Thursday, 31 May 2012

Propaganda



We believe what we read!

We live in a modern world with a ‘free press,’ and a host of communication systems.  We have several television stations offering news, sometimes 24 hours a day, many news radio stations, and newspapers in hand or online.  We can surf the net for independent thought regarding every happening of the day, foreign newspapers and media, bloggers, books, photographs, videos and live streams of events far and near.  All these allow us to reach independent opinions on the world’s events, but we still fall for ‘propaganda!’

We accept without deep thought anything put in front of us.  The majority in the UK watch the BBC for news, or scan a tabloid paper.  While the BBC and other TV and radio news agencies may have quality journalists among them this does not remove the inherent bias, and the news placed in front of us must be the choice of each editor, and editors follow the party line as much as the next man.  The Leveson whitewash inquiry has shown, as if we did not know, how one man's opinion is found throughout his newpapers.  An important world story, say regarding the present Syrian situation, might be considered an important world event but may pushed further down the agenda because a member of the royal family has fallen down stairs or a famous actor has died!  Millions, mostly women, would rather hear of ‘Kate’ wearing a new dress than a thousand Arabs having their throat cut.  News from a ‘far away country of which we know nothing’ is less important than Lady Gaga being banned from Malaya!  This is something the tabloids have always known.  The fake front page of any downmarket tabloid reads, “LADY GAGA STRIPS OFF,” and “FOOTBALLER CHARGED, ” while lower down in small letters, “World War III breaks out, see page 5.”  A remarkable example of this occurred in the small town of Bishops Stortford some years ago.  At a time when Glenn Hoddle was famously known to be manager of the England football team he was mentioned in the local paper as “Glen Hoddle, who used to own a sports shop in the High Street…..”  Local news is always more important than anything else.

The point is that while much presented is factual the choice of what we are shown is indeed limited to that which suits the media.  This gives us an overall impression of how they wish us to see the world, and this is not always to our advantage.  The ‘spirit of the age’ is both reflected and encouraged by the media.  Propaganda comes from news, drama, comedy on TV and radio as well as from news programme.  While they claim this media reflects society it also drives that society.  The 'Eastenders' show has gone worldwide teaching the generations watching that shouting abuse, immorality, hurting people and never smiling is normal.  While it may be the case in some areas it has never been the world in which I dwell.  And the 'East End' today is mostly full of Bangladesh types, and this is never shown, I wonder why?  The opinions of the media form propaganda and we let them without question offer it to us. 


During the Great War the papers were the only news media and the sole means of informing the nation of the progress of the war.  The press barons worked ceaselessly, to their own advantage, to support the nation by offering the propaganda that began with the war cabinet.  Writers tirelessly informed the nation to enlist and serve, and question those who don’t.  Many writers spent a great deal of their time writing in the American press in a desperate struggle to gain support, the French and Germans doing likewise.  It was one of these men, H.G.Wells, who came up with the phrase ‘The war to end wars.’  A notable but nonsensical phrase which has stuck in our minds to our detriment ever since. Much quoted it represents nothing about how the war was viewed at the time, but propaganda at its best keeps the phrase alive.  Lies and half truths stay with us, probably because we wish them to stay as we wish them to be true; even though we are well aware they are absurd.  Famously Lord Beaverbrook produced the ‘John Bull’ magazine.  This was well named as it was full of ‘Bull,’ while intended to inspire the men in their cause and stir the nation to work for victory it was detested by the men as it bore no relation to the war they knew.  On a trip to the ‘front,’ the press baron himself was photographed looking over a trench.  The noble Lord claimed to have “Been at the front line,” and “Looked over the top.”  Beaverbrook was in fact far back in what represented the third line of a quiet area, and even then was afraid to put his head over the top when encouraged to do so by the photographer, although this was regarded as quite safe at the time.  He passed an officer and corporal as he took up his position and alas did not hear the corporal ask “Shall I bayonet him now sir?”  Nor did he hear the reply, “No, that’s my job.”  Propaganda does not work among those who see reality.

During world war two the BBC resisted Churchill’s attempts to turn it into a propaganda machine.  Lord Reith had served in the trenches and was keen to ensure a fair and balanced news service.  While it served the war effort in many ways it refused, and still refuses, to be a government mouthpiece.  This brings many attacks from the government of the day, especially when the faults are paraded and policy questioned.  The BBC ended the war with much respect worldwide for the honesty it offered.  Many Germans soldiers have reported listening to the BBC reports in an effort to understand how things stood.  The had learned early not to believe their own radio.   The dictator must always control the TV and radio, and in the world today struggles to dominate the internet.  


However the ‘spirit of the age’ permeates the BBC.  The programmes are full of today’s opinions and these are often following fashion rather than a cross section of public opinion.  Several themes are seen to be offered at all times.  A ‘liberal’ view of the world is taken for granted; this is not surprising as media people tend to be liberal, as is the entertainment industry.   Programmes therefore push forward their liberal agenda. For instance, ’Great Lives,’ once an interesting programme on ‘great lives,’ now appears to be concerned only with homosexuals and lesbians, either as a ‘great’ or someone choosing to offer such an individual as ‘great.’  Maybe ‘Gay Lives’ would be a better name for this show, a preferable name to the well known gayboy presenter, and one time Tory Member of Parliament, Matthew Parris.

