Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Viewpoint



I took this picture about 25 years ago.  I was standing on 'Suicide Bridge' at Archway.  The hills to the north of London give a wonderful view of the city, if it wasn't for the 'ouses in between.'  From here you can see the Barbican complex, originally built as council houses, now sold at huge price to the rich.  Many MP's reside there.  What was known as the 'Nat West Tower,' until the IRA blew up the street below causing the National Westminster bank to move elsewhere, towers above everything else.  The view must have been excellent but not when a thunderstorm raged.  

I wonder what the view is like today?  Huge ugly erections have arisen since I took that grainy picture.  Buildings climb into the sky, the creators 'making a name for themselves in the world.'  To my mind, tired of the emptiness that claims to be success, I find them unappealing.  The 'Shard' just looks ridiculous, as does the one called the 'Gherkin!'  More to do with an abundance of money and a desire to use it to do something different rather than fulfill a function artistically.  

'Suicide Bridge,' built in 1900, carries Hornsey Lane high above the 'Archway Road.'  The bridge was enhanced by a row of iron spikes in an attempt to stop people flinging themselves therefrom.  Sadly such measures failed to stop three men clambering over the bridge to their deaths in three short weeks in 2010.


John Nash's original bridge shows the height above the road.  An excellent view from above, but a long way down for some.  The horses no longer struggle up the slope, instead expensive tin cans carry millions of canned people at high speed up the A1, the Great North Road.  That is the road the Londoners of yore took when running to Scotland for some fresh air.  Not far from here is found the hill where Dick Whittington and his cat turned around and went back to London, so he says, but as he was a politician I have my doubts.

Can I add that suicide is not a good idea.  No doubt we have all considered it at some time, even as a remote thought, but not only does it hurt others, especially if you fall on them, it fails to answer our problems.  It must be very difficult to convince someone that desperate or mentally unwell that Jesus gave us bright blue skies, green grass and sunshine to indicate life does have a meaning beyond out problems.  However it does!  One lass at the hospital killed herself one night, she had been crying for months, and nothing could be done.  I stopped her cutting her hand on one of the small windows she broke but during the night she ended it all.  Life may not be fun, but suicide does not improve it.

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Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Bus Pass



I have my bus pass.  Another sign that the years are passing is the ownership of a Free Bus Pass for old folks.  This is indeed a boon for those desperate to get about the world and short of cash, indeed it is, but it means I am old.  
I sent of the picture, included my birth certificate (I mistook it for my dad's at one point until I realised I did not possess my dad's birth certificate!) and awaited a response.  Within a few days the paperwork returned.  Within another few days the credit card sized Free Bus Pass also fell through the door.  
I'm old.
I think I need a walking stick and a bottle of 'Sanatogen.' 
The problem is the bus times.  I looked them up today, and while there are frequent buses to where I ought to go it takes for ever!  Journeying into the big towns takes about an hour, which I expected, but even dawdling six miles away takes almost 45 minutes!  The bus passes through little villages full of yokels, trundles along country lanes, and takes for ever!  

Now you will realise a problem with this.  Sitting on a public transport omnibus means that the public will clamber aboard said bus and behave like the er, public will do.  This is the very reason the members of parliament were to willing to forego their first class tickets on the trains, they would have to meet the public!  I need not remind you there are no first class seats on a bus.
The last time I went on an hour long journey on a bus the women who boarded discussed Uncle John's foot for most of the journey.  I need not inform you of my opinion of this needless (loud) chatter, especially Uncle John did not belong to any of them but a next door neighbours friend over the roads, neighbours brothers uncle John!  
The return journey was badly times as the bus filled with adolescents from a collage who wished to play bad music (Tish Tosh Tish etc) on headphones, discussed their wishfull thinking love lives, and reminded me where I left my chainsaw.
    
The other niggling problem is that I look 25.  This means the drivers will not believe the card is mine.  I foresee many an argument ahead here. However the good side is that I may travel anyway, and this means photos from places as yet unseen!  Isn't this good?
What? ....oh! 

