Monday, 30 September 2013

Sunday, 29 September 2013

London Observed

The above photograph was taken by a sweet young photographer a wee while ago.  You will realise that this picture came to her 'eye' as she wandered that area of London made famous by the 'Jack the Ripper'murders of the late Victorian age.  Jack has of course been named since the murders took place, named about fifteen times but so far no-one has produced conclusive proof, yet they still try.  Any way this barber/hairdresser had the right idea.  I have in mind a chip shop or fishmonger also can be found there, 'Jack the Kipper,' but I may be confused.

Anyway, Steph, the young lass who is the photographer has an excellent blog with a great many wonderful pictures called 'Little London Observationalist,' and I think you ought to peruse this. Now her talent has been awarded with an opportunity to show her pictures for a week in a gallery.  Naturally she is excited about this and naturally she requires cash to get the thing on the road.  Naturally I have deleted her. 

However those of you who like pictures of London, and not just the usual run of the mill stuff, may well enjoy forcing yourselves to look at her results.  The 'arty' types will enjoy much of what is on offer, and the rest can laugh at the pictures of folks attending the London Fashion show. On the other hand they might just have been passersby of course, London being what it is!  So as it is not everyday we get the chance to show off our talent, and many excellent photographers are among yous out there I must say, it would be nice if some support, in words at least could be thrown the girls way. This explains all:  My First Solo Exhibition

Sadly my pension is limited so I er, well, whisky is so expensive these days and I was not well, and what with the heating and .....

KickStarter Exhibition


Saturday, 28 September 2013

The Web!

Surely that is what they mean by 'the web...?'
Quite how the spiders connect via an ISP I know not.  However as several have made their home on the telegraph pole it appears there must be some method available.  Note also we refer to a 'telegraph pole' yet the 'telegraph' as such no longer exists.  What do we call these things now I wonder?

During the last week I have made use of the web, mostly to listen to the 'wireless,' although that today must be called the 'radio.'  There again as many listen to the 'radio' via their mobile phone can we call it 'radio' any more?   I am getting confused now.  When I use the laptop to listen to the radio, via a wireless connection, am I using a 'radio' or a 'wireless?'  I am beginning to blow a valve, bring back the old certainties I say!

The radio I listen to mostly is BBC Radio 4, Radio 4 Extra or Factual, BBC World Service, or even Murdoch's TalkSport (who's link doesn't work for me!). World Service News until recently has been the best in the world. The cutbacks have reduced this somewhat, especially early in the morning when 'Daybreak,' an African 5Live style offering appears instead of the proper news programmes that once held sway.  Still some news programmes run during the day and have proper journalists most of the time.  The usual liberal BBC policy drives the choice of subjects and narrows the spread of news somewhat I find.  I have tried other nations radio stations, in English as my Finnish, Russian and Serbo-Croat is somewhat lacking, but not as much as my command of English of course, some offer a good news service but usually at limited and awkward times.  In days of old I often spent hours listening to the Eastern European stations under Communist control.  The slanted viewpoints, boasting of successful agriculture, factory output (how many tractors we made today) and diplomatic successes, came over as interesting in comparison to the views expressed by western media.  I suspect their radio stations are better these days, at least the newsreaders will not have rumbling stomachs like the Romanians and Bulgarians used to suffer!  Some US local news stations, the type named after leftover 'Scrabble' letters, offer five minutes of screeching adverts followed by one minute of extremely fast 'news,' then it returns to the ads.  I heard several like this, mostly in New York and the like, and wondered what the point was?  If you cannot make out the words because the speech is so fast and the majority of the hour is adverts i have to ask why bother?  Better US stations always begin by asking you for money, something you cannot do in the UK.  It would never work!   

Radio 4 is filled as you know with Middle aged, Middle class females telling us their many problems, which reflects greatly on the women who arrive on here, they always appear so normal so why does the Beeb look for this particular hung up type I ask?  However in amongst this we can find a great many decent programmes, especially if we use the 'Programmes A-Z bit.  I often do this and the documentaries on radio have as you know better pictures than those on the telly.  History is very well covered alongside a wide variety of topics, I particularly like those many short 15 minute programmes that have appeared in recent years.   This week I discovered the story of a female Chinese Emperor, some things about Henry VIII and a tale regarding H.V. Morton the travel writer.  Some are available for a week only, others hang around for a year! Radio 4 Extra and the Factual stations also offer past titles, 'Extra' dealing in Comedy where I find 'Hancock' and 'The Goons,' regularly offered.  All such making a change from the drivel that fills the majority of daytime TV and Radio. So many radio channels offer nothing but music, and usually at a time when I wish to hear something spoken.  It is most irritating that these people do not appear to cater for me specifically which is disappointing, although the web now makes a better choice available through searching.

When lying in bed I usually listen to the wireless.  Radio 4 may offer the 'Shipping Forecast,' which can lull one to sleep after the midnight news or wake you gently just after five in the morning.  Many non sailors are keen to see how 'Forties,' or 'Cromarty,' will do today.  "Easterly 5,  Moderate, Rain, Poor," are just the words required to delight or terrify those who go down to the sea in ships.  Usually we struggle to comprehend what they mean but the chaps in small craft, fishing boats and the light still listen in spite of all their modern equipment so it clearly serves a purpose still.  Alvar Lidell was a famous BBC announcer who spoke the Kings English properly as you should, he I think it was, would end the shipping forecast with "Good fishing gentlemen," or some such phrase, as in those days vast numbers of trawlers worked the seas. Such niceties are less common today, as indeed are the fishing boats. Often I switch this off and turn to 'TalkSport.'  As the laptop cannot offer this it means the radio, or is that a wireless I wonder?  This station offers 'Sport,' usually football with occasional other things thrown in at quiet times.  Owned by that nice Rupert Murdoch I find that whenever I switch it on the adverts are running. The adverts, always loud and bolshie and often with an English working class voice' to sell it to the people, take up so much space because it means the presenters don't have more time to fill I suspect.  After the ads come the ads for the stations programmes themselves in the usual Murdoch loud and empty boastful manner.  The major topic is always the top four football sides, the rest not counting to hacks, and the main story of the day, whether real or imaginary, will be discussed in urgent fashion for hours, long after those involved have forgotten it.  'White van man' is a regular contributor, calling from his mobile phone on an unintelligible line at three in the morning to make his point concerning a player or club.  His knowledge is lacking, he clearly knows nothing, and yet he makes more sense than the presenters, possibly because the line keeps going down!