A more blatant attempt at propaganda has failed, yet still continues in Scotland.  The Glasgow football media during the last year have gone out of their way to indicate a man called Craig Whyte is responsible for all the problems at Rangers football club.  They have deliberately ignored Sir David Murray, the man responsible for the mess, while doing this.  To their shame all Scotland knows the situation yet the press persist in lying barefaced about it.  This as we know is because there are more Rangers folk buying the nonsense than anyone else.  Propaganda or sheer greed, you decide!  The media today is desperate to survive, newspapers are dying everywhere as the internet and TV/Radio speed the news direct into our homes.  What matters now is what sells and meaningless celebrities such as Gaga and Beckham sell more papers than a North Korean bomb falling on Seoul.  In my humble view dropping a North Korean bomb on Beckham or Gaga would cause me to rush out of the house to buy every paper that wrote about it, if only!   There is some suggestion at the moment that doctors may strike over the attacks on their pensions, I recall the ancillary workers striking in 1979 and the media propaganda of the day.  The press became full of wild headlines about people dying and patient suffering because of this strike.  A while later the junior doctors also struck, the media was then filled with many reassurances regarding the safety of patients!  Maybe patients were safer under the porters and cleaners?

We accept at face value what is written all too often.  Fear, disinterest, self concern, all leave us with a lack of appreciation of what is happening to the world around.  In 1914 Europe followed the imperialist, nationalistic spirit that arose during the late nineteenth century and that collapsed with the Great War.   We still follow what we are told by the world around us without thinking deeply about what they say.  Who informs us about the world?  What is their personal agenda, or that of their employer?  What are they NOT telling us about?  What is deliberately hidden by the reporter or the authorities.  How free and independent can an individual journalist actually be?  The political developments in Europe are beyond us, so we ignore them, the moral changes about us are ‘none of our business,’ and 'each to his own,' so we carry on regardless,  we are surely sleepwalking into the future accepting so much of what we are told, as if those who speak to us are trustworthy!  How many of us can perceive the world as she really is?  Do we care?        


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Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Bah!



So I continue the job search, full of zeal and enthusiasm.  Well as much as I can gather these days.  In one agency I used the word 'sedentary,' and was asked what this meant.  I can excuse the young lass as she may have been temping there herself, but she probably had several 'A' levels and some 'O' ones also I guess to get that job.  Yesterday another agency left a message on my ansafone questioning the CV I sent them.  This time the woman must earn around £25,000 a year and she also appeared to wonder what I meant by 'sedentary.'  I might have been the context but I wonder.  Today a different agency questioned my CV.  "I got your letter she said, but you did not attach the CV."  Yes I did dear, it followed after I signed the letter and said c.v enclosed.  It was all one long letter/c.v.  maybe it's just me.  However I do have a cunning plan that I may put into action soon.  Next week, after the long weekend is over and all the days off have passed, I will get the 'Work Programme' folk to actually do something.  I think there is a job but might need their help to worm my way in through a 'placement,' the trendy way to do things today.  I of course have had lot's of 'cunning plans' in the past wee while, and look where they got me......


And another thing, the tips of my fingers, both of them, are suffering from hammering away at this laptop!  I might soon have to wear gloves to type to prevent them becoming blistered and worn!  Bah!


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Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Dull Tuesday



The bright sun that enlivened the world has faded into gray, with added rain.  Quite how we survive in these appaling conditions I fail to understand.  People blessed with constant hot weather sometimes cry out for rain, pffft!  There is no pleasing some people!   This tree however appears pleased to have been here for some time, it reminds me of an Olive tree, surely it can't be, not here?  Judging by the trunks girth it has put on the weight since it first appeared, but how long ago I wonder?  Could it have grown from seeds left by the Roman chappies all those years ago?  Well no, there is a line of them carefully planted.  Are they really Olives or have I drunk too much coffee?

A combination of the lurgi and gray skies forced me to spend the day as a slob, much against my will!  The sleeps I had were purely for medicinal reasons and nothing else.  I fed my aches, looked for my brain and failed to find it, and read blogs that appeal.  I think they will appeal to your twisted intellects also.  Especially Robert's.  This man attempts to write short stories of a mere hundred or so words, and his mind 'meanders' into strange places he says, I think he is right in saying this.  It is worth browsing his blog for a moment.  I am convinced most people would wish to know more.  'Mulled Vine.'

The sight of large fat men and women showing how many pizzas they have stuffed into themselves through the winter has annoyed many of us.  I am quite happy to see thin female flesh in the park but recent days have found the cry "Cap'n Ahab! Thar she blows!" escape my lips just once too often.  Even Edinburgh with the perpetual Haar over the Forth and the gray skies desperate to blight the city has seen blue skies and sunshine I have heard.  This has brought out the chip supper and pizza lovers allowing the famous author Mike Smith to release his feelings on the subject.  This will win him much support, world wide I suspect.  Well not from fat folks.  I declare my interest in this in that I always keep my shirt on!  Read and enjoy 'Auld Reekie Rants.'

If however you wish to see the world in a new way you require a picture blog, of which there are billions!  There is one that gives a fresh eye on London that is always worth a look.  It's called 'Fresh Eye on London.'  Take a gander wontcha!

If however you are merely a man of culture and sophistication then I have discovered a site you dare not miss!  'Railscot.'  Men of culture and sophistication will love it!  


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Monday, 28 May 2012

Old Inn




I passed this intriguing building this morning but can discover little about its history.  It appears to have begun in the late 1600's and was converted to a pub in the early Victorian era, but exact dates are not clear.  I wonder if it began as an Inn and became a pub?  Or was it a house thus converted.  It was well situated for its purpose, lying on the North Road a short walk out of town travellers would be plentiful.  Just try to imagine a dusty well used lane, an occasional horse rider, a flock of sheep or cows heading to market, maybe even some kind of cart for the wealthy, people walking on their journey.  Difficult with such a vast array of bus, lorry and car traffic thundering past, small shopkeepers, Indian and Pizza takeaways and a mixed population today, very different from those long gone days of dusty roads.  An interesting frontage which surely must have been a house belonging to some well of bloke of his day.  It appears to be a well run public house today, whatever the history.  I couldn't afford to go in.....