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Monday, 28 January 2013

TV Football




The African nations Cup has indeed been a boon to those of us who despair when offered umpteen channels showing 'pap' day by day.  ITV4 has obtained the rights to show this African tournament and freed us from the banal.  Mind you it must be said that much offered by the continents best has been pretty dire.  In spite of some of the world's best players showing up I have occasionally despaired.  Niggling fouls, overacting and referees who cannot tell when a foul on the goalkeeper is not a foul.  Bah!  
Still the alternative is programmes about houses, antiques and mediocre American dross.  No sane person wishes such day after day.  There again some of those programmes have been on the go for about 20 years!  The Yank cop shows include offerings from the 70's!  Dearie me.  Football playing in the background is so much more acceptable, it's live, has a point, and interesting.  Something that cannot be said about Jessica Fletcher!  
The funny thing is some women object to football being shown.  For reasons that escape me girlies appear to consider soap operas more important.  Could it be their brains don't work properly?
Quite why the chap in the poster has 'Touch Down' on his rattle I fail to understand.  FOOTBALL, played with the feet, has nothing to do with any game in which the ball is thrown by the hands.  
Possibly it is one of the many mistakes the colonials go in for.  



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Sunday, 27 January 2013

Shock!



The temperature rose!
Rain fell through the night and washed away the snow that had been beginning to thaw, wonderful!  The birds pushed aside the blankets they had been hiding under, removed the scarves and gloves went feeding.  The heating has been turned off, yes no more candles under my nose keeping me warm, half the blankets and coats have gone from the bed and I even opened the windows to get some fresh air, two weeks is a long time with no air!  
Naturally the wind is howling and blowing everything down, but I will stay safe inside, unless the chimney falls off.  Rain and wind are threatened by the gutter press in that screaming manner of theirs, which means it will be normal stuff I suspect.  The sun even shone, the sky was blue, dogs capered in the park, and gritter lorries were seen parked up, panting, in the council depots.    
What a difference sunshine and blue sky makes to the world, especially as the days grow longer and the light hangs around till tea.



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Friday, 25 January 2013

January 25th



The Bard's birthday.  The greatest poet produced in this land, a great man, a womaniser, a customs official, a farmer's boy and a drunk!  Yet many in then Church of Scotland consider him a saint!  Robert Burns was a thinking man as well as a natural poet.  He indicated his feelings in poetry, not always to others liking, and once he had tasted the Edinburgh high life as well as their high ladies he returned to where he was more at home.  Robert Burns




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Thursday, 24 January 2013

The Bell


Several days running the postman did not ring the bell.  One had the audacity to claim he had rung the bell and I didn't answer, the cheek.  I pressed it while he voiced his lies and it didn't work, I pressed again and it did.  He smirked and shrugged shoulders.  Wimp I thought.  The bell remained silent and several visitors, police, council, debt collectors, friends mostly, also indicated by moaning loudly that the bell was bust. 
I bought batteries.
I struggled on two tables, one upon another, to reach up and change batteries.
It didn't work.
Christmas approached.
I left bell until that was over.
Several times I had to visit the sorting office to collect parcels, visits doubled because the postman had not yet returned!  Made note to always collect next day!  When bell worked no parcels were sent!  Bah!
Christmas came and Christmas went.
New Year came and New Year went.
I went, to Wickes, for a bell and stuff for the sink, which is falling apart.
The bell was there at £14'99.
I left it there.
I bought stuff for sink.
Sloth Difficulties arose that made it hard to get down to B&Q for a cheap bell. 
Eventually I got there, they didn't have the one I needed.
Those they had were too dear.
A few days later I was back at Wickes for the £14'99 bell.
The efficient checkout lass took my cash with all the care of someone who didn't care.
Two days later I collected tallish furniture and placed this under bell.  I climbed up to the bell. 
Five minutes later I climbed back down for the right screwdriver!
With brute force and ignorance I removed the bust bell, (the spring had gone) carefully remembering where all the wires went.
The new bell was almost exactly the same as the old, but the holes for screws were all in different places!  Brute force and ignorance enabled me to fix the beast to the wall.  The dust can be dealt with later.
Wires, such as they were, were fixed.  
Batteries inserted.  
I clambered down, slowly, from a  great height.
It didn't work!
It still doesn't.
It's too cold to feel my fingers at the moment so it can wait!
Bah!