Cultural folks like you and me will turn to the BBC iPlayer and search BBC 3's site where music abundant is found as well as sensible (?) programmes on the Arts.  My favourite is 'The Essay,' where fifteen minute programmes discuss various subjects.  The Anglo Saxons offered many worthy fifteen minutes which I enjoyed thoroughly, most are still available and well worth a listen.  Since this quality station has so few listeners, it has a certain (deserved) snob approach to classical music and life in general, many despise it, however again a little digging brings success.  One day I hope to hear my clever musical niece playing in an orchestra here.   She is playing a part in Messiaen - Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum, making a noise on Tubular bells I believe.  At least I hope that is the same thing that she is involved with, they all sound the same to me I sometimes get confused by the foreign names.  

I would bore you with more but instead I am off to bed to listen to a variety of foreign stations in an attempt to find something I like.  


Friday, 27 September 2013

The Man Flu Diaries

Is that daylight out there?  In spite of intense suffering I have improved my situation from my Monday photograph where I was at deaths door to reach the satisfactory situation found today.


You see today I am eating again!  Not only this but early this morning I made it to Sainsburys and now have tea with milk for the first time since Tuesday! What a difference, not that I cared until 9am today at least.  

What a horrendous week this has been.  My empathy for those with chronic pain has grown once again.  My ability to fail to sleep for 48 hours has impressed me.  The fact that ignoring the news has not changed the world one bit tells me something else also.  Paracetamols, three at a time, failure to remove the throat pain was a surprise!  The requirement to have 'Cockaleekie Soup' on standby has also been noted.

My thanks Lee for your generous offer to fly over from Queensland to make such soup for me.  I am sorry the ticket failed to arrive but the cheque appears to have bounced!

All references to Man-Flu by the female world appear full of sarcasm and cynicism.  The need for a comparison with childbirth fails to ring true with me.  Childbirth happens daily and they are always happy about it, no man likes Man-Flu!  Tsk!

It's good to be alive, but only just.

Oh, and I've just found this newspaper report!


Monday, 23 September 2013

Saturday, 21 September 2013


The above is a picture of Goldsboro, North Carolina, USA had the bomb dropped from a crashing B-52 exploded when it fell out of the sky!  The 1960's were not a good time for American bombs, they fell not only on the USA itself but also into the sea off Spain and probably elsewhere on areas not yet revealed by whistleblowers.  
During the late 50's and early 60's Inter Continental Nuclear Missiles had not reached a sufficient degree of development.  Therefore B-52's and other giant aircraft flew in formation over the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic Circle on a flightpath that took them close, oh too close, to the Soviet airspace.  The Soviet 'Bear' bomber of course did exactly the same in reverse.  The RAF have many photographs taken from 'Lighting' fighters that intercepted such planes as they crossed towards our airspace.  Usually the crew are pictured waving to one another, such flights all part of the game and they all knew it.  President Putin reinstated such activities recently in an effort to make Russia once again appear as a powerful force.  It does not really succeed in doing so, but the home public like it.
On the 23rd January 1961 the B-52 went into an uncontrollable spin, the pilot (apparently) released the bombs, possibly as part of training routine, and allowed them to fall over North Carolina.  Whether he considered the heads of the people below when he did so is not recorded. One bomb fell safely to earth the other underwent action stations!  Having been dropped this bomb, with a capability 260 times more powerful than the 'A'-Bombs that fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the bomb understood it had been dropped on purpose to attack an enemy.  The Mark 39 Hydrogen Bomb went through all the arming procedures required bar one, two of the arming routines failed because the B-52 was breaking up when released, one successfully activated when it fell but a low voltage switch failed preventing the bomb exploding and Goldsboro and much around it vanishing from the earth.  'Friendly fire; from American forces is something British troops have known since the Great War, such 'friendly fire' on US soil is taking things a bit far surely. 
Was it General la Fey the man in charge of the air force during President Eisenhower's time in office?  I only ask because after beginning the flights with fully loaded 'A' and Nuclear Bombs he forgot to tell the president he was doing so.  It was a case of him not 'needing to know,' after all he was just a politician!
I wonder how many Soviet incidents like this lie unreported?   


Friday, 20 September 2013

A Better Bus....

A better bus took me to Chelmsford, one of the dullest towns known to man.  The main street has been pedestrianised and today contained several stall offering the usual fruit and veg, bread, cakes and stuff.  None offered coffee funnily enough but 'Costa' cafes appeared every few minutes.  Another wasted search for that jacket, although I did find a chap with a similar search to me.  Neither of us have been satisfied by the major stores.   

Coffee was provided, for £1, at the excellent stall in the Market however.  Not as good as the Colchester chap but better than overpriced 'Costa!'  I prefer such places as this.  

