

Note the obvious mistake with this Victorian tableau!

I love the Victorian era, especially as I did not live through it, but my aged family were close to it, one uncle being born in the 1890's.  The attitudes of the day was seen to some extent in the family members throughout the seventy years or so they lived.  Much of Victorian infrastructure lies about us still, railways, buildings, crowded High Streets, churches for a sample.  We are much closer to Victorian days than we realise.  

However I also like the distant past and artifacts that reflect life here from 2000 BC or thereabouts are very interesting.  To be in possession of a daily object from so long ago releases a strange emotion.  I am not sure what it is, maybe I had too much porridge for breakfast.  Anyway I love bits of aged pottery, a coin or an axe head from the distant past, it connects us to those who lived and died here so long ago.  Why should people be forgotten?  I am frequently amazed at how little information appears concerning men who lived, worked and served in this are from a mere hundred years ago.  Many of their houses remain but just as many have long since been demolished, and with the house goes the memory of the individual.  It often appears as if they had never existed, but an effect of their life remains with us all, usually never realised.


When the school took us to the Royal Scottish Museum in Edinburgh as kids we were forced to sit in front of a large glass display and listen to a wifie discussing the stuffed birds found therein!  How enthralling!  At least on one occasion we were confronted with a Japanese crab with claws six foot long.  Why I have absolutely no idea, there were few of those around our way.  Some people find Museums to be boring and kids need to do something, not be lectured about stuff.  Make them enjoy something, even if it appears to be boring, and they will remember it.  Folks remember humour better than dullness.  Dressed up like 19th century waifs, but smelling much nicer (well up to a point), the urchins have a more 'hands on' affair in the museum today.  The RSM had one or two very expensive machines that revealed the working of coal mines and the likes, but miserable teachers insisted we ignored those and stopped sliding along the polished floors and sit down and belt up.  I am happy to report no miserable, bullying, harridan like witches were found teaching there today.  Instead I found a group of interested knowledgeable volunteers who wish to discover more and make the towns history known.  I myself am happy in a dogsbody role, to me this is a promotion, and I am learning from those that really know.  I am well impressed with the knowledge found here amongst professional and volunteer workers.  


So that's where my old bike got to!



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Sunday, 15 April 2012

What a Great Day!



Never in all my 25 years did I ever expect to see a Heart of Midlothian versus Hibernian Cup Final!  Today, by defeating the green half of the evil twins, the Heart of Midlothian stormed through to that very final! Of course after a hundred and what years these two Edinburgh sides have met before in cup competitions, with the Maroons usually, but not always, coming out on top.  The last time was a few years back when the Heart of Midlothian walked all over the wee team at the semi final at Hampden by four goals (count them) to nothing (count them!), and continued on to win the oldest cup trophy in football once again.  

Today we merely scored two delightful goals against Celtic, for some reason cionsidered favourites.  Lord Rudi Skacel's delightful left foot (seen above) scoring the first just after half time.  We continued to look good after that, with no failures of any sort amongst our maroon clad side.  Allowing the overhyped Glasgow side an equaliser (and offside at that) was not a good idea so close to the end of the game.  However minutes later the smiles were removed from the knuckle dragging beasts when a hand from a Celtic defender blocked a goal bound shot and ensured we had a penalty right at the death.  They even had a cheek to claim a clear handball was not a penalty!  Tsk!  That nice Mr Beattie sent the idiot goalie the wrong way and we were through!  

You may now stand on a chair, raise your voice, and yell WOOOPEEEEEEEEEE!  
I just did.


The Edinburgh clubs did meet once before in the Scottish Cup Final, but that was back in1896 and even I was not around then.  Hearts won by goals from Davie Baird, Wullie Michael and Alex King.  The Irishmen, and there were twenty five thousand who had emigrated to Edinburgh by this time, scored through Jo 'O Neil. Jo then disappeared into obscurity where Hibs folks belong. Seventeen thousand that day attended the match, the supporters of the Maroons, in the majority, throwing their hats in the air as victory was achieved.  Their descendants will do likewise in May.  I suppose the Irishmen just vanished when the game was decided, usually there are a lot of them disguised as seats at these games.  The final was actually played in Edinburgh, at a place called 'Logie Green,' the one and only time the Glasgow based SFA made a sensible decision.  There will be suggestions that this game ought to be played in Edinburgh, at rugby's Murrayfield Stadium, but I doubt this will happen.  It must be remembered that the Hearts have defeated Hibernian so many times that to equal our victories it would take Hibs, at four games a season, twenty years to equal our victory totals.  The present Hibernian side comprises many loan players, two or three neds, and a dope.  