A special shot for the rail commuters amongst us.  This is what that tin of sardines you endure morning and evening looks like after nine o' clock.  Those green things are called seats, you sit on them, although you may never actually get close enough to do even that I suspect.


  
And yes, as you have asked,  I did get a picture of this beast, a Class 47 as you will know, standing at the station awaiting developments.  Not sure what it is used for although there is often one parked up.  Overnight transport I guess for the E,S & W  goods stuff.  Innit luverly?


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Sunday, 27 May 2012

Early Morning



At seven this morning I found myself down by the old mill at Bocking. Today this once busy mill, look at the size of it, has been converted into delightful housing with a marvellous outlook, bar the busy road in front!  There is a bridge over the water at this point and it bares the old Bocking motif which includes  a dolphin.  These beasts are also found wrapped around the light thereupon.  Being so far inland these appear somewhat out of place, dolphins being scarce in this river.  However we must go back into the mists of time here and discus ancient church power.



The Archbishop of Canterbury is based in Canterbury, which is just as well after being called that.  Now from 1381 until 1396 William Courtney was that Archbishop.  The Courtneys were also the 'Earls of Devon' and adopted the dolphin, the symbol of Byzantium, as you know, to keep a connection with that city as one of them had been Emperor there no less!  Which one?  No idea, Google it.  The 'Priory of the Holy Saviour' at Canterbury was given authority over the church at Bocking by Aetheric Worthfulman and his wife Leofwin as far back as 1006.  Reasons are not stated.  In Church of England circles this is known as a 'peculiar,' no jokes please.  This means the church at Bocking is administered by the Archbishop of Canterbury rather than the local Bishop.  All very uninteresting to me but that is how it is and has been for over a thousand years.  The Fleur-de-lis was added later, the Courtauld's who we met before were responsible for this, and a town noted for weaving and spinning must have a 'Woolsack' also on the motif.




From this angle I am afraid the dolphin, which appears more like a fish usually, now looks more like a snake!  Still few notice as they hurtle past in their tin boxes.  The beasts crop up here and there around this part of town.



The Essex motif also on the bridge is shown here, three Seaxes on a red background.  This was the symbol of the old East Saxons who once reigned here.  The 'Seax' was a short sword much used by Saxons, and possibly the name derived from 'Saxon,' or maybe it was the other way around.  I never asked...



ps.  I have put the word verification back on for a bit, too much Mr anon again.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Closed Friday




Closed Friday as nobody ever reads on a Friday.



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Thursday, 24 May 2012

The Days of Long Ago/



In the days of long ago my sister got married, I know this because I was there and the poor husband has been whining about it ever since.  We took the novel step of recording the wedding ceremony, however you cannot hear his voice saying "I do," and he has attempted on many occasions since to claim the marriage was illegal.  The back of her hand has ensured him that it was legal. They moved out of Edinburgh to a small village where numbers of new houses were being built.  This was for the incoming employees 0f the new built 'British Leyland,' factory nearby.  Here they built Tractors and Lorries, and my brother-in-law had got himself a job as a storeman there.  I think it is important to mention that as the word 'village' brings with it a connotation of a close 'community,' that much misused word, small cosy houses, and a gentler pace of life I must point out that here in the depths of West LOthian life was not like that! That is because this was 'Glasgow overspill territory!'  Many came trundling from the west to work in the factory, where several thousand were employed at one time,  and the newly built houses, with all mod cons, and 'American styling,' or so they said, were within fifteen years or so mostly pulled down because of the cretins who inhabited them.  Decent enough houses in themselves but they were filled with people who ruined them.  Why is this?  Many house designs of the post was period were a result of too much Le Corbousier  (you spell it!) influence, sometimes well thought out, often hacked about to keep costs down, and rarely 'human enough' for people to live in.  Maybe it was the type of people who inhabited them, a subject for another post maybe.   My sister still happily lives there, having long ago moved from that particular part of the village, and has survived in spite of the occasional murder.  

When she moved in, that was in 1962/3 time, we noticed postcards for sale in the small shops that then stood in the main street.  All of them had been printed in the 1920's or 30's!   Naturally we laughed, bought them, sent them, and forgot them.  Had we kept them some postcard fanatic might have paid a lot of money for them.  But I doubt it!  I came across them again on a  site a while ago and sadly have lost the link.  It may be the town site itself, note the word town!  Maybe it is now.  This one shown features a Gala Day procession from 1913.  In those days it was common for towns and villages to have a Gala Day, and this practice still persists although in slightly more modern form.  In fact where I live we also have such an event, but usually I am clever enough to miss it!  In the Days of Long Ago parades through the streets were common.  Such days brought all the town groups out in their Sunday best to walk the length of the main street and have a picnic and games in the local park.  Miners with their banners, Church groups, Scouts and Guides, businesses and leisure organisations would happily parade in the sunshine   Fun for all the family, even drunk uncle Joe!  Apart from the Gala Day, usually called 'Miners Gala Days' in Scotland with regard to the one time shale and coal mines that once abounded, there are none who parade today bar the 'Loyal Orange Order,' and an occasional Irish opponent.  These are not fun days to look out for however.   Around this time of year many will participate, probably on the back of a truck, and the smaller 'communities' (that horrible word) will gather for a bit of a laugh for the kids sake.  Uncle Joe will be found in the 'Red Lion' however.......