The old entrance to the Essex County Buildings reflects the Edwardian elegance and pretentiousness considered so important at that time.  Around the corner the new portion of the building reflects the modern pretentious style.  I much prefer this door!  Clearly this building did not satisfy the needs of the populace, or their councillors at least as an addition was added in 1929

It is of course the panel on the right indicates Chelmsford Council however I canny find any information on the building and at the moment have too little time to search.  Quite why a rams head, if indeed it is that, sits above the letters I know not, there again there is no reason for another ram or what might be a vulture above the date 1929.  That was of course the year of the Wall Street crash so I hope the builders were paid before people started to throw themselves from 67th floor windows.  I checked the pavements round about but they were no worse than normal.

Along the old canal I wandered, strengthened by the coffee and discovered 'Boris the Spider' hard at work under the road bridge.  My knowledge of such beasties is somewhat limited, usually limited to crying "AAAARGGGH!" and running away, so I am not clear as to the real name of this one.  I have seen lots of these around here and usually have a couple on the windows living of other beasties.  You can keep this one if you like....  

I am much happier disappointing the ducks by not feeding them.  This lot were ganging up to threaten a toddler for his lunch just before I arrived.  Once he had been deprived they looked for other mugs.  I never expected to find a large pond in this area.  An excellent feature and much more interesting, when the sun shines, than the High Street and its crowded shops.  In Primark, a place I never entered before, I discovered an imitation Harris Tweed like jacket for £28.  Not far away a similar jacket, made with slightly better 'Tweed,' cost more than twice as much at a 'reduced ' price.  It crossed my mind that the same sweatshop slave earned fourpence for making both.

Running across the top of the park lies the Liverpool Street Railway.  High above on this excellent viuduct the trains run several minutes late regularly, especially at rush hour when people jump in front of them or lorry drives crash into the weaker bridges!  It was not possible to get the whole thing into a photo, it continues behind and into the distance, but the number of bricks is very impressive and a credit to the men who erected in during Victoria's reign.

As I said goodbye to the ducks that followed in a forlorn manner I headed back towards the bus station grasping my Free Bus Pass tightly in my hand.  However I was distracted by a statue in the distance that at first I thought referred to the Theatre that stands nearby.

With the light right behind the poor souls head it merely leaves him a dark silhouette but this man holding the 'lightning flash' in one hand and what looks like an old fashioned phone in the other is Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor of 'wireless.'  He in fact was not the actual inventor but he did play a serious development role and created a successful factory in the town that survived until recently.  It may still be found as part of GEC, if that has not died also.  You may recall him as the chap who sent a wireless signal across the Atlantic to Newfoundland, in spite of opposition from the men running the Telegraph system!  
Naturally I missed the bus!  As I approached I noticed the bus maneuvering about in a tight space.  Quick thinking, and a fast walk against my will, took me around the corner to the next stop which I reached, puggled, by the time the driver had made it past the traffic lights.  I was quite proud of my quick thinking.  I could tell by his snigger the driver had watched my attempt at speed and did not mistake me for that Bolt fellow.

I snatched this picture of the 'St Annes Castle' as we sped along because I noticed the sign on the other wall claiming that this was 'The Oldest Inn in England,' with a date that I think may have been possibly 1171.  I began to wonder how many other 'Oldest' Inns there may be, there is always a pub claiming to be the 'Smallest,' and how many can claim 'Elizabeth Ist Stayed Here!' Claims such as these have limited evidence but one of the must be right.  Inns such as this, on a road probably going back long before Roman times, must have carried many travellers requiring sustenance, so it is possible it was around a thousand years ago.  Here is the pubs own information regarding its age.   The place is mentioned in the Domesday Book, which you will recall, though not from personal experience, was written in 1086.  I may go down there to check it out one day myself....          



Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Now I'm not one to Complain, but.....

I went down to board the 'Worst Bus' this morning and found it living up to it's name.  Who, I wish to know, considers using a single decker bus on a busy route that includes hordes of degenerates heading for Sixth Form College?   The bus filled with them, and at each stop, so many stops, more got on each one absorbed in his 'iPad' (who pays?), 'Walkman' or discussing (loudly) their lives with their neighbours!  The ability to absorb knowledge concerning the important subjects that cause the poor dears such trauma come exam time appears not to include an ability to move from the front door of the bus until the driver chides them, blocking access or escape, and general consideration for others!  Bah!  In my day we had jobs and kept the wheels of industry turning, none of this needless education until we sign on for three years for my generation.  On top of this the brats had the best seats, my late arrival meant I had one of those low slung seats where the sun is enabled to burn your face as you travel.  Oh joy!

Naturally all these creatures left the bus at my stop thus blocking the pavements for miles around and folks with important shopping had to force their way through as they discarded their breakfasts across the streets.  However was it worth the effort?  No it was not!  The desperately required jacket was not available in any shop that I entered, well once or twice something similar was on offer, at prices ranging from £65 - £180!!!!!  Yer having a laff pal!  In BHS (I think, they all look the same to me) not only did they almost have what I wanted, almost at the price I might pay but having a stand of some sort of cards next to the jackets, so close that I knocked the some off the rack, picked them up, as others fell, picked them up, carried on with my research while knocking more cards, hooks they were hanging on and then more cards off the rack, which I then just dumped on the floor under the stand.  Enough looking at their prices with restocking their display stands I thought.  No member of staff moved, or appeared to care.  I lost interest in the jackets and there were no lingerie nearby to ensure I remained in that store either!

The 'Castle' is undergoing a major renovation that must be costing millions of pounds.  Our little museum will be doing similar shortly.  The miserly government that happily encourages massive losses on privatised industries, MOD spending, and Tax dodging by their friends, has cut funding for 'Heritage' projects UK wide.  No moneyed friends in this business obviously, so all such organisations have to go into debt to prepare for self funding.  Many will close I foresee.  This little exhibition in the gardens can be given a well deserved Gold Star in my view.  They may have stolen Edinburgh's Chinese Pandas but they have done this very well.