I feel confident.  



TV coverage was poorer in 1896 I must say.



Saturday, 14 April 2012

Another Sign of Spring



Just as mist heralds the dawn, daffodils and bluebells brighten the world, umbrellas in many hands, and men in shorts appear so cricket reappears in our midst heralding Spring!  The first chance to dress in whites bring the English male out in huge numbers, age and lumbago not wearying such men.  The sun is shining, the windchill bad, yet there they are, sweating off the pounds gained watching cricket from overseas on the couch throughout the winter.  What do they see in this slow, ponderous, yet still more intellectually satisfying than baseball, game?  One overweight man throws a ball towards another, armed only with a flat stick. He swipes at the ball hoping to hit the thing far away, if he misses the balls flight may take it onto other sticks embedded behind him, if they hit he loses his place.  When the ball goes any distance those surrounding shout and run to collect and return it, while the batsmen run back and forward the 22 yards between sticks.  With no less than six or seven hours a huge score of 200 or more 'runs' can be gathered this way.  How enthralling.  Everybody claps at such a score. From eleven in the morning until six or even later in the evening the chaps stand around, clapping occasionally, taking turns to swipe at thin air, and then replace the poundage lost by sitting  in the nearest pub until 'last orders' is shouted.  Using the ground this way is better than building yet more desperately needed homes I suppose, especially as no-one can afford them these days but just what is the attraction that grabs Englishmen so?  In Scotland working men rarely play or even consider cricket, in England this disease affects all classes.  Vast volumes are scribbled on the rules, personnel, history, events, places connected with the game.  If rain hinders play two men, any two, will find an eager audience willing to listen while they drone on endlessly about any of said subjects.  Have these men no lives?  They certainly could not have wives!  Think also of this, today is semi-final day in the English cup and these men ignore it to play cricket instead of watching the football, are they victims of  'mad cow disease' perhaps?





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Friday, 13 April 2012

Springtime in Utopia!



By popular request I have been forced to stand outside on an early Spring morning to photograph the sun rising over the park.  Quite why people are so obsessed with the park is beyond my befuddled mind, but who am I to object to a request from one of my deluded readers fans?  So I have been out, the damp soaking through the soles of my aged trainers, choking in the mist as the frost rises from the ground filling the air, if it can find room there with all this low lying cloud around.  On the far side of the park bright yellow daffodils shiver and curl up in an attempt to prevent a premature death, their luminosity at variance with the world around them.  Heads down, the few passers by failed to notice and be cheered by them.     


The few passing through, scurrying to work, may grunt a short greeting to those who gather at the park bench in the early morn for their 'breakfast.'  Each day, before most have pulled back the duvet, three or four chums gather to imbibe a varied breakfast from different labeled cans.  Often subtly hidden behind a plastic bag or placed at their side as one passes.  Friendly enough, harmless, not as young as they once were, and humoured by the way the dog insisted on shoving its nose into my Tesco bag one morning in an attempt to steal my (proper) breakfast.  

Spring is indeed with us, rain (and the hosepipe ban continues in this drought), wind, mist, with more showers to follow, indicates Spring is well under way and soon Summer will be declared officially.  I expect Thunder, lightning and floods.  The hosepipe ban will continue however.  

Springtime is here.....   



  

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Sympathy



The Macmillan Online Dictionary tells me that the word 'Sympathy' refers to, 'a natural feeling of kindness and understanding that you have for someone who is experiencing something very unpleasant.'  Most of us have experienced this emotion on numerous occasions, this does not however lead us to sustaining an appreciation of the situation and speaking honestly about it.  Alan Davis however has discovered that speaking thus, honestly and with sympathy, does not always go down well.


The Hillsborough Disaster occurred on April 14th 1989.  The weight of the crowds entering the stadium, where strong fences to deter hooliganism were erected, led to crushing which left 96 dead and 766 injured.  All were Liverpool fans.  Add to this that TV was covering the match at the time and pictures were shown nationwide of the tragedy unfolding, I sat with friends watching this as did millions of others.  The official report blamed police for failure of crowd control.