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Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Anonymous Spam



Because by nature I am a sweet, kind, thoughtful sort of neanderthal I decided to lose the moderation and word verification bits.  Within 24 hours I was besieged by Spam!  The Moderation is now back on!  Mr 'Anonymous,' has so far offered me handbags, Jaques Vert, whatever that is and what looks like Russian porn.  Each day several attempts to spam old and new posts arrive.  To accompany this I note a rise in Spam on the e-mail also.  The Nigerian Prince must be in Jail at the moment as he has not been around for some time however several employment agencies wish to discuss executive jobs with me, some worth £30-50,000 at that.  Others offer me financial deals and several are keen to 'enlarge me,' for reasons I fail to understand.   It appears nothing can be done to stop the Spam industry, especially when daft folks actually buy from them!  I can appreciate people in the US buying cheap drugs form Mexico and Canada but are they genuine I wonder?  Are they safe?  The blue tablets might be genuine but you will only find out one way, and if not the real deal what will they do to you?  

In one sense I can understand legitimate companies offering their services this way, after all the leaflets that come through the door may annoy many folk but they do work!  That is why Royal Mail send three each week and wish to offer nine each week!  People buy from the leaflets, and Spam which appears genuine finds a buyer somewhere.  However much is junk, some dangerous, most porn.  I added the moderation at first because Chinese porn began to be a pest, the Chinese government soon after closed down thousands of such sites, but there are always others.  The Chinks did irritate by only offering their goods in Mandarin, which as you know appears only as little boxes for most of us.  Poor marketing their I think.    No doubt it will all fade away again, but until then the moderation remains,  and this also helps stop rude American males sending their greetings also.  That is useful innit?


Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Spring Sunshine



I wandered about this morning in bright sunshine and chilly winds.  I came across this bee making the most of one of my favourite flowers.  I like the blue flowers that appear at this time, then disappear for the rest of the year.  Maybe there is a purpose in this?  In the early seventies I watched a Bumble Bee on my windowsill brush the pollen (?) into the sacks on his legs and wished I had a camera capable of taking a close up of him.  Years later I had such equipment but never came across a suitable target!  Today I almost got my wish, although he just would not turn around and face me, too engrossed in his work to notice.  I marvel that this little camera can capture this shot however, digital is so much easier than fiddling with extension tubes!


Not a great picture but every pathway is covered with these.  Difficult to get a proper shot because of the way they lie, but I enjoy the slight aroma that comes along with them.  It rarely puts a smile on those passing by mind you!   


I went out in the afternoon dressed as per normal and was shocked to discover the heat was terrific!  The sun was shining, the sky blue, but it was actually hot!  Shocked was I.  It was so warm I had to return home and remove three of my pullovers.  Jings, Spring has sprung at last!  




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Sunday, 20 May 2012

Bomber Dies?




So, Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi is dead.  The man accused of the Lockerbie bombing passes away but the uneasy sense of injustice does not.  In spite of the decision of Scots Judges in the trial few believe this man committed this outrage.  Clearly, as we have stated before, a political stitch up has taken place to satisfy a sense of justice, and the result was that justice was not done!  Two points remain.  Evidence keeps 'leaking out' that Megrahi could not have been the bomber but few seek to investigate this.  What have the authorities to hide?  The other point is Captain Will Rogers action of downing Iran Air IR655, killing 290, including 66 children.  Ronald Reagan not only walked away from this event he awarded a campaign medal to Rogers.  How do the crew of his ship feel now I wonder?  Many Americans appear too keen to accept this man's guilt, yet many relatives have no belief in his being the bomber.  Too many questions still remain unanswered, I suspect it will be 50 years before answers appear.



The Heart Of Midlothian paraded the Scottish Cup before their millions of fans today.  Travelling through Scotland's historic capital the joyous throng cheered the magnificent men in maroon!  Oh how I wish I had been there with them (although they appear not to have missed me) and cried my eyes out with happiness.  Oh joy!  It is difficult to believe but there was a time I wondered if I would ever see Hearts win a trophy.  In 1962 I first stepped through the hallowed turnstile at Tynecastle Stadium and watched them defeat the Airdrionians by 6 goals to 1 and thought it would always be like this!  The sun shone, the sky was blue and the world seemed good.  That year we won the League Cup and it appeared to my mind that joy would always be mine!  The victories would keep coming and I would be there to see it!  However reality came into things.  After the fifties, when the Heart of Midlothian swept all aside, the sixties saw a change, a change for the worst.  After missing out on the League Championship in 1964/5 we entered upon a 'youth policy.'  This meant 'cheap!  (a lawyer was chairman!)  Then followed years of despair, as you will guess I was there, at almost every game!  Standing at Paisley, with the sleet hammering into our faces, we sang 'We shall overcome,' and lost three nil to a St Mirren side that got relegated.   I saw a great deal of Scotland at this time, and usually returned depressed! It wasn't meant to be like this!  It was 1998 before Stephan Adam (oh joy!) waltzed round the Rangers defence and smacked the winning goal home.  How we rejoiced!   Almost forty years we had waited for this, a phrase much repeated as we watched the open top bus slowly make its way through the crowds.  The pain had gone!  In 2006 we did it again!  And now we have won the Scottish Cup for the third time so few years!  (tears flow at this point) Who would have thought this would happen.  I give thanks to God he allowed me to support the Hearts, a proper football team, not one with scurrilous attitudes or reasons to be embarrassed. How grateful I am!

However we must take a moment to consider the Hibernian players and fans who suffered such a defeat yesterday.  After all the last time we met in the final, in 1896, we won that one also!  The wee team must despair at our constant success, and habit of trouncing them every time we play them, a habit that stems from the first encounter on Christmas Day 1875, we won that one nil.  Let us consider their pain, anguish, torment and despair thoughtfully.