St Botolph's admirable doorway.  Standing next to the old priory ruins mentioned earlier this year this impressive building is hidden behind the main road.  Once upon a time it must have been in an open space I reckon.  I called this 'impressive,' but really is dark gray, darkened by years of smoke soot, really the best brick to use for such a building?  At least this building is still in general use. 

It's tower is quite tall, too tall for my wee camera.

Good news and bad news!  The good news is the discovery of a proper bookshop!  Hooray!!  The bad news is the fact that it is closing down!  Boo!!  The only real bookshop, and this is a very real bookshop, in Colchester is about to end its days.  The owner is retiring, not going bust, so the shop surely can continue, however no-one is keen to take over and keep the shop open, this is very sad news indeed.  The shop contains lots of shelves, lined up in such a way as to make browsing enjoyable.  Books of all types are found there, even in boxes on the floor, with much more upstairs.  A proper bookshop with knowledgeable friendly staff and with no intention of buying books today, indeed I rushed about the Oxfam Bookshop with a less than friendly member of staff, as books were not in my mind today, yet I found myself missing my bus having browsed with no intention of buying for forty minutes.  As however the shop is closing and all books a re Half Price I managed to buy three for a mere £5, less than I thought as I did not really calculate the cost as I browsed, very unlike me I hear you say.  A wonderful place to go, especially when you have not found a proper bookshop for many year.  Want an investment?  Buy this shop!

St John's Gate is all that remains of a Benedictine Abbey built C.1400.  After the 'Peasant's Revolt' in 1381 it was decided to strengthen their defences, how these folks helped the poor eh?  After the English Civil War and Henry VIII all that remains is this gate.  Does it go anywhere?  I know not as I had no time, or energy, to clamber over all the roads to find out.  Shooting into the sun is not easy, especially as I had to cut out the road signs that made fitting the gate into a picture.  

At the bus station I decided to stay alive by spending big on a coffee.  Normally I would not waste my cash on such, grossly overpriced coffee from the abundant cafe's never appeal to me,  yet as I was close to death after running around I considered it worth a gamble.  "Cheapest Coffee Please," I requested, and was given the cheapest (£1:50) by the helpful friendly chap at the stall. Poor man, his sales are increasing while the weather deteriorates but he also is suffering from the weather, which will make him deteriorate as time passes.  However the coffee was good and kept me alive, much to many others displeasure, and I may well head for this place next time I am in town.

Happily the bus home appeared as a double decker!  I smiled smugly to myself and soon lost the leering grin as other degenerates appeared from cracks in the pavement and boarded in their turn.  At least upstairs I got a decent view from the front, everything looks better from high up. However the bus decided to pick up all the old folks with free bus passes ("cough!").  They take their time boarding, each stop provided more of them, and indeed at each stop we stopped!  I was beginning to wonder if we would ever leave the town and arrive at the countryside again.  After a short lifetime, and I have had a few of those, we eventually found the open road.  This, naturally, was blocked by a rubbish lorry and the following parade of vehicles each one determined to get through in spite of the bus blocking their progress!  Bah!  

When we eventually arrived at the village with its narrow streets we found a white van man buying his lunch.  His van allowing cars past but not our bus.  The driver had to get out and chase him from 'Spar' before we could continue.  Arriving in town again and dreaming of lunch he stopped the bus on the outskirts and switched off the engine.  Sighs, deep and heartfelt, were heard throughout the bus.  We have all been there, the bus stops and an announcement, "We have broken down, a replacement will be along soon."  The bus companies use of the word 'soon,' might breach the trades description act!  However after a radio conversation including the words, 'red button comes on,' and 'bus station,' we began to believe we might make it home.
We did, and I decided that I will adjust the hours in which I travel, but I must travel back there, the bookshop closes in October and it is a great shop.  Now I must find some money for my next trip, and I forgot all about the jacket....


Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Radio Programme

On Sunday BBC Radio 4 did something worth listening to, the 'Classic Serial,; usually a waste of time in my view, offered instead one of the greatest tales ever told, 'Three Men in a Boat!'  This version continues next week and this programme fails at that date sadly.  So I urge you to listen TODAY!  You will enjoy this version of the gentle tale.  Starring Hugh Dennis, Steve Punt, Julian Rhind-Tutt and not forgetting Montmorency the dog, this hour long show gently meanders along following the book as the boat must follow the stream (allowing for the fact that they actually rowed upstream).   
The book appeared first in 1889 and has never been out of print since.  A literary wonder the book began as an attempt to describe the topography of the Thames but grew into one of the worlds best loved books.  Few others achieve such fame.  Deceptively simple, gentle in tone, wit aplenty the book is historically informative on the boating pleasures of Thames of the day and gives an insight to human nature revealing that it has changed not one bit since. This apparently easy to write book is very difficult to achieve, Jerome could never match this book again though he tried.  Many have attempted such, even I, indeed I almost got to the bottom of the second page before giving up, but such light reading is harder than at first appears.  

The Classic Serial does this book justice and I recommend a listen while there is still time!

Monday, 16 September 2013

Another Maudlin Monday

Before nine this morning the day looked to be full of action as the firemen appeared outside once again dealing, I thought, with the brats setting fire to something on their way to school. Possibly this is part of Michael Gove's (education minister) new curriculum, 'Arson for Beginners.' Usually there are one or two schools set ablaze before the new term although round here we lost one by some sort of fault.  Helpfully the primary kids now travel 14 miles to continue their education!  Once again the authorities were their usual unhelpful selves when enquiries as to what they were doing was concerned. Several who asked were heard to reply, "And you!" before continuing on their way.  