This disaster left its mark upon Liverpool football club and their fans, many of course who would have been there or knew the deceased.  All will sympathise and understand Liverpool's wish to commemorate this event each year.  Alan Davis raised a reasonable point when he questioned the postponement of Liverpool's game with Chelsea, leaving Chelsea only three days to prepare for a major European game, because the original date was April the 14th, and Liverpool as an act of remembrance do not play on that date.  "Why not?" he asked, pointing out that Manchester United play on the date that commemorates the 1958 Munich Disaster in which their team was almost wiped out.  Rangers, who lost 66 dead in the Ibrox Disaster of January 2nd 1971 play on that date also.  Bradford City play regularly on May 11th in spite of losing 56 dead and having 256 injured on that date in 1985 when the stadium suffered a flash fire, why should Liverpool be different?  We should not of course omit the Heysal Stadium Disaster of 1985.  Liverpool fans attacked the Juventus fans at the start of the European Cup Final, 39 Juve fans died, 600 were injured.  Yet Liverpool play on May 29th in spite of their fans guilt.  Do they not wish to commemorate this action?


While all football fans empathise and understand clubs remembering their dead, whether an individual or a larger group, I cannot get away from the 'attitude' which appears to arise whenever Liverpool are concerned.  It seems to me that the city of Liverpool considers their traumas greater than any others.  Liverpool fans have indeed 'made up' with Juventus fans, they appreciate the disasters elsewhere, I am sure they would give aid if required at any such event if asked, however there is a mental attitude that says 'Liverpool is more important.'  This is an attitude that in this tragic case is holding them back, not helping them.  It is not possible to forget the dead and sufferings of Hillsborough, it is right to commemorate them year by year, it is also I must say using that  awful popular phrase, 'time to move on.'  The remembrance does not allow the relatives to overcome their pain, indeed it probably exaggerates this.  Constant reminders, annual games changed on that date, all bring up once again the pain of loss, and we all know how hard this is to overcome.  Possibly now is the time for Liverpool to end the ban on playing on that date and have a simple minutes silence instead?  This does not do an injustice to the deceased, it respects them in a proportionate and considerate manner, it also allows the relatives to continue their lives their own way.

Alan Davis has of course suffered much abuse through Liverpool fans loudly objecting to his comments, especially as he is an Arsenal fan.  Abuse, threats, and even threats to his life have been offered.  His reply, on Twitter he suggested he should go outside in disguise, this :- 'Scouser outfit.'  I suppose when an actor/comedian is attacked fro making a reasonable suggestion he will respond in suitable manner.  It must be noted he apologised for any offence caused, and offered a donation to a suitable cause, this was rejected.    


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Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Old Pump




The Aldgate Pump, pictured here in 1880 surrounded by local worthies, still stands on this spot!  The pump marks the official beginning of the 'East End.'  It is found at the junction of Aldgate and Fenchurch/Leadenhall Streets.  There is a report of a pump around here in the days of King John back in the twelve hundreds, streams were near by so it is likely, and this pump, dating from the late eighteenth century, was itself was re-erected on this spot in 1876 when London's growth led to the streets being widened.  Pollution of the water occurred around this time when calcium leaked from the bones of the dead buried in new cemeteries to the north of the City and filtered into the stream which fed the pump. It is said several hundred people died because of this.  However some years later Whittards, the tea people, claimed to always have kettles filled here so they could use the 'purest water.'  It is important to know your local History!  Mains water replaced the stream when the pollution was discovered. The spout is a small brass wolf's head seen on the front of the Portland stone pump, this represents the last wolf shot in London.  This replaced the stone spout sometime before the Great War.  I think there are still wolves in the City of London myself. There appears to be some dispute as to when the water was turned off as the pump is no longer in use.

Situated in the City of London, surrounded still by heavy traffic, the pump is ignored by the masses who pass by each day, London after all has vast numbers of historical artifacts in every direction. Few if any would know the story of the pump, many might not know who King John was, although they might listen if someone claims to have found his lost treasure, and I doubt many temporary locals care as they pass by these days.  We live within our lives and immediate troubles don't we.  At one time the real locals, who actually lived here unlike the million or so employed in the area today, depended on this pump.  Like so many others throughout the nation a pump was the only water supply.  Any fouling of the water therefore caused great suffering to many, and usually this meant the poorest and least able to help themselves.  Many village pumps remain in this area, some well maintained and on public view, others found lurking in peoples gardens.  Our purified water today comes through the tap, however fussy folks can buy a variety of bottled waters, I never see a jogger without the magic bottle for instance, it is almost a fashion item with some, and working pumps or water fountains are rarely seen today.    