  







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Saturday, 19 May 2012

Friday, 18 May 2012

Hmmmm.....



Around lunchtime I found the laptop to be very slow.  Not for the first time I must say.  This varmint does its best to annoy and irritate me.  That being so I just switched of and went out, grumbling, which is unusual for me.  However while the beast works at proper speed I note I have to sign in to things, and little oddities have arisen.  Hmmmm  have I been hacked?  They cannot steal money, there is only debts!  Or was it just one of those moments such machines develop I wonder?  Running the anti virus stuff made things no clearer.  Ho hum.....


On Saturday the biggest game EVER in the history of the Scottish Cup takes place at Hampden Park Glasgow, and I will not be there!  However all being well I can pick up the pictures on the web, and once again the Heart of Midlothian will defeat the wee team Hibernian to take the cup back home where it belongs.  Sadly (snigger) Hibs have not won the cup since 1902, the year Roosevelt (the first one)  became the first US president to drive around in a car (that's an automobile for our US friends).  It was also the year before man actually flew, before my father was born (1908), before two major wars and countless small ones.  The funny thing is these Hibs folks think tomorrow they will actually win this cup, and this from a side that has just avoided relegation! Ha Ha Ha!!!  


Thursday, 17 May 2012

Cats



Cats are good!  People who do not like cats are saddo's I say.  The cat is a highly intelligent, self possessed, self confident creation that brings fun, humour and affection to millions.  The cat is practical also.  If you have mice scratching at the skirting boards a cat sniffing around will keep them from bothering your cheese.   Spiders and flying beasties will not only keep the cat entertained and fighting fit the beasties will not bother you for long and they will help keep the cat fed.  Admittedly they have a problem with budgies and other flying creatures, often leaving them at your feet as a present, but we all have awkward hobbies.  My brother brought home a small black and white kitten when I was about two years old, 'Patchy' survived for 13 years.  When a kitten she managed to get out the window and clamber up to the fourth floor of the building where she got stuck.  The young lad in the flat there stretched out and brought her back in, never again did she go out the front door.  If we were talking to someone on the stair landing she might have a peek over the edge but approaching footsteps chased her back inside.  Surprisingly she was an excellent watchdog.  Sitting on the couch in that half asleep mode her ears indicated every noise that came near the stair door.  The neighbours coming and going was indicated by the ears going up but the eyes remaining closed.  However strange footsteps opened the eyes and the ears were fully active, no stranger could approach secretly.  My brother left to join the RAF and at one point had been away for about two years or more, however the minute his foot entered the stair door downstairs the cat shot off to await his arrival.  She was first to greet him as he opened the door.  Her most enjoyed hobby was at night, when all was dark and quiet, she would chase a marble we had left lying around up and down the long lobby.  This was before the days of carpets and we could hear the 'bull' rolling and a screeching of claws on the lino and a bump as the cat raced into the door at the end.  This would go on until Dad got annoyed and threw something, like Mum, at the cat.


Our next cat was half factory and half Persian.   My brother in law was given this at work when the factory cat had kittens, somehow it ended up with us, possibly because the kids were too young at the time.  This one lasted about 14 years also.  When we noticed the cat constantly drinking my young nieces tea we had to dedicate that cup for the cat, and he then demanded his cup of tea whenever we had one.  If we did not make that half cup of milky tea the brute would glare until he got his way!  He always did irrespective of whoever the guests might be.  One regret I have had is the impossibility of keeping a cat in the places I have stayed.  There again I would be suffering malnutrition if one lived here, the brute would eat everything and leave me nothing! 


  

Now who can fail to be impressed by this wonderful steam engine?  What an impressive sight!  The short clip is found at the end of the 'Daily Mail' item.  The writing is pretty inept, but sadly that is all too common these days in the media.  Rushed stories to fill space, lack of understanding of the subject, and too much space to fill.  The engine however does look good.  How I would love to hang around one of those preserved lines.  Excellent pictures on the article.  How could any human being not enjoy this?   

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Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Dawn Sunshine



A night of peaceful slumber, broken only by the town drunk yelling at his personal windmills, saw me wake twenty minutes before six. The bright sunshine brought out the deep green in the grass all across the park.  Birds chirruped as they danced through the branches, nibbling the buds on the trees, high overhead an airliner sped east, leaving an ever so slight trail across the bright blue of the morning sky.  I decided to rise, threw aside the newspapers that I had kept to keep me warm all night, and left the damp park bench in search of breakfast.  
Having fought two crows and one raven over the leavings from a polystyrene food container I reached for the bike and decided this might be a good day for exercise.  Before leaving I checked the e-mail and slung a cup of cheap tea down my throat.  Actually slung was the correct word as I dropped it and spilt tea all over the laptop! "Dearie, dearie me," I said.  That explains the tea stains on the page you are reading.  
While the rising sun blinded those heading towards its rising this did not prevent the north wind from chilling my hands as I raced slowly along the old railway line.  I was so early only two dogs were walking their owners at that time.  This fine brown horse awaited me as I neared the village, although to be fair, he neither awaited me nor was interested in me, and he refused to show me his best side.  His mate, not shown, is not shown because he made a point of showing me his worst side, and emphasising this in what I would call a needless manner!                                                
 The farmhouse in the distance is typical of many houses around here.  From what I can gather some go back many, many years although inside they are sometimes much adapted as they are not always that large.  The mud caked floor tends to be expensively tiled, sometimes old flagstones still exist.  I notice that the rooms were usually small and wonder how many would live in such a place?  The occupants would most likely be the 'better sort,' so imagine what the farm labourers possessed!   Some look very good indeed but the half million required to buy one is quite steep, and these houses are usually right on the roadside, this was fine in 1750 with an occasional highwayman, herd of cattle or stage coach passing, not so fine with boy racer and his mates today I warrant.
Later I took my stiffening muscles to 'Chris & Jim's' to take a weight of my mind by having my hair cut.  I was surprised they remembered me as it has been so long since I entered the place.  By far the best barbers around, and it is no wonder they are popular!  It does however appear to me that  one of the few shops that open and survive are hairdressers or barbers!  There must be nearly two dozen around here, mostly aimed at women of course, but today men appear so fussy over their hair.  Footballers show their increased wages loosens their fashion sense by appearing on the field in wilder and wilder hairstyles.  The more absurd they appear the more likely some twat will copy them.  Of course young players not only copy fashion the hair identifies them on the field, and a good game will be noticed by those that matter.  An old trick which still works.  Proper men of course just let their hair grow Hippy style, although we did worry about 'split ends' a lot......