The day darkened when for reasons unknown the lights went out.  The box switched itself off at the mains and once reconnected everything appears OK. Why does electric do this?  Could it be it is preparing for the country running out of power once all the coal fired power stations cease to operate?  Could it be nuclear power stations may once again be built, and guess who will pay, certainly not the power generators!  Even the desperate for love Liberal-Democrats have now agreed the vast number of windmills dumped across the nation cannot supply our needs, as if we didn't know this forty years ago, and they have accepted nuclear is required in spite of the problems associated there.  

The day has once again been terrible.  I am convinced I am suffering a serious disease, unknown to science, that makes me lazy, slothful, shivering, and wake up tired in the mornings.  The bug that first arrived in 1987 may be taking its toll at last.  

I noticed however, between bleary eyes, that Obama is paying for his throwaway 'red line' comment last year.  At the time he said this I got the impression it was 'off the cuff' and he had no idea it would be brought up once again.  When chemical weapons were used, but by whom we don't yet know, he had to take action on this comment or look weak.  With the military machine determined to smash Iran it was inevitable their Syrian adventure would require statements of intent from the president.  The cry was 'Go get 'em,' but his heart was not in this and when the UK population made it so very clear that they would not tolerate 'our boys' in that adventure he saw a way out.  Pass the buck to Congress!  If the UK parliament could stand up and be counted for once then possibly the US could do the same.  However John Kerry, the anti-war veteran, offered 'unbelievably small' attacks while Obama said he 'Didn't do pin-pricks,' showing some confusion.  Confusion also where it was important to stop CW falling into 'wrong hands,' meaning the rebels.  Now however in the 'right hands' it appears to have been used, so who is the right hands today?  Russia possibly, tee hee!  Note nobody asks where the CW comes from, although the UK has sold most of the chemicals required to make them.  The US supplied masses to Saddam when  he was their man fighting the Iranians, but we don;t talk about that, nor the CW held by Israel.  Of course we talk about CW but ignore the routine weapons that are killing the population on both or any side as that is not important just now.
Obama found escape from attacking Syria through his friends in the Soviet Uni oops Russia.  The political nous that enabled them to jump in and obtain a promise from Assad to hand over the CW (to whom?) therefore doing away with the need for missiles.  The Russians have of course won a great victory, celebrated by Assad's men, and put Kerry's ever increasing threats into place. Obama must be relieved that an unpopular war has been avoided, however the Pentagon appears sure that some 75,000 men on the ground are required to remove the hidden (where?) CW.  Where will they come from, how can they do the job in a few months with a civil war, backed by the US friends Saudi Arabia and Quatar, is raging all around?  No-one knows, no-one cares.  As long as we don't get involved we don't care either.  The homeless, the wounded and the dead might have an opinion, but politics is not about them.

As we speak another success for the National Rifle Association at the Washington Navy Yard.  A man with a gun, possibly two men, have opened fire and killed one or two.  It makes me feel safe walking UK streets when I see this!  Guns have their place I suppose, but in the middle of a major city?

Sunday, 15 September 2013

It's Lee's Fault!

It's all Lee's fault!  She made a post today all about Fish & Chips! That got me going hungry as I was at the time.  Actually when I think about it she was really blethering on about 'fast food' in general and this delicacy came into her thoughts.  Reading her post about a variety of 'fast foods,' meant I ran to make myself baked potato and beans in the microwave, which was the fastest I could manage at lunchtime.  The chatter about fish and chips filled my little head with memories of the joys they brought.  As kids we rarely had such delicacies, it was too expensive for a family of six, and while we often had a bag of chips (3d) when coming home from cub scouts or such like fish and chips from a shop was rare.  Mum instead cooking the way mothers ought to cook on the cheap and ensuring we ate properly.  Of course the supermarket ready meals did not exist then.   As I got older, and richer, I was often out and about, and when following the football on a Saturday the journey home from the delights of Glasgow or Dundee was broken by a stop for beer and fish and chips.  When young it was the chip shop often buying chips for the older men, when older the chips were delivered to us, often in the pub.  Milnathort and Harthill both had two excellent and well used 'chippies' in those days.  The best such feed I ever obtained came from the chippy lying a few yards from the Arbroath football ground.  Sadly Google Maps show this grand shop has disappeared.  In those far off days the harbour was full of fishing boats and the fish supper was fantastic, I am not sure if this was because of the freshness of the fish or the oil used in cooking but no chips have ever tasted better!  The wholeness and nourishment in what in Edinburgh is referred to as a 'fish supper' is proved by the many football teams similarly feed their players this way on the bus journey home.  While richer sides fly by chartered airline or dwell in five star hotels the majority have to board the coach for the journey home.  Inverness Caledonian certainly do this making use of a regular stop on their way home, possibly alongside the few fans who have followed them on their day out.  

The manner of presentation of the delicacy that is a fish supper varies wherever you live.  In Edinburgh (pronounced Edinburra), Scotland's Capital City the correct manner is followed.  The the fish and chips are wrapped and laid in front of the schoolgirl earning a pittance behind the counter and she will enquire if you wish 'Salt & Sauce' on them, the correct answer being 'yes.' At this point heart attack levels of Salt & Sauce will be sprayed over the meal before it is wrapped and handed to you.  The sauce is 'chip shop sauce,' a brown vinegary sauce and one of the worlds greatest delicacies.  The EU need to protect this I say.  Scotland you will note has the highest rate of heart attacks in the world.  I blame smoking and drinking myself.   In Glasgow, one of the provincial towns, I believe the heritage of poverty leads them only to offer 'Salt & Vinegar' to heighten eating pleasure, a very poor deal if you ask me.  Most shops also have cheap sachets of other condiments, Tomato ketchup, mayonnaise, whisky and the like if that's your pleasure, at a cost however.  One Glasgow man allowed into Edinburgh claims racial discrimination because he has to pay for tomato ketchup when refusing brown sauce.  He reckons the sachet ought to be free as is the salt & sauce.  He is clearly the product of a poor education as he insists on refusing the 'ambrosia' while asking for tomato sauce, tsk!  