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Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Miscellany



News from the desperate front.  Dave has realised the UKIP party are in danger of stealing Conservative votes while he continues to act like a Liberal Democrat.  This means he will loses not just votes but his job, and have nothing but a meaningless life on speaking tours of the world telling others how to run the world and earning millions he makes hereby means nothing to him, honest.  His answer to this threat is marvellous.  He appeals to his anti Europe members by promising a referendum on Britain's place in the EU, calls the UKIP bluff, cheers his party and makes this a promise to be fulfilled after the NEXT election.  Brilliant!  Not only did he promise this before the last election and did not fulfill it, like hundreds of other promises, but we all know he has little chance of winning the next election.  Brilliant and the media are falling for it.  So are his voters, both of them.  This government is bad, just imagine what the next will be like.  Dear oh dear.  

   
Now I'm not one to boast, my humility will not let me, so I will happily instead commend Helen for her wisdom in offering this award to me.  Her perspicacity, imagination, intellect and wisdom deserve rewards also.  It is presumed that I will pass this on to others like we are supposed to, however last time I tried this I was rewarded with untold abuse, by Jerry, Max, 'A,' Soub, Mo, RDG, PDP, Lee, Jenny, Kay, Mametz, Dina and Angelika, so I'm not doing that again! No sir.




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Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Lonely Nights in the Hospital



At night all was still.  Lights were dimmed, doors closed, outside sounds nullified, stillness, disturbed rarely by footsteps, a nurse heading for her break, the lift doors swishing then moving between floors.  Silence.   Patients slept quietly for the most part, infrequent attention from the nurse dozing nearby for a few.  Seriously ill patients required more careful diligence.  Silence and stillness for the most part.   On such nights I often pondered on those unknowns who had worked there in the century past.  Not so much the medical staff, neurosurgeons and doctors were renowned in their time, I pondered those we never know, porters, domestics, office staff, a variety of functionaries who often spent considerable years in these walls.  These may have been efficient, popular, an important member of the staff yet now they are forgotten.  There are pictures, some in the history of the hospital written in 1958, others hidden in archives. These show stiff nurses in stiff uniforms posing with stiffer patients, ancient, almost frightening equipment that once operated on the brain saving many lives, and the bewhiskered men charged with understanding the nervous systems failings.  These looked more dangerous!  Ancient dark furniture in sitting rooms, coal fires, dark cots containing curious children, plaques above each bed naming the person or organisation who paid for them.  Aged furniture maybe but the layout and appearance very similar to the days of the late 70's and early 80's.  Maybe it's my twisted mind but I often wondered about those who passed through before, especially the people who served for years in that place.  The stories old buildings could tell.  

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Monday, 21 January 2013

Jocoseness





A preacher said, 
"Anyone with 'special needs' who wants to be prayed over, please come to the front by the altar." 
With that, a Glasgow man got in line, and when it was his turn, the Preacher asked, 
"Jimmy, what do you want me to pray about for you?" 
Jimmy replied, 
"Preacher, I need you to pray for help with my hearing." 
The preacher put one finger of one hand in Jim’s ear, placed his other hand on top of Jim’s head, 
and then prayed and prayed and prayed. He prayed to the 'Almighty' for Jimmy, 
and the whole congregation joined in with great enthusiasm. 
After a few minutes, the preacher removed his hands, stood back and asked, 
"Well Jimmy, how is your hearing now?"

Jimmy answered, 
"I don't know. It ain't 'til next Tuesday!" 




I am a firm believer that the family who prays together stays together. I know its a corny saying, but it is true, so I encourage my children to pray before they go to bed, at mealtimes, and whenever there is a need.

Angelica however does not want to pray; I don’t what it is, but try as we will she refuses point blank to pray. My wife thought she might be possessed but I told her not to be silly, that this house was under the protection of the Almighty.

Then today, at Thanksgiving, with all the extended family gathered around, she astonishingly began to say grace: “Dear Lord, thank you for the food you give us, and the nice things you give us, and Lord, please provide clothes for the children in Africa, and all those naked ladies on Daddy’s computer.”