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Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Suspicious Bird



I have met a few suspicious birds in my time, for some reason few appear willing to trust my intentions.  The big Crows that live in the park trees are always moving off when passers-by approach, while the Goldfinches and Blue Tits rush off at high speed, especially when they catch me at the window spoiling their feed from the remaining nuts hanging there.  The Blackbird sitting here was watchful as I approached, no nearer than ten feet, but the wee camera did OK here.  You will of course know that Blackbirds are the first to break the quiet in the early morn.  Blackbirds, then Robins, then Thrushes I believe open up the dawn chorus because their eyes are larger and more susceptible to the first light, or so I hear.  It sounds true because when I was a postman I left here at four thirty in the morning, long before you lot left the dream factory, and as I turned the corner a blackbird would sing out at the far end of the street, then another at this end and before I had gone fifty yards they were all at it.  A right cacophony of birdsong, and delightful it was too!  Whether the intention was to waken the dead or just remind their neighbours that this was their patch is unclear, while the amount of noise from one small bird is amazing.


Monday, 14 May 2012

Friday, 11 May 2012

Clouds



Today the sun returned to greet us and pretend it was the month of May.  In spite of the snow falling in the Grampians we found large areas of blue showing between the clouds.   Such a change after days of gray fluff hanging above us and happily drenching the unwary with sudden downpours.  Today I sat and watched the vast clouds in the distance.  As I have said before having spent so many years in concrete London where the sky is seen only by looking straight up I still find pleasure in watching the clouds in a blue sky.  Today their movement was hastened by a brisk wind.  Chasing my cap assured me how brisk this was!  So I sat and watched the cloud formations in the distance and marvelled at the sheer size of the things.  Climbing thousands of feet into the air and often stretching for miles, continent wide on occasion.


When I first came out here I realised why John Constable spent so much time painting clouds.  He  dwelt, in some comfort I should say, about thirty minutes drive for here, well thirty minutes if you drove like my driver did that time.  'Scuse me while I breathe deeply for a moment.  He (Constable) spent much time sketching and painting clouds.  Possibly he wondered what created them and blamed the industrial revolution for polluting the planet and creating global warming, possibly not.  Possibly he just painted and got on with his work.   



Why I wonder are they so flat at the bottom but not in the middle?  Could this be to let planes take off without hitting them, as some of us once loudly told one another while watching planes depart at Gatwick. "It's so the planes don't get scratched," we said, much to the irritation of anoraks listening in to pilots radio messages on their handsets.  Apart from the Daily Mail' who regularly post pictures of clouds that look like the UK, or a giraffe or Jesus, it is possible to become entranced by the shape of clouds.  Wind currents play about with them sometimes making intriguing patterns.  There again, maybe I have just spent far too much time indoors this week....?

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Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Tuesday Tittering!



Sadly having been busily engaged in doing the thousand and one things required to scrub clean the condominium in search of a healthier environment, walking in search of some fitness, searching for dead soldiers and finding one or two lying about, and since hearing the news regarding American Bill Miller pulling out of the deal to save Rangers form oblivion, I have been laughing so much I cannot post.  So you will have to do with a picture of a 'Clutterbups.'

The bones creak from what went before but the sides ache from this news.  Now why would an American wish to buy a football team he has never heard off,playing a game he has never played and knows nothing about, in a nation he has never visited?  Now he says he has received abusive e-mails from Rangers fans!  Lucky man, some of us have to meet them to receive abuse!  Some of course might say he was a 'chancer,' dealing with the administrators of the tax avoiding club, who are also 'chancers,' while they attempt to sort the mess left by the 'chancer' who saw his chance to make money by he had billions, when in fact he did not, by buying the club from the main 'chancer' who had run up millions of debts and ran away, supported by his lackeys in the media.  Of course I could be wrong here.....  

Here is the latest on Bill Miller, whoever he was!  The Washinton Post also mentions this story, the Tennessee Towing Tycoon runs for home after being told 'Yank go home!' Sadly Bill has no idea of the type of people he was dealing with in Glasgow.  A proper understanding of the situation would have saved him much abuse. What an embarrassment this whole escapade has become.  Yet in spite of it all the press friends of David Murray enjoy their succulent lamb and still refuse to attack the shambles.  Had it been any other club then some journalism might arise, but not for Rangers.  What a disgrace to Scotland this has become.  'Yank go home' for your own sake!

Just published, Douglas Fraser speaks with some credibility here.