  




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Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Shocked!




George Osborne, our world renown millionaire Chancellor of the Exchequer, claims in a Telegraph interview today that he is 'shocked' to discover how the richest millionaires do not pay enough tax, using a variety of legal loopholes to keep their cash. I am somewhat taken aback by this.  If George, who has around £4 million to his name, was unaware of the £15-20 Billion tax avoided by his rich friends can we conclude he is either lying in his private dentist teeth or just too stupid to do his job?  Has he forgotten already how that nice man in charge of the Tax Office, after a decent lunch, gave the boss of Vodafone leave not to pay his £6 Billion tax bill?  "Just give us £1:25 Billion, and take your time in paying this," he said, "and that will be fine."  He even let one of your Tory donors off with a few million also, have you forgotten this too George?  Has George not noticed the Cabinet is full of millionaires just like him, does he think they pay all their taxes, really?  


In spite of his fathers successful business a privileged education and a Modern History degree,   George joined the real world by data entry, at the NHS he entered the names of the recent dead into the computer.  He moved on to a solitary week at Selfridges folding towels for ungrateful customers, who can blame him for leaving that shop?  I worked there in the early eighties and the nickname 'Selfishes' rings a bell still.  Joining Conservative Central Office Osborne soon found a home and gradually worked his way up, until becoming the MP for Tatton at the age of 30.  Like David Cameron PM, and so many other members of both sides of the house George was from the 80's youth.  These privileged young, a very different generation from mine, have no experience of the war, the "Never had it so good 50's," or the problems of the 70's, and I do not refer here to the music of that time!  Osborne and the rest have a mindset far from any 'Babyboomer.'  Their nation has always been wealthy, and not just because of their good fortune, everyone had enough, no-one appeared to starve, the UK, indeed the west, spoke of 'good times.'  How can someone with that outlook understand the needs of the nation, economically and 'spiritually?'  What does Osborne's nation stand for?  Can he really appreciate what his statement implies?  


I confess, as if you had not noticed, my mindset was reared in a working class family of the 50's.  A left leaning, but voting Conservative if they were better, family, and Scots nationalist when they arose in the late 60's.  Of course a quick perusal of the bible changed much of my thinking, but that leads to a natural left of centre approach.  (Thatcher in the 80's turned the evangelical church from right of centre to left of centre by her hard hearted attitudes.)  For George to say he is 'shocked' by something I heard about when I was 15 or so, and from those able to practice such tax avoidance, I find it hard to accept he really understands the responses to his every utterance.  Maybe he ought to go back to the towel department and ask a few questions of those rifling through the stock?


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Monday, 9 April 2012

Penguins



Rained all day, life was boring, so here are some penguins.....


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Sunday, 8 April 2012

Where's the Sunshine?



Early morn I ventured out looking for pictures while the streets were quiet.  Sadly the gray clouds overhead spoiled things somewhat.  I did attempt a shot of the golden owl grasping a black mouse with its beak but the light was too poor for a success.  From behind I did get a good shot of him looking towards the 1926 town hall, given by the Courtauld's, and recently refurbished. Why an owl on the drinking fountain I know not.  Old 'Frith' pictures show a light there but a skinny bird on top, possibly a thrush not someone out of the celebs pages.  By the seventies the light appears to have vanished but the owl has been there since I brought my presence to the town.  This too was expensively cleaned and renovated a year or so ago.  Now the town wasters hang out here, no not me!    




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Saturday, 7 April 2012

Sanity Saved, Slightly....