When I first ventured south I was amazed at the failings of the English chip shop.  Not only do they not offer this delicacy on your chips, they just wrap it up and dump it in front of the customer.  Once you pay you then have the bother of unwrapping the thing, adding salt and no sauce is on offer!  Not only this but the pies are not proper 'mince pies,' instead these strange things come with a tin foil tray and wrapped in paper!  Why?  Is it not possible to remove the wrapping before cooking?  What is wrong with proper service?  On top of this crime the chips themselves are foul!  Scottish chips have a wonderful soft flavour, in England they all appear stale to me.  Where do their chips come from, China?  All chip shops here appear the same to me, all chips taste dull.  The fish also is different, in Scotland a fish supper means Haddock, down here it is Cod.  Judging by the prices when last I looked it must be caught in the Pacific and flown business class to Billingsgate!   One of the three chip shops here has a nasty habit of asking what you want, taking your money and then making you wait!  Just try that one down by the 'Doocot' on a Friday night pal!  The small towns nearby have nothing in the cooker until someone comes in and orders.  I have never come across this before.  In Halstead there is one small shop where each night a long queue wait mournfully as they cook the dinner slowly, one by one I reckon at the time they take.  No fast food there! 

I'm hungry again, and being now to close to 16 stone to eat anything much, where's the lettuce....?  It's all Lee's fault!


Saturday, 14 September 2013

Sodden Saturday

Wandering about in the drizzle I noticed this bike chained up against a lamppost.  As it has been there for two weeks I am now wondering about the quality of local thieves.  A bike chained up for any length of time would disappear in many parts of this land yet here not even the gypos have gone off with it!  When you consider the number of people passing by, kids interested in bikes, stragglers, van drivers, it is a surprise to see this one remaining here.
On the other hand who owns it?  What happened to them?  Have they forgotten the thing? Did they arrive on the bike before popping in to the registry office behind the wall, get married and lose interest?  Were they arrested for a discretion in the park and find themselves detained at her majesties pleasure, or are they in the council offices waiting even yet for an answer to their query?  They could be some time yet I fear!  Is it of course possible they parked it to speak to a passing alien and now reside on Alpha Centura?  Maybe I could sell the 'Daily Star' a story to that end, they might go for it.  Short story writers could have a field day with this situation.  

The crow claimed to know nothing.  He and his mates gather here daily, encouraged by the brats in the park leaving their lunch strewn across the grounds, but while seeing everything say nothing. Instead they just eat, wander about snootily, scare of the passing seagulls and go about their business in the manner of their forefathers.  
Of course, he could be a Rook you know....


Friday, 13 September 2013

Friday Follies

Autumn leaves are forming, the nights are closing in, it's dank, dark and dreich!

"James," said Mary to her husband, "that young couple that just moved in next door seem such a loving couple. Every morning, when he leaves the house, he kisses her goodbye, and every evening when he comes homes, he brings her a dozen roses.

Now, why can't you do that?"

"Gosh," replied James, "why, I hardly know the girl."


"Could you please cut off my dog Buster's tail?" 
The vet examined his tail carefully, and then with raised eyebrows replied, "But there's nothing wrong with his tail. He is such a handsome fellow - why on earth would you want this done??" 

"My mother-in-law is coming to visit," I explained, "and I don't want anything in the house to make her think that she is welcome!"


A Muslim bloke I know was bragging he had the entire Koran on DVD. 
Being interested, I asked him to burn me a copy. 
Well, that’s when it all kicked off!


Mary smiled knowingly as her two friends complained over coffee about their failing memories.

"Sometimes," said June, "I catch myself with a jar of mayonnaise in my hand, while standing in front of the refrigerator, and I can't remember whether I need to put it away, or start making a sandwich."

Liz nodded in vigorous agreement, "Oh yes! Sometimes I find myself on the landing of the stairs and can't remember whether I was on my way up or on my way down."

May replied, "Well, ladies, I'm glad I don't have that problem, touch wood", and rapped her knuckles on the table. Then she looked around suddenly. "That must be the door. I'll get it."


The judge says to a man charged with a double murder,
 "You're charged with beating your wife to death with a hammer." 

A voice at the back of the courtroom yells out, "You swine!" 

The judge says, "You're also charged with beating your mother-in-law to
death with a hammer." 

The voice in the back of the courtroom yells out, "You rotten swine!”

The judge stops and says to Nigel in the back of the courtroom: " I can 
understand your anger and frustration at these crimes, but no more outbursts 
from you, or I'll charge you with contempt. Is that understood?"

Nigel stands up and says, "I'm sorry, Your Honour, but for fifteen years
I've lived next door to that man and every time I asked to borrow a
hammer, he said he didn't have one.“



Wednesday, 11 September 2013

A Cheerful Tale.

Here we see a lovely shot of the 15th century Stirling Bridge that crosses the River Forth.  Up above on the hills stands the Victorian Gothic 'Wallace Monument,' the monument to Sir William Wallace and his victory here in 1297.  Wallace, one of Scotland's great hero's was indeed a man of courage, integrity and love of his country, he is not to be confused with a small cretinous New Yorker who fled to Australia to lose what marbles he possessed and make costly unhistorical movies!  The monument is correct in that Wallace led the Scots army at this battle, however it is erroneous in that this ignores the other leader that day, indeed the man who may well have been responsible for the tactics used, one Andrew de Moray!   At Stirling Bridge on the 11th of September 1297 these two men led their victorious troops to a crushing defeat of the imperialist English invaders!  Let us now stop for a moment to cheer wildly with delight!  Wallace is given credit for this glorious defeat of the thuggish English host but Moray is often forgotten, possibly this results from his dying from injuries received during the fight, he led from the front!  To forget such a man is sad indeed and moves are now afoot to place his name on record for his part in opposing brutal English domineering rule.