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Saturday, 19 January 2013

Thursday, 17 January 2013

F'ursday Filler





I just got off the phone with a friend who lives in Northern Scotland.  
He said that since early this morning, the snow has been nearly waist-high and is still falling.
The temperature is dropping way below zero and the north wind is increasing to near-gale force.
His wife has done nothing but look through the kitchen window and just stare.

He says that if it gets much worse, he may have to let her in.



I was visiting my son and daughter-in-law last night when I asked if I could borrow a newspaper. 
'This is the 21st century, old man,' he said. 
'We don't waste money on newspapers. 
Here, you can borrow my iPod.' 

I can tell you, that fly never knew what hit it.



RACISM?

Everyone seems to be in such a hurry to scream 'racism' these days.

 A customer asked, "In what aisle could I find the Irish sausage?"

 The assistant asks, "Are you Irish?"

The guy, clearly offended, says, 
"Yes I am. But let me ask you something. If I had asked for Italian sausage, would you ask me if I was Italian?

Or if I had asked for German Bratwurst, would you ask me if I was German?

Or if I asked for a kosher hot dog would you ask me if I was Jewish?

Or if I had asked for a Taco, would you ask if I was Mexican?

Or if I asked for Polish sausage, would you ask if I was Polish?"

The assistant says, "No, I probably wouldn't."

The guy says, "Well then, just because I asked for Irish sausage, why did you ask me if I'm Irish?"

The assistant replied, "Because you're in Halfords, the cycle shop."


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Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Down the 'Tube'



As I passed by the museum on my way home from the horsemeat shop I pondered on the recent festivities on the London Underground.  Being 150 years since the first Metropolitan Railway line opened in 1863 they decided to run a steam special pulling carriages of ancient vintage full of hangers on dignitaries to commemorate the occasion.  Sadly my invitation appears to still be somewhere in the post.  
The first line was one of those 'cut and cover' jobs along the Euston Road.  This road had been built as circular route around the heavily congested centre of London and marked the then edge of the main metropolis.  To avoid railways cutting through this congestion, and knocking down MP's homes, all stations were built on the edge, which explains the setting for Paddington, Euston, Kings Cross and St Pancras.  The idea of an underground railway under this road was clever as little tunneling was required.  The road was dug up, tracks laid, walls and stations built, and the road surface returned once more.  There was little real disruption, except to those evicted or who's homes may have collapsed.  Always some 'Nimby' to complain!  

Running from Paddington, where Rolling stock help was obtained from Mr Brunel's Great Western Railway, hence the large tunnels to accommodate Brunel's 'Broad Gauge' tracks and engines, the line spread east to Farringdon.  Compare the tunnels on this line with the others.  I travelled this line on many occasions, not in the days of steam I hasten to add, and remain awed by the size of the tunnels and the complex arrangements of the various railway lines that run unheeded in the area.    
The idea of hastening travellers was a good one and enabled many to cross the city from one station to another with considerable ease.  The roadway itself soon lost the position as the rim of the city and as while the Metropolitan Railway pushed east to Aldgate to meet the new 'District' line the rising population pushed outwards.  The railways followed soon after.  By 1864 the GWR no longer assisted the Met line as they now possessed their own trains, however the GWR aided the line as it expanded west to Hammersmith, and the Met itself went northwards to chase the middle classes desiring a commuter lifestyle in fresh air in England's 'green and pleasant land,' which they proceeded to concrete over.  

By 1884 the Metropolitan Railway company had joined with the Metropolitan District Railway to create a circle line under London, this time using a new system of tunneling, suitable in the clay soil. Since then the railway, running on electric traction since the 1890's, has been a world of its own.  The experience is never forgotten, especially when the loony always sits next to you!  The warm air as the 'tube' approaches, the roar when the station is entered, the stuff that gets up your nose and the happy smiling faces stay in the mind always.  Only one of those is incorrect by the way.

How to build an underground railway. Pick and shovel!

The dignitaries at Paddington. (1863 not 2013 by the way)

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Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Free Speech!