The blessed postman brought sanity this morning, sanity to some degree that is.  The language used by the operator on this laptop has been worse than that used by corporals discoursing on new recruits ability. The guilty party here is the speed, or the lack of it.  I suppose those who first used computers twenty years ago would have paid thousands for a laptop this fast, however we who are now spoiled by the massive improvements since that time consider this machine frustratingly slow.  And I was irked!  My neighbours noticed, I could tell by the way they avoided me....  
However I have put to good use Crucial's excellent scanner which searched my laptop and told me what RAM would fit.  This works well, and I have used Crucial happily in the past, and so today I inserted an extra 2GB of RAM, which arrived by post, and within three days, and now the speed has increased to normal!  This simple system, costing me a mere £10:79, has prevented me losing self control altogether, and allows me to work almost normally.  I of course use the word 'work' in a (very) wide sense.  Therefore I decided not to take the chainsaw to the 'self service' machine in Morrison's, you know, the who keeps telling me to insert my cash when I already have, and insists I remove my bag before she has returned my change, yes that one, I bet the bitch is divorced! Instead of offering vengeance to her I just paid attention to the football, which was rotten, all of it!  However the difference to my life when the computer does not work is difficult to describe, and new RAM has brought peace and happiness back to me, and Morrison's know about it.


I wonder if someone can install a couple of GB of Ram into me, I might have enough energy then to continue my new found happy existence?









Friday, 6 April 2012

Daff



Lots of bright yellow Daffs brightening the park this morning.  I am amazed at how bright the colour can be in the morning sun but find it difficult to photograph the things.  This was the only one looking my way, maybe the rest are shy? The usual Easter weather has arrived, the sky has turned gray with cloud, a chill is in the air, and yet some men still insist in walking around in shorts convinced it is summertime!  A long weekend is upon us, so it will be snowing by Monday.....


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Thursday, 5 April 2012

Choried Picture



I had to officer.  You see I needed a background picture on this laptop and after searching through the few I had I concluded none were suitable.  I decided I required a picture of the sea.  That would be relaxing yet involve a sense of movement at the same time.  I had nothing remotely suitable myself but it was clear where such a picture could be choried, as we say in Edinburra.  So of I went to the young lass who constantly offers pictures of sea, sand and sunshine, 'A.'  I would love to be by the sea again, I miss the haar, the seagulls squawking, although they do pass by here, the birds chasing back and forth as the waves hit the beach while they grab the beasties for lunch, the smell of the water and the relaxing attitude it leaves behind.  'A' has it outside her window.  Life is so unfair!   I could have travelled all the way to Perth in Australia where PDP also offers bright sunshine filled pictures of tanned happy folks beside a blue sea, but preferred the B&W version I found on 'A's blog.  

Thalata! Thalata!


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Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Another Day Out



The crops are beginning to show through now, as this pic taken from the speeding train shows.  The sweep of the fields always catch my eye, although it does not make for the greatest picture, especially when the sky is gray.  I listened to the messages Richard Branson and his MI6 friends give us secretly as we sped along, but mostly my attention was taken by the smartly dressed young lass who journeyed one stop only and the smell of disinfectant that came from an Asian man suffering a cold.  With my luck I suspect I will be a Man Flu disaster area soon.  Why do such people leave the house I ask?



The weeping willows appear to be bright intelligent trees.  If you must weep, weep into a river I say.  I did wonder about the drought at this point.  Farmers want water and here we have a full river, why not put it to use?  Rather than let it flow into the estuary use the water on the fields.  there must be a legal way of doing this?  No point in farmers, and ourselves, losing crops I say.

  
I am not keen on 'candid shots' of people, I see them as an intrusion, however I did wish a shot of this man's bike.  I would say it was somewhat overloaded myself, and the bag on the ground he had on his back!  Was he off camping?  is he one of the homeless?  Is this how he makes his living perhaps, a travel writer with an angle?  When I made my mammoth ride I had two saddlebags and as little as possible in them.  How much does he carry?  Is he a member of 3 para, stationed here, on his way home for Easter?  I found myself a little intrigued, but just looking at him and imagining the struggle up hill made me tired.  I climbed aboard the train and went home to bed.


The gratuitous train picture!  You all want to see one, admit it!  

  

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Monday, 2 April 2012

Balloon




Breakfast this morning was intruded upon by spies from MI6 watching what I was typing on the keyboard.  I think they may be taking this surveillance stuff a bit far now!  It's one thing to demand ISP's hand over the record, it's another that they actually watch you type, sneakily!  These balloon trips (starting from £99) often fly over us, usually at dawn or dusk.  Quiet enjoyable if you have money, are over 4' 6 inches, and under 20 stone.  Virgin Balloon Flights   Yon Branson will do anything for money his country, even give lifts to special agents spying on me!



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