The Morays of Petty originate in the north of Scotland.  This was a troublesome district and King David I eventually pacified the locals after stiff resistance.  However the lack of resources, many leading Knights were killed during these battles, led him to seek suitable men to control the often violent locals.  One such man was a Flemish nobleman called Freskin, he built Duffus Castle on the coast of North East Scotland, near what is now RAF Lossimouth.  This remained a fiercely independent district for many years until the middle of the 13th century.  He also begat the Morays!

At the unexpected death of King Alexander III in 1286 Scotland was left with no monarch.  The popular King had been predeceased by the children from his first marriage and on a dark and stormy night, all alone on horseback eager to see his young wife, he was on his way to his home in Burntisland, Fife.  He never arrived.  He fell over the cliff in the dark and died alone.  The heir was his three year old granddaughter Margaret, the Maid of Norway.  Sadly she perished at sea crossing to take the throne of Scotland.  The political scene was then set for the intervention of the violent imperialist Edward I, King of England!  The noble Scots barons were more than keen to place one of their own on the throne, usually themselves, and as Edward had been on good terms with the wise Alexander who's first wife had been Edwards sister and at that moment relationships with Edward were good he was asked his opinion.  He accepted this opportunity with alacrity, on the condition that whoever was selected must also accept his overlordship. What a devious greedy man he was!  The choice was between John Balliol or Robert the Bruce, grandfather of the later King.  Edward chose Balliol, probably because he was the weaker of the two, and Balliol immediately bowed the knee to Edward confessing him as his overlord! The Toom Tabard he!!!

The grasping English imperialist poured his men into all the important aspects of Scots society, unwanted and unwelcomed.  Their influence in finance, church and law was so pernicious that even John Balliol had enough.  Eddie wasnie pleased ken like?  It did not take long for Scots to take action.  Andrew de Moray joined with several other nobles and made for Carlisle Castle, wreaking havoc around the area.  They however failed to take the Castle itself, the door being shut against them by one Robert de Brus and his son Robert, the future King.  Bruce's lands lay over the Solway Firth in the south west of Scotland and the intricacies of politics were playing their part.  The choice of Balliol must have hurt and Bruce played a long game here.  Both father and son had sworn fealty to Edward and joined the malefactors army as it destroyed Berwick on Tweed, then Scotland's richest city.  Here Edwards men spent three days of murder and rapine as they destroyed both the town and the 15,000 souls within.  Where were the Americans then eh? Shortly after this, near Dunbar, a Scots army was routed by the Earl of Surrey, John de Warenne, leaving 8000 dead they say.  The brutal repression of a free people quickly saw King John Balliol captured and imprisoned in the south, Scots nobles bending their knees, but not their hearts and many men, including Andrew Moray imprisoned.  Moray was kept in Chester Castle but somehow he escaped, possibly by ransom or bribing Hugh de Lacey the warden, and made his way home to the north, he was a determined man and his imprisonment may have encouraged his zeal.

After his victory Edward had placed his men in all the important posts and castles.  Sir Hugh de Cressingham became head of the treasury administration in Scotland charged with tax collection. Like all Englishmen he began to tax Scots beyond what they could pay, George Osborne reads this bit daily, and he and his men lined their own pockets as well as the treasuries.  The brutal repression, taxation and then the attempt to force men into Edwards army led to stiff resistance once again.  Throughout Scotland people rose up opposing the foul treatment of the oppressor. Many joining Moray up at, er Moray, in 1297 where he had regained control of his lands and began retrieving the rest of the north.  Andrew Moray began his freedom fight at the same time as Sir William Wallace, a John Balliol loyalist, was wreaking havoc on the invader in the south west.  Wallace disposed of the English High Sherriff, William de Heselrig, at Lanark, before attacking Scone and continuing a guerrilla war against the invader.   Other nobles, Robert Bruce amongst them, rose also seeking their fortune in this war.  (It is notable Bruce, who ranked higher than Wallace did not work with him.)  While the English empire builder was building an army to invade Flanders and steal their land, he had already forced the Welsh to bow before him, he found his attention distracted by serious trouble across the border.  The men he sent to put this down, often Scots he had imprisoned, failed miserably as they decided to join the rising. Englishmen who attempted to intervene did so at the cost of their heads, whoopee!    

Edward was peeved and he demanded that The Earl of Surrey,  John de Warenne, take action. De Warenne had led the Kings armies at Berwick and Dunbar but he had remained in the north of England rather than Scotland complaining the weather was too cold and harmful to his health for him to reside there.  He has a point!  His sloth allowed the hero's of the story to gather support throughout the land, the whole nation apart from one or two small English held places was now in uproar.  The invaders could not travel in safety, their friends less so, and at the approach of the Surrey's army Moray and Wallace joined their forces together at Stirling to deal with the malcontent English.