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Sunday, 6 May 2012

Quality Architecture



Early this morning I trundled around on a bike with a soft back tyre.  The incessant rain hindered my health regime and while just sitting there gathering dust the tyre has slightly softened.  I should fix that - soon.  I attempted to avoid the stiff breeze which naturally was always against me but the route did take me past this!  We could pay a guessing game as to what it is used for but being bright you would soon guess I guess.  This aged town has a few interesting houses, some going back several hundred years, a lot of steady Victorian buildings, and large modern housing estates.  Occasionally objects revealing the past occupation come to light and I wonder if this is one of them?


Today this ramshackle tin hut is used as a garage, often a variety of vehicles can be seen parked on the area to the left of the picture.  Always appears busy when I pass and some heavy vehicles are parked there, possibly he specialises in those.  Down the side you can see what once were windows.  I suspect the building of the housing estate in the fifties led to stone throwing brats in the sixties. This has led to corragated iron over said window and darkness inside since then.  It must be pretty cold working there are the whole front of the building opens up to allow access.  Heaters etc are seen inside when passing but even so.  A real workshop, of the type now outlawed by Health & Safety legislation and rare in large garages.  I suspect the two men suffer as it is their business, and possibly enjoyment also.  Rather akin to places that existed fifty years ago.   


Two strange happenings as I scribbled this tonight.  The first was the deep pink glow in the sky far off.  This is the first sunset noted round here for a while.  The red lurking behind the trees indicates a good spell of sun tomorrow, and we need that in this area.  The other thing is aircraft!  Two friends of mine, an extended family of which I am a part and to which I owe a great deal, are flying off to Thailand via Delhi tonight.  By means of Flight Radar a very interesting device, I was enabled to track that they took off on time.  Ten minutes late on an Indian airline is good going in my book.  Tracking the flight I noticed the flight plan took then right over my head!  Possibly the pilot does not know where India is situated, or maybe it's a woman driver.  Anyhow fifteen minutes after take off I could here them pass overhead at just over 17000 feet and heading for 400 miles an hour.  A strange thought that they were so close, and being father and son I suppose they are close, sitting next to one another I mean.  Twenty years ago the idea of tracking aircraft in flight, (they are at this moment at 33,000 feet and travelling at 570 mph just north of Osnabruck) was laughable, in fact it might not have been available to the public ten years ago!  The wonders of the micro chip and the benefits thereof are many.  As i wake around six tomorrow morning they will be attempting to fight their way through the airport in Delhi to catch their connection.  I might think off them there, if I can keep the eyes open. 



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Saturday, 5 May 2012

St Peter's




As I pushed my way through the crowds in the market today I passed a few African types proffering leaflets.  These were regarding their recently established church.  I pondered when they first arrives a while ago quite what made them settle in this town.  For a start I found when I came here some time back that this was a very 'white' English town, a surprise to me after twenty years in Notting Hill!  Why did a small group of Africans begin a church here?  Today there in fact two 'African' dominated churches, and one of them at least contained several illegal immigrants.  This was exposed at a social evening when a young lady indicated in mid conversation that she worked for the Customs people, turning around she noticed half the crowd that were behind her had disappeared!  The churches no doubt are genuine enough, but some amongst them may have a different view of their 'social' role.  Possibly that is why they began their own church rather than do the obvious an check out those already up and running.  The point I am aiming for is almost here so yawn with your mouth shut.


Churches begin for a variety of reasons.  English churches often began on pagan spots when the Romans were around, wooden churches were raised under the Saxons, the Normans altered those with stone, later many Lords decided to build their own, to stop them mixing with the lower orders I suppose.  A variety of reasons saw 'parish' churches and non conformist churches to develop.  Theological differences and Pride often split churches causing new ones to emerge, as indeed did personal ambition.  In Victorian days 'Livings' as they were called, were often controlled by the most powerful man, or organisation, in the district.  Anthony Trollope wrote about the infighting of the Mid Victorian Anglicans in his delightful book 'The Warden,' and several others that followed.  We have reached the point at last, sip coffee, sit up straight and listen.  St Peter's Church came into being because a rich woman fell out with the vicar of the parish church.  That is why the building stands there, in what was once a field on the edge of town!  That is the crux of this tale.






Miss Frances Wakeham was the daughter of the Rev Perryman Wakeham, most probably vicar of St Michael's the parish church.  Certainly the house in which she resided, 'Marshall's' was very large, with an extension added in 1850 that was bigger than most houses in the area at the time, and vicars in those days were very well off indeed.  The vicarage opposite the church, mentioned some time back, possibly arose when this lady moved into her Big House, set in the mid century in pleasant gardens of some size. This lady, as was common in that age, most likely knew her social importance.  Indeed she also was a granddaughter of a man who had once been Dean no less!  However there came a time long after her father had gone the way of all vicars when a dispute arose.  The residing vicar of St Michael's wished to 'move tombs' for reasons not stated, possibly hygienic or to improve the grounds, although this is unclear. Whatever the disagreement it appears she lost out, and possibly revealed the reason she remained a spinster all her life, her personality, her attitude.  Maybe she was indeed to be found in a 'Trollope' novel?  It was said she claimed she would 'Pay the vicar back,' and her Christian commitment was such that when she died she indeed did do this! 


The blessed lady left £4500 (and this is 1893 we talk about) to the church.  However she did not give it to the parish but ensured it went elsewhere.  Now this town actually is two separate towns joined as one in the 19th century. The Roman road that runs through the town separates the two halves and the parish to the north came under an Anglican 'peculiar.'  A what?  It appears the way Anglicans run their organisation means that a church is tied to a local cathedral, the home of a 'Bishop.'  However for historical reasons that are two complicated to understand the northern parish, under St Mary's, belongs to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and is described as a 'peculiar,' as indeed are many Archbishops. Quite what he wishes to do with it is not made clear.  However the money was provided specifically to establish a new church.  