Julie Burchill is a 'controversial' writer.  The word 'controversial' can mean many things.  In her case it refers to her habit of just getting up peoples noses.  It ought to mean writing truth and not being liked because of this, which is very different.  It appears Julie Burchill, a lesbian I am informed, wrote an article, which I did not bother to read, criticising those who claim to be 'transgender.'  Hmmm, pots and kettles spring to mind, although as I say I did not read her words.  Her well known ability among what used to be called the 'chattering classes' to upset people has brought her many enemies.  Maybe she likes it this way?   However now something unusual has happened.  The 'Observer,' the paper in which her article was published, has removed said item and apologised for any offence caused.  Really?  A serious paper apologising for someone writing an opinion, can this be true?  Lynne Featherstone, a somewhat disturbed  Lib-Dem member of parliament and  Minister for International Development in this dreary government, had complained the item was 'Bigoted,' and I believe the word 'Transphobic,' was also used.  

So a loud 'lesbian' comments on 'transgenders' and is opposed by an unstable misandrist MP and the article is deleted?  What happened to 'Free Speech?  Now let me make it plain I see free speech as offering opinions as to how an individual sees the world around them.  It does not mean simply 'rabble rousing,' or deliberately stirring up hatred.  There is a great difference in offering an opinion and sheer hatred.  Which did Burchill offer?  I clearly cannot say but the Observer/Guardian tends to offer thinking people as writers.  I disagree with most of what these middle class 'socialists' say but they have the right to be wrong surely?  Banning their twisted opinions can surely be seen as totalitarian and not the free speech any decent society ought to be proud off.  

On the other hand where do we draw the line?  How does an opinion become offensive?  Does being right bring offence?  Is this wrong?  Of course not, although many will be unhappy and oppose vigorously the truth!  Others can decide if our Julie was being offensive or just bitchy, most women columnists tend to be that way, and MP Lynne might be honest enough to tell us if she has a secret she wishes to hide.  

Far too many jump on the offended bus today, and not because they are offended but because others opinions differ from them.  If you don't like others opinions, right or wrong, should we drown them out like certain groups today tend to do?  'Equality' and democracy cuts both ways.    


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Monday, 14 January 2013

Snow Horrid Snow!!!!



The lovely Dina has been happily posting pictures of the unusual weather that has hit her hometown.  I am now unhappily reporting in a less cheerful manner!  SNOW!  That horrid, cold, wet, miserable portion of the weather that the Good Lord has chosen to dump upon us, has arrived once again.  The trains will soon stop running, buses disappear, traffic slide off the road, football matches postponed, news will cease in the media while weather fills the front pages, and some clown will tell us how enjoyable all this can be.  Shoot them!

Snow is horrid!

Now look!  Not long after I got home the world is white, and cheery folks claim this will last for days!!!!!  I wanna be somewhere warm!!!!!!



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Sunday, 13 January 2013

Saturday, 12 January 2013

THE DIFFERENCE IF .....




.........YOU MARRY A SCOTTISH GIRL!!

Three friends married women from different parts of the world.....

The first man married a Greek girl. He told her that she was to do the dishes and house cleaning. It took a couple of days, but on the third day he came home to see a clean house and dishes washed and put away. ...

The second man married a Thai girl. He gave his wife orders that she was to do all the cleaning, dishes and the cooking. The first day he didn't see any results but the next day he saw it was better. By the third day he saw his house was clean, the dishes were done, and there was a huge dinner on the table.

The third man married a girl from Scotland.  He ordered her to keep the house cleaned, dishes washed, lawn mowed, laundry washed, and hot meals on the table for every meal. The first day he didn't see anything, the second day he didn't see anything either but by the third day, some of the swelling had gone down and he could see a little out of his left eye and his arm was healed enough that he could fix himself a sandwich and load the dishwasher. He still has some difficulty when he urinates...




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Friday, 11 January 2013

Old Troopships




Rummaging through some old photographs I came across pictures dad took during the Kings Own Scottish Borderers trip from Hong Kong to Poona in 1930.  He included this postcard of the SS 'The City of Marseilles,'  ship built in 1912.  I suppose many would call this a 'tramp steamer' these days but she sailed happily from 1913 until 1940 including time between 1923  to 1930 when she carried troops around the Far East.  A mere 8250 gross tons she managed 14 knots with the wind behind her.  Ellerman's Hall Line provided accommodation for 141 first class and  46 second class passengers, what the troops were classed as I would not like to say.  A tough old girl she was attacked by a submarine en route Liverpool - Bombay in 1915 and hit it by her gunfire but survived by running!  