The battle was a short and cruel one.  Badly led by the Earl of Surrey, with reinforcements turned back long before they had arrived because Cressingham, in joint command, considered them too expensive and unnecessary, and with the first troops ordered over the bridge called back as the Earl was still asleep and his belief that he was once again facing an untrained rabble the day was set.  The suggestion of sending cavalry round the flank was rejected, on cost grounds by Hugh Cressingham, as he felt this may somehow prolong the war!   He did however lead the Knights himself as they crossed the small wooden bridge two abreast.  The Scots, now a trained and disciplined army, watched from above or hidden in the woods.  Once the commanders thought sufficient Knights and infantry had crossed the bridge the Scots spearmen, until then hidden from view, took up position blocking the access to the bridge.  The narrowness of the bridge and the by now fast flowing River Forth meant the crossing was under Scots control.  Cut off from the vast array on the other side this portion of the English invading army was doomed.  The ground here was boggy and a narrow wooden causeway, with bog and rocky ground on either side took away the Knights advantages.  Vengeance was taken for Dunbar and Berwick and for those many prisoners dying in captivity.  Around 100 Knights including Cressingham died, falling from his horse as it turned while attempting to fight his way back across the bridge, his associate Sir Marmaduke Tweng did manage to push through the defenders along with a handful of others while Cressinghams squire swam the river, others attempting this drowned.  Along with the Knights some five thousand English and Welsh footsoldiers were destroyed that afternoon.  In panic the English destroyed the bridge from their side and as their army began to fade away left the field.  The Scots army, mostly a peasant army, had some loss also, around 1500 with Andrew Moray leading from the front the most important amongst them.  It is likely he being a trained soldier was responsible for the tactics used this day yet his name is sadly forgotten.  A angry Sir William Wallace then had Cressinghams body flayed and the skin divided into portions and sent to every church door in the land.  This man was indeed hated in Scotland for his greed and corruption.
The Earl of Surrey saw his army falter around him and returned from whence he came.  He led from the front, the front of the retreat and Marmaduke Tweng said he ran so hard his horse 'never ate corn again!'  His opinion of the Earl was clear.  Edward I, known as 'Longshanks,' as he was much taller than most of his time, continued the absurd belief held by Englishmen even today that Scotland belongs to them.  The idea that this nation is 'North Britain,' is constantly found in the pages of the 'Daily Mail,' where those comfortably off types in the south east corner demand obescience from those north of Watford!  The imperialist wars continued until Edward died at Carlisle in 1307.  Having been traitorously handed over to the English King, William Wallace had been murdered at Smithfield in 1305.  His cause did not die with him.  Robert the Bruce fought his way to become leader of the Scots nation and in 1314 at Bannockburn, not far from Stirling, he once again savaged the English Edward II and 'sent him home to think again.'  

Two letters, dated October and November, sent to towns in the Hanseatic League are addressed as from "Andrew de Moray and William Wallace, leaders of the army of the realm of Scotland," both indicating Moray lived at least until November of 1297.  It may be Wallace had to use both names because of aristocratic jealousies, the Bruce's determination to gain ground, for instance. We sadly know so little of this man Moray who was important not just to William Wallace but to Scotland as a whole.  Soon a new memorial will stand at Stirling to commemorate his glorious achievement.  No doubt others will follow elsewhere, but hopefully not a Mel Gibson film!

Andrew de Moray  William Wallace  John Balliol  King Alexander III  Scottish History  

Toom Tabard  Robert the Bruce

Edward I (Longshanks)  Hugh de Cressingham  John de Warenne, 6th Earl of Surrey 

Sir Marmaduke Tweng


Monday, 9 September 2013

If you didn't like the music..... might like this one!

The music is worse mind!


Saturday, 7 September 2013

A Bit of Fun

A charity concerned with Dementia care arranged a 'fun day' in the town today. The idea being to collect money from various stalls and activities plus inform the town about a growing problem amongst us these days.  I suppose dementia has always been here but we just referred to it as old folks going 'Gag,' or possibly it is because we live longer these days and it is more of a problem. With this in mind I was in the museum on hand in case things got busy.  Pah! Not busy enough, the schools returning and holidays passed folks are returning to normal and kids are not being taken to places that cost.  There was a trickle of people, a Melbourne couple whom we had a laugh (why do Aussies use such strange words?), a local seeking ways to entertain his visitors which led to a discussion about railways and my giving him what turned out to be incorrect information, a couple from land unknown who tried to pass a forign coin off on us, Pth! One ageing somewhat confused lass turned up struggling to find the entrance to the Cafe set up by the Dementia people.  This was at the far end of the building right in front of her! I carefully carried her thence!  Why do the young ones not throw themselves at me like the old ones do I ask? There were a few others looking I happily showed one young woman around our new photographic exhibition of old Braintree pictures.  She ought to pay but I let her have a quick look as being with a bored half asleep child I thought she needed some intellectual stimulus, from the pics that is, not me!  

Lovely old cameras on show to match the ages covered by the pictures.  Simply by casually mentioning to each woman who looked round the exhibition that she was 'too young' to remember what was pictured I made one or two folks day.  This always appears to have the same response. Often I take them by the hand and welcome them and ask if they have brought their father for a look round the museum, the girls are always pleased by this their menfolk however never appear to be quite so happy, often appearing to be choking somewhat.   

In the market music was being used to entertain the shoppers. While the folks in the pub, right next to the band, were happy about this enquiries at the fruit and veg stall immediately to the right of the picture gave a somewhat less eager response.  Not quite sure what the emotions were as it is difficult to express words when the teeth are grinding together.  Sadly the attempt to picture the three dolts  people on horse costumes did not quite work out.  The nearby Tombola Stall cost me a pound and the ten year old running it was very sympathetic, grumbling she had been unable to give away any prizes so far. I've seen Lotteries run that way I almost but didn't say.

Amongst the stalls in the centre Belly Dancers were on offer.  By 'on offer I mean the girls were belly dancing, I don't mean they were on offer on a stall or anything, please don't misunderstand as I did as you get some very frosty looks. Few Sheikhs live this way as far as I know so where this idea came from I know not, but it was pleasing exercise judging by the audience response. The three appeared to be happy in their work although it was slowing down by the time muggins arrived.  The view from the rear was appreciated more than that from the front it appeared to me.  

All this under typical September wind, rain and sunshine weather.  The weather held for the most part but did force some folks into the museum and paying customers are always welcomed, even if they are concessions!