Now spiteful Frances, (Can I call you 'Fanny?' What.....Oh!) realised that St Mary's is some distance from the Roman road and the parishioners required a new church nearer the road, especially as the town was growing apace.  The English way was to have people attend a local parish church rather than the nearest.  To prevent some slipping over the border into St Mikes parish she arranged for a new building close by.  By insisting the church was built within two years or the cash went elsewhere she ensured a rapid building process would follow.  The first service took place in 1897, in a building designed for growth.  Holding some three hundred seated, but designed for alteration to 600 when the time came, St Peter's now has a strange, indeed ugly, look.  The interior they say is excellent, but I have to take their word for that.  An effort has been made to ensure the grounds are neat, and the rain has enabled the plants at least to flourish.  Much of the land once given (half an acre 'given' by one Mrs Southcott) has been sold for housing, and that of a decent quality.  




As with all things life changes in ways not expected.  The church continued but the growth did not. The population stopped growing, War arrived and changed attitudes to all things, the cash to add the tower, let alone the expansion, never materialised.  The church was left with a stunted look on the outside, somewhat similar to many houses I noted built in the thirties back home.  Nowadays this 'Anglo Catholic' church attempts to play its part in the town.  The bells ring when folks get married, services are held, and a vicar has been appointed once again.  The crowds however do not come.  A church cannot be established unless the good Lord sets it up himself.  Man's ambition, personal desire, theological debates, and pride, as here, are not good grounds for God's Kingdom.  He himself must inspire the creation of a church, not a dispute regarding tombs.


The Dean who laid that must have been strong!


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Thursday, 3 May 2012

Rainy Thursday




I sit here perusing the things done today while the rain pitter patters on the window once again, and I cannot remember what I have done today.  It has been quite busy but for the life of me nothing appears to have changed in here.  The 'To Do' list is now approaching its second volume, so I have not touched that, the carpet is gray with dust, so no hoovering, and the sink blocked with dishes, so that's normal.   What did I actually do?  I wrote a couple of e-mails to intelligent folk, begging, perused the press and was depressed by it, bought milk and bread and argued with the woman in 'Morrison's.'  Actually I argued with the 'self service' machine.  These brutes always go wrong for me, and this one is particularly bad.  Not only is it badly designed, possibly by a 'work experience' teenager, wearing headphones and a sulk, but the woman nags all the way through and at the wrong times.  The bag is to far from the basket of goods, the voice constantly tells you "Please wait for an assistant," although you are not aware of any fault, and of course it will not progress until a long suffering assistant arrives. 
"Place item in the bag," the ratbag says in that irksome voice. 
"IT'S IN THE B-A-G!" In inform her, "Please wait...."  
Eventually I enter four items only into the bag, choose, under her direction (three times) how to pay, enter the cash, once I have worked out how to, into the appropriate slot which doesn't look appropriate to me,  and stand there awaiting action. 
"Please enter your cash......"
"It's in woman, as your head will be soon!"
Assistant enquires wearily, and rushes of to other machine as "Please wait....," rings out. 
A short eon later the change arrives, the receipt pops out, just after "Please take your bag."
I head for the door muttering. 
 "No wonder your man left you, divorce was not enough, drowning in the bath would be better."   "Please take your bag" 
"I've got the bag woman!"  
"Thank you for shopping at Morrison's." 
"Get lost!"
Those smiling checkout girls at Tesco look better to me as I wander away, muttering......


Maybe now I know why I did so little after that......


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Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Now look....!



Enough is enough!  Being weaned in Edinburgh I am used to rain.  Gray skies are my birthright!  However I do think this constant gray sky and rain is a bit much.  Now as you know I amnot one to complain, and I am grateful this rain makes up for what we have missed, and this will benefit us all when Farmer Jones gathers the crops, however I could do with sunshine again.  We had some yesterday while travelling to Chelmsford, and more on Monday so I am grateful for that, but it seems to never end, a bit like a normal Edinburgh summer really.  Having endured the '76 drought in smoggy London, and having been evicted chosen to move to the country I expected that sunshine, green views, peace and quiet and all day long blue skies would be mine out here in the wilderness.  However the 'driest county in England' proved, during my time as a postman, to be a lie.  As indeed was the idea that Essex was flat, I can tell you it aint mate!  However this constant gray skies, rain, and smiling weather forecasters warning that more, much more is to come, and from the freezing north at that, then I begin to think it is time to be peeved.  Now the advantages of rain is to be seen everywhere.  The park is covered in Daisy and Buttercup (the flowers not Farmer Jone's milk cows) as you can see.  This is wonderful to me, and attracts lots of wildlife, at least those that have not been drowned or frozen already!  Only people who have to cut the grass object to such rain!  I watched some Starlings bounce off the tree in the park and flounce around like House Martins.  Lovely I thought, but when the rain, and it will be torrential, comes tonight where will they nest?  Mrs Blackbird passed me earlier, her beak stuffed with hay like items, heading for her nest, I wonder how she will fare tonight?  I cannot understand how birds survive in such times?  Some will however.



As you bring out the galoshes cogitate on these:-


Jesus loves you. Nice to hear in church, terryfying to hear in a Mexican prison

How many Spanish guys does it take to change a light bulb? Just Juan.

Two negatives make a positive but only in Scotland do two positives
make a negative - "Aye right."

After announcing he was getting married, a boy tells his pal he will be
wearing the kilt. "And what's the tartan?" asks his mate.
"Oh, she'll be wearing a white dress," he replies.




 

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