For me, a journey over the sea waves in tropical warmth would be an acceptable adventure.  For a thousand troops it may have been less enjoyable.  The playing of 'Housie Housie,' was allowed, probably to avoid the men throwing their cash away on gambling, deck quoits and other innocent pursuits may well have appeared to some the height of luxury, or as high as they might reach anyway.  The thought of leaving Hong Kong where five years had been spent kicking the Chinks around defending the Empire and moving to another foreign soil, India, may have been seen as exciting.  India had been the 'Crown Jewel' of the Empire had it not, surely this was worth visiting?  It appears dad liked a change from the routine.  His sense of morals had led him to spend time in the Military Police while in China and now in India he joined the RAMC and worked as an orderly, or nurse perhaps, in the Hospital there.  I have his note book of drawings and medical information which shows he was well taught.  I suspect Beri-Beri may have been the biggest problem!

Sadly the poor ship continued to plow its course until once again requisitioned by the needs of world war two.  She survived hitting a mine off the River Tay in 1940  but repaired having journeyed later to Ceylon she stranded herself in 1943.  She was scrapped 1947.



'HMT Nevasa.'  This card accompanies the above ship and suggests they both were involved in moving the troops in some way.  HMT, as you know, stands for His Majesty's Troopship.  Not that we have many of those these days, if we have any boats left at all under this cost cutting bunch of incompetents!  Built in the Clyde, as most were in those far off days, the 'Nevasa' became a troopship in 1915 and later served as a hospital ship also.  During the twenties she returned to commercial work travelling to East Africa and India.  Consider for a moment how many people were on the high seas in those days.  Today the vast number of ships will probably be container vessels, with a large number of ugly looking cruise ships touring the warm bits of the planet, but between the wars vast numbers of people sailed the seven seas, many on Imperial business.  Today we fly and think little of it but then travel took time, enabled the passenger to adjust to the differing climate, and allowed the young women to look for wealthy, proactive men heading up the gravy chain as they sailed.  Sometimes they just looked for willing men of course.  A month long voyage, away from family and friends, possibly with several years abroad ahead, this sounds a better way to go than crammed into a Jumbo Jet!  I can hear the splash of the waves a s the boat cuts through them, the gentle thumping of the engines down below, I feel the warm air, note the helpful service, the pretty girls, and the pretty awful ones who will cause trouble, the clink of glasses filled with gin and tonic, all this while typing in woollen gloves with the fingers cut out.  'Sigh'                                               Roll of Honour : Ships


Also spotted on what I think may have been a Kodak Box camera, the folding ones would be too dear, and I remember one being used by us as kids, we see a blurry 'HMS Enterprise.'  Protecting the Empire demanded the Royal Navys presence in the Far East Station and 'Enterprise' spent time there from 1928 onwards.  Yet another John Brown ship she was launched in 1919 but not commissioned until 1925, I know not why, they wouldn't tell me state secrets.  Her twin gun single turret was an experimental type and the heat must have been great as in the picture a shelter is provided for the men working beneath.  This gallant little ship was reduced to the naval reserve in 1938 yet when war cam she served in the Atlantic, Norway, South America, the Indian ocean, the Med and also on D-Day.  She served well right through the war and was rewarded by being scrapped in 1946.  Not much different treatment than what the sailors themselves received.


Look close, in the middle of the Chines harbour there lies an aircraft carrier!  Squint your eyes through the heat haze and note the difference between this one and the huge beast being built for the Royal navy today.  Yes, that old one has aircraft!  You like the harbour, I wonder how different it appears today?


How peaceful with no skyscrapers, flashing lights or hordes of people.  It is however busy and many still live on such craft today.


No, he didn't take the last two did he?  His album is full of pictures he bought out there.  Small pictures, the originals only a few inches as some will remember.   I am fascinated to see the type of picture he took, his keenness to photograph the men, often happy to pose, and wonder whether my brother and I took after him this way, my brother having the talent.  Every time I look through these pictures I learn more about the father I never knew as a selfish brat of a child.  Too young to comprehend his past, too selfish or stupid to care about anything but myself, and now I want to meet him anew and see how we would get on together.  Ah, it's that 'if only' once again! 


Thursday, 10 January 2013

The Gas Bill



Today the Gas bill arrived.  Naturally we arose to frozen landscapes, home and feet!  This in the week the Gas company ended the connection with their chairman, offering him a mere £13 million payoff.  The tax payer however will be happy, the taxpayer is not paying for a nationalised gas company.  Those who 'Told Sid' under the Thatcher tyranny and rushed to buy shares in these companies can possibly gather enough from their dividend to pay the colossal bills 'Sid' and his greedy friends are charging for the gas.  I wandered round to the library to keep warm reading books but found the place full of poor people reading books to keep warm there.  
The Electric company have generously warned us the bills will all rise because of this governments absurd energy policies so I am looking forward to that increase.  I have modified the payments to suit myself, and now will be running on the spot and stretching a lot to avoid hypothermia.  

Good job I am not one to complain.....



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Wednesday, 9 January 2013

BBC Heir Hunters



I'm watching this programme where companies search for relatives of those who died leaving no will and no next of Kin can be found.  When an individual dies leaving no will and no heir can be found the estate goes to the Treasury.  There are variations in Law between Scots Law and the Law of England and Wales, but in both cases the end result will be the same, the Crown wins.  If no relative is found within 12 years the money goes to the Crown.  The Treasury publishes a list containing the names of the outstanding individuals, the 'Bona Vacantia' list.  'Bona Vacantia' means 'Ownerless Goods,' as you know.  Many companies now operate a search system hoping to discover the missing heirs and obtain a cut of the cash.  Some £14 Million goes to the Treasury each year therefore a large estate will pay well.  

The 'Heir Hunters' programme concerns the efforts made by the gold diggers companies to find relatives and take their cut.  The individual stories reflect a wide variety of people, many sad, some heroic.  Yesterday a solitary woman who gave away no information turned out to be a wartime member of SOE and operated in France during the war.  Her suffering included a time spent in Ravensbrook Concentration Camp, from which she escaped and made it home.  She only spoke on record once to a TV documentary, and never to any other it appears.  Rich and poor it appears end up dying alone, lacking contact with relatives, sometimes happy and sometimes sad and lonely people.  Life can be hard for some, even in a populous town.

However what strikes me is the viewer who makes this programme popular.  The viewer lives in hope their name will appear on screen, they await the stranger knocking on the door and carrying news of a large windfall, their tongue hangs out as the programme reaches a crescendo and some lucky relative receives a cheque!  I see similar people queuing at the Lottery desk, especially when a large turnover is available.  We have all been there, at least once in our life.  

Hold on, someones at the door, must go, quickly.......   



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Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Cultural Differences



Reading the excellent 'The Venomous Bead,'  I began to muse on the differences in 'culture' that have befallen my miserable existence.  It was in 1969 that I first encountered London life.  I had been in one or two norther English places, to visit or watch football, but London is a world apart from everywhere else.  The buses were different, poor quality, noisy 'Routemasters,' rough but eminently suitable for the job.  Edinburgh always prided itself on decent quality buses for the citizens.  People stood outside pubs in London, something never done back home, although weather may play a part in this.  The biggest shock was cricket!  I left the Leadenhall Market one midweek day while wending my way around the City and as I crossed the road I noticed a crowd gathered outside an office window.  In this window was a TV, set to face the road quite deliberately, and offering the Cricket Test Natch being played 'somewhere in England!'  I was amazed!  A crowd of 40 or more people were standing watching this event, with a City of London policeman ensuring a path  was clear for passersby!  Incredible!  Some of the men were actually standing in the gutter to watch cricket at lunchtime!  Goodness gracious!  Never would this happen in Edinburgh, unless a football match was being shown obviously, but cricket?  Don't be ridiculous.  When I began to work in North Finchley in 1975 again I was surprised to hear working men getting excited over cricket.  It would never happen among normal Scotsmen.

In '75 I settled after a rough month or so in Swiss Cottage, in a slum that I believe no longer exists, I think it may have fallen down.  I would look to the newsagent for news of Scottish football and be disappointed.  I could get papers from Egypt, France, Spain, even the USA but not from Scotland 400 miles up the road!  The radio, a small very cheap radio, offered London and national news, and later what was then the excellent World Service of the BBC, but little concerning Scottish affairs.  Had I learned several languages I could have been knowledgeable of world football everywhere but north of the border.  It was as if Scotland did not exist!  This has not changed.  

Getting the Routemaster to work showed me a different culture, and one that would not work up north.  There were two types of bus stop, a bus stop where buses stopped, and a 'request stop,' where you had to stick your hand out or they just passed by.  Edinburgh drivers then, and most likely now, can tell if you want the bus and stop for you.  The 6:09 bus, when driven and conducted by a regular able team, always came on time and did the job happily.  However on many occasions a wee black fellow was the conductor.  This driver would stop at all stops, irrespective of passengers or not, and wait until conductor pressed the bell.  Conductor, who never collected fares, merely stood and stared out the door.  Driver sat there awaiting the bell and refused to move until it rang.  Incredible!  I would be more 'assertive' today than I was then. 

I had spent a year between 1971-72 in Notting Hill and after returning north I found Edinburgh old and boring.  Shops opened at 9, closed at 12, reopened after lunch at 1 and closed at 5, in London I had a 24 hour shop around the corner!  When the Indians were chased out of West Africa by the Idi Amin's ( a King of Scotland apparently) and arrived in the city they changed it overnight for the better.  Shops opened at 8 am, and closed at 6!  What a revelation!  Some even    stayed open later and more, they stocked exotic fruits like peppers and eggplants.  Incredible to think so many things had only been found in the expensive shops if found at all.  

One culture that destroys Scotland is the hangover from Northern Ireland.  The sectarian divide between protestant and catholic, neither side seeking God of course, which lingers throughout the land but is very dominant in the west of Scotland.  Both sides are at fault and for most it makes no difference to their lives as whatever and whoever you are the treatment offered is the same.  However there are quite a few who relish the difference and would happily contribute to trouble if it arose.  The vile history of Rangers and Celtic, the 'Old Firm,' encourages such attitudes and only by removing the sectarian bias from both clubs can this ever be eradicated.  They decry this as that is the cause of their wealth, and anyway, isn't it all the other guys fault?  In England it is difficult to explain this divide to those who cannot understand it, and no wonder. 

The difference between two cities can be very wide,  Six miles from here is a similar sized town full of 'London overspill,' where vast numbers commute regularly down to the big city.  Their town has an 'London attitude,' while here we are all 'nice,' well usually.  Further north and the town there is much more rural and the thought that most of the locals are related is difficult to remove from the head.   That's country life for you I suppose.   This blog encompasses the world, and the cultures vary enormously, imagine if you will towns full of Yorkshiremen!  Just imagine that!  On second thoughts......



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Saturday, 5 January 2013

One Dreich Morn



While Australians sit on the beach grumbling about the 40% of heat I wandered across the damp park looking for a chink in the gray clouds above.  They fight fires in Tasmania which destroy homes and lifestyles, around here we light fires in the streets just to keep warm!  It's no fair so it is!  I was inspired this morning to sit here after what passes for breakfast and watch the folks outside cough their way to market.  By lunchtime the dank atmosphere has lightened to allowed me out for the cheap veg.  "Happy New Year," greetings came from the veg stall, desperate to keep their loyal customers.  (The other stall has many more for no good reason)  It made no difference to me, I am still using up the left overs in the fridge!



Glory be!  The afternoon saw the sun appear and left us with this lovely dusk view, Once I chopped of the view of the back streets at the bottom of the picture.  It is always a good piece of advice to ;look up' rather than around you.  The place you stand may be a dump but the sky almost always looks good, unless the clouds are gray of course!  Tonight the sky was fab, and hopefully it will stay this way, well, not when dark I mean.

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